Thursday, May 27, 2010

International Justice

Amnesty's Report Condemns "Politicisation of Justice"
By Caroline Hawley
BBC Online, May 27, 2010
"Amnesty International has criticised the 'politicisation of international justice' in its annual report, which documents torture in 111 countries. The human rights group accuses powerful governments of subordinating justice to political self-interest and of shielding allies from scrutiny. It expresses particular concern over possible war crimes committed during fighting in Sri Lanka last year. The report also criticises the UN for its failure to intervene. Thousands of people were killed during the war, and a UN spokesman described the situation in northern Sri Lanka at the time as a 'bloodbath.' But Amnesty says that 'power plays' at the UN Human Rights Council led to member states approving a resolution drafted by the Sri Lankan government, complimenting itself on its success against the Tamil Tigers. 'By the end of the year, despite further evidence of war crimes and other abuses, no-one had been brought to justice,' Amnesty's Secretary General Claudio Cordone says. 'One would be hard pressed to imagine a more complete failure to hold to account those who abuse human rights.' In its report, Amnesty also cites the United States and European Union for using their position with the UN Security Council 'to continue to shield Israel from strong measures of accountability for its actions in Gaza.' But it says that there have been positive developments over the past year as well. [...]"

Ukraine / Russia / Stalinism

Springtime for Stalin
By Timothy Snyder
New York Review of Books, May 26, 2010
Photo: "People attending the unveiling of a new Joseph Stalin monument, Zaporizhia, Ukraine, May 5, 2010" (Sergei Supinsky/Getty).
"Three and a half months after a Ukrainian court convicted Stalin of genocide against the Ukrainian nation during the famine of 1932–1933, a new monument in honor of the Soviet dictator has been erected in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhia. Separating the two events was this year's Ukrainian presidential election, in which Viktor Yushchenko, who had pursued a radically anti-Stalinist memory policy, was defeated and replaced by Viktor Yanukovych, who promised to avoid extremes and unite the nation. Though Yanukovych would prefer to steer clear of such ostentatious nostalgia for Stalin, he is responsible for a remarkable change in mood. ... Yanokovych told the Council of Europe in late April that the deliberate starvation of the three million inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine by the Stalinist regime was not genocide, but rather a 'common tragedy for all people who lived in the former Soviet Union.' His bland formulation blurs important truths.

United States / Genocide of Native Americans

MN Historian Calls Ft. Snelling "Site Of Genocide"
By Pat Kessler
WCCO (Minneapolis), May 26, 2010
"Fort Snelling is one of Minnesota's most popular tourist attractions, daily re-enacting Minnesota's 19th century frontier life. However, critics say a darker part of the Fort's history hasn't been told. They say Fort Snelling wasn't just a frontier outpost; it was a concentration camp for Dakota. Waziyatawin, of Granite Falls, holds a doctorate in history from Cornell. She says Fort Snelling needs an extreme makeover. She wants it torn down. 'It feels like a constant assault on our Dakota humanity,' said Waziyatawin. Waziyatawin's ancestors were among those caught up in Minnesota's bloody Dakota War in 1862. That winter, 1,700 Dakota, mostly women and children, were imprisoned outside the Fort. Hundreds died from disease, exposure and murder before their forced removal from Minnesota. Thirty-eight were hung at Mankato, still the largest mass execution in US history.

Jamaica / Gendercide

Jamaican Army Accused of Murdering Innocents in Battle to Arrest Drug Lord
By James Bone
The Times, May 27, 2010
"Residents of a besieged Jamaican slum have accused the army of shooting indiscriminately and burning victims' bodies in a rampage through their neighbourhood hunting for an alleged drug baron. Officials said that most of those killed in the search for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, who is wanted by the United States, were young men near barricades or entrances to buildings who were fighting to prevent police from executing an arrest warrant issued last week. ... Annette Marshall ... who sells jewellery at a local market, said that soldiers shot dead her neighbour when he opened his back door to see what was happening. When his elderly mother went out to help him, she was also shot and wounded, she said. ... Ms. Marshall made claims -- echoed by other Tivoli Gardens residents in calls to local radio stations -- that soldiers were hauling young men out of homes and shooting them. She also said that she had seen security forces burning bodies near the abandoned Public Works Department building near her home. 'They shoot them in the head, throw them on the fire and light the fire.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Totalitarianism / Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt Considered Today: Totalitarianism, Genocide and the Need for Thought
By Cynthia Haven
Stanford Report, May 25, 2010
"The 20th century world of philosophy did not, as a rule, create superstars. Hannah Arendt was an exception -- almost from the time she coined the phrase that has become a cliché, 'banality of evil,' to describe the 1961 trial of Nazi Adolf Eichmann in a series of articles for The New Yorker. She acquired a cult status that her mentors, philosophers Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger, could hardly imagine. Thirty-five years after her death, the German-Jewish political theorist, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition and Life of the Mind, among other works, is an international industry, with new letters, commentaries and biographies published every year. But perhaps her message has been obscured by celebrity. A scholarly conference at Stanford attempted to redress the imbalance in its own way with a recent two-day workshop, 'Hannah Arendt and the Humanities: On the Relevance of Her Work Beyond the Realm of Politics,' sponsored by the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Scholars from around the world discussed the life and thought of one of the most seminal and influential political philosophers of the last century. [...]"

France / Rwandan Genocide

Rwandan Genocide Suspect Arrested in France
Agence France-Presse dispatch on Google News, May 26, 2010
Photo: AFP
"French police on Wednesday arrested a Rwandan doctor accused of taking part in the 1994 genocide, the latest suspect forced by Paris to answer allegations of atrocities. Eugene Rwamucyo, who last month was dismissed from his hospital post in northern France, is wanted by Kigali for allegedly planning and carrying out atrocities in the Butare region of southern Rwanda. The doctor, aged in his 50s, was on an Interpol watch list and wanted in Paris in connection with a complaint filed by the families of genocide victims for crimes against humanity. His arrest came nearly three months after police detained Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of Rwanda's assassinated ex-president, and one of the alleged masterminds of the genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus. It also follows President Nicolas Sarkozy's landmark trip to Kigali in March during which he said France would do everything possible to ensure that 'all those responsible for the genocide are found and are punished.' Sarkozy is to welcome Rwandan President Paul Kagame to Nice next week as one of the forty-odd African leaders invited to a France-Africa summit. [...]"

Sudan / International Tribunals

Hague Court Tells UN Sudan Protecting Suspects
Reuters dispatch, May 26, 2010
"The Sudanese government is protecting suspects wanted for war crimes in Darfur instead of arresting them to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), judges told the UN Security Council on Wednesday. The formal notification by pre-trial judges at the ICC, the world's first permanent war crimes court, is aimed at increasing pressure on Sudan and its president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, also charged with war crimes by the Hague-based court. Bashir is due to be inaugurated on Thursday after being declared the winner of Sudan's first open elections in 24 years last month. The UN's top two officials in Sudan will attend the ceremony despite calls by human rights groups for a boycott.

Serbia / Srebrenica Massacre / International Tribunals

Mladic is Dead, Family Tells War Crimes Tribunal
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic
The Independent, May 26, 2010
Photo: AP
"The family of the Bosnian Serb war-time commander Ratko Mladic is seeking to bring the search for the genocide suspect to an end by having him declared legally dead. In a move that they said they hoped would draw a line under seven years of doubt, and which public officials dismissed as a mockery of state institutions, the family's legal team announced yesterday that they would put their demand to the Serbian authorities within days. Lawyer Milos Saljic told Belgrade B92 TV that the family wants this because of the 'freezing of his pension and property and harassment the family is exposed to.' Mladic is being hunted by the international war crimes tribunal for the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys after the fall of the UN-protected enclave of Srebrenica. The crime, committed by the Bosnian Serb Army in July 1995, remains the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War.

