Sunday, October 28, 2007

Genocide Studies Media File
October 6-28, 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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"Torture Center To Bear Witness"
By Monte Reel
The Washington Post (on, 15 October 2007
"The rubber tip of Victor Basterra's cane bounced from one photo to another, pointing out the faces that elicit the most vivid memories from his encounters with them in this same building more than 25 years ago. Basterra was a prisoner here at the Navy Mechanics School, the largest and most notorious political detention center used by the military dictatorship that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. The navy finally moved out at the end of last month, allowing workers to begin transforming the 40-acre campus into the country's first comprehensive human rights memorial recalling that era and its lingering consequences. 'This guy beat me,' he said, pointing to one of the black-and-white head shots of ex-military officials displayed on a mural inside one of the buildings. 'And this guy beat me a lot. That one there was the boss.' Basterra snapped the pictures himself while detained here from 1979 to 1982. The officers put him to work developing snapshots of them for false identification documents, he said. But he secretly made copies of their photos as well as those of some of his fellow detainees. Some of the smuggled photos are the only evidence proving that certain prisoners, who were never seen again, had been held by the military. The continuing relevance of those photos -- as well as much of the other physical evidence remaining from the era -- has rarely been more obvious: Not only will they be important holdings for the new museum; they will also be key exhibits in upcoming trials for crimes that occurred at the Navy School. [...]"


"Cambodian FM Appeals for KRouge Tribunal Funds"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 25 October 2007
"Cambodia's foreign minister urged donors to continue funding the country's genocide trials, saying Thursday that more arrests were imminent, but the court risked running out of money. The UN-backed tribunal established to try former leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime 'could have budget shortages in the near future,' Hor Namhong told reporters. He said the tribunal, which opened last year and was scheduled to last three years, could now extend through 2010. Officials say the court, budgeted at 56.3 million dollars, has enough money to remain operational through the beginning of 2008 but that a major fund-raising campaign would be necessary. The international community is funding most of the proceedings, but might be reluctant to spend more money following allegations of corruption and audits that uncovered hiring flaws and financial mismanagement. 'Donors who have been most generous in the past will have a difficult time giving more funding ... unless the administrative issues are fixed,' said US Ambassador to Cambodia Joseph Mussomeli. He added that a review of these shortcomings would play heavily into Washington's decision whether to help fund the tribunal. The US currently does not provide any direct aid. [...]"

"Out From Behind a Camera at a Khmer Torture House"
By Seth Mydans
The New York Times, 26 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"He had a job to do, and he did it supremely well, under threat of death, within earshot of screams of torture: methodically photographing Khmer Rouge prisoners and producing a haunting collection of mug shots that has become the visual symbol of Cambodia’s mass killings. Before killing the prisoners, the Khmer Rouge photographed, tortured and extracted written confessions from their victims. 'I'm just a photographer; I don't know anything,' he said he told the newly arrived prisoners as he removed their blindfolds and adjusted the angles of their heads. But he knew, as they did not, that every one of them would be killed. 'I had my job, and I had to take care of my job,' he said in a recent interview. 'Each of us had our own responsibilities. I wasn't allowed to speak with prisoners.' That was three decades ago, when the photographer, Nhem En, now 47, was on the staff of Tuol Sleng prison, the most notorious torture house of the Khmer Rouge regime, which caused the deaths of 1.7 million people from 1975 to 1979. This week he was called to be a witness at a coming trial of Khmer Rouge leaders, including his commandant at the prison, Kaing Geuk Eav, known as Duch, who has been arrested and charged with crimes against humanity. The trial is still months away, but prosecutors are interviewing witnesses, reviewing tens of thousands of pages of documents and making arrests. As a lower-ranking cadre at the time, Mr. Nhem En is not in jeopardy of arrest. But he is in a position to offer some of the most personal testimony at the trial about the man he worked under for three years. [...]"


"DRC Militia Chief to Face War-Crimes Charges"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 18 October 2007
"The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Thursday transferred a militia chief to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to face war-crimes charges, including sexual enslavement and using child soldiers. Germain Katanga (29), who once led the Forces for Patriotic Resistance in Ituri (FRPI), was flown out of Kinshasa early on Thursday, a senior ICC official in the capital said. Katanga, whose forces operated in the north-east Ituri region, was arrested in DRC in 2005. He faces three charges relating to crimes against humanity and six relating to war crimes. He is accused of murder, sexual enslavement and forcing children younger than 15 years to fight as soldiers, as well as leading attacks that deliberately targeted the civilian population, and of pillage. ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo presented the charges in sealed documents in June of this year, said the official. 'The warrant was issued on July 2 and executed overnight with the collaboration of the Congolese courts,' he added. The ICC was created five years ago as the world's first permanent war-crimes court, but has yet to conduct a single trial. Another Congolese warlord, Thomas Lubanga, was transferred to the ICC last year. After Lubanga, Katanga is only the second war-crimes suspect to be transferred into ICC custody. Katanga was taken from Kinshasa central prison and flown out from Ndjili International Airport at 1am local time on a civilian aircraft chartered by the ICC. The FRPI was set up at the end of 2002 with the support of neighbouring Uganda. Its members, from the Lendu and Ngiti ethnic groups, are suspected of having taken part in massacres of another ethnic group, the Hema. [...]"


