Thursday, January 11, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
January 4-11, 2007

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

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"Headbangers Against Genocide"
By John Feffer
Foreign Policy in Focus, 4 January 2007
"[...] Serj Tankian is the lead singer of System of a Down, a popular rock group on the cusp of heavy metal. SOAD, as its fans like to call it, is part of a new generation of politically engaged rock groups. Like Rage Against the Machine or Green Day, SOAD produces some rousing antiwar songs (like 'BYOB' with its chorus of 'Why don't presidents fight the war? Why do they always send the poor?'). But the group also has a very specific political goal: to educate the world about the Armenian genocide. A new documentary, Screamers, tells the story of the 1915 genocide through the words, music, and activism of the four Armenian-American members of System of a Down. The film comes at a particularly important time. Despite repeated public avowals of 'never again' by many government leaders -- after Bosnia, after Rwanda -- genocide is again in the headlines because of Darfur. And Turkey continues to evade responsibility for the Armenian genocide even as it attempts to join the European Union and cement its alliances with the United States. Screamers, as genocide expert Samantha Powers explains in the film, are people who react viscerally to the horror of atrocity and won't stop screaming until something is done about it. The raw energy of System of a Down clearly resonates with its audience. But will such musical activism make waves outside the concert halls as well? [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Ben Kiernan for supplying this link. System of a Down rocks!]


"France to Probe Congo 'Massacre'"
BBC Online, 10 January 2007
"France's highest appeals court has ordered that an investigation be reopened into disappearances in the Republic of Congo in 1999. In 2002 a lower court threw out the case, brought against two Congolese officials with homes in France. About 350 refugees from conflict in Congo had fled to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo when they disappeared returning to Brazzaville. Authorities in the Republic of Congo deny they were massacred. Rights groups and relatives of the missing say they were arrested, tortured and then executed upon their return to Congo on suspicion of backing an anti-government militia. The country's then chief of police, Jean-Francois Ndengue, was investigated but never charged while an international arrest warrant was issued for Gen Norbert Dabira. The two had homes in Meaux, east of Paris. This circumstance allowed French authorities to launch a case following legal action by relatives of some of those who disappeared. [...]"


"East Timor a Dark Stain on Ford's Legacy"
By Hamish McDonald
The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 January 2007
"Speak nothing ill of the dead and all that, but the passing of the former United States president Gerald Ford invites mention of one big black spot in his record. None of the Washington eulogies or the mainstream media obituaries, about the decent everyman accidentally made president after the forced exits of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, make note of it. This was the go-ahead Ford gave Indonesia's President Soeharto for his invasion of East Timor in 1975. Ford was first informed in July 1975 by the then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, that with the Portuguese seeking to dump their colonies as quickly as possible, Soeharto planned to take East Timor, by force if necessary. Soeharto strongly hinted at this on a Washington visit later that month, and met no objections. In August, a coup instigated by Jakarta's Special Operations group started a civil war between rival Timorese parties, with the Portuguese stepping aside. Having just 'lost' Cambodia and South Vietnam to communist forces, Kissinger made it clear the US was not interested in upsetting the anti-communist Soeharto over Timor, especially as its socialist Fretilin party was emerging on top. His envoy in Jakarta, David Newsom, told Australia's Richard Woolcott that if Indonesia invaded, it should do so 'effectively, quickly, and not use our equipment.' [...]"


"Ethiopian Dictator Sentenced to Life for Genocide"
Associated Press dispatch in USA Today, 11 January 2007
"Former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam was sentenced to life imprisonment Thursday, ending a 12-year trial for genocide and other crimes committed during his iron-fisted rule. He was tried in absentia. Mengistu is unlikely to ever spend a day behind bars. He now lives comfortably in exile in Zimbabwe, which says it won't deport him as long as he refrains from political activity. Eleven of the former ruler's top officials were also sentenced to life while 47 other aides received sentences ranging up to 25 years, said lead judge Medhin Kiros. Relatives of victims of Mengistu's rule immediately criticized the verdict. 'This is a victory for Mengistu,' said Mulugeta Aserate, a cousin of Emperor Haile Selassie, who was ousted in a coup by Mengistu in 1994. 'These people should have been sentenced to death for mass murder of Ethiopian citizens.' Kiros told the packed courtroom he wanted the death penalty because of the nature of the crimes, but the two other judges wanted a lesser sentence. Chief prosecutor Yosef Kiros said immediately after sentencing that they may appeal because they want Mengistu to face the death penalty. The officials on trial showed no emotion as the sentences were read out."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"France's Shame?"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 11 January 2007
"[...] When the genocide started, Paris made no secret of where its loyalties lay. The French military flew in ammunition for government forces and, in the following weeks, a stream of Hutu officials travelled to Paris, including Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, who was later convicted of genocide by the international tribunal, for meetings with President François Mitterrand and the French prime minister. Even as the mass graves filled across Rwanda, Paris engineered the delivery of millions of dollars' worth of weapons to the Hutu regime from Egypt and South Africa. Africa has traditionally been considered such a special case in Paris that France's policy is run out of the presidency. At the time, the 'Africa cell' was headed by Mitterrand's son, Jean-Christophe, a close friend of the Habyarimanas. He later said that there could not have been a genocide because 'Africans are not that organised.' France's president did not deny what had happened, but took a view no less racist: 'In such countries, genocide is not too important.' Gérard Prunier, a French historian who advised the French government during the later stages of its intervention in Rwanda, has characterised Paris's view of its former African colonies not as foreign countries but as 'part of the family.' Paris's African 'back yard,' he wrote in a history of the Rwandan genocide -- in which he made clear his disaffection with French support for the Hutu regime -- 'remains its back yard because all the chicks cackle in French. There is a high degree of symbiosis between French and Francophone African political elites. It is a mixture of many things: old memories, shared material interests, delusions of grandeur, gossip, sexual peccadilloes.' [...]"

"Rwanda Leader's Widow Denied Asylum in France"
Agence France-Presse dispatch (on, 10 January 2007
"The widow of Rwanda's former president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose murder sparked the 1994 genocide, has been denied asylum by France on the grounds she may have played a role in the killing spree, a judicial source said Wednesday. Agathe Habyarimana's July 2004 request for asylum was turned down on January 4 by France's refugee office OFPRA, which said in its ruling that she may have taken part 'as a[n] instigator or accomplice' in the 'crime of genocide.' Habyarimana, who has lived in France since she was evacuated by French troops after the genocide, will have a chance to appeal the decision before a refugees' commission on January 25. One of her lawyers, Philippe Meilhac, denounced the decision as baseless, pointing out that no action has been taken against her by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) trying the perpetrators of the genocide. Habyarimana is a civil plaintiff in a French investigation into the downing of the plane carrying her husband, a Hutu, on April 6, 1994, which touched off the massacre of close to 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis. Rwanda broke diplomatic relations with France last month after the judge in charge of the case called for President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, to face trial over Habyarimana's death. Kagame has always denied any involvement."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Trial and Terror"
By J. Hoberman
The Village Voice, 9 January 2007
"After 20 months and 300 witnesses, 'the horrific has become almost routine.' So the narrator notes late in Verdict on Auschwitz, a 1993 German documentary on the mid-'60s trial of 22 SS men, just now getting an American release. If anything, the story of the Auschwitz genocide factory is today even more familiar—which makes the defamiliarizing 'German' quality of this three-hour doc all the more necessary. Directed by Rolf Bickel and Dietrich Wagner, Verdict on Auschwitz is less epic in its aspirations than Claude Lanzmann's monumental Shoah and less critical in its approach than The Specialist, in which Eyal Sivan revisited the Eichmann trial as theater. The model is Alain Resnais's Night and Fog; Verdict on Auschwitz similarly juxtaposes archival footage and postwar material (both 1963 and 1993) to produce shocking eruptions of past atrocities in the context of an orderly everyday Europe. [...]"


"Fear and Anger in Assam's Village of Dead"
By Subir Bhaumik
BBC Online, 9 January 2007
"The dance of death around this town in the northern Indian state of Assam seems to have abated at least for the moment. But the panic amongst the Hindi-speaking settlers here is all-pervading, despite huge deployment of troops and policemen. 'I don't know why they are killing us. We are poor labourers, we cause no harm to the local Assamese. We only come here to make a living to stay alive,' says Shiv Kumar, who comes from Chhapra district in the impoverished northern state of Bihar. Kumar has worked in a brick factory in the village of Tingri near here for the last 12 years. 'I lost my brother in front of my eyes. His body was riddled with bullets on Friday night,' says Shiv Kumar. 'We will all die here, the police can't protect us,' adds Kumar's neighbour Prem Nath. Nath's brother died on Friday, too, when more than 10 suspected members of the United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), clad in olive green fatigues, stormed into the labourer's colony at Tingri and opened fire with assault rifles. They killed five men. [...]"

"Migrant Workers Massacred in India"
Associated Press dispatch in The Star (Toronto), 6 January 2007
"Suspected separatist rebels fatally shot 42 migrant workers and wounded 19 others in at least 10 separate attacks launched late Friday and early Saturday in India's remote northeast, officials said. The attacks targeted poor, Hindi-speaking migrants mostly from the nearby state of Bihar and were likely carried out by United Liberation Front of Asom rebels, R.N. Mathur, Assam's police chief, told The Associated Press. Most people in the state speak Assamese. Migrant workers are frequently attacked by Assam separatists in an effort to draw the federal government's attention to their claims for autonomy. But this was the worst spate of violence in the region in recent years. The most lethal attack was Saturday's pre-dawn shooting of 13 workers while they slept in the remote town of Sadiya in Assam, 600 kilometres east of the state capital Gauhati, local administrative officer Absar Hazarika said. On Friday, 29 people were fatally shot in several incidents in the tea-growing districts of Tinsukia and Dibrugarh, 500 to 600 kilometres east of Gauhati, Mathur said. Details on individual attacks were not immediately available. ULFA has not claimed responsibility for the attacks and rebel officials don't usually comment on such incidents. [...]"
[n.b. Though it has been all but invisible in the coverage of this event, the latest Assam massacre seems a classic gendercidal attack, targeting Hindi-speaking "daily wage earners and petty traders," according to one Indian police official -- i.e., overwhelmingly poor males, as in the last spate of such attacks in 2000.]

"Monsanto, Cereal Killer GM and Agrarian Suicides in India"
By Alejandro Nadal
ZNet, 6 January 2007
"[...] The Indian Ministry of Agriculture admits to the following figures: there were 100,000 suicides by farmers between 1993 and 2003. And between 2003 and October 2006, there have been some 16,000 suicides by farmers each year. In total, between 1993 and 2006, there were around 150,000 suicide by farmers, 30 a day for 13 years! The Maharashtra government itself accepts the figure of 1,920 farmers’ suicides in Vidarbha between January 2001 and August 2006. Farmers’ organisations of the district state that there were 782 suicides by agricultural producers. Data for the past three months indicate that on average there was a suicide every eight hours. What conditions give rise to a suicide rate of about 30 farmers a day? It is said that the reason for this is indebtedness, but the ultimate reason is the imposition of a completely unsuitable agricultural technology, as much from the economic as from the environmental viewpoint. Anil Shinde had decided to plant Bt cotton, a transgenic variety produced by Monsanto that supposedly reduces the need for insecticides and increases the return for the grower. Shinde is not an exception. Hundreds of farmers who had planted transgenic cotton in the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have sought suicide as way out of a desperate situation that worsens year after year. [...]"


"Court Hears Tape of Saddam Plotting to Gas the Kurds"
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent, 9 January 2007
"The voice of Saddam Hussein was heard in a Baghdad court yesterday discussing the gassing of Kurds with his cousin 'Chemical Ali' Hassan al-Majid. With the chair of the hanged former Iraqi president empty in the dock, the prosecution played a tape in which Saddam allegedly discusses using chemical weapons on Kurds. 'I will strike them with chemical weapons and kill them all,' a voice said to be Mr. Majid is heard saying. 'Who is going to say anything? The international community? A curse on the international community!' Another voice, said to be Saddam's, says, 'Yes, it's effective, especially on those who don't wear a mask immediately, as we understand.' A third voice, from the back, asks: 'Sir, does it exterminate thousands?' 'Saddam' responds: 'Yes, it exterminates thousands and forces them not to eat or drink and they will have to evacuate their homes without taking anything with them.' Yesterday's proceedings began with the judge officially dismissing all charges against the dead president, including genocide, in relation to the Anfal campaign against the Kurds in which more than 100,000 people were killed. [...]"

"Grim Images of Massacre Found on US Laptops"
By Josh White
The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 January 2007
"United States investigators have tracked down dozens of gruesome photographs taken by marines of 24 Iraqi civilians massacred in Haditha. The images, found on laptop computers and digital media drives, provide evidence of a series of shootings beside a taxi and inside three homes that military criminal investigators have alleged were murders. The images have provided the Naval Criminal Investigative Service with powerful and visceral evidence of what happened in Haditha on November 19, 2005. Many photographs were on laptop computers that had been shipped back to the US, and deleted images were also recovered from a Sony PlayStation Portable memory drive, investigative documents showed. Marines were found to have downloaded the images from each other's devices, traded them and loaded them onto personal websites. One marine told investigators he saw some photographs set to music on another marine's computer. Some were emailed from Iraq to a civilian in the US. [...]"

"Shiite Happens"
By Charles Krauthammer
National Review Online, 5 January 2007
"[...] True, Saddam's hanging was just and, in principle, nonsectarian. But the next hanging might not be. Breaking precedent completely undermines the death penalty provision, opening the way to future revenge and otherwise lawless hangings. Moreover, Maliki's rush to execute short-circuited the judicial process that was at the time considering Saddam's crimes against the Kurds. He was hanged for the killing of 148 men and boys in the Shiite village of Dujail. This was a perfectly good starting point -- a specific incident as a prelude to an inquiry into the larger canvas of his crimes. The trial for his genocidal campaign against the Kurds was just beginning. That larger canvas will never be painted. The starting point became the endpoint. The only charge for which Saddam was executed was that 1982 killing of Shiites -- interestingly, his response to a failed assassination attempt by Maliki's own Dawa Party. Maliki ultimately got his revenge, completing Dawa's mission a quarter-century later. However, Saddam will now never be tried for the Kurdish genocide, the decimation of the Marsh Arabs, the multiple war crimes and all the rest. Finally, there was the motley crew -- handpicked by the government -- that constituted the hanging party. They turned what was an act of national justice into a scene of sectarian vengeance. The world has now seen the smuggled video of the shouting and taunting that turned Saddam into the most dignified figure in the room -- another remarkable achievement in burnishing the image of the most evil man of his time. [...]"


"Israeli Documentary Captures Citizen Reconciliation -- and Encourages More"
By Ilene R. Prusher
The Christian Science Monitor, 10 January 2007
"With Kassam rockets falling more often than rain, this is a town where it would be easy to give up hope. But four young women -- an Israeli-Canadian, a Palestinian, a Jewish-American, and a Brazilian -- want to present a different picture. The result is 'Encounter Point,' a new documentary being shown in theaters around Israel and the US. It's set to be aired across the Arab world on Al Arabiyah satellite TV. For viewers here or anywhere else in the region or world affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the film is a chance to hear those on both sides not just talking, but listening. 'Encounter Point' is indeed a movie with a mission of fostering dialogue, in large part by discovering that many Arabs and Jews who have lost immediate family members are already engaged in the conversation, despite what seems like a rising tide of hostility. The film profiles real yet extraordinary Israelis and Palestinians, some who meet regularly as part of the Bereaved Families Forum or with other groups that promote reconciliation. These meetings show that at the heart of the war zone, people are going to great lengths to meet one another -- and to convince their countrymen to give peace another chance. 'We are hoping that "Encounter Point" can be the beginning of some constructive communitywide dialogue,' says producer Nahanni Rous, a Jewish-American woman who grew up in New Hampshire, spent several years in Israel, and now lives in Washington. [...]"


"Ruling on Shining Path Rebels Angers Peru"
Reuters dispatch in The New York Times, 10 January 2007 [Registration Required]
"A ruling by an international human rights court telling Peru’s government to honor 41 leftist rebels killed in a 1992 prison raid has provoked public indignation, and the government is considering withdrawing from the court. The ruling has reopened scars of a rebellion that raged from 1980 to 1998. Javier Velásquez, leader of the governing APRA party in Congress, said after meeting with President Alan García on Monday that the authorities were mulling Peru’s withdrawal from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which issued the ruling. The court serves to uphold and promote human rights in the Americas under the 1969 American Convention on Human Rights. The court demanded in December that the government apologize for the bloody 1992 raid on the Miguel Castro prison, pay compensation to the families of 41 rebels from the Maoist Shining Path group killed there and put their names on a monument to thousands of victims of hostilities in Peru. The verdict set off a wave of anger in Peru over what many see as honoring terrorists and killers."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Terror, Bribery and Intrigue: The Bloody Past Fuelling Lima's Literary Renaissance"
By Rory Carroll
The Guardian, 5 January 2007
"It was a cruel, bloody and terrifying era. Rebels slaughtered villagers in the mountains and hung dogs from power lines, their carcasses daubed with Maoist slogans. The state responded with a Machiavellian mix of assassination, bribery and intrigue which brought down the rebel leader but also triggered the fall of the president. Some call that period in Peru's history a successful counter-insurgency. Others call it a cautionary tale about the cost to democracy of fighting terrorism. Others simply call it a nightmare. Whatever you call it, however, there is no denying one thing: it is a great story. Now, more than a decade after the waning of the Shining Path rebellion, the conflict's legacy is fuelling a literary renaissance. Peruvian writers are blazing a trail through Spanish and English language publishing with books exploring a saga as fascinating as it is painful. In the past year two of the three top literary prizes in Spanish have been won by novelists from the capital, Lima. Alonso Cueto won the Herralde award for The Blue Hour, about a lawyer who discovers that his naval officer father tortured prisoners. Santiago Roncagliolo received the Alfaguara prize for Red April, which follows a prosecutor's attempt to unravel a murder in Ayacucho, a pre-Inca citadel which became a cradle of the Shining Path in the 1970s. Daniel Alarcón, who was born in Lima but grew up in the US and writes in English, was shortlisted for the 2006 PEN/Hemingway award for his short story collection, War by Candlelight. [...]"


"Genocide Trial for Rwanda Prefect"
By Robert Walker
BBC Online, 7 January 2007
"The trial of a former Rwandan official accused of being a main perpetrator of the genocide is due to begin at the UN war crimes tribunal in Tanzania. Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, former prefect of the Rwandan capital, Kigali, faces charges of genocide and complicity in genocide. Some 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis, were killed by Hutu extremists during the massacres in 1994. Col. Renzaho, who was arrested in DR Congo in 2002, has denied the charges. During the genocide in Rwanda, Col Renzaho was in control of the capital's police force and local officials. But rather than using this authority to stop the killings, it is alleged that he incited Hutus to kill members of the Tutsi minority. The prosecution says Col Renzaho used state radio to instruct the police and army, as well as civilians, to man roadblocks so they could identify and intercept Tutsis. It is alleged he told local officials that anyone with a Tutsi wife should also be deemed Inyenzi -- a cockroach -- the term used by Hutu extremists to describe Tutsis. Col. Renzaho faces life imprisonment if convicted. [...]"


"Ethiopia's Invasion of Somalia Has U.S. Fingerprints"
By Amina Mire
The Progressive, 4 January 2007
"For the average American, the current Ethiopian invasion of Somalia is just another military operation taking place in a distant land in the war against Islamic terror. For Somalis, this invasion is nothing short of a humiliating catastrophe. ... The reason the Islamists rose to power in the Somali capital of Mogadishu in the first place was because the CIA covertly financed Somali warlords, channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars over the past year to them, according to news reports. Many Somalis, who are not religious, saw their own safety and security improved under the rule of the Islamists. They were willing to give them sufficient time to clean the streets of guns and violence. After restoring law and order on the streets, the Islamists could have chosen to modernize, albeit slowly, some of their interpretations and the applications of Islamic Shariah law, which are already part of the Somali cultural value system. A large number of Somalis living overseas were willing to return to Somalia and rebuild the country once peace and security were ensured. But now, we are back to the old, ugly days where teenage boys toting AK-47s in the back of pickup trucks terrorize the local population. ... The Somali population is armed to the teeth, humiliated and angry. It will vent its anger not only against the occupying forces but also against those who brought the occupying forces into the country -- the United States. Unless quickly defused, the situation in Somalia could turn into a killing field. After more than a decade of civil war and amid a subcontinent torn by genocide in Rwanda and Sudan, the future of Somalia again looks grim -- thanks, in part, to U.S. policy."


"Genocide Charge Laid against TAC Head"
By Murray Williams and Jillian Green
Cape Argus (on, 11 January 2007
"A charge of genocide has been laid against Treatment Action Campaign head Zackie Achmat at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, for promoting the provision and use of antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV. This is the latest attack in the long-running battle between the TAC and its arch-rivals who vehemently oppose the use of ARVs. The TAC has been at the forefront of the battle to get the government to provide the drugs to HIV-positive people. A 59-page criminal complaint has been laid against Achmat by Cape Town advocate Anthony Brink of the Treatment Information Group (TIG). Brink admits that he gets funding from a foundation set up by controversial Aids treatment figure Dr Matthias Rath. In documents, he calls on the court to charge and find Achmat 'guilty of genocide -- the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.' He alleges that Achmat has played a 'direct criminal role in the deaths of thousands of South Africans from poisoning from so-called antiretroviral drugs.' He said on Thursday morning from his home in Tamboerskloof: 'Recent research data cited in the complaint (submitted at The Hague) demonstrates (ARVs) are killing thousands of people in South Africa -- mostly black and mostly poor. TAC leader Zackie Achmat correctly claims personal responsibility for getting these drugs into the public health system, and, accordingly, is personally criminally culpable for the deadly consequences.' Brink has asked the court to impose the harshest sentence on him -- 'permanent confinement in a small white steel and concrete cage, bright fluorescent light on all the time to keep an eye on him.' A TAC spokesperson described the complaint as 'the rantings and ravings of a madman' and said it 'does not deserve comment.' According to the latest available statistics, an estimated 5,5 million people are HIV-positive in South Africa. At least 500 000 of them need to be on ARV treatment."
[n.b. Provided for curiosity more than anything else; it is hard to disagree with the evaluation of the TAC spokesman that this is madness.]


"Africa's Inferno"
By Brian Brivati
New Statesman, 15 January 2007
"[...] It is clear what needs to be done to bring peace to Darfur. But will it happen? A humanitarian disaster is unfolding before our eyes and cannot be prevented. A hybrid force may gradually be deployed over the next eight or nine months, by which time many thousands will have died and the government and rebels alike will have become radicalised by each other's actions. The fighting will continue to spill into neighbouring states. The civil war in Sudan between north and south may start again. But the long-term consequences of Darfur will go far beyond these terrible possibilities. They will be profound for the system of international relations in the post-Iraq-war world and they will seriously challenge European ideas of the universalism of human rights. This universalism holds that there are some things that all human beings should enjoy and some things no human being should endure. Western imperialism can be blamed for many things, but there is no imperialist explanation for why African, Asian and Arab states do not act over Darfur. They face no logistical obstacle to establishing a no-fly zone. The problem is one of will, not agency or capability. What ought to unite us against genocide is that, in the end, there is no conceivable geopolitical gain to be had from working with genocidal regimes. The path they have embarked upon has no strategic dimension and it will, in time, self-destruct. These are allies you do not wish to have, neighbours you cannot trust, crimes you cannot live with."

"Sudanese President Says U.N. Forces Are Not Needed in Darfur"
Associated Press dispatch in USA Today, 10 January 2007
"Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir rejected Wednesday the deployment of U.N. troops in Darfur, saying they were not required and that African Union troops could maintain order in the war-wracked region of western Sudan. His comment contradicted statements by Sudanese officials, who said last month the government would accept a limited number of U.N. forces, as well those of AU officials who had proposed that the world body take over peacekeeping in Darfur. 'Our experience with U.N. operations in the world is not encouraging,' al-Bashir told an Associated Press reporter Wednesday at his residence. 'There are sufficient forces in the Sudan from African countries to maintain order, and they can provide order,' al-Bashir said. Meanwhile, the U.N. mission in Sudan said Wednesday that over 20 people were killed and 14 wounded during tribal fighting in North Darfur. The U.N. said the clashes occurred between the Mima and Zaghawa tribes on Monday and Tuesday, less than 100 miles from El Fasher as Richardson was visiting the North Darfur capital. The U.N. statement did not say why the fighting occurred. [...]"

"Sudan Orders Air Strikes on Darfur Before Arrival of UN Peacekeepers"
By Jonathan Erasmus
The Daily Telegraph, 8 January 2007
"The Sudanese government has unleashed a fresh aerial bombing campaign in Darfur in an attempt to inflict as much damage as possible on rebel forces before United Nations troops arrive in the region. Under the Darfur Peace Agreement, Sudan agreed not to continue aerial attacks over the region. But rebels claim villages have been bombed. Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships are reported to have attacked villages and fired on civilians in open defiance of UN efforts to bring an end to the fighting. The attacks are in breach of UN Security Council resolution 1591, passed in March 2005, forbidding 'offensive military flights in and over the Darfur region.' The new surge of attacks is targeting rebel strongholds throughout Darfur, where militias have secured key territories. The African Union force commander, Major Gen Luke Aprezi, confirmed the attacks and said they followed talks with rebel groups in which he agreed a ceasefire commitment that he now fears may no longer hold. In October, The Sunday Telegraph witnessed Sudanese soldiers loading bombs on to Antonov aircraft at El Fasher air base in North Darfur before a number of villages were attacked. Last week, new arrivals at the Otash camp in the South Darfur capital, Nyala, said they were forced to flee their villages when government helicopter gunships opened fire on them. 'Out of nowhere, helicopters were over the village firing at us,' said Asir Ibrahim, who fled his home near the southern town of Buram. 'I called my wife and children from my home and we starting running. Some people were hit, but it was such mayhem I don't know what happened to many of them. I don't know whether they fled or were killed.' [...]"

"The Black Holocaust"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 7 January 2007
"[...] In the last days before he left office on December 24, Kofi Annan, still painfully cognizant of his complicity in the Rwanda genocide, was pressing the National Islamic Front government in Khartoum to fulfill its agreement to this most recent U.N. resolution to save untold thousands of black Muslim lives in Darfur and the refugee camps. But he was honest enough to say, the day before he left, that he takes 'nothing for granted,' in view of his experiences with General al-Bashir. The doomsday prospect of another monstrous shell game by al-Bashir was laid out last month by Eric Reeves, the single most continuously authoritative analyst of Khartoum's crimes against its own people. A professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, Reeves has for years devoted most of his life to alerting the world to this black holocaust. As prospects seemed to brighten for a change in al-Bashir's cold, cold heart, Reeves set the scene on his website, 'The U.S. attempts to bluff Khartoum's genocidaires with "Plan B"; Kofi Annan seeks to burnish his legacy ... the European Union and Canada offer nothing but more bluster; the Arab League continues its mendacious ways; the African Union is a shambles ... Full-scale humanitarian collapse in Darfur looms ever closer even as the violence that will occasion the collapse relentlessly increases. Hundreds of humanitarian workers have been evacuated in recent weeks from North Darfur and eastern Chad. ... This is the ghastly, inescapable syllogism of genocidal destruction in Darfur.' [...]"

"Renewed Push for Peace in Darfur"
By Evelyn Leopold
Reuters dispatch in The Main & Guardian (South Africa), 6 January 2007
"The United Nations and the African Union announced on Friday a new push for peace talks in Sudan's Darfur region to get splinter rebel groups and the government to stop fighting each other. The Khartoum government and one rebel group signed a peace agreement last April. But since then violence has escalated, Sudan has sent troops into Darfur, where at least 200 000 people have died in three years, and UN efforts for a robust peacekeeping force have been stalled by Khartoum. Jan Eliasson, a former Swedish foreign minister, UN official and the current special envoy for Darfur, told reporters the object was to reduce the level of violence through the political process. But Eliasson said his job was not to negotiate a peacekeeping force, which would be done by other UN officials. Elliasson left on Friday for meetings at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, after which he will go to Khartoum and then Darfur before returning to Addis Ababa for an AU summit, the UN said. He and Salim Ahmed Salim, the AU's Darfur envoy, conferred with new UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, who will also go to the AU summit. Sudan has more or less agreed to a 'hybrid' AU-UN force in Darfur, but has rejected the 20,000 peacekeepers and police the Security Council wanted to send to support the 7,000 under-equipped AU troops now in Darfur. An AU-UN team is to work out the numbers. [...]"


