Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cambodia / Genocide Tribunals

"Former Khmer Rouge leader 'Brother Number Two' Noon Chea attends the UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal." (Mark Peters/AFP/Getty Images)
Khmer Rouge Court Unable to Pay Cambodian Salaries
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Telegraph, January 31, 2012
"Cambodia's UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal has run out of money to pay the wages of hundreds of workers as contributions from donor countries have dried up, a court spokesman said on Tuesday. None of the more than 300 Cambodians working at the tribunal, from judges to drivers, will be paid this month and may not receive their salaries in February and March either, said Neth Pheaktra. 'We have no money,' he told AFP, adding that some judges and prosecutors had not been paid since October. The funding shortfall does not affect the more than 130 international employees at the war crimes court, whose wages are paid by the United Nations. Cambodian salaries are paid through voluntary contributions from donor nations such as Japan, France and Australia. 'It affects morale at the court,' said Neth Pheaktra. 'The people depend on their salaries to support their families and it's not good to go without pay.' The court, set up in 2006 to find justice for the deaths of up to two million people during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 rule, is perpetually cash-strapped but this is thought to be longest period of non-payment to date.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Germany / Nazism

"A magazine supplement with an image of Adolf Hitler and the title 'The Unreadable Book' is pictured in Berlin. No law bans 'Mein Kampf' in Germany, but the government of Bavaria, holds the copyright and guards it ferociously." (Thomas Peter/Reuters)
In Germany, Attitudes toward "Mein Kampf" Slowly Changing
By Michael Birnbaum
The Washington Post, January 27, 2012
"The city that was the center of Adolf Hitler’s empire is littered with reminders of the Nazi past, from the bullet holes that pit the fronts of many buildings to the hulking Luftwaffe headquarters that now house the Finance Ministry. What it doesn’t have, nor has it since 1945, are copies of Hitler's autobiography and political manifesto, 'Mein Kampf,' in its bookstores. The latest attempt to publish excerpts fizzled this week after the Bavarian government challenged it in court, although an expurgated copy appeared at newspaper kiosks around the country. But in Germany -- where keeping a tight lid on Hitler's writings has become a rich tradition in itself -- attitudes toward his book are slowly changing, and fewer people are objecting to its becoming more widely available. No law bans 'Mein Kampf' in Germany, but the government of Bavaria, where Hitler officially resided at the time of his 1945 suicide, holds the copyright and guards it ferociously. German-language copies that were printed before 1945 are legal, although they command a premium price, and the book is available in translation elsewhere in the world. But the question of whether to publish it in the country where Hitler plotted his empire has lost some of its edge in the Google era, when a complete German-language copy of the book pops up as the second result on the local version of the search engine.

Friday, January 27, 2012


"Syrian army defectors patrol a street in Homs province, central Syria, on Wednesday Jan. 25, 2012." (AP )
Syria Activists: "Terrifying Massacre" In Homs
By Bassem Mroue and Zeina Karam
Associated Press dispatch in The Huffington Post, January 27, 2012
"Two days of bloody turmoil in Syria killed at least 74 people, including small children, as forces loyal to President Bashar Assad shelled residential buildings and fired on crowds in a dramatic escalation of violence, activists said Friday. Video posted online showed the bodies of five small children, five women and a man, all bloodied and piled on beds in what appeared to be an apartment after a building was hit in the city of Homs. A narrator said an entire family had been 'slaughtered.' Much of the violence was focused in Homs, where heavy gunfire hammered the city Friday in a second day of chaos. A day earlier, the city saw a flare-up of sectarian kidnappings and killings between its Sunni and Alawite communities, and pro-regime forces blasted residential buildings with mortars and gunfire, according to activists. At least 384 children have been killed, as of Jan. 7, in the crackdown on Syria's uprising since it began nearly 11 months ago, the U.N. children's agency UNICEF said Friday. The count, based on reports from human rights groups, included children under age 18. Most of the deaths took place in Homs and most of the victims were boys, UNICEF said. It said 380 children have been detained, including some under age 14. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,400 people have died in the turmoil. The UN Security Council met in a closed-door session to discuss the crisis, which diplomats said was a step toward a possible UN resolution against the Damascus regime. However, any resolution faces strong opposition from China and Russia, and both nations have veto power.

