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Publicly Underrepresented Genocides of the 20th and 21st Century: A Review

Larra M. Diboyan
1,* and
Jesse R. Goliath
Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures, Mississippi State University, 206 Cobb Institute Hardy Rd, Mississippi State, Starkville, MS 39762, USA
Cobb Institute of Archaeology, Mississippi State University, 206 Cobb Institute Hardy Rd, Mississippi State, Starkville, MS 39762, USA
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Humans 2023, 3(2), 82-105;
Submission received: 15 April 2023 / Revised: 5 May 2023 / Accepted: 10 May 2023 / Published: 16 May 2023
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Contemporary Concerns and Considerations in Forensic Anthropology)


Forensic anthropologists have been involved in investigating genocide and crimes against humanity for many decades. Raphael Lempkin first coined the term “genocide” in 1944, and in 1946, the United Nations General Assembly codified it as an independent crime. However, there has not been a systematic review available to better understand the history of many of these atrocities. Moreover, many of these events have not been discussed outside the cultures and individuals affected. This targeted literature review will discuss work on historic, lesser-known, modern genocides, and finally, the humanitarian forensic work being conducted in the field and digitally. Such events discussed include Herero and Namaqua, Sayfo, Armenian, Holodomor, Nanking (Nanjing), Romani, Palestinian, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sikh, and Rohingya genocides. Work being done in this important sector of research is a critical development for not only recognizing these crimes but also for documenting and protecting the evidence of these human rights violations.

1. Introduction

The last and final stage of genocide is denial (Table 1). Aggressors do everything in their power to intimidate, blame, and dispose of evidence and show any evidence that any such violence was taken against the victims [1,2]. Survivors and their descendants are critical for collecting and documenting stories and experiences and disseminating this vital information for forensic anthropologists to manage the physical evidence of these horrific events. While the first author (L.D.) is new to forensics, it has become a deeply personal and cathartic experience as a member of an ethnicity that has faced genocide. The experience attained by doing forensic archaeological fieldwork and guest lecturing on genocides and mass graves while doing graduate studies to assist in locating missing individuals has helped L.D. put to rest family members that have been lost or forgotten from grandparents and great-grandparents’ stories which have been passed down since the genocide. The second author (J.G.) has been a practicing forensic anthropologist for ten years and is the grandchild of Cuban exiles. Like other refugee stories, the Cuban exodus is part of the untold legacy of forgotten experiences of trauma, loss, and resilience. Through forensic humanitarian work, we can shed light on these traumatic experiences and hopefully give a voice to those forgotten individuals and their stories. It is the authors’ sincere hope that other members of the forensic community will work together to fight for recognition of all genocides and especially the ones that have been forgotten.
Forensic anthropologists write about their experiences and their role in recovering the victims of genocides and interacting with the victims’ families and also survivors. Kim, J. and colleagues [3] along with Anstett, É. [4] have contributed most recently to the ethics and the role of humanitarian work, which is critical in finding justice for the victims and families and how to do the work we are charged with doing as ethically and sensitively as possible.
On the 24th of April in 1915, what would be considered the first genocide of the 20th century took place, personally affecting L.D.’s family. The horrific stories of hangings, marches, starvation, camp illnesses, and the unimaginable loss and trauma forever haunting my grandparents and great-grandparents trickled down to their descendants. The first author’s great-grandfather had his memories to share with his family and the Armenian community, hoping to have them published so the world never forgets what happened in 1915. The book “Crows of the Desert: The Memoirs of Levon Yotnakhparian” chronicles his experience before, during, and after the Armenian Genocide and his heartfelt search for his lost and only surviving brother Dikran who witnessed their family being executed. This search led him and his fellow survivors to work together to collect orphans with him to find his brother [5]. He and this dedicated group located hundreds of Armenian orphans to preserve not only their heritage but also to locate their families. Members of ethnicities who have lived with this generational trauma have numerous feelings about their role as members of the surviving community. One of the most challenging things to accept is the feeling that only the tiny surviving community cares about the gross human rights violation that happened to their family or themselves. This lack of attention frequently resurfaces every year during the anniversary of these horrific events. These feelings of despair turn into anger when time and time again, justice is not given, apologies are not received, denial is the policy of the perpetrating country, and the world turns a blind eye again to what happened. The primary purpose of this review is to further information about lesser-known genocides and massacres and to bring attention to those heavily censored and denied by perpetrating governments and their key allies.
How this literature review has been structured is as follows. For each genocide, a short summary is provided describing the events which took place to provide quick information on important events, immediately following which are five articles from 2022 to showcase work which had been produced to generate further knowledge about what has happened.

2. Genocides throughout Time: A Review

2.1. Herero and Namaqua Genocide 1904

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide was a campaign of extermination by the German Empire against the indigenous Herero and Namaqua peoples in present-day Namibia between 1904 and 1908. The genocide killed 75,000 to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Namaqua people [6,7]. The German colonial government, led by Governor Lothar von Trotha, viewed the Herero and Namaqua as inferior and sought to exterminate them to make way for German settlers. The genocide began with the Herero and Namaqua uprisings against German colonial rule in 1904, which were brutally suppressed by German troops [6,7]. The German forces drove the Herero and Namaqua people into the desert, where they were denied food and water, resulting in the death of thousands. Those who survived were rounded up and sent to concentration camps, where they were subjected to forced labor and medical experimentation [8,9]. The German Empire denied responsibility for the genocide for decades, and it was only in 2004 that the German government officially acknowledged the atrocities committed and apologized to the victims’ descendants [8,9].
The articles observed for this literature review regarding the Herero and Namaqua genocides all had critical observations about what occurred before, during, and after the genocide perpetrated by the German government during its colonial era over Herero and Namaqua people in modern day Namibia. Authors who have researched and discussed these events have explored the evidence and the causes of why this horror occurred in the early 20th century [8,9]. Aboudounya [10] examines the legal evidence supporting the demand for reparations from Germany for the Herero and Nama genocide during its colonial rule in Namibia. Aboudounya argues that much historical evidence supports the claim that Germany committed genocide against the Herero and Nama peoples, and that this evidence is sufficient to justify the demands for reparations [10]. Together, all these sources provide a comprehensive analysis of the Herero and Nama genocide, including its historical, legal, emotional, and political dimensions. Although since 2021, the German government has formally given reparations for the genocide, it would still be imperative for scholars, artists, and interested individuals to reach out to the communities and to have them guide research or artistic interpretations of what the post-colonial era was after the genocide. It is noted that there are many scholarly articles, legal cases, and books dedicated to this tragedy. Nevertheless, very few people outside of Germany, apart from the Herero and Namaqua, know about this genocide, the first example of this type of systematic massacre to occur in the 20th century. Augsten and colleagues [11] shared similarities on the “myth” of responsibility and focuses on the silence in German politics regarding the history of the cruelty of colonialism. They also highlight that, despite the growing public awareness of the genocide and demands for reparations, there has been a little to no acknowledgment of Germany’s responsibility for the inhumane treatment.
Lastly, Bomholt Nielsen offers a critical view of the genocide and its consequences over the 35 years of colonization. He also looks at the totality of the genocide and the effects it had on the Herero and Nama people [12]. Lahti’s article explores the “settler-colonial violence” that occurred during this time, and Muschalek’s work examines the emotional and extreme violence that accompanied the genocide [13,14].
While the Herero and Namaqua genocide is chronologically the first genocide to happen in the 20th century, Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide to describe what happened to the Armenian population in World War I which led him to advocate for the creation of the Genocide Convention after the horrific events of the Holocaust during World War II [15].

