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Serbia brings Genocide Charges Against Croatia

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Serbia has filed charges against Croatia, accusing the European nation of genocide. Check out the article at the following link.

Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj with volunteers walk through Negoslavc in 1991

Serbian leader Vojislav Seselj with volunteers walking through Negoslavc in 1991

Written by Sultan Ahmed

January 4th, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Posted in News Stories

Genocide Rape as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

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“Lovely female shapes are terrible complicators of the difficulties and dangers of this earthly life, especially for their owners,” wrote George du Maurier.

There is a group of people that have a decidedly unique experience with regards to genocide and war. This group comprises over 50 percent of the world population, and yet goes ignored the most often. They are the bane of every man’s existence and his greatest pleasure as well. They are women, and they have a distinct war story to tell.

It is important, however, that before we speak of the unique aspects of the female experience, we talk about the experiences shared by the two sexes in times of genocide. We are all familiar with what I am talking about, but rarely do we acknowledge that women are part of the atrocities of war that occur every day. Women are buried side by side with men in Serbia. Women were put in gas chambers in Auschwitz. Women were dismembered and their limbs discarded in Croatia. Because we label these acts as crimes against humanity, or the like, we often lose the all too important recognition that individual human rights were indeed violated. The individual becomes lost in the woodwork of the larger population which is targeted for extermination.

As for the unique aspect, women are targeted sexually during times of war to a far greater degree than are men. This is not to say that men are not the victims of sexual crimes, as was seen at Abu Ghraib - just that women are subject to them more often. As such, these crimes are often put on the backburner or swept up as a component of a larger conflict. We might know there were concentration camps in Croatia. However, much less is made of the camps designated specifically as rape camps, camps at which the focus was forcibly raping and impregnating Croatian and Muslim women. It is common knowledge that Nazis used Jewish citizens to conduct scientific experiments. Few, however, know that these experiments included forcing prostitutes to have sexual intercourse with frozen men to see if they could successfully revive and warm them.

Some of you may be wondering why I bring this up. The more knowledgeable among you may be thinking that you already know these things happened, and you don’t understand the significance of it. I invite you to examine sexual crimes against women in the modern era. Rape and related sexual crimes have increased drastically, occurring at alarming rates in Darfur, the Congo, East Timor, Sri Lanka, and nearly all similar conflict areas. Military personnel, as well as forced civilians, are party to these crimes. However, the trend of sweeping these crimes under the rug has not yet ended. They continue to be considered as a natural byproduct of war or as individual crimes not to be prosecuted under the laws of war.

There is a new call, however, for a special designation of rape as a weapon of war, or rape as a war crime, and the argument has merit. Rape, when conducted in the context of war, adopts a very different countenance. The scale increases greatly. The intent is also changed, not to mention the systematic nature the crime often adopts. Not to downplay domestic sexual crimes, but they are generally conducted on an individual level, and the motivations often reflect that. In cases of genocide, the dynamic is quite different. While the intent to dehumanize is still present, it is coupled with intent to harm a specific population, and often, to cripple that population’s backbone. Most importantly, however, the crime can no longer be dismissed as a crime of passion or lack of control. Rather, as is demonstrated by the rape camp example above, it is conducted systematically under controlled settings, the commands being passed down from the higher-ups to those who are to carry them out.

Unfortunately, there is no precedent for prosecuting genocide rape, and so it remains largely unnoticed and ignored. In its scale and effect, genocide rape is no different than a weapon of mass destruction, and it should be treated as such.

This is an article I wrote for The Observer, the campus newspaper at Case Western Reserve University. For the original article, go to

Written by Sultan Ahmed

January 4th, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Posted in Genocide Watch

A Bit O’ Ideological Conflict: Something to Think About

with 9 comments

Before delving into the specific pragmatics of genocide occurring around the world, I think it would be beneficial to identify the international community’s moral dilemma in deciding a policy toward these situations.

According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Article 3, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

“Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.” – Article 28, Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Despite these articles contained within the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it remains a wonder that genocides continue to occur around the world, and that the United Nations refuses to intervene. So the question is obviously why?Why doesn’t the United Nations intervene, militarily or otherwise? It seems blatantly obvious that they should protect human rights. While this may seem like the most tempting option, it is always important to consider the other point of view, and to consider said view, we must first identify the major conflict.

So we know that the United Nations has a moral obligation to protect global human rights. It’s in their documents, and it’s part of the founding intent of the organization in the first place. Nevertheless, in the magical world of moral obligations there is always one which is arguably just as important, or even more important, than the obligation currently being discussed.

The question then becomes, what is currently trumping the United Nations’ obligationto protect global human rights? As Mallaby of the Washington Post reported in March of 2007, “Hu [Jintao] called on nations to respect the sovereignty of Sudan.” That is the policy stance the United Nations has currently adopted.

Both points of view have legitimate logical arguments behind them, and they both merit examination.

Keep in mind that this is just a brief synopsis of the points. Hopefully this short introduction will inspire you to learn a little bit more about the issue.

The Argument for Human Rights: Well, this shouldn’t be that difficult. Naturally, the purpose of government is to protect human rights. It’s really the reason government is formed. Most political philosophers including John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Plato, and John Rawls would agree with this. So, government loses its value when it fails to protect the rights of the people. The purpose of a state is to protect rights, and government is the tool used to accomplish that goal. When government fails to protect rights, the tool is broken. So, it merits replacement or repair. Simply put, when national sovereignty comes into conflict with human rights, sovereignty loses its value because the purpose of sovereignty is to provide a mechanism to protect human rights.

The Argument for National Sovereignty: These arguments are a little different . The human rights argument is deontological, meaning the results of actions are irrelevant. In deontology, morality depends on why we should do things, not what happens when we do them. The pro-national sovereignty argument is the opposite; it’s consequentialist, meaning that the results of an action determine whether or not it is moral. So typical “sovereigntists” argue, first of all, that national sovereignty protects autonomy and national identity. Making national boundaries arbitrary by allowing international intervention homogenizes the world, and cultural uniqueness dissipates. Second, it’s a slippery slope. If we let the international community intervene in such situations, what’s to stop them from extending the same principle and intervening on a whim? Most convincingly though, this side of the argument cites empirical evidence to show what happens when a foreign power steps into another country. Examples include Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Cuba, etc…Basically, the point is that things just get worse when the international community intervenes, and nothing is solved, so there’s really no point in going in at all.

So which option is right? I’ll leave that for you, my readers to decide. I invite you to post what you think, and I shall respond accordingly…


Written by Sultan Ahmed

November 20th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

Posted in Genocide Watch