Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
February 16-23, 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 To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


"Africa's Forgotten Crises"
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian, 16 February 2006
"[...] Since the second intifada began in 2000 approximately 4,480 Palestinians and Israelis have died -- but that is equivalent to a long weekend in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where, the UN says, 1,200 people are dying every day from war-related causes. Since 1997, nearly 4 million have died, their passing relatively unremarked and unreported. Hurricane Katrina temporarily displaced tens of thousands in the southern US last summer amid worldwide media coverage. In Sudan, about 2 million civilians remain homeless three years after the Darfur conflict ignited. Almost unnoticed, their numbers rose by 30,000 in January due to renewed militia depredations. In Congo and Sudan the international community's efforts to do better gathered pace this week. But the vast scale of the countries' problems, coupled with doubts about the developed world's commitment to resolving them, does not encourage optimism, says Tom Cargill, of the Africa programme of the Royal Institute of International Affairs. 'The west can try to force the pace although in the end it's up to the people on the ground,' said Mr. Cargill. 'But there is often a lack of political will to make the difficult decisions.' [...]"


"Outcry: PBS Criticized for Panel with Coming Show on Armenian Deaths"
By Paul Farhi
The Washington Post (on, 19 February 2006
"Thousands of Armenian-Americans are protesting the Public Broadcasting Service's planned panel-discussion program about Turkey's role in the deaths of Armenians during and after World War I. The 25-minute program has generated an outcry because the panel will include two scholars who deny that 1.5 million Armenian civilians were killed in eastern Turkey from 1915 to 1920. The program is to air April 17, a week before the annual Armenian Remembrance Day commemoration, and will follow a one-hour documentary, The Armenian Genocide, which describes the events surrounding the deaths as well as denials of complicity by successive Turkish governments. Armenian-Americans have publicized an online petition that asks PBS to drop the discussion program. As of Wednesday night, more than 6,000 people had electronically added their names to the petition, making it one of the largest organized protests of a PBS program. 'We strongly feel that debating the Armenian Genocide is akin to arguing about the Jewish Holocaust in order to project a sense of balance,' the petition reads. 'Would PBS ever contemplate such a program?' Noting that the film already includes Turkish denials, the petition concludes that the panel discussion 'would serve to emphasize the Turkish state's official position and undermine the non-political nature of (PBS) programming.' [...]"


"Myanmar Campaign Vs. Rebels Seen Escalating"
By Denis D. Gray
Associated Press dispatch in, 22 February 2006
"Lu Khu Paw says soldiers shot her father as he gathered bamboo in the forest, laid waste to the rice fields and burned down their home three different times. The 16-year-old vividly remembers her village in flames, survivors fleeing and her mother dying of disease in a jungle hide-out. Nang Poung, a 33-year-old farmer, recounts how troops dragged 30 males, three of them relatives, to an execution ground and herded everyone else out of her village. What finally impelled her to escape from Myanmar just days ago, she says, was working as a conscripted laborer six days a week, and then having to hand over half the harvest, plus taxes, from family fields. Such stories are commonplace among refugees fleeing a decades-long campaign by Myanmar's ruling military to suppress rebellious ethnic minorities. Under the present junta, which has aborted an opposition election victory, gunned down demonstrators and kept opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest, the campaign against the rebels appears to be escalating in scope and ferocity. The violence has spawned an estimated one million internal refugees, many cowering in bleak hovels deep inside malarial jungles or on bitterly cold mountainsides. It has also sparked an accelerating exodus to neighboring countries, including more than 400,000 to Thailand, where thousands arrive each month, according to the Burma Border Consortium, the main refugee aid group. [...]"


"A Chilling Visit with Pol Pot's 'Brother'"
By Evan Osnos
The Chicago Tribune, 17 February 2006
"Brother No. 2 sees few visitors at his home in the jungle. He is old now, and something in his chest whistles when he laughs at the word 'genocide.' Nuon Chea is the most senior surviving leader of the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian utopian movement that swept to power in 1975 behind revolutionary Pol Pot, known as Brother No. 1, and led one of the 20th Century's most extreme and enigmatic frenzies of bloodletting. For years, the question of why it happened -- and how it might be prevented from happening again -- has met only silence or denials from the few who hold the answers. But the world is about to find out whether these secretive former leaders will unravel the mystery of why Cambodia killed nearly a quarter of its population. 'I acknowledge there was killing,' Nuon Chea said at his two-room wood house beside the heavily mined border with Thailand. 'But who controlled it?' ... Pol Pot died in 1998, never prosecuted, and Nuon Chea and others say they are ready to explain their actions. 'We must go to court to fight,' Nuon Chea said. 'I will go to make them understand what happened.' The mission is as much about the future as the past. Cambodian political-rights activists hope that calling Nuon Chea and others to account will mend the last open wound from the Khmer Rouge: an enduring culture of impunity and corruption that represses free speech and stifles Cambodia's redevelopment. Scholars and diplomats also hope the tribunal will show troubled countries such as Sudan and Iraq that neighbor-on-neighbor violence eventually will be exposed, no matter how old or opaque. [...]"

"UN Says Khmer Rouge Trials Must Come Soon"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on, 18 February 2006
"Former Khmer Rouge leaders must go to trial as soon as possible, the United Nations said, following the hospitalisation of the regime's former foreign minister. 'The leaders are aging ... that's why we have to start the process as soon as possible,' said Michelle Lee, the UN's lead administrator to a planned tribunal of former top cadres of the regime. Ieng Sary, who could be prosecuted for crimes committed during the communist regime's brutal rule over Cambodia, was hospitalised in Thailand with a serious heart condition, his son said Friday. 'He was sent to hospital four days ago. He is very serious, otherwise he would not be sent to the hospital,' Ieng Vuth told AFP from the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin in northwestern Cambodia. Ieng Sary, 76, is one of 10 former top Khmer Rouge cadres who could stand trial in a genocide tribunal expected to start later this year. He was a member of the inner circle of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, who is blamed for orchestrating one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. As many as two million people died from starvation, overwork or execution during the 1975-79 rule of the Khmer Rouge, who erased all vestiges of modern life in their drive for an agrarian utopia. So far only two former regime leaders are in jail awaiting trial, and observers worry that others -- including Pol Pot's number two Nuon Chea and former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan -- could die before the joint UN-Cambodian tribunal is convened. [...]"


"American: Haiti Leader Must 'Perform'"
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 19 February 2006
"Opponents of Haiti's president-elect could use the country's disputed election result to try and weaken his government 'if he doesn't perform,' the top American diplomat in Haiti said Saturday. Rene Preval was declared the winner Thursday after electoral authorities decided to divide 85,000 blank votes among the candidates to avoid a runoff. The move gave Preval the 51 percent of the vote he needed for outright victory, drawing angry complaints from his two nearest rivals, neither of who polled close to Preval's numbers in the Feb. 7 vote. Tim Carney, the acting U.S. ambassador in Haiti, said Preval clearly would have won the election but acknowledged the disputed outcome could hurt his government if he fails in office. 'If he doesn't perform, yes it could weaken him,' Carney said during an interview with The Associated Press at his residence. 'If he does perform, nobody will remember it.' [...]"
[n.b. "Perform! There's a good doggie. And remember who's boss."]


"Jewish Group: Try Ahmadinejad for Incitement to Genocide"
By Amiram Barkat, 19 February 2006
"The European Jewish Congress (EJC) is set to file a complaint in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for incitement to genocide, EJC president Pierre Besnainou told Haaretz. Besnainou, who was in Israel last week, said the complaint was an independent initiative of the EJC, but noted that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni had been informed of the intention to file the complaint. The initiative is expected to pass by a large majority in the general assembly of the EJC, which convenes Sunday in Vienna. The EJC is also promoting a resolution in the European Parliament in Strasbourg to declare Ahmadinejad persona non grata in the 25 European Union member-states. ... Experts in international law told Haaretz that a criminal complaint filed against Ahmadinejad had little chance of success in the ICC since Iran was not a signatory to its charter and therefore the court ostensibly does not have jurisdiction to try Ahmadinejad. However, the prominent French attorney Francis Piner, who is coordinating the case, told Haaretz 'the significance of the fact that Iran is not a signatory to the court's charter is only that this country will not actively cooperate with it. It does not have to prevent the filing of the complaint, since otherwise there would have been no point in establishing such a court.'"


"Destruction of Holiest Shia Shrine Brings Iraq to the Brink of Civil War"
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent, 23 February 2006
"Iraq took a lethal step closer to disintegration and civil war yesterday after a devastating attack on one of the country's holiest sites. The destruction of the golden-domed Shia shrine in Samarra sparked a round of bloody sectarian retaliation in which up to 60 Sunni mosques were attacked and scores of people were killed or injured. The bomb attack has enraged the majority Shia population, who regard the shrine in the same way that Roman Catholics view St Peter's in Rome. In a number of respects civil war in Iraq has already begun. Many of the thousand bodies a month arriving in the morgues in Baghdad are of people killed for sectarian reasons. It is no longer safe for members of the three main communities ­ the Sunni and Shia Arabs and the Kurds ­ to visit each other's parts of the country. 'Iraq is in a Weimar period like Germany in the 1920s which will either end with the country disintegrating or in an authoritarian government taking power,' said Ghassan Atiyyah, an Iraqi political commentator. ... As news spread of sectarian clashes and demonstrations people in Baghdad rushed home before dark and some started to stock up on food. In Najaf, another Shia holy city, protesters chanted: 'Rise up Shia! Take revenge!' [...]"


"Leading Anglican Hits Back in 'Anti-Israel' Row"
By Stephen Bates
The Guardian, 20 February 2006
"Anglican churchmen hit back yesterday in the increasingly ugly spat between the Church of England and the chief rabbi over the general synod's call for disinvestment in a company making bulldozers used to demolish Palestinian homes. They denied that their criticism of Israeli government policy was tantamount to anti-semitism. In today's Guardian Canon Paul Oestreicher, a leading member of the church's peace and reconciliation movement, who lost his Jewish grandmother in the Holocaust and was a refugee from Nazi Germany, says Jewish groups are engaging in moral blackmail in raising the issue of anti-semitism against critics of the Israeli government. He says: 'The main objective of my writing today is to nail the lie that to reject Zionism as it is practised today is in effect to be anti-semitic, to be an inheritor of Hitler's racism. That argument, with the Holocaust in the background, is nothing other than moral blackmail. It is highly effective. It condemns many to silence who fear to be thought anti-semitic. They are often the very opposite. They are often people whose heart bleeds at Israel's betrayal of its true heritage. When world Jewry defends Israeli policies right or wrong, then anger turns not only against Israel but against all Jews. I wish it was mere rhetoric to say that Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible.' [...]"

