Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
November 1-8, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to

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"'Dirty War' Victim Again Missing"
By Patrick J. McDonnell
The Los Angeles Times, 6 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"Jorge Julio Lopez has become known as the man who was disappeared twice. The first time was in 1976, during the dark days of Argentina's military dictatorship, when he was a labor activist. Lopez survived the beatings, humiliations and electric shock, and was released after three years, apparently judged not a threat. He went on with his life, reared two children and seldom spoke about the ordeal. Lopez vanished for the second time in September, after he gave crucial testimony in a case that helped seal the conviction of his chief torturer, a former police commander with a sadistic streak. The 78-year-old retired construction worker was last seen on a street near his home in La Plata, a city southeast of Buenos Aires, on Sept. 18. The following day, a three-judge panel sentenced the former police official to life in prison, branding the abuses in the country's 'dirty war' against dissenters a genocide, the first such official finding here. This time, Lopez's fate remains a mystery. As the first desaparecido since democracy returned to Argentina almost a quarter of a century ago, Lopez is the focus of a massive manhunt. His case has become a national cause celebre and sinister whodunit, while posing a direct challenge to a government that has aggressively tracked down the now-graying abusers from the dark days of the junta. In a nation where memory remains a battlefield and conspiracy theories flourish, many suspect the worst: that operatives loyal to the disgraced generals grabbed Lopez in retaliation for his damaging testimony, and as a warning to others inclined to come forward in other long-delayed trials. [...]"


"Dead Reckoning: The Armenian Genocide and the Politics of Silence"
By Elizabeth Kolbert
The New Yorker, 6 November 2006
"[...] Turkey has long sought to join the European Union, and, while a history of genocide is clearly no barrier to membership, denying it may be; several European governments have indicated that they will oppose the country's bid unless it acknowledges the crimes committed against the Armenians. Are the Turks really willing to risk their country's economic future merely in order to hide -- or pretend to hide -- an ugly fact about its origins? To believe this seems to require a view of Turkish ethnic pride that gets dangerously close to a national stereotype. In fact, many Turkish nationalists oppose E.U. membership; from their perspective, denying the Armenian genocide serves an eminently practical political purpose. That being said, [Taner] Akcam clearly has a point, and one that Americans, in particular, ought to be able to appreciate. Before the arrival of the first Europeans, there were, it is estimated, at least forty million indigenous people living in the Americas; by 1650, fewer than ten million were left. The decline was the result of casual cruelty on the one hand -- diseases unwittingly spread -- and systematic slaughter on the other. Every November, when American schoolchildren are taught about Thanksgiving, they are insistently told the story of how the Pilgrims, in their gratitude, entertained the kindly Wampanoag. We now know that the comity of that original Thanksgiving was entirely atypical, and that, by 1621, the Wampanoag were already a dying nation. While it was cowardly of Congress to pull H.R. 596, passing it would, in its own way, also have been problematic. We may side with the Armenians, but, historically speaking, we probably have more in common with the Turks."
[n.b. This long feature article is built around a review of Taner Akcam's new book, "A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility."]

