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Genocide Prevention
One of the worst occurrences in humankind is genocide — the killing of an entire group of people. The website titled Genocide Watch has a goal of predicting, preventing, stopping and punishing genocide and other forms of mass murder if/when they occur. In fact, this website even went so far as to develop a code for people at risk of genocide:

Genocide Watch, Warning and Emergency

  1. A Genocide Watch: Early warning signs indicate the danger of a genocidal process underway.
  2. A Genocide Warning: A genocidal process is underway and is often indicated by genocidal massacres with the imminent danger of root and branch destruction.
  3. A Genocide Emergency: A genocidal process has taken on root and branch dimensions.

Currently, Burundi is coded Genocide Watch; Turkey is coded as a Genocide Warning. However, nine countries are signified with a Genocide Emergency: Yemen, Iraq, Myanmar, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria. This extensive list of countries in conflict demonstrates why genocide prevention efforts are crucial to stopping a genocide in its tracks.

Organizations Combatting Genocide

Numerous efforts are being made across the globe to make genocides an action of the past, and the following is a few of the groups making a profound change on the prevention and combat of genocides today.

  1. The Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide. This center is connected to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C., United States. The goal of this center is to mobilize global action for genocide prevention and to motivate the international community to respond in the face of genocide. The Simon-Skjodt Center combines action with awareness, as they work to influence policymakers and bring awareness to projects and risk factors that lead to genocide.
  2. Early Warning Project utilizes data to identify countries at risk of new mass atrocities. Their goal is to advance prevention through their early warning system for mass atrocities. By providing governments, advocacy groups and at-risk societies with earlier and more reliable warning, this organization then has more opportunity to take action before deaths occur. This website provides a world map that shows a country’s risk through a color scheme. It also explains their statistical risk assessment. The Early Warning Project utilizes an analytical approach to work for the prevention of genocide.
  3. United to End Genocide focuses on acts individuals can take to prevent future genocides. This organization encourages passionate individuals to lobby Congress to make human rights and genocide prevention core values in U.S. foreign policy. Also, United to End Genocide encourages individuals to mobilize others to demand action. Again, this organization provides a list of countries at risk for human rights violations. Lastly, they want to “stop the enablers;” by this, United to End Genocide puts public pressure on companies that welcome or reward perpetrators of mass atrocities. So, be a conscious consumer when it relates to preventing genocide.

Preventative Efforts

When considering genocide prevention, it is important to address the stages of genocide and the importance of early intervention. Knowing signs of classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization and preparation and educational efforts are crucial to preventing genocide prior to persecution, extermination and denial.

For an example of such preemptive behavior, Myanmar is under a Genocide Emergency. Three major stages of this status that occurred were discrimination, dehumanization and polarization of the Rohingya Muslims. By identifying these stages and how they occur in society, the international community can better prevent genocide.

Awareness and Activism

Such organizations focus their work on preventing genocide through bringing awareness to the public, educating and mobilizing policymakers, and taking action when needed. Projects that work toward preventing genocide not only reduce or stop massive conflict in its tracks, but also work to alleviate poverty worldwide.

These key tools of education, awareness and action are also important when alleviating communities of extreme poverty. These global issues are interwoven and by addressing poverty and addressing genocide simultaneously, the global community can live in a better world.

– Jenna Walmer
Photo: Flickr

Recent Genocides
Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. Recent genocides have occurred in Sudan against 
Darfur’s ethnic Fur, Massalit, and Zhagawa peoples and in Myanmar against its Rohingya minority.

Tensions Continue as a Result of Sudanese Genocides

Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1956, Sudan has struggled to find peace between its Muslim northern regions and its animist and Christian southern regions. Continuous conflict led to the creation of an autonomous South Sudan, but tensions persist. Civil wars in the region have taken an estimated 2.5 million lives and displaced approximately four million people.

Beside the warring north and south of Sudan, recent genocides have occurred in a western part of the nation known as Darfur. In February 2003, rebel groups led by predominantly by non-Arab Muslim sedentary tribes, including the Fur and Zaghawa, rose up against the Khartoum government due to unequal treatment and economic marginalization. In response, the government sent militias known as Janjaweed, which translates to “evil men on horseback,” whose duties were to carry out attacks on villages. The Janjaweed used slash and burn methods to decimate communities as well as injuring and murdering civilians and poisoning wells.

The Darfurian genocide was the first genocide of the 21st century and its unrest and violence have not yet ceased. As of 2016, more than 480,000 people have been murdered and more than 2.8 million people have been displaced. Many refugees have fled Sudan and some have been living in camps for more than 10 years.

Recent Genocides in Myanmar Draw Global Attention

Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, lived under the governance of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011. The government is now under civilian control, but the military continues to wield extensive power and commit human rights abuses. Its population is mostly Buddhist with large Christian and Muslim minorities.

Two-thirds of Myanmar’s people identify as Burmese or Bamar, but there are 135 ethnic minorities residing in the country. The Christian Karen people and the Muslim Rohingya people of Myanmar have faced long-standing systemic violence and oppression from the Buddhist government. Aid agencies estimate that 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes in the decades of conflict and as recently as 2010 the government was still burning, shelling and abusively sweeping Karen villages.

The Rohingya Muslims have also had a long-standing history of genocide and statelessness. In 1982, the Burmese military stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship, claiming that they were Bengali despite their having lived in Burma’s Rakhine State for generations. This led to a mass migration of over 250,000 Rohingya people to Bangladesh in 1991 and 1992, but they were met with deportation once in Bangladesh and were forced to return to Burma.

