Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as the destruction of a
nation or of an ethnic group. The origin of the term is usually traced
to the Polish-Jewish scholar Raphael Lemkin who dedicated most of his
life to have genocide declared as a crime. Lemkin coined the term
genocide from the Greek root 'genos' (family tribe or race) and the
Latin root 'cide' (occido: to kill, massacre).
The United Nations' definition of genocide includes:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily 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;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
what constitutes a genocide is not easy. For instance, most people
today agree that the Holocaust waged against Jews by the Nazis was a
clear example of genocide. However, when the United States called the
slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenian civilians by the Turkish
military in World War I a genocide, Turkey protested strongly and
relations between the two countries were strained. Similarly, the
destruction of the native populations of the Americas and Australia by
western settlers are usually not referred to as genocide.
examples of genocides in recent times were the Serbian massacre of
250,000 Bosnian Serbs in 1992, and the slaughter of almost a million
Tutsis by Hutu militia in Rwanda in 1994.
Genocide arises from
intolerance, and often develops through several stages. These stages
include the classification of "us" and "them," thinking of "them" as
less than human, hate speech and propaganda, physical violence, and,
finally, denial (the killers do not admit they did anything wrong).