Tag Archives: Genocide

If we lose the Amazon, our world will lose its future

Brazil is voting to legalize the destruction of the Amazon forest and the extermination of Indigenous peoples, the forest’s last line of defense

By Vanessa Andreotti   Published 8-25-2021 by openDemocracy

A group of Huni Kui youth ready to join the protest in Brasilia | Elvis Huni Kui

It is not just the people of Brazil who will suffer in the face of their government’s smartly coordinated attack on humanity’s future. All of us, across the world, are set to suffer the consequences of the tragedy unfolding before us in the Amazon.

You may be asking, ‘Why should I care?’ In a world of competing crises, it’s certainly a fair question. But the future of the Amazon rainforest must be a priority – if we lose it, we lose our future. Continue reading

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106 years and 44 days of the Armenian Genocide

The US decision to recognise the Armenian Genocide has urgent relevance for the country in the wake of last year’s war in Nagorno Karabakh

By Avetis Harutyunyan  Published 5-7-2021 by openDemocracy

A view of Yerevan, the capital city of the Republic of Armenia, with the backdrop of Mount Ararat (locally known as Masis). Photo: Serouj Ourishian/Wikimedia Commons

“You have not seen Mount Ararat how I saw it growing up. I promise, one day I will take you back home.”

Since childhood, my grandfather grew up listening to these words of his great-grandfather, Baghdasar, who fled to Armenia with his family during the 1915 genocide.

My grandfather recollects how Baghdasar would tell stories of their home in Bayazet, or Doğubeyazıt in modern Turkey, in the shadow of Mount Ararat, and promise his grandchildren that one day they would return to their home. In 1915, to save his family from the massacres, Baghdasar closed the doors of his house, crossed the Araks River, which flows along the borders of Armenia and Turkey, and ended up in the Armenian city of Gavar. According to my grandfather, when Baghdasar died, he still had the key to his old house in his pocket. Continue reading

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Facebook: Genocide is Cool but Don’t Threaten our Profits

“Facebook’s willingness to block credible news sources also stands in sharp distinction to the company’s poor track record in addressing the spread of hateful content and disinformation on the platform.” — Tim O’Connor, Amnesty International Australia

By Alan Macleod  Published 2-19-2021 by MintPress News

Photo: Anthony Quintano/flickr?CC

Australia’s 18 million Facebook users woke up yesterday to find that, without warning, local and global news sites were unavailable, meaning that they could not view or share news at all. Facebook users across the world were also unable to read or access any Australian news publications. The tech giant had taken the step of essentially shutting down its site and “unfriending” an entire nation in response to the government’s proposals to tax them.

Lawmakers in Canberra had drawn up plans to “level the playing field” between social media giants and the traditional press. In practice, this would mean Facebook and Google handing over a sizable chunk of their advertising profits to the government to subsidize struggling news outlets, on whom they depend for content. Continue reading

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Critics Call Upcoming Pentagon Visit by Indonesian Defense Minister—Accused of Horrific Atrocities—a ‘Human Rights Catastrophe’

Prabowo Subianto—who led a notorious commando unit implicated in genocidal violence—was invited to Washington by Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-15-2020

Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto. Photo: Prabowo Subianto / CC BY-SA

Human rights advocates this week sounded the alarm on a meeting scheduled for Friday between American Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, a former U.S.-trained general in an elite army unit implicated in genocidal violence and other atrocities in East Timor, West Papua, Jakarta, and elsewhere in the archipelago nation in the late decades of the last century.

Since 2000, Prabowo has been banned from entering the United States by the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. However, Esper last week invited the 68-year-old to Washington as the Trump administration seeks closer relations with the nation of 268 million people in a bid to counter China’s growing clout. Continue reading

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Netanyahu, Trump, and Kushner Named in ‘War Crimes’ Lawsuit Filed by Palestinians in US Court

The suit claims that the behavior of U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a “violation of the Nuremberg principles.”

By for Common Dreams. Published 2-26-2020

Gaza 2014. Photo via Facebook

A Washington attorney on Tuesday filed suit against U.S. President Donald Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, White House advisor Jared Kushner, and others for their involvement in “the denationalization and dehumanization of the Palestinian population” in occupied Palestine.