Hungary / Roma

Poor, Abused and Second-Class: The Roma Living in Fear in Hungarian Village
By Helen Pidd
The Guardian, January 27, 2012
"The first snow of 2012 had fallen on the day Natasha Váradi invited us into the house she shares with her 10 children, mother and father-in-law in the Hungarian village of Gyöngyöspata. The two rooms were dark and dank: for four months the family had been living without electricity, gas or running water. Every half an hour a child went down the hill with a bucket to draw water from the communal pump. By night they stumbled around with torches as they squeezed on to mattresses. The air in the bungalow carried the sour stench of urine. "They've started wetting the bed again," said Natasha, who has lived in Gyöngyöspata for all of her 31 years. 'Someone only need knock on the door and they are scared.' There is not much door left on which to knock. Much of the wood has been smashed in. On 22 December, the family say a stone came flying through the front room window. The family members have reason to fear for their lives: seven adults and two children died in 49 attacks on Roma communities in Hungary between January 2008 and April 2011, according to the European Roma Rights Centre. Until last Easter, 31-year-old Váradi had never left Gyöngyöspata, an old coalmining village 50 miles north of Budapest, which then had a population of about 2,800, including 450 Roma. Then, on 1 March, the militia arrived. Wearing black uniforms and calling themselves the Civil Guard Association for a Better Future (Szebb Jövóért Polgárór Egyesület) they marched through the village singing war songs and bellowing abuse. Soon, they were joined by groups including Vederö (Defence Force), wearing camouflage fatigues and armed with axes, whips and snarling bulldogs. For almost two months they roamed the streets day and night, singing, hammering on doors and calling the inhabitants 'dirty fucking Gypsies'.

Guatemala / Genocide Tribunals

Relatives of victims of Guatemala's civil war listened to proceedings on Thursday. (Rodrigo Abd/Associated Press)
Accused of Atrocities, Guatemala's Ex-Dictator Chooses Silence
By Elisabeth Malkin
The New York Times, January 26, 2012
"Efraín Ríos Montt, Guatemala’s former military dictator, was ordered by a Guatemalan judge on Thursday to stand trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity leveled at him. He is accused of orchestrating the razing of Indian villages decades ago during the country's long civil war. On Thursday, prosecutors charged Efraín Ríos Montt, center, a former dictator, with genocide and crimes against humanity. The ruling by Judge Carol Patricia Flores Blanco was a symbolic victory for the relatives of people killed in Guatemala’s 36-year civil war and for human rights groups, who have long argued that Mr. Ríos Montt was behind much of the worst wartime violence. It came at the end of a daylong hearing in which prosecutors described mass killings, torture and rape in distant mountain villages almost 30 years ago and stressed that Mr. Ríos Montt, a former general, had full command over his troops and knowledge of their actions. Nearly three hours into the prosecutors' presentation, the judge asked Mr. Ríos Montt, now 85, if he had any response. In a firm voice, he said, 'I prefer to remain silent.' The judge ordered Mr. Ríos Montt to be detained under house arrest. During the 17 months of Mr. Ríos Montt’s rule in 1982 and 1983, the military carried out a scorched-earth campaign in the Mayan highlands as soldiers hunted down bands of leftist guerrillas. Survivors have described how military units wiped out Indian villages with extraordinary brutality, killing all the women and children along with the men.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

South Sudan

"A woman and her 18-month-old baby, displaced by ethnic violence, wait for aid at a UN food distribution center in Pibor, South Sudan, this month." (Hannah McNeish/AFP/Getty Images)
Witnesses Give Graphic Accounts of South Sudan Ethnic Violence
By Robyn Dixon
The Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2012
"Neighbors found the 18-month-old boy crying alone in the bush outside his village of Wek in South Sudan. Both his parents had been shot to death about two weeks ago during ethnic clashes between the Murle and Luo-Nuer tribes in Jonglei state. The attackers had smashed the child's head against a tree and left him for dead, according to witness accounts collected by the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders. His head injuries were severe. 'He was abandoned, without any help,' a witness told the group, which released a report Tuesday on the violence. 'We, the community, came looking for people who needed help in the bush and we found him, still alive and alone.' Doctors Without Borders did not release the names of the witnesses out of concern for their safety. About 55 people died in the Jan. 11 assault, which left dozens wounded. Many remain missing. The violence was carried out by Murle tribesmen in revenge for attacks by the opposing Luo-Nuer tribe late last year. At least 120,000 people in Jongwei are in need of aid after violent attacks in December and January, according to the United Nations. There are no reliable estimates of the dead, with victims scattered over vast areas of bush. ... Intercommunal violence between the Murle and Lou-Nuer tribes has been going on for centuries, mainly around the issue of cattle rustling, which brings honor to young tribal men when they successfully steal stock and increase their own herds.

