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Genocide: A Day To Stand Against Denial, And Be Aware Of How Its Seeds Are Planted



Genocide comes in many forms. From the calculated attacks on Bosnian Muslims and Croats two decades ago, to calls for rounding up gays and lesbians today, it’s important to remember the past to prevent it from repeating.

Many in the LGBT community, which this blog focuses on everyday, have witnessed an increasing level of hate speech and attacks on our community that seems to be escalating. An illustrative example, was a southern minister, while preaching to his congregation, called for rounding up and detaining gays and lesbians in a pen and suggested dropping food into the pen to feed them– is such an overt act of hatred–there are no words to describe. But this is how genocide begins, as societies break down and politicians refuse to protect or worse yet, become perpetrators of violence and hatred themselves.

This is why we must stand in solidarity with others, as they come under attack. As a member of humanity, we must extend ourselves, and by doing so, we lift all of humanity up with dignity and decency.

Twenty years ago yesterday, the Bosnian Serb authorities in Prijedor, a town in north western Bosnia and Herzegovina, issued a decree for all non-Serbs to mark their houses with white flags or sheets and to wear a white armband if they were to leave their houses. This was the first day of a campaign of extermination that resulted in executions, concentration camps, mass rapes and the ultimate removal of more than 94 percent of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats from the territory of the Prijedor municipality.

This was the first time since the 1939 Nazi decree for Polish Jews to wear white armbands with the blue Star of David that members of an ethnic or religious group were to be marked for extermination in this way.

Prijedor became a notorious location for some of the most brutal acts of torture, enslavement and rape that occurred during the Bosnian War.

The crimes of the Omarska concentration camp  in Prijedor are well known to the world–first reported by then Newsday European correspondent Roy Gutman, who earned the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for his stories on the Bosnian war.  The prisoners were beaten, starved, tortured and many died in captivity, while a rape camp of women was included within Omarska. Jadranka Cigelj and Nusreta Sivac, survivors of the rape camp went on to document hundreds of rapes of women, submitted the witness statements to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Hague that led to prosecutions of rape as a war crime.  It is believed that 20,000 to 50,ooo women were raped during the Bosnian war.

In honoring the loss of that terrible day of reckoning, Refik Hodzic, the communications director at the International Center for Transitional Justice, based in New York City, organized a day to Stop Genocide Denial after several friends from Prijedor, Hodzic’s home town, came together to organize a memorial service to those who died at Omarska during the war. But they had one little problem–they had to speak to Mayor Marko Pavic, a Bosnian Serb and a notorious genocide denier who said in 2009 that “Muslims are lying and accusing without proof” for crimes in Omarska and that those who “smear Prijedor’s name should not be looking for employment here.”

Despite their well founded fears, they approached Pavic to discuss the possibility of holding a commemoration on the 20th anniversary of Prijedor’s ethnic cleansing. Not surprisingly, Pavic told them  that as long as he was mayor, under no uncertain terms would he permit a “genocide” commemoration to those who died. Hodzic told me that after the meeting with Pavic, his friends became very, very frightened and given the history of such terrible events there, I could completely understand why people would be afraid. So what to do?

Hodzic called up his friend Azra Selak, a resident of Denver, Colorado and a beautifully talented Sevdah singer, also from Prijedor, along with his brother Emir Hodzic (who designed the website).  Together, they strategized and came up with the plan of a global campaign, declaring May 31st a “World Wide White Armband Day” to protect their family and friends who remain in Prijedor and bring attention to the continued lies about what happened during the war.

With the assistance of the Youth Initiatives in Human Rights organization in Sarajevo, and other civil society leaders throughout the region, like the Belgrade based Women in Black, the Hozic brothers and Azra, launched the campaign on multiple platforms using the web, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. People were urged to  join thee campaign by wearing a white arm band or hanging a white sheet in their window.

Azra composed a song of tribute to her Prijedor home–a traditional Bosnian song, delivered it the style known as “Sevdah,” which is considered an expression of the soul. Azra says, “Sevdah is what carries us, people from the former Yugoslavia–immigrants, refugees, former soldiers of many armies, former prisoners of war, prisoners of our memories…there is a sense of not belonging and of permanent and unspeakable loss…”  This song and its moving music will take you to a different place of existence.

Throughout the day, with participants  from 69 countries generating more than 30,000 hits on the campaign’s Facebook page alone, thousands of people took self portraits or groups shots and sent them to Refik, who posted and tweeted them throughout the day. Many of these photographs, posted on the campaign’s Facebook page are so moving, that they brought me to tears. The humanity, solidarity and the dignity expressed  in these photographs, many in black and white, reflect a palpable and unprecedented hope–something I have not seen or witnessed in the 20 years I have had the honor to work on the consequences of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the broader region of the former Yugoslavia. The day ended in the United States from Chicago where the Bosnian national soccer team played Mexico that witnessed the unfurling of a banner that read “Stop Genocide Denial in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

According to Refik, photographs are still coming in from all over the world. A few I would like to share:


Ivana, D.C.


