Sunday, September 16, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
September 1-16, 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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"Fractured Bosnia Struggles to Form Police Force for All"
By Jonathan Finer
The Washington Post, 16 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] The 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the war divided the country into two ethnic enclaves and gave each the right to police itself. Now, creation of a single multiethnic police force has become the biggest stumbling block in Bosnia's quest to join the European Union. Talks among Bosnia's factions resumed this month in advance of an upcoming deadline to produce a policing agreement that can be presented to European officials this year. 'I am not optimistic,' Raffi Gregorian, deputy high representative of foreign parties to the Dayton accords, said when asked about the prospects for an agreement. 'And that means we're on hold another year before we get the process going again.' A compromise proposal that Gregorian's office has put forward in recent weeks has been criticized by both Muslim and Serb leaders. The Muslims, who control an ethnic zone known as the Federation and play a primary role in Bosnia's national government because Muslims are the country's largest ethnic group, would like to abolish the Srpska police in favor of a more nationalized force. They say many members of the Srpska force are war criminals. 'Keeping the Srpska police intact is like allowing the Gestapo to police Holocaust victims,' said Haris Silajdzic, the Muslim representative in the country's three-pronged presidency. 'We need a multiethnic police force because such forces do not commit massacres.' Bosnian Serbs say their minority status leaves them vulnerable and in need of their own security force. Their leaders say they would rather forgo a place in the E.U. than their 7,000-member police contingent. While they have rejected calls to change the name of the force, Republika Srpska Police, they have agreed to swap its wartime eagle logo for one with no connotations, which would leave many officers without their trademark hats while the switch is completed. [...]"


"Prevalence of Rape in E. Congo Described as Worst in World"
By Stephanie McCrummen
The Washington Post, 9 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"The prevalence and intensity of sexual violence against women in eastern Congo are 'almost unimaginable,' the top U.N. humanitarian official said Saturday after visiting the country's most fragile region, where militia groups have preyed on the civilian population for years. John Holmes, who coordinates U.N. emergency relief operations, said 4,500 cases of sexual violence have been reported in just one eastern province since January, though the actual number is surely much higher. Rape has become 'almost a cultural phenomenon,' he said. 'Violence and rape at the hands of these armed groups has become all too common,' said Holmes, who spent four days in eastern Congo. 'The intensity and frequency is worse than anywhere else in the world.' The chronic sexual violence is just one facet of a broader environment of insecurity that still defines eastern Congo after a decade-long war that killed an estimated 4 million people, mostly from hunger and other effects of being driven from their homes. Tensions have risen in the east following recent clashes between government soldiers and forces loyal to a renegade general, Laurent Nkunda. Nearly 300,000 people have been displaced since December, including tens of thousands in the past several weeks, according to the United Nations. [...]"

"Fear of Fresh Conflict in Congo as Renegade General Turns Guns on Government Forces"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 3 September 2007
"Peace accords that were to put an end to the conflicts that killed millions in the Democratic Republic of Congo are collapsing after a powerful renegade Tutsi general declared war on the government. The United Nations has started airlifting thousands of government troops into the eastern Kivu region, which has endured two foreign invasions and more than a decade of civil war. About 4 million people have died in the conflicts. Fighting has renewed after General Laurent Nkunda pulled thousands of his men out of the national army last week, just months after they were integrated under the peace accords, and began attacking government troops whom he accused of collaborating with Hutu forces that fled into Congo after carrying out the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. Gen. Nkunda says he has gone back to war to protect the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis who live in the Kivu region and are still targeted by Hutu rebels. But the UN peacekeeping force in Congo has thrown its support behind the government's claim that Gen Nkunda is a 'bandit,' raising the prospect of another major conflict. [...]"


"Ethiopia's Ogaden Rebels Warn of 'African Genocide'"
By Wangui Kanina
Reuters dispatch, 13 September 2007
"Rebels from Ethiopia's troubled Ogaden region said on Thursday an 'African genocide' was unfolding there while a U.N. fact-finding mission had only visited areas sanctioned by the government. The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) called on the United Nations to investigate what it said were 'war crimes' by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's troops in the remote and arid region neighboring Somalia. Meles' government has been waging an unprecedented military crackdown on the rebels after they killed 74 people during a raid on a Chinese-run oil exploration field earlier this year. 'The United Nations in particular bears a responsibility to thoroughly investigate war crimes in Ogaden and halt the unfolding of yet another preventable African genocide,' the front said. Both sides have reported hundreds of deaths, and accused the other of terrorizing the population. But there has been no independent verification of the claims and counter-claims in an area effectively off-limits to journalists and aid groups. The rebels said a U.N. mission this month, intended to assess claims of rights abuses as well as humanitarian needs in the Ogaden, did not have access to the entire region. [...]"


"Nazi Victims' Greek Descendants Sue for Compensation in Italy"
By John Hooper
The Guardian, 3 September 2007
"One of the most controversial Nazi warcrime cases, arising from a massacre in a Greek village, has been reopened -- not in Greece or Germany, but in Italy. The move also means a historic villa may have to be sold to pay reparations to the descendants of the victims. It is the latest example of so-called 'judicial tourism,' in which litigants explore other countries' legal systems in search of a favourable ruling. Within the next few days, according to a report in the newspaper Corriere della Sera, Italy's highest appeal court, the court of cassation, will hear a plea from the German government against a judgment by a lower tribunal in favour of the Greek plaintiffs. A court in Florence ruled that an Italian mansion belonging to the German state should be set aside as a guarantee against the authorities in Berlin refusing to pay. Villa Vigoni, on the shores of Lake Como, was left to Germany by its owner in the 1980s. It now serves as an Italo-German cultural centre and once hosted a meeting between the countries' presidents. The plaintiffs' German lawyer, who practises in Florence, is claiming €40m damages from Berlin for a massacre in the village of Distomo on June 10, 1944, which left 218 people dead. It was not the bloodiest Nazi reprisal in Greece, but it was among the most savage: the victims included a two-month-old child and an 80-year-old woman. In 1997, following years of legal wrangling, the supreme court in Athens ruled that the German state should pay the villagers the equivalent of €23m. When the money was not forthcoming, the court gave the plaintiffs a claim on the premises in Athens of the Goethe-Institut, the German equivalent of the British Council. The Greek authorities blocked the implementation of the court order, but the children of one of the victims took the case to the Florence court after it ruled that the decision could be executed in Italy. A ruling by Italy's top appeal court would have implications for descendants of the victims of other massacres, particularly in the Balkans."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Complex Defeat for Nobel Winner in Guatemala"
By Mark Lacey
The New York Times, 11 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] One who did not seem to get any spiritual help is Rigoberta Menchú, the first indigenous presidential candidate in this predominantly indigenous country and the winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy on behalf of Guatemala’s marginalized Mayans. She finished sixth in a field of 14, according to results released Monday, with just 3 percent of the vote. The two front-runners, Álvaro Colom and Otto Pérez Molina, will compete in a runoff on Nov. 4. Why Ms. Menchú fared so poorly is as complex as the Mayans themselves. She was not from around here. That was obvious to anyone who scrutinized the details of the embroidery on the traditional Mayan clothes she wore to campaign. She is a Quiche Mayan, from the midwestern highlands. Her indigenous language is different, unintelligible to a local Tz'utujil speaker. Nineteen other Mayan groups live in Guatemala, each linguistically distinct. Because of the rivalries and conflicts among Mayans, Ms. Menchú had to win over Mayan voters just like any other outsider. 'She's one of us, but she's not,' explained a Tz'utujil Mayan who voted for someone else. She also entered the race without a social organization as a base and was considered a lackluster campaigner and an uninspired speaker. Furthermore, many older Mayan men are traditional when it comes to women. 'Lots of men don't want a woman to boss them around, and especially a woman president,' said Delores Ratzan, a Tz’utujil Mayan tour guide here. 'They think it will ruin the country, and they tell their wives that.' [...]"


