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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Scream Bloody Murder

In a special CNN Presents, Christiane Amanpour investigates a group of people who were willing to stand up and scream bloody murder. A investigation that shows the stories of men who wanted to fight against “a murder of the truth” as written by Raphael Lemkin.

Christiane goes through the major genocides in history starting with the Nazi in Germany followed by Cambodia, Iraq, Saravjo, Rwanda and most recently Darfur.

The CNN press release for Scream Bloody Murder gives a great rundown of the program.

Past as Prologue

Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew and lawyer, narrowly escaped the Holocaust, but his parents and 40 other members of his family perished in the slaughter. In the 1940s, Lemkin coined the term “genocide” and lobbied the then-fledgling U.N. for an international convention compelling nations to prevent and stop genocide.

Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer for CNN Productions says: “Lemkin hoped that the international community would ensure that genocide never happened again, but other crusaders against genocide met the same indifference and resistance Lemkin encountered. This film is about their stories – and what we can learn from them.”
Just one generation later, Father Fran├žois Ponchaud, a Catholic missionary working in Cambodia, tried to alert the world to the torture and mass executions following the rise of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Ponchaud published articles, a book, and even spoke before the U.N. to urge action to stop the killing.
“No one believed us” Ponchaud tells Amanpour in the documentary. In fewer than four years, the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror claimed the lives of nearly two million men, women and children – one fourth of Cambodia’s population.
“No one defends human rights,” the priest says in the documentary. “Governments are cold beasts looking out for their own interests.”

Iraq, Bosnia and Rwanda

In the 1980s, Saddam Hussein unleashed poison gas on the Iraqi Kurdish population, killing tens of thousands, in violation of international law. Amanpour draws on U.S. government documents that show the Reagan Administration opposed measures to sanction Iraq because it was trying to cultivate Iraq as an ally against Iran in 1988. Peter Galbraith, at the time an idealistic staffer in the U.S. Senate, witnessed Hussein’s brutal policy and tried unsuccessfully to get Congress to punish Iraq. The White House continued its support for Hussein. Amanpour questions the Reagan administration officials who made the decisions at the time, including former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz.
Amanpour returns to the former Yugoslavia, where in the 1990s, she reported on the “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims by Serbs. She reminds viewers that the slaughter in Bosnia happened in full view of the world, captured on 24-hour television news.
Amanpour describes the efforts of Richard Holbrooke, at the time a private citizen who would later become one of President Bill Clinton’s most influential advisors, who tried to persuade the Clinton administration to use military force to stop the principal aggressors, the Bosnian Serbs. It would take three years – and the massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica – to make his case and secure U.S. military support to end the “ethnic cleansing.” Amanpour also interviews Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel, who during the opening ceremonies for the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 1993, publicly demanded the newly elected Clinton to intervene in Bosnia.

During an international news conference in 1994, Amanpour challenged Clinton: “Do you not think, that the constant flip-flops of your administration on the issue of Bosnia sets a very dangerous precedent?”

Amanpour also returns to Rwanda, where she reported on genocide there 14 years ago. The atrocities still haunt retired Canadian Lt. Gen. Romeo Dallaire. In 1994, Dallaire was the commander of the U.N. peace-keeping troops in Rwanda. He sounded early warnings about an impending human tragedy but was prohibited from taking military action to prevent the slaughter that eventually claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people. Dallaire, ordered to leave Rwanda by his bosses, tells Amanpour, “I refused a legal order. But it was immoral.”
Amanpour recounts the Clinton administration’s refusal to use the word ‘genocide’ to describe the killing in Rwanda, and the U.N.’s refusal to reinforce Dallaire’s troops. Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. National Security Advisor Anthony Lake discuss the failures in Rwanda. Amanpour also interviews current Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who says the world was indifferent to the fate of Rwandans.

Darfur and Beyond

Finally, Amanpour reports on what many consider to be the first genocide of the 21st century: Darfur. “There was no lack of information, there was no lack of understanding, there was a lack of will to stop genocide – year after year after year,” says Eric Reeves, a Smith College professor and one of the founders of the grassroots activism to end genocide in Darfur. Amanpour interviews Dr. Mukesh Kapila, the U.N.’s former top official in Sudan, who reveals what he says is today’s challenge: The U.N. is powerless to compel its members to act, even in the face of mass murder.

There may be a ray of hope in Reeves and Kapila’s frustrated efforts. Human rights groups continue to call attention to the atrocities in Darfur, and activists around the world advocate for Darfur via the Internet, which may hold some promise for maintaining international pressure and keeping the world’s conscience focused on relief action.

Six decades after Lemkin’s challenge never to let genocide happen again, Amanpour ponders what it will take for the world to live up to his challenge and the promise of the Genocide Convention he worked so tirelessly to bring about. The next time the killing starts and someone stands up to scream bloody murder, will anyone listen?

There was a lot of vintage footage of Christiane herself out in the fields reporting on the different genocides.

Scream Bloody Murder will be re-airing on Saturday and Sunday night at 8PM. If you missed out watching it on Thursday night, I would strongly suggest trying to catch it this weekend. This is truly a subject that we can never forget

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Igor J. said...

