Saturday, March 25, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
March 19-25, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


"On Coup's Anniversary, Argentines Vow 'Never Again'"
By Larry Rohter
The New York Times, 25 March 2006 [Registration Required]
"Overcoming some resistance in Congress, President Néstor Kirchner succeeded earlier this month in making the date a permanent holiday, to be called the National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice. In response, many Argentines marched or held commemorative vigils across the country in recent days, while a few gathered outside the homes of former officials of the military dictatorship to hurl insults, eggs, rocks, sticks and containers of paint. At a ceremony at the military academy Friday afternoon, with human rights leaders sitting in the front row, just a few feet away from the military high command, Mr. Kirchner unveiled a plaque that promised 'Never again coups and state terrorism.' In the speech that followed, he castigated the armed forces for their 'criminal project' and 'plan for extermination' during their rule from 1976 through 1983, but added that other groups were also to blame. 'Sectors of society, the press, the church, the political class, also had their role,' as did 'powerful economic interests,' he said. 'Not all of them have acknowledged their responsibility for those facts.' [...]"

"Argentina: Coming to Terms with the Past"
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC Online, 24 March 2006
"No-one seems quite sure why this anniversary is different. But somehow the days leading up to 24 March 2006 -- 30 years since the military came to power in Argentina -- have captured the public attention like no other. Books have been written, plays performed and debates conducted. There are art exhibitions all over the country, plaques are being unveiled to commemorate the victims. Thousands will run in ten and three kilometre races on Sunday in memory of Miguel Sanchez, himself a runner and just one of the 30,000 killed during military rule between 1976 and 1983. ... As well as the continuing search for justice, this has also been a time to remember the dead. A plaque has been unveiled in the Plaza San Martin, in the centre of Buenos Aires, naming the victims from Argentina's religious communities. Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews and Muslims joined together to sing the national anthem and then heard the names of the victims read out. The Argentine military are firmly back in their barracks and some, humbled by the shame of the repression, have apologised for their actions in those dark years. After a debate in Congress last week, 24 March was declared a national holiday. It will not be a celebration but a day of reflection. In his prologue to the report Nunca Mas, the Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato said: 'It is only democracy which can save a people from horror on this scale.' [...]"

"Argentines Remember a Mother Who Joined the 'Disappeared'"
By Patrick J. McDonnell
The Los Angeles Times, 24 March 2006 [Registration Required]
"Azucena Villaflor was not a woman who sought fame or notoriety. The ex-telephone operator and shopkeeper with a grade-school educann an orderly home, put meals on the table and fretted about her four children. For most of her 53 years, Villaflor's only major political sentiment was an enduring devotion to Eva Peron, the iconic former first lady revered by the Argentine working cla... But as somber Argentines today mark the 30th anniversary of the military coup that ushered in the so-called dirty war, Villaflor is being remembered as an unlikely hero and patriot. Villaflor is credited with founding the era's landmark and much-emulated human rights group, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, whose haunting protests outside the rose-hued government center downtown helped discredit a dictatorship that touted itself as an ally of freedom and liberty. The mothers' white head scarves became a worldwide symbol of democratic resistance to an immoral regime bent on killing off its enemies -- a long list that began with leftists and trade unionists. In an era of roaming kidnapping squads and official impunity, Villaflor and other mothers posed a simple question: Dónde están? Where are they, our sons and daughters? Where, in her case, was her son, Nestor De Vicenti? She never lived to get an answer. Villaflor ultimately joined her son on the list of up to 30,000 people who 'disappeared' between 1976 and 1983. [...]"

"Argentina to Open Secret Archives"
BBC Online, 23 March 2006
"Argentina has decided to make public all secret archives of the armed forces to help uncover human rights violations committed under military rule. The decision was announced by Defence Minister Nilda Garre. It comes on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the coup, by which the military seized power in 1976. Human rights groups say up to 30,000 political opponents of the regime were kidnapped, detained and later executed during seven years of military rule. The government issued a decree to guarantee unrestricted access to information on what it said were grave acts committed during the so-called Dirty War. It ordered all the branches of the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence to provide access their secret files when required. Recovered documents will be kept at the National Memory Archive, an institution created by President Nestor Kirchner three years ago. Correspondents say the secret files could play a key role in trials against former military officers accused of human rights abuses, after the Argentine Congress voted to scrap laws protecting them from prosecution in 2003. [...]"