India / "Honour" Killings

Why Are Hindu Honor Killings Rising in India?
By Madhur Singh, May 25, 2010
"[...] Though Western readers associate the term more with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan than with 21st century India, honor killings are shockingly frequent in villages in the northern and northwestern parts of the country, where those daring to cross the barriers of caste are made to pay with their lives. Mostly, these cases are confined to the inside pages of newspapers, but the Nirupama case -- in urban, educated, middle-class India -- has hit the front pages. Activists say dozens of people, both women and men, are killed for 'honor' every year, falling victim to the deeply entrenched caste system, which dictates an individual's social standing based on the caste they are born into. The majority of these killings take place in the agrarian states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where land ownership and caste go hand in hand and an honor culture thrives by maintaining caste and gender hierarchies. [...]"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Spain / Universal Jurisdiction

International Legal and Human Rights Groups Petition UN to Support Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzón and Independence of Judiciary
Center for Constitutional Rights (press release), May 24, 2010
"Invoking the fundamental principle of the right to an independent and impartial judiciary, Spanish Judge Balthasar Garzón has received strong support from ten international organizations of jurists and human rights advocates. Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, the Asian Legal Resource Centre, Lawyers Without Borders Canada, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights, the World Organisation Against Torture, the National Lawyers Guild, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and Asociación Española por el Derecho Humano a la Paz (AEDIDH) have joined in submitting a formal request for action by the United Nations on his behalf.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Guatemala / Dos Erres Massacre

Guatemala: Massacre Investigation Breakthrough
By David T. Rowlands
Green Left Weekly, May 23, 2010
Photo: Image of Guatemala's most brutal president, Efrain Rios Montt, with words from a poem by Chilean Pablo Neruda: 'For the one who gave the order of agony, I ask for punishment' (
"Recently declassified documents from US archives have shed further light on the extent of US complicity in Guatemalan human rights crimes, one of Latin America's most brutal examples of population control. The hard-working farmers of Dos Erres, in Peten department, had never asked for much -- just a few acres of recently-cleared land from which to scratch a meagre living in a country racked by violence. When armed guerrillas cut across their land six months prior to December 7, 1982, community leaders had done everything possible to placate the national army, even inviting the soldiers in for inspections. They had nothing to hide, they said. But a psychopathic military killing machine had already condemned them to death on the grounds that they were the soil in which the seed of resistance grows.

Cambodian Genocide / Cham and Vietnamese Minorities

Khmer Rouge Genocide Charge Marks Milestone for Minorities, May 24, 2010
Photo: "Cham Muslims in Cambodia reviewing material on the ECCC" (Brendan Brady/IRIN).
"As judges at Cambodia's Khmer Rouge tribunal decide whether to include genocide as a charge in the closing order, advocates say prosecuting the crime would represent a milestone for official recognition of the rights of the country's Vietnamese and Muslim minorities. 'There is still discrimination against the Cham, so this sends an important message that Muslims in Cambodia are part of the country,' Lor Chunty, a lawyer representing more than 200 Cham Muslim civil parties in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), told IRIN. Estimates suggest there are more than 300,000 Cham Muslims living in Cambodia and put the number of ethnic Vietnamese much higher than the government figure of 100,000 -- although the vast majority of Cambodia's 14.7 million people are Buddhist ethnic Khmers.

Genocide in Art and Literature

Genocide Education Project Offers Book Recommendations
The Armenian Reporter, May 24, 2010
"April was Genocide Prevention Month. Not only does the anniversary of the first modern genocide of the 20th century, the Armenian Genocide, fall within April, but it is also the month in which the Holocaust, the Rwandan, Bosnian and Cambodian genocides are remembered. Even though the month has passed, simple actions can be taken each month to ensure these genocides are remembered appropriately. This month consider contributing a genocide-related book to your local university, public or high school library. One book to consider as a donation to a local library is Evoking Genocide: Scholars and Activists Describe the Works that Shaped their Lives. This new anthology was published last fall and includes several essays from scholars affiliated with The Genocide Education Project. The collection was edited by Adam Jones, Ph.D., and published by Key Publishing House. These personal essays chronicle how art and media influenced the authors' decisions to become genocide scholars and genocide prevention activists.

Cambodia / International Tribunals

Cambodia's Khmer Rouge Trial Verdict Due July 26
Associated Press dispatch on Google News, May 24, 2010
"Cambodia's genocide tribunal announced Monday that it will give its verdict in July in the case of a notorious Khmer Rouge prison chief accused of crimes against humanity, war crimes, murder and torture. Lars Olsen, spokesman for the U.N.-backed tribunal, said the court will hand down the verdict against Kaing Guek Eav, better known as Duch, on July 26. Duch, 67, commanded the notorious S-21 prison where as many as 16,000 people were tortured before being sent for execution in the late 1970s. He is the first senior Khmer Rouge figure to face trial, and the only one to acknowledge responsibility for his actions. He was tried last year. The tribunal is seeking justice for an estimated 1.7 million people who died from execution, overwork, disease and malnutrition under the 1975-79 communist Khmer Rouge regime.

Sudan / United States

US Fears New War, Genocide in Sudan by 2011, May 24, 2010
"The US Director of National Intelligence has warned that civil war could again erupt in Sudan. Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has been closely monitoring the erosion of peace arrangements in southern Sudan. They said both the southerners as well as the Khartoum regime have been rearming for what could result in another war in 2011. 'A new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in southern Sudan,' US National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair said. The administration has acknowledged that U.S. efforts to determine the fate of southern Sudan were failing. Officials said Khartoum and the southern Sudanese administration have not kept pace with the schedule for a referendum on independence, including delineating borders and oil resources.

Colombia / Paramilitarism

Colombian President's Brother Said to Have Lead [sic] Death Squads
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, May 24, 2010
"Colombian President Álvaro Uribe will leave office in August having largely succeeded in winning control of once-lawless swaths of countryside from Marxist rebels, an accomplishment partly made possible by more than $6 billion in US aid. But Uribe's government has also been tarnished by scandals, including accusations in congressional hearings that death squads hatched plots at his ranch in the 1980s and revelations that the secret police under his control spied on political opponents and helped kill leftist activists. Now a former police major, Juan Carlos Meneses, has alleged that Uribe's younger brother, Santiago Uribe, led a fearsome paramilitary group in the 1990s in this northern town that killed petty thieves, guerrilla sympathizers and suspected subversives. In an interview with The Washington Post, Meneses said the group's hit men trained at La Carolina, where the Uribe family ran an agro-business in the early 1990s. The revelations threaten to renew a criminal investigation against Santiago Uribe and raise new questions about the president's past in a region where private militias funded with drug-trafficking proceeds and supported by cattlemen wreaked havoc in the 1990s.

Israel / South Africa / Nuclearism

Revealed: How Israel Offered to Sell South Africa Nuclear Weapons
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, May 24, 2010
"Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons. The 'top secret' minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them 'in three sizes.' The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that 'the very existence of this agreement' was to remain secret. The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of 'ambiguity' in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

United States / Anti-Semitism

Fred Malek's Anti-Semitic Past Makes Him Unfit to Chair a State Government Panel
By Timothy Noah, May 21, 2010
"On May 7 Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell appointed Fred Malek chairman of his Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring. McDonnell, a conservative Republican who assumed office in January, had achieved unwelcome national attention a month earlier when he declared April 'Confederate History Month' without mentioning that the Confederates fought to preserve slavery (because, he explained to reporters, slavery did not rate as one of the issues 'most significant for Virginia'). ... But Jewish groups have been slow to protest the appointment of Malek, whose most noteworthy prior experience in government reorganization dates to 1971, when Malek was a 34-year-old special assistant to President Richard Nixon. At Nixon's request, Malek produced a memo denoting the number of Jews employed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Malek then arranged the demotion of at least four people with Jewish-sounding surnames. (He didn't actually know who was Jewish and who wasn't; he guessed based on their names.) It was the last recorded act of official anti-Semitism by the United States government.

Vietnam / United States / Agent Orange

Vietnam, US Still in Conflict over Agent Orange
By Ben Stocking
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, May 23, 2010
"Her children are 21 and 16 years old, but they still cry through the night, tossing and turning in pain, sucking their thumbs for comfort. Tran Thi Gai, who rarely gets any sleep herself, sings them a mournful lullaby. ... Gai's children -- both with twisted limbs and confined to wheelchairs -- were born in a village that was drenched with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. She believes their health problems were caused by dioxin, a highly toxic chemical in the herbicide, which US troops used to strip communist forces of ground cover and food. Thirty-five years after the end of the Vietnam War, its most contentious remaining legacy is Agent Orange. Eighty-two percent of Vietnamese surveyed in a recent Associated Press-GfK Poll said the United States should be doing more to help people suffering from illnesses associated with the herbicide, including children born with birth defects.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Spain / Spanish Civil War / Universal Jurisdiction

Crusading Spain Judge Garzon Himself a Defendant
By Henry Chu
The Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2010
Photo: "People holding pictures of victims of the Franco regime take part in a demonstration in support of Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon in Madrid on Thursday." (Pedro Armestre, AFP/Getty Images)
"Is it a horrible irony or poetic justice? For years, Baltasar Garzon has been Spain's most controversial crusader, a judge on a mission to fight whatever he thinks is an abuse of power wherever he sees it happening. He has used his courtroom here in Madrid to investigate allegations of torture at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to indict Osama bin Laden and, most famously, to go after former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Garzon, 54, is due in court again soon for yet another trial involving an alleged abuse of power. This time, though, he's the defendant. In a case that has divided the nation, Garzon is to be tried before Spain's highest court on charges that he deliberately overstepped his authority by opening an investigation of atrocities committed during the Spanish Civil War, the blood-soaked conflict that propelled Gen. Francisco Franco to power in the 1930s.

