Schulprojekt:Genocides and the Global Public

Aus Wikiversity
Zur Navigation springen Zur Suche springen
Projekttitel Genocides and the global public
Ansprechpartner Benutzer:Schoener
Laufzeit abgeschlossen
Zusammenarbeit Christoph-Scheiner-Gymnasium Ingolstadt
This is a Wikiversity-project on the role of media and the international community in genocides about which the world did not want to know. This is illustrated by looking at both more recent genocides like the ones in Rwanda, Somalia, Darfur and historical ones like the one against the Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century, which is still a hotly-debated issue.

Genocides and the Global Public[Bearbeiten]

In human history, there have been many genocides that could have been prevented if only people had been made aware of them by extensive media coverage. Some of these genocides, their background and history, as well as the global public's reaction to - or rather ignorance of - them have been resarched and presented here. This is an English language-project of grade 11a of the Christoph-Scheiner-Gymnasium Ingolstadt (Germany), who have been working on this topic as part of their English-lessons. We see this site as work-in-progress. Thus, comments and improvements are always more than welcome.

The Role of the Public[Bearbeiten]

In the face of the terrible events in genocides, a loud outcry of the global public might be expected, but this does often not really happen. There usually are some demonstrations of human-right organizations and different groups of interest, but what can be seen in most of the cases is that ignorance and lack of interest dominate; and this is also the reason why many genocides are just forgotten. This is also caused by lack of information through the media, so that most people do not even know about those crimes, because they depend on objective reports about them. There have been a few demonstrations like the online demonstration "million voices for Darfur". Only 0.00015% of the Germans demonstrated against the genocide in Darfur. But things have changed a little: Different polls show, that 2/3 of US citizens would support sanctions against the groups responsible for genocides and 37% say that the USA should intervene militarily.

There is a demand that the U.S. should found and lead an international peacekeeping force. France even calls for the punishment of the denial of genocide. On the other hand, there are demonstrations against the categorization of events as genocides; e.g. when about 1700 Turkish people demonstrated against the classification of the incidents in the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918 as genocide, where according to estimations over 1 million Armenia died. In the appeal of the responsible organizations to demonstrate, they said that Europeans should stop accusing Turkey of genocide, if they did not want their cities to be in flames like in Paris. As a consequence the German party “Die Grünen” called this alliance a conglomeration of ultra nationalistic, antieuropean and white supremacist forces. (German source)

The Role of Politicians[Bearbeiten]

As seen in the reaction of many famous politicians to different genocides, profits and advantages for their own country are their major interest, not to give humanitarian support to the people affected . Therefore, some genocides are just ignored and forgotten, for instance because of economical disinterest or a lack in political will, which can bee seen in the following statement by Ban Ki-Moon, the current Secretary General of the U.N. during the exhibition on the 13th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, where no link was established to the Armenian genocide in Turkey (wikipedia) because of the pressure of the Turkish government: (this is a translated version; originally German ) "This exhibition shows the lessons we learned from the genocide in Rwanda. It does not try to pass historical judgement on other topics." He demanded never to forget those incidents and to do anything to prevent a further genocide. He did not mention the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the massacres in the West-Sudanese Darfur region explicitely.

Former president (1993-2001) Bill Clinton apologized afterwards (in 2005) for American inaction concerning the Rwandan genocide: (Translated version of German quotation on wikipedia) “What did I do wrong? That we did not invade in Rwanda. That happened during 90 days, this genocide. I know I would not have obtained approval by Congress easily. But I should have tried it. I could have saved lives. This was certainly the worst omission in my life. I will never overcome it. “

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General of the U.N. from January 1992 to December 1996, claimed that the USA is 100% responsible for the genocide in Rwanda (German source) in 1998.

