Monday, March 19, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
March 13-19, 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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"Arrests To Be Sought in '94 Argentina Bombing"
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 16 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"Interpol said Thursday that it would seek the arrest of five Iranians and a Lebanese wanted in Argentina's worst terrorist attack: the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. Eighty-five people were killed and 200 were wounded when a van pulled up outside the seven-story building and exploded. Argentine prosecutors allege that the attack was orchestrated by Iranian officials and its execution entrusted to the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah. Interpol said Thursday that it would help Argentina seek the six arrests but turned down the country's request for assistance in pursuing three former Iranian officials, including onetime President Hashemi Rafsanjani. Iran said it would appeal Interpol's decision to seek the six arrests, a challenge that would in effect put the process on hold. The six people targeted by Interpol, based in the French city of Lyon, are former Iranian intelligence chief Ali Fallahian; Mohsen Rabbani, former cultural attache at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires; former diplomat Ahmad Reza Asghari; Mohsen Rezaei, former leader of the elite Revolutionary Guard; Ahmad Vahidi, a general in the Revolutionary Guard; and Hezbollah militant Imad Fayez Moughnieh."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"To Avoid 'Us vs. Them' in Balkans, Rewrite History"
By Nicole Itano
The Christian Science Monitor, 14 March 2007
"[...] In this still-fragile region, history is often served up as a nationalistic tale that highlights the wrongs perpetrated by others. Now a group of historians from across the region is trying to change the way the past is taught in southeast Europe -- from Croatia to Turkey -- in an effort to encourage reconciliation rather than division. 'History plays an important role in shaping national identity,' said Christina Koulouri, the editor of a series of new history textbooks and a professor of history at the University of the Peloponnese in Greece. 'We want to change history teaching because we are concerned about the joint future of the Balkans and we think mutual understanding can be promoted through better history teaching.' More than 60 scholars and teachers from around the Balkans have joined to create a new series of history books that tackle some of the most controversial periods in the region. The books, which are being translated into 10 regional languages, present history from various perspectives and excerpt historical documents to challenge interpretations of key events like the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. Most students, Ms. Koulouri says, know little about their neighbors, despite the region's intertwined past and the relative youth of most of the countries that exist today. Schools typically use government-issued texts in which wars -- and there have been many in the region over the centuries -- are portrayed in 'us versus them' terms with ancient wrongs visited again and again. The Joint History Project, run by the Greek-based Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe (CDRSEE), has translated the books into Greek, Serbian, and Albanian, and has begun training teachers how to use them. [...]"


"'I Always Knew I'd Find My Sister Again'"
By Jon Swain
The Sunday Times, 18 March 2007
"[...] Out of this poignant but uplifting story came Loung's determination to tell the world about the Cambodian genocide. In 2000 she published an extraordinary book, First They Killed My Father. Initially rejected by 20 publishers, it went on to become a bestseller. At the same time Loung became an activist, immersing herself in the campaign against landmines. Today she is a spokes-woman for the Cambodia Fund, a programme run by Veterans for America, helping disabled Cambodians and amputees. She leads delegations to Cambodia several times a year. 'I wanted to be a human being and if I didn't speak out and live the life I wanted to live I might as well be still in the Khmer Rouge,' she said. 'I felt I had been given a second opportunity of life and thought it would be a real shame, a real squander not to live it, not to grab it at the fullest, so that meant me being involved in the community and the world.' Her new book, After They Killed Our Father (Mainstream), deals with her tragic separation and eventual happy reunion with [her sister] Chou and has just been published in Britain. She had to piece together Chou’s story from their numerous conversations and interviews with family members and neighbours. While Loung was growing up in America, facing her own demons, Chou was living in a squalid village without electricity or running water and wishing she could have had an education. She had to endure many hardships, from a Khmer Rouge attack to the death of a young cousin who fell into a pot of boiling water. She, too, is a strong woman. [...]"