"Mass Burial of Possible Armenian Genocide Victims Discovered in Turkey", 4 November 2006
"Turkish Gendarmerie has instructed local villagers of a southeastern region to keep silence about a mass grave, discovered on October 17, that might contain remains of Armenian Genocide victims. According to a Kurdish newspaper published in Turkish Ulkede Ozgur Gundem, villagers from Xirabebaba (Kuru) were digging a grave for one of their relatives when they came across to a cave full of skulls and bones of reportedly 40 people. The Xirabebaba residents assumed they had uncovered a mass grave of 300 Armenian villagers massacred during the Genocide of 1915. They informed Akarsu Gendarmerie headquarters, the
local military unit, about the discovered remains. Turkish army officers, according to the Kurdish newspaper, instructed the villagers to block the cave entrance and make no mention of the remains buried in it. The officers said an investigation would take place. The newspaper reported on the developments and the Turkish military's attempt to hide the news. Journalists, who had arrived to obtain more information, were denied access to the cave. As the mass burial made news, local Gendarmerie made another visit to the villagers. The latter were pressed to report the name of the person who leaked the mass burial discovery to the press. The villagers were warned not to show anyone directions to the cave. The victims of the mass grave, according to Sodertorn University History Professor David Gaunt, are most likely the 150 Armenian and 120 Assyrian males from the nearby town of Dara (now Oguz) killed on June 14, 1915, reports Asbarez."
[n.b. Forwarded by email (thanks to Thea Halo) -- no link supplied. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Annan Warns of Another War between Ethiopia and Eritrea"
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, 31 October 2006
"The UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, has warned that the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which claimed 70,000 lives between 1998 and 2000, could soon reignite unless the two countries are persuaded to talk. Describing the impasse as a 'classic example of the tragedy' of Africa, Mr. Annan said the UN had been unable to persuade the neighbours to cooperate and called for more world attention on the region. Tensions in the Horn of Africa have risen sharply in recent weeks with accusations that Eritrea has sent troops into the border buffer zone, and the two countries have taken active positions on opposite sides in a looming conflict in Somalia. 'We need to handle it [the situation] very carefully before it leads to another explosion,' Mr. Annan said in a speech at Georgetown University in the US last night. The war originally erupted over a border dispute. After signing a ceasefire in 2000, both countries agreed to abide by the decision of an independent panel on the location of their mutual border. Thousands of UN troops were sent to patrol the frontier until demarcation occurred. But Ethiopia's prime minister, Meles Zenawi, has refused to accept the panel's decision. The president of Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki, who assisted Mr Meles in toppling the Marxist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, maintains there is no ground for negotiation. He has accused the international community, and the US in particular, of siding with Ethiopia. [...]"


"France to Declassify Rwanda Files"
BBC Online, 2 November 2006
"France says it will release classified documents on the Rwandan genocide, after claims that French troops were complicit in the 1994 massacre. Some 105 documents will be given to a magistrate investigating the claims by four genocide survivors. Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie took the decision on the recommendation of France's defence secrets commission. The plaintiffs accuse soldiers of rape, murder and complicity 'in genocide and/or crimes against humanity.' The Rwandan Tutsis, aged between 25 and 39, have brought their case against the French military in the French courts. During the genocide some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists. French troops were sent to Rwanda as part of a United Nations force. Rwanda has repeatedly accused Paris of complicity in the genocide. France has denied any role. The four survivors say French troops committed crimes themselves, and also let Hutu killers enter refugee camps under their protection. An inquiry began last month in Rwanda into alleged French complicity in training and arming the Hutu extremists. After hearing testimony from witnesses, the Rwandan panel will rule on whether to file a suit at the International Court of Justice."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Suspects in Guatemalan Genocide Arrested", 7 November 2006
"In an unprecedented move, Guatemalan authorities arrested earlier today at least two of the eight named defendants in the Guatemalan Genocide Case that is pending before the Spanish National Court (SNC). Guatemalan Judge Morelia Rios, President of Criminal Sentencing Court No. 5, courageously authorized the arrests in response to the international arrest warrants issued earlier this year by Spanish judge Santiago Pedraz. Attorneys with the San Francisco-based Center for Justice & Accountability (CJA) represent victims of the Guatemalan genocide and applaud the arrests. Former Ministry of Defense Ángel Aníbal Guevara Rodriguez and former Director of the National Police Colonel German Chupina Barahona were taken into police custody earlier today. Also, police have secured the area around the home of former president General Oscar Humberto Mejias Victores, but he appears to be on the run. They each will face extradition to Spain. Judge Rios has authorized the arrests of the other individuals named in the Spanish arrest orders with the exception of former dictator Efraín Rios Montt. CJA International Attorney Almudena Bernabeu explains, 'We are extremely encouraged by the news of these historical arrests made today in Guatemala. These men have blood on their hands from the tens of thousands who died in the Guatemalan genocide of the 1980s. We hope that Rios Montt will also be brought into custody as soon as possible and we are inquiring as to why his arrest has not yet been ordered.' The other defendants named on the arrest warrants are former President Romeo Lucas Garcia, former Minister of Interior Donaldo Álvarez Ruiz, former Police Commander Pedro Garcia Arredondo, and former Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff Benedicto Lucas Garcia. [...]"
[n.b. This is potentially massive news.]


