Thursday, May 24, 2007

On the road until July

To Jonestream visitors: I will be leaving New Haven at the end of May, and travelling in the Balkans until mid-July. Thereafter, I will be taking up my new position as Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. I should be able to resume posting the "Media File" by the end of July. See you then!

Genocide Studies Media File
May 14-24, 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

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


"Forgotten Women Turn Kabul into Widows' Capital"
By Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
The Independent, 17 May 2007
"There are two million war widows in Afghanistan, and their plight is easy to forget in Hamid Karzai's capital, where Western-style shopping malls, bars and French restaurants are opening up for wealthy foreign aid workers and Afghan expatriates. Every morning Gul, who was widowed when an American bomb hit her house in 2001, leaves her two daughters to go begging on the streets of Kabul. 'If I'm lucky, I'll make about 50 afghanis (80p), enough to buy two pieces of bread,' she says. Kabul, it is said, is the widows' capital of the world. As many as 50,000 women like Gul live in the city, and many make their home in the abandoned buildings that dot the suburbs, often living in horrific conditions. In a nation with a fractured infrastructure and, at £125 a year, one of the lowest per-capita incomes in the world, many widows are left without relatives able to take them in or offer even modest financial support. Gul's blue burqa at least affords her some dignity. 'The men hurl abuse at me, they make indecent gestures and I'm always being harassed, but at least they cannot see me,' she says. There is no social security system in Afghanistan. Widows are not provided pensions or housing so there is no safety net for them to fall back on. In other Muslim countries, getting remarried can resolve the economic problems of widows. But in Afghanistan's that is not so. Most Afghan men do not want to bring up children from a previous marriage. 'They are fiercely protective of their wives and the mere thought of them being married before is an insult to their honour,' says Maria Akrami, a social worker who runs a small NGO in Kabul. [...]"


"Abbbott Heckled at Stolen Generation Forum"
By Sarah Wiley, 24 May 2007
"Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott has been heckled by an audience at a forum for the 10th anniversary of the report on the Stolen Generation. The 1997 report into the separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families accused governments of genocide and called for an apology and compensation. Members of the audience disrupted the Health Minister's speech at Parliament House in Canberra, calling for the government to say sorry. Mr. Abbott continued with his speech amid heckling and groans from the audience. Earlier, Lowitja O'Donoghue, co-patron of the Stolen Generation Alliance, criticised Prime Minister John Howard's attitude to the Stolen Generation. 'The Prime Minister either doesn't get it, or he doesn't care, and I am not sure which is worse,' Professor O'Donoghue told the forum. Indigenous people were dying of despair, while those in power looked the other way. 'It is for this reason that I have no expectation of an apology from our current Prime Minister,' she said. 'Every state government has taken this important step, and said sorry. But at a federal level, rebuilding relationships is not the name of the game.' Mr. Abbott said later that while he could understand why Prof O'Donoghue wanted a government apology, the debate had moved on. 'The important thing for reconciliation is what happens in the hearts of individual people,' he said. ... 'I'd rather focus on the good things that are happening and the good that has been done than go over old ground.' The Government has announced 22 more staff will be employed for services to help members of the Stolen Generation find their families."


"ICC Begins CAR Mass Rape Inquiry"
By Katy Glassborow
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 22 May 2007
"Prosecutors from the International Criminal Court, ICC, have launched an investigation into mass rape and killings in the Central African Republic, CAR, which took place during fighting between government and rebel forces in 2002 and 2003, following a failed coup. Launching the inquiry on May 22, the chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said the conflict appears to have featured a pattern of mass rapes and sexual violence committed against civilians by armed fighters. The CAR government referred the situation to ICC prosecutors in December 2004, providing investigators and lawyers with information relating to the crimes, together with evidence collected for prosecutions in national courts. In 2005, prosecutors sent a team to Bangui, the CAR capital, and found that the Cour de Cassation -- the country's highest judicial body -- was unable to carry out necessary proceedings to investigate and prosecute crimes. The ICC can only intervene if national justice systems are 'unwilling or unable' to deal with cases domestically, and prosecutors concluded that the CAR authorities were unable even to 'collect evidence and obtain the accused.' ... Following criticism that crimes of sexual violence have not featured heavily in arrest warrants for suspects from Uganda, the DR Congo and Darfur -- the other areas the ICC is involved in -- prosecutors stressed that sexual crimes far outnumber killings in CAR. ... Reports used by ICC prosecution investigators indicate that rape has been committed against innocent elderly women, young girls and men, often featuring 'aggravating aspects of cruelty,' such as multiple perpetrators and the forced participation of family members. 'These victims are calling for justice,' said Moreno-Ocampo. [...]"


"Paramilitary Ties to Elite In Colombia Are Detailed"
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, 22 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"Top paramilitary commanders have in recent days confirmed what human rights groups and others have long alleged: Some of Colombia's most influential political, military and business figures helped build a powerful anti-guerrilla movement that operated with impunity, killed civilians and shipped cocaine to U.S. cities. The commanders have named army generals, entrepreneurs, foreign companies and politicians who not only bankrolled paramilitary operations but also worked hand in hand with fighters to carry them out. In accounts that are at odds with those of the government, the commanders have said their organization, rather than simply sprouting up to fill a void in lawless regions of the country, had been systematically built with the help of bigger forces. 'Paramilitarism was state policy,' Salvatore Mancuso, a top paramilitary commander, said last week at a hearing in this city's Palace of Justice. 'I am proof positive of state paramilitarism in Colombia.' In a scandal that began to gain momentum last fall, investigators have revealed dozens of cases of government collaboration with paramilitary groups. But Mancuso's testimony, buttressed with remarks made in a jailhouse interview by another top paramilitary commander, represents the first time that major players in the scandal have described in detail how the establishment joined forces with them. Dozens of other top commanders are scheduled to testify before special judicial hearings in the coming days and weeks. Their testimony could help uncover the roots of the violence and drug trafficking that have plagued this country and commanded significant aid from Washington. [...]"

"Death-Squad Scandal Circles Closer to Colombia's President"
By Simon Romero
The New York Times, 16 May 2007
"President Álvaro Uribe, the Bush administration's closest ally in Latin America, faces an intensifying scandal after a jailed former commander of paramilitary death squads testified Tuesday that Mr. Uribe's defense minister had tried to plot with the outlawed private militias to upset the rule of a former president. The revelations threaten the government of President Álvaro Uribe, who is trying to improve trade ties with the United States. Speaking at a closed court hearing in Medellín, Salvatore Mancuso, the former paramilitary warlord, said Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos had met with paramilitary leaders in the mid-1990s to discuss efforts to destabilize the president at the time, Ernesto Samper, according to judicial officials. Mr. Mancuso also said that Vice President Francisco Santos had met with paramilitary leaders in 1997 to discuss taking their operations to the capital, Bogotá. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry said the minister would not comment. The spokesman said a meeting did take place in which Mr. Santos, the defense minister, discussed an effort to reach a peace plan between two guerrilla groups and the paramilitaries. The vice president, who was traveling outside the country, was not immediately available for comment. Mr. Uribe went on national television on Tuesday night, but did not address the allegations. These revelations followed the disclosure this week of an illegal domestic spying program by the national police force and additional arrests of high-ranking political allies of Mr. Uribe on charges of ties to the paramilitaries. [...]"

"Colombian Lawmakers Arrested"
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, 15 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Colombian Supreme Court on Monday ordered the arrest of five more congressmen for alleged links with illegal paramilitary groups, bringing to 14 the number of lawmakers charged in the widening 'para-politics' scandal that has shaken this Andean country and its conservative government. Four of the five have been taken into custody. The attorney general's office also ordered the arrest of six former members of Congress, including Eleonora Pineda, who is well-known for her open friendship with paramilitary commanders. Authorities have accused the lawmakers -- as well as several local officials -- of meeting with paramilitary commanders in 2001 in Santa Fe de Ralito, a town the government had set aside as a haven for negotiations with paramilitary groups, and of signing a document in which they pledged to 'refound the fatherland' and 'build a new Colombia.' ... The arrests are sure to further tarnish Uribe's government. Although the president remains popular, he has seen one ally in Congress after another arrested or linked to paramilitary groups. ... The para-political scandal, meanwhile, has expanded to a point that an opposition congressman alleged in a hearing last month that paramilitary members met at Uribe's ranch in the late 1980s. The Supreme Court is also collecting evidence to establish whether the president's cousin, Sen. Mario Uribe, had met with paramilitary commanders to plot land-grabs; the senator denied any such links in a recent interview. [...]"


"Is Croatia's Judiciary Ready for Its Big Challenge?"
By Lisa Clifford
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 18 May 2007
"All eyes will be on Zagreb County Court next month when the first case transferred to the Croatian judiciary by the Hague tribunal comes to trial. Croatian generals Rahim Ademi and Mirko Norac are charged with war crimes allegedly committed against Serbs in 1993. Their trial is expected to generate great interest at home but also in Brussels where EU accession officials will be looking on with keen interest when the case begins on June 18. The judiciary has been Croatia's biggest obstacle to its hopes to join the union in 2009, and observers say a well-run trial could demonstrate that legal reforms have firmly taken hold. Ademi and Norac are indicted for persecutions on political, racial and religious grounds; murder; plunder of public or private property; and wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages. The charges against them relate to an attack on Serb civilians in the so-called Medak Pocket, south of the city of Gospic in Croatia. Ademi was acting commander of the Gospic military district and Norac was commander of the 9th Guards Motorised Brigade of the Croatian army during the military operation in the area. At the time, it was part of the Republika Srpska Krajina, a self-proclaimed Serbian entity in Croatia. The indictment says the Medak Pocket was wiped out during the September 9-17 attack by Croat forces and the population of 400 Serbs forced to flee. Many Serbs were killed or wounded and their property stolen. According to the indictment, Ademi and Norac, 'planned, instigated, ordered, committed or otherwise aided and abetted in the planning, preparation or execution of persecutions of Serb civilians of the Medak Pocket on racial, political or religious grounds.' That includes the unlawful killing of Serb civilians and captured and wounded soldiers; cruel and inhumane treatment of local people, including stabbing, cutting of fingers, severe beatings with rifle butts, burning with cigarettes and mutilation. [...]"


"The Dreams of Others"
By Slavoj Zizek
In These Times, 18 May 2007
"[...] Like so many other films depicting the harshness of Communist regimes, The Lives of Others misses their true horror. How so? First, what sets the film's plot in motion is the corrupt minister of culture, who wants to get rid of the top German Democratic Republic (GDR) playwright, Georg Dreyman, so he can pursue unimpeded an affair with Dreyman's partner, the actress Christa-Maria. In this way, the horror that was inscribed into the very structure of the East German system is relegated to a mere personal whim. What's lost is that the system would be no less terrifying without the minister's personal corruption, even if it were run by only dedicated and 'honest' bureaucrats. Equally troublesome is the film's portrayal of Dreyman. He is idealized in the opposite direction -- a great writer, both honest and sincerely dedicated to the Communist system, who is personally close to the top regime figures. ... To ask some obvious questions: If he was such an honest and powerful writer, how come he did not get into trouble with the regime much earlier? Why wasn't he considered at least a little bit problematic by the regime, with his excesses tolerated because of his international fame, as was the case with famous GDR authors like Bertolt Brecht, Heiner Muller and Christa Wolf? ... We are still waiting for a film that would provide a complete description of the GDR terror, a film that would do for the Stasi what Varlam Shalamov, in his unsurpassed Kolyma Tales, did for the Gulag."


