Ethnic cleansing is a euphemism referring to the persecution through imprisonment, expulsion, or killing of members of an ethnic minority by a majority to achieve ethnic homogeneity in majority-controlled territory. It is sometimes used interchangeably with the more connotatively severe term genocide. The term entered English and international media in the early 1990s to describe war events in the former Yugoslavia.

Synonyms include sectarian revenge and ethnic purification and (in the French versions of some UN documents) nettoyage ethnique and épuration ethnique.


The term ethnic cleansing has been variously defined. In the words of Andrew Bell-Fialkoff:

[E]thnic cleansing [...] defies easy definition. At one end it is virtually indistinguishable from forced emigration and population exchange while at the other it merges with deportation and genocide. At the most general level, however, ethnic cleansing can be understood as the expulsion of a population from a given territory.

Drazen Petrovic has distinguished between broad and narrow definitions. Broader definitions focus on the fact of expulsion based on ethnic criteria, while narrower definitions include additional criteria: for example, that expulsions are systematic, illegal, involve gross human-rights abuses, or are connected with an ongoing internal or international war. According to Petrovic:

[E]thnic cleansing is a well-defined policy of a particular group of persons to systematically eliminate another group from a given territory, often based on economic principles, or nationalist claims to the land. Such a policy often involves violence and is very often connected with military operations. Unlike the U.S. Indian Removal program, which purchased the land from the natives, Ethnic Cleansing is to be achieved by all possible means, from discrimination to extermination, and entails violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

The official United Nations definition of ethnic cleansing is "rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group

However, ethnic cleansing rarely aims at complete ethnic homogeneity. The common practice is the removal of stigmatized ethnic groups, and thus can be defined as "the forcible removal of an ethnically defined population from a given territory", occupying the middle part of a somewhat fuzzy continuum between nonviolent pressured ethnic emigration and genocide.

In reviewing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Bosnian Genocide Case in the judgement of Jorgic v. Germany on 12 July 2007 the European Court of Human Rights selectively quoted from the ICJ ruling on the Bosnian Genocide Case to explain that ethnic cleansing was not enough on its own to establish that a genocide had occurred:

Origins of the term

The term "ethnic cleansing" entered the English lexicon as a loan translation of the Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian/Montenegrin phrase etničko čišćenje (). During the 1990s it was used extensively by the media in the former Yugoslavia in relation to the Yugoslav wars, and appears to have been popularised by the international media some time around 1992. The term may have originated some time before the 1990s in the military doctrine of the former Yugoslav People's Army, which spoke of "cleansing the field" (čišćenje terena, ) of enemies to take total control of a conquered area. The origins of this doctrine are unclear, but may have been a legacy of the Partizan era.

This originally applied purely to military enemies, but came to be applied to ethnic groups as well. It was used in this context in Yugoslavia as early as 1982, in relation to the policies of the Kosovo Albanian administration creating an "ethnically clean" territory (i.e. "cleanly" Albanian) in the province. However, this usage had antecedents.

Carnegie Endowment report for the Balkan Wars in 1914 points out that village-burning and ethnic cleansing have traditionally accompanied Balkan wars, regardless of ethnicities involved. In probably the earliest attestation of the term, Vuk Karadžić makes use of the word cleanse to describe what happened to the Turks in the Belgrade when the city was captured by the Karadjordje's forces in 1806. Konstantin Nenadović wrote in his biography of famous Serbian leader published in 1883 that after the fighting "the Serbs, in their bitterness, slit the throats of the Turks everywhere they found them, sparing neither the wounded, nor the woman, nor the Turkish children".

Later attestation of the term cleansing can be found on May 16, 1941, during the Second World War, by one Viktor Gutić, a commander in the Croatian fascist faction, the Ustaše: Every Croat who today solicits for our enemies not only is not a good Croat, but also an opponent and disrupter of the prearranged, well-calculated plan for cleansing [čišćenje] our Croatia of unwanted elements [...]. The Ustaše did carry out large-scale ethnic cleansing and genocide of Serbs in Croatia during the Second World War and sometimes used the term "cleansing" to describe it..

Some time later, on 30 June, 1941, Stevan Moljević, a lawyer from Banja Luka who was an ideologue of the Chetniks, published a booklet with the title On Our State and Its Borders. Moljević assessed the circumstances in the following manner: One must take the opportunity of the war conditions and at a suitable moment take hold of the territory marked on the map, cleanse [očistiti] it before anybody notices and with strong battalions occupy the key places (...) and the territory surrounding these cities, freed of non-Serb elements. The guilty must be promptly punished and the others deported - the Croats to Croatia, the Muslims to Turkey or perhaps Albania - while the vacated territory is settled with Serb refugees now located in Serbia.

The term "cleansing", more specifically the Russian term "cleansing of borders", ochistka granits (очистка границ), was used in Soviet documents of early 1930s in reference to the resettlement of Poles from the 22-km border zone in Byelorussian SSR and Ukrainian SSR. The process was repeated on a larger and wider scale in 1939–1941, involving many other ethnicities with cross-border ties to foreign nation-states, see Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union and Population transfer in the Soviet Union.

A similar term with the same intent was used by the Nazi administration in Germany under Adolf Hitler. When an area under Nazi control had its entire Jewish population removed, whether by driving the population out, by deportation to Concentration Camps, and/or murder, the area was declared judenrein, (lit. "Jew Clean"): "cleansed of Jews".(cf. racial hygiene).

Ethnic cleansing as a military and political tactic

The purpose of ethnic cleansing is to remove the conditions for potential and actual opposition, whether political, terrorist, guerrilla or military, by physically removing any potentially or actually hostile ethnic communities. Although it has sometimes been motivated by a doctrine that claim an ethnic group is literally "unclean" (as in the case of the Jews of medieval Europe), more usually it has been a rational (if brutal) way of ensuring that total control can be asserted over an area.

Ethnic cleansing was a common phenomenon in the Bosnian war. This typically entailed intimidation, forced expulsion and/or killing of the undesired ethnic group as well as the destruction or removal of the physical vestiges of the ethnic group, such as places of worship, cemeteries and cultural and historical buildings. According to numerous ICTY verdicts, Serb and Croat forces performed ethnic cleansing of their territories planned by their political leadership in order to create ethnically pure states (Republika Srpska and Herzeg-Bosnia). Furthermore, Serb forces committed genocide in Srebrenica at the end of the war.

Based on the evidence of numerous Croat forces attacks against Bosnian Muslims (Bosniaks), the ICTY Trial Chamber concluded in the Kordić and Čerkez case that by April 1993 Croat leadership from Bosnia and Herzegovina had a common design or plan conceived and executed to ethnically cleanse Bosniaks from the Lašva Valley in Central Bosnia. Dario Kordić, as the local political leader, was found to be the planner and instigator of this plan.

In 1993, during the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, armed Abkhaz separatist insurgency confronted with large population of ethnic Georgians implemented the campaign of ethnic cleansing directed against ethnic Georgians (Georgians formed the single largest ethnic group in pre-war Abkhazia, with a 45.7% plurality as of 1989) of Abkhazia. As the results, more than 250,000 ethnic Georgians were forced to flee and approximately 30,000 people were killed during separate incidents involving massacres and expulsion. (see Ethnic cleansing of Georgians in Abkhazia) The ethnic cleansing campaign against ethnic Georgians of Abkhazia was recognized by OSCE conventions in Budapest, Lisbon, Istanbul and was also mentioned in UN General Assembly Resolution GA/10708.

As a tactic, ethnic cleansing has a number of significant impact. It enables a force to eliminate civilian support for resistance by eliminating the civilians — recognizing Mao Zedong's dictum that guerrillas among a civilian population are fish in water, it disables the fish by draining the water. When enforced as part of a political settlement, as happened with the forced resettlement of ethnic Germans to Germany after 1945, it can contribute to long-term stability. Some individuals of the large German population in Czechoslovakia and prewar Poland had been sources of friction before the Second World War, but this was forcibly resolved. It thus establishes "facts on the ground" - radical demographic changes which can be very hard to reverse.

On the other hand, ethnic cleansing is such a brutal tactic and so often accompanied by large-scale bloodshed that it is widely reviled. It is generally regarded as lying somewhere between population transfers and genocide on a scale of odiousness, and is treated by international law as a war crime.

Ethnic cleansing as a crime under international law

There is no formal legal definition of ethnic cleansing. However, ethnic cleansing in the broad sense - the forcible deportation of a population - is defined as a crime against humanity under the statutes of both International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The gross human-rights violations integral to stricter definitions of ethnic cleansing are treated as separate crimes falling under the definitions for genocide or crimes against humanity of the statutes.

The UN Commission of Experts (established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780) held that the practices associated with ethnic cleansing "constitute crimes against humanity and can be assimilated to specific war crimes. Furthermore ... such acts could also fall within the meaning of the Genocide Convention." The UN General Assembly condemned "ethnic cleansing" and racial hatred in a 1992 resolution.

There are however situations, such as the Expulsion of Germans after World War II, where ethnic cleansing has taken place without legal redress. Timothy V. Waters argues that if similar circumstances arise in the future, this precedent would allow the ethnic cleansing of other populations under international law.

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Silent ethnic cleansing

Silent ethnic cleansing is a term coined in the mid-1990s by some observers of the Yugoslav wars. Apparently concerned with Western-media representations of atrocities committed in the conflict — which generally focused on those perpetrated by the Serbs — atrocities committed against Serbs were dubbed "silent", on the grounds that they were not receiving adequate coverage.

Since that time, the term has been used by other ethnically oriented groups for situations that they perceive to be similar — examples include both sides in Northern Ireland's continuing troubles, and those who object to the expulsion of ethnic Germans from former German territories during and after World War II.

Some observers, however, assert that the term should only be used to denote population changes that do not occur as the result of overt violent action, or at least not from more or less organized aggression - the absence of such stressors being the very factor that makes it "silent" (although some form of coercion must logically exist).

Instances of ethnic cleansing

This section lists incidents that have been termed "ethnic cleansing" by some academic or legal experts. Not all experts agree on every case; nor do all the claims necessarily follow definitions given in this article. Where claims of ethnic cleansing originate from non-experts (e.g., journalists or politicians) this is noted.

Early instances

Colonial period

  • Conflict between Miao groups and newly arrived Han settlers increased during the 18th century under repressive economic and cultural reforms imposed by the Qing Dynasty. This led to armed conflict and large-scale migrations continuing into the late 19th century, the period during which most Hmong people emigrated to Southeast Asia.
  • In the Great Expulsion of 1755, around 4000 to 5000 French Acadians were deported from Acadia by the British; many later settled in Louisiana, where they became known as Cajuns.
  • In 18th century, the Dzungars were annihilated by Qianlong Emperor in several campaigns. About 80% of the Dzungar population, or around 500.000 to 800.000 people, were killed during or after the Chinese conquest in 1755-1757. The Qing Dynasty filled in the depopulated area with immigrants from many parts of their empire, but a century later the Muslim Rebellion ravaged the same region.
  • Expulsion and ethnic cleansing of the St. Domingue’s 40,000 white French settlers during the Haitian Revolution from 1791 to 1804. Jean-Jacques Dessalines, first ruler of an independent Haiti, declared Haiti an all black nation, slaughtered all the remaining whites on the island and forbade Caucasians from ever again owning property or land there.
  • Expulsion of more than a million Crimean Tatars, Crimean Goths and Nogais of the Kuban and Budjak steppes to Ottoman Empire after the Crimean Khanate was annexed by Russia in 1783.
  • When the Venezuelan War of Independence started, the Spanish enlisted the Llaneros, playing on their dislike of the criollos of the independence movement. José Tomás Boves led an army of llaneros which routinely killed white Venezuelans. After several more years of war, which killed half of Venezuela's white population, the country achieved independence from Spain in 1821.
  • During the Chios Massacre in 1822 about 42,000 Greek islanders of Chios were massacred; 45,000 were enslaved; and 23,000 were exiled. Less than 2,000 Greeks managed to survive on the island.
  • In the immediate aftermath of Dom Pedro’s abdication in 1831, the poor people of color, including slaves, staged anti-Portuguese riots in the streets of Brazil's larger cities.
  • On November 19 1835, the Chatham Islands were invaded by mainland Māori. Some 300 Moriori men, women and children were massacred and the remaining 1,300 survivors were enslaved. By 1862, only 101 Morioris were left alive. Modern inhabitants are descendants of those who invaded and conquered the archipelago in 1835.
  • The ethnic cleansing of the light-skinned Spanish and Mestizo people by the Mayas from the eastern Yucatan and the territory of Quintana Roo during the Caste War of Yucatán. The greatest success of the Maya revolt was reached in the spring of 1848, with the Europeans and Mestizos driven from most of the peninsula other than the walled cities of Campeche and Mérida and the south-west coast.
  • In the United States in the 19th century there were numerous instances of relocation of Native American peoples from their traditional areas to often remote reservations elsewhere in the country, particularly in the Indian Removal policy of the 1830s. The Trail of Tears, which led to the deaths of about 2,000 to 8,000 Cherokees from disease, and the Long Walk of the Navajo are well-known examples.
  • The Tasmanians, estimated at 8,000 people in 1803, were reduced to a population of around 300 by 1833, although much of this has been attributed to the effect of diseases to which they had no natural immunity (including smallpox and syphilis) and alcoholism. Estimates of the total number of Tasmanian deaths at the hands of European settlers vary, with some controversial estimates ranging as low as 118 in the period from 1803 until 1847. This conflict is a subject of the Australian history wars.
  • Ainu people are an ethnic group indigenous to Hokkaidō, northern Honshū, the Kuril Islands, much of Sakhalin, and the southernmost third of the Kamchatka peninsula. As Japanese settlement expanded, the Ainu were pushed northward, until by the Meiji period they were confined by the government to a small area in Hokkaidō, in a manner similar to the placing of Native Americans on reservations.
  • The ethnic cleansing of the Assyrian Christian population from Eastern Anatolia by Kurdish tribes, in 1842-1847.
  • Expulsion of Turkish, Muslim, and Jewish populations from Balkans following the independence of Balkan countries (e.g., Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria) from Ottoman Empire from early 1800s to early 1900.
  • Expulsion of Muslim populations in Northern Caucasus by imperial Russia throughout 19th century. Particularly, expulsion of Circassians to Anatolia in 1864. (see Muhajir (Caucasus) for more details)
  • During the mid-19th century, the Muslims of China revolted against the Qing Dynasty, most notably in the Dungan revolt (1862-1877) and the Panthay rebellion 1856-1873) in Yunnan. The Manchu government committed genocide to suppress these little known revolts. killing a million people in the Panthay rebellion, and several million in the Dungan revolt. A "washing off the Muslims"(洗回 (xi Hui)) policy had been long advocated by officials in the Manchu government.

