Ethnic cleansing

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This article is about the general process. For the video game, see Ethnic Cleansing (video game).

Ethnic cleansing is the systematic forced removal of ethnic or religious groups from a given territory by a more powerful ethnic group, with the intent of making it ethnically homogeneous.[1] The forces applied may be various forms of forced migration (deportation, population transfer), intimidation, as well as mass murder and genocidal rape.

Ethnic cleansing is usually accompanied with the efforts to remove physical and cultural evidence of the targeted group in the territory through the destruction of homes, social centers, farms, and infrastructure, and by the desecration of monuments, cemeteries, and places of worship.

Initially used by the perpetrators during the Yugoslav Wars and cited in this context as a euphemism akin to that of the "Final Solution", by the 1990s the term gained widespread acceptance due to journalism and media's heightened use of the term in its generic meaning.[2]

Etymology[edit]

An antecedent to the term is the Greek word andrapodismos (Greek: ανδραποδισμός; lit. "enslavement"), which was used in ancient texts to describe atrocities that accompanied Alexander the Great's conquest of Thebes in 335 BC.[3] In the early 1900s, regional variants of the term could be found among the Czechs (očista), the Poles (oczyszczanie), the French (épuration) and the Germans (Säuberung).[4] A 1914 Carnegie Endowment report on the Balkan Wars noted that village burning and ethnic cleansing had traditionally accompanied conflicts in Southeastern Europe, and had been committed by all the area's ethnic groups throughout history. According to journalist Tim Judah, the term "cleansing" was first used by the linguist and folklorist Vuk Karadžić in the mid-19th century when describing how the Turks of Belgrade were forced out or killed by the revolutionary leader Karađorđe's forces during the First Serbian Uprising.[5]

During World War II, the euphemism čišćenje terena ("cleansing the terrain") was used by the Croatian Ustaše to describe military actions in which non-Croats were purposely killed or otherwise uprooted from their homes.[6] Viktor Gutić, a senior Ustaše leader, was one of the first Croatian nationalists on record to use the term as a euphemism for committing atrocities against Serbs.[7] The term was later used in the internal memorandums of Serbian nationalist guerrillas in reference to a number of retaliatory massacres they committed against Bosniaks and Croats between 1941 and 1945.[8] The Russian phrase очистка границ (ochistka granits; lit. "cleansing of borders") was used in Soviet documents of the early 1930s to refer to the forced resettlement of Polish people from the 22-kilometre (14 mi) border zone in the Byelorussian and Ukrainian SSRs. This process was repeated on an even larger scale in 1939–41, involving many other groups suspected of disloyalty towards the Soviet Union.[9] During The Holocaust, Nazi Germany pursued a policy of ensuring that Europe was "cleansed of Jews" (Judenrein).[10] According to Israeli historian Benny Morris, the term "cleansing" was used in Israeli military documents dating to the 1948 Israeli–Arab war, referring to the expulsion of Arabs from Israel.[11]

In the 1980s, the Soviets used the term "ethnic cleansing" to describe the inter-ethnic violence in the Nagorno-Karabakh.[3] At around the same time, the Yugoslav media used it to describe what they alleged was an Albanian nationalist plot to force all Serbs to leave Kosovo. It was widely popularized by the Western media during the Bosnian War (1992–95). The first recorded mention of its use in the Western media can be traced to an article of The New York Times dated 15 April 1992, in a quote by an anonymous Western diplomat.[6]

Ethnic cleansing vs. genocide[edit]

The crimes committed during an ethnic cleansing are those of genocides and mass atrocity crimes. Genocide includes an intent at complete or partial destruction of the target group and ethnic cleansing is a term that describes the beginning process of genocide. It is also used to describe mass atrocity crimes that might involve mass murder, deportation, and the targeting and removal of groups from a territory without the major intent seen in genocide. Hence there may be varied degrees of mass murder in an ethnic cleansing, often subsiding when the target group appears to be leaving the desired territory, while during genocide the mass murder is ubiquitous and constant throughout the process, continuing even while the target group tries to flee.[12][13]While mass atrocity crimes and genocide carry legal ramifications in the UN conventions, ethnic cleansing has become a term through both continued media use and new academic discourse to describe actions from both definitions. It carries no legal ramifications as a term, but the use of it has become associated with genocide so much that using ethnic cleansing in place of genocide is a way to avoid censorship or consequences.

