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The Unnoticed Mass Murder in Ethiopia

In a new article on Tech Central Station, Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and I detail the Ethiopian government's efforts to destroy the Anuak people, who live in southwestern Ethiopia. As is typical of past and present mass murders in East Africa (including Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda), the government has done its best to ensure that the victims are disarmed.

ys:
The article mentions "the predominantly Arab government in Addis Ababa." I never knew there were Arabs in Ethiopia much less an Arab government. Semitic languages - yes, but Arabs? Where does that come from?


[DK: It's just an error on our part. The commenter below may have discovered the etymology of the error. In any case, I sent a correction request to TCS, and I appreciate you spotting the error. Thanks, Dave.]
12.29.2006 3:25pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Anybody who's read The Blue Nile or the latest Flashman novel knows that genocide has been going on in the Horn of Africa for at least several centuries and irregardless of the locals armaments. Did the authors of the article perhaps intend to distinguish Amharic-speaking rulers (not Arabs) in Addis Adaba from non-Amahric indigenes in other parts of Ethiopia.
12.29.2006 3:31pm
wooga:
How long until someone repeats the line that individuals with guns can't defeat an army, so what's the point in having an individual right to bear arms?
Of course, that line of thinking leads to this sort of garbage from an Islamic think tank in Michigan:

only a handful of citizens outside of neo-nazi and white supremacist groups view gun ownership as a means of keeping the government in check.
source
Nevermind that it's not the army that is the direct offender against the people, but rather the roving militias (with their illegal guns, of course) that the army/police refuses to stop. See everything from Darfur to France.

Private gun ownership should be viewed as one of the most important human rights.
12.29.2006 3:49pm
Ivan (mail) (www):
David, instead of continuing to demonstrate (as you have ably) that governments that want to commit mass murder of their citizens tend to want them disarmed, can you present an argument that governments that want to disarm their citizens tend to want to commit mass murder?
In other words, if we repealed the Second Amendment and passed a complete ban on gun ownership tomorrow, should I be worried that we'll soon have a genocidal regime (a) because such bans tend to lead to genocidal governments, or (b) because genocidal governments tend to precede genocide with such bans. Your examples seem to primarily reflect (b), which I don't view as a legitimate argument against banning guns here, unless we have an independent reason to suspect our government of planning mass murder.



[DK: A lot of what I write with Paul and Joanne is reporting on on-going genocides/mass murders, so disarmament is inevitably a part of that particular story. Of course you're right that genocide does not inevitably follow local disarmament (e.g., England). My book review of "Lethal Laws" (http://davekopel.com/2A/LawRev/lethal.htm, New York Law School Journal of International and Comparative Law (1995)) discusses the difficulty of attempting to predict, with certainty, that any given nation will _not_ engage in genocide, over a 50-year time horizon. As the book review points out, sometimes gun controls are enacted with good intentions by one government (e.g., Weimar Germany) but then used to facilitate genocide by a subsequent government (e.g., the Nazis).]
12.29.2006 4:24pm
wooga:
Ivan, one difficulty in arguing your item (a) is that gun bans and restrictions against dissenting speech (the current form being hate speech or blasphemy laws) usually go hand in hand before the genocidal regime takes full effect. You have to block the citizenry from mounting an effective opposition either in words or deeds. There are lots of other issues which would make the cause-effect distinction very difficult.

Moreover, it isn't that gun bans directly lead to genocidal governments. Rather, it's that gun bans lead to a dramatic increase in the public's dependence on the government. This in turn leads to widespread acceptance of statism. Statism is the linchpin for genocide.

However, I think it is much easier to show a link between gun bans and a rise in gang level violence. Anecdotally, look at the police 'no-go' areas in France, or the staggering rise in rapes in Sweden. The common thread is armed gangs, and the population is both (1) unarmed and thus incapable of defending themselves, and (2) unable to rely on the police since the police are hampered by 'multicultural' concerns.
12.29.2006 4:38pm
Dan Hamilton:
What the Founders knew.

That ALL governments have gone BAD! Every single one. It may take some time but they go BAD.

Therefore the Founders put in the 2ed Amendment in order to give the PEOPLE a chance to defend themselves when that happened.

Government go bad. Cultures that have tended toward genocide have Governments that tend toward genocide.

Our culture doesn't tend toward genocide but that only means that we don't have to worry as much about our Government going bad in THAT way.

