Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Genocide Studies Media File
October 1-15, 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 Drops Ahmadinejad Case"
BBC Online, 15 October 2008
"The Australian government has abandoned plans to take international legal action against Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mr. Ahmadinejad has made several anti-Israel remarks in past speeches. Australian foreign minister, Stephen Smith, told parliament he did not wish to 'give further profile to these obscene remarks.' He also cited the complexity of the issues and the high legal threshold required to bring forward a case. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd threatened in May to take Mr Ahmadinejad to the International Court of Justice for inciting genocide against Israel. The Islamic Republic does not officially recognise the Jewish state. Since becoming president in 2005, Mr Ahmadinejad has provoked outraged reactions by predicting that Israel is doomed to disappear. In October 2005, the Iranian president made a statement in which he envisaged the replacement of Israel with a Palestinian state. This was widely translated as a call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map,' although the precise translation of the remarks is disputed, and some suggest a more accurate rendering would be 'the regime occupying Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.' [...]"


"UN Court Upholds Ruling on Former Croatian Serb Leader"
By Mike Corder
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, 8 October 2008
"UN appeals judges on Wednesday confirmed the 35-year sentence for a former Croatian Serb leader convicted for his role in a deadly campaign of ethnic cleansing in Croatia. The appeals chamber rejected virtually all of Milan Martic's 10 grounds of appeal against his conviction last year by the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal on charges stemming from a campaign of murder, torture and forced displacements in Croatia. The reign of terror left hundreds of non-Serbs dead and drove thousands from their homes in 1991-95. Tribunal President Fausto Pocar said the appeals judges overturned minor elements of the convictions, which had 'minimal impact on Martic's overall culpability.' He said the judges left Mr. Martic's sentence unchanged. Mr. Martic, 53, showed no emotion as Judge Pocar read the decision. He smiled and shook hands with his lawyers before being led out of court. Mr. Martic is one of the most senior Serb leaders successfully prosecuted by the court in its 15-year history, and his sentence is one of its longest. The appeals court rejected many of his arguments -- including his claim that the tribunal was biased and had not given him a presumption of innocence. He also unsuccessfully argued that the trial judges failed to consider the fact that he was part of a wider Serb political campaign steered from Belgrade. [...]"


"The Killings Go On: Targeting Unions in Colombia"
By Conn Hallinan, 15 October 2008
"There are lots of places in the world where you need to watch your step. You don't want to be a Sunni in a Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad (or vice versa). It's probably not smart to speak Tamal in southern Sri Lanka. You might want to keep being a Muslim under wraps in parts of Mindanao. But most of all you don't want to be a trade unionist in the U.S.'s one remaining ally in South America, Colombia. 'Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist,' says Jeremy Dear, chair of the British trade union organization, Justice For Colombia (JFC), 'In fact, more trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia during [Alvaro] Uribe's presidency than in the rest of the world [combined] over the same period.' In April, the Colombian Trade Union Confederation reported that the first part of 2008 saw a 77 percent increase in the murder of trade unionists. One of the latest victims was Luis Mayusa Prada, a union leader from Saravena. On Aug. 8, two men pumped him full of bullets -- 17 to be exact. Prada was the third member of his family to be assassinated by right-wing paramilitaries. His sister Carmen Mayusa, a nurse and leader of the National Assn. Of Hospital and Clinic Workers, is on the run from death threats. Prada, who left behind a wife and five children, was the 27th unionist to be murdered in 2008 and joins 3,000 others who have been assassinated in the past two decades. Only 3 percent of the cases have ever been solved. The fact that so many cases go unsolved is hardly surprising. The perpetrators work hand-in-glove with Colombia's police, military and, according to recent revelations, President Alvaro Uribe and his political allies. According to the Washington Post, the head of Uribe's secret police, who also served as the President's campaign manager, was arrested for 'giving a hit list of trade unionists and activists to paramilitaries, who then killed them.' Fourteen of Uribe's supporters in congress have been jailed for aiding paramilitaries, and 62 others are under investigation. [...]"


