Group Classification on National
as a Factor in Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing
Presented on November 15, 2001 to the Seminar
Series of the Yale University Genocide Studies Program
by Jim Fussell, Prevent Genocide International (*)
The role played by group classification on national identity cards in crimes of genocide in Rwanda and in Nazi Germany should trouble all persons concerned with prevention of genocide. In Nazi Germany in July 1938, only a few months before Kristallnacht, the infamous "J-stamp" was introduced on ID cards and later on passports. The use of specially marked "J-stamp" ID cards by Nazi Germany preceded the yellow Star of David badges. In Norway, where yellow cloth badges were not introduced, the stamped ID card was used in the identification of more than 750 Jews deported to death camps in Poland. (1) Ethnic classification on ID Cards in Rwanda instituted by the Belgian colonial government and retained after independence, was central in shaping, defining and perpetuating ethnic identity. Once the 1994 genocide in Rwanda began, an ID card with the designation "Tutsi" spelled a death sentence at any roadblock. (2) No other factor was more significant in facilitating the speed and magnitude of the 100 days of mass killing in Rwanda.
National ID cards of all kinds are controversial. In recent years in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia proposals for introducing national ID cards and registry systems have raised debate about governmental control and privacy issues. Classification of ethnic, racial or religious groups on ID cards, however, is a distinctively different issue. Group classification on ID cards or other official personal documents (passports, residence permits, etc.) force a person to be affiliated with a governmentally-defined group and expose persons to profiling and human rights abuses based upon their group identity. In times of crisis such classifications facilitate the targeting of persons on the basis of group affiliation, making individuals readily identifiable for possible detention, deportation, or death.
The hazard posed by group classifications of ID cards has been recognized in specific instances. In July 1991, for example, consultants recommended to the Habyarimana regime that it eliminate the Hutu and Tutsi ethnic classifications from the Rwandan ID cards. Later the elimination of ID classifications was agreed upon as part of the 1993 Arusha Accords. (3) Action to eliminate these classifications was ultimately not taken until 1997 by the new post-genocide regime established in July 1994.
Survey of Classifications on ID cards
In a majority of countries in the world, national identification cards are issued to all adult persons. The cards are typically issued to everyone over age 15 and in many places the law requires that the cards be carried in public at all times. From such ID cards a person's group affiliation can sometimes be extrapolated from characteristics such as family name, place of birth, place of residence or the person's face in a photograph. These elements are usually suggestive of a person's background, but do not provide a definitive answer to someone seeking to determine a group identity. In more than 20 nations, however, a line appears on the card stating an ethnic, racial or religious affiliation. Many of these nations are places where intergroup tension or violence is prevalent. Another set of nations, including some of those with group classifications on their national ID cards and some without, issue special cards to particular population groups. (4) These groups include native-born permanent alien residents who must show an additional card, a separate card, cards of a distinctive color, or a specially marked or stamped card distinct from the larger population. This kind of special card is also included in this survey. The survey does not include the many examples of special cards issued to individual immigrants, based upon their status as foreign-born non-citizens. An effort has been made to include all definite examples, including those where there appears to be no danger of violence. (5)
This summary chart, arranged by group category and ID card type shows which nations have ID cards with group classifications, based on a survey derived from human rights country reports and news accounts. Past examples appear in italics.
