Genocides in history

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Skulls of victims of the Rwandan genocide Rwandan Genocide Murambi skulls.jpg
Skulls of victims of the Rwandan genocide

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious or national group. The term was coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin. It is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) of 1948 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: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the groups conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group." [1]


The preamble to the CPPCG states that "genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world" and that "at all periods of history genocide has inflicted great losses on humanity." [1]

Determining what historical events constitute a genocide and which are merely criminal or inhuman behavior is not a clear-cut matter. In nearly every case where accusations of genocide have circulated, partisans of various sides have fiercely disputed the details and interpretation of the event, often to the point of depicting wildly different versions of the facts.

Alternate definitions

The debate continues over what legally constitutes genocide. One definition is any conflict that the International Criminal Court has so designated. Many conflicts that have been labeled genocide in the popular press have not been so designated. [2]

M. Hassan Kakar [3] argued that the definition should include political groups or any group so defined by the perpetrator. He prefers the definition from Chalk and Jonassohn: "Genocide is a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group so defined by the perpetrator." [4]

Some critics[ who? ] of the international definition argued that the definition was influenced by Joseph Stalin to exclude political groups. [5] [6]

According to R. J. Rummel, genocide has multiple meanings. The ordinary meaning is murder by a government of people due to their national, ethnic, racial, or religious group membership. The legal meaning is defined by CCPG. This includes actions such as preventing births or forcibly transferring children to another group. Rummel created the term democide to include assaults on political groups. [7]

In this article, atrocities that have been characterized as genocide by some reliable source are included, whether or not this is supported by mainstream scholarship. The acts may involve mass killings, mass deportations, politicides, democides, withholding of food and/or other necessities of life, death by deliberate exposure to invasive infectious disease agents or combinations of these. Thus examples listed may constitute genocide by the United Nations definition, or by one of the alternate interpretations.

Pre–World War I

According to Canadian scholar Adam Jones, if a dominant group of people has little in common with a marginalized group of people, it is easy for the dominant group to define the other as subhuman. As a result, the marginalized group might be labeled as a threat that must be eliminated. [8] Jones continues: "The difficulty, as Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn pointed out in their early study, is that such historical records as exist are ambiguous and undependable. While history today is generally written with some fealty to 'objective' facts, most previous accounts aimed rather to praise the writer's patron (normally the leader) and to emphasize the superiority of one's own gods and religious beliefs." [9]

Chalk and Jonassohn: "Historically and anthropologically peoples have always had a name for themselves. In a great many cases, that name meant 'the people' to set the owners of that name off against all other people who were considered of lesser quality in some way. If the differences between the people and some other society were particularly large in terms of religion, language, manners, customs, and so on, then such others were seen as less than fully human: pagans, savages, or even animals." [10]

Before 1490


Hypotheses which suggest that genocidal violence may have caused the extinction of the Neanderthals have been offered by several authors, including Jared Diamond [11] and Ronald Wright. [12] However, several scholars have formed alternative theories as to why the Neanderthals died off, which means there is no clear consensus as to what caused their extinction within the scientific community. [13]


Genocide was the norm in the form of warfare that was waged by chiefdoms. The outcome, if it was decisive, was the total annihilation of the vanquished side. [14]

Ancient gendercides

Scholars of antiquity differentiate genocide from gendercide, in which groups of people were conquered and the males who belonged to the conquered groups were killed but the children (particularly girls) and women were incorporated into the conquering groups. Jones notes, "Chalk and Jonassohn provide a wide-ranging selection of historical events such as the Assyrian Empire's root-and branch depredations in the first half of the first millennium BCE, and the destruction of Melos by Athens during the Peloponnesian War (fifth century BCE), a gendercidal rampage described by Thucydides in his 'Melian Dialogue'". [15] The Old Testament documents the destruction of the Midianites, taking place during the life of Moses in the 2nd millennium BCE. The Book of Numbers chapter 31 recounts that an army of Israelites killed every Midianite man but captured the women and children as plunder. These were later killed at the command of Moses, with the exception of girls who were virgins. The total number killed is not recorded but the number of surviving girls is recorded by the Book of Numbers as 32,000.

Hebrew genocide

According to the Hebrew Bible, Moses and Joshua annihilated the Canaanites (Numbers 21:2-3; Deuteronomy 20:17; Joshua 6:17, 21) and Saul annihilated the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). These two accounts are in accord with chiefdom-level warfare as it is described by Anthropologist Robert Carneiro. [16] The twelve Israelite tribes formed what anthropologists term a chiefdom and the two parallel accounts suggests the historicity of the events.

Destruction of Carthage

Ben Kiernan has labelled the destruction of Carthage at the end of the Third Punic War (149–146 BCE) "The First Genocide". [15]

Asiatic Vespers

In 88 BC, King Mithridates VI of Pontus ordered the murder of all Italians in Asia Minor resulting in the deaths of about 100,000, mainly civilians. This action provoked the Romans leading to the First Mithridatic War.


A 2010 study suggests that a group of Anasazi in the American Southwest were killed in a genocide that took place circa 800 CE. [17] [18]

Mongol Empire

Quoting Eric Margolis, Jones observes that in the 13th century the Mongol armies under Genghis Khan were genocidal killers [19] who were known to eradicate whole nations. [20] He ordered the extermination of the Tata Mongols, and all Kankalis males in Bukhara "taller than a wheel" [21] using a technique called measuring against the linchpin. In the end, half of the Mongol tribes were exterminated by Genghis Khan. [22] Rosanne Klass referred to the Mongols' rule of Afghanistan as "genocide". [23]


Similarly, the Turko-Mongol conqueror Tamerlane was known for his extreme brutality and his conquests were accompanied by genocidal massacres. [24] William Rubinstein wrote: "In Assyria (1393–4)—Tamerlane got around—he killed all the Christians he could find, including everyone in the, then, Christian city of Tikrit, thus virtually destroying Assyrian Church of the East. Impartially, however, Tamerlane also slaughtered Shi'ite Muslims, Jews and heathens." [25] Christianity in Mesopotamia was hitherto largely confined to those Assyrian communities in the north who had survived the massacres. [26] Tamerlane also conducted large-scale massacres of Georgian and Armenian Christians, as well as of Arabs, Persians and Turks. [27]

Wu Hu and Jie

Ancient Chinese texts record that General Ran Min ordered the extermination of the Wu Hu, especially the Jie people, during the Wei–Jie war in the fourth century AD. The Jie were an ethnic group with racial characteristics of high-bridged noses and bushy beards were easily identified and killed; in total, 200,000 were reportedly massacred. [28]

1490 to 1914

The Hamidian massacres were massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the mid-1890s, with estimates of the dead ranging from 80,000 to 300,000. Armenia22hamidian.jpg
The Hamidian massacres were massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during the mid-1890s, with estimates of the dead ranging from 80,000 to 300,000.



From 1885 to 1908, the Congo Free State in central Africa was privately controlled by Leopold II of Belgium, who extracted a fortune from the land by the use of forced labor of natives. Under his regime, there were 2 to 15 million deaths among the Congolese people. [29] [30] [31] [32] Deliberate killings, abusive punishments, and general exploitation were major causes of the deaths. As in the colonization of the Americas, European diseases, hitherto unknown in the region, also led to a considerable number of deaths. Because the main motive for the killings was financial gain, it has been debated whether the term genocide describes these atrocities well; however, Robert Weisbord wrote in the Journal of Genocide Research in 2003 that attempting to eliminate a portion of the population is enough to qualify as genocide under the UN convention. [32] Reports of the atrocities led to a major international scandal in the early 20th century, and Leopold was ultimately forced in 1908 by the Belgian government to relinquish control of the colony to the civil administration. [33] [34]

Ethiopia under Menelik II (1889–1913)

During its military conquest, centralization and incorporation of territories into Ethiopia as decreed by Menelik II, his army carried out genocidal [35] [36] atrocities against civilians and combatants including torture, mass killings and the imposition of large scale slavery. [37] [36] Large scale atrocities were also committed against the Dizi people and the people of the Kaficho kingdom. [38] [39] Some estimates of the number of people who were killed in the atrocities that were committed during the war and the famine which coincided with it go into the millions. [37] [40] [41] [42] According to Alexander Bulatovich, Menelik's Russian military aide, Menelik's armies "dreadfully annihilated more than half" of the Oromo (Galla) population down to 5 million people, which "took away from the Galla all possibility of thinking about any sort of uprising." [43] Eshete Gemeda put the death toll even higher at 6 million. [41]

These deaths may have also been caused by the great famine of 1888 to 1892, which was the worst famine in the region's history; a third of Ethiopia's total population of 12 million was killed according to some estimates. [44] The famine was caused by rinderpest, an infectious viral cattle disease which wiped out most of the national livestock, killing over 90% of the cattle. The population of native cattle had no prior exposure to the disease and as a result, it was unable to fight it off. [45] Despite the violence of the conquest some historians stress the fact that before the centralization process was completed, Ethiopia was devastated by numerous wars, the most recent of which was fought in the 16th century. In the intervening period, military tactics had not changed much. In the 16th century the Portuguese Bermudes documented depopulation and widespread atrocities against civilians and combatants (including torture, mass killings and the imposition of large scale slavery) during several successive Aba Gedas' Gadaa conquests of territories which were located north of the Genale river (Bali, Amhara, Gafat, Damot, Adal). [46] [47] Warfare in the region essentially involved acquiring cattle and slaves, winning additional territories, gaining control of trade routes and carrying out ritual requirements or securing trophies to prove masculinity. [48] [49] [50] [51] [52] Wars were fought between people who might be members of the same linguistic group, religion and culture, or between unrelated tribes. Centralization greatly reduced these continuous wars; minimizing the loss of lives, raids, destruction and slavery that had previously been the norm. [52] [53] [54] [55] [56]

French conquest of Algeria
Pacification of Algeria Prise de la Zaatcha (1849).png
Pacification of Algeria

Ben Kiernan wrote in his book Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur on the French conquest of Algeria, that within 3 decades of the French conquest of Algeria in 1830, war, famine and disease[ citation needed ] had reduced the original population from 3 million by a figure ranging from 500,000 to 1,000,000. [57]

'By 1875, the French conquest was complete. The war had killed approximately 825,000 indigenous Algerians since 1830. A long shadow of genocidal hatred persisted, provoking the French author to protest in 1882 that in Algeria, "we hear it repeated every day that we must expel the native and if necessary destroy him." As a French statistical journal urged five years later, "the system of extermination must give way to a policy of penetration." [58]

In response to France's recognition of Armenian Genocide, Turkey accused France of committing genocide against 15% of Algeria's population. [59] [60]

German South West Africa

The Herero and Namaqua peoples of present-day Namibia endured a genocidal persecution between 1904 and 1907 while their homeland was under colonial rule as German South West Africa. [61] Large percentages of their populations perished in a brutal scorched earth campaign led by German General Lothar von Trotha. An estimated 10,000 Namaqua were killed, [62] with estimates for the Herero ranging from 60,000 and 100,000. [63]

A copy of Trotha's Extermination Order survives in the Botswana National Archives. The order states "every Herero, with or without a gun, with or without cattle, will be shot. I will no longer accept women or children, I will drive them back to their people [to die in the desert] or let them be shot at." [64] Olusoga and Erichsen write: "It is an almost unique document: an explicit, written declaration of intent to commit genocide." [65]

Zulu Kingdom

Between 1810 and 1828, the Zulu kingdom under Shaka Zulu laid waste to large parts of present-day South Africa and Zimbabwe. Zulu armies often aimed not only at defeating enemies but at their total destruction. Those exterminated included prisoners of war, women, children and even dogs. [66] (Controversial) estimates for the death toll range from 1 million to 2 million. [67] [68] [69] [70]


Mass grave burial of Native Americans at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890 Woundedknee1891.jpg
Mass grave burial of Native Americans at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890

According to historian David Stannard, over the course of more than four centuries "from the 1490s into the 1890s, Europeans and white Americans engaged in an unbroken string of genocide campaigns against the native peoples of the Americas." Stannard writes that the native population had been reduced savagely by invasions of European plague and violence and that by around 1900 only one-third of one percent of America's population–250,000 out of 76,000,000 people–were natives. He calls it "the worst human holocaust the world had ever witnessed", and it leveled off because "there was, at last, almost no one left to kill." [71] On January 20, 1513, Vasco Núñez de Balboa wrote to the king advocating genocide against the native population in the Caribbean. Balboa slayed hundreds in Caribbean villages. The crown later withdrew support and Balboa was executed in 1519. [72] Raphael Lemkin (coiner of the term genocide) considered colonial abuses of the Native population of the Americas to constitute cultural and even outright genocide including the abuses of the Encomienda system. He described slavery as "cultural genocide par excellence" noting "it is the most effective and thorough method of destroying culture, of desocializing human beings." He considers colonist guilty due to failing to halt the abuses of the system despite royal orders. He also notes the sexual abuse of Spanish colonizers of Native women as acts of "biological genocide." [73] [74] In this vein, Stannard described the encomienda as a genocidal system which "had driven many millions of native peoples in Central and South America to early and agonizing deaths." [75] Jason Hickel, anthropologist at the London School of Economics, asserts that during Spanish rule of Hispaniola, many Arawaks died from lethal forced labor in the mines, in which a third of workers died every six months and that within two years of the arrival of Christopher Columbus half the population of Hispaniola had been killed. [76] According to anthropologist Russell Thornton, for the American Indians "the arrival of the Europeans marked the beginning of a long holocaust, although it came not in ovens, as it did for the Jews. The fires that consumed North America Indians were the fevers brought on by newly encountered diseases, the flashes of settlers' and soldiers' guns, the ravages of "firewater," the flames of villages and fields burned by the scorched-earth policy of vengeful Euro-Americans." [77] Some authors, including Holocaust scholar David Cesarani, have argued that United States government policies in furtherance of its so-called Manifest Destiny constituted genocide. [78]

Some historians disagree that genocide, defined as a crime of intent, should be used to describe the colonization experience. Stafford Poole, a research historian, wrote: "There are other terms to describe what happened in the Western Hemisphere, but genocide is not one of them. It is a good propaganda term in an age where slogans and shouting have replaced reflection and learning, but to use it in this context is to cheapen both the word itself and the appalling experiences of the Jews and Armenians, to mention but two of the major victims of this century." [79] Noble David Cook, writing about the Black Legend and the conquest of the Americas wrote, "There were too few Spaniards to have killed the millions who were reported to have died in the first century after Old and New World contact". He instead estimates that the death toll was caused by diseases like smallpox, [80] which according to some estimates had an 80–90% fatality rate in Native American populations. [81] Political scientist Guenter Lewy says "even if up to 90 percent of the reduction in Indian population was the result of disease, that leaves a sizable death toll caused by mistreatment and violence." [82] Native American Studies professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz opposes these viewpoints and says, "Proponents of the default position emphasize attrition by disease despite other causes equally deadly, if not more so. In doing so they refuse to accept that the colonization of America was genocidal by plan, not simply the tragic fate of populations lacking immunity to disease. In the case of the Jewish Holocaust, no one denies that more Jews died of starvation, overwork, and disease under Nazi incarceration than died in gas ovens, yet the acts of creating and maintaining the conditions that led to those deaths clearly constitute genocide." [83] Historian Andrés Reséndez argues that even though the Spanish were aware of the spread of smallpox, they made no mention of it until 1519, a quarter century after Columbus arrived in Hispaniola. [84] Instead he contends that enslavement in gold and silver mines was the primary reason why the Native American population of Hispaniola dropped so significantly. [85] [84] and that even though disease was a factor, the native population would have rebounded the same way Europeans did following the Black Death if it were not for the constant enslavement they were subject to. [84] He further contends that enslavement of Native Americans was in fact the primary cause of their depopulation; [84] that the majority of Indians enslaved were women and children compared to the enslavement of Africans which mostly targeted adult males and in turn they were sold at a 50% to 60% higher price, [86] and that 2,462,000 to 4,985,000 Amerindians where enslaved between Columbus's arrival and 1900. [87] [86]

Several works on the subject were released around the year 1992 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage. In 2003, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez urged Latin Americans not to celebrate the Columbus Day holiday. Chavez blamed Columbus for spearheading "the biggest invasion and genocide ever seen in the history of humanity." [88]

The colonization of the Americas killed so many people it contributed to climate change and global cooling, according to scientists from University College London. [89] [90]


The Conquest of the Desert was a military campaign mainly directed by General Julio Argentino Roca in the 1870s, which established Argentine dominance over Patagonia, then inhabited by indigenous peoples, killing more than 1,300. [91]

Contemporary sources indicate that it was a deliberate genocide by the Argentine government. [92] Others perceived the campaign as intending to suppress only groups of aboriginals that refused to submit to the government and carried out attacks on European settlements. [93] [94]


The Indian (First Nation) residential schools were primarily active following the passage of the Indian Act in 1876, until 1996, and were designed to remove children from the influence of their families and culture, and assimilate them into the dominant Canadian culture. Over the course of the system's existence, about 30% of native children, or roughly 150,000, were placed in residential schools nationally; at least 6,000 of these students died while in attendance. [95] [96] The system has been described as cultural genocide: "killing the Indian in the child." [97] [98] [99] The Executive Summary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that physical genocide, biological genocide, and cultural genocide all occurred: physical, through abuse; biological, through the disruption of reproductive capacity; and cultural, through forced assimilation. [100] [101] Part of this process during the 1960s through the 1980s, dubbed the Sixties Scoop, was investigated and the child seizures deemed genocidal by Judge Edwin Kimelman, who wrote, "You took a child from his or her specific culture and you placed him into a foreign culture without any [counselling] assistance to the family which had the child. There is something dramatically and basically wrong with that." [102]


Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the first ruler of an independent Haiti, ordered the killing of the white population of French creoles on Haiti, which culminated in the 1804 Haiti massacre. According to Philippe Girard, "when the genocide was over, Haiti's white population was virtually non-existent." [103]

Graph of population decline in central Mexico caused by successive epidemics Acuna-Soto EID-v8n4p360 Fig1.png
Graph of population decline in central Mexico caused by successive epidemics

The Caste War of Yucatán (approx. 1847–1901) against the population of European descent, known locally as Yucatecos , who held political and economic control of the region. Adam Jones wrote: "Genocidal atrocities on both sides cost up to 200,000 killed." [104]

In 1835, Don Ignacio Zuniga, commander of the presidios of northern Sonora, asserted that since 1820, the Apaches had killed at least 5,000 Mexican settlers in retaliation for land encroachments in Apachería . The State of Sonora then offered a bounty on Apache scalps in 1835. Beginning in 1837, the State of Chihuahua also offered a bounty of 100 pesos per warrior, 50 pesos per woman and 25 pesos per child. [105]


The Mexican government's response to the various uprisings of the Yaqui tribe have been likened to genocide particularly under Porfirio Diaz. [106] By the end of Diaz's rule at least 20,000 Yaquis were killed in Sonora and their population was reduced from 30,000 to 7,000. Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he'd be willing to offer apologies for the abuses in 2019. [107]


The Beothuks attempted to avoid contact with Europeans in Newfoundland by moving from their traditional settlements. [108] The Beothuks were put into a position where they were forced from their traditional land and lifestyle into ecosystems that could not support them and that led to undernourishment and eventually starvation. [109] While some scholars believe that the Beothuk primarily died out due to the elements noted above, another theory is that Europeans conducted a sustained campaign of genocide against them. [110] They were officially declared "extinct" after the death of Shanawdithit in 1829 in the capital, St. John's, where she had been taken.


