Sunday, November 25, 2007

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

Genocide Studies Media File
November 14-25, 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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"Corruption, Bribes and Trafficking: A Cancer That is Engulfing Afghanistan"
By Anthony Loyd
The Times, 24 November 2007
"[...] Governmental corruption in Afghanistan has become endemic and bribes to secure police and administrative positions along provincial drug routes is an established procedure. 'The British public would be up in arms if they knew that the district appointments in the south for which British soldiers are dying are there just to protect drug routes,' said one analyst. Western and Afghan officials are also alarmed at how narco-kleptocracy has extended its grip around President Karzai, a figure regarded by some as increasingly isolated by a cadre of corrupt officials. ... The Ministry of Interior, key to establishing security in the country, remains the worst offender. Disaffected police officers have named, to The Times, General Azzam, recently appointed Chief of Operations after his stint as Chief of Staff, and his deputy General Reshad as the prime recipients of bribes. ... Even the lowlier posts in provinces free of poppy traffic have a price. 'To buy a position as a detective in any province you pay $10,000,' explained one police colonel, now on indefinite leave because he refused to pay a bribe. 'Then you pay your superior a cut of the money you make through bribes or trafficking.' One former governor told The Times that every judge in his province had been corrupt. He claimed there were cases of the police handing detainees to the Taleban, or helping to transport Taleban commanders from one province to another. 'The Government has essentially collapsed,' he said. 'It has lost its meaning in the provinces, it has lost the security situation and lost its grip on civil servants. Corruption is playing havoc with the country.' The international community has played its own part in contributing to the crisis. One analyst in Kabul said: 'It's not Afghan culture. It's a culture of impunity. We created it. We came in in 2001 with cases of cash and made certain people untouchables.' [...]"
[n.b. Hardly surprising, under these circumstances, that the Taliban is rapidly returning to power -- see following story.]

"Taliban Control Half of Afghanistan, Says Report"
The Telegraph, 23 November 2007
"The Taliban has a permanent presence in most of Afghanistan and the country is in serious danger of falling into the group's hands, according to a report from an international think tank. The Senlis Council claimed that the insurgents controlled 'vast swathes of unchallenged territory' and were gaining 'more and more political legitimacy in the minds of the Afghan people.' It said that the Nato force in the country needed to be doubled to 80,000 front-line soldiers who should be allowed to pursue militants into Pakistan. The 110-page report said that its 'exclusive' research found the Taliban controlled 54 per cent of Afghanistan. It calculated that Nato countries should contribute 2.3 soldiers per £500 million of their GDP to provide 71,000 soldiers, with 9,000 additional troops coming from Muslim nations. ... The report said: 'It is a sad indictment of the current state of Afghanistan that the question now appears to be not if the Taliban will return to Kabul, but when this will happen and in what form. The oft-stated aim of reaching the city in 2008 appears more viable than ever and it is incumbent upon the international community to implement a new strategic paradigm for Afghanistan before time runs out.' [...]"


"Bosnia Grave Had More Than 600 Victims"
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 23 November 2007 [Registration Required]
"Forensic experts finished exhumation work on a mass grave in eastern Bosnia and found the remains of more than 600 Bosnian Muslims killed by Serb forces at Srebrenica, officials said Friday. The site was the ninth mass grave discovered in the village of Kamenica. Of the remains from 616 bodies found in the grave, only 76 bodies were found intact, said Fatima Hadzibeganovic, a prosecutor in the city of Tuzla, where the exhumation team is from. The team had been working at the grave for a month before exhuming all the remains. It will takes years to identify them through DNA tests. There was evidence that the remains had been moved from one burial site to another to try to hide the crime, officials said. Experts call them 'secondary mass graves' and they are particularly difficult to work on because heavy equipment including bulldozers were usually used to move bodies from one grave to another. Parts from a single body are sometimes found in different mass graves. Hadzibeganovic said the team working on the latest grave in Kamenica also found bullets, bindings around the victims' arms and eyes, and documents indicating the victims were killed in the Srebrenica massacre, which was Europe's worst mass killing since World War II. In 1995, Serb troops overran the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica, which the United Nations had declared a safe zone, and killed as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Forensics teams have been uncovering mass graves throughout Bosnia in recent years, collecting the remains and extracting DNA to be matched with relatives. Once a match is found, the body is returned to the family for burial. Of the remains from 3,500 bodies of Srebrenica victims exhumed so far, 2,500 have been identified through DNA. Of those identified, 2,000 were buried in a cemetery in the Srebrenica suburb of Potocari and the remaining 500 were buried elsewhere. Another 5,000 bags with remains of victims found in nearly 60 mass graves in eastern Bosnia were still waiting to be identified before being returned to their families."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Khmer Rouge Jailer in Court's First Public Hearing"
By Ek Madra
Reuters dispatch, 20 November 2007
"Chief Khmer Rouge interrogator Duch stood before the U.N.-backed 'Killing Fields' tribunal on Tuesday, the first public appearance by a senior Pol Pot cadre at the court investigating Cambodia's genocide. The grey-haired ex-commandant of the S-21 interrogation centre, now 66, sat impassively in the dock as prosecutors read out allegations of torture during a televised bail hearing. 'Many people were brutally tortured and killed. They were killed with electric shocks, their finger nails were pulled off and they were beaten,' co-prosecutor Chea Leang told the court. 'Those acts at S-21 were done under the orders of the suspect,' she said, arguing that Duch might try to flee the country if he were released on bail. Duch, also known as Kaing Guek Eav, is appealing against his detention last July when he was charged with crimes against humanity by the joint court set up to prosecute 'those most responsible' for the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge reign of terror, one of the darkest chapters of the 20th century. His appearance at the specially built court on the outskirts of Phnom Penh was a significant step for the tribunal, officials said, after a decade of delays caused by wrangling over jurisdiction and cash. 'Today is a milestone event in the history of the extraordinary chamber,' said Peter Foster, spokesman for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, as the tribunal probing the 1.7 million deaths of the Khmer Rouge era is called. [...]"

"Khmer Rouge Leader Is Arrested"
By Seth Mydans
The New York Times, 20 November 2007 [Registration Required]
"The former Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan was taken from a hospital here and arrested today, the last of five top leaders targeted by prosecutors in advance of trials expected to begin next year. An urbane, French-educated leftist intellectual, Khieu Samphan, 76, had been living quietly in a remote town that was once a stronghold of the Khmer Rouge regime. The Khmer Rouge government was responsible for the deaths of 1.7 million people from torture, executions, starvation and the exhaustion of forced labor in the years between 1975 and 1979. Khieu Samphan was brought to a hospital in Phnom Penh, the capital, last Wednesday after suffering an apparent stroke. Witnesses said that today he was supported on both sides by the officers who escorted him to a police car after being arrested. The special international tribunal, which has been set up with the assistance of the United Nations to bring the Khmer Rouge leadership to justice, said in a statement: 'An initial appearance will be held today during which he will be informed of the charges which have been brought against him.' He was to join three other members of the Khmer Rouge central committee as well as the commandant of Tuol Sleng prison, the most notorious torture house of the Khmer Rouge regime, in a detention facility at the tribunal’s headquarters on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The commandant of the torture house, Kaing Guek Eav, 64, known as Duch, was due to appear at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday, the first appearance in open court of any Khmer Rouge figure for the crimes of the 1970s. A close confidant of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader who died in 1998, since their student days in France, Khieu Samphan has denied responsibility for the Khmer Rouge’s acts, saying he only learned of the atrocities committed by his regime when he saw a documentary about Tuol Sleng in 2003. [...]


"Canada's Inuit Facing 'Cultural Genocide,' Says Arctic Expert"
By Kathryn Young
CanWest News Service dispatch on, 23 November 2007
"Some Inuit believe climate change could bring about a 'cultural genocide' as their hunting way of life melts with the sea ice, an Arctic expert told a breakfast meeting of parliamentarians on Thursday. 'There's a cultural genocide implied,' said Franklyn Griffiths, a retired University of Toronto political science professor and expert on Arctic and Russian affairs. 'That is my phrase, not something they'd use.' With climate change, the physical basis for Inuit culture will disappear, he said in an interview later. 'They won't be able to practise a hunting culture at all.' Griffiths traveled extensively throughout the Arctic last spring to interview Inuit hunters and elders about their attitudes on climate change. A small but strong minority is concerned climate change will kill the traditional Inuit way of life - based on hunting and fishing on sea ice -- that in turn threatens their identity as a people. 'There's a real worry that the physical basis for the culture will be wiped out,' Griffiths said. 'Hunting will become the equivalent of picnics. It's all over, that way. No longer are they Inuit.' Although the majority of Inuit he interviewed believed they would adapt to climate change, Griffiths said he is worried about their culture. 'I think there is a real risk of Inuit culture being wiped out,' he said, 'but when and how fast that happens, I don't really know.' Last week, Louis Fortier, scientific director of the Canadian research network ArcticNet, said the worst case scenarios about melting sea ice are coming true and the Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in summertime as soon as 2010 or 2015. Previous forecasts had pegged the year at 2050. 'If reputable scientists are saying that, then (cultural genocide) isn't too strong a term,' New Democrat MP Denise Savoie said. 'Aside from the loss in terms of nature, it's also a huge loss culturally.' [...]"


"No More Holocaust Reparations, Says German Finance Minister"
Deutsche Welle dispatch, 24 November 2007
"Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück said in Jerusalem Thursday that Germany had no plans to renegotiate a Holocaust reparations deal signed with Israel in 1952. 'The existing deal is signed and final and there is no need to change it,' said Steinbrück after meeting with the chairman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, Noah Flug. Flug said that although the reparation agreement with Germany would not be amended, if there were 'specific problems' Germany would try to solve them. 'We didn't ask for money, we spoke of the responsibility of the German government,' added Flug. Complaints that Germany's reparations fail to compensate in any reasonable way for the trauma of the Holocaust are ongoing. But the Israeli Holocaust survivors who met with Steinbrück on Thursday, Nov. 23, to request improvements to the reparations arrangement specifically argued that the original agreement failed to take into account today's longer life expectancy or the tens of thousands of survivors who immigrated to Israel after the fall of the Soviet Union. According to news agency DPA, Steinbrück did agree that Germany would try to help needy survivors via the Claims Committee, the international organization that coordinates compensation payments to survivors. Earlier this month, an Israeli paper published comments by Israel's Pensioners Affairs Minister Rafael Eytan saying Israel was keen to reopen the deal, but he later said he was misquoted and only wished to examine with Germany ways to support survivors given the 'holes' in the original agreement. [...]"

"What Does Germany Owe Israel?"
By Marty Peretz
The Spine blog (on The New Republic), 18 November 2007
"Look, there is no amount of German reparations that can compensate for the calamity inflicted on the Jewish people by the Nazi regime. The post-war Federal Republic has paid out billions and billions of dollars in atonement and concrete restitution to individual Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, to Jewish cultural organizations and to Israel, the Jewish State. Now comes the Israeli Pensioners Affairs Minister who claims that Germany owes more. 'Get it from the Germans' has long been a reflex when money was short. Apparently, it is still a reflex ... when money is not short. It is demeaning to the dead to continue to scrounge from Berlin. The Germans are the best friends of Israel and the Jews in Europe. They have shown that many times and in different ways, not least by supplying three Dolphin class submarines to Israel and right now subsidizing a purchase of two such additional submarines. Enough is enough. Stop the shnorerei!"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the blog post, although it is worth following the link to check out the readers' comments. As an aside, this is probably the first time in my life that I have agreed with Martin Peretz.]


"Leaving Home for the Homeland"
By Rory McCarthy
The Guardian, 24 November 2007
"On Benjamin's 18th day in Israel he stands in the shade of a palm tree in the paved courtyard of an absorption centre that will be his home for the next six months. On his head he wears a kippah and around his neck a chain carrying his name in Hebrew lettering. He is one of the latest young Jewish Iranians to leave their homeland in search of a new life in Israel at a time of growing tensions between the two nations. Once Benjamin, 23, was teaching Hebrew and running a shop in Iran. Two years ago he was arrested by Iranian intelligence agents who threatened to kill him and his family. 'They put a gun in my head and forced me to sign that I was a spy for Israel and they said: "We will kill you." I thought: "I'm going to die just for being Jewish,"' he said. He will not give his real name or have his face photographed for fear of reprisals against his elderly parents who are still in Iran, but he has taken Benjamin as his new name in Israel. Eventually Benjamin escaped, using an old passport that was no longer registered on Iranian government computers and made his way to Israel with the support of the Jewish Agency, which is responsible for arranging immigration for Jews from across the world in what is known in Hebrew as Aliyah, or the ascent. Around 20,000 Jews make Aliyah to Israel every year, most arriving under the Law of Return under which the state grants citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent. Not all the new Iranian arrivals have had such harsh experiences. Others in the same absorption centre in east Jerusalem, where they live and take Hebrew classes for six months, say they simply felt suffocated by the current Iranian regime and unable to live freely. [...]"


