Monday, April 24, 2006

Genocide_Studies Media File
April 19-24, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


"Armenians All Over the World Are Commemorating Their Fellow-Countrymen Massacred during the 1915 Genocide"
Itar-Tass News Agency, 24 April 2006
"Armenians all over the world are commemorating on Monday their fellow-countrymen, who were massacred during the 1915 Genocide in the Osman Turkish Empire. According to tradition, thousands of people gather at the Memorial to the Genocide Martyrs in the Yerevan park of 'Tsitsernakaberd.' An eternal fire is burning there in memory of the 1.5 million Armenians who were massacred in 1915. Similar ceremonies are being held in several other countries because an Armenian diaspora had appeared on all the continents of the world after the genocide. Efforts to get the genocide internationally affirmed and recognised are among the priority tasks of Armenia's foreign policy. The first genocide of the 20th century was affirmed by several countries of the world and by the European Parliament. It is worth noting that Greece and France had adopted corresponding laws in this connection. The Russian State Duma issued a statement in 1995, condemning the Genocide of the Armenian People. The Armenian President decreed to award special prizes to people, known for their outstanding contributions to the cause of getting the Armenian Genocide affirmed and recognised. The first to get such prizes were historian Verjine Svaznyan for his book 'Armenian Genocide and Historical Memory of People' and German writer Edgar Hilszenrat for his novel 'The Death Tale.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"US Lawmaker Accuses China of Genocide ahead of Bush-Hu Summit"
AFP dispatch on Yahoo! News, 19 April 2006
"A senior lawmaker from US President George W. Bush's Republican party accused China of genocide for allegedly conducting forced abortions to phase out indigenous populations in the largely Buddhist Tibet and Muslim Xinjiang regions. Christopher Smith, chairing a Congressional hearing on human rights abuses in China, slammed the United Nations for backing China's so-called family planning program which he said had been used as a 'tool of repression' in the two regions. 'This assistance puts the UN seal of approval on a very coercive population control program which against the Tibetans and certainly against the Uighurs constitutes genocide,' said Smith at the hearing of the House of Representatives subcommittee on human rights. 'The genocide definition couldn't be more clear ... when people are targeted in whole or in part because of their ethnicity for destruction,' Smith said at the hearing, timed to coincide with Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States. [...]"


"The War the World Forgot"
By Martin Bell
The Guardian, 24 April 2006
"The Great War of Africa has been fought for eight years in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Peace and power-sharing deals have come and gone. Elections are promised for July, the first free elections in the country's history. A UN peacekeeping force, Monuc, is in place, with 17,000 blue helmets trying to dominate a country the size of western Europe. But the fighting continues, between the Congolese army and shifting alliances of rebel militias under the umbrella of the MRC, the Revolutionary Movement of the Congo. The death toll since 1998 has passed 4 million, the highest of any conflict since the second world war. The most volatile province is North Kivu, up against the borders with Uganda and Rwanda. In my role as a Unicef ambassador I have just returned from a visit to North Kivu at the head of a small delegation. We travelled mostly by air because of the insecurity on the ground. New waves of refugees are on the move, driven out by government offensives against the rebels. Near Beni, in the north of the province, the militias fled to the forest and in turn displaced the native people, the pygmies. It is the first time in recorded history that the pygmies have left the forest. They had little choice. Their weapons, bows and poisoned-tipped arrows, are no match for Kalashnikovs. The pygmy chief said: 'This is a serious war and many of our relatives have been killed in the fighting. Our message to the world is that we cannot remain living like this.' This conflict in the heart of Africa shows modern warfare at its most brutal and primitive. It is the only war I have ever known where the worse things get, the more they are ignored. [...]"


"Death Squads Said to Target Youths"
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan
The Boston Globe, 19 April 2006
"Thirteen-year-old Kevin García and his friends were playing soccer on a sunny afternoon last October when a white Isuzu Trooper without license plates screeched to a halt alongside the barrio's cheek-by-jowl cinderblock and tin shanties, neighbors say. Armed men in unmarked black uniforms and sunglasses leaped out and ordered the teenagers to the ground. Kevin screamed for help, residents recall, and a female neighbor hollered, 'For the love of God, don't take that boy, he doesn't owe anything to anyone!' Residents say one of the men pointed a gun at the woman, but let go of Kevin. His three friends, ages 15, 16, and 18, were kicked and bundled into the vehicle. The next day, their lifeless bodies were discovered 30 miles away, bound and strangled, showing signs of torture, according to local newspapers. Tabloids have oozed over the last year with photos of numerous unsolved murders of young men from this violent satellite town a half-hour's drive south of Guatemala City. Social workers and human rights activists attribute such slayings in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador to alleged bands of rogue police, private security officers, or former security forces who are targeting suspected gangs that have fed violence in Central America. Casa Alianza, a regional advocacy group for street children, recorded 2,028 slayings of youths in Honduras alone from January 2002 through February 2006, one of the highest murder rates of young people in the world. Police were responsible for 13 percent of the deaths investigated by a special government unit. A total of 42 percent of cases, according to Casa Alianza, had characteristics of summary executions. [...]"


