Thursday, December 11, 2008

Crimes Against HumanityNOW AVAILABLE: Crimes Against Humanity: A Beginner's Guide, by Adam Jones (OneWorld, 2008; 168 pp., US $14.95 pbk). See "A remarkable book that is immediately accessible for the novice in the field, or students, and yet also engages with its topic in intellectually interesting ways for the more seasoned reader." (James Gow, Professor of International Peace and Security, King's College London.)

Genocide Studies Media File
December 3-11, 2008

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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This will be the last Media File until January.


"Human Bones Found in Argentine Detention Center; 10,000 Fragments Confirming Torture Deaths"
By Jeannette Neumann
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 9 December 2008
"Inside a once-secret detention center where political dissidents were tortured and killed during Argentina's dictatorship 25 years ago, forensic anthropologists have discovered a pit containing 10,000 bone fragments. The first discovery of human remains inside a detention center confirms the testimonies of hundreds of survivors who have said for years that authorities tortured, killed and burned the bodies of political opponents, they said Tuesday. 'This scientifically confirms the testimonies of the detained,' said Luis Fondebrider, a forensic anthropologist who helped uncover the remains inside the former detention center in La Plata known as Arana. The 10,000 bone fragments were unearthed between February and September, and on Tuesday Fondebrider and his team announced that the remains were human. Now months of laboratory work is needed to determine even the minimum number of bodies that were destroyed in the pit. But the evidence already shows that bodies were thrown into the pit, covered in fuel and burned along with tires, to mask the smell of burning flesh. More than 200 bullet marks were found along a wall bordering the mass grave. The bones weren't completely reduced to ash, allowing for genetic analysis to identify the dead. But Fondebrider cautioned that it won't be possible to identify many of the victims, since prolonged exposure to fire destroys most DNA. 'This is the first time there is proof that Arana wasn't only a detention and torture center, but also a center of elimination,' said Maria Vedio, 47, legal chair for the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights La Plata. Some supporters of the military dictatorship have denied that detainees were tortured or killed, despite the well-documented toll from the 'dirty war' crackdown in which political opponents of the junta were made 'to disappear,' along with their spouses, children, and other innocent people unlucky enough to appear in their address books. Official records put the number of disappeared at 13,000, while human rights groups 30,000 were killed. [...]"

"Justice for the Disappeared"
By Chris Bradley
New Statesman, 8 December 2008
"When Raúl Alfonsín became Argentina's new president on 10th December 1983, he came to power on a wave of optimism. Ranking highly among those hopes was that of justice for the crimes of the ousted military dictatorship. The era of indiscriminate torture and murder, in which thousands of citizens including pregnant women, nuns, students, high-school pupils, journalists and left-leaning politicians lost their lives, was over. It was time to make amends. Initially, military leaders were rounded-up and brought before the courts, but soon -- in an act of staggering betrayal -- new laws granted them impunity. During the ensuing years hopes for justice faded but they were never extinguished. And now, as Argentinians celebrate 25 years of democracy, they do so knowing the long process of justice is finally getting somewhere. ... In 1990, new president Carlos Menem pardoned those who had already been sentenced. The scenario only changed with the 2003 election of Néstor Kirchner. 'Kirchner began everything,' says Irma Rojas of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, whose daughter was murdered and whose grandchild was only located last year, after disappearing during the dictatorship. 'He opened the door for human rights.' The torture and disappearances carried out by the military were labelled crimes against humanity and the laws against their prosecution were declared unconstitutional by Argentina's Supreme Court. The first new trial for 20 years began in 2005 but, for some human rights organisations, justice has still been dragging its feet. Chillier, however, defends the process. 'One problem was that there wasn't a clear strategy in advance,' he explains. 'The fact that so many years have passed means that there are difficulties with producing evidence, many witnesses have died, many of those accused have died and others have committed suicide; so, when you put it in context, it's definitely positive.' During the course of this year the scenario has become even more positive. According to the latest figures, 36 people have now been sentenced -- a number which has doubled in the last six months alone. Many high profile cases have come to court such as that of Luciano Benjamín Menéndez, former chief of the third army corps, who was responsible for torture centres across ten Argentine provinces. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. [...]"


"Torture Widespread, Routine in Tibet, Report Says"
By Ben Blanchard
Reuters dispatch, 10 December 2008
"The use of torture in the restless Chinese region of Tibet is widespread and routine and officials regularly ignore legal safeguards supposed to be in place to prevent it, a new report said on Wednesday. Even when detainees are released, they may die of their injuries, be scarred for life mentally or physically and not be able to afford medical treatment or be denied it completely, the Free Tibet group said. 'Despite claims by the Chinese government that there are "extremely few cases of torture," the evidence tells a different story,' Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said. 'There is no doubt that the Chinese government is permitting the use of torture as a weapon to suppress the Tibetan people.' China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment and calls to the spokesman's office of the Chinese-run Tibetan government in Lhasa went unanswered. ... Free Tibet said it had profiled numerous cases of torture carried out against people detained following the demonstrations, which spilled over into other ethnically Tibetan parts of China such as Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. ... Last month, the U.N. Committee Against Torture, in a rare public review of China's record, expressed dissatisfaction with a 'very serious information gap' about abuses in the country where criminal justice information is often considered a state secret. Free Tibet, in the report issued to coincide with International Human Rights Day, said Chinese laws aimed at protecting detainees were regularly ignored in Tibet. 'The international community can no longer hide behind sound bites condemning China's human rights track record in Tibet and must now take specific actions to reverse the worsening crisis in Tibet,' Brigden added. [...]"


"Massacre Unfurls in Congo, Despite Nearby Support"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 11 December 2008
"At last the bullets had stopped, and François Kambere Siviri made a dash for the door. After hiding all night from firefights between rebels and a government-allied militia over this small but strategic town, he was desperate to get to the latrine a few feet away. 'Pow, pow, pow,' said his widowed mother, Ludia Kavira Nzuva, recounting how the rebels killed her 25-year-old son just outside her front door. ... In little more than 24 hours, at least 150 people would be dead, most of them young men, summarily executed by the rebels last month as they tightened their grip over parts of eastern Congo, according to witnesses and human-rights investigators. And yet, as the killings took place, a contingent of about 100 United Nations peacekeepers was less than a mile away, struggling to understand what was happening outside the gates of its base. The peacekeepers were short of equipment and men, United Nations officials said, and they were focusing on evacuating frightened aid workers and searching for a foreign journalist who had been kidnapped. Already overwhelmed, officials said, they had no intelligence capabilities or even an interpreter who could speak the necessary languages. The peacekeepers said they had no idea that the killings were taking place until it was all over. The executions in Kiwanja are a study in the unfettered cruelty meted out by the armed groups fighting for power and resources in eastern Congo. But the events are also a textbook example of the continuing failure of the world’s largest international peacekeeping force, which has a mandate to protect the Congolese people from brutality. [...]"

"Congo and Rwanda to Rein in Militia", 5 December 2008
"The Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda have agreed on a military plan to disband a Rwandan Hutu militia seen as a key cause of conflict in eastern Congo, according to the Congolese foreign minister. Alexis Thambwe Mwamba said on Thursday that the plan to tackle the militia was agreed with his Rwandan counterpart Rosemary Museminali in Goma, the capital of Democratic Republic of Congo's North Kivu province, where weeks of fighting have displaced a quarter of a million people. The conflict pits Tutsi rebels led by renegade General Laurent Nkunda against the Congolese army and Rwandan Hutu fighters from the rebel Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Nkunda cites the presence in east Congo of the FDLR, which allegedly includes perpetrators of Rwanda's 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutus, as the main justification for his Tutsi rebellion, which has conquered fresh territory in recent weeks. Mwamba said the joint plan, whose details he refused to reveal, would be signed on Friday. 'The FDLR must either go back to Rwanda or become non-combatant in Congolese territory,' he told reporters. Museminali said the militia was 'actually the root cause of the insecurity that we see around.' The Congolese minister said implementation of the plan could involve friendly outside forces, such as the UN peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUC) or soldiers from the southern African SADC bloc, which has offered troops to help pacify east Congo. Nkunda has declared a ceasefire with the Congolese government army, but his Tutsi fighters are still battling the FDLR, whose existence some believe is at the heart of the persisting fighting in North Kivu. [...]"

"Rwanda Stirs Deadly Brew of Troubles in Congo"
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, 3 December 2008
"There is a general rule in Africa, if not across the world: Behind any rebellion with legs is usually a meddling neighbor. And whether the rebellion in eastern Congo explodes into another full-fledged war, and drags a large chunk of central Africa with it, seems likely to depend on the involvement of Rwanda, Congo's tiny but disproportionately mighty neighbor. Park rangers loyal to the CNDP make their way through the Virunga National Park near the Ugandan border in eastern Congo. There is a long and bloody history here, and this time around the evidence seems to be growing that Rwanda is meddling again in Congo's troubles; at a minimum, the interference is on the part of many Rwandans. As before, Rwanda's stake in Congo is a complex mix of strategic interest, business opportunity and the real fears of a nation that has heroically rebuilt itself after near obliteration by ethnic hatred. The signs are ever-more obvious, if not yet entirely open. Several demobilized Rwandan soldiers, speaking in hushed tones in Kigali, Rwanda's tightly controlled capital, described a systematic effort by Rwanda's government-run demobilization commission to send hundreds if not thousands of fighters to the rebel front lines. Former rebel soldiers in Congo said that they had seen Rwandan officers plucking off the Rwandan flags from the shoulders of their fatigues after they had arrived and that Rwandan officers served as the backbone of the rebel army. Congolese wildlife rangers in the gorilla park on the thickly forested Rwanda-Congo border said countless heavily armed men routinely crossed over from Rwanda into Congo. A Rwandan government administrator said a military hospital in Kigali was treating many Rwandan soldiers who were recently wounded while fighting in Congo, but the administrator said he could be jailed for talking about it. There seems to be a reinvigorated sense of the longstanding brotherhood between the Congolese rebels, who are mostly ethnic Tutsi, and the Tutsi-led government of Rwanda, which has supported these same rebels in the past. [...]"


