Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Genocide Studies Media File
February 4-27, 2008

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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"Australia Prime Minister Submits Historic Apology to Aborigines"
By Tim Johnston
The New York Times, 13 February 2008 [Registration Required]
"Prime Minister Kevin Rudd of Australia on Tuesday asked Parliament to approve a historic apology to the country's indigenous minorities for their past mistreatment at the hands of the authorities. The apology itself will be made by Mr. Rudd on Wednesday, but he presented the text he intends to use to Parliament, which is dominated by his party and is expected to approve it. 'We apologize for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians,' the text read. The apology is aimed particularly at the 'stolen generations,' the thousands of Aboriginal and mixed-race children who were taken from their parents, in some states as part of a policy to 'breed out the color,' in the words of Cecil Cook, who went by the title of chief protector of Aborigines in the Northern Territory in the 1930's. The text of the apology fulfills one of the basic demands of the people who have been calling for such a move for years: it contains the word 'sorry.' 'We apologize especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry. To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry. And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry,' the text reads. Kirstie Parker, the managing editor of the Aboriginal newspaper the Koori Mail, said she felt that the apology had hit the right note. 'I think it is a very broad but in some places quite specific statement, and I found it very moving,' she said. But she said that for many indigenous Australians the apology would fall short because the government had ruled out offering compensation to those affected by the policy. [...]"

"Australia's Finest Hour"
By Hall Greenland, 13 February 2008
"Australia's new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd went up onto the mountain and delivered. The first order of business, on the first day in parliament, of the new Labor government. Nothing would, nothing could, and nothing did take precedence over the apology. Kevin Rudd's 'Sorry' to the stolen generations of indigenous Australians was social democracy's finest hour. It was long overdue. It was delivered after a decade of denial and delay by the previous John Howard government. Bringing Them Home, the report on the enforced removal of up to 50,000 mixed-blood children between 1900 and 1970, had recommended a simple but historic Sorry back in 1997. We had to wait until now for moral leadership at the national level. It's not to denigrate the man to say that never again will Kevin Rudd reach such noble heights. Rather it is to signal the sheer decency of his achievement. And he did it without flamboyance, but with a quiet, genuine eloquence. There was not a trace of grandstanding in his delivery. There were tears in Kevin Rudd's eyes as the parliament, the crowded gallery and huge crowd outside rose to give him a standing ovation. And there was not a dry eye among the thousands that assembled at the open-air broadcast in Eveleigh Street in the Sydney suburb of Redfern -- Australia's little Harlem. All over Sydney the Aboriginal flag flew from town halls, schools and even Sydney University two blocks from Eveleigh Street. ... For many kids this day will be like the day of the moon landing, or the day Martin Luther King was assassinated, or Che murdered, or JFK shot, was for previous generations; they will remember where they were if only because lots of schools watched the apology. It means these rising generations will inherit an Australia which has, if not a clean sheet, at least an honest one. [...]"


"Khmer Rouge Defendant Weeps at Site of Mass Graves"
Associated Press dispatch in the International Herald Tribune, 26 February 2008
"The former head of a notorious Khmer Rouge torture center was moved to tears Tuesday when he was taken by Cambodia's genocide tribunal to one of the country's notorious 'killing fields' to which he is accused of sending thousands of people to their deaths, an official said. Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, has been charged with crimes against humanity for his role three decades ago as commandant of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 prison in Phnom Penh. He was taken into custody by the UN-assisted tribunal last year pending trial. An estimated 1.7 million people died during the 1975-79 Communist Khmer Rouge regime, which cut off contact with the outside world and forced the entire population into agricultural collectives, leading to starvation and disease. The regime tortured and executed untold thousands of people. Duch, 65, is one of five former high-ranking Khmer Rouge officials being held for trial by the joint UN-Cambodian tribunal established in 2006 to finally bring aging top Khmer Rouge leaders to justice. The so-called re-enactment Tuesday, closed to the public and the news media, was part of an investigative process that involves taking the accused to the crime scene to be questioned about what happened in the past. Duch wept during the three-and-a-half-hour visit as 'the accused explained what happened' when he commanded S-21, according to Reach Sambath, a tribunal spokesman. 'We noticed that he was feeling pity, tears were rolling down his face two or three times,' Reach Sambath said. Duch was especially moved when he stood before a tree with a sign describing how executioners disposed of child victims by bashing their heads against its trunk, the spokesman said. There are several similar displays among the shallow graves, which contain skeletal remains and ragged clothes. Some 16,000 men, women and children who had been at S-21 were killed and buried at Choeung Ek, which is now a memorial site and a tourist attraction. [...]"

