- Created by: loismarie
- Created on: 07-03-19 09:09
Although many different ethnic and religious groups had resided together for 40 years under Yugoslavia’s repressive communist government, this changed when the country began to collapse during the fall of communism in the early 1990s. The provinces of Slovenia and Croatia declared independence, and war quickly followed between Serbia and these breakaway republics. Ethnic tensions were brought to the forefront, and people who had lived peacefully for years as neighbours turned against each other and took up arms. When Bosnia attempted to secede, Serbia – under Slobodan Miloševic’s leadership – invaded with the claim that it was there to “free” fellow Serbian Orthodox Christians living in Bosnia.
Starting in April 1992, Serbia set out to “ethnically cleanse” Bosnian territory by systematically removing all Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks. Serbia, together with ethnic Bosnian Serbs, attacked Bosniaks with former Yugoslavian military equipment and surrounded Sarajevo, the capital city. Many Bosniaks were driven into concentration camps, where women and girls were systematically gang-***** and other civilians were tortured, starved and murdered.
July 1995, Serbs committed the largest massacre in Europe since World War II in one such area, Srebrenica. An estimated 23,000 women, children and elderly people were put on buses and driven to Muslim-controlled territory, while 8,000 “battle-age” men were detained and slaughtered. The so-called safe area of Srebrenica fell without a single shot fired by the UN.
By April 1975, a Communist group known as the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, seized control of Cambodia, renaming the country Democratic Kampuchea. Civil war had existed in Cambodia since 1970. Between 1970 and 1973, during the Vietnam War, the United States bombed much of the countryside of Cambodia and manipulated Cambodian politics to support the rise of pro-West Lon Nol as the leader of Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge used the United States’ actions to recruit followers and as an excuse for the brutal policies they exercised when in power.
The Khmer Rouge’s polices were guided by its belief that the citizens of Cambodia had been tainted by exposure to outside ideas, especially by the capitalist West. The Khmer Rouge persecuted the educated — such as doctors, lawyers, and current or former military and police. Christian, Buddhist and Muslim citizens also were specifically targeted. In an effort to create a society without competition, in which people worked for the common good, the Khmer Rouge placed people in collective living arrangements — or communes — and enacted “re-education” programs to encourage the commune lifestyle. People were divided into categories that reflected the trust…