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Bosnian Genocide​

What?

The end of the Cold War and the decline of Communism greatly altered the international political scene – the reunification of Germany, the rapid democratization of Russia, and the velvet divorce of Czechoslovakia from Communist influence, among some of the changes. The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia  was one of the more liberal communist regimes, led by the enigmatic dictator Josip Broz Tito. Tito kept tight control over the various ethnic, religious, and nationalist groups under the umbrella of a ‘greater Yugoslavia.’ After Tito’s death, politicians began exploiting nationalist rhetoric, pitting the Serbs, Croats, and Bosniaks against each other and igniting the flame of nationalist fervor. The multi-ethnic republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina quickly became the site of the deadliest warfare and the target of an ‘ethnic cleansing.’ The genocide in Bosnia claimed the lives of an estimated 100,000 people.

Where?

Bosnia-Herzegovinia, and the other six nations that made up the former republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), is located in southeastern Europe (also known as the Balkans) along the coast of the Adriatic Sea between Italy and Romania. The population of Bosnia is about 3.8 million, with 48 percent Bosniaks (also known as Bosnian Muslims), 37 percent Serbs, and 14 percent Croats. Bosnia is slightly smaller than West Virginia, but with more than double the population.

When?

Background of Yugoslavia

The country of Yugoslavia, located in southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea, has a complex history and is a mosaic of peoples, languages, religions, and cultures.[1]  Yugoslavia comprised many different ethnic groups with varying religious and cultural backgrounds.  Tension between the groups existed in the past and continues to exist today.

The three major ethnic groups in Yugoslavia were the Serbs, Croats, and the Slovenes.  Although all three derived from Slavic backgrounds, there were many differences among them.  The Serbs, under Ottoman control, were of the Eastern Orthodox religion, spoke the Serbian language, and used the Cyrillic alphabet.  They held the biggest territory and were also the largest of the three.  The Croatians, under French and Austro-Hungarian control, were predominately Catholic and spoke the Croatian language.  They were the second largest population group and had the greatest amount of natural resources.  Finally, the Slovenians, under Austro-Hungarian control, were also Catholic and spoke the Slovenian language.[2]  

With the end of World War I and the fall of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, these three major ethnic groups joined together to form the first state that was the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in December of 1918.  There were many reasons for the three to unite and form a country of their own, including gaining human rights, enhancing protection from larger foreign empires and countries, and obtaining security and autonomy.[3]  Many believed that the only way for southern Slavs to regain lost freedom after centuries of occupation under the various empires would be to unite and create a state of their own to free themselves from tyrannies and dictatorships.

The country of Yugoslavia was formed in 1929.  During the first few years after the birth of the new country, national dissatisfaction grew between the three groups and many disliked the idea of a new state.  Much of the turmoil between the different cultural and religious backgrounds of the groups resulted in political separations. Croatians resented the idea of centralism,[4] the favored government of the king and of the Serbs.  The Croatians instead wanted a federalist state.[5]  Both Croatians and Slovenians resented Serbian domination in government and military affairs.[6]  Within the three ethnic groups, a variety of political parties formed and tensions kept rising.  Bosnia, located in southeastern Europe along the Balkan peninsula, with a population of about 3.8 million, was caught in the middle of this rising tension.  About half of the country of Bosnia is composed of Bosniaks (also known as Bosnian Muslims), thirty-seven percent are Serbs, and fourteen percent are Croatian.

During World War II, Josip Broz, known as “Tito,” successfully held the country together under a communist/socialist dictatorship.  Tito worked to ensure that no ethnic group dominated the federation and he successfully implemented a multi-ethnic peaceful co-existence.  Political mobilization along ethnic lines was banned and state authorities worked hard to defuse ethnic tensions and create an overarching Yugoslav identify.[7]

Not only did Tito work to diffuse ethnic differences among the people, but there was also great economic reform.  In 1945, the economy of Yugoslavia began to develop differently than its socialist counterparts by creating a unique form of decentralized market socialism based on workers self-management.  The original state-control of industry was localized and councils were created for respective industries.  Tito ensured that the regions kept trading with one another and “profits were distributed amongst the workers in each individual firm, and some functions of state control were relinquished and allocation became more relied on the basic mechanisms of the market to ensure self-management and proper distribution.”[8]  Although this economic model worked was viewed as a success, it was not intended to be a long-term solution.  In the late 1980s, Yugoslavia’s debts soared to unsustainable levels and eventually the economic bubble burst, spreading fear into all regions of Yugoslavia.

Much has been written about Tito and many praise him as one of the greatest political leaders of World War II because he was able to keep the country united.  Expert Richard West argues that Tito was an indispensable leader and that the country of Yugoslavia relied on him to maintain peace and stability within the country and to keep it from separation.  Without him, the “strings that tied the nation together were broken.”[9]

Civil War

After Tito’s death in 1980, the various groups lost their economic integration and many old tensions were reignited and disrupted the thirty-five year peace that existed under Tito’s reign.[10]  His death left a power vacuum and ambitious politicians such as Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia competed for power.  Slobodan Milosevic rose to power in 1987.  With his view of a “Greater Serbia,” Milosevic began a propaganda campaign that incited feelings of hatred among the people of Yugoslavia.  Both Tudjman and Milosevic realized sooner than most that rousing nationalist passions was an effective way to exploit the Yugoslav upheavals for their own power.[11]  Milosevic’s vision of an ethnically pure Serb-dominated state understandably scared the other six regions (Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Vojvodina) of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, causing them to question their future in the Republic.[12]

Talks of independence began to spread throughout the six republics, and Slovenia and Croatia were the first to declare independence.  Although Slovenia left Yugoslavia relatively peacefully, this was not the case for the other regions.  The tensions between the Croats, Serbs, and others were exposed and proved too great to be dealt with in peaceful terms.  War finally broke out.  Bosnia was the most ethnically heterogeneous of Yugoslavia’s republics, with 43 percent Muslims, 35 percent Orthodox Serbs, and 18 percent Catholic Croatians, and suffered the worst fate.[13]  The multi-ethnic republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina quickly became the site of the deadliest warfare and the target of ‘ethnic cleansing.’

How?

Like the Nazis’ “cleansing” Europe of its Jews, the Serbs’ aim was the “ethnic cleansing” of any Bosniak or Croat presence in Serbian territory.[14]  Human rights violations occurred in many different forms, including curfews, forced relocations, rape, castration, imprisonment in concentration camps, and killings.  Journalist Mark Danner describes the Serbs’ plan of attack in city after city was as follows:

             1. Concentration - urge Serb residents of the city to leave, while surrounding the town and bombarding it with artillery fire.

            2. Decapitation - execute the leaders and intelligentsia of the town.

            3. Separation - separate the women, children, and old men from the men of “fighting age.”

            4. Evacuation - move women, children, and old men to concentration camps or national   borders.

            5. Liquidation - execute the men of “fighting age.”[15]

The most famous example of this plan of attack was the massacre at Srebrenica, a Bosniak-dominated town under weak UN protection. In July of 1995, Serb General Ratko Mladic marched into Srebrenica, separated the women and children from the men, and murdered approximately 7,000 Bosniak men and boys. It was the single largest massacre in Europe since World War II.[16]  For those who were not killed in the initial massacre, many were sent to one of 381 concentration or detention camps in Bosnia.  Inhumane living conditions, beatings, torture, and mass executions were daily occurrences at these camps and claimed the lives of around 10,000 people over the course of the war. Women were often taken to rape camps where they were raped and tortured for weeks and months until they became pregnant. It is estimated that 20,000 rapes occurred between 1992 and 1995 in Bosnia.[17]

Response?

Reports of mass killings and rape had slowly came out of Bosnia, and once photos and videos of concentration camps like Omarska and Trnopolje were published by Western journalists, the reports captured the world’s attention.  According to author Samantha Power, “No other atrocity campaign in the twentieth century was better monitored and understood by the U.S. government than the Bosnian genocide.” However, despite the wealth of information and irrefutable evidence of genocide, the U.S. government under both Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton initially chose isolationist policies, citing the lack of U.S. interests at stake in the conflict.

In July of 1992, the first international press reports, photos, and videos of the conflict in Bosnia were published, eerily evoking memories and images of the horror of the Holocaust fifty years earlier.[18] Despite the public outrage created by these reports, the international community still refused to intervene. A year later, after Serbian forces had taken over several Bosniak-dominated cities, the UN established six safe areas that were to be protected by international peacekeepers.[19] However, with very few weapons and orders not to fire unless in self-defense, these peacekeepers were highly ineffective.

