When Slobodan Milosevic died in prison, I investigated the history of genocide and became dismayed as the number of references to various human atrocities mounted like bodies in a mass grave.
We all know that genocide has been around forever. Seems like we just can’t stop our obsession with killing to get people out of our way. The reasons vary from religious (the Crusades, Bosnia) to retention of power (Charles Taylor, Stalin) to conquest (North America, Japan) to cultural supremacy (Hitler, Pol Pot). One can argue what defines a genocide, but in its broadest definition, “systematic mass killing” will do. Out of memory I could only come up with a half-dozen or so instances of genocide, the first being the Nazi Holocaust. It did not take long for my list to triple, and that merely touched the surface. We’ve been annihilating whole cultures for a long time; I had simply forgotten my history.
This is a morbidly fascinating topic, one that most people would rather not know about. It appears that it’s become more, not less, popular in the past century.
A short list follows. There are many, many more.
- 15th – 17th Centuries: The Crusades (singling out those who were believed to worship Satan by Christian “believers”
- 16th – 20th Centuries: North & South American native people by settlers and conquerors
- 18th – 20th Centuries: Australian aboriginals by British settlers
- 1885-1910: The Congolese massacre of King Leopold II
- 1904-1907: The Hereros people of Namibia, by the Germans
- 1915-1922: Turkish Armenians by the Muslim government
- 1928-1953: Soviet citizens by Stalin
- 1937: Chinese citizens by the Japanese
- 1940-1945: Jews, Poles, Gypsies and others by Hitler’s Nazi regime
- 1941-1945: Croatian Serbs by the government
- 1949-1987: Chinese citizens by the Chinese government (Mao’s Cultural Revolution)
- 1975-1979: Cambodians by Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge
- 1975-1999: Roman Catholics by Muslims in East Timor
- 1980-1990: Mostly Iraqi Kurds by the Iraqi Government (Saddam Hussein)
- 1989-1996: West Africans by Charles Taylor-led Liberian Government
- 1994: Mostly Tutsis in Rwanda by the Hutus
- 1995-1999: Mostly Bosnian Muslims by Slobodan Milosevic-led Bosnian Serbs
- 1985-present: Sudanese by the Janjaweed and Sudan government
Technology makes it all too easy for the few to annihilate the many. The frequency of genocide, particularly in the last 70 or so years, appears to be growing in popularity.