"More Anger as Holocaust Cartoon Winners Unveiled"
Reuters dispatch in The Sydney Morning Herald, 3 November 2006
"A Moroccan has won first prize in Iran's International Holocaust Cartoons Contest, which sparked widespread condemnation when it was announced last February. Iran's best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, launched a competition to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis. The contest was a retaliation for last year's publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in Danish and other European newspapers that angered Muslims worldwide. Presenting a prize to a representative of the Moroccan cartoonist, Abdellah Derkaoui, the Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister, Mohammad Hossein Saffar-Harandi, praised Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a myth. Derkaoui's cartoon shows a crane with a Star of David sign, putting up blocks to make a wall separating the Muslim shrine, the Dome of the Rock, from Jerusalem. The wall has a gate, shown in the distance, that looks like one at the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, where Jews were incarcerated and killed. 'The taboo is broken,' the minister said. 'People should not think that by questioning the Holocaust they are committing a crime.' The cartoonist won $US12,000 ($15,500). Masoud Shojai-Tabatabai, head of the Cartoon House, which helped organise the exhibition of entries, said the Government was not financing the prizes but did not say who was. [...]"


"Saddam Back in Court to Face Genocide Claims"
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 7 November 2006
"Saddam Hussein today returned to court for the first time since he was sentenced to hang for crimes against humanity. The deposed dictator, sentenced two days ago, was appearing at a hearing of another trial, in which he faces charges of genocide. Wearing a black suit and white shirt, he made his way quietly to his seat among the other six defendants, showing none of the bravado of two days ago, when he shouted: 'Long live the people and death to their enemies.' All are charged in connection with the Operation Anfal crackdown against Iraqi Kurds in the late 80s. More than 180,000 people are said to have died in the operation. The chief judge convened the session and called the first witness, Qahar Khalil Mohammed. On Sunday, another five-judge panel convicted Saddam over the deaths of nearly 150 Shia Muslims following a 1982 assassination attempt against him in the town of Dujail. Along with two others, he was sentenced to death by hanging. Four co-defendants received lesser sentences, and one was acquitted. The Dujail case is subject to appeal, and the Anfal trial will continue while the appeal is under way. [...]"

"This Was a Guilty Verdict on America As Well"
By Robert Fisk
The Independent, 6 November 2006
"So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas -- along with the British, of course -- yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another 'great day for Iraq.' ... Now we are to give the Iraqi people bread and circuses, the final hanging of Saddam, twisting, twisting slowly in the wind. We have won. We have inflicted justice upon the man whose country we invaded and eviscerated and caused to break apart. No, there is no sympathy for this man. 'President Saddam Hussein has no fear of being executed,' Bouchra Khalil, a Lebanese lawyer on his team, said in Beirut a few days ago. 'He will not come out of prison to count his days and years in exile in Qatar or any other place. He will come out of prison to go to the presidency or to his grave.' It looks like the grave. Keitel went there. Ceausescu went there. Milosevic escaped sentence. The odd thing is that Iraq is now swamped with mass murderers, guilty of rape and massacre and throat-slitting and torture in the years since our 'liberation' of Iraq. Many of them work for the Iraqi government we are currently supporting, democratically elected, of course. And these war criminals, in some cases, are paid by us, through the ministries we set up under this democratic government. And they will not be tried. Or hanged. That is the extent of our cynicism. And our shame. Have ever justice and hypocrisy been so obscenely joined?"


