Bush Clueless on Concept of Genocide

By Nanor Abkarian

The mass murder and human rights abuses connected to the crime of genocide are arguably perplexing and deeply troubling.

The international legal definition of genocide includes the mental element of the act–"intent to destroy–in whole or in part–a national–ethnical–racial–or religious group"–and the physical element–which includes the killing–causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a group–as well the deliberate inflicting of conditions in order to bring about their physical destruction–in whole or in part.

Although straightforward–this definition–based on the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide–appears to perplex President George Bush–who has demonstrated his incapacity to grasp the term whether it applies to the Armenian genocide at the beginning of the 20th century–or more recently–the genocide in Darfur.

On June 1–President Bush expressed his concern for the genocide in Darfur–marking only the second time Bush used "genocide" to describe the crisis in Darfur; yet–an actual attempt to assist the citizens of Darfur remains insufficient.

In early 2003–black Africans from Darfur rebelled against the country’s Arab Muslim leadership–demanding a power-sharing government. The government of Sudan responded by sending in forces to suppress the rebellion–and sponsoring the militia known as Janjaweed–who have been strategically slaughtering–raping–and starving the citizens of the western region of Sudan–Darfur. Approximately 400,000 people have died–and are dying because of violence–starvation–and disease. Also–more than 2.5 million people have been displaced from their homes–and over 200,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in Chad.

During a meeting with the South African President Thabo Mbeki–Bush admitted–"This is a serious situation–as you know; former Secretary of State Colin Powell–with my concurrence–declared the situation a genocide." The Bush administration has been supplying "logistical aid" through North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to Africa Union (AU) troops. However–according to US Deputy Secretary of State–Robert Zoellick–the US government still shares intelligence with the Sudanese government–which might explain why we haven’t made a real effort–considering the level of efficacy we actually withhold–to help bring an end to the Genocide.

Mbeki believes the United States and other non-African countries should not be asked to deploy troops. "Our view has been that it’s critically important that the African continent should deal with these conflict situations on the continent–and that includes Darfur." Though ideally Mbeki’s opinion might seem correct–it’s not worth debating while more lives are at stake. Like the first genocide of the 20th Century–the Armenian genocide–has been renounced for nine decades–the first genocide of the 21st Century is likewise being overlooked. Hopefully–by the time we take action–Darfur won’t be entirely cleansed.

In a true effort to stop the cycle of genocide throughout the world–the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) has participated in many events–zealously working to terminate the Darfur genocide.

Giving real meaning to the words "never again," the ANCA has protested outside the Sudanese Embassy–spoken at genocide prevention conferences–and generated support for Congressional legislation aimed at ending the slaughter in the Darfur region.

"Genocide denial–of past atrocities or ongoing massacres–only serves to encourage perpetrators–emboldening them with the knowledge that their crimes can be committed with impunity," says Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA.


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