20th century

  • Treaty of Neuilly (1919); Greece and Bulgaria exchange populations, with some exceptions.
  • Massacres of the Turkish population by the Greek army of occupation and Greek scorched earth policy by Greek troops after their defeat in the Greco Turkish War. Massacre of Greek population and sack of Smyrna by Turkish troops.
  • The Population exchange between Greece and Turkey of Greeks from Turkey and of Turks from Greece after the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) as a consequence of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
  • The Bolshevik regime killed or deported an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 Don Cossacks during the Russian Civil War, in 1919-1920.
  • Deportation of Poles by the Soviet Union from Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia to Kazakhstan in 1934-1938.
  • Deportation of Koreans by the Soviet Union from the Russian Far East to Soviet Central Asia from September to October 1937. More than 172,000 Koreans were deported.
  • The Great Repatriation of an estimated half million Mexican Americans from the Southwestern United States to Mexico by American INS officials during the Great Depression. Approximately 60% of those hastenily deported are naturalized citizens who lived in the US for over 10 years, and their families, including US-born children of Mexican parents. Mexican-Americans whose ancestry dated back to the 19th century pre-annexation period are racially and ethnically harassed by INS officials out of nativism and fears of a "Mexican takeover" of the American Southwest.
  • Forced displacement of 150,000 Czechs after October 1, 1938, when the German army entered the border regions of Czechoslovakia surrendered in accordance with the Munich Agreement.
  • The persecutions and expulsions of Jews in Germany, Austria and other Nazi-controlled areas prior to the initiation of mass genocide in which 6 million Jews were killed.
  • During the Finnish occupation of East Karelia during World War II the Russian speaking population of the city of Petrozavodsk was held in an concentration camp.
  • Expulsion of Poles by Germany. During World War II, Nazis planned to ethnically cleanse the whole Polish population. Eventually during Nazi occupation up to 1.6 to 2 million Poles were expelled, not counting millions of slave labourers deported from Poland.
  • More than 250,000 Serbs were expelled from Croatia by the extreme nationalist Ustashe regime during the Serbian Genocide, in 1941-1945.
  • During WWII, Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians were interned in camps due to fears that Japanese immigrants might be a fifth column supporting the enemy.
  • During WWII, in Kosovo & Metohija, some 10,000 Serbs lost their lives, and about 80 to 100,000 or more were ethnically cleansed. Hundreds of thousands more Serbs would be ethnically cleansed from Kosovo by coercion in the decades from 1945 to 1991.
  • Deportation of Volga Germans by Soviet Union to Kazakhstan, Altai Krai, Siberia, and other remote areas, in 1941-1942.
  • Deportation of Crimean Tatars, Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, Balkars, Karachays, and Meskhetian Turks by Soviet Union to Central Asia and Siberia, 1943-1944.
  • The ethnic cleansing of Hungarians, or the massacres in Bačka by titoist partisans during the winter of 1944-45, about 40.000 massacred. Afterwards, between 45-48, internation camps were set which led directly to the death of 70.000 more, of famine, frost, plagues, tortures and executions.
  • The ethnic cleansing and massacres of Poles in Volhynia by nationalist UPA which took place in 1943 and 1944, with the bulk of victims reported for summer and autumn 1944.
  • The ethnic cleansing of Cham Albanians from Southern Epirus by Greeks which took place in 1944 and 1945, circa 18,000-35000 fled to Albania, and from several hundred to 2,800 killed.
  • Expulsion of Germans after World War II. From 1944 until 1948, between 13.5 and 16.5 million Germans were expelled, evacuated or fled from Central and Eastern Europe, making this the largest single instance of ethnic cleansing in recorded history. Estimated number of those who died in the process is being debated by historians and estimated between 500,000 and 3,000,000.