"Haitian Ex-Paramilitary Leader to Stand Trial"
Reuters dispatch, 22 May 2007
"A Haitian former paramilitary leader accused of rape and murder in Haiti will stand trial in New York for mortgage fraud, a state judge ruled on Tuesday after a human rights group argued he could escape justice if he were to return to Haiti. Emmanuel 'Toto' Constant, 50, was to have served a reduced prison term in return for pleading guilty in February to fraud and grand larceny. But State Supreme Court Judge Abraham Gerges rejected that plea agreement based on detailed information he recently received regarding Constant's leadership role in the Front for the Advancement and Progress of Haiti, known as FRAPH. 'These allegations, if true, are heinous, and the court cannot in good conscience consent to the previously negotiated sentence,' the judge said in a written ruling. ;The court also cannot consent to time served, as that would be a travesty.' The judge set a trial date of September 24. If convicted, Constant faces a maximum of 15 years in prison. The Center for Constitutional Rights told the judge by letter that Constant should not be deported but instead serve a full sentence for economic crimes in New York because it was likely Constant 'could evade justice in his home country; for human rights violations. The legal rights group said the ex-death squad leader of FRAPH, which formed to undermine former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, fled to New York in 1994 soon after Aristide returned to power and issued his arrest warrant. The group said Constant was a former paid CIA informant and had directly conspired in the assassination of Aristide's Minister of Justice, Guy Malary, but had been allowed to stay in the United States."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Documents From Vast Nazi Archive To Be Made Available to Scholars"
By Mark Landler
The New York Times, 16 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"Electronic copies of documents from a closely guarded Nazi archive will start flowing to several countries for the first time since World War II, following an agreement announced Tuesday by the 11 countries that govern the archive in central Germany. The decision could speed access by historians to a vast repository of material -- most mundane, some revelatory -- about 17.5 million people who passed through concentration camps or were otherwise victimized during and immediately after the Nazi period. The archive has long restricted access to the documents to Holocaust victims' family members, frustrating scholars who complained they were being deprived of access to a vital historical record. 'It is a very important decision for us because it means we can begin sending out copies of our documents as soon as we have the technical capability,' said Iris Möker, a spokeswoman for the International Tracing Service, which runs the archive in Bad Arolsen. The decision, reached at a meeting of diplomats in Amsterdam, carried an important caveat: the institutions that receive the documents, among them the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, cannot offer unfettered access until all 11 countries ratify amendments to a treaty, adopted last year, that will open the archives. France, Italy, Luxembourg and Greece have not yet ratified the treaty. Luxembourg has indicated that ratification is imminent, while the other three nations have not raised any fresh hurdles, according to people who attended the two-day meeting. 'My optimism is that the governments have authorized the digital transfer of the documents,' said Paul Shapiro, the director of advanced Holocaust studies at the museum in Washington, who lobbied the diplomats. 'That would not have happened if they didn't intend to ratify.' Mr. Shapiro added, however, that he could not rule out further delays in what he called a 'long and quite excruciating process.' [...]"


"Rwanda: France Financed Genocide, German Tells Mucyo"
By F. Kimenyi and R. Mukombozi
The New Times (Kigali) (on, 23 May 2007
"A financial expert has told the Mucyo commission that the French government used French pensioners' money to secretly finance the 1994 Rwanda Genocide. Martin Marschner, a private insurance broker told the seven-man panel of commissioners that the Paris establishment diverted social security funds into procurement of arms that were sent to Rwanda. 'I became aware of what was taking place on January 12, 1994, when I found out that at least one billion French francs (about Frw 108.75 billion) of my clients' money had disappeared mysteriously,' he alleged. The German-born was testifying to the commission on Monday at Telecom House in Kacyiru on Monday. The panel is charged with gathering and documenting evidence depicting the role of France in the Genocide which claimed the lives of an estimated one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. After thorough investigations into the matter, alleged Marschner, it emerged that the funds had been spent on the purchase of fire arms that were being exported to Kigali. He also disclosed that the huge sum, which was deposited in Caisse Centrale De Reassurances, a body managing French insurance institutions, was channeled through its financing department known as Rochefort Finances. As an independent insurance broker using the same institution, Marschner said he later realised that the money amounting to Frw 1bn, including deposits of his own clients had disappeared without a clear accountability between January and August of 1994. ... In his 750-page report which he presented to the commission, Marschner highlighted that the separate accounts used by the French government to finance the flow of arms into Rwanda during the Genocide clearly indicates a syndicated move involving illegal weapons payment and delivery. 'They (French) were also aware that the deal was illegal; that is why they had to use secret accounts managed exclusively in Paris,' he said, adding that the syndicate involved high-ranking French officials in the ministry of finance. [...]"


"War Fears in Kosovo as Moscow Veto Looms"
The Observer, 20 May 2007
"[...] A crisis eight years in the making is unfolding with a giddy inevitability. For while the fighting in Kosovo stopped in 1999, the conflict itself, as diplomats here acknowledge, has never really ended. All that has been held in check has been forced to the surface again. For Kosovo's Albanians, fired up by the repeated promises of their political leaders, there is the prospect that independence may be only weeks away. It is a prospect that has forced Serbs to confront the fact that it may now likely require some act of partition on their part, a gesture that risks retaliation and expulsion of the most vulnerable Serb pockets. Suddenly all is to play for. 'During these past years we have made Kosovo. It is done,' insists Kosovo's Prime Minister, Agim Ceku, former chief of staff of the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army. 'We have built functioning institutions. We have built our vision for the future. The worst case scenario now is a lack of clarity, an ambiguity.' 'If you ask me what I think the risks of partition are at the moment,' says Naim Rashiti of the International Crisis Group, which issued a report last week warning of the risk of violence if the Ahtisaari plan was abandoned, 'I would say 50-50. And I am worried that, if there is partition, it has the potential to be very dirty, precisely because no one has any plan B.' [...]"

"Radical Serbia Speaker Steps Down"
BBC Online, 13 May 2007
"The nationalist speaker of Serbia's parliament has stepped down after just five days in the job. Tomislav Nikolic's removal was a condition of a deal reached on Friday between the country's two main parties, who hope to form a coalition. Serbia's parliament can now vote on the new coalition cabinet, which should receive formal approval on Tuesday. The coalition partners must form government by 15 May, nearly four months after parliamentary elections. Western governments had expressed serious concern at Mr. Nikolic's election to Serbia's third most powerful position and feared the country may be abandoning its road to reform. In an emotional resignation speech in parliament, Mr Nikolic warned the new government that if it 'peacefully accepts' independence for Kosovo, his nationalist Radical Party would not 'sit calmly and wait.' 'I resign from the post ... but be sure that I will watch closely what your new government will do,' he said. Mr. Nikolic has previously called for military intervention in Kosovo if it splits from Serbia. [...]"


"UN Official Wants Inquiry into Somali 'War Crimes'"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 15 May 2007
"A senior United Nations official has called for an investigation into allegations of war crimes in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, following weeks of fighting that has left more than 1,600 people dead and caused hundreds of thousands to flee. Sir John Holmes, the UN's emergency relief co-ordinator, who visited Mogadishu on Saturday, said there was 'clearly a need' for an investigation by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour. Ethiopian tanks and helicopters bombarded Mogadishu residential districts during weeks of fighting in March and April as Somalia's Ethiopian-backed interim government attempted to pacify an insurgency. Civilians were caught in the crossfire of what the Red Cross described as the worst fighting in the capital for 15 years. Human rights groups and regional analysts have accused the government and the Ethiopian forces of committing war crimes. Sir John said Somalia's interim President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, and interim Prime Minister, Ali Mohamed Gedi, had agreed there should be an investigation. 'They accepted it very clearly,' he said. Jose Diaz, a spokesman for Ms. Arbour, confirmed that the UN was ready to send a team of human rights investigators to Mogadishu. 'It is good to hear that this is the government's position. It needs urgent attention,' he said. Up to 400,000 people have fled the capital since the insurgency began at the end of January. A further 300,000 are believed to be displaced within the city. The fighting has made it difficult for aid agencies to reach those in need and the majority of those who fled Mogadishu are still without any humanitarian assistance. Some Somali businessmen have sought to take advantage of the situation. In some areas, the price of water has risen by 2,000 per cent, while in others a 'shade tax' has been introduced, charging women and children to sit under a tree. [...]"


"Crisis Appeal for Darfur Region"
BBC Online, 24 May 2007
"UK charities have launched an emergency appeal to save lives in Sudan's Darfur region and neighbouring countries. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) says 4.5m people are affected by the conflict in the region while looming rain threatens to bring further misery. Hundreds of thousands have been living in camps for up to four years. DEC head Brendan Gormley said: 'We are seeing one of the greatest concentrations of human suffering right now in Darfur and Chad.' Some 200,000 people have died in Darfur since a rebellion began in 2003. Pro-government Arab militias have been accused of widespread atrocities, such as mass killings, rape and looting black African villages. The DEC, which represents 13 aid agencies, says the start of the rainy season brings the risk of conditions such as diarrhoea and malaria which threaten children, pregnant women and the elderly in particular. It says malnutrition levels are already rising in some areas and "vital help" is needed to respond to a rapidly-growing crisis. The DEC said aid agencies also needed to bolster life-saving food and medicines before the rains hit anytime in the next four weeks. [...]"

"China Tries to Head Off a 'Genocide Olympics': Frederick Kempe"
By Frederick Kempe, 23 May 2007
"When I Googled the words 'China, Olympics, and Genocide,' I came up with some 774,000 hits -- and that was just in English. This focus on China, host of the 2008 Summer Olympics, has prompted the country to begin pressing Sudan to end a war that has led to 400,000 deaths in the Darfur region since 2003. China is Sudan's biggest trade partner. ... It looks like China is beginning to realize that with great power comes great responsibility. Less generously put, growing external pressure on issues ranging from Sudan to economic policies are forcing China to understand what the U.S. has known for a long time: Global leadership brings increased international scrutiny. ... China's policy is shifting under the pressure of global-rights campaigners who are threatening to redub the 2008 Games in Beijing, which have been advancing under the slogan 'One World, One Dream,' as the 'Genocide Olympics.' One of the most important of the activists, Eric Reeves of Smith College, concluded long ago that only China -- as a United Nations Security Council member and Sudan's biggest economic and diplomatic partner -- could stop the killing. He and others reckoned that classic diplomacy offered little leverage compared with the threat of lumping Beijing's Olympics together with the Nazi-stained Games of 1936. Sounds like a stretch? Not to actress Mia Farrow and her son Ronan, who wrote a critical op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal in late March. That turned up the heat on China as well as their Hollywood neighbor Steven Spielberg, who has visited China in preparation for helping to stage the Olympic ceremonies. 'Is Mr. Spielberg, who in 1994 founded the Shoah Foundation to record the testimony of survivors of the Holocaust, aware that China is bankrolling Darfur's genocide,' the Farrows wrote. It's hard to know what role this campaign had in China's changed approach to Sudan, but change it has. 'We have an increasingly cooperative relationship with China on Darfur,' said Jan Eliasson, the UN special envoy to Darfur, at the Atlantic Council in Washington last week. 'There is a certain unease among the Chinese that they in the past were seen as stopping action in Darfur. And I don't think they want to be placed in that position again.' [...]"

