Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
April 11-18, 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 adam.jones@yale.edu. To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to genocide_studies-subscribe@topica.com.


"A PBS Documentary Makes Its Case for the Armenian Genocide, With or Without a Debate"
By Alessandra Stanley
The New York Times, 17 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"It is impossible to debate a subject like genocide without giving offense. PBS is supposed to give offense responsibly. And that was the idea behind a panel discussion that PBS planned to show after tonight's broadcast of 'The Armenian Genocide,' a documentary about the extermination of more than one million Armenians by the Turkish Ottoman Empire during World War I. ... The protesters complained that the panel of four experts, moderated by Scott Simon, host of 'Weekend Edition Saturday' on NPR, included two scholars who defend the Turkish government's claim that a genocide never took place. The outrage over their inclusion was an indication of how passionately Armenians feel about the issue; they have battled for decades to draw attention to the genocide. But the fact that so many stations caved is a measure of something else: PBS's growing vulnerability to pressure and, perhaps accordingly, the erosion of viewers' trust in public television. ... It turns out that there is only one articulate voice arguing that Armenians died not in a genocide but in a civil war between Christians and Muslims -- that of Justin A. McCarthy, a history professor at the University of Louisville. His Turkish counterpart, Omer Turan, an associate professor at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, tries ardently to back him up, but his English is not good enough to make a dent. And the two other experts, Peter Balakian, a humanities professor at Colgate University, and Taner Akcam, a visiting professor of history at the University of Minnesota and a well-known defender of human rights in Turkey, lucidly pick Mr. McCarthy's points apart. [...]"


"We Welcomed Hitler, Admits Austria's Head"
By Kate Connolly
The Telegraph, 12 April 2006
"The president of Austria has become the country's first head of state to admit that a large number of its citizens welcomed Adolf Hitler with open arms when the dictator annexed the country. Heinz Fischer said that a 'not inconsiderable portion of the population' greeted the Anschluss or annexation in 1938 with 'euphoria,' despite knowing that 'Hitler meant war.' In addition many had celebrated Hitler's initial military successes, he said. Surveys show that most Austrians continue to deny that 200,000 people welcomed Hitler's troops as they marched into Austria, despite the overwhelming evidence that ecstatic crowds gathered at Heldenplatz in Vienna's city centre to hear him deliver a rousing speech. The view most commonly held still is that the Anschluss was forced on a reluctant people. ... Historians described the interview as ground-breaking. In the early 1990s Chancellor Franz Vranitzky became the first Austrian leader to admit the guilt of Austrians during the war, in a historic speech to parliament. But he stopped short of saying that many had welcomed Hitler. President Fischer's interview appeared designed to take the debate over Austria's Nazi past one step further. [...]"


"Women Were More Respected under Saddam, Say Women's Groups"
IRIN dispatch on Reuters.com, 13 April 2006
"According to the findings of a recent survey by local rights NGOs, women were treated better during the Saddam Hussein era -- and their rights were more respected – than they are now. 'We interviewed women in the country and met with local NGOs dealing with gender issues to develop this survey, which asked questions about the quality of women's life and respect for their rights,' said Senar Muhammad, president of Baghdad-based NGO Woman Freedom Organisation. 'The results show that women are less respected now than they were under the previous regime, while their freedom has been curtailed.' According to the survey, women's basic rights under the Hussein regime were guaranteed in the constitution and -- more importantly -- respected, with women often occupying important government positions. Now, although their rights are still enshrined in the national constitution, activists complain that, in practice, they have lost almost all of their rights. Women's groups point to the new government, many members of which take a conservative view when it comes to the role of women. 'When we tell the government we need more representation in parliament, they respond by telling us that, if well-qualified women appear one day, they won't be turned down,' said Senar. 'Then they laugh at us.' ... 'Before the US-led invasion in 2003, women were free to go to schools, universities and work, and to perform other duties,' Senar added. 'Now, due to security reasons and repression by the government, they're being forced to stay in their homes.' [...]"

