Thursday, December 27, 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
December 16-27, 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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"Despite Progress, Cambodian Genocide Tribunal Needs More Money to Forge Ahead"
By Ker Munthit
Associated Press dispatch in The Charleston Daily Mail, 27 December 2007
"With five former leaders of the Khmer Rouge finally in custody awaiting trial -- three decades after their murderous regime tumbled from power -- Cambodia's U.N.-backed genocide tribunal can credibly say it is on the road to justice. But its future hinges on the generosity of foreign aid donors who, responding to reports of alleged corruption and mismanagement by tribunal officials, are demanding greater accountability before agreeing to give more money. The process took a big step forward last month when Kaing Guek Eav, the head of a notorious torture center, became the first major Khmer Rouge figure to appear as a defendant in a public courtroom, appealing unsuccessfully for release on bail. He and four other suspects -- Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Ieng Thirith and Khieu Samphan -- are being held in the tribunal's custom-built jail, awaiting trial on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. But the tribunal says more work is needed to get to full-fledged trials to establish responsibility for the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians under the communist Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. The tribunal is appealing for an unspecified additional sum on top of its budgeted $56.3 million, saying a heavy workload means that its operation, originally supposed to end in 2009, has to be extended through 2010. Peter Foster, a U.N.-appointed spokesman for the tribunal, said the present funds may run out in about six months due to unanticipated costs. [...]"

"Cambodians Seek Quick Genocide Trials"
Associated Press dispatch on, 25 December 2007
"Some 600 protesters marched in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on Tuesday to call for speedier trials for the former leaders of Khmer Rouge regime. A long-delayed, United Nations-backed tribunal is seeking accountability for atrocities during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-79 rule, under which an estimated 1.7 million people died from starvation, disease, overwork and execution. The marchers, including students and Buddhist monks, walked 3 miles to the tribunal's office on Phnom Penh's outskirts. 'If the process of the trial continues to be too slow, then the aging former Khmer Rouge leaders will be die before facing trial,' said Yin Kean, a 72-year-old nun. ;I wish to see these leaders taken to court soon so that they will reveal who is responsible for the deaths of Cambodians under their regime.' The genocide trials are scheduled to begin next year. Five high-ranking former leaders are in detention after being charged with crimes against humanity and other charges. Tribunal spokesman Reach Sambath welcomed the marchers. 'Their presence here is a very significant step, showing that this court has received support from the entire Cambodian population,' he said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Dalai Lama Accuses China of 'Cultural Genocide'"
Indo-Asian News Service dispatch in The Hindustan Times, 19 December 2007
"The Dalai Lama has accused China of 'cultural genocide' in Tibet, in an interview published on Tuesday in the online edition of the German political magazine Cicero. Lhasa was being turned into a Chinese city 'under the pretext of modernity,' said the Tibetan leader, who left the capital to go into Indian exile in 1959. Referring to the disruption in German-Chinese relations following his September meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Dalai Lama said he regretted the 'unpleasantness' caused. And he noted what he called an 'interesting phenomenon' among world politicians: they tended to meet him as long as they did not hold government responsibility, but avoided him once they took office so as not to annoy Beijing. The Dalai Lama said that while he had not been to Tibet in years, indications from refugees crossing the border to India were that Chinese ways were taking over in his country and that many Tibetans were even losing the language of their birth. 'Whether the Chinese authorities acknowledge it or not, at the moment there is a kind of cultural genocide in progress, even if Tibet is currently very fashionable in the People's Republic,' he said. 'Tibet's cultural heritage is under serious threat,' he said, with farmers being pushed into 'model villages' in the name of modernisation. The Dalai Lama repeated his call for autonomy for Tibet. Current contacts with Beijing were not showing any real progress in this regard, he said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch; no link provided because it's three lines long!]


"Record Numbers of Child Soldiers Drafted into Congo War"
By Jonathan Brown
The Independent, 24 December 2007
"Record numbers of children are being recruited to fight on the front line of eastern Congo's escalating and increasingly brutal conflict, it is claimed today. Concern over the plight of child soldiers increased after aid workers for Save the Children reported seeing youngsters in militia close to some of the worst of the fighting near Goma, capital of the war-torn North Kivu district. The charity says that as well as acting as combatants, children are being recruited to work as porters, spies and sex slaves by the rampaging armies. There was also evidence, the charity said, that militias were targeting schools to boost their numbers as clashes between government soldiers and rebels forced 800,000 people to flee their homes in the region, contributing to a major humanitarian emergency as people were left without access to clean water or health care. Hussein Mursal, Save the Children's country director, called on the international community to step in to prevent another generation of Congolese children from being brutalised by armed conflict. 'The situation for children is eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is catastrophic. Fighters from all sides are using children as frontline fodder, raping young girls and attacking houses,' he said. Ex-child soldiers have told aid workers how they were held captive for days in appalling conditions, either as a punishment from their own side or as prisoners of war. Demobilised child soldiers cannot be returned to their homes for fear of being recruited again, the charity said. In the past year, the charity has demobilised 800 children from the armed groups. [...]"


"In Europe, Where's the Hate?"
By Gary Younge
The Nation, 20 December 2007
"[...] the primary threat to democracy in Europe is not 'Islamofascism' -- that clunking, thuggish phrase that keeps lashing out in the hope that it will one day strike a meaning -- but plain old fascism. The kind whereby mostly white Europeans take to the streets to terrorize minorities in the name of racial, cultural or religious superiority. For fascism -- and the xenophobic, racist and nationalistic elements that are its most vile manifestations -- has returned as a mainstream ideology in Europe. Its advocates not only run in elections but win them. They control local councils and sit in parliaments. In Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France and Italy, hard-right nationalist and anti-immigrant parties regularly receive more than 10 percent of the vote. In Norway it is 22 percent; in Switzerland, 29 percent. In Italy and Austria they have been in government; in Switzerland, where the anti-immigrant Swiss People's Party is the largest party, they still are. This is not new. From Austria to Antwerp, Italy to France, fascists have been performing well at the polls for more than a decade. Nor are they shy about their bigotry. France's Jean-Marie Le Pen has described the Nazi gas chambers as a 'detail of history'; Austria's Jörg Haider once thanked a group of Austrian World War II veterans, including former SS officers, for 'stick[ing] to their convictions despite the greatest opposition.' But the attacks of 9/11, the bombings in Spain and Britain and the riots in France gave the hard right new traction. The polarizing effects of terrorism facilitated the journey of hard-right agendas from the margins to the mainstream. Islamophobia became de rigueur. Recently German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a Christian Democrat party congress that 'we must take care that mosque cupolas are not built demonstratively higher than church steeples.' ... Far from being the principal purveyors of racial animus in Europe, Muslims are its principal targets. Between 2000 and 2005 officially reported racist violence rose 71 percent in Denmark, 34 percent in France and 21 percent in Ireland. With few governments collecting data on racial crime victims, it has been left to NGOs to record the sharp rise in attacks on Muslims, those believed to be Muslims and Muslim targets. [...]"


"Menchu Criticizes Guatemalan High Court"
By Juan Carlos Llorca
Associated Press dispatch in The Guardian, 18 December 2007
"Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu lashed out Monday against a Guatemalan high court decision not to arrest or extradite former military officers accused of genocide, torture and terrorism committed at the height of Guatemala's civil war. Menchu, an Indian rights activist, filed charges in Spain against former officials allegedly involved in such abuses, including a 1980 raid that left her father and other protesters at Spain's embassy in Guatemala dead. A Spanish Judge agreed to issue arrest and extradition warrants for former dictator Efrain Rios Montt and other ex-leaders, but Guatemala's high court on Dec. 12 declined to honor his order. Spain's constitutional court in 2005 ruled that its tribunals can hear crimes against humanity cases even when Spanish citizens are not among those affected. 'This only confirms the reason why I did not trust the Guatemalan justice system and filed the complaint in Spain in 1999,' Menchu said of the ruling, which was handed down last week but not announced until Monday. Benito Morales, Menchu's lawyer, said he would ask the court to reconsider the ruling. Menchu said the former officials 'can no longer leave the country because international arrest warrants are still active elsewhere.' The case stems from charges she filed in Spain in 1999 for the disappearance of Spanish priests and a fire allegedly set to oust protesters from the Spanish Embassy during Guatemala's civil war. Menchu's father and 36 others died in the blaze. Rios Montt, who was not in power at the time of the fire, has denied knowledge of any atrocities committed by military officials during his 1982-1983 regime, one of the bloodiest periods in Guatemala's 36-year civil war."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Hindu Mobs Ransack Churches in India"
By Peter Foster
The Telegraph, 27 December 2007
"Twelve village churches were burned and ransacked in eastern India over Christmas as Hindu extremists clashed with members of the Christian minority. One person died and more than 25 were injured in the violence in Orissa state. It was sparked after Hindu hard-liners objected to the scale of a Christmas Eve prayer vigil, according to the Catholic Bishops Conference in New Delhi. More than 450 police had to be deployed to quell the violence, which saw groups of Hindus rampaging through villages in the Kandhamal district, burning the mud and thatch village churches. By yesterday afternoon police said the worst of the violence appeared to have subsided. However, local Christian leaders accused the state authorities of failing to intervene quickly enough, drawing comparison with the anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat in 2002, which left more than 1,000 dead and were state-sponsored according to human rights groups. 'I feel the government has allowed them to continue this sort of thing somehow, because I am afraid they are repeating what happened in Gujarat in the last two-three years,' Raphael Cheenath, the Archbishop of Bhubaneswar, the state capital, told local television. The violence is part of periodic flare-ups between Christians and followers of India's dominant religion who accuse the missionaries of trying to convert low-caste Hindus. Missionary activity is a source of serious tension in parts of India where hard-line Christian groups talk of 'liberating' low-caste Hindus. Rising anti-missionary sentiment has caused several Indian state governments to pass anti-conversion laws which India's Christians -- who represent 2.5 per cent of the country's 1.1 billion population -- are fighting in court."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Iranian Jews Say Republic Safe for Them"
By Ali Akbar Dareini
Associated Press dispatch on, 26 December 2007
"A top Jewish community leader in Iran on Wednesday described the recent immigration of 40 Iranian Jews to Israel as a 'misinformation campaign' and insisted that Jews living in the Islamic Republic were not endangered by the hard-line policies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The 40 Iranians landed in Israel on Tuesday after a secret journey to the Jewish state. No details about their route of exit from Iran were given, but it was assumed they came through a third country. Ciamak Morsathegh, who heads the Tehran Jewish Committee, claimed Wednesday that the immigrants were not Iranian because pictures broadcast on television in Israel on Tuesday did not show their faces. In Israel, the broadcasters did not show their faces because there was concern that publicity could lead to retaliation against their Jewish relatives or friends still in Iran. ... The operation to Israel was sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a charity that funnels millions of dollars from evangelical donors each year. ... Iran's Jewish community of about 25,000 people is protected by the country's constitution and remains the largest in the Muslim Middle East. Synagogues, Jewish schools and stores operate openly. 'We are one of the oldest communities in Iran. We are free to practice our religion. Anti-Semitism is a Western phenomenon but Jews have never been in danger in Iran,' said Morsathegh, who spoke in his office in the Sapir Charity Hospital, which is run by Iranian Jews. Morsathegh said Iran's Jewish community disagreed with Ahmadinejad when he called the Holocaust a 'myth' but insisted his policies do not endanger Iran's Jewish minority. While some of the Iranian Jewish immigrants in Israel were quoted as saying that they were scared to wear a skullcap in the streets in Iran, Morsathegh said it was 'sheer lies.' 'We are Iranian Jews and are proud of our nationality. No amount of money can encourage us to give up Iran. Our nationality is not up for sale,' Morsathegh said."


"Gays Living in Shadows of New Iraq"
By Cara Buckley
The New York Times, 18 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] In January, a United Nations report described the increased persecution, torture and extrajudicial killing of Iraqi lesbians and gay men. In 2005, Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling for gay men and lesbians to be killed in the 'worst, most severe way.' He lifted it a year later, but neither that nor the recent ebb in violence has made Mohammed or his friends feel safe. They yearn to leave Iraq, but do not have the money or visas. They agreed to be interviewed on the condition that their last names not be used. They described an underground existence, eked out behind drawn curtains in a dingy safe house in southwestern Baghdad. Five people share the apartment -- four gay men and one woman, who says she is bisexual. They have moved six times in the last three years, just ahead, they say, of neighborhood raids by Shiite and Sunni death squads. Even seemingly benign neighborhood gossip can scare them enough to move. 'We seem suspicious because we look like a cell of terrorists,' said Mohammed, nervously fingering the lapel of his shirt. 'But we can't tell people what we really are. A cell, yes, but of gays.' ... It is impossible to say how many gay men and women face persecution in Iraq. According to an Iraqi gay rights group, run by a former disc jockey in Baghdad named Ali Hili who now lives in London, 400 people have been killed in Iraq since 2003 for being gay. Set against the many thousands of civilians and soldiers killed in the war, the number is small. But for Mr. Hili, and Mohammed and his friends, it is a painful barometer of just how far Iraq has shifted from its secular past. For a brief, exhilarating time, from the mid-1980s until the early 1990s, they say, gay night life flourished in Iraq. Whereas neighboring Iran turned inward after its Islamic revolution in 1979, Baghdad allowed a measure of liberation after the end of the Iran-Iraq war. [...]"