"Chinese Official Decries Attempts to Link Darfur, Olympics"
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, 19 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"China's new foreign minister on Friday denounced U.S. and European efforts to link the Beijing Olympics with Chinese policy in Darfur, saying they run counter to the Olympic spirit. The comments, from Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, underscored China's determination to prevent anything from spoiling the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, which are viewed by the public and government as an international endorsement of China's rising status and its effort to cultivate friendly relations with countries around the world. 'There is a handful of people who are trying to politicize the Olympic Games,' Yang told reporters after meeting with the visiting British foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett. 'This is against the spirit of the Games. It also runs counter to the aspirations of all the people in the world, and so their aims will never be achieved.' A group of 108 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Chinese government last week warning that the Beijing Olympics could be endangered if China did not change its policies in Sudan. The Bush administration, while praising China for recent steps, has long complained that Beijing is not doing enough to pressure the Sudanese government to accept a full U.N. peacekeeping force in the embattled Darfur region. In addition, some U.S. entertainment figures have raised the threat of an Olympic boycott unless China moves more forcefully to use its influence in Khartoum, with which it has deep economic and military ties. [...]"

"China Up Against the Wall"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 15 May 2007
"[...] As the organizing effort compelling China to get its partner Sudan to end the genocide takes shape, I will be alerting those of you who want to get involved. Already, there is a grassroots, staffed operation that can provide a range of information: Olympic Dream for Darfur ( Its companion website is The leader of Olympic Dream for Darfur is Jill Savitt, formerly with Human Rights First. Senior adviser to the project is Smith College's Reeves, who has done more than anyone I know to keep a meticulously accurate record—and analysis—of Sudan's multiple crimes against humanity. His website is worth looking at regularly, including its 'Genocide Olympics' pages: Olympic Dream for Darfur is not a boycott operation. Its focus is on organizing activities to put persistent pressure on China to force Sudan to end the mass murders and mass rapes. Among such actions, with more to come, are international teach-ins, rallies, vigils, and counter Olympic relays in a series of countries to vividly call attention to China's complicity in genocide. That's for openers. Also coming, Savitt tells me, 'will be other creative actions that people can dream up.' I've told her that I expect that many of those contacting Olympic Dream for Darfur will also—on their own—get involved in boycotts of the Summer Olympics and of its corporate sponsors. Unlike Eric Reeves and his colleagues, I am not opposed to boycotts of the Olympics or the corporate sponsors of the games. But all I can do is write. Jill Savitt, Eric Reeves, and all the others involved in Olympic Dream for Darfur are not just writing and talking—they are doing something, and I hope you will keep in contact with them. And if you intend to visit the Summer Olympics, don't just sit there. [...]"


"Why There's Little Coverage of the Andijan Massacre in Uzbekistan"
By Michael J. Jordan
The Christian Science Monitor, 15 May 2007
"Two years ago this week, Uzbekistan's security forces opened fire on antigovernment demonstrators in the city of Andijan, killing 187 people. That's the official number. The actual figure was likely hundreds more, say most observers. With the anniversary of the 'Andijan massacre,' one would expect Western journalists to flood into this ex-Soviet republic. They would be expected to write stories about how a predominantly Muslim nation in Central Asia that Washington had enlisted in its 'War on Terror' had since clamped down on dissent. They would likely note that Freedom House, the pro-democracy watchdog based in Washington, now ranks Uzbekistan as among "the worst of the worst" abusers of human rights and civil liberties in the world. Instead, Uzbek President Islam Karimov has effectively gagged the media. Besides persecuting independent local journalists and blocking critical news websites, Tashkent has barred entry to most foreign correspondents. 'It's easily explained: [Mr.] Karimov doesn't want any foreign witness to what's going on,' says Elsa Vidal, head of the Europe desk for the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. Yet, Uzbeks are puzzled -- and upset -- by this lack of foreign coverage. Revealing the depth of their isolation, one Uzbek journalist asked me at a recent videoconference to mark World Press Freedom Day, 'Why are no foreign journalists in Uzbekistan? Not interested?' [...]"


"Why Africa Won't Rein in Mugabe"
By Scott Baldauf
The Christian Science Monitor, 16 May 2007
"When African leaders nominated Zimbabwe -- a country with 2,200 percent inflation, looming famine, and authoritarian tendencies -- to chair the UN Commission for Sustainable Development this past week, they may have been sending the world a message. By giving Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe the yearlong chairmanship, Africa has signaled defiance of the West, which has attemptedto isolate Zimbabwe for alleged human rights abuses and economic mismanagement. Many African nations have grown increasingly frustrated by the development policies of Western donors that they see as intrusive and harsh. When Australia cancels a cricket tour to Zimbabwe, as it did this week, or when the European Union refuses to hold an EU-Africa summit, as it has for the past six years, because of Mr. Mugabe, many Africans see the pressure as neocolonial habits that must be broken. For many across the continent, Mugabe's muscular land confiscation from white farmers and talk of social justice still have appeal. ... While most African leaders recognize that following Zimbabwe's anti-Western stance would be an act of economic suicide, Mr. Kagwanja says that Africa is throwing its support behind Zimbabwe to show its disinclination to be pushed around by the powerful West. ... For the West, Zimbabwe is a pariah nation. British newspapers regularly refer to Mugabe as 'Mad Bob,' and Australia said Monday it would spend $15 million backing Mugabe's critics, just a day after banning the cricket tour. But for many in Africa, Mugabe is something of a hero. He's seen as a man who took land away from whites whose ancestors swindled or stole the land from blacks nearly a century ago. [...]"


"Cluster Bombs Cause Decades of Harm, Says Study"
By Richard Norton-Taylor
The Guardian, 17 May 2007
"Millions of people will be endangered by up to 132m cluster bomblets that have not yet exploded, causing lasting economic and social harm to communities in more than 20 countries for decades to come, a leading charity warned yesterday. Handicap International studied data from nine countries most heavily affected by the weapon and found that about 440m cluster bomblets had been dropped there since 1965. Based on failure rates of 5-30%, the group estimated that 22m-132m of the devices remain unexploded. The vast majority of cluster bomb casualties occur while victims are carrying on their daily lives, says the report, Circle of Impact: The Fatal Footprint of Cluster Munitions on People and Communities. The huge numbers turn 'homes and crucial social areas of the people living in affected countries into de facto minefields,' says the Brussels-based charity. 'As men and boys are the traditional earners and the majority of casualties, the economic loss for both the short term and the distant future cannot be underestimated.' In Afghanistan, boys between five and 14 who are tending animals are most likely to be casualties. In Laos, more than 1,000 people were killed by submunitions while weeding or sowing crops. In many cases people knowingly enter contaminated areas out of economic necessity, the report says. In southern Lebanon cluster munitions contaminate approximately 90% of the land used for farming. The contamination of essential land is reflected in the rise of cluster bomb casualties from two per year prior to 2006 to two per day in the months following last summer's conflict with Israel. In Iraq, the repeated use of cluster bombs has left a devastating legacy that continues to severely restrict the lives of its people, the charity reports. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed or injured by failed cluster munitions since the end of the 1991 Gulf war. Some 60% of the casualties have been children. [...]"
[n.b. For the full text of the Handicap International report, see I was personally not aware of the enormous disparity in the gender of victims, with men and boys standardly comprising 80 percent or more of the victims.]


"Nestlé 'Bypasses' Baby Milk Code"
By Joanna Moorehead
The Guardian, 15 May 2007
"Thirty years after a boycott of Nestlé products was launched to highlight its unethical marketing of baby formula in developing countries, baby formula manufacturers are still failing in their responsibilities towards the world's poorest mothers and babies, Save the Children claims today. It says around 1.4 million children die each year of illnesses such as diarrhoea that could have been prevented if they were being breastfed. But -- despite the dangers of mixing infant formula with dirty water and using unsterile bottles -- food companies continue to use aggressive marketing techniques to keep their share of a multi-million pound market. Since 1981, baby milk manufacturers have been bound by a World Health Organisation-ratified code which bans direct marketing to mothers and free samples, which can undermine successful breastfeeding. But, the report says, 'manufacturers are still flouting the code by heavily promoting manufactured baby milk and food.' A Guardian investigation in Bangladesh found widespread use of 'prescription pads,' where Nestlé reps give health workers tear-off pads, with pictures of their products, for them to pass on to mothers. Nestlé spokesman Robin Tickle said he did not believe the pads equated to promotion of the company's formula milks. The device was 'a safety measure,' to help mothers to be sure the milk they were buying was the right kind for their baby."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


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

"Pope Assails Marxism and Capitalism"
By Victor L. Simpson
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 13 May 2007
"[...] Touching on a sensitive historical episode, [Pope] Benedict said Latin American Indians had been 'silently longing' to become Christians when Spanish and Portuguese conquerors took over their native lands centuries ago. 'In effect, the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture,' he said. Many Indians, however, say the conquest of Latin America by Catholic Spaniards and Portuguese lead [sic] to misery, enslavement and death. [...]"

"Brazil's Indians Offended by Pope Comments"
By Raymond Colitt
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 14 May 2007
"Outraged Indian leaders in Brazil said on Monday they were offended by Pope Benedict's 'arrogant and disrespectful' comments that the Roman Catholic Church had purified them and a revival of their religions would be a backward step. In a speech to Latin American and Caribbean bishops at the end of a visit to Brazil, the Pope said the Church had not imposed itself on the indigenous peoples of the Americas. They had welcomed the arrival of European priests at the time of the conquest as they were 'silently longing' for Christianity, he said. Millions of tribal Indians are believed to have died as a result of European colonization backed by the Church since Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, through slaughter, disease or enslavement. Many Indians today struggle for survival, stripped of their traditional ways of life and excluded from society. 'It's arrogant and disrespectful to consider our cultural heritage secondary to theirs,' said Jecinaldo Satere Mawe, chief coordinator of the Amazon Indian group Coiab. Several Indian groups sent a letter to the Pope last week asking for his support in defending their ancestral lands and culture. They said the Indians had suffered a 'process of genocide' since the first European colonizers had arrived. Priests blessed conquistadors as they waged war on the indigenous peoples, although some later defended them and many today are the most vociferous allies of Indians. 'The state used the Church to do the dirty work in colonizing the Indians but they already asked forgiveness for that ... so is the Pope taking back the Church's word?' said Dionito Jose de Souza a leader of the Makuxi tribe in northern Roraima state. [...]"

