Thursday, September 28, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
September 21-28, 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

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"The Woman Who Defied the Taliban, and Paid with Her Life"
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent, 27 September 2006
"Safia Amajan promoted women's education and work -- a fairly ordinary job in most places -- but in the Afghanistan of a resurgent Taliban it was a dangerous path to follow. She was a target, and yesterday she was gunned down outside her home. Five years after the 'liberation' of Afghanistan by the US and Britain, with promises of a new dawn for its downtrodden women, her murder was a bloody reminder of just how far the country is slipping back into a land of darkness. Public figures, including the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, lined up to praise Ms Amajan. Yet this support was signally lacking while she lived. The former teacher worked in Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, and also the place where women have faced the most virulent discrimination and mistreatment. It is also where Nato forces are fighting a ferocious insurgency. Ms Amajan had asked for, and been refused, a protective vehicle, or bodyguards, despite repeated death threats. She was in a battered taxi when two gunmen on a motorcycle opened fire with automatic rifles. Her nephew, Farhad Jan, said: 'She died on the spot. There was no time to give her treatment.' ... A Taliban commander, Mullah Hayat Khan, declared that Ms Amajan had been 'executed.' He said: 'We have told people again and again that anyone working for the government, and that includes women, will be killed.' [...]"


"'Dirty War' Torture Witness Goes Missing"
By Tom Hennigan
The Times, 28 September 2006
"A search is under way in Argentina for a pensioner who has disappeared after giving evidence that led to the conviction of one of the country’s feared police chiefs for human rights abuses carried out during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. Relatives of Jorge Julio López, 77, fear that he was seized from his home in La Plata by current or former police officers seeking to intimidate witnesses in future trials. Señor López was a key witness in the trial of Miguel Etchecolatz, a former police commissioner sentenced last Tuesday to life in prison for his role in human rights abuses carried out during military rule. Señor López told the court that Etchecolatz tortured him in October 1976 and had executed a fellow prisoner. The trial was one of the first in Argentina since amnesty laws passed under pressure from the military in the 1980s were scrapped last year. 'We cannot rule out that he [Señor López] was kidnapped to intimidate other witnesses,' said Felipe Sol, the governor of Buenos Aires province, of which La Plata is the capital. 'He could be the first disappeared of democracy.' Señor Sol suspended 60 provincial police officers after the conviction of Etchecolatz, pending an investigation into their role in abuses committed in the past. [...]"


"Bosnian Serb Cleared of Genocide, Still Jailed", 27 September 2006
"The U.N. tribunal sentenced Bosnian Serb politician Momcilo Krajisnik on Wednesday to 27 years in prison for crimes against humanity committed during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. Judge Alphons Orie pronounced him guilty of murder, extermination, deportation, persecution and forced transfer of non-Serb civilians, but said Krajisnik did not have the specific intent necessary to be found guilty of genocide. Krajisnik, a former right-hand man to Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic, went on trial in February 2004 charged with genocide, complicity in genocide, crimes against humanity and violating the laws or customs of war. Krajisnik, captured by NATO-led peacekeepers near Sarajevo in 2000, pleaded not guilty to all counts. Defense lawyers had called for Krajisnik's acquittal, saying witness testimony against him was not credible. 'Mr. Krajisnik wanted the Muslim and Croat populations moved out of Bosnian-Serb territories in large numbers, and accepted that a heavy price of suffering, death and destruction was necessary to achieve Serb domination,' Judge Orie said. Krajisnik was one of the most senior politicians on trial in The Hague since the death earlier this year of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, just months before his marathon trial had been expected to conclude. Krajisnik, 61, headed the parliament of the breakaway Bosnian Serb republic during the war, and was part of the presidency together with Karadzic and former Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic. Plavsic, who admitted responsibility for atrocities in the Bosnia war and was jailed for 11 years in 2004, testified against Krajisnik earlier this year. Karadzic, who is still on the run, is charged with responsibility for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims and the brutal siege of Sarajevo."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Death Squad Policemen 'Killed Hundreds' in Revenge Attacks"
By Tom Hennigan
The Times, 23 September 2006
"Police in the Brazilian state of São Paulo summarily murdered scores of people in May during a wave of revenge killings for attacks by a criminal gang that left more than 40 police and prison officers dead. This will be the conclusion of an investigation by an independent commission that is due to report next month on the violence that rocked the South American industrial and financial centre between May 12 and 20. The week's events marked a new low in one of the world's most violent societies, where the police have a history of carrying out revenge attacks for the killing of their comrades. 'Taken together, these killings constitute the biggest police massacre in modern Brazilian history,' said Lúcio França, of the Brazilian Order of Lawyers and a member of the commission. The violence erupted when a prison gang known as the Primeiro Comando da Capital (First Command of the Capital, or PCC after its Portuguese initials) attacked the forces of law and order in response to the state government's policy of isolating its jailed leaders in maximum-security prisons. The scale of the PCC's offensive left in tatters the state's 'zero tolerance' crime policy, which was one of the main campaign planks of Geraldo Alckmin, who governed São Paulo until stepping down in May to run as the opposition candidate in the presidential election next weekend. [...]"


"Ramzan's World"
By Owen Mathews and Anna Nemtsova
Newsweek, 25 September 2006
"[...] The rest of the world may not have noticed, but Russia's president has won the Chechen war. He did not start it, but he prosecuted it with the full might of Russia's military. The conflict was as brutal as any Europe has known in the last century. Grozny was bombed flat, along with half of Chechnya's towns. Nearly a million Chechens were displaced; 80,000 were killed, mostly civilians, and thousands more disappeared into a nightmarish network of Russian 'filtration' camps, never to be seen again. There were atrocities, mass killings, the most flagrant of human-rights abuses. Yet all the while the Kremlin claimed that the conflict was little more than a police operation. Chalk up a victory for the politics of brutal repression. But if the war was costly in terms of blood and treasure, the 'peace' that the Kremlin has secured is not much less thuggish. It comes in the person of Ramzan Kadyrov, the handpicked 29-year-old prime minister of the new Chechnya. Kadyrov is a former rebel whom Moscow anointed as Chechnya's alpha warlord in May 2004 after the assassination of his father, President Ahmad Kadyrov. His brief: to pacify Chechnya by any means necessary. If Putin used divisions of artillery and 1,000-kilo bunker-busters to subdue the rebels, Kadyrov had another way. He got down and dirty, fighting -- and winning -- Chechen style. Those methods have been simple, violent and effective. At their core is the so-called Kadyrovtsy, a private irregular army of close to 10,000 former rebels who wear U.S. military fatigues and black T shirts with a portrait of their leader Ramzan. Their violence is less indiscriminate than the Russians' -- instead of emptying whole quarters of villages in search of guerrillas, for instance, Kadyrov's men target single households -- but more extreme. Tactics commonly include kidnapping family members as a way of persuading outlaws to give themselves up, according to the human rights group Memorial. [...]"


"Mobs Riot after Indonesia Executes Christians"
By Mark Forbes (with agency reports)
The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 2006
"Indonesian firing squads executed three Christian activists yesterday, ignoring international pleas to abandon capital punishment. The three were shot on the darkened runway of Palau Airport in Central Sulawesi province in the early hours of the morning. Amnesty International condemned the executions and expressed grave fears for the six Australian members of the Bali Nine and others on death row in Indonesia. It called on the Australian Government to take a leadership role to abolish death penalties across the region. Christian mobs rioted after the executions of Fabianus Tibo, Dominggus da Silva and Marinus Riwu, torching cars and homes and smashing windows in government offices. Church leaders took to the streets to call for calm and 4000 police were deployed to prevent clashes with Muslim communities. The executions, the first carried out in Indonesia for more than 15 months, indicate the administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono remains committed to enforcing death sentences. Many commentators claim the three Christian executions open the way for the executions of the three Islamic fundamentalist Bali bombers, Amrozi, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron. Authorities in Sulawesi fear the executions will reignite a simmering religious conflict which took more than 1000 lives in 1999 and 2000. The three Christians were convicted in connection with the killing of more than 70 men, women and children who had sought refuge in a school in the Central Sulawesi town of Poso in May 2000. At their trial, no witnesses testified to seeing any of them kill anyone. Strong doubts were raised about the fairness of their trial and there were allegations the sentences were driven by pressure from hardline Muslim groups. [...]"


"Killings by Shiite Militias Detailed"
By Solomon Moore
The Los Angeles Times, 28 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Iraq's two most deadly Shiite Muslim militias have killed thousands of Sunni Arabs since February, with the more experienced Badr Brigade often working in tandem with Al Mahdi army, collecting intelligence on targets and forming hit lists that Al Mahdi militia members carry out, a senior U.S. military official said Wednesday. In some cases, death squads have been accompanied by a 'clerical figure to basically run' an Islamic court to provide 'the blessing for the conduct of the execution,' the official said. The disclosures came during a U.S. intelligence briefing that included details about Shiite militia death squad operations and links to Iranian finance and weapons networks. The military official said there were corrupt Iraqi security officers who allowed Shiite militia members to kill Sunni Arabs in Baghdad neighborhoods that had been secured by joint U.S.-Iraqi military sweeps aimed at quelling sectarian violence. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, but was one of a series of high-ranking American officials who gave detailed briefings to reporters this week, at a time when the U.S. military is struggling to restore order to Baghdad and to press the Iraqi government to move decisively against Shiite militias. The Badr Brigade, the military wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq -- a member of the leading Shiite political bloc with 30 seats in parliament -- was responsible for most of the Shiite death squad killings last year, the official said. [...]"

"Civilian Deaths Soar to Record High in Iraq"
By Peter Beaumont
The Guardian , 22 September 2006
"Nearly 7,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in the past two months, according to a UN report just released - a record high that is far greater than initial estimates had suggested. As American generals in Baghdad warned that the violence could worsen in the run up to Ramadan next Monday, the UN spoke of a 'grave sectarian crisis' gripping the country. With known Iraqi deaths running at more than 100 a day because of sectarian murders, al-Qaida and nationalist insurgent attacks, and fatalities inflicted by the multinational forces, the UN said its total was likely to be 'on the low side' because of the difficulties of collecting accurate figures. In particular, it said that no deaths were reported from the violent region covering Ramadi and Falluja. The report from the UN assistance mission in Iraq's human rights office reported evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, the growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in 'honour killings' of women. The increasing incidence of discovery of the bodies of women and teenage girls, shot in the chest rather than in the head, has been attributed to the establishment by both extremist Sunnis and Shias of secretive sharia committees, which locals say carry out killings. In a separate development, Manfred Nowak, the UN's special investigator, said torture was 'totally out of hand' and might even be worse now than under Saddam Hussein. [...]"


"'Million Bomblets' in S. Lebanon"
BBC Online, 26 September 2006
"Up to a million cluster bomblets discharged by Israel in its conflict with Hezbollah remain unexploded in southern Lebanon, the UN has said. The UN's mine disposal agency says about 40% of the cluster bombs fired or dropped by Israel failed to detonate -- three times the UN's previous estimate. It says the problem could delay the return home of about 200,000 displaced people by up to two years. The devices have killed 14 people in south Lebanon since the August truce. The manager of the UN's mine removal centre in south Lebanon, Chris Clark, said Israel had failed to provide useful information of its cluster bomb strikes, which could help with the clearance operation. Last month, the UN's humanitarian chief, Jan Egeland, accused Israel of 'completely immoral' use of cluster bombs in the conflict. Israel says all its weapons and munitions, as well as their use, comply with international law. Mr. Clark said Israel fired up to 6,000 bombs, rockets and artillery a day into Lebanon during the 34-day conflict. He said more than 40,000 cluster bomblets had been cleared since the fighting ended on 14 August, but many more remained scattered 'in bushes, trees, hedges and wire fences.' Mr. Clark said information Israel had provided to help with the bomblets' clearance had been 'useless.' [...]"


"Report: Bombing of Gaza Power Plant War Crime", 27 September 2006
"The B'Tselem human rights group published Wednesday a report on the implications of the bombing of the power plant in Gaza on June 28th, 2006. Findings show that the majority of residents in the Gaza Strip are only intermittently connected to the power supply and that the power cut has adversely affected medical services throughout hospitals and clinics in the Strip. The report also found that the majority of the urban population is connected to the water supply for only two to three hours a day and that the sewer system in the Strip has virtually collapsed. In addition, the mobility of many of the residents has been hindered following disruption to the elevator service and the inability to refrigerate food supplies, thus exposing many to risk of food poisoning. ... The B'Tselem organization has determined that the IDF operation was illegal and that according to international humanitarian law it is deemed a war crime as it constitutes an attack on a clear civilian target, as well as being 'a banned collective punishment.' With regards to the operation's objectives, contends the report, it came in the wake of the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit and in response to the firing of Qassam rockets, and that it did not serve any military objective except for 'vengeance.' ... The report concluded that the Israeli government should launch a criminal investigation into the bombing of the power plant and bring all those responsible to justice. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the full text of the report (in MS-Word format).]