The recent genocides of the Rohingya in Myanmar began in 2012 when political party officials, senior Buddhist monks and state security forces committed mass killings of men, women and children. The cleansing left 150,000 Rohingya homeless and more than 100,000 fled the country.

Even more recently, in August 2017, a small rebellion of Rohingya militants led to military retaliation against any and all Rohingya people. These attacks caused the largest refugee movement since the Rwandan genocide. More than 675,000 Rohingya fled the country within three months to seek safety in Bangladesh. As of January 2018, more than one million Rohingya refugees have been registered in Bangladesh.

Fulfilling the Promise to End Genocide Worldwide

Ethnic cleansing and genocide are not acts of the past. Religious and cultural minorities continue to face persecution and attempts at forced extinction. However, this does not mean that individuals elsewhere must simply be bystanders to such atrocities. Raising awareness about the genocides occurring in the world and donating time or money to organizations that work to end genocide can make an impact and ensure that the world does not turn a blind eye to those in danger.

The organization United to End Genocide states that one of the best ways for individuals to help prevent and stop genocide is to vote for representatives who support foreign aid and acknowledge global atrocities. Support representatives who make the end of genocide a priority.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About the Bosnian GenocideThe Bosnian Genocide shocked the world. Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia in the spring of 1992. A census taken at this time recorded a population of 4 million, with 44 percent Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), 31 percent Serbs (Bosnian Orthodox Christians), 17 percent Croats (Bosnian Catholics) and 8 percent Yugoslavian.

Beyond the desire for independence, Bosnian Serbs wanted to forge a separate Serbian state within the bounds of this nation. This illegitimate state would be known as “Greater Serbia”. In order to attain this vision, the Serbs took brutal and violent action against both the Bosniaks and the Croats, with the intention to formally expel both ethnicities from the region they sought to control. The Serbs went so far as to displace, torture, rape and murder these two groups over the course of a three-year civil war—executing, at the war’s low point, what is known today as the Bosnian genocide. Here are 10 facts about the Bosnian genocide, and everything you should know about this atrocity.

Top Bosnian Genocide Facts:

  1. Before the breakup of the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Balkans were controlled by President Josip Broz Tito. Though many ethnic groups existed within his domain, he kept tensions at ease by dictating with an “Iron Fist” approach. He was described by many as a “benevolent dictator”; however, he left little room for cultural expression outside of Yugoslav nationalism. It was not until after his death in 1980 that this Yugoslav identity began to disperse into numerous ethnic factions.
  2. The intent of Serb brutality against the Bosniaks and the Croats during this civil war is termed “ethnic cleansing“. The Serbs’ motive was to remove a specific group from a geographical area, not for the sole purpose of ethnic destruction. This does not apply to the attack, or rather “shelling”, of Srebrenica in 1995, which was classified by the United Nations as a genocide in 2007.
  3. In 1993, the U.N. declared that three eastern Bosnian towns, Srebrenica, Zepa, and Gorazde would be safe havens, meaning that all three would be disarmed and under the protection of international peacekeepers.
  4. The Bosnian genocide refers to a low point of this civil war in July 1995, where the systemic extermination of a specific group of people did occur. In Srebrenica, one of the small mountain towns protected by the U.N. in Eastern Bosnia, Bosnian Serbs launched an invasion on July 11, overthrowing the Dutch peacekeeping forces meant to protect the region.
  5. Over the course of four days, 15,000 men were hunted by Serbian forces, ending in 8,000 men and boys being methodically killed and buried in hidden mass graves. Examination of these bodies after the fact showed signs of mutilation, as well as the binding of arms and feet prior to execution.
  6. During these same four days, an estimated 20,000 women and children were subject to forced evacuations out of their homes and sent to Serbian-controlled regions or camps where their Serbian aggressors used sexual violence as a weapon against them. Female victims of the Bosnian genocide varied in age, some being as young as 12 years old, and most have lived in silence regarding their experience over the past two decades.
  7. Over the course of three years, the civilian death toll reached 200,000. On top of this, another 2 million Bosnians were displaced from their homes and placed in dangerous environments.
  8. Despite its peacekeeping efforts, the international community has been criticized for its apathy towards the diabolical violence against the Bosniaks and Croats. However, in 1993 the U.N. Security Council set up an International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. This was the first tribunal established since the Nuremberg Trials, and its intention was to prosecute the leaders of genocide, mass murder and the various other war crimes that occurred during the breakup of Yugoslavia.
  9. The leader of the Bosnian Serbs was a man named Radovan Karadzic, a native of Sarajevo. He was declared the president of the illegitimate nation Greater Serbia. Karadzic was found guilty by the U.N. for 10 out of 11 counts of crimes against humanity. Though little proof exists that he was a war criminal by his own hand, by taking this leadership role he accepted total moral responsibility for any violent act committed by his people. His conviction included the slaughter of thousands of Bosniaks and Croats. The trial lasted five years, and he was sentenced to 40 years in prison starting in March 2016.
  10. In order to prevent future atrocities like the Bosnian genocide, it is up to the international community and our own efforts to make genocide prevention a core value. The organization United to End Genocide emphasizes three main points in genocide prevention: demanding action, stopping the enablers and placing human rights at the forefront of foreign policy. One of the most disheartening aspects of the Bosnian genocide was that awareness was overwrought by ambivalence. The world knew the Bosniaks and Croats were vulnerable, and yet did little to stop the Serbs. In the future, the world must go beyond being aware and act on this awareness.

Briana Fernald

Photo: Flickr