Genocide Scholars Appeal to Congress to Halt US Aid to Saudi Bombing of Yemen

image: The New York Times 

Abrar of Yemen is starving. 



December 5, 2018


Open Letter To Members of The United States Congress

From: Scholars and Activists from Across the Globe in the Fields of International Human Rights, Crimes Against Humanity, and Genocide

Topic: The Humanitarian Disaster in Yemen

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has deemed Yemen the world’s gravest humanitarian crisis, noting that some 22 million people are in dire need of food, water and medicine, as well as protection. The latter is due to a manmade famine. Concomitantly, six internationally renowned humanitarian organizations, all working in Yemen, believe that upwards of 11 million people now face imminent starvation if humanitarian aid does not reach them within the next one to two months.

Eleven million. That is nearly as many people who perished in the Holocaust. Eleven times as many as were killed in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

In October, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child reported that at least 1,248 children have been killed since the start of the war. Save the Children reports that an average of 130 children are dying every single day from starvation and disease. To date, it is reported that approximately 85,000 children under five years old have starved to death since the outset of the war.

While the United States Government has a responsibility for what is taking place in Yemen, it is far from alone. Yemeni Government troops and the Houthi rebels share the greatest responsibility. War in Yemen erupted in early 2015 when Houthi rebels (a Shia group) captured Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, after overthrowing the U.S.-backed government of President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Saudi Arabia and Iran, which are fighting a proxy war in Yemen, are also greatly responsible for the atrocities and ongoing severe malnutrition to starvation that the Yemeni people are suffering. The Saudis support the former government with systematic aerial bombardment of civilian targets such as schools and hospitals, while Iran supports the Houthi rebels. The United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait and Bahrain also have blood on their hands as they back the Saudis in their anti-Shi’a coalition. ISIS and al Qaeda have also seized the opportunity to attack Shi’a mosques, bombing Sana'a and Aden.

Millions of civilians are caught in the middle of this sectarian conflict, subjected to what reputable human rights groups describe as war crimes. Both the Obama and Trump administrations are implicated: they have supplied weapons and diplomatic cover for the Saudi-led military action in which non-combatants are paying an enormous price.

Until very recently, the United States supported the Saudi aerial attacks by providing for mid-air refueling of Saudi planes. Those aerial attacks are said to be responsible for 35,000 civilian casualties. It appears that the Saudi warplanes have deliberately targeted civilians in their homes and schools, on their farms and buses, and in their businesses. They have targeted petrol stations, killing scores of people with each air strike.

Not only have farms been bombed and prices for food in markets soared as a result of the war, but the Saudis, with the complicity of the United States, have virtually blocked food from entering all but one of the main ports in Yemen. They have also systematically prevented movement between the ports and cities, towns and villages, thus preventing aid from reaching those in dire need. Both sides in this genocidal civil war have murdered humanitarian aid personnel and erected barricades along the roads, where they extort bribes from ordinary citizens who have gone to buy food.

As individuals who have worked to support international human rights throughout our adult lives, who have conducted research into crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide, we have also actively advocated for early prevention and early intervention to stop such crimes. We are doing so once again.

In that regard, we respectfully make the following recommendations: 

• The U.S. must withdraw all support for the Saudi Air Force, and the U.S. and all NATO countries must end all arms sales and military support to the Saudi monarchy.

• The U.S. must demand an immediate ceasefire, enabling the unimpeded delivery of humanitarian supplies to all communities, with aid convoys protected by UN peacekeepers with a Chapter 7 mandate.

• The U.S. Government must press the UN Security Council to continue its diplomatic effort to bring the Yemen war to an end.

• If an immediate ceasefire is not honored, then the U.S. Government must press for protected distribution of humanitarian supplies, including a no fly-zone during the periods of the distribution of relief aid. A precedent along this line was the implementation of Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) during the Second Sudanese Civil War. (See “Operation Lifeline Sudan” in The Congressional Record.)

These are short-term measures, but they are needed immediately.

Given the urgency of this situation, we look forward to your prompt response.

