Sunday, September 02, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
August 14 - September 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 adamj_jones@hotmail.com.

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ARMENIAN GENOCIDE

"Top US Jewish Group Recognises Genocide of 1.5 Million Armenians"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 25 August 2007
"The Anti-Defamation League, a leading US-based Jewish organisation, has for the first time -- and with some reluctance -- recognised the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks between 1915 and 1917 as genocide. It did so under pressure from some American Jewish communities, including those in areas where there are Armenian populations, and against a background of attempts to push a new bill through Congress to force the United States to recognise the genocide. Like Israel, the US does not officially acknowledge it. Abe Foxman, the director of ADL, which had previously been reluctant to inflame Turkey by recognising the genocide, said that he had taken the decision after consulting the Jewish Nobel Prize-winning author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. As a result, Israel has come under increasingly heavy diplomatic pressure from the Turkish government to help reverse the decision. The Turkish Foreign minister and the presidential candidate Abdullah Gul registered his 'anger and disappointment' at a meeting in Ankara with Israel's ambassador, Pinhas Avivi. Foreign ministry sources described this meeting to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz as 'shrill.' Despite pressure from some Israeli intellectuals and scholars of the Jewish Holocaust as well from the small Armenian community here, Israel has refrained from officially recognising the massacres to avoid rupturing its strong diplomatic relations with Turkey. Mr. Gul reportedly told the Israeli ambassador that Turkey knew Israel was not responsible for the ADL decision but believed Israel could have done something to prevent it. Mr. Avivi is said to have replied that Israel's position had not changed, that it was not taking sides and was urging a 'dialogue' between the parties 'to clarify and investigate the matter.' [...]"

BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

"New Highway Bogs Down In Bitterly Divided Bosnia"
By Jonathan Finer
The Washington Post, 1 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"In a country where most roads are so narrow and winding that passing means playing the odds, the four-lane stretch of asphalt north of Sarajevo was supposed to be Bosnia's fast track to the future, part of a 210-mile superhighway linking Budapest to the Adriatic Sea. Instead, the $5 billion project, launched in 2002, has become a symbol of Bosnia's inability to overcome its acrimonious past. Construction has stalled, with only 12 paved miles open for travel even as neighboring countries near completion of their adjoining routes. Some newspapers here have sarcastically referred to it by the local word for toilet, which sounds like the highway's name. Obstructing the project are lingering forms of the same ethnic divides that fueled three years of civil war in the 1990s. Muslim and ethnic Croat officials in the national government in Sarajevo contend that major undertakings such as Bosnia's largest-ever public works project should be coordinated from the capital. But the Serb minority, which tried to secede during the war and today only grudgingly accepts being part of the country, fights almost all forms of national authority. Serb leaders have yet to allow construction to begin on segments in the zone of the country that they dominate, saying that road building should be a local responsibility. [...]"
[n.b. A fascinating article for those of us who attended the International Association of Genocide Scholars gathering in Bosnia & Herzegovina in July. Through experiences like that of travelling through Serb-controlled territory to attend the Srebrenica Massacre commemoration ceremony, or visiting Mostar with its strict divide between Croat and Muslim sides of the river, we were made acutely aware of the lingering divisions. Link to photos of the Bosnia travels, including the Srebrenica commemorations (warning: includes, in the final gallery, imagery of a mass grave exhumation near Srebrenica).]

