New York – A New York-based human rights group on Thursday urged the United Nations to declare April as Genocide Prevention Month. Six genocides – Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia, the Holocaust and Darfur have significant anniversaries in April. “We are trying to work with the United Nations to recognize the day,” said Jonathan Freedman, spokesman for the Genocide Prevention Project. He said US Ambassador Susan Rice was to take part in a ceremony at UN headquarters related to the Rwandan genocide.
The project said survivors from five previous genocides have come together with Darfurians to observe Genocide Prevention Month, with 250 events scheduled to take place in 10 countries in April.
“It is a tragic coincidence that six civilian slaughters have anniversaries in April,” said Jill Savitt, director of Genocide Prevention Month.
“A network of survivors is calling on leaders to make sure what happened to their families is not repeated,” Savitt said. “They are asking for action on the Darfur crisis and for a plan to make genocide prevention an international priority.”
Congress has registered the project’s request to declare April as Genocide Prevention Month, for which actress Mia Farrow was also campaigning.
“Our families perished while the world watched,” said Eugenie Mukeshimana, a Rwanda survivor. “Fifteen years after the international community failed to stop the slaughter of one million people in Rwanda, it is now failing the people of Darfur.”
Events include a memorial on April 21 at Yad Vashem, Israel, and the Holocaust Museum in Washington to mark the 66th anniversary of Yom HaShoah – the Warsaw ghetto uprising.
On April 19, the sixth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict in Darfur – in which more than 300,000 people have died – Darfurians and survivors of earlier genocide will demonstrate in front of the White House.