"Discussing Genocide"
By Cindy Cantrell
The Boston Globe, 24 February 2008
"While a person's name and birth date are major components of one's identity, Sayon Soeun of Lowell says he can't be sure either of his is accurate. Both were assigned to him by a refugee camp relief worker in Thailand. Born in the Takeo province of Cambodia around 1967, Soeun was taken away from his parents and siblings by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s to be trained as a child soldier. 'I was trained to fight,' said Soeun, who carried a gun and witnessed executions, forced labor, and widespread illness and starvation. 'They taught me not to trust anybody. They taught me to hate. It has been a very long road to becoming the person I am today.' Soeun credits his inner strength and the support of 'many wonderful people' with helping him on his journey. In 1979, he fled to Thailand, where a church matched him with his adopted parents, two brothers, and a sister, whom he joined in Connecticut. In 1990, he moved to Lowell, where he is now executive director of Light of Cambodian Children Inc. Although Soeun has not returned to his native country, he hopes next year to travel to Cambodia in search of his birth siblings -- four brothers and two sisters, according to his memory. 'It's very sad to remember what happened in Cambodia, but sharing my story helps me heal,' said Soeun, who will discuss his experiences this week as part of a genocide series at Northern Essex Community College. 'Even people who are not rich in this country have the luxury of freedom. It should not be taken for granted.' [...]"


"Righting a Great Wrong"
By Cathryn Atkinson
New Statesman, 15 February 2008
"[...] Billy, like 80,000 other aboriginal people across Canada, is due to receive compensation from the federal government for being forced into a Catholic residential school as a teenager in the early 1970s. Stuck 135km away from Waiwakum, she was expected to drop everything that made her who she is. Now considered by many as a nationally implemented racist policy of cultural and actual genocide, residential schools took children away from their families, their languages and histories, and often left them to the mercy of sadistic guardians, subjected to widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse. Native activists believe up to 50,000 children died at the schools, which were first operated in Upper Canada (now Ontario) in the 1840s, while Canada was still a British colony. In 1928, a government official predicted that the country would end its 'Indian problem' within two generations. Church-run by various denominations, including Anglicans and Presbyterians, the government-funded residential schools for native children were supposed to prepare them for life in white society. But the system backfired, of course, the aims of forced assimilation leaving deep and abiding scars. By 1898, there were 54 schools nationwide, which increased to 74 schools in 1920. In the same year, the Department of Indian Affairs decided to make such schooling mandatory for children aged seven to 15. The 1950s were the peak of the residential school era, with 76 schools in operation. However, the numbers started to go down as rumours about the treatment of the children spread. ... Aboriginal people have demanded, and received, official apologies from the Anglican, United and Roman Catholic churches for their treatment. As more former pupils come forth with stories about abuse, some religious authorities who administered the schools are being criminally charged. In November 2005, a truth and reconciliation commission was established with an aim similar to that of the South African commission established a decade earlier: to allow native people to tell their stories of almost 500 years of oppression. As part of this, a final compensation package worth $2bn came into effect last autumn for those who attended the residential schools, settling dozens of class-action lawsuits. [...]"


"Canadian Inquiry Blames Israelis for Deaths in 2006"
By Ian Austin
The New York Times, 2 February 2008 [Registration Required]
"A Canadian military inquiry's report released Friday blames Israeli forces for the 'tragic and preventable' deaths of a Canadian soldier and three other United Nations observers in Lebanon in July 2006. The board of inquiry was convened because of the death of Maj. Paeta Hess-Von Kruedener, a Canadian assigned as a United Nations observer in southern Lebanon when Israel invaded the region during fighting between Israeli forces and Hezbollah. A censored version of its report was made public on Friday. While Israel does not deny that it killed the observers, it says the episode was unintentional. The four observers were killed by a 1,100-pound G.P.S.-guided bomb dropped by the Israeli military that destroyed most of their observation post. The Canadian inquiry found that the fatal bombing was the third in a series of attacks on the post over several hours on July 25, 2006. The first two attacks, which included artillery and aerial bombing, damaged the post and led United Nations commanders to schedule its evacuation for the following morning. The attacks prompted increasingly strong messages from United Nations commanders to Israeli military liaisons asking them to stop attacking the post. About 40 minutes before the final bomb fell, the report said, a United Nations commander told the Israeli military, 'You are killing my people.' The report said that because the Israeli military offered limited cooperation with the inquiry, it could not determine exactly why the bomb was dropped. But it said Israel apparently ignored warnings to stop the attack. The report said that while the Israeli Army 'has acknowledged the receipt of the protests from the U.N. it has failed to explain why the attack was not halted.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"China, in New Role, Presses Sudan on Darfur"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 23 February 2008 [Registration Required]
"Amid the international outrage over the bloodshed in Darfur, frustration has increasingly turned toward China, Sudan’s biggest trading partner and international protector, culminating in Steven Spielberg’s decision last week to withdraw as artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics. And it may be working. China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force, diplomats and analysts say. It has also acted publicly, sending engineers to help peacekeepers in Darfur and appointing a special envoy to the region who has toured refugee camps and pressed the Sudanese government to change its policies. Few analysts expect China to walk away from its business ties to Sudan, but its willingness to take up the issue is a rare venture into something China swears it never does -- meddle in the internal affairs of its trading partners. 'China in my view has been very cooperative,; said Andrew S. Natsios, the former special envoy of President Bush to Sudan. 'The level of coordination and cooperation has been improving each month.' ... The conflict has also inspired one of the largest protest movements in the United States since the battle to end apartheid in South Africa. China, with its vast commercial interests and sensitivity to criticism around the Olympics, presents a unique leverage point for this movement. Like Mr. Spielberg, Mia Farrow, an actress and Darfur activist, has said China can do more, specifically by pushing for the full deployment of 27,000 peacekeeping troops in Darfur, supplying some of the helicopters needed for the mission and demanding an end to aerial bombardment of civilian areas. [...]"