"The indigenous rebellions of Túpac Amaru II and Túpac Katari against the Spanish between 1780 and 1782, cost over 100,000 colonists' lives in Peru and Upper Peru (present-day Bolivia)." [111]

United States

Native American Studies professor Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz states that US history, as well as inherited Indigenous trauma, cannot be understood without dealing with the genocide that the United States committed against Indigenous peoples. From the colonial period through the founding of the United States and continuing in the twentieth century, this has entailed torture, terror, sexual abuse, massacres, systematic military occupations, removals of Indigenous peoples from their ancestral territories, forced removal of Native American children to military-like boarding schools, allotment, and a policy of termination. [112]

In 1763, British militia's William Trent and Simeon Ecuyer gave smallpox-exposed blankets to Native American emissaries as gifts at Siege of Fort Pitt, "to Convey the Smallpox to the Indians", in one of the most famously documented cases of germ warfare. While it is uncertain how successful such attempts were against the target population, [113] historians have noted that, "history records numerous instances of the French, the Spanish, the British, and later on the American, using smallpox as an ignoble means to an end. For smallpox was more feared by the Indian than the bullet: he could be exterminated and subjugated more easily and quickly by the death-bringing virus than by the weapons of the white man." [114] The leader of this battle, British High Commander Jeffery Amherst authorized the intentional use of disease as a biological weapon against indigenous populations, saying, "You will Do well to try to Innoculate the Indians by means of Blanketts, as well as to try Every other method that can serve to Extirpate this Execrable Race", and instructing his subordinates, "I need only Add, I Wish to Hear of no prisoners should any of the villains be met with arms." [115] [116]

President Abraham Lincoln ordered the mass execution of 38 Native Americans in Minnesota for revolt against the government in 1862 MankatoMN38.JPG
President Abraham Lincoln ordered the mass execution of 38 Native Americans in Minnesota for revolt against the government in 1862

During the American Indian Wars, the United States Army carried out a number of massacres and forced relocations of Indigenous peoples, acts that some scholars say constitute genocide. The Sand Creek Massacre, which caused outrage in its own time, has been called genocide. General John Chivington led a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia in a massacre of 70–163 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho, about two-thirds of whom were women, children, and infants. Chivington and his men took scalps and other body parts as trophies, including human fetuses and male and female genitalia. [117] In defense of his actions Chivington stated,

Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! ... I have come to kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians. ... Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice.

Col. John Milton Chivington, U.S. Army [118]

A study by Gregory Michno concluded that of 21,586 tabulated casualties in a selected 672 battles and skirmishes, military personnel and settlers accounted for 6,596 (31%), while indigenous casualties totaled about 14,990 (69%) for the period 1850–90. Michno's study almost exclusively uses Army estimates. His follow-up book "Forgotten Battles and Skirmishes" covers over 300 additional fights not included in these statistics. [119]

According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1894), between 1789 and 1846, "The Indian wars under the government of the United States have been more than 40 in number. They have cost the lives of about 19,000 white men, women and children, including those killed in individual combats, and the lives of about 30,000 Indians. The actual number of killed and wounded Indians must be very much higher than the given... Fifty percent additional would be a safe estimate..." [120] In the same 1894 report, the Census Bureau dismissed assertions that millions of Native Americans once inhabited what is now the United States, insisting instead that North America in 1492 was an almost empty continent, and "guesstimating" that aboriginal populations "could not have exceeded much over 500,000", whereas modern scholarship now estimates more than 10 million. [121] [122]

Chalk and Jonassohn argued that the deportation of the Cherokee tribe along the Trail of Tears would almost certainly be considered an act of genocide today. [123] The Indian Removal Act of 1830 led to the exodus. About 17,000 Cherokees—along with approximately 2,000 Cherokee-owned black slaves—were removed from their homes. [124] The number of people who died as a result of the Trail of Tears has been variously estimated. American doctor and missionary Elizur Butler, who made the journey with one party, estimated 4,000 deaths. [125] Historians David Stannard [126] and Barbara Mann [127] have noted that the army deliberately routed the march of the Cherokee to pass through areas of known cholera epidemic, such as Vicksburg. Stannard estimates that during the forced removal from their homelands, following the Indian Removal Act signed into law by President Andrew Jackson in 1830, 8000 Cherokee died, about half the total population. [126]

Archaeologist and anthropologist Ann F. Ramenofsky writes, "Variola Major can be transmitted through contaminated articles such as clothing or blankets. In the nineteenth century, the U. S. Army sent contaminated blankets to Native Americans, especially Plains groups, to control the Indian problem." [128] While specific responsibility for the 1836-40 smallpox epidemic remains in question, scholars have asserted that the Great Plains epidemic was "started among the tribes of the upper Missouri River by failure to quarantine steam boats on the river", [114] and Captain Pratt of the St. Peter "was guilty of contributing to the deaths of thousands of innocent people. The law calls his offense criminal negligence. Yet in light of all the deaths, the almost complete annihilation of the Mandans, and the terrible suffering the region endured, the label criminal negligence is benign, hardly befitting an action that had such horrendous consequences." [129] Leading genocide expert Dirk Moses attributes "the genocide of many Native American tribes" including the Mandans, to governmental assimilationist policies that coexisted with officially or unofficially sanctioned efforts "to eradicate, diminish, or forcibly evict the 'savages'". [130] When smallpox swept the northern plains of the US in 1837, Secretary of War Lewis Cass ordered that the Mandan (along with the Arikara, the Cree, and the Blackfeet) not be given smallpox vaccinations, which had been provided to other tribes in other areas. [131] [132] [133]

The U.S. colonization of California started in earnest in 1849, and it resulted in a large number of state-subsidized massacres of Native Americans by colonists in the territory, causing several ethnic groups to be entirely wiped out. In one such series of conflicts, the so-called Mendocino War and the subsequent Round Valley War, the entirety of the Yuki people were brought to the brink of extinction, from a previous population of some 3,500 people to fewer than 100. According to Russell Thornton, estimates of the pre-Columbian population of California were at least 310,000, and perhaps as high as 705,000. By 1849, due to Spanish and Mexican colonization and epidemics this number had decreased to 100,000. But from 1849 and up until 1890 the Indigenous population of California had fallen below 20,000, primarily because of the killings. [134] In An American Genocide, The United States and the California Catastrophe, 1846–1873, Historian Benjamin Madley recorded the number of killings of California Indians that occurred between 1846 and 1873. He found evidence that during this period, at least 9,400 to 16,000 California Indians were killed by non-Indians. Most of these killings occurred in more than 370 massacres (defined as the "intentional killing of five or more disarmed combatants or largely unarmed noncombatants, including women, children, and prisoners, whether in the context of a battle or otherwise"). [135] 10,000 Indians were also kidnapped and sold as slaves. [136] In a speech before representatives of Native American peoples in June, 2019, California governor Gavin Newsom apologized for the genocide. Newsom said, "That’s what it was, a genocide. No other way to describe it. And that’s the way it needs to be described in the history books." [137]



Abdur Rahman's subjugation of the Hazara ethnic group in the late nineteenth century due to their fierce rebellion against the Afghan king gave birth to an intense feeling of hatred between the Pashtun and the Hazara that would last for years to come. Massive forced displacements, especially in Oruzgan and Daychopan, continued as lands were confiscated and populations were expelled or fled. Some 35,000 families fled to northern Afghanistan, Mashhad (Iran) and Quetta (Pakistan). It is estimated that more than 60% [138] of the Hazara were either massacred or displaced during Abdur Rahman's campaign against them. Hazara farmers were often forced to give up their property to Pashtuns [138] and as a result many Hazara families had to move seasonally to the major cities in Afghanistan, Iran, or Pakistan in order to find jobs and sources of income. Quetta in Pakistan is home to the third largest settlements of Hazara outside Afghanistan.

British rule of India and elsewhere

Mike Davis argues in his book Late Victorian Holocausts that quote; "Millions died, not outside the 'modern world system', but in the very process of being forcibly incorporated into its economic and political structures. They died in the golden age of Liberal Capitalism; indeed many were the theological application of the sacred principles of Smith, Bentham, and Mill." [139]

Famine stricken people during the famine of 1876-78 in Bengal WWHooperFamine1876-78GroupOfEmaciaedMenandOneWoman.jpg
Famine stricken people during the famine of 1876–78 in Bengal

David characterizes the Indian famines under the British Raj, such as the Great Bengal famine of 1770 or the Great Famine of 1876-78 which took over 15 million lives as "colonial genocide." Some scholars, including Niall Ferguson, have disputed this judgement, while others, including Adam Jones, have affirmed it. [140] [141]

Dzungar genocide

The Dzungar (or Zunghar), Oirat Mongols who lived in an area that stretched from the west end of the Great Wall of China to present-day eastern Kazakhstan and from present-day northern Kyrgyzstan to southern Siberia (most of which is located in present-day Xinjiang), were the last nomadic empire to threaten China, which they did from the early 17th century through the middle of the 18th century. [142] After a series of inconclusive military conflicts that started in the 1680s, the Dzungars were subjugated by the Manchu-led Qing dynasty (1644–1911) in the late 1750s. According to Qing scholar Wei Yuan, 40 percent of the 600,000 Zunghar people were killed by smallpox, 20 percent fled to Russia or sought refuge among the Kazakh tribes and 30 percent were killed by the Qing army of Manchu Bannermen and Khalkha Mongols. [143] [144]

Historian Michael Edmund Clarke has argued that the Qing campaign in 1757–58 "amounted to the complete destruction of not only the Zunghar state but of the Zunghars as a people". [145] Historian Peter Perdue has attributed the decimation of the Dzungars to a "deliberate use of massacre" and has described it as an "ethnic genocide". [146] Mark Levene, a historian of genocide, [147] has stated that the extermination of the Dzungars was "arguably the eighteenth century genocide par excellence". [148]

Japanese colonization of Hokkaido

The Ainu are an indigenous people in Japan (Hokkaidō). [149] In a 2009 news story, Japan Today reported, "Many Ainu were forced to work, essentially as slaves, for Wajin (ethnic Japanese), resulting in the breakup of families and the introduction of smallpox, measles, cholera and tuberculosis into their communities. In 1869, after the Battle of Hakodate during the Boshin War, the new Meiji government renamed the Republic of Ezo Hokkaido, whose boundaries were formed by former members of the Tokugawa shogunate, and together with lands where the Ainu lived, they were unilaterally incorporated into Japan. It banned the Ainu language, took Ainu lands away, and prohibited the Ainu from engaging in salmon fishing and deer hunting." [150] Roy Thomas wrote: "Ill treatment of native peoples is common to all colonial powers, and, at its worst, leads to genocide. Japan's native people, the Ainu, have, however, been the object of a particularly cruel hoax, because the Japanese have refused to accept them officially as a separate minority people." [151] In 2004, the small Ainu community living in Russia wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin, urging him to recognize Japanese behavior against the Ainu people as genocide, which Putin declined to do. [152]

Ottoman Empire

Child victims of a massacre awaiting burial in an Armenian cemetery in Erzurum, 1895 Armenian children massacred(ALT).jpg
Child victims of a massacre awaiting burial in an Armenian cemetery in Erzurum, 1895

During the April Uprising in Bulgaria against Ottoman rule, over 15,000 non-combatant Bulgarian civilians were massacred by the Ottoman army between 1876 and 1878, with the worst single incident being the Batak massacre. [153] [154] [155]

Armenians, Assyrians, Greeks

The Massacres of Badr Khan were conducted by Kurdish and Ottoman forces against the Assyrian Christian population of the Ottoman Empire between 1843 and 1847, resulting in the slaughter of more than 10,000 indigenous Assyrian civilians of the Hakkari region, with many thousands more sold into slavery. [156] [157]

Between 1894 and 1896 a series of ethno-religiously motivated Anti-Christian pogroms known as the Hamidian massacres were conducted against the ancient Armenian and Assyrian Christian populations by the forces of the Ottoman Empire. [158] The massacres mainly took place in what is today south eastern Turkey, north eastern Syria and northern Iraq. The death toll is estimated to have been as high as 325,000 people, [159] [160] with a further 546,000 Armenians and Assyrians made destitute by forced deportations of survivors from cities, and the destruction or theft of almost 2500 of their farmsteads towns and villages. Hundreds of churches and monasteries were also destroyed or forcibly converted into mosques. [161]

The Adana massacre occurred in the Adana Vilayet of the Ottoman Empire in April 1909. A massacre of Armenian and Assyrian Christians in the city of Adana and its surrounds amidst the Ottoman countercoup of 1909 led to a series of anti-Christian pogroms throughout the province. [162] Reports estimated that the Adana Province massacres resulted in the deaths of as many as 30,000 Armenians and 1,500 Assyrians. [163] [164] [165]

From 1913 to 1923, the Greek genocide, Assyrian genocide, and Armenian genocide took place in the Ottoman Empire. Some historians consider these genocides to be a single event and refer to them as the late Ottoman genocides. [166] [167] [168]

Russian Empire

The Russian Tsarist Empire waged war against Circassia in the Northwest Caucasus for more than one hundred years, trying to replace Circassia's hold along the Black Sea coast. After a century of insurgency and war and failure to end the conflict, the Tsar ordered the expulsion of most of the Muslim population of the North Caucasus. Many Circassians, Western historians, Turks and Chechens claimed that the events of the 1860s constituted one of the first modern genocides, in which a whole population was eliminated in order to satisfy the desires (in this case economic) of a powerful country.[ citation needed ]

Antero Leitzinger flagged the affair the 19th century's largest genocide. [169] Some estimates cite that approximately 1–1.5 million Circassians were killed and most of the Muslim population was deported. Ossete Muslims and Kabardins generally did not leave. The modern Circassians and Abazins are descended from those who managed to escape the onslaught and another 1.5 million Circassians and others later returned. This effectively annihilated (or deported) 90% of the nation. [170] Tsarist documents recorded more than 400,000 Circassians killed, 497,000 forced to flee and only 80,000 were left in their native area. [171] Circassians were viewed as tools by the Ottoman government, and settled in restive areas whose populations had nationalist yearnings—Armenia, the Arab regions and the Balkans. Many more Circassians were killed by the policies of the Balkan states, primarily Serbia and Bulgaria, which became independent at that time.[ citation needed ] Still more Circassians were forcefully assimilated by nationalist Muslim states (Turkey, Syria, Iraq, etc.) who looked upon non-Turk/Arab ethnicity as a foreign presence and a threat.

