Sunday, October 18, 2009

NOW AVAILABLE: Evoking Genocide: Scholars and Activists Describe the Works That Shaped Their Lives, edited by Adam Jones (The Key Publishing House Inc., 2009; 309 pp., US $32.99 pbk). "Evoking Genocide comprises sixty brief essays, fascinatingly diverse, each deploying a particular textual or visual touchstone in an effort to reveal the author's struggle to confront the ultimate crime. The best of them bring us powerfully close to the singular agony that comes from taking genocide seriously, from refusing to turn away from evil even if it is unfathomable." (Mia Farrow, advocate and actor)

Genocide Studies Media File
October 4 - 18, 2009

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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"Folk Legend Mercedes Sosa Dies"
The Telegraph, 5 October 2009
"The Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, who fought South America's dictators with her voice and became a giant of contemporary Latin American music, died on Sunday aged 74. Sosa had been in intensive care in a hospital for days with kidney problems. Her body was taken to the congress building in Buenos Aires on Sunday afternoon and her remains were to be cremated on Monday, local media reported. Known affectionately as La Negra -- 'the Black One' due to her dark hair and skin -- Sosa was dubbed 'the voice of the silent majority' for championing the poor and fighting for political freedom. Her version of Violeta Parra's 'Gracias a la Vida' ('Thanks to Life') became an anthem for leftists around the world in the 1970s and 1980s when she was forced into exile and her recordings were banned. 'Her undisputed talent, her honesty and her profound convictions leave a great legacy to future generations,' her family said in the statement posted on her website. The breadth of her powerful voice earned her plaudits abroad and popularity at home and she cut a striking figure with her long hair and trademark ponchos at live shows into her 70s. In the turbulent 1960s and 1970s Sosa was a key exponent of the highly politicised Nuevo Cancionero (New Song) movement, which sought to take folk music back to its roots. She also was a member of the Communist Party and her political sympathies attracted attention from the authorities during Argentina's bloody 1976-83 dictatorship, when up to 30,000 people were killed in a crackdown on leftist dissent. State censors banned her songs and she fled to Europe in 1979 after being arrested in the middle of a concert along with the entire audience in the university city of La Plata. She frequently asserted herself as a woman of the left but maintained that her only true vocation was singing. ... Sosa continued singing up until this year and remained hugely popular, outselling popular teen artists and reggaeton singers in the top charts. [...]"
[n.b. RIP to a great voice and a great activist.]


"Ending the Debate on an Armenian Genocide"
By Gwynne Dyer, 15 October 2009
"The first great massacre of the 20th century happened in eastern Anatolia 94 years ago. Armenians all over the world insist that their ancestors who died in those events were the victims of a deliberate genocide, and that there can be no reconciliation with the Turks until they admit their guilt. But now the Armenians batck home have made a deal. On October 10, the Turkish and Armenian foreign ministers signed an accord in Zurich that reopens the border between the two countries -- closed since 1993 -- and created a joint historical commission to determine what actually happened in 1915. It is a triumph for reason and moderation, so the nationalists in both countries attacked it at once. The most anguished protests came from the Armenian diaspora -- eight million people living mainly in the United States, France, Russia, Iran and Lebanon. There are only three million people living in Armenia itself, and remittances from the diaspora are twice as large as the country's entire budget, so the views of overseas Armenians matter. Unfortunately, their views are quite different from those of the people who actually live in Armenia. For Armenians abroad, making the Turks admit that they planned and carried out a genocide is supremely important. Indeed, it has become a core part of their identity. For most of those who are still in Armenia, getting the Turkish border re-opened is a higher priority. Their poverty and isolation are so great that a quarter of the population has emigrated since the border was closed 16 years ago, and trade with their relatively rich neighbour to the west would help to staunch the flow. Moreover, the agreement does not require Armenia to give back the Armenian-populated parts of Azerbaijan, its neighbour to the east. Armenia’s conquest of those lands in 1992-94 was why Turkey closed the border in the first place (many Turks see the Turkic-speaking Azeris as their 'little brothers'), so in practical terms, Armenian president Serge Sarkisian has got a very good deal. The communities of the diaspora, however, believe the Armenian government has sold them out on the genocide issue. Their remittances are crucial to Armenia, so President Serge Sarkisian has spent the past weeks travelling the world, trying to calm their fury. In the end, he will probably succeed, if only because they have nowhere else to go. [...]"

"IAGS: Armenian Genocide Recognition Must Be Starting Point of Historical Commission, Not One of Its Possible Conclusions"
PanARMENIAN.Net, 14 October 2009
"William Schabas, the president of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), addressed an open letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, in which he said that 'acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide must be the starting point of any "impartial historical commission," not one of its possible conclusions.' 'The proposed protocols between Armenia and Turkey call for an "impartial historical commission" to investigate what the world knows as the Armenian Genocide of 1915. As the leading scholarly organization engaged in the study of genocide, we welcome continued investigation that will enhance our understanding of the 1915 massacres. However, we are extremely wary of any call for allegedly impartial research into what are clearly established historical facts. The world would not accept an inquiry into the truth of the Nazi Holocaust, or the extermination of the Tutsi in Rwanda, and nor can it do so with the genocide of the Armenians,' Mr. Schabas said."

"Turkey and Armenia: Reconciling History"
The Los Angeles Times (Editorial), 13 October 2009
"More than a million Armenians were massacred in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, from 1915 to 1918. This bloody chapter of World War I should be recognized as genocide and remembered, not only to honor the victims but for its lessons to future generations. It should not, however, prevent Turkey and Armenia from approving the historic accords signed Saturday in Zurich to restore diplomatic ties and open their shared border. Nor should Armenia's fraught relationship with neighboring Azerbaijan -- Turkey's ally -- derail a rapprochement. The Armenian and Turkish parliaments must ratify the agreements hammered out with the help of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton because reconciliation is in the interests of both nations. The slaughter is a painful issue for Armenians, particularly so for the diaspora that has fought unsuccessfully for official Turkish and U.S. recognition of the genocide. That is understandable, and they should continue pressing Turkey for an accurate public accounting. Some Armenians fear that the commission to be established under the accords for an 'impartial' examination of the massacre is simply a means for Turkey to continue denying history. We also are concerned about this part of the agreement, but we hope in the end it will offer an opportunity for the two sides to face the issue together. Turkey, meanwhile, should not condition ratification of the accord to open its border on an Armenian withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of Azerbaijan inhabited largely by ethnic Armenians and occupied by Armenia since 1993. In fact, a thaw in bilateral relations between Turkey and Armenia should make it easier to resolve the issue between Armenia and Azerbaijan. If Armenia feels more secure, it is likely to be more flexible. As in all negotiations, both sides must give on important issues if they are to alter the stasis. [...]"

"Genocide Forgotten: Armenians Horrified by Treaty with Turkey"
By Robert Fisk
The Independent, 8 October 2009
"In the autumn of 1915, an Austrian engineer called Litzmayer, who was helping build the Constantinople-Baghdad railway, saw what he thought was a large Turkish army heading for Mesopotamia. But as the crowd came closer, he realised it was a huge caravan of women, moving forward under the supervision of soldiers. The 40,000 or so women were all Armenians, separated from their men -- most of whom had already had their throats cut by Turkish gendarmerie -- and deported on a genocidal death march during which up to 1.5 million Armenians died. Subjected to constant rape and beatings, some had already swallowed poison on their way from their homes in Erzerum, Serena, Sivas, Bitlis and other cities in Turkish western Armenia. 'Some of them,' Bishop Grigoris Balakian, one of Litzmayer's contemporaries, recorded, 'had been driven to such a state that they were mere skeletons enveloped in rags, with skin that had turned leathery, burned from the sun, cold, and wind. Many pregnant women, having become numb, had left their newborns on the side of the road as a protest against mankind and God.' Every year, new evidence emerges about this mass ethnic cleansing, the first holocaust of the last century; and every year, Turkey denies that it ever committed genocide. Yet on Saturday -- to the horror of millions of descendants of Armenian survivors -- the President of Armenia, Serg Sarkissian, plans to agree to a protocol with Turkey to re-open diplomatic relations, which should allow for new trade concessions and oil interests. And he proposes to do this without honouring his most important promise to Armenians abroad -- to demand that Turkey admit it carried out the Armenian genocide in 1915. In Beirut yesterday, outside Mr. Sarkissian's hotel, thousands of Armenians protested against this trade-for-denial treaty. 'We will not forget,' their banners read. 'Armenian history is not for sale.' They called the President a traitor. 'Why should our million and a half martyrs be put up for sale?' one of them asked. 'And what about our Armenian lands in Turkey, the homes our grandparents left behind? Sarkissian is selling them too.' [...]"


"Srebrenica: The Fight for Justice"
By Duncan Staff
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 17 October 2009
"Hasan Nuhanovic has the eyes of a man who has seen too much. He spends his evenings and weekends hunting for the remains of his murdered family. 'There's no closure -- that can come only when we die,' he says. 'But I need to bury them.' Nuhanovic's father Ibro, mother Nasiha and 18-year-old brother Muhamed were killed in the Srebrenica massacre, Europe's largest genocidal act since World War II. It is at the heart of the case against the former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, whose trial starts next week in The Hague. On July 11 1995 Karadzic's general, Ratko Mladic, attacked the United Nations safe haven of Srebrenica, which was being guarded by a Dutch garrison. Hasan's family were among the at least 6,000 men, women and children who sought refuge in the Dutch military base. Two days later the Dutch, terrified for their own lives, handed the refugees over to the Serbs. Nuhanovic survived only because Mladic needed a skilled interpreter to translate his orders to the Dutch UN commander, Colonel Tom Karremans. He agreed to take me to the Dutch base at Srebrenica and to tell me what happened there. We met outside a disused battery factory in the village of Potocari, close to Srebrenica. Its vast, empty production hall echoed to the sound of a lumber business's rotary saws. 'This space was full,' Nuhanovic told me, gesturing to the bullet-riddled walls. 'There were 6000 people. They were told to sit down by the Dutch soldiers. They weren't allowed to go to the toilet -- so they did everything here. The temperature was 35C. The place stank so much you almost couldn't breathe.' Outside, the Serbs waited for the Dutch to cave in. Then Hasan was told to climb on to an army truck and address the crowd. 'They handed me a megaphone and said, "Shout to the people to start leaving the base" -- but the Dutch would not tell them what was waiting outside.' [...]"

"Bosnian Serb Officer Found Guilty of Genocide"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Malaysian Mirror, 17 October 2009
"A former Bosnian Serb officer was found guilty of genocide on Friday and sentenced to 30 years in prison for his part in the killing of Bosnian Muslim civilians in Srebrenica in July 1995. Milorad Trbic was found 'guilty of genocide, for his participation in a joint criminal enterprise which consisted of the common purpose and plan to capture, detain, summarily execute and bury all able-bodied Bosniak (Muslim) males from the Srebrenica enclave,' the court said in a statement. 'Moreover, the Court found that the Accused perpetrated these acts with genocidal intent,' it added. Serb forces took control of Srebrenica near the end of Bosnia's 1992-1995 war before summarily killing around 8,000 Muslim men and boys within a few days. At the time, the 51-year-old former army captain served in the area with the Zvornik Brigade of the Bosnian Serb army. The court found him guilty of selecting sites where Bosnian Muslim males from Srebrenica were detained and executed en masse. Trbic was also involved in the exhumation and reburial of victims of the mass executions during which bodies were dismembered and body parts reburied in different mass graves. 'These actions have considerably lengthened the time needed to identify the bodies and has extended the suffering and grief of the victims' families,' the court said. The Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity in Europe since World War II, has been classified as an act of genocide by the International Court of Justice and the UN war crimes tribunal, both based in The Hague. Trbic was originally indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) but his case was transferred to the Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2007. Local Bosnian authorities are dealing with low-profile war crime cases, while the ICTY is tasked with hearing those involving top wartime officials. In July 2008 Bosnia's war crimes court sentenced seven Serbs to up to 42 years in jail for committing genocide during the Srebrenica massacre. The trial before the ICTY of the Srebrenica massacre's alleged mastermind, Bosnian Serb war-time leader Radovan Karadzic, is expected to start on October 26. [...]"


