Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
September 7-13, 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

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"Genocide Issue Blocks Naming Of U.S. Ambassador To Armenia"
Associated Press dispatch on RFE/RL, 13 September 2006
"A U.S. senator has blocked a vote on the nomination of Richard Hoagland to be the new U.S. ambassador to Armenia in protest of the Bush administration's refusal to classify as genocide the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in the closing years of the Ottoman Empire. Until Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from the state of New Jersey, lifts his hold, Hoagland's nomination cannot be voted on by the full U.S. Senate. The Bush administration and Turkey, successor to the Ottoman state, admit many Armenians died but reject use of the term 'genocide.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Srebrenica Trial Told Of Branjevo Horrors"
By Merdijana Sadovic
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 11 September 2006
"The trial of seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers continued this week with the testimony of a survivor of the Srebrenica massacre who described in gripping detail the horrors he suffered after the enclave was overrun by Serb forces in July 1995. Ahmo Hasic -- believed to be one of only 12 men who survived the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys -- told the judges he stayed alive only by playing dead after Serb soldiers started shooting. ... On trial are Ljubisa Beara, Vujadin Popovic, Ljubomir Borovcanin, Vinko Pandurevic and Drago Nikolic, who face genocide and war crimes charges. Radivoj Miletic and Milan Gvero are charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity. ... Hasic told the judges that on July 13 he was separated from his family in Potocari and taken to the nearby Serb-held town of Bratunac, where he and hundreds of other Muslims were detained in the Vuk Karadzic elementary school. But the true horror began on July 16, when the prisoners were taken to the nearby Branjevo farm. According to the indictment against the seven, it was at Branjevo that approximately 1,200 Bosnian Muslim males were summarily executed by automatic gunfire from members of the 10th Sabotage Detachment, the Bratunac Brigade and others. Hasic's two sons and two brothers died in Srebrenica. Last year he reburied one of his sons after his remains were excavated from a mass grave near Srebrenica. He still hasn't found his other son. [...]"

"Richard Gere Arrives in Bosnia to Hunt Karadzic in New Movie", 9 September 2006
"US actor Richard Gere arrived in Bosnia to begin shooting a Hollywood thriller about the hunt for Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes fugutive. Gere will play a journalist trying to seek out Karadzic, who is wanted on war crimes charges. The Hollywood heartthrob told reporters at Sarajevo airport that he had accepted the role in Richard Shepard's 'Flak Jacket' because it was 'a very good script.' Filming is due to start on Tuesday and Gere is expected to work here for ten days. Terrence Howard and Jesse Eusenberg will also star in the movie. The production company, Scout film, has not revealed who -- if anyone -- will play Karadzic, who has been on the run since he was charged with genocide in 1995 by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The former Bosnian Serb leader is accused of ordering the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men in Srebrenica during Bosnia's 1992-95 war, in the worst single atrocity committed in Europe since World War II. He and his associate general Ratko Mladic are believed to be hiding somewhere in either Serbia or the Serb-controlled part of Bosnia. More than 11 years on, both men remain at large and are believed to be hiding in Serbia and Serb-controlled parts of Bosnia. [...]"


"Report Blames Burmese Junta for High Death Rate of Eastern Tribes"
By John Aglionby
The Guardian, 8 September 2006
"The tribes of eastern Burma have some of the worst health conditions in the world as a result of persecution by the junta, a report published yesterday reveals. Evictions, forced labour, destruction of crops and constant fear of death mean the 500,000 members of the Karen, Karenni and Mon tribes are probably more likely to die than people in Congo, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, according to Chronic Emergency: Health and Human Rights in Eastern Burma, by the Back Pack Health Worker Team, a Burma-based community group. Infant mortality is five times higher than in neighbouring Thailand, and the number of children dying aged under five, 22%, is 10 times higher. Around 12% of the population has the most dangerous form of incurable malaria at any one time and 15% of children have malnutrition. One in 12 mothers is likely to die giving birth, claims the report, which is based on interviews with 2,000 families in an area populated by 150,000 people. The vast majority of these people could easily survive with a modicum of basic healthcare, according to Cynthia Maung, who led the investigation. 'Most people are dying from diseases like malaria, respiratory ailments and diarrhoea,' she told the Guardian. 'It would not take much to improve the situation but the government has no interest in doing so.' ... The military has been trying for years to wipe out ethnic minorities' resistance to its rule in eastern Burma, but the Karen National Liberation Army and other armed groups continue to wage a determined, if rearguard, campaign. The only way aid reaches the displaced people is from across the Thai border because the army has blocked other routes. [...]"


"Burundi Rebels to Lay Down Arms"
BBC Online, 11 September 2006
"A ceasefire in Burundi between the government and the last remaining rebel group has come into effect. The FNL (National Liberation Forces) had been the only one of Burundi's main Hutu groups to remain outside a five-year-old peace process. The process culminated last year with the election of a government led by Hutu ex-rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza. Under a new ceasefire agreement signed on Thursday, the FNL's estimated 3,000 fighters are due to disarm. They are expected to start gathering at assembly points, where they must decide whether they want to be integrated into the national army or be demobilised. The African Union and United Nations are due to help monitor the 30-day process. Despite the accord, analysts remain cautious about the prospects for lasting peace after 13 years of civil war in Burundi. The two sides remain far apart on issues critical to a comprehensive peace agreement and the truce was overshadowed by a government crisis. ... More than 300,000 people have died in the war sparked in 1993 by the assassination of Burundi's first Hutu head of state. [...]"


"Iranian-Canadians Protest Toronto Sun Column"
By Brodie Fenlon
Toronto Sun (on, 13 September 2006
"A group of 75 Iranian-Canadians demonstrated outside the Toronto Sun's King St. E. offices at noon today to protest a column by Michael Coren calling for a tactical nuclear strike on Iran. 'I was shocked, both as a Canadian and as an Iranian,' said Niaz Salimi, director of the Canadian chapter of Centre for Thought, Dialogue and Human Rights in Iran. 'Freedom of speech is something we all hold dear, because we are directly suffering from the lack of that back home (in Iran). But should I use that to go and hurt you, damage you, damage the country? No.' Others who participated in the peaceful rally said Coren's column advocated genocide and bordered on hate speech -- a claim denied by the newspaper. The Sept. 2 column called for a 'limited and tactical use of nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s military facilities and its potential nuclear arsenal.' [...]"


