Ethnic cleansing

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Ethnic cleansing is a type of crime against humanity. In an ethnic cleansing, ethnic or religious groups are forced to leave an area by a more powerful ethnic group. The goal of an ethnic cleansing is to get rid of everyone who does not belong to the more powerful ethnic group. Then the more powerful group can have the area they "cleansed" for themselves, and only members of their group will live there.

In an ethnic cleansing, perpetrators may use different ways of getting rid of people. They may force people to move; deport people; threaten them until they leave; and use rape and mass murder.

Usually, the perpetrators will also try to destroy any signs that the victims lived in the area they are "cleansing." They may destroy homes, farms, infrastructure, monuments, cemeteries, and places of worship.

Definitions[change | change source]

The United Nations defines ethnic cleansing this way:[1][2]

  • It is done on purpose, as part of a plan
  • It is done by one ethnic or religious group
  • That group uses violence and terror to force other ethnic or religious groups to leave certain areas
  • The goal is to make sure that only the perpetrators' ethnic or religious group lives in those areas

A report by United Nations experts said that ethnic cleansing has been done in many different ways, including:[2]

Experts say that ethnic cleansing is different than genocide. In a genocide, a group tries to kill every member of a certain group, so that group no longer exists on the earth. In an ethnic cleansing, the perpetrators are trying to get rid of other groups in specific areas.[2][3]

International law[change | change source]

There is no official legal definition of ethnic cleansing.[4] However, both the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY)[a] define deporting a population from its home as a crime against humanity.[6][7] Other crimes that happen during ethnic cleansing are treated as separate crimes that may fit under the definitions of genocide or crimes against humanity.[8] For example, murdering, raping, and persecuting large groups of people are all crimes against humanity under the International Criminal Court's laws.[9]

Examples of ethnic cleansing[change | change source]

Jews in ancient and medieval history[change | change source]

During ancient and medieval history, Jewish people were victims of ethnic cleansing in many countries. For example, around 1290 AD, King Edward I of England ordered all of the Jews in the country to leave. Hundreds of elderly Jews were executed.[10] Next, France and some German states did the same. Finally, in 1492, Spain ordered its Jews to convert to Catholicism or leave the country.[11] Any Jew who stayed in the country would be executed without a trial.[11] Between 40,000 and 100,000 Jews were forced to leave Spain.[12]

Ten years later, in 1502, Spain also forced its Muslims to leave the country.[13]

Early modern history: Ireland[change | change source]

In 1652, Oliver Cromwell and the English military took over Ireland. Historians Brendan O'Leary and John McGarry write: "Oliver Cromwell offered Irish Catholics a choice between genocide and forced mass population transfer."[14] Cromwell wanted all of the Irish Catholics to leave eastern Ireland and move to the northwest.[15][16]

With Cromwell in charge, the English military forced many Irish Catholics to leave eastern Ireland, and killed many of the people who refused to leave. They did this by:

Historian John Morrill says that England's actions were "the greatest episode of ethnic cleansing ever attempted in Western Europe."[18] About 600,000 Irish people died – 43% of the Irish population.[19] Because of this, historians do not agree on whether this was an ethnic cleansing[15][16][20] or a genocide.[21][22][23]

The 19th century: Indian removal[change | change source]

See also: Trail of Tears and Indian Removal Act

In the 19th century, the United States government committed an ethnic cleansing against Native American tribes.[24][25][26][27] At this time, the United States was growing. Many people in the country wanted to take over what is now the Southern United States. However, this land had always belonged to Native American tribes, like the Cherokee Nation.[28]

In the early 1800s, the United States government started a program of removing these tribes from the South. The government wanted these tribes to move west, outside the United States.[28] Under Andrew Jackson, the United States military took land away from Creek and Seminole Indians.

Some tribes signed treaties and agreed to move. However, other tribes refused to leave the land that had always been theirs.[28] In 1829, Andrew Jackson became President. The next year, he signed the Indian Removal Act.[29] Jackson used this law to force tribes that were still in the South to leave the United States.[30]

The Cherokee Nation refused to leave their homes. In 1838, President Martin van Buren ordered the military to force them to leave.[31]p.41 Soldiers forced about 15,000 Cherokees and 2,000 of their slaves to leave their land.[32] At first, the Cherokees were all forced into internment camps, where 353 Cherokee died from diseases during one summer.[33][31]pp.41-42 After that, the Cherokee were forced to walk from the South to what is now Oklahoma and Arkansas. Most historians say that about 4,000 people died on the way.[34][35] This was one out of every four people in the Cherokee population.[36] Because so many people died, this forced migration is now called the Trail of Tears.