"Iraq Unrest Forces 65,000 to Flee"
By Andrew North
BBC Online, 13 April 2006
"At least 65,000 Iraqis have fled their homes as a result of sectarian violence and intimidation, according to new figures from the Iraqi government. And the rate at which Iraqis are being displaced is increasing. Figures given to the BBC by the Ministry for Displacement and Migration show a doubling in the last two weeks of the number of Iraqis forced to move. There has been a sharp rise in sectarian violence since the bombing of an important Shia shrine in February. This triggered the current tensions between the country's majority Shia Muslims and minority Sunni Muslims, and hundreds of people have since been killed. Reports of people leaving their homes because of violence or intimidation, or simply because they no longer feel safe, are becoming more and more common. Some of the intimidation is being carried out by mobile phone. People have been receiving threatening text messages and gruesome videos filmed on mobile phone cameras. In one, a Sunni Iraqi man who entered a mainly Shia neighbourhood of Baghdad is seen being beaten and killed by men in black clothes. The video was then sent out with the warning that this is what would happen to any other Sunni who comes to this area. [...]"

"Shiite Exodus from Mixed Towns"
By David Enders
The Christian Science Monitor, 13 April 2006
"[...] Around Baghdad, Shiites coming in from outlying villages are living in tents provided by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. IRCS President Said Hakki says the agency is preparing to aid some 50,000 families, and has requested aid from the US military to build sanitation facilities for camps and provide rations. Other Shiites are going south to predominantly Shiite cities such as Basra, Najaf, and Karbala. Most of the families in Chikook are from Haswa, a village southwest of Baghdad. The men here say there was a progression -- first they became afraid to travel to Baghdad for work, which took them through largely Sunni suburbs on the west side of the city where people were frequently attacked on the road. Further west of Haswa is largely Sunni Abu Ghraib, a site of consistent guerrilla activity for more than two years. Abu Ali is asked why Shiites, the majority of the population of Haswa, didn't fight back as they have in other areas. 'Haswa is surrounded,' he says, asking to be identified only by his nickname which means, in Arabic, father of Ali. He arrived in Chikook a little more than a week ago. The people in Chikook say they have received no assistance from the Iraqi government, which remains in a state of limbo. [...]"


"Tensions Rise In Long Feud Over Access To Nazi Archive"
By Craig Whitlock
The Washington Post (on MSNBC.com), 18 April 2006
"Boxed away in a former Nazi SS barracks in this central German town is the core of one of the largest collections of historical documents from World War II. All told, the archive contains 50 million records that list the names of 17.5 million people, including concentration camp prisoners, forced laborers and other victims of the Third Reich. For 60 years, the International Committee of the Red Cross has used the documents to trace the missing and the dead, especially those of the Holocaust. But the archive has remained off-limits to historians and the public, fueling an increasingly bitter dispute among Holocaust researchers, Jewish groups and the 11 nations that oversee the collection. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and diplomats from the United States, France and the Netherlands are pressing to open the archive to researchers and make digital copies of the collection available for inspection outside Germany. Possessiveness and a refusal to change with the times have kept the records closed, some critics contend. Some German officials and other people argue that disclosing intimate details about the fates of concentration camp inmates and slave laborers would violate their right to privacy. [...]"

"Holocaust Survivor Wants to Stop Other Genocides"
By Erika Nordblom
Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, 17 April 2006
"Philip Bialowitz was just 16 when he narrowly escaped death at the hands of the Nazis. Unlike his father, mother and millions of other Polish citizens, he survived to tell the story of the Nazis and their campaign of ethnic cleansing. An estimated 250,000 Jews were murdered at Sobibor, a prison camp in Poland. In 1943, Bialowitz was part of a successful uprising in which six hundred prisoners fled. Many were killed during the escape, while others made it to the forest surrounding the camp.Bialowitz was one of only 48 who survived to see the end of the war that following year. ... By telling his story, Bialowitz hopes to bring attention to the fact that the Holocaust was not an isolated incident. 'The systematic murder of innocent human beings continues, even in the 21st century,' he says, 'My survival means very little if Hitler's legacy of genocide lives on.' Bialowitz points to the mass killings in the Darfur region of western Sudan as a recent example of genocide. 'Four-hundred thousand human beings have been murdered only because of their race,' he says of the conflict in Africa. When Bialowitz remembers the people who suffered at Sobibor, he thinks of groups like the people in Darfur, who continue to suffer today. 'Sobibor stands forever as a warning of what happens when we allow barbarism to grow out of control,' he says. [...]"


