Monday, April 10, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
April 3-10, 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


"Fickle Donors Neglect Africa's Worst Wars - UN"
Reuters dispatch in SABC News, 9 April 2006
"From the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Sudan, global donors are turning their backs on Africa's worst conflict zones, setting back efforts to stem the killing and ushering in lasting peace, Jan Egeland, the United Nations' humanitarian chief, said today. Egeland said donors had only come up with a fifth of the funding needed this year for both the DRC and southern Sudan, where brutal wars have killed and displaced millions. 'Sudan and Congo are the two worst wars of our generation,' Egeland said. 'The accumulated death toll is several times that of Rwanda's genocide for each. We have to stay the marathon and we are not. We are not adequately able to finish the job, and that means funding the return of refugees and displaced people and demobilising and giving jobs to the fighters,' he added. DRC is gearing up for landmark mid-year elections aimed at drawing a line under a 1998-2003 civil war that sucked in armies from six neighbouring countries and killed almost four million people, most of whom died from hunger and disease. Yet, despite the presence of the world's largest and most costly UN peacekeeping force, violence still rages in the east, where aid workers struggle to get food to tens of thousands of people in remote jungle camps for the displaced. [...]"


"System Of A Down Storm Congress"
By Matt Pullman, 6 April 2006
"System Of A Down [rock group] members Serj Tankian and John Dolmayan will travel to DC for a three-day campaign for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The members, whose families have been personally affected by the genocide, will urge Speaker Of The House Dennis Hastert and other members of Congress to pass a vote on the legislation needed for recognition. The campaign begins on the evening of April 24, where the band will lead a demonstration outside the Turkish Embassy. The following day the band members will be conducting interviews and will host a Congressional screening of Screamers, a documentary about the band's worldwide campaign. On their final day in DC, Tankian and Dolmayan will meet with members of Congress directly, and then will participate in the annual Capitol Hill Armenian Genocide commemoration event, now in its 11th year. The event brings together diplomats, community leaders, human rights activists, Armenian Americans and 30 members of Congress. 'It's important for people to be aware of the Armenian Genocide,' Tankian states in a press release. 'Those actions continue to be covered up by the Turkish government, the US State Department, Turkey's allies in the defense and oil industries, and by our present US Administration. Had the Armenian Genocide been acknowledged as a Crime Against Humanity as it was, Hitler might not have thought he could get away with the Jewish Holocaust. History does and will repeat itself, unless we stop that cycle.' Both Tankian and Dolmayan campaigned in Hastert's hometown of Batavia, Illinois last year to allow the vote on the legislation. [...]"


"Is China Ready to Welcome Home the Dalai Lama?"
By Clifford Coonan
The Independent, 4 April 2006
"The Dalai Lama could be on the verge of a historic visit to the remote, mountainous homeland that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has not seen for nearly 50 years, following indications from the Chinese government that dialogue may, at last, be leading to a rapprochement. But Tibetans are wary of Beijing's tentative approach to the figure they regard as a god-king. The Dalai Lama fled the capital Lhasa in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, nine years after Communist troops entered Tibet. The Chinese government has long proclaimed the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist, who wants to declare independence for 2.7 million Tibetans. Yesterday Ye Xiaowen, head of China's powerful State Bureau of Religious Affairs, appeared to extend an olive branch when he said: 'As long as the Dalai Lama makes it clear that he has completely abandoned Tibetan 'independence,' it is not impossible for us to consider his visit. We can discuss it.' Mr. Ye's comments, which were given prominent coverage in the state-run China Daily newspaper, were seen as the boldest signal yet that the Dalai Lama could fulfil his stated wish of returning to China. But Tibetan rights activists say there is nothing new in the language of the Communist Party official's statement and were suspicious of the timing, just weeks before President Hu Jintao travels to Washington for his first state visit. President George Bush called for greater religious freedom during his visit to China in November. [...]"


"Genocide Added to Hussein Charges"
By Solomon Moore
The Los Angeles Times, 5 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"Iraq's special criminal court filed genocide charges against Saddam Hussein on Tuesday, accusing the deposed dictator of ordering a series of military attacks in 1988 that killed as many as 100,000 Kurds. Six aides, including Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan Majid, known as Chemical Ali, also would stand trial in connection with the Anfal campaign, which included attacks against civilian populations using mustard gas and sarin nerve agent. ... The Anfal campaign was launched, in part, as retribution for an alliance between Kurdish peshmerga soldiers and Iranian troops during the Iran-Iraq war, according to a 1993 Human Rights Watch Report on the Anfal. But investigators also say the campaign, which destroyed thousands of villages, was part of an 'ethnic cleansing' effort. ... Kurdistan still suffers from the legacy of the campaign. Hundreds of villages are little more than ruins. Others are fouled by chemical pollution in the soil and water wells. Many Kurdish communities endure staggeringly high rates of cancer, stillbirths, liver problems and other ailments associated with chemical poisoning. ... Despite the voluminous evidence in the Anfal case, legal experts said that making the genocide charge stick could be difficult because it requires prosecutors to prove that Hussein had command responsibility and his intent was to destroy, in whole or in part, a religious, ethnic or national population. ... Observers of the proceedings also worry that the tribunal will be overwhelmed by the complexity of the case. The Dujayl trial, which has a much narrower focus, has been marked by difficulties, including the assassination of two defense lawyers, the replacement of two judges and Hussein's frequent outbursts. [...]"