"Khmer Rouge Trial Rules Agreed At Last"
By Ek Madra
Reuters dispatch, 16 March 2007
"The trials of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders moved a big step closer on Friday as international and Cambodian judges said they had finally agreed on the rules of the tribunal. 'The review committee discussed in exhaustive detail many points and resolved all remaining disagreements, although some fine tuning remains to be done,' they said in a statement at the end of 10 days of talks. Disagreements which had held up the start of the tribunal, set up last year by Cambodia and the United Nations, ranged from admissibility of evidence and witness protection to the height of the judges' chairs. The statement gave few details of what the agreement entailed, but it appeared to have ended what diplomats said was the threat of the U.N. side to walk away from trials expected to take three years and cost $53 million. But it said one remaining point at issue was the fee demanded by the Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia (BAKC) for international lawyers to join it so they can appear. 'The latest decision of the BAKC imposes a fee that is unacceptable to the international judges, who consider that it severely limits the rights of accused and victims to select counsel of their choice,' the statement said. It did not say what fee the Bar Association was demanding, but said the international judges believed it should not be an obstacle and the two sides had promised to thrash out their differences by the end of April. It remained unclear when the trials would begin of 10 surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge, who emptied the cities and embarked on four years of radical agrarian revolution in which an estimated 1.7 people were executed or died of hunger or disease. But tribunal spokeswoman Helen Jarvis said the agreement meant they could start soon. [...]"


"Colombia May Extradite Chiquita Officials"
By Simon Romero
The New York Times, 19 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"Colombian officials said over the weekend that they would consider seeking the extradition of senior executives of Chiquita Brands International after the company pleaded guilty in United States federal court to making payments to paramilitary death squads. Chiquita, one of the world's largest banana producers, agreed to pay a fine of $25 million last week to the United States Justice Department to settle the case. Chiquita told the Justice Department that from 1997 to 2004, a subsidiary in Colombia had paid $1.7 million to right-wing paramilitary groups, which are classified by the United States government as terrorist organizations. ... President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia told reporters on Saturday that extradition 'should be from here to there and from there to here.' Colombia, the Bush administration's closest ally in South America, has extradited hundreds of drug-trafficking suspects to the United States since Mr. Uribe took office in 2002. Chiquita, whose history in Colombia goes back more than a century, said it voluntarily informed the Justice Department in Washington of its payments to the paramilitary groups in 2003, after the organizations' classification as terrorist organizations. The company's former chief executive from 2002 to 2004, Cyrus Freidheim Jr., on Friday told the board of directors of the Sun-Times Media Group, of which he is currently chief executive, that he is among present and former officials at Chiquita that may be subjects of the investigation in the United States. ... United Fruit Company, one of the companies that merged to create Chiquita, was long considered a bastion of American influence in Colombia's banana-growing regions. Thousands of striking United Fruit workers were massacred in Colombia in 1928, an incident that made its way into 'One Hundred Years of Solitude,' the epic novel by Gabriel García Márquez. [...]"

"Chiquita Banana Company is Fined $25m for Paying Off Colombian Paramilitary Groups"
By Andrew Gumbel
The Independent, 13 March 2007
"The Chiquita banana company, one of the world's biggest and most powerful food companies, has admitted paying 'protection' money to Colombian paramilitary groups identified by the US government as terrorist organisations -- and has agreed to pay a $25m (£13m) fine to wrap up a federal investigation. The settlement was quickly denounced as too lenient by human rights groups, which have long said that Chiquita's bananas are 'stained with blood,' accusing the company of paying paramilitary groups not only to protect workers, but also to target union leaders and agitators perceived as going against the company's commercial interests. They also pointed to President George Bush's policy that anyone financing a terrorist organisation should be prosecuted as vigorously as the terrorists. Rather than handing down indictments through a federal grand jury, the Justice Department chose to file a 'document of criminal information' against Chiquita Brands International -- a less aggressive form of prosecution that usually leads to a settlement rather than a criminal trial. Under the deal worked out on Wednesday, Chiquita will plead guilty to one charge of doing business with a terrorist group, and face no immediate sanction other than the fine. Chiquita itself insists that the only money it ever paid was to protect the well-being of its workers. Local human rights groups in Colombia have accused the company in the past of using the ports it controls to smuggle weapons into the country for the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia, often described as a death squad. [...]"
[n.b. "To protect the well-being of its workers ..."!]


"In Liverpool, Memory of Slavery Revived"
By Robert Barr
Associated Press dispatch in Yahoo! News, 16 March 2007
"Beatles lovers who seek out Penny Lane imagine it as that magical place 'in my ears and in my eyes, there beneath the blue suburban skies.' But it has a sinister undertone that still reverberates. The street in Liverpool, home town of the Fab Four, is named after James Penny, a slave trader and investor in 11 voyages that took 500 to 600 captives at a time to the New World. Penny was among the many who enriched themselves and their city on human trafficking until the slave trade was abolished 200 years ago. Their ships carried millions of human beings from West Africa to the plantations of the Americas in a triangular trade that also brought profitable cargoes of sugar, tobacco and rum to England. ... Liverpool's problem is its 'hidden history -- nobody wants to talk about it,' said Eric Lynch, a black Liverpudlian who leads walking tours in the west coast city. However, the past has not gone unacknowledged. The city council formally apologized in 1999, expressing 'shame and remorse for the city's role in this trade in human misery.' It has commissioned statues titled "Reconciliation," two abstract bronze figures embracing, which will be dedicated this year in Richmond, Va., and Benin, a West African port of call for Liverpool's slave ships. On Aug. 23, the anniversary of the slave uprising in French-ruled Haiti in 1791, Liverpool will open the International Slavery Museum. Part of its mission is recovering Liverpool's history, which remains a fraught issue. [...]"


