Remembering Genocides around the World


Remembering Genocides around the World

April 21, 2009

This week, Jews around the world marks Yom HaShoah, a day of remembrance for those killed in the Holocaust.

As the Jewish community stands resolute in its promise of "never again," so do those in other countries that have withstood genocides. AJWS is proud to support these communities as they move forward and rebuild.

Cambodia endured a brutal genocide from 1975-79 under the hands of dictator Pol Pot. An estimated 1.7 to 2 million Cambodians died through a combination of forced labor, starvation, torture and political executions. Religious minorities, rural and indigenous peoples were especially targeted.

Today, Cambodia is one of the world's poorest countries. Still working to recover from the country's financial, agricultural and cultural devastation, Cambodians today live on an average of $1.25 a day, and rural areas of Cambodia are particularly hard-struck. The Norkor Phnom Community Empowerment Organization works with Cambodia's poor and rural communities to improve their living standards. Participants learn how to use sustainable agricultural processes and strengthen community leadership, while advocating at the national level for rural and indigenous rights.

Over the course of 100 days in Rwanda, between a half million and a million people were massacred under an ideology of "Hutu Power," or the supremacy of the Hutu ethnic group over the Tutsi minority. Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered indiscriminately, with sexual violence against women was used as a tool to devastate ethnic identity.

Rwanda is now recovering slowly. In the aftermath of war, Rwanda struggles to regain its economic footing while the HIV/AIDS epidemic becomes more and more prevalent.  The Rwandan Women Community Development Network is especially attentive to the needs of women, who were victimized so cruelly in the genocide. The network promotes a stronger role for women in civil society, supporting a network of women and organizations that strive for reproductive rights, gender equality and HIV/AIDS support in Rwanda.

In Darfur, genocide wages on. Since 2003, the Sudanese government and its proxy militia, the Janjaweed, have killed nearly half a million people, displaced hundreds of thousands, and continue to use rape as a weapon against innocent civilians. Remembering "never again," the Jewish community has responded to the crisis in Darfur with political advocacy, community education and humanitarian aid.

There is reason for continued activism, and for hope. When AJWS President Ruth Messinger recently met with President Obama, he expressed the profound impact of the movement to save Darfur. President Obama is listening, and Darfur is waiting. By visiting the AJWS Darfur action page, you can learn more about how to make your own mark on "never again."