Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
January 25-31, 2006

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 adam.jones@yale.edu. To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to genocide_studies-subscribe@topica.com.


"Five Million People Face Daily Terror in
Northern Uganda, DRC, Burundi: UN Must Act"

Oxfam Press Release, 27 January 2006
"As a high-level United Nations Security Council meeting today debates solutions to crises in Africa's Great Lakes region, its first step must be to stop the deluge of weapons and protect civilians from attacks by armed groups, said international agency Oxfam. Conflicts raging across the Great Lakes Region, particularly in northern Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have lead to millions of deaths and caused almost five million people to flee across borders or become displaced inside their countries. Oxfam said that controlling the spread of weapons and stopping attacks on civilians and aid workers by armed groups was key to bringing peace. A 2003 UN arms embargo has failed to stop weapons reaching armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where fighting earlier this week caused thousands of refugees to flee. Every day, one thousand people die as a direct result of the conflict. It is estimated that thirty thousand people have died since the beginning of this year due to conflicts in the DRC and Northern Uganda alone. Oxfam also strongly criticized the UN Security Council for failing to take any effective action to stop the war in northern Uganda that has now entered its twentieth gruesome year. 'The region is awash with weapons and people are paying with their lives,' said Oxfam's Policy Advisor Greg Puley. 'From Burundi to northern Uganda, communities have become the battleground on which conflicts are fought. The UN Security Council must ensure that the Ugandan and DRC governments protect their own people from being slaughtered.' [...]"


"Former Cambodian Leaders to Face Trial"
By Seth Mydans
The New York Times, 23 January 2006 [Registration Required]
"Twenty-seven years after the Khmer Rouge leadership was driven from power, some of its top figures may soon be put on trial for causing the deaths of nearly one-fourth of the Cambodian population. Under an agreement between the United Nations and the government here, a special authority is preparing a courtroom and hiring staff and technical experts. In February, the head of a United Nations administrative team is expected to arrive and set up shop. Both Cambodia and the United Nations are selecting judges and prosecutors for an international tribunal. Diplomats and analysts who have been skeptical during nearly a decade of negotiations and delays now expect to see some measure of judicial accounting for the 1.7 million people who lost their lives from 1975 to 1979. ... There are still, as always, possibilities for delay, and nobody is rushing to take the plastic slipcovers off the 540 blue chairs in the hearing room. At one point, for example, an infestation of termites in the roof of the National Assembly building caused months of delay in the approval of a trial format. But most of the $56.3 million budget has now been secured and sometime soon the clock is expected to start ticking on a three-stage time frame: a year for investigations, a year for the trial and a year for appeals. The tribunal will target a small pool of senior figures and not seek to indict the many thousands of people involved in carrying out the Khmer Rouge's policies of forced hardships and summary executions. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Ursula Duba for this link.]


"UN Steps Up Peace Efforts in Congo Ahead of April Vote"
By Blake Lambert
The Christian Science Monitor, 30 January 2006
"Once criticized by the Congolese people and Western governments for its passivity, the world's largest United Nations peacekeeping operation has redefined itself as an aggressive and determined force. The UN mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo, known by its French acronym MONUC, has in recent months stepped up efforts to tame the country's lawless eastern region ahead of the first free presidential and parliamentary elections in more than 40 years, scheduled for April 29. Yet, despite six years of peacekeeping efforts from MONUC, UN spokespeople and analysts say the dozens of local and foreign militias based or lurking in the resource-rich but isolated east still endanger civilians and the electoral process. The UN's 17,000 troops are now out across Congo's east to track down and, at times, kill the militiamen. A major offensive last month in the North Kivu region left nearly 90 gunmen dead. However, those stepped-up efforts often carry a human cost: Eight UN soldiers from Guatemala recently died in combat, allegedly in an ambush by the notorious Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, in Garamba Park near the Congo-Sudan border. [...]"


"Report: U.S. Arms Helped Indonesia Attack East Timor"
By Colum Lynch
The Washington Post, 25 January 2006 [Registration Required]
"U.S. political and military support for Indonesia was vital to its ability to invade East Timor in December 1975 and to sustain a brutal 24-year occupation that cost the lives of at least 100,000 people, parts of a Timorese inquiry made public Tuesday show. East Timor's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation contended that the Ford administration 'turned a blind eye' to the Indonesian invasion even though it knew that U.S.-supplied arms would be used to carry it out. The report called on the United States, France, Britain and other military backers of Indonesia to pay reparations to victims of Indonesian oppression. ... The commission was created in 2001 by the United Nations and East Timor to provide a comprehensive account of abuses during Indonesia's occupation, which ended in 1999. East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao delivered it last week to Secretary General Kofi Annan. 'The Commission finds that the United States of America failed to support the right of the East Timorese people to self-determination, and that its political and military support were fundamental to the Indonesian invasion and occupation,' the report said. 'The support of the United States was given out of a strategically-motivated desire to maintain a good relationship with Indonesia, whose anti-communist regime was seen as an essential bastion against the spread of communism.' The national archive gave the commission National Security Council documents showing that U.S. officials were aware of Indonesian plans to invade East Timor a year before the invasion and did not discourage it. Other documents showed that U.S. officials had evidence that Indonesia had used U.S. naval vessels in support of air bombardment during its invasion of East Timor, but decided to remain silent about it. [...]"


"Papua Likened to East Timor"
By Tom Allard
The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 January 2006
"The Indonesian military is using the same tactics of terror in West Papua that were employed during its bloody reign in East Timor, and Australia should step in to mediate a peace settlement, warns separatist Herman Wainggai. Mr. Wainggai, the leader of the 43 asylum-seekers who arrived in Australia two weeks ago, said ongoing abuses by the Indonesian military, often in cahoots with militias, were terrifying the indigenous community. 'It's the same as with East Timor,' he told the Herald yesterday from Christmas Island, where the asylum-seekers are being processed by immigration officials. 'They have created militias and jihadis in West Papua. The people, and especially activists for independence, are very scared.' The military and police regularly raided campuses and villages searching for independence sympathisers, while Indonesia's intelligence network kept constant tabs on their activities, Mr. Wainggai said. Jailed twice for his political activism, Mr Wainggai said he had no faith in the promise by the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, that, if they returned home, the Papuans would face no reprisals. Many such promises had been made in the past, he said, and bitter experience meant they could not be accepted at face value. 'We don't trust Indonesia,' he said. 'If I was sent back to Indonesia, I would die. The Government and the military treats West Papuans like animals. They have killed us like animals.' [...]"
[n.b. See also "Issue: The Environment," below.]


"UN Marks the Holocaust"
By Daniel Trotta
Reuters dispatch in the Herald Sun (Australia), 29 January 2006
"Survivors commemorated the Holocaust at the United Nations yesterday with harrowing accounts and pleas to halt acts of genocide such as those in Darfur in Sudan. The ceremony marked the first of what is to become an annual UN event and took place in the General Assembly hall, where 191 world governments daily debate current atrocities that experts compare to the Holocaust. The 60th anniversary of the Holocaust was commemorated last year. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and others denounced as bigots those who deny the Holocaust. Separate from the ceremony, Iran issued a statement accusing Israel of manipulating genocide for political purposes. Holocaust survivors and experts stressed the importance of never forgetting that Germany systematically killed six million Jews and millions of others including Poles, homosexuals, Russians and Gypsies during World War II. 'If you, the leaders of the world, remember -- and teach others to remember -- the Holocaust and atrocities like Darfur, Biafra and Kosovo will have no place on the face of the earth,' said Roman Kent, chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Survivors of the Holocaust. [...]"

"Arab Holocaust Centre Reaches Out"
By Rob Winder
BBC Online, 28 January 2006
"Khaled Mahameed admits his museum, in Nazareth in northern Israel, is small. But he believes it is unique. According to Mr. Mahameed, it is the first and only Arab run centre for promoting the study of the Holocaust. The museum contains a collection of just 60 photographs depicting the genocide with Arabic captions explaining the scenes. The pictures were purchased from Yad Vashem -- the Israeli national Holocaust memorial. Mr. Mahameed firmly believes that it is only by understanding the truth about how the state of Israel was created that Arabs can fully understand Jews and ultimately resolve the conflict between them. Many Arabs believe that Israel uses sympathy for Jewish suffering during the Holocaust to gain support from the West, Mr. Mahameed says. Arab leaders, he says, think that by giving credence to the Holocaust they are legitimising Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. 'But when Palestinians learn about the Holocaust they will understand the Jewish people better and can begin to develop a shared history,' says Mr. Mahameed enthusiastically. [...]"

"Iran Says UN Is Manipulated in Holocaust Observance"
Bloomberg.com, 27 January 2006
"Iran said the United Nations was being 'manipulated for political purposes' in its first official observance today of the memory of the Holocaust. The UN's 191 member governments agreed on Nov. 1 to make Jan. 27 the annual 'International Day of Commemoration in Memory of Victims of the Holocaust.' The decision was taken by consensus in the General Assembly, which means Iran didn't formally object or call for a vote on the resolution. Iran's mission to the UN explained its position on the measure in a note to the president of the General Assembly that was released today. While condemning genocide as a crime against humanity, the statement said 'rendering political judgments on such events and closing the door to any scientific scrutiny' would impede efforts to prevent future atrocities. 'Regrettably, the Zionist regime has routinely attempted to exploit the sufferings of the Jewish people in the past as a cover for its crimes being perpetrated today against Palestinians in the occupied territories, including massacre,' the statement said. 'The international community should take strong action against such atrocities of the Zionist regime and not allow it to manipulate humanitarian sentiments.' ... Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN, said the interest of Iran's 'lunatic' regime in genocide stemmed from a desire to 'learn how it was perpetrated so it can carry out the next holocaust.' He said Iran's statement was 'just another example of why the UN and especially the Security Council should urgently address the nuclear quest of Iran, because having weapons of mass destruction in the hands of this extremist regime would be a threat not just to Israel but to the whole international community.' [...]"