  • Istrian exodus during and after World War II. The diaspora of 350,000 ethnic Italians from Istria, Fiume and dalmatian Zara lands, after the collapse of Italian fascist regime.
  • Manchuria, under Soviet occupation following World War II and soon to become a battlefield between the Chinese communist forces and the Nationalist forces was home to hundreds of thousands of Japanese citizens. Korea and Taiwan, now free from Japanese rule, and Sakhalin, under Soviet military occupation, were Japanese territories before World War II and had millions of Japanese residents. All these were now to be expelled.
  • The mass deportation of Ukrainian speaking ethnic minorities from the territory of Poland after World War II, culminating in 1947 with the start of Operation Wisla. Millions of Poles were simultaneously deported from the eastern territories annexed by the Soviet Union into the western territories, which Soviets transferred from Germany to Poland. By 1950, 5 million Poles had been settled in what the government called the Regained Territories.
  • Communist regime in Romania begins evictions of the Greek community, approx. 75,000 migrate.
  • Mass expulsions of Hindus and Sikhs from Pakistan to India, and of Muslims from India to Pakistan. The controversy surrounding the partition of British India in 1947, resulted in the killings of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs in riots. Well over 10 million people were violently displaced, and up to 500,000 lost their lives. However, unlike most other instances, no government agencies actively took part in the bloodshed, although reportedly a limited number of Indian and Pakistani troops and police posted along the border were partisan in their sympathies and abetted the rioters. Those that did not (as well as the last remaining British officers) were simply overwhelmed by the magnitude of the violence and could do little to stop it.
  • After the annexation of the Muslim-ruled state of Hyderabad by India in 1948, about 7,000 Hadrami Arabs were interned and deported from India.
  • The Palestinian exodus, in which the substantial majority of Arab Palestinians (approximately 700,000) in the areas of British Mandate of Palestine that became part of Israel left following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. In some instances they were forced to leave, in some they were encouraged to leave and in some they fled because of the war.. Sixty years later there are still millions of Palestinian refugees living in refugee camps in neighboring countries.
  • Jewish exodus from Arab lands, in which 99 percent of Jews (approximately 800,000) from Arab countries left, mostly voluntary or due to pressure from the Israeli government and international Zionist organizations, between the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the Six Day War in 1967. The major populations affected were in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.
  • After Indonesia received independence from the Netherlands in 1949, around 300.000 people, predominantly Indos or Dutch Indonesians (people of mixed Indonesian and European descent), fled or were expulsed from Indonesia.
  • Displacement of Kashmiri's who have fled the Indian military action in Kashmir, most have fled to Pakistan as well as to Britain, Canada and the USA. Kashmiri Hindus living in Kashmir due to the ongoing and anti-Indian insurgency. Some 300,000 Hindus have been internally displaced from Kashmir due to the violence.
  • In the aftermath of the 1949 Durban Riots (an inter-racial conflict between Zulus and Asians in South Africa), hundreds of Indians fled Cato Manor.
  • On 5 and 6 September 1955 the Istanbul Pogrom or "Septembrianá"/"Σεπτεμβριανά" was launched against the Greek population of Constantinople, it was secretly backed by the Turkish government ,some Jews and Armenians of the city were also attacked by the mob, the event contributed greatly to the gradual extinction of the Greek minority in the city and country which numbered 100,000 in 1924 after the Turko-Greek population exchange treaty and only 5000 in 2007 and was followed by the Turkish government planned expulsion of the Greek minority in the Imbros and Tenedos islands in the period 1923-1993 (source needed).
  • On 5 July 1960, five days after the Congo gained independence from Belgium, the Force Publique garrison near Léopoldville mutinied against its white officers and attacked numerous European targets. This caused the fear amongst the approximately 100,000 whites still resident in the Congo and mass exodus from the country.
