Persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or group by another group. The most common forms are religious persecution, ethnic persecution and political persecution, though there is naturally some overlap between these terms. The inflicting of suffering, harassment, isolation, imprisonment, fear, or pain are all factors that may establish persecution. Even so, not all suffering will necessarily establish persecution. The suffering experienced by the victim must be sufficiently severe. The threshold level of severity has been a source of much debate.
The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:... (c)Crimes against humanity:
- Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.
Telford Taylor, who was Counsel for the Prosecution at the Nuremberg Trials wrote "[at] the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the tribunals rebuffed several efforts by the prosecution to bring such 'domestic' atrocities within the scope of international law as 'crimes against humanity'". Several subsequent international treaties incorporate this principle, but some have dropped the restriction "in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime" that is in Nuremberg Principles.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is binding on 111 states, defines crimes against humanity in Article 7.1. The article criminalises certain acts "committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack". These include:
(h) Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender...or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph [e.g. murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, imprisonment, torture, sexual violence, apartheid, and other inhumane acts] or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court
Religious persecution is systematic mistreatment of an individual or group due to their religious affiliation. Not only theorists of secularization (who presume a decline of religiosity in general) would willingly assume that religious persecution is a thing of the past. However, with the rise of fundamentalism and religiously related terrorism, this assumption has become even more controversial. Indeed, in many countries of the world today, religious persecution is a human rights problem.
Atheists have experienced persecution throughout history. Persecution may refer to unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, beating, torture, or execution. It also may refer to the confiscation or destruction of property.
The persecution of Bahá'ís refers to the religious persecution of Bahá'ís in various countries, especially in Iran, which has one of the largest Bahá'í populations in the world. The Bahá'í Faith originated in Iran, and represents the largest religious minority in that country.
The persecution of Christians is religious persecution that Christians sometimes undergo as a consequence of professing their faith, both historically and in the current era. In the two thousand years of the Christian faith, about 70 million believers have been killed for their faith, of whom 45.5 million or 65% were in the twentieth century according to "The New Persecuted" ("I Nuovi Perseguitati"). 200 million Christians are vulnerable to persecution in the world, especially in wartorn Iraq & other middle Eastern countries and parts of Asia.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
With the Missouri extermination order Mormons became the only religious group to have a state of the United States legalize the extermination of their religion. Their forcible expulsion from the state caused the death of hundreds due to exposure, starvation, and resulting illnesses. The Mormons suffered through tarring and feathering, their lands and possessions being repeatedly taken from them, mob attacks, false imprisonments, and the US sending an army to Utah to deal with the "Mormon problem" in the Utah War. A government militia slaughtered Mormons in what is now known as the Haun's Mill massacre. The Founder of the Mormons, Joseph Smith, was killed in Carthage, Illinois by a mob of about 200 men, almost all of whom were members of the Illinois state militia.
Throughout the history of Jehovah's Witnesses, their beliefs, doctrines and practices have engendered controversy and opposition from the local governments, communities, or mainstream Christian groups.
Persecution of Jews is a recurring phenomenon throughout history. It has occurred on numerous occasions and at widely different geographical locations. It may include pogroms, looting and demolishing of private and public Jewish property (e.g., Kristallnacht), unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, torture, killing, or even mass execution (in World War II alone, approximately 6 million people were deliberately killed for the sole reason of being a Jew). They have been expelled from their hometowns/countries, hoping to find havens in other polities. In recent times Anti Semtism has often been manifested as Anti-Zionism, despite the fact that there are various Jewish groups who themselves oppose the idea of Zionism.
Persecution of Muslims is a recurring phenomenon from the beginning and throughout the history of Islam. Persecution may refer to unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, beating, torture, or execution. It also may refer to the confiscation or destruction of property, or incitement to hate Muslims. Persecution can extend beyond those who perceive themselves as Muslims to include those who are perceived by others as Muslims, or to Muslims which are considered by fellow Muslims as non-Muslims.
The Ahmadiyya regard themselves as Muslims, but are seen by many other Muslims as non-Muslims and "heretics". In 1984, the Government of Pakistan, under General Zia-ul-Haq, passed Ordinance XX, which banned proselytizing by Ahmadis and also banned Ahmadis from referring to themselves as Muslims. According to this ordinance, any Ahmadi who refers to oneself as a Muslim by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, directly or indirectly, or makes the call for prayer as other Muslims do, is punishable by imprisonment of up to 3 years. Because of these difficulties, Mirza Tahir Ahmad migrated to London, UK.
Persecution of Hindus refers to the religious persecution inflicted upon Hindus. Hindus have been historically persecuted during Islamic rule of the Indian subcontinent and during Portuguese rule of Goa. In modern times, Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh have also suffered persecution. Most recently, thousands of Hindus from Sindh province in Pakistan have been fleeing to India voicing fear for their safety.
Falun Gong was introduced to the general public by Li Hongzhi(李洪志) in Changchun, China, in 1992. For the next few years, Falun Gong was the fastest growing qigong practice in Chinese history and, by 1999, there were between 70 and 100 million people practicing Falun Gong in China. Following the seven years of widespread popularity, on July 20, 1999, the government of the People's Republic of China began a nationwide persecution campaign against Falun Gong practitioners, except in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. In late 1999, legislation was created to outlaw "heterodox religions" and retroactively applied to Falun Gong. Amnesty International states that the persecution is "politically motivated" with "legislation being used retroactively to convict people on politically-driven charges, and new regulations introduced to further restrict fundamental freedoms".