"Israel's Policies Are Feeding the Cancer of Anti-Semitism"
By Paul Oestreicher
The Guardian, 20 February 2006
"[...] The Israel characterised by the words of Golda Meir that 'there was no such thing as Palestinians ... they did not exist' is an Israel that is inevitably surrounded by enemies and that can only survive militarily and economically as a client state of the world's only superpower, for now. Nor can its nuclear monopoly in the Middle East last for ever. Peace cannot be made by building a wall on Palestinian land that makes the life of the miserably conquered more miserable still. A Palestinian bantustan will be a source of unrest and violence for ever. ... But the main objective of my writing today, is to nail the lie that to reject Zionism as it practised today is in effect to be anti-semitic, to be an inheritor of Hitler's racism. That argument, with the Holocaust in the background, is nothing other than moral blackmail. It is highly effective. It condemns many to silence who fear to be thought anti-semitic. They are often the very opposite. They are often people whose heart bleeds at Israel's betrayal of its true heritage. I began with the recognition that the cancer of anti-semitism has not been cured. Tragically, Israel's policies feed it -- and when world Jewry defends Israeli policies right or wrong, then anger turns not only against Israel, but against all Jews. I wish it were mere rhetoric to say that Israeli politics today make a holocaust the day after tomorrow credible. [...]"

"If Hamas Must Renounce Violence, So Should Israel"
By Linda McQuaig
The Toronto Star, 19 February 2006
"[...] Ottawa ... made clear last week that Canada would withdraw financial support [from the Palestinian Authority] -- unless Hamas renounced violence, recognized Israel and accepted previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements. At first glance, this seems reasonable. But why are these demands placed only on Palestinians? Shouldn't Israel also have to renounce violence? As the World Council of Churches recently argued: 'If violence is incompatible with democracy and with peace, it is incompatible for both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities.' As for recognizing Israel, Hamas has implicitly indicated a willingness do this -- if Israel ends its occupation. Hamas official Khaled Mishaal told a Russian journal last week that Hamas would halt its armed struggle if Israel withdrew from Palestinian land it has occupied since 1967. ... Israel continues to build settlements on Palestinian land and to construct a massive wall incorporating large chunks of Palestinian territory inside Israel. Aren't these aggressive actions part of the problem? If Palestinians are going to be required to renounce violence -- as they should be -- shouldn't Israel also be required to renounce violence, and to stop building settlements and walls on Palestinian territory? Rather than belittling others for allegedly failing to grasp our 'democratic concepts,' we could begin by showing we grasp these concepts ourselves."


"Israelis to Sue Ahmadinejad for Holocaust Denial"
DPA dispatch on, 22 February 2006
"A group of Israeli citizens is set to file a lawsuit in a German court against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of his series of remarks denying the Holocaust, the Israeli Yediot Ahronot daily reported Wednesday. The suit, brought by an Israeli lawyer and the Civil Coalition -- a human rights organization working both in Israel and abroad -- requests Ahmadinejad be tried for Holocaust denial, harming the memory of Holocaust victims, incitement to hatred, racism, and violation of United Nations conventions and resolutions. The suit was submitted to the Karlsruhe constitutional court. The plaintiffs decided to submit the suit in Germany because of its tough anti-Holocaust denial laws which ban the direct and indirect denial of the Holocaust and outlaw harming the memory of the dead. They have also hired the services of a German public relations firm in a bid to initiate a media campaign that would place the matter firmly on the agenda. Ahmadinejad provoked international outrage late last year when he said the Nazi genocide of European Jewry was 'a myth.' He had previously said Iran did not accept the claim made by 'some European countries' who 'insist on saying that Hitler killed millions of innocent Jews in furnaces.'"

"Irving Jailed for Denying Holocaust"
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, 21 February 2006
"David Irving, the discredited historian and Nazi apologist, was last night starting a three-year prison sentence in Vienna for denying the Holocaust and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. ... Austria has Europe's toughest law criminalising denial of the Holocaust. Irving went on trial for two speeches he delivered in the country almost 17 years ago. He was arrested in November last year after returning to Austria to deliver more speeches despite an arrest warrant against him and being barred from the country. In the two 1989 speeches he termed the Auschwitz gas chambers a 'fairytale' and insisted Adolf Hitler had protected the Jews of Europe. He referred to surviving death camp witnesses as 'psychiatric cases,' and asserted that there were no extermination camps in the Third Reich. State prosecutor Michael Klackl said: 'He's not a historian, he's a falsifier of history.' Arguments over freedom of speech were entirely misplaced, he added: 'This is about abuse of freedom of speech.' ... The judge repeatedly asked Irving if he still subscribed to the views articulated in the 1989 speeches. 'I made a mistake saying there were no gas chambers in Auschwitz,' he conceded. He claimed the Holocaust figure of six million murdered Jews was 'a symbolic number' and said his figures totalled 2.7 million. He said he was not sure how many died at Auschwitz, but he mentioned a figure of 300,000, a fraction of the accepted total. And he still believed Hitler protected the Jews and tried to put off the Final Solution -- the systematic killing of all European Jews -- at least until after the second world war. [...]"

"U.S.-German Flare-Up Over Vast Nazi Camp Archives"
By Roger Cohen
The New York Times, 20 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"Tempers are flaring over a United States demand to open to scholars and researchers a huge repository of information about the Holocaust contained in the files of the International Tracing Service at Bad Arolsen, Germany. Based in part on documents gathered by Allied forces as they liberated Nazi concentration camps, the stock of files held by the organization stretches for about 15.5 miles, and holds information on 17.5 million people. It amounts to one of the largest closed archives anywhere. The collection is unique in its intimate personal detailing of a catastrophe, which is what makes the question of open access so delicate. The papers may reveal who was treated for lice at which camp, what ghoulish medical experiment was conducted on which prisoner and why, who was accused by the Nazis of homosexuality or murder or incest or pedophilia, which Jews collaborated and how they were induced to do so. ... At meetings to discuss the opening of the archive, German officials have asked whether it is really in anyone's interest to have accusations about particular Jews being murderers or homosexuals made public. Because German privacy laws are much stricter than those in the United States, German authorities are concerned that an opening could lead to lawsuits charging that personal information was handed out illegally. Wide access to the papers could also provoke new claims for compensation. [...]"

"Trial Opens for Accused Holocaust Denier"
By William J. Kole
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 19 February 2006
"A right-wing British historian goes on trial Monday on charges of denying the Holocaust occurred -- a crime punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment in this country once run by the Nazis. The trial of David Irving opens amid fresh -- and fierce -- debate over freedom of expression in Europe, where the printing and reprinting of unflattering cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad has triggered violent protests worldwide. Irving, 67, has been in custody since his arrest in November on charges stemming from two speeches he gave in Austria in 1989 in which he was accused of denying the Nazis' extermination of 6 million Jews. An eight-member jury and a panel of three judges will hear the proceedings, which officials said could produce a verdict as early as Monday. Within two weeks of his arrest, Irving asserted through his lawyer that he now acknowledges the existence of Nazi-era gas chambers. The historian had tried to win release on bail, but a Vienna court refused, saying it considered him a flight risk. His lawyer, Elmar Kresbach, said last month the Third Reich historian was getting up to 300 pieces of fan mail a week from supporters around the world, and that while in detention he was writing his memoirs under the working title, 'Irving's War.' [...]"

"Holocaust Denial Brings Together Left and Right"
By Anna Morgan
The Toronto Star, 19 February 2006
"[...] In the most recent version of this twisted logic, the press reported last month that a letter was sent to the [Canadian] governor general's office by a small group expressing sincere concern over her decision to act as patron of the proposed Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg. Apparently, the problem is that the museum is the brainchild of the late Izzy Asper, and has been sponsored by the Asper family's charitable foundation. With this pedigree in mind, the complainers explained, the museum might well tend to focus disproportionate attention on -- you guessed it -- the Holocaust. Again, those attempting to teach about humanity's worst atrocities might have thought that they were conveying a lesson about evil in documenting the excesses of Nazi Germany. As it turns out, according to the complainers, the museum will apparently be perpetrating evil itself by putting Jews on a pedestal of elevated victimhood. Holocaust minimizers may claim they are trying to preserve our freedoms and foster equality among all of society's groups. But the fact is that the critique is a subtle form of the same vilification pursued by Ahmadinejad and Zundel. The Holocaust doesn't elevate the Jews except in the minds of those who are already tainted by prejudice. Canadians, from the governor general on down, must never be seduced by arguments which dress anti-Semitism up as its opposite. The Human Rights Museum, like human rights education, is essential to the ethos of contemporary Canada. Arguments which denigrate the Jews by twisting the lesson of the Holocaust only prove the need for the human rights lesson itself."

"Poland Will Not Let Iran 'Research' Holocaust", 17 February 2006
"Poland's Foreign Minister Stefan Meller on Friday ruled out allowing any Iranian researchers to examine the scale of the Holocaust committed by the German Nazis on Polish soil during World War Two. Meller's remarks came after repeated denials of the Jewish Holocaust by Iranian officials and their suggestions that more research is needed to establish the truth about what happened to European Jews. 'Under no circumstances we should allow something like that to take place in Poland,' Meller told Polish news agency PAP. 'It goes beyond all imaginable norms to question, even discuss or negotiate the issue.' Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported on Friday that Iran wants to send researchers to Poland to examine the scale of the Nazi crimes during the war. Some 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust, with an estimated 1.1 million killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a death camp set up in German-occupied Poland. Last week Iran's ambassador to Lisbon, who in the past served as a diplomat in Poland, said in an interview on Portuguese radio that according to his calculations based on a visit to the camp, now a museum, it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Mexican Officials Say Women's Deaths Not Result of Serial Killers"
Associated Press dispatch in the Plainview Daily Herald, 17 February 2006
"Mexican federal officials have concluded that the numerous slayings of women in the border city of Ciudad Juarez in the past decade were not the work of a serial killer, and that the city is not the most dangerous in Mexico in terms of women's homicides. The final report from the Mexican Attorney General's Office drew immediate criticism from women's advocates, one of whom called its conclusions 'shameful.' The report was released late Thursday, the same day the Attorney General's Office created a new national prosecutor for crimes against women throughout Mexico. About 380 women have been killed in Juarez since 1993. Nearly 100 of the homicides have similar characteristics -- mostly young victims who appear to have been sexually abused -- leading some to believe the deaths were the work of a serial killer. The cases generated an international outcry, prompting President Vicente Fox to appoint a special prosecutor's office in 2004 to investigate. Two separate prosecutors occupied the post at different times, but each eventually stepped down amid harsh criticism that they had done little to solve the crimes. The final report states that the 379 women who were killed in Juarez since 1993 lost their lives for diverse reasons ranging from sexual and intrafamily violence to revenge and robbery, but that their deaths were probably not the work of a serial killer. ... The report also concluded that Ciudad Juarez 'never occupied first place in the country in terms of the number of women violently killed,' Alvarez said. The report contends that 221 women were killed in Juarez from 1991 to 1999, while 603 were killed in the same period in the city of Toluca, in the central state of Mexico. [...]"


"Papers On Reparations to Be Finalised"
By Wezi Tjaronda, New Era (Windhoek) on
"The Ovaherero and Ovambanderu communities affected by the 1904 genocide are gearing themselves towards finalising their position papers, which will form the basis for reparations. A meeting to be held in Otjinene this weekend forms part of the consultative meetings the Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Council for Dialogue on 1904 Genocide Technical Committee has been holding with their communities on the issue. Only this time, they will finalise the framework for negotiations on the Compensatory Development Package earmarked for affected communities. The Otjinene meeting, the third to be held since the council was formed last year, will concretise the position papers as well as develop a proposal in preparation for possible negotiations for compensation. The war German colonial forces waged on Namibia resulted not only in the death of tens of thousands of Ovahereros, Namas and Damaras but also the loss of property and displacement. According to the committee, many Ovaherero and Ovambanderu have become displaced and settled elsewhere in South Africa and Botswana and have not wanted to come back home due to a lack of proper resettlement of the people that were affected by the war. The position paper will therefore guide the process of resolving the long-standing issue of reparations between the affected communities and the German government. After an apology, which was offered by German Minister of Economic cooperation, Heidemarie Wieckzoreck-Zeul at the Centenary Commemoration of the war at Okakarara in 2004, the affected communities have not yet been approached on how they need to be compensated. [...]"