"For Israel's Arab Citizens, Isolation and Exclusion"
By Scott Wilson
The Washington Post, 20 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] With most of Israel's land controlled by a government agency, Israeli Arabs have long had more trouble acquiring property than Jews, who outnumber them five to one in a population of about 6.5 million people. In response, Arab lawmakers joined a Jewish parliamentary majority this year in endorsing the construction of a new Arab city in the Galilee, where demographic rivalry and ethnic separation are most pronounced. Arabs say it will be the first city built on their behalf since the state's founding. But some Jewish political leaders have suggested that Israel's Arabs, who commonly refer to themselves as Palestinian citizens of Israel, should eventually live in a future Palestinian state, the subject of peace negotiations inaugurated last month in Annapolis, Md. Israel's foreign minister and lead negotiator, Tzipi Livni, said before the meeting that such a state would 'be the national answer to the Palestinians' in the territories and those 'who live in different refugee camps or in Israel.' Arabs and Jews study in separate schools in Israel -- the Arab system receives fewer resources -- and learn Israeli history in different ways. ... Except for a relatively small Druze population, Arabs are excluded also from military service mandatory for all but ultra-Orthodox Jews, an essential shared experience of Israeli life and a traditional training ground for future political leaders. ... 'We have lost the Arab citizens of Israel,' said Amir Sheleg, 63, who is head of security for the Jewish community of Nir Zevi on Israel's coastal plain. 'They no longer want to be a part of the state, and I am sorry for it.' Sheleg, burly and bald, patrolled in a black pickup truck along a concrete wall that rises along the town's edge. The 15-foot-high barrier, funded by the government, divides the leafy streets of Nir Zevi from the adjacent Arab community of Lod. Rising crime, he said, prompted his town to begin building the wall four years ago. 'It only adds hatred,' said Rifat Iliatim, 39, an Arab resident of Lod who sells horses for a living. 'All our lives we lived together and there was respect on both sides. Do they want this part of Israel to be like Jerusalem or Gaza where Jews and Arabs are separate?' [...]"
[n.b. Note to Mr. Iliatim: of course they do. And if you still won't leave, they want to expel you -- to a Bantustan in the "Palestinian territories," as Tzipi Livni's comments suggest.]


"Who Is Killing Kenya's Young Men?"
By Tim Querengesser
The Globe and Mail, 26 December 2007
"For the past six months, corpses have been bobbing up in Kenya's rivers and rotting in forests; they have been dumped unceremoniously beside roads and in morgues -- hundreds of young men, most dispatched with a single bullet to the head. In its chilling preliminary report on the subject late last month, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights said 454 alleged members of a violent gang called the Mungiki had been summarily executed in a massive, extra-judicial crackdown, and it suggested the police were linked to the deaths. Since then, they have done 60 more postmortems on corpses, all with similar wounds. ... Even with an election scheduled for Dec. 27, the killings have not become a high-profile issue. Only a handful of opposition MPs has mentioned the issue during their campaigns. The police crackdown that human-rights groups believe is behind the alleged executions was the response to a murderous Mungiki rampage earlier this year. Hundreds of people were killed, some of their severed heads left in downtown Nairobi, the skin peeled back as though they were bananas. Men with automatic rifles opened fire on motorists, killing dozens. The calls for retaliation were immediate. By June they had become so fierce that President Mwai Kibaki swore he would wipe out the Mungiki. His is the first regime to take on the gang, whose name means 'the multitude' in Kikuyu. Former presidents have collaborated with the group to tighten their grip on power. ... Samwel Mohochi, director of the Independent Medico-Legal Unit believes it is not just the police, but Kenya's government that is involved. 'Our take is that there is state complicity,' he says. ... Al-Amin Kimathi, chair of the Muslim Human Rights Forum, says dozens of witnesses have come forward to the Forum to tell their stories, including one man who survived an attempt by a killer squad to gouge out his eyes, and who later saw several people executed who had been arrested with him. Others have seen people lined up above Nairobi's sewage lagoon and gunned down by police and pushed into the depths, he says. [...]"
[n.b. Gendercide. Thanks to Peter Prontzos for bringing this source to my attention.]

"Dirty War Adds to Kenya's Insecurity"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 15 December 2007
"Crops rot in the fields, farms and schools are abandoned, the black hulks of burned houses dot the landscape. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and many women raped. On a dirt road climbing up through green countryside, a heavily armed patrol of police troops stares nervously into the thick bush, wary of a militia ambush. Burundi? Congo? Rwanda? No, the scene is being played out in Kenya, a country usually seen as a haven of stability in a region scarred by genocide, wars and famine. Here in a beautiful landscape of rolling hills in the west of the country, a dirty and under-reported war is being fought far from the international spotlight. While Kenya has made major economic strides in recent years and has growing democratic credentials, insecurity is one of the biggest concerns of voters ahead of a December 27 national election. Violent death is commonplace across the nation, with the murderous Mungiki gang, deadly raids by rustlers, ethnic and political attacks taking hundreds of lives. As elections have done ever since the first multi-party vote in 1992, the campaign has worsened the mayhem. But the land war in the Mount Elgon region bordering Uganda has deeper roots and has caused the greatest bloodshed. An allocation of government land in July 2006 unleashed a war between the Ndorobo and Soy clans of the Sabaot ethnic group that has killed about 300, mostly civilians. More than 60,000 terrorised people have fled their homes in an area originally populated by 170,000. [...]"


"Pakistan's Missing Are Doubly Lost"
By Bruce Wallace
The Los Angeles Times, 27 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"Abid Raza Zaidi winces occasionally as he tells how police hung him upside down and beat him with leather straps to get him to confess to taking part in a deadly bombing in Karachi. He remembers being forced to stand for hours without rest, and the strange serenity he felt when police said they had determined he was guilty and would execute him in the morning. The police eventually let him go. The 35-year-old doctoral student is home now, surrounded by his beloved books on zoology again, sunlight and the squeals of children filtering into his house in the warrens of a poor Karachi neighborhood. But for four months last year, Zaidi's friends and family had no idea where he was. He is one of hundreds of Pakistanis allegedly swept up by the country's security forces in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, when President Pervez Musharraf began a crackdown on Islamic extremists. Human rights activists say the government has since extended its dragnet to include others who oppose it. At least 600 people, and perhaps hundreds more, are missing, they say, held without charge in undisclosed locations with no access to family or a lawyer. The battle over the fate of Pakistan's so-called disappeared has been a major source of friction between Musharraf and the country's Supreme Court, which over the last year had begun to call the government to account for its missing citizens. In rulings that encompassed more than 100 cases of missing people, then Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry ordered the government to disclose the whereabouts of the missing and file charges or release them. ... The government has been cagey about media reports last week that it freed, or was set to free, about 100 of the missing to assuage international criticism. ... But human rights activists say none of the missing have been released. They say that any move to suddenly do so would only highlight the arbitrary nature of the detentions. [...]"


"A Daily Exercise in Humiliation"
By Mark MacKinnon
The Globe and Mail, 18 December 2007
"Under the supervision of an Israeli soldier clutching an M-16 assault rifle, Qassem Saleh begins his daily disrobing. First, he lifts his bright orange shirt so the soldier can see there's no bomb strapped to his torso. Then, after passing through a metal floor-to-ceiling turnstile, he undoes his belt and hands it over for examination to a second soldier, along with his wallet, mobile phone and cigarettes. The second soldier peruses his documents and asks his reason for travel. The answer is a simple one: Mr. Saleh goes through all this, not to board a plane or visit a prison, but so that he can go home to his family after a day's studies at An-Najah University in Nablus. It's a process Israel says is necessary for security, but one that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians consider their daily humiliation. With a curt nod, Mr. Saleh's documents are returned and he is allowed to pass. The whole process takes an hour and half, turning what would normally be a 15-minute commute each way between An-Najah and his home in the nearby village of Beeta into an ordeal that often sucks up a quarter of his day. 'If a person was carrying anything [illegal] do you think he'd pass through here?' the 23-year-old media student said as he walked through a crowd of taxi drivers shouting offers of rides to the cities of Ramallah and Hebron to the south. 'They just do this to humiliate us, to annoy us into leaving this country.' Tensions run high at the Hawara checkpoint -- a long tunnel of cement blocks and metal fencing covered by a tin roof -- among the most notorious of the more than 500 permanent and temporary roadblocks set up by the Israeli army inside the West Bank. Along with two others, it cuts off the 177,000 residents of Nablus from the rest of the West Bank. Few cars are allowed to pass Hawara, and there are three more checkpoints before a Palestinian from Nablus could reach East Jerusalem, ordinarily an hour's drive to the south. Depending on Israel's interpretation of the security situations, any of the checkpoints can be closed for hours or days at a time. Israeli traffic, meanwhile, flows freely to and from the nearby Jewish settlements of Bracha and Yitzhar along roads Palestinians are barred from using. [...]"


"Saudi Arabia's King Pardons Gang-Rape Victim"
By Megan Levy
The Telegraph, 17 December 2007
"A Saudi woman sentenced to 200 lashes after she was gang-raped has been pardoned by the country's leader, King Abdullah. The woman, known only as Qatif Girl after the area where the crime occurred, had also been sentenced to six months in prison as punishment for being alone in a car with a man who was not a relative. However Saudi Arabia's al-Jazira newspaper reported today that King Abdullah had pardoned the woman, who was 18 at the time of the attack last year. Saudi Justice Minister, Abdullah bin Muhammed, told the newspaper that the pardon did not mean the king doubted the country's judges, but instead acted in the 'interests of the people.' ... There was an international outcry when a Saudi court handed down the flogging sentence last month. Her offence was in meeting a former boyfriend, whom she had asked to return pictures he had of her because she was about to marry another man, in 2006. The couple was sitting in a car when a group of seven Sunni men kidnapped them and raped them both, lawyers in the case told Arab News. The former boyfriend was also sentenced to 90 lashes for being with her in private. The woman was originally sentenced to 90 lashes and a prison-term of several months, which was increased to 200 lashes and six months in jail after she spoke out publicly about her case. ... The attackers received sentences ranging from two to nine years after being convicted of kidnapping, apparently because prosecutors could not prove rape, according to HRW which reported that the judges ignored evidence from a mobile phone video taken by the men during the assault."
[n.b. I was not aware that "the former boyfriend was also sentenced to 90 lashes" -- somehow, this did not make headlines worldwide. And I presume that punishment will go ahead. Interesting.]


"Serbia Adopts Kosovo Resolution"
By Dusan Stojanovic
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 26 December 2007
"Serbia's parliament overwhelmingly adopted a resolution Wednesday that threatens to halt the country's integration into the European Union and cut off diplomatic ties with Western countries if they recognize Kosovo's independence. The resolution -- passed with 220 votes in favor, 14 against and three abstentions -- also obliges Serbian officials to reject Kosovo's statehood and denounces NATO for allegedly supporting the separatist Kosovo Albanians. Ethnic Albanians, who account for about 90 percent of Kosovo's 2 million people, have said they would proclaim independence early next year. The U.S. and several EU states have said they would recognize Kosovo's independence because it has not been under Serbia's control since 1999, when NATO intervened to stop former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's military crackdown against the separatists. Serbia, backed by Russia, insists Kosovo -- considered the cradle of Serbia's medieval state and religion -- should remain part of its territory, and has urged more negotiations with Kosovo Albanians. During a fiery debate in Parliament, Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica accused the U.S. of blocking efforts to find a compromise with ethnic Albanians by its open support of Kosovo's independence. ... Serbia's pro-Western President, Boris Tadic, was more moderate in his speech, saying Serbia must strive to keep Kosovo, but that it should not give up 'its European future' along the way. [...]"

"Kosovo Independence Process Cannot Be Held Back: EU"
Reuters dispatch, 20 December 2007
"The European Union must be ready to guide Kosovo on an unstoppable path to independence after the U.N. Security Council failed to agree on the Serb province's future, the incoming EU presidency said on Thursday. 'The EU and Kosovo have to agree what to do next in a reasonable manner and without any blackmail. It's clear that certain processes cannot be held back,' Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, whose country takes over the rotating EU presidency from January 1, told a news conference. As expected, the U.N. Security Council failed on Wednesday to bridge deep divisions over the future of Kosovo, whose Western-backed independence drive is firmly opposed by Serbia and its ally Russia. A large majority of EU states are expected to recognize an independence declaration by leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority expected early next year. The EU is also preparing to take over police duties there from the United Nations. 'We are ready. If I interpret the mood right in the EU, we are prepared to recognize the reality that exists in the Western Balkans,' Rupel said, adding he expected the province's status to be resolved by end-June at the latest. Several countries, notably Cyprus and Greece, are reluctant to recognize any one-sided declaration of independence from Kosovo, either because of concerns over the legality of the move or the encouragement it may give to other separatist groups."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Despite Aid, Malnutrition in Darfur Rises"
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, 27 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"Child malnutrition rates have increased sharply in Darfur, even though it is home to the world's largest aid operation, according to a new United Nations report. A spokeswoman for the United Nations’ aid operations said that attacks on Darfur aid workers were up 150 percent this year. The report showed that 16.1 percent of children affected by the conflict in Darfur, a vast, turbulent region in western Sudan, are acutely malnourished, compared with 12.9 percent last year. For the first time since 2004, the malnutrition rate, a gauge of the population’s overall distress, has crossed what United Nations officials consider to be the emergency threshold. Just as important, the increase has occurred despite the efforts of more than 13,000 relief workers in Darfur, who work for 13 United Nations agencies and some 80 private aid groups, and draw from an annual aid budget of about a billion dollars. Aid officials said they were concerned that even with all these resources, the condition of the people in Darfur seemed to be getting worse. ... The report seems to confirm what aid officials in Darfur have been saying for much of the past year: that the increasingly chaotic security situation, both inside the enormous camps of displaced people and in the desiccated rural areas that are very difficult to reach even in the best of times, has gotten to the point that it is hampering the delivery of much needed emergency food. ... United Nations officials say the number of zones they could not reach has steadily increased this year, because of the attacks on aid workers and food convoys. Much of this violence seems to be a result of the fragmentation of the conflict, with rebel groups splintering into warring factions and formerly allied militias turning on one another. To counter this, the United Nations and the African Union are trying to send in an expanded, joint peacekeeping force. But that deployment has been delayed by bureaucratic battles with the Sudanese government and the reluctance of developed countries to supply high-tech equipment, like helicopters. [...]"

