Sunday, May 13, 2007

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

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"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? [...]"

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