Sunday, February 18, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
February 11-18, 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

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


"Under Siege"
By Lenora Todaro
The Village Voice, 16 February 2007
"'When I am writing fiction I am a different person with many personalitie -- and I am very daring,' says Turkish novelist Elif Shafak during a conversation at the Warwick Hotel. 'Then in my daily life I return to being a person with anxieties and fears.' Shafak is registered under an alias. She cancelled a six-city book tour (reading only in New York) after ultranationalist Turks declared her an 'enemy of the state' for passages in her novel The Bastard of Istanbul referring to the 'genocide' of Armenians 'at the hands of Turkish butchers.' Another such 'enemy' was assassinated on January 19: the Turkish-Armenian newspaper editor Hrant Dink, a dear friend of Shafak's. The Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk cut short his tour of Germany after learning the news. Now Shafak is shadowed by a bodyguard, complete with earpiece and jerky, roving eye. Of the 60 or so intellectuals taken to court by the same ultranationalists for 'public denigration of Turkishness' -- a crime punishable by three years in prison -- only Shafak was called out for the words of her characters. Shafak believes the lawsuits are intended to derail Turkey's bid to enter the European Union by making the nation appear 'insular and xenophobic.' A bestseller in Turkey, The Bastard of Istanbul follows two families: one a Turkish clan living in Istanbul, the other Armenians living in California and Arizona (where Shafak teaches part of the year). Through their stories, Shafak explores a political taboo known in Turkey as 'the Armenian question,' which asks whether in 1915 the deportation and death of more than one million Armenians at the hands of the Turks was 'genocide' or (as the Turkish government contends) part of World War I. [...]"


"Alcohol 'Time-Bomb' of Aborigines"
By Phil Mercer
BBC Online, 12 February 2007
"A report from one of Australia's most respected research bodies has shown that alcohol abuse claims the life of an Aborigine every 38 hours. Suicide is the greatest cause of death among intoxicated indigenous men; for women it is liver cirrhosis or strokes. Australia's National Drug and Research Institute has described the situation as 'very bleak.' The Aborigines are twice as likely to die from the effects of alcohol as their non-indigenous counterparts. Alcohol abuse in many remote Aboriginal communities is like a plague. It is wiping out on average one indigenous Australian every day-and-a-half. Most women die of liver damage. Many others suffer haemorrhagic strokes or bleeding in the brain which can be caused by excessive binge drinking. Australia's National Drug and Research Institute has found that that sort of abuse has caused high rates of suicide among Aboriginal men. Injuries from assaults and car accidents accounted for other deaths. Researcher Dr Tanya Chikritzhs says many Aborigines turn to alcohol because they feel neglected by the rest of society. 'There's so much poverty and unemployment and lack of health services, lack of decent education,' Dr. Chikritzhs said. 'They all add up to what we call social determinants which influence the likelihood of somebody coming up against alcohol or drugs or tobacco for that matter.' [...]"


"Court to Rule in Bosnia Genocide Case Feb. 26"
Reuters dispatch, 12 February 2007
"The World Court in The Hague will deliver a judgment on Feb. 26 in a landmark case in which Bosnia accuses Serbia and Montenegro of genocide in the 1992-95 war, the court said on Monday in a statement. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, opened the case last year, 13 years after Bosnia sued the rump Yugoslav state from which it seceded in 1992, triggering a war in which at least 100,000 people were killed. This is the first case in which a state is on trial for genocide. A U.N. convention on the prevention and punishment of genocide was adopted in 1948 after the Holocaust. If Bosnia wins, it could seek billions of dollars in compensation. Bosnia's Muslims and Croats followed Slovenia and Croatia in breaking away from Yugoslavia in April 1992, against the wishes of Bosnian Serbs, who were left as a one-third minority in what had previously been a Yugoslav republic ruled from Belgrade. Backed by the Yugoslav army, the Serbs responded by swiftly capturing two thirds of Bosnia, besieging Sarajevo and launching 'ethnic cleansing' in which tens of thousands of non-Serbs were killed and hundreds of thousands forced from their homes. The U.N. war crimes tribunal, not far from the ICJ in The Hague, has already determined that the 1995 Serb massacre of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica, eastern Bosnia, was genocide. [...]"

"Bosnian Serbs Won't Accept International Court Verdict On Genocide Case"
Associated Press dispatch on, 12 February 2007
"Bosnian Serbs will not accept any verdict from the International Court of Justice in a genocide case filed by Bosnia against Serbia and Montenegro, the prime minister said Monday. Bosnia-Herzegovina filed the case with the world court in 1993 -- the first time a state, rather than individuals, had been charged with genocide. It is seeking compensation for the loss of life and property during the 1992-95 war, when an estimated 200,000 people were killed and when entire Muslim towns and villages were devastated. No figure was named, but Serbia and Montenegro could be obliged to pay billions of dollars if found guilty. Bosnia is split into a Croat-Muslim federation and the Bosnian Serb state, known as Republika Srpska. Milorad Dodik, prime minister of the Bosnian Serb ministate, said that 'whatever it will be, Republika Srpska will not accept the verdict and will not implement it.' Bosnian Serbs fear that if the court rules that genocide did occur, Muslim officials in Sarajevo would call for the country's unification since Republika Srpska would be defined as having been created as result of genocide. Dodik's comment that his government would reject any verdict seeks to pre-empt such a possibility. Bosnian Serb officials, led by Dodik, object to any unification of the country and insist the Serb ministate must remain separate. Muslim Bosniaks, led by the current member of the Bosnian Presidency, Haris Silajdzic, claim that the country only has a future and could potentially join the European Union if it is unified. [...]"


"Antislavery Efforts Imperiled in Brazil"
By Andrew Downie
The Christian Science Monitor, 16 February 2007
"A decision by Brazil's Congress to curb the powers of labor auditors threatens to jeopardize an antislavery program that led to the release of more than 15,000 slaves and made Brazil a world leader in fighting indentured servitude, officials and activists said here this week. Brazilian lawmakers passed a new law on Tuesday that unites two federal tax bodies in a bid to streamline a complex and bureaucratic system. But one key amendment in the bill strips labor auditors and prosecutors of their power to determine the relationship between employers and employees. The amendment was included at the behest of media companies, who routinely use freelancers and who, under the existing statute, could be punished for doing so by labor auditors. Under the new law, judges are now responsible for defining that relationship. An apparently unintended consequence of the change is that auditors can no longer determine what constitutes slavery, say prosecutors, auditors, and human rights activists. 'This will make it substantially more difficult to register and document incidents,' said Walter Nunes, president of the federal judges association. The amendment also prevents prosecutors from leveling immediate fines on employers found to have deliberately kept slaves. Until now, prosecutors who accompany government auditors to track down reports of slavery in the remote outposts of the Amazon jungle had the power to fine employers they determined were keeping slaves. Last year guilty employers were forced to pay around $3 million in back pay to workers they used as indentured servants. Congress's decision was met with anger and disappointment by antislavery campaigners, who say it will neutralize all the previous work done by a government that had made eradicating slavery one of its proudest boasts. [...]"


"Painful Wait for Justice on Genocide"
By Connie Levett
The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February 2007
"Vann Nath is a good witness, a rare survivor of Cambodia's most notorious Khmer Rouge torture prison, and he is willing to re-awaken the demons of his past in a genocide tribunal. The question is, will he survive long enough to do that? The 60-year-old is fighting serious kidney disease with twice-weekly dialysis, while the 29 judges -- 17 Cambodian and 12 international -- of the United Nations-backed genocide tribunal battle each other over the rules of engagement. There is a threat of a walkout by the international judges, amid allegations of government interference and concerns about the independence of the Cambodian judges. Many high government officials, including the Prime Minister, Hun Sen, were mid-ranking Khmer Rouge officers. At stake is justice for more than 1.7 million Cambodians who died between 1975 and 1979 under the murderous regime of Brother No.1, Pol Pot. ... Vann Nath was one of only seven survivors from the 17,000 prisoners sent to Tool Sleng, the Phnom Penh prison which was the country's largest torture and detention centre. Only three of those seven are still alive. He was spared after the prison commander, Commodore Duch, discovered his artistic talent and set him to work painting portraits of Pol Pot. The aim of the genocide trial is to bring 'senior leaders and those most responsible' to court. Pol Pot escaped justice when he died in 1998. Since 2003, when the tribunal was agreed to in principle, two more leaders have died. Duch is the only senior Khmer Rouge figure in jail awaiting trial. [...]"