The fact that many people do not want the Armenian genocide to be seen as such was taken advantage of for politically by an Austrian politician: Mustafa Iscel, member of the “ÖVP”, an Austrian party, campaigned by posting Turkish election posters. They said among other things: “If you do not want the Armenian genocide to be acknowledged ... vote for ÖVP!!!” (German source)

History and Background of Genocides[Bearbeiten]

Habyarimana in the United States, 1980
Paul Kagame, 1994
Paul Kagame at George W. Bush in the White House, April 2005

In the human history there have been a lot of genocides. The genocide in Armenia at the beginning of World War I with arround 1,5 Million slaughtered people or the systematic murdering of German Jews are only two examples among a thousand others. A lot of them are unknown. We can only avoid such cruel things, if we talk about problems! This section will deal with the history and the background of the killing of the Tutsi in Rwanda:

Before the division of Africa Rwanda was a monarchy with mainly Tutsi-kings. Then, Rwanda was a part of „German Eastafrica“. Conquered in World War II by the Belgians, it became a Belgian colony until 1962. In 1959 the Hutu rebelled against the Tutsi government, where around 10,000 people were killed and around 150,000 Tutsi were sent away. In 1961 around 350,000 Rwandi lived in exile, mainly Tutsi people. From 1962 to 1994 there were 2 Hutu Prime Ministers. While Grégoire Kayibanda was president the Tutsi tried, for the first time since 1963, to get back the power but they were bloodily defeated in this first civil war with a lot of deaths. The following years were overshadowed by massacres and cruelty against Tutsis. In the year 1973 Juvénal Habyarimana revolted against his cousin. And from 1973 to 1994 he ruled as a dictator. Also after the elections in 1978. In 1990 the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) started to attack the country from south Uganda. After a few victories they were defeated by the army of the FAR government. After Paul Kagame, the nowaday Prime Minister of Rwanda, had become head of the RPF, he agreed to an armistice in 1992 with the Hutu-government. After J. Habyarimana was killed, the army and the Interahamwe-militia, extremistic Hutu people, started to kill Tutsi-people and moderate Hutus. Because the UN was unable to help, the RPF started to conquer Rwanda from the North. With a guerillia-tactic they got controll of more and more parts of Rwanda. After 100 days of slaughtering, the RPF declared the the end of the war. Around 800,000 to 1.1 million people were killed in this genocide. The massacre of Nyarubuye in 1994 with 20,000 dead people was one of the war's most heinous masacres. In 1996 the RPF took part in the Congolese War, because of some remaining Interahamwe-soldiers they had to kill, as they said. The Congolese War isn't finished yet. From 1994 to 2003 Pasteur Bizimungu was president of Rwanda. After the elections of 2003 Paul Kagame was declared president.

Kagame and Bizimunga have both been accused of genocide and put before the international tribunal(ICTR)

The genocide of Armenia[Bearbeiten]

Massacres and Deportations[Bearbeiten]

The massacres between 1894 and 1896:[Bearbeiten]

  • 1894: 900 to 4,000 Armenians were killed by local forces when they revolted in Sasun
  • from October 1894 to February 1896: 100,000 to 300,000 Armenians were killed in order of the sultan of this time Abd al-Hamid 2. (Abdul-Hamid 2.), called the “Red Sultan”, because of all the blood that was shed in these massacres. He ordered these killings to decimate and to awe the Armenians, who wanted their freedom; officially he wanted to stop Armenian activists.

The massacre of 1909[Bearbeiten]

  • 1909: 25,000 Armenians were killed because they were said to be supporters of the young-Turkish government, which had ruled since 1908; warships of England, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia and the USA, who could have prevented this massacre did nothing to stop it

The genocide of 1915[Bearbeiten]

  • During the First World War, the Ottoman Empire fought against Russia.
  • In the conflict between the Russians and the Turks in the Caucasus an Armenian minority helped the Russians, because they hoped to get more freedom from Russia.
  • After the Turks had lost in the Kaukasus they blamed the Armenians for that: the government decided that the Armenians had to be exterminated; for this reason they organized troops which mainly consisted of Kurdish people and freed prisoners.
  • Also many people were relocated, the first relocations brought them to the center of the country, but later the relocations were also just used as a measure to kill the Armenians.
  • The total death-toll of this genocide was about 300,000 to 1,500,000 Armenians

The political situation in Armenia today[Bearbeiten]

The politicians of Turkey say that the genocide wasn't planned and that the people had to be killed because the Turkish government had to be worried about ceasing to exist. The government also claims that the people died because of hunger and epidemics. Because of that, according to the government and the definitions of genocides, it could not be defined as a genocide. But this point of view is refused by most international historians.

