Genocides in history
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Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group. The term was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin. It is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) of 1948 as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the groups conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
The preamble to the CPPCG states that "genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world", and it also states that "at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity."
The debate continues over what legally constitutes genocide. One definition is any conflict that the International Criminal Court has so designated. Mohammed Hassan Kakar argues that the definition should include political groups or any group so defined by the perpetrator. He prefers the definition from Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, which defines genocide as "a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group so defined by the perpetrator."
Some scholars have popularly emphasized in literature the role of the Soviet Union to exclude political groups from the international definition based from the Genocide Convention of 1948, and that Joseph Stalin in particular may have feared greater international scrutiny of the country's political killings, such as the Great Purge; however, this is not supported by evidence. The Soviet's views were shared and supported by many diverse countries, and were in line with Raphael Lemkin's original conception,[a] and was originally promoted by the World Jewish Congress.
Genocides before World War I
Analysis of genocides before World War I is the result of modern studies which apply objectivity and fact, while previous accounts of genocides mostly aimed to emphasize one's own superiority. According to Frank Chalk, Helen Fein, and Kurt Jonassohn, if a dominant group of people had little in common with a marginalized group of people, it was easy for the dominant group to define the marginalized group as a subhuman group; the marginalized group might be labeled a threat that must be eliminated.
While the concept of genocide was formulated by Raphael Lemkin in the mid-20th century, the expansion of various European colonial powers such as the British and Spanish empires, and the subsequent establishment of colonies on indigenous territory frequently involved acts of genocidal violence against indigenous groups in the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Asia. According to Lemkin, colonization was in itself "intrinsically genocidal", and he saw this genocide as a two-stage process, the first being the destruction of the indigenous population's way of life. In the second stage, the newcomers impose their way of life on the indigenous group. According to David Maybury-Lewis, imperial and colonial forms of genocide are enacted in two main ways, either through the deliberate clearing of territories of their original inhabitants in order to make them exploitable for purposes of resource extraction or colonial settlements, or through enlisting indigenous peoples as forced laborers in colonial or imperialist projects of resource extraction. The designation of specific events as genocidal is often controversial.
Genocides from World War I through World War II
In 1915, one year after the outbreak of World War I, the concept of crimes against humanity was introduced into international relations for the first time, when the Allies of World War I sent a letter to the government of the Ottoman Empire, a member of the Central Powers, in order to protest against the massacres that were taking place within the empire, among them, the Armenian genocide, the Assyrian genocide, the Greek genocide, and the Great Famine of Mount Lebanon. The Holocaust, the Nazi genocide of 6 million European Jews during World War II, is the most studied genocide and it is also a prototype of genocide; one of the most controversial questions among comparative scholars is the question of the Holocaust's uniqueness, which led to the Historikerstreit in West Germany during the 1980s, and whether there exist historical parallels, which critics believe trivializes it.
Genocide studies started off as a side academic field of Holocaust studies, whose researchers associated genocide with the Holocaust and believed that Raphael Lemkin's definition of genocide was too broad. In 1985, the United Nations' (UN) Whitaker Report cited the massacre of 100,000 to 250,000 Jews in more than 2,000 pogroms which occurred as part of the White Terror during the Russian Civil War as an act of genocide; it also suggested that consideration should be given to ecocide, ethnocide, and cultural genocide.
Genocides from 1946 through 1999
The Genocide Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1948 and came into effect on 12 January 1951. After the necessary twenty countries became parties to the convention, it came into force as international law on 12 January 1951; however, only two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council were parties to the treaty, which caused the convention to languish for over four decades. During the Cold War era, mass atrocities were committed by both anti-communist/capitalist and Communist regimes, among them, the Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66, the 1971 Bangladesh genocide, the Cambodian genocide and the East Timor genocide.
Genocides after 2000
Ad hoc tribunals
In 1951, only two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) were parties to the convention, namely France and the Republic of China. The treaty was ratified by the Soviet Union in 1954, the United Kingdom in 1970, the People's Republic of China in 1983 (having replaced the Taiwan-based Republic of China on the UNSC in 1971), and the United States in 1988. In the 1990s, the international law on the crime of genocide began to be enforced.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In July 1995, Serbian forces killed more than 8,000 Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), mainly men and boys, both in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. The killing was perpetrated by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) which were under the command of General Ratko Mladić. The Secretary-General of the United Nations described the mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War. A paramilitary unit from Serbia known as the Scorpions, officially a part of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 1991, participated in the massacre, along with several hundred Russian and Greek volunteers.
In 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered its first conviction for the crime of genocide, against General Krstić for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre (on appeal he was found not guilty of genocide but was instead found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide).
In February 2007, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) returned a judgement in the Bosnian Genocide Case. It upheld the ICTY's findings that genocide had been committed in and around Srebrenica but did not find that genocide had been committed on the wider territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. The ICJ also ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the genocide nor was it responsible for "aiding and abetting it", although it ruled that Serbia could have done more to prevent the genocide and that Serbia failed to punish the perpetrators. Before this ruling, the term Bosnian Genocide had been used by some academics and human rights officials.
In 2010, Vujadin Popović, Lieutenant Colonel and the Chief of Security of the Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army, and Ljubiša Beara, Colonel and Chief of Security of the same army, were convicted of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution by the ICTY for their role in the Srebrenica massacre and were each sentenced to life in prison. In 2016 and 2017, Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić were sentenced for genocide.
