“Damned if you speak up, damned if you don’t” the dilemma faced by humanitarians when they seek to help the victims of egregious crimes against humanity. Dr Tedros, the head of WHO decided to speak up on the catastrophic situation in Tigray, Ethiopia – setting an example to the leaders of other international organisations.
The genocidal conflict in Tigray has sucked in many of Ethiopia’s varied ethnic groups, and polarised positions. Some critical questions and answers.
From womb to tomb, girls and women are exposed to male violence in every neighbourhood, everywhere.
The civil war in Tigray, Ethiopia is a year old. It is the biggest active armed conflict in the world with millions blockaded and denied humanitarian aid, even as massacres and sexual violence abound, and famine is getting established. Distinguished scholars and researchers from around the world appeal for the blockade to be lifted as prerequisite for negotiations and eventually peace.
Faceless victims get forgotten and faceless offenders go unpunished. That is how justice is truly blinded. That is also why egregious human rights abuses including mass atrocities and genocides need a face.
Experience shows there are no shortcuts, quick-fixes, avoiding tackling underlying causes and ignoring the bringing of justice and healing to end a war & sustain #peace. Also, while all wars eventually end, how long and viciously a war is fought has a direct bearing on the quality of peace that follows.
When #genocide acts are part of the warmaking, forging peace is substantially more difficult.
What are these and other lessons from war and peace around Africa and the world?
Will #Ethiopia #Tigray learn? And others engaged in endless conflicts in so many places.
Is genocide unfolding in Tigray? Against the Rohingya? Against Uyghurs? Does using the G word still have the moral authority to summon help? Have genocides ever been prevented? Before invoking ‘genocide’, what exactly is it? Is the Genocide Convention still stuck in the 1940s, while dictators and despots find ever more clever ways to get around the definition? Reflections here from my own personal journeys through genocide – some even as they were underway.
When confronted by egregious human rights abuses, or war crimes and crimes against humanity including genocide, does speaking up make any difference? Especially if words are not followed by action? There are at least four reasons why it is still crucial to speak out, and how doing so can be effective. Also what matters is the pedestal of the speaker. The higher that is, the greater their responsibility to speak out. Of course,the rhetoric-reality gap is often vast and it is easy to get cynical. But silence or ambivalence kill and destroy much more. So, speak up clearly and loudly to wake up even the dead.