Mass crimes against humanity and genocides
A list of atrocities: 1450 CE to 1903
"There are times, young fellah, when every one of us must make a
stand for human right and justice, or you never feel clean again." Lord
John Roxton in The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle .
"Traditionalists must do more. I've got to do more. We've
all got to speak up in this respect, or else we'll be taught that
these people were giving their lives, subscribing their sacred
fortunes and their honor to some perverted agenda." John Ashcroft, in a defense of "southern patriots" like
Jefferson Davis and Robert E Lee who fought with extreme dedication to preserve the institution of human slavery.
The descriptions below, of mass crimes against humanity, are sorted by the
starting date of the atrocity.
The numbers of victims are not particularly
accurate; often records are very incomplete.
||Number of victims
|1450 to 1792
||Europe, New England, S. America
"Satan worshipers" & other heretics
||Perhaps 50,000 to 100,000
For about 300 years, during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, the
Roman Catholic and Protestant faith groups were directly or indirectly responsible for the arrest, torture
and execution of persons believed to worship Satan or express heretical
religious ideas. Most
of the death sentences were passed by civil courts, not by the churches.
However, the Christian churches were indirectly involved:
||They provided the theological foundation for the persecution of heretics in
||They created a false and
unsupportable belief that large numbers of worshipers had sold their soul to
Satan and were committing evil and homicidal acts.
Belief in Witches gradually dissipated during the Age of Enlightenment,
as people began to question the reality of many long-held religious beliefs.
Estimates on the number of victims range from 3,000 (from a Roman Catholic
source) to 9,000,000 (from various Neopagan
sources). More information.
||Number of victims
|1492 to now
||Western European Christians
||Millions or tens of millions
"For his second voyage to the Americas, Columbus took the title Admiral of the Ocean
Sea and proceeded to unleash a reign of terror unlike anything seen before or since. When he was finished, eight
million Arawaks -- virtually the entire native population of Hispaniola -- had been exterminated by torture, murder,
forced labor, starvation, disease and despair." 2 Later European Christian invaders systematically murdered
additional tens of millions of
Aboriginal people, from the Canadian Arctic to South America. The exact
number is unknown. Natives were murdered by warfare, forced death marches,
forced relocation to barren lands, intentional and accidental spread of
disease, poisoning, the promotion of suicide through the destruction of their cultural and religious
heritage, etc. Even today, Canadian Natives have the highest suicide of any
population group in the world.
The genocide against American Aboriginals is one of the most massive,
and longest lasting genocidal program in human
history. More details
||Number of victims
|1607 to 1865 (U.S.)
||The Americas & Caribbean
||Mainly African Aboriginal people
||645 thousand brought to the U.S.
African slaves were transported to what is now the Caribbean,
North, Central & South America, starting very early in the 16th century. The
transportation of slaves, and slavery itself were brutal institutions. It was
not unknown to have a 50% mortality rate during the passage from Africa. Slaves
who were too ill to survive the trip were sometimes executed by being thrown
overboard to drown. Slaves were largely treated as property, to be freely bought
and sold. Slave children were sent into the fields at about 12 years of
age where they worked from sun up to sun down. Slavery was phased out in Canada
as a result of government action early in the 19th century. It ceased in the
U.S. after a civil war in the 1860s. The negative after-effects of slavery
continue to the present day. See our section on slavery
for more information.
||Number of victims
|1770 to now
The European invasion of Australia started in 1788. The population of
Aboriginals in the country was approximately 750,000 at the time. By 1911, the number
had been reduced to 31,000. Most were decimated by diseases introduced by
the invaders, against which the Aboriginals had no defense. Some 20,000 were
murdered. In those days:
"The Sydney Herald claimed that blacks had
'bestowed no labour upon the land-their ownership, their right, was nothing
more than that of the Emu or the Kangaroo.' Courts rejected Aboriginal
evidence, because non-Christians could not swear oaths, and white killers
used 'the defense that Aboriginal morality did not exist'.
extermination of Aboriginals in Tasmania was particularly brutal; many white
settlers would shoot them on sight. In 1830, the remaining 300 Aboriginals
were ethnically cleansed from Tasmania. They were kinapped and transferred
to Flinders Island. They signed a treaty which guaranteed their later
return. It was never honored. By 1843, only 50 remained alive.
The atrocities continued into the 20th century. Between 1910 and 1970, "between
one in three and one in ten indigenous children were forcibly removed from
their families." They were placed with white families in order to absorb
"these people into the general population." Aboriginals were finally
granted citizenship in 1967.
On a positive note, they received an apology from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in
Parliament on 2008-FEB-13. He said:
"The time has come, well and truly come ... for all Australians, those who
are indigenous and those who are not to come together, truly reconcile and
together build a truly great nation."
Referring to the report "Bringing Them Home" commissioned by the previous
government under Paul Keating, he said:
"There is something terribly primal about these first-hand accounts. The
pain is searing, it screams from the pages -- the hurt, the humiliation, the
degradation and the sheer brutality of the act of physically separating a
mother from her children is a deep assault on our senses and on our most
elemental sense of humanity. ... These stories cry out to be heard, they cry
out for an apology. Instead from the nation's Parliament there has been a
stony and stubborn and deafening silence for more than a decade. A view that
somehow we the Parliament should suspend our most basic instincts of what is
right and what is wrong. A view that instead we should look for any pretext to
push this great wrong to one side. To leave it languishing with the
historians, the academics and the cultural warriors as if the stolen
generations are little more than an interesting sociological phenomenon. But
the stolen generations are not intellectual curiosities, they are human
beings, human beings who have been damaged deeply by the decisions of
parliaments and governments." 3
||Number of victims
|1885 to early 1900s
Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Belgium
Congo and Congo Free State
||King Leopold II of Belgium and his colonial administration
||Unknown. Estimates range from 3 million during part of the
period, to 30 million.
Many millions of
Congolese died in a massive genocide, starting in 1885 and continuing into the 20th century.
Congo Free State was
controlled at the time by King Leopold II of Belgium. It was a regime of widespread forced
labor, mass murder, mutilation and torture. MoreOrLess.au.com estimates
that the population of the Congo declined from about 20 to 30 million to under
nine million during this time of atrocity.
The Congress of Berlin gave King Leopold II
administrative powers over the Congo Free State. According to the Siracd.com web
Leopold was interested in the Congo's natural resources. He used the
native population as forced labor to acquire those resources. The human toll
under Leopold's administration was staggering. People who resisted were
beaten, tortured, mutilated or killed. Writer Algis Valiunas described the
situation as "wickedness triumphant." 4
Author Conan Doyle was inspired to write The Crime
of the Congo -- a book which he finished in eight days. It is "filled
with graphic descriptions of violence and illustrated with photos of mutilated
people, dealt with the atrocities committed in the Belgian Congo on behalf of
King Leopold II." Doyle later campaigned for and end to the atrocities in the
Congo. The situation gradually improved. 4
More details about this
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"20th Century Democide," at: http://www.mega.nu:8080/ampp/rummel/20th.htm
"#671 - Columbus Day, 1999," at: http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/bulletin.cfm?Issue_ID=1591
"Kevil Rudd says sorry," Sydney Morning Herald, 2008-FEB-13, at:
"Conan Doyle and the Belgian
Copyright © 2001 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-JAN-1
Latest update: 2010-JAN-05
Author: B.A. Robinson