The Archdiocese of Denver has partnered with the Coalition Against Global Genocide and several other local religious organizations to bring light to the plights of peoples who have suffered genocide and promote Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in April.
Below is the Coalition’s letter to raise awareness of this tragic reality. Let us continue to pray for all those who suffer from the travesty of genocide.
You have probably seen the bumper sticker: “What would happen if there were a war, and no one showed up?” We are proposing a new sticker that reads: “What if there were a genocide and everyone spoke up to stop it?”
Our voice, a gift given by God, may be our greatest weapon to stop current atrocities and prevent the next genocide. No, we cannot go back and restore the lives of those who died, but we can change the future and prevent another genocide.
Last year, Governor Jared Polis proclaimed April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month in Colorado in recognition of citizens’ desire to combat acts of genocide and crimes against humanity. The state declared that in order to prevent future genocides and crimes against humanity, effective prevention measures must be implemented before a crisis has erupted and educating the public can help to protect individual rights and promote a culture of lawfulness to prevent future genocides.
Why April? The world has witnessed many genocides that all began in April. Millions of people perished; cultures were destroyed; communities and nations were ruined.
April 3 – Darfur, 2003-today; 400,000 lives lost
April 5 – Bosnia, 1992-1996; 200,000 lives lost
April 7 – Rwanda, 1994; 800,000 lives lost
April 8 – Holocaust, 1933-1945; 11,000,000 lives lost
April 17 – Cambodia, 1975-1979; 2,000,000 lives lost
April 24 – Armenians, 1915-1923; 1,500,000 lives lost
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide was adopted by the United Nations after World War II. While the definition of genocide was only adopted in the 1940s, we know that genocides were occurring well before this time. Today, in the 21st century, genocide occurs against Darfuris in Sudan, the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, the Uyghurs in China, the Tigrayans in Ethiopia and the people of South Sudan. There also are crimes against the indigenous Christians and Yezidis in the Middle East.
We must also remember and commemorate the atrocities that happened in our own country — the United States of America. When European settlers arrived in the Americas, historians estimate there were over ten million Native Americans living here. By 1900, their estimated population was under 300,000. In the 19th century, 4,000 Cherokee people died on the Trail of Tears.
Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, African people were kidnapped from the continent of Africa and forced into slavery in the American colonies. Millions of Africans were enslaved, tortured and treated as tools to build this country. The economics of enslavement, the violence of slavery, sexual violence against enslaved Black women, the commodification of people, and last words of lynching victims dramatize the suffering of racial terrorism imposed on entire communities. Very unfortunately, today, civil violations and discrimination persist in both populations.
Dennis Prager, a noted ethicist, writer, and TV personality, penned a blog post asking that if you were in danger of losing your life and had to choose one person to save you, who would it be? His response was a “clergyperson,” for they are often tuned into the pain of others and likely would be the most moral and most sensitive, even risking their lives to save yours.
The Coalition Against Global Genocide in partnership with the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado Council of Churches, Greater Metropolitan Denver Ministerial Alliance, Northeast Denver Islamic Center and Rocky Mountain Rabbis & Cantors, are reaching out to invite you to join us as we launch this very special month of April as Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month as well as Sermon Weekend which will take place on Friday, March 25 through Sunday, March 27.
We are writing to you because people are dying today at the hands of others, and you are among those most likely to speak up to save them. We are asking you to let your voice be heard by bringing forth our message to your congregants to make them aware of what continues to happen this very day. It is our hope that in turn members of your congregations will help stop and prevent these horrendous atrocities so that one day all people will be able to live in peace.
Please let us know if you will be participating in this Sermon Weekend and we will forward you additional resources after hearing back from you. Thank you in advance for your support.
If you have additional questions, please contact Roz Duman at firstname.lastname@example.org or her assistant, Michelle Hale Allen at mhaleallen@hotmail.
Rabbi Daniel A. Roberts, CoAGG Board of Directors/Chair, Sermon Weekend
Roz Duman, Founder/Executive Director CoAGG