Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
May 10-17, 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


"Turkey, Armenia and Denial"
The New York Times (Editorial), 16 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"Turkey's self-destructive obsession with denying the Armenian genocide seems to have no limits. The Turks pulled out of a NATO exercise this week because the Canadian prime minister used the term 'genocide' in reference to the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during and after World War I. Before that, the Turkish ambassador to France was temporarily recalled to protest a French bill that would make it illegal to deny that the Armenian genocide occurred. And before that, a leading Turkish novelist, Orhan Pamuk, was charged with 'insulting Turkish identity' for referring to the genocide (the charges were dropped after an international outcry). Turkey's stance is hard to fathom. Each time the Turks lash out, new questions arise about Turkey's claim to a place in the European Union, and the Armenian diaspora becomes even more adamant in demanding a public reckoning over what happened. Granted, genocide is a difficult crime for any nation to acknowledge. But it is absurd to treat any reference to the issue within Turkey as a crime and to scream 'lie!' every time someone mentions genocide. By the same token, we do not see the point of the French law to ban genocide denial. Historical truths must be established through dispassionate research and debate, not legislation, even if some of those who question the evidence do so for insidious motives. [...]"


"Skinhead Rampage Highlights Belgium's Race Anxiety"
By James Graff, 12 May 2006
"[...] On Thursday, 18-year-old Hans Van Themsche donned a long black leather coat, purchased a hunting rifle, and then, in broad daylight, started stalking identifiable foreigners in Belgium's second city. First, he shot and wounded a woman of Turkish descent who had been sitting on a public bench, reading a book. Then Van Themsche killed a pregnant Malian babysitter and the native Belgian two-year-old for whom she was caring. His hunt for further victims was stopped only when a police officer shot him in the stomach after he refused to drop his weapon. Van Themsche had shaved his head just days before his shooting spree. But a note later recovered from his home by police suggests that his racist politics was more deeply rooted. His father had been a founding member of the Vlaams Blok, the anti-immigration, Flemish separatist party renamed Vlaams Belang, or Flemish Interest, in 2004 in a bid to broaden its appeal. His aunt, Frieda Van Themsche, is a VB member of the Belgian parliament. And VB is no fringe party: it got 24% of the Flemish vote in 2004 regional elections, making it the largest party in Flanders, Belgium's biggest and most prosperous region. The Vlaams Belang immediately condemned the murders, demanding 'the heaviest possible punishment for the murderer' and declaring that 'such disturbed criminals ought to have no place in our community.' But other politicians and commentators were quick to connect the murders to VB's xenophobic policies. 'These horrible and cowardly crimes are a form of extreme racism,' said Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. 'No one can ignore what the far right can lead to.' [...]"


"Tribes Flee into Jungle to Escape 'Genocide'"
By Ed Cropley
The Scotsman, 15 May 2006
"Thousands of ethnic Karen have fled into a malaria-infected jungle to escape the biggest Burmese army offensive in a decade amid claims of ethnic cleansing and genocide. In some of the first independent confirmations of a growing refugee crisis inside the Karen State, Reuters interviewed dozens of families who walked for weeks through the forests to escape soldiers of the SPDC, as Rangoon's ruling junta is known. Protected by Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) guerrillas in a steep valley a mile from Thailand, they spoke of friends and relatives murdered, villages burned to the ground and the ashes seeded with landmines. Some of them used the word myo dong. In Karen, it means genocide. In the last month, some 800 Karen have fled to the makeshift jungle camp near the Salween River on the Thai border. Many more are expected to follow, with thousands said to be on the run in the jungle, according to the Free Burma Rangers, a Christian group that helps refugees inside Myanmar, as Burma is now officially known. 'The SPDC is trying to make sure the Karen are wiped off the map of Burma -- the people, the culture, the language,' said Sor Law Lah Doh, 30, who arrived two days ago in the camp with his wife and three children. [...]"

"'They Cut Off His Hands and Feet and He Bled to Death'"
By Nick Meo
The Times, 15 May 2006
"[...] Humanitarian organisations say that more than 15,000 Karen hill people have been forced to flee their homes since last year by the Burma Army's most brutal offensive since 1997. Their villages have been burnt and they have been shot, raped and tortured. The survivors fled, but Burmese army patrols have orders to hunt them down. This group spent weeks fleeing across some of the toughest terrain on earth to reach a malarial wilderness on the banks of the Salween river, tenuously held by guerrillas from the Karen National Union. They hope that in an emergency they can escape across the fast-flowing river into Thailand in two boats kept on the river's sandbanks. A cross-party group of British MPs called on the Government last week to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the refugees and to seek a binding UN resolution demanding that the Burmese Government stop the violence. The Burmese offensive began when the country's increasingly paranoid military regime quixotically relocated north to a new capital at Pyinmana and moved to eliminate nearby Karen villages. The brutal methods that the Army has employed have become frighteningly familiar to Burma's ethnic hill peoples during more than five decades of conflict; men are killed, women raped, homes burnt. Survivors are enslaved or escape into the forest. [...]"