"Georgia Villages 'Torched,' Satellite Study Shows"
By Maggie Fox
Reuters dispatch, 9 October 2008
"Hundreds of houses in ethnic Georgian villages in South Ossetia were torched in August, after Russian troops took control of the area, according to an analysis of satellite images released on Thursday. The analysis, conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science on behalf of Amnesty International, did not show who was responsible for the damage but Amnesty said it may be evidence of war crimes. Human rights activists have criticized Russia for ignoring the looting of ethnic Georgian villages by armed South Ossetian militias during and after the war. Georgia says the looting amounted to 'ethnic cleansing.' Russia says Georgia's shelling of the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali -- which sparked the war -- amounts to a genocide against the Ossetians. Both deny the other's claims. 'These images do not lie -- the additional destruction shown from August 10 to August 19 must be used to establish who had responsibility for protecting civilians from attacks by militia,' said Amnesty's Ariela Blatter. 'The destruction of civilian infrastructure highlights the need for the international community to undertake an independent investigation of abuses during the conflict, with the complete support of all parties involved.' [...]"


"Chris Hune: Don't Extradite Alleged Holocaust Denier Frederick Toben"
The Telegraph, 4 October 2008
"Australian citizen Frederick Toben was arrested on Wednesday at Heathrow, en route from the United States to Dubai, and has been remanded in custody awaiting an extradition hearing on October 17. Mr. Huhne said that individuals should not be handed over to courts abroad for Holocaust denial, which is not a crime in the UK and raised issues of freedom of speech. The former MEP said that countries could 'pick and choose' the cases in which they would apply warrants issued by fellow EU member states, citing the case of Belgium, which has said it would not send suspects to Poland on murder charges which related to abortion. ... While stressing that he was completely opposed to anti-semitism, Mr Huhne said: 'We don't in this country tend to prosecute people for issues that we regard as issues of freedom of speech. I don't think the European arrest warrant was designed to be used in this sort of case and there are good legal grounds under Article 4 of the European arrest warrant whereby we could actually refuse to participate in this. I think it is a pretty dodgy case that the Germans are bringing, both in terms of German law and in terms of the reach of it, because in fact Dr Toben didn't actually commit this offence in Germany. If somebody goes too far and incites violence or causes an attack on somebody else, then it is absolutely right they should be prosecuted, but there is a very clear distinction from something you hold as an opinion -- it may be wrong and you may completely disagree with it, and I do in this case... I think we have to hold that fundamental belief in freedom of speech.' [...]"


"Holy War Strikes India"
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, 9 October 2008
"As she recalled her awful story, Puspanjali Panda made no attempt to halt the tears flooding down her face. Holding her daughter close, she told how a baying Hindu mob dragged her husband -- a Christian pastor -- from his bed, beat him to death with stones and iron rods and then threw him into a river. She found his corpse two days later, washed up on the bank. When she went to the police, they told her to go away. Mrs. Panda and thousands of others like her are victims of the worst communal violence between Hindus and Christians that India has seen for decades. For a country that boasts of its mutual religious tolerance, the long-simmering tension that has erupted in the Kandhamal district of the state of Orissa -- a nun being raped, churches being burned, at least 35 people killed and thousands forced from their villages -- is both a belated wake-up call and a mounting embarrassment. The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, called it a 'national disgrace.' But for Mrs. Panda, sheltering in a wretched relief camp in the state capital, Bhubaneswar, it is much worse than that. The 38-year-old said she had no idea what would now happen to her and her bewildered-looking child, Mona Lisa. 'I do not want to go back. They have destroyed my home,' she wailed. ... While conversion has been an issue, the conflict here is more complex than a religious disagreement. Many activists believe the fight is an economic dispute between two of India's poorest groups, complicated by the issue of caste and ethnicity. For decades there has been conflict over land and resources between the two groups at the bottom of India's complex social system -- the indigenous people of the region officially listed as scheduled tribes (ST) and non-indigenous poor known as scheduled castes (SC). [...]"