"Rape a Weapon of War in Congo, Activists Say"
By George Lerner, 17 October 2009
"Rape has turned into a weapon of war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the number of attacks on women having grown threefold over the past few years, human rights activists said Friday. Anneke van Woudenberg, senior researcher with Human Rights Watch, told Christiane Amanpour that 200,000 women and girls have been raped in Eastern Congo since 1998, and the condition of women has become more dire as the Congolese army has pressed a military campaign against armed groups in the countryside. 'Rape is being used as a weapon of war in eastern Congo. So we notice and we have documented that when armed groups walk into town, they will rape the women and girls, sometimes publicly, sometimes privately, in order to punish the local population,' she said. 'It's the easiest way to terrorize a community.' Congo has witnessed one of the worst humanitarian crises since World War II, with a death toll estimated at more than 5 million. Most of the dead have come not from direct violence, but the consequences of the fighting: disease and starvation. While the war formally ended six years ago, fighting persists in eastern Congo, and women are paying a high price. 'One of the other sad realities is that the majority of those who are raped are adolescent girls, 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds. Their lives are often ruined by this. And I think we've got to take more seriously -- protection of civilians is not just protecting them from death. It's protecting them from rape,' van Woudenberg said. There have also been reports of members of the Congolese army, particularly high ranking officers, attacking women. In May, the United Nations handed over the names of five top military officers accused of rape. Two of the senior officers are being detained in the capital of Kinshasa and the three others must report to authorities under close observation. They are awaiting trial. Still more must be done, aid groups say, starting with the establishment of a special court made up of Congolese and international judges and prosecutors to investigate rape allegations. [...]"

"Aid Groups are Little Match for Congo Brutality, Doctors Say", 14 October 2009
"Humanitarian organizations have been unable to meet the 'massive needs' of civilians facing brutal attacks in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, a medical aid group said Wednesday. Hundreds of thousands of Congolese have been displaced by years of violence in the region. Extreme violence against civilians is spreading from Haut-Uele into Bas-Uele, as well as into neighboring southern Sudan and eastern Central African Republic, according to the international humanitarian organization Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). The civilian population in that region has been the target of attacks by the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army, known as LRA, and the Ugandan and Congolese offensive against the LRA, the doctors organization said in a news release. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled. The organization said it has more than 150 people working in the Haut-Uele and Bas-Uele districts, where it has provided help to about 16,000 displaced people and treated thousands of patients. 'The local population is the target of violence: murder, kidnapping and sexual abuse,' said Luis Encinas, coordinator of Medecins Sans Frontieres operations in Central Africa. 'We are talking about tactics of violence aimed at instilling fear in the people. Our patients have told us the most brutal stories -- about children who are forced to kill their parents and people burnt alive inside their homes.' To the south, a joint operation has been waged since January by the Congolese army and Rwandan troops against the Rwandan Hutu militia Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda. On Tuesday, 84 humanitarian and human rights groups in the Congo Advocacy Coalition spoke out against the operation in eastern Congo, known as Kimia II and backed by U.N. peacekeepers since March. The operation has resulted in an 'unacceptable cost' for the civilian population, the coalition said. Since the action began, more than 1,000 civilians have been killed and 7,000 women and girls have been raped, the coalition said. Some of the militia leaders participated in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, member groups said in a report on the Human Rights Watch Web site. Sexual violence has grown increasingly brutal in the Kimia II operation, one observer said. 'We're seeing more cases of mutilation, extreme violence and torture in sexual violence cases against women and girls, and many more of the victims are children,' said Immaculee Birhaheka of Promotion et Appui aux Initiatives Feminines (Promotion and Support of Women's Initiatives). [...]"


"Patterns of Genocide"
By James Traub
The New York Times, 15 October 2009
"Evil repels analysis. Poets from the time of Homer have sung of war, but only a monster sings of atrocities. So, too, with journalism and scholarship. We are admonished not to ascribe rational motives to Osama bin Laden or Hitler, or to their followers. To admit of motives is to reduce the moral to the psychological, and thus to the comprehensible, and thus perhaps to the acceptable. Our understanding of unspeakable acts is limited on the one hand to the irreducible moral fact of evil, and on the other to the dynamics of mob psychology -- of mass lunacy. But to exclude mass murder from the realm of conscious action offers an exculpation of its own, both to the killers and to ourselves -- for how could we, ordinary folk who cherish life, descend to such madness? In this magisterial and profoundly disturbing 'natural history' of mass murder, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen calls for an end to such willful blindness. As he did in his celebrated and controversial 'Hitler's Willing Executioners,' Goldhagen insists that even the worst atrocities originate with, and are then propelled by, a series of quite conscious calculations by followers as much as by leaders. 'We must stop detaching mass elimination and its mass-murder variant from our understanding of politics,' Goldhagen writes. 'Eliminationist politics, like the politics of war, is a politics of purposive acts to achieve political outcomes, often of ultimate ends and often of desired power redistribution.' 'Worse Than War' is, in effect, 'Everyone's Willing Executioners.' Goldhagen makes short work of Hannah Arendt's claim that the Nazi machine was the supreme example of a bureaucracy at work, and thus of 'the banality of evil.' Not only was Adolf Eichmann, Arendt's chief subject, a very conscious and proud exterminator, but the millions who have carried out the legwork of murder, whether German civilians or Rwandan Hutus, have not functioned as automatons. 'Their deeds' real character is not opaque to them,' Goldhagen writes. 'They slaughter people, slaughter children, often face-to-face, by shooting them at point-blank range, or by hacking or beating them to death, bespattering themselves with their victims' blood, bone and brain matter.' We place the Holocaust outside of history; Goldhagen embeds it in the larger, recurring pattern of genocidal killing. While noting that the Nazis were unique in the variety of victims they attacked and the means of killing they adopted, Goldhagen points out that the institutions we associate with the Holocaust -- the camps, the death marches, the mobile killing squads -- recur in Stalin's Russia and Mao's China, in colonial Kenya and Guatemala. Atrocities resemble one another; their differences are shaped by the perpetrators’ ideology, their specific fantasy of a purified world, their view of the victims they seek to eradicate. [...]"


"Hitler Had Fillings Made from Gold Torn from Mouths of Jews"
By David Wroe
The Telegraph, 8 October 2009
"Adolf Hitler had dental fillings made from gold torn from the mouths of Jews in concentration camps, a new book on the Führer claims. The theory is based on a newly discovered document that shows Hitler's dentist had about 11lbs of dental gold from the concentration camps at his disposal for the treatment of senior Nazis. 'The most likely place the gold came from is from the supply Blaschke had from the concentration camps,' Dr. Eberle told the Daily Telegraph. 'Most of this came from Jews. Gold from other sources was very hard to find in Germany and that is why I believe that Hitler's fillings came from Jewish victims of the Nazis.' It is well established that the Nazis removed gold teeth and fillings from their concentration camp victims. The new document is a 1941 letter from one of Blaschke's underlings to the office of SS commander Heinrich Himmler. It states that Blaschke had 50 kilograms of dental gold enough to last for years. Blaschke was also the personal dentist to Luftwaffe commander Hermann Göring and other senior Nazis. The new book, titled Was Hitler Ill?, and coauthored by Hans-Joachim Neumann, a professor of medicine at Berlin's Charité University, also dismisses popular rumours about Hitler: that he may have had Jewish ancestry, that he was beaten by his father, and that he had a long term drug addiction. [...]"


"More than 85,000 Iraqis Killed in War Violence, Ministry Says"
By Mohammed Tawfeeq and Yousif Bassil, 15 October 2009
"The bombings, shootings and fighting across Iraq in nearly five years of war have left more than 85,000 Iraqis dead, a government ministry said in a report. The Iraqi Human Rights Ministry said 85,694 people were killed from 2004 to October 31, 2008, in the violence across the country. There were 147,195 people wounded during the same period. The figures include civilians and Iraqi security forces but not insurgents and militias. The review is considered the first official report of its kind by the Iraqi government since the war began. The ministry released the report Tuesday, and it has been posted on its Web site. The death toll is Iraq has been a hot-button issue. Officials and other reports have said the toll is higher, and there has been disagreement about the scope of the casualties. A ministry official told CNN that those numbers might be conservative, but they are the confirmed and documented numbers. 'Keep in your mind that there are a lot of missing people who we believe that they are dead, but can not confirm it. There are many people who have died and their families buried them without reporting it,' the official said. The war began in March 2003 with the US-led invasion. But the official said that the causalities from 2003 are not documented because the governmental institutes were not fully operating, so there were no records from that period. The independent Iraq Body Count project reports as many as 102,071 civilian deaths from the war's beginning through August 13, 2009. The IBC's Web site says its count includes only documented deaths and the actual number is probably higher. [...]"


"African Children Denounced As 'Witches' By Christian Pastors"
By Katharine Houreld
Associated Press dispatch in The Huffington Post, 18 October 2009
"The nine-year-old boy lay on a bloodstained hospital sheet crawling with ants, staring blindly at the wall. His family pastor had accused him of being a witch, and his father then tried to force acid down his throat as an exorcism. It spilled as he struggled, burning away his face and eyes. The emaciated boy barely had strength left to whisper the name of the church that had denounced him -- Mount Zion Lighthouse. A month later, he died. Nwanaokwo Edet was one of an increasing number of children in Africa accused of witchcraft by pastors and then tortured or killed, often by family members. Pastors were involved in half of 200 cases of 'witch children' reviewed by the AP, and 13 churches were named in the case files. Some of the churches involved are renegade local branches of international franchises. Their parishioners take literally the Biblical exhortation, 'Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.' 'It is an outrage what they are allowing to take place in the name of Christianity,' said Gary Foxcroft, head of nonprofit Stepping Stones Nigeria. For their part, the families are often extremely poor, and sometimes even relieved to have one less mouth to feed. Poverty, conflict and poor education lay the foundation for accusations, which are then triggered by the death of a relative, the loss of a job or the denunciation of a pastor on the make, said Martin Dawes, a spokesman for the United Nations Children's Fund. 'When communities come under pressure, they look for scapegoats,' he said. 'It plays into traditional beliefs that someone is responsible for a negative change ... and children are defenseless.' [...]"


"UN Rights Council Criticizes Israel over Gaza"
By Laura MacInnis
Reuters dispatch, 16 October 2009
"The UN Human Rights Council on Friday endorsed a UN report that accused Israel of war crimes in Gaza, passing a resolution that singled it out for censure without referring to wrongdoing by Hamas. The report by South African jurist Richard Goldstone accuses both sides of war crimes in Gaza but is most critical of the Jewish state. Up to 1,387 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed in the war last December and January. In a special session proposed by the Palestinians, 25 states including China and Russia endorsed the resolution. Six including the United States voted against, and 11 abstained. Four, including France and Britain, did not vote. Palestinian officials promptly called for further U.N. inquiries into Israel's actions. 'The international community should make sure that the decision will become a precedent that will ensure the protection of the Palestinian people from any aggression,' said Nabil Abu Rdaineh, aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said the decision was a victory for the Palestinian people and for rights and justice. 'We tell all the countries in the world and the international community to try Israel and its political, security and military leadership for their crimes against our people, in domestic and international courts,' Meshaal told al-Jazeera television. But Israel, which has rejected the charges in the report, said the vote would impair the Middle East peace process. ... The resolution endorsed all Goldstone's recommendations regarding Israel, including that the war crimes issue should be referred to the U.N. Security Council if the two sides failed to conduct credible domestic investigations with six months, and possibly then the International Criminal Court. It did not mention Hamas, which was also criticized by Goldstone. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown sent a joint letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday urging him to initiate an 'independent and transparent' inquiry into the conflict. They also called for a stop to any expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and demanded greater access to Gaza, especially for humanitarian convoys, saying such moves would help relaunch the peace process. [...]"

"Hamas to Examine Alleged War Crimes"
By Michael Jansen
Irish Times, 16 October 2009
"The Hamas government in Gaza yesterday pledged to carry out investigations into alleged war crimes by the Palestinian side identified in the Goldstone report on Israel's war on Gaza. 'Although we do not agree with certain aspects of this report, we intend to act on [Mr Justice Richard Goldstone's] recommendation and carry out our own investigation into any alleged crimes committed by the resistance movements in Gaza,' the foreign ministry said. It welcomed debate in the UN Human Rights Council, which commissioned the report, and reiterated its view that 'Judge Goldstone undertook his mission without bias and in a genuine attempt to establish the facts of what happened in Gaza. We will report our findings to Judge Goldstone in due course.' Hamas co-operated with the Goldstone mission when it visited Gaza. The Israeli government, which did not allow the mission to enter Israel, rejects the report and refuses to conduct an investigation of war crimes allegations. Retired Irish colonel Desmond Travers, a member of the mission, told al-Jazeera that Palestinian fighters committed war crimes by firing missiles indiscriminately at Israeli civilians while Israel used battlefield weapons and massive force in densely populated Gaza. The death toll was three Israeli civilians and 10 soldiers and 1,400 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians. [...]"

