Genocide in Ethiopia
Over 3 million people have had to move due to ethnically motivated attacks. Some people have burned churches and there have been many recent deaths in ethnic-based conflicts. If these conflicts do not stop soon, a horrific genocide in Ethiopia could ensue. Here are some facts about the rising genocide in Ethiopia.

7 Facts About the Rising Genocide in Ethiopia

  1. Ethnic and Religious-Based Conflicts: Multiple ethnic groups, including Oromo extremists who want to take back the power others have historically denied them, have been starting ethnic and religious-based conflicts. There has been a long history of ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia. These conflicts include opposition between the Oromo people and Amarah people and the Oromo and the Gedeo people. Additionally, the Tigrean people have had more control over the government resulting in a long and complex history. The Oromo extremists’ acts of violence attempt to eradicate anything resembling the Ethiopian Empire including Christianity (a religion that has a long history in Ethiopia). People are burning Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches to the ground due to these conflicts. The Crisis Group, an organization that seeks to reduce conflicts worldwide, urges the Ethiopian prime minister (Abiy Ahamed Ali) to, “govern more inclusively, working to collaboratively with state institutions on reforms and involving civil society in reconciliation efforts.”
  2. Violence from the Conflicts: Recently, there has been a rise in ethnic and religious clashes in Ethiopia. On October 23, 2019, during a protest, ethnic and religious-based violence broke out and killed up to 78 people in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. Authorities arrested 409 people who were in connection with the attacks.  
  3. The Role of Fake News: The BBC reported that fake news has aided in spurring these attacks. The entire protest emerged from a false claim that security forces were detaining Jawar Mohammed, the founder of the Oromia Media Network and a renowned anti-government activist with a Facebook following of 1.75 million people. These claims were not true. The Ethiopian Prime Minister has responded to this spreading of fake news by warning of forthcoming tough measures against media organizations fueling conflict. Here is a petition from the Genocide Prevention Department to help prevent more violence. This organization is fighting to hold OMN Media, which is a network that is currently broadcasting the hate propaganda accountable for instigating violence.
  4. Ethiopia’s Efforts to Prevent Violence: The new governmental changes that have been making strides to peace have intensified ethnic conflicts in Ethiopia. The Tigrean and Oromo people seek to break away from the government because they oppose its recent efforts to bring peace to Ethiopia. These strides towards peace include the Eritrea peace deal which ended a 20-year stalemate following the 1998-2000 border war, freeing thousands of opposition activists from jail and allowing exiled dissidents to return home.
  5. German Bernhanu and Ignorance: Small disputes become fatal skirmishes due to the absence of a culture of constructive dialogue and the alarming rise of intolerance. During an interview with The Borgen Project, Germa Bernhanu discussed how propaganda fuels a lot of these conflicts because people ignorantly follow. An example of ignorance causing violence is the October 23, 2019 skirmishes that resulted from falses claims.
  6. The Role of Education: Only 41 percent of girls are literate in Ethiopia while 34 percent of school-aged children do not attend school. If more Ethiopian children could gain an education, the ignorant following of propaganda may not be an issue. Organizations like Save the Children and the World Bank are working towards educating children around the world. In the U.S., the Keeping Girls in Schools Act seeks to solve this issue as well by empowering young girls, but the U.S. has not passed this bill yet. Contacting Senators and House Representatives is a great way to urge congress to pass this bill.
  7. Potential for Genocide: Many Ethiopians have a great fear that genocide will break out in Ethiopia. Ethiopians such as Elijah Wallace, Ethiopian native and scholar, and Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopian running legend, also say the potential for a genocide to emerge in Ethiopia soon is great. Many believe that the situation is very fragile due to political protests against the Ethiopian government’s attempts to unify Ethiopia as well as ethnic and religious-based feuds that have broken out in Ethiopia recently. Since very bloody ethnic-based clashes continue to happen in Ethiopia, the beliefs that genocide in Ethiopia is a very likely possibility in the near future are strong.

While a full-blown genocide has thankfully not occurred in Ethiopia yet, genocide in Ethiopia is certainly a looming possibility. If the Ethiopian government is able to defuse the conflicts and figure out how to handle them, these conflicts might be able to resolve without outside interference. 

– Emily Oomen
Photo: Flickr

Recent Genocides
Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. Recent genocides have occurred in Sudan against 
Darfur’s ethnic Fur, Massalit, and Zhagawa peoples and in Myanmar against its Rohingya minority.

Tensions Continue as a Result of Sudanese Genocides

Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1956, Sudan has struggled to find peace between its Muslim northern regions and its animist and Christian southern regions. Continuous conflict led to the creation of an autonomous South Sudan, but tensions persist. Civil wars in the region have taken an estimated 2.5 million lives and displaced approximately four million people.