"Congo Turns Over War-Crimes Suspect"
By Mike Corder
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 7 February 2008
"Congo has arrested and turned over for trial an army colonel and former rebel leader accused of leading a 2003 attack on a village in the country's lawless east that left 200 civilians dead, the International Criminal Court announced Thursday. Mathieu Ngudjolo, 37, was handed to court officials in Kinshasa on Wednesday and was expected to arrive at the court's detention unit in The Hague later Thursday, a court statement said. He is the third Congolese suspect to be taken into custody by the world's first permanent war crimes court. Mr. Ngudjolo allegedly led forces of the National Integrationist Front -- including child soldiers -- who attacked the village of Bogoro in the eastern Ituri region in 2003, the court said. Judge Sylvia Steiner at the Hague-based court who ordered the arrest said evidence gave 'reasonable grounds to believe' that his forces murdered about 200 civilians, mutilated others and captured women and girls to use as sex slaves. The arrest 'shows that justice will reach those who seem untouchable because of their official position,' said Param-Preet Singh, counsel in Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program. 'The arrest brings hope to the many victims of war crimes in Ituri that other political and military officials will be held to account.' Mr. Ngudjolo is accused of three crimes against humanity: murder, sexual slavery and inhumane acts. He also is accused of six war crimes counts, including using child soldiers in the attack. [...]"


"Timor's Mass Graves to be Excavated"
By Susan Wellings
The Sydney Morning Herald, 18 February 2008
"One of East Timor's most bloody massacres is finally to be investigated by a team of Australian forensic scientists who plan to excavate a mass grave and identify up to 400 missing people. TV footage of the slaughter of peaceful protesters by Indonesian troops at the Santa Cruz cemetery in 1991 was smuggled into Australia and flashed around a shocked world, providing the catalyst for the push towards independence for the embattled population. Now comes the last act in the drama: the hastily buried remains of the dead will be exhumed and attempts made to identify them, in the hope of bringing closure to the hundreds of families still searching for their missing sons, husbands and fathers. ... Starting days after the bungled attacks on the country's President and Prime Minister which threatens to tip the country back into chaos, the project -- funded by the Australian Government aid agency AusAID and with the co-operation of the Timorese Government -- is likely to be a delicate one. But Dr Blau, 37, of the Centre for Human Identification at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, with a forensic dentist, a translator and two other forensic anthropologists from Argentina, says she hopes it will be a unifying project for the nation. ... Estimates of the number of dead from that day on November 12, 1991, vary from 200 to 400. Soldiers opened fire on unarmed demonstrators in what was the first public showing in Dili of support for the resistance movement against Indonesian occupation, with banners depicting Xanana Gusmao, who later became the first president and is now the Prime Minister. The bodies, said to have been loaded on to military trucks, and injured survivors taken from hospital, have never been found. 'The atrocity has huge significance for the Timorese in terms of the move towards independence,' Dr. Blau said. 'Now, with eyewitnesses guiding us to the alleged mass grave, our primary aim is humanitarian, but we will be collecting evidence and what the Government does with that will be up to them.'"


"Sarkozy Ignites Row over Religion, Holocaust Study"
By Tom Heneghan
Reuters dispatch, 14 February 2007
"President Nicolas Sarkozy has triggered a row over religion by saying faith has a place in the public sphere and schoolchildren should study the 11,000 French Jewish child victims of the Holocaust. Sarkozy has angered secularists with repeated praise for faith and references to France's Christian roots, and he told a French Jewish organization that the violence and wars of the 20th century were due to an ;absence of God.' Ten-year-old pupils 'should know the name and life story of a child who died in the Holocaust,' he told the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF) on Wednesday. He attracted criticism on Thursday from two camps -- secularists keen to keep religion out of public discourse and those worried that pupils could be traumatized by studying the Holocaust through child victims with whom they could identify. 'The president should not turn into a kind of preacher, as he is doing now,' said left-wing Senator Jean-Luc Melenchon. Centrist deputy Francois Bayrou predicted 'a clash between France's values and those of Nicolas Sarkozy.' 'I don't think we can impose remembrance,' former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said. Having pupils 'adopt' a Holocaust victim was 'something very heavy to carry around.' Sarkozy's recent speeches to Catholics and Muslims prompted charges he was violating France's separation of church and state. He was the first French president to address the CRIF annual dinner, a role the prime minister normally takes. [...]"


"Guatemala to Open Army Files to Probe War Crimes"
Reuters dispatch, 25 February 2008
"Guatemala's new President Alvaro Colom said on Monday he will open army files for the first time to make public details of massacres and torture by soldiers during the country's 36-year civil war. 'We are going to make all of the army's archives public so we can know the truth, to start building on a foundation of truth and justice,' said Colom, who beat a right-wing former general to take office in January. Almost a quarter of a million people were killed or disappeared during the 1960-1996 conflict between leftist guerrillas and the government. Over 80 percent of the murders were committed by the army, according to a United Nations-backed truth commission. The commission, which compiled thousands of interviews with victims after the 1996 peace accords, named no officials, in part because the army files were not open to the public. Colom's uncle, Manuel Colom Argueta, a leftist politician with presidential ambitions, was killed by the army in 1979 in a well-coordinated ambush. Rights groups say the new army files will help solve war crimes when matched with information in the police archive discovered in June 2005, as police collaborated with the army. Colom said all the information from the military will be turned over to the human rights ombudsman, also in charge of cleaning and categorizing the thousands of police documents left molding in an old warehouse behind a dump for rusted cars. The massive paper trail gives hope to family members who are looking for answers about their long-disappeared relatives. [...]"