"Thirty Years On Argentina Still Tries to Come to Terms with Its 'Dirty War'"
By Ian Black
The Guardian, 22 March 2006
"[...] Friday's holiday is the initiative of Argentina's centre-left president, Nestor Kirchner, in 1976 a Peronist -- a follower of the charismatic former president Juan Peron and his wife Evita -- who lost many friends in the repression. Mr Kirchner is widely praised for his efforts to inscribe these atrocities 'in fire,' though some argue he should focus on the economy and crime, not the past. In the run-up to the anniversary, exhibitions and events are being held to catalogue this dark time. In the capital, near the Recoleto cemetery where the faithful still flock to see Evita's tomb, crowds peer at yellowing newspaper cuttings reporting missing children, men taken away at gunpoint and bodies washed up on Uruguyan beaches. But there is still much controversy. Part of the problem is that many welcomed the coup, at least at first, as the way to end the violence of leftwing guerrillas and rightwing death squads, and to curb strikes and catastrophic inflation. Those who have struggled for truth and justice dislike the term 'dirty war' and the moral equivalence it implies. 'This wasn't a war between "two demons,"' insists Ms Casareto. 'It was dictatorship and state terror.' [...]"


"Row Over US Ambassador's Armenia Genocide Remark"
By Rupert Cornwell
The Independent, 23 March 2006
"Protests are growing over the possible recall of the US ambassador in Armenia after he described the 1915 massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide. If he is recalled, it would be seen as giving in to Turkish pressure. Officially, John Marshall Evans remains -- for the time being at least -- Washington's man in Erevan. 'Ambassador Evans is our ambassador, and he continues ... to exercise that honour and privilege,' a State Department official said last week. But that assurance has satisfied neither the ethnic Armenian community in the US, nor members of Congress from southern California where the community is centred. Their suspicion is that a successor for Mr. Evans has already been lined up, and he will be ordered home. ... Mr. Evans caused a diplomatic sensation in February 2005 when he flatly called the massacres a genocide, during an appearance at the University of California at Berkeley. It was 'unbecoming of us as Americans to play word games here,' he declared. 'I will today call it the Armenian genocide.' By doing so, he became the first US official to use the loaded word in an Armenian context. Like the Clinton administration before it, the Bush administration has always referred to the slaughter as a massacre or a tragedy, but not as a genocide. The circumspection is widely seen as an effort not to upset Turkey, an important US ally in the Middle East that shares borders with Iraq and Iran. [...]"


"'Black Night' of Mar 25 Today"
The Daily Star (Dhaka) on News from Bangladesh, 25 March 2006
"The 'black night' of March 25 returns again evoking painful memories of a night of murder and mayhem, the beginning of genocide of millions of unarmed Bangalees by the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971. On this night in 1971, the Pakistani military rulers launched 'Operation Search Light' killing some 7,000 people in a single night. Dhaka University was attacked and students were exterminated in the hundreds. It was to be only the beginning. On March 26, the nation waged an armed struggle against the Pakistani occupation forces following the declaration of independence by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The Pakistani forces arrested Bangabandhu as he, through a wireless message, called upon the people to resist the occupation forces. Later, Awami League leader MA Hannan and Major Ziaur Rahman (later president of Bangladesh) read out the proclamation of independence on behalf of Bangabandhu, which was broadcast from Kalurghat radio station in Chittagong. The nine-month long liberation war that was sparked by the brutal invasion on this very night culminated in surrender of the 93,000-strong occupation force on December 16, 1971. Different socio-cultural and educational organisations have taken up elaborate programmes for tonight to observe the dark night of March 25. Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (The Committee to Uproot Killers and Collaborators of 1971) will bring out a candle-lit procession from Central Shaheed Minar in the capital at 8:00pm today. The nation will celebrate the 35th anniversary of its independence tomorrow. [...]"


