Friday, September 14, 2007

Classification of Violence

A Terrorist group can be identified using several criteria. Such groups usually have a strong political ideology and a well-rehearsed modus-operandi for violence. Political ideology is a must for controlling ‘hearts and minds’ of its fighters and support-base. The modus operandi is the instigation of violent acts that shake a civilization to its roots. Terrorist groups also strive to gain access to technologically advanced weaponry to innovate its methods of violence. Terrorists would also risk harming members of own community for gaining political or military mileage. The level of skill for committing violence is extremely high. Skill and creativity is at the heart of these groups. The other significant characteristic is the planning and tight organization of a terrorist group.

Genocide and a Riot is not the same thing. For instance, the infamous 1983 riots in Sri Lanka are mistakenly referred to as Genocide by some. Genocide will kill or attempt to kill a whole people. Violence is both direct and indirect. For example, whilst openly killing mothers and children, genocide will also use indirect methods like forced abortions, mandatory birth-control etc. Genocide is also fully endorsed and supported by the state. Examples are Nazi Germany and Rwanda.

A Riot is a situation where civilians will target civilians in unrestrained acts of violence. The target is direct physical violence. State support is always not guaranteed. A riot is usually episodic but not always organized. Rioters are usually unskilled and will hardly be tempted to kill members of own group. They will use primitive weapons like swords, crow-bars etc. There usually isn’t a clear political ideology in a riot. Rioters will disband after their violent task is complete.

A Violent Protest, like the 1958 ‘Sri’ protest in Jaffna is in a class of its own. These protests are against the authority of the state and are focused on the destruction of mainly property.


Watsala said...

Genocide is the massive killing of a group of people because of their identity, race, ethnicity or religion with the intention to eradicate that group of people from the world. The intention to “extinguish” that particular group of people from the world is the key character of genocide. That would be the main difference between a riot and genocide.

What is the importance of identifying a certain killing of a group of people as “genocide”? The importance is the possible involvement of the “international community” to prevent such crime by the intervention of the international community through monitoring and reporting systems, or activation of legal and economic sanctions or political or military intervention. However, this did not occur in Rwanda despite eminent warnings and clear evidence of possible genocide.

The LTTE appeals for recognition of genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils during the Black July in 1983 for the purpose of justifying their war against the Government of Sri Lanka. However, it was a spontaneous riot by Sinhalese against Tamils as revenge for the killing of 15 Sri Lanka Army Soldiers by the LTTE. Nevertheless, we should condemn such killings regardless of the ethnicity. Whoever dies in war is a human being and that’s all that matters.

Defencewire said...

Extremely good analysis. Thank you for your contribution.

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