"World Powerless to Stop Darfur's Killing and Carnage"
By Mohamed Hasni
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 25 December 2007
"Diplomatic wrangling dashed hopes for an end to the killing and rape in Darfur this year and a new UN-backed peacekeeping mission scheduled to start on January 1 faces an uphill struggle. UN Darfur envoy Jan Eliasson and his African Union counterpart Salim Ahmed Salim have had scant success trying to revive and broaden a peace deal reached last year between the Khartoum government and rebel groups in the strife-torn region of western Sudan. There has been no end to the violence -- which the United States calls 'genocide' -- and both sides are still blaming each other for the carnage and destruction that began in February 2003. The combined effects of war and famine have killed at least 200,000 people with more than two million displaced, according to UN estimates. UN and AU-mediated talks in the Libyan city of Sirte in October, aimed at persuading Darfur rebel leaders to join peace negotiations, got nowhere because the main rebel groups boycotted the event. But the two envoys have vowed to keep pushing for a political solution despite the fragmentation of rebel groups and the continuing violence. Two main rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) headed by Khalil Ibrahim, and a faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM) headed by Abdel Wahid Nur, continue to reject negotiations with Khartoum until security is improved in Darfur. Khartoum says its forces have observed a ceasefire since October. However, UN experts and independent bodies insist the violence is raging on. [...]"


"Investigation Into Murder of Assyrian Researcher in Sweden May Have Been Botched"
By Nuri Kino
Assyrian International News Agency dispatch, 21 December 2007
"[...] Rumours of who could have murdered Fuat Deniz have spread like wildfire over the whole world and many human rights activists, people searching after the truth, and researchers who originate from the Middle East are today scared and shocked. 'I've not left home since that day' and 'my brother has moved in with me' both a prominent writer and a well known historian have said. We are many who hope that what happened is an act of madness, as anything else would be very difficult to live with. Dr. Deniz once wrote 'Democracy is not a fixed entity, it requires action'. The Örebro police need to act. On December 20 I discovered that the police in Örebro had eventually asked The National Criminal Police Corps murder commission for help. I called the police to find that the head of information is on holiday. A woman answered and explained that the prosecutor in charge of the investigation was not there either as he is sick and has no deputy. She explained that the police in Örebro will be reducing the number of police on duty over the coming holiday period. I asked how the work was going, and as to whether they were making progress. The answer was: 'We have no Columbo here, covering all bases, but we have competent staff.' In regards to my question as to whether they had sealed off Dr. Deniz's office at work, she answered that she didn't know but didn't believe they had. She didn't know why they had contacted the murder commission either. 'We believe that we are competent enough that we don't need them yet, that's why we will work together after New Year. They too have a heavy schedule.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Thea Halo for bringing this source to my attention.]


"Turk's Genocide Denial Appeal Rejected"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Gulf Times, 20 December 2007
"Switzerland's Federal Tribunal yesterday rejected a Turkish activist’s appeal over his conviction for having denied that mass killings of Armenians during World War One constituted genocide. The tribunal, which is the country’s supreme court, confirmed in every respect an earlier ruling against Dogu Perincek, leader of a small left-wing group, the Turkish Workers' Party. On March 7 this year, a court in Lausanne fined Perincek 3,000 Swiss francs ($2,500) and handed down a suspended sentence for having 'denied the Armenian genocide three times during meetings held in Switzerland in 2005, motivated by racist motives.' Pierre-Henri Winzap, the judge who heard the Lausanne case, ruled that Perincek's comments had not been motivated by a wish to start a historical debate. He had described the defendant as an 'arrogant provocateur' with 'racist and nationalist motives.' The ruling made Perincek the first person to be convicted in Switzerland for denying the Armenian genocide, following his claim the killings were an 'international lie.' Yesterday's Federal Tribunal ruling is unlikely to please the Turkish government. A Turkish foreign ministry statement issued shortly after the original March judgment described it as unacceptable and criticised Swiss media coverage of the case as biased. It added: 'We hope this injustice will be corrected in the future stages of the legal process by the impartial and independent judges we believe exist in Switzerland.' Having exhausted all legal avenues in the Swiss courts, Perincek could now appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. According to the Armenians, 1.5mn of their kinsmen were killed from 1915 to 1917 under an Ottoman Empire campaign of deportation and murder."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"The Lakota Will Never Forget Wounded Knee 1890"
By Tim Giago, 24 December 2007
"[...] On December 29, 1968, as they have done for many years, the Lakota people were gathered around the mass grave at Wounded Knee to pray. And on December 29, 1990, they would gather to mourn the 100th anniversary of the massacre of their people. To the non-Indians of South Dakota and the rest of America, December 29, 1990 was another day. But to the Lakota people, December 29 was a day they commemorated every year since 1890. It was a day when nearly 300 of their relatives were shot to death in cold blood by the enlisted men and officers of the 7th Cavalry. Ironically, 21 members of the 7th Cavalry were awarded Medals of Honor for this horrific slaughter of women and children. White people ask why we Lakota still talk about Wounded Knee as if it was not ancient history. If something terrible happened to your grandmother -- that's right, your grandmother -- something so heinous that it became a part of American history, would you still consider that to be ancient history? I think not. ... Consider this. On December 29, 1890, my grandmother, Sophie, was a 17-year-old student at the Holy Rosary Indian Mission, a Jesuit boarding school just a few miles from Wounded Knee. She was called out with the rest of the students to feed and water the horses of the soldiers of the 7th Cavalry that had just rode on to the mission grounds chasing down survivors that had escaped the slaughter. My grandmother recalled seeing blood on their uniforms and she overheard them bragging about the mighty victory they had just scored at Wounded Knee. That's right, my grandmother, who is now deceased, remembered. Now does that make the Massacre at Wounded Knee ancient history to me? You bet that it does not. Many other Lakota still living today had grandmothers and grandfathers that were either killed or survived the massacre. No, it is not ancient history to the Lakota. [...]"

"Lakota Sioux -- The Bravest Americans"
By Kathryn A. Graham, 22 December 2007
"[...] In September of this year, the United Nations passed a non-binding Resolution on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Naturally, Canada, the United States and Australia refused to sign, but this resolution paved the way for a move that has been waiting in the wings, so to speak, since the 1970s. On Wednesday of this week, Russell Means led a delegation of the Lakota Sioux people to the U.S. State Department and the embassies of Bolivia, Chile, South Africa and Venezuela, declaring their secession from the United States of America. Means stated, 'We are no longer citizens of the United States of America and all those who live in the five-state area that encompasses our country are free to join us.' The lands of the Lakota Sioux encompass portions of Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. In the coming weeks, they will take their diplomatic mission overseas to seek further support. Means also stated that anyone willing to renounce their U.S. citizenship would live on Lakota land tax free, and that the Lakota would issue their own passports and driving licenses. Since a large group of libertarians have recently moved to Wyoming, this opens up some interesting possibilities for a free society growing up in our midst. The coming road will not be an easy one. I cannot see the U.S. neo-conservatives leaving this alone. I imagine that there will be another bloody and vicious siege taking place on Lakota land, but I also believe that Means has timed his move correctly. If this happens as I fear it will, the neo-conservatives will be the clear authors of their own destruction. The American people have had enough! You go, Russell!! You are the bravest and best of us, and the sanest and best of America stands with you in the trials you will face over the coming months and years."

"Lakota Indians Withdraw Treaties Signed With U.S. 150 Years Ago", 20 December 2007
"The Lakota Indians, who gave the world legendary warriors Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse, have withdrawn from treaties with the United States. ... A delegation of Lakota leaders has delivered a message to the State Department, and said they were unilaterally withdrawing from treaties they signed with the federal government of the U.S., some of them more than 150 years old. The group also visited the Bolivian, Chilean, South African and Venezuelan embassies, and would continue on their diplomatic mission and take it overseas in the coming weeks and months. Lakota country includes parts of the states of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The new country would issue its own passports and driving licences, and living there would be tax-free -- provided residents renounce their U.S. citizenship, Mr Means said. The treaties signed with the U.S. were merely 'worthless words on worthless paper,' the Lakota freedom activists said. ... The Lakota relaunched their journey to freedom in 1974, when they drafted a declaration of continuing independence -- an overt play on the title of the United States' Declaration of Independence from England. Thirty-three years have elapsed since then because 'it takes critical mass to combat colonialism and we wanted to make sure that all our ducks were in a row,' Means said. One duck moved into place in September, when the United Nations adopted a non-binding declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples -- despite opposition from the United States, which said it clashed with its own laws. 'We have 33 treaties with the United States that they have not lived by. They continue to take our land, our water, our children,' Phyllis Young, who helped organize the first international conference on indigenous rights in Geneva in 1977, told the news conference. ... Oppression at the hands of the U.S. government has taken its toll on the Lakota, whose men have one of the shortest life expectancies -- less than 44 years -- in the world. Lakota teen suicides are 150 per cent above the norm for the U.S.; infant mortality is five times higher than the U.S. average; and unemployment is rife, according to the Lakota freedom movement's website."
[n.b. I must confess I did a double-take when I saw the phrase "oppression at the hands of the U.S. government" on Fox News!]


"The Torture Tape Fingering Bush as a War Criminal"
By Andrew Sullivan
The Sunday Times, 23 December 2007
"[...] This is not, of course, the first big scandal to have emerged over the administration's interrogation policies. You can fill a book with the sometimes sickening details that have come out of Guantanamo Bay, Bagram in Afghanistan, Camp Cropper in Iraq and, of course, Abu Ghraib. The administration has admitted that several prisoners have been killed in interrogation, and dozens more have died in the secret network of interrogation sites the US has set up across the world. The policy of rendition has sent countless suspects into torture cells in Uzbekistan, Egypt, Jordan and elsewhere to feed the West's intelligence on jihadist terrorism. But this case is more ominous for the administration because it presents a core example of what seems to be a cover-up, obstruction of justice and a direct connection between torture and the president, the vice-president and their closest aides. ... What are the odds that a legal effective interrogation of a key Al-Qaeda operative would have led many highly respected professionals in the US intelligence community to risk their careers by leaking top-secret details to the press? What are the odds that the CIA would have sought to destroy tapes that could prove it had legally prevented serious and dangerous attacks against innocent civilians? What are the odds that a president who had never authorised waterboarding would be unable to say whether such waterboarding was torture? What are the odds that, under congressional grilling, the new attorney-general would also refuse to say whether he believed waterboarding was illegal, if there was any doubt that the president had authorised it? The odds are beyond minimal. Any reasonable person examining all the evidence we have -- without any bias -- would conclude that the overwhelming likelihood is that the president of the United States authorised illegal torture of a prisoner and that the evidence of the crime was subsequently illegally destroyed. ... It's a potential Watergate. But this time the crime is not a two-bit domestic burglary. It's a war crime that reaches into the very heart of the Oval Office. [...]"


"What Honour in Killing?"
By Houzan Mahmoud
New Statesman, 21 December 2007
"For decades women in Kurdistan have been subjected to all kinds of discrimination and suppression. Falling in love with the 'wrong' person can cost you your life. Sex outside marriage may bring a death sentence. The price of bringing 'shame' upon family honour can be a woman’s life. The breakdown of law and order in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion has exacerbated the situation -- earlier this month Youssif Mohammed Aziz, the regional minister for human rights in Kurdistan reported that at least 27 women had been murdered in the region over the last four months in 'honour killings'. There have been many cases of brutal killings, but this is only one side of the story. Many women and young girls have taken or attempted to take their own lives as a way of resisting the social control and subordinated role imposed upon them. For example, Kurdistan’s Hawlati newspaper published a report carried out by a hospital in Sulaymania recording more than 7000 cases of women setting fire to themselves between 2000 and 2007. Only after the stoning of a seventeen-year-old Yazidi girl, Dua Khalil Aswad, did the Kurdistan Regional Government issue a statement condemning so called 'honour killings' and violence against women. But soon after the statement was issued more than seventy women were killed for similar reasons and to this date none of the killers have been arrested. ... In a society where violence and sexual abuse towards women is a widespread cultural phenomenon it can be hard to see where any improvement in the conditions and rights of women can be made. [...]"


"US: New Law Extends Prosecutions for Genocide"
Human Rights Watch dispatch on Reuters AlterNet, 26 December 2007
"The Genocide Accountability Act closes a loophole by allowing the United States to prosecute individuals for taking part in genocide abroad, Human Rights Watch said today. President George W. Bush signed the bill into law on December 21, 2007. 'The new law will help prevent the United States from becoming a safe haven for perpetrators of genocide,' said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. 'Its adoption sends an important signal of US commitment to bring to justice those who are responsible for this most heinous crime.' The new law supersedes the Genocide Convention Implementation Act, which allowed for the prosecution of only US citizens for participation in genocide abroad. Under the new law, introduced by Senator Richard Durbin, prosecutors can pursue even non-citizens involved in genocide outside the United States. The Justice Department is investigating several men suspected of taking part in genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia who allegedly entered the United States under false pretenses. However, under the old US law, they could not be prosecuted for genocide because they are not American citizens and their alleged crimes were committed outside of the United States. ... The Genocide Accountability Act is one of three bills introduced by Durbin that would give the United States the authority to prosecute people found in the US who have participated in serious human rights abuses anywhere in the world. The other bills, the Trafficking in Persons Accountability Act and the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, have both been unanimously endorsed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and are awaiting passage by the full Senate. [...]"

