Last month I was to launch of my latest book, Humanity at its Worst – Genocide, Mass Atrocities Violations of Human Rights in the 21st Century, however due to the coronavirus the launch will have to wait for a while. Given now that I have this weekly column in the Milénio Stadium newspaper, it has afforded me the opportunity to elaborate over the course of the next few weeks on the book and the themes that are covered in the various chapters. The book serves as an introduction to some of the most egregious events in modern history. These include mass atrocities, terrorism, and genocides that have occurred in the twenty-first century in various locations across the world. Through consideration of atrocities and genocides, the book seeks to examine the horrific acts which are the violent destruction of a community or group premised upon that group’s culture, language, or race. This examination encompasses various regions of the world, including Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Myanmar, and several locations in the Middle East.
Incomprehensible crimes committed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators during the Second World War were examined, however, the book cannot seek to fully review this period, as thorough coverage of this subject has already been provided by a vast body of work. The Holocaust is justifiably the most examined event of its kind in human history, due to the Nazi regime’s evil intentions and meticulously coordinated efforts to annihilate a specific group of human beings. The Holocaust was one of the most defining moments in human history. It was a crime against humanity unlike any the world had ever witnessed, and it fundamentally altered the way acts of genocide are examined. The Holocaust provides many important lessons that can be applied in order to assist in preventing such events from reoccurring.
The challenge is to ensure that these lessons are remembered, disseminated, and applied. In this way, the world can honour the memory of the many people that humanity failed to protect. The Holocaust altered humanity forever, and it was with this heavy burden in mind that I accepted the Prime Minister´s diplomatic appointment to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as the Canadian Chair in 2013. Initiated in 1988 by then Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson, IHRA’s objective is to promote Holocaust education, remembrance, and research. Currently, it has expanded from three founding members (Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States), to thirty-three countries. IHRA is a unique international body in that it consists of a combination of both government diplomatic representatives and non-governmental Holocaust experts—academics, museum professionals, educators, and researchers. It is governed by the principles expressed in its founding document, the Stockholm Declaration, which emphasizes the importance of upholding the “terrible truth of the Holocaust against those who deny it,” and of preserving the memory of the Holocaust as a “touchstone in our understanding of the human capacity for good and evil.”
Since the Stockholm Declaration, international organizations such as the Council of Europe and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have made Holocaust remembrance a fundamental part of their mission. And, in November 2005, the United Nations declared January 27th—the date in 1945 when Russian forces liberated Auschwitz—as the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.
Genocide is no new concept for the twenty-first century world, and accordingly, the book unveils in a systematic manner the abysmal conditions of the victims of genocide as well as their present-day crisis. We attempt to objectively divulge layer by layer the reality of twenty-first century genocide from the corpus of the lives of the victims of the same. The book not only paints the reality of the nations infected by the epidemic of genocide but does so in a comprehensive and orderly manner by dedicating each chapter to a singular region so that all facts come to the surface for evaluation.
The commonality as well as the uniqueness of each genocide is considered in this compilation. Beginning with Darfur and ending with Nigeria, crossing several territorial and temporal borders in between—be it documenting the ongoing genocide in South Sudan, recognizing the early warning signs of genocide in Central African Republic, or examining the all-embracing extent of genocide in Myanmar, which is the most recent addition to the list of twenty-first century genocides.
The book also examines civil war situations that could be termed no less than genocide—such as the continuing struggle of Yemen, which faces air bombings even today; or Nigeria’s war with Boko Haram, a group infecting the country with its extremist presence and preying on the sections of society made most vulnerable by their age and gender.
The book is available for sale at Indigo and at http://www.mosaic-press.com/ .
*Mario Silva, PhD (law), Distinguished Fellow, Ryerson University