"Menchu: Presidential Bid Helping Indians"
By Julie Watson
The Boston Globe, 15 March 2007
"Nobel Peace laureate Rigoberta Menchu said Thursday her bid for Guatemala's presidency is opening doors for Mayan Indians and shows how far the country has advanced in building democracy and battling racism. A small, non-Indian elite has long ruled the impoverished Central American nation where 42 percent of the population of 12 million is Mayan Indian. That elite 'had 200 years to show what they can do,' Menchu said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'We want them to give us the opportunity.' Menchu, Guatemala's first Mayan presidential candidate, is one of 12 in a crowded field for the Sept. 9 vote. She acknowledged the race could get ugly, but said she will not respond to any racist or macho attacks. 'I don't have to justify myself,' she said. Menchu won the 1992 Nobel Peace prize for her work as an Indian activist. Polls have shown that while she is well-liked, she trails the top three candidates and has only an outside chance of winning. Even if she loses, she said, the fact that she ran at all will be a success. 'This is the time to measure whether Guatemala still lives with the fears that have produced racism and exclusion,' she said. Talk of an Indian resurgence in Latin America surfaced in 2005, when Evo Morales became the first Indian to win Bolivia's presidency. Menchu is running on promises to clean up entrenched corruption in Guatemala, as well as plans to review the new Central American Free Trade Agreement with the United States. She also wants to reform the country's military and police forces to make them more accountable and end widespread abuse. Menchu, who received death threats during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war -- which killed more than 200,000 people, mostly Indians -- said she no longer fears for her life, although two armed guards watch her house 24 hours a day. [...]"


"Poll Shows Iraqis Feel Quality of Life Has Plunged"
By Cameron W. Barr and Jon Cohen
The Washington Post, 19 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"More than six in 10 Iraqis now say that their lives are going badly -- double the percentage who said so in late 2005 -- and about half say that increasing U.S. forces in the country will make the security situation worse, according to a poll of more than 2,200 Iraqis conducted by ABC News and other media organizations. The survey, released Monday, shows that Iraqi assessments of the quality of their lives and the future of the country have plunged in comparison with similar polling done in November 2005 and February 2004. The proportion of Iraqis who say their lives are better now than they were before the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 has slipped below half for the first time. Forty-two percent say 'things overall' in their lives have improved, down from 51 percent who said so in 2005 and 56 percent in 2004. Thirty-six percent now say things in their lives are worse today; 22 percent say their lives are about the same. ... Nearly half of the Iraqis in the ABC News poll -- 49 percent -- said that bringing more U.S. forces into Baghdad and volatile Anbar province will worsen security. President Bush has authorized the deployment of nearly 30,000 additional troops to those areas to support a month-old security plan developed by the Iraqi and U.S. governments. Sixty-nine percent of Iraqis in the poll said the presence of U.S. forces in the country makes the overall security situation worse, but just 35 percent said U.S. and other coalition forces should 'leave now.' Thirty-eight percent said the forces should stay until security is restored; 14 percent said the forces should remain until the Iraqi government is stronger; 11 percent said they should stay until Iraqi forces can operate on their own. Fifty-one percent said they thought it was 'acceptable' for 'other people' to attack coalition forces, a term that generally refers to U.S. troops. In the 2004 survey, 17 percent said such attacks were acceptable. [...]"

