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.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