After the fall of Srebrenica, which had been designated as one of the UN safe areas, the Croatians and Bosniaks combined their forces to launch Operation Storm, an offensive campaign to push Serbian forces out of the Krajina region in the northwest corner of Bosnia. For the previous two years, Bosniak and Croat forces led separate efforts against the Serbs.[20] Yet by combining their forces, the Croatian-Bosniak offensive was able to push Serb forces, as well as 200,000 civilians, out of Krajina and into other Serb- dominated areas.[21] Although Operation Storm succeeded in pushing back Serbian forces, it also created one of the largest refugee populations in Europe.

The defeat of the Bosnian Serb forces led to the realization that a settlement in Bosnia and Herzegovina must be negotiated as soon as possible,leading to a peace agreement. This agreement, called the Dayton Accords, was signed in Dayton, Ohio on December 14, 1995. The Accords ended the conflict in Bosnia and stationed 60,000 NATO troops to keep the peace.  The initial purpose of the Dayton Accords was to act as a transitory document and to freeze military confrontation. However, there were various shortcomings. The agreement has been criticized for allowing international actors to shape the post-war transition, without input form the Bosnian people and government.[22]  It also left the region politically unstable and fractious since its implementation in 1995.

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

The Yugoslav War is often referred to as the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II.  According to the International Center for Transitional Justice, from1991-1999, about 140,000 people lost their lives and about 4 million were displaced as political refugees.[23]  In response to this conflict, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was formed.

The ICTY is a United Nations court that was established by Resolution 827 of the United Nations Security Council in May 1993.  It is the first war crimes court ever created by the United Nations and the first international war crimes tribunal since the tribunal held in Nuremberg, in 1946 after World War II. [24]   The ICTY was set up to prosecute serious crimes committed during the war in the former Yugoslavia and to try its chief organizers, planners, and perpetrators.  The Court’s indictments address crimes committed from 1991 to 2001 against members of various ethnic groups in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  The proceedings at the ICTY prosecute people on two levels: (1) individual acts; and (2) in a position of authority for acts to be carried out.[25]

The Tribunal has indicted 161 individuals for crimes committed against thousands of victims during the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.  It has concluded proceedings for 136 individuals, with 25 proceedings ongoing.  While most of cases are against Serbs or Bosnian Serbs, charges have also been brought against defendants of other ethnic groups, including Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and Kosovo Albanians for crimes committed against Serbs.[26]

The Yugoslav tribunal is a hybrid court; it combines elements of the Anglo-American common-law adversarial system and the European civil law system.  In our common-law system, factual determinations are driven by lawyers, with a judge perceived as an impartial figure of authority.  The rules of evidence assume that most cases will be submitted to juries, whose members must be shielded from evidence that might lead them to erroneous conclusions.  In the civil-law system, factual determinations are driven by the judge, who decides which witnesses to hear after all the evidence has been submitted in a dossier.  Little evidence is presented in court because, as a professional, the judge is trusted to sort out the relevant evidence and give it the appropriate weight.

One of the most noteable features of the adversarial system in the hybrid court is the cross-examination of witnesses.  The civil-law approach is noted for the judge’s determination to resolve all ambiguities.  The guilt of the accused must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  Evidence brought to the tribunal is treated in terms of weight rather than admissibility.  Very little evidence is excluded, but a lawyer must anticipate how to persuade the judges to give evidence the weight he or she thinks appropriate.

The Yugoslavia tribunal combines facets of both systems, as the judges and lawyers who populate the court come from both common-law and civil-law traditions in almost equal proportions.  The sixteen permanent judges are elected by the United Nations General Assembly and most are professional judges who rose to the highest ranks of judicial office in their home countries, with an occasional academic or diplomat included.

Implications for Justice and Impunity

The International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has contributed to justice in many ways and set precedents for international law.  One of the most important ways the ICTY has contributed to the broader issues of impunity and transitional justice was by holding the political leaders of Yugoslavia accountable.

Transitional justice refers to the set of judicial and non-judicial measures that have been implemented by different countries to redress the legacies of massive human rights abuses. These measures include criminal prosecutions, truth commissions, reparations programs, and various kinds of institutional reforms.[27]  The elements of a comprehensive transitional justice policy are:

  • Criminal prosecutions, particularly those that address perpetrators considered to be the most responsible.
  • Reparations, through which governments recognize and take steps to address the harms suffered. Such initiatives often have material elements (such as cash payments or health services) as well as symbolic aspects (such as public apologies or day of remembrance).
  • Institutional reform of abusive state institutions such as armed forces, police and courts, to dismantle—by appropriate means—the structural machinery of abuses and prevent recurrence of serious human rights abuses and impunity.
  • Truth commissions or other means to investigate and report on systematic patterns of abuse, recommend changes, and help understand the underlying causes of serious human rights violations.