"When Does Genocide Purify? Ask Pope Benedict"
By Adam Jones, 18 May 2007
"Pope Benedict XVI's recent trip to Brazil seems to have done little to shore up the Catholic Church's declining power in its Latin American heartland. It went a long way, however, towards confirming Benedict's reputation as a reactionary bigot. ... On the last day of his visit, in the city of Aparecida, the Pope 'touch[ed] on a sensitive historical episode,' in the blandly understated language of an Associated Press dispatch (May 13). In other words, he ripped the bandages off a still-suppurating wound. According to the official text of Benedict's comments on the Vatican website, the Pope declared that 'the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean' were 'silently longing' to receive Christ as their savior. He was 'the unknown God whom their ancestors were seeking, without realizing it ...' Colonization by Spain and Portugal was not a conquest, but rather an 'adoption' of the Indians through baptism, making their cultures "fruitful" and "purifying" them. Accordingly, 'the proclamation of Jesus and of his Gospel did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbian cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture.' So there we have it. The invasion and conquest of the Americas, which caused the deaths of upwards of 90 percent of the indigenous population, was something the Indians had been pining for all along. They weren't just 'asking for it,' as sexist cranks depict women as complicit in their own rapes. They were actually 'longing' for it, since salvation and 'purification' came with it. ... Benedict's astounding comments attracted barely a flicker of media attention in the West -- almost all of it on the wire services, and some of it problematic in itself. A May 13 Reuters dispatch noted blithely that, contrary to Benedict's claims, 'many Indian groups believe the conquest brought them enslavement and genocide.' This is rather like writing that 'many Jewish groups believe that the Nazi Holocaust brought Jews enslavement and genocide.' The reality exists independently of the belief. As blogger Stentor Danielson points out: 'In the real world, it's a basic historical fact that the Indians were enslaved. It's a basic historical fact that entire tribes were wiped out. The reason [that] "many Indian groups believe" these historical facts is because people like Reuters' craven reporters won't admit when there's a fact behind the claims.' [...]"

"Pope Recognizes Colonial Injustices"
By Tracy Wilkinson
The Los Angeles Times, 24 May 2007
"Confronted with continued anger in Latin America, Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday acknowledged that the Christian colonization of Indian populations was not as rosy as he portrayed in a major speech earlier this month in Brazil. The pope did not apologize, as some indigenous and Latin American leaders have demanded. However, he said it was impossible to ignore the dark 'shadows' and 'unjustified crimes' that accompanied the evangelization of the New World by Roman Catholic priests in the 15th and 16th centuries. 'It is not possible to forget the sufferings and injustices inflicted by the colonizers on the indigenous population, whose fundamental human rights were often trampled upon,' the pope said. 'Certainly, the memory of a glorious past cannot ignore the shadows that accompanied the work of evangelizing the Latin American continent.' Still, he said, recognizing the sins should not detract from the good achieved by the missionaries: 'Mentioning this must not prevent us from acknowledging with gratitude the marvelous work accomplished by the divine grace among these people in the course of these centuries,' he said. Benedict was addressing pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly public audience. Benedict made his first papal voyage to the Americas this month, visiting Brazil. In his final and most important speech of the five-day visit, he gave what many saw as a revisionist account of history. Indigenous populations, he said at the time, welcomed their European colonizers because they were 'secretly longing' for Christ 'without realizing it.' Conversion to Christianity 'did not at any point involve an alienation of the pre-Columbus cultures, nor was it the imposition of a foreign culture,' he said. The pope made no mention of forced conversions, epidemic illnesses, massacres, enslavement and other abuses that most historians agree accompanied colonization. Indigenous rights groups, plus the presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia, were incensed. [...]"


"Where Anti-Arab Prejudice and Oil Make the Difference"
By Roger Howard
The Guardian, 16 May 2007
"In a remote corner of Africa, millions of civilians have been slaughtered in a conflict fuelled by an almost genocidal ferocity that has no end in sight. Victims have been targeted because of their ethnicity and entire ethnic groups destroyed -- but the outside world has turned its back, doing little to save people from the wrath of the various government and rebel militias. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a depiction of the Sudanese province of Darfur, racked by four years of bitter fighting. But it describes the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has received a fraction of the media attention devoted to Darfur. The UN estimates that 3 million to 4 million Congolese have been killed, compared with the estimated 200,000 civilian deaths in Darfur. A peace deal agreed in December 2002 has never been adhered to, and atrocities have been particularly well documented in the province of Kivu -- carried out by paramilitary organisations with strong governmental links. In the last month alone, thousands of civilians have been killed in heavy fighting between rebel and government forces vying for control of an area north of Goma, and the UN reckons that another 50,000 have been made refugees. How curious, then, that so much more attention has been focused on Darfur than Congo. There are no pressure groups of any note that draw attention to the Congolese situation. In the media there is barely a word. The politicians are silent. Yet if ever there were a case for the outside world to intervene on humanitarian grounds alone -- 'liberal interventionism' -- then surely this is it. The key difference between the two situations lies in the racial and ethnic composition of the perceived victims and perpetrators. In Congo, black Africans are killing other black Africans in a way that is difficult for outsiders to identify with. The turmoil there can in that sense be regarded as a narrowly African affair. In Darfur the fighting is portrayed as a war between black Africans, rightly or wrongly regarded as the victims, and 'Arabs,' widely regarded as the perpetrators of the killings. In practice these neat racial categories are highly indistinct, but it is through such a prism that the conflict is generally viewed. It is not hard to imagine why some in the west have found this perception so alluring, for there are numerous people who want to portray 'the Arabs' in these terms. [...]"
[n.b. I'm not persuaded by this analysis. Those who are most dedicated to the Darfur cause -- student activists on university campuses around Norht America -- are the most cosmopolitan, least reflexively anti-Arab people on the continent. There is a reasonable point to be made about the lack of attention to Congo; but I do not think racism and political favoritism go very far to explain it.]


"Climate Change to Force Mass Migration"
By John Vidal
The Guardian, 14 May 2007
"A billion people -- one in seven people on Earth today -- could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects of climate change worsen an already serious migration crisis, a new report from Christian Aid predicts. The report, which is based on latest UN population and climate change figures, says conflict, large-scale development projects and widespread environmental deterioration will combine to make life unsupportable for hundreds of millions of people, mostly in the Sahara belt, south Asia and the Middle East. According to the development charity, the world faces its largest movement of people forced from their homes. 'Forced migration is now the most urgent threat facing poor nations,' said John Davison, the report's lead author. 'Climate change is the great, frightening unknown in this equation.' About 155 million people are known to be displaced now by conflict, natural disaster and development projects. This figure could be augmented by as many as 850 million, as more people are expected to be affected by water shortages, sea level crises, deteriorating pasture land, conflicts and famine, the report says. The authors admit that the figures are uncertain 'because there are no recent, authoritative global figures on the number of people who could be displaced by climate change.' 'But the lack of knowledge must not lead to a neglect of what can be done now to prevent displacement and to help people who are affected,' says the report, which says the best way to reduce people's vulnerability would be to reduce global poverty. [...]"


"Discrimination against Girls 'Still Deeply Entrenched'"
By Terri Judd and Harriet Griffey
The Independent, 15 May 2007
"Almost 100 million girls 'disappear' each year, killed in the womb or as babies, a study has revealed. The report, 'Because I am a Girl,' exposes the gender discrimination which remains deeply entrenched and widely tolerated across the world, including the fact that female foeticide is on the increase in countries where a male child remains more valued. The report highlights the fact that two million girls a year still suffer genital mutilation, half a million die during pregnancy -- the leading killer among 15 to 19-year-olds -- every 12 months and an estimated 7.3 million are living with HIV/Aids compared with 4.5 million young men. Almost a million girls fall victim to child traffickers each year compared with a quarter that number of boys. Of the 1.5 billion people living on less than 50p a day, 70 per cent are female, with 96 million young women aged 15 to 24 unable to read or write -- almost double the number for males. ... Statistics show that 62 million girls are not even receiving primary school education while an estimated 450 million have stunted growth because of childhood malnutrition. 'Why, in an era that saw the term "girl power" coined, are millions of girls being condemned to a life of inequality and poverty?' the report asks. Graça Machel, the children's rights campaigner from Mozambique, said: 'The study shows that our failure to make an equal, more just world has resulted in the most intolerable of situations. To discriminate on the basis of sex and gender is morally indefensible; it is economically, politically and socially unsupportable.'"
[n.b. At the same time as this report was released, international media were obsessing over the search for one English girl missing on holiday in Portugal. Will the media ever devote one day of such coverage to 100 million missing girls? Link to the the full text of the Plan International report.]


"US Treats World as 'Giant Battlefield,' Says Amnesty"
By Philippe Naughton
The Times, 23 May 2007
"Amnesty International launched a scathing attack on the United States today, accusing it of trampling on human rights, and using the world as 'a giant battlefield' in its War on Terror. The criticism came in Amnesty's 2007 worldwide report, in which the human rights watchdog complained of a return to the geopolitical polarisation of the Cold War era and said that the global agenda was being largely driven by fear. 'Human rights -- those global values, universal principles and common standards that are meant to unite us -- are being bartered away in the name of security,' wrote Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary-general, in a foreword to the report. 'Like the Cold War times, the agenda is being driven by fear -- instigated, encouraged and sustained by unpincipled leaders.' Amnesty said that President Bush had invoked the fear of terrorism to bolster his executive power after the attacks of September 11, 2001, 'without Congressional oversight or judicial scrutiny.' But he was not alone -- John Howard, the Australian Prime Minister, was accused of portraying asylum-seekers as a threat to national security to help secure his re-election. The Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, 'whipped up fear among his supporters and in the Arab world that the deployment of UN peacekeepers in Darfur would be a pretext for an Iraq-style, US-led invasion.' 'Meanwhile,' it added, 'his armed forces and militia allies continued to kill rape and plunder with impunity.' ... But it was Amnesty's criticisms of the United States - far stronger than those levelled against any other major Western democracy -- which will grab most attention. 'Unfettered discretionary executive power is being purused [sic] relentlessly by the US administration, which treats the world as one big battlefield for its "war on terror": kidnapping, arresting, detaining or torturing suspects either directly or with the help of countries as far apart as Pakistan and Gambia, Afghanistan and Jordan,' Ms. Khan said. ... Amnesty said that international investigations had shown that hundreds of people had been unlawfully transferred by the US and its allies to countries such as Syria, Jordan and Egypt -- out of the reach of legal protection. [...]"

"The Price of a Life"
By Tom Engelhardt
The Nation, 14 May 2007
"[...] Recently, through a Freedom of Information Act request, the ACLU pried loose some of the requests for compensation payments submitted by Iraqis and Afghans (and the military's decisions on them, including denials of payment). They make grim reading. Greg Mitchell of Editor & Publisher offered this description: 'What price (when we do pay) do we place on the life of a 9-year-old boy, shot by one of our soldiers who mistook his book bag for a bomb satchel? Would you believe $500? And when we shoot an Iraqi journalist on a bridge we shell out $2,500 to his widow -- but why not the measly $5,000 she had requested?' Back in 2005, Iraqi payments already seemed to average about $2,500 for a wrongful death. ... We don't know who exactly decided on the value in US dollars of the life of a 16-year-old Afghan girl, slaughtered while carrying a bundle of grass to her family farmhouse, or on the basis of what formula for pricing life the decision was made. We know a good deal more about how the US government evaluated the worth of the lives of slaughtered American innocents. For that, however, you have to think back to the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. The family or spouse of a loved one murdered on that day was also given a monetary value by the US government -- on average $1.8 million, thanks to the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, created by an act of Congress, signed into law by President Bush thirteen days after the attacks, and put into operation thanks to thirty-three months of careful, pro bono evaluation of the worth of an innocent American life by Special Master of the fund Kenneth Feinberg. ... So there we have it. ... The value of an innocent civilian slaughtered by Al Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001 to his or her family: $1.8 million. The value of an innocent civilian slaughtered at Haditha, Iraq, by US Marines: $2,500. The value of an innocent civilian slaughtered by US Marines near Jalalabad, Afghanistan: $2,000. Never say that the US government is incapable of putting a price on the deaths of innocents."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

NOW AVAILABLE: Men of the Global South: A Reader, edited by Adam Jones (Zed Books, 2006; 425 pp., US $29.99 pbk). "This impressive collection is a much-needed contribution to the visibility and understanding of diversity in the lives of men from the South" (Dr. Dubravka Zarkov, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague).

