Friday, July 23, 2010

Jewish Holocaust / Genocide and Memory

Chronicling the Holocaust from Inside the Ghetto
By Jan Friedmann
Spiegel Online, July 23, 2010
Photo: "Jewish men, women and children being marched out of the Warsaw Ghetto in May 1943." (DPA)
"Roughly 50 men and women in the Warsaw Ghetto chose a special form of resistance. In a secret archive, they documented their path to doom for future generations, chronicling the Nazis' crimes as they were being perpetrated. David Graber was 19 when he hurriedly scribbled his farewell letter. 'I would be overjoyed to experience the moment when this great treasure is unearthed and the world is confronted with the truth,' he wrote. While German soldiers combed the streets outside, Graber and his friend Nahum Grzywacz buried 10 metal boxes in the basement of an elementary school on Nowolipki Street in Warsaw's Jewish ghetto. It was Aug. 2, 1942. The boxes were dug up more than four years later. By then, Graber and Grzywacz were long dead, murdered like almost all of their roughly 50 collaborators. Only three survived the Nazi terror. They provided the information that led to the recovery of the boxes. The buried treasure consisted of about 35,000 pieces of paper that a group of chroniclers had collected and used to document how, during World War II, the German occupiers had deprived Warsaw's Jews of their rights, tormented them and, finally, killed them in the death camps.

Kosovo / Serbia / International Court of Justice

World Court Rules Kosovo Declaration Was Legal
By Dan Bilefsky
The New York Times, July 22, 2010
Photo: "Kosovo Albanian children played on a bridge dividing the Serbian north and the Albanian south of the ethnically divided city of Mitrovica on Thursday." (Laura Boushnak/Agence France-Presse -- Getty Images.)
"Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008 did not violate international law, the United Nations' highest court said Thursday in a ruling that Kosovo heralded as a victory but that legal experts warned could spur separatist movements around the world. Legal experts said that while the International Court of Justice had ruled that Kosovo's declaration of independence was legal, it had avoided saying that the state of Kosovo was legal under international law, a narrow and carefully calibrated compromise that they said could allow both sides to declare victory in a dispute that remains raw even 11 years after the war there. Political analysts said the advisory opinion, passed in a 10-to-4 vote by the court judges, is likely to spur other countries to recognize Kosovo's independence. Of the 192 countries in the United Nations General Assembly, so far only 69, including the United States and a majority of European Union nations, have recognized Kosovo. Reading the nonbinding opinion, whose political consequences could reverberate far beyond Kosovo, Hisashi Owada, president of the International Court of Justice, said that international law contained no 'prohibition on declarations of independence' and consequently that Kosovo's declaration 'did not violate international law.'


In Egypt, Diary of "Torture" Captures Police Brutality
By Miret El Naggar
McClatchy Newspapers dispatch in The Christian Science Monitor, July 22, 2010
"On any given day in Egypt, a U.S. ally with a much-criticized human rights record, citizens who cross the nation's security forces may be subject to brutal violence, according to a leading human rights organization here. Complaints arrive daily: An 18-year-old man was beaten in a police station and thrown off a third floor balcony. Another man was punched and flogged. Earlier, a family was dragged to the police station, where the father was beaten and the women were threatened with rape. These and hundreds more allegations have been logged into Egypt's 'torture diary,' a chronicle of claimed transgressions compiled by the Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, an independent victims advocacy group. Drawing on news reports, a hot line and attorneys for those who say they were on the receiving end of state-sponsored violence, the center notes alleged incidents each day, then releases a full report at the end of each month. According to local human rights groups, which work with Nadeem to compile the accounts, police brutality in the Arab world's most populous nation has become the norm rather than the exception. The 18-year-old man, Mohamed Salah, a minivan driver, reportedly was assaulted and tortured July 4 by two plainclothes police agents in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura. He was eventually thrown off the third floor balcony. He is currently in a coma. ... The Nadeem center's diarists charge that the reports reveal patterns of state-sanctioned violence that could help victims' cases and prove to Egypt's Western allies that the Mubarak administration's promises of reform are empty. Despite several requests, the Egyptian Interior Ministry wouldn't make an official available to comment for this article. [...]"


