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CDU EXPERT: Language will be under the microscope in public hearing to determine alleged Gaza genocide, forensic linguist says

Charles Darwin University 2 mins read

11 JANUARY, 2024

Who: Charles Darwin University forensic linguistics expert Dr Awni Etaywe is a lecturer in linguistics and a forensic linguistics researcher focusing on terrorism, incitement to hatred, radicalisation and genocide, and digital deviance. He is a former United Nations Expert on Mission and Observer of human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with training on the law of armed conflict and the protection of civilians and children.

Topics:

  • Linguistic evidence of incitement to genocide at war on Gaza.
  • Linguistics in terrorism and social justice cases.
  • Semiotics of peace and compassion.
  • Social affiliation in digital activism as strategic communication employed by non-violent resistance movements.

The International Court of Justice is holding public hearings on January 11 and 12 at the Peace Palace in the Hague, in a case brought by South Africa against Israel. South Africa has accused Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention in its military bombardment and siege of Gaza.

Dr Etaywe is available to contribute extensive analysis and commentary on this subject.

Contact details: Call +61 8 8946 6721 or email media@cdu.edu.au to arrange an interview.

Quotes attributable to Dr Awni Etaywe:

The ongoing study by Charles Darwin University (CDU) forensic linguistics expert Dr Awni Etaywe analyses texts and messages inciting genocide within the context of Israeli war on Gaza.

“While the Biden administration has led the way late in dismissing South Africa’s genocide case filed at IJC against Israel as ‘meritless, counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever’, forensic linguistic analysis reveals well-supported evidence of the international speech crime of incitement to genocide.

“Forensic linguistics is the application of linguistic techniques to investigate and aid in establishing evidence of crimes in which language data forms part of the evidence.

“Some may argue that Israel’s sustained aggression on Gaza fails to reach the threshold of genocide, but there is no such a thing when it comes to inciting genocide in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention states that, inter alia, ‘Direct and public incitement to commit genocide’ shall be punishable.

“Incitement is inchoate crime under international criminal law: its intended crime (i.e. genocide) does not need to actually occur to be proven; and prosecutors do not need to seek a causal link between the speech function and subsequent genocidal acts.

“The ‘directness’ requirement and the ‘criminal intentionality’ requirement in the act of ‘direct and public incitement to commit genocide’ are well established by systemic functional linguistic investigative tools.

“These tools include speech act/function analysis. Speech functions with (in)congruent syntactic and semantic realisations yield insights into the speakers’ commissive act or commitment to the criminal intent as in Defence Minister Yoav Gallant: ‘We will eliminate everything.’ Speech functions also highlight the inciters’ demanding of actions by the incitees, as in Netanyahu’s directive act of inciting his soldiers while invoking a religious legitimation of the genocide: ‘you must remember what Amalek has done to you; where the biblical text reads as: ‘Now go, attack Amalek, and proscribe all that belongs to him. Spare no one, but kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.’

“The tools also include victim-positioning analysis, as in Yoav Gallant’s statement positioning victims as ‘animals’ hence warranting inhuman treatment while declaring his commitment to the crime of genocide: ‘I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip. There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.’”


Contact details:

Raphaella Saroukos she/her
Communications Officer
Marketing, Media & Communications
Larrakia Country
T: +61 8 8946 6721
E: media@cdu.edu.au
W: cdu.edu.au

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