"Dith Pran Recounts Cambodian Genocide"
By Robert Kopacz
Independent Press, 14 February 2007
"Dith Pran, the Cambodian journalist whose experiences in the Khmer Rouge's forced labor camps were portrayed in the 1984 movie 'The Killing Fields,' spoke about his experiences prior to a screening of the film at Drew University on Feb. 6. The film's screening and Mr. Dith's talk were the first in a three-part program entitled 'The Power of the Individual to Resist Evil,' which recalls events of genocide in the 20th century and recognizes the efforts of individuals to resist and prevail. ... Ann Saltzman, co-director of Drew's Center for Holocaust/Genocide Studies, the program's sponsor, when introducing Mr. Dith, noted, 'The Cambodian Holocaust has changed his l'fe forever. He lost 50 relatives by the Khmer Rouge, including his father, three brothers, one sister and their families. His mother died of malnutrition." Only he and one sister survived. Mr. Dith, 64, a composed and confident speaker, becomes passionate as he speaks in encyclopedic terms about the evil of the Khmer Rouge and the geopolitical forces that helped bring them to power. It is hard to believe that it is the same Dith Pran who endured the horrors depicted in the movie. Yet he assures us that not only are the horrors accurately depicted, they were the tip of the iceberg. 'The story that some of you are going to see, compared to what I went through, what the Cambodian people went through, it's a very small amount that we want to show you, because we understand that it is very hard to show the whole story,' he said. [...]"

"You Must Remember This", 9 February 2007 [Transcript of NPR radio broadcast]
"In the 28 years since the fall of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge, a skeptical generation has come of age, too young to remember the horror of Pol Pot's regime. Megan Williams reports on a new effort to help them understand those years in hell. BROOKE GLADSTONE: It's been 28 years since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, the murderous Communist regime led by Pol Pot. Between April 1975 and January 1979, nearly two million people, about a quarter of the population, were killed or died from starvation, overwork and disease. This year, a United Nations tribunal is set to try the leaders of the regime, at least those who are still alive. But, as Megan Williams reports, there are many in Cambodia who are too young to remember and find it hard to believe what their parents say about those years in hell. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Chris Gombeski for recommending this item.]


"Scandal in Colombia Grows"
By Chris Kraul
The Los Angeles Times, 16 February 2007 [Registration Required]
"The scandal involving alleged links between Colombian lawmakers and illegal paramilitary groups widened Thursday with the arrest of five more members of Congress, including a senator who is the brother of Foreign Minister Maria Consuelo Araujo. The arrests of Sen. Alvaro Araujo and the others could further tarnish President Alvaro Uribe, who since being reelected to a second term in a landslide last year has been rocked by allegations that some close legislative supporters have ties to the right-wing armies. The arrests are also bound to increase calls that Maria Araujo resign. The others arrested were Sens. Dieb Maloof, Mauricio Pimiento and Luis Eduardo Vives, and Rep. Alfonso Campo Escobar. Rep. Jorge Luis Caballero was still at large. The orders were issued by the Supreme Court, which handles criminal investigations involving members of Congress. All those arrested are staunch Uribe supporters. No specific charges were revealed Thursday night, although a spokesman for the attorney general's office confirmed that the arrests had been made. Without offering details, a Supreme Court source said the charges were related to illegal dealings with the paramilitary groups. Further complicating Foreign Minister Araujo's situation was the revelation Thursday that her cousin, Gov. Hernando Molina of the northern province of Cesar, is also under investigation in connection with alleged dealings with the paramilitaries, including illegal campaign financing. ... Uribe has been hurt by revelations that some paramilitary leaders have continued to run their criminal empires from jail since demobilizing and pleading guilty in exchange for lighter sentences. Investigations in some cases have confirmed that politicians at the local and national levels who support Uribe were complicit in militia crimes. [...]"


"East Timor Asks for Help as Street Violence Escalates"
By Lindsay Murdoch
The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 February 2007
"The East Timorese Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta, has urged the United Nations to bolster security in his country as Australian and other forces in the capital, Dili, struggle to stop violent street attacks. Dr. Ramos-Horta told the UN Security Council in New York that security in the country was 'still fragile and precarious' less than two months before presidential elections scheduled for April 9. He urged the UN to approve sending more police from Portugal to join 1313 international police already in East Timor. The call comes amid growing fears in Dili that groups are plotting to disrupt campaigning before the elections. Some people in the capital were told this week to pay protection money or their businesses would be destroyed. Even though some key gang leaders have been arrested, teenagers are being killed in street fighting almost every day. In the past 48 hours a 13-year-old boy was stabbed three times and a 17-year-old died after being attacked with a machete. One group is planning rallies to protest against the former prime minister Mari Alkatiri being cleared of allegations he was involved in providing weapons to a hit squad set up to eliminate political opponents. Angela Freitas, a 38-year-old East Timorese who was educated in Australia, announced yesterday that she would contest the presidency. Dr Freitas, who is in Darwin, described the situation in East Timor as 'shameful.'"


"French Nazi-era Collaborator Papon Dies"
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 17 February 2007
"Maurice Papon, a former Cabinet minister who was convicted of complicity in crimes against humanity for his role in deporting Jews during World War II and became a symbol of France's collaboration with the Nazis, died Saturday. He was 96. Papon, who underwent surgery on his pacemaker at a clinic east of Paris last week, died in his sleep on Saturday, said his lawyer, Francis Vuillemin. Papon was the highest-ranking Frenchman to be convicted for a role in the pro-Nazi Vichy regime. The April 2, 1998, guilty verdict was the culmination of a trial that offered a painful look at one of the darkest periods in modern French history. However, Papon -- who at one point fled France to avoid prison -- lived out his final years a free man, released from Paris' dour La Sante prison on Sept. 18, 2002, because of failing health. In a February 2001 letter to the justice minister, Papon said he had neither 'regrets nor remorse for a crime I did not commit and for which I am in no way an accomplice.' Papon served only three years of a 10-year sentence for ordering the arrest and deportation of 1,690 Jews, including 223 children, from the Bordeaux area to Nazi death camps. 'We fought ... so that he would pay,' said Michel Slitinsky, a Bordeaux historian who narrowly escaped a Papon-ordered roundup and who uncovered documents implicating him. 'He paid. Sadly, he only spent three years in prison, a golden prison, at that.' [...]"


"Jail for German Holocaust Denier"
BBC Online, 15 February 2007
"A German Holocaust denier who regularly lavished praise on Adolf Hitler has been sentenced to five years in jail by a German court. Ernst Zuendel was convicted of 14 counts of inciting racial hatred and for denying that the Nazis killed six million Jews during World War II. He received the maximum sentence under German law which bans Holocaust denial. Zuendel moved to Canada in 1958 but was judged a national security threat and deported back to Germany in 2005. The 67-year-old once published a book called The Hitler We Loved and Why, and described the former Nazi leader as 'a decent and very peaceful man.' During his trial in the western German city of Mannheim, he was accused of using 'pseudo-scientific' methods to try to rewrite the accepted history of the Nazi Holocaust in 14 pieces of written work and internet publications. Zuendel had denied the charges, asserting his right to free speech, and questioned the constitutionality of the laws being used against him. Germany hopes to make Holocaust denial a crime across the EU as part of a package of laws it wants to introduce during its presidency of the bloc. Berlin is also set to outline plans to ban Nazi symbols like the swastika, which, like denying the massacre of the Jews, is already outlawed in Germany. However, correspondents says such moves may be seen as curtailing freedom of speech and could prove controversial in several member states."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. Great, so now this charlatan is a martyr.]