Table 1: Summary of nations with classification on ID cards,
arranged by group category and ID card type
|Group Category||Group classifications are listed on all National ID cards||Special Card or Mark (Special ID Cards issued and/or a special mark on the standard ID card )|
|Nationality||Israel||Native-born residents issued special ID or documents: Cambodia (ethnic Vietnamese), Ethiopia (Ethiopians with Eritrean affiliation); Indonesia (Ethnic Chinese); Japan (alien residents, especially ethnic Koreans); Kenya (ethnic Somalians); United States (some Native Americans, ethnic Japanese during WWII)|
|Ethnicity||Bhutan, China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam, Burundi, DRCongo, Russia (and other former republics of the USSR), Rwanda||Syria (Kurds). Text on National ID cards in Macedonia, in Serbia and Montenegro and in Slovenia appear in minority languages on some cards only.|
|Race/Color||Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Singapore; South Africa, United States (some State Driver's Licenses only)||Nazi Germany and war-time occupied European countries (Jews, Roma Sinti); Free Blacks in the United States during the time of slavery.|
|Religion||Afghanistan, Brunei, Egypt, Jordan, [Pakistan - see details], Turkey; Greece, Lebanon||Iran (Christians), Saudi Arabia (nonmuslim foreigners), Syria (Jews)|
|Multiple Categories||Myanmar (Burma), Indonesia, Sri Lanka||-|
|Special Status (legal, residential or territorial status where such status impacts national, ethnic, racial, or religious groups)||-||Territorial: Israel (East Jerusalem), Spain (North Africa enclaves), France (Alsace-Lorraine); Legal: Indonesia (ex-Tapol);|
More detailed descriptions and sources appear in the appendix and on a regularly updated website (www.preventgenocide.org/prevent/removing-facilitating-factors/IDcards/survey/ )
In recent decades, partly as a result of international action against the former
Apartheid policies in South Africa, ID cards or documents with racial categories
have come to be viewed with international disapproval. At the same time ID cards
displaying other group categories such as ethnicity and religion continue to
be used in many parts of the world. Group classification on ID cards often reflects
an aspect of national identity and tradition, but the cards are also a manifestation
of governmental power. With or without ID cards, national traditions may favor
or privilege one part of the population, while marginalizing others. Classification
on cards however, fixes or reifies group identities and takes the power to define
group identity away from individuals, families and communities, putting that
power in the hands of government authorities. (6)
Most countries in the world do some sort of official classification of their population by groups using one or more of categories such as national origin, race, ethnicity or religion. Most commonly this information is gathered during a census or on birth certificates. Such classification schemes treat group difference in overly simplified ways treating group identity as an unchanging constant not subject to ongoing changes in society. What classification on national ID cards does is take group classification schemes one step further - from the classification of populations as a whole (in aggregate) - to the classification of individual persons by group. The effect of policies which apply group classifications upon individuals is to make group identity more rigid and to make one form of societal affiliation excessively prominent (usually religion or ethnicity), highlighting that particular area of difference above others, such as regional or local identity, social class or others. In most pluralistic societies a particular person's highlighted identity and affiliations differ by context and the situation at the moment. In a rigid or polarized society that a single identity is being reinforced and articulated.
The presence of group classifications on national ID cards is usually viewed
as a matter entirely of domestic concern. It is possible to consider it in the
same manner as widespread forms of group classification, such as information
gathered during a census or on birth certificates. But the fact that these classifications
on National ID cards must actually be carried and used by individuals makes
the practice unlike other classification practices. The ramifications of this
form of classification for individual persons should cause the practice to become
a matter of international concern. Such international concern played a role
in the elimination of Tutsi, Hutu and Twa classification in post-genocide Rwanda
in 1997 and also influenced Greece, which eliminated a religious classification
from its national ID card in July 2000. This change in Greece was made amid
great controversy and opposition from the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church,
but with the strong encouragement of the European Union, which had been in the
process of standardizing identification cards of all member countries.
In response to a controversial initiative in the former Soviet Republic of
Georgia to restore the ethnic nationality category on national ID cards, Antti
Korkaakivi, a senior official at the Council of Europe's Human Rights Division,
stated on January 21, 1999 that the mandatory inclusion of an ethnicity category
on public documents could violate the Council of Europe's 1995 European Framework
Convention on National Minorities. (8)
More recently a July 2001 conference of non-governmental organizations and people's
organizations in Southeast Asia meeting in Bangkok, Thailand called on members
of ASEAN to "be accountable for discriminatory policies and practices"
such as using "racial/religious identification in national identity cards
and official government documents, that promotes greater racial and religious
These examples show that governments may be influenced by international and
regional concern over the practice.
Intergroup polarization and classification on national ID
Group classification on national ID cards does not indicate a
government will engage in massive human rights violations. Classifications on
ID cards are instead a facilitating factor, making it more possible for governments,
local authorities or non-state actors such as militias to more readily engage
in violations based on ethnicity or religion. ID cards are not a precondition
to genocide, but have been a facilitating factor in the commission of genocide.
