Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
April 12-24, 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 adamj_jones@hotmail.com.

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"Argentina Ex-Leader Faces Kidnapping Charges"
Reuters dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 24 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"The last de facto president of Argentina's 1976-83 military dictatorship must stand trial on charges that he kidnapped children of those killed in the country's 'dirty war,' a judge ruled Monday. Reynaldo Bignone and six other high-ranking officers will face prosecution in a case investigating allegations that some children of slain dissidents were handed over to members of the military, federal Judge Guillermo Montenegro ruled. The charges include 'taking, retaining and hiding minors and changing their identities,' according to the ruling. No formal court date was set. A former army general, Bignone was the last of four de facto presidents and took power in mid-1982 after Argentina's defeat in the Falkland Islands war. Bignone has been under house arrest since March. Many of the junta's other top leaders, including Gen. Jorge Videla and Adm. Emilio Massera, are also facing similar charges. Last year, Bignone told a radio station that the child kidnapping charges are 'an invention.' The human rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo says it has traced about 90 children of missing political prisoners and reunited them with their biological families. The other officers to face trial include former army chief Cristino Nicolaides, former navy chief Ruben Franco and Jorge Acosta, a former marine. A government report says at least 9,000 people died or disappeared during the seven-year crackdown on leftist dissent. Human rights groups say the number is closer to 30,000. [...]"


"Congressional Resolution on Armenian Genocide Remains Uncertain"
By Richard Simon
The Los Angeles Times, 21 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"It was the year 2000, and Rep. George P. Radanovich was on his way to the Capitol, expecting the House to pass a long-debated resolution he was sponsoring to recognize the Armenian genocide almost a century ago. But just as the Republican from Mariposa prepared to step onto the House floor, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) called off the vote because President Clinton personally had warned him that the symbolic but emotion-charged resolution could damage national security. Turkey, an important U.S. ally, long has insisted that the deaths of about 1 million Armenians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire were not acts of genocide. Seven years later, however, with Congress in the hands of Democrats, the resolution's backers believe they stand their best chance yet of winning passage -- even though the Bush administration, like previous Democratic and Republican administrations, is working hard to kill it. Radanovich is predicting that the resolution's fate once again will come down to a phone call between the president and the House speaker. This time the speaker is Democrat Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, who as a member of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues has been a passionate supporter of the genocide resolution. But there's a rub: During almost 20 years representing the Bay Area, home to thousands of voters of Armenian descent, Pelosi has had a relatively free hand in deciding her position on the volatile issue. But today she comes at it as a leader of the Democratic Party and a high-profile player in the U.S. government. She has shown, by her maneuvering on Iraq war funding and her recent visit to Syria, that she is not reluctant to take on the White House. And she has learned that Republicans will be quick to seize any opportunity to brand her a lightweight in foreign affairs. Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Pelosi must now weigh the resolution 'through a perspective she never did before.' [...]"

"Armenian Genocide Sears Survivors' Memories"
By Joseph Ax
Bergen Record, 13 April 2007
"Hagop Bahtiarian was 5 years old when police came to his home near Ankara, Turkey, in 1915 and said the mayor wanted to speak to his father. That would be the last time Bahtiarian saw him. 'My father went and never came back,' the 97-year-old said on a recent afternoon at the Armenian Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Emerson. 'It's impossible to forget. I [was] 5 years old, but my memory is clear. They were selling his clothes at the market the same day.' Bahtiarian is one of a dwindling number of survivors of what is commonly known as the Armenian genocide. Most academics estimate that 1 million to 1.5 million Armenians died in Turkey during World War I and its aftermath, from 1915 to 1923. Armenians commemorate the killings every year on April 24. Like Bahtiarian, Anahid 'Annie' Boghosian, another resident at the Armenian home, was only a child when soldiers forced members of her family to leave their village home and march for days until they reached a Kurdish area, where they were taken in. Boghosian's father had gone to look for work in Istanbul; he was never heard from again. 'I saw on the road, in the field, people lying injured,' the 98-year-old said, her pink-rimmed glasses framing clear blue eyes that occasionally filled with tears as she tried to remember her experiences. Both Bahtiarian, a longtime watchmaker who has lived in several Bergen County towns since the 1960s, and Boghosian, who worked for a rubber company and lived in Cliffside Park, say that Turks and Armenians lived side by side in their communities before the Young Turks government began to persecute Armenians. 'We went to school together,' Boghosian said. 'How can you hate them?' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Rick Feingold for forwarding this link.]


