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Genocide in history

Genocide in history

 An Evolving International Framework

Genocide is a term created during the Holocaust and declared an international crime in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The Convention defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

a. Killing members of the group;
b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

The specific "intent to destroy" particular groups is unique to genocide. A closely related category of international law, crimes against humanity, is defined as widespread or systematic attacks against civilians.

This timeline traces the development of the word and law of genocide.

Genocide Timeline

This is a timeline noting the major conceptual and legal advances in the development of "genocide." It does not attempt to detail all cases which might be considered as genocides, but rather how the term becomes a part of the political, legal, and ethical vocabulary of responding to widespread threats of violence against groups.

1900: Raphael Lemkin
Raphael Lemkin, who would later coin the word "genocide," was born into a Polish Jewish family in 1900. His memoirs detail early exposure to the history of Ottoman attacks against Armenians (which most scholars believe constitute genocide), antisemitic pogroms, and other histories of group-targeted violence as key to forming his beliefs about the need for legal protection of groups.

1933: Rise of Adolf Hitler
With the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor on Jan 30, 1933, the Nazi Party took control of Germany. In October, German delegates walked out of disarmament talks in Geneva and Nazi Germany withdrew from the League of Nations. In October, at an international legal conference in Madrid, Raphael Lemkin (who later coined the word “genocide” ) proposed legal measures to protect groups. His proposal did not receive support.

1939: World War II
World War II began on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland triggering a treaty-mandated Anglo-French declaration of war on Germany. On September 17, 1939, the Soviet army occupied the eastern half of Poland. Lemkin fled Poland, escaping across the Soviet Union and eventually arriving in the United States.

1941: A crime without a name
On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. As the German forces advanced further east, SS, police, and military personnel carried out atrocities that moved British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to state in August 1941: “We are in the presence of a crime without a name.” In December 1941, the United States entered World War II on the side of the Allied forces. Lemkin, who arrived in the United States as a refugee in 1941, had heard of Churchill’s speech and later claimed that his introduction of the word “genocide” was in part a response to Churchill’s statement.

1944: "Genocide" coined
Nazi leadership embarked on a variety of population policies aimed at restructuring the ethnic composition of Europe by force, using mass murder as a tool. Included among these policies and involving mass murder were the attempt to murder all European Jews, which we now refer to as the Holocaust, the attempt to murder most of the Gypsy (Roma) population of Europe, and the attempt to physically liquidate the leadership classes of Poland and the former Soviet Union. Also included in these policies were numerous smaller scale resettlement policies involving the use of brutal force and murder that we now refer to as a form of ethnic cleansing. In 1944, Raphael Lemkin, who had moved to Washington, D.C. and worked with the U.S. War Department, coined the word “genocide” in his text Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. This text documented patterns of destruction and occupation throughout Nazi-held territories.

1945-1946: International Military Tribunal
Between November 20, 1945, and October 1, 1946, the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg tried 22 major Nazi German leaders on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes, crimes against humanity and conspiracy to commit each of these crimes. It was the first time that international tribunals were used as a post-war mechanism for bringing national leaders to justice. The word “genocide” was included in the indictment, but as a descriptive, not legal, term.

1947-1948: Creating an international convention on genocide
Raphael Lemkin was a critical force for bringing “genocide” before the nascent United Nations, where delegates from around the world debated the terms of an international law on genocide. On December 9, 1948, the final text was adopted unanimously. The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide entered into force on January 12, 1951, after more than 20 countries from around the world ratified it.

1950-1987: Cold war
Massive crimes against civilian populations were all too common in the years after World War II and throughout the Cold War. Whether these situations constituted “genocide” was scarcely considered by the countries that had undertaken to prevent and punish that crime by joining the Genocide Convention.

1952: Canada signs the Genocide Convention 
On September 1952, 1988, Canada signed the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide.

1991-1995: Wars of the former Yugoslavia
The wars of the former Yugoslavia were marked by massive war crimes and crimes against humanity. The conflict in Bosnia (1992-1995) brought some of the harshest fighting and worst massacres to Europe since World War II. In one small town, Srebrenica, as many as 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered by Serbian forces.