"Russia's 'Blacks' Targeted"
By Michael Mainville
The Toronto Star, 14 April 2006
"Blood pouring from the wounds on his head, Elkhan Mirzoyev struggled along the Moscow subway platform to the front of the train. Knocking on the driver's window, he told him: 'You have to wait. I've been attacked and they're still on the train.' Don't worry, the driver said, I'll call ahead and the police will be waiting for them at the next station. The train sped off. No one was waiting at the other end. 'I should have known they would get away,' says Mirzoyev. 'No one cares about another chyorny being beaten.' Chyorny, meaning black, is a derogatory Russian term for dark-skinned people from the Caucasus region, or for just about anybody who isn't ethnically white. For people like Mirzoyev, originally from Azerbaijan but a long-time Moscow resident, hardly a day goes by without the term being thrown in their faces. 'You, the Jews and the blacks, are ruining our country,' Mirzoyev had been told minutes before his beating April 2 on the subway. ... In recent weeks, Russia has been the scene of an increasing number of racist attacks on Jews, dark-skinned foreigners and non-white Russians. In response to a growing outcry, the Russian government yesterday proposed a bill to impose jail terms of up to three years and fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($4,150) for the production, distribution or use of material with the aim of sowing ethnic, religious or ideological hatred, including Nazi paraphernalia or symbols. The bill must still be approved by parliament. But critics say the government is still doing too little to stem the tide of racist violence. [...]"


"Rwandan Panel Meets to Probe Alleged French Role in Genocide"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Tocqueville Connection, 18 April 2006
"A Rwandan government panel has begun probing allegations that France played a role in the central African nation's 1994 genocide, officials said Tuesday. The six-member team, formed earlier this month, held its first meeting this week to discuss its mandate and get acquainted, said Jean de Dieu Mucyo, the panel's president and Rwanda's attorney general. 'We will start by studying the written documents at our disposal and then we will collect witness testimony,' he told AFP. According to its mandate, the commission is 'charged with assembling proof of France's implication in the genocide' in which some 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were slaughtered by Hutu extremists. It is to look into accusations that France trained and armed those responsible for the massacres and helped some of them flee in the aftermath. Kigali has repeatedly accused Paris of abetting the genocide, but France has denied having a hand in the 100-day killing spree. Last year, a former French soldier alleged that French troops had trained Rwandan militia in the two years leading up to the 1994 genocide. A French military tribunal is currently investigating claims by six Rwandan Tutsis who filed a complaint accusing French troops of being complicit 'in genocide and/or crimes against humanity.' [...]"

"Survivors Pan Rwanda War Films"
Reuters dispatch on Aljazeera.net, 18 April 2006
"Three films in two years about Rwanda's genocide have shocked Western audiences with the scale and savagery of the slaughter, but many survivors in the tiny central African nation are unimpressed. They say the big-screen depictions of the carnage, when about 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were butchered in 100 days of state-sponsored killings, are inacccurate and got the story wrong. Jean Pierre Rucogoza, a 47-year-old university lecturer and genocide survivor, says: 'My conclusion was that both movies are another Hollywood fiction geared at making money.' Rucogoza, who has watched Sometimes in April and Hotel Rwanda, lost 11 relatives in the killings. In an interview on the eve of the 12th anniversary of the genocide earlier this month, he said he believed the films partly represented the West's conscience rearing its head too late. 'But, unfortunately, they are also being used as a money-minting tool,' he said. [...]"