"Colombia: Progress at a Price"
By Alice O'Keeffe
New Statesman, 23 April 2007
"[...] In November 2003, after 40 years of a civil war that involved a death toll of tens of thousands, Colombian television broadcast an extraordinary scene: ranks of uniformed troops from one of the country's biggest paramilitary organisations queuing up to hand in their arms in Medellín's central square. It was to be the first in a series of 'demobilisation' ceremonies across the country, and a coup for the right-leaning government of President Álvaro Uribe Vélez, who had opened official negotiations with the paramilitaries following a ceasefire the previous year. ... Since then, more than 30,000 paramilitaries have demobilised, and under the terms of the agreement all of those who were not under investigation for human-rights abuses -- the vast majority -- were channelled straight into the 'reintegration' system. ... The process has, however, been hugely controversial. There have been widespread reports of non-paramilitaries 'demobilising' simply to claim the generous government package, and even of paramilitary groups recruiting civilians to 'demobilise' instead of actual combatants -- it was originally estimated that there were between 10,000 and 20,000 paramilitary troops, and to date 30,000 people have handed themselves in. In many areas, new groups have emerged, with similar structures and aims to the paramilitaries but with names such as 'the Black Eagles.' Colombian human-rights organisations report that the paramilitaries are responsible for up to 2,300 murders and disappearances since the deal was announced (official figures are much lower). Amnesty International has accused the government of promoting a culture of impunity. 'We would argue that the demobilisation process represents a de facto amnesty for paramilitaries, many of whom will have committed war crimes,' says Peter Drury, head of Amnesty's Colombia programme. 'The idea is to remove combatants from the conflict, but if they have not been held to account for their actions, what guarantees that they will not go on to do the same again?' [...]"

"Colombian Senator: Death Squads Met At Uribe's Ranch"
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, 18 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"An opposition lawmaker on Tuesday alleged that paramilitary death squads met at the ranch of President Álvaro Uribe in the late 1980s and plotted to murder opponents, an explosive charge in a growing scandal that has unearthed ties between the illegal militias and two dozen congressmen. Basing his accusations on government documents and depositions by former paramilitary members and military officers, Sen. Gustavo Petro said the militiamen met at Uribe's Guacharacas farm as well as ranches owned by his brother, Santiago Uribe, and a close associate, Luis Alberto Villegas. 'From there, at night, they would go out and kill people,' Petro said, referring to the sprawling ranch owned by Álvaro Uribe, who served as a senator from 1986 to 1994. The allegations, made at a congressional hearing on the 'para-politics' scandal, were vigorously denied by the government. In a rebuttal, Interior Minister Carlos Holguín said that all manner of rumors have arisen about Uribe's farm. Holguín said Petro had 'abused' his position by using court documents selectively to make his points and was trying to portray Colombia 'as a country of assassins, a country of paramilitaries.' And he wondered aloud why Petro was not so aggressive about unearthing links between politicians and leftist guerrillas, noting that Petro had been a member of the M-19 rebel movement until his election to Congress in 1991. ... Uribe, since he first ran for office, has also been dogged by the fact that paramilitary groups grew dramatically during his term as governor in the northwestern state of Antioquia, from 1995 to 1997. During that time, he helped spearhead the creation of Convivirs, legal vigilante groups. Some were later denounced for having morphed into paramilitary death squads or for serving as fronts for paramilitary warlords. [...]"


"Life after Rape in Congo"
By Stephanie Hanes
The Christian Science Monitor, 25 April 2007
"Eastern Congo has experienced atrocious levels of sexual violence over the past nine years -- first during a five-year war that ended in 2003 and killed 4 million people from violence and hunger, then during continued instability and ethnic fighting. Human Rights Watch, the United Nations, and many other organizations have decried the mass rapes here; most estimates put the number of Congolese rape victims in the tens of thousands. During the war, most women were raped by militia members, who wielded sexual violence as yet another weapon. Today, women and girls are more likely to be assaulted by the low-paid Congolese soldiers, who regularly extort and terrorize local villagers. Scores of aid organizations continue in their efforts to aid rape survivors. But more and more, there are also people like Pacuriema -- local women simply trying to help. They have formed organizations throughout eastern Congo, working with scant resources to arrange housing for survivors, persuade husbands to stay with their raped wives, and to find work for women supporting babies they never wanted. 'The Congolese themselves are really trying to do something,' says Madnodje Mounoubai, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in Bunia. 'But most of the time, they only have their goodwill.' [...]"