Additionally the presence of group categories on ID cards, used constantly in
routine official and business transactions, can contribute to polarization that
can lead to genocide or related crimes.
Classification on ID cards is only one method perpetrators might
use to identify a population group during genocide or ethnic cleansing. Group
classifications did not appear on ID cards in the former Yugoslavia, for example.
Other means of identifying a group such as creation of lists, marking buildings
or mandating the display of distinguishing cloth badges can be used instead
of or together with ID cards. Unlike these other means of identifying groups,
however, group classification on ID cards has been a more universally accepted
or tolerated practice, perceived as a normal and legal governmental function.
The world did not respond to the presence of religious categories on the Afghanistan
ID booklet, but has responded vocally to the announcement in May 2001 that Hindus
in that country would be required to wear distinguishing yellow badges. Where
a particular identity is stigmatized or vilified, it is of minimal difference
that a person must carry that identity on the outer clothes, or must display
it upon demand on a card.
ID cards are public documents over which the bearer has very limited rights of privacy. From the information on the ID card a person with card-viewing authority is usually required to make some judgment about whether the card bearer is eligible or permitted to engage in a given activity. When information about group identity (such as ethnicity or religion) becomes a factor in the interaction, that information alters the card-viewer's judgment. At a minimum, the presence of group classification categories on national ID cards creates and reinforces heightened awareness of group differences.
The following chart is an attempt to understand ways in which group classification on national ID cards can impact on society in the very diverse set of societies where this practice has been a factor. The category "Deindividualization", which could also be called depersonalization, represents societies where classification reinforces voluntary and traditional social separation of groups, as in Malaysia or Singapore. "Dehumanization" represents societies where the classification of groups is institutionalized, such as Apartheid-era South Africa. "Demonization" represents societies in an advanced stage of a genocidal or eliminationist process, such as Rwanda in 1993 and 1994, Nazi Germany after 1938, or countries engaging in mass expulsion such as Vietnam in 1978, Bhutan in 1991, Ethiopia in 1998. The special significance of classification on the ID cards may be heightened at moments of crisis or in regions of conflict, such as in May 1998 in Indonesia or in Tibet in China.
Table 2: Classification on Identification Cards and three types of Polarized Intergroup Relationships
|Categories of Relationship:||
|Form of polarization||Societal polarization||Institutional polarization||Eliminationist polarization|
|Us-Them Type of Relationship||They are different from us;We are different from them.||They are inferior, less than us; We are superior, better, than they are.||They are a threat to us; We are endangered by them.|
|Types of language Used by Dominant Population Group||The "other" a negative reference group, "what we are" is defined in juxtaposition to the "other."||Members of the group are viewed as less human or subhuman, through hate speech, pejorative, ethnic and racial slurs. Fear and hate are combined.||Genocidal hate speech: emphasizing a threat from all members of the group (including children and elderly) and calling for the elimination or destruction of the group. Use of metaphoric nouns and verbs characterizing the targeted population groups as non-human, i.e. animals, insects, diseases, and/or demons.|
|Role Played by ID Cards||Card viewers profile the individual card bearers in terms of group affiliation. Classification on ID cards reifies group identity. The ability of the individual to determine when and how to identify self is constrained. Cards play a role in governmental, financial, employment seeking interactions.||Group classification on ID Cards is central in the enforcement of institutional and legal domination. Cards determine where a person is permitted to live, to work and restricts freedom of movement. Threat of confiscation of the ID card is an additional means of control.||Classification on ID Cards is central in selection of the targeted population group. Issuing and enforcing use of the ID cards is one segment of a destruction process. Persons who select or control a group prior to death contribute as much to their destruction as the immediate killers.|
|Actions and policies Implied for the Dominant Group||Social distancing ("keep to your own kind"). Defacto residential segregation, intermarriage disapproved -an individual in "them" group is perceived as representing the whole.||
subordination, control, apartheid, enslavement,
absolute separation, concentration, walled ghettos, quarantine, internment,
|Groups Perceived and Portrayed Monolithically||
Coexistence based on limited social separation
They are the same, we are all the same; Deindividualization forced upon both groups
Coexistence is only possible through domination;
Rebellion or alleged criminal activities responded to with partial elimination
Mutual coexistence is impossible,
Groups portrayed as mortal enemies (Kill or be killed)
Human rights reports sometimes mention the role group classifications on ID
cards play in particular incidents, though often the significance of the ID
cards are a secondary or tertiary aspect of the report. In such incidents ID
cards play a role often early in the incident when authorities or a militia
first encounter the victims. As an institutional structure ID cards are tremendously
significant, curtailing and constricting individual actions that would not become
part of an incident report. When smaller numbers of victims are targeted in
order to intimidate or terrorize a group, ID cards are one of several ways to
accomplish this end.