"Assassinations, Terrorist Strikes and Ethnic Cleansing: Bush's Shadow War in Iraq"
By Chris Floyd, 15 February 2007
"[...] In early 2005 -- not long after Bush's directives loosed the 'Salvador Option' on Iraq -- the tide of death-squad activity began its long and bloody rise to the tsunami-like levels we see today. Ironically, the first big spike of mass torture-murders, chiefly in Sunni areas at the time, coincided with 'Operation Lightning,' a much ballyhooed effort by American and Iraqi forces to 'secure' Baghdad. ... As investigative reporter Max Fuller has pointed out in his detailed examination of information buried in reams of mainstream news stories and public Pentagon documents, the vast majority of atrocities then attributed to 'rogue' Shiite and Sunni militias were in fact the work of government-controlled commandos and 'special forces,' trained by Americans, 'advised' by Americans and run largely by former CIA agents. As Fuller puts it: 'If there are militias in the Ministry of Interior, you can be sure that they are militias that stand to attention whenever a U.S. colonel enters the room.' And perhaps a British lieutenant colonel as well. With the Anglo-American coalition so deeply embedded in dirty war -- infiltrating terrorist groups, 'stimulating' them into action, protecting 'crown jewel' double-agents no matter what the cost, 'riding with the bad boys,' greenlighting the 'Salvador Option' -- it is simply impossible to determine the genuine origin of almost any particular terrorist outrage or death squad atrocity in Iraq. ... If these covert operations really are intended to quell the violence, they clearly have had the opposite effect. If they have some other intention, the pious defenders of civilization -- who approve these activities with promotions, green lights and unlimited budgets -- aren't telling."
[n.b. This article is one of the most careful and systematic treatments of the "Salvador option" unleashed by the US in Iraq. Though much remains uncertain in this "shadow world," the sickening torture and mutilation evident on the corpses discovered in Iraqi ditches and garbage dumps bears a striking similarity to the corpses of Salvadorans murdered by genocidal "security" forces that were trained, advised, supplied, and politically supported by the CIA and other US agencies.]

"Shia Rivalry Sparked Battle of Zarqa"
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 15 February 2007
"When the 'Battle of Zarqa' erupted on January 28 in the date palm orchards of Zarqa, 16 kilometres northeast of the holy city of Najaf, the conflict seemed clear. Gunmen battling Iraqi and US forces in a fierce, day-long fight were, say the Iraqi government, a large group of Sunni militants affiliated with al-Qaeda en route to attack the holy shrines in Najaf and the high-ranking Marjaiya clerics, as well as Shia pilgrims, gathering for the ten-day religious festival of Ashura. The group was heavily armed and even managed to shoot down a US helicopter, killing two American soldiers. Sunni attacks on Shia pilgrims during holy days have occurred before. Thus the claim of government ministers in Baghdad and the Iraqi national security adviser, Muaffaq al-Rubaii, seemed plausible. Najaf was about to be attacked by al-Qaeda elements, they claimed, and in an effort to avert the attack, “hundreds of foreign fighters” had been killed. The successful assault thus seemed a major victory for the embattled Iraqi government in its effort to assert authority, especially in Najaf which, along with US forces, had taken control over security in the holy city only the month before. But only one day later the picture looked quite different. The approximately 300 fighters killed in the battle turned out not to be Sunni insurgents as the government had claimed but Shia members of the little-known cult Jund al-Samaa, or Soldiers of Heaven. This religious sect was led by a man named Dhia Abdul Zahra al-Garawi, who claimed he was the Imam Mahdi, whom Shia believe to be the Muslim messiah. So why were they attacked, and into what kind of battle did the Iraq government draw US forces? [...]"

"Iraq's Death Toll is Far Worse Than Our Leaders Admit"
By Les Roberts
The Independent (on, 14 February 2007
"On both sides of the Atlantic, a process of spinning science is preventing a serious discussion about the state of affairs in Iraq. The government in Iraq claimed last month that since the 2003 invasion between 40,000 and 50,000 violent deaths have occurred. Few have pointed out the absurdity of this statement. There are three ways we know it is a gross underestimate. First, if it were true, including suicides, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have experienced higher violent death rates than Iraq over the past four years. If true, many North and South American cities and Sub-Saharan Africa have had a similar murder rate to that claimed in Iraq. For those of us who have been in Iraq, the suggestion that New Orleans is more violent seems simply ridiculous. ... Finally, there was a study, peer-reviewed and published in The Lancet, Europe's most prestigious medical journal, which put the death toll at 650,000 as of last July. The study, which I co-authored, was done by the standard cluster approach used by the UN to estimate mortality in dozens of countries each year. While the findings are imprecise, the lower range of possibilities suggested that the Iraq government was at least downplaying the number of dead by a factor of 10. ... The consequences of downplaying the number of deaths in Iraq are profound for both the UK and the US. How can the Americans have a surge of troops to secure the population and promise success when the coalition cannot measure the level of security to within a factor of 10? How can the US and Britain pretend they understand the level of resentment in Iraq if they are not sure if, on average, one in 80 families have lost a household member, or one in seven, as our study suggests? If these two countries have triggered an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide, and have actively worked to mask this fact, how will they credibly be able to criticise Sudan or Zimbabwe or the next government that kills thousands of its own people? [...]"


"The Palestinian Accords; Facing Mecca"
By Uri Avnery, 17 February 2007
"Must a Native-American recognize the right of the United States of America to exist? Interesting question. The USA was established by Europeans who invaded a continent that did not belong to them, eradicated most of the indigenous population (the 'Red Indians') in a prolonged campaign of genocide, and exploited the labor of millions of slaves who had been brutally torn from their lives in Africa. Not to mention what is going on today. Must a Native-American -- or indeed anybody at all -- recognize the right of such a state to exist? But nobody raises the question. The United States does not give a damn if anybody recognizes its right to exist or not. It does not demand this from the countries with which it maintains relations. Why? Because this is a ridiculous demand to start with. ... So why is this weird demand addressed to the Palestinians? Why must they recognize the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State? I am an Israeli patriot, and I do not feel that I need anybody's recognition of the right of my state to exist. If somebody is ready to make peace with me, within borders and on conditions agreed upon in negotiations, that is quite enough for me. I am prepared to leave the history, ideology and theology of the matter to the theologians, ideologues and historians. Perhaps after 60 years of the existence of Israel, and after we have become a regional power, we are still so unsure of ourselves that we crave for constant assurance of our right to exist -- and of all people, from those that we have been oppressing for the last 40 years. Perhaps it is the mentality of the Ghetto that is still so deeply ingrained in us. But the demand addressed now to the Palestinian Unity Government is far from sincere. It has an ulterior political aim, indeed two: (a) to convince the international community not to recognize the Palestinian government that is about to be set up, and (b) to justify the refusal of the Israeli government to enter into peace negotiations with it. [...]"
[n.b. A trenchant and superbly-crafted analysis.]


