When Niluccio used the term ‘the g-word’ in our morning roundup today, I quickly whispered to another colleague, asking what he meant. Genocide. Yes, a word with serious charges and devastating consequences – definitely not a term to be bandied around lightly.
Could that be why President Obama is tip-toeing around the issue of genocide during his visit to Turkey? So far the President’s words have been as closely-scrutinised as ever. Turks and Armenians are waiting to see whether he will describe the reported killings of thousands of Armenians in 1915 as "genocide". Past US leaders have skirted the issue and it looks like President Obama may do the same, refusing to mention the 'g-word' in Turkey (so far) despite campaign references to it.
Barack Obama’s not the only one to have to watch his language on this issue though: this is a debate that has been suppressed for too long in Turkey, where people can be locked up just for trying to discuss what happened to Armenians in 1915. It’s a controversial topic, but that doesn’t mean it should be swept under the carpet – and it certainly doesn’t mean people should be jailed for talking about it. Amnesty wants the Turkish authorities to scrap laws that criminalise free speech, like the now-notorious Article 301.
One humanitarian crisis that definitely merits that tragic title is that of the horrific events that took place in Rwanda, which began 15 years ago today. Many of us can still recall the haunting images from the Rwanda genocide, which resulted in more than 800,000 brutally killed within the space of 100 days. 15 years on, the country is still trying to recover from the horrors of that time.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.