Sunday, April 01, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
March 20 - April 1, 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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"Canada's First Crimes against Humanity Trial Opens"
By Frederic Bastien
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 26 March 2007
"Canada's first trial for crimes against humanity opened Monday, with a Rwandan in the dock accused of taking part in his country's 1994 genocide of ethnic Tutsis. Desire Munyaneza, 40, is accused of involvement in the rape and killing of civilians in Butare, southern Rwanda, from April to July, 1994. 'Either he participated in, helped or encouraged murders, sexual violence and pillaging with the intention and presence of mind to destroy the Tutsi population in an armed conflict,' prosecutor Pascale Ledoux said. Munyaneza pleaded not guilty to the crimes. The trial is due to last three months. About 800,000 people, most of them Tutsis, were killed within six weeks in Rwanda by members of the Hutu ethnic group. The genocide followed years of tension between the two groups and was sparked by the death of president Juvenal Habyarimana, a Hutu, in a plane crash. Rwandan witnesses are to testify at Munyaneza's trial in the Quebec high court. Also due to testify is Romeo Dallaire, the retired Canadian general who at the time headed a United Nations peacekeeping force in Rwanda, as well as Canadian police experts who have investigated the case. [...]"


"Canadian Politics: No Apology For Residential Schools"
By Richard Marcus
Blogcritics Magazine, 28 March 2007
"[...] In Ireland and elsewhere the Empire enacted official policies forbidding the native languages in the hopes of cutting people off from their heritage. But the most insidious practice was carried out in North America by post-colonial governments, with the assistance of the Catholic and Anglican Churches in Canada. Residential Schools were established to forcibly turn Indian children against their parents and their heritage. Each child who entered the system was forbidden to speak the language of their nation and was told that all they had been taught up until that point was evil and a lie. They were given haircuts and forced to take new names. Anybody caught speaking their language or using their old name was severely punished. ... It was bad enough that they were ripped away from their families and emotionally, mentally, and physically abused by the staff of these institutions during the day. What went on at night in the dormitories is the stuff of nightmares. Many of the students, male and female, were sexually abused on a continual basis for their entire stay in these prisons. The end result of these schools was the creation of a generation of people who were almost completely cut off from their own culture and not capable of existing in the one they were supposedly 'trained' to take part in: A lost generation of scared, hurt, and, lonely people, damaged far beyond anything most of us can understand. By the year 2005 the federal government of Canada under the Liberal party had agreed to certain measures to redress the issue. Various financial packages were offered, and it was promised as part of the deal that the government would offer an official apology for the policy. But now the current administration, the Conservative Party of Canada has reneged on that promise. In fact from comments made by the Indian Affairs Minister, Jim Prentice, lead one to believe that the government is trying to whitewash what exactly the schools did. The most he will say is that the residential schools involved a difficult time in our history, but -- and this is the real killer -- 'the underlying objective had been to provide aboriginal children with an education.' Which means that Jim Prentice is either a professional liar or an ignorant fool who doesn't even read history books. But then again the Conservative Party already knows that Native Canadians aren't going to vote for them, and neither are people who are sympathetic to their plight. They're playing to their constituents, the people who believe that Native people are welfare drunks who lost the war and are lucky we give them anything. [...]"


"'Para-politics' Goes Bananas"
By Michael Evans
The Nation, 29 March 2007
"[...] The indictment handed down by US Attorneys in the Chiquita case describes in the most lucid terms the deliberate, methodical nature of the company's relationship with the [AUC] paramilitaries. Chiquita's payments to paras began in 1997, the year the AUC was formed, and continued until February 2004. Importantly, the company gave the group at least $825,000 after it was designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 2001. US law bars support to any organization on the State Department's FTO list. Chiquita had been making similar payments to the leftist FARC and ELN guerrillas since returning to Urabá in 1989. Seven years earlier, the company had sold off its holdings in the war-torn region, but was lured back by the promise of expanding international fruit markets. ... The first payment came just in time to help underwrite a major southward expansion of paramilitary influence in the country. Over the next seven years, Chiquita would make more than 100 separate payments to the AUC, and the AUC would carry out some of its most shocking massacres. The paramilitary offensive began with the July 1997 killings of at least thirty civilians in Mapiripán, a traditionally guerrilla-controlled hamlet in a remote coca-growing region in southeastern Colombia. ... The AUC quickly gained a reputation for the shocking brutality of its crimes, and Castaño openly boasted about many of them. The slaughter left a trail of mangled corpses across the country, from the banana farms of Urabá to the coca fields of Putumayo. An overwhelming majority of the victims were civilians. ... Mario Iguarán, Colombia's attorney general, says he will seek the extradition of eight Chiquita officials connected to the case. His office is also seeking information about charges that in 2001 a ship unloaded some 3,400 AK-47 rifles and 4 million rounds of ammunition in a Banadex-controlled dock in Colombia destined for the AUC. These charges were first detailed in a 2003 report from the Organization of the American States. 'This was a criminal relationship,' said Iguarán, in a recent report published in theWashington Post. 'Money and arms and, in exchange, the bloody pacification of Urabá.' [...]"

"U.S. Mining Co. Denies Link to Killings"
By Toby Muse
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 22 March 2007
"An Alabama mining company on Thursday denied having any relationship with right-wing death squads in Colombia and said it has no intention of settling a related U.S. lawsuit. A federal judge in Alabama last month allowed a civil suit to go forward against Drummond Co. Inc. for allegedly paying a hit squad to kill three union leaders in 2001 at one of its Colombia mines. In a related move, Colombia's chief prosecutor announced a formal criminal investigation into Drummond Tuesday for alleged ties to paramilitaries. 'Drummond publicly states that it has not nor will it make any payments, agreements or transactions with illegal groups and emphatically denies that the company or any of its executives has had any involvement with the murder of three labor union leaders,' the company said a statement issued at a news conference. 'It will not settle with the plaintiffs.' Drummond's defense comes as another U.S. multinational, fruit giant Chiquita Brands, has acknowledged funneling $1.7 million to far-right paramilitary militias in Colombia. Chiquita has agreed to pay a fine of $25 million for funding a paramilitary group listed as a 'foreign terrorist organization' by the U.S. State Department. Colombia is embroiled in its worst political scandal in decades as revelations continue to emerge tying the country's political class -- many of them backers of President Alvaro Uribe -- and the far-right paramilitaries. The political scandal is now inching toward Drummond, which mines coal along the Caribbean coast, a longtime paramilitary stronghold. [...]"


"Six Decades after Holocaust, Jewish Life Thriving Again in Germany"

By Kirsten Grieshaber
Associated Press dispatch in USA Today, 1 April 2007
"[...] Since the German government relaxed immigration laws for Jews following reunification in 1990, tens of thousands of Jewish migrants have come here, mostly from the former Soviet Union. According to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, an estimated 250,000 Jews now live in the country, with some 110,000 of them registered religious community members. Before 1990, there were only 23,000 Jewish community members in Germany, according to the Central Council. 'In 2005, more Jewish immigrants came to Germany than to Israel,' said Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council. 'Without immigration, most of the Jewish communities would not exist anymore,' he said, adding that about 200,000 Jews left the former Soviet Union for Germany since the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989. Cosmopolitan, affordable Berlin in particular has become a magnet, home to several thousand young Israelis expats and hundreds of American Jews, prompting talk of a 'Jewish renaissance' in a place where famous Jews like Albert Einstein or the artist Max Liebermann once lived. Berlin has the biggest Jewish community with 12,000 registered members and eight synagogues, followed by Munich with 9,200 members and a recently opened synagogue, community center and Jewish museum. In Dresden, the ordination of the first three rabbis since World War II was celebrated in September as a milestone in the rebirth of Jewish life in Germany -- 62 years after the end of the Nazi genocide that killed some 6 million Jews, including 200,000 from Germany. But the numbers are still a far cry from Germany's flourishing Jewish community of 560,000 -- and its cultural and intellectual prominence -- before the Third Reich. While there were 600 Jewish schools in Germany before the Holocaust, there are only seven now. And in 1933 Berlin's Jewish community had 120,000 members -- 10 times bigger than today. Still, says Rabbi Chaim Rozwaski, 'it's a miracle that the Jewish people are coming back to resettle in Germany.' [...]"

