“You will be judged in years to come by how you responded to genocide on your watch.” – Nicholas D. Kristof
Genocide is the deliberate killing of a certain group of people or race. The Holocaust was one such genocide. Adolf Hitler’s corrosive hatred of the Jewish people took the lives of over 6 million Jews and 10 million other people who the Nazis deemed unsuitable for life. By the time the Allied nations found out, it was too late to do anything except to liberate the camps. Hitler, using underhanded tricks and propaganda, turned the whole German nation against the Jews, using them as scapegoats for all of Germany’s problems during the great global depression of the 1930s.
When the first ghettos and concentration camps were established, then later death camps, many people became bystanders as Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were harassed and forced into these places to kill them off. Some of these camps and ghettos were near cities, yet the city folk chose to never know what really went on in there and the atrocious conditions the Jews lived in. If they had known, they probably would not have even cared. After all, German propaganda made it look like the Jews were less than human, and needed to be exterminated, as Nazi minister of propaganda Joseph Goebbels wrote, “Each Jew is a sworn enemy of the German people.” Despite this hatred, there were some significant efforts to oppose the Nazis’ Final Solution. An example would be the Dutch couple Molly and Gerry Van Heel, who hid a Jewish girl named Elise Kann with her sister when the Germans occupied the Netherlands. The couple forged identification papers using stolen material to help protect these girls. In so doing, they saved Elise and her sister, along with a number of other people.
We hear the quote “Never Again” often when on the topic of the Holocaust, but genocide has not stopped yet; it is still going on today. When people decide they don’t like one group, they kill them. Genocide is the inhumane slaughtering of innocent people, and the best way to hinder it is to make sure everyone is aware of these acts, not just the people who are being affected.
An example of genocide is the violence that occurred in Rwanda in 1994. I learned about this tragic story when an instructional assistant named Ms. Jeanne Mukambogoye gave a presentation on her experience during the Rwandan genocide to my social studies class. Ms. Mukambogoye lost both of her parents and most of her siblings in the brutal killings. She described how she was forced to stay with a Hutu general. The Hutus, under the cover of war, launched their plan to massacre every Tutsi, a minority in Rwanda at the time. The general would return home every night after massacring innocent people, and she would have to wash the blood off the machete he used to kill the people. One night, she saw her father getting hacked to death by a machete in front of her. She also detailed the time she spent hiding from the Hutus prowling around for any Tutsi to kill. From April to August of 1994, 800,000 Tutsi men, women, and children were murdered in Rwanda. The rest of the world watched, with a few weak protests. World leaders ignored what was going on and declined to challenge the genocidal Rwandan government. By the time they voiced concern about the genocide, the genocidal faction just changed their tactics. The rest of the world pretended that the Rwandan genocide was someone else’s problem, and nobody came to the afflicted Rwandans’ aid until it was too late. Among the people killed with the Tutsis were thousands of Hutus who opposed the killing campaign.
Sometimes it is difficult to act when genocide happens, but young people can help out to keep such atrocities from happening and to support those being affected by the genocide. Using the media to convey the message of genocide can be an effective way for young people to know about the genocides going on in the world, like Darfur. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, young people spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes with any type of media a day. If they get exposed to what is happening, then they could take action, through pop-ups and short videos on YouTube or Facebook. To help support those who are in a genocidal situation, young people could assemble care packages, do fundraisers, raise awareness, or donate money to the International Red Cross to help make sure refugee camps are safe and sanitary.
The most important weapon is knowledge. That is why the project I suggest to oppose genocide is to do something like Kony 2012. Kony 2012 was a video about Joseph Kony, who led a guerilla group in Uganda. He had been tried for war crimes involving abducting children to use as sex slaves and child soldiers. The video went viral, and 3.7 million people pledged their support to bring Kony to justice. Since the world today is connected by media, people can be made aware of these atrocities. Not months down the road, but rather, in real time, to take real action. Keeping an eye on hot spots and watching areas through social media can be a big step in protecting human rights. On YouTube, an organization can make a short film about the genocide and make it a featured one, where it would be easy for people to access it and make it go viral. We have immediate access to technology. With this, people can be informed easily. In different countries, the people can petition their governments to offer assistance to the afflicted country, protest, or do whatever to help out. United, the international community can resist genocide.
Simon Nguyen is an eighth-grader at Shaw Middle School.
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The term genocide refers to the mass murder of a specific race or tribe or group of people with the sole intention of eliminating the said group. As the world came to realize with the discrimination of Jews by the Nazi forces, genocide does not sit on the same bench as other crimes such as burglary.The spirited effort towards the elimination of a single race or tribe is the driving force of this heinous crime. It is said “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
At the center of genocide, power and resources are usually the propagators of this vice. In a state in which the availability and distribution of resources is anything short of equal, negative ethnic traits such as tribalism, nepotism and even clan-ism, in other cases, can easily result in the onset of genocide. Greed is also a consistent feature of many genocide-stricken states. The more worrying issue, apart from the killing of millions of innocent civilians, is the prejudice with which many of the leaders of these factions plan and coordinate these atrocities. The notion that leaders are well above the law is characteristic of states that have felt the iron grip of genocide.
The case of Darfur is one of the most disheartening. Darfur has been embroiled in the throes of genocide for the better part of the 21st Century. Having been the first genocide of the 21st Century, the mention of Darfur does not resonate well on the global landscape. Upon the realization of freedom from the British, Sudan had little time to pause and draw a clear and concise roadmap that would spearhead development. For the large remainder of the 20th Century, Sudan suffered civil wars as the Northern Muslims fought with the Southern non-Muslims.
The fact that Northern Sudan was more commercially viable than the South sparked off the civil wars, with both sides fighting to control the North. The turning point came when the government in the North decided to undertake ‘ethnic cleansing’ by eliminating all non-Muslims from the state of Sudan. Government funded militia called the Janjaweed kicked off the ‘ethnic cleansing’ by fighting with the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The result is the continued loss of many lives as innocent men women and children are caught in the hairs of the crossfire. Over 2.8 million individuals have been internally displaced, with a whooping 480,000 already dead.
The scars of this genocide haunt the Sudanese in the form of handicaps, displacement and death of loved ones. The destruction of the moral and unity fabric of the Sudanese society is the greatest damage that the Sudanese have suffered. Parents are forced to watch their children die while children are deprived of their childhoods. The genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan is one that bears far-reaching consequences and effects in equal measure. It remains a mystery just how the Sudanese will achieve national unity should the killings abate.
The start of conflict between the various Sudanese groups is not the result of achieving independence from the British. There are a number of long-standing disputes between the Sudanese that have gradually escalated to the point of genocide. The oldest form of conflict is traced to the land disputes between the sedentary agriculturalists and semi-nomadic livestock keepers. The disagreements over farming land and herding fields between these two groups laid the foundation for the current genocide. The failure to resolve these problems in their teething stages is primarily responsible for the genocide. The failure of the two groups to realize common ground drove them into believing that violence and war was the only way they could have what they believed was rightfully theirs.
The propagation of this conflict slowly grew and over time encompassed a variety of issues that raised conflict between the two groups. The colonization of Sudan by the British only inflated issues as the Sudanese were forced to live in bitterness and discontent. Upon the departure of the British from Sudan, the old contentious issues resurfaced and this time in a more ugly fashion than before colonization.
The central issue that results in genocide is the inequitable distribution of resources and power. Failure to distribute power and resources equally leaves one faction feeling shortchanged, and feelings of mass murder slowly follow. Sudan is no exception to this state of affairs and the feelings of discontent and alienation by the non-Arabs and non-Muslims led to the prompt formation of the SLM/A and JEM.
These two groups were geared at fighting for equality and fairness in the entire Sudanese state. The efforts by the government to suppress the non-Arab tribes and the subsequent uprisings only escalated the volatility of the situation. Both groups were bent on realizing their desires devoid of compromise, an inevitable feature of conflict resolution.
Favoritism also plays a key role in the onset of genocide in Sudan as well as other parts of the world in which this crime has reared its ugly head. In the case of Sudan and the Darfur genocide, the segregation of Sudanese Arabs in elitist tendencies was the spark in this raging fire. Upon the formation of the government, almost all officials that were appointed to head various department of the toddler government were the Arabs. This outright favoritism and superiority complex in the Sudanese Arabs jolted the other ethnic groups into ganging up against them.
Further discrimination of non-Muslims by the government also fueled the fire that Darfur burns in to date.
The absence of a strong government that is willing to end the genocide in the Darfur region is also a stumbling block to realizing the end of this massacre. The involvement of the state in the genocide by funding, as well as, arming the Janjaweed militia plays a central role in the failure of achieving a ceasefire between the two groups. It is difficult for a state to solve a problem of which it is a key player. The resistance faced from the government officials in ending the genocide is also responsible for the current state of affairs in Darfur.
