"You’ve Got to Destroy the Foundations": Destruction of Sacred Spaces as Preludes to Genocide in China and Bosnia

By: Maya James

April 20, 2020

Virtual Spring 2020 REWA Student Symposium

Eerily similar to the Bosnian war and eventual genocide, China projects real security threats (violent separatists) onto non-combatants (Uighurs) in the name of state security. However, these perceived security threats are unfounded and used to justify the destruction of sacred spaces before committing genocide.


“The Destruction of Cultural and Religious Sites: A Violation of Human Rights,” UN Office of the High Commissioner, September 24, 2012.

András J. Riedlmayer, “Destruction of Cultural Heritage in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992–1996: A Post-War Survey Of Selected Municipalities,” Expert Report commissioned by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (2002). 

Bahram K. Sintash, “Demolishing Faith: The Destruction and Desecration of Uyghur Mosques and Shrines,” Uyghurism.com and Uyghur Human Rights Project (2019). 

Martyn Smith, Religion, Culture, and Sacred Space (New York: Palgrave Macmillan,2008).

Alan Taylor, “20 Years Since The Bosnian War,” The Atlantic, April 13, 2012.

Ole Wæver, “Securitization and Desecuritization,” in Ronnie Lipschutz, ed., On Security (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995),46–86.

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