"Proxy War Could Soon Turn to Direct Conflict, Analysts Warn"
By Julian Borger and Ian Black
The Guardian, 15 September 2007
"The growing US focus on confronting Iran in a proxy war inside Iraq risks triggering a direct conflict in the next few months, regional analysts are warning. US-Iranian tensions have mounted significantly in the past few days, with heightened rhetoric on both sides and the US decision to establish a military base in Iraq less than five miles from the Iranian border to block the smuggling of Iranian arms to Shia militias. ... 'The proxy war that has been going on in Iraq may now cross the border. This is a very dangerous period,' Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said. Iran's leaders have so far shown every sign of relishing the confrontation. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared yesterday that American policies had failed in the Middle East and warned: 'I am certain that one day Bush and senior American officials will be tried in an international court for the tragedies they have created in Iraq.' In such circumstances, last week's Israeli air strike against a mystery site in northern Syria has triggered speculation over its motives. ... The US has called a meeting of major powers in Washington next Friday to discuss Iran's defiance of UN resolutions calling for its suspension of uranium enrichment. It comes amid signs that the Bush administration is running out of patience with diplomatic efforts to curb the nuclear programme. Hawks led by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, are intensifying their push for military action, with support from Israel and privately from some Sunni Gulf states. ... Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism chief who is now a security analyst, said: 'The decision to attack was made some time ago. It will be in two stages. If a smoking gun is found in terms of Iranian interference in Iraq, the US will retaliate on a tactical level, and they will strike against military targets. The second part of this is: Bush has made the decision to launch a strategic attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, although not before next year. He has been lining up some Sunni countries for tacit support for his actions.' [...]"
[n.b. Brace yourself. And bear in mind that, as Seymour Hersh and others have reported, US special forces have been operating inside Iran, probably including sabotage and support for secessionist movements, for many months.]


"Poll: Civilian Death Toll in Iraq May Top 1 Million"
By Tina Susman
The Los Angeles Times, 14 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] A new survey suggested that the civilian death toll from the war could be more than 1 million. The figure from ORB, a British polling agency that has conducted several surveys in Iraq, followed statements this week from the U.S. military defending itself against accusations it was trying to play down Iraqi deaths to make its strategy appear successful. The military has said civilian deaths from sectarian violence have fallen more than 55% since President Bush sent an additional 28,500 troops to Iraq this year, but it does not provide specific numbers. According to the ORB poll, a survey of 1,461 adults suggested that the total number slain during more than four years of war was more than 1.2 million. ORB said it drew its conclusion from responses to the question about those living under one roof: 'How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003?' Based on Iraq's estimated number of households -- 4,050,597 -- it said the 1.2 million figure was reasonable. There was no way to verify the number, because the government does not provide a full count of civilian deaths. Neither does the U.S. military. Both, however, say that independent organizations greatly exaggerate estimates of civilian casualties. ORB said its poll had a margin of error of 2.4%. According to its findings, nearly one in two households in Baghdad had lost at least one member to war-related violence, and 22% of households nationwide had suffered at least one death. It said 48% of the victims were shot to death and 20% died as a result of car bombs, with other explosions and military bombardments blamed for most of the other fatalities. The survey was conducted last month. It was the highest estimate given so far of civilian deaths in Iraq. Last year, a study in the medical journal Lancet put the number at 654,965, which Iraq's government has dismissed as 'ridiculous.' [...]"
[n.b. Well, that Lancet study is looking a sight less "ridiculous" today, isn't it? The mind simply boggles at these latest data, which, scandalously, have been all but ignored in the mainstream media.]