"Former Mayor Jailed for 15 Years over Genocide"
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 14 April 2006
"A UN court yesterday sentenced a former Rwandan mayor to 15 years in prison for crimes against humanity for his role in the deaths of 1,000 people during the 1994 genocide. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda accepted a plea bargain under which Paul Bisengimana pleaded guilty to two counts of murder and extermination and the prosecution dropped eight counts. Bisengimana, 58, was mayor of Gikoro, just outside the capital, and was involved in the slaughter of Tutsis who had sought refuge in a church. He was arrested in Mali in 2001 and transferred to the court in Tanzania in 2002."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Germany May Probe Rwanda Suspect"
BBC Online, 11 April 2006
"German prosecutors are considering whether to open an investigation into the alleged leader of a Rwandan rebel group, who was arrested last week. Ignace Murwanashyaka is suspected of involvement in war crimes in Rwanda or the Democratic Republic of Congo. Meanwhile, Mr Murwanashyaka is appealing against moves to deport after his refugee status was withdrawn. Rwanda has requested his extradition. Mr Murwanashyaka is expected to appear in a German court on Tuesday. Mr. Murwanashyaka is believed to be the commander of Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda, a group operating in eastern DR Congo -- some of whose members are suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Thousands of Rwandan Hutu militiamen entered eastern DR Congo after the genocide in which about 800,000 people -- mostly ethnic Tutsis -- were killed. The rebels' presence has led to years of fighting in eastern Congo and Rwanda has twice invaded, saying it is trying to wipe them out. Reports say Mr. Murwanashyaka has lived in Germany for several years but his residence permit was withdrawn as a result of United Nations Security Council sanctions. He was among 15 people whose assets were frozen by the Security Council last November for suspicion of involvement in war crimes in Rwanda or DR Congo. [...]"


"Taylor's Lawyer Seeks to Prevent Change of Venue"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 11 April 2006
"Former Liberian president Charles Taylor's interim defence lawyer is in Sierra Leone to challenge attempts to move the warlord's trial to The Hague, sources close to Taylor said on Tuesday. Karim Khan arrived in Freetown late on Monday after filing an urgent application to the United Nations-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone to ask that no decision be made on the trial venue until the defence is allowed to comment on the issue. The UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, established in 2002, has requested that Taylor's trial be moved to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague on security grounds. Taylor is accused of sponsoring and aiding rebel groups who perpetrated murder, sexual slavery, mutilation and conscription of child soldiers in Sierra Leone's brutal civil war in exchange for a share in the lucrative diamond trade. This week the UN Security Council is expected to adopt a draft resolution clearing the way for Taylor, who has pleaded not guilty to crimes against humanity, to be tried in the Netherlands. If the trial moves, the under-funded Special Court has to be responsible for the cost of the transfer and upkeep of the accused, witnesses, judges and all court officials. Khan argues that the court's request is 'premature and raises risk of the appearance of unfairness in that the accused has not been afforded the right to be heard on the important issue of venue,' according to the motion. [...]"


"U.S. Envoy to Expose 4 Sudanese in U.N. Debate About Darfur"
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times, 18 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"John R. Bolton, the United States ambassador, said Monday that he intended to offer a Security Council resolution on Tuesday that would publicly identify four Sudanese individuals responsible for atrocities in Darfur and possibly force a vote on whether the panel would impose sanctions on them. 'We've been pushing sanctions for years, and the effort was always to make it clear to the government in Khartoum that there would be individual consequences,' Mr. Bolton said in a telephone interview. He said he decided on the move after learning that China and Russia had objected to action against the four individuals. Their names were circulated among Council members last Thursday under a so-called silence procedure that would have applied the sanctions unless they met opposition. On Monday, China said it opposed the sanctions, and Russia said it backed China's view. Wang Guangya, the Chinese ambassador, said that taking action now would complicate African Union-sponsored peace talks on the conflicted Darfur region under way in Abuja, Nigeria. 'At this sensitive moment, to publish the list of names will have a negative effect on the negotiations there,' he said. The four -- including a member of government, as well as fighters from pro- and anti-government militias -- are charged with committing atrocities and undermining peace efforts in Darfur. The sanctions include travel bans and freezes on assets. [...]"

"Kristof Hopes Pulitzer Will Draw Attention to Darfur"
By Dave Astor
Editor & Publisher, 17 April 2006
"Nicholas Kristof, who won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary partly because of his columns about Darfur, hopes the award puts a brighter spotlight on the genocide in that Sudanese region. 'I don't think the Pulitzer board was necessarily sending a message, but the prize may have the effect of bringing a little more attention to Darfur,' The New York Times columnist told E&P Monday evening. More attention from governments is welcome, of course, but Kristof would also like to see the media focus more on Darfur. 'Nick has done just amazing, path-breaking stuff,' Times Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins told E&P, citing his columns about Darfur, third-world women, and more. 'His work is both dangerous to himself and of enormous service to the people he writes about.' ... Kristof is also drawing attention to the developing world with his contest to find a college student to accompany him on a reporting trip. The columnist -- who travels about once a month but was at the Times for Monday's Pulitzer celebration -- told E&P that about 1,500 people have applied as the April 20 deadline nears. [...]"