"The Man Who Would Tear Down 'Scaffolding' of Zionism"
By Patrick Martin
The Globe and Mail, 9 December 2008
"Asked to name the forces that led to the state of Israel, almost every Israeli would say Zionism and the Holocaust. If those same people were asked just a few years ago which Israeli was likely to become prime minister, the name most often given would have been Avraham Burg -- son of a prominent rabbi and founder of the country's National Religious Party, former paratrooper, leading member of the Labour Party, speaker of the Knesset and head of the powerful Jewish Agency. For more than 20 years, Avrum Burg, as he likes to be known, was a pillar of the Israeli establishment. However, four years ago Mr. Burg turned his back on all that and wrote a powerful book, an indictment of how Zionism and the Holocaust have been used. In The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise from its Ashes, Mr. Burg slams what he calls the 'omnipresence of the Shoah,' in Israeli society and urges his countrymen to move beyond Zionism. He goes even further and says that Zionism has become an excuse for racism. The statement is not far removed from the infamous 1975 UN 'Zionism is racism' resolution to which Israel, Canada and many other countries strenuously objected, and had rescinded in 1991. ... Mr. Burg says he decided to write his highly critical book in large part because Israel had become aimless. 'It's a kingdom without prophecy,' he writes. 'Where are we headed? No one knows.' He wrote to open the eyes of Israelis to a vision based on trust and optimism, not fear and loathing. He believed that the Holocaust had paralyzed Israelis. The mantra of 'never again' had meant that every possible threat to the country was treated as another potential holocaust. Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, in Mr. Burg's eyes, plays on people's fears when he likens Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler and says, 'It's 1938 all over again.' 'Give me a break, Mr. Netanyahu,' Mr. Burg says. 'Did we have a state in '38? Did we have an omnipotent army in '38? Did we have the entire Western superpower world supporting us in '38? No we did not. And to equate Ahmadinejad to Hitler is actually diminishing Hitler,' he insists. 'Because of the Shoah, Israel has become the voice of the dead,' he writes in his book, arguing that even military victory cannot overcome the great bereavement. [...]"


"Rights Groups Want Religious Killings Tried As Genocide"
By Emeka Mamah
Vanguard on, 11 December 2008
"Six human rights organisations yesterday marked the World Human Rights Day in Kaduna with a call for the amendment of the 1999 Constitution to ensure that those who kill in the name of religion or ethnicity are tried for genocide. The rights groups also urged President Umaru Yar"Adua to lift his government's current siege on journalists and media houses as such measures are counter productive. President of the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), Comrade Shehu Sani who briefed newsmen as part of the activities marking the event said that Yar'Adua has not lived up to his promises to Nigerians on the rule of law as the bedrock of his administration even as he condemned the appointment of former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a UN envoy on Congo peace mission after all his human rights violations during his eight years rule in the country. Sani however said that apart from the Federal Government's clamp down on the press, Zamfara, Sokoto and Plateau states are the worst human rights violators among the states in the country. ... 'Close to one million people have been killed in the north especially in Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano states among others owing to religious or ethnic violence. But we want to say that religious violences in the country should be treated as cases of genocide. There is no need to declare a state of emergency in states where there is religious or ethnic upheaval for only six months after the perpetrators get back to their jobs and continue as if nothing happened.'"


"Escapee Tells of Horrors in North Korean Prison Camp"
By Blaine Harden
The Washington Post, 11 December 2008
"In Camp No. 14, the North Korean political prison where Shin Dong-hyuk was born and where he says he watched the hanging of his mother, inmates never saw a picture of Kim Jong Il. ... Inmates did not need to know the face of their 'Dear Leader,' as Kim is called. Behind electrified fences, they tended pigs, tanned leather, collected firewood and labored in mines until they died or were executed. The exception is Shin, who is 26 and lives in a small rented room here in Seoul. He is a thin, short, shy man, with quick, wary eyes, a baby face, and sinewy arms bowed from childhood labor. There are burn scars on his back and left arm from where he was tortured by fire at age 14, when he was unable to explain why his soon-to-be-hanged mother had tried to escape. The middle finger of his right hand is cut off at the first knuckle, punishment for accidentally dropping a sewing machine in the garment factory at his camp. There are 14,431 North Korean defectors living in South Korea, according to the latest government count. Shin is the only one known to have escaped to the South from a prison camp in the North. Shin's story could not be independently verified, but it has been vetted and vouched for by leading human rights activists and members of defector organizations in Seoul. They came to know Shin when he arrived in South Korea in 2005 and was hospitalized with post-traumatic stress disorder. 'At first, I could not believe him because no one ever succeeded in the escape,' said Kim Tae-jin, president of the Democracy Network Against North Korean Gulag and a defector from North Korea who spent a decade in another concentration camp there. The No. 15 camp where Kim was confined -- unlike Shin's No. 14 -- sometimes released political prisoners, as it did Kim, if they were 'fully revolutionized.' 'I saw too many prisoners executed before my eyes for attempting to escape,' said Kim. 'No one made it out, except for Shin.' The U.S. government and human rights groups estimate that 150,000 to 200,000 people are now being held in the North's prison camps. Many of the camps can be seen in satellite images, but North Korea denies their existence. [...]"


"Civil Rights Group Claim Israeli Occupation is 'Reminiscent of Apartheid'"
By Ben Lynfield
The Independent, 7 December 2008
"Israel's leading civil rights organisation yesterday broke a taboo by describing Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank as being 'reminiscent of apartheid' in South Africa. Alleging an intensification of human rights abuses against Palestinians, the respected Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) made the comparison in an annual report that described the existence of separate legal, planning and transportation systems for Jewish settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank. 'Israel has built a modern arterial road system in the West Bank intended in fact only for use by Israeli traffic, whereas the Palestinians are forced to travel for the most part on twisting and dangerous roads,' the report said. While Israel facilitates the expansion of Jewish settlements, it restricts the growth of Palestinian towns, the report added. 'This state of affairs in which all the services, budgets and the access to natural resources are granted along discriminatory and separatist lines according to ethnic-national criteria is a blatant violation of the principle of equality and is in many ways reminiscent of the Apartheid regime in South Africa.' The report said. Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, responded that 'the whole comparison is inaccurate and offensive. In the real world where there are real terrorist threats, the choice is between roadblocks and protracted waiting [for Palestinians] or roads for Palestinians,' he said. ACRI wrote that while South Africa had been a case of a 'racist separation criterion' the one applied in the occupied terirories is 'ethnic-national.' The group decided to drop its previous reluctance to use the South Africa comparison, often invoked by those pressing for an international boycott of Israel, because 'things are getting worse rather than better' according to spokeswoman Melanie Takefman. [...]"

"Hebron Settler Riots Were Out and Out Pogroms"
By Avi Issacharoff, 5 December 2008
"An innocent Palestinian family, numbering close to 20 people. All of them women and children, save for three men. Surrounding them are a few dozen masked Jews seeking to lynch them. A pogrom. This isn't a play on words or a double meaning. It is a pogrom in the worst sense of the word. First the masked men set fire to their laundry in the front yard and then they tried to set fire to one of the rooms in the house. The women cry for help, 'Allahu Akhbar.' Yet the neighbors are too scared to approach the house, frightened of the security guards from Kiryat Arba who have sealed off the home and who are cursing the journalists who wish to document the events unfolding there. The cries rain down, much like the hail of stones the masked men hurled at the Abu Sa'afan family in the house. A few seconds tick by before a group of journalists, long accustomed to witnessing these difficult moments, decide not to stand on the sidelines. They break into the home and save the lives of the people inside. The brain requires a minute or two to digest what is taking place. Women and children crying bitterly, their faces giving off an expression of horror, sensing their imminent deaths, begging the journalists to save their lives. Stones land on the roof of the home, the windows and the doors. Flames engulf the southern entrance to the home. The front yard is littered with stones thrown by the masked men. The windows are shattered and the children are frightened. All around, as if they were watching a rock concert, are hundreds of Jewish witnesses, observing the events with great interest, even offering suggestions to the Jewish wayward youth as to the most effective way to harm the family. And the police are not to be seen. Nor is the army. ... Tess, the photographer, bursts into tears as the events unfold around her. The tears do not stem from fear. It is shame, shame at the sight of these occurrences, the deeds of youths who call themselves Jews. Shame that we share the same religion. [...]"

"Reports Grow of Palestinian Torture"
By Adam Entous and Alastair MacDonald
Reuters dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 4 December 2008
"Forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Western-backed Palestinian president, are rounding up suspected Islamist activists and allegations of torture and abuse of legal procedure are mounting sharply. 'They shouted "You're Hamas! Tell us what you're up to!" as they were hitting me,' one man recounted to Reuters of an ordeal last month in a Palestinian prison in Hebron. He spoke, too, of being forced to hang or stand for hours in 'stress positions.' The 25-year-old factory worker, among many to have spent time in Israeli jails on suspicion of militancy for the Islamist movement, was too afraid of the security forces to be named. But his story is one that rights monitors and Western officials say they have been hearing more often lately as a potential new crisis approaches next month in the rumbling factional warfare between Hamas, masters of the Gaza Strip, and Abbas, whose Fatah movement dominates the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Rights monitors logged four times as many torture complaints in November as had been the previous monthly average this year. Mohammed al-Hammouri said his son Amjad, a dentist who ran unsuccessfully for parliament in 2006 on a Hamas ticket and was arrested at his Hebron surgery in October, remains in a jail run by Mr. Abbas's intelligence service more than a month after the Palestinian High Court ordered his release. 'What can I do, if they ignore even the High Court?' the elder Mr. Hammouri said. The Palestinian government said in a statement that it held no political prisoners and praised security forces for tackling challenges posed by both the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and by Hamas, which it accused of crimes in Gaza. 'As for torture, ... the matter is being exaggerated and is totally untrue,' it said. 'We are determined to banish torture and we do not sanction it if and when it happens. We also remind you that interrogation is a natural part of any detention.' [...]"