"Holocaust Denial, American Style"
By Mark Weisbrot
AlterNet (on, 21 November 2007
"Iranian President Ahmedinejad's flirtation with those who deny the reality of the Nazi genocide has rightly been met with disgust. But another holocaust denial is taking place with little notice: the holocaust in Iraq. The average American believes that 10,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the US invasion in March 2003. The most commonly cited figure in the media is 70,000. But the actual number of people who have been killed is most likely more than one million. This is five times more than the estimates of killings in Darfur and even more than the genocide in Rwanda 13 years ago. The estimate of more than one million violent deaths in Iraq was confirmed again two months ago in a poll by the British polling firm Opinion Research Business, which estimated 1,220,580 violent deaths since the US invasion. This is consistent with the study conducted by doctors and scientists from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health more than a year ago. Their study was published in the Lancet, Britain's leading medical journal. It estimated 601,000 people killed due to violence as of July 2006; but if updated on the basis of deaths since the study, this estimate would also be more than a million. These estimates do not include those who have died because of public health problems created by the war, including breakdowns in sewerage systems and electricity, shortages of medicines, etc. ... Of course, acknowledging the holocaust in Iraq might change the debate over the war. While Iraqi lives do not count for much in US politics, recognizing that a mass slaughter of this magnitude is taking place could lead to more questions about how this horrible situation came to be. Right now a convenient myth dominates the discussion: the fall of Saddam Hussein simply unleashed a civil war that was waiting to happen, and the violence is all due to Iraqis' inherent hatred of each other. [...]"

"The Forgotten Fallen"
By John Pilger
New Statesman, 15 November 2007
"On Remembrance Day 2007, the great and the good bowed their heads at the Cenotaph. Gen erals, politicians, newsreaders, football managers and stock-market traders wore their poppies. Hypocrisy was a presence. No one mentioned Iraq. No one uttered the slightest remorse for the fallen of that country. No one read the forbidden list. The forbidden list documents, without favour, the part the British state and its court have played in the destruction of Iraq. Here it is: 1) Holocaust denial. On 25 October, Dai Davies MP asked Gordon Brown about civilian deaths in Iraq. Brown passed the question to the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, who passed it to his junior minister, Kim Howells, who replied: 'We continue to believe that there are no comprehensive or reliable figures for deaths since March 2003.' This was a deception. In October 2006, the Lancet published research by Johns Hopkins University in the US and al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad which calculated that 655,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the Anglo-American invasion. A Freedom of Information search revealed that the government, while publicly dismissing the study, secretly backed it as comprehensive and reliable. The chief scientific adviser to the Ministry of Defence, Sir Roy Anderson, called its methods 'robust' and 'close to best practice.' Other senior governments officials secretly acknowledged the survey's 'tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.' Since then, the British research polling agency, Opinion Research Business, has extrapolated a figure of 1.2 million deaths in Iraq. Thus, the scale of death caused by the British and US governments may well have surpassed that of the Rwanda genocide, making it the biggest single act of mass murder of the late 20th century and the 21st century. [...]"


"UN Official Says Israel's Siege of Gaza Breeds Extremism and Human Suffering"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 23 November 2007
"A senior United Nations official has issued an unprecedented appeal to British MPs to use their influence to try to alleviate the impact of 'indiscriminate' and 'illegal' Israeli sanctions in Gaza which display 'profound inhumanity' and are 'serving the agenda of extremists.' In one of the strongest attacks on recent Israeli strategy issued by a senior international official, John Ging, Gaza's director of operations for the refugee agency UNRWA, said that 'crushing sanctions' imposed since the Israeli cabinet declared the Strip a 'hostile entity' in September had contributed to 'truly appalling living conditions.' Mr. Ging said the measures had been justified as protection from what he fully acknowledged were rocket attacks 'terrorising' the Israeli civilian population within range. The rockets have killed two people this year and injured 99 others. But citing cuts in fuel and planned cuts in electricity along with closures which have had 'an atrocious' impact on Palestinian medical care, 'destroyed' Gaza's economy and threatened already 'Third World' water and sanitation, he told the Britain-Palestine group of MPs: 'This presupposes that the civilian population are somehow more capable of stopping the rocket fire than the powerful military of the occupying power. My message ... is that not only are these sanctions not working, but because of their profound inhumanity, they are counterproductive to their stated purpose and while Gaza is not yet an entity populated by people hostile to their neighbour, it inevitably will be if the current approach of collective punitive sanctions continues.' Mr. Ging, whose agency is responsible for 70 per cent of Gaza's 1.5 million population, said that over the past two years 'every hopeful opportunity has been irrationally dashed and followed by even worse circumstances.' He added that Gaza's civilian population expected more of Israel and the international community, who regularly expressed concern about their humanitarian plight but 'to no avail.' [...]"
[n.b. "Profound inhumanity," "crushing," "appalling," "illegal," "atrocious" ... it's all sounding a little like the Warsaw Ghetto circa 1940, isn't it? Perhaps we need an armed outside intervention to take control and forcibly put an end to Israel's proto-genocidal policies toward Gaza. Unfortunately, this is the sort of option for which the term "pipe dream" was invented.]


"Should We Be Afraid of North Korea?"
By David Wallechinsky, 25 November 2007
"[...] During my trip, I was well aware of the darker parts of the country that our guides did not show us, like its nuclear weapons facilities and the prison camps where an estimated 250,000 North Koreans currently are being held for dubious reasons. As hostile as Kim Jong-il's government has been to ours, I look at his people as victims rather than aggressors. However, there are signs that their extreme isolation might be lifting. As shown by its signing of the nuclear-disablement agreement and its desire for economic growth, North Korea is shedding some of its Cold War antagonism and trying to establish more positive relationships with other nations. 'North Korea is an incredibly tough, resilient country,' says Jonathan Pollack, professor of Asian and Pacific studies at the Naval War College. 'Now the leaders understand how far behind they lag, but they fear opening up too much.' When the time comes and the North Koreans are fully exposed to ideas from the rest of the world, I can’t help but hope that they’ll become aware of alternatives to the propaganda and speak out for change on their own."
[n.b. Thanks to Rick Feingold for bringing this source to my attention.]


"As Order Slides, Palestinian Women Face Honor Killings"
By Ilene R. Prusher
The Christian Science Monitor, 20 November 2007
"All the women in the family say Wafa Wahdan was wonderful. But her sisters-in-law add that they noticed a few little things. She had changed the way she dressed in the past year to a less conservative style and she sometimes went out for a drive without saying where she was going. A few weeks ago, the body of the young mother of four was found in a garbage dump east of town. Police arrested two of the woman's male cousins for having trapped Ms. Wahdan and shot her to death, committing the third 'honor killing' in Qalqilya last month. Wahdan's brutal murder devastated her husband and immediate family, who say that the rumor mill's tales of Wahdan having an affair were untrue. But regardless of their veracity, suspicion alone can be enough to get a woman killed by distant relatives looking to 'cleanse' the family honor when there is talk of an illicit relationship. According to local organizations, such murders have risen in the Palestinian territories to nearly 50 this year -- a fact that many here blame on the absence of any true law and order, which allows individuals to enforce their own version of justice. Palestinians here say the image of an ever-weaker Palestinian Authority has increased after Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, making this local vigilantism harder to combat. Particularly galling to many here is the fact that a man who admits to murdering a female relative for reasons of honor can be sentenced to as little as six months in jail. Palestinians say that policy is based on an old Jordanian law, which still holds in the West Bank: Article 341 considers murder a legitimate act of defense when the killer acts 'in defense of his life or his honor.' [...]"


"Rwanda Genocide Court Pressed as Deadline Approaches"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 24 November 2007
"The tribunal responsible for trying alleged criminals of Rwanda's 1994 genocide said on Saturday it cannot complete its work before the court's UN mandate expires and may send cases back to Rwanda. 'There will be at least one case that will not finish,' said Roland Amoussouga, senior legal officer at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), at a news conference at the Commonwealth summit here. 'So the question is, can we achieve what is expected of us by the deadline?' December 2008 is the deadline for all cases to have their first hearing. At least a few cases will spill over that point, including one involving three Rwandan ex-ministers that will likely re-start, he added. The fast-approaching date is the 'nightmare of the (court) president,' he said. Rights group Amnesty International petitioned the ICTR earlier this month to prevent it from extraditing suspects from its base in Arusha, Tanzania, to Rwanda until the country starts holding fair trials and protecting victims. But Amoussouga said the tribunal was still considering whether or not to send its remaining cases back to Rwanda after December 2008. 'The decision will not be political, but of a judicious nature,' he said. Over the past 10 years, the ICTR has indicted 90 people for organising the genocide, arresting 76; some 29 have been handed jail terms ranging from six years to life imprisonment; five were acquitted; and 14 are still missing. [...]"

"Rwanda Minister Condemns ICTR Handing of Genocide Cases to France"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Tocqueville Connection, 24 November 2007
"The Rwandan government is astonished by a decision of the international court trying crimes arising from the genocide in the country to let France deal with two suspects, Rwanda's justice minister said Saturday. The ruling from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) means it is now up to Paris to put on trial Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, a 49-year-old Catholic priest, and Laurent Bucyibaruta, 62, a former government official, both living in exile in France. The two men are free on bail, but are under French judicial investigation on charges relating to the genocide. 'We knew that the ICTR had asked France to hand over the two accused,' Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama told AFP. 'Now the opposite has happened -- we are astonished.' Karugarama said that Kigali would be seeking an explanation from the ICTR, whose decision to hand over the cases is part of a policy linked to next year's deadline for the court to finish its work. 'One must have confidence in the judicial apparatus everywhere but it must be recognised that France has not yet shown its determination to try cases of genocide,' he said. Rwandan authorities have alleged that Paris bore a responsibility for the genocide and thus has no moral right to try people accused by the ICTR. Last week a special Rwandan commission handed over a 500-page report on France's alleged role in the 1994 slaughter of 800,000 minority Tutsis by the Hutu majority. The current, Tutsi-led government in Kigali accuses Paris of having armed and trained the authors of the massacre, which France denies. In November 2006 the French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere implicated Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the assassination of his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana which sparked the slaughter. Kagame subsequently broke off diplomatic relations with France, which has been trying recently to heal the rift."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"U.S. Offers Mild Criticism In Saudi Rape Case"
Reuters dispatch in The New York Times, 19 November 2007 [Registration Required]
"The United States, which wants Saudi Arabia to attend a Middle East conference next week, gave only mild criticism on Monday of a Saudi court's order to double the number of lashings for a gang rape victim. 'This is a part of a judicial procedure overseas in the court of a sovereign country,' said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack when asked to comment on the case. 'That said, most would find this relatively astonishing that something like this happens,' added McCormack. McCormack declined to directly criticize the Saudi government, or the legal system, which has made a series of erratic verdicts in recent months. 'I don't have anything else to offer,' said McCormack when pressed on what he meant that people would be 'astonished' over such verdicts. Asked whether the Saudi authorities should reconsider the sentence against the woman, McCormack said he could not 'get involved in specific court cases in Saudi Arabia dealing with its own citizens.' The 19-year-old Shi'ite woman from the town of Qatif in the Eastern Province was raped by seven men in 2006. A court had originally sentenced the woman to 90 lashes and the rapists to jail terms of between 10 months and five years. But the victim's lawyer told Reuters last week the court had increased her sentence to 200 lashes and six months in prison. He said the court had blamed the woman for being alone with unrelated men. Clerics who adhere to Saudi Arabia's austere Sunni form of Islamic Sharia law dominate the legal system, with Shi'ite Muslims also judged according to Sunni Islamic law. The United States has been criticized in the past for not being outspoken enough about human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, a close U.S. ally. [...]"
[n.b. Sickening as this story is, it is almost amusing to see the United States waging on the one hand a campaign against Islamist extremism worldwide, and on the other hand supporting to the hilt the most extreme Islamist regime in the world, however barbaric and medieval its actions.]