"For Many Iraqis, Hunt for Missing is Never-Ending"
By Damien Cave
The New York Times, 19 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"He comes to her in dreams, dressed in the blue police uniform he wore the day he disappeared. 'I'm alive,; he tells Intisar Rashid, his wife and the mother of their five children. 'I'm alive.' And so she restlessly keeps searching. Ever since the Thursday two months ago when her husband failed to come home, Ms. Rashid has tried to find the man she loves. In the Green Zone last week, where she waited to scour a database of Iraqis detained by American troops, she said she had already visited the Baghdad morgue a dozen times, every hospital in the city and a handful of Iraqi government ministries. 'I feel like I'm going to collapse,' she said, carrying her husband’s police identification card in one hand and a crumpled tissue in the other. 'It's taken over my days, my nights.' The past year of dizzying violence here has produced thousands of Iraqis like Ms. Rashid -- sad-eyed seekers caught in an endless loop of inquiry and disappointment. Burdened by grief without end or answers, they face a set of horrors as varied and fractured as Iraq itself. Has my son or husband or father been killed by a death squad, his body hidden? Or has he been arrested? Is he in a legitimate prison with his name unregistered, or trapped in a secret basement jail with masked torturers? Most importantly: How can he be found? Under Saddam Hussein, the disappeared were not discussed. Asking for information about people believed to be detained or killed by the regime only brought more danger to the family. But since the war, and particularly following the sharp rise in sectarian fighting over the past year, searching has become an obsession. Nearly 3,000 Iraqis visited the American-run National Iraqi Assistance Center in the Green Zone last month to look for missing relatives, roughly triple the monthly traffic of last spring, and an increase of 50 percent since December, according to military figures. [...]"
[n.b. Gendercide, though one has to read between the lines to realize it ...]

"Salvador Option Surfaces Again"
By Elizabeth DiNovella
The Progressive, 16 March 2007
"During Bush's 'social justice' tour of Latin America, he didn’t stop in El Salvador, a nation sorely needing some social justice. His military planners, though, had the small Central American country on their minds. The same day Bush talked about the U.S. being 'generous and compassionate' on his Latin American tour, Pentagon officials and military consultants discussed a fallback strategy for Iraq based on counterinsurgency tactics used in El Salvador. The U.S. government spent millions of dollars to support the Salvadoran military throughout the 1980s as part of its Cold War strategy of propping up anti-Communist forces. Reagan also sent fifty-five Green Berets to train Salvadoran troops, led for several years by James Steele. ... This discourse on death squads is nothing new for the Bush Administration. Cheney has been jawing about El Salvador in the 1980s as a model for Iraq for more than two years. But this time the Salvador Option resurfaces just a few days after the death of Rufina Amaya. Amaya saw Salvadoran troops slaughter her family and others in her village of El Mozote in 1981. The U.S.-trained Atlacatl Battalion tortured and executed at least eight hundred people in El Mozote and five surrounding hamlets. The Salvadoran and American governments denied that civilians were killed. But Rufina Amaya told another story. So did the mass graves unearthed after the war ended. Journalist Alma Guillermoprieto, writing for The Washington Post, interviewed Amaya a month after the butchery took place, and, along with Ray Bonner of The New York Times, broke the story. ... Amaya escaped the Atlacatl Battalion. But the Atlacatl Battalion escaped prosecution, thanks to a general amnesty passed in 1993. And James Steele is back prosecuting another counterinsurgency conflict, this time in Iraq. But the similarities between U.S. military involvement in Iraq and El Salvador don’t end there. In order to circumvent Congressionally mandated limits on the number of U.S. military personnel on the ground, the Pentagon outsourced the work to private contractors. Some of the same private military contractors, such as DynCorp, now hold contracts for security work in Iraq. The use of paramilitaries and mercenaries led to the deaths of thousands of people in El Salvador. This is not a decent option for the people of Iraq."
[n.b. The U.S. government has been doing more than "jawing about El Salvador ... as a model for Iraq." There is strong evidence that the Salvador model was in fact used to arm and train Iraqi death squads run from the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Thus, an unknown but probably significant number of the terrorist forces currently committing largescale extrajudicial killings and mass torture in Iraq are the creation of the U.S. government and CIA. For more information, see Christopher Dickey's article in Newsweek, "Death-Squad Democracy," 11 January 2005; and Max Fuller, "For Iraq, 'The Salvador Option' Becomes Reality,", 2 June 2005.]