Ethnic persecution refers to perceived persecution based on ethnicity. Its meaning is parallel to racism, (based on race). Rwandan genocide remains an atrocity that the indigenous Hutu and Tutsi peoples still believe is unforgivable. The Japanese occupation of China caused the death of millions of people, mostly peasants murdered after the Dolittle Raid in early World War II.
Hazara people of central Afghanistan have been persecuted by Afghan rulers at various times in the history. Since the tragedy of 9/11, Sunni Muslim terrorists have been attacking the Hazara community in southwestern Pakistani town of Quetta, home to some 500000 Hazara who fled persecution in neighbouring Afghanistan. Some 2400 men, women and children have been killed or wounded with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claiming responsibility for most of the attacks against the community. Consequently, many thousands have fled the country seeking asylum in Australia.
Along with Jews, Homosexuals and others, the Roma Gypsies were rounded by the Nazi Regime of Germany and sent to the death camps.
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The persecution of ethnic Germans refers to systematic activity against groups of ethnic Germans based on their ethnicity.
Historically, this has been due to two causes: the German population were considered, whether factually or not, linked with German nationalist regimes such as those of the Nazis or Kaiser Wilhelm. This was the case in the World War I era persecution of Germans in the United States, and also in Eastern and Central Europe following the end of World War II. While many victims of these persecutions did not, in fact, have any connection to those regimes, cooperation between German minority organisations and Nazi regime did occur, as the example of Selbstschutz shows, which is still used as a pretense of hostilities against those who did not take part in such organisations. After World War II, many such Volksdeutsche were killed or driven from their homes[who?] in acts of vengeance, others in ethnic cleansing of territories prior to populating them with citizens of the annexing country.[where?] In other cases (e.g. in the case of the formerly large German-speaking populations of Russia, Estonia, or the Transylvanian (Siebenbürgen) German minority in Rumania and the Balkans) such persecution was a crime committed against innocent communities who had played no part in the Third Reich.
Persecution based on genetics
People with albinism
Persecution on the basis of albinism is frequently based on the belief that albinos are inferior to persons with higher concentration of melanin in their skin. As a result albinos have been persecuted, killed and dismembered, and graves of albinistic people dug up and desecrated. Such people have also been ostracized and even killed because they are presumed to bring bad luck in some areas. Haiti also has a long history of treating albinistic people as accursed, with the highest incidence under the influence of François "Papa Doc" Duvalier.
A number of countries, especially those in the [Western world], have passed measures to alleviate discrimination against sexual minorities, including laws against anti-gay hate crimes and workplace discrimination. Some have also legalized same-sex marriage or civil unions in order to grant same-sex couples the same protections and benefits as opposite-sex couples. In 2011, the United Nations passed its first resolution recognizing LGBT rights.
Persecution based on army service
Persecution on the basis of army service, or the lack of it, exists in Israel. In Israel, Jewish citizens who receive an exemption from army service are denied many prestigious career options, especially in the field of security. The root of discrimination on the basis of army service lies in the fact that at age 17, non-Arab citizens (including Druze) are called up to be examined for eligibility to compulsory military service. A record for each potential conscript is created, and those who actually serve in the military are distinguished from those rejected from service, by a Discharge Card, which has additional information on it, including the soldier's rank, military profession, and behavior during army service. Employers are particularly interested in the Discharge Card, since it is a universally available source of information about a potential employee. Citizens rejected from the army are frequently looked down upon by employers, who typically believe that "those who are unfit for army service are also unfit for the work environment", and those who succeeded in the army are also likely to be good employees. It is very frequent in Israel to see job advertisements requiring "Full Army Service", and the main problem is that the decisions taken by the draft board regarding a 17-year-old minor affect their entire life.
- S. Rempell, Defining Persecution, http://ssrn.com/abstract=1941006
- Telford Taylor "When people kill a people", The New York Times, March 28, 1982.
- Article 7.3 of the Rome Statute, which constitutes "compromise text" states that "For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that the term 'gender' refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term 'gender' does not indicate any meaning different from the above." While under international criminal law persecution based on Gender Identity is also prohibited, during the Rome Diplomatic Conference that adopted the ICC Statute, it was decided to define gender narrowly in order to overcome opposition from the Holy See and other states that were concerned that the ICC could theoretically also look into discriminatory practices of religious institutions. This provision was balanced with that of Article 10, which states that "Nothing in this Part shall be interpreted as limiting or prejudicing in any way existing or developing rules of international law for purposes other than this Statute."
- International Federation for Human Rights (2003-08-01). "Discrimination against religious minorities in Iran". fdih.org. Retrieved 2006-10-20.
- "20th Century Saw 65% of Christian Martyrs", 10 May 2002 -- Zenit News Agency
- New antisemitism
- Ordinance XX
- Source of Statistical Information, Number of Falun Gong practitioners in China in 1999: at least 70 million, Falun Dafa Information Center, accessed 01/01/08
- Faison, Seth (April 27, 1999) "In Beijing: A Roar of Silent Protesters" New York Times, retrieved June 10, 2006
- Kahn, Joseph (April 27, 1999) "Notoriety Now for Exiled Leader of Chinese Movement" New York Times, retrieved June 14, 2006
- Leung, Beatrice (2002) 'China and Falun Gong: Party and society relations in the modern era', Journal of Contemporary China, 11:33, 761 – 784
- The crackdown on Falun Gong and other so-called heretical organizations , The Amnesty International
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