"'British Schindler' Remembers War"
BBC Online, 25 January 2006
"A man dubbed the 'British Schindler' for his work saving Jewish children is to speak at a Holocaust memorial event. Sir Nicholas Winton was 29 when he smuggled 669 boys and girls, destined for concentration camps, out of Czechoslovakia in 1939. He kept quiet about his work for 50 years until his wife found a scrapbook. The 96-year-old of Maidenhead, Berks, will be joined at the Reading Town Hall event on Wednesday by Vera Gissing, who was just 11 when he saved her. Ms. Gissing, also of Berkshire, is now an author, lecturer and literary translator. She has co-written a biography and film about Sir Nicholas, who began his mission before the outbreak of war when he was invited to help refugees in Czechoslovakia. After realising the danger that the imminent Nazi invasion posed, he worked to find British families willing to put up £50 to rescue the children and look after them until they were 17. Sir Nicholas was just 29 at the time His efforts have been likened to the work of the world famous 'saviour' of Jewish prisoners Oskar Schindler. [...]"


"Suicide Voters: How Hamas Dooms Palestine"

By Christopher Hitchens
Slate.com, 30 January 2006
"[...] Hamas says that it wants an Islamic state all the way from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It publishes and promulgates the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Why not assume that it is at least partly serious about all this? For years, the PLO leadership has been at least officially committed to a two-state solution and has at least officially made a distinction between Judaism and Zionism. It has also renounced the disgusting tactic of suicide murder. The emergence of a party that considers all of these evolutions as betrayals may have to do with something more than the provision of welfare. I am uncomfortably reminded of the tripe talked by many liberals and leftists about the Khomeini revolution in Iran in 1979, where it was said that religion was merely the form that protest against the corrupt and repressive shah happened to take, and that the mullahs could be contained. ... It's agonizing to watch the Palestinians choose a leadership that is openly aligned with the moribund and vicious dictatorships in Iran and Syria. The time when the PLO called for a democratic secular state seems a very long while ago. But just look at the primeval propaganda of Hamas, which speaks of a land that is holy to one god and dedicated only to his fanatical supporters. Where has one heard that evil rubbish before? [...]"

"The Palestinians' Democratic Choice Must Be Respected"
By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 27 January 2006
"[...] If Europe, weak though its power may currently be, wants to have an independent role in the Middle East, clearly different from the manipulative US approach, it is vital to go on funding the PA [Palestinian Authority] regardless of the Hamas presence in government. Nor should the EU fall back on the cynical hope that Hamas will be as corrupt as Fatah, and so lose support. You cannot use European taxpayers' money to strengthen Palestinian institutions while privately wanting reforms to fail. Hamas should be encouraged in aiming to be more honest than its predecessors. Above all, Europe should not get hung up on the wrong issues, like armed resistance and the 'war on terror.' Murdering a Palestinian politician by a long-range attack that is bound also to kill innocent civilians is morally and legally no better than a suicide bomb on a bus. Hamas's refusal to give formal recognition of Israel's right to exist should also not be seen by Europe as an urgent problem. History and international politics do not march in tidy simultaneous steps. For decades Israel refused even to recognise the existence of the Palestinian people, just as Turkey did not recognise the Kurds. Until 15 years ago Palestinians had to be smuggled to international summits as part of Jordan's delegation. It is less than that since the Israeli government accepted the goal of a Palestinian state. Hamas may eventually disarm itself and recognise Israel. That will be the end of the process of establishing a just modus vivendi for Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. It cannot be the first step. Today's priority is to accept that Palestinians have spoken freely. They deserve respect and support."


"'Ex-Kigali Ngali Prefect Supervised Ntarama Killings'"
By James Munyaneza
The New Times (Kigali) on AllAfrica.com, 30 January 2006
"Former prefect of former Kigali Ngali province, Francois Karera, supervised the slaughter of thousands of Tutsi refugees at Ntarama Church in Bugesera in the present-day Southern Province, the UN court trying the 1994 Genocide suspects heard on Friday. A protected witness code-named BML, told the court that Karera ordered the church killings on the 15th of April, 1994, a day after he had visited the refugees and promised them security. 'I was hiding in a nearby ditch when a four-bus convoy full of Interahamwe and soldiers arrived along with Karera. He immediately instructed the killers that he did not want to see any Tutsi at the place alive, and then fired the first shot towards the church,' the witness told the court session, presided over by the tribunal president, Erik Mose, a Norwegian. He said the attackers used rifles, clubs, machetes and other traditional weapons to annihilate the refugees. 'I noticed him very well as he gave the directive to kill in a loud voice. He feared nobody.' The witness, whose identity was concealed for security reasons, also said that after the attackers had hacked many people to death in the church courtyard, they sent the temple ablaze to kill those inside. 'Many people had fled inside the church. They hurled grenades at the church and wiped out all that were inside. I heard a lot of screaming; the killers were on the loose after Karera's instructions.' [...]"

"Evidence 'Proves' Belgian Priest Guilty of Genocide"
Expatica.com, 30 January 2006
"Rwandan President Paul Kagame has said he has 'information and pieces of evidence' that 'appear to prove' Belgian priest Guy Theunis was involved in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Theunis was transferred to Belgium last year after spending two months in jail in Rwanda after he was accused of being an accomplice to the 1994 mass killings. 'I am no judge. But the information and pieces of evidence that I have been able to look at appear to prove his guilt,' Kagame told [the] newspaper Jeune Afrique/L'intelligent. White Friar Theunis, 60, lived in Rwanda from 1970 to 1994. He was arrested on 6 September 2005 at the international airport of Kigali when he was traveling to Belgium. He was subsequently the first foreigner to be brought before a Rwandan village court, or 'gacaca', set up to investigate the genocide that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 1994. Theunis denies the charges that he was guilty of inciting genocide through republishing articles from the extremist publication 'Kangura' in his 'Dialogue' magazine, of which he was editor-in-chief from 1989-94. [...]"

"Gacaca Trials to End This Year"
By Edwin Musoni
The New Times (Kigali) on AllAfrica.com, 25 January 2006
"Trials for genocide suspects by the traditional Gacaca communal courts will end in 2006, officials from the National Service for Gacaca Jurisdictions have said. Charles Munyaneza, a top official at the Gacaca Secretariat, said all was set to ensure that the proceedings end this year 'regardless of whatever comes around.' But the certainty of the schedule is dependent on whether parliament expedites debate on the amendment of the Gacaca law. Cases numbering 4162 have already been tried. The Executive Secretary of the National Service for Gacaca Jurisdictions, Domitille Mukantaganzwa, said the speedy approval of the law would make the trials not to go beyond 31st December this year. She, however, said that national reforms including local elections, territorial demarcations, could push the target to the first quarter of 2007."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Serbia Admits Mladic Family Talks"

BBC Online, 30 January 2006
"Serbia and Montenegro Defence Minister Zoran Stankovic has admitted holding secret talks with relatives of fugitive war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic. But Mr. Stankovic denied that his ministry was in talks for the surrender of the former Bosnian Serb general. He said he did not know where Mr Mladic was hiding and insisted he was not being protected by the military. The Serbian authorities have been blamed for the failure to capture Mr Mladic and Radovan Karadzic. The UN's High Representative in Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, who steps down this week, has said the continued freedom of the two men wanted over the Srebrenica massacre is an obstacle to peace in Bosnia. However, he noted that the Serb authorities had now begun to co-operate with the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague. [...]"

"Albanian Gandhi Dies"
By Amitabh Pal
The Progressive, 24 January 2006
"[...] The [Kosovar] Albanian response in the face of repression was quite remarkable. 'Without resort to violence -- which all among them then viewed as a suicidal option -- they had organized and maintained a free or liberated zone such as revolutionaries and reformers of the past, worldwide, had long dreamed,' Stephen Schwartz writes. 'Unfortunately, these fine points of political science were largely ignored by the rest of the globe.' Two separate and parallel societies were set up in Kosovo. This endeavor extended from education and health to the sports and the cultural realm. Rugova said that nonviolence was 'a necessity and a choice.' 'The practice of nonviolence in this situation corresponds to an aspect of our character, to a tradition of patience and prudence in the face of all domination,' he stated. 'By means of this active resistance based on nonviolence and solidarity, we "found" ourselves.' ... The Rugova saga is a mixed one. Due to several slip-ups and the lack of international support, he was not able to realize the full potential of his nonviolent strategy, nor was he able to reach out to his adversaries in a Gandhi-like manner. The fact, however, that he managed to sustain a nonviolent campaign for years in extremely difficult circumstances is by itself no mean achievement. Even with all his flaws of personality and tactics, the Rugova path was surely preferable to that of most other leaders in the Balkans, past and present. For this, Rugova's embrace, no matter how half-hearted, of the Gandhian approach needs to be praised. The 'Gandhi of the Balkans' showed that a program of peaceful civil disobedience can be put into practice even in very challenging situations. He deserves to be globally recognized."


