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Ethnic Cleansing Essay


Ethnic cleansing can be defined as the exclusion of an unwanted section of a population. An acknowledgeable example of ethnic cleansing is the dispersal and annihilation of the North American population which was motivated by the desire to gain and secure frontier which involved the cleansing of Indians from their lands and also the Holocausts.

Ethnic cleansing can take different forms and can be actualized through including forced settlement, deportation, expulsion, massacre, genocide, immediate extermination and transfer of population. It is a desire to purify a particular nation of aliens as was the case for the Nazi campaign to throw out Jews.

Another form of ethnic cleansing is the one that took place in the Czechoslovakia where the government under the consent of Stalin, ordered the expulsion of approximately 30,000 Hungarians in 1945. Also the Soviet Union cleansed approximately 600,000 people from those regions that they had proved unreliable in the war like the Karachaev part of northern Caucasus.

Consequently, at the time of war, the Crimean Tartars requested the government of Romania to exterminate all the Russians in peninsula that remained after the war but when that appeal was turned down the tartars arranged a Russian massacre.

There is also economic cleansing which was introduced by Stalin in Russia and Maoist in China. Ethnic cleansing of this nature involves the removal of the propertied class and the elimination of parasitic groups (Bell-Fialkoff, n.d).

Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide

Ethnic cleansing is soft word for genocide and both words are mutually exclusive. The difference between the two words is that ethnic cleansing involves driving out a population whereas genocide involves an intention to destroy an entire population.

Genocide can also apply to both where they can destroy a particular part of the population and terrorize particular population into flight and forced migration (Blum, Stanton, Sagi, Richter, 2008).

Another difference between the two terms is that genocide is the systematic and widespread destruction of particular segment of the population or specific group of people, ethnic cleansing on the other hand is understood as the removal of a specific part of the population through either genocide or expulsions.

Ethnic cleansing is considered as an action to create an ethnically uniform territory through deportation or forcible transfer of the population and it can be by force or intimidation. It involves the removal a particular targeted group, it is a purposeful policy.

The holocaust and the Rwandan genocide are two cases that are used distinguish the two terminologies. Holocaust involved the systematic annihilation of the Jews population in the Nazi regime in Germany commandeered by Hitler. Rwandan genocide involved the mass murder of 800,000 Tutsi people by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994 is considered a perfect example of genocide.

The distinction between ethnic cleansing and genocide emerges from the fact that ethnic cleansing is a deliberate and systematic attempt by a political, religious or social group to remove another political or socio-economic group through forced migrations or killings and to force them to desert a particular territory. The main intention of ethnic cleansing is to terrify a particular ethic group or to force them in order to create a uniform population (Lewy, 2000).

Genocide on the other hand is less similar to ethnic cleansing; they are similar because they are motivated by similar intention and their difference is that the means adopted in actualizing genocide are much brutal. Genocide is the enlargement of ethnic cleansing because it also involves killings motivated by political or religious aims and serves to exterminate a particular political or ethnic group from a particular territory.

The critical line differentiating the two terms is that ethnic cleansing may involve forced migration only whereas genocide strictly involves extermination killings and murders (Kakizaki, 2005).

Consequences of Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing on the Population

Avoidance and detachment: genocide may lead to cases of despondency on the population. In this case, the population may lack the ability to express emotions in case of death of an individual. The population may also avoid the locations that remind them of genocide acts (Lewy, 2000).

After genocide, there is possibility that every household will be facing economic crisis, internal displacement, political transition and cases emigration. Ethnic cleansing and genocide will lead to strong sense of discrimination and hatred among the parties involved. It will also instill a sense of guilt on the perpetrating party.


Ethnic cleansing and genocide are two words that are hard to distinguish. This is because they take similar forms of actions and motivations. The only noticeable difference is that whereas genocide involves killing or extermination, ethnic cleansing can be actualized without any act of murder or killing and can gently involve forcible transfer of population or mass displacements.

Both ethnic cleansing and genocide have strong negative impacts, psychologically, physically, economically and environmentally to both the perpetrator and the victim. It is prudent that enough measures are taken to ensure that either a genocide or an ethnic cleansing do not take place as they have far reaching effects on people.


Bell-Fialkoff, A. ( n.d.). A brief history of ethnic cleansing. Retrieved from:

Blum, R, Stanton, G. H, Sagi, S & Richter, E.D. (2008). Ethnic cleansing bleaches the atrocities of genocide. European Journal of Public Health, 18(2), pp.204-9.

Kakizaki, M. (2005). Ethnic Cleansing or Genocide? Turkish Coalition. Retrieved from:

Lewy, G. (2000). The Nazi Persecution of the Gypsies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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