Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
October 23-31, 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 adamj_jones@hotmail.com.

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"Iranian Ex-Leader Sought in Argentina"
By Oscar Serrat
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Post, 26 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"Argentine prosecutors asked a federal judge on Wednesday to order the arrest of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and seven other people in the 1994 suicide bombing of a Jewish community center here that killed 85 people. The decision to attack the center 'was undertaken in 1993 by the highest authorities of the then-government of Iran,' prosecutor Alberto Nisman said at a news conference. He said the actual attack was entrusted to the Lebanon-based group Hezbollah. The detonation of an explosives-laden vehicle near the Jewish center in Buenos Aires was among the worst terrorist attacks ever on Argentine soil. In addition to killing 85 people, the attack injured more than 200. Iran's government has vehemently denied any involvement in the bombing, following repeated accusations by Jewish community leaders and others here. Iranian authorities in Buenos Aires declined to comment. Prosecutors urged the judge to seek international and national arrest orders for Rafsanjani, who was Iran's president from 1989 to 1997. They also asked the judge to detain former intelligence chief Ali Fallahijan and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati. In addition, they urged the arrest of two former commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, two former Iranian diplomats and a former Hezbollah security chief for external affairs. Nisman and fellow prosecutor Marcelo Martínez Burgos said they suspected that Hezbollah undertook activities outside Lebanon only 'under orders directly emanating from the regime in Tehran.' [...]"


"This Film Is Pure Fiction, But the Chase Is All Too Real"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 25 October 2006 [Registration required]
"In all the time that Radovan Karadzic has been on the run, numerous tales about his whereabouts have emerged. After being indicted by United Nations prosecutors as a war crimes suspect 11 years ago, Mr. Karadzic, the former leader of Bosnia's Serbs, has supposedly been sighted disguised as a monk, spotted in a police car escaping from pursuing soldiers and even slipping into Sarajevo, Bosnia's capital, to sip coffee under the noses of international officials responsible for his arrest. Now a film starring Richard Gere as a journalist and partly shot in this city aims to tell a small chapter in one of those tales. 'Spring Break in Bosnia' is a black comedy loosely based on an actual attempt by a group of journalists to track down Mr. Karadzic. The filmmakers say they hope the movie, due out next year, will shame the international community into making his arrest a higher priority, so that he will finally go on trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Some 100,000 people, a majority of them Bosnian Muslims, are estimated to have died in the war, which lasted from 1992 to 1995. Many people in Bosnia have mixed feelings about Hollywood tackling such a fraught issue. Mr. Karadzic is the figure most reviled by Muslims and Croats, who are a majority of the population, yet many Serbs laud their former leader as a hero. [...]"


"Pinochet Faces Charges over Secret-Prison Abuses"
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 28 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"Gen. Augusto Pinochet was indicted Friday in connection with abuses at one of his regime's secret prisons, where President Michelle Bachelet and her mother were once held and mistreated, a lawyer said. Judge Alejandro Solis said he would make an announcement Monday on the indictment connected to abuses at Villa Grimaldi. Local media said the 90-year-old former strongman would face charges in one homicide, 36 kidnappings and 23 cases of torture at the prison used by his secret police in the first five years of his 1973-90 dictatorship. The reports said the indictment included an order for Pinochet to remain under house arrest at his suburban Santiago mansion. Solis, who questioned Pinochet earlier this month, has said Pinochet's health, including his mental condition, will not prevent him from standing trial, and that 'he is lucid enough to understand the consequences of what he says.' During the questioning, Solis said, Pinochet said he did not remember and was not responsible for the actions of his security forces at the prison, where according to official reports 4,500 people were held and tortured and more than 200 disappeared. Previous attempts to try Pinochet have failed after the courts dropped the charges on health grounds. He has been diagnosed with mild dementia resulting from several strokes. He also suffers from diabetes and arthritis and needs a pacemaker."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"China Takes Heat after Tragic Flight of Tibetan Teenager"
By Daniel Pepper
The Christian Science Monitor, 25 October 2006
"[...] Kelsang Namtso had become a Buddhist nun just last year, at the tender age of 16. Her friend, Dolma Palkyi, 16, wanted to go to India, and meet the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, before taking her vows. ... The girls' journey began with a two-day truck ride west from the Tibetan capital city of Lhasa. They joined a group of 73 others, led by two smugglers, making the mountain crossing. For the next two weeks, the group walked mostly at night and slept during the day, at times braving high winds and deep snow. ... The group was walking single file and had just reached the 18,753-foot Nangpa La Pass when they heard the distinct 'zing' of bullets passing on either side. 'They were shooting all around,' says Tenzin Wangmo, one of three nuns walking directly behind Kelsang. They never saw the Chinese policemen. 'When the shooting was going on I just prayed to His Holiness the Dali Lama to kindly save us,' she recounted softly. When a bullet hit young Kelsang, she collapsed into the snow, crying that she had been hit and asked for help. But the nuns themselves were weak with cold, fatigue, and hunger. ... About half the group was captured by Chinese police. The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced the death of a second victim, a 23-year-old male, days later in a hospital, stating he died from 'oxygen shortage.' China's official news agency, Xinhua, reported on Oct. 12 that Chinese police opened fire in self-defense after the Tibetans attacked them. Human rights groups say the Tibetans were unarmed, and that the male victim died from gunshot wounds. [...]"