Most sincerely,

Dr. Samuel Totten
Professor Emeritus
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Author, Genocide by Attrition: Nuba Mountains, Sudan, and editor of Dirty Hands and Vicious Deeds: The U.S. Government’s Complicity in Crimes against Humanity and Genocide

Dr. John Roth
Edward J. Sexton Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
Claremont McKenna College
Claremont, CA
Author, The Failures of Ethics: Confronting the Holocaust, Genocide, and Other Mass Atrocities

Dr. Taylor B. Seybolt 
Associate Professor
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
Director, Ford Institute for Human Security
University of Pittsburgh
Author, Humanitarian Military Intervention: The Conditions for Success and Failure

Ms. Rebecca Tinsley
Human Rights Activist
Founder of Network for Africa
London, England
Author, When the Stars Fall to Earth

Dr. Eyal Mayroz
Department of Peace and Conflict Studies
University of Sydney
New South Wales, Australia
Author, Reluctant Interveners? America’s Failed Responses to Genocide, From Bosnia to Darfur

The Baroness Cox
House of Lords
UK Parliament 
London, Great Britain

Dr. Ervin Staub
Professor Emeritus
Founding Director, Doctoral Program in the Psychology of Peace and Violence
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Author, The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Evil and Other Group Violence

Dr. Edina Becirevic
Associate Professor
University of Sarajevo
Sarajevo, Bosnia Herzegovina
Author, Genocide on the Drina River.


Dr. Maureen S. Hiebert
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science
Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies]
University of Calgary
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Author, Constructing Genocide and Mass Violence: Society, Crisis, Identity 

Dr. Ernesto Verdeja
Associate Professor
Department of Political Science and Peace Studies
University of Notre Dame & 
Executive Director
Institute for the Study of Genocide

Dr. Deborah Mayersen
Research Fellow
University of Wollongong
Wollongong, NSW, Australia
Author, On the Path to Genocide: Armenia and Rwanda Reexamined.

Dr. Eric Weitz
Distinguished Professor of History 
City College and Graduate Center 
City University of New York (CUNY)

Author, A Century of Genocide


Dr. Carla Barqueiro
Visiting Assistant Professor 
Department of International Relations
Goucher College
Towson, Maryland
Author, Mobilizing the Will to Intervene: Leadership to Prevent Mass Atrocities

Dr. Israel W. Charny
Professor Emeritus and Founder of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide
Department of Psychology
Hebrew University
Jerusalem, Israel
Editor, Encyclopedia of Genocide

Dr. Debórah Dwork
Founding Director
Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Clark University
Author, Holocaust: A History


Dr. Robert Melson
Professor Emeritus
Department of Political Science
Purdue University
Author, Revolution and Genocide: On the Origins of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust

Dr. Victoria Sanford
Professor & Chair
Department of Anthropology
Lehman College
Director, Center for Human Rights & Peace Studies
Doctoral Faculty, The Graduate Center City University of New York

Dr. Roger Smith
Professor Emeritus
Department of Government
College of William and Mary
Williamsburg, VA


Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey
Dr. Marsha Raticoff Grossnan Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies,
Richard Stockton University
Galloway, New Jersey

Dr. Henry Theriault
President, International Association of Genocide Scholars & Associate

Vice President for Academic Affairs
Worcester State University
Worcester, MA
Co-author, The UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide: A Primer

Dr. Hilary Earl
Department of History
Nipissing University
North Bay, Ontario, Canada
Author, The Nuremberg SS-Einsatzgruppen Trial, 1945-1958: Atrocity, Law, and History

Dr. Colin Tatz
Professor Emeritus
Australia National University
Canberra, Australia
Author, With Intent to Destroy: Reflecting on Genocide

Dr. Alex Alvarez
President’s Distinguished Teaching Fellow
Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice
Northern Arizona University
Flagstaff, AZ

Dr. Joseph Nevins
Department of Geography
Vassar College 
Poughkeepsie, New York
Author, A Not So Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor

Dr. Alejandro Baer
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Stephen C. Feinstein Chair in Holocaust and Genocide Studies
University of Minnesota 
Minneapolis, MM
Co-author, Memory and Forgetting in the Post-Holocaust Era: The Ethics of Never Again. 