"British Troops Executed 20 Captives in Southern Iraq, Say Lawyers"
By Fred Attewill
The Guardian, 22 February 2008
"British troops may have executed up to 20 captives in southern Iraq in 2004, human rights lawyers claimed today. A dossier of evidence from men taken captive after a gun battle near the Iraqi town of Majat-al-Kabir in May 2004 also suggested soldiers tortured and mutilated captives. Lawyers for five Iraqis today issued detailed witness statements, photographs of corpses and death certificates of the men who died. The allegations first emerged within weeks of the incident and have since been investigated by the Royal Military Police. The claims, which the Ministry of Defence denies, are among the most serious yet levelled against British soldiers who served in Iraq. Solicitor Phil Shiner said: 'There is the clearest evidence available of systematic abuse and systematic failings at the very highest levels of politicians, the civil service and the military.' He added: 'Until we as a nation face up to this evidence we cannot hope for the fundamental reforms required to ensure these things can never happen again. We do not want to be talked about in the same vein as the Japanese in the second world war or the Americans at My Lai, but unless we stand up and say as a nation that this cannot happen in our name, that is where we seem to be headed.' ... Detailed witness statements from the five men -- Hussein Jabbari Ali, Hussain Fadhil Abass, Atiyah Sayid Abdelreza, Madhi Jassim Abdullah and Ahmad Jabber Ahmood -- described what they heard while in detention, when they were handcuffed and forced to wear blacked-out goggles. The statements described hearing other men screaming and choking as well as the sound of gunfire. Abdelreza's statement read: 'I believed people were being killed. I have never heard anything like that sound ever before in my life. It shocked me and filled me with such terror.' The lawyers, who are bringing a damages claim in the UK courts, say the five witnesses are labourers who have lived all their lives in Majar and had 'absolutely nothing' to do with the Shia Mahdi army, who engaged British troops in the gun battle. Day said: 'The nature of a number of the injuries of the Iraqis would seem to us to be highly unusual in a battlefield. For example, quite how so many of the Iraqis sustained single gunshots to the head and from seemingly at close quarter, how did two of them end with their eyes gouged out, gow did one have his penis cut off (and) some have torture wounds?' [...]"


"Timothy Snyder on the Forgotten Holocaust"
By Timothy Snyder, 15 February 2008
"Though she survived the Holocaust, Ida Belozovskaya was not invoking the crematoriums of Auschwitz. In the Kiev of September 1941 that she was describing in one of the interviews published in 'The Unknown Black Book,' the Germans were killing the Jews, but without the help of gas chambers. These had not yet been invented, but the Holocaust was under way. What she was trying to describe was the fear and shame of hiding in a city where 30,000 Jews could be shot in a single day, where her father had just been seized on the street. Her references jar the ones we have come to know, but her experience is just as representative, and important, as that of Jews who lived through Auschwitz. Half of the Jews who died in the Holocaust were killed by bullets rather than by gas, in death pits rather than in death camps. Some 2.2 million Soviet Jews were killed by shooting; 350,000 more were asphyxiated in mobile gas vans. Compare this to the 1.1 million deaths at Auschwitz, or the approximately 800,000 deaths at Treblinka. Even had the death camps never existed, this eastern Holocaust would have to be regarded as the most horrible of atrocities. Yet we have all but forgotten it. The east is where the killing began. The mass murder of Europe’s Jews began not in Germany or in German-occupied Poland, but on the eastern front, after the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. As the German army swept forward in 1941 and 1942, four Einsatzgruppen ('Task Forces') followed them to the east, assigned to liquidate political enemies and Jews. At the end of August, the Germans killed some 23,000 Jews in the Ukrainian city of Kamenets-Podolsk. After that the total elimination of Jewish populations in Ukraine and Belarus became the norm. [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Jo Jones for bringing this source to my attention.]


"Rape is Weapon in Kenyan Violence"
By Katy Pownall
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 13 February 2008
"Looting, arson and murder have become hallmarks of Kenya's conflict over a disputed presidential election. Another, less talked about tactic in the violence that has degenerated into ethnic clashes: rape. Dr. Joseph Osoo, who runs a tin-roofed, two-room clinic in Nairobi's Mathare slum, said he was overwhelmed by the number of women and girls who came for treatment and by the brutality of their ordeals. 'During the days immediately after the election I was treating up to 45 rape victims a day,' he said. Usually, he treats one rape victim a week. One 10-year-old girl suffered a ruptured cervix as the result of her attack, another woman was cleaved across the top of her thighs with a machete and left to bleed to death, he said. 'What is unusual is that most cases are gang rapes, which I have never seen before,' he said. Lucy Kiama, who heads the Gender Violence Recovery Center at Nairobi Women's Hospital, said she also has seen 'a huge increase in incidences of sexual violence in the postelection period.' The hospital treated 135 sexually assaulted women and children -- one just 2 years old -- in the three weeks after the Dec. 27 election that the opposition accuses the president of stealing. Kiama said the numbers may be even higher. The general violence and lack of transport during skirmishes mean many victims never make it to the hospital to report rape, she said. [...]"