"Ijaw Activists Accuse Obasanjo of Genocide"
By Hector Igbikiowubo
Vanguard (Lagos) on, 20 February 2006
"Ijaw human rights activists have accused the Federal Government administration of genocide against the Ijaws, and threatened to drag government before the United Nations for crimes against humanity. The rights activists also claim that more troops are being deployed in the creeks and villages in the Niger Delta, turning the area into an occupied territory, and forcing inhabitants to flee. Speaking with the Vanguard yesterday Chief Timi Iniabipi, a Niger Delta Rights Activist who called in from the United Kingdom decried the Federal Government's handling of the unfolding situation in the Niger Delta. He pointed out that a group was compiling a dossier on the 'senseless and indefensible' killings being carried out in the Niger Delta by the military and the police on the orders of the Federal Government. 'The list of atrocities has become endless. We will not rest until those who are behind these acts are brought to book. Even at the state level some rascals parading themselves as governors would have to account for crimes against humanity,' he said. Also speaking yesterday, Comrade Joseph Evah, National Coordinator of the Ijaw Monitoring Group said plans are underway to drag the Federal Government before the United Nations for crimes against humanity. 'Ijaw people would not accept a situation where Charles Taylor [of Liberia] is being hounded for crimes against humanity and President Obasanjo is allowed to get away with similar activities,' he said. [...]"


"In Rwanda, Suicides Haunt Search for Justice and Closure"
By Craig Timberg
The Washington Post, 17 February 2006 (on
"In the years after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Innocent Mulinda, 39, started a family, tended to his red-earth farm and won a local election for a government job. Rumors that he had participated in a murderous militia in this hillside town seemed behind him. But that changed with sudden vengeance last April, witnesses said, when a confessed militia member told a traditional, open-air court that Mulinda was not merely a fellow militiaman but a leader who carried an AK-47, manned roadblocks and exhorted others to kill. Hours after the testimony, when darkness had fallen across his neighborhood of mud-walled homes, Mulinda drank a bottle of pesticide. He would leave behind a wife, two young sons and oddly conflicted feelings among Rwandans longing for tidy justice with a full confession and a punishment befitting his crimes. Mulinda's agonizing death, which his wife said took more than two days, was among a rash of suicides and attempted suicides that Rwandan officials have recorded in the past year among genocide suspects as traditional courts have begun to hear cases. Between March and the end of December, 69 suspects killed themselves and 44 others tried to. Many others attempted or committed suicide, officials say, in the months before record-keeping began. It is not clear what motivated the suicides -- belated guilt, shame, fear of prison or fear of exposing friends who also participated in the 100-day ethnic slaughter, in which most of the 800,000 victims were hacked to death with machetes or beaten to death with clubs. And though survivors express little sympathy for participants who killed themselves more than a decade later, some say their hopes for closure -- a full public accounting of crimes and accomplices, as well as details about the victims' final hours -- have been dashed by the suicides. [...]"


"Serbian General Still 'At Large'"
Staff and agency reports in The Guardian, 23 February 2006
"The chief UN war crimes prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, said today that the Serbian General Ratko Mladic 'remains at large.' Ms. del Ponte said she had been assured by the Serbian government that it was not negotiating his surrender, as was widely reported last night. However, she repeated her long-held view that Gen Mladic, Europe's most-wanted war crimes suspect over his role in the 1992-1995 Bosnian war, was 'in reach' of Serbian authorities. She called on Belgrade to secure his immediate arrest. Last night a flurry of confusing and contradictory reports left it unclear as to the whereabouts and condition of the 63-year-old, who is wanted on charges of genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Serbian and Bosnian Serb media reported last night that Gen Mladic had been caught and taken to a US air base at Tuzla in north-eastern Bosnia to be flown to The Hague. But the Serbian government of the prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, vehemently denied the reports, describing them as manipulation, and suggested that political infighting was behind the leaking of information. There are growing signs, however, that the net is closing in on the general, with Belgrade under growing pressure to hand him over to the UN tribunal. [...]"

"Serbs Tire of Epic Milosevic Trial"
By Ana Uzelac
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 17 February 2006
"The trial of the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, which has entered its fifth year, is these days almost unnoticed by the people of Belgrade -- where he governed for more than a decade, presiding over the country involved in three brutal wars that changed the face of the region in the Nineties. ... Only a handful of highbrow, low-circulation Serbian print media offer balanced, analytical coverage of the trial -- often quite critical, too. Much louder are the high-circulation Belgrade tabloids that focus on the more histrionic aspects of the case -- the raucous testimonies, rare courtroom incidents and real or invented health-related issues. Opinions about the trial are now so fixed that an exchange of views on the subject is almost impossible. More often than not these views are hostile towards the case and the Hague court in general -- though not necessarily supportive of Milosevic. The views range from xenophobic conspiracy theories to a more widely held grudge that the inordinately long trial is an obstacle to the political recovery of the state. In fact, many here believe that its epic length and the constant TV coverage only strengthens the sense of collective humiliation, keeps alive the bitter debate about the war and fuels the nationalists. [...]"


"Sudan Rejects UN Troops for Darfur"
By Opheera McDoom, 22 February 2006
"Sudan rejects U.S.-backed efforts to have U.N. peacekeeping troops take over from African Union troops in the country's troubled Darfur region, Foreign Minister Lam Akol said on Wednesday. The United States has said genocide is continuing in Darfur with rape, looting and killing by Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, and has urged the African Union (AU) to accept a handover to U.N. peacekeepers. 'The government has rejected this ... We did not hear anybody saying they (the AU) are not doing enough to stop the violence. What we are hearing is that they're short of funds,' Akol told Reuters. Sudanese officials had previously shown a softer position toward the deployment of U.N. troops in Darfur, which the AU says it supports "in principle." The United Nations has already begun contingency planning for any takeover. Sudan has in the past taken a hard public stance, rejecting the deployment of any troops to Darfur. But they eventually reluctantly accepted the AU force. The AU has said the government has at times not cooperated with it, delaying for months the deployment of heavy equipment and placing troops under a night-time curfew in North Darfur. The government denies any obstruction. African foreign ministers will make a final decision in early March on any handover. In a statement issued on Wednesday the head of the AU mission in Sudan, Baba Gana Kingibe, said the transition was "inevitable" in the long run. [...]"

"On the Continuing Misery in Darfur"
By Emma Ellis, 19 February 2006
"The Holocaust. Rwanda. The Armenian genocide. These words evoke thoughts of ineffable death and suffering. After these tragedies, the world vowed 'never again.' Genocide is a problem of the past, right? But what about Darfur? Do you even know where it is? In Darfur people are being systematically eliminated. However, only a fraction of what could be done to help has been done. The general public is not demanding further action, but we are the very group that could make the difference. The time is long passed when we could say that just because it isn't happening to us it is not our problem. Genocide is the world's problem. ... People need to act against this outrage. As in every genocide before, the people in power don't act because there is no great public outcry, there is no easy solution, there are other problems to be solved, and everything seems distant and hopeless. Because of its distance, people think they aren't affected by it. They are wrong. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' [...]"

"Urgent Calls for More Troops to Darfur"
By Abraham McLaughlin
The Christian Science Monitor, 16 February 2006
"Amid new escalation in fighting in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, with rebels shooting down a government helicopter Tuesday, there's fresh pressure on the international community to step in to help stop the three-year-old conflict. It comes as consensus is hardening in Western capitals and at the United Nations that the 7,000 African troops now in Darfur, as part of a force supplied by the African Union, are inadequate. Because of limited training, equipment, and marching orders, the AU troops have been unable to contain the fighting, provide safety for civilians, or adequately protect humanitarian aid groups operating in the desert region, which is the size of Texas. The AU mission 'is costing a fortune and nothing's happening' except that the mission 'is going broke and will have no more supplies within a month or so,' says Richard Cornwell of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa. That means the international community, which is under significant political pressure to help in Darfur 'has to decide where it's going to put its money -- and how,' he says. This week, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan met with President Bush to push for US support on Darfur. Mr. Bush, who is under pressure from Christian conservatives to act, remained noncommittal. 'We did agree that we need a much more effective force on the ground' to replace AU troops, Mr. Annan said after the meeting, although he didn't mention specifics. [...]"

"Univ. Divests from Holdings in Sudan"
By Daniel Katz
Yale Daily News, 16 February 2006
"Yale will discontinue its current and future holdings in all known oil companies operating in Sudan as well as future investments in Sudanese government bonds following a unanimous Yale Corporation vote, University President Richard Levin announced Wednesday afternoon. The Investments Office has instructed its investment managers to refrain from acquisitions in seven target companies -- Bentini, Higleig, Hi-Tech Petroleum, Nam Fatt, Oil & Natural Gas Corporation, PetroChina and Sinopec. Levin said the University currently holds stock in one of the seven companies, a 'relatively minor' investment that may be worth several million dollars. The divestment decision follows the recommendation of the Corporation's Committee on Investor Responsibility and a final report by the Advisory Committee on Investor Responsibility in collaboration with the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School. Levin said guidelines for divestment from Sudan were devised after extensive consideration. 'This is based on very careful research,' Levin said. 'We think Yale is doing this in the most responsible possible way. I am delighted that the Corporation had the courage to stand up for its convictions.' [...]"

"Kristof Discusses Sudan Genocide"
By Jessica Marsden
Yale Daily News, 16 February 2006
"On the same day, the University announced its divestment from government bonds and oil companies in Sudan, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof discussed the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of the African country in a speech at Luce Hall. ... In the speech, Kristof criticized the U.S. government and international organizations for what he viewed as a failure to respond to the killing of more than 100,000 Sudanese. Kristof's remarks outlined the history of the Darfur conflict and the international response, which he characterized as inadequate. Janjaweed militias in Darfur, composed of Arab tribesmen who are protected by the Sudanese government, have been attacking African Sudanese villages since 2003, killing 'a few hundred thousand' people and sending hundreds of thousands more to refugee camps in Sudan and Chad, Kristof said. 'You go for mile after mile after mile, and you just see burned out villages, one after the other,' Kristof said. The militia target the wells in the country, either poisoning them or waiting near them to attack villagers who come to get water, Kristof said. Men are killed and women are raped, he said, so families have to send their small children to get water. ... In his speech, Kristof compared the Bush administration's failure to address the situation in Darfur to President Franklin Roosevelt's decision not to act to end the Holocaust and the Clinton administration's inaction during the Rwandan genocide. 'We have a long, bipartisan and consistent record on genocide, of inhumanity,' Kristof said. [...]"