"Conscience and the War"
By Stephen F. Cohen
The Nation, 8 March 2007
"Unless the United States withdraws its military forces from Iraq in the near future, a war that began as an unnecessary invasion based on deception and predictably grew into a disastrous occupation will go down in history as a terrible crime, if it hasn't already. For Americans of conscience, Iraq has therefore become the paramount moral issue of our time. ... It is the war's human costs that must be emphasized above all else. The Bush Administration and its bipartisan enablers have already squandered more than 3,100 American lives and maimed tens of thousands more for an unworthy and unwinnable military adventure whose declared purpose has changed repeatedly--from capturing Iraq's (nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction, to fighting Al Qaeda, to deposing a tyrant, to spreading democracy and now to countering Iran. As a result, the families of those American victims have been left without even the solace of knowing their sacrifices were not in vain. Still worse, all innocent life being equal, is the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe the US war and occupation have wrought in Iraq itself. Since 2003 that society has been decimated. Anywhere between 58,000 and 655,000 are estimated to have been killed, and a great many other bodies have been shattered, not to mention the thousands inhumanely imprisoned and mistreated; approximately 4 million have been driven in fear from their hometowns and villages, a figure increasing by 50,000 every month, about half of those out of the country; and much of its once modern social and economic infrastructures have been pounded into rubble. Among the major casualties is Iraq's middle class, a prerequisite of stability, whose professions, prospects and notable religious tolerance have been all but destroyed, along with many mixed Shiite-Sunni marriages and extended families. 'This,' lamented a young Iraqi, 'is civilization gone backwards.' The US war is not solely responsible for these tragedies, but it made them possible. [...]"


"Ivorian Women 'Forgotten Victims'"
BBC Online, 15 March 2007
"Sexual violence against women in Ivory Coast's conflict has been ignored, says Amnesty International in a new report. Hundreds and maybe thousands of women have been raped, assaulted or forced into sexual slavery, it says. Fighters from all sides have used sexual violence as part of a deliberate strategy to instil terror in and to humiliate the population, Amnesty says. A peace deal signed this month aims to unite the country split in two since rebels seized the north in 2002. The UK-based human rights group says the scale and brutality of the sexual and physical violence being perpetrated against women in the conflict in Ivory Coast is vastly underestimated. 'Hundreds, if not thousands of women and girls have been, and indeed are, still victims of widespread and, at times, systematic rape and sexual assault committed by a range of fighting forces,' Amnesty's Veronique Aubert said. The report -- Cote d'Ivoire: Targeting women, the forgotten victims of conflict -- includes testimony from women who have been raped, often in front of family and friends. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the full text of the Amnesty report.]


"Japan Stands by Declaration on 'Comfort Women'"
By Norimitsu Onishi
The New York Times, 16 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated today that there was no evidence that the Japanese military had forcibly recruited women into sex slavery during World War II. In a written statement endorsed by the Cabinet, the government referred to a study from the early 1990's and said that 'among the materials it discovered, it did not come across any that directly show that the military or authorities so-called forcibly led away' the women, known euphemistically as comfort women. The statement was in response to an opposition lawmaker, Kiyomi Tsujimoto, who had asked Mr. Abe to explain earlier remarks in which he denied that the military had coerced the women into working as prostitutes for Japanese soldiers throughout Asia. The remarks caused a furor throughout Asia, as well as in the United States, where the House of Representatives is now considering a non-binding resolution that would call on Japan to acknowledge and apologize unequivocally for its wartime sex slavery. The government stated that it would adhere to a 1993 declaration that acknowledged and apologized for Japan's brutal mistreatment of the comfort women. But Mr. Abe -- who has been under pressure from the right wing of his Liberal Democratic Party to reject the 1993 declaration’s admission of state responsibility -- said last week that the women had been coerced by private brokers. [...]"


"Letter Proves Speer Knew of Holocaust Plan"
By Kate Connolly
The Guardian, 13 March 2007
"A newly discovered letter by Adolf Hitler's architect and armaments minister Albert Speer offers proof that he knew about the plans to exterminate the Jews, despite his repeated claims to the contrary. Writing in 1971 to Hélène Jeanty, the widow of a Belgian resistance leader, Speer admitted that he had been at a conference where Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS and Gestapo, had unveiled plans to exterminate the Jews in what is known as the Posen speech. Speer's insistence that he had left before the end of the meeting, and had therefore known nothing about the Holocaust, probably spared him from execution after the Nuremberg trials at the end of the second world war. It helped earn him the name of 'the good Nazi' and the image of a genius architect who had misguidedly slipped into Nazi circles to further his career. Instead of facing death as many top Nazis did, Speer served 20 years in prison, mainly for using slave labour. In the letter to Jeanty, written on December 23 1971, Speer wrote: 'There is no doubt -- I was present as Himmler announced on October 6 1943 that all Jews would be killed.' He continued: 'Who would believe me that I suppressed this, that it would have been easier to have written all of this in my memoirs?' Speer, who died in London in 1981, denied knowing about the Holocaust in his best-selling 1969 book, Inside the Third Reich, as well as in lengthy interviews with the British author Gitta Sereny, who wrote a biography on him. The letter is part of a collection of 100 between Speer and Mrs. Jeanty, an author, written between 1971 and 1981, recently found in Britain. They are due to be auctioned at Bonhams, London, on March 27."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Balkans on the Brink"
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian, 15 March 2007
"[...] After years of getting nowhere on the central issue of Kosovo's final status, the international community is now desperately short of time. Martti Ahtisaari, the UN special envoy, will present his plan to the security council on March 26. The former Finnish president insists a status decision cannot be delayed any longer. If it cannot be settled sooner, a showdown is expected at the June G8 summit in Germany's Baltic resort of Heiligendamm, where western leaders will confront the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Hardline nationalists among Kosovo's ethnic Albanian Muslim majority are already pushing for immediate, full independence. The UN mission was targeted recently and tensions are rising. Nato sent 600 German troops yesterday to reinforce the 16,000 peacekeepers already deployed. Anticipating trouble, the US commander of Nato, General Bantz Craddock, said during a visit on Monday that his forces were 'fully prepared' to respond to any violence. That potentially includes renewed attacks on Kosovo's ethnic Serb Christian minority. Tempers are also fraying in fractious Belgrade where rival politicians, struggling to form a government after an inconclusive January election, agree on two things only: that Kosovo is sovereign Serbian territory that will not be surrendered, and that the UN is acting illegally. [...]"