"Rape Epidemic Raises Trauma of Congo War"
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times (on, 7 October 2007
"Denis Mukwege, a Congolese gynecologist, cannot bear to listen to the stories his patients tell him anymore. Every day, 10 new women and girls who have been raped show up at his hospital. Many have been so sadistically attacked from the inside out, butchered by bayonets and assaulted with chunks of wood, that their reproductive and digestive systems are beyond repair. 'We don't know why these rapes are happening, but one thing is clear,' said Dr. Mukwege, who works in South Kivu Province, the epicenter of Congo's rape epidemic. 'They are done to destroy women.' Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country. 'The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,' said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. 'The sheer numbers, the wholesale brutality, the culture of impunity -- it's appalling.' The days of chaos in Congo were supposed to be over. Last year, this country of 66 million people held a historic election that cost $500 million and was intended to end Congo's various wars and rebellions and its tradition of epically bad government. But the elections have not unified the country or significantly strengthened the Congolese government's hand to deal with renegade forces, many of them from outside the country. The justice system and the military still barely function, and United Nations officials say Congolese government troops are among the worst offenders when it comes to rape. Large swaths of the country, especially in the east, remain authority-free zones where civilians are at the mercy of heavily armed groups who have made warfare a livelihood and survive by raiding villages and abducting women for ransom. [...]"


"To Compete, Iranian State TV Adapts"
By Nazila Fathi
The New York Times, 16 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"Iran is bending its religious restrictions on television series in an effort to attract more of the country's audience to state-run television. Hassan Fatthi, the director of the series, talks with the French actress Nathalie Matti on the set. State TV, which had a monopoly on viewership until satellite channels began to draw more viewers beginning in the early 1990s, has been trying to win back its audience for several years. One result: a spate of mini-series that depict love stories between characters who are not necessarily pious, and that allow women to show more of their hair -- both of which have been considered un-Islamic. Analysts say the new programs are part of the government's bid to use television as a more effective instrument to shape public opinion. Most series still have clear political messages, though they are conveyed with much more subtlety than in the past. ... One popular mini-series, called 'Zero Degree Turn,' depicts the Iranian Embassy in Paris during World War II, when employees forged Iranian passports for European Jews to flee to Iran. The series is built around a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian man and a Jewish Frenchwoman he helps escape to Iran. Scenes of terrified Jewish men, women and children being loaded into trucks by Nazis are arousing feelings of sympathy for Jews at a time when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust. But the series has a more subtle message: that there is a difference between Jews and Zionists. One Jewish character, the uncle of the Frenchwoman who escapes to Iran, is depicted as brutal and manipulative. He has ties to Israel. State-run television hired a prominent director, Hassan Fatthi, who shot the scenes, many in Paris and Budapest, in lavish settings. Women appear without Iran’s obligatory head scarf and the ankle-length Islamic coat, in a nod to life in Europe in the 1940s. [...]"
[n.b. Included just for this snippet about the "Zero Degree Turn" program. It certainly runs counter -- as does much else -- to more monochromatic depictions of attitudes towards Jews in Iran and the Muslim world in general.]


"The Iraqi Genocide"
By Paul Craig Roberts, 16 October 2007
"Why has not the Turkish parliament given tit for tat and passed a resolution condemning the Iraqi Genocide? As a result of Bush's invasion of Iraq, more than one million Iraqis have died, and several millions are displaced persons. The Iraqi death toll and the millions of uprooted Iraqis match the Armenian deaths and deportations. If one is a genocide, so is the other. It is true that most of the Iraqi deaths have resulted from Iraqis killing one another. But it was Bush's destruction of the secular Iraqi state that unleashed the sectarian strife. Moreover, American troops in Iraq have killed more civilians than insurgents. The US military in Iraq has fallen for every bit of disinformation fed to it by Al Qaeda personnel posing as 'informants' and by Sunnis setting up Shi'ites and Shi'ites setting up Sunnis. As a result, American bombs and missiles have blown up weddings, funerals, kids playing soccer, and people shopping in bazaars and sleeping in their homes. Not to be outdone, Bush's private Waffen SS known as Blackwater Security has taken to gunning Iraqi civilians down in the streets. How do Blackwater and Custer Battles killers escape the 'unlawful combatant' designation? One can only marvel at the insouciance of the US Congress to the current Iraqi Genocide while condemning Turkey for one that happened 90 years ago. People seldom see the beam in their own eye, only the mote in the eyes of others. Every member of the Bush Regime is busily at work denouncing Iran for causing instability in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the US has invaded two countries, throwing them into total chaos, while beating the drums for war with Iran and conspiring with Israel to invade Lebanon and to attack Syria. The indisputable facts are that the US and Israel have attacked four Middle East countries and are determined to attack a fifth. Yet, it is peaceful Iran, at war with no one, that Bush and Israel blame for causing instability in the Middle East. [...]"