"Canadian Filmmaker Egoyan Praises Harper's Stance on Armenian Genocide"
By Jennifer Ditchburn
Canadian Press dispatch on, 10 May 2006
"Celebrated filmmaker Atom Egoyan, perhaps the most famous Canadian of Armenian decent, praised Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his controversial recognition of the Armenian genocide. 'I think the Harper government has taken a courageous stand in its early days, on several issues that could have faded into history but bear scrutiny,' Egoyan said in an interview Wednesday. 'It's interesting to me that very often Conservative governments seem to be more morally responsible than one might imagine.' Harper recently became the first Canadian prime minister to publicly declare that the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians during the First World War constituted a genocide. The remark has caused a diplomatic row with the Turkish government, including that country's withdrawal from an international military exercise in Canada. The Turkish press has speculated that Canada could be prevented from competing for the lucrative sale of reactors for Turkey's first nuclear plant. Egoyan, who devoted his 2002 film Ararat to the issue of an Armenian genocide, says he has faced plenty of pressure from the Turkish government over his film and his views, and doesn't think governments or individuals should bend on recognition. 'Ultimately, I believe that the only way to have any sort of move on this issue is to try and seek recognition from as many different places as possible and isolate the Turkish government,' Egoyan said from Toronto. 'That's the only way change will be effected.' [...]"


"Mao Casts Long Shadow Over China"
By Jonathan Watts
The Guardian, 16 May 2006
"It is an anniversary that China wants to forget. Today marks 40 years since the start of the cultural revolution, one of the most insane episodes of the 20th century when children turned on parents, pupils tyrannised teachers and hundreds of thousands died in the name of class war. The government will hold no commemoration. But for one survivor, at least, the lessons of those '10 years of chaos' must be heeded if China is to develop a modern law-governed society to match its economic progress. ... The official history of that period records the May 16 circular in which Mao called for a life-or-death struggle against bourgeois ideology, saying: 'All erroneous ideas, all poisonous weeds, all ghosts and monsters, must be subjected to criticism.' Textbooks recognise this was a mistake that led to political chaos, economic instability and social unrest as Red Guards publicly humiliated, and sometimes killed, professors, doctors and other 'counter-revolutionaries.' But questions about responsibility and compensation remain largely unanswered. Although Mao drafted the circular, most of the blame for what followed is usually heaped upon the 'Gang of Four' led by Mao's wife, Jiang Qing. At their televised trial, the Gang of Four were accused of persecuting 700,000 people and held directly responsible for 35,000 deaths. Most foreign scholarship puts the killings at between 300,000 and 800,000. In their biography of Mao, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday estimate the toll at 3 million. [...]"


"Iraqi Children Falling Victim to Malnutrition"
By Solomon Moore
The Los Angeles Times, 14 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"One in four Iraqi children suffers from chronic malnutrition, as poor security and poverty take their toll on the youngest generation, health and aid workers said Saturday. The situation is worse in remote rural areas, where as many as one in three children suffers from problems associated with poor diet, such as stunted growth and low weight, according to a recent government report that surveyed 22,050 households in 98 districts around the nation. 'This can irreversibly hamper the young child's optimal mental and cognitive development, not just their physical development,' said Roger Wright, the special representative in Iraq for the United Nations Children's Fund, which provided support for the interagency report. The study shows that Iraq's current food-rationing program has not been able to meet many families' needs. Iraq's continued instability is the main culprit, disrupting food distribution networks, along with lack of sanitation and clean water, health experts said. Iraq's lean days began long before the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Food was in short supply in many parts of the country as early as the 1980s, when President Saddam Hussein diverted billions of dollars to fund the war with Iran. And after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, U.N. sanctions had a deadly effect on many communities, even as Hussein and his cronies shuttled between lavish banquets and gargantuan palaces. But the government survey found that although malnourishment rates are lower than during Hussein's time, the problem is growing. [...]"


"Democratic Candidate for Alabama AG Denies Holocaust Occurred"
Associated Press dispatch in, 12 May 2006
"A Democratic candidate for Alabama attorney general denies the Holocaust occurred and said Friday he will speak this weekend in New Jersey to a "pro-white" organization that is widely viewed as being racist. Larry Darby concedes his views are radical, but he said they should help him win wide support among Alabama voters as he tries to 'reawaken white racial awareness' with his campaign against Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson. The state Democratic chairman, Joe Turnham, said the party became aware of some of Darby's views only days ago and was considering what to do about his candidacy. 'Any type of hatred toward groups of people, especially for political gain, is completely unacceptable in the Alabama Democratic Party,' said Turnham. Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, Darby said he believes no more than 140,000 Jewish people died in Europe during World War II, and most of them succumbed to typhus. Historians say about 6 million Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis, but Darby said the figure is a false claim of the 'Holocaust industry.' 'I am what the propagandists call a Holocaust denier, but I do not deny mass deaths that included some Jews,' Darby said. 'There was no systematic extermination of Jews. There's no evidence of that at all.' [...]"

