How are the Yazidis doing?

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

To the tune of Jingle Bells:

Dashing through the town, not looking to play, mowing all down, it doesn’t matter today… Genocide, genocide, happens every day… Oh, how the west, would wish it went away… Oh, genocide, genocide, happening every day…

Okay, not the most uplifting topic to begin writing with on a Friday morning. How did I even start thinking such satirical bollocks? Simple. I read the news. The thing about genocide is that there is always one happening. When stubborn and often stupid leaders want to wipe away opposition, that is one thing, but eradicating an entire race is utterly evil. It didn’t just begin with the Holocaust but the word did stem from Raphael Lemkin’s book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, published in 1944. Before that the largest recorded account would probably be the European colonisation of the Americas. This is a large and less civilised piece of modern history. The Dzungar (准噶尔灭族; Zhǔngá’ěr mièzú), Circassian, Manifest Destiny, California, Selk’nam, Namaqua and Herero, Green, Assyrian, Armenian, Libyan, Soviet famine, and Kazakhstan genocides filled a period of time form the 1750s to 1933. Bleak, right? Did it end in World War Two with the Holocaust and Porajmos? Not at all! People from Bangladesh, Burundi, East Timor, Cambodia, Guatamala, Kurdish, and Isaaq fell from the 1970s to late 1980s.

Now, there is the crisis of the Rohingya Muslims and the fallout from the Ratko Mladic era of pain and suffering in Bosnia (and Yugoslavia). How are the Yazidis doing in northern Iraq and Syria?

In 1994, the world seemingly stood by and watched Rwanda explode as the Hutu majority squashed the Tutsi population, Twa, and moderate Hutus into oblivion. The cause was hugely complex and the after effects are still drastic today. It has been estimated that in the 50 years leading up to 2016 that 43 genocides have led to 50 million deaths. An equally large number of people have been displaced and sought resettlement. The International Court of Justice has held countless and expensive court cases against numerous war criminals. They have costs taxpayers millions and their remaining victims have often been left feeling tortured and humiliated. Ever since I read the book We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families, by Philip Gourevitch, I have paid more attention to ethnic cleansing news. The book had made me physically sick but opened my mind to horrors in ways that history teaching, news broadcasts of theYugoslavia conflict could not convey. I wasn’t a teenager when the serious Rwanda genocide hit the news. I read this book much later, when I was at university, in a spell of procrastination, where I would read everything and anything. This book strangled my attention. The movie Hotel Rwanda barely touched on the horror and affect on the people. Whilst Don Cheadle on the supporting cast were wonderful, it simply felt like a lighter take on hell. Not that we, as cinema-goers, want to see a quarter to half a million rape scenes as happened, or the genital mutilation of men. Nor did we want to see the HIV-riddled and AIDS fall-out that followed, or pygmy people (Batwa/Twa) being eliminated categorically. The 400,000 orphans of the years that followed are now likely in their twenties and thirties, if living. A quarter would have become the head of their family.

The world watched news. The big countries and strength looked away, worried of a new Battle of Mogadishu. That Somalian killing field and the U.N.’s Assistance Mission for Rwanda led to utter failure on the part of supposed world policing. Israel’s documentation regarding arms sales to Rwanda remains sealed. Since then there has been the Great Lakes refugee crisis, the First and Second Congo Wars. The Gacaca Courts and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda have dwindled away. The horrors as fresh as the small Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, which holds a quarter of a million remains!

So, what is genocide? Brutal, generation-affecting and ill-meaning to all. It has effects on the leaders, their victims and those who carry out the atrocities. The ripple of the pool spreads globally. Those who had power to act and did not, are equally to blame. If their aim is to deliberately murder a whole community or race and they fail, but come close, they have aready changed the dynamics of that community and race. Each massacre, slaughter and eradication attempt towards a nationality or ethnic race, should have been the end. The final act.

 

There are quotes galore about this horrid subject and matter, and discussion comes and goes, but more choose to focus on iPods, the latest running trainers and what’s hot in the kid’s Christmas aisle. Wars and poverty have hugely influenced a vacuum, and in vaccums hate thrives. This isn’t an argument or thought-rich piece of writing I convey, it is just a simple, open up your minds. Those who don’t act, witness the slaughter of other peoples. Nobody wants to see bad news, day in, day out, but right now the media are being guided by leaders like Trump and matters so trivial that the viewer is patronised. A Victoria’s Secret model that falls on the catwalk is not news. Nor is the denial of a visa to a pop megastar to China. Perhaps Yemen might feature on the next genocide, or the Philipines… or Cambodia again. The warnings of history are there to be read, but we’re all reading about insects made into bread.


“You have to understand what caused genocide to happen. Or it will happen again.” Tim Walz


“Rwanda can be a paradise again, but it will take the love of the entire world to heal my homeland. And that’s as it should be, for what happened in Rwanda happened to us all – humanity was wounded by the genocide.” Immaculee Ilibagiza


“The 20th century taught us how far unbridled evil can and will go when the world fails to confront it. It is time that we heed the lessons of the 20th century and stand up to these murderers. It is time that we end genocide in the 21st century.” Allyson Schwartz


“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.” Chief Seattle, The Chief Seattle’s Speech


“We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos; there will be genocide; and they will follow us home.” John McCain


“They want us to be afraid.

They want us to be afraid of leaving our homes.

They want us to barricade our doors

and hide our children.

Their aim is to make us fear life itself!

They want us to hate.

They want us to hate ‘the other’.

They want us to practice aggression

and perfect antagonism.

Their aim is to divide us all!

They want us to be inhuman.

They want us to throw out our kindness.

They want us to bury our love

and burn our hope.

Their aim is to take all our light!

They think their bricked walls

will separate us.

They think their damned bombs

will defeat us.

They are so ignorant they don’t understand

that my soul and your soul are old friends.

They are so ignorant they don’t understand

that when they cut you I bleed.

They are so ignorant they don’t understand

that we will never be afraid,

we will never hate

and we will never be silent

for life is ours!” Kamand Kojouri


“First, they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.” Martin Niemöller, from the poem “First they came…”


 

To quote Coldplay, open up your eyes, but more importantly, our minds need to be exercised not nullified. I don’t claim to understand genocide at all. I don’t. I just think some things need a spot of time to think about, no matter how tough a subject they are. Perhaps next time, I can rip into cancer…

 

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

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