"Will the Elections Help to Save Northern Uganda's Wretched?"
By Vukoni Lupa Lasaga
The Monitor (Kampala) on, 20 February 2006
"Six months ago, when the world was just catching onto the horrors and indignities that nearly two million of our compatriots in northern Uganda suffer daily in the cruelly misnamed 'protected villages,' Museveni's administration tried its best to downplay the true scale of their misery. Even after independent surveys and news reports turned the spotlight on the shocking number of deaths and the magnitude of the 20-year suffering of these Ugandans erased from the political balance sheet, their circumstances have barely changed. Just last week, a new report, released by a coalition of nongovernmental organisations, says that at least 131 residents of the death camps perish every week. 'There are 918 excess deaths each week,' the Civil Society Organisations for Peace in Northern Uganda (CSOPNU) said, according to IRIN (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks). 'Each month almost 25,000 people in Uganda die from easily preventable diseases.' ... The so-called protected villages are a national man-made tragedy that cries to be addressed immediately. But lately, debate over the Biblical proportions of the suffering there has degenerated into whether Olara Otunnu was right or wrong in claiming that genocide is being committed against the Acholi, who comprise most of the population in the 200-plus camps. [...]"


"At Least 98 Deaths in US Custody, Says Rights Group"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 February 2006
"At least 98 prisoners have died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, the Human Rights First organisation said on BBC television. At least 34 of the deaths were suspected or confirmed homicides -- deliberate or reckless killing -- Human Rights First said. Its dossier claims 11 more deaths are deemed suspicious and that between eight and 12 prisoners were tortured to death. The report alleges that one person was made to jump off a bridge into the Tigris river in Iraq and another was forced inside a sleeping bag and suffocated. The report's editor, Deborah Pearlstein, told the BBC's Newsnight: 'We're extremely comfortable with the veracity and the reliability of the facts here. These are documents based on army investigative reports, documents that we've obtained from the Government or that have come out through freedom of information.' The Pentagon responded by saying it had not yet seen the report, but 'where we find allegations of maltreatment we take them very seriously and prosecute.' The US ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, told the BBC thousands of prisoners had been held by the coalition and 'some have died of natural causes and there have been charges of abuse.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"U.S. Church Alliance Denounces Iraq War"
By Brian Murphy
Associated Press dispatch in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 18 February 2006
"A coalition of American churches sharply denounced the U.S.-led war in Iraq on Saturday ... 'We lament with special anguish the war in Iraq, launched in deception and violating global norms of justice and human rights,' said the statement from representatives of the 34 U.S. members of World Council of Churches. 'We mourn all who have died or been injured in this war. We acknowledge with shame abuses carried out in our name.' ... The World Council of Churches includes more than 350 mainstream Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox churches; the Roman Catholic Church is not a member. The U.S. groups in the WCC include the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist Church, several Orthodox churches and Baptist denominations, among others. The statement is part of widening religious pressure on the Bush administration, which still counts on the support of evangelical churches and other conservative denominations but is widely unpopular with liberal-minded Protestant congregations. ... 'Our country responded (to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks) by seeking to reclaim a privileged and secure place in the world, raining down terror on the truly vulnerable among our global neighbors ... entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the sake of national interests,' said the statement. 'Nations have been demonized and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous.' ... The churches said they had 'grown heavy with guilt' for not doing enough to speak out against the Iraq war and other issues. The statement asked forgiveness for a world that's 'grown weary from the violence, degradation and poverty our nation has sown.'"

"Tutu Calls for Guantanamo Closure"
BBC Online, 17 February 2006
"Archbishop Desmond Tutu has joined in the growing chorus of condemnation of America's Guantanamo Bay prison camp. He said the detention camp was a stain on the character of the United States as a superpower and a democracy. He also attacked Britain's 28-day detention period for terror suspects, calling it excessive and untenable. ... Speaking on the BBC's Today programme, Archbishop Tutu said he was alarmed that arguments used by the South African apartheid regime are now being used to justify anti-terror measures. 'It is disgraceful and one cannot find strong enough words to condemn what Britain and the United States and some of their allies have accepted,' he said. The respected clergyman said the rule of law had been 'subverted horrendously' and he described the muted public outcry -- particularly in America -- as 'saddening.' ... Under apartheid, as at Guantanamo, people were held for 'unconscionably long periods' and then released, he said. 'Are you able to restore to those people the time when their freedom was denied them? If you have evidence for goodness sake produce it in a court of law,' he said. 'People with power have an incredible capacity for wanting to be able to retain that power and don't like scrutiny.' [...]"

"New Pictures Reveal Extent of Abuse at Abu Ghraib Jail"
By Christopher Zinn and Patrick Cockburn
The Independent, 16 February 2006
"Damning new photographs and videos purporting to show the abuse and even murder of Iraqi prisoners at the infamous Abu Ghraib jail have been broadcast on Australian television and picked up by Arab channels. The images are likely to trigger outrage because they show more graphically than before the scenes of humiliation which took place at Abu Ghraib in late 2003. Iraqis will be watching them on television days after seeing film of British soldiers beating up young men in the city of Amarah in southern Iraq and amid continuing Muslim fury over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed. The 60 pictures appearing to show a man with a cut throat, another suffering from severe head injuries and a naked man hanging upside down from a bed were broadcast last night on the Dateline programme by the state-owned Special Broadcasting Service. SBS said in a statement: 'The extent of the abuse shown in the photos suggests that the torture and abuse that occurred at Abu Ghraib in 2004 is much worse than is currently understood.' [...]"
[n.b. Link to high-resolution versions of the images.]

"U.N.: Guantanamo Detainees Should Be Freed or Tried", 16 February 2006
"The U.S. government should release all suspected terrorists it's holding at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or try them, the United Nations said Thursday. Although the authors of the U.N. report declined to visit the military facility to gather information, they did base some of their conclusions on interviews with former detainees and attorneys. The United States has designated detainees as enemy combatants. The 54-page report also recommends closing the jail 'without further delay.' As of last October, about 520 people were being detained at Guantanamo, said the report from U.N. Commission on Human Rights, based in Geneva, Switzerland. It singled out 'all special interrogation techniques authorized by the Department of Defense,' urging they be revoked immediately. And it called for the U.S. government not to send detainees to countries where there are 'substantial grounds for believing' they might be tortured, a process called extraordinary rendition. Every detainee must be given the right to complain about his treatment and have any complaints dealt with 'promptly and, if requested, confidentially,' it said. And any allegations of 'torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment' must be investigated by an independent authority and those involved -- 'up to the highest level of military and political command' -- must be brought to justice, the report said. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the complete text of the report (in .pdf format).]


"Germany Weighs If It Played Role in Seizure by U.S."
By Don Van Natta, Jr.
The New York Times, 21 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"For more than a year, the German government has criticized the United States for its role in the abduction of a German man who was taken to an American prison in Kabul, Afghanistan, where he said he was held and tortured for five months after being mistaken for a terrorism suspect. German officials said they knew nothing about the man's abduction and have repeatedly pressed Washington for information about the case, which has set off outrage here. At a meeting in Berlin last December, Chancellor Angela Merkel demanded an explanation from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice over the incident. But on Monday in Neu-Ulm near Munich, the police and prosecutors opened an investigation into whether Germany served as a silent partner of the United States in the abduction of the man, Khaled el-Masri, a German citizen of Arab descent who was arrested Dec. 31, 2003, in Macedonia before being flown to the Kabul prison. The action came after a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at police headquarters in which Mr. Masri told the police that he was '90 percent' certain that a senior German police official was the interrogator who had visited him three times inside the prison in Kabul but had identified himself only as 'Sam.' The German prosecutors said Monday that they were also investigating whether the German Embassy in Skopje, Macedonia, had been notified about Mr. Masri's kidnapping within days of his capture there, but then had done nothing to try to help him. Mr. Masri's case has come to symbolize the C.I.A. practice known as extraordinary rendition, in which terror suspects are sent to be interrogated in other countries where torture is commonly used. [...]"

"US Military Planes Criss-Cross Europe Using Bogus Call Sign"
By Jon Swain and Brian Johnson-Thomas
The Sunday Times, 19 February 2006
"The American military have been operating flights across Europe using a call sign assigned to a civilian airline that they have no legal right to use. Not only is the call sign bogus -- according to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) -- so, it appears, are some of the aircraft details the Americans have filed with the air traffic control authorities. In at least one case, a plane identified with the CIA practice of 'extraordinary rendition' -- transporting terrorist suspects -- left a US air base just after the arrival of an aircraft using the bogus call sign. The call sign Juliet Golf Oscar (JGO) followed by a flight number belongs, says the ICAO, to a now bankrupt Canadian low-cost airline called Jetsgo of Montreal. But for several years and as recently as last December it has been used selectively by both the American air force and army to cover the flights of aircraft to and from the Balkans. These range from Learjet 35 executive jets to C-130 transport planes and MC-130P Combat Shadows, which are specially adapted for clandestine missions in politically sensitive or hostile territory. A Sunday Times analysis of flight plans and radio logs has placed these aircraft at locations including Tuzla in Bosnia, Pristina in Kosovo, Aviano, the site of a large joint US-Italian military air base in northern Italy, and Ramstein in Germany, the headquarters of the US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE). [...]"

"U.S. Ruling Dismisses Arar Lawsuit"
By Tim Harper
The Toronto Star, 17 February 2006
"A U.S. federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against the Bush administration brought by Ottawa engineer Maher Arar, essentially giving Washington the green light to continue its practice of sending terrorist suspects to third countries where they could be tortured. Brooklyn District Court Judge David Trager cited the need for national security and secrecy in making his decision, but also raised the possibility of Canadian complicity in the decision to send Arar, now 35, to Syria in 2002, where he was tortured for almost a year. 'The need for much secrecy can hardly be doubted,' Trager wrote in an 88-page judgment. 'One need not have much imagination to contemplate the negative effect on our relations with Canada if discovery were to proceed in this case and were it to turn out that certain high Canadian officials had, despite public denials, acquiesced in Arar's removal to Syria.' ... The Syrian-born Canadian engineer was detained as a suspected terrorist during a stopover in New York as he returned from a vacation in September 2002. After being held virtually incommunicado by U.S. officials, he was sent to Syria, where he said he was tortured and held in a tiny cell he likened to a 'grave' for nearly a year. He was never charged before Syria returned him to Canada. ... The U.S. government asserted the 'state secrets' privilege, arguing the lawsuit must be dismissed because allowing it to proceed would necessarily involve the disclosure of sensitive information that would threaten national security or diplomatic relations if made public. A justice official said the ruling pleased the government."


"Bosnian Serb Suspect Extradited"

BBC Online, 20 February 2006
"A Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect arrested in Argentina last year is on his way to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, officials say. Milan Lukic had been on the run for more than five years, when he was arrested in Buenos Aires last August. He was indicted by the UN's war crimes tribunal for crimes said to have been carried out during the Bosnian war. Lukic is also wanted in Serbia, where he was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for war crimes. In the indictment from the tribunal at The Hague, Lukic is accused of forming a paramilitary group in 1992 which worked with local police and military units to exact a 'reign of terror' against Bosnian Muslims in the Bosnian city of Visegrad. The indictment documents two cases in which Lukic barricaded people in buildings before setting fire to them, killing at least 140 people. In 2003, a court in Belgrade found Lukic and three other men guilty of torturing and murdering 16 Muslim civilians whom they abducted from a bus travelling from Serbia to Bosnia in 1992. Serbian officials say Lukic headed a paramilitary group believed to be responsible for abducting, torturing and killing the victims -- all nationals from the republics that constituted the former Yugoslavia -- before throwing them into a river. [...]"