"German Neo-Nazi Fear over Police Cadets"
By Roger Boyes
The Times, 23 March 2007
"Fears that the German police force contains neo-Nazi sympathisers have been sparked after disdainful cadets delivered an extraordinary rebuff to a Holocaust survivor. Students at the Berlin police academy refused to listen to the harrowing testimony of Isaak Behar, 83, who had been invited to lecture them on his experiences as a Jew in the Third Reich. Mr. Behar lost his parents and his two sisters in the Auschwitz concentration camp. The cadets shouted that they did not want to hear about the Holocaust any more, and said that the Jewish community was emotionally blackmailing Germany, according to German press reports. Dieter Glietsch, Berlin’s police commissioner, has opened an investigation. German police officers are given compulsory Holocaust-awareness training. Visits to sites where Nazis murdered or deported Jews are part of the curriculum. Mr. Behar and other Jewish survivors frequently lecture at police and army colleges. 'There have always been antiSemitic incidents in the army as well as the police,' said Mr Behar. 'But senior officers take action when they hear of them.' This episode, though, which occurred on Feb. 27, is seen as part of a broader and more menacing trend. Last month it was revealed that at least three police bodyguards assigned to protect Michael Friedman, a leading Jewish activist, were neo-Nazi sympathisers. [...]"


"Lancet Was Right -- Shock"
By Owen Bennett Jones
New Statesman, 2 April 2007
"When, last October, the Lancet published a study which concluded that the Iraq war had caused 655,000 more deaths than would have been expected if the conflict had not happened, the Prime Minister's official spokesman dismissed its findings as nowhere near accurate. He said the survey had used an extrapolation technique, using a small sample from an area of Iraq that was not representative of the country. Now, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that British government experts backed the methodology used by the scientists responsible for the study. If the Lancet estimate is correct, it means 2.5 per cent of the Iraqi population -- an average of more than 500 people a day -- have been killed since the invasion. Of these, 601,000 died in violent acts -- the majority involving gunfire. Asked by officials to comment on the survey, the chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson, concluded: 'The study design is robust and employs methods that are regarded as close to "best practice".' He recommended 'caution in publicly criticising the study.' ... A statistician at the Department for International Development was also asked for an opinion of the Lancet study. The techniques used were 'tried and tested,' he said. If anything, the method 'should lead to an underestimation of the deaths in the war and early post-invasion period.' [...]"


"U.N. Envoy Likens Israeli Actions to Apartheid"
Reuters dispatch on, 22 March 2007
"A United Nations human rights envoy on Thursday likened Israeli treatment of Palestinians in occupied territory to apartheid, and said its settlement policy amounted to colonialism. South African lawyer John Dugard warned Western states they would never rally support among developing nations for effective action against perceived abuses in Sudan's Darfur, Zimbabwe and Myanmar unless they tackled the plight of Palestinians. 'This places in danger the whole international human rights enterprise,' he told the U.N. Human Rights Council, a Geneva-based watchdog agency. Dugard, special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said restrictions on movement and separate residential areas gave a sense of 'deja vu' to anyone with experience of apartheid. 'Of course there are similarities between the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territory) and apartheid South Africa,' he told the council. ... Dugard said Gaza was an imprisoned society, with the situation in the West Bank little better. 'Settlers, largely unrestrained by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), subject many Palestinians to a reign of terror -- particularly in Hebron,' he said. He said some 500,000 Israeli settlers were now living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories seized by Israel during the 1967 Middle East War. 'Apartheid and colonialism are contrary to international law,' he said."
[n.b. Actually, apartheid is not just "contrary to international law," it is formally designated as a crime against humanity.]