"Slobodan Milosevic's Last Waltz"
By Ruth Wedgwood
The New York Times, 12 March 2007
"[...] In 1993, Bosnia sued Serbia in the International Court of Justice, sometimes known as the World Court, for planning, abetting and committing genocide in the Bosnian conflict. Bosnia argued that the Serbian militias' sniping and bombardment of civilian enclaves, torture and assassination of detainees, and ultimately, slaughter of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica, amounted to genocide. Last month, the court dismissed Bosnia's case on almost all counts. The judges sitting in Andrew Carnegie’s peace palace in The Hague held that the Serbian campaign of violence and ethnic cleansing against Bosnian Muslims could not constitute genocide. The only actionable instance of genocide, said the court, was the wholesale execution of prisoners at Srebrenica in 1995, and even there, Serbia was not adequately implicated in the crime's commission. This is a remarkable result. It's true that Srebrenica woke the West from its stupor and brought NATO military action. But the ethnic conflagration had already raged for three years, with countless acts of nationalist violence aimed at expelling Muslims from the north, south and east of Bosnia. Yet the International Court of Justice shrinks from recognition, failing to explain why the deliberate slaughter of civilians in the riverside town of Brcko in 1992, or the torture and execution of Muslim civilians in Foca, were legally different in kind from the Srebrenica murders. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Ursula Daba for bringing this source to my attention.]


"More Than 100,000 Cross Jungle to Flee Sri Lanka War"
By Justin Huggler
The Independent, 14 March 2007
"Tens of thousands of refugees are streaming out of eastern Sri Lanka as fighting between government forces and the Tamil Tigers worsens. So many people have fled that there is no room left in refugee camps, and many are being forced to sleep rough with only the trees for shelter. ... At least 40,000 civilians are believed to have fled from Tiger-held territory in the past week as government forces have kept up a fearsome bombardment, bringing the total number of displaced people to 127,000, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. 'Almost every night we can hear the sound of heavy shelling, and each day more families arrive carrying what they have salvaged from their homes,' said Mr. Wickramage. Yesterday the government carried out air strikes on a rebel-held area for a second day. At least 80,000 people are believed to have fled to government-controlled areas in January. Aid agencies, including the UN, the World Bank, Oxfam and Save the Children are warning of a potential humanitarian disaster. 'So far we haven't seen major outbreaks of disease, but as more families flee here and the summer heat builds up, we're worried that things could get out of control,' said Mr Wickramage."


"Sudanese in Israel Hope They Have Found a Home"
By Dina Kraft
The New York Times, 18 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] After rounds of Supreme Court appeals, parliamentary hearings and a public push by human rights groups, some of the detained Sudanese are beginning to be released to collective farms known as kibbutzim and moshavim, while their official refugee status can be determined and a country of asylum found. About 190 remain in custody. Roughly 200 of the Sudanese in Israel are Muslim, including about 100 who fled the bloodshed in Darfur. Others include Christians who say they are fleeing persecution from southern Sudan and those simply looking for work. In Egypt, their prior haven, they struggled with poverty and dismissiveness -- and sometimes outright hostility -- from the authorities. Some of them had been part of a Sudanese encampment in a Cairo park in December 2005, meant to try to pressure officials in the nearby United Nations office to relocate them. When they refused to follow the orders of Egyptian authorities to disperse, they were blasted with water cannons and dragged away. Twenty-seven people were reportedly killed in the melee. ... The presence of refugees from the Darfur conflict, which the United States calls genocide, presents Israel with a particularly difficult problem. Israel, founded in the shadow of the Holocaust, has felt a responsibility to harbor refugees -- plucking Vietnamese boat people out of international waters, for example. But now, government officials fear that if word spreads that Israel is a good place to settle, their country could be overwhelmed by large waves of refugees from Sudan and elsewhere in Africa. ... 'Israel is endeavoring to be as humane as possible,' said Mark Regev, a Foreign Ministry spokesman. 'Israel has a special understanding of the genocide in Darfur. We have a very real compassion for the refugees, and no one is being turned back.' But, he added, 'Israel does not have the capability to deal with all of Africa's refugees, so we have to be mindful.' [...]"