"Congo Votes in Peaceful Poll But Many Fear War after Result"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 30 October 2006
"Millions of people in the Democratic Republic of Congo voted yesterday in the first free presidential elections since independence in 1960, and in the hope of ending a decade of invasion and civil war thought to have killed 4 million people. The ballot was orderly with a steady stream of enthusiastic voters and few irregularities reported. But there is a widespread anxiety that the promise of the election bringing peace, and even laying the foundation for a new prosperity across central Africa, could be lost in conflict over the election result. ... Officials with the UN peacekeeping force in Congo, the largest in the world at 17,600 troops, say they want to see the results released as soon as possible to head off destabilising speculation, particularly in the capital, Kinshasa, where about 30 people were killed in three days of fighting after the first round. The EU has sent 1,400 troops to Kinshasa for the vote with a second force on standby in neighbouring Gabon. The election has divided the country along regional lines. Mr Kabila has strong support in the east, where the war has been fought, because he is seen as having calmed the conflict through a 2002 peace agreement that brought Mr Bemba into the government. Mr Bemba is widely regarded in the east as a warlord with a lot of blood on his hands. [...]"


"Croatian Fights Extradition After Arrest on War Crimes Warrant"
By Audrey Gillan
The Guardian, 24 October 2006
"He was convicted of war crimes in his native Croatia and sentenced to 20 years in his absence. But it was an arrest for shoplifting that brought Milan Spanovic to the attention of the British authorities. Yesterday, the 44-year-old, who lives in Carshalton, south London, was fighting extradition to the country that convicted him of being part of a Serbian paramilitary unit which burned, looted and terrorised two villages. He is believed to be the first Balkan war criminal found in Britain. The existence of an international arrest warrant might have remained unnoticed had Sutton police not entered Mr Spanovic's details on their computer. The man accused of stealing from shops had been found guilty of 'war crimes against the civilian population.' In August 1991 about 40 members of a Serb gang crashed into the villages of Maja and Svracica and 'committed acts of violence and theft.' Papers laid before Westminster magistrates court yesterday seeking Mr Spanovic's extradition claim that he was part of the gang and that they opened fire on unarmed villagers. [...]"


"Violence in France's Suburban Projects Gets Organized"
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 22 October 2006
"On a routine call, three unwitting police officers fell into a trap. A car darted out to block their path, and dozens of hooded youths surged out of the darkness to attack them with stones, bats and tear gas before fleeing. One officer was hospitalized, and no arrests made. The recent ambush was emblematic of what some officers say has become a near-perpetual and increasingly violent conflict between police and gangs in tough, largely immigrant French neighbourhoods that were the scene of a three-week paroxysm of rioting last year. One small police union claims officers are facing a 'permanent intifada.' Police injuries have risen in the year since the wave of violence. More broadly, worsening violence in France testifies to Europe's growing struggle to integrate its ethnic minorities. Some mainstream European politicians -- adopting positions previously confined largely to far-right fringes -- are suggesting that the minorities themselves are not doing enough to adapt to European mores. ... Some youth gangs no longer seem content to throw stones or torch cars and instead appear determined to hurt police officers -- or worse. 'First, it was a rock here or there. Then it was rocks by the dozen. Now, they're leading operations of an almost military sort to trap us,' said Loic Lecouplier, a police union official in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris. 'These are acts of war.' National police reported 2,458 cases of violence against officers in the first six months of the year, on pace to top the 4,246 cases recorded for all of 2005 and the 3,842 in 2004. Firefighters and rescue workers have also been targeted -- and some now receive police escorts in such areas. [...]"


"Hungary Remembers 1956 Uprising"
BBC Online, 22 October 2006
"Hungary has begun ceremonies to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the uprising against Soviet rule. President Laszlo Solyom spoke at a ceremony on Sunday, calling for national unity in a country that has seen bitter recent political divisions. On Monday, events will include the unveiling of a huge monument in Budapest's Heroes Square to those who died in the events of 1956. Soviet troops put down the uprising in 12 days amid bloody fighting. ... The uprising started in Budapest on 23 October 1956, with a crowd of 23,000, the reading of a pro-democracy manifesto and the singing of banned national songs. By evening, there were 200,000 people in the centre of Budapest. The Soviet response was swift. Air and artillery assaults on Hungarian cities preceded an armoured invasion by 17 tank and infantry divisions. Imre Nagy, the reforming Prime Minister, made a final impassioned plea to the outside world by radio. He and hundreds of others were arrested and executed, among thousands of Hungarians who died. [...]"


"Operation Enduring Chaos: The Retreat of the Coalition & Rise of the Militias"
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent, 30 October 2006
"[...] Ironically, the death squads are the result of US policy. At the beginning of last year, with no end to the Sunni insurgency in sight, the Pentagon was reported to have decided to train Shia and Kurdish fighters to carry out 'irregular missions.' The policy, exposed in the US media, was called the 'Salvador Option' after the American-backed counter-insurgency in Latin America more than 20 years ago, which led to 70,000 deaths and countless instances of human rights abuse. Some of the most persistent allegations of abuse have been made against the Wolf Brigade, many of whom were formerly in Saddam's Baathist forces. Their main US adviser until April last year was James Steele, who, in his own biography, states that he commanded the US military group in El Salvador during the height of the guerrilla war and was involved in counter-insurgency training. The complaints against Iraqi special forces continue. [...]"
[n.b. For more on the "Salvador option" in Iraq -- that is, the death-squad and mass-murder option -- see Christopher Dickey, "Death-Squad Democracy," MSNBC.com, 11 January 2005; and Max Fuller, "For Iraq, 'The Salvador Option' Becomes Reality," GlobalResearch.ca, 2 June 2005.]