The Tribunal has laid the foundations for what is now the accepted norm for conflict resolution and post-conflict development across the globe, specifically that leaders suspected of mass crimes will face justice. Also, by holding leaders accountable, the Tribunal has dismantled the tradition of impunity for war crimes.  The Tribunal indicted individuals at all government levels, including heads of state, prime ministers, army chiefs of staff, and government ministers from various parties of Yugoslavia.[28]  As these individuals are brought to justice, the country, its citizens, its victims, and its diaspora can at last have finality and move on with their lives.

Not only does the ICTY convict prominent individuals who have committed heinous crimes, but it also provided the victims, and especially hundreds of Yugoslav women who have been raped, an opportunity to voice the horrors they witnessed and experienced.  The Tribunal has allowed them to be heard and to speak about what had happened to them and their families.  A final achievement of the ICTY is that the Tribunal has helped in creating an accurate historical record of the war.  It has contributed in establishing the facts of the events, which has also help to bring closure to the victims.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has also been very important in developing the field of international law, as it has proved that efficient and transparent international justice is possible.[29]  Some of the success of the Tribunal has inspired and motivated the creation of other international criminal courts such as the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone.[30]  National courts set up in Kosovo, East Timor and Lebanon to deal with war crimes have also borrowed heavily from the Yugoslav tribunal. The ICTY has been a great model for the implementation of mechanisms such as giving due process to the accused and court’s ability to promote peace in the areas affected by conflict for other nations and other Tribunals to follow.[31]  Although the Court has done much to bring about peace and develop international law, many victims voices and claims have not been met.

 

World Without Genocide, March 2014. By Sandro Krkljes, World Without Genocide Associate, William Mitchell College of Law.

[1] “History of Yugoslavia.” History of Kosovo and Metohija. Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizre,http://www.kosovo.net/serhist2.html (accessed 15 Mar. 2014).

[2] Alex N. Dragnich, The First Yugoslavia. New ed. Ser. 1. Stanford: Hoover Institution, 1983. 4.

[3] Dragnich, The First Yugoslavia. 6.

[4] Concentration of power and authority in a central organization, as in a political system.

[5] A system of government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces). Federalism is a system based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between national and provincial/state governments, creating what is often called a federation.

[6] “History of Yugoslavia.” History of Kosovo and Metohija. Serbian Orthodox Diocese of Raska and Prizre,http://www.kosovo.net/serhist.html (accessed 15 Mar. 2014).

[7] Adam Jones, Genocide:  A Comprehensive Introduction, (New York:  Routledge, 2011), 318.

[8] Frei, L. The American Review of Soviet and Eastern European Foreign Trade , Vol. 1, No. 5 (Sep. – Oct., 1965), pp. 44-62

[9] Richard West, Tito: And the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia. (Carroll & Graf Inc, 1996).

[10] Jon C. Hopwood, “Biography for Josip Broz Tito.” <http://ww.imdb.com/name/nm0864482/bio>. (accessed 19 March 2014).

[11] Jones, Genocide, 318.

[12] Adam Jones. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction (New York City: Routledge, 2006)

[13] Samantha Power, A problem from hell:  America and the Age of Genocide (New York:  Harper Perennial, 2002), 247.

[14] Samantha Power, “A Problem From Hell:” America and the Age of Genocide.

[15] Adam Jones. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction

[16] Samantha Power, “A Problem From Hell:” America and the Age of Genocide.

[17] Ayesha Umar. “From Bosnian Rape Camps to the US Court: The Story of Kadic v. Karadzic.” 2011.

[18] Ayesha Umar. “From Bosnian Rape Camps to the US Court: The Story of Kadic v. Karadzic.”

[19] Adam Jones. Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction.

[20] Adam Jones.

[21] Adam Jones.

[22] David Chandler, “From Dayton to Europe”, International Peacekeeping 12, No.3, 2005, pp. 336

[23] “Transitional Justice in the Former Yugoslavia.” International Center for Transitional Justice. 1 January 2009. http://ictj.org/sites/files/ICTJ-FormerYugoslavia-Justice-Facts-2009. (accessed 27 March 2014).

