Monday, May 29, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
May 18-29, 2006
Last post for the summer!

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


"'Genocide' Debate Angers Turkey"
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC Online, 19 May 2006
"A controversial vote in the French parliament has been called off, averting a diplomatic crisis with Turkey, at least temporarily. The French National Assembly was due to vote on a bill put forward by the opposition Socialists that would make it illegal to deny what France already recognises as the Armenian genocide of 1915. The bill recommends up to five years in jail for offenders and fines of up to 45,000 euros (£30,600). The proposal provoked fury in Turkey, which roundly refutes claims that Armenians were systematically massacred during the final years of the Ottoman Empire. Armenians say up to 1.5 million people were killed in what is now eastern Turkey, and campaign fiercely around the world for Ankara to recognise what Armenia calls the first genocide of the 20th Century. Turkey says a few hundred thousand died in a war which also left many Turks dead. Ankara mounted its own campaign against the French bill -- and many here will see the stalled vote as at least partial victory. In a sign of its significance for Turkey, almost the entire debate in France was carried live on two private television channels. [...]"

"French MPs Shelve 'Genocide' Vote"
BBC Online, 18 May 2006
"The French parliament has postponed debate on a bill that would make it a crime to deny that the mass killing of Armenians in 1915 was 'genocide.' Turkish officials and businesses had lobbied French MPs to shelve the bill, which relates to a thorny issue still plaguing Turkish-Armenian relations. Turkey rejects Armenia's claim that the Ottoman Turks killed 1.5m Armenians. The French Socialist opposition wanted a new law to impose fines in line with those for Holocaust deniers. Anyone denying that six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in World War II can be fined up to 45,000 euros (£30,600) and be jailed for five years in France. Armenia says up to 1.5 million Armenians were deported and died at the hands of the Ottoman rulers in World War I. Turkey says a few hundred thousand died in a war which also left many Turks dead. Ahead of the debate, Turkish MPs had been lobbying their French counterparts, warning of irreparable damage if the bill passed into law. It was set to be a free vote for French MPs, but President Jacques Chirac said that passing the bill would be a mistake. Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy agreed, telling the National Assembly: 'The Armenian cause is just and should be defended and respected. But the bill you have submitted today would, if passed, be considered as an unfriendly gesture by a large majority of Turks, whether you want this or not.' ... The French bill will now be shelved until October at the earliest. [...]"
[n.b. The French for "cowards" is "couards," in case you were wondering.]


"Focus Shifts to Police as Brazil Deaths Rise"
BBC Online, 19 May 2006
"On Monday night, 22-year-old Ricardo Flauzino went to meet his fiancee in Jardim Filhos da Terra, a working-class neighbourhood on the northern outskirts of Sao Paulo. She was arriving by bus, and as always Ricardo waited at the top of some steep steps overlooking the road. Moments later he was set upon by a group of heavily-armed men, who shot Ricardo several times in the back and head. Local residents say the killers were police officers. 'They were hooded and wearing dark shirts over their uniforms,' says a 35-year-old man who, like everyone here, prefers not to give his name for fear of reprisals. ... Residents say the assailants were then seen removing their overshirts, before returning in full police uniform, ostensibly to investigate the shooting. 'They were asking who shot Ricardo,' recalls a young woman. 'But we all knew they had done it. It's not fair. He was a hard-working boy and was due to marry in July.' ... In the week since the wave of violence in Sao Paulo began, the police have killed 107 suspects, according to statistics produced by the state government. By comparison, in the final three months of 2005 officers shot dead 65 people. ... Human rights groups say the police are carrying out what appear to be revenge attacks, in response to the deaths of 41 officers at the hands of the First Command of the Capital (PCC), a crime faction controlled from within state prisons. [...]"

"Investigate Deaths in Gang Violence: Police Accused of Summary Executions"
Human Rights Watch press release, 18 May 2006
"The government of São Paulo state must ensure a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation into the 138 deaths reported in the recent clashes between criminal groups and the police, Human Rights Watch said today. Those found responsible should be prosecuted. On Tuesday, the São Paulo police appeared to have regained control following four days of violent prison riots and attacks by criminal gangs on the civilian and military police in that state. Since then, allegations reported in the media and presented to the police ombudsman claim that many of the killings may have been summary executions by the police, and that some victims were innocent bystanders. 'A thorough investigation of all the deaths is crucial to establish the truth and maintain confidence in the police,' said Paulo Mesquita, Human Rights Watch researcher on Brazil. 'The state must ensure independent inquiries that will lead to successful prosecutions, no matter who the perpetrators are.' Police say the 138 victims include 41 police officers and prison officials and at least four civilians. Thirty–eight of those suspected of taking part in the attacks were killed between Monday night and Tuesday morning, when police regained control of the city. Another 22 were reported killed on Wednesday, the day after the commander general of the military police declared that the 'hunt is still on.' 'Heinous attacks on police or civilians cannot justify summary executions by police,' said Mesquita. [...]"

"Sao Paulo's Police Accused of Pursuing Revenge Strategy Against Criminal Gangs"
By Tom Phillips
The Guardian, 18 May 2006
"[...] The bloodshed, extraordinary even for one of South America's most violent countries, began last Friday with attacks by gang members on police, launched in apparent retaliation for the transfer of 765 jailed members of the PCC or First Command of the Capital drug faction to a maximum security prison. Revolts followed in more than 70 prisons where hundreds of hostages were taken. In a press conference on Tuesday one of the city's top policemen admitted 'the police had gone on the offensive,' killing at least 33 suspects that day. 'People have gone as far as saying that the criminals would receive plasma TV screens,' said Marco Desgualdo, head of Sao Paulo's civil police, in a reference to a supposed deal struck with the rebelling prisoners. ... The head of the military police, Elizeu Borges, said any rise in the number of people killed by his troops was because they were 'killing those who dare to confront us.' Some security experts say such language is effectively giving officers the green light to carry out summary executions. 'It is not only a licence [to kill], it's really an active encouragement,' said Ignacio Cano, from Rio de Janeiro's state university. 'The way this is interpreted in the ranks is that they should go out and get even ... The need to restore honour actually seems more important than the protection of citizens.' Mr. Cano said he feared a new set of 'moral boundaries' was being broken, with police being accused of targeting the families of members of the gang thought to be behind the attacks. [...]"