"Italy and Croatia Reopen Old War Wounds"
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, 13 February 2007
"A furious row was raging across the Adriatic today over the second world war after the presidents of Croatia and Italy traded accusations of racism and barbarism. Italian diplomats called off visits to Zagreb and summoned the Croatian ambassador in Rome for a stiff talking-to; and the Italian prime minister, Romano Prodi, attacked Croatia after its president, Stipe Mesic, accused his Italian counterpart of racism and trying to rewrite history. Croatia and Slovenia were stunned by a weekend speech by Italy's president, Giorgio Napoletano, devoted to the suffering of Italians in former Yugoslavia towards the end of the second world war. Describing the pogroms of Italians by Yugoslav communist partisans as 'the barbarism of the century,' 'ethnic cleansing' and a campaign of annexation of Italian territory fuelled by 'Slav bloodthirsty hatred and rage,' Mr. Napoletano stirred a storm of controversy and appeared to raise questions about Croatia's bid to join the European Union. Mr. Prodi and his foreign minister, Massimo D'Alema waded into the row yesterday, with Italian officials implying that while Italy had faced up to its fascist past, Croatia had yet to do so. 'We don't need any lessons in fascism from Italy,' quipped a Croatian politician after Mr Mesic said the Italian statesman's speech smacked of 'open racism, historical revisionism, and political revanchism.' The dispute has to do with the pogroms and population shifts enforced at the end of the second world war all across central Europe, but it also touches on sensitive current property claims and compensation demands. Just as millions of Germans were kicked out of central and eastern Europe and many of them killed when the Third Reich collapsed, so, after the fall of Mussolini and the capitulation of Italy, were Italian fascist occupiers and indigenous Italian communities expelled from the eastern Adriatic -- the areas of Dalmatia and Istria that belonged to Yugoslavia and now form parts of Croatia and Slovenia. It is estimated that 150,000 Italians were kicked out by vengeful communist partisans under Josip Broz Tito, and that 15,000 were killed. Many of the corpses were dumped in the thousands of caves that perforate the limestone karst of Dalmatia and Istria. [...]"


"Otto Frank's Hunt for a Visa"
By Marjorie Backman
Time Magazine, 15 February 2007
"About a year before Anne Frank began her diary in June 1942, her father started a writing project of his own. Though most of the world now is familiar with Anne's private musings while her family was in hiding from Nazis, Wednesday's release of the Otto Frank file -- whose discovery was first reported by in January -- by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City reveals yet another side of that family's life and what those who tried to survive the Holocaust were facing. The 65 documents -- typed letters, handwritten notes, telegrams, many browning with age -- show Otto Frank's determined effort, enlisting family and friends, to contact officials to extract his wife, mother-in-law and daughters from Nazi-occupied Holland. For nine months, they tried to secure visas -- first to the U.S. and then to Cuba -- until that window shut. Just three letters of the file were written by Otto Frank, all addressed to university friend Nathan Straus Jr., son of a co-owner of Macy's department store and head of the U.S. Housing Authority. Straus and Frank's brother-in-law, Julius Hollander, regularly corresponded with two private Jewish agencies, the National Refugee Service in New York and the Boston Committee for Refugees. Straus also contacted the State Department on Frank's behalf. Hollander and his brother arranged affidavits from their employers, Jacob Hiatt of E.F. Dodge Paper Box Co. and Harry Levine of the New England Novelty Co., both of Leominster, Mass. New York University professor David Engel likens the correspondence to a blind chess game. The U.S. immigration rules kept changing; the players waited for letters to slowly arrive by mail. [...]"

"Anne Frank's Family Sought U.S. Visa, Letters Show"
By Tom Hals
Reuters dispatch, 14 February 2007
"The father of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl whose diaries of life hiding from the Nazis became world famous, sought money and help obtaining a U.S. visa from a wealthy New York friend in hopes of escaping Europe, according to documents released on Wednesday. Frank asked for $5,000 from college friend Nathan Strauss Jr., whose father at the time owned Macy's department store, as he tried to escape Holland with his wife, mother-in-law and daughters Margot and Anne, according documents from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. 'This is the first concrete evidence that he did actually pursue the possibility of escape from Holland,' said David Engel, a New York University professor. A YIVO volunteer discovered the correspondence among the millions of documents in its archives in mid-2005, but the institute had to resolve copyright issues before putting them on display. The letters, telegrams and government documents date from April to December 1941 and show efforts by Otto Frank to get to the United States and Cuba before going into hiding in 1942, a period Anne Frank described in her diary before she eventually died aged 15 in a German concentration camp in 1945. 'It is for the sake of the children mainly that we have to care for. Our own fate is of less importance,' Otto Frank wrote in a letter to Strauss, who was the head of the U.S. Housing Authority. 'You are the only person I know that I can ask.' Frank asked for $5,000 to cover a deposit related to getting a U.S. visa, but the money was ultimately not needed because the visa was not granted. [...]"


"Liberia: Government Doing Little to Ease Pain of Haunted Past"
Amnesty International Press Release, 15 February 2007
"Amnesty International today revealed that the Liberian government has done little or nothing to bring to justice thousands of people accused of serious human rights violations that took place during the country's protracted armed conflict, in which hundreds of thousands were killed, raped or tortured. Launching a new report, Truth, justice and reparation for Liberia's victims, the organization urged Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to immediately put in place a plan to ensure that perpetrators of past human rights abuses are brought to justice so that the cycle of violence that plagued Liberia for years can finally come to an end. 'Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission currently in place is an important first step, much more can and should be done by the government to address past human rights abuses,' said Kolawole Olaniyan, Amnesty International's Africa Programme Director, speaking in Monrovia. 'The government should not wait for the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission before beginning the process of deciding when and how those suspected of committing human rights abuses will be brought to justice -- nor should victims wait to receive reparations. Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has an important role to play in establishing the truth of many of the horrific incidents that took place during the years of conflict in Liberia, it is not a substitute for a court of law. It cannot establish individual criminal responsibility or provide for full reparations to victims,' said Olaniyan. It is difficult to estimate how many were killed in massacres during the 14 years of conflict in Liberia, which was characterized by mass killings and rape. At least sixty percent of the population is estimated to have suffered some form of sexual violence. [...]"


"Genocide? 'I Deny the Lot'"
By Alex Duval Smith
The Observer, 18 February 2007
"The woman regarded by many as an architect of genocide is on the verge of tears. Agathe Habyarimana has been driven to despair by a prosaic reality of everyday life in France. Stateless, without so much as an ID card to show at the post office, an alleged mastermind of the Rwandan massacres is living an administrative nightmare. 'I am so disappointed. I thought this was the land of asylum and human rights,' she said after hearing on Thursday that, 13 years after France's military saved her life, its refugee officials have turned her down on appeal. In a rare interview granted to The Observer in her Paris lawyer's office, Habyarimana, 64, flanked by four of her sons, pre-empts questions : 'It's all lies. I deny the lot.' Glued to her chair, her hands on her lap, she avoids the word 'genocide' to describe the killing of 800,000 Rwandans in 1994, stumbling over her syllables to produce a mumbled 'jonocide'. Her 21 years as first lady ended on 6 April 1994 when the jet carrying her husband, President Juvenal Habyarimana, was shot down over the capital, Kigali. Three days later, this Hutu noblewoman was spirited out of the country by the French military, leaving behind a bloodbath which survivors claim had been planned by her and her associates at least since 1992. [...]"

"President of Rwanda Blamed in Assassinations"
By Sebastian Rotella
The Los Angeles Times (in the Mercury News), 18 February 2007
"[...] In a report to French prosecutors late last year, magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere accused the Tutsi leader who is now president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, of ordering the assassination. ... Among the dozen Tutsi dissidents who testified in the French inquiry was Aloys Ruyenzi, a former Kagame bodyguard with the wary, melancholy look of a man who has spent years looking over his shoulder. Ruyenzi, 35, says he fled to Europe because Rwandan operatives tried to kill him when he turned against the government. During an interview, he spoke in careful, accented English as he confirmed the testimony he gave to Bruguiere. ... Ruyenzi said he stood guard March 31, 1994, as Kagame and five top aides discussed shooting down Habyarimana's plane. Col. Theoneste Lizinde, a military adviser, was a key plotter, Ruyenzi said. 'Lizinde was from Rwanda, not an exile, so he knew the territory more than the others,' Ruyenzi said. 'Lizinde gave the report on where the plane should be shot. The place was near the airport. 'My testimony was not hearsay. I was an eyewitness. I heard what Kagame said. I was in the room. His quote was: "If the president does not die, we could not win the war."' [...]"