"Court Strips Pinochet Immunity in Torture Case"
Reuters dispatch on, 8 September 2006
"Chile's Supreme Court on Friday stripped former dictator Augusto Pinochet of immunity to face charges in a human rights case involving the use of torture at the infamous Villa Grimaldi prison. 'He's been stripped of immunity,' a court source told Reuters after the decision by a Supreme Court panel in Santiago. The ruling opens the way for Pinochet to be charged with human rights abuse, murder and torture. Thousands of people were tortured between 1974 and 1977 at Villa Grimaldi prison, one of the most infamous political detention centers run by Pinochet's secret police. President Michelle Bachelet and her mother were tortured there early in 1975 before going into exile."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Indian Town Buries Bomb Victims"
BBC Online, 9 September 2006
"Muslims in India have begun burying their relatives after bomb attacks near a mosque killed at least 37 people. Police patrolled the city of Malegaon overnight, but a curfew was lifted on Saturday morning with no reports of any violent reaction to the attacks. The city, north-east of Mumbai, has a history of riots between its Hindu minority and the Muslim majority. Three bombs exploded near the mosque and a graveyard on a feast day when Muslims pray for the dead. More than 125 others were hurt in the explosions. The hospital in the western Indian town said 20 of them were in a serious condition. No group has said it planted the bombs, which were reported to have been attached to bicycles, and police have not named any suspects. 'There's a high alert across the state,' said PS Pasricha, director-general of police in Maharashtra state. 'The motive appears to be to create panic and make Hindus and Muslims fight with each other.' A message from the office of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he 'appealed for peace and communal harmony.' [...]"


"Crisis Group Questions Papua Mass Killing Claims"
ABC News (Australia), 8 September 2006
"The International Crisis Group has questioned allegations of mass killings by security forces in the Indonesian province of Papua. In its latest briefing, the Brussels-based group says false assumptions about Papua and the independence movement must be corrected. The group's South-East Asia analyst, Francesca Lawe Davies, says while there is no evidence of genocide taking place in Papua, there are continuing human rights concerns. 'But there are not mass killings and disappearances,' she said. 'There is low level abuse and extortion and indignities and there have been killings by the military of civilians that have not been properly investigated, and the lack of justice for those sort of events that do happen although they're not widespread or anywhere near as common as they used to be in the Suharto era.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Torture Victims' Bodies Found in Baghdad"
Agency Reports in The Guardian, 13 September 2006
"Police have recovered the bodies of 65 men dumped on streets in Baghdad, it was reported today. The discovery sparked fears that civil war in the Iraqi capital was escalating, with Sunni Arab and Shia Muslim death squads undeterred by a month-long security crackdown throughout the city. Police said the victims had been tortured and shot before their bodies were left in mostly Sunni Arab neighbourhoods. An Iraqi interior ministry official and Baghdad police sources told Reuters 60 of the bodies had been found over the past day. Fifteen were discovered close to the Shia militia stronghold of Sadr City. 'We've had worse days,' the interior ministry official said. 'Sometimes, we sent ... even 100 to the morgue.' [...]"

"Hussein's Genocide Trial Resumes"
Associated Press dispatch on, 11 September 2006
"A defiant Saddam Hussein accused Kurdish witnesses at his genocide trial Monday of trying to sow ethnic division in Iraq by alleging chemical attacks and mass arrests in their villages during a 1980s crackdown that the prosecution says claimed up to 180,000 lives. For their part, however, three Kurdish witnesses told of brutal repression during Operation Anfal, 1987-88 campaign to suppress a Kurdish revolt in the final stages of an Iraqi war with Iran. Saddam accused the Kurds of helping Iran in the war. One of the witnesses, a Kurdish-American woman, said she saw people sickened and dying during an alleged chemical attack and demanded compensation from foreign companies that supplied Saddam with chemicals, supposedly for agriculture. 'All the witnesses said in the courtroom that they were oppressed because they were Kurds,' Saddam shouted after hearing the testimony. 'They're trying to create strife between the people of Iraq. They're trying to create division between Kurds and Arabs and this is what I want the people of Iraq to know.' Saddam said the Iraqi people 'should not suffer from the guilt that they killed Kurds' and insisted that he treated loyal Iraqi Kurds fairly. Only those Kurds who joined the Kurdish insurgency were punished, he said. The ex-president is among seven defendants charged with genocide or other offenses committed during Operation Anfal. If convicted, the defendants could face death by hanging. [...]"


"IDF Commander: We Fired More Than a Million Cluster Bombs in Lebanon"
By Meron Rappaport
Ha', 12 September 2006
"'What we did was insane and monstrous, we covered entire towns in cluster bombs,' the head of an IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] rocket unit in Lebanon said regarding the use of cluster bombs and phosphorous shells during the war. Quoting his battalion commander, the rocket unit head stated that the IDF fired around 1,800 cluster bombs, containing over 1.2 million cluster bomblets. In addition, soldiers in IDF artillery units testified that the army used phosphorous shells during the war, widely forbidden by international law. According to their claims, the vast majority of said explosive ordinance was fired in the final 10 days of the war. The rocket unit commander stated that Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) platforms were heavily used in spite of the fact that they were known to be highly inaccurate. ... Because of their high level of failure to detonate, it is believed that there are around 500,000 unexploded munitions on the ground in Lebanon. To date 12 Lebanese civilians have been killed by these mines since the end of the war. [...]"

"Poisonous Clouds of Pollution Spread after Israel Air Strike"
By Geoffrey Lean
The Independent, 10 September 2006
"More people will die as a result of pollution unleashed by Israel's bombing of the Lebanon than perished in the month-long war itself, the Lebanese government believes. Yacoub Sarraf, its Environment Minister, speaking exclusively to The Independent on Sunday, said last week that a highly poisonous cloud spread over a third of the country -- an area that is home to half its people -- from a fire in a bombed fuel tank that burned for 12 days. The same bombing released about four million gallons of oil into the sea, in the largest ever spill in the eastern Mediterranean. He insists that the environmental damage was 'deliberately' caused. Experts say that, if this was so, it would constitute a war crime, in breach of both the Geneva Convention and the statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel retorts that any such suggestion is 'very ridiculous.' ... [Sarraf] expects the greatest 'catastrophe' from the toxic cloud that was blown by the prevailing wind over Beirut and one-third of the country. Tests have shown, he says, that it contains high levels of poisonous lead and mercury, and highly dangerous PCBs. 'Not only have we been breathing this for a month, but all the agricultural produce has been subjected to it. Even worse, all these poisons will come down with the rain, and some will seep through the soil and give us a polluted water table. Then in a couple of years every single citizen in Lebanon will definitely be subjected to poisonous matter in his drinking water.' ... He added that studies have shown there would be decreased fertility and higher rates of cancer. 'This is a bigger disaster even than the war itself,' Mr. Sarraf said. [...]"

