David Alton and Luke de Pulford: Britain must lead the world towards tougher action against genocide

This article was first published on www.conservativehome.com

Luke de Pulford is a member of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission and the Co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response. Lord Alton of Liverpool, a Crossbench Peer, is a Patron of the Coalition and sponsor of the Genocide Prevention Bill which recently received its First Reading in Parliament.

Last Tuesday, the US House of Representatives passed a historic resolution naming the murder of 1.3 million Armenians as a genocide.

It was historic in more ways than one. These killings, at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, occurred in 1915, and it’s taken 114 years to name this as the crime above all crimes – something that the UK, still failing to stand up to Turkish bullying, has signally failed to do.

But the real importance of the US decision is not historic, it’s contemporary.

On Monday a new Coalition for Genocide Response is being launched in Parliament to ensure that new genocides – like those against Yazidis and Christians in Iraq and Syria, Rohingya in Burma, or Uighurs in China, won’t have to wait a hundred years before a genocide is named.

Why does the name matter?

Because the 1948 Convention on Genocide lays on its signatories – including the UK – the duty to prevent, to protect, and then to bring to justice those responsible. It’s exactly to avoid having to do these things that governments of all shades have refused to describe atrocious crimes as acts of genocide.

That’s why a Bill was recently laid before Parliament to take away the decision from politicians and to put it into the hands of the High Court. Judges can then look at the evidence and make a preliminary declaration if they believe that a genocide is being committed.

Adama Dieng, the UN’s Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, puts it well when he says “Genocide is a process. The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers. It started with hate speech.”

Genocide requires planning, it requires preparation, it requires organisation, and above it all, it requires our ignorance of the red flags.

The consequences of our ignorance and our failure to act can be vividly seen at the Genocide Museum in Yerevan; at Israel’s Yad Vashem, where one of us stood just a few days ago; and at the genocide sites in Rwanda. What they have in common is that holocaust and genocide doesn’t happen overnight.

Professor Gregory Stanton of Mason University conducted research into the various stages of genocide and suggests ten that lead to the annihilation of peoples, ethnicities, faiths, and vulnerable minorities. These ten steps to a living hell are certainly useful analytical tools in explaining how infamous episodes of our tainted history have unfolded.

Studying these ten steps helps to distinguish situations that are escalating into mass atrocities. But the exercise is rendered worthless unless there are commensurate steps to fulfil the Genocide Convention’s triple duties of preventing, protecting, and punishing.

To have a better chance of preventing future infamies, we need to be canaries in the mine – always looking for the poisonous gases that lead to the mass graves and grievous obscenities of Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Iraq and Syria, and to the hideous camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Bergen Belsen and the rest. And we need to have the ability to name this crime – the crime above all crimes – for what it is.

Take the situation in which Uighur Muslims in Western China now find themselves. At Monday’s launch of the Coalition for Genocide Response we will hear a first-hand account of what is underway in Xinjiang.

We will hear how an estimated one million Uighurs have been detained in camps to be “re-educated,” brainwashed, intimidated, and reprogrammed. In reality, the camps are far removed from any concept of education and operate like prisons.

As you consider the following, apply Professor Stanton’s ten steps to genocide. In a letter sent to Terry Branstad, the US Ambassador to China, by Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Chris Smith, they say:

“Thousands are being held for months at a time and subjected to political indoctrination sessions. Many have reportedly been detained for praying, wearing “Islamic” clothing, or having foreign connections, such as previous travel abroad or relatives living in another country. Reports have emerged of the deaths of detainees… there are reports that torture and other human rights abuses are occurring in overcrowded centers secured by guard towers, barbed wire, and high walls.”

What is afoot is undoubtedly in breach of Article II of the UN Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide: “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Other acts, including ‘Killing members of the group’ and ‘Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group’ also apply.

And using the Stanton Index there also are other indicators of genocide. Uighur DNA is being taken in the camps. This has happened to Falun Gong practitioners, whose organs have been forcibly and lethally harvested.

And as well as disrespecting the living even the dead are disrespected.

In 1984 George Orwell wrote that: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history”. To destroy the Uighur’s history and identity over 40 Uighur cemeteries have recently been destroyed, with bones and ancestors’ remains scattered.