The 175-page suit (pdf), filed on behalf of a group of Palestinians and Americans, claims that the actions of the defendants, most of whom are U.S. and Israeli officials, “have aided and abetted the commission of numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity.” Continue reading

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Jair Bolsonaro accused of inciting genocide before the International Criminal Court

A complaint against President Jair Messias Bolsonaro has been presented in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. This adds international pressure to his continuous attacks on human rights, indigenous peoples and environmentalist NGOs

By openDemocracy. Published 11-29-2019

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, seen here at the U.N. General Assembly’s 74th session on Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo: Cia Pak/U.N.)

A group of Brazilian lawyers, along with a powerful human rights group and some former ministers, denounced President Jair Bolsonaro before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for inciting the “genocide of indigenous peoples” of Brazil and committing “crimes against humanity”.

The Arns Commission and the Human Rights Defense Collective delivered a note to Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, this last Wednesday. Lawyers promoting the complaint reported to democraciaAbierta and other media that the document is 60 pages long and identifies 33 actions and official speeches of Jair Bolsonaro that might have a criminal character, as established by the Rome Statute, ratified by Brazil in 2002. Continue reading

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There’s a dark political history to language that strips people of their dignity

 

Baltimore’s inner harbor. Photo: needpix

William A. Donohue, Michigan State University

Dehumanizing language often precedes genocide.

One tragic example: Extreme dehumanizing language was a strong contributor to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. As I have written, the Hutu majority used a popular radio station to continually refer to Tutsi tribal members, a minority in Rwanda, as “cockroaches.”

As support for this characterization grew among Hutus, it essentially stripped away any moral obligation to see Tutsis as fellow humans. They were just vermin that needed to be eradicated. Continue reading

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Intensifying ‘Genocidal Policies of Collective Punishment,’ Israel Shuts Down Gaza’s Main Cargo Crossing

Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, called the move “a new Israeli crime against humanity.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-10-2018

Israel announced on Monday new restrictions for the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main cargo entry point into Gaza. (Photo: David Katz/The Israel Project/Flickr)

In a move condemned by human rights advocates as another of the Israeli government’s “genocidal policies of collective punishment” in Gaza, Israel has announced stringent new import rules for the territory’s main cargo crossing.

As Israel and Egypt have maintained a naval, aerial, and land blockade of the occupied territory for more than a decade, the Kerem Shalom crossing is how most commercial goods and foreign aid reach Gazans. Under the new restrictions, only food, medicine, and “humanitarian equipment” can come through the entry point. Continue reading

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Will anyone protect the Rohingya?

 

Photo: Foreign and Commonwealth Office via Wikimedia Commons

Vincent A. Auger, Western Illinois University

Since August, the Rohingya, an ethnic minority in Myanmar, has faced what a United Nations official called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Recent reports describe a campaign by Myanmar security forces to drive the Rohingya from the country permanently. Hundreds of thousands have fled to camps in neighboring Bangladesh, creating a new refugee crisis.

This is exactly the type of atrocity that the United Nations vowed to combat in 2005, when it asserted a “responsibility to protect” civilian populations from genocidal violence. Yet, little has been done.

Why has “the responsibility to protect” failed, and can the Rohingya be helped?

Responsibility to protect

The “responsibility to protect” doctrine resulted from the humanitarian catastrophes of the 1990s: Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and especially Rwanda. The world struggled to balance respect for state sovereignty with the imperative to prevent the slaughter of civilians. In 2001, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty issued a report redefining the problem. It stated that states had primary responsibility to protect their populations. But, if they could not or would not, then that duty could be exercised by the international community.

This concept was affirmed by the United Nations at the 2005 World Summit. However, my research on the origins and implementation of the responsibility to protect has demonstrated that this consensus was superficial. Many states, including the United States and China, gave lip service to a “responsibility to protect,” but were unwilling or unable to implement it. The conditions under which the responsibility to protect could be invoked remain deliberately ambiguous.

Words in action: Libya and Cote d’Ivoire

Despite this tepid support, in 2011, the United Nations authorized two operations in countries where civilians were at risk.

In Cote d’Ivoire, United Nations peacekeeping forces intervened to remove the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, who had lost an election and was using the country’s security force to attack civilians in an attempt to remain in power. U.N. forces helped oversee a political transition and maintain security. This intervention was widely seen at the U.N. as a success.