"Abbas Faces More Anger over UN War Crimes Report"
AP dispatch on Yahoo! News, 7 October 2009
"In five turbulent years in office, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has never faced as much outrage as over his decision to suspend efforts to get Israeli officials put on trial for war crimes in Gaza. On Wednesday, Gaza professors threw shoes at his defaced image and West Bank commentators called for his resignation, the latest signs Abbas may have miscalculated in bowing to what Palestinian officials say was intense U.S. pressure. Abbas is unlikely to be forced out of office because he enjoys strong Western support and has ruled the West Bank without challenge since his Islamic militant Hamas rivals drove him out of Gaza in 2007. However, the scandal could cause lasting harm to the 74-year-old Palestinian leader's standing with voters and his ability to negotiate with Israel. In the short term, the U.S. is pushing for a quick resumption of Mideast peace talks, but gaps remain wide on what it takes to get back to the table. A weakened Abbas may not be in a position to make concessions when President Barack Obama's special Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, returns to the region this week. 'This is the worst position that Abbas has found himself in since he was elected president,' said Hani al-Masri, a West Bank commentator. At the center of the uproar is a 575-page U.N. report about Israel's three-week war in Gaza last winter, which alleges that both Israel and Hamas committed war crimes, something both sides deny. Last week, Abbas withdrew Palestinian support for a vote in the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva to have the report sent to the U.N. General Assembly for possible action -- the first of many steps toward possibly establishing war crimes tribunals. With the Palestinians out of the picture, the council set the report aside for six months. Abbas made the decision under heavy U.S. pressure, Palestinian and Israeli officials have said. U.S. officials told Palestinian leaders that a war crimes debate would complicate efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, according to participants in the meetings. The anger over Abbas' decision was intense because many Palestinians felt he chose not to pursue a rare opportunity to win justice for Gaza's war victims, said Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian legislator. 'Finally, there was a moment, in front of the international community, to hold Israel accountable,' Barghouti said. 'What he (Abbas) did, or his government did, it's now perceived that they gave Israel the leeway to escape from that.' Nearly 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the war, including hundreds of civilians, along with 13 Israelis. Israel launched the war to end years of Hamas rocket fire on Israeli border towns.... Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Abbas adviser, said Wednesday that the Palestinian leadership had erred, the first such acknowledgment after six days of escalating protests. 'What happened is a mistake, but (it) can be repaired,' Abed Rabbo, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told the Voice of Palestine radio in a taped statement. 'We have the courage to admit there was a mistake.' [...]"

"UN to Teach Children about Holocaust in Gaza Schools"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 5 October 2009
"The United Nations' refugee agency is planning to include the Holocaust in a new human-rights curriculum for pupils in its Gaza secondary schools despite strident opposition to the idea from within Hamas. John Ging, the UN Relief and Works Agency's (UNRWA) director of operations in Gaza, told The Independent that he was 'confident and determined' that the Holocaust would feature for the first time in a wide-ranging curriculum that is being drafted. Mr. Ging, a passionate advocate for Palestinian civilians in Gaza who has recently faced increasingly personal criticism and even threats by elements in the Islamic faction, added: 'No human-rights curriculum is complete without the inclusion of the facts of the Holocaust, and its lessons.' The draft, to be completed within weeks and then put out for consultation with parents and the public, is built on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was agreed by the UN General Assembly in 1948 in the shadow of what it called the 'barbarous acts' committed by the Nazis during the Second World War. The one-time Irish Army officer has long been an outspoken critic of Israeli policy towards Gaza, including the conduct of last winter's lethal military offensive and what he described more than once in his interview as the 'illegal siege.'Mr. Ging said the curriculum would explain the genesis, and 'inculcate the values' of the Universal Declaration which stipulates that 'everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.' He pointed out that the UN General Assembly in 2005 unanimously urged 'all countries to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to children so that we learn from history, so that we don't repeat history.' Although the UNRWA director strongly emphasised that the de facto Hamas government had not sought to interfere with the agency – which is responsible for the welfare of some 1 million Gaza refugees -- other figures in the movement have angrily condemned the idea of including the Holocaust in any part of the curriculum. Yunis al Astal, a religious leader and a Hamas member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said last month that it would be 'marketing a lie' and a 'war crime' to do so. Mr. Ging said the new curriculum would also include 'tangible examples' of other 'blights and stains in human history.' ... The last event on his list was the Palestinians' "day of catastrophe", the flight or forced expulsion of some 700,000 refugees in the 1948 war which saw the foundation of Israel. He continued: 'This is also part of the frustration here. There are so many global tragedies and travesties that are learned worldwide. Who learns about the Nakba? Again [that is] a very reasonable and legitimate demand but it's not 'either/or'; it's both.' [...]"


"Peru Indian Tribes Join Forces to Fight Off Amazon Sale to Oil Companies"
By Ramita Navai
The Times, 9 October 2009
"They emerged from the thick, green jungle clenching their spears: a long file of barefoot chiefs and elders, their faces painted with their tribal markings and crowns of red, blue and yellow parrot feathers. They had been summoned by the chief of Washintsa village for a meeting to discuss an oil company’s efforts to buy the rights to their land. Most had travelled for hours, padding silently through the dark undergrowth. They came from Achuar Indian communities scattered along the Pastaza River, one of the most remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon near the border with Ecuador. These men are part of a growing resistance movement crystallising deep in the jungles of Peru. For the first time isolated indigenous groups are uniting to fight the Government's plans to auction off 75 per cent of the Amazon -- which accounts for nearly two thirds of the country's territory -- to oil, gas and mining companies. They oppose 11 decrees issued by President García, under special legislative powers granted to him by the Peruvian Congress, to enact a free trade agreement with the US. These would allow companies to bypass indigenous communities to obtain permits for exploration and extraction of natural resources, logging and the building of hydroelectric dams. Indigenous leaders say that the laws will affect more than 50 Amazonian nations representing hundreds of thousands of Indians. One by one the men step forward and deliver angry, defiant messages. 'If an oil company tries to come here, we will block its path and block the rivers. We will not let them in and we will take strong action,' Jempe Wasum Kukush, a local leader, said. Another, Tayajin Shuwi Peas, warns: 'We are not scared and we will fight to the death over this.' Some groups have already begun the battle. Protests have turned deadly, with scores of clashes and rallies erupting across the country this year. Oil operations and airports were besieged and shut down, culminating in a mass demonstration of more than 3,000 Indians, mainly from the Awajun tribe, blockading a road in the sweltering jungle town of Bagua in June. More than 30 people were killed, including 20 policemen, after special forces, airlifted to the scene, opened fire on the protesters. Fearing more violence and faced with public outrage, the Government was forced to revoke two of the most contentious decrees. The Prime Minster resigned and President García also admitted to a series of errors in the handling of the incident. [...]"


"Tories' EU Ally: Poland Should Not Apologise for Killing Jews"
By Michael Savage
The Independent, 9 October 2009
"The [UK] Conservatives have faced renewed criticism over their decision to join a right-wing alliance in Europe after its Polish leader said his country should not have apologised for a massacre of hundreds of Jews. Michal Kaminski, the leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group (ECR), said he remained opposed to the 2001 apology his country's then president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, made for the killings, which were carried out by Polish inhabitants of the town of Jedwabne in July 1941. He said it was unfair to put the massacre 'on the same level as the Nazi policy.' His comments will reignite the row over David Cameron's decision to leave the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), which included the parties of Nicloas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, and join a new, fiercely anti-federalist group, led by Mr. Kaminski. Mr. Cameron made the commitment to win the votes of Tory Eurosceptics during his 2005 leadership campaign. Commenting on the Jedwabne massacre in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Mr. Kaminski said: 'I think that it's unfair comparing it with a Nazi crime and putting it on the same level as the Nazi policy.' He also likened the atrocity to Jewish collaboration with the Soviet Union. 'If you are asking the Polish nation to apologise for the crime ... in Jedwabne, you would require the whole Jewish nation to apologise for what some Jewish Communists did in eastern Poland,' he said. However, he strongly denied allegations of having a neo-Nazi past and anti-Semitic beliefs. 'Being an anti-Semite is something which is contradictory to all my beliefs, starting with my religious beliefs as a Christian and ending with my political conservative views,' he said. Denis McShane, the Labour MP and former Europe Minister, demanded that Mr. Cameron rethink his alliance with Mr. Kaminski immediately. "Kaminski's defence of his outrageous position on the mass slaughter of Jews in Jedwabne in July 1941 is a disgrace,' he said. 'It is beyond belief that David Cameron is seeking to associate the Conservative Party with a man who sees no reason to say sorry for the mass killing of hundreds of Jews in wartime Poland, whether by Nazis or Polish anti-Semites. Kaminski stands condemned by his own mouth.' A senior Labour source added: 'It calls into question David Cameron's judgement when he moves away from the likes of Merkel and Sarkozy and closer to the likes of Kaminski.' [...]"


"Russia's Punishment of Historians a Symptom of 'Creeping Re-Stalinisation'"
By Alexander Osipovich
The Telegraph, 16 October 2009
"When the police stopped Mikhail Suprun's car last month, he did not expect to be questioned about his research into mass deportations that took place in Russia more than six decades ago. But Suprun, a history professor in the northern Russian city of Arkhangelsk, discovered that his research into the 1940s deportations had drawn the interest of the FSB, the successor agency to the Soviet-era KGB. Briefly detained by the FSB, Suprun was told he was suspected of illegally publishing private information -- a charge he calls 'absurd.' Agents also searched his apartment and seized his computer and personal archive, which held a trove of information about victims of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and his brutal Gulag prison system. 'Everything was taken away. All the things I've been working on for the past 10 years were on my computer and hard drives,' Suprun said from Arkhangelsk, where he is an expert on local Stalin-era history. Some Russian historians fear that probing too far into the Stalin era may incur the wrath of today's authorities, who have made the positive portrayal of Soviet history part of their political agenda. Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union for nearly three decades until his death in 1953, is deeply controversial and even his defenders admit he sent millions of people to the Gulag, where many of them died. But he also oversaw the Soviet struggle against Nazi Germany, which cost the lives of millions of Soviet citizens, and to many Russians he is overwhelmingly associated with their country's victory in World War II. The Kremlin has made reverence of the Soviet victory a major part of efforts to boost patriotism among Russians in recent years. Critics say the government has gone too far by taking steps to polish Stalin's image, such as a 2007 decision approving the use of a school textbook that praised his management style as 'efficient.' The public seems increasingly sympathetic: last year Stalin took third place in a televised competition in which viewers voted for the greatest Russian in history. 'This is all part of a creeping re-Stalinisation, the return of his persona as a figure who is depicted not just in dark colours,' said Irina Shcherbakova, a historian who researches the Gulag for the Memorial human rights group. [...]"

"Stalin's Grandson Loses Defamation Suit"
By Robert Mackey
The New York Times, 13 October 2009
"On Tuesday in Moscow, a court ruled against Joseph Stalin's grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili, who had demanded $340,000 in damages from the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, for supposedly besmirching his family’s reputation by calling his grandfather a 'bloodthirsty cannibal.' The independent Russian newspaper, which published the work of Anna Politkovskaya until her murder in 2006, characterized the Soviet dictator that way in an article about recently declassified documents he had signed and handed to Lavrenti Beria, his secret police chief. According to Memorial, a Russian human rights group, Stalin ordered the deaths of at least 724,000 people during a series of purges, although the overall death toll during his reign is believed to have been in the millions. In court on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported that a lawyer for the dictator's grandson argued that 'a document incriminating the Soviet Union and Stalin himself for the 1940 massacre of some 22,000 Polish officers, intellectuals and priests at the Katyn forest in western Russia was a fake.' As the news agency noted, 'After blaming the Nazis for decades, the Soviet Union acknowledged in 1990 that Stalin's secret police carried out the killings.' Mr. Dzhugashvili's lawyer, Yuri Mukhin, also said that Novaya Gazeta and Memorial, 'are working against Russia to make it weaker.' Despite an overwhelming amount of documentary evidence linking Stalin to the deaths of so many Soviet citizens, his great-grandson, Jacob Dzhugashvili, told the BBC last week that the dictator 'never broke any Soviet law' and was 'greatly misunderstood.' Last year, Stalin finished third in a Russian television station’s popular contest to name the 'greatest Russian' in the country's history. Despite his crimes, and despite having been an ethnic Georgian, the BBC reported that Stalin was actually leading the contest -- in which more than 50 million people voted online or by phone -- for months, 'until the show's producer appealed to viewers to vote for someone else.' [...]"


