A Crime Against All of Humanity
University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida.
Oral History Item Type Metadata
I think what causes the average person to cross the line, so to speak, and to commit genocide is really—it’s a basic instinct, and it’s a basic element of fear. I really think that it’s not really built on just pure hatred; it’s built on the fear that the other group is out to get them, and that’s part of the propaganda that usually the organizers and the orchestrators promote. And I think that’s what it is. It’s a fear. The person that picks up the machete begins with the fear, and then it turns into hatred.
I think that in recent years, especially after the events of Rwanda, you are seeing more of a proactive international community. I think in the past, people thought that what happened within someone’s borders was a purely domestic issue. But there are some crimes that transcend borders, that cross nationalities, ethnic groups, and become a fully international issue. In a sense, it truly becomes a crime against all of humanity. I think what happened since 1994 in Rwanda, the international community has started to accept its responsibility as a community to help prevent these things from happening and also punish perpetrators. We see that with the establishment of the Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. We see that in the speeches that we’re starting to hear in the United Nations now, that people are in fact recognizing that these atrocities are occurring. They’re speaking out. They’re speaking out against it and telling the respective governments that may be responsible that they must stop. People are starting to use the power of sanctions, the power of influence, to prevent this from happening; and also, as we saw in Kosovo, the use of limited force. So I think we are seeing more action by the international community, but I think the better course of action would be for this not to happen at all. I think what we need to see now is just an overriding respect for international humanitarian law at all levels. Governments must realize that you cannot have your will on your population; you cannot employ your might in order to get your way. The people have a basic right to live, a basic right to survive, a basic right to move forward as a group. Everyone needs to understand that, and when we get to that point, hopefully we’ll never see these crimes again.