Libya / United Nations / Arbitrary Imprisonment / Torture

(Abdullah Doma/AFP/Getty Images)
Libya: UN Alarmed over Failure to Stop Torture of Detainees
By Damien McElroy
The Telegraph, January 26, 2012
"The UN has expressed its alarm over the failure of the Libyan government to disarm militias and stop widespread torture of the thousands of people held in arbitrary detention. The warning that human rights abuses were rampant in Libya came as Medicins San Frontieres, the medical charity, said it was suspending its operations in detention centres in the city of Misurata after encountering scores of torture victims. Ian Martin, the UN envoy for Libya, said that the new Libyan authorities were failing to bring armed factions under control. As a result the law of gun dominated a country scarred by the dictatorship of Col. Muammar Gaddafi. Mr. Martin blame militias for fatal clashes around the country. 'The former regime may have been toppled, but the harsh reality is that the Libyan people continue to have to live with its deep-rooted legacy,' said Mr. Martin. There were 'weak, at times absent, state institutions, coupled with the long absence of political parties and civil society organisations, which render the country's transition more difficult'. He warned that the clashes could escalate. The UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said she had serious concerns over the fate of the 8,500 prisoners held in around 60 centres by revolutionary forces that were not accountable to a national government. 'The majority of detainees are accused of being Gaddafi loyalists and include a large number of sub-saharan, African nationals,' she said. 'The lack of oversight by the central authority creates an environment conducive to torture and ill treatment.'

Iraq / United States

"Omer Chasib lost his father to the 2005 Marine assault in Haditha that claimed the lives of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians." (Hadi Mizban/Associated Press)
In Iraq, Haditha Case is Reminder of Justice Denied
By Raheem Salman and Patrick J. McDonnell
The Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2012
"The teacher still keeps family photos of the dead, visual mementos of lives cut short in an unremitting hail of gunfire. 'The Americans killed children who were hiding inside the cupboards or under the beds,' said Rafid Abdul Majeed Hadithi, 43, a teacher in the city of Haditha who says he witnessed the 2005 assault by US Marines that took the lives of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians. 'Was this Marine charged with dereliction of duty because he didn't kill more? Is Iraqi blood so cheap?' In the United States, the brutal saga of Haditha — among the dead were seven children, including a toddler, three women, and a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair -- may have concluded Monday with Marine Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich's guilty plea to negligent dereliction of duty. A military judge said Tuesday that Wuterich will serve no time in the brig under the terms of his plea bargain. Charges were previously dropped against six others involved in the Euphrates Valley incident; a seventh Marine was acquitted. The plea closed the books on a politically charged case that sparked debate about the manner in which US troops react amid the 'fog of war' and the tension of combat. For many Iraqis, however, Haditha remains a visceral reminder of the most troubling aspects of the 2003 US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of their homeland.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Malaysia / Colonialism / Gendercide

"Prisoners during the Malayan Emergency: the Foreign Office has produced documents about the deaths of 24 Malaysian men in 1948." (Jack Birns/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)
Batang Kali Relatives Edge Closer to the Truth about "Britain's My Lai Massacre"
By Owen Bowcott
The Guardian, January 25, 2012
"Lawyers representing relatives of 24 unarmed victims who died at Batang Kali, Malaysia, in December 1948 have finally been provided with key Foreign Office correspondence about past investigations and Cabinet Office guidance on when inquiries should be held. Even Buckingham Palace has been pulled into the furore surrounding the fate of the villagers, who were rounded up on a large rubber-tapping estate in the colonial government's counter-insurgency operation against communists, known historically as the Malayan Emergency. A petition to the Queen about the deaths has been handed to the British high commissioner in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, and the royal household has replied. The palace, however, has declined to release the text of the letter. The Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence have always insisted the villagers were shot while trying to escape detention. The incident has been described by some as 'British My Lai massacre', after the US troop killings in Vietnam. The Malaysian relatives' hopes have been boosted by a group of Kenyan survivors, mostly now in their 80s, who won the right last summer to sue the British government for damages over claims of torture during the 1950s Mau Mau uprising. A judicial review of the government's repeated refusal to hold a public inquiry into the alleged massacre at Batang Kali is likely to be heard in the spring.