[24] “About the ICTY.” United Nations: International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (UNICTY), http://www.icty.org/sections/AbouttheICTY (accessed 13 April 2014).

[25] “About the ICTY.” United Nations: International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (UNICTY).

[26] Rick Gladstone, Denouncing Serbian Tilt, U.S. Boycotts U.N. Meeting (New York Times, April 10, 2013).

[27] http://ictj.org/about/transitional-justice

[28]“Achievements,” ICTY – TPIY.

[29] “About the ICTY,” ICTY – TPIY, N.p., n.d.. http://www.icty.org/sections/AbouttheICTY (accessed 16 Apr. 2014).

[31] “ICTY Judge discusses challenges of international criminal court, tribunals,”

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In March 2012, Tel-Aviv based graphic designer Ronny Edry uploaded an unconventional Facebook photo. The picture showed a smiling Edry holding his young daughter, with the caption “Iranians, we will never bomb your country. We love you.” The photo struck a chord on Israeli and Iranian social media, and thousands of citizens in both countries quickly followed Edry's example. One Iranian Facebook user posted a picture in response that proclaimed: “Dear Israeli Friends and World! Iranians love peace and we hate hate! And we don't need any Nuclear Power to show it!”
In Canada, freedom of religion is strongly protected at the national, provincial, and local levels. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the country's constitution, forbids discrimination by the state on religious grounds and guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of conscience and religion. The various provincial human rights codes go further and require employers, service providers and other private individuals to provide reasonable accommodation to all, regardless of religious belief.
In 2012, online hate speech from Burma’s Facebook users exploded as some from the country's majority Buddhist population accused minority Muslims of a plot to dominate the country. With online vitriol stoking real-world conflicts, the Panzagar movement arose to combat the trend. Panzagar translates to "flower speech" in English, and the movement intervened through designing a series of “flower speech” Facebook stickers to post under offensive material. The stickers are cheerful and cartoonish, and seek to defuse heated arguments through lighthearted reminders to practice respect and tolerance.
Although Hindi is India’s most widely spoken language, over 780 languages exist throughout the subcontinent. However, 220 have disappeared over the last 50 years, as their last speakers pass away and young children do not learn them. With English and Hindi often associated with education and development, incentives to preserve less-common languages are low, and their worlds and cultures are vanishing. In reaction to this trend, a movement to preserve the country's linguistic heritage has emerged throughout India, with activists using online talking dictionaries, YouTube videos and social media to save these languages from extinction.
Despite his sharp criticism of organized religion, Voltaire, one of the Enlightenment's greatest thinkers, resolutely defended religious tolerance. The most famous example of this defense was sparked by a tragedy. In October 1761, Marc-Antoine Calas, a young man from a Protestant family living in Catholic France, was found dead in his father’s shop in Toulouse, most likely by suicide. Public opinion quickly settled on his father, Jean, as the prime suspect – it was supposed that he had killed Marc-Antoine to prevent him from converting to Catholicism. Jean was repeatedly and inhumanely tortured and eventually executed. Outraged by the blatant injustice of the case, Voltaire succeeded in securing Jean a posthumous pardon, and went on to write his famous treatise on religious tolerance.

 If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.

- John F. Kennedy (1917-1961), 35th President of the United States, Commencement Address at American University, June 10, 1963

 Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others.

- John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), 35th President of the United States, October 10, 1960

 If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

- John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, political economist and civil servant, On Liberty, 1859

 Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Loving Your Enemies, 1957

 Human nature is not simple and any classification that roughly divides men into good and bad, superior and inferior, slave and free, is and must be ludicrously untrue and universally dangerous as a permanent exhaustive classification.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Evolution of the Race Problem, 1909

 Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live in somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me unless there is peace and joy finally for you too.

- Frederick Buechner (1926-present), American writer and theologian

 Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement

 Even God doesn't propose to judge a man till his last days, why should you and I?

- Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), American self-help author and lecturer

 There is only one good, knowledge, and one evil, ignorance.

- Socrates (469 BC-399 BC), Greek philosopher

 We all live with the objective of being happy, our lives are all different and yet the same.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated July, 6, 1944

 Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.

- Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), American lawyer, May 8, 1888

 Christian, Jew, Muslim, shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.

- Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic

 All of us have this commandment at heart: do good and do not do evil. All of us.... this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God.... And that, simply, is blasphemy.