2.2. Assyrian, Aramean, Chaldean Genocide 1914

The Assyrian, Aramean, and Chaldean Genocide, also known as Sayfo, refers to a series of massacres and forced deportations of the Assyrian, Aramean, and Chaldean Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The genocide killed an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 Assyrians, Arameans, and Chaldeans [16,17]. Under the leadership of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), the Ottoman Empire viewed the Assyrian, Aramean, and Chaldean Christians as a threat to the empire’s unity and sought to eliminate them. The genocide began in 1914 with the Ottoman army’s attack on the Assyrian town of Urmia, followed by massacres and forced deportations of the Christian communities across Ottoman territories [16,17]. The deportations, often called “death marches”, were carried out under brutal conditions, with thousands dying of hunger, thirst, and disease. The Christian communities were also subjected to rape, torture, and forced conversion to Islam [16,17]. Despite the genocide’s scale, it has received little recognition in international history. The Turkish government denies the genocide, calling it a “relocation” resulting from the war’s chaos, but scholars and activists have campaigned for its recognition as a genocide [16,17].
Isakhan and colleagues [18] examine the ISIS campaign of violence and destruction against Christians and Christian heritage sites and the displacement and forced migration of Christian communities in Iraq and Syria. The authors argue that these actions constitute genocide and explore the challenges faced by those seeking to reconcile and rebuild in the aftermath of the violence [18]. In comparison, Mutlu-Numansen [19] discusses the ongoing struggle to recognize and acknowledge the genocide by these communities in the diaspora. The author examines how memory is constructed and transmitted within these communities and how they have organized to advocate for recognition and justice [16]. Further, Neman Qarabash and colleagues [20] explore the historical context of the genocide, the atrocities committed against the Assyrian community, and the aftermath of the violence. What is essential about this volume is how it critically looks at the memories presented by the survivors and their descendants. Using memories and the experiences witnessed portrays a deeper and more nuanced understanding of what took place and how these memories have shaped families and the sense of place lost due to diaspora. These memories are indispensable for the descendant community and those who study genocide to understand the similarities and differences between these human rights violations worldwide [20]. Meanwhile, Ochab and Alton [21] look at how states respond to crimes of genocide. The chapter examines the genocidal actions of ISIS against various religious and belief communities in Syria and Iraq, including Christians, Yazidis, and Shiites. The authors argue that these actions constitute genocide and explore the legal and political implications of recognizing them as such. This chapter also is salient as it focuses on the current and ongoing genocide that is taking place in the Middle East to a population that historically has had difficulties due to their marginalized status under ISIS occupation [21]. Finally, Travis [22] explores the fabricated narratives used by the Ottoman Empire to justify the persecution and genocide of Christian communities during World War I. The author examines how these narratives contributed to the region’s ongoing marginalization and persecution of Christian communities—using examples of the past and mirroring them to present cases of the continued marginalization of these communities, leaving them again to face a possible genocide once again [22].

2.3. Armenian Genocide 1915

The Armenian Genocide was a systematic campaign of the Ottoman Empire’s extermination of the Armenian population during World War I. The genocide killed approximately 1.5 million Armenians [23,24]. The Young Turk government, which came to power in 1908, viewed the Christian Armenian minority as a threat to the Ottoman Empire’s territorial integrity and decided to eliminate them. The genocide began on 24 April 1915, with the arrest and deportation of Armenian intellectuals and leaders in Istanbul [25,26,27]. Armenians were forcibly removed from their homes and forced to march hundreds of miles to concentration camps. They were subjected to brutal conditions, including starvation, disease, and massacre by Ottoman troops and their Kurdish allies. Many died during the march, and those who survived were subjected to brutal conditions in the camps [28]. Despite the international community’s knowledge of the genocide, no action was taken to stop it. The Turkish government has consistently denied the genocide and has actively worked to suppress discussion and acknowledgment of the events [29,30].
Lehmann [31] examines the role of foreign interests in the Armenian genocide carried out by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. During the formative years of the Ottoman Empire, he argues that foreign intervention played a significant role in the outbreak of the genocide and that political suppression of the Armenians was not the only reason for their systematic annihilation, as has often been assumed. Using statistical analyses, he provides evidence to support his argument and suggests that this approach can be applied to the study of other cases of genocide [31].
Smith [32] explores the role of archaeology in addressing the legacy of the Armenian genocide. He further argues that archaeology has the potential to reveal new insights into the genocide and its aftermath but that it has often been overlooked as a tool for understanding this history. However, the issues of the suppression of foreign archaeologists by the denial policy of the Armenians and what happened to them are heavily present while their work takes place. Frequently, archaeologists would need to “unsee” what they have discovered, which may become a contentious issue regarding the physical evidence of the genocide. Smith uses more than just archaeological examples but uses memory work and history to understand further not only the genocide which took place, but also the historical precedent of denial and ridged policies to suppress further any work which may uncover what should not be seen [32].
Semerdjian [33] examines the psychological and cultural impact of the Armenian genocide on survivors and their descendants. She focuses on the concept of “phantom limbs”, a phenomenon in which individuals feel sensations in amputated limbs, as a metaphor for the lingering trauma of the genocide. Drawing on various sources, including literature, film, and personal accounts, she explores how this trauma has been embodied and transmitted across generations [33].
Nefes and colleagues [34] examine the debates surrounding recognizing the Armenian genocide in the Turkish parliament. They argue that various factors, including political ideology, regional differences, and the influence of nationalist groups, shape these debates. They also highlight how the Turkish government’s official position on the genocide has evolved from outright denial to a more nuanced stance that acknowledges the suffering of Armenians while stopping short of using the term “genocide” [35]. Bertram [36] explores the role of pilgrimage in the Armenian diaspora and its connection to the legacy of the genocide. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, she examines the experiences of Armenian pilgrims as they visit sites associated with their ancestral homeland, which has been largely destroyed or occupied in the aftermath of the genocide. She argues that these pilgrimages are a form of resistance to erasure and a way for Armenians to reclaim their history and identity in the face of ongoing violence and oppression [35].