"Enemy Soldiers Gather -- To Strive for Peace"
By Amelia Thomas
The Christian Science Monitor, 6 April 2006
"[...] [The men] have one thing in common: All are former combatants who struggled to defend their state -- but half of them are former Israeli soldiers or pilots, while the other half are former Palestinian 'freedom fighters,' many of whom served time in Israeli jails. These men once fought against each other. Together they form a new organization called Combatants for Peace, which -- after being kept secret for a year -- will make its public debut in Jerusalem on April 10. The date coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover and Palestinian Prisoners Day, which is devoted to those detained in Israeli prisons. Combatants for Peace brings together these ex-fighters to encourage dialogue, peace, and an end to conflict in the region. ... The group's monthly meetings are charged with emotion, says Yonatan Shapira ... another cofounder. For new Palestinian members, it may be the first time they have seen an unarmed Israeli soldier, Yonatan says. 'For Israelis,' he continues, 'they're often at first afraid of talking in front of Palestinians about what they did during combat. For every new member, it's a frightening experience, but it's also exhilarating.' Mr. Aramin, who served seven years in an Israeli jail for 'acts of defiance' against Israeli soldiers, agrees. 'It's a paradox,' he says. 'You hear a man talking about how he shot, killed, damaged your neighbor's house. But you feel empathy for him. You realize that we are all from the same background, but just from different sides. The soldier wanted to protect his people, and so did we. But we've all discovered we were wrong in how we did it.' [...]"

"Shooting of British Cameraman by Israeli Soldier Cold-Blooded Murder, Inquest Told"
By Vikram Dodd
The Guardian, 5 April 2006
"A military expert yesterday told an inquest that the death of a British journalist who was shot dead by an Israeli soldier was 'calculated, cold-blooded murder.' James Miller, 34, was killed by a single shot in May 2003 in Gaza while making a documentary about the suffering of Palestinian children. No soldier has been disciplined or charged and in court the cameraman's family have accused Israel of a coverup, claiming there is evidence that his killer is Lieutenant Heib of the Israeli defence force. The jury yesterday was told by Chris Cobb-Smith, who investigated Mr. Miller's death, that the fatal shot was 'deliberate' and not an accident. Mr. Miller died as he and colleagues were trying to leave a Palestinian house at night, holding a white flag with a torch shone on it, clad in body armour and helmets with the letters 'TV' written on it in fluorescent tape. Mr. Cobb-Smith, a former British army officer and UN weapons inspector, said Mr. Miller and his colleagues would have been visible to the Israeli soldiers, who had night vision goggles. The sky was cloudless, the moon was shining and electric lights were shining from nearby houses. 'My conclusion is this was calculated and cold-blooded murder, without a shadow of a doubt,' Mr Cobb-Smith told the jury at St Pancras coroner's court in London. [...]"


"War Lives On at Museum of the Macabre"
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, 7 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"More than 200,000 Chinese filed through the remains of Japan's notorious Unit 731 here last year, visiting the ghosts of World War II. In exhibits mounted throughout the bleak headquarters building, they saw wrenching descriptions of biological warfare experiments carried out on thousands of Chinese prisoners from 1939 to 1945. The phrase 'Do not forget us' has been inscribed on the wall of one room, where visitors can see the names and photos of some of those who received botulism injections, were made to suffer frostbite or had their internal organs removed by Japanese military doctors. Curator Wang Peng describes plans for a $62.5 million restoration of the facility in Harbin, China, where Japan's notorious Unit 731 conducted biological warfare experiments on Chinese prisoners during World War II. Heeding those words, authorities have drawn up plans for a $62.5 million expansion of the museum, condemning a middle school and an apartment complex to make way for restoring the once top-secret facility, where researchers estimate 3,000 Chinese were killed and 300,000 sickened by the hideous wartime experiments. The aim, said curator Wang Peng, is to make the story of Japan's atrocities at Unit 731 known to an ever-wider audience. 'Our goal is to build it into a world-class war memorial and educate people all over the world,' Wang said in an interview. 'This is not just a Chinese concern. It is a concern of humanity.' [...]"


"'There is No Remedy Against the Language of Truth'"
By Robert Fisk, 6 April 2006
"Reading these diaries [by Victor Klemperer] as the RER train takes me out to Charles de Gaulle airport -- through the 1930s art deco architecture of Drancy station where French Jews were taken by their own police force before transportation to Auschwitz -- I wish President Ahmadinejad of Iran could travel with me. For Ahmadinejad it was who called the Jewish Holocaust a 'myth,' who ostentatiously called for a conference -- in Tehran, of course -- to find out the truth about the genocide of six million Jews, which any sane historian acknowledges to be one of the terrible realities of the 20th century, along, of course, with the Holocaust of one and a half million Armenians in 1915. The best reply to Ahmadinejad's childish nonsense came from ex-president Khatami of Iran, the only honourable Middle East leader of our time, whose refusal to countenance violence by his own supporters inevitably and sadly led to the demise of his 'civil society' at the hands of more ruthless clerical opponents. 'The death of even one Jew is a crime,' Khatami said, thus destroying in one sentence the lie that his successor was trying to propagate. Indeed, his words symbolised something more important: that the importance and the evil of the Holocaust do not depend on the Jewish identity of the victims. The awesome, wickedness of the Holocaust lies in the fact that the victims were human beings -- just like you and me. How do we then persuade the Muslims of the Middle East of this simple truth? [...]"

"Fury at 'Antisemitic' Catholic Radio Station"
By Matthew Day
The Scotsman, 7 April 2006
"A Catholic radio station in Poland that has close ties with the country's government has been attacked by a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto uprising after it broadcast a programme accusing Jews of profiteering from the Holocaust. Mark Edelman, who fought German troops trying to liquidate the Jewish ghetto in 1943, said Radio Maryja was xenophobic and antisemitic, likening its contents to Nazi propaganda. Mr. Edelman, a respected member of Poland's Jewish community, urged the government to stop the station, which enjoys widespread popularity and is run by a maverick priest, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, from broadcasting antisemitic material. Mr. Edelman's accusations were followed by a robust attack on the station by the Vatican, which charged it with having a political agenda and abusing its church radio status. ... The statement comes days after a media watchdog accused Radio Maryja of making 'very nasty, antisemitic' remarks by claiming in a recent broadcast that Jews have made a business of Holocaust reparation payments. In the broadcast, a commentator accused Jews of 'trying to force our government to pay extortion money disguised as compensation payments' for property lost in the war. He referred to such restitution attempts by Jewish groups as the 'Holocaust business.' [...]"