Unlike you I side with the Founders. All Governments have gone Bad over time. The US Government is no exception. The 2ed Amendment may keep it from happening for a long time but it will happen. There are to many dumb politicians who don't believe that PEOPLE will rise up and who believe that even if they do the police and the Army will maintain control protecting the Politicians and the Government.

The FIRST sign that are Government is going BAD will be Gun Control. Politicians want to protect their skins. First things first.
12.29.2006 4:44pm
Ivan (mail) (www):
Wooga, I appreciate your point, but it still strikes me as a rather tenuous slippery slope. There would be a lot of intermediate steps from 'normal' government to mass-murderous one, and I accept gun control as a necessary step. But you seem to agree it's not a sufficient step. It just seems to me that arguments against gun control stemming from this fail to demonstrate that gun control also engenders other intermediate steps.

As to dependence on the government, I think that stems from bans on vigilantism, which I view as an unmitigated good regardless of gun allowance. The difference comes in self-defense situations. If you think, as I do (though I'm obviously willing to be convinced otherwise) that gun control will lead to fewer criminals having guns, so gunless self-defense in homes becomes viable, then it's not clear that people's dependence on the government is greater in a gun-free society than otherwise. But that gets to your third point. The anecdotal points are interesting, but I've seen data (from interested organizations) that point both ways on the link between gun control and crime levels.

Dan, I don't quite follow your argument. I don't see the government's effort to ban guns as resulting from a rash of gun violence against politicians, so "protect[ing] their skins" seems to have little to do with it.

The more general argument regarding people's need for guns because of government inherently going bad seems a strong one against gun control, but we need a clearer narrative. From what Wooga said above ("it's not the army that is the direct offender against the people, but rather the roving militias (with their illegal guns, of course) that the army/police refuses to stop."), it seems like it's passive government, not actively bad government, that is the evil to be fought. So why should we be fighting for a government passive on guns, rather than an active one generally?

As for siding with the Founders, well, they got quite a few things right, but they didn't get everything right. I side against the Founders on a number of things, not just the importance of gun rights, and I suspect you do too (slavery, for an easy example). So the appeal to authority strikes me as weak. Like I said above, I'd like to hear why gun control is something that leads to genocidal government, rather than something genocidal governments do. I'm well convinced of the latter, just not of the former.
12.29.2006 5:32pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"If you think, as I do (though I'm obviously willing to be convinced otherwise) that gun control will lead to fewer criminals having guns, so gunless self-defense in homes becomes viable …?

Why do you think gun control will disarm criminals? Cocaine is illegal to manufacture and possess; yet it's available, why would guns be different? Moreover, one can manufacture guns with a small machine shop, after all the Afghanis make a lot of AK-47s with small machine shops.

How is a woman going to protect herself from a home invasion by a stronger man? Disarming everyone has a disproportionate effect on the population. The physically weaker people are now at a disadvantage. Isn't that the whole point of guns for personal defense?
12.29.2006 6:05pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Statism is the linchpin for genocide.

What a ridiculous argument! The most recent notable genocides (i.e., Rwanda and in the Balkans) occurred after the collapse of governments in civil war type situations, not in an organized fashion like in Nazi Germany or Cambodia. Africa has become a charnel house because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the flood of AK-47s and RPGs from former Soviet Bloc countries (as well as the collapse of proxy states), not the lack of weapons for self-defense.

Are you seriously arguing the current death rate in Baghdad (currently about 100 a day) is caused by an unarmed citizenry and a "statist" government?

However, I think it is much easier to show a link between gun bans and a rise in gang level violence. Anecdotally, look at the police 'no-go' areas in France, or the staggering rise in rapes in Sweden. The common thread is armed gangs, and the population is both (1) unarmed and thus incapable of defending themselves, and (2) unable to rely on the police since the police are hampered by 'multicultural' concerns.

And we don't have a problem with gang violence or sex crimes in this country. By the way, what exactly is the rape rate in Sweden and exactly how many people died in all that rioting in France?
12.29.2006 7:07pm
wooga:

What a ridiculous argument! The most recent notable genocides...

And the most recent notable World Series victory was by a team with a relatively small budget, therefore it is ridiculous for the Yankees to be spending so much money, since the Cardinals' victory proves that budget and victory have no causal relation!

The largest and most effective genocides are those carried out by statist players. And I'm not sure that the Soviet collapse is the source of the African problems. More likely the terrible colonial history and exploitation of ethnic differences, combined with the rise of authoritarian dictatorships, sprinkled with a little but of jihad. Cheap weapons are always available, whether manufactured in Russia or Iran.