"Iraqis Turn to Tattoos as Indelible IDs"
By Christian Berthelsen
The Los Angeles Times, 20 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"The ghastly procession of decapitated corpses and mutilated bodies that has defined death in Iraq drove Firas Adil Saadi to do something that was once the province of convicts and degenerates here: He got a tattoo. The 28-year-old Shiite Muslim now has a marking on his right shoulder so his family may avoid the despair of not being able to identify his remains. In ornate Arabic calligraphy, it says 'My brother Husam,' after a cousin who suffered such a fate. Saadi also carries paper identification, but he believes it would be burned beyond recognition in a bombing. 'The idea came to me after seeing these daily incidents during which some corpses are mutilated and distorted, some were even headless, and the fact that the identity cards are either lost or destroyed,' said Saadi, a trader who works in Baghdad's Shorja market, which has suffered numerous bombings. 'Even the water of the firefighting equipment is destroying them, so I thought about an irremovable identity card, which is the tattoo.' In Iraq, it has come to this: Faced with the omnipresent specter of death, an increasing number of people, mainly Shiite men, are willing to contravene social taboo to accommodate it. ... 'I think the resort to using the tattoos by people now from all social classes is something like a return to barbarism, and this is exactly what the Americans want, getting Iraq to the pre-civilization times,' said Hashim Hassan, a Shiite professor at Baghdad University. 'Both the lower and middle classes are taking tattoo drawings on their bodies. It is more among the men than the women because of the feeling that the men are targeted so they do not want to lose the links with their families' even if they are killed, he said. 'I think a time will come when each family will choose a tattoo for itself and get recognized by it.' [...]"


"The Holocaust as Political Asset"
By Amira Hass
Counterpunch.org, 20 April 2007
"[...] The phrase 'security for the Jews' has been consecrated as an exclusive synonym for 'the lessons of the Holocaust.' It is what allows Israel to systematically discriminate against its Arab citizens. For 40 years, 'security' has been justifying control of the West Bank and Gaza and of subjects who have been dispossessed of their rights living alongside Jewish residents, Israeli citizens laden with privileges. Security serves the creation of a regime of separation and discrimination on an ethnic basis, Israeli style, under the auspices of 'peace talks' that go on forever. Turning the Holocaust into an asset allows Israel to present all the methods of the Palestinian struggle (even the unarmed ones) as another link in the anti-Semitic chain whose culmination is Auschwitz. Israel provides itself with the license to come up with more kinds of fences, walls and military guard towers around Palestinian enclaves. Separating the genocide of the Jewish people from the historical context of Nazism and from its aims of murder and subjugation, and its separation from the series of genocides perpetrated by the white man outside of Europe, has created a hierarchy of victims, at whose head we stand. Holocaust and anti-Semitism researchers fumble for words when in Hebron the state carries out ethnic cleansing via its emissaries, the settlers, and ignore the enclaves and regime of separation it is setting up. Whoever criticizes Israel's policies toward the Palestinians is denounced as an anti-Semite, if not a Holocaust denier. Absurdly, the delegitimization of any criticism of Israel only makes it harder to refute the futile equations that are being made between the Nazi murder machine and the Israeli regime of discrimination and occupation. [...]"


"Academics Claim Proof Japan Forced WW2 Sex Slaves"
By George Nishiyama
Reuters dispatch, 17 April 2007
"Japanese academics presented on Tuesday what they said was additional evidence to prove that the military kidnapped women to serve as sex slaves during World War Two, rejecting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's claims. The academics, belonging to a centre looking into Japan's war responsibility, also urged Abe's government to come up with a clearer apology to the women -- mostly from Asia -- and offer them compensation. Abe has come under fire for his remarks last month that there was no proof that the government or the military forced women to work in the wartime brothels as 'comfort women,' as the sex slaves are known in Japan. The Japanese leader has apologized for the sex slaves and has said he stands by a 1993 statement that acknowledged official involvement in the management of the brothels, but has also said he would apologize again even if U.S. lawmakers adopted a resolution seeking one. Hirofumi Hayashi, a professor at Kanto-Gakuin University, presented at a news conference several documents, submitted as evidence to the Tokyo war crimes tribunal, showing that the Japanese military had kidnapped women to work as sex slaves. 'It is a great mystery why the Japanese government ignores these documents,' Hayashi said, pointing out that Japan must acknowledge them as it accepted the rulings of the Allied-run tribunal when it signed peace treaties that ended the war. Hayashi said he had found the documents last year, but decided to disclose them now in response to remarks by Abe and others in government denying military involvement in kidnapping the women. [...]"


"Macedonia Minister 'Watched Police Killings'"
Associated Press dispatch on CNN.com, 16 April 2007
"Macedonia's interior minister watched from behind a wall as police allegedly rampaged through a Macedonian village in 2001, killing seven ethnic Albanian men, abusing dozens more and torching and blowing up houses, U.N. prosecutors said Monday. A video played on the opening day of the war crimes trial of former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski and police official Johan Tarculovsky showed what prosecutor Dan Saxon described as Boskovski witnessing the attack on Ljuboten from several hundred meters (yards) away. The video, screened for judges at the U.N. Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, showed Boskovski sheltering behind a wall, with a view across several open fields to the rooftops of houses. No people in the village were visible on the video, but gunfire could be heard at times. Both Boskovski and Tarculovsky have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, wanton destruction and cruel treatment. The charges are linked to the brutal Aug. 12, 2001, alleged attack by 100 police on Ljuboten, 10 kilometers (six miles) north of the capital, Skopje. The indictment is the only one filed by the tribunal related to the six-month conflict between Macedonian forces and ethnic Albanians fighting for more political rights in the majority Slavic nation. Boskovski is held responsible for the attack as his ministry controlled all police. The video also appeared to demonstrate that he knew the attack happened. ... Tarculovsky allegedly masterminded the atrocities -- handpicking, arming and personally leading the force. 'The police unit led by the accused Tarculovsky deliberately chose unarmed civilians, wantonly burned and destroyed many homes without justification and cruelly treated a group of residents, seven of whom were killed,' said prosecutor Joanne Motoike. The attack 'clearly had a criminal design as demonstrated by the manner, method and results,' she added. [...]"