"Fiddling While Darfur Burns"
The New York Times (Editorial), 13 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"It is enormously distressing to watch the sausage-making that passes for the world's attempt to do something about the carnage in Darfur. The United Nations is still dawdling over plans to replace the African Union force currently there with a well-armed U.N. peacekeeping force. An attempt last week by the United Nations' top official on humanitarian issues, Jan Egeland, to visit Darfur was rebuffed by the Sudanese government. With all of the raping, murdering and butchering going on in Darfur, why would Sudan want an eyewitness account from a high-ranking international diplomat? While this goes on, Arab militias calling themselves the janjaweed and backed by the Sudanese government continue to raid villages in Darfur and now across the border in Chad. Not satisfied with the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children they've systematically raped and murdered as part of their ethnic cleansing campaign, the janjaweed are continuing their campaign to eliminate entire African tribes from the Sudanese countryside. Where are the Muslims who took to the streets to protest Danish cartoons? Where are the African leaders who demanded boycotts of South Africa? The Bush administration, to its credit, has finally stopped dragging its feet and is now trying to push the United Nations in the right direction. But the diplomats are moving too slow. ... We're waiting. But time is one thing that what is left of the Darfur population doesn't really have. [...]"

"Security Council Demands an End to Darfur Conflict"
By Edith Lederer
Sapa-AP dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 12 April 2006
"The United Nations Security Council demanded that the Sudanese government and rebels reach agreement by April 30 to end the conflict in Darfur and reaffirmed its determination to hold accountable those blocking peace and violating human rights. A presidential statement adopted on Tuesday by consensus by the 15 council members stressed that 'an inclusive political settlement is key to peace in Sudan.' It backed the peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, led by the African Union, which resumed on Monday. The Security Council endorsed the decision of the African Union Peace and Security Council setting April 30 as 'the final deadline for reaching an agreement.' The council 'demands that all parties make the necessary efforts to reach an agreement by this date,' the statement said. ... Seven rounds of talks in Abuja since August 2004 have yet to yield a breakthrough to end the fighting. But the decision in the latest talks to negotiate directly could result in the signing of a new cease-fire proposed by mediators 'in the coming days' and lead to the conclusion of a peace agreement, an African Union statement cited AU chairperson Denis Sassou-Nguesso, Congo's President, as saying. [...]"

"Bob Geldof Blames China for Sudan War"
Sympatico.msn.ca, 10 April 2006
"Anti-poverty campaigner and Live 8 organizer Sir Bob Geldof accused China on Monday of being responsible for the continuing civil war in Sudan's Darfur region. The Irish rock star, nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for organizing last year's Live 8 benefit concerts, said China was protecting the Sudanese government because it provides 6 percent of China's oil. 'I was in Darfur 20 years ago and people were killing each other then. It's an ancient battle between nomadic people and settled people, between Arab Africans and black Africans, between Islam and Christians ... The reason why it has not been resolved is because of China,' Geldof said. 'The Chinese protect the Khartoum government, who are killers, and they will not allow a vote in the Security Council ... so 250,000 people die in Darfur,' he said. ... The 54-year-old also said Africa got too little attention compared to places like Iraq. 'Everybody is aware of Iraq. Iraq is a nightmare and many people will die before it's over. But it will pass,' said the former singer for Irish punk group 'Boomtown Rats.' Geldof, who also organized the Live Aid concert in 1985, said Live 8 was his last: 'I'd be too old by the time the next one comes along.'"