"Isolated But Defiant, The Serbs Trapped by Blood and History"
By Catherine Philp
The Times, 17 February 2007
"To the outside world, they are the bullyboys of Europe. The Serbs have a rather more romantic image of themselves; not so much Roman-style imperialists as the plucky Gauls of Asterix fame. Like the cartoon character's besieged village, Serbia is surrounded by enemy garrisons, according to a postcard on sale in Mitrovica. 'One small country of indomitable Serbs still holds out against the invaders.' But it is in this western corner of Kosovo, beneath the jagged peaks of the Mountains of the Damned, that the real siege is taking place. The Serb enclave of Gorazdevac is surrounded not by hostile Roman garrisons but Albanian villages peopled by bitter survivors of Belgrade's war against them. Instead of wooden stockades, they are protected by the tanks and soldiers of an Italian peacekeeping force. When Serb and Kosovan leaders sit down next week to discuss UN plans for the province’s future, it is the fate of enclaves like Gorazdevac and its Kosovan Serbs that present the greatest threat to stability. A few miles from here, along the Bistrica river are some of the holiest Serb places -- the domed roofs of the Patriarchate of Pec monastery, the sacred seat of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the striped stones of the Decani monastery, where black-robed monks tend the tomb of St Stefan, the medieval Serbian king. Now, they might as well be on the moon. The villagers do not go there, nor do their children play in the clear waters of the river, not since a gunman in the woods opened fire, killing two teenage boys. [...]"

"U.N. Commander in Kosovo Resigns After Demonstrators' Deaths"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 15 February 2007 [Registration Required]
"The commander of the United Nations police in Kosovo resigned Wednesday, days after violent clashes between the police and demonstrators left two protesters dead and another critically injured. The commander, Stephen Curtis, a former British police officer, resigned under pressure from the mission’s most senior official, Joachim Rücker. On Tuesday, autopsy reports showed that the two protesters, both men, had been killed by rubber-coated bullets. Television pictures of the demonstration on Saturday in the center of Pristina, the regional capital, showed members of a Romanian riot squad attached to the United Nations firing rubber bullets into the crowd. A third man remains in critical condition in a military hospital, United Nations officials said. ... The United Nations mission has come under substantial pressure to accept responsibility for the handling of the demonstration, which was held in protest of terms set out in a United Nations plan for Kosovo. In the plan, Kosovo is granted de facto statehood -- an army, a constitution and a flag -- but it would still be protected by NATO and overseen by the international community for the indefinite future. ... The United Nations is planning to withdraw from the region by the end of summer and grant the province substantial self-rule, subject to approval by the Security Council. The mission first took over administration of the province in June 1999, after a 78-day NATO-led bombing campaign drove out the Serbian-dominated security forces who were accused of widespread atrocities against the ethnic Albanian population that forms the majority of Kosovo. [...]"

"Serbian Parliament Rejects U.N. Kosovo Plan"
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Post, 14 February 2007 [Registration Required]
"Serbia's parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected a U.N. plan that would give virtual independence to the breakaway province of Kosovo. The rejection sends a strong signal that Serbia will be unlikely to compromise over its southern province, meaning a resolution to the dispute over Kosovo's final status will probably have to be imposed by the U.N. Security Council. The proposal, drawn up by U.N. envoy Martti Ahtisaari, does not explicitly call for Kosovo's independence but envisions granting the province its own flag, anthem, army and constitution. Serbian President Boris Tadic told parliament that the plan 'essentially opens the way for an independent Kosovo, which is a violation of the essential principles of the U.N. charter that guarantees inviolability of internationally recognized states.' The plan was rejected by a vote of 255 to 15. Tomislav Nikolic, a leader of the ultranationalist Serbian Radical Party, which controls parliament, said that 'no one can create a new country on Serbia's territory without Serbia's consent.' Kosovo's prime minister said Serbia's views would have no impact on the province's future status. Kosovo has been a U.N. protectorate since 1999, when NATO bombing halted then-President Slobodan Milosevic's crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists in the province. Belgrade has offered broad autonomy for Kosovo. But Kosovo Albanians, who account for 90 percent of the population, are pushing for complete secession."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"U.S. Slammed for Backing Off 'Genocide' Charge"
By Aaron Glantz, 18 February 2007
"Human rights groups spoke out this week, condemning the United States Special Envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, for claiming the crisis in Darfur no longer constitutes genocide. 'The term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur,' Natsios told a gathering at Georgetown University February 7th. The statement shocked many observers since both President Bush and the State Department have used the term 'genocide' to describe the situation in western Sudan. ... Activists point out the killing continues unabated despite ongoing negotiations with the Sudanese government in Khartoum. On Wednesday, the United Nations Mission in Sudan reported that fresh violence has displaced at least 110,000 people in southern Darfur since December. ... On Monday, the European Union Council released a statement from Brussels protesting what they called 'an unsustainable level of insecurity' for humanitarian workers attempting to help refugees seeking relief from the killing. Attacks on relief workers and their property have become common, the aid groups said. There have been at least five car-jackings this month. Those actions prompted a fresh reaction from the U.S. Envoy, Andrew Natsios, on Wednesday. The same man who said 'genocide is counter to what's occurring' told Reuters 'the government has lost control. There is anarchy in large parts of Darfur. The risk is that if the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) leave, the UN humanitarian agencies leave ... there will be no one to care for these people in the camps who can be trusted.' But those statements drew criticisms from campaigners as well. Far from losing control, they argued, the Sudanese government is itself behind much of the violence and displacement. [...]"

"Please Send UN Troops, Say Desperate Refugees in Chad"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 17 February 2007
"[...] Sudan's janjaweed militia, armed Arabs on horseback responsible for so much of the violence in neighbouring Darfur, are carrying out attacks in Chad daily. Chadian Arabs, who have long lived peacefully with non-Arab tribes in eastern Chad, have joined the janjaweed in their attacks on civilians. It is a conflict that United Nations officials are warning could become a genocide. ... As the bloodshed rises in Chad, there are calls from humanitarian agencies working in the region for UN troops to be deployed. A UN technical assessment team visited Chad earlier this month and will recommend to the Security Council next week a force of eight battalions, some 6,000 troops, be sent to the region to quell the violence. Officially, more than 120,000 Chadians have been displaced by the violence -- the number has quadrupled in the past nine months as attacks on villages have soared. The word 'displaced' does not do justice to the terror the janjaweed have inflicted. Men armed with AK-47s, M14s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers have attacked their village, burning huts, raping women and throwing babies into the fire. Their cattle and their goats, their horses and their donkeys have all been stolen. Their harvest has been destroyed. Every last item that they owned has gone and they have been driven from their home -- land their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents were born on. They have fled to the refugee camps set up by the UN High Commission for Refugees, the nearest thing there is to a safe haven in eastern Chad for the 230,000 people who have crossed the border from Sudan fleeing the violence in Darfur. [...]"

"STAND to Spread Petition on Sudan"
By Rahul Kanakia
By Stanford Daily, 16 February 2007
"Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND) plans today to ask students to send letters to Congress, urging lawmakers to expedite the deployment of a 20,000-member peacekeeping force to the war-torn region of the Sudan. The United Nations (U.N.) authorized the mission last May to quell ethnic violence that has resulted in the deaths of over 400,000 people, but the operation has stalled after protests from the Sudanese government. At tables in White Plaza, as well as in Stern, Wilbur and Lagunita dining halls and various other locations on campus, STAND will ask students to sign pre-written letters to their senators and representatives. The campus-wide event will last from noon until 8 p.m. and will begin with a performance by Talisman in White Plaza. Students who sign three letters at Moonbeans will get a free cup of coffee. The letters call on the U.S. government to impose sanctions on Sudan and to put diplomatic pressure on the U.N. to deploy the authorized peacekeeping force without the consent of the Sudanese government; the letters also ask the U.S. to commit to funding the effort and for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states to deploy additional forces. The purpose of the event is to re-energize student activity on the Darfur issue. STAND co-coordinator Nikki Serapio '07 warned against ennui on the part of students, pointing to progress over the years. [...]"