"Victims of Hitler's Plan for a Master Race"
By Jess Smee
The Guardian, 6 November 2006
"Blond hair, blue eyes: the Third Reich's sinister plan to boost the 'master race' has left behind an emotionally charged legacy that lingers to this day. The Lebensborn Kinder -- a long hushed-up aspect of Nazi history -- were born in special maternity homes, places where mostly unmarried women and the wives of SS men gave birth to children with 'good Aryan' blood. Now in their 60s, a group of these children met this weekend in the eastern German town of Wernigerode, telling their stories in the hope of quelling the taboos and flamboyant myths about the murky Nazi institutions. ... For decades after the second world war a climate of shame suppressed discussion of the social impact of the Third Reich. That meant that many Lebensborn children only recently discovered their roots -- especially those who grew up in the former communist east. Among those, some were astounded to read about their background in their Stasi secret service files, which were made public after the reunification of Germany in 1990. The children represented a traumatic chapter in 20th century history and were often shunned by society. Kikki Skjermo, a lively woman who travelled here from Norway, described being stigmatised as a 'Nazi child' during her childhood in a Norwegian children's home. When she later found her own mother she also met a wall of coldness. 'She only touched me once, gently on the nose. I can remember that day so clearly,' Kikki said. The weekend meeting of the group called Lebensspuren (traces of life), is full of similarly painful stories. Since its creation four years ago, its members swap stories about tracing relatives and dealing with rejection and lies. There is the odd happy tale of reunited families, but for many it has been a battle against taboos and misinformation. [...]"


"Kosovo May Soon Be Free of Serbia, But Not of Supervision"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 2 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"In the next few months, Kosovo is likely to win independence from Serbia, concluding a titanic struggle by the United Nations and Western governments to close a chapter that began with ethnic warfare there. The U.N. mission in Pristina is to be replaced by a European one. But it is unlikely to be the conclusion Western governments hoped for, after investing seven years supervising the province at an estimated cost of $1.3 billion a year. It is increasingly evident that the international authorities will need to retain far greater responsibility in Kosovo than they wanted to. The Kosovo Albanians, the province’s majority population, who demand independence, and the government of Serbia have failed to reach an agreement in nine months of negotiations. The Serbs have refused to recognize government institutions dominated by the Albanians in what has been a territory dear to Serbian religious and cultural heritage. The negotiations are dragging on, raising the likelihood that a solution will be imposed, ending a process that began 15 years ago with the breakup of Yugoslavia, which led to wars in Croatia, Bosnia and finally Kosovo. [...]"


"In a Calm Corner of Darfur, Villagers Rebuild Ties"
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, 8 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] Much of Darfur, a vast swath of territory in western Sudan, is still a battlefield, with vicious fighting between the Sudanese government and rebel forces, and masses of people fleeing their villages each day. But there are other parts, lesser known, where people are heading the other way, going home. It is a journey that is also difficult, with homecomings that may prove to be short-lived. ... A vast majority of those who are returning are farmers, the primary victims of the bloodshed in Darfur. In this part of the world, lifestyle and ethnicity are closely connected, with most farmers belonging to non-Arab tribes, while most nomads consider themselves full-blooded Arabs. The conflict has pitted these two groups against each other, though it wasn't always like that. Not so long ago, in the village of Wastani, near Artala, nomadic women and women from farms would meet in the fields halfway between their homes and share little glasses of tea. The nomads, who herded camels and cows, would bring meat, and the farmers would bring grain, and they would trade with one another in a fragile tapestry of interdependence between two peoples surviving off the same slice of dry, unforgiving land. ... But then war came. Nomadic gunmen on horses -- some of whom the farmers recognized, some they did not -- raided Wastani in 2003, burning huts and shooting people in the chest. It was a nightmare that recurred countless times across Darfur, an area the size of France. But now, for the first time since then, Wastani’s farmers are moving back, and the nomads are trying to make amends. [...]"

