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Internment is the imprisonment of people, commonly in large groups, without charges[1] or intent to file charges,[2] and thus no trial. The term is especially used for the confinement "of enemy citizens in wartime or of terrorism suspects".[3] Thus, while it can simply mean imprisonment, it tends to refer to preventive confinement rather than confinement after having been convicted of some crime. Use of these terms is subject to debate and political sensitivities.[4]

Interned persons may be held in prisons or in facilities known as internment camps, also known as concentration camps. This involves internment generally, as distinct from the subset, extermination camps, popularly referred to as death camps.

Internment also refers to a neutral country's practice of detaining belligerent armed forces and equipment on its territory during times of war under the Hague Convention of 1907.[5]

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights restricts the use of internment. Article 9 states that "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile."[6]

Defining internment and concentration camp

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the term concentration camp as: "A camp where persons are confined, usually without hearings and typically under harsh conditions, often as a result of their membership in a group which the government has identified as dangerous or undesirable."[7]

Although the first example of civilian internment may date as far back as the 1830s,[8] the English term concentration camp was first used in order to refer to the reconcentrados (reconcentration camps) which were set up by the Spanish military in Cuba during the Ten Years' War (1868–78).[9] and similar camps were set up by the United States during the Philippine–American War (1899–1902).[10] The term concentration camp saw wider use as the British set up camps during the Second Boer War (1899–1902) in South Africa for interning Boers[9][11] and in Kenya during the Mau Mau Uprising (1952–1960) for holding and torturing Kenyans.[12][13] Concentration camps were also set up in Chile during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973–1990).[14]

During the 20th century, the arbitrary internment of civilians by the state reached its most extreme form with the establishment of the Nazi concentration camps (1933–45). The Nazi concentration camp system was extensive, with as many as 15,000 camps[15] and at least 715,000 simultaneous internees.[16] The total number of casualties in these camps is difficult to determine, but the deliberate policy of extermination through labor in many of the camps was designed to ensure that the inmates would die of starvation, untreated disease and summary executions within set periods of time.[17] Moreover, Nazi Germany established six extermination camps, specifically designed to kill millions, primarily by gassing.[18][19]

As a result, the term "concentration camp" is sometimes conflated with the concept of an "extermination camp" and historians debate whether the term "concentration camp" or the term "internment camp" should be used to describe other examples of civilian internment.[4]

Some international media reports have claimed that as many as 3 million Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minority groups are being held in China's re-education camps which are located in the Xinjiang region.[20]


  • US Civil War (1861–1865)

  • Ten Years' War in Cuba (1868–1878)

  • Boer War in South Africa (1900–1902)

  • German concentration camps before and during World War II (1933–1945)

  • Japanese internment of Europeans during World War II (−1945)

  • Japanese-American internment camps in World War II (1942–1946)

  • Japanese Canadian internment (1942–1949)

  • Cyprus internment camps (1946–1949)

  • Operation Demetrius in Northern Ireland (1971)

  • Ovčara camp in Croatia, 1991

  • Omarska camp in Bosnia, 1992

  • North Korean penal labour camps (1948–present)[21][22]

  • Guantanamo Bay detention camp under the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations (2002–present)[23][24]

  • Uyghur 're-education' camps in People's Republic of China (2014–present)[25][26]

  • Trump administration migrant detentions as part of immigration detention in the United States (2018–present)[27][28][29]

See also

  • Civilian internee

  • Extermination through labor

  • Extrajudicial detention

  • Gulag

  • House arrest

  • Immigration detention

  • Immigration detention in the United States

  • Labor camp

  • Kwalliso (North Korea's political penal labour colonies)

  • Laogai (Chinese, "reform through labor")

  • Military Units to Aid Production

  • "Polish death camp" controversy

  • Prison overcrowding

  • Prisoner-of-war camp

  • Prisons in North Korea

  • Quasi-criminal

  • Re-education camp (Vietnam)

  • Re-education through labor

  • Remand (detention)


Citation Link//www.jstor.org/stable/27879033Lowry, David (1976). Human Rights Vol. 5, No. 3 "INTERNMENT: DENTENTION WITHOUT TRIAL IN NORTHERN IRELAND". American Bar Association: ABA Publishing. p. 261. JSTOR 27879033. The essence of internment lies in incarceration without charge or trial.
Sep 30, 2019, 6:50 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comKenney, Padraic (2017). Dance in Chains: Political Imprisonment in the Modern World. Oxford University Press. p. 47. A formal arrest usually comes with a charge, but many regimes employed internment (that is, detention without intent to file charges)
Sep 30, 2019, 6:50 PM
Citation Linkdictionary.reference.com"the definition of internment". www.dictionary.com.
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Citation Linkwww.npr.org"Euphemisms, Concentration Camps And The Japanese Internment". npr.org.
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Citation Linkwww.yale.edu"The Second Hague Convention, 1907". Yale.edu. Archived from the original on 9 October 2012. Retrieved 1 February 2013.
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Citation Linkwww.un.orgUniversal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 9, United Nations
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Citation Linkahdictionary.com"Concentration camp". American Heritage Dictionary. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgJames L. Dickerson (2010). Inside America's Concentration Camps: Two Centuries of Internment and Torture. p. 29. Chicago Review Press ISBN 9781556528064
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.org"Concentration Camp". The Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth ed.). Columbia University Press. 2008.
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Citation Linkwww.smithsonianmag.com"Concentration Camps Existed Long Before Auschwitz". Smithsonian. 2 November 2017.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.org"Documents re camps in Boer War". sul.stanford.edu. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
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Citation Linkmorningstaronline.co.uk"Museum of British Colonialism releases online 3D models of British concentration camps in Kenya". Morning Star. 27 August 2019.
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Citation Linkwww.washingtonpost.com"The Mau Mau Rebellion". The Washington Post. 31 December 1989.
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Citation Linkwww.theguardian.com"Chilean coup: 40 years ago I watched Pinochet crush a democratic dream". The Guardian. 7 September 2013.
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Citation Linkwww.jewishvirtuallibrary.orgConcentration Camp Listing Sourced from Van Eck, Ludo Le livre des Camps. Belgium: Editions Kritak; and Gilbert, Martin Atlas of the Holocaust. New York: William Morrow 1993 ISBN 0-688-12364-3. In this online site are the names of 149 camps and 814 subcamps, organized by country.
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Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgEvans, Richard J. (2005). The Third Reich in Power. New York: Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-14-303790-3.
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Citation Linkweb.archive.orgMarek Przybyszewski, IBH Opracowania – Działdowo jako centrum administracyjne ziemi sasińskiej (Działdowo as the centre of local administration). Internet Archive, 22 October 2010.
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Citation Linkbooks.google.comRobert Gellately; Nathan Stoltzfus (2001). Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany. Princeton University Press. p. 216. ISBN 978-0-691-08684-2.
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Citation Linkwww.nybooks.comAnne Applebaum, A History of Horror, Review of "Le Siècle des camps" by Joël Kotek and Pierre Rigoulot, The New York Review of Books, 18 October 2001
Sep 30, 2019, 6:50 PM
Citation Linkwww.newsweek.com"As the U.S. Targets China's 'Concentration Camps,' Xinjiang's Human Rights Crisis is Only Getting Worse". Newsweek. 22 May 2019.
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