19th Century Humanities

Genocide: The Destroyer of Hope

Gen·o·cide (jn-sd)  n.      the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial,political, or cultural group.

Africa is a continent with rich cultural diversity, and this diversity would seem to be the cause of disagreement, conflict, violence, and war. But it is not the diversity of the people that causes the conflict, which often leads to genocide. The common factors of the happenings of genocide can include: extreme poverty, failed government systems, and dependence upon wealthy resources used to fund armies and campaigns.

Genocide, however, is discussed as the root cause of "horrific violence and destruction." For millions of people in Africa, genocide is the reality that the people of any gender, age, and religion must endure.

Genocide is globally, but it is particularly focused in Africa due to it's drastic difference with the world. People tend to see what they expect to see of the world, but it never occurs to them that terrible things can look pretty and that they're actually beautiful. That is why, as the proverb says, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."



The text below is a timeline that notes the major cases considered as genocides, responding more to those with a more widespread threat to violence against groups. It does not consist of only the Rwanda genocide, instead, it focuses more on the comparison of the past history.

1900: Raphael Lemkin

Who is Raphael Lemkin? He was one of the many who was exposed to the history of Ottoman attacks against Armenians. But what makes him important? 
Raphael Lemkin believed that each political group in each country needs legal protection. In 1933, he started working on a book to introduce safeguards on ethnics, religion, and other forums associated with political social groups. As time passed by, he encountered trouble while living in Poland, and decided to escape to United States. There, he started working on his book, and in that book, he introduced a new word to the society and the world--- genocide.

“By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group. This new word, coined by the author to denote an old practice in its modern development, is made from the ancient Greek word genos (race, tribe) and the Latin cide(killing)…. Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. Genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group.”

1933: Adolf Hitler
Generally, people take history for granted. But with the appointment of Adolf Hitler and his actions in the Nazi Party, it turned history around. A massacre it was. So cruelly and brutally, innocent people discriminated by Adolf Hitler were slashed to death, mainly the Jewish were the ones who had suffered from great death. It was as if no humans were existent in Hitler's eyes. People who were discriminated were less than human. Raphael Lemkin had tried proposing legal measures to protect groups, but it failed to receive support. What people see now, looking back at history, is the mistake that Adolf Hitler had done during his reign of power. His control in Germany of the Nazi Party has made the turning point in history, which brings us to the Germany today, still clashed in the corruption of politics. 
The Holocaust was inevitably the most horrible event that happened in history. Rooted from the Greek word "holokauston", it comes with the meaning that means "sacrifice by fire." Referring to the massive slaughter of Jewish people, forced labor and murders were dealt with cruelly. A total of 11 million has been killed, and how much more evilness could this picture portray?

1941: World War II
On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the soviet Union. Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, stated in August 1941,
"The aggressor ... retaliates by the most frightful cruelties. As his Armies advance, whole districts are being exterminated. Scores of thousands - literally scores of thousands - of executions in cold blood are being perpetrated by the German Police-troops upon the Russian patriots who defend their native soil. Since the Mongol invasions of Europe in the Sixteenth Century, there has never been methodical, merciless butchery on such a scale, or approaching such a scale.And this is but the beginning. Famine and pestilence have yet to follow in the bloody ruts of Hitler's tanks.

We are in the presence of a crime without a name."

And with this statement ---- a crime without a name----- Raphael Lemkin mentions his word, "genocide" again.

1950-1987: Cold War
Massive crimes against civilian populations started becoming more and more common throughout the years after the second World War. During the cold war, political conflict were rising among nations, primarily the Communists, Soviet Union, and Western powers, United States. Clashing participants expressed conflict through nuclear arm races and multiple nuclear missiles that were placed in opposing countries. Tensive threats were spread around in full-scale. Many staggered behind with their economic crisis crashing one on top of the other and the whole nation being impacted significantly even after the Cold War ended. Most of the casualties caused during training accidents, while others lost their lives while serving on freedom's frontier. Although compared with other wars, Cold War did not generally produce more casualties, but considering the downfall of the whole world itself and for those who sacrificed, the question of whether "genocide" is coined in this event remains.