"Love in the Ruins"
By Alice Kaplan
The Nation, 11 May 2006
"In July 1942 a writer named Irène Némirovsky, a Russian-Jewish émigré living in the countryside of Burgundy, was arrested by French police and deported to Auschwitz. She died of typhus within a month. Her husband, Michel Epstein, was deported to Auschwitz four months later, and probably gassed. Only their two daughters survived the war, moving from one hiding place to another. One of those daughters, Denise Epstein, carried her mother's last manuscript with her throughout the war and into her own adulthood. When she finally decided to transcribe the pages, she was astonished: She and her sister had always assumed they were notes or fragments of a novel. What she learned after months and months of work with the cramped handwriting -- Némirovsky's response to wartime paper shortages -- was that Suite Française, the title her mother had given to her novel-in-progress, could stand alone as a finished work, a brilliant portrait of French society in 1940. The book was published in 2004 and became an international sensation. Sandra Smith's sure-footed English translation has recently appeared in a volume that, like the original French edition, includes the fiction plus a 'true story' chaser -- the author's diary notes from 1941 and 1942, related correspondence and an afterword by Myriam Anissimov. Survivor stories are always compelling, and Némirovsky's Suite Française is no exception, though the survivor here is the manuscript -- not the author. It rivals the story of Anne Frank's diary, or the story of Albert Camus's novel The First Man, found in the wreck of the car where he died. [...]"


"Palestinians to Get Interim Aid"
BBC Online, 10 May 2006
"Middle East mediators have agreed a plan to channel aid directly to the Palestinians, bypassing the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority (PA). The EU, UN, Russia and the US said they would set up a 'temporary international mechanism' to channel the money for a three-month trial period. The PA has faced a financial crisis since aid was frozen after Hamas won elections in January. The US and EU have demanded that Hamas recognise Israel and reject violence. Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel Army Radio the plan was acceptable to Israel. 'As far as we are concerned, the Quartet's decision to give further humanitarian support to the Palestinian Authority, bypassing the Hamas government, is definitely okay,' she said. But Hamas reacted angrily at continuing moves to isolate the PA. 'All of them, they now want to keep the government aside, they don't want to co-operate with the government,' Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad told the BBC. 'I think this will create [a] more dangerous situation.' [...]"


"Israeli Seeks Killers of His Family in Holocaust"
By Laurie Copans
Associated Press dispatch in The Miami Herald, 14 May 2006
"It was a crime that unfolded on the sidelines of the Holocaust: Farmers in Nazi-occupied Poland murdered six members of a well-to-do Jewish family for their possessions. And there the story might have stayed, swallowed up in the enormity of Hitler's genocide, had a biotech company owner in Israel not decided at age 57 to find out what happened to his grandmother, Gitl, and her five children who would have been his aunts and uncles had they lived. As Rony Lerner would discover, the wounds are still raw more than 60 years later. In a Polish village to which his search led him, he confronted a 92-year-old man alleged to be the last surviving suspect. 'Apparently trying to reconcile, he opened his arms as if to hug me,' Lerner recalled. 'I shoved him aside out of disgust and revulsion.' The story began in 1942 at the height of the Nazis' persecution of Jews in Poland, when the Lerners were forced into a ghetto. A Nazi officer shot Gitl's husband, her sister and one of her sons. Another son, Yitzhak Lerner, was hiding in Warsaw, posing as a gentile. He persuaded Polish farmers in the eastern village of Przegaliny to save most of the family from the ghetto, apparently after bribing the Nazi authorities. After World War II ended he submitted a complaint to Polish authorities in which he said the farmers took 'a large payment' for hiding the family and then started pressuring Gitl Lerner to hand over her other belongings, knowing the family owned a bakery and sold sewing machines. When the 45-year-old mother had nothing left to give, the complaint said, the farmers raped her two daughters, aged 22 and 20. Eventually, it said, they knifed one of the daughters to death and shot the rest of the family as well as two unrelated boys who had come with them from the ghetto. [...]"


"Wanted for Genocide in Kigali. Living Comfortably in Bedford"
By Sandra Laville
The Guardian, 13 May 2006
"Two Rwandans named this week in a list of the 100 most wanted suspects for the 1994 genocide are living freely in Britain despite demands that they return home to stand trial. Charles Munyaneza, 48, and Célestin Ugirashebuja, 55, local mayors accused of organising the genocide in their provinces of southern Rwanda, are leading ordinary lives with their families, one in suburban Bedford, the other in Essex. Mr. Munyaneza, a father of four, lives in a 1960s semi-detached house at an address known to the Home Office in Putnoe, a residential area of Bedford. Three months ago the Rwandan government issued an international warrant for his arrest, and called for him to be deported to stand trial. But as yet Mr Munyaneza has received no visits from the police or immigration officials. Sources in Whitehall said the international warrant had no power because the UK does not have an extradition treaty with Rwanda and police were under no obligation to visit the suspects. Foreign Office sources added that Mr. Munyaneza and Mr. Ugirashebuja were not the only two genocide suspects in the UK, putting the number at 'several.' This week Mr. Munyaneza was named as wanted man number 54 in a list compiled by the prosecutor general in Kigali of 100 genocide suspects known to be evading justice abroad. Mr. Ugirashebuja was number 93. [...]"