The Netherlands / Universal Jurisdiction

Genocides Dating Back to 1970 Can be Prosecuted in Netherlands
NIS News Bulletin, May 22, 2010
"The Netherlands can in the future prosecute and try suspects of genocides with retrospective effect from 1970. It will also become possible for suspects of genocide and war crimes in an unarmed conflict to be extradited and prosecution taken over from an international court, according to a proposed bill from Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin approved by the cabinet Friday. Under the present law, international crimes by aliens resident in the Netherlands can be prosecuted for international crimes, including genocide, which were committed after 1 October 2003. This means that in the case of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 that the Public Prosecutor (OM) cannot prosecute aliens resident in the Netherlands for genocide, but can only try to charge them for war crimes or torture. The cabinet however wants to amend the law in such a way that it makes prosecution possible for genocide committed after 24 October 1970. This is the date on which the international genocide treaty was endorsed by the Netherlands. 'In general, caution is appropriate in allowing retrospective effect, but it is unacceptable that an alien who has been guilty of genocide elsewhere should remain free from prosecution here,' according to the cabinet."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

United States / Japan / Hiroshima Atomic Bombing

"Would I Drop the Atomic Bomb Again? Yes, I Would"
By Ed Pilkington
The Guardian, May 21, 2010
"Theodore Van Kirk is sitting at his desk in a detached bungalow in the gated community where he lives outside Atlanta, Georgia. ... The absence of any plans is unusual, because Van Kirk is usually heavily in demand on 6 August. This year, he tells me, he has been invited to travel, all expenses paid, to Tinian, the tiny Pacific island where, 65 years ago on that same day, he set out with 11 other men on an aeroplane journey that would change the world. But this year, Van Kirk declined the invitation. He just didn't feel like it, he says. His uncharacteristic inactivity is explained by the fact that none of the 11 crew members who joined him on that fateful flight will be in Tinian this year, and without them he didn't have the stomach to go. Over the last 65 years they have fallen one by one. ...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Malawi / Violence against Homosexuals

Gay Couple Sentenced to Maximum 14 Years in Malawi
By Raphael Tenthani
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, May 20, 2010
"A judge sentenced a couple to the maximum 14 years in prison for unnatural acts and gross indecency Thursday under Malawi's anti-gay legislation. The harsh sentence had been expected in this conservative southern African country after the same judge convicted Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza earlier this week under laws dating from the colonial era. Chimbalanga, a 20-year-old hotel janitor, and his unemployed partner were arrested Dec. 27, the day after they celebrated their engagement with a party at the hotel where Chimbalanga worked -- an apparent first in Malawi. Michelle Kagari, deputy Africa director of Amnesty International called the sentence 'an outrage.' Her rights watchdog has adopted Chimbalanga and Monjeza as prisoners of conscience, and would 'continue to campaign on this matter and to work tirelessly to see that they are released unconditionally as soon as possible,' Kagari told The Associated Press by telephone from her office in Kampala, Uganda.

United Kingdom / Jewish Holocaust

Thousands Flock to Anne Frank Exhibition
By Keiron Tourish
BBC Online, May 19, 2010
"A new exhibition on the life of Anne Frank has attracted a huge number of visitors to the Alley Theatre in Strabane. In the first nine days about 4,000 people have been through its doors. The centrepiece is a life-size replica of her bedroom in the secret annexe above her father's business in Amsterdam. This very small area was where the Frank family and a number of Jewish refugees spent more than two years in hiding. They were eventually betrayed to the Nazis in the summer of 1944. It was in this room where Anne Frank kept her diary, committing to paper her hopes and dreams and her thoughts on conflict. People who visit the exhibition pass through a multi-media display which focuses on the themes which dominated the teenager's life. The horror of the holocaust and other genocide around the world is documented. About six millions Jews lost their lives in Europe during the Second World War.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ukraine / Russia / Holodomor

Medvedev Pays Tribute to Ukrainians Who Died in Stalin's Famine
By Tony Halpin
The Times, May 18, 2010
"Dmitri Medvedev lit a candle yesterday in memory of the victims of a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of people in Ukraine, as he moved to strengthen Russia's ties with its new pro-Kremlin President. Visiting a monument to what Ukrainians call the Holodomor, the Russian President placed the candle at the foot of a statue of a young girl clutching a sheaf of wheat. At least four million people died in what is described by some -- Viktor Yushchenko, the former President, among them -- as a genocide perpetrated by the regime of Joseph Stalin in 1932-33. That accusation infuriated the Kremlin, with Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's new President who accompanied Mr. Medvedev yesterday, being quick to countermand it. He called the famine a common tragedy suffered by people across the Soviet Union.

Capitalism / Genocide and Structural Violence

BP and the "Little Eichmanns"
By Chris Hedges, May 17, 2010
Photo: US Navy
"Cultures that do not recognize that human life and the natural world have a sacred dimension, an intrinsic value beyond monetary value, cannibalize themselves until they die. They ruthlessly exploit the natural world and the members of their society in the name of progress until exhaustion or collapse, blind to the fury of their own self-destruction. The oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico, estimated to be perhaps as much as 100,000 barrels a day, is part of our foolish death march. It is one more blow delivered by the corporate state, the trade of life for gold. But this time collapse, when it comes, will not be confined to the geography of a decayed civilization. It will be global. Those who carry out this global genocide -- men like BP's Chief Executive Tony Hayward, who assures us that 'The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume' -- are, to steal a line from Ward Churchill, 'little Eichmanns.' They serve Thanatos, the forces of death, the dark instinct Sigmund Freud identified within human beings that propels us to annihilate all living things, including ourselves.

Monday, May 17, 2010

South Africa / Sexual Violence against Females

South Africa's Shame: The Rise of Child Rape
By Rachel Shields
The Independent, May 16, 2010
Photo: Channel 4
"[...] Raped by two local teenagers, Ntombi suffered physical and mental wounds that were exacerbated by the treatment she received from the police and neighbours. Ostracised by friends in the large South African city of Port Elizabeth, many of whom believe that she should have kept quiet about the incident, Ntombi has since been threatened with further violence by her attackers, who were released on bail by police. ... While Ntombi's story is disturbing, in South Africa it is also commonplace. The country has the world's highest incidence of rape; a girl born there today has a one in three chance of finishing school, and a one in two chance of being raped. ... Like a third of the 200,000 children who are raped in South Africa every year, Fuzeka, 12, was attacked by a close relative. Staring straight ahead, she recounts how her father indecently assaulted her, and told her that when he slept with her he would use a condom as he is HIV positive. ... In order to get away from her father, Fuzeka's mother moved her and her younger sister into a tiny wooden shack with no electricity, running water nor toilet.

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Forces Blamed for Most Civilian Deaths
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, May 16, 2010
"Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians died in the last, bloody months of Sri Lanka's civil war, the International Crisis Group said in an investigative report to be released Monday, most of them as a result of government shelling of areas that were supposed to be safe zones. The report, which cites witness testimony, satellite images, documents and other evidence, calls for a wide-reaching international investigation into what it calls atrocities committed in the last months of the Sri Lankan government's war against the Tamil Tiger insurgency. ... Because the government barred independent journalists and most humanitarian workers from the war zone, the death toll of the final months of fighting, when at least 300,000 Tamil civilians were pinned down on a beach, caught between the rebels and government forces, is not known. United Nations workers counted about 7,000 dead in the last weeks of April, just before the last phase of the fighting, but diplomats, aid workers and human rights activists have long argued that those figures far underestimated the dead and did not include the final weeks of battle.

Rwanda / Rwandan Genocide

For Rwandan Students, Ethnic Tensions Lurk
By Josh Kron
The New York Times, May 16, 2010
"When Eva Mutoni's boyfriend of three years broke up with her, she realized she should have seen it coming. Ms. Mutoni, 25, whose mother is ethnic Tutsi and whose father is Hutu, and her boyfriend, a full-blooded Tutsi, were college sweethearts at the National University of Rwanda in Butare. 'A year into the relationship, we had a big talk about me being mixed,' she said. They weathered that discussion, aided by the fact that Ms. Mutoni identifies herself as Tutsi. But as they got older, she recalls, his family and some of his friends refused to accept his dating someone of mixed parentage. 'He knew he couldn't stay with me forever in Rwanda,' she said. 'To some, I'm just a Hutu girl.' Sixteen years after the Rwandan genocide, ethnicity remains an inescapable part of growing up for the young people who will determine the nation's future. And if the universities, where the government has focused its efforts on building a post-ethnic society, represent the great hope of coexistence, they have so far succeeded only in burying ethnic tensions just beneath the surface.