The 20th century: Poles during The Holocaust[change | change source]

See also: Invasion of Poland (1939) and Holocaust victims

In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. This started World War II. After taking over part of Poland, Nazi Germany committed an ethnic cleansing against the Polish people. They did this in many ways:[37]

  • The Nazis deported at least 1.5 million Polish people out of Poland. They did this for two reasons:
    • So Germans could move into Poland and have it for themselves; and
    • So Polish people could be used as forced labor in areas that Germany controlled
  • The Nazis sent hundreds of thousands of Polish people to concentration camps
  • They killed at least 1.9 million non-Jewish Polish civilians
  • They killed at least 3 million Polish Jews



The 21st century: Darfur[change | change source]

See also: Darfur conflict

Starting in 2003, the government of Sudan has been accused of committing an ethnic cleansing against black ethnic groups in Darfur.[38][39] The Sudanese military, police, and a militia called the Janjaweed have done this by:[40][41][42]

  • Attacking and massacring civilians
  • Bombing and burning down villages
  • Forcing people to leave Darfur, then giving their villages to Arab people
  • Raping and sexually assaulting thousands of women and girls

As of 2007, about 450,000 black Darfurians had been killed, and about 800 villages had been destroyed.[41] As of April 2008, about 2.5 million people – one-third of Darfur's population – were living in refugee camps.[42] These people had been forced to leave their homes, either by soldiers, or because their villages had been destroyed.[41]

Notes[change | change source]

  1. The ICTY is an international court that was created to try people accused of committing crimes against humanity, war crimes, or genocide during the Yugoslav Wars.[5]

References[change | change source]

