Last Friday, the Baha’i World News Service published a post on a major and important speech made by Romeo Dallaire in the Canadian Senate. Go to the link above for the full article. Below is a short extract with a link to the full speech.
OTTAWA — Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire, the former UN peacekeeping force commander who tried to stop the 1990s genocide in Rwanda, has said that Iran’s current actions against Baha’is remind him of what he witnessed in Africa.
“The similarities with what I saw in Rwanda are absolutely unquestionable, equal…and in fact applied with seemingly the same verve,” said Senator Dallaire.
“We are witnessing a slow-motion rehearsal for genocide,” he warned.
Senator Dallaire’s remarks came as part of a Senate inquiry into the persecution of Iranian Baha’is. The imprisonment of Baha’is for no reason other than their belief, he told the Senate, is comparable with the Rwandan situation.
“[T]he prisons of Rwanda were filled with Tutsi people for almost the same reasons, except their crime was based on their ethnicity, rather than their religion,” he said.
Another parallel can be found in the persecution of Baha’i educators who try to teach young community members in the face of government efforts to ban them from university.
“Any Iranian who identifies as Baha’i is barred from higher education, from holding a position in the government, or from partaking in the political process,” he said.
“These attacks against the Baha’i leaders and teachers are troubling enough as human rights violations. However, they are even more disturbing because they took place in the context of the Iranian state’s severe repression of the entire Baha’i community. A similar scenario played out in Rwanda where the Tutsi ethnic minority was not allowed access to higher education in their country. They had to leave the country in order to access higher education.”
In 1994, Senator Dallaire commanded the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda that was ultimately unsuccessful in preventing the mass slaying of an estimated 800,000 Rwandans. He has since become honored and respected around the world for his humanitarian work and his courageous defense of people under threat. He has also been a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention.