The Info List - Mass Grave

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A mass grave is a grave containing multiple human corpses, which may or may not be identified prior to burial. The United Nations
United Nations
has defined a criminal mass grave as a burial site containing three or more victims of execution.[1] Mass graves are usually created after a large number of people die or are killed, and there is a desire to bury the corpses quickly for sanitation concerns. Although mass graves can be used during major conflicts such as war and crime, in modern times they may be used after a famine, epidemic, or natural disaster. In disasters, mass graves are used for infection and disease control. In such cases, there is often a breakdown of the social infrastructure that would enable proper identification and disposal of individual bodies.


1 History 2 War

2.1 Korean War 2.2 Chile's 1973 Coup D'état 2.3 Argentina's 1976 Coup D'état 2.4 Vietnam War

3 Crime

3.1 Rwandan Genocide 3.2 Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge

4 Health Concerns 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

History[edit] Mass graves are a variation on common burial, still occasionally practiced today under normal circumstances.[clarification needed] Mass or communal burial was a common practice before the development of a dependable crematory chamber by Ludovico Brunetti in 1873. In Paris, the practice of mass burial, and in particular, the condition of the Cimetière des Innocents, led Louis XVI
Louis XVI
to eliminate Parisian cemeteries. The remains were removed and placed in the Paris underground forming the early Catacombs. Le Cimetière des Innocents alone had 6,000,000 dead to remove. Burial commenced outside the city limits in what is now Père Lachaise Cemetery.[2] War[edit] Korean War[edit] Approximately one to two hundred thousand civilians were killed at the start of the Korean War. These people were flagged by the government of South Korea
South Korea
for potentially collaborating with or sympathizing with North Korea. They were arrested and subsequently executed without trial.[3] The sites where the massacres occurred were forbidden to the public. The bodies were considered to be traitors and the act of associating with them was considered treasonous.[3] Despite this, families retrieved bodies from the shallow forbidden mass graves at the massacre sites. In 1956, bereaved families and villagers exhumed over one hundred decomposed and unidentifiable bodies, ensuring that the complete human skeleton was intact.[3] Each exhumed body was buried in its own "nameless grave" in a cemetery on Jeju Island. There is a granite memorial within the cemetery which bears the cemetery's local name, "Graves of One Hundred Ancestors and One Descendant."[3] This name functions to express the opposite of how the genealogy should be as typically many descendants derive from one ancestor.[3] Chile's 1973 Coup D'état[edit] The Chilean military coup against President Salvador Allende
Salvador Allende
occurred on September 11, 1973. The military surrounded the town of Santiago and searched for people hiding in potential guerilla insurgent locations. Civilians were detained for long periods of time and some disappeared.[4] Following the coup, bodies were abundant in the streets and in the Mapocho River. It is estimated that thirty two hundred people were executed or disappeared between 1973 and 1990 in Chile. Higher estimates are up to forty five hundred people.[4] These bodies were taken to morgues to be identified and claimed. Unidentified bodies were buried in marked mass graves.[4] From this conflict, several hidden mass graves have been identified. In December 1978, fifteen bodies were discovered in an abandoned limestone mine in Lonquén. In October 1979, nineteen bodies were exhumed after being secretly buried at the cemetery of Yumbel.[4] Mass graves were also identified in Santiago's General Cemetery with multiple bodies being forced into a single coffin. This cemetery had an influx of over three hundred bodies within a three month time span. These mass graves were distinguished by a cross with the initials "NN."[4] "NN" is indicative of the phrase "Nomen Nescio" or "no name."[4] Following extensive media coverage of these mass graves, the Chilean military decided to exhume the bodies from Lonquén, Yumbel, and Santiago's General Cemetery. The military airdropped the exhumed bodies over open water or remote mountain locations.[4] Argentina's 1976 Coup D'état[edit] On March 24, 1976 at 3:21 AM, the media told the people of Argentina that the country was now under the "operational control of the Junta of General Commanders of the Armed Forces."[5] This event and years following it became known as the 1976 Argentine coup d'état. The presiding president, President María Estela Martínez Cartas de Perón, had been taken captive two hours prior to the media announcement. The new dictatorship implemented travel bans, public gatherings, and a nighttime curfew.[5] Additionally, the new dictatorship resulted in widespread violence, leading to executions and casualties. Abducted captives were disposed of in one of the five defense zones within Argentina
where they were held. The bodies were typically buried in individual marked anonymous graves. Three mass graves are known to exist on Argentinian police and military premises although other bodies were disposed of through cremation or by being airdropped over the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately fifteen thousand people are estimated to have been assassinated.[5] Argentina's largest mass grave's exhumation began in March 1984 at the San Vicente Cemetery in Cordoba.The grave was 3.5 meters deep and 25 by 2.5 meters across. It contained approximately four hundred bodies.[5] Of the recovered and exhumed bodies, one hundred and twenty three were of young people violently killed during the 1976-1983 dictatorship. The remaining bodies were identified as older and having died nonviolent deaths such as leprosy.[5] On April 23, 1976, 17-year-old Norberto Morresi and 34-year-old Luis María Roberto were caught by First Army Corps. They were distributing the illegal magazine, Evita Montonera. Both were burned in a Chevrolet station wagon. Police
took fingerprints of the bodies, but were not able to identify them and as a result the two were buried in a mass grave. They were exhumed and identified in June 1989 by forensic anthropologists. A Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic
funeral took place on July 7, 1989. The joint reburial within a raised tomb bore political significance and several human rights activists were in attendance. The father of Norberto Morresi describes visiting his son's tombstone as "like a ritual...it helps spiritually."[5] Vietnam War[edit] Many mass graves were discovered after the Massacre at Huế
Massacre at Huế
during the Vietnam War. Crime[edit] Rwandan Genocide[edit] The Rwandan Genocide began after the unsolved death of the Rwandan president, Juvénal Habyarimana. Extremist members of the Hutu government formed an interim wartime government. They called for an extermination of the Tutsi
population, Hutu
political opponents and Hutu
whom resisted the violence. [6] The genocide lasted 100 days and resulted in an estimated 800,000 killings.[7] Rwandan people sought refuge in gathering places such as churches and stadiums. An estimated 4,000-6,000 people gathered in Kibuye Catholic Church. Around April 17, 1994, the church was surrounded by armed civilians, police and gendarmes. Those inside were attacked with a variety of weapons including grenades, guns, and machetes. Survivors of the attack were sought after and killed in the following days. Burial of these bodies took place in at least four mass graves.[8] The first mass grave resulting from this attack was discovered behind the church where several bodies were left unburied and scattered. In December 1995, archaeologists surveyed the area and flagged any potential human remains. In January 1996, forensic anthropologists located and exhumed fifty-three skeletal assemblages.[8] A second mass grave was found under a tree marked with wire, indicating a memorial. Below the tree was a trench filled with multiple bodies. The third and fourth mass graves were found using a probe to test for deteriorating remains. The third grave was marked by the local population, similar to the second grave. The fourth grave was identified by a priest.[8] Throughout the Rwandan genocide, bodies were buried in mass graves, left exposed, or disposed of though rivers. At least 40,000 bodies have been discovered in Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
which connects to Akagera River.[9] Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
Genocide[edit] Mass grave
Mass grave
mapping teams have located 125 Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
prison facilities and corresponding gravesites to date in Cambodia
while researching the Killing Fields. Health Concerns[edit] The debate surrounding mass graves amongst epidemiologists includes whether or not, in a natural disaster, to leave corpses for traditional individual burials, or to bury corpses in mass graves. For example, if an epidemic occurs during winter, flies are less likely to infest corpses, reducing the risk of outbreaks of dysentery, diarrhea, diphtheria, or tetanus, which decreases the urgency to use mass graves. A research published in 2004 indicates that the health risks from dead bodies after natural disasters are relatively limited.[10][11] See also[edit]