"Hundreds of Rwandans Return Home from Burundi"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 9 May 2006
"About 800 Rwandans out of nearly 20,000 who fled to neighbouring Burundi to seek refuge for fear of appearing before local genocide courts have voluntarily returned home in the past month, officials said on Tuesday. Didace Nzikoruriho, in charge of refugee affairs at Burundi's interior ministry, said the gradual return was expected to end in the next three months. 'For the past one month, we have repatriated 818 Rwandans among those who had fled to northern Burundi and all of them returned voluntarily,' Nzikoruriho told Agence France Presse. Thousands of Rwandans, mainly members of the majority Hutu tribe, had fled to Burundi last year after grassroots courts known as 'gacaca' began hearings in the trials of suspects in the country's 1994 massacre that claimed some 800,000 lives. They settled in four camps in two provinces lying on the Rwanda-Burundi border, from where many of them applied for asylum status. But last month, Bujumbura turned down more than 95% of asylum applications, granting only 59 of 1 250 requests. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), which is also involved in the return of the Rwandans, confirmed the voluntary repatriation. 'This is a voluntary repatriation; the UNHCR organises the transportation, while the World Food Programme (WFP) supplies food rations,' said Catherine-Lune Grayson, WFP's spokesperson here. [...]"


"Serbia Cannot Escape Curse of Mladic"
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian, 17 May 2006
"If Montenegro were to vote to secede from Serbia at the weekend and finally screw down the coffin lid on the corpse of Yugoslavia, General Ratko Mladic would be an apt choice as pallbearer and gravedigger-in-chief. The referendum is finely balanced. Attaining the EU-mandated 55% majority in favour of independence could be touch and go. But Belgrade's continuing failure to arrest Mladic, wanted for genocide by the UN's Hague tribunal, may yet tip the scale. It is helping persuade voters from Montenegro's Bosnian Muslim and Albanian minorities that Serbia, where roughly a third of voters still regard Mladic as a hero, is not a country they want to associate with any longer. The so-called curse of Mladic, rooted in the unforgotten and unforgiven 1990s Balkan wars, is all-pervasive, bedevilling Serbia at home and abroad. Its prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, says he is doing all he can to catch the fugitive. Unimpressed, the EU put off preparatory membership talks this month. Negotiations would not resume, Brussels declared, until the man held responsible for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre was in custody. Desperate to share in the economic and other EU benefits enjoyed by other former Yugoslav republics, Serbia is now the dunce of European integration. The Mladic affair has led the US to threaten an aid cut-off. Serbia should be 'a leader in Balkans, an example of prosperity and a keystone of regional stability,' Michael Polt, the US ambassador to Belgrade, said last week. 'Right now, I don't see that vision ... Mladic must go to The Hague, not next week, not in September, not by the end of the year, but now.' [...]"

"Why Insist on the Surrender of Ratko Mladic?"
By Timothy William Waters
The New York Times, 12 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] Rather than linking talks to one arrest, the European Union should ask if a deeply brutalized society like Serbia's is a worthy partner for integration, regardless of the disposition of any one war criminal. Making General Mladic a totem for what Europe really needs -- Serbia's transformation -- stunts the union's ability to understand and encourage that process. Fixation on General Mladic is of a piece with the naïve thinking behind much Western foreign policy from the Balkans to Baghdad. Similarly optimistic claims were made when former President Slobodan Milosevic was arrested, but five years later, Serbia's politics still haven't advanced enough. Oh -- maybe that's because we haven't gotten General Mladic. Then there are the advantages to not insisting. Negotiated reforms could begin in earnest, and integration might make the Serbs eventually turn their backs on General Mladic and what he represents. How much better for reconciliation if the Serbs spit out General Mladic on their own, in shame and disgust, not because they see his surrender to The Hague as the only way to get their hands on 30 euros of silver. [...]"


"Has 'War on Terror' Reached Somalia?"
BBC Online, 11 May 2006
"Since the 11 September attacks on the United States more than four years ago, Somalis have feared that their lawless country could become the setting for a battle between US-backed anti-terror forces and al-Qaeda sympathisers. Now it seems as though their worst fears may be coming true. The capital, Mogadishu, has been rocked by the worst violence in almost a decade, leaving at least 120 people dead. Hundreds of people have fled their homes as the rival militia clashed with mortars and anti-aircraft guns. The few private hospitals still operating are unable to cope with the deluge of people injured in the fighting. The fighting is between the Islamic Courts' militia, which wants to set up Sharia law to end the years of anarchy, and a coalition of the warlords who have devastated the country, fighting for control in the 15 years since there was last an effective national government. Many Somalis agree with him, after the warlords, who had been rivals for many years, this year formed the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism. The US has neither denied nor confirmed these reports but it says it would 'work with responsible individuals ... in fighting terror' and warned that it was very worried that lawless Somalia could become a safe haven for terror networks. [...]"


