Genocide Awareness Month
April is recognized as Genocide Awareness Month, a time to remember and raise awareness about the atrocities committed in the past and present. The purpose of this month is to educate people about genocide, encourage people to take action to prevent genocide from happening again, and remember those who have been affected by genocide. Genocide is the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. It is a heinous crime that violates fundamental human rights and leaves a permanent scar on the history of humanity. The world has witnessed many genocides throughout history, including the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide Against Tutsi, the Cambodian Genocide, and the Bosnian Genocide.
Perhaps the most infamous example of genocide was the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah. Throughout the course of the genocide more than six million Jews were killed by Nazi Germany during World War II.
The Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsis took place in 1994 in Rwanda and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The Bosnian Genocide took place during the Bosnian War from 1992 to 1995. The genocide targeted Bosniak Muslims and was carried out by Bosnian Serb forces and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 100,000 people.
It can be daunting to imagine how these atrocities can continuously happen, but if we look further into the “why”, we see that it almost always boils down to the desire for power, the propensity for bigotry, and the manipulation of people’s fears. Genocide Awareness Month is an opportunity to remember the victims of these abominable acts and to raise awareness about the importance of preventing genocide from happening again. It is also a time to recognize the efforts of activists, scholars, and policymakers who work to prevent genocide and bring perpetrators to justice.
One of the most important things we can do during this time is to educate ourselves and ask what we can do to be better, how can we avoid the propagandizing that leads to these acts of violence. We can sit down and discuss with one another about the warning signs of genocide. By studying and recognizing these signs, we can then take action to prevent genocide from occurring.
Finally, people can support organizations that work to prevent genocide and support victims and survivors. These organizations include the Genocide Watch, the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Genocide Prevention Advisory Network.
By embracing each other’s humanity, we realize we are not all that different from each other. In fact, we have far more in common than not. This Genocide Awareness Month we can remember to do right by one another, and we will become a better world because of it.