Raphael Lemkin: Coining the term Genocide

A twenty-one-year-old young Polish Jew student from the University of Lvov happened to read a local news article regarding an… READ MORE

Lemkin questioned his professor as to why Armenians could not have Talaat arrested for his actions, and his professor posited… READ MORE

This question lead to a lifelong mission for Lemkin to develop a law that would prevent the destruction of nations, races and religious groups. He concluded that potential punishment would change this practice. As he,… READ MORE

The United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (CPPCG) provided the international legal definition of Genocide through the General Assembly Resolution (260) which was adopted on December 9… READ MORE

Thom Tsvann from the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies contends that genocides are decided upon by the political elite, no society is immune to genocide.


By closely examining patterns of genocides, Gregory Stanton has identified ten stages in this process of human rights violations. He originally presented his briefing paper as the “Eight Stages of Genocide” to the US State Department in 1996 and since then added two more stages to his model.



Classification: Distinguishing people into “us and them” based on race, religion, ethnicity or nationality.

– German vs Jew
– Aryans vs non-Aryans
– Hutu vs Tutsi
– Armenian (Christian) vs Ottoman/Turk (Muslim)

Symbolization: Give/add titles or other symbols to the classifications.
– names
– colors or dress
– symbols

– Jews
– Gypsies
– Non-believers
– Yellow Star
– Blue Scarf
– Swastikas

Discrimination: The dominant group uses law, custom, and political power to deny the rights of the other group(s).

– Nuremberg Laws of 1935
– Denial of citizenship

Dehumanization: One group denies humanity to the other group. Members are equated with animals, vermin, insects or diseases. Hate propaganda in print and broadcast is used to vilify the victim group.

– Vermin
– Cockroaches
– Rats

Organization: Genocide is always organized, usually by the state. They may use militias or sometimes informal or decentralized groups.

– Janjaweed in Darfur
– Terrorist groups
– Hindu Mobs lead by local RSS militants

Polarization: Extremists drive the groups apart. Laws that forbid intermarriage or social interaction. Hate groups use propaganda to polarize groups. Target the moderates through intimidation and silencing.

– Laws
– Use of media

Preparation: National or perpetrator group leaders plan the “Final Solution” to the Armenian, Jewish, Tutsi or other targeted group “question.” Weapons are distributed.

– Use euphemisms to cloak their intentions: ethnic cleansing,
purification, counter-terrorism.
– Build armies, buy weapons and train their troops and militias.

– Genocidal massacres begin.

Persecution: Victims are identified and separated out because of their ethnic or religious identity. Death lists are drawn up. Victims may be forced to wear identifying symbols. Their property may be expropriated. They may be segregated into ghettoes, deported into concentration camps, or confined to a famine.

– Genocidal massacres continue.

Extermination: begins, and quickly becomes the mass killing legally called “genocide.” It is “extermination” to the killers because they do not believe their victims to be fully human.

– Genocidal massacres continue.

Denial: The final stage throughout and always follows a genocide.

– The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn
the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the
witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and
often blame what happened on the victims.

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