Women in Black, Belgrade

Admira, city unknown



History is replete with terrible pogroms, the casting out of “others.” We are all too familiar with hatred and being cast out from our families of origin, fired from our jobs, refused housing–this happens to many of us in the LGBT community. So as a human being, I can not help but be moved by the fate of the Bosnian Muslims and Croats and in some cases Serbs too, but  join in solidarity with them they take up this courageous fight to shed light on the genocide deniers in their communities, beginning in Prijedor. These are the children of war, who may remember the war or not, but know why they no longer live in Bosnia–or for those who remain, must daily confront  the consequences of war.

But most importantly, these young people are the future of hope, their actions of taking a stand to stop genocide denial creates an opening  that embraces possibility and  the return of optimism by revealing the ugly truth. May it be so.

It is important that we stand with them because as Martin Niemoller once wrote:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

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


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Images of the map of Bosnia and Herzegovina, courtesy of the CIA Factbook.  Images of the individuals and the Bosnia-Mexico soccer match were provided by the Stop Genocide Denial Campaign. The Niemoller poem is courtesy of Wikipedia.


Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University who teaches about human rights in East Central Europe and the former Yugoslavia.  She is a Harriman Institute affiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi was a nationally recognized LGBT civil rights activist who worked for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force during the campaign to lift the military ban in the early 1990s. Domi also worked internationally in a dozen countries for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.  She is currently writing a book about the emerging LGBT human rights movement in the Western Balkans.

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‘They’re Coming After Our Children’: Watch Casey DeSantis’ Dystopian Fear-Mongering Ad



The imagery is dark. The words are defiant. The message is dystopian. An ad for Republican Governor Ron DeSantis‘s presidential campaign, currently “in turmoil,” features the First Lady of Florida, Casey DeSantis, issuing a warning: “They’re coming after our children.”

The ad never quite says who is coming after the kids, but the video (below) includes clips of President Joe Biden and former Dr. Anthony Fauci, the face of the war on COVID and the now-retired Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

While it was first released over the summer, it received little attention. Casey DeSantis on Friday reposted her “Mamas for DeSantis” ad. It comes in the wake of the alleged ménage à trois sex scandal involving an unnamed woman who has accused Christian Ziegler, the head of the Florida Republican Party of rape. His wife, Moms for Liberty co-founder Bridget Ziegler, who reportedly confirmed the consensual three-way sexual relationship, is Casey DeSantis’ “best friend,” according to Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch.

“In America, we’ve witnessed a lot and put up with enough,” Casey DeSantis says in a voiceover at the start of the two-and-a-half minute video.

“We’ve been forced into silence,” she charges, amid a baby crying and a COVID mask being put over a child’s face. “Into compliance.”

“Told that we must ‘trust the science,'” DeSantis continues, in a direct attack on Dr. Fauci, showing him speaking during the height of COVID in the Trump administration.

READ MORE: ‘Significant and Imminent Threat’: Trump Gag Order Largely Upheld by Appeals Court

And in an attack on LGBTQ children and adults, she says: “We’ve been told that we must deny truth. Back down. And look the other way.”

“Enough is enough. When you come after our kids, we fight back. Because there’s nothing we won’t do to protect our children,” she says.

Seconds later, the video shows President Joe Biden declaring, “Our nation’s children are all our children.”

“We will not allow you to exploit their innocence to advance your agenda. We are no longer silent,” Casey DeSantis declares. “We are united. We have finally found our fighter.”

Casey DeSantis praises her husband, saying he will do for America what he did for Florida: “Schools: opened. Parents’ rights: defended. School choice: universal. Critical race theory: prohibited. DEI: stopped. Child mutilation: illegal. Girls’ sports: saved. Communities: protected. Our economy: growing. And freedom: guaranteed.”

READ MORE: ‘Dystopian’: Potential Trump Cabinet Picks Send ‘5-Alarm’ Shock Waves of Terror

In the section where President Biden says, “Our nation’s children are all our children,” Casey DeSantis doesn’t explain that those words came from a White House celebration honoring Teachers of The Year from across the country. The President was praising an Oklahoma Teacher of the Year whose district includes students who speak 62 different languages, so she had to work hard to ensure everyone felt included. She had said, “There’s no such thing as someone else’s child.”

Nor did DeSantis acknowledge that Governor DeSantis’ performance for children has been poor.

