Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
February 1-8, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


"Lawsuit Against Top CCP Official Goes to Supreme Court"
By James Burke
The Epoch Times, 2 February 2006
"An Australian resident has taken her next step in a lawsuit against a high level member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for the crimes of torture and genocide. Sydney resident and Falun Gong practitioner Ms. Yan Xie, 37, attended the first directions hearing held at Supreme Court of NSW on Wednesday February 1 for her lawsuit against Zhang Dejiang, Secretary of the CCP of Guangdong Province. Outside the court Ms. Yan told The Epoch Times there are no legal means for Falun Gong practitioners inside mainland China to end the persecution and that Chinese lawyers seeking to act on behalf of Falun Gong practitioners themselves also become victims of the persecution. 'Now we have a chance and today is the first chance ... I hope our action can let the criminals know that they will be brought to justice and help [stop] the persecution immediately,' said Ms. Yan. Addressing a press conference outside the Supreme Court was Jonathon Solomon from the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong (WOIPFG) who gave details about the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China. 'Guangdong Province in China is one of the provinces where the persecution is most severe,' he said. It was in this province that Ms. Yan was sent to a forced-labour camp for over two years for her belief in Falun Gong and for her attempts to reveal the severity of the persecution. In the labour camp she and other practitioners were forced to work 16 hours per day, were tortured and were subjected to mental brainwashing. [...]"


"Congo: Bringing Justice to The Heart Of Darkness"
By Steve Crawshaw
The Independent, 6 February 2006
"[...] There are glimmers of hope on the horizon, despite the renewed violence that continued in eastern Congo in recent weeks. National elections are due in April which could pave the way for long-term peace. The International Criminal Court has made the crimes committed in Congo the subject of its first investigation. Those who bear ultimate responsibility for the killings of Nyakunde and elsewhere may yet face justice. The mayor of Nyakunde, Jean Gaston Herambo, certainly hopes so. Scattered through the town, there are mass graves -- bodies were thrown down a well, buried in latrines, and elsewhere. Mr Herambo wants to build a monument to the dead. At the side of his house lies what appears to be a macabre memento -- a box containing 20 skulls. The violent deaths are all too clear; the skulls are marked with jagged gashes from the killers' machetes. But Mr Herambo's intentions are not macabre. He hopes this and the mass graves can yet yield valuable evidence for investigators: 'It is important that [the killers] should be judged and brought to justice so that this can't happen again.' Previously, such hopes might have seemed mere fantasy. No longer, perhaps. The ICC investigation means that everything could change. The court's chief prosecutor has said that, after two years of investigations, the first Congolese arrest warrants will probably be issued soon. [...]"

"Torment of Africa's 'Child Witches'"
By Richard Hoskins
The Sunday Times, 5 February 2006
"[...] There are estimated to be between 30,000 and 50,000 homeless children on the streets of that lawless city [Kinshasa], stealing, begging, selling anything they can find, including themselves. The true number is incalculable but this estimate is certainly conservative. Many are Aids orphans. Others are the children of Congo's desperate civil war, which has killed 4m people since the late 1990s. But a shockingly high proportion of these children, Mafu told me, are on the streets because of the mushrooming influence of the new revivalist churches. Still more children are not on the streets but are held virtual prisoner in church compounds, apparently awaiting exorcism. Congo's social affairs minister, Bernard Ndjunga, has estimated these might number as many as 50,000 too. 'If the churches say the kids have kindoki they become outcasts from their families,' Mafu told me. 'And the churches say it because it increases their own power over the people. They can also make a lot of money out of it.' The children are released to their parents only after payment of what may be substantial dues. Mafu estimated that there are hundreds of such churches around Kinshasa. Many of them have sprung up in the past three or four years. Some of the churches and the pastors who run them have become very rich indeed. [...]"


"East Timor Report Scathing of Downer"
Australian Associated Press dispatch
in The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 February 2006
"Australia wanted East Timor to remain an Indonesian province and the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, lobbied Jakarta to delay a vote for independence, a report to the United Nations has found. East Timor's truth and reconciliation commission has been collecting evidence from thousands of witnesses for the past three years about Indonesia's takeover of the former Portuguese colony in 1975. Its final report, which says about 183,000 East Timorese died as a result of the occupation, was handed to the UN two weeks ago. The 2500-page study was published this week on the website of the US-based International Centre for Transitional Justice. The report says Australia 'contributed significantly to denying the people of Timor-Leste their right to self-determination before and during the Indonesian occupation.' In order to maintain a good relationship with Indonesia, Australia violated its obligations under international law and backed the bigger neighbour's push to take over East Timor in 1975. It also was influenced by a desire to get the most it could out of maritime boundary negotiations affecting oil and gas reserves. Australia also gave Indonesia economic and military assistance throughout the 24-year occupation and advocated on its behalf in the international community, the commission said. [...]"


