Division, Denial, and Genocide

Credit: Express Tribune

Dr. Gregory Stanton, Founding President of Genocide Watch, discusses how Modi’s India is treading a dangerous path towards mass persecution

The Express-Tribune (Karachi, Pakistan)

February 21, 2021

By Hammad Sarfraz

When the history of genocide is finally written, it often seems like it manifested out of thin air. Like the concept of temporary insanity in all but settled criminal cases, popular imagination conjures up images of fleeting madness on a national scale.

But genocide, like all developments in history, is a gradual process. Its foundations are laid brick by brick by generations of ideologues until the divide between ‘us and them’ reaches fever pitch. Hidden by the sands of time are the tales of the politics of division, and of mass deception and denial across generations that cultivate the atmosphere for reprehensible atrocities.

In 1996, on the heels of genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia, the founder and president of the non-governmental organisation, Genocide Watch, Dr Gregory H Stanton outlined the ‘eight stages of genocide’ in a briefing paper he authored. “Genocide is a process that develops in eight stages that are predictable, but not inexorable,” he wrote at the time. “It is not a linear process, but logically the later stages must be preceded by the earlier stages. Logically prior stages continue to operate,” he elaborated. But much more importantly, he stressed that “at each stage, preventive measures can stop it.”

By 2012, Dr Stanton revised the model by identifying two more stages in the process. The new 10-stage framework now reads as follows: Classification, Symbolisation, Discrimination, Dehumanisation, Organisation, Polarisation, Preparation, Persecution, Extermination and Denial.

In the first, communities are divided along lines of ‘us and them’, with any respect stripped from the differences that supposedly characterise the latter. In the second, the ‘other’ is crystallised through the use of symbols and labels. In the third stage, Discrimination, the dominant group uses laws, customs and political powers to deny other groups’ their rights. The fourth, Dehumanisation, sees the dominant community equate other groups to vermin, animals, insects or diseases.

The fifth stage sees the state organise hatred and violence towards non-dominant groups using means like mobs, militias or even, special military or paramilitary units. The sixth sees propaganda reach fever pitch, with ideologues intimidating moderates into silence or support. The seventh lays the groundwork for genocide, as leaders from the dominant group plan a ‘final solution’ to the ‘question’ of a targeted group. In the eighth, victims are identified on ethno-religious grounds and the targeted group is confined to ghettos or concentration camps, where it may be deliberately deprived of resources.

The ninth stage sees the actual mass killing of members of a targeted group. Finally, the tenth stage sees the perpetrators of genocide and members the dominant group deny the crime ever took place. Unless driven from power by force and brought before a tribunal, the perpetrators may then live in impunity. It is important to note that these 10 stages are not linear and can often overlap and occur simultaneously.

The Express Tribune earlier spoke to Dr Stanton regarding the Narendra Modi regime’s systemic heavy-handed treatment of the people of Kashmir (Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). At the time, the American scholar issued a stark warning: ““We believe that the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir have been an extreme case of persecution and could very well lead to genocide.”

Dr Stanton stressed that at present the valley is suffering from a ‘pre-genocidal’ situation and that many of the early stages of the genocide model could very clearly be identified.

What follows is a transcript of the complete conversation The Express Tribune had with Dr Stanton in which he articulated his apprehensions for both the people of IIOJK and Muslims in India along with why he thinks the concept of a ‘global community’ is a myth when it comes to state-sponsored atrocities.

ET: How would you describe the current situation in IIOJK? What stage would you assign to the region?

GS: We believe Kashmir right now is at stage eight, which is persecution. It hasn’t quite reached the level of genocide, but certainly, it is at stage eight.

Kashmir was supposed to be autonomous under Article 370 of the [Indian] Constitution and Prime Minister Modi suspended it. In addition to that, Modi and the Indian government arrested a lot of the local leaders and many are still in jail. The state is under lockdown. The Internet was cut off. It was subjected to a curfew so draconian that one couldn’t even go out. In short it became a police state.

We believe that the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir have been an extreme case of persecution and could very well lead to genocide. We have documented proof that at least 50,000 people have died since 1989. You could say that is already genocide. Article 2B of the Genocide Convention prohibits serious mental and bodily harm upon the members of a group and Article 2C that deals with imposing conditions of life on members of a group that are calculated to bring about the destruction of that group.

You can say that some of the conditions of life imposed on Kashmiri Muslims have reached that level.

It hasn’t reached the level of Rwanda or Cambodia, and some of the other classic genocide cases. So, we call it persecution. But our model is a process model. We don’t treat genocide as an event.

The so-called early stages are already present in Kashmir. Very clearly Muslims are being classified versus Hindus. The dehumanisation stage has also been present and the Modi government has been calling Muslims parasites, terrorists and a lot of other names for some time now. It is also clearly organised. You have the whole Indian army up there in Kashmir – 600,000 troops for a small area – which is absurd.

The next stage, which is polarisation, is also very clear. Kashmiri Muslims have been treated as the other. Then we have the preparation stage and the Indian government and the army have plans to crush a possible uprising in Kashmir.

So many of the early stages of genocide are already present. We don’t wait until it is a full out mass killing campaign. We stress that there are early warning signs of genocide now and that’s what we believe is the situation in Kashmir.

ET: What does a regime achieve by t