When you think of genocide in general chances are you think of something like the Native Americans being slaughtered or perhaps the Holocaust itself but there are many other instances than just those. Genocide is something that has been a part of this world for much longer than most are aware of.
For anyone who might for some reason be unaware, genocide is the deliberate killing of a large group of people. This includes those of specific ethnic groups and/nations. Genocide can happen because of religious beliefs and so many other reasons. It’s something the history of our world is littered with in regards to humanity and yet it’s not something we tend to speak about. The more aware we are of genocide and the history behind it, the more aware we are of crimes against humanity as a whole.
Below I am going to go over some of the cases of genocide that have occurred across the globe in the past. While a lot of these will be very hard to come to terms with they all happened and are all worth remembering. United To End Genocide actually took the time to put all major genocides in order and list them on a timeline that you can view by clicking here.
We cannot truly work to prevent genocide if we are not educated on the things that have happened in the past. These kinds of things should have never occurred in the first place, we all have human rights and those rights should never be compromised. While it might not be as prominent of a thing in current times, it is still something we all need to keep in mind.
This is one of the genocides that is in some places completely dismissed. It began in the year 1915 and went on for quite some time. Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were captured, cast out, and killed. It was estimated that well over one million ethnic Armenians were put to death during this time and was a ruthless situation all around.
The Armenian people have made their home in the Caucasus region of Eurasia for some 3,000 years. For some of that time, the kingdom of Armenia was an independent entity: At the beginning of the 4th century A.D., for instance, it became the first nation in the world to make Christianity its official religion.
But for the most part, control of the region shifted from one empire to another. During the 15th century, Armenia was absorbed into the mighty Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman rulers, like most of their subjects, were Muslim. They permitted religious minorities like the Armenians to maintain some autonomy, but they also subjected Armenians, who they viewed as “infidels,” to unequal and unjust treatment.
Christians had to pay higher taxes than Muslims, for example, and they had very few political and legal rights.
In spite of these obstacles, the Armenian community thrived under Ottoman rule. They tended to be better educated and wealthier than their Turkish neighbors, who in turn grew to resent their success.
This resentment was compounded by suspicions that the Christian Armenians would be more loyal to Christian governments (that of the Russians, for example, who shared an unstable border with Turkey) than they were to the Ottoman caliphate.
These suspicions grew more acute as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. At the end of the 19th century, the despotic Turkish Sultan Abdul Hamid II – obsessed with loyalty above all, and infuriated by the nascent Armenian campaign to win basic civil rights – declared that he would solve the “Armenian question” once and for all.
“I will soon settle those Armenians,” he told a reporter in 1890. “I will give them a box on the ear which will make them…relinquish their revolutionary ambitions.”
From here there was the Holocaust. This is the main genocide that we still hear about in modern times. We learn about it in school and are taught all about ‘Anne Frank’ as well as her struggles. You see, Germany’s Nazi Party back in the 1940s decided that killing off all of the Jews present in Germany was a good idea. This in an attempt to ‘purify’ the country itself.
Millions of Jews, as well as Slavs and other religious dissidents, were placed in concentration camps either killed, forced to waste away, or struggled to survive until help arrived. For several years these people did all they could to either hide from the Nazis entirely or remain alive in these hellish camps. These death camps were full to the brim with diseases and everyone in them was starving. At one of the more well-known camps (Auschwitz) over two million people were murdered and this was merely one of at least 20 main concentration camps.
Back in the 1970s Khmer Rogue a regime in control of the country under the rulings of Pol Pot Cambodia became a slaughterhouse. In an effort to build a ‘master race’ over two million people were killed. Some were executed as enemies of the regime and others died because they were overworked, starved, or diseased.
Workers on the farm collectives established by Pol Pot soon began suffering from the effects of overwork and lack of food. Hundreds of thousands died from disease, starvation or damage to their bodies sustained during back-breaking work or abuse from the ruthless Khmer Rouge guards overseeing the camps.
Pol Pot’s regime also executed thousands of people it had deemed as enemies of the state. Those seen as intellectuals, or potential leaders of a revolutionary movement, were also executed. Legend has it, some were executed for merely appearing to be intellectuals, by wearing glasses or being able to speak a foreign language.
As part of this effort, hundreds of thousands of the educated, middle-class Cambodians were tortured and executed in special centers established in the cities, the most infamous of which was Tuol Sleng jail in Phnom Penh, where nearly 17,000 men, women, and children were imprisoned during the regime’s four years in power.
During what became known as the Cambodian Genocide, an estimated 1.7 to 2.2 million Cambodians died during Pol Pot’s time in charge of the country.
There have also been genocides in places like Rwanda, Bosnia, and even Darfur. The first of those two happening in the 1990s and the last as close to our current times as literally 2003! This is not something we can pretend does not happen. Genocide is a very real issue in this world and always will be. If we do not pay close attention these things will continue to happen and innocent people will be slaughtered for many different ‘reasons.’
To learn more about some of the other genocides we’ve seen throughout the years please check out the video below. This kind of thing is not something we should ever let slip our minds. The history of humanity is not one that we can hide from.
It should also be noted that indigenous people are also going through/have gone through genocide. From the 1500s and well into current times native populations across the globe are seeing issues that we are seemingly ignoring. To really delve into the atrocities that have happened against Native Americans alone, please click here.