When all members of a group or a large portion of a group are targeted for special treatment, however, ID cards can have enormous significance in facilitating that crime. In the last decade, in addition to the role ID cards played in the Rwandan genocide, group classifications on ID cards also played important roles in facilitating the large-scale expulsions of tens of thousands of persons on account of their group identity from Bhutan in 1991 and Ethiopia in 1998. Acts of "ethnic cleansing" to eliminate or drastically reduce a group's population on a given territory require systematic methods to identify and select persons to be targeted.
Group classification on ID cards in Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing
and other eliminationist population policies
Identification of individual members of a targeted population group is a necessary task for perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing. To accomplish this task, perpetrators either adapt existing administrative structures to their new purposes or create new structures. Identity cards are often the key element in a larger identification system. Their central position in such a system is due to their role in attaching the identity of the targeted group onto individual persons, combining individual identity information with a group profile.
In his 1996 book Ethnic Cleansing, Andrew Bell-Fialkoff locates genocide and ethnic cleansing within a continuum of eliminationist population policies, offering the following as a definition of population cleansing:
"Population cleansing is a planned, deliberate removal from a certain territory of an undesirable population distinguished by one or more characteristics such as ethnicity, religion, race, class, or sexual preference. These characteristics must serve as the basis for removal for it to qualify as cleansing." (10)
An understanding of genocide and ethnic cleansing as the most extreme acts
within a continuum is very significant from the perspective of prevention. Often
genocide and genocidal massacres are preceded by deportations and mass expulsions.
Until Nazi Germany closed off all borders in October 1941, the persecution of
Jews in Germany and occupied Europe had features which we would now call "ethnic
cleansing." Perpetrators may use ethnic cleansing and massacres to test
the responses of internal and external bystanders before escalating to genocide.
Additionally, perpetrators may claim to be engaging in relocation, resettlement
or deportations and use the claim to disguise acts of genocide. Finally, the
conditions under which a population is moved during the course of relocation
may actually have the characteristics of described in Article II, section 3
of the Genocide Convention: "Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions
of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."
The following chart takes many of the countries included in the survey and locates those countries according to policies facilitated by group classification on ID cards or by situations in which classification on ID cards was a factor:
Table 3: Governmental population policies facilitated by group classification on ID cards
|Genocide||Nazi Germany (1938-1945), Rwanda (1990-1994)|
|Mass Expulsion||Ethiopia (Persons with Eritrean affiliation 1998), Bhutan (Lhotshampas, 1991), Vietnam (Hoa ethnic Chinese 1978-1979), France (Alsace-Lorraine 1918-1920)|
|Forced Relocation||USSR (ethnic Koreans 1937, Volga Germans 1941, Kalmyks, Karachai, 1943, Crimean Tatars, Meshkhetian Turks Chechens, Ingush, Balkars 1944, ethnic Greeks, 1949)|
|Group Denationalization||Cambodia (ethnic Vietnamese 1993), Myanmar (Rohingya Arakanese 1992), Syria (Kurds 1962)|
|Other situations where classifications on National ID Cards are present:|
|Civil conflict||Macedonia (2001), Israel (2000 to present), Georgia (1992), Myanmar (Burma) 1988 to present, Sri Lanka (1983 to present), Tajikistan (1992-1997), Lebanon (1975 to 1989), Indonesia|
|Restrictions||China (Tibet, Uigahr), Pakistan (Amadiya), Syria (Jews), Laos (non-Buddhists), Japan (ethnic Koreans), Iran (Christians), Indonesia (ethnic Chinese), Malaysia|
|Legacy of past ID classification policy||Burundi, former Czechosolvakia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, former Soviet republics|
|No reported problems with classification on IDs||Brunei, Jordan, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia|
Under some of these policies and in many of these situations ID cards or internal passports were one element in a larger identification system, involving creation of lists and registration, marking of dwellings and sometimes mandatory display of badges. Systematic marking of buildings was reported in Rwanda in 1994 and the former Yugoslavia in 1992-1995 as well as during the May 1998 "riots" in Indonesia in which ethnic Chinese were targeted. In some instances a government introduces new national ID cards but withholds the cards from a targeted population group in an apparent effort at mass denationalization.
