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Letter of the day: Parade of human tragedy

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Re: Lost in memory hole (Letters, Dec. 30). I'm getting tired of the squabble over permanent displays at the human rights museum. History is littered with unremembered human tragedies. A random list:

-- The Irish lost 20 million people -- dead and emigrated -- to one of their many famines helped along by the English.

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-- In less than 200 years the population of Mexico went from 20 million to one million after the Spanish arrival.

-- Serbia lost 15 per cent of its population during the First World War through battles and subsequent deprivation to the population.

-- In the same war, France, England and Germany lost two per cent of their populations over four years, all young men.

-- The Russians lost at least 20 million during the Second World War.

-- In tiny Rwanda one million people were hacked to death in weeks in 1994.

-- From the 16th to 19th centuries, the native Caribbean population was eliminated altogether and replaced by slaves from Africa.

-- In the early 1900s, millions were worked to death or killed in the Congo for rubber.

Humans have been killing and torturing each other with increasing effectiveness for thousands of years. Most of that suffering has gone down the "Orwellian memory hole." A human rights museum cannot contain it all.

The Nazi Holocaust was unique for the production-line way it set about to eliminate a race. The genocide of the North American aboriginal population is a Canadian story. Having them as a permanent display seems fitting.

As for the rest, non-permanent displays also seem like a fitting way to tell the stories of suffering, no matter how big or small -- if they are remembered at all.

 

IAN TOAL

Winnipeg

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 6, 2011 A11

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