"Inspectors Find More Torture at Iraqi Jails"
By Ellen Knickmeyer
The Washington Post (on, 24 April 2006
"Last Nov. 13, U.S. soldiers found 173 incarcerated men, some of them emaciated and showing signs of torture, in a secret bunker in an Interior Ministry compound in central Baghdad. The soldiers immediately transferred the men to a separate detention facility to protect them from further abuse, the U.S. military reported. Since then, there have been at least six joint U.S.-Iraqi inspections of detention centers, most of them run by Iraq's Shiite Muslim-dominated Interior Ministry. Two sources involved with the inspections, one Iraqi official and one U.S. official, said abuse of prisoners was found at all the sites visited through February. U.S. military authorities confirmed that signs of severe abuse were observed at two of the detention centers. But U.S. troops have not responded by removing all the detainees, as they did in November. Instead, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials, only a handful of the most severely abused detainees at a single site were removed for medical treatment. Prisoners at two other sites were removed to alleviate overcrowding. U.S. and Iraqi authorities left the rest where they were. This practice of leaving the detainees in place has raised concerns that detainees now face additional threats. It has also prompted fresh questions from the inspectors about whether the United States has honored a pledge by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that U.S. troops would attempt to stop inhumane treatment if they saw it. [...]"

"Stolen Away", 23 April 2006
"[...] Safah is part of a seldom-discussed aspect of the epidemic of kidnappings in Iraq: sex trafficking. No one knows how many young women have been kidnapped and sold since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The Organization for Women's Freedom in Iraq, based in Baghdad, estimates from anecdotal evidence that more than 2,000 Iraqi women have gone missing in that period. A Western official in Baghdad who monitors the status of women in Iraq thinks that figure may be inflated but admits that sex trafficking, virtually nonexistent under Saddam, has become a serious issue. The collapse of law and order and the absence of a stable government have allowed criminal gangs, alongside terrorists, to run amuck. Meanwhile, some aid workers say, bureaucrats in the ministries have either paralyzed with red tape or frozen the assets of charities that might have provided refuge for these girls. As a result, sex trafficking has been allowed to fester unchecked. 'It is a problem, definitely,' says the official, who has heard specific reports from Iraqi aid workers about girls being kidnapped and sold to brothels. 'Unfortunately, the security situation doesn't allow us to follow up on this.' The U.S. State Department's June 2005 trafficking report says the extent of the problem in Iraq is 'difficult to appropriately gauge' but cites an unknown number of Iraqi women and girls being sent to Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Persian Gulf countries for sexual exploitation. [...]"

"Saddam 'Did Sign Death Warrants'"
BBC Online, 19 April 2006
"Saddam Hussein personally signed documents ordering the killing of 148 Shia villagers in Dujail in 1982, handwriting experts have concluded. He and seven co-accused face charges for their alleged role in the killings after an assassination attempt. Prosecutors have presented thousands of documents to the court to try to prove a paper trail exists linking the former Iraqi leader directly to the killings. Defence lawyers have insisted the signatures are a forgery. They have also contested the impartiality of the handwriting experts, who they say are linked to Iraq's current interior ministry. The BBC's James Reynolds in Baghdad said the experts' decision was a very significant moment for the prosecution. Among the documents was one apparently approving the Dujail executions and another authorising rewards for intelligence agents involved. [...]"


"Iran 'Greatest Threat to Jews'"
Agency reports in The Guardian, 24 April 2006
"The Israeli defence minister today said Iran's nuclear programme was the biggest threat to Jews 'since Hitler.' Speaking before comments from the Iranian president that Israel could not 'logically continue to live,' Shaul Mofaz urged vigorous diplomatic action over Iran's uranium enrichment activities, which Tehran maintains are purely peaceful. 'Of all the threats we face, Iran is the biggest. The world must not wait. It must do everything necessary on a diplomatic level in order to stop its nuclear activity,' Reuters reported Mr Mofaz telling a conference on Iran at Tel Aviv University. He added: 'Since Hitler we have not faced such a threat.' Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, later called on Israeli Jews to leave the Middle East and 'return to their fatherlands' in Europe. 'We say that this fake regime [Israel] cannot ... logically continue to live,' he told a press conference, according to an Associated Press translation. 'Open the doors [of Europe] and let the Jews go back to their own countries,' he told reporters. Mr. Ahmadinejad also suggested that Iran could pull out of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty if sanctions were imposed. The UN security council has given Iran until April 28 to suspend uranium enrichment, which it this month claimed to have mastered. [...]"