"It's War if Kosovo Breaks Away, Say Serbs"
The Telegraph, 23 November 2007
"A Serbian extremist group, which claims to have thousands of members, lodged a call to arms yesterday with the Serbian government should Kosovo declare independence. Hadzi Andrej Milic, the leader of the so-called Tsar Lazar Guard, said 'a violent invasion will follow in the case of a unilateral declaration of independence' by Kosovo's ethnic Albanians. The Albanian National Army, branded a terrorist organisation by the UN in Kosovo, claimed that it has support throughout the province and was prepared to fight off any threats from armed Serb groups. Internationally brokered talks are under way between ethnic Albanians and Serbia on settling the long-standing dispute over whether Kosovo will become independent. The province has been under UN control since 1999, when Nato intervened to stop a Serb crackdown. Kosovo's Albanian leaders have threatened to declare independence unilaterally if negotiations fail. Serbia says it is willing to grant autonomy but not independence."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"'Independence is a Done Deal'"
By Andrew Purvis, 22 November 2007
"[...] Starting last year, the United Nations, which has administered the province since NATO planes drove Serb authorities out of the territory in 1999, has tried to broker a deal in which Kosovo would be granted independence with the consent of Serbia and the rest of the international community. But Belgrade, backed by Moscow, torpedoed the plan. By declaring independence, Kosovo is poised to take on its own Belgrade refuses to voluntarily give. Many Kosovo Serbs, who make up a minority of the province's population, have threatened to secede rather than be ruled by Pristina, while several European Union countries say they may not recognize the new country for fear that such recognition would set a precedent for other separatist groups elsewhere. This week, EU leaders stepped up pressure on Thaci and other leaders to put off the declaration at least until the rest of Europe could coordinate its response. 'We need a soft landing in Kosovo if we are going to avoid a hard crash,' said Sweden's foreign minister, Carl Bildt. After waiting so long for independence already, [Prime-Minister-in-waiting Hashim] Thaci and other Kosovo Albanian leaders may be willing to wait a few weeks longer. Thaci's declaration (to TIME and others) that he intended to declare independence 'immediately' after a deadline for a negotiated solution expired on Dec. 10, may prove to have been mainly for domestic consumption. But he and other Kosovo Albanian leaders are probably not willing to wait longer than January. [...]"

"It's Hard to Imagine a Worse Outcome for the Balkans"
By Simon Jenkins
The Guardian, 21 November 2007
"[...] For eight years Kosovo has enjoyed de facto autonomy under the protection of 17,000 Nato troops. These have allowed the regime to 'reverse-cleanse' the province of half its Serbs, including virtually all the 40,000 who once lived in the capital, Pristina. There are barely 200,000 left, just 10% of the population. Although the new prime minister, the former guerrilla Hashim Thaci, declares that 'Kosovo is ready for independence,' he cannot mean it. Kosovo is a Nato protectorate under UN administration, with more aid per head than any state in Asia or Africa. What Thaci wants is not independence but the luxuriant post-intervention dependency enjoyed by Bosnia, Sierra Leone and the embattled regimes in Baghdad and Kabul. To this the Serbs remain implacably opposed. Even moderate opponents of Milosevic's reign regard the enforced dismemberment of their nation as excessive punishment for the barbarities committed by the Serb army in 1998. Nor will they let it rest. Like the Basque country for Spain and the Falklands for Argentina, Kosovo will always be a cause celebre for Serbia. Independence for Kosovo clearly accords with current realpolitik, but realpolitik is seldom the end of the matter in the Balkans. Russia says it would veto Kosovo's acceptance into the UN, and to that extent Kosovo would be an illegitimate state. Nor is Russia's attitude purely due to Slav solidarity. Moscow is understandably averse to western troops coming to the aid of separatist movements wherever there is insurrection or cries of genocide, least of all within bombing distance of the Caucasus. Russia is supported in this view by Spain, Greece and Cyprus, each with separatist problems. And what does Britain, so keen on Balkan partition, say to the Pashtuns or the Kurds when they demand independence? [...]"

"EU Ministers Try to Head Off Kosovo Breakaway"
By Mark Tran and agencies
The Guardian, 19 November 2007
"EU foreign ministers today cautioned the winners of Kosovo's election against a unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. The former guerrilla leader Hashim Thaci, who is expected to become prime minister of the breakaway province, said parliament would declare independence after the December 10 deadline for international mediation efforts, which have gone nowhere. With 90% of the votes counted, independent election monitors said Thaci's Democratic Party (PDK) had come first with 34%, ahead of the ruling Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). Thaci is determined to push for independence, but even Kosovo's strongest backers are urging him not to rush matters, amid fears that it could trigger further instability in the Balkans. 'Kosovo should have her independence, (but) it shouldn't be an unmanaged unilateral declaration. It should be one that is coordinated with the international community,' Britain's minister for Europe, Jim Murphy, told reporters in Brussels. Britain, along with the US, backs independence for Kosovo, but acknowledges that it would be better if such a move had the UN's approval. The EU is split on the issue, with Spain and Greece the most hesitant to back a unilateral declaration because of their own separatist problems. [...]"

"Independence Loses its Magic in Kosovo Vote"
By Douglas Hamilton
Reuters dispatch, 17 November 2007
"Kosovo Albanians who fought Serbia for independence 8 years ago seem disillusioned as their dream approaches realization. More than half of them did not bother to vote in an election on Saturday, despite the fact that it will chose the leaders they expect to declare statehood within a month or two. Kosovo has no second-thoughts about its independence. But the realization that it offers no miracle cure for economic malaise has long overtaken the old euphoria. 'People are depressed,' said local newspaper editor Berat Buzhala. 'This is about the economic situation. No water, no electricity, no jobs.' Shops and small businesses with smart facades have burgeoned in the past few years, spreading cheery neon light onto streets once menaced by sandbagged Serb police checkpoints, where cowed Albanians hurried along in the dark. Now, downtown Mother Teresa Street is being turned into a fine pedestrian corso, paved with imported Chinese granite and lined with trees, in time for Independence Day. But litter and puddles still deface most of the capital, Pristina, and its smoke-filled cafes fuelled by the boredom of 60 percent unemployment are not likely to empty out soon. ... Kosovo was always a poor corner of the old Yugoslavia, mired for decades in a struggle between its steadily growing ethnic Albanian majority and ruling Serbs, who saw that demographic fact encroaching on their ancient homeland. Serbia's iron grip on the province was broken in 1999 when the military crackdown it unleashed on Albanian rebels went too far for Western powers, who used their superior NATO force to prevent a bloodbath after months of warnings went unheeded. [...]"


"Mine Deaths: 'Enough is Enough'", 25 November 2007
"South Africa's biggest miners' union unveiled plans on Friday to down tools in a strike against mounting mine deaths, as Gold Fields, Harmony and Impala Platinum all reported more deaths. The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was only awaiting a permit to ask its members to strike in a one-day protest on December 4 that would be the first ever such action on safety, and could cripple gold and platinum producers in the world's biggest producer of the precious metals. 'How many more deaths, anguish, and sorrow must be visited upon innocent mineworkers, their families, and the communities in which they live before we can say enough is enough?' asked Senzeni Zokwana, president of the 300 000-strong NUM, in a speech at a global unions' meeting in Thailand. More than 180 workers have been killed this year in rockfalls, explosions or have been buried underground during earth tremors in mines owned by some of the world's biggest mining firms, in what the NUM has termed a 'genocide.' Around 200 workers died in 2006 in rockfalls, explosions or been buried under tonnes of rocks in the mineral-rich nation. [...]"
[n.b. Excerpted for the intriguing use of the word "genocide" in this context. And South African mines pale in comparison with Chinese ones, where thousands of workers die annually in conditions virtually (and intentionally) devoid of occupational safety measures.]


"The Killer They Call Holodomor"
By Mitch Potter
The Star (Toronto), 25 November 2007
"Seventy-five years later, Ivan Brovko says the look in the little girl's eyes still comes to him in his dreams. And terrible dreams they are. He was a young teacher, Marika Khailo was a young student -- and there is no gentle way to convey the fact that she died before his eyes in the front row of his classroom in the village of Rudka in southeastern Ukraine. Marika died of hunger. She was among the millions of people who perished -- estimates range from 4 to 10 million -- in that infamous winter of 1932-33, when the man-made famine known as the Holodomor devastated Ukraine. ... As Ukrainians today mark the 75th anniversary of the Great Famine – a grim remembrance that falls on the last Sunday every November -- Brovko thinks not of Vladimir Ilich Lenin, but of his successor, Joseph Stalin, whose policies he blames for the tyranny that befell Ukraine. Brovko made noise in the village after Marika's death – so much noise that an arrest warrant was issued. He fled, moving north through the dying nation in a desperate quest for survival. 'For decades, it was shrouded under Soviet propaganda,' he says. 'But today there is no longer any doubt -- the study of the archives shows this famine was engineered to brutally force upon Ukraine Stalin's policies of collectivization. The debate over what to call it -- holocaust, genocide, terror -- doesn't really matter. The fact is that the starvation of Ukraine was deliberate. 'I am 92 and so long as I live I will continue talking about it, because the Holodomor is not where it should be in the world's memory.' Famine awareness soared four years ago in an international campaign, led by Canadian researcher Lubomyr Luciuk, demanding the posthumous revocation of the 1933 Pulitzer Prize to Walter Duranty, whose work as Moscow correspondent for The New York Times is widely acknowledged today as Soviet apologia. The Pulitzer committee eventually declined to revoke the award, but even The Times today acknowledges Duranty's reportage as deeply discredited. Ukrainian efforts to codify the memory of the famine in a comprehensive project comparable to Jerusalem's Yad Vashem Holocaust museum have yet to materialize, despite the support of President Viktor Yushchenko. [...]"

"Ukraine Seeks Recognition of '32 Genocide"
By Maria Danilova
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Times, 24 November 2007
"After authorities broke into Yakiv Atamanenko's home in autumn of 1932 and confiscated the family's food, his mother and two brothers died of starvation and their bloated bodies were tossed among others in a freshly dug grave on the outskirts of this farming village. Mr. Atamanenko and other survivors said their neighbors, Oleksandra Korytnyk and her husband, ate their two children. 'They cut their children into pieces and ate them,' recalled Mr. Atamanenko, now a frail, gray-haired 95-year-old. In the end, he and others said, the Korytnyks died as well. Today, Ukraine marks the 75th anniversary of the terrible famine of 1932-33, engineered by Soviet authorities to force peasants across what was then the U.S.S.R. to give up their privately held plots of land and join collective farms. Millions perished. It began on November 24, 1932, with an order raising the quota for the state procurement of grain and wound up as an all-out forced collectivization of agriculture. Ukraine was hit hardest because it was the breadbasket of the Soviet Union. Now, President Viktor Yushchenko is leading an effort to gain international recognition of Holodomor -- or death by hunger, as it is known here -- as a crime rather than merely a disaster, by labeling it an act of genocide. Long kept secret by Soviet authorities, accounts of the great famine still divide historians and politicians, not just in this nation of 47 million but throughout the former Soviet Union. Some are convinced that the famine targeted Ukrainians as an ethnic group. Others argue authorities set out to eradicate all private landowners as a social class, and that the Soviets sought to pay for the U.S.S.R.'s industrialization with grain exports at the expense of starving millions of its own people. [...]"

