- ALEXANDER HINTON
Blinken cited various sources, including eyewitness accounts and the Russian government, to confirm that Russia is deporting Ukrainians from their country and passing them through filter camps, where some are detained and even disappear.
About 260,000 of these Ukrainian deportees are children, including orphans and others separated from their parents.
A local resident looks through a shattered window in his apartment in a residential building damaged by a Russian military strike, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on July 19. PHOTO: Reuters/Gleb Garanich
Blinken, in addition to great human rights organizations, says the Russian deportations could be a war crime.
“Russia has a history of forcibly displacing large numbers of civilians as part of warfare and political tactics.”
But Russia has a story to forcibly displace large numbers of civilians as a tactic of war and policy.
Other war aggressors have also forced civilians to move for various reasons – such as the elimination of a security threator the potential to seize the wealth, possessions and property that deportees are forced to leave behind.
In the process of achieving these two goals, perpetrators often commit atrocitiesa broad international legal term that encompasses war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Distinct but overlapping, these atrocity crimes can all involve mass deportation. The United Nations definition of genocide includes the forcible transfer of children.
Russia’s mass deportation of Ukrainians implicates him in all three crimes.
Expulsion for economic purposes
In international law, mass deportation refers to large-scale forced population movements across a country’s borders. Forced transfer involves the movement of groups of people within a country.
Often the goal of an attacker is to seize the earth. As I note in It Can Happen Here: White Power and the Growing Threat of Genocide in the United Statesthe United States has forcibly displaced people more than once.
The Indian Removal Act of 1830for example, authorized the mass deportation of as many as 80,000 Native Americans living east of the Mississippi River to Indian Territory, much of which is now part of Oklahoma. This forced migration resulted in enormous suffering and death.
The United States subsequently expelled or forcibly transferred other groups, including more than 110,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans during WWII. The United States has also displaced millions of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Mexico in the 1930s and 1940s and again in 1954. These deportations were justified by the false declaration that Mexicans were stealing American jobs.
Expel “security threats”
A second reason for the forced displacement of a population is the perception threatens posed by demonized groups.
This was the US justification for Japanese internment.
But there are many other historical examples, such as the First World War deportation by the Ottoman Empire Armenians and other Christian groups.
The Nazis also undertook mass deportations and population transfers during the Holocaustmost infamous through rail transport Jews in the death camps in Poland. They also made death marches At the end of the war.
Immediately after the Khmer Rouge seized power, they forced more than two million city dwellers to to relocate in the countryside, in part due to falsified security concerns.
Mass Deportations and Filtration Camps in Russia
Now like Blinker and others have noted, Russia has established at least 18 filter campswhere they take the biometric data of Ukrainian deportees, who are uniquephysical characteristics, such as fingerprints.
These camps serve to screen out people Russia deems dangerous, including members of the Ukrainian military, government and media. Those identified as suspicious are often harassed, abused and even tortured.
Ukrainians would have faded away after entering the camps.
Witnesses say that those expelled from Russia also face harsh conditions and have little choice about where they go.
There are also reports that some of the Ukrainian children were placed for adoption in Russia.
Yet it is difficult for outsiders to speak with victims and obtain detailed accounts, as many deportees were sent to remote areas of Russia without their phones or Ukrainian passports.
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The Russia Playbook
Mass deportations and forcible transfers of civilians are considered crimes against humanity under international law when undertaken on a “widespread or systematic” basis in time of peace or war. These deportations and population transfers are also considered war crimes if committed during an armed conflict.
There are substantial evidence that Russia has committed these two crimes, taking into account the deportations and the widespread attacks on Ukrainian civiliansincluding rape and other types of sexual violence.
Additionally, a part of the genocide consists of “forcibly transferring children from the group to another group”. Russia’s deportation of orphans and children separated from their parents would constitute such a crime if there is genocidal intent.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s comments that he wants to “denazify” Ukraine suggests that such an intention is present.
Russia’s mass deportations should come as no surprise.
In the past, Russia has repeatedly pledged genocide and other international crimes while forcibly displacing people for economic gain and to address perceived threats. These goals are linked to Russia’s long-standing commitment imperialist ambitions.
In the mid-1800s, for example, the Russian Empire deported hundreds of thousands of Circassians, a group from the North Caucasus, in the Ottoman Empire. Russia too forcibly moved many other groups, including Ukrainians, during the period of Soviet Union.
In Ukraine, therefore, Russia is taking a page from a well-worn wartime playbook. There are indications that this time Russia could be held responsible.
Russia’s crimes are being investigated by the International Penal Court. And, almost immediately after the Russian invasion, Ukraine began gather evidence Russian atrocities. Ukraine has documented more than 23,000 war crimes cases against Russia, and 14 European countries launched investigations.
Russia’s mass deportations, and above all its forced transfer of childrenare central to the argument that Russia also committed genocide in Ukraine.
Alexander Hinton is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights at Rutgers University-Newark. This article is republished from The conversation under Creative Commons license. Read it original article.