Friday, October 06, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
September 29 - October 6, 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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"Argentines Rally in Support of Dictator"
Associated Press dispatch in The Daily Comet, 6 October 2006
"Some 5,000 right-wing demonstrators rallied in the capital, showing support for the former military dictatorship that waged a brutal campaign against suspected leftists. The protesters gathered at a plaza in downtown Buenos Aires, chanting slogans and saying that the bloody tactics used by the dictatorship were justified in the fight against subversive groups. 'No soldier will ask for forgiveness,' said Ana Lucioni, a member of the Commission to Honor the Victims of Subversion, one of the groups that organized the rally. Official estimates blame the 1976-83 military regime for the disappearance of some 13,000 suspected leftists, though human rights groups put the figure at about 30,000. Carrying signs with slogans such as 'Victims of terrorism are never remembered,' the protesters criticized leftist President Nestor Kirchner's efforts to bring those responsible for human rights abuses to trial. Under Kirchner, a number of dictatorship-era human rights trials have been reopened that could send military officials -- most of them retired -- to prison. Leftist organizations staged a counterprotest two blocks away to demand 'trial and punishment for genocide.' Police kept the two groups apart. [...]"


"Early Results of Bosnia Vote Reinforce Ethnic Split"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 3 October 2006
"Bosnia's ethnic divisions seem most likely to become even more firmly entrenched, as partial results of national elections on Monday showed two parties with diametrically opposing views in the lead. The results could delay a move by the international authorities to end their oversight of the country. Parties led by Haris Silajdzic, top, and Milorad Dodik were expected to dominate the Bosnian government after elections. After a campaign dominated by nationalist grandstanding, parties led by Haris Silajdzic, the Bosnian Muslim who was prime minister during the war fought from 1992 to 1995, and Milorad Dodik, the most prominent Bosnian Serb politician, were expected to dominate the country's main institutions. Complete results in the voting for the country's complex governing system were not expected until the end of the week. During the election campaign, both men were criticized for increasing ethnic tensions as they outlined conflicting views of Bosnia's future. Each man advocates a tough version of the policies generally supported by his ethnic group. Bosnian Muslims, the country's largest group, with some support from their Roman Catholic Croat allies, seek a more unified country. They want to carry out political and economic changes that will enable Bosnia to join the European Union. But many Serbs still want the half of the country that they dominate to become independent. [...]"


"East Timor Shock as New UN Chief Changes His Mind"
By Lindsay Murdoch
The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 September 2006
"The man appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, to head a new mission in East Timor has decided not to take the job, in a setback for plans to help the country recover from months of violence. Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, a former president of Cape Verde, who originally accepted the job earlier this month, has changed his mind, which will leave the UN mission in East Timor leaderless for weeks as international police and troops struggle to curb gang violence in the capital, Dili. The mission is also under pressure to move quickly to help organise national elections scheduled for April. The mission approved by the UN Security Council in August has been without a leader since it formally assumed responsibilities in East Timor almost a month ago. Japan's Sukehiro Hasegawa, who had led the former UN mission since 2004, has already left the country. The new mission will consist of 1600 international police, including 130 Australians, and about 500 UN civilian personnel. Hundreds of Australian troops will also remain in the country. Mr. Monteiro told the UN this week that he decided not to take the job because of opposition to his appointment in Dili. [...]"


"Germans Uncover 'Nazi Mass Grave'"
BBC Online, 5 October 2006
"Skeletons of 22 children and 29 adults have been found in a suspected Nazi-era mass grave excavated in Germany. The remains were exhumed from the cemetery of a Catholic church in the village of Menden-Barge. Officials said the dead may have been victims of Adolf Hitler's 'euthanasia' programme, under which many disabled people were murdered. Hitler's Nazi regime killed more than six million Jews and other minorities across Europe during World War II. 'We assume that these were victims of the Nazi regime,' state prosecutor Ulrich Maass said. Mr. Maass said authorities would search for evidence about the suspected killings and witnesses to any atrocities. At least one witness, a former church assistant, said he saw corpses brought to the grave by horse-drawn cart. But he admitted that it could be difficult to find enough strong evidence to bring charges against any individual, 61 years after the end of the war. Poisons often used to kill victims would be hard to detect after so many years. The prosecutor said a culture of secrecy surrounded the grave until recent years. The cemetery is near the site of a hospital once run by Hitler's personal doctor Karl Brandt, who headed the 'euthanasia' programme, called Action T4. Victims were killed by lethal injection or by carbon monoxide fumes piped into sheds from car exhausts."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Third Reich Epic Sparks Bidding War"
By Jason Burke
The Guardian, 1 October 2006
"[...] Les Bienveillantes (The Furies) has stayed at the top of the French bestseller list since its publication a month ago. With 100,000 copies sold, it is listed for major literary prizes and French critics have lauded the book in terms unheard for many years. 'A stunning saga in the tradition of the great Russians,' said Le Monde, comparing Littell, an American educated in France, to Tolstoy. Marc Fumaroli, of the French Academy, called it 'an enormous saucepan thumped down on the table of a literary public dying of hunger.' For Le Point magazine, it is 'enormous, black, incandescent, the sort of book we thought was now impossible.' Les Bienveillantes is the fictional memoirs of Dr. Maximilien Aue, a Waffen-SS officer, and readers are plunged into a labyrinth of Nazi bureaucracy and mass murder. It took its author four months to write after four years of research. [Jonathan] Littell, son of US spy thriller writer Robert Littell, is a former aid worker who attributes his fascination with 'the banality of evil' to meeting genocidal killers in the Balkans and seeing mass graves in Chechnya and Africa. Gallimard, the book's Paris publishers, attribute the success of Les Bienveillantes to the sheer quality of the work, but others are less flattering. 'There are two types of literary success in France, the authentic and the manufactured,' said one reporter at a literary magazine, who did not wish to be named. 'The success of this book is artificial. It is dependent on the whole publishing machine, with critics, journalists, editors and eventually the public building up a "buzz" that is not deserved.' [...]"

