VIEWS ON GENOCIDE
From February 27 to March 1, the 4th International Conference on Bangladesh Genocide and the issue of Justice was held at the International Conference Centre (CIRDAP). The three day conference was organised by the Liberation War Museum. Scholars and specialists from all over the world attended. Amy Fagin, artist and genocide scholar; and Dr Helen Jarvis, former head of the victim support section of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) were among them.
Amy Fragin, famous for practicing the art of manuscript illumination talked about how art can play a major role confronting genocide at the conference. “Studying genocide can provide us with an insight into the origins of social behaviour which includes prejudices, stereotypes, racism, religious hatred, ethnic hatred and discriminations which in certain situations, if tolerated, can lead to genocide,” says Amy. She also adds, “Capturing those emotions in an illustrated form delivers an epic visual experience transcending cultures, geography and human history, truly illuminating matters of the issue of genocide on a deeply personal level.” At the conference Dr Helen Jarvis spoke about topics such as genocide prevention and crimes of sexual violence and remedies for survivor. “Studying genocide can initiate a deeper understanding of human rights and their violation around the world. If we study it carefully we will see that many of the conflicts could've been solved simply by co operating,” says Helen Jarvis.
Both specialists talked about causes of genocide and how it can be prevented. “As history taught us, one of the foremost reasons of conflict has been religion. This is one feature which most human beings take very seriously and personally. If we look at the tragedy that occurred on March 25, 1971; we will see many minority groups were victimised. Same can be said for the holocaust in which millions of Jews lost their lives,” says Amy. Women facing sexual violence was also one of the talked about topics during their visit. “Sexual violence has always been a focal point of genocide or any kind of conflict. We try to put more focus on the survivors so they can at one point come back to their regular lives. It is amazing to see many 'Birangonas' in Bangladesh are now leading their life in peace,” says Helen. The topic of death verdict being the ultimate punishment also rose in the conference for which Helen said, “I personally am against imposing death penalty because I think it brings us down to the criminal's state. If we can't be the bigger person, then where is the difference.”
The two also congratulated the ICT for their investigation and prosecution on the suspects of the genocide committed in 1971.