While the word “Genocide” got traction and relevance since World War II, the world has been experiencing it long before that. Many countries are the witness of its dangerous effect. Victim is always a minority, weak and vulnerable Community. Let us understand the history, phycology and possible solutions to end or avoid “Genocide” in future.
“Genocide” is defined as the “worst crime against the humanity.” It is intentional action to exterminate a group of people in whole or in a part by their ethnicity, nationality, religion, or racial base. The word “Genocide” first used in World War II when the Nazi regime brutally murdered millions of European Jews.
The term was coined by Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, an adviser to the US Department of War during World War II, in his book “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe” in 1944. It consists of the Greek word “genos” means race or tribe and a Latin word “cide” means killing.
Lemkin was successful to convince the world to recognize “Genocide” as an international crime after the horror incident of Holocaust with a campaign. On 11 December 1946, a declaration by General Assembly of the United Nations in its resolution 96(I) recognised genocide as a crime under international law. In resolution 260 A(III) of 9 December 1948, it was codified as an independent crime in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which entered into the forces in 1951.
Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines “Genocide” 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:
(a) Killing members of the group
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
Millions of men, women and children have lost their lives in Genocides or mass exterminations in last 120 years. Following are some of such mass killings described in some historic examples.
The first 20th century genocide or the Armenian Genocide is also known as the Armenian Holocaust. It was the ruthless destruction of millions (Around 1.5 million) of ethnic Armenians and many more forcibly removed from the country by Young Turk government of Ottoman Empire during the World War I (1915-23).
In 1933 when Germany’s Nazi Party came into the power, they implemented a plan called by Hitler “Final Solution”. The strategy behind the plan was to torture, murder and genocide purposefully to ethnically purify Germany. Around six million Jews (two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population) were killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators across German occupied Europe between 1941 and 1945.
A group of communist known as Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot seized the control of Cambodia in 1975. They set their goal to turn the country into a communist agrarian utopia and immediately emptying the cities. As a result, about 1.8 – 2.0 million people were killed between 1975 and 1979.
Between 7th April to 15th July 1994, in just 100 days over 800,000 Tutsis, Twas and moderate Hutus were killed by the Hutu ethnic majority in Rwanda. It was the quickest killing in history that the world has ever seen.
After declaring independence by the government of the Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina from Yugoslavia in April 1992, and over the next several years the Bosnian Serb forces started ethnic cleansing campaign across the areas resulted 100,000 Bosniak (Bosnian Muslim) and Croatian civilians were killed by 1995.
Darfur Genocide is the first genocide of 21st century began in 2003, Western Sudan. According to the UN estimation, about 300,000 people were killed in 2013, and by 2015 the estimation stood between 100,000 – 400,000 and many more were displaced.
Stages of Genocide
In 1996 after Rwanda Genocide, the eight stages of Genocide was first described by Dr. Gregory H. Stanton President, Genocide Watch and professor of George Mason University and latter it expanded to ten stages. The stages are as follows;
- Classification: It is the primary procedure of dividing society. Distinguish people into “Us or Them” by their ethnicity, nationality, race or religion.
- Symbolization: When people are divided with their name, language, color, type of dress and religious symbol etc., they are given different symbols for easier identification. Like, separate schools or classrooms for separate groups.
The yellow star for Jews under Nazi Rule and blue-checked scarves for the Eastern Zone of Khmer Rouge Cambodia, are the examples of how they used to divide people.
iii. Discrimination: Dominant groups use power to influence and alter Laws, customs and political power equations. The targeted groups become powerless, loss civil rights or voting rights and even citizenship.
- Dehumanization: In this stage, one group denies the humanity of the other group. It spreads through hate speeches and propagate through Media. Members of other group are described and labeled with animal, vermin and diseases, etc. During Rwanda genocide message like “kill the cockroaches”, “if the disease is not treated, it will destroy all the Hutu” was used.
- Organization: Genocide is well organized group crime. The state often led the organization and supports by providing arms and money.
- Polarization: Extremists drive the groups apart. Introduced law against intermarriage and social interaction, cultural centre of targeted group are attack.
vii. Preparation: A proper plan prepare for genocide such as list of victims, identifying houses, weapons are stocks and separate of their ethnic or religious identity and force to wear identifying symbol.
viii. Persecution: After identifying victims they are separated out and sent then to ghettoes, concentration camps. Their human rights are abused and suffering from food and water.
ix. Extermination: The final solution is extermination. It starts mass killing of people where the killers don’t believe that the victims are fully human and it is called “Genocide”.
- Denial: The last stage of genocide is Denial. Those who committed genocide deny that there was any mass killing and they are responsible for it. They destroy the evidences, question and minimize the statistics, and kill the eyewitnesses.
There are preventive measures if steps are taken at the right time, the damage can be prevented. Take a quick look how we can prevent to happen this kind of crime –
Promote common identity, languages, commonality and harmony
Oppose the racist politicians and political parties
Symbol for any reason should be ban
Ban the TV and radio station which promote Genocide
Organized group works against Hatemongering and Genocide to provide legal and social justice to victims families
Stop supporting such kind of organization which are providing financial or arms supports to such hatemongering and genocide culpri
The Article is written by Asif Karim who is a student of BSc in Medical Microbiology, Dehradun. He aspires to be civil servant and contributes in national building.