"Western Promises"
By Marc Perelman
The Nation, 7 January 2007
"[...] [Milosevic] accused the [ICTY] of being a tool of realpolitik wielded by major Western powers; Western officials have routinely dismissed such allegations as conspiracy theories. They will have a much harder time making that argument with Florence Hartmann, a former official at the ICTY, who in 'Paix et châtiment: Les guerres secrètes de la politique et de la justice internationales' (Peace and Punishment: The Secret Wars of Politics and International Justice), published in September in France, describes how the ICTY has been hampered not only by the predictable obstruction of Balkan governments but also by the meddling hands of its main sponsors -- France, Britain and the United States. ... Hartmann argues that France, Britain and the United States have obstructed the court in order to avert the public disclosure, during the course of a trial, of their failure to prevent the violent implosion of Yugoslavia and, more egregious, despite ominous warning signs, the July 1995 Serbian-led massacre of an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys in the town of Srebrenica. ... While acknowledging their failure to prevent Srebrenica -- which was documented in French and Dutch parliamentary reports published in November 2001 and April 2002, respectively -- UN, NATO and Western officials have always claimed they never imagined that the Bosnian Serb takeover of the city would result in the worst massacre on European soil since World War II. And they have consistently rejected the accusation that they purposely allowed the Bosnian Serb takeover of Srebrenica and, a few days later, Zepa in order to negotiate the release of dozens of UN troops being held hostage by Bosnian Serbs or to facilitate the peace agreement that was reached four months later in Dayton. Western officials have stressed that major powers actually prevented Mladic from taking over Gorazde. In recent years, that official version of history has come under scrutiny. In 'Srebrenica: Un génocide annoncé' (Srebrenica: A Genocide Foretold), a book published in France on the tenth anniversary of the massacre, French writer Sylvie Matton offers some fresh acknowledgments by senior European political and military officials -- mostly French -- that the tragic fate of the enclave was no mystery. The most vivid acknowledgment is provided by Alain Juppé, who was prime minister of France at the time of the Srebrenica massacre. 'It was widely known that the Serbs wanted to take the enclaves and annihilate the men,' Juppé told Matton, who then asked Juppé what he meant by 'annihilate.' 'Let's say we knew they would take no prisoners,' he answered. [...]"
[n.b. If Juppé's declarations are true, they are certainly grounds to prosecute key western leaders for ocmplicity in genocide.]


"10 Humanitarian Crises Forgotten (But Not Gone)"
By Claire Soares and Daniel Howden
The Independent, 20 December 2007
"Colombia. While the cocaine trade regularly features in the headlines, little attention is devoted to the scale of the internal refugee crisis. After four decades of civil conflict that has evolved from a war of political ideologies to a struggle for territory and control over the narcotics trade, large numbers of Colombians live in areas controlled by militia or guerrillas. With basic human rights under threat and unpredictable violence endemic in many rural areas, millions have fled to the shantytowns -- or barrios -- that ring every major town. Nearly four million people live in these insecure settlements cut off from basic state services such as mains electricity, water and health care. In the endless slums that now choke the capital, Bogota, areas are divided up and fought over by the same paramilitaries and left-wing rebels that blight and dominate the countryside. [...]"
[n.b. The other crises: Sri Lanka, Somalia, Burma, Malnutrition, Chechnya, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Congo, Tuberculosis.]


"'Dirty War' Suspect to Stand Trial over Murdered Italians"
By Paul Bompard
The Times, 26 December 2007
"A man suspected of kidnapping, torturing and murdering opposition activists in South America in the 1970s and early 1980s has been arrested in Italy and faces a landmark prosecution there. Nestor Jorge Fernández Troccoli, a former naval intelligence officer in Uruguay, is believed to have been involved in Operation Condor, the covert operation by several military dictatorships to eliminate dissidents. The Italian authorities have issued another 139 arrest warrants for senior political leaders and officers considered responsible for the deaths of an estimated tens of thousands of 'Desaparecidos' -- the disappeared. Many had dual South American and Italian nationality and the Italian authorities will request their extradition so they can stand trial in Italy. Under Italian law, magistrates can investigate the killings of Italian citizens overseas, and this is the first time that the Italian authorities have gone after those blamed for South America's 'Dirty War'. Mr. Troccoli, 60, of Montevideo, is believed by Italian investigators to have been an operative of Fusna, the Uruguayan naval intelligence service. He had been living in Salerno, southern Italy, for several years. He was arrested on Christmas Eve and will be transferred to a prison in Rome after the holiday. A warrant for his arrest was also issued by Uruguay after he failed to appear in court on similar charges in Montevideo. The investigation leading to the issue of the Italian arrest orders originated with evidence from relatives of Italian nationals who were among the 'Desaparecidos'. The 140 warrants include orders for the arrest of the former Argentine dictator General Jorge Rafaél Videla; Emilio Eduardo Massera, the former chief of the Argentine Navy; and Jorge María Bordaberry, who led a military dictatorship in Uruguay in 1973-76. According to the court's reconstruction of events, Mr. Troccoli was often present at the Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada in Argentina, where many hundreds of political opponents were detained, tortured and killed. The specific charges against him are multiple homicide and kidnapping regarding four members of an Uruguayan anti-government group."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Saturday, December 15, 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
December 7-15, 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


"'Dirty War' Defendant's Family Detained"
Associated Press dispatch on, 14 December 2007
"Police have detained the wife and two children of a former coast guard officer who died in custody while facing a dictatorship-era human rights trial, hours after an autopsy found cyanide in the man's blood, a judge said Friday. Hector Febres, 66, who was accused of kidnapping and torturing dissidents during the past military dictatorship, died in his cell at a navy brig Monday, four days before an expected verdict in his high-profile trial. Autopsy results showed Febres had cyanide in his bloodstream at the time of his death. Federal Judge Sandra Arroyo Salgado said that she had ordered the detention of two officers in charge of the navy brig, in addition to the family members. The judge's office did not explain the reason for the detentions, which came hours after the release of autopsy results. Authorities said they had not immediately determined if Febres poisoned himself. Febres, who was facing life in prison on charges related to the disappearance and torture of four people during the dictatorship's 'Dirty War' crackdown on dissent, was the first suspect tried for abuse at the notorious Navy Mechanics' School, the largest prison camp of the 1976-1983 junta. During his trial, Argentine prosecutors characterized Febres as a fierce torturer. His defense team insisted he was innocent. Jailers found Febres dead in his cell before breakfast on Monday. [...]"

"Argentina's New President Fernandez Pledges to Speed Up Genocide Trials"
Associated Press dispatch in The New Zealand Herald, 12 December 2007
"Cristina Fernandez was sworn in yesterday as Argentina's first elected female President, completing a rare husband-wife transfer of power as she promised to keep the nation's economic recovery moving forward. Fernandez, whose husband is credited with leading Argentina out of its 2001-2002 economic meltdown, vowed to deepen the centre-left economic programmes of outgoing President Nestor Kirchner, create jobs and reduce high poverty levels. During her hour-long inaugural speech, Fernandez's voice rose in anger as she demanded that dozens of slow-moving court investigations of human rights abuses of the 1976-83 dictatorship be speeded up. 'I expect that in the four years of my term, trials that have been delayed more than 30 years will be concluded. We must try to punish those who were responsible for the greatest genocide in modern Argentine history,' she said. Nearly 13,000 people are officially listed as missing or dead. Fernandez's main challenge will be to prolong an economic recovery that has seen annual growth rates above 8 per cent in recent years."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Bosnian War General Jailed for 33 Years"
By Alexandra Hudson
The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 December 2007
"The United Nations tribunal in The Hague has sentenced a former Bosnian Serb general to 33 years in jail for ordering the deadly shelling of Sarajevo and terrorising its civilians during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war. Judges yesterday found Dragomir Milosevic guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity that include responsibility for terror, murder and indiscriminate attacks on civilians by troops of his Sarajevo Romanija Corps unit of the Bosnian Serb Army. 'The evidence presents an horrific tale of the encirclement and entrapment of a city and its bombardment,' Judge Patrick Robinson said. Milosevic became commander of the corps in August 1994, taking over from Stanislav Galic, a former Bosnian Serb general already sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in the siege. Judge Robinson said modified air bombs, highly inaccurate weapons, were first used under Milosevic's command. 'Each time a modified air bomb was launched, the accused was playing with the lives of the citizens of Sarajevo.' Prosecutors had demanded life imprisonment for the 65-year-old. Sarajevo's plight became synonymous with the Bosnian war, with television images of sniper and shell fire raining down on the city's mainly Muslim population from the steep surrounding hills broadcast around the world. In one infamous attack, in August 1995, 43 people were killed and 75 wounded when a mortar shell hit people queuing for bread at the city market. ... Research by the Sarajevo-based Investigation-Documentation Centre has found about 14,000 people were killed in the Sarajevo area during the war. Of these, more than 10,000 -- mostly Muslims -- were killed in the Muslim-held part of Sarajevo. [...]"


"In Japan, Denial over Nanjing Still Holds Sway after 70 Years"
By Takehiko Kambayashi
The Christian Science Monitor, 14 December 2007
"[...] During the Rape of Nanjing, as the event is generally known, 300,000 people were killed, 20,000 women raped, and the city ravaged, say Chinese authorities. But 70 years after Japanese soldiers took the then-Chinese capital on Dec. 13, 1937, battles over everything from numbers of casualties to the extent of the brutality in the six weeks after the Japanese marched in remain a point of contention. Japan has not, in its neighbors' eyes, fully addressed past wrongs -- the result, say some experts, of a postwar lack of examination of the emperor's wartime role; an often-disdainful attitude toward Korea and China, which Japan occupied; and a lack of broad public awareness of wartime history. In March, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the military's involvement in wartime sexual slavery, triggering an international uproar. In June, some 100 lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said that the number of those killed by Japanese troops during the Nanjing Massacre was closer to 20,000. Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's repeated visits to Yasukuni Shrine, where 14 war criminals are memorialized with the rest of Japan's war dead, infuriated China and Korea, as have textbooks that experts say whitewash atrocities. A vocal minority continues to go further in Japan. 'I'm sure that there were absolutely no Japanese soldiers' assaults on Chinese civilians,' says Masaru Naya, a former senior officer, at the Yasukuni meeting. Heidayu Kondo, a captain of the infantry regiment, said it was calm in the city, as did Tomeji Kita, an 89-year-old former infantry corporal. Countering that view can be challenging. Akinori Fukuda is a leader of the Association of No More Nanjings, a Tokyo-based civic group that invited two Chinese victims to speak earlier this month and showed the not-yet-released independent film 'Closed Memories' at the event, in which some Japanese soldiers acknowledge atrocities. He notes the lack of interest. 'No media came here to report,' he says. 'There were no TV cameras.' [...]"

"As Victims Still Mourn, China Marks 70 Years since Rape of Nanking"
By Tim Johnson
Yahoo! News, 12 December 2007
"Seven decades after Japanese soldiers poured through the old city walls of Nanjing, launching a six-week killing spree known as the Nanjing Massacre, the memories are still raw for Zhang Xiuhong. 'I really hate the Japanese,' Zhang said, dissolving into tears. 'I have repeated this thousands of times. I really, really hate them.' Now 81, Zhang was only 11 during the infamous Japanese rampage, a seizure so violent that it's also known as the Rape of Nanking, the city's former name. For Zhang, that's an accurate description, for she, too, was raped. China this week marks the 70th anniversary of the massacre, reopening the Memorial Hall to the Victims after a two-year $33 million face-lift. But China treads a fine line as it promotes condemnation of the massacre while trying to protect trade and diplomatic relations with Japan, which are on the mend after years of severe stress. When the renovated memorial is unveiled Thursday, no senior leader of the central government is likely to attend. News coverage in China will be muted. Chinese officials say they've rebuilt the memorial not to evoke bitterness and anti-Japanese sentiment but to honor history and help forge a path to lasting peace. ... This year's anniversary coincides with renewed global interest in the Nanjing Massacre. About 10 movies and documentaries -- produced in Germany, the United States, Japan and China -- are being filmed, in post-production or already in cinemas. How the new focus on Japan's wartime atrocities will play out is of keen interest in Tokyo and Beijing. Anti-Japanese riots erupted in several Chinese cities in 2005, chilling relations. Many in Japan saw the hand of China's ruling Communist leaders behind the riots, seeking to promote their own legitimacy with nationalism. [...]"

"Giving Testimony on the Horror That Was Nanking" (movie review)
By Stephen Holden
The New York Times, 12 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"'Nanking' is a swift, incisive documentary about one of the lesser-known horrors of the 20th century: the 1937 Japanese invasion of the Chinese city now called Nanjing, where more than 200,000 civilians and prisoners of war were slaughtered in a matter of weeks. The capital of the Republic of China at the start of World War II and the headquarters of the Chiang Kai-shek government, this attractive, cosmopolitan city of parks and thoroughfares was largely destroyed in what is known as the rape of Nanking. Though some Japanese scholars dispute the statistics determined after the war by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, it is widely agreed that during the occupation in 1937 and 1938, more than 20,000 rapes were also committed by the rampaging Japanese Army. In its concentrated savagery, the catastrophe was comparable to the even more numerous mass murders in Rwanda in 1994. The film, directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, has the format of a mixed-media theater piece. Interwoven with rare, vintage news clips of the city's bombing, invasion and occupation are readings by actors from journals and letters kept by the few Westerners who remained in the city during the siege. Additional grisly firsthand recollections by now elderly Chinese survivors and Japanese soldiers tell a story that has become painfully familiar in the age of information overload: a collective fever of blood lust can lead to a kind of mass insanity in which the rules of civilized behavior are suspended. ... What makes the film bearable is the knowledge that a few people did what they could to hold the line against humanity's worst instincts. The voices in 'Nanking' speak for the persistence of good in times and places where a moral crevice opens to reveal a vision of hell on earth."

"Nanking" (movie review)
By Michelle Orange
The Village Voice, 11 December 2007
"December 13 marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Nanking, at that time the capital of China, and the atrocities that followed; Iris Chang chronicled these events (200,000 murders and more than 20,000 rapes within the first six weeks of the occupation) in The Rape of Nanking. Chang's 2005 suicide at the age of 36 spurred businessman Ted Leonsis to fund the production of Nanking, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman's documentary on the subject. Focusing on a group of foreigners living in Nanking at the time of the invasion who formed a 'Safety Zone' for the Chinese too poor to flee the city, Guttentag and Sturman intersperse readings by actors (including Woody Harrelson and Mariel Hemingway) of letters from the time with wrenching testimonials from Chinese survivors and archival footage. Most of the foreigners were Christian missionaries, with the notable exception of John Rabe, a German and Hitler devotee: 'There's a question of morality here,' he wrote, explaining his decision to stay put, 'and so far I haven't been able to sidestep it.' When a Nazi's ethical core is pricked, attention should be paid. But it wasn't, the film reminds us, and one can't help but think of current corollaries and the documentaries to come: While the footage and survivors of Nanking are gray and decaying, its unbearable story is not something out of the past; the evil and ignorance it describes are alive and thriving today."


"Spanish Court Rejects Lawsuit against Fidel Castro"
Antara News dispatch, 14 December 2007
"Spain's top anti-terrorism court Thursday rejected a complaint filed by Cuban dissidents against Cuban President Fidel Castro and former tourism minister Osmani Cienfuegos for genocide, terrorism and torture. The same complaint had earlier been rejected several times, the National Court said. The Committee of Help to Dissent 2506 accused Castro and Cienfuegos of crimes against humanity. The complaint was based on the deaths of nine participants in the US-fuelled Bay of Pigs invasion attempt in 1961. The nine were caught and died of suffocation inside a lorry transporting them to a prison in Havana. The dissidents accused Cienfuegos, who was also travelling on the lorry, and Castro of responsibility for the prisoners' fate. In 2005, the National Court rejected a similar complaint against Castro, Cienfuegos, Castro`s brother Raul and diplomat Carlos Amat. The case did not contain evidence of a genocide, a state could not be charged with terrorism, and the alleged torture could only be classified as degrading treatment, judge Ismael Moreno argued at the time. The dissidents refiled the complaint in the hope that Castro`s illness and partial incapacity to carry out his tasks would strip him of judicial immunity as head of state. The court, however, considered that Castro remained the Cuban head of state. The Spanish judiciary regards itself as competent to judge human-rights violations committed in other countries. The best-known such cases include the unsuccessful attempt by judge Baltasar Garzon to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, DPA reported."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Udo Voigt, Neo-Nazi, Questions Auschwitz Toll"
The Telegraph, 11 December 2007
"The leader of a far-Right party in Germany was facing a parliamentary inquiry last night after he questioned the number of Jews who died at the hands of the Nazis. Udo Voigt, the head of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), also demanded the return of land lost after the Second World War. 'Six million cannot be right. At most, 340,000 people could have died in Auschwitz,' he said in an interview with Iranian journalists. 'The Jews always say: "Even if one Jew died that is a crime." But of course it makes a difference whether one has to pay for six million people or for 340,000.' Conservative estimates put the number of dead at the camp at more than a million people. The comments will fuel a debate among German politicians about the funding of extremist parties with public money. The German constitution stipulates that all parties are to be treated equally. Sebastian Edathy, the head of the national parliament's internal affairs commission, said he would file a complaint against Mr. Voigt. The NDP, which the federal government has tried to ban, holds seats in regional parliaments in the eastern states of Saxony and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania."


"Greek Historian Convicted over Book Denying the Holocaust"
Associated Press dispatch in, 13 December 2007
"A far-right Greek historian was sentenced to 14 months in prison Thursday for inciting racial hatred with a book that denies the Holocaust took place, court officials said. Historian Costas Plevris appealed his sentence and was not taken into custody. A three-member panel of judges voted 2-1 to find Plevris guilty of inciting violence and racial hatred. The court cleared three other defendants of similar charges: the publisher, the editor and a journalist at a small right-wing magazine that published extracts from the book. Greek Jewish community leaders had testified that Plevris' book The Jews: The whole truth has led to an increase in attacks on Jewish monuments in the country. Plevris protested to the court that his right to free speech had been violated. It was the first trial in Greece on the recently introduced incitement charges. An estimated 60,000 Greek Jews, most of the country's prewar Jewish population, were killed by the Nazis during World War II."
[n.b. this is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Religions in Conflict: India's State of War"
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, 7 December 2007
"[...] It has long been alleged that [Chief Minister Narendra] Modi and senior members of the BJP state government did nothing to prevent the violence that broke out in the spring of 2002. It was soon after the fire on board the Sabarmarti Express which broke out while the train was stopped at the city of Godhra. It was alleged that a Muslim mob deliberately started the fire after they got involved in an altercation with Hindus, but at least one government inquiry has concluded it was caused by a cooking-fire accident on board the train. In all, 58 pilgrims were killed -- among them 20 children -- and the train was gutted. The backlash began soon afterwards. In more than 150 towns and almost 1,000 villages, violence broke out, overwhelmingly as Hindus attacked Muslim communities. While there are also some reports of Muslims attacking Hindus, few dispute that most victims were members of the minority community that make up 10 per cent of the state's population. The official death toll said 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, though a number of rights groups estimate the toll to have been double that. In the aftermath of the attacks the BJP government was widely condemned for not acting to prevent the killings. The Indian Supreme Court likened Mr Modi to a 'modern-day Nero' while the US government refused him a visa on the grounds that he had 'violated religious freedom.' A report by Human Rights Watch said state officials were involved. 'What happened was not a spontaneous uprising, it was a carefully orchestrated attack against Muslims," it said. "The attacks were planned in advance and organised with extensive participation of the police and state government officials.' Last month, the allegations got more serious. An undercover investigation in the news magazine Tehelka said Mr Modi explicitly approved of the 'pogrom' and helped to protect perpetrators. Using hidden video cameras, a reporter from the magazine filmed people allegedly involved in the planning and carrying-out of the killings. It quoted Haresh Batt, at the time the leader of a fundamentalist Hindu organisation, as saying: '[Modi] had given us three days to do whatever we could. He said he would not give us time after that. He said that openly. After three days he asked us to stop and everything came to a halt.' [...]"


"Freedom Lost"
By Mark Lattimer
The Guardian, 13 December 2007
"They lie in the Sulaimaniyah hospital morgue in Iraqi Kurdistan, set out on white-tiled slabs. A few have been shot or strangled, some beaten to death, but most have been burned. One girl, a lock of hair falling across her half-closed eyes, could almost be on the point of falling asleep. Burns have stretched the skin on another young woman's face into a fixed look of surprise. These women are not casualties of battle. In fact, the cause of death is generally recorded as 'accidental,' although their bodies often lie unclaimed by their families. 'It is getting worse, especially the burnings,' says Khanim Rahim Latif, the manager of Asuda, an Iraqi organisation based in Kurdistan that works to combat violence against women. 'Just here in Sulaimaniyah, there were 400 cases of the burning of women last year.' Lack of electricity means that every house has a plentiful supply of oil, and she accepts that some cases may be accidents. But the nature and scale of the injuries suggest that most were deliberate, she says, handing me the morgue photographs of one young woman after another. Many of the bodies bear the unmistakable signs of having been subjected to intense heat. ... Even under Saddam, women in Iraq -- including in semi-autonomous Kurdistan -- were widely recognised as among the most liberated in the Middle East. They held important positions in business, education and the public sector, and their rights were protected by a statutory family law that was the envy of women's activists in neighbouring countries. But since the 2003 invasion, advances that took 50 years to establish are crumbling away. In much of the country, women can only now move around with a male escort. Rape is committed habitually by all the main armed groups, including those linked to the government. Women are being murdered throughout Iraq in unprecedented numbers. [...]"

"Basra's Murderous Militias Tell Christian Women to Cover Up or Face Death"
By Ali Hamdani and James Hider
The Times, 8 December 2007
"[...] In the past five months more than 40 women have been murdered and their bodies dumped in the street by militiamen, according to the Basra police chief. Major-General Abdul-Jalil Khalaf said that some of them had been killed alone, others gunned down with their children. One unveiled mother was murdered together with her children aged 6 and 11. The British Army will formally hand Basra over to Iraqi control in less than two weeks, claiming that it had done all it could to stabilise the southern port city during four years in charge. Yet as a tentative stability returns to Baghdad, where even alcohol shops are starting to reopen, Britain appears to be leaving Basra ever more firmly in the hands of lawless gangs and strict morality police. Messages are scrawled in graffiti warning women not to venture out without observing Islamic dress codes. 'Whoever disobeys will be punished. God is our witness that we have conveyed this message,' says one scrawled in red paint on a wall. A huge advert for mobile phones, featuring a mother and child, has been defaced to blot out the uncovered woman's head with the slogan 'No, no, to unveiled women' sprayed below. At the university, Sunni students complain of being harassed by Shia militias. Ahmed, a 19-year-old Sunni freshman, was told that he had to grow a beard but keep his hair short to adhere to Islamic norms. He said that boys and girls who try to sit next to each other will be told to stay apart and given a lecture on Islamic virtue. Self-appointed morality police, similar to the Bassiji who haunt students across the border in Iran, also grab people's mobile phones and scroll through them looking for 'immoral' video clips, music or pictures, Ahmed said. [...]"

"Refugees Caught Between Deportation and Death Threats"
By Ali al-Fadhily, 6 December 2007
"Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis driven out of their country by violence are now faced with detention abroad, or a homecoming to death threats. More than two million Iraqis, in a population of about 25 million, have taken refuge in many countries. Only a few have won official status as refugees. Most refugees in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and many other countries stay on as illegal residents, facing threats of deportation and imprisonment. 'To deport an Iraqi refugee is to issue a death warrant,' Ali Jassim, an Iraqi journalist recently deported from Lebanon told IPS in Baghdad. 'The Lebanese authorities are applying regular migration rules to Iraqis, meaning that most Iraqis in Lebanon will be deported.' The Human Rights Watch report titled 'Rot Here or Die There: Bleak Choices for Iraqi Refugees in Lebanon' released Dec. 4 says Lebanese authorities are arresting Iraqi refugees who have no valid visas, and detaining them indefinitely to coerce them to return to Iraq. 'Iraqi refugees in Lebanon live in constant fear of arrest,' Bill Frelick, refugee policy director for Human Rights Watch told reporters. 'Refugees who are arrested face the prospect of rotting in jail indefinitely unless they agree to return to Iraq and face the dangers there.' There are at least 40,000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Complaints of mistreatment by Lebanese authorities pushed many Iraqis to flee Lebanon for Syria earlier, but this is no longer possible. As of Oct. 1, the Syrian government requires Iraqis to obtain visas. The Iraqi refugees already in Syria are struggling. The World Food Programme (WFP) reported Dec. 4 that about a third of Iraqis in Syria are skipping one meal a day in order to feed their children. WFP officials said nearly 60 percent of Iraqi refugees reported purchasing cheaper, less nutritious food in the face of a dramatic increase in food prices. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the full text of the Human Rights Watch report referred to here, "Rot Here or Die There."]


"Schindler Typist Adds Her Postscript"
By Peter Beaumont
The Observer, 9 December 2007
"In a moving postscript to the story of 'Schindler's list', as told by author Thomas Keneally and later by the film director Steven Spielberg, Mimi Reinhardt, now aged 92, the woman who typed the famous list that saved hundreds of Polish Jews from extermination in the Second World War, has emigrated to Israel and told her story after years of living quietly in New York. Her arrival in Tel Aviv last week, announced by the Jewish Agency that encourages immigration to Israel, has seen Reinhardt lionised by the Israeli media and attaining an instant celebrity that has bewildered her, according to her son Sacha, but which she says the flamboyant Oskar Schindler himself would have thoroughly enjoyed. ... 'I had been picked up in Krakow [where Schindler's factory was] for being a Jew and sent to Plaszow concentration camp, commanded by the notorious SS officer Amon Goeth. Schindler hired people from the camp to work in his factory. Speaking perfect German, and being able to write shorthand, had already proved her salvation in the slave labour battalions. My mother had insisted that I learn something useful, so I learnt to type. In the camp there were not so many people who spoke German and could do shorthand and type, so I was put into the administrative barracks. When the Germans came with Schindler's list of the workers that he wanted to take to Sudetenland [western Czechoslovakia] it was given to me to note and type up.' That list was the group who came to be known as Schindler's Jews, 1,300 or so individuals that at first perhaps for financial motives, but later for increasingly humanitarian reasons, Schindler would defend with his often aggressive charm against the SS, sheltering them first in his enamel wares factory in Krakow, then, as the Russian front advanced, in a factory in Sudetenland making bullets. It was at this moment that Schindler and his Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern, who had helped to motivate Schindler, prepared the 'list' of essential workers -- all of them Jews -- for relocation to his new factory. 'I was given the list to type up,' recalled Reinhardt last week. 'And when I typed it up I put my name and the name of two friends on it to make up the quota.' In doing so amid the accelerated extermination of Poland's Jews that was under way in 1944, she almost certainly saved all their lives. [...]"


"Mexico to Exhume More Than 4,000 Human Remains"
Associated Press dispatch on, 6 December 2007
"Authorities in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez said Wednesday that they plan to exhume the remains of more than 4,000 unidentified people buried in common graves and take DNA samples in an attempt to identify them. Rene Medrano, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office, said the bodies were being exhumed because state attorney general Patricia Gonzalez 'wants to bring order and clarity to past police practices.' Officials did not provide more exact reasons for the exhumations, which they called part of a statewide project that includes at least 180 exhumations in another city. Authorities said the project was not directly related to the cases of 360 women killed over the past 14 years in Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.3 million across from El Paso, Texas. Victims' relatives have long demanded that independent investigators take part in the probes, saying efforts by state officials have been tainted by inept officers. Chihuahua state investigators have been accused of losing or contaminating evidence and of other missteps that botched cases. Authorities' lack of progress in solving the cases of the Ciudad Juarez women prompted international outrage, as news of the killings made headlines around the world. Authorities have arrested and prosecuted a number of suspects over the years, but family members of some Juarez victims say authorities have yet to bring the true culprits to justice. Federal authorities intervened in 2003, promising to solve 14 rape-strangulation cases involving teenagers and women in Ciudad Juarez. The federal attorney general's office recently closed those investigations, however, without getting to the bottom of what happened. A team of 30 people, including forensic anthropologists and dental specialists, are already exhuming remains from cemeteries in Ciudad Juarez, Medrano said. The team will exhume unidentified bodies that were buried in common graves between 1991 and 2005, Medrano said. They will extract DNA samples and build a database. The remains then will be tagged and reburied in individual graves, he said. Officials estimate more than 4,000 unidentified bodies were buried in common graves in Ciudad Juarez alone over the 14-year period. The program first started three months ago in Chihuahua City where authorities exhumed 180 sets of remains. One already has been identified, Medrano said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. It will be very interesting to see the gender breakdown of those exhumed bodies. I am willing to bet (ghoulishly) that over 90 percent of them, possibly over 95 percent, will be male, not female. Perhaps this will help to place the global controversy over female rape-murder victims in perspective. For my own attempt to do so, see "The Murdered Men of Ciudad Juárez."]


"Children Are Targets of Nigerian Witch Hunt"
By Tracy McVeigh
The Guardian, 9 December 2007
"[...] Behind the smartly painted doors pastors make a living by 'deliverances' -- exorcisms -- for people beset by witchcraft, something seen to cause anything from divorce, disease, accidents or job losses. With so many churches it's a competitive market, but by local standards a lucrative one. But an exploitative situation has now grown into something much more sinister as preachers are turning their attentions to children -- naming them as witches. In a maddened state of terror, parents and whole villages turn on the child. They are burnt, poisoned, slashed, chained to trees, buried alive or simply beaten and chased off into the bush. Some parents scrape together sums needed to pay for a deliverance -- sometimes as much as three or four months' salary for the average working man -- although the pastor will explain that the witch might return and a second deliverance will be needed. Even if the parent wants to keep the child, their neighbours may attack it in the street. This is not just a few cases. This is becoming commonplace. In Esit Eket, up a nameless, puddled-and-potholed path is a concrete shack stuffed to its fetid rafters with roughly made bunk beds. Here, three to a bed like battery chickens, sleep victims of the besuited Christian pastors and their hours-long, late-night services. Ostracised and abandoned, these are the children a whole community believes fervently are witches. Sam Ikpe-Itauma is one of the few people in this area who does not believe what the evangelical 'prophets' are preaching. He opened his house to a few homeless waifs he came across, and now he tries his best to look after 131. 'The neighbours were not happy with me and tell me "you are supporting witches." This project was an accident, I saw children being abandoned and it was very worrying. I started with three children, then every day it increased up to 15, so we had to open this new place,' he says. 'For every maybe five children we see on the streets, we believe one has been killed, although it could be more as neighbours turn a blind eye when a witch child disappears.' [...]"


"Strangling Gaza"
By César Chelala, 15 December 2007
"It could, rightfully, be a cause of shame to the world. But the world, besieged by violence and injustice, hardly notices it. The people of Gaza, 1.4 million of them, are slowly and purposely being deprived of basic foods and medicines by the so called civilized countries in the West and there is hardly a protest. And all this happens because the people in Gaza want to be free and independent. Never mind that in the process children and innocent civilians are killed or families dispossessed. Dr. Mona Elfarra, a Palestinian physician and human rights activist, thus describes a situation in her personal blog, 'I don't know exactly what was going on inside the little heads of the kids who were preparatory school children, of Al Buriege boy's preparatory school. But the two tiny bodies were shot, with many bullets, as I was told by my colleagues at the emergency room at the Al Aqsa hospital ... On November 10, the dreams of two tiny kids has stopped forever.' ... Most of the basic goods in Gaza are imported. Because of border closures, there is limited delivery of those goods, in particular sugar and wheat flour, which represent 80 percent of the caloric intake of Palestinians. The majority of the population depends on food aid from international organizations. At the same time, the flow of exports leaving Gaza has practically stopped, while the commercial and humanitarian goods allowed to come in continues to decline. The Gaza Strip is practically sealed off from the outside world. Approximately 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. It is estimated that 70 percent of the potential workforce is out of work or without pay. The Gaza Strip is not receiving tax monies owed to by Israel, which amounts to almost half of its budget. Also critical is the public health and medical situation of the inhabitants of the Strip. The World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the public health system is facing an unprecedented crisis. UNICEF reports that children are living in an environment of extreme violence, insecurity and fear. Shelling and sonic bombs [sic] have increased children’s signs of distress and exhaustion. [...]"

"Sealed Off by Israel, Gaza Reduced to Beggary"
By Scott Wilson, 15 December 2007
"[...] The Israeli government is increasingly restricting the import into the Gaza Strip of batteries, anesthesia drugs, antibiotics, tobacco, coffee, gasoline, diesel fuel and other basic items, including chocolate and compressed air to make soft drinks. This punishing seal has reduced Gaza, a territory of almost 1.5 million people, to beggar status, unable to maintain an effective public health system, administer public schools or preserve the traditional pleasures of everyday life by the sea. 'Essentially, it's the ordinary people, caught up in the conflict, paying the price for this political failure,' said John Ging, director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, which serves the majority refugee population. 'The humanitarian situation is atrocious, and it is easy to understand why -- 1.2 million Gazans now relying on U.N. food aid, 80,000 people who have lost jobs and the dignity of work. And the list goes on.' ... For Gazans, caught between Israel's concrete gun towers and the Mediterranean, the sense of crisis is pervasive as they struggle to keep their homes intact, buy essential food from a shrinking and increasingly expensive stock, and educate their children. 'I hold every man, woman and child in Israel responsible for this,' said Geraldine Shawa, 64, the Chicago-born director of the Atfaluna Society. A tall, imposing woman who has lived in Gaza for 36 years, Shawa has watched the fortunes of her pupils squeezed in recent months by what she calls Israel's practice of collective punishment. Israeli military officials said last week that 2,000 rockets had been launched from Gaza toward Israel this year, killing two Israelis, wounding many others and instilling fear across the southern region. Since the U.S.-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, Md., last month, Israeli airstrikes and ground forces have killed 26 Hamas gunmen, the Islamic organization says, as well as at least four Palestinian civilians. [...]"

"The Grim Reality in Gaza"
By Mohammed Omer
New Statesman, 10 December 2007
"Traffic in the Gaza Strip slowed to a trickle last week, and this week medical centres have scaled back treatment in the medicines and sustenance-destitute Strip. 'Israel's decision is a death penalty: our reserve of fuel is almost zero and it may very likely run out by the end of today,' said Khaled Radi, Ministry of Health spokesman for the dismissed Hamas government. Radi spoke in reference to the 30 November Israeli Supreme Court decision to allow further fuel cutbacks, severe reductions which are crippling Gaza’s residents in all aspects of life. Prior to that ruling, as early as October Israel decided to begin limiting fuel, with Gaza soon after enduring serious cuts of over 50% of fuel needs, a dire statistic confirmed by the UN body OCHA. ... Shortages of fuel have greatly affected the public transportation system, leaving students from universities in Gaza City delayed for hours standing in wait for transportation back to Khan Younies and Rafah in the south. The fuel cuts in turn impede water access: with diesel-run pumps unable to function, leaving over 77,000 without fresh drinking water, according to Gaza’s water utility. Oxfam International has warned that soon 225,000 Gazans could suffer from inadequate water supplies, raising concerns for public health. Ambulances and clinics suffer too, a fact reiterated by Khaled Radi, who related how fuel shortages have already brought some ambulances to a standstill: 'This has affected the mobility of ambulances which are especially vital during on-going Israeli air strikes such as that of this morning.' He added that shortages further threatened to close essential clinics, which rely on back-up generators during the frequent electricity shortages in the Strip. Two first aid health centres have already been forced to suspend treatment during electricity cuts. Those that remain open suffer from want of medical supplies, with 91 of 416 essential medicines depleted, according to the WHO. [...]"


"Ex-President Stands Trial in Edgy Peru"
By Simon Romero
The New York Times, 10 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Supreme Court in Peru will start its trial of former President Alberto K. Fujimori on Monday, making him the country's first former head of state to be tried on human rights violations, including murder and kidnapping. Preparations for the trial have already stirred considerable unease as Peruvians grapple with revelations of the counterinsurgency methods used by Mr. Fujimori's government during his 10-year presidency, from 1990 to 2000, to combat two rebel groups, Shining Path and the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. 'I want him to be judged severely because he ordered to kill,' said Raida Condor, 65, who lost her son Armando in a massacre of nine students and a professor from La Cantuta University in 1992. 'For 15 years, I have searched for justice and to know why my son died the way he died.' The 10 victims were abducted in July 1992; their incinerated bodies were found a year later on a hillside outside Lima, Peru’s capital. Mr. Fujimori, 69, faces charges related to those killings and another massacre, of 15 people, including an 8-year-old boy, at a barbecue in the Barrios Altos area of Lima in November 1991. The former president faces 30 years in prison if he is convicted. Those killings and others took place during a harrowing time of guerrilla attacks in the heart of Lima. Mr. Fujimori ultimately subdued the insurgencies, capturing Abimael Guzmán, the supreme leader of the Maoist-inspired Shining Path, in 1992, and defeating Túpac Amaru after its seizure of the Japanese ambassador’s residence in 1997. But the costs were staggering: nearly 70,000 people died in Peru’s long internal war, from 1980 to 2000, a government-appointed commission determined in 2003. And Mr. Fujimori allowed his intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, to create a spy apparatus infamous for its corruption, opaque finances and reports of extrajudicial killings. Both men fled the country and have been extradited to face trial. [...]"

"Peru Ambivalent As Ex-Leader Faces Trial for Massacres"
By Monte Reel and Lucien Chauvin
The Washington Post, 10 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"When Alberto Fujimori was president of Peru in the 1990s, his authoritarian methods forced the country to debate how far a leader should go in the pursuit of terrorists. Now, as he faces a trial that could send him to prison for life, the debate for many here has shifted: How far should Peru go in pursuit of Fujimori? An awkward sort of ambivalence is defining the trial even before it starts on Monday. Although a majority of Peruvians say they believe Fujimori is guilty of human rights abuses and corruption, he remains near the top of the list of the country's most admired political figures. According to a survey conducted recently by the University of Lima, he is more popular than Alan Garcia, whom Peruvians returned to the presidency last year. Nearly 55 percent said they view Fujimori's 1990-2000 presidency favorably. Even Fujimori's political legacy survives. His daughter last year received more votes than any other candidate for Congress, where she is part of a minority bloc of his followers known as Fujimoristas. ... Much of Fujimori's popularity while president rested on his liberal dispersal of public aid, his taming of inflation and his backing of an aggressive battle against the Shining Path, a Maoist revolutionary group that for years terrorized wide swaths of the countryside and killed thousands. But in targeting the group, he also targeted students, journalists and others whose main offense was criticizing his methods. He shut down Congress, purged the judiciary and suspended the constitution -- measures that were supported by much of the public at the time. [...]"


"Academic Jailed for 19 Years for Rwanda Genocide Role"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 15 December 2007
"A former university teacher was given a 19-year prison sentence this week for her role in the murder of a colleague's wife during the Rwanda genocide, a witness at the trial told AFP Saturday. Marie-Therese Kampire, who taught politics at Rwanda's National University, was found guilty on Thursday by a traditional 'gacaca' court, Elisabeth Mukajambo, a trials observer with a local human rights group, said. Kampire was found guilty of complicity in the murder of the wife of Pierre Claver Gasana, a professor of physics, who was also killed during the 1994 slaughter by extremists of Rwanda's Hutu majority of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Rwanda's main university saw numerous staff and students murdered during the genocide, often by or at the instigation of colleagues. Gacaca courts were set up to try most of those accused of participation in the genocide which killed an estimated 800,000 people. Judges are elected from within the community to sit on nine-member panels in gacaca sessions to hear and record testimonies from community members who saw and witnessed what happened during the genocide. They then preside over trials of genocide suspects in their own villages. Most of the judges at Huye, which heard Kampire's case, teach at the university."

"Genocide Survivors 'Unhappy'"
SA dispatch on, 13 December 2007
"Rwandan officials are interfering in the trial of the country's 1994 genocide suspects and even intimidating witnesses, the country's main genocide survivors' group says. The Ibuka group of genocide survivors criticised 'the grave interference by officials of the national government in the jurisdiction of the gacacas (traditional courts) conducting the trials.' Judges were elected from within the community to sit on nine-member panels in gacaca sessions to hear and record testimonies from community members who saw and witnessed what happened during the genocide. They then presided over trials of genocide suspects in their own villages. Ibuka, which meant 'Remember' in the local language, said official interference was aimed at shielding 'intellectuals, the rich or officials being sought over their role in the genocide.' It said: 'There have been acts of intimidation against witnesses and some have even been incarcerated.' The Rwandan genocide saw the slaughter of 800 000 minority Tutsis by the Hutu majority. The UN estimates some 800 000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus were killed at this time. Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama immediately rejected the allegations, telling Radio Rwanda that the gacaca courts had achieved formidable results 'which all Rwandans should rejoice in.' He said: 'Those who say otherwise are people who are never satisfied.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Rwanda: Approximately a Million People Have Appeared Before Gacaca Courts"
Hirondelle News Agency dispatch on, 12 December 2007
"Around a million people accused of have [sic passim] played a part in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda have appeared, up to date, before the semi-traditional gacaca courts, announced Wednesday in Kigali the executive secretary of the National Service of Gacaca Courts, Domitille Mukantaganzwa. Mrs. Mukantaganzwa specified during a press conference on this total of accused having appeared, more than 800 000 were tried. 'We are really satisfied,' estimated Mukantaganzwa, explaining that the initial number of suspects which was 818 564 increased because of additional information revealed during trials before the gacaca courts. To the question of knowing if the gacaca trials will end by 31 December as planned, she answered that the essence of the work was done. 'Many courts finished a while ago the trials which they were to try, those which have the greatest number of cases have not yet tried and have fifteen,' indicated Mukantaganzwa. 'Stress is not necessary. They were forecasts, if we note (at the end of the year) that we still need time, we will continue,' she indicated. Mrs. Mukantaganzwa also strongly refuted the allegations by Ibuka, the main organization of survivors, according to which the gacaca courts disappointed survivors [see story below]. 'It is a great astonishment for us,' she declared; criticizing Ibuka of 'generalizing.' Inspired by the traditional assemblies during which wise men from the village settled disagreements sitting on the grass (gacaca, in Rwandan language), the gacaca courts are charged with trying the majority of the alleged authors of the 1994 genocide. They are not presided by professional magistrates but by people with integrity chosen from among the community. They can sentence up to life in prison."

"Rwanda: Genocide Studies Start February"
Rwanda News Agency dispatch on, 11 December 2007
"The world's first dedicated research and postgraduate teaching resource for Genocide prevention is to open at the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre, it was announced on Tuesday. The study program will be open to undergraduates and postgraduates studying all aspects of human rights and conflict prevention, running both teaching seminars and giving access to primary research resources for doctorate and masters students, the centre said in a statement. Craig Cowbrough from the Centre told RNA separately that it is expected the new centre will be operational by the end of February next year. The centre exists as a permanent memorial to victims of the genocide; more than 258,000 people are buried on the site. The centrepiece of the new study facility will be a hi-tech documentation centre with detailed histories of more than 38,000 victims and survivors of the 1994 Genocide -- that left over a million lives massacred. The British campaign organization Aegis Trust, which funds and manages the Kigali memorial Centre, is investing in the major refurbishments and the IT infrastructure within the documentation centre. The resource will also be used to help develop a programme to improve the way the genocide is taught on the school curriculum within Rwanda. According to centre, it is hoped more than 15,000 young Rwandese will pass through the educational programme every year. The Memorial Centre is currently looking for academic partners in the fields of genocide prevention and human rights to help develop the resource."

"No Hero at Home, Hotel Rwanda Protagonist is a Critic in Exile"
By Elizabeth Sullivan
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) (on, 9 December 2007
"Paul Rusesabagina may be a hero, the real-life Hotel Rwanda operator who saved an estimated 1,200 lives by bartering words, cash and courage to save family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. Yet the nonfictional subject of the 2004 movie cannot go back again. The son of a Hutu father and a Tutsi mother -- considered a Hutu by Rwandan standards -- could have died for standing up to the radical 1994 Hutus who were butchering Tutsis and the Hutus who supported them. He saved hundreds in his Mille Collines hotel. Instead, he says he is persona non grata in today's 'democratic' Rwanda, with its Tutsi-dominated government. The 53-year-old has lived in exile in Brussels since 1996. His sons and nieces attend U.S. schools. When Stuart Muszynski of the Cleveland-area charity Project Love was in long-distance discussions with Rusesabagina about the group's Humanitarian of the Year award this year, Muszynski says he unexpectedly got an e-mail from the Rwandan government. It said Rusesabagina wasn't a hero and didn't deserve the award. Rusesabagina came to Cleveland anyway, and Muszynski presented the award to him Thursday night at a ceremony in Aurora. Why is the hero of Hotel Rwanda not considered a hero in Rwanda? His detractors accuse him of not saving as many people as he claimed, of taking money from the hotel guests he saved, of other supposed misdemeanors and exaggerations. But Rusesabagina told a group of Plain Dealer editors and reporters Thursday that such sniping didn't start until he began publicly criticizing Rwandan President Paul Kagame for his Tutsi rebel background and for allegedly suppressing Hutu opponents. [...]"


"EU Summit Gambles on Huge Kosovo Mission"
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, 15 December 2007
"European leaders yesterday agreed to send up to 1,800 police, judges, and administrators to Kosovo in its biggest foreign policy gamble, aimed at nurturing the breakaway Balkan province towards full statehood. Despite persistent divisions within the EU over how to react to Kosovo's secession from Serbia, now expected in February, a summit of EU presidents and prime ministers decided to launch Europe's biggest nation-building operation, telling union foreign ministers to work out the details after the new year. Gordon Brown, making his first visit to Brussels as prime minister, indicated the mission would be deployed -- probably in February. 'The EU mission is very much part of the next stage,' he said. Senior European government officials said the EU was responding to strong pressure from Washington, which has signalled that it will wait until February before recognising an independent Kosovo, but no longer. Balkan experts at the US state department are drafting Kosovo's declaration of independence, to be proclaimed by the ethnic Albanian leaders of Kosovo in early February after Serbia elects a new president, the sources said. 'The Kosovans and the Serbs no longer want to live together,' said Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president. 'Our goal is that Europe does not explode.' A summit statement said the scope for any further negotiations between the Serbian and Kosovan leaderships was exhausted following two rounds of talks lasting almost two years. The statement called for a rapid resolution of Kosovo's status, and also sought to compensate Serbia by promising Belgrade a faster track to EU membership. [...]"

"Kosovo Deserves Its Independence"
By Anthony Lloyd
The Times, 12 December 2007
"[...] The argument of the critics of Kosovan independence rests on two bogus tenets of denial. First, they state that Serbia was not responsible for the widescale massacre of Albanian civilians between 1998 and 1999, and propose instead that Serb security forces were somehow tricked into killing thousands of innocents by the provocation of the Kosovo Liberation Army. Secondly, they advance the theory that the 800,000 Albanian refugees who fled their homes during Nato's 79-day air campaign did so as they were frightened of the bombing rather than Serb military units. Were these claims true then the fundamental case for Kosovo's independence, in the spotlight since the expiry on Monday of a UN deadline for Pristina and Belgrade to reach agreement on the province's future status, would be fatally flawed. But they are untrue. I know this not as an assumption, but as a fact. I have many memories of Kosovo acquired during the time I spent reporting there between 1998 and 2000. Among the images of mass graves, burnt villages and swelling bodies that spring to mind is one of particular significance. In the fields outside the town of Istinic in southwestern Kosovo one summer day I watched some 40,000 Kosovans corralled together by rings of Serb police. ... After a day or two the Serb police pushed them back into the hinterland, driving them with stinging switches and robotic threats broadcast from tannoys mounted on the sides of armoured personnel carriers. These people had not fled from fear of Nato bombing. The first Nato bomb was seven months away from falling. This was the summer of 1998. The world little cared for Kosovo then and in a dry run for their larger purge operations a year later the Serbs were already driving thousands of people from their homes. The memory is pertinent to Kosovo's case for independence now as it revealed the absolute complicity of the Serbian authorities in human rights abuses in Kosovo and proved them then, as later, a cruel and unjust power from which the oppressed Kosovo Albanian majority thoroughly deserved to be independent. [...]"

"EU-US Showdown with Russia over Kosovo"
By Harry de Quetteville and Bruno Waterfield
The Telegraph, 11 December 2007
"A Cold War-style stand-off over the future of Kosovo loomed last night as the European Union looked ready to join the United States in defying Russia and Serbia over independence for the breakaway Balkan province. As EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels headed for 'unity' in backing Kosovo's independence, Russia gave warning that such a move would spark 'a chain reaction' of instability across the Balkans and beyond. 'Those making such plans must think very carefully about the consequences,' said Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, said that the diplomatic war of words could eventually lead to real fighting. Asked if Nato's 16,000 troops in Kosovo would need reinforcements if the situation deteriorated, he replied: 'The short answer is yes.' Until the meeting yesterday a group of five EU countries had shared Russian reservations about backing independence in Kosovo, fearing that it might foster breakaway hopes among their own minority communities. But Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain have come under intense pressure to drop their objections in favour of a common EU position over Kosovo. 'We will move to unity today,' said Luis Amado, the Portuguese foreign minister, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency. In fact Cyprus, a divided island in search of its own diplomatic settlement for more than 30 years, remains opposed to independence for Kosovo. Erato Kozakou Markoullis, the Cypriot foreign minister, warned against the EU 'breaking international law.' Nonetheless, Kosovar Albanian leaders in Pristina, the province's capital, are sure to interpret the Brussels meeting as a signal of strong EU backing. They have promised to co-ordinate any declaration of independence with the EU and America. [...]"

"U.N. Fears Serbs Will Disrupt a Free Kosovo"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 10 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"As Kosovo moves closer to declaring its independence, fears are rising that Serbia and Serbs in Kosovo's north could take steps to try to disrupt the province’s shaky economy and scare off countries ready to recognize it as a sovereign state. Senior United Nations officials say they are particularly worried that the Serbian government will direct Kosovo's Serbs to disrupt most of the province's power supply and assert partial control of the north by having Serb police officers break away from the province's police force. Such moves could further inflame tensions between the province's ethnic Albanians and Serbs, possibly leading to violence. Kosovo, which has a majority of ethnic Albanians, has been trying to break away from Serbia, but Serbia has vehemently fought to keep the province. Negotiations between Kosovo’s ethnic Albanian leaders and Serbia over the province's fate have gone nowhere, and the United Nations -- which administers Kosovo and is trying to broker an agreement -- has said the talks should not drag past Monday. The United Nations is then expected to begin deliberations about its next possible step. Western diplomats in Brussels and Pristina suggest the United Nations will invite the European Union to replace the United Nations mission in the province, and leave it to individual countries to decide if they should recognize Kosovo as an independent nation. Aid agencies, including the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, have already drawn up contingency plans for an exodus of 5,000 to 100,000 refugees, many of which they expect will be ethnic Serbs. [...]"


"Mogadishu Sliding Back into Anarchy"
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, 8 December 2007
"Women and children injured by stray bullets and mortars during fighting in the Somali capital Mogadishu are being turned back at military checkpoints as they try to reach hospitals, the United Nations children's agency said yesterday. Describing the humanitarian situation in the city as the worst since 1991 -- the last time Somalia had an effective government -- Unicef's representative for the country said the restrictions meant 'people are being left behind in the streets to die.' The roadblocks are manned by government and Ethiopian troops, who are battling to contain a growing insurgency. 'The lack of respect for basic humanitarian principles from all sides is horrific,' said Christian Balslev-Olesen. 'It's violence, harassment ... terror against the civilian population.' The conflict has already forced 600,000 people, more than half Mogadishu's population, to flee the city since February. More than a third of those fled in the past five weeks as fighting escalated. Hopes of a ceasefire are dim. Somalia's transitional government has made little effort to reach out to political opponents or the guerrilla fighters, who in turn have vowed to fight until the Ethiopian occupation ends. The insurgency is broad-based, comprising remnants of the Somali Council of Islamic Courts (SCIC), chased out of Mogadishu by Ethiopian forces last December, as well as militias controlled by warlords opposed to the government. Ethiopia and the United States, which backed the move to oust the SCIC citing alleged links to al-Qaida, say a large international peacekeeping mission is the answer. But no countries appear willing to add to the 1,600 Ugandan peacekeepers confined to a small area of Mogadishu. The abuses by government forces and the insurgents fit the pattern of impunity that has plagued Somalia for 16 years, and UN officials and diplomats admit they have little leverage over either party. Ethiopia, however, should be a different matter. [...]"
[n.b. I'm sure glad the Americans and Ethiopians toppled those nasty moderate Islamists. I know Somalis are, too.]


"Spielberg Appeals to Chinese President for Darfur Intervention", 14 December 2007
"Hollywood director Steven Spielberg has appealed to Chinese President Hu Jintao to use his nation's influence in Sudan to put a stop to the genocide in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. In a Nov. 15 letter to Hu -- Spielberg's second missive this year -- released on Thursday, the filmmaker remarks the nearly five-year conflict in the African nation has deteriorated since his last correspondence. He writes, 'So I write to you now with a renewed sense of urgency in the hope that China will redouble its efforts to pressure Sudan to join in a fair peace agreement and, at last, bring an end to the genocide. China's economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide you with the influence and the obligation to press for change. Without China's insistence, I fear Sudan will simply "wait out the clock." I believe the decisive hour for Darfur is now. The world needs China to lead here. So many lives are at stake.' Spielberg -- who is the artistic director for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing -- came under criticism earlier this year from actress/activist Mia Farrow for not using his involvement with the global event to speak out about the humanitarian crisis. The armed conflict between the Arab-dominated militia group the Janjaweed and African rebels has resulted in 200,000 casualties and 2.5 million being forced from their homes since it began in 2003."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Sudanese Peace Deal Back on Track"
BBC Online, 12 December 2007
"Sudan's southern former rebels have said they will rejoin a national unity government in an apparent end to the two-month political crisis. The Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) withdrew from the government in October, jeopardising a peace deal. But the SPLM agreed to end its boycott after its leader Salva Kiir met Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir. They agreed funding for a census and a timetable to pull out troops either side of Sudan's north-south border. They have also announced that the government will move to the southern capital, Juba, every three months. Officials said this would be an important symbolic gesture to help develop key ties between the power-sharing partners. But there was no deal on the demarcation of the disputed oil-rich Abyei region after the two-hour meeting between the leaders. ... A timetable will now be worked out for the redeployment of northern troops from the south, especially from Unity and Upper Nile states. There will be more transparency on issues of oil management and marketing plus funding to pave the way for a census in 2011, when the south could decide to split from the north, has also been assured. However, the final border demarcation was not resolved -- which means the division of oil wealth cannot be completed. [...]"

"Delay, Obstruction and Darfur"
The New York Times (editorial), 10 December 2007 [Registration Required]
"The world's leaders say they care desperately about Darfur's suffering, until they get distracted. It took years of international hand-wringing before the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution to send in 26,000 peacekeepers to replace a current force of 7,000, to try to halt the killing. With the deployment now set for Jan. 1, major countries are ignoring the U.N.'s appeals for essential aircraft, and Sudan's government -- which unleashed the genocide -- is again reneging on its promises to cooperate. Khartoum is now refusing to accept some non-African peacekeeping units -- including a Thai infantry battalion and a Nepalese special forces unit -- in what is intended to be a joint United Nations-African Union force. It is also trying to limit the peacekeepers' use of helicopters, refusing to provide land for a peacekeeping base and insisting on other untenable restrictions, including advance notice of all troop movements. Khartoum never seems to run out of ways to demonstrate its contempt for the United Nations. ... Sudan has showed time and again that it does not care about the suffering in Darfur. Without a lot more international pressure, Sudan will continue to obstruct the peacekeeping mission and spread ever more suffering and mayhem. China, one of Sudan's major trading partners, and the Arab League must bring on that pressure. And the U.N. and other envoys must work full time for the resumption of peace talks. The credibility of the Security Council is on the line. So are the lives of 2.5 million Darfuris."

"An Impotent West Jerks Its Knee and Leaves Darfur Hurting More"
By Simon Jenkins
The Times, 9 December 2007
"Three years have passed since the British government, in the form of Jack Straw, declared states of affairs in both Darfur and Zimbabwe 'unacceptable.' A year later in the case of Darfur this was upgraded to 'completely unacceptable.' A feelgood Global Day for Darfur was declared, helped on its way by George Clooney and Elton John. Needless to say, the government accepted what was unacceptable -- and has done so ever since. Today Gordon Brown has decided to stay in bed rather than go to the European Union's Africa summit in Lisbon, thus avoiding the improbable risk of having to smile at Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe or Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese dictator. He has also avoided the recollection that, once upon a time, the word 'unacceptable' from a British prime minister would have had boots quaking across Africa. Today all Brown can do at a summit is put his thumbs in his ears, stick out his tongue and say 'Boo.' While diplomats concentrate on being beastly to Mugabe, carnage continues in Darfur and spreads into adjacent Chad. It makes a mockery of the new 'liberal interventionism' declared his greatest achievement by Tony Blair, and since endorsed by Brown. In Rwanda in 1994, western powers could at least argue that the massacre took them by surprise. No such excuse is available in Darfur. The horror has been unfolding in full view of the world for three years. The interventionists have hollered and abused and seized microphones and achieved nothing. The Sudan government's Arab Janjaweed irregulars, aided by air support, have continued with killings. This has been in response to a separatist rebellion similar to that which was partially successful in southern Sudan, resolved in 2002. In Darfur some 300,000 people have been massacred, 2m driven into exile and 4m left dependent on western aid in a network of more than 60 refugee camps. [...]"


"Assyrian Professor Dies From Stab Wound", 15 December 2007
"Dr. Fuat Deniz, a renowned lecturer and Ph.D researcher in the field of sociology at Örebro University, was pronounced dead today by Örebro University Hospital; Dr. Deniz was stabbed in the neck by an unknown assailant on Tuesday. The murder of a teacher during day time and in his own workplace has shocked the community in Örebro, a mid size Swedish town. There are no witnesses to the stabbing and no suspect yet. Police are working to secure forensic evidence, survey the victim's daily routine and his circle of acquaintances. Sweden's equivalent to the FBI, the Swedish security police (SÄPO), have announced they are looking into this case because the attack could have a political motive. SÄPO noted that Mr. Fuat Deniz dedicated much of his research to Assyrian identity and the Turkish genocide of Assyrians. His masters thesis, A Minority's Odyssey: the Assyrian Example, was praised for its way of describing developments in social identities among Assyrians. The Swedish research and university minister, Lars Leijonborg, participated in the commemoration ceremony held in Örebro on Thursday, expressing his sorrow for the loss of a promising teacher and researcher. 'Dr. Fuat Deniz and his family came to our country to escape violence and assaults. It is a terrible tragedy that this has happened to him. He was not only a national hero for Assyrians but a role model for many in our society,' said the minister with tearful eyes. ... Dr. Fuat was to participate in an international conference on Assyrian identity and the Turkish Assyrian genocide at the University of Leiden in Holland on Friday 14 December. [...]"
[n.b. The English text appears below the French. Thanks to Stephen Feinstein for bringing this shocking news to my attention.]


"CIA Photos 'Show UK Guantanamo Detainee Was Tortured'"
By Robert Verkaik
The Independent, 10 December 2007
"Lawyers for a British resident who the US government refuses to release from Guantanamo Bay have identified the existence of photographs taken by CIA agents that they say show their client suffered horrific injuries under torture. The photographic evidence will be vital to clear Binyam Mohammed, 27, who the Americans want to bring before a Military Commission on charges of terrorism, say his lawyers. ... In a letter sent to the Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Britain is urged to ask the US to stop the CIA destroying the pictures. Clive Stafford-Smith, the legal director of Reprieve representing Mr Mohammed, said that he also knows the identity of the agents who were present when his client was allegedly beaten and tortured. Writing to Mr Miliband, he said: 'Given the opportunity, we can prove that the evidence was the fruit of torture. Indeed, we can prove that a photographic record was made of this by the CIA. Through diligent investigation we know when the CIA took pictures of Mr Mohammed's brutalised genitalia, we know the identity of the CIA agents who were present including the person who took the pictures (we know both their false identities and their true names), and we know what those pictures show.' ... Last week it emerged that the CIA destroyed hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the torture of detainees held by the US. Binyam Mohammed was born in Ethiopia but was given leave to remain in the UK after seeking asylum in 1994. Seven years later, he travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan where the Americans allege that he underwent training in firearms and explosives. In 2002, he was arrested by Pakistani immigration officials at Karachi airport on his way back to the UK. He says he was then taken to Morocco and tortured for 18 months, including having his penis slashed, before being sent to Guantanamo, where he still remains. [...]"
[n.b. Ain't freedom grand?]

"Supporters of Evil"
Once Upon a Time (blog), 9 December 2007
"[...] I do not want to be misunderstood on this point, so let me state it as plainly as I can. The time is long since past for every minimally decent American to take a stand: either you are on the side of civilization and humanity, and the irreplaceable, supreme value of an individual human life -- or you are on the side of evil, brutality, torture, sadism, genocidal war, and endless death. The Democrats and the Republicans both stand for Empire, and for the endless horrors already inflicted -- and the endless horrors that still lie in our future. If the Democrats do not repeal the Military Commissions Act or at least try to do so, and if you still support them in the 2008 elections, then you are on the side of all these horrors as well. If the Democrats do not repeal the Military Commissions Act -- and they will not -- and you support them in 2008, you are supporting evil. To that extent, you are evil yourself. ... If you choose to support evil and to embody evil yourself, I suggest you follow the vile example of the current administration: do so without apology, and brazenly revel in the evil you choose to inflict on the world. It is far more contemptible -- and, to speak personally, it is sickening beyond my capacity to describe accurately, in significant part because of the complex psychological dishonesties that are required -- to enable evil, while claiming you represent the 'moral' and 'practical' choice. These are the justifications used by those who made possible the cruelest and most unspeakably horrifying regimes in history, as Mayer's witness and many others attest. Withdraw your support entirely from those who perpetrate and make excuses for evil. If the refusal to support such people were widespread enough, we still might have a chance. I regard it as the very slightest of chances, one that will almost certainly be destroyed by another significant terrorist attack in the United States -- but it is the only one we have. [...]"

"Chasing Rummy: Michael Ratner Tries to Make Europe Too Hot for the Former Defense Secretary"
By Chris Thompson
The Village Voice, 4 December 2007
"Michael Ratner had it tough last week. In addition to his regular duties -- law professor at Columbia and Yale, defending Guantánamo detainees, prepping for his WBAI talk show -- there was the gig on Keith Olbermann's show. Then there was the quickie Columbia seminar on international human rights later that night, which meant he would miss dinner with his daughter. 'That's the one that really hurts,' he says. 'It's one thing to the next; I don't know that I'm a lawyer anymore.' All the frenzy has distracted him from what may be the most ambitious project he has ever undertaken: hounding Donald Rumsfeld for the rest of his natural life. For months, Ratner and his colleagues at the left-wing law group Center for Constitutional Rights had been working with French lawyers, preparing a prosecutorial brief against the former secretary of defense. They waited until October, when Rumsfeld was scheduled to be in Paris for a round-table discussion on international relations sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine. On the day Rumsfeld arrived, the lawyers walked into a Parisian court and formally charged him with ordering torture at Guantánamo Bay, a violation of the 1984 Convention Against Torture. When the round-table was finished, Ratner and his colleagues later noted in a press release, Rumsfeld ducked out of the building and 'left through a door connecting to the U.S. embassy to avoid journalists and human rights attorneys outside.' Ratner had already filed a criminal complaint in Germany a year earlier, and he plans to hit Rumsfeld with yet another one in a Spanish court this February. The odds of Rumsfeld being convicted of anything are slim -- but that's not really the point. If a criminal investigation is under way, Rumsfeld could be dragged into court to answer questions as long as he stays in France or Germany or Spain. The only way to avoid this embarrassment is to stay out of those countries indefinitely. [...]"
[n.b. Just seen, so posted late.]


"Genocide and the Crime of War"
Elected Swineherd (blog), 7 December 2007
"[...] Genocide scholars (and I shall deal with this lot in a later post) spend a great deal of time focused on the 5 million European Jews that died at the hands of the Nazis. What one never hears discussed is the OTHER 5 million German citizens who were sent to their deaths by the German government. I speak, of course, of the German army; conscripted, forced by their own government to endure conditions that, imposed in any other setting than war, would be considered the height of cruelty -- Starvation, exposure to extreme heat and cold, the mental torment of repeated bombardments; the mercy of death, when it came (as it did to 30% of these unfortunates) tended not to be surgical or methodical in nature. A bullet in the back of the head or a dose of VX sounds like a walk in the park compared to being shot in the guts and left to writhe for a few hours, being crushed to death by the tank treads, burned alive by a flamethrower, or being literally dismembered by a high-explosive artillery shell. Of course, Germany was not alone, in World War II, or throughout history, in sending its citizens to a certain (and certainly horrific) death. ... As Leon Trotsky wrote: 'An army cannot be built without reprisals. Masses of men cannot be led to death unless the command has the death penalty in its arsenal. So long as those malicious tailless apes that are so proud of their technical achievements -- the animals that we call men -- will build armies and wage wars, the command will always be obliged to place the soldiers between the possible death in the front and the inevitable one in the rear.' ... Most countries still maintain it is their sovereign right to impress men into service (the dubious service of killing and being killed) at their whim; I should propose that the root of all war crimes, and in fact the crime against humanity that is war itself is the notion that any State has the sovereign right to make war, either against it's own citizens, or the citizens of other States. [...]"


"Subsidies' Harvest of Misery"
By Jimmy Carter
The Washington Post (on, 12 December 2007
"[...] It is embarrassing to note that, from 1995 to 2005, the richest 10 percent of [US] cotton growers received more than 80 percent of total subsidies. The wealthiest 1 percent of American cotton farmers continues to receive over 25 percent of payouts for cotton, while more than half of America's cotton farmers receive no subsidies at all. American farmers are not dependent on the global market because they are guaranteed a minimum selling price by the federal government. American producers of cotton received more than $18 billion in subsidies between 1999 and 2005, while market value of the cotton was $23 billion. That's a subsidy of 86 percent! The Carter Center works primarily among the world's poorest people, including those in West Africa whose scant livelihood depends on cotton production. For instance, in 2002 Burkina Faso received 57 percent of its total export revenue from cotton, while Benin depended on cotton exports for more than 75 percent of its national export revenue. Overproduction in the United States leads to the dumping of U.S. cotton on global markets, which drives prices down. In recent years, cotton exported from the United States has been sold 61 percent below its cost of production. Fragile African economies that depend on agricultural exports, especially cotton, are sometimes devastated by these practices. A 2002 report by Oxfam International estimates that in 2001 sub-Saharan Africa lost $302 million as a direct result of U.S. cotton subsidies, with two-thirds of the loss sustained in eight countries — Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Central African Republic, Chad and Togo. Compared with American humanitarian assistance, the subsidies to U.S. cotton farmers amount to more than the U.S. Agency for International Development’s total annual budget for all of sub-Saharan Africa. [...]"


"Mothers Betrayed"
By Sarah Brown
New Statesman, 6 December 2007
"[...] Tragically, 20 years after the Global Safe Motherhood Initiative, seven years after the UN Millennium Summit, no progress has been made. If anything, the figures are worse. Of 211 million pregnancies worldwide in 2005, eight million women experienced life-threatening complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Those with access to skilled care and services tended to survive. But 536,000 died, the vast majority in developing countries, 80 per cent of them totally avoidable. Millions more have continuing health difficulties following obstetric complications, making life after childbirth difficult and painful. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of mothers dying in childbirth is around one in 50: up to 100,000 women die each year, and hundreds of thousands of babies and older children are left without a mother. ... What makes the lack of any progress on maternal mortality so depressing and frustrating is that, on other Millennium Development Goals, some progress -- albeit slowly -- is being made and things are beginning to improve. Millions more children are surviving infancy, receiving vaccinations and going to primary school than were in 2000, their life chances transformed by better health care and education. Even in the uphill struggle against Aids, great progress is being made. In Uganda, HIV infection has fallen from 16 per cent to 5 per cent in the past decade. Yet we know that for hundreds of thousands of children each year, the improvements we make to their life chances through better edu cation and health care are cancelled out by the loss of their mother. For every mother who dies in childbirth, the life chances of a new baby -- as well as its brothers and sisters -- can be damaged beyond repair. [...]"