"Kurdish Widows' Lives Frozen in Time"
By Borzou Daragahi
The Los Angeles Times, 9 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"Patience, the mothers begged their children. Saddam Hussein will fall. Liberty will come. Your father will return. Years went by. The regime fell. Prison doors were opened. Mass graves were unearthed. Still, the women wait. 'We still have not given up hope. We expect our husbands to return,' says Bahar Suleiman, one of the thousands of black-draped women of this valley of widows. She sits on a red plastic chair in the courtyard of a one-story cinder-block home she shares with six other women who have lost their husbands. A mountain breeze tempers the August sun. Her reddish locks tumble from the black head scarf wrapping a face frozen in a grimace. 'I still believe that someday my husband will walk through that gate there,' she says. Barzan is the ancestral homeland of the Barzani family, which dominates politics here in the semiautonomous region known as Iraqi Kurdistan. ... The heartache began in 1975, when the shah of Iran, in a deal with Hussein, withdrew support for Kurdish guerrillas fighting Baghdad for autonomy. Thousands, including the elder Barzani and his family, took the long, dreary march into exile to Iran, Europe or the United States in what was called the Great Collapse. Hussein's government dealt harshly with those who stayed behind. First, they were herded south to the desert near the border with Saudi Arabia. Then, after Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979, Hussein ordered them to a camp back in the Kurdish region, fearing that they would join rebellious Shiite Muslims in the south. Trucks full of soldiers came to the camp early on the morning of July 31, 1983. They separated women from men, young from old. The soldiers told the women the men were going to work as laborers for a day. They never came back. For the women of Barzan, life became a nonstop backbreaking chore. They had to do everything -- earn a living, perform household tasks, feed the children -- without their men. They eventually returned to Barzan after Hussein, defeated in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was forced to accept the Kurdish semiautonomous region in the north. But custom forbade them from remarrying until the fate of their husbands became clear. So they waited. [...]"


"My Jewish Grandson's No Nazi, Says Holocaust Survivor"
By Rebecca Harrison
Reuters dispatch, 10 September 2007
"She escaped the Holocaust at age six by hiding from the Nazis under a pile of dead bodies in her Ukrainian village. Now the Israeli pensioner's grandson stands accused of joining a neo-Nazi gang which allegedly attacked Orthodox Jews in Petah Tikva in metropolitan Tel Aviv and painted swastikas across the walls of the local synagogue. Her 17-year-old grandson is one of eight young Israelis, all from the former Soviet Union, arrested in connection with neo-Nazi activity, in a case that has stunned the Jewish state. All denied involvement at a court hearing this week. Some one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union have moved to Israel since the fall of Communism in 1990. Many, including some of the suspects, were not born to a Jewish mother -- the Orthodox definition of a Jew -- but qualified for Israeli citizenship because they had at least one Jewish grandparent. The accused's grandmother said on Monday her family had been Jewish 'since Adam and Eve.' It would be absurd, she said, to charge her grandson with neo-Nazi activities. Neither the accused, a minor, nor his relatives can be named for legal reasons. [...]"

"Israelis Debate Care for Holocaust Victims"
By Joshua Mitnick
The Christian Science Monitor, 4 September 2007
"[...] Even though Israel has fashioned its identity as a national vessel of Holocaust heritage, tens of thousands of survivors live at or near the poverty level. When the government offered in July to boost monthly compensation to survivors by only $20, the ensuing outcry highlighted a history of bitterness between Holocaust victims and the state. The controversy hinges on questions of what is the responsibility of Israel's government for survivors who can't afford the care they need. Advocates say the government must offer special assistance to pay for medical treatment for such diagnosis as cancer, osteoporosis, and psychological stress. But Tom Segev, the author of 'The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust,' says the controversy is about more than just money. The outrage at the government reflects a deep-seated tension between the worldview of the native Israeli establishment and the old-world survivors. 'The Holocaust has become a very central identity of Israeli identity. But with Holocaust survivors we still have a problem,' he says. 'The Holocaust is very much on everybody's mind, but the Holocaust survivors are still treated as something of an invalid, a cripple, a big problem.' The Zionists of early 20th century Palestine considered themselves 'new Jews' who prided themselves on self-defense while disdaining European ancestors for passivity in the face of anti-Semitism. Holocaust survivors were initially ignored at best, or blamed for their ordeal at worst. In August, the government said it would revise its earlier offer of $20. Survivors of Nazi-era concentration camps are supposed to receive 1,200 shekels ($290) a month, a decision that survivor advocates say will help about 8,000 survivors. [...]"