"'Genocide' Talk Tests Israel-Turkey Ties"
By Ilene R. Prusher
The Christian Science Monitor, 29 October 2007
"[...] A congressional resolution recognizing the mass killing of Armenians in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire as a genocide was tabled late last week amid intense domestic and international pressure. Much of that pressure came not just from Turkey but from Israel. While some American Jewish groups had taken up the cause of the Armenian genocide, the Jewish State was busy lobbying on behalf of their Turkish allies, rare friends in the Muslim world who maintain both military and economic ties with Israel. Turkey, the first Muslim country to recognize Israel, has long rejected the idea that the killings of Armenians should be called a genocide. They say that many Turks, as well as Armenians, were killed at the time. The Israeli stance -- following an Oct. 10 House committee vote in favor of passing a genocide resolution -- prompted the first protest of its kind by this country's usually apolitical Armenian Orthodox community, which numbers about 5,000, not including approximately 20,000 Jewish Armenians who have immigrated here over the years. With Israel's strategic relationship with Turkey in mind, the Armenian question has become an untouchable topic. The protest went virtually uncovered by most of the local media and got noticed by foreign papers only. [...]"


"World War II Mass Graves Open a Wound in Slovenia"
Reuters dispatch in the International Herald Tribune, 22 October 2007
"After digging for two hours in a chilly forest clearing, the workers had their evidence: bones and the soil-covered, blackened remnant of a shoe confirmed that this was a secret mass grave from World War II. In the trees a short distance from where the diggers worked, an elderly man looked on. He would not give his name, but said he was at the same spot when he was 16, one morning in 1945, after he heard shouting in the night. The Lancovo grave is one target of a Slovenian government program to help people come to terms with a hidden legacy of unprecedented slaughter during the war. So far, 540 such sites have been registered across Slovenia. They are believed to hold up to 100,000 bodies. 'The killings that took place here have no comparison in Europe. In two months after the war, more people were killed here than in the four years of war,' said Joze Dezman, a historian who heads the committee for registering hidden graves. 'Srebrenica is like an innocent case compared to that,' he said, referring to the Bosnia Serb Army's killing in 1995 of about 8,000 displaced Muslim civilians in Bosnia, their corpses bulldozed into the earth. Those killed in Slovenia were mostly soldiers who collaborated with the Nazis. Most were slain in the woods without trial. They were victims of a vengeful killing spree by partisans of the Yugoslav leader after British-led Allied troops turned them back from Austria and handed them over. Slovenia, now a European Union country of two million people, declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but the graves remained a public secret until excavations in recent years. 'These killings took place in Slovenia because this is where the war was ending: this is where the Iron Curtain was anticipated, this is where refugees found themselves at the end of the war,' Dezman said. The graves' existence has been quietly known for decades, but some elderly people are still too afraid of reprisals to speak about them. In Lancovo, the anonymous onlooker shared a distant memory of what he saw as a youth. [...]"


"Spain Extradites Austrian Author for Holocaust Denial"
Associated Press dispatch in The Jerusalem Post, 4 October 2007
"A right-wing Austrian author convicted of neo-Nazi activities was extradited Thursday from Spain to serve a prison sentence for denying the existence of the Holocaust and claiming the Nazis never used gas chambers. Gerd Honsik, 65, was flown from Madrid to Vienna late Thursday to serve out an 18-month prison sentence stemming from his 1992 conviction, public broadcaster ORF said. He also may face new charges, as authorities said they believed he had committed more offenses since Austria enacted a landmark law in 1992 making it a crime to deny the Holocaust or promote Nazi propaganda. Honsik was arrested Aug. 23 in the southern Spanish city of Malaga on a Europol warrant issued by the Vienna public prosecutor's office. He had fled to Spain after his 1992 conviction for writings that defended Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. A judge was to rule within 48 hours on whether Hosnik would be placed in preliminary detention, said Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesman for the public prosecutor's office, according to the Austria Press Agency. Jarosch said it was not likely Hosnik would be freed. Austrian Justice Minister Maria Berger expressed 'great joy over the effectiveness of the European arrest warrant in dealing directly with neo-Nazis,' according to a statement. Between 1986 and 1989, Honsik published writings disputing that the Nazis killed hundreds of thousands of Jews at Auschwitz and other concentration camps during World War II. ... Austria's law making it a crime to deny the Holocaust applies to 'whoever denies, grossly plays down, approves or tries to excuse the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity in a print publication, in broadcast or other media.' The crime is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. [...]"