"Plan to End Darfur Violence Is Failing, Officials Say"
By Joel Brinkley
The New York Times, 28 January 2006 [Registration Required]
"The broad strategy for ending the carnage in Darfur, Sudan, devised over the last two years by the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, is collapsing as the violence and chaos in the region seem to grow with every passing week, United Nations and Bush administration officials say. After three years of bloodshed that has already claimed more than 200,000 lives, officials say they are struggling to devise an effective new strategy. 'We're working very closely with our partners to see if we can turn this around,' said a senior administration official who was not authorized to speak publicly. But the obstacles and complications are multiplying. Peace talks have nearly halted after government and Darfur-rebel negotiators, in the latest round, showed an unwillingness to seriously discuss anything except sharing Sudan's oil wealth. A growing military conflict on the Sudan-Chad border in Darfur is further endangering hundreds of thousands of refugees living in camps there. One of the Sudanese president's latest positions, articulated in a published interview this month, is that the government-backed militias known to be behind most of the violence are actually a fictitious creation of the media and the United States Congress. 'The looming threat of complete lawlessness and anarchy draws nearer,' Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, lamented earlier this month as he urged Western nations to do more. The international response has been so ineffectual that 'people on the ground are just laughing,' said Jan Pronk, the chief United Nations envoy in Sudan. [...]"

"UN Prepares to Send Peace-Keeping Force to Darfur"
By Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, 27 January 2006
"The UN is preparing to intervene in the Darfur crisis in Sudan after admitting that an African Union mission has failed to curb the violence that has seen two million people displaced and thousands killed. With violence increasing over the past few months, Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, said the replacing of the AU force with a UN one is 'now inevitable.' The UN plans to put in a bigger, better-financed force with a mandate not just to monitor events as the AU had been doing but to fire back at and hunt down those responsible for the ethnic cleansing. Mr. Annan said he wished efforts to resolve the crisis had borne fruit. 'Alas, the opposite is true. People in many parts of Darfur continue to be killed, raped and driven from their homes by the thousand. The number displaced has now reached two million, while three million [half the total population of Darfur] are dependent on international relief for food and other basics. Many parts of Darfur are becoming too dangerous for relief workers to reach.' [...]"

"British MP's Implore UN on Darfur"
By Patrick Bigabo & Agencies
The New Times (Kigali) on AllAfrica.com, 27 January 2006
"Members of the British House of Commons' International Development Committee have demanded their government to push the United Nations to sanction the Sudan government for failure to rein in the Janjaweed militia in the Darfur region, that have persistently butchered thousands of innocent civilians in the area. The MP's say inaction by the UN may lead to 'another Rwanda' (genocide). 'African Union peacekeeping forces monitoring an uneasy ceasefire in Darfur are overstretched,' the MPs said, adding the AU peacekeepers should be given a full UN mandate and massive additional resources. The MPs further said that the current peacekeeping strategy has failed and there is need for a bigger and stronger force to be established in Darfur. 'If the militias were to turn on the Darfur camps, there is nothing on the ground to save the refugees. There are millions of people at risk and a very small although effective force there to protect them,' BBC quoted one of the parliamentarians as saying. [...]"

"Jewish Organizations Plan a Big Push Against Genocide in Darfur"
By Marc Perelman
Forward.com, 27 January 2006
"Jolted by the tepid response to the genocide in Darfur, Jewish communal organizations are mobilizing at an unprecedented level for an issue that might appear tangential to Jewish concerns. National and local Jewish organizations are gearing up for a rally to be held April 30 in Washington under the aegis of the Save Darfur Coalition, which brings together more than 150 faith-based and human rights groups and in which Jewish organizations figure prominently. Organizers also intend to deliver a million handwritten and electronic postcards to the White House at the time of the rally, demanding a more effective American response and American support for a stronger multinational force to protect civilians in the war-stricken region. 'Darfur hit a heartstring in the Jewish community,' said Steve Gutow, executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. The council is a body that coordinates 13 national and 122 local Jewish agencies on issues of social justice, among other concerns. 'It shows that when we say "never again," we mean it. ... It is one of those moments when everybody seems to be saying the same thing and we see an extraordinary force coming about.' The Bush administration in 2004 applied the term 'genocide' to the repressive actions conducted by the Sudanese government and its henchmen against the population of Darfur. The United Nations passed a series of resolutions, and the African Union introduced troops into the area. Even so, according to diplomats and relief groups, the situation on the ground has worsened. [...]"

