24 Febb- 2010- The Neo-Mask of GenocideŚCollateral Damage
|The Neo-Mask of Genocide—Collateral Damage
Khatchatur I. Pilikian
27 January 2010, Holocaust Memorial Day, 7pm
IJAN, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
Boothroyd Room, Portcullis House, House of Commons, Westminster, London
We all know of course that Raphael Lemkin, who first coined the term Genocide in 1943/44, did not mince his words. He stated that, throughout history, genocide “happened so many times”, and that in the 20th century it happened “First to the Armenians, then after the Armenians, Hitler took action." (Dadrian, V.. History of the Armenian Genocide, p. 350)
The theme of this year's Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration is The Legacy of Hope. With dignified humility, I am honoured to mention that both of my own and my wife’s parents who had dared to survive the genocide of 1915, graced their efforts to educate and encourage our generation with this same Hope--the heritage and the legacy of all the survivors of the Genocide of the Armenians.
Deep in my heart I wish Armenians had no such experience to talk about. Indeed I feel perhaps I would even have been a happier human being if peoples all over the world whether Congolese, Nama, Herero, Abyssinians, Armenians, Assyrians, Kurds, Jews, Palestinians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Poles, Serbs, Kossovans, American-Indians of the North and the Indigenous communities of the South, Timorese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Rwandans, Darfurians, Tamils, and alas many others had also no such terrorising experience. But most importantly, I truly believe that our precious and only world will be a much better place to live, and die for that matter, if that ultimate state terrorism is banished out of existence for all times to come. No wonder this plea, mentioned in an Armenian dictum: “I pray God not to let this evil befall my worst enemy.”
Whenever and wherever it happened, and alas it still happens, genocide is always premeditated, conceptualised and its execution meticulously organised at the highest governmental levels.
Significantly, implementing genocide’s execution always demanded a world turbulence characterising each historical epoch.
During centuries of colonial expansions and endemic wars, genocide and slavery were the necessary masts of the pirating strategy for land and raw material conquest. All colonial powers were engaged in it.
At the dawn of 20th century, the genocide of at least 10 million Congolese, supervised by King Leopold of Belgium, became the first ‘collateral damage’ of the modern era, and that for the plunder of Congo’s rubber, the black gold of its time.
World opinion, still in its infancy, was no more than a feeble gesture. Between 1904-1909, Kaiser Wilhelm was indulging in Germany’s own colonial massacres in Namibia, today rightly defined as the genocide of the Nama and the Herero. The latter were named as the Hottentotte and defined as the “bastards of the human race” by The Kaiser’s proto-Nazi anthropologist Eugen Fischer whose racist theories were to find their direct references in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. (David Olusoga’s programme, Genocide & the Second Rich, BBC2 Bristol, MMIV. www.bbc.co.uk/digital,).
The epoch of Imperialism of the 20th century made a World War somehow the ‘prerequisite’ for any attempt of implementing the execution of genocide as a ‘final solution’. WW1 had its genocide, the genocide of the Armenians, executed by the proto-Nazi Young Turks. Even before the end of WW1, after the British offensive in 1917, the military authorities of the “Young Turks” ordered the immediate and forceful evacuation of all the Jews from Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and from all the adjoining areas too. The probability of another genocide enacted by the same “Young Turks”, this time upon the Jews, opened the eyes of the allied press which thus charged, that: “the Turks were preparing a repetition of the Armenian massacres” (Saadia E. Weltman, Germany, Turkey and the Zionist Movement in The Review of Politics, a quarterly of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, April 1961, p 255). That “repetition” had to wait for another world war, the WW2. And, the genocide of the Jews was accomplished not in Palestine, but in Germany and in all the European countries under Nazi occupation, perpetrated by, what we might rightly call, the Nazi ‘Young Germans’. After all, on his 50th birthday, in 1939, speaking to some Turkish generals, Hitler had eulogised, having in mind an ex-leader of the Young Turks, Ataturk, thus boasting about his own political pedigree, saying: "Ataturk has two great students in this world--Mussolini and me." (Lenox, G. (ed.) (2001) Fire, Snow and Honey – Voices from Kurdistan. Halstead Press, New South Wales, p 479. Quoted in Fernandes, D. The Kurdish and Armenian Genocides. Footnote 78, p.63). It’s worth mentioning here that it was both, Ataturk’s Turkish Republic and its precedent, the Ottoman Empire, that the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk—soon to become a Nobel laureate-- was alluding to, when he confided a Swiss journalist, saying: “Thirty thousand Kurds and one million Armenians were killed in these lands and no one but me dares to talk about it.”.
Soon after WW2, the world opinion was starting to bite. The UN was founded and ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ had finally a name—Genocide, and an International Tribunal (Nuremberg) was set to condemn and punish its perpetrators.
But, even after World War Two, another epochal turbulence, the full-fledged Cold War epoch, ‘acted’ as a ‘shock absorbent’ for horrendous genocides in Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. Towards the end of the 20th century and beginning the 21st, the Cold War finally melted away in the heat of the arrogance of the epoch of Globalisation, while Genocide persists to remain on the threshold of rampant conflicts in all corners of the world. And the new world turbulence is now labelled as the Long War, the latest neo-con synonym for War on Terror.