"Cheadle Documentary Brings Attention to Darfur Genocide"
By Ethan Sacks
The New York Daily News, 28 October 2007
"Don Cheadle had no trouble giving a convincing performance in his latest movie. He stars as himself. Cheadle is one of the subjects of the documentary 'Darfur Now,' which the 42-year-old actor hopes will draw attention to the genocide in Sudan that has killed an estimated 200,000 civilians and displaced 2.2 million more. 'I do think that it's unfortunate that it does take quote unquote celebrity to bring attention to this,' says Cheadle. 'This is the 21st century's first genocide, and it's happening right now and that's not enough to lead off [the newscasts]? That still has to go behind Britney losing the kids to Kevin Federline and Paris Hilton going to jail and America's Next Top Model and So You Think You Can Dance?' Filmed from January to May of this year, 'Darfur Now' -- which Cheadle co-produced with 'Crash' producer Cathy Schulman -- follows six people around the world who are trying to help end the three-year civil war. For his part, Cheadle joined fellow 'Ocean's Eleven' star George Clooney to meet with government officials in China and Egypt to lobby the Sudan's two biggest trading partners to step in. 'Hopefully, people, if they're inspired, will realize that they can do something more than nothing,' says Cheadle. [...]"

"In Southern Darfur, Signs of Another Massacre"
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, 17 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"African Union and United Nations officials are looking into reports of a new massacre in Darfur, in which witnesses described government troops and their allied militias killing more than 30 civilians, slitting the throats of several men praying at a mosque and shooting a 5-year-old boy in the back as he tried to run away. According to several residents of Muhagiriya, a small town in southern Darfur, two columns of uniformed government troops, along with dozens of militiamen not in uniform, surrounded the town around noon on Oct. 8 and stormed the market. Muhagiriya was a stronghold of one of Darfur's many rebel factions, but witnesses said there were few rebels there at the time and that government forces turned their guns -- and knives -- on civilians. Ayoub Jalal, a mechanic, said his father was praying at a mosque when soldiers burst in. 'They dragged my father and the others out of the mosque and slashed their throats,' said Mr. Jalal, who was interviewed by telephone. Both the United Nations and the African Union said that dozens of civilians had been killed and that witnesses consistently identified the attackers as government soldiers and allied gunmen. However, neither entity said it could independently verify who was responsible. The Sudanese government denied any involvement, but witnesses said uniformed troops methodically mowed down anyone who tried to escape, including a group of fleeing children. ... The viciousness of the attack, as described by the witnesses and corroborated by humanitarian organizations working in the area, seemed reminiscent of the early days of the conflict in Darfur, when government troops and allied militias slaughtered thousands of civilians, according to human rights groups. But Muhagiriya may be symptomatic of a larger problem happening now as many of Darfur’s armed groups -- rebels, Arab militias and even the Sudanese military -- rush to seize territory before a major peace conference later this month. [...]"

"Army Accused of Razing Darfur Town"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 9 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"A town in Darfur near the African Union peacekeeper base that was attacked last month has been razed and 7,000 residents have fled, according to a United Nations and African Union delegation that visited it on Saturday. The joint observation team did not say who was responsible for the destruction, but Suleiman Jamous, a humanitarian coordinator for the Sudan Liberation Army, one of the rebel factions in Darfur, said the Sudanese Army had attacked the town, Haskanita, and that about 100 people had been killed -- an accusation the Sudanese military denied. The observer mission said only a mosque and school in Haskanita remained standing. The attack on the African Union base, on Sept. 29, which left 10 peacekeepers dead, underscored the chaotic nature of the conflict in the Darfur region in western Sudan, where rebels have splintered into many competing factions and the Arab militias aligned with the government have turned on one another. Other rebel commanders reported Monday that the government was bombarding Muhagiriya, a town in southern Darfur that is controlled by rebels who signed a peace agreement with the government last year. The United Nations and the African Union are preparing to hold peace talks in Libya beginning Oct. 27 aimed at brokering a deal between the rebel factions and the Sudanese government. A force led by the United Nations and the African Union is scheduled to begin deploying as negotiators begin their push for a deal. At the United Nations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the under secretary general for peacekeeping, said the force had received substantial offers of infantry troops and engineering units, but lacked helicopters and trucks, which he described as crucial. 'If you want to ensure the protection of civilians, you need that mobility, you need the capacity to transport troops quickly to a place you hear there is some trouble developing,' he said. The United Nations special envoy for Darfur, Jan Eliasson, is in Darfur this week to try to lay the groundwork for the peace talks. [...]"