India / Naxalite Insurgency

Dozens Killed by India's Maoist Rebels in Bomb Attack
By Ashok Sharma
Associated Press dispatch in The Globe and Mail, May 17, 2010
"Maoist rebels blew up a bus filled with police and civilians Monday as it drove through central India, authorities said. News reports said 40 people were killed in the attack. The attack took place in the state of Chhattisgarh, which has been the site of fierce fighting between the Maoists and government forces in recent months. A passenger bus filled with civilians and police was travelling through the area Monday afternoon when it was hit by a rebel land mine, said Rajender Kumar Vig, a top police official in the area. Amarnath Upadhyaya, another senior police officer, said the front of the bus was destroyed and 40 to 60 people were on board. Police did not have initial casualty figures, he said. The Press Trust of India reported that at least 40 people were killed in the attack.

Germany / Anti-Semitism

Arson Attack on German Synagogue
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, May 17, 2010
"A synagogue in western Germany has been hit by an arson attack, with unknown perpetrators setting fire to eight corners of the building and throwing a Molotov cocktail against a window, prosecutors said Monday. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and there were no injuries or serious damage to the building, police said in a statement. Officers found several copies of a letter claiming responsibility for the attack which read, in badly worded German: 'As soon as you don't leave the Palestinians in peace, we won't let you in peace.' Prosecutor Klaus-Peter Mieth, however, told journalists in Worms that it was to early to draw conclusions about the perpetrators' political background. All possibilities are being investigated, German news agency DDP quoted him as saying. Police have set up a task force with 35 investigators.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Spain / Spanish Civil War / International Tribunals

A New Spanish Civil War (Editorial)
The Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2010
"For years, conservatives in Spain bristled as their most famous magistrate, Baltasar Garzon, pushed the boundaries of international law against former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet and human rights abusers in other countries, but they were powerless to stop him. When Spain's star judge turned his sights on Spanish Civil War atrocities, however, they joined forces with his many personal enemies and went after him, accusing him of opening old wounds and violating the country's 1977 amnesty law. Last week, a Supreme Court judge decided to bring the case to trial, and the General Council of the Judiciary voted in an emergency session to suspend Garzon. From the beginning, the case against Garzon has seemed to be motivated by political and personal vendettas, and the timing of these decisions is no exception.

United States / Native Americans

Symposium to Explore Schools' Use of Native American Names, Logos
By Eric Russell
Bangor Daily News, May 14, 2010
"In a state with four Native American tribes, school nicknames like Redskins, Braves, Warriors and simply, Indians, as well as their accompanying mascots, are offensive to many. Yet, while several Maine schools have changed their names and logos to reflect changing times, others are sticking with tradition. The debate is not new, but local author and college instructor Ed Rice will revisit the conversation by hosting a symposium today titled 'Respectful or Disgraceful?: Examining Maine School Use of Indian Nicknames and Mascots' ... Rice, who is well known for his advocacy of Louis Sockalexis, a Mainer and the first Native American to play Major League Baseball, stressed that the discussion is not meant to be a witch hunt.

Congo / Sexual Violence against Women

Haunted by Congo Rape Dilemma
By Anne Mawathe
BBC News, May 15, 2010
Photo: Agence France-Presse
"[...] Margot Wallstrom, the UN's special representative on sexual violence in conflict recently said the Democratic Republic of Congo was the 'rape capital of the world.' A host of different armed groups roam parts of eastern DR Congo and all are accused of horrific violence against women. ... Jocelyn Kelly, a researcher with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative's Gender-Based Violence programme, says the men that have survived these attacks on their families are extremely traumatised themselves: 'They say: "I can no longer look at my wife." And every time they see this woman, they see someone they were not able to protect. They feel like failures and the only way they can deal with it is to reject their wife and start over.' This is part of the damage that has been caused by people like Emmanuel, a former child soldier who is now 22 years old. ... He fought with the CNDP rebel group. Emmanuel says that they raped to show their anger with the authorities for neglecting them. 'Soldiers or rebels usually rape because we stay in isolated places and we don't get our pay -- even if it can come, it doesn't come on time. After living for a long time in the forest, you don't see women and so if one woman shows up then all of us, we profit.' [...]"

United States / Psychology of Genocide

Mass. Ph.D. Program Explores Genocide Psychology
By Bob Salsberg
Associated Press dispatch on Google News, May 15, 2010
"As a clinical psychologist, Cristina Andriani counseled victims of physical and sexual abuse, Vietnam War veterans and cult survivors. As a doctoral candidate, her understanding of trauma is expanding globally as she tries to unravel the psychological underpinnings of genocide. The first student in what Clark University in Worcester, Mass., calls the first postgraduate program of its kind in the world, Andriani is researching the deeper mysteries behind some of mankind's most horrifying atrocities of the last century, from the perspectives of both the tormentor and the tormented. While the political and historical aspects of the Holocaust and other mass killings have been extensively researched, scholars still ask: What ultimately leads one group of humans to so thoroughly and so brutally annihilate another group of humans? And what are the consequences for the survivors -- not only for the generation that experienced genocide, but for their descendants?

Serbia / Croatia / International Tribunals

Serb PM: Serbia Ready to Drop Genocide Case against Croatia
By Matthew Becker, May 16, 2010
Photo: Avala
"Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic stated in Zagreb that Serbia is ready to drop its genocide case against Croatia at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). He told Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor that Serbia is 'prepared to drop our suit, of course, if an agreement is reached for us to drop the suits at the same time, without any added conditions.' Kosor stated that she '... feels the same way and I am speaking in the name of the Croatian government that it is important to clearly stand against the crimes of Miloševic's politics, the evil of these policies, which were policies of an aggressor towards everyone, and that is not a bilateral question for the Croatian government.' Kosor gave the Serbian Prime Minister copies of translated documents, worth 8 million Euros, that were necessary for Serbia's European Union accession process. Cvetkovic expressed Belgrade's gratitude for the documents, and stated that his country is 'content' with Zagreb's European integration process. ...

Macedonia / Jewish Holocaust / Genocide Memorials

Macedonian Jews Erect World-Class Holocaust Museum
By John Dyer, May 16, 2010
"The construction cranes, heavy machinery and plumes of dust in Skopje's city center herald the final chapter in one of the Balkans' saddest tales. After years of delays, Macedonia's Jews are building a world-class museum to remember their near-extinction in the Holocaust. 'The highest percentage of Jews destroyed anywhere in the world -- including Poland -- was in Macedonia,' said Rahamin Mizrahi, vice president of the Jewish Community, a nonprofit overseeing the project. 'It was 98 percent of the Jews. From our people, no one came back. At least with this museum they will have a grave, not ashes spread around the fields.' Boosters hope the center's mission will resonate throughout former Yugoslavia, where genocide was committed in the 1990s for the first time in Europe since World War II. ... The Holocaust Center also illustrates a recent trend in Macedonia to more strongly assert the country's identity as an independent nation. The project dovetails conveniently, for example, with Skopje 2014, the government's controversial, $273 million plan to transform the city from a provincial seat into a full-fledged European capital. ...  Taxpayers are footing the bill for Skopje 2014, making it a subject for public debate. The center's costs, alternatively, are covered by a special fund created in 2000 from the assets of Macedonian Jewish families who perished in the Holocaust and left no heirs. But critics within the Jewish community nonetheless link the two, arguing the center's backers are overreaching in the same way the government is trying to do too much with Skopje 2014. [...]"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Spain / Criminal Tribunals

Who is Baltasar Garzón, and Why Should We Care?
By Kris Girardi
LA Examiner, May 12, 2010
"[...] International support of Judge Garzón has been overwhelming since the case against him began and numerous editorials in US and foreign newspapers resounding in their indignation at the Spanish Justice System and their belief in a political conspiracy to remove him from office. Fellow judges, writers, artists, university law professors, human rights organizations, genocide victims and their families and private citizens have signed countless open letters and formal protests, but to no avail. Even as of today, an invitation to serve as counselor to the International Criminal High Court in The Hague while on the seemingly inevitable judiciary 'probation' has been thwarted by Varela who appears to be in a huge hurry to initiate trial proceedings so that Garzón, who must obtain professional leave-of-absence permission during the pre-trial phase in order to work on the High Court, will be unsuccessful at bowing out gracefully for the time being.