"Serbia Finally 'Willing' to Catch Fugitives"
By Aleksandar Roknic
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 5 December 2008
"The remaining two fugitives may not be able to escape trial at the Hague tribunal for much longer now that Serbia seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to track them down. While Ratko Mladic and Goran Hadzic are considered skilled at deception and are thought have a formidable and tight-knit network of helpers, Serb officials say they have the entire state security structures after them. 'Unfortunately, we still don’t have a trace that would lead us to Mladic, but we are doing everything we can to find him,' said Rasim Ljajic, president of the Serbian National Council for Cooperation with the Tribunal. Zoran Dragisic, professor at the Faculty for Security in Belgrade, told IWPR he believed that Belgrade was now making genuine attempts to find the suspects. '[A] lack of political will is not a problem any more and the Serbian government will send him to The Hague if they find him,' he said. Although Mladic and Hadzic have evaded capture for years, recent arrests of other war crimes suspects have raised hopes in The Hague that the two men may finally be running out of time. Zdravko Tolimir, ex-assistant commander in charge of information and safety within the main staff of the Bosnian Serb Army, VRS, was arrested on May 31, 2007 in Bosnia. Police apprehended him in the Bosnian Serb entity Republika Srpska as he allegedly tried to cross into Serbia. Stojan Zupljanin, a former police chief from the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, was arrested on June 11 this year in a rented apartment in Pancevo, a Belgrade suburb. Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, meanwhile, was arrested in Serbia’s capital on July 21 this year, although the details of his capture remain obscure. Yet while many have taken heart from these arrests, analysts warn that catching the final two indictees will not be easy -- and will mean hours of painstaking police work to trace those people helping them hide. [...]"


"Children 'Executed' in 1950 South Korean Killings"
By Charles J. Hanley and Jae-Soon Chang
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 6 December 2008
"Government investigators digging into the grim hidden history of mass political executions in South Korea have confirmed that dozens of children were among many thousands shot by their own government early in the Korean War. The investigative Truth and Reconciliation Commission has thus far verified more than two dozen mass killings of leftists and supposed sympathizers, among at least 100,000 people estimated to have been hastily shot and dumped into makeshift trenches, abandoned mines or the sea after communist North Korea invaded the south in June 1950. The killings, details of which were buried in classified U.S. files for a half-century, were intended to keep southern leftists from aiding the invaders at a time when the rightist, U.S.-allied government was in danger of being overrun by communist forces. Family survivors last month met with the U.S. Embassy for the first time, saying afterward they demanded an apology for alleged 'direct and indirect' American involvement in the killings. Declassified records show U.S. officers were present at one killing field and that at least one U.S. officer sanctioned another mass political execution if prisoners otherwise would be freed by the North Koreans. Uncounted hundreds were subsequently killed, witnesses reported. With thousands of citizens' petitions in hand, the 3-year-old truth commission has been taking testimony from witnesses and family survivors, poring over police and military files, both here and in the United States, and excavating mass grave sites. Before suspending operations for the winter, crews had exhumed the remains of 965 victims from 10 mass graves, out of at least 168 probable sites across South Korea. They only scratched the surface in some cases: At a cobalt mine in the far south, they penetrated just 36 feet into a vertical shaft, recovering 107 skeletons from among 3,500 bodies believed dumped there. Some mass killings were carried out before the war; many came in the first weeks after the June 25, 1950, invasion, and others occurred later in 1950 when U.S. and South Korean forces recaptured Seoul and the southerners rounded up and shot alleged northern collaborators. The executioners at times cold-bloodedly killed families of suspected leftists, the commission has found. [...]"
[n.b. This is probably the most substantial genocide of the 1950s, only beginning to be uncovered, and apparently "directly and indirectly" supervised by the United States.]


"Sri Lanka in 'Genocide Red Alert' Watch List"
TamilNet, 9 December 2008
"New York-based Genocide Prevention Project in a report to be published Tuesday includes Sri Lanka as one of the eight "red alert" countries where genocide and other mass atrocities are underway or risk breaking out. A comprehensive list of 33 countries is also contained in the report. Tuesday marks the 60th anniversary of the United Nation's convention on the prevention of genocide, and 20th anniversary of U.S's ratification of the treaty. 'Red alert' countries include Afghanistan, and Iraq alongside regions currently experiencing genocidal conflict such as Sudan's Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These and Myanmar, Pakistan, Somalia and Sri Lanka all made the list's top eight because they appear in each of the five 'expert' indexes. The next 25 'orange alert' countries appear in at least three of the indexes. They include China, Colombia, Philippines and Indonesia as places where ongoing or simmering violence could flare to genocidal proportions. 'It is possible to identify early indicators of mass atrocity crimes. But what happens now is the international community sees what's going on, gets paralyzed and, if it acts, really only acts after the fact,' said Jill Savitt, project executive director. Savitt states three factors that are likely to change the 'political will' lacking in the past. First, the stated determination of Susan Rice, U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's choice for U.S. ambassador to the UN, to prevent future genocides after witnessing the after-effects of the 1994 Rwanda slaughter. Second, current discussion around the 60th anniversary of the genocide prevention convention, which calls on countries to prevent and punish actions of genocide. And third, the public 'guilt' over what occurred in Rwanda and Bosnia, and what she called public 'hunger for a response' to the Darfur crisis, Savitt says. [...]"


"Darfur, Another Year Later"
The New York Times (Editorial), 10 December 2008
"In January, President Bush said this about Darfur: 'My administration called this genocide. Once you label it genocide, you obviously have to do something about it.' Yet, last week -- nearly one year later -- this is what the International Criminal Court prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, told the United Nations Security Council about Darfur: 'Genocide continues. Rapes in and around the camps continue. Humanitarian assistance is still hindered. More than 5,000 displaced persons die each month.' The world has long declared its revulsion at the atrocities committed by Sudan’s government and its proxy militias in Darfur and done almost nothing to stop it. It took years of political wrangling to get the Security Council to approve a strengthened peacekeeping force with deployment set for Jan. 1. More than 11 months later, the Security Council has managed to send only 10,000 of the promised 26,000 peacekeepers. Large-scale military attacks against populated areas continue. Much of the fault lies with Sudan's cynically obstructionist president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. But Russia and especially China -- which has major oil interests in Sudan -- have shamefully enabled him. So have African leaders. The United States and its allies also bear responsibility for temporizing, most recently over how to transport troops and equipment to the conflict zone. President Bush said on Wednesday that the United States was prepared to provide airlift. So why has this taken so long? Now, the war crimes charges Mr. Moreno-Ocampo has brought against the Sudanese leader for his role in masterminding Darfur's horrors (the burning of villages, bombing of schools and systematic rape of woman) may -- may -- be changing the calculus in Khartoum. [...]"


"Killing Spree Leaves Albinos Living in Fear"
By Daniel Howden
The Independent, 8 December 2008
"The remote island of Ukerewe, several hours across Lake Victoria and two days overland from the capital of Tanzania, is the one remaining shelter, a place where albinos can live in relative safety. 'Life is better here on the island,' says Alphonce Kajanja. Standing in Ukerewe's main market he is just like any other fishmonger, only his hat shades a white face with swollen liquid eyes and cracked lips. He says there have been no albino murders on the island. 'People here don't believe in this satanic campaign.' Elsewhere, the killing continues. In the past week, two more Tanzanian albinos were murdered. Elizabeth Hussein was hacked to pieces by men with machetes in Shinyanga province last Tuesday. She was just 13. Then Ezekiel John, 47, was shot and had his arms and legs cut off near the city of Kigoma on Thursday. Their deaths bring the toll to 35 murders in just more than a year. There is similar violence throughout east and central Africa. And even in west and southern Africa, albinos face persecution and discrimination. The campaign is being orchestrated by witch doctors who claim they can make people rich using limbs and blood from their white-skinned neighbours. In some areas, albino children go to school with bodyguards, others hide at home, and distraught relatives pile rocks on their dead loved ones to deter grave-robbers. ... [Josephat] Torner ... believes the murders may have been going on unnoticed for many years. Countless numbers of albino babies die in childbirth. 'What's to stop a nurse killing an albino baby and saying that it died of natural causes.' Nobody knows how many disappeared before people started keeping count. The lives of many albinos have been lived in total seclusion. Inside some homes, albino graves have been dug and marked. People have grown up, he says, being told albinos are ghosts. 'We don't die,' he says. 'We just disappear.'"


