After a gruelling, five-year trial, Ratko Mladić, the general of the Bosnian Serb Army during the Bosnian civil war in the ’90s, was convicted of war crimes including genocide on Wednesday by a United Nations court at The Hague.
He was sentenced to life in prison.
He was also found responsible for the 1995 massacre of over 8,000 Muslim Bosniak men and boys in Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is considered the worst atrocity committed in Europe since World War II. Many victims of the massacre are still being identified to this day.
Even though Mladić is one of the most high-profile perpetrators of genocide convicted in recent years, genocides are by no means a thing of the past.
Here are five genocides going on right now around the world:
The Rohingya in Myanmar
Perhaps the most high-profile genocide of recent years is that of the Rohingya, who live in Rakhine state in northwestern Myanmar.
Unlike the majority of the Buddhist country, the Rohingya are Muslim, and have long suffered as second-class citizens in Myanmar because most people in the country believe they are illegal immigrants and “terrorists” from Bangladesh.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson officially declared the Rohingya crisis a case of ethnic cleansing on Wednesday. So far, up to 3,000 people have been killed in Myanmar, and at least 270,000 have been displaced.
The Nuer and other ethnic groups in South Sudan
South Sudan became the world’s newest country in 2011, but since 2013, the country has been mired in a brutal civil war.
Throughout the multifaceted conflict, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, a member of the Dinka ethnic group, has been using his army to wage a campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Dinka’s main rival ethnic group, the Nuer, as well as other smaller local groups. The Nuer have taken part in ethnic cleansing against the Dinka as well.
The UK has branded these targeted killings and rapes as genocide. Although the Dinka-Nuer conflict has taken center stage in South Sudan, many smaller ethnic groups have also been implicated in the dizzying array of ethnic violence in the country.
Christians and Yazidis in Iraq and Syria
As the terrorist group ISIS carved its caliphate out of war-torn Syria and Iraq in 2014 and 2015, it extended its reach over various non-Muslim communities and ethnic groups, including Yazidis and Shiites Iraq, as well as Assyrian Christians living in both Syria and Iraq.
In brutal, genocidal campaigns in both countries, ISIS sought to systematically exterminate Yazidis, Shiites, and Christians and destroy their villages. They also carried out mass rapes in these communities. Although numbers remain hazy, thousands of people have been killed in these related genocides.
As of this week, ISIS has officially been defeated territorially, but the effects of their genocides continue to wreak havoc on people in the region. Khider Domle, Yazidi researcher based in Dohuk, Iraq, says the secondary effects of the genocide are still very present in Yazidi communities in Iraq.
“Our psychological, social and religious identity has been destroyed,” Domle told Al Jazeera. “People are living all over the place, and they don’t know what the future is. There have been no initiatives from the Iraqi government to help the displaced people return back to Sinjar; no national reconciliation process; no attempt to rebuild ruined infrastructure.”
Christians and Muslims in the Central African Republic
The Central African Republic, an African country wedged mainly between the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Chad, has been embroiled in a civil war ever since 2013 when the country’s Christian President François Bozizé was overthrown by a coalition of Muslim groups.
While the war itself subsided in 2016, since then, ethnic tensions have rapidly mounted, and many observers fear a genocide may be taking place between the Christian militias called the “anti-Balaka” and the Muslim coalition.
Stephen O’Brien, the head of the UN’s humanitarian office, said genocide and ethnic cleansing have recently been on the rise in the country.
“The escalation is very real,” O’Brien said in a briefing, according to Newsweek. “We’re looking at things which we haven’t heard about for a long time. There’s a very deep ethnic-cleansing approach.”
Darfuris in Sudan
In the mid-2000s, Darfur was recognised as the first genocide of the 21st century by international observers and US ambassadors at the time, and while it has vanished from the headlines since then, the atrocities being committed in this region in western Sudan have continued.
The ethnic killings began in 2003 when ethnically Arab militias supported by Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir began massacring non-Arab people and destroying their villages. The main victims of these campaigns have been the Fur people, but other small non-Arab groups were also affected.
In 2016 and 2017, violence has increased in Darfur, and many refugee camps for internally displaced Darfuris have been attacked by Arab forces in a continuation of the genocide of the 2000s. As the central government continues to crackdown, the same people who captured the world’s attention in years past continue to suffer intense persecution.
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