Friday, November 24, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
November 17-24, 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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"Forensic Experts Exhume 156 Bodies from Mass Grave in Northeast Bosnia"
By Samir Krilic
Associated Press dispatch on, 24 November 2006
"Forensic experts exhumed bodies of 156 people from a mass grave found recently in northeastern Bosnia that is believed to be connected to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, officials said Friday. In addition, 'blindfolds, wires, wallets, watches of the victims of Srebrenica massacre from 1995 have been found in the grave,' said Jasna Subotic, spokesman for the district attorney in charge of genocide crimes, announcing the completion of the exhumation. The grave in Snagovo village was found earlier in November after experts received a tip-off from an undisclosed source, said Murat Hurtic, head of Bosnia's Missing Persons Commission. It is the seventh mass grave Hurtic's team has found near Srebrenica, the scene of Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War. Snagovo is about 50 kilometres north of Srebrenica. Near the end of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Bosnian Serbs overran Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave, which the United Nations had declared a safe zone, and killed as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Thousands of Srebrenica victims have been exhumed from over 60 mass graves around the town, and more than 2,500 of them were identified by DNA analysis. ... Local and international experts have been digging for years in Snagovo, finding so-called 'secondary' mass graves in the area just outside of the city of Zvornik on the border with Serbia. Such graves contain bodies originally buried elsewhere, but later moved to the 'secondary' location in an effort to cover it up. The remains are often only partial, as those involved in reburying them often used bulldozers to bring them up from the first grave. At the Snagovo grave just excavated, Subotic said, 90 whole bodies and 66 incomplete bodies were exhumed."


"Officials Mull Khmer Rouge Trials"
BBC Online, 20 November 2006
"Cambodian and international judges are meeting to discuss the rules to be applied during the trials of the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The session, planned to last a week, has been preceded by discussions over the role of foreign lawyers and public participation in the process. The issue of whether the defendants can get a fair trial has also been debated. About two million people died during the years that the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia in the 1970s under Pol Pot. Which of the former Khmer Rouge leaders will be prosecuted first may be announced before the end of the year. The UN-backed trials are due to start in 2007, and could mean that surviving leaders of the brutal Maoist regime -- some of whom are still living freely -- will be called to the dock. The Khmer Rouge trials process started four months ago, but Cambodian and international legal officials still have to agree on many of the procedures for the trials. Differences in legal systems have to be addressed -- not just between local and international laws, but among the various legal codes used by the international officials. Already the draft rules have been criticised. Human rights groups have warned that the trials could be swamped by a flood of lawsuits from members of the public. The Cambodian Bar Association has said it will try to block foreign lawyers from representing defendants. And the principal defender has raised doubts over whether a fair trial is possible for men who have been vilified publicly for more than two decades. [...]"


"Colombian Militia Chiefs Offer to Confess Atrocities"
Associated Press dispatch on, 23 November 2006
"The imprisoned leaders of Colombia's right-wing militias called Thursday for the creation of a truth commission where they can confess their actions in the brutal civil war. The announcement came as a scandal deepened over ties between the paramilitaries, responsible for thousands of killings, and Colombia's political class. 'We understand and accept that a fundamental part of the Justice and Peace Law lies in the confession of the truth of what occurred in the recent history of our national tragedy,' said a statement signed by all the paramilitary leaders who have been held at a special prison for two months as part of a peace deal with the government. The warlords, accused of some of the worst atrocities in Colombia's five-decade conflict pitting the government and far-right militias against leftist rebels, also urged their supporters to confess. 'We ask publicly that those who urged us on, collaborators and direct beneficiaries, the businessmen, industrialists and political leaders ... members of the security forces, join us in this task without apprehension or fear,' the statement said. The paramilitaries' targets included leftist guerrillas, their civilian supporters, civic leaders, human rights workers, journalists and anyone who revealed the extent of the paramilitaries' infiltration of Colombia's public institutions. Authorities are investigating five politicians, including a former governor and two senators, for ties to the paramilitaries, with some accused of murder, helping to steal public funds and extortion. As part of the peace deal, which saw the demobilization of more than 30,000 fighters, the leaders will stand trial in special tribunals where they can be sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Colombian Government Shaken By Lawmakers' Paramilitary Ties"
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, 18 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"The government of President Álvaro Uribe is being shaken by its most serious political crisis yet, as details emerge about members of Congress who collaborated with right-wing death squads to spread terror and exert political control across Colombia's Caribbean coast. Two senators, Álvaro García and Jairo Merlano, are in custody, as is a congressman, Eric Morris, and a former congresswoman, Muriel Benito. Four local officials have been arrested, and a warrant has been issued for a former governor, Salvador Arana. All are from the state of Sucre, where the attorney general's office has been exhuming bodies from mass graves -- victims of a paramilitary campaign to erode civilian support for Marxist rebels in Colombia's long conflict. The investigation, which has revealed how lawmakers and paramilitary commanders rigged elections and planned assassinations, has shaken Colombia's Congress to its core. One powerful senator from Cesar state, Álvaro Araujo, has warned that if he is targeted in the investigation, it would taint relatives of his in the government and, ultimately, the president, whom he has strongly supported. The arrests and disclosures about the investigation, which is focusing on at least five more members of Congress, come weeks after prosecutors leaked a report revealing how paramilitary fighters have killed hundreds of people, trafficked cocaine to the United States and sacked government institutions while negotiating a disarmament with Uribe's government. [...]"


"Croatia Marks Massacre in Vukovar"
BBC Online, 18 November 2006
"More than 20,000 people have gathered to commemorate the fall of the Croatian town of Vukovar to Yugoslav forces during the war in 1991. Political leaders and ordinary Croats, each carrying a red rose, walked to the town's memorial cemetery. The three-month siege and bombardment of Vukovar was a particularly brutal episode during the Croatian war of independence from Yugoslavia. More than 1,000 civilians were killed in the eastern town. 'Vukovar defended Croatia, we are proud to be here,' Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said during the commemoration ceremony. 'We have a duty to thank those who gave their lives for the defence of the city,' he said. The town was devastated before it fell to the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army. More than 1,000 Croats and non-Serb civilians were massacred and thousands more expelled from the town. Serbian courts later sentenced 14 former militiamen to jail terms of up to 20 years for the massacre of at least 200 prisoners of war seized in a Vukovar hospital. The prisoners were taken to a nearby pig farm, where they were executed in what became known as the Ovcara massacre. Three senior Serb officers are also being tried before the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague for suspected war crimes committed in Vukovar."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Germany and the Armenian Genocide"
Khatchig Mouradian interviewed by Margaret Anderson
'The issue of German responsibility in the Armenian Genocide has been researched by a number of scholars in the past decades. The Ottoman Empire was an ally of Germany during WWI, when up to a million and a half Armenians were uprooted from the Empire and perished in a state-sponsored campaign of mass annihilation. On June 15, 2005, the German Parliament passed a motion honoring and commemorating 'the victims of violence, murder and expulsion among the Armenian people before and during the First World War.' The Bundestag deplored 'the deeds of the Young Turkish government in the Ottoman Empire which have resulted in the almost total annihilation of the Armenians in Anatolia.' The Bundestag also acknowledged and deplored 'the inglorious role played by the German Reich which, in spite of a wealth of information on the organized expulsion and annihilation of Armenians, has made no attempt to intervene and stop these atrocities.' In this interview with Professor Margaret Anderson, conducted by phone from Beirut, we discuss issues related to Germany and the Armenian Genocide. [...]"
[n.b. A fascinating interview that should be of interest to all scholars of the Armenian genocide.]


"Germany's Pictures of Uncertainty"
By Jess Smee
The Guardian, 22 November 2006
"[...] Germany is grappling with the tricky legacy of artworks stolen by the Third Reich, some of which still hang, in pride of place, in museums across the country. Bernd Neumann, the German culture minister, met the curators of the country's leading museums in Berlin this week in an attempt to smooth out the way in which they deal with claims on artwork plundered by the Nazis. Legally and morally, it's an open and shut case -- works of art stolen from Jewish families in the 1930s and 40s must be returned to their rightful heirs. The reality, however, is more fraught. Murky historical records and the lure of millions of euros on the international art market mean the issue is now big business. As Mr. Neumann put it: 'The museums complain that there is now a highly developed restitution trade operating along hard and fast commercial principles.' Such fears were aired at this week's meeting, and the debate revealed the broad sweep of the situation. Around 1,000 German museums and galleries are bracing themselves for restitution claims -- there are claims on 100 works from the expressionist period alone. Emotions are running high following the controversial return of the German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Berlin Street Scene to the heirs of its former owner. That case was hotly disputed by some experts, who argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove whether the painting was looted or its Jewish owners had been paid for it in the 1930s. Adding to the controversy, the work was promptly sold to the cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder at a New York auction for $38m (£19.9m). The huge price tag put it far out of reach for its former owner, Berlin's Die Bruecke museum, fuelling fears that Germany was likely to see an exodus of important artworks. [...]"


"Israeli-Arab Activist in Mission to Tackle Iran over Holocaust"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 18 November 2006
"An Israeli-Arab lawyer plans to travel to Iran next month to preach his message at an official conference that all Muslims need to appreciate the true magnitude of the Holocaust. Khaled Mahameed, who started the Arab world's first Holocaust museum in Nazareth, has been invited to address the conference, Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision, in Tehran on 11 and 12 December. Mr. Mahameed said yesterday his challenge to the questioning of the Holocaust by the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would be: 'Do not deny or even argue about the authenticity of the Holocaust ... You are not helping the Palestinian people. You are hurting their cause.' Mr. Mahameed was invited to attend the conference after sending copies of articles he had written on Jewish suffering in the Second World War to various Iranian contacts as a correction after the President's views were reported. He has also established a modest private exhibition in the first floor of his house of 80 harrowing photographs purchased from Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial and museum to the victims of the Holocaust, in Jerusalem, with captions he has translated into Arabic. A leaflet he has written gives a sympathetic and factual account of the horrors. ... He said: 'People say I am a crazy for making this issue the centre of my life. They should realise that I am serving the Palestinian cause. The world will not see our Nakba [the 'disaster' or flight of Palestinians from their homes in 1948] before we could feel for their Holocaust.' [...]"