"Exodus of Christians as Killers Step Up Religious Cleansing in Iraq"
By Deborah Haynes and Tim Albone
The Times, 14 October 2008
"As the family of Iraqi Christians sat down for dinner, a group of gunmen forced their way into the house. 'Ten or 12 men swarmed into my home like bees,' the grandmother of the family told The Times. 'They ordered us to stand up and raise our hands. They put a bomb in the living room ... and forced us outside. About ten minutes later the house was blown up.' This story of violence against Christians is one of many to emerge over the past fortnight from Mosul, a flashpoint city in northern Iraq. At least 13 Christians have been killed in that period and fear of further attacks has prompted 1,200 families to flee to nearby villages, convents, monasteries and even farther afield to Iraq's Kurdish region to the north or to Baghdad in the south. The Government has pledged to curb the violence, sending 2,500 additional police to the city -- already the focus of a security operation in May that has so far failed to bring results. The extra forces were designed to assure the Christians of the Government's commitment to their security and protection, said Ali al-Dabbagh, the Government's representative. Nouri al-Maliki, the Prime Minister, has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the problem. Yesterday the UN expressed concern at the recent violence against Mosul's Christian community. Some Christians blame al-Qaeda for the attacks while others speculate that Kurdish elements might be involved as part of a political ploy to coerce minority sects into supporting Kurdish parties before forthcoming provincial elections. This allegation is strongly denied by the Kurdish authorities. [...]"

"Secrets of Iraq's Death Chamber"
By Robert Fisk
The Independent, 7 October 2008
"Like all wars, the dark, untold stories of the Iraqi conflict drain from its shattered landscape like the filthy waters of the Tigris. And still the revelations come. The Independent has learnt that secret executions are being carried out in the prisons run by Nouri al-Maliki's 'democratic' government. The hangings are carried out regularly -- from a wooden gallows in a small, cramped cell -- in Saddam Hussein's old intelligence headquarters at Kazimiyah. There is no public record of these killings in what is now called Baghdad's 'high-security detention facility' but most of the victims -- there have been hundreds since America introduced 'democracy' to Iraq -- are said to be insurgents, given the same summary justice they mete out to their own captives. The secrets of Iraq's death chambers lie mostly hidden from foreign eyes but a few brave Western souls have come forward to tell of this prison horror. The accounts provide only a glimpse into the Iraqi story, at times tantalisingly cut short, at others gloomily predictable. Those who tell it are as depressed as they are filled with hopelessness. [...]"


"The Arab Driver, Yom Kippur and How a City Was Inflamed"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 15 October 2008
"It began with an Israeli Arab motorist driving into a predominantly Jewish neighbourhood during the solemn Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. It developed into the most serious clashes between Israeli Arabs and Jews for eight years. Israeli-Arab parliamentarians warned yesterday that the arrest of the motorist, Tawfik Jamal, could undermine efforts to draw a line under four days of rioting that have threatened to break the delicate balance of community relations in this ancient and ethnically mixed port city. The riots started a week ago, after Mr. Jamal drove into the predominantly Jewish eastern district of the city of Acre on the one day of the year when Israeli Jews refrain -- by custom and not by law -- from using their cars. Mr. Jamal was pursued and surrounded by a stone-throwing crowd of angry residents and his son was slightly injured. As rumours spread that Mr. Jamal had been killed, Jewish residents say that hundreds of Arabs -- many masked -- then marched on the area, breaking the windows of Jewish shops, attacking parked cars, and throwing stones at their homes. In the subsequent three nights of violence, in which 64 people were arrested, Jewish rioters attacked and burned the homes of several Arab residents, who had fled. On Sunday, Major General Shimon Koren, northern commander of the police, said that Jewish instigators appeared to be the 'dominant elements' behind the continued rioting. A massive police presence helped to prevent further outbreaks on Sunday and Monday. Police have responded with restraint in Acre after being criticised in the Or Commission inquiry into rioting elsewhere in 2000, during which they killed 13 Arab demonstrators. Yossi Beilin, of the left-wing Meretz Party, said 'nothing has been done' to implement Or recommendations on the social and economic discrimination, which some community leaders claim have again been exposed by the latest clashes. [...]"

