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Political cleansing of population

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(Redirected from Politicide)

Political cleansing of a population is the elimination of categories of people in specific areas for political reasons. The means may vary and include forced migration, ethnic cleansing and population transfers.

Genocide Convention


Under the Genocide Convention, political groups are not a protected group if they are targeted with an intent to destroy the political group even if they share an ethnic, national or religious identity.[1][2][3]

Raphael Lemkin personally insisted against the inclusion of political groups in the Convention.[4] Lemkin wrote in his autobiography: "We in Latin America make revolutions from time to time, which involves the destruction of political opponents. Then we reconcile and live in peace. Later the group in power is thrown out in another revolution. Why should this be classified as the crime of genocide?"[3]

Protection of political groups was eliminated from the United Nations resolution after a second vote because many states, including Stalin's Soviet Union,[5] anticipated that clause to apply unneeded limitations to their right to suppress internal disturbances.[6][7] The reason given was that the protected groups were immutable, which scholars point out is unlikely, since religious and national affiliation are not immutable.[4]

Efforts to have political groups added to the Convention have been unsuccessful.[8]

Scholarly study of genocide usually acknowledges the United Nations omission of economic and political groups, and uses mass political killing datasets of democide, and genocide and politicide, or geno-politicide.[9] Killings by the Khmer Rouge in Democratic Kampuchea have been labeled genocide or autogenocide, and the deaths under Leninism and Stalinism in the Soviet Union, and Maoism in Communist China have been controversially investigated as possible cases; the Soviet famine of 1932–1933 and the Great Chinese Famine during the Great Leap Forward have been controversially "depicted as instances of mass killing underpinned by genocidal intent."[10]



Politicide is the deliberate physical destruction or elimination of a group whose members share the main characteristic of belonging to a political movement. It is a type of political repression and one of the means used to politically cleanse populations, another being forced migration. It may be compared to genocide or ethnic cleansing, both of which involve the killing of people based on their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group rather than their adherence to a particular ideology.[citation needed]

Politicide is used to describe the killing of groups that are not covered by the Genocide Convention.[11] Social scientists Ted Robert Gurr and Barbara Harff use politicide to describe the killing of groups of people who are targeted not because of their shared ethnic or communal traits, but because of "their hierarchical position or political opposition to the regime and dominant groups."[citation needed] Harff studies genocide and politicide, sometimes shortened as geno-politicide, in order to include the killing of political, economic, ethnic and cultural groups.[12] Manus Midlarsky uses politicide to describe an arc of large-scale killing from the western parts of the Soviet Union to China and Cambodia.[13] In his book The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, Midlarsky raises similarities between the killings perpetrated by Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.[14]

Typical reasons


Some groups attempt to eliminate the base of support for political opponents such as insurgents. This happens in many countries with high levels of insurgency such as Colombia.[15] It may be a means for and referred to as pacification.[16]