"The Death Squads" [Multimedia]
A powerful and disturbing 48-minute documentary, produced by Channel 4 in the UK, on Iraqi government complicity in death-squad killings. The gendercidal element to the slaughter is particularly vividly conveyed.

"Saddam Trial 'Flawed and Unsound'"
BBC Online, 20 November 2006
"The trial of Saddam Hussein was so flawed that its verdict is unsound, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch says. HRW said 'serious administrative, procedural and substantive legal defects' meant the 5 November trial for crimes against humanity was not fair. The Iraqi government has dismissed the report, telling the BBC that the trial was both 'just and fair.' The ex-Iraqi leader has two weeks to lodge an appeal but his lawyer claims he has been blocked from doing so. Chief defence lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi told the BBC his team had been prevented from filing appeal papers. Under Iraqi law it must be done within a month of sentencing. However, the chief prosecutor, Jafaar al-Mousawi, has told the BBC it was a fair trial. He said the appeal would be automatic because a death sentence had been passed -- and that the relevant papers had been sent to the appeal court. ... HRW based its scathing assessment on extensive observation of court proceedings, and interviews with judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and court administrators involved. The trial took just over one year to complete and was the first case brought before the Iraqi High Tribunal. Proceedings were marked by frequent outbursts by both judges and defendants. Three defence lawyers were murdered, three judges left the five-member panel and the original chief judge was replaced. Defence lawyers boycotted proceedings but HRW said court-appointed counsel that took their place lacked adequate training in international law. In addition, important documents were not given to defence lawyers in advance, no written transcript was kept and paperwork was lost, said HRW. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the complete text of the HRW report.]

"Time for Another Body Count in Iraq"
By Sheldon Rampton, 18 November 2006
"[...] As for the gap between the Lancet figure and deaths reported by the Iraqi Health Ministry, a number of Iraqi commentators (some of whom I quote below) have noted that conditions in many parts of the country as so unstable as to prevent reliable government accounting. Moreover, the question of how many people have died in Iraq has been politically charged since the start of the war, and the United States has not only avoided issuing statistics of its own but on a number of occasions has also pressured Iraqi officials against doing so. ... The results of the Lancet study, combined with what we know about the limitations of other attempts to count the dead, suggest that the war in Iraq has already claimed hundreds of thousands rather than tens of thousands of lives. It is rather striking, moreover, that critics of this research have mostly avoided calling for additional, independent studies that could provide a scientific basis for either confirming or refuting its alarming findings. The Lancet researchers themselves have called for such research. 'At the conclusion of our 2004 study,' they state, 'we urged that an independent body assess the excess mortality that we saw in Iraq. This has not happened. We continue to believe that an independent international body to monitor compliance with the Geneva conventions and other humanitarian standards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, those voices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be able to lessen the tragic human cost of future wars.'"
[n.b. This is an excellent, detailed review of the debate over the Lancet's finding of 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq since the US-led invasion. It includes a broad sampling of views, rarely heard, from Iraqis themselves.]


"Gaza Suffering 'Massive' Rights Violations -- U.N."
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters dispatch, 20 November 2006
"A senior United Nations official described Gaza as suffering 'massive' human rights violations during a visit to the territory on Monday and urged all sides to be bold in trying to end the violence. 'The violation of human rights I think in this territory is massive,' Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, told reporters during a visit to Beit Hanoun, a town the Israeli army shelled earlier this month, killing 19 civilians. 'The call for protection has to be answered. We cannot continue to see civilians, who are not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what I see.' Arbour, on a five-day trip to the region, spent time at the house of a family who had lost more than a dozen members in a shelling on Nov. 8, when Israel says a mistake led to the barrage of artillery shells hitting the neighbourhood. Her visit, the first she has made to the region since becoming commissioner, comes days after the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution that 'deplored' Israel's shelling of Gaza and called for an immediate cessation of violence. Asked what she planned to do about the rights violations, Arbour said: 'I will help to keep the conscience of the many who care about what happens in this part of the world alive. I will speak to the Palestinian Authority about their responsibility to enforce the law, to create an environment in which people can seek protection of the law and, of course, I will also speak to the Israeli authority. We need to collectively call on leaders, political, military and militia leaders, to have the courage to break the cycle of violence to ensure the well-being of civilians.' [...]"