Genocide Studies Media File
May 5-13, 2007

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to

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


"Account of Armenian Genocide Wins Minnesota Book Award", n.d.
"An account of the Armenian genocide written by a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota won a Minnesota Book Award this weekend.
Taner Akcam (ak-SAM') was honored for writing 'A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility.' Judges called it a 'pioneering work' and 'scrupulous account of Turkish responsibility for the killing of close to one million Armenians.' They praised Akcam and his publisher, Metropolitan Books, for 'challenging the country's 90-plus-year denial of intentional genocide.' He dedicated his award for best general nonfiction book to his close friend -- a Turkish Armenian newspaper editor who was gunned down outside his office in Istanbul in January."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Aboriginal Bones Coming Home"
By Julia May
The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 May 2007
"The 20-year battle between Britain's Natural History Museum and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre has reached a surprising conclusion, signalling a shift in how human remains may be repatriated in the future. Greg Brown and Caroline Spotswood, from the Tasmanian centre, are due to leave London today with the remains of 17 Tasmanian Aborigines after reclaiming them from the museum yesterday. The museum, which had wanted to conduct scientific tests on the bones before they were returned, dropped this demand. But it emerged on Thursday that the two parties had agreed to share responsibility for DNA already taken from the remains by storing the material in Tasmania, pending further talks on its usage. Mr. Brown admitted that some people might be disappointed with this compromise that meant the DNA would not immediately be buried, but he said Tasmanian Aborigines had regained control of their heritage. 'We've been at a disadvantage because the museums ... held the remains. It's a shift in the power base; it's the principle of Aboriginal people having control and say over our own people, rather than the other way around.' The scientific director of the Natural History Museum, Richard Lane, praised the mediation process and said that this decision would set a precedent. 'I think it does change the arena; we're finding ways that we can balance the needs of the scientific community with the various Australian Aboriginal communities.' The negotiations have been watched closely by Oxford and Cambridge universities and the National Museums Scotland, which also hold Aboriginal remains. 'In considering repatriation requests on a case-by-case basis, we always take account of the wider context,' said Jane Ferguson, a spokeswoman for the Scottish museums. National Museums Scotland would be 'sympathetic towards repatriation if undertakings could be given by the Australian Government that the material would be made available for future research,' she said. [...]"


"Bosnian Serb Wins Genocide Appeal"
BBC Online, 9 May 2007
"UN appeals judges at The Hague have reversed the conviction of a Bosnian Serb army general for complicity in the 1995 Srebrenica genocide. Vidoje Blagojevic's jail sentence was reduced from 18 to 15 years. Other related convictions were upheld. The judges ruled he should have been acquitted because his original trial found he had not known of the massacre and only provided logistical support. Over 7,000 Muslims died in Srebrenica at the end of the 1992-1995 war. It is considered to be the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II and has been legally constituted genocide. Blagojevic commanded the Bratunac brigade of the Bosnian Serb army at the time. He was subordinate to Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, who in April 2004 became the first person to be found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The five-judge appeals panel at the ICTY ruled that Col. Blagojevic had not been complicit in the genocide at Srebrenica because he had not known his troops intended to commit it. 'On the basis of the foregoing, the appeals chamber ... reverses his conviction for complicity in genocide,' the presiding judge, Fausto Pocar, said. However, the court upheld Blagojevic's other convictions for aiding and abetting the persecutions, killings and forcible transfer of the Bosnian Muslim population of the Srebrenica enclave. His prison sentence was accordingly cut to 15 years. [...]"


"New Light on U.S. Air War in Cambodia"
By Taylor Owen and Ben Kiernan, 15 May 2007
"United States bombings in Afghanistan have 'given a propaganda windfall to the Taliban.' Is history repeating itself? In 1975, Pol Pot's genocidal Khmer Rouge forces took power in Cambodia after a massive U.S. bombing campaign there. New information reveals that Cambodia was bombed far more heavily during the Vietnam War than previously believed -- and that the bombing began not under Richard Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson. ... The still-incomplete database (it has several 'dark' periods) reveals that from October 4, 1965, to August 15, 1973, the United States dropped far more ordnance on Cambodia than was previously believed: 2,756,941 tons' worth, dropped in 230,516 sorties on 113,716 sites. Just over 10 percent of this bombing was indiscriminate, with 3,580 of the sites listed as having 'unknown' targets and another 8,238 sites having no target listed at all. Even if the latter may arguably be oversights, the former suggest explicit knowledge of indiscretion. The database also shows that the bombing began four years earlier than is widely believed -- not under Nixon, but under Lyndon Johnson. The impact of this bombing, the subject of much debate for the past three decades, is now clearer than ever. Civilian casualties in Cambodia drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency that had enjoyed relatively little support until the bombing began, setting in motion the expansion of the Vietnam War deeper into Cambodia, a coup d'etat in 1970, the rapid rise of the Khmer Rouge, and ultimately the Cambodian genocide. The data demonstrates that the way a country chooses to exit a conflict can have disastrous consequences. It therefore speaks to contemporary warfare as well, including U.S. operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite many differences, a critical similarity links the war in Iraq with the Cambodian conflict: an increasing reliance on air power to battle a heterogeneous, volatile insurgency. [...]"

"Ex-Khmer Rouge Leader Says Will Unveil New Secrets at Trial"
Kyodo News dispatch on Yahoo! Asia News, 11 May 2007
"Former Khmer Rouge leader Nuon Chea says he will unveil 'yet untold secrets' if he is summoned to appear at the planned Khmer Rouge tribunal. 'I have reserved some new secrets to be heard in a trial,' Nuon Chea said in an interview with Kyodo News at his home in the former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Pailin near the Thai border. When asked who were responsible for the genocide committed during the 1975-1979 Khmer Rouge regime, Nuon Chea, 80, mentioned enemies that the regime's leaders could not identify. 'There were many enemies,' he said, adding that a group of leaders of the United States and Vietnam were also responsible for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians. 'John Foster Dulles and Henry Kissinger of the United States, and Le Duan of Vietnam were also held accountable,' he said without elaborating. When pressed on his own accountability as one of the senior leaders in the regime, Nuon Chea said he was sad to learn of the mass killings and the existence of a torture prison. 'I express my apologies to the victims and relatives of the victims who have died in the regime,' he said. He also disputed the death toll of 1.7 million. 'How did they count on the victims? Many of the victims might have been killed during the wartime before Democratic Kampuchea came to power, while many others were killed when Vietnam came to our country in 1979 and in the time after,' he said. [...]"

"In Cambodia, a Clash over History of the Khmer Rouge"
By Erika Kinetz
The Washington Post, 8 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] Nearly three decades after the Khmer Rouge were overthrown, a battle over history is underway in Cambodia. On one side are forces eager to reckon with the past, both in school and at a special court set up to try the surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge. Many teachers, students and activist groups say more should be taught about the Khmer Rouge years, which is virtually absent from school curriculums now. Blunting these demands is a government whose top leaders were once associated with the now-defunct communist movement and who seem loath to cede control over such a politically sensitive chapter of Cambodian history. 'Suppose that ever since 1945, Germany had been ruled by former Nazis,' said Philip Short, author of 'Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare,' a biography of the Khmer Rouge leader published in 2004. 'Would the history of the Nazi regime be taught honestly in Germany today? This is now Cambodia's problem.' A new high school textbook about the era, the first written by a Cambodian, was recently published by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an independent institute in Phnom Penh that specializes in Khmer Rouge history. In 'A History of Democratic Kampuchea,' author Khamboly Dy, 26, spells out in 11 detailed chapters the rise, reign and fall of the Khmer Rouge, who called themselves the Communist Party of Kampuchea and the country, Democratic Kampuchea. A Cambodian government review panel deemed the book unsuitable for use in the regular curriculum. Instead, the panel said the book could be used as supplementary reference material and as a basis for the Ministry of Education to write its own textbook. 'It's a start. The door is open,' said Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center, which has been pushing to get a textbook into classrooms since 1999. [...]"


"China Orders Resettlement of Thousands of Tibetans"
By Tim Johnson, 6 May 2007
"In a massive campaign that recalls the socialist engineering of an earlier era, the Chinese government has relocated some 250,000 Tibetans -- nearly one-tenth of the population - from scattered rural hamlets to new 'socialist villages,' ordering them to build new housing largely at their own expense and without their consent. The government calls the year-old project the 'comfortable housing program,' and its stated aim is to present a more modern face for this ancient region, which China has controlled since 1950. It claims that the new housing on main roads, sometimes only a mile from previous homes, will enable small farmers and herders to have access to schools and jobs, as well as better health care and hygiene. But the broader aim seems to be remaking Tibet -- a region with its own culture, language and religious traditions -- in order to have firmer political control over its population. It comes as China prepares for an influx of millions of tourists in the run-up to next year's Summer Olympic Games. A vital element in the strategy is to displace a revered leader, the Dalai Lama, now 71, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for advocating resistance to the communist government. The government hopes to replace him after he dies with a state-appointed successor, and in the meantime it's opened the gates of Tibet to greater numbers of ethnic Han Chinese and tightened control of religious activity. It's pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into road-building and development projects in Tibet, boosting the economy, maintaining a large military presence and keeping close tabs on the citizenry through a vast security apparatus of cameras and informants on urban streets and in the monasteries. Some Tibetans, including farmers interviewed in the village of Zengshol, say they're happy to be in better quarters than their primitive, ancestral homes of mud brick. In other villages, Chinese escorts prevented a visiting reporter from speaking with residents. Other than a state media account that proclaimed that 'beaming smiles' were 'fixed on the faces of farmers and herders' as they built and moved into new housing in what it called 'socialist villages,' the Chinese news media have given almost no coverage to the forced relocation. [...]"


