Learning from Mistakes:
Learning from mistakes is what stops history from repeating itself. But as we still use the adage ‘history repeats itself’ clearly indicates that we as humans haven’t yet started using our great human potential of learning from mistakes so that the unwanted history doesn’t repeat itself anymore.
Human history though being a proud document of its scientific and technological development has also been a shameful document of its inhuman sociocultural misdeeds resulting in numerous episodes of massacre, genocide, ethnic cleansing and holocaust throughout the world in its different parts at different times.
The Dark Pages of The Human History:
All these differently named episodes have one thing in common in that they all have been the shameless mass killings in the names of religion, politics, race, lifestyles and nationalities.
Since very ancient times the human history of religious, political, racial and national expansion has been a history of ruthless violence done on the masses in the name of various fads that the rulers of the specific times and areas had in their minds.
There were no attempts at learning from mistakes as these atrocities kept getting repeated throughout the centuries we have been living a so-called civilized life on the planet.
Here is a sample list of the major and the cruelest ones:
- 350 AD: Ancient Chinese texts record that General Ran Min ordered the extermination of the Wu Hu, especially the Jie people, during the Wei–Jie war in the fourth century AD. People with racial characteristics such as high-bridged noses and bushy beards were killed; in total, 200,000 were reportedly massacred.
- 1250–1500 AD: From the 13th to the 16th centuries many European countries expelled the Jews from their territory on at least 15 occasions. Spain was preceded by England, France and some German states, among many others, and succeeded by at least five more expulsions.
- The nomadic Roma people have been expelled from European countries several times.
- From 1894–1896, in an effort to islamize the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Abdul Hamid II ordered the killing of ethnic Armenians (along with other Christian minorities) living in the Ottoman Empire, based on their religion. These killings later became known as the Hamidian massacres, named after Sultan Abdul Hamid II. It has been estimated that the total number of people killed ranges from 80,000 to 300,000.
- German Empire during First World War plans to annex up to 35,000 square kilometers of pre-war Congress Poland and ethnically cleanse between 2 and 3 million Poles and Jews out of these territories to make room for German settlers.
- The Bolshevik regime killed or deported an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Don Cossacks during the Russian Civil War, in 1919–1920. Geoffrey Hosking stated “It could be argued that the Red policy towards the Don Cossacks amounted to ethnic cleansing. It was short-lived, however, and soon abandoned because it did not fit with normal Leninist theory and practice”
- The Armenian Genocide took place during and after World War I and was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert. The total number of people killed as a result is most commonly reported to be 1.5 million.
- Second Sino-Japanese War, in which the Imperial Japanese Army invaded China in the 1930s. Millions of Chinese were killed, civilians and military personnel alike. The Three Alls Policy that was used by the Imperial Japanese Army resulted in the deaths of many of these Chinese. The Three Alls Policy was Kill all, Burn all, Seize all.
- The Holodomor (1932-1933) is considered by many historians as a genocidal famine perpetrated on the orders of Josef Stalin that involved widespread ethnic cleansing of ethnic Ukrainians in Soviet Ukraine. An estimated 2.5 to 8 million Ukrainians were exterminated in the famine.
- Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, The United States government forced the Japanese residing in the United States, including American Citizens, to be brought to an internment camp. Approximately 110,000 to 120,000 Japanese were relocated and incarcerated during World War II.
- The expulsion of 14 million ethnic Germans from the Former eastern territories of Germany after World War II. This policy was decided at the Potsdam Conference by the victorious powers.
- During the Partition of India 6 million Muslims fled ethnic violence taking place in India to settle in what became Pakistan and 5 million Hindus and Sikhs fled from what became Pakistan to settle in India.
- In 1948, approximately 700, 000 Palestinian refugees fled or were expelled during the Arab-Israeli war and were prevented from returning to their homes in present-day Israel.
- Shortly after Muammar Gaddafi gained power in Libya, the Libyan government forcibly expelled some 150,000 Italians living in the country on October 7, 1970, in retaliation for Italy’s 1911 colonization of the country. The expulsion is known in Libya as the “Day of Vengeance”.
- During the Bangladesh War of Independence of 1971, the military of Pakistan carried out genocide killing between 100,000 and 3 million people and around 10 million Bengalis, mainly Hindus, fled the country. Furthermore, many intellectuals and other religious minorities were targeted by death squads and razakars. Thousands of temples were desecrated and hundreds of women were raped.
- Idi Amin’s regime forced the expulsion in 1972 of Uganda’s entire ethnic Asian population, mostly of Indian descent.
- The Sino-Vietnamese War resulted in the discrimination and consequent migration of Vietnam’s ethnic Chinese. Many of these people fled as “boat people”. In 1978–79, some 250,000 ethnic Chinese left Vietnam by boat as refugees or were expelled across the land border with China.
- In the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination in 1984, the ruling party Indian National Congress supporters formed large mobs and killed around 3000 Sikhs around Delhi in what is known as the 1984 anti-Sikh riots during the next four days. The mobs acting with the support of ruling party leaders used the Election voting list to identify Sikhs and kill them.
- The 1994 massacre of nearly 1,000,000 Tutsis by Hutus, known as the Rwandan Genocide
- In Jammu and Kashmir, a separatist insurgency has targeted the Hindu Kashmiri Pandit minority and 400,000 have been displaced, and 1,200 have been killed since 1991. Islamic terrorists infiltrated the region in 1989 and began an ethnic cleansing campaign to convert Kashmir to a Muslim state. Since that time, over 400,000 Kashmiri Hindus have either been murdered or forced from their homes.
- Approximately 400,000 people have been displaced in the 2012 Assam ethnic violence between indigenous Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims in Assam, India.
That’s A Disappointing Scenario:
Going through such horrendous lists at times creates a doubt if learning from mistakes is really a human prerogative or our species is as barbarian as any other beast can be.
We still maintain armies, we are still war-ready, and we still have narrow national interests over and above a liberal all-encompassing worldview!
Is There Still Hope?
But luckily there have been quite a few positive developments in the human history that still make us keep our faith in human capacity of learning from mistakes and improving its ways to live on the planet intact.
Anyway, we are still keeping our fingers crossed hoping that learning from mistakes will ultimately hold good and teach us the proper way to live a good life on earth.
May so be!
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