Hornbill Unleashed

June 10, 2011

End to an era of ethnic tragedies

Sim Kwang Yang

Following  the arrest of the Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic in Belgrade recently, the world can now close a page on one of the most atrocious chapters in the modern history of mankind.

The arrest of Radovan Karadzic in 2008 and his presentation to the International Court of Justice was an attempt by the international community to bring the war crime tribunal in the Hague to a useful conclusion.

Meanwhile, another major criminal in the Balkan war, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, tried in 2001, was the first part of the attempt by the International Court of Justice.

Fortunately for Slobodan Milosevic, he died while he was in prison.

Ratko Mladic was the last of three Serb leaders wanted for war crimes, following the capture of Radovan Karadzic and Slobodan Milosevic.

Ratko Mladic was responsible for the death of 7,500 Bosnian Muslim men and boys, in the clear-cut case of genocide back in 1995.

Ratko Mladic managed to escape capture for almost 16 years, until now.

Together, these three men have written one of the bloodiest segments of the history of modern times.

They were responsible for the senseless killing of an enormous number of innocent people for no other reason than their mere cultural identity.

We might have thought that the Holocaust in the Second World War, involving the mass executions of six million Jews and many more ethnic minorities, would be the last case of ethnic cleansing on earth.

Unfortunately, communal strife, and the killing of innocent civilians because of their mere ethnicity, has been the curse of mankind all over the world.

The former Yugoslavia witnessed the culmination of the latest round of massive genocide.

We must understand the evils of racism, especially when we live in a multi-racial society like Malaysia.

The greatest enemy of multi-racialism is the blind, dogmatic hatred for the ‘Other’, for people who look unlike ourselves, and who speak a different language from ourselves.

In any plural society, we are bound to have people with various ethnic and cultural characteristics.

But we must all live by the dictum of ‘live and let live’.

Everybody on this God-given earth has the sacrosanct right to live.

The wanton killing of innocent lives, based on hatred of a certain ethnicity or race, is a crime against humanity.

We accept the reality that the human race will always be divided along racial and cultural lines.

That is a fact of life.

What matters most is how we are going to resolve the differences that arise from our ethnic conflicts.

Meanwhile, we all recognise that our feeling of ethnicity is very deeply embedded in our self-identity.

The formula for peaceful co-existence is to recognise the importance of ethnicity, which is so much tied into our sense of self.

This is where we have to recognise the principle of fundamental and universal human rights, as enshrined in the United Nations Charter of 1948.

It is a matter of natural right for every ethnic group on earth to be protected in the pursuit of their individual cultural rights, without compulsion to bow to any other ethnic group.

In short, we may look different and speak differently, but we all belong to the human race, the common species of Homo sapiens.

What is important to our collective survival as a species must be more important than what divides us as different ethnic groups.

1 Comment »


    Comment by ANON — June 10, 2011 @ 11:10 AM | Reply

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