Rwanda Election: Calls Mount for Independent Autopsy of Slain Opposition Leader
By Matthew Clark
The Christian Science Monitor, July 21, 2010
Photo: "Rwandan President Paul Kagame attends the launch of his re-election campaign at a rally in the capital, Kigali, July 20." (Hereward Holland/Reuters)
"Rwanda's election season is in full swing and prominent critics of President Paul Kagame are turning up dead ahead of the Aug. 9 vote. Are the killings politically motivated? That possibility has United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon concerned enough that he has urged Mr. Kagame's government to conduct a full investigation into the latest death: that of Democratic Green Party vice chairman Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, who was found last week nearly decapitated. But the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that an autopsy is needed after conflicting police statements have muddied the waters. 'This is the second killing of an outspoken critic of the Rwandan government in less than a month,' said HRW boss Kenneth Roth, referring also to Jean-Léonard Rugambage, a journalist who was shot dead outside his home in June. 'An independent autopsy and inquiry are necessary to determine what happened to Rwisereka.' At first, authorities said he was the victim of a robbery, according to HRW, which said its own investigation revealed that the victim did not have any valuables on him at the time of the attack. Then, says HRW, police later said he was killed in a financial dispute. 'A thorough independent investigation would confirm or dispel these different explanations,' Mr. Roth said in a statement. Rwisereka was a longtime member of Kagame's Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), but broke ranks last year to start the Democratic Green Party with other disaffected RPF members. His killing comes amid a crackdown on the opposition and sporadic acts of violence -- including mysterious grenade attacks -- in recent months. Rwanda specialists say a power struggle for control of the RPF is under way and that Kagame is seeking to quash the minirebellion within his ranks. [...]"

Sudan / Chad / International Criminal Court

Sudan's Leader Defies Genocide Warrant with Trip to Old Enemy Chad
By Claire Soares
The Independent, July 22, 2010
Photo: "President Omar al-Bashir prepares to leave for Chad, whose leaders say they will not arrest him." (Reuters)
"Wanted for genocide, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir should have been arrested as soon as he hit the tarmac in Chad last night; instead he was given the warmest of welcomes and handed the keys to the capital N'djamena. The Sudanese leader thumbed his nose at prosecutors -- who want him to stand trial for atrocities committed in Darfur -- and made his first visit to a member state of the International Criminal Court. With no police force of its own, the court relies on its members to arrest fugitives, but Chadian President, Idriss Deby, seemingly unfazed by the potential damage to his international reputation, went to greet his one-time enemy President Bashir at the airport. 'Chad should not shield President Bashir from international justice,' said Christopher Hall, the senior legal advisor at Amnesty International. 'His visit is an opportunity to enforce the arrest warrant and send a message that justice will prevail.' Elise Keppler, who works for the international justice division of Human Rights Watch, noted that there had been 'almost visits' by Mr. Bashir to Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Denmark. 'None of these have materialised. Chad has really broken rank here. Does it really want this special status?' she said. Chad became a full member of the ICC in 2007 but yesterday Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat shrugged off the obligations that came with that membership. 'The priority for us is assuring peace and stability with Sudan,' he told reporters. [...]"

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Gender and Genocide / Jewish Holocaust

Women's Role in Holocaust May Exceed Old Notions
By Isabel Kershner
The New York Times, July 17, 2010
"Amid the horrors of the Holocaust, the atrocities perpetrated by a few brutal women have always stood out, like aberrations of nature. There were notorious camp guards like Ilse Koch and Irma Grese. And lesser known killers like Erna Petri, the wife of an SS officer and a mother who was convicted of shooting to death six Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Poland; or Johanna Altvater Zelle, a German secretary accused of child murder in the Volodymyr-Volynskyy ghetto in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. The Nazi killing machine was undoubtedly a male-dominated affair. But according to new research, the participation of German women in the genocide, as perpetrators, accomplices or passive witnesses, was far greater than previously thought. The researcher, Wendy Lower, an American historian now living in Munich, has drawn attention to the number of seemingly ordinary German women who willingly went out to the Nazi-occupied eastern territories as part of the war effort, to areas where genocide was openly occurring. 'Thousands would be a conservative estimate,' Ms. Lower said in an interview in Jerusalem last week.