"Anti-Neo Nazi Shirt Seller Fined"
Reuters dispatch on, 30 September 2006
"A German judge on Friday fined the seller of a range of anti-neo Nazi t-shirts and badges because the products bear the infamous swastika symbol -- with a large red line through it. The logo -- a red circle with a line across it superimposed on the Nazi emblem -- is a popular image among left-wing activists and anti-neo Nazi campaigners in Germany and can be purchased on lapel-pins and items of clothing. However, Wolfgang Kuellmer, a Stuttgart judge, ruled on Friday that its increasing popularity risked making the Nazi hooked cross acceptable again in Germany, over 60 years after it was outlawed following Hitler's defeat. 'In particular this mass market business risked undermining its taboo status,' Kuellmer said. Under German law, performing a Hitler salute, wearing Nazi uniform or displaying the swastika can carry a penalty of a fine or up to three years in prison. The 32-year-old distributor, who ran a mail order service and Web site, was fined 3,600 euros. The judge ordered the seizure of 16,500 pieces of merchandise, two palettes of brochures and around 8,400 publicity flyers bearing the logo. Green party member of parliament, Claudia Roth, herself once investigated by the Stuttgart authorities for wearing an anti-Nazi lapel pin, said the ruling was unjustified. 'This ruling is scandalous,' she said. 'It is a form of autism which completely ignores the real problems of right wing extremism, anti-Semitism and racism in this country.' [...]"


"Guatemala Ex-Dictator May Face Genocide Charges"
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 6 October 2006
"Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt may face genocide charges related to widespread massacres of Maya Indians at the height of one of Latin America's bloodiest civil wars in the early 1980s. Guatemalan prosecutors are reviewing evidence dating to the 1960-1996 civil war to determine whether human rights activists have a case against the 80-year-old retired general, public prosecutor Nancy Lorena Paiz said on Friday. Two prominent human rights groups have spent five years scouring war-ravaged hamlets and villages for evidence, which includes first-hand accounts of massacres by survivors of the conflict in which an estimated 200,000 people died. If public prosecutors deem the evidence sufficient, a Guatemalan judge will decide whether Rios Montt, who ran for president in 2003 two decades after his 1982-83 coup-led rule, can stand trial. Rios Montt, the second of three anti-communist rulers between the early 1970s and early 1980s, declared an all-out war on leftist guerrillas fighting his U.S.-backed government in Guatemala's predominantly Mayan highlands and jungles. His brief rule was characterized by army and paramilitary massacres of entire villages thought to sympathize with rebels and is considered by human rights groups to be the bloodiest period of the war, which U.N.-brokered peace accords ended. All previous efforts to prosecute Rios Montt have failed. Earlier this year a Spanish high court judge visited Guatemala to gather genocide evidence against him but he returned empty-handed and his later calls from Spain for Rios Montt's arrest have not been heeded."
[n.b. Oh, this is one bastard I would dearly love to see in the dock. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Iraqi Journalists Add Laws to List of Dangers"
By Paul von Zielbauer
The New York Times (on, 29 September 2006
"Ahmed al-Karbouli, a reporter for Baghdadiya TV in the violent city of Ramadi, did his best to ignore the death threats, right up until six armed men drilled him with bullets after midday prayers. He was the fourth journalist killed in Iraq in September alone, out of a total of more than 130 since the 2003 invasion, the vast majority of them Iraqis. But these days, men with guns are not Iraqi reporters' only threat. Men with gavels are, too. Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein's penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year. Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists were accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who 'publicly insults' the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison. ... In addition to coping with government pressures, dozens of Iraqi journalists have been kidnapped by criminal gangs or detained by the American military, on suspicion that they are helping Sunni insurgents or Shiite militias. One, Bilal Hussein, who photographed insurgents in Anbar Province for The Associated Press, has been in American custody without charges since April. And all Iraqi journalists have to live with the fear of death, which often dictates extreme security measures. Abdel Karim Hamadie, the news manager for Al Iraqiya Television, said he sometimes went months without leaving the station's compound. [...]"


"Israeli Bomblets Plague Lebanon"
By Michael Slackman
The New York Times, 6 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"Since the war between Israel and Hezbollah ended in August, nearly three people have been wounded or killed each day by cluster bombs Israel dropped in the waning days of the war, and officials now say it will take more than a year to clear the region of them. United Nations officials estimate that southern Lebanon is littered with one million unexploded bomblets, far outnumbering the 650,000 people living in the region. They are stuck in the branches of olive trees and the broad leaves of banana trees. They are on rooftops, mixed in with rubble and littered across fields, farms, driveways, roads and outside schools. As of Sept. 28, officials here said cluster bombs had severely wounded 109 people -- and killed 18 others. ... Cluster bombs are legal if aimed at military targets and are very effective, military experts say. Nonetheless, Israel has been heavily criticized by United Nations officials, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for using cluster bombs, because they are difficult to focus exclusively on military targets. Israel was also criticized because it fired most of its cluster bombs in the last days of the war, when the United Nations Security Council was negotiating a resolution to end the conflict. ... In Lebanon there are two explanations of why Israel unleashed cluster bombs at the end of the war: to inflict as much damage as possible on Hezbollah before withdrawing, or to litter the south with unexploded cluster bombs as a strategy to keep people from returning right away. ... Repeated efforts to get Israeli officials to explain the rationale behind the use of the bombs have proved fruitless, with spokesmen referring all queries to short official statements arguing that everything done conformed with international law. [...]"