"Iraqis Better Off under Saddam, Says Former Weapons Inspector"
CBC News, 25 October 2006
"The war in Iraq is a 'pure failure' that has left Iraqis in a worse state than when they lived under Saddam Hussein, former United Nations chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said in comments published Wednesday. 'Iraq is a pure failure,' Blix was quoted as saying in the Danish newspaper Politiken. 'If the Americans pull out, there is a risk that they will leave a country in civil war. At the same time it doesn't seem that the United States can help to stabilize the situation by staying there.' Blix, in comments that were seen as unusually critical for the diplomat, said the U.S. is facing a situation where neither staying to fight nor pulling its troops out of Iraq are good decisions. Blix said Iraq would have been better off if the war had not happened. 'Saddam would still have been sitting in office. OK, that is negative and it would not have been joyful for the Iraqi people. But what we have gotten is undoubtedly worse,' he was quoted as saying. [...]"

"UK Scientists Attack Lancet Study over Death Toll"
By Sarah Boseley
The Guardian, 24 October 2006
"A study which found that more than 650,000 Iraqi people have died since the US-led invasion was attacked yesterday by scientists in the UK, who claimed that the households interviewed tended to be located in violence-hit streets. Sean Gourley and Professor Neil Johnson of the physics department at Oxford University and Professor Michael Spagat of the economics department of Royal Holloway, University of London, claimed the methodology of the study was fundamentally flawed by what they term 'main street bias.' But the lead author of the study, which was published by the Lancet medical journal, said their criticism was 'a misconception.' Gilbert Burnham of the Johns Hopkins school of public health in Baltimore, said the methodology had not been published in full by the Lancet and that streets away from obvious conflict had been chosen. Prof Spagat and colleagues levelled their criticism in email exchanges with Prof Burnham and colleagues which were mediated by Science magazine. They claimed the sampling methods used 'will result in an over-estimation of the death toll in Iraq.' ... But Prof Burnham said the researchers penetrated much further into residential areas than was clear from the Lancet paper. The notion 'that we avoided back alleys was totally untrue.' He added that 28% of households were in rural areas -- which matches the population spread. Others had suggested that it was impossible for 40 households to be surveyed in one day -- but in fact the researchers were split into two teams and conducted 20 household interviews each, he said. 'Our point is that it is a big number, we set out to prove that we had the power to say the mortality rate has more than doubled.'"

"Hunting Gays In Iraq: How the Death Squads Work"
by Doug Ireland
ZNet.org, 23 October 2006
"'Every gay and lesbian here lives in fear, just pure fear, of being beaten or killed,' says Ahmad, a 34-year-old gay man, via telephone from his home in Baghdad. 'Homosexuality is seen here as imported from the West and as the work of the devil.' Ahmad is masculine and 'straight-acting,' he says. 'I can go out without being harassed or followed.' But that's not the case for his more effeminate gay friends. 'They just cannot go outside, period,' he says. 'If they did, they would be killed.' To help them survive, Ahmad has been bringing food and other necessities to their homes. 'The situation for us gay people here is beyond bad and dangerous,' he says. Life for gay and lesbian citizens in war-torn Iraq has become grave and is getting worse every day. While President Bush hails a new, 'democratic' society, thousands of civilians are dying in a low-level civil war -- and gays are being targeted just for being gay. The Badr Corps -- the military arm of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI for short), the country's most powerful Shiite political group -- has launched a campaign of 'sexual cleansing,' marshaling death squads to exterminate homosexuality. When Iraq's chief Shiite cleric, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, removed a fatwa calling for death to gay men from his Web site earlier this year -- it wasn't removed for lesbians -- some observers thought the antigay reign of terror might end. But the fatwa still remains in effect; indeed, persecution of gay Iraqis has only escalated. [...]"
[n.b. This is the first I have read on this subject, and it is a detailed and sickening article.]


"Israel's Minister of Strategic Threats"
By Jonathan Cook
Counterpunch.org, 25 October 2006
"The furore that briefly flared this week at the decision of Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to invite Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party into the government coalition is revealing, but not in quite the way many observers assume. Lieberman, a Russian immigrant, is every bit the populist and racist politician he is portrayed as being. Like many of his fellow politicians, he harbours a strong desire to see the Palestinians of the occupied territories expelled, ideally to neighbouring Arab states or Europe. Lieberman, however, is more outspoken than most in publicly advocating for this position. Where he is seen as overstepping the mark is in arguing that the state should strip up to a quarter of a million Palestinians living inside Israel of their citizenship and seal them and their homes into the Palestinian ghettoes being created inside the West Bank (presumably in preparation for the moment when they will all be expelled to Jordan). He believes any remaining Arab citizens should be required to sign a loyalty oath to Israel as a 'Jewish and democratic state' -- loyalty to a democratic state alone will not suffice. Any who refuse will be physically expelled from Israel. And, as a coup de grace, he has recently demanded the execution for treason of any Arab parliamentarian who talks to the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories or commemorates Nakba Day, which marks the expulsion and permanent dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948. That would include every elected representative of Israel's Arab population. ... In the newly established post of Minister for Strategic Threats, Lieberman -- the avowed Arab hater -- will shape Israel's response to Iran, leading the chorus threats being made by Israel that the country is only a hair's breadth from dropping bombs, possibly nuclear warheads, on Tehran. After that, he will presumably help the government decide what other 'strategic threats' it faces. [...]"