The most elaborate identification system created was that of Nazi Germany, though it was not applied uniformly in all territories occupied by Germany. Raul Hilberg describes that system and its impact upon Jews in especially great detail in his 1985 edition of The Destruction of the European Jews, summarizing as follows:
"The whole identification system, with its personal documents, specially assigned names, and conspicuous tagging in public, was a powerful weapon in the hands of the police. First, the system was an auxiliary device that facilitated the enforcement of residence and movement restrictions. Second, it was an independent control measure in that it enabled the police to pick up any Jew, anywhere, anytime. Third, and perhaps most important, identification had a paralyzing effect on its victims. The system induced the Jews to be even more docile, more responsive to command than before. The wearer of the star was exposed; he thought that all eyes were fixed upon him. It was as though the whole population had become a police force, watching him and guarding his actions. No Jew, under those conditions, could resist, escape, or hide without first ridding himself of the conspicuous tag, the revealing middle name, the telltale ration card, passport, and identification papers. Yet the riddance of these burdens was dangerous, for the victim could be recognized and denounced. Few Jews took the chance. The vast majority wore the star and, wearing it, were lost." (11)
In the development of the identification system, the ID card and the yellow badge served different complimentary purposes. In most countries where the "J" stamps were introduced, theywere typically added to already existing identity cards, passports and other personal documents soon after occupation. The yellow badges were mandated at a later time, usually in the months immediately preceding deportations. Among Nazi-occupied territories Salonkia Greece is notable because the stars worn on clothing display individual ID numbers corresponding to those numbers appearing on individual identity cards. Secondary personal documents were also used alongside the ID cards, including ration cards and work permits. During 1941 in the closed ghettoes of Nazi-occupied Poland "schein" cards (work permits) were issued. Persons without the documents were rounded up and deported to death camps. (12)
Most writers on the 1994 Rwandan genocide note the introduction of group classification on ID cards by the Belgian colonial government in 1933, an action most significant because it introduced a rigid racial concept of group identity where it had not previously existed. Of great significance also, however, was the repeated decision by the post-colonial Rwandan authorities to retain the group classifications on ID cards. Prior to independence, nine Hutu leaders declared their intention to retain such classifications in the Hutu manifesto of March 24, 1957, writing: "we are opposed vigorously, at least for the moment, to the suppression in the official or private identity papers of the mentions 'muhutu', 'mututsi', 'mutwa'. Their suppression would create a risk of preventing the statistical law from establishing the reality of facts." By "statistical" the authors meant dominance by the Hutu majority population group.
One of the nine authors of the 1957 Manifesto, Gregoire Kayibanda, became the
first president of Rwanda in 1961 and under his leadership the Rwandan carte
d'identité continued to display the "ubwoko / ethnie"
group affiliation of the card bearer. His successor, after a 1973 coup, President
Juvenal Habyarimana also retained the cards until on November 13, 1990. On that
day, at the same time he announced a new multi-party system, President Habyarimana
announced his intention, which he never acted upon, to abolish ethnic identity
cards. He was later encouraged in April 1991 to follow through with this statement
by American Ambassador Robert A. Flaten, but according to Philip
Gourevitch the French ambassador opposed the plan. Alison De Forges reports
that in July 1991 independent consultants encouraged France and other governments
giving aid to Rwanda to require the removal of group affiliation from ID Cards
be taken as a prerequisite for assistance, but those governments failed to take
that advice. (13)
In massacres northwestern Rwanda in early 1993, ethnic categories on ID cards facilitated the identification of victims. When this event occurred negotiations were in progress for power-sharing under a Transitional Government. Among the provisions in the August 4, 1993 Arusha Accords was the following, " The Broad-Based Transitional Government shall, from the date of its assumption of office, delete from all official documents to be issued any reference to ethnic origin." This continued presence of group classification on ID cards, even after their role in facilitating genocidal massacres in 1993, should remind us that very nature of the genocidal killing that later ensued in April 1994. The Rwandan genocide was not the indiscriminate or wanton slaughter as it is was sometimes portrayed. Instead, like most actions taken by perpetrators of genocide, the killing process was segmented into multiple distinct steps, with persons involved as administrative accomplices as well as direct killers. The testimony of one witness concerning the actions of Captain Ildéphonse Nizeyimana, a man who is a fugitive at large, underscores the bureaucratic nature of the task.
