There are conflicting reports and ideas about what constitutes genocide in the modern era, with human rights advocates, scholars and governments often coming to different and opposing conclusions. Despite the constant debate, below is a list of what are widely considered to be the genocides of the modern era.
Death Toll: 1,500,000
The ruling party of the Ottoman Empire, Young Turks, sought to eliminate the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian populations from the Ottoman Empire. Over the course of seven years, the Ottoman government killed 3/4 of the Armenian population in what scholars have called the first modern genocide. The mechanisms used to exterminate the Armenians was used as template by the Nazis, the Khmer Rouge and many others that followed.
Holodomor (Famine) Genocide in Ukraine
Death Toll: 2,500,000 – 7,500,000
The Soviet Government inflicted Soviet Ukraine with a man-made famine that killed an estimated 2.5–7.5 million Ukrainians, with millions more counted in demographic estimates. In an effort to combat the famine plaguing the Soviet Union, the government starved Ukraine and reallocated their food to Russia.
Death Toll: 11,000,000
The Holocaust began after the Nazi Party came to power in Germany under Adolf Hitler. During World War II, 6 million Jews and 5 million Slavs, Roma, disabled, Jehovah’s witnesses, homosexuals, and others were killed. Around 80 % of the Jewish communities in Nazi-controlled Europe were exterminated.
Death Toll: 100,000 – 170,000
The Guatemalan Genocide is also known as the Mayan genocide, or “Silent Holocaust.” During a brutal civil war, forces carried out armed insurrection against the Guatemalan government, who responded by massacring indigenous Guatemalan populations, 83% of which were native Mayan civilians.
Death Toll: 300,000 – 3,000,000
In 1971 Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) fought for independence from Pakistan, during which members of the (West) Pakistani military systematically murdered up to 3,000,000 people, and raped between 200,000 and 400,000 Bangladeshi women in what many consider to be a systematic campaign of genocidal rape.
Death Toll: 1,700,000 – 3,000,000
The Cambodian Genocide began when Khmer Rouge came into power aiming to create a communist classless agrarian utopia. They removed all political dissenters, sending doctors, teachers, educated people, monks, the rich, and other opposition to labor camps, where they were executed.
East Timor Genocide
Death Toll: 150,000
During the 24-year Indonesian Occupation of East Timor, the Indonesian government murdered almost 1/5 of the East Timor population, massacring civilians and burning down 80 percent of the buildings in the country. They employed starvation, the use of Napalm and chemical weapons to poison the food and water supply, and rape and sexual slavery as tactics to terrorize and exterminate the East Timorese.
Death Toll: 50,000 – 200,000
Anfal was a campaign by the Iraqi government to eliminate the Kurdish people from Northern Iraq, who consistently fought for independence and autonomy. Using mass summary executions, mass disappearance, and widespread use of chemical weapons, they killed of tens of thousands of non-combatants–mainly women and children–and destroyed over 2,000 Kurdish villages.
Death Toll: 500,000 – 1,000,000
After civil war broke out in Rwanda, the Hutu majority group killed an estimated 800,000 of the Tutsi minority in 100 days.
Death Toll: 100,000
In 1992, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared its independence. In the resulting conflict, the Serbs killed approximately 100,000 Bosniak and Croatian citizens.
Genocide in Darfur
Death Toll: 300,000
The Government of Sudan murdered 300,000 Darfuri citizens and displaced over 2 million throughout the course of the Second Sudanese Civil War.
Genocide in the Nuba Mountains, Sudan
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on 10 charges, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. In an attempt to rid Sudan of its non-arab population, he has ordered bombings of civilian areas, and barred entry of humanitarian aid.
The Conflict in Syria (Syrian Genocide)
Death Toll: 500,000
The crisis in Syria began in 2011 when a brutal civil war broke out, resulting in the deaths of nearly 500,000 people and the displacement of over 10 million Syrian civilians. The Sunni Muslim majority has borne the brunt of the campaign of mass atrocities carried out by the Syrian government, led by President Bashar Assad.
Genocide of Yazidis by ISIL
Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, aka ISIS) are killing thousands of religious minorities (Yazidis), raping and holding women as sex slaves in Iraq and Syria.