Ethinc Cleansing Essay Research Paper Ethnic Cleansing

Ethinc Cleansing Essay, Research Paper

Ethnic Cleansing is a process in which an advancing army of one ethnic group expels civilians of other ethnic groups from towns and villages it conquers in order to create ethnically pure enclaves for members of their ethnic group. “Ethnic cleansing is a literal translation of the expression etnicko ciscenje in Serbo-Croatian/Croato-Serbian. The origin of this term is difficult to establish. Mass media reports discussed the establishment of ‘ethnically clean territories’ in Kosovo after 1981. At the time, it related to administrative and non-violent matters and referred mostly to the behavior of Kososvo Albanians towards the Serbian minority in the autonomous province within the SFRY.

The term derived its current meaning during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. As military officers of the former Yugoslav People’s Army had a preponderant role in all these events, the conclusion could be drawn that the expression ‘ethnic cleansing’ has its origin in military vocabulary. The expression to clean the territory is directed against enemies, and it is used mostly in the final phase of combat in order to take total control of the conquered territory.

Often, refugees of one ethnic group previously “cleansed” from their homes by other ethnic group are made to live in freshly “cleansed” territory of that other ethnic group. There is a new logic of conflict that relies on violent actions against ‘enemy’s’ civilian population on a large scale, rather than on war in the traditional sense i.e. between armed forces. Examples of this logic and policy abound today (the extreme case being Rwanda).


It is important to underline that the policy of ethnic cleansing fundamentally represents a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law. Only when the means and methods of ethnic cleansing policies can be identified with genocidal acts, and a combination of different elements implies the existence of intent to destroy a group as such, can such actions represent genocide. Analysis of ethnic cleansing should not be limited to the specific case of former Yugoslavia or Kosovo. This policy can occur and have terrible consequences in all territories with mixed populations, especially in attempts to redefine frontiers and rights over given territories.


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