1993: Resolution 827
In response to the atrocities occurring in Bosnia, the United Nations Security Council issued resolution 827, establishing the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague. It was the first international criminal tribunal since Nuremberg. Crimes the ICTY can prosecute and try are: grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, violations of the laws or customs of war, genocide, and crimes against humanity. Its jurisdiction is limited to crimes committed on the territory of the former Yugoslavia.

1994: Genocide in Rwanda
From April until mid-July, at least 500,000 civilians, mostly from the Tutsi minority group, were killed in Rwanda. It was killing on a devastating scale, scope, and speed. In October, the UN Security Council extended the mandate of the ICTY to include a separate but linked tribunal for Rwanda, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), located in Arusha, Tanzania.

1998: First conviction for genocide
On September 2, 1998, the ICTR issued the world’s first conviction for genocide in an international tribunal when Jean-Paul Akayesu was judged guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity for acts he engaged in and oversaw as mayor of the Rwandan town of Taba.

Through an international treaty ratified on July 17, 1998, the International Criminal Court was permanently established to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The treaty reconfirmed the definition of genocide found in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. It also expanded the definition of crimes against humanity and prohibits these crimes during times of war or peace.

While the ICTY and ICTR and the emerging International Criminal Court have helped establish legal precedents and can investigate crimes within their jurisdictions, punishment of genocide remains a difficult task. Even more difficult is the continuing challenge to prevent genocide.

2004: Statement from The Hon. Jean Augustine, Member of Canadian Parliament

2004: Statement by Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada

2009: Brian Masse to lunch Srebrenica Remembrance Day Campaign and Motion

2010: The Canadian parliament has unanimously adopted the Srebrenica genocide resolution {M-416}

2010: Rob Oliphant, Member of the Canadian Parliament is  introducing the Bill C – 533. 

An Act respecting a Srebrenica Remembrance Day and Srebrenica Genocide. Canada to become the first nation to legally recognize the Bosnian Genocide at Srebrenica by the law, not only by the resolution – motion.

2011: Historically important day for relationship between Bosnia and Hezegovina and Canada.

Parliamentary Friendship Group Canada – Bosnia and Herzegovina held its first constitutive meeting in Ottawa on November 15, 2011.

Bosnian Genocide Timeline

The eleven genocides against Bosnian Bosniaks

Bosniaks should use this occasion to remind ourselves about the Hijrah and about the eleven genocides against Bosnian Bosniaks.
Crimes of genocide against Bosniaks in the Balkans are part of their history. These crimes of genocide last over three centuries, originated from both the East and the West sides, depending on the historical period. The causes of genocides against Bosniaks are, in principle, ideological ones, but there are other as well: first of all fight for territories (cf. \"space for living\", Lebensraum, as used by Nazi), and then plans for extermination of people.

Crimes of genocide have their historical continuity from the second half of the 17th century. While some of them were results of genocidal acts of Venetian and Austrian troops, for the most part they have been result of Serbian and Montenegrin continuous politics since the beginning of the 17th century until the present days.

That is to say, physical and spiritual extermination and destruction committed by Serbs and Montenegrins against Bosniaks in the Balkans are motivated by Serbian genocidal ideology founded on: Kosovo Myth, Njegos\' epics on annihilation of the converts to Islam, as well as lies and political propaganda. This ideology was developed in works of Njegos (\"Gorski vijenac\", \"The Mountain Wreath\") and Ilija Garasanin (\"Nacertanije\", 1844), with contributing motives from Vuk Karadzic\'s \"Jezicki nacionalizam\" and religious doctrine of the Serbian Orthodox Church. These criminal programs have been complemented in the recent past by Stevan Moljevic\'s \"Programski dokumenti\" of June 30, 1941 (an ideologist in the Draza Mihailovic\'s Chetniks Movement), Resolutions at the 1943 Chetniks\' Conference in village Sahovici, and last \"Memorandum\" by SANU - Srpska Akademija Nauka i Umetnosti (Serbian Academy of Science and Arts) - thus giving a framework for this criminal construction.