"Rwanda: Genocide Survivor Wants to Sue Belgium"
Hirondelle News Agency dispatch on, 25 February 2008
"A Rwandan genocide survivor has filed a suit in a civil court to prosecute the Belgian state and is also seeking for compensation estimated at 100,000 Euros for death of her relatives during the 1994 genocide, according to 'Le Soir' Belgium daily newspaper. The financial compensation is sought on grounds that the Belgium peace keeping force failed to protect her sister, brother-in-law and their children on April 11, 1994 at the height of the slaughter. The summon underlines responsibility of Belgium soldiers in the massacre of approximately 2,000 Rwandans who had placed themselves under the protection of the peacekeepers at the Official Technical School (ETO) Don Bosco, situated in Kicukiro. The ETO was at the time one of the main barracks, nicknamed 'Beverly Hills,' of the Belgian battalion of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) headquartered in Kigali. The plaintiff and her family had found refuge there on 8 April, just two days after the bloodbath began on April 6 following assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana. 'It was decided by Colonel Marchal, then head of the Belgian battalion KIBAT of the UNAMIR to withdraw during the afternoon of 11 April 1994 peacekeepers from ETO,' claimed the summon. It added: 'By abandoning Rwandan refugees who were there and the fact that the site was encircled by armed militiamen (Interahamwe) of which everyone, including the Belgian soldiers knew that they [Interahamwe] were going to proceed to commit the massacres.' Belgium decided to withdraw its contingent of UNAMIR peacekeepers following the assassination of ten of its soldiers on 7 April 1994. However, the plaintiff has wished to remain anonymous at this stage. [...]"


"Bush Calls for Darfur Crisis to End"
Associated Press dispatch in USA Today, 19 February 2008
"Speaking on soil once stained with the blood of Rwanda's genocide, President Bush called Tuesday on all nations to step up efforts to end 'once and for all' the ethnic slaughter still continuing in Sudan's western Darfur region. The president said the U.S. is using sanctions, pressure and money to help resolve the Darfur crisis that Bush calls a genocide. But the president, frustrated at the lack of willingness of some other countries to do the same, sought to give his campaign for their increased involvement added weight by making pointed remarks on it from the Rwandan capital. 'The Rwanda people know the horrors of genocide,' Bush said after meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. 'My message to other nations is: "Join with the president and help us get this problem solved once and for all." And we will help.' Rwanda was the first to deploy peacekeepers to the violent Darfur region in a joint African Union-U.N. mission. The United States has trained nearly 7,000 Rwandan troops and spent more than $17 million to equip and airlift them into the region. The U.S. has committed $100 million to train and provide equipment for peacekeepers from several African nations deploying to Darfur. 'I'm not comfortable with how quickly the response has been,' the president said. Bush spoke after a somber visit to the haunting Kigali Memorial Centre. Exhibits there tell the story of Rwanda's 1994 genocide as well as other ethnic slaughter around the world. Mass graves on a trellis-covered hilltop outside hold some remains of about 250,000 people. Over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were shot, clubbed and hacked to death in just 100 days by extremist Hutu militias incited by the then-government. It ended when Kagame's rebel forces ousted the Hutu government. 'It's a moving place. It can't help but shake your emotions to their very foundation,' Bush said after walking through its rooms and gardens. 'There is evil in the world and evil must be confronted.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Paula Drumond for bringing this source to my attention.]


"Kosovo Warns Serbia as Riots Continue"
By Matt Robinson
Reuters dispatch, 26 February 2008
"Kosovo told Serbia on Tuesday it would not yield one inch of its territory, and a violent protest by ethnic Serbs in Bosnia against Kosovo's secession highlighted continued volatility in the Balkan region. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian Prime Minister Hashim Thaci was responding to a Serbian government pledge to rule Serb-dominated parts of Kosovo following its secession from Serbia 10 days ago. Hundreds of protesters tried to attack the United States consulate in the Bosnian Serb Republic capital, Banja Luka, after a largely peaceful march by some 10,000 people. They stoned the building before being pushed back by riot police. The windows of Croat-owned shops in the centre of town were smashed and two policemen were injured in the melee, the latest in a series of violent Serb protests in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Vienna, and northern Kosovo, a Serb stronghold in the new state. 'We understand and respect peaceful reactions, guaranteed by the law, but we will not allow the territorial integrity of Kosovo to be compromised,' Thaci, a former guerrilla commander, said. 'I am constantly in contact with NATO to prevent anyone from touching even one inch of Kosovo's territory,' he told reporters in Racak, scene of a Serb massacre a decade ago. Kosovo's Albanian majority declared independence from Serbia with Western backing on February 17. Serbs in the north reject the secession, fuelling fears that the country is destined for partition, and may trigger a Serb secession from Bosnia. 'As long as we live here we will not recognise an act of violence and secession of Kosovo from Serbia,' Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told the Banja Luka rally. [...]"