"UN's Feared Blue Helmets Blamed for Haiti Attacks"
By Reed Lindsay
The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 February 2006
"[...] More than 9000 UN troops and police have managed to stabilise nearly every part of this country, stamping out rebellions by former soldiers and pacifying the defiant Port-au-Prince slum of Bel Air, once a stronghold for armed supporters of the ousted president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But as the country prepares for next Tuesday's election, one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the poorest nation in the Western hemisphere remains beyond the UN's control. 'Cite Soleil is the most serious challenge of our mission,' said Juan Gabriel Valdes, a Chilean diplomat who is chief of the UN mission, known as Minustah. Two Jordanian battalions -- 1500 troops, equipped with M-16s, machine guns and more than 50 tanks -- have been unable to root out the armed groups from the warren of alleys and precarious hovels. Four peacekeepers have been killed in the outskirts of the slum in the past month. Jordanian checkpoints have sustained heavy fire of up to 1000 rounds a day, while the peacekeepers regularly fire twice that many, a UN official said. Many Cite Soleil residents blame the peacekeepers, not the armed groups, for the violence. They accuse the blue helmets of shooting wantonly from their tanks, killing innocent civilians. 'Every day the Minustah is shooting people,' said Wilner Pierre, lying on a hospital bed with a large bandage covering his lower stomach. The 35-year-old mechanic said UN troops shot him in the back while he was walking down the main avenue in Cite Soleil. [...]"


"Minister Admits Troops Tortured, Raped Papuans"
By Mark Forbes
The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 February 2006
"Some Indonesian soldiers had raped and tortured Papuans, the Defence Minister, Juwono Sudarsono, has conceded, but he claimed the Australian Government had been 'persuaded' that a boatload of 43 Papuan asylum seekers should be returned. Mr. Sudarsono said Indonesian leaders had 'persuaded the Prime Minister of Australia that they should be returned to us as soon as possible, that there will be no repression or reprisal against these 43 citizens of Indonesia. But it's very difficult because once it's in the hands of the immigration officers in Australia, the law must operate on the ground there,' he said. Claims of systematic human rights abuses to repress independence sentiments in Papua were unfair, he said. 'I grant that there have been incidents of some brutality and torture and rape involving some of our troops, but there has been a tendency to blanket all of this into a notion that all of these efforts are systematic and institutional.' The 43 Papuans, who included independence activists, arrived in northern Australia last month after a five-day voyage. They said they had been persecuted in Papua and would be killed if they returned. Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirayuda, said the group had no legitimate claim to be refugees. The Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, has said the asylum seekers would not be harmed and urged their speedy return. Australian immigration officials have determined the 43 asylum seekers potentially had genuine refugee claims and are processing their cases."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Iran as Bad as Nazis: Merkel"
By Peter Conradi
The Sunday Times, 5 February 2006
"The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, compared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran to Adolf Hitler yesterday as Tehran vowed to resume the enrichment of uranium which could be used to make nuclear weapons. Amid growing fears that the Iranians are intent on acquiring an 'Islamic bomb,' Merkel warned that the world must not repeat the mistakes it made in appeasing the Nazis. 'Looking back to German history in the early 1930s when National Socialism was on the rise, there were many outside Germany who said, "It's only rhetoric -- don't get excited,"' Merkel told an international security conference in Munich. 'There were times when people could have reacted differently and, in my view, Germany is obliged to do something at the early stages,' she added. 'We want to, we must prevent Iran from developing its nuclear programme.' Merkel issued a blunt warning to Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map.' 'Iran has blatantly crossed the red line,' she said. 'I say it as a German chancellor. A president who questions Israel's right to exist, a president who denies the Holocaust cannot expect to receive any tolerance from Germany.[ [...]"

"Faces of Death"
By Jonathan V. Last
The Weekly Standard, 3 February 2006
"[...] Joseph Akrami, an exiled Iranian filmmaker, has recently produced a documentary about human-rights abuse in Iran called A Few Simple Shots, which makes plain this point. Many scenes in A Few Simple Shots are worrisome, but familiar: photos of dozens of street executions; testimony from former political prisoners who endured terrible torture. One woman, Roya, recalls seeing the scarred back of her cell mate, a young girl. Her skin was pink and shriveled from the base of her skull to her lower back, as if she had been set on fire. The girl had been flogged for 12 continuous hours. In Iranian prisons, floggings are a matter of course. Another former prisoner, Hojat, recalls how his torturers sometimes beat him with cables; other times they used the fan belt from a car engine, so as to better split the skin. ... In Iran, however, torture and abasement are not just a province of the secret police. They are also a matter of public policy. Consider the November 2005 hanging of two Iranian men for the crime of homosexuality. As Human Rights Watch explains, 'Iranian law punishes all penetrative sexual acts between adult men with the death penalty. Nonpenetrative sexual acts between men are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are punished with death.' If you can imagine, these poor souls got off easy. In July 2005, two teenage sexual offenders were also put to death, but before their execution, they were given 228 lashes -- just for good measure. ... This is the face of the Iranian regime that so hungers for a nuclear bomb. We would do well not to forget it."


"Sunnis Accuse Shiites in Mass Killings"
By Borzou Daragahi
The Los Angeles Times, 5 February 2005 [Registration Required]
"A recent surge in killings with sectarian overtones has left at least two dozen Iraqis dead, angering the country's Sunni Arab minority as negotiations to draw them into a future government continue. On Saturday, authorities identified two groups of corpses as those of young Sunni Arab men dumped in separate locations in a poor neighborhood of northwestern Baghdad. The men had recently been detained by Iraqi security forces, and all the bodies bore signs of torture, Sunni Arab political and religious leaders said. 'They are raiding homes and mosques and making random arrests,' said Harith Obeidi, a leader of a Sunni group that is part of negotiations to form a new government. 'The people are in government cars and wearing the government uniforms. They arrest people and beat them during the raids, and after two days we find them killed on the road or at the morgue.' Sunni political officials allege that since May at least 1,600 Sunni Arabs have disappeared after such raids without any accounting for their whereabouts. ... The two most recent batches of corpses were identified as those of men arrested in raids on two mosques, one Jan. 30 in Baghdad and another Thursday near Taji, north of the capital, Sunni leaders said. [...]"
[n.b. The arrests are not "random"; they are targetd on the basis of communal affiliation, and are ruthlessly gender-selective of adult Sunni males.]


"Foreign Minister Taro Aso's Dirty Secret"
By Christopher Reed, 2 February 2006
"Japan's 'top priority' in new talks with North Korea opening Saturday, February 4, in Beijing, will be the case of 15 of its citizens abducted to Pyongyang between 1977-83. But absent from Tokyo's agenda will be another unresolved disgrace: decades of enforced removal to Japan for work-slavery of a million Koreans -- including 12,000 laborers compelled to work under grotesque conditions in coal mines owned by a firm still run by the family of Japan's foreign minister, Taro Aso. The kidnappings of Japanese men and women to teach their language at North Korean spy schools could eventually total 70, it is suspected. The outrage, constantly covered by the Japanese media, continues to upset people and is an international scandal by any standards. The older, but incomparably worse mistreatment of Koreans over three decades, is hardly mentioned in Japan, and the foreign minister's connection remains taboo. Yet in other countries such an episode would be regarded as intolerable in such an important government official. The Korean pit workers were systematically underpaid, overworked, underfed and confined in penury. They suffered chronic ill-health, frequent death from insanitary conditions or work accidents, were under 24-hour watch by brutal secret police, yet still managed to escape out of desperation. Only with Japan's 1945 defeat in war were they finally released, to be sent home uncompensated. Neither they nor their surviving families have since received a penny in personal reparations, despite pleas from both Koreas. [...]"


"Iranian Paper to Run Holocaust Cartoons"
By Robert Tait, Declan Walsh, and Owen Bowcott
The Guardian, 7 February 2006
"Muslim protesters infuriated by cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad raised the diplomatic stakes last night as Iran's best-selling newspaper announced it would retaliate by running images satirising the Holocaust. The decision by the rightwing Hamshari daily to launch an international competition to find the most suitable caricatures came as demonstrators hurled firebombs and stones at the Danish embassy in Tehran and the Iranian government imposed a formal trade ban on Danish imports. Last night mobs were attempting to storm the Danish compound. ... Hamshari is owned by Tehran city council and its plan follows a string of anti-Zionist statements by Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has dismissed the killing of 6 million Jews by the Nazis in the second world war as a 'myth' and called for Israel to be 'wiped off the map.' Farid Mortazavi, the paper's graphics editor, said the cartoons would be published to test the argument of western newspapers which have cited freedom of expression in printing the prophet Muhammad images. 'The western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons,' Mr. Mortazavi said. [...]"


"Russian Journalist Convicted for Chechnya Articles"
By Oliver Bullough
Reuters dispatch on, 3 February 2006
"A Russian journalist was convicted of provoking racial hatred on Friday for publishing articles by Chechen rebel leaders calling for an end to the Chechen war. Stanislav Dmitrievsky, head of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society and editor of the Pravozashchita publication, received a two-year suspended sentence in the case. The case has been described by media activists as a test for freedom of speech in the country, and human rights groups called the guilty verdict a blow to the development of civil society. In 2004, Dmitrievsky published statements by Chechen rebel leaders Aslan Maskhadov and Akhmed Zakayev calling on Russians not to re-elect President Vladimir Putin and appealing for the war to be recognised as genocide. Dmitrievsky, who read a poem by a dissident Soviet poet to close his final statement, said the ruling was politically motivated and that he would appeal the verdict by the court in Nizhny Novgorod, a court on the Volga river east of Moscow. '(It shows) the negative characteristics of Putin's regime and its politics in the North Caucasus,' the Regnum news agency quoted him as saying. The verdict came amid concern over the future of independent non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Russia, following a law that was approved by Putin last month that introduced strict curbs on foreign financing and organisations' independence. [...]"