German courts handed down convictions for genocide during the Bosnian War. Novislav Djajic was indicted for his participation in the genocide, but the Higher Regional Court failed to find that there was sufficient certainty for a criminal conviction for genocide. Nevertheless, Djajic was found guilty of 14 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. At Djajic's appeal on 23 May 1997, the Bavarian Appeals Chamber found that acts of genocide were committed in June 1992, confined within the administrative district of Foca. The Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf, in September 1997, handed down a genocide conviction against Nikola Jorgic, a Bosnian Serb from the Doboj region who was the leader of a paramilitary group located in the Doboj region. He was sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment for his involvement in genocidal actions that took place in regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, other than Srebrenica. On 29 November 1999, the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf "condemned Maksim Sokolovic to 9 years in prison for aiding and abetting the crime of genocide and for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions."
The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is a court under the auspices of the United Nations for the prosecution of offences committed in Rwanda during the genocide that occurred there during April and May 1994, commencing on 6 April. The ICTR was created on 8 November 1994 by the UN Security Council to resolve claims in Rwanda, or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between 1 January and 31 December 1994. For approximately 100 days from the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April through mid-July, at least 800,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.
As of mid-2011, the ICTR had convicted 57 people and acquitted 8. Another ten persons were still on trial while one is awaiting trial. Nine remain at large. The first trial, of Jean-Paul Akayesu, ended in 1998 with his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity. This was the world's first conviction for genocide, as defined by the 1948 Convention. Jean Kambanda, interim Prime Minister during the genocide, pleaded guilty.
The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, Ta Mok, and other leaders, organized the mass killing of ideologically suspect groups, ethnic minorities such as ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese (or Sino-Khmers), Chams, and Thais, former civil servants, former government soldiers, Buddhist monks, secular intellectuals and professionals, and former city dwellers. Khmer Rouge cadres defeated in factional struggles were also liquidated in purges. Man-made famine and slave labor resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths. Craig Etcheson suggested that the death toll was between 2 and 2.5 million, with a "most likely" figure of 2.2 million. After five years of researching 20,000 grave sites, he concluded that "these mass graves contain the remains of 1,386,734 victims of execution." Some scholars argued that the Khmer Rouge were not racist and had no intention of exterminating ethnic minorities or the Cambodian people; in this view, their brutality was the product of an extreme version of communist ideology.
On 6 June 2003, the Cambodian government and the United Nations reached an agreement to set up the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which would focus exclusively on crimes committed by the most senior Khmer Rouge officials during the period of Khmer Rouge rule of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. The judges were sworn in during early July 2006.
The investigating judges were presented with the names of five possible suspects by the prosecution on 18 July 2007.
- Kang Kek Iew was formally charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity and detained by the Tribunal on 31 July 2007. He was indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on 12 August 2008. His appeal was rejected on 3 February 2012, and he continued serving a sentence of life imprisonment.
- Nuon Chea, a former prime minister, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 19 September 2007. His trial began on 27 June 2011. On 16 November 2018, he was sentenced to a life in prison for genocide.
- Khieu Samphan, a former head of state, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 19 September 2007. His trial also began on 27 June 2011. On 16 November 2018, he was sentenced to a life in prison for genocide.
- Ieng Sary, a former foreign minister, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 12 November 2007. His trial began on 27 June 2011. He died in March 2013.
- Ieng Thirith, wife of Ieng Sary and a former minister for social affairs, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. She was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 12 November 2007. Proceedings against her have been suspended pending a health evaluation.
Some of the international jurists and the Cambodian government disagreed over whether any other people should be tried by the Tribunal.
International Criminal Court
The ongoing racial conflict in Darfur, Sudan, which started in 2003, was declared a genocide by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell on 9 September 2004 in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Since that time however, no other permanent member of the UN Security Council has followed suit. In January 2005, an International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1564 of 2004, issued a report stating that "the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide." Nevertheless, the Commission cautioned that "The conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the Government authorities, directly or through the militias under their control, should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes perpetrated in that region. International offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide."
In March 2005, the Security Council formally referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, taking into account the Commission report but without mentioning any specific crimes. Two permanent members of the Security Council, the United States and China, abstained from the vote on the referral resolution. As of his fourth report to the Security Council, the Prosecutor found "reasonable grounds to believe that the individuals identified [in the UN Security Council Resolution 1593] have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes", but did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute for genocide.
In April 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants against the former Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmad Harun, and a Janjaweed militia leader, Ali Kushayb, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. On 14 July 2008, the ICC filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Prosecutors claimed that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity. On 4 March 2009, the ICC issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest for crimes against humanity and war crimes, but not for genocide. This is the first warrant issued by the ICC against a sitting head of state.
- Anti-communist mass killings
- Anti-Mongolianism § State-sponsored genocides by the Russian Empire/Soviet Russia, Imperial China/Communist China
- Black genocide – the notion that African Americans have been subjected to genocide
- Colonialism and genocide
- Command responsibility
- Crimes against humanity
- Crimes against humanity under communist regimes
- Democide – murder by government, includes historical genocides and politicides
- Ethnocide - Ethnic cleansing
- Genocide of indigenous peoples
- Genocide of Christians by the Islamic State
- Genocide of Yazidis by the Islamic State
- Persecution of Shias by the Islamic State
- Genocide denial
- Genocide recognition politics
- Genocide studies
- The Holocaust
- Human rights
- International humanitarian law
- International law
- Psychology of genocide
- List of ethnic cleansing campaigns
- List of events named massacres
- List of genocides by death toll
- Mass killings under communist regimes
- War crime
- By 1951, Lemkin was saying that the Soviet Union was the only state that could be indicted for genocide, his concept of genocide, as outlined in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, covering Stalinist deportations as genocide by default, and differing in many ways from the adopted Genocide Convention. From a 21st-century perspective, it was such a broad coverage that it would include any grossly human rights violation as genocide, and that many events deemed by Lemkin genocidal did not amount to genocide. As the Cold War began, this change was the result of Lemkin's turn to anti-communism in an attempt to convince the United States to ratify the Genocide Convention.
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