Guatemala / Genocide Tribunals

"Retired army Gen. Efrain Rios Montt arrives at the Guatemala City Human Rights office in December." (Saul Martinez/EPA)
Former Guatemalan Dictator Rios Montt May Face Genocide Trial
By Alex Renderos
The Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2012
"Former Guatemalan dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt will appear in a civilian court Thursday to face possible prosecution on genocide charges stemming from the army's 'scorched earth' civil war campaign of the 1980s. 'El General,' as Rios Montt is known in Guatemala, faces accusations that include torture, genocide, forced disappearances, state terrorism and crimes against humanity. Now 85 years old, Rios Montt has always denied such charges, claiming that he was never in the battlefield during the war. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala has also accused Rios Montt of burning the Spanish Embassy in 1980. Protesters against the army's killings of Mayan Indians were holed up inside the diplomatic post and 31 were killed in the blaze -- including Menchu's father, Vicente. About 200,000 people were killed or went missing during the 36-year war against small groups of leftist guerrillas. The military razed entire villages, slaughtering civilians. Rios Montt's 17-month rule, from 1982-83, was one of the most brutal periods. Human rights officials praised the fact that the Guatemalan justice system has finally started to take on such cases, especially given the impunity that top military officials have long enjoyed.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Canada and Genocide - An Interview with Adam Jones

An interview (3 mins.) with genocide scholar Adam Jones about genocide as a global phenomenon, and Canada's role in genocide prevention. Aired on CHBC/Global TV evening news, January 20, 2012.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Turkey / Armenian Genocide

(Photo: EPA)
Hrant Dink: Thousands March in Istanbul After Controversial Verdict
International Business Times, January 19, 2012
"Fifty thousand people marched in Istanbul on Thursday in commemoration of Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated exactly five years earlier. Holding up photos of Dink and signs reading 'We are all Hrant, we are all Armenian,' they walked to the location in the Turkish city where the reporter was killed in 2007. Dink was shot dead outside his office at the Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos by a right-wing nationalist named Ogun Samast. The journalist was a vocal advocate for Armenian rights and minority groups, and published reports on the Armenian Genocide, a tragedy long denied by the Turkish government. Some of the protests marched to express their outrage over the most recent verdicts in the murder trial. Earlier this week, Yasin Hayal was sentenced to life in prison in connection to Dink's murder, while suspect Erhan Tuncel was acquitted of murder charges. Hayal was found guilty of plotting the assassination and giving Samast the murder weapon. A judge also acquitted 19 suspects on charges that they belonged to a terrorist organization called Ergenekon which apparently seeks to overthrow the government.

Burma / Myanmar

"In Myanmar, about 15,000 displaced people live in camps in areas controlled by the government that often lack adequate food, health care and education facilities." (Adam Dean/The New York Times)
Ethnic War Intensifies in Myanmar, Jeopardizing U.S. Ties
By Adam Dean
The New York Times, January 19, 2012
"Even as the Burmese government initiates political reforms in much of the country, it has intensified an ethnic civil war here in the hills of northern Myanmar, a conflict that at once threatens to jeopardize its warming trend with the United States and to alienate Chinese officials concerned about stability on the border. This month scores of mortar rounds fired by the Burmese military landed within miles of this town near the mountainous Chinese border. International human rights groups and soldiers and officials of the Kachin ethnic group say that Burmese soldiers have burned and looted homes, planted mines, forcibly recruited men as porters and guides, and raped, tortured and executed civilians. Several thousand villagers have fled to China. Tens of thousands more who have been displaced could follow if the Burmese Army continues its offensive, local relief workers say. Lazum Bulu will not be fleeing. She died on Jan. 10 in a bare concrete room in a camp for the displaced. People said she was 107. Her body lay on blankets on the floor. 'I regret that my mother can’t be buried with my father,' said her daughter, Hkang Je Mayun. 'The Burmese Army was coming, and we didn’t want to live in the village anymore. We were afraid they would kill all the Kachin people.' The fighting has raised questions about the limits of the reform agenda pushed by President Thein Sein, Myanmar’s first civilian president in nearly 50 years, who has led the opening to the West. But some analysts in Myanmar say Mr. Thein Sein has been unable or unwilling to control the generals pressing the war.