"Thousands Flee from CAR Violence"
BBC Online, 25 March 2006
"Thousands of people have fled their homes to escape violence in the north of the Central African Republic (CAR). Aid agencies estimate that more than 7,000 refugees have crossed the border into Chad in the past few weeks. A BBC reporter who visited the area says refugees claim government troops are systematically killing men and boys they suspect of backing rebel groups. Central African Republic President Francois Bozize has blamed rebel groups for the unrest. The BBC's David Bamford says about 50,000 more refugees are thought to be hiding in the forest after being forced to flee their villages. Our correspondent says international aid agencies have known for some time that a new human tragedy is unfolding in the north of the CAR. But while the agencies can just about function in regions such as Darfur and eastern Congo, the level of insecurity in the northern CAR is so bad they cannot operate there at all, our correspondent says. Those refugees able to reach the relative safety of Chad are telling graphic stories of how soldiers in their tell-tale green berets are allegedly shooting local men and boys who they suspect may back rebel groups opposed to Mr Bozize. Mr. Bozize has in turn blamed rebels and bandits for the killings. Mr. Bozize seized power three years ago, and since he stood successfully in a presidential election last year, a rebel movement has emerged in the north."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch. As in Darfur, a gendercidal pattern against "fighting-age" men and adolescent boys is evident.]


"Spreading Genocide to Chad"
The New York Times (Editorial), 20 March 2006
"After the Holocaust, the world vowed it wouldn't stand back and allow genocide to happen again. Bosnia, Cambodia and Rwanda showed how empty that promise was. Darfur was yet another reminder that when it comes to standing up to stop the slaughter of entire peoples, the nations of the world remain pitifully inadequate. And now, as if the hundreds of thousands of Africans killed in Sudan weren't enough, the Arab militias financed by the government of Sudan to 'cleanse' Darfur of blacks are moving across the border into neighboring Chad. Our colleague Nicholas Kristof reports that the janjaweed -- the name given to the Arab militias -- have unleashed their fury on villages in Chad, riding in and killing and raping, accompanied by their standard shouting of racial epithets like 'black slaves.' ... Is this really what we have come to? The United Nations has described the carnage in Darfur as the world's biggest humanitarian crisis but continues to prove itself completely useless at doing anything to stop it. In the Security Council, China protects Sudan. Europe, for its part, has been inert. [...]"


"Ethiopia Drops Treason, Genocide Charges Against VOA Journalists, 13 Others"
Voice of America, 22 March 2006
"An Ethiopian court has dropped charges of treason and genocide against 18 people, including five journalists for the Voice of America. Ethiopia's Federal High Court ordered the charges dropped Wednesday at a hearing in the capital, Addis Ababa. VOA Director David Jackson welcomed the move. He said the VOA has always maintained the charges were without merit and said VOA employees will continue to bring accurate and objective news to Ethiopia. The five VOA journalists,(Negussie Mengesha, Addisu Abebe, Tizita Belachew, Adanech Fessehaye and Solomon Kifle, work in Washington and were never in Ethiopian custody. The Ethiopian government continues to prosecute 111 opposition members and others charged following two outbreaks of deadly violence last year. More than 80 people died when security forces clashed with demonstrators protesting election results that the opposition says were rigged. Several others whose charges were dropped today were also being tried in absentia. The next hearing against the opposition members is scheduled for May 2."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Death Squads on the Prowl in a Nation Paralysed By Fear"
By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent, 20 March 2006
"Iraq is a country paralysed by fear. It is at its worst in Baghdad. Sectarian killings are commonplace. In the three days after the bombing of the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February, some 1,300 people, mostly Sunni, were picked up on the street or dragged from their cars and murdered. The dead bodies of four suspected suicide bombers were left dangling from a pylon in the Sadr City slum. The scale of the violence is such that most of it is unreported. Iyad Allawi, the former prime minister, said yesterday that scores were dying every day. 'It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day, as an average, 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more,' he said. 'If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is.' Unseen by the outside world, silent populations are on the move, frightened people fleeing neighbourhoods where their community is in a minority for safer districts. There is also a growing reliance on militias because of fears that police patrols or checkpoints are in reality death squads hunting for victims. Districts where Sunni and Shia lived together for decades if not centuries are being torn apart in a few days. ... All Iraq is suffering, but Baghdad and the central provinces are turning into a slaughter house. [...]"