The Florida Policy Institute, which says it is “an independent, non-partisan, and non-profit organization,” in September warned “368,728 youth aged 20 and younger” have been cut from Medicaid. “Because Florida has not expanded Medicaid, the vast majority of those losing insurance during this time have been children, parents, young adults, and new mothers.”

Florida ranks 35th in child well-being (with 1 being the best), according WUSF, citing the Kids Count Databook from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Some critics on social media blasted Casey DeSantis’ remarks.

“Republicans refused to extend child tax credits that pulled 2 million children out of poverty. They resist the idea of free school lunches. Yet they come up with bullshit about their opponents ‘coming after our children.’ Yes, we’re coming after them, to give them a sandwich,” wrote former Chicago Tribune editor Mark Jacob.

READ MORE: Jobs Report Forces Fox News to Admit Biden Economy ‘A Lot Stronger Than Anybody Understands’

Watch the Casey DeSantis video below or at this link.

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‘Significant and Imminent Threat’: Trump Gag Order Largely Upheld by Appeals Court



A Washington, D.C. federal appeals court Friday afternoon largely upheld and reinstated U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan’s very narrow and limited gag order on Donald Trump for his trial on charges related to his alleged efforts to subvert the U.S. Constitution and overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“We agree with the district court that some aspects of Mr. Trump’s public statements pose a significant and imminent threat to the fair and orderly adjudication of the ongoing criminal proceeding, warranting a speech-constraining protective order,” reads Judge Patricia Millett unanimous three-judge panel ruling, posted by Lawfare’s Anna Bower. “The district court’s order, however, sweeps in more protected speech than is necessary. For that reason, we affirm the district court’s order in part and vacate it in part.”

The judges upheld the gag order “to the extent it prohibits all parties and their counsel from making or directing others to make public statements about known or reasonably foreseeable witnesses concerning their potential participation in the investigation or in this criminal proceeding.”

READ MORE: Jobs Report Forces Fox News to Admit Biden Economy ‘A Lot Stronger Than Anybody Understands’

They also upheld the gag order “to the extent it prohibits all parties and their counsel from making or directing others to make public statements about (1) counsel in the case other than the Special Counsel, (2) members of the court’s staff and counsel’s staffs, or (3) the family members of any counsel or staff member—if those statements are made with the intent to materially interfere with, or to cause others to materially interfere with, counsel’s or staff’s work in this criminal case, or with the knowledge that such interference is highly likely to result.”

The judges removed from the gag order “speech beyond those specified categories.”

“We do not allow such an order lightly,” the judges added. “But Mr. Trump is also an indicted criminal defendant, and he must stand trial in a courtroom under the same procedures that govern all other criminal defendants.”

Bower explains, “Chutkan’s order would have prohibited statements that refer to special counsel Jack Smith as a ‘thug’ or ‘deranged.’ But the appeals court order does not apply to speech about the special counsel himself.”

CBS News congressional correspondent Scott MacFarlane sums up the ruling: “Much of the gag order in Donald Trump’s 2020 election conspiracy criminal case in DC is *REINSTATED*.”

READ MORE: Peter Doocy Admits No ‘Concrete Evidence Joe Biden Personally Profited’ From Hunter’s Business

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Peter Doocy Admits No ‘Concrete Evidence Joe Biden Personally Profited’ From Hunter’s Business



In a report focused on House Republicans’ plan to vote on a resolution to open an official impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy told viewers there is no evidence of impeachable offenses.

“The House Oversight Committee has been at this for years, and they have so far not been able to provide any concrete evidence that Joe Biden personally profited from his son Hunter’s overseas business but they are going to try again with this impeachment inquiry set to start next week,” Doocy, who often criticizes President Biden in White House press briefings, said Friday on Fox News Business.

Other news outlets this week have also stressed Republicans have come up empty-handed.

The right-leaning news outlet The Hill, reporting on the resolution Thursday, noted Republicans’ current investigation “has struggled to connect President Biden to the activities of his son, and they’ve failed to prove their most salacious allegation — and the one that would be most key for impeachment: that the president accepted a bribe.”

READ MORE: Jobs Report Forces Fox News to Admit Biden Economy ‘A Lot Stronger Than Anybody Understands’

One of the main pillars of Republicans’ allegations against President Biden, the “narrative that President Biden pushed Ukraine to fire its prosecutor to help his son, who served on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burimsa, has largely been refuted,” The Hill also reported.

“Republicans have engaged in wide-ranging inquiry into Mr. Biden for months,” The New York Times reported Tuesday, “hunting for evidence to back up their allegations that he corruptly profited from his family members’ overseas business dealings and accepted bribes. To date, they have failed to deliver compelling evidence to back up their boldest claims.”

Watch Doocy below or at this link.

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