"Swastika Vigilantes Kill Foreign Students to Keep Their City 'Clean'"
By Jeremy Page
The Times, 8 April 2006
"The African students did not even see the man raise the swastika-emblazoned shotgun as they emerged from the Apollo nightclub in St Petersburg. When he opened fire from the shadows behind them, some of the group thought it was a firecracker going off. Then they saw Samba Lampsar Sall, a 28-year-old student from Senegal, lying dead on the pavement with his throat blown apart. Within hours, a sinister message had appeared on the website of a group called the Party of Freedom. 'The clean-up of the city continues,' it said. ... Mr Sall's brutal murder exposes one of Russia's most disturbing problems as President Putin prepares to host the G8 summit in St Petersburg in mid-July. For all its grandeur and impressive art collections, Russia's second city is fast becoming the racist capital of the world. Critics say that the authorities are not doing enough to combat the extremists who routinely attack, and kill, Africans, Asians and immigrants from the Caucasus or Central Asia. Seven people have been killed, and 79 injured, in more than 40 racist attacks this year, according to Sova, a non-governmental organisation that monitors extremism in Russia. Last year, 28 people were killed and 366 injured in racially motivated crimes, it says. [...]"


"Rwanda Opens Probe into French Genocide Role"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on, 10 April 2006
"Rwanda has established an official panel to probe allegations that France played a role in the tiny central Africa nation's 1994 genocide that claimed 800,000 lives, officials said Monday. In a statement, the government said the panel would look into accusations that France trained and armed those responsible for the massacres and helped some of them flee in the aftermath. The six-member inquiry team, formed last week, will be headed by Attorney General Jean de Dieu Mucyo and includes a researcher, a lawyer, a former military officer and two women, the statement said. Kigali has repeatedly accused Paris of abetting the genocide, but France has denied having a hand in the 100-day killing spree by extremist Hutu militia against minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Last year, a former French soldier alleged that French troops had trained Rwandan civilian 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.' French soldiers were deployed to southwestern Rwanda under a UN mandate in the final weeks of the genocide to set up and secure a humanitarian zone, but have been accused of allowing radical Hutus to enter Tutsi camps. [...]"

"A 'Chilling' Examination of Genocide"
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, 8 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"Attorney Barbara Mulvaney has spent three years prosecuting the accused mastermind of the Rwanda genocide. But her most personal contact with him came only recently, when he casually testified about how he would go about assassinating someone in the courtroom, his cold stare swiveling in her direction. Col. Theoneste Bagosora, a former military commander accused of overseeing the mass killings of Rwandan Tutsis in 1994, was asked to explain how he had issued orders. To answer, he gave a detailed hypothetical illustration about dispatching a killer to infiltrate the tightly guarded war crimes tribunal here. 'If you give an order to someone, for example, to come and kill someone here in this courtroom,' Bagosora began, turning his head toward the prosecution table at the far side of the room and locking eyes with Mulvaney. 'That was chilling,' the former Playa del Rey resident remembered scribbling on a note to her co-counsel as Bagosora went on to explain how his assassination order would include specifics about the courtroom layout and position of guards. ... To prepare for the case, she had to endure graphic evidence about Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana being raped with a bottle after she was killed. Mulvaney spent hours viewing old news footage of the piles of bodies in the roads, most hacked with machetes in a genocidal rampage that turned neighbor against neighbor. ... Her experience at the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda has not only consumed her professional life and tested her ability to survive as an American woman in a male-dominated, multinational workplace, it also has shaken her long-standing notions about God, justice and humanity. 'This is a process that makes you question the underpinning of everything you thought was correct,' she said. 'It's going to take awhile to digest this.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Hans Offerdal for supplying this link.]

"Genocide Survivor Can't Forgive"
BBC Online, 7 April 2006
"[...] In reaction to seeing my father hacked to death, I moved from under the mattress. It still feels like yesterday that it happened. As I came out I felt something weird inside me and then when I looked around I realised that the military man was shooting. I saw blood on me so that's how I knew I had been shot. I was shot on the face, on the shoulder -- the whole of the right side. After I was shot the military man told the Interahamwe [militia] to get in and look for the 'cockroaches' that were still breathing, so they would finish them off. So one of them came to me and touched me where I had been shot and after that I fainted. I don't know what happened next. Later on I woke up. In the years since the genocide, I have been very sick and constantly in pain. I live on pain killers -- I'm always on medication. I can't forgive the people that did this to me. It is impossible. Maybe one can forgive somebody who has asked for forgiveness, but they've never come to me to ask for forgiveness. [...]"

"Rwanda: Child Survivors Left to Grapple Alone With Aftermath of Genocide"
Hirondelle News Agency (on, 7 April 2006
"A London-based human rights organisation, African Rights, says that the children survivors have been left to bear the legacy of physical injuries and emotional anguish, often without even minimal support of a social network, in a new report published on eve of the 12th commemoration of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. The 28 page report titled: 'A wounded generation: The children who survived the Rwanda's genocide,' details the impact the genocide has had on children survivors. It contains testimonies from various children, who were all under 20 years during the genocide. According to the report, while the signs of trauma were most evident in the very young in the first two or three years after the genocide, the fact that the trauma is today particularly pronounced among survivors in secondary schools, speaks volumes of the hurt and injury in the hearts and minds of those who were very young in 1994. The majority of the children interviewed talk of suffering during the loss of their loved ones including parents, sisters, brothers and other relatives. 'I was the only survivor from my family. I became an orphan at a very young age. I had to leave school, not for lack of means, but because of psychological problems. I had trouble remembering things after the massacre,' said Vestine Umugwaneza who was 11 years old during the genocide. He has sworn never to forget the events of 1994. Another survivor, Charlotte Ingabire, who was aged 15 during the genocide, does not see the worth of living without members of her entire family who were all killed in front of her. 'I am dead, even if others see me as alive. I hid so I wouldn't die. This is how I've come to be suffering alone, with no consolation and no-one to rely on in the difficult conditions in which I find myself today,' lamented Ingabire. [...]"

