Collective punishment is the punishment of a group of people as a result of the behavior of one or more other individuals or groups. The punished group may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions. In times of war and armed conflict, collective punishment has resulted in atrocities, and is a violation of the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions. Historically, occupying powers have used collective punishment to retaliate against and deter attacks on their forces by resistance movements (e.g. destroying whole towns and villages where such attacks have occurred).
2nd century BC 
During the Qin Dynasty of China (221BC – 207BC), emperor Qin Shi Huang upheld his rule by enforcing strict laws, with the most serious of crimes, such as treason, punishable by what is known as nine familial exterminations - this involved the execution of the perpetrator's entire families as well as the perpetrators themselves, where the members are categorized into nine groups. The process of familial extermination was carried on by subsequent Chinese dynasties for serious crimes, with a significant number of recorded sentences during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), until the punishment was officially repealed by the government of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) in 1905.
9th - 15th century 
In the Tithing, groups of ten men swearing the Frankpledge, the compulsory sharing of responsibility and punishment, was in use at least since the time of Alfred the Great in the 9th century. The Statute of Winchester of 1285 provided that "the whole hundred … shall be answerable" for any theft or robbery.
18th century 
19th century 
The principle of collective punishment was laid out by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman in his Special Field Order 120, November 9, 1864, which laid out the rules for his "March to the sea" in the American Civil War:
V. To army corps commanders alone is entrusted the power to destroy mills, houses, cotton-gins, etc..., and for them this general principle is laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested, no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility, then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less relentless according to the measure of such hostility.
20th century 
In 1906, 167 Black U.S. soldiers stationed in Brownsville, Texas were dishonorably discharged by orders of President Theodore Roosevelt in response to the shooting of two white citizens in the middle of the night of August 13, 1906. One man was killed and the other, a police lieutenant, was injured and it was never discovered who the shooter(s) were, though they were presumed to have been members of the nearby Fort Brown. The soldiers of Companies B, C, and D of the 25th infantry regiment, many of whom served in Cuba and the Philippines, were punished for the crime collectively and they were not entitled to pensions.
British forces in the Boer Wars and the Germans in both the Franco-Prussian War and World War I justified such actions as being in accord with the laws of war then in force. During World War II, Nazi troops killed 434 men in three villages near near Kragujevac on October 19, 1941 as punishment for previous actions of the Serbian resistance movement. In the next two days, the Nazis also killed more than 13,000 people in Kraljevo, Kragujevac, and Sumarice, including 300 students from Kragujevac First High School. In 1942, the Germans destroyed the village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) killing 340 inhabitants as collective punishment or reprisal for that year's assassination of Reinhard Heydrich by commandos nearby the village (the village of Ležáky was also destroyed in retribution). In the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane 642 of its inhabitants — men, women, and children — were slaughtered by the German Waffen-SS in 1944. In the Dutch village of Putten and the Italian villages of Sant'Anna di Stazzema and Marzabotto, as well as in the Soviet village of Kortelisy (in what is now Ukraine), large scale reprisal killings were carried out by the Germans.
The Expulsion of Germans after World War II by, among others, Czechs and Poles, has been sometimes justified as collective punishment. The goal was to punish the Germans; the Allies declared them collectively guilty of German war crimes. In the US and UK the ideas of German collective guilt and collective punishment originated not with the US and British people, but on higher policy levels. Not until late in the war did the US public assign collective responsibility to the German people. The most notable policy document containing elements of collective guilt and collective punishment is JCS 1067 from early 1945. Collective punishment has also been implicated in the American food policy in occupied Germany, with President Truman responding to complaints from Senators that "that although all Germans might not be guilty for the war, it would be too difficult to try to single out for better treatment those who had nothing to do with the Nazi regime and its crimes". Months earlier amongst many others "U.S. Catholic Bishops had already spoken out against the restrictions on food exports into occupied Germany" warning that "future generations may well charge the victors with guilt of inhumanities which are reminiscent of Nazism and Fascism."
According to The New York Times, the British planned "'collective punishment' for aiding Reds, rewards and more troops" in Malaya in 1951. The British used collective punishment as an official policy to suppress the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya in 1952. In 1956, Britain officially used collective punishment in Cyprus in the form of evicting families from their homes and closing shops anywhere British soldiers and police had been murdered, to obtain information about the identity(ies) of the attackers Today, it is considered by most nations contradictory to the modern concept of due process, where each individual receives separate treatment based on his or her role in the crime in question. Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically forbids collective punishment.