"Prosecutors Seek to Set Aside Acquittal"
By Sukhdev Chhatbar
Sapa-AP dispatch in Independent Online (South Africa), 6 February 2006
"Prosecutors asked a United Nations tribunal to overturn the acquittal of two Rwandan officials and order a retrial on charges related to the 1994 genocide. James Steward, senior attorney for the prosecution, said the trial chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda erred when it acquitted former Transport Minister Andre Ntagerura and Emmanuel Bagambiki, a civilian official in a south-western Cyangugu Province. The suspects were accused of genocide and crimes against humanity related to the 100-day slaughter in which more than half a million members of the Tutsi ethnic minority and Hutu majority were slaughtered. The tribunal said prosecutors failed to prove that Ntagerura was criminally responsible for killings. They also did not prove beyond doubt that Bagambiki directed the killers in Cyangugu. Steward argued in the appeals chamber on Monday that the trial chamber failed to consider testimony from seven witnesses 'who were accomplices of the two accused.' The tribunal has convicted 23 people and acquitted three since it was set up in 1994. Trials of 28 suspects are in progress, while and 15 others are awaiting trial."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Elections to Delay Nation-Wide Start of Gacaca Trials"
Hirondelle News Agency dispatch on, 1 February 2006
"The nation-wide start of the trial phase in Rwanda's semi-traditional genocide courts that was due to start in February has been postponed by at least two months, a senior official told Hirondelle news agency on Tuesday. 'It is difficult to hold such a big operation at the same time as grass-roots elections,' Gacaca spokesperson Innocent Musafiri said. Starting February 3, Rwanda will hold a series of elections for local government leaders. The elections will run through to the beginning of March. 'After the elections, we will be nearing the genocide commemoration week, that too isn't a suitable time to start genocide trials at such a wide level,' said Musafiri. He said that while no date had been set, the trials would not begin before the end of the annual April 7 genocide anniversary. Gacaca courts were set up over three years ago to speed up genocide trials and reconciliation. Since the first trial in March 2005, 4000 judgments have been delivered by the courts. Some observers say the nation-wide start of Gacaca trials could even be delayed further until a proposed new law on the structure of the courts is enacted by parliament."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Genocidaire Hiding in Britain"
By Ignatius Mugabo and Felly Kimenyi
The New Times (Kigali) on, 1 February 2006
"A Rwandan suspected to be one of the main perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide has been discovered in the small British town of Bedford, where he lives peacefully with his family. Charles Munyaneza, who lives under false identity as Charles 'Muneza' has been tracked down by the British media after evading justice for years. According to a report in The Sunday Times of January 29, Munyaneza, 47, is accused of helping to organise the massacre of Tutsis in former Gikongoro and Butare in the current southern province in 1994. He fled to South Africa after the fall of the genocidal regime and entered Britain in 1999 where he sought asylum as a refugee. In 2002, Munyaneza was granted refugee status by the British Home Office and allowed unlimited stay in the United Kingdom. Little did they know they had welcomed a suspected mass killer to their country. His neighbours in Bedford's Putnoe District had no idea about his past, according to media reports. Munyaneza, whose alleged associate, Lieutenant Colonel Aloys Simba, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in the Genocide last December by the UN tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, is alleged to have urged Hutus to kill Tutsis saying 'all of you, men, women and girls, must take part. I don't want to see a single Tutsi alive on this hill.' The ICTR has stopped issuing indictments so it can wind up its work in 2008, but has requested Britain to prosecute Munyaneza on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. [...]"


"Belgrade Reveals Its Army Hid Mladic"
Reuters dispatch in The Age (Melbourne), 3 February 2006
"Serb officers helped top war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic hide on army premises until mid-2002, then let him get away, the official Serbia-Montenegro Defence Council says. It said a group of former Bosnian Serb army and former Yugoslav army officers then took over the task of hiding Mladic, who is wanted on two counts of genocide in the 1992-95 Bosnia war by the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The Military Intelligence Agency is now investigating to find out who was involved and if any officers are still in touch with the former Bosnian Serb army commander, accused of orchestrating the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8000 Muslims, Europe's worst atrocity since World War II. Belgrade is anxious to show the UN, the European Union and major powers that it is now conducting a proper manhunt for Mladic, a step the West says it has failed to take so far. Capturing Mladic or persuading him to surrender is key to the country's hopes of joining the EU and NATO and attracting greater foreign investment. The statement said a military intelligence report covering the period from 1997 until the present 'has determined beyond doubt that Ratko Mladic left the military compounds he had occasionally used for hiding until his retirement on June 1, 2002.' That was when Yugoslavia passed a law on co-operation with the Hague tribunal. The official Tanjug news agency quoted the defence council as saying Bosnian Serb army and Yugoslav army veterans then took over hiding Mladic. [...]"