"The Deadliest War in the World"
TIME Magazine (on, 28 May 2006
"In Congo, a nation of 63 million people in the heart of Africa, a peace deal signed more than three years ago was supposed to halt a war that drew in belligerents from at least eight different countries, producing a record of human devastation unmatched in recent history. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) estimates that 3.9 million people have died from war-related causes since the conflict in Congo began in 1998, making it the world's most lethal conflict since World War II. By conventional measures, that conflict is over. Congo is no longer the playground of foreign armies; the country's first real election in 40 years is scheduled to take place this summer, and international troops have arrived to keep peace. ... But the suffering of Congo's people continues. Fighting persists in the east, where rebel holdouts loot, rape and murder. The Congolese army, which was meant to be both symbol and protector in the reunited country, has cut its own murderous swath, carrying out executions and razing villages. Even more deadly are the byproducts of war, the scars left by years of brutality that disfigure Congo's society and infrastructure. The country is plagued by bad sanitation, disease, malnutrition, corruption and dislocation. Routine and treatable illnesses have become weapons of mass destruction. In many respects, Congo remains as broken, volatile and dangerous as ever, which is to say, among the very worst places on Earth. [...]"


"Croatia: Funding the Generals"
By Goran Jungvirth
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 22 May 2006
"It wasn't just football chants ringing from the terraces when 45,000 fans gathered earlier this month at the Maksimir stadium. And they had more on their minds than the footballing fate of Croatian champions Dynamo Zagreb. Almost as important as the match itself was the chance for supporters to show their support for a man they consider a national hero. Singing 'Ante Gotovina is hiding in our hearts,' the capacity crowd gave freely to a newly-established fund to defend Croatia's favourite general, who is facing trial for war crimes in The Hague. With Gotovina's 10-year-old son looking on, Dynamo Zagreb donated all the earnings from the game to the Foundation For Truth About the Homeland War. The foundation was set up earlier this year and says its aim is to support the legal defence of Gotovina and other Croatian defendants at the Hague tribunal, as well as to publicise the view that Zagreb’s role in the Croatian conflict was no more than legitimate national defence. The foundation is run by lawyer Ivan Curkovic, who has been joined on the board by folk singer Miroslav Skoro, lawyers Igor Zidic and Ante Zupic and two Croatian diaspora representatives. With the 150,000 euro income from the football match, the total raised by the foundation so far comes to more than 300,000 euro. The money is a testament to the continued popularity of Gotovina -- who is widely viewed by Croatians as a hero for leading the 1995 operation known as Operation Storm to regain Serb-held territory. That popularity has not diminished since Gotovina was captured last year while hiding in the Canary Islands, and even appears to be growing as his trial approaches in The Hague. [...]"


"Butchery and Bloody Revenge Stalks World's Newest Country"
By Nick Meo
The Times, 27 May 2006
"The evidence of East Timor's worst atrocity in a week of escalasting violence was strewn across an attractive street lined with coconut palms in Dili, the capital, yesterday: discarded women’s shoes, bloodstains, brass cartridge cases and a lump of human brain. The day before, as the bloodletting spiralled out of control before Australian peacekeeping troops moved in, ten police officers had been massacred on the street by a Timorese soldier with a machinegun. Two dozen others were wounded. The policemen had surrendered after the Army had attacked their police station nearby. They were shot dead as they left, under UN escort, with their hands in the air. Small groups of refugees hurrying through the deserted, shuttered streets paused for a moment at the site of the killings. As they swapped tales of horror a man raced past pursued by another brandishing a machete. The hunted man escaped on the pillion of a motorbike. ... Many in the tiny, impoverished tropical nation of one million fear that they are on the brink of a confusing civil war that seems to be pitting everyone against everyone else. It was triggered when 600 members of the 1,400-strong East Timorese Army were dismissed last month for going on strike, claiming that troops from the east of the country were suffering discrimination. Rival police and army factions have been doing battle since, joined by gangs of the disgruntled. The stories traded by frightened residents were as bad as those from the violent final days of Indonesian occupation in 1999. The charred corpses of a woman and her five children were discovered in the home of a government minister who had been attacked by a mob. The woman, who was clutching a daughter when she died, was said to be a relative of a prominent rebel commander. [...]"

"ETAN on the Current Violence in Timor-Leste"
East Timor Action Network press release (on, 27 May 2006
"[...] Statements by Australian government leaders that providing security assistance entitles them to influence over Timor-Leste's government are undemocratic, paternalistic, and unhelpful. Who governs Timor-Leste is a decision to be made by its people within its constitution. Key countries -- including those now sending troops and police -- must examine their roles in relation to the new nation, including the training provided to Timor-Leste's security forces. Australia bears special responsibility for Timor's underdevelopment by refusing to return revenues, totaling billions of dollars, from the disputed petroleum fields in the Timor Sea, including Laminaria-Corallina, and by bullying Timor-Leste into forsaking revenues that should rightfully belong to it under current international law and practice. As in 1999, we must not forget that the Australian government's actions have contributed to the situations their peacekeepers have now been sent to correct. Australia should not view its current assistance to Timor-Leste as a favor, to be repaid, but instead as a partial repayment for the debt Australia owes the Timorese people for its help during WW II and for Australia's deep complicity in Indonesia's invasion and occupation. ... We wonder if international and Timorese failures to ensure justice have led some in Timor-Leste to believe that their own use of violence would be met with similar impunity. As described in the recent report of Timor-Leste's Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), several countries -- among them U.S., U.K., and Australia -- bear a special responsibility to ensure justice and accountability due to their action and inaction from 1975 on. Reparations, as called for by the CAVR, would help alleviate the poverty and joblessness that have fueled some of the unrest. [...]"


"Ethiopia Genocide Ruling Delayed"
Reuters dispatch on, 23 May 2006
"An Ethiopian judge has postponed a verdict in the 12-year genocide trial of former ruler Mengistu Haile Mariam until January, saying the court needed more time to assess new defense evidence. Former Marxist ruler Mengistu, who has lived a lavish but reclusive life in exile in Zimbabwe since being overthrown in 1991, has been tried in absentia in Addis Ababa since 1994. He is accused of killing tens of thousands of people during a 17-year rule. 'The trial has been adjourned until January 23, 2007, due to the overwhelming evidence presented by the accused, the court needed more time,' President judge Medhin Kiros said Tuesday. Many Ethiopians hoped the verdict would draw a line under one of the darkest periods in their country's turbulent history. ... In the so-called 'Red Terror' campaign in 1977-78, suspected opponents were rounded up, executed by garroting or shooting and their bodies thrown into the streets. About 40 members of Mengistu's 'Dergue' junta have also been tried in Addis Ababa. Twenty more are being tried in absentia. They could be sentenced to death if found guilty of crimes against humanity and genocide, which Ethiopia defines as intent to wipe out political and not just ethnic groups. [...]"