  1. Hayden, Robert M. (1996). Schindler's Fate: Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Population Transfers. Slavic Review 55 (4): 727-48.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Commission of Experts. (May 27, 1994.) Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 780 (1992) . United Nations, 33. Report. Retrieved on April 9, 2016.
  3. Case of Jorgic v. Germany: Judgment §45 (European Court of Human Rights, December 10, 2007). Citing Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro § 190 (International Court of Justice). European Court of Human Rights. Council of Europe. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  4. Ferdinandusse, Ward (2004). The Interaction of National and International Approaches in the Repression of International Crimes. The European Journal of International Law 15 (4): 1041-1053. doi:10.1093/ejil/chh509. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008.
  5. "About the ICTY". International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. United Nations. http://www.icty.org/en/about. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  6. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Article 7: Crimes against humanity. pp. 3-4. January 16, 2002. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  7. Updated Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Article 5. p. 6. International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. United Nations. September 2009. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  8. Shraga, Daphna; & Zacklin, Ralph (2004). The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The European Journal of International Law 15 (3): 360-380. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  9. Elements of Crimes. The Hague, Netherlands: PrintPartners Ipskamp. 2011. ISBN 92-9227-232-2. https://www.icc-cpi.int/nr/rdonlyres/336923d8-a6ad-40ec-ad7b-45bf9de73d56/0/elementsofcrimeseng.pdf.
  10. Richards, Eric (2004). Britannia's Children: Emigration from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland Since 1600. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 24. ISBN 1-85285-441-3.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "The Edict of Expulsion of the Jews (1492): Translated from the Castilian by Edward Peters". Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture. http://www.sephardicstudies.org/decree.html. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  12. Pérez, Joseph (2007). History of a Tragedy: The Expulsion of the Jews from Spain. University of Illinois Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-0252031410.
  13. Bell-Fialkoff, Andrew (June 1, 1993). "A Brief History of Ethnic Cleansing". Foreign Affairs (The Council on Foreign Relations): p. 4. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:FVFD2yNP5PkJ:https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/1993-06-01/brief-history-ethnic-cleansing+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  14. O'Leary, Brendan; & McGarry, John (1995). "Regulating Nations and Ethnic Communities". In Albert Breton, Gianluigi Galeotti, Pierre Salmon, & Ronald Wintrobe (eds.). Nationalism and Rationality. Cambridge University Press. p. 248. ISBN 978-0521480987.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Norbrook, David (2000).Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics, 1627–1660. Cambridge University Press. p. 245. ISBN 978-0521785693.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Lutz, James M.; & Lutz, Brenda J. (2004). Global Terrorism. Routledge. p. 193. ISBN 978-0415700511.
  17. Parliament of England (August 12, 1652). Act for the Settlement of Ireland. Constitution Society. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Morrill, John (December 2003). Rewriting Cromwell – A Case of Deafening Silences. Canadian Journal of History 38 (3): 553.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Stewart, Frances (2000). War and Underdevelopment: Economic and Social Consequences of Conflict, Volume I. Oxford University Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0199241873.
  20. Levene, Mark (2005). Genocide in the Age of the Nation-State. I.B.Tauris. pp. 55-57. ISBN 978-1-84511-057-4.
  21. Coogan, Tim Pat (2002). The Troubles: Ireland's Ordeal and the Search for Peace. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-312-29418-2.
  22. Axelrod, Alan (2002). Profiles in Leadership. Prentice Hall Press. p. 122. ISBN 978-0735202566.
  23. Ellis, Peter Berresford (2002). Eyewitness to Irish History. John Wiley & Sons Inc. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-471-26633-4.
  24. Greenwood, Robert E. (2007). Outsourcing Culture: How American Culture has Changed From "We the People" Into a One World Government. Outskirts Press. pp. 97. ISBN 978-1598008319.
  25. Rajiv Molhotra (2009). "American Exceptionalism and the Myth of the American Frontiers". In Rajani Kannepalli Kanth (ed.). The Challenge of Eurocentrism: Global Perspectives, Policy, and Prospects. Palgrave MacMillan. pp. 180, 184, 189, 199. ISBN 978-0230612273.
  26. Finkelman, Paul; & Kennon, Donald R. (2008). Congress and the Emergence of Sectionalism. Ohio University Press. pp. 15, 141, 254. ISBN 978-0821417836.
  27. Kieran, Ben (2007). Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur. Yale University Press. pp. 328, 330. ISBN 978-0300144253.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 "Indian Removal: 1814 – 1858". PBS. WGBH Educational Foundation. 1999. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2959.html. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  29. "Indian Removal Act: Primary Documents of American History". Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/Indian.html. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  30. Prucha, Francis Paul (1984). The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, Volume I. University of Nebraska Press. p. 206. ASIN B002DIAUDE.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Logan, Charles Russell The Promised Land: The Cherokees, Arkansas, and Removal, 1794-1839 . Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, Department of Arkansas Heritage. Report.
  32. Carter III, Samuel (1976). Cherokee Sunset: A Nation Betrayed. A Narrative of Travail and Triumph, Persecution and Exile. New York: Doubleday. p. 232. ISBN 978-0385067355.
  33. Jones, Billy (1984). Cherokees: An Illustrated History. Muskogee, Oklahoma: The Five Civilized Tribes Museum. pp. 74–81. ISBN 0-86546-059-0.
  34. Rozema, Vicki (1995). Footsteps of the Cherokee. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair. p. 52. ISBN 0-89587-133-5.
  35. "Indian Treaties and the Removal Act of 1830". Office of the Historian. United States Department of State. https://history.state.gov/milestones/1830-1860/indian-treaties. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  36. "Trail of Tears National Historic Trail: Stories". National Park Service. United States Department of the Interior. 2016. http://www.nps.gov/trte/learn/historyculture/stories.htm. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  37. "Polish Victims". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. January 29, 2016. https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005473. Retrieved April 9, 2016.
  38. Power, Samantha (August 23, 2004). "Dying in Darfur: Can the ethnic cleansing in Sudan be stopped?" The New Yorker. Archived from the original on December 4, 2004. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  39. Andersson, Hilary (May 27, 2004). "Ethnic cleansing blights Sudan." BBC News Online. BBC. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  40. Collins, Robert O. (2005). Civil Wars and Revolution in the Sudan: Essays on the Sudan, Southern Sudan, and Darfur, 1962–2004. Tsehai Publishers. p. 156. ISBN 0-9748198-7-5.
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Bloomfield, Steve (July 14, 2007). "Arabs pile into Darfur to take land 'cleansed' by janjaweed". The Independent. Independent News and Media Limited. Archived from the original on July 16, 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20070716155314/http://news.independent.co.uk/world/africa/article2768232.ece. Retrieved April 10, 2016.
  42. 42.0 42.1 "Q&A: Crisis in Darfur". Human Rights Watch. April 25, 2008. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2004/05/05/darfur8536.htm. Retrieved April 9, 2016.