"Remember Rwanda by Taking Action on Darfur", 7 April 2006
"Africa Action today marked the International Day of Reflection on the Rwandan genocide by emphasizing the urgent need for action on the continuing genocide in Darfur. ... Ann-Louise Colgan, Director of Policy Analysis & Communications at Africa Action, said today, 'As the situation in Darfur continues to deteriorate, the international community must take immediate and vigorous measures to bring about a multinational peacekeeping mission with the mandate to protect civilians. The expedited planning for a future UN mission, recently authorized by a Security Council resolution, will produce options for action on April 24. Now the duty of the international community lies in ensuring that these plans, and related diplomatic efforts, yield an immediate protection force for the people of Darfur.' Africa Action notes that the month of April provides a new opportunity for the necessary international action on Darfur. ... UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland warned this week that, if international resolve flags, gains in humanitarian aid access made in 2005 are likely to be lost in the coming year, with disastrous consequences for the people of Darfur. Marie Clarke Brill, Director of Public Education & Mobilization at Africa Action, said , 'As activists commemorate the massive and tragic loss of life in the Rwandan genocide, they also realize that the phrase "never again" can only be meaningful if applied forcefully to confront genocide as it occurs. Outspoken and unremitting pressure brought to bear by concerned Americans has created new momentum for action on Darfur, and this attention will not cease until a UN intervention mission is on the ground to halt this genocide.' [...]"


"The Pariah in Search of a Courtroom"
By Michelle Faul
The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 5 April 2006
"The international community is determined to move former Liberian president Charles Taylor's war crimes trial to The Netherlands, and will even ensure that his defence witnesses will be able to appear there, a United Nations official said. At his first court appearance on Monday before the UN-backed war crimes court, Taylor had asked through his lawyer that his case remain in Sierra Leone, where he is accused of backing notoriously brutal rebels during a 1991-2002 civil war. Taylor, who entered a plea of not guilty on Tuesday, argued that defence witnesses would find it difficult to travel to Europe. No date for the start of his trial has been set. Taylor still is talking to numerous lawyers but has not decided on a defence team, which it could take months to prepare. The question of where the trial will be held also must be resolved, and a sticking point may be that Taylor has become an international pariah, welcome in no country. Court officials have asked that the trial be moved to The Hague in The Netherlands, because of fears the 58-year-old Taylor, once among the most feared warlords in the region, could still spark unrest in West Africa. The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that Dutch officials had requested before agreeing to the transfer. The trial would remain under the auspices of the independent, international Special Court sitting in Sierra Leone, with the International Criminal Court providing only the courtroom. [...]"

"Analysis: Why Charles Taylor May Not Stay in Africa"
By Simon Robinson, 4 April 2006
"When former Liberian president Charles Taylor appeared before the Special Court for Sierra Leone on Monday, initially refusing to recognize its authority before pleading not guilty, it marked the first phase in the trial of one of Africa's most wanted men. 'The people of Sierra Leone have been waiting patiently for three years to see the accused finally face the trial chamber,' said prosecutor Desmond de Silva. 'Many voices have come together to uphold the rule of law and justice. The voice of the people of Sierra Leone was the loudest and I commend them for their courage, conviction and persistence.' But for all the applause, Taylor's first day in a Freetown court may also be his last. Within hours of taking custody of Taylor last week, the Special Court -- an independent tribunal established jointly by Sierra Leone and the United Nations and mandated to bring to justice the leaders behind war crimes and atrocities committed during Sierra Leone's civil war -- asked the Netherlands if it could hold Taylor's trial in The Hague. Prosecutor de Silva, as well as the leaders of neighboring African countries, believe that trying Taylor in Sierra Leone could destabilize the region. Taylor still has thousands of supporters, most of them unemployed former soldiers, in Liberia, which he ruled for seven years, as well as in neighboring Sierra Leone, whose civil war he allegedly fueled by buying diamonds and supplying arms. Many observers fear that Taylor could call on those same loyal men and boys to foment trouble again. [...]"

"As Mutilated Victims Look On, Liberian Warlord is Accused of Crimes against Humanity"
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, 4 April 2006
"It was a day that they never thought would arrive; not the handless and one-legged victims of the brutal war in Sierra Leone, not the child soldiers who called him 'Pappy,' and certainly not the former warlord as he enjoyed his comfortable exile on the Nigerian coast. But at 3pm yesterday, in a Freetown courthouse lined with barbed wire and guarded by UN troops and local soldiers, international justice finally caught up with Charles Taylor. ... Mr. Taylor was brought to the Sierra Leone capital last Wednesday, having been captured at the Nigeria-Cameroon border. He had fled his home two days earlier after Nigeria, which had granted him exile under a 2003 peace deal, agreed to give him up. After being deported to Liberia, he was flown directly to Freetown by UN troops. 'This is a good day. I am so glad and happy that he is being tried,' Ali Tullah, 18, who helps run a youth training centre opposite the court gates, told Reuters yesterday, shortly before the hearing. 'He is a west African terrorist.' It is a sentiment echoed across the region, even if the relief is tinged with fear of retribution from Mr Taylor's supporters. Citing concerns over security, the special court in Freetown has requested that the trial be moved to The Hague in the Netherlands. The main trial is not expected to begin for months, to give Mr Taylor time to organise a defence. [...]"