"Tamil Boat People Fleeing 'Genocide'"
By Tom Allard
The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 October 2009
"Distraught Sri Lankan asylum seekers said they were fleeing 'genocide' against ethnic Tamils in their country, and expressed shock that the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, had personally intervened to interrupt their journey to Australian shores. Their barely seaworthy boat is moored next to an Indonesian navy vessel in Merak, and more than 250 people are in a stand-off with Indonesian authorities, refusing to disembark despite the pleading of local navy personnel and a visit from officials from the International Organisation for Migration. The boat was intercepted in the early hours of Sunday, prompting some of the asylum seekers to threaten to blow up the boat with gas canisters used for cooking, while others jumped overboard to avoid being detained. The threat to blow up the boat has been defused, but those on board the boat remain distressed and agitated, waiting for news of their future under a makeshift sign saying 'We are Sri Lankan civilians. Plz Save our Life.' 'We may as well die here. We cannot go back to Sri Lanka,' said a spokesman for the asylum seekers who gave his name as Alex. 'We are very shocked, so shocked to hear that your Prime Minister wanted to stop us, that he had something to do with this. We are not a boat full of tourists, or people looking for a job. We are people who are running from genocide.' While much has been made of Mr. Rudd's phone call on Saturday reportedly urging Indonesia's President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to intercept the vessel, Indonesian navy officers said yesterday they already had the boat in their sights. In an interview by telephone from the boat, Alex said most were from the city of Jaffna where, he said, the Sinhalese-backed Government was abducting Tamils, putting them in camps, then torturing and killing them. 'There's not a person on this boat who has not seen someone they know killed or tortured,' he said. 'There are kids here who have seen the legs of their fathers cut off in front of them. They are taking people out at night, stripping them and shooting them. Five people every day, sometimes 10. Women are being tortured and raped.' [...]"


"Darfur: A Deadly New Chapter"
By Daniel Howden
The Independent, 17 October 2009
"The Lord's Resistance Army, one of the most feared guerrilla groups in Africa, has moved into Darfur, one of the continent's most troubled regions, intelligence sources in Sudan say. The unexpected move by the LRA comes just as the war-weary west of Sudan recedes from world headlines and after the UN mission there had tentatively declared the fighting to be over. The possible arrival of a messianic cult notorious for rape, civilian massacres and the enslavement of child soldiers threatens that fragile peace. The LRA has been terrorising the north of the Democratic Republic of Congo for 18 months but the bulk of its forces have now crossed into southern Darfur, a senior official in the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) told The Independent. 'We have confirmed that the LRA are there and they have clashed with the local population,' said Major-General Kuol Deim Kuol. He said the LRA had moved into the area to stock up on weapons and supplies and accused the Sudanese government in Khartoum of sponsoring the group. The south has long accused Khartoum of funding militias to destabilise the region but the UN and Sudan experts are both taking the latest reports seriously. The rebels, led by the self-styled prophet Joseph Kony, have waged a campaign of terror in central Africa for two decades. When The Independent visited the dense jungle on the border area between DRC and Sudan last year, refugees who had fled from LRA attacks spoke of bodies strewn over the forest floor, people burned to death in their huts, women raped and children marched into the bush in gangs. The group's arrival in Darfur comes at a critical juncture and threatens to undermine efforts to build on an end to major clashes in the region. [...]"

"Why Aid for Darfur's Rape Survivors Has All But Disappeared"
By Rebecca Hamilton
The New Republic, 14 October 2009
"When Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir was indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March, he responded by expelling 13 international aid agencies from Darfur and disbanding three other domestic relief groups. Khartoum claims the organizations were sharing information with the ICC, which both the groups and the court deny. With the void left by the ousted organizations, the United Nations has instituted emergency measures to help provide food, water, and other vital aid. But one service remains virtually decimated: support for rape survivors. Many of the expelled agencies and disbanded groups worked together to provide comprehensive humanitarian services, including support for rape victims. And, in their absence, no one has been either willing or able to rebuild Darfur's delicate patchwork of medical, psycho-social, and legal services for survivors of what, in United Nations-speak, is called 'GBV' (gender-based violence). 'Since the expulsions, our main concern is for the women,' one Darfuri leader in a sprawling camp for internally displaced persons, or IDPs, told me, as we took cover from the harsh desert sun under tattered plastic sheeting. Rape has been prevalent throughout the crisis in Darfur. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) reported treating nearly 500 rape survivors from October 2004 to early February 2005. In late 2006, the International Rescue Committee recorded more than 200 sexual assaults within a five-week period around just one IDP camp. 'Rape here is systematic,' one of the staffers responsible for documenting incidents of sexual violence for the joint African Union/United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) told me. 'I get new reports every day.' [...]"


"In Turkey, Diplomacy on the Soccer Field"
By Delphine Strauss
Financial Times in The Washington Post
14 October 2009
"World Cup soccer fans in the old Ottoman capital of Bursa were under orders to display the best of 'Turkish hospitality' to signal a willingness to end a century of animosity, as Armenia's president arrived to watch Wednesday's match between the two national sides. Ticket sales have been tightly controlled, brandishing of provocative symbols has been banned, and one group of notoriously unruly local fans even received a visit from Turkey's president to urge that they be on their best behavior at a game where, for many, diplomacy matters more than the score. Serzh Sargsyan's visit, the first by an Armenian president in a decade, echoes the ice-breaking gesture of his Turkish counterpart, Abdullah Gul, welcomed at a game in Yerevan a year ago. It also marks a diplomatic breakthrough after a landmark agreement was reached Saturday to restore bilateral ties, reopen the shared border, and let historians discuss the massacres and deportations that took place in the last years of the Ottoman empire. Mutual animosity is rooted in the 1915 killings by Ottoman Turks of up to 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey also closed its border with Armenia in 1993 to support ally Azerbaijan in a war with Armenia over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. 'The Armenian president and the Armenian national team will see what Turkish hospitality is,' Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday. 'I believe our country and the citizens of Bursa will not bow their heads to politics and to the aims of those who want to use the game to achieve something else.' Giving the Armenian visitors a good welcome for the qualifier for next year's World Cup is not just about national pride. Both countries must ratify their agreement in the teeth of fierce public opposition, and Turkey, keen to play a bigger role in regional diplomacy, is anxious to show the world that Turks are not obstructing peace. [...]"


"Israel Vents Fury at Ally Turkey over 'Barbaric' TV Drama"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 16 October 2009
"Israel's increasingly troubled relations with its main ally in the Muslim world took a turn yesterday when it formally protested to Turkey over the 'incitement' generated by a television series featuring fictional scenes of barbaric acts by Israeli soldiers. The airing of the series, on Turkish state television, coincides with tensions triggered by a decision last week by Ankara to exclude Israel -- which it has severely criticised over last winter's war in Gaza -- from a planned Nato air exercise. The acting Turkish ambassador, Ceylan Ozen, was summoned yesterday to the Israeli foreign ministry in protest at the drama series Ayrilik which shows soldiers brutalising Palestinians. In one abbreviated sequence shown on YouTube, a soldier is seen gratuitously shooting a girl at close range, killing her. In another, Palestinians are apparently about to be executed by a firing squad. Mr. Lieberman said this week that the broadcast was 'incitement of the most severe kind ... under government sponsorship,' and added: 'Such a drama series, which doesn't even have the slightest link to reality and which presents Israeli soldiers as murderers of innocent children, isn't worthy of being broadcast even by enemy states and certainly not in a state which has full diplomatic relations with Israel.' Relations between the two countries have been severely strained by Turkish criticism of the military offensive against Hamas in Gaza. [...]"


"Iraq Relative in 'Genocide' Call"
BBC Online, 16 October 2009
"A dead soldier's father who refused to shake Tony Blair's hand has called for British ministers to face charges of war crimes and genocide. Peter Brierley, whose son died in Iraq in 2003, was one of several relatives critical of ministers in a preliminary hearing of the Iraq war inquiry. He said: 'If someone has done something wrong they should pay.' At an Iraq memorial service last week he told Mr. Blair he would not shake his hand 'because it had blood on it.' Speaking at an inquiry session on Friday, Mr. Brierley, 59, of Batley, West Yorkshire said: 'Members of the government that are proved to be involved in a decision to go to war should face a court charge of crimes against humanity and genocide. Saddam Hussein was tried for the deaths of 280 people in a village and he was hung for it. I think Tony Blair is responsible for a hell of a lot more than 280 people. If someone has done something wrong they should pay. If you do the crime you've got to do the time.' Mr. Brierley and other relatives were responding to an appeal by inquiry chairman Sir John Chilcot for the views of 'those most affected by the conflict.' Another relative, Eddie Hancock, whose son Jamie died in Basra in 2006, said there was 'a bitterness that borders on hatred' among relatives at Mr. Blair's decision to take the UK to war in Iraq. The families are angry with the former prime minister for using the threat of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction as a justification for Britain's support of the US-led invasion in 2003. No evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was found. [...]"


"We Celebrate Genocide on Columbus Day"
By Gerard R. Bourassa, 15 October 2009
"Let me sign my obscure name in huge letters to any petition that aims to do away with the anachronistic holiday celebrating Christopher Columbus. I just can't fathom why in 2009 we still encourage kids to honor somebody whose endeavors included the exploitation, torture, enslavement and murder of the natives of the Caribbean. If I suggested a day honoring Saddam Hussein, you would swiftly deduce that I had taken leave of my senses and probably suggest that I procure the services of a reputable psychiatrist. Certainly, this murderer of the Kurdish people deserves to be vilified for all time. Indeed no one applauded more vigorously than I did when this cowardly bully of Baghdad was brought to justice. Yet we need to ask ourselves, is the life of an Arawak (or Taino) less valuable than that of a Kurd? Is enslaving, torturing, raping and murdering innocent natives of the Caribbean islands less egregious than using mustard gas to kill innocent Kurdish civilians just because the former acts occurred 500 years ago? The mere passage of time should neither erase our memory nor erode our disgust for any acts of genocide. For example, I want the memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by Adolph Hitler and his henchmen treated with the utmost reverence, not only now or in the immediate future but for all time. I am nauseated at the dangerous buffoonery of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Holocaust took place. Justice dictates that we vow to forever honor the Arawak mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons kidnapped, sold into slavery, exploited, tortured and murdered by Columbus and his associates. It mitigates nothing that Columbus claimed a desire to spread Christianity. What would we say about an Islamic fanatic who used the same tactics to spread his religion? To quote Indian advocate Roger Williams, 'Forced religion stinks in God's nostrils.' ... The preposterous yet often-repeated statement, "Columbus discovered America," indoctrinated in the minds of schoolchildren for generations, is the ultimate example of adding insult to injury."

Saturday, October 03, 2009

NOW AVAILABLE: Evoking Genocide: Scholars and Activists Describe the Works That Shaped Their Lives, edited by Adam Jones (The Key Publishing House Inc., 2009; 309 pp., US $32.99 pbk). "Evoking Genocide comprises sixty brief essays, fascinatingly diverse, each deploying a particular textual or visual touchstone in an effort to reveal the author's struggle to confront the ultimate crime. The best of them bring us powerfully close to the singular agony that comes from taking genocide seriously, from refusing to turn away from evil even if it is unfathomable." (Mia Farrow, advocate and actor)