Poland / Russia / Katyn Massacre

"Genocide" Text Points to Limits of Polish-Russian Reconciliation
By Andrew Rettman, May 12, 2010
"[European Union] MEPs have watered down a statement on the Soviet Union's killings of Polish officers in 1940 amid underlying tensions between Warsaw and Moscow. The communique by the EU-Russia inter-parliamentary delegation was adopted on Tuesday (11 May) and said in reference to the fateful flight in April of the late Polish president Lech Kaczynski: 'The presidential plane was carrying a delegation to Katyn, to commemorate a war crime having the character of genocide.' The first draft of the text, penned personally by Polish MEP Marek Migalski, who hails from the late president's right-wing Law and Justice party, had said more forcefully that the 1940 killings were 'genocide.' Other deputies, including the delegation chairman, German centre-left MEP Knut Fleckenstein, forced the alteration. ...

Kenya / International Criminal Court

In Kenya, International Criminal Court to Try Six Top Kenyans
By Scott Baldauf
The Christian Science Monitor, May 12, 2010
"Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), ended his visit to Kenya today after having met with victims of the post-election violence of early 2008 that killed some 1,300 people, and displaced some 300,000 others. Mr. Ocampo said that investigators had strong enough evidence to try six top Kenyans at the ICC at The Hague, with arrests warrants to be issued perhaps by the end of this year. But he did not name the six suspects. Ocampo's visit comes as the ICC investigation goes into high gear, interviewing dozens of witnesses and victims of the violence, in which organized mobs murdered neighbours based on ethnicity or chased them from their homes.

Iraq / Violence against Christians

The Ethnic Cleansing of Assyrians in Iraq Must Be Stopped
Assyrian International News Agency dispatch, May 13, 2010
"Over half of the 1.4 million Christians who lived in Iraq before the 2003 invasion have fled the country. If they could, most of the others would have departed as well if some nation was ready to take them in. Nearly every human rights organization and numerous parliaments are in agreement that an ethnic and religious cleansing has been underway in Iraq (report). Non-Muslims are not welcome any longer in large segments of the country. Kidnappings, rapes and executions are daily occurrences for the non-Muslims of Iraq. Sixty churches have been bombed, sometimes systematically on the very same day in different places in the country. One of the worst attacks happened on May 2nd. A busload of Christian Assyrian students was attacked between two checkpoints. In the place where they should have been safest, two roadside bombs were detonated.

Jewish Holocaust / Holocaust Denial / Holocaust Education

Arabs Have a Complex Relationship with the Holocaust
By Gilbert Achcar
The Guardian, May 12, 2010
"The issue of Holocaust denial in the Arab world has been widely covered in the media. Every public display of Holocaust denial by an Arab source is prominently reported and construed as further evidence of the pro-Nazi inclinations that Arabs, or Muslims, hold in their deepest hearts, especially when they are hostile to Israel. The deliberate provocations that the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, stages regularly contribute considerably to fostering this image. There is no dispute that Holocaust denial has been on the rise in Arab countries during the last two decades. ... Yet western-style Holocaust denial -- that is, the endeavour to produce pseudo-scientific proofs that the Jewish genocide did not happen at all or was only a massacre of far lesser scope than that commonly acknowledged -- is actually very marginal in the Arab world. Rather, manifestations of Holocaust denial among Arabs fall for the most part under two categories.

Sierra Leone / International Criminal Court

Trial of Liberia's Taylor Moved to New Court
Agence France-Presse dispatch on, May 13, 2010
"Former Liberian president Charles Taylor's war crimes trial is to be moved from a courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to the venue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), also in The Hague, the court trying him said Thursday. The move, effective from next Monday, 'is an acknowledgement of the increasing scheduling difficulties with ICC trials,' said a statement by the Special Court for Sierra Leone. 'Under the agreement, the Special Court will pay for all trial-related costs. Mr. Taylor's trial continues to be conducted by the Special Court.' The former warlord has been on trial since January 2008 on charges linked to the brutal 1991-2001 civil war in neighbouring Sierra Leone. His trial was moved from Sierra Leone to the Netherlands in 2006 because of fears that his presence in the African country could destabilise the region. Taylor would continue to be detained at the UN detention unit at Scheveningen in The Hague, said the statement. The ICC, the world's only independent, permanent tribunal trying genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, has three of its own trials running simultaneously. The STL, a UN tribunal set up in 2007 to try the suspected killers of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, still has no suspects in custody."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

United Kingdom / Srebrenica Massacre

War Crimes Court Wants Details on Prison Attack
Agence France-Presse dispatch on, May 13, 2010
"The president of the UN's Yugoslav war crimes court has requested a report from Britain on an attack on a Bosnian Serb war criminal in a British prison, the tribunal said Thursday. Patrick Robinson, president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, 'has requested that the United Kingdom furnish the tribunal with a report of the incident involving Mr. (Radislav) Krstic and the steps that are currently being taken in relation to it,' spokeswoman Nerma Jelacic said. Krstic, 62, was taken to hospital after being attacked by three inmates earlier this month at the high-security Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire, northern England, police said. The Sun newspaper said his throat was cut several times and he was stabbed in the head. Serving a 35-year sentence for aiding and abetting genocide, Krstic was transferred to Wakefield from The Hague in 2004. He was the first Bosnian Serb to be convicted on genocide charges over the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of more than 7,000 Muslim men and boys. Jelacic said Robinson had been in contact with British authorities, Krstic's lawyer and the Serbian government."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Israel / Palestine/ Deir Yassin Massacre

Photo: "A Palestinian survivor reacts 07 April 2005 during a memorial ceremony at the original site of her former village of Deir Yassin in Jerusalem." (Atta Hussein/AFP/Getty Images)

A Massacre of Arabs Masked by a State of National Amnesia
By Catrina Stewart
The Independent, May 10, 2010
"[...] Sixty-two years on, what really happened at Deir Yassin on 9 April remains obscured by lies, exaggerations and contradictions. Now Ha'aretz, a liberal Israeli newspaper, is seeking to crack open the mystery by petitioning Israel's High Court of Justice to release written and photographic evidence buried deep in military archives. Palestinian survivors of Deir Yassin, a village of around 400 inhabitants, claim the Jews committed a wholesale massacre there, spurring Palestinians to flee in the thousands, and undermining the long-held Israeli narrative that they left of their own accord. Israel's opposing version contends that Deir Yassin was the site of a pitched battle after Jewish forces faced unexpectedly strong resistance from the villagers. All of the casualties, it is argued, died in combat. In 2006, an Israeli arts student, Neta Shoshani, applied for access to the Deir Yassin archives for a university project, believing a 50-year embargo on the secret documents had expired eight years previously. She was granted limited access to the material, but was informed that there was an extended ban on the more sensitive documents. ... The current embargo runs until 2012. Defending its right to keep the documents under wraps, the Israeli state has argued that their publication would tarnish the country's image abroad and inflame Arab-Israeli tensions.

Serbia / Kosovo

Mass Grave Of Kosovo Victims Found In Serbia
By Jovana Gec
Associated Press dispatch in The Huffington Post, May 10, 2010
"Acting on tips from witnesses, Serbian war crimes prosecutors have discovered a mass grave believed to contain the bodies of 250 Albanians who were killed in Kosovo during the 1998-99 war there, then transported to Serbia and secretly buried to hide the atrocities, officials said Monday. The burial site -- hidden beneath a small building and a newly built parking lot -- is the fourth mass grave of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo that has been found in Serbia since 2001. Two others were discovered in Kosovo. In each case, most of the bodies were those of civilians, including women and children. The latest discovery is another example of the mass atrocities that were committed during the bloody Serb crackdown on the Kosovo separatists that killed at least 10,000 people and left nearly a million displaced. Hundreds of bodies of slain ethnic Albanians have been exhumed in Serbia and returned to Kosovo since Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was ousted from power in a popular revolt in 2000.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sudan / Darfur / African Union

Armed Men Ambush Darfur Peacekeepers, Two Killed
Reuters dispatch in The West Australian, May 8, 2010
"Armed men ambushed U.N.-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur Friday, killing two soldiers and seriously injuring three in Sudan's troubled west, the latest in a wave of attacks on the under-equipped force. Separately Darfur's main rebel group said Friday it had clashed twice with government troops in the past three days, warning more attacks would mean 'all-out war' and the collapse of a fragile peace process. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur, where mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in early 2003 accusing Khartoum of marginalising the remote arid region and sparking one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. 'The attackers fled when the convoy returned fire. The attack left two peacekeepers killed in action and three seriously wounded,' the peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID said in a statement. The peacekeepers were Egyptian, UNAMID said, urging the government to bring the unknown attackers to justice. Some 24 UNAMID soldiers have been killed since the mission was established in January 2008.