Tanya L. Domi
Columbia University
Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs
The Harriman Institute
New York, New York

Dr. Gregory Stanton
Founding President, Genocide Watch

Founder, The Cambodian Genocide Project

Professor of Genocide Studies

George Mason University

Arlington, VA

Author, The Ten Stages of Genocide

UNSC Res. 955, 978 (ICTR)

Dr. Andrew Woolford
Department of Sociology and Criminology
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Dr. Herbert Hirsch
Department of Political Science
Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, VA
Author, Genocide and the Politics of Memory

Dr. Adam Muller
Professor and Director
Peace and Conflict Studies
University of Manitoba
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada 
First Vice-President, International Association of Genocide Scholars
Author, Fighting Words and Images: Representing Wars Across Disciplines

Dr. Edward Kissi
Department of Political Science
University of South Florida
Author, Revolution and Genocide in Ethiopia and Cambodia 

Dr. Kai Thaler
Assistant Professor of Global Studies
University of California, Santa Barbara
Author, “Foreshadowing Future Slaughter: From the Indonesian Killings of 1965-66 to Genocide in East Timor” in Genocide Studies and Prevention. 


Dr. Kurt Mills
Department of International Relations and Human Rights
University of Dundee
Dundee, Scotland
Author, International Responses to Mass Atrocities in Africa

Dr. Paul Mojzes
Professor Emeritus
Department of Religious Studies
Rosemont College 
Rosemont, Pennsylvania
Author, Genocide in the Balkans: Holocaust and Ethnic Cleansing in the Twentieth Century

Dr. Rick Halperin
SMU Human Right’s Program
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, Texas

Dr. Kimberley Ducey
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
The University of Winnipeg
Manitoba, Canada 
Treaty 1 Territory
Homeland of the Metis Nation

Dr. Robert Skloot
Professor Emeritus
Department of Theatre Arts
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Author, If the Whole Body Dies: Raphael Lemkin and the Treaty Against Genocide

Dr. Matthew Krain
Department of Political Science
The College of Wooster
Wooster, OH
Author, “State-Sponsored Mass Murder: The Onset and Severity of Genocide and Politics.” Journal of Conflict Resolution.

Dr. Valentina Kuryliw
Director of Education
Holodomor Research and Education Consortium
University of Alberta
Author, Holodomor in Ukraine, The Genocidal Famine 1932-1933

Dr. Robert Hitchcock
Department of Anthropology
University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NW
Author, Genocides of Indigenous Peoples

Dr. John H. Weiss
Associate Professor of History
Cornell University

Dr. C. Louis “PJ” Perrinjaquet, MD, MPH
Medical Director, Doctors to the World
Author, "Medical Mission Work in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan, During Active Bombardment of Civilians” in Nuba Mountains People Under Siege: Accounts by Humanitarians in the Battle Zone

Dr. Elun Gabriel
Associate Professor
Department of History
St. Lawrence University
Canton, New York

Dr. Kevin Simpson
Department of Psychology
John Brown University’
Siloam Springs, AR

Dr. Fred P. Cocozellelli
Department Chair and Associate Professor
Department of Government and Politics
St. John’s University
Queens, New York

Author, War and Social Welfare: Reconstruction after Conflict.

Dr. Jamie L. Wraight
Director, The Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive 
The University of Michigan-Dearborn

Dr. G. Jan Colijn
Dean Emeritus
Richard Stockton University
Galloway, New Jersey


Dr. James Brown
Global Studies
Chapman University
Orange, California

Dr. Marcia Littell
Holocaust & Genocide Studies Program
Richard Stockton University 
Galloway, New Jersey

Dr. Bill Younglove
California State University, Long Beach

Dr. James R. (Dick) Bennett
Professor Emeritus
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Author, Political Prisoners and Trials

Dr. Linda Woolf
Psychology and Human Rights 
Webster University
St. Louis, MO 

Dr. Betty A. Reardon
Founding Director, Emerita
International Institute on Peace Education
Teachers College, Columbia University
New York, New York

Dr. Stephen Zunes
Professor of Politics
University of San Francisco


Dr. Paul Slovic
Department of Psychology
University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon
Author, Psychic Numbing and Genocide


Dr. Michael Minch
Peace and Justice Studies
Utah Valley University
Orem, Utah
Co-author, Living Ethics

Dr. Armen T. Marsoobian
Professor and Chairperson
Department of Philosophy
Southern Connecticut University
New Haven, Connecticut

Dr. Christopher Powell
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
Ryerson University
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Dr. Elihu Richter, MD
Hebrew University
Hebrew University Medical School 
Jerusalem, Israel

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