"Controls Tighten on Media and Aid Workers in Darfur"
By Opheera McDoom
Reuters dispatch, 8 November 2006
"Sudan has tightened restrictions on aid workers and journalists travelling to Darfur, and analysts say the aim is to conceal renewed hostilities between rebels and the army. Journalists have been detained, aid workers obstructed and rules changed weekly for foreigners in the strifetorn region. A British Sunday Times reporter this week was detained on arrival at the main airport, initially on the grounds she was wearing a cap belonging to a different news organisation. Then her passport was seized over alleged irregularities. She is just one example. 'Definitely there's been a massive crackdown in the last few months,' said Leslie Lefkow of Human Rights Watch. 'It's the same old pattern of the government in trying to restrict the flow of information. They've managed to conduct a massive media campaign that is subverting the reality of what's happening in Darfur.' She said the two main targets were journalists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Darfur has the world's largest aid operation, with 14,000 aid workers supplying humanitarian help to miserable camps in the region. The stakes are high. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million displaced in fighting since mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in Darfur in 2003. [...]"

"Darfur 'Genocide Crosses to Chad'"
BBC Online, 7 November 2006
"Chad's government has accused Sudan of 'exporting the genocide' in Darfur across the border. It says there have been 'numerous victims' of recent clashes between Arabs and non-Arab groups just across the border from Darfur. Earlier, a minister said that more than 100 people had been killed in separate clashes in south-eastern Chad. Eastern Chad and Darfur have a similar ethnic make-up and the two governments have swapped charges of backing rebels. Chad's government called for UN peacekeepers to be deployed along the border area. 'There is a genocide overflowing from Sudan's region of Darfur,' it said about the clashes in the Dar Sila area. Earlier, National Administration Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said several villages had been burned in last week's violence in Salamat. He said Arabs had organised attacks on local Kibet villages but that the situation was now under control. There has been an ongoing dispute between the Arab and the Kibet communities over land issues and water resources. [...]"

"Darfur Militias 'Kill Children'"
BBC Online, 3 November 2006
"Militias backing Sudan's government have killed at least 63 people in attacks in Darfur in the past week, African peacekeepers say. At least 27 of the victims are thought to be children under the age of 12. The attacks were on camps for the displaced in the rebel stronghold of Jebel Moon, in West Darfur. The government says it is disarming the Janjaweed militia but a BBC correspondent in Sudan says all the evidence points to the exact opposite. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the Sudanese government to restrain the militias following the attacks. Militia wearing government uniforms, on camels and horseback, swept into eight villages and camps in Jebel Moon on 29 October. The African Union (AU) investigation team has just returned from the area to make its report. The area is a stronghold of the National Redemption Front (NRF) alliance, one of the Darfur rebel group which refused to sign up to a peace deal in May. [...]"


"UN Calls for Cluster Bomb Freeze"
By Richard Beeston
The Times, 8 November 2006
"The United Nations called yesterday for an immediate worldwide freeze on cluster bombs, adding its weight to a growing campaign to ban the munitions blamed for the death and injury of scores of civilians during this summer’s war in Lebanon. Jan Egeland, the UN's head of humanitarian affairs, said that the moratorium should be imposed until the use of the weapons could be curbed under international treaty. 'As long as there is no effective ban, these weapons will continue to affect civilians disproportionately, maiming and killing women, children and other vulnerable groups.' Cluster bombs consist of one large shell containing dozens of bomblets that can be dropped over an area the size of a football pitch. The bomblets often fail to explode on impact and detonate later, usually harming civilians -- especially children who mistake the tiny, brightly coloured canisters for toys. The dangers of the bombs were highlighted this summer when Israel dropped an estimated one million on southern Lebanon, killing 20 people and leaving unexploded bombs scattered across villages and agricultural land. On Monday the International Committee of the Red Cross called for countries to stop using the bombs and to begin destroying stockpiles. It wants their use restricted under the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, which is under review this week in Geneva. The move was resisted yesterday by the US, Britain, Russia and other countries that continue to keep cluster munitions in their armouries. [...]"


