Genocide. It’s like x. Everyone knows you shouldn’t do it, but it’s still surprisingly more common than you’d hope for. Join us this Wednesday, 6pm at the Sovereignty Lounge, BBB B101 for a riveting discussion. A few facts:
Genocide was invented by Turkey during the Great War, in Armenia. As the empire that brought us super-sized bombards was crumbling, a group of Turk nationalists seized power and introduced several technical innovations, including concentration camps, death marches in the desert, and confiscation of abandoned property in order to solve the Armenian question.
Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire (1913-16), put’s it better than I ever could (since he was there): I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this. The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared with the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915.
Another pioneering innovation was what happens after: Turkey lost the war (together with Germany), the empire crumbled, everyone was trialed and condemned for war crimes. Because the UN wasn’t a thing yet, and it’s predecessor, the League of Legends Nations had barely started, there was no international body to do anything, and the condemned did what any reasonable person would do: walked into another jurisdiction. The oppressed peoples survivors also did what any reasonable person would do: formed a covert operation named after a Greek God, assassinated everybody, and most importantly, secured the .com: http://www.operationnemesis.com/
Interestingly: Much of this was quite well documented at the time by Western diplomats, missionaries and others, creating widespread wartime outrage against the Turks in the West. Although its ally, Germany, was silent at the time, in later years documents have surfaced from ranking German diplomats and military officers expressing horror at what was going on.
Germany later reconsidered, and the word genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin, drawing on the stuff Turkey did, to describe the stuff Germany did (which, by the way, was really reassured by the stuff Turkey did).
It is clear that we learned a great deal from this history in order to have been able to repeat is so well so many times. As with everything in life, Wikipedia has a way longer and more detailed list on it than anyone could quote, but here are some (biased) highlights:
☭:plate_with_cutlery: The Soviet famine of 1932–33 (3-7M deaths): Uncle Joe did what communism does best and crashed the economy while conveniently neglecting the affected peoples.
Bengal famine of 1943 (2-3M): It is well known that Churchill was pretty racist and despised many of the peoples in the empires possessions while also being pretty ok with war atrocities (e.g. Dresden). But they won the war, so it’s a lot harder to point fingers, and I’ll leave you with this Quora answer.
The Great Leap Forward (1958 to 1962, 18M to 55M deaths): It’s like they say. If you gotta put it in the name, it’s not really obvious…
Cambodian genocide (1975 to 1979, ~1.8M deaths): This number would likely be higher had Vietnam (Russia) not precipitated the of the Khmer Rouge, leading Pol Pot into exile for 20 years until he suicides in 1998 to avoid extradition.
Rwandan genocide (1994, ~1M deaths): Shockingly recent and rather large, the genocide which happened amidst a civil war in Rwanda is conspicuously absent from collective consciousness. It is believed this is largely due to the fact that Hutu and Tutsi sounds like some kind of candy brand rather than two ethnicities very much eager to kill each other.
So! Join us this Wednesday for genocide and !