"Soldiers had orders to take identity cards from those whom they killed. According to one witness, Nizeyimana regularly received these cards from his men as they reported on the progress of the killings. They often appeared at his house shortly after a volley of gunfire was heard and handed the cards to the captain with the report, "Mission accomplished." In the captain's absence, his wife received the cards." (14)
In addition to facilitating the identification of Tutsi victims, another role of ID cards in the genocide was that of psychologically distancing the killers from their victims and from the nature of their task as killers. This distancing of perpetrators from their targeted victims facilitated by group classification on ID cards occurs whether the task is genocide, deportation or applying discriminatory restrictions. (15)
Removing group classifications from ID cards
This paper is an attempt to creatively explore a possible area of action for
early stage genocide prevention. The findings are tentative and they are suggestive
of an approach for further research. This approach involves perceiving the crime
of genocide as the worst possible scenario in a continuum of violations. Another
approach, late stage response through humanitarian intervention, involves halting
or mitigating genocide through interdicting it as an imminent crime or one already
Early stage genocide prevention will entail addressing the precursors and facilitating factors that precede genocide. In part this shifts the focus away from the crime of genocide to pursuing more general positive outcomes such as building social peace and a stable economy. Nevertheless, there are specific factors that contribute to genocide that can be addressed. It is more difficult to hold leaders of government accountable for complex factors over which they have limited or partial control, such as the economy or the actions of irregular militias. In comparison, governmental policies based in law may be more readily addressed and reversed. Group classification on national ID cards is one such policy.
Table 4: Recent actions to remove or to add Group Classification on National ID cards
|Removal or action to remove||Adoption, partial adoption or action to restore|
|Change in Law||
Full Removal: Greece 2000, Rwanda 1997, Georgia 1997
|Malaysia 1999, Thailand 1999, Kenya 1997|
|Incomplete removal or partial adoption||Reports of policy still in effect, despite removal: Indonesia 1998, Lebanon 1997, Russia 1997||Pakistan (Registration form for ID card requires religion, Passports include religion)|
|Proposal for Changes||Israel (Legislative), Turkey (Legislative), Egypt (Court Action 1997), Malaysia (Court Challenge April 2001)||Georgia (Legislative proposal to restore), Greece (Orthodox Church advocates restoration)|
In the last five years governments have eliminated group classifications from
national ID cards in Greece in 2000, and during 1997 in Georgia, Lebanon, Russia
and Rwanda. In the same period calls to end classification on ID cards have
also been made in Egypt, Indonesia, Israel and Turkey. In the same time period,
in Georgia, Greece, Israel and Russia forceful advocates for retaining religious
or ethnic classification have also spoken out. In 1992 in Pakistan an attempt
by the government to add religious classification to National ID cards was partially
halted by domestic opposition, leaving the classification on the application
form but not on the card itself. Also recently in Kenya, a country with continuing
ethnic tension, the government added a line for "kabila / tribe" to
new National ID Cards issued prior to the 1997 Presidential election.
The policy decisions related to adding, eliminating or retaining group classifications on national identity cards are several steps removed from the issue of genocide prevention. Nevertheless when more governments end the practice, those which continue to use ID card classifications will likely be those with greater polarization and intergroup conflicts. In such situations a call to abolish the classification on ID Cards or special cards can be a rallying point for moderates who seek a less polarized society. Governments, regional and international organizations and nongovernmental organizations can support such efforts.