"Japanese Prime Minister Apologizes to World War II-Era Sex Slaves"

By Hiroko Tabuchi
The Independent, 27 March 2007
"Japan's nationalist prime minister apologized yesterday to women who suffered in the country's wartime brothels, but stopped short of bowing to international pressure by clearly acknowledging Tokyo's role in forcing thousands into sexual slavery. 'I express my sympathy toward the comfort women and apologize for the situation they found themselves in,' Shinzo Abe told a parliamentary committee on Monday, using a euphemism used by Japanese politicians for sex slaves. 'I apologize here and now as prime minister.' Abe's apology was his clearest yet since the conservative leader triggered international furore earlier this month by saying there was no evidence that women were coerced into sexual service in the World War II era. Still, his remarks fell short of demands made by victims that Abe clearly acknowledge that the wartime military forced the women into prostitution. Historians say that as many as 200,000 Asian women, mostly from Korea and China, worked in military-run brothels. Victims say they were forced into the brothels by the Japanese military and were held against their will. But right-wing politicians, which make up a bulk of Abe's support base, have in recent weeks made renewed efforts to push for an official revision of a landmark apology offered by a senior government official in 1993. Conservative ruling party lawmakers argue that the women were professional prostitutes and were paid for their services, and maintain that the military authorities were not directly responsible for the establishment or running of the brothels. Abe's earlier denial of coercion drew intense criticism from China and Korea, which accuse Japan of failing to fully atone for wartime invasions and atrocities. [...]"


"TV Series on Stalin Divides Russian Audience"
By David Holley
The Los Angeles Times, 30 March 2007
"Josef Stalin is speaking to his son Yakov, who has just telephoned to say that he will soon head off to battle the Nazi invaders. 'I sometimes was not fair to you. Forgive me. I devoted little time to you,' the Soviet dictator apologizes. 'Son, go and fight. This is your duty.' ... The poignant scene -- for viewers who can stomach it -- is part of a controversial 40-episode TV drama, 'Stalin Live,' now airing on a nationwide network here. The show's structural device is an elderly Stalin, in the last weeks of his life, recalling episodes in his younger days, most presenting him in a favorable light. For Stalin admirers, of whom there are many in Russia, the series is an entertaining and educational look at the man who turned the Soviet Union into a superpower. To critics, it is a dangerous distortion of history that threatens to misinform a younger generation about a leader responsible for the deaths of millions of people, and reinforce a trend toward greater authoritarianism in politics. ... Estimates of the number of Stalin's victims vary widely, but most historians say that 10 million to 20 million people died in purges, famines, deportations and labor camps as a result of his policies from the time he rose to power in the mid-1920s until his death in 1953. In addition, the Soviet Union suffered at least 20 million troop and civilian deaths in World War II. Among them was his son Yakov, who died in a German prisoner-of-war camp. Critics say that 'Stalin Live' ignores the dictator's worst crimes and treats him far too sympathetically. ... Surveys conducted two years ago on the 60th anniversary of victory over Nazi Germany showed a nation roughly divided between the pro- and anti-Stalin camps, with those sympathetic to the dictator holding a modest edge. In a poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center, 20% of respondents described his role as 'very positive,' and 30% called it 'somewhat positive.' Only 12% described it as 'very negative.' [...]"