United Kingdom / Srebrenica Massacre

Radislav Krstic: Serbian War Criminal Attacked in British Jail
The Telegraph, May 8, 2010
Photo: AP
"A former Serbian general jailed on genocide charges for his role in the worst massacre in Europe since the Second World War has been attacked by inmates in a British prison. Radislav Krstic, 62, the first Bosnian Serb convicted of genocide for his role in the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica, had his neck slashed by three inmates at the high-security Wakefield Prison. The former general is serving his 35-year sentence for aiding and abetting genocide after being transferred to the prison from The Hague in 2004. Krstic's forces helped organise the slaughter of thousands of men and teenage boys in Europe's worst civilian massacre since the Second World War. A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: 'Police were called to Wakefield Prison at lunch time today to an allegation of assault.' He said the inmate was taken to hospital with 'serious injuries.' 'West Yorkshire Police are currently investigating the matter,' he said. 'Inquiries are at an early stage.' A Ministry of Justice spokesman confirmed a prisoner was assaulted by three inmates at 11.30am today. Sources said Krstic was in a serious condition when he was taken to hospital but was returned to jail this afternoon. They said Krstic sustained cuts to his neck."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Russia / Poland / Katyn Massacre

Russia Gives Poland Long-Sought Katyn Files
By Jim Heintz
Associated Press dispatch in The Seattle Times, May 8, 2010
"Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday turned over scores of volumes from an investigation into the Katyn massacre to his Polish counterpart, a move underlining Moscow's new willingness to repair long-troubled relations with Warsaw. The World War II massacre of some 20,000 Polish officers and other prominent citizens by Soviet secret police has been an issue that soured relations between the countries for decades. After decades of blaming the 1940 massacre on invading Nazi troops, the Soviet Union in 1990 acknowledged responsibility, part of Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost initiatives. But officials refused to refer to it as a genocide attempt -- a designation that Poland had sought because international law generally considers that genocide has no statue of limitations. The Soviet Union began a criminal investigation the same year, but it was closed in 2004. The chief military prosecutor later said the case was closed because the killings were not found to be genocide.

United States / Law of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity

Rhonda Copelon, Lawyer in Groundbreaking Rights Cases, Dies at 65
By Dennis Hevesi
Photo: Dith Pran (yes, that Dith Pran)
The New York Times, May 8, 2010
"Rhonda Copelon, a human rights lawyer who played a major role in several groundbreaking cases, including one that allowed victims of abuses in other countries to seek justice in American courts, died Thursday at her home in Manhattan. She was 65. The cause was ovarian cancer, said Nancy Stearns, a friend and colleague of Ms. Copelon's at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Ms. Copelon was a vice president of the center and a professor at the City University of New York School of Law at Queens College. In her 40-year career, she worked on cases involving gender-based violence, racial discrimination, government wiretapping, job discrimination and abortion rights. Ms. Copelon's work 'altered the bedrock of how US courts treat international human rights abuses,' Michelle J. Anderson, the dean of the CUNY School of Law, said in a statement.

Congo / Sexual Violence against Women

"Women sat outside the Heal Africa Transit Center in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, last year. The center helps with victims of sexual violence to recover and reintegrate." (Aubrey Graham/
Mothers in Congo Get Help in Raising Children of Rape
By Danielle Shapiro
Christian Science Monitor, May 9, 2010
"'How can I tell the child her father is someone who did this to me?' says young Ms. Pascaline, through an interpreter, as she slowly rolls a sock down her left leg, revealing mangled scars and burns just below her knee. Pascaline was held for eight months by the Interahamwe, a Hutu militia also known as the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), which has waged a brutal war throughout Congo's eastern corner since fleeing across the border after Rwanda's 1994 genocide. She was beaten and raped daily. She tried to escape once but her captors caught her. They contemplated killing her, but instead tortured her. She was four months pregnant at the time. Four years and one surgery later, Pascaline feels sad and angry, even with her daughter. Yet she knows Rolande is not to blame.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Russia / Stalinism

Crisis-Stricken Russians Nostalgic for Stalin
By Christian Neef and Matthias Schepp
Spiegel Online, May 6, 2010
"[...] On May 9, Russia celebrates the 65th anniversary of victory in what it calls the Great Patriotic War. Some 90,000 soldiers will march across Red Square in a parade, the likes of which Moscow hasn't seen in a long time. The country's military will participate with its latest missiles and 150 aircraft, as will soldiers representing Russia's former allies in World War II, the Americans, the British and the French. Josef Stalin will also take part, and not just in the memory of the three old people in Maloye Pizhalino. There has been a bitter dispute in Moscow for weeks over whether the city should be allowed to display images of the generalissimo to mark this anniversary and, if so, in which locations. Mayor Yuri Luzhkov had announced his intention to have posters of Stalin mounted in front of the Bolshoi Theater, at Gorky Park and Victory Park, and at the sites where the people's militias congregated during the war. A display of this magnitude hasn't happened since 1961, when Stalin's embalmed remains were taken from the mausoleum on Red Square and buried in a simple grave near the Kremlin wall. It was the same year Communist Party leader Nikita Khrushchev began his drive to remove his predecessor's influence from the public sphere, by changing the names of cities and places that had been named after Stalin. [...]"

Burundi / Violence against Albinos

Activists: Mother, Son Albinos Killed in Burundi
By Tom Odula
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, May 7, 2010
"Attackers in Burundi chopped off the limbs of a 5-year-old albino boy and pulled out his mother's eye, killing them over the belief that their body parts would bring wealth and success, human rights activists said Friday. Those deaths and other recent attacks in Tanzania are part of long pattern of violence against African albinos. At least 10,000 have been displaced or gone into hiding since attacks against them spiked in late 2007, the International Federation of the Red Cross says. Since then, 57 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and 14 in Burundi, said Vicky Ntetema with the rights group Under The Same Sun. The killings are fueled by superstitious beliefs that human albino body parts will bring others wealth and success, Ntetema said.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Rwanda / Rwandan Genocide

Photo: "Paul Rusesabagina, left, and Don Cheadle attend a premieere of Hotel Rwanda on Sunday, November 14, 2004, in New York City. - Tim Grant/MCT"

Hero of Hotel Rwanda Campaigns for Truth about Genocide
By Fletcher Farrar
Illinois Times, May 6, 2010
"Just when we thought Rwanda had reinvented itself into a genuine success story in Africa, and that Rwandan president Paul Kagame had become a star of international leadership, along comes the hero of Hotel Rwanda to tell us it isn't necessarily so. Paul Rusesabagina, portrayed in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda by actor Don Cheadle, speaks in Springfield 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 12, at the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Rusesabagina is disillusioned with Kagame, who led rebel forces that ended the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Kagame has been president since 2000 and faces reelection in August. He is widely credited not only with restoring order in Rwanda, but also with revitalizing the nation's economy. But Rusesabagina has been spreading the message that Rwanda's gains have come at the price of freedom, and that unless the international community somehow curbs Kagame's increasingly repressive ways and brings out the full story of the genocide, Rwanda's success could come undone. In a telephone interview with Illinois Times from his home in Brussels, Belgium, Rusesabagina said he will ask his Springfield audience to partner with him in his effort to bring out the truth about the genocide. 'So far, no one talks about the truth in Rwanda,' he says. 'They talk about unity and reconciliation. But people should never unite without the truth.'

Bangladesh / Bangladeshi Genocide

President for Early Trial of War Criminals
BSS dispatch in The New Nation (Dhaka), May 7, 2010
"President Zillur Rahman on Thursday urged the International Crimes Tribunal to hold the trial of crimes against humanity during the country's Great War of Liberation within shortest possible time. 'The trial of crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation is a demand of all countrymen,' he said while the members of the International Crimes Tribunal led by its Chairman Justice M. Nizamul Huq called on him at Bangabhaban here. The chairman of the tribunal was accompanied by two members of the tribunal Justice ATM Fazle Kabir and AKM Zahir Ahmed. During the meeting, the chairman of the tribunal explained to the President different features of the International Crimes Tribunal Act 1973 and its amendments in 2009 as well as other international tribunals and trials of crimes against humanity, conducted aftermath of the World War II. Chairman Justice Nizamul said the tribunal is firmly committed to holding the trial expeditiously to discharge the responsibilities bestow[ed] upon it. He apprised the President that the tribunal has already framed the rules for the trial as per the provision of the International Crimes Tribunal Act.