"Trial of Charles Taylor May Go Ahead in April 2007"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 22 September 2006
"The start of the war-crimes trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor is 'tentatively' set for April 2 2007, Judge Julia Sebutinde announced on Friday at a procedural hearing before the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) seated extraordinarily in The Hague. Taylor is seen as the single most powerful figure behind a series of civil wars in Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone between 1989 and 2003 that left around 400,000 people dead. He faces a total of 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Rwanda: Graft Threatens Gacaca Courts"
By Edwin Musoni
The New Times (Kigali) (on, 27 September 2006
"Cases of corruption among Gacaca judges (Inyangamugayo) constitute a threat to the smoothness of the community-based Tribunals, a top Gacaca official has said. Domitille Mukantangazwa, the Executive Secretary of the National Service for Gacaca Jurisdictions told The New Times yesterday that corruption had eaten into some Gacaca courts, and that the government was moving in fast to curb the vice. Last week, a panel of six Gacaca judges in Nyamasheke, Western Province, was arrested on charges of taking a bribe from a suspect. A similar incident was reported in Rulindo district, Northern Province, where Police is holding three people including the president of a Gacaca tribunal, Benjamin Sengabo. Sengabo, who was heading the Gacaca court of Gatsinza cell in Bushoki Sector, and two others were on September 15 arrested for allegedly receiving Frw3, 000 from a resident in exchange for a biased ruling. Similar cases are also reported in several other parts. And, a couple of days ago, survivors in the Southern Province threatened to go on a sit-down strike in protest of the increasing corruption cases in Gacaca courts. However, Mukantaganzwa warned that stringent measures would be taken against culprits and those encouraging the vice. 'We have such problems but we have put in place stringent measures against such people; that is why we have successfully managed to trap all those who participated in that dirty game' said Mukantaganzwa She emphasised that the malpractice would be defeated since 'we have established a good partnership with the locals at the grassroots.' The Gacaca courts were reintroduced to help solve a backlog of genocide cases and to decongest prisons. A big number of those appearing before the local courts are out of prisons, and all of them fall within the second and third categories of genocide suspects."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"U.S. Says Kosovo Unstable, Needs Clarity This Year"
By Shaban Buza, 27 September 2006
"The breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo is not stable and its future must be resolved this year, a United States envoy said on Wednesday. 'We must move ahead now,' U.S. Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Daniel Fried told reporters in the provincial capital Pristina. '... the present situation is not inherently stable,' he said after meeting leaders of Kosovo's pro-independence ethnic Albanian majority. The comments reflect concern in the West that delaying a decision into next year on whether to grant the United Nations-run province independence risks fresh violence. 'The people of Kosovo deserve greater clarity and as we approach the end of the year I suspect they will get greater clarity,' he added. Russia, Serbia's traditional Orthodox ally in the U.N. Security Council, has cautioned against 'artificial deadlines' -- insisting Serbia and the Kosovo Albanians be given time to reach a negotiated settlement in talks that began in February. Washington and the major European powers are pushing for a decision this year. They instructed U.N. mediator Martti Ahtisaari last week to draw up his proposal, which Western officials say could be submitted to both sides by November. Diplomats say independence is the likely outcome, but will almost certainly be rejected by Serbia. [...]"


"Through Lens in Darfur, 'I Was a Witness to Genocide'"
By Rick Hampson
USA Today, 28 September 2006
"As an admiral's son and a former Marine officer, Brian Steidle believed that following orders and doing the right thing were one and the same. Then he went to Darfur. As an official international monitor of the vicious conflict in western Sudan, he faced a choice: respect authority and honor a code of silence or show the world what he'd seen and kiss his career goodbye. He puckered up ... and blew the whistle. 'I was a witness to genocide,' he says. 'I wanted to make a difference.' Since returning last year from Darfur, where he was a U.S. representative on an African Union observation team, Steidle has become the most vivid chronicler of one of the world's worst humanitarian catastrophes. His photographs -- which were supposed to be for his superiors' eyes only -- have helped make Americans care about a complex crisis in a faraway place of little economic or strategic value. Jerry Fowler of the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington says Steidle 'has given people images of Darfur they can hold onto': a soldier standing next to the store he's just torched; a military helicopter firing on a village; a baby with a bullet in her back. ... 'Brian told a story others could not,' says David Del Conte, an American humanitarian worker who met Steidle in south Darfur. 'He moved Darfur onto the front page. He saved thousands of lives.' [...]"
[n.b. A new take on the old saw: a picture is worth a thousand lives.]

"Harper Pushes for UN Role in Sudan"
By Daniel LeBlanc
The Globe and Mail, 28 September 2006
"[Canadian] Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a push for a large UN role in war-ravaged Sudan at the 11th summit of the Francophonie on Thursday. Mr. Harper said that the world needs to do more in the east African country, where fighting between rebels and government-backed militias has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced 2.5 million. 'We must act to save a desperate population, it's the responsibility to protect,' Mr. Harper said. The United Nations has called it the world's worst humanitarian disaster, and Mr. Harper said the world body has to take over the responsibility to bring peace to the area, over the objections of the Sudanese government. 'We want to promote the reform of the justice system, rebuild a security system, reduce the traffic in arms, and reinforce the institutions of government and community life. The government of Sudan will have to handover the responsibility for the African Union mission in Sudan to the United Nations at the start of the new year, under African command,' Mr. Harper said. The Sudanese government recently applied to join the Francophonie, but its candidacy was rejected because of the country's poor human rights record. Over the weekend, Sudanese President Omar El Bashir refused the proposal to deploy a UN peacekeeping mission in the Darfur region. [...]"

"A Possible Compromise For Darfur"
By Alfred de Montesquiou
Associated Press dispatch on, 26 September 2006
"The United Nations and Sudan are discussing the deployment of U.N. military advisers to reinforce African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, in a possible compromise in their standoff over the war-torn region, officials from both sides said Tuesday. Sudan has fiercely opposed allowing a beefed-up U.N. peacekeeping force in Darfur, despite resolutions from the Security Council that call for one. Khartoum instead has urged a strengthening of the African force already there. But Baha Elkoussy, a U.N. spokesman in Sudan, said the two sides were negotiating over sending U.N. advisers 'to facilitate the deployment of the AU.' 'There are ongoing discussions to provide the AU force with support, pending a future decision from the U.N. Security Council,' he told The Associated Press. He would not elaborate. But other U.N. officials in Sudan, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks, said the proposal was to send more than 100 U.N. military advisers and dozens of police and civilians to reinforce the AU mission. The Sudanese government's top official on Darfur, Majzoub al-Khalifa, suggested in an interview that Khartoum was willing to accept such a compromise. 'There is a third way ... why not let the U.N. place its men, command expertise and materiel at the service of the AU mission,' al-Khalifa said. Elkoussi said U.N. personnel were ready to be sent to Darfur in the coming weeks 'as soon as there is a solid agreement with the (Sudanese) government.' [...]"

"Darfur: Three Years of Carnage; 200,000 Dead; 2.5 Million Displaced; One Question ..."
By David Usborne
The Independent, 24 September 2006
"Western leaders vowed this weekend to stop the violence in the Darfur region of Sudan as they left New York after the annual United Nations opening conclave. But once again they were unable to summon any agreement on how exactly they mean to do it. Their paralysis was on display late on Friday at a special UN Security Council meeting convened by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State. 'The violence in Darfur is not subsiding: it is getting worse,' Ms. Rice said. ... Yet the meeting, attended also by African and Arab countries, broke up with no one able to say with confidence that the action Ms Rice speaks of will be forthcoming any time soon. And all the while, the news from Darfur worsened. UN monitors reported new bombing raids on villages in northern Darfur and incidents of sexual assault and harassment further south. After three years of carnage, which has left at least 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, there was a shared recognition that Darfur can no longer be neglected. Lord Triesman, the British minister for African affairs, who attended the meeting, told The Independent on Sunday that domestic political pressure to intervene has become irresistible. 'The images of Rwanda 10 years ago are too powerful for this to go on any longer,' he said. But the Western powers, though they will not say so publicly, are stymied. The Security Council may have agreed this summer to deploy a blue-helmeted peacekeeping force in Darfur to put a stop to the violence, but -- at the behest of China, Sudan's most important friend among the big powers -- it included a disastrous caveat: the government in Khartoum must accept the force before it goes in. Thus the Security Council handed Khartoum a veto, which it is exercising with grim relish. [...]"

"AU Says Plans to Increase Troop Strength in Darfur"
By Cynthia Johnston, 24 September 2006
"The African Union plans to send more troops into Sudan to reinforce its extended Darfur peacekeeping mission, an AU spokesman said on Sunday. 'Seven thousand troops are not enough to deal with implementation of the DPA,' Noureddine Mezni said in reference to the Darfur Peace Agreement signed between the Sudanese government and one Darfur rebel faction in May. 'It will be a matter of battalions. I cannot specify how many battalions we are going to bring, but we are going to increase the number of troops,' he added. A battalion is usually composed of 600 to 800 soldiers. The African Union's mandate in Darfur had been set to expire on September 30 and the pan-African body said it could not continue beyond October because it was out of money and needed more equipment such as helicopters. The United Nations had hoped to send 20,000 soldiers and police into Darfur to replace the AU forces, which have been unable to stem the fighting that has killed an estimated 200,000 people and forced 2.5 million from their homes since 2003. ... Noureddine said more troops were also needed to bolster the operation in the arid region the size of France. 'We have additional tasks. It is important to increase the number. We are working on that,' he said, adding if approved troops could begin deploying within a matter of weeks. The soldiers would come from countries already contributing troops in Darfur -- Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa and Senegal. [...]"

"Time Running Out for Darfur -- US"
BBC Online, 23 September 2006
"US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has accused Sudan of failing in its responsibility to protect its own citizens in the western Darfur region. Speaking at a meeting organised on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Ms. Rice said time was running out. She hinted that, should Sudan continue to refuse access to UN peacekeepers, 'other measures' were available. Sudan's government vehemently opposes such a force, arguing that there is a hidden agenda to weaken the country. The violence in Darfur is not subsiding, it is getting worse,' Ms. Rice said. 'If the notion of our responsibility to protect the weakest and most powerless among us is ever to be more than an empty promise, then we must take action to save lives.' The US administration has described the crisis in Darfur, in which 200,000 people may have died and more than two million people have been displaced, as genocide. Earlier this week, US President George W. Bush named an envoy whose role will be to pressure Khartoum to allow a UN peacekeeping force into the country. The African Union, whose 7,000 soldiers correspondents say are ill-equipped and underfunded, voted this week to extend its mandate, due to run out at the end of the September, for a further three months. [...]"

"A Band-Aid for Darfur's Wounds"
By Lynda Hurst
The Toronto Star, 22 September 2006
"[...] Despite Bush's strong words at the UN this week and the appointment of a special envoy to Sudan, Washington has been sending a contradictory message to Khartoum, say critics, because it wants its active help in the fight against terrorism. John Prendergast, senior adviser at the International Crisis Group, points out that the regime's security chief, the man believed to be the architect of the ethnic-cleansing campaign in Darfur, has paid a visit to CIA headquarters in Virginia. It is one of a series of 'deadly mistakes' made by the U.S. on Sudan, he argued. Another crucial error: Although the U.S. crafted a Security Council resolution last year authorizing targeted sanctions, it has since imposed them on only one regime official, a retired air force commander. Prendergast said it left Bashir 'with the correct impression that there will be no accountability.' If the AU mission pulls out on Dec. 31 and isn't replaced the morning after by UN peacekeepers, it won't be Bashir alone who has that impression."

"U.N. Rights Monitors Accuse Sudan of Bombing Darfur"
By Stephanie Nebehay, 22 September 2006
"U.N. human rights monitors on Friday accused Sudan's army of bombing villages in North Darfur, killing and injuring civilians, and forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes. 'People talk about this white plane and bombs being dropped out of the back of the plane. This is a recurrent feature of reports of attacks on villages,' U.N. human rights spokesman Jose Luis Diaz told a briefing in Geneva. 'All indications are this kind of attack is continuing.' The U.N. monitors' latest report, covering the first half of September, comes as Sudan is under pressure to allow 20,000 U.N. troops to deploy in its arid west to replace 7,000 African Union troops whose mandate was extended until the end of the year. Under-funded and poorly equipped AU forces have been unable to stem the violence, which analysts say has increased since a May peace deal between one rebel faction and the government. Diaz said survivors told U.N. human rights monitors of bombings near Tabarat in North Darfur around September 9-10, which drove some 400 people into the Rwanda camp for the displaced. 'Civilians in villages in North Darfur are forced to flee due to indiscriminate aerial bombardment by government aircraft who are waging a campaign against movements that haven't signed the peace agreement,' Diaz said. Analysts say all sides of the 3 1/2-year-old conflict are looking to gain territory and solidify their positions before the arrival of U.N. troops, which if deployed in Darfur would have an expanded mandate to enforce the peace. [...]"

