Prepared by The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights (UICHR)*

In 1948, the United Nations defined the Crime of Genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such”, including the deliberate infliction of “conditions of life calculated to bring about (the group’s) physical destruction in whole or in part”, the imposition of “measures intended to prevent births within the group”, and “forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”. The UN ratified this definition three years later, prohibiting such acts evermore. (The United Nations, 2003)

6200 — Estimated number of Sudanese deliberately starved to death during July 1998 by Sudan’s Muslim government as part of a policy of “Islamization” characterized by obstructing food and other relief to non-Muslims, forced conversions, the imposition of Sharia law on, and the removal of children from, non-Muslim parents (U.S. Committee for Refugees, 1998; Crimes of War Project, 2003)

100,000 — Estimated number of Iraqi Kurds murdered in 1980-88 when Saddam Hussein’s Anfal campaign systematically destroyed several thousand Kurdish villages and when, in at least 40 cases, Iraqi forces used chemical weapons to chase Kurds from their villages (Human Rights Watch, 2002)

150,000 — Estimated number of East Timor natives (22% of total population) killed or starved to death during Indonesia’s 1975-99 occupation of East Timor, characterized also by forced birth control when 500 women were made to take Depo-Provera (Yale Genocide Studies Program, 2000; itv, 2003)

170,000 — Estimated number of non-Serb civilians murdered or expelled from their homes in Croatia during 1991-92, for which former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is on trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, as he is for “genocide or complicity in genocide” in Bosnia during 1992-95 (the July 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, where thousands of Bosnian Muslim men and boys were executed), and for “crimes against humanity”, including the forced deportation of approximately 740,000 Kosovo Albanian civilians during January-June 1999 (Indictment of the Prosecutor of the Tribunal against Slobodan Milosevic, 2001)

800,000 — Approximate number of Tutsis and sympathetic Hutus slaughtered by Hutu Rwandans in Rwanda in 100 days during April-July 1994, thus possibly “the most intensive genocide in human history” (Human Rights Watch, 1999; PBS’s Frontline, 1999; The Guardian, UK, 2001)

1,700,000 — Estimated number of Cambodian deaths (21% of the total population) during 1975-79, resulting from the extremist Khmer Rouge ideology of Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, thus “one of the worst human tragedies of the 20th century” (Yale University Cambodian Genocide Program, 2003)


*First published in The Iowa Review (Volume 33, Number 3) Winter 2003-04. Copyright © 2003 by The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. For further information on human rights generally, please visit the UICHR web site.