United States / Armenian Genocide

Obama's Approach to Affirming the Genocide Takes Things Further Than Any Other President Has
By Peter Balakian, May 6, 2010
"[...] If at this moment in U.S.-Turkish relations the State Department does not have the ethical courage to stand up to Turkey on the Armenian Genocide, Obama has taken a step forward in affirming it as president. In the future it could not be more appropriate for Obama, a former law professor, to note that Raphael Lemkin, the legal scholar who created the word 'genocide' in 1943, was compelled to pursue the legal concept of genocide as an international crime on the basis of what happened to the Armenians in 1915. ... Many of us in the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) and the human rights community hope that Obama will openly use the term Armenian Genocide that Raphael Lemkin first did when he coined it in the 1940's. With Obama, in his way, having taken a significant step toward a full acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide, there is potential for a new atmosphere in this country in which Turkish denial and coercion are no longer tolerated."

Germany / Nazism / Sociology of Genocide

The Bureaucracy of Genocide
By Sean McLachlan, May 7, 2010
"The typical image of a Nazi is a jackbooted thug gunning down innocent people. While there were all too many killers like that in the Third Reich, the majority of Nazis were civilians. It takes a lot of people to run a government and an army, and many Nazis never personally killed anyone. They were educated, middle-class bureaucrats who loved their children, were kind to their neighbors, and spent their workday running one of the most brutal regimes the world has ever seen. A new museum in Berlin examines the role of these mild-mannered perpetrators of genocide. The Topography of Terror Documentation Center opens today, the day before the 65th anniversary of the Third Reich's surrender to Allied forces. The museum is built over the site of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters. Exhibits explain how the bureaucracy worked, planning oppression and genocide with the same meticulous care and red tape that other governments plan road expansion schemes and educational policy.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

United States / Guatemalan Genocide

Massacre in Guatemala Leads to Arrest in South Florida
By Alfonso Chardy
The Miami Herald, May 6, 2010
"Over three days in early December 1982, 17 elite soldiers known as kaibiles entered a village in the tropical forest of northeast Guatemala's Petén region. They went house to house, rousing the inhabitants from sleep -- taking the women and children to a church. The men were shuttled to a school. Then the kaibiles killed the children and the adults either with blows to the head, throwing them alive into a well, or shooting them, according to survivors. Finally, as the soldiers prepared to leave the village -- known as Dos Erres or Two Rs -- they killed more people. The bodies were thrown into a village well, while the bodies of those killed outside town were left on the road or in bushes. In all, during three nightmarish days, kaibiles killed 251 children, women and men -- one of the worst massacres of the Guatemalan civil war. About 240,000 people were killed during the more than three-decade long conflict. On Wednesday, federal agents assigned by a specialized unit whose mission is to track down war-criminal suspects went to Palm Beach County and arrested Gilberto Jordán, of Delray Beach, one of three former kaibil unit soldiers that authorities say helped carry out the 1982 massacre.

Russia / United States / Katyn Massacre

Russia Owes Poland, World an Apology for Massacre, US Official Says
By Justine Jablonska, May 6, 2010
"Russia should apologize for the 1940 Katyn massacre of nearly 22,000 Polish prisoners of war, the chairman of the US Helsinki Commission said Wednesday. 'Russia needs a clear and unequivocal apology to the Polish people for what was done 70 years ago,' said Benjamin Cardin, who is also a Democratic U.S. senator from Maryland. Cardin made the remarks at a conference of scholars, experts and analysts from Poland, Russia and the US who met at the Library of Congress to discuss Katyn's significance and the future of Polish-Russian relations. Cardin also called on Russia to fully disclose all of its archives and records about Katyn. 'It's important to be able to document exactly what happened 70 years ago' using original documents, Cardin said. In the spring of 1940, nearly 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were executed one by one with a shot to the back of the head by Stalin's security police. The bodies were dumped into mass graves in a forest near Smolensk, Russia.

Namibia / Germany / Herero and Nama Genocides

Namibia: Herero and Nama Skulls to Be Preserved, Not Buried
By Brigitte Weidlich
The Namibian (Windhoek) on, May 6, 2010
"The skulls of erstwhile Herero and Nama prisoners of war under German colonial rule, which have been kept in boxes at German universities, should not be buried once they return to Namibia but be preserved 'professionally', a committee has decided. About ten chiefs of the Ovaherero Ovaherero/Ovambanderu Council for Dialogue on 1904 Genocide (OCD-1904) met at Okahandja last weekend to discuss the issue. 'It was decided that the skulls should become the property of the Namibian Government so that they can be kept in a professional way to keep the memory of this part of Namibian history alive for future generations,' Festus Tjikuua, secretary to the technical committee of the OCD-1904, told The Namibian yesterday. 'The fifth OCD-1904 summit decided in principle that the skulls should not be buried.'

Pontian Greek Genocide / United States

Pontian Greek Genocide to be Commemorated in New York May 19, May 6, 2010
"May 19, the international day of remembrance for the Pontian Greek Genocide will be commemorated in New York City with a public event and flag raising of the Pontian Greek flag and the flag of Greece in Manhattan's Bowling Green Park (corner of State Street and Broadway), New York City. The commemoration event is organized by the Pan Pontian Federation of USA and Canada and the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York. The commemoration event will include speeches by Greek and Greek American dignitaries and leaders, American elected public officials, writers, intellectuals, anti-genocide activists and representatives of the Armenian American and Assyrian American communities. This year's Pontian Greek Genocide commemoration will also honor the Swedish Ambassador for the recent recognition by the Swedish Parliament of Genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Pontian Greeks. The Pontian Greek Genocide has been recognized by Greece, Cyprus and recently Sweden. In the United States numerous states and cities, including New York, have recognized the Pontian Greek Genocide by resolutions or proclamations."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Ukraine / Russia / Holodomor

Yanukovych, Stalin and the Ukrainian Famine
By Taras Kuzio, May 6, 2010
"On May 5, the Communist Party unveiled a bust of Soviet leader and war criminal Josef Stalin in Zaporizhya. A second Stalin bust is rumored to be ready for Odesa. Billboards of Stalin have already gone up in Luhansk. What is going on in Ukraine? This is par for the course, to some degree. After all, Kyiv still has a statue to Vladimir Lenin, who created the Soviet secret police and established the gulag long before Stalin. Ukraine still has a Communist Party that is part of the ruling majority with the dominant Party of Regions, which stands for oligarchic capitalists, theoretically the opposite of what the Communists stand for. But the unveiling of the Zaporizhya bust of Stalin and President Viktor Yanukovych's disregard for public sentiment shows reactionary policies at work. The gradual rehabilitation of Stalin, under way in Russia and Belarus, is now creeping into Ukraine, the former Soviet republic that has done the most to denounce Stalin and his crimes.

Kosovo / International Tribunals

War Crimes Suspect Arrested in Kosovo
BBC Online, May 6, 2010
"A war crimes suspect has been arrested by European Union police officers in Kosovo, officials say. Local media identified the suspect as Sabit Geci, a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The suspect is accused of torturing prisoners between April and June 1999 at a detention facility run by the KLA in the town of Kukes, northern Albania. The suspect was detained after a police raid on a house in the capital Pristina, local media reported. The arrest was made by the European Union Law and Justice Mission (Eulex). The mission did not provide any further details. Sabit Geci, 51, is suspected of torture and mistreatment of prisoners at the Kukes detention facility, which was a key supply point for the KLA during the conflict in the 1990s. But this is the first arrest related to war crimes which allegedly took place on Albanian territory, our correspondent adds.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bosnia and Herzegovina / Srebrenica Massacre

Serb Acquitted of Srebrenica Charges
Reuters dispatch in The Irish Times, May 5, 2010
"A Bosnian appeals court acquitted a Serb wartime commander of Srebrenica genocide charges today, quashing an earlier 40-year prison term on grounds of insufficient evidence. Bosnia's war crimes court convicted Milos Stupar and six other Bosnian Serbs in 2008 in connection with the killing of several hundred Srebrenica Muslim detainees in 1995 and were sentenced to terms ranging between 38 and 42 years in prison. But Stupar appealed against the conviction, prompting the Sarajevo court's appeals chamber to annul the verdict and start a new trial two months ago. Evidence in the retrial showed Stupar took command of the Bosnian Serb unit linked to the massacre only on July 14th, 1995, replacing an injured commander, and so could not have prevented the killings the day before, presiding judge Azra Miletic said. 'The evidence does not indicate that Milos Stupar was a commander who had effective control over those who allegedly executed the crime,' Mr. Miletic said. 'He cannot be considered responsible for failing to punish those who had not been under his effective control.' [...]"