"UN: Israel Used Precision Bomb to Hit UN Officers"
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 29 September 2006
"Israel used a precision-guided bomb to launch a direct hit on four U.N. peacekeepers killed in southern Lebanon last July, the
United Nations said on Friday of its probe into the incident. But a report by a special U.N.-appointed board of inquiry could not affix blame because Israel did not allow the access to operational or tactical level commanders involved in the July 25 disaster at Khiam. Four military observers died, officers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland. Therefore, the board was 'unable to determine why the attacks on the U.N. position were not halted, despite repeated demarches (communications) to the Israeli authorities from U.N. personnel, both in the field and in U.N. headquarters,' Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement. Annan said the U.N. bunker at Khiam 'was struck by a 500-kilogram precision-guided aerial bomb.' Despite not drawing any conclusions, a senior U.N. official briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said precision-guided munitions were 'precision-guided and meant to hit the targets they hit, which was the United Nations.' ... U.N. officials agreed Hizbollah guerrillas were at a base in the area as well as in a nearby prison. But they said there was no activity from the militia on July 25 and the U.N. bunker was clearly marked. Jane Holl Lute, a deputy head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, told the U.N. Security Council on July 26 there were 21 strikes within 300 metres (yards) of the observer post during the six hours before it was completely destroyed. Twelve of the 21 struck within 100 metres, including four that scored direct hits, Holl Lute said. While there was speculation Israel may have been targeting Hizbollah positions near the Khiam post, Holl Lute said there was no Hizbollah firing coming from near the outpost. An Irish army officer in south Lebanon warned Israeli forces six times that its strikes threatened the lives of the four observers, Ireland's Foreign Ministry said."
[n.b. One wonders whether the "senior U.N. official briefing reporters on condition of anonymity," and stating that "precision-guided [bombs are] meant to hit the targets they hit, which was the United Nations," was in fact Kofi Annan himself.]


"The Siege Of Gaza Goes On"
By John Dugard
The Independent (on, 5 October 2006
"[...] Israel's war in Gaza has disappeared from the radar of international concern. Yet it is as important as the conflict in Lebanon. It highlights the intractability of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and reveals, yet again, the brutality of Israel's occupation. Israel's attack on Gaza has taken several forms. On the military front, it has made repeated incursions in which both militants and civilians have been killed. Targeted assassinations have continued, accompanied by 'collateral damage' -- the name Israel gives to the indiscriminate killing of civilians who happen to be in the proximity. The Israeli Air Force has bombed all six transformers of the only domestic power plant in Gaza. Since then, the power supply has been substantially reduced. Generators are used to operate X-ray departments and operating theatres. Perishable food cannot be preserved. Poverty in Gaza stands at 75 per cent. Food prices have inflated and sugar, dairy products and milk are low as commercial supplies from Israel are limited. Fish is no longer available as a result of Israel's sea blockade. Gaza's border crossings, for persons to Egypt, and for goods to Israel, have been mostly closed since 25 June. This has brought to a virtual end the export of produce; and drastically limited the import of foodstuffs and other goods. ... In short, the people of Gaza have been subjected to collective punishment in clear violation of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. [...]"
[n.b. The author "is special rapporteur to the Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in occupied Palestinian territory."]


"Mau Mau Veterans to Sue Britain over 'Torture'"
By Rob Crilly
The Times, 6 October 2006
"The Norfolk Hotel has stood for a century as a symbol of Britain's colonial rule in Kenya. It is the sort of place where descendants of white settlers take gin and tonics on the veranda, away from the hurly burly of the Nairobi streets. So it was fitting that Jane Muthoni Mara, a 66-year-old veteran of the Mau Mau Uprising, made the journey to the Norfolk for the first time yesterday to begin a compensation claim against the British Government for the torture she says she suffered during the 1950s. Hers is one of 11 test cases that will be brought in a £1 million claim. If successful, it could open the floodgates for hundreds more. Kenya's Human Rights Commission believes that about 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the struggle against British colonial rule. Yesterday, as the 11 were revealed for the first time, Mrs. Mara told her story. ... The case is the latest to be brought by Martyn Day, a British human rights lawyer. He said that he had evidence that Whitehall supported a deliberate attempt to use brutal measures to put down the uprising. ... The claim will be lodged with the British Government next week. If it refuses to settle, the papers will be passed to the High Court. However, the claim faces considerable legal challenges. It is half a century since many of the alleged crimes were committed, and a spokeswoman for the British High Commission in Nairobi said that all claims of government responsibility were passed to the Kenyan Government at independence."


"Namibia: Genocide Claims Get Huge Support in Parly"
By Kuvee Kangueehi
New Era (Windhoek) (on, 5 October 2006
"The motion in the National Assembly on the Ovaherero Genocide yesterday gained momentum as three opposition parties threw their weight behind it. The motion was introduced by Nudo President and Ovaherero Paramount Chief, Kuaima Riruako, last month. The presidents of the DTA of Namibia, Congress of Democrats (CoD) and United Democratic Front (UDF) all called for Parliament to support the motion and demand reparations. DTA President Katuutire Kaura, who was the first to take the floor on the motion yesterday, said he was no stranger to the topic (genocide) and showed a picture where he and Riruako were delivering a petition to the German Embassy during the visit to Namibia of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Kaura said the fact that he was from the DTA and Riruako from Nudo was immaterial. He said the local German population becomes very sensitive when the issue is touched on and feel that the Ovahereros are talking about them. Kaura thus called on local Germans to drop the attitude of guilt by association and help the Ovahereros in sensitizing the German Government on the issue. 'If the German Government is assisting German schools in this country, why can't it assist the schools in Namibia where victims of the infamous destruction order are being trained?' Kaura further noted that the genocide issue is not owned by anyone in particular but today is owned by all of the descendants of the genocide as well as other Namibians. The parliamentarian claimed that the 'chickens have come home to roost and the motion is at the right place in the Namibian Parliament.' [...]"


