Marking the anniversary of the Gaza massacre and its fallen victims, the Islamic Human Rights Commission organised Genocide Memorial Day. A day to remember man's inhumanity to man, to commemorate genocides and genocidal acts throughout history, and to make a commitment to prevent further acts of genocide. It was an important undertaking and at its inauguration human rights activists gave short presentations remembering many of the world's genocides from the near eradication of indigenous peoples across the Americas, the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Nazi Holocaust, Palestine, the British genocide of Indians in 1857, and Bosnia.
Supporting organizations included Stop the War Coalition, Muslim Association of Britain, CAMPACC, Neturei Karta, British Muslim Initiative, Palestinian Return Centre, Ahlul Bayt Islamic Mission, Innovative Minds, Ahlul Bayt Societies and Islamic Forum Europe.
Presented below is the proceedings of the day including photos, full video and audio of all the presentations and text quotes from each speaker to give a taste of their speeches. We've also included our own special additions in the form of annotated historic photos and special information boxes covering some of the aspects of the mentioned genocides, that is our own contribution which the speakers may or may not agree with.
Session One: Massoud Shadjareh, Randeep Ramesh, Reza Kazim (ihrc panel host), and Lee Jasper (left to right)
Massoud Shadjareh, the Chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, and Randeep Ramesh, Guardian correspondent
Massoud Shadjareh - Introduction
Massoud Shadjareh, the Chair of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, was the first speaker. He explained why the event had been organised and why the Gaza anniversary had been chosen to launch it:
It is important for us to come together on a day like this, as Muslims, as Jews, as Hindus, as Christians, and indeed as people with different beliefs different backgrounds coming together as human beings to remember man's inhumanity to man AND to make a commitment that we will do all in our power, that the concept of 'never again' should be all inclusive and not exclusive. And indeed we decided to have such an event on these weeks of remembering what happened in Gaza because indeed genocidal act that is taking place in Gaza, the way that Gaza has now become a large concentration camp, is something that should be of concern to all of us, and indeed it is to all of us and its that concept that framework that has brought us together..
He specifically refered to the genocide of Indigenous Americans:
I want to highlight what happened when Columbus so-called 'discovered' America, as if there was nobody living there before. There were something between 12 million to 19 million Native Americans living there. And by the 1900s there was only 300,000 left. That is one of the most devastating cleansing and destruction of man.. We need to recognise that what we know of the western powers and economy has been built on the back of that genocide..
Randeep Ramesh, India correspondent for the Guardian
Randeep Ramesh - Indian War of Independence 1857
Randeep Ramesh is India correspondent for the Guardian, based in Delhi. Previously he was a leader writer for the paper, specialising in globalisation. He talked about the British Empire, founded on racial dominance:
Charles Dickens wished to exterminate the Indians, the genocide that followed the 1857 uprising resulted in the death of 10 million Indians.
"I wish I were a commander in chief in India. The first thing I would do to strike that Oriental Race.. should be to proclaim to them that my holding that appointment by the leave of God, to mean that I should do my utmost to exterminate the race.. that I was there for that purpose and no other.. to blot it out of mankind and raze it off the face of the Earth."
Charles Dickens (4 Oct 1857)
In 1857 the world superpower was the British Empire, it simply ruled and controlled most of the worlds wealth and trade. It wasn't a particularly nice entity and was based on theories of racial dominance. But history hasn't recorded it as that, in fact many historians today make a very good living pretending that its was a 'jolly good time had by all where we fought together, traded together, even in some cases made love together'. Nonsense. The British Empire was a travesty of coercive acts which culminated in a series of bloody misadventures. Finally created a lot of wealth for a very small nation which we can see all around us today, for which we care to remember only the treasure, not the blood.
And of the hidden history of genocide following India's First War of Independence:
Amaresh Mishra asked a very important question in his book 'War of Civilization 1857". He asked 'how many people died after the rebellion of 1857?'.. when the native officers rebelled in a town called Meerut in northern India because their religious practices were being infringed.. They took up arms and launched what was a mutiny. Now how far that mutiny spread and how deep its roots were felt in the local population is what British historians have tried to lessen. They have often said it was a couple of people with a few guns, a bit of banditry, nothing really that had any wider impact than a few streets and gullies in Delhi. Over the years that view has been challenged considerably and now even British historians who consider themselves as romanticisers of the British Empire will tell you that just a few 100,000 people died. Well a few 100,000 people is quite a lot of people.
Indian historians just through shear hard work have managed to excavate quite a bit of material. There isn't a native voice to be heard from 1860 till 1900 that talks about the kind of acts that were committed, you have to look very hard. Amaresh Mishra looked in two places, he looked in the labour force service of the British Raj which show you how many people disappeared from the labour forces of India and he also looked at the religious orders because the war of 1857 saw an odd thing - the co-mingling of the two main faces of India - Islam and Hinduism - on both sides you had religious warriors take up arms against the British Empire. By trawling through those two Amaresh comes up with a figure of 10 million people killed. Now that seems like a remarkably large figure but you can easily point out in the British records of notes from British officers saying 'O my God we've got 2 million people missing in Uttar Pradesh or we have 3 million people missing in Lahore. Now those tactics, those methods, the way those measurements have been used for people like Mao or Stalin.. western historians in modern times have said well if you've lost x million people from your labour force, we tot it all up and we say so many people died because of Mao's purges or Stalin's gulags. Amaresh Mishra simply did the same thing as western historians have been doing in recent years, he went back to labour force records and he said how many people are missing from the labour forces.
Now there is a historical debate to be had about the numbers, but that the figure is larger than we generally held can't be disputed. People like William Dalrymple, and Saul David who are these very traditionalist British writers will tell you 'Oh its not much more than a 100,000' but in their own books William Dalrymple, for example, in his own book describes Delhi being reduced to a ghost town with not a soul in sight. Now Delhi at the time was half a million people, so if you ask William well how come you say there is not a soul in sight, where did the half a million people go? He doesn't really have an answer.
What I'm trying to suggest here is that there are two histories being developed - one by the ruler, one by the ruled. Its what you call the historiography of mass murder. Who gets to choose what figures are important, what events are important, and the reclamation of that decision, that's the important bit for people today..