"Israel Admits Phosphorous Bombs Used in Lebanon"
By Helen McCormack
The Independent, 23 October 2006
"The Israeli government has admitted for the first time that it used controversial phosphorous bombs during its 34-day war campaign in Lebanon. Cabinet Minister Jacob Edery confirmed that the army had used the bombs to attack 'military targets' during its war with Hizbollah in July and August. Previously, Israel had said the bombs had only been used to mark out targets. During the conflict, doctors in Lebanon reported treating civilians who appeared to have been hit by the shells, which leave their victims with severe chemical wounds that can be fatal. The reports led the Lebanese President, Emile Lahoud, to accuse Israel of breaching the Geneva Convention, which bans the use of white phosphorous both as an incendiary weapon against civilians and in air attacks against military forces in civilian areas. Yesterday, reports in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz revealed that Mr Edery confirmed to parliament last week that it had used the bombs during its operations this summer. ... The admission of the use of the bomb comes as a 12-year-old boy was killed in Lebanon after ordnance from a cluster bomb exploded in his village in Halta, in southern Lebanon. ... His death brings the total number of recorded victims of cluster bomb explosions in Lebanon since the conflict began to 21, with another 100 injured, according to the United Nations. [...]"


"Swiss Minister Wants to Legalise Genocide Deniers"
By Oliver Bradley
European Jewish Press, 23 October 2006
"Switzerland's justice minister has called on the Swiss government to reverse a law which makes historical revisionism illegal. Minister Christoph Blocher is on a campaign to change the law, according to the Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper -- even if it will impinge upon the sensitivities of minority groups, including the country's Jewish communities. Blocher claims that freedom of expression is more important than protecting the sensibilities of minority groups, NZZ wrote. Blocher just returned from a trip to Turkey where a public discussion of the Armenian genocide is de facto punishable by a court of law. Upon his return home, Blocher said that he believes that Swiss laws needs to be a beacon for other nations. As far as the minister is concerned, a ban on free speech in Turkey has made an effective public discussion of the Armenian genocide and Kurdish issues there impossible. In effect, he claims that widening the possibilities for freedom of speech in Switzerland might entice other countries to do the same. [...]"

"Coveting the Holocaust"
By Chris Hedges
Truthdig.com, 23 October 2006
"I sent my New York University journalism students out to write stories based on any one of the themes in the Ten Commandments. A woman of Armenian descent came back with an article about how Armenians she had interviewed were covetous of the Jewish Holocaust. ... She was not writing about the Holocaust itself -- no one covets the suffering of another -- but how it has become a potent political and ideological weapon in the hands of the Israeli government and many in the American Jewish community. While Armenians are still fighting to have the genocide of some 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks accepted as historical fact, many Jews have found in the Nazi Holocaust a useful instrument to deflect criticism of Israel and the dubious actions of the pro-Israeli lobby as well as many Jewish groups in the United States. Norman Finkelstein, who for his writings has been virtually blacklisted, noted in 'The Holocaust Industry' that the Jewish Holocaust has allowed Israel to cast itself and 'the most successful ethnic group in the United States' as eternal victims. Finkelstein, the son of Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, goes on to argue that this status has enabled Israel, which has 'a horrendous human rights record,' to play the victim as it oppresses Palestinians or destroys Lebanon. This victim status has permitted U.S. Jewish organizations (the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress and others) to get their hands on billions of dollars in reparations, much of which never finds its way to the dwindling number of Holocaust survivors. Finkelstein's mother, who was in the Warsaw ghetto, received $3,500, while the World Jewish Congress walked away with roughly $7 billion in compensation moneys. [...]"
[n.b. The author is "the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and author of the bestseller 'War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.'"]


"Mercy vs. Justice as Liberia Heals Itself"
By Abraham McLaughlin
The Christian Science Monitor, 26 October 2006
"On a remote, palm-lined beach along West Africa's coast, inside a breeze-filled bungalow, an earnest cabal of nine men and women is plotting to overthrow the old order in their war-weary homeland. With laptops blazing, and a bed sheet strung up for viewing PowerPoint presentations, they debate such issues as how to help victims of war testify in public -- and whether to subpoena warlords-turned-members of parliament. Meet the members of Liberia's new Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Theirs is the latest of the 30-plus truth commissions held around the world since 1974, including South Africa's, which famously charted a healing path for its postapartheid nation. The group includes a bishop who unconditionally forgave the men who killed his father, a former journalist who gave up the good life in America to help her homeland, and a young, untested chairman who'll be the ultimate arbiter as the TRC tackles a looming dilemma: Should wrongdoers -- in this case warlords and fighters who carried out horrific wartime atrocities -- be punished or forgiven or something in between? In short, what's the best path to healing: justice or mercy? In a fragile nation emerging from 14 years of civil war, the TRC members know that too much rough-edged 'justice' risks igniting backlashes and fresh violence. Yet too much well-meaning "mercy" may leave grievances unaddressed, setting the stage for future conflict. Clearly, much is at stake, not least because Liberia is so connected with its war-prone West African neighborhood. Another Liberian war could reignite regional instability. Nor are there obvious institutions -- besides the TRC -- to help build a durable peace. As Priscilla Hayner of the New-York-based International Center for Transitional Justice says of the TRC: 'This is sort of it.' [...]"

