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[Blog] GENOCIDE : “NEVER AGAIN”

Dr Michael Atchia

WHY COVER THIS SUBJECT? 

As author, Ann Clwyd said, “Genocide is the responsibility of the entire world”. The entire planet has a solemn responsibility to deal swiftly with EXTREMISTS and to neutralize their threat to civilization. 

What is Genocide? It is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in completely or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group. It is inhuman, immoral, illegal and completely unacceptable. It involves violence against people simply because of their difference.

Historical perspective. Throughout History, we have seen groups of misguided men, of all continents, of all ‘religion’ overtaken by transient madness, committing genocide. Always after genocide, the world says “never again”. There had been so many examples, so many duly forgotten. For the sake of remembrance, let us recall a few:

•    Nazi Germans exterminating more than 5 million Jews during WWII, 1940-45.
•    the Hutus massacred 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1993. 
•    the massacres of Muslims by Christians during the Crusades, and during the recapture of Spain from the Moslems; 
•    in 1915, leaders of the Turkish government set in motion a plan to expel and massacre Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire. Out of about 2 million Armenians at the time of the massacre by the early 1920s, when the massacres and deportations finally ended, some 1.5 million of Turkey’s Armenians were dead, with many more forcibly removed from the country;
•    the elimination of the Amerindians (‘Red Indians’) by settlers from Europe. Let us hear Chief Seattle: “My people are few. They resemble the scattering trees of a storm-swept plain...There was a time when our people covered the land as the waves of a wind-ruffled sea cover its shell-paved floor, but that time long since passed away with the greatness of tribes that are now but a mournful memory.” . Similarly for the Aborigines of Australia, the traditional indigenous people of the Amazon basin and indigenous people from other parts of the world.
•    Slavery, a form of cultural genocide, commonly practiced in the ancient world, but in recent times (during 15th to 19th centuries) practiced mainly on people of African origin, uprooted and sold into forced labour, including  here in Mauritius; 
•    Stalin’s Gulags in the USSR; the ‘imprisonment’ of the Palestinian people till today, denied return to their land, denied the 2-state solution one being an independent Palestine; the strongly uneven world trade which enriches many and leave as many (especially producers of basic commodities) living close to starvation level.

RECENTLY. The so-called Islamic state, ISIS, has forced non-Islamists into bondage and slavery, the beginning of a genocide. Already, several images have emerged of Christian children beheaded by ISIS, merely for being Christian. Women were raped, then murdered, or sold, and men hanged. These are the people who were warned - convert to Islam of be put to the sword. The Iraq-based leader of the Chaldean Church, Patriarch Louis Sako, says Iraqi Christians faced a 'human catastrophe'. A world coalition fortunately defeated the ISIS movement, but has the ideology remained?

The ROHINGYA PEOPLE are from the ‘province’ or ‘state’ of Rakhine within the Republic of Myanmar, also known as Burma, bordering Bangladesh and Thailand.

The United Nations  and the international community has called upon Myanmar to put a stop to what is described as  ‘ethnic cleansing’, which is the action of wiping out a group of people by another group based on differences such as race, religion or language. The Republic of Myanmar, using its army, has been driving out some of its own citizens from the Rakhine state, on the apparent basis that these citizens are Muslims. The number of refugees reached up to 800,000 by the end of 2017. So far, no solution has been found and these one million people face the coming monsoon season in very fragile camps. The solution of a separate Rohingya Republic (from this author) on a small portion of territory was strongly rejected by the Myanmar side.

THE CONTINUED NON-RECOGNITION OF PALESTINE by Israel, people living under siege for the last 50 years. In mid May 2018 at least 58 Palestinians died, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, during protests over the Trump administration's controversial relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Most of the dead were killed by Israeli fire near the border. Israeli drones also dropped tear gas in an effort to disperse protesters. Palestinian officials accused Israel of committing a "horrific massacre" and called on the international community to immediately intervene. 

WHAT TO DO?

PEACEKEEPING. In practice, the peacekeeping forces of the UNITED NATIONS are NOT ALWAYS effective. They are not set up fast enough, in sufficient numbers and are NOT properly armed and funded. Most importantly, the UN mandate for quickly setting up and sending a force to areas of conflict is often incomplete and slow due to political disagreement. With the result that conflicts still pollute this Planet of ours, people die, children and old people suffer, living infrastructures are destroyed. It is necessary to improve this situation. 

Love one another. Today we must pray for those being persecuted, we must protest by word and deed, including at the political level through our voice at the United Nations. 

We must teach in our schools the culture of peace and when conflict arise that of reconciliation and forgiveness. 

On 20th anniversary of Rwandan genocide, Pope Francis urged reconciliation. He said, "reconciliation and the healing of wounds must remain the priority of the church in Rwanda”; but nothing they do can be as effective as being united in love and allowing "the Gospel to touch and convert their hearts.”

All religions teach the culture of peace and, when there has been conflict, the principle of reconciliation.

 

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