"Manitoba Sets Aside Day to Recognize Ukrainian Famine as Act of Genocide"
Canadian Press dispatch on CNews, 22 November 2007
"The Manitoba government is setting aside a day to recognize the Ukrainian famine of the 1930s. The government and opposition have jointly tabled a bill to declare the fourth Saturday in November the Ukranian Famine and Genocide Memorial Day. Not every country in the world recognizes the famine as a deliberate genocide on the part of the Soviet Union. But Manitoba deputy premier Rosann Wowchuk says there is clear evidence the famine was a deliberate attempt to starve Ukrainians to death. Wowchuk has visited the region, and says she has talked to relatives who survived the ordeal. Ukraine has asked the United Nations to recognize the famine as a genocide -- something which is still under consideration."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"French Prosecutors Throw out Rumsfeld Torture Case"
Reuters dispatch, 24 November 2007
"The Paris prosecutors' office has dismissed a suit against Donald Rumsfeld accusing the former U.S. defense secretary of torture, human rights groups who brought the case said on Friday. The plaintiffs, who included the French-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) and the U.S. Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), said Rumsfeld had authorized interrogation techniques that led to rights abuses. The FIDH said it had received a letter from the prosecutors' office ruling that Rumsfeld benefited from a 'customary' immunity from prosecution granted to heads of state and government and foreign ministers, even after they left office. It said in a statement it was 'astonished at such a mistaken argument' and said customary immunity from prosecution did not exist under international law. The suit was filed in October during a visit to France by Rumsfeld. The Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq hit the headlines in April 2004 when details of physical abuse and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers were made public, badly damaging the reputation of the U.S. military. Former prisoners at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay are suing Rumsfeld and 10 military commanders, alleging torture and violations of their religious rights during their detention there. The CCR and FIDH filed suits in Germany in 2004 and 2006 in an attempt to have Rumsfeld tried for rights abuses."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Town Suspends Ties to No Place for Hate"
By Kytja Weir
Boston Globe, 25 November 2007
"The town of Bedford has become the latest to join the growing list of area communities to distance itself from an antibias program mired in controversy over the Anti-Defamation League's stance on the Armenian genocide. The five-member Board of Selectmen voted unanimously Monday to suspend the ADL's No Place for Hate program at the urging of the community's Violence Prevention Coalition, an umbrella group that oversaw the community's participation in the national program. 'I don't think we should be carrying the banner of the Anti-Defamation League as long as it puts their interests ahead of protecting all of us from discrimination,' Selectman Gordon Feltman said to a packed room of more than two dozen who turned out for the vote. At least eight other Massachusetts towns -- including Arlington, Belmont, Lexington, and Watertown -- previously had suspended or severed ties with the ADL and No Place for Hate. The Medford City Council also recently suspended the program. Community members there re sponded early this month by gathering in an impromptu ceremony to take down a prominent outdoor sign declaring the community a No Place for Hate location. The program, once certified in more than 60 Massachusetts communities, provides grant money and expertise for educational activities fighting discrimination. Bedford officials had discussed the issue earlier in the fall but chose to wait and see whether the ADL's national board would endorse a resolution before Congress about the Armenian genocide in its Nov. 2 meeting. The ADL's board decided in that meeting not to take further action on whether to classify as genocide the Ottoman Empire's massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923. The ADL, formed to fight anti-Semitism, has been concerned about relations with Turkey, the modern-day successor of the Ottoman Empire and a key Muslim ally of Israel. [...]"
[n.b. A delightful smackdown for the knuckleheads of the ADL. May I recommend they change the name of their program to No Place for Hate, Unless It Suits Us?]


"As China Roars, Pollution Reaches Deadly Extremes"
By Joseph Kahn and Jim Yardley
The New York Times, 26 August 2007
"No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and big dollops of public wealth to undo. But just as the speed and scale of China's rise as an economic power have no clear parallel in history, so its pollution problem has shattered all precedents. Environmental degradation is now so severe, with such stark domestic and international repercussions, that pollution poses not only a major long-term burden on the Chinese public but also an acute political challenge to the ruling Communist Party. And it is not clear that China can rein in its own economic juggernaut. Public health is reeling. Pollution has made cancer China's leading cause of death, the Ministry of Health says. Ambient air pollution alone is blamed for hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water. Chinese cities often seem wrapped in a toxic gray shroud. Only 1 percent of the country's 560 million city dwellers breathe air considered safe by the European Union. ... An internal, unpublicized report by the Chinese Academy of Environmental Planning in 2003 estimated that 300,000 people die each year from ambient air pollution, mostly of heart disease and lung cancer. An additional 110,000 deaths could be attributed to indoor air pollution caused by poorly ventilated coal and wood stoves or toxic fumes from shoddy construction materials, said a person involved in that study. Another report, prepared in 2005 by Chinese environmental experts, estimated that annual premature deaths attributable to outdoor air pollution were likely to reach 380,000 in 2010 and 550,000 in 2020. This spring, a World Bank study done with SEPA, the national environmental agency, concluded that outdoor air pollution was already causing 350,000 to 400,000 premature deaths a year. Indoor pollution contributed to the deaths of an additional 300,000 people, while 60,000 died from diarrhea, bladder and stomach cancer and other diseases that can be caused by water-borne pollution. [...]"
[n.b. In my view, there are real questions to be asked as to whether such intentional, state-sanctioned destruction of millions (probably tens of millions) of lives, in pursuit of the joint capitalist/state-socialist goal of untrammelled "development," may qualify as genocidal.]


"Vanity Fair Sued over Neo-Nazi Interview"
The Jerusalem Post, 22 November 2007
"An interview with one of Germany's most notorious neo-Nazis has landed Vanity Fair magazine in a heap of trouble. Arno Lustiger, a Jewish historian and Holocaust survivor, has started proceedings to sue the magazine's German edition for publishing an interview with Horst Mahler, the former left-wing extremist who transformed into one of Germany's most rabid neo-Nazi public figures. The interview appeared in the Nov. 1 print and online editions. Filed Nov. 7 and released to the public on Nov. 21, the suit notes that Mahler denied and belittled the Holocaust, which is illegal in Germany. Attorney Uwe Lehmann-Brauns told the JTA on Nov. 21 that he was awaiting confirmation from Berlin's state prosecutor that the suit had been formally entered. Vanity Fair as yet has offered no response. In the interview, conducted by journalist and former vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Michel Friedman, Mahler said that 'Hitler was the liberator of the German people. He is demonized as the liberator of Satan.' The publisher had said he ran the interview to make Germans aware of the poisonous ideas in their midst, but Lustiger's attorneys said the motivation was immaterial."


"If Our Friends Do It, It Is Not Genocide"
Corporate Crime Reporter, November 13, 2007
"The Genocide Prevention Task Force was unveiled at the National Press Club this morning. The task force is being co-chair by former Secretary of State Madeline Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen. It's being convened by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the United States Institute of Peace. In addition to Cohen and Albright, its members include: John Danforth, Tom Daschle, Stuart Eizenstat, Michael Gerson, Dan Glickman, Jack Kemp, Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, Tom Pickering, Julia Taft, Vin Weber, and Anthony Zinni. 'The world agrees that genocide is unacceptable and yet genocide and mass killings continue,' Albright said. 'Our challenge is to match words to deeds and stop allowing the unacceptable. That task -- simple on the surface -- is in fact one of the most persistent puzzles of our times. We have a duty to find the answer before the vow of "never again" is once again betrayed.' ... But after the opening remarks, Cohen and Albright hit a buzz saw of skeptical questioning from reporters in the First Amendment Room. 'How do you reconcile your work in trying to build a moral American consensus against genocide when just very recently each of you signed letters urging America not to recognize the Armenian genocide?' a reporter asked Cohen and Albright. 'This mission is about the future,' Albright answered. 'We want to look at ways to try and prevent genocide and mass killing.' ... 'If we are saying that this isn't the right time to acknowledge this genocide, does that mean that you are arguing that for political expedience purposes, we are not going to be taking action on nor should we take action on future genocides because of what are perceived to be U.S. interests?' another reporter asked. 'We are saying there are no absolutes in this,' Cohen answered. 'We are going to try and set forth a set of principles that will serve as a guide.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Gerry Caplan for submitting this link.]


"Food Prices: Africa Shows First Signs of Trouble"
By Christophe Parayre
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 23 November 2007
"Recent violent unrest over soaring food prices in several West African nations points to new signs of trouble on a continent where nearly half the people live on a dollar a day, experts warn. After Mauritania and Morocco, Senegal this week was the latest country hit by violent protests. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation chief Jacques Diouf last month warned of a 'risk of social and political troubles in Third World nations in the months or years to come' due to the global rise in cereal prices. ... The mounting demand for biofuels and escalating prices of fossil fuels mean farmers cultivate less food in preference of fast cash-spinning biofuel crops. And the internationally rising oil prices are reflected in imported food costs. 'The growing demand for biofuels and the high prices of fossil fuel have a dramatic impact on millions of people,' said Savariaud. ... In the vast and arid Mauritania, where national cereal output is less than 30% of needs, the price of imported flour shot up nearly 100% -- from $200 per ton last year to $360 in September, according to WFP. Shops there were vandalised and torched earlier this month to protest spiralling food prices, leaving one person dead and 17 wounded. In Morocco, about 50 people were injured during September food protests. Escalating food prices have affected almost every nation on the continent, but so far without sparking the kind of violent outbreaks witnessed in West Africa, home to the greatest number of the world's most poverty-stricken countries. Chances of controlling the high food bills are not easy in the short term, warned FAO chief of Global Information and Early Warning System, Henri Josserand. 'It is something that cannot be changed quickly,' he said. 'Prospects are not good for countries that strongly rely on imports because in the short-to-medium term, we forecast that food prices will remain extremely firm, at least in the next 10 years,' Josserand said. Countries are therefore left with no choice but to change dietary habits by substituting imports with local produce, said Josserand. But home-grown food production is also threatened by climate change, with the continent facing desertification and in cases oscillating between extreme conditions of droughts and floods. [...]"

"Neoliberalism's Price Tag: 150,000 Farm Suicides in India from 1997 through 2005"
By P. Sainath, 17-18 November 2007
"Close to 150,000 Indian farmers committed suicide in nine years from 1997 to 2005, official data show. While farm suicides have occurred in many Indian states, nearly two thirds of these deaths are concentrated in five states where just a third of the country's population lives. This means that farmers' suicides occurred in those (mainly cash crop) regions with appalling intensity. On average, one Indian farmer committed suicide every 32 minutes between 1997 and 2005. Since 2002, that has become one suicide every 30 minutes. However, the frequency at which farmers take their lives in any region smaller than the country -- say a single State or group of States -- has to be lower. Because the number of suicides in any such region would be less than the total for the country as a whole in any year. Yet, the frequency at which farmers are killing themselves in many regions is appalling. On average, one farmer took his or her life every 53 minutes between 1997 and 2005 in just the states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh (including Chhattisgarh). In Maharashtra alone, that was one suicide every three hours. It got even worse after 2001. It rose to one farm suicide every 48 minutes in these Big Four States, and one every two and a quarter hours in Maharashtra alone. The Big Four have together seen 89,362 farmers' suicides between 1997 and 2005, or 44,102 between 2002 and 2005. ... The number of Indians committing suicide each year rose from around 96,000 in 1997 to roughly 114,000 in 2005. In the same period, the number of farmers taking their own lives each year shot up dramatically, from under 14,000 in 1997 to over 17,000 in 2005. While the rise in farm suicides has been on for over a decade, there have been sharp spurts in some years. For instance, 2004 saw well over 18,200 farm suicides across India. Almost two-thirds of these were in the Big Four or 'Suicide SEZ' states. [...]"


"U.S. Measure Against Rape Fails at U.N."
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times, 17 November 2007 [Registration Required]
"The United States has failed to obtain a General Assembly resolution focused on rape used by governments and armed groups to achieve political and military objectives. A General Assembly committee has instead adopted a resolution that reiterates past condemnations of rape in general but eliminates language in the American draft making specific reference to rape employed by soldiers and militia members as a tactic for intimidation and in warfare. United Nations officials have identified the tactic as one used frequently by government-supported janjaweed militias in Sudan to terrorize the population of the Darfur region. The nonbinding measure was watered down in response to objections from South Africa and Angola, acting on behalf of the Africa Group, a 43-nation coalition. Revisions were made throughout the text to drop mention of organized and state-sanctioned rape, and in a final excision before adoption Thursday night, the final words of the title of the resolution, 'Eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence in all their manifestations, including as instruments to achieve political objectives,' were changed. The phrase after the comma was altered to read 'including in conflict and related situations.' South Africa's ambassador, Dumisani Kumalo, defended the revised measure. 'The original U.S. draft appeared to concentrate on condemning rape when perpetrated for political and military purposes only,' he said. 'We felt strongly that this would have created two categories of rape, that is, rape by military and militia groups and rape by civilians.' Mr. Kumalo said that the Africans had insisted on the changes 'to balance the text by making certain that there was no politicization of rape.' [...]"
[n.b. Interesting to read this story in the light of the one excerpted above, under Saudi Arabia/United States/Violence against Women.]

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NOW AVAILABLE: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones (Routledge, 2006; 430 pp., US $33.95 pbk). See "The best introductory text available to students of genocide studies ... likely to become the gold standard by which all subsequent introductions to this enormously important subject will be measured" (Kenneth J. Campbell).

Genocide Studies Media File
October 29 - November 13, 2007

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

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


"Nasty, Brutish and Short"
By David Scott Mathieson
New Statesman, 2 November 2007
"Beyond the brutality of the military against protesting monks, and belying the bluster of senior army officers during their grand parades in the new martial capital at their jungle redoubt in Naypyidaw, is a reality that Burma's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) does its best to conceal: many of its soldiers are mere children. Human Rights Watch research this summer showed that boys as young as 10 continue to be forcibly enlisted into Burma’s army by a network of predatory recruiters, often soldiers themselves, who lurk at train stations and outside cinemas and tea shops looking for vulnerable young males to coerce into the Burmese military, or Tatmadaw. Once forced into the army they are not permitted to contact their families, their ages are fabricated on enlistment material, and they receive harsh training before being deployed to bleak and dangerous outposts throughout Burma's hinterland. Boys are used to fight ethnic insurgents, mete out punishment to civilians, and as porters to support frontline troops. One young soldier I interviewed expressed the terror of his first experience of combat. When he tried to run away, his officer threatened to shoot him. He was 13. It is hard to imagine the psychological trauma and damage these experiences are inflicting on children. The problem of child soldiers is hidden from the eyes of many international observers and Burmese citizens in towns and cities. Child soldiering usually takes place in the conflict zones of the borderlands where they are deployed. Once impressed into the army, child soldiers often eke out a desperate existence fishing and hunting for food and stealing from villagers, surrounded by malarial forests, landmines and ethnic insurgents. Their plight is so desperate that many of their victims I have spoken to express their pity for them, despite the fact that these boys belong to an army which burns ethnic civilian villages, destroys their crops, and forces them into hiding or across borders as refugees in counterinsurgency campaigns almost medieval in their plodding atrocities. [...]"


