Saturday, January 27, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
January 20-27, 2007

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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"Ex-Argentine Leader Faces New Charges"
Reuters dispatch on, 25 January 2007
"Former Argentine President Isabel Peron faced new charges in Spain on Thursday over her alleged authorization of killings, torture and kidnappings of leftist dissidents during her 1974-1976 rule. An Argentine judge wants to extradite her over links to an anti-communist death squad that operated during her chaotic 20-month rule, a spokeswoman for Spain's high court said. Peron, 75, was arrested by Spanish police at her home near Madrid on January 12 after another Argentine judge ordered her to return to Argentina to answer questions about the disappearance in 1976 of a student activist last seen being taken into custody by state security officials. She was released from custody but must appear at a police station every 15 days while Spain awaits an Argentine extradition request. Peron was sworn in as Argentine president in 1974 after the death of her husband, Juan Domingo Peron, a three-time president. She struggled to hold on to power amid violence between leftist guerrillas and anti-communist death squads. She was deposed in a 1976 coup that ushered in seven years of 'dirty war,' during which between 11,000 and 30,000 dissidents were kidnapped and killed. Peron has lived in exile in Spain since 1981. [...]"


"Rules Dispute Imperils Khmer Rouge Trial"
By Seth Mydans
The New York Times, 25 January 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Cambodian judges were on one side and the foreign judges on the other this week in a dispute that captures a decade of difficulties in bringing to trial the last surviving leaders of the murderous Khmer Rouge. If they cannot agree on procedural rules soon, analysts and officials at the tribunal say, some foreign judges may walk out. That would cast a deeper shadow over a process that some critics say is already so compromised as to be of doubtful value. Seventeen Cambodians and 12 foreigners took office as judges and prosecutors in July, inaugurating a United Nations-sponsored process that mixes Cambodian law with international standards of justice. It is an awkward formula made more questionable by the meager qualifications of the Cambodian judges, who are seen as poorly trained and subject to political manipulation. Pragmatists say that a flawed trial is better than none and that there is no choice but to proceed with the tribunal you have rather than the tribunal you may wish to have. ... The foreign co-prosecutor, a Canadian named Robert Petit, has been pursuing the evidence vigorously but has not said where it is leading him. In an interview, he said he was ready to propose his first indictments once the judges formalized the rules at a plenary session tentatively set for March. A trial might then begin by the end of the year. Cambodia and the United Nations agreed on the structure of the mixed tribunal in 2003 after years of negotiations that involved technical and political differences. Those differences remained at the heart of the disagreements that have stalled the trial since November, say experts on the tribunal. A rules committee of nine judges is trying to resolve the differences. Sean Visoth, the tribunal's Cambodian coordinator, said, 'If there is no compromise and there is no plenary, the international judges will walk away.' [...]"


"Palestinians Under Pressure To Leave Iraq"
By Joshua Partlow
The Washington Post, 25 January 2007
"The shouting in his Baghdad apartment building woke Luay Mohammed seconds before intruders broke down his door. The men, some wearing police uniforms, entered before dawn demanding identification cards, Mohammed recalled. They tore the doors off the closet, threw the television on the floor and hauled Mohammed and his two barefoot brothers outside to be blindfolded. They and 14 other men were taken to what they thought was a government office, where a man others kept calling 'sir' spoke to their huddled group. 'You are Palestinians. Why are you still living in Iraq?' Mohammed recalled the man saying. 'You have 48 hours to leave.' Within 24 hours, Mohammed was gone. The 36-year-old was among dozens of people who loaded their meager belongings onto buses at dawn Wednesday inside Baghdad's main Palestinian enclave in the Baladiyat neighborhood. They drove north toward the Syrian border, joining a growing exodus of Palestinians now following their familiar story line: an unwelcome people searching for a home. Baghdad is a dangerous place for anyone to live, and the fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims has displaced hundreds of thousands. Largely forgotten amid this violence is the plight of thousands of Palestinians in Iraq, who face an increasingly hostile environment because they are predominantly Sunni and perceived as having been favored during the rule of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Palestinians and human rights officials in Baghdad say members of the group are being targeted by roving Shiite militias and Iraqi police in efforts to expel them. [...]"

"The Battle to Save Iraq's Children"
By Colin Brown
The Indepedent, 19 January 2007
"The desperate plight of children who are dying in Iraqi hospitals for the lack of simple equipment that in some cases can cost as little as 95p is revealed today in a letter signed by nearly 100 eminent doctors. They are backed by a group of international lawyers, who say the conditions in hospitals revealed in their letter amount to a breach of the Geneva conventions that require Britain and the US as occupying forces to protect human life. In a direct appeal to Tony Blair, the doctors describe desperate shortages causing 'hundreds' of children to die in hospitals. The signatories include Iraqi doctors, British doctors who have worked in Iraqi hospitals, and leading UK consultants and GPs. ... The doctors say the UK, as one of the occupying powers under UN resolution 1483, has to comply with the Geneva and Hague conventions that require the UK and the US to 'maintain order and to look after the medical needs of the population.' But, the doctors say: 'This they failed to do and the knock-on effect of this failure is affecting Iraqi children's hospitals with increasing ferocity.' They call on the UK to account properly for the $33bn (£16.7bn) in the development fund for Iraq which should have supplied the means for hospitals to treat children properly. They say more than half of the money -- $14bn -- is believed to have vanished through corruption, theft and payments to mercenaries. ... Their letter was supported by experts in international law, including Harvey Goldstein, professor of social statistics at the University of Bristol, and Bill Bowring, a barrister and professor of law at Birkbeck College. [...]"
[n.b. Saddam or no Saddam, sanctions or no sanctions, it seems the leading Western powers just can't kick the habit of killing Iraqi children.]


