There's been a lot of news lately about taking down monuments to terrible people, or renaming buildings that were christened after them.
In related news, there's still a statue of Oliver Cromwell outside of the UK House of Commons in Westminster. Cromwell led English Army against King Charles I and served as Lord Protector of the British Isles until his death in 1658. In 2002, he was chosen as one of the 10 greatest Britons by the BBC. He was also responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Ireland, and the export of thousands more Irish into forced (non-chatel) servitude in the Caribbean.
But you wouldn't know any of it from this delightful children's book about his life!
Even Winston Churchill — who did not have a particularly positive relationship with the Irish — thought Cromwell was a dictator:
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Cromwell’s record was a lasting bane.
In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia after expelling a US puppet regime, surviving a brutal US bombing campaign despite the massive asymmetry between the Cambodian forces and the US military. Tian Veasna was born three days after the Khmer Rouge took power, and spent his formative years in forced labor camps as his family were beaten, starved, tortured and murdered. Today, Veasna is a comics creator living in France, and in Year of the Rabbit
, Veasna creates a coherent story out of his family's narratives, giving us a ground-level view of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime, whose campaign of genocide led to the deaths of more than a million people.
On Tuesday, advocates for human rights for China's Uighur minority said they have documented 500 camps and prisons in China run by the government to detain people identified as belonging to that targeted ethnic group. Read the rest
Myanmar is being sued the by 57-nation Organisation of Islamic Cooperation at the UN's International Court of Justice for allegedly conducting genocide against the Rohingya minority, reports ABC News. The lawsuit, filed by Gambia, alleges that:
Starting in October 2016 and then again in August 2017, Myanmar’s security forces engaged in so-called “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, a distinct Muslim ethnic minority, in Rakhine State, Myanmar. The operations, in particular those that started in August 2017, were characterized by brutal violence and serious human rights violations on a mass scale. Survivors report indiscriminate killings, rape and sexual violence, arbitrary detention, torture, beatings, and forced displacement. Reports have also shown that security forces were systematically planning for such an operation against the Rohingya even before the purported reason for the violence — retaliation for small scale attacks committed by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) — occurred. As a result, an estimated 745,000 people — mostly ethnic Rohingya — were forced to flee to Bangladesh.
Photo by Yang Jing on Unsplash Read the rest
Early this month, Google's Project Zero revealed a breathtaking attack on multiple OSes, including Apple's Ios, in which a website that served Uyghur people was found to be hosting at least five different kinds of Ios malware that exploited previously unknown defects in Apple's code (the attack is presumed to have been the work of the Chinese state, which has been prosecuting a genocidal campaign against Uyghurs, whose high-tech fillips have seen both cities and apps suborned to aid in the pogrom).
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Terra Nullius is my latest column in Locus magazine; it explores the commonalities between the people who claim ownership over the things they use to make new creative works and the settler colonialists who arrived in various "new worlds" and declared them to be empty, erasing the people who were already there as a prelude to genocide.
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Hereditary millionaire war-criminal and brother of Betsy DeVos Erik Prince (previously) is full of good ideas: after founding the disgraced mercenary company Blackwater (and several subsequent reboots thereof), he proposed that the US could withdraw its military from Afghanistan and instead pay him to occupy the country with a mercenary army that would brutally subjugate its people on America's behalf.
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The nonprofit organization to which I belong recently put the personal data of around 410,000 people on the internet, connected to interactive street maps of where they lived. The data includes their full names, date and place of birth, known residential address, and often includes their professions and arrest records, sometimes even information about mental or physical handicaps. It also lists whether any of their grandparents were Jewish.
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Patrick Ball and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) (previously) use careful, rigorous statistical models to fill in the large blank spots left behind by acts of genocide, bringing their analysis to war crimes tribunals, truth and reconciliation proceedings, and other reckonings with gross human rights abuses.
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“On Helen’s form, which was filled out with assistance from officials, there is a checked box next to a line that says, “I withdraw my previous request for a Flores bond hearing.” Beneath that line, the five-year-old signed her name in wobbly letters.”
What the Trump administration is doing to these thousands of children is morally repulsive. We have to stop it. Read the rest
Our European immigrant ancestors did an unspeakable number of shitty things to North America's Indigenous peoples. Massacres, rapes, pillaging and residential schools designed to destroy their culture – we ticked off all of the genocidal boxes.
Take a visit to a nearby reservation and you'll find that the legacy of our white asshole doings still echo on today. Amidst the systematic racism and down-home bigotry that many natives in the United States and Canada are still putting up with, federal and local government officials are doing what they can to make amends for the atrocities of the past. Issuing an official apology for the indignities, pain and death visited upon those forced into Canada's residential school system is a good example of this.
However, not every gesture needs to be as grand in scope: inclusion, education and acceptance of indigenous cultures that were, for generations, forced outside of the mainstream, can go a long way towards healing the wounds of the past on a local level. To help move things along in this area, Professor Onowa McIvor of the University of Victoria's Department of Indigenous Education has put together a collection of words, greetings other and phrases in the languages of British Columbia's Indigenous peoples that can be incorporated into our day-to-day lives.
From The CBC:
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Learning how to say "hello" or displaying a welcome sign in the language of the local First Nation are just a few ways the author is encouraging people to get involved.
"To learn a greeting but also the appropriate response is a way of deepening our understanding of that language a little bit, and being able to have just a very short conversation," McIvor told On The Island host Gregor Craigie.
Charles Manson, world-famous cult leader and serial killer, died this week in a prison in California, after a life sentence. Ratko Mladic, Balkan war criminal, just received a life sentence in The Hague yesterday.
Sometimes, the right thing happens. Read the rest
In 1907, Charles Morgan of Broome Station sent this telegram to Henry Prinsep, the Chief Protector of Aborigines for Western Australia, in Perth: "Send cask arsenic exterminate aborigines letter will follow." Read the rest
From the late 1800s to the early 1940s, many Americans celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as "ragamuffins" in masked costumes and then thronged the streets, basically trick-or-treating for money and gifts. Read the rest
I've heard -- and repeated -- the theory that addiction rates among indigenous people in the Americas was caused by genetics -- specifically, that "new world" populations hadn't gone through the European plague years' genetic bottleneck that killed everyone who couldn't survive on alcoholic beverages (these having been boiled during their production and thus less likely to carry infectious diseases). Read the rest
Guatemala is a place where justice seldom reaches those who deserve it most. But today in Guatemala, something amazing has happened. And they're calling it “Guatemalan Spring.”