Democide

Democide is a term proposed by R. J. Rummel since at least 1994[1] who defined it as "the intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command".[2] According to him, this definition covers a wide range of deaths, including forced labor and concentration camp victims; killings by "unofficial" private groups; extrajudicial summary killings; and mass deaths due to the governmental acts of criminal omission and neglect, such as in deliberate famines, as well as killings by de facto governments, i.e. civil war killings.[2] This definition covers any murder of any number of persons by any government.[2]

Rummel created the term as an extended concept to include forms of government murder not covered by the term genocide. According to Rummel, democide surpassed war as the leading cause of non-natural death in the 20th century.[3][4]

Three meanings of genocide

Democide is the murder of any person or people by their government, including genocide, politicide and mass murder. Democide is not necessarily the elimination of entire cultural groups but rather groups within the country that the government feels need to be eradicated for political reasons and due to claimed future threats.

According to Rummel, genocide has three different meanings.

  1. The ordinary meaning is murder by government of people due to their national, ethnic, racial or religious group membership.
  2. The legal meaning of genocide refers to the international treaty on genocide, the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This also includes nonlethal acts that in the end eliminate or greatly hinder the group. Looking back on history, one can see the different variations of democides that have occurred, but it still consists of acts of killing or mass murder.
  3. Democide – This generalized meaning of genocide is similar to the ordinary meaning but also includes government killings of political opponents or otherwise intentional murder. In order to avoid confusion over which meaning is intended. Rummel created the term democide for this third meaning.[5]