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A perspective on Abuse Violence

Updated on March 25, 2013

A Perspective on Abuse Violence

In the history of world nations, there has been reported many incidences of tribal clashes, religious clashes, racial mistreatment and political animosities that have led people to commit terrible atrocities against each other. In many such cases, innocent blood is shed, victims displaced from places they for a long time called home and sinless lives taken in the process. Ethnic cleansing and genocide are terms that when mentioned in some nations of the world, fear tightly grips the hearts of those who have ever been victims of them and remember the things they saw or heard during those processes. This research paper endeavors to define ethnic cleansing and contrast it with genocide. It also evaluates the differences between the two terms besides looking into their consequences for the populations affected.

Definition of Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide

Michael Mann (2005) in his book entitled The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing defines ethnic cleansing as the elimination of large masses of people belonging to a particular ethnic inclination, religious standing, or race from a region by another ethnic group, people of a different religious standing or race in that area. He explains that in the process of such removal, killings can also occur incase of any resistance by the group that is being removed from the area. Rumors of war and even eruption of war, Mann says, have been reported previously in regions and countries where ethnic cleansing has been attempted or successfully executed. According to him, this process can take many forms including forced migration, deportation and/or genocide. Referring to the United Nations’ definition, Mann says that ethnic cleansing is known as the bringing of ethnic or religious homogeneity in an area/region by use of force or other means such as intimidation of people who are supposed to be removed from that area.

Genocide on the other hand is the process of deliberately and systematically bringing to extermination of racial, national or religious group in a particular area/region by a group of different national, racial, political or religious standing. Shaw (2007) explains that it is the actual murder of persons coming up as a result of longstanding differences, competition to rise to power and control and tensions between ethnic groups, political groups, racial groups, or religious groups. When these tensions and hatred reach uncontrollable levels it bursts leading to people murdering each other in a bid to reign in a region or nation. Shaw gives the infamously known example of the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which an approximate of 800,000 people was killed within hundred days. As it is famously known, the Hutus killed the Tutsis because of false claims by the national government- that was majorly composed of the Hutus-that the Tutsis had plans to enslave the Hutus.

Differences between Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide

To begin with, it is clear from the definition of ethnic cleansing and genocide that the major difference between the two is the fact that genocide’s driving aim is mass extermination of lives whereas in ethnic cleansing, though there may be killings, its major aim is complete elimination of the groups from a given area. Secondly, May (2010) notes that whilst genocides that have occurred previously have taken a national image, rarely has ethnic cleansing’s impact escalated to national levels. Thirdly, genocides unlike ethnic cleansing lead to the death of many persons, actually millions of people died from the twentieth century genocides.

The distinction between genocide and ethnic cleansing is not confusing as it is clear even from the definition of the two terms and the section on differences between the two terms above. Research has also shown that whereas genocide is the deliberate mass extermination of people opposed to certain political ideologies, religious beliefs, or cultural beliefs in a particular region or nation, ethnic cleansing is the mass expulsion of an ethnic, religious or racial group from an area by another one occupying that area.

Consequences of Ethnic Cleansing for the Population

May (2010), explains a number of the effects of ethnic cleansing and genocide some of which include economic setback, human demoralization, destabilization of educational structures that had been put in place, and destabilization of religious systems. Whenever there is a genocide, masses of persons are killed implying that availability of labor has been cut by a certain percentage. This is a great economical setback because in genocide, many people who were very productive and useful to the economy are killed. Equally, when people are eliminated from an area because of ethnic cleansing their systems are disrupted in terms of their religion and education hence they are forced to begin life afresh in the new regions they have been moved to. Besides that, the population can be greatly demoralized if it emerges for instance that a government they supported is the one committing such atrocities against them; like it happened in Rwanda.


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