"Serbia Asserts Its Sovereignty over Kosovo in Legislation"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 2 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"As the United Nations Security Council looks increasingly likely to grant independence to Kosovo, Serbia's government has adopted a new Constitution that asserts what it considers is its irrefutable right to the province. The Serbian Parliament voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to pass the Constitution, which includes a provision that defines Kosovo -- currently administered by the United Nations -- as an 'integral part' of Serbia. Kosovo's fate is the subject of United Nations-led negotiations between the Serbian government and ethnic Albanians in the province. The ethnic Albanians want independence, while the Serbian government and the province's small Serbian community demand that Kosovo remain part of Serbia. Few Western diplomats say the groups will be able to reach agreement, leaving the decision to the United Nations Security Council, which is expected to grant Kosovo its independence, possibly by the end of the year. The countries leading the United Nations effort to broker an agreement -- a group that includes the United States and Russia -- have been trying to get commitments from Kosovo's ethnic Albanians that they would not discriminate against or harm the Serbian minority. The countries hoped that would help Serbia accept Kosovo's independence. But Western diplomats say Serbia has been intransigent about the possible breakup, and the passage of the Constitution is yet another indication that the country will not accept Kosovo's independence easily. [...]"


"Darfur: Rwanda Next Time?"
By Aaron Tesfaye
Pambazuka News (on, 6 October 2006
"[...] The Darfur insurrection, crisis, and genocide are grim reminders of the after-effects of colonialism and hastily cobbled, post-colonial states in Africa that cannot deliver political and economic goods to their people. In this kind of struggle between the modern African state and its plural societies over the command of power and resources, Darfur is not alone. In the east in 2005, centered in Port Sudan, capital of the Red Sea State, the Beja Congress recently went on strike, demanding more power and wealth sharing. In the south, while the Machako Agreement between the state and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) seems to be holding -- with the South having significant autonomy -- for all practical purposes the peace is tenuous, dependent partially on the politics of the region, especially of Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Uganda. As for Darfur, as the historian R.S. O'Fahay has noted, 'I believe Darfur's future lies with the Sudan -- I prefer with rather than in -- but it has to be with Sudan that is ruled very differently than the present Sudan.' How differently Sudan is ruled and how to constitutionally engineer and above all implement a new arrangement, including wealth sharing, that will augur peace and development is a challenge to all Sudanese and their friends in Africa and the world. Such a challenge begins with the acceptance of UN peacekeeping forces that will put a stop to the slaughter of the innocents."
[n.b. A good introductory overview, I think.]

"Sudan Gives UN 'Hostile Act' Warning"
By Evelyn Leopold
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 5 October 2006
"The United States on Thursday called emergency UN Security Council consultations after Sudan warned nations considering troops for Darfur that their action was a 'prelude to an invasion.' The letter from Sudan's mission to the UN was sent to dozens of states who attended a meeting on September 25 on potential troop contributions to a future UN force in Darfur, if the Khartoum government agrees, which it has not. 'Any volunteering to provide peacekeeping troops to Darfur will be considered as a hostile act, a prelude to an invasion of a member country of the UN,' the letter said. The meeting, diplomats said, would discuss how to respond to the Sudan letter. The letter said that Sudan 'fully supports' augmenting an African Union force now in Darfur but said again that Khartoum rejected a UN-run operation. The UN peacekeeping department organised a meeting to discuss troops for any future force in Darfur so the world body could move into Darfur as soon as Sudan agreed. Norway offered 250 logistics experts and together with Sweden, a battalion of engineers while Tanzania, Nigeria and Bangladesh pledged infantry soldiers. But the force, approved by the UN Security Council, is still on paper only, with its goal of 22 500 soldiers and police. Sudan's President, Omar Hassan Bashir, has refused to allow the UN to take over the AU operation. [...]"

"Sudan Murdering Its Citizens, Kristof Says"
By Ben Fornell
The Daily Iowan, 5 October 2006
"The government of Sudan is sponsoring the wholesale murder of its citizens in Darfur, and those who have never forgotten are in short supply. So said Nicholas Kristof, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist for the New York Times. He spoke to a nearly full auditorium in Macbride Hall on Wednesday about the terrorist teams and gang rapists called the Janjaweed, who are trying to eliminate the African farming tribes of rural Sudan. 'The best way to honor the victims of past genocide isn't to build memorials or offer classes on genocide,' Kristof said. 'But to look at what's going on in the world today, and that's why Darfur is so important.' He described an oasis in the desert of Darfur he visited on his first reporting trip to the country, where refugees from villages all over Sudan had gathered. As Kristof made his way through the crowd, he came to a pair of brothers, one who had been shot in the foot and had carried the other for 49 days to the oasis, moving only at night to avoid being killed by the Janjaweed. The next woman Kristof encountered had watched as her mother was shot by the Sudanese guerillas and then thrown into the village water supply to poison it. The woman was then gang raped, and her brother was executed in front of her. [...]"

"Renewed Fighting Forces 10,000 Darfuris to Flee"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 4 October 2006
"Fresh inter-rebel fighting has forced 10,000 Darfuris to seek refuge near a camp of African Union forces monitoring a widely ignored truce in Sudan's west, sources said on Wednesday. United Nations spokesperson Radhia Achouri said only two aid agencies were working in the Muhajiriya area and they were unable to cope with the strain of the new arrivals fleeing fighting in nearby Gereida in south Darfur. 'The humanitarian situation [is] alarming and requires immediate attention,' said one AU source who declined to be named. The source added pockets of rebel Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) soldiers were patrolling the town. Achouri said it was not clear which rebel groups were involved in the fighting. The towns of Muhajiriya and Gereida are controlled by the Minni Arcua Minnawi SLA faction, the only one of three negotiating rebel factions to sign a May peace deal with the government. ... The AU source added that in Gereida, at least two women were raped in recent days. The women were from the non-Arab Massaleit tribe. On Wednesday the Sudanese Organisation Against Torture reported one of Darfur's most volatile camps, Kalma Camp in South Darfur, was attacked by armed militia and two men from the non-Arab Fur tribe were killed and another injured. [...]"