Historiographic, philosophical and literature works of Vasa Cubrilovic, Dobrica Cosic, Milorad Ekmecic, Vojislav Djuretic, Vasilije Krestic, Mihailo Markovic and others provided intellectual and spiritual foundation to this genocidal politics.

The last genocide committed against Bosniaks (1992-1995) by Serbia and Montenegro was planned by: Military top of the former Yugoslavia (SFRJ) (usurped by Serbia), State Leadership of Serbia, Serbian political opposition, Serbian Orthodox Church, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, SANU, as well as corresponding powers in Montenegro.

All plans for \"Greater Serbia\" and Chetniks\' genocidal programmatic documents state that creation and organization of homogenous Serbia (ethnically pure Serbian state),
comprising \"all territories inhabited by Serbs\", is first and primary duty of \"all\" Serbs.


The first genocide against Bosniaks occurred during and after the Great Vienna War, between Ottoman and Austrian Empires.

As Ottomans lost in this war all territories and power in Hungary, Slavonia, Lika, Krbava, Dalmatia, Bay of Kotor, all Moslem-Bosniaks who did not timely withdraw from these areas and territories to Bosnia and other areas south of Sava and Danube river were killed, expelled, assimilated or forcefully converted to Christianity. All cultural and sacral objects were destroyed and valuables looted. Precise and clear evidence about conversion to Christianity exist in Franciscan archives in Dalmatia, Lika, Slavonia. Various toponyms and last names are today only signs that Bosniaks had inhabited these areas.

For the first genocide, it is most important to say that while Ottoman and Austrian Empires waged war, Bosniaks perished.


The second genocide against Moslem-Bosniaks occurred on Orthodox Christmas Eve of year 1711. So called \"istraga poturica\" (\"annihilation of the converts to Islam\") was carried out on that night. About 1,000 Muslims, living in the area of \"The Old Montenegro\" comprising four regions called nahija and with Cetinje as a capital, were killed then. The Orthodox Church created strategy, promoted idea and was actor of this second genocide. This assertion is based on the facts that the Christmas Eve is the greatest Christian holiday and that the 19th century Bishop and poet Petar Petrovic Njegos \'celebrated\' and documented the annihilation in his work \"The Mountain Wreath\". With this poem, he provided epical background and paradigm for all future genocides against Muslims of Serbia, Sandzak, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

All motives for genocide are celebrated in \"The Mountain Wreath\"; e.g., Njegos expressed and inflamed the religious hatred toward Muslims in verse:
\" Odza rice na ravnom Cetinju – zaudara zemlja Mu’amedom ” ! ! !
(\"The Imam roars upon Cetinje plain, the soil smells of Mohammed\")


The third genocide against Bosniaks occurred between 1804-1820 as a result of The First and The Second Serbian Uprising. Serbian historian an diplomat Stojan Novakovic described this genocide as \"general extermination of Turks-Muslims from population\".
The third genocide against Muslims sees historians, politicians, and poets (such as Njegos) of that time joining The Orthodox Church, which itself plays the key role from time of the second genocide.


The fourth genocide against Bosniaks occurred between 1830-1867 as a result of the 1830 Hati-s-serif and its Annex of 1830. This document gave Serbia the vassal autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. Subsequently, all Bosniaks were expelled from Belgrade, Uzice, Sokol, Sabac. Expelled Muslims were settled by the Porte in Bosnia, in two newly formed settlements: Upper and Lower Azizia, i.e., Bosanski Samac and Orasje.