"Writers Risk Backlash with Apology for Armenian Genocide"
By Robert Tait
The Guardian, 8 December 2008
"Academics and writers in Turkey have risked a fierce official backlash by issuing a public apology for the alleged genocide suffered by Armenians at the hands of Ottoman forces during the first world war. Breaking one of Turkish society's biggest taboos, the apology comes in an open letter that invites Turks to sign an online petition supporting its sentiments. It reads: 'My conscience does not accept the insensitivity showed to and the denial of the Great Catastrophe that the Ottoman Armenians were subjected to in 1915. I reject this injustice and for my share, I empathise with the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers. I apologise to them.' The contents expose its authors -- three scholars, Ahmet Insel, Baskin Oran and Cengiz Aktar, and a journalist, Ali Bayramoglu -- to the wrath of the Turkish state, which has prosecuted writers, including the Nobel prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, for supporting Armenian genocide claims. Turkey rejects the assertion of many historians and Armenia's government that up to 1.5 million Armenians died in a wave of expulsions that amounted to state-sanctioned genocide. Officials claim the death toll was much lower and that most of the victims died from disease. They also say many Turks were killed by Armenians, who have long been accused of allying themselves with enemy Russian forces against the Ottoman empire. The letter has triggered a furious response from ultranationalists, who have labelled it a 'betrayal' and an 'insult to the Turkish nation.' However, Aktar, a professor of EU studies at Istanbul's University of Bahcesehir, said Turks needed to apologise for being unable to discuss the issue because of official policy, which has long repressed open debate on the Armenians' fate. 'Today many people in Turkey, with all good intentions, think that nothing happened to the Armenians,' he told the newspaper Vatan. 'The official history says that this incident happened through secondary, not very important, and even mutual massacres. They push the idea that it was an ordinary incident explainable by the conditions of the first world war. Unfortunately, the facts are very different.' He added: 'This is a voice coming from the individual's conscience. Those who want to apologise can apologise, and those who do not should not.' The letter coincides with a tentative rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia. [...]"


"Obama's First Problem is US War Crimes"
By Andrew Sullivan
The Sunday Times, 30 November 2008
"[...] The question remains: what is to be done? It is not Obama's style to launch into a prosecutorial investigation of intelligence officials or to open new partisan wounds by subjecting Bush, Cheney, Tenet, Donald Rumsfeld and others to war crime charges. He is intent on unifying the country, not further dividing it. He needs the professionals running the antiterror effort and, after eight years of Bush-Cheney, it is hard to find people not tainted by torture. There is also the possibility that Bush himself might make a preemptive strike and, upon his departure from Washington, issue a blanket pardon for all his aides and underlings who aided and abetted war crimes in the past seven years. Leaving those pardons in place while prosecuting low-level officials or CIA agents would be deeply unfair. That was the rationale behind the 2006 Military Commissions Act, which gave retroactive immunity for war crimes to civilians in the administration, but not to the military grunts who enforced the policy, and which carved out a continuing exception for torture to CIA agents. So perhaps the sanest way forward is a truth commission, modelled on those in Chile and South Africa that maintained governmental continuity for a while but set up a process that allowed for a maximal gathering of the relevant facts and names. The president could appoint a powerful and respected prosecutor to begin the process. The commission would focus not just on the military and CIA but also on the Bush justice department and Office of Legal Counsel, and the abuse of the law and its interpretation that gave Bush and Cheney transparently phoney legal cover for war crimes. At the end of the second world war, US officials prosecuted Nazi lawyers and civilians who tortured no one themselves but came up with legal flimflam to turn war crimes into legal policy. Why not apply the same logic to Bush's legal architects -- the men who declared the president was bound by no law and no treaty in subjecting prisoners to torture up to the very edge of death? [...]"


"Zimbabwe Villagers Face Starvation"
By Robyn Dixon
The Los Angeles Times, 3 December 2008
"[...] The twin miseries of crop failure and economic collapse have left Zimbabwe's villages without food. Millions survive on nothing but wild fruit, and many have died. There are no official statistics. But ask people here in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland South province whether they know anyone who died of hunger recently, and the answer is nearly always yes. Sometimes it's four or six people in the last couple of weeks. Sometimes they just say 'plenty.' 'Children are dying out in the bush,' one foreign doctor says, on condition of anonymity. 'We are all guarded. We have to keep quiet or else we'll be kicked out' by the government. The crisis has been exacerbated by President Robert Mugabe's decision in June to suspend humanitarian aid during the run-up to his one-man presidential runoff. The long-ruling Mugabe, stunned when he won fewer votes than opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round in March, accused aid agencies of supporting the opposition and didn't lift the ban until August. Critics say the regime, which has a history of denying food to opposition areas, was using hunger as a political tool to force people to vote for Mugabe. In past years, groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Zimbabwean rights group Solidarity Peace Trust have reported that the Grain Marketing Board, the state monopoly responsible for distribution of maize, the nation's staple, has routinely denied food to opposition supporters. But this year, there is virtually no grain from the board -- and in many areas, no humanitarian aid either. 'The food always ends up in the hands of ZANU-PF,' says villager Solomon Nsinga, 66, referring to Mugabe's ruling party. 'The guys in charge of distribution are ZANU-PF. This is where the problem is. ZANU-PF gets it first.' [...]"


"Nearly a Billion People Worldwide Are Starving, UN Agency Warns"
By Julian Borger and Juliette Jowitt
The Guardian, 10 December 2008
"Almost a billion people go hungry each day after food price rises pushed 40 million more people around the world into the ranks of the undernourished, the UN food agency reported yesterday. According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), food prices have more than halved from their historic peaks a few months ago, but the cost of basic staples measured by an FAO index is still high: 28% higher on average than two years ago. That has led to an increase in the number of people unable to afford to eat enough calories to lead a normal, active life. There are now estimated to be 963 million people, 14% of the world's population, going hungry in 2008, up by 40 million from last year. The FAO's hunger report, the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2008, found that the majority of the hungry live in the developing world, 65% of them in just seven countries: India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. The worst affected are landless families, particularly households headed by women. 'For millions of people in developing countries, eating the minimum amount of food every day to live an active and healthy life is a distant dream,' said the FAO's assistant director general, Hafez Ghanem. 'The structural problems of hunger, like the lack of access to land, credit and employment, combined with high food prices remain a dire reality.' ... At an emergency food summit in Rome in June, world leaders agreed to increase agricultural aid in order to help boost food production in the developing world, but the credit crunch combined with a recent fall in food prices have taken away some of the urgency behind the international effort. 'This sad reality should not be acceptable at the dawn of the 21st century,' the FAO's director general, Jacques Diouf, said in a speech to launch the report. 'Not enough has been done to reduce hunger and not enough is being done to prevent more people becoming hungry.'"


"Bipartisan US Panel Offers Blueprint to Prevent Genocide"
By Jim Lobe
Inter Press Service dispatch on, 9 December 2008
"A bipartisan task force of former top national security policymakers is calling on the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama to make the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities overseas a top U.S. foreign policy priority. In a report released here Monday, the group, which was co-chaired by former President Bill Clinton's Pentagon chief, William Cohen, and secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, argued that mass atrocities threaten core U.S. national interests and that the national security bureaucracy should be reformed to reflect that priority. Its release came on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the U.N.'s adoption of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the 20th anniversary of its final ratification by the United States. In particular, the group called for the creation of an Inter-Agency Atrocities Prevention Committee in the National Security Council, incorporating guidance on preventing and responding to genocide into U.S. military doctrine, and requiring the intelligence community to report in its annual analysis on possible threats to the U.S. to include possible genocidal situations around the world. Its report, 'Preventing Genocide: A Blueprint for U.S. Policymakers,' also called for building the capacity of international institutions -- including NATO, regional organisations, and the United Nations -- to prevent genocide and mass atrocities and for earmarking 250 million dollars each year in the foreign aid budget for dealing with urgent situations, unilaterally if necessary. ... The report, which was published jointly by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the Endowment of the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), is the latest of many by think tanks and other organisations that hope to influence the incoming Obama administration. The bipartisan character of this task force should make it one of the more attractive to the new administration. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Peter Prontzos for bringing this source to my attention.]

"60 Years On, Genocide Convention Still Prompts Debate"
Deutsche Welle, 8 December 2008
"Sixty years ago, the UN adopted the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This week, historians, lawyers and politicians discussed the convention's future at a conference in The Hague. Why is it that a massacre, as horrific as it may be, is not considered genocide? At what point can we begin using the word genocide to describe the worst crime committed human beings can perpetrate on each other? These were the types of questions being posed at a conference in the Hague on Monday to mark 60 years since the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 260, better known as the convention on genocide. Among the guest speakers was Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno Ocampo. And it's no coincidence that the conference is being held in The Hague, which, due to its many international courts, has developed into the 'legal capital of the world,' former UN General Secretary, Boutros Gali, once said. Among the program points was a discussion about the definition of genocide as it was laid down in the UN Convention on December 9, 1948. The most important criterion is the intention to completely obliterate an entire race. That's why genocide doesn't always involve massacres -- a single murder will do. Even if all the women of a certain population are to be made infertile, or all the children are to be kidnapped, it can still be genocide if the purpose is to wipe out that population. It's the most decisive criterion, and for the prosecutors, the hardest to prove. The Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin -- a pioneer in the field of international justice -- coined the term genocide. He was responding to the mass murder of Armenians at the hands of the Turks in 1915 -- a massacre that even today, is not legally classified as genocide. This also applies to the Holocaust. It was never explicitly defined as genocide before a court, and not a single defendant has ever been found guilty of genocide towards the Jews. The usual verdict was 'crimes against humanity.' Only in the last 15 years have courts ever found defendants guilty of genocide, in two cases -- Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. In the judges' opinions, the mass murder of the Tutsis and the murder of thousands of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica were clear cases of genocide. At the Rwanda tribunal, a large number of political leaders were given life sentences in prison. [...]"

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

NOW AVAILABLE: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones (Routledge, 2006; 430 pp., US $33.95 pbk). See "The best introductory text available to students of genocide studies ... likely to become the gold standard by which all subsequent introductions to this enormously important subject will be measured" (Kenneth J. Campbell).

