Genocide Today

July 18, 2016
Catherine Jang Granada Hills Charter High School 11th grade

Catherine Jang
Granada Hills Charter High School 11th grade

Genocide was a term coined by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish- Jewish lawyer in 1944 to describe the horrors of the Holo- caust. Unfortunately, today, the term is so often used that peo- ple do not think twice about the meaning of it. Not only does genocide mean the killing of a race, it also means the killing of a child who may as well be your own.

“When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained si- lent; I was not a communist… When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn‘ t a Jew. When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out.” – Martin Niem?ller

In America, the four freedoms- freedom of speech, free- dom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear – are taken for granted. Living in a first world country, most Americans believe the genocides occurring in the Middle East are not their problems. However, if we remain silent because we are not directly affected, who will speak up for us when we are in trouble?

Recently, a few groups of AP World History students at Granada Hills Charter High School were given the opportunity to view the horrors of the Rwan- dan Genocide through the movie Hotel Rwanda. It carries the story of a man named Paul Rusesabagina, a Hutu man who worked to save his Tutsi family and neighbors from death.

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Many students complained that the movie was too gory or disturbing. While the movie was both gory and disturbing, it was also a way to peer into the world of injustice, abandon- ment, suffering, and death. It allowed students to feel the pains of the Rwandan Genocide at a much more personal level, educating them far more than the jargon-filled textbooks ever could. Through this experience, I personally felt that it seems almost disrespectful to those who lost their lives to lightly brush these deaths off our shoulders.

These events are not events of the past. Even today in Syria, what started as an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad has become a violent conflict between local and international forces. In this struggle, the Syrian government and other for- eign influences continue to perpetrate great atrocities against civilians. Meanwhile, in America, some people could not care less. However, it is our responsibility, as citizens of a leading first world country, to care.

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