"'Beyond the Gates': Even the Credits Are Wrenching"

By Moira Macdonald
Seattle Times, 30 March 2007
"Michael Caton-Jones' devastating story of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, 'Beyond the Gates,' ends on a note that transforms everything you've seen before it. After the drama ends, the credits roll, but it's not just a list of names on the screen. We see snapshots of the film's Rwandan crew members, and brief histories of what they lost in the genocide: husbands, sisters, families. One was raped and contracted HIV; others escaped from a sea of corpses. There are no words to describe the horror, or the kind of bravery that brought these people to work on this film. Based on real events, 'Beyond the Gates' takes place within a very brief period of time, at a school that became a shelter for thousands of Rwandans fleeing the murderous soldiers in the streets. (The film's specific characters are fictional, though some are inspired by real people. Its locations are historically accurate, with most of the filming taking place at the actual Kigali school.) Father Christopher (John Hurt) and young teacher Joe Connor (Hugh Dancy) are devoted to their students, promising their safety as the frightened crowds gather. At first, the grounds are protected by U.N. soldiers -- somewhat. 'This is a military base, not a refugee camp,' huffs one of them to Father Christopher. ('Actually, it's a school,' the priest replies.) Eventually, the soldiers announce that they are withdrawing. The chaos beyond the school's gates will soon enter the enclosure; a massacre is inevitable. As non-Rwandans, Christopher and Joe can, if they wish, leave with the soldiers. Do they stay and face certain death, or flee and live with their consciences? 'Beyond the Gates,' unlike the equally fine 'Hotel Rwanda,' makes its central characters outsiders; the story unfolds mostly from the point of view of the two British teachers. You feel the lack of a Rwandan perspective (until the final credits), but the film is nonetheless extremely affecting. [...]"


"Gruesome Details of Kosovo War Crimes Emerge"
By Dusan Stojanovic
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 22 March 2007
"Decomposing corpses were dumped into a trash-filled ditch. Blindfolded and hands bound, three Albanian-Americans were led to its edge and shot in the head, their bodies joining the others. The details, emerging for the first time at the trial of two former Serbian commandos, shed light on how the regime of late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic tried to conceal atrocities against ethnic Albanians in the 1998-99 Kosovo war. Thousands were killed in the Serbian crackdown against Kosovo separatists in 1998-99. When NATO launched air strikes to stop the carnage, hundreds of bodies of Kosovars were dug up and moved more than 200 miles to three locations in central Serbia, reburied in mass graves to cover up the killings. The commandos have been charged as accomplices in the murder of brothers Illy, Mehmet and Agron Bytyqi -- three U.S. citizens who had left New York to fight in Kosovo and were captured by the Serbs. The bodies of the Bytyqi brothers were discovered in 2001. Their identities were later confirmed by an FBI forensics team. 'One day, a truck carrying some 30 corpses appeared in our camp,' Radomir Djeric, a former commander of a special police training facility in Petrovo Selo, some 60 miles east of Belgrade, said at the trial Wednesday. His testimony for the prosecution was closed to the public but minutes were made available to The Associated Press. Djeric said he thought a large ditch had been dug to be used as a garbage disposal for the police training camp. [...]"


"Splintering of Rebel Groups Adds to Chaos in Darfur"

By Stephanie McCrummen
The Washington Post, 1 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] The situation is complicated, but there is a growing sense that the biggest obstacles to peace in Darfur are not only the Sudanese government and its militias, but the Darfur rebels themselves. After four years of conflict, the western region of Sudan has become fragmented among at least a dozen rebel groups, a development that leaders such as Nur believe is the product of a clever divide-and-conquer strategy by the government but that others say is the result of clashing egos within the movement. An array of foreign diplomats have shifted their efforts from pressuring the government to encouraging rebel unity. The United Nations, for example, recently airlifted 300 rebel commanders to a meeting place in Darfur where they were to decide on a military structure. The conference was delayed twice because the government bombed the area, and it finally fell apart amid internecine quarreling. Officials monitoring the region and aid groups say that as the rebel groups splinter, they are increasingly moonlighting as roving bandits, attacking humanitarian organizations, African Union soldiers and whoever else might have the coveted trucks and satellite phones that are the means to power in this rugged region. 'The danger is that if they don't get it together, we're going to end up with a bunch of warlords,' said one U.S. official in the region, who, like many people interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. 'The factionalization is indicative of the priority they put on their own personal positions, rather than on Darfur.' [...]"

