“Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented”, said Elie Wiesel. The G-Word: A Podcast on Genocide seeks to disrupt that silence. It provides a platform to academics, practitioners and members of targeted communities to discuss genocide.
Amidst dwindling multilateralism, there has been little accountability over the past decade for the mass atrocities committed in South Sudan, Iraq, and Myanmar, to name a few – despite what could be termed as a global acceleration of genocidal violence. The COVID-19 pandemic threw an additional veil over these mass atrocities, ultimately boosting international apathy and silence, and therefore benefiting perpetrators.
But the issue is not going away: close to a million Rohingya still languish in Bangladesh’s refugee settlements of Cox’s Bazar district, and Myanmar has descended into civil war. In Iraq, since the Islamic State (IS) – also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – committed a genocide against the Yazidi in 2014, 2763 Yazidi women and children are still missing, which prevents the Yazidi community from rebuilding itself. ISIS remains a global threat, and is still very much active in Iraq, Syria, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, and has affiliates in Africa.
In South Sudan, the state, which orchestrates atrocities against communities it previously targeted in genocidal attacks, recently violated the last iteration of a largely unimplemented peace agreement. The prospects for accountability through a hybrid court are persistently distant. Genocide is of course not solely bound to these regions. It has been carried out and cloaked in other parts of the world. The G-Word also explores how indigenous groups – Native Nations – were targeted for genocide in the United States.
What exactly is genocide? Historian Dirk Moses in Episode 1 explains the politics behind the passing of the UN Convention on Genocide, and how states purposefully designed the narrowest legal definition of genocide possible to escape accountability for their own crimes and protect their sovereignty. An example of how that intention played out, is how Sudan was able to escape a declaration of genocide in Darfur.
The podcast also explores the processes that led to genocide in Iraq and South Sudan. Pari Ibrahim of the Free Yezidi Foundation and Natia Navrouzov of Yazda discuss the discriminations against Yazidi people before the genocide, and how neighbors – not just ISIS – committed this genocide. Former diplomats Elizabeth Shackelford and Nicholas Coghlan describe how they tried to alert their respective headquarters about the impeding atrocities in South Sudan, which they eventually witnessed during the Juba massacre of December 2013.
In this sense, The G-Word is not just a podcast: it is also an oral archive of these recent genocides. It delves into the long-term impacts of genocide too, when there is little to no acknowledgment and no accountability. In the United States, historian Jeffrey Ostler recounts the only recent historical reckoning with the genocide of indigenous people, and Angel Charley and Florida Olguin from the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women, detail how genocide still impacts Native Nations, including Native American women who are the most sexually assaulted women in the country.
Shilla Kim is a human rights layer.
Clémence Pinaud is an Associate Professor at Indiana University.
 “‘Anything That Was Breathing Was Killed’ War Crimes in Leer and Mayendit, South Sudan” (London: Amnesty International, 2018), 5, 10.
 A. Dirk Moses, The Problems of Genocide. Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2021), 470.