CHILE

"Chile Ex-General Jailed for Life"
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC Online, 29 August 2007
"Chile's Supreme Court has confirmed the life sentence handed down to a former general for his part in the murder of 12 opponents of Augusto Pinochet. Hugo Salas Wenzel is the first such senior military officer to receive a life term for human rights violations. Wenzel was the head of the intelligence service, the National Information Centre, which carried out the killings. The young rebels had taken part in the failed attempt to assassinate the ex-military leader in September 1986. The military said at the time that the members of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front had died in gun battles with the security forces. A later investigation found they had been detained and shot in cold blood. Hugo Salas Wenzel is the first senior member of Augusto Pinochet's military government to be given a life sentence for human rights abuses committed between 1973 and 1990. The court also increased the sentences of several other agents involved in the killings, known as Operation Albania. The Chilean authorities last year awarded $570,000 (£285,000) in compensation to each of the victims' families. Thousands of supporters of the previous government were killed, tortured or forced into exile during Gen. Pinochet's 1973-1990 military rule."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

DENMARK/IRELAND

"Danes Say Sorry for Viking Raids on Ireland"
By Owen Boycott
The Guardian, 16 August 2007
"More than 1,200 years ago hordes of bloodthirsty Viking raiders descended on Ireland, pillaging monasteries and massacring the inhabitants. Yesterday, one of their more mild-mannered descendants stepped ashore to apologise. The Danish culture minister, Brian Mikkelson, who was in Dublin to participate in celebrations marking the arrival of a replica Norse longboat, apologised for the invasion and destruction inflicted. 'In Denmark we are certainly proud of this ship, but we are not proud of the damages to the people of Ireland that followed in the footsteps of the Vikings,' Mr. Mikkelson declared in his welcoming speech delivered on the dockside at the river Liffey. 'But the warmth and friendliness with which you greet us today and the Viking ship show us that, luckily, it has all been forgiven.' ... The first Viking raiding parties arrived in Ireland in 795, targeting wealthy monasteries on outlying islands such as Rathlin, County Antrim and Inishmurray, County Sligo. By 841, Vikings were over-wintering in fortified settlements such as Dublin, Wexford and Waterford and over the next two centuries these cities were gradually absorbed into local Irish kingdoms. [...]"
[n.b. 1,200 years! That must be a record for a formal apology.]

FRANCE/RWANDAN GENOCIDE

"French Troops 'Raped Girls during Rwanda Genocide'"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 31 August 2007
"French soldiers stationed in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994 have been accused of 'widespread rape' by a Rwandan commission investigating France's role during the conflict. The commission, which is due to publish its final report in October, will also provide fresh evidence that French soldiers trained the Interahamwe, the extremist Hutu militia responsible for most of the killing, and even provided them with weapons. The allegations threaten to plunge relations between Rwanda and its former colonial master to a new low. It could also lead to Rwanda seeking reparations from France at the International Court of Justice. ... France's support for the genocidal Rwandan regime -- both before and during the slaughter -- has been well documented, but the new report sheds some light on the extent of that backing. In particular, it provides the first evidence that French soldiers sent to Rwanda during the genocide as part of a UN-mandated force to protect civilians carried out 'widespread rape' of genocide survivors. Jean Paul Kimonyo, one of the commissioners, said: 'They were asking for Tutsis -- not women -- Tutsis.' The commission was established by the Rwandan president Paul Kagame in April last year and is headed by a former minister of justice. France has accused the commission of being little more than a kangaroo court and when the seven commissioners visited France earlier this year, French authorities made it clear that they were not welcome. Dr. Kimonyo, himself a former press aide to Mr Kagame, said he initially shared some of those fears. 'The law which established the commission said France was guilty already. We were very uneasy about it. But the evidence is overwhelming.' [...]"

IRAQ

"Marines' Trials in Iraq Killings Are Withering"
By Paul von Zielbauer
The New York Times, 30 August 2007
"Last December, when the Marine Corps charged four infantrymen with killing Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005, the allegation was as dark as it was devastating: after a roadside bomb had killed their buddy, a group of marines rampaged through nearby homes, massacring 24 innocent people. In Iraq and in the United States, the killings were viewed as cold-blooded vengeance. After a perfunctory military investigation, Haditha was brushed aside, but once the details were disclosed, the killings became an ugly symbol of a difficult, demoralizing war. After a fuller investigation, the Marines promised to punish the guilty. But now, the prosecutions have faltered. Since May, charges against two infantrymen and a Marine officer have been dismissed, and dismissal has been recommended for murder charges against a third infantryman. Prosecutors were not able to prove even that the killings violated the American military code of justice. Now their final attempt to get a murder conviction is set to begin, with a military court hearing on Thursday for Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the last marine still facing that charge. He is accused of killing 18 Iraqis, including several women and children, after the attack on his convoy. If the legal problems that have thwarted the prosecutors in other cases are repeated this time, there is a possibility that no marine will be convicted for what happened in Haditha. [...]"