"On the Holocaust Conference Sponsored by the Government of Iran"
Letter issued "by Gholam Reza Afkhami and over one hundred others"
Published in the New York Review of Books, 15 February 2007
"We the undersigned Iranians, Notwithstanding our diverse views on the Israeli–Palestinian conflict; Considering that the Nazis' coldly planned 'Final Solution' and their ensuing campaign of genocide against Jews and other minorities during World War II constitute undeniable historical facts; Deploring that the denial of these unspeakable crimes has become a propaganda tool that the Islamic Republic of Iran is using to further its own agendas; Noting that the new brand of anti-Semitism prevalent in the Middle East today is rooted in European ideological doctrines of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and has no precedent in Iran's history; Emphasizing that this is not the first time that the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has resorted to the denial and distortion of historical facts; Recalling that this government has refused to acknowledge, among other things, its mass execution of its own citizens in 1988, when thousands of political prisoners, previously sentenced to prison terms, were secretly executed because of their beliefs; Strongly condemn the Holocaust Conference sponsored by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tehran on December 11–12, 2006, and its attempt to falsify history; Pay homage to the memory of the millions of Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, and express our empathy for the survivors of this immense tragedy as well as all other victims of crimes against humanity across the world."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the letter.]

"Israelis Prepare Public for Conflict with 'Genocidal' Iranian Regime"
By Anne Penketh
The Independent, 22 January 2007
"Senior Israeli politicians and analysts appear to be preparing the public for military conflict with Iran as the Iranian President again refused to bow to international demands to curb its nuclear ambitions, and Tehran announced fresh military manoeuvres. Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu told a security forum in Herzliya yesterday that individual states and companies should go beyond the UN economic sanctions. He argued that the first step should be to invoke financial sanctions to 'divest genocide' and 'delegitimise the regime of Iran through economic and political pressure.' The hawkish Likud leader added: 'Either it will stop the nuclear programme without the need for a military operation, or it could prepare for it. When we are talking about rallying public opinion on genocide, who will lead the charge if not us? No one will come defend the Jews if they do not defend themselves. This is the lesson of history.' Talking to journalists, Mr. Netanyahu said he doubted that the 'genocidal regime' of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was 'deterrable.' This view was shared by Shmuel Bar, an Islamic specialist at the Herzliya centre, who said that the US and Iran were engaged in 'very dangerous brinkmanship.' He said that seen from Tehran, 'the conspiracy theory goes that the US, with the UK and Israel, will take action to topple the Islamic regime, and that this has nothing to do with the nuclear issue.' Tehran has shown no sign of yielding to UN demands to halt uranium enrichment. 'The resolution was born dead and even if they issue 10 more it will not affect Iran's economy and policies,' Mr. Ahmadinejad said yesterday in a televised speech."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"China Angered by Nanjing Massacre Film"
By Justin McCurry
The Guardian, 25 January 2007
"China has reacted angrily to plans by Japanese nationalists to make a documentary describing as a myth the massacre of tens of thousands of Chinese civilians by Japanese troops in 1937. The film, entitled The Truth About Nanjing, will insist that the massacre never took place, despite evidence presented at the postwar Tokyo war crimes tribunals that Japanese troops slaughtered at least 142,000 people when they invaded Nanjing, then the capital of nationalist China. Chinese historians have put the death toll at 300,000 men, women and children. 'We have seen the reports,' said Jiang Yu, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman. 'I think that there is irrefutable evidence for the Nanjing massacre, and international society has long ago come to a conclusion about it. Japan's taking of a correct and responsible attitude to properly deal with historical problems helps it truly win the trust of Asian neighbours and the global community.' ... Tokyo's rightwing governor, Shintaro Ishihara, is one of several leading politicians to have come out in support of the film, directed by Satoru Mizushima, who heads a nationalist satellite TV channel. 'If we remain silent, anti-Japanese propaganda will spread across the world,' Mr. Mizushima said at a press conference, flanked by about 40 supporters. 'What is important is to correct the historical record and send the right message.' The film will be funded by public donations and should appear before the end of this year, the 70th anniversary of what many historians have described as an orgy of rape, pillage and murder by Japanese imperial army troops. [...]"