"'Millions More Starving' by 2015"
By Ania Lichtarowicz
BBC Online, 17 February 2006
"The world will have 100 million extra hungry people by 2015, scientists say. They were speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Despite great improvements in food availability in the 1960s and 1970s, these trends are reversing in many developing countries, they say. The United Nations' goal of halving hunger by 2015 looks unattainable without new technologies and greater financial investment, they add. Ten pre-school children die every minute from malnutrition and this number has not changed since the early 1980s despite global promises. Professor Per Pinstrup-Anderson, from Cornell University in New York, says that improving agriculture is the key. 'When you put money in the hands of farmers that money is spent on creating employment and reducing poverty elsewhere,' he said. 'We have found in our research that for every dollar you invest in agricultural research you generate about $6 of additional income among the farmers and about $15 of additional economic growth in the society as a whole. Much of that will help poor people in those countries.' [...]"

"37 Million Poor Hidden in the Land of Plenty"
By Paul Harris
The Observer, 19 February 2006
"[...] A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population -- the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown. Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages. Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck -- a medical bill or factory closure -- away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 (£2.95) an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956. The gap between the haves and the have-nots looms wider than ever. Faced with rising poverty rates, Bush's trillion-dollar federal budget recently raised massive amounts of defence spending for the war in Iraq and slashed billions from welfare programmes. ... The economy does not seem to be allowing people to make a decent living. It condemns the poor to stay put, fighting against seemingly impossible odds or to pull up sticks and try somewhere else. [...]"

"Mission Impossible"
The Economist, 18 February 2006
"[...] Thanks largely to the ever-expanding oil windfall and a huge increase in public spending, the economy recovered strongly from the strike, growing 18% in 2004 and almost 10% last year. Given such growth, it would be remarkable if poverty had not fallen. And indeed it seems to have done. According to an estimate by the national statistics office, in 2005 poverty at last fell below its level of 1998. Some social scientists distrust the figures. But they may be accurate. 'There was a 43% rise in income for social class E [the poorest] in 2005, and 18% for class C,' says Luis Vicente León, of Datanálisis, a polling firm. Since Mr Chávez came to power, class E 'has practically doubled its consumption,' adds Armando Barrios, an economist at IESA, a business school. Unemployment has fallen from around 20% in 2003 to around 10% today. The bad news is that the new jobs may not prove permanent. They are either in a hugely expanded public payroll, or involve the use of idle capacity in the private sector. Mr Chávez's fiery, anti-capitalist language, together with attacks on private property—including the seizure of large farms—has sharply cut private investment. If and when the oil price falls, public spending will be squeezed again. [...]"
[n.b. In response to this article, I wrote the following Letter to the Editor: "Sir -- It must be said that when it comes to appraising the social experiment of the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chávez, The Economist never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Your February 18 article, misleadingly titled 'Mission impossible,' instead attests to what is possible when a government orients its policies and spending towards the needs of the poor. According to statistics that you cite and do not discount, the poorest Venezuelans experienced a 43% increase in income in a single year (2005); their consumption has nearly doubled since Mr. Chávez took power, and unemployment has fallen by 50% since 2003. Is there any other country in the world, developed or underdeveloped, oil-endowed or not, that comes close to matching these accomplishments? Yet the general tone of the article is cynical. You refer to the Venezuelan state as a 'hollow shell,' and deride Mr. Chávez's 'fiery, anti-capitalist language.' My response: if anti-capitalist language correlates with such mind-boggling results, let us have more of it."]


"Minister Offers £6m to Behead Cartoonist"
By Dean Nelson
The Sunday Times, 19 February 2006
"A minister in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh has offered a £6m reward to anyone who beheads one of the Danish cartoonists who outraged Muslims by depicting the prophet Muhammad. Yaqoob Qureshi, minister of minority welfare, said the killer would also receive his weight in gold. He made the offer during a rally in his constituency in Meerut, northeast of Delhi. Protesters then burnt an effigy of a cartoonist and some Danish flags. A Pakistani cleric has also offered a $1m reward -- and a car -- as a 'prize' to anyone who kills one of the cartoonists. Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi made his announcement after Friday prayers in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. The rewards were offered as it emerged that 11 people had been killed in riots outside the Italian consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi in protests linked to the controversy over the cartoons. The protesters were said to have been angered by reports that Roberto Calderoli, an Italian minister, had appeared in public in a T-shirt with one of the images on it. Calderoli, the reforms minister, resigned yesterday 'to stop the shameful exploitation directed against me.' [...]"

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
February 9-15, 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 To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


"Tibet Envoys 'in China for Talks'"
BBC Online, 15 February 2006
"Envoys of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama are in China for talks on allowing the region some form of autonomy, his office has said. The meeting with Chinese officials is the fifth since contacts resumed in 2002. Discussions are conducted behind closed doors and details rarely emerge. Correspondents say there have been no tangible results from talks so far. The Dalai Lama -- who is based in northern India -- says he wants only autonomy, not independence, for Tibet. China has refused to comment on the talks. But analysts say Beijing wants dialogue, partly because it fears the death of the 70-year-old spiritual leader in exile could create a rallying point for Tibetans unhappy with Chinese rule. ... Thubten Samphel, spokesman for the government-in-exile, told Reuters news agency the previous round of talks, in Switzerland in 2005, which he described as 'very intensive' and 'frank,' had given Tibetans hope. 'Our ultimate hope is to resolve the issue of Tibet on the basis of negotiated settlement with the Chinese leadership so that Tibet's people will have the freedom to preserve what is important to us, which is our cultural identity,' he said."


"UN Calls for £400m to End Congo's 'Forgotten Crisis'"
By Simon Usborne
The Independent, 13 February 2006
"Britain will pledge £60m in humanitarian aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) today in response to an appeal by the United Nations for £400m to end the 'forgotten crisis' in the central African country before it holds elections. With 216,000 lives lost to conflict and poverty in the past six months, Hilary Benn, the International Development Secretary, said the money was crucial to alleviate hunger and disease, and for long-term development in the country where fighting continues in the north and east despite a peace deal. A UN donors' conference in Brussels today will call for international donors to provide $681m (£400m) for an 'action plan' for the DRC, three times the size of the UN appeal for the DRC in preceding years. More than 1,000 people a day die from violence in the country and since 1998 four million people have fallen victim to conflict, hunger and disease. Last year about 40,000 people a month were forced to flee their homes, most of them women and children. The UN also wants the European Union to provide troops to reinforce the embattled UN peacekeeping force of 16,000 men based in eastern Congo. [...]"

"Thousands of Child 'Witches' Turned On to the Streets to Starve"
By Richard Dowden
The Observer, 12 February 2006
"[...] As Congolese society has disintegrated, undermined by the country's rulers and ravaged by Aids and poverty, the family has collapsed. Children have been the main victims, often accused of witchcraft when families suffer misfortunes. 'Thirty years ago this did not exist,' says Remy Mafu, the director of the Rejeer project for street children. 'Now it's a huge problem and difficult to know how to deal with it.' He estimates there are between 25,000 and 50,000 children on the streets of Kinshasa, a city of seven million. Many -- if not most -- have been accused of witchcraft and rejected by their families. The roots lie in a distorted development of African culture. 'In African culture, when something goes wrong, we ask the spirits to find the human cause,' Mafu explains. 'These days children are accused. They can be persuaded to accept it's their fault. They tell themselves "it is me, I am evil".' Then there are the new fundamentalist Christian sects, of which there are thousands in Kinshasa. They make money out of identifying 'witches' and increasingly parents bring troublesome children to the pastors. Children who do well in school can also be accused of witchcraft. The common charge is they have been seen flying or eating human flesh. Their confessions of killing and eating relatives are broadcast live on TV channels owned by evangelical churches. What once seemed aberrations from extremist sects now seem to be becoming commonplace."


"Timor's Truth Time Bomb"
By Lindsay Murdoch
The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 February 2006
"[...] The commission's 2500-page report, in which Ana Lemos is referred to by the code ZE, stands to become the historic record of East Timor's bloody struggle for statehood. But East Timorese still don't know what it says because Gusmao, apparently worried about upsetting the tiny nation's precarious relations with Indonesia, has not yet allowed it to be released, even though he received it on October 31 last year. Its findings, many of which Indonesia refutes, include that 18,600 non-combatant East Timorese were killed or disappeared and at least 84,000 more died as a direct result of displacement policies during Jakarta's brutal 24-year rule over the former Portuguese colony. It contains exhaustive evidence of widespread and systematic rape and torture by the Indonesian military that was documented during more than three years of hearings where the testimonies of thousands of witnesses and victims were documented. ... Joao Goncalves, vice-president of East Timor's opposition Social Democratic Party, warns the country cannot have reconciliation with Indonesia 'unless it is combined with justice for the victims.' 'My party strongly believes that those people who have committed crimes of genocide have got to be brought to justice,' he says. 'And we believe it is also in Indonesia's best interests to see that the perpetrators are dealt with.' ... Gusmao, a revered former guerilla leader, said he respects the church's stand but insists as head of state 'let us not waste time in kneeling ourselves before the wailing wall. ... We must respect the courage of the Indonesians in accepting our independence and not disrupt their progress towards democratisation by demanding formal justice,' he was quoted recently as saying. [...]"


"Dresden: Do Germans Have a Right to Mourn Their War Dead?"
By Carly Berwick, 13 February 2006
"[...] While the neo-Nazis grab tightly to the idea of their (or their parents') suffering during the war, the antifascists worry that, in fact, many Germans can identify with the trauma of the war. It is understandable to remember the terror of being bombed and to mourn relatives who died, but to transform that identification into a fervent national identity and political platform based on exclusion brings to mind the problems of the Weimar era -- and points to the problems with any political agenda dependent on the idea of loss. When a sense of group suffering wends its way into political arena, it can lead to a special kind of frustrated identity politics. The lesson of Dresden today is that, like collective guilt, the concept of collective suffering twists personal experience into utilitarian political aims: Demagoguery depends on it. [...]"


"Massacre Survivors Paid After 24 Years"
Reuters dispatch in, 10 February 2006
"A kind of justice came to survivors of a massacre in Latin America's bloodiest 20th-century war when Guatemala began compensating villagers this week for killings 24 years ago. Residents of the remote mountain hamlet of Plan de Sanchez said the first government payments had begun showing up in bank accounts from a landmark ... compensation package for the army-led slaughter of more than 200 people, mostly Mayan women and children. On July 18, 1982, soldiers and allied militias on anti-insurgency duties overran the hamlet, then raped and tortured villagers, herded them into a building and blew it up with hand grenades. It was one of the most infamous massacres by the army in a fight against leftist rebels. More than 200,000 people died in Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996. No one has been prosecuted for the Plan de Sanchez massacre and few have faced justice for other rights abuses during the war. In a ruling last year, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Costa Rica awarded 317 family members close to $US 24,000 each to be paid by the Guatemalan government. It was the first award of its kind by the court. 'In Guatemala, the attitude of the politicians was to deny the undeniable, excuse the inexcusable,' said Frank La Rue, the presidential human rights secretary and former head of the rights organisation that originally brought the case. 'The attitude of the court was completely the opposite. We had to recognize the international responsibility of the state and ask for forgiveness from the victims.' [...]"