"Bombing of Iraqi Sect 'Almost Genocide'"

Associated Press dispatch in the Chicago Sun-Times, 16 August 2007
"Rescuers used bare hands Wednesday to claw through houses shattered by bombings that killed at least 250 and possibly as many as 500 members of an ancient religious sect in the deadliest attack of the Iraq war. The U.S. military blamed al-Qaida in Iraq, and an American called the assault 'act of ethnic cleansing.' The victims of Tuesday night's coordinated attack by four suicide bombers were Yazidis, a small Kurdish-speaking sect that has been targeted by Muslim extremists who consider its members to be blasphemers. 'This is an act of ethnic cleansing, if you will, almost genocide,' Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon said. He said that was evident from the fact Yazidis live in a remote part of Ninevah province that has been far from Iraq's conflict."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Yazidis Fear Annihilation after Iraq Bombings"
By Peter Graff
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 16 August 2007
"Angry members of a minority sect in Iraq said on Thursday they feared annihilation after scores were killed in possibly the worst suicide bomb attack of the four-year conflict. Frail clay houses in the centre of Kahtaniya, one of two villages targeted on Tuesday by garbage trucks packed with explosives, were flattened for several blocks. Chunks of concrete and twisted aluminum lay in the street beside the destroyed homes of hundreds of Yazidis, a minority sect regarded by Sunni militants as infidels. Estimates of the death toll varied from 175 to 500. 'Their aim is to annihilate us, to create trouble and kill all the Yazidis because we are not Muslims,' said Abu Saeed, a grey-bearded old man in Kahtaniya. Saeed told Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, who made a short tour of the devastated area, that 51 members of his extended family had been killed. About 100 angry Yazidi men gathered as Salih met local officials. 'It's like a nuclear site, the site of a nuclear bomb,' Salih, a Kurd, told Reuters. [...]"

"At Least 200 People Killed in Truck Bomb Attacks"
By Megan Greenwell and Dlovan Brwari
The Washington Post, 15 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"At least 200 people were killed Tuesday night by four truck bombs in a massive coordinated attack against members of a small religious sect, the Yazidis, in northern Iraq, the Iraqi army said. The nearly simultaneous explosions, in three Yazidi communities near the town of Sinjar, added up to the deadliest attack in Iraq this year and one of the most lethal since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The Yazidis are an ancient group whose faith combines elements of many historical religions of the region. They worship a peacock archangel and are considered Satanists by some Muslims and Christians in Iraq, a characterization they reject. Yazidis largely live apart from other Iraqis, in villages near the Syrian border, to maintain religious purity, and they are forbidden to fraternize with other groups. Most Yazidis speak Kurdish but object to being called Kurds. Despite such isolation, tensions among the Yazidis, Muslim Kurds and Arab groups in northern Iraq have led to increasingly violent incidents. In April, a 17-year-old Yazidi girl was stoned to death after she eloped with a Sunni Muslim man and converted to Islam. Cellphone video footage of her death, called an 'honor killing' by other Yazidis, was broadcast widely on the Internet, setting off a wave of attacks against the group. Two weeks later, 23 Yazidi factory workers were dragged off a bus and executed in Mosul in apparent retaliation for the teenager's death. Police attributed the attack to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. No one asserted responsibility for Tuesday's bombings. Khairi Bozani, a Yazidi who lives in Sinjar, called them the most recent step in a campaign by other Iraqi groups to drive Yazidis out of the country. 'They are trying to finish the Yazidis,' Bozani said. 'If the girl hadn't been killed, they would have found another excuse to attack us.' [...]"

