Mass crimes against humanity and genocides
Atrocities since World War II
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
|1949 to 1987
Mao was responsible for about 40 million total deaths of which
most were lost during the Great Leap Forward "which created a famine that
killed some 30 million. If we confine our indictment to deliberate
killings..." Mao was responsible for about 10 million deaths.
"From 1949 onwards, through a succession of failed
economic experiments, notably the calamitous 'Great Leap Forward,' and
ever more Byzantine political campaigns to suppress 'counter-revolutionaries'
- code for anyone perceived to be against the Chairman [Mao Ze Dong]- the
citizens of the People's Republic of China went to their deaths in their
millions, by execution, starvation or despairingly by their own hands in
repeated waves of suicide."
About half starved to death during
1959 and 1960.
In addition, Mao Ze Dong
"launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1966, in what
appeared to be a massive cleansing policy to ensure the final victory of Mao
and his clique over the rest of the Chinese Communist party. Over the next
decade, literally millions of people were sacked, imprisoned and otherwise
reviled for hitherto hidden 'bourgeois tendencies' while tens of thousands
were executed." 1
His successors continued the bloodletting, but at a much slower rate.
Recent examples are the massacre at Tiananmen Square, and the current
imprisonment, torture and execution of persons who practice Falun
Dafa -- a Chinese meditation/exercise technique.
||Number of victims
|1975 to 1979
||1.7 to 2 million
This massacre of almost 25% of the population of Cambodia was perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge
during the Democratic Kampuchea (DK) communist regime headed by the late Pol Pot.
Their goal was to forcibly convert Cambodia into a peasant state.
particularly targeted. "The Cambodian genocide is
unique, though, in that for many years it remained largely undocumented, and is
only now being investigated for the purposes of bringing its perpetrators to
justice." 3 Tens of thousands of pages of records, over
10,000 photos, and other material are being systematically documented by
specialists at Yale University, the Documentation Center of Cambodia, and the
University of New South Wales. Included are maps showing the locations of more
than 5,000 mass grave sites -- the "killing fields."
After a delay of almost three and a half decades, genocide trials began on
2009-FEB-17 with the trial of Kaing Kech leu, a.k.a. Duch. He headed the S-21
torture center in Tuoi Dlrnh during the 1970s. Between 1975 and 1979, about
17,000 men, women and children were sent to the interrogation center. Only 14
adults and 5 children survived. Four other trials will follow: Nuon Chea, Pol
Pot's "Brother Number Two"; Ieng Sary, the Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister; his
wife Ieng Thirith, who was Minister of Social Affairs; and Khieu Samphan, who
served as President. 15
The Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot, died peacefully in 1998 without having been
brought to justice.
||Number of victims
|1975 to 1999
In 1974-APR, the overthrow of Portuguese dictator Marcelo Caetano led to
self-government for East Timor, a Portuguese colony. On 1975-DEC-7, Indonesian
army invaded East Timor and took over control of the half-island. About 100,000 of the original
population of 600,000 died during the first year of occupation. The military
"used harsh tactics to coerce cooperation from the people and solidify Indonesian rule.
These methods have included forced migration, rape and forced sterilization, forced military service, torture, murder, and
harassment." By 1999, "One in four East Timorese is thought to have
lost his or her life in the struggle."
||Number of victims
||Mainly Muslim militia and government
||Initially, mostly Animists & Christiaas; now mainly
||About 200,000 deaths; millions dislocated
The country has had a series of military conflicts since
the late 19th century. Its most recent civil was was partly triggered by the
discovery of oil in southern Sudan and an increase effort by the Muslim
government in the North to convert residents in the south from Animism and
Christianity to Islam by force. A fragile peace agreement was in place by 2004. However,
it did not include the Darfur region in western Sudan.
An armed rebellion in Darfur by the Sudanese
People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement has been
countered mainly by Arab "Janjaweed" -- a militia group armed by the central
government. On the order of two million people in Darfur have been displaced.
The number of deaths is unknown; the central government estimates 9,000
civilians killed. The UN estimates 200,000 deaths. Other estimates range as high
as 400,000. 13,14
||Number of victims
||Mainly Tutsis; some moderate Hutus
Before 1994, about 85% of the population of Rwanda was Hutu, of Bantu
origin; 10 to 14% were Tutsi, of Catalonian origin; fewer than 3% were Twa,
of Pygmoid origin. During the early 1990's, the government of Rwanda carried out a program
of ethnic division, raising hatred against the Tutsi minority in the country. On
1994-APR-6, president Juvenal Habyarimana was killed in a plane crash. Tutsi
extremists are believed to have been responsible. The Rwandan Armed Forces and
Hutu militia immediately started to systematically murder Tutsis and moderate Hutu
politicians. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda, a
peacekeeping force, was ordered to not intervene, because that would violate their
limited, monitoring mandate. French, Belgium and American citizens were airlifted
from the country. Two
weeks later, the International Red Cross (IRC) estimated that tens,
perhaps hundreds of thousands of Rwandans had been killed. The UN pulled 90% of
its peacekeeping troops out of the country. When the killing finally stopped,
about 800,000 Rwandans had been murdered in 100 days; almost all were Tutsis.