"A Priest Methodically Reveals Ukrainian Jews' Fate"
By Elaine Sciolino
The New York Times, 6 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"His subjects were mostly children and teenagers at the time, terrified witnesses to mass slaughter. Some were forced to work at the bottom rung of the Nazi killing machine -- as diggers of mass graves, cooks who fed Nazi soldiers and seamstresses who mended clothes stripped from the Jews before execution. 'I cannot react to the horrors that pour out. If I react, the stories will stop.' They live today in rural poverty, many without running water or heat, nearing the end of their lives. So Patrick Desbois has been quietly seeking them out, roaming the back roads and forgotten fields of Ukraine, hearing their stories and searching for the unmarked common graves. He knows that they are an unparalleled source to document the murder of the 1.5 million Jews of Ukraine, shot dead and buried throughout the country. He is neither a historian nor an archaeologist, but a French Roman Catholic priest. And his most powerful tools are his matter-of-fact style -- and his clerical collar. The Nazis killed nearly 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine after their invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. But with few exceptions, most notably the 1941 slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews in the Babi Yar ravine in Kiev, much of that history has gone untold. Knocking on doors, unannounced, Father Desbois, 52, seeks to unlock the memories of Ukrainian villagers the way he might take confessions one by one in church. ... Over four years, Father Desbois has videotaped more than 700 interviews with witnesses and bystanders and has identified more than 600 common graves of Jews, most of them previously unknown. He also has gathered material evidence of the execution of Jews from 1941 to 1944, the 'Holocaust of bullets' as it is called. Often his subjects ask Father Desbois to stay for a meal and to pray, as if to somehow bless their acts of remembrance. He does not judge those who were assigned to carry out tasks for the Nazis, and Holocaust scholars say that is one reason he is so effective. [...]"


"Genocide Bill Backers Willing to Wait"
United Press International dispatch, 26 October 2007
"Supporters of a U.S. bill recognizing the deaths 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 as genocide said they were willing to wait to push the bill forward. Backers of the bill sent a letter of U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Thursday saying 'we believe that a large majority of our colleagues want to support a resolution recognizing the genocide on the House floor and that they will do so, provided the times is more favorable,' The New York Times is quoting. Pelosi is a long-time supporter of the bill. Her constituent base in California is home to one of the largest concentrations of Armenia diaspora in the United States. The bill, drafted largely by California Democrats, was withdrawn amid concerns the bill would harm diplomatic relations between the United State and Turkey -- a key ally in the U.S.-led effort in Iraq. The Turkish government launched its own lobbying initiative protesting the characterization of the 1915 episodes as genocide. The campaign against the bill focused more on questioning the need to rile Turkey when its value as a strategic ally was at its apex then the declaration of genocide. [...]"

"'There Was No Armenian Genocide'"
By Orhan Tung
New Statesman, 23 October 2007
"[...] Contrary to the Armenian allegations, in fact, there is no consensus among the historians and legal experts to qualify the events of 1915 as 'genocide.' There is a legitimate historical controversy concerning the interpretation of the events in question and most of the scholars who have propounded a contra genocide viewpoint are of the highest calibre and repute, including Bernard Lewis, Stanford Shaw, David Fromkin, Justin McCarthy, Guenther Lewy, Norman Stone, Kamuran Gürün, Michael Gunter, Gilles Veinstein, Andrew Mango, Roderic Davidson, J.C. Hurwitz, William Batkay, Edward J. Erickson and Steven Katz. This is by no means an exhaustive list. A good number of well-respected scholars recognize the deportation decision in 1915, taken under World War I conditions, as a security measure to stop the Armenians from co-operating with the foreign forces invading Anatolia. On the legal aspect, the elements of the genocide crime are strictly defined and codified by the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Genocide, adopted by the General Assembly on 9 December 1948. However, Armenians, claiming that "the evidence is so overwhelming", so far have failed to submit even one credible evidence of genocide. [...]"
[n.b. The author is Press Counsellor at the Turkish Embassy in Britain.]