"Beirut's Anger over Lasting Damage"
By Chris Morris
BBC Online, 9 September 2006
"[...] The small port of Dalieh is a tiny inlet, little more than a stone's throw from the posh sea-front apartment blocks of West Beirut. About 100 fishermen usually set out from here, Abu Ali among them, to ply their trade in the Mediterranean. But Dalieh has died, it has been smothered. Everything is covered in a thick slick of heavy fuel oil. The smell sticks in the throat, the oil sloshes against blackened boats and rocks, polluting everything it touches. It is filthy, it is toxic, and it is right in the heart of the city. A few men in oil-stained overalls are trying to clean the surface of the water. But their pump has broken down and there is so much garbage stuck in the oil that it becomes a thankless, demoralising task. The fishermen look on, disconsolate, and wonder when they will get their port back. ... It is more or less eight weeks now since Israeli air strikes sent several million gallons of oil flooding into the sea from a power plant south of Beirut. This is heavy fuel oil, and some of it has sunk to the sea bed, poisoning delicate ecosystems Since then delays caused first by the war, then by bureaucratic incompetence, have allowed it to spread along the coast. On Beirut's famous beaches oil has seeped up to half a metre into the sand. Hotels and fish restaurants are closed. And marine life is under threat as well. This is heavy fuel oil, and some of it has sunk to the sea bed, poisoning delicate ecosystems. For a country so dependent on trade and tourism, it is a massive setback. [...]"


"UN Warns of Gaza 'Breaking Point'"
BBC Online, 8 September 2006
"Living conditions for Palestinians in Gaza have reached breaking point, a senior UN official has said. The warning came from Karen Abuzayd, head of the UN Relief and Works Agency. She said Israeli military action in Gaza over recent weeks was creating suffering and mass despair, rather than any desire for political compromise. Israel keeps Gaza's borders largely sealed and conducts regular military operations, prompted in part by the capture of an Israeli soldier. Ms. Abuzayd said that Gaza was becoming increasingly isolated by financial sanctions, the Israeli siege of the territory and daily targeted killings. 'It would be great to have an international presence, civilian, military, whatever,' she said, adding that an international force of peacekeepers could offer Gaza's 1.5m people some protection. 'The strangulation of commerce and trade has ruined the economy, it has brought the institutions of government to a point of near-meltdown and badly shaken the society,' she said. 'These pressures and tactics have not resulted in a desire for compromise on the part of the government or the people, or yet the fall of the government, but rather have created mass despair, anger and a sense of hopelessness and abandonment.' [...]"

"'Gaza is a Jail. Nobody is Allowed to Leave. We Are All Starving Now'"
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent (on, 8 September 2006
"Gaza is dying. The Israeli siege of the Palestinian enclave is so tight that its people are on the edge of starvation. Here on the shores of the Mediterranean a great tragedy is taking place that is being ignored because the world's attention has been diverted by wars in Lebanon and Iraq. A whole society is being destroyed. There are 1.5 million Palestinians imprisoned in the most heavily populated area in the world. Israel has stopped all trade. It has even forbidden fishermen to go far from the shore so they wade into the surf to try vainly to catch fish with hand-thrown nets. Many people are being killed by Israeli incursions that occur every day by land and air. A total of 262 people have been killed and 1,200 wounded, of whom 60 had arms or legs amputated, since 25 June, says Dr Juma al-Saqa, the director of the al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is fast running out of medicine. Of these, 64 were children and 26 women. This bloody conflict in Gaza has so far received only a fraction of the attention given by the international media to the war in Lebanon. ... The Israeli siege and the European boycott are a collective punishment of everybody in Gaza. ... [T]he destruction of Gaza, now under way, will ensure that no peace is possible in the Middle East for generations to come. [...]"


"Joachim Fest, Expert on Hitler, Dies at 79"
By Wolfgang Saxon
The New York Times, 13 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Joachim Fest, a German journalist and author known internationally for his biographies and interpretations of Hitler, Albert Speer and the regime they embodied, died Monday in Kronberg-im-Taunus, his hometown, near Frankfurt-am-Main. He was 79. His death was announced by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the conservative national daily newspaper, from which he retired in 1993 as co-publisher and director of its culture pages. The paper did not give a cause of death. Regarded as politically conservative, Mr. Fest refused to be pigeon-holed. What was clear was his stature as an authoritative writer and one of Germany’s most respected and trenchant analysts of its Nazi period. He left an indelible mark in 1973 with his comprehensive life of Hitler, which came out in the United States the following year, titled 'Hitler: A Biography' (Harcourt). It has been reprinted, most recently in 2000, and remains a valued reference work as well as a solid introduction for general readers. The first major Hitler biography by a German, it devoted less space to detailing the crimes of the Nazi regime in its latter years of destruction and self-destruction than to explaining the phenomenon of Hitler and his improbable ascent to power. [...]"

"Holocaust Book Inspires Epic Clash"
By Alan Cooperman
The Washington Post (in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette), 11 September 2006
"Holocaust history is not a field for academic sissies. It takes a certain sang-froid even to approach the topic. And never mind the crackpots and deniers; even among serious scholars there are epic clashes over who really could have derailed Hitler's Final Solution but did not: Pope Pius XII or Franklin Delano Roosevelt? Ordinary Germans or American Jews? Now, a book defending FDR and a TV documentary about Hitler's brand of Darwinism have thrown patriotism and evolution into the mix, and the debate is turning vicious. Fifty-five historians have signed a letter protesting the new book about Roosevelt because, they say, it impugns the patriotism of scholars who think the United States should have bombed Auschwitz, admitted more refugees and taken other steps to lessen the Nazi genocide. In 'Saving the Jews: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Holocaust,' author Robert N. Rosen contends that 'from Roosevelt's perspective, everything was done that could reasonably be done for European Jewry.' FDR's critics, he writes, are indulging in 'America-bashing' and promoting an 'anti-American' version of history. In their letter last month to Rosen's New York publisher, Thunder's Mouth Press, the 55 historians from universities in the United States, Canada and Israel say that Rosen's 'name-calling and invective' are 'deplorable, false, and have no place in serious discussion of the Roosevelt administration's response to one of the greatest moral crises of the Twentieth Century.' And that's the polite response to Rosen's book. [...]"