Fair and balanced? Hardly! Ms. Amanpour made it sound as if Sarajevo was made up entirely of Muslims. She also made it sound as if it was only the Muslims that were victims of torture and mutilation. What she doesn't mention was that Muslims were far from unarmed, and the Serbs did nothing to the Muslims that was not done to Serb villages as well. The conflict was a bloody struggle between failed governments, and there were victims on both sides. My family was Orthodox-Catholic by faith, and we were in Sarajevo during the whole conflict. Many of our friends died, both Muslim and Serb, and I can tell you that, without a doubt, grenades cannot tell the difference. Ms. Amanpour, where is the part about where Alia Izetbegovich, the Bosnian president at the time, decided that he wanted to make a country with a strictly Islamic regime, where Christian churches would be outlawed and their freedoms curtailed? Where is the part about the Middle East (Iran and Saudi Arabia) supplying weapons to Muslims to slaughter rural villages of Serbs and Croats? I would commend you for your coverage of the genocide in Bosnia, but I cannot understand why you would chose to portray it from a Muslim point of view when both sides were equally at fault. That is not an example of professional journalism, and you should try to make amends for these catastrophic mistakes.

Viewer in Virginia said...

It is sad that we will never really know or understand the whole picture of the atrocities that occurred in the countries Ms. Amanpour tried to summarize in the two hour time frame she was given to work with. We cannot know here in the States what happened on the ground in those lands. People who were there can speak out; we may not like the awful truth of the events, but we are morally bound to face it and take steps to stop genocide from occurring again.
Many were involved and many are to blame for the outcome, many have yet to have their feet held to the fire for their parts in past and present conflicts.
Give CNN and one of the most respected journalists in the world a little credit for shining a light on this shameful and disgusting thing that humans have inflicted upon each other. It says too much about how little the human race has come in our evolution that this kind of hate and ignorance still works in the world.
Igor, I am sorry you had to suffer this trauma and pain. Don't think for a minute that you and your people were not thought about and prayed for during your time of horror. I hope that you and your loved ones will be able to find some kind of healing.

Anonymous said...

I watched Scream Bloody Murder and thought it would have been an excellent documentary if they didn't spend so much time blaming the USA for everything: for not responding, for not responding fast enough; for being unable to stop the genocide. I almost got the feeling that CNN/Amanpour was directly fingering the US as the *source* of these genocide problems which is completely outrageous. According to them, the USA is the only one responsible for these heinous crimes and are to blame when things aren't fixed in a snap. The reporting could not have been more biased or offensive. The USA does more than its share of trying to help these people and countries but we cannot fix everybody's problems. Then again, the world doesn't reallty want the USA to police them anyway, right? Damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Next time, please tell Ms. Amanpour to cut down on the anti-American rhetoric. She is a Britsh national, why doesn't she criticize her home country as much as she does the US, the country that made her rich and famous?

Mary Hath Spokane said...

It is time for the "people of this world" to collectively "SCREAM BLOODY MURDER"! against anyone (individual or government) which has the audacity to take a human life. I believe the way to accomplish respect for the sanctity of each and every human life as divine and holy is to ask the United Natiions to endorse the United Peace Pledge:

We are members of this world. Are we not all members of the same family - homo sapiens? Is our family able to survive another World War? We do not think so. Therefore, it makes sense to us not to have any war, which may lead into a world war.

Let us all on our beautiful Planet Earth sign petitions and make public pledges that we each, as sovereign individuals, will not ever join an army. We, as sovereign individuals, refuse to be ordered to kill. Each and every decision we will make individually as sovereign members of Planet Earth. We therefore pledge:
"We are Peace Prophets.
We will never kill a brother or sister Human Being.
We believe only the Creator of that Human Life
has the right to end that Life."

Mary Hath Spokane,
Author of the U.N. Peace Pledge

Anonymous said...

What Igor is saying is overexerted. Izetbegovic could never have nor was ever attempting to make any kind of Iran style government or enforce anything of the kind in BiH. He was and the people were for a secular power sharing venture. Anything else would have been brainless in a country that is mixed. Churches and Mosques were burned down, many times, but not by Izetbegovic, his commander in chief of the armed forces was an Orthodox Bosnian, and another supporter in Hercegovina was catholic and had been assasinated by nationalist Catholic forces. It is ridicule to over exert the position of the Muslims in 1992. They were undermanned overpowered and without most heavy weaponry, the Mid-East links are all hype, what hapenned is that the UN did not allow "any" of the 3 to buy weaopons. Germany supplied Croatia, and Serbia and Serbian Bosnians stole Croatia and BiH's supply before the war started, then ressuplied by Russia. Several countries under the guidance of the US sold weaopons finally to the BiH goverment and half of them were actually taken by Croatia (the heavy ones that is) as the Bosnian held territories were completely landlocked and surrounded. The few thousand Muhajadeen that came through were allowed in by Croatia and were checked by the US intelligence, after all the CIA used them before why not think to use them again.
The US could not involve directly thus they used proxies. Igor everyone suffered but misinformation should not become you due to that.

Anonymous said...

I teach a semester class about genocide in a high school and cover much of what this documentary. I thought it was inspirational. Does nayone know where I can get a copy? I would be more than willing to pay for it. It would make a great addition to my curriculum

Anonymous said...

The problem with teachers today is that none of them teach kids about critical thinking or media criticism, preferring to let the media "teach" their liberal anti-US agenda to the kids. Now THAT's a tragedy. I'll scream bloody hell over that.