"Hizbollah 'Did Not Use Civilians as Cover'"
By Mark Lavie
The Independent, 7 September 2007
"In its strongest condemnation of Israel since last summer's war, Human Rights Watch said yesterday that most Lebanese civilian casualties were caused by 'indiscriminate Israeli air strikes.' The international human rights organisation said there was no basis to the Israeli claim that civilian casualties resulted from Hizbollah guerrillas using civilians for cover. Israel has said that it attacked civilian areas because Hizbollah set up rocket launchers in villages and towns. More than 1,000 Lebanese were killed in the 34-day conflict, which began after Hizbollah staged a cross-border raid, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two others. Israeli aircraft targeted Lebanese infrastructure, including bridges and Beirut airport, and heavily damaged a district of Beirut known as a Hizbollah stronghold, as well as attacking Hizbollah centres in villages near the border. Hizbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at northern Israel, killing 119 soldiers. In the fighting, 40 Israeli civilians were killed. Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director, said there were only 'rare' cases of Hizbollah operating in civilian villages. 'To the contrary, once the war started, most Hizbollah military officials and even many political officials left the villages,' he said. 'Most Hizbollah military activity was conducted from prepared positions outside Lebanese villages in the hills and valleys around.' The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, rejected the findings. 'Hizbollah adopted a deliberate strategy of shielding itself behind the civilian population and turning the civilians in Lebanon into a human shield,' he said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"First Memorial to Black Victims of Nazi Genocide"
By Michael Leidig
The Observer, 16 September 2007
"In the vast, agonising mosaic of the Holocaust, Mahjub bin Adam Mohamed was simply one more piece, one of millions of the Nazis' victims lost to obscurity without a funeral or a grave. Now bin Adam is to make history in Germany by becoming the first black person to be given a memorial in his adopted country as an individual victim of the genocide of the Third Reich. A Stolperstein -- a bronze 'stumbling block' -- will be erected on the ground outside the house in Berlin where he lived. The memorial will be placed so that pedestrians have to step around it, and its aim is to stop future generations from thinking of the Holocaust in terms of anonymous, faceless numbers. Until now the markers have been almost exclusively established at Jewish homes, but bin Adam's Stolperstein will serve as a reminder of other minorities, the black people, the disabled, homosexuals, gypsies, communists, political dissenters and Jehovah's Witnesses, who were also murdered under Hitler's regime. ... Bin Adam, who was born in Tanzania, joined the then colonial German East Africa services when he was 10 years old and served with the army. He emigrated to Berlin in 1929, where he immediately got into trouble with the authorities by walking into the Foreign Ministry and demanding his outstanding service pay. ... He married a German woman, Maria Schwander, and they had three children -- Adam, Annemarie and Bodo -- but his family struggled to make ends meet because of his excesses, which included numerous affairs that resulted in several illegitimate children. He was still in dispute with the authorities over money for his time in the armed forces when he was arrested in 1941, charged with the crime of 'miscegenation' -- racial intermarriage -- and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he died in November 1944. [...]"


"New Data on Russia Race Attacks"
By Steven Eke
BBC Online, 3 September 2007
"A respected Russian human rights group has published shocking new data on the extent of racist violence in Russia. Sova says 38 people have been murdered in racist killings so far this year, and well over 300 people have been injured, mainly in stabbings. According to its figures, the most common victims of racist killings are from the Caucasus and Central Asia. It also warns that Russia's skinheads have begun targeting other minorities, including homosexuals. Sova says that Moscow, St Petersburg and Russia's fourth city -- Nizhniy Novgorod -- are the leaders in racist attacks. It says 24 people have died in Moscow alone this year as a result of racially motivated killings by what it terms 'skinheads.' The word 'skinhead' in Russia implies something much more than appearance. It is the generic term given to the country's ultra-right activists, who continue to form organisations and carry out attacks with what anti-racism groups say is impunity. Sova estimates there are more than 60,000 skinheads in Russia. It says its figures suggest the toll of racist attacks is increasing, but prosecutors remain reluctant to attribute racial motivation to killings of ethnic minorities. Instead, they often put them down to simple 'hooliganism.' [...]"


