The Neo-Mask of Genocide-Collateral Damage

We all know of course that Raphael Lemkin,who first coined the term Genocide in 1943/44, did not mince hiswords. He stated that, throughout history, genocide "happened so manytimes", and that in the 20th century it happened "Firstto the Armenians, then after the Armenians, Hitler tookaction." (Dadrian, V.. History of the Armenian Genocide,p. 350)

The theme of this year’s HolocaustMemorial Day Commemoration is The Legacy of Hope. With dignifiedhumility, I am honoured to mention that both of my own and my wife’s parentswho had dared to survive the genocide of 1915, graced their efforts toeducate and encourage our generation with this sameHope–the heritage and the legacy of all the survivors of the Genocide ofthe Armenians.       

Deep in my heart I wish Armenians had no suchexperience to talk about. Indeed I feel perhaps I would even have been a happierhuman being if peoples all over the world whether Congolese, Nama, Herero,Abyssinians, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Jews, Palestinians, Greeks,Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Kossovans, American-Indians of the North and theIndigenous communities of the South, Timorese, Vietnamese, Cambodians,Rwandans, Darfurians, Tamils, and alas many others had also no such terrorisingexperience. But most importantly, I truly believe that our precious and onlyworld will be a much better place to live, and die for that matter, if thatultimate state terrorism is banished out of existence for all times to come. Nowonder this plea, mentioned in an Armenian dictum: "I pray God not to letthis evil befall my worst enemy."

Whenever and wherever it happened, and alas itstill happens, genocide is always premeditated, conceptualised and itsexecution meticulously organised at the highest governmental levels.  

Significantly, implementinggenocide’s execution always demanded a world turbulence characterising each historicalepoch.

During centuries of colonial expansionsand endemic wars, genocide and slavery were the necessary masts of the piratingstrategy for land and raw material conquest. All colonial powers were engagedin it.

At the dawn of 20th century,the genocide of at least 10 million Congolese, supervised by King Leopold of Belgium, became the first ‘collateral damage’ ofthe modern era, and that for the plunder of Congo’s rubber, the black gold ofits time.

World opinion, still in itsinfancy, was no more than a feeble gesture. Between 1904-1909, Kaiser Wilhelmwas indulging in Germany’sown colonial massacres in Namibia,today rightly defined as the genocide of the Nama and the Herero. The latterwere named as the Hottentotte and defined as the "bastards of thehuman race" by The Kaiser’s proto-Nazi anthropologistEugen Fischer whose racist theories were to find their direct references inHitler’s Mein Kampf. (David Olusoga’s programme, Genocide & theSecond Rich, BBC2 Bristol, MMIV. www.bbc.co.uk/digital,).

The epoch of Imperialism of the 20thcentury made a World War somehow the ‘prerequisite’ for any attempt ofimplementing the execution of genocide as a ‘final solution’. WW1 had itsgenocide, the genocide of the Armenians, executed by the proto-Nazi YoungTurks. Even before the end of WW1, after the British offensive in 1917, themilitary authorities of the "Young Turks" ordered the immediate and forcefulevacuation of all the Jews from Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and from all the adjoining areas too.The probability of another genocide enacted by the same "Young Turks", thistime upon the Jews, opened the eyes of the allied press which thus charged,that: "the Turks were preparing a repetition of the Armenian massacres" (Saadia E.Weltman, Germany, Turkey and the Zionist Movement in The Review ofPolitics, a quarterly of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, April 1961, p255).  That "repetition" had to wait for anotherworld war, the WW2. And, the genocide of the Jews was accomplished not in Palestine, but in Germany and in all the Europeancountries under Nazi occupation, perpetrated by, what we might rightly call,the Nazi  ‘Young Germans’. After all, on his 50th birthday, in 1939, speaking tosome Turkish generals, Hitler had eulogised, having in mind an ex-leaderof the Young Turks, Ataturk, thus boasting about his own political pedigree,saying: "Ataturk has two great students in thisworld–Mussolini and me." (Lenox, G. (ed.) (2001) Fire, Snow andHoney – Voices from Kurdistan. Halstead Press, NewSouth Wales, p 479. Quoted in Fernandes, D. TheKurdish and Armenian Genocides. Footnote 78, p.63).  It’s worth mentioning here that it was both,Ataturk’s Turkish Republic and its precedent, the Ottoman Empire, that theTurkish writer Orhan Pamuk-soon to become a Nobel laureate– was alluding to,when he confided a Swiss journalist, saying: "Thirty thousand Kurds andone million Armenians were killed in these lands and no one but me dares to talkabout it.".

Soon after WW2, the world opinion wasstarting to bite. The UN was founded and ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ had finallya name-Genocide, and an International Tribunal (Nuremberg) was set to condemn and punish itsperpetrators.

But, even after World War Two, anotherepochal turbulence, the full-fledged Cold War epoch, ‘acted’ as a ‘shockabsorbent’ for horrendous genocides in Cambodia,Indonesia, Timor, LatinAmerica, the Middle East and Africa. Towardsthe end of the 20th century and beginning the 21st, theCold War finally melted away in the heat of the arrogance of the epoch ofGlobalisation, while Genocide persists to remain on the threshold of rampantconflicts in all corners of the world. And the new world turbulence is now labelledas the Long War, the latest neo-con synonym for War on Terror.