"More Than 60 Years On, Details of the Holocaust Keep Unfolding"
By Arthur Max
Associated Press dispatch in the International Herald Tribune, 17 November 2006
"[...] This vast archive in six nondescript buildings in a German spa town contains the fullest record of Nazi persecution in existence. But because of concerns about the victims' privacy, the ITS has kept the files closed to the public for half a century, doling out information in minimal amounts to survivors or their descendants on a strict need-to-know basis. This policy, which has generated much ill-feeling among Holocaust survivors and researchers, is about to change. In May, after years of pressure from the United States and survivors' groups, the 11 countries overseeing the archive agreed to unseal the files for scholars as well as victims and their families. In recent weeks the interim director of the ITS, Jean-Luc Blondel, has been to Washington, The Hague and to the Buchenwald memorial with a new message of cooperation with governments and other Holocaust institutions. The ITS has allowed Paul Shapiro, of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, to look at the files and has also given some reporters extensive access on the condition that no names from the files are revealed unless they have been identified in other sources. [...]"


"Details of Mexico's Dirty Wars from 1960s to 1980s Released"
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, 22 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"Mexican authorities have quietly released an 859-page report that describes how three Mexican governments killed, tortured and disappeared dissidents and political opponents from the late 1960s until 1982. The release of the 'Historical Report to the Mexican Society' marks the first time that Mexico has officially accepted responsibility for waging a dirty war against leftist guerrillas, university students and activists. It includes declassified government records, photographs and details about individuals who were killed under the rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the authoritarian party that ruled the country for 71 years before being ousted in 2000. 'The authoritarianism with which the Mexican state subjected dissidents led to spiraling violence that led it to commit crimes against humanity, in crime after crime,' the report says. ... The report in Mexico offers chilling detail about how the state, with orders from up high, carried out a brutal offensive that included using electrical shocks, rounding up villagers and burning down villages in regions that authorities considered dangerously subversive. 'This was state policy,' said Jose Luis Contreras, spokesman for Special Prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, whose office conducted the investigation. 'The hypothesis is that they knew about the abuses, the executions and the disappearances.' ... Carrillo's office said 500 cases are open. But no one is currently facing charges, said Human Rights Watch, the New York-based group, and no one has been tried and convicted. 'They haven't found one disappeared person. They haven't punished a single person responsible,' said Rosario Ibarra, a senator whose son, Jesús Piedra Ibarra, disappeared in 1975. 'For us, the report is useless.' [...]"

"Mexican Ex-Presidents Blasted in Report"
By Julie Watson
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News
18 November 2006
"The Mexican government on Saturday released a long-awaited report that for the first time officially blamed 'the highest command levels' of three former presidencies for the massacres, tortures and slayings of hundreds of leftists from the 1960s to the 1980s. The report ends a five-year investigation by a special prosecutor named by President Vicente Fox to shed light on past crimes, including a 1968 student massacre and the disappearance of hundreds of leftist activists in the 1970s and early 1980s. The authoritarian regime, at the highest command levels, broke the law and committed 'crimes against humanity' that resulted in 'massacres, forced disappearances, systematic torture and genocide to try to destroy a sector of society that it considered ideologically to be its enemy,' said the report, based partly on declassified Mexican military documents. Special prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo, who was appointed in November 2001, handed his report to the Attorney General's Office late Friday. It was later posted on the Internet for the public, and Carrillo said it would presented at a ceremony with Fox before he leaves office Dec. 1. The incidents occurred during the administrations of Presidents Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Jose Lopez Portillo and Luis Echeverria. Asked by The Associated Press if the presidents knew of the atrocities but did nothing, Carrillo replied, 'Yes.' Carrillo said the report is only the beginning -- that the Mexican government must prosecute those responsible if it is to prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future. The state also must compensate victims' families, he said. 'This was not about the behavior of certain individuals,' Carrillo said. 'It was the consequence of an authorized plan to do away with political dissidents.' [...]"


"Ethnic Cleansing in Russia"
By Fred Weir
In These Times, 15 November 2006
"[...] Hatred of non-Slavs is a combustible political issue in Russia. 'Russians are the most discriminated-against group in Russia, and we help them to find their voice,' says Alexander Belov, chief ideologue of DPNI, Russia's fastest-growing grassroots organization. Lately many Russians have been mobilizing, with Belov's encouragement. Six days of rioting in the northern town of Kondopoga in late August left at least three people dead and forced hundreds of Caucasians to flee. 'The local people want them to go back where they came from,' says Belov. 'That's democracy. The rights of the majority should be respected.' Similar upheavals have been reported over the past six months, hitting far-flung Russian towns in Saratov, Chita, Rostov, Astrakhan and Irkutsk regions. A September poll conducted by the independent Levada Center found that 57 percent of Russians thought Kondopoga-style violence could break out in their town, while 52 percent said they agreed with DPNI's main slogan: 'Russia for the Russians.' ... [Recently], police descended on markets around the country, rounding up thousands of Caucasians -- not only Georgians -- whose documents showed any discrepancies. (Endemic corruption virtually ensures discrepancies in peoples' [sic] official documents.) Moscow schools were ordered to report children with Georgian-sounding names to police, so their parents could be investigated. By late October, about 100 Georgian 'illegal immigrants' were being deported to Tbilisi on special daily military flights. [...]"