"The Politics of Naming"
Letter by Gérard Prunier
London Review of Books, 5 April 2007
"Mahmood Mamdani begins his piece on 'The Politics of Naming' (LRB, 8 March) with a parallel between 'state-connected counter-insurgencies in Iraq and Darfur.' But the counter-insurgency in Iraq is organised by a foreign power and is the result of foreign occupation while the counter-insurgency in Darfur is organised by the national government and has no foreign cause. Whatever one thinks of US policy in Iraq, it has no genocidal component. In Darfur the 'counter-insurgency' is ethnic cleansing at the least and borders on genocide. Professor Mamdani quotes President Obasanjo of Nigeria to defend the idea that the violence in Darfur is not of a genocidal nature since we do not have proof of a 'plan.' But we do not have proof of a plan in either the Armenian or the Rwandan genocides. Professor Mamdani is right about the international community’s lack of interest in the war in the Congo, the most murderous conflict since the Second World War, but he insists on the Hema-Lendu conflict in the Ituri region as if it were the only violent conflict in the country and talks of 'the two sides,' apparently projecting a kind of Tutsi-Hutu framework on the Ituri, whose victims represent, to the best of my knowledge, about 2 per cent of the total number of fatalities in the Congo in the period. He describes the 'Hema and Lendu militias' as 'trained by the US allies in the region, Uganda and Rwanda,' but these militias were never properly trained by anybody, which is one reason they were so wild and murderous. Finally, the Hema and Lendu have nothing to do with the Tutsi and the Hutu. The Lendu are a Sudanic tribe loosely related to the Alur while the Bantu Hema are a sub-group of the Ugandan Banyoro. To see these tribes as 'US proxies' is untenable. It was the Ugandans (not the Rwandans and even less the Americans) who used them, though they were not responsible either for their antagonisms or for their political strategies. Mamdani trivialises Darfur by saying that violence in Central Africa is recurring and banal, that Darfur is nothing special, and that in any case the factor responsible above all others for these various evils is US imperialism. [...]"
[n.b. Having referenced Mamdani's piece in the last "Media File," I feel obliged to link here to Prunier's eloquent response.]

"The 'Genocide Olympics'"

By Mia and Roman Farrow
The Huffington Post, 28 March 2007
"'One World, One Dream' is China's slogan for its 2008 Olympics. But there is one nightmare that China shouldn't be allowed to sweep under the rug. That nightmare is Darfur, where more than 400,000 people have been killed and more than two-and-a-half million driven from flaming villages by the Chinese-backed government of Sudan. That so many corporate sponsors want the world to look away from that atrocity during the games is bad enough. But equally disappointing is the decision of artists like director Steven Spielberg -- who quietly visited China this month as he prepares to help stage the Olympic ceremonies -- to sanitize Beijing's image. Is Mr. Spielberg, who in 1994 founded the Shoah Foundation to record the testimony of survivors of the holocaust, aware that China is bankrolling Darfur's genocide? China is pouring billions of dollars into Sudan. Beijing purchases an overwhelming majority of Sudan's annual oil exports and state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. -- an official partner of the upcoming Olympic Games -- owns the largest shares in each of Sudan's two major oil consortia. The Sudanese government uses as much as 80% of proceeds from those sales to fund its brutal Janjaweed proxy militia and purchase their instruments of destruction: bombers, assault helicopters, armored vehicles and small arms, most of them of Chinese manufacture. Airstrips constructed and operated by the Chinese have been used to launch bombing campaigns on villages. And China has used its veto power on the U.N. Security Council to repeatedly obstruct efforts by the U.S. and the U.K. to introduce peacekeepers to curtail the slaughter. As one of the few players whose support is indispensable to Sudan, China has the power to, at the very least, insist that Khartoum accept a robust international peacekeeping force to protect defenseless civilians in Darfur. Beijing is uniquely positioned to put a stop to the slaughter, yet they have so far been unabashed in their refusal to do so. [...]"