"Misery Thrives in Uganda's Camps"
By Stuart Price
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 13 April 2006
"[...] A desperately overcrowded and ramshackle collection of mud and straw huts some 350km north of Kampala, the camp at Patongo is one of many here housing nearly two million people seeking refuge from the conflict. In squalid conditions, Patongo's 40 335 inhabitants shelter from the brutal treatment accorded northern Ugandan civilians by the rebels who are reviled internationally for killing, maiming, raping and abducting their victims. Apart from families forced to put their children to work for a tiny income, the cramped and unsanitary environment of the camps, had led to a steep increase in exposure to disease. Patongo is no different. Malaria, diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases, including cholera, are common as are cases of pneumonia, malnutrition and worm infestation, particularly among young children, officials here say. ... Henrieke Hommes, an official with the Swiss relief agency MedAir, says overcrowding and resulting water shortages are a real problem in Patongo and other camps. ... Food is also a source of a real concern, [camp leader Okello Celestino] says, noting that the once-lush farmlands of the north lie fallow due to insecurity that has grown as the Ugandan military attempts to re-assert authority, provoking rebel attacks. Even though elusive LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders -- indicted last year by the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges -- now appear to be on the run, their fighters are still an active force. Last month, a small group of rebels launched an attack on Patongo and although it was repulsed, it has underscored the daily danger faced by residents of the camp and those who want desperately to leave. 'It is still too unsafe for people to return to their villages but some have begun to move out near the roadsides where there is some security,' Okello said. [...]"


"RAF Doctor Jailed over Iraq Refusal"
Staff and agency reports in The Guardian, 13 April 2006
"An RAF doctor was jailed for eight months today after being found guilty by a court martial of failing to comply with lawful orders to serve in Iraq. Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith, 37, who likened the invasion of Iraq to a Nazi war crime, was convicted by a panel of five RAF officers on five charges including refusing to serve in Basra. He will also be dismissed from the service. Kendall-Smith, who has dual British and New Zealand citizenship and is based at RAF Kinloss in Morayshire, Scotland, had argued at the court that the on-going presence of US-led forces in Iraq was illegal. He told the military hearing in Aldershot, Hants, that he refused to serve in Basra, Iraq, last July because he did not want to be complicit with an 'act of aggression' contrary to international law. 'I have evidence that the Americans were on a par with Nazi Germany with its actions in the Persian Gulf. I have documents in my possession which support my assertions,' he told the court. 'This is on the basis that on-going acts of aggression in Iraq and systematically applied war crimes provide a moral equivalent between the US and Nazi Germany.' ... Kendall-Smith told the court that he considered the war in Iraq to be the equivalent of an 'imperial invasion and occupation.' He said he was extremely disturbed by America's 'imperial campaign of military conquest,' which was in direct conflict with his duties. [...]"

"US Like Nazis in Iraq: UK Refusenik"
By Peter Graff
Reuters dispatch, 12 April 2006
"A British Air Force doctor being court-martialled for refusing a posting to Iraq said on Wednesday he believed the United States was the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany. Australian-born Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith could face an unlimited jail sentence for disobeying an order to go to Iraq last year and four orders to prepare for his deployment. The case is the first of its kind in Britain over the war in Iraq. 'As early as 2004 I regarded the United States to be on par with Nazi Germany as regards its activities in the Gulf,' Kendall-Smith told the court amid a series of bitter exchanges with prosecutor David Perry. Perry asked: 'Are you saying the U.S. is the moral equivalent of the Third Reich?' Kendall-Smith replied: 'That's correct.' The judge in the case has already ruled that orders for British troops to deploy to Iraq in 2005 were legal because the British presence was covered by a United Nations Security Council resolution passed after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Speaking firmly but often emotionally, Kendall-Smith testified in his own defense as the only witness called in the case. He said he initially tried to resign on learning he was being sent to Iraq, but later concluded it was his duty to remain in the Air Force and refuse the order. [...]"