Genocide Studies Media File
September 3 - October 3, 2009

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

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


"Airline Pilot Arrested over Argentine 'Death Flights'"
By Nick Allen
The Telegraph, 24 September 2009
"Julio Alberto Poch, a former Argentine navy lieutenant with Dutch nationality, is wanted in his native country on suspicion of piloting 'death flights,' during which drugged prisoners were thrown from airplanes and helicopters into the Atlantic Sea and Argentine rivers, Dutch foreign ministry spokesman Herbert Brinkman said. He is wanted for questioning in four probes of more than 1,000 deaths during his time as a pilot at the Navy Mechanics School, a notorious torture center in Buenos Aires, Spanish police said Spanish police said Poch was arrested Tuesday night after touching down at Valencia airport on a flight from the Netherlands. Police said they detained him during a 40-minute stopover before he was due to fly back Amsterdam. The Dutch foreign ministry confirmed Poch was a pilot with Transavia, an airline that flies mainly tourist routes between the Netherlands and other European and North African cities. Police said Poch frequently piloted planes to and from Schipol airport in Amsterdam to Maneses airport in Valencia, eastern Spain. They added that a replacement pilot had been arranged so that the flight could continue on its way after the arrest. The Argentine government estimates about 13,000 died during the crackdown on dissent during the country's period of military rule between 1976-1983. Human rights groups say the toll is closer to 30,000."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Yerevan Defends Move toward Ankara"
UPI dispatch, 2 October 2009
"Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said improved relations with Ankara would not harm the greater concerns over genocide or Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish relations with Armenia were complicated by claims of genocide during the Ottoman Empire. Recent ties are complicated over disputes regarding the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an area of dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia. War broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh in the early 1990s, and the regional fallout from that row remains tense despite a 1994 cease-fire. Sargsyan said normalizing relations with Ankara would not prevent the international recognition of genocide or force Yerevan to back off its claims on Nagorno-Karabakh, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. He told a presidential panel that 'no sensible Armenian can forget the genocide,' adding Ankara would not control any negotiations. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her meetings on Nagorno-Karabakh expressed her "strong support" for a resolution, saying the dispute negotiating process should move forward without preconditions. Ankara said in April it would open its borders with Armenia in time for a qualifying match between both national teams for the World Cup scheduled for October."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Ottawa Handed Genocide-Intervention Plan"
By Bill Curry
The Globe and Mail, 22 September 2009
"Just six months after his release as an Al-Qaeda prisoner in the Sahara desert, Robert Fowler was back in Ottawa Tuesday to discuss a trip he took to Rwanda in 1994 as Canada's deputy minister of national defence. Mr. Fowler penned a graphic report in June of that year, which warned the highest levels of government about the extent of genocide ongoing in Rwanda. He estimated that between 400,000 and one million people had been killed and that Canada's reasons for inaction would be 'irrelevant to the historians who chronicle the near-elimination of a tribe while the white world's accountants count and the foreign policy specialists machinate.' That report was ultimately ignored. Today, Mr. Fowler joined other Canadian foreign-policy experts in warning that Ottawa still does not have the policies in place to prevent genocide in the future. 'What we are talking about here is the moral imperative of engaging when truly appalling, unspeakable and unacceptable things are occurring,' he said. Mr. Fowler, a career diplomat who was working as a United Nations special envoy when he was captured last December in Niger, appeared alongside Senator Romeo Dallaire, former NDP leader Ed Broadbent and Conservative Senator Hugh Segal to release a 139-page report advising the Canadian government on how to prevent future genocide, ideally without military intervention. The report, titled Mobilizing the Will to Intervene: Leadership and Action to Prevent Mass Atrocities, was prepared by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies. The institute's director, Frank Chalk, also spoke at the press conference. Its recommendations include calling on the Prime Minister to make preventing mass atrocities a national priority and to appoint an international security minister. The report says Parliament should create a joint House of Commons-Senate committee on preventing genocide, calls on the government to increase its diplomatic presence in fragile countries and urges the creation of a Canadian Prevention Corps. On the military side, it recommends that Ottawa continue to enhance the capabilities of the Canadian Forces. The report also highlights the important role of the media in mobilizing the public will domestically for governments to act abroad in preventing genocide. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the full text of the report.]


"China Is Wordless on Traumas of Communists' Rise"
By Andrew Jacobs
The New York Times, 1 October 2009
"Unlike in other cities taken by the People’s Liberation Army during China’s civil war, there were no crowds to greet the victors as they made their triumphant march through the streets of this industrial city in the heart of Manchuria. Even if relieved to learn that hostilities with Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Army had come to an end, most residents -- the ones who had not died during the five-month siege -- were simply too weak to go outdoors. 'We were just lying in bed starving to death,' said Zhang Yinghua, now 86, as she recalled the famine that claimed the lives of her brother, her sister and most of her neighbors. 'We couldn’t even crawl.' In what China's history books hail as one of the war’s decisive victories, Mao’s troops starved out the formidable Nationalist garrison that occupied Changchun with nary a shot fired. What the official story line does not reveal is that at least 160,000 civilians also died during the siege of the northeastern city, which lasted from June to October of 1948. The People's Republic of China basked in its 60th anniversary on Thursday with jaw-dropping pageantry, but there were no solemn pauses for the lives lost during the Communist Party’s rise to power -- not for the estimated tens of millions who died during the civil war, nor the millions of landlords, Nationalist sympathizers and other perceived enemies who were eradicated during Mao's drive to consolidate power. 'Changchun was like Hiroshima,' wrote Zhang Zhenglu, a lieutenant colonel in the People's Liberation Army who documented the siege in 'White Snow, Red Blood,' a book that was immediately banned after publication in 1989. 'The casualties were about the same. Hiroshima took nine seconds; Changchun took five months.' The 40,000 who survived did so by eating insects, leather belts and, in some cases, the bodies that littered the streets. By the time Communist troops took over the city, every leaf and blade of grass had been consumed during the final desperate months. There are no monuments or markers recalling the events that decimated Changchun's populace. Most young people have no knowledge of the darker aspects of the siege, and the survivors, now in their 70s and 80s, are reluctant to give voice to long-buried trauma. [...]"

"China's 'Cancer Villages' Bear Witness to Economic Boom"
By Tan Ee Lyn
Reuters dispatch, 16 September 2009
"One needs to look no further then the river that runs through Shangba to understand the extent of the heavy metals pollution that experts say has turned the hamlets in this region of southern China into cancer villages. The river's flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance. 'All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you'll get rashes and a terrible itch,' said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life. 'Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s.' Cancer casts a shadow over the villages in this region of China in southern Guangdong province, nestled among farmland contaminated by heavy metals used to make batteries, computer parts and other electronics devices. Every year, an estimated 460,000 people die prematurely in China due to exposure to air and water pollution, according to a 2007 World Bank study. ... 'China has many "cancer villages" and it is very likely that these increased cases of cancer are due to water pollution,' said Edward Chan, an official with Greenpeace in southern China. But it's not just water, the carcinogenic heavy metals are also entering the food chain. Mounds of tailings from mineral mining are discarded alongside paddy fields throughout the region. ... Few families in the villages downstream from the Daboshan mine have been left untouched by cancer. The most common cancers are those of the stomach, liver, kidney and colon, accounting for about 85 percent of cancers. Cancer incidence rates in these villages are not available, but rights groups say they are far higher than the national average. ... Across China, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of small, anonymous villages that are suffering the consequences of the country's rapid economic expansion, villages with rates and types of cancers that experts say can only be due to pollution. This may be the fate of more and more of China's population as mines and factories spew out tens of millions of tonnes of pollution every year, into the water system as well as the air, to produce the fruits of China's economic growth. Death rates from cancer rose 19 percent in cities and 23 percent in rural areas in 2006, compared to 2005, according to official Chinese media, although they did not give exact figures. [...]"


"Australian Police Launch War Crimes Inquiry into 1975 Murder of British Journalists"
By Anne Barrowclough and Richard Lloyd Parry
The Times, 9 September 2009
"Australian police have launched a war crimes investigation into the deaths of five journalists, including two Britons, killed during the Indonesian invasion of East Timor 34 years ago. The decision, which comes after decades of lobbying by the families of the dead men, could lead to criminal charges being brought in an Australian court against senior Indonesian officers. It will increase pressure on the British Government to take a tougher line on the killing of the so-called 'Balibo Five,' named after the obscure East Timor border town where the group of British, Australian and New Zealand journalists died in 1975. Last year, an Australian coroner found that Indonesian commandos, including one who went on to become a Cabinet minister, murdered Brian Peters, then a 26-year old cameraman for Australia’s Channel 9 television. He had gone to East Timor to investigate reports of Indonesian infiltration. With him was a fellow Briton, 29-year old Malcolm Rennie, and three journalists from another Australian channel. The five men were killed while filming a clandestine attack on East Timorese soldiers in the town of Balibo by Indonesian soldiers and local anti-independence East Timorese. Eye witness reports suggest that they were deliberately murdered, and their bodies burned, in order to prevent evidence of Indonesia's covert war on East Timor from being broadcast to the outside world. ... The bodies were immediately burned and nothing more than a few charred bones, hurriedly buried together in a single grave, have ever been recovered. Public opinion in Australia was outraged by the deaths. Subsequently released government documents have revealed that British and Australian diplomats, who tacitly encouraged Indonesia’s brutal invasion of East Timor, did their best to avoid embarrassing its government with questions about the killing of their citizens. [...]"


"Ahmadinejad Proud Holocaust Words Spur Rage"
Associated Press dispatch on, 21 September 2009
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday he was proud his denial of the Holocaust had enraged the West, as the controversial leader geared up for a trip to the United Nations to stress a message of 'peace and friendship.' Ahmadinejad's latest comment about the killing of millions of Jews during World War II comes as Iran is locked in a bitter dispute with the United States and other Western nations over its nuclear program. Even as that fight continues, his remarks were sure to earn the Iranian president an even more frigid reception when he heads to New York on Tuesday to attend the U.N. General Assembly. 'The anger of the world's professional manslayers is (a source of) pride for us,' Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency. He was responding to a question about criticism from the European Union following a speech on Friday in which he questioned whether the Holocaust was a 'real event.' The manslayers reference appeared to be directed primarily at Israel and the United States. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly raised questions about the Holocaust. He has said it has been used as a pretext for Israel's formation, and that Israel and Jewish groups are actively muzzling any attempt to link shame over the Nazi atrocities with the what many in the Muslim Middle East believe is the West's bias for the Jewish state at their expense. The comments have done little to bolster sympathy for Iran's conservative government, which the United States and others believe is looking to develop enrich uranium with an eye on nuclear weapons production. Iranian officials deny the charge, saying the program is for purely peaceful purposes. [...]"


"Intelligence Agencies Say No New Nukes in Iran"
By Mark Hosenball
Newsweek, 16 September 2009
"The U.S. intelligence community is reporting to the White House that Iran has not restarted its nuclear-weapons development program, two counterproliferation officials tell NEWSWEEK. U.S. agencies had previously said that Tehran halted the program in 2003. The officials, who asked for anonymity when discussing sensitive information, said that U.S. intelligence agencies have informed policymakers at the White House and other agencies that the status of Iranian work on development and production of a nuclear bomb has not changed since the formal National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran's 'Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities' in November 2007. Public portions of that report stated that U.S. intelligence agencies had 'high confidence' that, as of early 2003, Iranian military units were pursuing development of a nuclear bomb, but that in the fall of that year Iran 'halted its nuclear weapons program.' The document said that while U.S. agencies believed the Iranian government 'at a minimum is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons,' U.S. intelligence as of mid-2007 still had 'moderate confidence' that it had not restarted weapons-development efforts. ... This latest U.S. intelligence-community assessment is potentially controversial for several reasons, not the least of which is that it is at odds with more alarming assessments propounded by key U.S. allies, most notably Israel. Officials of Israel's conservative-led government have been delivering increasingly dire assessments of Iran’s nuclear progress and have leaked shrill threats about a possible Israeli military attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.Former U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, an atomic-weapons expert who follows Iranian nuclear developments closely, said the U.S. government's current judgments will continue to provoke contention and debate. 'People are looking at the same information and reaching different judgments,' he said. 'Given all the developments in Iran, these assessments are hard to believe with any certainty. Nobody's been able to bring total proof either way.' [...]"
[n.b. Israeli government spokesperson: "Dammit, don't interrupt our hysteria with sane assessments!"]


"How Islamist Gangs Use Internet to Track, Torture and Kill Iraqi Gays"
By Afif Sarhan and Jason Burke
The Observer, 13 September 2009
"Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims. 'It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up,' he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed. Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone. The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. 'Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts,' he told the Observer. 'We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed.' The violence against Iraqi gays is a key test of the government's ability to protect vulnerable minority groups after the Americans have gone. Dr. Toby Dodge, of London University's Queen Mary College, believes that the violence may be a consequence of the success of the government of Nouri al-Maliki. 'Militia groups whose raison d'être was security in their communities are seeing that function now fulfilled by the police. So their focus has shifted to the moral and cultural sphere, reverting to classic Islamist tactics of policing moral boundaries,' Dodge said. Homosexuality was not criminalised under Saddam Hussein -- indeed Iraq in the 1960s and 1970s was known for its relatively liberated gay scene. Violence against gays started in the aftermath of the invasion in 2003. Since 2004, according to Ali Hali, chairman of the Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) group, a London-based human-rights group, a total of 680 have died in Iraq, with at least 70 of those in the past five months. The group believes the figures may be higher, as most cases involving married men are not reported. Seven victims were women. According to Hali, Iraq has become 'the worst place for homosexuals on Earth.' [...]"