"Ex-Liberian President Tries to Block Testimony"
Associated Press dispatch on CNN.com, 23 October 2006
"Lawyers for ex-president Charles Taylor have petitioned Liberia's Supreme Court to prohibit the nation's truth commission from hearing testimony or evidence regarding the ex-rebel leader's alleged crimes, officials said Monday. Taylor is awaiting trial at The Hague, Netherlands, on war crimes charges. The truth commission, modeled after a similar body in South Africa, is investigating crimes and gross human rights abuses committed in Liberia over the last quarter century. The commission will make recommendations to the government on who should be granted reparations, receive amnesty or face prosecution. The lawyers' petition called on the court to issue a writ of prohibition against any evidence or testimony produced before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on the grounds that Taylor was not present to defend himself. They also argue it could affect the outcome of the Hague trial. Truth commission officials said they had not received any official communication from the court on the matter and therefore would not comment. Taylor's name was mentioned before the commission October 15 when a former combatant, 28-year-old Mohammed Sheriff, alleged Taylor ordered him and a group of former Taylor fighters to carry out a series of killings. The lawyers' petition asks 'that all such evidences be declared nonexistent and expunged and obstructed from the records. These kinds of lies and publications certainly do have legal capacities to effect the petitioner's ongoing trial in The Hague,' the petition said. [...]"


"Federal Judge Frees Former Mexican President"
Associated Press dispatch on Fox21.com, 31 October 2006
"A lawyer for former Mexican President Luis Echeverria says genocide charges were dropped against his client when a judge ruled that the statute of limitations had expired. Attorney Juan Velazquez says the federal judge has overturned a house arrest order on the genocide charges, which stem from a 1968 student massacre. Echeverria was interior secretary when it took place. He went on to serve as president from 1970-1976. The decision is the latest blow to prosecutors' attempts to bring charges against Echeverria for his actions during Mexico's so-called Dirty War, a violent crackdown on leftist dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s. Prosecutors can still appeal the decision."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Herero Genocide Motion Adopted"
By Brigitte Weidlich
The Namibian (on AllAfrica.com), 27 October 2006
"The National Assembly yesterday adopted without any objections a motion dealing with the genocide inflicted by German colonial rule on Namibians a century ago. The motion called for the issue to be debated and for dialogue with Germany on reparations. Herero Paramount Chief Kuaima Riruako tabled the motion a month ago and 13 MPs, mainly from the opposition parties, contributed to the debate. In his short reply, Riruako thanked the House for debating the motion in a mature manner. 'The debate highlighted that what happened to our people during 1904 and 1908 as a result of General Lothar von Trotha's extermination order was a brutal act of genocide sanctioned by the German government of the day and that our people are entitled to demand the payment of reparations from the German government,' Riruako said. It further emerged during the debate over the past four weeks that the Namibian Government should be an interested party in any discussion between its nationals and Germany on the issue of reparations, while a dialogue should be held between both governments and representatives of those Namibian communities who were affected by the genocide, Riruako added. '(We should) try and resolve this matter amicably and thereby strengthen and solidify the existing excellent relations between the two countries,' the Herero Chief emphasised. Adopting the motion was the absolute minimum that could be done as a legislative body 'to honour the memory of our ancestors who laid the foundation for the war of liberation that led to our Independence on March 21 1990,' Riruako concluded."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"N. Korea Criticized for Abuse of Citizens"
By Edward Harris
Associated Press dispatch in The Columbus Dispatch, 30 October 2006
"A Nobel prize-winning Holocaust survivor, an anti-Soviet dissident and a former European leader called yesterday for U.N. Security Council action on North Korea over its 'egregious' human rights record. Elie Wiesel, who survived a Nazi death camp and later won a Nobel Peace Prize, commissioned a 123-page report detailing North Korean atrocities with dissident playwright-turned-Czech President Vaclav Havel and a former prime minister of Norway, Kjell Magne Bondevik. In the report, the three said the dispute over the country's nuclear program should not eclipse deadly political repression there. Instead, the report said, the council should open another path to influence North Korea by taking on leader Kim Jong Il's regime over its treatment of the country's 23 million people. ... The report argues that Security Council action is warranted under a resolution unanimously approved in April by the 15-nation council that endorsed a 2005 agreement aimed at preventing tragedies like the 1994 Rwanda genocide. North Korea's actions toward its people -- such as food policies that helped fuel a late-1990s famine that killed as many as 1 million -- present a nontraditional threat to international peace, which the report argues is covered by the recent resolution. The report urged the Security Council to adopt a nonpunitive resolution that would demand unhindered access to North Korea by humanitarian workers, the release of all political prisoners and the admission of U.N. human-rights investigators. [...]"