"Why Iraq's Police Are a Deadly Problem"
By Christopher Allbritton, 20 March 2006
"[...] The U.S. State Department, in a report released two weeks ago, documented numerous incidents in 2005, dating back to early May when Jabr was first appointed Interior Minister, where Sunni men were killed execution-style by Interior Ministry police or Shi'ite militias. In each case, Jabr ordered an investigation, and in each case the investigation had yet to report any findings. Thanks in part to the Interior Minister's 'nonfeasance,' said Burke ['Jerry Burke, a former civilian senior police advisor to the Interior Ministry'], the former Interior Ministry adviser, Jabr was at least indirectly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of military-age Sunni men whose bodies have turned up at the sewage plant in southeast Baghdad since late December. Men in police uniforms and vehicles routinely travel through the city in daylight hours with bodies in the back of trucks for disposal at the sewage plant, he said. Prisoners often disappear, Burke said, because they're picked up at night and no one has an accurate account of who is arrested and where they are taken. 'The Special Police Commandos,' he said, using their old name, 'are most definitely out of control.' [...]"


"41% of Israel's Jews Favour Segregation"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 24 March 2006
"A poll of attitudes among Israel's Jews towards their country's Arab citizens has exposed widespread racism, with large numbers favouring segregation and policies to encourage Arabs to leave the country. The poll found that more than two-thirds of Jews would refuse to live in the same building as an Arab. Nearly half would not allow an Arab in their home and 41% want segregation of entertainment facilities. The survey also found 40% of Israel's Jews believe 'the state needs to support the emigration of Arab citizens,' a policy advocated by some far-right parties in the run-up to next week's general election. The poll was conducted by a respected Israeli organisation, Geocartographia, for the Centre for the Struggle Against Racism, founded by Arab-Israeli academics. 'Racism is becoming mainstream,' said the centre's director, Bachar Ouda. 'When people talk about transfer [removal] or about Arabs as a demographic timebomb no one raises their voice against such statements. This is a worrisome phenomenon. The time has arrived for the Jewish population, who experienced what racism is on its flesh, to wake up and change its way.' Among the poll's other findings was that 63% of Jewish Israelis consider their country's Arab citizens a 'security and demographic threat to the state.' Some 18% said they felt hatred when they heard someone speaking Arabic, and 34% agreed with the statement that 'Arab culture is inferior to Israeli culture.' [...]"

"Starve the Palestinians"
By William A. Cook, 21 March 2006
"On the third anniversary of America's invasion of Iraq broadcast in full shock and awe to the world via green TV screens that all might see the night devastation of the city, another invasion was underway in Gaza, a silent invasion of human rights that, in its barbarity, casts its own shock and awe, the starvation of the people of Gaza by closure of that prison's gates by Israeli IDF. David Shearer of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OCHA) stated, 'What we were warning before was that stocks (of wheat) were getting low. Today we are saying stocks are gone, and the end point has been reached.' Israel has closed Gaza's commercial lifeline, the Al-Minter Crossing, these past 50 days in peak harvest time, preventing the export of goods and stopping the import of bread supplies. 3,594 MT of wheat flour contracted to local mills did not enter. Now there is no bread and the 70% of Palestinians living below the poverty line have no food. This barbarity one does not expect from the people who cried for protection from fascist forces when they were under siege. Perhaps as we watch the Israelis enter their voting booths on the 28th, we might hope that the branding of Israel as a genocidal nation might cause a twinge of moral outrage and put into office a government that would seek reconciliation with the Palestinians rather than devastation of them. Perhaps the world communities might get a chance to see behind the veil of silence that shrouds what takes place in Palestine and keeps the horror from the eyes of Americans and Europeans. [...]"