"World Events Mark Holocaust Day"
BBC Online, 27 January 2007
"International events are being held to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in memory of the six million Jews and other victims of the Nazi death camps. Most of the commemorations take place on 27 January -- the date on which the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated by the Soviets in 1945. Victims of more recent atrocities are also being remembered. On the eve of the memorial, the UN General Assembly on Friday adopted a resolution condemning Holocaust denial. The resolution, proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by more than 100 countries, says 'ignoring the historical fact of these terrible events increases the risk they will be repeated.' The resolution does not mention any particular country, but diplomats said it was aimed at Iran, which has cast doubt on the Nazi genocide of Jews during World War II. Holocaust Memorial Day was set up by the UK Prime Minister in 2001 to create a lasting memorial to the people who perished in the concentration camps, and two years ago the UN designated 27 January as the date for international commemorations. The events include a ceremony at the former concentration camp of Sachsenhausen in Germany. There was also a wreath-laying ceremony on Berlin's Putlitz Bridge, where there is a plaque commemorating the deportation of the city's Jewish community during the Nazi regime. [...]"

"Holocaust Honour for Arab Who Saved Jews from Nazis"
By David Sharrock
The Times, 24 January 2007
"An Arab who saved the lives of two dozen Jews during the Holocaust is about to receive an unprecedented honour from Israel. Khaled Abdelwahhab, a wealthy Tunisian landowner, is poised to become the first Arab to be celebrated as a Righteous Gentile. The award, presented by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust remembrance authority, is granted to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust in which six million died. More than 21,000 people have been granted the title of Righteous Among the Nations since it was established in 1963, with Oskar Schindler probably the best known. But, in spite of stories of heroism and friendship recorded by members of North Africa's once-large Jewish community, no candidate has emerged from the Arab Muslim world. The story of Khaled Abdelwahhab was uncovered by an American Jewish expert on Arab and Islamic politics who was researching for a book. A survivor told Robert Satloff that Abdelwahhab had rescued 23 Jews, including her family, as they sheltered in an olive oil factory after being thrown out of their homes by German soldiers. He feared that the women were going to be put to work in a brothel and gave them sanctuary for the remaining six months of the German occupation. ... More than 1.5 million Jews lived in northern Africa during the Second World War and were subject to persecution by the Nazis and their allies there, although few were sent to the death camps in Europe. [...]"


"World Ignores Signs of Civil War in Lebanon"
By Robert Fisk
The Independent, 24 January 2007
"This is how the 1975-90 conflict began in Lebanon. Outbreaks of sectarian hatred, appeals for restraint, promises of aid from Western and Arab nations and a total refusal to understand that this is how civil wars begin. The Lebanese army lifted its overnight curfew on Beirut yesterday morning but the smouldering cars and trucks of a gun battle was matched only by the incendiary language of the country's bitterest antagonists. Beirut's morning newspapers carried graphic pictures of gunmen -- Sunni Muslims loyal to the government and Shia supporters of Hizbollah -- which proved beyond any doubt that organised, armed men are on the capital's streets. The Lebanese army -- which constantly seeks the help of leaders on all sides -- had great difficulty in suppressing the latest battles. One widely-used picture showed a businessman firing a pistol at Shia during the fighting around the Lebanese Arab university, another a hooded man with a sniper's rifle on a rooftop. All three dead men were Hizbollah supporters whose funerals in south Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley yesterday were accompanied by calls for revenge and -- in one case -- by a colour guard of militiamen and farewell shots over his grave. After 29-year old Adnan Shamas's widow and young children were brought to his funeral in Ouzai, there were cries of 'blood for blood.' It was all very far from the self-congratulations of the western and Arab leaders in Paris yesterday, where European and American diplomats -- after drumming up £4bn in aid for Lebanon (strings attached, of course) -- seemed to believe they had just saved Fouad Siniora's government from the forces of Islamic 'extremists.' [...]"


"Russian Court Backs Closing Of Chechen Rights Group"
By Peter Finn
The Washington Post, 24 January 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Russian Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that shut down the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, a Western-funded grass-roots organization that had challenged the Kremlin's interpretation of events in the continuing conflict in Chechnya. The society's leadership called the decision a chilling example of the government using a recently enacted law on nongovernmental organizations to quash activism that clashes with official policy. The society, which had a network of correspondents and activists in Chechnya, a republic in southern Russia, reported on rights abuses by Russian forces and their Chechen allies. Oksana Chelysheva, one of the group's leaders, promised to fight the ruling. 'We are going to take our case to the European Court of Human Rights and, possibly, our Constitutional Court.' Last February, Stanislav Dmitrievsky, co-chair of the society, was convicted of inciting racial hatred for publishing in a society newsletter a statement by Aslan Maskhadov, a Chechen separatist leader, calling for negotiations to end the Chechen conflict. Another published statement cited by prosecutors was a commentary critical of the Kremlin by the London-based Chechen separatist Akhmed Zakayev. Maskhadov -- who officials here say played a role in the 2004 Beslan school massacre in southern Russia that left 331 people dead, including 186 children -- was killed by Russian forces in March 2005. After that, the society, in its monthly newsletter Human Rights Defender, ran a portrait of the separatist with a black mourning border, a decision that infuriated Russian officials and raised eyebrows among other Russian human rights activists. [...]"