"In Russian City, a Rampage of Ethnic Violence"
By Steven Lee Myers
The New York Times, 13 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Ethnic animosity runs so close to the surface of Russian society that almost anything can cause it to boil over. Here in this quiet mill town on the shore of Lake Onego 600 miles north of Moscow it was a bar fight outside a club called Seagull. Two ethnic Russians had died by the time the brawl ended, but the violence had only just begun. Their deaths -- at the hands of men from Azerbaijan and Chechnya -- provoked angry protests and on the night of Sept. 2, a rampage through the town, followed by sporadic acts of vandalism that have continued since. Mobs of young men -- fueled by anger and, officials said, alcohol -- burned the Seagull club, owned by a businessman originally from Azerbaijan. Then they attacked a series of precisely chosen targets: the homes and businesses of migrants from the Caucasus, mostly from Chechnya. They destroyed makeshift stalls in the town's open-air market, threw rocks through apartment windows, overturned and burned cars and kiosks, sacked two shops and burned a third store still under construction. Dozens of the town's residents, Chechens mostly, but also ethnic Azerbaijanis and Georgians, fled that night. A group of 49 are now staying in a tourist camp outside the regional capital, Petrozavodsk, having escaped what is being widely called a pogrom, one that many here welcomed. 'They need to leave,' said Denis Doronin, 19, who said he took part in the protests that led to the violence. 'They arrive from another country and they act like kings.' [...]"


"Rwandan Singer 'Incited' Mass Murder"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on, 11 September 2006
"A Rwandan singer is set to go on trial on charges of genocide in one of the first cases of a musician being charged with mass murder for his work. Simon Bikindi is to appear before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), accused of inciting fellow Hutus to kill minority Tutsis during the 1994 genocide. The 52-year-old Hutu, a renowned traditional musician who became popular during the 1980's, faces six counts of genocide and related charges. Bikindi vehemently denies the charges, and his legal team says the prosecution is a denial of his human rights and artistic liberty. 'Between 1990 and 1994, Simon Bikindi composed, sang, recorded or distributed musical works extolling Hutu solidarity and accusing Tutsis of enslaving Hutus,' the ICTR indictment says. 'These songs were then used to incite Hutus to identify and kill Tutsis,' the indictment says. ... At the time, Bikindi enjoyed almost legendary status in Rwanda and his songs could be heard in buses, bars, restaurants and offices, while wealthy families often hired his band to entertain at weddings and other occasions. Prosecutors say he used his music to incite killings and point to one song in particular -- Njyewe nanga Abahutu, Kinyarwanda for 'I hate the Hutus' -- that they say singled out Hutus who joined the Tutsi rebellion. [...]"

"Rwandan Ex-Mayor Acquitted of Genocide"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 12 September 2006
"The United Nations genocide tribunal for Rwanda on Tuesday acquitted a former Rwandan mayor accused of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the country's 1994 ethnic massacres. Judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) found Jean Mpambara innocent of all three charges he had faced: genocide, complicity to commit genocide and extermination. 'The court declares the accused not guilty on all counts and orders his immediate release,' said Chief Judge Jai Ran Reddy, delivering the verdict, which noted 'significant contradictions' in witness testimony during the trial. Mpambara is only the fourth defendant to be acquitted by the ICTR on charges stemming from the genocide in which about 800 000 people, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were slaughtered by Hutu extremists. Twenty-five suspects have been convicted. Mpambara, the former mayor of Rukara commune in eastern Rwanda, had pleaded not guilty to all the charges for which prosecutors had urged his conviction and the imposition of a life prison sentence. According to the indictment, Mpambara, a Hutu, 'organised and executed' the killing of more than 2,500 Tutsis in his commune at the height of the 100-day killing genocide between April and July 1994. But in closing arguments in May, defence lawyers argued that the prosecution had failed to prove their case. [...]"

"Denmark Arrests Suspect in Rwanda Genocide"
Reuters dispatch on, 8 September 2006
"Denmark arrested a Rwandan immigrant and accused him of being a participant in the African country's 1994 genocide, prosecutors said on Friday. Sylvaire Ahorugeze was charged on Thursday with killing 25 people on the first day of the genocide. At the time, he ran the airport in Rwanda's capital, Kigali. 'We found the case by going through the Category 1 suspect list to see if any of them could be living in Denmark, and one was,' said Birgitte Vestberg, a public prosecutor at Denmark's Special International Crimes Office. Rwanda classifies as Category 1 offenders people who planned, instigated or supervised the genocide. A Danish judge will rule early next week on whether police can continue to detain Ahorugeze, who has been living in Denmark for six years."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"The Deafening Silence About Franco's Genocide"
By Vincent Navarro, 8 September 2006
"[...] [Franco's] victory and the establishment of the dictatorship started a campaign of terror and mass killings that, as British historian Paul Preston has noted, reached genocidal proportions. According to figures provided by the Spanish dictatorship itself, nearly 200,000 people were assassinated (by executions and deaths in concentration camps) in just five years, 1939-1945. These assassinations continued throughout the dictatorship. Just a couple of months before his death in 1975, Franco signed execution orders for five political opponents. The Franco regime was one of the most brutal dictatorships in Europe. For every political assassination that Mussolini ordered, Franco carried out 10,000. After World War II, the U.S. government and the Vatican became the major supporters of the dictatorship. This genocidal history has been silenced nationally and internationally, in part because of the Amnesty Pact signed in 1977. In this pact, all killings, robberies, and other violations of human rights by the dictatorship were forgotten, and the perpetrators remained immune from prosecution. Such a pact is in violation of international laws that challenge whether such immunities can be granted. Besides the Amnesty Pact, during the transition from dictatorship to democracy there was also an agreement between the winners and losers of the Civil War to remain silent about what had occurred, not only during the War, but during the dictatorship. But this pact was respected only by the losers, not by the winners. [...]"