Research and Analysis
Inhibitors to the Realization of a Solution. The biggest reason as to the failure of finding a solution is the involvement of the government.Through its efforts in supporting the Janjaweed militia, the government shows that it supports the superiority and elitist claims that this militia tirelessly champions. Asking this same government to denounce the militia and end the genocide is akin to asking the government to admit its folly and pivotal roles in supporting the genocide. Even for the most committed of philanthropists, swallowing one’s words and pride remains a tall order. For the Sudanese government, its involvement in the genocide has surpassed the point of return and now the government cannot jump ship. Their fates are intertwined, and they will only sink if they do so together.
History has a way of repeating itself. The injustices suffered by the minority ethnic groups of Sudan have left a permanent scar on their lives. Asking these individuals to suddenly forget all these atrocities is almost impossible. The spirit of vengeance burns brightly in the bosoms of the minority Sudanese.
This has been a stumbling block towards achieving peace as those Sudanese that seek vengeance seek it for themselves and their ancestors and fallen loved ones. Many of those that fight on have vowed to do so to death, and this only worsens a scenario that is at its worst. Many of these Sudanese who continue fighting will end up dead like their ancestors, and for the same cause. This is a saddening feat, seeing that it highlights the inability of the Sudanese society to learn from its past mistakes.
The key towards finding a solution to genocide is addressing the underlying contentious issues. By addressing the bones of contention, a lasting solution can be achieved. In the case of Darfur, land disputes between the warring factions must be addressed. Solving these land issues in a free and fair manner that is devoid of favoritism and bias will ensure that both parties cease fighting. Dividing the land or promoting cohabitation by both groups can provide a lasting solution to the land disputes. In the case that the land is profitable, cost sharing in investment and dividing profits equally can be an avenue towards finding lasting peace in Darfur.
The United Nations is a pivotal organization in the world, seeing that it oversees every important facet of the global financial, political and social landscape. Taking a stronger stand on matters genocide in the world will provide a safety net for the millions of innocent civilians that are affected by genocide. Having its own standing army will also bolster the international presence of the United Nations. Reliance on member states to contribute soldiers from their own armies slows down the response ability of the United Nations. This is because many member states consider the political implications of their support when the country being affected by this action is considered an ally or a potential enemy. There is a great need for the United Nations to have such standing forces that are specially trained to handle such conflicts.
Last but not least, physicians always insist that prevention is better than cure, and there is no exception to this rule. Every nation must be alert to potential discords and move swiftly to nip them in the bud. In the case of Darfur, had the government then seen the potential that the discord between the warring groups had, they would have taken swift action to prevent the development of the dispute into genocide.
The Sudanese government, as well as, the rogue militias should eat humble pie and admit the wrongs that they have done. It is only by both parties admitting their wrongs to each other that the Darfur genocide stands a chance of remaining in the past.It is also necessary that the United Nations take a bold stand on the Darfur genocide. It does not help to have a dog which only barks but does not bite. The United Nations is charged with the mandate of ensuring peace and equality in this world. It should flex its muscle on matters genocide as a warning to all those leaders who think themselves above the law.The equitable distribution of resources and power proves the best method to combat genocide, seeing that this approach saved Rwanda from the flames of genocide.
By having leaders who oversaw the equitable distribution of power and resources, Rwanda has overcome the divisive hatred that pitted the Tutsi against the Hutu. If this approach is considered in Darfur, perhaps the genocide will become a stain left in the past.
Genocide is the mass murder of a specific group of people for a specific reason, more often than not racial or ethnic. It is a crime that holds no place in any society, in this world. Just like Rwanda, Darfur now lays at a crossroads. The fighting has gone on for too long, and it is time that the Sudanese resolved to solve this problem. The election of fair and just leaders who will ensure equitable distribution of resources and power, as well as, the mend the national unity fabric will end the turmoil that has become the way of life of the Sudanese people.
Cheadle, Don, and John Prendergast. Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond. New York, N.Y.: Hyperion, 2007.
Friedman, Mark. Genocide. London: Raintree, 2013.
Levy, Janey. Genocide in Darfur. New York: Rosen Pub, 2009.
Prunier, Gérard. Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2007.
Steidle, Brian, and Gretchen Steidle Wallace. The Devil Came on Horseback Bearing Witness to the Genocide in Darfur. New York: Public Affairs, 2007.
Totten, Samuel. The Prevention and Intervention of Genocide. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2008.