"Blair's Guantánamo 'Shame' -- Ex-Law Lord"
By Clare Dyer
The Guardian, 12 April 2006
"An eminent former law lord attacked Guantánamo Bay as 'a stain on American justice' last night and said Tony Blair's refusal to condemn it was 'shaming for our country.' Lord Steyn, who retired from Britain's highest court last year, said: 'As a lawyer brought up to admire American democratic values, I feel compelled to say that Guantánamo Bay is a stain on American justice. Only the present administration of the United States tries to defend the utterly indefensible. Unfortunately, our prime minister is not prepared to go further than to say that Guantánamo Bay is an understandable anomaly. In its feebleness this response to a flagrant breach of the rule of law, reminiscent of the worst actions of totalitarian states, is shaming for our country. While our government condones Guantánamo Bay the world is perplexed about our approach to the rule of law. But I hope the world also knows that if the matter was within the jurisdiction of British courts, our judges would unanimously condemn Guantánamo Bay. You may ask: how will it help in regard to the continuing outrage at Guantánamo Bay for our government now to condemn it? The answer is that it would at last be a powerful signal to the world that Britain supports the international rule of law.' [...]"


"For God, for Country"
By Mark Oppenheimer
Slate.com, 14 April 2006
"[...] Many will remember [William Sloane] Coffin for his courageous participation in the civil rights and anti-war marches of the 1960s and '70s. His sermons at Yale, where he was chaplain from 1958 to 1976, often packed the house, and not just with Protestants. It's hard to imagine a Christian chaplain today of whom Jewish students might say, "He was my rebbe," which is how Rabbi James Ponet, Yale '68, described Coffin to me. "Rebbe" connotes teacher, sage, adviser -- and that was Coffin to a generation of boys who couldn't decide whether to fight in Vietnam. Coffin didn't suborn the burning of draft cards, which he found needlessly antagonistic, but he would collect draft notices and give them back to the Pentagon. Coffin had fought in World War II and worked for the CIA. He was as disdainful of silly anti-Americanism as he was of jingoistic rallying cries, and his ability to fuse anti-war rhetoric with love of country is unequaled today. ... It was one of Coffin's signal strengths that he knew where he belonged and knew, too, that there was value in his besieged, liberal Protestant tradition. ... To be simultaneously lovers of tradition and avatars of change: It's a cocktail difficult to mix well, but potent when achieved. [...]"

"To Nuke or Not to Nuke: Bush Decides"
By Andrew Stephen
New Statesman, 17 April 2006
"So the Third World War is imminent and the madman in the White House bunker is about to nuke Iran. That, at least, is the message from the veteran investigative journalist Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. The American media, however, seem far less concerned than the British: on the morning the story was making headlines in the UK, Iran did not even make the front pages of the Washington Post or New York Times. 'Military fantasies on Iran,' a New York Times editorial sniffed on 11 April. So who is right? Is this news or not? It depends on your point of departure. This may surprise people in Britain, but Washington is already working from the assumption that the US will launch some form of conventional-weapon attack on Iran during this presidency. That much is not news here. Indeed, the Bush administration is assuming that when that attack happens it will have the support of Britain and Australia. Nuclear weapons, however, are another matter. Whether they might be used against Iran is a critical issue in the struggle under way between foreign-policy pragmatists and ideological zealots. Washington is divided between these two camps, of which the former is by far the bigger. It consists of sensible people inside the administration itself, the State Department, CIA, Pentagon and the powerful think-tanks, and its numbers are growing exponentially as the president's incompetence becomes undeniable to all but the most fanatical. Every day brings more defections. [...]"

"The Human Costs of Bombing Iran"
By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive, 11 April 2006
"George Bush didn't exactly deny Seymour Hersh's report in The New Yorker that the Administration is considering using tactical nuclear weapons against Iran. Neither did Scott McClellan. Bush called it 'wild speculation,' and McClellan said the United States would go ahead with 'normal military contingency planning.' Those are hardly categorical denials. So let's look at what the human costs of dropping a tactical nuclear weapon on Iran might entail. They are astronomical. 'The number of deaths could exceed a million, and the number of people with increased cancer risks could exceed 10 million,' according to a backgrounder by the Union of Concerned Scientists from May 2005. The National Academy of Sciences studied these earth-penetrating nuclear weapons last year. They could 'kill up to a million people or more if used in heavily populated areas,' concluded the report, which was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense. Physicians for Social Responsibility examined the risks of a more advanced buster-bunker weapon, and it eerily tabulated the toll from an attack on the underground nuclear facility in Esfahan, Iran. 'Three million people would be killed by radiation within two weeks of the explosion, and 35 million people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, would be exposed to increased levels of cancer-causing radiation,' according to a summary of that study in the backgrounder by the Union of Concerned Scientists. [...]"