"As Sri Lankan Port City Erupts, A Nation's Bloody Past Echoes"
By Somini Sengupta
The New York Times, 15 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"The bad blood, you could say, began with the Buddha. Last May, in the dead of night, someone erected a giant white Buddha statue on a five-foot-high concrete platform behind the town's main market. What followed in this multiethnic, multifaith, perennially self-destructive eastern city on the edge of the sea was a chain of anger and savagery, foreshadowing the return of a grave past. The ethnic Tamils of Trincomalee, who are mostly Hindu and Christian, saw the clandestine raising of the Buddha statue as an act of provocation by Sinhalese Buddhists. The man who led the protests against the Buddha statue, Vanniasingam Vigneswaran, was shot to death as he went to the bank one morning. Another morning, the bodies of five Tamil youths were found on the beach. The largely Sinhalese security forces came under steady attack by people suspected of being ethnic Tamil guerrillas. The tit-for-tat went into overdrive on a Wednesday afternoon in mid-April, when an explosion at the mouth of the market killed 16 people, prompting a Sinhalese mob to instantly torch Tamil-owned shops and hunt down Tamil civilians. In the reprisals that followed, Sinhalese villagers were slaughtered, Tamil homes were burned, schools and churches turned into squalid camps of frightened, wounded villagers. ... After four years of livable peace since the 2002 cease-fire between the government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Trincomalee has once again sunk into the muck of fear, uncertainty, and distrust that marked the worst years of Sri Lanka's hateful ethnic conflict of the past two decades. [...]"

"Ethnic Divisions in Sri Lanka Seem Wider Than Ever"
By Somini Sengupta
The New York Times, 11 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] April was the bloodiest month since the government and the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam signed a cease-fire in February 2002 that was supposed to end nearly two decades of killing here. According to the Nordic truce monitors, 191 people, the vast majority of them civilians, were killed in the last month. That compares with a death toll of nine in February 2005, when the warring parties headed to Switzerland for talks on strengthening the cease-fire. ... Yet despite the surge in violence, each side has insisted that it is still abiding by the accord. The logic is one that a foreign diplomat here described as 'implausible deniability.' For instance, the Tamil Tigers, on the very day in April that they were accused of a suicide-bomb attack on the commander, sent a letter to the Norwegian peace-brokers accusing the government of breaking the cease-fire and 'inciting violence.' As for the land mines that have been systematically used against security forces in recent months, rebel leaders have repeatedly called them the handiwork of Tamil groups not under their control. On the other side, the government of President Rajapakse, who was elected in November 2005, has studiously maintained that it is not shielding an anti-Tamil Tiger paramilitary outfit, despite evidence presented by the cease-fire monitors. Allowing armed groups to function in government territory, even those who conveniently help to weaken the government's chief enemy, is a violation of the accord. So, too, were Sri Lankan Army airstrikes last week on Tamil Tiger strongholds. ... In recent weeks, there have also been direct military exchanges. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission says there are now routine skirmishes near rebel and army front lines. In the four years since the cease-fire was signed, the distrust between the warring parties is now at its absolute worst. [...]"


"Darfur's Rebel Forces Turn on Each Other"
By Xan Rice
The Guarden, 17 May 2006
"With Darfur's remaining rebels still refusing to sign a peace deal, fighters that were united against the Sudanese government have turned on each other. Around Tawilla thousands of civilians have been displaced since the beginning of the year following deadly violence between two ethnically-divided factions of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA), Darfur's largest rebel movement. In what has become a turf war for control of rebel-held territory, gunmen on pick-up trucks and horseback have been burning huts, killing, looting, and even raping women, in raids just as deadly as those of the Arab 'Janjaweed' militia. Villages that had been emptied due to raids by government forces are once again deserted. Camps for displaced people on the outskirts of town lie abandoned, their terrified former residents having barricaded themselves in makeshift shelters against the razor wire surrounding the African Union peacekeepers' base. All but one international NGO have left. 'Initially the trouble here was the government forces,' said an AU military observer based in Tawilla, two hours' drive west of the state capital, El Fasher. 'But now these different SLA groups fighting each other have become the problem.' [...]"

"U.N. Gets Proposal to Speed New Darfur Force"
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times, 16 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"The United States introduced a Security Council resolution on Monday calling for strict observance of a new peace accord in Darfur and speeded-up arrangements for a United Nations peacekeeping force to replace the African Union force now there. John R. Bolton, the American ambassador, said he hoped for a vote on Tuesday. The move followed a meeting of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, earlier Monday that urged the Sudanese government to drop objections to putting the force in Darfur, an area the size of France, under eventual United Nations command. The African Union diplomats also gave two holdout rebel groups two weeks to sign the peace accord between the Sudanese government and the main rebel organization or face sanctions against their leaders. The accord, signed May 5 in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, was aimed at ending a conflict -- marked by extraordinary brutality and labeled genocide by the Bush administration -- that has killed more than 200,000 people and forced two million villagers from their homes. The cease-fire is already being widely violated, and the 7,000-member African Union force is unable and ill-equipped to exert meaningful control. Jan Pronk, the United Nations envoy to Sudan, told reporters in Addis Ababa, 'It is now high time to take very concrete steps towards a stronger force.' [...]"