"North Ossetian MPs Pass Statement on 'Genocide'"
Civil George (Tbilisi), 29 October 2006
"Lawmakers in Russia's North Ossetian Republic passed a statement on October 28 calling on the Russian State Duma, the lower house of Parliament, to condemn the crackdown by 'Georgian national-extremist forces' on South Ossetians in 1920 as a genocide of the Ossetian people, Regnum and Kavkazky Uzel news agencies reported. 'The scale and systematic nature of repressions against the Ossetian people in Georgia give reason to conclude that this repression was genocide,' the North Ossetian Parliament's statement reads. Russian President Vladimir Putin has noted several times in recent statements that the authorities in breakaway South Ossetia are accusing Georgians of 'ethnic cleansings.' Currently, there few discussions in Georgia about Ossetian-related developments in 1918-20. Some historians in Georgia say that the then newly-established Georgian Republic had to send troops to Tskhinvali, Java and the villages located in the vicinity of Roki Pass to crack down on rebels that were inspired by Russian Bolsheviks, who in turn were seeking to take over Georgia."
[n.b. this is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Rwanda Begins Probe into Alleged French Genocide Role"
Reuters dispatch on CNN.com, 24 October 2006
"A Rwandan government-appointed commission launched a probe on Tuesday into allegations French troops supported soldiers behind Rwanda's 1994 genocide and helped facilitate mass murder. ... Kigali says France backed the government of Rwanda's former President Juvenal Habyarimana, providing military training for government forces, despite knowing that some within the leadership were planning to use the troops to commit genocide. France, which sent in soldiers under an operation authorized by the United Nations, has always denied any involvement in the killings. Officials said a seven-man commission, appointed by the government in April, will hear testimony from 20 witnesses over the next week. The testimony could be used as evidence in any legal action taken by Kigali against France. 'We will summon people like former militiamen who were trained and commanded by the French to kill as well as female survivors who accuse some French soldiers of rape,' Jean Paul Kimonyo a member of the commission told Reuters. 'We are also going to invite foreign witnesses including French nationals to testify before the commission.' A French parliamentary commission in 1998 cleared France of responsibility for the genocide but said 'strategic errors' had been made. 'The French sent troops, weapons, trained killers and manned roadblocks to facilitate murderers in achieving their mission of exterminating Tutsis,' Jacques Bihozagara, a former Rwandan ambassador to France, told the commission. [...]"

"Why Jeannette Employs Her Family's Killers"
By Abraham McLaughlin
The Christian Science Monitor, 24 October 2006
"A tall, slender Tutsi woman named Jeannette Nyirabaganwa has at least 100 perfectly good reasons never to speak to Anastaz Turimubakunzi again. That's how many of Jeannette's relatives, including her husband, parents, and baby, were killed during the 1994 genocide that raced through her hometown here in Africa's midsection. Anastaz is a confessed killer who, Jeannette says, helped murder her husband. Yet Jeannette does, in fact, speak to Anastaz regularly. She even pays him - along with other Hutus who killed her relatives -- to work on her coffee farm. Increasingly, their uneasy partnership is paying off: The beans they grow and pick together are being sold, along with those of many other Rwandan coffee farmers, to Starbucks and other high-end US coffee purveyors, creating growing prosperity for her, him, and others. Jeannette's explanation of how she can stand to work alongside such men is utterly pragmatic: After genocide laid waste to Rwanda, she says, 'The only solution was to go together with my countrymen' -- even the killers. 'There was no alternative.' This is a tale of Rwandan-style reconciliation. It may seem almost incomprehensible to outsiders, yet in some cases it works here. It's driven largely by economics: Coffee is Rwanda's biggest export. To get the beans grown, harvested, and processed, both killers and victims from the genocide are striking an uneasy peace born of economic codependence. 'They need each other to make that container of coffee,' says Timothy Schilling, a coffee consultant, referring to steel shipping containers that are packed with beans and shipped overseas. [...]"
[n.b. An important and moving story by one of the Monitor's best journalists.]


"Serbs Claim Kosovo after Struggle in Referendum"
By David Charter
The Times, 30 October 2006
"Voters in Serbia backed a new constitution reinforcing sovereignty over Kosovo last night before a UN assessment of the province's suitability for independence. The referendum on the country's new constitution only narrowly reached the 50 per cent threshold for success after desperate last-minute television appeals by Vojislav Kostunica, the Prime Minister, who gave warning of 'unforeseeable consequences' if it failed. ... While the document will put the state of Serbia on a legal basis after the independence of Montenegro, its claim that Kosovo is 'integral' to the country is widely seen as a provocative act when some form of independence is likely to be proposed by the UN soon. ... While Kosovo lies within Serbia's southern borders, it has been under UN control since Nato's armed intervention to stop ethnic cleansing of the province in 1999 and is widely understood to be heading for some kind of independence. Mr. Kostunica had hoped for a resounding demonstration of traditional Serb patriotism before the long-awaited verdict on the status of Kosovo by Martii Ahtisaari, the UN Special Envoy. But the struggle to secure a 'yes' vote after a month-long campaign led by the Government and the Serbian Christian Orthodox Church suggested widespread antipathy towards the political establishment in Belgrade. The vote took place amid rising international tensions over Kosovo, with fears that Russia could veto independence moves at the UN because of concerns over a precedent for Chechnya. Similarly, China might feel that independence would set a precedent for relinquishing its claim to Taiwan or Tibet. [...]"


"Govt's HIV Policy 'Is Genocide'"
By Zinkie Sithole
News24.com (South Africa), 30 October 2006
"British billionaire Richard Branson has helped build a R44m health centre for villagers in Mpumalanga because the government's own intervention programmes are 'useless.' The outspoken head of Virgin told Lilliesdale villagers at the opening of the clinic near Bushbuckridge at the weekend that the government's delay in addressing HIV/Aids was unnecessarily killing tens of thousands of people and was equivalent to genocide. 'This government is not doing enough ... the little that they are doing could be seen as genocide,' he said. '(The government) is killing thousands of its own people.' The government's lack of interest in saving people with Aids was demonstrated, he said, in the way that the national health department declined an offer by one of his friends to buy antiretrovirals worth $100m (almost R1bn) for the country. [...]"