In May 1994, the then Russian President Boris Yeltsin admitted that resistance to the tsarist forces was legitimate, but he did not recognize "the guilt of the tsarist government for the genocide". [171] In 1997 and 1998, the leaders of Kabardino-Balkaria and of Adygea sent appeals to the Duma to reconsider the situation and to apologize, without response. In October 2006, the Adygeyan public organizations of Russia, Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Syria, the US, Belgium, Canada and Germany sent the president of the European Parliament a letter with a request to recognize the genocide.[ citation needed ]

On 5 July 2005, the Circassian Congress, an organisation that unites representatives of the various Circassian peoples in the Russian Federation, called on Moscow to acknowledge and apologize for the genocide. [172]


In 1916 in the territory which is currently named Urkun, Kyrgyzstanis launched an uprising against Tsarist Russia. A public commission in Kyrgyzstan called the crackdown of 1916 in which 100,000 to 270,000 Kyrgyzstanis were killed a genocide though Russia rejected this characterization. [173] Russian sources put the death toll at 3,000. [174]



Antiziganism (Attempted extirpations of Romani/Gypsies)

There have been several attempts to extirpate Romani (Gypsies) throughout the history of Europe:

In 1545, the Diet of Augsburg declared that "whosoever kills a Gypsy (Romani), will be guilty of no murder". [175] The subsequent massive killing spree which took place across the empire later prompted the government to step in to "forbid the drowning of Romani women and children". [176]

In England, the Egyptians Act 1530 banned Romani from entering the country and it also required those Romani who were already living in the country to leave it within 16 days. Failure to do so could result in the confiscation of their property, their imprisonment and deportation. The act was amended with the Egyptians Act 1554, which directed that they abandon their "naughty, idle and ungodly life and company" and adopt a settled lifestyle. For those Romani who failed to adhere to a sedentary existence, the Privy council interpreted the act in a way that permitted the execution of non-complying Romani "as a warning to others". [177]

In 1710, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, issued an edict against the Romani, ordering "that all adult males were to be hanged without trial, whereas women and young males were to be flogged and banished forever." [178] Additionally, in the kingdom of Bohemia, the right ears of Romani men were to be cut off; in the March of Moravia, their left ears were to be cut off. In other parts of Austria, they would be branded on the back with a branding iron, representing the gallows. These mutilations enabled the authorities to identify the individuals as Romani on their second arrest. [178] The edict encouraged local officials to hunt down Romani in their areas by levying a fine of 100 Reichsthaler on those who failed to do so. [178] Anyone who helped Romani was to be punished by doing forced labor for half a year. [178] The result was mass killings of Romani across the Holy Roman empire. [178] In 1721, Charles VI amended the decree to include the execution of adult female Romani, while children were "to be put in hospitals for education". [178]

In 1774, Maria Theresa of Austria issued an edict which forbade marriages between Romani. When a Romani woman married a non-Romani man, she had to produce proof of "industrious household service and familiarity with Catholic tenets", a male Rom "had to prove his ability to support a wife and children", and "Gypsy children over the age of five were to be taken away and brought up in non-Romani families." [179]

13th-century extermination of the Cathars

The Albigensian Crusade or the Cathar Crusade (1209–1229) was a 20-year military campaign initiated by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism in Languedoc, in southern France. The Crusade was primarily prosecuted by the French crown and it promptly took on a political flavour, resulting not only in a significant reduction in the number of practising Cathars, but also in a realignment of the County of Toulouse in Languedoc, bringing it into the sphere of the French crown and diminishing the distinct regional culture and high level of influence of the Counts of Barcelona.

Pope Innocent III excommunicating the Albigensians (left). Massacre against the Albigensians by the crusaders (right). Albigensian Crusade 01.jpg
Pope Innocent III excommunicating the Albigensians (left). Massacre against the Albigensians by the crusaders (right).

Raphael Lemkin, who in the 20th century coined the word "genocide", [180] referred to the Albigensian Crusade as "one of the most conclusive cases of genocide in religious history". [181] Mark Gregory Pegg writes that "The Albigensian Crusade ushered genocide into the West by linking divine salvation to mass murder, by making slaughter as loving an act as His sacrifice on the cross." [182] Robert E. Lerner argues that Pegg's classification of the Albigensian Crusade as a genocide is inappropriate, on the grounds that it "was proclaimed against unbelievers ... not against a 'genus' or people; those who joined the crusade had no intention of annihilating the population of southern France ... If Pegg wishes to connect the Albigensian Crusade to modern ethnic slaughter, well—words fail me (as they do him)." [183] Laurence Marvin is not as dismissive as Lerner regarding Pegg's contention that the Albigensian Crusade was a genocide; he does however take issue with Pegg's argument that the Albigensian Crusade formed an important historical precedent for later genocides including the Holocaust. [184]

Kurt Jonassohn and Karin Solveig Björnson describe the Albigensian Crusade as "the first ideological genocide". [185] Kurt Jonassohn and Frank Chalk (who together founded the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies) include a detailed case study of the Albigensian Crusade in their genocide studies textbook The History and Sociology of Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies, authored by Strayer and Malise Ruthven. [186]

Huguenot persecutions
Mass shootings at Nantes, 1793 Fusillades de Nantes.jpg
Mass shootings at Nantes, 1793

In 1986, Reynald Secher argued that the actions of the French republican government during the revolt in the Vendée (1793–1796), a popular mostly Catholic uprising against the anti-clerical Republican government during the French Revolution was the first modern genocide. [187] Secher's claims caused a minor uproar in France and mainstream authorities rejected Secher's claims. [188] [189] Timothy Tackett countered that "the Vendée was a tragic civil war with endless horrors committed by both sides—initiated, in fact, by the rebels themselves. The Vendeans were no more blameless than were the republicans. The use of the word genocide is wholly inaccurate and inappropriate." [190] However, historians Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn consider the Vendée a case of genocide. [191] Historian Pierre Chaunu called the Vendée the first ideological genocide. [192] Adam Jones estimates that 150,000 Vendeans died in what he also considers a genocide. [193]

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

The Khmelnytsky Uprising (Polish : Powstanie Chmielnickiego; Lithuanian : Chmelnickio sukilimas; Ukrainian : повстання Богдана Хмельницького; Russian : восстание Богдана Хмельницкого; also known as the Cossack-Polish War, [194] the Chmielnicki Uprising, or the Khmelnytsky insurrection [195] ) was a Cossack rebellion within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1648–1657, which led to the creation of a Cossack Hetmanate in Ukrainian lands. Under the command of Hetman Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the Zaporozhian Cossacks, allied with the Crimean Tatars and local peasantry, fought against the armies and paramilitary forces of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The insurgency was accompanied by mass atrocities committed by Cossacks against the civilian population, especially against the Roman Catholic clergy and the Jews. In Jewish history, the Uprising is known for the concomitant outrages against the Jews who, in their capacity as leaseholders ( arendators ), were seen by the peasants as their immediate oppressors. [196] [197]

Most Jewish communities in the rebellious Hetmanate were devastated by the uprising and ensuing massacres, though occasionally a Jewish population was spared, notably after the capture of the town of Brody (the population of which was 70% Jewish). According to the book known as History of the Rus , Khmelnytsky's rationale was largely mercantile and the Jews of Brody, which was a major trading centre, were judged to be useful "for turnovers and profits" and thus they were only required to pay "moderate indemnities" in kind. [198]

Although many modern sources still give estimates of Jews killed in the uprising at 100,000 [199] or more, [200] others put the numbers killed at between 40,000 and 100,000, [201] and recent academic studies have argued fatalities were even lower.

A 2003 study by Israeli demographer Shaul Stampfer of Hebrew University dedicated solely to the issue of Jewish casualties in the uprising concludes that 18,000–20,000 Jews were killed of a total population of 40,000. [202] Paul Robert Magocsi states that Jewish chroniclers of the 17th century "provide invariably inflated figures with respect to the loss of life among the Jewish population of Ukraine. The numbers range from 60,000–80,000 (Nathan Hannover) to 100,000 (Sabbatai Cohen), but that "[t]he Israeli scholars Shmuel Ettinger and Bernard D. Weinryb speak instead of the 'annihilation of tens of thousands of Jewish lives', and the Ukrainian-American historian Jarowlaw Pelenski narrows the number of Jewish deaths to between 6,000 and 14,000". [203] Orest Subtelny concludes:

Between 1648 and 1656, tens of thousands of Jews—given the lack of reliable data, it is impossible to establish more accurate figures—were killed by the rebels, and to this day the Khmelnytsky uprising is considered by Jews to be one of the most traumatic events in their history.[ citation needed ]

Ireland's Holocaust mural on the Ballymurphy Road, Belfast. "An Gorta Mor, Britain's genocide by starvation, Ireland's holocaust 1845-1849, over 1,500,000 deaths". An gorta Mor.jpg
Ireland's Holocaust mural on the Ballymurphy Road, Belfast. "An Gorta Mór, Britain's genocide by starvation, Ireland's holocaust 1845–1849, over 1,500,000 deaths".
War of the Three Kingdoms

Towards the end of the War of the Three Kingdoms (1639–1651), the English Rump Parliament sent the New Model Army to Ireland to subdue and take revenge on the Catholic population of the country and also to prevent Royalists loyal to Charles II from using Ireland as a base to threaten England. The force was initially under the command of Oliver Cromwell and it was later under the command of other parliamentary generals. The Army sought to secure the country, but also to confiscate the lands of Irish families that had been involved in the fighting. This became a continuation of the Elizabethan policy of encouraging Protestant settlement of Ireland, because the Protestant New Model army soldiers could be paid in confiscated lands rather than in cash. [204]

During the Interregnum (1651–1660), this policy was enhanced with the passing of the Act of Settlement of Ireland in 1652. Its goal was a further transfer of land from Irish to English hands. [204] The immediate war aims and the longer term policies of the English Parliamentarians resulted in an attempt by the English to transfer the native population to the western fringes to make way for Protestant settlers. This policy was reflected in a phrase attributed to Cromwell: "To Hell or to Connaught" and has been described by historians as genocide. [205]

British Empire
Great Irish Famine
Great Irish Famine Irish potato famine Bridget O'Donnel.jpg
Great Irish Famine

A small minority of historians regard the Irish Potato Famine (1845–1852) as an example of genocide. During the famine approximately 1 million people died and a million more emigrated from Ireland, [206] causing the island's population to fall by between 20% and 25%. [207] The proximate cause of famine was a potato disease commonly known as potato blight. [208] Although blight ravaged potato crops throughout Europe during the 1840s, the impact and human cost in Ireland where one-third of the population was entirely dependent on the potato for food was exacerbated by a host of political, social, and economic factors that remain the subject of historical debate. [209] [210]

During the Famine, Ireland produced enough food, flax, and wool to feed and clothe double its nine million people. [211] When Ireland had experienced a famine in 1782–83, ports were closed to keep Irish-grown food in Ireland to feed the Irish. Local food prices promptly dropped. Merchants lobbied against the export ban, but government in the 1780s overrode their protests. There was no such export ban in the 1840s. [212] Some historians [213] [214] have argued that in this sense the famine was artificial, caused by the British government's choice not to stop exports. [211]

Francis A. Boyle claimed that the government's actions violated sections (a), (b), and (c) of Article 2 of the CPPCG and constituted genocide in a legal opinion to the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education on 2 May 1996. [215] [216] [217] Charles E. Rice has also alleged that the British had committed genocide, also based on this retrospective application of Article 2. [218]

The claims were contested by Peter Gray, who concluded that UK government policy "was not a policy of deliberate genocide", but a dogmatic refusal to admit that the policy was wrong. James S. Donnelly, Jr., wrote, "while genocide was not in fact committed, what happened ... had the look of genocide to a great many Irish." [217] [219]

Cecil Woodham-Smith claimed that while the export policy embittered the Irish, this did not implicate the policy in genocide, but rather in excessive parsimony obtuseness, short-sightedness, and ignorance. [220] Irish historian Cormac O' Grada rejects the term, stating that the English exhibited no desire to exterminate the Irish and that the challenges for providing relief were enormous. [213] [221] W.D. Rubinstein also rejected the genocide claim. [25]

William Smith O'Brien, speaking on the subject of charity in a speech to the Repeal Association in February 1845, applauded the fact that the universal sentiment on the subject of charity was that they would accept no English charity. Despite Irish objections, a very considerable amount of relief supplies were in fact sent from England to Ireland. [ citation needed ]

Australian frontier wars Skirmish near Creen Creek.jpg
Australian frontier wars

According to one report published in 2009, in 1789 the British deliberately spread smallpox from the First Fleet in order to counter overwhelming native tribes near Sydney in New South Wales. In his book An Indelible Stain, Henry Reynolds described this act as genocide. [222] However the majority of scholars disagree that the initial smallpox was the result of deliberate biological warfare and have suggested other causes. [223] [224] [225]

The Black War was a period of conflict between British colonists and aboriginal Tasmanians in Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania) in the early 19th century. The conflict, in combination with introduced diseases and other factors, had such devastating impacts on the aboriginal Tasmanian population that it was reported that they had been exterminated. [226] [227] Historian Geoffrey Blainey wrote that by 1830, "Disease had killed most of them but warfare and private violence had also been devastating." [228] Smallpox was the principal cause of aboriginal deaths in the 19th century. [229]

Lemkin and most other comparative genocide scholars present the extinction of the Tasmanian aborigines as a textbook example of a genocide, while the majority of Australian experts are more circumspect. [230] [231] Detailed studies of the events surrounding the extinction have raised questions about some of the details and interpretations in earlier histories. [230] [232] Curthoys concluded, "It is time for a more robust exchange between genocide and Tasmanian historical scholarship if we are to understand better what did happen in Tasmania." [233]

On the Australian continent during the colonial period (1788–1901), the population of 500,000–750,000 Australian aborigines was reduced to fewer than 50,000. [234] [235] Most were devastated by the introduction of alien diseases after contact with Europeans, while perhaps 20,000 were killed by massacres and fighting with colonists. [234]

New Zealand

In the early 19th century, Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama (local Māori tribes) massacred the Moriori people. The Moriori were the indigenous people of the Chatham Islands (Rekohu in Moriori, Wharekauri in Māori), east of the New Zealand archipelago in the Pacific Ocean. These people lived by a code of non-violence and passive resistance (see Nunuku-whenua), which led to their near-extinction at the hands of Taranaki Māori invaders in the 1830s. [236]

In 1835, some Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama from the Taranaki region of North Island invaded the Chathams. On 19 November 1835, the Rodney, a European ship hired by the Māori, arrived carrying 500 Māori armed with guns, clubs, and axes, followed by another ship with 400 more warriors on 5 December 1835. They proceeded to enslave some Moriori and kill and cannibalise others. "Parties of warriors armed with muskets, clubs and tomahawks, led by their chiefs, walked through Moriori tribal territories and settlements without warning, permission or greeting. If the districts were wanted by the invaders, they curtly informed the inhabitants that their land had been taken and the Moriori living there were now vassals." [237]

A council of Moriori elders was convened at the settlement called Te Awapatiki. Despite knowing of the Māori predilection for killing and eating the conquered, and despite the admonition by some of the elder chiefs that the principle of Nunuku was not appropriate now, two chiefs—Tapata and Torea—declared that "the law of Nunuku was not a strategy for survival, to be varied as conditions changed; it was a moral imperative." [238] A Moriori survivor recalled: "[The Maori] commenced to kill us like sheep.... [We] were terrified, fled to the bush, concealed ourselves in holes underground, and in any place to escape our enemies. It was of no avail; we were discovered and killed—men, women and children indiscriminately." A Māori conqueror explained, "We took possession... in accordance with our customs and we caught all the people. Not one escaped..." [239]

After the invasion, Moriori were forbidden to marry Moriori, or to have children with each other. All became slaves of the invaders. Many Moriori women had children by their Maori masters. A small number of Moriori women eventually married either Maori or European men. Some were taken from the Chathams and never returned. Only 101 Moriori out of a population of about 2,000 were left alive by 1862. [240] Although the last Moriori of unmixed ancestry, Tommy Solomon, [241] died in 1933, several thousand mixed-ancestry Moriori are alive today.

20th century (from World War I)

World War I through World War II

In 1915, during World War I, the concept of crimes against humanity was introduced into international relations for the first time when the Allied Powers sent a letter to the government of the Ottoman Empire, a member of the Central Powers, protesting massacres that were taking place within the Empire. [242]

Ottoman Empire/Turkey

Of this photo, the U.S. ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr. wrote, "Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms--massacre, starvation, exhaustion--destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation". Morgenthau336.jpg
Of this photo, the U.S. ambassador Henry Morgenthau, Sr. wrote, "Scenes like this were common all over the Armenian provinces, in the spring and summer months of 1915. Death in its several forms—massacre, starvation, exhaustion—destroyed the larger part of the refugees. The Turkish policy was that of extermination under the guise of deportation".

On 24 May 1915, the Allied Powers (Britain, France, and Russia) jointly issued a statement that for the first time ever explicitly charged a government with committing a "crime against humanity" in reference to that regime's persecution of its Christian minorities, including Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks. [244] Many researchers consider these events to be part of the policy of planned ethnoreligious purification of the Turkish state advanced by the Young Turks. [245] [246] [247] [248] [249]

This joint statement stated, "[i]n view of these new crimes of Turkey against humanity and civilization, the Allied Governments announce publicly to the Sublime Porte that they will hold personally responsible for these crimes all members of the Ottoman Government, as well as those of their agents who are implicated in such massacres." [242]


The Armenian Genocide (Armenian : Հայոց Ցեղասպանություն , translit.: Hayots' Ts'eġaspanout'youn; Turkish : Ermeni Soykırımı and Ermeni Kıyımı) refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was implemented through extensive massacres and deportations, with the deportations consisting of forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees. The total number of resulting deaths is generally held to have been between one and one and a half million. [250]

The genocide began on 24 April 1915, when Ottoman authorities arrested some 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. Thereafter, the Ottoman military uprooted Armenians from their homes and forced them to march for hundreds of miles, without food and water, to the desert of what is now Syria. Massacres ignored age and gender, with rape and other acts of sexual abuse being commonplace. [251] The majority of Armenian diaspora communities were founded as a result of these events. Mass killings continued under the Republic of Turkey during the Turkish–Armenian War phase of Turkish War of Independence. [252]

Armenian civilians, escorted by armed Ottoman soldiers, are marched through Kharpert to a prison in the nearby Mezireh district, April 1915. Marcharmenians.jpg
Armenian civilians, escorted by armed Ottoman soldiers, are marched through Kharpert to a prison in the nearby Mezireh district, April 1915.