Are you seriously arguing the current death rate in Baghdad (currently about 100 a day) is caused by an unarmed citizenry and a "statist" government?

Again, lots of death and destruction in one place does not negate the strong link between statism and genocide. That's not even touching your hyperbole that the current Iraqi violence amounts to a "genocide."

And we don't have a problem with gang violence or sex crimes in this country. By the way, what exactly is the rape rate in Sweden and exactly how many people died in all that rioting in France?

Ah yes, the relativist refuge from debate. Yes, there is a 'gang problem' in America. But compare the crime rate in American cities with "shall issue" concealed carry laws versus those without. And sure, not that many people were killed in the ongoing French riots - but that doesn't mean 100+ cars burning a day for a couple years straight is irrelevant. The French population sits and waits for their police, at the mercy of the roving gangs and without recourse - day in and day out. And sure the Swede's are still less likely to be shot than a D.C. citizen, but that doesn't negate the doubling of the rape rate in the past couple years.
12.29.2006 7:49pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
But compare the crime rate in American cities with "shall issue" concealed carry laws versus those without.

Well do that then. You make all kinds of assertions but here are the actual statistics for 2005. I know, that if not for Hurricane Katrina my city, New Orleans, would have had the highest murder rate in the country, but the storm reduced the murder rate to zero for the last three months of the year and saved us for 2005 (we didn't have our a murder between the second week of September and the middle of February). And we are certainly a shall-issue state (more like a "permit, we don't need no stinkn' permit" state"). I am certainly not arguing that local gun control laws have much of an impact on crime either way in this country (guns are just to easy to obtain) but to pretend that shall-issue laws or lax gun control laws decrease crime is completely dishonest and unsupported by any statistics or even logic as is the notion that what Africa needs is even more firearms.

That's not even touching your hyperbole that the current Iraqi violence amounts to a "genocide."

So, the Shiites are attempting to kill all the Sunnis and the Sunnis are trying to kill all the Shiites. The Kurds want to remove all non-Kurds from their areas; and Christians are afraid to practice their religion in Iraq for fear of being killed. And your definition of genocide would be?

Regardless, my point is that Kopel seems to think the solution to all the world's problems is more firepower. (I bet his wife never asks him to fix a clogged sink. He probably goes to his gun cabinet to pick out the best rifle to blast away at the offending pipe with.) I was merely pointing out that in Iraq, where practically everyone has their own AK-47 (and this was true even under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein), wholesale slaughter is taking place. Yet according to Kopel's formula (more firepower=more peace), Iraq should be the most peaceful place on the face of the earth.
12.29.2006 8:47pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
> that gun control will lead to fewer criminals having guns, so gunless self-defense in homes becomes viable

It's viable for young men, but not for other folks.

Without guns, strength is decisive.

Why are gun controllers so interested in making thuggery safe for thugs?
12.29.2006 8:48pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Why are gun controllers so interested in making thuggery safe for thugs?

Why are gun nuts so interested in perpetrating the myth that guns protect you from crimes?
12.29.2006 8:57pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Why are gun nuts so interested in perpetrating the myth that guns protect you from crimes?"

Why is this a "myth? Certainly you don't believe that guns can never help an individual protect himself? The question comes down to whether we get a net benefit from guns. It's hard to do the accounting because crimes prevented by the defensive use of guns become non-events so they generally don't show up in statistics. But let's use some common sense. If someone were breaking down your front door, wouldn't you rather have some means of protecting yourself? Or would you rather just stand there and wait for something to happen? I faced this problem once. I immediately called 911 and told them calmly but firmly that I thought I was in immediate life-threatening danger because men were pounding very hard on my front door. The police didn't come. Fortunately they didn't smash my door in and went away. But had they broken it down, I would have shot them. I have no idea of who they were.
12.29.2006 10:40pm
Kevin P. (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

in Iraq, where practically everyone has their own AK-47 (and this was true even under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein)


Please provide a credible citation that everyone in Iraq was permitted to own an AK-47 under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Everything that I have read points towards only Baathists being allowed to do so.
12.30.2006 9:58am
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
J.F.Thomas-

Africa has become a charnel house because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the flood of AK-47s and RPGs from former Soviet Bloc countries (as well as the collapse of proxy states), not the lack of weapons for self-defense.

