Dr. Srdja Trifkovic is an associate of the Rockford Institute and the visiting professor of international relations at the University of Banja Luka, in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He was recently invited to speak about the state of affairs in the Balkans at the University of British Columbia. The local Serbian community had also invited Dr. Trifkovic to visit Edmonton, following his UBC lecture. He was scheduled to address his supporters this Saturday, February 26 at the University of Alberta and speak about the causes and consequences of Serbia’s decline, and the alleged return of the neo-Ottomans to the political stage in the region, among other things.
All these plans were put on hold because Dr. Trifkovic was denied entry into Canada due to his alleged links with the war-time leaders of the Bosnian Serbs. The organizers of his lecture tour complained bitterly and argued that the decision taken by the Immigration Canada had infringed upon the right of the freedom of speech.
I believe that the decision of the Immigration Canada to deny Dr. Trifkovic entry into this country has merits. I do not think that such decision could be disputed on the bases of the freedom of speech and the necessity to have a dialogue on a given topic. Both freedom of speech and the need to have a dialogue could not be taken as absolute categories. Denying genocide committed in Srebrenica in 1995 in a manner Dr. Trifkovic does could not and should not be presented and rationalised as practicing freedom of speech. The judgement of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in the Hague had clearly categorized Srebrenica as the crime of genocide. Such decision was supported by the overwhelming evidence. One should, of course, have the right to one’s own opinion but not the right to one’s own facts. By denying the genocide in Srebrenica Dr. Trifkovic and his supporters are indeed claiming the right to have their own facts. Moreover, he has repeatedly denied crimes committed by the Serbian security forces in Kosovo in the late 1990s as well. Such denial flies in the face of the evidence presented both to the Serbian courts and to the ICTY. On February 23 the Hague Tribunal handed a 27 year-long sentence to the retired general of the Serbian police, Vlastimir Djordjevic, for the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed against the Kosovo Albanian civilians in 1999.
I have always been in favour of a dialogue and a critical evaluation of evidence. The problem, however, is that Dr. Trifkovic and his supporters do not want to have a dialogue. As any nationalist would do, they see their version of the past as true and valid and demand that other believe it too. While calling for a dialogue they shout at their critics rather than talk to them, and then have the audacity to call such shouting the expression of the freedom of speech.