"W. Bank Settlers' Rage Grows"
By Linda Gradstein
The Washington Post, 15 October 2008
"Avi Ben Yakov is a soft-spoken Jewish settler who loves playing with his young children in their red-roofed home in the hills above Nablus, deep inside the West Bank. But when it comes to his Palestinian neighbors, his tone hardens. 'They will not be my neighbors if I do what I have to do, which is take them back to their lands,' he said. 'We don't want them here. Expelling them is the solution.' Ben Yakov would not say if he had been personally involved in a series of recent attacks on the nearby Palestinian village of Asira Al-Qibiliyya. But he said the violence was justified by the Israeli army's failure to protect the lives and property of West Bank settlers. Such frustration has been growing in recent months, and the result has been a pronounced rise in settler attacks on Palestinians, according to military officials, human rights groups and settler organizations. While only a small proportion of settlers are involved, the attacks reflect a deep-felt anxiety that Israel may be nearing a decision to abandon some of its West Bank settlements, much in the same way it withdrew from its Gaza Strip settlements three years ago. Settlers unwilling to leave their homes say they are ready to fight for them, even if that means battling their erstwhile ally, the Israeli army. 'In the past, only a few dozen individuals were implicated in this. Today, we're talking about several hundred people -- a very significant change,' Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, the Israeli officer responsible for security in the West Bank, recently told the Haaretz newspaper. 'An extreme incident could happen at any time. These people are conspiring against the Palestinians and against the security forces.' The human rights group B'Tselem lists 429 reported settler attacks on Palestinians this year -- an increase of 75 percent over last year. [...]"


"Montenegro, Macedonia Recognize Kosovo"
Associated Press dispatch on, 9 October 2008
"Both Montenegro and Macedonia recognized Kosovo's independence on Thursday, despite opposition from Serbia, which called the moves by its Balkan neighbors a betrayal and expelled the Montenegrin ambassador from Belgrade. The moves represent a major blow to Serbia's diplomatic efforts to maintain a claim over Kosovo, considered by Serbs to be the cradle of their Orthodox Christian religion and statehood. Montenegro and Macedonia -- both seeking membership in NATO and the European Union -- have been under pressure from the United States and some EU countries to recognize Kosovo's February declaration of independence. The two coordinated with one another in recognizing Kosovo on Thursday, Montenegro's Foreign Minister Milan Rocen said. ... Serbia had threatened unspecified retaliatory measures if the two countries recognized Kosovo, which Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said earlier would be 'a stab in the back.' After Montenegro's recognition on Thursday, he said the country's ambassador 'was no longer welcome' in Belgrade. It was immediately unclear if Serbia would expel any diplomats from Macedonia, which announced its recognition of Kosovo several hours after Montenegro. [...]"


"March Marks 1968 Mexico Killings"
By Eduardo Verdugo
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 3 October 2008
"Thousands of Mexicans marched across their nation's capital Thursday to demand justice for victims of a 1968 massacre of students by government troops -- contemporary Mexico's most traumatic atrocity and one that remains unresolved. Survivors of that bloody night 40 years ago and Mexicans who had not been born then joined forces, chanting 'Dos de octubre! No se olvide!' (Oct. 2! Don't forget!) as they converged on the downtown Zocalo plaza. 'I remember how the tanks rolled over the dead and the injured, how they attacked a number of my friends with bayonets,' said Cuauhtemoc Padilla Marroquin, a teacher who was 15 when the massacre took place. The killings -- official reports put the toll at 25 to 43 but human rights groups have long maintained that the number was closer to 350 -- started when government forces opened fire on a massive but peaceful student demonstration just days before the Olympic Games were to open in Mexico City. It was a time of political effervescence in the country and across the globe, and the Mexican government of the day was eager to conceal what had happened. [...]"