Joseph Stalin's mass deportations of many nationalities of the USSR to remote regions (including the Chechens, Crimean Tatars, Volga Germans and many others) is an example of officially-orchestrated collective punishment.
The partial removal of potentially trouble-making ethnic groups was a technique used consistently by Stalin during his career: Poles (1939–1941 and 1944–1945), Romanians (1941 and 1944–1953), Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians (1941 and 1945–1949), Volga Germans (1941), Chechens, Ingushs (1944). Shortly before, during and immediately after World War II, Stalin conducted a series of deportations on a huge scale which profoundly affected the ethnic map of the Soviet Union. It is estimated that between 1941 and 1949 nearly 3.3 million were deported to Siberia and the Central Asian republics. By some estimates up to 43% of the resettled population died of diseases and malnutrition.
The deportations started with Poles from Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia (see Poles in the former Soviet Union) 1932-1936. Koreans in the Russian Far East were deported in 1937 (see Deportation of Koreans in the Soviet Union). After the Soviet invasion of Poland following the corresponding German invasion that marked the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviet Union annexed eastern parts (so-called "Kresy") of the Second Polish Republic. During 1939-1941 1.45 million people inhabiting the region were deported by the Soviet regime, of whom 63.1% were Poles, and 7.4% were Jews. The same followed in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and. More than 200,000 people are estimated to have been deported from the Baltic in 1940-1953. 10% of the entire adult Baltic population was deported or sent to labor camps. (see June deportation, Operation Priboi, Soviet deportations from Estonia) Volga Germans and seven (overwhelmingly Turkic or non-Slavic) nationalities of the Crimea and the northern Caucasus were deported: the Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachays, and Meskhetian Turks. All Crimean Tatars were deported en masse, in a form of collective punishment.
Black January was a massacre of civilians committed by the Red Army in the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990. The Human Rights Watch report entitled "Black January in Azerbaijan" states: "Indeed, the violence used by the Soviet Army on the night of January 19–20 was so out of proportion to the resistance offered by Azerbaijanis as to constitute an exercise in collective punishment."
21st century 
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots or the 1984 Sikh Massacre was a riot directed against Sikhs in India, by anti-Sikh mobs, in response to the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards, there were more than 3000 deaths. CBI is of the opinion that the acts of violence were well organized with support from the then Delhi police officials and the central government headed by Indira Gandhi's son, Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv a congress member, who was sworn in as the Prime Minister after his mother's death, when asked about the riots said "when a big tree falls, the earth shakes".
In 2011, Human Rights Watch reported the Government of India had "yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings". The 2011 WikiLeaks cable leaks revealed that the United States was convinced about the complicity of Indian Government ruled by the Indian National Congress in the riots, and termed it as "opportunism" and "hatred" of the Congress government against Sikhs. Also in 2011, a new set of mass graves were discovered in Haryana, and Human Rights Watch reported that "Widespread anti-Sikh attacks in Haryana were part of broader revenge attacks" in India.
On 20 May 2008, the Pakistan Army conducted collective punishment against a village called Spinkai, located in the frontier province of Pakistan. The operation was called 'zalzala' which is Arabic for earthquake. At first, the Pakistan Army swept through with helicopter gunships, artillery and tanks that crunched across a parched riverbed. After four days of heavy fighting, 25 militants and six soldiers died. The rest of the militants retreated up the valley. After the capture of the village the army discovered bomb factories, detonation-ready suicide jackets and schools for teenage suicide bombers.
The Pakistan Army immediately decided to punish the village for harboring the Taliban and allowing the militants to operate in and from the village to conduct further terror attacks in Pakistan. Bulldozers and explosives experts turned Spinkai's bazaar into a mile-long pile of rubble. Petrol stations, shops, and even parts of the hospital were leveled or blown up. The villagers were forbidden from returning to their homes.
Pakistani commanders, who were speaking to the media, insisted they had been merciful in their application of "collective punishment" - a practice invented by the British who demarcated the tribal areas over a century ago.
South Africa 
South Africa still retains the Apartheid-era law of common purpose, by which those who make up part of a group can be punished for the crimes of other group members, even if they were not themselves actively involved. In August 2012 this came to public attention when 270 miners were threatened with prosecution for participating in a demonstration. During the demonstration at the Marikana mine, 34 miners were shot by police. Many of the miners were armed. When prosecutors said they would pursue charges against other miners who were part of the protest, there was a public outcry.
