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 from forced migration to genocide.[citation needed]


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 would not otherwise be covered by the Genocide Convention.[1] 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.[2] Manus Midlarsky uses politicide to describe an arc of large-scale killing from the western parts of the Soviet Union to China and Cambodia.[3] In his book The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, Midlarsky raises similarities between the killings perpetrated by Joseph Stalin and Pol Pot.[4]

Under the Genocide Convention, the crime of genocide generally[citation needed] applies to mass murder of ethnic rather than political or social groups. 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] 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.[8] 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."[9]

Typical reasons[edit]

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.[10] It may be a means for and referred to as pacification.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Midlarsky, Manus (2005). The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 22, 309–310. ISBN 978-0-521-81545-1.
  4. ^ Midlarsky, Manus (2005). The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 321. ISBN 978-0-521-81545-1.
  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. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Williams, Paul (2008). Security Studies: An Introduction. London: Taylor & Francis. p. 321. ISBN 978-0-415-42561-2.
  10. ^ Otis, John (17 October 1999). "'Political cleansing' in Colombia rising". colombiasupport.net. Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on 15 May 2001.
  11. ^ 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[edit]