Nigerian Machete-wielding Attackers Kill 8 People
BBC Online, July 17, 2010
"At least eight people have been killed in an attack by machete-wielding assailants near the city of Jos in Nigeria. The unidentified attackers descended on a village on the outskirts of Jos, burning about 10 houses, early on Saturday, officials said. Some reports said the dead included the family of a Christian priest. Clashes between rival communities -- Hausa Muslims and Berom Christians - have left hundreds dead this year. Witnesses said the men attacked the family of Rev Nuhu Dawat in the village of Mazah, 12km (7 miles) from the state capital of Jos, killing his wife, two children and a grandson. The priest ran for his life, later telling Reuters news agency: 'I leave everything to God to judge.' Plateau State Police Commissioner Gregory Anyating told Reuters the authorities were trying to find out 'the root causes of the violence,' but it had not spread to other villages. Deadly riots in 2001, 2008 and 2010 left hundreds of people dead. Although the clashes take place between Muslims and Christians, observers say the underlying causes are economic and political."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Congo-Kinshasa: When Thousands Suddenly Take Flight on, July 15, 2010
"Tens of thousands of people in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have fled their homes amid an army offensive against Ugandan rebels, presenting fresh impetus to humanitarian agencies' efforts to adapt their response mechanisms to sudden displacement. Local NGOs listed 50,000 displaced civilians who had taken flight since DRC military operations against the Allied Democratic Forces/National Army for the Liberation of Uganda (ADF/NALU) started on 25 June in the North Kivu district of Beni. 'There are more than that,' said Omar Kavota, the president of civil society groups in Beni, adding that some villages had been totally abandoned. 'The [military] strategy should be redefined when it comes to the protection of civilians and their villages,' he urged. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on 15 July that 37,000 people had been officially registered as displaced in Beni District. A large wave of displacement was prompted by a 28 June attack -- allegedly a rebel reprisal against the offensive -- on the village of Mutwanga, which left eight civilians dead. Further attacks took place from the second week of July, with the ADF/NALU, estimated to number around 1,300 fighters, again being blamed by witnesses. Unlike previous operations against Rwandan rebels in eastern DRC, this offensive enjoys no support from the UN mission in the country, MONUSCO (formerly MONUC). ...

United States

Arizona Immigrant Deaths In Desert Soaring
By Amanda Lee Myers
The Huffington Post, July 16, 2010
"The number of deaths among illegal immigrants crossing the Arizona desert from Mexico is soaring so high this month that the medical examiner's office that handles the bodies is using a refrigerated truck to store some of them, the chief examiner said Friday. The bodies of 40 illegal immigrants have been brought to the office of Pima County Medical Examiner Dr. Bruce Parks since July 1. At that rate, Parks said the deaths could top the single-month record of 68 in July 2005 since his office began tracking them in 2000. 'Right now, at the halfway point of the month, to have so many is just a very bad sign,' he said. 'It's definitely on course to perhaps be the deadliest month of all time.' From Jan. 1 to July 15, the office has handled the bodies of 134 illegal immigrants, up from 93 at the same time last year and 102 in 2008. In 2007, when the office recorded the highest annual deaths of illegal immigrants, 140 bodies had been taken there through July 15.