"Threat of World War Builds, Israel Warns"
Agency reports in The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 April 2006
"Israel has warned the United Nations that a new 'axis of terror' -- Iran, Syria and the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority -- is sowing the seeds of a new world war. But the Palestinians accuse Israel of an escalating military campaign using indiscriminate force to kill civilians and entrench its occupation. The Israeli and Palestinian envoys traded charges at an open Security Council meeting held on Monday in response to the recent surge in Israeli attacks in Gaza. It took place on a day that a Palestinian suicide bomber struck a packed fast-food restaurant in Tel Aviv, killing nine people in the deadliest bombing in Israel in more than a year. Recent statements by the Palestinian government, Iran and Syria, including one by Hamas on Monday defending the suicide bombing, 'are clear declarations of war, and I urge each and every one of you to listen carefully and take them at face value,' said Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman. 'A dark cloud is looming above our region, and it is metastasising as a result of the statements and actions by leaders of Iran, Syria, and the newly elected government of the Palestinian Authority,' he said. The Palestinian UN observer, Riyad Mansour, condemned the suicide bombing and the loss of innocent civilians on both sides, but attacked Israel for trying to portray its latest military escalation -- which killed 21 Palestinians between April 7 and 9 -- as a response to violence from the Palestinian territories. 'Israel, the occupying power has been relentless in its grave breaches of international law, including the wilful killing and injury of civilians and the practice of extrajudicial executions,' he said. [...]"


"After Resisting for Decades, Germany Agrees to Open Archive of Holocaust Documents"
By David Stout
The New York Times, 19 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"Germany agreed Tuesday to allow access to a vast trove of information on what happened to more than 17 million people who were executed, forced to labor for the Nazi war machine or otherwise brutalized during the Holocaust. The German government announced at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum here that it was dropping its decades-long resistance to opening the archives kept in the town of Bad Arolsen. The files, which make up one of the largest Holocaust archives in the world, are more than 15 miles long and hold up to 50 million documents, some seized by the Allies as they liberated concentration camps. ... The accord ends a nasty diplomatic dispute between the United States and Germany. More important, officials at the Holocaust museum said, it will open the documents to historians and researchers, whose access has been blocked because of Germany's strict privacy laws. 'Sixty years after the end of the war, it's time,' Arthur Berger, the Holocaust museum's senior adviser on external affairs, said after Ms. Zypries pledged that Germany would work with the United States to make the documents available. The 11-nation commission that oversees the archives is to meet on May 16 in Luxembourg. Paul Shapiro, the director of advanced Holocaust studies at the museum here, said the documents would offer insights into the day-to-day evils of the Nazi era, 'the routine process of deportation, concentration camps, slave labor, killing.' And perhaps, he said, the paperwork will offer clues to 'a few new perpetrators' who, if no longer subject to earthly justice, can at least stand before the bar of history. [...]"


"Poles Take Russia to Court over 1940 Katyn Massacre"
Belfast Telegraph, 24 April 2006
"Relatives of Polish soldiers executed by Joseph Stalin's secret police in one of the Second World War's most infamous massacres are to take Russia to the European Court of Human Rights to try to make it disclose the full truth about the killings. In the so-called Katyn atrocities, personally ordered by Stalin in 1940, the NKVD (forerunner of the KGB) killed 21,587 Polish Army reservists in cold blood on the grounds that they were 'hardened and uncompromising enemies of Soviet authority.' Russia has refused to prosecute surviving suspects or reveal their names. It is keeping two-thirds of the files on the subject classified, and has classed the murders as an ordinary crime whose statute of limitations has expired. Relatives of victims say that the killings amounted to genocide and that Russia has a moral obligation to open its archive on them. The killings took place at three locations but the massacre took its name from just one, the Katyn Forest in modern-day Belarus. The murders killed many of Poland's intelligentsia; among the dead were officers, chaplains, writers, professors, journalists, engineers, lawyers, aristocrats and teachers. All were killed by a single shot to the back of the head. Some 15,000 bodies have been found and the rest are thought to be still buried in secret mass graves. The murders have soured Moscow's relations with Poland for six decades, with Warsaw accusing the Kremlin of deceit, a lack of remorse and brutal indifference. It was only in 1989 that the then Soviet President, Mikhail Gorbachev, admitted that the killings had been perpetrated by Stalin's secret police. Before that the USSR blamed the atrocities on the Nazis who occupied the area during the war, even going to the trouble of reburying bodies and bulldozing evidence in an elaborate attempt to deflect blame. [...]"