Sources :[Bearbeiten]

The United Nations and the Genocide in Rwanda[Bearbeiten]

Flag of the United Nations

1.General role of the UN:[Bearbeiten]

The United Nations (UN) have their roots in the 1899 Hague Conventions. Ultimately, they were founded on June 26, 1945 by 51 states, among them China, the United Kingdom and the U.S.A., and became effective on October 24, 1945. Their headquarters are in New York City, but they also have three other seats in Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna. Until today, the membership of the UN has increased to 192 states.

The U.N. have several main organs to function well: those are the General Assembly, the United Nations Secretariat, the Security Council, the - presently inactive- Economic and Social Council, and the International Court of Justice. The most relevant bodies for their main duty, to secure worldwide peace, are the General Assembly, the Security Council and the International Court of Justice.

  • The General Assembly discusses new members and admits them. It can also take decisions (and decide on resolutions) in International affairs and give suggestions, which, however, are not binding.
  • The Security Council consists of 15 members. These 15 members are divided into 5 permanent ones, namely China, Russia, France, The United Kingdom and the U.S.A., and 10 non-permanent members, which are selected every two years by the General Assembly. For decisions and suggestions to become effective, at least nine members of the Security Council, in which delegates of all five permanent members have to be present, have to vote in favour of them. These international decisions and suggestions are binding for everyone.
  • The International Court of Justice consists of 15 judges who are elected every nine years. It serves as a mediator if some states have problems with each other, and puts severe crimes against humanity on trial if the countries themselves are not capable or willing to prosecute the perpetrators.

As already mentioned, the UN’s main duty is to secure worldwide peace. Thus, its tasks are to prevent international conflicts from escalating and to stop these conflicts, preferably without using any violence, but if absolutely necessary with as little violence as possible. Moreover, the UN uses other methods than violence to restore peace in countries. These methods are sanctions for trading (especially embargos), communication, etc.

2.Role of the UN during genocides illustrated at the example of Rwanda:[Bearbeiten]

Positive Role:[Bearbeiten]

Solutions the UN proposed to solve the problem in Rwanda[Bearbeiten]

One of the most important problems the United Nations has to solve is to secure peace on earth. But how can this be reached? Normally the UN imposes an arms embargo on the country in which a genocide happens to stop the import of new weapons. This happened in Rwanda, too. But this was not really successful because the violent Hutus were already armed.

The next step the UN took was to make appeals to the parties which were in combat against each other to stop the war. But this trial changed nothing at all, either. This is why the UN decided that the “blue–helmets” (the peace-keeping forces), who had been stationed in Rwanda before to oversee the elections there, had to be involved in this case. But now Their introduction was to give humanitarian aid to the people there, to give help to refugees and civilians, and to build up safe areas. But they were also forbidden to interfere in the civil-war in a direct way, since their was no international mandate.

Negative Role:[Bearbeiten]

Why didn’t the UN do more against this genocide?[Bearbeiten]

On December 15, 1999 a report by an independent fact-finding commission was published that looks into the role of the UN during the genocide in Rwanda. In this report it is said that clues of this organized genocide had been ignored, and that once it had started, the UN refused to intervene. The commander of UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda), a Canadian general called Roméo Alain Dallaire, referred to the possibility of a genocide, but this information was not taken seriously, nor passed on to the UN Security Council.

The reaction of the Security Council to the genocide is also criticized: Its members were not ready to send an efficient peace-keeping force to Rwanda. Also the UNAMIR-Troops in Rwanda were not adequately equipped for a fighting mission. The lack in will of the UN is explained by their experience during the failed Somalia-mission. All in all, the independent fact-finding commission came to the conclusion that the UN had failed in the Rwanda-mission.

The Conflict in Darfur (Sudan)[Bearbeiten]

Development of the Conflict[Bearbeiten]

Timeline about the conflict in Darfur

The timeline on the right side illustrates the development of the conflict in Darfur (Sudan).