Hasan Nuhanovic is a Bosniak survivor of the Srebrenica genocide, he actively campaigns for truth and justice on behalf of other survivors and relatives of the victims. Whilst Hasan Nuhanovic could not attend he sent a message which was read out by Samir.
"Under the UN Flag: The International Community and the Srebrenica Genocide" by Hasan Nuhanovic
Upon the July 1995 fall of the UN Safe Area of Srebrenica conquering Serb forces committed massive human rights violations in the immediate vicinity of the UN protection force Dutch Battalion compound. Men and teenage boys seeking protection were separated from women and children and killed on the spot or special execution sites and then bulldozed in to freshly dug mass graves. These events have been ruled by the international tribunals as genocide. A genocide which took place while the flags of the United Nations and the kingdom of the Netherlands continued to fly above the compound.
On 13th July 1995 the dutch blue-helmets forcibly expelled more than 5,000 Bosnian Muslims from the UN compound in Srebrenica. They were all handed over to their executioners, the Serb army and police. None of the men and teenage boys survived. The dutch witnessed the killings which took place in front of their compound and despite that they continued to expel the Bosnian Muslims from the compound. The dutch sent them straight to their deaths. I stood their as the dutch ordered my family - my parents and my younger brother out of the compound. The dutch gave me the choice to leave with my family or stay on the compound. They could not order me out because I was a UN employee, a translator, and had a UN id card. That is what saved by life. I never saw my family again.
Colonel Thom Karremans (centre), commander of the UN Protection
Force Dutchbat troops charged with defending the UN Safe Haven
of Srebrenica, was filmed drinking a toast with Ratko Mladic
(left), the leader of the attacking Serb forces (now an indicted
war criminal) shortly before handing over the Bosnian Muslims
under his protection to the Serbs who butchered them. Over
8,000 Bosnian Muslims were executed and their bodies dumped in
mass graves. The grave at Pilica farm (above), twenty feet deep
and a hundred feet long, was excavated by forensic pathologists
in 1996. After the massacre Colonel Karremans was seen accepting
farewell gifts from General Mladic, smiling and shaking his hand
before departing. Shortly after his return to The Netherlands
Karremans was promoted to full colonel.
To this day both the dutch authorities and the UN deny they were complicit in the crime. They deny that they expelled the refugees without giving them any choice at all. They knew that these innocent people walked to their deaths as the Serbs waited for them at the main gate. I launched a law suit against the state of the Netherlands and am still trying to find a court where U can sue the United Nations. I faced a wall of silence and total denial of silence as if those events never took place.
Here in Bosnia - Herzegovina thousands of Bosnian Muslims, relatives of those killed 14 years ago return to their homes in part of the country now administered and ruled by the Bosnian Serb government. Dozens, possibly hundreds, of war criminals are still free and live next door to those Bosnian Muslims who were returned to their pre-war homes. A certain number of war criminals have been arrested and tried but the prosecution of war crime cases continue to be obstructed. Justice has been delayed and it has been denied. I plead with all people of good will to help the people of Bosnia - Herzegovina obtain some justice. We have not lost faith in humanity, if you loose that then there is nothing left. I wish that Srebrenica never happens to anyone again.
Lee Jasper is a human rights activists and former Senior Policy Advisor on Equalities to the Mayor of London. He spoke passionately about the transatlantic slave trade:
Each slave was branded with a hot poker bearing the 'owners' initials before boarding the slave ship so that when the ship arrived at her destination it was easy to identify who the dead belonged to.
The transatlantic slave trade is one of the greatest crimes in human history. Certainly the extent of that slavery, when we think of the forceful exportation of enslaved Africans from the 16th to 19th century. We are talking of the mass transportation of millions of human beings. The scale is quite unimaginable, even in modern terms, but certainly in terms of the 16th century. Its estimated anywhere between 15, 20 up to 50 million Africans were transported. The numbers that died during the middle passage were indescribable. If you were ill as a slave on a transatlantic middle passage voyage you were simply thrown overboard. And these deaths during the middle passage, the forced enslavement of Africans went on for centuries. Both the length of time the slave trade continued and the brutality employed is quite unprecedented. That brutality was very, very hash indeed the average life of a slave on a plantation, if it was a good one, was 8 years and if it was a bad one it was 3 years..
A detailed drawing of the slave ship Brookes, showing how 482 people were to be packed onto the decks. The 4,000 mile journey took three long months, with up to half the slaves dying on the way
Lee Jasper explained how the profits from the slave trade were used to oppress others:
The huge profits that were generated from slavery gave rise to the funding of the industrial revolution. If you want to know how its is that the British Empire helps swells it coffers in those early days to fund those international colonial campaigns, these 'bloody misadventures', then these profits amassed from slavery can give you a fairly good start in understanding how much the United Kingdom benefited from historical slavery. In fact I think it was the entire debt of Queen Elizabeth's reign, entire national debt, was paid off after a couple of voyages to Africa such was the profits made.
He explained how modern day racism was born out of the slave trade:
Because you have a system of ownership of an individual and oppression, you have to have a scientific and theological justification to enable you to sleep at night, to give you justification for that brutality and that ownership. The historical development of the rational of why it was considered to be legitimate to own an African to enslave an African, to kill an African, to sell African women, men and children on the auction block, was that they were both theologically in a moral sense an inferior race, scientifically somewhat closer to the apes than human beings. In there you can see the development and the foundations of modern day racism.. you can trace the laying of the foundations of the notions of white supremacy, of global white supremacy are hammered out out, worked out, delineated, justified within the context of transatlantic slavery. Racism as a contemporary modern phenomena has gone on to kill millions of people worldwide, once unleashed it was employed in the service of Empire as the Aboriginals communities of Australia, the Native Americans, and so on, felt the full weight of that idea of racism and white supremacy as they were exterminated in their lands of origin.
Lee Jasper talked of the painful legacy of the slave trade:
African slaves sold publicly at auction: 39 men, 15 boys, 24 women and 16 girls
The effects of transatlantic slavery, some would argue 'well this happened some centuries ago how does that effect you?' Well the story of the international global African diaspora is one of which continues to live with the legacy of transatlantic slavery.. If I take four to five hundred years of your personal history, of your grandparents, your aunties and uncles, take that back three or four hundred years, take away your language, take away your religion, take away your resources, put you in a foreign land, demonise you to a sub-human species, treat you for centuries with a brutality that is unimaginable - from the rape of your women to the defecation in slaves mouths, the whipping to death and starving to death - all of the unimaginable evils you can think of. And sustain that within the context of a plantation economy for three or four hundred years. Free you at the late end of the 18th century, beginning of the 19th century, allow you to exist but not be fully participant in society giving you second and third class citizen status. Then you have to go through the enormous struggles of civil rights to gain equality for the universal rights of suffrage, and so on..
Even now we are only two generations from slavery, if I take back my fathers side and look to Jamaica for my own family history then I can go no further back than my great grandmother on my fathers side. And the name that he has is the name of the plantation owner at the time.
'Inventory of Negroes, Cattle, Horses,' Simple inventory list of names illustrates how slaves on this Barbados sugar plantation of Sir James Lowther were categorised as his goods, along with livestock (31 Dec 1766).
There can no more fundamental infringement of your human rights than to be robbed of your language, culture, theology, customs and practice. If I applied that law to you, so all your familial knowledge, all your familial traditions, all your inherited wealth, all your understanding of who you are, and where you are in the world, where you've come from and what is your culture and history, that id taken away from you then the very essence of your being is ripped asunder.
And so when you look at African societies, particularly those that endured the experience of plantation slavery in the West Indies or South America you begin to see some trends, you begin to identify some patterns of behaviour, you begin to see and recognise the legacy of that brutality as its played out within the contemporary of those communities. Whether that relates to family structure, whether that relates to the extent to which violence is part of our everyday lives, whether it relates to the fact that psychologically far too many of us are still chained in mental chains of slavery as a consequence of our experience.
One can speculate but I put great emphasis on looking at the difference, a recognisable difference, between the Africans from the diaspora who may have suffered colonialism as the Indian continent and other nations around the world have, and those who suffered plantation slavery, who endured a particularly brutal and lengthy experience of oppression. And the extent to which you can see than and recognise in the distinctions between communities that are more able, have more intellectual, cultural, psychological, theological resources to withstand colonialism, racism, and oppression and endure and still prosper. And that of the African experience on the plantations which has left the people largely broken, largely rent asunder, largely devoid of having the psychological, intellectual, cultural anchorage within their own experience that gives them sustainability to survive in difficult times.
He talked of the policy of divide and conquer, how communities who suffered slavery and communities that suffered colonialism are pitted against each other to advance the neo-liberal agenda:
Modern day racism was born out of the slave trade
If anything that we are to take from experience as both those who suffered transatlantic slavery and those who suffered colonialism is that the neo-liberal economies are past masters of sowing the seeds of division between people whose common interest ought to bring them together and unify. And you can look at that even here in the United Kingdom, if we look at modern contemporary history, I remember when Mrs Thatcher was in power, when the Asian community was described to African-Caribbean communities as 'the model community', that was the community of industrious hard working Muslim families opening shops and so on, they were described in those terms, and they were elevated within the media in those terms. This is prior the current demonisation of Islam.
And there was a division, a false division between those of African and Asian experience, those of Christian and Muslim experience. A false division emerged in which people thought that they were some how higher up the hierarchical ladder, some how closer to the epitome of white European supremacy that would allow them some sort of protection or comfort or some psychological release of tension, that they were not like those Africans over there, they were some how better 'even white people agree with us on that point'. And of course when we saw the issue of civil disturbances here in the United Kingdom in the mid-80s when African descent communities not exclusively but largely, decided to fight against police oppression there were lots who said 'well its kind of those Africans, its what they do isn't it?' There are lots of stereotypical opinions about Africans, about their propensity to violence and so on. And a lot of people said 'well its not our struggle, if they are getting stopped and searched by the police its because they are largely criminal, you all know that'.. so some people stood by and thought well we don't have to worry about that.
This isn't exclusive to any particular communities, us as Africans stood by while the British government imposed immigration legislation on Pakistan, Indian and so on and we thought 'well we're colonial blacks we've got British passports, we don't have to worry about the Indians because they're kinda slightly exotic and strange for us and of course we need to limit the number of Indians coming here', we fell for the neo-colonial clap-trap and stood back and decided not to oppose immigration legislation in some sort of false hope that we were higher up that hierarchy.
Whether it was the Asian community standing by whilst civil disturbances happened in the black community with the police and judicial system or whether it was the black community standing by and watching immigration legislation being imposed on the Indian community, we stood in our glorious isolation falsely comforted by the thought that this would not effect us. And 30 years down the line the Muslim community and Asian community have moved from being the paragons of British virtue in to the biggest threat known to humanity, and the African community who thought their colonial links with the master would give them priority in terms of global movement have found the same immigration controls imposed on the Indian community now imposed on them.
On Gaza Lee Jasper condemned Israel for following the Nazis:
We are one year on from Gaza, it seems to me almost unimaginable that a people such as the Jewish community who suffered so grievously under the yoke of Nazism and fascism should forget the fundamental lesson of that oppression, and the state of Israel as its currently engaged in its Zionism project around Palestine has simply abandoned any moral ground, any intellectual relationship with that experience when it seeks to do to others exactly that which was done to them by the Nazis.
"The Lord's Prayer written in Arabic by Uncle Moreau (Omar) a native African, now owned by General Owen of Wilmington N. C. . He is 88 years of age & a devoted Christian." reads the slave masters annotation at the back of this Arabic manuscript written by Omar ibn Said. Omar was abducted from Africa whilst in his late 20s and spent the rest of his life in slavery. His Christian slave masters, convinced of his conversion to Christianity, kept this 'proof' safe but Omar had the last word because when one reads the Arabic one discovers it is in fact a Chapter from the Holy Qur'an, Surah Al Nasr[*], which translates:
"When there comes the help of Allah and the victory And you see men entering the religion of Allah in multitudes, Then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is oft-returning (to mercy)."
It refers to victorious return of the Muslims to Mecca, from where they had fled after suffering great persecution. This bloodless victory lead to the whole of Arabia embracing Islam. Omar had left behind, protected as 'The Lords Prayer', a message of defiance for his slave masters and a message of hope for his slave comrades.
