Democide is the elimination of a despised group by a government. It includes genocide, politicide, and other forms of state-sponsored mass murder. The hated minority headed for extermination may be defined by religious, racial, political, class, cultural or other attributes. Between 200 and 260 million people were the victims of democide in the 20th century, several times more than were killed in international wars during that period.
The first widely studied modern democide occurred in Turkey between 1915 and 1923, when the Turkish government decided to eliminate the country’s Christian minority, primarily ethnic Armenians and Greeks who had Turkish roots extending back to before the Islamic conquest. Two million Christians were murdered on forced marches into deserts without water or food. This democide occurred in view of Western reporters, who took photographs and posted contemporary wire reports. The fact that the democide was known outside Turkey did not deter the Turkish leaders.
The Armenian Genocide, as it has become known, was also widely known inside Turkey, where the majority Muslim population either supported or at least passively tolerated the democide. It was impossible to miss the sight of thousands of Christians at a time being rounded up and force-marched through towns and into the burning deserts on one-way trips.