Spain / Universal Jurisdiction

Judge Who Arrested Pinochet Now Finds Himself in the Dock
By Alasdair Fotheringham
The Independent, January 18, 2012
"He tried to extradite General Pinochet, ordered the arrest of Osama bin Laden, put notorious members of the Argentinian junta, such as Adolfo Scilingo, behind bars and investigated the mass executions of nearly 150,000 Spanish Republicans under General Franco. But yesterday, in the first of three cases, Spain's crusading high court judge, Baltasar Garzón, went on trial himself. Mr. Garzón, who is viewed by many as Spain's most courageous legal watchdog and the scourge of bent politicians and drug warlords the world over, faces up to a 17-year suspension from his job in the initial case alone. The hearing, into whether the judge abused his powers, will investigate claims he ordered illegal police recordings of conversations between suspects in a massive corruption case in Valencia, involving high-profile figures from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Partido Popular (PP) Party. Yesterday morning, dozens of Mr Garzón's supporters, including Communist Party deputy Gaspar Llamazares, stood outside a packed courtroom in central Madrid and cheered the judge as he picked his way through the throngs of journalists. 'Fine, just fine,' he answered, when asked how he was feeling. Mr, Llamazares told reporters the 56-year-old judge was the victim of a political witch-hunt for his human rights work, which in Spain has concentrated on the mass murders of Republicans during the Civil War and the early part of Francisco Franco's dictatorship. Mr. Garzón was suspended from his duties in May 2010, and even if he is cleared in this case -- an outcome widely believed to be unlikely -- next week a second, more controversial, case sees him back in court for alleged professional misconduct during his Civil War investigations. And a third trial, as yet unscheduled, will see him charged with accepting illicit payments from Spain's biggest bank, Santander.

El Salvador

El Salvador President Apologizes for El Mozote Massacre, Marks 20 Years Since Peace Accords
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Post, January 16, 2012 "El Salvador President Mauricio Funes apologized Monday for the 1981 El Mozote massacre of 936 civilians in an army counterinsurgency operation. Funes also commemorated the 20th anniversary of the 1992 peace accords that put an end to the country’s 12-year civil war. Funes said the El Mozote massacre, named for the town where it occurred between Dec. 11 to 13, 1981, was 'the biggest massacre of civilians in the contemporary history of Latin America.' He formally acknowledged the government’s responsibility for the killings. He also asked for forgiveness from the relatives of the estimated 12,000 people disappeared in the conflict, which left 75,000 dead. 'I ask forgiveness of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters of those who still today do not know the whereabouts of their loved ones. I ask forgiveness from the people of El Salvador, who suffered an atrocious and unacceptable violence,' Funes said in a speech in front of thousands of farmers at the massacre site. Funes was elected on the ticket of the former leftist rebels, who were allowed to turn themselves into a political party after the 1992 peace accords. Funes himself never belonged to the leftist Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front rebel movement, nor did he serve in the army. He was a journalist at the time. Soldiers from the now-disappeared Atlacatl battalion entered El Mozote looking for rebels and sympathizers. They apparently believed that any village in the area was backing the insurgents, and they killed anyone they could catch: men, women, children, infants. Many of the bodies were tossed into a church that was then set ablaze. But Funes said the peace accords helped change the army. 'Twenty years after the peace accords we have a different armed forces, democratic and obedient to civilian power,' Funes said. He urged the army to revise its military history and avoid honoring officers who ordered or carried out rights abuses.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Syria / United States / Responsibility to Protect

"Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Homs." (Reuters)
"Edging Toward Intervention in Syria"
By Paul Mutter
Salon.com, January 13, 2012
"On Monday, a unity agreement between Syria's two main anti-regime groups collapsed over the issue of foreign military intervention in the country's 11-month-old internal conflict. As anti-government demonstrations and police violence continue, there is still no immediate prospect of a NATO or international military intervention like that undertaken in Libya.  But that doesn't mean it won't happen. Syria is a unique case. Unlike Libya it doesn't have a lot of oil. Unlike Egypt, it is not controlled by a U.S.-funded ally. What it does have is an increasingly violent dictatorship and a growing but divided opposition. The government of Bashar al-Assad shows no signs of weakening resolve, and Arab League monitors in the country have drawn criticism (and live fire) for their work. The Syrian National Council, which is dominated by Syrian émigrés in Turkey and Europe, has reiterated its calls for foreign military intervention despite contradictory remarks from some of its members. The SNC wants to establish a no-fly zone over northern Syria to provide a safe haven for refugees and the loosely organized 'Syria Free Army' in preparation for NATO and Arab League-backed operations against Assad's loyalist forces. The National Coordination Body, composed of left-wing Syrian Arabs and Kurds operating inside Syria, continues to warn against foreign intervention and expansion of armed resistance to Assad. The unity agreement's collapse -- and reports suggesting that a majority of the Syrian opposition and demonstrators now favor foreign military intervention -- may help strengthen the hands of those in the West who have argued for such action from the beginning.  In Washington a 'time-limited, scope-limited military action' as implemented in Libya this past year appeals to both Obama administration policymakers who say they are guided by a 'responsibility to protect' and to neoconservatives who favor 'regime change' in Damascus to isolate Iran and Islamist groups. ... For outside interlocutors assisting the SNC, there is the London-based Henry Jackson Society, which is described by the Guardian as a British group with close ties to American neoconservatives. ... Other prominent voices in the insular but influential world of neoconservative thought include a team of defense specialists at the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy who recently issued a report concluding, 'Intervention in Syria would be a demanding mission carrying significant risks,' while also asserting that 'intervention also presents policy opportunities.'

South Sudan

"A family with a wounded boy waited at a United Nations camp to be evacuated for further treatment." (Sven Torfinn/The New York Times)
Born in Unity, South Sudan Is Torn Again
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, January 12, 2012
"The trail of corpses begins about 300 yards from the corrugated metal gate of the United Nations compound and stretches for miles into the bush. There is an old man on his back, a young woman with her legs splayed and skirt bunched up around her hips, and a whole family -- man, woman, two children -- all facedown in the swamp grass, executed together. How many hundreds are scattered across the savannah, nobody really knows. South Sudan, born six months ago in great jubilation, is plunging into a vortex of violence. Bitter ethnic tensions that had largely been shelved for the sake of achieving independence have ruptured into a cycle of massacre and revenge that neither the American-backed government nor the United Nations has been able to stop. The United States and other Western countries have invested billions of dollars in South Sudan, hoping it will overcome its deeply etched history of poverty, violence and ethnic fault lines to emerge as a stable, Western-friendly nation in a volatile region. Instead, heavily armed militias the size of small armies are now marching on villages and towns with impunity, sometimes with blatantly genocidal intent. Eight thousand fighters just besieged this small town in the middle of a vast expanse, razing huts, burning granaries, stealing tens of thousands of cows and methodically killing hundreds, possibly thousands, of men, women and children hiding in the bush. The raiders had even broadcast their massacre plans. 'We have decided to invade Murleland and wipe out the entire Murle tribe on the face of the earth,' the attackers, from a rival ethnic group, the Nuer, warned in a public statement.

Germany / Jews / Nazism

"Rafael Seligmann, publisher and editor of Jewish Voice from Germany, shows a copy of the first issue of his paper." (DAPD)
"We Can Resume Our Common History": New Paper Covers Revival of German Jewish Life
By David Crossland
Spiegel Online, January 4, 2012
"An English-language Jewish newspaper was launched in Berlin this week with the aim of showing foreign audiences that Jewish life in Germany is starting to flourish. Its editor, Rafael Seligmann, 64, a prominent author and journalist, says Jews in Germany are abandoning their self-image as victims of the Holocaust and becoming more confident. He wants his newspaper to promote that by portraying how the community has grown and changed since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Then, there were fewer than 30,000 Jews in Germany. Most of them were survivors of the Holocaust, and their public role was largely confined to commemorating the genocide, making sure the Germans did likewise, and supporting Israel. The big change came after German unification in 1990, when the government made it easier for Jews from the states of the disintegrating Soviet Union to move to Germany. Almost 200,000 came -- which didn't please Israel -- and Germany became home to the world's fastest-growing Jewish population. Today, more than 100,000 Jews belong to religious communities, and the total population with a Jewish background is estimated at over 200,000, including some 20,000 Israelis who have moved to Germany. That compares to 600,000 before the Holocaust.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rwandan Genocide

