Friday, April 30, 2010
Genocide Commemoration / Survivors of Genocide
April and Genocide
By Gerald Caplan
The Globe and Mail, April 30, 2010
"[...] Time after time the survivors told virtually identical tales: Being classified as some kind of filthy insect that needs to be eliminated in order to cleanse society, to make it pure. The sudden transformation of neighbour, friend or teacher into mortal enemy. Your physical separation from the larger whole. Losing track of other members of your family. Witnessing a beloved relative murdered before your eyes. The peculiarly gruesome, sadistic nature of the killings. The desperate escape to anywhere else. Hiding in the marsh, the forest, the hills. Living in holes in the ground like an animal. Taking refuge in disgusting outhouses. The numbing of the senses. The disappearance of everyone else of your kind. The terror. The isolation. The interminable wait for the victors -- the RPF, the Viet Cong, the Soviet or American armies. The miraculous appearance of one of the mob as a furtive protector. Being saved just when you were sure it was over. The complete disorientation of rescue.
The search for family. The confirmation of the most terrible fears. Being saved yet being the living dead. The search for justice. The need to survive. The shock of grotesque genocide denial. The realization that the world moves on, with or without you. These were the common themes that played themselves out in Boston last week, as they do wherever and whenever survivors gather to tell their stories. They remind us that human nature knows no distinctions based on race or colour or nationality or ethnicity or religion. When there are humans there is the capacity for evil. That's the first lesson re-learned from genocide survivors every April. Prevention begins with the knowledge that it has happened before and, if we let it, it can happen again. [...]"