"Rwanda: France Promoting 'Double Genocide' Ideology -- Wallis"
By Godwin Agaba
The New Times (Kigali) (on AllAfrica.com), 22 April 2007
"France is continuously denying what happened in Rwanda and promoting the 'double genocide' ideology. The observation was made by Andrew Wallis, a British journalist and author of 'Silent Accomplice: The Untold Story of France's Role in the Rwandan Genocide', during the launch of Rwanda Center for Strategic Studies (RCSS) at Novotel Hotel in Kacyiru, a Kigali suburb. Wallis noted that it is a crime for France to keep on denying its role in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. He said the only way France can redeem its esteem and reinforce its relationship with Rwanda is by first accepting its past mistakes and asking for forgiveness, failure of which there will always be an impasse between the two countries. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Charles Murigande, presided over the launch. He noted that RCSS offers an opportunity to share knowledge and how to foster security in the region and the country. The Rwanda Centre for Strategic Studies was formed on 6th September 2006 at the initiation of African Centre for Strategic Studies (ACSS). The Rwanda Chapter aims at building and maintaining networks and relationships of trust among national, regional and the international community with shared values and a common vision for a stable and peaceful region in particular and the entire continent in general. Wallis said there is need to establish the real motive behind France's unwavering support for the genocidal regime. 'You should consider the major French operations in Rwanda between 1990-94 Operation Noroit, Amaryllis and Turquoise and some of the questions that remain to be answered as to French motivation behind their support of Habyarimana and the interim government,' Wallis said. [...]"

"Rwanda Takes France to UN Court"
BBC Online, 18 April 2007
"Rwanda has asked the International Court of Justice to quash French arrest warrants issued against nine associates of President Paul Kagame. The government cannot function properly, as officials like the army chief-of-staff are unable to travel abroad, says Rwanda's justice minister. The warrants were issued in November after a French judge implicated Mr Kagame in his predecessor's killing. Former President Juvenal Habyarimana's death sparked the 1994 genocide. More than 800,000 people died in the 100-day massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Mr. Kagame, who under French law has immunity as head of state, has denied involvement in the shooting down of Habyarimana's plane, but has said he does not regret the death. Rwanda broke off diplomatic relations with France after the accusation. French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere is investigating the case because the crew of the plane were French and their families filed a case in France in 1998. Those he wants to arrest include armed forces chief James Kabarebe and army chief-of-staff Charles Kayonga. Judge Bruguiere has said that only Mr. Kagame's Tutsi-dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) forces had missiles capable of downing President Habyarimana's plane. [...]"


"Russia Says UN Plan for Kosovo Independence 'Will Not Pass'"
By Maria Danilova
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 24 April 2007
"A senior Russian diplomat said a UN plan for the eventual independence of Serbia's breakaway province of Kosovo will not pass, giving Moscow's strongest indication yet that it might veto the proposal, local news agencies reported. The proposal, drawn up by UN envoy for Kosovo Martti Ahtisaari, foresees granting Kosovo internationally supervised independence. It needs final approval from the UN Security Council, where Russia holds veto power. While Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority generally supports the plan, Belgrade has rejected it and wants to maintain some control over its southern province. 'We have said that we will not support a decision that will not be supported by both sides in the UN Security Council: a decision based on proposals by M. Ahtisaari will not pass,' Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Titov said, according to the Interfax news agency. Asked whether Russia could veto the proposal, Mr. Titov said: 'The threat of using a veto must stimulate the sides to come up with mutually accepted compromises,' the ITAR-Tass news agency reported. Kosovo, an impoverished province of two million people -- 90 per cent of them ethnic Albanians -- has been under UN and NATO control since a brief NATO aerial war in 1999 drove Serb forces out of the region after they cracked down on separatist ethnic Albanian rebels. [...]"