"International Action"
By George Packer
The New Yorker, 2 October 2006
"[...] International intervention as a means of stopping mass slaughter has never had many supporters, other than an idealistic minority in the West and the desperate people in need of rescue. But in Kosovo and in East Timor in the late nineteen-nineties it had its moment. The results were decidedly mixed, but the worst was prevented or stopped. Intervention required an unlikely combination of propitious circumstances on the ground, political will in world capitals, and a kind of moral legitimacy that was able to override the self-serving objections of ethnically or economically interested parties. In Darfur, the circumstances are confused and complex, with the rebel groups turning on one another and much of the violence indistinguishable from banditry. After three years, Darfur is starting to look less like Rwanda and more like Congo, and no intervention will end the fighting by force. But there are steps that Washington could take to prevent Khartoum from allowing a new slaughter, of the two million civilians clustered in relief camps; for example, targeting the assets of Sudanese leaders, whose lifeblood, as John Prendergast, of the International Crisis Group, points out, flows from shell companies and fraudulent charities set up to siphon off the country's new oil wealth. It would require not only political will but diplomatic finesse for the U.S. to harness Europe, pressure China, and empower Africa to isolate Khartoum and undermine its support in the Arab world. The lack of such will is normal in a great power confronted with the suffering of people in faraway, unimportant regions; it is a recurring theme in twentieth-century American history. The collapse of moral legitimacy is more recent."

"Student Activists Rise Again -- This Time for Darfur"
By Matthew Clark
The Christian Science Monitor, 4 October 2006
"[...] The Darfur crisis has caught on with American activists in a way not seen since the anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s and early '90s. And the big surprise is: They're achieving results. In the past month alone: • The US appointed a special envoy to Darfur, bowing to pressure after an international day of protests -- including a rally of some 30,000 in New York's Central Park. • California passed legislation to stop investing in companies supporting the Sudan regime -- the fifth state to do so. More than two dozen colleges and universities are also in the process of divesting. 'The grass-roots people have really kept the issue alive and forced the hand of the governments,' says Alex de Waal, a fellow of the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University, who has been advising the African Union on Darfur. He says the UN Security Council's decision in March 2005 to refer Darfur war crimes cases to the International Criminal Court and the US move two years ago to label the conflict 'genocide' would not have happened without advocates' pressure. That pressure is building. Yesterday, student musicians from Berklee School of Music in Boston released a CD dedicated to the women of Darfur. Proceeds will benefit aid programs there run by Mercy Corps, an international humanitarian group. Last week, a coalition of Cincinnati-area religious, civic, and student groups held 'Five Days for Darfur,' a series of awareness-raising events. [...]"

"Hopes for Darfur Rest on African Force"
By Stephen Castlein
The Independent, 2 October 2006
"A beefed-up African peacekeeping force has emerged as the best hope of averting humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur after the Sudanese President defiantly brushed aside pressure to admit UN troops. In almost two hours of talks, Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, told the European Commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, that he feared his country would suffer the same fate as Iraq if UN soldiers were to intervene. Diplomats are now concentrating on proposals to strengthen a 7,000-strong African Union (AU) force already in Darfur. They believe Mr Bashir might allow the addition of some UN components providing there is no American involvement and that control remains in African hands. The search for a solution was given added urgency by warnings from the World Food Programme (WFP) that 155,000 people have not received food for four months because of an increase in violence. ... On the ground the AU force lacks equipment and has proved difficult to co-ordinate. Most soldiers do not speak Arabic and have struggled to engage with refugees in camps dotted around main settlements. Officers complain of having strict rules of engagement and say their mission was poorly prepared. [...]"

"EU Chief Tries a Gentler Approach to Get the UN into Darfur"
By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 2 October 2006
"The president of the European commission, José Manuel Barroso, told Sudan this weekend that Darfur needed a 'stronger and more effective' international presence but stopped short of insisting that only UN troops could prevent a further collapse of security. On the first visit by a major aid donor to Khartoum since Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, warned the UN security council last month that the country would not accept UN troops, Mr Barroso's tone was markedly more conciliatory than that of Washington or London. His public remarks made no mention of the contentious UN resolution 1706, which called on Sudan to accept UN troops. Although Mr Barroso insisted he was not 'mediating' between Sudan and the US, he repeatedly pointed out that Sudan had refused to agree to UN troops and that 'we need a political settlement.' George Bush has suggested that UN troops might invade Sudan if Mr Bashir goes on refusing to give them a green light. Tony Blair has offered a package of debt relief and a reduction of sanctions if Sudan accepts, but a tightening of the screw if Mr Bashir still says no. Mr Barroso's line was similar to that of the UN deputy secretary-general, Mark Malloch Brown, who said last week: 'The megaphone diplomacy coming out of Washington and London, "you damn well are going to let the UN deploy and if you don't, beware the consequences" isn't plausible. Tony Blair and George Bush need to get beyond this posturing and grandstanding.' [...]