In the slave sheds of Bahia in 1835 there were perhaps more persons who knew how to read and write than up above, in the Big Houses [of slave owners]
Omar ibn Said was not the only literate slave. Muslims in West Africa were highly educated people. French documents from West Africa suggest 60% of the Senegalese Muslims in 1880 were literate. Baron Roger, a governor of Senegal writes that in 1828 "there are villages in which we find more Negroes who can read and write the Arabic, which for them is a dead and scholarly language, than we would find peasants in our French countryside who can read and write French!". Sylviane Diouf, a historian of the African Diaspora, writes "the literacy of enslaved Muslims set them apart from most of their contempories. Coming from oral cultures, the non-Muslim Africans were not literate; neither were the native-born slaves because their education was illegal. Similarly illiterate was the bulk of the white population. During slavery, for the most part, there were only two groups who were literate - wealthy white males and black Muslim slaves."
Between 15 to 30 percent of African slaves were Muslim, their education and strong beliefs made Muslims most resistant to slavery and Islam's universal message transcending tribal boundaries made Muslims natural leaders amongst slaves of differing nations. And this didn't go unnoticed, the Spanish sought to ensure that their slaves did not include Muslims, but only ladinos - Muslims who had first been taken to Spain where Islam was beaten out of them and they had been forcibly converted to Christianity. A royal Spanish order of 1543 explained, "in a new land like this one where [the Catholic] faith is only recently being sowed, it is necessary not to allow to spread there the sect of Mahomet.." Apparently this didn't work as the Spanish authorities went on to issue five pieces of legislation to keep Muslims out of the New World in the first fifty years of colonization.
When we look at slave rebellions and liberation struggles through out the centuries of slavery we see a disproportionately high number of Muslims at the head of them, starting as early as 1522, when Muslims of the Wolof nation in the sugar plantation of admiral Don Diego Colon, son of Christopher Columbus, revolted in Hispaniola (Dominican Republic). After that revolt, the Spanish stopped further shipments of Muslim slaves to Hispaniola.
Another is the Bahia 'Muslim' rebellions of Brazil. In 1835 slaves took over the streets of the capital of Bahia province of Brazil and held out against the firepower of the army for many hours.
The manuscript (right) is the writing of Alexandre, one of the leaders of the 1807 Muslim slave revolt in Bahia. The text is a quotation from the Holy Qur'an [2:69]: "In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. We said: O Fire be cool and safe for Abraham." Its a reference to Allah's protection of those who strive in His way. Literacy amongst Muslim slaves was such that the Brazilian scholar Gilberto Freyre wrote "in the slave sheds of Bahia in 1835 there were perhaps more persons who knew how to read and write than up above, in the Big Houses [of slave owners]".
Macandal, a Muslim leader who was well known for his Arabic, lead an 18 year revolt in Haiti against the slave masters in which the French claim over 6,000 were killed. As in many other slave revolts, Arabic was the secret language of revolution in Haiti. What separates Macandal from other slave leaders in the entire 400 year history of the Atlantic slave trade was that he was the one to proclaim that colonial power could be defeated by slaves - that blacks rule is the future of Haiti, and he dedicated his life to that purpose. He was also the first to unite the different tribes together for this purpose, he is said to have recruited a massive army made up of tens of thousands of slaves from the plantations.
"Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved
in the Americas" by Sylviane Diouf
In his eloquent speeches to convert slaves to his cause he would pull different colored scarves from a vase. The vase itself symbolized the island of St. Domingue (Haiti). First he would pull out a yellow scarf to symbolize and commemorate the original Arawak Indians who were exterminated (about one million of them in less than 50 years) by the Spanish in the 16th century. Then a white scarf to symbolize the French currently in power. Lastly, a black scarf would be withdrawn from the vase, representing they themselves, the people he guaranteed would soon come to power. This was and is a stunning prophecy which was unheard of and yet, actually came true shortly thereafter. Although Macandal was burnt at the stake by the French some 33 years before the successful Haitian Revolution of 1791 which saw slaves come to power in Haiti, he is known as its chief architect.
Boukman who initiated the 1791 Haitian Revolution was also a Muslim, his name 'book man' is believed to be a reference to the Qur'an he carried. The Haitian Revolution is the only successful slave revolt in history, and resulted in the establishment of Haiti, the first independent black state in the New World.
[*]With one mistake - the addition of three words from Surah Al-Saff (61:13)
Ward Churchill (message read out by Yvonne Ridley)
Ward Churchill - Genocide of the Indigenous Americans
Professor Ward Churchill has more than 35 years of being a direct participant in the struggle waged by the American Indian Movement for the fundamental human rights and national liberation of the Indigenous Peoples of the US and Canada. Among his two dozen books are "A Little Matter of Genocide: Holocaust and Denial in the Americas, 1492 to the Present", "On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality" and "Kill the Indian, Save the Man: The Genocidal Impact of American Indian Residential Schools".
Ward Churchill unfortunately could not attend the event, his warm message of solidarity was read out by another human rights activist, Yvonne Ridley:
Although it is with profound regret that I find myself the inaugural genocide memorial day it should be understood that I stand in unequivocal solidarity with its organisers, the Islamic Human Rights Commission. To all that have gathered to participate in this vitally important event, more over, I extend not only greetings but my deepest appreciation for your principled opposition to the inseparable evils of imperialism and colonialism and genocide. Only by pursuing a genuinely comparative understanding of genocide, defining it in the fullness of its historical phenomenological dimensions can we hope to genuinely apprehend its meaning,function and thereby equip ourselves to effectively combat it in all its ugly guises. This event is clearly intended to do just that and is thus to be applauded without hesitation or reservation. Hopefully it will continue to grow and flourish in the years ahead, and I for one commit to doing what I can to ensuring that it does so.
Books by Ward Churchill:
"A Little Matter Of Genocide:
Holocaust and Denial in the
Americas, 1492 to the Present",
"Save the Man: The Genocidal
Impact of American Indian
[see all books]
Another great talk given by Ward Churchill at a bennefit event for Action for Social and Ecological Justice on December 2, 2001, in Burlingotn, VT. Churchill outlines different forms of genocide waged against indigenous peoples in North America. Sourced from the archives at A-Infos Radio 4 All Project (with minor remasteriing).