Modern Turkey succeeded the Ottoman Empire in 1923 and vehemently denies that a genocide took place. It has resisted calls in recent years by scholars, countries and international organizations to acknowledge the crime. The Armenian genocide is the second most-studied case of genocide after the Holocaust. Lemkin coined "genocide" with the Armenian genocide in mind. [253]


The Assyrian Genocide (also known as Sayfo or Seyfo; Aramaic: ܩܛܠܐ ܕܥܡܐ ܐܬܘܪܝܐ or ܣܝܦܐ, Turkish : Süryani Soykırımı) was committed against the Assyrian population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War by the Young Turks. [254] The Assyrian population of northern Mesopotamia (Tur Abdin, Hakkari, Van, Siirt region in modern-day southeastern Turkey and Urmia region in northwestern Iran) was forcibly relocated and massacred by Ottoman (Turkish and allied Kurdish) forces between 1914 and 1920. [255] This genocide paralleled the Armenian Genocide and Greek genocide. [256] [257] The Assyro-Chaldean National Council stated in a 4 December 1922, memorandum that the total death toll is unknown, but it estimated that about 750,000 Assyrians died between 1914 and 1918. [258]


The Greek genocide [259] refers to the fate of the Greek population of the Ottoman Empire during and in the aftermath of World War I (1914–18). Like Armenians and Assyrians, the Greeks were subjected to various forms of persecution including massacres, expulsions, and death marches by Young Turks. [260] [257] Mass killing of Greeks continued under the Turkish National Movement during the Greco-Turkish War phase of the Turkish War of Independence. [261] George W. Rendel of the British Foreign Office, among other diplomats, noted the massacres and deportations of Greeks during the post-Armistice period. [262] Estimates of the number of Anatolian Greeks killed range from 348,000 to 900,000. [263] [264] [265] [266]

Dersim Kurds

The Dersim massacre refers to the depopulation of Dersim in Turkish Kurdistan, in 1937–38, in which approximately 13,000–40,000 Alevi Kurds [267] [268] were killed and thousands more were driven into exile. A key component of the Turkification process was a policy of massive population resettlement. The main document, the 1934 Law on Resettlement, was used to target the region of Dersim as one of its first test cases, with disastrous consequences for the local population. [269]

Many Kurds and some ethnic Turks consider the events that took place in Dersim to constitute genocide. A prominent proponent of this view is İsmail Beşikçi. [270] Under international laws, the actions of the Turkish authorities were arguably not genocide, because they were not aimed at the extermination of a people, but at resettlement and suppression. [271] A Turkish court ruled in 2011 that the events could not be considered genocide because they were not directed systematically against an ethnic group. [272] Scholars such as Martin van Bruinessen, have instead talked of an ethnocide directed against the local language and identity. [271]

Kingdom of Iraq

The Simele massacre (Syriac : ܦܪܡܬܐ ܕܣܡܠܐpramta d-Simele, Arabic : مذبحة سميلmaḏbaḥat Summayl) was a massacre committed by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Iraq during a campaign which systematically targeted the Assyrians of northern Iraq in August 1933. The term is used to describe not only the massacre in Simele, but also the killing spree that took place in 63 Assyrian villages in the Dohuk and Mosul districts which led to the deaths of between 5,000 [273] and 6,000 [274] [275] Assyrians.

The Simele massacre inspired Raphael Lemkin to create the concept of genocide. [276] In 1933, Lemkin delivered a presentation to the Legal Council of the League of Nations conference on international criminal law in Madrid, for which he prepared an essay on the Crime of Barbarity as a crime against international law. The concept of the "crime of barbarity" evolved into the idea of genocide, and it was based on the Simele massacre and the Armenian Genocide, and it later included the Holocaust. [277]

Russia and the Soviet Union

Pogroms of Jews

The Whitaker Report of the United Nations used the massacre of 100,000 to 250,000 Jews in more than 2,000 pogroms during the White Terror in Russia as an example of genocide. [278] During the Russian Civil War, between 1918 and 1921 a total of 1,236 violent incidents against Jews occurred in 524 towns in Ukraine. The estimates of the number of killed range between 30,000 and 60,000. [279] [280] Of the recorded 1,236 pogroms and excesses, 493 were carried out by Ukrainian People's Republic soldiers under command of Symon Petliura, 307 by independent Ukrainian warlords, 213 by Denikin's army, 106 by the Red Army and 32 by the Polish Army. [281]


During the Russian Civil War the Bolsheviks engaged in a genocidal campaign against the Don Cossacks. [282] [283] [284] [285] [286] University of York Russian specialist Shane O'Rourke states that "ten thousand Cossacks were slaughtered systematically in a few weeks in January 1919" and that this "was one of the main factors which led to the disappearance of the Cossacks as a nation". [287] The late Alexander Nikolaevich Yakovlev, head of the Presidential Committee for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Political Repression, notes that "hundreds of thousands of Cossacks were killed". [288] Historian Robert Gellately claims that "the most reliable estimates indicate that between 300,000 and 500,000 were killed or deported in 1919–20" out of a population of around three million. [289]

Peter Holquist states the overall number of executions is difficult to establish. In some regions hundreds were executed. In Khoper, the tribunal was very active, with a one-month total of 226 executions. The Tsymlianskaia tribunal oversaw the execution of over 700 people. The Kotel'nikovo tribunal executed 117 in early May and nearly 1,000 overall. Others were not quite as active. The Berezovskaia tribunal made a total of twenty arrests in a community of 13,500 people. Holquist also notes that some of White reports of Red atrocities in the Don were consciously scripted for agitation purposes. [290] In one example, an insurgent leader reported that 140 were executed in Bokovskaia, but later provided a different account, according to which only eight people in Bokovskaia were sentenced to death, and the authorities did not manage to carry these sentences out. This same historian emphasises he is "not seeking to downplay or dismiss very real executions by the Soviets". [291]

Research by Pavel Polian from Russian Academy of Sciences on the subject of forced migrations in Russia shows that more than 45,000 Cossacks were deported from the Terek province to Ukraine. Their land was distributed among pro-soviet Cossacks and Chechens. [292]

Joseph Stalin

Multiple documented instances of unnatural mass death occurred in the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin. These include Union-wide famines in the early 1920s and early 1930s and deportations of ethnic minorities.


Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933. GolodomorKharkiv.jpg
Starved peasants on a street in Kharkiv, 1933.

During the Soviet famine of 1932–33 that affected Ukraine, Kazakhstan and some densely populated regions of Russia, the highest scale of death was in Ukraine. The events there are referred to as the Holodomor and they are recognized as genocide by the governments of Australia, Argentina, Georgia, Estonia, Italy, Canada, Lithuania, Poland, the US and Hungary. The famine was caused by the confiscation of the whole 1933 harvest in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, the Kuban (a densely populated Russian region), and some other parts of the Soviet Union, leaving the peasants too little to feed themselves. As a result, an estimated ten million died, including three to seven million in Ukraine, one million in the North Caucasus and one million elsewhere. [293]

In addition to the requisitioning of crops and livestock in Ukraine, all food was confiscated by Soviet authorities. Any and all aid and food was prohibited from entering the Ukrainian republic. Ukraine's Yuschenko administration recognized the Holodomor as an act of genocide and pushed international governments to acknowledge this. [294] This move was opposed by the Russian government and some members of the Ukrainian parliament, especially the Communists. A Ukrainian court found Joseph Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov, Lazar Kaganovich, Genrikh Yagoda, Yakov Yakovlev, Stanislav Kosior, Pavel Postyshev, Vlas Chubar and Mendel Khatayevich posthumously guilty of genocide on 13 January 2010. [295] [296] As of 2010, the Russian government's official position was that the famine took place, but was not an ethnic genocide; [294] former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych supported this position. [297] [298] A ruling of 12 January 2010 by Kyiv's Court of Appeal declared the Soviet leaders guilty of "genocide against the Ukrainian national group in 1932–33 through the artificial creation of living conditions intended for its partial physical destruction." [299]

Poles in the Soviet Union

Several scholars write that the killing, on the basis of nationality and politics, of more than 120,000 ethnic Poles in the Soviet Union from 1937–38 was genocide. [300] An NKVD official remarked that Poles living in the Soviet Union were to be "completely destroyed". Under Stalin the NKVD's Polish operation soon arrested some 144,000, of whom 111,000 were shot and surviving family members deported to Kazakhstan. [301] [302] [303]

In practice abandoning its 'official socialist' ideology of the "fraternity of peoples", the Soviets in the Great Terror of 1937–1938 targeted "a national group as an enemy of the state." During their Polish operation against party enemies the NKVD hit "Soviet Poles and other Soviet citizens associated with Poland, Polish culture, or Roman Catholicism. The Polish ethnic character of the operation quickly prevailed in practice... ." Stalin was pleased at "cleaning out this Polish filth." Among the several different nationalities targeted in the Great Terror (e.g., Latvians, Estonians, Finns, Belarusians), "ethnic Poles suffered more than any other group." [304] In 1940 the Soviets also killed thousands of Polish POWs, among about 22,000 Polish citizens shot in the Katyn forest and other places. [305] [306]

Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachay, Kalmyks, Meskhetian Turks, and Volga Germans

The decree on the deportation of Volga Germans was published on August 28, 1941. Men aged 15–55 and later women between the ages of 16 and 45 were forced to work in the forests and mines of Siberia and Central Asia under conditions similar to those prevailing in the slave labor camps of the Gulag. The expulsion of the Germans from the Volga ended in September 1941. The number sent to Siberia and Kazakhstan totaled approximately 438,000. Together with 27,000 evicted in the same ethnic cleansing of the Stalingrad Oblast and 47,000 of the Saratov Oblast, the total number sent to forced internal exile was about 950,000, of which 30% died during deportation (285.000), and most never returned to the Volga Region.

On 26 February 2004 the plenary assembly of the European Parliament recognized the deportation of Chechen people during Operation Lentil (23 February 1944), as an act of genocide, on the basis of the 1907 IV Hague Convention: The Laws and Customs of War on Land and the CPPCG. [307]

The event began on 23 February 1944, when the entire population of Checheno-Ingushetia was summoned to local party buildings where they were told they were to be deported as punishment for their alleged collaboration with the Germans. The inhabitants were rounded up and imprisoned in Studebaker trucks and sent to Siberia. [308] [309]

  • Many times, resistance was met with slaughter, and in one such instance, in the aul of Khaibakh, about 700 people were locked in a barn and burned to death. By the next summer, Checheno-Ingushetia was dissolved; a number of Chechen and Ingush placenames were replaced with Russian ones; mosques and graveyards were destroyed, and a massive campaign to burn numerous historical Chechen texts was nearly complete. [310]
  • [311] Throughout the North Caucasus, about 700,000 (according to Dalkhat Ediev, 724297, [312] of which the majority, 412,548, were Chechens, along with 96,327 Ingush, 104,146 Kalmyks, 39,407 Balkars and 71,869 Karachais). Many died on the trip, of exposure in Siberia's extremely harsh environment. The NKVD, supplying the Russian perspective, gives the statistic of 144,704 killed in 1944–1948 alone (with a death rate of 23.5% for all groups). Estimates for Chechen deaths alone (excluding the NKVD statistic), range from about 170,000 to 200,000 [313] [314] thus ranging from over a third of the total Chechen population to nearly half being killed (of those that were deported, not counting those killed on the spot) in those 4 years alone. Both the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria and the European Union Parliament marked it as genocide in 2004. [315]

Deportations of Baltic people

Antanas Snieckus, the leader of the Communist Party of Lithuania, supervised the mass deportations of Lithuanians. AntanasSnieckus7-11-1970Vlns.jpg
Antanas Sniečkus, the leader of the Communist Party of Lithuania, supervised the mass deportations of Lithuanians.

The mass deportations of up to 17,500 Lithuanians, 17,000 Latvians and 6,000 Estonians carried out by Stalin were the start of another genocide. Added to the killing of the Forest Brethren and the renewed Dekulakization that followed the Soviet reconquest of the Baltic states at the end of World War II, the total number deported to Siberia was 118,559 from Lithuania, 52,541 from Latvia, and 32,540 from Estonia. [317] The high death rate of the deportees during their first few years in exile, caused by the failure of the Soviet authorities to provide them with suitable clothing and housing after they reached their destination, led some sources to label the affair an act of genocide. [318] Based on the Martens Clause and the principles of the Nuremberg Charter, the European Court of Human Rights held that the March deportation constituted a crime against humanity. [319] [320] According to Erwin Oberlander, these deportations are a crime against humanity, rather than genocide. [321]

Lithuania began holding trials for genocide in 1997. Latvia and Estonia followed in 1998. [322] Latvia has since convicted four security officers and in 2003 it sentenced a former KGB agent to five years in prison. Estonia tried and convicted ten men and is investigating others. In Lithuania by 2004 23 cases were before the courts, but as of the end of the year none had been convicted. [323]

In 2007 Estonia charged Arnold Meri (then 88 years old), a former Soviet Communist Party official and highly decorated former Red Army soldier, with genocide. Shortly after the trial opened, it was suspended because of Meri's frail health and then abandoned when he died. [324] [325] A memorial in Vilnius, Lithuania, is dedicated to genocidal victims of Stalin and Hitler, [326] and the Museum of Genocide Victims in Lithuania, which opened on 14 October 1992 in the former KGB headquarters, chronicles the imprisonment and deportation of Lithuanians. [327]

Crimean Tatars

The ethnic cleansing [328] [329] [330] and deportation of the Crimean Tatars from Crimea was ordered by Joseph Stalin as a form of collective punishment for alleged collaboration with the Nazi occupation regime in Taurida Subdistrict during 1942–1943. The state-organized removal is known as the Sürgünlik in Crimean Tatar. A total of more than 230,000 people were deported (the entire ethnic Crimean Tatar population), of which more than 100,000 died from starvation or disease. Some activists, politicians, scholars and historians go even further and consider this deportation a crime of genocide. [331] [332] [333] [334] Professor Lyman H. Legters argued that the Soviet penal system, combined with its resettlement policies, should count as genocidal since the sentences were borne most heavily specifically on certain ethnic groups, and that a relocation of these ethnic groups, whose survival depends on ties to its particular homeland, "had a genocidal effect remediable only by restoration of the group to its homeland". [334] Soviet dissidents Ilya Gabay [335] and Pyotr Grigorenko [336] both classified the event as a genocide. Historian Timothy Snyder included it in a list of Soviet policies that “meet the standard of genocide.” [337] Some academics disagree with the classification of deportation as genocide. Professor Alexander Statiev argues that Stalin's administration did not have a conscious genocidal intent to exterminate the various deported peoples, but that Soviet "political culture, poor planning, haste, and wartime shortages were responsible for the genocidal death rate among them." He rather considers these deportations an example of Soviet assimilation of "unwanted nations." [338] According to Professor Amir Weiner, "...It was their territorial identity and not their physical existence or even their distinct ethnic identity that the regime sought to eradicate." [339] According to Professor Francine Hirsch, "although the Soviet regime practiced politics of discrimination and exclusion, it did not practice what contemporaries thought of as racial politics ." To her, these mass deportations were based on the concept that nationalities were "sociohistorical groups with a shared consciousness and not racial-biological groups". [340] In contrast to this view Jon K. Chang contends that the deportations had been in fact based on ethnicity; and that "social historians" in the west have failed to champion the rights of marginalized ethnicities in the Soviet Union. [341] On 12 December 2015, the Ukrainian Parliament issued a resolution recognizing this event as genocide and established 18 May as the "Day of Remembrance for the victims of the Crimean Tatar genocide." [342] The parliament of Latvia recognized the event as an act of genocide on 9 May 2019. [343] [344] The Parliament of Lithuania did the same on 6 June 2019. [345] Canadian Parliament passed a motion on June 10, 2019, recognizing the Crimean Tatar deportation of 1944 (Sürgünlik) as a genocide perpetrated by Soviet dictator Stalin, designating May 18 to be a day of remembrance. [346] [347]


The corpses of massacred victims with a Japanese soldier standing nearby, Nanjing, 1937 Nanking bodies 1937.jpg
The corpses of massacred victims with a Japanese soldier standing nearby, Nanjing, 1937

During the Nanking massacre which was committed during the early months of the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese committed mass killings against the Chinese, with up to 300,000 killed. Bradley Campbell described the Nanking Massacre as a genocide, because the Chinese were unilaterally killed by the Japanese en masse during the aftermath of the battle for the city, despite its successful and certain outcome. [348]

Dominican Republic

In 1937, Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo ordered the execution of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. The Parsley massacre, known in the Dominican Republic as "El Corte" (the Cutting), lasted approximately five days. The name comes from claims that soldiers used a Shibboleth to identify suspected Haitians, showing them parsley leaves and asking them to pronounce the name of the plant. Spanish-speaking Dominicans would be able to pronounce the Spanish word for parsley ("perejil") correctly, whereas native Haitian Creole speakers would struggle to pronounce the 'r' adequately. Those who mispronounced "perejil" were assumed to be Haitian and slaughtered. The program resulted in the deaths of 20,000 to 30,000 people. [349]

Republic of China and Tibet

In the 1930s, the Kuomintang's Republic of China government supported Muslim warlord Ma Bufang when he launched seven expeditions into Golog, causing the deaths of thousands of Tibetans. [350] Uradyn Erden Bulag called the events that followed genocidal, while David Goodman called them ethnic cleansing. One Tibetan counted the number of times Ma attacked him, remembering the seventh attack that made life impossible. [351] Ma was anti-communist and he and his army wiped out many Tibetans in northeast and eastern Qinghai and destroyed Tibetan Buddhist Temples. [352] [353] Ma also patronized the Panchen Lama, who was exiled from Tibet by the Dalai Lama's government.

Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe

Major deportation routes to the extermination camps in Europe. WW2-Holocaust-Europe.png
Major deportation routes to the extermination camps in Europe.

