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Raphael Lemkin

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Rafael Lemkin (1900-1959) was a Polish lawyer. Before World War II, Lemkin was interested by the Armenian Genocide and campaigned in the League of Nations to have what he then termed "Barbarism" (the annhilation of an ethnicity) and "vandalism" (the destruction of an ethnicity's culture) banned. He is best known for his work against genocide, a word that he defined in 1944, from the roots genos (Greek for family, tribe or race) and -cide (Latin for killing). He used the word first in print in Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation - Analysis of Government - Proposals for Redress.

Lemkin was originally born in imperial Russia, an area that later become the Bialystok Voivodship town of Wylkowyszki, Poland (now Volkovysk located in Belarus). He fled to Sweden shortly after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. He lost about 49 of his close relatives in the Holocaust; they were among over 3 million Polish Jews annihilated during the Nazi occupation. Some members of his family died in Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union. Lemkin's only European family members to survive were his brother, Elias, and his wife and two sons, who had been sent to a Soviet forced labor camp.

After the Holocaust, Lemkin campaigned for the international laws defining and forbidding genocide, and achieved his goal in 1951 when the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide came into effect.

The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide defines genocide as:

any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

   * (a) Killing members of the group;
   * (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
   * (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its   
         physical destruction in whole or in part;
   * (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
   * (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. 


External links

http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html

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