Center for Injury Prevention
Genocide Early Warning and Prevention Program
Tel 972-2-6758147 email [email protected]
Dec 5 2006
Hon Juan Mendez
International Center for Transitional Justice
Special Advisor to the Secretary General for Prevention of Genocide
New York NY USA [email protected]
Subject: Incitement to Genocide and Holocaust Denial by President of Iran:
Crime against Humanity-Follow-up on my letter of Nov 1 2005
Dear Mr Mendez
November a year ago, I wrote you a letter in which I expressed alarm over the statement by the President of Iran, Mohamed Ahmadinejad, that “Israel should be wiped off the map”. In answer to my call for your office to investigate his actions, with a view to determining whether they were incitement to genocide, I later received a reply acknowledging my letter and another letter, sent by Dr Rony Blum, now Visiting Scholar in our Program, inviting further contacts.
As I noted in my first letter, the statement by President Ahmadinejad, the head of a sovereign government, is direct incitement to genocide, i.e. a crime against humanity. It called for the destruction of an entire nation defined as members of the group, and included explicit endorsements of acts of terror and violence to achieve this objective. But the statement was not mere rhetoric. Iran is a government that is accused of continuing to support terror organizations. It itself is accused of having carrying out such terror actions-e.g. the bombing of the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires.
In the past year, much has happened to indicate that the statement by President Ahmadinejad was not a one-time event, and to underscore the case for action by the UN, including and specifically the office of the Special Advisor.
- President Ahmadinejad has repeated his statements to wipe Israel off the map, and his government’s media resources use language such as “eradicating this cancer.” Such statements are incitement to genocide, which is a crime under the International Criminal Code
- President Ahmadinejad and his government have run a vociferous campaign of Holocaust denial.
- His government has provided aid to organizations such as Hizbulloh, which advocates destruction of the State of Israel. Last summer, Hisbulloh used missiles it reportedly received from the Government of Iran to aim at the entire population of northern Israel, forcing Israel to use military force to defend its citizens. The fact that Hizbulloh committed crimes against humanity is not negated by the need for examining criticisms-which many Israelis, including myself, share– of indiscriminate Israeli use of cluster bombs to destroy military targets shielded by civilians.
- Iran continues to pursue its concealed and illicit enrichment of uranium which, until proven otherwise, indicates intent to acquire and develop nuclear weapons. It continues its parallel development and testing of missile systems having the potential for delivering such weapons.
We note that the warnings by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and the Hebrew University and a newspaper article (Incitement deserves Indictment, Jerusalem Post, Feb 11, 2006) as far back as February-March 2006 have already called attention to all the foregoing. These warnings called for initiating legal procedures that would lead to indictment of President Ahmadinejad for both incitement to genocide and Holocaust denial. So far, nothing has happened in response to these warnings.
Security Council Resolution 1674, passed in April 2006, declares the “responsibility to protect” communities subject to threats of genocide and mass atrocities. In my original letter, I noted that incitement and hate language by those in power is a validated predictor of intent to commit genocide. The role of incitement and hate language has been well documented for the Holocaust, Cambodia, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, and many other genocides. No less important as a predictor for genocide is acquiescence, indifference, and inaction by the outside world. Given the catastrophic consequences of incitement and hate language, and Iran’s covert, illegal nuclear program, the burden of proof is on those who deny the genocidal intentions of the Government of Iran, and the potential for using weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems, to act on its declarations of genocidal intent.
The Security Council has condemned the statement by the Iranian President. But as the history of past genocides has shown, genocidal regimes usually ignore such warnings-as has occurred in Darfur, where the death toll has reached 400,000..
Condemnation, strong as it may be, requires follow-up with definable and tangible actions that deter perpetrators and warn away their followers before they begin to carry out their inhuman agendas. In keeping with Security Council Resolution 1674, I again call upon your office to initiate legal proceedings to indict and try the President of Iran for crimes against humanity. The objective of such proceedings is to send a non-violent, but strong, coherent message to perpetual perpetrators and their followers before genocide happens. The precedent for such proceedings is the indictment, trial and conviction of journalists who incited to genocide in Rwanda, all of which occurred after the genocidal killing of 800,000. In my opinion, the first step would for your office to collect the data that state the case for such an indictment-immediately-before genocide may occur..
As Iran races towards nuclear capability, there is no reason for delay. The case for action is urgent, and the hour is late. It is 1938.
Elihu D Richter MD, MPH
cc. Intl Association of Genocide Scholars
cc. Hon Danny Gillerman –Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs-
cc. Jerry Fowler, Committee of Conscience–US Holocaust Memorial Museum
cc. Professor Yehuda Bauer-Yad Vashem
cc. Professor Menahem Magidor, President Hebrew University
cc. Professor Haim Rabinovich, Rector
cc. Professor Elliot Berry-Director School of Public Health