"Man Held over British Troops 'Abuse' Video"
The Guardian, 13 February 2006
"[...] The Iraqi government today expressed its 'deepest concern' over a video that apparently showed British troops attacking defenceless teenagers in Basra. A spokesman for the prime minister, Ibrahim Jaafari, urged Tony Blair to bring those 'responsible to justice immediately' after footage showing the brutal beating by at least eight soldiers was shown across the Arab world. ... The video, taken in early 2004 and obtained by the News of the World, apparently was filmed from a rooftop for fun by a corporal who is heard laughing and urging on his colleagues. It shows the troops repeatedly kicking and punching civilians with batons after seizing them following riots two years ago in the Basra region in which British forces were attacked. The cameraman is heard laughing and saying: 'Oh yes! Oh yes! You're gonna get it. Yes, naughty little boys. You little fuckers, you little fuckers. Die. Ha Ha.' Soldiers are shown beating the Iraqis, with one apparently kicking a young man in the genitals as he lay on the ground. A young Iraqi is apparently head-butted by a helmeted soldier and hit in the kidneys. The Iraqi cries: 'No, please,' as the commentator says in a mocking, childlike, voice: 'No, please, don't hurt me.' The video also apparently shows an Iraqi corpse being kicked, and, as the man's head is held up to the camera, a soldier sniggers: 'He's been a bad motherfucker.' [...]"

"Neighborhood Peace A Casualty of War"
By Jonathan Finer
The Washington Post, 11 February 2006 (on
"To generations of its residents, the tightknit neighborhood known as Tobji was among this city's rare oases. ... But in volatile Baghdad, home to more than 5 million people, even stable sections sit a few stray shots from chaos. It took scarcely two months for the sectarian conflict consuming other corners of the capital to gain a foothold in Tobji. It began, residents say, one November day when gunmen killed Majid Abdul Hussein, a local preacher and member of a powerful Shiite militia. Days later, a former member of Saddam Hussein's Sunni-led Baath Party was gunned down in broad daylight. Before locals realized it, they said, theirs had become yet another fractured community, a place nearly silent after dark save for the crackle of gunfire. Then, on Jan. 23, men in camouflage uniforms rounded up 53 Tobji residents, nearly all of them Sunnis, in pre-dawn raids. Two people were killed. Other than two old men who were released days later, none of those taken have been heard from since. Locals said the uniforms the gunmen wore and the vehicles they drove identified them as Interior Ministry police commandos, whose ranks are dominated by former members of Shiite factional militias. [...]"


"Architects Threaten to Boycott Israel Over 'Apartheid' Barrier"
By Oliver Duff, Rob Sharp and Eric Silver
The Independent, 10 February 2006
"A group including some of Britain's most prominent architects is considering calling for an economic boycott of Israel's construction industry in protest at the building of Israeli settlements and the separation barrier in the Occupied Territories. Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine, whose members include Richard Rogers and the architectural critic Charles Jenckes, met for the first time last week in secret at the London headquarters of Lord Rogers' practice. He introduced the meeting, and the 60 attendees went on to condemn the illegal annexation of Palestinian land and the construction of the vast fence and concrete separation barrier running through the West Bank and Jerusalem. The group said that architects, planners and engineers working on Israeli projects in the occupied territories were 'complicit in social, political and economic oppression,' and 'in violation of their professional code of ethics.' It said that: 'Planning, architecture and other construction disciplines are being used to promote an apartheid system of environmental control.' [...]"

"Archbishop Apologises to Chief Rabbi over Israel Snub"
By Ruth Gledhill
The Times, 11 February 2006
"The Archbishop of Canterbury has written to the Chief Rabbi regretting as 'unfortunate' the Church of England’s decision to review its investments in Israel. In his carefully crafted letter, Dr Rowan Williams, who voted in favour of the motion, denies that it represented a decision to disinvest at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise and a Hamas administration committed to the destruction of Israel is preparing for power. The General Synod is facing wide criticism from senior church leaders, including the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton, for voting to disinvest from Caterpillar, the US company that manufactures the tractors used in land clearance in the Occupied Territories. The Council of Christians and Jews also condemned the motion as 'wholly regrettable.' However, Dr Williams defends the synod as merely urging the Church of England 'to engage with companies about whom we had concerns and, specifically, to encourage a fact-finding visit to the Holy Land.' [...]"

"Church of England Votes to Divest from Israel"
By Will Youmans, 9 February 2006
"On Monday, February 6th, the Anglican Church of England voted to end financial investments in companies supporting Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. The General Synod, a policy-making assembly, overwhelmingly backed the call by the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem to divest from 'companies profiting from the illegal occupation ... until they change their policies.' One of the companies identified as a target includes Caterpillar Inc., the American manufacturer that produces the bulldozers Israel uses to build the West Bank separation wall. Israel also uses them to demolish Palestinian homes -- since 1967, Israel has demolished 12,000 Palestinian homes, leaving 70,000 homeless. The Anglicans invest about 2.5 million pounds in Caterpillar. The move to divest follows months of negotiations with the company about Israel's use of their equipment. The decision was well-received by many, opposed by others, and follows a church tradition of economic activism on this issue. ... The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, stated that this vote 'sends a clear message to Caterpillar that profiting from human rights violations is not compatible with socially responsible business practice.' ... The American-based Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) commended the move. Their statement suggested that divestment 'stands in the best tradition of nonviolent efforts for change.' JVP supports divestment since 'governments have failed to end the occupation.' They contend that non-governmental groups such as faith-based institutions, unions, companies and individual citizens have to 'take the lead in seeking justice.' Pro-Israeli groups protested immediately. The Anti-Defamation League called it a 'moral outrage.' [...]"
[n.b. Lest there be any doubt about my own stand, I support these boycott initiatives, and have signed the "Declaration Regarding Caterpillar Violations of Human Rights". These are critical days. Israeli Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has stated his intention to turn the West Bank wall into a permanent border, thereby encircling and imprisoning the Palestinian population in perpetuity, under conditions that amount to a crime against humanity. Economic boycotts may offer the best opportunity to bring about full Israeli evacuation of the Occupied Territories, including all "settlement" blocs, in accordance with longstanding UN Security Council resolutions and core precepts of international law.]


"Iran: Israeli Crimes Outstrip Holocaust"
Reuters dispatch on, 12 February 2006
"Iran has said Israel's treatment of the Palestinians constituted a greater crime than the Nazi Holocaust. The statement from the Iranian foreign ministry on Sunday was the latest in a series of remarks from Tehran suggesting that the genocide was exaggerated to boost Israeli interests. Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman, told a news conference: 'I believe the crimes committed by the Zionist regime are greater than the Holocaust. Unfortunately, the Zionist regime is blackmailing the Europeans with the Holocaust.' Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, has labelled the Holocaust a myth and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, comments that drew almost universal international condemnation. He has called for an academic conference on the Holocaust which he thinks will prove that the number of deaths was exaggerated. Western leaders have criticised the proposal as distasteful. Iran's press and officials have rounded on the West for what they see as hypocrisy, arguing that satirical cartoons of Prophet Muhammad are allowed but that frank discussion of the historical details of the Holocaust are not. The United Nations Security Council rebuked Iran for casting doubt on the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies between 1933 and 1945."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Islam's Holocaust Denial Trap"
By John Bunzl, 10 February 2006
"[...] Another context derives from the concept of Israel being the state of the Jewish people and being the ultimate response to the Holocaust, and the idea of Israel often using this tragedy to justify its actions and to silence its critics. Israeli Holocaust exploitation is apparently a source for the misconception that recognizing the Holocaust equals supporting Zionism. This misconception is facilitated by the fact that objective scholarly research on the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany and its collaborators has not been conducted in the Arab/Muslim world, that translations of the best studies on this period are not available and that cultural productions do not deal seriously with the issue -- all guided by the misleading notion that such activity would play into the hands of the Zionist enemy. It was the late Edward Said who thought differently. He argued convincingly that recognizing the Holocaust for what it was (a genocide of the Jewish people) would increase the moral validity and legitimacy to demand recognition of the (very different) Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe of 1948), and that such recognition would make it easier to understand some features of Israeli society that genuinely reflect consequences of trauma and cannot be reduced to effects of political instrumentalization. A closer look at these consequences will reveal the fact that Holocaust awareness within Jewish society does not inevitably lead to anti-Palestinian (anti-Arab or anti-Muslim) conclusions, but can -- to the contrary -- be invoked to support humanist and universalist approaches. Whatever Arab, Muslim or other 'Revisionists' say, the trauma of Nazi atrocities is still with us -- and denial will not make it go away."

"This Is Not About Freedom of Speech"
Na'eem Jeenah, Charles Amjad-Ali and Salim Vally
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 10 February 2006
"That the real issue surrounding the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad is hate speech and incitement to violence, rather than freedom of expression, is clear when the intent behind their publication is understood. ... The notion of 'the enemy within' was used in Nazi Germany to demonise Jews and it became part of the propaganda arsenal that supported the Holocaust. And cartoons too were a weapon used to demonise Jews, just as the radio was used in Rwanda to demonise Tutsis and to assist in that genocide. ... Since Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in many European countries, should Islamophobia and the assault on Muslim religious symbols not also be regulated? [The Danish newspaper] Jyllands-Posten refused to publish caricatures of Jesus in 2003 because they would 'offend' its readers [n.b. and has also refused to publish cartoons mocking the Holocaust -- see below]. Why then is its invitation to caricature Muhammad protected by free speech provisions? In the current debate, the greater immaturity is not by the Muslim protestors but by those Westerners who refuse to see the bigotry, prejudice and Islamophobia and, in doing nothing, encourage hatred and violence. Within the context of a Europe with escalating Islamophobia and racism, the responsibility is on us all -- Muslims and non-Muslims, atheists, secularists and believers -- to speak out. [...]"
[n.b. The authors are described as "president of the Muslim Youth Movement ... a Christian theologian and ... the former chairperson of the Freedom of Expression Institute."]

"Danish Paper U-Turns on Holocaust Cartoons"
By Gwladys Fouché
The Guardian, 9 February 2006
"Jyllands-Posten, the Danish daily that published the controversial Muhammad drawings, has made a dramatic U-turn on comments an executive made about using Holocaust caricatures. The paper said it would under no circumstances publish the Holocaust cartoons that an Iranian newspaper, Hamshari, is planning to commission. This U-turn comes after Jyllands-Posten's culture editor, Flemming Rose, yesterday told CNN that his paper was trying to get in touch with an Iranian paper with a view to running the Holocaust cartoons. Today, Jyllands-Posten said: 'This information is based on an over-interpretation of a statement made by culture editor Flemming Rose. Jyllands-Posten in no circumstances will publish Holocaust cartoons from an Iranian newspaper,' the paper said, in a statement posted on its website. Mr. Rose was quoted yesterday by CNN as saying: 'My newspaper is trying to establish a contact with the Iranian newspaper, and we would run the cartoons the same day as they publish them.' [...]"