And we know who have questions to answer. Men like:

  • Chen Quanguo: Secretary of the Party Committee of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the first secretary of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, the first political commissar.
  • Wang Junzheng: Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee of the Party Committee of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
  • Wang Jiang: who is currently the Party Secretary and Deputy Director of the Judicial Department of Xinjiang

One day, those responsible must be brought to justice.

In the short term, Magnitsky powers –promised by the Government in the recent Queens Speech – should be used to target the overseas assets of those believed to be responsible for egregious violations of human rights, paving the way for crimes against humanity and genocide.

At Monday’s launch Dr Enver Tohti, a former cancer surgeon from Xinjiang, will say why he believes a genocide against his Uighur people is underway. He has previously testified in the British, Irish, and European Parliaments about the forcible removal of organs, and says China continues to carry out illicit organ-harvesting.

In Xinjiang, he has presented evidence that China is acquiring mass collection of DNA from individuals not suspected of any crime through mandatory health examinations that include DNA collection, for ulterior purposes, and high rates of cancer among Uighur patients after their exposure thermonuclear blasts.

In 1997, Dr Tohti leaked his findings to a team of western journalists and an undercover documentary film about the nuclear tests was made in 1998: “Death on the Silk Road”. The documentary was broadcast in over 80 TV channels, including in Japan and on Channel 4 in the UK. As a result, he was forced to leave Xinjiang and was granted refugee status in the UK in 1999.

Dr Tothi says: “the world must wake up to the realities of the Genocide underway against the Uighurs. Unlike the Armenians it mustn’t take a hundred years before we name it for what it is.”

The Coalition will be launched at Westminster on Monday November 4th at 4.00pm in Committee Room 2A of the House of Lords. The Patrons include Baroness Helena Kenned QC, Justice Michael Kirby and Sir Geoffrey Nice QC.

Major new coalition launched in parliament to confront contemporary genocide

On Monday, 4th November, the Coalition for Genocide Response was launched in Parliament. The purpose of the Coalition is to bring renewed energy and innovation to address an urgent human rights crisis: the failure of the international community to prevent, suppress and punish mass atrocity crimes. 

The Coalition’s Patrons include Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, Justice Michael Kirby, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Professor Gregory Stanton and Lord Alton of Liverpool. Supporting organisations already include Oxford Human Rights Hub, International State Crime Initiative, Yazda, Genocide80Twenty, Genocide Watch, Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS) and the European Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. 

Speakers at the launch included Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Wael Aleji, of the Syriac National Council in Syria, Dr Enver Tohti representing Uyghur Aid, Lord Alton, and the founders of the Coalition, Ewelina Ochab and Luke de Pulford. 

Reflecting on last week’s decision by the U.S. House of Representatives to name the killing of 1.3 million Armenians as a Genocide Dr Tohti, a former cancer surgeon from Xinjiang province in China, and who is a Uighur, said “the world must wake up to the realities of the Genocide underway against the Uighurs. Unlike the Armenians, it mustn’t take a hundred years before we name it for what it is.”

Welcoming the launch of the Coalition for Genocide Response, one of its Patrons, (Baroness) Helena Kennedy QC, said: “Genocide always starts with hatred and demonisation on the “Other”. Such dehumanising invariably leads on to discrimination, rape and other violence but if steps are not taken it can end in mass murder. We know these are the steps towards extermination yet the world has failed to invoke international law In the face of horrifying wrongs in current events This Coalition is the call out for Justice and Action.”

Dr Gregory Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch, said: “The Coalition for Genocide Response is needed now more than ever. As Darfur, ISIS, Syria, and Myanmar have shown, we are far from stopping genocide. Human Rights NGO’s, governments, international organizations, humanitarian and religious groups must get out of their stovepipes and combine our efforts to prevent genocide.”

Background to the Speakers:

Wael Aleji, is a British citizen of Syrian origin; part of the Syrian opposition; and a former member of the Syrian National Council, the first political body to represent the opposition following the uprising of 2011. He spoke about the continuing risks of genocide to minorities in NE Syria, the evidence and mass graves of Iraq, and the role of State actors such as Turkey, and genocidal militias such as ISIS. 