"Colombian Mothers Still Search for Their Missing Children"
El Tiempo (on, 7 May 2007
"Though alive, Rosalba Velásquez says she has died four times: once for each of her children who have disappeared. She has almost completed a decade looking for them in piles of bodies and police lists, but to no effect. Worse than the deaths, she maintains, is not being certain if they threw them into the river, to the vultures or dug up the grounds to bury them there. 'The last is the most possible,' she says, strong but embittered. ... The paramilitaries had taken away two of her children and told Rosalba not to ask of them. They were Jairo and Freddy, the second and third of her children, of 29 and 28 years. The last time their mother saw them was the dawn of 21 July 1997, 15 days after the burial of Guillermo, her eldest one, who had been assassinated by FARC guerrillas. It was the first time Rosalba thought she would die. She stayed strong but her husband could not deal with the grief. 'After the funeral of the eldest one, he sat down in the dining room, opened a bottle of brandy and kept drinking for 14 days till his blood stopped flowing,' says Rosalba. That was when death knocked at the door again, dressed in a poncho, a hat, hand in the belt. Rosalba opened the door, as always with a dry smile. 'Lady, call Freddy, we need him for some information,' said 'Poison,' a paramilitary boss, short and with green eyes. At that time the boy was sleeping. She managed to make out the man who they had brought in the backseat of the ramshackle van. It was Jairo, her other son. They accused him of being an informant of FARC. Rosalba panicked. She could not hear what he was saying behind the glass frosted with his breath but knew exactly what he was shouting: 'Mother, don't let them kill me.' ... What followed were long days of searching up in the mountains in the company of Wilmar, her remaining son. They asked here and there, in one town and another, but to no avail. 'It was as if they never existed.' Then came years of solitude. [...]"

"More Than 211 Bodies Found in Mass Graves in Colombia"
DPA dispatch on, 5 May 2007
"The bodies of at least 211 victims of right-wing paramilitaries were found Saturday in mass graves in southern Colombia. 'We are again shocked at how gruesome this war is,' said Interior Minister Carlos Holguin Saturday. The discovery of more bodies could be expected as excavation work on the graves in Putumayo province on the Ecuadorian and Peruvian borders had not been completed, he added. The tip-off about the mass graves had come from former
paramilitaries, who can expect milder sentences under a controversial law on justice and peace, if they confess to their crimes. Their confessions had brought several politicians and officials behind bars. The victims found in the mass graves were mainly farmers and all those whom the paramilitaries 'in their insatiable hunger for land to produce drugs had killed,' said Holguin. Since 1999, the paramilitaries have waged war with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) for control of the region. The paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) were founded in the 1980s by large landowners to protect them from left-wing rebels. In 2004, AUC commanders began peace negotiations with the government of President Alvaro Uribe. Meanwhile, more than 30,000 paramilitaries across the country have been disarmed. Almost immediately afterwards, many of them begin working for drug cartels or large landowners, experts say. Massacres of civilians still occur."


"Infant Mortality in Iraq Soars as Young Pay the Price for War"
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, 8 May 2007
"Two wars and a decade of sanctions have led to a huge rise in the mortality rate among young children in Iraq, leaving statistics that were once the envy of the Arab world now comparable with those of sub-Saharan Africa. A new report shows that in the years since 1990, Iraq has seen its child mortality rate soar by 125 per cent, the highest increase of any country in the world. Its rate of deaths of children under five now matches that of Mauritania. Jeff MacAskey, head of health for the Save the Children charity, which published the report, said: 'Iraq, Botswana and Zimbabwe all have different reasons for making the least amount of progress on child mortality. Whether it's the impact of war, HIV/Aids or poverty the consequences are equally devastating. Yet other countries such as Malawi and Nepal have shown that despite conflict and poverty child mortality rates can be reversed.' Figures collated by the charity show that in 1990 Iraq's mortality rate for under-fives was 50 per 1,000 live births. In 2005 it was 125. While many other countries have higher rates -- Angola, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, all have rates above 200 -- the increase in Iraq is higher than elsewhere. Egypt, Indonesia and Bangladesh have made the most progress in tackling child mortality, while Iraq, Botswana and Zimbawe have regressed the most. Sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime were imposed by the UN in 1990 after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and remained in place until after the coalition invasion in 2003. The sanctions, encouraged by the US as a means to topple Saddam, were some of the most comprehensive ever put in place and had a devastating effect on Iraq's infrastructure and health services. Precisely how many children died because of sanctions is unknown but a report in 1999 from the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), suggested that between 1991 and 1998 an additional 500,000 died. Denis Halliday, who resigned as the UN's humanitarian coordinator in protest at the sanctions, said at the time: 'We are in the process of destroying an entire society. It is as simple and terrifying as that. It is illegal and immoral.' [...]"

"Stoning to Death of Girl Provokes Wave of Killings"
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent, 7 May 2007
"[...] A 17-year-old girl called Doaa Aswad Dekhil from the town of Bashika in the northern province of Nineveh converted to Islam. She belonged to the Yazidi religion, a mixture of Islam, Judaism and Christianity as well as Zoroastrian and Gnostic beliefs. The 350,000-strong Kurdish-speaking Yazidi community is centred in the north and east of Mosul and has often faced persecution in the past, being denounced as 'devil worshippers.' On 7 April, Doaa returned home after she had converted to Islam in order to marry a Sunni Muslim who was also a Kurd. She had been told by a Sunni Muslim cleric that her family had forgiven her for her elopement and conversion. Instead she was met in Bashika by a large mob of 2,000 people led by members of her family. What happened next was captured in a mobile phone video. It shows a dark-haired girl dressed in a red track suit top and black underwear with blood streaming from her face. As she tries to rise to her feet she is kicked and hit on the head with a concrete block. Armed and uniformed police stand by watching her being killed over several minutes. Many in the crowd hold up their phone cameras to record the scene. Nobody tries to help her as she is battered to death. The savagery of the lynching led to threats of retaliation. This part of Nineveh, though outside the jurisdiction of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), is strongly under its influence. The murdered girl and her intended husband were Kurds. The KRG's President, Massoud Barzani, held meetings with Yazidi leaders. Kurdish officials in Mosul said at the time that they had the situation under control. The KRG is now calling for an investigation into what happened, though the central government in Baghdad has little authority in the north of the country. Retaliation when it came was savage. On 23 April a bus carrying back workers from a weaving factory in Mosul to Bashika, which has a Christian as well as a Yazidi population, was stopped by several cars filled with unidentified gunmen at about 2pm. They asked the Christians to get off the bus, according to the police account. They then took the bus to eastern Mosul city where they lined up the men, mostly elderly, against a wall and shot them to death. [...]"


"Key Meeting Weighs Opening of Nazi Archive"
Associated Press dispatch on, 13 May 2007
"As the Third Reich headed to defeat in World War II, the Germans burned millions of records to cover up history's worst genocide. But the fraction that survived was enough to make up the largest Nazi archive in existence. This week, efforts to lift the 52-year-old blanket of secrecy from this historical treasure are likely to take a big step forward. The 11-nation commission governing the International Tracing Service, an arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross, meets in Amsterdam Monday and Tuesday to decide when and how to make electronic copies of its files available to researchers. So far the archive of 30 million to 50 million pages in Bad Arolsen, Germany, has been used only to help reunite families and verify restitution claims. The files were closed in 1955 because it was feared that unfettered access could violate the privacy of Holocaust victims, both living and dead. But survivors have been pressing for direct access, unsatisfied with the formalistic and partial answers to questions about the persecution they suffered. So a year ago the commission decided to unlock the vast storehouse for research. As the survivor generation dwindles, the decision to digitally scan the documents and make them available will shift the archive's primary function from a humanitarian service to a historical resource. [...]"


"The Netherlands: Stiffer Sentence for Iraq Poison Gas"
By Marlise Simons
The New York Times, 10 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"An appeals court raised the 2005 prison sentence of a Dutch businessman, Frans van Anraat, to 17 years from 15 for selling chemicals to Saddam Hussein. The chemicals were used in poison gas weapons in the 1980s and against Kurdish villagers. Prosecutors had demanded a conviction for complicity in genocide, but the appeal judges rejected that, saying Mr. van Anraat was driven not by genocidal intent but by greed."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Airline Accused of Helping Nazis to Flee"
By David Charter
The Times, 8 May 2007
"The Dutch national airline is facing calls for an inquiry into its role in helping Nazis to flee to South America, after the discovery of documents suggesting that it played an active role in smuggling suspected war criminals out of Germany. KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, has always denied that it had a policy of assisting Nazis to escape justice at the hands of the Allies after the Second World War, when hundreds escaped to Argentina. But papers revealing the activities of a mysterious Herr Frick in trying to help Germans to cross into Switzerland then to fly to Buenos Aires have raised fresh questions about the behaviour of one of Europe's best-known airlines in the mid-1940s. 'The documents give the distinct impression that KLM was intensively involved in transporting Nazis,' said Marc Dierikx, an aviation historian at the Institute for Netherlands History in The Hague. Argentina provided sanctuary for many Germans fleeing war-torn Europe after the war. It was the refuge of senior Nazis such as Joseph Mengele, the doctor at Auschwitz nicknamed the Angel of Death, and Adolf Eichmann, who oversaw the death camps where millions perished. The existence of a shadowy network of Nazi sympathisers helping to organise the escape route was depicted in Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Odessa File. Suspected war criminals could not obtain official papers to leave Germany. But some adopted false identities, and KLM acknowledges that some of its passengers were probably fleeing Nazis. It insists, however, that its role was not to police its passengers but to carry those who turned up with valid papers who had completed airport security checks by the Allied authorities. [...]"


"U.N. Draft for Kosovo Independence Circulated"
By Colum Lynch
The Washington Post, 12 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"The United States and its European allies introduced Friday a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would end the United Nations' administration of Kosovo and pave the way to independence for Serbia's ethnic Albanian province. The move comes two months after U.N. envoy and former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari proposed that Kosovo be granted independence, and it set the stage for a political confrontation with Russia, which claims that only Serbia and Kosovo can determine their fate. The resolution, which stops short of explicitly endorsing Ahtisaari's call, transfers authority for Kosovo from the United Nations to the European Union, protected by NATO forces, as part of a phased transition to autonomy. U.S. and European officials say that continued negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo hold no prospect of success, and that any further delay in clarifying Kosovo's legal status and its relationship with Serbia could fuel a resumption of violence there. Britain, France, Germany and Italy have endorsed the text introduced Friday. 'With this draft resolution, the discussion on the future status of Kosovo now enters its final phase,' said France's U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de La Sabliere. Kosovo has been a U.N. protectorate since 1999, when NATO military forces launched a 78-day air war against Yugoslav troops engaged in ruthlessly driving more than 600,000 ethnic Albanians into exile. [...]"

"Serbian Alliance Blocks Radicals from Power"
By Mark Tran
The Guardian, 11 May 2007
"Serbia's pro-democratic parties have struck a deal to form a new government that would block the radical ultranationalists from power, Serbian media reported today. The agreement came as the US issued a blunt warning that Serbia's relations with the west would suffer if the rightwing Radical party came to power. The deal between the pro-western president, Boris Tadic, and the caretaker prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, includes the replacement of an ultranationalist as parliament speaker, the second most senior post in Serbia. Alarm bells went off in western capitals this week when the Radical party leader, Tomislav Nikolic, was elected as speaker. Mr Nikolic is a fan of Serbia's late president Slobodan Milosevic, whose disastrous policies led to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia. Agreement between Serbia's pro-democratic parties came four days before the expiry of a deadline for holding new elections, state television said. Serbia's political parties have been trying to form a government since January, when the Radical party won the most votes, but not enough to form a government. [...]"