Allegations of mass graves at Chemmani Chechnya mass graves Crab Island (Lake Champlain) Duffy's Cut Duraiappa stadium mass grave Guba mass grave Hart Island (New York) Maguindanao Massacre Mass graves in Iraq Mass graves in the Soviet Union Mirusuvil mass grave Plague pit Sooriyakanda mass grave Srebrenica massacre Trench Vukovar massacre


^ Human remains and identification. Oxford University Press. 2015. pp. 169–171. ISBN 978-1784991975.  ^ Krupa, Frederique (1991). "Paris: Urban Sanitation Before the 20th Century".  ^ a b c d e Necropolitics : mass graves and exhumations in the age of human rights. Wilson, Richard, 1964-, Robben, Antonius C. G. M.,, Ferrándiz, Francisco, (First edition ed.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2015. ISBN 9780812247206. OCLC 911497054. CS1 maint: Extra text (link) ^ a b c d e f g Necropolitics : mass graves and exhumations in the age of human rights. Wilson, Richard, 1964-, Robben, Antonius C. G. M.,, Ferrándiz, Francisco, (First edition ed.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2015. ISBN 9780812247206. OCLC 911497054. CS1 maint: Extra text (link) ^ a b c d e f Necropolitics : mass graves and exhumations in the age of human rights. Wilson, Richard, 1964-, Robben, Antonius C. G. M.,, Ferrándiz, Francisco, (First edition ed.). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2015. ISBN 9780812247206. OCLC 911497054. CS1 maint: Extra text (link) ^ After mass crime : rebuilding states and communities. Pouligny, Béatrice., Chesterman, Simon., Schnabel, Albrecht. Tokyo: United Nations University Press. 2007. ISBN 9789280811384. OCLC 226911996.  ^ "Rwanda: How the genocide happened". BBC News. 2011-05-17. Retrieved 2018-04-01.  ^ a b c Haglud, W.D.; Connor, M; Scott, D.D. (2001). "The Archaeology of Contemporary Mass Graves". Society for Historical Archaeology. 35: 57–69 – via JSTOR.  ^ Human remains and mass violence : methodological approaches. Dreyfus, Jean-Marc,, Gessat-Anstett, Élisabeth,, Gessat-Anstett, E⁺ѓlisabeth,. Manchester. ISBN 9780719096501. OCLC 953458622.  ^ "Mass graves draw out the pain for quake-hit Haitians". Reuters. 20 January 2010. Archived from the original on 24 January 2010. CS1 maint: Unfit url (link) ^ "Infectious Disease
Risks From Dead Bodies Following Natural Disasters" (PDF). Pan Am J Public Health. 15 (5). 2004. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mass graves.

Mass Graves of the Indonesian Massacres of 1965 - 66 Video on the exhumation of a mass grave of World War
II German soldiers in Villeneuve-Loubet, southern France, in 2006 Mass Graves of Iraq Article about the effects of mass graves after the 2003 Iran earthquake. General article about mass graves Exhumation of WWII era mass graves of German and Soviet sold