In 2003 300,000 people were brutally murdered in the Darfur province. Eight years before the tragedy of Darfur another genocide took place in Bosnia, and just one year before that 800,000 were killed in Rwanda. These are just some of the most recent examples of mass killings in history. The human race has a horrible past when it comes to genocide and hate crimes. In 1941 the Holocaust took place throughout Germany and claimed the lives of nearly 12 million human beings. After the terror of the holocaust people believed that nothing like it could ever happen again. For nearly 45 years this was true and there were no mass deaths. Unfortunately it did not last and another tragedy in cambodia claimed the lives of another 2 million people. With the repeating patterns of genocide we must look into the past in order to prevent more horrors. Even today hate crimes are rampant throughout modern day america. We must wonder how this is possible after the atrocities of the past. The education system across the globe has failed to teach children about the human races dark times, and it has lead to the continuation of hate crimes and genocide into the present day. In order to prevent future atrocities we must teach and discuss the mistakes of the past across the globe.
In order to remember we start in Cambodia 1975 where nearly 2 million were killed in one of the worst genocides in history. Khmer Rouge took control of the cambodian government and advertised he was turning the country into a communist country. His regime moved people to camps similar to the ones in nazi Germany. People with educations and prominent leaders were the first people targeted, then the elderly, handicapped, and children because of their inability to perform harsh labor. Even the youngest were not saved from the regime cruelty, in fact they operated off of the belief that in order to stop the weeds you must also pull up their roots(United to End Genocide). People across the world were aware of the atrocities going on in Cambodia. Unfortunately neither the United states nor the European Union acted to save the lives of the millions that were being slaughtered in the regime's killing fields. The U.S had recently lost the Vietnam war causing them to be reluctant to take action. Public opinion of the genocide eventually became stronger but never amounted to action. Hate in cambodia was rampant throughout the 1970's. Unfortunately the conditions today are following many of the patterns that caused genocide in the past. According to the Washington Post hate crimes in the U.S's 10 largest cities have increased by twelve percent last year(Hauslohner). With hate crimes on the rise we must wonder if the messages people receive as children are causing an influx in hate. By discussing the horrors of the past and exposing children to other ethnicities it is possible to help prevent the possibility of further genocide.
Rwanda was yet another time in history when the terrors of human hate ended with the mass killing of thousands. A civil war had broken out between the tutsis and hutus in the early 1990's. A peace treaty was created between the two groups, but when a plane was shot down carrying the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi the war broke out again. The Hutu rebels took over the streets of Kigali and Within a day, the Hutus had successfully eliminated Rwanda's moderate leadership. As the weeks progressed, Tutsis and anyone suspected of having any ties to a Tutsi, were killed(United to end Genocide). The radio became the Hutus most powerful weapon, upon which speeches encouraging citizens to go to the streets and kill those of the tutsis minority. The radio was also used to justify the mass killings by dehumanize the tutsis by calling them animals and cockroaches which made it easier to kill them. The radio was able to mask the genocide, instead portraying it as a slave rebellion by telling stories of oppression under tutsis rule. In addition to the rampant murder rape was used as a weapon to destroy the tutsis ethnicity. Throughout the genocide it is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped. It was considered another way to destroy the Tutsi ethnic group, through both the emotional pain (so the woman could die of sadness), and through the health problems that would be a result. Often times, women did not even have to succumb to the aftermath of rape as they were often immediately killed right after(United to end Genocide). The genocide occurred in the late 20th century were again the international powers were well aware of the horrors happening in Rwanda. Unfortunately none of the world powers were willing to get involved. The New York Times and Washington Post both wrote articles that describe the genocide and the six feet tall piles of bodies that scattered Rwanda streets. The U.S deliberately didn't call the massacre in Rwanda genocide which kept them from being involved. In fact when the UN peacekeeping nation finally decided to help the tutsis the U.S was on the forefront backing the UN's exit of Rwanda believing that it would cause an expensive war for America. Unfortunately this was one of the worlds most efficient massacres in human history in which 800,000 were killed in the span of 100 days. Much like the Holocaust killings were brutally efficient and humanity was nonexistent. Both genocides targeted a minority group and blamed the group for their past suffering. By recognizing such future patterns we will be able to prevent and stop genocide before it begins.
One of the best ways to help people understand the horrors of the past is by providing an example of someone telling the story first hand. The novel Night by Elie Wiesel is an account of the authors experience in surviving the Holocaust. Elie is just arriving at Auschwitz one of the main concentration camps in Nazi germany when he is shocked by the sheer brutality and says Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky(Weisel 76). First hand accounts are one of the best ways to educate people about the atrocities that have happened to millions of people in the past. This example shows some of the horrors an everyday person witnessed and struggled through. If people can understand how terrible actions such as these can affect a person then they will be more motivated to respond in future situations. After the Holocaust the United States pledged that Never again(United to End Genocide) should the crime of genocide happen. Yet again and again have similar horrors happened and the U.S and other nations stood by while innocent people are slaughtered. No person should ever have to go through the horrors of genocide. Even after someone has survived they are never the same. After the holocaust was finished elie was in the hospital when One day when I was able to get up, I decided to look at myself in the mirror on the opposite wall. I had not seen myself since the ghetto. From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me (Weisel 115). Even though Elie was liberated he feels the death of his fellow people. The feeling will never leave him which is not something that any person deserves. He feels the death of his Dad, Mom, and sisters along with the millions of other people he witnessed slaughtered during the Holocaust. The effects of such loss is unimaginable to millions of people across the globe. Elie's story has been able to motivate thousands of people across the globe. Unfortunately there are many stories just like his that have gone untold. If more people are able to hear about stories like Elie's then more and more people will want to step up and help if something similar to these previous genocides were to happen again.
The tragedies in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Germany were just a few of the examples of mass genocide in human history. People like Elie are present day living examples of the affects genocide can have on a person's life. Elie lost his family, friends, and people during the Holocaust; his life was turned upside down and changed forever. The possibility of such cruelty often surprising to many but unfortunately it has not been enough to stand up for others facing more recent genocides. The tragedy in Rwanda was ignored by the world and 800,000 lives were lost as a consequence. In Cambodia 2 million died in yet another genocide that went unnoticed by the world. Patterns such as these are how genocide has even become a possibility which in the past lead to reality. When people do not voice their concerns and disagreement against atrocities people are hurt, families are lost and the human race is torn apart. Hate roots from the early beginnings of childhood. Revisiting what children are taught in school and at home could be critical to reducing hate and even genocide in future generations. Ultimately, standing by while people are heartlessly slaughtered should not be how the human race functions and therefore things must change. From prevention that starts from childhood to stopping genocide when signs first appear, together the human race can end genocide.
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