Genocide: Revolution of the Forgotten Human Rights

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”                                                                                                                                Nelson Mandelasimara


Genocide will always remain a mass international crime. A concrete definition from Article 6 of the Rome Statute:

Means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring
about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Put simply, it is conduct aimed at the destruction of a national, ethnic, racial, or religious groups.

Everyday, innocent civilians somewhere in the world face unimaginable horror yet their plight is ignored by states. One might tend to think about what events in recent history have caused as much commotion as the Jewish holocaust, the Armenian genocide, and the Cambodian killing fields for example-there have been quite a number in fact. Consider the plight of the Yazidi is Iraq. They are a small ethnic and religious minority with ancient roots. Over the course of a few years, they have been subjected to unimaginable horror at the hands of ISIS. simara

In September 2016, the Independent News published human rights lawyer Amal Clooney’s speech at the United Nations. Where she said of the United Nation’s (UN) failure to begin thorough investigations into certain atrocities that include murders and sex trafficking committed to date by ISIS:

 This is the first time I have spoken in this chamber. I wish I could say I’m proud to be here but I am not. I am ashamed as a supporter of the United Nations that states are failing to prevent or even punish genocide because they find that their own interests get in the way.”

Genocide needs to be stopped. It needs to stop. Every citizen’s rights have to be preserved as promised by the law.simara

Gregory Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, presented an article in which he provides the 8 stages of genocide. He says that genocide develops in eight stages that are predictable but not inexorable. In other worlds, the process of genocide will be foreseeable right in front of us yet we will not be able to stop it.

  • First stage is classification. This is when all cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion or nationality,
  • The second stage is symbolization. This is when names and other symbols are given to classifications. This is where naming people “Jews” or “Gypsies”, or distinguishing them by colors or dress; and applying the symbols to members of groups.simara
  • However the first and second stage will not constitute to genocide without the third stage, which is dehumanization. Dehumanization is when one group denies the humanity of the other group, where the members of it are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases, which are further also combined with hatred.
  • Moving on to the fourth stage of genocide is organization. Genocide is always organized, usually by the state. This is often using militias to provide deniability of state responsibility. Further, by training armed Special army units or militias and plans for genocidal killings.
  • The fifth stage is polarization. This is when the extremists drive the groups apart and hate groups broadcast polarizing propaganda.
  • The sixth stage is preparation in which case the victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up and members of victim groups are forced to wear identifying symbols.
  • The seventh stage of genocide is examination; which begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human.
  • The final stage of genocide is denial, where the perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies  and try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims.simara

Having looked at the stages of genocide it is clear as to why genocide starts-because of lack of peace, discrimination, racism and general lack of humanity. We should fight to uphold the ideal that all the people are born equal and have equal rights and dignity.

The Way Forward

Every individual should fight for their rights which are the most powerful weapon to stop these catastrophic cruel crimes. If genocide is ever to happen to the citizens of Zambia, they must fight for their rights. The relaxing thought that the state shall protect its people against such crimes ought to come to an end.  It is up to the people to educate themselves on crimes such as genocide and recognising when and how it arises. Failure to do so may lead to incidences such as what happened in Rwanda in 1994.

There is an early warning system for genocide, which however back in the history most of the victim countries were ignorant to listen up to it and take necessary measure to prevent it or to defend themselves such as the case of Rwanda Genocide.

Rwanda was a case when early warning failed. In 1992, the Belgian Ambassador warned his government that Hutu Power advocates were “planning the extermination of the Tutsi of Rwanda.” Both early and late warnings of the Rwandan genocide were ignored by policy-makers who denied the facts and resisted calling the genocide by its proper name. They refused to consider options for intervention, and finally refused to risk any lives of their citizens. Instead they withdrew 2000 UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) troops and sacrificed the lives of over 500,000 defenseless Rwandans.


There are, however, also successful cases of early warning that resulted in response to prevent or stop genocidal massacres (and crimes against humanity). These include Macedonia in 1992 and 2001, when several hundred UN peacekeepers prevented the Balkan wars from spreading; East Timor in 1999, when coordinated warnings by human rights groups and Australian intervention stopped massacres by Indonesian troops and militias after East Timor voted for independence; and Côte d’Ivoire in 2002, when warnings by the Belgian organization, Prévention Génocides, followed by French military and diplomatic intervention, helped stop massacres.

According Woocher’s 2006 report, Developing a Strategy, Methods and Tools for Genocide Early Warning, early warning is the collection, analysis and communication of information about escalatory developments in situations that could potentially lead to genocide…, far enough in advance for relevant UN organs to take timely and effective preventive measures. Therefore, the Unites Nations as an organisation of advisory to Zambia, will have to take necessary measures to protect the country off any form of mass crime. Further still, the United Nations Charter, at the article 55, declares what the United Nations will promote for the peace of the country:

“With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote: a) higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development; b) solutions of international economic, social, health, and related problems; and international cultural and educational co-operation; and c) universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.”

Hence, it is s the state’s responsibility of preventing such barbaric crimes to the innocent civilians. simara

Sill, it must be borne in mind that as a lawful citizen it is also our duty to know our rights. Prevention of genocide cannot just be national interest as we all are human and share the same universal rights as individuals. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, expressly assures in articles 1 and 2 the universal foundation of human rights. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, on-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

This clearly shows that everyone is equal before the law and any violations to a victim’s rights can be challenged.

The articles 3 to 21 distinctly sets out the civil and political rights of an individual, such as his/her right to life, liberty and security of person, rights against slavery and further states that no one is subject to inhuman treatment. Each articles in declare and reminds that every individual is equal before the law.simara

It is easy to make a statement that together with the law and other measures, genocide can be prevented. Moreover, to say that with this information in hand, history will never repeat itself, yet recent events suggest that  genocide may be taking place in Myanmar. You may have heard in the news the stories of persecution of the Rohingya Muslim minority which eerily mirrors the plight of the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994, although a smaller scale. This begs the question, is history about to repeat itself? nunca mas

By Simara Kalam

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The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the University and its management (which includes editors(s) of this blog. Information on this site may contain errors or inaccuracies; we do not make warranty as to the correctness or reliability of the site’s content. If you own rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on this site, please contact us via e-mail and they will be promptly removed.


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