"The wreckage of the plane that was shot down killing Rwanda's president Juvénal Habyarimana in 1994." (AP/Jean Marc Boujou)
Rwanda: At Last We Know the Truth
By Linda Melvern
The Guardian, January 10, 2012
"Few events have been the subject of as many rumours and lies as the assassination on 6 April 1994 of Rwanda's President Juvénal Habyarimana. We may never know the identity of the assassins who fired the two missiles that blew his jet apart as it came in to land at Kigali International Airport; yet this one key event signalled the targeted elimination of Rwanda's political opposition, and triggered the genocide of the Tutsi people. Since that night there has been a ceaseless propaganda war, with each side blaming the other for what happened. One version is that the rebel Tutsi RPF assassinated the Hutu president in a cynical bid to oust his regime; another version blames Hutu extremists who, faced with the possibility of power-sharing with the Tutsi minority, carried out a coup d'etat in order to create a 'pure Hutu' state. This is why the publication of an expert investigation into the aircraft crash in Paris today will have such tremendous repercussions. After 18 years it has essentially settled the central question of who was morally responsible for triggering the genocide. In some 400 detailed pages, including the conclusions of six experts who visited the crash site in 2010, the report has provided scientific proof that, as the plane made a final approach, the assassins were waiting in the confines of Kanombe military camp -- the highly fortified home of Rwanda's French-trained elite unit known as the Presidential Guard, and which is directly under the flight path.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rwanda / France

"Mr. Kagame has accused former French President Francois Mitterrand's administration of training and arming the Hutu militias responsible for the slaughter." (AFP)
Paul Kagame Allies "Did Not Shoot Down Plane" That Sparked Rwanda Genocide
The Telegraph, January 10, 2012
"A French investigation into what sparked the 1994 Rwandan genocide appears to exonerate current President Paul Kagame and his Tutsi allies after Paris had previously accused him of triggering the killing of 800,000 people in 100 days. Diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France were severed in 2006 when a French judge said Mr. Kagame, the rebel leader at the time of the killings, had orchestrated the assassination of Juvenal Habyarimana, the Hutu president, to trigger the bloodshed. After Habyarimana's plane was shot down, Hutu extremists slaughtered Tutsis and moderate Hutus in some of the fastest mass killings ever perpetrated. Kagame's Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front seized power in the aftermath of the genocide. Mr. Kagame has accused former French President Francois Mitterrand's administration of training and arming the Hutu militias responsible for the slaughter. A team of French investigators, led by two judges, re-examined a dozen eyewitness testimonies to work out where the two missiles that brought down Habyarimana's Dassault Falcon 50 plane were fired from, in an effort to determine final responsibility. Both sides had bases near the airport. The judges on Tuesday presented their report to Kagame's lawyers, who told media that they had concluded the shots could not have come from a military base occupied by Kagame's supporters.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Cambodia / Genocide Memorials

"Nhem En (above)
was recruited at 17
to be photographer
for Pol Pot."
(Lindsay Murdoch)
"Gentle, Intelligent" Man Turned Tyrant: Photographer Plans Pol Pot Memorial
By Lindsay Murdoch
The Sydney Morning Herald, January 7, 2012
"Many of the photographs taken at Cambodia's notorious Tuol Sleng interrogation centre are too gruesome to publish: a man shot in the head crawls through his own blood before his executioner finishes his grisly work. Victims stare without expression from images hanging on the walls of the centre where the women were dubbed 'she-animals' and the men enemies and traitors of Pol Pot's 1970s revolution. One photograph shows a mother cradling her sleeping baby. Another shows a girl's delicate beauty, defying the horror of the moment. But Nhem En, 52, Pol Pot's official photographer, says he cannot describe how he felt taking 10,000 photographs of Tuol Sleng's victims. 'I had no feelings about that ... I had the responsibility to do my work 100 per cent for the organisation,' Nhem En says, referring to Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge that was responsible for one of the worst genocides of the 20th century. 'I must work, think, talk, walk, eat for the organisation and not speak to anyone,' he says in a rare interview with a Western journalist. 'If the organisation lost confidence in me it would regard me as an enemy and I would be destroyed.' Nhem En sips beer in a French restaurant near Cambodia's fabled Angkor Wat temple and talks about building a memorial to Pol Pot in far northern Cambodia with the surprise backing of the government in Phnom Penh. He thinks Australians may want to donate to help build the project. The memorial will include a museum where Nhem En plans to display 2000 photographs he took of Pol Pot, who he says he first knew as a 'calm, gentle and highly intelligent' man with sincere intentions for all Cambodians before he became 'secretive, distrustful and brutal'. 'In the end Pol Pot thought he was god,' he says.