"Rebels Battling for Darfur Town"
BBC Online, 26 January 2006
"Fighting is continuing in Sudan's war-torn Darfur province, where rebels are trying to take a government-held town, the UN says. The clashes have prompted aid agencies to pull out of the area around Golo. The US has condemned the rebel attacks. One of the Sudanese aid workers being evacuated was killed on Wednesday when a UN helicopter crashed. More than two million people have been forced from their homes and at least 180,000 have died in the conflict. 'Fighting is still continuing with heavy weapons' in the West Darfur town of Golo, said UN spokeswoman Radhia Achouri. She urged all sides to cease hostilities. The town has changed hands several times during the conflict. Some 100 aid workers -- including 15 survivors of the helicopter crash -- have now left the area. There are also clashes in South Darfur, near Shearia. Without aid workers in the region, details on casualties are sketchy but almost 30 soldiers and policemen were reportedly killed on Wednesday. The BBC's Jonah Fisher in Khartoum says the international community has changed tack. The government used to be generally blamed for the violence but now the US has condemned the rebels for launching their twin offensives. [...]"


"The Novelist Walks"
By Hugh Eakin
Slate.com, 24 January 2006
"[...] In the end, Turkey's greatest writer has offended both Turkish hard-liners and German conservatives for failing to make his allegiances clear. But it is arguably Pamuk's mixed message -- that Turkey desperately wants and needs Europe even as it thumbs its nose at fundamental European notions of justice and truth -- that will prove most accurate in hindsight. Under the current regime, Turkey has become both more democratic and more comfortable with its Muslim heritage; during Ramadan last fall, the major public debate was about whether Muslims could break the fast with sex. But the changes have happened too quickly, and under too much pressure from Brussels, for Turkish society to be really at ease with it all. And the most painful part of that transition, as postwar Europe itself has shown, may be coming to terms with history. There is surely some irony in that fact that you can now be prosecuted in Europe for denying a genocide and prosecuted in Turkey for asserting that a genocide took place. For a country that has long created fictions out of its own past, it is all the more fitting then, that it is a novelist who starts the dialogue about what really happened."


"There is Genocide in Acholi: Is This Statement Fact Or Fiction?"
By Joel Ohuma
The Monitor (Kampala) on AllAfrica.com, 23 January 2006
"[...] There is nowhere where the Convention states that, for it to be deemed genocide, it must occur in such a dramatic cold-blooded fashion (Rwanda and Darfur), or the long slow killing of the Jews in Nazi Germany. In other words the Convention leaves open the interpretation of genocide based on what is actually taking place on the ground. It could be a slow collective death or quick massive killings. The key is in the numbers. For northern Uganda, in the words of the Convention, it is; 'the deliberate inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,' that carries resonance. It is this definition that Olara Otunnu uses as a measure against the facts he so eloquently presents regarding the killings in northern Uganda. He poses two key moral questions which challenge us to look at the facts more closely: do the weekly killings of 1,000 people in the government created and enforced camps, amount to genocide as defined by the Geneva Convention? Do the conditions in the camps, militarily enforced as they are by government forces, amount to 'the deliberate inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring its physical destruction in whole or in part'? His answer, based on the facts -- he elaborates this at great length in his lecture at the Sydney Peace Prize and on KFM radio in a discussion with General David Tinyefuza early this month -- is an unequivocal yes. The facts Otunnu gives are not his, but are those presented by international humanitarian organisations operating on the ground in northern Uganda, such as the UN, which last year announced that at a minimum, 1,000 people are dying in those camps every week. Would Lemkin accept Otunnu's charge based on the merits of the case and facts on the ground? With 50,000 dying each year under the government's watch according to UN figures, there is little doubt he would. [...]"


"Military Abuse Prosecutions Often Draw Mild Punishments"
By Nicholas Riccardi
Baltimore Sun, 25 January 2006
"Soldiers prosecuted for abusing or killing detainees rarely have paid a heavy price, an indication of the difficulties the U.S. military has had sorting out right from wrong during the war on terrorism, human rights groups and military attorneys say. A report to be released next week by Human Rights First has found that service members were disciplined in 12 of the 33 cases in which detainees' deaths were ruled homicides. Often that punishment was relatively mild, as was the case for Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer Jr. Charged with murder in the death of an Iraqi general during an interrogation session, Welshofer was convicted last week of lesser offenses. On Monday, a jury of six Army officers at Fort Carson, Colo., ruled that instead of going to prison and being forced from the military, Welshofer would receive a formal reprimand, forfeit $6,000 of his salary and spend 60 days restricted to his home, office and church. It was the latest in a growing list of setbacks for military prosecutors. Last year, a jury acquitted a Navy SEAL in the beating an Iraqi detainee who later died in CIA custody. And of 15 soldiers serving in Afghanistan whom the Army has disciplined for abuse at a jail where two detainees died, three were acquitted and none has received more than five months in prison. There is no complete independent tracking of military abuse prosecutions. But observers say the stiffest sentence appears to have gone to Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., who was convicted of torturing detainees at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. He is serving 10 years in a military prison. 'It's telling that the person who got the most time was the one all over television,' said Jumana Musa, an official with Amnesty International. 'The less in the news, the lighter the sentence seems to be.' [...]"