"Blair Threatens Force over Darfur"
By Julian Borger
The Guardian, 27 March 2007
"Tony Blair is pushing the United Nations to declare a no-fly zone over Darfur, enforced if necessary by the bombing of Sudanese military airfields used for raids on the province, the Guardian has learned. The controversial initiative comes as a classified new report by a UN panel of experts alleges Sudan has violated UN resolutions by moving arms into Darfur, conducting overflights and disguising its military planes as UN humanitarian aircraft. Mr. Blair has been pushing for much tougher international action against Sudan since President Omar Hassan al-Bashir reneged earlier this month on last November's agreement to allow UN peacekeepers into Darfur to protect civilians. Over 200,000 have been killed in the course of a counter-insurgency by government forces and allied Janjaweed militia, and more than 10 times that number forced to flee their homes. Humanitarian supplies to the millions of refugees in the area are tenuous and threatened by continuing violence on the Sudan-Chad border. Talks are under way in the UN security council over a package of sanctions being pushed by Britain and the US, which includes a comprehensive arms embargo and the freezing assets of Sudanese leaders implicated in the Darfur ethnic cleansing. Speaking in Berlin on Sunday, Mr. Blair described the situation in Darfur as 'intolerable' and said: 'We need to consider a no-fly zone to prevent the use of Sudanese air power against refugees and displaced people.' According to Downing Street, he is pushing for a no-fly zone to be passed at the same time as the new sanctions package, in the form of a 'Chapter 7' security council resolution, allowing the use of force. [...]"

"UN Warns of Darfur Aid Collapse"
By Karen Allen
BBC Online, 25 March 2007
"The UN's new humanitarian chief, John Holmes, has spoken of the fragile morale among relief workers in Sudan's troubled region of Darfur. Mr. Holmes warned it could take just one major security incident to prompt a "humanitarian collapse", endangering tens of thousands of refugees. The four-year conflict between rebel groups and pro-government Arab militia has seen more than 2.5m displaced. Mr. Holmes is on a tour of Sudan, Chad and the Central African Republic. Crowds of children chanted their welcome to the UN's new humanitarian chief as he arrived in the rebel stronghold of Jebel Marra, west Darfur. It was a very different scene to Saturday when Mr Holmes was barred from entering a camp for displaced people in north Darfur by the Sudanese military, though they later apologised. But the message from some of the tens of thousands of people caught up in this four-year conflict is that they feel cut off. One woman told me they feel insecure because, she says, the government has blocked the roads. She explains people here fear further attacks. [...]"


"Turks Warn U.S. against Resolution on Armenian Genocide"

By Sebnem Arsu and Brian Knowlton
International Herald Tribuen, 30 March 2007
"A planned vote in the U.S. Congress that would classify the widespread killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish government early in the 20th century as genocide is threatening to make bilateral relations unusually tense. The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, backs the resolution and at first wanted a vote in April. But under Turkish pressure, Bush administration figures have lobbied for the Democrats in charge of Congress to drop the measure. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates sent strong letters of protest to her and to Representative Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has not set a date for the vote. 'That has had an impact,' said Lynne Weil, a Lantos spokeswoman, referring to the letters. Copies were also sent to Representative John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, the House minority leader. Turkey vehemently denies that the killings of 1.5 million Armenians during a period of several years, beginning in 1915, amounted to genocide. It contends that the deaths occurred in the chaos of war as the Ottoman Empire was falling apart, and that many Turks were also killed when Armenians sided with Russian forces in the hope of claiming territory in eastern Turkey. But many Armenians have sought acknowledgment from nations around the world that the deaths amounted to systematic genocide at Ottoman hands. So far, parliaments of more than 15 countries have agreed. France and Switzerland went further and called for criminal charges against those who deny it. A vote in Congress would be purely symbolic, but Turks have warned that it would be felt as a bitter slap, and that it could bring enormous public pressure on the government in Ankara to chill its cooperation with Washington. The U.S. has strong military ties to Turkey, a NATO member. [...]"


