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Modern-day genocide. The past repeats itself. History of the word “Genocide”. In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide. He took the Greek word “geno” (race or tribe) and combined it with the Latin word “cide”, which means killing.

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Modern-day genocide

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modern day genocide

Modern-day genocide

The past repeats itself

history of the word genocide
History of the word “Genocide”
  • In 1944, a Polish-Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide.
  • He took the Greek word “geno” (race or tribe) and combined it with the Latin word “cide”, which means killing.
  • On December 9th, 1948, the United Nations approved the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
  • The UN made it an international crime to commit genocide, with all of its member nations agreeing to “undertake to prevent and punish” the crime.
definition of the word genocide
Definition of the word “Genocide”

Genocide is defined as any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethical, racial or religious group, as such:

  • Killing members of the group
  • Causing seriousbodily or mental harm to members of the group
  • Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
  • Imposing measures intending to prevent births in the group
  • Forcibly transferring children from the group to another group
genocide in cambodia 1975 1979
Genocide in Cambodia 1975-1979
  • In 1975, Pol Pot, a radical communist leader, seized control of Cambodia and declared that this was “year zero.” He wanted to establish a society set in the past where farming the land was what everybody did to benefit the state.
  • The use of foreign languages was banned. Newspapers and television stations were shut down, radios and bicycles confiscated, and mail and telephone usage curtailed. Money was forbidden. All businesses were shuttered, religion banned, education halted, health care eliminated, and parental authority revoked.
  • He forced all people to evacuate the cities and work in the fields. As many as 20,000 people died in these evacuations.
  • The people were forced to work in these “killing fields” where they existed on one tin of rice per person every two days. Their workday began at 4 am and ended at 10 pm, with only two small breaks. Many people died of malnutrition and overworking, as well as being shot by Pol Pot’s soldiers.
genocide in cambodia 1975 19796
Genocide in Cambodia 1975-1979
  • Deadly purges were conducted to get rid of people from the ‘old’ society, such as doctors, lawyers, teachers, police, the wealthy, monks, and former government officials.
  • Anyone suspected of disloyalty to Pol Pot was either shot or chopped to death with an ax.
  • “What is rotten must be removed,” was the slogan of Pol Pot.
  • Unsupervised gatherings of more than two people were forbidden; young people were taken from their parents and forced to marry those they had never met.
  • 212,000 Chinese were murdered, and Muslims were forced to eat pork or be shot.
  • In 1979, Vietnam invaded and took Pol Pot out of power, but not before the death toll in Cambodia reached over 2,000,000 people.
genocide in bosnia 1992 1995
Genocide in Bosnia 1992-1995
  • In April 1992, Bosnia declared themselves to be an independent country from Yugoslavia.
  • The president of Yugoslavia, Slobodan Milosevic, who was Serbian, attacked Bosnia, which was made up of mostly Muslims, who the Serbs viewed as ethnically inferior.
  • In the capital of Sarajevo, Serbian snipers targeted innocent civilians, including children (3, 500).
  • While the UN instructed its troops to do nothing, the Serbs rounded up Muslims, put the men and boys into makeshift concentration camps, and raped the women and girls.
  • President Bill Clinton eventually brokered a peace agreement in 1995, but the Serbs broke it when they captured UN troops and forced them to watch as they selected and slaughtered 8,000 men and boys between the ages of twelve and sixty and raped mass numbers of females.
  • In August of 1995, NATO stepped in and ended the conflict by bombing the Serbs, but not until the death toll in Bosnia reached 200,000 Muslims killed, 20,000 missing, and more than 2,000,000 displaced.

Srebrenica Massacre in Bosnia (

genocide in rwanda april july 1994
Genocide in Rwanda April-July 1994
  • The two main ethnic groups in Rwanda are the Hutu and the Tutsi. The Tutsi ruled until 1962, even though they only comprised ten percent of the population.
  • The Hutu and the Tutsi agreed to share power in 1990 after a conflict. However, the Hutu despised sharing power with the Tutsis and when the President of the country tried to conduct peace talks with the Tutsis, they shot his plane down.
  • This began a systematic killing campaign where they killed all Tutsi leaders and set the Hutu population on a mission to rape and kill all Tutsi people, regardless of age, usually with machetes.
  • The UN had troops in Rwanda but forbid them to do anything to help the Tutsis. Their only function was to get all of the foreign diplomats out the country.
  • On April 21st, the UN voted to abandon Rwanda and pulled out all but 200 troops. Hundreds of thousands of people had already been killed.
  • Once the UN pulled out, the killings increased in number and speed. The radio system in Rwanda was used to broadcast propaganda and point out where people were hiding.
genocide in rwanda april july 199413
Genocide in Rwanda April-July 1994
  • Many Tutsis ran to churches and missions to hide, thinking that they would be protected there. These became the sites of some of the worst massacres because they were trapped.
  • In many local villages, Hutus were forced to kill their Tutsi neighbors or risk death for themselves and their families. They also forced Tutsis to kill their own families.
  • By mid-May, over 500,000 Tutsis had been murdered. The UN, under media pressure, agreed to send up to 5,000 troops to Rwanda, but never sent them in time to stop the massacre.
  • The butchering did not stop until July of 1994 when 200,000 Tutsis from neighboring countries invaded and attacked Hutu forces, stopping the genocide.
  • The total death toll ended at 800,000 people.
genocide in darfur 2003 present
Genocide in Darfur 2003-present
  • Since 2003, the government of Sudan has sent their soldiers and their allies, the Janjaweed to fight rebels in the western region of Darfur.
  • The government has sent the Janjaweed to attack civilians in this region who are the same ethnic group as the rebels (they have darker skin than the main ethnic groups in the Sudan).
  • Janjaweed means ‘a man with a gun on a horse.’ They are vicious soldiers allied with the government, who hires horse-owning Arab men and pays them $116 a month to join the Janjaweed.
  • The government denies any association with the Janjaweed, even though government-owned military helicopters survey and attack villages right before the Janjaweed appear.
  • The Janjaweed have raped thousands of women in the hopes of making them pregnant with lighter-skinned babies. They have killed thousands of men and boys. Those who don’t die in the raids leave their homes and try to escape to neighboring Chad or stay trapped in make-shift towns in Darfur.
  • The Janjaweed’s main mission is to drive these Black African Muslims from their land, never to return. They dump human and animal bodies in water to contaminate it and burn villages to the ground.
genocide in darfur 2003 present17
Genocide in Darfur 2003-present
  • About 2,500,000 people have been driven from their homes and are living in refugee camps in Darfur or in neighboring Chad.
  • The death toll now exceeds 300,000, with numbers rising every day.

Words without deeds violates the moral and legal obligation we have under the genocide convention but, more importantly, violates our sense of right and wrong and the standards we have as human beings about looking to care for one another. -Jon Corzine