- Recently Germany officially apologised to Namibia for the massacre of the Herero and Nama people in 1904-1908 and called it a genocide for the first time.
- Around the same time, French President Emmanuel Macron asked Rawanda to forgive France for its role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died.
SIGNIFICANCE OF APOLOGIES
- The importance of such apologetic gestures cannot be overestimated, as they can generate multiple positive effects.
- Apart from strengthening the relations between the countries involved, apologies by leaders help people in:
- Reconciling with the past
- Countries and communities take lessons from history and avoid similar tragedies
- Also, they provide some solace to the victims’ descendants and give them a sense of justice and rectitude.
- Such apologies require courage, good will, compassion, and humility.
- It is not an easy task to apologise, given that one has to do so for events that took place decades or even a century ago.
- In the words of Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau
- “apologies for things in the past are important to make sure that we actually understand and know and share and do not repeat those mistakes”.
APOLOGY FOR KOMAGATA MARU SHIP INCIDENT
- In 2016, Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau had apologised before the descendants of passengers of the Komagata Maru ship.
- In 1914, the Canadian government of the day had decided to turn away the ship carrying South Asian migrants, mostly Sikhs.
- The ship was forced to return to India.
- Back home, the British suspected the passengers to be revolutionaries and many passengers were shot dead.
IN CONTEMPORARY TIMES
- In contemporary geopolitics, a sense of humility is a rare phenomenon.
- As we are witnessing a re-emergence of political leaders, from Nicaragua to Myanmar, who are ready to resort to any means in order to remain in power.
- In this environment, apologetic voices become even more precious as they help us reconcile with tragic events of the past and remove the stains of history.
- Besides, they add a moral dimension to international relations.
- To be a pillar of the multipolar world is not to be a military power, manufacturing hub, or a global investor alone.
- Countries that strive for global leadership should be able to provide moral leadership as well.
- This includes critical self-reflection, humility, compassion, and care not only towards their own people, but also towards the most vulnerable communities around the world.