Genocide Watch Countries of Concern: July–December 2020


The purpose of this Genocide Watch report on Countries of Special Concern is to report on developments in countries with ongoing genocides and in countries at increased risk for genocidal massacres. Based on developments over the past six months, the countries and territories of most concern are: Afghanistan, Armenia/Azerbaijan, Colombia, China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Libya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Western Sahara, and Yemen.


For the Genocide Watch report covering the first half of 2020 see: Countries of Special Concern: January – July 2020. "Stages" refer to the ten genocidal processes monitored by Genocide Watch: The Ten Stages of Genocide.


Active Emergencies:


Afghanistan

Stages: Organization (5), Preparation (7), Persecution (8), Extermination (9)

In September 2020, Afghan government officials and Taliban negotiators met in Doha to begin long awaited peace talks. Despite this “historic opportunity,” the Taliban have since demonstrated that they are not good faith partners for peace, simultaneously negotiating with the government while escalating violence across the country. The Islamic State in Afghanistan has also increased its targeting of Afghan civilians and religious minorities.


In October, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on an education center in a Shi'a-dominated area of Kabul, killing 24. The group followed this up with an assault on students at Kabul University in November, leaving 35 dead. Later that month, twin bombings killed 14 civilians in the city of Bamiyan, home to many members of the long-targeted Hazara ethnic minority.


Taliban-sponsored violence is on the rise. With the Taliban now openly operating in the capital, Kabul, residents warn they are no longer safe. Due to the Taliban presence, Kabul has experienced a violent “campaign of terror,” including a recent spate of targeted killings of journalists and civil society leaders. Amid this wave of violence, renewed intra-Afghan negotiations were slated to restart in January 2021, but the Taliban haven't shown up.


While President Trump ordered a withdrawal of American troops down to 2,500, President Biden is reviewing that order. Currently 10,000 NATO troops remain in the country to support Afghan government forces. Without them, the Taliban will take over, twenty years of progress in public health, education, and women's rights will be lost, and Afghanistan will again become a global exporter of Islamist terrorism.


Armenia/Azerbaijan

Stages: Persecution (8), Extermination (9), Denial (10)

In late September 2020, Azerbaijani forces invadedthe Armenian Republic of Artsakh. As part of its military assault, Azerbaijan employed tactics that blatantly violated international law, including the use of cluster munitions, white phosphorus, and drone strikes against Armenian civilians and critical infrastructure. These attacks killed hundreds of civilians and forced thousands more to flee to neighboring Armenia.

Azerbaijan, led by Ilham Aliyev and his government, habitually invokes hate speech against Armenians, including active denial of the 1915 Ottoman Genocide of Armenians. On November 10, 2020, a ceasefire was agreed, with Azerbaijan regaining large amounts of territory and the establishment of a Russian peacekeeping force. Azerbaijani troops have broken the ceasefire, and vandalized Armenian cultural heritage sites.

During the armed conflict, Armenian and Artsakh forces shelled Azerbaijani civilians, including a missile attack on Azerbaijan's second-largest city, Ganja. Armenians fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh destroyed their homes, infrastructure, and supplies to prevent returning Azerbaijani displaced persons from resettling.


China

Stages: Discrimination (3), Organization (5), Persecution (8), Extermination (9), Denial (10)

The Chinese government is committing genocide in Xinjiang. Across the region, millions of Uyghurs are being detained in concentration camps, where they endure political indoctrination, forced sterilization, organ harvesting, mass rape, and systematic destruction of their culture, religious beliefs, and right to bear and educate children.


Despite official claims to the contrary, Beijing is expanding its network of camps, now with a suspected 380 facilities across Xinjiang. While attempting to “secularize” detainees, China is also changing the demography and the very landscape of Xinjiang, destroying mosques and religious and cultural heritage sites. In December, a BBC investigation revealed that 570,000 Uyghurs are being subjected to forced labor overseen by the state, picking cotton that provides as much as 85% of China’s cotton and at least 20% of the global