Genocide is an evolutionary process consisting of ten stages that are predictable, but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it. The subsequent stages must be preceded by the earlier stages, though earlier stages continue to operate throughout the process.
The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were "racially superior" and that the Jews, deemed "inferior," were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community. Between 1941 and 1944, Nazi German authorities deported millions of Jews to ghettos and to killing centers, where they were murdered in specially developed gassing facilities. By the end of the Holocaust, some 6,000,000 Jews had perished.
The Khmer Rouge took control of the Cambodian government in 1975. The regime generally singled out doctors, teachers, monks, journalists, the rich, artists, anyone with an education, and ethnic or religious minorities. They emptied the cities and evacuated millions of people to labor camps where they were starved and abused. They also executed people who could no longer work or make the journey to the camps, those perceived to be in opposition to the party. It is estimated that between 1.7 and 2 million Cambodians died during the 4 year reign of the Khmer Rouge.
Civil war broke out in Rwanda in 1990, exacerbating existing tensions between the Tutsi minority and Hutu majority. Many Hutus resented the Tutsi, as they were typically considered the elite and had ruled the country for decades. As a result, they also feared the Tutsi and were determined to hold on to their own power. When President Habyarimana’s (a Hutu) plane crashed, Hutu extremists assumed it was the Tutsis who shot it down. Immediately, Hutus set out to destroy the entire Tutsi population and seek revenge on the power that had always been deemed the elite. More than 800,000 civilians—primarily Tutsi, but also moderate Hutu—were killed during the campaign. As many as 2,000,000 additional Rwandans fled the country during the genocide.
‘Ten Stages of Genocide”, is a document developed by Dr. Gregory H. Stanton presented at the Yale University Center for International and Area Studies in 1998, and revised in 2013. It is a formula for how a society can engage in genocide. The genocidal process starts with prejudice that continues to grow.
The ten stages of genocide are: classification, symbolization, discrimination, dehumanization, organization, polarization, preparation, persecution, extermination, and denial.
President Trump's immigration policies follow economic nationalism. Trump's "Put America First" program seeks to protect American workers and industries. Official estimates of the number of illegal immigrants to be removed from the United States range from 11 and 12 million. A "zero tolerance" policy has been implemented to detain illegal immigrants arrested at the border, which required separating children from their families. Donald Trump has claimed that immigrants crossing the border illegally will “infest” America without strong laws.
Stage 4 of genocide, Dehumanization is when one group treats another group as second-class citizens. Members of a persecuted group may be compared with animals, parasites, insects or diseases.
The eight year war (1980-1988) between Iraq, (then ruled by the Sunni Saddam Hussein), and Iran (of the Shi'ite Ayatollahs), resulted in well over a million deaths on both sides, all of whom were Muslims killed by other Muslims.
With fighting raging in Syria, spill-over effects of the Shia-Sunni conflict are becoming more apparent in Lebanon. Violence increasing in Iraq, tensions simmering in Bahrain and clerical politicians launching calls for war are some of today’s offshoots of the inner-Islamic conflict that has now been raging for more than 1,300 years.
In their prayers, the Shi'ites curse the first three Sunni caliphs, and they add passages that praise and exalt the Shia, Ali. Therefore there are many among the Sunnis, especially the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, who consider Shi'a as a kind of fundamental heresy.
In stage 6, Polarisation, Extremists drive the groups apart. Hate groups broadcast propaganda that reinforces prejudice and hate. Laws may forbid intermarriage or social interaction between the groups. Extremist terrorism targets moderates, and intimidates them so that they are silent.
Our assessment is that the world today is on the brink of a situation where history may repeat itself. We believe that an individual or small group cannot commit genocide; rather, it takes the cooperation of a large number of people and the state. We feel that by knowing the stages of genocide, citizens are better equipped to identify the warning signs and stop the process from continuing.