December 27, 1996 Halifax Herald

The year in review, and a wish list for 1997

Now that Christmas has pasted, let's do a quick review of some of the major events which made world headlines during 1996:

Committing the barbaric crime of genocide was not as fashionable in 1996 as it was in 1995. In Bosnia, where genocide ran rampant, the slaughter has ceased and now survivors are beginning to talk about their experiences with horror.

Most of us, with the fall of Nazism, thought that humans would never again descend to the depths of evil that Hitler spread. How much we erred in making this assumption is exposed by the tales being told by the victims who survived the atrocities carried out in Bosnia.

Among the thousands of crimes committed against humanity in that unfortunate country. three brutal incidents are frozen solidly in my mind: 6,000 to 8,000 innocent boys and men being systematically executed in Srebrenica while the women were being subjected to mass rape and torture; Serbs forcing a Muslim prisoner to bite off another prisoner's privates - its reported he died the next day - and this occurred while an audience of sick excuses for men watched and treated the sexual mutilation as a sporting event; and the revelation that dozens of these demons repeatedly raped a 52-year old grandmother.

One wonders why the monstrous instigators, in particular former Bosnian Serb president Radovan Karadzic and his military chief of staff General Ratko Mladic, are still running around loose instead of being dispatched by firing squads to the depths of the hell they so richly deserve.

To our eternal shame, the pits filled with the bodies of genocide victims, which are being unearthed in Bosnia and Rwanda, are monuments to the callous indifference shown by the so-called free world's seven richest and most powerful democracies towards the horrors that were being committed in these countries. They knew what was happening and did virtually nothing to stop it!

The Middle East: In June I predicted that the selection of Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel's Prime Minister would see peace take a back seat to a land grab in occupied Palestinian territory by his supporters. This is now happening and the prime minister's actions are so provocative that even the Arab country which started the peace process, Egypt, is hinting about the possibility of a return to a war mentality in the region. The chances for peace in the area are rapidly slipping away.

With the return of hardline positions to the forefront in Northern Ireland, the same can be said for peace prospects there.

Amid all the turmoil there are a few bright spots - for example, Guatemala. With the signing of a peace treaty between its civil war combatants, the decades of slaughter suffered by its Native population are coming to an end. Guatemala has a Native majority; perhaps it will eventually become the first modern Nation in the Americas to be ruled over by Native Americans!

My wish list for 1977:

* That governments bring back to the forefront Canada's racial problems and make an all-out effort to solve them. Nationwide, racial intolerance is on the increase; sadly, while this is happening, governments are busy attending to what they deem to be a more politically correct and rewarding issue, gender.

*That governments stop fanning the flames of gender wars and concentrate on finding peace among the sexes. I firmly believe that a sizable majority of Canadians are sick up to the eyeballs with the shenanigans of the people who constitute the ranks of the female and male chauvinist brigades, and are also very sick of their habit of blowing Canada's so-called gender-related problems all out of proportion. Itís time governments started catering to the wishes of the majority on the gender issue, and start looking for solutions which will strengthen family life and individual liberty.

*That governments, instead of trying to follow the lead of the United Nations - which categorizes poverty into neat little pigeon holes called child poverty, women's poverty etc. - concentrate on eradicating poverty - period. The new emphasis on child poverty in Canada, as if children weren't attached to families, is an attempt to duck the real issue. There is family poverty in Canada, not abandoned children living alone in poverty.

Child poverty occurs in Third World countries such as Brazil, India, Romania, etc. In these countries, many young children are abandoned to the mean streets by poverty-stricken parents and are thereafter exploited by perverts, drug dealers, etc.; and in some instances, slaughtered by death squads. In Canada, street children are street children mostly by choice.

Poverty, caused mainly by the chronic unemployment rate our country suffers - officially 10 percent, but in reality much higher - is traumatizing many Canadian families; many of them are almost devoid of hope for the future. Government initiatives are needed to solve the overall poverty problem, piecemeal tinkering hasn't worked.

*That governments start the process of including the use of democratic principles and practices when governing. The current philosophy held by political parties, which has them thinking that they are elected to office to do as they damn well please, needs to be altered to the point where they accept the precept that they are in office solely to serve the wishes of the people.

A friend, Tony Ross, gave this as his definition of democracy: "A system of government which will respond honestly to the collective will of the electorate." It would be a novelty if we had something like that practised here.

With eternal optimism that someday equality and justice will be found for all the world's Peoples, I wish all a Happy New Year!

Daniel N. Paul


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