Genocide Studies Media File
November 18 - December 1, 2008

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

Consider inviting colleagues and friends to subscribe to Genocide_Studies and the G_S Media File. All it takes is an email to


"Acid Attacks and Rape: Growing Threat to Women Who Oppose Traditional Order"
By Clancy Chassay
The Guardian, 22 November 2008
"[...] For women and girls across Afghanistan, conditions are worsening -- and those women who dare to publicly oppose the traditional order now live in fear for their lives. The Afghan MP Shukria Barakzai receives regular death threats for speaking out on women's issues. Talking at her home in central Kabul, she closed the living room door as her three young daughters played in the hall. 'You can't imagine what it feels like as a mother to leave the house each day and not know if you will come back again,' she said, her eyes welling up as she spoke. 'But there is no choice. I would rather die for the dignity of women than die for nothing. Should I stop my work because there is a chance I might be killed? I must go on, and if it happens it happens.' Barakzai receives frequent but cryptic warnings about planned suicide attacks on her car, but no help from the government. Officials advise her to stay at home and not go to work, but offer nothing in the way of security assistance, despite her requests. She said warlords in parliament who received similar threats were immediately provided with armoured vehicles, armed guards and a safe house by the government. Afghan women are feeling increasingly vulnerable as the security situation worsens and a growing number of western and Afghan officials call for the Taliban to join the government. ... Under Taliban rule, up until 2001, women were not allowed to work and were forbidden from venturing outside the home without a male escort. Afghan women who defy traditional gender roles and speak out against the oppression of women are routinely subject to threats, intimidation and assassination. An increasingly powerful Taliban regularly attacks projects, schools and businesses run by women. [...]"


"Ahenakew Testifies That He Doesn't Hate Jews, Only 'What They Do to People'"
By Chris Purdy
Canadian Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 27 November 2008
"A former aboriginal leader on trial for wilfully promoting hatred has testified that he doesn't hate Jews, only 'what they do to people.' And he said he still believes Jews caused the Second World War. David Ahenakew took the stand in his own defence Thursday and said his feelings about Jews developed when he was serving with the Canadian military in the Middle East. 'Everybody says "I'm a Jew-hater,"' he said. 'I don't hate the Jews, but I hate what they do to people.' This is the second trial for Mr. Ahenakew, 75. It's alleged that he promoted hatred against Jews during a public speech and subsequent interview with a Saskatoon reporter in 2002. Mr. Ahenakew recalled for the court how he was peacekeeping in the Gaza Strip, the coastal piece of land bordering Egypt and Israel, in 1964 and trying to maintain fences where land mines were killing children. He told the judge he believed the Israelis kept taking down the fences. ... Mr. Ahenakew testified that the fences reminded him of his own people living on reservations and brought up a lot of emotion in him. ... He became a leader with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and eventually was named national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. But his career went off the rails in 2002. During a fiery, rambling speech at a Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations health conference, Mr. Ahenakew complained about bigotry in Canada and blamed the Jews for causing the Second World War. A reporter later asked him to clarify his comments and Mr. Ahenakew suggested that the Holocaust was justified. 'How do you get rid of a disease like that, that's going to take over, that's going to dominate?' Mr. Ahenakew told the reporter. 'The Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war. That's how Hitler came in. He was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn't take over Germany or Europe ... That's why he fried six million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the God damned world.' Mr. Ahenakew was asked Thursday if he still believes what he said, and he answered yes. [...]"


"Congo: Hutus and Tutsis 'Will Always Kill Each Other'"
By David Blair
THe Telegraph, 30 November 2008
"At the root of Congo's turmoil is the presence of the militias who exterminated at least 800,000 people, largely the minority Tutsis, in neighbouring Rwanda 14 years ago. Once, they called themselves the 'Interahamwe,' or 'those who kill together.' Now, they seek respectability under a new name -- the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by their French acronym FDLR -- and their fighters are deployed in Eastern Congo's lawless provinces of North and South Kivu. They are bitter enemies of General Laurent Nkunda, the renegade Congolese Tutsi who has thrown a noose around Goma, North Kivu's capital. While global attention has focused on Gen Nkunda, the FDLR's presence is the central cause of the bloodshed. Major Vincent Habamungu, who commands the FDLR's 'Tiger' unit, told The Daily Telegraph that nothing could stop their campaign. 'We are fighting every day because we are Hutu and they are Tutsis. We cannot mix, we are always in conflict,' he said. 'We will stay enemies forever.' The FDLR's official goal is to return to Rwanda and topple President Paul Kagame. Although the movement tries to disown the genocide, many believe the FDLR also wants to complete the extirpation of the Tutsis. Gen. Nkunda portrays himself as the protector of the Tutsis, who also live in eastern Congo. Hence the FLDR's presence provides the justification for his rebellion. Today, Congo is trapped in what one United Nations official calls a "vicious circle" of conflict. As long as the FLDR fights on, Gen Nkunda's campaign will continue. But the FDLR says it will only disarm if Gen. Nkunda does the same. [...]"

"Reports Detail Congo Atrocities"
By Owen Bowcott
The Guardian, 26 November 2008
"Government soldiers and rebels fighting in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have both committed serious human rights abuses, according to the United Nations secretary general. A report presented by Ban Ki-moon to the UN security council documents atrocities perpetrated against the displaced civilian population of the vast region. Up to 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the past few months. The details of mass killings and rapes emerged as Human Rights Watch released a separate report estimating that as many as 500 political opponents of President Joseph Kabila's government had been murdered since 2006 elsewhere in Congo. It described the human rights situation in the central African state as 'a cause for grave concern' despite a current lull in fighting. The UN report, which covers conditions between July and November, said elements of the Congolese army and national police were responsible for violations including arbitrary killings, rape and torture. Rebels -- including those loyal to Laurent Nkunda's National Congress for the Defence of the People and Rwandan Hutu fighters -- are accused in the report of 'perpetrating serious human rights abuses with impunity.' Among the Hutu fighters are said to be some who participated in Rwanda's 1994 genocide."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"'Cursed' Congo Still Shocks and Fascinates"
Reuters dispatch, 21 November 2008
By Daniel Magnowski
"Reports of massacres, rapes, looting and child soldiers have put Democratic Republic of Congo back on the world news agenda this month as Tutsi rebels battled government troops and militias in the east. The fighting may be new, but the image of Congo it projects is not, communications experts and writers said on Friday. In the West, description, discourse and even decisions about Congo are still shaped by Joseph Conrad's 1902 novel 'Heart of Darkness,' which some believe has encouraged a view of the country as being beyond anyone's help. 'Conrad's novel helped fix in the European mind the idea of Congo as ... a moral void in which barbarism is the only law,' said writer Ronan Bennett, whose 1997 novel 'The Catastrophist' is also set in the central African country. ... The idea of a dark, savage place resonates deeply in the Western psyche, to the point at which violence has become the expected national trait of Congo, and the country a canvas upon which the worst excesses of depravity have been painted. 'Ever since white outsiders have been there, it has thrown up the darker side of human behavior,' said Tim Butcher, whose 2007 book 'Blood River' retraces the eventful voyage along the Congo River of Victorian explorer Henry Morton Stanley. 'It's a dazzling place, it blinds you, but its problems are so immense, people get spooked by the scale of it and the nature of the people. There is a propensity to violence,' said Butcher. [...]"
[n.b. I haven't seen this theme addressed in press coverage until now -- the kind of atavistic image of Congo generated by Conrad's book, Leopold's depredations, and contemporary events.]

"Congo Refugees Suffer Shooting, Rape, Looting"
By Anita Powell
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 21 November 2008
"Looting soldiers tried to rape one woman and fatally shot another at a refugee camp, witnesses said Friday, as the United Nations prepared to send more peacekeepers to help protect traumatized civilians in eastern Congo. But Congo's president said the 3,100 additional troops proposed by the U.N. would not be enough to halt the unfolding disaster. Some 67,000 people have overrun the village of Kibati, just north of the provincial capital of Goma. The U.N. refugee agency said Friday it was postponing plans to move refugees from the area, which is near the front line between soldiers and rebels. 'We fear that the civilian population, already in a dramatic and desperate humanitarian situation, could be caught in the crossfire should fighting resume in the area,' the refugee agency's spokesman, William Spindler, said in Geneva. Shootings, looting and rape have plagued the already desperate lives of refugees. Tumayini Kahumba, 20, was fatally shot in the village Thursday night as she slept next to her mother and two siblings in a tent, uncle Jean-Dieu Bansi said. 'When the soldiers got here, they wanted to rape a woman. She screamed a lot and the people woke up to help her. They (soldiers) began to shoot in the air to try to spread the crowd. They were also looting,' Bansi said. One gunshot pierced the tent and hit Kahumba near the ear. Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said 20 rapes were reported in a week at a health center in Goma, the eastern provincial capital, but that probably many more go unreported. [...]"


"Rwandan Official Charged in France", 20 November 2008
"French judicial officials have charged a key aide of Rwanda's president over the assassination of a former president of the country, amid national protests over her arrest. Germany extradited Rose Kabuye, who now serves as chief of protocol to President Paul Kagame, 10 days after police acting on a French warrant arrested her as she arrived at Frankfurt airport. The French warrant connected Kabuye to the downing of an aircraft in 1994 in which Juvenal Habyarimana, then Rwanda's president, was killed. French officials took charge of her in Frankfurt, and she was flown to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris aboard an Air France aeroplane. From there she was transferred to the main law courts in Paris to appear before Marc Trevidic, an anti-terrorism investigating magistrate, Bernard Maingain, Kabuye's lawyer, told the AFP news agency. Judicial officials confirmed that Kabuye was put under judicial investigation -- in effect, charged -- with 'complicity in murder in relation to terrorism.' She was later released on condition she not leave France without permission and appear when requested by magistrates, her lawyers said. 'I'm not so scared because I am very innocent,' Kabuye said on the France24 television news channel after being released. 'I know that when I get a chance to explain what happened everything will be okay, so I am not scared.' Habyarimana's death sparked a genocide which consequently engulfed the country. Authorities in France began investigating the attack because the two pilots of the aircraft were French. [...]"


