A Canadian academic and author on the Rwandan Genocide, yesterday insisted that only countries that have faced Genocide atrocities are capable of putting into practice the “Never again” slogan because they know the pain and devastation they suffered.
Prof. Gerry Caplan, a leading Canadian authority on Genocide and its prevention was delivering a lecture on Genocide at the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) yesterday.
He said that there is historical evidence that since the Holocaust of the Jews, the international community kept vowing “never again” but it happened in Balkans and later in Rwanda
The professor added that it was up to countries that had suffered Genocide to apply the “Never Again Principle” because the International community has over years totally failed to honour the slogan.
“The ‘never again’ I am talking about here is the ‘never again’ for the countries that have seen it and are determined not to see it happen again in that particular country,” he said.
“Otherwise, ‘never again’ is a huge promise for those who haven’t seen it and they are pretending to care about it or they are pretending to stop it in the rest of the world---it is a promise that has never been kept.
“Never trust anyone who vows “never again”. No one who has pledged never again has ever lived up to that promise. In the rich world, the phrase has become an empty rhetoric of politicians and dignitaries on ceremonial occasions”.
“Every American President makes a passionate speech about ‘never again’, usually about the Holocaust or the Genocide---from Jimmy Carter, to Bill Clinton and George Bush,” said Caplan.
He pointed out that even with the formation of the United Nations, Genocide continues to happen before the eyes of the world.
Caplan noted that even after the whole world was exposed for failing to stop the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, which claimed over one million lives, the world could only watch as Genocide unfolded in the Darfur region of Sudan.
He hailed Rwanda for upholding the principle exemplified by the country’s commitment to send troops to the embattled Sudanese Region to ensure that another Genocide doesn’t take place.
Caplan warned that there is no guarantee that there won’t be any more Genocides and Holocausts as there are individuals who will always want to see such atrocities. He said that where Genocide has happened, there are always Genocide deniers like it is the case with Rwanda.
“This is part of nature, if humans are perverse enough to incite Genocide, why shouldn’t we expect them to deny and cover up their pervasiveness?” said Caplan.
He observed that genocide is usually not about ‘the killers and their victims’ but involve many other outside players.
For Rwanda, it involved the Catholic Church and Belgians who since the 19th century had been dividing Rwandans on ethnical lines, making it possible for Genocide to occur.
Caplan is a PHD holder in African history and is an internationally recognised expert on the 1994 Genocide.
He authored a 300-page report; Rwanda the Preventable Genocide for the International Panel of Eminent Personalities to investigate the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.