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Whether action constitutes genocide depends on the breadth of the definition. Some forms of mass murder, as with undeniably preventable famines such as the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 or the Great Chinese Famine (1958-62) might not be deemed genocide, but take as many lives as the events recognized as genocide. From a legal point of view, mass killings that don't fit the definition of genocide are generally still Crimes against Humanity.
It should be noted that, without coercion of some sort, there is no genocide. Therefore, completely peaceful assimilation of one group into another cannot be considered genocide, nor can intermarriage between groups, despite what some people say. In the wake of the Rwandan genocide, however, large-scale rape, when carried out to destroy or break up a group as described below, is beginning to become seen as an act of genocide as well. This would considerably (and, arguably, justifiably) expand the definition and range of the crime of genocide - in Burma's Karen provinces, for example, Burmese soldiers are ordered to rape Karen women; since Karen culture is patrilineal, this then leads to a drastic reduction in Karen births, to say nothing of the spread of STDs, and intense psychological and physical trauma to the victims.
The internationally recognised, legal definition of genocide may be found in Article II of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide:
“”In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:
Article III of the Convention delineates the following acts as punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
The issue of what constitutes a part of an ethnic group, however, is a contested legal problem — would it be an act of genocide if I killed a single member of group 'X', if she was the only X on my street and I wanted to make my street a 'Y'-only neighbourhood? Cases of this sort would technically fall under the remit of the above law, but are not usually treated as genocide. Hundreds of thousands of deaths are not necessary to reach a verdict of genocide, either, with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the International Court of Justice agreeing that it had taken place in the Srebrenica massacre, in which only 8,000 were killed. Furthermore, the massacre of 900 Ache Indians between 1968 and 1972 in Paraguay under the authoritarian regime of Alfredo Stroessner is considered a case of genocide.
Eight Stages of Genocide
Gregory Stanton published a paper entitled The Eight Stages of Genocide and presented it to the US State Department, the UN, and various other political bodies around the world. He outlined ways we identify true "genocide." While it is important for addressing questions like "Was the conquering of Native Americans, Native Canadians and Native South Americans a 'genocide' or was it simply the result of dominance in military actions," the Eight Stages of Genocide also have a far more practical and important point. That is. identifying future genocides and preventing them before they happen again:
- Classification - People separate themselves into "us/them" groups. This may initially be done on even terms and accepted by both parties, as with the African Tribal associations in Rwanda. This is a universal attribute of all societies and does not necessarily result in genocide. All societies have categories to distinguish between groups of people with different common denominators (skin color, ethnicity, race, religion, nationality). Countries which are considered "bipolar" in that there are no mixed categories (such as Burundi and Rwanda) are considered the most likely to have genocides.
- Symbolization - Like classification, this is universally human as all societies apply symbols to members of a group. Symbolization becomes dangerous and becomes a stage in genocide when it is infused with hatred or feelings of superiority by another group, for example, one or both groups may begin to use hate speech, develop symbols (usually derogatory) to represent the "other," which can lead to the next stage...
- Dehumanization - A society goes from simply defining another group as "not us" to being "vermin," "insects," "plagues," "parasites," "subhuman" or "animals." This works in genocide by overcoming empathy towards a group, making it possible to violate or kill members of the group without remorse.
- Organization - Stanton suggests that a true genocide is always organized as such, with people in power invoking violence on others, pushing the rhetoric with words like "destroy" or "remove" the "other," or and "cleanse" and purify the "us." In many modern cases from, Rwanda to China, military units were trained specifically to systematically destroy a culture and therefore the people.
- Polarization - Polarizing hate speech steps up; rhetoric becomes common and normal, and it is usually associated with the violence of terms like "cleanse." Moderates are assassinated to silence the center and render it passive. Moderates slow down the cycle and are usually the first to go. As a result of polarizing hate speech and repression of moderates, the false dilemma of "us and them" is engrained in the public consciousness. Laws may be enacted forbidding intermarriage or social interaction between the two groups.
- Preparation - (perhaps better understood as separation or isolation) The group in power begins to ward off, isolate, or even capture the "other." At this point, victim groups are fully aware that it is not simply about rights or freedom, but their very life as a community or people. Examples of preparation include the "ghettoization" of Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe.
- Extermination - (It should be noted that Stanton uses this term deliberately because in his research the criminal party sees the victim population as bugs, viruses, etc., to be exterminated. They are not humans to be killed or murdered.)
- Denial - The final stage is denial, where the perpetrators attempt to deny, suppress details of, or even attempt to rationalize the genocide (stifling investigations, destroying evidence, and victim blaming are common tactics).
Examples of genocide
- The killing and enslavement of the Chatham Islands Moriori at the hands of Taranaki Maori invaders beginning in 1835.