JAPAN/SECOND WORLD WAR

"Decades After War Trials, Japan Still Honors a Dissenting Judge"
By Norimitsu Onishi
The New York Times, 31 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"An Indian judge, remembered by fewer and fewer of his own countrymen 40 years after his death, is still big in Japan. Among the memorials at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is a monument to Judge Radhabinod Pal of India. In recent weeks alone, NHK, the public broadcaster, devoted 55 minutes of prime time to his life, and a scholar came out with a 309-page book exploring his thinking and its impact on Japan. Capping it all, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a visit to India last week, paid tribute to him in a speech to the Indian Parliament in New Delhi and then traveled to Calcutta to meet the judge’s 81-year-old son. A monument to the judge -- erected two years ago at the Yasukuni Shrine, the memorial to Japan's war dead and a rallying point for Japanese nationalists -- provides a clue to his identity: Radhabinod Pal, the only one out of 11 Allied justices who handed down a not guilty verdict for Japan's top wartime leaders at the post-World War II International Military Tribunal for the Far East, or the Tokyo trials. 'Justice Pal is highly respected even today by many Japanese for the noble spirit of courage he exhibited during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East,' Mr. Abe told the Indian Parliament. Indeed, many of postwar Japan’s nationalist leaders and thinkers have long upheld Judge Pal as a hero, seizing on -- and often distorting -- his dissenting opinion at the Tokyo trials to argue that Japan did not wage a war of aggression in Asia but one of self-defense and liberation. As nationalist politicians like Mr. Abe have gained power in recent years, and as like-minded academics and journalists have pushed forward a revisionist view of Japan’s wartime history, Judge Pal has stepped back into the spotlight, where he remains a touchstone of the culture wars surrounding the Tokyo trials. [...]"

"Japan's Leader Shuns Controversial War Shrine"
By Miwa Suzuki
The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2007
"Japan yesterday expressed remorse for past atrocities on the anniversary of its World War II surrender as its leaders stayed away from a shrine at the centre of friction with neighbouring countries. Sixty-two years after Japan capitulated, the Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, vowed his country would never return to war. Japan 'caused tremendous damage and suffering to many countries, especially in Asian nations,' Mr. Abe said, using identical language to previous statements by Japanese leaders. 'Representing the people of Japan, I, with deep remorse, offer my condolences to the people victimised,' he told an audience that included Emperor Akihito. The emperor's father, Hirohito, who was revered as divine and had never spoken to the public before, went on the radio on August 15, 1945, to announce Japan had to 'bear the unbearable' and surrender as its cities lay in ruins, two of them obliterated by US nuclear bombs. Passions about the war still run high in Asia, with many Chinese and Koreans resentful over Japanese atrocities on their soil. Mr. Abe, the grandson of a World War II cabinet minister, is known for his conservative views on history and speaks sparingly about Japan's past wrongdoing. But languishing politically due to domestic scandals, Mr Abe has cited improved relations with China and South Korea as a key achievement of his government. He stayed away from the Yasukuni shrine, which honours war dead and war criminals alike and has been a source of constant friction with neighbouring states. Last year Junichiro Koizumi became the first prime minister in 21 years to visit the Shinto shrine in Tokyo on the sensitive surrender anniversary, setting off protests by China and South Korea. [...]"