"Darfur Rebel Group Says Accepts Ceasefire, Talks"
Reuters dispatch, 15 February 2007
"One of the biggest Darfur rebel factions said on Thursday it would respect a ceasefire and was ready to resume peace talks with the government to try to halt violence in the region that has killed some 200,000 people. Peace talks have faltered in the past, and only one of three main rebel factions signed a 2006 deal. Since then the rebels have fragmented into numerous factions, but the group which has agreed to the ceasefire is one of the largest. 'We will respect the ... ceasefire and ... once we have our commanders conference we will attend peace negotiations,' rebel commander Jar el-Neby told Reuters. U.N. Darfur envoy Jan Eliasson and his African Union counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim earlier met Darfur rebel commanders who rejected the 2006 deal. The U.N. Security Council is expected to consult next week on proposals for a mission to protect civilians in eastern Chad, where attacks launched from Darfur have exacerbated ethnic conflicts and displaced tens of thousands. At a French-African summit in the southern French resort Cannes on Thursday, Sudan, Chad and Central African Republic agreed not to support rebels attacking each other's territory, Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol said. 'There is a commitment in this agreement that each country will respect the sovereignty of the other countries and no country will support any rebellion within its territory,' Akol told reporters after the meeting. [...]"

"China: Partner in Genocide"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 12 February 2007
"[...] Except for Sudan Tribune, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, and especially Eric Reeve -- who has written thousands of pages of painstakingly documented accounts of the genocide and its perpetrators -- the press has overlooked an especially cunning and vicious strategy by General al-Bashir to avoid any serious negotiations with the various rebel forces for a true, durable peace. ... Absent any current likelihood that NATO or another combination of countries will, by force, make al-Bashir obey the U.N. resolution to admit over 200,000 U.N. forces to stop the genocide, the only alternative may be what Eric Reeves emphasizes: 'All necessary pressure must be brought to bear on China [the dominant player in the oil exploration in Sudan], which alone has the power to force a re-thinking on Khartoum's part.' But on January 16, as China's Hu Jintao was preparing to be the first chief executive of that nation to visit Khartoum, the Chinese assistant foreign minister for Africa, Zhai Jun, said in Khartoum that China would not exert any such pressure on the Sudanese government. And in the January 25 Financial Times, Zhai Jun confidently declared: 'With Sudan we have cooperation in many aspects, including military cooperation. In this we have nothing to hide.' Last year, when 48 African leaders joined in a summit in Beijing, it was General al-Bashir who raised a glass to his hosts in a toast to Sudan's 'partner in many projects.' The general cited oil as being among those projects, but he did not include genocide, facilitated by China's money and weapons. Since the world has allowed more than 400,000 black Africans to be extinguished in this genocide, will China lose face in the world if it invites General al-Bashir to be an honored guest when China hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics? By then there could be more than a million corpses. [...]"

"Visa Row: UN Team Cancels Darfur Visit"
By Robert Evans
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 14 February 2007
"United Nations human rights investigators on Wednesday called off a visit to Darfur after Sudanese officials demanded the removal of the UN's former top rights official from the group. The six-member team, set up last December by the UN Human Rights Council after fierce debate between countries defending Khartoum and others accusing Sudan of war crimes in Darfur, said it would pursue its work without entering the country. The group had been due to arrive in Sudan on Tuesday on the second stage of a two-month mission to look into alleged abuses against civilians in the vast, arid region where experts estimate that 200,000 have been killed and 2.5-million driven from their homes in four years of conflict. The Sudanese government, which has been accused of arming Arab militia groups, disputes the death toll and blames continuing violence on rebels who have refused a peace deal. Earlier this week, Sudan's Foreign Ministry said it would not let the new UN team -- headed by 1997 Nobel Peace co-laureate Jody Williams -- into the country unless it dropped one member. Sudanese Foreign Ministry sources said the objection was to Bertrand Ramcharan, a Guyanan who was the UN's Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2003/2004 and sent the world body's first rights team to Darfur. [...]"

"Darfur Rebels Accuse Sudan Govt of Attack"
By Opheera McDoom
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian, 13 February 2007
"Government forces have attacked Darfur rebel positions ahead of a critical meeting between rebel leaders and African Union and United Nations envoys trying to revive a stalled peace process, rebels said on Tuesday. 'There was an attack from the Janjaweed and government of Sudan early in the morning on the Sudanese Liberation Army [SLA] and on civilians,' said Osman al-Bushra, a rebel commander in Darfur. 'They took livestock and killed civilians,' he added. The civilian deaths could not be immediately confirmed. A Sudanese army spokesperson in Khartoum said he had not been informed of any operations in the past few days in the area. AU envoy Salim Ahmed Salim and UN envoy Jan Eliasson plan to travel to Darfur on Wednesday to meet rebel leaders and urge them to form a more unified position to allow peace talks to resume. A May 2006 peace deal was signed by only one of three rebel-negotiating factions and a new rebel coalition has since renewed hostilities with Khartoum. The rebel conference has been delayed many times, twice because of government bombardment, but Darfur rebel commander Jar al-Neby said commanders had begun to arrive from all over Darfur and the meeting should begin on February 19. The army spokesperson denied any operations in Fanga in east Jabel Marra. [...]"


"US Genocide Bill Angers Turks"
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian, 16 February 2007
"It seems an odd way to treat a friend. Washington's relations with Turkey, a key Nato ally, have been on the slide since 2003 when Ankara's parliament refused to allow US troops to transit into Iraq. That infuriated the Bush administration. Ensuing chaos in Iraq and the impetus the occupation has given Kurdish secessionism infuriated Turks in their turn. Iran and Hamas are other points of strain. One recent poll found that 81% of Turks disapprove of US policies. Now the relationship is heading for a potentially spectacular rupture following the decision of the US House of Representatives' newly installed Democratic leadership to follow France in endorsing a bill officially recognising as genocide the 1915 killings of Christian Armenians by Muslim Turks. As matters stand, there is sufficient bipartisan support to pass the measure if, as expected, it is put to a vote in the next few weeks. ... Calls are already being heard in Turkey for a downgrading of bilateral military cooperation, including logistical assistance to US forces in Iraq. General Yasar Buyukanit, chief of the Turkish general staff, went to the Pentagon this week to spell out the possible damaging consequences. 'Turkey is playing the security card against the genocide bill,' wrote columnist Mehmet Ali Birand of the Turkish Daily News. That meant reminding the Americans of Turkey's contributions in Afghanistan and Kosovo, its supportive ties to Israel -- Ehud Olmert was in Ankara yesterday -- and the way it 'actively participates in communications between Iran and the US.' The White House opposes the bill but may be unable to stop it. Meanwhile, the US is urging Turkish 'outreach' to Armenia in the wake of the Hrant Dink murder. [...]"


"A Film Star in Kampala, Conjuring Amin's Ghost"
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, 18 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] Amin, a charismatic army sergeant and fearsome boxer, seized power in 1971, promising to shake off the vestiges of colonialism. Instead, he plunged his country into a bloodbath, brutally eliminating his enemies -- sometimes quite personally, with a hammer -- until he was overthrown in 1979. More than 300,000 people are believed to have been killed. The movie ['The Last King of Scotland'] tracks those events through a fictional relationship with a young, gullible Scottish doctor, but one reason it seems to resonate with audiences here is because so much of it is true. 'This is not a bad attempt at history,' said Henry Kyemba, the author of 'A State of Blood,' a book he published in exile in 1977 about his years as a minister in Amin's government. ... Some Ugandans said the attention surrounding the film was bittersweet, because many people in the West would now associate Uganda with a shameful period of its history. But those days are over. It took some years after Amin was deposed (he died in exile in Saudi Arabia in 2003) for Uganda to pull itself together, but today it is one of the safest and most stable countries in Africa. It is a leader in the fight against AIDS, and such a reliable Western ally that as soon as donor nations suggested sending African peacekeepers into chaotic Somalia, Uganda was the first to volunteer. [...]"