"Who Killed Anna Politkovskaya?"
By Amy Knight
New York Review of Books, 6 November 2008
"At 3:30 PM, Politkovskaya called her son, Ilya, to tell him she was on her way home. She never made it. At approximately 4 PM, she was fatally shot in the stairwell of her apartment building on Lesnaya Street. Her killer, disguising himself only with a baseball cap and apparently unconcerned by the posted warning of a security camera inside, knew the code needed to enter the building only moments before. Like many contract murderers in Moscow, he left the weapon, an Izh pistol with a silencer, at the scene of the crime. ... Politkovskaya faced the possibility of death with her characteristic stoicism: 'They say that if you talk about a disaster you can cause it to happen. That is why I never say aloud what I am most afraid of. Just so it won’t happen,' she says in the film. She believed that she had a mission to report on the 'dirty war' in Chechnya that the Putin regime had launched in the autumn of 1999. By the time of her death, Politkovskaya had made at least fifty trips to Chechnya, a savage and dangerous place that most other Russian journalists avoided. Her subjects were the innocent victims of the war -- ordinary civilians, whether Russian or Chechen, whose lives had been ruined by the conflict. She described maimed bodies, burned corpses, the destruction of entire villages. She also wrote about hapless Russian soldiers, conscripted into the army and sent off to Chechnya, where they were often treated like slaves by their commanders. They witnessed cruelties that went beyond the bounds of normal warfare and were themselves treated cruelly by the Chechens when captured. [...]"


"Moscow Court Backs Closure of WWII Katyn Massacre Case"
RIA Novosti dispatch, 14 October 2008
"The Moscow district military court ruled as lawful on Tuesday the closure of a case concerning the execution of Polish prisoners of war in western Russia's Katyn forest in 1940, a court spokesman said. Over 20,000 Polish military officers, police and civilians taken prisoner during the 1939 partitioning of Poland by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were massacred in the Katyn forest, as well as in prisons and other locations, by the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB. Anna Stavitskaya, a lawyer for the families of those killed, told RIA Novosti she would appeal the military court's ruling in a higher court. In 2005, the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office closed the 'Katyn Case' saying there was no evidence of genocide against the Polish people, and that those involved in the executions had since died. However, the relatives of the executed officers appealed the decision to close the case. The Soviet Union initially accused Germany of executing the Polish prisoners. However, in 1990 Mikhail Gorbachev officially admitted that Soviet secret police were responsible for the massacre. Russian prosecutors earlier put the number of those killed at 14,500."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Rwanda: Genocide Suspect Tried in Netherlands Court:
By James Tasamba and Agencies
The New Times (Kigali) on, 15 October 2008
"A Rwandan genocide suspect, Joseph Mpambara, went on trial Monday in the Netherlands charged with rape and murder during the 1994 Genocide of Tutsis. Prosecutors alleges that Mpambara was involved in atrocities including the massacre of Tutsis who had sought refuge at a church complex. According to the Associated Press, he is also accused of beating and hacking to death seven people dragged out of an ambulance, The crimes were allegedly committed in Mugonero in Kubuye, in Western Rwanda. The allegations against Mpambara came to light when he applied for asylum in the Netherlands in 2006. Under Dutch law he can be tried for war crimes allegedly committed in another country because he was living in Netherlands at the time of his arrest. He faces a maximum life sentence if convicted of the war crimes of murder, rape and torture. Genocide militias killed over a million people the genocide, which raged from April to July 1994. [...]"


"Tamil Tigers Accuse Sri Lanka of 'Genocidal War'"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 9 October 2008
"Separatist Tamil Tiger rebels on Thursday accused the Sri Lankan government of launching a 'genocidal war' against northern Tamils. Responding to concerns expressed by New Delhi and major political parties in India's southern Tamil Nadu state over ongoing military operations, the rebels accused the military of 'indiscriminate shelling and bombardments.' Writing to Tamil Nadu leaders, the head of the political wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), B Nadesan, alleged that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's government was 'conceited in its military aggression.' Nadesan's letter described the plight of thousands of Tamils uprooted from their homes and villages and forced to seek refuge in the open due to the 'genocidal war.' 'All the Sinhala forces and parties were giving support to the war being waged by the Rajapakse government with a wrong assumption that even Tamil Nadu would not come forward to voice for Eelam Tamils,' Nadesan added. The Tamil Tigers took up arms in 1972, demanding minority rights, and in 1976 called for a separate state named Eelam. Nadesan said the LTTE hoped the 'solidarity' extended by Indian politicians would become 'practically sound political support.' The United Nations estimates 230 000 people have been displaced in the recent wave of fighting as troops move to dismantle the LTTE's mini-state in the north. Troops wrested the east from the rebels in July 2007. [...]"