[n.b. The following four articles are presented in chronological order.]

"French Prosecutors OK Rwanda Arrests"
By Pierre-Antoine Souchard
The Los Angeles Times, 20 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"French prosecutors on Monday approved international arrest warrants for nine Rwandan officials in connection with the 1994 attack that killed Rwanda's president, triggering the central African country's genocide. French anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who had sought approval from the Paris prosecutor's office, must now sign the order for the warrants to be issued. He is expected to do so in the coming days, judicial officials said. The nine officials are considered close to current Rwandan President Paul Kagame. They include Rwanda's armed forces chief James Kabarebe and army chief of staff Charles Kayonga, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Kagame is also considered to be among the suspects. However, immunity accorded by France to acting heads of state prevents French judicial authorities from issuing a warrant for him. France hopes to ask the Rwanda war crimes tribunal in Tanzania to pursue the case against him, the judicial officials said. The late President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was mysteriously shot down over the Rwandan capital of Kigali on April 6, 1994, setting off a barrage of Hutu killings of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. About 500,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed in 100 days. The French court is investigating the case because the plane's crew was French. The families of the pilot, co-pilot and mechanic, who all died in the crash, filed a suit in France in 1998. [...]"

"Rwanda Rejects Calls to Indict President"
By Gabriel Gabiro
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 21 November 2006
"Rwanda on Tuesday rejected calls by a French judge to indict President Paul Kagame over his alleged involvement in the death of the country's former leader, which sparked the 1994 genocide. 'The allegations are totally unfounded. The judge is acting on the basis of gossip and rumours,' Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said. Karugarama accused the Judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, of playing political games over the allegations that will further worsen the already frosty relations between Kigali and Paris. 'These are political games rather than a judicial process,' he said. On Monday, Bruguiere said Kagame should face prosecution for war crimes before the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) because of his 'suspected involvement' in the death of then-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. ... The [ICTR] tribunal last month turned down a request to consider an earlier account from Bruguiere into the killing of Habyarimana, which reportedly named Kagame as the main decision-maker behind the April 6 1994 attack in which Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed. The downing of Habyarimana's aircraft, in which Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira and a four-man French crew were also killed, sparked off the mass slaughter. Kagame, who headed the Tutsi rebel force that took power in Kigali in July 1994, ending the genocide, has always denied any involvement in the attack on the aircraft carrying Habyarimana. [...]"

"UN Rebuffs Judge's Call to Prosecute Kagame"
Independent Online (South Africa), 23 November 2006
"The United Nations genocide tribunal for Rwanda said on Thursday it was at nobody's behest to prosecute Rwandan President Paul Kagame for alleged complicity in the death of the country's former president as called for by a French judge. The tribunal's spokesperson Everard O'Donnell said 'the prosecutor takes instructions from nobody in the world,' rebuffing Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere's suggestion that Kagame should face trial before the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bruguiere said on Monday that Kagame should be prosecuted for 'suspected involvement' in the death of president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination touched off the country's 1994 genocide. O'Donnell said the April 6, 1994 shooting down of Habyarimana's plane, in which Burundi's then president Cyprien Ntaryamira and a four-man French crew were also travelling in, did not cause the genocide. 'The crash did not create the genocide,' O'Donnell told a press conference. 'Do you think we are historians?' [...]"

"Sense of Guilt Surrounds Search for Truth"
By Fergal Keane
The New Zealand Herald, 23 November 2006
"Will we ever learn the truth about this genocide? In the months leading up to the explosion of genocide in Rwanda in April 1994, human rights groups, diplomats and United Nations peacekeepers were warning of the danger of large-scale killing. Human rights organisation Africa Watch wrote: 'The perpetrators, high within Government circles, had made meticulous plans. A radio station under their control, Radio Mille Collines, had been whipping up anti-Tutsi hysteria for months. Secret arms caches were kept ready for use by Government soldiers and the party militia, the core cadre of which had been trained in the tactics of slaughter. Lists of Tutsis and their Hutu sympathisers had been compiled for targeting. Only a trigger was needed.' None of this would have escaped the attention of the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Major General Paul Kagame. He would have been well aware that Rwanda was a tinderbox. Any violent action by a group linked to the Tutsi minority could provoke a terrible response from the Hutu extremists. And it is this which makes the allegations from French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere so potentially devastating if proved to be true. In essence, Paris is alleging that Kagame and senior colleagues not only murdered two heads of state (Burundi's President was also travelling on the plane) but threw a match on a bonfire they knew to be soaked in petrol. ... Will any of this ever come before a French or United Nations court? It must be regarded as highly unlikely. The head of the UN tribunal has already declared the assassination of President Habyarimana to be outside the court's mandate. Investigators who did look at the matter for the UN have claimed their inquiries were shut down on orders from above. [...]"

