Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Australia / Colonialism / Genocide and Memory

British Settlement of Sydney an "Invasion"
By Jonathan Pearlman
The Telegraph, June 28, 2011
"The British settlement of Sydney in 1788 has been officially declared an 'invasion', following strong pressure from the Aboriginal contingent of the city council. The City of Sydney voted 7-2 to remove the words 'European arrival' from documents and rejected a compromise plan to describe the First Fleet's arrival as 'colonisation.' An Aboriginal advisory group had proposed the use of the word 'invasion' and threatened to quit over the compromise term offered by the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore. 'We were invaded,' said Paul Morris, an Aboriginal leader who pushed for the change. 'It is the truth and shouldn't be watered down. We wouldn't expect Jewish people to accept a watered-down version of the Holocaust, and if you ask American Indians, they wouldn't want the truth of their history watered down, so why should we?' After a bitter feud on the council over the terminology, Miss Moore accepted the Aboriginal panel's insistence on the term despite claims by some councillors it was 'divisive.' The preamble to the council's new 2030 master plan will now include the sentence: 'Despite the destructive impact of this invasion Aboriginal culture endured and is now globally recognised as one of the world's oldest cultures.' The document says the arrival of white settlers to Sydney Harbour had a 'devastating impact' on the local Eora tribe of Aborigines and resulted in the 'occupation and appropriation of traditional lands.' Arthur Phillip, the first governor of New South Wales state, estimated there were at least 1,500 Aborigines in Sydney at the time of white settlement, half of whom perished in a 1789 smallpox epidemic. Others were killed under a programme offering bounties for dead Aborigines, or perished from disease. Australia's original inhabitants, the country's most impoverished minority, are believed to have numbered around one million at the time of white settlement, but are now just 470,000 in a nation of 22 million.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cambodia / Genocide Tribunals

"Former Cambodian head of state Khieu Samphan, ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, former social affairs minister Ieng Thirith and 'Brother Number Two' Nuon Chea went on trial for war crimes on Monday." (Reuters)
Alleged Architects of Cambodia's "Killing Fields" Go on Trial
Reuters dispatch on MSNBC.com, June 27, 2011
"Now old and infirm, the four top surviving leaders of Cambodia's brutal Khmer Rouge regime went on trial before a UN-backed court for the first time Monday, facing justice three decades after their plan for a communist utopia left an estimated 1.7 million people dead. Security was tight at the tribunal, with dozens of police on guard and 500 spectators -- the majority victims of the 1975-79 regime -- watching from the gallery. With Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot long dead, this may be the nation's best chance to hold the accused architects of the 'killing fields' and the enslavement of millions of Cambodians accountable, though all four say they are innocent. Almost a quarter of Cambodia's population were wiped out under the Khmer Rouge through torture, execution, starvation and exhaustion. On trial Monday were 84-year-old Nuon Chea, who was Pol Pot's No. 2 and the group's chief ideologist; 79-year-old former head of state Khieu Samphan; ex-foreign minister Ieng Sary, 85; and his 79-year-old wife, Ieng Thirith, who served as minister for social affairs. The tribunal's chief judge, Nil Nonn, opened the court session. The defendants showed no emotion as opening statements to the UN-backed tribunal were read before a packed auditorium in proceedings screened on national television. The four are charged with committing crimes against humanity and genocide and accused of a litany of crimes under both international and Cambodian laws, including murder, enslavement, religious and political persecution, inhumane treatment and unlawful imprisonment. The four accused sat side by side, without handcuffs. Sem Hoen, who lost four family members at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, queued for several hours for a seat in the courtroom Monday. She said all she wanted was an explanation as to why so many people were killed indiscriminately. 'I want them to confess. People won't stay calm if they don't say what happened,' she said. 'Justice is very important.' Together, the four form what the tribunal calls Case 002. The chief jailer of a notorious Khmer Rouge prison was convicted last year in the breakthrough Case 001. Political and financial pressures on the tribunal are raising doubts over whether there will ever be a Case 003. [...]"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jewish Holocaust / Gender and Genocide

