Genocide, mostly unpunished crime against humanity

Rubayat Ahsan

Rubayat Ahsan


(Image Credit: Rashid Talukder/Drik/Majority World)

The term “Genocide” came into existence in 1944. It was then known as crime against specific group to cleanse them from the face of the earth. Nazi’s intentions to systematically extinct European Jews is significant crime against humanity which fall under the discourse of genocide. On December 9, 1948 United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Later on international criminal tribunals was established to bring crime of genocide anywhere in the world under international judgment.

Article 2 of the UN convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide[i] states, In the present Convention, genocide 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:

(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.

139 countries have signed ICC treaty and 111 countries have ratified so far.  In Asia only 7 countries have ratified the Rome Statute. Bangladesh and Cambodia both ratified the statute despite having notorious history of genocide. It is very aspiring that 30 African countries have ratified and also playing important role to promote and uphold ICC. However, implementation of Rome Statute into national legislation of these countries are needed for gaining efficacy of the system.

Genocide in Darfur has killed 400,000 and displaced 2,500,000 so far. This is caused by the superiority of nomadic Arab over African tribes. Genocide in Cambodia, killing 1.7 million people out of a population of 8 million (21% of the country’s population) happened between 1975 to 1979[ii], perhaps, the most talked about crime and well-recognized by the international community, and because of this, the country is known as killing field of skulls and bones.

Regarding genocide in Bosnia, European Parliament passed a resolution that finds more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys” executed and “nearly 25,000 women, children and elderly people were forcibly deported, making this event the biggest war crime to take place in Europe since the end of the Second World War.[iii]According to ICRC data, 200,000 people were killed, 12,000 of them children, up to 50,000 women were raped, and 2.2 million were forced to flee their homes. This was a veritable genocide and sociocide.

Between April and June 1994, an estimated 800,000 Rwandans, 20% of the country’s total population, were killed in the space of 100 days.[iv] Majority were Tutsi and some moderate Hutu. Hutu were desperate to prove their superiority over Tutsi during this massacre.

On March 25, 1971 the genocide was launched In Bangladesh. 7,000 people in a single night. Within a week, half the population of Dacca had fled, and at least 30,000 people had been killed.[v] The international media and reference books in English have also published figures which vary greatly from 200,000 to 3,000,000 for Bangladesh as a whole.[vi] The superiority of the muslims of West Pakistan and their fanatic allies was underpinning over innocent muslims of then East Pakistan.

Lets see what happened to the remarkable perpetrators of these genocides. Pol Pot died in his sleep, at 73. Passing away in sleep could be a peaceful event than experiencing harsh punishment.

“The ICC has issued two arrest warrants against al-Bashir, the first for crimes against humanity and war crimes, and most recently on July 12 for genocide. The crimes he is charged with were allegedly committed in Darfur, Sudan in 2003 and 2004.”[vii]

Sixteen years after the Rwandan genocide, thousands of perpetrators who confessed their roles before the traditional Gacaca Courts have been released and sentenced to community service, but survivors say this is an inadequate punishment.[viii] The first and only execution of genocide convicts was carried out in 1998 at a football field in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. In spite of pressure from Western governments, 22 convicts were executed by firing squad. About 600 convicts are on death row in Rwanda’s crowded prisons.[ix]

Slobodan Milosevic died during his trial on July 21, 2008. Karadzic was arrested in Belgrade on 21 July 2008, and was transferred into the ICTY custody in the Hague nine days later on 30 July. To date Mladic has evaded arrest and remains at large.[x] Relatives of those, who were killed, called Milosevic’s death as God’s punishment.

And finally, the perpetrators of genocide in Bangladesh have been living happily ever after despite negligible trouble. There are lots of debate and controversies regarding defining ‘genocide’, however, in this piece of article I do not dig into further detail on the debate. Genocide is not something that happened in the past but is an ongoing phenomenon, which could escalate massacre any time elsewhere in this world because the fight over resources is increasing so as over power and superiority. Ethnic cleansing of minority Uzbeks by the majority Kyrgyz is a contemporary violence that killed and displaced thousands.Barbarism still exists under the guise of cast, color, religion, ethnicity, and so on. Humanity needs to get itself out of this guise to become truly human.

End notes:



[iii] European Parliament resolution of 15 January 2009 on Srebrenica, P6_TA(2009)0028 European Parliament – January 15, 2009.

[iv] BBC


[vi] White, Matthew, Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century