Much of Africa has been violent and unstable for some time. Many different places sold the various countries and groups arms. Soviet bloc weapons just happen to be popular because they are fairly cheap and reliable. The genocide in Rwanda was mostly carried out with machetes, so the argument that the violence is due to a flood of Soviet bloc arms is a non-starter.

Are you seriously arguing the current death rate in Baghdad (currently about 100 a day) is caused by an unarmed citizenry and a "statist" government?

The debate over gun control assumes a society that isn't in a state of war or civil war. People in those states aren't aren't following the laws - period. So why bring it up, unless your goal was off-topic emotional manipulation? Yes, the topic here is the ability of privately owned arms to prevent genocides, but we're talking about them being in the hands of citizens while law and order are still present.
12.30.2006 2:01pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Please provide a credible citation that everyone in Iraq was permitted to own an AK-47 under the regime of Saddam Hussein. Everything that I have read points towards only Baathists being allowed to do so.

I had never heard that particular assertion and considering the Kurds (especially, who by the time of the invasion had their own army and were practically independent of Saddam) and Shiites were able to lead quite successful rebellions once we implemented no fly zones they apparently had some kinds of arms. And considering you didn't provide a link for your assertion while demanding one from me, I assume you are just making stuff up, but here you go.

The debate over gun control assumes a society that isn't in a state of war or civil war. People in those states aren't aren't following the laws - period. So why bring it up, unless your goal was off-topic emotional manipulation?

Huh? You seem to have missed the point of Kopel's most recent crusade. He wants to make sure everyone in the world, and especially Africa, has an AK-47 or RPG so they can defend themselves against governments bent on genocide. He oversimplifies conflicts and intractable problems of poverty, religion, politics, tribalism, and the vestiges of colonialism and thinks the solution to all the ills of the world is more guns. What on earth do you think this post is about? It is not about gun control in this country, it is about genocide in tribal areas in Africa. He also thinks the solution to the genocide in Darfur is arming the refugees there.
12.30.2006 2:24pm
Kevin P. (mail):
J.F. Thomas links to:

In the March 11 New York Times, Neil MacFarquhar notes in passing, "Most Iraqi households own at least one gun."


Sorry, this is not a credible citation like I requested. It is as useful as saying: "Most California households have one gun" or "Most Texas households have one gun", considering that the population of Iraq fits in between these two states. I doubt that the New York Times or anyone else surveyed the people of Iraq to make this statement with any kind of accuracy.

Please provide some kind of citation that could include any of: Estimates of weapons sales to non-military and non-government persons, gun license statistics, surveys of AK-47 ownership in Iraq to provide support for your bold claim:


...in Iraq, where practically everyone has their own AK-47 (and this was true even under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein)


I note that you have already changed your claim from "... everyone has their own AK-47" to "...apparently had some kinds of arms" but I am holding you to your original claim.
12.30.2006 7:57pm
American Psikhushka (mail) (www):
J.F.Thomas-

Huh? You seem to have missed the point of Kopel's most recent crusade.

No, I got it. It's not too complicated.

He wants to make sure everyone in the world, and especially Africa, has an AK-47 or RPG so they can defend themselves against governments bent on genocide.

Yes, but basically this is before the genocide has taken place, while there is still law and order. The idea is to prevent genocide. He likely supports arming the previous or current victims of genocide as well.

Iraq is a war and civil war situation - many members of each side are already armed. And there is a lot of slaughter there. But you still don't see unarmed people being rounded up by the thousands, or even hundreds, and executed. No amount of killing is acceptable, but there doesn't seem to be wholesale genocide on a large scale because all of the sides are armed.

He oversimplifies conflicts and intractable problems of poverty, religion, politics, tribalism, and the vestiges of colonialism and thinks the solution to all the ills of the world is more guns. What on earth do you think this post is about?

Not quite. He just forewards the thesis that an armed population has the potential to prevent or defend against genocide. The main idea is to prevent the genocide, whatever the causes or variables. He doesn't say the solution to all the ills in the world is privately owned guns. He just says that the solution to one very serious problem - genocide - may be to ensure that a population is armed so that it can prevent itself from being slaughtered.

It is not about gun control in this country, it is about genocide in tribal areas in Africa. He also thinks the solution to the genocide in Darfur is arming the refugees there.

To an extent it is a discussion about gun control everywhere, since many genocidal regimes started off by outlawing privately owned arms.

About Darfur: I think he has a good point. We certainly aren't doing anything about it in a meaningful way. The least we could do, in addition to the other aid we already contribute, would be to arm those people so they could defends themselves.
12.31.2006 8:30am