Authors: Toni Pyke, John Johnston and Clifton Rooney. Year: 2008

“Good matters, right matters. They have the last word. We learn about the Holocaust and other genocides so that we can be more human, more gentle, more caring, more compassionate, valuing every person as being of infinite worth, so precious that we know that such atrocities will never happen again, and that the world will be a more humane place that is hostile to such horrendous occurrences.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Never again – this is what the world said after the Holocaust of the Second World War. Then there was Bosnia and, in between, Rwanda. The genocide in Rwanda in 1994 resulted in the merciless slaughter of more than 800,000 Rwandan citizens in the space of just 100 days – while the world watched and did nothing. This genocide was a stark and horrific reminder that the crime of genocide can – and did – happen again. It reminded us that the realities of genocide are not archived to history, such as in the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe, the Killing Fields of Cambodia or the Turkish slaying of innocent Armenians at the turn of the century. It must never happen again, yet it has, and is, and may well be happening again.

For those of us in the ‘developed’ world, genocide is a reminder that killing, on a large scale, is not confined to over ‘there’ such as in Rwanda or Cambodia, but is very much a part of our world, such as the genocide in the Balkans in the 1990s. For those of us living in Ireland, studying the phenomenon of genocide is deeply disturbing for a variety or reasons. While the character and scale of killing in Northern Ireland (and throughout the island) has remained limited, many dimensions of our own history remain deeply challenging. The reality is that many of the worst genocides have occurred in Europe and at the hands of Europeans.

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