What genocides can tell us about human violence

Started by Volunto, Feb 07, 2023, 06:34 PM

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The full article with all sources can be found on the main page: https://antiviolence.io/en/#what_genocides_tell_about

Remembering the genocide of the Tutsi ethnic group in Rwanda, it may seem to us that almost the entire Hutu people, incited by supporters of the idea of extermination of the Tutsis, simply turned into murderers. We can also remember how terrible the Pol Pot regime was when up to a quarter of the population of Cambodia died. However, in assessing such phenomena as war or genocide, one should definitely not rely on subjective feelings, where it would be better to carry out detailed calculations.

It is known that the Khmer Rouge in 1975-1979 under the Pol Pot regime exterminated from 1.5 to 2 million Cambodians. The forces of the Khmer Rouge by 1975 can be estimated from 55 to 70 thousand people. Regular Khmer Rouge forces (excluding regional units) for 1976 are estimated at 72,248 people. The population of Cambodia at the beginning of the genocide was about 7.8 million people. Based on these numbers, it is obvious that less than 1% of the population was responsible for the death of 20-25% of the population of Cambodia at that time.

Based on the most widely accepted studies, between 500,000 and 662,000 Tutsis died as a result of the genocide in Rwanda, some estimates reach up to 800,000 dead. So how many Hutus took part in the genocide? One study puts the number of murderers at 50,000. It also states that the genocide was not a spontaneous eruption of tribal hatreds, it was a controlled attack by a small core. Another study estimates the number of participants in the genocide (those who committed murder attempts, murder, rape, torture, and other forms of serious violence) from 175 thousand to 210 thousand people. The maximum estimates of violent criminals in the genocide reach 234 thousand people. At the time of the genocide, the population of Rwanda was over 7 million people (of which more than 90% were Hutus).

What does this mean? The vast majority of the Hutu people, and even the majority of their adult male population, did not take any part in the genocide. And direct murderers made up less than 1% of the population.

It should not be surprising that such a small percentage of people could arrange genocide. Because it is unlikely that people who are called to murder, who do not feel much aversion and resistance to such exhortation, and whose potential victims do not have a serious opportunity to defend themselves will stop after only one or two killings. Rather, it is reasonable to expect that they will kill everyone who gets in their way while it is possible. Small groups of such killers, especially being armed, could slaughter thousands of civilians at once.

The study estimating the number of murderers in the Rwandan genocide at 50,000 people states that it is not impossible that even 25,000 people could kill hundreds of thousands, if not a million people in 100 days. Think about it – in order for such a scenario to become a reality, one murderer needs to commit only one murder every two and a half days. There is also evidence that in one of the Rwandan military camps there were 2,000 well-trained soldiers, and of these, just 40 people could kill up to 1,000 Tutsis in 20 minutes.

In support of our conclusions, it is also worth noting cases when one person personally killed thousands of people at once. For example, the Croatian war criminal Petar Brzica killed up to 1360 Serbs in one night. And the NKVD officer Vasily Mikhailovich Blokhin shot up to 20 thousand people in his entire service. Such cases only confirm the fact that the killers, in the presence of an unlimited opportunity to kill, will personally commit dozens, hundreds, and possibly thousands of murders. Accordingly, it is always should be expected that the number of murderers relative to the number of those killed will be rather small.