Silence Lifted: The Untold Stories of Rape during the Holocaust
By Jessica Ravitz
CNN.com, June 24, 2011
"The soldiers came for her at night. They took the girl to a barrack and forced her to watch a woman get raped. The drunken men then set loose a dog to rip off the raped woman's breasts. Blood was everywhere. The woman passed out. The young witness was next. Five soldiers held her down and took turns raping and sodomizing her. They spilled alcohol on her. They laughed. They said they'd kill her. She didn't yet have breasts for the dog to attack. Later, her sister cleaned her up, but they didn't speak about what had happened. No one talked about such things. They didn't have to. Or maybe they couldn't. The Congo? The former Yugoslavia? Libya? These allegations might have emerged from conflicts in any of these places. But this brutal testimony reaches back more than 65 years to the Holocaust -- more than half a century before the United Nations declared rape a war crime. Stories like this have the power to shock even those who think they know Holocaust history. The reason: They haven't been widely discussed. Is that because victims didn't share these accounts? Did interviewers not ask the right questions? Or have influences -- both within academia and the Jewish community -- served to sweep such accounts under the historical rug? A growing movement wants to peel back that rug.

Rwandan Genocide / Genocide Tribunals / Gender and Genocide

"The skulls of Rwandan victims rest on shelves at a genocide memorial inside the church at Ntarama just outside the capital Kigali." (Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters)
Rwandan Ex-Minister Becomes First Woman Convicted of Genocide
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, June 24, 2011
"A former Rwandan minister became the first woman to be convicted of genocide when she and her son were given life sentences for war crimes in the 1994 genocide. The UN international criminal tribunal for Rwanda found that Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, who was minister for family and women's affairs, and her son, Arsene Ntahobali, a former militia leader, helped to abduct hundreds of ethnic Tutsis who were assaulted, raped and killed in the southern region of Butare. They were both found guilty of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Hanna Brollowski, an international law researcher at the TMC Asser Institute in The Hague, said Nyiramasuhuko was the first woman to be convicted of genocide. Between April and June 1994 Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali, backed by the extremist Hutu militia known as the Interahamwe, abducted hundreds of ethnic Tutsis in Butare. 'Many were physically assaulted, raped and taken away to various places in Butare, where they were killed. During the course of these repeated attacks on vulnerable civilians, both Nyiramasuhuko and Ntahobali ordered killings,' said Judge William Sekule. 'They also ordered rapes. Ntahobali further committed rapes and Nyiramasuhuko aided and abetted rapes.' A former mayor, Elie Ndayambaje, was also jailed for life on Friday and three other defendants were given sentences of between 25 and 35 years.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sudan / South Kordofan

In Sudan, Genocide Anew?
By Eric Reeves
The Washington Post, June 18, 2011
We are, once again, on the verge of genocidal counterinsurgency in Sudan. History must not be allowed to repeat itself. By early 2004, it was clear that the ideologically Arabist and Islamist regime in Khartoum was waging a genocidal counterinsurgency war throughout the western region of Darfur. Yet months passed before a broad range of human rights, government and academic voices said as much, even as the consequences of silence and inaction were conspicuous. In February 2004 I argued on this page that a 'credible peace forum must be rapidly created. Immediate plans for humanitarian intervention should begin. The alternative is to allow tens of thousands of civilians to die in the weeks and months ahead in what will be continuing genocidal destruction.' This prediction was borne out in the months that followed, the most destructive phase of the Darfur genocide, in which African tribal groups were mercilessly targeted by soldiers and militias. Sadly, mortality from war-related causes continues to mount. But now we are debating how many hundreds, not tens, of thousands have perished from war-related causes in Darfur. Today, another episode of genocidal counterinsurgency is beginning in another part of Sudan. Absent a vigorous international response, there will almost certainly be a reprise of ethnically targeted human destruction in the middle of the country, specifically within the Nuba Mountains region of South Kordofan, which has a rich mixture of African inhabitants.

