Mr. Speaker, on Sunday, April 9 I attended ceremonies in Toronto to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Katyn massacre.
For many the name Katyn has little meaning. However, to the Polish community the name is associated with a crime without parallel.
On September 17, 1939 forces of the Soviet Union crossed the eastern border of Poland on the pretence that they would protect the Polish people. More than 15,000 Polish officers were sent to three Soviet secret police prison camps. On April 13, 1943 authorities discovered the mass graves of approximately 14,500 Polish officers in the Katyn forest, a short distance from Smolensk, Russia.
It took the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 to create an atmosphere where the truth would finally be revealed.
To honour the memory of the Katyn victims, memorials have been built and wreaths will be laid on April 13 because these are crimes so odious that even the lapse of time cannot lessen their impact. Katyn is not only a Polish issue but one that affects the conscience of the entire world.