Introduction: Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia



Publication Details

Mayersen, D. and Pohlman, A. (2013). Introduction: Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia. In D. Mayersen and A. Pohlman (Eds.), Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia Legacies and Prevention (pp. 1-31). London: Routledge.

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ISBN: 9780415645119


Genocide and mass atrocities are crimes that have occurred since antiquity, but it is in the modern world that they have acquired their most terrible dimensions. The twentieth century has been labelled the 'century of genocide' for the vast numbers of victims it has claimed. According to some estimates, more than 250 million civilians were victims of genocide and mass atrocities during this period. The terrible events of the Holocaust, of Rwanda and of Stalin's Gulag dominate our understanding of this history. Yet Asia has also been deeply affected. Genocide and mass atrocities have occurred in places such as China (1958-61, 1966-76), East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in 1971, Indonesia (1965-66), Cambodia (1975-79) and East Timor (1975-79). In their aftermath, massive refugee flows, regime changes and secessions have profoundly impacted upon the geopolitical composition of the region. Processes of transitional justice, such as the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) in East Timor and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) have influenced not only how those nations and peoples directly affected respond to their past, but how the region as a whole perceives issues surrounding genocide and mass atrocities. This is particularly important given the very real risk of future calamities in Asia. Genocide Watch's most recent mass atrocity watch list identifies North Korea and Burma (Myanmar) as at the highest level of risk of future genocide, politicide or mass atrocities, while China is also identified as at substantial risk. It is perhaps surprising, therefore, that there have been very few attempts to consider the issue of genocide and mass atrocities with a focus on Asia. In Genocide and Mass Atrocities in Asia: Legacies and Prevention we bring together area specialists and genocide studies scholars to provide the first regional perspective on mass atrocities in Asia.

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