"Dallaire Asks Youth to Support Darfur Intervention"
Canadian Press dispatch on, 13 September 2006
"Romeo Dallaire is calling young Canadians into the streets to promote international causes, especially Darfur. 'We need to get Canadian youth off their butts and into the streets to take on some of these significant international causes ... and to demonstrate their internationalism,' Dallaire said Wednesday. He said he believe's today's young people are more committed to global causes than their parents and he wants them to demonstrate that commitment. The senator and retired general is promoting a Sunday rally in Toronto which he hopes will draw young people to activism on behalf of the beleaguered people of Darfur in Sudan. He says his hope is that youth can prod the populace and the government into spearheading an international effort to stabilize Darfur and end the fighting which has killed thousands of people. ... Dallaire, who led the ill-fated United Nations mission during the Rwandan genocide, is also pushing for a major international force to go into Sudan and stabilize Darfur. He envisions a multi-national force of tens of thousands equipped with light armour and helicopters and with a mandate that would allow them to fight not only Sudanese rebels, but the Khartoum government, if necessary. He said he hopes Canada would be willing to provide money and up to 600 troops for that mission."

"A Lethal Bully That Must Be Tackled"
By Glenys Kinnock
The Times, 13 September 2006
"'Please stay with us, don't leave us' was the desperate plea from a woman I met last year during a visit to a village in Darfur that had just been bombed by the Government of Sudan. Now, as the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force looks set to leave the beleaguered region, her appeal holds renewed poignancy and resonance. Back then, I could not believe that life in Darfur could get any worse. But the situation in this wretched corner of Sudan is deteriorating rapidly. The world's worst humanitarian crisis, which has left between 200,000 and 450,000 dead, three million displaced and 90 per cent of black African villages destroyed looks set to plunge even deeper into catastrophe. Those black African women and children I met, who survived the ethnic cleansing of their villages by the Janjaweed, the Arab, government-sponsored militia, now face the prospect of a serious assault on their villages and refugee camps. These three million traumatised and terrorised victims are more isolated than ever. Because of an unprecedented number of attacks and murders in recent months, humanitarian agencies have withdrawn many staff. The World Food Programme has cautioned that not enough aid is getting through and what does reach people is inadequate for their basic needs. [...]"

"Sudan: Annan Warns Darfur is Heading for Disaster Unless UN Peacekeepers Move In"
UN News Service dispatch on, 13 September 2006
"Darfur is headed for a disaster unless the Sudanese Government changes its mind and allows a force of United Nations peacekeepers to take over from the existing African Union (AU) operation in the strife-torn region, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today. Warning that the situation in Darfur has become desperate, Mr. Annan told a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York that the world faced a 'big challenge' to ensure that there was not a repeat of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. 'If the African Union forces were to leave, and we are not able to put in a UN follow-on force, we are heading for a disaster, and I don't think we can allow that to happen, particularly since we only recently passed the "Responsibility to Protect" resolution,' he said. At the World Summit last year, Member States agreed there is a collective international obligation to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, and the Security Council must take decisive action if there is no peaceful means to protect and the national authorities are manifestly failing to do so. Referring to the experience in Rwanda, Mr. Annan reminded Member States that 'everyone said we should not let it happen again.' [...]"

"Pressure Ratchets Up over Darfur"
By Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor, 13 September 2006
"With time running out on the African Union's peacekeeping force in Darfur, the United Nations may find out if the international community has the ability to stop renewed genocide. A decade after the world looked on as hundreds of thousands of people died in Rwanda and Bosnia, Sudan's region of Darfur is emerging as a test of whether the world can do better this time. Key governments are pressing Sudanese authorities in Khartoum to accept an extension of the African Union force's mandate that runs out at the end of the month. Such a move, international leaders hope, would give time for a more sizable UN force, already approved by the Security Council, to prepare and deploy. But Khartoum so far shows no signs of giving in to international pressure, instead lambasting foreign intervention as neocolonialism, and commencing an offensive to take on rebel forces in the region. The showdown, which is likely to run into next week's UN General Assembly opening session here, is shaping up as a signature 21st-century battle pitting national sovereignty against international authority and an expanding sense of humanity's right to protection. [...]"

"The Tragedy of Darfur"
By Dinaw Mengestu, edition of 21 September 2006
"[...] On May 5th, the leader of the largest faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army, Minni Arkou Minnawi, signed the Darfur Peace Agreement in Abuja, Nigeria. Overnight, Minnawi was transformed from an elusive rebel leader into an international statesman who enjoys the backing of the U.S. government. ... The rebellion grew quickly, but by 2005, as rumors swirled that Minnawi was planning to kill the group's first president, Abdelwahid al-Nur, the SLA had split into two factions. One faction remained loyal to Minnawi, who is from the Zaghawa tribe, the other to al-Nur, who is from the larger Fur tribe. That split left Minnawi with more territory and soldiers than any other rebel leader, while at the same time dividing Darfur along ethnic lines, setting the stage for an inter-rebel war. The peace agreement was supposed to bring calm to Darfur, but instead it has brought even more violence. Minnawi was the only rebel leader to sign the treaty, a move that further split the rebellion into warring factions. 'The first rule of thumb in almost every profession is "do no harm,"' says John Prendergast, a senior analyst who studies Africa for the International Crisis Group. 'I think the mediators of the peace agreement potentially made things worse by securing a deal with only one rebel faction and leaving the other two outside the tent.' Calling him a traitor, Minnawi's former allies began attacking his forces. In response, the SLA has killed and tortured hundreds of people in Northern Darfur believed to be sympathetic to the other rebels. According to Amnesty International, Minnawi's forces went on a four-day rampage in July, raping thirty-nine women and killing seventy-two people in the village of Korma. Even those in Darfur who once supported Minnawi now refer to his SLA as 'janjaweed 2.' [...]"

"U.S. Judge Throws Out Lawsuit Alleging Talisman Energy Aided Sudan Genocide"
By Larry Neumeister
Canadian Press dispatch on Canadian Business Online, 12 September 2006
"A judge threw out a church's lawsuit that accused a Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. (TSX:TLM) of aiding genocide in its pursuit of oil in Sudan, saying Tuesday that the plaintiffs had failed to find evidence that could be used in a U.S. court. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan also denied the plaintiffs the opportunity to amend their lawsuit against Talisman, one of Canada's biggest independent oil and natural gas explorers and producers. The lawsuit accused Talisman of involvement in ethnic cleansing, killings, war crimes, confiscation of property, enslavement, kidnapping and rape in Sudan. A civil trial had been scheduled to begin in January. In 2002, Talisman sold its controversial Sudan properties to India's state-owned energy company and has since focused efforts on growing its other international holdings, which include operations in the British sector of the North Sea and Southeast Asia. 'The plaintiffs have failed to locate admissible evidence that Talisman has violated international law,' Cote wrote. 'The plaintiffs repeatedly describe "Talisman" as having done this or that, when the examination of the sources to which they refer reveals that it is some other entity or an employee of some other company that acted.' [...]"