2.4. Holodomor Genocide Ukraine 1932

With the current war between Ukraine and Russia, the issue of human rights and rumors of barbaric atrocities have again entered world news. Watching news networks or listening to the radio news, stories begin to emerge about violence against unarmed citizens and Russian forces. Tragically, this is not the first time that the Russian government or its forces have engaged with the civilian population of Ukraine in such violent ways. The Holodomor was an artificial famine in Soviet Ukraine between 1932 and 1933. The famine was caused by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s policies of collectivization. It forced grain requisitions, which resulted in the confiscation of grain from Ukrainian peasants and the withholding of food aid from the region. The famine led to the deaths of an estimated 2.5 to 7.5 million Ukrainians [36,37]. The Soviet government denied the existence of famine. It blamed it on natural causes, but evidence suggests it was deliberately engineered to crush Ukrainian nationalism and resistance to Soviet rule [36,37]. The Holodomor was not recognized as a genocide by the international community until 2006, when Ukraine declared it a genocide, and several other countries followed suit. However, the United Nations has not officially recognized the Holodomor as a genocide [36,37].
Cox and colleagues’ edited volume “Denial: The Final Stage of Genocide” explores the denial of genocides, past and present. The book argues that denial is not only a phenomenon that occurs after the genocide but also a process that takes place during the genocide itself [38]. The chapter “Holomodor and Holocaust Memory in Competition and Cooperation” by Kirsten Dyck focuses on Holomodor in the early days of Soviet Ukraine and the Holocaust during World War II and how these atrocities have been remembered and commemorated in Ukraine and other countries. Dyck argues that these two separate horrific events and the memories they carry have sometimes been seen as competing events [39]. Dyck examines how the Holodomor and the Holocaust have been commemorated in Ukraine, Israel, and Canada and discusses how these memories have been used in political and cultural contexts. Ultimately, Dyck argues that the Holodomor and Holocaust memories should be seen as complementary rather than competing and that they can both serve as important sources of reflection for understanding and preventing further genocides in the future [39].
Meanwhile, Etkind [40] explores the concept of “genocide of minor differences”, which is the notion that violence and conflict can arise between culturally and linguistically similar groups that perceive themselves as different [40]. Etkind applies this concept to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia and points out that Ukraine and Russia have a shared cultural heritage and history, calling for greater recognition of this shared identity to help overcome the conflict [40]. The author discusses how the conflict between Ukraine and Russia has been framed as an ethnic conflict and argues that this framing has contributed to the escalation of violence and the possibility of genocide. The article provides historical context for the conflict, including the legacy of Soviet rule in Ukraine and the role of language in the region [40]. An essential part of this terrible conflict is what is also discussed about Ukrainian and Russian identities and the challenges of reconciling these two national identities [40].
Fortuin’s [41] article examines the use of the term “genocide” in Russian propaganda related to the conflict in Ukraine. Wordplay is critical, and Fortuin argues that the Russian government and media have deliberately and inaccurately used the term to portray the conflict as an ethnic conflict and to justify Russian intervention in the region [41]. The author analyzes the language used in Russian propaganda and demonstrates how the term “genocide” has been used in a way that does not align with the legal definition of the term and has significantly impacted how the conflict is perceived in Russia and internationally [41]. The main objective of the article is to provide a detailed analysis of Russian propaganda related to the conflict in Ukraine, including the use of language and images to portray the conflict in a certain way. The author argues that using the term “genocide” in Russian propaganda is a deliberate misrepresentation of the situation and has significant consequences for the conflict and its resolution [41]. Lastly, the article discusses the legal definition of genocide and the implications of misusing this term in a political context.
Another article discusses the concept of “starvation genocide” and its history, particularly in the Holodomor famine in Ukraine in the 1930s. The author argues that the use of starvation as a tool of genocide has been underrecognized and calls for greater recognition of this crime against humanity [42].
First, Weisz provides a detailed definition of “starvation genocide” and argues that this concept has not been adequately recognized in international law or discourse [42]. Next, Weisz thoroughly discusses the concept of “starvation genocide” and its history, particularly in the context of the Holodomor famine in Ukraine in the 1930s [42]. The author argues that the use of starvation as a tool of genocide has been underrecognized and calls for greater recognition of this crime against humanity. Finally, the author provides a detailed analysis of the Holodomor famine, including its causes, consequences, and impact on Ukrainian society, and argues that it represents a clear example of the use of starvation as a tool of genocide [42]. What is also vital to the article is the discussion of the cultural and political impact of the Holodomor, including how it has been remembered and commemorated in Ukraine and internationally.
Makhortykh and colleagues [43] examine how search engines mediate the circulation of information about the Holodomor-related memory wars. The authors argue that search engines influence public understanding and memory of historical events. Furthermore, their algorithms and ranking systems can play a role in disseminating information, memory, and counter-memory [43]. The authors conducted a case study on the Holodomor famine in Ukraine. They analyzed search engine results pages (SERPs) for several key terms related to the event, including “Holodomor”, “Ukraine famine”, and “Stalin famine” [43]. They found that search engines can contribute to the circulation of memory and counter-memory by providing access to both mainstream and alternative sources of information about the event.
It is also important to note that the authors also found that search engines can facilitate the dissemination of denialism by giving prominence to websites and sources that promote false narratives or downplay the event’s severity. They further argue that this can harm public memory and understanding of the event and perpetuate false or misleading information. Lastly, the authors conclude by arguing that search engines have a responsibility to ensure that their algorithms and ranking systems are not used to promote denialism or to perpetuate false or misleading information about historical events [43]. They call for greater transparency in the algorithms and ranking systems used by search engines and more significant efforts to promote accurate and truthful information about the Holodomor and other historical events.