Over the past decade more people have come to recognize that genocide is not
a rare, isolated or unique event, but instead is a crime that occurs with disturbing
frequency. With that insight, the often repeated phrase "never again"
can become a motivation not only for commemorating victims or punishing the
perpetrators of past genocide, but also a basis for rejecting and condemning
policies that make genocide more likely.
* An earlier version of this paper was presented
on June 10, 2001 as "Group Classifications on National Identity Cards as
a Facilitating Factor in Genocide, Ethnic Cleansing, and Massive Violations
of Human Rights." at the International Association of Genocide Scholars
Conference, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.
[ www.isg-ags.org/conferences/2001ags-schedule.html ]
1. Transcript of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, Session 36 (11 May
1961), Testimony of Henrietta Samuel.
2. Prosecutor vs. Jean-Paul Akayesu, (Case No. ICTR-96-4-T), Judgement, 2 September 1998, paragraph 123. The comparison between the Nazi and Rwandan ID cards and a call for further research on this topic was made by Henry R. Huttenbach in an article entitled "The letter of the Law and the Mark of Cain: When "J" was and "T" is lethal," Genocide Forum, year 1 (1994), no. 5
3. Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story (Human Rights Watch, 1999) , p. 92, note 60.
4. Questions about special cards for a single ethnic group or the inclusion of religious affiliation on a possible National ID card were asked by pollsters in the United States in the fall of 2001. Immediately after the September 11 attacks by hijackers on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll of Americans conducted September 14-15, 2001 found 49% of the public in support and 49% opposed to special ID cards for Arabs living in this country -- including those who are U.S. citizens. Persons were asked, "Please tell me if you would favor or oppose each of the following as a means of preventing terrorist attacks in the United States . . . Requiring Arabs, including those who are U.S. citizens, to carry a special ID." The item was third of eight items asked. (POLL ANALYSES, The Impact of the Attacks on America, September 25, 2001, by Jeffrey M. Jones, GALLUP NEWS SERVICE, PRINCETON, NJ. See www.gallop.com/poll/releases/pr010914c.asp . In a second poll in mid-November at the height of the Anthrax letter scare, questions about religious affiliation appearing on a possible future U.S. National Identification card were asked in a NPR/Kaiser/Kennedy School Poll on Civil Liberties. In response to the question, "Would you favor or oppose the following measures to curb terrorism. . . Requiring that all citizens carry a national identity card at all times to show to a police officer on request" a total of 70 percent favored and 26 percent were opposed to this measure. Those who favored a national identification card were asked what information they would favor having on it. Ninety-six percent favored a photograph; 88 percent were in favor of fingerprints; 59 percent favored religious affiliation; 73 percent favored criminal record information; and 64 percent were in favor of DNA information on the card. (NPR/Kaiser Family Foundation/ Kennedy School of Government National Survey on Civil Liberties, 30 Nov 2001) See http://www.people-press.org/terrorist01que.htm and http://www.npr.org/programs/specials/poll/civil_liberties/civil_liberties_static_results_7.html
5. The survey does not include the many examples of special cards issued to individual immigrants, based upon their status as foreign-born non-citizens. Another practice, much harder to document, is the failure or refusal of authorities to issue national ID cards to a particular population group. This practice can make it impossible for such persons to receive services, conduct business, travel or vote depending on the extent to which ID cards are required for these activities.
6. "[S]tate-defined identity categories can have a substantial impact on people, altering pre-existing lines of identity divisions within the society. . . The categories used by the state, writes James C. Scott, in his 1998 book Seeing Like a State, can become "categories that organize people's daily experiences precisely because they are embedded in state created institutions that structure that experience." James C. Scott Seeing Like a State, New Haven (Yale University Press 1998), p. 81- 83.
On January 21, 1993 and April 22, 1993 the European Parliament
in Strasbourg urged Greece to remove all mention of religion from national ID
cards. On June 27, 2000 the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance
(ECRI) of the Council of Europe noted that "although the constitution provides
for freedom of religion, non-Orthodox religious - notably other Christian -
groups have faced administrative obstacles and legal restrictions on religious
practice, and members often experience intolerant behavior and sometimes discrimination."