The other intervention was in Libya, after the country’s leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to slaughter those who opposed his regime. The intervention – led by Britain, France and the United States – successfully prevented Gaddafi’s slaughter of civilians. But it also led to the collapse of his regime, his murder by rebel forces and continuing conflict in post-Gaddafi Libya.

Failure to protect

Despite humanitarian crises in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, the responsibility to protect has not been used by the U.N. since 2011 to justify intervention. The Libya case helps to explain this: Once the intervening forces helped overthrow Gaddafi, Russia and China declared that the “responsibility to protect” was merely a pretext for the West to conduct regime change. Those countries have repeatedly vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Implementing the “responsibility to protect” faces other challenges as well. One is that an intervention to protect civilians may encounter armed resistance from those who are committing the atrocities, as would likely be the case in Syria. A larger, more capable international military force would be necessary to defeat them. Many states will be deterred by the greater costs and risks of such an intervention.

Another challenge is that states and international organizations have multiple goals and priorities. They may not wish to jeopardize relations with the offending regime, or risk other national interests, in order to stop violence. They may even help the regime that is committing the atrocities, as the Russian government has done in Syria, to advance those interests.

Finally, a successful intervention may lead to a costly commitment to provide long-term security and relief – a “responsibility to rebuild,” so to speak. For most states, these potential costs of intervention far outweigh their willingness to act to save lives.

What can we do for the Rohingya?

All these challenges to implementing the responsibility to protect are evident in the Rohingya case. Myanmar authorities have resisted any international role in the crisis, raising the cost of potential intervention. In any case, other states have little interest in taking action. China is shielding Myanmar from pressure in the U.N. Security Council and is trying to pull Myanmar into its sphere of influence. President Trump has not made Myanmar a priority for American foreign policy. Russia, India and other states prefer to work with the regime to further their own interests in the region.

What can be done, then?

Economic and political sanctions against the Myanmar military are a possibility. But without Chinese participation, they would have limited effectiveness. Sanctions might also lead the Myanmar military to reverse recent democratic reforms in the country.

An alternative would be for the United States and other countries to sharply increase aid to Bangladesh, which is hosting the fleeing Rohingya civilians. They might also consider accepting some Rohingya as refugees. However, this could be problematic given the current debate on refugees in the United States and many other countries.

The ConversationIn the longer term, diplomatic and financial pressure, as well as the possibility of indictment for crimes against humanity, may convince Myanmar’s military leaders to cease the ethnic cleansing and allow some Rohingya to return. Unfortunately, no international cavalry is likely to ride to the Rohingya’s rescue.

Vincent A. Auger, Professor of Political Science, Western Illinois University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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29 Years After Genocide, Kurds Still Suffer

Occupy World Writes commemorates the anniversary of the Halabja genocide

Written by Carol Benedict

Black Friday.

“Halabja, standing against oppression.
Joy and happiness permeated the air in Halabja.
Smiles never faded from the lips of the ever oppressed people of this town.
The Iraqi fighter planes carried out the chemical bombing of Halabja,
and some hours later the news came that Khormal, too, had suffered chemical bombing.
The sound of laughter died down.
Children sought the shelter of their mothers’ arms.
March 16, was the beginning of the great crime of history.
On Thursday March 17, 1988, and on Friday March 18, there took place one of
the most shameful and fearful inhumane crimes of history in Halabja. The town of
Halabja was bombed with chemical and cluster bombs more than twenty times
by Iraqi fighter planes.
In every street and alley women and children rolled over one another.
The sound of crying and groans rose from every house in the town.
Many families who were sleeping happily in their beds in their liberated town,
were subjected before sunrise to chemical bombing,
and poisonous gases did not even allow them to rise from their beds.
Such was the situation on the bloody Friday of Halabja.”
from Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iraq

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Shoes of Child Victim of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

March 16, 1988:  A chemical weapon attack on the civilian population of Halabja killed an estimated 5,000 persons immediately and injured another 7,000 – 10,000. In the aftermath of the attack, thousands more died of complications, disease and birth defects.  The attack was and remains today the largest chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in human history.