Israel / Palestine

Israel Set to Force All Citizens to Swear Oath to Jewish State
By Catrina Stewart
The Independent, July 17, 2010
"New Israeli citizens may soon be required to swear an oath of loyalty to a 'Jewish and democratic' state, a step that has drawn harsh criticism from human rights groups. Israel's Cabinet, which meets tomorrow, is expected to approve this and extend a raft of existing measures that make it harder for Palestinians to achieve citizenship. The wording of the oath, which would apply to new applicants for citizenship, was slammed by Arab advocacy groups, who accused Israel of 'racist' policies that attempt to link citizenship to ideology. 'It's another step in the direction of getting the Arabs out of Israel,' said Uri Avnery, a former MP and founder of the Israeli Gush Shalom peace movement. 'Parliament has become a lynching mob.' The move comes on the back on a series of strikes against Palestinians seeking citizenship and Israeli Arabs who already have it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Nigeria: 5 Die in New Religious Violence
By Lynn Adda
Associated Press dispatch on, July 14, 2010
"An attack on a mosque by youths in eastern Nigeria erupted into bloodshed, leaving at least five people dead as religious violence continued between Christians and Muslims in Africa's most populous nation, witnesses and police said Wednesday. The violence began Tuesday in the community of Wukari in Taraba state, police commissioner Aliyu Musa told The Associated Press. There, Christians upset with a mosque in their neighborhood burned the house of worship to the ground, the commissioner said. Street fighting erupted between Christian and Muslim youths, leaving at least five people dead, witnesses said. A local reporter told the AP that he counted at least 15 wounded at one public hospital, while being told others sought treatment at private clinics. By the end of the violence, several mosques and churches had been burned, witnesses said. Wednesday morning, security forces moved into Wukari, bringing an uneasy calm to the community. Authorities put a dusk-til-dawn curfew in place in hope of stopping retaliatory attacks. Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim-held north. Since democracy took hold in the oil-rich nation in 1999, ensuing waves of religious violence between the two faiths have claimed the lives of thousands in the last decade over religious and political friction. This year alone, fighting between Christians and Muslims in central Nigeria has left more than 500 dead. [...]"

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sudan / Darfur / International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court Charges Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir with Genocide in Darfur
Associated Press dispatch on, July 12, 2010
"The International Criminal Court has charged Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir with three counts of genocide in Darfur, a move that will pile further diplomatic pressure on his isolated regime. Four months ago an appeals panel at the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal ruled that judges made an 'error in law' when they refused last year to indict Al-Bashir on international law's gravest charge. Prosecutors then filed their case again and on Monday judges issued an arrest warrant charging Al-Bashir with three counts of genocide. Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo accuses al-Bashir of keeping 2.5 million refugees from specific ethnic groups in Darfur in camps 'under genocide conditions, like a gigantic Auschwitz.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Remembering the Srebrenica Massacre
July 9-13, 1995

Photo by Adam Jones -- Potocari, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 2007

Srebrenica Massacre / United Nations / Genocide Memorials

Srebrenica Memorial to Point Finger at UN
By Aids Cerkez-Robinson
Associated Press dispatch on, July 10, 2010
"Phillip Ruch's monument to Srebrenica is a huge jumble of worn shoes, more than 16,000 of them, each pair representing a victim of Europe's worst massacre since World War II. Seen from afar it will spell out UN in gigantic letters. The 'Pillar of Shame' is to be raised in the hills above Srebrenica with a controversial goal: singling out the United Nations and international leaders as the ones most responsible for failing to prevent the mass killings. Ahead of the 15th anniversary Sunday of the massacre, Ruch said he is looking forward to the debate the monument is almost certain to generate when it goes up at some point next year. The German activist describes his project as a 'warning for all future UN employees never again just to stand by when genocide unfolds' -- alluding to the failure of UN peacekeepers to protect the Srebrenica victims during the Bosnian war. On July 11, 1995, more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and youths were slaughtered by Bosnian Serb troops in an enclave supposedly protected by UN peacekeepers. The United Nations had declared Serb-besieged Srebrenica, some 90 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Sarajevo, a protected area for civilians. But the few hundred Dutch Blue Helmets on the ground were left short of credible weaponry or a clear mandate to protect the town. [...]"

