Syria, Iraq, Darfur, Burundi,… The intolerable list of mass atrocities that are committed before our eyes, some of which could develop into genocides, is long.
Simultaneously, we are witnessing a rise in genocide denial across our continent, through political parties as well as through a certain popular culture, in varying forms: denial or reversal of facts, relativism, confusion, competition of victims,… As late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel teaches us: “the executioner always kills twice, the second time through silence” : genocide denial is the continuation of genocide.
So getting involved in genocide and mass atrocities prevention and against genocide denial is one and the same movement.
It is about preserving a fundamental value, life, and a commitment that transcends community or national identities and partisan divides. It concerns us all.
Members of parliaments have an ability to take action, thus hold a special responsibility. This responsibility obliges us to act.
Therefore, coming from various backgrounds and beyond the disagreements that sometimes divide us, we unite, in the name of our shared humanity, in preventing genocide and mass atrocities and fighting against genocide denial.
Through a universalist approach, we will act to ensure that concern for the Other prevails over indifference, truth over lie, knowledge over ignorance, solidarity over selfishness, life over destruction.
We get involved to prevent genocide and mass atrocities in cooperation with the various international, regional and national organizations, both governmental and of civil society, working on it, in order to ensure that the Responsibility to Protect is implemented with rigor and efficiency.
Concretely, we will first take part in the documentation of facts, in particular with our presence on the ground. We will inform and warn the general public as well as our governments, the European, regional and international institutions and the other parliaments about at risk situations.
We will also act to make sure that these institutions, starting with our governments, resolutely commit themselves to putting an end to all potentially genocidal situations, wherever they may take place in the world.
Finally, we will work to put in place within institutions, starting with our parliaments, mechanisms to monitor at risk situations and to intervene to prevent mass atrocities or stop those already taking place.
Our commitment against the denial of genocide, as defined by the 1948 UN Convention and recognized by international institutions and the academic world, will spread in several different ways.
By engaging in public debate to flush out and fight the various expressions of genocide denial, and by elaborating laws when it represents the most efficient tool.
Disseminating knowledge allows to push genocide denial back. As a consequence, we will ensure that historians are able to work with utmost freedom, especially by working for an open access to all concerned archives and by supporting research in this domain.
Education and transmission are fundamental to our shared fight. Knowledge of the histories and memories of genocides will offer current and future generations an openness to the world, attention to the Other, a greater lucidity, and will contribute to a shared culture of human rights.
With this perspective, we will take part in the commemorations of genocides in the places where they took place or with the authorities representing the victims. With solidarity, we will support the survivors, the Righteous people, the resistance fighters, as well as their descendants, for the effects of genocide spread with generations.
Likewise, we will organize actions dedicated to transmission within our parliaments and we will support those organized by civil society and by other public institutions.
Lastly, we will act to ensure that the histories and memories of genocides are accurately incorporated into school curricula and we will support the development of their studies in the academic world.
Primo Lévi said: “It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say. This can happen, and everywhere.” For our generations as well as for the following ones, our vigilance and commitment will be unfailing.
Benjamin Abtan, Founder and Coordinator of the “Elie Wiesel Network”, European Network of Parliamentarians for the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities and against Genocide Denial,
President of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement – EGAM
179 Parliamentarians from 24 national Parliaments and the European Parliament, coming from various political trends and 31 countries in total, get involved together in the “Elie Wiesel Network”.
They are listed, along with the acronyms of their parties, below or at www.egam.eu