Taking Grassroots Activism to the Next Level

In Lemkin’s Shadow: International Court Convicts Rwandan Genocide Perpetrators

December 18th, 2008 by

by Aleek Kahramanian 

On Thursday, December 18, the International Criminal Tribunal sentenced Theoneste Bagosora, Aloys Ntabakuze, and Anatole Nsengiyumva to life in prison for the Rwandan Genocide. As reported in the New York Times, the United Nations sentenced the officers to “life imprisonment for ‘genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.’” The 1994 Rwandan genocide left an estimated 800,000 people dead, and many more displaced and as refugees.

Not only has the recognition of the Rwandan Genocide been a struggle, but the prosecution of the leaders behind the Tutsi genocide has been long overdue. Punishing the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity is an integral component in preventing future atrocities. The fact that these masterminds of genocide have been able to live freely and continue their mission for so long is a stain on humanity.

Last week, the 60th anniversary commemoration of the United Nation’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide — the landmark law spearheaded by Raphael Lemkin — reiterated the moral imperative of punishing leaders who commit such crimes. The fact that the leaders of the Ottoman Turkish Empire went unpunished for the Armenian Genocide only paved the way for Hitler to execute his plans in Nazi Germany. And it has given the green light to successive Turkish governments deny the crimes of their predecessors, creating regional instability some 90 years after the fact.

Do we not celebrate great leaders for their good work? Shouldn’t there be an equal response to terrible leaders who commit such crimes? Today we saw a modicum of justice in the case of the Rwandan Genocide. Tomorrow – perhaps justice for the Armenian Genocide and the end to all genocides.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 8:19 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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