"'World Has Prolonged Darfur Conflict'", 15 October 2008
"The commander of the UN-led peacekeeping force in Darfur says mistakes by the international community have prolonged the conflict and that there is no immediate prospect for peace. General Martin Agwai's comments come as the Sudanese government is set to launch an initiative on resolving the war, hoping to defer possible international legal proceedings against President Omar al-Bashir for alleged war crimes. 'Honestly, I do not see any prospects for immediate peace in Darfur because there are too many interests,' Agwai told the BBC and AFP in an interview at the headquarters of the United Nations-African Union mission in El-Fasher. 'There is also infighting between the movements and between all the stakeholders. With that I cannot see peace coming immediately,' he added. 'When there is no agreement on even how to negotiate, then you can see it's going to be very long and that is my concern.' The first days of the conflict, which erupted in February 2003 when ethnic rebels in the western Sudanese region rose up against the Arab-led regime fighting for wealth, power and resources, has degenerated into a vastly more complex web of violence. Agwai said there were more than two dozen rebel movements in a population of six million and that the conflict was no longer simply 'African against Arab' but coloured by infighting between Africans, Arabs and rival signatories of past peace accords. He also had a strong message for the international community, whose massive engagement has failed to translate into peacekeeping boots on the ground, saying its mistakes have prolonged the conflict. [...]"

"Sudan Arrests Militant Genocide Mastermind", 14 October 2008
"Sudanese officials said they arrested the man charged by an international court with coordinating mass murders in Darfur. Officials did not reveal where janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb -- also known as Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-al-Rahman -- was being held nor say whether the government would turn him over to the international court, The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) reported. 'We are investigating him to see if he has committed crimes in Darfur or not,' government spokesman Rabie Atti told the Times. In July, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (OTCBB:HGUE), Netherlands, formally requested an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, saying he 'masterminded' massacres in Darfur and should be tried for genocide. The request touched off a concern among African and Arab leaders who said prosecution of Bashir could lead to a backlash against civilians and aid workers and lessen prospects for peace in Darfur. Analysts told the Times Kushayb's arrest might help Sudanese authorities appear to be cooperating and possibly head off the potential ICC prosecution of Bashir. [...]"

"Sudan Makes Case Abroad While Still Bombing Darfur"
By Heba Aly
The Christian Science Monitor, 9 October 2008
"During the US vice presidential debate last week, Sen. Joe Biden (D) and Gov. Sarah Palin (R) found common ground on at least one topic: Both support imposing a no-fly zone in Sudan's troubled Darfur region. Some 6,000 miles away, Darfuris fleeing their homes welcome such talk, especially after a recent spate of indiscriminate government bombings. 'The government said it was only looking for rebels. It said it didn't want to harm the people,' says villager Abdullah Isshac, who spent one week hiding in the countryside after a government attack on the village of Khazan Tungur. 'But the rebels are out in the mountains, not in the village.' To the outside world, Sudan's government sings a different tune, claiming since July -- when the International Criminal Court (ICC) sought an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide for his role in the Darfur conflict -- that the prosecution of its leader would jeopardize the peace process. But as the situation on the ground here grows worse, Darfuris are asking: 'What peace process are you talking about?' Among the many symbols of war in Darfur – sprawling five-year-old camps for displaced people and an ever-growing African Union and United Nations peacekeeping mission -- the bumpy road between Tabit and Tawila, two small villages in northern Darfur, offers a striking reminder that this conflict is still going strong. [...]"

"Sudan's Beshir Rejects 'Made Up' War Crimes Claims"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Yahoo! News, 9 October 2008
"Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir rejected the allegations of war crimes against him as 'made up' and said mass rape 'does not exist' in Darfur, in an interview broadcast here Thursday. Beshir, who is accused by the International Criminal Court's top prosecutor of genocide and crimes against humanity in the western Sudanese region of Darfur, told Channel Four News the sources for the claims were 'all hostile.' 'These allegations are not correct. Everything is fabricated and made up. Anything saying that we ordered killing people is untrue,' he said, according to a translation provided by the programme. 'The sources used by the ICC prosecutor are all hostile; they are from the rebels who revolted against the state.' Beshir also denied reports of mass rape in displaced persons camps. 'The women inside the camps are under the influence of the rebels and some are even relatives of the rebels. That's why they make these claims,' he said. Beshir said there may be individual instances of rape in Darfur, but this happened all over the world. 'Mass rape does not exist,' he said. [...]"