"French Court to Try Rwandan Genocide Cases"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in, 29 May 2006
"A French appeals court has overturned a decision to dismiss the cases of four Rwandan genocide survivors who accuse the French army of rape and murder, their lawyers said Monday. In December, a French military prosecutor opened an inquiry into the claims but immediately threw out the cases of four of the six Rwandan plaintiffs, arguing that they could not prove they had suffered personal harm. But the Paris appeals court ruled that all six cases were receivable, a move hailed by lawyers who accuse the prosecution of obstructing the trial. The six plaintiffs, all Rwandan Tutsis aged between 25 and 39, accuse French soldiers of complicity 'in genocide and/or crimes against humanity' during the 1994 killing spree, which claimed some 800,000 lives. They accuse the troops of rape and murder and of allowing Rwandan government forces and Hutu extremists to enter refugee camps under their protection -- charges strongly denied by the French armed forces. The French troops were in Rwanda operating under a United Nations mandate to create a secure humanitarian area in the country's south west. A French investigating magistrate travelled to Rwanda in November to hear the plaintiffs, but the military prosecutor refused to accept the testimony she gathered during her trip, citing procedural reasons. That decision is also being appealed, with a ruling due in July."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Former President Romeo Lucas Garcia Dies at 81", 29 May 2006
"[...] An army general, Lucas Garcia was elected president in July 1978 and overthrown four years later by another general, Efrain Rios Montt. As president, Lucas Garcia launched scorched-earth campaigns that wiped out dozens of remote, largely Mayan Indian villages in an attempt to eliminate civilian support for leftist guerrillas battling the government during a 1960-1996 civil war. Some 200,000 people were killed or vanished during the 36-year conflict, the vast majority of them Mayan civilians. Rios Montt intensified the campaigns begun by his predecessor, and he and Lucas Garcia are widely considered the worst offenders in a war that saw thousands of human rights atrocities. According to a 1999 report by a U.N.-sponsored truth commission, the army and civilian militias commanded by soldiers carried out at least 45 massacres during Lucas Garcia's term. The commission found that Lucas Garcia and Rios Montt oversaw state-sponsored acts of genocide against Mayan Indians thought to be 'an actual or potential support base for the guerrillas' in four central and northwestern provinces. [...]"


[n.b. The following articles are provided in chronological sequence.]

"Iran Eyes Badges for Jews"
By Chris Wattie
National Post, 19 May 2006
"Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims. 'This is reminiscent of the Holocaust,' said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. 'Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis.' Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical 'standard Islamic garments.' The law, which must still be approved by Iran's 'Supreme Guide' Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims. Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth. 'There's no reason to believe they won't pass this,' said Rabbi Hier. 'It will certainly pass unless there's some sort of international outcry over this.' Bernie Farber, the chief executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said he was 'stunned' by the measure. 'We thought this had gone the way of the dodo bird, but clearly in Iran everything old and bad is new again,' he said. 'It's state-sponsored religious discrimination.' Ali Behroozian, an Iranian exile living in Toronto, said the law could come into force as early as next year. It would make religious minorities immediately identifiable and allow Muslims to avoid contact with non-Muslims. [...]"

"Experts Say Report of Badges for Jews in Iran is Untrue"
By Chris Wattie
National Post, 19 May 2006
"Several experts are casting doubt on reports that Iran had passed a law requiring the country’s Jews and other religious minorities to wear coloured badges identifying them as non-Muslims. The Iranian embassy in Otttawa also denied the Iranian government had passed such a law. A news story and column by Iranian-born analyst Amir Taheri in yesterday’s National Post reported that the Iranian parliament had passed a sweeping new law this week outlining proper dress for Iran’s majority Muslims, including an order for Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians to wear special strips of cloth. According to the reports, Jews were to wear yellow cloth strips, called zonnar, while Christians were to wear red and Zoroastrians blue. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre and Iranian expatriates living in Canada had confirmed that the order had been passed, although it still had to be approved by Iran’s “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect. Hormoz Ghahremani, a spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, said in an e-mail to the Post yesterday that, 'We wish to categorically reject the news item. These kinds of slanderous accusations are part of a smear campaign against Iran by vested interests, which needs to be denounced at every step.' Sam Kermanian, of the U.S.-based Iranian-American Jewish Federation, said in an interview from Los Angeles that he had contacted members of the Jewish community in Iran -- including the lone Jewish member of the Iranian parliament -- and they denied any such measure was in place. [...]"

"Ahmadinejad: Not Hitler After All"
By Jan Frel
AlterNet, 25 May 2006
"A now discredited article by Iranian-American and neocon chum Amir Taheri that appeared last Friday in the Canadian National Post suggested that new legislation in Iran would require Jews and other religious minorities to wear distinctive color badges. At the article's end appeared this invitation to readers: 'Dangerous Parallel: Is Iran turning into the new Nazi Germany? Share your opinion online at' The readers who wrote in immediately savaged the article, its author and the National Post's facile, transparent attempt to resurrect the Wermacht. No one took the bait, and the disbelief quickly spread across the internet. The swift rejection of this attempt to turn Iran into the Fourth Reich incarnate is surely a natural reflex of a public still smarting from the ordeal of the Iraq PR campaign. Another explanation for the rapid response is the massive growth in streams of alternative information available to the public -- organizations like Media Matters and PR Watch literally make their living exposing lies and propaganda as they are released through media and government channels. And then there are the bloggers who can singlehandedly get to the bottom of large-scale lies. In the case of the National Post story, blogger Taylor Marsh phoned the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which had confirmed Taheri's story after the report came out. A researcher Marsh spoke with on Friday 'was eager to confirm it, using words like "throwback" to the Nazi era, "very true" and "very scary." ... ' Marsh concluded with the pointed question, 'Who got the Simon Wiesenthal Center to stick their necks out on this bogus Iranian badge story, risking their very reputation and funding credibility, and who had what to gain by doing so?' [...]"
[n.b. This is the biggest black eye that the National Post, Canada's conservative daily, has ever suffered. The paper is managed by the strongly zionist Asper family, and was clearly predisposed to believe -- and publish -- the worst about Iran on the most feeble evidence, in fact none at all.]