The Holocaust

YearJews killed [354]
1933–1940under 100,000

The Holocaust is widely recognized as genocide. The term appeared in the indictment of 24 German leaders. Count three of the indictment stated that all the defendants had "conducted deliberate and systematic genocide – namely, the extermination of racial and national groups...." [355]

The term "the Holocaust" (from the Greek hólos, "whole" and kaustós, "burnt") is often used to describe the killing of approximately six million European Jews, as part of a program of deliberate extermination that was planned and executed by the National Socialist German Workers Party in Germany, which was led by Adolf Hitler. [356] [357] Many scholars do not include other groups in the definition of the Holocaust, reserving the term for the genocide of the Jews. [358] [359] [356] [360] [361] [362] [363]

German police shooting women and children from the Mizocz Ghetto, 14 October 1942 Einsatzgruppe shooting.jpg
German police shooting women and children from the Mizocz Ghetto, 14 October 1942

The Holocaust was accomplished in stages. Legislation to remove the Jews from civil society was enacted years before the outbreak of World War II. Concentration camps were established in which inmates were used as slave laborers until they died. When Nazi Germany conquered new territory in Eastern Europe, specialized units called Einsatzgruppen murdered Jews and political opponents in mass shootings. [364] Jews and Romani were crammed into ghettos before being transported in box cars by freight train to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, the majority were killed in gas chambers. Every arm of Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics of the mass murder, turning the country into what one Holocaust scholar has called "a genocidal nation." [365]

Extermination CampEstimate of
number killed
Auschwitz-Birkenau 1,000,000 [366] [367]
Treblinka 870,000 [368]
Belzec 600,000 [369]
Majdanek 79,000–235,000 [370] [371]
Chełmno 320,000 [372]
Sobibór 250,000 [373]
The following figures by Lucy Dawidowicz show the annihilation of the Jewish population of Europe by (pre-war) country: [374]
Poland 3,300,0003,000,00090
Baltic countries 253,000228,00090
Germany and Austria 240,000210,00087.5
Bohemia and Moravia 90,00080,00089
Slovakia 90,00075,00083
Greece 70,00054,00077
Netherlands 140,000105,00075
Hungary 650,000450,00070
Byelorussian SSR 375,000245,00065
Ukrainian SSR 1,500,000900,00060
Belgium 65,00040,00060
Yugoslavia 43,00026,00060
Romania 600,000300,00050
Norway 2,17389041
France 350,00090,00026
Bulgaria 64,00014,00022
Italy 40,0008,00020
Luxembourg 5,0001,00020
Russian SFSR 975,000107,00011
Denmark 8,00052<1

This gives a total of over 3.8 million; of these, 80–90% were estimated to be Jews. These seven camps thus accounted for half the total number of Jews killed in the entire Nazi Holocaust. Virtually the entire Jewish population of Poland died in these camps. [374]

Since 1945, the most commonly cited figure for the total number of Jews killed has been six million. The Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, writes that there is no precise figure for the number of Jews killed, [375] but it has been able to find documentation of more than three million names of Jewish victims killed, [376] which it displays at its visitors center. The figure most commonly used is the six million attributed to Adolf Eichmann, a senior SS official. [377]

Members of the Sonderkommando burn corpses in the fire pits at Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Auschwitz Resistance 280 cropped.jpg
Members of the Sonderkommando burn corpses in the fire pits at Auschwitz II-Birkenau.

There were about eight to ten million Jews in the territories controlled directly or indirectly by Germany (the uncertainty arises from the lack of knowledge about how many Jews there were in the Soviet Union). The six million killed in the Holocaust thus represent 60 to 75 percent of these Jews. Of Poland's 3.3 million Jews, about 90 percent were killed. [379] The same proportion were killed in Latvia and Lithuania, but most of Estonia's Jews were evacuated in time. Of the 750,000 Jews in Germany and Austria in 1933, only about a quarter survived. Although many German Jews emigrated before 1939, the majority of these fled to Czechoslovakia, France or the Netherlands, from where they were later deported to their deaths.

In Czechoslovakia, Greece, the Netherlands, and Yugoslavia, over 70 percent were killed. 50 to 70 percent were killed in Romania, Belgium and Hungary. It is likely that a similar proportion were killed in Belarus and Ukraine, but these figures are less certain. Countries with notably lower proportions of deaths include Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Italy, and Norway. Albania was the only country occupied by Germany that had a significantly larger Jewish population in 1945 than in 1939. About two hundred native Jews and over a thousand refugees were provided with false documents, hidden when necessary, and generally treated as honored guests in a country whose population was roughly 60% Muslim. [380] Additionally, Japan, as an Axis member, had its own unique response to German policies regarding Jews; see Shanghai Ghetto.

In addition to those who died in extermination camps, at least half a million Jews died in other camps, including the major concentration camps in Germany. These were not extermination camps, but had large numbers of Jewish prisoners at various times, particularly in the last year of the war as the Nazis withdrew from Poland. About a million people died in these camps, and although the proportion of Jews is not known with certainty, it was estimated to be at least 50 percent.[ citation needed ] Another 800,000 to one million Jews were killed by the Einsatzgruppen in the occupied Soviet territories (an approximate figure, since the Einsatzgruppen killings were frequently undocumented). [381] Many more died through execution or of disease and malnutrition in the ghettos of Poland before they could be deported.

Holocaust death toll as a percentage of the total pre-war Jewish population Holocaustdeathtoll%25.png
Holocaust death toll as a percentage of the total pre-war Jewish population

In the 1990s, the opening of government archives in Eastern Europe resulted in the adjustment of the death tolls published in the pioneering work by Hilberg, Dawidowicz and Gilbert (e.g. compare Gilbert's estimation of two million deaths in Auschwitz-Birkenau with the updated figure of one million in the Extermination Camp data box). As pointed out above, Wolfgang Benz has been carrying out work on the more recent data. He concluded in 1999:

The goal of annihilating all of the Jews of Europe, as it was proclaimed at the conference in the villa Am Grossen Wannsee in January 1942, was not reached. Yet the six million murder victims make the holocaust a unique crime in the history of mankind. The number of victims—and with certainty the following represent the minimum number in each case—cannot express that adequately. Numbers are just too abstract. However they must be stated in order to make clear the dimension of the genocide: 165,000 Jews from Germany, 65,000 from Austria, 32,000 from France and Belgium, more than 100,000 from the Netherlands, 60,000 from Greece, the same number from Yugoslavia, more than 140,000 from Czechoslovakia, half a million from Hungary, 2.2 million from the Soviet Union, and 2.7 million from Poland. To these numbers must be added all those killed in the pogroms and massacres in Romania and Transitrien (over 200,000) and the deported and murdered Jews from Albania and Norway, Denmark and Italy, from Luxembourg and Bulgaria.

Benz, Wolfgang The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide [382]

Non-Jewish victims

Jews5.93 million [374]
Soviet POWs2–3 million [383]
Ethnic Poles1.8–2 million [384] [385]
Disabled270,000 [386]
Romani90,000–220,000 [387] [388]
Freemasons80,000–200,000 [389] [390]
Slovenes20,000–25,000 [391]
Homosexuals5,000–15,000 [392]
2,500–5,000 [393]
Spanish Republicans7000 [394]

Some scholars broaden the definition to include other German killing policies during the war, including the mistreatment of Soviet POWs, crimes against ethnic Poles, euthanasia of mentally and physically disabled Germans, persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses, the killing of Romani, and other crimes committed against ethnic, sexual, and political minorities. [395] Using this definition, the total number of Holocaust victims is 11 million people. Donald Niewyk suggests that the broadest definition, including Soviet deaths due to war-related famine and disease, would produce a death toll of 17 million. Overall, about 5.7 million (78 percent) of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe perished. [396] This was in contrast to the five to 11 million (1.4 percent to 3.0 percent) of the 360 million non-Jews in German-dominated Europe. [397] [398] The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has the number of people murdered during the Holocaust era at 17 million.

Slavic population of the Soviet Union
Men hanged as partisans somewhere in the Soviet Union. Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-031-2436-05A, Russland, Hinrichtung von Partisanen.jpg
Men hanged as partisans somewhere in the Soviet Union.
A victim of starvation in besieged Leningrad in 1941 Distrofiia alimentarnaia.jpg
A victim of starvation in besieged Leningrad in 1941

The Nazi German government implemented Generalplan Ost for the colonization of Central and Eastern Europe. [399] Implementation of the plan necessitated genocide [400] and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II. [400] The plan entailed the enslavement, expulsion, and partial destruction of most Slavic peoples in Europe, whom the Nazis viewed as racially inferior and non-Aryan. [400] [401] The programme operational guidelines, prepared in the years 1939–1942, were based on the policy of Lebensraum designed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement, as well as being a fulfillment of the Drang nach Osten (English: Drive towards the East) ideology of German expansion to the east. As such, it was intended to be a part of the New Order in Europe. [400]

The civilian death toll in the regions occupied by Germany was estimated at 13.7 million. Philimoshin cited sources from the Soviet era to support his figures, he used the terms "genocide" and "premeditated extermination" when referring to the deaths of 7.4 million civilians in the occupied USSR caused by the direct, intentional actions of violence. Civilians killed in reprisals during the Soviet partisan war account for a major part of the huge toll. The report of Philimoshin lists the deaths of civilian forced laborers in Germany as totaling 2,164,313. G. I. Krivosheev in the report on military casualties gives a total of 1,103,300 dead POWs. The total of these two figures is 3,267,613, which is in close agreement with estimates by western historians of about 3 million deaths of prisoners in German captivity. In the occupied regions Nazi Germany had a policy of forced confiscation of food that resulted in the famine deaths of an estimated 6% of the population, 4.1 million persons. [402]

Soviet Civilian loses, Russian Academy of Science estimates
Deaths caused by the result of direct, intentional actions of violence7,420,379 [403]
Deaths of forced laborers in Germany2,164,313 [404]
Deaths due to famine and disease in the occupied regions4,100,000 [405]

Independent State of Croatia


After the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia, Croatian Nazis and fascists known as the Ustaše established a regime known as the Nezavisna Država Hrvatska (Independent State of Croatia) or the NDH. Immediately afterwards, the NDH launched a genocidal campaign against Serbs, Jews and Romani people inside the borders of the NDH. From 1941 to 1945, when Tito's partisans liberated Yugoslavia, the Ustaše regime killed at least 200,000 to 500,000 Serbs, [406] [407] [408] [409] [410] 80,000 Roma and 35,000 Jews.[ citation needed ] It is estimated that approximately 100,000 people were killed at the infamous Jasenovac concentration camp alone. Jasenovac was a part of a system of concentration camps,with the only one just for kids,in the world,ever.Helen Fein estimated that the Ustaše killed almost every Romani in the country. [411] The Ustaše enacted a policy that called for a solution to the "Serbian problem" in Croatia. The solution, as promulgated by Mile Budak, was to "kill one-third of the Serbs, expel one-third, and convert [to Roman Catholicism] one-third". [412] According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 320,000–340,000 ethnic Serb civilians were murdered under Ustaše rule. [413] The Yad Vashem World Holocaust Museum and Research Center concludes that "more than 500,000 Serbs were murdered in horribly sadistic ways, 250,000 were expelled, and another 200,000 were forced to convert." [414]

Muslims and Croats

Some historians believe that crimes committed against non-Serbs by Chetniks in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and in Sandžak constitute genocide. [415] [416] This can be seen through the mass-killings of ethnic Croats and Muslims that conformed with the Moljević plan ("On Our State and Its Borders") and the 1941 'Instructions' issued by Chetnik leader, Draža Mihailović, concerning the cleansing of non-Serbs on the basis of creating a post-war Greater Serbia. [417] [418] [419] Death toll by ethnicity includes between 18,000 and 32,000 Croats and 29,000 to 33,000 Muslims. [420]

Photos from The Black Book of Poland, published in London in 1942 by Polish government-in-exile. The Black Book of Poland (21-24).jpg
Photos from The Black Book of Poland, published in London in 1942 by Polish government-in-exile.

The Intelligenzaktion ("anti-intelligentsia action") was a highly secretive genocidal action of Nazi Germany against Polish elites (primarily intelligentsia; teachers, doctors, priests, community leaders etc.) in the early stages of World War II. It was conducted as part of an attempt to complete the Germanization of the western regions of occupied Poland before their planned annexation. The operation cost the lives of 100,000 Poles according to the Institute of National Remembrance. [421]

Adolf Hitler believed that the Polish elites might inspire the Poles to disobey their new German masters so he decreed that they had to be eliminated beforehand. [422] The aim was the elimination of Polish society's elite, which was very broadly defined as: Polish nobles, intelligentsia, teachers, entrepreneurs, social workers, military veterans, members of national organizations, priests, judges, political activists, and anyone who had attended secondary school. [423] It was continued by the German AB-Aktion operation in Poland in the spring and summer of 1940, which saw the massacre of Lwów professors and the execution of about 1,700 Poles in the Palmiry forest. Several thousand civilians were executed or imprisoned. The Einsatzgruppen were also responsible for the indiscriminate killing of Poles during the 1941 German invasion of the Soviet Union (which itself had invaded a sizeable portion of pre-WWII Polish territory, killing dozens of thousands of imprisoned Poles in turn). [424] [ failed verification ]

Our strength is our quickness and our brutality.... I have given the order—and will have everyone shot who utters but one word of criticism—that the aim of this war does not consist in reaching certain geographical lines, but in the enemies’ physical elimination. Thus, for the time being only in the east, I put ready my Death’s Head units, with the order to kill without pity or mercy all men, women, and children of the Polish race or language... Adolf Hitler, Obersalzberg Speech, given on 22 August 1939, a week before the invasion

Volhynia and Eastern Galicia
Massacres of Poles in Volhynia in 1943. Most Poles of Volhynia (now in Ukraine) had either been murdered or had fled the area Lipniki massacre.jpg
Massacres of Poles in Volhynia in 1943. Most Poles of Volhynia (now in Ukraine) had either been murdered or had fled the area

The massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia were part of an ethnic cleansing operation carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) West in the Nazi-occupied regions of Eastern Galicia (Nazi created Distrikt Galizien in General Government), and UPA North in Volhynia (in Nazi created Reichskommissariat Ukraine), from March 1943 until the end of 1944. The peak took place in July/August 1943 when a senior UPA commander, Dmytro Klyachkivsky, ordered the liquidation of the entire male Polish population between 16 and 60 years of age. [425] [426] Despite this, most were women and children. The UPA killed 40,000–60,000 Polish civilians in Volhynia, [427] from 25,000 [428] to 30,000–40,000 in Eastern Galicia. [427] The killings were directly linked with the policies of the Bandera fraction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, whose goal, specified at the Second Conference of the OUN-B, was to remove non-Ukrainians from a future Ukrainian state. [429]

The massacres are recognized in Poland as ethnic cleansing with "marks of genocide". [430] According to IPN prosecutor Piotr Zając, the crimes have a "character of genocide". [431]

On 22 July 2016, the Parliament of Poland passed a resolution declaring 11 July a National Day of Remembrance to honor the Polish victims murdered by Ukrainian nationalists, and formally calling the massacres a Genocide. [432]

Romani people
Map of persecution of the Roma Persecution of Roma.gif
Map of persecution of the Roma

The treatment of the Romani people was not consistent in the different areas that Nazi Germany conquered. In some areas (e.g. Luxembourg and the Baltic countries), the Nazis killed virtually the entire Romani population. In other areas (e.g. Denmark and Greece), there is no record of Romanis being subjected to mass killings. [433]

Donald Niewyk and Frances Nicosia write that the death toll was at least 130,000 out of the nearly one million Romani who resided in Nazi-controlled Europe. [434] Michael Berenbaum writes that serious scholarly estimates lie between 90,000 and 220,000. [435] A study by Sybil Milton, senior historian at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, calculated a death toll of at least 220,000 and possibly closer to 500,000, but this study explicitly excluded the Independent State of Croatia where the genocide of Romanies was intense. [387] [436] Martin Gilbert estimates a total of more than 220,000 deaths out of the 700,000 Romani who lived in Europe. [437] Ian Hancock, Director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin, has argued in favor of a much higher figure of between 500,000 and 1,500,000 deaths, claiming that the Romani death toll proportionally equaled or exceeded that of Jewish victims. [388] [438]

Disabled and mentally ill

Our starting-point is not the individual, and we do not subscribe to the view that one should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty or clothe the naked—those are not our objectives. Our objectives are entirely different. They can be put most crisply in the sentence: we must have a healthy people in order to prevail in the world.

Joseph Goebbels, 1938. [439]

Between 1939 and 1941, 80,000 to 100,000 mentally ill adults in institutions were killed; 5,000 children in institutions; and 1,000 Jews in institutions. [440] Outside the mental health institutions, the figures are estimated to number 20,000 (according to Dr. Georg Renno, the deputy director of Schloss Hartheim, one of the euthanasia centers) or 400,000 (according to Franz Ziereis, the commandant of Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp). [440] Another 300,000 were forcibly sterilized. [441] Overall it has been estimated that over 270,000 individuals [386] with mental disorders of all kinds were put to death, although their mass murder has received relatively little historical attention. Along with the physically disabled, people suffering from dwarfism were persecuted as well. Many were put on display in cages and experimented on by the Nazis. [442] Despite not being formally ordered to take part, psychiatrists and psychiatric institutions were at the center of justifying, planning and carrying out the atrocities at every stage, and "constituted the connection" to the later annihilation of Jews and other "undesirables" in the Holocaust. [443] After strong protests by the German Catholic and Protestant churches on 24 August 1941 Hitler ordered the cancellation of the T4 program. [444]

The program was named after Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of a villa in the Berlin borough of Tiergarten, the headquarters of the General Foundation for Welfare and Institutional Care, [445] led by Philipp Bouhler, head of Hitler's private chancellery (Kanzlei des Führer der NSDAP) and Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal physician.

Brandt was tried in December 1946 at Nuremberg, along with 22 others, in a case known as United States of America vs. Karl Brandt et al., also known as the Doctors' Trial. He was hanged at Landsberg Prison on 2 June 1948.