"Ex-UN Rwanda Chief Testifies in Army Officers' Genocide Trial"
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, 20 November 2006
"Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, whose experiences heading the UN peacekeeping mission during the Rwandan genocide left him suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, will today testify in the war crimes trial of two senior-ranking army officials. Gen Dallaire will appear by video link from Canada after being advised by doctors that he would risk further mental trauma by appearing in person at the tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. The prosecution has subpoenaed Gen Dallaire as a witness against Augustine Bizimungu, the Rwandan army's chief of staff during the genocide, and Augustin Ndindiliyimana, who led the military police. The men are charged with leading roles in the 1994 massacres, which saw 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus killed by Hutu extremists in three months. Both of the accused, who deny the charges including genocide, are well known to Gen Dallaire. He was appointed as the UN's force commander in Rwanda in 1993 and given the job of overseeing a peace accord between the Hutu-led government and Tutsi rebels. Less than a year later, President Juvénal Habyarimana's plane was shot down over Kigali airport and the government and army helped spark the mass killings. [...]"


"Sudan's Darfur 'Close to Abyss'"
BBC Online, 23 November 2006
"UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has accused Sudan of fuelling the worsening conflict in the Darfur region. He said the number of people in 'desperate need' of aid in Darfur had risen to 4 million, compared to 1 million two years ago. Mr. Egeland said Sudan's government was obstructing international aid efforts and 'arming to the teeth' Arab militias accused of attacks on Darfur villagers. Only a 'change in will' in Sudan and abroad could improve matters, he said. Mr. Egeland made his comments in a report to the UN Security Council following his fourth visit to Darfur in his current capacity. He is expected to step down next month. The crisis in Darfur was 'closer to the abyss than I have witnessed since my first visit in 2004,' Mr. Egeland said. 'I return with a plea from beleaguered Darfurians for immediate action to finally stop the atrocities against them,' he said. Mr. Egeland said the number of refugees in urgent need of humanitarian aid had increased 'in a climate of massive re-armament.' An international relief operation could only reach 3 million people of the 4 million who now needed aid, he said. 'The Arab militias are being armed to the teeth by the government,' he said, while rebels fighting them are 'getting arms across the border.' [...]"

"How Will History Judge Us?"
By Anne Applebaum, 20 November 2006
"[...] I can offer no scientific explanation for why the tragedy of Darfur conjures up the specter of history's judgment and why other tragedies do not. But the answer must lie in the fact that this conflict has so few strategic or geopolitical implications. Because it seems to be in no one's 'interest' do so so, a call for a U.N. intervention in Darfur surely feels -- at least to Americans and Europeans who haven't followed China's involvement in Sudan's oil industry -- like an act of real charity and not more evidence of the West pursuing its interests. Equally important is the fact that Sudan plays no real role in Western domestic politics. Any discussion of North Korea will still evoke the Cold War, any conversation about Iran must touch on radical Islam. By contrast, when most of us look at Sudan, all we see is what Jan Egeland, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator, last weekend called 'acts of inexplicable terror.' Taking a stand against genocide in Sudan does not require anyone to take a parallel stand on communism, the war on terror, or the war in Iraq. It does not imply that you are left wing, right wing, pro- or anti-Bush. Once the United Nations is there, this may change: The U.S. intervention in Somalia immediately politicized what had also appeared to be an apolitical conflict. But at the moment, it is still possible to think of Darfur as an appropriate target for neutral humanitarianism. None of this, I should emphasize, is meant to disparage the work of the extraordinary Darfur coalition, which has pushed an obscure and terrible war into the center of the international spotlight. [...]"

"Heavy Toll Reported as Sudan Army Bombards Darfur"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 19 November 2006
"The African Union on Saturday reported a 'heavy' civilian toll after Sudanese forces and allied militia this week conducted raids in the war-ravaged western region of Darfur. The AU Mission in Sudan (Amis) reported a 'heavy toll on the civilian population' after the army, backed by Janjaweed militia, carried out aerial bombardments in Birmaza in northern Darfur on Wednesday and Thursday. 'These attacks are a flagrant violation of the security provisions of the DPA [Darfur Peace Agreement],' said a statement from the AU, whose mission is to monitor Darfur's often-violated peace deal. The pan-African body renewed calls for the rival parties, who have failed to heed several previous appeals, to refrain from hostilities and bring an end to the devastating conflict. Amis 'calls on all the parties to the conflict to exercise restraint, even in the face of provocation, and desist from carrying out condemnable indiscriminate attacks, which cause severe civilian casualties and the destruction of livelihoods,' the statement said. The ill-equipped and under-funded AU mission in Darfur has failed to stem the conflict, which erupted in February 2003 when rebels from minority tribes took up arms against their Islamic rulers in Khartoum. [...]"

