[First published May 1, 2005] I have used the term democide for murder by government, where murder is understood as it is defined in civil law. This is clear enough. And, I have used the term mortacracy for a regime that commits mass democide, such as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, communist China, and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, among others. The key understanding of democide is that it is intentional. Yet what about those regimes that unintentionally cause the deaths of their citizens as a natural consequence of their actions, or their lack of action?. One example might be a regime where corruption has become so pervasive and destructive of a people’s welfare that it threatens their daily lives and reduces their life expectancy.
This blog is Part I of an exploration in the measurement and identification of mortacracies—those political regimes that murder or cause the death of their citizens by the tens of thousands.
Here, I will focus on the identification of mortacracies in 2005 by their domestic democide—their outright murder of their own citizens—and for this the U.S. State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2005 will be my primary source. I am impressed by the well organized detail and thoroughness of the report. I have compared it to other human rights reports, such as those published by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and find it the best for my purpose. I will consult these other sources as necessary for additional information.
Using the Country Reports, then, I was able to define democide of four kinds:
Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life, as in (1) the government or its agents committing politically motivated killings, and/or (2) security forces unlawfully killing people.
Disappearances of people caused by the government, its agents, or security forces.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions that caused, or were so life threatening to assume to have caused, the death of inmates.
Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian Law in Internal Conflicts, or what I will call “war crimes.” It includes indiscriminate, nonselective killings arising from excessive use of force, or by the shelling of villages.
From the sources I mentioned above, I was able to assess the democide of each country in the world for 2005, and create the following list of mortacracies for 2005—those political regimes responsible for the mass murder of tens of thousands of their people. (If the table doesn’t show, see here)
The full table of democide data for all regimes is too big to show here. It is on my website. The list of mortacracies above comes from democide level 3 in the linked table. If you have any difficulty reading these tables, please let me know so that I can improve their legibility.
A word on how I determined the level of democide. First, any democide (a “yes” for any of the democide classifications in the table) earns at least a democide level of “1”. If a careful reading of the Country Report, and other sources, then suggested the level of killing was 1,000 or more, in 2005 or in previous years, I gave it a level “2”; and if at least 10,000, I gave it a level “3”.
What does “or in previous years” mean? The number a regime murdered in previous years counts toward its level of democide for 2005 if its freedom level is unchanged or it dropped (such as from partly free to not free). However, if its level of freedom improved such that it went from not free to partly free, then I did not count any democide before the change. Moreover, if a country went through a political system change, as occurred when Pol Pot was defeated in 1979, and Vietnam established a puppet Cambodian regime, or when Afghanistan’s Taliban were defeated by the American coalition, then even though the freedom level remained the same, I did not count the previous democide. However, simply a change in who rules through a coup, revolution, or natural succession, as happened in Syria, North Korea, and China, does not wash away the previous democide.
If you have difficulty with this, think of my purpose, which is to define a mortacracy. If a regime murdered hundreds of thousands of its people since it gained power, as did the Iranian theocracy, but while the same regime was in power in 2005 it only murdered a few, then it seems misleading and unreasonable to say that the regime was mortacratic during those previous years when it murdered so many, but it is not a mortacracy in 2005. By mortacracy, I mean a quality of a regime, as in being a dictatorship or democracy, and not its policy or actions in a particular year.
There you have it in the above table. The worst mass murdering thug regimes of the last year, all but one also depriving their people of all human rights, which is to say, enslaving them.
“QUANTIFYING GENOCIDE IN DARFUR: April 28, 2006 (Part 1)” By Eric Reeves:
” Currently extant data, in aggregate, strongly suggest that total excess mortality in Darfur, over the course of more than three years of deadly conflict, now significantly exceeds 450,000. As Rwanda marks a grim twelfth anniversary, we must accept that while vast human destruction in Darfur has unfolded plainly before us, we have again done little more than watch, offering only unprotected humanitarian assistance while some 450,000 people have perished as a result of violence, as well as consequent malnutrition and disease. Human destruction to date, however, certainly does not mark the conclusion of the world’s moral failure in responding to genocide in Darfur—on the contrary, this massive previous destruction is our best measure of what is impending.
Far [more] terrifyingly, all current evidence suggests that hundreds of thousands of human beings will die in the coming months from these same causes.”
RJR: This democide is so overt and public as to draw such attention to it. But thanks to the hopeless UN, the disinterest of the democracies, and Sudan’s supportive Arab Muslim countries, even then not much is being done about it. But for many of the mortacracies—like North Korea, which is a border to border concentration/labor camp—the day-by-day death and summary execution of its people is not so public, and thus hardly mentioned in the media. Even then, as evidenced by Sudan, nothing much would be done.
A murdered Darfur child