Holocaust Memorial Day
Today is a day to remember the suffering of millions. It is a time to remember the words "never again". It is a time to consider rising anti-semitism that has no place in our societies.
In the United Kingdom it has recently been reported that one in twenty adults do not believe the Holocaust, also known as The Shoah in Hebrew, occurred and that is truly shocking. Such ignorance demonstrates the need for continuous education on the Genocide, the Holocaust and the many conflicts since that time.
Following the Holocaust, genocide was recognised as an international crime and is generally regarded as the 'crime of crimes'. Genocide denial has also been criminalised in a number of countries.
The Holocaust saw six million Jewish men, women and children killed.
Following the Holocaust, the mantra never again emerged. However, the world saw the Armenian Genocide in 1915-1917 where 1.5 million are believed to have died. In Cambodia, upwards of 2 million are believed to have killed or died through disease, exhaustion and starvation. In Rwanda, about one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 100 days. In 1995 in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed. In 2003, in Darfur, about 400,000 people were killed.
More recently, conflicts in Libya, Syria, Myanmar, and Yemen has seen hundreds of thousands of civilians killed and whilst all instances may not satisfy the narrow legal constraints of Genocide, atrocity crimes committed on such scales demonstrate that there is a clear need to develop strategies on bringing perpetrators to justice.
It is with great sadness that, on this memorable day, we must recognise the chaotic times in which we live. Conflicts in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, autocratic regimes emerging and strengthening in nearly every corner of the globe. The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, rights that we all take for granted in a democracy, have been subjugated by dictatorial and military regimes. Our age will be remembered as a period of renewed conflict, religious and cultural intolerance, a void of accountability, and thriving impunity. New and old autocratic regimes around the globe engage in practices of persecution, displacement and destruction. Such regimes use the arms of government to circumvent the rule of law and seize judicial, law enforcement and state security institutions. It will also be remembered as a time of hopelessness and despair, but it need not be. Evil will only prevail when good men and women truly do nothing and watch silently. It is our duty and our obligation to humanity to rise against cultures of impunity and oppression.