"The Carnage in Basra"
By Patrick Cockburn, 18 May 2006
"One person is being assassinated in Basra every hour, as order in Iraq's second city disintegrates, according to an Iraqi Defence Ministry official. And a quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from malnutrition, a survey of 20,000 households by the Iraqi government and Unicef says. The number of violent killings in Basra is now at a level close to that of Baghdad, and marks the failure of the British Army's three-year attempt to quell violence there. Police no longer dare go to the site of a murder because they fear being attacked. The governor of Basra, Mohammed Misbahal-Wa'ili, is trying to sack the city's police chief, claiming that the police have not carried out a single investigation into hundreds of recent assassinations. The collapse of government authority in Iraq is increasing at every level and leaders in Baghdad have yet to form a cabinet, five months after parliamentary elections on 15 December. Insurgent attacks on American and British troops are also proving more lethal, with 44 US soldiers and seven British killed so far this month, and with daily losses exceeding anything seen for more than a year. Majid al-Sari, an adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, describing the situation in Basra to the daily al-Zaman, said that on average one person was being assassinated every hour. Militiamen and tribesmen are often the only real authority. ... The number of Iraqis killed as a result of violence receives some international attention, but many others, particularly young children, die because they are malnourished and vulnerable to disease. A quarter of all Iraqi children suffer from chronic malnutrition, according to an Iraqi government survey of more than 20,000 households, backed by Unicef's Iraq Support Centre. The number of children between six months and five years old suffering from acute malnourishment rose from 4 per cent in 2002, the last year of Saddam Hussein's rule, to 9 per cent in 2005, Unicef said. [...]"

"Dijail Attacks Linked to Saddam Trial"
By Nasir Kadhim
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 17 May 2006
"As former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein stands trial for a massacre he allegedly ordered in Dijail, residents of this largely Shia town claim they are being targeted in revenge attacks by former regime loyalists. Dozens of residents of Dijail, about 65 kilometres north of Baghdad in the Salaheddin province, have been abducted or killed in the last two months while travelling along the road to the capital. The attacks are widely believed to be connected to the case against Saddam and seven of his associates, who are charged with killing 148 people in the town in 1982 following a failed assassination attempt against the former dictator. The kidnappings and murders began in late March at makeshift roadblocks set up by insurgents near al-Mishahida, a village about 45 kilometres away which is a known centre of the Sunni Arab insurgency. The exact numbers of dead and missing are unknown. Some families are believed to have taken the bodies of relatives, found dumped on the road, straight to the Shia holy city of Najaf for burial, without registering the deaths with the town's police or coroner. However, Ahmed Latif, a Dijail police officer, estimates that around 20 people have been killed and perhaps 20 more kidnapped. Witnesses scheduled to give testimony at the trial received death threats before the trial opened began in February, and Dijail residents say the highway attacks are a continuation of the same policy of intimidation. The town was relatively stable before the trial began, but now many people have horror stories to tell about the road south. [...]"

"Poisoned Town Wants Saddam's Chemical Suppliers to Pay"
By Simon Ostrovsky
Middle East Times, 17 May 2006
"An X-ray of Kamil Abdel Qader's lungs show a lower third that is entirely scarred -- lasting damage from the poisonous gas that rained down on his Iraqi Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. Doctors say that he needs to get a fist-size chunk of tissue removed from his damaged lungs if he is going to survive, but he still considers himself the lucky one. The rest of his family of eight died as they fled the gas, some dropping before his very eyes as they tried to flee into the hills. Abdel Qader wants payback -- for his dead family, his shattered lungs and most of all for battered survivors of an attack that claimed 5,000 lives and destroyed a town. The Halabja Chemical Victims' Society, Abdel Qader's small non-profit organization, wants the companies and governments that helped ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein amass his stockpiles to pay compensation. The funds would go to the few hundred survivors of the attack that came in the waning days of the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988. Though Abdel Qader blames the attack on Saddam and the mastermind of a sweeping anti-Kurd campaign, Ali Hassan Al Majid, or 'Chemical Ali,' he said that commercial enterprises from around the world shared responsibility for helping arm the regime. 'We are trying to find the companies that helped the Iraqi government get chemical weapons for Saddam. We are trying to tell the world what happened here,' an emaciated Abdel Qader said as he sat cross-legged on a carpet in his home. The names of specific firms that sold Iraq the equipment and expertise needed to assemble its chemical arsenal have never been released. [...]"


"World Council of Churches Slams Israel"
By George Conger
The Jerusalem Post, 22 May 2006
"Israel bears the burden of responsibility for the present crisis in the Middle East, the World Council of Churches has announced, following a meeting of its Executive Committee in Geneva from May 16-19. The Christian Left's leading ecumenical organization stated Israel's actions towards the Palestinians 'cannot be justified morally, legally or even politically.' The failure 'to comply with international law' had 'pushed the situation on the ground to a point of no return,' they concluded. The WCC condemned the killing of innocent civilians by 'both sides' in the conflict and called for the Palestinians to 'maintain the existing one-party cease-fire toward Israel' and asked Israel to base its security on 'the equitable negotiation of final borders' with its neighbors. However, the present disparities between Israel and Palestine were 'appalling,' the WCC said. 'One side is positioning itself to unilaterally establish final borders on territory that belongs to the other side; the other side is increasingly confined to the scattered enclaves that remain. On one side there is control of more and more land and water; on the other there are more and more families deprived of land and livelihoods. On one side as many people as possible are being housed on occupied land; on the other side the toll mounts of refugees without homes or land. One side controls Jerusalem, a city shared by two peoples and three world religions; the other --Muslim and Christian -- watches its demographic, commercial and religious presence wither in Jerusalem,' the WCC said. The WCC claimed a double standard was at work in the international community that favored Israel, saying, 'The side set to keep its unlawful gains is garnering support from part of the international community. The side that, despairing at those unlawful gains, used legitimate elections to choose new leaders is being isolated and punished.' [...]"


"The Pentagon and the Japanese Mengele"
By Christopher Reed, 27-29 May 2006
"[...] Many people know of Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi SS 'Angel of Death' and a physician (though not chief medical officer) at Auschwitz from 1943-45. There, he deliberately infected prisoners with deadly diseases and conducted fatal surgeries, often without anesthetic. He escaped and lived in South America undiscovered until after his death at 68 in 1979 in Brazil. But who has heard of Dr. Shiro Ishii? He was the chief of Japan's well financed, scientifically coordinated and government approved biological warfare program from 1932-45. Ishii rose to general and supervised deliberate infection of thousands of captives with deadly diseases. He also conducted grotesque surgeries, but the unique medical specialty of Ishii and his surgical team were dissections, without anesthetic, on an estimated 3,000 live, conscious humans. In 1959, Ishii, a wealthy man, died peacefully at home in Japan at the age of 67. Why the discrepancy of knowledge about these two monsters ? After so long, why does it still matter? The answer to both questions lies in policies of secrecy and complicity that continue today. They should concern Japanese, of course, but also Americans. It is because of U.S. connivance in Japanese secrecy that Tokyo's biological war has yet to be fully disclosed. Its estimated 400,000 disease deaths, almost all Chinese, remain uncompensated. Japan, unlike Germany with its commendable atonement and billions of dollars in reparations, has yet even to apologize specifically for biological war victims, let alone pay compensation for suffering from its nationally driven medical torture program. On my desk are two documents previously marked Top Secret and dated July 1947. They show not only full U.S. participation in allowing the Japanese medical torturers who escaped to Tokyo to go free in exchange for information, but that the Pentagon actually paid them. [...]"