"Sudan Closing Off Darfur to Outside World"
By Katharine Houreld
The Christian Science Monitor, 17 November 2006
"The African Union patrol was only seven miles from Sirba, the site of one of the latest Darfur massacres, when they were forced to turn back. Nearly 400 Arab militiamen in Sudanese government uniforms, with new Land Cruisers and weapons, blocked the dusty track. Tuesday's incident was only the latest in a crackdown on access for international observers, journalists, and humanitarian organizations -- a pattern that is becoming wearily familiar to those working in Darfur. 'The timing is no coincidence,' says Leslie Lefkow of Human Rights Watch. '[Sudan is] stemming the flow of information from Darfur while it continues to commit massive crimes and run a military campaign.' As outgoing UN chief Kofi Annan began a major push to stem the escalating crisis during high-level meetings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Thursday, the Sudanese government told top UN humanitarian official Jan Egeland that all his proposed destinations on a three-day trip to Darfur are too insecure to visit this weekend. Last week, the Norwegian Refugee Council announced it was being forced out of Darfur after its permit to operate had been indefinitely suspended for the fifth time, making working conditions 'impossible.' Other foreign aid workers say they have been denied permission to reenter the country after leaving to attend a family emergency or to seek medical treatment. [...]"

"Sudan Agrees 'In Principle' to UN-AU Force: Annan"
By C. Bryson Hull
Reuters dispatch, 16 November 2006
"Sudan accepts in principle U.N. and African Union forces in its war-ravaged Darfur region but has yet to agree on the number of troops to be deployed, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday. 'It is agreed in principle that, pending clarification of the size of the force, we should be able to take it forward,' he told reporters at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. 'The troops should be sourced from Africa as far as possible and the command and control structure would be provided by the U.N.,' he added. Diplomats said Sudan had concerns over both the size of the force in Darfur and its command structure. 'The U.N. says 17,000 (troops), that figure is very high. We think 11,000 to 12,000,' said Sudan's U.N. ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad. The United Nations plan, which estimates say could cost more than $1 billion a year, also calls for 3,000 police. [...]"


"Museum Sends Back Bones of Aboriginals to Tasmania"
By Steve Connor
The Independent, 18 November 2006
"Britain's national collection of human remains -- a unique information source on man's origins -- could soon be broken up after a decision to return the bones of 17 Aboriginals in the collection to Tasmania. The Natural History Museum in London announced yesterday that it has decided to set a precedent by giving the remains to a Tasmanian Aboriginal group which intends to cremate them in a funeral ceremony. ... There are 24 sets of humans remains from the 17 Tasmanian Aboriginals, which were collected in the 18th and 19th century and eventually donated to the museum. At the time of collection it was common for the bodies of paupers, executed murderers and workhouse inmates to be 'donated' to medical science or the wealthy curious. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre claimed that the remains were not given with full informed consent and therefore demanded their return under legislation that came into force last year. Professor Richard Lane, the museum's science director, said the trustees were convinced that the Tasmanian group had a legitimate claim. [...]"


"Anti-Castro Terrorist Gets Only 4 Years"
By Gloria La Riva, 16 November 2006
"A man like Santiago Alvarez, who can be heard on a telephone, calling on one of his underlings to throw C-4 explosives into Havana's Tropicana nightclub and 'do away with all that' -- all that being hundreds of people -- a man like Santiago Alvarez who had machine guns, bazookas and grenades in a massive Miami arsenal, is sentenced to only a four-year prison sentence this week in a southern Florida federal court. Yet, the Cuban Five, five men who were in Miami working to prevent a terrorist like Alvarez from killing innocent people, who never possessed a weapon, who never engaged nor intended to engage in the 'espionage conspiracy' they were falsely convicted of, received 15 years to double life after their 2001 trial, and the added punishment of being denied family visits. Alvarez and his accomplice Osvaldo Mitat were allowed to plead guilty to only one charge of weapons possession. Before their sentencing, federal judge James Cohn said, 'This court recognizes the ultimate objective and goal of Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Mitat has always been a free and democratic Cuba. This court does not question the altruistic motive here. However we are a nation of laws.' The government's and courts' impunity towards the Miami terrorists is becoming more and more blatant. Almost every day it seems, more news is coming to light in Miami of the vast and deep network of rightwing Cuban-American terrorists and their murderous plots ... Where is the justice? [...]"


"No Thanks to Thanksgiving"
By Robert Jensen, 23 November 2006
"[...] That the world's great powers achieved 'greatness' through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable. But in the United States, this reluctance to acknowledge our original sin -- the genocide of indigenous people -- is of special importance today. It's now routine -- even among conservative commentators -- to describe the United States as an empire, so long as everyone understands we are an inherently benevolent one. Because all our history contradicts that claim, history must be twisted and tortured to serve the purposes of the powerful. ... How does a country deal with the fact that some of its most revered historical figures had certain moral values and political views virtually identical to Nazis? Here's how 'respectable' politicians, pundits, and professors play the game: When invoking a grand and glorious aspect of our past, then history is all-important. We are told how crucial it is for people to know history, and there is much hand wringing about the younger generations' lack of knowledge about, and respect for, that history. In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who 'settled' the country -- and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things. But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, 'Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?' [...]"