"Charges of Brutal Hazing Put Russian Military on Defensive"
By Kim Murphy
The Los Angeles Times, 10 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] The Russian army is legendary for being almost as dangerous in peacetime as it is in war. Last year, 16 soldiers were officially listed as killed in brutal hazing incidents, and 276 others committed suicide. But many believe those figures are misleading. A number of the 1,064 servicemen who died in various 'crimes and incidents' were also victims of abuse, and many cases listed as suicides are faked to disguise fatal beatings, or occur because soldiers can no longer endure the torment, say military analysts and human rights organizations. The small, two-room office of the Soldiers' Mothers Committee in Chelyabinsk is lined with files, most of them reports of violence committed against conscripts serving their two years of mandatory military service. 'Do you see those walls over there? They're filled with complaints. And it's one-millionth of what's going on,' Lyudmila Zinchenko said. Nearly every army in the world has initiation rites and means of informal discipline, some of it violent. In Russia it has evolved into an entrenched system known as dedovshchina, or the 'rule of the grandfathers,' in which senior soldiers force new recruits to conduct menial chores, give up their food, money and cigarettes and undergo sleep deprivation and humiliating rituals. The punishment is beatings or, in a few cases, sexual abuse. So miserable has conscript service become that last year only 9.2% of the 1.7 million 18-year-olds subject to the draft were actually inducted. Families with money or connections won exemptions through educational, health or family waivers. Human Rights Watch in 2004 concluded that 'hundreds of thousands' of new recruits faced 'grossly abusive treatment' that killed dozens every year. [...]"


"Rwanda Genocide Court Frees Pair"
BBC Online, 8 February 2006
"A UN-backed tribunal has confirmed the acquittal of two senior Rwandan officials charged with genocide. The two men were found not guilty two years ago due to lack of evidence but prosecutors appealed the verdict, saying the court had made errors. Ex-transport minister Andre Ntagerura and ex-governor of Cyangugu province Emmanuel Bagambiki were accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. Mr Ntagerura is the first former minister to be acquitted by the court. Italian judge Fausto Pocar of the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda rejected the prosecution's call for a new trial. In February 2004 the court found that the prosecution had failed to prove that the two men had actively participated in the genocide in Cyangugu, in the south-west. More than 800,000 people, mostly minority Tutsis, were killed in a 100-day wave of ethnic violence that swept through Rwanda in 1994. The Tanzania-based ICTR has convicted more than 20 people and acquitted three since it was established in 1994. More cases are awaiting trial."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Darfur Refugee Shocked by World's Indifference to Genocide in His Homeland"
By Sally Kalson
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 15 February 2006
"A refugee from the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, who entered the United States illegally and spent five months in Pennsylvania jails, is free on bond in Pittsburgh now, seeking political asylum in hopes of bearing witness to the genocide at home. ... According to Mr. Mersal, the janjaweed arrived in his village one morning in August 2003, close on the heels of an air strike by Sudanese government forces. They sacked his village, raped the women and killed many of the men, including his father and brother, whose bodies he saw lying on the ground. At the behest of his mother, he took the family's only valuable possession -- its cattle, or what was left of it -- and walked for two days to cross the border into Chad, leaving behind his 16 surviving brothers and sisters. For the next two years, he lived off the sale of the cattle and sought word of his family. But he never succeeded in locating anyone or even finding out if they were alive. After two years, he decided to come to America and tell the story of his people's destruction. [...]"

"Children of Darfur Reveal Their Pain with Pictures of Rape and Murder"
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent, 13 February 2006
"The images are of murder and rape, burning villages, helicopter gunships and terrified, fleeing refugees. They have been drawn by children, some as young as eight, who are victims of a wave of bloody ethnic cleansing in Darfur. ... The children's drawings of the terrible events were collected in refugee camps in Darfur and Chad by Annie Sparrow, a gynaecologist who has been working among victims of sexual violence, a recurrent theme accompanying the murders and mutilations. ... Dr Sparrow is compiling a book, World's Smallest Witnesses, with Brian Steidle, a former US Marines officer who worked as an international observer with the African Union force before leaving in protest at what he considers its failure to protect the population. As well as images of violence, some drawings feature a wistful hope of a better life. ..."

"Mr. Bush and Genocide"
The Washington Post (Editorial), 12 January 2006
"For the past 18 months, the Bush administration and its allies have clung to the fiction that they could stop the genocide in the Sudanese territory of Darfur by sending in African Union forces. On Thursday United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan spoke the truth about these troops: 'They didn't have the large numbers that would have been required for a region the size of Darfur. They didn't have logistical support. They didn't have the mobility, either on the ground or in the air.' Mr. Annan went on to say that the UN force that may replace the African Union had better be 'a completely different force and have a completely different concept of operation.' The issue is whether President Bush, who is due to meet Mr. Annan tomorrow, is willing to hear this message. ... The shaky consensus that exists in favor of creating a UN force for Darfur is a precious opportunity to intervene on a decisive scale; it must not be squandered. The UN deployment will probably need to be at least 20,000 strong, or bigger if Sudan's government offers overt resistance; it will need helicopters, skilled commanders and good communications equipment. A lesser force would set the United Nations up for failure, risking a repeat of the humiliations in Bosnia and Rwanda. A lesser force would also reveal that the United States and its allies do not want to end the genocide, preferring the pretense of doing so. Mr. Annan was clear Thursday that he understands this choice. Tomorrow it will fall to Mr. Bush to say where he stands on genocide."

"Bring on the Blue Helmets"
The Economist (Editorial), 9 February 2006
"Since the tragedy in Darfur, Sudan's western region, began three years ago, at least 200,000 people -- some say more than 300,000 -- have died; another 2m, in a population of 6m, have been displaced, many of them fleeing across the border into Chad; peace talks in Nigeria between the rebels and the Sudanese government have stalled yet again; there is a risk of a proxy war breaking out between Chad and Sudan; and the African Union (AU), with some 7,000 ill-equipped troops, admits it cannot keep the peace. Now, belatedly, the UN is likely, as a last resort, to send blue helmets to Darfur. The United States, which two years ago accused the Sudanese government of genocide, is driving the plan, and opposition to it is fading. The Sudanese government in Khartoum, which has armed and encouraged the mounted Arab militias, or janjaweed, responsible for most of the killing, has stopped denouncing the UN intervention idea out of hand. The AU, whose peacekeepers have proved sadly unable to stop the janjaweed's campaign of rape, murder and pillage, has acknowledged that it needs the UN's help. And even China, which had opposed any UN intervention for fear of annoying Sudan's murderous government, from which it buys vast dollops of oil, is now unlikely to object. Last week, the UN Security Council asked Kofi Annan, the secretary-general, to 'initiate contingency planning without delay' and to produce a range of options in consultation with the AU. Mr Annan's envoy to Sudan says a force of 12,000-20,000 peacekeepers would be appropriate. ... [But] relief from the UN, if it comes, will not come soon. [...]"

"Genocide in Darfurs [sic] Is 'A Jewish Issue'"
By Stacey Dresner
Jewish Ledger, 9 February 2006
"To Rabbi Eric Polokoff, the genocide in Darfur is one of the most important issues facing the world today. He has spoken out from the pulpit on several occasions about the victims in Darfur and he sits on the Sudan Task Force of the Anti-Defamation League and helped draft the resolution against genocide passed by the state legislature last year. 'I think that certainly for the Jewish community, we can't ever close our eyes to genocide, against us or others,' Polokoff explained. 'We have a moral obligation, based on history and also based on the texts of our tradition that tell us not to remain silent in the face of genocide.' While protesting the events in Darfur have a religious and humanitarian component, Polokoff added that what goes on there also has worldwide political implications. 'If this is permitted to happen and go un-checked, we will see it happen in other places,' he said. 'There is not only a moral imperative but also a political imperative for the stability and development worldwide, particularly in Africa. The policy implications of unchecked genocide will work to the detriment of America and the West.' ... Why is B'nai Israel so attuned to the situation in Darfur? 'The leadership of Eric Polokoff,' answered Joel Abramson, also a member of the Sudan Task Force. ... 'It is a Jewish issue, but also a Christian issue and a human issue. Anyone with a shred of human decency should be concerned. We say and feel within our bones, "Never again" and "Never again" has to mean not only for us but for all peoples,' Polokoff explained. 'So much of our understanding of the world was shaped by the passivity to the genocide during the Shoah. The challenge is for us to not be passive.'"


"Uganda's Heart of Darkness"
By Beatrice Debut
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 8 February 2006
"[...] Alice's story is as blood-curdling as it is common in this conflict-ravaged region where the LRA [Lord Resistance Army]'s nearly 20-year war has killed tens of thousands and displaced up to two million people. Since the LRA took over ownership of a regional rebellion in 1988, rights groups and relief agencies, like the international aid group World Vision which runs the Gulu rehabilitation center, estimate at least 30,000 children have been abducted by the rebels to serve as fighters, porters and sex slaves. Fearing LRA attacks and kidnapping, another 40,000 children have become so-called 'night commuters,' fleeing their home villages each night to relative safety of the streets in larger towns, they say. Life as a night commuter is difficult, but it is better than living with the brutal treatment meted out by the rebels whose gruesome and often unspeakable atrocities lead children to slide into a barbarity reminiscent of the young band in William Golding's 1954 literary classic Lord of the Flies. The war, often described as the world's worst forgotten humanitarian crisis, has dragged on despite attempts to rekindle peace efforts that broke down in late 2004 and Ugandan military offensives that have driven the rebels further underground and into neighboring countries. [...]"


"UN Inquiry Demands Immediate Closure of Guantanamo"
By Con Coughlin
The Telegraph, 13 February 2006
"A United Nations inquiry has called for the immediate closure of America's Guantanamo Bay detention centre and the prosecution of officers and politicians 'up to the highest level' who are accused of torturing detainees. The UN Human Rights Commission report, due to be published this week, concludes that Washington should put the 520 detainees on trial or release them. It calls for the United States to halt all 'practices amounting to torture,' including the force-feeding of inmates who go on hunger strike. The report wants the Bush administration to ensure that all allegations of torture are investigated by US criminal courts, and that 'all perpetrators up to the highest level of military and political command are brought to justice.' It does not specify who it means by 'political command' but logically this would include President George W. Bush. ... Washington officials yesterday denounced it as 'a hatchet job' when informed of the contents by this newspaper. 'This shows precisely what is wrong with the United Nations today,' said a senior official. ... 'When the UN produces an unprofessional hatchet job like this it discredits the whole organisation.' [...]"
[n.b. I think the rest of the world is clear where the "discredit" resides. As New York lawyer Scott Horton said in The Nation (26 December 2005): "A number of key Bush officials are more likely to be the Pinochets of the next generation -- blocked from international travel and forever fending off extradition warrants and prosecutors' questions." See Anthony Lewis, "The Torture Administration".]

"Revealed: The Terror Prison US is Helping Build in Morocco"
By Tom Walker Rabat and Sarah Baxter
The Sunday Times, 12 February 2006
"The United States is helping Morocco to build a new interrogation and detention facility for Al-Qaeda suspects near its capital, Rabat, according to western intelligence sources. The sources confirmed last week that building was under way at Ain Aouda, above a wooded gorge south of Rabat's diplomatic district. Locals said they had often seen American vehicles with diplomatic plates in the area. The construction of the new compound, run by the Direction de la Securité du Territoire (DST), the Moroccan secret police, adds to a substantial body of evidence that Morocco is one of America's principal partners in the secret 'rendition' programme in which the CIA flies prisoners to third countries for interrogation. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and other groups critical of the policy have compiled dossiers detailing the detention and apparent torture of radical Islamists at the DST's current headquarters, at Temara, near Rabat. A recent inquiry into rendition by the Council of Europe, led by Dick Marty, the Swiss MP, highlighted a pattern of flights between Washington, Guantanamo Bay and Rabat's military airport at Sale. French intelligence and diplomatic sources said the most recent such flight was in the first week in December, when four suspects were seen being led blindfolded and handcuffed from a Boeing 737 at Sale and transferred into a fleet of American vehicles. [...]"

