The time has come, the precedents are there. Precedents in the sense of past failures of the international community to prevent genocide in places like Rwanda and Darfur (not to mention Europe in the 40s). Precedents in the post facto convictions of Rwandan mass murderers not just for genocide but for “incitement to commit genocide”.
The time has come–if we take history and genocide seriously– to bring Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to justice for that very crime.
Until last week I had not realized that under well established international law not only genocide but “incitement to commit genocide” is a crime for which certain malefactors, those complicit in the Rwandan mass murder, have already been indicted and convicted.
I was made aware of the legalities, if not the likelihood of such action in regard to the Iranian president by a scrupulously researched 68 page booklet entitled Referral of Iranian President Ahmadinejad on the Charge of Incitement to Genocide. A referral, or request for indictment sponsored by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs which you can download from its website HERE.
I found out about the Referral from a correspondent for New York’s Jewish Week newspaper, Stewart Ain. He and I were taping appearances on the syndicated TV show, The Leon Charney Report hosted by the distinguished former Middle East diplomat. I was there to discuss the recent Iranian Holocaust deniers’ conference and the Iranian strategy of using Holocaust denial to prepare the way for a second Holocaust, the destruction of the Jewish state. Mr. Ain had with him a copy of the “Referral”.
The document, whose principal author is an international law specialist, Justus Reid Weiner, makes a compelling case for bringing Ahmadinejad before the International Court of Justice for violation of the Genocide Convention. I obtained a copy from the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations in New York, and I was impressed by its seriousness, it’s legal and historical scholarship particularly in regard to the lessons learned from the Rwandan genocide.
Most compelling is the precedent for indictment and conviction for incitement to genocide even before genocide happens. Frankly the only time such an indictment and conviction would matter. An extremely important provision because it doesn’t just seek to punish those for mass murder already committed but to punish those who incite mass murder before it happens. Before the killing starts.
The booklet cites the case of Rwanda’s Radio Mille Collines. The Hutu extremist station “allowed ‘the genocide planners’ to ‘broadcast murderous instructions directly to the people.'”
Acting on these murderous instructions 800,000 or so Tutsis were exterminated. Only afterward were Radio Mille Collines and its principals convicted of the crime of “incitement to genocide” by the International Court of Justice. The Ahmadinejad “Referral” makes the case that the anti-Genocide Convention makes possible the arraignment and conviction of those who incite to genocide before the crime is committed. That incitement is a separate crime in itself; timely prosecution of which could prevent genocide from being committed.
It has never happened before, this kind of preemptive indictment, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen now, or that it shouldn’t happen now, or that the international law making incitement a separate crime shouldn’t be applied to Ahmadinejad and his genocidal incitement against the Jewish state.
At this point I don’t think I need to review the record of Ahmadinejad’s genocidal incitements. (The referral is thorough in doing so. ) After summarizing the loathsome murderous litany of incitements the “Referral” concludes, “…there exist a multiplicity of potential prosecutors and legal venues that are available to commence legal action. Bluntly put, Ahmadinejad’s incitement necessitates an indictment”
In addition to the Jerusalem Center, a group led by Alan Dershowitz is pursuing an alternative course of action that would lead to indictment. You may say all this is an unrealistic expectation, and perhaps it may be. But to fail to seek an indictment for the incitement of genocide is to make such incitement cost-free. We’ve seen the consequences in Rwanda and now Darfur (where such indictments are long overdue).
Considering the hideous historical record of failure in the past to prevent genocide, failure to pursue this course (in addition to any others that may be necessary to stop or prevent genocide) would itself be a crime. Read the Referral. Demand the international community live up to its words and its laws.
Indict the inciters. Bring Ahamdinejad to justice before it’s too late.