"Zimbabwe, The Land of Dying Children"
By R.W. Johnson
The Sunday Times, 7 January 2007
"Suffer the little children is a phrase never far from your mind in today’s Zimbabwe. The horde of painfully thin street children milling around you at traffic lights is almost the least of it: in a population now down to 11m or less there are an estimated 1.3m orphans. Go to one of the overflowing cemeteries in Bulawayo or Beit Bridge and you are struck by the long lines of tiny graves for babies and toddlers. A game ranger friend tells me that hyena attacks on humans, previously unheard of, have become increasingly common. 'So many babies, not all of them dead, are being dumped in the bush that hyenas have developed a taste for human flesh,' he explains. Under the weight of the general economic meltdown -- the economy has shrunk by 40% since 2000 and is still contracting — the health system has collapsed and a populace now weakened by five consecutive years of near-starvation dies of things which would never have been fatal before. A staggering 42,000 women died in childbirth last year, for example, compared with fewer than 1,000 a decade ago. A vast human cull is under way in Zimbabwe and the great majority of deaths are a direct result of deliberate government policies. Ignored by the United Nations, it is a genocide perhaps 10 times greater than Darfur’s and more than twice as large as Rwanda's. Genocide is not a word one should use hastily but the situation is exactly as described in the UN Convention on Genocide, which defines it as 'deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.' ... After Rwanda, the UN vowed 'never again' but [Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe -- and, to a considerable extent, [South African President Thabo] Mbeki -- have already been responsible for far more deaths than Rwanda suffered and the number is fast heading into realms previously explored only by Stalin, Mao and Adolf Eichmann. [...]"


"Pollution Crisis Forces Iran to Clean Up Air"
By Robert Tait
The Sydney Morning Herald, 11 January 2007
"Officials in Iran have warned that the notoriously polluted air of its capital could cause a catastrophe, after figures showed 120 people a day had died from toxic fumes. The potential effects have been compared to those of a large earthquake, with 3600 people reported to have died from pollution-related illnesses in four weeks during October and November. The figures were released by officials heading a government program to cut pollution in Tehran, home to 12 million people. The statistics add to last year's 9900 reported deaths from the effects of nitrous oxide and dust particles. Environmentalists say the poisonous cocktail is compounded by 2 million tonnes of carbon monoxide and 180,000 tonnes of hydrocarbons pumped out annually. From tomorrow, city authorities will offer free air filters and services to the owners of Paykans, the Iranian-built cars that are blamed for many of the environmental problems. About 1000 old buses will be withdrawn and gas-fuelled buses and taxis will be introduced. The head of Tehran city council's clean air office, Mohammed Hadi Haidarzadeh, said life in the city amounted to 'mass suicide.' 'The danger posed by Tehran's air pollution crisis is no less than an earthquake, with the difference that the destructive effects of an earthquake are instantaneous, whereas air pollution kills innocent people gradually,' he said. [...]"
[n.b. With respect to Mr. Haidarzadeh, earthquakes are natural phenomena, and choking pollution a man-made one; which suggests that a better analogy than "mass suicide" would be "mass killing."]


"Sudan to Probe Allegations of UN Sex Abuse"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 4 January 2007
"Sudan on Thursday described the alleged sexual abuse of children by United Nations peacekeepers in south Sudan as 'outrageous' and said it would launch its own investigation into the affair. The UN said on Wednesday it was investigating 13 cases of serious misconduct, including sexual abuse and exploitation in south Sudan. Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper said on Wednesday that UN peacekeepers and civilian staff were raping and abusing children as young as 12 in southern Sudan. The paper said it had interviewed 20 young victims in the south Sudan capital, Juba. 'We are very concerned. It is outrageous,' foreign ministry spokesperson Ali al-Sadig told Reuters. 'If anyone has committed such crimes they should face the full weight of the law,' he added. He said the Khartoum government would launch an investigation into the matter. Any UN personnel found guilty of such crimes would be dealt with by the UN and not under Sudanese law. More than 11,000 UN police and troops are in Sudan to monitor a north-south peace deal, which will mark its second anniversary next week. [...]"
[n.b. See also "U.N. Probes over 300 for Alleged Sexual Abuse," Associated Press dispatch on, 6 January 2007,]

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