India / "Honour" Killings

In India, Castes, Honor and Killings Intertwine
By Jim Yardley
The New York Times, July 9, 2010
Photo: "A candlelight vigil in New Delhi in May, where supporters of Nirupama Pathak, a 22-year-old Hindu woman from eastern India, called for her death to be prosecuted as an honor killing." (Keith Bedford/New York Times)
"When Nirupama Pathak left this remote mining region for graduate school in New Delhi, she seemed to be leaving the old India for the new. Her parents paid her tuition and did not resist when she wanted to choose her own career. But choosing a husband was another matter. Her family was Brahmin, the highest Hindu caste, and when Ms. Pathak, 22, announced she was secretly engaged to a young man from a caste lower than hers, her family began pressing her to change her mind. They warned of social ostracism and accused her of defiling their religion. Days after Ms. Pathak returned home in late April, she was found dead in her bedroom. The police have arrested her mother, Sudha Pathak, on suspicion of murder, while the family contends that the death was a suicide. The postmortem report revealed another unexpected element to the case: Ms. Pathak was pregnant. 'One thing is absolutely clear,' said Prashant Bhushan, a social activist and lawyer now advising Ms. Pathak's fiancé. 'Her family was trying their level best to prevent her from marrying that boy. The pressure was such that either she was driven to suicide or she was killed.' In India, where the tension between traditional and modern mores reverberates throughout society, Ms. Pathak's death comes amid an apparent resurgence of so-called honor killings against couples who breach Hindu marriage traditions. This week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ordered a cabinet-level commission to consider tougher penalties in honor killings. [...]"

Friday, July 09, 2010


Argentine "Dirty War" General and Intelligence Chief Get Life Sentence
By Almudena Calatrava
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, July 8, 2010
"Some of the most notorious figures of Argentina's 'dirty war' were convicted Thursday of kidnapping, torturing and murdering 22 people at the beginning of the 1976-1983 military dictatorship when the country cracked down on leftist dissent. Family members of the victims cheered and hugged as a judge handed down the sentences for Gen. Luciano Menendez and former police intelligence chief Roberto Albornoz: life in prison for crimes against humanity committed at a secret detention center in provincial Tucuman. Two former police officers -- brothers Luis Armando de Candido and Carlos Esteban de Candido -- were sentenced to 18 and 3 years, respectively. Their victims included Diana Oesterheld, who was seven months pregnant when she disappeared. Her mother, Elsa Sanchez, told The Associated Press the sentences gave her a feeling of 'enormous tranquility' after many years of anxiety.


Eight People Killed as Violence against Shiite Pilgrims Continues in Iraq
By Leila Fadel
The Washington Post, July 9, 2010
"At least seven people were killed in bombings targeting Shiite pilgrims in the Iraqi capital Thursday, and a pilgrim returning home on foot was shot dead outside the northern city of Kirkuk, on the third day of deadly violence by militants apparently intent on stoking sectarian tensions amid a months-long political stalemate. On Wednesday, a string of explosions in and around Baghdad killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 250. The deadliest was a suicide bombing aimed at Shiite pilgrims passing through the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiyah; more than 28 people were killed. Pilgrims were also targeted Tuesday, when at least seven were killed. The attacks on the Shiite community appeared intended to destabilize the country as politicians remain deadlocked on the formation of a new government, four months after national elections. Elected officials are occupied making backroom deals for top jobs, in sluggish negotiations that observers say are unlikely to be resolved soon. Violence has dropped significantly since the height of the sectarian war that flared out of control in 2006, but some worry it could rise again as the U.S. military draws down to 50,000 troops by Sept. 1. Last month, at least 135 people were killed in the capital alone. [...]"


Jorge Videla, Former Dictator, Faces New Trial in Argentina
By Daniel Hernandez
The Los Angeles Times, July 8, 2010
"The aging former military dictator of Argentina is facing criminal charges for the killings of 31 jailed dissidents during the country's 'Dirty War.' The trial of Jorge Videla, now 84 and with prostate cancer, opened last week in a court in Cordoba. The shooting deaths occurred in the central city shortly after the 1976 coup that brought the military junta to power in Argentina. The military said at the time that the jailed dissidents were trying to escape. Videla is being tried alongside more than 20 other defendants, including former general Luciano Menendez, reports in Argentina said. Videla also faces a trial set for September for charges that he stole 33 infants from political opponents. The former dictator ruled Argentina between 1976 and 1981, when tens of thousands were killed or 'disappeared.' Videla had been sentenced to life in prison in 1985 after democracy was restored, but in 1990, he was pardoned and freed by President Carlos Menem. In 2007, the Supreme Court restored his convictions and his life sentence, sending Videla back to prison in 2008. New charges against him would not add years to his sentence but are being sought in the name of the victims' families. Miguel Ceballos, a son of one of those killed in Cordoba, is representing them. [...]"

