Cultural genocide or cultural cleansing is a concept that lawyer Raphael Lemkin distinguished in 1944 as a component of genocide. The precise definition of "cultural genocide" remains contested. However, The Armenian Genocide Museum defines cultural genocide as "acts and measures undertaken to destroy nations' or ethnic groups' culture through spiritual, national, and cultural destruction." 
As early as 1944, lawyer Raphael Lemkin distinguished a cultural component of genocide, which since then has become known as "cultural genocide". The term has since acquired rhetorical value as a phrase that is used to actions that destroy cultural heritage and tradition. It is also often misused as a catchphrase to condemn any form of destruction which the speaker disapproves of, without regard for the criterion of intent to destroy an affected group as such.
The drafters of the 1948 Genocide Convention considered the use of the term, but later dropped it from their consideration. The legal definition of genocide is unspecific about the exact way in which genocide is committed, only stating that it is destruction with the intent to destroy a racial, religious, ethnic or national group as such.
Indigenous peoples have the collective and individual right not to be subjected to ethnocide and cultural genocide, including prevention of and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures;
(e) Any form of propaganda directed against them.
This wording only appeared in a draft. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly during its 62nd session at UN Headquarters in New York City on 13 September 2007, but only mentions "genocide, or any other act of violence" in Article 7 (the only reference to genocide in the document). The concept of "ethnocide" and "cultural genocide" was removed in the version adopted by the General Assembly, but the sub-points noted above from the draft were retained (with slightly expanded wording) in Article 8 that speaks to "the right not to be subject to forced assimilation".
Cultural genocide involves the eradication and destruction of cultural artifacts, such as books, artworks, and structures, and the suppression of cultural activities that do not conform to the destroyer's notion of what is appropriate.Motives may include religious ones (e.g., iconoclasm), as part of a campaign of ethnic cleansing in order to remove the evidence of a people from a specific locale or history, as part of an effort to implement a Year Zero, in which the past and its associated culture is deleted and history is "reset", the suppression of an indigenous culture by invaders and colonisers, along with many other potential reasons.
Examples of the term's usage
The term has been used to describe the destruction of cultural heritage in connection with various events:
In reference to Francoist Spain, the prohibition of the use of minority languages such as Catalan in the public space, from schools to shops, public transport, or even in the streets, the banning of the use of Catalan birth names for children, the persecution and destruction of books in Catalan language, renaming of cities, streets and all toponyms from Catalan to Spanish, and the abolition of government and all cultural institutions in Catalonia, with the goal of total cultural suppression and assimilation: "A policy of cultural genocide was implemented: the Catalan language and key symbols of Catalan independent identity and nationhood, such as the flag (the senyera), the national hymn ('Els Segadors') and the national dance (the sardana), were proscribed. Any sign of independence or opposition, in fact, was brutally suppressed. Catalan identity and consequently the Catalan nation were threatened with extinction."
In 2007, a Canadian Member of Parliament criticized the Ministry of Indian Affairs' destruction of documents which were evidence to the "cultural genocide" imposed on Indigenous peoples within Canada.
The destruction by Azerbaijan of thousands of medieval Armenian gravestones at a cemetery in Julfa, and Azerbaijan's subsequent denial that the site had ever existed, has been cited as an example of cultural genocide.
Historian Jean Brownfield cited the 1638 Treaty of Hartford as a "clear and explicit historical example of a cultural genocide, in which the Pequot language and name were outlawed and there was a clearly stated intention that this cultural entity would simply cease to exist."
Reportedly, some one million members of China's MuslimUyghurs minority have been detained in mass detention camps, termed "reeducation camps", which are aimed at changing the political thinking of detainees, their identities, and their religious beliefs. Satellite evidence suggests that China has also razed more than two dozen Uyghur Muslim religious sites to the ground.
In 2015, Beverly McLachlin, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, stated in a speech to the Global Centre for Pluralism that Canada's historical treatment of Indigenous peoples was an attempt at cultural genocide, and "the worst stain on Canada's human-rights record".
^Robert Jaulin (1970). La paix blanche : introduction à l’ethnocide (in French). Éditions du Seuil.
^Gerard Delanty; Krishan Kumar (29 June 2006). The SAGE Handbook of Nations and Nationalism. SAGE. p. 326. ISBN978-1-4129-0101-7. Retrieved 28 February 2013. The term 'ethnocide' has in the past been used as a replacement for cultural genocide (Palmer 1992; Smith 1991:30-3), with the obvious risk of confusing ethnicity and culture.
^Draft United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples drafted by The Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities Recalling resolutions 1985/22 of 29 August 1985, 1991/30 of 29 August 1991, 1992/33 of 27 August 1992, 1993/46 of 26 August 1993, presented to the Commission on Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council at 36th meeting 26 August 1994 and adopted without a vote.
^History Today, November 2007, "Sacred Stones Silenced in Azerbaijan"
^Switzerland-Armenia Parliamentary Group, "The Destruction of Jugha", Bern, 2006.
^CGS 1st Workshop: "Cultural Genocide" and the Japanese Occupation of Korea (archive) "During Germany's occupation of Poland (1939-1945) and Japan's occupation of Korea (1910-1945), the prohibition of use of the native tongue, the renaming of people and places, the removal of indigenous people from institutions of higher education, the destruction of cultural facilities, the denial of freedom of religious faith, and the changing of cultural education all took place. The instances of German cultural genocide, which Lemkin took as his basis, cannot be ignored when conducting comparative research.""One of the most striking features of Japan's occupation of Korea is the absence of an awareness of Korea as a "colony", and the absence of an awareness of Koreans as a "separate ethnicity". As a result, it is difficult to prove whether or not the leaders of Japan aimed for the eradication of the Korean race."
^Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (21 April 1989). Les droits de l'homme [Human rights]. Apostrophes (Videotape) (in French). Ina.fr. Retrieved 2 May 2015.