"Armenian Student Killed in Moscow Race Attack"
By Nick Paton Walsh
The Guardian, 24 April 2006
"An ethnic Armenian teenager was stabbed to death in a metro station in central Moscow on Saturday night -- the latest attack in a growing wave of racist violence in Russia. At least six immigrants have been killed so far this month, and many more have been wounded. Media reports said that a man in black clothing with a shaven head had stabbed the victim several times at Pushkin Square station, not far from the Kremlin, before fleeing. Vagan Abramyants, 17, a student, died on the spot. A friend who was with him at the time was badly wounded in the attack."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Clashes Worsen Somalian Food Crisis as Drought Sets In"
By Edward Girardet
The Christian Science Monitor, 19 April 2006
"Despite ongoing and often tricky efforts to end the civil war that since 1991 has turned Somalia into a worn-out and destitute failed state, heavy clashes have recently erupted between warlords and Islamist extremists in the capital, Mogadishu. The fighting, which has involved indiscriminate barrages of mortar and anti-aircraft fire leveled point blank across the city, represents the worst violence in almost a decade and is bad news for a region already suffering from the ravages of acute drought. Clans traditionally at war with one another are uniting to fight the Islamists, whom they call terrorists, but the Islamists say they can bring order to a lawless state that has not had a central government for 16 years. And while the renewed conflict has been restricted largely to Mogadishu, it is proving detrimental to the overall peace process, the political survival of the country's fragile United Nations-backed transitional government, and critical humanitarian operations. ... The fighting has raised considerable international concern about the protection of civilians and the ability of aid agencies to continue providing key humanitarian relief. Compounded by the drought, which is beginning to create dire famine conditions, including the loss of more than half the country's cattle and sheep, current insecurity is causing people to flee to safer areas, including northern Kenya, where the UN says more than 100,000 Somali refugees are living. [...]"


"Bin Laden Calls for War against UN Peacekeepers"
By Tom Baldwin
The Times, 24 April 2006
"The voice of Osama bin Laden was heard across the world again yesterday with the broadcast of a new tape in which he sought to link al-Qaeda with both Palestinian militants and the brutal civil war in Sudan. In his first message for three months, bin Laden said that the West's decision to cut off funds to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority proved that it was conducting 'a Zionist crusader war on Islam.' He also spoke about the Darfur crisis in Sudan, which has caused 180,000 deaths, calling on 'holy warriors' to defend Islam and 'prepare for a long war' against a United Nations peacekeeping force. [...]"

"Darfur: Genocide Without Witnesses"
By Jacky Mamou
Libération (on, 24 April 2006
"[...] On the ground, the situation is alarming. The High Commission for Refugees (HCR) announced a 44% reduction in its operations the beginning of March because of the deterioration of security conditions. Jan Pronk declared a few days ago that 'in southern Darfur, militias continue their cleansing operations, village after village.' Murders, rapes, lootings increase without pause, while the World Food Program (WFP) sounds a death knell in the face of new floods of refugees in Chad, who flee combat from both sides of the border. This situation, the UN agency advises, threatens aid to millions of people fleeing the violence. For its part, UNICEF, in charge of children, estimates that insecurity prevents humanitarian agencies from reaching 500,000 people. UNICEF indicates that if, for the moment, the nutritional situation within the displaced persons camps is stable, in two northern Darfur camps (Mellit and Hay Abassy), the threshold of a malnutrition emergency has been breached, with malnutrition reaching 18%. This whole situation has been deliberately organized by the Sudanese government, which wants to create a situation of no-return. One must acknowledge the Sudanese government's true talent for hindering humanitarian action, a practice in which it already excelled during the long decades of its war against the southerners. But they have now gone a step further with the refusal to allow UN Assistant Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland to go to Darfur and with the expulsion of the Norwegian NGO, National Refugees Council (NRC), which has been intervening in Darfur's largest refugee camp. What does Khartoum want to hide? [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Peter Prontzos for bringing this source to my attention.]

"UN Becoming Anxious over Darfur"
By Herve Couturier
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 20 April 2006
"Two pending United Nations decisions could shake up peace talks being held in Nigeria on the conflict in the strife-torn Sudanese region of Darfur. The United States has proposed UN sanctions against four Sudanese government officials while the UN wants to take over the African Union (AU) peacekeeping force in Darfur. UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said the Sudanese government has used the peace talks in Abuja to justify delaying a UN mission to assess peacekeeping needs in Darfur, where hundreds of thousands are said to have died in recent years. Sudanese officials told UN deputy secretary general for peacekeeping operations Hedi Annabi 'that this was not the time for a UN assessment mission to go into Darfur and that they would rather wait till the Abuja process is completed,' he said. The UN Security Council ordered a mission before the end of the month to determine the size, scope and equipment needs for a UN force in Darfur. After months of inconclusive negotiations, the international community has given the AU-brokered Darfur peace talks until April 30 to reach agreement. AU mediator Salim Ahmed Salim of Tanzania on Tuesday told the UN that 'The conflict in Darfur ... seems at last to be ripe for resolution.' 'For the first time there are intensive bilateral and direct discussions between the parties, as well as meetings facilitated by the [AU] mediation,' he said. 'We are hopeful that the differences can be narrowed.' [...]"

"Darfur 'Too Deadly for Aid Work'"
BBC Online, 20 April 2006
"Fighting has made it impossible to reach large areas of the Sudanese region of Darfur, the Red Cross says. International Committee of the Red Cross Sudan spokesman Paul Conneally told the BBC that its vehicles are being systematically looted. He said tens of thousands of people had been forced from their homes around the rebel bases in the Marra mountains. Aid workers are trying to help more than two million people, in what the US says is a genocide. Mr. Conneally says civilians have fled from towns in the area, which are now patrolled only by the Sudanese army. He said the fighting was heavy and confused, with pro-government Arab militia attacking civilians, while factions of the main rebel movement, the Sudan Liberation Army, are also clashing with each other. [...]"

"What To Do About Darfur?"
By Amitabh Pal
The Progressive, 18 April 2006
"[...] The scale of the mass murder in Darfur boggles the mind. Africa Action, one of the foremost groups in the United States working on issues related to that continent, has compiled numbers on the tragedy. An estimated 400,000 people have died since 2003, when the Sudanese regime started unleashing its Arab militia proxies on the inhabitants of the area as a way of putting down a local rebellion. More than 2 million people have been made refugees either within their own country or have had to flee to neighboring Chad. 'As many as 6,000 people are dying each month in Darfur,' Africa Action's website says. 'Unless there is an urgent multinational intervention to protect the people of Darfur, the death toll will continue to rise dramatically in 2006.' Now the conflict threatens to spill over into neighboring nations, affecting a whole swath of North-Central Africa. The Sudanese regime has sponsored rebels to overthrow Chad's government, apparently in retaliation for Chad giving refuge to hundreds of thousands of Darfurians. And the Central African Republic has closed its border with Sudan, alleging that these rebels used its territory in transit on the way to Chad. A broadening of the conflict would add to the already horrific death toll. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Peter Prontzos for bringing this source to my attention.]


"Fallout from Chernobyl Will Cause 100,000 Deaths, Says Greenpeace"
By Andrew Osborn
The Independent (on, 19 April 2006)
"The fallout from Chernobyl, the world's worst nuclear accident, will be 10 times more deadly than previously thought and will cause almost 100,000 people to die from cancer in coming years, Greenpeace says. Twenty years after Chernobyl's fourth reactor exploded, sending a radiation-lined cloud into the atmosphere, the green, anti-nuclear campaign group alleged that the human consequences of the disaster have been woefully and deliberately underestimated. It accused the pro-nuclear lobby of systematically trying to play down the scale of the tragedy for cynical public relations purposes. As the 20th anniversary of the accident looms, the truth about how many people have fallen ill or died as a result of the radiation leak has become the subject of a fierce debate between those who support nuclear power and those who don't. It is not an idle academic debate -- establishing how serious Chernobyl really was has taken on cardinal political importance as the UK and continental Europe consider commissioning a new generation of nuclear reactors to compensate for dwindling oil and gas stocks. With its new report Greenpeace became the latest interest group to enter the fray. It cited demographic data which showed that some 200,000 people appear to have already died in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, the area most heavily contaminated, as a direct result of the 1986 Soviet-era accident. The total number of directly attributable cancer cases in that region was set to soar to 270,000, it added, of which 93,000 would be fatal. [...]"
[n.b. See the full text of the Greenpeace report.]