Sir Geoffrey Nice QC was a prosecutor at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Croats. He recently chaired the Independent Tribunal into forcible organ harvesting in China. He spoke about the insufficiency of the current international system to prevent, suppress and punish mass atrocities;-the need for a new organisation to campaign for new ways for states to honour their obligations under the Genocide Convention; and the purpose and benefits of the new Genocide Prevention Bill which recently received its First Reading in Parliament.

Ewelina Ochab is a Legal Researcher, Author of Never Again: Legal Responses to a Broken Promise in the Middle East and ‘Religious Freedom’ in Christianity in North Africa and West Asia, and with Pieter Omtzigt, ‘Bringing Daesh to Justice: What the International Community Can Do’ Journal of Genocide Research. She spoke on our failure to prevent, protect, or punish and why we need a new institution to breathe new life into the 1948 Convention on Genocide. 

Luke de Pulford, is a member of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, Director of the Arise Foundation, Parliamentary Director of recent campaigns in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong and Genocide against Yazidis and other minorities in Northern Iraq.

With Ewelina Ochab, he is Founder of The Coalition for Genocide Response and spoke on why the Coalition is needed and how it will work. 

The event was chaired by David Alton (Lord Alton of Liverpool), a Crossbench Peer, a Patron of the Coalition and sponsor of the Genocide Prevention Bill, which recently received its First Reading in the House of Lords 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2019/11/04/as-brexit-continues-to-divide-britain-a-new-genocide-response-initiative-aims-to-unite/#545f6c284dc8

https://davidalton.net/2019/11/03/major-new-coalition-launched-in-parliament-to-confront-contemporary-

For Enquiries: lukedepulford@icloud.com 

Nadia Murad’s vow to take ISIS to court, and her heartbreaking return home

She wore a scarf in our first interview because she did not want you to know her. She was a humble 21-year-old from a poor farm family. Her dream was to own a hair salon in her village of nearly 2,000 but, that was before the massacre. She didn’t want to be on “60 Minutes.” But she needed the world to know what ISIS did. The murder, the rape, the genocide of her people. Five years ago, in Iraq, we discovered this hesitant, frightened, woman. We did not imagine her scarf concealed not only her identity but also a fierce invincibility which would lead her, four years after our interview, to the highest honor the world has to give.

Full article: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nobel-peace-prize-recipient-nadia-murad-and-amal-clooney-vow-to-take-isis-to-court-60-minutes-2019-10-13

Trump’s advisers gave him option to recognise Armenian genocide as tactic to pressure Turkey

Donald Trump’s advisers offered him several options aimed at fulfilling his desire to pull back U.S. troops in Syria without allowing Turkey to commence its incursion. One tactic on the table: threatening to recognize the deaths of millions of Armenians and members of other ethnic minorities under the Ottoman Empire as a genocide, a National Security Council official told Newsweek.

Whether or not the deaths of up to a million and a half Armenians and hundreds of thousands of Greeks and Assyrians in 1915-1923 should be termed a “genocide” is a controversial topic in international relations. Turkey, the modern-day successor to the Ottoman Empire, rejects that these events constituted a systematic campaign to slaughter ethnic minorities, but more than 30 countries and governments have gone on the record to say it does.

Full article: https://www.newsweek.com/trump-option-armenian-genocide-pressure-turkey-1466115

We Are Not Equipped To Prevent Genocide

“Genocide is a process. The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers. It started with hate speech” said Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide. Mr Dieng was speaking at the UN remembering the Rwandan genocide when he made this statement. His words reflect a fundamental truth about genocide and how it operates. Yet it does not necessarily help us to prevent genocide. Again and again, we miss the red flags and genocide continues to occur. This is very clearly seen from an analysis of the genocide perpetrated by Daesh.

In early 2014, Daesh unleashed a genocidal campaign against religious minorities. Its goal was to eliminate religious pluralism from the Middle East (with a particular emphasis on Iraq and Syria) and to establish a purely Islamic state (in accordance with Daesh’s perverted interpretation of what it would involve). Daesh brought about this genocide by way of mass murder, torture, abuse, slavery, rape and sexual abuse, forced displacement, and much more.

Name a crime, Daesh has been perpetrating it.

Full article: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ewelinaochab/2019/06/10/we-are-not-equipped-to-prevent-genocide/#cc41d4845e81