"Darfur Killings Soften Bush's Opposition to International Court"
By Michael Abramowitz and Colum Lynch
The Washington Post, 12 October 2008
"As his administration draws to a close, President Bush appears to be backing down from his long-held and fierce opposition to the International Criminal Court, an institution the president and his top advisers have rejected as a possible forum for frivolous cases against U.S. military and civilian officials. The shift is related to what may be an even greater imperative for Bush: bringing to justice the perpetrators of what the president has labeled 'genocide' in Darfur. Few issues have symbolized the perceived unilateralism of the Bush administration more than the president's hostility toward the ICC. But as the court weighs a formal arrest warrant against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for war crimes, the administration is emerging as an unlikely defender of the court in the face of efforts by Sudan and others to derail the prosecution. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bush's special envoy for Sudan, Richard S. Williamson, have made clear to senior Sudanese officials that Bush will resist attempts by African and Islamic countries to push the United Nations to defer prosecution of Bashir. They have signaled that the Bush administration would veto a proposed U.N. Security Council resolution deferring the prosecution by one year unless Sudan dramatically improves its humanitarian practices and takes tangible steps toward peace in Darfur. ... Supporters and opponents of the court regard the administration's change as reflecting both a greater flexibility by the administration in Bush's second term and the president's personal investment in the Darfur issue. They also say the administration considers an indictment useful leverage over Bashir, who has frustrated Bush by not delivering on promises to improve conditions in Darfur. [...]"


"A War-Crimes Trial in Florida"
By Johnny Dwyer
Time Magazine, 3 October 2008
"Monday morning, Chucky Taylor stepped into a federal courtroom wearing a gray blazer and black slacks, looking more like a museum security guard than an accused war criminal. But his trial on torture charges that opened this week will test a never before invoked federal law criminalizing torture, a statute that the Bush Administration examined closely to ensure CIA agents and other civilians involved in the War on Terrorism would not be exposed to prosecution. 'Crimes such as these will not go unanswered,' said Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher when the indictment was announced in December 2006. The Liberian government has not commented on the prosecution but has deferred to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia the accounting for crimes committed during the 14-year civil war. Human-rights groups view the prosecution as a shift toward greater accountability for human-rights violators who enter the United States. Taylor, also known as Charles Emmanuel, is the 31-year-old American son of former Liberian President Charles Taylor, currently behind bars in the Hague, where he faces 11 counts of crimes against humanity before a U.N.-sponsored court. Born in Boston and raised in the suburban sprawl of Orlando, Fla., Taylor Jr. moved to Liberia as a teen and allegedly commanded the militia called the Anti-Terrorist Unit, also known as the 'Demon Forces.' The trial, which Taylor's attorneys expect to last another seven weeks, is the first prosecution under the Extraterritorial Torture statute, a 14-year-old law dusted off by the Department of Justice to prosecute Taylor. It is also a unique experiment in international justice: all of the crimes of which Taylor stands accused -- summarily executing people, ordering beheadings, forcible sodomy, the slashing and electrocution of genitals -- were committed in far-off Liberia, in the midst of a bizarre and brutal region-wide conflict. [...]"


"McCain Linked to Group in Iran-Contra Affair"
By Pete Yost
Associated Press dispatch on, 7 October 2008
"Barack Obama has his William Ayers connection. Now John McCain may have an Iran-Contra connection. In the 1980s, McCain served on the advisory board to the U.S. chapter of an international group linked to ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The U.S. Council for World Freedom aided rebels trying to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua. That landed the group in the middle of the Iran-Contra affair and in legal trouble with the Internal Revenue Service, which revoked the charitable organization's tax exemption. The council created by retired Army Maj. Gen. John Singlaub was the U.S. chapter of the World Anti-Communist League, an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. After setting up the U.S. council, Singlaub served as the international league's chairman.... In 1983 and 1984 for example, columnist Jack Anderson linked the league's Latin American affiliate to death squad political assassinations. The Latin American affiliate was kicked out of the league. At the time, Singlaub told the columnist the Latin American affiliate had 'knowingly promoted pro-Nazi groups' and was 'virulently anti-Semitic.' 'That was putting it mildly,' Anderson wrote in a Sept. 11, 1984, column on alleged death squad murders, an article that appeared two months before the U.S. election day. Two weeks after Anderson's column, a letter from McCain addressed to Singlaub asks that the congressman's name be taken off the board because he didn't have time for the council. [...]"

