Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Mass killings
Government sanctioned violence against civilians

A massacre is an event of killing people who are not engaged in hostilities or are defenseless. It is generally used to describe a targeted killing of civilians en masse by an armed group or person.

The word is a loan of a French term for "butchery" or "carnage". Other terms with overlapping scope include war crime, pogrom, mass killing, mass murder, and extrajudicial killing.


Since 1948, an average of 100,000 persons have been killed every year, frequently as a result of massacres, in acts of war. Following seizure of power in 1965, between 500,000 and 1 million people had been murdered by, or with the complicity, of the military.  In the 1965-1966 Indonesian massacre, one of the worst, yet least known, mass killings since World War II, an estimated half a million Indonesians suspected of being Communists were murdered by soldiers and paramilitary death squads.  In Java in the mid-1980s, 5,000 people were killed by government-sanctioned death squads. Since 1989 a further 2,000 civilians have been killed in the North of Sumatra. 200,000 East Timorese were killed by Indonesian military personal in the mid 1970's. A million Cambodians died in the 1970's under the regime of Pol Pot. In the early 1980's 100,000 people were massacred in Mozambique, mainly by the rebel group Renamo. In Burma, the army killed an estimated 3,000 people as they protested 26 years of authoritarian rule in September 1988. In the past 50 years more than a million Tibetans have died at the hands of the Chinese. In Brazil, on 28 March 1988, 14 Tikuna Indians were massacred and in April 1988, 20 Yanomanis in the State of Toraima were killed. On March 1987 more than 1,000 Dinkas of Sudan were massacred in the most abominable manner by the inhabitants of a town in the west of the country where they had taken refuge after repeated attacks on their villages by Arab militia. On October 30, 1992, an estimated 60 Unita rebels and civilians of Luanda were killed by the Angolan police force. The Burundian army, dominated by the Tutsi tribe, was reported in 1993 to be carrying out systematic slaughter of the long-oppressed, though numerically dominant, Hutu tribe following the murder, after three months in office, of the first democratically-elected president, also a Hutu. Between 1969 and 1988, as many as 300,000 Hutu people of Burundi were killed by the Tutsi minority. In 1994 several thousand people were massacred in Rwanda.

It is estimated that the purges of Stalin cost as many as 40 million lives. Between 1941 and 1945, the Ustashe regime in the Nazi puppet state of Croatia exterminated some 500,000 Serbs and tens of thousands of Jews. Gypsies and communists. Massacres have recently occurred in Uganda under Idi Amin and Milton Obote, the village of My Lai in Vietnam by American soldiers, South Korea, Zimbabwe, The Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, China, and Liberia. Many of the 150,000 Soviet Greeks who fled Turkey during the extermination of 350,000 Greeks in 1918, are using recent political reforms as an opportunity to end decades of forced exile.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
D: Detailed problems
Date of last update
06.03.2021 – 23:18 CET