"Pope Bows Down for the Victims of Auschwitz, Killed by His Countrymen"
By Daniel McLaughlin
The Guardian, 29 May 2006
"With slow steps, Pope Benedict walked silently through the gates of Auschwitz death camp yesterday, to pray for the 1.5 million people murdered there by his countrymen during the second world war. After passing beneath the iron arch emblazoned with the lie 'work brings freedom,' the man who was unwillingly enrolled into the Hitler Youth and the Nazi army said he bowed before the victims as 'a son of the German people.' 'To speak in this place of horror, in this place where unprecedented mass crimes were committed against God and man, is almost impossible, and particularly difficult for a Christian, for a pope from Germany,' he told camp survivors and religious leaders. 'In a place like this, words fail. There is only a stupefied silence and a cry to God.' He insisted: 'I had to come here as a duty to truth and to those that suffered.' But, speaking in Italian, he also asked that ordinary Germans not be condemned for the crimes of Adolf Hitler and his 'group of criminals.' 'Our people were used and abused as a tool of their [the Nazis'] mania for destruction and domination,' the Pope said as the rain that had lashed his four-day tour of Poland gave way to blue skies. [...]"
[n.b. Hmmm ... does the claim that Germans were "used and abused" by the Nazis really cover it?]


"Russian Police Target Far Right"
By Nick Paton Walsh
The Guardian, 18 May 2006
"An elite undercover police unit is to be formed in St Petersburg to try to stop racist attacks on foreign students. A series of racially motivated murders has sullied the city's image. Foreign students, many of them African, are regularly targeted: last month Lamzar Samba, a Senegalese man, was shot dead outside a nightclub with a hunting rifle emblazoned with a swastika. Previous attacks include the fatal stabbing of a nine-year-old Tajik girl two years ago. Police had been accused of failing to investigate the attacks, but this week prosecutors announced officers would infiltrate far-right groups. But some foreign students were sceptical about to how effective the new units could be. Theo, an African student who witnessed Mr Samba's murder and other attacks, said: 'They could protect the dormitories where we live, but the killings don't happen there.' He said a law change was needed to introduce harsher punishments for racial murders. Desiree Deffo, head of the student group African Unity, said he would have to wait and see what the proposed group would exactly do before commenting. The city also said it would install a series of panic buttons in its main streets to enable worried tourists to get in touch with police immediately."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"UN Gives Senegal Habre Deadline"
BBC Online, 19 May 2006
"A UN panel has given Senegal 90 days to put former Chad President Hissene Habre on trial or send him to Belgium to face trial for alleged human rights abuses. The United Nations Committee Against Torture said Senegal had broken international human rights rules by not dealing with Mr Habre for 15 years. Last year, a Senegalese court ruled that it did not have the power to decide whether he should be extradited. Senegal then referred the case to the African Union, which is still to rule. Mr Habre is wanted in Belgium for alleged abuses committed under his rule between 1982 and 1990. Alleged victims filed complaints under Belgium's universal jurisdiction law, which allows judges in Brussels to prosecute human rights offences anywhere. Reed Brody of the lobby group Human Rights Watch, who also acts as a lawyer for Mr Habre's alleged victims, welcomed the UN panel's decision. 'This ruling means that Senegal cannot allow Hissene Habre to escape justice,' he said. 'The UN decision puts the law back into a case that was becoming a political soap opera.' [...]"


"UN: Somali Militias Could Face War-Crimes Charges"
Sapa-AP dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 29 May 2006
"Members of militias fighting for control of the Somali capital could face war-crimes charges for attempting to prevent the wounded and civilians from receiving assistance during the conflict, a United Nations official warned on Monday. The battle between fundamentalist Islamic militias and rival secular combatants has forced about 1,500 to seek treatment at Mogadishu's two main hospitals since the beginning of this year, said Eric Laroche, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. In the past several days, hundreds have fled Mogadishu to avoid the fighting that has killed at least 83 people since last Wednesday. 'Increasingly worrying reports from Mogadishu describe indiscriminate shelling of civilian populations and the city's medical facilities, with dozens dead in the last few days,' the UN said in a statement. 'Due to the intensity of the recent fighting, an increased number of civilian casualties have been unable to reach medical facilities.' He warned the warring factions 'that any deliberate attempt to prevent wounded or civilians receiving assistance and protection during fighting in the city may constitute elements of future war crimes,' according to the statement. [...]"

"Death Toll Soars as Fierce Fighting Engulfs Mogadishu"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 25 May 2006
"Heavily armed gunmen fought pitched battles in the streets of the lawless Somali capital on Thursday, rocking the city with a fresh surge in the deadliest violence it has seen in years. Islamic militia and fighters loyal to a United States-backed warlord alliance pounded southern and northern Mogadishu with heavy machine gun, rocket, artillery and mortar fire, sending the death toll soaring and hundreds fleeing for safety. At least 20 people were killed and 55 wounded in four residential districts where the fighting was most intense, according witnesses and hospital sources who stressed that the death toll could be far higher. ... Elders desperately tried to contact commanders from the factions to secure a ceasefire, but neither side appeared willing to relent and desperate residents sought shelter from indiscriminate shelling. 'Mogadishu is a ghost city that should be abandoned, people cannot live here in a civilised manner,' said Khadija Mohamud (50), who was leaving her home in the Medina enclave of south Mogadishu. 'We are fed up with this fleeing, this is the third time in a month I have been forced to leave,' said Nur Daud, a carpenter, blaming both sides for using excessive firepower that has claimed lives and property. [...]"

"U.S. Secretly Backing Warlords in Somalia"
By Emily Wax and Karen DeYoung
The Washington Post, 17 May 2006 [Registration Required]
"More than a decade after U.S. troops withdrew from Somalia following a disastrous military intervention, officials of Somalia's interim government and some U.S. analysts of Africa policy say the United States has returned to the African country, secretly supporting secular warlords who have been waging fierce battles against Islamic groups for control of the capital, Mogadishu. The latest clashes, last week and over the weekend, were some of the most violent in Mogadishu since the end of the American intervention in 1994, and left 150 dead and hundreds more wounded. Leaders of the interim government blamed U.S. support of the militias for provoking the clashes. ... Many of the warlords have their own agendas, Somali officials said, and some reportedly fought against the United States in 1993 during street battles that culminated in an attack that downed two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters and left 18 Army Rangers dead. ... 'George W. Bush, we welcome the Americans. But not to back warlords. We need the U.S.A. to help the young government,' said Isak Nur Isak, the district commissioner in Waajid. 'We won't drag any Americans through the street like in 1993. We want to be clear: We don't want only food aid, but we do want political support for the new government, which is all we have right now to put our hopes in. We can't eat if everyone is dead.'"


