The Belgian king Leopold II reigned over the so-called Congo Free State as a private colony between 1885 and 1909. His reign was extremely violent and tyrannical, and an estimated 10 million Congolese people died during that period. King Leopold’s atrocious reign is synonymous with exploitation and mass murder.
Photo: Alice Harris [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1883 the merchant Adolf Lüderitz bought land in Angra Pequena, which was placed under German protection in 1884. The colony Deutsch-Südwestafrika, today Namibia, was established.
Photo: „Deutsch-Sudwestafrika“. Lizenziert unter CC BY-SA 3.0 über Wikimedia Commons
‘Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.’ – Article 2 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The indigenous peoples of Canada (First Nations, Inuït and Métis) became victims of cultural genocide during the times of European colonialism.
Sinti and Roma, formerly called ‘gypsies’, have their historical-geographical origin on the Indian continent and came to Europe between the 8th and 12th century, where they were first welcomed in a friendly way. People integrated quickly and many converted to Christianity. From the 16th century on, however, people began to discriminate, persecute, expropriate and expel them. To this day the Sinti and Roma minority is met with distrust and prejudices.
The Nazis took advantage of the basic hatred against this group and persecuted the Sinti and Roma for racist reasons. In their world, this minority belonged to the category of Untermenschen (subhuman being).
About nine million Uighurs live in the autonomous region of Xinjiang in north-western China. The Uighurs belong to the Turkic peoples and form a Muslim minority in China. They have been fighting for their cultural and social identity for centuries. In Xinjiang, also called East Turkistan by the Uighurs, tensions, (Islamist) attacks, (peaceful) insurrections and separatist movements repeatedly occur.
Indonesia, a Dutch colony until 1948, was hit by a wave of violence between October 1965 and March 1966. The mass murder of the communists was never processed and the perpetrators were never punished. Today, they are still celebrated as heroes.
Photo: www.pixabay.com/Creative Commons
Before we go a little bit deeper into this difficult topic, I would like to say briefly that this post can only address the subject superficially here. I am a) not a trained psychologist, b) even the brightest scientists have not yet found a clear answer to this question, and c) it would simply go beyond the scope of a blogpost.
Furthermore, I would like to mention that murder can never be accepted and that there is no excuse for mass murder, no matter what explanations are listed. Mankind always has the opportunity to choose, to think rationally and to reflect on its actions, because that is what distinguishes us from animals.
Foto: Thomas Matthias
Much criticism has been levelled at the definition of genocide since the Convention was ratified, particularly with regard to the restrictive definition of victim groups. For example, by definition, the murder of social, cultural and political groups is not a crime of genocide. Many social and political scientists have therefore created different terms to describe the mass murder of different groups.
Genocide is a highly controversial word. Why? It is more than just a concept or a tool for historical, political or moral analysis. Rather, it has legal consequences and is therefore treated like Pandora’s Box. In order to get rid of these legal consequences, the term “ethnic cleansing” is often used, which in turn is an inhuman euphemism as it is a term to speak of systematic mass murder without having to use the word genocide. “Ethnic cleansing” is present in some UN documents, but has neither a clear and formal definition nor a legal status.
Concentration Camp in Sachsenhausen, Germany