1988: Genocide Convention
On November 4, 1988, U.S President Ronald Reagan signed the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

President's remarks during the day of signing:
"We gather today to bear witness to the past and learn from its awful example to make sure we are not condemned to relive its crimes. I am today signing the Genocide Convention Implementation Act of 1987, which will permit the United States to become party to the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide that was approved by the UN General Assembly in 1948.
During the Second World War, mankind witnessed the most heinous of crimes-the Holocaust. After the war, the nations of the world came together and drafted the genocide convention as a howl of anguish and an effort to prevent and punish future acts of genocide. The United States signed the convention and in 1949, President Truman requested the Senate's advice and consent to ratification.
In 1986, the Senate gave its consent conditioned upon enactment of implementing legislation. We finally close the circle today by signing the implementing legislation that will permit the United States to ratify the convention and formally join 97 nations of the world in condemning genocide and treating it as a crime.
I am delighted to fulfill the promise made by Harry TI-uman to all the peoples of the world-and especially the Jewish people. I remember what the Holocaust meant to me as I watched the films of the death camps after the Nazi defeat in World War Two. Slavs, Gypsies, and others died in the fires as well. And we've seen other horrors this century-in the Ukraine, in Cambodia, in Ethiopia. They only renew our rage and righteous fury and make this moment all the more significant for me and all Americans

With this being signed, punishments will be held to those people who purposely destroys a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. The act defines genocide as acting with a "specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group."

In the treaty, it quoted:
"It will be a Federal crime of genocide to commit, or attempt to commit, specified acts on members of such groups. These acts are:
  • Killing;
  • Causing serious bodily injury;
  • Causing permanent mental impairment through drugs, torture, or similar techniques;
  • Subjecting to conditions of life intended to cause physical destruction;
  • Imposing measures to prevent births; and
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Genocide would also include trying to prevent births within such a group or using force to remove children from the group.
When death results from a crime of genocide, the penalty will be life imprisonment and a fine of up to $1 million.
In other instances, the penalty will be a fine of up to $1 million and 20 years in prison. Anyone who incited another to violate the law could be fined up to $500,000 and imprisoned up to 5 years."

1991-1995: Former Yugoslavia

The conflict in Bosnia brought in the worst massacres and fightings into Europe. As many as eight thousand Bosniak people were murdered by Serbian forces in the town called Srebrenica. The reason why it was known as Yugoslav War because it was fought between people of the former Yugoslavia, mainly between two sides, the Serbs and the Craots & Bosniaks. These were caused by bitter ethnic conflicts and factional fightings between the two sides that separated them in various stages. The war ended later on and resulted in massive economic downfall and also creation of new independent states.

1993: Resolution 827
Recognizing the need of bringing a resolution to the Europe's dealiest conflicts after World War II, the Yugoslav War, the UN Security Council came up with a resolution and established international criminal tribunal that allows them to prosecute violation made about crimes that goes against humanity. This jurisdiction is limited only to the crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. 
In its resolution, it stated in one of its clauses that the security council "decides hereby to establish an international tribunal for the sole purpose of prosecuting persons responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in the territory of the former Yugoslavia between 1 January 1991 and a date to be determined by the Security Council upon the restoration of peace and to this end to adopt the statute of the International Tribunal."

1994: Genocide in Rwanda
One of the worst atrocities in history of mankind took place in Rwanda where the Hutu and Tutss fought each other for political power. This era was thrived with high-speed transportation and communication where news spread fast through broadcasts on radios. The events however were recognized by the UN and the situation was attempted by the UN to be solved, but it was proven to be too risky. The movie Hotel Rwanda portrays the situation perfectly. In only three months, one million people were brutally murdered. Inspired by his love for his family, Paul Rusesabagina, casted by Don Cheadle, summons courage to save the lives over a thousand refugees by granting them shelter in the hotel he manages. 

2004: Darfur
For the first time in the U.S. government history, the incident in Darfur was referred to as a "genocide". On September 9, 2004, Colin Powell stated in the testimony that the genocide in Darfur is, "a consistent and widespread pattern of atrocities (killings, rapes, burning of villages) committed by [Janjaweed]  and government forces against non-Arab villagers'. With this, he furthermore stated, "we concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the [Janjaweed] bear responsibility... The evidence leads us to the conclusion that genocide has occurred and may still be occurring in Darfur. We believe the evidence corroborates the specific intent of the perpetrators to destroy ‘a group in whole or in part."