"Medical Apartheid in America"
By Margaret Kimberly, 14 February 2007
"'There isn't a better candidate for torture than a person who isn't really considered a person.' The name Josef Mengele is so infamous that it needs no introduction. Mengele was the German doctor who performed medical experiments on prisoners at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp. An American doctor, James Marion Sims was equally monstrous, but his name is less well known. Sims was a doctor who routinely performed unnecessary and sadistic surgeries on slaves in Alabama. He opened the skulls of babies and performed gynecological surgeries on women. They were forced to endure unimaginable treatments, all without the ether that had by then become available as an anesthetic. Of course, being enslaved people, they had no choice in any decisions that Sims made about their bodies or their lives. Sims allegedly sought to treat vaginal fistulas caused by complications of child birth. One woman underwent this treatment, without anesthesia, 30 times. He obviously didn't cure her of anything. Because Sims' victims were black Americans their stories remained largely untold. They were not the first or the last black Americans to be subjected to what can only be called torture in the name of scientific investigation. Sims is called 'the father of gynecology' and eventually became president of the American Medical Association. He has been immortalized in a monument that still stands in New York's Central Park. ... A newly published book[,] Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, is a comprehensive chronicle of surgeries performed without anesthesia, the notorious Tuskegee experiments that prevented 400 men from being treated for syphilis over a 40 year period, and forced sterilizations. [...]"

"Utah Mall Gunman Was Srebrenica Survivor, Cousin Says"
Reuters dispatch on, 14 February 2007
"The 18-year-old gunman who shot five people to death in a Salt Lake City, Utah, shopping mall was a survivor of the siege that ended in the Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims in Bosnia's 1992-95 war, a cousin said on Wednesday. Sulejman Talovic, who was killed by police after Monday's shooting spree in which he also wounded four people, fled his village with his family during the Bosnia war to Srebrenica, a U.N.-protected enclave, Redzo Talovic said. They spent two years in the town, during which Bosnian Serb forces besieged the enclave and Talovic's grandfather was killed by shellfire, Redzo Talovic said. When the Bosnian Serbs overran the town in 1995, taking away and massacring some 8,000 Muslim men and boys, Talovic and his mother were evacuated by the United Nations and later reunited with his father, Redzo Talovic said. 'They were a good, quiet family, and I remember that he was a nice kid when he was 4 or 5, maybe a little bit playful,' he said, standing in front of the burned-out shell of the Talovic family home in the village of Talovici, eastern Bosnia. 'No one could have supposed that he was going to do such a thing,' Redzo Talovic said. 'Who knows what made him do that?' He could not say what marks Talovic's childhood memories of wartime Bosnia had left on him. Redzo Talovic said he was shocked at the news. 'I couldn't believe it. I heard that his parents are dumbfounded, they can't believe he did that,' said Redzo Talovic, one of the few villagers to have returned to Talovici. Talovic and his family never visited Bosnia or kept in touch after moving to the United States as refugees in 2000, his cousin said. Police said Sulejman Talovic and his mother had lived in Salt Lake City for a few years, during which he had four minor incidents with police as a juvenile. The teenager, dressed in a trench coat and carrying a shotgun, a .38 caliber pistol and what police said was a 'backpack full of ammunition,' opened fire at random on Monday evening, sending terrified shoppers running for cover. [...]"


"Zambia Loses 'Vulture Fund' Case"
BBC Online, 15 February 2007
"[...] Vulture funds -- as defined by the International Monetary Fund and UK Chancellor Gordon Brown among others -- are companies which buy up the debt of poor nations cheaply when it is about to be written off, then sue for the full value of the debt plus interest. There are concerns that such funds are wiping out the benefits which international debt relief was supposed to bring to poor countries. A Zambian presidential adviser and consultant to Oxfam, Martin Kalunga-Banda, said $42m was equal to all the debt relief it received last year. He told the BBC that this would take a serious toll on education in Zambia. 'It also means the treatment, the Medicare, the medicines that would have been available to in excess of 100,000 people in the country will not be available,' he added. Mr. Kalunga-Banda added that while the repayment might be legal, it arose from debts accrued when the country was under 'an undemocratic system. The consequences of the debt are impacting on the people of Zambia,' he said. 'The Zambians at that time did not even have even the capacity to know this was happening and that is probably what brings in this issue of unfairness.' ... In 2002, Gordon Brown told the United Nations that the vulture funds were perverse and immoral. 'We particularly condemn the perversity where vulture funds purchase debt at a reduced price and make a profit from suing the debtor country to recover the full amount owed -- a morally outrageous outcome.' Jubilee Debt campaigner Caroline Pearce said that vulture funds 'made a mockery' of the work done by governments to write off the debts of the poorest -- a key theme of 2005's Live8 concert. 'Profiteering doesn't get any more cynical than this,' Ms. Pearce said. 'Zambia has been planning to spend the money released from debt cancellation on much-needed nurses, teachers and infrastructure. This is what debt cancellation is intended for, not to line the pockets of businessmen based in rich countries.' [...]"

"'Vulture Fund' Company Seeks $40 Million Payment from Zambia on $4 Million Debt", 15 February 2007
"[...] In his recent State of the Union address, President Bush declared the United States was taking on the challenges of global hunger, poverty and disease, and urged support for debt relief, which he called the best hope for eliminating poverty. But what exactly are wealthy nations doing to reduce the debt of impoverished countries? Today we take a close look at companies known as 'vulture funds.' Vulture fund companies buy up the debt of poor countries at cheap prices, and then demand payments much higher than the original amount of the debt, often taking poor countries to court when they cannot afford to repay. For an in-depth look at this issue, we turn to a BBC Newsnight documentary by investigative reporter Greg Palast. [...]"


"How Do We Stop Genocide When We Begin To Lose Interest After The First Victim?", 18 February 2007
"Follow your intuition and act? When it comes to genocide, forget it. It doesn't work, says a University of Oregon psychologist. The large numbers of reported deaths represent dry statistics that fail to spark emotion and feeling and thus fail to motivate actions. Even going from one to two victims, feeling and meaning begin to fade, he said. ... It is thought that every life is equally important and thus the value of saving lives rises linearly as the numbers of people at risk increase. However, models based on psychology are unmasking a haze on the issue. One model suggests that people react very strongly around the zero point. 'We go all out to save a single identified victim, be it a person or an animal, but as the numbers increase, we level off,' he said. 'We don't feel any different to say 88 people dying than we do to 87. This is a disturbing model, because it means that lives are not equal, and that as problems become bigger we become insensitive to the prospect of additional deaths.' ... His new research follows up an Israeli study published in 2005 in which subjects were presented three photos. One depicted eight children who needed $300,000 in medical intervention to save their lives. Another photo depicted just one child who could be helped with $300,000. Participants were most willing to donate for one child's medical care. The level of giving declined dramatically for donating to help the entire group. Slovic and colleagues Daniel Vastfjäll and Ellen Peters used the same approach but narrowed the focus. Participants in Sweden were shown a photo of a starving African girl, her individual story and the conditions of the nation in which she lives. Another photo contained the same information but for a starving boy. A third photo showed both children. The feelings of sympathy for each individual child were almost equal, but dropped when they were considered together. Donations followed the same pattern, being lower for two needy children than for either individually. 'The studies just described suggest a disturbing psychological tendency,' Slovic said. 'Our capacity to feel is limited.' Even at two, he added, people start to lose it. [...]"