"Somalia Facing Humanitarian Crisis as Hundreds of Thousands Flee Capital"
By Salad Duhul and Elizabeth A. Kennedy
The Independent, 25 April 2007
"There are no more hospital beds available in this bloodstained capital, and barely enough bandages to patch up the wounded. Even the bottles of medicine are running dry. But still the patients keep pouring in -- and they are the lucky ones, having survived another day of gunfire and mortar shells as Islamic insurgents battle troops allied to Somalia's fragile government. ... Battles rocked Mogadishu for the sixth straight day Monday as Somalia heads toward one of the worst humanitarian crises in its history, with civilians getting slaughtered in the crossfire. A local human rights group put the death toll at 1,000 over just four days earlier this month, and more than 250 have been killed in the past six days. More than 320,000 of Mogadishu's 2 million residents have fled since heavy fighting started in February. ... The government and its Ethiopian backers have been facing mounting pressure from the US, European Union and United Nations over the mounting civilian death toll and appear determined to bring order to the city before a planned national reconciliation conference in June. But the fighting has decimated Mogadishu, already one of the most violent and gun-infested cities in the world. At least 18 civilians were killed Monday, said Sudan Ali Ahmed, the chairman of the Elman Human Rights Organization group. [...]"
[n.b. Remember a few months ago, when Mogadishu was peaceful and orderly under one of the more sane and moderate Islamist governments in the world? Who undermined that stability, and sparked the current devastating crisis?]

"Ethiopia in Somali 'Genocide' Row"
By Robert Walker
BBC Online, 13 April 2007
"A member of Somalia's transitional government has accused Ethiopian troops in the capital Mogadishu of committing genocide since arriving in December. The accusations came from Hussein Aideed - a former Somali warlord who is the deputy prime minister of the transitional government. Ethiopia dismissed Mr. Aideed's comments as an absolute fabrication. Hundreds of people have been killed and thousands forced to flee since Ethiopian troops arrived in Mogadishu. The Ethiopians arrived at the request of the transitional government, to oust the Islamist militia that was then in control. The comments of Hussein Aideed underline not only the deep divisions within Somalia's transitional government but also the strength of opposition in the Somali capital to the Ethiopian forces backing it. [...]"


"Darfur Peacekeepers Understaffed, Underequipped and Now Under Fire"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 25 April 2007
"[...] The African Union Mission in Sudan (Amis) was heralded by the international community as an 'African solution to an African problem.' Its role is to protect civilians from attacks by government-backed militia and rebel groups. But Amis is not even able to protect itself. It is under-staffed, underequipped and increasingly under fire from rebel groups which believe it has become little more than an extension of the Sudanese government. Darfurians now refer to Amis as the 'African Mistake in Sudan' and senior Amis officials are openly asking whether they are serving any purpose being here. 'Amis is doing what it can within the limits of its capabilities,' said Brig General E Rurangwa, the deputy commander. 'We don't have enough personnel and we don't have enough equipment. It makes it difficult to intervene. You have to protect yourself.' As the security situation has deteriorated, Amis has been concentrating on protecting itself. Amis is supposed to carry out up to 50 patrols a day, protecting women while they collect firewood and go to markets. But patrols are down to as few as three a day across the whole of Darfur, and are optimistically referred to as 'confidence-building.' While the soldiers stay in their barracks, nearly four million people remain affected by the conflict. More than 100,000 people were displaced in the first three months of the year. Even those patrols Amis does carry out do not prevent violence. Those living in the camps refer to Amis as the 'report writers.' [...]"

"This May Look Like a UN Plane -- But It Was Used by Sudan to Bomb Darfur"
By Richard Beeston
The Times, 19 April 2007
"Britain and America threatened yesterday to impose new sanctions on Khartoum after a United Nations report accused Sudan of disguising its military planes and helicopters as UN aircraft and using them to attack villages in Darfur. The confidential report says that military aircraft were painted white -- a colour usually reserved for the UN -- and used to ferry arms to the janjawid militia, for reconnaissance flights and bombing missions. The 44-page document, prepared by a panel of experts and circulated to UN Security Council members this week, accuses the authorities in Khartoum of flagrant breaches of international law and calls for tougher sanctions. Last night Tony Blair warned the Sudanese authorities that American and British officials at the UN Security Council would begin consultations on a new resolution against Sudan if it did not stop its violations in the war-torn province. 'What is happening is unacceptable. It is appalling,' he said. 'The international community will not allow the scandal that is Darfur to continue.' ... The report's most astonishing revelation was the use by the Sudanese armed forces of white-painted military aircraft in Darfur. On March 7 a photograph was taken of an Antonov AN26 aircraft on the military apron of al-Fasher airport, the Darfuri regional capital. Guarded by soldiers and with bombs piled alongside, the plane was painted white and has the initials 'UN' stencilled on its upper left wing. Another Sudanese military aircraft was disguised in the same manner. The report said that white Antonovs were used to bombard Darfur villages on at least three occasions in January. A similar ploy was employed to conceal the identity of three Mi171 military helicopters which were painted white. The report said that from a distance the aircraft could be mistaken for similar helicopters operated by the UN and peacekeepers. [...]"

