By Edmond Y. Azadian
Haiti: 200,000 victims and counting. A devastating human tragedy beyond comprehension. It seems that nature has its way of hitting the most vulnerable nations. Time magazine (the January 25 issue) defined succinctly the ironic state of affairs in its Haiti earthquake coverage writing: “Tragedy has a way of visiting those who can bear it least.”
In recent history, catastrophic earthquakes hit Iran, Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Peru, Armenia among other countries. Only industrialized nations like the US and Japan seem to be well-equipped enough to contain the large-scale carnage.
Day in and day out, the horrifying footage of the earthquake destruction unfolds on our screens to bring home the pain and suffering experienced by one of the poorest nations on earth. Yet many people watch the footage on their TV sets and go on with their daily lives, switching to their favorite sports or entertainment channels, munching their potato chips and gulping cold beer.
This brings to mind our own tragedies — be it earthquake or the Genocide — which many people cannot find relevant in their daily lives or able to feel empathy for.
As the mass graves are being dug, humanitarian aid is pouring in from many countries, Armenia included, as our people empathize most, having suffered the same fate in 1988.
It was reported that dozens of French rappers and pop stars are joining Charles Aznavour and Youssou N’Dour to record a song to raise funds for quake stricken Haiti. The song is titled, A Gesture for Dear Haiti.
Many countries helping Haiti victims have motivations that go beyond humanitarian concerns. Of course, all help must be welcomed and appreciated. But some countries try to score political gains. Cuba was one of the first countries to send a team of doctors, yet that was hardly covered in the US news media. On the other hand, there was disproportionate coverage of the Israeli team. And on this occasion, it was very interesting to read about the debate going on in the Israeli press. Most of the concern was focused on improving the country’s image after the carnage brought about in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Defense forces.