"Hotel Rwanda Manager Urges Action in Darfur"
By Charlotte Higgins
The Guardian, 29 May 2006
"The real hotel manager behind the film Hotel Rwanda has warned that a genocide on the scale of the one that wiped out 900,000 Rwandans could happen in Darfur. 'The refugee camps in Chad are just like those in which exiled Rwandans were living in 1993, without food, shelter or education,' Paul Rusesabagina told the Guardian Hay festival. 'And it was these people who in April 1994 went out on to the streets, took machetes, and killed people. Last year I went to Darfur and what I saw was exactly what I saw in Rwanda in the years 1990 to 1994,' he said. 'There were government-funded helicopters destroying villages. Militia armed by the government killing villagers. Two million people displaced and their homes completely erased.' Mr. Rusesabagina was a hotel manager in Kigali when the Rwandan genocide began in 1994. He saved the lives of 1,200 people, whom he sheltered in the Hotel des Mille Collines, an experience recounted in his autobiography, An Ordinary Man: the Story Behind Hotel Rwanda. The 2004 film, directed by Terry George, starred Don Cheadle as Mr. Rusesabagina. [...]"

"Canada Boosting Aid to Darfur by $40 Million", 23 May 2006
"The Canadian government is increasing aid by $40 million to the war-torn region of Darfur to provide humanitarian aid and bolster the peace process. 'We are helping to put Darfur on the road to recovery,' Prime Minister Stephen Harper said from Ottawa in a prepared speech. The money will be used to provide urgently-needed necessities, such as food, water and the delivery of medical care through the United Nations, the lead organization on the ground. It will also be used to aid in the peace process by helping the African Union to assist in the implementation of the Darfur peace agreement, Harper said. 'Make no mistake, our government is well aware that this will be a long and arduous process, one that will require an international effort,' Harper said. 'But we do believe that peace is possible, and normalizing and stabilizing the region is the all-important first step.' Harper made no mention of whether Canada will provide troops for a peacekeeping mission. He has previously said a Canadian deployment would be unlikely. The under-equipped African Union force has been trying to enforce a peace deal signed by the Sudanese government and the largest rebel group in Sudan on May 5. [...]"

"At Least 60 Killed in Recent Darfur Clashes"
By Alfred de Montesquiou
Sapa-AP dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 22 May 2006
"A new surge of interethnic and militia violence has killed at least 60 people in separate attacks in Darfur over the past few days, the African Union and the United Nations said on Sunday. The killings came ahead of an expected visit by top UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi on Tuesday. A former envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq, Brahimi is due in Khartoum to push for the government to accept a UN resolution voted last week that plans for UN peacekeepers to take over operations in this vast region of Western Sudan, the UN said. Most of the recent attacks were launched by the so-called Janjaweed, a disparate group of Arab militiamen who are blamed for much of the atrocities in a conflict that has killed more than 180 000 people and displaced 2,5-million since 2003. The Janjaweed are allegedly backed by the Sudanese government, which pledged to disarm them in the May 5 peace agreement signed in Abuja, Nigeria. The UN said in a statement on Sunday it had received unconfirmed reports that the Sudanese army had fought a Janjaweed group in Southern Darfur on May 18, killing six and arresting two. Sudanese authorities were not available to comment on the incident. The UN said the Sudanese army and police had stated they would disarm bandits in the zone. Nazir Tigani, a local militia leader, warned he would resist such a move, the UN said. [...]"

"Terror Link of Village Spared by Janjaweed"
By Xan Rice
The Observer, 21 May 2006
"[...] Under a tree in Um Jalbakh, a group of men gathered. 'We get protection from the government forces and we work with the government to provide security,' said Adam Hassan. When asked about reports of attacks by people from the village, he insisted no one had done anything wrong. But people in nearby towns and villages disagree. Now men from Um Jalbakh cannot enter the market in Tawilla, where they know they will be attacked. Instead, the women must brave the atmosphere of suspicion and hatred to buy essentials such as salt and sugar. ... 'They [the Janjaweed] have major psychological problems with this disarmament issue and perhaps they are right,' said an African Union commander at a briefing last week, as a government representative listened uncomfortably. 'They were given arms by the government and killed on its behalf. If they put down their weapons now while the rebels are still armed, then what will happen to them?' There is a very real fear that the Janjaweed, whose tribes were equally marginalised by Khartoum in the past, will turn on the government if they try to take their arms by force. There are already signs that Khartoum is trying to circumvent the process. A United Nations human rights official in Tawilla said he had evidence militia men were being brought into the army and police, something not in the peace agreement. 'There is no way the same government that gave out the weapons should be trusted to properly carry out the disarmament,' he said. 'No way.'"

"Darfur Effort Said to Face Collapse"
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times (on, 19 May 2006
"Jan Egeland, the chief United Nations aid coordinator, told the Security Council today that conditions in Darfur had deteriorated so drastically that the international assistance effort there faced collapse in weeks. 'The next few weeks will make or break,' Mr. Egeland said, reporting on a trip he made last week to Sudan and Chad. 'We can turn the corner towards reconciliation and reconstruction, or see an even worse collapse of our efforts to provide protection and relief to millions of people.' Among the immediate objectives he said had to be met were getting dissident groups to support a peace agreement that has been signed only by the government and the largest of three major rebel groups; providing immediate and substantial strengthening to the undermanned and underfinanced African Union mission now patrolling Darfur; taking concrete steps to integrate that force into a larger United Nations force; meeting international funding pledges for Darfur and re-establishing aid groups' access that he said represented a lifeline for close to four million people. ... Mr. Egeland said the Sudanese government had told him it would now lift restrictions on besieged aid workers that he said had effectively ended relief activities in large parts of the area. 'The attacks against relief workers have been relentless and are threatening our operations in many areas,' he said. 'Our staff, compounds, trucks and vehicles are being targeted literally on a daily basis.' He confirmed reports that the conflict had spilled across the border into Chad, where he said relief workers were being shot at, their trucks hijacked and displaced persons camps left 'utterly exposed.' Only 25 percent of the $179 million needed for Chad had been funded, he said, and the situation had become so fraught for Sudanese refugees who fled there to escape fighting that 13,000 of them had recently crossed back into their own country. [...]"

