December 9th, 2015 marks the first official international day dedicated to preventing genocide and to commemorating its victims.
This is more than just new words to fill a space on the UN calendar. Commemorating not only honors past victims, but serves to educate and empower future efforts to prevent the world’s worst crime.
But, for the sake of past and potential future victims, reminding ourselves of the consequences of inaction must also spur us to action.
Indeed, that is what we do at United to End Genocide every day and it is reflected in our mission:
“We are dedicated to preventing and ending genocide and mass atrocities worldwide by building a powerful, lasting movement of all those who believe we must fulfill the promise the world made following the Holocaust: “Never Again!”
There is plenty we can be doing today toward preventing and ending genocide and the UN Genocide Commemoration day provides a good time to rededicate ourselves to those actions.
Here are just three:
- Being a Voice for the Rohingya in Burma – The Rohingya are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. Last year, United to End Genocide visited their camps and warned that nowhere in the world were there more known precursors to genocide. A new study by Yale Law School’s Human Rights Clinic has now found “strong evidence that genocide is being committed against the Rohingya.” There is an urgent need for an international commission of inquiry to expose what is happening to the Rohingya and to spur appropriate action by the international community. Join the call here.
- Helping those Fleeing Genocide and Mass Atrocities – Legislation being put forth in the U.S. Congress would effectively block all refugees from Iraq and Syria, including those who are fleeing genocide. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum recently concluded that genocide is already being committed against the Yazidi minority and that crimes against humanity, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing have been committed against Christians, Turkmen, and other minority groups. Turning our backs on refugees is turning our backs on victims of genocide. Add your voice to the efforts to stop this by clicking here.
- Strengthening U.S. Policy Tools to Prevent Genocide – In April 2012, President Obama announced the first ever national strategy for preventing genocide and set up an Atrocity Prevention Board (APB) to ensure it was carried out. The APB has been an important contribution in improving U.S. capability to prevent atrocities. But without action from Congress, the APB could be shut down after President Obama leaves office. A bill to institutionalize the APB will soon be introduced in the Senate. You can add your voice of support by joining our partner group STAND’s #EasyAsAPB actions and staying tuned for future opportunities to encourage the support of your Congressional representatives.
Of course, the seed of all this action is the education and awareness-raising that today’s first ever UN Genocide Commemoration day is meant to enable. You can learn more about past genocides by visiting the Learn section of our website and help spread awareness by sharing the image above.
As President Obama said at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2012, “Remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing.”
Today let’s raise awareness and dedicate ourselves to the action needed to stop the genocides today and prevent the genocides of the future.