"The Dark Shadows Hanging over Kosovo"
By Bronwen Maddox
The Times, 11 May 2007
"Kosovo is still controversial. The solution towards which the United Nations Security Council is edging is enormously risky even though it is the best available: encouraging the disputed province to declare independence from Serbia in the hope that the UN will then acknowledge its sovereignty. Most of Britain's fears, as its diplomats try to shepherd this plan through the council, have focused on Russia. On its own it could scupper the plan, and it may do so, out of old allegiance with Serbia, which claims sovereignty over the Albanian-majority province. Will Russia veto the plan in the council? Will awareness of its support fan violent resistance on the ground the minute that Kosovo expresses independence? Will the 100,000 Serbs in Kosovo be killed or flee? It is perfectly reasonable, with the 78 days of war in 1999 still so fresh, that these practical questions dominate efforts. But the questions of principle that South Africa, as a temporary member of the council, has raised are more troubling. It is afraid that independence for Kosovo would set a precedent for wiping out old state boundaries in favour of tribal divisions. It is right that this is an ugly answer to sectarian rifts -- ask Iraq. [...]"

"Serbia's New Human-Rights Role Questioned"
By Robert Marquand
The Christian Science Monitor, 11 May 2007
"Western resolve in dealing with virulent Serbian nationalism continues to rankle human rights groups and embarrass European leaders as Serbia -- which still harbors two war criminals charged with genocide in Bosnia -- Friday takes over the rotating presidency of the Council of Europe, a postwar body whose chief aim is to protect human rights and exemplify democratic principles. The ironies of Serbia taking a symbolic leadership role in the council are compounded by mounting worry in Washington and Europe about a rightward shift in Serbian politics following the election this week of a pro-Russian ultranationalist as parliament speaker. The shift could signal a new revanchism on the eve of a UN Security Council vote leading to the independence of the country's majority-Albanian province of Kosovo, the mythic heartland of Serbia's proud identity. Serbia is at a 'crossroads,' stated an EU commissioner, Olli Rehn, who described the election of Radical Party chief Tomislav Nikolic to Serbia's No. 2 spot as 'a worrying sign.' As president of the Council, Serbia runs the European Court of Human Rights, and will issue statements on rights violations, treatment of prisoners, and norms regarding freedom and democratic reform. Human rights groups protest Serbia's presidency, arguing that Belgrade is, at a minimum, out of compliance with standards like the 1948 Geneva Convention, since it knowingly harbors Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, charged with genocide in the Balkans in the 1990s. 'It's ludicrous,' says Quentin Hoare, director of the Bosnian Institute in London. 'I know the democratic forces in Serbia are small, and I'm all for Serbian integration into Europe. But to allow Serbia in without compliance with democratic norms -- is actually destabilizing.' [...]"

"Serb Militiamen Regroup over Kosovo"
By Jovana Gec
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 5 May 2007
"Hundreds of burly former militiamen from the Balkan wars regrouped outside a church in central Serbia on Saturday, promising to fight together as a paramilitary unit once more if Kosovo breaks away from the government in Belgrade. Twenty-seven people were detained, all wearing T-shirts with symbols of the disbanded Unit for Special Operations, whose former commander and several members are on trial for the 2003 assassination of Serbia's reformist Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic. 'We will never give up Kosovo, we are ready to fight,' said one of the organizers, Andrej Milic. Milic added their unit will be available to the government if Serbia goes to war, and called for a 'new Serb uprising and a new battle for Kosovo.' The event illustrated the mounting nationalism here over the Western-backed plan to allow Kosovo to split from Serbia as demanded by its ethnic Albanian majority. Many of those in Krusevac on Saturday wore military uniforms with nationalist symbols typical of the notorious units accused of atrocities during the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s. Some wore T-shirts with images of the U.N. war crimes fugitive Ratko Mladic. Kosovo is formally part of Serbia, but is dominated by ethnic Albanians who are seeking independence. The region has been run by the United Nations since a 1998-99 Serb-Albanian war. Talks on the formation of a new pro-Western government in Serbia, meanwhile, remain deadlocked, triggering a political crisis that could pave the way for the return to power of the nationalists loyal to ex-leader Slobodan Milosevic. The United States and its allies favor internationally supervised independence for the province, as proposed in the U.N. plan, but Russia opposes it, signaling a possible showdown at the U.N. Security Council, which will have the final say on the matter. Most Serbs consider Kosovo the heartland of their history and culture. The government in Belgrade has rejected the plan. [...]"


"How Investors Can Help Fight the Darfur Genocide"
By Kathy M. Kristof
The Los Angeles Times, 13 May 2007
"Adam Sterling wants individual investors to know that they are a powerful force -- and they can use that power to help stop genocide halfway across the world in the Sudanese region of Darfur. If American investors pull their money from companies that fund the Sudanese government, Sterling believes that government will be forced to curtail atrocities by its forces and allied militias in their fight against Darfur rebels. In four years of conflict, more than 200,000 villagers in the region have died and more than 2.5 million have fled their homes, the U.N. says. 'Divestment has been the one real action that the government of Sudan has responded to,' said Sterling, director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force in Washington. 'Genocide is expensive. The Sudanese government relies heavily on foreign investment to fund its miliary and the janjaweed militias.' In simple terms, divestment refers to getting rid of investments in companies and mutual funds that do business with an offending government. To be sure, no one individual investor is likely to have enough money invested in Sudanese firms -- or in companies doing business in Sudan -- to have an effect. But millions of investors acting in concert might. 'You are not just an individual doing your thing; you are part of a large group,' said Amy Domini, president of Domini Social Investments, a family of mutual funds intended to be socially responsible. 'People are finally beginning to realize that acting as part of a group can be really powerful.' ... The anti-Sudan movement is already well underway. Forty-two colleges and universities and eight states, including California, have started to sell their Sudan-related investments. An additional 17 states are considering doing so. The nonprofit Genocide Intervention Network is attempting to get individual investors on board to stoke up the heat on mutual fund companies. [...]"

"UN Accuses Sudan of 'Disproportionate' Attacks"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 11 May 2007
"The United Nations human rights chief on Friday said recent air raids by Sudanese forces on at least five Darfur villages appeared to be 'indiscriminate and disproportionate,' and violated international law. The attacks between April 19 and 29 have already been condemned by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, although Khartoum says they never took place. Making no reference to the Sudanese denial, the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said the attacks were reportedly carried out by helicopter gunships and Antonov aircraft. There were 'numerous civilian casualties and destruction of property,' with school children amongst the wounded, Arbour's spokesperson Jose Luis Diaz said in a statement. At least five villages near el-Fasher in North Darfur were targeted during 10 days of attacks, which had 'contributed to an already critical humanitarian situation.' 'The bombardments appear to have been indiscriminate and disproportionate,' and as such constituted 'violations of international humanitarian and human rights law,' Diaz added. Earlier this month, Ban called for an end to air raids by Sudanese forces, which he said had caused civilian deaths and destruction, although he gave few details at the time. But Sudan's ambassador to the UN, Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem, denied the reported attacks and said rumours were being spread by people out to torpedo peace talks with rebels. [...]"

"Spielberg Joins Hollywood Chorus on Darfur"
By Bob Tourtellotte
Reuters dispatch, 11 May 2007
"Director Steven Spielberg on Friday joined the chorus of Hollywood stars seeking an end to killing in the Darfur region of Sudan by calling on China to pressure the African nation into accepting U.N. peacekeepers. Spielberg, the Oscar-winning director of blockbuster films ranging from 'Jaws' to 'Schindler's List,' released a letter he sent to Chinese President Hu Jintao in April saying he recently came to understand China's strategic support of Sudan. The letter comes at a time when Beijing is preparing for the 2008 Olympic Games, and some groups and politicians around the world are urging a boycott due to China's economic ties to Sudan. In his letter, Spielberg notes he will play a role in the Olympic Games as an 'artistic advisor.' 'I add my voice to those who ask that China change its policy toward Sudan and pressure the Sudanese government to accept the entrance of United Nations peacekeepers to protect the victims of genocide in Darfur,' Spielberg wrote. He asked to meet with Hu, but so far the Chinese president has not responded, said Spielberg's spokesman, Marvin Levy. Levy said he was certain Hu received and read the letter. [...]"

"China Appoints Envoy for Darfur"
BBC Online, 10 May 2007
"China has appointed a special Africa envoy to focus on Darfur following criticism of its role in Sudan. The foreign ministry said Liu Giujin was ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa and is 'an experienced diplomat (who) knows African affairs well.' Earlier this week, China denied claims they supplied arms to Sudan for use in Darfur, in breach of a UN arms embargo. China has major oil interests in Sudan but is accused of blocking moves to end the appalling violence in Darfur. The United Nations says more than 200,000 have died in Darfur during the four-year conflict and at least 2m have been displaced and live in camps. More than 100 US congressmen have just sent a strongly worded letter to China's President Hu Jintao saying Beijing's 2008 Olympic Games could be affected if China fails to try to halt the bloodshed in Darfur. 'It would be a disaster for China if the Games were to be marred by protests, from concerned individuals and groups, who will undoubtedly link your government to the continued atrocities in Darfur, if there is no significant improvement in the conditions,' the letter said. 'Unless China does its part to ensure that the government of Sudan accepts the best and most reasonable path to peace, history will judge your government as having bank-rolled a genocide,' it said. [...]"

"Chinese to Deploy Soldiers to Darfur"
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, 9 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"China will send a military engineering unit to help strengthen the overtaxed African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, the Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday, following criticism that Beijing has not done enough to support peace efforts in the region. A spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, did not say how many Chinese soldiers would be dispatched or what their duties would be, describing them as 'multifunctional' military engineers. U.S. officials in Washington estimated the number at around 300, the Reuters news agency reported. The decision to help bolster the 7,000 African Union peacekeepers was seen mainly as a gesture to underline Chinese support for a U.N.-administered solution to the four-year-old conflict in western Sudan's Darfur region. Since an armed secessionist revolt began there in 2003, as many as 450,000 people have died from violence and disease and about 2.5 million have fled their homes. In recent weeks, the Darfur crisis has become particularly sensitive in China because of suggestions in the United States and Europe that people should boycott the 2008 Beijing Olympics to demonstrate opposition to Chinese policies in Sudan. China, which has deep economic and military ties there, has been widely criticized for failing to bring strong pressure on the government to persuade it to accept a large force of U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur. The ties include large oil purchases and extensive arms sales. [...]"

"Darfur Conflict is Close to 'Moment of Truth' -- UN"
By Alaa Shahine
Reuters dispatch, 8 May 2007
"The conflict in Darfur is approaching a 'moment of truth' requiring Sudan and rebel groups to open peace talks, a senior United Nations official said on Tuesday. Jan Eliasson, U.N. special envoy for Sudan, was speaking in Khartoum hours after rights group Amnesty International accused China and Russia of breaking a U.N. arms embargo on Darfur by letting weapons into Sudan. Eliasson said had arrived with African Union special envoy Salim Ahmed Salim 'in the spirit of action' and wanted to see movement that would help end the crisis. 'We are moving closer to the moment of truth, mainly when ... the parties have to start seriously to prepare for negotiations,' he told reporters at the airport. 'We will among ourselves now take some concrete steps ... I think the conflict has gone long enough. Impatience is great.' China, the biggest foreign investor in Sudan, denied the Amnesty accusations and said it would send military engineers as part of a U.N. package to support the AU force in Darfur. A Russian Foreign Ministry official also denied the charges. Amnesty said it was 'deeply dismayed' by the flow of arms allowed by China and Russia, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and said the weapons were often diverted to be used in conflict in Darfur and neighbouring Chad. The United Nations says some 200,000 people have died and more than 2 million have fled their homes since the conflict flared in 2003 when rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglect. Sudan says only 9,000 have perished. [...]"