"In China, a Display of Resolve on Darfur"
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, 16 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Chinese military put on a display of its first Darfur-bound peacekeepers Saturday, having troops throw up Bailey bridges and feign combat to dramatize Beijing's desire to be seen as a partner in bringing peace to the violence-torn corner of Sudan. The training demonstration, by an engineering unit of the People's Liberation Army, was observed by foreign journalists as part of a new campaign by the Chinese government to show that it is cooperating with the United States and other nations to end the Darfur fighting, which since 2003 has displaced about 2.5 million people and contributed to the deaths of as many as 450,000 from violence and disease. Military engineers wearing U.N.-blue caps worked feverishly to build a stretch of road, erect a bridge and put together a prefab shelter designed to serve as a headquarters building. Force protection troops, meanwhile, simulated reacting to an ambush and sped about the training grounds here in armored personnel carriers in what an army announcer called 'a military training show.' ... China's previous unwillingness to be seen pressuring the Sudanese government had generated appeals for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, endangering what the Communist Party government hopes will be a showcase at home and abroad for the country's swift economic transformation. With Olympic enthusiasm high among the Chinese public, anything that casts a shadow over the Games would become a political problem for President Hu Jintao and the party. [...]"

"Boom Belies Sudan's Pariah Status"
By Rob Crilly
The Times, 15 September 2007
"A new city is emerging on the banks of the Nile. Khartoum's minarets and historic souks are giving way to glass-encased office blocks and hotels as an oil-fuelled boom reshapes the skyline. Shiny new Japanese cars fill some of the straightest roads in Africa, despite sanctions and the country's pariah status over the genocide in Darfur. Tomorrow tens of thousands of protesters will take to the streets in a global day of action urging world leaders to keep up pressure on a regime waging war. But campaigners fear that Sudan's newfound prosperity is undermining the effort. Nick Donovan, of the Aegis Trust, a British-based charity that campaigns against genocide, said: 'It insulates Khartoum from some forms of economic pressure. The high oil prices and the fact that some countries are willing to buy oil from Sudan means the Government can act with impunity.' At least 200,000 people have died in the conflict in the Sudanese western region since rebels rose against the Government more than four years ago. Today four million people are dependent entirely on aid. The International Criminal Court has issued warrants for the arrest of a government minister, Ahmed Haroun, for his role in arming and funding the Janjawid militias. This year the US strengthened sanctions imposed a decade ago. The US Treasury barred 31 Sudanese companies from international financial institutions. [...]"

"Displaced Darfuris Seek Seat at Peace Talks"
By Abigail Hauslohner
Reuters dispatch, 12 September 2007
"Displaced Darfuris in a dusty, squalid camp in Sudan's war-torn west have demanded a seat at peace talks between Khartoum and Darfur rebel groups, warning negotiations could fail without their participation. Khartoum released a joint communique with the United Nations last week saying it will start talks with Darfur rebels on October 27 in Libya to push for peace before a 26,000-strong U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force deploys to Darfur. 'There is no representative for us there. No one came and consulted us. If some of us were present at the talks it would help them succeed,' Al-Bashir Al-Nagi, a local community leader, told Reuters. He predicted the planned talks, as construed, are 'not going to succeed. They will fail like the last ones.' Several Darfur sheikhs made similar pleas to visiting British Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown on Tuesday as they gathered in a small hut at the Otash displaced persons camp in south Darfur to air grievances. 'We would like to participate in the peace-building process,' one local sheikh told Malloch Brown. Otash residents in South Darfur, which humanitarian workers say has seen more killing and displacement than other areas of Darfur this year, said they feel increasingly disconnected from the rebel leaders, several of whom live abroad, and they want their own representation at the talks. International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have fled their homes in over four years of ethnic and political violence in Darfur, which the United States calls genocide. [...]"