"Outnumbered African Force to Stay On in Darfur"
By Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor, 22 September 2006
"The people of Darfur won't be totally left to their own devices amid marauding militias and the Sudanese government's bombing campaign, now that the mandate of the African Union force -- originally set to expire next week -- has been extended through the end of the year. But Sudan's acceptance of the three-month extension may turn out to be just a fig leaf as the government continues its fight against rebels, and pro-government militias pursue deadly harrassment of civilian populations in the vast region, US officials and other experts say. If the Sudanese government accepted an extension of the AU mandate, they add, it is because the undermanned and outgunned African force has been largely ineffective at curtailing the violence -- violence the government has stoked over past weeks. The goal of the international community continues to be deployment of a larger and better-equipped United Nations force to Darfur. But with the government of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir balking, getting the already-approved UN force on the ground will take even more intense international pressure, analysts say -- including from China, which has extensive commercial ties to the energy-producing country. 'Extension of the African Union force is a positive development, because without that we faced the prospect of hundreds of thousands of people with absolutely no defense,' says Marie Clarke Brill, acting co-executive director of Africa Action in Washington. 'But that can't let the international community off the hook: Either they move ahead quickly to get the UN force deployed, or countries find another way to get peacekeeping forces on the ground.' [...]"

"Sudan's Genocidal General Wins the Delaying Game!" (Animation)
By Mark Fiore
The Village Voice, 21 September 2006
[n.b. Priceless.]


"Turkey: EU Says Ankara Must Come To Terms With Past"
By Ahto Lobjakas
RFE/RL, 27 September 2006
"The European Parliament today said it is 'indispensable' for Turkey, together with Armenia, to come to terms with its past and reiterated its call for Ankara to acknowledge the mass killings of Armenians of 1915-18 as 'genocide.' The parliament toned down its original report, removing a reference to the recognition of the 'Armenian genocide' as a 'condition' for Turkey's entry into the EU. The author of the report, Dutch Member of the European Parliament Camiel Eurlings, said it was 'indispensable' for Turkey to come to terms with its past. 'Officially, formally, recognition is not a criterion [for accession], which is the truth, but it is indispensable for a country on the road to membership to come to terms with its past,' Eurlings said. 'So, let the message not be misunderstood. We really urge Turkey, together with Armenia, to get over the past.' The European Parliament said it 'reiterates its call on Turkey to acknowledge the Armenian genocide, as called for in previous European Parliament resolutions.' Eurlings said the change in the report was necessary to make it 'fairer.' He said that formally, recognition of the mass killings as genocide cannot be held to be a criterion for EU entry as no other candidate country has had to recognize it. The change of wording follows a heated debate in the European Parliament on September 26, in which Turkey’s supporters accused skeptics of using the Armenian issue as a proxy weapon to block Turkey's accession. [...]"
[n.b. Note that Armenia as well as Turkey is encouraged "to get over the past."]

"Judge Throws Out Charges Against Turkish Novelist"
By Nick Birch
The Guardian, 22 September 2006
"Turkey's best-known woman novelist was acquitted yesterday of 'insulting Turkishness' in the latest case to draw attention to the limitations of freedom of speech in Turkey. The judge cleared Elif Shafak on the grounds of lack of evidence, following an unexpected demand by the prosecutor for her case to be dropped. 'I'm very happy with the outcome,' the author said from the hospital where she has been staying since giving birth last Saturday. 'Writers should be answered in writing, not treated like armed criminals.' The charges stemmed from remarks made by an Armenian character in Shafak's novel The Bastard of Istanbul, published in March. 'I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives at the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915,' Dikran Stamboulian says, referring to the controversial topic of the mass murder of Armenians in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. 'It was an absurd reason to start a trial and a very sensible way of ending it,' said Shafak's husband, Eyup Can, outside the heavily guarded Istanbul courthouse. Shafak was the latest public figure targeted by a group of nationalist lawyers using the notoriously vague article 301 of Turkey's penal code. Protesters linked to the group had attacked novelist Orhan Pamuk when he went on trial last December. [...]"


"Peace Versus Justice in Uganda"
By Katy Glassborow
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 27 September 2006
"[...] A year after the arrest warrants were issued [against various members of the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA], following his own approach to the ICC, [Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni] unilaterally offered amnesty to the LRA in return for an initial ceasefire and an eventual comprehensive peace deal. He has promised that none of the rebel leaders will be sent to The Hague -- raising problems for the ICC, which does not have its own police force and which was depending on the Ugandan army to find and arrest the rebels. Some ICC officials and non-government organisations believe Museveni has toyed with the court, cynically undermining its credibility. The 102 countries, including Uganda, that have signed up to the ICC entered a solemn and binding agreement under international law and cannot, as a matter of convenience, simply opt out of holding to account individuals accused of terrible crimes. 'Museveni is acting in contravention of international law,' Judge Richard Goldstone, former chief prosecutor of both the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, told IWPR. 'His government signed the [ICC's founding] 1998 Rome Statute, and offers of amnesty violate the letter of the law.' Goldstone added that the ICC cannot be used opportunistically, 'like a convenient hot water tap that can be turned on or off.' However, Ugandans, particularly those in the north directly affected by the conflict, are frustrated by the amount of time the arrest warrants have been in the public arena without any arrest being made. ICC critics say that after two decades of war there is at last a real chance for peace across the three countries most affected by the conflict -- Uganda itself and neighbouring Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC. They feel that the international community should therefore not be doing anything that might stop the local peace initiative. Ugandan human rights lawyer Barney Afako said the fundamental question to be answered is whether the intervention of international justice is prolonging the conflict or hastening its solution. 'Justice needs to be justified in terms of lives,' Afako told IWPR. He asked how many more Acholi would need to be slaughtered before the ICC is in a position to try the LRA leaders, and went on, 'The [international] criminal justice system is isolated from the moral consequences of its intervention.' [...]"
[n.b. An important, in-depth report on one of the most serious and fascinating conundrums in international law.]

"Some Wounds Too Deep to Heal in People Battle-Scarred by 20 Years of War"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Sydney Morning Herald, 23 September 2006
"[...] The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for five of the army's leaders. Joseph Kony, the self-styled 'spirit guide' who has led the army for 20 years, has been charged on 33 counts. He is accused of abducting tens of thousands of children, forcing the boys to become child soldiers and the girls sex slaves. The world is keen to see Kony and his fellow leaders taken to The Hague in the Netherlands to face justice. But Kony's victims think otherwise. Instead of justice in a faraway land, they would prefer army fighters to face traditional Acholi justice at home, known as mato put, meaning blood atonement. Much is at stake. For the United Nations and supporters of the court, revoking the indictments would be seen as a defeat for international law. But Ugandans fear that if the indictments remain, Kony and the army's leadership will refuse to surrender. 'If Kony goes to The Hague, he has TV, flushing toilet,' said Mr Otto. 'The man will be better off than when he was in the bush. Here, he would have to publicly apologise for all the crimes under his leadership. There are victims here who are saying: "Yes, I lost my lips, I lost my arm, but I forgive." Who is the ICC to say no?' The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, has offered Kony an amnesty and pledged to protect him from the court if a peace agreement is signed. While international arrest warrants have been produced for the army's leadership, people in northern Uganda are beginning to ask when the Government will face justice for the crimes committed by its own soldiers. This has not been a one-sided war. Human rights groups have uncovered thousands of cases of abuses committed by Uganda's government forces. [...]"


"Nation Remembers 1941 Babi Yar Victims"
Wire reports in The Los Angeles Times, 28 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Bells gently tolled as Ukrainian and foreign dignitaries commemorated the 65th anniversary of the Nazi massacre of Jews at a ravine known as Babi Yar on Kiev's outskirts, placing flower-encircled candles at the foot of a giant monument. At least 33,771 people were killed in 48 hours. In the following months the number topped 100,000. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Israeli President Moshe Katsav led the solemn procession behind an honor guard of Ukrainian soldiers carrying a garland of white flowers. Hundreds of mourners watched, many of them Jews who had traveled from around the world."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Outcry over Toxic Waste Widens as Death Toll Rises"
The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 September 2006
"Ivory Coast has asked Estonia to detain a Panamanian-registered tanker after an eighth person died from exposure to toxic waste unloaded from the vessel and dumped in the West African country last month. Officials from the French embassy said toxic matter recovered from the 13 sites where it was dumped in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan would be shipped for disposal in France. The chief of staff to the Justice Minister said two French executives of the Dutch-based oil-trading firm that chartered the vessel, Trafigura, had been charged under toxic waste and poisoning laws and had been remanded in custody. Tens of thousands of people made sick by toxic fumes sought medical care for vomiting, stomach pains and other symptoms. The Government's slow reaction to the crisis so enraged Ivorians that the cabinet was forced to resign. In a letter sent to the Estonian Environment Minister, the judge heading the Ivorian Government investigation commission, Fatou Diakite, asked Estonia to take 'all measures to immobilise the ship Probo Koala.' 'The aim is to have at our disposal the ship and its crew because we think they can give us the information we need for our inquiry,' Judge Diakite said. Greenpeace activists are blockading the ship in the Estonian port of Paldiski and demanding a European inquiry. [...]"


"Students Walk Across U.S., Pass Through Q-C"
By Steven Martens
Quad-City Times, 28 September 2006
"A group of college students is walking the highways of America to educate people about genocide and what they can do to stop it. The students are participating in the Journey for Humanity, a walk across the country that began in Los Angeles on June 27 and is scheduled to end Oct. 30 in Washington, D.C. Along the way, the students are participating in rallies and meeting with elected officials to talk about genocide, including the current situation in Darfur, Sudan, that has claimed the lives of 400,000 civilians, according to the group. The issue is personal for the students -- Edward Majian, 22, Vahe Abovian, 30, Hasmig Tatiossian, 23, Albrik Zohrabyan, 23, Levon Sayadyan, 24, and Sarkis Nazaryan, 28 -- who are of Armenian descent. From 1915 to 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were killed in Turkey. Majian said the Turkish government still refuses to acknowledge the deaths happened. Majian said the purpose of the walk is to remind people that genocide is not just part of history. 'As we walk, there is genocide going on in Darfur today,' he said. 'People think it will never happen again, but the fact is that it is happening now.' Tatiossian said news reports have not adequately explained to the American people what is going on in Darfur, and that schools also should do a better job of educating young people about the issue. 'It's not taught as a problem that is taking place in the world,' she said. [...]"


"West Bars Arab Bid at IAEA to Rap Israel Atom 'Threat'"
Reuters dispatch, 22 September 2006
"Western nations foiled a bid by Arab and Islamic states on Friday to declare Israel's reputed nuclear arsenal a threat that must be removed in a politically charged vote at a U.N. atomic watchdog meeting. Canada sponsored a 45-29 'no-action' ballot that prevented International Atomic Energy Agency member states from voting on a motion demanding Israel use atomic energy only for peaceful purposes and help set up a Middle East nuclear arms-free zone. But the gathering voted 89-2 for a milder resolution on Israel, also initiated by Arab states, 'affirming the urgent need for all states in the Middle East to accept full-scope IAEA safeguards on all their nuclear activities.' Israel neither admits nor denies having atomic weapons but most experts believe it has about 200 nuclear warheads. Feverish negotiations failed to dissuade Arab delegates from pushing the two resolutions to a vote due to heightened resentment over Israel's battering of south Lebanon in war with Iranian-backed Hizbollah guerrillas. Diplomats said many Arabs were fuming at the West's perceived slowness to stop Israel's heavy bombing of Lebanon that killed mainly civilians before an August 14 ceasefire imposed by a U.N. Security Council resolution. 'The (Western) blocking manoeuvre is astonishing when innocent blood has not yet dried in Lebanon,' said Syrian delegate Ibrahim Othman. He said Israel's exclusive nuclear might in the region caused a destabilising imbalance of power. The United States, European and other Western allies combined to stifle the 'threat' resolution. They said it was politically divisive and undermined the IAEA's traditional consensual approach. Israel said a regional nuclear arms-free zone was a noble idea in principle but dangerous for it so long as some neighbors continued not to recognize the Jewish state, with Iran openly calling for its destruction. 'Current realities in the Middle East ... force Israel to entertain no illusions. The fundamental goal as in other regions is attaining peace with security and stability, not arms control per se,' said Israel Michaeli, Israel's envoy to the IAEA. [...]"


