This open source document about Shia Genocide highlights the factors that have contributed to Shia Genocide. The current media discourse on Shia Genocide has many gaps and this report manages to cover some of these gaps. The report also provides a basis for some much needed further study on the tragic phenomena of Shia Genocide by state sponsored Takfiri Deobandi militants of interchangeable organizations like ASWJ, LeJ and TTP.
Readers must understand and appreciate the privacy of the Sunni, Shia and Christain scholars and academics who have contributed towards developing this report. The scholars, academics, journalists, analysts and bloggers, who are working on this issue, need to maintain pen names for obvious reasons.
The PDF version of the report can be downloaded from the following link:
The right to practice religion is a universal one that extends to every inhabitant of the world. In Pakistan, however,this right is frequently violated, as religious minorities face social, political and economic marginalization on a daily basis, and the enforcement of harsh and archaic blasphemy laws allow state persecution. As such, events that have created deep divisions within Pakistan’s complex religious landscape are increasingly being manifested in outbursts of violence.
Pakistan’s Shia community, despite its formidable size and advanced level of integration, is one of the primary victims of this phenomenon. A set of very particular circumstances – wrought by domestic and global political trends, current and historic – have created an environment where Shia Muslims have had all sense of security fundamentally undermined, with anti-Shia attacks and intimidation by violent extremists fast becoming a social norm.
The following report seeks to explicate this understudied issue, by exploring its origins, causes and practicalities. It also offers an understanding of why the persecution of the Shia can be classified as genocide, as well as recommendations on what action needs to be urgently taken by the Pakistani government, local and international NGOs, the United Nations and the international community in order to address the grievous concerns it raises
The term genocide first emerged in the wake of the Holocaust. Combining the Latin for “tribe” or “race” (genos) with the Greek for “kill” (cide), lawyer Raphael Lemkin sought to introduce a term into the legal-political lexicon that could be used to describe this act and the intention behind it.1
While the word itself is simple enough, it must be used with care to avoid its misapplication. For the purposes of this report, the definition as laid out at the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide has been adopted. Article II classifies genocide as:
‘Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group’.
Genocide is the culmination of a specific set of circumstances in which both the mens rea (mental element) – meaning the ‘intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such’ – and the actus reus (physical element) – any of the five acts described in sections a, b, c, d and e above – are present.
A crime must incorporate both elements to be classified as “genocide”, something that has often been done incorrectly, thereby detracting from its gravity.
In a sense, then, it is the intent behind a killing that determines whether an act could be classed as genocide. Indeed, as former Secretary General of Medecins Sans Frontieres Raphael Destexhe once asserted, ‘genocide is distinguishable from all other crimes by the motivation behind it’.
So, when combined with the intent to eradicate an entire group, the physical act of murder becomes genocide; similarly,incitement to do so becomes a conspiracy to genocide. Both are crimes punishable under international law.
Related: Shia Genocide Database