"NATO Role in Darfur On Table"
By Bradley Graham and Colum Lynch
The Washington Post, 10 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"The Bush administration has settled on the idea of sending up to several hundred NATO advisers to help bolster African Union peacekeeping troops in their efforts to shield villagers in Sudan's Darfur region from fighting between government-backed Arab militias and rebel groups, administration officials said. The move would include some U.S. troops and mark a significant expansion of U.S. and allied involvement in the conflict. So far, NATO's role has been limited to airlifting African Union forces to the region and providing a few military specialists to help the peacekeeping contingent. The proposal, which still faces uncertain approval within NATO because of concerns that it could be a distraction from operations in Afghanistan, falls well short of more aggressive measures that some have advocated, such as sending ground combat troops or providing air patrols to protect peacekeepers and prevent the bombing of villages. These options have been ruled out as unnecessary at this time, an administration official said. In general, U.S. officials said, their aim has been to address shortcomings in the African Union force without upstaging that force and stirring resentment in a region highly sensitive to the presence of Western troops. Plans under consideration envision fewer than 500 NATO advisers. They would be assigned to African Union headquarters units and assist in logistics, communications, intelligence and command and control activities, not engage directly in field operations. The likely number of U.S. advisers has yet to be determined, officials said. [...]"

"Arab, Muslim Silence on Darfur Conflict is Deafening"
By Fatema Abdul Rasul
The Daily Star (Lebanon), 10 April 2006
"For the entire Muslim and Arab world to remain silent when thousands of people in Darfur continue to be killed is shameful and hypocritical. On March 28, 2006, the Arab League held its annual summit in Khartoum but failed to effectively address the crisis in Darfur. Earlier in March, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council had extended its mission in Darfur until September 30, and the League has decided to financially support the AU mission from October onward. Considering the urgency of the situation in the region, the response of the Arab League is inadequate. The money is needed now. 'This is medicine after death,' said Baba Gana Kingibe, the head of the AU mission in Sudan. 'We need the assistance now in order to be able to resolve the crisis.' The Koran clearly states: 'O ye who believe! Remain steadfast for Allah, bearing witness to justice. Do not allow your hatred for others make you swerve to wrongdoing and turn you away from justice. Be just; that is closer to true piety.' (5:8) Yet, the Arab and Muslim world has failed to condemn the violence in Darfur or assist any efforts by the international community to protect the innocent civilians -- most of whom are Muslim. Arab and Muslim leaders have never hesitated to condemn the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq or the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Yet, none of them have spoken out against Khartoum's policies in Darfur even though the number of Darfurians killed surpasses those in the other two conflicts. [...]"

"Black Americans Quiet on Darfur Crisis"
By Ervin Dyer
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 10 April 2006
"Black faces are few and far between at sessions like the one at Pitt given by Brian Steidle, a former Marine and onetime peacekeeper in Sudan who witnessed violence and now shows his photographs and urges action on the issue. A multitude of factors limit black American access to the growing crisis in Sudan, where the death toll is estimated to be as high as 400,000 and more than 2.5 million people are in refugee camps following the destruction of their villages. For centuries, conflict has embroiled the Sudan. It has escalated in recent years with clashes over customs, languages, oil, land and politics. Rape, slaughter, starvation and displacement are rife. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Colin Powell called it genocide. Among the barriers, say scholars and social activists, are a lack of news media attention, black leaders' focus on surviving critical domestic problems, the black community's lack of focus on international issues and the perception that the Darfur campaign is largely the province of the Jewish community. 'Engagement of African Americans has been slow,' said the Rev. Gloria White-Hammond, a Boston pediatrician who first visited the Sudan in 2001 and then came home to urge other black Americans to help. ... 'Blacks are engageable, but it is work,' she said of her efforts, which include going to church conferences, holding brown bag luncheons and seeking radio ads. [...]"

"No Breakthrough at Darfur Talks"
BBC Online, 9 April 2006
"A high-level meeting to speed-up the peace process for Sudan's Darfur region has ended without a breakthrough in the Nigerian capital, Abuja. African Union (AU) mediators said the talks had created a positive atmosphere and the Sudanese government and rebels had agreed to direct negotiations. But a rebel spokesman said nothing new had come out of the meeting. Negotiators will continue talks at a hotel in a bid to reach a deal before the end of April -- the AU's deadline. They have been negotiating for almost two years and progress has been agonisingly slow, the BBC's Alex Last reports from Abuja. But mediators are optimistic that a new ceasefire deal could be agreed soon, possibly within days. Millions still rely on food aid and emergency relief. They hope that would pave the way for a comprehensive peace agreement. [...]"

"UN Envoy Says Darfur Reminds Him of Rwanda Genocide"
By Nick Wadhams
Sapa-AP dispatch in The Mail and Guardian [South Africa], 8 April 2006
"Twelve years after the Rwanda genocide, nations still seem unwilling to commit the troops and money that would be needed to stop other mass slaughters of civilians, a top United Nations envoy said on Friday. Governments have repeatedly promised 'never again' in the years since the Holocaust and the 1994 Rwanda killings. They have gotten better at nurturing peace processes, but are still reluctant to do much more, said Juan Mendez, the UN special adviser on prevention of genocide. 'My sense is there's the same kind of wariness,' Mendez told a news conference. '"Let somebody else do it" is still very much in place.' Mendez pointed to the continued violence in Sudan's western Darfur region, labelled by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian disaster. The Darfur conflict started in 2003 and has claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people, mainly through famine and disease. Several million more have either fled into neighbouring Chad or been displaced inside Sudan. Mendez said estimates of the number killed range from 100 000 to 400 000. The international community and the Sudanese government share blame for the continued unrest, which is only getting worse, Mendez said. [...]"

