Monday, January 12, 2009

Our Crimes Against Humanity, Our Crimes Against Ourselves

The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as:
1. humankind. 2. the condition of being human. 3. compassion or benevolence

Merriam-Webster defines it as:
1: the quality or state of being humane 2 a: the quality or state of being human b: (plural) human attributes or qualities defines it as:
1. all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind.

2. the quality or condition of being human; human nature.

3. the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence.

By its very definition, the word humanity postulates that the true embodiment of being human is to be kind, benevolent, and humane.

Yet, we, all human beings collectively, are a party to the murder and bloodshed of our own kind. What have we done while our humanity ebbs away with every passing moment as more people are brutally murdered, raped, and tortured?

In our homes, our soft comfortable havens of warmth and protection, we are far away from the atrocities of Darfur, where a poor farmer cannot bury his eldest son who has died in his arms from gunshots to his back. We are not there as our human brethren ravage his village, burning down homes, killing men and children, raping girls and women.

John Holmes, the U.N. top humanitarian official, states that sexual violence, growing malnutrition, human rights abuses and attacks on humanitarian convoys are all adding to an already serious situation in Darfur. as many as 100,000 more people may have died in Darfur over the last two years as a result of violence, disease and malnutrition.
"A study in 2006 suggested that 200,000 had lost their lives from the combined effects of the conflict," said John Holmes. "That figure must be much higher now, perhaps half as much again."
He explained later his figures were only an estimate and not an official U.N. figure.

The UN says that more than two million of the estimated six million population have fled their homes, but the organisation is reluctant to suggest how many might have died in total.
Some analysts are estimating that the true death toll could be four or five times higher than the 70,000 figure.

As you watch your television set, surf your internet, or play your video games, rockets launch missiles that destroy schools full of children in Gaza. Soldiers drop bombs and shoot artillery at men, women, and children as they run from their homes fleeing exploding buildings, rapid gunfire aimed at their heads, and jets armed with guided missiles.

Israeli mortar shells exploded Tuesday near a U.N. school in Gaza sheltering hundreds of people displaced by Israel's onslaught against Hamas militants, killing at least 30 Palestinians, tearing bodies apart and staining streets with blood. Israel's military said its shelling was a response to mortar fire from within the school, pressing its assertion that Hamas militants are using civilians as cover. Two residents of the area who spoke by telephone said they saw a handful of militants firing mortar shells from a street near the school.

"There's nowhere safe in Gaza. Everyone here is terrorized and traumatized," said John Ging, head of Gaza operations for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. [iii]

In Mexico and Guatemala, people are being murdered as a result of greed and drugs.

In Northwestern Mexico, ten victims of violence attributed to the ongoing war between rival narcotics gangs and the Mexican government were found near Tijuana and Culiacán. Four of the bodies were decapitated, according to local law enforcement. Police at Tijuana, which borders California, were alerted to four of the bodies and found the separated heads in plastic bags nearby overnight on January 8, 2009. Three of the victims were minors. [iv]

Representing over 143 distinct parishes, Catholics and other Christians converged upon the colonial era church protesting their fatigue over murder, rape, abductions, drug addiction and drug-related violence. Incursions of Mexican drug cartels, bolstered by violence committed by Central American gangs called “maras” have caused a feeling of insecurity throughout Guatemala, which already has a legacy of violence and killing left over from a decades-long civil war. A recent survey showed that 78 percent of Guatemalans polled are afraid to go out in the street, while 90 percent fear kidnapping. [v]

Iraqi families struggle to find safety and sanity amidst the gunfire and hate.

Blackwater, which is responsible for the protection of hundreds of American and other foreign officials in Iraq, says the guards' convoy came under attack from insurgents. Eye witnesses and family members maintain that the shooting was unprovoked. "I was driving. My sister was beside me in the car," said businessman Mohammed al-Kinana, who lost his son in the tragedy.

"Her three children were in the back seat and my son was directly behind me. My sister grabbed my head to pull me down. Those men, they just kept shooting and shooting. "They shot in all directions. At the trees. At the police hut. They kept shooting at the first car until it burst into flames."

In that first car to reach the intersection were Mahasin and Ahmed al-Rubaie, wife and son of Dr Haythem Ahmed al-Rubaie. Ahmed was shot, then his mother died from gunfire while she was cradling her son in her arms. [vi]

In Liberia, men, women, and children suffer disease and pain due to multiple gunshot wounds left untreated after a decade-long war.

Tenneh Dolocon was under one year old when she was shot during the height of fighting in 1996. Strapped to her mother's back, she took two bullets – one passed through her shoulder, the other lodged in her thigh. For most of her childhood Dolocon suffered chronic infections. In 2006, she was diagnosed with osteomyelitis, characterised by infected tissue migrating towards bone. Doctors at Mercy Ships, an international medical charity that operates a fleet of hospital ships, operated to remove the dead tissue and the bullet lodged in her thigh. [vii]

Bosnian families still suffer the scars of horrible genocide.

Ten years after the war in Bosnia ended we have come back with Channel 4 news to meet the forgotten victims of sexual violence. Despite the widespread publicity concerning the atrocities committed during that time little has been done to help the thousands of women who suffered extreme sexual violence and torture, or the children born as a consequence of this abuse.

Abandoned by the state, many of these women are not only traumatised by their horrific experiences but also impoverished. Cast out from their communities, often abandoned by their husbands, few of them can hold down jobs. Only a handful have received compensation for their suffering, which continues in the form of nightmares, physical injury and mental ill-health.

"I was raped for over a year by Serbian soldiers," says Mirella, a softly spoken woman of 33. "They kept me prisoner in my house and raped me day and night in front of my children. When I became pregnant I had an abortion - I never told my husband about it or about the other terrible things that happened, although I'm sure he knows." [viii]

And, more in many other places worldwide…

War, bloodshed, murder.

As human beings, our true nature is to have compassion and love, and yet we choose to harbor such hate, worldwide.

A morality tale told for centuries tells of an individual, a part of a minority. In an effort to stand up for himself, he declared himself better than the rest. Based upon contempt and self-pride, he chose hate.

And, Satan said, “I will assuredly lie in wait for them on your straight path. Then, I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and their left, and you will not find most of them as thankful ones.”

Our humanity is at a loss. We are bargaining it for self-pride. We have traded it in for hate. Will you do nothing to end the deceit? Are you a party to the flim-flam? Can you live with such a shady deal?

[i] Margaret Besheer , United Nations, “UN Says Situation in Darfur Worsening, Deaths Mount”,, April 22, 2008
[ii] Russell Smith, “How many have died in Darfur?”, BBC News,, Feb. 16, 2005
[iii] “Israel OK's Gaza "Humanitarian Corridor"”,, Jan. 6, 2009
[iv] Martin Barillas, “Thousands demand end to violence in Guatemala”,, Jan. 11, 2009
[v] Martin Barillas, “Twenty dead so far in Mexico drug war for 2009”,, Jan. 8, 2009
[vi] Humphrey Hawksley, “Bitterness at Blackwater Shootings” BBC News,, Dec. 8, 2008
[vii] “Liberia: War Wounds Left To Fester”,, Jan. 12, 2009
[viii] Kate Holt and Sarah Hughes, “Bosnia's rape babies: abandoned by their families, forgotten by the state”, , Dec. 13, 2005