"US Accused of Using Gangster Tactics over Terror Suspects"
By Nicholas Watt
The Guardian, 25 January 2006
"Europe's human rights watchdog accused Washington yesterday of using 'gangster tactics' by flying in terrorist suspects to countries where they would face torture, and criticised European countries who appear to have done nothing to intervene. 'If a country resorts to the tactics of gangsters I say no,' Dick Marty, a Swiss senator, said at the Council of Europe's winter session in Strasbourg. 'There are different elements that allow me to say that governments were aware of what was happening.' Mr. Marty, who is investigating allegations of 'extraordinary rendition,' estimated that more than 100 people have been flown to prisons in third countries where they may have been tortured. 'There is a great deal of coherent, convergent evidence pointing to the existence of a system of "relocation" or "outsourcing of torture,"' Mr Marty told the 46-nation council. 'Individuals have been abducted, deprived of their liberty and transported to different destinations in Europe, to be handed over to countries in which they have suffered degrading treatment and torture. It is highly unlikely that European governments, or at least their intelligence services, were unaware.' [...]"
[n.b. "NKVD tactics" would be another way of putting it.]


"Jewish Lawyer Rules On French History"
By Brett Kline
JewishTimes.com, 31 January 2006
"The French government has tapped the son of famous Nazi-hunters to help decide the fate of a contentious law that seeks to interpret the country's colonial history. Arno Klarsfeld, 39, seems to attract attention in France with everything he does, including when he took Israeli citizenship and served two years in the border police during the recent intifada. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy asked Klarsfeld to issue what amounts to an official opinion on the rewriting of part of a 2005 law, known as the "Feb. 23 Law," which basically states that there were positive aspects to France's colonial empire. Klarsfeld presented his recommendations to Sarkozy in late January, arguing that the law should stress both positive and negative aspects of colonization. The law has proved hugely controversial with French historians, most of whom are considered leftists. They say politicians should not make laws concerning the public's view of history, and that the last word on history should be left to historians only. ... Klarsfeld says he agrees that there were positive aspects of colonization, such as French efforts to build infrastructure and roads, hospitals and schools, which are all mentioned in the Feb. 23 Law. However, the text neglects the well-known negative aspects such as slavery, racial injustice, economic exploitation. [...]"

"France's 'Positive' Colonialism Law To Be Struck Down"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on The Tocqueville Connection, 26 January 2006
"A bitter row over a French law that recognises the 'positive role' of colonialism appeared to be close to resolution Thursday after President Jacques Chirac asked for the controversial clause to be struck off the statute books. The president accepted advice from a parliamentary committee to resort to a rarely-used constitutional procedure in order to remove the offending article -- which appears in a government bill passed a year ago providing financial compensation to repatriated colonials. The clause is to be referred to the country's constitutional council -- a nine-member body that decides on the constitutionality of laws -- on the grounds that it is outside the competence of the legislature. Article Four of law 2005-158 states that 'scholastic programmes recognise in particular the positive role of the French overseas presence, especially in north Africa, and accord to history and to the sacrifices of army soldiers from these territories the eminent place that they deserve.' At Chirac's request, the constitutional council is expected to rule that school texts are fixed by government regulation not by law, and that the clause is therefore unsustainable. The device provides the government with a get-out from a highly embarrassing episode, which further damaged relations with the country's black and Arab populations just as the country was reeling from last November's rioting in high-immigration suburbs. [...]"


"New York Urges U.S. Inquiry in Mining Company's Indonesia Payment"
By Raymond Bonner and Jane Perlez
The New York Times, 28 January 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] With gold prices recently surging to a 25-year high of more than $550 an ounce, Freeport said that its profits had more than doubled last quarter and that it would pay the Indonesian government some $1 billion in taxes for 2005. At the same time, by Freeport's own estimates, its mining operations will generate some six billion tons of waste in Papua before they are through, much of it dumped directly into what was once a pristine river system. Its waste disposal method, the company says, has been approved by provincial authorities. 'I saw where they had demolished a mountain forever, and instead left an ugly lake,' Mr. Rais said in an interview of a visit he made to the mine. 'I felt humiliated as a son of Indonesia.' In Parliament, members of two separate committees said they would ask Freeport executives to answer questions about the company's payments to the military, its tax payments and the environmental damage around the mine site. A member of the environment committee, Alvin Lie, said his panel would hold hearings in February to look at the environmental consequences of the gold mine on one of the world's most diverse ecosystems. [...]"
[n.b. Read those phrases carefully: "six billion tons of waste ... much of it dumped directly into what was once a pristine river system ... [in] one of the world's most diverse ecosystems." What more potent symbol could there be of market logic run amok? Not that state socialists would have done any differently; but surely this constitutes ecocide.]