RUSSIA

"Skinhead Violence Rising in Russia"

By Alexander Zaitchik & Mark Ames
The Nation, 29 August 2007
"[...] According to Sova, a Moscow-based organization that tracks hate crimes in Russia, the recent executions push the number of race murders to more than forty. This is twice the number of race murders at this point last year. To give another example of how racial violence has grown, as late as November 2001, the Moscow branch of the Anti-Defamation League estimated that there had been a total of twenty killings by skinheads in recent years. Along with targeting dark-skinned people from Central Asia and the Caucasus, Russia's neo-Nazis have increased their assaults on Russian antifascists and other associated progressive activists. Last month, gangs of pipe-wielding skinheads attacked a peaceful antinuclear camp protesting in Angarsk, Siberia, resulting in the death of a 21-year-old environmental activist and a number of injuries requiring hospitalization. Some suspected that local authorities may have helped organize the attack, although others claim it was just another round in local skinhead versus AntiFa (antifascist) gang fights that ended up deadlier than usual. The big question here is whether the rise in skinhead violence is a strictly organic phenomenon or whether it is being manipulated or even encouraged from above. ... Going back to Yeltsin's and even Gorbachev's time, neo-Nazi organizations like Pamyat and Russian National Unity have been manipulated by (and in some cases invented by) Russian security organs to serve as convenient bogeymen who scare both the West and the local population into supporting the government in power. Others see a more insidious link between the spike in racist violence and the Kremlin. By fostering a xenophobic mood and passing increasingly harsh antiforeigner legislation, the Kremlin may allow skinheads to feel more comfortable, even justified, in their violence. [...]"

"Beheading and Shooting by Russian Neo-Nazis on Video"
By C.J. Chivers
The New York Times, 15 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Russian authorities said Tuesday that they were investigating a video recording of what appeared to be the grisly execution of two bound and gagged young men, filmed in a forest beneath a large Nazi flag. At least one of the men was beheaded on camera as he lay in a shallow grave. The video, which appeared Sunday on several Russian ultranationalist Web sites, circulated on the Internet with a note from a previously unknown organization calling itself the National-Socialist Party of Russia. The note announced that a 'military vanguard' had begun an armed struggle against 'black colonists and those who support them from the Russian government.' It demanded the expulsion from Russia of all Asians and people from the Caucasus and the granting of independence to all of Russia's internal republics in the Caucasus. ... Slightly less than three minutes long, the video begins with scenes of the countryside and the title 'Operation of the National-Socialist Party of Russia to Arrest and Execute Two Colonists From Dagestan and Tajikistan.' For a date, it gives only 2007. The video then shows two terrified dark-skinned men kneeling in the forest under a Nazi flag. Each speaks through a gag in accented Russian, saying only, 'We were arrested by National-Socialists.' One has been bound with heavy tape, the other with rope. One of their captors shouts, 'Glory to Russia!' and then lunges forward and decapitates one of the men with what appears to be a large knife. Heavy metal music plays throughout. Later, the second captive is shown kneeling, head lowered. The bolt of a gun is heard to slam closed. The prisoner is shot in the head and falls face down into a grave. The video ends with two men in camouflage uniforms and black masks giving the Nazi salute. The graphic scenes drew heavy traffic on Russian-language Web sites and prompted intensive commentary on Internet discussion groups. Many viewers, including those who identified themselves as nationalists, expressed horror and denounced the acts. [...]"
[n.b. If this is the start of a genocidal trend, expect it also to be a gendercidal one.]

SERBIA/KOSOVO

"NATO Warns of a War in Kosovo"

By Nebi Qena
Associated Press dispatch, 14 August 2007
"NATO's commander in Kosovo said Tuesday that patience is running out in the volatile province and he warned of further deterioration if international envoys fail to persuade ethnic Albanians and Serbia to agree on its future. German Lt. Gen. Roland Kather, who commands over 16,000 troops in Kosovo, urged Western and Russian envoys to broker a deal between the independence seeking ethnic-Albanians and Serbia's officials or risk facing a violent backlash if no agreement is reached. 'Patience is not endless,' Kather said. 'They should come up with a decision as soon as possible.' Last week envoys from United States, the European Union and Russia launched a 120-day effort to end the impasse over Kosovo. The new effort follows Russia's threat to block a Western-backed plan to grant Kosovo internationally supervised independence in the U.N. Security Council. The diplomats are to report back to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by Dec. 10. Kather said the situation was quiet in the province of some two million people but added it was 'unpredictable.' 'Certainly the situation will deteriorate after those 120 days,' Kather said. 'We have to do everything possible to keep it under control.' The delay in resolving Kosovo's political status has raised fears of renewed violence as the frustration among the majority ethnic Albanians grows in the absence of a decision over its future, eight years into U.N. and NATO administration. 'My main worry is that following some kind of ... political trouble, there will be some individuals, there will be some extremists, there will be some frustration,' Kather said. 'They need a fuse, and then they might come up with some violent actions. That of course, will cause a reaction ... and then suddenly this violence might run out of control,' he said. [...]"