"Russia Investigating Officials in Politkovskaya Killing"
German Press Agency (DPA) dispatch on, 23 January 2007
"The head of a US-based journalists' lobbying group said Tuesday that Russia had opened a criminal investigation into police officials in the October killing of Moscow journalist Anna Politkovskaya -- leading to a wave of denials from Russian officials. Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the Russian Prosecutor General's Office is investigating 'several' officials in the wartorn republic of Chechnya. Politkovskaya, he said, was due to publish an article revealing the officials' alleged connections to torture in the republic, scene of two wars in the last 10 years, when she was murdered. 'We are heartened to hear of any information that could lead to justice in this crime,' Simon said at a press conference called to release the results of the committee's delegation in Russia. He added the case was one of several versions prosecutors were looking into. Simon said the CPJ's four-person delegation had received its information during a meeting with Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Boris Malakhov on Monday. The ministry, however, shot down Simon's announcement. 'The CPJ's assertion absolutely does not correspond to reality,' a ministry statement said. It added prosecutors were looking at 'a few' versions of the murder and that Chechen investigators were examining leads from Politkovskaya's final article, which was printed posthumously. [...]"


"Rwanda to Release 8,000 More Genocide Suspects", 27 January 2007
"Some 8,000 detainees who have accepted to testify before Rwandan traditional courts over the country's 1994 genocide are to be provisionally released soon, the official press has reported, quoting Justice Minister, Tharcisse Karugarama. 'This release is due to start in February,' Karugarama said, noting that it would be the third wave of releases of 'repentant genocide authors.' Some 800,000 people were killed in the Rwandan ethnic genocide and the number of prisoners was officially put at 68,000 in 2006, with 80% of them actually accused of the genocide. Some 22,000 detained suspects were first released in 2003 and a smaller number in 2005. But survivors of the massacres are questioning the so-called 'reconciliatory justice,' noting that witnesses faced persecution by suspects. According to the main genocide survivors organisation, Ibuka, many of the released suspects pose threats to the survivors and prosecution witnesses. The courts set up on the Rwandan traditional justice system have tried 6,267 out of the 63,447 suspects, according to official figures. A UN-backed Tribunal based in Arusha, Tanzania is trying those with the greatest responsibility for the genocide."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Habyarimana's Widow Denies Having Organized the Genocide"
Hirondelle News Agency dispatch on, 22 January 2007
"Agathe Kanziga, the wife of the late President of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana, denies in an interview to the Figaro Magazine she has ever played a role in the genocide which broke out in her country in 1994. On January 4th, the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA in French) rejected her demand for asylum because of her alleged participation in the planning of the genocide. Immediately, her attorneys seized the Appeals Board which is to examine her case next Thursday. 'The real organizers of the Rwandan tragedy are those who shot down the plane' of President Habyarimana on April 6 1994, Mrs. Kanziga declares. 'Who wanted the president dead also wanted the end of the Rwandan population because he knew the consequences of his action,' she accuses. Mrs. Habyarimana blames the genocide on the new president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, and his party, the ex-rebel forces of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). 'Everything points in the direction of the RPF. They recently declared the attack was legal. And Kagame said he didn't give a damn that 12 had died in the crash,' she adds. The wife of the late president also says she has never meddled with politics. 'I never got involved in political affairs, either before, during or after the events that stirred our country. Let those who say it, I did prove it! I was simply the First Lady,' she says. [...]"


"Kosovo Wins Support For Split From Serbia"
By R. Jeffrey Smith
The Washington Post, 26 January 2007 [Registration Required]
"Nearly eight years after NATO warplanes intervened in a bitter ethnic conflict between Serbs and rebellious Kosovo Albanians in the former Yugoslavia, the United States and its European allies have agreed to support Kosovo's permanent secession from Serbia under continuing international supervision, according to senior U.S. and European officials. The decision is likely to lead, possibly as early as this summer, to the formal creation of a new Connecticut-size country in southeastern Europe with membership in the United Nations and, eventually, its own army, the officials said. But a foreign diplomat posted in the capital would retain authority to fire officials and rescind legislation deemed divisive, while leaving routine matters of government to local control. Under the plan, NATO troops would continue to patrol the new state to ensure peace and help protect minorities, but would gradually withdraw as Kosovo neared membership in NATO and the European Union. Putting Kosovo on a path toward eventual full independence is meant to close a chapter of Balkan history marked by war, political upheaval, widespread loss of life and the destruction of billions of dollars' worth of property. ... Officials say that finally allowing Kosovo to stand mostly on its own also has a major economic impetus: They anticipate it would open the door to private investment, new Western lending and aid, supplanting more than $2.5 billion already poured into the province by foreigners since 1999 with only a slight impact on a faltering and highly corrupt economy. Kosovo has Europe's largest deposits of lignite coal. Economic planners hope that the new state might build power plants and emerge as a primary supplier of electricity to its Balkan neighbors. [...]"

"Nationalists Triumph in Serbian Elections"
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, 22 January 2007
"Extreme nationalists led by a former warlord on trial for crimes against humanity romped to a comfortable victory yesterday in Serbia's most critical general election in years. But the Serbian Radical party's election triumph, six points ahead of their liberal pro-European rivals, left the extremists probably unable to cobble together a coalition government. According to early projections last night by independent poll monitors and partial results from the state election watchdog, the Radicals took around 29% of the vote, a point up on the last election in 2003 despite a campaign by western leaders to persuade Serbs to reject the nationalists. ... The Democrats, led by President Boris Tadic, took a projected 23% of the vote, a good result boosted by a 60% turnout. They should be able to supply the core of a new government if the conservative nationalist prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, agrees to a coalition. His Democratic Party of Serbia took a projected 17% and third place. While under strong western pressure to agree to a coalition with the pro-western democrats, he has not ruled out a coalition with the extreme nationalists. The election came just days before a UN mediator, Martti Ahtisaari, unveils proposals to redraw Serbia's borders and carve a new state out of its Albanian-majority southern province of Kosovo. He is to deliver his blueprint for a complex form of Kosovo independence to US, Russian, and European officials on Friday before revealing it next week to Serbian and Kosovo Albanian leaders. [...]"

