At some point in its history, every continent in the world has seen the extermination of a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. The fight against these holocausts is now more pressing than ever, and this will be the subject of a seminar to be held in London on 20 April.
It took years – centuries even – to find a word to fit the crime. It was as recent as 1944 that the word “genocide” was used for the first time. Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer with a Jewish family, coined the term in that year and went even further. After escaping Nazi persecution in 1939 and travelling to the United States as a refugee, his aim was to ensure that genocide was recognised as a crime under international law.
However, the history of such crimes, which are perpetrated with the aim of fully or partially destroying a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, is much longer. Lemkin himself pointed to the crusade waged by Pope Innocent III against the Cathar heretics living in France at the start of the 13th century as one of the clearest examples of genocide.
Others point to the destruction of Carthage in 149-146BC and there are even some people who argue that the first genocide was against the Anasazi Amerindians in around 800BC in what is now the United States.
Sadly, recent history also offers plenty of examples of genocide. These include the Armenian Genocide, the Jewish and Roma Holocaust, Kurdish Genocide at the University of Sulaymaniyah in Qaladze, the Rohingya in Myanmar and the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
These examples will be the focus of the seminar “Genocides: The Before and After”, organised by the Universal Peace Federation UK.
Experts in various genocides that have taken place in recent times will take part in the discussion, which will be held two years after the United Nations established 9 December as the International Day of Commemoration and Dignity of the Victims of the Crime of Genocide and of the Prevention of this Crime.
At the time, Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General, said: “Member States and the international community must honour the suffering of the victims of genocide, and of their families, by working even harder against expressions of hatred, intolerance, racism and xenophobia.”
The event will take place in London and will feature (among others) Margaret Keverian (UPF Director), Garen Arevian (from the Campaign for the Recognition of the Armenian Genocide) and Charlotte Simon (from Mothers of Congo).
This is a necessary discussion to raise awareness of the eruptions of hate and violence in which, throughout history, the weakest groups have suffered at the hands of dominant groups.
Date: Tuesday 20 April 2017, 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Location: Universal Peace Federation – 43 Lancaster Gate, W23NA, London. Further information can be found here.
Photos: Pixabay – (Translated by: Roz Harvey)