"Can Love Conquer Caste?"
By Emily Wax
The Washington Post, 22 November 2008
"[...] Even though India legalized inter-caste marriage more than 50 years ago, newlyweds are still threatened by violence, most often from their families. As more young urban and small-town Indians start to rebel and choose mates outside of arranged marriages and caste commandments, killings of inter-caste couples have increased, according to a recent study by the All India Democratic Women's Association. In the past month, seven so-called honor killings have targeted inter-caste couples. In the latest incident, a Hindu youth in Bihar was beaten by villagers this week and thrown under an oncoming train because he sent a love letter to a girl of a different caste. The attacks continue despite decades of government decrees intended to dismantle the bulwark of caste, which is widely seen as the glue of traditional Indian society but is considered among the most corrosive features of the emerging new India. 'The recent rise in violence actually shows that the younger generation -- especially women -- are slowly gaining individual freedom in marriage. But the older generation still cling to the old ways where marriage is still a symbol of status, not emotional love,' said Shashi Kiran, a lawyer in India's Supreme Court who married outside her caste and is handling several honor-killing cases. 'It shows a society still in transition and wrestling with deep change.' As part of a controversial incentive for inter-caste couples to marry, the government recently began offering $1,000 bonuses. That's nearly a year's salary for the vast majority of Indians. Smaller cash payments first started in 2006 after a Supreme Court ruling in which judges described several high-profile honor killings as acts of 'barbarism' and labeled the caste system 'a curse on the nation.' [...]"


"Kurds in Search of Their Dead Meet Remains"
By Asso Ahmed
The Los Angeles Times, 30 November 2008
"For more than 20 years, Aska Ali Ameen waited for her husband to come home. She knew he was dead, but getting his corpse would be better than having nothing. At least she could give him a decent burial. When Ameen finally got a peek inside the coffin given to her by government officials, though, she felt no relief. 'As I look inside the coffin, I wonder, is the man inside my husband or not?' said Ameen, standing on an airport tarmac where the coffins of 150 long-deceased Kurds had just been unloaded from a cargo plane in the northern city of Irbil, capital of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region. After so many years, Shareef Ali's remains were like the others that arrived from Najaf last month: bones and dust. There were no shreds of clothing, no jewelry, nothing personal -- only a slip of paper stating that an identification document proved these were Ali's remains. An estimated 180,000 Kurds died in the 1980s in what came to be known as the Anfal campaign, or 'spoils of war.' The campaign included gas attacks on the Kurds' northern homeland and the transfer of Kurds to southern Iraq, where many were killed. As with most of the crackdowns designed to bolster President Saddam Hussein's Sunni Arab-led dictatorship, most of the victims were civilians. The remains of Anfal victims have stayed beneath the country's sandy soil, in the deep holes where the Kurds fell after being gunned down. Identification cards are mixed among bones or tucked in pockets of whatever remains of clothing. Since Hussein's ouster in 2003, the graves have been uncovered one by one. So many, in fact, that the Iraqi government has designated May 16 as Mass Graves Day, a national day of remembrance. [...]"


"Sex Slave Victims Press for Apology"
By Jun Hongo
The Japan Times, 26 November 2008
"Victims of Japan's wartime sexual slavery were joined by international activists and lawmakers Tuesday to demand what they call a proper apology and compensation from the government for its past atrocities. 'The government has kept its eyes shut and ignored the issue,' Upper House member Azuma Konno of the Democratic Party of Japan said at the ninth Solidarity Conference for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. The group, which held a three-day meeting in Tokyo over the weekend, demands redress for women who were forced into sexual servitude for the Japanese military during the war. 'To build our future, we cannot remain blind to the past,' Konno said, emphasizing that many countries, including the United States, have passed resolutions requesting Tokyo formally apologize. The event brought together activist groups from Asia, including South Korea and China, as well as victims of wartime sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army. The conference released a resolution Monday urging the government to enact legislation to compensate victims, issue an official apology, give an account of the matter in school textbooks and refute comments that question the authenticity of sexual slavery. Lee Soo San, who said she was raped by Japanese troops at Mudanjiang in Manchuria, demanded immediate compensation for her suffering."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Oldest Holocaust Survivor Tells a Story of Faith and Courage That's Out of the Ordinary"
By Isabelle de Pommereau
The Christian Science Monitor, 1 December 2008
"Leopold Engleitner's blue eyes still burn bright. Last month, the 103-year-old traveled to Frankfurt, from his home in Austria to tell his story at the world's largest publishing event. Mr. Engleitner, a former farmer from the Salzburg region, is a Jehovah's Witness. And he is the oldest living survivor of the Holocaust. At first no one seemed interested in the facts of his life, which included an unwavering faith and enduring internments in the Buchenwald, Wewelsburg, and Ravensbrueck camps run by German Nazis. Then a young Austrian filmmaker met Engleitner by chance and ended up listening to his stories for hours on end. The filmmaker, Berhnard Rammerstorfer, was captivated by what he heard and eventually dropped everything he was doing to write Engleitner's biography. 'What impressed me was that a simple farmer had the courage to withstand Hitler, to refuse to go to war although millions of people did go to war, that he had the strength to adhere to his own conscience,' says Mr. Rammerstorfer. He first published 'Unbroken Will: The Extraordinary Courage of an Ordinary Man,' in German in 1999. It was republished this year, and an English edition is scheduled to be released in 2009. Walter Manoschek, a political scientist at the University of Vienna who has worked on a project sponsored by the Austrian government to rehabilitate Austrian victims of the Nazi regime, says that Engleitner's story brings to life one of the least-known groups of Nazi victims that also included Gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners, and the mentally and physically disabled. Nazis targeted Jehovah's Witnesses mainly because as religious conscientious objectors they eschew swearing an oath to any earthly authority and refused to serve in the German Army. Refusal to serve under Hitler was regarded as treason, punishable by death. Among the 3,200 Witnesses interned in concentration camps, thousands were killed, according to historians. Unlike other groups -- most notably, of course, millions of Jews -- they could have walked out free had they agreed to renounce their faith. [...]"


"Nazis and the Movies"
By Annette Insdorf
Newsweek, 28 November 2008
"[...] The Holocaust movie is one of Hollywood's most unlikely staples in any season. There's an inherent tension between commercial films and depicting the 20th century's most unimaginable atrocity. The nature of narrative in general, and of mainstream movies in particular, is to be reassuring. But the Shoah offers few resolutions that can fit neatly into a two-hour package. In order to offer the requisite feel-good conclusion that reflects the triumph of the human spirit, the horrors often get sanitized. 'Defiance' tells the true story of three brothers who escape the Nazis and lead a Jewish uprising in the Belarussian forest. It is the rare Hollywood Holocaust movie that puts Jews at its center, perhaps because the scale of their destruction during World War II far outweighs the few tales of uplift. As Frank Rich once pointedly noted, the Jews in 'Schindler's List' were relegated to background players, extras in their own drama. But ever since 'Anne Frank' and 'Judgment at Nuremberg' -- the first major-studio movies on the Holocaust -- American films have done a noble job telling World War II stories in ways that illuminate rather than exploit the inherent drama. They are still as much a product of their times as of their historical inspiration. ... By the late 1970s and '80s, Americans had grown accustomed to images of violence from the Vietnam War, so Holocaust movies could challenge more concretely the limits of what we could bear to watch -- even if they usually found some way to give viewers a Hollywood catharsis. What's remarkable about this year's releases is the acknowledgment that we no longer need the neat Hollywood ending. [...]"

"Never Forget. You're Reminded."
By A.O. Scott
The New York Times, 21 November 2008
"This holiday season the multiplexes, the art houses and the glossy for-your-consideration ads in publications like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter will be overrun with Nazis. A minor incursion of this sort is an annual Oscar-season tradition, but 2008 offers an abundance of peaked caps and riding breeches, lightning-bolt collar pins and swastika armbands, as an unusually large cadre of prominent actors assumes the burden of embodying the most profound and consequential evil of the recent past. David Thewlis, playing a death camp commandant in 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,' will be joined by Willem Dafoe, who takes on a similar role in 'Adam Resurrected,' Paul Schrader’s new film. In 'The Reader,' directed by Stephen Daldry and based on Bernhard Schlink's best-selling novel of the same name, Kate Winslet plays a former concentration camp guard tried for war crimes. Tom Cruise, the star of Bryan Singer’s 'Valkyrie,' wears the uniform of the Third Reich though his character, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, was not a true-believing Nazi but rather a patriotic German military officer involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler. And of course there will be plenty of room on screen for the victims and survivors of Hitler's regime. Adam, the title character in 'Adam Resurrected,' is a Berlin nightclub performer, played by Jeff Goldblum, who finds himself, after enduring the camps, confined to an Israeli asylum somewhere between 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'King of Hearts.' And in Edward Zwick’s 'Defiance,' Daniel Craig transmutes his James Bond action-heroism into the moral heroism of Tuvia Bielski, the real-life leader of a group of Jewish partisans who fought the Germans in the forests of Belarus. Meanwhile the wave of European cinema dealing with Nazism and the Holocaust ... continued this fall with the American releases of 'A Secret' and 'One Day You'll Understand,' two quiet, powerful French-language films exploring themes of memory and its suppression. [...]"