"CIS Ministers Decline to Discuss 1930s 'Genocide' against Ukraine"
RIAN dispatch on The Russia Journal, 21 April 2006
"Former Soviet republics rejected Friday a proposal from Ukraine to discuss a famine in the 1930s that Kiev sees as an act of genocide perpetrated by Moscow. Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk wanted his counterparts from the Commonwealth of Independent States to debate the famine, known as Holodomor, in Ukraine in 1932-1933, which claimed the lives of millions of people and which Kiev says was deliberately caused by the rulers of Soviet Russia. But his colleagues from the other former Soviet republics failed to support his proposal to put the issue on the agenda of their meeting in Moscow. Last year, President Viktor Yushchenko called on the UN to recognize Holodomor as genocide and thanked the countries that had already done so for help in 'breaking the conspiracy of silence.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Bush Refuses to Rule Out Nuclear Strike on Iran"
The Telegraph, 19 April 2006
"President George W Bush has refused to rule out a nuclear strike on Iran as diplomats from the world's major powers met to respond to Teheran's defiance over its atomic programme. Asked at the White House if his administration was planning for the possibility of a nuclear strike against Iran's atomic research facilities, Mr Bush said: 'All options are on the table.' But he added: 'We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so.' American officials are reported to be discussing the possibility of nuclear strikes on Iran, fearful that if it were to develop nuclear weapons it could threaten Israel. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president who has vowed to 'wipe Israel off the map,' said yesterday that Iran's army was like a 'meteorite' that would defeat any attack against the country. ... Diplomats from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany were meeting in Moscow last night to map out their strategy if Teheran fails to halt enrichment activity."
[n.b. One rubs one's eyes in disbelief at these terroristic and proto-genocidal declarations.]

"It's Called Mad For A Reason, You Fool!"
by Joyce Marcel, 19 April 2006
"[...] What could be the possible results of multiple bombing attacks, including nuclear ones, on Iran? Mushroom clouds. Radiation in the winds. Mass casualties. Contamination. Assured nuclear proliferation. Possibly an Iran-China alliance -- and China not only has the bomb, but the missiles to deliver it. An army of suicide bombers. Add major Shiite uprisings in Iraq and Iranian retaliation on the 'exposed oil and gas fields in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates,' [journalist Seymour] Hersh said. And -- wait for it! -- at the very least, $150-plus barrels of oil for the foreseeable future. Hezbollah, which has been quiet for the past few years, could be drawn in. And there's always al-Qaida. Remember them? Terrorist attacks all over the world could result. All that's left are lies and illusions masquerading as foreign policy. Now how much would you pay? Is anyone offering a set of Ginzu knives? How about a Pocket Fisherman or a Bamboo Steamer? Why isn't there any amazing TV offer? Why aren't the operators standing by? Bush is playing chicken with nuclear weapons. How can we stop him? Millions around the world took to the streets to protest his invasion of Iraq, yet he remained superior, patronizing and implacable. [...]"

"Why Isn't Genocide On The Table?"
By Cenk Uygur
The Huffington Post, 19 April 2006
"President Bush says he won't take nuclear war off the table. He reserves the right to use nuclear weapons against a country that didn't attack us -- and couldn't possibly build the weapons to attack us for another 5-10 years. I am given to understand that the only way to appear 'strong' on national defense is to promise to wage bigger and nastier wars on our enemies (real or imagined). It would seem 'weak' to take nuclear weapons of the so-called table. Iran must understand that we are barbarians and unstable barbarians at that! We will do anything against our enemies, even if they have no capacity to harm us. Hear us roar! So, why stop with just nuclear war? I understand that the nuclear weapons we are contemplating using in Iran would -- according to a Pentagon simulation -- kill 3 million people and spread radiation as far down as India, and contaminate up to 35 million people with cancerous nuclear fallout. But why stop there? Are we weaklings not really willing to impose our will on this rogue country that refuses to listen to our demands? Let's go all the way. I think we should keep genocide on the table. In fact, it would be weak not to. Every one of our politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, in order to appear stronger than the other should promise to wipe Iran off the map -- kill every man, woman and child. [...]"
[n.b. Please note: tongue in cheek, although the satirical tone is not far removed from the real-life ruminations of certain right-wing commentators.]

"Prominent U.S. Physicists Send Letter to President Bush", 17 April 2006
"Thirteen of the nation's most prominent physicists have written a letter to President Bush, calling U.S. plans to reportedly use nuclear weapons against Iran 'gravely irresponsible' and warning that such action would have 'disastrous consequences for the security of the United States and the world.' The physicists include five Nobel laureates, a recipient of the National Medal of Science and three past presidents of the American Physical Society, the nation's preeminent professional society for physicists. Their letter was prompted by recent articles in the Washington Post, New Yorker and other publications that one of the options being considered by Pentagon planners and the White House in a military confrontation with Iran includes the use of nuclear bunker busters against underground facilities. These reports were neither confirmed nor denied by White House and Pentagon officials. The letter was initiated by Jorge Hirsch, a professor of physics at the University of California, San Diego, who last fall put together a petition signed by more than 1,800 physicists that repudiated new U.S. nuclear weapons policies that include preemptive use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear adversaries ( Hirsch has also published 15 articles in recent months ( documenting the dangers associated with a potential U.S. nuclear strike on Iran. 'We are members of the profession that brought nuclear weapons into existence, and we feel strongly that it is our professional duty to contribute our efforts to prevent their misuse,' says Hirsch. 'Physicists know best about the devastating effects of the weapons they created, and these eminent physicists speak for thousands of our colleagues.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Peter Prontzos for bringing this source to my attention.]