"Russia Could Use Force in Kosovo"
BBC Online, 22 February 2008
"Russia's ambassador to Nato, Dmitry Rogozin, has warned that Russia could use military force if the Kosovo independence dispute escalates. 'If the EU develops a unified position or if Nato exceeds its mandate set by the UN, then these organisations will be in conflict with the UN,' he said. In that case Russia would 'proceed on the basis that in order to be respected we need to use brute force,' he said. Many EU members have recognised Kosovo, but several oppose recognition. Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, backs Serbia, which has condemned the independence declaration issued by the Kosovo parliament on 17 February. On Tuesday members of the Serb minority in Kosovo attacked two border posts staffed by UN personnel and Kosovo police. The violence led the Nato troops in Kosovo -- known as K-For -- to reinforce the border with Serbia. Kosovo's majority ethnic Albanians are following a plan drawn up by UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari for 'supervised independence,' which was rejected by Serbia. The EU will soon deploy 2,000 officials to strengthen law and order in Kosovo, which has a population of about two million. Russia argues that the mission has no legal basis. There has been a furious reaction in some Russian media to Kosovo's declaration of independence. A commentary in the Vesti Plus analytical programme, on state-run television, called the assassinated former Serbian Prime Minister, Zoran Djindjic, a Western puppet who had 'received a well-deserved bullet.' It said Djindjic had sold national heroes to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The programme concluded that Serbia -- and not only Serbia -- must now decide whether to acquiesce in what has happened, or resist."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Bosnia Serbs Play Up Secession Threats over Kosovo"
By Olja Stanic
Reuters dispatch, 14 February 2008
"Bosnian Serb nationalists stepped up threats on Thursday to secede from Bosnia if Kosovo declares independence from Serbia on Sunday. 'In case Kosovo proclaims independence, we shall request independence for the Serb Republic as well,' Branislav Dukic, the chairman of SPONA, an association gathering several Bosnian Serb war veterans groups, told a news conference. Under the Dayton accords that ended the 1992-95 war, Bosnia comprises two loosely connected autonomous regions, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat federation, with little love lost between them. While Muslims and Croats want a stronger state, the Serbs want to preserve full autonomy of the region they won in the war with help from their political and economic backers in Serbia. Dukic said his association would ask the regional parliament to declare the Serb Republic's independence without referendum 'if the European Union recognizes independent Kosovo unilaterally and against international law.' 'If Kosovo's illegal parliament may declare independence, there is no reason why the Republika Srpska legal parliament would not have that right,' Dukic told Reuters. [...]"


"Spanish Judge Indicts Rwanda Officers"
By Tracy Wilkinson
The Los Angeles Times, 7 February 2008 [Registration required]
"A Spanish judge Wednesday indicted 40 Rwandan army officers on charges of mass murder and crimes against humanity in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwanda genocide, asserting a concept of justice championed by his nation known as 'universal jurisdiction.' Judge Fernando Andreu of Spain's National Court said he also had sufficient evidence to implicate current Rwandan President Paul Kagame in a long string of reprisal massacres after he and his forces seized power, ending the genocide. But Andreu said he could not indict Kagame because as president he has immunity. Rwandan officials reacted angrily. An army spokesman, Maj. Jill Rutaremara, said the legal case was 'nothing but an attempt to tarnish Rwanda's image,' according to reports by Agence France-Presse from Kigali, the capital. The indicted men include a Rwandan military attache stationed in Washington and a Rwandan ambassador in Asia, as well as the army chief of staff, according to people familiar with the judicial order. The doctrine of universal jurisdiction holds that some crimes such as torture and genocide are so heinous that people accused of committing them can be tried anywhere, even in countries where the crimes did not take place. Spain has the broadest universal jurisdiction law in the world, human rights experts say. With it, the country's judiciary has attempted to prosecute late Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Argentine and Guatemalan military officers accused of mass political killings of civilians, and even Osama bin Laden. And though Madrid wins praise in international-law circles for the effort, the cases have rarely resulted in convictions and have generated some controversy at home among Spanish officials who believe their courts are not equipped to take on such mammoth cases. [...]"


"Dark Anniversary for Darfur"
By Jennie Matthew
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 26 February 2008
"The deadly conflict in Darfur entered its sixth year on Tuesday with no solution in sight as Khartoum continued to resist the full deployment of a peacekeeping force amid a fresh wave of bombings. The anniversary coincides with visits to the country by Washington's special envoy for Sudan, Richard Williamson, and China's pointman for Darfur, Liu Giujin, for top-level talks aimed at nailing down an elusive peace. US President George W. Bush has said that genocide is taking place in Darfur, while Beijing has been accused of supplying many of the arms being used to crush the insurgency and of turning a diplomatic blind eye to the violence. The United Nations said earlier this week that new bombings were endangering thousands of lives in Darfur, seeking reassurances that more civilians would be allowed to flee to join the estimated 2.2 million already displaced by the conflict. The UN refugee agency has said that two days of heavy bombardments and attacks by the Sudanese army and Janjaweed militia earlier this month in western Darfur prompted about 12,000 more refugees to flee into eastern Chad. Ravaging one of the most remote and deprived places on earth, the conflict pits ethnic minorities fighting for resources and power against state-backed Arab militias. International organisations estimate that 200,000 people have died since 2003 with more than a third of the six-million population displaced, although the Khartoum government puts the death toll at 9,000. Around 4.2 million people in the area live on aid handouts. [...]"