Beside the warring north and south of Sudan, recent genocides have occurred in a western part of the nation known as Darfur. In February 2003, rebel groups led by predominantly by non-Arab Muslim sedentary tribes, including the Fur and Zaghawa, rose up against the Khartoum government due to unequal treatment and economic marginalization. In response, the government sent militias known as Janjaweed, which translates to “evil men on horseback,” whose duties were to carry out attacks on villages. The Janjaweed used slash and burn methods to decimate communities as well as injuring and murdering civilians and poisoning wells.

The Darfurian genocide was the first genocide of the 21st century and its unrest and violence have not yet ceased. As of 2016, more than 480,000 people have been murdered and more than 2.8 million people have been displaced. Many refugees have fled Sudan and some have been living in camps for more than 10 years.

Recent Genocides in Myanmar Draw Global Attention

Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, lived under the governance of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011. The government is now under civilian control, but the military continues to wield extensive power and commit human rights abuses. Its population is mostly Buddhist with large Christian and Muslim minorities.

Two-thirds of Myanmar’s people identify as Burmese or Bamar, but there are 135 ethnic minorities residing in the country. The Christian Karen people and the Muslim Rohingya people of Myanmar have faced long-standing systemic violence and oppression from the Buddhist government. Aid agencies estimate that 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes in the decades of conflict and as recently as 2010 the government was still burning, shelling and abusively sweeping Karen villages.

The Rohingya Muslims have also had a long-standing history of genocide and statelessness. In 1982, the Burmese military stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship, claiming that they were Bengali despite their having lived in Burma’s Rakhine State for generations. This led to a mass migration of over 250,000 Rohingya people to Bangladesh in 1991 and 1992, but they were met with deportation once in Bangladesh and were forced to return to Burma.

The recent genocides of the Rohingya in Myanmar began in 2012 when political party officials, senior Buddhist monks and state security forces committed mass killings of men, women and children. The cleansing left 150,000 Rohingya homeless and more than 100,000 fled the country.

Even more recently, in August 2017, a small rebellion of Rohingya militants led to military retaliation against any and all Rohingya people. These attacks caused the largest refugee movement since the Rwandan genocide. More than 675,000 Rohingya fled the country within three months to seek safety in Bangladesh. As of January 2018, more than one million Rohingya refugees have been registered in Bangladesh.

Fulfilling the Promise to End Genocide Worldwide

Ethnic cleansing and genocide are not acts of the past. Religious and cultural minorities continue to face persecution and attempts at forced extinction. However, this does not mean that individuals elsewhere must simply be bystanders to such atrocities. Raising awareness about the genocides occurring in the world and donating time or money to organizations that work to end genocide can make an impact and ensure that the world does not turn a blind eye to those in danger.

The organization United to End Genocide states that one of the best ways for individuals to help prevent and stop genocide is to vote for representatives who support foreign aid and acknowledge global atrocities. Support representatives who make the end of genocide a priority.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

ethnic cleansing and genocide
The United Nations (U.N.) first termed ‘genocide’ in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, while ‘ethnic cleansing,’ on the other hand, is not recognized as a crime under international law (United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect).

The lines between the ethnic cleansing and genocide can become blurred; however, when it comes to the international community taking action to mediate in a crime, the difference between ethnic cleansing and genocide needs to be understood.

 

Genocide

Genocide, in the Convention, means “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such:

  1. Killing members of the group;
  2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
  3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”

Therefore, under international law, genocide is a punishable crime. Any person found guilty of carrying out genocide will be tried by a tribunal of the state where the genocide was committed or an international tribunal.

 

Ethnic Cleansing

Ethnic cleansing is the process of removing particular groups from a specific area based on race, nationality, religion and other identifying principles.

While ethnic cleansing doesn’t, by definition, involve the intent to kill a group, the resettlement of said people typically results in the loss of lives; genocide, however, focuses on the “intent to destroy.”

Ethnic cleansing is considered a crime against humanity. It has not been written and signed in any U.N. treaty, which means Member States do not have to protect those who have fallen victim.

Critics of the terms “ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” say that many state governments will use the initial phrase — even in incidents that could arguably be classified as genocide — in order to escape the necessity of using state resources and taking action against the perpetrating nation.

 

Responsibility to Protect

International law, in general, is a tricky topic when it comes to holding perpetrators accountable and protecting human rights. However, there is discussion on the national and international level (especially within the U.N.) to improve global law enforcement mechanisms.

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine says that “if a state is unable to protect its own population from “genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” then the internationality community must do something.”

R2P was adopted at the World Summit in 2005. It aims to hold member states accountable for the equal and moral protection of their own populations and all populations at risk of genocide and other mass atrocity crimes.