Guatemala / Genocide Tribunals

Guatemala Arrests Ex-General in 1980s Killings
Associated Press dispatch, June 17, 2011
"Guatemalan police on Friday arrested a former military chief of staff in the mass killing of government opponents during the country's 36-year civil war, the highest-ranking official yet detained for massacres in the 1980s. Retired Gen. Hector Mario Lopez, 81, was allegedly involved in about 200 massacres committed while he was chief of staff of the Guatemalan military between 1982 and 1983, said prosecutor Mynor Melgar. He faces charges of genocide and forced disappearance, a category of crime in which the victim has never been found. The civil war that started in 1960 cost about 200,000 lives before the government signed peace accords with leftist rebels in 1996. Independent reports blame the armed forces for most of the deaths. Lopez was arrested in Guatemala City. He is accused of directing a 'scorched earth' campaign against mainly Mayan communities during the dictatorship of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt. Rights activist Mario Minera welcomed the arrest of Lopez. 'This opens the possibility that there could be justice for hundreds of families, there could be a historical accounting to explain why the general populace and the Mayan Indians were victims,' Minera said. Rios Montt told a local radio station that he would be willing to face justice as well for the events of the early 1980s. However, Montt enjoys immunity from prosecution because he is currently serving a term as a congressman. 'It was a time of war, of guerrilla wars,' Montt told the Emisoras Unidas station. 'If there is no justice, there can be no talk of peace.' It was not possible to reach Lopez for comment and it was unclear if he had a lawyer."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sudan / South Kordofan

"Refugees from the Southern Kordofan region of Sudan gathered at a United Nations headquarters last week after ethnic clashes drove them from their homes." (Paul Banks/United Nations Mission in Sudan, via Associated Press)
UN Officials Warn of a Growing "Panic" in Central Sudan as Violence Spreads
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, June 15, 2011
"United Nations officials warned on Wednesday of 'a growing sense of panic' in the volatile Kordofan area of central Sudan, with 60,000 people displaced, aid convoys blocked, ethnic clashes erupting and dozens dead -- possibly including several United Nations workers. President Obama urged the Sudanese government to cease 'its military actions immediately.' Aid workers and historians of Sudan said that what was happening in the Kordofan region, as described by United Nations officials, had the echoes of previous conflicts in the country that had spiraled out of control, including the bloodshed in Darfur. 'The ingredients for an explosion are all present,' said Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College and an outspoken activist who has written frequently on Sudan. 'The violence in South Kordofan threatens peace in Sudan like no other crisis, and there are many.' Kordofan lies at the heart of Sudan, is emblematic of many of the country's problems, and is home to myriad militias, rival ethnic groups and contested oil wells. Vicious fighting broke out there last week, and there is fear that an escalating conflict in Kordofan could complicate southern Sudan's secession into an independent country, scheduled for next month. According to United Nations officials and aid workers, the northern Sudanese Army has embarked on an aggressive campaign against Kordofan's Nuban people, many of whom aligned with the southern Sudanese during Sudan's last civil war. 'They are killing the black people,' said a Sudanese aid worker who just escaped from a bombed village on Wednesday and asked not to be identified for safety reasons.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Sri Lanka / United Kingdom

"The British Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said he was shocked after seeing footage of attacks on civilians shown in the Channel 4 documentary."
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, June 16, 2011
"The British Government has renewed calls for an independent investigation into allegations of war crimes against Sri Lanka after a documentary showed civilians being shelled and troops summarily executing prisoners. Britain said it would lead international action if the Sri Lankan authorities failed to respond. Alistair Burt, the Foreign Office minister, said he was shocked after watching scenes that showed screaming Tamil civilians running for cover during shelling attacks and blindfolded and bound female rebel fighters being executed with a gunshot to the back of the head. 'Since the end of the conflict, the UK has called for an independent, thorough and credible investigation of the allegations that war crimes were committed during the hostilities, and the UK Government expects to see progress by the end of the year,' Mr Burt said in a statement. 'If the Sri Lankan government does not respond we will support the international community in revisiting all options available to press the Sri Lankan government to fulfil its obligations.' Sri Lanka has faced allegations that its troops and fighters from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelaam (LTTE), committed war crimes in the final stages of military operations that crushed the Tamil rebel fighters in the spring of 2009.