- Pope Francis (1936-present), May 22, 2013

 How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, March 26, 1944

 While differing widely in the various little bits we know, in our infinite ignorance we are all equal.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 1963

 I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.

- Socrates (469 BC-399 BC), Greek philosopher

 I was heartened that people everywhere want certain basic freedoms, even if they live in a totally different cultural environment.

- Aung San Suu Kyi (1945-present), Nobel Peace Prize laureate and leader of the National League for Democracy in Burma, 2012

 We recall our terrible past so that we can deal with it, to forgive where forgiveness is necessary, without forgetting; to ensure that never again will such inhumanity tear us apart; and to move ourselves to eradicate a legacy that lurks dangerously as a threat to our democracy.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, February 25, 1999

 At every level of society, familial, tribal, national and international, the key to a happier and more peaceful and successful world is the growth of compassion.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), The Compassionate Life, 2001

 Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.

- John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher, Second Treatise of Government, 1689

 I believe in God who made of one blood all races that dwell on earth. I believe that all men, black and brown and white, are brothers, varying through Time and Opportunity, in form and gift and feature, but differing in no essential particular, and alike in soul and in the possibility of infinite development.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil, 1920

 To build a future you have to know the past.

- Otto Frank (1889-1980), Holocaust survivor who was a German-born businessman and father of Anne and Margot Frank, 1967

 The golden rule of conduct... is mutual toleration, seeing that we will never all think alike and we shall always see Truth in fragment and from different angles of vision. Even amongst the most conscientious persons, there will be room enough for honest differences of opinion. The only possible rule of conduct in any civilised society is, therefore, mutual toleration.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), leader of Indian independence movement, 1927

 All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present)

 I have striven not to laugh at human actions, not to weep at them, nor to hate them, but to understand them.

- Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

 I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through not only educating our minds, but our hearts and our souls.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, September 3, 2013

 God's dream is that you and I and all of us will realize that we are family, that we are made for togetherness, for goodness, and for compassion.

- Desmond Tutu (1931-present), South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, April 26, 2005

 It is hardly possible to overrate the value, for the improvement of human beings, of things which bring them into contact with persons dissimilar to themselves and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar... It is indispensable to be perpetually comparing [one's] own notions and customs with the experience and example of persons in different circumstances.

- John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), British philosopher, political economist and civil servant, Principles of Political Economy, 1848

 I believe we are here on the planet Earth to live, grow up and do what we can to make this world a better place for all people to enjoy freedom.

- Rosa Parks (1913-2005), African-American civil rights activist

 We all know we are unique individuals, but we tend to see others as representatives of groups.

- Deborah Tannen (1945-present), linguist and author, You Just Don't Understand, 1990

 I think... if it is true that there are as many minds as there are heads, then there are as many kinds of love as there are hearts.

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher, Anna Karenina, 1877

 I have no animosity towards anyone. Whoever displays human dignity, regardless of their religion or faith, I bow my head before them and hold them dear.

- Masoumi Tehrani, senior Iranian cleric

 I respect Muslims, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Bahá’ís, etc., even non-believers who believe in the principles of humanity. I love them dearly and kiss the hands of each and every one of them.

- Masoumi Tehrani, senior Iranian cleric

 He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Dissertation on First Principles of Government, July 1795

 And if we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, July 12, 2013

 I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any. I refuse to live in other people’s houses as an interloper, a beggar or a slave.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement, 1927

 I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated July 15, 1944

 No rational argument will have a rational effect on a man who does not want to adopt a rational attitude.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. The striving to free oneself from this delusion is the one issue of true religion. Not to nourish it but to try to overcome it is the way to reach the attainable measure of peace of mind.

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist, 1950

 We must plan for freedom, and not only for security, if for no other reason than only freedom can make security more secure.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion.

- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Author of the Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, 1786

 Compassion is not religious business, it is human business. It is not a luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935 - present), spiritual leader of Tibet

 I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, I am Prepared to Die, Statement in the Rivonia Trial, Pretoria Supreme Court, April 20, 1964

 Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.

- Heinrich Heine (1797-1856), German poet, journalist, essayist, and literary critic, Almansor, 1821

 I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance. That is my religion.... My belief in my religion is strong and I know that lies will always fail and indecency and intolerance will always perish.