SUDAN/DARFUR

"Mia Farrow's Exclusive Dispatch: I Am a Witness to Darfur's Suffering"

By Mia Farrow
The Independent, 27 August 2007
"[...] Incomprehensibly, it has now been more than four years since the killing began. Some experts believe half a million human beings have died thus far. Others bicker about the exact death toll -- as if it makes a shred of difference to how we must respond. Only the perpetrators dispute that hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children have been killed, in ways that cannot be imagined or described. It is all the more appalling that we cannot know -- that no one is yet able to count the dead. And the dying continues. ... We look to world leaders and our own governments and see that they are mired in self-serving interests. What are we to do about this? I tell my children that 'with knowledge comes responsibility.' Yet our leaders do not reflect this at all. Most of us do not want innocent people to be slaughtered. Most of us wish others well and hope for a world in which all people everywhere can be safe. Yet, in the face of power and politics, we tend to feel overwhelmed, so we step aside and attend to our own business. The future of the world, if there is to be a future, surely lies in humility and in human responsibility. Let us draw strength and courage from the survivors of genocide and conviction from the voices of the dead. [...]"

"Death Rate Declines in Darfur"
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, 26 August 2007
"[...] At the peak of the Darfur crisis three years ago, health experts estimated that 6,000 to 10,000 people were losing their lives each month to disease, hunger and violence. Today, thanks to a drop in violence and improved healthcare, that figure is estimated at 100 to 600 a month, based on United Nations mortality estimates, news reports and interviews with U.N. officials, aid workers and Western diplomats. ... Those who have reviewed the U.N.'s weekly compilations say violence-related casualties this year have averaged 100 to 200 a month, with the largest number of recent deaths arising from inter-tribal clashes in southern Darfur. Overall, civilian casualties in Darfur were down 70% in the first half of 2007, compared with the same period last year, U.N. figures indicate. Officials emphasized, however, that even with the drop in fatalities, violence and insecurity in Darfur remain a problem. ... The overall decline in violence has led some aid officials and diplomats to raise questions about whether the conflict should still be characterized as genocide, a position held by the U.S. government and several international activist groups. 'The idea that thousands are still being killed by janjaweed is a myth,' said a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public comments. 'The genocide happened. And it ended. To say otherwise is obscuring the reality of Darfur.' Darfur activist Eric Reeves, an English professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, agreed that fatalities probably are at the lowest level since the conflict started, but said that conditions remained tense and fatalities could increase quickly if fighting resumes or humanitarian groups withdraw. [...]"

"Photos Show Sudan Breaking Darfur Arms Ban"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 24 August 2007
"Sudan is continuing to deploy offensive military equipment, including attack helicopters, in Darfur in defiance of a UN arms embargo and numerous peace agreements, photographs obtained by Amnesty International show. The photographs show military equipment supplied by Russia at West Darfur's Geneina airport. A previous Amnesty report accused Russia and Sudan's key ally, China, of supplying military equipment that was used by the Sudanese armed forces in the troubled region. A comprehensive arms embargo has been in place in Darfur since March 2005, banning any deployment of military equipment and supplies into the region unless given prior approval by the UN Sanctions Committee on Sudan. Despite this, Sudan makes little attempt to hide its military might in Darfur. In Nyala earlier this year The Independent witnessed MiG fighters and helicopter gunships flying low over the camps of Kalma and Attash, where tens of thousands of Darfuris have sought refuge. The Sudanese armed forces are still carrying out offensive operations inside the province. Up to 2,000 government soldiers surrounded Kalma camp earlier this week to flush out rebels that Khartoum claimed were behind two recent attacks on police posts. Aerial attacks have also continued. Russian-built Antonov aircraft were used to attack the town of Adila in south Darfur on 2 August, and there have been bombing raids on nearby villages. The UN Security Council agreed last month to deploy 26,000 personnel to Darfur to protect civilians. But under pressure from China, the council watered down the resolution, withdrawing the right of the UN force to disarm the militants. [...]"