Academic discourse considers both genocide and ethnic cleansing to exist in a spectrum of assaults on nations or religio-ethnic groups. Ethnic cleansing is similar to forced deportation or population transfer whereas genocide is the intentional murder of part or all of a particular ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.[14] Some academics consider genocide as a subset of "murderous ethnic cleansing."[15] Thus, these concepts are different, but related; "literally and figuratively, ethnic cleansing bleeds into genocide, as mass murder is committed in order to rid the land of a people."[16]

Synonyms include ethnic purification.[17]

Definitions[edit]

The Chios Massacre refers to the slaughter of tens of thousands of Greeks on the island of Chios by Ottoman troops in 1822.[18]

The Final Report of the Commission of Experts established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 defined ethnic cleansing as "a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas."[12] In its previous, first interim report it noted, "[b]ased on the many reports describing the policy and practices conducted in the former Yugoslavia, [that] 'ethnic cleansing' has been carried out by means of murder, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, extra-judicial executions, rape and sexual assaults, confinement of civilian population in ghetto areas, forcible removal, displacement and deportation of civilian population, deliberate military attacks or threats of attacks on civilians and civilian areas, and wanton destruction of property. Those practices constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore, such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention".[19]

The official United Nations definition of ethnic cleansing is "rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group".[20]

As a category, ethnic cleansing encompasses a continuum or spectrum of policies. In the words of Andrew Bell-Fialkoff:

[E]thnic cleansing [...] defies easy definition. At one end it is virtually indistinguishable from forced emigration and population exchange while at the other it merges with deportation and genocide. At the most general level, however, ethnic cleansing can be understood as the expulsion of a population from a given territory.[21]

Terry Martin has defined ethnic cleansing as "the forcible removal of an ethnically defined population from a given territory" and as "occupying the central part of a continuum between genocide on one end and nonviolent pressured ethnic emigration on the other end."[9]

In reviewing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Bosnian Genocide Case in the judgement of Jorgic v. Germany on July 12, 2007 the European Court of Human Rights quoted from the ICJ ruling on the Bosnian Genocide Case to draw a distinction between ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The term 'ethnic cleansing' has frequently been employed to refer to the events in Bosnia and Herzegovina which are the subject of this case ... General Assembly resolution 47/121 referred in its Preamble to 'the abhorrent policy of 'ethnic cleansing', which is a form of genocide', as being carried on in Bosnia and Herzegovina. ... It [i.e. ethnic cleansing] can only be a form of genocide within the meaning of the [Genocide] Convention, if it corresponds to or falls within one of the categories of acts prohibited by Article II of the Convention. Neither the intent, as a matter of policy, to render an area "ethnically homogeneous", nor the operations that may be carried out to implement such policy, can as such be designated as genocide: the intent that characterizes genocide is "to destroy, in whole or in part" a particular group, and deportation or displacement of the members of a group, even if effected by force, is not necessarily equivalent to destruction of that group, nor is such destruction an automatic consequence of the displacement. This is not to say that acts described as 'ethnic cleansing' may never constitute genocide, if they are such as to be characterized as, for example, 'deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part', contrary to Article II, paragraph (c), of the Convention, provided such action is carried out with the necessary specific intent (dolus specialis), that is to say with a view to the destruction of the group, as distinct from its removal from the region. As the ICTY has observed, while 'there are obvious similarities between a genocidal policy and the policy commonly known as 'ethnic cleansing' ' (Krstić, IT-98-33-T, Trial Chamber Judgment, August 2, 2001, para. 562), yet '[a] clear distinction must be drawn between physical destruction and mere dissolution of a group. The expulsion of a group or part of a group does not in itself suffice for genocide.

— ECHR quoting the ICJ.[22]

Ethnic cleansing as a military, political and economic tactic[edit]

The 12th anniversary exhibition of ethnic cleansing in Abkhazia, which was held in Tbilisi in 2005.

In 1946 Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad. The survivors of the German population were forcibly expelled and the city was repopulated with Soviet citizens. In the 1990s Bosnian war, ethnic cleansing was a common phenomenon. It typically entailed intimidation, forced expulsion and/or killing of the undesired ethnic group, as well as the destruction or removal of key physical and cultural elements. These included places of worship, cemeteries, works of art and historic buildings. According to numerous ICTY verdicts, both Serb[23] and Croat[24] forces performed ethnic cleansing of their intended territories in order to create ethnically pure states (Republika Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia). Serb forces were also judged to have committed genocide in Srebrenica and Zepa at the end of the war.[25]

Mass expulsion of Poles in 1939 as part of the German ethnic cleansing of western Poland annexed to the Reich.