"Kosovo Looms over Serbian Vote"
By Alissa J. Rubin
The Los Angeles Times, 21 January 2007
"Once the most powerful of the former Yugoslav republics and a kingdom that reached from the Adriatic to the Aegean, Serbia is about to lose the only vestige of its days of glory: Kosovo. United Nations mediators say they will unveil their plan for the province, which is predominantly ethnic Albanian and Muslim, and has been governed as a U.N. protectorate since 1999, sometime after today's Serbian general elections. Although the result of their deliberations appears to be a foregone conclusion and most outsiders have viewed Kosovo as a separate entity since a U.S.-led NATO air campaign forced the withdrawal of Serbian security forces, Serbs hardly see the same reality. The imminent loss of the province has been a central issue in the parliamentary campaign. Serbian politicians, intent on proving their loyalty to the country's traditional identity, have pulled out the stops to convince the world that the province should remain within their nation's borders. They have hired the high-powered Republican-affiliated lobbying firm of Barbour Griffith & Rogers in Washington. The Serbian Orthodox Church has allied itself with televangelist Pat Robertson, who shares its concern about the rise of Muslim influence in the West. Serbian political leaders have been on the phone to the Russians, fellow Slavs who have veto power in the U.N. Security Council, which would have to approve any broad independence deal. [...]"


"First Test for New UN Chief: Darfur"
By Howard LeFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor, 26 January 2007
"The new United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki Moon, lists Darfur among his top priorities. Putting an end to the violence there, which the United States calls 'genocide,' is also turning into the UN leader's first major test -- of his credibility as a global moral force and of his ability to cajole the international community, and in this case Sudan, beyond words to action. Mr. Ban is underscoring his commitment to resolving the conflict in Darfur by making the African Union summit, to be held in Ethiopia Monday, the focus of his first international trip. There he plans to meet Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and to press him to accept deployment of a 'hybrid' African Union-UN force of 20,000 peacekeepers for the war-ravaged province. UN officials say Ban, who has been in his job since Jan. 2, does not want to lose the 'momentum' that was thought to have been made at the end of last year, when Mr. Bashir sent a letter to outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in which he seemed to accept the idea of a hybrid force. 'The problem is that the Sudanese agree to things, but then they backtrack and dawdle. So the worry here is that they made a gesture but then saw they could use the change from Annan to Ban to stall,' says one UN official close to the thinking in the secretary-general's office. 'The idea will be to move ahead with what has already been approved,' says the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Ban's meeting with Bashir is a good first step, some analysts of conflict diplomacy say, but they add that he can do much more. [...]"

"Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival"
By Jen Marlowe
AlterNet, 25 January 2007
"Editor's Note: Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival is a book that accompanies a major documentary film now showing across the world. It tells the story of the genocide in Darfur, through the eyes of the Darfurians. It also shows, 'the real lives of these people, and that they had had a thriving life, society, and culture that preceded their appearance on the world stage as victims and refuges,' the introduction reads. Darfur Diaries is written by Jen Marlow with Aisha Bain and Adam Shapiro (Nation Books, 2006). The following excerpt is from Chapter 7, 'The Antonov Plane and the Wedding.' [...]"

"Sudan Peace Deal 'Unravelling'"
By Stephen Collinson
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 25 January 2007
"A former United States envoy to Sudan on Wednesday complained that United States policy on the country was based on a 'fundamental flaw' and warned a new war could erupt without urgent action by the US administration. Roger Winter also made a personal appeal to President George Bush, warning that the peace agreement that ended Sudan's bloody, 21-year civil war was at risk and would darken his White House legacy if it failed. Winter told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee's Africa sub-panel that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) could collapse because of the National Islamic Front-controlled government led by President Omar al-Beshir. The NIF has more recently been known as the National Congress Party. 'It is my very strong belief that the CPA is unravelling,' said Winter, the deputy secretary of state's former special representative on Sudan. 'There is a fundamental flaw in the way the United States has been approaching Sudan,' said Winter, who served under former deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick, who resigned last June. 'The fundamental flaw is the belief within our policy establishment that the National Islamic Front wants to be a responsible government. It's my assertion that the National Islamic Front does not in fact want to be a responsible government the way we understand those terms. It's my belief that the NIF no longer wants the CPA to be fulfilled.' [...]"