2.5. European Roma/Romani Genocide 1935

During the Nazi era, the Roma people of Europe were subjected to a systematic campaign of persecution and extermination. An estimated 500,000 Roma were killed, and many more were subjected to forced sterilization, medical experimentation, and forced labor. The Nazis targeted the Roma as part of their broader racial purification program, and they were subject to the same dehumanizing ideology as the Jews. The genocide of the Roma has received less attention than that of the Jews, partly due to Roma’s marginalized status in Europe. However, scholars have increasingly recognized the significance of the Roma genocide and its impact on Roma communities in Europe today. Key sources on the Roma genocide include works by Michel Auclair, Ian Hancock, and Donald Kenrick, as well as testimony from survivors of the genocide [44,45,46]. Despite growing awareness of the Roma genocide, the Roma continue to face discrimination and persecution in many parts of Europe. Roma communities remain among Europe’s most marginalized and vulnerable, with high rates of poverty, unemployment, and social exclusion. Efforts to secure justice and reparations for the Roma victims of the Holocaust have been limited, and many Roma continue to face prejudice and violence today [47,48].
Budrytė [49] explores how Roma activists have sought to challenge the erasure of Roma suffering during the Holocaust and assert their agency in the memorialization process [49]. The Roma genocide during World War II is remembered and commemorated in Lithuania through the lens of activists’ memories. However, the author argues that while the Lithuanian government has made progress in acknowledging and commemorating the Holocaust, the memory of the Roma genocide remained a neglected commemorative historical event. Budrytė discusses activists’ role in raising awareness about the Roma genocide and advocating for its recognition in Lithuania [49]. The author continues by analyzing various activism forms, including commemorative events, art exhibitions, and educational initiatives. The article also examines activists’ challenges, such as resistance from the Lithuanian government and limited resources, which hinder further education about the genocide [49]. Lastly, the author argues that such efforts are essential for promoting human rights and combating discrimination against Roma communities.
Further, Lie and colleagues [50] explore how theater can be used to remember and commemorate the Romani Holocaust. It analyzes two theatrical productions in Norway and Romania that engage with the history and memory of the Romani genocide. What is also highlighted is the consideration of the possibilities and limitations of using performance to engage with complex histories. The two theatrical productions analyzed for this article were “Rehearsing Memory”, performed in Norway in 2016, and “Papusza”, performed in Poland in 2013 [50]. Both productions aim to bring attention to the genocide of the Roma during World War II and help the audience engage with questions of representation and memory. Lie and colleagues argue that these productions use theater to create a form of remembrance that challenges dominant narratives and offers new ways of understanding what happened to the Roma [50]. The authors further examine how the productions use different forms of representation, such as documentary theatre and intercultural performance, to convey the experiences of the Roma during the Holocaust [50]. They also explore and analyze how the productions engage with cultural heritage issues, including questions of authenticity and appropriation.
Kotljarchuk examines the memorialization and commemoration of the Nazi genocide of Roma in Ukraine concerning the Babi Yar massacre. The author argues that the memory of the genocide of Roma has been neglected and marginalized in Ukraine, and only recently, efforts have been made to acknowledge and honor victims and their descendants. This article traces the history of Roma in Ukraine from the 15th century to the present day and highlights the various forms of discrimination and persecution they have historically faced [51]. Kotljarchuk focuses on the Babi Yar massacre, in which an estimated 3000 Roma were killed alongside tens of thousands of Jews in September 1941 [51]. The author further examines how the Roma victims have been remembered and memorialized, both in Ukraine and internationally, and argues that their memory has often merged with the more significant memory of the Holocaust. Finally, Kotljarchuk continues to analyze the various memory practices employed to commemorate the Roma victims, including constructing memorials and naming streets and institutions after Roma victims [51]. Thus, moreover, what is vital is to create educational programs to raise awareness about the genocide of Roma. Kotljarchuk’s insightful analysis of the challenges and opportunities of memorializing the Nazi genocide of Roma in Ukraine highlights the importance of acknowledging and honoring the Roma victims alongside other groups who suffered under Nazi persecution [51].
Roht-Yilmaz [52] explores the representation of Roma history and its culture in Estonian museum exhibitions, highlighting the challenges faced by the Roma community in Estonia because of their invisibility and marginalization in mainstream society [49]. What is significant about this article is that Roht-Yilmaz draws on interviews with museum professionals and Roma activists to fully grasp the content and representation of Roma culture in exhibitions. Furthermore, it suggests ways to improve the visibility and representation of the Roma community in Estonia and highlight the persecution the community still faces [52]. The author also explores the broader historical context of Roma exclusion and persecution in Europe and highlights the need for greater recognition and support for the Roma community not only in Estonia but also beyond.
Rosenhaft and colleagues [53] explore the diverse experiences and histories of Romani communities in Europe. It specifically challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about this historically marginalized group. The book is based on extensive research and interviews with Roma individuals and communities across Europe, such as those in Spain, France, Germany, and Eastern Europe [53]. The authors critically examine various issues facing Roma communities, including discrimination, marginalization, poverty, and human rights abuses. They also explore how Roma individuals and communities have resisted and adapted to these challenges. One of the ways they do this is by highlighting the resilience and strength of Romani culture and identity. The book provides essential insights into the experiences of one of Europe’s most marginalized and persecuted communities [53]. It offers a subtle and humanizing portrayal of Roma lives beyond the stereotypes that have long dominated the popular and academic discourse. What must be highlighted about this publication is how it was organized by Roma community members, giving it a critical and influential place in scholarly work [53]. Having the emic perspective is a crucial and fundamental way to understand how persecution, racism, and genocide have occurred in their people and families. Having this source showcases their agency in reclaiming their own narrative as a community.

2.6. The Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre 1937

The Nanking (Nanjing) Massacre, which occurred on 13 December 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, has been considered the forgotten genocide of World War II. After capturing the city of Nanking (Nanjing) in China, Japanese troops embarked on a six-week campaign of mass murder, rape, looting, and arson that targeted Chinese civilians and prisoners of war. During this six-week-long terror, civilians were killed in brutal ways, such as being burned or buried alive, shot, stabbed, or beheaded. One of the other tactics was against the female civilian population, where sexual violence and rape were committed. It is estimated that “20,000 to 80,000” girls and women were assaulted [54,55,56,57]. While reports are disputed about the full extent of the totality of victims, it is estimated that during this six-week period, “300,000 people were killed” by Japanese troops [54,56].
However, in 2022, the issue was brought to the forefront of worldwide attention through a surprising source: TikTok. Evan Kail, a pawnshop owner, was given a photo album by a client containing 30 photographs assumed to be photographic evidence of the Nanking Massacre [55]. The authenticity of the images was debated, as was the ethics of Kail exposing them to his TikTok followers. Eventually, it was determined that the photographs were not taken during the Nanking Massacre. Nonetheless, members of the Chinese community, including those in the diaspora, were grateful for the attention brought to this often-ignored event in their history [55]. However, there were some who criticized Kail’s motives, suggesting he did it solely for Internet clout. Despite this, the crucial outcome was that attention was given to an important event in Chinese history.
In their edited volume, Wigger and colleagues [58] explore the challenges of teaching complex histories in Germany and Japan, focusing on the Holocaust and World War II. The authors highlight the importance of teaching these histories to foster remembrance, responsibility, and reconciliation among young generations [58]. They also discuss the difficulties of teaching these topics, including the potential for controversy and resistance. However, what was most important was to focus on the need for sensitivity and respect for diverse perspectives. Case studies from both countries examined how educators and policymakers have addressed these challenges. Finally, the critical emphasis is the need for ongoing dialogue and collaboration between Germany and Japan [58]. These difficult conversations about countries with problematic histories can be cathartic and vital to building a shared understanding of the past and working toward a more peaceful future.
Gu [59] analyzes how the Nanjing Massacre is portrayed in Chinese and Japanese history textbooks. The author uses a linguistic approach to examine the language used to describe the event and argues that there is a significant difference in how the massacre is depicted in Chinese versus Japanese textbooks [59]. These are fundamental analyses to fully understanding the relationship between the perpetrating group, how the victims understand the after-effects of these horrific historical moments, and how there can be restorative practices and policies. Kazantsev [60] explores how the Sino-Japanese War memory is used for political purposes in the People’s Republic of China. The author examines how the Communist Party of China uses the war’s memory to legitimize its political authority and promote national unity [60].
Kazantsev [60] explores the politics of memory surrounding the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The author argues that the memory of the war in China has been shaped by a complex interplay of political, cultural, and historical factors, which have evolved [60]. The author argues that the memory of the war in China has been shaped by a complex interplay of political, cultural, and historical factors, which have evolved [60]. This article provides historical context for the war, including the causes of the conflict, the military strategies employed by both sides and the war’s impact on Chinese society [60]. The author also discusses the role of propaganda and media in shaping public perception of the war and how this perception has changed over time. Importantly, the article then turns to a discussion of the politics of memory surrounding the war in the PRC. Again, the author argues that the memory of the war has been manipulated and controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has used it to legitimize its rule and promote nationalist sentiment among the Chinese people. Kazantsev further explores how the memory of the war has been used to justify China’s territorial claims in the East and South China Seas [60]. Finally, the article discusses the challenges and limitations of memory politics in China, including the difficulties of reconciling different historical narratives and the potential consequences of using memory for political purposes [60]. An essential aspect of this article is that a more nuanced and complex understanding of the war is necessary for a more peaceful and stable relationship between China and Japan and a more accurate understanding of China’s place in the world.
Lu [61] examines the Nanjing Massacre through the lens of German diplomatic documents. The author argues that these documents provide evidence of the Japanese military’s atrocities during the massacre and the social conditions that followed the event. The first account of witnesses to the massacre is a critical moment for what took place in Nanjing from neither the perpetrators nor the victims [61]. Having these documents and further backing up the evidence substantiated through written accounts not only what had taken place but the critical moments after through these diplomatic reports.
Williams and colleagues [62] focus on the Nanjing Safety Zone, a zone of protection established in 1937 during the Nanjing Massacre. The authors argue that teaching about the Safety Zone is an effective way to introduce students to the concept of human rights and to encourage critical thinking about the role of bystanders in instances of mass violence [62]. Using examples from these historical events to educate how no one during these times of mass violence is a bystander but also an active member in what they are witnessing.
In the search for the most up-to-date literature on the Nanking Massacre, evident gaps were seen in academically published articles on this topic. The corpus of knowledge generated in 2022 regarding the Nanking Massacre highlights the significance of memory work and the experiences of survivors and their descendants. The works observed in this review predominantly reflected genres of memorialization and artistry used to convey the importance of keeping history alive and the ethnographic connection. However, while these works are critical in conveying the survivors’ experiences and personal information, conducting a more critical and in-depth analysis of these works is essential. It is hoped that more interest and scholarship will be devoted to disseminating what took place during the Nanking Massacre in 1937.