- The mass extermination of the Buddhist Dzungar people by the Qing dynasty of China.
- The American Indian Genocide.
- The treatment of indigenous Central Asians in Siberia after its conquest by Tsarist Russia.
- Japanese efforts to eliminate the Ainu.
- King Leopold II of Belgium's exploitation of the Congo.
- Germany's destruction of the Herero and Namaqua people in colonial Namibia (making it the first genocide of the 20th century).
- The forcible abduction of Aborginal children from their parents by Australia. Some also count the initial British colonisation and frontier wars as genocide in a similar manner to the American Indian Genocide, though as in that case, the majority of deaths (315,000-1.25 million reduced to 50,000-90,000) were due to introduction of European diseases rather than direct violence.
- The Aghet (Catastrophe), conducted by the Ottoman Empire on the Armenians. (see Armenian Genocide denial)
- The Sayfo (literally "sword", referring the "Year of the Sword") conducted by the Ottoman Empire on the Assyrians.
- The Greek genocide, conducted by the Ottoman Empire on the Christian Ottoman Greek population.
- The massacre of Haitians committed by the Dominican Republic under President Rafael Trujillo.
- The targeted killing of Kurdish villagers by Turkey.
- The de-Cossackization and forced removal of Chechens and Ingush in the Soviet Union.
- The Holodomor which saw the mass starvation of Ukrainians under Stalin.
- The Holocaust, the most infamous (and the most industrialized) examples done by Nazi Germany.
- Additional Nazi genocide directed against the Slavic peoples, particularly in Poland and Russia.
- The Asian Holocaust, the Japanese genocide directed at essentially every country in the Pacific and Far East other than Japan, particularly China.
- The the massacres in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia against the Polish conducted by Ukrainian Nationalists.
- The Croatian Ustaše's killings of Serbs, Jews, and Roma during World War II.
- The Great Bengal Famine of 1943 committed by Winston Churchill's administration.
- Guatemala's targeting and killing of Mayan peasants during the Guatemalan Civil War (1960-1996).
- The absolutely staggering death toll in China during the Great Leap Forward, which may have involved up to 55 million deaths from a combination of famine (arguably deliberately exacerbated) and deliberate action, and the destruction of more homes than any of the bombing campaigns in WW2.
- Indonesian atrocities in East Timor and West Papua (modern-day Papua providence) during the Suharto regime.
- Indonesian massacres of Communist sympathizers in 1965 during the Suharto regime.
- The Igbo targeted killings and starvation of the Biafra people by the Nigerian government during the Nigerian Civil War.
- The Cambodian genocide, conducted by the Khmer Rouge. Sometimes referred to as "Auto-Genocide" since the perpetrators and most of the victims were of the same ethnicity, although the regime especially targeted Sino-Cambodians and ethnic Vietnamese.
- Operation Condor, started in 1968 (and officially activated in 1975), was a campaign of repression and state terror against anyone vaguely left-wing, mainly communists, socialists, and critics of the neo-fascist Latin American military juntas who carried out the killings. Anchored by Henry Kissinger, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay all planned, trained for, and carried out the deaths of 60,000–80,000 suspected leftist sympathizers and over 400,000 politically motivated arrests. This ended by the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
- The systematic mass murder of civilians by the Pakistani army in 1971 in East Pakistan.
- The Anfal campaign against Kurds during the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s.
- The Burundian genocides which include the 1972 mass killings of Hutus by the Tutsis and the 1993 mass killings of the Tutsis by the Hutus.
- The "ethnic cleansing" practiced in post-Cold War Yugoslavia, notably the Srebrenica massacre.
- The Rwandan genocide, done to Tutsis by the Hutus. Anti-genocide Hutus were also murdered.
- The genocide in Darfur, Sudan committed by the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias against non-Arabs.
- Daesh's killing of thousands of Yazidis at Mount Sinjar in Iraqi Kurdistan.
- The persecution of Rohingya Muslims, including ethnic cleansing, in Rakhine by Myanmar forces.  
- Ramzan Kadyrov's "gay concentration camps" in Chechnya.
French wingnut historians Reynald Secher and Pierre Chaunu have argued that the War in the Vendée, which occurred when Catholic royalists revolted against the Republican government during the French Revolution qualifies as the first "modern" genocide. While it is universally accepted that atrocities were committed during the counter-revolution, this view that this conflict was truly a targeted extermination has been widely rejected by mainstream historians in both the United States and France, and the Vendéen revolt fails to satisfy the UN or Stanton's definitions of genocide. Western sources that support the "Vendéen genocide" theory universally cite Secher's work as their sole justification. Proponents of classifying the War in the Vendée as genocide in France are almost exclusively Breton separatists, neo-fascist wackjobs, or royalists seeking a return to the monarchy.
