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A report on Genocides today

Genocides are not a thing of the past. Though they are happening far away from here and
we may not always know about them, they are still happening. This report will seek to provide
for those being oppressed by taking a look into the stories of multiple genocides that are
happening today, or that have happened within the last few years. It will also address what some
potential reasons are for why the United States has not gotten heavily involved.
Genocide has played an unfortunately large part in the history of the world. During World
War II, Germany began to target the Jewish minority for ethnic cleansing. Around six million
Jews were killed in this cleansing. Around this time, scholars began to use the term genocide to
denote this killing of an ethnic group. Derived from the Greek word genos meaning tribe and
Latin cidium or cida meaning to kill, genocide was used mainly as an abstract term to better
describe the horrors that were occurring Germany (Funk & Wagnalls). In the aftermath of the
war, the United Nations met to establish a more solid definition of genocide. This meeting came
to be known as the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In
this convention they defined genocide as:
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 (United Nations
Article 2).
The Holocaust was a horrifying event in human history, but it was not the only
genocide to have occurred. Genocides are happening across the globe today, easily
distinguished by the definition set in 1948. According to Genocide Watch, there are
currently seven countries which are in a state of genocide, with an eighth one on the brink
of genocide. These countries include the Central African Republic, Iraq, Myanmar,
Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria, with Burundi on a genocide watchlist.

One of the most recognizable countries on that list is Iraq, a country that the
United States has had shaky involvements with before. Currently, Iraq is in unrest as the
Islamic State, or ISIS, is attempting to clean out multiple religions, including the Yazidis.
This struggle has been occurring for some time between these two groups but with the
increase in their power ISIS has been able to more effectively target the Yazidis, leading
to a state of emergency for Iraq (PRI).

Another country greatly impacted by ISIS is Syria. This country is experiencing


genocide from four different major groups: the al-Assad regime and its allied militias; the
Free Syrian Army; Jabhat al-Nusra; and ISIS. The violence in Syria is some of the most
devastating, with 240,000 Syrians already killed and half of its total population displaced.
Barrel bombs filled with shrapnel or chemicals have been laying waste to these people,
from all of these groups. This has created deplorable conditions for the Syrians seeking
refuge, and there does not appear to be an end in sight.
However, ISIS is not the only group involved in genocides. In Sudan, the
Sudanese government had been engaged against a liberation movement which lasted
more than 20 years, and resulted in the deaths of around 300,000 Sudanese people
(Coleman 10). More recently, fighting broke out in the region of Darfur. While the
intense action here has faded over the years, it has not disappeared altogether. 2.7 million
people have been displaced by the conflicts, and that number rises to 4 million when
looking at all who depend on foreign aid (United Human Rights).

This
chart

displays the approximate number of deaths from four of the most widely-known
genocides. All of these genocides experienced the targeted killings of hundreds of
thousands of people. To put these four instances into perspective, the population of
Sweden is 10 million. The four genocides above killed a combined total that would wipe
out that entire country.
These events are atrocities in the timeline of humanity. This begs the question of
why the United States does not send in large-scale relief efforts? Even though it seems
like there shouldnt even be a moral dilemma, there are still things that need to be
considered. For instance, the backers of groups committing genocide play a key role in
dictating U.S. actions. In Syria, the al-Assad regime has the support of Russia. The
motives of Russia for doing this are an entirely different debate, but the fact that a
country the U.S. currently has strained relations with is supporting this regime makes our
actions a little bit harder to take. If we were to send in a large military response team,
would that provoke a dangerous response from Russia? These kinds of political threats
play a part in why the U.S. does not fully commit to aiding in genocide.
Another reason could be the cost of doing so for these countries. In 2015, the
United States spent $35 billion dollars providing assistance to other countries. This figure
accounts for essential supplies. Should we militarize and move in, that number would rise
dramatically, and the coffers of our country might not be able to handle that. There isnt
sense in rescuing others if we put ourselves deep into debt for it.
The situation regarding genocides is very messy. It is a horrific event involving
the murder of entire groups of people, and yet it is not easy to make a choice on how to
get involved. If anything is to be gained from this report, it is to have an awareness that

genocides are still occurring. First and foremost, be aware of the genocides that are
happening today. A second lesson would be to realize that world scenarios dont just boil
down to moral rights and wrongs. There are huge political and economic implications
that weigh on every decision the U.S. must make. If we want to end these devastating
conflicts, the wisest move would be to first learn about them.