Discussion is increasing to meet the needs of millions of individuals that have suffered (and are suffering) from ethnic cleansing and genocide in the world today.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Senator John McCain Takes a Stand Against Ethnic Cleansing in BurmaOn September 12, 2017, Arizona Senator John McCain spoke out against the treatment of the Rohingya population of the Rakhine State of Burma, also known as Myanmar. The Rohingya people are mostly Muslim-practicing individuals, and according to the United Nations, they are under attack. Specifically, the U.N. stated that the situation, which is characterized by a series of “cruel military operations,” is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

In his address, Senator McCain withdrew his support of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA), which sought to expand a military relationship between the United States and Burma. Specifically, Senator McCain criticized Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her lack of interference with the ethnic cleansing in Burma, stating, “I can no longer support expanding military-to-military cooperation given the worsening humanitarian crisis […] against the Rohingya people.”

According to Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia Joshua Kurlantzick, Suu Kyi, who is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work with democracy and human rights, “has never demonstrated much sympathy” to the Rohingya people. Suu Kyi has remained mostly silent throughout the humanitarian crisis; however, she has claimed that the ethnic cleansing in Burma was burdened by an “iceberg of misinformation,” which has further enabled the country’s continuous Buddhist nationalist movement.

The Rohingya people, a minority group within Burma‘s largely Buddhist population, are not recognized as an official ethnic group by the country’s government. The attacks against the Rohingya people escalated on August 25, 2017, when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) targeted multiple Burmese police and military officials.

Approximately 270,000 Rohingya people have fled Burma in order to find safety and solace in Bangladesh. Additionally, tens of thousands of Rohingya people remain displaced throughout Burma. However, the Burmese government has suspended all foreign aid to the Rakhine State, which has left all of the Rohingya people without necessities like food or health services.

Human Rights Watch has called upon the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to place pressure on the Burmese government in order to allow access to foreign aid for the Rohingya people. Suu Kyi’s silence has had a significantly negative impact on the attacks against the Rohingya people, but she can help stabilize the situation by allowing foreign aid to reach the misplaced Rohingya people.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is an organization that has provided approximately 580,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh with food, which is particularly important for pregnant women and young children. Also, the WFP’s nutritious food has slightly lessened the risk for disease outbreaks among the Rohingya refugees, as nutritious foods help to strengthen the immune system.

The Rohingya people still remain displaced throughout Bangladesh with no shelter; however, the WFP’s food delivery to the Rohingya people, and Senator McCain’s address, are important beginning steps to helping the refugees obtain better lives.

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr

Ethnic Cleansing in BurmaOn September 12, 2017, Arizona Senator John McCain spoke out against the treatment of the Rohingya population of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The Rohingya people are mostly Muslim-practicing individuals, and according to the United Nations, they are under attack. Specifically, the U.N. stated that the situation, which is characterized by a series of “cruel military operations,” is a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. Thus, the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar must not be ignored.

In his address, Senator McCain withdrew his support of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (NDAA), which sought to expand a military relationship between the United States and Myanmar. Specifically, Senator McCain criticized leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her lack of interference throughout the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. He stated, “I can no longer support expanding military-to-military cooperation given the worsening humanitarian crisis […] against the Rohingya people.”

According to Joshua Kurlantzick, the Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia on the Council on Foreign Relations, Suu Kyi, who is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work with democracy and human rights, “has never demonstrated much sympathy” to the Rohingya people.

Furthermore, Suu Kyi has remained mostly silent throughout the humanitarian crisis; she has claimed that the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar was burdened by an “iceberg of misinformation,” which has further enabled the country’s continuous Buddhist nationalist movement.

The Rohingya people, which are a minority group within Myanmar’s largely Buddhist population, are not recognized as an official ethnic group by the country’s government. The attacks against the Rohingya people escalated on August 25, 2017, when the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) targeted multiple police and military officials.

Approximately 370,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar in order to find safety and solace in Bangladesh. Additionally, tens of thousands of Rohingya remain displaced throughout Myanmar. However, the Myanmar government has suspended all foreign aid to the Rakhine State, which has left all of the Rohingya people without necessities such as food or health services.

Human Rights Watch has called upon the United Nations, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to place pressure on the Myanmar government in order to allow access to foreign aid for the Rohingya people.

Suu Kyi’s silence has been demonstrated to have a significantly negative impact on the attacks against the Rohingya people, but she can help stabilize the situation by allowing foreign aid to reach the displaced Rohingya people.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is an organization that has provided approximately 580,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh with food, which is incredibly important for pregnant women and young children. The nutritious food provided by WFP has slightly lessened the risk of disease outbreaks among the Rohingya refugees, by helping to strengthen the immune system and health outcomes. They are seeking further financial resources to continue their work in tackling the crisis.

The Rohingya still remained displaced throughout Bangladesh with no shelter; however, WFP’s food delivery is a great first step to helping the refugees obtain better lives.