U.S. soldiers pose over a mass grave trench with some of the 300 bodies of innocent Native American Lakota Sioux, two-thirds women and children, massacred at Wounded Knee, Pine Ridge Reservation. One of the few survivors of the massacre was a baby girl, found 4 days after the massacre, lying beneath her mothers dead frozen body, her mother having protected her in death as she had in life. The baby girl, having survived the massacre and the blizzard with temperatures at 40 below zero, was then abducted by Brigadier General Colby as a trophy of the massacre, in his own words "a most interesting Indian relic".
In the first 400 years of genocide, between Columbus's arrival in 1492 and the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1891, 98% of the Native American population had been wiped out and 97.5% of their land had been stolen.
Hunting Indians in Massachusetts:
A Scouting Journal of 1758, Robert Francis Seybolt
The New England Quarterly, Vol3 No3 (Jul 1930), p.527
Every single state and territory of the United States had in place a scalp bounty law which would stipulate the fee the state would pay for proof of death of an Indian, any Indian. Proof was by way of a scalp or bloody red skin (the origin of the term 'red skins'). The payment scale was graduated, the murder of an adult male Indian achieved highest reward, an adult female half that, and a quarter for killing a child, child being defined as under 10 years of age down to and including a fetus. As the scouting journal of 1758 (right) indicates "scalp hunting was not only a sporting pastime: it was a profitable business" with the state paying more for the murder of an Indian (£300) than it did the salary of a teacher (£120). The bounties were not for any particular Indian, ANY would do - it was a clear policy of genocide, they wanted all the Indians dead.
Letter from Lord Jeffrey Amherst to his subordinate Colonel Henry Bouquet (16 July 1763)
Having failed to defeat the Ottawa tribe under the leadership of Pontiac on the battlefield, Lord Jeffrey Amherst, the English commander-in-chief wrote a letter to a subordinate, Colonel Henry Bouquet, suggesting that during the peace process smallpox infected blankets be distributed to the tribes as 'gifts' to "extripate this excrable race". Captain Ecuyer's journal of Fort Pitt confirmed "we gave them two Blankets and an Handkerchief out of the Small Pox Hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect."
The disease spread like widfire among the Ottawas, Mingos, Miamis, Delawares and several other peoples resulting in over 100,000 deaths. It broke the back of the native resistance, allowing the US Army to conquer the whole Northwest Territory in the next 30 years. Today dozens of towns, streets, and colleges across the US and Canada are named after Ahmerst to honour his 'heroics' in the Indian wars.
This is just one example, of many, of how disease has been systematically used as a weapon of war by the US Army in its genocide of the Native Americans.
Abduction of children
Native children abducted from their families at age four and handed over to church-run industrial schools to 'kill the Indian in the child'.(photo 1890)
Over 200,000 children were abducted to these 'schools', due to the conditions most of the children - up to 69% - died in school
It was not enough to have decimated the Native American population to under 250,000 by 1890, the government eyed the survivors, and especially their children. They developed a policy called "aggressive assimilation" where they forcefully took the children, aged as young as 4 years old, from their Native American families and handed them over to church-run, government-funded industrial schools, later called residential schools to be kept there until they reached 16 years of age. The goal was to Christianise the children and to erase all traces of their own culture. They were forbidden, under severe punishment, from speaking their own language or practising their traditions. One government official in the late 1920s boasted that within two generations, the system would end the "Indian problem". It should "kill the Indian in the child", it was said. It was nothing short of cultural genocide.
The conditions in the schools were appalling - overcrowding, poor sanitation, starvation, lack of medical care and forced labour. The children were forced to do arduous work to raise money for staff salaries and 'leased out' during the summers as farm labourers or domestics for white families.
Over 200,000 children were abducted to these 'schools' in the US and Canada. Due to the conditions, most of the children - up to 69% - died in school. The dead children were buried in unmarked graves beside the schools.
The clergy and police 'rented out' children from residential schools to pedophile rings
Those that survived had to endure physical and sexual abuse, the traumatization leading to high suicide rates and alcoholism. When the children returned to the reserve, stripped of their language, religion and culture, they often found they didn't belong. They didn't have the skills to help their parents, and became ashamed of their native heritage.
Mike Cachagee taken from his family aged four, remembers the physical and sexual abuse. He says he was fondled by one of the staff at his school in Chapleau, Ontario, and then beaten with a strap when he asked her to stop. "I was five or six. I would be in a foetal position on the floor and she would just whack," he says. Now president of the National Residential Schools Survivors' Society, which represents former students, he says the biggest problem for survivors is being unable to express their emotions. "All the emotions that normal people have, we didn't learn them," he says. "We were told our language was that of the devil and that we were dirty Indians."
Schools contain unmarked graveyards of murdered school children, including babies born to Native girls raped by priests in the school
A 2001 report by the Truth Commission into Genocide in Canada documents church officials killing children by beating, poisoning, electric shock, starvation, prolonged exposure to sub-zero cold while naked, and medical experimentation, including the removal of organs and radiation exposure. Several schools contain unmarked graveyards of murdered school children, including babies born to Native girls raped by priests in the school. In 1928 Alberta passed legislation allowing schools to forcibly sterilize Native girls; British Columbia followed suit in 1933. Testimony shows Native children were sterilized en-masse upon reaching puberty. The report also says that the clergy and police 'rented out' children from residential schools to pedophile rings.
These so-called 'schools' were still in operation until 1996 when the last one was finally shutdown.
Eugenics sterilization program
42% of Native American women of child bearing age were sterilized
In 1970 the US government initiated a nazi style eugenics program to sterilize Native American women without their knowledge and against their will. 42% of Native American women of child bearing age were sterilized.
Recent review of so-called 'voluntary' sterilizations revealed that in 81% of the cases the patients were presented with "medically required" rather than "voluntary" sterilization consent forms to sign. Also the consent forms suggested that the patients decision not to be sterilized could result in the withdrawal of welfare benefits.
Other women were blatantly threatened that they were bad mothers and their children would be put in foster homes if they did not agree to be sterilized. There were cases of Native American women entering hospital for an unrelated procedure and being sterilized without their knowledge. Two native fifteen year old girls who had been told they were having their tonsils out, emerged from hospital without their ovaries.
All the pureblood women of the Kaw tribe of Oklahoma have now been sterilized. At the end of the generation the tribe will cease to exist.
A 1974 study concluded that the government program had specifically "Ösingled out full-blooded Indian women for sterilization procedures" and reported that "all the pureblood women of the Kaw tribe of Oklahoma have now been sterilized. At the end of the generation the tribe will cease to exist."
Rabbi Beck and Rabbi Ahron Cohen are from the ultra-orthodox Jewish group Neturei Karta (Aramaic term for 'Guardians of the City' - protectors of the Torah). They are diametrically opposed to Zionism which they describe as a heresy against Judaism. Rabbi Beck, a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust, spoke in Yiddish. His words were translated by Rabbi Ahron Cohen.
We pray that the whole wickedness of Zionism should disappear from the world.. Zionism has no right to any part of Palestine.
Rabbi Beck Holocaust Survivor
At the time of the Holocaust I was just a young lad, and I experience the difficulty of the Holocaust when I was living in Budapest in Hungary.. My father was taken away to do forced labour, and then later my mother was taken away and there were just three children left and we went through a number of experiences and we survived in a miraculous manner. Thanks to the All Mighty..
We came through our experiences and as the years have rolled on, we've managed to survive until the present day and it is of particular significance that we have come here today to look at the cruelty of man to man, our being Jewish we particularly find significant and important to home in on the events in Palestine. The circumstances after the war was such that as a youngster I, as happened to many others, I went to what was Palestine, and is now known as Israel. I didn't choose to go there, circumstances were such, events took place which brought me there. As time went on I realised the falseness of the Zionist regime, and the way it conducts itself. As I grew older I realised this is not a place to be and thankfully I was able to achieve a situation where I came out of the Zionist regime..
We are deeply ashamed of the fact that events and deeds carried out in Palestine are done as it were in the name of Jewish people, this is something which we want to try and show that this is not correct, this is not the Jewish people, this is something different to Judaism. It is terribly painful and sorrowful that such murderous activities are carried out in the name of Jewish people. We have to stress, point out that the events in Palestine were not just started, the root cause of the whole problem started already a 100 years ago. It was a terrible injustice, the original idea of Zionism in which a group came and occupied a country belonging to another people, and as years went on they wiped out over 400 villages, Palestinian villages which no longer exist. I myself don't know all the deeds that were carried out by the Zionists, but one, just as an example for instance, is what took place in Jaffa where the Zionists took over the town and 70,000 Palestinians were driven out, they were literally driven in to the sea. In to boats and driven away..
Jews through the centuries have lived peacefully alongside Muslim communities and only through the advent of Zionism was this position changed, in fact historically whenever there was terrible persecution of Jews in Europe the places of refuge were most frequently in Muslim lands. We pray that the whole wickedness of Zionism should disappear from the world.. Zionism has no right to any part of Palestine.
Rabbi Ahron Cohen - Nazi Holocaust
Rabbi Ahron Cohen, also of the Neturei Karta (Jews against Zionism) reiterated Rabbi Beck's message that Judaism rejects Zionism and that Zionism needs to go:
There is no doubt about it that the underlying cause of strife in the middle east is the very existence of this flawed concept known as Israel and whatever the nations of the world will try they will never achieve peace until they realise this is a flawed concept..
Sameh Habeeb (right), founder of the Palestine Telegraph
Sameh Habeeb - Gaza
Sameh Habeeb is the founder of the Palestine Telegraph, a unique english language news service based in Gaza.
In his very short talk Sameh Habeeb gave a brief update of the current situation in Gaza, with the first photos emerging of new born babies deformed due to Israels use of depleted uranium in its brutal attack on Gaza in January 2009. He talked of the ongoing effects of the siege on ordinary people, how children are dying due to the lack of basic medicines which Israel refuses to allow in to the Gaza strip. The Israeli deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai had threatened genocide, and this is exactly what we are seeing today.
He also mentioned Israel's meddling through out the middle-east including, for example, in Kurdistan. In his closing remarks, Sameh Habeeb said that Palestinians need more than just humanitarian support, that we should organise grassroots political support.
Children of the Warsaw Ghetto left starving - a deliberate Nazi policy of slow genocide
After invading Poland the Nazis, in October 1940, created a ghetto in Warsaw to imprison Warsaw's Jewish population and Romani people. Huge walls were built surrounding the ghetto with military checkpoints at each entrance. 400,000 people were packed in to a 3.5 square mile area.
In order to control the Ghetto the Nazis co-opted the Jewish elite, the Judenrat (Jewish council of elders), giving them positions of privilege and power in the Ghetto in return for their collaboration. The Judenrat had at their disposal a Jewish police force of 2,500 to enforce their control and they could raise money by taxing the Jews, for example a tax on bread rations. Among their duties for the Nazis was to round up men for forced labour, on at least one occasion round up women for Nazi brothels, and later in 1942 to help in the mass deportation of Jews to the death camps at Treblinka. Like all puppet regimes, the Judenrat were corrupt and the rich could pay a tax to be exempt from labour duties, bribe for better housing and food, etc.
Judenrat office in the Warsaw Ghetto Judenrat police stand guard outside as Jewish elite exit the office, notice the starving man collapsed on the steps.
This committee of Jews [Judenrat] was the executive organ of the German occupied forces in the Ghetto.. on one occasion was asked to supply Jewish girls for a German brothel to be set up for the conquerers.
Alexander Bernefes (Warsaw Ghetto survivor)
The Ghetto was split in to two areas connected by a single footbridge - a small mainly rich area and a larger deprived poor area. Whilst the rich collaborators and smugglers lived a prosperous life enjoying the Ghettos nightclubs, 61 amusement halls and 5 theatres, the poor were forced to survive on just a bowl of soup and a slice of bread a day. Added to the starvation was poor sanitation and rampant typhus. It was nothing short of a slow genocide, everyday 100s died of starvation and disease and in less than two years, by mid-1942, 83,000 people had died.
Despite the hardships the Jews managed to run hospitals, schools, newspapers and religious services in the Ghetto. Perhaps the best documentation of life in the Ghetto is that of Emanuel Ringelblum, a historian who lived at the time in the Ghetto. He collected peoples history of the Ghetto and buried it in bunkers, protected inside milk cans which were recovered after the war.