"Darfur Force Tainted by War Crimes Allegations"
By Julian Borger
The Guardian, 18 August 2007
"The deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Darfur was thrown into confusion yesterday by war crimes allegations against its proposed deputy commander. The United Democratic Force-Inkingi, A Rwandan opposition group, accused Major General Karenzi Karake of responsibility for carrying out political assassinations and ordering reprisal killings against Hutus in Rwanda and Zaire in the years after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when he was the country's chief of military intelligence. The Rwandan government rejected the allegations as 'wild and unfounded.' According to a military spokesman, Major Jill Rutaremara, they represented an effort by those responsible for the genocide 'to tarnish Rwanda's image and to derail efforts at stabilising peace in Sudan. Such unfounded allegations should be treated with the contempt they deserve,' he said in a statement. Gen. Karake has been nominated as the deputy commander of a joint UN and African Union (AU) force established by a security council resolution engineered by Gordon Brown and French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The resolution, which was approved unanimously last month, was seen as the prime minister's first foreign policy success. A foreign office spokeswoman said that the appointment of force commanders was a job for the UN department of peacekeeping operations. But British officials are concerned that if there was any substance to the allegations it could discredit the Darfur mission. [...]"

"Darfur Betrayed"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 14 August 2007
"On August 1, Agence France Press in Paris reflected the international acclaim for a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at finally doing something about the genocide in Darfur: 'UN resolution on Darfur wins global applause.' Even China -- Sudan's closest and most mutually profitable ally -- joined the long-debated resolution to send 26,000 predominantly African UN troops and police to deal with what British prime minister Gordon Brown told the UN general assembly is 'the greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today.' But in the not-so-fine print are the results of China's significant behind-the-scenes weakening of the resolution. (As a member of the Security Council, China has veto power over language that impedes its imperious designs.) Stripped from the original language was a threat by the UN to enact sanctions on General Omar al-Bashir's Khartoum government if it doesn't comply with the now largely toothless UN resolution 1769. Also tossed out was a condemnation of Sudan's persistent harassment and endangering of UN and other humanitarian operations.Interestingly, given Prime Minister Brown's statement regarding the horrors of the ongoing genocide, China was joined by Britain and France during the Security Council's negotiations to remove any mention of punishing Sudan if it chooses not to enforce any part of the resolution. [...]"

ZIMBABWE

"Starving in Zimbabwe 'Amounts to Genocide'"
By Sebastien Berger
The Daily Telegraph, 21 August 2007
"Zimbabweans are starving to death on a scale equivalent to genocide, a top opposition MP claimed yesterday. Four million people will need food aid by the end of the year, the World Food Programme said earlier this month, as President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government oversees the fastest-shrinking economy in the world. David Coltart, a senior member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said there was 'no doubt' Zimbabweans were already starving to death. 'Arguably this is the world's greatest humanitarian crisis,' he told The Daily Telegraph. 'Zimbabwe has the lowest life expectancy in the world: 34 for women and 37 for men.' Mr. Mugabe's mismanagement, which has also seen basic supplies disappear from shop shelves after it imposed price controls, made him culpable, he said. 'To use a legal term, I would say this amounts to genocide with constructive intent. In terms of a complete disregard for the plight of people, not caring whether there is wholesale loss of life, it amounts to genocide.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Jo Jones for bringing this source to my attention.]

"Zimbabwe's Silent Genocide"
By Christina Lamb
The Sunday Times, 8 July 2007
"[...] Amid the breakdown of society -- 20-hour power cuts, water shortages, collapse of the phone system — nobody I ask, whether government official, diplomat or aid worker, has any idea what the population of Zimbabwe is any more. 'That's the $25m question,' says a US diplomat, suggesting the figure may be as low as 8m, instead of the 12m usually cited. In 15 years, life expectancy has fallen to 34 years for women and 37 for men, by far the lowest in the world. What some call a silent genocide has left Zimbabwe with more orphans than anywhere else in the world -- 1.4m according to Unicef. ... Nobody knows how many have died of hunger. But doctors in Zimbabwe say the population's chronic malnutrition, combined with HIV, leads to the onset of full-blown Aids far faster than anywhere else in Africa. ... There are other effects too. All the children I speak to are much older than their size would suggest, and a recent study found that more than one in three people in Harare suffers mental disorders. The main reasons were inability to find food and having belongings taken away by the authorities. Zimbabwe is not yielding photographs of children with stick limbs and flies on their mouths, the images we usually associate with famine in Africa. Something more sinister is under way, almost as if life were just draining out of the country. [...]"




ISSUE: "EXTRAORDINARY RENDITION"

"History Will Not Absolve Us"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 28 August 2007
"If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guant√°namo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament -- as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin's Press) and Charlie Savage's just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown). While the Democratic Congress has yet to begin a serious investigation into what many European legislators already know about American war crimes, a particularly telling report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has been leaked that would surely figure prominently in such a potential Nuremberg trial. The Red Cross itself is bound to public silence concerning the results of its human-rights probes of prisons around the world -- or else governments wouldn't let them in. But The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has sources who have seen accounts of the Red Cross interviews with inmates formerly held in CIA secret prisons. In 'The Black Sites' (August 13, The New Yorker), Mayer also reveals the effect on our torturers of what they do -- on the orders of the president -- to 'protect American values.' ... On July 20, the Bush administration issued a new executive order authorizing the CIA to continue using these techniques -- without disclosing anything about them. If we, the people, are ultimately condemned by a world court for our complicity and silence in these war crimes, we can always try to echo those Germans who claimed not to know what Hitler and his enforcers were doing. But in Nazi Germany, people had no way of insisting on finding out what happened to their disappeared neighbors. We, however, have the right and the power to insist that Congress discover and reveal the details of the torture and other brutalities that the CIA has been inflicting in our name on terrorism suspects. [...]"

ISSUE: GENDER IMBALANCE

"China to Act on Gender Imbalance"
BBC Online, 25 August 2007
"The Chinese government says it is drafting new laws to tackle the growing gender imbalance caused by the widespread abortion of female foetuses. The practice is already banned, but new rules are expected to set out specific punishments for parents and doctors. China's Family Planning Association (CFPC) has revealed the extent of the imbalance -- in one city there are eight young boys for every five girls. Experts fear the phenomenon could have unpredictable social consequences. Some believe that with millions of men unable to find a wife, there could be risks of increasing anti-social and violent behaviour. China's one-child policy, and a traditional preference for male heirs, has led many couples to try to ensure that their single offspring is a boy. Some pay for illegal ultrasound tests to discover the sex of a foetus, and abort it if it is female. 'The root cause is traditional thinking that boys are better than girls, especially in poverty-stricken areas,' Song Jiang, a population expert at Beijing's Renmin University, told the Xinhua news agency. 'Those people expect boys to support the family.' On Friday it was revealed that the eastern city of Lianyungang had the most skewed population. Among children under four years old, there are 163.5 boys for every 100 girls. Ninety-nine cities had gender ratios higher than 125, state-run news agency Xinhua quoted the CFPA as saying in a report. The UN recommends a gender ratio of no more than 107."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

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