Srebrenica Massacre / Rwandan Genocide / Genocide Denial

Left and Libertarian Right Cohabit in the Weird World of the Genocide Belittlers
By George Monbiot
The Guardian, June 13, 2011
"[...] [G]enocide denial is just as embarrassing to the left as it is to the libertarian right. Last week Edward Herman, an American professor of finance best known for co-authoring Manufacturing Consent with Noam Chomsky, published a new book called The Srebrenica Massacre. It claims that the 8,000 deaths at Srebrenica are 'an unsupportable exaggeration. The true figure may be closer to 800.' Like Karadzic, the book claims that the market massacres in Sarajevo were carried out by Bosnian Muslim provocateurs. It maintains that the Serb forces' reburial of Bosnian corpses is 'implausible and lack[s] any evidential support' (an astonishing statement in view of the ICMP's findings). It insists that the witnesses to the killings are 'not credible' and suggests that the Bosnian Muslim soldiers retreated from Srebrenica to ensure that more Bosnians were killed, in order to provoke US intervention. These are not the first such claims that Herman has made. Last year, with David Peterson, he published a book called The Politics of Genocide. Mis-citing a tribunal judgment, he maintains that the Serb forces 'incontestably had not killed any but "Bosnian Muslim men of military age."' Worse still, he places the Rwandan genocide in inverted commas throughout the text and maintains that 'the great majority of deaths were Hutu, with some estimates as high as two million,' and that the story of 800,000 'largely Tutsi deaths' caused by genocide 'appears to have no basis in any facts.' It's as straightforward an instance of revisionism as I've ever seen, comparable in this case only to the claims of the genocidaires themselves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sudan / South Sudan / South Kordofan

Sudan: Is a New Wave of Mass Crimes Underway?
By Eric Reeves
The New Republic, June 14, 2011
"As the July 9 date for the secession of South Sudan approaches, something very ugly is happening in Sudan. Northern Sudan has initiated a series of violent affronts on contested regions: the border region of Abyei last month, and now, South Kordofan, a northern state whose inhabitants mainly identify with the South. While the assault on Abyei has resulted in an already acknowledged humanitarian crisis, the consequences of the attack on Kordofan are likely to be even more severe. An early UN assessment of the aftermath of the brutal seizure of Abyei found that the actions by Khartoum's military and militia forces -- including killings and ethnically targeted destruction of property -- were 'tantamount to ethnic cleansing.' More than 100,000 Dinka Ngok -- the northernmost of the Dinka tribal groups, the largest in the South -- fled for  their lives to the south of Abyei. A mass of satellite and ground photography depicting ethnic cleansing and the extraordinary statements by former US State Department Ambassadors-at-Large for War Crimes of the 'crimes against humanity' further testified to the gravity of the assault. Conditions are poor for those who fled Abyei, and for many there is no assistance at all. Khartoum has thrown up an economic blockade on goods moving from North to South Sudan, including fuel, leaving many relief organizations without mobility. Many of the displaced are severely suffering. The New York Times reported on one woman, 'slumped in the meager shade of a thorn tree, her belly rumbling from the nearly toxic mix of wild plants,' who had lost two of her children in the 'chaotic exodus out of Abyei.' Now, even greater violence is rapidly unfolding in South Kordofan, which abuts Abyei and lies immediately north of an oil-rich region in the South. For the past week, there have been many reports of ethnically-targeted executions (including women and children), destruction of churches, the killing of church officials, and bombings of civilian targets in the Nuba Mountains.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cambodia / Genocide Tribunals