"Holocaust Questioner Goes on Trial in France"
Associated Press dispatch in The Star-Ledger, 8 November 2006
"A French far-right leader and member of the European Parliament went on trial yesterday over remarks in which he questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. Bruno Gollnisch, the No. 2 in France's National Front party, is accused of 'disputing a crime against humanity' in the trial in Lyon in southeast France. A verdict is expected today. He faces up to one year in prison if convicted. The trial had been postponed three times over the past year over procedural issues. Gollnisch also is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the anti-racism group MRAP. At an October 2004 news conference, Gollnisch questioned whether the Nazis used gas chambers in the Holocaust and suggested that the number of Jews killed during World War II might have been exaggerated. Gollnisch's comments sparked uproar among Jewish and anti-racism groups, and he was suspended by Jean Moulin University in Lyon, where he taught law and Japanese, for five years over the remarks. The European Union assembly stripped Gollnisch of his legislative immunity from prosecution. Gollnisch has said he is a victim of a 'witch hunt' in the case."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"The Folly of Jailing Genocide Deniers"
By Garin K. Hovannisian
The Christian Science Monitor, 6 November 2006
"[...] Hilda Tchoboian, president of the European Armenian Federation, welcomed this 'historic step,' noting that 'the hydra of denial is a tumor on freedom of expression,' which proved that you can mix metaphors and talk nonsense in the span of five nouns. Genocide denial might be a tumor on truth, memory, or even human dignity, but it's not even a pimple on the freedom of expression. It's an exercise -- however false or disgusting -- of that freedom, which Ms. Tchoboian wants to ration. A government that has the power to punish lies also has the power to punish truth (consider Turkey's law that punishes those who denigrate 'Turkishness') and, really, to punish anything it pleases. This was the terrible lesson of the 20th century, fleshed out in millions upon millions of carcasses across Joseph Stalin's gulags, Adolf Hitler's concentration camps, Pol Pot's killing fields, and Mao Zedong's torture chambers. Indeed, this was the lesson of the Armenian genocide, which was perpetrated by a regime that tried to build one people, one religion, and -- most important -- one idea, 'Ottomanization,' on the rubble of human rights. That lesson, sadly, is lost on some French parliamentarians and the Armenian diaspora, whose notion of politics ends where the genocide begins. [...]"


"UN Reforms Peacekeeping and Genocide Prevention Guidelines"
By Andre de Nesnera
Voice of America, 6 November 2006
"[...] Experts say U.N. members also agreed on an important principle: to intervene in cases of genocide or ethnic cleansing. That principle is known as the responsibility to protect. And Nancy Soderberg, former alternate U.S. representative to the United Nations (1997-2001) says that is a revolutionary idea. 'The U.N. is founded on the basis of sovereignty, meaning that each country is responsible for its own affairs, and no country has a right to intervene in the internal affairs of another member. And that's enshrined in the [U.N.] charter, and it is very much how the U.N. drives. After the debacle of Bosnia, and, particularly, the genocide in Rwanda, the secretary-general said, "we need to think again about what responsibility the international community has when things like this happen." And, he pulled together the brightest minds in the world, and they came up with this new theory, which is the "responsibility to protect" -- which says, when a state is either unwilling or unable to protect its population, the issue of sovereignty yields to the responsibility of the international community to protect them,' she said. Analysts say, while the doctrine of the responsibility to protect has been accepted by the United Nations, the key issue is how do you implement it? Michael Doyle was an adviser to outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He said, 'So, at the level of principle or doctrine, this is a good step forward. At the level of practice, the jury is still out.' [...]"


"The Genocide Election"
By Dr. Peter Rost, 6 November 2006
"[...] According to the International Herald Tribune, the White House is pushing bilateral and regional trade agreements in which poor countries are forced to enact 'superpatents' that prolong U.S. drug makers' monopolies and limit the circumstances under which the patents can be broken. Pedro Chequer, the head of Brazil's national AIDS program has said: 'If you prevent countries from using generic drugs, you are creating a concrete obstacle to providing access to drugs. You are promoting genocide, because you're killing people.' The trade deals are often negotiated in secret and attract little notice. But they have already been signed with poor countries overwhelmed by AIDS, among them six in Central America. And negotiations have started with several nations that also are overwhelmed by the AIDS virus, from Thailand to five southern African countries, including South Africa and Botswana. When a life-saving industry cheats, people die. When the White House participates in these dirty deals, the result may be genocide."


