Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month

25 April 2014

What Is Genocide?

After WWII, in which an estimated 6 million people perished during the Holocaust, world leaders were determined to ensure that a massacre of that scale would never occur again. The Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide came into force in 1951. The main provision of the Convention is to establish genocide as a crime under international law. So, while the decision as to what constitutes domestic law is largely at the behest of each country, the same cannot be said for international law. This is because international law and international human rights law, more specifically, aims to be applicable in every country, in the same way.

In order for an act to be classified as genocide, two requirements must be satisfied. Firstly, it must be proven that there was intent to commit an act, such as murder. The second requirement that must be satisfied and perhaps the most important with regards to genocide, is the intent to target a specific group of people. Groups may be targeted for a number of reasons, such as their ethnicity or religious beliefs. Furthermore, they are often minorities. Therefore, the intention for genocide is two-fold, including not only the intent to commit the act, but the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a certain group: this is known as double intent.

Genocide Awareness And Prevention Month

April has been the designated month for genocide awareness and prevention since 2011. The vast majority of genocides that have occurred share their anniversaries in April. This includes the genocide of Darfur, Sudan.

Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month is an opportunity for HART, as well as many other organizations, to engage in campaigns which will contribute towards spreading awareness of genocide. By doing so, they also hope to make an impact in preventing genocide. A list can be downloaded below of recent and upcoming events in which HART has been able to raise awareness about the genocide in Sudan.

Why Do The Atrocities of Sudan Constitute Genocide?

While the events of Darfur have widely come to be accepted as genocide, the classifying of events in South Kordofan and Blue Nile as genocide is subject to contention. However, HART believes strongly that the barbaric acts of violence that has and continue to take place in these regions amount to genocide. Our main understanding of genocide comes from the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948). Article 2 states, ‘…genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group…’  Article 2(a-e), lists acts that, teamed with an ‘intent to destroy’, are considered acts of genocide.  Acts that constitute genocide include killing, preventing births and forcibly removing children from the group.

Even though the genocide in Sudan is not necessarily targeting a specific ethnic group per se, it is important to note that one of the criteria listed in the Convention is racial group. Thus, ensuring that genocide is not a term reserved only for people who are being targeted on the basis of their ethnicity, but race also. Al-Bashir and his supporters have been vocal about their contempt for black people, referring to them as ‘black plastic bags’ among many other racial slurs. The actions of al-Bashir and his supporters further illustrate their intention to cleanse Sudan of black people. Areas with considerable non-Arab, black populations, such as Blue Nile, South Kordufan and Darfur, have been deliberately targeted by militias that inflict unimaginable acts of violence.

2014 has been a particularly turbulent time for those residing in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Compared to February; March saw a significant increase in attacks in Blue Nile, in which , houses, farmland and livestock were devastated by bombings.  In the same month, a rise in militia activity occurred in South Kordofan. 4 civilians perished and a further 13 were injured during an airstrike in South Kordofan.


Click here to access the #standforsudan thunderclap 

Click here to access the #standforsudan petition

Photo credit: Photo credit: STAND

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