"Head of Darfur Peacekeepers Confident"
By Alfred de Montesquiou
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 10 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"A large and complex peacekeeping operation planned for Darfur will launch on time and could, within months, improve security in the war-torn region of western Sudan, the mission's head said. Rodolphe Adada, chief of the United Nations and African Union joint mission to Darfur, said contributing nations have already committed more than the 26,000 required troops for the force, and he expects the peacekeepers to deploy in October. 'That won't mean we'll have all the elements of the force on the ground, but we'll be operational,' he said in an interview with The Associated Press late Sunday. The joint mission will take over from an African Union force of 7,000 currently in Darfur, and Adada said he expected to begin operating with some 10,000 troops, including the African contingents already in place. He said the joint mission, called UNAMID, would meet the deadline set by the U.N. Security Council to replace the African Union force by Dec. 31. 'Hopefully, we'll be in full gear by March,' Adada said. ... Darfur civilians have grown increasingly frustrated with the African Union force's lack of protection since it arrived in June 2004. They hope the new, hybrid U.N.-African Union force's ability to secure refugee camps and towns will be a key factor to bring back stability. One of the main weaknesses of the African Union's current force is a mandate more focused on monitoring violence than preventing it. Adada said the UNAMID's rules of engagement, under which troops are allowed to shoot, will provide for stronger protection. [...]"

"Save Us from Hell of Darfur, Say Refugees"
By Mariella Frostrup
The Guardian, 9 September 2007
"[...] You will have read about the conflict in Darfur, of the rapes and mutilations, of an estimated 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million forced to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families. Despite endless United Nations initiatives, the attention of our Prime Minister and President Nicolas Sarkozy in France, and the campaigning of such celebrities as George Clooney and Mia Farrow, it remains for most of us a distant conflict in a world scarred by many such battles. Jaded from daily TV channel-hopping, we shrug off another genocide. It seems both intangible and hopeless. Until you find yourself inches from a woman like Hawaye, her baby daughter Nadjva sucking on her malnourished breast as she tells us what drove her from Sudan to the Djabal refugee camp where we sit. 'They came at seven to our village, the janjaweed militia,' she says, the fact that she mentions the time seeming a poignant effort to give some structure to the evil that followed. Her husband was away when the rebels arrived and set about their business -- the livestock rounded up, homes torched, men and boys mutilated and murdered, and finally the moment that she replays over and over, when one of the horsemen rode up and, with a machete, decapitated the baby that she held in her arms. She didn't have time to mourn. The murderers took her with them and kept her hostage for 15 days, repeatedly raping and violating her before they moved on. But for many women, surviving is the worst-case scenario. Hawaye was reunited with her husband, but the fact that she had lived made her guilty of complicity in her 'loss of honour.' He divorced her. She briefly got lucky when another refugee with two children married her, a rare occurrence for rape victims, who are seen as unclean. You are no doubt hoping for a happy ending? When he found out about her ordeal, which she had kept secret in fear and shame, he also divorced her. [...]"

"Darfur Peace Talks Set for October"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 7 September 2007
"Sudan and Darfur rebels will hold talks on October 27 in Libya to push for peace ahead of the expected deployment of a 26 000-strong peace force in Darfur, a United Nations-Sudanese government statement said on Thursday. The statement said the UN 'expresses the hope that parties will cooperate fully' with UN and African Union (AU) mediators. The announcement came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon came to the end of a three-day tour of Sudan where he held talks with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and leaders of key Darfur rebel factions. Ban told a news conference the Libya talks would be held under the mediation of UN Darfur envoy Jan Eliasson and his AU counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim. 'I urge and expect all parties to respect their commitments to cease all hostilities immediately,' Ban said. International experts estimate about 200 000 people have died and more than two million have been driven from their homes in Darfur since the conflict broke out in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 9 000. A 2006 peace deal between Khartoum and one rebel faction failed to quell the violence in the western region. In July, the UN Security Council approved a plan for 26 000 UN and AU peacekeepers to take over from a smaller and ineffective AU force currently operating in Darfur. Ban has said that the UN-AU force cannot be effective unless 'there is a peace to keep.'"