- Stephen Fry (1957-present), English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist, 1993

 If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 I don't believe in charity. I believe in solidarity. Charity is vertical, so it's humiliating. It goes from the top to the bottom. Solidarity is horizontal. It respects the other and learns from the other. I have a lot to learn from other people.

- Eduardo Galeano (1940-present), Uruguyan journalist, writer, and novelist, 2004

 It is the enemy who can truly teach us to practice the virtues of compassion and tolerance.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), Ocean of Wisdom: Guidelines for Living, 1989

 The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?

- Pablo Casals (1876-1973), Spanish cellist, 1974

 Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort to understand another’s beliefs, practices, and habits without necessarily sharing or accepting them.

- Joshua Loth Liebman (1907-1948), American rabbi and best-selling author, Peace of Mind: Insights on Human Nature That Can Change Your Life, 1946

 The open society is one in which men have learned to be to some extent critical of taboos, and to base decisions on the authority of their own intelligence.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

- Martin Niemöller (1892-1984), German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor, January 6, 1946

 I knew that to really minister to Rwanda's needs meant working toward reconciliation in the prisons, in the churches, and in the cities and villages throughout the country. It meant feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, caring for the young, but it also meant healing the wounded and forgiving the unforgivable.

- John Rucyahana (1945-present), former Rwandan Anglican bishop, The Bishop of Rwanda: Finding Forgiveness Amidst a Pile of Bones, 2007

 The time must come when, great and pressing as change and betterment may be, they do not involve killing and hurting people.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Dark Princess, 1928

 Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944

 The test of faith is whether I can make space for difference. Can I recognize God's image in someone who is not in my image, whose language, faith, ideal, are different from mine? If I cannot, then I have made God in my image instead of allowing him to remake me in his.

- Jonathan Sacks (1948 - present), rabbi, philosopher and scholar of Judaism, The Dignity of Difference, 2002

 Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude.

- William James (1842-1910), American philosopher and psychologist

 Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty, there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population.

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-born theoretical physicist, 1940

 There's in people simply an urge to destroy, an urge to kill, to murder and rage, and until all mankind, without exception, undergoes a great change, wars will be waged, everything that has been built up, cultivated, and grown will be destroyed and disfigured, after which mankind will have to begin all over again.

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated May 3, 1944

 WHAT is tolerance? it is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly--that is the first law of nature.

- Voltaire (1694-1778), French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, 1764

 Each person must live their life as a model for others.

- Rosa Parks (1913-2005), African-American civil rights activist

 Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.

- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, December 16, 1966

 If we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, Strength to Love, 1963

 Freedom of judgment must necessarily be permitted and people must be governed in such a way that they can live in harmony, even though they openly hold different and contradictory opinions.

- Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Dutch philosopher, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, 1670

 [W]e are all guilty in some Measure of the same narrow way of Thinking... when we fancy the Customs, Dresses, and Manners of other Countries are ridiculous and extravagant, if they do not resemble those of our own.

- Joseph Addison (1672-1719), English essayist, poet, playwright, and politician, 1711

 Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, 1995

 Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.

- Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), African-American abolitionist and U.S. minister to Haiti from 1889 to 1891, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 1886

 It is my inmost conviction, Badshah Khan said, that Islam is amal, yakeen, muhabat – selfless service, faith, and love.

- Badshah Khan (1890-1988), Pashtun independence activist

 It is thus tolerance that is the source of peace, and intolerance that is the source of disorder and squabbling.

- Pierre Bayle (1647-1706), French philosopher, 1686

 Tolerance implies a respect for another person, not because he is wrong or even because he is right, but because he is human.

- John Cogley (1916-1976), author of Religion in a Secular Age, 1968

 Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

- Mahatma Gandhi (1969-1948), leader of Indian independence movement

 I can imagine nothing more terrifying than an Eternity filled with men who were all the same. The only thing which has made life bearable…has been the diversity of creatures on the surface of the globe.

- T. H. White (1906-1964), English author

 If our goal is to be tolerant of people who are different than we are, then we really are aiming quite low. Traffic jams are to be tolerated. People are to be celebrated.

- Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed, April 2, 2013

 [Most] can seldom discern even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as obliges them to admit the falsity of conclusions they have formed, perhaps with much difficulty — conclusions of which they are proud, which they have taught to others, and on which they have built their lives.

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher

 I like the religion that teaches liberty, equality and fraternity.

- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer

 We call upon all communities to be tolerant, to reject prejudice based on caste, creed, sect, colour, religion or agenda to ensure freedom and equality for women so they can flourish. We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, July 12, 2013

 Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance — these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible.

- Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997), Russo-British Jewish social and political theorist, philosopher and historian, Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, Foreign Affairs, 1950

 It is a worthy thing to fight for one's freedom; it is another sight finer to fight for another man's.

- Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author and humorist, June 17, 1898

 Many of our problems are created by ourselves based on divisions due to ideology, religion, race, resources, economic status or other factors. The time has come to think on a deeper, more human level and appreciate and respect our sameness as human beings.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), The Compassionate Life, 2001

 Where in this wide world can a person find nobility without pride, friendship without envy or beauty without vanity? Here, where grace is laced with muscle and strength by gentleness confined. He serves without servility, he has fought without enmity. There is nothing so powerful, nothing less violent; there is nothing so quick, nothing more patient.

- Ronald Duncan (1914-1982)

 The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. Our political life is also predicated on openness. We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress.

- Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967), American theoretical physicist

 We need a little more compassion, and if we cannot have it then no politician or even a magician can save the planet.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present)

 I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

- Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968), American Baptist minister and leader of the American Civil Rights Movement, "I Have a Dream", August 28, 1963

 To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, June 27, 1990

 A person is a person because he recognizes others as persons.

- Desmund Tutu (1931-present), South African social rights activist and retired Anglican bishop, September 7, 1986

 We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

- Karl Popper (1902-1994), Austrian-British philosopher, The Open Society and its Enemies, 1945

 My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, The Rights of Man, 1791

 Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa

 How many paths are there to God? There are as many paths to God as there are souls on the Earth.

- Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic

 The cost of liberty is less than the price of repression.

- W.E.B Dubois (1868-1963), African American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, John Brown, 1909

 No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies another this right makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.

- Thomas Paine (1737-1809), English-American political activist, philosopher, and revolutionary, Age of Reason, 1794

 Is discord going to show itself while we are still fighting, is the Jew once again worth less than another? Oh, it is sad, very sad, that once more, for the umpteenth time, the old truth is confirmed: "What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does is thrown back at all Jews."

- Anne Frank (1929-1945), author of The Diary of a Young Girl, 1942-1944, entry dated as May 22, 1944

 There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself

- Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910), Russian novelist, playwright, and philosopher, 1900

 From the saintly and single-minded idealist to the fanatic is often but a step.

- Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992), economist and philosopher, 1944

 Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.

- Maya Angelou (1928-2014), American poet and author

 You may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.

- William Wilberforce (1759-1833), English abolitionist, 1791

 You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.

- Malala Yousafzai (1997-present), Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Prize laureate, October 10, 2013

 More dangerous than bayonets and cannon are the weapons of the mind.

- Ludwig Van Mises (1881-1973), leader of the Austrian School of economic thought, Liberalism, 1927

 The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous.

- Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), African-American abolitionist and U.S. minister to Haiti from 1889 to 1891, Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C., April 1885

 For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president of South Africa,Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1995

 Religion must mainly be a matter of principles only. It cannot be a matter of rules. The moment it degenerates into rules, it ceases to be a religion, as it kills responsibility which is an essence of the true religious act.

- Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar (1891-1956), Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer

 I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.

- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Author of the Declaration of Independence and Third President of the United States,Letter to Archibald Stuart, Philadelphia, December 23, 1791

 Tolerance and patience should not be read as signs of weakness. They are signs of strength.

- 14th Dalai Lama (1935-present), spiritual leader of Tibet, September 21, 2012

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About Tavaana

Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society is Iran’s pioneer e-learning institute. Tavaana – meaning ‘empowered’ and ‘capable’ in Persian – was launched on May 17, 2010 with a mission to support active citizenship and civic leadership in Iran through a multi-platform civic education and civil society capacity building program. Tavaana holds a vision for a free and open Iranian society, one in which each and every Iranian enjoys equality, justice and the full spectrum of civil and political liberties.

About The Tolerance Project

The Tolerance Project aims to inspire conscience, pluralism, religious freedom, and celebration of difference. Using an array of educational materials in Arabic, Persian, and English, The Tolerance Project emphasizes the capacity of each and every individual to counter hate, and imparts the benefits of living in tolerant, open societies. The Tolerance Project educates to prevent persecution and genocide, cultivating the basis for vibrant and stable societies in the broader Middle East.

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