"Lithuanian 'WWII Nazi' on Trial"
BBC Online, 20 March 2006
"An 85-year-old man accused of collaborating with the Nazis and persecuting Jews during World War II has gone on trial in Lithuania. Algimantas Dailide pleaded not guilty to crimes against 14 civilians -- two Poles and 12 Jews -- while a member of the Nazi-backed security police. He was deported from the US to Germany in 2004, having fled after the war. It is only the third trial of a suspected Nazi war criminal in any of the Baltic states since independence. Mr. Dailide still holds Lithuanian citizenship but has been living in Germany with his family since his deportation. He is said to have taken part in the wartime arrest of Jewish men, women and children who were attempting to escape from forced confinement in the Vilnius Jewish ghetto between 1941 and 1944. Two Poles were also said to have been arrested for political reasons. Many of the Jews arrested by the Saugumas, as the security police were known, were shot at execution pits at Paneriai, a wooded area outside Vilnius where some 50,000 Jews were killed during the war. More than 200,000 Jews were killed in Lithuania during the war -- many by their neighbours working with the occupying Nazi forces. [...]"


"Johnson-Sirleaf Urges Speedy Taylor Extradition"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 22 March 2006
"Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, on a red-carpet visit to the United States, called on Tuesday for exiled former Liberian strongman Charles Taylor to be extradited home swiftly. 'I wish we had the luxury of time on this issue. But it has become an impediment to our being able to move forward to be able to pursue our development agenda,' she said after talks with United States President George Bush. Johnson-Sirleaf, the first woman to be elected head of state in Africa, received a hero's welcome from the US president, who praised her as a 'pioneer' after talks in the Oval Office and held a luncheon in her honour. Johnson-Sirleaf told reporters that Bush had pledged to consult with African leaders 'so that a fair decision is taken' on Taylor's fate that would ensure 'the stability of Liberia,' which Taylor fled in 2003 for Nigeria. Johnson-Sirleaf said that her government had held talks on the matter with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who has come under increasing international pressure to allow Taylor to be tried for alleged crimes against humanity. Obasanjo invited Taylor to Nigeria in order to bring an end to a 14-year-civil war which pitched the guerrilla chief turned elected ruler against two powerful rebel groups. The UN-backed Special Court in Sierra Leone has indicted Taylor on charges of sponsoring rebels who waged a gruesome war in that country's 1990s civil conflict. [...]"

"After the Warlords"
Interview with Jon Lee Anderson by Amy Davidson
The New Yorker, 20 March 2006
"[...] Q. What you are describing -- how common, how ordinary the atrocities and horrors in Liberia are -- how do Liberians deal with that on a day-to-day level? How do they get along with each other after that, as neighbors or co-workers or people sitting next to each other on the bus? Do they talk about it, or is there a silence? A. Most people wear it under the surface, like they do in other countries where these holocausts have occurred -- in Cambodia and so many other places that we could mention. But it's there. Most people have been brutalized and traumatized to the extent that they have nothing left, so their struggle is about daily existence. That's something very difficult for us affluent Westerners to comprehend. Liberians have always been very religious, both tribally -- animist, that is -- and as Christians, which are the majority. They cling to their faith. There's been a flowering of churches in the country. There were always a lot of them, but now they're everywhere. And this is a great solace to many -- for instance, Christian ideas of redemption and reconciliation. Religion and spirituality are very important in Liberia today, I would say even more so than politics. But there's this silence. There's a real problem in Liberia today of rape, a very big problem. And also of mob violence. People are beaten or burned to death if they're caught thieving. I was going to the market one day and I saw a young man being chased by a mob, and he was lucky that a policeman happened to be nearby and saved him. What struck me was that the adolescents who were following the thief, who was not much older than they were, were laughing and singing as they chased him. It was like a sport. But there was obviously a great hatred under the surface, a need to exorcise all those unreconciled demons on something physical. So these are the kinds of terrible things that are haunting the landscape, which is what [President] Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is really going to have to tackle if she's ever going to make Liberia healthy again. [...]"


