Genocides Today

Genocides are a deliberate destruction of national, ethnic or religious groups. They are still happening today.

Genocide

Photo of Raphael Lemkin
Raphael Lemkin

Born in 1900, Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin had long been preoccupied with developing a legal framework for the protection of minority groups. This became more pressing when Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Lemkin escaped to Sweden and eventually to the United States. However, 49 members of his family, who stayed in Poland, perished in the Holocaust.

It was in Sweden that Lemkin wrote his magnum opus Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (1944), in which he outlined his concept of genocide - combining the Greek word for race, nation, or tribe (genos) with the suffix -cide, from the Latin word for killing (caedere). Following its publication, Lemkin lobbied the newly established United Nations for passage of a convention against genocide; proposing that genocide be a violation of international law and subject to prosecution.

The United Nations codified genocide as an independent crime in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In Article II:

Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group 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

Lemkin would later call the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933 a “classic example of Soviet genocide,” adding that it is “not simply a case of mass murder,” but “a case of genocide, of destruction, not of individuals only, but of a culture and a nation.” For Lemkin, genocide entitled not only killing, but a “coordinated plan of different actions” that prevented and endangered the life of groups.

Despite the enormity of these heinous acts of the past, genocides continue to occur around the world today.

Myanmar

“Myanmar security forces continued to commit grave abuses against Rohingya Muslims throughout 2018, deepening the humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in Rakhine State. More than 730,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh since the military campaign of ethnic cleansing began in August 2017. The government denied extensive evidence of atrocities, refused to allow independent investigators access to Rakhine State, and punished local journalists for reporting on military abuses.”

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Map of Myanmar

Sudan & South Sudan

“Sudan’s rights record showed little change in 2018. Conflicts in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile continued. The National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) used excessive force to break up protests and arbitrarily detained dozens of activists and opposition party members. The authorities censored the media, confiscated newspapers, detained outspoken critics, and barred key opposition figures from traveling outside the country.”

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Map of Sudan & South Sudan

Iraq

“Armed conflict between the armed extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and an array of Kurdish and central Iraqi government forces, pro-government militias, and a United States-led international air campaign dominated the human rights situation in 2015.”

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Map of Iraq

Central African Republic

“Armed groups continued to commit serious human rights abuses, expanding their control to an estimated 70 percent of the country, while the central government, led by President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, controlled the capital, Bangui, and surrounding areas to the west.”

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Map of Central African Republic

The material above is taken from HumanRightsWatch.org.

To see further states and countries that are at risk of genocide, visit: http://www.genocidewatch.com/countries-at-risk.

To view an interactive map correlating the 10 Warning Signs of Genocide, visit: http://www.genocidewatch.com/ten-stages-of-genocide-world-map.