Based on the evidence of numerous attacks by Croat forces against Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), the ICTY Trial Chamber concluded in the Kordić and Čerkez case that by April 1993, the Croat leadership from Bosnia and Herzegovina had a designated plan to ethnically cleanse Bosniaks from the Lašva Valley in Central Bosnia. Dario Kordić, the local political leader, was found to be the instigator of this plan.[26]

In the same year (1993), ethnic cleansing was also occurring in another country. During the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, the armed Abkhaz separatist insurgency implemented a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the large population of ethnic Georgians.[citation needed] This was actually a case of trying to drive out a majority, rather than a minority, since Georgians were the single largest ethnic group in pre-war Abkhazia, with a 45.7% plurality as of 1989.[27] As a result of this deliberate campaign by the Abkhaz separatists, more than 250,000 ethnic Georgians were forced to flee, and approximately 30,000 people were killed during separate incidents involving massacres and expulsions (see Ethnic cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia).[28][29] This was recognized as ethnic cleansing by Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe conventions, and was also mentioned in UN General Assembly Resolution GA/10708.[30]

As a tactic, ethnic cleansing has a number of systemic impacts. It enables a force to eliminate civilian support for resistance by eliminating the civilians — recognizing Mao Zedong's dictum that guerrillas among a civilian population are fish in water, it removes the fish by draining the water[citation needed]. When enforced as part of a political settlement, as happened with the forced resettlement of ethnic Germans to the new Germany after 1945, it can contribute to long-term stability.[31] Some individuals of the large German population in Czechoslovakia and prewar Poland had encouraged Nazi jingoism before the Second World War, but this was forcibly resolved.[32] It thus establishes "facts on the ground" – radical demographic changes which can be very hard to reverse.

Ethnic cleansing as a crime under international law[edit]

French troops arriving at Beirut to stop the ethnic cleansing of Lebanese Maronites by the Ottoman Turks, Druze and Sunni Muslims

There is no formal legal definition of ethnic cleansing.[33] However, ethnic cleansing in the broad sense – the forcible deportation of a population – is defined as a crime against humanity under the statutes of both International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).[34] The gross human-rights violations integral to stricter definitions of ethnic cleansing are treated as separate crimes falling under the definitions for genocide or crimes against humanity of the statutes.[35]

The UN Commission of Experts (established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780) held that the practices associated with ethnic cleansing "constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore ... such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention." The UN General Assembly condemned "ethnic cleansing" and racial hatred in a 1992 resolution.[36]

There are however situations, such as the expulsion of Germans after World War II, where ethnic cleansing has taken place without legal redress (see Preussische Treuhand v. Poland). Timothy V. Waters argues that if similar circumstances arise in the future, this precedent would allow the ethnic cleansing of other populations under international law.[37]


Silent ethnic cleansing[edit]

Silent ethnic cleansing is a term coined in the mid-1990s by some observers of the Yugoslav Wars. Apparently concerned with Western media representations of atrocities committed in the conflict — which generally focused on those perpetrated by the Serbs — atrocities committed against Serbs were dubbed "silent" on the grounds that they did not receive adequate coverage.[38]

Instances[edit]

In many cases where accusations of ethnic cleansings have circulated, partisans have fiercely disputed such an interpretation and the details of the events which have been described as ethnic cleansing by academic or legal experts. This often leads to the promotion of vastly different versions of the event in question.

Criticism of the term[edit]

Gregory Stanton, the founder of Genocide Watch, has criticised the rise of the term and its use for events that he feels should be called "genocide": as "ethnic cleansing" has no legal definition, its media use can detract attention from events that should be prosecuted as genocide.[39][40] Because of widespread acceptance after media influence, it has become a term used legally, but carries no legal repurcussions as there is no legal definition.