"It Was Meant to Bring Peace. Instead, British-brokered Deal Has Rekindled War"
By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 30 September 2006
"[...] The main problem is that only one of the three opposition groups -- Minnawi's -- signed the deal, which was supposed to lead to the disarmament of the Janjaweed militia and the rebels and give Darfur a greater share of Sudan's surging oil wealth. Aid agency observers here say the united front of Fur and Zaghawa, which had fought the government for three years, was already splitting before the Darfur peace agreement was signed. Tribal clashes erupted as groups sought to increase their areas of control, though the clashes after the deal were worse. With bitter humour, the settlement of 20,000 people north of El Fasher is called As Salaam (Peace). Though the shelters are rudimentary, aid agencies worked fast to dig latrines and wells, and provide food and medical services. The attacks on the ground are now being matched by a furious struggle for hearts and minds in Darfur's dozens of camps for displaced people. Those in favour of the peace deal and those against are trying to control opinion by any means. ... These new fissures on the rebel side plus the split over whether to sign the peace deal have added new complexity to Darfur. The old template of an Arab versus African conflict that prompted thousands of people in the west to denounce genocide and ethnic cleansing now looks even less accurate. [...]"

"UN 'Must Drop' Darfur Peace Force"
BBC Online, 29 September 2006
"Top UN officials say the world body must abandon efforts to pressure Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers in Darfur. UN Sudan envoy Jan Pronk says the existing African Union force should instead be strengthened. Sudan has always argued that the AU should remain in charge of peacekeeping in Darfur, rather than the UN. ... The UN Security Council has approved sending a larger, better equipped UN peacekeeping force to protect civilians and guarantee the security of aid workers. But this was dependent on Sudan's approval, and Khartoum rejected the resolution. ... Mr. Pronk has meanwhile told the Associated Press news agency he does not expect Khartoum to accept UN peacekeepers any time soon. 'The international community should instead push for the African Union's mission to be prolonged and reinforced,' Mr. Pronk is quoted as saying. He said the AU force's mandate should be extended indefinitely to ensure relief continued to reach Darfur's refugees. Mr. Pronk is quoted as saying he was certain Khartoum would allow the AU force to stay on in Darfur. World leaders, he said, must guarantee more funds for the AU so it can carry out necessary peacekeeping work. 'Otherwise, we're shooting ourselves in the foot each time,' he said. 'Our first priority must be to help the people of Darfur.' [...]"

"The Book Was Closed Too Soon on Peace in Dafur"
By Alex de Waal
The Guardian, 29 September 2006
"There is still a chance to protect Darfur's civilians from a further round of violence, hunger and displacement, but only if government and rebels resume peace negotiations. This means stepping back from rhetorical confrontation and empty threats of military action. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir knows that US and British saber-rattling is moralistic hyperventilation, and he has called their bluff. Finding a solution hinges on a sober assessment of what is practical, not on making Darfur a guinea pig for 'the duty to protect' or a test case for a new global moral consciousness. ... The knock-down argument against humanitarian invasion is that it won't work. The idea of foreign troops fighting their way into Darfur and disarming the Janjaweed militia by force is sheer fantasy. Practicality dictates that a peacekeeping force in Darfur cannot enforce its will on any resisting armed groups without entering into a protracted and unwinnable counter-insurgency in which casualties are inevitable. The only way peacekeeping works is with consent: the agreement of the Sudan government and the support of the majority of the Darfurian populace, including the leaders of the multitudinous armed groups in the region. Without this, UN troops will not only fail but will make the plight of Darfurians even worse. Over the past two decades we have learned enough about both peacekeeping and ending African civil wars to know that there is a workable alternative to philanthropic imperialism. They're called peace talks. [...]"
[n.b. "Alex de Waal is the author, with Julie Flint, of Darfur: A Short History of a Long War; he was an adviser to the African Union mediation for the conflict in Darfur."]


"In Thailand, a New Model for Militants?"
By John M. Glionna
The Los Angeles Times, 1 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] Since 2004, militants in Thailand's predominantly Muslim south have waged a bloody separatist insurgency against the cultural elite of this largely Buddhist nation, targeting teachers, monks, community leaders and government officials. So far, 1,700 people have been killed, yet the campaign of almost-daily bombings, arson attacks, kidnappings and assassinations has gone largely unnoticed in a Western world fixated on higher-profile Islamic terrorism campaigns in Iraq and elsewhere. 'The violence in southern Thailand is quite significant compared to many other world conflicts today,' said Panitan Wattanayagorn, a political scientist at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. 'The U.S. lost 3,000 soldiers in three years in Iraq. This death toll is not far behind.' International terrorism experts are keeping a close eye on southern Thailand's guerrilla war, believing that the attacks could become a blueprint for small insurgencies in the post9/11 world. The strategy of incessant low-level attacks against civilians could be imitated by other regional militants, they say. Experts also fear that the insurgents could soon be joined by international terrorists slipping across Thailand's porous borders, bringing money, expertise and manpower. 'It's important that this regional war not escalate,' said John Brandon, director of the Asia Foundation's international relations program. 'The world cannot afford this war to become ripe for outside terror influences to take advantage of it.' A recent State Department report concluded that there was no evidence of any connection between the militants and global terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda or Jemaah Islamiah, based in Southeast Asia. 'There is concern, however, that these groups may attempt to capitalize on an increasingly violent situation for their own purposes,' the report stated. [...]"


