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.' [...]"

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