WASHINGTON, DC – Throughout history, mistreatment of minorities – whether ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural, regional, ideological, sexual, or other – has fueled violence and devastated societies worldwide. Egregious cases in the last century include the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia, and the genocide in Rwanda.
The abuse of minorities, and reactions to it, often are linked to fault lines in conflicted societies. Minorities tend to experience economic inequality and political marginalization. This negative trend shows no sign of waning. While international treaties, national laws, more and stronger institutions, improved education, and efforts by organized religious groups to foster respect for minorities can help to ameliorate the problem, collective efforts have so far fallen woefully short.