"Death Toll More Than 300 in Nigeria Violence"
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 29 November 2008
"Mobs burned homes, churches and mosques today in a second day of riots, as the death toll rose to more than 300 in the worst sectarian violence in Africa's most populous nation in years. Sheikh Khalid Abubakar, the imam at the city's main mosque, said more than 300 dead bodies were brought there today alone and 183 could be seen laying near the building waiting to be interred. Those killed in the Christian community would not likely be taken to the city mosque, raising the possibility that the total death toll could be much higher. The city morgue wasn't immediately accessible today. Police spokesman Bala Kassim said there were 'many dead,' but couldn't cite a firm number. The hostilities mark the worst clashes in the restive West African nation since 2004, when as many as 700 people died in Plateau State during Christian-Muslim clashes. Jos, the capital of Plateau State, has a long history of community violence that has made it difficult to organize voting. Rioting in September 2001 killed more than 1,000 people. The city is situated in Nigeria's 'middle belt,' where members of hundreds of ethnic groups commingle in a band of fertile and hotly contested land separating the Muslim north from the predominantly Christian south. Authorities imposed an around-the-clock curfew in the hardest-hit areas of the central Nigerian city, where traditionally pastoralist Hausa Muslims live in tense, close quarters with Christians from other ethnic groups. The fighting began as clashes between supporters of the region's two main political parties following the first local election in the town of Jos in more than a decade. But the violence expanded along ethnic and religious fault lines, with Hausas and members of Christian ethnic groups doing battle. [...]"


"UNRWA Chief: Gaza on Brink of Humanitarian Catastrophe"
Reuters dispatch in, 21 November 2008
"Gaza faces a humanitarian 'catastrophe' if Israel continues to prevent aid reaching the territory by blocking crossing points, the head of the main UN aid agency for the Palestinians said on Friday. Karen AbuZayd, commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), said the human toll of this month's sealing of Gaza's goods crossings was the gravest since the early days of a Palestinian uprising eight years ago. ... Israel closed the crossings after Palestinian militants responded with daily rocket salvoes to an Israeli army incursion on Nov. 4 into the Hamas-run territory, where a five-month-old, Egyptian-brokered ceasefire had largely been holding. At present, UNRWA provides rations for 820,000 people classed as refugees and the United Nations' World Food Program aids a further 200,000 people, AbuZayd told Reuters in Amman. 'They often bring us to the brink but they never have let us really be frightened about whether we are going to have food tomorrow or not,' AbuZayd said. Israel had restricted goods into Gaza despite the truce, which calls on militants to halt rocket attacks in return for Israel easing its embargo on the territory. 'This time throughout this whole truce since June none of us have been able to bring in anything extra that would create a reserve so we had nothing to call upon,' she said. ... Ailments associated with insufficient food were surfacing among the impoverished coastal strip's 1.5 million population, including growing malnutrition. 'There is a chronic anemia problem. There are signs that's increasing. What we are beginning to notice is what we call stunting of children ... which means they are not eating well enough to be bigger than their parents,' AbuZayd added. The humanitarian plight of Gazans was by far the worst among the more than 4.6 million Palestinian refugees across the region. 'They are not just under occupation, they are under siege,' AbuZayd said."


"Nationalism of Putin's Era Veils Sins of Stalin's"
By Clifford J. Levy
The New York Times, 26 November 2008
"For years, the earth in this Siberian city had been giving up clues: a scrap of clothing, a fragment of bone, a skull with a bullet hole. And so a historian named Boris P. Trenin made a plea to officials. Would they let him examine secret archives to confirm that there was a mass grave here from Stalin’s purges? Would they help him tell the story of the thousands of innocent people who were said to have been carted from a prison to a ravine, shot in the head and tossed over? The answer was no, and Mr. Trenin understood what many historians in Russia have come to realize: Under Vladimir V. Putin, the attitude toward the past has changed. The archives that Mr. Trenin was seeking, stored on the fourth floor of a building in Tomsk, in boxes stamped 'K.G.B. of the U.S.S.R.,' would remain sealed. The Kremlin in the Putin era has often sought to maintain as much sway over the portrayal of history as over the governing of the country. In seeking to restore Russia’s standing, Mr. Putin and other officials have stoked a nationalism that glorifies Soviet triumphs while playing down or even whitewashing the system’s horrors. As a result, across Russia, many archives detailing killings, persecution and other such acts committed by the Soviet authorities have become increasingly off limits. The role of the security services seems especially delicate, perhaps because Mr. Putin is a former K.G.B. officer who ran the agency's successor, the F.S.B., in the late 1990s. To historians like Mr. Trenin, the closing of these archives reflects a larger truth. Russia, they say, has never fully grappled with and exposed the sins of Communism, never embarked on the kind of truth and reconciliation process pursued by other countries, like South Africa, after regimes were overthrown. [...]"


"Darfur Getting More Dangerous: UN Humanitarian Chief"
By Jennie Matthew
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 30 November 2008
"Sudan's war-torn Darfur is becoming ever more dangerous, warned the UN's top humanitarian official on Sunday, calling for rapid progress towards a political settlement after a government ceasefire. 'The longer this conflict goes on, the more dangerous it becomes in terms of the ability to return to normality as it was before,' John Holmes, UN emergency relief coordinator, told a news conference after a six-day visit to Sudan. The Darfur conflict began in February 2003, when two rebel groups in the western part of the country rose up against the Arab-led Sudanese government. Since then, the conflict has mushroomed into a hugely complex web of violence fought between myriad groups and marred increasingly by banditry. ... 'The situation has not changed fundamentally in five years, except for its gradual deterioration in camps, still there five years later,' said Holmes. 'The environment becomes ever more politicised and more difficult to operate in, and what is happening there in the camps (for displaced people) and elsewhere becomes more difficult to unravel,' he added. UN officials say security in Darfur has worsened considerably in 2008, with 11 humanitarian workers killed, 172 assaults on humanitarian premises, 261 vehicles hijacked and 170 staff temporarily abducted so far this year. [...]"

"ICC Warrants Sought for 3 Sudanese Rebel Chiefs"
By Nora Boustany
The Washington Post, 21 November 2008
"Vowing to protect Sudanese civilians, the International Criminal Court prosecutor yesterday requested arrest warrants for three rebel commanders he accused of war crimes in an attack that killed 12 African Union peacekeepers in the Darfur region of Sudan. Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the commanders were responsible for the storming of an A.U. camp in Haskanita on Sept. 29, 2007. The attack, which involved 1,000 rebels, was one of the bloodiest against peacekeepers since the conflict erupted in 2003. 'Attacking peacekeepers is a very serious crime,' he said. 'This means civilians have no protection.' Four months ago, Moreno-Ocampo charged Sudanese President Hassan al-Bashir with genocide -- the court's first charges against a sitting head of state. 'No one is above the law,' Moreno-Ocampo said yesterday. The sealed warrants against the three commanders, who lead offshoots of the main rebel movement, were part of a strategy to get rebel support, Moreno-Ocampo said. Their names will remain confidential for now, he added. Leaders of the mainstream groups indicated they would cooperate with the court. Suleiman Jamous, a top Sudan Liberation Army-Unity commander, said his group was not guilty of crimes in Darfur but if named would go to court to prove its innocence. [...]"

"Darfur Peacekeepers Short of Men, Gear: General"
By Andrew Heavens
Reuters dispatch, 25 November 2008
"Overstretched peacekeepers in Darfur lack vehicles, helicopters and other equipment and could be in trouble if seriously attacked, the force's deputy commander said on Tuesday. The joint U.N.-African Union force now has about 12,000 soldiers and police, less than half of a promised 26,000, almost a year after it arrived in Sudan's violent west. Major General Emmanuel Karenzi told reporters the mission was severely short of equipment, including a total lack of transport and attack helicopters. 'I wouldn't say we are helpless,' he said at UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur. 'If you are talking about a fully-fledged attack on UNAMID with big weapons we may find ourselves in a difficult position to defend ourselves.' A total of 11 UNAMID peacekeepers have been killed in Darfur in ambushes and other incidents since the force replaced an African Union mission at the beginning of the year. The peacekeepers, who are supposed to cover a remote region about the size of France, have often found themselves caught up in a chaotic conflict involving bandits, government forces, insurgent factions and militias. In the single bloodiest attack on peacekeepers since the start of the conflict, 12 African Union troops were killed when gunmen stormed their base in Haskanita in September 2007. Karenzi said officers were still hoping to build up the international force to 60 per cent of its promised deployment by the end of the year. But he said the impact of a simple increase in troop numbers would be minimal. [...]"


"Holodomor Survivors Recount Tragic Tales of Soviet Genocide"
By Chris Mitchell
The London Free Press, 1 December 2008
"At the tender age of 11 and in defiance of an empire, Stephan Tischenko searched for food to feed his three starving brothers. It was 1932 and the Soviet government was deliberately starving people in Ukraine, a tactic aimed at destroying any hopes of independence. 'The government took everything. We had nothing left,' Tischenko said yesterday as about 200 people attended a memorial service at the London Ukrainian Centre to honour the survivors and remember the victims. He recalled going out to find any food he could, knowing if the authorities caught him, he could be shot on sight. He picked rotten potatoes and weeds. 'When I came home, there was one brother dead -- the youngest.' Again he went out to find food and when he returned, another of his brothers had died. Tischenko's tragic story is only one from the Holodomor, a famine that killed as many as 10 million people in Ukraine. 'Ukraine remembers -- the world acknowledges,' said Mykola Wasylko, president of the Ukrainian Centre, in an address to the crowd at yesterday's ceremony. This year is the 75th anniversary of the famine, which until only recently was almost unknown outside Ukraine. Survivors were afraid to speak of the tragedy in public until the Soviet Union collapsed. In May, Canada recognized the Holodomar as an act of genocide. At yesterday's ceremony, the crowd ate bread baked by one of the 12 survivors who attended. It symbolized 'the bread that was forcibly taken from the mouths of the dying,' Wasylko said. [...]"