"AU Warns Darfur Rebels of Sanctions"
By Lea-Lisa Westerhoff
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 15 May 2006
"The African Union on Monday gave two hold-out Darfur rebel groups a 24-hour deadline to sign a peace deal with Khartoum or face United Nations sanctions, and urged Sudan to accept a UN force in the troubled western region. AU commission chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare said the pan-African body would ask the UN Security Council to slap sanctions on the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) unless they signed the deal by Tuesday, when it is set to be implemented. 'I call on them to hasten to append their signatures, without any conditions, to the document before its implementation on May 16 2006,' he told a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council at African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. In addition, he said that even if the two groups did not sign on to the deal, they would be held accountable for any violations under penalty of sanctions. 'Should they embark on any action or measure likely to undermine the [agreement], especially ceasefire provisions, the Peace and Security Council should take appropriate measures against them, including by requesting the UN Security Council to impose sanctions against them,' Konare said. The two groups have thus far refused entreaties to sign the agreement that was sealed on May 5 in the Nigerian capital of Abuja between Khartoum and the main faction of the SLM. [...]"

"Darfur Peace Still a Distant Prospect, Experts Say"
By Joelle Bassoul
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 15 May 2006
"The road to peace in Sudan's strife-torn western region of Darfur remains long, experts say, with deep tribal differences yet to be overcome and a near-impossible disarmament task. A peace agreement was reached ten days ago in Abuja between the Sudanese government and the largest faction of the main Darfur rebel group -- the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) -- raising hopes of an end to the three-year-old bloodshed. But Hassan Mekki, professor of political science at the African University in Khartoum, argued the deal is of little significance without the adherence of the Fur tribe, which accounts for 35% of Darfur's population. Yet the SLM branch, led by the movement's founder and Fur tribal leader Abdel Wahid Mohammed al-Nur, has so far refused to sign the accord, despite mounting pressure by the international community. ... Some reports indicate that Nur's dissident faction was involved in the violent clashes that broke out with police in camps for displaced Darfuris since the peace deal was inked in Nigeria on May 5. The faction, represented by SLM leader and peace-agreement signatory Minni Minnawi, controls military power among the rebels, but his Zaghawa tribe is smaller in size. Minnawi's own faction appeared divided after his political adviser sent a letter to the main international brokers, charging the agreement was incomplete and demanding it be frozen. Yet Nur's own camp is not speaking in one voice either, and 16 of his top lieutenants said on the day of the signing that they intended to support the peace initiative. [...]"

"In Darfur, Rapes and Shootings Go On, Despite Peace Agreement"
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, 15 May 2006
"[...] Ten days ago in Abuja, Nigeria, the Sudanese government and the main rebel group in Darfur signed a peace agreement to end three years of fighting. A ceasefire was supposed to come into force 72 hours later. The deal, brokered by the African Union and international mediators, was hailed as a breakthrough -- a significant step towards peace and ending the world's worst humanitarian crisis. But little has changed on the ground in Darfur. African Union observers continue to chronicle tales of death and destruction. Rebel fighters and government soldiers eye each other nervously across the frontlines. Bandits attack with impunity. Defenceless civilians are as fearful of attack as ever. Even a trip along the main road between El Fasher and Nyala, a rare strip of asphalt that slices through the desert and links the capitals of north and south Darfur, is fraught with danger. [...]"

"Children Forced into Darfur Death Squads"
By Katharine Houreld
The Sunday Times, 14 May 2006
"It was during Haroun Abdullah's Arab class that the rebels arrived. The 14-year-old watched, helpless, as they carted away 15 of his classmates. 'They had knives and sticks,' he said, eyes downcast. According to the United Nations, the children were among as many as 5,000 male Sudanese refugees from the Darfur conflict who over the past two months have been abducted from camps in neighbouring Chad. In a crisis that refuses to yield to international intervention and peacekeeping efforts, the snatching of children to be forced to become soldiers is the latest horror in three years of bloody fighting between black rebel farmers and Arab militias known as Janjaweed, backed by the Sudanese government. About 200,000 people have died and 2m have been driven from their homes. In New York tomorrow the United Nations Security Council is expected to back a peace deal thrashed out in Nigeria between the Khartoum government and the rebels. But few diplomats believe there will be any let-up in the fighting unless an African Union force of 7,000 peacekeepers is given more clout. [...]"

"Canada Should Spare Troops for Darfur: Dallaire", 14 May 2006
"Retired Canadian general Romeo Dallaire thinks Canada has the capability to send troops to the troubled Darfur region of Sudan despite concerns that the country does not have the manpower for another military mission. Speaking on CTV's Question Period Sunday, Senator Dallaire agreed that the Canadian Forces have been stretched thin by years of budget cuts and the ongoing mission in Afghanistan. But, he argued that pullbacks from other missions meant Canada could spare a force for Sudan. 'I think it is almost reflective of a banana republic if we can't, as a leading middle power, be able to move forces in those two mission and do it with the capabilities we have,' he told CTV's Craig Oliver. 'In the current situation, after the last two years where the Canadian Forces have been pulling out of UN missions in order to lick their wounds, I believe we can go in as part of a developed world contingent to reinforce the African Union (peacekeepers) for a short period of time.' ... On Monday, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor told a Senate committee on Monday that Canada is stretched too thin to send troops to Darfur. But, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Wednesday that it was a possibility, although unlikely. [...]"