2.7. Palestinian Genocide 1948

The events of the Nakba, which resulted in the displacement and expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes and lands, as well as the establishment of the state of Israel, began with the United Nations partition plan of Palestine in 1947 [63,64,65,66,67,68]. The plan allocated 56% of the land to a Jewish state and 43% to an Arab state, with Jerusalem as an international zone. The Arab world rejected the plan, and violence erupted between Jewish and Arab communities in Palestine. Following Israel’s declaration of independence on 14 May 1948, Arab armies invaded Palestine, triggering a war that lasted for over a year [63,64,65,66,67,68].
During this time, Israeli forces engaged in ethnic cleansing, expelling Palestinians from their homes through violence, intimidation, and massacres. Between 700,000 and 800,000 Palestinians were forcibly displaced or fled their homes, becoming refugees in neighboring Arab countries or the West Bank and Gaza Strip [63,64,65,66,67,68]. The new Israeli state also passed laws that prevented Palestinians from returning to their homes or claiming their land, effectively confiscating it. The Nakba has had lasting consequences for both Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians continue to demand the right of return for refugees and the recognition of their right to self-determination. Israel maintains that it has a right to exist as a Jewish state and defends its actions as necessary for its security. The Nakba remains a highly contested and emotional issue in the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict [63,64,65,66,67,68].
Abdo [69] explores the “Palestine exception” phenomenon in North America and Israel. As a result, the Palestinian struggle for self-determination is rendered invisible or distorted, leaving little agency for their community to fight for recognition. The author argues that this is achieved through constructing and maintaining racial hierarchies and narratives that exclude and marginalize Palestinians [69]. The article examines how this process operates in the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its impact on Palestinians living in North America [69]. The article also examines how the “Palestine exception” manifests in different arenas, including academia, media, and politics. Abdo highlights how pro-Palestinian activism is often suppressed, and Palestinian voices are excluded from mainstream conversations [69]. The author also discusses the role of social media in amplifying Palestinian narratives and challenging dominant representations of the conflict.
Muhareb and colleagues [70] focuses on the issue of statelessness and its impact on the health of Palestinian children living in East Jerusalem. First, the authors introduce the concept of “unchilding”, a term coined to describe denying Palestinian children their childhood through statelessness and other forms of oppression [70]. The authors specifically focus on Palestinian children living in East Jerusalem, who face challenges due to Israel’s policies towards their neighborhoods. What is essential is that the article provides historical background on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and the specific ways in which Palestinian children in Jerusalem have been affected by Israeli policies [70]. These examples include the revocation of residency permits, home demolitions, and denying essential services such as healthcare and education. Muhareb and authors importantly highlight the negative impacts of “unchilding” on the health and well-being of Palestinian children, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder [70]. The authors further argue that these policies contribute to the “unchilding” of Palestinian children, as they are denied the basic rights and protections afforded to children in other parts of the world.
Nassar [71] explores the political and cultural consequences of the Nakba (the forced displacement of Palestinians in 1948) and how it is denied and distorted in contemporary conversation. Nassar argues that Nakba denialism is a central component of Israeli nationalist ideology and mobilization of anti-Arab racism [71]. Specifically, Nassar examines the role of the novel Exodus (1958) by Leon Uris, which he used to argue and play a grave role in constructing the myth of Israeli victimhood and delegitimizing Palestinian claims to land as well as their sovereignty [71]. How Nassar provides a detailed analysis of Uris’ novel draws on Orientalist tropes and constructs Palestinians as barbaric and expendable. What is also important is how the novel constructs Jewish settlers as heroic and deserving of the land they occupy [71]. Nassar further explores how Exodus has been mobilized in Israeli and American politics to justify Israeli actions in Palestine. Additionally, he examines how the novel has been deployed in campaigns to deny Palestinian refugee rights and obscure the reality of the Nakba. Finally, Nassar brings up several cases to challenge this narrative, including testimonies from Palestinian refugees who were forcibly expelled from their homes, historical documents that show how Zionist forces used violence and intimidation to drive Palestinians out, and Israeli archives that reveal the deliberate destruction of Palestinian villages and communities [71]. What Nassar challenges with historical documentation is that these counter-narratives can challenge the dominant conversation and create new political action and solidarity possibilities.
Sasa [72] explores the concept of “green colonialism” and its impact on Palestinian communities, where the Israeli state uses environmentalism as a tool of occupation and control over Palestinian land. The author further uses the policy of “green colonialism”, which involves the implantation of forests and parks to expand its control over Palestinian land [72]. Sasa further asserts that these green spaces serve as a tool for displacing Palestinians from their ancestral lands while simultaneously creating a false image of Israel as an environmental leader. To challenge this, the author proposes the concept of “A’wna”, which refers to traditional Palestinian agricultural practices prioritizing biodiversity, sustainability, and community self-sufficiency [72]. The author argues that A’wna offers an alternative to the green colonialism model, as it prioritizes Palestinians’ needs and rights while promoting environmental sustainability [72]. The article uses examples from the West Bank and Gaza Strip to demonstrate how A’wna has successfully resisted Israeli land grabs and preserved Palestinian cultural heritage [72].
Lastly, Weiner [73] argues that introductory sociology textbooks tend to dehumanize Palestinians and erase their existence, perpetuating the Israeli state’s narrative of erasure and denial of Palestinian rights. The author analyzes six popular sociology textbooks used in US universities and finds they ignore the Palestinian perspective entirely or depict them as violent, irrational, and unworthy of sympathy or recognition [73]. Weiner further argues that these textbooks complicate the erasure and dehumanization of Palestinians and call for a more inclusive and critical approach to teaching the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in sociology classes. Finally, he suggests that a more balanced and nuanced approach is needed to agitate the dominant narrative and promote a better understanding of the complex realities of the historic conflict [73].