A "Toxic Mistrust" at Cambodia's Dysfunctional Genocide Trial
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, June 13, 2011
"It's increasingly clear that the genocide tribunal in Cambodia -- a court set up to investigate and prosecute senior members of the Khmer Rouge regime who were responsible for the deaths of unknown numbers of people -- is in nothing less than a state of utter crisis. At the heart of the problem is the issue of how many former members of the murderous regime out to be brought before the court and how many should be allowed to quietly live out their lives. Last month I reported that Andrew Cayley, a British lawyer who serves as one of two prosecutors at the tribunal, had requested the investigating judges extend their inquiries into the actions of several former Khmer Rouge officials. He did so after the judges announced their investigation into the individuals -- a docket that is known as Case 003 -- had been concluded, without the individuals themselves even being questioned. Now there is more turmoil. Dr Stephen Heder, a former journalist and Cambodia expert who now lectures on south-east Asia at London's SOAS and who served as an advisor to the court, has resigned his position. Four other staff, said to be full-time UN employees, are said to have also resigned over what is widely perceived to be a reluctance on behalf the judges to pursue Case 003. The academic has declined to comment on his decision to stand down but in his letter of resignation, which he made available to me, Dr. Heder wrote that he was quitting because the judges had decided to close Case 003 'effectively without investigating it, which I, like others, believe was unreasonable.' But he said more than that, adding that he and others had lost confidence in the leadership of the judges and that they had created a 'toxic atmosphere of mutual distrust' in 'what is now a professionally dysfunctional office.' The $200m tribunal that took more than a decade to establish, has always struggled against a backdrop of interference and opposition from the Cambodian authorities. Five suspects, among them Comrade Duch, or Kaing Guek Eav, the head of the S-21 torture and interrogation centre in Phnom Penh who was convicted last summer, have been formally charged.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Libya / International Criminal Court

"Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi gives a speech in Rome in this August 30, 2010 file photo. International Criminal Court investigators have evidence linking Qaddafi to a policy of raping opponents and may bring separate charges on the issue, the ICC prosecutor said Wednesday." (Max Rossi/Reuters)
ICC: Evidence Shows That Qaddafi Ordered Rape of Hundreds
By Ariel Zirulnick
The Christian Science Monitor, June 9, 2011
"The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor says there is evidence that Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi ordered the rape of hundreds of women to spread fear of his regime and curb dissent. ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo also said there is evidence that Colonel Qaddafi may have distributed Viagra-type drugs to his troops 'to enhance the possibility to rape.' Although Qaddafi has suppressed dissent among Libyans for decades, often brutally, the use of rape as a weapon appears to be a disturbing new dynamic, said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo. 'It was never the pattern he used to control the population. The rape is a new aspect of the repression. And that's why we had doubts at the beginning but now we are more convinced,' he said, according to BBC News. Bloomberg reports that the evidence of rape was turned up only recently, which is why the charge wasn't included in the ICC arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, and Libyan security official Abdullah el-Sanussi. The rape charge may be added if ICC judges approve the arrest warrants. It is unclear how many women may have been raped so far. Moreno-Ocampo told Agence France-Presse that they had reports of hundreds of rapes in some areas, but they were difficult to prove definitively. Mercy Corps' Middle East director Nigel Pont said the stigma of rape prevents many women from coming forward. 'The women who are the victims of these acts are very hesitant to speak about this,' he said in an interview with Al Jazeera. 'He decided to punish using rapes, which in the Libya tradition is really something very bad, beyond the limits,' Moreno-Ocampo said, according to Bloomberg. Moreno-Ocampo said that the key question until recently was whether the rapes were being carried out under Qaddafi's orders or whether they were 'something that happened in the barracks,' not whether the rapes had occurred, according to Sky News. The Libyan government denied the charges, The Tripoli Post reports. 'It's the same old nonsense. We have always asked, time and again, for people to come on the ground and investigate all accusations against us,' said government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim. 'Unfortunately many people choose to accuse us cheaply of many many crimes and they refuse to come on the ground and investigate.' [...]"