"Waste Firm Fined 46 Mln Dlrs for Dump on US Indian Land"

Agence France-Presse dispatch on, 22 March 2007
"A waste disposal firm that operated an illegal dump on an Indian reservation in southern California has been ordered to pay more than 46 million dollars in clean-up costs, officials said Thursday. A statement from the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Lawson Enterprises must pay nearly 43 million dollars to clean the site along with three million dollars in civil penalties. The order was made by United States District Court judge Stephen Larson following a four-year legal battle surrounding the dump on the Torres Martinez Reservation in the Coachella Valley, 200 kilometers (125 miles) east of Los Angeles. 'This legal victory makes it loud and clear -- open dumping on tribal lands is a crime,' said EPA official Wayne Nastri. Lawson Enterprises operated the solid-waste disposal dump from 1992 to 2006, burning waste until 2003. Smoke from the dump affected surrounding schools, where students were restricted from open-air activities and reported health problems including headaches and stomachaches. Local fire services also had to tackle numerous fires that broke out at the dump, officials said. Earlier this month a court in San Francisco ruled that a ski resort's plan to spray artificial snow made with treated sewage on mountains and parkland revered by Native American tribes was unlawful."


"Spain Judge Says Bush and Iraq War Allies Should Face War Crimes Charges"

By Katerina Ossenova
Jurist, 20 March 2007
"Baltasar Garzon, an investigating judge for Spain's National Court, said Tuesday that President George W. Bush and his allies eventually should face war crimes charges for their actions in Iraq. In an opinion piece for El Pais, Garzon called the war in Iraq 'one of the most sordid and unjustifiable episodes in recent human history.' Garzon also criticized those who joined the US president in the war against Iraq as having equally responsible for joining the war effort despite their doubts. In 1999, Garzon tried to extradite former Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet from Britain and try him for crimes against humanity. On Sunday, ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair may one day face war crimes charges before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. Moreno-Ocampo said that the ICC could investigate allegations of war crimes stemming from the conduct of coalition forces in Iraq, so long as Iraq agrees to ratify the Rome Statute and accede to ICC jurisdiction."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. Link to the text of Garzon's op-ed, in Spanish.]


"Kissinger's Extradition to Uruguay Sought over Operation Condor"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 25 March 2007
"An attorney for a victim of Uruguay's 1973-1985 dictatorship has asked his government to request the extradition of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger over his alleged role in the notorious Operation Condor. Condor was a secret plan hatched by South American dictators in the 1970s to eliminate leftist political opponents in the region. Details of the plan have emerged over the past years in documents and court testimony. The Latin American dictatorships of the time 'were mere executors' of a 'plan of extermination' hatched in the United States by a group led by Kissinger, said attorney Gustavo Salle, who represents the family of Bernardo Arnone. Uruguayan prosecutor Mirtha Guianze has received the request and is studying the case, according to news reports. A leftist activist, Arnone was arrested in October 1976 and flown to Argentina with a group of political prisoners that vanished and were presumably executed. Kissinger played a dominant role in US foreign policy between 1969 and 1977, and was a strong supporter of right-wing regimes across Latin America. The extradition request comes as the topic of rights violations during Uruguay's dictatorship is making headlines again, with Salle citing evidence from declassified US State Department documents. Witnesses are set to testify in April in a case that began in September against eight retired regime officials over rights violations."
[n.b. This is the full text of the dispatch.]

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