Universitat de Barcelona, Spain | 19 - 23 July, 2021
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Session C5 2: Hiding Information on Genocide and Atrocities
5:00pm - 6:30pm
Session Chair: Manana Vahana Hakobyan, DataPoint Armenia, United States of America
Lost but found in Burundi’s response to genocide: the international dimension of genocide in the Great Lakes.
The existence of genocidal organizations in the east African Great-Lakes region, as well as the cooperation between them, is an established fact. It is also fact that only some of these organizations were ever subject to appropriate judicial treatment. While most of the genocidaires remained unpunished, with the development of digital technologies, the denialist and revisionist propaganda flourished. In addition to the mitigation of atrocities and victim numbers, gradual overlooking of the regional dimension of genocide is the other characteristic of the post-genocide discourse in that area. Since the launch of Burundi’s TRC in 2014, however, there has been considerable reference to perpetrators operating across borders, especially in the commission’s tweets relating to the still-uninvestigated killings of 1972. My presentation seeks to analyze why they were swept away from the general discourse for a while, to end up re-appearing as significant paradigms in Burundi’s efforts to abet other genocides via the restoration of the truth, among other paths. The focus will be on semantic moves relating to those agents of crimes who were highlighted or ignored depending on periods. I will rely on pertinent UN reports on one hand and, on the other hand, on Burundi’s TRC publications with the main focus on digital releases. The overall aim is to establish the extent to which this regional cooperation between genocidal groups is fitted in Burundi’s current recommendable endeavors of truth restoration.
Data Science in Relation to Genocidal Analysis and Prevention
As the presence of social media has swept the world, governments and individuals are using its influence to advance their political and personal agendas, including genocidal intentions. Information manipulation has always been the main tool to promote genocidal actions, utilizing the available technological instruments of the given times. The blockade of information and spread of harmful misinformation generated by the increased automated bot activity during the 44 day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 is the most recent application of this process. Modern social media is especially dangerous in circulating misinformation because it reinforces biases of the crowd rather than validating the truth. In the current age, genocidal actions leave footprints on social media, in the form of big data, and thus its origins and the distribution of its ideology can be tracked and illuminated through sophisticated data science algorithms.
Drawing parallels between case studies from previous atrocities we identify the commonalities of genocidal rhetoric. We analyze the technological tools employed in the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan and discuss the tactics utilized to influence and shape the perspective of truth through the dominating presence of social media. We investigate the amplification of genocidal violence versus prevention in terms of the information being spread by government entities, as well as the rhetoric of the persons driving national agendas on either side. Using data analysis and web scraping from various social media platforms, we are able to identify the inflection point where hate speech grows into destructive intentions throughout the course of the 44-day war and use this model for preventative measures in the future.
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Art exhibition proposal
The subject of my project ( . . . ) is Dobrica Ćosić’s memoir Bosnian War (2012). In this book, Ćosić describes his experience as the first president of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992–1993) and his involvement in the peace talks that ended the Bosnian war (1992–1995). Despite covering this period, there is no mention of Srebenica genocide in his memoir. My aim was to highlight his intentional omission of the genocide: I located all the available issues of Bosnian War in public libraries in Serbia, borrowed as many of them as I could and in-situ inserted an edited page which contains the date of the genocide followed by several blank sheets.
I present this several parts: an approximately 5 x 1.5 meter large grid of framed photos, slideshow and optionally a lecture. The photos show thirty-eight books I intervened on, four photos of the actual intervention and one framed text document with short explanation of the project’s background. The slideshow contains photo-documentation of the project’s execution: a 22 days long road-trip through Serbia. Optionally I hold an art lecture about my project’s political and historical background with an emphasis on my experience of it’s preparation and execution.
Please follow the link for the detailed description and photo examples: