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Letters from Downunder

Guilty as charged

Submitted by Lindsay
Melbourne Australia!

I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood (Dec 2, 1859, the day he was executed)

(2/2016) Article two of the United nations convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide includes the following: …genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group , such as:

(1) Killing members of the group

(2) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group

There are four more crimes listed, but these two are the most important. Genocide is the most appalling crime of all time, as it combines the worst of human aims and desires with total unreason. Humans have long sought vengeance upon others, whether through envy, greed, proof of superiority, or, perhaps worst of all, hatred of difference. Such hatred is often brought by on fears that progressively grow over a considerable time, whether it be fear of repression, death or slavery, or whether it is due to entrenched and stubborn diversion from the true way.

Such true ways are more than cultural, they go to prejudices and mystic experiences instilled over many generations by priests and others who revel in the trappings of power. They become the tenets of life, the rigid enforcements of racial superiority, the unassailable beliefs of truth. They are inert to reason, reform and negotiation, and have led to acts considered by those outside to be the epitome of evil. The groups that have gone down this slippery road are from across the world and over the centuries. Much, but not all, is done in the name of belief and religion, and only the small groups have been free from it. The desire to obtain or maintain power and status are always the motive, and our knowledge of it has grown in line with the growth of communication.

Thus repugnance has grown, impelling the only body capable of tackling it to adopt the above rules. That is, The United Nations, founded in 1945 after the second world war and hailed as mankind’s best hope for a peaceful and constructive future. But this above article is never mentioned in the media, nor is it discussed in any forums I have seen. The implications, however, are not only very disturbing, they highlight the dangers that many people could unwittingly be exposed to. These are not war crimes, although these articles resulted from the prosecution of them, because genocide is not a war crime - It is a crime against humanity, carried out by one or more persons whether they are members of a government force or not. It is quite different to murder, as this crime has to target more than a few (how many ‘in part’ means is not clear) with a view of performing one the above.

The other loose term is ‘serious’ - obviously less than death, as that is covered in point one – which makes the infliction of mental harm a vexatious point. It’s easier to say what it is not than what it is: it’s not intimidation except in extreme cases, not domestic violence as that is rarely meant to destroy, and not ‘ordinary’ crime. But consider this: If one gang decides to get even with another it’s just a crime, unless the intent was to wipe them out. Then it’s genocide and punishable in the international court of justice.

The acts that inspired the charter were from the 20th century; the 21st has seen no reduction in them, but rather their escalation. Carpet bombing is genocide. Guantanamo is also, because of the mental harm caused, which is the equivalent of death, no matter the supposed intent. The rules of war are not in place, so what is the difference between Assad’s terror and the Pentagon’s? None, according to these rules. You may say that these articles were drawn up hastily, without regard to future needs, but such was the world-wide disgust over the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans after the breakup of Yugoslavia, and later though parts of Africa and the middle east, that it was seen as essential to put in place rules that prevented those acts of total inhumanity from occurring again without the opportunity of prosecuting them legally.

Seeing that ‘war’ is now a dirty word, (not that it always wasn’t) , other undefined actions have taken its place. They are easier to mount, need no international approval, and can be spun to suit the needs of the day . For example, drones now keep the peace – or at least lull the American populace into the belief that they are safe, which gives a lovely rosy hue to the future. But who decided that any collateral damage, (the most euphemistic phrase of all time) was just incidental and nothing to worry about? Were they intending to kill enemies? Members of a minority, a certain religious cult, maybe a racial type? This could only be justified by imposing their supposed right to overcome the genocide that is going on in Syria and Iraq, but that is still causing nothing less than genocide on a grand scale. Australia and others have gladly joined in to this, which means we are also guilty of the same crime. Or isn’t it genocide when we do it?

This exposes the fact that many countries ignore the crime, but that they also ignore United Nations, who cannot implement its own rules because of that. So how it that body going to deal with the threat of genocide? The development of miniature atomic bombs will surely ‘cause serious mental harm’ even if they are never used. And if they are, on whatever grounds you like, they will kill a myriad of civilians. The UN is overdue for a revitalization, but I cannot see that happening with the three big powers ignoring its charters.

Surely the peoples of the world face enough threats without this. Let’s urge our politicians to give humanity one last chance by taking genocide to court and prosecuting the perpetrators. Yes, yours and ours as well.

Lindsay, from the relative safety of down under.

Read Past Down Under Columns by Lindsay Coker