"Canada's Dallaire to Review UN Darfur plan: CTV", 8 April 2006
"The United Nations will soon ask Sen. Romeo Dallaire to review a peacekeeping plan for Darfur -- something that could mean deploying more Canadian troops there, CTV News has learned. 'It needs not developing country's troops, it needs developed countries troops,' Dallaire, who witnessed the 1994 Rwandan genocide firsthand while commanding handcuffed UN troops, told CTV News about the Darfur situation. 'It needs troops from the northern countries, it needs troops from middle powers like Canada.' MPs from all parties gathered this week to express sadness and horror at the ongoing violence that has killed more than 200,000 people and created more than three million refugees. 'As we gather here in Ottawa, mass atrocity and impunity continue in Darfur,' Liberal MP Irwin Cotler said. They issued a call for action, and it's one that Prime Minister Stephen Harper may act on. 'We have given that some preliminary consideration. We haven't reached any final decision,' Harper said. 'This obviously is something that would have to be worked out in concert with all of our allies including the United States and others.' Canada has about 50 soldiers in Darfur acting as advisors or otherwise providing support to African Union troops. In addition, Canada has sent about 100 armoured vehicles. [...]"

"Teachers' Pension Fund Takes Action on Sudan"
By Jim Doyle
The San Francisco Chronicle, 7 April 2006
"The California State Teachers' Retirement System, the nation's second-largest public pension fund, took a big step Thursday toward divesting its assets from companies with ties to the government of Sudan. Citing the genocide in Sudan's troubled region of Darfur, the retirement system board voted 9-0, with one abstention, to signal its intent to unload investments in foreign firms doing business in Sudan. The pension fund has $141 billion in assets. As of last week, the retirement system's stock holdings included more than $12 million in five companies with links to the Sudanese government. Thursday's vote directed the retirement system staff to develop a divestment plan modeled after the plan adopted last month by the University of California Board of Regents. The retirement system board plans to make its final decision on divestment in June. 'CalSTRS has recognized the magnitude and immediacy of the atrocities in Darfur and has taken unprecedented action,' said Jason Miller, co-chair of UC's Divest Sudan Task Force, who spoke to the retirement board in favor of divestment. 'CalSTRS decided to address uniquely heinous crimes with an equally unique solution: divestment.' [...]"

"Sudan Blocks U.N. Official From Visiting Darfur Region"
By Marc Lacey
The New York Times, 4 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"The government of Sudan has blocked Jan Egeland, the United Nations' top emergency aid official, from visiting the western Darfur region this week, prompting Mr. Egeland to accuse Khartoum of trying to hide the dire conditions there. The Sudanese government offered various explanations for its decision not to allow Mr. Egeland, the under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and the United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, to visit Khartoum, the capital, or Darfur beginning Monday. Jamal Ibrahim, a Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the visit was merely postponed because it would have coincided with the Prophet Muhammad's birthday. He also said in an interview with the BBC that it would have been unsafe for Mr. Egeland, a Norwegian, to visit Sudan given the recent controversy over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper. But the United Nations said that the trip had been planned in advance and that the decision by Sudanese authorities not to approve his flight appeared to be politically motivated. 'They said I'm not welcome,' Mr. Egeland said in a telephone interview from Rumbek, in southern Sudan, which operates semi-autonomously and did approve the visit. 'My interpretation is that they don't want me to see what I was planning to witness in south and west Darfur, which is renewed attacks on the civilian population.' [...]"

"Holocaust in Plain Sight"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 3 April 2006
"[...] On April 30, the Save Darfur Coalition-an alliance of more than 155 faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organizations -- will hold a rally at the National Mall in Washington: the 'Rally to Stop Genocide.' I don't have the space to list all the members of the coalition, but they include as co-sponsor the American Jewish World Service (which has been instrumental in organizing the Jewish community and has already raised more than $2 million to provide emergency relief and support for the Darfur survivors). Among the other coalition organizers for the April 30 rally are: the American Society for Muslim Advancement, the National Association of Evangelicals, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Anti-Slavery Group, Amnesty International, Christian Solidarity International, Physicians for Human Rights, National Black Church Initiative, and various regional and local organizations. For information on the rally and how to be a part of it, the website is: Chuck Thies, the rally director is at 202-478-6302. To sign up for the rally, you can also click on [...]"


"Revealed: Victims of UK's Cold War Torture Camp"
By Ian Cobain
The Guardian, 3 April 2006
"Photographs of victims of a secret torture programme operated by British authorities during the early days of the cold war are published for the first time today after being concealed for almost 60 years. The pictures show men who had suffered months of starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings and extreme cold at one of a number of interrogation centres run by the War Office in postwar Germany. A few were starved or beaten to death, while British soldiers are alleged to have tortured some victims with thumb screws and shin screws recovered from a gestapo prison. The men in the photographs are not Nazis, however, but suspected communists, arrested in 1946 because they were thought to support the Soviet Union, an ally 18 months earlier. Apparently believing that war with the Soviet Union was inevitable, the War Office was seeking information about Russian military and intelligence methods. Dozens of women were also detained and tortured, as were a number of genuine Soviet agents, scores of suspected Nazis, and former members of the SS. ... Sherman Carroll, of the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, said British authorities should also apologise and pay compensation to survivors. 'The suggestion that Britain did not use torture during world war two and in the immediate aftermath, because it was regarded as "ineffective," is a mythology that has been successfully propagated for decades,' he said. 'The fact that it took place should be acknowledged.' [...]"