"Drug Barons Take a Shine to Rebels"
By Jeremy McDermott
The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 March 2006 (from The Telegraph)
"The brutal rebel movement, the Shining Path, long thought to be all but extinct, is on the warpath again, boosted by an alliance with drug traffickers. Its Maoist guerillas almost vanished after the capture of their founder and leader, Abimael Guzman, in 1993, with only a few hundred left sheltering in remote highlands. But those mountains are now the setting for a dramatic resurgence in the coca industry, and veteran fighters are now serving new masters, the drug barons. Peru threatens to reclaim its title as the world's foremost coca producer, snatched from it by Colombia in the 1990s. 'All the conditions are ready for a rapid expansion of the Shining Path, as happened with Colombian rebels in the 1980s,' said Colonel Benedicto Jimenez, the policeman who caught Guzman. Most coca production in Peru is said to be controlled by Jose Flores, known as Artemio, the most senior Shining Path commander still at large. Eight policemen were killed in an ambush at Aucayacu in December after police refused to come to an 'arrangement' with the drug lords. 'The Shining Path have become contract killers for drug traffickers,' said a former interior minister, Fernando Rospigliosi. [...]"


"From Neighbors to Killers: Book Explores Personal Horror of Rwanda's Genocide", 21 March 2006
"Scott Straus became a foreign correspondent stationed in central Africa in 1995, one year after one of the most unspeakable crimes in modern history: A swift genocide campaign in Rwanda that killed a half-million people. Straus says what he saw as a journalist left him with many questions about how and why genocide happens. Straus later returned to Rwanda in 2002 as a graduate student and conducted scores of interviews exploring how such a mass crime became possible. The first of what will be two books based on those efforts -- 'Intimate Enemy: Images and Voices of the Rwandan Genocide' -- was published this month by Zone Books; the second book will be available in fall 2006. In 2002, Straus interviewed 230 perpetrators who were serving out sentences for genocide crimes. 'Intimate Enemy' combines transcripts of some of the most revealing interviews Straus conducted with a series of personal photo portraits by photojournalist Robert Lyons. The book deals head-on with one of the most disturbing aspects of the genocide -- that it was carried out, in essence, by everyday people, who quickly transformed from neighbors to killers. 'One of the things that's very disarming about studying perpetrators is you go in expecting to find a monster, people who are not like us,' says Straus, now a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. What he found was quite the opposite. The perpetrators looked like a composite sketch of Rwanda's adult population -- farmers, school teachers, fishermen and carpenters. Straus teaches a comparative course on genocide at UW-Madison, and he says the mainstream, 'intimate' nature of Rwanda's violence was more pronounced than other historical cases. ... In the end it became 'a true extermination campaign,' which killed 75 percent of the Tutsi population. The war also created millions of refugees and overwhelmed the nation's justice system, which by 1996 had more than 100,000 detainees held on genocide-related charges. 'The violence was also very public,' he says. 'Unlike the gas chambers during the later stages of the Holocaust, this was right out in the streets. People would flee to churches and schools for safety, and those places would become massacre sites.' [...]"

"Rwanda: Country Working On Waiving Death Penalty for UN Court Suspects, Says Official"
Hirondelle News Agency dispatch on, 20 March 2006
"The Rwandan government is working on details of a law to waive capital punishment for any genocide suspects that might be transferred to its courts from the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Rwanda's permanent envoy to the court said on Sunday. 'Our position on the issue of the death penalty was made clear by the president, we are ready to remove the death penalty for suspects from the ICTR. All that is left now are the details we are working on,' said Aloys Mutabingwa. Mutabingwa was responding to a question on a talk show broadcast by Kigali's Radio Contact. The death penalty has been a major issue of contention in the negotiations to hand over genocide suspects in ICTR custody to Rwandan courts. Officials in Rwanda have on occasions given conflicting positions on the matter with some denying that Rwanda would accede to the ICTR's demands of guaranteeing that none of the suspects would be subject to capital punishment. The ICTR is scheduled to close all trials at first instance in 2008. The court has been looking for countries ready to take on some trials such that it can meet the deadline. [...]"