The fifth genocide against Bosniaks occurred after The Treaty of Berlin 1878. The Article XXVI of The Treaty recognized the independence of Montenegro. It also expanded its territory into Herzegovina. The Article XXXIV recognized the independence of the Principality of Serbia, subject to the conditions set forth in the following Article XXXV: \"In Serbia the difference of religious creeds and confessions shall not be alleged against any person as a ground for exclusion or incapacity in matters relating to the enjoyment of civil or political rights, admission to public employments, functions, and honors, or the exercise of the various professions and industries, in any locality whatsoever. The freedom and outward exercise of all forms of worship shall be assured to all persons belonging to Serbia, as well as to foreigners, and no hindrance shall be offered either to the hierarchical organization of the different communions, or to their relations with their spiritual chiefs.\" Serbia expanded its territory over Nis, Toplica, i Vranje areas. However, Serbia broke the Article XXXV, i.e., the conditions for its independence, in respect to religious, civil, and political freedom of Muslims. They were killed in and expelled from Belgrade, Sabac, Uzice, Sokol, Nis, Pirot, Vranje, and their cultural and sacral objects destroyed.


The sixth genocide against Bosniaks happened after the provinces of Bosnia and Herzegovina had been occupied and administered by Austria-Hungary. During and after the occupation Bosniaks were subject to emigration to Sandzak, Kosovo, Macedonia, which stayed under the Ottoman administration after The Treaty of Berlin 1878. The result was the sharp decrease of Muslim population in total population of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Historians\' citation that between 1879 and 1910 the percentage of Muslim population in Bosnia and Herzegovina decreased by 7% is even more tragic when viewed in absolute figures, because Bosniaks are not numerically big nation.


The sewenth genocide against Bosniaks occurred in 1912 - 1913 in Plav-Gusinje area (South Sanjak or North Montenegro). The genocide against Bosniaks occurred in Sanjak, part of Montenegro with the forcible conversion of Muslim to Christianity in areas of Plav and Gusinje. This genocide is a direct consequence of The First and The Second Balkan Wars. It was the seventh genocide against Muslims in (Central-West) Balkans and the first against Bosniaks in Sanjak. This time, the most prominent Bosniaks of this region, between 800 - 1200 peaple, were executed.


The eight genocide against Bosniaks occurred in 1919 in Plav-Gusinje area, or better to say, it was repeated in this area after the forcible conversion to Christianity in 1912-1913.
This time, the most prominent Bosniaks of this region, about 450 of them, were executed. This has been an untold and unwritten story since then, a good indication that all Bosniak\'s historians so far failed to document this genocide, and which we here cite as The Eight, or the second one in the Plav -Gusinje Region with just 6-7 years apart.


The Ninth genocide against Muslim-Bosniaks lasts from the formation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes in 1918 until its collapse in 1941. In this period the lives of Bosniaks were treated as worthless, and especially difficult situation was for Muslims in Sandzak and Herzegovina. One example is village Sahovici near Bijelo Polje where about 600 Muslims were killed on November 7, 1924, without any reason, guilt, and cause. Bosniak population in Eastern Herzegovina suffered from execution squads known as \"(Serbian) King\'s Komite\". Data analysed attribute to them about 3,000 unresolved murders of Muslims-Bosniaks. All these killings, expulsions and intimidation changed the ethnical profile of the Eastern Herzegovina to the Bosniaks\' detriment.


The tenth genocide against Bosniaks occurred during the WWII, 1941-1945. According to some estimates, about 106,000 Bosniaks died, mostly civilians slaughtered by Chetniks and their daggers. I means that about 8.3% of Muslim population perished in this period. These are still raw data, and full details of suffering are not yet sufficiently investigated and researched. Consequently, I hereby appeal to Bosniak\'s historians and intellectuals skilled in writing to get down to work. As in old saying, \"what is not recorded in writing, is not happened\"! The complete, precise, fantastically powerful and easily web-accessible archive of the ICTY, especially testimonies and cross-examinations of the Prosecutor\'s expert witnesses, many of them historians and intellectuals who are often doing more goods to us Bosniaks than sometimes we ourselves do, is one of the places to start.


The eleventh genocide against Bosniaks occurred in the period 1992-1995 during aggression on Bosnia and Herzegovina by Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia.