Monday, March 12, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
March 6-12, 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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"Amnesty Bill Clears Hurdle in Kabul"
Reuters dispatch in The New York Times, 11 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"The lower house of the Afghan Parliament passed a revised bill on Saturday that called for amnesty for groups involved in war crimes, lawmakers said. It also recognized the right of victims to seek justice. It was not immediately clear when the bill would go to the upper house and be signed into law by President Hamid Karzai. Parliament, which includes several warlords, last month passed the original version of the bill, which granted immunity to all Afghans involved in the country's long conflict, despite calls by human rights groups for war crimes trials. Earlier Saturday, President Karzai praised Parliament's 'important initiative' to promote national reconciliation and stability, but he proposed adding the article that also 'safeguards the victim's rights and punishment of an individual who committed crimes against an individual.' Last month, tens of thousands of supporters of former mujahedeen leaders rallied in Kabul to press President Karzai to sign the bill into law. [...]"


"Crisis Talks to Save Khmer Rouge Trial"
By Ian MacKinnon
The Guardian, 7 March 2007
"Critical talks to avert the collapse of a genocide trial for the extermination of 1.7 million Cambodians by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime began in Phnom Penh today. A high-level committee of Cambodian and international judges is to meet over the next 10 days, in a final effort to thrash out the ground rules for the special war crimes tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge's senior leaders. But the UN-appointed international judges have warned that if agreement cannot be reached on a framework to enable a fair trial that meets the highest standards, they will pull out. Critical talks to avert the collapse of a genocide trial for the extermination of 1.7 million Cambodians by Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime began in Phnom Penh today. A high-level committee of Cambodian and international judges is to meet over the next 10 days, in a final effort to thrash out the ground rules for the special war crimes tribunal to try the Khmer Rouge's senior leaders. But the UN-appointed international judges have warned that if agreement cannot be reached on a framework to enable a fair trial that meets the highest standards, they will pull out. Two attempts to resolve the differences, in November and January, failed. But officials of the court, where Cambodian judges are in a majority and thus have a veto, are optimistic some contentious issues have been resolved in informal discussions. The collapse of the trial to hold the Khmer Rouge's senior leaders accountable for the torture, starvation and execution of so many in the 'killing fields' would dash the hopes of Cambodians who have waited almost 30 years for answers. After almost a decade of wrangling between the UN and the Cambodian government, the special court's three-year mandate began last July, fostering hopes that hearings could begin within months. Yet, even if the rules are agreed and indictments are served, as few as 10 of the most senior Khmer Rouge leaders and those 'most responsible' for the genocide are likely to appear in the dock. [...]"


"A Dark Underbelly of Mass Graves and Electoral Fraud"
By Isabel Hilton
The Guardian, 8 March 2007
"Bush will be the first US president to visit Bogota since John Kennedy, and only in Colombia will he find an unconditional friend in President Alvaro Uribe, whom he has praised as an ally and granted billions of dollars in military aid. But on the eve of the visit, Bush's best friend is becoming his biggest embarrassment. Uribe leads a country mired in corruption, violence and drugs -- the source of 90% of the cocaine in the US -- and where critics of the government receive death threats and drug barons and death squad leaders win amnesty. Uribe didn't invent Colombia's problems -- it has endured 40 years of civil war and narcotics flourished long before he became president in 2002. But Uribe, who changed the constitution to permit his own re-election last year, has devised a 'peace' plan that has opened the door to a future incorporation of amnestied narco-paramilitary groups into Colombian politics, who have close ties with Uribe's own political machine. As Massachusetts congressman Jim McGovern put it: 'President Uribe's main step towards "peace" has been a likely deal with the paramilitaries that will allow them to pay brief sentences in luxurious jails despite having massacred thousands of innocent people, while avoiding extradition despite having sent tons of drugs to my country.' ... Some 31,000 paramilitary fighters have accepted Uribe's demobilisation programme, gaining virtual immunity for past crimes. The president claims increased security and a dramatic drop in human rights abuse, but human rights organisations disagree and the recent discovery of mass graves attests to a four-year rise in disappearances. [...]"


"Rufina Amaya, 64, Dies"
By Douglas Martin
The New York Times, 9 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"Rufina Amaya, who in 1981 saw Salvadoran troops slaughter her family and many others in her village, then, as the only witness, dedicated her life to telling about it, died Tuesday in San Miguel, El Salvador. She was 64. The cause was a stroke, said her daughter Marta. Mrs. Amaya escaped government soldiers on the morning of Dec. 11, 1981, as they killed all the men, women and children in her village, El Mozote. There and in the surrounding area, the Catholic Office of Human Rights in El Salvador said, 809 victims have now been identified, many found in mass graves. After Rufina Amaya returned to El Salvador from a Honduran refugee camp in 1990, moving to a nearby village, she worked as a lay pastor for the local Roman Catholic church and led what she called 'reflection groups.' She received a ceaseless stream of visitors from around the world. Again and again, she told of seeing her husband being beheaded and hearing her daughter's mortal scream, after she miraculously found a hiding place. 'God saved me because he needed someone to tell the story of what happened,' she said in 1996 in an interview with The New York Times. Her most significant influence came less than a month after the massacre. Both the Salvadoran and American governments were denying the atrocity, despite protests from church groups and others. After The Times and The Washington Post reported the killings on Jan. 27, 1982, both extensively quoting Mrs. Amaya as well as citing their own observations of human remains, the debate grew sharper. The United States and Salvadoran governments insisted that any dead were probably armed rebels. In 1992 the exhumation of bodies, first those of many children, began. The atrocity could no longer be denied. [...]"


"Hussein Official Denies Genocide"
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 6 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"A top member of Saddam Hussein's former regime said Monday that there 'was no genocide' against Iraqi Kurds and blamed Iran for an infamous 1988 poison gas attack on a Kurdish town. Tarik Aziz, whose posts included foreign minister and deputy prime minister, told a special tribunal that Iraq did not possess the nerve agents used to kill an estimated 5,000 people in Halabja, an attack that became a worldwide symbol of the Anfal campaign against the ethnic Kurds in northern Iraq. Aziz, appearing as a defense witness, said such chemicals were held by Iran, which battled Hussein's regime during a 1980-88 war. 'You can check with experts,' he told judges overseeing the trial of six former officials charged with various crimes against humanity for the 1980s crackdown on the Kurds, which killed an estimated 100,000. 'There was no genocide against the Kurds ... Those defendants were honest officers who defended their country and fought Iran,' Aziz said. Prosecutors have read from documents showing that dozens of villages were destroyed, thousands of people displaced and children separated from their families. They also have played an audiotape with the alleged voice of Hussein warning, 'These weapons are only used at my orders,' and assuring colleagues that the weapons 'kill by the thousands.' Aziz also called Hussein a 'hero and patriot for Iraq sovereignty.' The former dictator was hanged Dec. 30 for the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt."


"Egypt Anger over 1967 'Massacre'"
BBC Online, 5 March 2007
"An Israeli Cabinet member has postponed a trip to Egypt, amid media reports his army unit may have killed 250 Egyptian POWs during the 1967 Middle East war. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer denies the allegations, saying the dead were Palestinian fighters killed in combat. Mr. Ben-Eliezer, Israel's infrastructure minister, had been due in Cairo this week to discuss natural gas imports. 'Following false publications in the Egyptian press, both sides decided to postpone,' his spokesman said. A senior Israeli official quoted anonymously by AFP said the affair was becoming a major diplomatic incident. 'The relations between the two countries are compromised,' the official was quoted saying. ... The claims were aired last week in an Israeli documentary, described by its director as a 'self-examination' of Israel's use of force during the war. 'In Egypt, the opposition is taking the story and distorting it into an issue to disrupt the peace,' film-maker Ron Edelist said on Israel Army Radio. The Egyptian media reports said the documentary showed that Mr. Ben-Eliezer's unit killed 250 Egyptian prisoners of war in the Sinai peninsula rather than taking them to POW camps. ... Israel captured the arid Sinai peninsula from Egypt in the Six Day war of 1967. The two sides signed a peace treaty in 1979 which saw the territory returned. Claims that Israeli troops massacred about 1,000 Egyptian POWs in several incidents in Sinai were first raised in 1995 by Israeli military researcher Aryeh Yitzhaki. At the time Mr. Ben-Eliezer said he was not aware of any POW killings by his troops. The story soured relations between Israel and Egypt for months."


"German Bishops Rile Holocaust Memorial"
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 10 March 2007
"The director of Israel's Holocaust memorial has said he was 'appalled and surprised' by comments three Roman Catholic bishops from Germany made that compared conditions in the West Bank to the Holocaust. 'The remarks illustrate a woeful ignorance of history and a distorted sense of perspective. Israel's actions do not bear any resemblance to the Nazis,' Avner Shalev, director of the Yad Vashem memorial, wrote in a letter Tuesday to Cardinal Karl Lehmann, head of the German Bishops Conference. He said was especially disappointed because Lehmann, who led a delegation to Israel and the West Bank last week, had shown a 'deep understanding of the Holocaust and its significance for Jews, Germans and the entire world.' The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, one of Germany's largest newspapers, reported that during the visit, Bishop Gregor Maria Hanke of Eichstaett commented on conditions endured by Palestinians. 'Photos of the inhuman Warsaw ghetto at Yad Vashem in the morning, in the evening we go to the ghetto in Ramallah -- that blows your lid off," Hanke said. Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg also spoke of 'ghetto-like conditions' in the West Bank. [...]"

"Bishops Equate Israel's Actions to Holocaust"
By Eldad Beck, 6 March 2007
"'This morning we saw pictures of the Warsaw ghetto at Yad Vashem and this evening we are going to the Ramallah ghetto.' Several hours earlier on Sunday you probably would not have heard German Bishop Gregor Maria Franz Hanke choose such a divisive analogy. But then on Sunday morning he was still in Israel and the rhetoric was considerably different than the one elected by the German Bishops' Conference once they crossed over in to the Palestinian Authority on Sunday evening. The visit of 27 members of the German Bishops' Conference to Israel included a historic first-time visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem as well as guided tours of sites holy to Christianity and meetings with Christian congregations in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority. During their time in Israel the bishops uniformly made moderate and balanced statements, but once in the PA they provided German reporters accompanying them with a plethora of harsh proclamations against Israel. Their criticism received widespread coverage in the German media on Monday. While crossing one of the checkpoints into East Jerusalem the Archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, told reporters: 'This is something that is done to animals, not people.' Meisner, a resident of eastern Germany, said that the fence reminded him of the Berlin Wall and that in his lifetime he did not believe he would see such a thing again. As the Berlin Wall was brought down so will this wall be brought down, he said, adding that the fence served no purpose. The delegation's visit to Ramallah took place several hours after their visit to Yad Vashem and several of the bishops chose to equate the situation in the Palestinian Authority with the Holocaust. 'Cages in the image of ghettos,' said the Bishop of Augsburg of the territories. ... 'Israel has, of course, the right to exist, but this right cannot be realized in such a brutal manner,' said Bishop Hanke, who later stated that he intends to amend this year's Easter message to German churches so as to include the delegation's political impressions from their visit to the territories and a demand to change the situation."


"Denial Reopens Wounds of Japan's Ex-Sex Slaves"
By Norimitsu Onishi
The New York Times, 8 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"Wu Hsiu-mei said she was 23 and working as a maid in a hotel in 1940 when her Taiwanese boss handed her over to Japanese officers. She and some 15 other women were sent to Guangdong Province in southern China to become sex slaves. Among the victims of Japanese sexual slavery addressing a conference in Sydney were, top, from left, Wu Hsiu-mei of Taiwan; Jan Ruff O’Herne, an Australian formerly from Java; and bottom, Gil Won-ok, a South Korean. Inside a hotel there was a so-called comfort station, managed by a Taiwanese but serving only the Japanese military, Ms. Wu said. Forced to have sex with more than 20 Japanese a day for almost a year, she said, she had multiple abortions and became sterile. The long festering issue of Japan's war-era sex slaves gained new prominence last week when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the military’s role in coercing the women into servitude. The denial by Mr. Abe, Japan’s first prime minister born after the war, drew official protests from China, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines, some of the countries from which the sex slaves were taken. The furor highlighted yet again Japan's unresolved history in a region where it has been ceding influence to China. The controversy has also drawn in the United States, which has strongly resisted entering the history disputes that have roiled East Asia in recent years. [...]"

"China Raps Japan over Sex Slaves"
BBC Online, 6 March 2007
"Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing says Japan should face up to history and take responsibility for its army's use of sex slaves during World War II. He was speaking after Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe caused controversy last week by questioning whether women were 'coerced' into sexual slavery. Mr. Abe has said Japan will not go beyond a 1993 apology on the issue. Many historians say Japan compelled up to 200,000 women, mostly Chinese and Korean, to become sex slaves. But some Japanese scholars deny that force was used to round up the women, blaming private contractors for any abuses. Mr. Li told a press conference in Beijing that the treatment of so-called comfort women 'is one of the serious crimes committed by the Japanese militarists in World War II. This is a historical fact,' he stressed. 'I believe the Japanese government should face up to this part of history, take responsibility, seriously view and properly handle this issue,' he added. South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon has already described Mr Abe's remarks as 'not helpful.' The US House of Representatives is currently considering a non-binding resolution calling on Tokyo to 'formally acknowledge, apologise and accept historical responsibility' for the treatment of the women. The draft text was debated last week, and three former comfort women gave evidence, describing the rape and torture they endured at the hands of the Japanese soldiers. [...]"


"Exhibit Considers Nazis' Deadly Medicine"
By Dan Nephin
Associated Press dispatch on, 11 March 2007
"Adolf Hitler used the theory of eugenics in his quest to create a master race, legitimizing the murder of thousands deemed unfit for the German race and culminating in the genocide of 6 million Jews. But the idea behind eugenics -- improving a population's health through genetics -- was hardly unique to Germany, as shown by a traveling exhibit developed by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and on display at The Andy Warhol Museum. 'Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race' uses 200 photographs, videotaped survivor stories and several dozen artifacts to trace eugenics' development as a perversion of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution to its Nazi justification for genocide. The exhibit also looks at eugenics in other countries, including Norway, Spain, Brazil, Japan and the United States, where nearly 300 'eugenic sterilizations' were done at Mendocino State Hospital between 1909 and 1935. Perhaps most chilling is how seemingly easy its noble-sounding goal was twisted. After all, who could argue against improving health? [...]"

"Jews 'Partly Responsible' For Their Troubles: Churchill"
Agence France-Presse on Yahoo! News, 10 March 2007
"The Second World War prime minister Winston Churchill argued that Jews were 'partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer' in an article publicised for the first time Sunday. Churchill made the claim in an article entitled 'How The Jews Can Combat Persecution' written in 1937, three years before he started leading the country. He outlined a new wave of anti-Semitism sweeping across Europe and the United States, which was followed by the deaths of millions of Jews in the Holocaust under the German Nazi regime. 'It would be easy to ascribe it to the wickedness of the persecutors, but that does not fit all the facts,' the article read. 'It exists even in lands, like Great Britain and the United States, where Jew and Gentile are equal in the eyes of the law and where large numbers of Jews have found not only asylum, but opportunity. These facts must be faced in any analysis of anti-Semitism. They should be pondered especially by the Jews themselves. For it may be that, unwittingly, they are inviting persecution -- that they have been partly responsible for the antagonism from which they suffer.' The article adds: 'The central fact which dominates the relations of Jew and non-Jew is that the Jew is "different." He looks different. He thinks differently. He has a different tradition and background. He refuses to be absorbed.' Elsewhere, Churchill praised Jews as 'sober, industrious, law-abiding' and urged Britons to stand up for the race against persecution. 'There is no virtue in a tame acquiescence in evil. To protest against cruelty and wrong, and to strive to end them, is the mark of a man,' he wrote. [...]"

"Dying To Know"
By Anne Applebaum, 6 March 2007
"Anyone who has ever had the good luck to work in old archives knows how surprising they can be. A thick and unappetizing file might, with patience, yield up a wealth of interesting detail; a pile of yellowed papers can contain the solution to an old riddle. Recently, an amateur archivist stumbled across the letters of Otto Frank, Anne Frank's father, in a collection of documents that had been gathering dust in the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research for 30 years -- proving that there was still more to learn, even about the most famous of all Holocaust victims, even in the middle of New York City. Incredible though it sounds, there could be many more such surprises to come -- given that the largest, most definitive, and so far most inaccessible of Holocaust archives has yet to be opened to scholars or anyone else. Officially known as the International Tracing Service, this archive contains files on more than 17 million people who passed through the concentration camps and forced labor camps of the Third Reich, as well as the displaced persons camps that sprang up across Europe after the war. In 1955, the Allied powers deposited these records in Bad Arolsen, Germany. Legally, they were placed under the aegis of an 11-nation treaty. In practice, they were put under the day-to-day management of the International Committee of the Red Cross. And there they remained, almost entirely under lock and key. Outside scholars were not permitted inside Bad Arolsen. Victims who requested documents were put on a waiting list decades long. ... Last summer, things changed. The commission finally decided to alter the treaty and to make digital copies of the documents available to member countries. Under a certain amount of international pressure, the ICRC fired the weirdly secretive archive director. Under quite a lot of international pressure, the German government had a change of heart. Some of the digitization is already under way. And yet, although commission members are meeting in Holland this week, supposedly to make final arrangements, it's still far from clear that they will finish the process soon. Sixty-two years after the end of World War II, how can this be? In whose interest can it possibly be to keep Holocaust archives closed? [...]"


"Norway's Aryan Children Go to Court over Years of Prejudice"
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 8 March 2007
"They claim they were locked up in mental homes and denied education, the victims of a monstrous Nazi scheme and decades of public prejudice. Now a group of Norwegian 'war children,' born as part of a German plan to create a genetically pure race, are taking their case to the European court of human rights, demanding compensation and recognition of their suffering from the government in Oslo. Up to 12,000 children with a Norwegian mother and a German father were born in Norway during the second world war under the Lebensborn -- Fountain of Life -- scheme, first introduced by SS chief Heinrich Himmler in 1935 to propagate Aryan children. Outside Germany, Norway was the jewel of the programme. A group of 154 Norwegians, along with four Swedes and a German, have turned to the European court of human rights, arguing that the Norwegian government's inaction to protect them violated their civil liberties. 'We want it to be recognised that the government of Norway violated the rights of these people, and we are asking for financial damages,' said Randi Hagen Spydevold, a lawyer for the group. Norwegian courts have ruled that the government cannot be held responsible for failing to sufficiently protect the Lebensborn children before 1953, when Norway signed the European convention on human rights. But the group argues that ill-treatment continued long afterwards. Discrimination included public denouncement by doctors and clergy who claimed they were mentally and genetically defective and potential Nazi sympathisers. Many also had problems finding work. [...]"


"Big Gamble in Rwanda"
By Stephen Kinzer
New York Review of Books, 29 March 2007
"[...] After the slaughter of 1994, which ended when the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front overthrew the Hutu government and seized power, Rwanda seemed likely to become either a Tutsi dictatorship or a failed state torn apart by ethnic warlords. Instead, it is stable and full of ambition. The central figure in its rebirth, President Paul Kagame, has emerged as one of the most intriguing leaders in Africa. He preaches a doctrine of security, guided reconciliation, anti-corruption, and above all a drive toward self-reliance that he hopes will free his country from its heavy dependence on foreign aid. This program has produced economic growth rates of 5 percent a year, and has won Kagame a fervent base of support among some development experts in the United States. ... Yet at the same time, the Rwandan government has been criticized by human rights groups and other observers for restricting free speech and political action. Before the 2003 presidential election, the man who would have been Kagame's principal opponent was jailed on corruption charges. Political parties may not appeal to group identity, and public statements promoting 'divisionism' are forbidden. The authorities have used these limitations to imprison critics. This contrast is striking in today's Rwanda. Many outsiders believe that no other poor country is embarked on such a promising campaign to improve itself, and are thrilled with what President Kagame is doing. Others, however, are deeply skeptical. On a continent where development efforts have failed so spectacularly for so long, and where vast multitudes live in seemingly hopeless poverty, Rwanda's contradictions embody a great conundrum. [...]"

"Movie Review: Beyond The Gates"
By Caballero Oscuro
Blogcritics Magazine, 9 March 2007
"In 1994, approximately 800,000 Rwandans were killed during a brutal genocide. Beyond The Gates presents a dramatic recreation of the events that transpired during the initial days of the genocide, centering on the efforts of two British citizens to protect the endangered natives. The events portrayed in the film are presented much as they transpired, although the two main characters are fictional creations based on people encountered by the writers. Lending a further sense of reality to the production, it was filmed in Rwanda in the same compound where the events originally took place. ... In the hands of veteran director Michael Caton-Jones, the story is presented in a straightforward, polished fashion that belies the difficulty of its production. Filming in Rwanda presented numerous logistical challenges, as the country has no film infrastructure and the production's modest budget didn't allow much leeway to create one. Filming the story in the exact location where it took place also affected many of the local crewmembers hired on to assist the production as they had personal knowledge of the site's terrible history. In fact, the most moving aspect of the entire film occurs during its final credits through the descriptions of the family members lost by its crewmembers and the steps they took to survive. It's not played for shock value, but it's an extremely effective method of driving home the extent of damage caused by this largely forgotten genocide."
[n.b. This is the movie titled "Shooting Dogs" for its UK release.]


"Mixed Ruling on Genocide Still Puts Pressure on Serbia"
By Marlise Simons
The New York Times, 6 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"The recent ruling by the United Nations' highest court that found fault with Serbia under the Genocide Convention complicates Serbia’s diplomatic rehabilitation, several legal experts said. A United Nations court says that Serbia violates the genocide law by harboring those accused of it, notably Ratko Mladic, left, and Radovan Karadzic, both seen in 1995. They said the decision by the International Court of Justice would bind diplomats of the European Union and NATO, whose ties with Serbia have been growing. That is so, the experts said, even though the court did not find that Serbia was directly responsible for the genocide of close to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in 1995, but found that it 'could and should' have prevented the killings as the Genocide Convention requires. 'Holding Serbia in violation of the Genocide Convention creates new pressures,' said Antonio Cassese, a former president of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague and now a law professor in Italy. 'There is great moral weight attached to this. It can pose all sorts of obstacles for Belgrade, unless it acts quickly and makes arrests' of the key war crimes suspects who have long been at large, though they are charged with genocide. The judges ordered Serbia to hand over not only 'individuals accused of genocide,' but also those accused of other crimes whose trials are pending at the United Nations tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in The Hague. The tribunal's chief prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, immediately sent a letter to the 27-nation European Union about the decision. In their ruling on Feb. 26, the 15 judges of what is often called the World Court said that by failing to hand over individuals accused of genocide, notably the Bosnian Serb leaders Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, Serbia was violating the 1948 Genocide Convention, which requires the arrest and punishment of perpetrators. Legal experts said the ruling had important effects reaching beyond Serbia, because any country sheltering Mr. Mladic or Mr. Karadzic would now be considered in violation of the convention. [...]"


"UN Set to Endorse Separate Kosovo"
By Matt Robinson
The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 March 2007
"The United Nations Security Council will decide whether to grant Kosovo independence from Serbia after the UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari declared an end to more than a year of fruitless talks. Mr. Ahtisaari said the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majorities were still deadlocked over the fate of the UN-run territory after a meeting in Vienna, the last in a mediation process that began in February 2006. If the Security Council adopts his blueprint, Kosovo will declare itself Europe's newest state and the last to be carved from the former Yugoslavia. 'I would have very much preferred that this process would lead to a negotiated solution,' the former Finnish president told a news conference on Saturday, 'but it has left me in no doubt that the parties' stands ... do not contain any common ground to reach such an agreement. It is my intention to finalise the proposal for submission to the UN Security Council in the course of this month.' The West wants a solution imposed by June, seeing no prospect of forcing 2 million Albanians back into the arms of Serbia and fearing unrest if they are frustrated much longer. Kosovo has been run by the UN since 1999, when NATO bombed Serbia to drive out of the province Serb forces accused of atrocities in a two-year counter-insurgency war. [...]"