"Plea for Help as Darfur Peers into Abyss"
By James Bone and Rob Crilly
The Times, 11 September 2006
"A desperate search is under way for a diplomatic deal to prevent a new round of slaughter in the vast western province of Darfur in Sudan as a deadline looms for the threatened expulsion of African Union peacekeepers. ... Yesterday John McCain, the US senator, and Bob Dole, the former senator, called for the creation of a Nato 'no-fly zone' over Darfur to prevent government air attacks. 'Make no mistake: at some point we will step in to help victims in Darfur and police an eventual settlement. The question is whether the United States and other nations will act now to prevent a tragedy or merely express sorrow and act later to deal with its aftermath,' they wrote in The Washington Post. France has raised the idea of sending UN peacekeepers to the region even without Sudanese permission. [...]"
[n.b. There, in a nutshell, are two critical strategies for addressing the Darfur crisis: establishing a no-fly zone, and sending in a UN force with or without Sudanese government permission. Does the political will exist to impose these measures? Very doubtful, unfortunately.]

"Darfur Trembles as Peacekeepers' Exit Looms"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 10 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] 'What happened in Rwanda, it will happen here,' said Sheik Abdullah Muhammad Ali, who fled here from a nearby village seeking the safety that he hoped the presence of about 200 African Union peacekeepers would bring. But the Sudanese government has asked the African Union to quit Darfur rather than hand over its mission to the United Nations. 'If these soldiers leave,' Sheik Ali said, 'we will all be slaughtered.' Tawila and the sprawling, makeshift camp of displaced people at its edge sit astride a deadly fault line in Darfur. This small but strategic town has been the front line of some of the deadliest battles in a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and sent 2.5 million fleeing. It is a place where a grim struggle between the government and its Arab allies, and non-Arab rebel factions, has given way to a fractured struggle that pits non-Arab tribes against one another, fanning centuries-old rivalries and setting the scene for a bloodbath of score-settling vengeance should the African Union soldiers withdraw, as demanded, at the end of this month. Tawila is an apocalyptic postcard from the next and perhaps the grimmest chapter in Darfur's agony, a preview of the coming cataclysm in the conflict the United Nations has called the world’s gravest humanitarian crisis. Thousands of people in this squalid camp fear that their annihilation will be the final chapter in this brutal battle over land, identity, resources and power, which the Bush administration and many others have called genocide. [...]"
[n.b. A terrifying report, by the journalist in the field who is doing the most to drive Darfur's reality home to a North American audience.]

"Time Running Out"
By Simon Robinson, 10 September 2006
"[...] Amid the diplomatic flurry, and as evidence emerged of a new government offensive in Darfur -- Human Rights Watch says government planes indiscriminately bombed civilian-occupied villages in rebel-held areas last week -- one powerful voice was noticeably silent: China's. Khartoum and Beijing are close. The China National Petroleum Corp. owns 40 percent -- the largest single share -- of the consortium that pumps some 330,000 barrels of oil a day from Sudan's oil fields. Beijing has blocked the threat of U.N. sanctions against Sudan's regime and protects it in other ways. But with the bodies piling up in Darfur, would China, which abstained in the Security Council vote on a peacekeeping force, try to twist Khartoum's arm to accept U.N. troops? Probably not. 'They tend to see this whole problem in terms of economic investments rather than human rights,' says Suliman Baldo, Africa Program Director at International Crisis Group (ICG), an NGO that aims to help prevent conflict. At the same time, says Baldo, 'you feel that China wants to be seen in a positive light. They play a very delicate balancing act.' ... As China's influence in Africa grows -- Chad, an oil-rich neighbor of Sudan's, cut ties with Taiwan last month and recognized Beijing — Western diplomats hope that Beijing will start taking other issues into account. 'How to get China on board?' says the ICG's Baldo. 'This has been the big question mark.' It's a question mark that will be repeated in other corners of the globe in coming years. [...]"

"A Cry for Intervention in Darfur"
By Henri E. Cauvin
The Washington Post, 10 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Two years after the Bush administration said genocide had taken place in Sudan, protesters marched yesterday on the White House, demanding that the president press for U.N. peacekeepers who could halt the continuing attacks in the country's Darfur region. The United States and other members of the Security Council have endorsed a plan for U.N. peacekeepers to replace a beleaguered force of African Union soldiers in enforcing a peace agreement signed last year. But the Sudanese government has rejected the deployment, which would be bigger and better-equipped than the African Union force. With signs that the Sudanese government and its allied militias are preparing to step up their attacks, demonstrators said time was short for President Bush to exert U.S. influence on Sudan's president. 'We need to hurry up; we need to put pressure,' Fatima Mohammed Haroun, a Sudanese activist, told a crowd of a few hundred protesters massed in Lafayette Square, across from the White House. Fresh from a trip to see family in Darfur, Haroun said her besieged homeland is desperate for the help of the international community. 'The people are just waiting for someone to come and help them,' she said. [...]"
[n.b. See the home page for Africa Action's Darfur campaign.]

"New Student Activists Fight Old-Fashioned Horror in Sudan"
By Kelly Heyboer
The Star-Ledger, 10 September 2006
"In the 1980s, American college students banded together to protest apartheid in South Africa by urging their colleges and universities to stop investing their endow ments in the country. That movement, which played a small role in the fall of South Africa's apartheid government, has in spired another generation of college students to start a similar campaign. Their issue: genocide in the Sudan. ... The issue caught the attention of students, including many who were inspired by 'Hotel Rwanda,' a 2004 film about a similar genocide in Rwanda. ... The grassroots college movement is helping influence public opinion and put pressure on the Sudanese government, he said. 'Divestment is one of the only ways you can take an international issue and put it on the front page of the local newspaper,' Millenson said. The movement also has spread to state governments. Last year, New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill ordering the divestiture of more than $1 billion in state pension funds from companies with ties to Sudan. Oregon, Illinois and Maine have done the same. [...]"