"If We Use Nuclear Weapons Against Iran, We Will Be War Criminals"
By Cenk Uygur, 10 April 2006
"We might be on the verge of starting World War III and everyone seems decidedly calm. ... If President Bush and/or Vice President Cheney were to give that order [to attack Iran with nuclear weapons], it would not be a legal order -- and the United States military should not carry it out. They should tell the president to stand down. Luckily, it appears that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are on the verge of doing something similar. Seymour Hersh is reporting in The New Yorker that the Joint Chiefs will give a formal recommendation saying they are strongly opposed to the nuclear option in Iran. Luckily, not everyone in the government has lost their mind. Unfortunately, Hersh is also reporting that the administration is considering this option very seriously. There are at least three top advisers of the president who have signed on to the idea of using nuclear weapons as a tactical part of our arsenal, including Stephen Hadley, our national security adviser. Over the weekend, the administration has been backing off their earlier aggressive public stance on this because of political pressure, but you will not be surprised to find out I don't believe them. A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee says George Bush has a 'messianic vision' in foreign policy. A government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon says that Bush believes no one else has the courage to act on Iran, so he must 'save Iran,' by, of course, bombing it. The president believes this will be his legacy. At least he's right about that. ... It was one thing to be catastrophically wrong about post-war planning in Iraq, it's another to be wrong about the consequences of nuclear war. My God, how can we look ourselves in the mirror if we allow our government to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on another country? We cannot incinerate any more innocent people without incinerating the idea of America. [...]"
[n.b. See the full text of Seymour Hersh's chilling article. Let us unite to stop these apocalyptic lunatics before they strike again.]

"Returning to the Scene of the Crime: War Crimes in Iraq"
By Noam Chomsky (on, 4 April 2006
"[...] In November 2004, U.S. occupation forces launched their second major attack on the city of Falluja. The press reported major war crimes instantly, with approval. The attack began with a bombing campaign intended to drive out all but the adult male population; men ages fifteen to forty-five who attempted to flee Falluja were turned back. The plans resembled the preliminary stage of the Srebrenica massacre, though the Serb attackers trucked women and children out of the city instead of bombing them out. While the preliminary bombing was under way, Iraqi journalist Nermeen al-Mufti reported from 'the city of minarets [which] once echoed the Euphrates in its beauty and calm [with its] plentiful water and lush greenery ... a summer resort for Iraqis [where people went] for leisure, for a swim at the nearby Habbaniya lake, for a kebab meal.' She described the fate of victims of these bombing attacks in which sometimes whole families, including pregnant women and babies, unable to flee, along with many others, were killed because the attackers who ordered their flight had cordoned off the city, closing the exit roads. ... After several weeks of bombing, the United States began its ground attack in Falluja. It opened with the conquest of the Falluja General Hospital. The front-page story in the New York Times reported that 'patients and hospital employees were rushed out of rooms by armed soldiers and ordered to sit or lie on the floor while troops tied their hands behind their backs.' An accompanying photograph depicted the scene. It was presented as a meritorious achievement. [...]"


"Argentina and Uruguay Shun US Military Academy"
By Duncan Campbell
The Guardian, 6 April 2006
"Two Latin American countries are to stop sending troops for training to a controversial military academy in the US. The move was welcomed by groups that have been campaigning against the academy since it was accused, in its previous incarnation, of training Latin American soldiers in illegal interrogation techniques. The defence ministers of Argentina and Uruguay have decided to stop sending soldiers to train at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (Whinsec), the military academy based at Fort Benning, Georgia, according to a statement by a Washington-based organisation, School of the Americas Watch. In the past both countries regularly sent soldiers to Fort Benning for training. ... The institute, which is attended by between 700 and 1,000 students annually, replaced the School of the Americas (SOA) when the latter was closed in 2000. SOA became notorious when it emerged that some of its graduates had gone on to become brutal military leaders in Latin America's 'dirty wars' using SOA manuals. Graduates included the late Salvadoran rightwing militia leader Roberto D'Aubuisson, known as 'Blowtorch Bob' for his interrogation methods; Efraín Ríos Montt, later accused of genocide in Guatemala; Leopoldo Galtieri, the late Argentinian junta leader jailed for human rights abuses, and Manuel Noriega, the former Panamanian leader now serving 40 years for drugs offences in the US. In 2001, following a long campaign against it, the school was officially closed and Whinsec was created. SOA Watch argue that, despite the changes, it should still be closed. [...]"


"In Zimbabwe, Life Ends Before 40"
By Peta Thornycroft
The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 2006
"Zimbabwean doctors have issued an urgent plea for the Government of President Robert Mugabe to rescue the country's collapsing health services as research revealed that Zimbabwean women now have the shortest lives in the world. The average Zimbabwean woman is dying at 34, figures published on Friday in the World Health Organisation annual report for 2006 said. Zimbabwean men can expect to live only to 37. While the report linked the shocking statistic to the high incidence of HIV-AIDS, many doctors complained that it was also because of the collapse of the health system in the country, which is struggling through its worst political and economic crisis since independence in 1980. Peter Iliff, a doctor and a member of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, said: 'The life expectancy for women in Zimbabwe is not only about HIV-AIDS. Many women are dying during pregnancy, or during or after delivery. It is shocking.' [...]"