"Sudan Government 'Orchestrated Darfur Crimes'"
By James Sturcke
The Guardian, 12 March 2007
"The Sudanese government has orchestrated and taken part in 'large-scale international crimes' in Darfur, a high-level UN human rights team said today. Headed by the Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams, the UN assessors found the Sudanese government was responsible for waging a ruthless campaign resulting in war crimes and human rights abuses. 'The principal pattern is one of a violent counter-insurgency campaign waged by the government of the Sudan in concert with Janjaweed/militia, and targeting mostly civilians. Rebel forces are also guilty of serious abuses of human rights and violations of humanitarian law,' Ms. Williams's team found. During a two-week visit to the region, and despite Sudanese attempts to hamper their work by blocking visas, the five members of the UN party met hundreds of people affected by violence which has resulted in at least 200,000 deaths and the displacement of millions since rebels from African tribes took up arms against the government in 2003. Most of the victims died after fleeing their homes under attack from government troops and the Arab Janjaweed militia they supported. Sudan denies that widespread abuses have occurred in Darfur and does not recognise the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is also investigating war crimes in the region. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the advance text of the report.]

"Sudan Dashes Hope for Quick UN Deployment"
By Evelyn Leopold
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 10 March 2007
"Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has refused to accept an interim United Nations plan to bolster African troops in Darfur, calling for more negotiations despite an earlier agreement in principle. Responding to a letter from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, obtained by Reuters on Friday, Bashir said it was still unclear whether the African Union, which has 7 000 under-financed troops in Darfur, would retain total control. The letter, anticipated over the past six weeks, dashed hopes UN peacekeepers could be deployed soon, even in auxiliary functions in Darfur, where at least 200,000 people have died, four million need emergency aid and 2,5-million are in makeshift arid camps. Ban's letter spelled out plans for an interim UN force with about 3,000 personnel, mainly engineers, logistics and medical units as well as helicopter pilots. That group would plan for a far larger African Union-UN operation of more than 22 000 troops and police. In reply, Bashir wrote a three-page letter in English with a 14-page annex in Arabic, yet to be translated. He based most of his objections on provisions in the Darfur Peace Agreement, or DPA, signed last May between one rebel faction and the Khartoum government that he said contravened Ban's plans. Since the DPA agreement, the process has moved on, with a UN-Sudanese negotiated deal in Addis Ababa on November 16 that was endorsed by Sudan at an AU meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, two weeks later. [...]"

"The Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency"
By Mahmood Mamdani
London Review of Books, 8 March 2007
"The similarities between Iraq and Darfur are remarkable. The estimate of the number of civilians killed over the past three years is roughly similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals. But the violence in the two places is named differently. In Iraq, it is said to be a cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency; in Darfur, it is called genocide. Why the difference? Who does the naming? Who is being named? What difference does it make? ... What would happen if we thought of Darfur as we do of Iraq, as a place with a history and politics -- a messy politics of insurgency and counter-insurgency? Why should an intervention in Darfur not turn out to be a trigger that escalates rather than reduces the level of violence as intervention in Iraq has done? Why might it not create the actual possibility of genocide, not just rhetorically but in reality? Morally, there is no doubt about the horrific nature of the violence against civilians in Darfur. The ambiguity lies in the politics of the violence, whose sources include both a state-connected counter-insurgency and an organised insurgency, very much like the violence in Iraq. [...]"


"Swiss 'Genocide' Trial for Turk"
BBC Online, 6 March 2007
"A Turkish nationalist leader has gone on trial in Switzerland for denying that the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey in 1915 amounted to 'genocide.' Dogu Perincek, 65, is accused under Swiss law of racial discrimination. The Swiss parliament, along with more than a dozen countries, recognises the killings as 'genocide.' Turkey firmly rejects the 'genocide' allegation. The prosecutor in the city of Lausanne called for a six-month jail sentence for genocide denial. Dogu Perincek, head of the Turkish Workers' Party, made the statements in a public speech in Lausanne in 2005. 'I have not denied genocide because there was no genocide,' he said in court on Tuesday. Armenians say 1.5 million of their people were killed in a genocide by Ottoman Turks during World War I, either through systematic massacres or through starvation. More than a dozen countries, various international bodies and many Western historians agree that it was 'genocide.' Turkey says there was no genocide. It acknowledges that many Armenians died, but says the figure was below one million. [...]"