"Iraq's New Surge: Gay Killings"
By Rasha Moumneh
Foreign Policy, 9 September 2009
"[...] As the world hails Iraq's supposed return to normality, the country's militias -- the same ones that spent years waging a sectarian civil war -- have found a new, less apparent target: men suspected of being gay. The systematic killings, which began earlier this year, reveal the cracks behind Iraq's fragile calm. Iraq's leaders may talk of security and democracy from behind barbed wire in the Green Zone, but the surge of murders against gay men is a stark sign of how far Iraqi society still has to go. During a 10-day Human Rights Watch research trip to Iraq in April, we heard harrowing stories of torture, abductions, kidnappings, extortion, and murder. We listened to dozens of men who had faced violence at the hands of armed militias, attacked by youths with guns for violating the unwritten codes of Iraqi masculinity. A number of signs might implicate one as being not "manly" enough, from neighborhood gossip that a man is gay to looking somehow effeminate or foreign in the wrong people's eyes: wearing one's hair too long or one's jeans too tight, for example. There is no count available for the number of deaths since the killings began earlier this year, but one U.N. worker told us that the victims could number in the hundreds. Not a single murder has been adequately investigated, and not a single murderer has been arrested. Infiltrated by militias and fearing for their reputations if they defend 'immorality,' government officials turn a blind eye. Most survivors pointed to Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia as the main culprit in the attacks. The stand-down of al-Sadr's men over the past year has been pointed to as a sign of the U.S. troop surge's success. Now, however, many Iraqis speculate that the Mahdi Army is hoping to revitalize its street cred by seizing a murderous new role: as guardians of morality. Western attention has always focused primarily on sectarian attacks in Iraq. Yet al-Sadr's militia and its counterparts in countless neighborhoods and towns have long had other targets in their cross hairs. These men claim to bear the banners of religion and morality, defending against any transgressors. They paint themselves as the caretakers of tradition, culture, and national authenticity -- which often means keeping women, as well as men, in their rigidly enforced traditional roles. [...]"


"Quentin Tarantino Takes Inglourious Basterds to Israel"
By Ben Child and Agencies
The Guardian, 16 September 2009
"It has been described as a 'Jewish wish-fulfilment fantasy', and by star Eli Roth as 'kosher porn.' But how will Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds go down in Israel? The director is due to find out for himself after flying in to visit the country for the first time yesterday. Tarantino told reporters at a news conference ahead of the film's Israeli premiere last night that he was keen to see for himself how Basterds, which centres on a band of Jewish-American soldiers who slaughter and scalp Nazi soldiers as retribution for the Holocaust, was received. 'To me, taboos are made to be broken. They're meant to be pushed over,' he said. 'One of the things that I think is a drag a little bit about movies dealing with the second world war for the last 20 years is that ... all the movies have really focused in on the victimisation of the second world war. I'll be seeing it for the first time in an Israeli cinema. I'll be seeing it for the first time with an Israeli audience,' he added. 'I'm interested to see, "OK, are there laughs here? Does the suspense work here as well as it works somewhere else?"' Basterds depicts an alternate universe in which an attempt is made to end the war by brutally killing off all the top leadership of the Nazi party in a single night. It also stars Brad Pitt, Diane Kruger, Michael Fassbender, Christoph Waltz and Melanie Laurent. Reaction has been mixed from critics, with the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw labelling it a film in which 'a once dazzlingly exciting artist suddenly and catastrophically belly-flops, to the dismay of his admirers.' Tarantino was joined in Israel by the film's producer Lawrence Bender and one of its lead actors, Christoph Waltz, who plays an eccentric SS colonel dubbed 'The Jew Hunter.' The trio have visited Jerusalem's Holocaust museum together."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. It is interesting to see this pop-cultural echo and reworking of a theme -- Jewish revenge fantasies and revenge attacks against Nazis/Germans -- which I discuss at some length in my book chapter, "'When the Rabbit's Got the Gun': Subaltern Genocide and the Genocidal Continuum," in Nicholas Robins and Adam Jones, eds., Genocides by the Oppressed: Subaltern Genocide in Theory and Practice (Indiana University Press, 2009).]

"How Holocaust Survivor Yevgeny Bistrizky Ended Up on Israel's Streets"
By Sheera Frenkel
The Times, 4 September 2009
"Tucked away in the closets of Yevgeny Bistrizky's new flat is a worn and dirty blanket -- for nearly eight months it was the only bedding that the 71-year-old Holocaust survivor possessed. Until two weeks ago Mr Bistrizky was homeless on the streets of Tel Aviv, living in a dog park, using several benches as a makeshift bed and relying on residents for food. He slept there despite his dislike of dogs. One of his only memories of the Holocaust was watching dogs feed on the bodies near the killing fields of Babi Yar, where 33,771 Jews were shot in September 1941. Their bodies were thrown in a gorge outside Kiev in one of the largest massacres of the Holocaust. Mr. Bistrizky said: 'I never thought that I would again be with nothing. I kept hoping that things would get better but I didn't know what to do.' How a Holocaust survivor could find himself homeless in Israel is a question that has gone unanswered since Mr. Bistrizky's story was published several weeks ago in a Hebrew daily newspaper. More than 50,000 Holocaust survivors live below the poverty line in Israel. Mr. Bistrizky's is the only known case of a survivor who became homeless. The Latet organisation, which provides aid to the needy, discovered him after concerned residents contacted the group. They were astonished to learn that he had been living in the dog park for eight months, cleaning himself with a garden hose inside the rubbish room of a building, and hoping that the faeces-littered park would deter people from trying to attack him in his sleep. Latet was unable to find him a suitable flat and contacted a newspaper to publish his story. Since then it has received hundreds of calls from people offering food, clothing and rooms in their homes. One company offered a flat in a building for the elderly. The room is sparse but clean. The only homely touch is two Ukrainian calendars with photographs of kittens above his single bed. Mr. Bistrizky said: 'Sometimes I'm afraid I'll wake up and it will all be gone. That I'll be back on the park bench and this will all be a dream.' ..."


"Palestinians Halt Push on War Report"
By Neil MacFarquhar
The New York Times, 1 October 2009
"In a startling shift, the Palestinian delegation to the United Nations Human Rights Council dropped its efforts to forward a report accusing Israel of possible war crimes to the Security Council, under pressure from the United States, diplomats said Thursday. The Americans argued that pushing the report now would derail the Middle East peace process that they are trying to revive, diplomats said. 'We don't want to create an obstacle for them,' Ibrahim Khraishi, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said by telephone from Geneva, where the Human Rights Council is based. 'We want to get a strong resolution to deal with the report in a good manner to get a benefit from it.' The report -- produced by a panel of investigators led by an internationally respected jurist, Richard Goldstone -- found extensive evidence that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups took actions amounting to war crimes during the Gaza war last winter. Israel says that it acted only to halt missile fire from Gaza that terrorized Israeli civilians. The position of the United States since the Goldstone report was released in early September has been that the Human Rights Council alone should deal with it. But in a compromise, the body is expected to pass a resolution Friday presented by the bloc of Arab and Muslim states that any action will be delayed until the next meeting in March. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned the Palestinians and international powers earlier Thursday that any action to advance the report would be a denial of Israel's 'right to self-defense' and would kill any chance of peace talks. [...]"

"US Dismisses UN Gaza Report"
People's Daily Online, 1 October 2009
"The Obama administration has 'grave concerns' about the recommendations put forth by the Goldstone report on Israel's conduct during the Gaza offensive, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton here on Wednesday. 'We believe that the mandate for the Goldstone report was one-sided and that many of the recommendations are appropriately dealt with by the institutions within Israel,' she said. 'We and other nations will be engaged about that but we have grave concerns about the recommendations.' Clinton made the comments to reporters after chairing a special Security Council session on women and peace and security. The United States holds the rotating Council presidency in September. The investigation -- commissioned by UN Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone -- examined a number of alleged war crimes committed by Israel and Palestine in January. The 575-page report, released on Sept. 15 concluded that while both sides were responsible for serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, Israel reacted to Hamas attacks with disproportionate force. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. [...]"
[n.b. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.]

"Sliming Goldstone and His Report"
By Uri Avnery, 21 September 2009
"Is there no limit to the wiles of those dastardly anti-Semites? Now they have decided to slander the Jews with another blood libel. Not the old accusation of slaughtering Christian children to use their blood for baking Passover matzoth, as in the past, but of the mass slaughter of women and children in Gaza. And who did they put at the head of the commission which was charged with this task? Neither a British Holocaust-denier nor a German neo-Nazi, nor even an Iranian fanatic, but of all people a Jewish judge who bears the very Jewish name of Goldstone (originally Goldstein, of course). And not just a Jew with a Jewish name, but a Zionist, whose daughter, Nicole, is an enthusiastic Zionist who once 'made Aliyah' and speaks fluent Hebrew. And not just a Jewish Zionist, but a South African who opposed apartheid and was appointed to the country's Constitutional Court when that system was abolished. All this in order to defame the most moral army in the world, fresh from waging the most just war in history! Richard Goldstone is not the only Jew manipulated by the world-wide anti-Semitic conspiracy. Throughout the three weeks of the Gaza War, more than 10 thousand Israelis demonstrated against it again and again. They were photographed carrying signs saying 'End the massacre in Gaza,' 'Stop the war crimes' 'Israel commits war crimes,' 'Bombing civilians is a war crime.' They chanted in unison: 'Olmert, Olmert, it is true -- They're waiting in The Hague for you!' Who would have believed that there are so many anti-Semites in Israel?! ... The official Israeli reaction to the Goldstone report would have been amusing, if the matter had not been so grave. Except for the 'usual suspects' (Gideon Levy, Amira Hass and their ilk), the condemnation of the report was unanimous, total and extreme, from Shimon Peres, that advocate of every abomination, down to the last scribbler in the newspapers. Nobody, but nobody, dealt with the subject itself. Nobody examined the detailed conclusions. With such an anti-Semitic smear, there is no need for that. Actually, there is no need to read the report at all. The public, in all its diversity, stood up like one person, in order to rebuff the plot, as it has learned to do in the thousand years of pogroms, Spanish inquisition and Holocaust. A siege mentality, the ghetto mentality. The instinctive reaction in such a situation is denial. It's just not true. It never happened. It’s all a pack of lies. By itself, that is a natural reaction. When a human being is faced with a situation which he cannot handle, denial is the first refuge. If things did not happen, there is no need to cope. Basically, there is no difference between the deniers of the Armenian genocide, the deniers of the annihilation of the Native Americans and the deniers of the atrocities of all wars. From this point of view, it can be said that denial is almost 'normal.' But with us it has been developed into an art form. [...]"

"Goldstone Report: Israel's Failings"
By George Bisharat
The Los Angeles Times, 18 September 2009
"Will Israel's decades-long impunity from international law finally come to an end? That is the question facing the international community in the aftermath of the just-released Goldstone report. Richard Goldstone, formerly a supreme court justice in South Africa and chief prosecutor in the international tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, headed a four-person United Nations mission investigating both Israel and Hamas for possible war crimes during Israel's winter attack on the Gaza Strip last winter. The mission conducted 188 interviews and reviewed more than 300 reports, 10,000 pages of documents, 30 videos and 1,200 photographs. The Israeli government barred the group from entering Israel or the Gaza Strip (it reached Gaza, ultimately, through Egypt). By contrast, Palestinian authorities, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, cooperated with the mission. The 575-page report concluded that both sides committed war crimes before, during and after the intense fighting in December-January. In its findings on Israel's conduct, the report noted that the ruinous siege on Gaza, imposed long before the invasion, collectively punished its residents in violation of international law. During the attack, Israeli troops killed civilians without justification, wantonly destroyed civilian infrastructure and private homes, and used weapons illegally. Israeli troops targeted and destroyed Gaza's last functioning flour mill. Israeli armored bulldozers razed the chicken farm that provided 10% of Gaza's eggs, burying 31,000 chickens in rubble. Israeli gunners bombed a raw sewage lagoon, releasing 200,000 cubic meters of filth into neighboring farmland. Repeated pinpoint strikes on a water well complex destroyed all of its essential machinery. These are just some of the facts that led the mission to conclude that Israel's objective in the attack was \to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.' Since a January cease-fire, Israel has maintained its illegal blockade, keeping relief supplies and construction materials from Gaza, and thus guaranteeing continued Palestinian civilian suffering. The Goldstone mission found that Hamas, in its indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, also committed war crimes, calling the rockets 'a deliberate attack against the civilian population.' The report recommends that all parties to the fighting conduct credible internal investigations of the abuses it documented. If they fail to do so within six months, the report recommends that the U.N. Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation. [...]"