"Halliburton's Immigrant Detention Centers"
By Ruth Conniff
The Progressive, 17 April 2006
"While thousands of people were celebrating the contribution America's undocumented immigrants make to our economy, and demanding justice and recognition for workers who are denied basic rights, the government was making plans for large-scale detention centers in case of an 'emergency influx' of immigrants. KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary recently reprimanded for gross overcharging in its military contracts in Iraq, won a $385 million contract to build the centers. According to the Halliburton website -- -- 'the contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.' What new programs might those be? The web was abuzz with speculation after the contract was awarded on January 24. Pacific News Service gave the most detailed analysis. It connected the new 'immigration emergency' plans with older plans that involved imposing martial law. Certainly the detention centers raise the specter of WW II Japanese internment camps. The new facilities could be used for round-ups of Muslim Americans or other American citizens tagged as 'enemy combatants.' The use of military personnel and military contractors in the event of a Katrina-like disaster, which the Halliburton contract provides for, brings us closer to martial law, whether it is officially declared or not. [...]"


"Award for Liberian Green Activist"
BBC Online, 24 April 2006
"A Liberian man who exposed illegal timber exports under former President Charles Taylor is due to receive this year's US Goldman Environmental Award. Silas Siakor, 36, is being honoured for providing evidence that the government illegally sold timber to finance militia groups during the civil war. Mr. Taylor, charged with war crimes, used timber revenue to buy arms after being banned from selling diamonds. 'I feel vindicated,' Mr. Siakor told the BBC's Network Africa programme. Mr. Siakor submitted documents to the UN Security Council, which then banned exports of 'blood timber' from Liberia. The director of Liberia's Sustainable Development Institute said he had a network of informants, which monitored the entire timber exporting process, from the forests to the port. ... 'The evidence Silas Siakor collected at great personal risk was vital to putting sanctions in place and cutting the links between the logging industry and conflict,' said Arthur Blundell, chairman of the UN Panel of Experts on Liberia. Sixteen timber companies either set up militia groups or bought weapons, Mr. Siakor said. He says Liberia's timber exports should remain banned until the industry is reformed, as local communities still do not really feel the benefits and corruption remains rife. [...]"


"Major Drop in World Death Penalty Rate"
The Telegraph, 20 April 2006
"The total number of people executed around the world was far lower in 2005 than in previous years, a new report finds. According to the Amnesty International annual death penalty report at least 2,148 prisoners were executed, with another 20,000 on death row. The number of deaths worldwide was a substantial fall on the figures for 2004, which saw 3,797 people killed for crimes carrying the death penalty. China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US accounted for 94 per cent of executions recorded in 2005, with China executing 1,770 people -- more than all other countries combined. There was also a drop for the fourth consecutive year in the number of countries which carried out capital punishment, down from 25 in 2004 to 22 last year. But the charity warned that today's report contained minimum figures, as countries such as China refused to publish full official statistics on the death penalty. Amnesty said Chinese legal experts and officials estimated the government executes as many as 8,000-10,000 people each year. [...]"


"Colleagues Say CIA Analyst Played by Rules"
By David S. Cloud
The New York Times (on, 23 April 2006
"In 1998, when President Bill Clinton ordered military strikes against a suspected chemical weapons factory in Sudan, Mary O. McCarthy, a senior intelligence officer assigned to the White House, warned the president that the plan relied on inconclusive intelligence, two former government officials said. Ms. McCarthy's reservations did not stop the attack on the factory, which was carried out in retaliation for Al Qaeda's bombing of two American embassies in East Africa. But they illustrated her willingness to challenge intelligence data and methods endorsed by her bosses at the Central Intelligence Agency. On Thursday, the C.I.A. fired Ms. McCarthy, 61, accusing her of leaking information to reporters about overseas prisons operated by the agency in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks. But despite Ms. McCarthy's independent streak, some colleagues who worked with her at the White House and other offices during her intelligence career say they cannot imagine Ms. McCarthy as a leaker of classified information. As a senior National Security Council aide for intelligence from 1996 to 2001, she was responsible for guarding some of the nations most sensitive secrets. 'We're talking about a person with great integrity who played by the book and, as far as I know, never deviated from the rules,' said Steven Simon, a National Security Council aide in the Clinton administration who worked closely with Ms. McCarthy. ... After an article last November in The Washington Post reported that the C.I.A. was sending terror suspects to clandestine detention centers in several countries, including some in Eastern Europe, Porter J. Goss, the agency's director, ordered polygraphs for intelligence officers who knew about certain 'compartmented' programs, including the secret detention centers for terror suspects. [...]"