"Kofi Annan's Confession"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 19 May 2006
"[...] This genocide in Darfur, Jim Lehrer said to Annan, 'has been well known and reported all over the world. Why has it taken so long to stop this?' Annan answered: 'You can imagine my anguish as a human being and as an African -- an African secretary-general -- to see us going through this after what we went through in Rwanda. It's very painful and difficult to take.' He then described the way they 'operate and run this peacekeeping operation,' saying, 'It would be a bit like telling the fire department in Washington, D.C., that "We know you need a fire department, but we'll build you one when the fire breaks." Because it is when the fire breaks that we [at the U.N.] start putting together the army, we start collecting the money, to create an army that will go in.' Annan did not mention, though he knows it well, that in the U.N. Security Council, if one or more of the members with veto power has ideological or other reasons to refuse to start the fire engines, the fire keeps on spreading destruction. But then came the light in the international darkness. Annan went on to declare what may well be his most vital legacy -- if his successor agrees and will at least create worldwide opinion against members of the U.N. Security Council who keep feeding the flames of genocide by not allowing the U.N. to act. 'This is the built-in delay in the way we operate,' said Annan. 'And this is why when member states deem that it is extremely urgent to move quickly, they've tended to put together a coalition of the willing, a multinational force, outside the U.N. so that they can move quickly.' There should have been a coalition of the willing three years ago to bypass the United Nations and thereby save hundreds of thousands of lives of black Muslims in Darfur. Annan now has shown the way to make 'never again' mean something. [...]"

"Sudan Open to Discussing a UN Role in Darfur"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail and Guardian (South Africa), 18 May 2006
"Sudan is open to discussing a role for the United Nations in bringing peace to the troubled Darfur region following a recent peace accord, Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said on Thursday. 'The conclusion of a peace agreement created a new situation,' said Akol. 'The agreement made no mention of any group of countries or organisation except the African Union. But we, as representatives of the Sudanese government, are ready for dialogue with the UN about the role they could play in Sudan,' Akol told a news conference during a visit to Moscow. The UN Security Council has been pressing for UN peacekeepers to take over from an embattled contingent of AU troops in Darfur since the signing of a peace agreement in Abuja earlier this month. Meeting Akol on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the possible transformation of the peacekeeping mission into that of the UN 'must take place with the agreement of the Sudanese government and the AU.' Akol's visit was aimed at strengthening political and economic ties with Russia, which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has had friendly relations with Sudan."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Flight of the Child Soldiers"
By Zack Pelta-Heller, 19 May 2006
"Every night in northern Uganda, thousands of children trek from their bush villages to cities in search of refuge. If they stay at home, they risk being kidnapped, abused and forced to fight in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group led by Joseph Kony that has abducted more than 30,000 children and displaced 1.6 million people in the past 20 years. Most of the world has failed to notice this harrowing situation. Now it's the subject of a powerful new documentary called 'Journey Into Sunset,' which recently premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Directed by Rick Wilkinson and starring Don Cheadle, the film chronicles the plight of these brave children, also known as 'night commuters.' ... 'Journey Into Sunset' follows actor Don Cheadle, his wife and their two daughters through overcrowded urban shelters like Noah's Ark, where between 3,000 and 4,000 children sleep every night to avoid the LRA. The film is filled with haunting images of night commuters, ages 5-16, crammed into congested tents in cities plagued by AIDS and malaria. Cheadle conducts chilling interviews with children fortunate enough to have escaped the LRA's clutches. Clearly affected by post-traumatic shock, these kids recount -- in lurid detail -- how the LRA brainwashed them, then trained them to murder their own family members and friends. [...]"

"Genocide in Uganda: The African Nightmare Christopher Hitchens Missed"
By Daniella Boston
Huffington Post, 18 May 2006
"[...] Since 1986 the Ugandan civil war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. Over 25,000 children have been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and forced to kill their friends and relatives. Each night a terrible saga is played out when approximately 40,000 children flee their homes in the rural areas to escape abduction, torture, or murder by the LRA. These are northern Uganda's 'night commuters' or 'invisible children.' While Hitchens correctly presents the many atrocities committed by the murderous rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), led by the illiterate self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony, he neglects to address the role of President Yoweri Museveni and the Ugandan armed forces in perpetuating this ruinous war. This is a crucial omission. First, in fighting the LRA, Museveni's army has recruited and used child soldiers in violation of international laws. Government soldiers stand accused of various human rights abuses: widespread rapes, the killings of innocent civilians, the spreading of HIV/AIDS, and scorched-earth tactics, all of which have been well-documented by reputable international human rights organizations. ... Second, Hitchens erroneously claims that, having 'sought protection' from the LRA rebels, the approximately 1.5 million people who live in the squalid IDP camps of northern Uganda do so of their own volition. Not so. For the past ten years, residents of northern Uganda have been forcibly evicted by the government from their homes and herded into deplorable 'displacement' camps. These are the so-called 'protected villages' to which Mr. Hitchens refers. Not only have these 'protected villages' failed to provide security for those displaced by the conflict -- almost 10 percent of Uganda's population -- but the conditions in these camps are so horrific that they have been referred to as 'death camps' or 'concentration camps.' Due to rampant government corruption, humanitarian assistance earmarked for victims of the war is often stolen or misused. Neither the rebels nor the government appear to want the war to end. [...]"


"Top 10 Signs of the Impending U.S. Police State"
By Allan Uthman, 26 May 2006
"[...] 3. The USA PATRIOT Act. Did anyone really think this was going to be temporary? Yes, this disgusting power grab gives the government the right to sneak into your house, look through all your stuff and not tell you about it for weeks on a rubber stamp warrant. Yes, they can look at your medical records and library selections. Yes, they can pass along any information they find without probable cause for purposes of prosecution. No, they're not going to take it back, ever. 4. Prison Camps. This last January the Army Corps of Engineers gave Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root nearly $400 million to build detention centers in the United States, for the purpose of unspecified 'new programs.' Of course, the obvious first guess would be that these new programs might involve rounding up Muslims or political dissenters -- I mean, obviously detention facilities are there to hold somebody. I wish I had more to tell you about this, but it's, you know... secret. [...]"

"Amnesty Attacks US 'Disappearances'"
By Peter Walker
The Guardian, 23 May 2006
"The United States' reported use of secret CIA-run prisons for terrorism suspects amounts to a policy of 'disappearances,' human rights watchdog Amnesty International said today in its annual report. In a sometimes scathing assessment of Washington's rights record, the London-based group also raised serious concerns about detainees held without trial in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington had failed to bring to account those potentially guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity, it added. Britain also faced condemnation, with Amnesty saying the government had 'continued to erode fundamental human rights' through new anti-terrorism laws and the possible use of evidence obtained through the torture of suspects in other countries. The 238-page report for 2005 carries a lengthy catalogue of abuses in dozens of countries, with some of the most-criticised including China, North Korea, Zimbabwe and Russia. While Washington traditionally dismisses such complaints -- President Bush labelled last year's Amnesty report 'absurd' for likening Guantanamo Bay to a gulag -- it remains embarrassing for the US to be bracketed in such company. ... 'Despite evidence that the US government had sanctioned interrogation techniques constituting torture or ill-treatment, and "disappearances," there was a failure to hold officials at the highest levels accountable, including individuals who may have been guilty of war crimes or crimes against humanity,' Amnesty said. [...]"