Israel / Jewish Holocaust

In Israel, Some Holocaust Survivors Face Hard Times
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, July 6, 2010
"Tucked into the hillside of this ancient port city is a sight few Israelis ever imagined they'd see in the Jewish state. It's a simple, small housing shelter, converted from an old office building and not unlike ones for the homeless, drug addicts or battered women. This facility, however, has a different clientele: Holocaust survivors. The dozen or so residents are among those who more than six decades ago survived concentration camps or spent years as refugees fleeing Nazi persecution during World War II. In Israel, many built prosperous, productive lives. But in old age, they've ended up broke, alone, sick or homeless, facing a painful choice between buying medicine or paying rent. Most have no remaining family; others have relatives unable or unwilling to help. It's a pleasant enough shelter, with sunny rooms, free medical care, hot meals and plenty of smiling volunteers. Funded by the Helping Hands to Friends charity, it's the first of its kind in Israel, and a new 80-bed wing, currently under construction, has a waiting list of 1,800. Despite the gratitude of those living here, there's also a sense of bitterness and betrayal. Residents ask how a nation established in part on their suffering could turn its back on them now. 'We helped found the state of Israel and built it,' said Miryam Kremin, 88, who escaped a Polish ghetto as a teenager, leaving behind parents whom she never saw again. 'They should make our final years better.'

Jewish Holocaust / Holocaust Education

Anne Frank Graphic Novel Launched
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, July 9, 2010
Photo: "Graphic novel version of The Diary of Anne Frank, by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón." (Evert Elzinga/AP)
"The Anne Frank House Museum in Amsterdam has launched a graphic novel version of the teenage Jewish diarist's biography, hoping to bring her story and death in a Nazi concentration camp to a wider audience. Spokeswoman Annemarie Bekker said the publication was aimed at teenagers who might not otherwise pick up Anne Frank's diary, the most widely read document to emerge from the Holocaust. 'Not everyone will read the diary,' she said. 'The one doesn't exclude the other.' Using the style of comic books to illustrate serious historical topics, even genocide, is not new. Maus, Art Spiegelman's graphic biography of his father, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, won a special Pulitzer prize in 1992. The Anne Frank biography, authorised by the museum, is a collaboration between American author Sid Jacobson and artist Ernie Colón, the creative team behind the bestselling graphic novel of the 9/11 Commission report. Publisher Hill & Wang will launch the illustrated book in the US later this month; Macmillan is publishing it in Britain in the autumn. Translations in German, French and Italian are planned. [...]"

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Germany / Israel / Palestine

German Parties Turn Up Pressure on Israel over Gaza
By Dave Graham
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, July 1, 2010
"The German parliament is due to back a rare cross-party motion later on Thursday demanding that Israel lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip immediately, in an unusual demonstration of unity against Israeli policy. The motion by lawmakers in Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives, her coalition partners the Free Democrats (FDP), and the main centre-left opposition parties follows calls from Germany that Hamas, which controls Gaza, should be brought into the negotiating process. Following the Nazi genocide of European Jews in World War Two, Germany's main political parties have staunchly supported Israel. They have also strongly criticised Hamas, an Islamist group which refuses to recognise Israel. However, the 2008 Israeli invasion and blockade of Gaza sparked criticism of Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist organisation and refuses to negotiate with it. 'The living conditions of the civilian population of Gaza must be urgently improved,' said the German motion, adding that the blockade -- which the government has already said should be ended -- was counterproductive and did not help to make Israel safer. ... The German parliamentary initiative also urges Merkel's government to press for a resumption of peace talks in the region. ... In parliament, only the Left Party did not help to draft the motion, but the far-left grouping would also support it, said its foreign policy spokesman Wolfgang Gehrcke. 'This marks a profound shift in policy towards Israel in Germany, in my view,' he said. [...]"

