Ukrainian News | 06Sep2007 | Editorial

Furman hounded until death

It can, in all honesty, be said that the War Crimes Unit of the Department of Justice hounded the late Josef Furman right until his death.

Furman passed away Aug. 31, 2007 after suffering a stroke. At the time of his death he was facing the revocation of his citizenship by a secret cabinet committee. His lawyer, Eric Hafemann, had received a letter signed by Citizenship and Immigration Minister Dianne Finley that the revocation of Furman's citizenship had been recommended to the Governor-In-Council about a month before the unfortunate man passed away. This, despite the fact he was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and incapable of communicating with his lawyer. This, despite the fact he was never charged with any crime. This, despite the fact he was found to have "misrepresented" himself upon coming to Canada under a most questionable decision.

Perhaps the decision to bring his citizenship up to the Governor-in Council was a ploy to drop the revocation process against him as was done with Wasyl Odynsky and Vladimir Katriuk.

Or perhaps the government really meant to revoke his citizenship as they did with Helmut Oberlander and Jacob Fast. We will never know.

What we do know is that the citizenship revocation process against Furman should never have been started in the first place because, as with all the Denaturalization and Deportation cases mounted against people from Ukraine, the government did not have a single shred of evidence of any actual crime. What we do know is that, unlike the other D and D cases, Furman never admitted he had served as a guard, but said he worked as a slave labourer on a farm throughout World War II. And he had the documents to prove it too. However, the judge in his case decided his documents were faked, even though the government's own witnesses attested to their authenticity, while accepting instead some photocopies relating to a man with a different name altogether.

What we also know is that that revocation of citizenship process has been found to be a violation of Section 7 of the Charter of Rights, in an actual judicial ruling (that of Justice R .D. Reilly of the Ontario Superior Court on the Oberlander case), as opposed to a mere "finding" in Citizenship Court.

Another thing we know is that the Standing Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship and Immigration recommended changes that would make the citizenship revocation process compliant with the Charter and that the Conservative Party of Canada promised to implement these changes if elected.

Instead the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration sends out these revocation notices.

What we also know is that the War Crimes Unit of the Department of Justice spends millions and millions of dollars hounding these innocent Ukrainians, yet does nothing about four people -- Joseph Riwash, Nahun Kohn, Israel Roitman, and Nadia Otsep -- who have admitted to committing crimes against humanity, while serving with Soviet security forces or partisan units, in their own writings or in interviews with the media.

Surely admitting to burying someone alive, or jumping graves that unwilling conscripts had been forced to dig for themselves, to ascertain that those inside were dead, constitutes grounds for further investigation.

Surely the War Crimes Unit must be aware of the crimes against humanity that were committed by the NKVD and the KGB, including the genocidal starvation of 7 million Ukrainians, in the Holodomor of 1932-33.

But perhaps the War Crimes Unit is reluctant to investigate members of the NKVD and KGB who have found a safe haven in Canada, because, by their own admission (in a 1995 press backgrounder) the cases against the Ukrainians were opened only after the ex-KGB obliged Canada's War Crimes Unit with their own files.

Maybe one does not bite the hand that feeds one. But where then, is justice?