"Armagideon Time: Bush's Nuclear Folly and the National Security Lie"
By Chris Floyd, 7 November 2006
"Last Friday, just hours after the New York Times revealed that the Bush administration had posted advanced plans for building nuclear weapons on a public web site for months, six Arab nations formally announced they were launching nuclear programs of their own. The potential for disaster posed by this development is almost immeasurable: everything from Chernobyl-style accidents to the theft or transfer of nuclear material to terrorists to the near-certainty of new atomic arsenals appearing in the powder-keg of the Middle East. The announcement also signals the final and utter failure of the Bush administration's demented 'non-proliferation' strategy, which has been centered around a relentless, deliberate drive to gut existing nuclear arms treaties in order to free the United States to enhance its own arsenal. This open denigration of legal strictures on the development of the most dangerous technology on earth has been accompanied by a cynical inconsistency. Bush has heaped monetary and military rewards on India and Pakistan for their illegally developed nuclear arsenals, while threatening war on Iran for what has so far been a peaceful nuclear power program carried out in accordance with international treaties -- and doing nothing at all to head off North Korea's now apparently successful bid for atomic weapon capability. It is a record of astonishing recklessness and incompetence, one that has plunged the world into a new abyss of instability, insecurity and the ever-increasing likelihood of mass death and horror on an unfathomable scale. And the criminal negligence of Bush and his Congressional rubberstamps in dumping plans from Iraq's almost-complete, pre-1991 nuclear weapons program on the Internet -- solely for partisan political advantage -- has exacerbated these dangers by several magnitudes. [...]"

"Depleted Uranium Risk 'Ignored'"
BBC Online, 1 November 2006
"UK and US forces have continued to use depleted uranium weapons despite warnings they pose a cancer risk, a BBC investigation has found. Scientists have pointed to health statistics in Iraq, where the weapons were used in the 1991 and 2003 wars. A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2001 said they posed only a small contamination risk. But a senior UN scientist said research showing how depleted uranium could cause cancer was withheld. ... Depleted uranium is extremely dense and hard, and is used for armour-piercing bullets or shells. Fears over health implications led to a study by the WHO in 2001. ... Dr. Mike Repacholi, who oversaw work on the report, told Angus Stickler of BBC Radio Four's Today programme that depleted uranium was 'basically safe.' 'You would have to ingest a huge amount of depleted uranium dust to cause any adverse health effect,' he said. But Dr. Keith Baverstock, who worked on the project, said research conducted by the US Department of Defense suggested otherwise. He described a process known as genotoxicity, which begins when depleted uranium dust is inhaled. 'The particles that dissolve pose a risk -- part radioactive -- and part from the chemical toxicity in the lung,' he said. Later, he said, the material enters the body and the blood stream, potentially affecting bone marrow, the lymphatic system and the kidneys. The research was not included in the WHO report, and Dr. Baverstock believes it was blocked. ... Other senior scientists have pointed to worrying health statistics in Iraq, which show a rise in cancer and birth defects. Prof. Randy Parrish of the Isotope Geosciences Laboratory in the UK said environmental and health assessments were needed in Iraq to establish the facts. [...]"