"Truce Is Talk, Agony Is Real in Darfur War"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 14 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"It took three months for Fatouma Moussa to collect enough firewood to justify a trip to sell it in the market town of Shangil Tobayi, half a day's drive by truck from here. It took just a few moments on Thursday for janjaweed militiamen, making a mockery of the new cease-fire, to steal the $40 she had earned on the trip and rape her. An infant, Menazir Abdullah Adam, was shot in the foot by Darfur militiamen. Speaking barely in a whisper, Ms. Moussa, who is 18, gave a spare account of her ordeal. 'We found janjaweed at Amer Jadid,' she said, naming a village just a few miles north of her own. 'One woman was killed. I was raped.' Officially, the cease-fire in the Darfur region went into effect last Monday. That was three days after the government and the largest rebel group signed a broad peace agreement, creating hope for an end to the brutal assaults that have left more than 200,000 dead and have driven two million from their homes, a campaign of government-sponsored terror against non-Arab tribes in Darfur that the Bush administration has called genocide. But the reality was on grim display in this crossroads town, where Ms. Moussa and other villagers were attacked Thursday as they rode home in an open-backed truck from Shangil Tobayi. The Arab militiamen who attacked them killed 1 woman, wounded 6 villagers and raped 15 women, witnesses and victims said. [...]"


"Genocide Statement 'Free Speech'"
AAP dispatch in The Australian, 16 May 2006
"A Victorian MP's parliamentary speech accusing Turkish people of ignoring acts of genocide more than 80 years ago was a sign of free speech at work, Victorian Premier Steve Bracks said today. Jenny Mikakos, the parliamentary secretary for justice, whose ethnic background is Greek, has accused Turkey of ignoring the killing of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Greeks between 1916 and 1923. In a short speech to the Victorian upper house during the last session of Parliament, Ms. Mikakos reportedly said: "On May 19, the Pontian community in Victoria and around the world will commemorate the 87th anniversary of the Pontian genocide that occurred in present-day Turkey. 'Between 1916 and 1923, over 353,000 Pontic Greeks living in Asia Minor and in Pontus, which is near the Black Sea, died as a result of the 20th Century's first but less-known genocide,' Fairfax reported her as saying. 'Over a million Pontic Greeks were forced into exile. In the preceding years, 1.5 million Armenians and 750,000 Assyrians in various parts of Turkey also perished.' Two Labor MPs of Turkish descent, Adem Somyurek and John Eren, interjected but Ms. Mikakos continued speaking. 'The Turkish government must begin the reconciliation process by acknowledging these crimes against humanity. The suffering of the victims of the Pontian genocide cannot and will not be forgotten,' she said. The comments, made under a system of 90-second free statements for MPs established by the Bracks Government, have outraged Turkish and Jewish groups. But Mr. Bracks today said Ms Mikakos, one of two members for the safe Jika Jika province in Melbourne's north, was free to make the speech. [...]"


"Chavez: Imprison 'Genocidal' Bush", 15 May 2006
"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has accused George W. Bush of committing genocide and said the U.S. president should be imprisoned by an international criminal court. The leftist leader made his remarks on Monday at a joint news conference with London Mayor Ken Livingstone after a reporter for the BBC likened some comments of his to Bush's phrase, first delivered shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, 'You are either with us or against us in the fight against terror.' At that, Chavez erupted in anger about being 'compared to the biggest genocide person alive, in the history of humanity, the president of the United States -- killer, genocidal, immoral -- who should be taken to prison by an international court. I don't know to what you are referring when you compare me to President Bush.' He added: 'Have I invaded any country? Have Venezuelans invaded anything? Have we bombarded a city? Have we had a coup d'etat? Have we used the CIA to kill a president? Have we protected terrorists in Venezuela? That's Bush!' The reporter then cited Chavez's critique of a previous question as 'silly' for having motivated her question. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Hans Offerdal for forwarding this link.]

