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Country Case Studies

The cases here represent areas of focus for the Simon-Skjodt Center and are not an exhaustive list of mass atrocities in the past and present. You will find information here on historical cases of genocide and other atrocities, places where mass atrocities are currently underway or populations are under threat, and areas where early warning signs call for concern and preventive action.

  • The Taliban are persecuting and committing other egregious human rights violations against ethnic and religious minorities, women and girls, and perceived opposition groups since retaking control of Afghanistan in August 2021. ISIS-K, an Islamic State affiliate, have also systematically targeted ethnic and religious minorities, particularly the Hazara community. Growing restrictions on targeted groups put civilians at great risk.

    Recent resources
  • Between spring 1915 and autumn 1916, the Ottoman Empire arrested, deported, conducted mass killings, and created conditions intended to cause widespread death among the country’s Armenian Christian citizens, most of whom were living in the territory of modern-day Turkey. Between 664,000 and 1.2 million Armenian men, women, and children died in the genocide.

    Historical case
  • Bangladesh emerged as a secular democracy in 1971 after a bloody independence war from Pakistan that was marked by mass killings by the Pakistani army and its collaborators. Our 2017 report examines scenarios in which Bangladesh could plausibly experience large-scale, systematic attacks on civilians, and explores ways to help avert these scenarios.

  • An estimated 100,000 people were killed during the conflict in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995, including the July 1995 genocide of 8,000 Bosnian Muslims from Srebrenica. Learn about what happened and what the international community could have done to prevent it.

    Historical case
  • Our bearing witness trips and reports detail the genocide committed against Burma’s Muslim Rohingya minority in 2017 as well as the continued threats to them and other religious communities in Burma.

    Recent resources
  • Between 1975 and 1979, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge subjected the country’s citizens to forced labor, persecution, and execution in the name of the regime’s ruthless agrarian ideology. Almost two million people—approximately one third of the country’s population—died in the “killing fields.” Learn more about this and the quest for justice in the decades since.

    Historical case
  • When English-speaking civilians began protesting discriminatory government policies in 2016, government security forces cracked down violently. Now, these forces and armed separatist groups from the English-speaking population are fighting. Each side is targeting civilians it perceives as disloyal. More than 6,000 people have been killed and over 600,000 people internally displaced since 2017. Learn more about civilians currently at risk of mass atrocities.

  • What began in 2013 as political violence initiated by rebel groups opposing the government of the Central African Republic took on a religious dimension with groups and individuals being targeted because of their Christian or Muslim identity. Read conflict background, a bearing witness account of the violence, and a study on the US government's response to the mass atrocity crisis.

  • The Chinese government is systematically persecuting Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. The Museum is gravely concerned that the Chinese government may be committing genocide against the Uyghurs. There is also reasonable basis to believe that the government of China is committing crimes against humanity. Learn more about the conflict history and current threats to civilians.

    Recent resources
  • Côte D'Ivoire has a history of crimes against humanity and other mass atrocities, particularly during electoral periods. There were many concerns in the run-up to the 2020 election, where violence ultimately was prevented, but thousands were forced to flee and 85 people were killed. Political actors within Côte d’Ivoire must maintain short-term peace and stability while also addressing long-term grievances, democracy, and risks for renewed violence. Learn more in our 2019 assessment of early warning signs.

  • More than five million civilians have died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in a series of complex wars and conflicts. Most have died from preventable diseases as a result of the collapse of infrastructure, lack of food and health care, and displacement. Learn more about the history of the conflict.

  • A civil war that started in November 2020 in Ethiopia’s Tigray region has devolved into a brutal conflict that threatens the wellbeing of millions. The conflict includes multiple armed actors, several of whom are alleged to be committing mass atrocities. From the beginning of the war, witnesses reported the intentional targeting of civilians, often along ethnic lines. In March 2021, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken publicly stated that ethnic cleansing was being committed in Western Tigray.

    Recent resources
  • India is the world’s largest democracy with over 1.4 billion people. It is a key economic and security partner to the US and others and plays a significant role in the region and globally. The future of its pluralistic democracy is important for India and the world. Since coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party have built considerable public support, but have also promoted a Hindu nationalist ideology that depicts India’s minority Muslim population as a threat to India's security and national identity. Preventive efforts to address the warning signs and avoid the risk of mass atrocities will safeguard both potential victims and regional and international security.

    Recent resources
  • Indonesia is currently experiencing an increase in political tensions, extremism, and violent conflict in the Papua region. There are early warning signs of large-scale violence against civilians. Violence between Indigenous Papuan supporters of Papua’s independence movement and the Indonesian government has intensified, and is further complicated by the increasing fragmentation within Indigenous Papuan groups as well as increasing migration into Papua.

  • In 2014, the self-proclaimed Islamic State conducted a violent campaign against civilians in northern Iraq, targeting ethnic and religious minorities and committing genocide against the Yezidi people. The violence displaced more than 800,000 people and resulted in the deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians. Read our reports on the violence and the situation for survivors in the aftermath.

    Recent resources
  • Mali is currently facing numerous armed conflicts. Violence between herders and farmers in the country’s central regions continues to escalate, taking on an increasingly ethnic tone. Mali has faced severe political instability in recent years, including coups in August 2020 and May 2021. Learn about the grievances that continue to drive ongoing conflict in Mali in our 2018 assessment of early warning signs of mass atrocities.

  • In 1994, between 500,000 and one million Rwandans were massacred in a genocide when a Hutu extremist-led government launched a plan to wipe out the country’s entire Tutsi minority and any others who opposed their policies. Learn more about what happened and what the international community could have done to prevent it.

    Historical Case
  • In 2013, just two years after South Sudan became an independent country, a civil war erupted. Almost 400,000 people were killed and nearly four million people were displaced. Today, the country faces great challenges as it seeks to implement a fragile peace deal and resolve ongoing ethnic conflicts. Learn more about what can be done to prevent future atrocities and pursue justice for past crimes.

  • Since the 1950s, the Arab-dominated government of Sudan has tried to impose its control over populations from the nation's more culturally, religiously, and linguistically diverse regions outside the capital. More than 2.5 million civilians have been killed in a succession of brutal conflicts across many regions—including genocide in Darfur against the Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit ethnic groups between 2003-2005. Learn more about the conflict history, violence, and international response.

    Recent resources
  • Since March 2011, the conflict in Syria has cost the lives of nearly 500,000 people, displaced millions more, and involved numerous atrocities and crimes against humanity. Our reports outline the atrocities the Syrian regime is committing against its own people and threats that remain for those still living inside the country.

  • Since launching its military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian forces have perpetrated attacks against civilian populations. There is a reasonable basis to conclude that these attacks constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. In justifying this attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin has misrepresented and misappropriated Holocaust history by claiming falsely that democratic Ukraine needs to be “denazified.”

    Recent resources
  • Zimbabwe’s ruling party has used mass atrocities against civilians to repress political opponents and consolidate power since the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1980. Our 2016 report assesses the risk for future mass atrocities in Zimbabwe as the country’s president consolidates authority after seizing power in a military coup.