The term ‘genocide’ is derived from Greek, ‘geno’ meaning ‘race’ and ‘cide’ meaning ‘to kill.’ It was coined by the Polish scholar Raphael Lemkin in his masterpiece Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. In article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) of 1948, it is defined 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; forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.’ The term ‘genocide’ is, however, very subjective and highly controversial. The U.S., for example, considers the Darfur killings as genocide while the UN refrains from the use of this term in this connection.
1. The Holocaust
Holocaust, known as Ha-Shoah in Hebrew, is the worst genocide in the history of mankind. The Holocaust refers to Adolf Hitler’s regime as Chancellor of Germany from January 30, 1933 to May 8, 1945. By the time he shot himself dead in his bunker in April, 1945, more than 11 million people had been killed in Germany, and more than half of them were Jews. Hitler considered the Jews as weak, a cowardly race, and the cause of the German’s misfortunes while he believe that the Germans were superior and being the fittest had the right of survival. He organized the cold-blooded killing of Jews by authorizing the Gestapo, the Secret State Police, to arrest anyone without any hindrance. Jews were brought for this purpose to concentration camps by trains, were stripped, and lined up on the brim of what would be their grave trenches. They were shot with automatic weapons, and mercilessly the Jews fell into their graves. The Jews were brutally treated, starved, and eliminated by putting them to death in specially made poisonous gas chambers.
2. Bosnian Genocide
The Bosnian genocide is known for the 1995 massacre by the Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica. The Bosnian genocide also includes the ethnic cleansing campaign in the army-controlled area. More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed mercilessly during this period, and more than 29,000 Muslims were expelled from their homes in and near Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina. All sorts of brutalities were unleashed during this genocide, and the ethnic cleansing included organized crimes like killing, unlawful confinement, destruction of property, torture, rape, and robbery being a few of them. The U.S. Congress passed a resolution in 2005 declaring that ‘the Serbian policies of aggression and ethnic cleansing meet the terms defining genocide.’
3. The Armenian Genocide
On April 24, 1915, the Ottoman authorities arrested 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in Constantinople. It was the beginning of the Armenian genocide. It was followed by the expulsion of the Armenians from their homeland and forcing them to march into the deserts of Syria being deprived of water and food. The genocide was conducted in two steps, the first being the killing of the healthy adults followed by the second phase of forcing the rest of the minority Armenians into the Syrian desert without food and water, forcing them to face a cruel death. More than 1.4 million Armenians were killed in this genocide.
4. The Rwandan Genocide
The Rwandan genocide was a result of a conflict between the minority Tutsis who had been in power for centuries and the majority Hutu people who gained power during 1959 to 1962. More than 800,000 people were killed during this genocide. The Human Rights Watch estimated the death toll from 500,000 to 1,000,000 people. Mostly the victims were Tutsi people, but they also included the Hutu people considered as informers or pro-Tutsi. Almost 20 percent of the Tutsi population was wiped out. Following the assassination of JuvÃ©nal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, more than 500,000 people were killed within 100 days according to an estimate of the Human Rights Watch.
5. The Darfur Genocide
Darfur genocide culminated from the guerilla conflict between the Sudanese government on one side and two groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) on the other side. The genocide took place in the Darfur region of Sudan. The exact figure of the number of people killed is not known, but it is estimated that the death toll was several hundred thousand. Most of the people were killed in direct conflicts, but many were killed from starvation and diseases arising from the conflict. In 2010, a ceasefire agreement between the Sudanese government and the rebel groups was signed, but the agreement did not last long due to its alleged breach by the government.
6. The Cambodian Genocide
The Khmer Rouge was a Communist party of Kampuchea in Vietnam formed in 1968. In 1975, it revolted against the Cambodian government and overthrew it to establish an ideal Communist State. Its first action was to eliminate the intelligentsia, former government or military officials, and anyone considered an enemy of the state from their point of view. The revolt was led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Leng Sary, Son Sen, and many others. Almost 20 percent of the population, comprising 2 million people, was wiped out in this genocide. The UN and the Cambodian government agreed upon establishing Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) to focus on the crimes committed by the top leadership of the Khmer Rouge. Five names were given to the government for this purpose and they included: Nuon Chea, Khieu Samphan, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith, and Kang Kek Iew.
7. Somalian Genocide
The Somalian genocide was committed against its Bantu population and the residents of Jubba Valley in and after 1991. It was a civil war which destroyed the agriculture and food distribution in the country. The conflict arose from the competition between different clans to seize the resources. The last U.S. ambassador to Somalia described it as ‘competition for water, pasturage, and… cattle. It was a competition that used to be fought out with arrows and sabers… Now it is fought out with AK-47s.’ The consequent famine killed more than 300,000 people. More than half the population of the country was constrained to leave the homeland. The killing of the civilian population of Somalia has been referred to as a genocide by the former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali and the UN Special Envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah.
8. The Soviet Genocide
During different Communist regimes, more than 80 million people were mass murdered. Joseph Stalin’s regime was far ahead in this inhumane act of genocide. He was the premier of the Soviet Union from May 6, 1941 until his death in 1953. He industrialized the country abruptly at the cost of the total destruction of its agri-based infrastructure which culminated in the Soviet famine of 1932’“1933. He formed Troika, a Trial Bench, comprised of three members who gave judgments within 24 hours. Millions of common folk were sent to prison camps or gulags comparable with the Nazi concentration camps. More than 350,000 people were arrested of which 247,157 were executed.
9. Burmese Genocide
The Burmese genocide is the outcome of the conflict between Arakan Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. The conflict could have been prevented if the government or political will prevailed. Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch stated, ‘Burmese security forces failed to protect the Arakan and Rohingya from each other and then unleashed a campaign of violence and mass roundups against the Rohingya.’
10. Vietnamese Genocide
U.S. Marines have killed and imprisoned more than 1.4 million Vietnamese out of a population of only 14 million. After the publishing of a 14-point agenda by the Johnson administration and having launched intensive peace talk propaganda, the U.S. administration started a mopping up operation. Carpet bombing, gas bombs, and massive attacks by the U.S. First Infantry Division, First Cavalry Division, and Marines achieved all of what is achievable from genocide. At the core of the U.S. policy was ‘kill all, burn all, and destroy all.’ U.S. forces used white phosphorus bombs, Napalm bombs, poisonous gas, and B-52 bombers to ensure the effectiveness of the mopping up operation.
Genocide is a crime, but to be knowingly indifferent is none other than a crime in itself. The world famous war reporter and Chief International Correspondent for CNN, Christane Amanpour’s comment, is very enlightening and conclusive in this respect. She said, ‘Some people accused me of being pro-Muslim in Bosnia, but I realized that our job is to give all sides an equal hearing, but in cases of genocide, you can’t just be neutral. You can’t just say, ‘Well, this little boy was shot in the head and killed in besieged Sarajevo, and that guy over there did it, but maybe he was upset because he had an argument with his wife.’ No, there is no equality there, and we had to tell the truth.’