"Peace Operations in Crisis"
By Olivia Ward
The Toronto Star, 25 September 2006
"Calls for troops for Afghanistan are falling on deaf ears. The United Nations is struggling to keep a fragile peace in Lebanon. Thousands of international troops are authorized for blood-spattered Darfur, yet few believe they will arrive in time to stop massive slaughter. 'If the notion of the responsibility to protect the weakest and most powerless among us is ever to be more than an empty promise, then we must take action to save lives,' U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told an emergency meeting on Darfur last week. Conflict in Darfur is the world's festering sore, even though the UN authorized a 20,000-strong peacekeeping mission to relieve understaffed and underfunded African Union troops already there. The AU yesterday offered to send more soldiers with a tougher mandate to protect civilians, an option Sudan's government prefers to a UN force. But as demand for peace missions rises, and the supply of ready troops and administrators falls short, worldwide peace operations are in crisis. The UN is poised to boost its peace forces by 40 per cent, stretching its operational capacity and its troop contributors to the breaking point. 'When you talk about finding troops to deploy, we're in trouble,' says Beth Cole De Grasse, a senior program officer for the United States Institute of Peace. 'Add on the other layers of reconstructing countries and we're up the creek with one broken paddle.' From 1999 to 2005, the number of UN peacekeepers rocketed from 12,700 to 60,300, with mandates to deploy a record 90,000 blue helmets. Even that record is shattered, says Bruce Jones, series editor of New York University's Annual Review of Global Peacekeeping Operations 2006. 'When the review came out, we described peacekeeping operations at the UN as in a state of overstretch. But since Darfur and Lebanon, the total would be well over 120,000, and the total ... staff for all the UN mandates would be about 140,000. It's obvious we're in real trouble.' [...]"


"Genocide He Wrote"
By Alexis Soloski
The Village Voice, 25 September 2006
"Even allowing that your play concerns mass murder, it's rather daring to kill off your main character in the first two minutes. But that's how Catherine Filloux begins Lemkin's House, an afterlife-set biography of Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term genocide. After his fatal heart attack, Lemkin finds himself in a crumbling manse. He attempts to relax with New York Times crosswords and a spot of home repair, but must contend with the Hutus, Tutsis, Bosnians, and Serbs who beset his living room. His mother, gassed in the concentration camps, also appears. Lemkin had believed that the law he lobbied so tirelessly for, rendering genocide an international crime, would end such bloodshed. He learns, however, that though the U.S. passed his law in 1988, becoming the 98th country to do so, genocide shows little sign of ceasing. Lemkin had thought the law might serve as epitaph for the 50-odd family members he lost in the pogroms and in World War II. He's saddened to discover what an ineffectual memorial he's made. 'I can see,' he says wryly, 'that Lemkin's law is just another bad Polish joke.' Catherine Filloux, who has written four plays about the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, researched her subject impeccably but lent her play a dreamlike tone that offsets any dryness or didacticism. Yet she has afforded it a somewhat lopsided structure—nearly all of those who assail Lemkin are Rwandan, with just a bit of Bosnia tossed in at the end and throwaway mentions of Cambodia and Darfur. She does, nevertheless, script penetrating dialogue and brief, affecting scenes, ably staged by director Jean Randich and the fine cast. Lemkin may despair, 'When I was alive I was haunted by the dead. Now I'm dead and I'm haunted by the living.' But this play should haunt, and possibly inspire, much of the audience as well."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. I saw "Lemkin's House" on the same day this article was published. It is an exceptional piece of theater that avoids many of the pitfalls one might expect in a treatment of this subject: sentimenality, preachiness, holier-than-thou posturing. And kudos to the very versatile and inspired cast. I recommend the play to anyone who's able to catch it before it ends its current run. Link to ticket information.]


"Breaking Chains of Hidden Past"
By Karen Palmer
The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 September 2006
"Even in the dank and dim corners of Elmina castle, behind half a metre thick whitewashed walls made of stone, the sound of the ocean crashing on the shore can still be heard. For nearly 400 years that ocean pounding the west coast of Africa carried millions of its people, packed tightly in ships, to the Americas for a life of labour, humiliation and cruelty. As Ghana marks its 50th anniversary of independence next year -- the first African country to cast off its colonial ruler -- it will conduct an unprecedented tourism campaign aimed at black people scattered across the globe by the slave trade. Project Joseph is an invitation to black people to reconnect with the land of their ancestors -- and it comes with an apology, not from the countries most commonly associated with slave masters or slave traders, but from Ghanaians themselves. 'The reason why we wanted to do some formal thing is that we want to be seen to be saying sorry to those who feel very strongly, and who we believe have distorted history, because they get the impression that it was people here who just took them and sold them,' said Emmanuel Hagan, director of research and statistics at Ghana's Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations. 'It's something we have to look straight in the face and try to address because it exists. So we will want to say something went wrong, people made mistakes but we are sorry for whatever happened.' [...]"

"Cosby: Let's All Give $8 Each to Build Slavery Museum", 22 September 2006
"Bill Cosby on Friday called on each American to contribute $8 to help build a national slavery museum amid the battlefields of the Civil War. Cosby, who already has committed $1 million to the project, joined Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder on Friday in launching a new campaign to raise $100 million toward the Fredericksburg museum's $200 million price tag. 'The incentive is that they would join in with the rest of the United States of America in saying yes, as an American, I gave $8 to help build something that tells the story,' he said in a teleconference with Wilder. In a nation of some 300 million people, even a tepid response would surpass the $100 million goal, Cosby said. He admitted this kind of campaign 'generally fails badly. But I'm going to try again because I'm going to present this national slavery museum as a jewel that's missing in a crown.' The campaign marks the latest attempt at fundraising for the U.S. National Slavery Museum, a project in the works for more than a decade. Wilder struggled to find a location before settling on a site near the Rappahannock River, a region where many Civil War battles were fought. For Wilder, $8 has symbolic significance in a campaign to create what is billed as the first national museum dedicated solely to telling the story of American slavery. 'The figure 8, in shape, is both of the shackles, which is the symbol of slavery,' said Wilder, a former Virginia governor and the grandson of slaves. He thought up the museum concept during a visit to Goree Island, the infamous slave shipping post in West Africa. 'If you turn it on its side, it's the symbol of infinite freedom,' he said. Wilder said the museum has about $50 million on hand."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. So where do I send my $8??]


"U.S. Gets 'Sovietized'"
By Eric Margolis
Toronto Sun (on, 26 September 2006
"In the late 1980s, I was the first western journalist allowed into the world's most dreaded prison, Moscow's sinister Lubyanka. Muscovites dared not even utter the name of KGB's headquarters, calling it instead after a nearby toy store, 'Detsky Mir.' I still shudder recalling Lubyanka's underground cells, grim interrogation rooms, and execution cellars where tens of thousands were tortured and shot. I sat at the desk from which the monsters who ran Cheka (Soviet secret police) -- Dzerzhinsky, Yagoda, Yezhov, Beria -- ordered 30 million victims to their deaths. Prisoners taken in the dead of night to Lubyanka were systematically beaten for days with rubber hoses and clubs. There were special cold rooms where prisoners could be frozen to near death. Sleep deprivation was a favourite and most effective Cheka technique. So was near-drowning in water fouled with urine and feces. I recall these past horrors because of what this column has long called the gradual 'Sovietization' of the United States. This shameful week, it became clear Canada is also afflicted. We have seen America's president and vice president, sworn to uphold the Constitution, advocating some of the same interrogation techniques the KGB used at the Lubyanka. They apparently believe beating, freezing, sleep deprivation and near-drowning are necessary to prevent terrorist attacks. So did Stalin. [...]"

"Torture is a Moral Issue"
The Nation, 23 September 2006
"As religious leaders in Connecticut we are deeply concerned, indeed horrified, that Congress is poised to legalize torture. Earlier this week, at a press conference at Hartford Seminary, we spoke in one voice to say emphatically: No torture anywhere anytime -- no exceptions. We joined our voices with those of national religious leaders in the National Religious Campaign Against Torture who published an advertisement signed by national figures in Washington's Roll Call on the same day. We are compelled to speak again because the just-announced Republican 'compromise' threatens to compromise the rule of law and the laws of God. Torture is a moral and legal issue; it is also a profoundly religious issue, for it degrades the image of God in the tortured and the torturer alike. Our moral compass is swinging wildly. To tolerate, or worse decriminalize, torture jeopardizes the soul of our nation. If we were not to raise our voices in outrage at this time, the very stones would cry out. [...]"

"Our Torturer-in-Chief"
By Rosa Brooks
The Los Angeles Times (on, 22 September 2006
"[...] True, one man's degradation may be another man's idea of a rousing good time. But unless the administration is claiming that U.S. detainees are grateful for the opportunity to wear dog collars and be dragged around on leashes, 'degrading treatment' isn't a terribly vague concept in practice. And are there people -- other than psychopaths -- who honestly can't figure out whether repeatedly suffocating a prisoner while pouring water over his mouth and nose is cruel or inhuman? If in doubt, take any of the 'alternative' methods that Bush wants to use on U.S. detainees and imagine someone using those methods on your son or daughter. If the bad guys captured your son and tossed him, naked, into a cell kept at a temperature just slightly higher than an average refrigerator, then repeatedly doused him with ice water to induce hypothermia, would that be OK? What if they shackled him to a wall for days so he couldn't sit or lie down without hanging his whole body weight on his arms? What if they threatened to rape and kill his wife, or pretended they were burying him alive? What if they did all these things by turns? Would you have any problem deciding that these methods are cruel? Behind the antiseptic talk of 'alternatives,' 'dietary modification' and 'stress positions' lie methods designed to break human bodies and human minds. Legally and morally, many of the alternative interrogation methods championed by our president are torture, plain and simple. And there is no doubt at all that they're cruel, inhuman and degrading. That's what the president is so worried about. He knows, too well, that the practices he authorized or ordered violate Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention. The recent Supreme Court decision in Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld made that explicit, but the court's holding shouldn't have come as a surprise. It only confirmed what most legal scholars (and military lawyers) have been telling the White House for years. [...]"

"The Pro-Torture Pact"
By Ari Berman
The Nation, 22 September 2006
"Democrats chose to outsource their policy on military tribunals to John McCain. And McCain did what he's done best the last year: capitulate to Bush. 'Senators Snatch Defeat From Jaws of Victory: US to be First Nation to Authorize Violations of Geneva,' Georgetown University law professor Marty Lederman writes of the so-called 'compromise' between Senators McCain/Graham/Warner and President Bush. Says Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office: 'The proposal would make the core protections of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions irrelevant and unenforceable. It deliberately provides a "get out of jail free card" to the administration's top torture officials, and backdates that card nine years. Also under the proposal, the president would have the authority to declare what is -- and what is not -- a grave breach of the War Crimes Act, making the president his own judge and jury. This provision would give him unilateral authority to declare certain torture and abuse legal and sound. In a telling move, during a call with reporters today, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley would not even answer a question about whether waterboarding would be permitted under the agreement. The agreement would also violate time-honored American due process standards by permitting the use of evidence coerced through cruel and abusive treatment. We urge lawmakers to stand firm in their commitment to American values and reject this charade of a compromise.' Adds the Washington Post editorial page: 'In effect, the agreement means that US violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent.' [...]"

By Alexander Dryer, 22 September 2006
"[...] On the surface, the senators seem to have beaten back President Bush's efforts. The Los Angeles Times certainly plays it that way, calling the agreement a 'major concession' on Bush's part and citing the approval of at least one major human rights group. But the New York Times explains that while the Bush administration agreed not to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, an international treaty, the senators agreed that the War Crimes Act, a domestic law, should define what constitutes 'grave breaches' of the conventions. As for less serious violations of the conventions ('those lying between cruelty and minor abuse,' as the Post puts it), the senators agreed Bush should be given the authority to judge the conventions' 'meaning and application.' (He will have to publish his interpretation, but details remain sketchy.) In short, the deal seems to be redefinition once removed, and the Post indicates that may have been all the McCain side wanted from the beginning. The 'biggest hurdle' in negotiations, the paper reports, 'was convincing administration officials that lawmakers would never accept language that allowed Bush to appear to be reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions' [emphasis added]. Certainly presidential counselor Dan Bartlett views the 'compromise' as one of perception only: 'We proposed a more direct approach to bringing clarification. This one is more of the scenic route, but it gets us there,' he says in the pages of the NYT. As for the other main point of contention -- secret evidence -- the senators made more headway; the Post reports defendants will be allowed to see it in 'summary or redacted form.' (Of course, the extent of the redaction is critical: "We are sentencing you to death because of evidence you ???? on ???? with ????' isn't very helpful.) [...]"

NOW AVAILABLE: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones (Routledge, 2006; 430 pp., US $33.95 pbk). See "The best introductory text available to students of genocide studies ... likely to become the gold standard by which all subsequent introductions to this enormously important subject will be measured" (Kenneth J. Campbell).

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
September 14-20, 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

Consider inviting colleagues and friends to subscribe to Genocide_Studies and the G_S Media File. All it takes is an email to


"Argentine Investigator Gets Life"
By Mayra Pertossi
Associated Press dispatch on, 19 September 2006
"A former police investigator was sentenced to life in prison Tuesday in connection with the disappearance of six people during Argentina's so-called 'Dirty War' against political dissent. The conviction of Miguel Osvaldo Etchecolatz, 77, was the second of its kind since Argentina's Supreme Court in June 2005 annulled a pair of 1980s amnesty laws blocking prosecution of crimes dating to during the nation's 1976-83 dictatorship. ... Etchecolatz was described by prosecutors as a former top collaborator of Ramon Camps, the late Buenos Aires province police chief who was allied with the military when the dictatorship began with a 1976 coup. Nearly 13,000 people are officially listed killed or missing as a result of what prosecutors described as the dictatorship's systematic crackdown on dissent, known as the 'Dirty War.' Human rights groups say the toll is closer to 30,000. Authorities say dissidents, labor leaders, intellectuals and other opponents of the regime were illegally detained and never heard from again. Many were reported to have been tortured and then executed. ... On Aug. 4, former police officer Julio Simon was sentenced to 25 years in prison for human rights abuses in connection with the 1978 disappearance of a married couple during Argentina's military dictatorship. ... Etchecolatz is among dozens of former police and state security agents facing prosecution after amnesty laws were overturned last year."


"Australian Lawfirm Brings Bangladesh Genocide Issue in the United Nations"
By Raymond Solaiman & Associates
News from Bangladesh, 16 September 2006
"A communication was initiated on 7 September 2006 from our office with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Judicial Committee to examine the failure of the states namely Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and USA to prosecute the persons responsible for genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, conspiracy against peace, conspiracy to wage war on unarmed civilians at the time of 1971 in former East Pakistan. The Communication claims that the above mentioned state parties are in a breach of Articles 6 & 7 of Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Article 6 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 4, 5, 6 & 8 of Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the whole of Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitations to war crimes and crimes against humanity. ... It is now up to the committee to examine the admissibility of the communication. ... If this proceeding is successful, the most likely outcome would be, all respective state parties would have to take all necessary actions including adopting Genocide conventions into their own domestic law and prosecute the persons responsible for war crimes and genocide during 1971. If they do it, it will be marked as a black incident in history. However, it will be possible to use the term war criminals for those alleged persons under international law and nations around the world would use their own immigration law to restrict those people's international movement. It will also be possible that those responsible persons would never qualify to stand for public representations. [...]"


"Survivor Gently Adds Voices to Cambodia's Dark Tale"
By Seth Mydans
The New York Times, 16 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Youk Chhang knelt among the coconut palms behind an isolated Buddhist temple and began asking, very gently, how a man named Sous Thy had become part of the killing machine of the Khmer Rouge. Mr. Sous Thy, then a weathered farmer of 45, squatted beside him in this quiet, private place 10 years ago, revealing bit by bit the secrets he had kept for the past quarter century. Yes, he said, he had taken part in the killings, when 1.7 million Cambodians lost their lives from 1975 to 1979. He had been recruited as a teenager, knowing nothing but the rice fields around him, and had lived in terror every day that he himself would be killed. Mr. Youk Chhang listened quietly, taking notes, passing no judgment. He had been one of the victims of the Khmer Rouge, a half-starved boy who lost more family members than he wants to remember. ... Mr. Youk Chhang, who is now 45, heads the Documentation Center of Cambodia, a private organization that over the past decade has collected a trove of 600,000 pages of documents, 6,000 photographs and 200 documentary films recording the Khmer Rouge rule. ... Since his meeting with Mr. Sous Thy in a village not far from Phnom Penh, Mr. Youk Chhang has studied the stories of more former Khmer Rouge cadres than perhaps anybody else. And he has concluded that people like Mr. Sous Thy and people like himself could quite easily have changed places. 'They are us, and we are them,' he said in an interview in his small office in Phnom Penh where photographs of victims and killers hang on the walls. 'They are the evil side of us. Crimes are committed by human beings, by people just like me.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Ursula Daba for contributing this item.]


"In a Blow to Merkel's Christian Democrats, Far-Right Party Wins Seats in an East German State"
By Mark Landler
The New York Times, 18 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"A far-right party made further inroads in Germany's economically fragile east on Sunday, winning seats in a state election in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, a lonely land of farms and fishing villages that is the home constituency of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The National Democratic Party, which openly espouses xenophobic and neo-Nazi views, was projected to win slightly more than 7 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results. That was less than analysts here had feared, but enough to clear the threshold of 5 percent for seats in the state legislature. Extreme-right parties will now be represented in three of Germany's six eastern states -- a trend that worries officials and underlines the divide between the country's eastern and western halves. Far-right parties have negligible support in more-prosperous western Germany. 'This shows the extreme right is a stable and growing force in the east, but it is not an earthquake,' said Hajo Funke, a political scientist at the Free University of Berlin. 'It's not a danger for our democracy.' [...]"


"Cartoons Mocking Holocaust Prove a Flop with Iranians"
By Angus McDowall
The Independent, 14 September 2006
"An exhibition of cartoons about the Holocaust, some suggesting it was fabricated or exaggerated, has been a flop in Tehran. It drew audiences of fewer than 300 a day in its first week and now, three weeks after sparking international furore when it opened, attracts just 50 people a day. Most of those approached in central Tehran said they had not heard of the exhibition and insisted the slaughter of six million Jews by the Nazis was a historical fact. 'I'm sure the Holocaust was true -- I've heard all about it from newspapers and television,' said a housewife from a religious family. 'I don't know why some say it didn't happen.' Shahram Rezaei, an Iranian cartoonist, drew Nazi soldiers laying a paper chain in a mass grave, implying that they were faking the deaths of Jews. Some depictions drew heavily upon anti-Semitic stereotypes. Others accepted the Holocaust happened, but said it was being used to justify Western brutality in the Middle East. An entry by Alessandro Gatto, an Italian, showed an Arab looking forlornly from behind prison bars, which morphed into the stripes of a concentration camp jacket. Others focused on the suffering of Palestinians. Thousands of foreigners have visited the exhibition's website at, some of them engaging in angry debate. A conference on the Holocaust is planned in Tehran for October. [...]"


"Saddam Judge is Replaced"
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 19 September 2006
"The chief judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial has been replaced amid complaints from Shiite and Kurdish officials that he was too soft on the former Iraqi leader, a move that could raise accusations of government interference in the highly sensitive case. ... Hussein al-Duri, an aide to the prime minister, said one reason for al-Amiri's dismissal was the judge's comments last week in a court session, in which he told Saddam 'You were not a dictator.' ... The change could revive complaints that the government is interfering in the tribunal trying Saddam and his regime members to ensure a quick guilty verdict. In the current trial, Saddam faces a possible death penalty if convicted on genocide charges over the Anfal military offensive against Iraqi Kurds in the 1980s. [...]"

"Inside Baghdad: Last Battle of a Stricken City"
By Peter Beaumont
The Observer, 17 September 2006
"Karima Mohammed's men were taken on 5 September. Her husband Saleh Ahmed Mahmoud, 50, and 17-year-old son, Ghazan Saleh Ahmed, were seized by men wearing the uniform of the Iraqi police near the filling station in Zafaraniya in southern Baghdad. The day after they disappeared, her husband's brother received a threatening phone call. He would not tell Karima what the caller said, only that it was 'sectarian' in nature. Since then she has heard nothing. Karima now fears the worst. It would be hard not to -- between Wednesday and Friday more than 130 bodies were found, dumped on the dusty streets, the fetid rubbish tips, and floating in the sewers and rivers of the capital. Yesterday morning there were a further 47 corpses. Those killed by sectarian violence now far outnumber Iraqis being killed by suicide car bombs and insurgent attacks -- more than 50 have died that way in the city in the past 72 hours. Karima is a Sunni and her misfortune is to live in a largely Shia area -- a stronghold of the Jaish al-Mahdi, the militia of the firebrand preacher Moqtada al-Sadr, a group implicated in the campaign of attacks against Sunni families across Baghdad. In Zafaraniya, bombs have been thrown at Sunni houses. A Sunni mosque has come under attack. People, like Karima's husband and son, have simply disappeared. [...]"
[n.b. There can be little doubt that this is one of the most sustained and systematic campaigns of "gendercide" in the post-World War II era.]

"'You Were Not a Dictator,' Judge Tells Hussein During Genocide Trial"
By Sudarsan Raghavan
The Washington Post, 15 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"The judge in Saddam Hussein's genocide trial told the toppled Iraqi leader on Thursday that he wasn't 'a dictator,' one day after prosecutors accused the judge of bias and demanded his resignation. Judge Abdullah al-Amiri made the comment shortly after the court heard emotional testimony from a Kurdish farmer who said Hussein told him to 'shut up and get out' when he begged the Iraqi president to spare the lives of his wife and seven young children, who were taken into custody in 1988. Hussein challenged the farmer's testimony, asking, 'Why did he try to see Saddam Hussein [if] Saddam Hussein was a dictator and was against the Kurdish people?' according to the Associated Press. Amiri said from the bench: 'You are not a dictator. You were not a dictator. However, the people or the individuals and officials surrounding you created a dictator. It was not you in particular. It happens all over the world.' 'Thank you,' Hussein replied. On Wednesday, prosecutors called for Amiri's resignation, saying he had allowed 'defendants to go too far, with unacceptable expressions and words' and had 'allowed the defendants to treat the chamber as a political forum,' according to a pool report. [...]"


"Israel's Cluster Bomb Use 'Outrageous': U.N."
By Alistair Lyon
Reuters dispatch on, 19 September 2006
"Israel dropped at least 350,000 cluster bomblets on south Lebanon in its war with Hizbollah guerrillas, mostly when the conflict was all but over, leaving a deadly legacy for civilians, a U.N. official said on Tuesday. 'The outrageous fact is that nearly all of these munitions were fired in the last three to four days of the war,' David Shearer, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Lebanon, told a news conference in Beirut. 'Outrageous because by that stage the conflict had been largely resolved in the form of (U.N. Security Council) Resolution 1701,' he said. ... Shearer said Israel had not explained why it fired so many cluster bombs across the south as the war drew to a close. Nor had it responded to a U.N. request for the map coordinates of the cluster bomb strikes to hasten clearance efforts. U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland has called Israel 'completely immoral' for using them in residential areas. The United Nations has so far identified 516 cluster bomb strike locations and says 30 to 40 percent of the bomblets they scattered over the south failed to explode at the time. ... Shearer said cluster bombs had killed or wounded an average of three people a day since the war ended, with 15 killed, including a child, and 83 wounded, of whom 23 are children. ... 'We know these (cluster) munitions have a failure rate and it seems to me extraordinary that they were fired off in the last hours of the war into areas where civilian populations were known to be going,' Shearer said. 'For a humanitarian person, it defies belief that this would happen.'"

"Deadly Harvest: The Lebanese Fields Sown with Cluster Bombs"
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent (on, 18 September 2006
"The war in Lebanon has not ended. Every day, some of the million bomblets which were fired by Israeli artillery during the last three days of the conflict kill four people in southern Lebanon and wound many more. The casualty figures will rise sharply in the next month as villagers begin the harvest, picking olives from trees whose leaves and branches hide bombs that explode at the smallest movement. Lebanon's farmers are caught in a deadly dilemma: to risk the harvest, or to leave the produce on which they depend to rot in the fields. In a coma in a hospital bed in Nabatiyeh lies Hussein Ali Ahmad, a 70-year-old man from the village of Yohmor. He was pruning an orange tree outside his house last week when he dislodged a bomblet; it exploded, sending pieces of shrapnel into his brain, lungs and kidneys. ... At least 83 people have been killed by cluster munitions since the ceasefire, according to independent monitors. ... Why did the Israeli army do it? The number of cluster bombs fired must have been greater than 1.2 million because, in addition to those fired in rockets, many more were fired in 155mm artillery shells. One Israeli gunner said he had been told to 'flood' the area at which they were firing but was given no specific targets. M. Gras, who personally defuses 160 to 180 bomblets a day, says this is the first time he seen cluster bombs used against heavily populated villages. [...]"

"Hezbollah Accused of War Crimes"
BBC Online, 14 September 2006
"Amnesty International has accused Hezbollah of acts amounting to war crimes in the conflict with Israel. The group said Hezbollah deliberately targeted civilians with rockets in the 34-day war -- a 'serious violation of international humanitarian law.' An earlier Amnesty report accused Israel of committing war crimes by deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Lebanon. Amnesty again urged a UN inquiry into violations by both sides. The latest Amnesty report said: 'Hezbollah's rocket attacks on northern Israel amounted to deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, as well as indiscriminate attacks, both war crimes under international law.' It said Hezbollah had fired nearly 4,000 rockets into northern Israel, killing 43 civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee. It noted that although Hezbollah had said its policy was not to target civilians, its leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the policy was changed in reprisal for Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilian areas. [...]"
[n.b. See the complete text of the Amnesty report.]