"UN War Crimes Allegation Won't Change Israel's Calculations"
By Tony Karon
Time, 17 September 2009
"Anyone waiting for Israeli generals and political leaders to face war crimes charges at The Hague over January's Gaza invasion ought not to hold their breath, despite a new report by a UN Human Rights Council accusing both Israel and Hamas of war crimes during the confrontation. And despite Israel's disquiet over losing the battle for international public opinion and growing criticism over its actions in Palestinian territories, the Israeli military is unlikely to do much differently the next time it goes into Gaza. The UN investigation concluded that Israel's January offensive in Gaza had been 'a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population.' It also slammed the Jewish state's economic blockade of the territory. At the same time, it accused Hamas of war crimes for firing rockets at Israeli civilians. Israel, which refused to cooperate with the probe, slammed it as biased and accused it of 'rewarding terrorism.' That follows the pattern of Israel's dismissal of a steady stream of similar assessments of the Gaza operation by Israeli and international human rights organizations. On the basis of its own internal inquiries, the Israeli Defense Force insists its forces took extra care to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza. But the U.N. report is potentially more damaging, and the fact that its key author is the widely respected Jewish South African Judge Richard Goldstone makes it more difficult to dismiss his work as an anti-Israel smear. Goldstone has ties to Israel and a reputation for honest exploration of politically sensitive subjects built in the course of his work at the head of the his country's Truth Commission and, later, of the Hague tribunal for war crimes committed in former Yugoslavia. Nevertheless, his report is being read as a smear in the Israeli mainstream. Unlike the charges by the various human rights groups, the UN report could potentially carry legal consequences. It is scheduled to be discussed on Sept. 28 at the U.N. Human Rights Council, where member countries might seek to have the matter taken up by the Security Council — which can, if it chooses, refer the matter to the International Criminal Court at The Hague. Although political factors make such a course of action highly unlikely at the moment, Israel's foreign ministry is taking no chances. It is launching a diplomatic push focused on the veto-wielding five permanent Security Council members (Russia, China, Britain, France and the U.S.) to prevent it being taken up. [...]"
[n.b. "A deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population." Apart from being commendably concise, that clearly meets the legal definitions of war crimes, terrorism, and crimes against humanity.]

"UN Inquiry Finds Gaza War Crimes"
Al-Jazeera dispatch, 15 September 2009
"A United Nations investigation into Israel's war on Gaza has found evidence that both sides committed war crimes during the three-week conflict. Judge Richard Goldstone, who led the inquiry, said he found evidence of Israeli war crimes in the assault, which started on December 27, 2008, and killed more than 1,400 Palestinians. His report also suggested that Palestinian rocket fire into Israel may constitute a crime against humanity. The report, which comes at the end of a six-month inquiry and will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council later this month, said Israel had violated international humanitarian law and used disproportionate force. The report said Israel deliberately attacked civilians, failed to take precautions to minimise loss of civilian life and cited strong evidence that Israeli forces committed 'grave breaches' of the Geneva Convention. Judge Goldstone, a former South African judge, said: 'The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes, and possibly in some respects crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defence Force.' The report 'concludes there is also evidence that Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, as well as possibly crimes against humanity,' by firing rockets into southern Israel. The report also said there were 'numerous instances of deliberate attacks on civilians' and civilian objects. 'The Israelis say they provided leaflets and made thousands of calls to Gazan citizens, but after they called them and dropped leaflets, they didn't give them any option of where to go.' The firing of white phosphorous shells and the use of high explosive artillery shells were listed as 'violations of humanitarian law.' Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Gaza, said: 'The theme that runs through this new UN report is the idea of excessive force being used [by Israel] and deliberate targeting of civilians. There was nothing to warn civilians that there were incoming rockets. The Israelis say they provided leaflets and made thousands of calls to Gazan citizens, but after they called them and dropped leaflets, they didn't give them any option of where to go. Even the United Nations shelter was hit.' Our correspondent said Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza were studying what Goldstone had said and would comment on it in due course. [...]"


"Jews Who Fled Nazis as Kids Recreate Train Trip"
Associated Press dispatch on, 4 September 2009
"A vintage train carrying Holocaust survivors pulled into London on Friday, ending a three-day trip across Europe that marked the 70th anniversary of their extraordinary rescue by a young British stockbroker. Waiting to greet them at London's Liverpool Street Station was Sir Nicholas Winton, 100, who organized the rail 'kindertransports' that carried hundreds of mostly Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to safety in 1939. The steam train carried 170 people, including about two dozen survivors of the evacuations and members of their families. Winton, frail and leaning on a stick, shook hands with the former evacuees as they stepped off the train from Prague. 'It's wonderful to see you all after 70 years,' he said. 'Don't leave it quite so long until we meet here again.' Other Holocaust survivors had gathered at the station to meet the train. 'It's amazing. It happened so many years ago yet I remember it so vividly,' said Otto Deutsch, 81, who lives in Southend, southern England. 'I never saw my parents again or my sister. My parents were shot and what they did with my sister I really don't want to know.' In late 1938, Winton, a 29-year-old clerk at the London Stock Exchange, had traveled to what was then Czechoslovakia at the invitation of a friend working at the British Embassy. Alarmed by the influx of refugees from the Sudetenland region recently annexed by Germany, Winton immediately began organizing a way to get Jewish children out of the country. He feared, correctly, that Czechoslovakia soon would be invaded by the Nazis and Jewish residents would be sent to concentration camps. Winton persuaded British officials to accept the children and set about fundraising and organizing the trip. He arranged eight trains that carried 669 mostly Jewish children through Germany to Britain in the months before the outbreak of World War II. The youngsters were sent to foster homes in England, and a few to Sweden. None saw their parents again. The largest evacuation was scheduled for Sept. 3, 1939, the day that Britain declared war on Germany. That ninth train was never allowed to leave Prague, and almost none of the 250 children trying to flee that day survived the war. [...]"


"Pakistan’s Army Said to Be Linked to Many Killings"
By Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah
The New York Times, 14 September 2009
"Two months after the Pakistani Army wrested control of the Swat Valley from Taliban militants, a new campaign of fear has taken hold, with scores, perhaps hundreds, of bodies dumped on the streets in what human rights advocates and local residents say is the work of the military. In some cases, people may simply have been seeking revenge against the ruthless Taliban, in a society that tends to accept tit-for-tat reprisals, local politicians said. But the scale of the retaliation, the similarities in the way that many of the victims have been tortured and the systematic nature of the deaths and disappearances in areas that the military firmly controls have led local residents, human rights workers and some Pakistani officials to conclude that the military has had a role in the campaign. The Pakistani Army, which is supported by the United States and in the absence of effective political leadership is running much of Swat with an iron hand, has strenuously denied any involvement in the killings. The army has acknowledged that bodies have turned up, but its spokesmen assert that the killings are the result of civilians settling scores. 'There are no extrajudicial killings in our system,' said Col. Akhtar Abbas, the army spokesman in Swat. 'If something happens, we have a foolproof accountability system.' But neighbors of the victims and Swat residents say there is something more going on than revenge killings by civilians. ... Reports on Sept. 1 in two national daily newspapers, Dawn and The News, said the bodies of 251 people had been found dumped in Swat. The Human Rights Commission, a nongovernmental organization, disputed that all the victims had been killed by civilians, saying last month that there were credible reports of retaliatory killings by the military. It said that witnesses had seen mass graves and that in some cases, the bodies appeared to be those of militants. The exact number of alleged killings was impossible to calculate because the presence of human rights monitors was limited by the authorities, the commission said. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which investigates illegal killings, was ordered by the military to leave Swat last month over matters unrelated to the killings, a senior Pakistani government official and the Red Cross said. [...]"


"Hugo Chávez Accuses Israel of Genocide"
By Rory McCarthy
The Guardian, 9 September 2009
"Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president, has accused Israel of genocide against the Palestinians, saying the offensive in Gaza early this year was unprovoked. 'The question is not whether the Israelis want to exterminate the Palestinians. They're doing it openly,' he was quoted as saying in an interview with the French newspaper, Le Figaro. 'What was it, if not genocide? ... The Israelis were looking for an excuse to exterminate the Palestinians.' His comments came after a tour of Middle Eastern and Arab countries. Israel has maintained that the three-week Gaza assault was a response to rockets fired from Gaza by militant groups. However, several human rights groups have said that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups, notably Hamas, breached international law and should be investigated for possible war crimes. A key UN report on the conflict, led by the respected South African judge Richard Goldstone, is due to be published within weeks. New casualty figures for the Gaza offensive, compiled after months of research by an Israeli human rights group, show 1,387 Palestinians died, of whom more than half were not taking part in hostilities. The research from B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights organisation, challenges figures produced by the Israeli military, which argued that far fewer Palestinian civilians died. B'Tselem said that its field researchers in Gaza interviewed witnesses and relatives of the dead, cross-checked information with Palestinian and international rights groups and with Israeli military statements. 'B'Tselem did everything within its capability to verify the data,' the group said. It had asked to see an Israeli military list of fatalities but was refused. Israeli authorities also refused to allow Israeli and West Bank staff from B'Tselem to enter Gaza for the work. The research found that 773 of those Palestinians killed were not taking part in hostilities; among them were 320 children under the age of 18. Field workers from the group visited the homes of the dead children, checking photographs, death certificates and other documents to establish the toll. Another 330 of the dead were involved in the fighting and 248 were police officers killed at their police stations, most in a wave of air strikes on the first day of the conflict. On the Israeli side, three civilians were killed by Palestinian militant rocket fire and 10 soldiers died, four of whom were killed accidentally by their own troops. [...]"
[n.b. Add the 248 defenseless police officers killed at their stations, who were uninvolved in the fighting, to the 773 "official" civilians, and you get a much more accurate sense of the proportion of noncombatants murdered in this brutal assault.]


"Stalin Grandson in Court Fight to Clear Dictator's Name"
By Luke Harding
The Guardian, 14 September 2009
"[...] At lunchtime tomorrow Yevgeny Dzhugashvili -- the offspring of Stalin's ill-fated son Yakov, from the dictator's first marriage -- is due to appear at Moscow's Basmanny court. Dzhugashvili lives in Tbilisi, Georgia. But at Zhura's invitation, he is flying to Moscow to take part in a libel action against Novaya Gazeta, Russia's leading liberal newspaper. He's retired and normally lives with his family in Georgia. But he's decided he wants to make a stand on this,' said Zhura, 63, a former trade official. Dzhugashvili is demanding $299,000 (£180,000) in damages from the paper after it said that his grandfather personally signed politburo orders to execute civilians. Author Anatoly Yablokov -- who wrote the piece -- says such a legal case would have been unthinkable until recently, but is now depressingly possible. 'There is a change in society's view of Stalin,' Yablokov said last month at a preliminary court hearing. 'We hear much more now about how much of an effective manager Stalin was, much more than in the 1990s, and much less about the repression.' According to Zhura, however, Stalin created a society superior to its capitalist rivals, not just in the field of scientific endeavour but also on the football pitch. 'During a tour of Britain in November 1945, Moscow Dynamo FC thrashed Manchester United. We even beat your Arsenal,' Zhura noted. Zhura also insists that the notorious Molotov-Ribbentrop pact -- under which Hitler and Stalin secretly carved up eastern Europe in August 1939 -- was not the cause of the second world war. Instead, he blames another less well-known agreement, signed in the same month: the Anglo-Polish agreement between Britain and Warsaw. [...]"


"Rwanda's Bid to Forget the Genocide"
By Madeleine Morris
BBC Online, 1 October 2009
"It could not have been a more incongruous sight. On top of one of Rwanda's famous thousand hills, about an hour's drive out of Kigali, a dozen women dressed in an array of mismatched African prints tilled the red-soiled fields with their hoes. The men, in second-hand tracksuit pants and European football shirts from seasons played long ago, did the same work in a separate field. It might have been a scene from the early part of last century, were it not for the shiny, grey, top-of-the-range bus parked just above the fields on the red-dirt track. 'Bridging the digital divide' it boasted down its side in bright green lettering. Inside school students used 20 top-of-the-range laptops to study, and catch up on email and Facebook. It was the past and future of Rwanda within a stone's throw of each other. And despite the heavy weight of its past, Rwanda is a country that is impatient to reach its future. The government hopes high-speed internet connections will help turn this nation of subsistence farmers into a hi-tech, service-based economy. The buses are just one of many projects trying to make the whole country computer-literate. But for a nation that so badly wants to prove itself to the world, Rwandans are very reluctant to speak. In fact, never have I had such a hard time getting people to talk to the BBC. 'So sorry, I can talk to you for background but I can't go on the air,' they would say, or: 'I would love to help you, but I can't get involved in anything political.' Call after call looking for contributors was met with very polite but firm refusal. 'Even if they agree to come on, they won't tell you the truth. They'll tell you what they think they're supposed to tell you,' was the refrain I heard over and over, as I made calls and contacts before we went. Even Rwandans would say it, 'We don't even tell the truth to each other. Maybe in the family, yes, but to outsiders, no.' [...]"


