When Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. this week, there are many who hope he will again speak the word that global leaders have been reluctant to speak: Genocide.
In remarks made last June while in Bolivia, the Holy Father proclaimed, “Today we are dismayed to see how the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus … a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”
It is hard to ignore the horrifying images of the humanitarian crisis gripping northern Iraq and Syria in recent years: families struggling atop Mount Sinjar in a desperate attempt to flee ISIS death squads … ethnic minorities gunned down en mass for refusing to abandon their faith … the wholesale destruction of historical monuments and holy places.
Yet these images are incongruous with our modern sensibilities. Such barbarous accounts are more consistent with the brutality of the Middle Ages. Surely in the enlightened 21st Century we have learned from past mistakes.
After all, when the allies descended upon a defeated Berlin in the spring of 1945, the world drew a collective gasp of horror as the full measure of Nazi death camp atrocities was realized: Six million Jews and five million assorted “undesirables” systematically exterminated, entire families slaughtered, and cultural heritage decimated. How could mass murder of such astounding proportions have been hidden in plain site? Polish-born Jewish lawyer and scholar Raphael Lemkin gave this carnage a name: genocide.
“Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation,” wrote Lemkin in his magnum opus, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe.
“It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.”
Out of the ashes of the Holocaust, and to international cries of “never again,” Lemkin would lead a nascent United Nations in the adoption of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
Today, more than 130 nations have ratified the Genocide Convention and over 70 nations have incorporated the punishment of genocide into domestic criminal law. Numerous studies have been conducted, data collected, and international conferences convened with the noble aim of preventing genocide.
Yet in the 21st Century, we are still talking about genocide. Or are we?
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: The Christian Post
Erin Rodewald is a Los Angeles-based analyst, writer, and editor specializing in foreign policy, international relations and American politics, and a contributor to the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative. You can follow her on Twitter at @EDRodewald.