What is Genocide?

According the United Nations (UN) genocide is 

- 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




What is Ethnic Cleansing?

According to the UN ethnic cleansing is the "endering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group."



Serbs v. Bosnians and Croats

In the early 1990s, Yugoslavia found itself breaking a part from the inside. Yugoslavia was home to three different ethnic groups that desired to control their own states. The groups were the Bosnians, the Croats and lastly, the Serbs. Today the regions are called Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia respectively. However, during a time of great turmoil, the fight for independent states became a bloody one. Serbia, the main offender within this period, sought to “ethnically cleanse” its region of the non-Serbs. Some of the most egregious acts in history were committed during the Yugoslav wars.


One of the more horrific events of the Yugoslav wars was the Srebrenica Massacre. In July of 1995, was the slaying of over 8000 Bosnian men and young boys. Some were quickly executed while others were cut, burned and tortured. There are documented photos of mutilated bodies of men ranging from the ages of as young as twelve to the elderly.


Serbia referred to its goal as ethnic cleansing because its desire was to have a territory that was homogenous. Croatia had a similar objective, yet Serbia has been publicized as the aggressor during the conflict. Part of the blame is due the measures taken by the Serbs to homogenize its territory. Serbian officials passed laws that discriminated against non- Serbs. For example, non-Serbs needed to have approval to sell property. With a glance, this does not seem cruel, however, anyone who was not a Serb was being forced out of his home. Without approval, these people were loosing their homes and the value, leaving these abandoned homes free for Serbians to move into.


Fraternization with those were not Serbian was forbidden and people who were not Serbian were denied jobs and attacked. The place, which they once called home, was now enemy territory. The lives that people had become accustomed to, which included family members and friends, who were not Serbian, changed because people were being forced out.


Outside intervention into the atrocities of the Yugoslav Wars was slow to come because of the ambiguous definition of what ethnic cleansing was. It became a technique of war.



Hutu v. Tutsi

The ethnic cleansing that occurred in Rwanda in 1994 has had little dispute over what it was. When referred to, the Rwandan ethnic cleansing is called genocide, despite it falling under the definition of ethnic cleansing. During the Rwandan genocide a total of 800,000 people died in the short period of four months. It was a conflict between two ethnic groups, the Hutus and the Tutsis. The Hutu people made huge efforts to cleanse the land of Tutsi people. Thousands were slaughtered and propaganda was released against the Tutsi people. Over radio and through the dissemination of anti Tutsi people, it was stated that the Tutsi people were inferior to the Hutu people and that no one should support them or house them. Anyone caught supporting a Tutsi person would be considered a traitor. 

The Hutu Ten Commandments:

  1. Every Hutu must know that the Tutsi woman, wherever she may be, is working for the Tutsi ethnic cause. In consequence, any Hutu is a traitor who:
    - Acquires a Tutsi wife;
    - Acquires a Tutsi concubine;
    - Acquires a Tutsi secretary or protégée. 
  2. Every Hutu must know that our Hutu daughters are more worthy and more conscientious as women, as wives and as mothers. Aren’t they lovely, excellent secretaries, and more honest! 
  3. Hutu women, be vigilant and make sure that your husbands, brothers and sons see reason. 
  4. All Hutus must know that all Tutsis are dishonest in business. Their only goal is ethnic superiority. We have learned this by experience from experience. In consequence, any Hutu is a traitor who:

  1. - Forms a business alliance with a Tutsi
    - Invests his own funds or public funds in a Tutsi enterprise
    - Borrows money from or loans money to a Tusti
    - Grants favors to Tutsis (import licenses, bank loans, land for construction, public markets...) 
  3. 5. Strategic positions such as politics, administration, economics, the military and security must be restricted to the Hutu. 
  5. 6. A Hutu majority must prevail throughout the educational system (pupils, scholars, teachers). 

  6. 7. The Rwandan Army must be exclusively Hutu. The war of October 1990 has taught us that. No soldier may marry a Tutsi woman. 

  7. 8. Hutu must stop taking pity on the Tutsi. 

  8. 9. Hutu wherever they be must stand united, in solidarity, and concerned with the fate of their Hutu brothers. Hutu within and without Rwanda must constantly search for friends and allies to the Hutu Cause, beginning with their Bantu brothers.
    Hutu must constantly counter Tutsi propaganda.
    Hutu must stand firm and vigilant against their common enemy: the Tutsi. 

  9. 10. The Social Revolution of 1959, the Referendum of 1961 and the Hutu Ideology must be taught to Hutu of every age. Every Hutu must spread the word wherever he goes. Any Hutu who persecutes his brother Hutu for spreading and teaching this ideology is a traitor.

as published in Kangura, No. 6
(December 1990)




Smaller Instances of Genocide in History:

1923 Great Kanto Earthquake-

    Following the destruction of Tokyo after a major earthquake on Septermber 1, 1923, the public became wild with fear and lack of knowledge of the cause. This lead people to quickly search for a scapegoat, which became Koreans an other ethnic mintorities residing in Japan. It was said that Koreans were poisoning wells, setting fires, committing robbery and causing many of the deaths that occurred after the earthquake. These were completely false allegations, but by the time this was realized over 3,000 ethnic minorities had been injured or killed. Japan put martial law in effect to calm the people. In this case of genocide government intervention was swifter.



(The Great Kanto Earthquake and the Massacre of Koreans in 1923: Notes on Japan's Modern National Sovereignty

Anthropological Quarterly - Volume 76, Number 4, Fall 2003, pp. 731-748)


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