"Sudan Would Allow Doubling of Darfur Force"
The Guardian, 25 October 2006
"Sudan is willing to accept a large increase in the number of foreign peacekeepers in Darfur with a stronger mandate to protect civilians, as long as they remain under African Union control, President Omar al-Bashir has told the Guardian. The force could have logistical help from European and Arab countries, he added, warning that any UN attempt to impose foreign troops could lead to 'such troops becoming a target of attacks and part of the conflict, not the solution.' Sudan has come under intense international pressure in recent weeks over the three-year conflict in its western region after the security council passed a resolution calling for 20,000 UN troops to replace the African Union's 7,000-strong force. Senior US and British envoys travelled to the capital, Khartoum, last week to urge the ruling coalition government to let the peacekeepers in. The Arab League's secretary-general has also discussed new options with the government. In his first interview since the diplomatic missions, Mr al-Bashir refused to give ground. Denying reports that the Arab League had suggested he accept troops from Arab or Muslim countries outside Africa, he insisted any non-African help for the AU be confined to equipment and logistics. [...]"

"No Justice for Darfur Rape Victims"
By Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 25 October 2006
"[...] Fiona Laird, a midwife posted until recently at southern Darfur's Kalma camp with the aid agency Médecins Sans Frontiéres, MSF, spoke in a BBC radio interview about the horrific rape cases she had seen on a daily basis. The worst case was that of a nine-year-old girl who had left the refugee encampment to gather grass for thatch and as fuel. A smiling man approached her and asked her to help him. She agreed, but as they moved further from the camp she told him her mother had told her not to wander so far. Turning ugly, the man gagged her and tied her on top of the bundles of grass before raping her repeatedly. On release, she staggered back to the camp where Laird treated her for bleeding so severe that the child was unable to walk for many days afterwards. In new reports to the United Nations Security Council, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and six separate UN agencies have condemned what they describe as a 'massive upsurge in rape in Darfur.' The reports come as the Nairobi-based African Women's Development and Communications Network, FEMNET, has urged the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague to bring alleged rapists in Darfur to trial. 'The ICC offers an alternative avenue for justice -- other than that provided by Sudan -- for the women and girls who comprise almost ninety per cent of the victims in the Darfur conflict,' said FEMNET communications officer Christine Butegwa. The UN reports say that attacks on women and girls occur both inside and outside the refugee camps, with many different groups participating in the crimes. Warring parties seek retribution against their opponents by inflicting humiliating punishment on civilians in complete disregard of obligations under international law. [...]"

"Grim New Turn Likely to Harden Darfur Conflict"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 23 October 2006 [Registration Required]
"Haroun Abdullah Kabir stepped from one bloodied corpse to another on the parched, rocky battlefield. He searched the soldiers' decomposing faces for an aquiline nose, fair complexion or fine, straight hair: telltale Arab features. Instead Mr. Kabir, a field commander of the Darfur rebels fighting the Arab-dominated Sudanese government, found among the Sudanese soldiers his men had felled only the dark-skinned faces of southern Sudanese and Darfurians. He looked away in disgust. 'You see, they send black men to kill black men,' he said. 'We are waiting for them to send Arabs for a real fight.' This is the new battlefield in Darfur, a blood-soaked land in which at least 200,000 people have died since early 2003, many of hunger and disease, as a result of a campaign of violence the Bush administration and others have called genocide. For the first time in more than two years, rebels fighting the government for more autonomy are making brazen, direct and successful attacks on soldiers, and are declaring that all previous cease-fires are no longer in effect. The latest peace agreement, signed in May and heavily backed by the United States but approved by only one rebel faction and the Sudanese government, is in disarray. The government vows to crush the rebellion, and as its military struggles to fend of attacks, it will likely turn again to Arab militias called janjaweed to wage its counterinsurgency campaign, analysts say. [...]"

"Sudan Expels UN Official for Blog Revealing Darfur Military Defeats"
By Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 23 October 2006
"Sudan is to expel the UN's top official in the country after he reported two military defeats for the government and other embarrassing details in the largely invisible war in the western region of Darfur. Journalists and aid workers have minimal access to the conflict zone to check claims and counter claims by government and rebel commanders as well as displaced villagers, but Jan Pronk used his authority as Kofi Annan's special representative to make sensitive statements on his weblog. This month he reported heavy government casualties, the sacking of several generals and the mobilising of Arab militias to make up for a fall in army morale after frightened troops mutinied. His remarks were quickly denounced by the Sudanese army which described Mr Pronk as a security threat and the foreign ministry has told him to leave the country by midday Wednesday. ... The highly unusual expulsion of a UN official is likely to sour relations between Khartoum and the UN, which were already tense because of Sudan's refusal to accept a security council resolution calling for 20,000 troops to move into Darfur to protect civilians. Ironically, Mr Pronk had made it clear he personally agreed with Sudan's position that African Union troops could do the job just as well, provided they had proper funds and equipment. He was also a critic of the Bush administration for its confrontational line towards Khartoum. [...]"