"Why Sudan Is Now Allowing UN Troops in Darfur"
By Howard LaFranchi
The Christian Science Monitor, 18 April 2007
"International pressure from the United Nations, Arab leaders, and the United States played a role in Sudan's concession this week to allow 3,000 UN peacekeepers into the country's troubled Darfur region. So, apparently, did the image concerns of China -- both one of Sudan's biggest commercial partners and an increasingly outgoing international power -- as it prepares to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. But while some international leaders are jumping to praise Sudan's uncustomary openness to international intervention in Darfur, the US and Britain are seizing the moment to increase pressure on Sudan. As the conflict that has left more than 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced continues unabated, questions are surfacing over which approach is likely to stem the crisis most quickly. Some experts say Sudan simply continues to play the international community by stringing out its concessions to make them appear to be major breakthroughs, even though they are unlikely to get at the heart of Darfur's strife. 'It isn't going to make a huge difference who in the international community has got the approach to this announcement right, or even how quickly the government of Sudan acts on it, because the whole issue of UN troops has been blown out of proportion compared to what they can really do,' says Alex de Waal, a Darfur expert and program director with the Social Science Research Council in New York. 'International troops are ancillary to a peace agreement for Darfur,' he adds. 'They are not going to be the main event of a conflict that requires a political solution.' While that may be true, international leaders -- ranging from Western officials facing domestic pressure to stop what the US has termed a genocide, to Arab and African leaders increasingly fed up with the inaction of a neighboring regime -- are hoping international intervention will help pave the way for a political settlement. [...]"

"Sudan Drops Objections to U.N. Aid in Darfur"
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times, 17 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"Sudan said Monday that it had dropped its objections to large-scale United Nations assistance to the overwhelmed African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, setting the stage for the possible assignment there of United Nations peacekeepers. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan has repeatedly defied United Nations requests and pressure from governments elsewhere in Africa and around the world to permit international intervention in Darfur, saying such action would violate his country's sovereignty. But on Monday, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations, sent a letter to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the 15 member states of the Security Council saying that Sudan would accept what is known as the 'heavy support package' and that it hoped that it would 'proceed expeditiously.' The package calls for sending 3,000 well-equipped military police officers along with six attack helicopters and other aviation and logistics support to Darfur. The steps are the second stage of a much delayed three-stage proposal whose ultimate aim is to create a 21,000-member joint African Union-United Nations force to replace the 7,000-member African Union force there now. It is this force that most observers believe is necessary to curb the continuing violence in Darfur, but whether the agreement on Monday will lead to its creation is far from assured because of Mr. Bashir's record of resistance. More than 200,000 people have died in the Darfur region of western Sudan and 2.3 million have been uprooted from their land and subjected to repeated attacks from Arab janjaweed militias supported and equipped by the Khartoum government. [...]"

"Crisis Creeps Towards Catastrophe as Village after Village is Wiped Out"
By Julian Borger
The Guardian, 16 April 2007
"[...] The massacres in Tiero ... the neighbouring village of Marena, near the Sudanese border, killed about 400 people. The numbers are unclear because many of the bodies are still lying in the bush. The killings are a blood-red signal that the culture of mass murder as a weapon of war has found its way to Chad, after four years in Darfur uninterrupted by the global community. The widening of the conflict threatens, in turn, to trigger a new humanitarian disaster. The shock of the Tiero and Marena attacks sent more than 10,000 villagers from the immediate area fleeing into the bush, bringing to about 140,000 the number of Chadians uprooted by the violence. Many -- particularly women and children -- died of thirst on the road, having left in too much of a hurry to take water. Those that survived will have to share the available food aid with quarter of a million Darfuri refugees, and there may not be enough to go round. Pauline Bellaman, Oxfam's programme manager in the area, described the situation as 'catastrophic,' with barely two months left before the rainy season makes food delivery impossible. 'Even if the international community gets mobilised to provide the funds to bring in the food, it's going to be a logistical nightmare to get it to the right place at the right time,' she said. Oxfam is launching a public appeal today in the race to cope with the crisis, which is growing with every passing day. The massacres at Tiero and Marena took place two weeks ago but there are still stragglers arriving at the relief camps, after days walking in temperatures of 45C (113F). [...]"