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Germany / Nazism / Jewish Holocaust

"Adolf Hitler with fellow army dispatch runners in 1916. He was still working for the army in 1919 at the time of the 'Gemlich letter.'" (Beverly Grant/PA)
Hitler's First Draft of the Holocaust: Unique Letter Goes on Show
By Ed Pilkington
The Guardian, June 7, 2011
"A document understood to be the only existing written statement by Adolf Hitler in which he set out his belief in a systematic removal of Jews from society has been acquired by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles. The four-page letter, typewritten on faded brown paper and bearing Hitler's signature, was shown in public for the first time in New York, in what is likely to be seen as a key artefact in the historical record of the Holocaust. It will go on display at the centre's Tolerance Museum in Los Angeles. The centre's founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, said it was one of the most important documents of the period, showing the development of Hitler's antisemitic thought, and proved he had in mind a governmental solution to the so-called 'Jewish Question.' 'This is the most important item we have in an archive of more than 50,000 objects,' Hier said, adding that it would be used to educate future generations and to counter Holocaust denial. Though Hitler alluded to his plans to exterminate Jewish people in speeches and indirectly through his closest henchmen, his thoughts on the subject can be found nowhere else committed to paper. Such is the prevalence of fraud in Hitler memorabilia that some experts remain to be convinced of the document's authenticity. But the Wiesenthal Centre said it had authenticated the letter. Long known by historians of the Third Reich as 'the Gemlich letter,' the original signed copy has never before been seen in public. An unsigned copy exists in the state archives in Munich. Hitler wrote the letter in Munich on 16 September 1919. Then aged 30, he was as yet unknown but was starting to show interest in politics. Shortly before writing the letter he attended a meeting of the German Workers' party, which later he took over and converted into the National Socialist German Workers' party.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Iran / Argentina / Anti-Semitism

"Vahidi is understood to have left Bolivia on Tuesday night." (Associated Press)
Iran Defence Minister Forced to Leave Bolivia over 1994 Argentina Bombing
By Robin Yapp
The Telegraph, June 1, 2011
"Iran's defence minister was forced to leave Bolivia during a diplomatic trip after Argentina demanded his arrest in connection with the deadly 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires. Ahmad Vahidi was invited to Bolivia by the country's Defence Ministry and attended a military ceremony in the city of Santa Cruz on Tuesday in the presence of Evo Morales, the Bolivian president. He is on an Interpol wanted list over the bomb attack in the Argentine capital 17 years ago that killed 85 people and injured up to 300, making it the country's worst terrorist attack. Argentina believes he planned the attack on the seven-storey Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AIMA) building and gave the final go ahead for the bombing. Alberto Nisman, the lead prosecutor investigating the attack, contacted Interpol's offices in Bolivia to demand Vahidi's arrest as soon as Argentina became aware that he was in South America. But Vahidi was travelling on a diplomatic passport granting him immunity from arrest and Bolivia instead told him that he must leave the country. Jewish groups in Argentina were outraged by Vahidi's visit to a neighbouring country with Guillermo Borger, president of the AIMA, describing it as 'a provocation' and 'a joke.' 'It is a mockery and an affront that a friendly country such as Bolivia receives a minister accused of masterminding an attack that left 85 people dead,' he said. At the time of the Buenos Aires bomb attack, Vahidi was the commander of a special unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force. Iran has denied that any of its nationals were involved in the attack but since 2007 Interpol has had a 'red notice' against Vahidi, informing its 187 member countries that Argentina is seeking his arrest. Héctor Timerman, the Argentine Foreign Minister, used the social networking website Twitter to post a letter he received from David Choquehuanca, his Bolivian counterpart, apologising for the episode. The letter described the invitation to Vahidi as a 'grave incident' and promised that 'the government of Bolivia has taken the corresponding provisions to see to it that Ahmad Vahidi immediately leaves Bolivian territory.' It blamed the blunder on Bolivia's Defence Ministry, which it said 'did not know about the background of the case' and failed to consult with the rest of government. Vahidi is understood to have left Bolivia on Tuesday night without appearing at a second event he was due to attend but it was unclear whether he had immediately returned to Iran. [...]"

