By DAVID JOSEPH DEL GRANDE
April is Genocide Awareness Month, a time when everyone should stop and remember the senseless violence carried out against unsuspecting populations and work to prevent them from happening again.
Approximately 100 million people have been victims of genocide since Raphael Lemkin coined the term in 1944. Lemkin added “genocide” to our vocabulary in direct response to the Holocaust, and hoped humanity would avoid the deplorable act of systematic mass murder in the future.
After World War II, we promised ourselves genocide would end. But the despicable stain of death continues to plague many nations marked unimportant by the mainstream media that wield the power to bring awareness to these atrocities.
The ethnic cleansing of Palestine began on Nov. 29, 1947 when the United Nations adopted Resolution 181.
Thousands have died as a result of direct attacks between Palestine and Israel, and it is impossible to know how many thousands more have died in the occupied territories due to the apartheid-like conditions imposed by the government of Israel.
Beginning in April 1994, the world watched as almost a million perished in the Rwandan genocide.
The world continues to watch as a similar massacre unfolds in Syria, where more than 150,000 have been killed and millions displaced from their homes.
Other conflicts in Central African Republic, Myanmar and Sudan continue with even less international attention, but the numerous deaths that happen there are no less meaningful.
However, there are some working to bring these issues to light.
Scottsdale Community College hosted its third annual Genocide Awareness Week beginning on April 7. John L. Liffiton, director of SCC’s Genocide Awareness Week, said the United States must remain abreast of the negative impact that genocide has at home, and the dire consequences that accompany any leanings toward isolationism.
“To look at the world and to think that these things are not going to make an impact on us as a country is shortsighted,” Liffiton said. “Everybody who feels like being isolationists, I understand they want the best for America at heart, but it would be remiss on our part as a country not to be interested in what’s going on in the rest of the world.”
Now is the time for action, not standing idly by as innocent civilians are slaughtered.
Genocide Awareness Month is a sad reminder of our brutal past and present, but this painful education can be the catalyst that creates hope for generations yet to join us.
Del Grande believes the world is an interconnected community where each one must teach one.