According to an account in KurdishPain.com, written by Huner Anwer, “The gas attack took place over a period of approximately five hours.  The attack was preceded by the dropping of conventional weapons and by the dropping of paper in order to determine the direction of the wind.  The dropping of the conventional weapons led the citizens of Halabja to retreat to basements and shelters for protection which made the gas more effective as it settled into low lying areas.”

Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Halabja before the attack. Photo by Zaxo (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

“Survivors spoke most often of the gas smelling like sweet apples, but others said it was more like garlic and still some others like the gas used in a kitchen stove. This suggests multiple chemicals were used, including mustard gas, the nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX. Some victims died almost immediately, others were laughing as they died; still others experienced intense burning, blistering and vomiting,” Anwer writes.

Topographical map of Kurdistan - Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia.

Topographical map of Kurdistan – Iraq. Halabja is on the far right, in the mountainous region. Note location in area to trap the chemicals used. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The poison gas attack on Halabja was just part of what has become known as the Anfal Campaign. It began unofficially in 1986 and continued until 1989: officially it was conducted between February 23 and September 6, 1988. It was led by a cousin of Saddam Hussein, Ali Hassan al-Majid, who became known as “Chemical Ali” as a result of the atrocities. The Campaign consisted of:

  • the mass executions and the mass disappearance of tens of thousands of persons;
  • the widespread use of chemical weapons;
  • the destruction of over 4,500 Kurdish and at least 31 Assyrian villages;
  • the death of over 182,000 persons;
  • the displacement of over a million of the country’s estimated 3.5 million Kurdish population.

“(There is legal and convincing proof that) the Kurdish population meets the requirement under the Genocide Conventions as an ethnic group. The court has no other conclusion than that these attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq,”  declared The Hague in a court ruling from December of 2005.

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried - victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack - Halabja, Kurdistan - Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bakhtiar Awmar points to grave where his father, mother and sister are buried – victims of the 1988 Chemical Attack – Halabja, Kurdistan – Iraq. Photo By Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We have talked about this issue in a previous story, Honor and Dignity. The struggles of the Iraqi Kurdish population, like that of all Kurds living in the region, continues to this day. Finding a solution rather than a continued assault on what has become recognized as the largest ethnic group on Planet Earth with no borders, no home, no country and no rights becomes the DUTY of the world. Current estimates place the Kurdish population at 30 – 35 million people.

Since this tragedy, the world has continued to witness the use of chemical weapons to exterminate populations. March 14, 2014 marks the 3rd anniversary of the Syrian crisis, also involving the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish and other populations. These attacks are carried out by government forces. The Ghouta chemical attack occurred on August 21, 2013, during the Syrian civil war, when several opposition-controlled or disputed areas of the Ghouta suburbs around Damascus were struck by rockets containing sarin. Hundreds were killed in the attack, which took place over a short span of time in the early morning. Estimates of the death toll are upwards of 1,729 fatalities.

We wanted to construct a list of genocides since 1988 to demonstrate that no resolution has come. When researching the genocides across the globe that have occurred since this event, we were overwhelmed with the list. Rather than diminish any of these tragedies, we found this summary, which also includes genocides from 1945 forward. World Genocide Since 1945 {PDF}

Genocide is the worst dimension of despicable behavior the human race can sink to. It has no justification in ethics, morals, religions, war, terror or policies. Occupy World Writes joins all those who call for an end to this crime against humanity, and we support a resolution marking this day as International Day Against the Use of Chemical Weapons, so that the world never forgets the injustices that have been administered on innocent victims and brings honor to the victims of Halabja.

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide - 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq - Erbil - Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Exhumed Clothing of Victims of Anfal Genocide – 3rd International Conference on Mass Graves in Iraq – Erbil – Iraq. Photo by Adam Jones, Ph.D. (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

We call on the international community to recognize the need for an immediate solution to “the Kurdish Problem.” This would help alleviate pressures in Syria, called Rojava by the Kurdish people, or Western Kurdistan,  Northern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Turkey; Southern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iraq; and Eastern Kurdistan, the Kurdish area in Iran. We implore the world to find a means to an end of genocide the world over immediately, and those responsible must be brought to justice.

For a completely separate perspective on Iraqi children suffering to this day from the Bush Administration’s policy of “Mission Accomplished,” read Weapons of Mass Destruction.

A video about Halabja from the Rudaw Facebook page :

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.

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