  • Ne Win's rise to power in 1962 and his relentless persecution of "resident aliens" (immigrant groups not recognised as citizens of the Union of Burma) led to an exodus of some 300,000 Burmese Indians from racial discrimination and particularly after wholesale nationalisation of private enterprise a few years later in 1964.
  • The creation of the apartheid system in South Africa, which began in 1948 but reached full flower in the 1960s and 1970s, involved some ethnic cleansing, including the separation of blacks, Coloureds, and whites, as well as the creation of Bantustans, which involved forced removals of non-white populations.
  • Mass expulsion of the pied-noir population of European descent and Jews from Algeria to France. In just a few months in 1962, 900,000 of these Europeans and native Jewish people left the country.
  • Blockbusting and redlining in American cities in the mid-to-late 20th century led to white flight: whites moving from inner city America to the suburbs, being replaced by African Americans.
  • The ethnic cleansing of the Arabs and Indians from Zanzibar in 1964.
  • Some 150,000 Italians settled in Libya, constituting about 18% of the total population. All of Libya's Italians were expelled from the North African country in 1970, a year after Muammar al-Gaddafi seized power (a "day of vengeance" on 7 October, 1970).
  • By 1969, more than 350,000 Salvadorans were living in Honduras. In 1969, Honduras enacted a new land reform law. This law took land away from Salvadoran immigrants and redistributed this land to native-born Honduran peoples. Thousands of Salvadorans were displaced by this law (see Football War).
  • During the Bangladesh War of Independence of 1971 around 10 million Bengalis fled the country to escape the killings and atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army.
  • The forced expulsion of Uganda's entire Asian population by Idi Amin's regime.
  • The ethnic cleansing between 1963–1974 of Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots and Greek military forces.
  • The ethnic cleansing in 1974-76 of the Greek population of the areas under Turkish military occupation in Cyprus during and after the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus.
  • Following the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, the Lao kingdom was overthrown by the communists and the Hmong people became targets of retaliation and persecution. Thousands made the trek to and across the Mekong River into Thailand, often under attack. This marked the beginning of a mass exodus of Hmong people from Laos.
  • The Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia disproportionately targeted ethnic minority groups. These included ethnic Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai. In the late 1960s, an estimated 425,000 ethnic Chinese lived in Cambodia, but by 1984, as a result of Khmer Rouge genocide and emigration, only about 61,400 Chinese remained in the country. The Cham Muslims suffered serious purges with as much as half of their population exterminated. A Khmer Rouge order stated that henceforth “The Cham nation no longer exists on Kampuchean soil belonging to the Khmers” (U.N. Doc. A.34/569 at 9).
  • Subsequent waves of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya fled Burma and many refugees inundated neighbouring Bangladesh including 250,000 in 1978 as a result of the King Dragon operation in Arakan.
  • The Sino-Vietnamese War resulted in the discrimination and consequent migration of Vietnam's ethnic Chinese. Many of these people fled as "boat people". In 1978-79, some 450,000 ethnic Chinese left Vietnam by boat as refugees (many officially encouraged and assisted) or were expelled across the land border with China.
  • Aftermath of Indira Gandhi assassination in 1984 Oct 31, the ruling party Indian National Congress supporters formed large mobs and killed around 3000 Sikhs around Delhi which is known as the Anti Sikh Riots during the next four days. The mobs using the support of ruling party leaders used the Election voting list to identify Sikhs and kill them.
  • At least one million Iraqi Kurds were displaced and an estimated 100,000-200,000 killed during the Al-Anfal Campaign (1986-1989).