"Considering the War-Crimes Trial of the Bush Administration"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 1 October 2008
"Over the weekend of September 13 and 14, a historic gathering in Andover, Massachusetts, took place and garnered little media attention. But at that two-day conference, serious plans were laid for a war-crimes trial of the Bush administration. ... Obviously, the American defendants in these proposed trials wouldn't be charged with anything on the order of the Holocaust and its many millions of ghoulishly murdered victims. But Philip Gourevitch, in his book Standard Operating Procedure (Palgrave Macmillan), points out how much the Bush administration has gotten away with so far: 'Nobody was ever charged with torture, or war crimes, or any violation of the Geneva Conventions. Nobody ever faced charges for keeping prisoners naked, or shackled, [or exposed to systematic torture] ... or for arresting thousands of civilians without direct cause and holding them indefinitely, incommunicado, in concentration-camp conditions.' The conference set about planning trials to determine the guilt of key actors in the Bush administration (and their authorizing lawyers) for having committed war crimes under both American and international law, and to determine the appropriate punishments. Among the items on the conference's agenda: 'Creating an umbrella Coordinating Committee with representatives from an increasing number of organizations involved in war crimes cases; [c]reating a Center to keep track of and organize ... relevant briefs and facts on war crimes and prosecutions of war criminals; [e]stablishing a Chief Prosecutor's Office such as Nuremberg's.' [...]"


"Pope Defends Pius XII over Holocaust"
By Frances D'Emilio
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 9 October 2008
" Pope Benedict XVI gave World War II pontiff Pius XII a push toward possible sainthood and defended his memory from accusations that he did little to spare Jews from the Holocaust. Benedict contended that Pius XII acted silently to save as many Jews as possible and expressed hope that efforts aimed at beatification would proceed smoothly. Beatification is the last formal step before sainthood. Benedict, wearing red vestments, celebrated a solemn Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Pius, who became pontiff in 1939, a few months before World War II broke out in Europe. Some writers and Jewish leaders have accused Pius of not doing enough to try to stop the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died. The Vatican has steadfastly defended Pius, contending he used behind-the-scenes diplomacy to try to help the Jews. It says he was cautious about public denunciations of Adolf Hitler's treatment of Jews for fear of worsening their plight. ... Among those who mourned his death on Oct. 9, 1958, Benedict said, was the Israeli foreign minister at the time, Golda Meir, who praised him for working on behalf of the war's victims. Church officials have begun efforts that could lead to Pius' beatification, but they say that would be years away. [...]"


"Aid Agencies: 5m Face Starvation in Zimbabwe"
By Jan Raath
The Times, 14 October 2008
"Death is stalking Zimbabwe’s children, as a potentially catastrophic famine gathers momentum. Aid agencies say that half the population, about five million people, face starvation, two-thirds of children are out of school and water shortages have led to deadly cholera outbreaks. The Times went on a 600-mile (965km)journey through the eastern province of Manicaland and discovered a country whose reserves of food are exhausted and where the diseases of hunger -- kwashiorkor, marasmus and pellagra -- are appearing to a degree never seen in the country before. Emaciated children are dying in hospitals, many more are being turned away to die at home. At one Manicaland hospital a doctor said that they were getting more cases of hunger-related diseases than ever before. 'Half of the admissions end up in the mortuary,' the doctor said. The situation is the same across the country, including urban areas. 'In the 32 years I have worked in Zimbabwe as a paediatrician I have never known a more serious situation,' said Greg Powell, chairman of the Zimbabwe Child Protection Society. 'We can predict an exponential increase in cases of kwashiorkor and malnutrition over the next six months.' Six weeks ago President Mugabe relaxed partially a three-month-old ban on food distribution by aid agencies but restrictive regulations still handicap the delivery of relief severely. [...]"

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