Rwanda / Genocide Legislation / Genocide Denial

Rwanda: Anti-Genocide Law Clashes with Free Speech
By Nick Wadhams
Time, May 5, 2010
"Just minutes after she returned to Rwanda after 16 years in exile in January, opposition leader Victoire Ingabire drove to the memorial honoring the victims of the country's 1994 genocide and delivered a speech calling for reconciliation between Tutsi and Hutu. Yes, she said, Rwanda must honor the Tutsi who were the main target of the genocide. It also must remember the Hutu who were victims of crimes against humanity at the same time. To a Westerner's ear, the words of Ingabire, who has announced that she will run against President Paul Kagame in elections this August, may have seemed like standard political boilerplate for an aspiring politician. But Ingabire, a former accountant, has now been charged in court for those remarks. The government says she violated a genocide-ideology law that is meant to keep people from downplaying or denying the slaughter. Indeed, Martin Ngoga, the prosecutor in her case, says the speech was essentially a coded message meant to appeal to ethnic Hutu and diminish the genocide.

Israel / Deir Yassin Massacre

Army May Release All Deir Yassin Docs
By Dan Izenberg
Jerusalem Post, May 5, 2010
"Are the events that took place in Deir Yassin so sensitive that 62 years later, the state still refuses to release all of the documents and photos stored in the IDF archive to the public? That is the question facing Supreme Court Deputy President Eliezer Rivlin and Justices Edna Arbel and Neal Hendel in the wake of a petition heard earlier this week. The petition was filed by Haaretz, its reporter Gidi Weitz, and Neta Shoshani, a student at the Bezalel Art School in Jerusalem. The battle of Deir Yassin, a village on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, was one of the most controversial of the War of Independence. It took place in April 1948, one month before the State of Israel was declared. There have been charges that units of the Etzel (Irgun) and Lehi (Stern Group) undergrounds massacred dozens of Palestinian civilians in the village and forced the survivors to flee. According to the current Archive Law, the state may withhold publication of state documents for 50 years if the material is regarded as endangering Israel's security or foreign relations or for other reasons determined by the state archivist.

Russia / Circassian Genocide / Chechnya

The Defiant People of the Caucasus (Interview with Oliver Bullough)
By The Global Dispatches, no date (current)
Photo: Oliver Bullough
"[...] Towards the end of the book ['Let Our Fame be Great -- Journeys among the Defiant People of the Caucasus") you cast a cloud over the Sochi Olympic GamesI don't mean to, but I do think there is a problem that needs to be addressed and it is not going to go away by itself. There is no doubt, Sochi will be a heavenly place to hold the Olympics but there is no getting around the fact that the Games will be held on the 150th anniversary of the Circassian genocide when that whole region belonged to someone else. There has been absolutely no acknowledgement of that at all. This would be a very good opportunity for the Russians to stand up and put their hand on their heart and come clean and then move on. It would be an acknowledgement of the wrongs committed in the past and a positive step forward. To date anyone mentioning these historical facts is accused of being in the pay of the CIA, which is a little puerile! Imagine if the Olympics were held in eastern Turkey without any acknowledgement that this used to be Armenian land. The world would see that as wrong, and the Russians would certainly have something to say about it.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

International Criminal Court / Crime of Aggression

Who Started the Fight?
By Noah Weisbord
The New York Times, May 3, 2010
"Making war, traditionally a prerogative of presidents and princes, may soon become an international crime. The states that have signed on to the International Criminal Court are on the cusp of adding 'aggression' to that list of crimes that it is empowered to prosecute, alongside genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. It would be a game-changer in international diplomacy, but it carries great risk along with its promise. The idea of prosecuting a country's leader for ordering a war that violates the United Nations Charter is appealing, until you imagine your own leader in the dock for a war that your countrymen all accepted as self-defense or humanitarian intervention. Just as one nation's terrorist is another nation's freedom fighter, one state's just war is bound to be another state's unjust war. Nonetheless, after a decade of negotiations, and against all expectations, the Assembly of States Parties to the ICC has produced a draft.

Genocide Education / Genocide Prevention

World Without Genocide Book Clubs: Tackling Tough Questions
By Audra Otto, May 3, 2010
"On a recent Tuesday evening, members of a World Without Genocide book club gathered in a Guthrie Theater classroom to discuss Robert Skloot's one-act play, 'If the Whole Body Dies.' World Without Genocide -- a local nonprofit dedicated to global advocacy for human rights and genocide education, awareness and prevention -- launched book clubs in January. Subject-driven book clubs are on the rise, with themes ranging from yoga to Christian marriage to organic farming to lesbianism. Book clubs with themes as weighty and painful as genocide are unusual. Members of this book club have found reading genocide literature and participating in community dialogue about human rights to be valuable learning experiences. With five groups in the Twin Cities and one in St. Cloud, the program seems to be going strong. ...

ICTY / International Tribunals

Int'l Criminal Justice under Pressure
By Heikelina Verijn Stuart
Radio Netherlands, May 4, 2010
"The principle of guilt, which guarantees that persons are held responsible for the actions for which they have personal responsibility, was emphatically embraced by judges at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in their very first verdict. They echoed the principle of the Nuremberg judges 'criminal guilt is personal.' The principle of nullum crimen -- presumption of innocence -- has been emphatically identified as a starting point of international criminal law. The ICTY judges in the Celebici trial regarded it as a 'solid pillar.' And the third principle, fair labelling -- the clear description of the crime and qualification which result in the suspect being prosecuted and potentially convicted for criminal facts which match his behaviour -- was adopted as a starting point by the ICTY. However, when these principles are applied to the reality of the violence and cruelty of wars and other major conflicts, notions of human rights and humanitarian rights dominate.

Canada / Anti-Semitism

OPP Probe Anti-Semitic Website
By Stewart Bell
The National Post, May 4, 2010
"Police are working 'flat out' on an investigation into a website that says Jews should be killed in a genocide, the commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police said yesterday. ... The police commissioner made the comments in an interview after the Internet site, Filthy Jewish Terrorists, continued to post statements supporting the mass killing of Jews. The latest post says Jews should be 'rounded up and executed' following last weekend's failed bombing at New York's Times Square, which it claims was an attempt to 'frame innocent Muslims.' The National Post reported in March that the OPP was investigating Salman Hossain of Mississauga, Ont., over the website. Two months later, no charges have been laid, the site is still active and Canada's largest Jewish organization is growing impatient. 'It's got to stop,' Bernie Farber, CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress, said after viewing the latest comments. 'Legal action is absolutely required now. We can't wait any longer.'

Israel / Jewish Holocaust

Israel Leads Group Guarding Memory of Holocaust
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, April 4, 2010
"The head of Israel's Holocaust memorial says the Jewish state will lead the battle against Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism as it takes over the chairmanship of an international group guarding the memory of the Nazi genocide. Avner Shalev spoke Tuesday as Israel for the first time assumed leadership of the 27-nation Task Force for International Cooperation on Holocaust Education, Remembrance and Research. The organization was established by Sweden in 1998. Shalev warned of a rising tide of anti-Semitism in the Muslim world and pointed to Iran's nuclear program and threats to destroy Israel. Shalev says a lesson of the Holocaust is to 'take threats like these seriously.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Iraq / Violence against Christians

Christians Targeted in Mosul Blasts
Agency reports on, May 2, 2010
Photo: Reuters
"A shopkeeper has been killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, as two bombs went off near buses carrying Christian students. More than 100 people, including students and other civilians, were injured in the blasts on Sunday morning. Abdul-Rahim al-Shammari, the head of the provincial council's security committee, said a roadside bomb exploded first, followed by a car bomb moments later. The buses were transporting university students from the mainly Christian town of Hamdaniya, 40km east of Mosul. 'All of them were Christian students. They go in buses like that to Mosul's university after the troubled times when Christians were targeted in the past,' Nissan Karoumi, the mayor of Hamdaniya, said. Dr. Muhsin Shamzi, who works at a hospital in Irbil, said at least 17 critically injured patients were taken to the hospital. About 750,000 of Iraq's 30 million population are Christians. The US-based National Council of Churches last week sent a letter to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, calling on her to urge Iraqi officials to do more to protect Iraq's Christian community. The organisation said they were particularly worried now as Iraq struggles to seat a government after the March 7 parliamentary elections. [...]"