"Sudanese Negotiators Back UN Helicopters in Darfur"
By Michael Georgy
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian, 13 April 2007
"Sudanese officials working to finalise a deal on United Nations support for the African Union (AU) mission in Darfur have recommended Khartoum permit the use of attack helicopters by peacekeepers, the Foreign Ministry said. 'They have made a positive recommendation and it is now up to the leadership. The president must decide,' Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ali al-Sadig told Reuters on Friday. The United Nations is nearing a deal with Khartoum to add 3 000 UN military personnel and equipment to the AU force but Sudan has so far objected to fielding six attack helicopters. Sudan also has not agreed to the next stage of an AU-UN Darfur operation, which would involve 25,000 troops and police. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stressed on Thursday the helicopters would not be used for offensive purposes but rather to help AU peacekeepers protect themselves. Some African countries with troops in Darfur have threatened to withdraw their forces if they are not better equipped. The underfinanced and underequipped AU force has been unable to stop violence in Darfur, where at least 200 000 people have been killed and 2,5-million forced to flee their homes, many to arid refugee camps. ... Signs that the interim plan would be implemented came as United States Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte met with Sudanese officials in Khartoum to make a fresh push for the deployment of UN troops in Darfur, where struggling AU forces have failed to ease violence hampering aid efforts. [...]"

"Darfur Collides With Olympics, and China Yields"
By Helene Cooper
The New York Times, 13 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"For the past two years, China has protected the Sudanese government as the United States and Britain have pushed for United Nations Security Council sanctions against Sudan for the violence in Darfur. But in the past week, strange things have happened. A senior Chinese official, Zhai Jun, traveled to Sudan to push the Sudanese government to accept a United Nations peacekeeping force. Mr. Zhai even went all the way to Darfur and toured three refugee camps, a rare event for a high-ranking official from China, which has extensive business and oil ties to Sudan and generally avoids telling other countries how to conduct their internal affairs. So what gives? Credit goes to Hollywood -- Mia Farrow and Steven Spielberg in particular. Just when it seemed safe to buy a plane ticket to Beijing for the 2008 Olympic Games, nongovernmental organizations and other groups appear to have scored a surprising success in an effort to link the Olympics, which the Chinese government holds very dear, to the killings in Darfur, which, until recently, Beijing had not seemed too concerned about. Ms. Farrow, a good-will ambassador for the United Nations Children’s Fund, has played a crucial role, starting a campaign last month to label the Games in Beijing the 'Genocide Olympics' and calling on corporate sponsors and even Mr. Spielberg, who is an artistic adviser to China for the Games, to publicly exhort China to do something about Darfur. In a March 28 op-ed article in The Wall Street Journal, she warned Mr. Spielberg that he could 'go down in history as the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing Games,' a reference to a German filmmaker who made Nazi propaganda films. [...]"


"U.S. Releases Cuban Bombing Suspect, Angering Havana"
By Anthony DePalma
The New York Times, 20 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"A 79-year-old anti-Castro Cuban exile and former C.I.A. operative linked to the bombing of a Cuban airliner was released on bail yesterday and immediately returned to Miami to await trial on immigration fraud charges. The man, Luis Posada Carriles, was released from the Otero County Prison in Chaparral, N.M., after posting a $350,000 bond on the immigration charges. His release infuriated the authorities in Cuba and Venezuela, who have been trying to extradite him to stand trial over the 1976 airliner bombing, which killed 73 people, including several teenage members of Cuba's national fencing team. The United States Justice Department had tried unsuccessfully to prevent his release, arguing that his escape from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 increased the risk that he might flee before the scheduled start of his trial on immigration charges on May 11. The court rejected the Justice Department’s argument, but it increased security measures by ordering Mr. Posada to be fitted with an ankle bracelet to track his whereabouts. He was ordered to remain under house detention with his wife in Miami until the immigration trial begins. ... Cuban officials have accused the United States of hypocrisy in battling terrorists by not prosecuting Mr. Posada or deporting him to stand trial on terrorism charges in another country. They routinely refer to Mr. Posada as 'the bin Laden of the Americas.' Mr. Posada's shadowy past as a Central Intelligence Agency operative put the United States in a politically delicate position. In his early years, he had received military training in the United States and worked for the C.I.A. to bring down the Castro government. He participated in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Later he was involved in supplying arms to rebels in Nicaragua. The United States has acknowledged his long record of violent acts. In court papers filed in his immigration fraud case, the Justice Department described him as 'an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots.' [...]"
[n.b. Well, I think that makes the parameters of the "war on terror" quite clear. It's worth noting that, proportional to population, the murder of 73 Cubans on the airliner bombed in 1976 was roughly equivalent to those murdered in New York and Washington on 9/11.]