Post–World War II Central and Eastern Europe

Ethnic cleansing of Germans

Expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia Vertreibung.jpg
Expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia

After WWII ended, about 11-12 million [446] [447] [448] Germans were forced to flee from or were expelled from several countries throughout Eastern and Central Europe including Russia, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and the prewar territory of Poland. A large number of them were also displaced when Germany's former eastern provinces were given to Poland as part of the Potsdam Agreement, regardless of those annexed lands being ethnically, politically, and culturally German for nearly a thousand years. The majority of these expelled and displaced Germans ended up in what remained of Germany, with some being sent to West Germany and others being sent to East Germany. The ethnic cleansing of the Germans was the largest displacement of a single European population in modern history. [446] [447] Estimates for the total number of those who died during the removals range from 500,000 to 2,000,000, where the higher figures include "unsolved cases" of persons reported as missing and presumed dead. Many German civilians were sent to internment and labor camps as well, where they often died. The events are usually classified as either a population transfer, [449] [450] or an ethnic cleansing. [451] [452] [453] [454] Felix Ermacora, among a minority of legal scholars, equated ethnic cleansing with genocide, [455] [456] and stated that the expulsion of the Germans therefore constituted genocide. [457]

Partition of India

The Partition of India was the partition of the British Indian Empire [458] that led to the creation of the sovereign states of the Dominion of Pakistan (which later split into Pakistan and Bangladesh) and the Union of India (later the Republic of India) on 15 August 1947. During the Partition, one of British India's greatest provinces, the Punjab Province, was split along communal lines into West Punjab and East Punjab (later split into the three separate modern-day Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh). West Punjab was formed out of the Muslim majority districts of the former British Indian Punjab Province while East Punjab was formed out of the Hindu and Sikh majority districts of the former province.

Corpses in the street of Calcutta after the Direct Action Day in 1946 Vultures and corpses in the street of Calcutta, 1946.jpg
Corpses in the street of Calcutta after the Direct Action Day in 1946

Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs who had co-existed for a millennium attacked each other in what is argued to be a retributive genocide [459] of horrific proportions, accompanied by arson, looting, rape and abduction of women. The Indian government claimed that 33,000 Hindu and Sikh women were abducted, and the Pakistani government claimed that 50,000 Muslim women were abducted during riots. By 1949, there were governmental claims that 12,000 women had been recovered in India and 6,000 women had been recovered in Pakistan. [460] By 1954 there were 20,728 recovered Muslim women and 9,032 Hindu and Sikh women recovered from Pakistan. [461]

This partition triggered off what was one of the world's largest mass migrations in modern history. [462] Around 11.2 million people successfully crossed the India-West Pakistan border, mostly through the Punjab. 6.5 million Muslims migrated from India to West Pakistan and 4.7 million Hindus and Sikhs from West Pakistan arrived in India. However many people went missing.

A study of the total population inflows and outflows in the districts of the Punjab, using the data provided by the 1931 and 1951 Census has led to an estimate of 1.26 million missing Muslims who left western India but did not reach Pakistan. [463] The corresponding number of missing Hindus/Sikhs along the western border is estimated to be approximately 0.84 million. [464] This puts the total number of missing people due to Partition-related migration along the Punjabi border at around 2.23 million. [464]

Nisid Hajari, in "Midnight’s Furies" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) wrote: [465]

Gangs of killers set whole villages aflame, hacking to death men and children and the aged while carrying off young women to be raped. Some British soldiers and journalists who had witnessed the Nazi death camps claimed Partition’s brutalities were worse: pregnant women had their breasts cut off and babies hacked out of their bellies; infants were found literally roasted on spits.”

By the time the violence had subsided, Hindus and Sikhs had been completely wiped out of Pakistan's West Punjab and similarly Muslims were completely wiped out of India's East Punjab. [459]

Partition also affected other areas of the subcontinent besides the Punjab. Anti-Hindu riots took place in Hyderabad, Sind. On 6 January anti-Hindu riots broke out in Karachi, leading to an estimate of 1100 casualties. [466] 776,000 Sindhi Hindus fled to India. [467]

Anti-Muslim riots also rocked Delhi. According to Gyanendra Pandey's recent account of the Delhi violence between 20,000 and 25,000 Muslims in the city lost their lives. [468] Tens of thousands of Muslims were driven to refugee camps regardless of their political affiliations and numerous historic sites in Delhi such as the Purana Qila, Idgah and Nizamuddin were transformed into refugee camps. At the culmination of the tensions in Delhi 330,000 Muslims were forced to flee the city to Pakistan. The 1951 Census registered a drop of the Muslim population in Delhi from 33.22% in 1941 to 5.33% in 1951. [469] Meanwhile, as a result of the Noakhali riots and Direct Action Day, Hindus in Bangladesh dwindled from 28% in the 1940s to a mere 9% in 2011. [470] [ circular reference ] During the Noakhali riots, more than 5,000 were massacred in eight days and there were reports of numerous forced conversions, arson, abduction and rape by the Bangladeshi local Muslim population.

Since 1951

The CPPCG was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1948 and came into effect on 12 January 1951 (Resolution 260 (III)). After the necessary 20 countries became parties to the Convention, it came into force as international law on 12 January 1951. At that time however, only two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) were parties to the treaty, which caused the Convention to languish for over four decades.

Australia 1900–1969

Sir Ronald Wilson was once the president of Australia's Human Rights Commission. He stated that Australia's program in which 20–25,000 Aboriginal children were forcibly separated from their natural families [471] was genocide, because it was intended to cause the Aboriginal people to die out. The program ran from 1900 to 1969. [472] The nature and extent of the removals have been disputed within Australia, with opponents questioning the findings contained in the Commission report and asserting that the size of the Stolen Generation had been exaggerated. The intent and effects of the government policy were also disputed. [471]


In 1964, towards the end of the Zanzibar Revolution—which led to the overthrow of the Sultan of Zanzibar and his mainly Arab government by local African revolutionaries—John Okello claimed in radio speeches to have killed or imprisoned tens of thousands of the Sultan's "enemies and stooges", [473] but estimates of the number of deaths vary greatly, from "hundreds" to 20,000. The New York Times and other Western newspapers gave figures of 2–4,000; [474] [475] the higher numbers possibly were inflated by Okello's own broadcasts and exaggerated media reports. [473] [476] [477] The killing of Arab prisoners and their burial in mass graves was documented by an Italian film crew, filming from a helicopter, in Africa Addio . [478] Many Arabs fled to safety in Oman [476] and by Okello's order no Europeans were harmed. [479] The violence did not spread to Pemba. [477] Leo Kuper described the killing of Arabs in Zanzibar as genocide. [480]

Biafra 1966-1970

After Nigeria gained its independence from British rule in 1960, stigma towards the Igbo ethnic group of the east increased. When a supposedly Igbo led coup [481] overthrew and murdered senior government officials, the other ethnic groups of Nigeria, particularly the Hausa, launched a massive anti-Igbo campaign. This campaign began with the 1966 anti-Igbo pogrom and the 1966 Nigerian counter-coup. In the pogrom, Igbo property was destroyed and up to 300,000 Igbos fled the North and sought safety in the East and about 30,000 Igbos were killed. In the counter-coup that followed, Igbo civilians and military personnel were also systematically murdered. [482] On May 30, 1967, when the Igbos declared their independence from Nigeria and formed the breakaway state of Biafra, the Nigerian and British governments [483] launched a total blockade of Biafra. Initially on the offensive, Biafra began to suffer and its government frequently had to move because the Nigerian army kept on conquering its capital cities. The main cause of death was starvation, and children suffered the most. Children were often afflicted with Kwashiorkor, a disease caused by malnutrition. The people resorted to cannibalism on many occasions. [484] The documentation of the suffering of the Igbo children is attributed to the work of the French Red Cross and other Christian organisations. There are many estimates for the death toll of the Igbo in the genocide. The number of soldiers who were killed in the war is estimated to be 100,000 and the number of civilians who were also killed ranges from 500,000 to 3.5 million. More than half of those who died in the war were children. [483] Currently, Nigeria still suppresses peaceful protests by Biafra independence hopefuls, often by sending soldiers to beat protestors and even to kill them. [485]


After independence was gained after the Algerian War the Harkis (Muslims who supported the French during the war) were seen as traitors by many Algerians, and many of those who stayed behind suffered severe reprisals after independence. French historians estimate that somewhere between 50,000 and 150,000 Harkis and members of their families were killed by the FLN or by lynch mobs in Algeria, often in atrocious circumstances or after torture. [486]

Cambodia 1975-1979

Rooms of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum contain thousands of photos taken by the Khmer Rouge of their victims. Photos of victims in Tuol Sleng prison (2).JPG
Rooms of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum contain thousands of photos taken by the Khmer Rouge of their victims.

In Cambodia, a genocide was carried out by the Khmer Rouge (KR) regime led by Pol Pot between 1975 and 1979 in which an estimated one and a half to three million people died. [487] The KR group had planned to create a form of agrarian socialism which was founded on the ideals of Stalinism and Maoism. The KR policies of forced relocation of the population from urban centers, torture, mass executions, use of forced labor, malnutrition, and disease led to the death of an estimated 25 percent of the total population (around 2 million people). [488] [489] The genocide ended following the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. [490] At least 20,000 mass graves, known as the Killing Fields, have since been uncovered. [491]

Guatemala 1981–1983

Memorial to the victims of the Rio Negro massacres Memorial Rio Negro.jpg
Memorial to the victims of the Río Negro massacres

During the Guatemalan civil war, between 140,000 and 200,000 people are estimated to have died and more than one million fled their homes and hundreds of villages were destroyed. The officially chartered Historical Clarification Commission attributed more than 93% of all documented human rights violations to U.S.–supported Guatemala's military government; and estimated that Maya Indians accounted for 83% of the victims. [492] Although the war lasted from 1960 to 1996, the Historical Clarification Commission concluded that genocide might have occurred between 1981 and 1983, when the government and guerrilla had the fiercest and bloodiest combats and strategies, especially in the oil-rich area of Ixcán on the northern part of Quiché. [493] The total numbers of killed or "disappeared" was estimated to be around 200,000, [494] although this is an extrapolation that was done by the Historical Clarification Commission based on the cases that they documented, and there were no more than 50,000. [495] The commission also found that U.S. corporations and government officials "exercised pressure to maintain the country's archaic and unjust socio-economic structure," and that the Central Intelligence Agency backed illegal counterinsurgency operations. [496]

Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide RIOS M genocida 07Apr06.JPG
Efraín Ríos Montt was found guilty of genocide

In 1999, Nobel peace prize winner Rigoberta Menchú brought a case against the military leadership in a Spanish Court. Six officials, among them Efraín Ríos Montt and Óscar Humberto Mejía Victores, were formally charged on 7 July 2006 to appear in the Spanish National Court after Spain's Constitutional Court ruled in 2005 that Spanish courts could exercise universal jurisdiction over war crimes committed during the Guatemalan Civil War. [497] In May 2013, Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide for killing 1,700 indigenous Ixil Mayans during 1982–83 by a Guatemalan court and sentenced to 80 years in prison. [498] However, on 20 May 2013, the Constitutional Court of Guatemala overturned the conviction, voiding all proceedings back to 19 April and ordering that the trial be "reset" to that point, pending a dispute over the recusal of judges. [499] [500] Ríos Montt's trial was supposed to resume in January 2015, [501] but it was suspended after a judge was forced to recuse herself. [502] Doctors declared Ríos Montt unfit to stand trial on 8 July 2015, noting that he would be unable to understand the charges brought against him. [503]

Bangladesh Liberation War Genocide of 1971

An academic consensus holds that the events that took place during the Bangladesh Liberation War constituted genocide. [504] During the nine-month-long conflict an estimated 300,000 to 3 million people were killed and the Pakistani armed forces raped between 200,000–400,000 Bangladeshi women and girls in an act of genocidal rape. [505]

A 2008 study estimated that up to 269,000 civilians died in the conflict; the authors noted that this is far higher than two earlier estimates. [506]

2013 Shahbag protests demanding the death penalty for the war criminals of the 1971 war Protest against War Crimes at Shahabag Square (8459696133).jpg
2013 Shahbag protests demanding the death penalty for the war criminals of the 1971 war

A case was filed in the Federal Court of Australia on 20 September 2006 for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide during 1971 by the Pakistani Armed Forces and its collaborators: [507]

We are glad to announce that a case has been filed in the Federal Magistrate's Court of Australia today under the Genocide Conventions Act 1949 and War Crimes Act. This is the first time in history that someone is attending a court proceeding in relation to the [alleged] crimes of Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during 1971 by the Pakistani Armed Forces and its collaborators. The Proceeding number is SYG 2672 of 2006. On 25 October 2006, a direction hearing will take place in the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia, Sydney registry before Federal Magistrate His Honor Nicholls.

On 21 May 2007, at the request of the applicant the case was discontinued. [508]

Burundi 1972 and 1993

After Burundi gained its independence in 1962, two events occurred which were labeled genocide. The first event was the mass-killing of Hutus by the Tutsi army in 1972 [509] and the second event was the killing of Tutsis by the Hutu population in 1993 which was recognized as an act of genocide in the final report of the International Commission of Inquiry for Burundi presented to the United Nations Security Council in 2002. [510]

North Korea

Several million people in North Korea have died of starvation since the mid-1990s, with aid groups and human rights NGOs often stating that the North Korean government has systematically and deliberately prevented food aid from reaching the areas most devastated by food shortages. [511] An additional one million people have died in North Korea's political prison camps, which are used to detain dissidents and their entire families, including children, for perceived political offences. [512]

In 2004, Yad Vashem called on the international community to investigate "political genocide" in North Korea. [512]

In September 2011, a Harvard International Review article argued that the North Korean government was violating the UN Genocide Convention by systematically killing half-Chinese babies and members of religious groups. [513] North Korea's Christian population, which was considered to be the center of Christianity in East Asia in 1945 and included 25–30% of the inhabitants of Pyongyang, has been systematically massacred and persecuted; as of 2012 50,000–70,000 Christians were imprisoned in North Korea's concentration camps. [514]

Equatorial Guinea

Francisco Macías Nguema was the first President of Equatorial Guinea, from 1968 until his overthrow in 1979. [515] During his presidency, his country was nicknamed "the Auschwitz of Africa". Nguema's regime was characterized by its abandonment of all government functions except internal security, which was accomplished by terror; he acted as chief judge and sentenced thousands to death. This led to the death or exile of up to 1/3 of the country's population. From a population of 300,000, an estimated 80,000 had been killed, in particular those of the Bubi ethnic minority on Bioko associated with relative wealth and education. [516] Uneasy around educated people, he had killed everyone who wore spectacles. All schools were ordered closed in 1975. The economy collapsed and skilled citizens and foreigners emigrated. [517]

On 3 August 1979, he was overthrown by his nephew Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo. [518] Macías Nguema was captured and tried for genocide and other crimes along with 10 others. All were found guilty, four received terms of imprisonment and Nguema and the other six were executed on 29 September. [519]

John B. Quigley noted at Macías Nguema's trial that Equatorial Guinea had not ratified the Genocide convention and that records of the court proceedings show that there was some confusion over whether Nguema and his co-defendants were tried under the laws of Spain (the former colonial government) or whether the trial was justified on the claim that the Genocide Convention was part of customary international law. Quigley stated, "The Macias case stands out as the most confusing of domestic genocide prosecutions from the standpoint of the applicable law. The Macias conviction is also problematic from the standpoint of the identity of the protected group." [520]


Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66

In the mid-1960s, hundreds of thousands of leftists and those tied to the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) were massacred by the Indonesian military and right-wing paramilitary groups after a failed coup attempt which was blamed on the Communists. At least 500,000 people were killed over a period of several months, with thousands more being interned in prisons and concentration camps under extremely inhumane conditions. [521] [522] [523] The violence culminated in the fall of President Sukarno and the commencement of Suharto's thirty-year authoritarian rule. Some scholars have described the killings as genocide, [524] [525] including Robert Cribb, Jess Melvin and Joshua Oppenheimer. [526] [527] [528]

According to scholars and a 2016 international tribunal held in the Hague, Western powers, including Great Britain, Australia and the United States, aided and abetted the mass killings. [529] [530] [531] [532] U.S. Embassy officials provided kill lists to the Indonesian military which contained the names of 5,000 suspected high-ranking members of the PKI. [533] [534] [535] [536] [537] Many of those accused of being Communists were journalists, trade union leaders and intellectuals. [538]

Methods of killing included beheading, evisceration, dismemberment and castration. [539] A top-secret CIA report stated that the massacres "rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century, along with the Soviet purges of the 1930s, the Nazi mass murders during the Second World War, and the Maoist bloodbath of the early 1950s." [537]

West New Guinea/West Papua

An estimated 100,000+ Papuans have died since Indonesia took control of West New Guinea from the Dutch Government in 1963. [540] [541] [542] An academic report alleged that "contemporary evidence set out [in this report] suggests that the Indonesian government has committed proscribed acts with the intent to destroy the West Papuans as such, in violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the customary international law prohibition this Convention embodies." [541] :75

East Timor
A re-enactment of the Santa Cruz massacre, November 1998 Re-enactment Santa Cruz massacre.jpg
A re-enactment of the Santa Cruz massacre, November 1998

East Timor was occupied by Indonesia from 1975 to 1999 as an annexed territory with provincial status. A detailed statistical report prepared for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor cited a lower range of 102,800 conflict-related deaths in the period from 1974–1999, namely, approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 excess deaths from hunger and illness, including the Indonesian military using "starvation as a weapon to exterminate the East Timorese", [543] most of which occurred during the Indonesian occupation. [543] [544] Earlier estimates of deaths during the occupation ranged from 60,000 to 200,000. [545]