"U.N. to Press for Rapid Deployment of Darfur Peacekeeping Force"
Associated Press dispatch on, 3 September 2007
"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will press for speedy deployment of a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur and a quick start to new peace talks to end the four-year conflict there during his visit to Sudan starting Monday. Ban, who was greeted on his arrival in Khartoum by Sudanese Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Karti, plans to spend a day in Darfur and hold talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. 'I want to create the foundations of a lasting peace and security,' Ban told reporters last week. 'My goal is to lock in the progress we have made so far, to build on it so that this terrible trauma may one day cease.' Reaching that goal will be difficult: Darfur is a vast and complex region where peace agreements and cease-fires have been ignored, lawlessness has increased, and more than a dozen rebel groups and government forces are still fighting. Nonetheless, the secretary-general said he chose this time to make the weeklong trip -- which also will include stops in Chad and Libya -- because of the 'historic opportunity' provided by the U.N. Security Council's adoption of a resolution on July 31. It authorizes a 26,000-strong joint force from the African Union and the United Nations to replace the beleaguered 7,000-strong AU mission now in Darfur by December 31. The resolution was adopted after months of delay in getting agreement from the Sudanese government, and Ban said he wants to test the government's commitment to speedy deployment of the 'hybrid' AU-U.N. force. [...]"


"Anatomy of a Start-Up Antigenocide Charity"
By Jina Moore
The Christian Science Monitor, 11 September 2007
"[...] [Chris] Hanis isn't prone to fashion statements -- he went seven years until his first new suit, bought in a three-for-one deal at an outlet store -- but peacekeeping has taken over his life. He's the 25-year-old executive director of an antigenocide organization he never expected to found. 'At every step, we thought we would hand it off to experts or other people who must be doing this already. But every time, there wasn't someone there to pick up the ball,' Hanis says. 'So we just kept doing it.' Now, his job is to make a permanent fixture inside the Beltway out of a grass-roots group that wants to end genocide. It's too early to know whether he'll succeed in the long haul, but Hanis has shepherded his group through a nonprofit's shakiest years, with a mission most people said was impossible. In the fall of his senior year, when the first African Union soldiers arrived in Sudan's Darfur to protect civilians fleeing violence, Hanis read that they traveled from aid group to aid group, hats in hand, asking for help to buy boots. Appalled, he started the Genocide Intervention Network (GI-Net) to raise money for the soldiers – something like the notion of holding a bake sale for NATO. Hanis promised donors that their money would help the good guys (the African Union soldiers) protect the innocent from the bad guys (the janjaweed militias, allied to the Sudanese government, who burned homes and killed villagers). This moral discernment makes GI-Net different from traditional humanitarian organizations, which feed and clothe people caught up in conflict, without judging any side as wrong. Hanis thinks that misses the point in cases like Darfur, which the US has labeled genocide. 'Genocide is not a humanitarian crisis,' he says. 'You can't throw rice at gunships bombing villages.' Many told Hanis his idea was naive. But in just four months, he'd raised a quarter of a million dollars. This was in the spring of 2005, before Darfur became a cause du jour -- before George Clooney and Mia Farrow, before Panties for Peace or Timberland boots with "Stomp Out Genocide" soles. This was before Hanis himself imagined his idea going national, with 10,000 members and a $3 million budget. [...]"


"UN Adopts Historic Statement on Native Rights"
By Haider Rizvi, 14 September 2007
"Despite strong objections from the United States and some of its allies, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday calling for the recognition of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and control over their lands and resources. The adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples comes after 22 years of diplomatic negotiations at the United Nations involving its member states, international civil society groups, and representatives of the world's aboriginal communities. An overwhelming majority of UN member countries endorsed the Declaration, with 143 voting in favor, 4 against, and 11 abstaining. The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand stood alone in voting against the resolution. The nations that neither supported nor objected were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Samoa, and Ukraine. 'It's a triumph for indigenous peoples around the world,' said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the General Assembly vote. 'This marks a historic moment when member states and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories.' In her comments, General Assembly President Haya Al Khalifa described the outcome of the vote as a 'major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.' [...]"
[n.b. This is a massive moment in the recognition of indigenous rights worldwide, and Canada's shameful failure to sign on marks it, with its three fellow dissidents, as a rogue state on this issue.]

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