"Korean War Policy Let U.S. Troops Kill Refugees"
By Charles J. Hanley and Martha Mendoza
Associated Press dispatch in The Toronto Star, 15 April 2007
"Six years after declaring the U.S. killing of Korean War refugees at No Gun Ri was 'not deliberate,' the U.S. Army has acknowledged it found -- but did not divulge -- that a high-level document said the U.S. military had a policy of shooting approaching civilians in South Korea. The document, a letter from the U.S. ambassador in South Korea to the State Department in Washington, is dated the same day in 1950 when U.S. troops began the No Gun Ri shootings, in which survivors say hundreds, mostly women and children, were killed. Exclusion of the embassy letter from the army's 2001 investigative report is the most significant among numerous omissions of documents and testimony pointing to a policy of firing on refugee groups -- according to undisclosed evidence uncovered by Associated Press. South Korean petitioners say hundreds more refugees died later in 1950 as a result of the U.S. practice. The Seoul government is investigating one such large-scale killing, of refugees stranded on a beach, newly confirmed via U.S. archives. No Gun Ri survivors, who call the army's 2001 investigation a 'whitewash,' are demanding a reopened investigation, compensation and a U.S. apology. ... When asked last year, the Pentagon didn't say whether U.S. investigators had seen the document before issuing their No Gun Ri report. Former army secretary Louis Caldera suggested researchers may have missed it. After South Korea asked for more information, the Pentagon acknowledged that it examined Muccio's letter in 2000 but dismissed it. It said the letter 'outlined a proposed policy,' not an approved one, army spokesperson Paul Boyce argues in an email to the AP. But Muccio's message to assistant secretary of state Dean Rusk states unambiguously that 'decisions made' at a high-level U.S.-South Korean meeting in Taegu, South Korea, on July 25, 1950, included a policy to shoot approaching refugees. The reason: the Americans feared that disguised North Korean enemy troops were infiltrating their lines via refugee groups. 'If refugees do appear from north of U.S. lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot,' the ambassador told Rusk, cautioning that these shootings might cause 'repercussions in the United States.' Deliberately attacking non-combatants is a war crime. ... As 1950 wore on, U.S. commanders repeatedly ordered refugees shot, according to documents obtained by the AP. [...]"


"E.U. Ministers Agree on Rules Against Hate Crimes, Racism"
By Molly Moore
The Washington Post, 20 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"European Union officials agreed Thursday to new regulations for combating hate crimes and racism at a time when xenophobia and concern over immigration have been increasing across the 27-country bloc. ... The proposed regulations are subject to the approval of national parliaments, and they allow individual countries latitude in defining some crimes and penalizing offenders. Even so, E.U. officials said Thursday's agreement represented a major milestone in persuading all member countries to fight incitement to hatred or violence based on skin color, race or national or ethnic origin. 'There are no safe havens in Europe for racist violence, for anti-Semitism, for people concretely inciting xenophobic hatred,' said the E.U. justice commissioner, Franco Frattini. The documents urge E.U. nations to impose prison sentences of up to three years for individuals convicted of denying genocide, such as the mass killing of Jews during World War II or the massacres in Rwanda in 1994.The rules would require countries to prosecute offenders in connection with killings that have been recognized as genocides by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But some political figures said the regulations could undermine freedom of speech, expression and the press. 'Attempts to harmonize E.U. laws on hate crimes are both illiberal and nonsensical,' Graham Watson, a British member of the European Parliament, said in a statement. 'The proposed list risks opening the floodgates on a plethora of historical controversies -- like the crimes of the Stalinist regime or the alleged Armenian genocide -- whose inclusion could pose a grave threat to freedom of speech,' Watson said. 'The E.U. has no business legislating on history.' E.U. officials said the new regulations include protections for films, theater, art and historical research. [...]"


"Defying a Clan Code of Silence on Unspeakable Crimes"
By Isabel Kershner
The New York Times, 20 April 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Abu Ghanem women are buried just inside the main gate of the old Muslim cemetery, eight in the last seven years. Amama Abu Ghanem says her daughter Hamda had been beaten by her brother and complained to the police months before she was killed. Reem eloped with a lover to escape an arranged marriage. Her brothers, one a pediatrician, are on trial for murder. Sabrin rests under a bare concrete slab with her name roughly scratched on by hand. She is said to have been killed by a cousin whom she refused to marry. Shirihan, 15, the youngest of the dead women, is also said to have rejected a marriage. Her stepbrothers are suspected of having killed her. Others lie in crudely marked graves, covered with plain marble or a mound of earth marked with an oval of stones -- all a few minutes' drive from Israel's gleaming new international airport, here in this hardscrabble town of 64,000 Jews and Arabs. So-called honor killings among Muslims are a phenomenon across the Middle East, including in Israel, where Arabs, most of them Muslim, make up almost 20 percent of the population. The Israeli police and courts have caught and convicted some of the killers; unlike the laws in some Arab societies, Israel's do not make allowances for such acts. Yet among the Abu Ghanem clan here in Ramla -- where family honor can be tainted by a woman's desire to go study at a university or her use of a telephone -- the bloodletting has carried on. Some women's advocates have accused the police of a dismissive attitude toward Arabs, while a Jewish district police official speaks of the 'ambivalence' of Israel's Arab citizens, who do not always want to cooperate with investigations 'for nationalist or local reasons.' So far, the Abu Ghanem cases have ended without convictions, the police say, mainly because relatives maintained a conspiracy of silence and washed all the evidence away. [...]"

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