People/Organisations helping in the Darfur conflict[Bearbeiten]

Amnesty International[Bearbeiten]

Amnesty International started the project Eyes on Darfur. This project has the purpose of fighting the media’s ignorance of the topic of the Darfur conflict. People in Europe and America should be better informed about the things going on there, as local media does do not fulfil this need of information. Everybody should be informed that a lot work is being done by local helpers and that also all these helpers are in need of help from the public, too, for example by donating money for helping projects in Darfur. Also they try to stop the war and started the campaign Make Some Noise – the Global Campaign to Save Darfur with some famous musicians like U2.

UNICEF and UNHCR[Bearbeiten]

UNICEF as a humanitarian organisation tries to help in the Darfur region, because of the continuing conflict by giving aid in lots of different ways. Their key ideas of helping are: Controlling and giving additional water supply, taking care of people’s health, protecting and educating children affected by this war. All these projects are financed by the people's donations, about 53$ million dollars (2005) have already been used, but still if donations do not increase, all things that have been done are in danger of a reversal.

The African Union Mission in Sudan[Bearbeiten]

Also the African Union sent troops whose duty is to help in the Darfur conflict especially in keeping peace in this region of Sudan. Originally these troops consisted of about 7000 soldiers. The African Union Mission was fully replaced by UNAMID at the end of 2007.

Individuals who Tried to Help[Bearbeiten]

Oskar Schindler and His List[Bearbeiten]

He is the most renowned private citizen to have helped save people in a genocide due to Steven Spielberg's award-winning film Schindler's List. Schindler was a Sudeten German factory-owner, who saved the lives of 1200 Jewish forced labourers, who were to be killed in Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War.

Schindler was born on April 28, 1908 and died on October 9, 1974. At first, he agreed with the NSDAP. On October 9, 1939 he took over a factory near Krakow (Poland). The former owner had been a Jew. But after seeing how cruelly the Nazis killed and treated the Jews, he changed his former life of being a bonvivant. He decided to save as many Jews as possible and he didn’t care about his life or his money in doing this. For example he requested Jewish workers, who would be killed otherwise, for his factory working for the German Wehrmacht.

Because he had no commercial success after the war and no money, the state of Israel invited him to live in Jerusalem where he died. He was awarded the title of “a just among the nations” for saving more than 1200 Jews from their certain death in the gas chambers.

Romeo Dallaire - Shaking Hands with the Devil[Bearbeiten]

General Romeo Dallaire and a few thousand ill-equipped U.N. peacekeepers were all that stood between Rwandans and genocide. The Canadian commander did what he could to save the Tutsis but he sees his mission as a terrible failure.

The U.N. had sent Dallaire and 2,600 troops to Rwanda to oversee a peace accord between the region's two main groups, the Hutu and the Tutsi. But on April 6, 1994, a plane with the president of Rwanda was shot down and the Hutu started to kill all Tutsis.

Dallaire and his troops were about to become bystanders to genocide. As bodies filled the streets and rivers, the general tried to get help from the UN. He argued that with 5,000 well-equipped soldiers and a mandate to fight the militant Hutu militia, he could stop the genocide, but the U.N. turned him down. Moreover, he asked the U.S. to block Hutu radio transmissions (see also RTLM radio station and its role in the Rwanda genocide).

The Clinton administration refused to do even that because they said that the costs were too high. With only one satellite telephone for the whole mission-Dallaire was able to maintain safe areas for 20,000 terrified Rwandans. But he could do little else, and the killing continued. At the end a group of Tutsi Rebels succeeded in stopping the killing and most of the Hutu who were responsible for the genocide fled to other countries.

Dallaire sill has bad dreams and some problems with his health, because he cannot handle his experiences of the time in Rwanda but he tries to get to terms with his past in a book called Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda. Recently, this has also been made the topic of a movie.

Paul Rusesabagina[Bearbeiten]

During the Rwanda genocide, a hotel manager called Paul Rusesabagina helped about 1,268 people of Tutsi origin that were about to be killed. He became famous especially when the movie "Hotel Rwanda" was made about his rescue of all these people.

Originally he used to be a simple business man that only cared about his hotel, the "Hotel des Mille Collines" and the well-being of his family, who were Tutsi. By the time the genocide broke out, because Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana was killed after signing a peace contract, Paul saw his family and all of his friends in great danger from the fanatic Hutu militia, the Interahamawe.