Unlike many other incidences of mass crimes against humanity in the 1980's and
1990's, there was a strong ethnic component to the slaughter. 5 In 1999-MAR, the "...Human Rights Watch release[d] a report titled,
'Leave None to Tell the Story.'.. It...criticizes the U.N., the U.S., France and Belgium for knowing about preparations for the impending slaughter and not taking action to prevent the killings."
7 " The Organization of African Unity
commissioned a seven-person panel to study the genocide. In its 296 page
report issued in mid-2000, and titled "Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide,"
they determined that, among influences external to Rwanda, the United
States, Belgium and France were primarily culpable. However, "within
Rwanda itself, those with the heaviest responsibility were the Catholic and
Anglican hierarchies and the French government." The report notes that:
"Church leaders failed to use their unique moral position among the
overwhelmingly Christian population to denounce ethnic hatred and human
rights abuse." 10 " ...both Anglicans and RCs [Roman
Catholics] were widely seen as siding with the Hutu killers, as a result of
which their sanctuary status was lost. A number of bishops and priests were
killed by the re-invading Tutsi. It can be said that Islam alone (1% of the
population) has consistently supported the interests of all ethnic groups
About 75% of the Tutsi population were killed in
the genocide. Court trials are underway.
||Number of victims
|1995 to 1999
||Serbian Orthodox Christians (mainly)
For historical reasons, almost all of the population of the
former Yugoslavia follow one of three faith groups. Two are Christian groups: Serbian Orthodoxy and
Roman Catholicism; the third is Islam. Throughout the 1990's, Slobodan Milosevic and other
politicians exploited long standing religious divisions in the country, in
order to promote their nationalistic aims.
The Bosnian Serbs, mainly followers of the Bosnian Orthodox church, more than
the other groups in the country, first adopted a policy of "ethnic
cleansing." In reality, it was actually religious cleansing. This involved the forced
relocation of the mostly Roman Catholic Croats and the Muslims. As a precursor
to this policy, non-Serbs were identified as traitors, and a massive propaganda
campaign started. A program of ethnic cleansing was started: Non-serbs
were removed from their homes and forcibly relocated. Ethnic cleansing evolved into
religious genocide, with systematic destruction of libraries and mosques, mass,
systematic rape of women, and mass killing of non-Serbs. The world viewed a
scaled-down version of the Nazi holocaust, involving "civilian and POW
non-Serbs, primarily Muslims, in sealed freight trains to camps where
starvation, regular beatings, lack of shelter, torture, and occasional mass
shootings made life expectancy short." 8
The United Nations decided to establish "safe areas" inside
Bosnia. However, these were hopelessly understaffed with troops. They were
often over-run and the inhabitants were exterminated. NATO
military intervention, coupled with diplomatic and economic pressure from the west resulted in all
of the belligerent
parties accepting the Dayton Accords in 1995-NOV. The war and genocide
stopped; peace remains elusive. 8.9 International
peace-keeping troops will probably have to be stationed there for decades.
Slobodan Milosevic died of an apparent heart attack during 2006-MAR while in
prison near the end of his four year trial on multiple counts crimes against
humanity. The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) wrote:
"....it is now more than ever crucial that the international community
bring other indicted war criminals to justice in order to bring about a
much-needed process of truth and reconciliation....The European Union has
given the Serbian government until April to hand over Ratko Mladić, military
leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the 1992-95 war, who is accused of
genocide, crimes against humanity and other war crimes for the siege of
Sarajevo and the massacre of thousands of Muslim men and boys around
Srebrenica in July 1995. The Bosnian Serbs' wartime political leader,
Karadžić, also has yet to surrender to the Hague tribunal. Both men
have been fugitives for more than 10 years. Capturing and trying
Karadžić should be an immediate priority of the international community in
order to deliver long overdue justice that is crucial in order to begin the
heal the scars faced by those who witnessed the Balkan genocide firsthand."
As of 2009-FEB, Mladić and Karadžić
remain at large in spite of a U.S. government reward
of $5 million and a Serbian government reward of €1 million for information
leading to their arrests. A poll has revealed that as many as 65% of Serbs would
not reveal information leading to their arrests.
||Number of victims
|1998 to 1999
||Mainly Serbian Orthodox Christians
||400,000 displaced; deaths unknown
By 1998, the former Yugoslavia had shrunk to three political
divisions: Serbia, Kosovo
and a semi-autonomous district, Montenegro. The mainly Muslim Albanian rebels in
Kosovo were fighting for independence. The central government in
Belgrade, mainly controlled by Serbian Orthodox Christians, had attempted to crush the
rebellion. They "used excessive force against the Albanian civilian population, destroying villages and driving people from their
homes...By September 1998...there was a full-blown humanitarian crisis in Kosovo."
