Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Remembering Raphael Lemkin

Today is the 48th anniversary of the death of Raphael Lemkin - the man who created the concept and word "genocide".

Lemkin was a Polish-Jewish lawyer who became interested in the as yet unnamed crime of mass murder and extermination of specific groups. His interest was first raised by the events in Armenia and the experience of Assyrian Christians in Iraq.

Lemkin first presented his theory of a crime of barbarity as a crime against international law to the League of Nations in 1933. The same year Hitler came to power in Germany.

Following the Holocaust which decimated Lemkin's family he continued with his fight to have genocide - the word he created in 1943 - recognised as an international crime.

He died at the age of 59, having seen the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide come into force in 1951. Only 7 people attended his funeral.

Today we should all remember Raphael Lemkin - he gave a name and a definition to a crime which have previously not been defined. We honour Raphael Lemkin by recognising where genocide is taking place and working to stop it.

Protect Darfur
Massacre of Assyrian Christians
Genocide Watch

1 comment:

dreadnought said...

Excellent post!