"Amnesty Report Claims CIA Used Private Flights to Hide Terror Rendition", 4 April 2006
"Amnesty International has released a report claiming that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) used private aircraft operators and front companies to hide CIA rendition flights and 'black site' detention facilities in foreign countries. The report includes a lengthy account drawn upon the only public testimony of detainees held at 'black sites,' that of three Yemeni nationals who 'disappeared' in U.S. custody for more than eighteen months but were never charged with any terrorism-related offences. 'During their "disappearance," the three men were kept in at least four different secret facilities, likely to have been in at least three different countries, judging by the length of their transfer flights and other information they have been able to provide,' the report states. 'Although not conclusive, the evidence suggests that they were held at various times in Djibouti, Afghanistan and Eastern Europe.' While imprisoned in Afghanistan, the men were kept in 'complete isolation, in cells measuring about 2m x 3m,' and 'permanently shackled to a ring fixed in the floor.' ... Finally, they were returned to Yemen where 'after more than nine months in arbitrary detention' the men pleaded guilty to forging travel documents, even though no evidence was presented in court, then sentenced to two year prison sentences. Since the men had spent up to 18 months in secret U.S. custody and 9 months in Yemen, they were ordered released by the judge. [...]"
[n.b. See the complete text of the Amnesty report.]


"Genital Mutilation Mars the Life of Sudanese Women"
By Ali Khalil
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 4 April 2006
"Ilham could not hold back the tears as she recounted how her six-year-old sister Eglal bled to death under the knife of a traditional midwife circumcising her, even though it happened way back in 1980. Twenty-six years later, young girls in the poverty-stricken African country -- ruled by an Islamist regime since a 1989 coup -- are still subjected to this ancient tradition, branded by human rights organisations as 'female genital mutilation or cutting' (FGM). On December 6, four-year-old Inaam Abdul Wahab died of severe infections. But when a diligent doctor insisted on performing an autopsy it appeared that she was also subjected to FGM. ... Ilham said her sisters were being subjected to infibulation, which is known as Pharaonic circumcision -- the severest of three types of FGM. It involves the removal of genitalia and closure of the vaginal opening by stitching. About 82% of women in Sudan, whose population is estimated at 40-million, have undergone infibulation, while the total percentage of women who have undergone any form of FGM is over 90, said a 2004 study by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). The two other forms include the clitoridectomy, which involves full or partial amputation of the clitoris, and the 'intermediate,' which takes away the clitoris and a portion or all of the inner vaginal lips. Under an Islamic guise, clitoridectomy is also referred to as Sunnah (tradition of the Prophet Muhammad) circumcision. But surprisingly, more Christians in Sudan practise the Sunnah method than Muslims. [...]"


"U.N.: Nations Refuse to Stop Genocide"
By Nick Wadhams
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 8 April 2006
"Twelve years after the Rwanda genocide, nations still seem unwilling to commit the troops and money that would be needed to stop mass slaughter of civilians, a top U.N. envoy said. Governments have repeatedly promised 'never again' in the years since Holocaust and the 1994 Rwanda killings. Yet while they have gotten better at nurturing peace, they are still reluctant to do much more, said Juan Mendez, the U.N. special adviser on prevention of genocide. 'My sense is there's the same kind of wariness,' Mendez told a news conference Friday. '"Let somebody else do it" is still very much in place.' Mendez pointed to the continued violence in Sudan's western Darfur region, labeled by the United Nations as the world's worst humanitarian disaster. ... 'In effect, for the last two years we have engaged in half measures, and those half measures, one, have not been sufficient to protect and, two, they're showing signs of unraveling,' Mendez said. He spoke on the 12th anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide, when the former extremist government unleashed a 100-day wave of slaughter that killed at least half a million people. The dead were mostly from the Tutsi ethnic minority and moderates of the Hutu majority. [...]"


"The Hague Thrives on International Justice", 11 April 2006
"Slobodan Milosevic's cell may not be empty for long. The death of the former Yugoslav president was a brief setback in what is otherwise a boom time for international justice and its capital, The Hague. Milosevic's death in custody deprived the UN tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) of a verdict in the trial of its highest-profile suspect, but others should take his place soon in The Hague, including former Liberian leader Charles Taylor. 'The tribunal can absolutely survive the death of Milosevic,' said Avril McDonald from the T.M.C. Asser Institute, an organisation which researches law, in The Hague. 'There is so much going on at the moment.' Hopes are growing that Serbia will arrest top fugitive Ratko Mladic, indicted for genocide in the 1992-95 Bosnian war. The European Union has given Belgrade until the end of April to surrender the Bosnian Serb former general or risk a freeze on talks leading up to membership of the 25-nation bloc. Even if Mladic remains at large, the tribunal is busier than ever after the arrival of a flood of suspects in the past year. In August, it plans to launch a combined trial of Bosnian Serbs charged with genocide over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. The week after Milosevic died, the new International Criminal Court (ICC) - also based in The Hague -- received its first suspect, Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga. Set up in 2002 as the first permanent court to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, the ICC also looks set to play host to former Liberian President Taylor, arrested in Nigeria last month and sent for trial to Sierra Leone. [...]"


"What the Pentagon Budget Could Buy You"
By Todd Chretien, 7-9 April 2006
"The U.S. government spent $2.25 trillion last year, not counting Social Security. This pile of dollar bills could be laid out end to end and stretch from the earth to the sun and back, and still have enough left over to get to Mars. According to the War Resisters League, about half of this eye-popping sum goes to military spending. The League arrives at this figure by adding the official Pentagon budget for 2006 ($450 billion), plus the 'supplemental' funds that Congress granted for the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq ($120 billion), plus the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons maintenance and development costs ($17 billion), plus veterans' benefits ($76 billion), plus the portion of federal debt interest payments accrued from past military spending (at least $275 billion), plus another $10-20 billion from various federal departments that goes toward military costs. Lest you imagine that rank-and-file soldiers and sailors are rolling in the dough, keep in mind that only $110 billion of military spending goes to salaries, and only $76 billion for VA benefits. In fact, starting pay for an Army private is about $16,000 a year. By way of comparison, China spent $35 billion on its military last year. Since the former USSR collapsed in 1991, U.S. military spending has increased by over 50 percent. By and large, this obscene military budget inflation has been a bipartisan effort, with the parties squabbling over this or that high-tech system, and this or that base closure. [...]"

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