"World Averts Eyes from Darfur Region"
By Brian Szabelski, 6 February 2006
"There are many stories of conflict occurring in the world at the moment. From the battles in Iraq to the search for terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan to the nuclear standoff with Iran, there seems to be plenty of friction between peoples all over the globe. Lost in this world of media, though, is a story that is by far worse than any of these, a humanitarian crisis that seems to be unheard of in US media circles; the genocide and war occurring in the African region of Darfur. In this region of western Sudan, a government-supported Arab militia, the Janjaweed, have been attacking, killing, raping and looting non-Arabs in the region and their villages. Never heard of it at all, you say? Don't be surprised. Only Yahoo News and the BBC seem to be closely covering the story, and finding info on both pages requires doing a little searching. Truthfully, the last update on Darfur I remember seeing was a brief 30-second story on Fox News with an old file video clip. That was three months ago. Since then? Nothing. This leaves me to ask one question: Why, in the age of 24-hour news, is this story being abandoned by everyone? [...]"

"Darfur: New Attacks in Chad Documented"
Human Rights Watch press release, 5 February 2005
"Militias based in Darfur are launching cross-border raids on villages in Chad on an almost daily basis, killing civilians, burning villages, and stealing cattle in a pattern of attacks that show signs of ethnic bias, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch researchers documented numerous cross-border attacks on Chadian villages along the border between Adré, Adé, and Modoyna in eastern Chad since early December 2005. Most of the attacks were by Sudanese and Chadian militiamen from Darfur, some with apparent Sudanese government backing, including helicopter gunship support. Tens of thousands of people are now displaced internally within Chad by the violence. Most of the victims are from the Dajo and Masalit ethnic groups, which live on both sides of the international border. Chadian Arabs living in the same area appear to enjoy immunity from attack, although some have left their homes and taken refuge in Sudan, apparently for fear of reprisals. Human Rights Watch also documented a new influx into Chad of refugees from Darfur, people already displaced by attacks in Darfur in 2003 who had been living in the Mornei and Misterei camps in West Darfur. Many of these people said that they fled to Chad to escape continuing attacks on the camp residents by the Sudanese government-sponsored Janjaweed militia. 'You may have thought the terrible situation in Darfur couldn't get worse, but it has,' said Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division at Human Rights Watch. 'Sudan's policy of arming militias and letting them loose is spilling over the border, and civilians have no protection from their attacks, in Darfur or in Chad.' [...]"

"Security Council Agrees to Send Troops to Darfur"
By Joel Brinkley
The New York Times, 4 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"The United Nations Security Council, acknowledging the failure of the current strategy for ending the carnage in Darfur, Sudan, agreed Friday to deploy thousands of peacekeepers to the troubled province. The United States, which holds the Council presidency this month, offered the motion, and it was approved unanimously. Officials acknowledge that winning council approval was probably the least difficult step. The Sudanese government opposes United Nations troops in Darfur, and United Nations officials say it will not be easy to persuade member nations to contribute troops for the new Darfur force. The United States has no intention of sending American combat troops, officials said. Assuming those and other challenges are overcome, the first United Nations troops are not likely to arrive in Darfur for almost a year. ... The violent and chaotic situation in Darfur poses significant risks that troops would be drawn into firefights with Sudanese government troops and Darfur rebels. But under the plan, said Kristen Silverberg, another assistant secretary of state, United Nations troops would be better armed than the African Union troops patrolling Darfur now. They would also be given new rules of engagement that would allow them to 'protect civilians and enforce the cease-fire.' [...]"

"Darfur 'Serious' But Not Genocide"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in Northern Territory News, 4 February 2006
"The United States has backed away from describing the current violence in Sudan's Darfur region as genocide, calling it very serious but mostly a series of small attacks by different parties. In September 2004, Washington had accused Sudan's government and its militia allies of genocide in the now three-year-old conflict with Darfur rebels that has left up to 300,000 people dead and 2.4 million homeless. But Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer, briefing reporters on moves to bolster security in Darfur, said the current situation 'is very different than it was. It's not as systematic. It is a very serious situation and it's a series of small attacks and incidents,' Ms Frazer said, adding that all parties were involved. 'It is not the government directing the militia attacking civilians.' But Ms Frazer would not respond to a direct question on whether the bloodshed in Darfur still constituted genocide, as then-US secretary of state Colin Powell alleged 17 months ago. 'The United States has said that genocide has occurred in Sudan, and we continue to be concerned about the security environment in Darfur,' Ms Frazer said. Washington was virtually alone in declaring genocide in Darfur. The United Nations has not used the term, which could trigger obligations under international conventions, including the possible use of force to stop it. [...]"
[n.b. That breeze you feel is from the furious backpedalling.]