"Her Secret Past as a Nazi Guard:
S.F. Immigrant Married Holocaust Survivor, Attended Synagogue"

By Demian Bulwa
San Francisco Chronicle, 20 September 2006
"Those who knew San Francisco's Elfriede Rinkel never found it remarkable that the German immigrant would marry a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, or attend synagogue with him, or plan to be buried next to him at a cemetery run by a Chevra Kadisha, a Jewish burial society that performs ritual purification. On Tuesday, though, came a jarring twist: The U.S. Justice Department said the 84-year-old Rinkel had been deported to Germany, nearly half a century after she emigrated to the United States, because she had been a guard at a Nazi concentration camp in World War II where an estimated 90,000 people, many of them Jews, were exterminated. 'I think it may have been a type of atonement for her,' her attorney, Alison Dixon, said of Elfriede's marriage to Fred Rinkel, who died two years ago. 'My understanding is that she has also contributed to Jewish charities.' Dixon said Rinkel never told her husband that she had spent nearly a year as a guard at the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany, the only major Nazi camp for women. ... The Justice Department alleged that Rinkel had used attack dogs to march emaciated inmates to slave-labor sites. More than 130,000 women from dozens of countries -- Jews, Gypsies and others -- were brought to Ravensbruck during its six years of existence. More than two-thirds of them died of malnourishment, in medical experiments and in a gas chamber, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. [...]"

"Translating a WWII Monster"
By Victor Greto
The News Journal, 17 September 2006
"Paul Harker had to keep reminding himself -- the old man sitting across the dining room table was a monster. Eighty-year-old Rolf Otto Schiller did not look like one, and his banter about the weather diverted Harker from the task at hand -- compiling the memoirs of a former Nazi SS legal affairs officer. After the pleasantries, Schiller's demeanor would change. 'Where did we leave off?' he would ask. 'When I ordered the liquidation of the Bialystok ghetto?' In the book, Schiller admits helping to implement the 'Final Solution' by ordering the deaths of Jews, gypsies, Communists, homosexuals and other 'enemies of the Third Reich' -- and killing many of them himself. Accused by a Polish war tribunal of helping to slaughter more than 150,000 people, Schiller was convicted in 1947 for causing the deaths of 2,711. He served 30 years in Grudziadz prison in Poland. Schiller -- who died in 2004 -- called himself a criminal, says Harker, 39, a Newport writer who corresponded with him for years. But Schiller argued that his actions were legal, based on Nazi laws, including 'Directive 19,' the official administrative designation for a death sentence. ... It took nearly seven years from the time they first corresponded, but Harker recently published Schiller's memoir, 'Directive 19: The Memoirs of SS Sturmbannführer [storm unit leader] Rolf Otto Schiller' (Outskirts Press, $24.95). None of the money goes to Schiller's estate; $3 of each sale goes to the upkeep of Allied and German military cemeteries. 'His story is a story that needs to be told in light of the Holocaust denials that are going on,' Harker says. [...]"

"This Historian Was a German Nationalist Who Distorted History"
By David Cesarani
The Guardian, 15 September 2006
"Joachim Fest, who died this week, was a conservative historian who played a leading role in shaping the new German nationalism and cultivating the sense of victimhood among Germans that lies at its core. So it was puzzling to find him the subject of the Guardian's leader column [n.b. included in last week's Media File]. ... Fest never pursued a purely academic agenda: he was interested in shaping public discourse in Germany. His history writing was distorted by his nationalism and his hostility to socialism. In July 1986, Fest, as an editor on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published an article by the historian Ernst Nolte arguing that it was time to end the 'demonisation' of the Third Reich. Nolte maintained that Auschwitz was only a reaction 'to the acts of annihilation that took place during the Russian revolution.' The Nazis' exterminatory war against the Jews was merely a 'German copy' of earlier genocides during a century typified by mass slaughter. Fest then weighed in with an article supporting Nolte and went even further. Without any evidence he asserted that Hitler's genocidal policies were rooted in a deep German-Austrian fear of atrocities overwhelming them from 'the east.' He argued that there was anyway little difference between the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis or the Soviets. The victims were 'here a race, there a class.' ... Far from being praiseworthy, Fest's history writing has had a malign influence on German national identity."

"Gunter Grass: I Needed Time to Reveal My Waffen-SS Past"
By Giles Tremlett
The Guardian, 13 September 2006
"Gunter Grass, the Nobel laureate whose confessions of SS membership during the second world war have shocked his native Germany, has denied lying about his past and claimed he simply needed time to tell his own story. In an interview in Spain's El País newspaper, Grass replied to his critics while admitting he would probably have been involved in war crimes had he been a bit older and joined the notorious Waffen-SS earlier. 'I was young, and I wanted to leave home. In my heart, it was something I agreed with,' he said, explaining how he joined up as a 17-year-old in the dying stages of the war. 'I considered the Waffen-SS to be an elite unit,' he added. 'If I had been born three or four years earlier I would, surely, have seen myself caught up in those crimes.' He kept this episode of his life, which he has now included in an autobiography, to himself for more than six decades because of a growing sense of shame. 'What was published later about the Waffen-SS, about all its crimes, was something I was not aware of until much later,' he explained. 'My sense of shame grew over time ... which is largely why this unique episode in my life was something that I kept to myself.' He denied, however, actively hiding his past. 'I've always admitted my involvement as a young man in the [Nazi] system,' he said. 'That has never been a secret.' [...]"


"Ex-Minister's Genocide Acquittal"
BBC Online, 20 September 2006
"A former Rwandan government minister has been acquitted on charges relating to the 1994 genocide, by the United Nations tribunal in Tanzania. Judges ordered the immediate release of ex-Education Minister Andre Rwamakuba. Prosecutors had accused him of hacking members of the Tutsi minority to death during the 1994 massacre, in which some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died. He is the fifth suspect to be acquitted by the Arusha tribunal; 26 other suspects have been convicted. Judge Charles Michael Byron said there was insufficient evidence that Andre Rwamakuba distributed machetes and participated in the 100-day massacre. He was accused of ordering the hacking of Tutsis to death in Gikomero township near the capital and at a university hospital in the south. He denied the charges and boycotted his trial. Mr Rwamakuba, who is 56 years old, told AP news agency after the ruling that he was happy and trying to determine what to do with his life."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Rwanda's Genocide Still Has Power to Haunt Lives"
Chicago Tribune on, 19 September 2006
"Jeanette Uwimana was eight months pregnant when Rwanda's genocide began in 1994. Desperate to save her six children, she fled to a hill above her home in Butare. The killers found her anyway. First, they put a bullet in the head of her 15-year-old daughter, ending a dispute among the armed men over who should rape her first. Then they slaughtered the girl's terrified young brothers with clubs and machetes as their mother struggled to respond to their screams. Finally, they gathered Uwimana and a few other women and girls who had taken refuge on the hill and took them to a nearby militia roadblock. There, for two weeks, the pretty 32-year-old was raped on the roadside by nearly every militiaman who passed. When her back broke, she was thrown in the bushes and left for dead. 'I became lifeless and they threw me aside,' she remembers quietly. When soldiers from an invading Tutsi liberation army found her three days later, 'I was practically dead,' she said. ... With its genocide now a dozen years in the past, Rwanda is struggling to move on. Its government urges reconciliation among victims and perpetrators. International trials for the architects of the genocide are nearing an end in neighboring Tanzania, and hundreds of thousands of other genocide perpetrators have been released from Rwanda's prisons to face community judgment at home. But for many -- particularly rape victims, orphans and mothers raising children of rape -- the genocide remains a daily part of life, impossible to escape. [...]"

"Rwanda Musician Faces Genocide Charges"
Reuters dispatch on, 18 September 2006
"A U.N. court trying the masterminds of the 1994 Rwandan genocide on Monday began to hear a case against a former sports ministry official whose popular songs were said to have encouraged the killings. Simon Bikindi, a musician and former official in Rwanda's Ministry of Youth and Sports, was arrested in the Netherlands in 2001. He faces six counts of genocide to which he has pleaded not guilty. 'He was the singer whose popular songs were supposed to have encouraged people to commit genocide,' Timothy Gallimore, spokesman for Arusha-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), told Reuters. 'We haven't had anyone in his category before. You have to also understand that he is part of the association with the media. The issue of using the media for incitement is related to his case,' Gallimore said. In its indictment, ICTR said that Bikindi also agreed or collaborated with, among others, former President Juvenal Habyarimana, to give military training to Hutu Interahamwe militia and to spread anti-Tutsi propaganda. He is accused of helping recruit Interahamwe militias in late 1993 and early 1994 and for collaborating with among others, Habyarimana, to launch privately owned Radio Mille Collines, which was used to spread anti-Tutsi messages, and often played Bikindi's music. ICTR added that Bikindi would compose and record music, and have Habyarimana vet it to see if it fit the government's policies before it was released. [...]"

"Rwandan Leader Firm on Hutu Extremists"
By Donna Bryson
Associated Press dispatch on, 17 September 2006
"Hutu extremists accused of masterminding the Rwandan genocide and then fleeing to Congo cannot expect forgiveness, Rwanda's president said in an interview Sunday. The extremists have been accused of fomenting instability in eastern Congo for years. There had been hopes of quelling the threat before the recent elections in Congo but the Hutu groups remain entrenched in eastern Congo. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the Tutsi rebels who ended the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, said he would work with the new Congolese government to contain the Hutu extremists. But he said he could not envision offering them amnesty, as the Congolese have done for some of their own rebel groups in an effort to bring peace to the country. 'There are no grounds whatsoever to say these people ... should be given any amnesty,' Kagame told The Associated Press in an interview. He said these groups masterminded the genocide and had shown no remorse, so they must be either brought to justice or militarily defeated. ... Rwanda has invaded Congo twice since 1996 with the stated aim of hunting down the Hutu extremists who fled there. Rwanda's second invasion, in 1998, launched Africa into a war that drew in the armies of six nations. The conflict split Western Europe-sized Congo, and caused the deaths of an estimated 3.2 million people in Rwanda-controlled east Congo, primarily through famine and disease. [...]"

"Rwanda: Jean Mpambara's Acquittal Enrages Residents"
By Paul Ntambara
The New Times (Kigali) (on, 16 September 2006
"Residents of the former Rukara commune have expressed disappointment over the acquittal of the former burgomaster of the commune, Jean Mpambara by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha. Various people who talked to The New Times expressed shock over his release. Jean de Dieu Byirigiro, a member of the killing mobs at the time of the Genocide who has since confessed his role said that the ICTR's decision is unfortunate and lacks facts on the ground. 'The court's judgement is not only bad for justice and rule of law especially to the survivors of genocide but also a disappointment to the truth. I know very well that he participated in the killing of people from his commune. I remember Mpambara vividly well; he brought with him grenades to one Gachumbtsi. We offloaded them and kept them until late in the evening when they were used to kill people who had camped in Karubanda church,' Byirigiro disclosed. Byirigiro who also testified against Mpambara in Arusha, noted that it was puzzling how Mpambara could be allowed to walk away scot-free, yet there is authenticated evidence implicating him in the killings. 'Mpambara encouraged us to commit genocide. People easily believed him given his status as a leader in the area. After carrying out the killings, he would buy us beer and meat which we feasted on,' Byirigiro further revealed, adding that those who testified against Mpambara are being taunted by his relatives. 'His relatives have confronted me saying that my testimonies have yielded no fruit. That I betrayed a fellow Hutu,' he pointed out. [...]"


"Decision for Darfur Peacekeepers"
BBC Online, 20 September 2006
"President Omar al-Bashir has reiterated his opposition to any United Nations force being deployed in Darfur saying it was part of a 'Zionist plot.' But Sudan's leader said he would allow African Union troops to stay on and may accept 'non-African' advisers. AU leaders, including Mr Bashir, are to meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York to decide on the future of its Darfur force. More than two million people have been displaced in the three-year rebellion. The UN Security Council passed a resolution last month calling for the deployment of up to 20,000 UN peacekeepers to replace the 7,000-strong AU force whose mandate expires at the end of the month. The UN wants to send a full international peacekeeping operation to end what some governments, including the United States, have called genocide perpetrated by the Sudanese army and its associated militias. President Bashir, who is part of the AU security council, said he 'totally rejected' the UN taking over peacekeeping in Darfur, although his government is split with African members from the SPLM and SLA backing the plan. [...]"

