Stopping genocide

March 6th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes in the Manawatu Standard:

What do you know about Rwanda, aside from the fact that it was the scene of an infamous genocide?

Not much, I’d wager. I’d be surprised if you could name the capital city, the principal religion and the languages spoken or point to the country’s position on a map of Africa.

Well I was in Kigali in January so can name it!

Rwanda is only famous because up to a million people were murdered there in a killing spree of such barbaric ferocity that it shocked the entire world in 1994.

The most charitable interpretation of the West’s involvement in the matter is that it was caught unawares and so could not take any substantive measures to stop it from happening. Bill Clinton cites this as the biggest regret of his presidency (and, remember, he once had the chance to take out Osama bin Laden).

But let’s imagine that a Western coalition had deployed to Rwanda and averted the butchering. Would that action now be held up as a great vindication of liberal interventionism in foreign affairs? I have my doubts.

The things that do not happen do not tend to command our attention.

The building that didn’t catch fire yesterday isn’t front-page news. Nobody sees the jobs not created when businesses can’t afford the investment. The murder that doesn’t happen leaves no victims to weep over.

Had genocide been averted, the reality is we could never actually be sure we had prevented anything at all. There are no controlled experiments when it comes to human events.

Who could say for certain that the tensions would not have otherwise de-escalated?

That’s not to say that coverage of the intervention would have been neutral. You can bet your bottom dollar that there would have been plenty of grumbling and criticism about the West’s involving itself in the troubled region. After all, the presence of foreign troops would not have resolved the deep divisions in Rwandan society. There would have been no quick fix.

So there would be claims from some quarters about the whole mess being caused by Western colonialism in the first place – and that further intervention was only making things worse.

Some would question why Rwanda was being singled out for this imperialist adventure when there were so many other ethnic conflicts in Africa, Eastern Europe and the Balkans going on at the same time. Others would claim that the Tutsis were as bad as the Hutus and that, since the Rwandan Patriotic Front was hardly perfect, we had no business dirtying our hands by getting involved.

Had New Zealand got involved, you can be sure there would have been accusations that the prime minister was toadying to the United States in the hopes of winning some elusive trade deal, as if any contribution we could make would be sufficient to exact any meaningful concessions from the protectionist US Congress.

In other words, there would have been all the same objections we hear about Western intervention in the fight against the Islamic State (Isis) today.

A good point that we rarely know the counter factual. In Kosovo though it is safe to conclude intervention saved tens of thousands of lives.

So in such a situation, what can one do? I know that political columnists are supposed to effect an air of world-weary cynicism – but there is always the option of trying to do the right thing.

Isis makes no secret of its plans for the Christians, Jews and moderate Muslims who fall into its clutches. Every day brings more news that the organisation’s deeds are more than a match for its words.

However morally corrupt and compromised the Iraqi regime is, it cannot be worse than the satanic caliphate banging on its door.

Those who claim we should do nothing because it means some of our allies are less than perfect ignore history. Was it wrong for the UK and US to ally with Stalin to defeat Hitler? Of course not.

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

October 28th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

This was Security Prison 21 (S-21) and is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. Tuol Sleng means Hill of the Poisonous Trees.

It used to be a high school, but was turned into a torture centre. Around 17,000 to 20,000 were imprisoned here, with as many as 1,500 at a time. Almost all of them were tortured until they confessed to something.

When this place was liberated they found 14 corposes here.

The 10 rules of the camp, translated.

See those dark areas on the floor. That’s blood.

A photo of one of the corpses they found at the camp.  They were kept chained to the bed.

The torture included electric shocks, hot metal instruments, hanging, cutting with knives, suffocated with plastic bags, pulling out fingernails and pouring alcohol on wounds.

Pardon the reflection from the glass but near impossible to avoid. These are a small portion of the thousands of photos up on the walls of victims.  They were tortured and killed – not for anything they did, but just because of the paranoid genocidal rulers. One New Zealander also died at this camp.

The barbed wire was there not just to stop prisoners escaping, but on the higher levels to stop them killing themselves by jumping off.

This was a typical cell where one or more people would live.

The Cambodian flag flies at permanent half mast here.

Of the 17,000 who went into Tuol Sleng, just three survived.

The commander of the camp was Kang Kek Iew or Comrade Duch. He was free from 1979 to 1999. He lived abroad in Thailand and China and worked as a teacher of English and maths. He then became a christian lay preacher and once remarked “I don’t know if my brothers and sisters can forgive the sins I’ve committed against the people”.

He was right. A photojournalist tracked him down in 1999, and in 2007 he was put on trial. He was found guilty of crimes against humanity, torture and rape.  He was eventually given a life sentence with no parole. He is aged 59.

His prison cell will be like a five star hotel compared to the conditions in the prison he supervised.  Some crimes can never be atoned for, and his fall into that category.


Minto compares Bush to Hitler and Amin

October 22nd, 2009 at 4:05 pm by David Farrar

It’s great to be reminded how fruit loopy the far left are. John Minto blogs:

It was dispiriting to see a group of secondary schoolboys hounded by media as they entered the Auckland War Memorial Museum to apologise for their behaviour at a school outing earlier this year when they paid mock homage to the swastika. …

They weren’t intending disrespect to the Jews, gypsies, communists and homosexuals who all faced Nazi extermination efforts. Surely we need to lighten up a bit here.

The same applies to the Lincoln University students who dressed up as Nazis and Nazi victims for a fancy dress party a few weeks back. There were howls of rage and profuse apologies all round and disciplinary action followed.

Was the same action taken against those who dressed up as Osama bin Laden, Idi Amin or George Bush? All of these figures could rightly be condemned for war crimes and genocide.

Yes of course dressing up as George Bush is the same as dressing up as Nazis. I mean, after all, they are all guilty of genocide.

I just love it that there really are people who equate Bush with Hitler. Even after Bush retired from office in accordance with the constitution. They spent years darkly warning of how Bush would become a military dictator supported by the industrial-military complex. Yet somehow we now have Obama as President and a Democratic House and Senate.