It’s worth remembering that Lemkin had also deployed the term Cosmos to explain that the philosophy of Genocide Convention of 1948 was based on the “formula of the human cosmos”. Characteristically, he was very explicit, saying: “The cosmos consists of four basic groups: national, racial, religious and ethnic”. Then he argued that the Convention was there to protect those basic four groups of the human cosmos, “not only by reasons of human compassion”, Lemkin insisted, “but also to prevent draining the spiritual resources of mankind.” (Decker, J. Raphael Lemkin’s History of Genocide and Colonialism, p11. Paper for US Holocaust Memorial Museum. Washington DC, 26 February 2004)
With the benefit of hindsight, we might as well venture to say that Lemkin’s ‘formula’, hence Article II of the Genocide Convention, needs an urgent amendment. Meaning, that the ‘human cosmos’ should now be reflected to consist of five basic groups: national, racial, religious, ethnic and political. The simple and obvious reason is that most atrocious acts of violence, including genocide, have been planned and executed to eliminate ‘political groups’ in opposition to, but mostly not tolerated by, the ruling powers of the day. Paradoxically, as Professor Decker of Georgetown University has unearthed, Lemkin himself had included “the genocide of political groups as a recurrent feature” in his unpublished essay “Nature of Genocide”. But, alas, Lemkin seems not to have pursued this crucial matter further. (Decker, J. op. cit. p 9)
The basic question remains: what kind of a world are we living in?"
UNESCO has been warning the world, for decades now, that the greatest shame of the current civilisation is the fact that thousands of children die of hunger every single day. Today that number has reached the staggering 44,000 hungry children dying each day of the year, as if a Hiroshima bomb is unleashed every single day just to kill children. I would like to pose the following: that the Goebbels of this world, “releasing the safety-catch of their pistols”—in modern parlance, cluster, white phosphorus or depleted uranium bombs & co, ill-Ltd --should also be seen responsible for the modern Massacres of the Innocents.
Can there be any doubt that this child cleansing is also the unmentioned genocide of humanity, ongoing and an authentic one at that, which surely is the outcome of our own socio-economic and industrial military system, now coined with cynical panache as Globalisation, whereby tens of thousands of nuclear warheads, each averaging at least 20 times the destructive power of a Hiroshima bomb, are already in deployment all around the world.
Meanwhile billions pour into the pockets of the warmongers of modern metropolises. These warlords of Mammon would eventually thrive in an ‘Inorganic Paradise’—a ‘paradise’ void of universal human rights and sustained by legalised torture; glorification of violence geared towards maximising profit at any cost; xenophobic state terror protected with religious fervour. And, topping as if the macabre orgy, genocide has been already tested, for a century now, to become the collateral damage of its inorganically modernised and sweat-shopped ‘global village’ of hunger and debt
When genocides, torture, poverty and wars are justified as “human nature” or as a historical and economic necessary evil, nay even as historical inevitability of so-called ‘clashing civilisations’, then and there silence acquires an obscene eloquence in support of inhumanity--sheer Barbarism of Total Terror.
In the words of Nazim Hikmet, the Turkish poet laureate of UNESCO 2002:
Insanlar ey, nerdesiniz? Nerdesiniz? = Where art thou, oh, humanity? Where art thou?
Unless, of course, humanity at large will ‘rage against the dying’ of its dreams and refuse to become cannon fodder for the ‘Profane Patrons’ of Genocide: Mammon, Racism and Terror, thus guarding its deeds of tolerance and justice, fair share and good care, compassion and conscience—the true wealth of the world, hence the health of nations.
Khatchatur I. Pilikian. Sometime university professor of music (USA), Pilikian is a performing musician, painter and writer. He has studied art and music at the Fine Arts and Music Academies in Rome and Siena. “Leonardo da Vinci on voice, music and stage design” was the title of his research as a Fulbright scholar at I.U. School of Music. In 1976, he designed and directed, at Wayne State University, the public radio WDET-FM series HARC-The Heritage of Armenian Culture. In 1984, he published Refuting Terrorism - Seven Epistles From Diaspora (in English and Armenian). He has contributed the entry Music and Turner in the Oxford University Press encyclopaedic publication titled THE TURNER COMPANION. The Spokesman for the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation published his paper for the 2005 European Network for Peace and Human Rights Conference, The Spectre of Genocide as Collateral Damage is Haunting the World. In Dec 2004, Pilikian’s choice of the word Bareshen=Built-for-Goodness, graced, as its name, the new AGBU built village in Artsakh-Karabakh. In April 22, 2006, Khatchatur Pilikian produced and directed his original Audio-Visual Libretto—Harmonic Synthesis of Armenian Poems and Music, for the AGBU 100th Anniversary, Montreal Chapter, Canada. His latest book is UNESCO Laureates: Nazim Hikmet & Aram Khatchaturian (Garod Books of the Gomidas Institute). In November 2009, he was invited to Athens to mark the 140th birth anniversary of Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935), the most reverend Armenian composer, with a song recital, under the auspices of the social and cultural centre ARMENIA of Athens, Greece.