"Ex-Officials of Khmer Rouge Arrested"
By Thomas Fuller
The New York Times, 13 November 2007
"Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, a husband-and-wife team of French-educated Communist revolutionaries who went on to take senior positions in the Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia in the 1970s, were arrested in Phnom Penh today and charged with crimes against humanity. Ieng Sary, a onetime history and geography teacher who became the Khmer Rouge foreign minister and deputy prime minister, was also charged with war crimes. The two were arrested at their Phnom Penh home, where they had lived for the past decade under a government amnesty granted to Ieng Sary in 1996. That agreement may complicate his prosecution. The charges were brought by a special court that was created with assistance from the United Nations to bring the Khmer Rouge leadership to justice. During its time in power, the Khmer Rouge was responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians. With the arrests today, the court has so far charged and detained a total of four people. It is expected to arrest a fifth, and last, former member of the leadership soon. After a decade of preparation and delay, the first trials against the aging former leaders are likely to begin next year, said Helen Jarvis, a spokeswoman for the court. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge, from 1975 to 1978, Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, who was the social affairs minister, were among the closest associates of Pol Pot, the movement's leader. Khieu Ponnary, Ieng Thirith’s sister, was married to Pol Pot, and all four studied together in Paris during the 1950s. Pol Pot died a free man in 1998. [...]"

"Chilling Start to Khmer Rouge Tribunal"
By Thomas Bell
The Telegraph, 2 November 2007
"He was the official photographer. The men, women and children in the notorious black and white images who appear to be staring death in the face were mostly looking at him. Today he appeared as the first witness before Cambodia's genocide tribunal as prosecutors make their case against the prison's commandant Kaing Geuk Eav, better known as Duch, for crimes against humanity. 'It's hard to say if they knew they would die or not,' he told The Daily Telegraph before giving his testimony in camera. After months of torture, death awaited every prisoner. Over 14,000 people were sent to S-21 but only half a dozen survived. 'I realised that many times they arrested people who had done nothing,' he said. 'People from my village confessed to being in the CIA. In the end, everyone confessed to something. Most people went on to name every person they could think of as an accomplice before they were killed with an iron bar. Conversation with the prisoners was discouraged. Sometimes they would say, "why have they arrested me?" and I would say, "I don't know. My only job is to take your photo." It was a job,' he said, 'and if you did it wrong you were dead for sure. You knew that. I was responsible for taking care of my own head. I took care of it.' The teenage photographer was also responsible for developing and printing the images. 'I did it all,' he said with a glimmer of pride. 'It was tough work.' After seizing the capital and declaring 'year zero' in 1975, the Maoist Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia for three years, eight months and 20 days before the regime collapsed under the weight of its own insanity and in the face of a Vietnamese invasion. During that period at least 1.7 million people, over one fifth of the population, were executed or died of torture, starvation and overwork. After losing power, party workers retreated into Cambodia's jungles to wage a guerrilla war. Nhem En, 47, finally left the Khmer Rouge in 1995 under a government amnesty. Today he is a deputy district governor for the ruling party. [...]"


"'Rape Happens. We Are Human Beings'"
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa) (from The Guardian/UK), 13 November 2007
"'This thing of rape,' said Colonel Edmond Ngarambe, shifting uneasily on his wooden bench high in the mountains of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, 'I can't deny that happens. We are human beings. But it's not just us. The Mai Mai, the government soldiers who are not paid, the Rastas do the same thing. And some people sent by our enemies do it to cause anger against us.' The colonel's words lay bare a brutal reality about the wretched use of rape as an instrument of war in the eastern DRC. The growing numbers of women who arrive daily at hospitals as a fresh bout of fighting engulfs the region often have no idea whether their attackers were from the Mai Mai traditional militia, renegade Tutsi soldiers or a group of deserters from an array of armed groups who wear dreadlocks, call themselves the Rastas and specialise in particularly brutal treatment of their victims. Ngarambe's own men in the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which evolved out of the army and militia that fled into the DRC after leading the 1994 genocide of Rwanda's Tutsis, have been named by human rights groups as among the worst offenders in the onslaught against women, hundreds of thousands of whom have been raped over the past decade of conflict. Rape has been used to terrorise and punish civilians in the DRC who support the 'wrong side,' and it is perhaps no coincidence that it was also a tool of genocide in the mass murder of the Tutsis. Sexual violence is now so widespread that the medical aid charity Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) says that 75% of all the rape cases it deals with worldwide are in the eastern DRC. Darfur is a distant second. [...]"


"France Okays Handover of Rwanda Genocide Suspect"
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 14 November 2007
"A French court approved on Wednesday the handover to a U.N. court of a Rwandan genocide suspect accused of coordinating the massacre of up to 25,000 people in one incident. Dominique Ntawukuriryayo, 65, had been living in France and was detained by French police in the southern town of Carcassonne last month. Although a Paris appeals court approved his handover to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, he will not be transferred immediately as his lawyers have decided to appeal against the decision. Ntawukuriryayo was sub-prefect of the town of Gisagara in the southern Rwandan province of Butare during the 1994 genocide in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. He is charged with genocide, complicity in genocide and inciting the public to commit genocide. According to the 2005 tribunal indictment, Ntawukuriryayo played a central role in a massacre at Kabuye hill near Gisagara in which thousands of Tutsi refugees were rounded up and ordered to go to a hill where they were told they would be safe. Ntawukuriryayo organized soldiers and militias to go to the site to kill them, it says. 'As a result of his actions, Dominique Ntawukuriryayo was responsible for the death of as many as 25,000 Tutsi refugees who were killed at Kabuye hill during the period of 21st to 25th of April 1994,' the indictment said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Book on Rwanda Genocide Wins French Literary Prize"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 12 November 2007
"A book recounting the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide won the Prix Medicis, one of France's top literary awards, at a ceremony Monday. 'La Strategie des antilopes' (The Strategy of Antelopes) by journalist Jean Hatzfeld describes what happened when in 2003 the Rwandan authorities allowed some 40,000 of those who carried out the massacres to return to their homes. The Prix Femina -- awarded the same day by an all-woman jury -- went to another journalist, Eric Fittorino, for his novel 'Baisers de cinema' (Cinema kisses). The Femina committee awarded its foreign novel prize to the British writer Edward Saint Aubyn for 'Mother's Milk.' The Prix Medicis for a foreign work went to Daniel Mendelsohn of the United States for 'The Lost,' about the search for family-members who died in the Holocaust."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. The book is the follow-up to Hatzfeld's previous work on Rwanda, available in English as "Machete Season."]


"Nazi Prosecutors Still Hunt Death Head Doctor"
By John O'Donnell
Reuters dispatch, 7 November 2007
"For the few surviving inmates of Mauthausen concentration camp, one visitor in the autumn of 1941 left an indelible memory. Tall and athletic, Aribert Heim was the camp doctor for only two months and the 27-year-old enjoyed his time in the Austrian town. On one occasion, he picked out a prisoner passing his office. After checking his teeth, Heim persuaded him to take part in a medical experiment with the vague promise of release. Heim killed the man with an injection of poison to his heart, later severing his head and using the skull as a paperweight. Injections to the heart -- with petrol, water or poison -- were a favorite experiment of Heim's, who timed patients' deaths with a stopwatch. Sometimes, out of boredom, he carried out operations without anesthetic, removing organs from conscious victims. Heim was arrested after World War Two but he was later released and was soon practicing as a doctor again. He moved to Baden Baden, a small town in western Germany. But survivors of Mauthausen did not forget the camp doctor who delighted in seeing the fear of death in his patients' eyes. Police were sent to re-arrest Heim. The night before they were due to call, he disappeared. Now German prosecutors are on Heim's trail again. They believe he is still alive because his wife and children have yet to claim money he left in a Berlin bank account. Their search is the last gasp of the post-war hunt for Nazi war criminals. [...]"


"Maliki Wants U.S. to Relinquish Condemned Men"
By Doug Smith and Raheem Salman
The Los Angeles Times, 12 November 2007
"Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Sunday prodded U.S. officials to hand over three former aides of Saddam Hussein who have been condemned to die for their role in a campaign that killed as many as 180,000 Kurds. Despite pressure from within his government to spare one of the men, Maliki said all three would be hanged once their American captors relinquished custody. Though the death sentences were issued in June, U.S. officials have continued to hold the men while their fate is debated. Maliki said the constitution required the government to carry out the executions and accused those who opposed them of politicizing the judicial process. He also criticized American officials for the delay. 'We won't back down on our demands of receiving them and executing the verdict as was stated by the law,' he said. Several members of the government, including prominent Shiite Muslims, have urged leniency for the late Hussein's former minister of defense, Sultan Hashim Ahmad Jabburi Tai. Tai was the military commander in Hussein's Anfal campaign, which killed as many as 180,000 Kurds during the 1980s. He was sentenced to death in June along with Ali Hassan Majid, Hussein's first cousin, who is known as 'Chemical Ali' for his role in the poison-gas killings of the Kurds, and Hussein Rashid Mohammed, the former deputy head of army operations. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, both Kurds, argue that Tai should be spared. Zebari says leniency would set an example for reconciliation. [...]"

"Why the U.S. is Safeguarding Iraq's War Criminals"
By Rannie Amiri, 3-4 November 2007
"It comes as no surprise that to this day, the war criminals 'Chemical' Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan Hashem al-Tai and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti remain in the safekeeping of the United States. In June, all three were sentenced to death for their role in Saddam Hussein's notorious 1988 extermination campaign against the Kurds, dubbed the Anfal or 'Spoils of War' Operation. Their final appeals were rejected by the Iraqi courts and the deadline requiring them to be executed no more than 30 days afterward has long since passed. But the United States refuses to hand them over. Meanwhile the three, along with 12 other co-conspirators, are currently on trial for their involvement in the wholesale slaughter of Iraq's Shia population during the 1991 Uprising or Intifada. Whether it was images of women and children frozen in time by Saddam's use of chemical weapons in Halabja during Anfal or the silent testimony of dozens of unearthed mass graves in southern Iraq, even the war's most ardent critics never denied the brutality of the Ba'ath regime. Yet, it was the United States who betrayed the Kurds in 1988 when billows of gases from chemical weapons flooded their streets, and it was the United States who betrayed the Shia in 1991 when civilians were butchered en masse, and it is the United States who continues to betray Iraq today by sheltering the perpetrators of these very same war crimes, carried out under their watch. Nearly two decades later, those who masterminded the brutal crackdowns and subsequently convicted of crimes against humanity for them, remain safe in the protective custody of the Americans. Although the infamous Chemical Ali is unlikely to escape the hangman's noose, the United States and many Sunni Arab Iraqis are objecting to the execution of General Sultan al-Tai, who proclaimed his innocence by stating he was only 'following orders.' ... Many regard the trials of Ba'ath party officials illegitimate for being held under an imposed occupation. This perception is misplaced. The real illegitimacy of these trials is how war criminals can be so easily protected from punishment by the same people who armed and watched them carry out their abhorrent acts, not even flinching while they did so."


"Stop This Strategy of Strangulation"
By Johann Hari
The Independent, 8 November 2007
"The Israeli Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz, will this week decide whether to tighten to slow the strangulation of an entire people. Since the democratically elected Hamas government took power in the Gaza Strip in June, the 1.5 million people who live in that cramped and crumbling prison on the Mediterranean have been punished by being choked off from the world. Gaza is surrounded by gun-toting soldiers and razor-wire; nothing goes out, and almost nothing goes in. The result? The factories are shuttered. Some 85 per cent of the people have no work. Virtually all the essential building projects -- including repairs to the sewage system -- have stopped, because there is no concrete. The price of flour has soared by 80 per cent. The banks have almost run out of money. The charity Save the Children say that malnutrition -- once confined to the worst refugee camps -- is rippling out into the general population. And then a new form of punishment was thought of. The Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak decided to turn out the lights. Some 60 per cent of Gaza's power supply comes from Israel -- so Barak decided to halt it. Food rotted in freezers. Work in hospitals stuttered to a halt. Israel's message seemed to be: Let there be darkness. This plan was halted when a slew of brave Israeli human rights organisations appealed to the Attorney General, claiming the black-outs were illegal. He is mulling it over. But he refuses to stop the overall blockade, and he has waved through plans to choke off Gaza's supply of diesel -- necessary to run ambulances and the few remaining sparks of economic activity. [...]"


"Italy Court Confirms Sentences for Nazi Massacre"
Reuters dispatch, 8 November 2007
"Italy's highest court on Thursday confirmed life sentences for three former Nazi SS officers for their role in the murder of 560 Tuscan villagers, in one of Italy's worst civilian massacres during World War Two. The verdict on the three former German officers, all in their 80s, is largely symbolic, as they are unlikely to be extradited from their homeland and people of that age are usually deemed too old to serve prison sentences in Italy. But survivors and fellow villagers, as well as left-wing politicians, said justice had been done. 'After 63 years, we could not be happier,' survivor Mauro Pieri told reporters, tears in his eyes. Pieri was 12 when the massacre, in which his mother and brothers were killed, took place. At dawn on August 12, 1944, soldiers of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a paramilitary wing of the Nazi party, surrounded the stone houses of Sant'Anna di Stazzema, forcing people onto the street where they were shot. Most of the victims were women and children -- the youngest was 20 days old. The Sant'Anna massacre was one of many civilian shootings that occurred as German troops retreated to the so-called 'Gothic line' of defense that cut across Italy. However, they came to light only in the mid-1990s, when a filing cabinet full of witness statements was found in Rome. The first trial for the Sant'Anna killings ended in 2005 and sentenced 10 former Nazi officers to life in jail, including the three for which the verdict was confirmed on Thursday -- Gerhard Sommer, Georg Rauch and Karl Gropler. U.S. director Spike Lee is making a film on the village of Sant'Anna and the role of black American soldiers fighting against Nazi occupation there."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. The Spike Lee film sounds like one to look forward to.]

"Italy Rocked by Racist Claims after Gypsy Expulsions"
By Phil Stewart
The Sydney Morning Herald, 5 November 2007
"Italian authorities have torn down a gypsy camp and expelled 20 Romanians from the country while condemning a 'racist' attack in Rome, apparently triggered by the murder of an Italian naval officer's wife. Masked assailants with knives, clubs and canes stabbed and beat four Romanians outside a Rome supermarket late on Friday. One of the victims is in a serious condition. The attack partly overshadowed the funeral in Rome on Saturday of Giovanna Reggiani, 47, who police believe was fatally wounded by a Romanian man as she left a train station on Tuesday. 'We're looking for justice -- severe, austere -- but not intolerance,' the chaplain, Patrizio Benvenuti, said at the funeral. Ms. Reggiani's death prompted authorities to level the Rome gypsy camp where the Romanian suspect lived and to start expelling Romanians deemed to be dangerous. Seventeen expulsion orders were signed in the city of Genoa and three in Rome on Saturday, local media said. The tragedy has sparked a war of words over the immigration policy of the centre-left Prime Minister, Romano Prodi, and raised the threat of racist violence. 'We must prevent this terrible tiger, which is xenophobic rage, the racist beast, from getting out of control,' the Interior Minister, Giuliano Amato, told La Repubblica. ... The Archbishop of Lecce, Cosmo Francesco Ruppi, warned against targeting foreigners and following the 'dangerous path of racism.' Italians have fumed for years over petty crimes by poor immigrants. But, after Ms Reggiani's death, Mr Prodi issued a decree giving prefects the ability to expel European Union citizens who were considered dangerous. The targets of the decree have so far been immigrants from Romania, which joined the bloc this year, and have the same right as other EU citizens to freely travel across borders. 'Nobody imagined having to face 500,000 poor souls that in one year have left Romania for Italy,' Mr. Amato said. A judge must sign off on the expulsion order but no criminal history is necessary and nor is a trial, the Interior Ministry said. [...]"


"Police Linked to Mass Executions"
The Independent, 6 November 2007
"More than 450 young Kenyan men have been executed in the last five months, according to a report from a state-funded national human rights group whose head also questioned why police had not stopped the killings. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights linked the slayings to a war between police and a violent street gang accused of a string of beheadings and fatal shootings earlier this year. The state-funded commission's preliminary report stopped short of directly blaming the police for the deaths, but said the notoriously corrupt force was linked by 'circumstantial evidence.' Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe slammed the allegation as 'total nonsense.' He declined to comment on the commission's figure of 454 Kenyans killed in execution-style murders, but scores of deaths had been reported in a police crackdown on the gang, accused of killing of at least 27 civilians and 15 police officers since April. The human rights group said the majority of the deceased were shot in the head before being deposited in mortuaries around the country. The victims were all from Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu, and lived in the tribe's traditional strongholds north of Nairobi and several slums in the capital. The violent Mungiki gang, an outlawed quasi-political sect, draws its support from thousands of unemployed Kikuyu youth. Mungiki, whose name means 'multitude' in Kikuyu, has been linked in recent years to extortion, murder and political violence. Its members also promote traditional Kikuyu practices, including female genital mutilation. 'The obvious question to ask is, if the police are themselves not responsible, why have they been unwilling or unable to investigate and curb the killings?' said the commission's chairman, Maina Kiai. He said police had been lax in following up tips passed on by residents, and refused to collect some of the bodies after their presence had been reported, leaving them to hyenas and other wild animals. [...]"
[n.b. A pronounced gendercidal dimension here.]


"Jewish Boy Became Nazi Mascot to Survive"
By Maria Danilova, Meraiah Foley, and Randy Herschaft
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 12 November 2007
"Among the splinters of a memory shattered by the Holocaust is Alex Kurzem's image of himself as a jolly little boy who liked to climb an apple tree in the family garden, pretending to be a sailor scanning the horizon from the crow's nest. Then, at about age 6 or 8, a carefree childhood ends and life becomes a story of horror and deliverance. Germans massacre his Jewish family and he flees into the woods where he endures a bitter winter. He is captured by Latvian soldiers sent by the Germans to kill Jews. They dress him in uniform, make him their mascot and protect him for the rest of World War II. Apparently only one of them knows he's Jewish. After the war he immigrates to Australia. He forgets his mother tongue, hometown and real name and becomes a Melbourne suburbanite. Finally he sets out to rediscover his identity, but finds more pain than answers. Now gray-haired and in his 70s (he is still unsure of his age), he tells his story in a book, 'The Mascot,' written by his son and published this month in the United States. But still the search is incomplete. His quest led him to Dzerzhinsk, a village in Belarus, which he has visited four times and come to believe is his real birthplace. Here lies the mass grave from the 1941 massacre of 1,000 to nearly 2,000 Jews, nearly the entire Jewish population of this small town plus Jews brought from nearby settlements. It has never been exhumed, but he thinks his mother, brother and sister are buried in it. Kurzem's story, reconstructed with his son's help and supplemented by Associated Press research, shows how the Holocaust story transmits itself through the generations. It also serves as a reminder of the toll it took on children. [...]"


"Rwandan Journalist Acquitted of Genocide Charges"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 14 November 2007
"A Rwandan journalist has been acquitted of genocide charges by a traditional court after serving 11 years in prison, a human rights group said on Tuesday. 'The journalist is currently at home after being acquitted last week in a session of gacacas [traditional courts] of Ruhango' in the central part of the country, said Venant Nshimyumurwa, a member of the League for the Defence of Human Rights in the Great Lakes (LDGL). He was referring to Tatiana Mukakibibi (42), who was charged in 1996 with genocide, planning and participating in genocide and distributing arms during Rwanda's 1994 genocide that killed about 800 000 people. Mukakibibi was accused of having killed a journalist producing programmes for the country's Agriculture Ministry at the time, a charge she has denied. The media-rights watchdog Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) hailed Mukakibibi's liberation and called the affair closed. 'After 11 years in detention for nothing, we hope this journalist will finally be able to resume a normal life with her daughter, who is now a teenager,' the Paris-based press-freedom group said. After the genocide, Mukakibibi worked for a Catholic priest and former editor. Following her arrest in 1996, she was held in a communal cell in "appalling conditions" before being transferred to a prison last year, RSF said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"An Inconvenient Truth"
By Rosie Millard
New Statesman, 8 November 2007
"Simplicity, and a growing sense of horror, are the two key notions arising from an utterly compelling production of Peter Weiss's The Investigation, by a Rwandan company, Urwintore. Seven actors, all Rwandan, take to the stage. Speaking clearly and calmly, mostly in French (with English surtitles), and an occasional moment in African dialect, they give eye-witness accounts of a genocide, from the arrival of bewildered prisoners at the extermination camps, to the terrifying details of what went on there. No specific details of place and time are included, but it is clear we are in a court of law, with former prisoners testifying against the guards who tortured and murdered millions. The piece is directed by Dorcy Rugamba, a Rwandan whose entire family was massacred in April 1994. Somehow the fact that the performers are speaking French, one of the world's most beautiful languages, makes the horrendous descriptions of brutality and fear even worse. The actors, dressed in white, move quietly around the stage, taking turns to be the central figure of attention, interchanging the roles of torturer and victim in carefully considered performances which sit halfway between recital and acting. ... The actors speak their lines with conviction, not least because they themselves are authentic survivors of genocide. It is a brilliant conceit, providing a spellbinding evening. ... With a running time of around 90 minutes, and no interval, this play is shorter than the German original, but it is long enough. Indeed, some of the descriptions are so brutal that on the night I saw it, several people felt it necessary to leave the auditorium. And yet what the production delivers is not just another miserable immersion in the horrors of human madness, but a more provocative perspective. [...]"
[n.b. An impressive, innovative, risky concept.]

"Amnesty: Don't Send Suspects to Rwanda"
By Daniel Wallis
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 3 November 2007
"Amnesty International urged governments on Friday not to send anyone suspected of crimes during Rwanda's 1994 genocide to be tried in the country, saying it had serious concerns over the justice system. The Central African country wants suspects in the 100-day slaughter of 800 000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus to be transferred to its custody. But Amnesty said that despite improvements in the Rwandan justice system, it had serious concerns about Kigali's ability to investigate and prosecute genocide-related crimes fairly, impartially and in line with international standards. ... Van der Borght said countries where suspects were currently living should prosecute them themselves. He urged the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which has been trying the main architects of the genocide, not to transfer any cases to Rwanda until authorities there had shown they would conduct trials fairly, and would protect all victims and witnesses. Rwanda rejected Amnesty's objections. 'We have been handling many of these cases, more than the ICTR and any other foreign country,' Prosecutor-General Martin Ngoga told Reuters. 'If it's about protecting victims and witnesses, that is a test we have already passed and need no more lessons.' Amnesty said the tribunal should ask the United Nations Security Council for more time and funds to complete trials itself, rather than transferring a number of outstanding cases to Kigali when it winds up its work next year. But Ngoga said the tribunal had already satisfied itself about Kigali's judicial competence. 'The ICTR has done its homework and proved that the Rwandan jurisdiction is competent and ready to handle those cases,' he said. Ngoga said it was unfortunate for Amnesty's accusations to surface just when the ICTR's time to complete its trials was about to end. Since being set up in 1994 and holding its first trial in 1997, ICTR has completed 34 trials, convicted 28 people and acquitted five. The court has 29 trials under way with six pending and it has transferred one case to the Hague, The Netherlands. [...]"


"Running Out of Time in Kosovo"
By Simon Tisdall
The Guardian, 12 November 2007
"With Kosovo's US-backed ethnic Albanian leadership edging doggedly towards a unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia next month, Belgrade has opened a dangerous new front in last-ditch efforts to cling on to its rebel province. Twelve years after the end of a war that cost 100,000 lives and displaced millions, the Bosnian nightmare is returning to haunt the chancelleries of Europe. In case anyone missed the connection, Serbia's Russian-backed nationalist prime minister, Vojislav Kostunica, spelled it out last week: 'Preserving Kosovo and the Serb Republic (the eastern half of Bosnia-Herzegovina) are now the most important goals of our state and national policy.' Recent developments in Kosovo and Bosnia posed 'an open threat to the essential interests of the Serb people,' he warned. Disturbed by scary echoes of Slobodan Milosevic's 'Greater Serbia' policy, western diplomats are scrambling to hold the line with Belgrade. But time is running out, with talks about a Kosovo settlement stalemated and a December 10 deadline for agreement fast approaching. Adding to the urgency, the mandate for the EU's peacekeeping force in Bosnia expires on November 21. The Belgrade embassies of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and US have jointly protested Serbian government statements attacking Miroslav Lajcak, the UN high representative in Bosnia, after he publicly fell out with Bosnian Serb leaders over proposed reforms. They also told Belgrade that its Kosovo-Bosnia linkage was unacceptable. At the same time, the EU last week hastily swallowed concerns about Serbia's failure to apprehend Bosnian war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic and offered Belgrade an association agreement - the first step towards full membership. Balkan commentators said the EU volte-face was a blatant attempt to reconcile Serbia to the impending loss of Kosovo and stop the fallout destabilising Bosnia. [...]"

"Serb Nationalist's Trial Begins in The Hague"
By Marlise Simons
The New York Times, 8 November 2007 [Registration Required]
"The man considered the main propagandist of the Serbian nationalism that led to four disastrous wars went on trial on Wednesday at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. He is accused of inflammatory speech and of numerous crimes committed by his own militia. Uniquely, the defendant, Vojislav Seselj, did not sit in the dock. He had a seat at the bench reserved for defense lawyers, a privilege that he demanded because he is conducting his own defense. Mr. Seselj, 53, the most senior political leader now on trial here, laughed out loud several times as a prosecutor read a four-hour opening statement. Calling him a 'master politician' and an 'autocrat, a shrewd and calculating man,' the prosecutor, Christine Dahl, said that Mr. Seselj had engaged in poisonous propaganda that incited fear and hatred and that his fiery speeches in many towns and at the front lines spurred Serbs to kill, torture and rape in their effort to drive away Croats and Muslims. 'The language Seselj used made his speech criminal,' Ms. Dahl said. The prosecutors will have to demonstrate that Mr. Seselj was accountable for the acts of looting, killing, rape and persecution of Croats and Muslims that they attribute to his militia in the wars that tore up the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. At a pretrial hearing this week, Mr. Seselj said: 'I am being tried for atrocious war crimes that I allegedly committed through hate speech as I preached my nationalist ideology that I am proud of. I have no other involvement in these crimes except for what I said or wrote.' ... Some experts watching the session from the public gallery said they saw the Seselj trial as the most important case since Mr. Milosevic died. While the two men were variously rivals and allies, they were linked in the same project of using a violent campaign to drive away anyone not a Serb from parts of Bosnia and Croatia and thus create a larger homeland only for Serbs. [...]"

"A War Crime Trial Over Words"
By Dejan Anastasijevic
Time Magazine, 7 November 2007
"The trial of Serbian ultranationalist leader Vojislav Seselj may be the last of the major Balkan war-crimes trials to be heard by the Hague Tribunal, but it is also unique for other reasons: Unlike the rest of the politicians and military commanders indicted by the Tribunal, Seselj is not accused of physically hurting anybody, or of being part of a chain of command that ordered mass murder and other abuses. Instead, the politician whose trial began Wednesday is accuse of inciting war crimes by churning out inflammatory speeches and disseminating 'poisonous ideas.' The ambitious indictment may be the last major case before the Tribunal, which is expected to close its courtrooms by the end of 2008 and complete its appeals proceedings by 2010. But there are serious concerns that the new trial could become a mockery of justice, and even help Seselj score some political points at home, where he is widely regarded as a hero, and where he still wields considerable political power as leader of the largest party in the legislature. As a close ally of late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who died during his own trial in 2006, Seselj is indicted for inciting crimes against humanity, including murder, torture and the persecution of Croats, Muslims and other non-Serbs during wars in Bosnia and Croatia in the 1990s. Seselj is nonplussed by the charges, claiming the trial is purely political. ... Although the defendant appeared calm during the first day's proceedings, his long history of defiant, often aggressive behavior suggests that the trial could be a turbulent affair. During five years of preparation for the trial, he tossed obscenities at prosecutors and court clerks during hearings, refused to use a computer and insisted that all court papers (some 250,000 pages) be translated in Serbian Cyrillic (Serbs use both scripts). Like Milosevic, Seselj insisted on being his own defense lawyer, and when the court attempted to assign him an attorney, he went to a 28-day-long hunger strike, until all his demands were granted. [...]"

"US Ponders Freezing Kosovo's Status Until 2020"
By Krenar Gashi and Berat Buzhala
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 2 November 2007
"Billions of euros injected into Kosovo’s budget and a 12-year freeze on its political status, followed by a referendum, form the main planks of a potential settlement for Kosovo under discussion by US diplomats. A senior source within the State Department has described for Balkan Insight and Kosovo's Express daily, parts of a draft proposal for Kosovo that is currently in preparation. 'The US has two options: to recognise, together with a few other countries, Kosovo's independence and to cause thereby many global and regional problems; or to drop formal independence for some years, relaxing tension in the region and boosting Kosovo's economy,' the source said. Balkan Insight has not been able to verify the contents of the proposal from other sources. The new US initiative comes at a time when Kosovo's complex status resolution process has reached an apparent deadlock, and there are no signs of a compromise around the corner. Kosovo Albanians rely on the US to support their demand for independence, while Serbs depend on Russia to oppose it. Facing this unenviable situation, State Department officials are considering a possible alternative option, the source said, without stating by whom, or at what level of seniority, the draft document has been commissioned. ... Kosovo has been administered by the UN since 1999, when NATO's campaign of air strikes forced the Serbian authorities to withdraw from the territory, although formally it remains part of Serbia."


"Britain Wins Right to Send Darfuris Back to Camps"
Reuters dispatch, 14 November 2007
"The British government can send people from Darfur back to Sudan if their claims for asylum have failed, despite fears for their welfare, the country's highest court ruled on Wednesday. The House of Lords overruled the Court of Appeal, which decided in April that it would be 'unduly harsh' to send three Darfuri asylum seekers to Sudanese refugee camps because of the oppressive conditions there. The government appealed against the ruling, trying to reinstate the original decision of an immigration tribunal that the three men -- identified only by their initials -- could be sent back to Sudan. The test case could affect up to 1,000 Darfuris who have sought shelter in Britain from violence and human rights violations in western Sudan. International experts estimate 200,000 people have died in the Darfur conflict and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in 4-1/2 years of fighting between rebel groups and government forces and militias. The three men in the case say they would be persecuted if returned to Darfur. The British government said they could be safely returned despite harsh conditions in refugee camps. The House of Lords said the Court of Appeal should not have questioned the immigration tribunal's findings. Aegis Trust, a group that campaigns to prevent genocide, urged the government to halt any further deportations to Sudan. The trust said two asylum seekers previously sent back had said they were tortured by Sudan's security services when they arrived in Khartoum. [...]"

"Do-Gooders Gone Bad"
By Arlene Getz, 12 November 2007
"[...] Certainly the Save Darfur Coalition—a movement that claims to represent 130 million people through its alliance of more than 180 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations—has been astonishingly effective. It's transformed a remote African crisis into an international cause célèbre. That, in turn, has helped humanitarian agencies get funds from Washington and bolstered efforts to have U.N. peacekeepers deployed to Darfur. Yet for all their success in raising public awareness, there's been little improvement on the ground. And critics say the activists' growing influence hasn't always been helpful. 'The simplicity of their message is getting in the way of a response,' says Harvard University's Alex de Waal, a leading Sudan scholar. Earlier this year aid groups were furious when Save Darfur launched an aggressive ad campaign calling for a no-flight zone over the region; they argued that the ban would cripple efforts to get aid to refugees. They also say that another Save Darfur ad -- which claimed that 'international relief organizations' had agreed that the time for negotiations was over -- prompted the government in Khartoum to hold up visa applications and otherwise interfere with their ability to work. ... Part of the success of Save Darfur's campaign has been to draw the conflict in stark terms -- the Sudanese government and its marauding Arab militiamen versus defenseless African villagers. That certainly helped in getting Congress and the Bush administration to classify the violence as genocide in 2004, which in turn gave a boost to fund-raising efforts. But in fact, the trouble is at least partly rooted in scarce resources: a long drought has drawn an influx of Arab tribes from Chad and northern Darfur onto already settled land. Nor is the fighting solely between the two ethnic groups; an upsurge in violence among Arab tribes this year has left an estimated 600 dead. All the focus on Darfur, too, has naturally drawn attention and resources from other crises -- even in Sudan itself. The peace agreement signed in 2005 in southern Sudan -- a diplomatic coup for the Bush administration that ended a 21-year civil war -- has begun to fray in recent weeks. [...]"

"Darfur's 'Moment of Truth' Yields Little"
By Ellen Knickmeyer
The Washington Post, 8 November 2007 [Registration Required]
"For more than a week, U.N. helicopters have flown back and forth from Darfur, ferrying rebels in the bush to peace talks in Libya and envoys to the bush for consultations with the rebels, U.N. officials say. But since convening the latest international talks to end the 4½-year conflict in the vast region of western Sudan, international mediators have been unable to achieve accord on even the most basic points of the negotiations themselves -- where they should be held and when, and who should take part. International envoys say low-level discussions continue in the Libyan coastal town of Sirte, the home town of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, who provided a marble convention hall the size of a basketball arena for the negotiations. But all major rebel leaders boycotted the opening round of the talks. Substantive negotiations between Sudan's government and the rebels are due in December. Rebel leaders pledged this week to boycott that round as well unless the sponsors of the talks, the United Nations and the African Union, picked a site other than Libya and met other conditions. ... The Darfur rebels took up arms in 2003, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination against the ethnically African villagers of Darfur. The rebels and international groups say the government responded in part by arming militias, known as Janjaweed, although the government denies that. The fighting has left as many as 450,000 people dead and driven more than 2.5 million from their homes. [...]"

"Child Drawings of Darfur Atrocities 'Can Be Evidence'"
By Andrew Grice
The Independent, 2 November 2007
"More than 500 children's drawings illustrating the atrocities in Darfur can be accepted as evidence in a war crimes trial, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has agreed. In August, The Independent revealed the remarkable pictures drawn by children as young as eight after they fled over the border to Chad. They showed attacks on Darfuri civilians by Sudanese government troops and Arab janjaweed militias. Yesterday, the drawings were handed to the ICC, which is prosecuting a Sudanese minister and a militia commander accused of war crimes. They were backed up by written statements from children and adults given to the charity Waging Peace, which campaigns against genocide. The ICC prosecutor's office in The Hague said: 'We are in contact with Waging Peace to see how we could use [the pictures] in proceedings, for example to set the context for the judges as part of the presentation of evidence.' A spokeswoman said the young artists themselves would not be called to give evidence because the ICC did not want them to relive their trauma, but she added: 'Compelling drawings like these are very important and can do much to raise awareness about the situation in Darfur. They tell a lot about the scale and the nature of the violence.' Louise Roland-Gosselin, the director of Waging Peace, presented the drawings at a 90-minute meeting with Gloria Atiba-Davies, the head of the ICC's Children and Gender Unit, and prosecutors. The court has issued arrest warrants for Ahmad Harun, Sudan's former junior interior minister and now humanitarian affairs minister, and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed leader."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"U.S. Promises on Darfur Don't Match Actions"
By Michael Abramowitz
The Washington Post, 29 October 2007 [Registration Required]
"In April 2006, a small group of Darfur activists -- including evangelical Christians, the representative of a Jewish group and a former Sudanese slave -- was ushered into the Roosevelt Room at the White House for a private meeting with President Bush. It was the eve of a major rally on the National Mall, and the president spent more than an hour holding forth, displaying a kind of passion that has led some in the White House to dub him the 'Sudan desk officer.' Bush insisted there must be consequences for rape and murder, and he called for international troops on the ground to protect innocent Darfuris, according to contemporaneous notes by one of those present. He spoke of 'bringing justice' to the Janjaweed, the Arab militias that have participated in atrocities that the president has repeatedly described as nothing less than 'genocide.' ... Yet a year and a half later, the situation on the ground in Darfur is little changed: More than 2 million displaced Darfuris, including hundreds of thousands in camps, have been unable to return to their homes. The perpetrators of the worst atrocities remain unpunished. Despite a renewed U.N. push, the international peacekeeping troops that Bush has long been seeking have yet to materialize. Just this weekend, peace talks in Libya aimed at ending the four-year conflict appeared to be foundering because of a boycott by key rebel groups. Many of those who have tracked the conflict over the years, including some in his own administration, say Bush has not matched his words with action, allowing initiatives to drop because of inertia or failure to follow up, while proving unable to mobilize either his bureaucracy or the international community. [...]"


"U.S.: UN Holocaust Resolution Rejects 'Any Form of Holocaust Denial'"
By Barak Ravid, 3 November 2007
"The United States welcomed on Friday passage by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference of a resolution to promote remembrance of the Holocaust. A statement from State Department spokesman Sean McCormack's office said the resolution clearly demonstrates the refusal of UNESCO's member states to countenance any form of Holocaust denial. That was a reference to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who early this year described as a myth that the Nazis slaughtered millions of Jews and people of other ethnic groups during World War II. The resolution, sponsored by the United States, Israel, Russia, Australia and Canada, asks UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura to work out with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon how UNESCO could promote Holocaust awareness and combat all forms of Holocaust denial. The 193 member states at UNESCO's 34th General Conference, its main decision-makking body, adopted the resolution by consensus. Over recent months, extensive political efforts have been made to recruit international support for a program to promote awareness of the Holocaust by means of battling every form of Holocaust denial and formulating educational curriculums. Under the guidelines of the new program, UNESCO will now be able to prepare educational and instructional curriculums on Holocaust remembrance, and promote the incorporation of such studies in core curriculums, conferences and research worldwide. These activities will be carried out in tandem with the Holocaust remembrance programs currently being developed at the United Nations headquarters in New York. In addition, a permanent exhibit on the Holocaust is set to open at the UN headquarters in New York, to be displayed along the path taken by tourists and visitors on guided tours of the building. The exhibit, a result of extensive efforts made by Israel's Foreign Ministry, aims to balance out the permanent exhibit on Palestinian refugees, also displayed on site."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Ex-Cabinet Officials to Co-Chair Task Force to Prevent Genocide"
By Silvio Carrillo, 13 November 2007
"Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen announced Tuesday they will co-chair a task force to develop guidelines to help future U.S. governments deal with genocide. Madeleine Albright said the idea for the task force came from the failure of genocide prevention worldwide. 'What we know is that the world for a long time has said that genocide is unacceptable,' Albright said at a news conference. 'And yet, genocide continues and mass killings continue, and our challenge basically is to match the words with deeds and actions to stop these kinds of unacceptable acts.' The Genocide Prevention Task Force will be jointly convened by the U.S. Institute for Peace, the Holocaust Museum and the American Academy of Diplomacy. It will focus on early warning, pre-crisis engagement, preventive diplomacy, military intervention, and international institutions in affected countries or regions. A report will be issued in December of next year with the first high-level assessment of U.S. policies and practices in the area of genocide prevention. Organizers are calling it an 'operational blueprint for preventing and responding to genocide and mass atrocities.' It is a need that has recently arisen, according to Cohen, because of the speed at which information is disseminated. 'Because we live in this age of information ... we can no longer live in a state of denial or willful indifference,' he said. 'And so the purpose of this task force is to look to the past, to be sure, but to look forward to say, 'What are the signs, what are the options that will be available to the United States as one of the leading forces to help shape multilateral action, to energize people of conscience, to say that this cannot happen, this is not tolerable?' [...]"
[n.b. Albright seems a strange choice for this position, having presided over one genocide (the UN sanctions regime in Iraq) and having vacillated catastrophically as Rwanda slid into holocaust. Granted, her indictment by the International Criminal Court is unlikely. But to accord her a genocide-specific post, and possible influence over US government policy, appears to me distasteful if not disgraceful.]

"Journalist Chronicling Present-Day Holocausts"
By Kelly Soderlund
The Journal Gazette, 14 November 2007
"They talked about the campaign, and she began congratulating the presidential candidate on the momentum he had built on his path to the Democratic nomination. 'Fourth quarter, baby,' Samantha Power quoted Obama as saying to her. Typically, conversations between Power and Obama involve more than just sports phrases. Obama is usually digging into Power's brain about her experiences as a journalist covering the Bosnian war and the genocide in Darfur in western Sudan. Power spoke on 'The Age of Genocide' Tuesday night at the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Omnibus Lecture and met with the media and students during the day. Power is the Anna Lindh professor of practice of global leadership and public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Her law school term paper evolved into her Pulitzer Prize-winning book 'A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide,' and an article she wrote for the New Yorker on Darfur won a 2005 National Magazine Award for best reporting. Power was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and worked in Obama’s senatorial office from 2005-06. Power became passionate about foreign policy and genocide while attending Yale University when she saw pictures of emaciated men behind a wire fence in Yugoslavia. She asked herself why the United States, as a country that sees itself as prone to moral action, does not live up to that promise. It made her recall the images of the Holocaust, and she was also reminded of the world’s promise that something of that scale would never happen again -- yet it was occurring overseas. [...]"


"Women Die after Nicaragua's Ban on Abortions"
Associated Press dispatch on, 6 November 2007
"Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin -- the victim, her husband and some experts say, of Nicaragua's new no-exceptions ban on abortion. Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez. By the time they took action, it was too late. Nicaragua last year became one of 35 countries that ban all abortions, even to save the life of the mother, according to the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York. The ban has been strictly followed, leaving the country torn between a strong tradition of women's rights and a growing religious conservatism. Abortion rights groups have stormed Congress in recent weeks demanding change, but President Daniel Ortega, a former leftist revolutionary and a Roman Catholic, has refused to oppose the church-supported ban. Evangelical groups and the church say abortion is never needed now because medical advances solve the complications that might otherwise put a pregnant mother's life at risk. But at least three women have died because of the ban, and another 12 reported cases will be examined, said gynecologist and university researcher Eliette Valladares, who is working with the Pan American Health Organization to analyze deaths of pregnant women recorded by Nicaragua's Health Ministry. ... This year the Health Ministry has recorded 84 deaths of pregnant women between January and October, compared with 89 for all of last year and 88 the year before. It listed hemorrhaging as the most common cause, with 27 cases reported. The ministry refused to comment further on the ban. Abortion rights groups have disrupted Congress several times, demanding that lawmakers lift the ban. [...]"
[n.b. It is beyond depressing that this is being done under a pseudo-"Sandinista" government headed by Daniel Ortega, who also ruled during the 1980s, when the Sandinistas had a progressive policy on gender issues and earned my ardent support. For a case-study that captures the evolution of the party into a personalistic political machine, see my book "Beyond the Barricades: Nicaragua and the Struggle for the Sandinista Press, 1979-1998" (Vanderbilt University Press, 2002).]

"Vietnam's Girls Go Missing"
Bt Kay Johnson
Time Magazine, 2 November 2007
"Vietnam is the latest country to report an alarming skew towards boy babies, one that may lead to vast societal upheaval. This week, the United Nations Population Fund said that some 25,000 expected baby girls went 'missing' -- were not carried to term -- in Vietnam last year. The implication is that some expectant parents are aborting unwanted girls once they learn the sex of the fetus through ultrasound technology. Government statistics and a separate U.N. survey in 2006 put the ratio of newborns at 110 boys to every 100 girls -- higher than the 'natural' rate of 105 to 107 boys for every 100 girls. The phenomenon has been reported across Asia. The same U.N. report estimated that a stunning 95 million expected female babies in Asia were reportedly 'disappeared' in 2000 -- 85% of them in China and India. In China, the national average is 120 boys born for every 100 girls. India's reported sex-ratio in 2001 was 108:100 nationwide, but as high as 120 in some areas; some 7,000 girls go unborn in India each day, according to a U.N. Children's Fund report last year. The national 'gender gap' in Vietnam may be narrower than China's, but about a third of Vietnam's provinces, mostly in the poorer north, reported sex ratios skewing as high as 120 boys, equal to China's national average. The societal ravages of such 'gender imbalance' go far beyond the morality of sex-selection abortion: In both India and China, much-cherished sons in rural areas have been growing up to find a shortage of available wives. The U.N. report links the trend to increased violence among frustrated men as well as the trafficking women for sex. 'Sex ratio imbalances only lead to far-reaching imbalances in the society at large,' says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the U.N. Population Fund's executive director. [...]"

"Gendercide at Apocalyptic Levels -- Experts"
By Zofeen Ebrahim
InterPress Service on, 30 October 2007
"Experts at the 4th Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health and Rights are painting an apocalyptical vision of the Asian region where 163 million women are 'missing' and the sex ratio continues to decline as a result of easy access to modern gender selection techniques. China tops the list of countries with a skewed sex ratio at birth (SRB) with just 100 females for every 120 males. India follows going by the country's 2001 census, which revealed that the SRB had fallen to 108 males per 100 females. Experts worry that unless action is taken, Nepal and Vietnam may soon have skewed SRBs. Countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh are already beginning to follow Asia's largest countries with people resorting to medical technology to do away with the girl child at the foetal stage. 'We place it (skewed SRB) in the context of discrimination against women,' said Purnima Mane, deputy executive director UNFPA, while addressing the press. 'Women are not valued.' She predicted that a continuing unhealthy SRB trend could lead to increased violence, migration and trafficking as well as greater pressures on women. 'When there is no economic recognition to women's work and no social value attached to this particular gender, when resource sharing remains inequitable, when women are paid less then it becomes easier to do away with this gender,' said Renuka Chowdhry, India's junior minister for women and child development, at the inaugural of the Oct 29-31 conference. She called for increased women's political participation and a push for laws and legislations that empower them as remedy to the adverse sex ratio. ... But where have all the girls gone? The sobering answer to the unbalanced SRB, according to the latest series of studies commissioned by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), lies in modern gender determination and selective abortions. French demographer Christophe Guilmoto, author of the UNFPA's regional report 'Sex ratio Imbalance in Asia,' based on studies conducted in China, India, Nepal and Vietnam and presented at the conference, referred to it as 'gendercide' in which millions of parents resort to a variety of techniques to ensure male offspring. Choosing gender had become easy with the arrival of amniocentesis in the lae 1970s and later with ultrasound imaging technologies. [...]"


"Genocide Inflation is the Real Human Rights Threat: Yugoslavia and Rwanda"
By Edward S. Herman, 26 October 2007
"We have all heard about 'genocide denial' and 'holocaust denial' as very bad happenings that have focused attention, indignation, and concern to the point of laws passed to criminalize such behavior in Austria, Belgium, France, and elsewhere. But very little attention has been paid to genocide inflation, where killings are wildly exaggerated and claims of genocide are made based on hearsay, rumor, knowing lies, and otherwise problematic 'information.' No indignation has been expressed even over its more egregious illustrations, and no laws have been proposed or passed to punish its practitioners. This is because the focus on denial has been useful to powerful groups and countries in the West, whereas the critics and victims of genocide inflation have been weak and with no political or media leverage. It will be shown below, however, that this pattern not only fails to protect anybody's human rights, but instead allows the powerful to kill and violate human rights more easily. [...]"
[n.b. Another frankly eccentric piece from the often-illustrious Professor Herman, including an analysis of the Rwandan genocide which seems to draw mostly on Michel Chossudovsky's crank-conspiratorial Center for Research on Globalization. Worth reading as such.]

"Genocide Denial and North American Academia: An Interview with Ward Churchill"
By Sara Falconer
The Dominion, 12 October 2007
"[...] Churchill is no stranger to unpopular ideas. Many of his writings have focused on the genocide of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the US. Inspired in part by resistance to his own work, Churchill's current speaking tour focuses on what he calls 'the denial of genocide in American academia.' 'If you were making the exact same arguments and using same techniques to deny the holocaust in Germany, you would be guilty of a crime in Canada,' he says. Most deniers of the German holocaust are nuts, fringe types, he explains. 'When you're talking about native people exactly the same thing is done, only it's the mainstream of academic discourse.' Churchill makes a convincing argument that the historic and systemic oppression of this continent's Indigenous populations does indeed fit within the official definition of genocide as found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide ... 'It's no more acceptable when something is done to victims of one genocide than when it's done to another set of victims,' he says. 'If the ... [Ernst] Zundel types are repugnant -- and they are -- then the people who would deny the native genocide are just as repugnant.' One of the main differences in this context, he points out, is that European whites were largely successful in their conquest. And the victors, of course, write history. 'If you'd had a Nazi victory in Eastern Europe, the situation of any Jews who survived ... would have been quite discernibly different.' At its best, academia can be a space for people of colour and Indigenous peoples to develop their own histories. Churchill presents a different analysis of history, and he doesn't much care if the mass media or his political opponents like it. Overall, he says, Canadians have been more receptive than Americans to his message. He does as many talks in Canada as he does in the US, despite the much smaller population. 'One suspects it is in part because Canadians -- and even progressive Canadians -- tend to view their history as rather less genocidal than that of the United States,' he muses. [...]"
[n.b. Linked late, because I only just found it. This is a very fair-minded profile of my friend Ward Churchill, by any measure one of the important chroniclers of the genocides of North American indigenous peoples. Don't miss Ward's essay on the residential school system in my edited volume, "Genocide, War Crimes & the West: History and Complicity" (Zed Books, 2004).]