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr

what is Ethnic Cleansing
What is ethnic cleansing? The term ethnic cleansing refers to the mass purge of members of an ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another. Throughout history, there have been many brutal examples of it. The aim is to rid of unwanted members of society and create an ethnically pure community.

The most famous examples of ethnic cleansing occurred throughout the 20th century. First, the Turkish massacre of Armenians during World War I, followed by the Holocaust during the Second World War. The Holocaust is possibly the most horrific example of ethnic cleansing, as the Nazis annihilated around 6 million European Jews. A final example is a forced displacement carried out in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda during the 1990s.

A recent example of ethnic cleansing is the Iraq Civil War, that consequently led to the Iraqi insurgency, which began in 2011 and is still happening. Areas are being evacuated as a result of insecurity and fear. The United Nations estimates that 2.2 million Iraqis have been displaced and that nearly 100,000 Iraqis evacuated to neighboring countries each month.

It is common for ethnic cleansing and genocide to get confused, as both include mass expulsion. Genocide means the targeting of a large group and the deliberate killing of its members. The International Criminal Court has linked both ethnic cleansing and genocide very closely, labeling them both as crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Ethnic cleansing has many consequences. There have been many cases of depression and other forms of psychological anguish as a result of it. Communities built by refugees are plagued with sadness, and the numbers of those living beneath the poverty line continue to increase. Shortages of food, clean water and housing become more apparent as these numbers continue to rise.

Finding a solution to ethnic cleansing is too difficult due to the vast differences between various ethnic groups and members of society. The only help that can be given is to the victims of it. This can be done through the donation of resources, to help communities that are struggling as a result of brutal situations.

Georgia Boyle

Photo: Flickr

10 Ways to Respond to Ethnic Cleansing in South Sudan
More than two decades after at least 800,000 people were killed in Rwanda, the situation seems poised to repeat itself in the world’s youngest country. More than one million people have fled South Sudan since violence erupted in the country in 2013, creating the largest mass exodus of any Central African conflict since the Rwandan genocide. In light of a new U.N. declaration that the country is on the brink of disaster and that ethnic cleansing is under way, it is imperative that the international community responds differently than it did in 1994. Here are 10 ways that the international community — from leaders to citizens — can respond to ethnic cleansing in South Sudan.

  1. Impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo
    The United States has pushed for sanctions and an arms embargo against South Sudan, but the U.N. vote on such measures has been pushed back following opposition from Russia, China and others. However, this measure is imperative as it is the simplest and most effective way for the international community to curb ethnic cleansing in South Sudan.
  2. Establish a death toll
    Ivan Šimonović, the U.N. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, stressed the importance of a death toll in 2014. He said public information had the power to “deter continued violations of human rights” and keep communities informed. “Only reliable reporting can help them to reconcile, knowing that both sides have been involved as perpetrators as well as victims,” he said.
  3. Deploy regional protection force
    The U.N. approved the deployment of a regional protection force in August, and South Sudan finally agreed to the deployment in late November. In an editorial for Al Jazeera, three South Sudanese writers stressed the importance of this force, and suggested that its powers included “monitoring, disarming and demobilizing any armed group targeting civilians”.
  4. Establish a hybrid court
    Human rights organizations have expressed concerns that the focus on ethnic cleansing in South Sudan will allow perpetrators of crimes such as destruction of property, rape and murder to go unpunished. Amnesty International has urged the African Union Commission and the South Sudanese government to establish a hybrid court so that all crimes are appropriately prosecuted.
  5. Ensure that new tools and structures put in place to prevent genocide are followed
    World leaders must put structures in place to ensure an effective response to genocide. In the U.S., President Obama had the Atrocities Prevention Board created to facilitate a multilateral response to atrocities and genocide globally. But it is the job of citizens to ensure that these structures function as intended.
  6. Establish an early warning system
    According to Dr. Gregory H. Stanton, president of Genocide Watch, an early warning system will help prevent further genocides and ensure that countries are able to respond quickly and effectively when a nation is showing warning signs characteristic of genocide.
  7. Confront Power Vacuum
    Experts believe that the perceived power vacuum that will be left after president Obama leaves office could be a trigger for ethnic cleansing in South Sudan. It is the job of the new administration to confront this vacuum and ensure that the security of human rights remains a global priority.
  8. Keep pressure on political leaders to respond to the crisis in South Sudan
    Congressional leaders must continue to fight to hold human rights abusers to account, and promote peace, by passing bills like the recently-approved Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.
  9. Members of the U.N. Security Council- Prioritize genocide prevention in South Sudan
    The United Nations must continue to monitor and prioritize the situation in South Sudan, offering aid, guidance, and resolutions in pursuit of peace.
  10. Media- Prioritize genocide prevention in South Sudan
  11. In 1994, the media failed to give the Rwandan genocide adequate coverage. The media must not make that same mistake by failing to report on the situation in South Sudan.

Eva Kennedy

Photo: Flickr