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


"In this photo taken Tuesday, May 24 , 2011, a table and a chair are seen in an apartment used by snipers loyal to Libyan-leader Moammar Gadhafi and destroyed during fighting with rebels for the control of Tripoli Street, Misrata, Libya."(AP/Rodrigo Abd)
UN Panel Finds Libya Forces Committed War Crimes
By Frank Jordans
Associated Press dispatch on Salon.com, June 1, 2011
"A United Nations panel said Wednesday that Libyan government forces have committed crimes against humanity and war crimes, apparently as a result of orders given by Moammar Gadhafi and other senior officials. The UN investigators said they have received estimates of 10,000-15,000 people killed since February and added there is evidence that opposition forces also committed 'some acts which would constitute war crimes.' The three-member panel based its finds on interviews with 350 people in government and rebel-held parts of Libya, as well as in refugee camps in neighboring countries. It concluded that government forces committed murder, torture and sexual abuses 'as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population' before and during the conflict that started in February. 'Such acts fall within the meaning of "crimes against humanity,"' the panel said. It also found 'many serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by government forces amounting to "war crimes."' 'The consistent pattern of violations identified creates an inference that they were carried out as a result of policy decisions by Col. Gadhafi and members of his inner circle,' it said. The panel's 92-page report, commissioned in February by the U.N. Human Rights Council, also found that rebel forces committed 'some acts which would constitute war crimes.' 'The commission is not of the view that the violations committed by the opposition armed forces were part of any "widespread or systematic attack" against a civilian population such as to amount to crimes against humanity,' it added. The panel was led by Cherif Bassiouni, a professor of law at DePaul University in Chicago. Bassiouni, an Egyptian, was assisted by Jordanian jurist Asma Khader, and Canadian Philippe Kirsch, a former judge at the International Criminal Court."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Anti-Semitism / Jewish Holocaust / Psychology of Genocide

Adolf Hitler
The Persistence of Hate
By Ray Fisman
Slate.com, June 1, 2011
"From Rosa Parks' refusal to move to the back of the bus in Montgomery, Ala., to the 'Little Rock Nine,' who defied school segregation in Arkansas, most of the civil rights clashes of the 20th century played out on the turf where the Confederacy had fought to preserve slavery 100 years earlier. If a century seems like a long time for a culture of racism to persist, consider the findings of a recent study on the persistence of anti-Semitism in Germany: Communities that murdered their Jewish populations during the 14th-century Black Death pogroms were more likely to demonstrate a violent hatred of Jews nearly 600 years later. A culture of intolerance can be very persistent indeed. Changing any aspect of culture -- the norms, attitudes, and 'unwritten rules' of a group -- isn't easy. Beliefs are passed down from parent to child -- positions on everything from childbearing to religious beliefs to risk-taking are transmitted across generations. ... 'Good' cultural attitudes -- like trust and tolerance -- may thus be sustained across generations. But the flipside is that 'bad' attitudes -- mutual hatred and xenophobia -- may also persist. The authors of the new study, Nico Voigtländer of UCLA and Joachim Voth of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, examine the historical roots of the virulent anti-Semitism that found expression in Nazi-era Germany. In a sense, their analysis can be seen as providing a foundation for the highly controversial thesis put forth by former Harvard professor Daniel Goldhagen in Hitler's Willing Executioners.