5 At its peak, 300,000 Kosovars had fled their homes. 60,000
had no shelter. With the onset of winter, it was feared that many would die. NATO threatened air
strikes against Serbia if it did not comply with a U.N. resolution calling for a
ceasefire. Serbia appeared to comply. "...the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), representing 54 states,
entered into an agreement with [Serbian president Slobodan] Milosevic that would establish the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM), composed of at least 2,000 unarmed verifiers from the member states."
5 After many cease-fire violations (mostly by Serbian forces) and a massacre of 45 unarmed ethnic Albanian civilians by Serbian forces in the village of Racak on
1999-JAN-15, the situation degenerated seriously. The U.S. and Russia called on
both sides to adhere to previous agreements. NATO threatened to take military
action if that was not done. By early 1999-FEB almost 400,000 Kosovars (almost
20% of the population) had been displaced. President Milosevic's intransigence ultimately forced NATO to take
military action. After destruction of much of the infrastructure of Serbia, the
central government withdrew its troops and police from Kosovo.
An uneasy peace currently exists
between the minority Serbian Orthodox population and the majority Albanians, who
are mostly Muslim. International peacekeepers attempt to maintain stability. The
United Nations has assumed administrative responsibility for Kosovo.
This tragedy is believed to be the first international war action in history
that was mounted in order to return human rights to a oppressed
||Number of victims
|1997 to present
||Democratic Republic of the Congo
||Government, army, army irregulars and rebels.
||About 6 million killed. Others suffered rape, destruction
of property. etc. Deaths continue.
According to Human Rights Watch:
took control of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997 after a
bloody war in which his supporters and Rwandan and Ugandan allies killed
tens of thousands of civilians. He defended his regime in a second war
after his erstwhile allies, Rwanda and Uganda, invaded the country in
1998. In this second war, Kabila's forces, like those of Rwanda, Uganda,
and the Congolese rebels allied with them, have all engaged in
indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial executions, rape, and
destruction of property, with the result of massive displacement of
"During his nearly four years in power, Kabila regularly and ruthlessly
violated the human rights of the Congolese people, killing, torturing,
imprisoning, and causing the "disappearance" of any who he
thought threatened him or his regime. Among those who suffered most were political
opponents, leaders of civil society, human rights activists, and
The Second Congo War (a.k.a. Africa's World War and the Great War of Africa)
resulted in the deaths of about 5.4 million people -- mostly by starvation and
disease -- between 1998-AUG and the date that it officially ended in 2003-JUL. The death toll was the highest of any war
since World War II. By late 2009, about a half million people were still dying
||Number of victims
|2010 (if a proposed law is passed)
||Lesbians, gays, & bisexual adults who engage in same-sex sexual
||If detected, about 5% of the adult population may be legally
A bill has been proposed to execute lesbians, gays, and bisexuals who engage
in same-sex behavior. Religious groups in the country support the bill
enthusiastically. Much of the inspiration of the bill came from American
fundamentalists and other evangelicals.
Copying a policy of Nazi Germany, the bill stipulates that if any adult is aware
of someone engaging in same-sex sexual behavior, they must report them to the
police within a short time interval or face a lengthy jail sentence.
The bill has yet to become law. More details.
- Philip Short, "Mao: A life,"
- Ben Kiernan, "The Pol Pot regime: Race, power and genocide in
Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge," 1975-9," 0300070527
- "Welcome to the Cambodian Genocide Program," at: http://www.yale.edu/cgp/
- "East Timor index page," at: http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/
- "The Triumph of Evil," PBS/Frontline, at: http://www.pbs.org/
- "Rwanda and Zaire: Comprehending the crisis," at:
- "Leave none to tell the story: Genocide in Rwanda,"
Human Rights Watch, at: http://www.hrw.org/
- K.V. Lawrence, "International dimensions of genocide,"
- "Bosnia: Psychology of genocide," at: http://www.megastories.com/
- "Rwanda: The preventable genocide," Vision TV, at:
http://www.visiontv.ca/. This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from:
- "Question: Who was the Bloodiest Tyrant of the 20th Century?
Answer: We don't know," Twentieth Century Atlast, at:
- "After Milosevic, other war criminals must be captured and tried,"
MPAC News, 2006-MAR-14, at:
- "Probe into Sudan genocide claims," CNN, 2004-APR-22, at:
- "Darfur conflict," Wikipedia, at:
Anne Barrowclough, "Survivor of Khmer Rouge death camp to give evidence at
trial," Times Online, 2009-FEB-16, at:
Copyright © 2001 to 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2001-JAN-1
Latest update: 2009-NOV-15
Author: B.A. Robinson