Ethnic cleansing: it sounds horrible doesn’t it? But what exactly is it? Well, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is defined as:
the expulsion, imprisonment, or killing of an ethnic minority by a dominant majority in order to achieve ethnic homogeneity
All that really means is the killing of a race or several races to create a society in which everyone is the same. Something that only happens in the past, right? Certainly not something that occurs in our world today.
Unfortunately that is simply not true.
In December 2017, the US Secretary of State acknowledged the crisis in Myanmar as being one of ethnic cleansing, and I suppose it is since the Rohingya are being forced to flee the country solely because they are not the same as the rest of the people there. In fact, they’re not even acknowledged of citizens despite the fact they have lived there for many generations.
I- as I’m sure many of you are- am horrified by this. But what’s even worse is that it’s nothing new. There have been many other examples of ethnic cleansing throughout the ages, some of which I will list here:
- In 1290 AD, Edward I of England expelled all Jews living in England. Hundreds of Jewish elders were executed.
- From 1894–1896, in an effort to islamize the Ottoman Empire, Sultan Abdul Hamid II ordered the killing of ethnic Armenians (along with other Christian minorities) based on their religion. These killings later became known as the Hamidian massacres and it has been estimated that the total number of people killed ranges from 80,000 to 300,000.
- In the 1940s, the Nazi German government's persecutions and expulsions of Jews in Germany, Austria and other Nazi-controlled areas prior to the initiation of mass genocide. The estimated number of those who died in the process is approximately 6 million Jews.
- More than 800,000 Kosovo Albanians fled their homes in Kosovo between 1998 and 1999 during the Kosovo War.
When I researched this, I found so many incidences of ethnic cleansing that I found it difficult to know which ones to include. It shocks me that things like this are still happening in the world today.
The question is: why does this keep happening? Why are people being allowed to act like this?
What do you think? Is there anything we can do to stop this from happening?