SHAFAQNA – The Islamic Human Rights Commission staged its annual Genocide Memorial Day event at the P21 Gallery in London this weekend. The theme of this year’s GMD was Failures of International Institutions in preventing genocide: Myanmar’s Rohingya and Bosnian genocides. It comes in the same month that the Zionist movement promotes Holocaust Memorial Day – an exclusive highlighting of Nazi atrocities against European Jews in the last century which was arguably then used to justify the creation of a ‘Jewish homeland” – ironically one which today arguably administers the longest ongoing genocidal act on the planet, alongside that of India upon Kashmiri’s, against the people of Palestine.
GMD began in January 2010 with the convergence of two ideas. The first necessity was to counter the idea that some genocides are more extraordinary than others and therefore worthy of greater attention. The second necessity was that this wouldn’t just be a theoretical remembrance but begin to identify current genocidal practices with a view to stopping them.
IHRC is a campaigning organisation, which believes it is important for us to not just commemorate the past but also to recognise the genocides and/or genocidal acts taking place in the modern era, with a view to stopping these from happening in the present or the future. The IHRC team’s philosophy for this project rejects the notion that there is a hierarchy of victim depending on their background. By highlighting the people and power structures who have perpetrated genocides or genocidal acts, they say they “want to hold the perpetrators to account within the framework of GMD, as well as remember the victims of these genocides and genocidal acts.
Renowned speakers addressed questions such as ‘the difference between ethnic cleansing and genocide’; about ‘the silence of the international community and Aung San Suu Kyi in the Rohingya crisis. The panel agreed that the situation of Rohingya Muslims is really grave and undoubtedly, a genocide is taking place in Myanmar’s Rakhine state as confirmed by even the United Nations which has ‘expressed deep concerns’ about the scale of the disaster.
The event also explored what lessons have been learned from the Bosnian genocide and highlighted the failures of International Institutions in preventing such atrocities. Geopolitical interests of State actors alongside the economic agendas of transnational Corporations were also cited as causal factors in the emergence of genocidal environments.
Genocide, however, doesn’t happen suddenly. Experts say “There are stages which lay the foundations for such extreme crimes, stages at which genocide can be prevented.” The gradual process by which a society can descend to the depths of mass murder has been broken down to eight stages by these academics studying the history of genocide. They further argue that “these steps may sometimes overlap but what is clear is that there is a pattern of events which leads toward such crimes against humanity, and that pattern is the same whether it is happening in Germany, Rwanda, Bosnia or any other society.” It was the same for the eradication of Native American and Aboriginal populations by Western Imperialism and if you asked the Eleven million Bangladeshi victims of a famine deliberately allowed by Winston Churchill and the British Empire’s decision to empty the granary stores of India in the 1940’s, they would testify to their own genocide. A little kniwn but dark episode in its history which Britain still conceals today, whilst proudly celebrating Churchill’s heroism with a statue in Parliament Square.
Speakers at the conference included Maung Zarni – Genocide scholar and Burmese human rights activist, Ramon Grosfoguel – Professor at the Department of Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley and Daniel Feierstein – Director of the Centre of Genocide Studies at the National University of Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Professor at the University of Buenos Aires. Demir Mahmutcehajic, Bosnian activist and co-founder of Islamic Human Rights Commission, also spoke at the event.
The panel also touched on elements within the eight stages of genocide cited by some academics : classification, symbolisation, dehumanisation, oganisation, polarisation, preparation, extermination and denial. In this process first the idea of ‘us’ and ‘them‘ is created in people’s minds. ‘They’ are different to ‘us’. The differences then get picked on, and common ground is deliberately ignored. Secondly this other group is singled out and identified with symbols, and if say we were to apply this process in the case of Islamophobic attitudes against Muslims in the West today these symbols could be parts of the traditional Muslim dress code, like the hijab or the beard. Thirdly there is the phenomenon of ‘dehumanisation’ – the other group is painted as inferior, their lives are not valued in the same way, ultimately they are seen as less than human. This doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a slow drip-drip-drip of a process.
Experts say “these first steps involve nothing more than words – but they pave the way for denying all rights and freedoms, and ultimately for killing the people who have been labelled in this way. These steps it is argued are an essential part of the process of genocide because it becomes acceptable to commit crimes against those who are not seen as fellow human beings, but as a terrible threat that must be eliminated.”
Depopulating a burgeoning planetary population could seem an attractive proposition to a structural elite increasingly turning to automation and artificial intelligence to replace humans as the primary production units in the corporate imperative of making profit. Genocidal acts triggered by politically engineered conflicts wars, mass migration, racial hatred, nationalism and religious difference are a reality and so too are their consequences – one of which is undoubtedly depopulation. However there is also the looming old threat of nuclear arsenals in the hands of psychopathic individuals and establishments like Donald Trump and the US industrial military arms complex – more than capable of delivering genocidal depopulation. Vaccine programmes, climate mismanagement, biological weapons, genetically modified foods are arguably other choices available to profit focused elites and their State and transnational corporate levers of power to use genocidal acts in managing humanity.
Around forty two people hold the same wealth as 3.7 billion of the poorer half of the planets population. This is just one of the tangible traces of the shadowy structural elite footprint; a genocidal elite that like to play god with the lives of the oppressed. Ultimately, though, the oppressors war is not just against humanity; but against the very balance and nature of the Divinely ordained fitri order of Allah (swt) Himself. The scale of their power resources and wealth is hard to resist or match, for a populace that is mostly divided subjugated and ruled. It is, however, historically the case that the Divine chooses to remind oppressors of their injustice, and His All-Powerful existence, when they reach the zenith of their arrogance. We suspect that time is close again.