"Thousands Flee Mounting Violence in South Darfur"
ChristianAid press release, 2 February 2006
"Christian Aid partners, the Sudan Development Association (SUDO) and the Sudanese Council of Churches (SCC), have abandoned their schools and health centres in the camps in Mershing in south Darfur, following a series of attacks by armed militias. Thousands of people have been displaced following these attacks. SUDO and SCC are providing blankets, sleeping mats and jerry cans and are also ensuring that people have access to water and sanitation facilities to prevent the outbreak of disease. This recent series of attacks started on the 23 January 2006 when gunmen on camels attacked and looted Shaway Malmul camp. In the following days, there were further attacks in four more camps outside of Mershing. These attacks have caused terror amongst the displaced people living in the camps. African Union (AU) patrols visited Mershing twice following the attacks and promised to send forces at 5pm on 25 January 2006. When the forces did not arrive the people fled. An estimated 55,000 people, leaving most of their belongings behind, are making their way to Manawashi town, south of Mershing, to escape the attacks. In the chaos, families have been divided and it is believed that 210 children are unaccounted for. The conditions for those travelling to Manawashi are desperate. They are exposed to soaring heat in the day and cold weather at night. They have no cooking materials, little food and few sources of water. ACT-Caritas have reported that 38 women have suffered miscarriages and 13 children have died in the past week. [...]"

"President Again Ignores Darfur Genocide in 'State of the Union'"
Africa Action press release, 1 February 2006
"Africa Action today condemned the failure of President Bush to mention the Darfur genocide in his 'State of the Union' address for the second year, even as his Administration acknowledges that this crime against humanity continues in western Sudan. In a speech that stressed the need for the U.S. to engage with the world, to reject 'isolationism' and to confront 'tyranny' and 'evil', Africa Action emphasized that the failure of the President to comment on the Darfur genocide and to identify a plan to stop it contradicts these themes and reveals an unacceptable lack of commitment to new action on this crisis. As the U.S. assumes the rotating presidency of the United Nations (UN) Security Council today, pressure is building for the U.S. to introduce a new resolution on Darfur that would respond to the urgent need for an expanded security presence on the ground by (1) 're-hatting' the existing African Union operation as a UN mission with a robust mandate to protect civilians and humanitarian operations, and (2) authorizing a UN peacekeeping force to be deployed to the region as soon as possible. Thousands of people will participate in a National Call-In Day to the U.S. mission to the UN today, urging such action in the Security Council this month. Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, 'The President's abandonment of Darfur in his "State of the Union" agenda belies his stated commitment to ending "tyranny" and promoting "compassion" in the world. Mr. Bush's passing reference to "a refugee fleeing genocide" debases this crime against humanity, and his failure to offer a plan to address it is absolutely unacceptable. The U.S. must lead the UN Security Council this month to authorize a robust international peacekeeping mission to augment the African Union’s efforts in Darfur.' [...]"


"Interview: Justice in Uganda"
By Stephen Opio
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 7 February 2006
"[Senior ICC official Phakiso Mochockoko tells IWPR about his hopes of bringing to justice those responsible for atrocities in Uganda.] The ICC has only just begun its work. It is in the early stages of its history and operations. I would hope that the Ugandan people first try to understand what the court is, what it's doing, what it can do and what it cannot do. Now that the court’s office is functional in Uganda, I would encourage people to go to this office to seek information and clarity about its operation. I hope the court and the people of Uganda can work together to end impunity and to make sure that those responsible for the atrocities in Uganda are brought to justice in the interest of peace and reconciliation."