"A Genocide Foretold"
By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times, 28 February 2008 [Registration Required]
"The Sudanese government started the first genocide of the 21st century in Darfur, and now it seems to be preparing to start the second here among the thatch-roof huts of southern Sudan. South Sudan is rich in oil, but its people are among the poorest in the world, far poorer than those in Darfur. Only 1 percent of girls here finish elementary school, meaning that a young woman is more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than to become literate. Leprosy and Ebola linger here. South Sudan is the size of Texas, yet it has only 10 miles of paved road and almost no electricity; just about the only running water here is the Nile River. The poverty is mostly the result of the civil war between North and South Sudan that raged across the southern part of the country for two decades and cost 2 million lives. For many impoverished villagers, their only exposure to modern technology has been to endure bombings by the Sudanese Air Force. The war finally ended, thanks in part to strong American pressure, in 2005 with a landmark peace agreement -- but that peace is now fraying. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is backing away from the peace agreement, and prodding Arab militias to revive the war with the South Sudan military forces. Small-scale armed clashes have broken out since late last year, and it looks increasingly likely that Darfur will become simply the prologue to a far bloodier conflict that engulfs all Sudan. Even my presence here is a sign of the rising tensions and mistrust. [...]"


"China Feels Heat as Activists Take Their Cue from Spielberg"
By Tania Branigan in Beijing, Paul Kelso and Will Woodward
The Guardian, 14 February 2008
"The Chinese authorities yesterday received an uncomfortable preview of the scrutiny and criticism likely to accompany the Beijing Olympics this summer as human rights groups hailed Steven Spielberg's withdrawal from his role as an artistic adviser to the games. Campaign groups vowed to turn their attention to the major Olympic sponsors and other high-profile supporters of the games as they celebrated the international reaction to Spielberg's decision. The director stepped down from his role as artistic adviser to Beijing late on Tuesday, citing his opposition to China's support for the Sudanese regime responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. He accused China of not doing enough to press Sudan to end the 'continuing human suffering in the troubled region. China imports two-thirds of Sudan's oil and in return is said to be the African country's biggest arms supplier. Spielberg's move, taken after months of sustained pressure form his Hollywood peers, led by actor Mia Farrow, apparently took Beijing by surprise. The state-controlled media pointedly ignored the story and the Beijing organising committee for the Olympic games is understood to be preparing a statement which is likely to be issued this morning. However, Spielberg's action is bound to anger and alarm the authorities as it comes amid growing complaints about Beijing's record on human rights and Tibet, and is likely to encourage attempts to use the Olympics as leverage on those issues. There is particular concern that the government is cracking down on critics to ensure that they do not embarrass it during the games. Human rights groups vowed to do just that by targeting other high-profile institutions and individuals [...]"

"China Lashes Out against Darfur Critics in Olympics Row"
By Jane Macartney
The Times, 14 February 2008
"China has voiced regret at Steven Spielberg's withdrawal as an artistic adviser for the Summer Olympics because of Chinese involvement in Sudan, and in its first response to his decision has lashed out at those it accused of having ulterior motives. The snub from the Oscar-winning director this week coincided with a public protest by a group of Nobel prizewinners and Olympic athletes critical of Beijing's record in Darfur, who addressed a letter to Hu Jintao, President of China. Liu Jianchao, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: 'We hope not to see such a major event anticipated by the whole world disturbed by political issues. This not in line with the Olympic spirit.' Chinese officials have consistently voiced their opposition to any attempts to politicise the Olympics, which open on August 8. Mr Liu said that China had been working with the United Nations to resolve the crisis in Darfur and had been playing a positive and constructive role to try to bring peace. 'It is understandable if some people do not understand the Chinese government policy on Darfur, but I am afraid that some people may have ulterior motives, and this we cannot accept,' he said. China commonly makes reference to 'ulterior motives' as a term to describe people it considers to be operating behind a cover and with the purpose of doing it harm. [...]"

"Spielberg Drops Out as Adviser to Beijing Olympics in Dispute Over Darfur Conflict"
By Helene Cooper
The New York Times, 13 February 2008 [Registration Required]
"Steven Spielberg said Tuesday that he was withdrawing as an artistic adviser to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, after almost a year of trying unsuccessfully to prod President Hu Jintao of China to do more to try to end Sudan’s attacks in the Darfur region. Mr. Spielberg's decision, and the public way he announced it, is a blow to China, which has said that its relationship with Sudan should not be linked to the Olympics, which have become a source of national pride. In a statement sent to the Chinese ambassador and the Beijing Olympic committee on Tuesday, Mr. Spielberg said that his 'conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual.' 'Sudan's government bears the bulk of the responsibility for these ongoing crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there,' the statement said. 'China's economic, military and diplomatic ties to the government of Sudan continue to provide it with the opportunity and obligation to press for change.' Responding to Mr. Spielberg’s action, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington said, 'As the Darfur issue is neither an internal issue of China nor is it caused by China, it is completely unreasonable, irresponsible and unfair to link the two as one.' Mr. Spielberg had written to Mr. Hu about Darfur twice in the past 10 months, his spokesman said, taking China to task for its 'silence' while Sudan blocked the deployment of international peacekeepers and expelled aid workers from the region. [...]"