In June 1942 the Nazis started deporting the Ghetto residents to Treblinka, to their deaths. The Judenrat had known of the death camps as early as January 1942 when two prisoners, part of the team ordered to dig mass graves at Chelmno death camp, escaped to the Warsaw Ghetto. Their account of the gassing of Jews was preserved as part of the Ringelblum archive. Yet despite this knowledge the Judenrat lied to their people and helped the Nazis round up and deport Jews to their slaughter. By the end of the summer they had helped send up to 300,000 people to their deaths.
In the face of the deportations, Jewish resistance groups for the first time united in October 1942 to form the Jewish Fighting Organisation (in Polish, Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa, or ZOB), prominent amongst the Jewish resistance groups was The Bund, a fiercely anti-Zionist socialist organisation.
The greatest difficulty the resistance had was convincing their people of the imminent death waiting for them if they board the railroad cars, and therefore the absolutely necessity to stand and fight. The people, out of false hope, believed the Jewish elite that the deportations were only "relocations to the east".
Warsaw Ghetto Resistance appeal to residents: "You must be prepared to resist, not give yourself up to slaughter like sheep.." (April 23, 1943)
Although by January 1942 the Judenrat had confirmation
that the rumours of death camps were true, yet as this
poster of July 1942 indicates they still sent Jews to
their deaths. Judenrat poster (in both German and Polish)
telling Jews of Warsaw, regardless of age or sex, that
they have to report at 11am on 22 July 1942 for
"relocation to the East", their luggage allowance is
15kg. Excluded from the 'relocation' are people
affiliated to the Judenrat. The poster ends with a
Jewish Fighting Organisation (ZOB) appeal to resist dated April 23, 1943(right) included the words:
"We are slaves and when slaves no longer bring in profits they are killed. Each of us must realise this, and always keep it in mind. Jewish masses, the hour is drawing near. You must be prepared to resist, not give yourself up to slaughter like sheep. Not a single Jew should go to the railroad cars.. Our slogan must be: All are ready to die as human beings."
Their first task was to eliminate the Jewish collaborators and Gestapo agents starting with the execution of the Nazi-appointed chief of the Jewish police. With that obstacle out of the way, the residents more readily joined the resistance.
The other problem the resistance had was getting weapons. The Polish underground managed to smuggle arms and ammunition through the sewer system into the ghetto, but it was barely enough. Out numbered and out gunned, they never the less put up a valiant defense of the Ghetto.
With only 60,000 residents now left in the Ghetto, Himmler tasked Jurgen Stroop to finish the job and send the remaining Jews to the camps. As Stroop's 2,000 Waffen-SS troops entered the ghetto on 19th April 1943 the resistance were ready. 750 fighters armed with just two machine-guns, fifteen rifles, 500 pistols, and some grenades and petrol bombs took on the might of the Nazis and won - Stroop was forced to order his troops to retreat.
The Polish underground newspaper Glos Warszawy (The Warsaw Voice) wrote at the time that that all oppressed peoples, including Poles, ought to use the ghetto Jews as a role model:
"We can all learn a lesson from this battle . . . The revolt in the ghetto teaches us that it is possible to fight a war against the Germans ... In the Warsaw ghetto a new front was opened ..."
"The Stroop Report: The Warsaw Ghetto Is No More"
Nazi commander Jürgen Stroop's 75 page, day-by-day
account of the operation to 'cleans' the ghetto of
'subhumans' and 'terrorists' was studied by senior
Israeli commanders in preparation for Israel's attack
on the Palestinian refugee camp of Jenin in 2002
It took Stroop a full month before the ghetto was razed to the ground and the operation officially came to an end. Stroop kept a detailed 75 page report of the operation starting with a 16 page strategy summary followed by daily reports and an appendix containing around 50 photos, the report was titled "The Warsaw Ghetto Is No More!". It makes fascinating reading, with clear parallels with today's Gaza and the Israeli occupation. The report talks of the Nazis blowing up the supply tunnels and 'dug-outs' to stop the flow of weapons to the Jewish fighters who are called "terrorists". It talks of Jewish women detonating grenades, hidden in their undergarments, at checkpoints - suicide bombers.
Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin referred to Palestinians as "two-legged beasts", one former Israeli chief of staff Rafael Eytan called them "cockroaches in a glass jar" whilst another Israeli chief of staff Moshe Yalon described them as a "cancerous manifestation" and equated his military action in the occupied territories with "chemotherapy". Similarly Stroop in his report refers to the Jews as "subhumans" and "creatures".
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has described what is happening in Gaza as nothing short of "slow genocide" - people imprisoned behind walls, starving, having no access to clean drinking water or medicine (except the few who can afford the little that is smuggled through the tunnels).. dying under the Israeli siege. And if Gazaans refuse to die quietly, Israel's deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai promised them a "bigger Shoah" (Holocaust) (Feb 2008), one year later (Jan 2009) the promise was kept and the slaughter began. Gaza was pounded from the air by F16 and Apache helicopters, shelled from the sea by Israeli gunboats and from the land by tank artillery. Depleted uranium and illegal white phosphorus weapons were used. A land invasion of tanks and ground troops followed, destroying hospitals, schools, mosques, a university and tens of thousands of homes. In 22 days of carnage they killed over 1400 people - most were civilians (over 80%), including nearly 350 children.
After a portion of the bunker inhabitants had been brought out and were being searched, a woman reached as quick as lightning under her dress and pulled a hand grenade from her panties, from which she pulled the pin and threw into the men doing the search..
Nazi SS Brigadefuhrer Stroop The Stroop Report (entry for May 13 1943, page 68)
The Israeli army having studied Nazi SS Brigadefuhrer Stroop's operations strategy in destroying the Warsaw Ghetto razed the centre of Jenin refugee camp to the ground in 2002.
For three days, I just erased and erased [demolishing house after house] I kept drinking whisky to fight off fatigue I didn't see people dying under the blade of the D-9 but if there were any, I wouldn't care at all. I am sure people died inside these houses.. I found joy with every house that came down, because I knew they didn't mind dying, but they cared for their homes. If you knocked down a house, you buried 40 or 50 people for generations. By the end, I built a football stadium there. If I am sorry for anything, it is for not tearing the whole camp down.
