Stage One of Genocide: Classification
The first stage of genocide according to the Genocide Watch outline is classification. The definition of this stage as provided by President Gregory Stanton is as follows:
1. CLASSIFICATION: All cultures have categories to distinguish people into “us and them” by ethnicity, race, religion, or nationality: German and Jew, Hutu and Tutsi. Bipolar societies that lack mixed categories, such as Rwanda and Burundi, are the most likely to have genocide.
This initial stage, classification, is present in all recorded genocides in history. In the case of Rwanda, this classification manifested in the initial separation of the Rwanda people by Belgian imperialists into two groups: Tutsi and Hutu. The Tutsi comprised of a group of hand selected Rwandans by the Belgians for their physical qualities. These qualities consist of lighter skin, height, and length of nose. Roughly 14% of the population became Tutsi, and were awarded an elite status over the Hutu, who operated as the primary labor force in Rwanda. The root of the Rwanda genocide, the violent revolt of the Hutu against the Tutsi, can be traced to this initial classification.
In the context of the genocide in Darfur, Sudan, classification separates the Arabic population from the African population. In 1989, when the National Islamic Front seized control of the government did the conflict move towards genocide. The Sudanese government enlisted a militant group, the Janjaweed, to travel throughout Darfur displacing, terrorizing, and murdering Africans, as well as destroying their land and resources.
President, Genocide Watch; Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention, School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution, George Mason University, Arlington,Virginia 22201 USA