This I Believe

Sara - Edina, Minnesota
Entered on April 19, 2006

Never Again

I believe in standing up for what you believe.

During World War II, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party committed atrocities that shamed the world. We said never again. We formed the United Nations to develop friendly relations among countries based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man, signed by the members of the United Nations, laid out a series of rights inherent to all, regardless of their race, gender, or social status.

You would think with these measures, genocides would stop occurring. Nevertheless, many have taken place since the formation of the United Nations. In 1970 a social revolution occurred in which the Cambodian Communist government slaughtered two million of the wealthier citizens. Around the same time, the Argentine military systematically kidnapped, tortured and killed political subversives. Similarly, in 1994 in Rwanda the Hutus killed almost one million Tutsis in 100 days, while the United Nations refused to let their troops intervene. Right now in Darfur, millions of Sudanese people are starving to death in a war-induced famine, while little aid reaches them.

You would think that United States is exempt from the practice of genocide. However, during the Vietnam War, U.S. soldiers massacred hundreds of unarmed citizens, mostly old men, women, and children at My Lai. Recently, in the Iraq War, American generals encouraged army interrogators to use more coercive procedures to gain information from the Iraqi prisoners. The information the generals wished to receive was most likely not even known to the Iraqis. When transferring the prisoners to Guantanamo Bay, they were blindfolded and shackled to the floor of the airplane for twenty hours. Also, the army guards stationed at Abu Gharib took pictures of prisoners attached to electric wires while the soldiers wore smiles and gave thumbs up signs.

In these atrocities, people did not stand up against the oppressor. The Founding Fathers gave Americans the First Amendment to allow us to voice our opinions. We have a responsibility to speak for those who are less fortunate than us. We have a responsibility to speak against abusers of human rights, even if they are our leaders. Hitler was able to send millions of Jews to death camps because no one stopped him. We need to stand up for what we believe so it will never happen again.