"FBI Hunts Last of the Lynchers"
By Paul Harris
The Observer, 11 March 2007
"When the mutilated bodies of Henry Dee and Charles Moore were dragged up from the waters of the Mississippi in 1964, they were tied to the engine block of a Jeep. The Ku Klux Klansmen who killed the black teenagers had intended their bodies never to be found. In the Fifties and Sixties, black men, women and children were often killed with impunity by southern whites who believed they would get away with murder. But they were wrong in the case of Dee and Moore, who were both 19. Next month, James Seale, 71, will go on trial in Mississippi for their murders. He is unlikely to be the last elderly white man to face such a trial for crimes some might deem old history and others would call horrifically delayed justice. In a dramatic new official move to come to terms with the past, the FBI is re-examining almost 100 unsolved murder cases from the civil rights era. It will look at brutal slayings and lynchings that happened across the American South before 1968, when the region was in turmoil as blacks campaigned for the right to vote. Up to a dozen of the 100 suspected racial killings have been given top priority and a special team, in partnership with civil rights groups, has been set up to look at hunting and prosecuting suspects. The aim is to ignite a fire under these long dormant 'cold cases'. 'There are murder cases from the civil rights era that cry out for justice, cases that cry out for further investigation,' said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Centre, which fights civil rights cases and has handed many of its files to the FBI. [...]"

"China Says U.S. Actions in Iraq Violate Human Rights"
By Scott McDonald
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 8 March 2007
"China on Thursday accused the United States of trampling on Iraq's sovereignty, saying Washington was using its campaign against terrorism as an excuse to torture people around the world and violate the rights of its own citizens. The charges came in a report titled the 'Human Rights Record of the United States in 2006,' China's response to U.S. criticism of Beijing's human rights record in a report Tuesday by the State Department. 'As in previous years, the State Department pointed the finger at human rights conditions in more than 190 countries and regions, including China, but avoided touching on the human rights situation in the United States,' the Chinese report said. ... It said the United States has used its military power to trespass on the sovereignty of other countries and violate human rights. The Chinese report cites U.S. news stories estimating that more than 655,000 Iraqis have died in Iraq since war started in March, 2003, and repeats charges of atrocities carried out by U.S. forces there. It said the United States has 'a flagrant record' of violating the Geneva Convention by systematically abusing prisoners in Iraq and in Afghanistan, citing the mistreatment of prisoners in Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. The report said the international image of the United States had been hurt by these rights violations it said were carried out under the banner of 'safeguarding human rights.' China also said the United States had a poor domestic human rights record, with its citizens suffering 'increasing civil rights infringements' under security measures imposed after the Sept. 11 attacks. Citing U.S. reports, it said nearly three-quarters of the terrorism suspects seized by the United States in the five years since the attacks have not come to trial due to lack of evidence. [...]"
[n.b. China's claims are massively hypocritical, of course -- and indubitably accurate.]


"The New African Genocide"
By James Kirchick, 8 March 2007 (from The New Republic)
"[...] The conditions Mugabe rendered in Zimbabwe do not merely stem from idealistic economic and social policies gone awry. He has undertaken a campaign of violence and starvation against political opponents, the fallout of which is killing tens of thousands, if not more, every year. In 2005, there were roughly 4,000 more deaths each week than births, a rate that the famine has surely increased. This is worse than brutality. The United Nations says that 'deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part' constitutes genocide, and that is exactly what Robert Mugabe has wrought. The genocide in Zimbabwe is not as stark as others. There are no cattle cars and gas chambers. There are no machete-wielding gangs roaming the countryside. There are no helicopter gunships or Janjaweed. The killing in Zimbabwe is slow, oftentimes indirect, and not particularly bloody. But Mugabe's campaign of mass murder against those who oppose him has been no less deliberate than any of the other genocides in human history. [...]"

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