"Again With the 'Jewish Conspiracy'"
By Evan Derkacz
AlterNet.org, 11 April 2006
"Sometime in the late-18th century, a cabal of powerful Jewish elders sat around a table and hatched a plot to take over the world. If you get that, you get the gist of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. All the rest, as the rabbis say, is commentary. Shortly after 9/11, a young Egyptian cabdriver assured filmmaker Marc Levin that no Jews had perished in the World Trade Center because, he explained, all the Jews had been 'warned in advance.' It's all in that book, the driver told him, written 100 years ago. No matter that 'the book' has been debunked a half a dozen times since the Times of London first exposed it as a forgery in 1921. Levin was surprised by the stubborn prevalence of the 9/11 rumor and alarmed by the penetration of the discredited Protocols, so he set out to explore the history and the current status of its fictions. In a personal, sometimes courageous, but ultimately sloppy journey, his film 'Protocols of Zion' engages Arabs, Muslims, Jews, white supremacists and scholars on the Protocols, Israel and 9/11 in an attempt, apparently, to understand the lure of the book's message. The film premieres Tuesday, April 11 on Cinemax. The Protocols were fabricated by order of the Russian czar in the early years of the 19th century in a classic attempt to rustle up a scapegoat as he began to fear that a revolution was fomenting. Ironically, once the revolution did take place a century later, the Jewish plot once contrived to divert revolutionary energy was subsequently blamed for it. Later, as the communist regime took an ugly turn, Jews would once again make convenient scapegoats and were persecuted accordingly. [...]"


"Italy Won't Seek Extradition over CIA 'Kidnap'"
By Phil Stewart
Reuters dispatch, 13 April 2006
"The Italian government, a close U.S. ally, said on Wednesday it would not seek the extradition of 22 CIA agents accused of kidnapping a Muslim cleric in Milan and flying him to Egypt for interrogation. Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, after months of deliberation, said he would not forward to the United States the extradition request written by Milan prosecutors, who want to eventually put the agents on trial. Castelli did not explain how he had reached his decision, announced two days after the conservative government lost its reelection bid to the center-left opposition. The minister has suggested in the past that the case was politically motivated. Milan Prosecutor Armando Spataro has said a CIA team seized terrorism suspect Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, off a Milan street in broad daylight in 2003. Nasr was then driven to military base north of Venice and flown to Egypt for questioning, according to prosecutors and court documents. Spataro says evidence shows Nasr was tortured there and he intends to soon try the agents in absentia, if possible. He had asked Castelli to request the extradition of the suspects, but expressed skepticism that -- even if Rome had cooperated -- Washington would ever surrender its agents to Italian courts. [...]"


"Deadly Voyage for African Emigrants"
By Claire Soares, Lisa Abend, and Geoff Pingree
The Christian Science Monitor, 11 April 2006
"Africans are taking increasingly dangerous risks as they try to smuggle themselves into Europe in the hope of finding jobs to support families back home. Since Morocco tightened its borders under pressure from the European Union, Mauritania has become the new migrant magnet. That means instead of a short hop across the Mediterranean to mainland Spain, would-be migrants are attempting a 500-mile ocean voyage in rickety, open-topped fishing boats to Spain's Canary Islands, a gateway to the rest of Europe. Some 4,000 Africans have been caught trying to reach the Canaries so far this year -- compared to 4,751 for all of 2005. More than 125 people -- most from Mali and Senegal -- have been detained there in the past week. 'People are taking 10 times the risk to get out. It's like if the door is blocked, you try the window, and if the window's blocked, you try the roof,' says Ahmedou Ould Haye, head of the Mauritanian Red Crescent in Nouadhibou. The Red Crescent estimates that from January to March, at least 1,300 Africans perished trying to make the treacherous trip from this northern port town, where the Sahara desert meets the sea. But the alarming statistics do nothing to puncture the dream of so many young people from West African countries where unemployment can top 50 percent, familial obligations weigh heavy on sons' shoulders, and excited calls from friends already in Europe dispel any momentary doubts. [...]"

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