2.8. Bangladesh Genocide 1971

The Bangladesh genocide, also known as the Liberation War of Bangladesh, occurred in 1971 during the Bangladesh Liberation War [74,75,76]. The conflict arose due to the Pakistani military government’s refusal to recognize the results of the 1970 election, which saw the Awami League, a Bengali nationalist party, win a majority in the national assembly. In response, the military launched a crackdown on Bengali civilians, including intellectuals, students, and politicians, which quickly escalated into a full-scale war [74,75,76]. The genocide resulted in the deaths of an estimated 300,000 to 3 million people and the displacement of millions more [74,75,76]. During the war, the Pakistani military and local collaborators committed numerous atrocities against Bengali civilians, including rape, torture, and mass killings. In addition, the Pakistani army also targeted Bengali Hindus, leading to a massive exodus of Hindus to India [74,75,76]. The genocide ended on December 16, 1971, when India intervened in support of Bangladesh and defeated the Pakistani military, creating the independent state of Bangladesh [74,75,76].
Bose [77] examines the role of India in the Bangladesh Liberation War (1971), which resulted in the creation of an independent Bangladesh. Bose argues that India’s intervention was based on ethical imperatives and the strategic significance of asymmetric power [77]. The article analyzes India’s diplomatic and military interventions and how they contributed to the success of the liberation movement. Bose argues that strategic interests and ethical imperatives drove India’s intervention, as it sought to protect the Bengali population from the genocide and ethnic cleansing perpetrated by the Pakistani military [77]. The role of the international community’s response is critical in this analysis. Bose carefully looked at the conflict, particularly the role of the United States and China in providing military and diplomatic support to Pakistan during this Liberation War [77].
Haq [78] analyzes the representation of historical events in Bangladeshi cinema, specifically the absence of the 1947 partition of India and the abundance of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War [78]. The author argues that this representation reflects Bangladesh’s political and cultural context and how the nation’s history has been constructed [78]. The article analyzes several films that depict the Liberation War and explores their themes and narratives. Analyzing the usage of the cinema not only gives the article a unique perspective but also shows the readers an inside view of how the Bangladeshi community used this medium to express their memories and educate younger generations about what happened in 1971 [78].
Hossain [79] examines the principle of legality in the context of the International Crimes Tribunals (ICT) Act of 1973 in Bangladesh. The author argues that the act’s definition of genocide is too broad and violates the principle of legality, which requires that crimes and punishments be clearly defined by law [79]. The article examines the definition of genocide under international law and how it applies to the 1971 conflict in Bangladesh. It also explores the challenges faced by the ICT in defining and prosecuting genocide, particularly in the absence of an international definition of the term at the time of the conflict [79]. What is vital about Hossain’s article is that there was attention dedicated to the issues surrounding the definition of genocide and the critical role that the ICT played in understanding the importance of a more detailed definition to be applied to what can be termed “genocide”.
Jana [80] shows a re-examination of the events surrounding the Indian Partition of 1947 and argues that it should be viewed as a genocide [80]. The author explores the causes of the partition and the violence that occurred and analyzes the actions of the British colonial government and Indian political leaders. Jana also discusses the impact of the partition on communal relations in India and Pakistan. The article further examines the factors that contributed to the genocide during the 1947 Partition, the British colonial legacy, religious nationalism, and the role of political leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah [80]. Finally, Jana argues that the Partition was not an inevitable outcome of decolonization but rather the result of specific political choices and the Indian nationalist movement not prioritizing human rights. Jana also challenges the conventional view that the Partition was a “two-nation theory” based on religious differences between Hindus and Muslims [80]. Instead, the author argues that the violence and genocide were more complex and driven by multiple factors, including economic and political interests and communal tensions.
Lastly, Shrivastava’s [81] article critically explores the treatment of abducted and raped Bengali women during the 1947 Partition of India. The author argues that the violence against women during this period can be seen as a form of genocidal violence and is linked to biopolitics and the control of populations. What is essential to this argument is that the violence against women was a deliberate tactic to destroy the social fabric of Bengali society and communal fuel tensions [81]. Genocides often target not only the people but the very structure of their cultural systems to eradicate the marginalized group and further ensure eraser fully. The article analyzes women’s experiences during and after the partition and examines the legal framework for addressing gender violence in India [81]. The experiences of these women and the targeted gendered violence that was taken against them and their bodies must be acknowledged and addressed because of how long-lasting these effects are on them and their communities.

2.9. Ethiopia and the Red Terror 1977

In the late 1970s, Ethiopia experienced a period of political turmoil known as the Red Terror, characterized by the Marxist Derg regime’s brutal campaign against dissenters and opposition. The Red Terror resulted in widespread human rights abuses, disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings, particularly targeting the Amhara and Tigray ethnic groups [82,83]. The Ethiopian Red Terror has been extensively analyzed by scholars, with sources such as Human Rights Watch reports [82,83], eyewitness accounts, academic studies [84,85], and memoirs [86] shedding light on the regime’s violence and lasting impact on Ethiopian society. Despite efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, many remain unaccountable, perpetuating the legacy of the violence in present-day Ethiopia.
Baldwin [87] argues that the women’s stories challenge the dominant narrative of the conflict as a simple issue between government forces and rebel fighters. Instead, the women’s experiences reveal how the conflict has impacted civilians in various ways, including forced displacement, sexual violence, and the loss of loved ones [87]. The women’s experiences also challenged traditional gender roles and expectations as they took on non-traditional roles as fighters and providers for their families. What is unique about the article is that it built on the issues that had taken place in the 1974 revolution and how it still seeps through to the difficulties still facing Ethiopian citizens now with the new violence in Tigray, Ethiopia [87].
Ibreck and colleagues [88] aim to explore the applicability of the concept of genocide to the case of what has been called the “Red Terror” in Ethiopia in 1974. The authors situate Ethiopia in the broader context of genocide studies and debates, which presents unique challenges and complexities, including the diversity of ethnic groups, the contested nature of political power, and the historical legacy of violence and oppression [88]. They further explore different perspectives on classifying and understanding the various forms of violence and mass atrocities in Ethiopia, including the 1974 revolution, the Ethio-Somali War, and more recent conflicts in the Tigray region [88].
Karas [89] examines the concept of mass killings and argues that “consolidative mass killings” should describe situations where violence is used to solidify power and control over a group or population [89]. The author also discusses how authoritarian regimes often carry out these killings and how they can lead to long-term social and political impacts. Karas continues by focusing on “consolidative mass killings” and how it differs from other forms of mass violence [89]. Karas further argues through analysis that consolidative mass killings are distinct from other forms of mass violence because they are not aimed solely at eliminating a particular group or population. Instead, the primary goal is consolidating power and maintaining control over the country or region [89]. What is essential to the article is that the author provides historical examples, such as the genocide in Rwanda, to illustrate the differences between consolidative mass killings and other forms of mass violence [89]. Karas also examines the relationship between consolidative mass killings and the international community, arguing that the concept is vital for understanding the international community’s response to mass violence [89].
Maru [90] examines the transformation that has taken place in Ethiopia since the end of the country’s civil war in 1991 [90]. The article focuses on the evolution of the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), and the changes in Ethiopian society during this period. Maru argues that internal divisions and the legacy of the civil war have hampered the EPRDF’s efforts to build a multi-ethnic and multi-party democracy [90]. However, it also suggests that there are reasons for optimism. The recent rise of a new generation of politicians and activists has sparked a renewed interest in democratic reform and social justice. Maru also analyzes the EPRDF’s efforts to build a democratic system based on ethnic federalism and multi-party politics. The article then discusses recent political developments in Ethiopia, including the rise of the Oromo and Amhara protest movements and the subsequent reforms that have taken place under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed [90]. Maru is also critical of these positive developments. Nevertheless, Ethiopia faces persistent ethnic tensions, economic inequality, and political instability. Maru finally suggests that the country’s future will depend on its ability to address these issues and build a more inclusive and democratic society [90]. The article drew on the experiences of six women directly affected by the conflict and participated in different ways, either as fighters or as civilians caught up in the violence. The article explores how women’s experiences challenge traditional gender roles and expectations and how their narratives reveal the complexities and nuances of the conflict.
Wiebel [91] analyzes the violence and atrocities during Ethiopia’s revolution from 1974–1979. The author compares the violence in Ethiopia to other revolutionary contexts, such as the French and Russian revolutions [91]. What is essential is how Wiebel highlights the unique characteristics of the Ethiopian case because of how the perpetrators implemented violence amongst the revolutionaries. The article also discusses how the violence during this period led to long-term political and social impacts in Ethiopia. Finally, the article focuses on the violence and atrocities committed during this period and proposes a comparative framework to analyze them. Wiebel argues that the violence in Ethiopia during this period can be compared to other instances of revolutionary violence, such as the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian genocide, and Stalinist purges [91]. Wiebel also emphasizes the critical role of ideology in shaping violence and its targets, as well as how violence and terror were used to enforce and maintain power [91]. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the violence in Ethiopia during this period and significantly contributes to the comparative study of genocide and mass violence.