Moshe Nissim, Israeli military D9 bulldozer operator
Stroop's operation ended on 16th May 1943 with the entry: "The Jewish quarter of Warsaw is no more. The Grand operation terminated at 2015 hours when the Warsaw Synagogue was blown up." 7000 Jews were killed in the uprising and 56,065 were captured and sent to various death camps. The official Governor's proclamation to the Polish population, explaining the reason for destroying the former Jewish Ghetto mentioned, like Israels justification for the slaughter of Gaza, 'terrorist' actions launched from the Ghetto.
One of the Israeli soldiers described the senseless killing of Palestinians in Operation Cast Lead (Gaza 2009):
"You feel like an infantile little kid with a magnifying glass looking at ants, burning them."
The Israeli daily, Ha'aretz reported that before the Israeli attack on Jenin, senior Israeli commanders studied the 1943 military tactics of the Nazi SS against the Jewish resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto as detailed in the Jürgen Stroop's report, for application against the Palestinians. Sharon's spokesman Ra'anan Gissen explained it saying "Some officers may have been looking at that. They thought that it was similar, because you would be fighting street-by-street against the Palestinian".
The same report was also studied in another forum - in the Nuremberg Tribunal, prosecutor Robert Jackson held up the report as evidence of the worst war crimes. Jürgen Stroop was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was hanged at the former site of the Warsaw Ghetto on 6 March 1952.
As with the Nazi occupation, Israels occupation has created it own opportunities for collaborators. Many have suggested the role of the Judenrat - policing the oppressed on behalf of the oppressor, is played rather eagerly by Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority.
The last survivor of the five-person command group which led the Ghetto uprising was Marek Edelman of the Bund. After the Ghetto was destroyed he went on to join the Polish underground fighting the Nazis, and after the war he stayed in Poland to help shape its future, playing a prominent role in the independent trade union Solidarity. He died in October 2009. John Rose who wrote the introduction of Marek Edelman's book "The Ghetto Fights: Warsaw 1941-43" mentions in Edelman's eulogy :
In the summer of 2002, Edelman, still going strong, intervened in Israelís show trial of the now jailed Palestinian resistance leader, Marwan Barghouti. He wrote a letter of solidarity to the Palestinian movement, and, though he criticised the suicide bombers, its tone infuriated the Israeli government and its press. Edelman had always resented Israelís claim on the Warsaw Ghetto uprising as a symbol of Jewish liberation. Now he said this belonged to the Palestinians.
He addressed his letter to the Palestinian "ZOB": the "commanders of the Palestinian military, paramilitary and partisan operations" and "all the soldiers of the Palestinian fighting organisations". The old Jewish anti-Nazi Ghetto fighter had placed his immense moral authority at the disposal of the only side he deemed worthy of it.
Samouni Street, Gaza, reduced to rubble(Jan 2009).
21,000 homes in Gaza were destroyed in the Israeli attack.
Israeli forces first rounded up around a 100 people from
nearby homes and ordered them all in to Wa'el Samouni's
house. They then bombed the house, killing 29 people.
Ahmed Samouni, 16, was trapped for four days with the
bodies of his three brothers, mother and several other
relatives. He and three children with him were found
barely conscious. "I used to sleep here. That was my
brotherís bedroom," he says. Mental health workers say he
is able to talk about his experiences but not to connect
them with his emotions, and may never fully recover.
"I feel I have nobody left from my family. I feel nothing
is left for me in this life," he says.
"Auschwitz survivor: Israel acts like Nazis"
Jewish MP Gerald Kaufman took Israel to task for abusing the memory of the Holocaust as a cover to commit its own war crimes -
"My parents came to Britain as refugees from Poland. Most of their families were subsequently murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust. My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszow. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza".
One of the last remaining Auschwitz survivors, Dr.Hajo Meyer, 86, who survived 10 months in the Nazi death camp, went further saying that the Holocaust has become a religion to shield Israels crimes:
Auschwitz is elevated into a new religion. "In the beginning is Auschwitz," wrote Elie Wiesel. "Nothing should be compared to the Holocaust but everything must be related to it." This elevation has allowed it to be exploited for political ends. This Holocaust religion translates in the minds of many into the impossibility that Israel can do any wrong..
It has become obvious that political Zionism has one monolithic aim: Maximum land in Palestine with a minimum of Palestinians on it. This aim is pursued with an inexcusable cruelty as demonstrated during the assault on Gaza. The cruelty is explicitly formulated in the Dahiye doctrine of the military [green light to target civilians] and morally supported by the Holocaust religion.
I am pained by the parallels I observe between my experiences in Germany and those suffered by Palestinians today..
History doesn't belong to anyone, its lessons are there for all - fail to learn and yesterdays victims become today's oppressors.
Imam Achmad Cassiem, veteran of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa
Imam Achmad Cassiem - Modernity, Genocide and Genocidal Acts
Imam Achmad Cassiem is a veteran of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. He joined the armed struggle for justice at age 15, and at the age of 17 he became one of the youngest people to be imprisoned on Robben Island, where he served a total of 11 years. He is a teacher by profession, a founder of the Islamic Unity Convention and an adviser to the Islamic Human Rights Commission.
Imam Achmad Cassiem gave a philosophical talk on the subject of genocide, looking at the causes of genocide, how oppressors try to justify their actions, the resistance of the oppressed and the role of education. Heavily peppered with his unique insights this wonderful talk gave the audience much to ponder upon. Rather than spoil it with out of context quotes we leave it for the reader to view the video or listen to the audio of the talk in its entirety.
Video : Session Two
The video is in 11 parts (110 mins), you can either let it play in order or jump to a particular speaker.
"You cannot simplify the question of violence.. You look at human history - the American revolution, the civil war, the end of slavery in the United States, the African National Congress, the end of colonialism - by and large these were some combination of popular social uprisings and social movements and non-violent protests AND armed resistance. Now that doesn't mean I'm advocating for any armed action today, I'm not. I'm committed to finding ways of acting and speaking and making people laugh and doing art and disrupting the war machine in other ways, but I think focusing on violence when we have the comfort of being protected by mass of armed violence is not non-violence at all.. if you are pointing to the mass of violence and who's doing the mass of violence in the world today, you have to look to state violence - that's people bombing whole cities from the air.. "