Thus, he started bringing more and more Tutsi to his hotel and tried to hide them from the public. Soon the military found about them, but he paid bribes in goods and money to them. Because of that he got protection from the military and was able to save almost all of the people in the hotel after they were flown to a safe zone with the help of the UN.

For his efforts Paul was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the USA by George Bush, which is the highest national civilian award. Still today he is active with his Hotel Rwanda Rusesabagina Foundation, whose duty was set to help children and women affected by genocides in African countries.


Somalia - Civil war 2006
Somalia - Civil war 2006

The beginning of the civil war in Somalia was when people wanted to remove Siad Barre from his office as president of Somalia. Siad Barre ruled as a dictator and wanted to reduce the power of the clans, who have always had political influence.

On January 26, 1991, he had to leave his job because of losing the backup from the USA and because of the growing of rebels' power. The North of the country has already declared independence from Somalia and in the South there are a lot of conflicts, on the one hand between the rich farmers and the majority who are nomades and don't have a real home, and also because of the thirst for power of businessmen and so called "warlords". On the other hand the neighbouring countries, especially Ethopia, are not much interested in a stable Somalia. Often there is a mix of these reasons so you cannot say that a certain disagreement is to be blamed on one single thing.

In 1992, the U.N. decided to send the UNOSOM-mission to Somalia because of the famine especially in the South of the country. This mission was to have a look at the situation of the conflict between the different sides who want to rule Somalia and it also was to ensure a certain standard of living for the people. Aidid, one of the men who wanted the most power in Somalia, forced the UNOSOM to leave the country. After that, the USA offered their help and sent another mission known as UNITAF. These two missions worked together from the day when UNITAF was founded. By the way, The German "Bundeswehr" also took part in this project.

In spite of this offer of help, the Somali nation saw the UNOSOM/UNITAF as an occupying force and accused it to be on the side of Aidid's opponent Siad Hersi. One reason for a decrease in international willingness to be involved in Somalia was the “Battle of Mogadishu“, in which 18 U.S.-G.I.s and 1 U.N. soldier were killed by militant rebels under the leadership of general Aidid. Pictures of dead soldiers - American soldiers - were shown in the media. One of the drastic moments was that America and the world saw 2 Delta Force servicemen lynched by a mob and pulled through the streets by rebels after they had tried to save the crew of the shot down Black Hawk helicopter(Super-Six-Four). This led to a swing in American public opinion as to the approach to the crisis of Somalia.

Soon America removed its troops from the area of conflict and, later on, the U.N. also did. When this mission ended, Somalia got out of the view of the international media and nobody cared about it anymore. In this time there were a lot of different attempts at creating a stable government, but of all these failed. The USA got interested in Somalia again in consequence of the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. They thought that Somalia was harboring terrorists and actually they guessed that Osama bin Laden used Somalia as a refuge. The "Islamic Courts Union" got more and more power and the USA wanted to control and reduce it.

But the opposite happened: people joined the Union and it got even more powerful. The Union conquered, among other cities, also Mogadishu and until today there has been peace in the areas controlled by the Union. Nevertheless, experts think that this could easily turn into a situation similar to Taliban-rule in Afghanistan. Not only the USA is interested in an less powerful Union, also Ethopia does not wish for a Union as potent as it was at that time. At Christmas 2006, Ethopia declared war against the Union and pressed them more and more to the South of Somalia . In 2007 an African organisation known as AMISOM was to help to stabilise Somalia, but it has never been able to meet its promises of 8000 soldiers. Now there are only 1600 troops stationed. Moreover, there were fights between troops who prefer the government over its opponents. Especially in March, July and November of 2007 there were a lot of clashes resulting in the displacement of 600,000. The different groups did not abstain from committing war crimes.

To sum up, according to estimations of experts, 350 000 to one million people have died because of the civil war, about one million people have become refugees, a large part of the country is dependent on financial support by relatives and nearly 1.5 million still need humanitarian aid. Despite the anarchy there are many people who enjoy the situation, i.e. the rich businessmen who don't have to pay taxes. These kinds of people who profit from this kind of "government" often help to keep it that way. All in all, there are lots of people who have to participate in illegal activities to ensure their own survival.