"Italy's Spy Chief Ousted over CIA Kidnap Case"
By Tracy Wilkinson
The Los Angeles Times, 21 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Monday dismissed the government's top intelligence chief, a veteran spymaster under investigation for his role in the alleged CIA abduction of a radical Egyptian cleric from Milan three years ago. With his removal, intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari became the highest-level Italian official to lose his job over the case, adding to suspicions that the previous government collaborated more closely with the CIA than has been acknowledged. Pollari's No. 2 was arrested over the summer, and Italian prosecutors are seeking the arrest of 26 Americans, mostly CIA operatives. The Americans are accused of hunting down and seizing the cleric and then transporting him secretly to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. Pollari repeatedly denied having had advance knowledge of the abduction. But testimony from colleagues and evidence gleaned from police wiretaps suggest otherwise. Pollari, who led the military intelligence agency known as SISMI, may face indictment. Parliament's intelligence committee was to begin debating his fate today. Portions of the committee's draft report, released last week, accuse Pollari of lying to authorities and covering up SISMI's involvement in the abduction case. Cleric Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized in February 2003 as he walked to a mosque in Milan. His was one of dozens of so-called extraordinary renditions the U.S. government conducted as part of its controversial attempt to pursue terrorism suspects. Many of the suspects ended up in third countries known to practice torture or in clandestine prisons run by the CIA. [...]"

"Kill Bill -- Neutering Bush's Torture Law", 20 November 2006
"Of the many good things we are beginning to see before the newly-constituted Democratic Congress even assumes power, one of the most gratifying is the move by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) to neuter the hideous Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), passed by the Republicans, and signed by George W. Bush in October. On Friday, Dodd introduced legislation to amend Bush's 'torture bill,' remove the almost-dictatorial powers it has given the White House and neutralize the bastardizing effect it's had on the United States Constitution. 'I strongly believe that terrorists who seek to destroy America must be punished for any wrongs they commit against this country,' said Dodd, in introducing this important measure. 'But in my view, in order to sustain America’s moral authority and win a lasting victory against our enemies, such punishment must be meted out only in accordance with the rule of law.' The text of the MCA may fill almost 40 pages, but it only takes a few paragraphs of Dodd's 10-page Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act (S.4060) to render its most onerous aspects moot. I analyzed Dodd's bill over the weekend and am writing this piece to give you the basics of how it fixes the Constitutional ruin imposed by the MCA and puts the power of the executive branch of government back in its rightful place. This should tell you all you need to know about both the disease and the cure. [...]"

"American Anthropologists Stand Up Against Torture and the Occupation of Iraq"
By David H. Price, 20 November 2006
"In San Jose, on Saturday evening, November 18, 2006, the rank and file members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) attending the Association's business meeting approved resolutions condemning the occupation of Iraq and the use of torture. These two resolutions were co-written by Roberto González, an associate professor of anthropology at San Jose State University, and Kanhong Lin, a graduate student in anthropology at American University. The first resolution condemns the American occupation of Iraq; calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops, the payment of reparations, and it asks that all individuals committing war crimes against Iraqis be prosecuted. This statement passed with little debate or dissent. The second resolution condemns not only the use of torture by the Bush administration, but it denounces the use of anthropological knowledge in torture and extreme interrogations. The AAA's statement stands in stark contrast with the American Psychological Association's ambivalent policies which provides psychologists working in military and intelligence settings with some cover should they wish to assist in extreme interrogations or torture. One of the concerns underlying this resolution comes from reports by Seymour Hersh that CIA interrogators consulted anthropological works such as Raphael Patai's book, The Arab Mind, to better design culture-specific means of torture and interrogation. This resolution passed unanimously with little debate. Both of these resolutions must now be presented to the full membership of the American Anthropological Association in a mail ballot in the next few months. [...]"

"Missing Presumed Tortured"
By Stephen Grey
New Statesman, 20 November 2006
"[...] In the first years after the attacks of 11 September, thousands of Taliban or suspected terrorist suspects were captured. Just in Afghanistan, the US admitted processing more than 6,000 prisoners. Pakistan has said it handed over around 500 captives to the US; Iran said it sent 1,000 across the border to Afghanistan. Of all these, some were released and just over 700 ended up in Guantanamo, Cuba. But the simple act of subtraction shows that thousands are missing. More than five years after 9/11, where are they all? We know that many were rendered to foreign jails, both by the CIA and directly by the US military. But how many precisely? The answer is still classified. No audit of the fate of all these souls has ever been published. ... Last month, Bush signed into law his new Military Commissions Act, which provides for the trial at Guantanamo of top al-Qaeda leaders. The act grants fewer rights to defendants than the Nazis got at Nuremberg. And yet, in this strange world, the rights now granted to men such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who devised the 9/11 attack and who will now be brought to trial, still rank far higher than the rights of the small fry, those much less significant players behind bars in foreign jails. In this new justice, the big terrorists are granted privileges, and the other missing prisoners, subtracted from the public record, are disappeared off the face of the earth. That's the mathematics of torture."

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