Canada / Rwanda

"Léon Mugesera, left, and lawyer Guy Bertrand ponder questions of a news conference on June 29, 2005 in Quebec City." (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
Accused Rwandan War Criminal Set for Deportation
By Les Perreaux
The Globe and Mail, January 5, 2012
"A Rwandan philosopher living in Quebec, who is accused of inciting the 1994 genocide with a venomous speech, may be about to test whether Rwandan justice can finally deliver a fair verdict. Léon Mugesera, whose deportation was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005, has received notice that his removal will take place on Jan. 12. Mr. Mugesera will ask for a delay and launch a last-ditch appeal in Federal Court on Monday. Mr. Mugesera’s removal has been put off for seven years over concerns he could face torture and death in Rwanda. Like many Western nations, Canada hesitated to return Rwandans accused of crimes against humanity because it was feared the African country was incapable of providing security or a fair trial in cases related to the 1994 massacre of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Hutu extremists. Federal officials could not answer questions about Mr. Mugesera on Thursday, saying they do not comment on specific cases, but it appears two rulings by international tribunals in late 2011 have paved the way for Mr. Mugesera's deportation. Dealing with separate cases involving Rwandans living in Norway and Sweden, the European Human Rights Court and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda each delivered landmark rulings ordering accused war criminals back to Rwanda. Each tribunal found the country’s courts can now provide sufficient independence and impartiality and its jails are safe enough for prisoners.

South Sudan

Accounts Emerge in South Sudan of 3,000 Deaths in Ethnic Violence
By Jeffrey Gettleman
The New York Times, January 5, 2012
"More than 3,000 villagers were massacred in the recent burst of communal violence in South Sudan, local officials said Thursday, with the fledging South Sudanese government, which just won its independence six months ago, seemingly unable to stem the bloodshed. If the death toll is confirmed -- United Nations officials and South Sudanese Army officers have yet to do that, saying they were still collecting information from the conflict zone -- this would be one of the deadliest clashes in South Sudan in recent memory. In the past two weeks, United Nations aircraft had been tracking an unusually large column of 6,000 to 8,000 heavily armed fighters from the Lou Nuer ethnic group as it advanced toward the town of Pibor, cutting a swath of destruction across the savanna. Pibor is the hometown of the Lou Nuer’s traditional rival, the Murle, and the two groups have been locked in a tit-for-tat cattle rustling feud for years, with the death toll steadily rising each round. According to Joshua Konyi, the commissioner of Pibor County and a Murle, 2,182 women and children and 959 men were killed, 1,293 children were abducted and 375,186 cows were stolen. 'We've been counting the bodies,' Mr. Konyi said by telephone from Pibor on Thursday night. 'It's really a genocide. If you come, you will see.' He said Lou Nuer fighters had mercilessly hunted down civilians who were cowering in the bush.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Israel / Jewish Holocaust

(Bernat Armangue/Associated Press)
Holocaust Survivors Outraged at Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Use of Nazi Imagery at Jerusalem Protest
Associated Press dispatch in The Washington Post
January 1, 2012
"Israeli Holocaust survivors and political leaders expressed outrage Sunday over a Jerusalem demonstration in which ultra-Orthodox Jews donned Star of David patches and uniforms similar to those the Nazis forced Jews to wear during World War II. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered Saturday night to protest what they say is a nationwide campaign directed against their lifestyle. The practices, which call for strict separation of the sexes, are rejected by mainstream Israelis as religious coercion. Ultra-Orthodox extremists have been under fire for their attempts to ban mixing of the sexes on buses, sidewalks and other public spaces. In one city, extremists have jeered and spit at girls walking to school, saying they are dressed immodestly. These practices, albeit by a fringe sect, have unleashed a backlash against the ultra-Orthodox in general. At Saturday's protest, children with traditional sidelocks wore the striped black-and-white uniforms associated with Nazi concentration camps. One child's hands were raised in surrender -- mimicking an iconic photo of a terrified Jewish boy in the Warsaw Ghetto. Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial called the use of Nazi imagery 'disgraceful,' and several other survivors' groups and politicians condemned the acts.