"UN Chief Denounces Holocaust Denial"
The Australian, 27 January 2006
"UN chief Kofi Annan today denounced those who denied the Holocaust, as the world body marked the 61st anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. 'Remembering is a necessary rebuke to those who say the Holocaust never happened or has been exaggerated,' Mr Annan said. 'Holocaust denial is the work of bigots. We must reject their false claims whenever, wherever and by whomever they are made.' He also urged the world to remain vigilant. 'Remembering is also a safeguard for the future,' he said. 'The abyss reached in the Nazi death camps started with hatred, prejudice and anti-Semitism. Recalling these origins can remind us to be ever on the lookout for warning signs. The United Nations was founded as a reaction to the horrors of the Second World War. Even so, the international community has too often failed to stand up to mass atrocities. Let us pledge ourselves to even greater efforts to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity.' [...]"

"We Want to Step Out of the Shoah Shadow, But We Run Into Obstacles"
By Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian, 26 January 2006
"[...] No matter how much time seeks to heal this wound, there are those determined to reopen it. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran may be too ignorant to realise what effect it has when he strives again and again to question the veracity of the death of 6 million Jews at the hands of the Nazis. He has, in the six short months since his election, variously called for Israel to be wiped off the map, branded the Holocaust a myth, suggested a Tehran conference for the world's Holocaust deniers and, most recently, told Europe to brace itself to take in millions of Jewish refugees from Israel. Coming from a man apparently bent on building a nuclear bomb, how does he expect all that to sound to Jewish ears, except like a warning of a terrible calamity to come, one with the most painful historical echoes? The rest of the world may look at Jews and see a well-established, secure community, and they may look at Israel and see an armed occupier and regional superpower. But when a man like Ahmadinejad starts talking, Jews and Israelis look in the mirror and see something very different: that famous image of a frightened child, his arms in the air, cowering from Nazi guns. It may sound like a form of collective madness, but remember: the gas chambers were in operation only 60 years ago. If the Jewish psyche is still wounded, that should hardly be a surprise. [...]"


"'Lemkin's House', About Genocide's Ability to Endure, Gets NYC Run"
By Robert Simonson
Playbill.com, 23 January 2006
"Lemkin's House, a play by Catherine Filloux about the man who coined the word 'genocide,' and his anguish over its toleration in the modern world, will be presented Off-Off-Broadway at the 78th Street Theatre Lab Feb. 3-26. Jean Randich directs a cast which includes John Daggett, Christopher Edwards, Laura Flanagan, Christopher McHale and Constance Winston. Lemkin was a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent. In 1933 he was appointed to a legal council of the League of Nations conference on international criminal law in Madrid. Lemkin, who lost many relatives in the Holocaust, wrote and spoke often about human barbarity and in 1944 published 'Axis Rule in Occupied Europe,' which included the definition of the new word 'genocide.' ('Genos' is Greek for family, tribe or race, and 'cide' is Latin for killing.) His concept was accepted by the world as an offense against international law and was one of the legal bases of the Nuremberg Trials. Lemkin continued to campaign for laws against genocide after the war. He achieved success in 1951 at the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Lemkin was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1951 and 1952, but did not win. He died in 1958. In Lemkin's House, the title character is tormented in the afterlife by the Rwandan and Bosnian genocides, and the international commununity's failure to stop them."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. Tickets for "Lemkin's House" are a very reasonable $15. Phone (212) 868-4444 or order through www.SmartTix.com. As an aside, I only read Playbill for the articles.]


"What 'Peace Epidemic'?"
By Fred Kaplan
Slate.com, 25 January 2006
"At the end of last year, the Human Security Centre, a research wing of the University of British Columbia, released a 158-page report concluding that, contrary to widespread perceptions, the world is more peaceful now than at any time in the past half-century. The end of the Cold War, it seems, brought on not an upsurge of chaos and bloodshed -- as many had expected -- but, instead, a dramatic decline. The Human Security Report 2005, as the study is called, is fascinating and important. But are its most startling conclusions valid? Are we indeed living through -- as Slate's Timothy Noah put it in a celebration of the report -- a 'peace epidemic'? ... The events of 2003-06 -- the war in Iraq and a possible civil war in the works, the slackening of dictatorship (but possibly the resurgence of ethnic conflict) in Lebanon and Ukraine, tensions rising with Iran, continued fighting in various hotspots of Africa -- seem more discouraging than hopeful. The best thing that can be said about these conflicts, whether raging or brewing, is they could go either way."