"Sorry George Clooney, But the Last Thing Darfur Needs is Western Troops"
By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 19 September 2006
"An air of unreality, if not cant, surrounds the latest upsurge of calls for UN troops to go into Sudan's western region of Darfur. The actor George Clooney takes to the stage at the UN security council, pleading for action. Tony Blair seizes on the issue to write letters to fellow EU leaders. In cities around the world protesters hold a 'global day for Darfur' to warn of looming genocide. Is it really possible that western governments, in spite of being burned by their interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, would use force against another Muslim state? ... In most wars, governments spin and the media (at least sometimes) seek the truth. Darfur reversed the trend: the media spun while governments were more sophisticated. In spite of efforts to describe the killing in Darfur as genocide, neither the UN nor the EU went along with this description. It was not because of moral myopia, but because they understood the difference between a brutal civil war and a deliberate policy of ethnic cleansing. Darfur is not Rwanda. Only the US accepted the genocide description, though this seemed a concession to domestic lobbies rather than a matter of conviction. Washington never followed through with the forcible intervention in Darfur that international law requires once a finding of genocide is made. [...]"

"As Peace Mission Nears End, War in Sudan Intensifies"
By Craig Timberg
The Washington Post, 18 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] Speaking on condition of anonymity, the African Union officers muttered angrily about their failure to enforce calm while expressing greater fears. They used the words 'genocide' and 'Rwanda' to describe what they expect will follow their departure. Outside analysts also say that the African Union, while ineffective at peacekeeping, is serving as vital eyes and ears for the outside world at a time when the Sudanese government is making it more difficult for aid groups and journalists to operate here. With the African Union gone, they say, the last buffer will be lost against a bloodier assault in Darfur. 'All predictions are that without witnesses, the slaughter will begin,' said Eric Reeves, a Smith College professor who has closely monitored the Darfur conflict, speaking from Northampton, Mass. 'As long as the A.U. stays in, they are powerless but they are witnesses.' The African Union pullout would come shortly before the end of the rainy season, when flooded dirt roads typically dry out, allowing full-scale military maneuvering to resume after many weeks of limited mobility for both sides. John Prendergast, an Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group, said the United States and the United Nations have allowed the Sudanese government to outmaneuver them diplomatically. He acknowledged that the United Nations would have trouble deploying troops over the objections of the government but said tougher actions would persuade officials to allow the peacekeepers. [...]"

"President May Withdraw Deadline for African Union Peacekeepers to Leave"
By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 18 September 2006
"Sudan is expected to withdraw its deadline for African Union peacekeepers to leave the war-torn western region of Darfur at the end of this month, when AU foreign ministers discuss the mounting crisis in New York today, according to senior officials in Khartoum. Sudanese president Omar al Bashir's ultimatum for an AU troop pull-out threatened to leave the huge area with no international monitors and provoke a major escalation of a three-year war which has already left a quarter of a million people dead. ... Led by the United States, the UN security council has called for international forces to replace the AU troops with better equipment and a stronger mandate. Although the resolution says the troops require the consent of Sudan's government, President Bush hinted at the weekend that they should go in regardless. 'What you'll hear is, well, the government of Sudan must invite the United Nations in for us to act. Well, there are other alternatives, like passing a UN resolution saying we're coming in with a UN force in order to save lives,' he said. [...]"

"Little Support for Refugees on Streets of London"
By Paul Lewis
The Guardian, 18 September 2006
"Seventeen-year-old Mousa Abkar fled his scorched village in Darfur to a safe haven in Barnsley, hidden for 21 days alone in the hull of a container ship. The rest of his family had been killed or lost following an attack by the Janjaweed militia last year. Yesterday his struggle in the face of adversity remained solitary in one sense, as he set out on a fresh leg of his journey in exile -- a brisk walk from the Sudanese embassy in London to Downing Street. For support was sparse for Mousa and his fellow refugees during the global day for Darfur march in London. Hundreds of Sudanese refugees took part -- all wearing smart blue berets in a symbolic call for UN peacekeepers to be allowed into the region to halt the genocide which, they say, will be inevitable if the African Union's 7,000 outgoing troops are not replaced. But take away the dark faces and glazed eyes of those who have recently fled the violence, and yesterday's protest -- coordinated with dozens of demonstrations around the world -- was reduced to a trickle. It seemed the endorsement of George Clooney and Tony Blair had failed to persuade more than a few Britons to give up their Sunday afternoon to march against 'the first genocide of the 21st century.' As demonstrators marched through central London to join religious leaders gathered in Whitehall to pray for an end to the conflict, some passers-by grimaced at the sight of closed roads. [...]"

"Protesters Around World Plead: Intervene in Darfur", 17 September 2006
"Tens of thousands of demonstrators in cities around the world on Sunday demanded action to stop the killing in Darfur, Sudan. 'We are all here because everybody is fed up in watching no action on Darfur, while we have been watching rolling genocide,' former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told CNN from New York's Central Park. Organizers there said they were expecting tens of thousands of people. In addition to the United States, the 'Global Day for Action on Darfur' also took place in Canada and across Europe, Africa and Asia. Protesters gathered in London outside Prime Minister Tony Blair's residence, and in Rwanda and Cambodia, led by survivors of genocides there. The message: The United Nations should send peacekeepers into western Sudan, with or without its capital, Khartoum's, approval. This month, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution for such a force to replace the African Union troops already there but said the force wouldn't be deployed until Sudan could be persuaded to accept it. To demonstrate support for the U.N.'s mandate, hundreds of demonstrators wore berets made from blue cloth, the material of the uniforms worn by U.N. peacekeepers. T-shirts read 'Stop Genocide' and 'Never Again.' 'The international community has really not done enough,' Albright said. 'So today is a day where there are people all over the world putting their voices together to say that Sudan has a last chance to be on the right side of this. Or forever be on the wrong side,' Albright said. [...]"

"In Pictures: Darfur Rallies"
BBC Online, 17 September 2006

"Bush Hints at Use of Force in Darfur"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 17 September 2006
"Diplomatic pressure on Sudan to allow 20,000 UN peacekeepers into the Darfur region was mounting last night, with President George Bush threatening to ignore Khartoum's refusal to allow the force in. Mr. Bush suggested that the world body would simply send troops 'in order to save lives.' Britain also upped the rhetoric, promising a 'carrot and stick' approach to solving the three-year crisis, which has seen about 300,000 black Africans killed and 2.5 million displaced. But Sudan remained defiant, with the President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, yesterday rejecting UN peacekeepers under any circumstances. 'We have met with [UN Secretary General] Kofi Annan and ... clarified in detail that we reject the decision of the Security Council,' he said at the Non-Aligned summit in Havana. Writing in today's Independent on Sunday, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, calls for 'concerted international action to bring a change of mind and actions from the government of Sudan' -- although he stopped short of suggesting a UN force should go in without Sudan's approval. The Conservatives called on Britain and the UN to 'hit them [Sudan's leaders] where it matters: their money.' The Tory international development spokesman, Andrew Mitchell, said: 'Freeze their Swiss bank accounts and ... let them know that if they step outside Sudan they will be packed off to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity.' [...]"

"Have We the Will to Use Force to Save the People of Darfur?"
By Mary Riddell
The Observer, 17 September 2006
"[...] There is now the spectre of a reprise of Rwanda and of death on such an extravagant scale that the world cannot stand by. The point of armed intervention is not here yet, but it might be. Once, only all-out ethnic cleansing obliged the international community to act. Now the semantics of genocide have been superseded. A year ago today, the UN pledged to act against regimes that failed to protect their citizens. That does not necessarily imply a Chapter Seven resolution and military action, but it does lower the gold standard of intervention. Darfur is the test case. Invasion is the final, and unloveliest, resort. The janjaweed has grown from 500 to 200,000 in two decades and occupying armies have no recent record of securing peace. But, at the least, Bashir must know that, in extremis, the world would not offer imprimaturs to a bloodbath. Once, the Prime Minister would have been the first evangelist for such a mission. No doubt he secretly still is. Those close to Downing Street do not rule out the need for armed force if catastrophe hits Darfur. But how, Blair must wonder privately, could Britain muster more troops? How could Nato, when it can barely scratch together a back-up force in Afghanistan? Would the US conceivably weigh in, as it did when Europe -- and UN peacekeepers -- failed to stop genocide in the Balkans? And how would he ever sell a war against a Muslim regime to an Arab League that detests his foreign policy? [...]"

"Dallaire Says Canada Should Take Leadership Role to Aid, Heal Darfur"
Canadian Press dispatch in The Brandon Sun, 17 September 2006
"Canada must mobilize money and troops, and lead an international effort to end the violence in Darfur, Senator Romeo Dallaire said Sunday at a rally to protest the bloodshed in the Sudanese region. Dallaire, who as a Canadian general, led the ill-fated United Nations mission to Rwanda, said Darfur could turn into another Rwanda if action isn't taken soon. 'Darfur is tasting, smelling, looking in every way, shape or form, like a repetition on a similar scale of what happened in Rwanda 12 years ago,' he said. 'We are going to witness again, with blood on our hands, the destruction of human beings who are exactly like us.' He said the government should send money, troops, equipment and humanitarian aid to the region as part of an emergency relief plan. Equally important, Dallaire said Canada should use its position 'as a leading middle power in the world' to encourage talks between Sudan's government and the African Union, which has been providing peacekeepers to the troubled country. Rally organizer Justin Trudeau, son of the late prime minister Pierre Trudeau, also called on Ottawa to act, saying Darfur is at a tipping point. ... 'Canada has coasted a long time on its reputation as peacekeeper,' said Trudeau to a large crowd of mostly youths. 'But now we need to follow up with a commitment to protect.' [...]"

"Darfur: Waiting for the Slaughter"
By Paul Vallely
The Independent, 16 September 2006
"[...] An end is in sight for the Darfur camps -- where at least 300,000 black African farmers have been slaughtered by the Khartoum government and its Arab proxies, the Janjaweed militia, whose name means 'devils on horseback.' One of those who died was Rasha's husband, Adam. It could be an end so terrifying, it defies the imagination. The fear is that the rest of Adam Ibrahim Adam's family -- and many of the two million people of the Fur, Massaleit or Zaghawa tribes in the camps -- may soon perish too. The 7,000 troops of the African Union, who have been desperately trying to protect the camps, have been told by Khartoum they must leave Darfur at the end of this month when their mandate runs out. Sudan has defied a UN resolution that mandated an improved 20,000-strong blue-hatted UN force to take over. Instead, it is sending 10,000 of its own troops to the region for what human rights observers fear will be a brutal 'final solution.' In a situation already described by the UN as the 'world's worst humanitarian disaster' the genocide so long denied by the Arab government in Khartoum may be about to happen. 'We're on the brink of a massive catastrophe,' said one senior Western diplomat yesterday. 'If there is no Plan B for Darfur, all-out genocide is highly likely,' said James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust, which is co-ordinating a worldwide protest that will take place in 32 countries tomorrow. [...]"

"Darfur 'Regional Security Threat'"
BBC Online, 16 September 2006
"The head of the UN refugee agency says the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region could have a devastating impact on the peace and security of the region. In a BBC interview, Antonio Guterres described Darfur as the 'epicentre of a major earthquake.' Earlier UK PM Tony Blair urged Sudan's government to stop military action in the area and allow in a UN force. The remarks come ahead of a day of action on Sunday to raise awareness of the region's plight. In 2003, ethnic violence erupted between pro-government Arab militia and black Africans -- who make up the majority of the region's population. Since then, tens of thousands of people have died and as many as two million have been displaced. Mr. Guterres said instability resulting from the Darfur conflict was spreading into Sudan's neighbours, Chad and the Central African Republic. 'I would say you must look at Darfur not only in itself, but as the epicentre of a major earthquake in the area that can have a devastating impact not only on peace and security but also terrible humanitarian consequences,' he told the BBC. [...]"

"Clooney Warns of 'Holocaust' in Sudan"
ITV News, 15 September 2006
"Hollywood actor George Clooney has called for a United Nations peacekeeping force to be sent to crisis-torn Sudan. Clooney urged UN countries to act more forcefully in the Darfur region where hundreds of thousands of people have been killed or made homeless. At a meeting hosted by US Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, Clooney and human rights activist Elie Wiesel called the humanitarian crisis in the region 'genocide' and warned that Darfur could become another Rwanda. The urged the UN to send in peacekeeping forces to the region with or without the Sudanese government's permission. Clooney said: 'In the time that we are here today, more women and children will die violently in the Darfur region than in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Israel or Lebanon.' He urged the UN to take concrete action soon, since the mandate of the African Union force that is currently on the ground there will expire at the end of this month. 'So after September 30th, you won't need the UN,' he said. 'You will simply need men with shovels and bleached white linen and headstones. In many ways it's unfair but it is nevertheless true that this genocide will be on your watch. How you deal with it will be your legacy -- your Rwanda, your Cambodia, your Auschwitz. We were brought up to believe that the UN was formed to ensure that the Holocaust could never happen again."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"A Grim Calculation"
By Tony Dokoupil
Newsweek, 14 September 2006
"Sociologist John Hagan completed his book 'Justice in the Balkans,' a critical look at the Hague Tribunal and war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, just as violence erupted in Sudan's western province of Darfur in 2003. Now more than three years later, the Northwestern University professor has turned to correcting historical errors in real time. His study, coauthored with University of Wisconsin professor Alberto Palloni and to be published tomorrow in the journal Science, provides the first rigorous estimate of the death toll in Darfur. The two scientists found that 200,000 to 400,000 people have died since violence began, rather than the tens of thousands widely reported in the media. ... To arrive at their tally, Hagan and Palloni drew on a wide range of previous studies and surveys performed in West Darfur. These include the World Health Organization's survey of people in displacement camps, pulled together in 2004 with the cooperation of the Sudanese Ministry of Health, surveys from Médecins Sans Frontières and other studies by the U.S. State Department and the United Nations. The scientists estimate that 1 million people have been displaced in West Darfur alone. [...]"
[n.b. Most of this story is an interview with Hagan.]