"The Way the World Ends"
By Helen Caldicott
The Ottawa Citizen (on CommonDreams.org), 21 October 2006
"[...] While lateral proliferation is indeed an incredibly serious problem as ever-more countries prepare to enter the portals of the nuclear club, one consistent outstanding nuclear threat that continues to endanger most planetary species is ignored by the international community. In fact, the real 'rogue' nations that continue to hold the world at nuclear ransom are Russia and the United States. Contrary to popular belief, the threat of a massive nuclear attack -- whether by accident, human fallibility or malfeasance -- has increased. Of the 30,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, the United States and Russia possess 96 per cent of them. Of these, Russia aims most of its 8,200 strategic nuclear warheads at U.S. and Canadian targets, while the U.S. aims most of its 7,000 offensive strategic hydrogen bombs on Russian missile silos and command centres. ... Most towns and cities with populations over 50,000 on the North American continent are targeted with at least one hydrogen bomb. Only 1,000 bombs exploding on 100 cities could induce nuclear winter and the end of most life on earth. There are fewer than 300 major cities in the Northern hemisphere. Such is the redundancy of nuclear weapons. A U.S. Foreign Military Studies Office report of January 2002, 'Prototypes for Targeting America, a Soviet Military Assessment,' states that New York City, for example, is the single most important target in the Atlantic region after major military installations. A U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment report, commissioned in the 1980s but still relevant, estimated that Soviet nuclear war plans had two one-megaton bombs aimed at each of three airports that serve New York, one aimed at each of the major bridges, two at Wall Street and two at each of four oil refineries. The major rail centres and power stations were also targeted, along with the port facilities. The Federal Emergency Management Agency estimates that New York City would be obliterated by nuclear blasts and the resulting firestorms and fallout. [...]"


"The Horrors of 'Extraordinary Rendition'"
By Maher Arar
Foreign Policy in Focus (on CommonDreams.org), 27 October 2006
"[...] After 12 hours of detention, unlawful detention in Jordan I was eventually driven to Syria. And I just didn't want to believe that I was going to Syria. I always was hoping that someone, a miracle would happen -- the Canadian government would intervene. A miracle would happen that would take me back to my country Canada. I arrived in Syria that same day, at the end of the day and I was able to confirm that I was in fact in Syria after my blindfold was removed and I was able to see the pictures of the Syrian President. My feeling then is I just wanted to kill myself because I knew what was coming. I knew that the Americans, the American government send me there to be tortured. Sometime later the interrogators came in. They started asking questions, routine questions at the beginning, but whenever I hesitated to answer their questions or whenever they thought I was lying one of them would threaten me with a chair, a metallic chair with no seats in it, only the frames. And back then I did not understand or I did not know how they would torture people with it. I later learned that from other prison inmates. But the message was clear: if you don't speak quickly enough we will torture you. That day, the interrogation lasted about four hours. There was no physical beating; there was only verbal threats. Around midnight, they took me to the basement. In the basement, the guard opened a door for me, a metallic door. I could not believe my eyes. I looked at him and I said, what is that? He didn't answer. He just said to me: Enter. [...]"

"Cheney Endorses Simulated Drowning"
By Mark Tran
The Guardian, 27 October 2006
"The use of a form of torture known as waterboarding to gain information is a 'no-brainer,' the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, told a radio interviewer, it was reported today. Mr. Cheney implied that the technique -- a form of simulated drowning -- was used on the alleged September 11 mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held at Guantánamo Bay. In an interview with Scott Hennen, a conservative radio show host in Fargo, North Dakota, on Tuesday, Mr Cheney agreed with the assertion that 'a dunk in water' could yield valuable intelligence from terror suspects. 'Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?' Mr. Hennen asked. 'Well, it's a no-brainer for me,' Mr. Cheney replied. 'But for a while there, I was criticised as being the vice president for torture. We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in.' In some versions of waterboarding, prisoners are strapped to a board and their faces covered with cloth or cellophane while water is poured over their mouths to stimulate drowning. In others, they are forced head first into water. Mr. Cheney's comments set him at odds with the Military Commissions Act, which bars, under all circumstances, treatment of prisoners that inflicts serious physical or mental pain or suffering. [...]"

"The End of Habeas Corpus and the Belligerent Despot-in-Chief"
By Ralph Nader
Counterpunch.org, 23 October 2006
"[...] If you want more evidence of how obsessively-compulsed George W. Bush is about his wars, their fabrications, budgets and cover-ups, consider his cue card statement on the legislation at the White House signing ceremony. 'It is a rare occasion when a president can sign a bill he knows will save American lives,' he declared. Hello! He has rejected all kinds of occasions to save American lives here at home. He has refused to do anything about the widespread and preventable mayhem known as medical and hospital malpractice, while fanatically pushing for restrictions on the right of such victims or their next of kin to have their full day in court. At least 80,000 Americans die from malpractice just in hospitals every year, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. The same Presidential pen could have saved thousands of more lives and prevented many more injuries were it to alight on safety legislation and larger budgets for reducing job-related sickness and trauma (58,000 lost lives a year) and air pollution (65,000 lives a year) -- to name a few categories of preventable violence. But he signaled from the onset of his Presidency that such bills would be opposed from the getgo. And once again remember his incompetence in letting U.S. soldiers -- hundreds of them die in Iraq from the lack of adequate body armor. At the signing event, Mr. Bush called the legislation 'a way to deliver justice to the terrorists we have captured.' To him all captured subjects are ipso facto convicted terrorists. It is not as if his record gives any credence to such fantasies. But he persists in his deception none the less. Out of nearly 700 prisoners in Guantánamo Bay, he has charged only ten after over four years of detention. Ten! Why? Mostly, as military, civilian lawyers and other monitors have said, because the vast majority of these abused or beaten prisoners were innocent from the day of their apprehension -- victims of bounty hunters in Afghanistan and surroundings. [...]"

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