"A Human Rights Statistician Finds Truth in Numbers"
By Jina Moore
The Christian Science Monitor, 7 February 2008
"[...] [Patrick] Ball is a statistician -- not exactly a profession usually associated with human rights defense. But the Human Rights Data Program that he heads at Benetech, a technology company with a social justice focus, is bringing the power of quantitative analysis to a field otherwise full of anecdote. In juridical terms, Ball's work on Kosovo went nowhere: Milosevic died in 2006, the trial was suspended and the evidence sealed. But nearly 20 years working on some of the world's worst human rights crimes prompts him to take the long view. Even without a ruling, his science complements the efforts of dozens of other professionals -- lawyers, forensic scientists, historians, political scientists -- to tell a truth bigger than the story abruptly silenced in the courtroom. 'The thing about human rights violations is that they occur massively. They don't occur one at a time,' he says. What turns out to be really important, he says, is whether it's thousands or tens of thousands. 'Because ... we have very different political understandings of [numbers].' Since 1988, Ball has been 'hacking code' -- writing software -- to unlock secrets from numbers. He taught himself computer programming so he could get a job that would cover expenses not included in his undergraduate scholarship to Columbia University. ... The level of expertise and discipline his work requires puts Ball on par with Olympic runners or violin virtuosos. Lara J. Nettelfield, a Balkans scholar at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, says he's 'one of the very small group of people in the world who could properly analyze and consult on [mass atrocities].' [...]"


"Rich African States 'Squander Their Wealth' As Children Die"
By Katherine Butler
The Independent, 18 February 2008
"Some of Africa's biggest 'success stories' are accused today of squandering money they could be using to help prevent millions of children dying. A report says that many of the developing countries hailed by the West as economic miracles are using little of their new wealth to tackle easily preventable diseases that kill millions of the most vulnerable, in particular newborn babies, young children and women in childbirth. The findings from Save the Children are, the aid agency says, an indictment of governments in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly half of the worst performing countries are in Africa, despite some boasting economic growth rates three times the global average. The agency has plotted rates of child mortality against UN data on per-capita income to publish an index showing which countries are making the best use of their new prosperity. Oil-rich Angola emerges worst. Although it now has a per-capita income high enough to put it in the 'middle income' category of states, more than one in four children dies before their fifth birthday. Sierra Leone is the second-worst performing, with 118 more children per 1,000 dying than should do for the amount of cash coming into the country. South Africa and Nigeria are also criticised. However, Bangladesh, despite its poverty, is one of the few countries to improve significantly child health. Its wealth per head grew at a rate of 23 per cent between 2000 and 2006, and the increased prosperity has at least partly been converted into a better deal for the poor. During the same period, its child mortality rate has fallen by 25 per cent. India's per-capita income grew 82 per cent in the same period, but it managed to cut child mortality rates by only 19 per cent. Some 10 million children die each year of illnesses related to poverty and limited access to medical treatment, and 41 countries account for 9 million of those child deaths. The 10 countries with the worst record for converting new wealth into child survival are Angola, Sierra Leone, Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon. The developing-country governments praised for having lower child-mortality rates than their income suggests include Nepal, Yemen, Malawi, Indonesia, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Egypt, Madagascar, The Philippines and China. Save the Children says governments must prioritise free health care, clean water and sanitation and to support women's education. [...]"


"'Taxi to the Dark Side': How Did America Become a Country That Tortures?"
By Cynthia Fuchs
PopMatters (on, 20 February 2008
"In December 2002, a 22-year-old Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar was picked up and delivered to the Bagram Air Force Base prison. Five days later, he was dead. Sgt. Thomas Curtis, one of the Military Police at Bagram, remembers, 'There was definitely a sense of concern because he was the second one. You wonder, was it something we did?' As detailed in Alex Gibney's devastating documentary, Taxi to the Dark Side, Dilawar's demise was officially termed a homicide, like the first detainee to die at Bagram, Habibullah. Captured by a warlord and handed over to the U.S. just days before Dilawar, Habibullah as deemed 'an important prisoner,' hooded, shackled, and isolated, periodically beaten for 'noncompliance.' Autopsies showed that Dilawar and Habibullah suffered similar abuses, including deep bruises all over their bodies; according to the Army coroner, Dilawar suffered 'massive tissue damage to his legs ... his legs had been pulpified.' And yet, despite initial concerns among the guards and interrogators at Bagram over an investigation, instead, the officer in charge of interrogation at the prison, Captain Carolyn Wood, was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor and, following the Iraq invasion in 2003, she and her unit were sent to Abu Ghraib. Methodically, relentlessly, Gibney's Oscar-nominated film assembles stories, evidence, and testimony from witnesses and experts (its deliberate structure recalls that of Charles Ferguson's No End in Sight, both films suggesting that, if the Bush Administration had not already put in place legal protections, more than one member might be subject to criminal charges). [...]"

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