2.10. Sikh Genocide 1984

The Sikh genocide of 1984, also known as the Delhi Pogrom, was a violent event in India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. It resulted in the deaths of thousands of Sikhs across the country, particularly in Delhi [92,93,94,95,96,97]. The attacks were carried out by mob members of the majority Hindu community, who were incited by political leaders associated with the Indian National Congress Party. Scholars have analyzed various factors that led to the genocide, including the historical tensions between Sikhs and Hindus, the political and economic marginalization of the Sikh community, and political leaders’ use of hate speech. The role of the Indian government and its security forces in instigating and facilitating the attacks has also been a subject of debate [92,93,94,95,96,97].
Choudry and colleagues [98] critically analyze the role of foreign intervention in the Sikh genocide of 1984, which refers to the mass killing of Sikhs in India following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards [98]. The authors argue that foreign intervention was initially considered necessary to prevent further violence but ultimately failed. This failure to address the root cause of the conflict may have even worsened the situation. In addition, the authors argue that while foreign intervention was necessary to bring attention to the atrocities committed against Sikhs, it was ineffective in achieving justice for the victims [98]. The authors also critically explore the political and economic factors that influenced foreign intervention in the aftermath of the genocide and discuss the implications of foreign intervention for future cases of mass violence [98]. What was a critical critique was the importance of developing a more nuanced understanding of the complex factors that shape responses to such atrocities.
Choudry and colleagues’ [99] second article of 2022 critically examines the role of media reportage in shaping the understanding of the 1984 Sikh genocide and its implications for the national security of the Indian state. The authors argue that the media coverage of the events was biased and failed to accurately report the extent of the violence against the Sikh community [99]. They also analyze various sources, including newspaper articles, government reports, and interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses. The authors also explore how the media framed the events, using language stigmatizing and demonizing Sikhs [99]. Finally, the authors provide a historical analysis of media reportage on the events leading up to the genocide, including the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the subsequent violence against Sikhs [99]. What is essential to this article is how they argue that this bias contributed to a lack of accountability for the perpetrators of the violence and weakened efforts to promote reconciliation and healing [99]. The article highlights the responsibility of the media to report accurate and impartial coverage in promoting accountability and reconciliation after instances of mass violence.
Dhattiwala [100] explores the reasons behind neighbors’ inconsistent behavior during incidents of communal violence. The author focuses on the anti-Sikh violence in Delhi in 1984 and the anti-Muslim violence in Ahmedabad in 2002 [100]. The author identifies situational factors that could influence neighbor behavior by analyzing data from interviews and surveys conducted with the victims, perpetrators, and rescuers. The author further argues that certain situational factors, such as proximity, prior relationships, and identity, can impact neighbor behavior during incidents of communal violence [100]. One of the most important things that the article also highlights is the importance of local norms and values, which shape the responses of individuals and communities during these incidents [100]. Overall, Dhattiwala’s research adds to the unique understanding of the complex and often unpredictable nature of neighbor behavior during incidents of communal violence and the role of situational factors and local norms in shaping responses to violence.
Ray [101] argues that this event was not just a “riot” or “communal violence” but rather a targeted attack on the Sikh community by the Indian state in the aftermath of the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards [101]. First, Ray uses the framework of event, memory, and metaphor to analyze the various narratives and representations of the pogroms [101]. Second, the author argues that pre-existing communal tensions, political maneuvering, and state complicity shaped the event. Third, the memory of the event has been constructed in various ways by different groups, including the state, the Sikh community, and human rights activists. Finally, Ray analyzes the use of metaphor to describe and understand the event, including the term “genocide” by some Sikh activists [101]. Overall, Ray’s analysis highlights the complex nature of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms and the importance of understanding the event in its historical and political context.
Finally, Sonne and colleagues [102] examine and analyze the experiences of Sikh asylum seekers in the United States after the genocide. The authors argue that Sikh asylum seekers face unique challenges in the asylum process due to the cultural and historical context of the persecution in Punjab, India [102]. First, the article provides historical background on the political and social issues that have led to the persecution of Sikhs in Punjab, resulting in the genocide perpetrated against them. Further, the article draws on personal narratives from Sikh asylum seekers, as well as interviews with attorneys and other professionals who work with this population [102]. Sonne argue that the US government should take a more nuanced and informed approach to process Sikh asylum claims [102]. What is most important is to consider the specific cultural and historical context of the persecution in Punjab [102]. They also call for better education and awareness about Sikh persecution and culture among asylum officers and immigration judges.

