Genocides in history
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Deportations of Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians
Some scholars believe the mass deportations of up to 17500 Lithuanians, 17000 Latvians and 6000 Estonians carried out by Stalin were the start of a genocide. When added with the killing of the Forest Brethren and the renewed Dekulakization which followed the Soviet reconquest of the Baltic states at the end of world war two. The total number of people deported to Siberia was 118559 from Lithuania 52541 from Latvia and 32540 from Estonia. Due to the high death rate of deportees during the first few years of their Siberian exile, caused by the failure of Soviet authorities to provide suitable clothing or housing at the destination, whether through neglect or premeditation, some sources consider these deportations an act of genocide. Based on the Martens Clause and the principles of the Nuremberg Charter, the European Court of Human Rights has held that the March deportation constituted a crime against humanity. According to Erwin Oberlander, under the current laws of genocide these mass deportations do not constitute a genocide, rather a crime against humanity.
Lithuania began trials for genocide in 1997. Latvia and Estonia began theirs in 1998. Latvia has since convicted four security officers who had been involved in the mass deportations and in 2003 sentenced a former KGB agent to five years. Estonia has tried and convicted ten men for their actions during the deportations and others are under investigation. In Lithuania by 2004 23 cases were before the courts, but as of the end of the year none have been convicted.
In 2007 Estonia charged Arnold Meri (then 88 years old), a former Soviet Communist Party official and highly decorated former Red Army soldier, with genocide for his alleged role in deportations of Estonians to Soviet gulags in Siberia. Shortly after the trial opened, it was suspended because of Meri’s frail health and then abandoned because he died of lung cancer. A memorial in Vilnius, Lithuania, is dedicated to the genocide victims of Stalin as well as Hitler, and the Museum of Genocide Victims in Lithuania, that was set up on 14 October 1992 under the auspices of the Lithuanian Minister of Culture and Education and the President of the Lithuanian Union of Political Prisoners and Deportees. The Lithuanian museum was established in the former KGB headquarters and chronicles the imprisonment and deportation of Lithuanians by officials of the Soviet Union.
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