Associated Press Worldstream
April 8, 2004 Thursday
Belgium: citing North America as site of worst genocide is not
A display praising the merits of peacekeeping that cited the
decimation of native North Americans as the world’s worst genocide
was based on a historical study and shouldn’t be considered a jab at
the United States, Belgian defense officials said Thursday.
Defense Ministry spokesman Gerard Vareng denied criticism that the
display carried an anti-American message.
The display, shown at the monument of the Unknown Soldier in Brussels
this week, was meant to honor Belgian soldiers who died in
It included a panel listing “North America” as the continent of the
world’s worst genocide with a death toll of 15 million, starting with
Christopher Columbus’ 1492 arrival in the New World but giving no end
The daily De Standaard called the display – that was also covered
extensively in a defense ministry publication – insulting to
It said Defense Minister Andre Flahaut, who has tangled with U.S.
officials in recent months, effectively blamed the United States for
killing 15 million people “in a genocide that continues to this day.”
The newspaper complained about a “curious” list of genocides that
mentioned Nazi Germany, Rwanda, Cambodia, Armenia and other countries
but ignored killings in the Soviet Union under Josef Stalin and
Europe’s colonial past in Africa, including Belgium’s role in the
Vareng said “the peacekeeping display was the work of historical
experts. They took the list of genocides and the numbers of people
who died in them on the Encyclopedia of Genocide” by Israel W.
Charny, head of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in
He said the two-volume encyclopedia, published in 1999, is a “very
serious book that deals with all kinds of genocides.”
The ceremony this week at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier
coincided with the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide in which
up to 1 million people died.