According to Sian Powell a UN report confirmed that the Indonesian military used starvation as a weapon and employed Napalm and chemical weapons, which poisoned the food and water supply. [543] Ben Kiernan wrote:

the crimes committed ... in East Timor, with a toll of 150,000 in a population of 650,000, clearly meet a range of sociological definitions of genocide ...[with] both political and ethnic groups as possible victims of genocide. The victims in East Timor included not only that substantial 'part' of the Timorese 'national group' targeted for destruction because of their resistance to Indonesian annexation...but also most members of the twenty-thousand strong ethnic Chinese minority. [546]



Immediately following the Bangladesh independence war of 1971, the Biharis living in Bangladesh were accused of being "traitors" or "pro-Pakistani" by the Bengalis, and an estimated 1,000 to 150,000 Biharis were killed by Bengali mobs in what is described as "Retributive Genocide". [547] [548] Mukti Bahini has been accused of crimes against minority Biharis by the Government of Pakistan. According to a white paper released by the Pakistani government, the Awami League killed 30,000 Biharis and West Pakistanis. Bengali mobs were often armed, sometimes with machetes and bamboo staffs. [549] 300 Biharis were killed by Bengali mobs in Chittagong. The massacre was used by the Pakistani Army as a justification to launch Operation Searchlight against the Bengali nationalist movement. [550] Biharis were massacred in Jessore, Panchabibi and Khulna (where, in March 1972, 300 to 1,000 Biharis were killed and their bodies were thrown into a nearby river). [551] [552] [553] Having generated unrest among Bengalis, [554] Biharis became the target of retaliation. The Minorities at Risk project puts the number of Biharis killed during the war at 1,000; [555] however, R.J. Rummel cites a "likely" figure of 150,000. [556]

Indigenous Chakmas

In Bangladesh, the persecution of the indigenous tribes of the Chittagong Hill Tracts such as the Chakma, Marma, Tripura and others, who are mainly Buddhists, has been described as genocidal. [557] [558] [559] [560] [561] There are also accusations of Chakmas being forced to leave their religion, many of them children who have been abducted for this purpose. The conflict started soon after Bangladeshi independence in 1971, when the Constitution imposed Bengali as the only sole language and a military coup happened in 1975. Subsequently, the government encouraged and sponsored the massive settlement of Bangladeshis in the region, which changed the indigenous population's demographics from 98 percent in 1971 to fifty percent by 2000. The Bangladeshi government sent one third of its military forces to the region to support the settlers, sparking a protracted guerilla war between Hill tribes and the military. [558] During this conflict, which officially ended in 1997, and during the subsequent period, a large number of human rights violations against the indigenous peoples have been reported, with violence against indigenous women being particularly extreme. [562]

Bengali soldiers and some fundamentalists settlers were also accused of raping native Jumma (Chakma) women "with impunity", with the Bangladeshi security forces doing little or nothing to protect the Jummas and instead assisting the rapists and settlers. [563]

Although Bangladesh is an officially secular country, [564] the events leading up to East Pakistan's secession amounted to religious and ethnic genocide. [565]


Commemoration in Argentina Acto recuperacion de La Perla (Cordoba)-24MAR07-Autor Martin Gaitan(4).jpg
Commemoration in Argentina

In September 2006, Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz, who had been the police commissioner of the province of Buenos Aires during the Dirty War (1976–1983), was found guilty of six counts of murder, six counts of unlawful imprisonment and seven counts of torture in a federal court. The judge who presided over the case, Carlos Rozanski, described the offences as part of a systematic attack that was intended to destroy parts of society that the victims represented and as such was genocide. Rozanski noted that CPPCG does not include the elimination of political groups (because that group was removed at the behest of Stalin), but instead based his findings on 11 December 1946 United Nations General Assembly Resolution 96 barring acts of genocide "when racial, religious, political and other groups have been destroyed, entirely or in part" (which passed unanimously), because he considered the original UN definition to be more legitimate than the politically compromised CPPCG definition. [566]


Ethiopia's former Soviet-backed Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was tried in an Ethiopian court, in absentia , for his role in mass killings. Mengistu's charge sheet and evidence list covered 8,000 pages. The evidence against him included signed execution orders, videos of torture sessions and personal testimonies. [567] The trial began in 1994 and on 12 December 2006 Mengistu was found guilty of genocide and other offences. He was sentenced to life in prison in January 2007. [568] [569] Ethiopian law includes attempts to annihilate political groups in its definition of genocide. [570] 106 Derg officials were accused of genocide during the trials, but only 36 of them were present. Several former Derg members have been sentenced to death. [571] Zimbabwe refused to respond to Ethiopia's extradition request for Mengistu, which permitted him to avoid a life sentence. Mengistu supported Robert Mugabe, the former long-standing President of Zimbabwe, during his leadership of Ethiopia. [572]

Michael Clough, a US attorney and longtime Ethiopia observer, told Voice of America in a statement released on 13 December 2006, [573]

The biggest problem with prosecuting Mengistu for genocide is that his actions did not necessarily target a particular group. They were directed against anybody who was opposing his government, and they were generally much more political than based on any ethnic targeting. In contrast, the irony is the Ethiopian government itself has been accused of genocide based on atrocities committed in Gambella. I'm not sure that they qualify as genocide either. But in Gambella, the incidents, which were well documented in a human rights report of about 2 years ago, were clearly directed at a particular group, the tribal group, the Anuak.

An estimated 150,000 university students, intellectuals and politicians were killed during Mengistu's rule. [574] Amnesty International estimates that up to 500,000 people were killed during the Ethiopian Red Terror [575] Human Rights Watch described the Red Terror as "one of the most systematic uses of mass murder by a state ever witnessed in Africa". [567] During his reign it was not uncommon to see students, suspected government critics or rebel sympathisers hanging from lampposts. Mengistu himself is alleged to have murdered opponents by garroting or shooting them, saying that he was leading by example. [576]

Baathist Iraq

Genocide of Kurds

On 23 December 2005, a Dutch court ruled in a case brought against Frans van Anraat for supplying chemicals to Iraq, that "[it] thinks and considers it legally and convincingly proven that the Kurdish population meets the requirement under the genocide convention as an ethnic group. The court has no other conclusion than that these attacks were committed with the intent to destroy the Kurdish population of Iraq." Because van Anraat supplied the chemicals before 16 March 1988, the date of the Halabja poison gas attack he was guilty of a war crime but not guilty of complicity in genocide. [577] [578]

Marsh Arabs

The water diversion plan for the Draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes was accompanied by a series of propaganda articles by the Iraqi regime directed against the Ma'dan, [579] and the wetlands were systematically converted into a desert, forcing the residents out of their settlements in the region. The western Hammar Marshes and the Qurnah or Central Marshes became completely desiccated, while the eastern Hawizeh Marshes dramatically shrank. Furthermore, villages in the marshes were attacked and burnt down and there were reports of the water being deliberately poisoned. [580]

The majority of the Maʻdān were displaced either to areas adjacent to the drained marshes, abandoning their traditional lifestyle in favour of conventional agriculture, or to towns and camps in other areas of Iraq. An estimated 80,000 to 120,000 fled to refugee camps in Iran. [581] The Marsh Arabs, who numbered about half a million in the 1950s, have dwindled to as few as 20,000 in Iraq. Only 1,600 of them were estimated to still be living on traditional dibins by 2003. [582]

Besides the general UN-imposed Gulf war sanctions, there was no specific legal recourse for those displaced by the drainage projects, nor was there prosecution of those involved. Article 2.c of the Genocide Convention (to which Iraq had acceded in 1951 [583] ) forbids "deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part." Additionally, the Saint Petersburg Declaration says that "the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy", a provision potentially violated by the Ba'athist government as part of their campaign against the insurgents which had taken refuge in the marshlands. [584]

People's Republic of China


On 5 June 1959 Shri Purshottam Trikamdas, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, presented a report on Tibet to the International Commission of Jurists (an NGO). The press conference address on the report states in paragraph 26:

From the facts stated above the following conclusions may be drawn: ... (e) To examine all such evidence obtained by this Committee and from other sources and to take appropriate action thereon and in particular to determine whether the crime of Genocide—for which already there is strong presumption—is established and, in that case, to initiate such action as envisaged by the Genocide Convention of 1948 and by the Charter of the United Nations for suppression of these acts and appropriate redress; [585]

The report of the International Commission of Jurists (1960) claimed that there was only "cultural" genocide. ICJ Report (1960) page 346: "The committee found that acts of genocide had been committed in Tibet in an attempt to destroy the Tibetans as a religious group, and that such acts are acts of genocide independently of any conventional obligation. The committee did not find that there was sufficient proof of the destruction of Tibetans as a race, nation or ethnic group as such by methods that can be regarded as genocide in international law."

However, cultural genocide is also contested by academics such as Barry Sautman. [586] Tibetan is the everyday language of the Tibetan people. [587]

The Central Tibetan Administration and other Tibetan in exile media claimed that approximately 1.2 million Tibetans have died of starvation, violence, or other indirect causes since 1950. [588] White states "In all, over one million Tibetans, a fifth of the population, had died as a result of the Chinese occupation right up until the end of the Cultural Revolution." [589] This figure has been refuted by Patrick French, the former Director of the Free Tibet Campaign in London. [590]

Jones argued that the struggle sessions after the 1959 Tibetan uprising may be considered genocide, based on the claim that the conflict resulted in 92,000 deaths. [591] However, according to tibetologist Tom Grunfeld, "the veracity of such a claim is difficult to verify." [592]

In 2013, Spain's top criminal court decided to hear a case brought by Tibetan rights activists who alleged that China's former President Hu Jintao had committed genocide in Tibet. [593] Spain's High Court dropped this case in June 2014. [594]

Xinjiang re-education camps


The Helmet Massacre of the Tikuna people took place in 1988 and it was initially treated as homicide. During the massacre four people died, nineteen were wounded, and ten disappeared. Since 1994 the episode has been treated by Brazilian courts as genocide. Thirteen men were convicted of genocide in 2001. In November 2004, after an appeal was filed before Brazil's federal court, the man initially found guilty of hiring men to carry out the genocide was acquitted, and the killers had their initial sentences of 15–25 years reduced to 12 years. [595]

In November 2005, during an investigation code-named Operation Rio Pardo, Mario Lucio Avelar, a Brazilian public prosecutor in Cuiabá, told Survival International that he believed that there were sufficient grounds to prosecute for genocide of the Rio Pardo Indians. In November 2006 twenty-nine people were arrested with others implicated, such as a former police commander and the governor of Mato Grosso state. [596]

In 2006 the Brazilian Supreme Federal Court (STF) unanimously reaffirmed that the crime known as the Haximu massacre (perpetrated on the Yanomami Indians in 1993) [597] was a genocide and that the decision of a federal court to sentence miners to 19 years in prison for genocide in connection with other offenses, such as smuggling and illegal mining, was valid. [597] [598]

Post-Soviet Afghanistan

Massacres of Hazaras and other groups by the Taliban

Between 1996 and 2001 15 massacre campaigns were committed by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda; the United Nations stated: "These are the same type of war crimes as were committed in Bosnia and should be prosecuted in international courts" [599] Following the 1997 massacre of 3,000 Taliban prisoners by Abdul Malik Pahlawan in Mazar-i-Sharif [600] (which the Hazaras did not commit [601] ) thousands of Hazara men and boys were massacred by other Taliban members in the same city in August 1998. [602] After the attack, Mullah Niazi, the commander of the attack and the new governor of Mazar, declared from several mosques in the city in separate speeches:

Last year you rebelled against us and killed us. From all your homes you shot at us. Now we are here to deal with you. (...)
Hazaras are not Muslim, they are Shia. They are kofr (infidels). The Hazaras killed our force here, and now we have to kill Hazaras. (...)
If you do not show your loyalty, we will burn your houses, and we will kill you. You either accept to be Muslims or leave Afghanistan. (...)
[W]herever you [Hazaras] go we will catch you. If you go up, we will pull you down by your feet; if you hide below, we will pull you up by your hair. (...)
If anyone is hiding Hazaras in his house he too will be taken away. What [Hizb-i] Wahdat and the Hazaras did to the Talibs, we did many as they killed, we killed more. [603]

In these killings 2,000 [604] [601] to 5,000, [601] or perhaps up to 20,000 [605] Hazara were systematically executed across the city. [601] [605] The Taliban searched for combat age males by conducting door to door searches of Hazara households, [601] shooting them and slitting their throats right in front of their families. [601] Human rights organizations reported that the dead were lying on the streets for weeks before the Taliban allowed their burial due to stench and fear of epidemics. There were also reports of Hazara women being abducted as sex slaves. [604] In November 2001 Hazara leaders claimed that the Taliban executed 15,000 [606] of their people in Bamiyan; the United Nation investigated three mass graves allegedly containing the victims in 2002. [606] The persecution of Hazaras has been called genocide by media outlets. [607]

Democratic Republic of the Congo

During the Congo Civil War (1998–2003), pygmies were hunted down and eaten by both sides in the conflict, who regarded them as subhuman. [608] Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, asked the UN Security Council to recognize cannibalism as both a crime against humanity and an act of genocide. [609] [610] Minority Rights Group International reported evidence of mass killings, cannibalism and rape. The report, which labeled these events as a campaign of extermination, linked the violence to beliefs about special powers held by the Bambuti. [611] In Ituri district, rebel forces ran an operation code-named "Effacer le tableau" (to wipe the slate clean). The aim of the operation, according to witnesses, was to rid the forest of pygmies. [612]

Over 5,000 people seeking refuge in Ntarama church were killed by grenade, machete, rifle, or burnt alive. Ntrama Church Altar.jpg
Over 5,000 people seeking refuge in Ntarama church were killed by grenade, machete, rifle, or burnt alive.

In 2010 a report accused Rwanda's Tutsi-led army of committing genocide against ethnic Hutus. The report accused the Rwandan Army and allied Congolese rebels of killing tens of thousands of ethnic Hutu refugees from Rwanda and locals in systematic attacks between 1996 and 1997. The government of Rwanda rejected the accusation. [613]


1988–1991 Isaaq genocide

The Isaaq genocide or "(Sometimes referred to as the Hargeisa Holocaust)" [614] [615] was the systematic, state-sponsored massacre of Isaaq civilians between 1988 and 1991 by the Somali Democratic Republic under the dictatorship of Siad Barre. [616] A number of genocide scholars (including Israel Charny, [617] Gregory Stanton, [618] Deborah Mayersen, [619] and Adam Jones [620] ) as well as international media outlets, such as The Guardian , [621] The Washington Post [622] and Al Jazeera [623] among others, have referred to the case as one of genocide. In 2001, the United Nations commissioned an investigation on past human rights violations in Somalia, [616] specifically to find out if "crimes of international jurisdiction (i.e. war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide) had been perpetrated during the country's civil war". The investigation was commissioned jointly by the United Nations Co-ordination Unit (UNCU) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The investigation concluded with a report confirming the crime of genocide to have taken place against the Isaaqs in Somalia. [624]

2007 Bantu attacks

In 2007 attacks on Somalia's Bantu population and Jubba Valley dwellers from 1991 onwards were reported, noting that "Somalia is a rare case in which genocidal acts were carried out by militias in the utter absence of a governing state structure." [625]


A Russian soldier stands by a mass grave of Chechens in Komsomolskoye, 2000 Fosse commune de Saadi-Kotar.jpg
A Russian soldier stands by a mass grave of Chechens in Komsomolskoye, 2000

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Chechnya declared independence from the Russian Federation. President Boris Yeltsin refused to accept its independence; subsequently, this escalated when Russian troops attacked Chechnya in the First Chechen War in 1994, and they attacked Chechnya again in the Second Chechen War in 1999. By 2009, Chechen resistance was crushed and the war ended with Russia again taking control over Chechnya. Numerous war crimes were reported during both conflicts. [626] Amnesty International estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 have been killed in the First Chechen War alone, mostly by indiscriminate attacks by Russian forces on densely populated areas. [627]

Some scholars estimated that the brutality of the Russian government attacks on such a small ethnic group amounted to a crime of genocide. [628] [629] The German-based NGO Society for Threatened Peoples accused the Russian authorities of genocide in its 2005 report on Chechnya. [630]

Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankan military was accused of human rights violations during Sri Lanka's 26-year civil war. [631] A United Nation's Panel of Experts looking into these alleged violations found "credible allegations, which if proven, indicate that serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law were committed both by the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, some of which would amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity". [632] Some activists and politicians also accused the Sri Lankan government of carrying out genocide against the minority Sri Lankan Tamil people, who are mostly Hindu, during and after the war. [633]

Bruce Fein alleged that Sri Lanka's leaders committed genocide, [634] along with Tamil Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran. [635] Refugees escaping Sri Lanka also stated that they fled from genocide, [636] and various Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora groups echoed these accusations. [637] [638]

In 2009, thousands of Tamils protested in cities all over the world against the atrocities. (See 2009 Tamil diaspora protests.) [639] Various diaspora activists formed a group called Tamils Against Genocide to continue the protest. [640] Legal action against Sri Lankan leaders for alleged genocide has been initiated. Norwegian human rights lawyer Harald Stabell filed a case in Norwegian courts against Sri Lankan President Rajapaksa and other officials. [641]

Politicians in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu also made accusations of genocide. [642] In 2008 and 2009 the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi repeatedly appealed to the Indian government to intervene to "stop the genocide of Tamils", [643] while his successor J. Jayalalithaa called on the Indian government to bring Rajapaksa before international courts for genocide. [644] The women's wing of the Communist Party of India, passed a resolution in August 2012 finding that "Systematic sexual violence against Tamil women" by Sri Lankan forces constituted genocide, calling for an "independent international investigation". [645]