2.11. Rohingya Genocide 2017

The Rohingya crisis is a current humanitarian crisis that started in 2017 in Myanmar. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority group, have faced discrimination and persecution from the Buddhist majority for decades [103]. The Myanmar military conducted a violent crackdown on the Rohingya in August 2017, which displaced hundreds of thousands of Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh. The United Nations has described the situation as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and a “possible genocide” [103]. Scholars have identified various causes of the conflict, including historical, political, and economic factors. British colonialism in the region created divisions between different ethnic groups, contributing to the persecution of the Rohingya [104]. The military has also played a significant role in perpetuating the conflict and suppressing the Rohingya [102]. Additionally, some scholars have argued that Buddhist nationalism has fueled anti-Rohingya sentiment among the majority Buddhist population in Myanmar. The situation remains unresolved despite international aid and support for the Rohingya refugees. Scholars and policymakers continue to debate effective strategies for resolving the crisis, including diplomatic pressure on the Myanmar government, economic sanctions, and refugee support [103,104,105,106].
Anwary [107] focuses on using sexual violence as a weapon of genocide against the Rohingya women in Myanmar. First, the author argues that sexual violence is used to terrorize, humiliate, and control the Rohingya population and eliminate their ethnic identity [107]. Next, the article provides a historical background of the Rohingya genocide and the use of sexual violence as a warfare tactic, drawing on reports and interviews with survivors and witnesses. The author also highlights the impact of sexual violence on the physical and psychological well-being of the survivors and the larger Rohingya community, including stigma and exclusion [107]. The article lastly calls for the international community to recognize sexual violence as a crime of genocide and take action to prevent its recurrence. Garrido [108] examines the Rohingya genocide from a constructivist perspective.
Garrido [108] argues that the crisis was driven by a lack of recognition of the Rohingya community’s identity as citizens of Myanmar. The author analyzes the role of Myanmar’s government, military, and civil society and their role during the genocide [108]. One of the aspects of this article which is essential to further understanding the genocide is highlighting the impact of identity politics, nationalism, and social constructionism on the perpetration of violence against the Rohingya people. Other factors which were Garrido argues that the genocide was driven by a set of conceptual elements that legitimized violence against the Rohingya, including Islamophobia, exclusionary nationalism, and a particular conception of citizenship that excluded the Rohingya as non-Burmese [108]. The article also examines the international community’s responses to the crisis and its limitations in preventing the Rohingya genocide.
Kingston and colleagues [109] explore the role of language policies that fueled the genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar. They argue that anti-Rohingya language policies have been a significant factor in shaping the perceptions and attitudes of the Burmese population towards the Rohingya, enabling the government to portray them as a threat to national security and to justify violence [109]. One of the Myanmar government’s policies was the denial of Rohingya ethnic identity, the use of derogatory terms to describe them, and the exclusion of the Rohingya language from official documents and education [109]. They argue that these policies create a culture of marginalization and dehumanization that ultimately facilitates genocide. What is essential to this is how the authors provide historical and political context for the situation of the Rohingya people, tracing the roots of their marginalization to colonial-era policies and the military dictatorship that ruled Myanmar for several decades [109]. The article showcases the steps which were taken to otherize the Rohingya clearly and later implement the genocidal policies attacking them physically and culturally as well.
Martuscelli and colleagues [110] write about the Rohingya’s everyday acts of resistance and survival in Myanmar in the face of genocide. The authors use a qualitative approach, with interviews and focus groups with Rohingya refugees, to document strategies that the Rohingya use to resist and survive the violence and discrimination they face [110]. First, the authors interviewed Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and analyzed their narratives to identify resistance patterns. Further, the article argues that Rohingya resistance takes many forms, including acts of defiance, survival strategies, and the preservation of cultural identity. The article also discusses the limitations of these instances of resistance in the context of genocide and how the international community can support the Rohingya [110]. Unfortunately, like other examples of genocides, the authors note that these acts of resistance often go unrecognized by the international community, which tends to focus on armed resistance or political activism. Overall, the article provides valuable insights into how the Rohingya community is resisting the genocide perpetrated against them, despite the immense challenges they face [110]. Furthermore, it highlights the importance of recognizing and supporting this resistance as part of a broader effort to end the ongoing violence and ensure justice for the Rohingya people.
Uddin [110] provides an in-depth examination of the genocide of the Rohingya in Myanmar, drawing on interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, and experts. What is essential is that the book presents a collection of firsthand accounts of Rohingya individuals who survived the genocide and scholarly analyses of the political and social factors that led to their persecution [110]. The author documents the systematic violence and discrimination faced by the Rohingya and analyzes how historical, political, and social factors have shaped the crisis. Uddin argues that the Rohingya’s status as an ethnic and religious minority made them particularly vulnerable to persecution by the Myanmar government and its military [110]. The author also discusses the role of international actors in responding to the crisis, including the United Nations, and neighboring countries such as Bangladesh. What is vital about this book is how it ultimately serves as a call to action for the international community to support the Rohingya people and hold the Myanmar government accountable for its actions.

3. Conclusions

This genocide literature review aims to encourage other descendants of survivors to work together to bring support and encouragement to generate works about their families’ experiences during these horrific events. Collaborations with other members to create written work, and through other mediums, will create works that may help the public engage with these tragic but essential histories. Through these resources, such as information websites, interviews with survivors, museums, documentaries, and movies, many of the genocides will not only be easily accessible but will also fill in gaps where they have been noted. At the end of this review there is summary of resources presented in Appendix A. One of the stark observations was how little the Ethiopian Red Terror was addressed on many well-known genocide websites, and there was very little which would help with aiding educators to create a comprehensive curriculum. The poignant “Red Terror” Martyrs’ Memorial Museum in Addis Ababa does not have a website to showcase the memory work and memorials housed there.
Similarly, the Herero and Namaqua genocide lacked similar resources compared to more represented genocides, with very few educational videos of survivors, short documentary clips from reputable sources, and an education component. Surprisingly absent from online resources and multimedia is one of the more recent genocides, the Rohingya, discussed above in the review. While many of these genocides discussed did take place many over 100 years ago, there is still time to build these crucial resources to educate the public further about these critical moments in human history. Finally, it must be noted that while this is the first volume and did not cover other massacres and genocides before or during the 20th and 21st centuries, we see this review as an open invitation to serve as a collaborative intention for other scholars to reach out for further volumes.

Author Contributions

Conceptualization, L.M.D.; writing—original draft preparation, L.M.D. and J.R.G.; writing—review and editing, L.M.D. and J.R.G. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.


This research received no external funding.

Institutional Review Board Statement

Not applicable.

Informed Consent Statement

Not applicable.

Data Availability Statement

No new data were created, data sharing is not applicable to this article.


The authors would like to acknowledge the genocides not discussed in this work that took place before, during, and after the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. There is no purposeful intent to neglect or discuss these, such as the European Jews during the Holocaust or others that may have been missed. Instead, this work aims to bring attention to genocides that are not as publicly known to aid in the education of the public and academia. The main aim and future directions will be to bring all survivors and their descendants together to educate, inform the public, and to come together to celebrate survivors and mourn the ones we lost but will never forget in future compendiums. The authors would also like to thank Elise J. Adams for always listening and bouncing ideas with Molly Zuckerman and co-author Jesse Goliath for their steadfast support, and encouragement, and finally, family who supported this work. A special thank you goes to Rowan Anderson and Wren Ayers, who helped give mental health breaks to the primary author by remembering that sometimes you need to take a break and play. Finally, the authors thank the editorial team and the reviewers for their insightful comments.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Appendix A

Appendix A was created as a master list for retrieving the sources cited from this review. It has been divided by each genocide chronologically to access sources quickly and to have options for multimedia or websites, which would be helpful for curriculum development or to add ones missed in already-developed curricula put into practice.
Herero and Namaqua 1904
Sayfo 1914
Armenian 1915
Holodomor 1932
Roma 1935
Nanjing/Nanking 1937
Palestinian 1948
Bangladesh 1971
Ethiopia 1977
Sikh 1984
Rohingya 2017


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Table 1. (modified from Ref 2 Genocide Watch).
Table 1. (modified from Ref 2 Genocide Watch).
10 Stages of Genocide
1. Classification Us versus them.
2. Symbolization Naming or physical symbols to differentiate.
3. Discrimination Laws which restrict citizens or human beings from exercising their full rights.
4. Dehumanization Using words to portray victims as non-human, making elimination of them a “cleansing” rather than murder.
5. Organization Hate groups, armies, and militias organize.
6. Polarization Moderates are targeted, especially those of the perpetrating group.
7. Preparation Plans for killing and deportation made by leaders, perpetrators are trained and armed.
8. Persecution Victims are identified, arrested, transported, concentrated into prisons, ghettos, or concentration camps where they are tortured and murdered.
9. Extermination Intentional destruction, in whole or in part, of a nation, ethnic, racial, or religious group.
10. Denial The continuation of a genocide by attempting to destroy the victims’ group psychologically and culturally. Denying its members even the memory of the murders of their relatives.
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Diboyan, L.M.; Goliath, J.R. Publicly Underrepresented Genocides of the 20th and 21st Century: A Review. Humans 2023, 3, 82-105.

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Diboyan, Larra M., and Jesse R. Goliath. 2023. "Publicly Underrepresented Genocides of the 20th and 21st Century: A Review" Humans 3, no. 2: 82-105.

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