"Ukrainian-Canadians Mark Famine's 75th Anniversary", 22 November 2008
"Ukrainian-Canadians spent Saturday marking the 75th anniversary of the Holodomor, the nightmarish famine that killed millions in the Ukraine in the early 1930s. The famine is largely blamed on Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's forced collectivization of grain and other foodstuffs that left millions of people without adequate food supplies. Estimates put the number of dead anywhere between two and 10 million. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper supported a private member's bill that acknowledged the famine as a genocide, following the lead of a dozen or so other countries. National Holodomor Awareness Week in Canada begins this weekend with candlelight vigils and other events Saturday, and memorial services at Ukrainian churches across the country on Sunday. 'This is the bare minimum which we, as Ukrainians, should do not only for the millions of victims, but more importantly, for our descendants who must always remember the Holodomor and heighten the international community's sensitivity to the re-occurrence of similar tragedies,' the Ukrainian Canadian Congress said in a statement on its website. Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney marked the anniversary of the famine in Kyiv alongside leaders from the Ukrainian-Canadian community. The Canadian delegation is expected to participate in a forum on the famine. 'Our government is committed to remembering the victims of communism and heightening international awareness of genocide, and we are proud that our Conservative government recognized the Holodomor as a genocide,' Kenney said in a statement issued by the UCC. 'We take such actions to help ensure that similar atrocities never happen again.' Ceremonies across the Ukraine Saturday were marred by opposition from Russia, which objects to Ukraine's campaign to have the famine recognized worldwide as a genocide. [...]"


"A Massacre Explained" (Review of Karl Jacoby, "Shadows at Dawn")
By Tim Morrison, 24 November 2008
"In the predawn hours of April 30, 1871, a group of attackers ambushed an encampment of Apaches in Aravaipa Canyon, outside the town of Tuscon. 144 people -- overwhelmingly women and children -- were slaughtered. This much we know at the outset of Shadows at Dawn, by Brown University historian Karl Jacoby. We also know who these attackers were, for the most part: an unlikely alliance of white settlers, Spanish-speaking landholders known as vecinos and members of an opposing tribe, the Tohono O'odham. But rather than tie these four groups' tales together into a standard history of what became known as the Camp Grant Massacre -- one of the most brutal and sensational acts in the American Southwest of the late 19th century -- Jacoby breaks them out separately, to better unpack what he calls the 'palimpsest of many stories' surrounding the massacre. The goal is to add nuance to the accepted narratives of the American frontier as cowboy vs. Indian, good vs. bad, Manifest Destiny vs. native Americans' ancient claim to the land. ... On the increasingly brutal attitude of white settlers towards the Apache[, he writes]: 'The civilian scout leader [King] Woolsey, for example, was blunt in his embrace of such tactics. "As there has been a great deal said about my killing women and children," he wrote to the territory's military authorities, "I will state to you that we killed in this Scout 22 Bucks 5 women & 3 children. We would have killed more women but [did not] owing to having attacked in the day time when the women were at work gathering Mescal. It sir is next to impossible to prevent killing squaws in jumping a rancheria even were we disposed to save them. For my part I am frank to say that I fight on the broad platform of extermination."' [...]"
[n.b. A chilling quote which you will be seeing in the next edition of my "Genocide" textbook.]


"Obama's Choice for UN is Advocate of Strong Action against Mass Killings"
By Peter Baker
International Herald Tribune, 1 December 2008
"President-elect Barack Obama has chosen his foreign policy adviser, Susan Rice, to be ambassador to the United Nations, picking an advocate of 'dramatic action' against genocide as he rounds out his national security team, Democrats close to the transition said Sunday. ... The choice of Rice to represent the United States before the United Nations will make her one of the most visible faces of the Obama administration to the outside world aside from Clinton. It will also send to the world organization a prominent and forceful advocate of stronger action, including military force if necessary, to stop mass killings like those in the Darfur region of Sudan in recent years. To reinforce his intention to work more closely with the United Nations after the tensions of President George W. Bush's tenure, Obama plans to restore the ambassador's post to cabinet rank, as it was under President Bill Clinton, according to Democrats close to the transition. ... Rice at 44 would be the second-youngest ambassador to the United Nations. A Rhodes scholar who earned a doctorate in international relations at Oxford University, she joined Bill Clinton's National Security Council staff in 1993 before rising to assistant secretary of state for African affairs at age 32. ... During her first run at the State Department, Rice was a point person in responding to Al Qaeda's 1998 bombing of United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. But her most searing experience was visiting Rwanda after the 1994 genocide when she was still on the NSC staff. As she later described the scene, the hundreds, if not thousands, of decomposing, hacked up bodies that she saw haunted her and fueled a desire to never let it happen again. 'I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required,' she told The Atlantic Monthly in 2001. She eventually became a sharp critic of the Bush administration's handling of the Darfur killings and last year testified before Congress on behalf of an American-led bombing campaign or naval blockade to force a recalcitrant Sudanese government to stop the slaughter. Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, praised the pending Rice nomination on Sunday, calling it a powerful sign of the new president's interest in the issue. The coalition is urging Obama to begin a 'peace surge' of sustained diplomacy to address the continuing problems in Sudan. 'It sends a very strong signal about his approach to the issue of Sudan and Africa in general,' Fowler said. [...]"


"Why Can't We Hold Torturers Accountable and Still Find Out the Truth?"
By Dahlia Lithwick, 26 November 2008
"[...] It's sweet and fanciful to think that with a grant of immunity and a hot cup of chai, Bush-administration officials who have scoffed at congressional subpoenas and court dates will sit down and unburden themselves to a truth commission about their role in the U.S. attorney firings. ... I just cannot bring myself to believe that the full story will ever be told to our collective satisfaction. Even if every living American were someday to purchase and read the truth commission's collectively agreed-on bipartisan narrative, weaving together John Yoo's best intentions and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's torment on the water board, sweeping national reconciliation will elude us. As my friend Jack Goldsmith points out in an op-ed today, we already know the truth of what happened. Not all of it, to be sure, but we know a good deal about who made which critical decisions and when. Just read Michael Ratner's devastating new book, The Trial of Donald Rumsfeld. Read Philippe Sands' Torture Team. Read Jane Mayer's The Dark Side. Read this painfully detailed new report from U.C.-Berkeley, in partnership with the Center for Constitutional Rights, chronicling the experiences of former detainees held in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. These writers are not crackpots. We may not have every memo, and we may not be able to name every name. But do truth commissions alone ever reveal the full story? If we decline to hold lawbreakers to account, we may find out a whole lot of facts and arrive at no truth at all. Is the truth that if the president orders it, it isn't illegal? Or is the truth that good people do bad things in wartime, but that's OK? Is the truth that if we torture strange men with strange names, it's not lawbreaking? What legal precedent will this big bipartisan narrative set for the next president with a hankering for dunking prisoners? [...]"


"The World's Most Heinous Crime", 1 December 2008
"They share a deep sorrow: an idealistic American who tried to protect the Kurds of Iraq, a Canadian general who refused to follow orders in Rwanda, a French priest who fought for the soul of Cambodia. Each one tried to focus the world's attention on the world's most heinous crime: genocide. Each time, they were shunned, ignored or told it was someone else's problem. To understand why, CNN's Christiane Amanpour traveled to the killing fields of Europe, Africa and Asia for a two-hour documentary, 'Scream Bloody Murder.' Having reported on mass atrocities around the world, this time Amanpour traced the personal accounts of those who tried to stop the slaughter. The yearlong CNN investigation found that instead of using a U.N. treaty outlawing genocide as a springboard to action, political leaders have invoked reason after reason to make intervention seem unnecessary, pointless and even counter-productive. December marks the 60th anniversary of the U.N.'s Genocide Convention, when -- in the aftermath of the Holocaust -- the nations of the world pledged to prevent and punish future attempts to eliminate ethnic, religious and national groups. 'The Genocide Convention should have stopped genocide, but it didn't,' said Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Intervention is a daunting challenge, he believes, because of a tendency to minimize accounts from refugees and victims. 'It's better not to believe, because if you believe, you don't sleep nights. And how can you eat? How can you drink a glass of wine when you know?' [...]"


"War Crime Tribunals Facing Crisis as Staff Quit"
By Afua Hirsch
The Guardian, 29 November 2008
"Two tribunals at the centre of efforts to bring war criminals to justice are under threat because of insecurity among staff, the Guardian has learned. The international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR) face losing staff at a record rate, putting existing trials, including that of the former Bosnian Serb president, Radovan Karadzic, in jeopardy, sources inside the tribunals say. Many staff contracts are due to end next month, reflecting the tribunals' initial mandate to complete their caseload by the end of 2008. Despite extensions allowing the cases to continue at least until the end of 2009, up to 40% of foreign staff are expected to abandon their jobs, uncertain whether their positions will be renewed. Turnover rates topped 14% in 2007 and are expected to be even higher in 2008. Karadzic's trial is one of 43 cases still being heard by the ICTY, the Hague-based tribunal which also tried the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic. The ICTR, a tribunal established in Tanzania to try suspects from the 1994 Rwandan genocide, has more than 30 cases under way and is struggling to track down suspects hiding in Kenya and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Many of those leaving, including lawyers, investigators and detention officers, have specific skills, such as translators with expertise on autopsy evidence from mass graves. Senior figures inside the UN have expressed alarm. The secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, described it as a potential exodus, and said he shared 'concern that there may be difficulties in retaining and recruiting key staff as the tribunals complete their mandates.' ... There are also concerns about the safety of staff from the former Yugoslavia when they return home from The Hague. [...]"