"No Proof of Secret C.I.A. Prisons, European Antiterror Chief Says"
By Dan Bilefsky
The New York Times, 21 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"The European Union's antiterrorism chief told a hearing on Thursday that he had not been able to prove that secret C.I.A. prisons existed in Europe. 'We've heard all kinds of allegations,' the official, Gijs de Vries, said before a committee of the European Parliament. 'It does not appear to be proven beyond reasonable doubt.' But Mr. de Vries came under criticism from some legislators who called the hearing a whitewash. Kathalijne Buitenweg, a Dutch member of Parliament from the Green Party, said that even without definitive proof, 'the circumstantial evidence is stunning.' 'I'm appalled that we keep calling to uphold human rights while pretending that these rendition centers don't exist and doing nothing about it,' she said. Many European nations were outraged after an article in The Washington Post in November cited unidentified intelligence officials as saying that the C.I.A. had maintained detention centers for terrorism suspects in eight countries, including some in Eastern Europe. A later report by the advocacy group Human Rights Watch cited Poland and Romania as two of the countries. Both countries, as well as others in Europe, have denied the allegations. But the issue has inflamed trans-Atlantic tensions. ... A number of legislators on Thursday challenged Mr. de Vries for not taking seriously earlier testimony before the committee of a German and a Canadian who gave accounts of being kidnapped and kept imprisoned by foreign agents. The committee also heard Thursday from a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, who said: 'I can attest to the willingness of the U.S. and the U.K. to obtain intelligence that was got under torture in Uzbekistan. If they were not willing, then rendition prisons could not have existed.' [...]"


"... But What If It's A Girl?"
By Carla Power
New Statesman, 24 April 2006
"[...] The Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act is powerful indeed, but rarely enforced. Passed after India realised that modern medical techniques such as ultrasound scans and amniocenteses were frequently being used to identify female foetuses -- which are then aborted -- the PNDT Act requires the registration of all ultrasound machines, and bans doctors from revealing the sex of the foetus to expectant parents. The 1994 law was an attempt to reverse India's rampant use of sex-selective abortion, and the lopsided sex ratio this has produced. India's 2001 census showed that there were 927 girls to every 1,000 boys, down from 945:1,000 in 1991 and 962:1,000 in 1981. Until recently, no doctors had been put in prison under the PNDT Act. But late last month a doctor was jailed for three years after telling an undercover investigator that her foetus was female, and hinting that she could abort it. Arvind Kumar, Hyderabad district collector and Satyavathi's boss, sees the law as the only practical tool for tackling India's female foeticide epidemic. Doctors who practise sex-selective abortion, he says, 'like any other criminals, should be treated like criminals.' It is uncertain how many such crimes have been committed. A January study in the Lancet estimated that ten million female foeticides had occurred in India over the past two decades. Both the Indian Medical Association and anti-sex-selection activists disputed the findings, saying the numbers were too high. While the numbers may be a matter of debate, the general trend is not: the ratio of girls to boys in India has been dwindling over the past two decades. [...]"


"Bombs Away"
By Max M. Kampelman
The New York Times, 24 April 2006 [Registration Required]
"In my lifetime, I have witnessed two successful titanic struggles by civilized society against totalitarian movements, those against Nazi fascism and Soviet communism. As an arms control negotiator for Ronald Reagan, I had the privilege of playing a role -- a small role -- in the second of these triumphs. Yet, at the age of 85, I have never been more worried about the future for my children and grandchildren than I am today. The number of countries possessing nuclear arms is increasing, and terrorists are poised to master nuclear technology with the objective of using those deadly arms against us. The United States must face this reality head on and undertake decisive steps to prevent catastrophe. Only we can exercise the constructive leadership necessary to address the nuclear threat. Unfortunately, the goal of globally eliminating all weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical and biological arms -- is today not an integral part of American foreign policy; it needs to be put back at the top of our agenda. [...]"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
April 11-18, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


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


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


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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

Monday, April 10, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
April 3-10, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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