"Hatred (of Gays) Unites Jerusalem's Feuding Faiths"
By Tim McGirk, 3 November 2006
"In a Holy City fissured by faith, finding a consensus on anything among Jewish, Christian and Muslim clerics is a near-miraculous occurrence. Yet Jerusalem's rabbis, priests and imams have united, however briefly, to stop the city's Gay Pride parade. For some of their followers, the issue is worth spilling blood over: An unknown extremist Jewish group pasted up signs announcing a $500 'reward' for every gay man or woman killed during the parade, which is scheduled for Nov. 10. Several ultra-orthodox rabbis have vowed to mobilize more than 100,000 protesters to shut down Jerusalem on the day of the parade, and police warn that some groups plan to pelt the marchers with apples jagged with razor blades. Meanwhile, in a rare display of solidarity with Jewish extremists, an influential Islamic cleric is urging Muslims to stage a simultaneous protest inside the old walled city to draw away Israeli police who would otherwise be shielding the gay parade from harm. 'Not only should these homosexuals be banned from holding their parade,' says one Muslim cleric, Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan, who preaches at a mosque near Damascus Gate, 'but they should be punished and sent to an isolated place.' Hatred, it seems, can be a bridge to inter-faith harmony. Gay pride marches have, in fact, been held in Jerusalem for the past five years, prompting only grumbling among the city's conservatives. Then, last year, an ultra-Orthodox youth waded into the crowd of revelers and slashed three people with a knife. The furor over the parade reveals a long-standing contradiction inside an Israeli culture where secular values compete with fiercely defended religious traditions. [...]"


"Women's Lives 'No Better' in New Afghanistan"
By Justin Huggler
The Independent, 1 November 2006
"The lives of Afghanistan's women have changed little five years after the fall of the Taliban, according to a new report by a UK-based women's rights group. Womankind Worldwide found violence against women is still endemic -- and the number of women setting fire to themselves because they cannot bear their lives is rising dramatically. The iconic images of women throwing off their burqas after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 were always a fiction. Except among a small elite in Kabul, the overwhelming majority of women in Afghanistan are still forced to cover their entire bodies and faces. The report's researchers found that very little has changed. Between 60 and 80 per cent of all marriages in Afghanistan are forced. As many as 57 per cent of girls are married off below the age of 16, some as young as six. Because of the custom of paying a bride price, marriage is essentially a financial transaction, and girls a commodity. The custom of baad, when girls and women are exchanged to settle debts and disputes, is still widely practised. The women are not treated as proper wives, but in effect are slave workers for their husbands. Honour killing is also still widespread. Women are killed for dishonouring their families through 'crimes' such as even being seen associating with a man. A family member kills the woman. Even women who have been raped cannot report the crime because they risk being prosecuted for having sex outside marriage. The Taliban were vilified for denying girls education, but even now only 19 per cent of Afghan schools are for girls and only 5 per cent of girls of secondary school age are enrolled. And the West cannot blame the Taliban, as many of the abuses take place in the north and west, where the Taliban are not active. In the north-east, where the Taliban never had control, a woman dies every 20 minutes in childbirth."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"War Criminals, Beware"
By Jeremy Brecher, 5 November 2006
"On November 14 a group of lawyers and other experts will come before the German federal prosecutor and ask him to open a criminal investigation targeting Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales and other key Bush Administration figures for war crimes. The recent passage of the Military Commissions Act provides a central argument for the legal action, under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction: It demonstrates the intent of the Bush Administration to immunize itself legally from prosecution in the United States, even for the most serious crimes. ... The new complaint will be based on the failure of US authorities to investigate and prosecute high-level officials. The case will draw on a powerful new argument. The Military Commissions Act of 2006, which the President promoted and recently signed into law, provides retroactive immunity for civilians who violated the War Crimes Act, including officials of the Bush Administration. Such an attempt to provide immunity for their crimes, it will be argued, is in itself evidence of an effort to block prosecution of those crimes. Indeed, according to Scott Horton, chair of the International Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, when Yugoslavia sought to immunize senior government officials, the United States declared the act itself to be evidence of such a conspiracy. The new case will introduce other important elements as well. Lawyers who served as advocates, architects and enablers of prisoner abuse policies, like Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, will be added as defendants. Abuse in Guantánamo will be added to that in Abu Ghraib. The complaint will present new evidence showing responsibility for torture and prisoner abuse at the highest levels of the chain of command. [...]"

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