In the Anglosphere, white supremacists like to claim that Affirmative Action, interracial relationships, and pretty much everything else are attempts to create genocide of the so-called "white race," despite ignoring current rates in demographics. Members of Black supremacy movements as well as certain individuals in the anti-choice crowd occasionally make the claim that abortion is a method of back-door genocide against minorities. (They also ignore current rates in demographics.)
While the accusations of genocide against Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević (who, let's face it, was a despicable excuse for a human being) were one of the reasons for the 1999 war to liberate Kosovo from Serbian rule, later findings support ethnic atrocities (by both sides) but not necessarily genocide. However, given the nature of this debate, the place where it happened and the recency of events, this is still a controversial topic.
Racists often promote the conspiracy theory that there is a genocide against white people. Usually this comes in the form of claims that the increase in immigration from third world nations is some sort of Zionist/Illuminati/Freemason/Socialist/Liberal plot to cause the demographic destruction of the white race. Aside from being absolutely absurd, this wouldn't even qualify as genocide anyways, as there is no plan to kill white people. It is also not unusual for white nationalists to claim that there is an ongoing genocide of white people in South Africa, initiated by Nelson Mandela. Ironically, Israel was one of the last states to cut ties with Apartheid South Africa, yet they will often claim that the Jews are the ones behind this evil liberal conspiracy.
Nazi sympathizers may claim that there was a genocide of Germans taking place in Poland in the late 1930's, citing forged evidence from the Nazi Party as evidence for this supposed genocide. This, they argue, was a justification for the German invasion of Poland, and therefore the allies were the aggressors. It is yet to be established what the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, or Norway did that would warrant a German invasion if the Nazis were truly acting in "self-defence".
While it is well established that the Armenian Genocide and the Holodomor took place, white nationalists will often try to blame the Jews for both of these genocides.
It is often claimed by more radical supporters of the Palestinian cause that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people, or did so in 1948. It is still highly debated among historians as to what exactly took place in the Israeli War of Independence, and it is well known that many atrocities took place, but few, if any serious historians claim that the Jews committed genocide. Most historians on the topic will argue that the Palestinians either left out of fear, were told to leave by Arab leaders, were expelled by Zionist forces, or a combination of the three, but there is no evidence to suggest that there was a deliberate attempt by the Jews to murder the Palestinian people. If this was their attempt, they have failed miserably.
Some people claim that what Israel is doing today is a modern day genocide. However, while there is little doubt that Israel has committed war crimes (as have the Palestinians), there is no evidence to suggest that what Israel is doing constitutes genocide. While not case closed evidence, population figures for Gaza and the West Bank seem to indicate no genocide taking place, as Arab and Muslim population figures have shown nothing but increases since 1967.
Religion and genocide
Genocide can often be couched in religious terms. The centuries of pogroms preceding the Holocaust, for example, were religiously motivated by the idea that the Jews were collectively guilty of killing Jesus. Many also attempted to justify the U.S.'s American Indian policy in the 19th and 20th centuries by citing the tribes' refusal to convert to Christianity. This belief is still held by some professed fundamentalists, e.g., Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association.
Certain parts of the Old Testament of the Bible are often cited as a model for this sort of genocide. The best-known example is in the Book of Joshua, where the Israelites, finally coming into possession of their "land of milk and honey," at God's command conquer thirty-one kingdoms, killing all the kings, men, women, and children.
Another example, used by the Puritans of New England to justify battles against American Indians, is found in 1 Samuel 15: God tells King Saul to annihilate an enemy population, the Amalekites, but Saul does not carry out this command perfectly — he spares their king and a few of their tastier morsels of livestock. God proceeds to get very angry at him for this insubordination. The story of the Amalekites is featured in Bible study courses put on by the Good News Clubs, as an illustrative example to American schoolchildren of the necessity of obeying God in all particulars. 
- Race war, for conspiracy theories about hypothetical genocide
- Such as when the Manchu rulers of China assimilated into Chinese culture.
- See the Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum
- Guy Horton, Dying Alive
- Martin Smith, Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity
- Summary of the ICTY judgement on the case
- Summary of the ICJ conclusions on the case
- Richard Arens, Genocide in Paraguay (1976)
- Genocide Watch, Stanton's Website
- [www.cis.yale.edu/gsp/colonial/belgian_congo/ Congo Free State, 1885-1908], Genocide Studies Program.
- Genocide in Iraq, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- His book The French Genocide: the Vendée explicitly draws comparisons between French Catholics and Jews in Nazi Germany, despite the fact that both sides of the conflict were predominantly Catholic.
- How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren
- Kill them all, children