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Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Eight Stages of Genocide

Crossposted from my new outlet, Cosmodaddy

How can we predict and prevent genocides? Greg Stanton outlines his groundbreaking theory on the eight stages of genocide: classification, symbolization, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, extermination and denial.

Genocide in Darfur, he argues, has proceeded through these stages before our eyes. Genocide could have been prevented by means of intervention at any one of a number of critical points in the past, but the international response has amounted to too little, too late.

This has always been the case and I don't see this changing anytime soon, despite the best efforts of fantastic groups like Avaaz though groups like them remain our best hope, as does the work of people like Stanton who help people understand that - yes - things can be done and that genocide is not some 'natural, unstoppable force' like an earthquake or a tornado.

One starting point would be for those responsible for doing nothing to be seen to learn lessons and admit their errors. For 'never again!' to mean anything, it's essential. This is why the campaign around Belgium, for example, to own up to its horrific history in the Congo is so important, as important as for Serbia to own up to its role in the Balkan's genocides in the 90s.

It's also close - very close - to home. This is from a post of mine last year about Hillary Clinton's claim that she tried to stop the Rwandan genocide.

Rewriting history over Rwanda
The Americans weren't alone. The British, the French, the Belgians and much of the rest of Africa all either didn't do anything or actively stopped aid. They all looked for their own interests and none had any interest in stopping genocide.

It was Britain's ambassador to the UN, Sir David Hannay, who proposed that the UN reduce its force. A year after the slaughter, the Foreign Office sent a letter to an international inquiry saying that it still did not accept the term genocide, seeing discussion on whether the massacres constituted genocide as "sterile". Then Ministers John Major, Douglas Hurd, Malcolm Rifkind and Lynda Chalker have never even been asked about their role.

Virtually no-one emerges heroically (Canadian peacekeeper Roméo Dallaire is one and his view on Clinton's claims would be interesting to hear). In fact I would urge anyone to make themselves read the harrowing background as an object lesson in international power politics and its victims - a million of them in Rwanda. There's a blog which covers the 100 days before and during the slaughter in detail. 'A People Betrayed' by Linda Melvern is very good.

For Hillary to now try to adopt that heroic mantle is, as commentators have noted, worse than 'monstrous'.
Almost - almost - as monstrous as this comment from Gordon Brown:
"You cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is actually going on and the public opinion would grow to the point where action would need to be taken."
Where is Twitter on the genocides happening right now in the DR of Congo? Or the slaughter of indigenous people in Peru? Where is Brown? Where is Sarah Brown!?

Here is a list of the genocides taking place now in the world.

The media doesn't give a damn and, unfortunate but true, neither do most Twitter users.

HT: Domino

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