In January 2010, a Permanent Peoples' Tribunal (PPT) held in Dublin, Ireland, found Sri Lanka guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but found insufficient evidence to justify the charge of genocide. [646] [647] The tribunal requested a thorough investigation as some of the evidence indicated "possible acts of genocide". [646] Its panel found Sri Lanka guilty of genocide at its 7–10 December 2013 hearings in Berman, Germany. It also found that the US and UK were guilty of complicity. A decision on whether India, and other states, had also acted in complicity was withheld. PPT reported that LTTE could not be accurately characterized as "terrorist", stating that movements classified as "terrorist" because of their rebellion against a state, can become political entities recognized by the international community. [648] [649] The International Commission of Jurists stated that the camps used to intern nearly 300,000 Tamils after the war's end may have breached the convention against genocide. [650]

In 2015, Sri Lanka's Tamil majority Northern Provincial Council (NPC) "passed a strongly worded resolution accusing successive governments in the island nation of committing 'genocide' against Tamils". [651] The resolution asserts that "Tamils across Sri Lanka, particularly in the historical Tamil homeland of the NorthEast, have been subject to gross and systematic human rights violations, culminating in the mass atrocities committed in 2009. Sri Lanka's historic violations include over 60 years of state sponsored anti-Tamil pogroms, massacres, sexual violence, and acts of cultural and linguistic destruction perpetrated by the state. These atrocities have been perpetrated with the intent to destroy the Tamil people, and therefore constitute genocide." [652]

The Sri Lankan government denied the allegations of genocide and war crimes. [653]


Rohingya refugees entering Bangladesh after being driven out of Myanmar, 2017 Rohingya refugees entering Bangladesh after being driven out of Myanmar, 2017.JPG
Rohingya refugees entering Bangladesh after being driven out of Myanmar, 2017

Myanmar's government has been accused of crimes against the Muslim Rohingya minority that are alleged to amount to genocide. It has been alleged that Rohingya are the primary targets of hate crimes and discrimination amounting to genocide fueled by extremist nationalist Buddhist monks and Thein Sein's government. Muslim groups have claimed that they were subjected to genocide, torture, arbitrary detention, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. [654] [655]

On 25 August 2017, the Myanmar military forces and local Buddhist extremists started attacking the Rohingya people and committing atrocities against them in the country's north-west Rakhine state. The atrocities included attacks on Rohingya people and locations, looting and burning down Rohingya villages, mass killing of Rohingya civilians, gang rapes, and other sexual violence.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) estimated in December 2017 that during the persecution, the military and the local Buddhists killed at least 10,000 Rohingya people. [656] [657] At least 392 Rohingya villages in Rakhine state were reported as burned down and destroyed, [658] as well as the looting of many Rohingya houses, [659] and widespread gang rapes and other forms of sexual violence against the Rohingya Muslim women and girls. [660] [661] [662] The military drive also displaced a large number of Rohingya people and made them refugees. According to the United Nations reports, as of September 2018, over 700,000 Rohingya people had fled or had been driven out of Rakhine state who then took shelter in the neighboring Bangladesh as refugees. In December 2017, two Reuters journalists who had been covering the Inn Din massacre event were arrested and imprisoned.

The 2017 persecution against the Rohingya Muslims and non-Muslims has been termed as ethnic cleansing and genocide by various United Nations agencies, International Criminal Court officials, human rights groups, and governments. [663] [664] [665] [666] [667] [668] [669] British prime minister Theresa May and United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called it "ethnic cleansing" while the French President Emmanuel Macron described the situation as "genocide". [670] [671] [672] The United Nations described the persecution as "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing". In late September that year, a seven-member panel of the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal found the Myanmar military and the Myanmar authority guilty of the crime of genocide against the Rohingya and the Kachin minority groups. [673] [674] The Myanmar leader and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was again criticized for her silence over the issue and for supporting the military actions. [675] Subsequently, in November 2017, the governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar signed a deal to facilitate the return of Rohingya refugees to their native Rakhine state within two months, drawing a mixed response from international onlookers. [676]

In August 2018, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, reporting the findings of their investigation into the August–September 2017 events, declared that the Myanmar military—the Tatmadaw, and several of its commanders (including Commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing)—should face charges in the International Criminal Court for "crimes against humanity", including acts of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide," particularly for the August–September 2017 attacks on the Rohingya. [677] [678] [679] [680] [681] [682]



The Saudi Arabian- and United Arab Emirates-led coalition fighting in Yemen has been accused of carrying out a "genocide". [683] [684] [685] [686] [687] [688] U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said: "The United States’ support for Saudi Arabia's genocidal war in Yemen, with no authorization from Congress, has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Yemeni civilians." [688]


A number of observers have referred to the mass killings of alleged drug users and dealers under President Rodrigo Duterte since 2016 as a genocide, [689] [690] [691] and the ICC has opened a case of crimes against humanity. [692] Writing in the Washington Post, Maia Szalavitz argued that the campaign has not had much blowback because drug users are seen as worthless members of society by many and as a result, they are considered easy targets. [693] In his book Dopeworld, author Niko Vorobyov has compared the drug war to the stages of annihilation which culminated in the Holocaust as they were outlined by Raul Hilberg  :

  • Identification – singling out a group of people as subhuman. Duterte has said that meth addicts have shrunken brains. [694]
  • Confiscation and concentration – finding a way to take those people's property away from them, before taking the people away, either to prisons, concentration camps, or deporting them.
  • Annihilation – the final solution, where the unwanted people(s) are simply exterminated. [695]

Duterte has likened himself to Hitler. [696] At a press conference on September 30 2016, Duterte appeared to make a comparison between his War on Drugs and The Holocaust. [697] He said that "Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them." [697] As of March 2019, up to 29,000 people may have been killed. [698]

International prosecution

Ad hoc tribunals

In 1951 only two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC) were parties to the CPPCG: France and the Republic of China. The CPPCG was ratified by the Soviet Union in 1954, the United Kingdom in 1970, the People's Republic of China in 1983 (having replaced the Taiwan-based Republic of China on the UNSC in 1971), and the United States in 1988. In the 1990s the international law on the crime of genocide began to be enforced.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Exhumed mass grave of Srebrenica massacre victims in 2007 Srebrenica Massacre - Exhumed Grave of Victims - Potocari 2007.jpg
Exhumed mass grave of Srebrenica massacre victims in 2007
Radovan Karadzic, the former president of Republika Srpska, during the trial at the ICTY in 2016 Radovan Karadzic ICTY.jpg
Radovan Karadžić, the former president of Republika Srpska, during the trial at the ICTY in 2016

In July 1995 Serbian forces killed more than 8,000 [699] [700] Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), mainly men and boys, in and around the town of Srebrenica during the Bosnian War. The killing was perpetrated by units of the Army of Republika Srpska (VRS) under the command of General Ratko Mladić. The Secretary-General of the United Nations described the mass murder as the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War. [701] [702] A paramilitary unit from Serbia known as the Scorpions, officially a part of the Serbian Interior Ministry until 1991, participated in the massacre, [703] [704] along with several hundred Russian and Greek volunteers. [705]

In 2001 the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) delivered its first conviction for the crime of genocide, against General Krstić for his role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre (on appeal he was found not guilty of genocide but was instead found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide). [706]

In February 2007 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) returned a judgement in the Bosnian Genocide Case. It upheld the ICTY's findings that genocide had been committed in and around Srebrenica but did not find that genocide had been committed on the wider territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war. The ICJ also ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the genocide nor was it responsible for "aiding and abetting it", although it ruled that Serbia could have done more to prevent the genocide and that Serbia failed to punish the perpetrators. [707] Before this ruling the term Bosnian Genocide had been used by some academics [708] and human rights officials. [709]

In 2010, Vujadin Popović, Lieutenant Colonel and the Chief of Security of the Drina Corps of the Bosnian Serb Army, and Ljubiša Beara, Colonel and Chief of Security of the same army, were convicted of genocide, extermination, murder and persecution by the ICTY for their role in the Srebrenica massacre and were each sentenced to life in prison. [710] In 2016 and 2017, Radovan Karadžić [711] and Ratko Mladić were sentenced for genocide. [712]

German courts handed down convictions for genocide during the Bosnian War. Novislav Djajic was indicted for his participation in the genocide, but the Higher Regional Court failed to find that there was sufficient certainty for a criminal conviction for genocide. Nevertheless, Djajic was found guilty of 14 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. [713] At Djajic's appeal on 23 May 1997, the Bavarian Appeals Chamber found that acts of genocide were committed in June 1992, confined within the administrative district of Foca. [714] The Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf, in September 1997, handed down a genocide conviction against Nikola Jorgic, a Bosnian Serb from the Doboj region who was the leader of a paramilitary group located in the Doboj region. He was sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment for his involvement in genocidal actions that took place in regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina, other than Srebrenica; [715] and "On 29 November 1999, the Higher Regional Court (Oberlandesgericht) of Düsseldorf condemned Maksim Sokolovic to 9 years in prison for aiding and abetting the crime of genocide and for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions." [716]


The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) is a court under the auspices of the United Nations for the prosecution of offences committed in Rwanda during the genocide that occurred there during April and May 1994, commencing on 6 April. The ICTR was created on 8 November 1994 by the UN Security Council to resolve claims in Rwanda, or by Rwandan citizens in nearby states, between 1 January and 31 December 1994. For approximately 100 days from the assassination of President Juvénal Habyarimana on 6 April through mid-July, at least 800,000 people were killed, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.

As of mid-2011, the ICTR had convicted 57 people and acquitted 8. Another ten persons were still on trial while one is awaiting trial. Nine remain at large. [717] The first trial, of Jean-Paul Akayesu, ended in 1998 with his conviction for genocide and crimes against humanity. [718] This was the world's first conviction for genocide, as defined by the 1948 Convention. Jean Kambanda, interim Prime Minister during the genocide, pleaded guilty.


Skulls at Choeung Ek memorial in Cambodia Skulls from the killing fields.jpg
Skulls at Choeung Ek memorial in Cambodia

The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, Ta Mok and other leaders, organized the mass killing of ideologically suspect groups, ethnic minorities such as ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese (or Sino-Khmers), Chams and Thais, former civil servants, former government soldiers, Buddhist monks, secular intellectuals and professionals, and former city dwellers. Khmer Rouge cadres defeated in factional struggles were also liquidated in purges. Man-made famine and slave labor resulted in many hundreds of thousands of deaths. [719] Craig Etcheson suggested that the death toll was between 2 and 2.5 million, with a "most likely" figure of 2.2 million. After 5 years of researching 20,000 grave sites, he concluded that "these mass graves contain the remains of 1,386,734 victims of execution." [720] However, some scholars argued that the Khmer Rouge were not racist and had no intention of exterminating ethnic minorities or the Cambodian people; in this view, their brutality was the product of an extreme version of communist ideology. [721]

On 6 June 2003 the Cambodian government and the United Nations reached an agreement to set up the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), which would focus exclusively on crimes committed by the most senior Khmer Rouge officials during the period of Khmer Rouge rule from 1975 to 1979. [722] The judges were sworn in in early July 2006. [723]

The investigating judges were presented with the names of five possible suspects by the prosecution on 18 July 2007. [723] [724]

Khieu Samphan at a public hearing before the Pre-Trial Cambodia Tribunal on 3 July 2009. KSAMPHAN3July2009-1.jpg
Khieu Samphan at a public hearing before the Pre-Trial Cambodia Tribunal on 3 July 2009.
  • Kang Kek Iew was formally charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity and detained by the Tribunal on 31 July 2007. He was indicted on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on 12 August 2008. [725] His appeal was rejected on 3 February 2012, and he continued serving a sentence of life imprisonment. [726]
  • Nuon Chea, a former prime minister, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 19 September 2007. His trial began on 27 June 2011. [727] [728] On 16 November 2018, he was sentenced to a life in prison for genocide. [729]
  • Khieu Samphan, a former head of state, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 19 September 2007. His trial also began on 27 June 2011. [727] [728] On 16 November 2018, he was sentenced to a life in prison for genocide. [729]
  • Ieng Sary, a former foreign minister, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. He was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 12 November 2007. His trial began on 27 June 2011. [727] [728] He died in March 2013.
  • Ieng Thirith, wife of Ieng Sary and a former minister for social affairs, was indicted on charges of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and several other crimes under Cambodian law on 15 September 2010. She was transferred into the custody of the ECCC on 12 November 2007. Proceedings against her have been suspended pending a health evaluation. [728] [730]

Some of the international jurists and the Cambodian government disagreed over whether any other people should be tried by the Tribunal. [724]

International Criminal Court

The ICC can only prosecute crimes committed on or after 1 July 2002. [731] [732]

Darfur, Sudan

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the ICC Omar al-Bashir, 12th AU Summit, 090131-N-0506A-342.jpg
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the ICC

The ongoing racial [733] [734] conflict in Darfur, Sudan, which started in 2003, was declared a genocide by United States Secretary of State Colin Powell on 9 September 2004 in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. [735] Since that time however, no other permanent member of the UN Security Council has followed suit. In January 2005, an International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur, authorized by UN Security Council Resolution 1564 of 2004, issued a report stating that "the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide." [736] Nevertheless, the Commission cautioned that "The conclusion that no genocidal policy has been pursued and implemented in Darfur by the Government authorities, directly or through the militias under their control, should not be taken in any way as detracting from the gravity of the crimes perpetrated in that region. International offences such as the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been committed in Darfur may be no less serious and heinous than genocide." [736]

In March 2005, the Security Council formally referred the situation in Darfur to the ICC, taking into account the Commission report but without mentioning any specific crimes. [737] Two permanent members of the Security Council, the United States and China, abstained from the vote on the referral resolution. [738] As of his fourth report to the Security Council, the Prosecutor found "reasonable grounds to believe that the individuals identified [in the UN Security Council Resolution 1593] have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes", but did not find sufficient evidence to prosecute for genocide. [739]

In April 2007, the ICC issued arrest warrants against the former Minister of State for the Interior, Ahmad Harun, and a Janjaweed militia leader, Ali Kushayb, for crimes against humanity and war crimes. [740] On 14 July 2008, the ICC filed ten charges of war crimes against Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murder. Prosecutors claimed that al-Bashir "masterminded and implemented a plan to destroy in substantial part" three tribal groups in Darfur because of their ethnicity. [741] On 4 March 2009 the ICC issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest for crimes against humanity and war crimes, but not genocide. This is the first warrant issued by the ICC against a sitting head of state. [742]

See also


    1. 1 2 "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. 12 January 1951. Archived from the original on 11 December 2005. Note: "ethnical", although unusual, is found in several dictionaries.
    2. "Debate continues over what constitutes genocide". Blogwatch. Worldfocus. 5 February 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
    3. M. Hassan Kakar Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion and the Afghan Response, 1979–1982 University of California press 1995 The Regents of the University of California.
    4. Chalk & Jonassohn 1990.
    5. Robert Gellately; Ben Kiernan (2003). The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective. Cambridge, K: Cambridge University Press. p.  267. ISBN   978-0-521-52750-7.
    6. Staub, Ervin (1989). The Roots of Evil: The Origins of Genocide and Other Group Violence. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. p.  8. ISBN   978-0-521-42214-7.
    7. Rummel 1998, p.  Democide versus genocide; which is what?.
    8. Jones 2006 , p. 3 footnote 5 cites Helen Fein, Genocide: A Sociological Perspective, (London: Sage, 1993), p. 26
    9. Jones 2006, p. 3.
    10. Chalk & Jonassohn 1990, p. 28.
    11. Diamond 1992.
    12. Wright 2004, pp. 24, 37.
    13. Gail Glover (24 February 2014). "Neanderthals may have faced extinction long before modern humans emerged". Retrieved 13 February 2016.
    14. Robert Carneiro, “Chiefdom-level warfare as exemplified in Fiji and the Cauca Valley,” Anthropology of War, ed. Jonathan Haas, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p 190-215.
    15. 1 2 Jones 2006, p. 5.
    16. “Chiefdom-level warfare as exemplified in Fiji and the Cauca Valley,” Anthropology of War, ed. Jonathan Haas, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990, p 190-215.
    17. Potter, James M.; Jason P. Chuipka (2010). "Perimortem mutilation of human remains in an early village in the American Southwest: A case for ethnic violence" (PDF). Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 29 (4): 507–523. doi:10.1016/j.jaa.2010.08.001 . Retrieved 18 May 2012.
    18. "How genocide wiped out a Native American population". NBC News. 20 September 2010.
    19. Jones 2006, p. 3, footnote 4.
    20. Jones 2006, p. 4 note 12.
    21. Paul Kahn (1998). The Secret History of the Mongols: The Origin of Chinghis Khan. Cheng & Tsui. ISBN   978-0-88727-299-8.
    22. "Doeke Eisma". Chinggis Qan and the Conquest of Eurasia: A Biography. p. 100.
    23. The Encyclopedia of Genocide, ABC-CLIO, 1999, p. 48, article "Afghanistan, Genocide of"
    24. Totten, Bartrop & Jacobs 2008, p.  Genocides in history at Google Books.
    25. 1 2 Rubinstein 2004, p.  Genocides in history at Google Books.
    26. "History of the Nestorians".
    27. "The Turco-Mongol Invasions". Retrieved 22 May 2012.
    28. 《晉書·卷一百七》 Jin Shu Original text 閔躬率趙人誅諸胡羯,無貴賤男女少長皆斬之,死者二十余萬,屍諸城外,悉為野犬豺狼所食。屯據四方者,所在承閔書誅之,于時高鼻多須至有濫死者半。
    29. Forbath, Peter (1977). The River Congo: The Discovery, Exploration and Exploitation of the World's Most Dramatic Rivers. Harper & Row. p. 278. ISBN   978-0-06-122490-4.
    30. Wertham, Fredric (1968). A Sign For Cain: An Exploration of Human Violence. ISBN   978-0-7091-0232-8.[ page needed ]
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