"Bush and Blair Threaten New Sudan Sanctions"
By Julian Borger
The Guardian, 15 March 2007
"Sudan was confronted yesterday with the prospect of stiffer sanctions over its failure to allow UN peacekeepers in Darfur, after Tony Blair threatened tougher action and a top US official warned of measures targeting the country's economic interests. Britain will press for a broader UN arms embargo applying to the whole of Sudan, rather than just Darfur province, and targeted sanctions against a longer list of people and organisations linked to the ethnic cleansing there, the prime minister said. Sudan was confronted yesterday with the prospect of stiffer sanctions over its failure to allow UN peacekeepers in Darfur, after Tony Blair threatened tougher action and a top US official warned of measures targeting the country's economic interests. Britain will press for a broader UN arms embargo applying to the whole of Sudan, rather than just Darfur province, and targeted sanctions against a longer list of people and organisations linked to the ethnic cleansing there, the prime minister said. 'We must show we are prepared to take tough action if the situation doesn't change,' Mr. Blair said yesterday. 'We cannot let this slip down the agenda.' In Washington George Bush was preparing to impose sanctions on Sudanese companies which would, among other things, block international transactions involving US dollars, according to the presidential envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios. 'I don't want to presuppose the decision that the president is going to make,' Mr. Natsios told humanitarian groups. 'It is pretty clear the president is angrier than anyone else. He gets very upset when he talks to me about the situation. He gets very frustrated by it.' Britain, meanwhile, will begin lobbying for a new sanctions package in the UN security council and in the EU, which the prime minister believes should be taking a leading role on the issue. [...]"

"The Legacy of Iraq is That the World Stands By While Darfur Burns"
By Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian, 14 March 2007
"[...] Fourteen different UN humanitarian bodies, including the World Food Programme and the World Health Organisation, issued an unprecedented cry of despair. They explained that their workers had 'effectively been holding the line for the survival and protection of millions, [but] that line cannot be held much longer.' Under attack themselves, these UN workers could no longer reach the people they sought to protect and feed. 'In the last six months alone,' they wrote, 'more than 250,000 people have been displaced by fighting, many of them fleeing for the second or third time. Villages have been burnt, looted and arbitrarily bombed and crops and livestock destroyed. Sexual violence against women is occurring at alarming rates. This situation is unacceptable.' I'm sure that when they drafted that message, they believed the world would stir and come to their rescue. Surely it could not ignore such a stark, desperate plea from those whose only motive is to save lives? Well, now they know. The message came and went, reported here and there, posted on the odd website and comprehensively ignored. The humanitarians of Darfur have learned the lesson of the old Bosnia press corps: that the world might know, and know in great detail -- but still the world does nothing, or waits until it's too late. [...]"

"Rebels Pose a New Threat to Darfur's Displaced"
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, 13 March 2007 [Registration Required]
"This sunbaked displacement camp, considered the largest in Darfur, has become a virtual no-go zone. Aid workers abandoned Gereida in December after gunmen stormed their compounds, raping an international staffer and stealing a dozen trucks. Last week, African Union troops suspended daily patrols after the shooting deaths of two Nigerian soldiers outside their base. Now anxiety and desperation are growing among the 120,000 people crammed inside this camp in the southern part of Sudan's western region of Darfur. The misery is depressingly common in this region torn by war, but the prime culprits are new: Darfur's rebels. Until now, the bulk of the suffering in Darfur involved attacks by Arab nomad militias, known as janjaweed, allegedly backed by the Sudanese government. But the attacks against aid groups and the African Union soldiers came not from the janjaweed or government troops, officials say, but from factions of the Sudanese Liberation Army, or SLA, the rebel group formed in 2003 to defend Darfur's tribes against assault. Once viewed by many here as freedom fighters, the rebels over the last year have fractured into more than a dozen feuding factions. Their attacks underscore a new and rising threat to Darfur's long-suffering people. Many here ran out of food in January when rebel attacks forced the United Nations World Food Program to halt visits. The International Committee of the Red Cross took over emergency work last month, resuming food deliveries and stabilizing the water supply. But camp residents fear other humanitarian workers may never return, leaving them to fend for themselves in a hostile desert. [...]"