  • The forced assimilation campaign of the late 80s directed against ethnic Turks resulted in the emigration of some 300,000 Bulgarian Turks to Turkey.
  • The Nagorno Karabakh conflict has resulted in the displacement of population from both sides. 528,000 Azerbaijanis from Nagorno Karabakh Armenian controlled territories including Nagorno-Karabakh, and 185,000 to 220,000 Azeris, 18,000 Kurds and 3,500 Russians fled from Armenia to Azerbaijan from 1988 to 1989. 280,000 to 304,000 persons—virtually all ethnic Armenians—fled Azerbaijan during the 1988–1993 war over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
  • Since April 1989, some 70,000 black Mauritanians -- members of the Peul, Wolof, Soninke and Bambara ethnic groups -- have been expelled from Mauritania by the Mauritanian government.
  • In 1989, after bloody pogroms against the Meskhetian Turks by Uzbeks in Central Asia's Ferghana Valley, nearly 90,000 Meskhetian Turks left Uzbekistan.
  • In 1991, following a crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, 250,000 refugees took shelter in the Cox's Bazar district of neighbouring Bangladesh.
  • As a result of 1991–1992 South Ossetia War, about 100,000 ethnic Ossetians fled South Ossetia and Georgia proper, most across the border into North Ossetia. A further 23,000 ethnic Georgians fled South Ossetia and settled in other parts of Georgia. According to Helsinki Watch, the campaign of ethnic-cleansing was orchestrated by the Ossetian militants, during the events of Ossetian–Ingush conflict, which resulted in expulsion of approximately 60,000 Ingush inhabitants from Prigorodny District.
  • The widespread ethnic cleansing accompanying the Yugoslav wars from 1991 to 1999, of which the most significant examples occurred in eastern Croatia and self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina (1991-1995) (see Operation Storm), in most of Bosnia (1992-1995), and in the Albanian-dominated breakaway Kosovo province (of Serbia) (1999). Large numbers of Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and Albanians were forced to flee their homes and expelled. Beginning in 1991, political upheavals in the Balkans displaced about 2,700,000 people by mid-1992, of which over 700,000 of them sought asylum in Europe.
  • The forced displacement and ethnic-cleansing of more than 250,000 people, mostly Georgians but some others too, from Abkhazia during the conflict and after in 1993 and 1998.
  • The 1994 massacres of nearly 1,000,000 Tutsis by Hutus, known as the Rwandan Genocide[better citation needed]
  • The mass expulsion of southern Lhotshampas (Bhutanese of Nepalese origin) by the northern Druk majority of Bhutan in 1990. The number of refugees is approximately 103,000.
  • An estimated 1,000 Tamil people were killed, tens of thousands of houses were destroyed by the Sinhalese-dominated government of Sri Lanka in what is commonly known as Black July.The murder, looting and general destruction of property was well organized. Mobs armed with petrol were seen stopping passing motorists at critical street junctions and, after ascertaining the ethnic identity of the driver and passengers, setting alight the vehicle with the driver and passengers trapped within it. Mobs were also seen stopping buses to identify Tamil passengers and subsequently these passengers were knifed, clubbed to death or burned alive.
  • Displacement of more than 500,000 Chechen and ethnic Russian civilians living in Chechnya during the First Chechen War in 1994-1996.
  • The Jakarta riots of May 1998 targeted many Chinese Indonesians. Suffering from lootings and arsons, many Chinese Indonesians fled from Indonesia.
  • More than 800,000 Kosovar Albanians fled their homes in Kosovo during the Kosovo War in 1998-9, after being expelled. Although on the contrary over 200,000 Serbs and other non-Albanian minorities were forced out of Kosovo during and after the war while most Albanians returned.
  • There have been serious outbreaks of inter-ethnic violence on the island of Kalimantan since 1997, involving the indigenous Dayak peoples and immigrants from the island of Madura. In 2001 in the Central Kalimantan town of Sampit, at least 500 Madurese were killed and up to 100,000 Madurese were forced to flee. Some Madurese bodies were decapitated in a ritual reminiscent of the headhunting tradition of the Dayaks of old.