"Turkey, a Touchy Critic, Plans to Put a Novel on Trial"
By Susanne Fowler
The New York Times, 15 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"'If there is a thief in a novel,' said Elif Shafak recently, 'it doesn't make the novelist a thief.' Yet, Ms. Shafak is due in court here on Sept. 21 to defend herself against charges that she insulted 'Turkishness' because a character in her latest novel, 'The Bastard of Istanbul,' refers to the deaths of Armenians in 1915 as genocide. Ms. Shafak, a Turkish citizen who was born in Strasbourg, France, is being sued under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code, the same law that ensnared Turkey's best-known contemporary author, Orhan Pamuk, in 2005. She is scheduled to give birth to her first child the week of the trial. A conviction carries a possible penalty of up to three years in jail. The plaintiffs are vocal nationalists who she says oppose the government's efforts to gain admission for Turkey, the only member of NATO with a largely Muslim population, into the European Union. 'I believe they want to derail the E.U. process because that would change many things in the structure of the state and the fabric of Turkish society,' Ms. Shafak, an assistant professor of Near Eastern studies at the University of Arizona, said in an interview. 'They would rather have an insular, enclosed, xenophobic society than an open society.' [...]"


"Uganda: Nation in Crisis Thanks to Divisive Regime"
Olara A. Otunnu, 19 September 2006
"The government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have agreed to end two decades of hostilities in the northern part of the country. This is good news. But, only serious international pressure can ensure that the Juba talks progress into a definite peace. The regime of Youweri Museveni has invested massively in a campaign of deception and disinformation, aimed at concealing a methodical and comprehensive genocide in northern Uganda, conceived and conducted by the government. A carefully scripted narrative is being promoted, according to which the catastrophe in northern Uganda begins with the LRA and will end with their demise. ... The LRA has been responsible for atrocities, including massacres, maiming and the abduction of some 25,000 children, for which its leadership must be held fully accountable. However, the LRA factor has been cynically manipulated to divert attention from and conceal the unfolding genocide. ... Over the last 20 years, a population of almost 2 million, from Acoli, Lango and Teso regions, have been forced by the government into concentration camps, defined by disease and death, humiliation and despair, overcrowding and malnutrition, and appalling sanitation. It must be stressed that the majority did not flee their homes to seek refuge in government 'safe havens.' These populations were uprooted from their homes and lands by the government, in operations marked by systematic bombing, burning, and killing. Today 95% of the Acoli population is in these camps. [...]"

"Uganda Peace Hinges on Amnesty for Brutality"
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, 15 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] The victims of this war are so desperate to put the nightmarish days behind them that they want to forgive, just as much as they want to forget. Typical is Christa Labol, whose ears and lips were cut off by bayonet-wielding prepubescent soldiers she now says she would welcome home. 'Only God can judge,' Mrs. Labol said through a mouth that is always open. Of course, the rebels are not out of the bush yet. Many still hide in a remote, lawless corner of northern Congo. Some people wonder if Mr. Kony, who has told his troops he is possessed by spirits, will ever give up. Mr. Kony has said he will but only if he is not prosecuted. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Mr. Kony and four of his commanders. Ugandan government officials have said they will ensure that the rebels get amnesty if they surrender. But the rebels have said the amnesty must come first. It is an impasse that possibly only the international court can break, but the court, established in 1998, has not indicated what it will do. 'We've never had such a situation,' said Claudia Perdomo, a court spokeswoman. The Acholi people have their own solution. It is the mataput -- the word means drinking a bitter root from a common cup -- and it is a traditional reconciliation ceremony. Peace is more important than punishment, Acholi elders say, and they would rather have Mr. Kony return to Gulu for a mataput than rot in some European prison. Although the fighting may be over, it seems a new battle has begun: tradition versus modernity. [...]"


"Yale Creates Center To Study Anti-Semitism"
By John Christofferson
Associated Press dispatch in The Hartford Courant, 19 September 2006
"Citing growing anti-Semitism around the world, Yale University said today it has created the first university-based center in North America dedicated to the study of anti-Semitism. The Yale Initiative for Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism will provide a forum for scholars to research contemporary causes of anti-Semitism and ways to combat it, said Charles Small, the center's director. The center plans to offer courses, conferences and seminars, but it is too soon to say whether there will be a degree program, he said. 'Anti-Semitism has re-emerged internationally in a manner that many leading scholars and policymakers take seriously,' Small said. 'Because of this, there is a need to establish a high-caliber, interdisciplinary, nonpartisan, scholarly institute, so that students and faculty can engage these issues fully.' In a report last year, New York-based Human Rights First said racist and anti-Semitic violence was up dramatically in much of Europe. In Britain, for instance, anti-Semitic personal assaults doubled in 2004 over the previous year, said the organization, formerly known as the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. [...]"


"On India's Despairing Farms, a Plague of Suicide"
By Somini Sengupta
The New York Times, 19 September 2006 [Registration Required]
"Here in the center of India, on a gray Wednesday morning, a cotton farmer swallowed a bottle of pesticide and fell dead at the threshold of his small mud house. The farmer, Anil Kondba Shende, 31, left behind a wife and two small sons, debts that his family knew about only vaguely and a soggy, ruined 3.5-acre patch of cotton plants that had been his only source of income. Whether it was debt, shame or some other privation that drove Mr. Shende to kill himself rests with him alone. But his death was by no means an isolated one, and in it lay an alarming reminder of the crisis facing the Indian farmer. Across the country in desperate pockets like this one, 17,107 farmers committed suicide in 2003, the most recent year for which government figures are available. Anecdotal reports suggest that the high rates are continuing. ... Changes brought on by 15 years of economic reforms have opened Indian farmers to global competition and given them access to expensive and promising biotechnology, but not necessarily opened the way to higher prices, bank loans, irrigation or insurance against pests and rain. ... Frustration is building in India with American multinational companies peddling costly, genetically modified seeds. They have made deep inroads in rural India -- a vast and alluring market -- bringing new opportunities but also new risks as Indian farmers pile up debt. ... 'The suicides are an extreme manifestation of some deep-seated problems which are now plaguing our agriculture,' said M. S. Swaminathan, the geneticist who was the scientific leader of India's Green Revolution 40 years ago and is now chairman of the National Commission on Farmers. 'They are climatic. They are economic. They are social.' [...]"


"Immigrant Deaths on U.S.-Mexican Border Double"
Reuters dispatch in The Toronto Star, 15 September 2006
"The number of illegal immigrants dying while trying to cross the Mexican border to enter the United States has almost doubled since the late-1990s, according to the report by the investigative arm of Congress. Most died in Arizona because increased border security in urban areas in California and Texas forced immigrants to take the dangerous route across the state's desert, according to the General Accounting Office, or GAO. The number of deaths reached 472 last year, compared with 241 deaths in 1999, the study showed, and there was a sharp increase in the number of women and children dying, probably because it is becoming harder for men to cross and bring their families later. 'They are still a small number, but (I guess) more often people are bringing their families because they're planning to stay,' Laurie Ekstrand, director for Homeland Security and Justice at GAO, said Friday. 'It's becoming harder to come and go.' The Tucson, Arizona, section of the border, where immigrants spend days walking through the hot desert and risk dehydration, accounted for nearly half of all deaths recorded along the border in 2005. 'Many migrants suffer severe dehydration and heat exhaustion as a result of attempting to cross the desert where temperatures can exceed (46C) in the summer,' the report said. The GAO study analyzed data compiled from the Border Patrol's Border Safety Initiative, the National Center for Health Statistics and state registries of deaths on the border between 1985 and 2005. While immigrant deaths almost doubled in the 10-year period, there was no corresponding doubling of illegal immigrant entries, the report said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"The Prisoners Speak"
By Jonathan Raban
The New York Review of Books, issue of 6 October 2006
"Most moviegoers whom I've watched leaving the cinema after seeing 'The Road to Guantánamo' have been wordless and whey-faced, numbed, as I was, by the film's distressingly vivid recreation of brutal interrogations in the American detention camp on Cuba's south coast (sequences that were filmed on location in—of all places—Iran). It takes a while to realize that one has witnessed something more than a shocking indictment of the peculiar institution of Guantánamo Bay. Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross's drama-documentary, a deliberately confusing medley of fact (interviews, news footage) and fictional devices (lavishly filmed reenactments), also has the great merit of exposing the special fog of 'asymmetric' as opposed to conventional warfare. Grueling as it is to watch, and it's the most protracted ninety-minute movie I've ever seen, it is packed with sly insights into Bush's 'long war,' hitherto known as the global war on terror. [...]"

"Canada, US Blamed for Sending Innocent Man to Torturers"

By Ian Austen
The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 September 2006
"A commission of inquiry has cleared a Canadian computer engineer of any links to terrorism and blamed Canada and the US for deporting him to Syria, where he was jailed and tortured. The commission's report, published on Monday, was the result of a 2½-year inquiry that represented one of the first public investigations into mistakes made as part of the US's program of secretly spiriting suspects to foreign countries for interrogation and torture. The report said US officials had acted on inaccurate information from Canadian investigators that Maher Arar was a dangerous radical and that he and his wife, a university economist, should be placed on an al-Qaeda watchlist. US authorities seized Mr. Arar after he landed in New York on his way home from a holiday in Tunisia. The US flew him in a government aircraft to Jordan, then transported him to Syria. 'I am able to say categorically there is no evidence to indicate Mr. Arar has committed any offence or that his activities constituted a threat to the security of Canada,' said the commission's head, Justice Dennis O'Connor. The report's findings could reverberate heavily through the leadership of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which handled the initial intelligence on Mr Arar. The US Government refused to co-operate in the inquiry. [...]"

"President's Incitements to Commit Genocide"
By Liaquat Ali Khan
Baltimore Chronicle, 19 September 2006
"On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, President George Walker Bush delivered an illegal speech and may have committed an international crime, that is, the crime of direct and public incitement to commit genocide of a religious group. Determined to rally disbelieving Americans behind a failed Iraqi war, the President drifted into calling for open-ended violence against Muslims. Says the President: 'The war against this enemy is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century, and the calling of our generation.' The President identifies 'this enemy' as Muslim extremists. The 9/11 speech is one among many through which the President has engaged, and continues to engage, in direct and public incitements to commit violence and other crimes against Muslims as a religious group. ... The incitement to genocide is a verbal attempt to exhort, persuade, encourage, and provoke the audience and troops to killing members of the target group. Part of the incitement is to dehumanize the target group, showing through words that the target group is subhuman, a threat, dangerous, and worthless. The President paints the target religious group as 'dangerous enemies,' one that is 'driven by a perverted vision of Islam,' that espouses 'hateful ideology,' that 'will not leave us alone,' that 'will follow us,' and one that will use 'the weapons of mass destruction.' These descriptions of the target group cause fear, anger, and arousal, urging the audience and troops to do something, including killings. Since the group is defined in a broad manner, the incitement to kill provides no specifics. It cultivates combat and preemption through any means necessary, including physical elimination of the group. [...]"
[n.b. The author is "a professor of law at Washburn University School of Law in Topeka, Kansas."]

"U.S. War Prisons Legal Vacuum for 14,000"
By Patrick Quinn
Associated Press dispatch on, 16 September 2006
"In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law. Disclosures of torture and long-term arbitrary detentions have won rebuke from leading voices including the U.N. secretary-general and the U.S. Supreme Court. But the bitterest words come from inside the system, the size of several major U.S. penitentiaries. 'It was hard to believe I'd get out,' Baghdad shopkeeper Amjad Qassim al-Aliyawi told The Associated Press after his release -- without charge -- last month. 'I lived with the Americans for one year and eight months as if I was living in hell.' Captured on battlefields, pulled from beds at midnight, grabbed off streets as suspected insurgents, tens of thousands now have passed through U.S. detention, the vast majority in Iraq. Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken. Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were 'mistakes,' U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross. ... Human rights groups count dozens of detainee deaths for which no one has been punished or that were never explained. The secret prisons -- unknown in number and location -- remain available for future detainees. The new manual banning torture doesn't cover CIA interrogators. And thousands of people still languish in a limbo, deprived of one of common law's oldest rights, habeas corpus, the right to know why you are imprisoned. [...]"