"Justice for A Genocide, in Book Form"
By John Dolan, 30 September 2006
"One of the great mysteries of the 20th century was the way Britain got away with pillaging nearly every country on the planet without suffering any retribution. I've spent a long, bitter time brooding over this experimental proof that there's no such thing as karma. Among the reasons I've found for this failure to prosecute are the reluctance of the raped to report their sufferings, the stupidity and credulity of American scholars vis-a-vis their Oxbridge colleagues, and the charmed life that seems to reward those individuals and nations lucky enough to lack any vestige of conscience. But there are simpler reasons, bravely revealed in Caroline Elkins's account of the slaughter of some 300,000 ethnic Kikuyu of Kenya, the torture of hundreds of thousands more, and the internment of the entire Kikuyu population, in mid-20th-century Kenya. As Elkins reveals [in Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya (Henry Holt and Co, 2006)], the Brits simply destroyed every record of the massacres they could find, and -- unlike the French, Germans or other conscience-harried colonials -- kept the settlers' oath of Omerta, never revealing what they did to the 'Kukes' to anyone except other vets whose anecdotes were as bloody and full of blame as theirs. The difference between the British Empire and other fascist empires is not that these guys were nicer. Nobody who reads this book could continue to believe that, if they were fool enough to believe it beforehand. The difference is that the Brits were good at it, and had no conscience to trouble them. Thanks to that careful incineration of records and highly adaptive national sociopathic disorder, '... there would be no soul-searching or public accounting [in Britain] for the crimes perpetrated against the hundreds of thousands of men and women in Kenya.' [...]"


"The Century of Drought"
By Michael McCarthy
The Independent, 4 October 2006
"Drought threatening the lives of millions will spread across half the land surface of the Earth in the coming century because of global warming, according to new predictions from Britain's leading climate scientists. Extreme drought, in which agriculture is in effect impossible, will affect about a third of the planet, according to the study from the Met Office's Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research. It is one of the most dire forecasts so far of the potential effects of rising temperatures around the world -- yet it may be an underestimation, the scientists involved said yesterday. The findings, released at the Climate Clinic at the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, drew astonished and dismayed reactions from aid agencies and development specialists, who fear that the poor of developing countries will be worst hit. 'This is genuinely terrifying,' said Andrew Pendleton of Christian Aid. 'It is a death sentence for many millions of people. It will mean migration off the land at levels we have not seen before, and at levels poor countries cannot cope with.' One of Britain's leading experts on the effects of climate change on the developing countries, Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation, said: 'There's almost no aspect of life in the developing countries that these predictions don't undermine -- the ability to grow food, the ability to have a safe sanitation system, the availability of water. For hundreds of millions of people for whom getting through the day is already a struggle, this is going to push them over the precipice.' [...]"

"Global Sludge Ends in Tragedy for Ivory Coast"
By Lydia Polgreen and Marlise Simons
The New York Times, 2 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] How that slick, a highly toxic cocktail of petrochemical waste and caustic soda, ended up in Mr. Oudrawogol's backyard in a suburb north of Abidjan is a dark tale of globalization. It came from a Greek-owned tanker flying a Panamanian flag and leased by the London branch of a Swiss trading corporation whose fiscal headquarters are in the Netherlands. Safe disposal in Europe would have cost about $300,000, or even twice that, counting the cost of delays. But because of decisions and actions made not only here but also in Europe, it was dumped on the doorstep of some of the world's poorest people. So far eight people have died, dozens have been hospitalized and 85,000 have sought medical attention, paralyzing the fragile health care system in a country divided and impoverished by civil war, and the crisis has forced a government shakeup. 'In 30 years of doing this kind of work I have never seen anything like this,' said Jean-Loup Quéru, an engineer with a French cleanup company brought in by the Ivorian government to remove the waste. 'This kind of industrial waste, dumped in this urban setting, in the middle of the city, never.' ... Greenpeace has filed criminal complaints in Amsterdam against Trafigura, Amsterdam Port Services and the Dutch environmental authorities. The Dutch government said it could not comment while criminal investigations were under way. There are no fewer than five investigations going on in Ivory Coast. [...]"


"Hot Docs: The Anatomy of Evil"
The West Australian, 3 October 2006
"What makes an ordinary person commit mass murder during war? And after the genocide, how does he return to everyday life with hundreds of killings on his conscience? These questions are asked in a confronting new documentary, The Anatomy Of Evil, which premieres in Hot Docs on SBS Television tonight at 10.00pm. The fifth feature-length documentary from acclaimed Danish director Ove Nyholm, The Anatomy of Evil probes the thinking and the emotions played out during war. Nyholm, who specialises in films with scientific or political content, researched human evil and sought answers about the motivation behind mass slaughter committed during two conflicts, World War II and the 1990s Balkans War. Speaking anonymously to Nyholm, some of the world's bloodiest executioners talk candidly and without remorse about their deeds: a member of Serbia's special police tells how they opened fire on a house full of people. 'Afterwards we got drunk, and that was that.' A Serbian paramilitary says he would go crazy if he tried to recall every murder. A German former teacher explains how, as a commander with the so-called Einsatz Groups, he executed people most efficiently: women were forced to hold their children against their chest so two people could be killed with a single bullet. Members of the four Einsatz Groups were dispatched to penetrate the Eastern Front and 'cleanse' the area. They killed more than two million Jews, Gypsies and communists over two years. His justification for the killing: orders are orders. [...]"


"UN Prosecutor: Key War Crime Suspects Could Evade Justice"
Associated Press dispatch on, 6 October 2006
"The chief prosecutor of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal warned on Friday that the key suspects in Balkan war atrocities could escape justice if the international community does not continue to support her court. The U.N. tribunal is being pressured by the U.N. Security Council to wrap up all trials by 2008 and finish work on appeals two years later, but with six major suspects -- including wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and military chief Gen. Ratko Mladic -- still on the run, it seems certain some trials will last beyond those dates if they start at all. Speaking at a meeting of international war crimes prosecutors in The Hague, Carla Del Ponte said a plan is urgently needed to ensure that trials can continue. More than two dozen people are on trial at the tribunal in cases expected to last months, if not years. She said political pressure to wrap up proceedings is likely to make way for financial pressure next year. The U.N. funds the court and can cut back its multimillion dollar budget, possibly instead urging member states to make voluntary contributions outside the U.N. budget to keep the court running. 'The completion strategy was never intended to foster impunity for those accused of genocide and other most serious crimes,' she said. 'If we do not devise today substantial measures for the task of the ICTY to be completed, this is exactly what will happen,' she added. 'I trust the international community cannot tolerate such a blatant breach of its principles and commitments. The victims of the Balkan wars do not deserve to be betrayed once more.' [...]"