Throughout most of Syria's ongoing civil war, collective punishment was a recurring method used by the Syrian government to quell opposition cities and suburbs throughout the country whereby entire cities would be sieged, shelled, and destroyed, if that city was deemed as pro-opposition.
Upon retaking the capital Damascus after the Battle of Damascus (2012), the Syrian government began a campaign of collective punishment against Sunni suburbs in-and-around the capital which had supported FSA presence in their neighborhoods.
In opposition-controlled cities and districts in Aleppo province and Aleppo city reports indicate that the Syrian government is attacking civilians at bread bakeries with artillery rounds and rockets, with the reports indicating that the bakeries were shelled indiscriminately. HRW said these are war crimes, as the only military targets in the areas were the few rebels manning the bakeries and that dozens of civilians were killed.
In Idlib province in the northwest of the country, entire cities were shelled and bombed for sheltering opposition activists and rebels, with the victims mostly civilians, along with heavy financial losses. 
See also 
- Decimation (Roman army)
- Fourth Geneva Convention (article 33)
- Population transfer in the Soviet Union
- Nine exterminations
- Family Members of Traitors of the Motherland
- Sherman, William T., Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman, 2nd ed., D. Appleton & Co., 1913 (1889), Chapter XXI. Reprinted by the Library of America, 1990, ISBN 0-940450-65-8.
- "The Brownsville Raid" by John D. Weaver
- "The laws of war as to conquered territory" by William Miller Collier, New York Times, November 29, 1914, p SM6
- Oradour-sur-Glane - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- *Official Website
- The New York Times > International > Europe > Tiny Town Lost in Tides of History
- Massacres and Atrocities of WWII in the Axis Countries
- World War II in Ukraine: Kortelisy (Ukraine), Lidice (Czechoslovakia) & Oradour-sur-Glane (France): Razed Villages.
- Alfred M. De Zayas, Nemesis at Potsdam, page 2
- Ulf Brunnbauer, Michael G. Esch, Holm Sundhaussen, Definitionsmacht, Utopie, Vergeltung, p.91
- The Expulsion of 'German' Communities from Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War, Steffen Prauser and Arfon Rees, European University Institute, Florence. HEC No. 2004/1. p.6
- Zybura, p. 202
- The Expulsion of 'German' Communities from Eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War, Steffen Prauser and Arfon Rees, European University Institute, Florence. HEC No. 2004/1. p.5
- Ulf Brunnbauer, Michael G. Esch, Holm Sundhaussen, Definitionsmacht, Utopie, Vergeltung, p.92
- Karl Cordell, Andrzej Antoszewski, Poland and the European Union, 2000, p.166, ISBN 0-415-23885-4, ISBN 978-0-415-23885-4 ´ (Situation in Poland) "Almost all Germans were held personally responsible for the policies of the Nazi party"
- Arie Marcelo Kacowicz, Pawel Lutomski, Population resettlement in international conflicts: a comparative study, Lexington Books, 2007, pp.101,102, ISBN 073911607
- Francis R. Nicosia,Jonathan Huener "Business and industry in Nazi Germany", p.130,131
- Steven Bela Vardy and T. Hunt Tooley, eds. "Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe" ISBN 0-88033-995-0. Chapter by Richard Dominic Wiggers, "The United States and the Refusal to Feed German Civilians after World War II" p.453,454
- "British to step up Malaya campaign; 1951 plans include 'collective punishment' for aiding Reds, rewards and more troops" New York Times, Dec. 17, 1950, p 12
- "Labor's censure over Kenya fails" New York Times, Dec 17, 1952, p16
- Britain punishes Cypriote balking in informer role" New York Times,Mar. 17, 1956, p1
- The Stalin Era
- Soviet Transit, Camp, and Deportation Death Rates
- Poland's Holocaust, Tadeusz Piotrowski, 1998 ISBN 0-7864-0371-3, P.14
- Soviet Mass Deportations from Latvia
- The Baltic States
- Communism and Crimes against Humanity in the Baltic states
- Deportation of Crimean Tatars by Stalin
- Remembering Stalin's deportations
- Declan Walsh (May 20, 2008). "Demolished by the Pakistan army: the frontier village punished for harbouring the Taliban". The Guardian (London: guardian.co.uk). Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "In pictures: Pakistan's most feared militant". BBC News (news.bbc.co.uk). 2008-05-27. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "Marikana murder charges: South Africa minister wants explanation". BBC. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/08/30/us-syria-crisis-rights-idUSBRE87T0HE20120rian 830