Genocide was first coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish Polish legal scholar. In his book Genocide - A Modern Crime, he defined Genocide as a crime that did not necessarily signify mass killings, but rather "a coordinated plan aimed at destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups so that these groups wither and die like plants that have suffered a blight."
In Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, the United Nations defined the Crime of Genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Since its definition, Genocide represents one of the most heinous crimes against humanity. However, time and time again the international community has failed to effectively combat genocide and punish its perpetuators. As Doctors Against Genocide, we are dedicated to recognizing acts of genocide and applying pressure on the international community to uphold international law and act to stop genocide around the world. This is our duty as Doctors in order to uphold the fundamental principles of medical ethics, emphasizing the duty to protect and preserve life, alleviate suffering, and advocate for the well-being of individuals and communities, all of which are directly threatened by genocide.
Recognizing genocide involves a careful examination of specific indicators that point to systematic and intentional acts aimed at the destruction of a particular group in the ways described by the U.N. in Article II of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.
An understanding of the historical, social, and political context is essential to discern patterns of discrimination, persecution, or exclusion. Documenting and analyzing these signs, along with paying attention to official rhetoric that dehumanizes or marginalizes the targeted group, are crucial steps in recognizing and addressing the early stages of genocide. It is crucial that genocide is recognized early and spoken up against immediately, as every day is a tragic one for group targeted with genocide.
Some other organizations working to recognize and raise awareness about genocide include:
Find out who your representative is and how to reach out to them. Find out details on how to set up an appointment with them.
Invite your colleagues to join you in reaching out to your elected representative. There is power in number and solidarity, and every voice matters!
Research your elected official. Find out their prior official statements on the Genocide you are speaking up against in order to best understand their view and how to persuade them to speak up against the crime of genocide.
Visit your representative's office in person and ask to speak with them. If they are unavailable, make sure to speak to one of their staffers in order for your message to be passed along.
Remember, an in-person meeting is more impactful than a phone call, and a phone call is more impactful than an email.
When visiting the office, wear your white coat, scrubs or your healthcare uniform.
Listen carefully to their representative's views, and always be respectful.
Take notes and ask clarifying questions on their stance.
Remember also to emphasize how as a healthcare worker it is your duty to stand up to protect and preserve life, and that speaking out against genocide is necessary.
Take pictures or videos of you speaking and share on your social media with the tag #DoctorsAgainstGenocide.
Also share your experience amongst your peers so as to better prepare ourselves in our campaigns to combat genocide.