Thursday, December 27, 2007

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

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


"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.]

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please be constructive in your comments. - AJ