"Sudan Leader Admits Darfur Raids"
BBC Online, 24 January 2007
"Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has confirmed that government forces have been bombing northern areas of the troubled Darfur region. In an interview with the BBC Arabic Service, Mr Bashir said the action did not breach a UN-brokered ceasefire signed earlier this month. He said the government had no option but to use its armed forces in response to attacks by rebel groups. Nearly four years of fighting in Darfur has killed some 200,000 people. More than two million people have been displaced. Rebel commanders in northern Darfur said on Monday that government aircraft had hit three villages over the weekend -- claims the Sudanese government strongly denied. But in an exclusive BBC interview broadcast on Wednesday, President Bashir confirmed his troops had carried out the bombardments. He said the government had no option but to strike as 80% of attacks on civilians in the region were carried out by rebels groups, undermining security. [...]"

"AU Confirms Darfur Air Raids"
By Alfred de Montesquiou
Sapa-AP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 23 January 2007
"Sudan's air force bombed Darfur villages in violation of a recent ceasefire, hindering African and American attempts to unite rebel groups under a common leadership that can commit to peace, the African Union said on Monday. The AU comments were the first independent confirmation of reports from rebel leaders about the air raids in northern Darfur last week. The Sudanese military on Sunday denied the bombing raids. 'Preliminary investigations by [the African Union] have confirmed that the aerial bombings indeed took place' against the village of Anka and in the region of Wadi Korma last week, the AU said in a statement. The AU did not mention any casualties. But the United Nations mission to Sudan said it received reports that two people were killed in other bombings in Ein Sirro, also in North Darfur province. Rebel leaders said the air raids also killed a large number of cattle and destroyed stocks of crop. The bombings, which breach United Nations Security Council resolutions and a peace agreement, came after the Sudanese government vowed to adhere to a new truce brokered by visiting US governor Bill Richardson and others earlier this month. [...]"

"Sudanese Planes 'Bombing Darfur'"
BBC Online, 22 January 2007
"Rebel commanders in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan say government aircraft have bombed northern areas of the province, in breach of a ceasefire. They claimed several villages had been hit over the weekend. The Sudanese government has denied the reports, which come days after President Omar al-Bashir vowed to adhere to a UN peace plan. More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5m have fled their homes in Darfur during the four-year-old civil war. A rebel commander, Abdallah Banda, from the rebel Justice and Equality Movement, said three villages had been destroyed by Sudanese aircraft in north Darfur. He did not say how many people had died. The Sudanese army denied the allegation. 'We never bombard civilians anywhere,' a military spokesman told the Associated Press news agency. Earlier this month a UN envoy said President Bashir was fully committed to a UN plan to send a hybrid UN and African peacekeeping force to Darfur. [...]"


"Five Turks Charged in Murder of Editor Dink"
By Stephen Collinson
Reuters dispatch, 25 January 2007
"A Turkish prosecutor has said five people were charged in the murder of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Turkish media reported on Thursday. Istanbul's chief prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin charged Ogun Samast, a 17-year-old unemployed man from the Black Sea coast, with premeditated murder and membership of an armed group. Four others were charged with forming an armed organization and incitement to murder. Samast, who is reported to have been close to an ultranationalist group in his home town Trabzon, has admitted to shooting Dink in daylight as he left his newspaper Agos in Istanbul last Friday. The murder brought 100,000 mourners to Istanbul's streets for Dink's funeral on Tuesday and has reignited debate about hardline nationalism in a country seeking European Union membership. 'From the quality and the nature of the crimes attributed to the suspects it is clear the result emerges that they formed an armed group,' Engin told reporters late on Wednesday in comments reported by the NTV Web site. ... Samast has confessed to killing Dink for 'insulting' Turks in his writings and statements on the massacres of Armenians during World War One -- a highly sensitive issue in Turkey. [...]"

"Armenian Editor's Death Leads to Conciliation"
By Susanne Fowler and Sebnem Arsu
The New York Times, 23 January 2007 [Registration Required]
"The killing of an Armenian-Turkish editor in Istanbul last week and the sorrow it has generated within Turkey are leading to rare conciliatory gestures between Turkey and Armenia, historic enemies, and to calls for changes in laws here defending Turkish identity. On Monday, Armenian political and spiritual figures accepted an invitation from the Turkish government to attend the funeral of Hrant Dink, the founder of an Armenian-Turkish newspaper, who was killed outside his office on Friday, apparently by a young nationalist fanatic. The suspect in the slaying, Ogun Samast, 17, was escorted back to the scene of the crime Sunday night by law enforcement authorities. The head of the Istanbul security forces said that Mr. Samast 'was driven to commit the crime by his nationalistic feelings' and had no ties to any group. Mr. Dink was a staunch defender of free speech and like other intellectuals was prosecuted for insulting 'Turkishness' and sentenced to six months in jail, though his term was suspended. Bulent Arinc, the parliamentary chairman from the ruling Justice and Development Party, said he would back efforts to abolish the measure under which Mr. Dink was prosecuted, known as Article 301. 'It can be discussed to totally abolish or completely revise the Article 301,' Mr. Arinc said, adding that members of Parliament 'are open to this.' Despite the fact that the Armenian-Turkish border has been sealed since 1993 and diplomatic relations severed, Armenia is sending a deputy foreign minister, Arman Kirakossian, to the funeral, and the archbishop of the Armenian Church of America, Khajag Barsamian, also accepted the government's invitation to the ceremony. [...]"