"Racism and the Cherokee Nation"
By William Loren Katz, 17-18 March 2007
"As President Bill Clinton and others arrived in Selma, Alabama for the 42nd anniversary of the 'bloody Sunday' march that prodded Congress to pass the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the Cherokee Nation chose a lower road. It voted overwhelmingly for an amendment to their constitution that revokes citizenship rights for 2,800 members because their ancestors included people of African descent. Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, has long fought racism from both governmental officials and indigenous figures. In this instance, she claims, Cherokee leaders misled voters by insisting 'freedmen don't have Indian blood,' 'the freedmen were forced on the tribe,' 'the freedmen do not have a treaty right to citizenship,' 'the people have never voted on citizenship provisions in the history of the tribe,' and 'the amendment will create an all Indian tribe.' Cherokee voters were also influenced by the racist charge 'that the freedmen if not ejected, would use up all of the tribal service monies.' The design of the amendment, Vann points out, is patently discriminatory. It removes membership from descendants of enrolled African Cherokees whose documentation of Indian ancestry was affirmed by the Dawes Commission more than a century ago as well as those without documentation of Indian ancestry. On the other hand it accepts Cherokee members with white blood or even people whose ancestors are listed as 'adopted whites.' ... How ironic and sad that people of African Cherokee lineage still have to fight for natural rights being denied them by the New World's first victims of virulent bigotry, imported by the European invaders."

"Court Backs Indian Tribe on Sacred Mountain"
By Adam Tanner
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 12 March 2007
"An Arizona ski resort's plan to use treated sewage to make snow on a mountain sacred to several Native American tribes violates religious freedom laws, a U.S federal appeals court ruled on Monday. 'We hold that the Forest Service's approval of the proposed expansion of the Snowbowl, including the use of treated sewage effluent to make artificial snow, violates RFRA,' a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, holds that the federal government may not 'substantially burden a person's exercise of religion.' The dispute is one of the most prominent in recent years pitting the religious beliefs of American Indians against local economic interests. According to the Navajo Nation, the San Francisco Peaks are sacred to more than 13 Native American nations. 'They walked all over our dignity,' Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. said in 2005. 'You're committing genocide; you're demeaning us.' The Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, 150 miles north of Phoenix, wanted to use artificial snow to enable skiing throughout the winter and says the move in the San Francisco Peaks is crucial to its economic survival. Organized skiing started at Snowbowl in 1938, but has depended on highly variable natural snowfall rather than using artificial snow as at many U.S. resorts. In many years, enthusiasts can ski for more than 100 days a year, although in the especially poor 2001-2 season there were only four days when skiing was possible. Last year, a U.S. District Court judge backed the plans to allow a $25 million upgrade on the 777-acre (314.5-hectare) facility on federal forest land to include the use of treated sewage water. The Navajo Nation, which has an estimated 300,000 tribal members in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, joined several other tribes and environmental groups to fight the decision. [...]"


"The Liberal War on Democracy"
By John Pilger
New Statesman, 19 March 2007
"In Andrew Cockburn's new book, Rumsfeld, the gap between rampant power and its faraway victims is closed. Donald Rumsfeld, US secretary of defence until last year and a designer of the Iraq bloodbath, is revealed as personally directing from his office in the Pentagon the torture of fellow human beings, exploiting 'individual phobias, such as fear of dogs, to induce stress' and use of 'a wet towel and dripping water to induce the misperception of suffocation.' Cockburn's documented evidence shows that other Bush mafiosi, such as Paul Wolfowitz, now president of the World Bank, 'had already agreed that Rumsfeld should approve all but the most severe options, such as the wet towel, without restriction.' In Washington, I asked Ray McGovern, formerly a senior CIA officer, what he made of Norman Mailer's remark that America had entered a pre-fascist state. 'I hope he's right,' he replied, 'because there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode. When you see who is controlling the means of production here, when you see who is controlling the newspapers and periodicals, and the TV stations, from which most Americans take their news, and when you see how the so-called war on terror is being conducted, you begin to understand where we are headed. It's quite something that the nuclear threat today should be seen first and foremost as coming from the United States of America and Great Britain.' [...]"

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