21st century

  • In 2003, Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti Pygmies, told the UN's Indigenous People's Forum that during the Congo Civil War, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. Both sides of the war regarded them as "subhuman" and some say their flesh can confer magical powers. Makelo asked the UN Security Council to recognise cannibalism as a crime against humanity and an act of genocide.
  • In the late-1990s and early 2000s, paramilitaries organized and armed by the Indonesian military and police forces murdered large numbers of civilians in East Timor.
  • Since the mid-1990s the central government of Botswana has been trying to move Bushmen out of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. As of October 2005, the government has resumed its policy of forcing all Bushmen off their lands in the Game Reserve, using armed police and threats of violence or death. Many of the involuntarily displaced Bushmen live in squalid resettlement camps and some have resorted to prostitution and alcoholism, while about 250 others remain or have surreptitiously returned to the Kalahari to resume their independent lifestyle. “How can we continue to have Stone Age creatures in an age of computers?“ asked Botswana’s president Festus Mogae.
  • Expulsion of white farmers by the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe in 2000. There were 270,000 whites in Zimbabwe (when the country was known as Rhodesia) in 1970. There are only a few thousand whites left in Zimbabwe today.
  • The removal of around 8,500 Jews (including the forced removal of about half of them) from the Gaza Strip, and around 660 from four small settlements in the West Bank, in 2005 through the implementation of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan.
  • Attacks by the Janjaweed, militias of Sudan on the African population of Darfur, a region of western Sudan. A July 14 2007 article notes that in the past two months up to 75,000 Arabs from Chad and Niger crossed the border into Darfur. Most have been relocated by the Sudanese government to former villages of displaced non-Arab people. Some 2.5 million have now been forced to flee their homes after attacks by Sudanese troops and Janjaweed militia.
  • Currently in the Iraq Civil War (2003 to present), entire neighborhoods in Baghdad are being ethnically cleansed by Shia and Sunni Militias. Some areas are being evacuated by every member of a particular secular group due to lack of security, moving into new areas because of fear of reprisal killings. As of June 21 2007, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis had been displaced to neighboring countries, and 2 million were displaced internally, with nearly 100,000 Iraqis fleeing to Syria and Jordan each month.
  • Although Iraqi Christians represent less than 5% of the total Iraqi population, they make up 40% of the refugees now living in nearby countries, according to UNHCR. In the 16th century, Christians constituted half of Iraq's population. In 1987, the last Iraqi census counted 1.4 million Christians. But as the 2003 invasion has reawakened Islamic sensibilities, Christians' total numbers slumped to about 500,000, of whom 250,000 live in Baghdad. Furthermore, the Mandaean and Yazidi communities are at the risk of elimination due to the ongoing atrocities by Islamic extremists. A May 25 2007 article notes that in the past 7 months only 69 people from Iraq have been granted refugee status in the United States.
  • The ethnic cleansing of African American population of some racially mixed Los Angeles neighborhoods by Mexican street gangs. According to gang experts and law enforcement agents the Mexican Mafia leaders, or shot callers, have issued a "green light" on all blacks.
  • In October 2006, Niger announced that it would deport the Arabs living in the Diffa region of eastern Niger to Chad. This population numbered about 150,000. While the government was rounding Arabs in preparation for the deportation, two girls died, reportedly after fleeing government forces, and three women suffered miscarriages. Niger's government had eventually suspended a controversial decision to deport Arabs.
  • In 1950, the Karen had become the largest of 20 minority groups participating in an insurgency against the military dictatorship in Burma. The conflict continues as of 2008. In 2004, the BBC, citing aid agencies, estimates that up to 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes during decades of war, with 120,000 more refugees from Burma, mostly Karen, living in refugee camps on the Thai side of the border. Many accuse the military government of Burma of ethnic cleansing. As a result of the ongoing war in minority group areas more than two million people have fled Burma to Thailand.
  • Civil unrest in Kenya erupted in December 2007. By January 28, 2008, the death toll from the violence was at around 800. The United Nations estimated that as many as 600,000 people have been displaced. A government spokesman claimed that Odinga's supporters were "engaging in ethnic cleansing".
  • The 2008 attacks on North Indians in Maharashtra began on February 3, 2008. Incidences of violence against North Indians and their property were reported in Bombay, Pune, Aurangabad, Beed, Nashik, Amravati, Jalna and Latur. Nearly 25,000 North Indian workers fled Pune, and another 15,000 fled Nashik in the wake of the attacks.
  • South Africa Ethnic Cleansing erupted on 11 May 2008 within three weeks 80 000 were displaced the death toll was 62, with 670 injured by the violence when South Africans ejected non-nationals in a nationwide ethnic cleansing / Xenophobic outburst ejecting the "makwerekwere" BLACKer Africans The most affected have been Zimbabweans (30 000), Mozambiqueans (20 000 have returned to Mozambique), Somalians, Ethiopians, Congolese, Angolans. Local South Africans have also been caught up in the violence and so have other non-African nationals. Refugee camps a mistake Arvin Gupta, a senior UNHCR protection officer, said the UNHCR did not agree with the City of Cape Town that those displaced by the violence should be held at camps across the city.

In Fiction

In the book, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian the Telmarines trying to wipe out the Narnians is a form of ethnic cleansing.

See also



  • Bell-Fialkoff, Andrew (1993). "A Brief History of Ethnic Cleansing". Foreign Affairs 72 (3): 110.
  • Jackson Preece, Jennifer (1998). "Ethnic Cleansing As An Instrument of Nation-State Creation". Human Rights Quarterly 20 (4): 359.
  • Petrovic, Drazen (1998). "Ethnic Cleansing - An Attempt at Methodology". European Journal of International Law 5 (4): 817.

External links

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