"Murder of Outspoken Journalist Tests Turkey's Democratic Gains"
By Yigal Schleifer
The Christian Science Monitor, 22 January 2007
"[...] The past few years have seen Turkey engaged in a deep internal struggle. On the one hand, the country's drive toward European Union (EU) membership has resulted in significant political reforms, particularly regarding democratization and human rights, and the freeing up of the debate on what had previously been taboo subjects, such as the Armenian question. On the other hand, the EU-related reforms have been met with a strong nationalist backlash. Nationalist lawyers and prosecutors, for example, have been able to use a law, known as Article 301, to charge writers and journalists like Dink and Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk with the crime of insulting Turkish identity as a way of stifling the emerging debates and putting the brakes on Turkey's EU bid. Dink was tried under this article, and in 2005 was convicted and handed a suspended six-month prison sentence. 'In a sense, both sides have been sharpening their axes, thinking that the EU question is the final intellectual battle in Turkey,' says Ali Carkoglu, a professor of political science at Istanbul's Sabanci University. 'It touches on everything that is salient in Turkish politics: the Islam versus secularism debate, democratization, and the extent to which individual human rights are to be protected.' [...]"

"Prosecutor: Teen Admits Killing Editor"
By Benjamin Harvey
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 21 January 2007
"A teenage boy has confessed to fatally shooting an ethnic Armenian journalist outside his newspaper office in a brazen daytime attack, a prosecutor said Sunday. Ogun Samast, who is either 16 or 17 years old, was caught in the Black Sea city of Samsun late Saturday, a day after Hrant Dink was gunned down in Istanbul. Police said the youth was captured following a tip from his father after his pictures were broadcast on Turkish television. The slaying highlighted the precarious state of freedom of expression in a country that is vying for European Union membership. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised the swift work of police, saying 'this is a lesson to those who want to shoot at freedoms ... to those who don't want calm to reign in Turkey.' Chief prosecutor Ahmet Cokcinar told The Associated Press that the teenager had confessed to killing Dink during initial questioning in Samsun. He refused to give any further details. Most Turks assume Dink, the 52-year-old editor of the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos, was targeted for his columns saying the killing of ethnic Armenians by Turks in the early 20th century was genocide. Nationalists consider such statements an insult to Turkey's honor and a threat to its unity, and Dink had been showered with insults and threats. Turkey's relationship with its Armenian minority has long been haunted by a bloody past. Much of its once-influential Armenian population was killed or driven out beginning around 1915 in what an increasing number of nations are calling the first genocide of the 20th century. [...]"


"Ethnic Cleansing in L.A."
By Brentin Mock, 20 January 2007
"[...] [Anthony] Prudhomme was murdered because he identified himself as black (he was in fact mixed-race) in a neighborhood occupied by one of the many Latino street gangs in Los Angeles County. Incredibly, even though these gangs are fundamentally criminal enterprises interested mainly in money, gang experts inside and outside the government say that they are now engaged in a campaign of 'ethnic cleansing' -- racial terror that is directed solely at African Americans. 'The way I hear these knuckleheads tell it, they don't want their neighborhoods infested with blacks, as if it's an infestation,' says respected Los Angeles gang expert Tony Rafael, who interviewed several Latino street gang leaders for an upcoming book on the Mexican Mafia, the dominant Latino gang in Southern California. 'It's pure racial animosity that manifests itself in a policy of a major criminal organization.' 'There's absolutely no motive absent the color of their skin,' adds former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Michael Camacho. Before he became a judge, in 2003, Camacho successfully prosecuted a Latino gang member for the random shootings of three black men in Pomona, Calif. 'They generally don't like African Americans,' Pomona gang unit officer Marcus Perez testified in that case. 'If an African American enters their neighborhood, they're likely to be injured or killed.' A comprehensive study of hate crimes in Los Angeles County released by the University of Hawaii in 2000 concluded that while the vast majority of hate crimes nationwide are not committed by members of organized groups, Los Angeles County is a different story. Researchers found that in areas with high concentrations, or 'clusters,' of hate crimes, the perpetrators were typically members of Latino street gangs who were purposely targeting blacks. Furthermore, the study found, 'There is strong evidence of race-bias hate crimes among gangs in which the major motive is not the defense of territorial boundaries against other gangs, but hatred toward a group defined by racial identification, regardless of any gang-related territorial threat.' Six years later, the racist terror campaign continues. [...]"


"A Loud Outcry Against Genocide"
By Jeannette Catsoulis
The New York Times, 25 January 2007 [Registration Required]
"Like Atom Egoyan's 2002 fiction film 'Ararat,' the documentary 'Screamers' takes as its jumping-off point the 1915 massacre of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks. Unlike Mr. Egoyan, however, the director Carla Garapedian has a wider agenda: to show how continued refusal to acknowledge the genocide, by the United States and Britain as well as by Turkey, has given governments all over the world courage to instigate their own versions of ethnic cleansing. The relationship between denial of the Armenian tragedy and later atrocities like the Holocaust, Rwanda and present-day Darfur remains far from proven, but 'Screamers' loses no power as a result of its shaky argument. Focusing on the alternative metal band System of a Down, whose members are descended from Armenian survivors, this invigorating and articulate film unfolds at the sensitive intersection of entertainment and politics. Interviewing fans, family members and a wide range of public figures, Ms. Garapedian traces the historical path of genocide and reveals the continuing success of the band's attempts to raise awareness about global suffering. Part rockumentary, part howl of outrage, 'Screamers' would have benefited from less concert film and more historical background. Though the decibel level occasionally threatens to drown out the movie's quieter voices, the harrowing reminiscences of the lead singer Serj Tankian's grandfather, one of the few remaining Armenian eyewitnesses, make the suffering personal. 'This band just started to make you ask questions,' Mr. Tankian tells his audience. That would seem a good place to start."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. "Less concert film"? Sacrilege! System of a Down rocks!]