"New Drive to Deport Ex-SS Men and Auschwitz Guards"
By Sophie Goodchild
The Independent, 5 February 2006
"Hundreds of alleged Nazi war criminals living in Britain face deportation under tough new immigration laws. An eight-strong team from Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch is examining files containing the names of more than 200 suspects understood to be in hiding or living under false names. They include at least 75 Auschwitz guards and former members of the 14th Waffen-SS Galician division, which has been blamed for atrocities. Officers from the Metro-politan Police are expected to meet Home Office ministers next month to discuss their inquiry, launched after evidence was uncovered by an amateur historian. Police were handed a list of names, most from the Ukrainian-manned unit. Six thousand of them were allowed to settle as contract labour in Britain at the end of the war and many emigrated, mostly to North America. Historians say it is unlikely any of these men, now in their 80s, will be prosecuted because of a lack of evidence. Only one man, Anthony Sawoniuk, has been prosecuted here for Nazi war crimes. He was sentenced to life in 1999 and died in prison last year, aged 84."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"UK Considers Curbing Citizens' Right to Arrest Alleged War Criminals"
By Vikram Dodd
The Guardian, 3 February 2006
"The government is considering weakening laws designed to capture alleged war criminals and torturers who enter Britain, after pressure from the Israeli government, the Guardian has learned. The changes would bar individuals from seeking international warrants for the arrest of people suspected of serious human rights abuses. The government has confirmed that Israeli officials have lobbied for changes in the law, which has kept some of their military officials away from Britain in case there should be an attempt to arrest them. The proposals follow Israeli anger after an attempt was made to arrest one of their senior retired generals, Doron Almog, at Heathrow last September. He was tipped off that police were waiting to arrest him for alleged war crimes in Gaza. He stayed on the El Al plane and flew back to Israel. The warrant was issued by Bow Street magistrates, central London, after an application from lawyers representing Palestinians who say they suffered because of the Israeli general's alleged illegal orders. Ministers are said to believe the law is too unpredictable and can risk jeopardising international relations. The warrant naming General Almog for war crimes is believed to be the first of its kind issued in Britain against an Israeli national over conduct in the Palestinian conflict. A British official confirmed that ministers were examining stopping private individuals applying to magistrates for prosecutions over war crimes, genocide and torture, which in turn leads to international arrest warrants being granted. [...]"


"Cultural Genocide"
By Steven Poole
The Guardian, 4 February 2006
The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War by Robert Bevan (Reaktion, £19.95)
"The Taliban blew up the Bamiyan Buddhas; the Nazis razed synagogues; Serb shelling destroyed Sarajevo's National Library; al-Qaida flew into the World Trade Center. As Bevan's fascinating, melancholy book shows, symbolic buildings have long been targeted in and out of war as a particular kind of mnemonic violence against those to whom they are special. The argument sometimes widens almost too far: the very non-specificity of Bomber Command's wanton combustion of whole city centres is different from, say, the pinpoint spite of Hitler's orders to blow up the Eiffel Tower and other Paris landmarks. But both constitute, argues Bevan, a form of 'urbicide.' Is it callous to spare a thought for buildings at a time when people are being killed? No, Bevan argues persuasively: the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, for example, has stated that the deliberate targeting of buildings (such as mosques) can be an index of genocidal intent. Bevan's final suggestion that 'cultural genocide' should be defined as a separate crime in itself, however, seems an unwarranted terminological inflation."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the review.]


"Displaced Gypsies at Risk from Lead in Kosovo Camps"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 5 February 2006
"[...] Roma rights groups say that up to 31 Roma have been killed by diseases brought on by lead poisoning, a problem that grew acute for them six and half years ago. That was when the United Nations mission that controls this province set up three refugee camps in the north part of the city for Roma who were displaced when ethnic Albanians took their homes across town at the end of the Kosovo war in 1999. The death toll is especially large for a local Roma community of just 570 people, and no one disputes the main source of pollution. All three refugee camps lie within 200 yards of three huge mounds of industrial waste, the byproduct of a lead smelting factory that operated from the 1920's until 2000. Health specialists say children are particularly vulnerable to this kind of pollution. Soon after the Roma moved in, the United Nations realized that they were living on contaminated land. Several reports by the United Nations mission and the World Health Organization dating to 2000 recommended their immediate removal. But the Roma remained in their wooden huts, built by aid agencies, and in a hodgepodge of metal and particle board shacks that they had put up themselves. Now the mission is planning to move families from all three camps to refurbished army barracks, where it says they will be safe. 'The W.H.O. considers this the worst environmental disaster for children in the whole of Europe,' said Gerry McWeeney, an environmental epidemiologist for the World Health Organization in Mitrovica and the author of a 2004 report on the effects of the poisoning. 'There are around 100,000 to 130,000 people affected by this,' she said. [...]"