"Support Wanes in House for Genocide Vote"
By Carl Hulse
The New York Times, 17 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"Worried about antagonizing Turkish leaders, House members from both parties have begun to withdraw their support from a resolution backed by the Democratic leadership that would condemn as genocide the mass killings of Armenians nearly a century ago. Almost a dozen lawmakers had shifted against the measure in a 24-hour period ending Tuesday night, accelerating a sudden exodus that has cast deep doubt over the measure's prospects. Some made clear that they were heeding warnings from the White House, which has called the measure dangerously provocative, and from the Turkish government, which has said House passage would prompt Turkey to reconsider its ties to the United States, including logistical support for the Iraq war. Until Tuesday, the measure appeared on a path to House passage, with strong support from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It was approved last week by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. But by Tuesday evening, a group of senior House Democrats had made it known that they were planning to ask the leadership to drop plans for a vote on the measure. 'Turkey obviously feels they are getting poked in the eye over something that happened a century ago and maybe this isn't a good time to be doing that,' said Representative Allen Boyd, a Florida Democrat who dropped his sponsorship of the resolution on Monday night. Others who took the same action said that, while they deplored the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire, the modern-day consequences in the Middle East could not be overlooked. 'We simply cannot allow the grievances of the past, as real as they may be, to in any way derail our efforts to prevent further atrocities for future history books,' said Representative Wally Herger, Republican of California. [...]"

"U.S. Genocide Move Reopens Old Wounds in Turkey"
By Gareth Jones
Reuters dispatch, 16 October 2007
"A symbolic declaration about events 92 years ago might seem of little but academic interest, but to Turks a text now before the U.S. Congress is so sensitive that they are ready to risk ties with their main strategic ally. The non-binding resolution, approved by Congress's Foreign Relations Committee last week and expected to be endorsed in November by the House of Representatives, brands as genocide the 1915 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks. NATO member Turkey has recalled its envoy to Washington for consultations and has hinted it might halt logistical support to U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan if the bill passes. It may also deny U.S. firms lucrative defense contracts. Most Turks view the bill as a hostile act that insults their national honor. The resolution also revives old Turkish fears of foreign meddling in its internal affairs. 'The Armenian issue is being used as a lever by those who want to hurt and undermine Turkey,' Murat Mercan, a senior lawmaker of the ruling AK Party, told Reuters, voicing a sentiment widely felt in this key NATO ally of Washington. 'We are proud of our history. We have nothing to hide. The fact we have opened our archives and have proposed a joint committee of historians from Turkey, Armenia and elsewhere to study the documents shows we are confident about our history.' If Congress passes the resolution, it will be following in the steps of many other foreign legislatures, including those of France, Russia, Greece and Canada. Each time, Turkey has reacted angrily, temporarily cutting trade, defense and other ties. But the Congress moves are especially hurtful to Ankara, already fuming over Washington's failure to tackle Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq. Turkey is now considering sending troops into Iraq to crush the rebels, despite U.S. opposition. [...]"

"Turkish Ambassador Recalled from US amid Fury at Genocide Claims"
By Suna Erdem
The Times, 12 October 2007
"Turkey recalled its ambassador from Washington last night amid national outrage at a US resolution accusing Ottoman Turks of genocide against Armenians. Ankara also raised the possibility of taking action against the United States, a Nato ally, including a review of America's right to use an airforce base in southeastern Turkey for operations in Iraq. Condemning a decision by a US House of Representatives committee to label the 1915 killings of up to 1.5 million Armenians as genocide, the Turkish Government described the move as 'irresponsible ... at a greatly sensitive time.' 'This is a decision taken by those who are unaware of Turkey's standing,' Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister, said. The resolution, approved by the Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to go to the House floor for a vote next month. Ankara rejects the claim that ethnic Armenians suffered genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915, countering that many Muslim Turks as well as Christian Armenians perished in the confusion of a collapsing empire. The Government said: 'It is unacceptable that the Turkish nation has been accused of something that never happened in history. The committee's approval of this resolution was an irresponsible move, which at a greatly sensitive time will make relations with a friend and ally, and a strategic partnership nurtured over generations, more difficult.' [...]"

"Time to Recognise the Armenian Genocide"
By Vahe Gabrielyan
New Statesman, 12 October 2007
"[...] Terms such as 'genocide' or 'ethnic cleansing' were not in circulation then, so Winston Churchill later referred to the 1915 massacre of 1.5 million Armenians as an 'administrative holocaust.' The Turkish authorities made no secret of the aim once it was achieved and other governments and nations have known the truth since. One of the early accounts of Armenian Genocide was published in 1916 in Britain. The British Government at the time commissioned James Bryce and Arnold Toynbee to compile evidence on the events in Armenia. The subsequent report was printed in the British Parliamentary Blue Book series 'The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916.' The report leaves no doubt about what was taking place. In 1915, thirty-three years before UN Genocide Convention was adopted, the Armenian Genocide was condemned by the international community as a crime against humanity. It is well acknowledged that Polish jurist Raphael Lemkin, when he coined the term genocide in 1944, cited the Turkish extermination of the Armenians and the Nazi extermination of the Jews as defining examples of what he meant by genocide. Amidst huge international pressure, the Turkish Government succeeding the Young Turks had not only to recognize the scale and vehemence of the atrocities but also to try the perpetrators in military tribunals and sentence the leaders to death. However, the sentences were not carried out and with the passage of time moods changed not only in Turkey but also in some countries, such as the UK, where Turkey is nowadays seen as a key alley. Still, even in countries that have not yet for some reason recognized the Genocide scholars have no doubts about the character of the events: they point out that there is no scholarly issue, only one of political expediency. [...]"
[n.b. The author is the Armenian Ambassador to Britain.]

"Turkey Criticizes House Bill on Genocide"
By C. Onurant
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 11 October 2007
"Turkey swiftly condemned a U.S. House panel's approval of a bill describing the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians as genocide, accusing the lawmakers Thursday of distorting history. The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the bill Wednesday despite intense lobbying by Turkish officials and opposition from President Bush. The vote was a triumph for well-organized Armenian-American interest groups who have lobbied Congress for decades to pass a resolution. Defense Secretary Robert Gates reiterated his opposition to the resolution Thursday, saying the measure could hurt relations at a time when U.S. forces in Iraq rely heavily on Turkish permission to use their airspace for U.S. air cargo flights. Relations are already strained by accusations that the U.S. is unwilling to help Turkey fight Kurdish rebels based in northern Iraq. About 70 percent of U.S. air cargo headed for Iraq goes through Turkey, as does about one-third of the fuel used by the U.S. military in Iraq. U.S. bases also get water and other supplies by land from Turkish truckers who cross into the northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan. Historians estimate up to 1.5 million Armenians were killed by Ottoman Turks around the time of World War I, an event widely viewed by genocide scholars as the first genocide of the 20th century. Turkey, however, denies the deaths constituted genocide, saying that the toll has been inflated and that those killed were victims of civil war and unrest. 'It is not possible to accept such an accusation of a crime which was never committed by the Turkish nation,' the Turkish government said Thursday. 'It is blatantly obvious that the House Committee on Foreign Affairs does not have a task or function to rewrite history by distorting a matter which specifically concerns the common history of Turks and Armenians.' [...]"

"Genocide Resolution Clears Hurdle amid Fierce Lobbying"
By Richard Simon
The Los Angeles Times, 11 October 2007
"The long struggle over formal U.S. recognition that the killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks was a genocide reached a turning point Wednesday, with a House committee calling on the president to 'accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide.' A divided House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the emotionally charged measure, despite fierce lobbying by Turkey and President Bush, who sternly warned that it would offend an important ally and harm U.S. security interests. Armenian groups in the United States have pressed for the resolution, while Turkish politicians have threatened to retaliate -- which could mean cutting off U.S. access to a crucial Turkish air base that is used to supply U.S. troops in Iraq. The bipartisan 27-21 vote came in a packed room that included four survivors of the World War I-era genocide, three in their 90s and one who was 102. 'Somebody's got to speak for the people I see in front of me,' Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) said in urging the resolution's passage. Congress has wrestled for years with the issue, which has been closely watched by Armenian Americans, many of whom live in California. This year, the resolution, which does not have to be approved by the president, appears to stand its best chance of passing. The resolution has 225 cosponsors in the House -- more than a majority and the most support it has ever received, according to its chief sponsor, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank). Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), who became House speaker with the Democratic takeover of Congress this year, has long championed the issue. The bill faces a tougher time in the Senate. It has the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), but it has drawn just 32 cosponsors, well short of the votes needed to pass. [...]"


"EU Lifting of Uzbek Travel Ban Greeted with Dismay"
By Claire Soares
The Independent, 17 October 2007
"Europe's leaders have been accused of putting economic and political interests ahead of human rights by suspending sanctions imposed on the leaders of gas-rich Uzbekistan after the Andijan massacre. EU foreign ministers agreed to lift travel restrictions against the Uzbek Defence Minister, Ruslan Mirzayev, the National Security chief, Rustam Inoyatov, and six others, saying it was 'with a view to encouraging the Uzbek authorities to take positive steps to improve the human rights situation.' Campaigners criticised that as false logic and said they were deeply disappointed by EU leaders caving in on the visa ban. Veronika Szente, the advocacy director of Europe and Central Asia for Human Rights Watch, said: 'It's a huge backtracking and, beyond the negative impact on human rights in Uzbekistan, it also seriously undermines the EU's own standing as a protector of human rights. This is happening in the broader context of the EU trying to deepen its co-operation with central Asia, including gas and oil.' Germany, which finds itself competing with China and Russia as it seeks to source more of its energy from central Asia and which has a military base in the southern Uzbek city of Termez, was the driving force behind the easing of sanctions. Britain, Sweden, Ireland and the Netherlands opposed the move but did not actively block the German initiative. The Andijan massacre shocked the world in May 2005 when Uzbek troops opened fire on unarmed men, women and children who had gathered in the town's main square for what turned into protests against the regime of President Islam Karimov. Hundreds died, according to witnesses, but the Uzbek authorities say 187 people were killed and that they were all guerrillas or 'terrorists.' [...]"


"Groups Tie Rumsfeld to Torture in Complaint"
By Doreen Carvajal
The New York Times, 27 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"Several human rights organizations based in the United States and Europe have filed a complaint in a Paris court accusing former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of responsibility for torture. The group, which includes the International Federation for Human Rights, the French League for Human Rights, and the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, made the complaint late Thursday and unsuccessfully sought to confront Mr. Rumsfeld as he left a breakfast meeting in central Paris on Friday. Jeanne Sulzer, one of the lawyers working on the issue for the human rights groups, said the complaint had been filed with a state prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, saying he would have the power to pursue the case because of Mr. Rumsfeld's presence in France. Similar legal complaints against Mr. Rumsfeld have been filed in other countries, including Sweden and Argentina. German prosecutors dismissed a case in April, saying it was up to the United States to investigate the accusations. The French complaint accuses Mr. Rumsfeld of authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and says it violated the Convention Against Torture, which came into force in 1987. As part of their complaint, the groups submitted 11 pages of written testimony from Janis Karpinski, the highest-ranking officer to be punished in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. She was demoted to colonel from brigadier general and lost command of her military police unit. She contended that the abuses at the prison had started after the appearance of Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, who was sent by Mr. Rumsfeld to assist military intelligence interrogators. Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said in a statement that the aim of this latest legal complaint was to demonstrate 'that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice. Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide.' [...]"

"The Gestapo Inheritance"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 23 October 2007
"[...] The parallels between our current 'enhanced interrogation techniques' and the Gestapo's have been researched and documented by the widely published libertarian Andrew Sullivan (, as well as by international human-rights lawyer Scott Horton, whom I consult often on treaties and laws that have been deep-sixed by the administration. Sullivan's website has links to other reports on these verschärfte parallels. He notes that the German lexicon of torture began in 1937, to be used 'only on Communists, Marxists, members of the Bible-researcher sect, saboteurs, terrorists, members of the resistance ... asocial persons, Polish or Soviet persons who refuse to work, or idlers.' The list is taken from a directive by a Gestapo chief, identified only as Muller. No marks were to be left on subjects (an instruction, as I've reported, that can also be found in certain orders to CIA interrogators). In 1948, Sullivan reports, there was a U.S.-run war-crimes trial in Norway prosecuting Nazis convicted of 'enhanced interrogation techniques' in the Second World War. The victims had been 'paramilitary Norwegians, operating as an insurgency, against an occupying force.' Various implements of torture were used, including 'cold baths and blows and kicks in the face and all over the body.' Previous Nazi records actually show that 'the use of hypothermia and waterboarding (both later authorized by Bush and Rumsfeld) were initially forbidden' by the Nazis -- but, Sullivan adds, 'historians have found that all the bureaucratic restrictions were eventually broken or abridged. Once you start torturing, it has a life of its own. At the Norwegian war-crimes trial, 'The Nazi defense of the [enhanced] techniques is almost verbatim that of the Bush administration: "The victims were not in uniform ... and the acts of torture in no case resulted in death."' ... Significantly, in the Norwegian war-crimes trial, Sullivan writes, 'The Court came to the conclusion that such acts, even though they were committed with the connivances of superiors in rank, or even on their orders, must be regarded and punished as serious war crimes.' [...]"

"U.S. Lawmakers Apologize to Arar"
By Tenille Bonoguore
The Globe and Mail, 18 October 2007
"His tale is infamous in Canada, a frightening account of kidnap, detention and torture in Syria enabled by U.S. security rules, and now Maher Arar has received an apology of sorts from the government that sent him there. At a U.S. joint house subcommittee probe into the Arar affair and the American policy of rendition, Democrat Bill Delahunt took the step so far ignored by the Bush government. 'Let me personally give you what our government has not: an apology,' Mr. Delahunt said as he opened the hearing. 'Let me apologize to you and the Canadian people for our government's role in a mistake.' Mr. Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian engineer, appeared via teleconference because he remains on a U.S. no-fly list. 'The American I hear about and see today is not the one I lived in and admire when I lived there [from 1999 to 2001],' Mr. Arar said at the start of his testimony. He told the committee of being stopped at JFK Airport in New York when returning from an overseas trip on Sept. 26, 2002; of being taken into custody by Homeland Security agenst and refused either phone calls or access to a lawyer. In a clear, strong voice he spoke of his fear -- expressed repeatedly to U.S. officials -- that should he be sent to Syria he would be tortured. He was sent anyway. And he spoke of being imprisoned for over a year in an underground cell, taken out only for torture and interrogation. During breaks, he said, he would be left to hear the sounds of other tortures. 'The cries of the women still haunt me the most,' Mr. Arar said. [...]"

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