"Growing Up In The Shadow Of A Mushroom Cloud ... Again"
By Robert Weitzel, 21 January 2007
"[...] This January 17, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the keepers of the Doomsday Clock, moved the clock forward two minutes, primarily because of the continued threat of 27,000 nuclear weapons in eight countries, 2000 of which are on hair trigger alert and ready for launch. It also cited the destruction of human habitats from climate change. According to the BAS, 'Not since the first atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki has the world faced such perilous choices.' The nuclear ambitions of Iran -- and its president's vow to wipe Israel off the map -- coupled with the United States and Israel's first strike policy and willingness to include tactical nuclear weapons in their battle plan to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear technology is pushing the world to the 'brink of a Second Nuclear Age.' And again, in the 'Long War' on terror as in the Cold War, Pentagon planners are attempting to make a nuclear confrontation imaginable with the illusion of survivability. But this time it is not shelters they are selling. It is scale. They are planning to use only small nuclear bombs from now on ... a whole lot of them. The Pentagon’s 2005 'Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations' calls for 'integrating conventional and nuclear attacks.' This doctrine maintains that the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield will ensure 'minimal collateral damage,' thereby making their use 'safe for the surrounding civilian population.' If this doctrine strikes you as more insane than MAD, you are perfectly sane. It is 5 minutes to midnight. Given the Bush administration’s reckless disregard for the global consequences of its ideological juggernaut, American children are no less likely to grow up in the shadow of a mushroom cloud than were their parents and grandparents. They deserve something better. [...]"


"Gender Imbalance in China Could Take 15 Years to Correct"
By Ben Blanchard
The Guardian, 24 January 2007
"It could take 15 years for China's gender imbalance to sort itself out, the country's top family planner said yesterday, admitting that three decades of strict population policies had contributed to the problem. In 2005 118 boys were born for every 100 girls born in China, as wider use of ultrasound scans and the easy availability of abortions exacerbated the preference for boys. In some areas the ratio is 130 to 100. 'There are many reasons for the gender imbalance, and the first is the existence for thousands of years of a deep-rooted traditional view that men are worth more than women,' Zhang Weiqing, head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission, told a news conference. 'Of course, there is a certain relationship between the imbalance and China's strict family planning policy ... It has only exacerbated the problem, but that is not to say that having this policy has necessarily caused the large imbalance.' He said South Korea, Taiwan and Pakistan had similar problems even though they lacked China's severe controls. Mr. Zhang said the government would make more effort to raise women's place in society and protect baby girls -- with rewards, such as retirement pensions, for parents who have girls -- as well as to crack down on illegal gender selection tests and sex-selective abortions. 'Solving this issue is rather difficult, and we may have to wait 10 to 15 years for the proportion to balance out.' China, which has 1.3 billion citizens, last year scrapped plans to make sex-selective abortion a crime. Experts have said such a step would better deter parents from aborting girls. Mr. Zhang defended the population plan -- which he said had halted 400m births in 30 years -- and said it was wrong to call the programme a 'one-child' policy. [...]"


"Arar Given $11.5-million in Compensation"
By Jeff Sallot
The Globe and Mail, 27 January 2007
"Maher Arar asked for the impossible: 'I wish I could buy my life back.' Friday he received an official apology from the Prime Minister and an $11.5-million compensation package from the federal government -- the largest legal settlement of its kind in Canadian history. But he says he'll never again know the life he led before 2002 -- as a successful young Canadian computer engineer with a bright future for himself and his family, free to travel to the United States on business, and free of the horrible memories of 10 months in a tiny, wet and rat-infested prison cell in Syria. In dark moments, Mr. Arar sometimes Googles his own name to see how many hits he gets that also include the label 'suspected terrorist.' The anger returns. If a reference describes him as 'computer engineer' he feels pangs of nostalgia for those days when his life really was so uncomplicated. But he knows that that life ended more than four years ago when U.S. authorities shipped him off in the middle of the night to Syria, where he was imprisoned and tortured. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Canadian government, formally apologized Friday to Mr. Arar for the role the Mounties and other federal officials played in his ordeal. A judicial commission of inquiry last September found that the RCMP passed along false and inflammatory intelligence reports about the Canadian man to U.S. agencies, describing him as a Muslim extremist. This information was 'very likely' used by the Americans to deport Mr. Arar to Syria, where he was imprisoned for almost a year and tortured, the inquiry said. The torment continued, even after Mr. Arar's release, with 'leaks' of misinformation to Canadian news media smearing Mr. Arar's reputation, Mr. Justice Dennis O'Connor found. The entire Arar family has suffered unjustly, Mr. Arar told reporters, at times choking back tears. [...]"

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