"NY Appeals Court Rules for Canadian Energy Company"
Associated Press dispatch on, 2 October 2009
"A federal appeals court in New York has ruled that a lawsuit alleging that a Canadian energy company aided genocide in its pursuit of oil in Sudan was properly thrown out. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan agreed Friday with a 2006 judge's ruling that found there was no credible evidence to support the claims against Calgary-based Talisman Energy Inc. The company is Canada's biggest independent oil and gas exploration and production company. A 2001 lawsuit seeking unspecified damages was brought by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan on behalf of current and former residents of southern Sudan who suffered injuries during six years of a decades-long conflict in the region. Both the Canadian and U.S. governments had opposed the lawsuit."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Stopping Investment in Sudan:
Activists Use Tools of Capitalism to Fight Darfur Genocide"

By Henryk M. Broder
Spiegel Online, 21 September 2009
"The non-profit organization Investors Against Genocide is trying to dissuade Americans from investing in companies that help fund the genocide in Darfur. But, as a recent shareholder meeting showed, not everyone wants to put principle before profit. In her career as a family lawyer, Mary Haskell made good money and saved enough to be able to retire at 60. ... Then a friend took her along to a talk about the situation in Sudan's wartorn Darfur region. 'I knew from the newspapers what was happening there, but that evening I realized I didn't know anything,' she recalls. Now, two years later, Haskell is at a shareholder meeting in Boston. She steps up to take the cordless microphone, and asks a question. 'Why isn't Exxon, an American company, allowed to do business in Sudan, while Fidelity is allowed to invest in funds that have shares in companies involved with the Sudanese government, like Petrochina?' She has summed up the problem in a nutshell. 'You can picture it as a doll inside a doll,' she explains. Fidelity is an investment trust managing assets worth billions, which come from companies, institutions and private investors like Mary Haskell and her late husband. Fidelity invests this money in funds that have in turn invested their capital in businesses around the world. In this way Haskell too has a share in Petrochina, a Chinese company that buys crude oil from Sudan. 'The revenue from this business helps the Sudanese government finance the genocide in Darfur,' she says. In a bid to help stop the bloodbath, Haskell registered for a recent Fidelity Trust shareholder meeting. The meeting was held on Aug. 14 in a conference room in a high-rise in Boston, next to the city's South Station. Theoretically, it could just as well have been held in the coffee shop next door, since aside from Haskell and her seven friends from the non-profit organization Investors Against Genocide, no other investors showed up. Nonetheless, the small group was taken very seriously. ... After clearing up a few procedural questions, the chairman turned the floor over to Eric Cohen, the founder of Investors Against Genocide. The visibly nervous Cohen read his statement from a sheet of paper. 'Many would suppose that today, 64 years after the end of the Holocaust and 15 years after the genocide in Rwanda, no company which values the public's trust would attempt to profit from connections to genocide,' he began. 'Looking back, who would invest in firms that sought to profit by selling Zyklon-B gas to the Nazis or machetes for the genocide in Rwanda? Six years after the start of the bloodshed in Darfur and five years after it was recognized as genocide by the US Congress, Cohen said, 'we see that this problem is neither theoretical nor historical.' [...]"


"Book Documents Holocaust in FSU", 1 October 2009
"A new encyclopedia documents the history of the Holocaust in the former Soviet Union. The book is a project of the Russian Holocaust Center and Rosspen publishing house. Ilya Altman, leader of the project and co-chair of the Russian Holocaust Center of Moscow; Alla Gerber, president of the Moscow Holocaust Foundation; and Anatoly Podolsky, director of the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies, presented the encyclopedia Thursday at a seminar on the Holocaust. Leaders of the project, scientists, formers prisoners of ghettos and concentration camps, and educators particpated in the seminar at the Institution of Political, Ethnic and National Studies of the Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences in Kiev. The 'Encyclopedia of [the] Holocaust on the territory of the USSR' features newly discovered and mostly unpublished photos, facts and recollections. The book also contains documents that shed new light on Jewish life during the occupation and Holocaust. The encyclopedia includes articles by nearly 100 authors from 12 countries, including biographical articles and those devoted to the key issues of the Holocaust. The authors used materials from more than 70 archives and museums in the Russian Federation and former Soviet countries, as well as Israel, Germany, Poland, the United States and France. Some of the articles were written by former concentration camp and ghetto prisoners, as well as survivors. One thousand copies of the book, in Russian, were printed."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Grayson Regrets Comparing Health Care Crisis to Holocaust", 2 October 2009
"Florida Rep. Alan Grayson, who has drawn fire for saying Republicans want Americans to 'die quickly' if they get sick, expressed regret Friday for comparing the health care crisis to a 'holocaust.' Grayson vowed not to use the term again in a letter he sent Friday to the Andrew Rosenkranz, Florida regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, a prominent Jewish organization that fights anti-Semitism. Grayson evoked the Holocaust during a speech on the House floor Wednesday even though he wasn't referring to the genocide of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. 'I call upon all of us to do our jobs for the sake of America, for the sake of those dying people and their families,' Grayson said. 'I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America.' Grayson, who is Jewish and says he has relatives who died in the Holocaust, said he wrote the letter to address the concerns his comments caused. 'In no way did I mean to minimize the Holocaust,' Grayson wrote in the letter obtained by 'I regret the choice of words, and I will not repeat it.' Grayson added that he is a 'staunch' supporter of Israel and has repeatedly called for action against Iran to avoid another Holocaust. Rosenkranz told Grayson was responding to a letter he sent him stating the group's position that led to a phone conversation between the two on Thursday. 'It's an improper use of Holocaust imagery,' Rosenkranz said he told Grayson. 'It should never be used. A civil discourse regarding the health debate is one thing but comparing it to perhaps the world's worst atrocity in the history of mankind is unfortunate and after speaking with him, he said he regrets making the remark.' Rosenkranz said it didn't make a difference whether Grayson was using the broader definition of 'holocaust.' 'I think it's important to note that when you hear the word "holocauast" today, most people think of the genocide of six million Jews and that was never a point of contention between the two of us.' Grayson still refuses to apologize for his 'die quickly' comments that he made on Tuesday. His re-election campaign poked fun at the GOP for demanding an apology. [...]"
[n.b. See story immediately below.]


"Study Links 45,000 US Deaths to Lack of Insurance"
By Susan Heavey
Reuters dispatch, 17 September 2009
"Nearly 45,000 people die in the United States each year -- one every 12 minutes -- in large part because they lack health insurance and can not get good care, Harvard Medical School researchers found in an analysis released on Thursday. 'We're losing more Americans every day because of inaction ... than drunk driving and homicide combined,' Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters. Overall, researchers said American adults age 64 and younger who lack health insurance have a 40 percent higher risk of death than those who have coverage. The findings come amid a fierce debate over Democrats' efforts to reform the nation's $2.5 trillion U.S. healthcare industry by expanding coverage and reducing healthcare costs. President Barack Obama's has made the overhaul a top domestic policy priority, but his plan has been besieged by critics and slowed by intense political battles in Congress, with the insurance and healthcare industries fighting some parts of the plan. The Harvard study, funded by a federal research grant, was published in the online edition of the American Journal of Public Health. It was released by Physicians for a National Health Program, which favors government-backed or 'single-payer' health insurance. An similar study in 1993 found those without insurance had a 25 percent greater risk of death, according to the Harvard group. The Institute of Medicine later used that data in its 2002 estimate showing about 18,000 people a year died because they lacked coverage. Part of the increased risk now is due to the growing ranks of the uninsured, Himmelstein said. Roughly 46.3 million people in the United States lacked coverage in 2008, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last week, up from 45.7 million in 2007. Another factor is that there are fewer places for the uninsured to get good care. Public hospitals and clinics are shuttering or scaling back across the country in cities like New Orleans, Detroit and others, he said. Study co-author Dr. Steffie Woolhandler said the findings show that without proper care, uninsured people are more likely to die from complications associated with preventable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. [...]"


"Chavez, Ahmadinejad Differ on Holocaust", 3 October 2009
"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he does not agree with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's assertion that the Holocaust never occurred. In an interview Sept. 24 with CNN's Larry King, Chavez, who used his recent trip to the United Nations as a pulpit to criticize Israel, stopped short of condemning the Iranian president, whom Chavez has said is among Venezuela’s closest allies. 'I do not deny the Jewish Holocaust. And I condemn it,' Chavez said. 'But in South America, when the Europeans arrived, there were close to 90 million Indians; 200 years later, we only had 4 million remaining. That was a holocaust. And the Europeans denied this holocaust.' Chavez, who severed diplomatic relations with Israel last January following its military offensive in Gaza, accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza during his speech Sept. 24 to the U.N. General Assembly. Chavez said his criticisms were directed toward the government of Israel and not its citizens. On King's show, Chavez continued to criticize Israel, calling it a 'war-mongering' country."
[n.b. I wish the guy wouldn't pal around with that denialist doofus Ahmadinejad, but otherwise Chavez seems right on all counts.]


"China's 'Cancer Villages' Bear Witness to Economic Boom"
By Tan Ee Lyn
Reuters dispatch, 16 September 2009
"One needs to look no further then the river that runs through Shangba to understand the extent of the heavy metals pollution that experts say has turned the hamlets in this region of southern China into cancer villages. The river's flow ranges from murky white to a bright shade of orange and the waters are so viscous that they barely ripple in the breeze. In Shangba, the river brings death, not sustenance. 'All the fish died, even chickens and ducks that drank from the river died. If you put your leg in the water, you'll get rashes and a terrible itch,' said He Shuncai, a 34-year-old rice farmer who has lived in Shangba all his life. 'Last year alone, six people in our village died from cancer and they were in their 30s and 40s. Cancer casts a shadow over the villages in this region of China in southern Guangdong province, nestled among farmland contaminated by heavy metals used to make batteries, computer parts and other electronics devices. Every year, an estimated 460,000 people die prematurely in China due to exposure to air and water pollution, according to a 2007 World Bank study. Yun Yaoshun's two granddaughters died at the ages of 12 and 18, succumbing to kidney and stomach cancer even though these types of cancers rarely affect children. The World Health Organization has suggested that the high rate of such digestive cancers are due to the ingestion of polluted water. 'It's because of Daboshan and the dirty water,' said the 82-year-old grandmother. 'The girls were always playing in the river, even our well water is contaminated,' Yun told Reuters during a visit to the village. The river where the children played stretches from the bottom of the Daboshan mine, owned by state-owned Guangdong Dabaoshan Mining Co Ltd, past the ramshackle family home. Its waters are contaminated by cadmium, lead, indium and zinc and other metals. The villagers use well water in Shangba for drinking but tests published by BioMed Central in July show that it contains excessive amounts of cadmium, a heavy metal that is a known carcinogen, as well as zinc which in large quantities can damage the liver and lead to cancer. 'China has many "cancer villages" and it is very likely that these increased cases of cancer are due to water pollution,' said Edward Chan, an official with Greenpeace in southern China. But it's not just water, the carcinogenic heavy metals are also entering the food chain. Mounds of tailings from mineral mining are discarded alongside paddy fields throughout the region. [...]"
[n.b. Hmmm, half a million deaths a year, arguably intentional, regular as clockwork, widely acknowledged, but unexamined in a genocide-studies context.]


"Where Have All the Women Gone?"
By Johann Hari
The Independent, 14 September 2009
"As soon as I started reading this cry against the global wasting of women's lives [Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, 'Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide'], I could smell Shahnaz's face -- what was left of it -- again. By the time I met her in a hospital in Bangladesh, Shahnaz's face flesh was a mess of charred meat: Her skin, the soft tissue of her cheeks, and the bones beneath had been burned away. Her nose was gone, replaced by two flared holes. Her lips hung down over her chin like melted wax. Her left eyelid couldn't close, so a trail of tears was forever slowly tracking down over the wounds. Shahnaz was 21 years old, and her husband had just thrown acid in her face. Her 'crime'? To insist on continuing her studies -- she loved science and poetry -- when her husband wanted her to have babies. She smelled of a day-old barbecue left out in the rain. In much of the world today, it is Shahnaz, not her husband, who would be judged to be in the wrong. For them, a woman is there to be a servile baby machine, and if she refuses, she can be beaten, raped, or burned with impunity. New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and his Chinese-American wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have written an impassioned exposé of this subjugation—and a roadmap to equality. They start with an extraordinary fact that shows how deep this abuse runs. Today, now, more than 100 million women are missing. They have vanished. In normal circumstances, women live longer than men -- but China has 107 males for every 100 females in its overall population, India has 108, and Pakistan has 111. Where have these women gone? They have been killed or allowed to die. Medical treatment is often reserved for boys, while violence against women is routine. More girls are killed in this "gendercide" each decade than in all the genocides of the 20th century. This year, another 2 million girls will 'disappear.' But this isn't considered a story. While we rightly roared at racial apartheid, we act as though gender apartheid is a natural, immutable fact. With absolutely the right Molotov cocktail of on-the-ground reporting and hard social science, Kristof and WuDunn blow up this taboo. They ask: What would we do if we believed women were equal human beings, with as much right to determine their life story as men? How would we view the world differently? We would start by supporting the millions of women who are fighting back. This isn't merely a story of victims; it is predominantly a story of heroines. [..]"