"Why the McCain Torture Ban Won't Work"
By Alfred W. McCoy, 8 February 2006
"[...] Under the Bush administration, the United States is moving to publicly legitimate the use of torture, even to the point of twisting this congressional ban on inhumane interrogation in ways that could ultimately legalize such acts. And following their President's lead, the American people seem to be developing a tolerance, even a taste, for torture. This country may, in fact, be undergoing an historic shift with profound implications for America's international standing. It seems to be moving from the wide-ranging but highly secretive tortures wielded by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Cold War decades to an open, even proud use of coercive interrogation as a formal weapon in the arsenal of American power, acceptable both to US courts and the American people. ... As a people, we are now faced with a decision that will influence the character of our nation and its reputation in the eyes of the world. We can agree with the Bush administration's decision to make torture a permanent weapon in the American arsenal -- or we can reject this policy and join the international community by honoring our commitments under the UN convention, as well as under US law, and banning torture unconditionally."

"Guantánamo: A Life Sentence of Suffering and Stigmatization"
Amnesty International report, 6 February 2006
"The US detention centre at Guantánamo Bay is condemning thousands of people across the world to a life of suffering, torment and stigmatisation. Hundreds of people remain held in a legal 'black hole,' after four years of indefinite detention. According to testimonies collected by Amnesty International, some families, who know that their relatives are or have been detained by the USA, have received little or no communication from Guantánamo. Some do not know the whereabouts of their loves ones, or even if they are alive. The report 'Guantánamo: Lives torn apart – The impact of indefinite detention on detainees and their families,' contains testimonies of a number of former detainees and their relatives and assesses the current state of those still held at Guantánamo, including nine men who remained imprisoned despite no longer being consider 'enemy combatants' by US authorities. But the torment does not end in Guantánamo. For some of the 'war on terror' detainees, transfer from Guantánamo has meant a move from one place of unlawful detention to another. For others, it has meant continual harassment, arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment. Even for those who have been returned to their home country, the physical and psychological reminders of their time at Guantánamo remain, and the stigma of having been labelled an 'enemy combatant' or 'the worst of the worst' by the US Government will stay with them for the rest of their lives. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the full text of the report.]


"Rough Trade: Diamond Industry Still Funding Bloody Conflicts in Africa"
By Paul Kelbie
The Independent, 10 February 2006
"The global diamond trade is continuing to fund vicious civil wars in countries such as Ivory Coast and Liberia, despite international efforts to blacklist stones from regions at war. Human rights campaigners warn, in the approach to Valentine's Day, that an international system of regulating the gem trade is being systematically bypassed. Millions of men, women and children are being killed, injured and made homeless as a result. According to a Global Witness and Amnesty International report released today, 'conflict diamonds' from Liberia are being smuggled into neighbouring countries for export, and stones from strife-torn Ivory Coast are also finding their way on to the British and other European markets. In Liberia, a bitter eight-year civil war, which has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced more than a million, has been fuelled by the illegal diamond trade. Diamonds from Ivory Coast are smuggled to Mali and sold on the international market to provide millions of dollars in revenue for rebel factions such as the Forces Nouvelles. Amnesty International and Global Witness are calling on the public to protest against the international trade in conflict diamonds. Shoppers are being urged to ask sales staff at jewellers where their diamonds come from and whether the areas are conflict-free. [...]"


"Four Years Pass, Milosevic Still on Trial"
By Joe Sterling, 12 February 2006
"The war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic enters its fifth tedious year Sunday, and though international interest in the tribunal in the Dutch city of The Hague has waned, it has proved a useful tool in educating Serbs. 'Its greatest reverberation is in Serbia itself,' where regional media have brought the crimes to center stage by airing and reporting on the proceedings, said Edgar Chen of the Coalition for International Justice, a group that supports war crimes tribunals. Milosevic is charged with genocide and crimes against humanity in last decade's bloody Balkans conflict, and for four years, he has dragged out judicial proceedings with his political grandstanding and health-related absences. ... 'I think there have been real difficulties and problems in the Milosevic trial,' said Richard Dicker, director of the international justice program for Human Rights Watch. 'What will be important is the evidence that was presented to indicate the motivation and intent of Milosevic.' Milosevic is defending himself against allegations by authorities that he backed and sometimes authorized violence by Serb forces. He faces charges of crimes against humanity, violations of the laws and customs of war and genocide, a charge emanating from the Bosnian conflict, in which thousands of Bosnian Muslims were killed or chased from their homes by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica and Sarajevo. [...]"

"ICJ Chief Faces Fiery Baptism"
By Helen Warrell and Janet Anderson
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 10 February 2006
"The forthcoming hearing of Bosnia's genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro will prove a baptism by fire for British QC Rosalyn Higgins, who was elected president of the International Court of Justice this week. Bosnia's case, due to begin later this month, is the first-ever state versus state genocide charge, and has been on the court's list for 13 years. Disagreements between the parties and other more urgent demands for the court's deliberation have contributed to a wait which, Higgins admits, has been 'uncomfortably long.' But now, Higgins says, 'The time has come.' As president, she will guide the 15-strong bench of ICJ judges through a hearing which is expected to take two months -- and many more to come to a judgement -- and will undoubtedly set a precedent for future accusations of state-sponsored genocide. ... Over the last few months the court has made a number of rulings that have huge reverberations for international diplomacy concerning reparations for invading another country, supporting armed groups, and how the principles of the Genocide Convention are binding on all states, even when a state has not signed the convention. Such far-reaching decisions may well have implications for the forthcoming Bosnia versus Serbia case. [...]"


"Global Warming: Passing the 'Tipping Point'"
By Michael McCarthy
The Independent, 11 February 2006
"A crucial global warming 'tipping point' for the Earth, highlighted only last week by the British Government, has already been passed, with devastating consequences. Research commissioned by The Independent reveals that the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has now crossed a threshold, set down by scientists from around the world at a conference in Britain last year, beyond which really dangerous climate change is likely to be unstoppable. The implication is that some of global warming's worst predicted effects, from destruction of ecosystems to increased hunger and water shortages for billions of people, cannot now be avoided, whatever we do. ... 'The passing of this threshold is of the most enormous significance,' said Tom Burke, a former government adviser on the green issues, now visiting professor at Imperial College London. 'It means we have actually entered a new era -- the era of dangerous climate change. We have passed the point where we can be confident of staying below the 2 degree rise set as the threshold for danger. What this tells us is that we have already reached the point where our children can no longer count on a safe climate.' Professor Burke added: 'We have very little time to act now. Governments must stop talking and start spending. We already have the technology to allow us to meet our growing need for energy while keeping a stable climate. We must deploy it now. Doing so will cost less than the Iraq war so we know we can afford it.' [...]"


"Footballer Invited to Meet Nazi Victims"
By John Hooper
The Guardian, 11 February 2006
"Paolo Di Canio, the Lazio forward who has become the darling of the neo-fascist right with his repeated straight-arm salutes, has been summoned by the mayor of Rome to listen to fellow Italians who survived the Nazi death camps. A council official said the mayor, Walter Veltroni, had asked the entire SS Lazio squad to attend a meeting next Thursday. ... The move is part of an initiative by the mayor that has already brought AS Roma players and officials face to face with Holocaust survivors in the city hall. For almost two hours on Thursday, Francesco Totti and the other members of the Serie A side listened in silence as former concentration-camp inmates appealed to them to stop playing as soon as they saw Nazi symbols in the crowd. Mr. Veltroni told the Guardian he had been shocked into doing something after learning that a swastika and two similar symbols had been hung from the terraces of Rome's Olympic stadium during Roma's game against Livorno on January 29. He said: 'The word "game" and swastika have no place together.' The mayor said he wanted to give players and officials 'a chance to learn of the gravity of what happened directly, in the words of those who endured the hell of the Shoah.' Council officials described how Alberto Sed, a 77-year-old survivor of Auschwitz and lifelong Roma supporter, broke down as he read out a letter he had written to the club as a young man. Mr. Sed, who was sent to Auschwitz under the anti-semitic laws passed by Italy's fascist regime, was reported to have turned to the Roma captain and said: 'Totti, before they deported me, at the age of 15, I was smarter with the ball than you.' Mr. Sed was among 17 Holocaust survivors at Thursday's meeting. Another told footballers that it was irrelevant that only a minority of far-right activists was involved. 'There are [only] 50 cretins in the stadium?' Piero Terracina was quoted as asking the players and officials. 'Nazism also started with 50 cretins.' [...]"


"Iran 'Could Quit Nuclear Treaty'"
BBC Online, 11 February 2006
"Iran could abandon the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if forced to limit nuclear activities, its hardline president says. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said if the rights of the Iranian people were violated, Iran would 'revise its policies.' He made the comments in a speech marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution. On 4 February, the IAEA decided to report Iran to the UN Security Council over its disputed nuclear programme. The NPT, which has 187 signatories, was created to prevent new nuclear states emerging, to promote co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to work towards nuclear disarmament. Non-nuclear signatories agree not to seek to develop or acquire such weapons. In return, they are given an undertaking that they will be helped to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. It is believed to be the first time Iran has threatened to pull out of the treaty. [...]"


"Taliban Offer Gold Reward for Killing Danish Cartoonists"
By Ken Herman
The Sydney Morning Herald, 10 February 2006
"[...] A Taliban commander said the Taliban would give 100 kilograms of gold to anyone who killed the person responsible for 'blasphemous' cartoons in Denmark, Afghan Islamic Press reported on Wednesday. The offer came after police in Afghanistan fired into a crowd of protesters, killing three, as they marched on a US base in Qalat City. ... Mullah Dadullah, the Taliban's chief military commander, also said the group would give five kilograms of gold to anyone who killed any military personnel from Denmark, Norway or Germany in Afghanistan. He said the list of Taliban suicide attackers in Afghanistan had increased significantly after publication of the cartoons. One of the 12 Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures has told a German newspaper he now faces at least two death threats, saying all 12 cartoonists were under police protection. [...]"


"Great Lakes: Treat Rape As Crime Against Humanity, Women Urge"
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, on, 9 February 2006
"Rape is a serious offence that should be treated as a crime against humanity, alongside genocide and war crimes, representatives of women's organisations in Africa's Great Lakes region have proposed. 'Studies undertaken in all our countries have shown that rape has become a real epidemic in our region,' Marie Ingabile, a Rwanda gender expert, said on Wednesday in a statement issued at the end of a three-day workshop in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). 'That is why we are raising men's awareness by explaining to them that these women who are being raped, physically wounded and humiliated are their mothers, spouses, daughters and that men suffer also in that respect,' she added. The workshop, attended by participants from Burundi, DRC, Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, was in preparation for an international conference on the Great Lakes, planned for Nairobi, Kenya, later this year. Several thousands of women as well as girls have been raped in the civil wars that have ravaged the Great Lakes region for years. Moreover, rape is still being perpetrated in a number of hot spots, despite most of the countries in the region being in a post-conflict situation. [...]"
[n.b. "Several thousands of women" is surely an error; "several hundreds of thousands" would be more accurate.]