"In Darfur, Terror From the Air"
By Craig Timberg
The Washington Post (on, 9 September 2006
"[...] Three years into a war in the Darfur region of western Sudan, thousands of villagers have been victimized by government troops and proxy militiamen who killed, raped and looted. Now the government is intensifying an air war featuring Soviet-era Antonov planes jury-rigged into bombers and Mi-24 helicopter gunships turned against mud-and-thatch huts. New waves of shellshocked villagers have left their homes and trekked for days to bulging relief camps. For Mustafa, whose eyes are set deeply into a face the color of aged teak, the air attack did what years of sporadic raids by government-backed Janjaweed militiamen had failed to do. They made him leave his home in Bellala Gorf, about 45 miles northwest of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state. 'They came very low,' Mustafa said, his voice low and rumbly from decades of breathing hot desert dust. 'I was afraid. I just hid.' [...]"

"With Little Authority, African Union Force Struggles With Its Mission in Darfur"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 9 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] The African Union force, with its poor equipment and tiny contingent of 7,000 troops, had hoped to turn over command to a larger, better-equipped United Nations-led force at the end of the month. The Security Council has approved the step. But the government has refused, as it continues to press an offensive against some rebel factions. It has instead proposed keeping the African Union force in place, and from interviews with dozens of officers and soldiers at camps in Darfur, it is easy to see why. African Union officers repeatedly spoke of the frustrations of what has become an impossible mission -- to oversee a peace deal most of the militants in this brutal conflict have signed and to monitor a cease-fire that hardly anyone respects. Most spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak publicly about African Union activities. 'We are frustrated and feeling so useless,' said one major from southern Africa based in Kebkabiya, a government-controlled town that is home to thousands of people displaced by the conflict. 'We are not able to move freely and do our work. Sometimes I wonder if there is any reason for us to be here at all.' But as weak as the African Union force is, nearly all agree it is better than none at all. Frantic diplomatic negotiations are now taking place to make sure some kind of peacekeeping force remains in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of people have died and 2.5 million have been pushed from their homes in the fighting. [...]"

"Government Attacks Intensify in Darfur"
By Rob Crilly
The Christian Science Monitor, 8 September 2006
"Three years after rebels from the farming tribes of Darfur rose up against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum, Sudan, the region is staring into the abyss once again. Government planes have embarked on a wave of indiscriminate bombings in Darfur, killing civilians in Sudan's war-torn western region, according to human rights campaigners. Witness statements collected by Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International detail deaths and injuries to women and children as Russian-made Antonov planes deliver their deadly payload. 'Government forces are bombing villages with blatant disregard for civilian lives,' says Peter Takirambudde, HRW's Africa director. ... Aid agencies warn that a 'peacekeeping vacuum' could make their operations impossible to maintain. Meanwhile, proposed international sanctions as well as investigations of evidence by the International Criminal Court have been brushed off by Khartoum. John Prendergast, a senior adviser at the International Crisis Group who has just returned to the US from Darfur, said the reported attacks were merely the 'first moves on the chessboard,' as the government massed troops in Darfur. 'They are embarked on their usual strategy of cutting the umbilical cord of the rebellion by destroying the civilian population, a strategy which is unchanged since 2003 and 2004,' he says. [...]"

"AU's Darfur Force May Stay Past September 30"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 7 September 2006
"The African Union may keep its forces in Darfur beyond September 30 if Sudan refuses to allow them to become part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation, a senior United States State Department official said on Wednesday. Sudan has so far rejected a UN Security Council resolution calling for the creation of a UN peacekeeping force in Darfur, where tens of thousands of people have died and more than 2,5-million have been displaced during a three-and-a-half year conflict that has spawned a severe humanitarian crisis. The United Nations wants its peacekeeping force to replace and absorb the African Union's 7 000-member contingent, whose mandate expires on September 30 and whose efforts have been hampered by a lack of funds, equipment and logistical support. Asked if Washington expected the African Union to extend its mandate beyond September 30 if Sudan continued to reject a UN force, a senior US official told reporters, 'They'll make their own decision, but I think it's certainly a viable, live option for them.' [...]"


"Turkish Novelist Faces Trial Over Characters' Words"
By Suzan Fraser
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Post, 10 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] A professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of Arizona, [Elif] Shafak, 35, divides her time between Tucson and Istanbul. She sought a postponement of her trial, set for Sept. 21, until after her first child is born, but she was refused. She could receive three years in prison, though similar trials of other Turkish writers have often folded on technicalities. 'I think my case is very bizarre because for the first time they are trying fictional characters,; Shafak said, referring to the words she gave to an Armenian voice in the novel. ... The novel in question, 'The Bastard of Istanbul,' deals with taboos -- domestic violence and incestuous rape -- that are rarely discussed in this conservative, predominantly Muslim country. But it is what Shafak's Armenian American characters say that has landed her in court. For instance, this from a man worried about his niece being brought up by a Turkish stepfather: 'What will that innocent lamb tell her friends when she grows up? ... [That] I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives to the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915, but I myself have been brainwashed to deny the genocide because I was raised by some Turk named Mustapha!' Turkey insists the deaths of up to 1.5 million Armenians during forced evacuations in World War I was not a planned genocide but the result of the bloody breakup of the Ottoman Empire. Shafak said she does not take sides on the genocide debate but accuses Turkey of having 'collective amnesia.' [...]"


"Northern Uganda Safer -- Egeland"
By John Muto-Ono P'lajur and Ono Colombus
The Daily Monitor (Kampala), 13 September 2006
"The UN Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mr Jan Egeland, has said there is now a degree of security in northern Uganda since he first visited the region in 2003. He said the security situation prevailing now makes work easier and hopes for a brighter future for residents. 'I and my colleagues (UN staff), staying overnight for the first time in an internally displaced people’s camp, shows that things have really changed,' Egeland said. ... 'I sat all night yesterday (Saturday), in a very moving experience around a fire place with Acholi-displaced people. We discussed the future and how to bring peace,' he said. A journalist, who accompanied him to the camp, told Daily Monitor that Egeland sat at wang-oo (bonfire) with the community, ate local food, drank ordinary water, bathed in makeshift shelters and slept in one of the huts in the camp. He was entertained with Acholi folklores. 'It was a very good experience. Some UN colleagues were snoring. That was the biggest event of the night. Only a couple of years ago, we would have been pulled off there or we would have been kidnapped if we stayed over in such a camp,' Egeland said. [...]"