See also



  1. ^ "About the genocide convention" (PDF). United Nations. The definition contained in Article II of the Convention describes genocide as a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part. It does not include political groups or so called "cultural genocide".
  2. ^ Strandberg Hassellind, Filip (2020). "Groups Defined by Gender and the Genocide Convention". Genocide Studies and Prevention. 14 (1): 60–75. doi:10.5038/1911-9933.14.1.1679. Retrieved 3 July 2024. Thus, interpreting the crime as a departure from a "formalist" interpretation of the provision, genocide cannot be committed towards groups defined by gender. The victims, moreover, must be chosen based on their membership to such a collective with the intent to destroy the group "in whole or in part."
  3. ^ a b Bachman, Jeffrey S. (16 September 2022). The Politics of Genocide: From the Genocide Convention to the Responsibility to Protect. Rutgers University Press. p. 45-46. ISBN 978-1-978821-50-7. Through the inclusion of some groups and the omission of others, the convention is limited in its application to only those guilty acts committed with genocidal intent against the groups it specifies...Not only are political groups unprotected by the convention, but their omission from the treaty also creates a blind spot in its coverage into which those groups that are protected can be pushed.
  4. ^ a b Bazyler, Michael J. (2017). Holocaust, Genocide, and the Law: A Quest for Justice in a Post-Holocaust World. Oxford University Press. p. 46-7. ISBN 978-0-19-066403-9.
  5. ^ Jones, Adam (2010). Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-415-48619-4. According to Jones: "Also unsurprisingly, it was the settler-colonial regimes who were most anxious to exclude cultural genocide from the Genocide Convention, as Raphael Lemkin’s biographer John Cooper points out." pp. 102.
  6. ^ Schaack, Beth (1997). "The Crime of Political Genocide: Repairing the Genocide Convention's Blind Spot". The Yale Law Journal. 106 (7): 2259–2291. doi:10.2307/797169. JSTOR 797169.ISSN 0044-0094
  7. ^ Staub, Ervin (June 2000). "Genocide and Mass Killing: Origins, Prevention, Healing and Reconciliation". Political Psychology. 21 (2): 367–382. doi:10.1111/0162-895X.00193. JSTOR 3791796.ISSN 1467-9221
  8. ^ Brown, Bartram S. (2011). Research Handbook on International Criminal Law. Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN 978-0-85793-322-5.
  9. ^ Atsushi, Tago; Wayman, Frank W. (January 2010). "Explaining the Onset of Mass Killing, 1949–87". Journal of Peace Research Online. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications. 47 (1): 3–13. doi:10.1177/0022343309342944. JSTOR 25654524. S2CID 145155872.
  10. ^ Williams, Paul (2008). Security Studies: An Introduction Archived 20 November 2020 at the Wayback Machine. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 321. ISBN 978-0-415-42561-2.
  11. ^ Harff, Barbara; Gurr, Ted Robert (September 1988). "Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement of Cases since 1945". International Studies Quarterly. Wiley on behalf of The International Studies Association. 32 (3): 359–371. doi:10.2307/2600447. JSTOR 2600447. ISSN 0020-8833.
  12. ^ Wayman, Frank W.; Tago, Atsushi (January 2010). "Explaining the Onset of Mass killing, 1949–87". Journal of Peace Research Online. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications. 47 (1): 3–13. doi:10.1177/0022343309342944. JSTOR 25654524. S2CID 145155872. ISSN 0022-3433. "The two important scholars who have created datasets related to this are Rummel (1995) and Harff (2003). Harff (sometimes with Gurr) has studied what she terms 'genocide and politicide', defined to be genocide by killing as understood by the Genocide Convention plus the killing of a political or economic group (Harff & Gurr, 1988); the combined list of genocides is sometimes labeled 'geno-politicide' for short. Rummel (1994, 1995) has a very similar concept, 'democide', which includes such genocide and geno-politicide done by the government forces, plus other killing by government forces, such as random killing not targeted at a particular group. As Rummel (1995: 3-4) says, 'Cold-blooded government killing ... extends beyond genocide'; For example, 'shooting political opponents; or murdering by quota'. Hence, 'to cover all such murder as well as genocide and politicide, I use the concept democide. This is the intentional killing of people by government' (Rummel, 1995: 4). So Rummel has a broader concept than geno-politicide, but one that seems to include geno-politicide as a proper subset." Quote at p. 4.
  13. ^ Midlarsky, Manus (2005). The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century Archived 30 July 2023 at the Wayback Machine. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 22, 309–310. ISBN 978-0-521-81545-1.
  14. ^ Midlarsky, Manus (2005). The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century Archived 30 July 2023 at the Wayback Machine. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 321. ISBN 978-0-521-81545-1.
  15. ^ Otis, John (17 October 1999). "'Political cleansing' in Colombia rising". colombiasupport.net. Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on 15 May 2001.
  16. ^ Davis, Diane E.; Anthony W. Pereira, eds. (2003). Irregular Armed Forces and their Role in Politics and State Formation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-139-43998-5. Retrieved 30 November 2016.

Further reading