In 1992, the term "ethnic cleansing" (German: Ethnische Säuberung) was named German Un-Word of the Year by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache due to its euphemistic, inappropriate nature.[41]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography, James M. Rubenstein
  2. ^ Thum, Gregor (2006–2007). "Ethnic Cleansing in Eastern Europe after 1945". Contemporary European History 19 (1): 75–81. doi:10.1017/S0960777309990257. 
  3. ^ a b Ken Booth (2012). The Kosovo Tragedy: The Human Rights Dimensions. London: Routledge. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-13633-476-4. 
  4. ^ Philip Ther (2004). "The Spell of the Homogeneous Nation State: Structural Factors and Agents of Ethnic Cleansing". In Rainer Munz; Rainer Ohliger. Diasporas and Ethnic Migrants: Germany, Israel and Russia in Comparative Perspective. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-13575-938-4. 
  5. ^ Tim Judah (1997). The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Yugoslavia. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 75. ISBN 0-300-08507-9. 
  6. ^ a b Toal, Gerard; Dahlman, Carl T. (2011). Bosnia Remade: Ethnic Cleansing and Its Reversal. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-19-973036-0. 
  7. ^ Richard West (1994). Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia. New York: Carroll & Graf. p. 93. ISBN 978-0-7867-0332-6. 
  8. ^ Edina Becirevic (2014). Genocide on the River Drina. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0-3001-9258-2. 
  9. ^ a b Martin, Terry (1998). The Origins of Soviet Ethnic Cleansing. The Journal of Modern History 70 (4), 813–861. pg. 822
  10. ^ Mary Fulbrooke (2004). A Concise History of Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-52154-071-1. 
  11. ^ "Survival of the Fittest". Haaretz. 8 January 2004. Retrieved 28 February 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 (1992), May 27, 1994 (S/1994/674), English page=33, Paragraph 130
  13. ^ "Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  14. ^ [Schabas W. A., 2000, Genocide in International Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.][1]
  15. ^ [Mann M., 2005,The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.][2]
  16. ^ [Naimark, N. 2007, Theoretical Paper: Ethnic Cleansing, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence][3]
  17. ^ Drazen Petrovic, "Ethnic Cleansing – An Attempt at Methodology", European Journal of International Law, Vol. No. 3. Retrieved May 20, 2006.
  18. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn N. (1999). Warrant for Genocide: Key Elements of Turko-Armenian Conflict. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. p. 153. ISBN 1-56000-389-8. 
  19. ^ Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 (1992), May 27, 1994 (S/1994/674), English page=33, Paragraph 129
  20. ^ Hayden, Robert M. (1996) Schindler's Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers. Slavic Review 55 (4), 727-48.
  21. ^ Andrew Bell-Fialkoff, "A Brief History of Ethnic Cleansing", Foreign Affairs 72 (3): 110, Summer 1993. Retrieved May 20, 2006. Archived January 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  22. ^ ECHR Jorgic v. Germany §45 citing Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro ("Case concerning the application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide") the International Court of Justice (ICJ) found under the heading of "intent and 'ethnic cleansing'" § 190[dead link]
  23. ^ "ICTY: Radoslav Brđanin judgement". Archived from the original on April 14, 2009. 
  24. ^ "ICTY: Kordić and Čerkez verdict". Archived from the original on June 27, 2009. 
  25. ^ ICTY; "Address by ICTY President Theodor Meron, at Potočari Memorial Cemetery" The Hague, June 23, 2004 [4] Archived April 3, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "ICTY: Kordić and Čerkez verdict – IV. Attacks on towns and villages: killings – C. The April 1993 Conflagration in Vitez and the Lašva Valley – 3. The Attack on Ahmići (Paragraph 642)". Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. 
  27. ^ US State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993, Abkhazia case.
  28. ^ Chervonnaia, Svetlana Mikhailovna. Conflict in the Caucasus: Georgia, Abkhazia, and the Russian Shadow. Gothic Image Publications, 1994.
  29. ^ US State Department, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1993, February 1994, Chapter 17.
  30. ^ General Assembly Adopts Resolution Recognizing Right Of Return By Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons To Abkhazia, Georgia
  31. ^ Judt, Tony. Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 Penguin Press, 2005
  32. ^ Tony Judt Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 Penguin Press, 2005.
  33. ^ Ward Ferdinandusse, The Interaction of National and International Approaches in the Repression of International Crimes, The European Journal of International Law Vol. 15 no.5 (2004), p. 1042, note 7. Archived July 5, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Archived October 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine., Article 7; Updated Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Article 5. Archived January 13, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  35. ^ Daphna Shraga and Ralph Zacklin "The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia", The European Journal of International Law Vol. 15 no.3 (2004). Archived September 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  36. ^ A/RES/47/80 ""Ethnic cleansing" and racial hatred" United Nations. December 16, 1992. Retrieved on 2006, 09–03
  37. ^ Timothy V. Waters, On the Legal Construction of Ethnic Cleansing, Paper 951, 2006, University of Mississippi School of Law. Retrieved on 2006, 12–13
  38. ^ Krauthammer, Charles: "When Serbs Are 'Cleansed,' Moralists Stay Silent", International Herald Tribune, August 12, 1995.
  39. ^ Blum, Rony; Stanton, Gregory H.; Sagi, Shira; Richter, Elihu D. (2007). "'Ethnic cleansing' bleaches the atrocities of genocide". European Journal of Public Health 18 (2): 204–209. doi:10.1093/eurpub/ckm011. PMID 17513346. 
  40. ^ See also "'Ethnic Cleansing and Genocidal Intent: A Failure of Judicial Interpretation?", Genocide Studies and Prevention 5, 1 (April 2010), Douglas Singleterry
  41. ^ Spiegel Online: Ein Jahr, ein (Un-)Wort! (in German).

Bibliography[edit]

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  • Prauser, Steffen and Rees, Arfon: The Expulsion of the "German" Communities from Eastern Europe at the End of the Second Century. Florence, Italy, European University Institute, 2004.
  • Petrovic, Drazen (1998). "Ethnic Cleansing – An Attempt at Methodology" (PDF). European Journal of International Law 5 (4): 817. 
  • Sundhaussen, Holm (2010). "Forced Ethnic Migration". European History Online. 

External links[edit]