Rwandan Genocide / International Tribunals

Rwandan Given 25 Years for Genocide, July 2, 2010
"A 75-year-old Rwandan man has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for leading Hutu fighters in massacres of Tutsis at two Catholic churches in 1994. The International Criminal Tribunal, sitting in Tanzania, sentenced Yussuf Munyakazi Wednesday after convicting him of genocide and extermination, The Daily Telegraph reported. The court accepted the testimony of witnesses who said Muyakazi led a group that killed about 5,000 people at one church on April 29, 1994, and that he was also responsible for the deaths of 60 to 70 people at another church the next day. Many of the witnesses described Munyakazi as a Muslim elder. An estimated 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis and Hutus who did not support the massacre, were killed in three months in Rwanda in 1994. Smaller numbers were killed in neighboring Burundi. Jwani Mwaikusa, Munyakazi's Tanzanian lawyer, told the Hirondelle news agency he plans an appeal."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Secret List Shows Fate of Argentine Disappeared
By Bridget Huber
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, July 1, 2010
"Nelida Sosa de Forti almost escaped Argentina's dictatorship. The airplane's engines were already running when an air force commander came on board and ordered her and her five sons off the plane. Armed men waiting on the tarmac took them away. After days in a clandestine prison cell where she did her best to keep them calm, the children were pulled from their mother and dumped on a curb in downtown Buenos Aires, bound, blindfolded and covered by a sheet. They never saw her again. Her final gift, the oldest son says, was to persuade their jailers to set them free. For more than 33 years, her family had few clues to her fate -- until the list appeared. In a revelation that is reverberating across Argentina, a survivor of the detention center where Sosa was held has presented a list of 293 detainees, part of a trove of evidence he rescued from destruction decades ago and hid away. There, in neat columns typed by a police functionary, each 'subversive delinquent' is listed alongside a terse decision on their fate. In the last column beside Sosa's name are the letters 'DF,' military shorthand for 'disposition final' -- death. 'Obviously, it was very painful for me to see the letters "DF",' her eldest son, Alfredo Forti, told The Associated Press. The 259 pages of documents are evidence in a provincial trial of four men charged with the disappearances and torture of 22 people in the early years of the 1976-1983 dictatorship. The trial in Tucuman is now in its last stages, with the verdict expected July 8. The documents -- copies of which were obtained by the AP -- include handwritten notes made during torture sessions, reports about spying efforts, the names of intelligence agents and the identities of bodies. Many bear the stamps and signatures of police and military agencies and officials. Official investigations until now have been based largely on missing-person complaints and a patchwork of survivors' memories. They determined the military junta killed about 13,000 people, though human rights groups believe as many as 30,000 died during what Argentines call the 'dirty war.' The new evidence is something else entirely: documents created by the very people allegedly responsible for kidnappings, tortures and summary executions just as they were happening. [...]"

Israel / Turkey / Armenian Genocide

Genocide Recognition, But at What Cost?
By Arman Grigorian, July 1, 2010
"Political establishments in Israel and the US are actively weighing their options for punishing Turkey since the incident on Mavi Marmara and since Turkey voted to oppose the sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. One would not have to be particularly cynical to predict that recognizing the Armenian genocide -- something both countries have vigorously resisted for decades -- would quickly emerge on their respective lists of options. A discussion was held in the Israeli Knesset about possibly putting the issue on the legislative agenda, and several American lawmakers (including some who have opposed recognition in the past) have made statements in favor of passing such legislation now. Many Armenians and at least some organizations that claim to speak on their behalf are pleased. Leaders of the Armenian community have already held meetings with relevant members of the US Congress, as well as with the leaders of the American Jewish organizations, welcoming this new trend. The Armenian community's reaction to this development was, of course, even more predictable than the fact that this issue would come to the fore. For too long, proper recognition of the mass annihilation of Armenians has been the central item on the community's agenda, and for too long Armenians have had to endure the soul-crushing hypocrisy of both the Israeli and American political establishments, which scream louder than anybody in the world about the dangers of denying or minimizing past crimes against humanity, but until very recently were denying the Armenian genocide. They seem to have come around, finally. So some among us think we should rejoice. Or should we? Is this really a development that Armenians should celebrate, welcome, and support? The relentless pursuit of genocide recognition has become so central to Armenian life in America (or even to Armenian identity in America and elsewhere in the Diaspora), that it is impossible to conceive of any answer to this question other than 'of course.' But we should at least try to think about a different answer, for enthusiastically welcoming this newfound sympathy for Armenian suffering in the Israeli and American political establishments is not free of costs, both moral and political. [...]"