It’s worth remembering that Lemkin hadalso deployed the term Cosmos to explain that thephilosophy of Genocide Convention of 1948 was based on the "formula ofthe human cosmos". Characteristically, he was very explicit, saying: "Thecosmos consists of four basic groups: national, racial, religious and ethnic".Then he argued that the Convention was there to protect those basic four groupsof the human cosmos, "not only by rea
sons of human compassion"
,
Lemkin insisted, "but also to prevent draining the spiritual resources ofmankind." (Decker, J. Raphael Lemkin’s History of Genocide andColonialism, p11. Paper for US Holocaust MemorialMuseum. Washington DC,26 February 2004)

With the benefit of hindsight, we mightas well venture to say that Lemkin’s ‘formula’, hence Article II of theGenocide Convention, needs an urgent amendment. Meaning, that the ‘humancosmos’ should now be reflected to consist of five basic groups: national,racial, religious, ethnic and political. The simple and obvious reason isthat most atrocious acts of violence, including genocide, have been planned andexecuted to eliminate ‘political groups’ in opposition to, but mostly nottolerated by, the ruling powers of the day. Paradoxically, as Professor Deckerof Georgetown University has unearthed, Lemkin himselfhad included "the genocide of political groups as a recurrent feature"in his unpublished essay "Nature of Genocide". But, alas, Lemkin seemsnot to have pursued this crucial matter further. (Decker, J. op.cit. p 9)

The basic questionremains: what kind of a world are we living in?"

UNESCO has been warning the world, for decades now, that the greatestshame of the current civilisation is the fact that thousands of children die ofhunger every single day. Today that number has reached the staggering 44,000hungry children dying each day of the year, as if a Hiroshima bomb is unleashedevery single day just to kill children. I would like to pose the following:that the Goebbels of this world, "releasing the safety-catch of theirpistols"-in modern parlance, cluster, white phosphorus or depleteduranium bombs & co, ill-Ltd –should also be seen responsible for themodern Massacres of the Innocents.

Can there be any doubt that this child cleansing is also theunmentioned genocide of humanity, ongoing and an authentic one at that, whichsurely is the outcome of our own socio-economic and industrial military system,now coined with cynical panache as Globalisation, wherebytens of thousands of nuclear warheads, each averaging at least 20 times thedestructive power of a Hiroshima bomb, are already in deployment all around theworld.

Meanwhile billions pour into the pockets ofthe warmongers of modern metropolises. These warlords of Mammon wouldeventually thrive in an ‘Inorganic Paradise’-a ‘paradise’ void of universalhuman rights and sustained by legalised torture; glorification of violencegeared towards maximising profit at any cost; xenophobic state terror protectedwith religious fervour.  And, topping asif the macabre orgy, genocide has been already tested, for a century now, tobecome the collateral damage of its inorganically modernised and sweat-shopped‘global village’ of hunger and debt

When genocides, torture, poverty and warsare justified as "human nature" or as a historical and economic necessary evil,nay even as historical inevitability of so-called ‘clashing civilisations’,then and there silence acquires an obscene eloquence in support ofinhumanity–sheer Barbarism of Total Terror.

In the words of Nazim Hikmet, the Turkishpoet laureate of UNESCO 2002:

Insanlarey, nerdesiniz?  Nerdesiniz? =  Where art thou,oh, humanity? Where art thou?

Unless, of course,humanity at large will ‘rage against the dying’ of its dreams and refuse tobecome cannon fodder for the ‘Profane Patrons’ of Genocide: Mammon, Racism andTerror, thus guarding its deeds of tolerance and justice, fair share and goodcare, compassion and conscience-the true wealth of the world, hence the healthof nations.

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Khatchatur I. Pilikian.Sometime university professor of music (USA), Pilikian is a performingmusician, painter and writer.  He hasstudied art and music at the Fine Arts and Music Academies in Rome and Siena. "Leonardoda Vinci on voice, music and stage design" was the title of his research as aFulbright scholar at I.U. School of Music. In 1976, he designed anddirected, at Wayne State University, the public radio WDET-FM series HARC-TheHeritage of Armenian Culture. In 1984, he published RefutingTerrorism – Seven Epistles From Diaspora (in English and Armenian). He hascontributed the entry Music and Turner in the OxfordUniversity Press encyclopaedic publication titled THE TURNER COMPANION. The Spokesman for theBertrand Russell Peace Foundation published his paper for the 2005 EuropeanNetwork for Peace and Human Rights Conference, The Spectre of Genocide asCollateral Damage is Haunting the World. In Dec 2004, Pilikian’schoice of the word Bareshen=Built-for-Goodness, graced, asits name, the new AGBU built village in Artsakh-Karabakh. In April 22, 2006,Khatchatur Pilikian produced and directed his original Audio-Visual Libretto-HarmonicSynthesis of Armenian Poems and Music, for the AGBU 100th Anniversary,Montreal Chapter, Canada. His latest book is UNESCO Laureates: NazimHikmet & Aram Khatchaturian (Garod Books of the Gomidas Institute).In November 2009, he was invited to Athens to mark the 140th birthanniversary of Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935), the most reverend Armeniancomposer, with a song recital, under the auspices of the social and culturalcentre ARMENIA of Athens, Greece.

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