8. Antti Korkaakivi stated "The main rule of the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, which entered into force in early 1998 -- its main rule and underlying idea is that a person belonging to a national minority has the freedom, or should have the freedom, to choose to be treated or not to be treated as such [see Article 3] . . . And if there is an ethnicity line included in an identification document, that should definitely reflect this rule -- i.e., ethnicity should not in any way be imposed upon a person. If a person does not want to be treated as a member of a national minority, he or she should have the right to stay out of that." ( "Georgia: Ethnicity Proposal Stirs Debate On Nationality And Citizenship," by Jeremy Bransten, Prague, 22 January 1999 [ Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty www.rferl.org ]
9. "We, representatives of various non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and people's organisations in Southeast Asia call on members of ASEAN to [b]e accountable for discriminatory policies and practices:1. Which force minorities to change their surnames as in the tribal peoples in Thailand; 2. Which force minorities to carry a national identity cards which eliminate or change people's distinct ethnic identities like in Burma; 3. Which uses racial/religious identification in national identity cards and official government documents, that promotes greater racial and religious segregation and or discrimination as in Malaysia." (Southeast Asian Peoples' Statement on Confronting Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Conference Statement, 18 July 2001).
Andrew Bell-Fialkoff, Ethnic Cleansing (New York: St. Martin's
Griffin, 1996); Barnett R. Rubin, "Russian Hegemony and State Breakdown
in the Periphery: Causes and Consequences of the Civil War in Tajikistan,"
Paper prepared for the Carnegie Project on Political Order, Conflict and Nationalism
in the Former Soviet Union, September 1995, p. 4.
11. Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, (Holmes & Meier Publishers, New York, 1985), 173-180; Einführung der Kennkarte für Juden ab 1.1.1939 (Introduction of the identification card for Jews starting from 1.1.1939), 23. Juli 1938, Reichgesetzblatt 1 I, 922; ; Verordnung Reisepässe von Juden vom (Regulation of passports of Jews), 5. Oktober 1938Reichgesetzblatt l. I, 1342.
12. Lucy S. Dawidowicz, The War Against the Jews 1933-1945, (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975), 280-282, 297-298.
13. The full paragraph from the Hutu Manifesto reads: "Les gens ne sont d'ailleurs pas sans s'être rendu compte de l'appui de l'administration indirecte au monopole tutsi. Aussi pour mieux surveiller ce monopole de race, nous nous opposons énergiquement, du moins pour le moment, à la suppression dans les pièces d'identité officielles ou privées des mentions "muhutu", "mututsi", "mutwa". Leur suppression risque encore davantage la sélection en le voilant et en empêchant la loi statistique de pouvoir établir la vérité des faits. Personne n'a dit d'ailleurs que c'est le nom qui ennuie le Muhutu; ce sont les privilèges d'un monopole favorisé, lequel risque de réduire la majorité de la population dans une infériorité systématique et une sous-existence imméritée" from "Manifeste des Bahutu: Note sur l'aspect social du problème racial indigène au Ruanda: 24 mars 1957" in C.M. Overdulve, Rwanda: Un peuple avec une histoire, (Paris, l'Harmattan, 1997), p. 98-111; Philip Gourevitch, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda, (Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York, 1998), p. 90;
Arusha Accord (Peace Agreement between
the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front),
August 1993, Article 16: "Deletion of reference to Ethnic Group in Official
Documents:The Broad-Based Transitional Government shall, from the date of its
assumption of office, delete from all official documents to be issued any reference
to ethnic origin. Documents in use or not yet used shall be replaced by those
not bearing any reference to ethnic origin," Arusha Accord (Peace Agreement
between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic
Front), 4 August 1993.Alison Des Forges, Leave None
to Tell the Story, p. 501, citing Human Rights Watch/FIDH interview, Brussels,
December 12, 1995; Republique Rwandaise, Parquet de la Republique, P.V. no.
189 and no. 260.
See also Timothy Longman, "Identity Cards, Ethnic Self-Perception, and Genocide in Rwanda" in the forthcoming book Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World, edited by Jane Caplan and John Torpey (Princeton University Press).
15. Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men : Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, (Harper, 1993), chapter 18.