"Peace in Northern Uganda?"
International Crisis Group briefing, 13 September 2006
Email communication; the complete text of the report is available here.
"Peace talks in Northern Uganda have shown surprising promise, but they will need a new approach to move significantly further. 'Peace in Northern Uganda?,' the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, examines the steps taken and the hurdles ahead in the negotiations between the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). It calls for a new two-phase mediation strategy to move beyond the current talks led by Dr Riek Machar, vice president of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). 'With a formal cessation of hostilities signed on 26 August, the talks have already moved further than most people expected,' says Caty Clement, Crisis Group's Central Africa Project Director. 'But despite the momentum, there are still huge obstacles ahead.' ... But a more systematic and institutionally supported approach is needed to shepherd the talks forward. The GoSS priority is to get the LRA out of Sudan, not supervise a difficult Ugandan national reconciliation for which it lacks the capacity and resources. The peace talks should now proceed in two phases. Phase one would focus on the technical issues necessary to end the immediate conflict, such as the LRA's return from the bush and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration. Phase two would be a more inclusive discussion on the broader questions dealing with the political and structural issues that have fuelled the cycle of conflict in the north, including Acholi political grievances. [...]"


"Aids Experts Condemn SA Minister"
BBC Online, 6 September 2006
"More than 60 international experts on HIV/Aids have called for the resignation of the South African health minister because of her stance on Aids. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang tells those with HIV to eat garlic and beetroot. In a letter sent to President Thabo Mbeki, the academics called the government's health policy 'disastrous and pseudo-scientific.' 'Many people [in South Africa] are dying unnecessarily' because they cannot get Aids drugs, the letter says. South Africa is one of the countries worst affected by Aids, with some 5.5m people with HIV. 'To have as health minister a person who now has no international respect is an embarrassment to the South African government,' say the experts. They include 1975 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine David Baltimore and Robert Gallo, the developer of the first HIV blood test and co-discoverer of HIV as the cause of Aids. They declared that Anti-Retroviral drugs (ARVs) were the only medication currently available that could alleviate the consequences of HIV infection. Three years ago, the government promised to give ARVs to some 380,000 people but so far fewer than half this number are being treated, the letter says. [...]"
[n.b. Someone asked me over the summer whether I thought a case could be made against the South African government for genocide, based on the number of people "dying unnecessarily" (to quote the academics' letter) as a result of the government's AIDS policies. I replied that I thought it could.]


"Shadow of Genocide Haunts a Humanitarian in the Afterlife, in Return of Lemkin's House"
By Kenneth Jones, 13 September 2006
"Lemkin's House, an expressionist-tinged play by Catherine Filloux about the man who coined the word 'genocide,' and his anguish over its toleration in the modern world, returns to New York City Sept. 13. Presented by Body Politic Theater and Vital Theatre Company, the production will reunite players from the well-received Off-Off-Broadway staging seen February 2006. The new run, at the McGinn Cazale Theatre, will play Sept. 13-Oct. 8. Jean Randich again directs. In the 80-minute, intermissionless Lemkin's House, the title character, Raphael Lemkin, is tormented in the afterlife by the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides, and the international community's failure to stop them. The play won the 2006 Peace Writing Award from the OMNI Center for Peace. The earlier run marked the U.S. premiere of the play by American writer Filloux (The Beauty Inside, Eyes of the Heart, Silence of God). The drama premiered in the Bosnian language in Sarajevo, Bosnia in 2005, and was read at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2005. The returning cast -- limber in multiple roles -- features John Daggett, Christopher Edwards, Laura Flanagan, Christopher McHale and Connie Winston. [...]"
[n.b. I'm heading in to the Big Apple to see this play on September 21, when it will be followed by a very interesting-sounding panel discussion featuring Juan Mendez, among others.]


"Ghana Apologizes to Slaves' Descendants"
By Karen Palmer
The Toronto Star, 10 September 2006
"[...] The fact that Africans sold their own people into slavery is mostly ignored. But Ghana -- a stable English-speaking country in conflict-ravaged, mostly francophone West Africa -- has never shied away from it. 'Long before the coming of Europeans to the Guinea coast of Africa, our local people here themselves already had slavery in existence,' says Philip Amoa-Mensah, a volunteer guide at the Elmina fortress, which was built in 1482 by Portuguese traders. 'Who a slave was and how they were treated could not be compared. To the Europeans, a slave would always be a slave and a slave is the absolute property of the master. He has no protection against the wickedness of the master and he is a tool to be used and discarded.' Guides like Amoa-Mensah deliver ministry-approved scripts describing the dense bush and jungle that ring the coastline, the various diseases that wiped out early slavers and their wives, the columns of hundreds of African men and women forcibly dragged into the forts, subdued by chains and whips. They acknowledge it's unlikely the European slavers could have prospered without local help. Ghana, with more than 50 monuments featuring relics of the slave trade, is considered a sort of mecca for blacks exploring their roots. 'We have something we call the healing, a program that we've dubbed the healing to take care of that aspect of the relationship because we cannot gloss over it,' says Hagan. 'We just want to say sorry, let's back down, let's calm down on these things. Naturally, if you say sorry to somebody, no matter how hard the feeling is, once you say sorry, it mellows things.' [...]"


"Ugandan Paper's Listing of Alleged Gay Men Assailed"
Reuters dispatch on, 7 September 2006
"A Ugandan newspaper's decision to publish the names of alleged gay men is a chilling development in the African country's vilification of homosexuals, a U.S.-based human rights watchdog said Thursday. Human Rights Watch said the publication of the first names, workplaces and other identifying information of the 45 men could be foreshadowing a government crackdown in the country, where sodomy is a crime punishable by life in prison. 'For years, President Yoweri Museveni's government routinely threatens and vilifies lesbians and gays, and subjects sexual rights activists to harassment,' Human Rights Watch researcher Jessica Stern said in a statement. 'At a moment when sensational publicity has spread fear among a whole community, the authorities must exercise their responsibility to protect, not persecute.' The rights group said the list of names was published last month in the tabloid newspaper Red Pepper and that the paper has since told activists that it plans to publish a similar list of alleged lesbians. Similar allegations by the newspaper have led to police action, Human Rights Watch said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. The text of the Human Rights Watch press release is available here.]

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