"Only Way to the Truth -- Torture Hastert"
By Tom D'Antoni
The Huffington Post, 4 October 2006
"Is there anything worse, in the minds of most Americans than being a sexual predator to underage kids? Why it's right up there with rape and murder. Finding out who in Congress knew about [ex-Congressman Mark] Foley, when did they know it, and why didn't they do anything about it is as important to the nation as finding out who was behind 9/11. Are our children worth less? There's only one way to get this information. Send Foley, Hastert, Boehner, and the rest of them to Guantanamo and torture the information out of them. I mean, that's this administration's policy, isn't it? Why restrict it to Muslims? Why not just expand it to all involved in anti-social activities, especially one as serious as this. That we'd have to build a double-wide waterboard for Hastert is beside the point. Habeas Corpus? Pfaff! If President Bush can waive it for Muslims, he can waive it for those who prey on our children, right? It's the policy of the administration that Bush has the power to choose whom to torture. It's only logical thing to do, and the only way to get the truth out of these Republican Congressional leaders. Living by the sword makes for tough payback."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Canadian Police Official Apologizes for Mistakes"
By Doug Struck
The Washington Post, 29 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Canada's top Mountie apologized Thursday for the 'terrible injustices' done to a Canadian Muslim spirited to Syria and tortured for 10 months on false suspicions of terrorist ties. Critics of the government demanded that the prime minister offer his own apology. Giuliano Zaccardelli, commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, directed his remarks to Maher Arar, 36, who four years ago was detained at a New York airport and delivered to a Syrian prison by U.S. agents. Those agents were working on false information given to them by Canada. 'Mr. Arar, I wish to take this opportunity to express publicly to you and to your wife and to your children how truly sorry I am' for RCMP actions that led to 'the terrible injustices that you experienced and the pain that you and your family endured,' Zaccardelli said, testifying before a parliamentary committee. The remarks on the Arar case were Zaccardelli's first since a judicial inquiry on the controversy was released Sept. 18. The inquiry found that RCMP agents had given exaggerated and often flat-out false reports to U.S. intelligence agents, suggesting that Arar had terrorist connections and was the subject of a terrorist investigation. In fact, the exhaustive inquiry found, he was an innocent computer programmer. The United States sent Arar to Syria as part of its 'extraordinary rendition' program, in which terrorist suspects are secretly dispatched to other countries, some of which are known to torture prisoners and practice brutal interrogation methods. U.S. officials have not acknowledged Arar's innocence or any wrongdoing on their part. Political critics excoriated Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Thursday for balking at extending the same apology made by the RCMP commissioner. The House of Commons unanimously voted last week that 'apologies should be presented' to Arar. But Harper's government has said any such formal expression from the government must be part of a negotiated settlement to compensate the father of two children, ages 9 and 4. [...]"
[n.b. That is a meaningful apology from Mr. Zaccardelli. Now where is Mr. Harper?]

"Rushing Off a Cliff"
The New York Times (Editorial) (on, 28 September 2006
"Here's what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans' fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws -- while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser. ... Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error. ... They'll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation's version of the Alien and Sedition Acts."
[n.b. "A tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy" -- that just about covers it.]

"This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like"
By David Corn, 28 September 2006
"[...] In an email to me, Blank explained the significance of the photos. He wrote: 'The crux of the issue before Congress can be boiled down to a simple question: Is waterboarding torture? Anybody who considers this practice to be "torture lite" or merely a "tough technique" might want to take a trip to Phnom Penh. The Khymer Rouge were adept at torture, and there was nothing "lite" about their methods. Incidentally, the waterboard in these photo wasn't merely one among many torture devices highlighted at the prison museum. It was one of only two devices singled out for highlighting (the other was another form of water-torture -- a tank that could be filled with water or other liquids; I have photos of that too.) There was an outdoor device as well, one the Khymer Rouge didn't have to construct: chin-up bars. (The prison where the museum is located had been a school before the Khymer Rouge took over). These bars were used for "stress positions" -- another practice employed under current US guidelines. At the Khymer Rouge prison, there is a tank of water next to the bars. It was used to revive prisoners for more torture when they passed out after being placed in stress positions. The similarity between practices used by the Khymer Rouge [sic] and those currently being debated by Congress isn't a coincidence. [...]"

"Molly Ivins: Habeas Corpus, R.I.P. (1215 - 2006)"
By Molly Ivins, 27 September 2006
"[...] The bill simply removes a suspect's right to challenge his detention in court. This is a rule of law that goes back to the Magna Carta in 1215. That pretty much leaves the barn door open. As Vladimir Bukovsky, the Soviet dissident, wrote, an intelligence service free to torture soon 'degenerates into a playground for sadists.' But not unbridled sadism -- you will be relieved that the compromise took out the words permitting interrogation involving 'severe pain' and substituted 'serious pain,' which is defined as 'bodily injury that involves extreme physical pain.' In July 2003, George Bush said in a speech: 'The United States is committed to worldwide elimination of torture, and we are leading this fight by example. Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right. Yet torture continues to be practiced around the world by rogue regimes, whose cruel methods match their determination to crush the human spirit.' Fellow citizens, this bill throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems it necessary -- these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law. I'd like those supporting this evil bill to spare me one affliction: Do not, please, pretend to be shocked by the consequences of this legislation. And do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis."

NOW AVAILABLE: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones (Routledge, 2006; 430 pp., US $33.95 pbk). See "The best introductory text available to students of genocide studies ... likely to become the gold standard by which all subsequent introductions to this enormously important subject will be measured" (Kenneth J. Campbell).

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