December 21, 2006

Words That Can Kill

Words That Can Kill, from Jeff Jacoby:

Today Simon Bikindi is being tried by the international tribunal created to bring Rwanda's accused war criminals to justice. The central charge against him is that he incited genocide with his songs. Words can be deadly, opening the door to murder on a vast scale. That is why the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide unambiguously makes it as much of a crime to incite acts of genocide as to physically commit them.

If Simon Bikindi has been charged with incitement to commit genocide, why hasn't Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

For many months preceding the Rwandan genocide, there was similar incitement to mass-murder. Yet international authorities did nothing to silence the inciters - with catastrophic results. The situation in Iran today is frighteningly similar, with one critical difference: "While the Hutus in Rwanda were equipped with...machetes, Iran, should the international community do nothing to prevent it, will soon acquire nuclear weapons," argues the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in a brief setting out in detail the legal case for prosecuting the Iranian president. At that point Tehran would be poised to commit the first "instant genocide" in history. Iran's intentions are nakedly, malignantly clear. What is not clear at all is what the civilized world will do about it. An indictment of Ahmadinejad under the Genocide Convention would not, by itself, eliminate the threat of a second Holocaust. It would, however, make a good first step.
See also Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Commit Genocide - (1M pdf file)