"US Aggression-Time Once Again: Target Iran"
By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, 11 May 2006
"[...] What is mind-boggling in all this is that new attacks and threats by a country that is in the midst of a serial aggression program, that runs a well documented and widely condemned global gulag of torture, that has committed major war crimes in Iraq-Fallujah may well replace Guernica as a symbol of murderous warfare unleashed against civilians -- and that openly declares itself exempt from international law and states that the UN is only relevant when it supports U.S. policy, is not only not condemned for its Iran aggression, but is able to enlist support for it in the EU, UN and global media. This enlistment of support occurs despite the further fact that it is now generally recognized that the Bush and Blair administrations lied their way into the Iraq invasion-occupation (but still quickly obtained UN and EU acceptance of the occupation and ensuing ruthless pacification program), and that they cynically misused the inspections program, all of which makes the new accommodation to the aggression-in-process and planned larger attack truly frightening. ... It is clear that when it comes to actions that the superpower (or its leading client states) chooses to take, international law is completely inoperative, and that this has become institutionalized and accepted by the 'international community' (which doesn't include the global underlying population). In the case of Iran, it is as if the lessons of the recent past, and even of the ongoing present in Iraq, simply disappear, and similar imaginary 'threats' and misuse of supposedly neutral international bodies like the IAEA and its 'inspections' can be re-run in a miasma of hypocrisy. In fact, as we have noted, the situation has deteriorated, with the UN and EU now playing an active aggression-supportive role, following the U.S. lead in denying Iran its 'inalienable' rights under the NPT and making its pursuit of those rights into a criminalized 'threat to peace,' setting the stage for a more direct U.S. attack. [...]"

"CIA Secret Prisons Exposed"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 7 May 2006
"[...] In the Voice nearly two years ago, I quoted Jack Cloonan, a 27-year veteran of the FBI who, in New York, as senior agent on the FBI's bin Laden squad, headed the investigation of the master Al Qaeda strategist Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. Cloonan had been directing the interrogation of Mohammed in a once secret CIA interrogation center at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan (which Dana Priest exposed in The Washington Post). Concerned at the time about the network of still hidden CIA interrogation centers around the world, Cloonan asked: 'What are we going to do with these people when we're finished ... with them? Are they going to disappear? Are they stateless? ... What are we going to explain to people when they start asking questions about where they are? Are they dead? Are they alive? What oversight does Congress have?' Will the elite Washington press finally ask this question of presidential press secretary Tony Snow-and Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts? And especially George W. Bush at his next press conference? What are these American values, Mr. President, we stand for against the terrorists?"


"The Contest for Memory"
By Naima Bouteldja and Stuart Hodkinson
The Guardian, 17 May 2006
"In a political gesture that marks the beginning of a long-overdue apology for its role in what is arguably Europe's greatest collective crime, France has this month held its first national day of remembrance for the victims of slavery. The official commemoration stems from the historic events of May 23 1998, when 45,000 people, mostly descendants of enslaved Africans born in the Caribbean, silently marched on the Place de la Nation in Paris to mark the 150th anniversary of France's 1848 abolition of slavery. Ever since, France has experienced an outpouring of public debate about her colonial past. This period has been painful and divisive, not least because of the discrimination that still afflicts migrants and their descendants from the former French empire. To its credit, the French government has contributed to a 'policy of memory' through its plans to open museums and spaces dedicated to the history of immigration in Paris, Marseille and Lyon. However, many of these initiatives would be more welcome if this policy didn't also include an insidious attempt to rehabilitate France's bloody colonial past as a largely heroic passage in the nation's history to which its people owe their gratitude -- a process that has gone much further than the more tentative steps in the same direction in Britain. [...]"


"Africa Climate Change 'Could Kill Millions'"
By John Vidal
The Guardian, 15 May 2006
"Developing countries must wean themselves off oil and fossil fuels and turn as quickly as possible to solar, wind and water power if they are to avoid disastrous climate change effects and continue to develop, says Christian Aid in a report. The development group argues that a shift from fossil fuels to clean energy could result in more jobs and better health and education, and reduce pressure on resources. But if the world's dependence on oil continues, it says, climate change will devastate poor countries. It estimates that up to 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa could die of diseases directly attributable to climate change by the end of the century. Many millions more poor people throughout the world face death, disease and penury if nothing is done, due to climate-induced sea level rises, floods, famine, drought and conflict. The warmer and wetter conditions largely predicted for the tropics under climate change scenarios will make diseases such as malaria, dengue, cholera and Rift Valley fever more prevalent and could spread them to higher ground. ... the report recognises that a major shift to renewables needs a revolution in thinking by rich countries. "This report shows the devastating impact that human-induced climate change will have on many of the world's poorest people," said climate scientist Sir John Houghton."


"France Remembers Slavery Victims"
BBC Online, 10 May 2006
"France is holding Europe's first national day of remembrance for the victims of slavery. Wednesday's day of commemoration has been ordered by President Jacques Chirac, who says the stain of slavery on history must not be forgotten. He will attend a special ceremony in the nation's capital designating 10 May as Slavery Remembrance Day. Events will also be held in France's ex-colony Senegal, from where African slaves were shipped to the Caribbean. On 10 May five years ago, the French Senate passed a law recognising slavery as a crime against humanity. Hundreds of thousands of slaves were taken by French ships from Africa to plantations in the Caribbean before France banned the practice in 1848. ... Cities across France will hold ceremonies and activities to mark the day. The city of Nantes on the Atlantic coast, where many of France's slave ships originated, will hold a moment of silence. Museums and libraries in Paris will also hold special events showing off contemporary manuscripts and artefacts. 'It was imperative that slavery be given a place in our collective memory,' said Marcel Dorigny, a history professor who helped institute Slavery Remembrance Day. 'French people who are the descendants of slaves have felt marginalised -- forgotten by history.' [...]"

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