"Ultimate Choice"
By Malcolm Bull
London Review of Books, 9 February 2006
"[...] Genocide may be more difficult than it looks, but that does not mean that it is wrong. There are good arguments for it, the strongest of which come from just-war theory. If you accept that wars fought as a last resort by legitimate authority with the sole intention of responding to unprovoked aggression with proportionate force are justifiable, then there are circumstances in which you may find yourself supporting genocide. If your adversary is unshakeably committed to a total war involving every member of the population in a struggle that brooks no surrender (and in the modern period most states have been committed, at least rhetorically, to just such an undertaking), then it follows that the war must continue until all the enemy are either dead or incapacitated. If they insist on fighting, you have to keep on killing them, and if they all keep on fighting, you will end up having to kill the lot. It is not only in cases of total war, however, that the just war is potentially genocidal. The doctrine of double effect, which allows for civilian casualties incurred as a result of striking legitimate military targets, is also a potential route to genocide in the age of mass destruction. An aerial bombardment or a tactical nuclear strike may be directed at military targets, but nevertheless cause immense destruction, including, coincidentally, the annihilation of entire social groups that happen to get in the way. And then there is what Michael Walzer and John Rawls both call a 'supreme emergency,' when direct attacks on civilian targets are required in circumstances of dire military necessity. Since, in the nuclear age, 'supreme emergency has become a permanent condition,' this means that it is legitimate to possess strategic nuclear weapons and threaten to use them against civilian populations, committing who knows how many forms of genocide in the process. [...]"
[n.b. A review article based on Michael Mann's and Mark Levene's recent books.]


"Le mot de génocide est ambigu, je préfère la notion de crime de masse"
Interview with Jacques Sémelin by Arnaud Vaulerin
Libération (France), 4 February 2006
"[...] Q. Vous vous demandez même si on doit encore employer ce mot [génocide]. A. Oui. J'ai d'ailleurs été sur le point de l'abandonner. Ainsi, des collègues allemands ont banni ce mot de leurs travaux. Mais résout-on vraiment une question en s'interdisant l'emploi d'un terme? C'est comme le mot terrorisme, d'ailleurs, que de nombreux Etats emploient à travers le monde pour stigmatiser leurs ennemis politiques. Tout en ayant à l'esprit ces manipulations, il est important que le chercheur s'interroge sur les différentes manières de définir une «pratique terroriste», ou un «processus génocidaire». Selon moi, le génocide caractérise un processus spécifique de destruction qui vise à l'éradication totale d'une collectivité. A cet égard, il existe une différence importante entre génocide et nettoyage ethnique. Dans un nettoyage ethnique, on tue les gens en partie, mais on leur dit: par ici la sortie. Dans un génocide, on ferme toutes les portes. C'est l'approche que je préconise. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to René Lemarchand for supplying this link.]


"You, Too, Can Deny the Holocaust"
By Bradley Burston, 3 February 2006
"[...] At this point, more than 60 years after the last of the extermination camps was freed, the horror of the Holocaust has so receded from the collective memory that the words Soup Nazi can elicit gales of sitcom laughter. As the shock wears off, the spin-offs multiply: grammar nazi, fashion nazi, feminazi. And as the spin-offs gain currency, the term nazi can stretch to fit any annoyance. At this point, we can apply it to any vaguely persnickety individual we don't much care for. If anyone can be a nazi, perhaps the real Nazis were no worse than the rest of us. To be fair, if we Jews can't keep ourselves from comparing our enemies to the Nazis, we have, if nothing else, two good excuses. One is our tradition. The many sections of our liturgy that inform us that They're Out to Get Us. We drink it in, if not with mothers' milk, then with Passover wine. ... The second reason, of course, is that there actually are men who rise up against us, generation after generation, in order to destroy us. And the generation time is growing shorter and shorter. Only 15 years separate Saddam Hussein's declared Gulf War goal of incinerating Israel, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent suggestion that the Jewish state be wiped off the map. All the while, the holy men of Hamas, Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad have been preaching our elimination. And yet. The Jewish People owe it to the victims of the Holocaust and the survivors still with us, to resist the impulse to liken current threats -- as dangerous as and potentially cataclysmic as they may be -- to an event of biblical magnitude in the long history of the Jews. The most insidious form of Holocaust denial, after all, reduces the annihilation of six million people to just one more rhetorical argument over current issues. All we can offer the victims and the survivors, is to honor their memory by reminding ourselves and others of the incomparable uniqueness of their unknowable hell. [...]"


"Storm Clouds Over Iran"
By Richard Falk
The Nation, 13 February 2006
"A dangerous escalation of tensions in the Middle East could produce a devastating new war there if diplomatic steps are not taken to head it off. The United States and Israel, with the cooperation of some European countries, have been stoking a climate of fear to justify a military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. At the very least, they seem determined to refer the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council as a step toward imposing sanctions. ... There are also wider issues at stake. Should the Middle East, or for that matter the world, regard as normal a system of nuclear apartheid -- in which a select group of nations are entitled to such weapons while others seeking to acquire them are treated as 'rogue states'? What these multiple incendiary trends suggest, above all, is the practical wisdom of seeking multilateral nuclear disarmament -- the only course that has any prospect of halting proliferation. So long as sovereign states are the main actors and conflict among them persists, it is disastrous folly to suppose that some will agree to live forever beneath a nuclear sword of Damocles without trying to obtain such weapons themselves. The Iran confrontation is best regarded as one more wakeup call for the nuclear weapons states."

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