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What is Genocide?

Definitions and 20th Century Examples

Mark Melnyk

on 2 September 2010

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Transcript of What is Genocide?

What is Genocide? “Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:

1. Killing members of the group.
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm.
3. Deliberately inflicting conditions of life for physical destruction in whole or in part.
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
Genocides From 1880-1950

The Congo 1880-1920
Ottoman Empire
(1932–1933) Holodomor
The Holocaust
Mao Zedong
Congo Estimates of deaths range from 5-21 million
- Colonialism was tearing through Africa in the late 1800s.
- King Leopold II of Belgium controlled Congo
- Rubber was a huge resource, people were enslaved, killed and tortured
Question: Does colonialism fall into the definition of genocide?
Armenian Genocide (1915-1917)
1.5 Million Armenians murdered
The Ottoman Empire (Turkish) existed from 1299 to 1923. They were responsible for the following:
- Deportation of 2,000,000 from their homeland- 1,500,000 of the men, women and children were then murdered.
- 500,000 were expelled from the Armenian homeland which existed for 2,500 years.
- The Turkish gov. disputes these charges - many countries agree (France and Russia)
Question: What responsibility do individuals and nations for seeing that events are labeled genocide?
Holodomor (Death by Hunger 1932-1933)
7-10 million Ukrainians Murdered

Famine was the weapon leading to genocide by Joseph Stalin
- Dekulakization to squash Ukrainian nationalism and impose Soviet collective economic policy
- In 1932 the Soviets increased grain production 44%, which resulted in Grain Shortages
- the peasants could not feed themselves. Stalin knew this, but would not let them eat (by law) until the quota was met. Grain was being exported during the famine.
- Borders were sealed and people could not travel to get food.

Some argue that this was not a genocide, rather bad economic policy combined with a natural famine. Putin and many Russian historians deny this was a genocide.
Question: Should political enemies be included in the definition of genocide? Should any other groups be included in the definition? Who?
The Holocaust and Nazi Genocide
11 million deaths

During the Holocaust the Nazis’ killed 6 million Jews, 3 million POW’s, 2 million
Poles and 400,000 other “undesirables”(Slavs, homosexuals and communists)
- People were killed by: open-air shootings, Nazi killing squads, extermination camps (gas chambers, mass shootings)
- Systematic killing organized by highly educated leaders
Question: What responsibility to the perpetrators have in the killing of innocent people during times of war? Is "following orders" a legitimate excuse?
Mao's China (1945-1976)
50-70 million deaths

Various phases of killing
- Followed millions of deaths in early part of century by Japanese and Chiang Kai-Shek
- post WWII killing of peasants and resistors: 8 million
Great Leap Forward: 18 million
- famine due to poor economic policies (that Mao did not alter despite knowing
that millions were starving to death).
Cultural Revolution: 8 million
Liberalization: 1 million
Question: Why do people not eliminate corrupt leaders?

Genocides 1950-Present
Stages of Genocide
Full transcript