"The Genocide Games"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 8 May 2007
"[...] So long as General Bashir has China as his chief protector, investor, and arms supplier, the genocide will flourish. Whatever truly punitive resolution the U.N. Security Council may pass will be vetoed by China, a permanent member of the council. China buys at least 70 percent of Sudan's most important export -- oil. And, as Peter Brookes, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, now with the Heritage Foundation, notes: In Sudan, 'China is building roads, bridges, an oil refinery, and a hydroelectric dam [along with] government offices and a new $20 million presidential palace' for the thriving General Bashir. It is now clear that the only way to stop the mass murders and rapes in Darfur -- and now of the refugees in neighboring Chad -- is to compel China to force Sudan to end the genocide. China's only acute vulnerability -- as it becomes the most powerful nation in the world economically and politically -- is the tarnishing of its coming glorification as the host of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Despite its reputation for mercilessly repressing dissent among its own people, China has chosen the slogan 'One World, One Dream' for the games, hoping, apparently, that few remember the blood-soaked nightmare of China's 1989 massacre of student protesters in Tiananmen Square -- but many do remember. Smith College professor Eric Reeves, the leading historian of the Darfur genocide, calls the Beijing Olympics 'China's post–Tiananmen Square coming-out party. They are counting on the international community having forgiven and forgotten.' Now, however, faced with evidence of the beginning of an international campaign to shame it for its deep complicity in the holocaust in Darfur, China in all its might is deeply worried by the organizing of boycotts of the games. [...]"


"Mormons' Darkest Day in Spotlight"
By David Smith
The Observer, 6 May 2007
"The date was 11 September. A group carried out an act of religious terrorism on American soil, raining indiscriminate death on innocent people. It remains a scar on the country's collective memory. This was the 'other' 11 September, in 1857, when fundamentalist Mormon settlers opened fire on a wagon train, leaving more than 120 men, women and children dead in a flowery field. The Mountain Meadows Massacre, which happened about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City in Utah, is an episode often left out of history books in Britain and even in the United States. There will be no hiding place next month when Hollywood delivers a retelling of Mormonism's darkest hour. September Dawn, starring Jon Voight and Terence Stamp, draws parallels between the Mormon militia and today's Islamist terrorists. The film promises to be highly controversial among the 5.8 million Americans who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the Mormon church is officially known. There is even speculation that it could have an impact on the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, a Republican who happens to be a Mormon. Most of the Mormons' victims in the 1857 massacre, who had been heading west to seek a better life in California, were marched single file through the grass and shot at close range, stabbed or beaten to death. Another wagonload of the immigrants, wounded during four days of gun skirmishes with Mormon militiamen and some Paiute Indians, were also shot and killed. For nearly 150 years, the depth of the church's involvement in the massacre has been debated in dozens of books from historians and by the descendants on both sides. Most sensitive is the question of whether Brigham Young, the revered Mormon prophet, knew of or even ordered the killing. The film, released in the US on 22 June and in Britain later this year, will argue that he shared direct responsibility for the attack. [...]"


"As Pope Heads to Brazil, a Rival Theology Persists"
By Larry Rohter
The New York Times, 7 May 2007 [Registration Required]
"In the early 1980s, when Pope John Paul II wanted to clamp down on what he considered a dangerous, Marxist-inspired movement in the Roman Catholic Church, liberation theology, he turned to a trusted aide: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Now Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI, and when he arrives here on Wednesday for his first pastoral visit to Latin America he may be surprised at what he finds. Liberation theology, which he once called 'a fundamental threat to the faith of the church,' persists as an active, even defiant force in Latin America, home to nearly half the world's one billion Roman Catholics. Over the past 25 years, even as the Vatican moved to silence the clerical theorists of liberation theology and the church fortified its conservative hierarchy, the social and economic ills the movement highlighted have worsened. In recent years, the politics of the region have also drifted leftward, giving the movement's demand that the church embrace 'a preferential option for the poor' new impetus and credibility. Today some 80,000 'base communities,' as the grass-roots building blocks of liberation theology are called, operate in Brazil, the world's most populous Roman Catholic nation, and nearly one million 'Bible circles' meet regularly to read and discuss scripture from the viewpoint of the theology of liberation. ... In the past, adherents stood firm as death squads made scores of martyrs to the movement, ranging from Archbishop Óscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador, killed in 1980 while celebrating Mass, to Dorothy Mae Stang, an American-born nun shot to death in the Brazilian Amazon in February 2005. Compared to that, the pressures of the Vatican are nothing to fear, they maintain. 'Despite everything, we continue to endure in a kind of subterranean way,' said Luiz Antonio Rodrigues dos Santos, a 55-year-old teacher active in the movement for nearly 30 years. 'Let Rome and the critics say what they want; we simply persevere in our work with the poor and the oppressed.' [...]"
[n.b. The campaign of mass atrocity against adherents of liberation theology in the 1970s and '80s should be considered a case of genocide against a religious group, in every respect comparable to the Iranian attack on the Baha'i community or, for that matter, the Roman persecution of the early Christians which so inspired Raphael Lemkin. The genocide was waged by state terrorists directed by the military dictatorships, primarily in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Brazil. Vatican-appointed bishops then served as Mafia-style "cleaners," stepping in after the worst of the killing had abated to try to stamp out the pulverized remnants of the movement. The resurgence of liberation theology in recent years, when most people had written its obituary, is a gratifying and inspiring development.]


"Classic Book About America's Indians Gains a Few Flourishes as a Film"
By Edward Wyatt
The New York Times, 9 November 2007 [Registration Required]
"When the historian Dee Brown published 'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee' in 1971, it became an instant sensation. In an age of rebellion, this nonfiction book told the epic tale of the displacement and decline of the American Indian not from the perspective of the winners, but from that of the Indians. But the fact that Mr. Brown’s work has been translated into 17 languages and has sold five million copies around the world was not enough to convince HBO that a film version would draw a sizable mainstream audience. When the channel broadcasts its two-hour adaptation of the book, beginning Memorial Day weekend, at its center will be a new character: a man who was part Sioux, was educated at an Ivy League college and married a white woman. ... The added character is based on a real person: Charles Eastman, part Sioux and descended from a long line of Santee chiefs but who was sent away by his father to boarding school and then held up as a model of the potential assimilation of 19th-century Native Americans. But the film fictionalizes significant portions of his life. In the HBO version he dodges bullets at the Battle of Little Bighorn. In reality he was far away, in grade school in Nebraska. Fictionalizing history has long been standard in Hollywood. But rarely do filmmakers directly hitch their historically inaccurate projects to revered works of nonfiction. ... At the time it was published, Mr. Brown's epic, subtitled 'An Indian History of the American West,' struck a chord in a country embroiled in a divisive war in Vietnam and still shuddering from the American military's massacre in the village of My Lai. Segregation was dying hard in the South, and the American Indian Movement was ascending. The story is a relentless tragedy, tracing the history of American Indian nations from 1860, shortly after the first new states extended into the 'permanent Indian frontier,' through 1890 and the massacre at Wounded Knee, in what is now South Dakota. It became a blockbuster best seller and helped shape the way the history of the American Indians has been interpreted ever since. [...]"


"Climate Change Could Lead to Global Conflict, Says Beckett"
By Julian Borger
The Guardian, 11 May 2007
"Climate change could spawn a new era of conflicts around the world over water and other scarce resources unless more is done to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, warned yesterday. She said climate-driven conflicts were already under way in Africa. Underlying the Darfur crisis, she said, was a 'struggle between nomadic and pastoral communities for resources made more scarce through a changing climate.' Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in London, Mrs Beckett quoted evidence that a similar conflict was brewing in Ghana where Fulani cattle herdsmen are reportedly arming themselves to take on local farmers in a confrontation over water and land as climate change expands the Sahara desert. The foreign secretary said the Middle East -- with 5% of the world's population but only 1% of its water -- would be particularly badly affected, with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq particularly hard hit by a drop in rainfall. She said the Nile could lose 80% of its flow into Egypt, a country which would also be threatened by rising sea levels in the Nile delta, its agricultural heartland, where flooding could displace 2 million people, threatening internal stability. 'Resource-based conflicts are not new. But in climate change we have a new and potentially disastrous dynamic.' Her speech echoed a similar warning from the European commission in January that global warming could trigger regional conflicts, poverty, famine, mass migration and the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. [...]"


"They Hate Us For Our Hypocrisy"
By Eugene Robinson, 11 May 2007
"The Bush administration says that its zero-tolerance policy against terrorism applies to all suspected evildoers, not just Muslims, and that its zero-tolerance policy against Cuba is a principled position, not just an exercise in pandering to the implacable anti-Castro exiles in Miami. On both counts, evidence suggests otherwise. The fact is that Luis Posada Carriles, an accused terrorist who entered the United States illegally and was taken into custody by authorities, is not being kept in solitary confinement and dragged out for occasional waterboarding. As of this writing, he is a free man. Posada, 79, has a long history of violent opposition to Fidel Castro's regime. He was accused of masterminding the 1976 midair bombing of a civilian Cuban airliner, a terrorist act that killed 73 innocent people. He is also suspected of involvement in a 1997 series of bombings of Havana hotels and nightclubs; several people were injured and an Italian tourist was killed. Terrorism, our government constantly reminds us, is the scourge of our times. So why is a man described by our government as 'an unrepentant criminal and admitted mastermind of terrorist plots and attacks on tourist sites' looking forward to a hero's welcome in Miami from his old Bay of Pigs comrades? [...]"

"The Terrorist We Tolerate"
By Rosa Brooks
The Los Angeles Times (on, 11 May 2007
"Like pirates, terrorists are supposedly hostis humani generis -- the 'enemy of all mankind.' So why is the Bush administration letting one of the world's most notorious terrorists stroll freely around the United States? I'm talking about a man who was -- until 9/11 -- perhaps the most successful terrorist in the Western Hemisphere. He's believed to have masterminded a 1976 plot to blow up a civilian airliner, killing all 73 people on board, including teenage members of Cuba's national fencing team. He's admitted to pulling off a series of 1997 bombings aimed at tourist hotels and nightspots. Today, he's living illegally in the United States, but senior members of the Bush administration -- the very guys who declared war on terror just a few short years ago -- don't seem terribly bothered. I'm talking about Luis Posada Carriles. That's not a household name for most U.S. citizens, but for many in Latin America, Posada is as reviled as Osama bin Laden is in the United States. ... The administration's approach to Posada contrasts jarringly with its approach to suspected Al Qaeda terrorists. With the latter, the administration wastes no time on legal niceties. Foreign nationals have been illegally 'rendered' to countries where they faced torture, interrogated in secret CIA prisons and sent to languish at Guantanamo, sometimes on the flimsiest of evidence. Even U.S. citizens suspected of terrorist activities have been dubbed 'unlawful enemy combatants' and deprived of their constitutional rights. So why is the administration dragging its feet on arresting and charging Posada? [...]"