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Skulls at the Nyamata Genocide Memorial Church in Rwanda
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The colorful pseudoscience
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Hating thy neighbour
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A genocide is the attempted destruction of an entire "people," most often a nation or ethnicity. These attempts can range from merely destroying all of the things that make an ethnic group (forced language policies, destruction of history), to forced sterilization of the group (to prevent further generations from being born), to attempts at whole-scale extermination (as was done in the Holocaust.) The word was coined in 1943 by Raphael Lemkin, a Jewish-Polish-British scholar, to describe Ottoman eliminationist policies towards Armenians, which was soon thereafter applied to the Nazi policies of extermination.

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,[1] 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.[2] 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;[3] since Karen culture is patrilineal, this then leads to a drastic reduction in Karen births,[4] to say nothing of the spread of STDs, and intense psychological and physical trauma to the victims.

Official definition[edit]

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:[5][6]

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:
(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.

Article III of the Convention delineates the following acts as punishable:

(a) Genocide;

(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;

(e) Complicity in 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,[7] and the International Court of Justice[8] 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.[9]

DemocideWikipedia's W.svg is a more encompassing concept of genocide that is not bounded by legal definitions.[10][11] Democide includes both intentional and unintentional government-caused killings.[10]

Eight Stages of Genocide[edit]

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:[12]

  1. 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.
  2. 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...
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.)
  8. 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[edit]

List of genocides and other mass murders[edit]

List of genocides[edit]

List of politicides and other genocide-like mass murders[edit]

Disputed examples[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Genocide conspiracy

French wingnut historians Reynald Secher[23] 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.

While the accusations of genocide against Serbian leader Slobodan MiloševićWikipedia's W.svg (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.

Not Genocides[edit]

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.

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.)

Nazi sympathizers may claim that there was a genocide of Germans taking place in Poland in the late 1930s, 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.

Religion and genocide[edit]

See Also Death toll of Christianity

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.[24]

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.[25] [26]

See also[edit]


  1. Such as when the Manchu rulers of China assimilated into Chinese culture.
  2. See the Rome Statute Explanatory Memorandum
  3. Guy Horton, Dying Alive
  4. Martin Smith, Burma: Insurgency and the Politics of Ethnicity
  5. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Approved and proposed for signature and ratification or accession by General Assembly resolution 260 A (III) of 9 December 1948 Entry into force: 12 January 1951, in accordance with article XIII
  6. Genocide United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect
  7. Summary of the ICTY judgement on the case
  8. Summary of the ICJ conclusions on the case
  9. Richard Arens, Genocide in Paraguay (1976)
  10. 10.0 10.1 Democide versus Genocide: Which is What? by R. J. Rummel]
  11. Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 by R. J. Rummel (1997) Routledge. ISBN Routledge.
  12. Genocide Watch, Stanton's Website
  13. Blood and Soil: Ben Kiernan, page 365, 2008
  14. de La Rosa Municio, Juan Luis (January 2006). "El Salvador: Memoria histórica y organización indígena" (in Spanish).
  16. Genocide in Iraq, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  20. Jones, Adam (2016-12-16). "Chapter 2: State and Empire". Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction. Routledge. ISBN 9781317533856.
  21. Powell, Christopher (2011-06-15). Barbaric Civilization: A Critical Sociology of Genocide. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. pp. 238–245. ISBN 9780773585560.,+genocide&source=bl&ots=h2HC2vNegz&sig=8kkn3xtaWT6DdLTMwfQfL0q2GN0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwinwPvj3pzaAhUHq1kKHU7dBkA4ChDoAQg5MAQ#v=onepage&q=1876%20famine%2C%20genocide&f=false
  23. 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.
  25. How Christian fundamentalists plan to teach genocide to schoolchildren
  26. Kill them all, children