"UN Watchdog Calls for Guantánamo Closure"
Staff and agency reports in The Guardian, 19 May 2006
"The US should shut Guantánamo Bay and give detainees access to a fair trial or release them, a UN human rights watchdog said today. The UN committee against torture voiced concern that detainees were being held at the camp for long periods without judicial scrutiny of the reasons for their detention, adding that Guantánamo detainees had insufficient legal safeguards. 'The state party should cease to detain any person at Guantánamo Bay and close the detention facility,' a committee report, published today, said. The committee -- part of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights -- expressed concern over allegations that the US had established secret prisons around the world at which the international Red Cross aid agency did not have access to detainees. The watchdog called on the US to ensure that nobody was detained in secret detention centres under its control and reveal the existence of any such facilities. ... Detainees at Guantánamo and other camps should not be returned to any countries where they could face a 'real risk' of torture, the committee added. The report said the US must 'take immediate measures to eradicate all forms of torture and ill-treatment' committed by its personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq. It called on Washington to investigate allegations thoroughly, prosecuting any personnel found guilty. [...]"

"CIA 'Torture' Lawsuit Thrown Out"
BBC Online, 18 May 2006
"A US court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a German citizen who says he was kidnapped and beaten by the CIA. Khaled el-Masri aimed to sue former CIA chief George Tenet and other officials for their alleged role in the 'extraordinary rendition' programme. Mr. el-Masri says he was picked up in Macedonia in 2003 and flown to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he alleges torture. The judge did not rule on the truth of the allegations, but said letting the case proceed might endanger security. Rights group the American Civil Liberties Union brought the case on behalf of Mr el-Masri -- who was never charged with any terrorist offences. Besides Mr. Tenet, the case named 10 other CIA employees, as well as three other companies and their employees. However, the district court judge in Virginia rejected the challenge, saying Mr el-Masri's 'private interests must give way to the national interest in preserving state secrets.' Lebanese-born Mr. el-Masri had demanded compensation and an apology from Mr Tenet and several other CIA figures. He has alleged he was beaten and injected with drugs after being seized near Macedonia's border with Albania, before being taken to Afghanistan and held for five months. [...] In his ruling, Judge TS Ellis stressed that by rejecting Mr el-Masri's lawsuit he made no judgement on the strength or otherwise of his allegations. ... 'In times of war, our country, chiefly through the executive branch, must often take exceptional steps to thwart the enemy.' [...]"
[n.b. Wonderful stuff from Judge Ellis, who would have been right at home in Stalin's USSR. Meanwhile, further vivid evidence that the rule of law in the United States has been suspended indefinitely.]

"Lawmaker: Marines Killed Iraqis 'In Cold Blood'"
By Jim Miklaszewski
NBC News (on, 17 May 2006
"A Pentagon probe into the death of Iraqi civilians last November in the Iraqi city of Haditha will show that U.S. Marines 'killed innocent civilians in cold blood,' a U.S. lawmaker said Wednesday. From the beginning, Iraqis in the town of Haditha said U.S. Marines deliberately killed 15 unarmed Iraqi civilians, including seven women and three children. One young Iraqi girl said the Marines killed six members of her family, including her parents. 'The Americans came into the room where my father was praying,' she said, 'and shot him.' ... Military officials say Marine Corp photos taken immediately after the incident show many of the victims were shot at close range, in the head and chest, execution-style. One photo shows a mother and young child bent over on the floor as if in prayer, shot dead, said the officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity because the investigation hasn't been completed. One military official says it appears the civilians were deliberately killed by the Marines, who were outraged at the death of their fellow Marine. 'This one is ugly,' one official told NBC News. Three Marine officers -- commanders in Haditha -- have been relieved of duty, and at least 12 Marines in all are under investigation for what would be the worst single incident involving the deliberate killing of civilians by U.S. military in Iraq. [...]"


"Andijan, Uzbekistan: One Year After"
By Stephen Schwartz
The Weekly Standard, 17 May 2006
"Last weekend marked the first anniversary of the horrific events at Andijan in Uzbekistan, a market town in the Ferghana Valley near the border with Kyrgyzstan, in Central Asia. There, a year ago, a protest by local folk against the antidemocratic policies of Uzbek ruler Islam Karimov -- a classic post-Communist who remains a totalitarian in his methods -- was met with bloody repression. The armed forces of the Uzbek state killed hundreds of people, chasing and slaying those who fled from the massacre. In the aftermath, the Uzbek authorities argued that the victims were Muslim extremists, followers of the Wahhabi cult financed by Saudi Arabia, and associates of a marginal radical-Islamist movement called Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT). As a close observer of the Uzbek scene, I was convinced then, and remain convinced now, that such claims are mere spin being used by the dictatorship to justify its atrocities. When the West reproached Karimov for this terrible act, he responded by evicting U.S. military forces from bases that had been established, it had always been said, with no strings attached. Marking the anniversary over the weekend, Karimov was welcomed at a resort on the Black Sea, by the world leader with whom he really feels the most in common: Vladimir Putin. This was a signal to the West that the strategy of justifying Karimov's tyranny by defaming those it kills as Islamist terrorists has failed; Karimov has opted to align with Moscow. [...]"


"Punjab Village Bucks Foeticide Trend"
By Asit Jolly
BBC Online, 17 May 2006
"A small, nondescript village in the central Doaba region of India's northern Punjab state has successfully turned the tide over the high number of male births. The village of Lakhanpal proudly stands out with nearly 1,400 girls born for every 1,000 boys, figures show. A recently published report says that it is the first time in several years that the female to male sex ratio has weighed considerably in favour of girl children. The report's findings are highly significant in a state that has the lowest ratio of female to male births in India, where female foeticide, though illegal, is routinely carried out. But the residents of Lakhanpal have every reason to celebrate. There are several key reasons put forward for the disproportionate number of girls in the village: successful efforts by local authorities to eradicate female foeticide, and a 'natural aberration' which has resulted in an unusually large number of girl children. Experts also say that because the number of babies monitored in the survey was relatively small, the birth ratio may well have evened out slightly if a larger number of people had been observed. [...]"

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