"Drug Company Tries to Block Generic Rival"
By Sarah Boseley
The Guardian, 15 February 2007
"A drug company will sue the Indian government today in a case that campaigners fear will drastically cut the chances of people in poor countries getting cheap medicines that could keep them alive. Novartis is fighting to obtain patent rights in India on its cancer drug Glivec, which will stop generic manufacturers making cheap copies of the $30,000 (£15,000) a year medicine. It argues that without patent laws, investment in new drugs will be jeopardised. However, campaigners fear that if the company won the case the effect could be to block the flow of copycat drugs to the poorest countries in the world. The company argues that India has a 'booming middle-class' that can afford its drug and promises to donate it for free to the poor who cannot. But Oxfam, Médecins sans Frontières and others say donation programmes are 'a short-term fix' and will not ensure a continuous supply of the medicines that poor people need. Novartis wants to overturn the Indian rule that patents are not granted for medicines unless they are genuinely innovative. The Indian government rejected the application on the grounds that Glivec was an existing drug with a minor alteration. If Novartis wins the case, which opens today in Chennai, critics say other drug companies will find it easier to get patents on their drugs and will be able to extend them by minor alterations. This will block the generics companies who, at the moment, produce most of the cheap Aids drugs used in Africa and half the essential medicines distributed in developing countries by Unicef, the UN children's fund. However, in an interview with the Associated press last month, Paul Herrling, head of Novartis's corporate research, said: 'We are deeply convinced that patents save lives. If the patent law is undermined the way it is happening in India, there will be no more investment into the discovery of lifesaving drugs.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. Let me urge readers to pick up a copy of Marcia Angell, M.D.'s book, The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It (New York: Random House, 2005). Among other things, it demolishes the notion that high drug prices and patent extensions promote "the discovery of lifesaving drugs."]


"EU Anti-Hate Law Sparks Debate on Nazi and Soviet Crimes"
By Renata Goldirova, 16 February 2007
"With Germany reviving its proposal on EU-wide minimum sentences for incitement to racial hatred and genocide denial, some EU states are taking a firm anti-communist stance demanding that totalitarian regimes become part of the bill's scope. Estonia, Poland and Slovenia -- all carrying the burden of a communist past -- demand that denial of the crimes of totalitarian regimes, including communism, should be explicitly mentioned in the text, with one EU diplomat saying 'the aim is to achieve morally equal treatment of the crimes of the Nazis and communism.' But even the camp of post-communist countries is divided over the issue, with, for example, Slovak justice minister Stefan Harabin saying 'we cannot place the two [fascism and communism] on the same level.' According to diplomats, some EU capitals favour the idea of having a separate proposal on political crimes, as the current German proposal is linked to hatred based on race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethic origin. German justice minister Brigitte Zypries, speaking on behalf of Germany's presidency of the EU, was reluctant to reveal details of Thursday's debate which saw no real progress on the issue as yet. But she said that 'all EU states want to give a strong signal of being ready to combat racism and xenophobia' adding there is unanimous support for 'a legal instrument' to be put in place. The current draft proposal outlines two groups of acts that should be punishable by one to three years' of imprisonment throughout the 27-nation bloc. [...]"


"'Honor' Killing Spurs Outcry in Syria"
By Rasha Elass
The Christian Science Monitor, 14 February 2007
"Sixteen-year-old Zahra Ezzo died at the hospital last month after a brutal attack. But it was her brother who confessed to killing her -- and her family who appointed him to carry out the murder. Some experts estimate that 200 to 300 honor killings like Zahra's occur every year in Syria. Most receive little or no attention. But Zahra's murder -- in part because it happened in the capital and not a rural area -- has compelled Syria's grand mufti, cleric Ahmad Hassoun, to publicly condemn the crime, calling for the first time for the immediate protection of girls at risk and for legal reform on the basis that such crimes are un-Islamic. President Bashar al-Assad has also promised to find a solution. Among the public, too, debate is rising about the practice and the laws that protect men who carry out such killings. A key question is whether the brother should go on trial for premeditated murder -- the family had planned it for months -- or as someone who had no choice because the clan's honor was at stake. Syria's law is lenient on a man who kills or injures his female relative if he catches her in 'illegitimate sexual acts with another,' or in a 'suspicious state with another.' If Zahra's brother is tried under this law, he might get out of jail in three months. 'This is what we're trying to change,' said Yumun Abu al-Hosn, a founding member of the Association for Women's Role Development, one of the few nongovernment organizations in Syria. The association runs the girls' shelter where Zahra took refuge in her final months. 'We may not be able to stop honor killings overnight, but at least if the crime is tried as premeditated murder, then Zahra and others like her will have some dignity in death.' [...]"


"CIA Agents Must Be Charged over 'Kidnap and Torture,' Says Judge"
By Richard Owen
The Times, 17 February 2007
"An Italian judge yesterday ordered 26 Americans, most of them believed to be CIA agents, to stand trial for the kidnapping and torture of a Muslim cleric. In the first criminal court case arising from the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme, the judge also indicted five Italians, including the former head of Italy's military intelligence. The trial threatens embarassing revelations over the CIA programme in which terror suspects were seized in one country and taken to another. The tactic has been one of the most controversial in the US led War on Terror. Osama Mustafa Hassan, also known as Abu Omar, was allegedly kidnapped on a Milan street in February 2003 by CIA agents in collusion with their Italian counterparts. He was flown from Aviano to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, and then to Egypt, where he claims that he was tortured. He was released in Cairo this week. The trial is likely to encourage prosecutors in other European countries to pursue similar cases. A prosecutor in Munich has issued arrest warrants against 13 people for an alleged kidnapping of a German citizen. It will also increase pressure on other European Governments to disclose the extent of their cooperation with the rendition programme. The Government in Spain has agreed to declassify an intelligence report on the CIA’s use of Spanish airports after a request from a judge. [...]"

"EU Governments Accused over CIA Flights", 14 February 2007
"European governments and secret services accepted and concealed secret U.S. flights taking terrorism suspects across Europe, the European Parliament said on Wednesday. EU lawmakers backed a final report concluding a year of investigations into allegations that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency secretly held terror suspects in Europe and flew some to states that practise torture. The article adopted by deputies said the European Parliament 'condemns extraordinary rendition as an illegal instrument used by the United States in the fight against terrorism. (It) condemns, further, the acceptance and concealing of the practice, on several occasions, by the secret services and governmental authorities of certain European countries.' Lawmakers criticised Italy, backing the conclusions of an Italian prosecutor who wants to try 26 Americans, most believed to be CIA agents, and six Italians for their role in the 2003 kidnapping of a Muslim cleric in Milan. Lawmakers rejected an amendment by the conservative European People's Party that said there was limited hard evidence the government of then-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was aware of the abduction of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar. The EU assembly has no legal powers over the matter and can only make recommendations. The vote followed a debate in which socialists, liberals, greens and leftists condemned a 'dirty war' waged with European complicity, while conservatives said the probe had yielded little evidence and was fuelled by anti-Americanism. [...]"


"Activist Genocide Scholar"
By Linda Melvern
The Independent, 14 February 2007
"The genocide scholar Eric Markusen spent most of his life trying to understand genocide, trying to fathom how perpetrators and accomplices could act as they did, and to explain the willingness of governments, and their citizens, to engage in the mass killing of innocent people. Markusen's research took him to former Soviet satellites, Cambodia, Croatia and Bosnia, Poland, Serbia, the border of Ethiopia and Eritrea, to Rwanda and to Chad. ... Markusen was the author of many articles and books on genocide, but also on nuclear warfare and strategic bombing. At the outset, his interest had been the mass slaughter of civilians in the probable effects of nuclear war, and he had wanted to challenge how the national security policies of powerful states relied on a threat to kill millions of people. ... It was in 1981, while studying nuclear weapons issues at Princeton University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies, that Markusen met Robert Jay Lifton and helped Lifton research The Nazi Doctors (1986), for which dozens of former Nazi doctors, as well as surviving victims were interviewed. Markusen and Lifton later co-authored The Genocidal Mentality: Nazi holocaust and nuclear threat, published in 1990. There are today courses on genocide studies at a growing number of universities around the world and in the early Nineties Markusen welcomed the newly emerging field of the study of genocide and the establishment of the International Association of Genocide Scholars. He believed it necessary for new generations of students and citizens to appreciate just how serious the epidemic of genocidal killing had become. While the study of genocide was a profoundly distasteful task, it did require a critical and realistic look at modern society. ... Eric Markusen was gentle, straightforward, committed and decent. He was teacher, a researcher but also an activist for genocide prevention. He was pivotal in the world of genocide scholarship and in July the 2007 conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, to be held at Markusen's suggestion in Sarajevo, will be dedicated in his memory."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