"Anger at BBC Genocide Film"
By Alice O'Keeffe
The Observer, 19 March 2006
"A BBC-funded film about the Rwandan genocide billed as an 'authentic re-creation' of a real-life story, is facing criticism for exacerbating the trauma experienced by genocide survivors. Backed by the Rwandan government, shot on location in the country and to be premiered there this week, Shooting Dogs was intended to raise awareness of the conflict. Aid organisations are now saying that it was a shot with a lack of sensitivity so soon after the events. The film, which stars Hugh Dancy and John Hurt, tells the story of a massacre at a school, L'Ecole Technique Officielle, during the genocide in 1994. It includes scenes in which machete-wielding Interahamwe militia close in on the building, hacking women and children to death. It was filmed where the atrocity took place, using many local people, including genocide survivors, as extras and members of the crew. Aid workers have expressed concern that some local people were traumatised by witnessing the reconstruction. On one occasion, students from a nearby school had to be taken to hospital and sedated when they suffered flashbacks after overhearing the chants and whistles of the angry mob. One member of the crew suffered a breakdown when he was taken back to the street where he had been forced to hide down a manhole for three months to escape the killers. 'In Rwanda, if you see a machete being wielded it doesn't matter if it's for a film -- it seems real,' said Mary Kayitesi Blewitt, director of the UK-based Rwandan charity Survivors' Fund. 'When the shoot was over, we had to step up trauma counselling. It took some people six months to overcome the anxiety, fear and paranoia.' [...]"

"History? This Film is Fiction"
By Linda Melvern
The Observer, 19 March 2006
"[...] The film is billed as an 'authentic recreation', shot on location with Rwandan extras playing the roles of the Interahamwe militia. The film is said to be based on the 'true story' and 'real events' that took place in the first days of the killing. The story centres on a massacre at a school, the Ecole Technique Officielle (ETO), where Belgian peacekeepers abandoned thousands of people, ordered by the Belgian government to help, instead, with the frenzied evacuation of all expatriates. A BBC journalist is present at the school and challenges the peacekeepers as they leave, using the word genocide to describe what is happening. But this is fiction. There was no BBC film crew at ETO. There were no BBC film crews in Rwanda in those crucial early weeks. Nor did BBC news broadcasts tell the world a genocide was underway. In April 1994, as the massacre took place, the BBC was reporting the evacuation of expats and the renewed civil war between 'tribal factions'. Shooting Dogs shows a shocking disregard for the historical record. It was not until 29 April that the word genocide was used by the BBC. The press was no better. Later, the first international inquiry into the genocide was to conclude that the Western media's failure to describe the genocide underway in Rwanda had contributed to the crime itself. It was left to NGOs, notably Oxfam and Amnesty International, to draw attention to the terrible events. And while the school scene portrays the BBC journalist as heroic and the peacekeepers as brutish and uncaring, the film omits any reference at all to the later bravery of volunteer peacekeepers who did save lives in Rwanda. [...]"


"UN Speeds Up Darfur Peace Mission"
BBC Online, 25 March 2006
"The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to speed up preparations for UN peacekeepers to be deployed to Darfur in western Sudan. The council is calling on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to come up with a range of options within one month. The African Union had been planning to keep its peacekeepers in Darfur until September and then hand the operation over to the UN. But Sudan's government objects to the proposed handover. The Security Council is asking Mr Annan to liaise with the African Union, Khartoum and the rebels to come up with a plan. 'It's a real step forward in building peace across the entire country,' Britain's UN Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said in a statement. The resolution also extended the mandate of a separate UN peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan, which was due to expire on Friday. ... The head of UN peacekeeping operations, Jean-Marie Guehenno said: 'There is a sense of urgency, I think from everybody, that there are people who are dying, that there is still violence in Darfur. That needs to be stopped.'"

"Genocide's Neighbors"
The Washington Post (Editorial), 24 March 2006 [Registration Required]
"A month ago President Bush called for doubling the peacekeeping force in the Sudanese region of Darfur and expanding the role of NATO countries in bolstering it. Since then, the case for intervention has only grown stronger: There have been fresh reports of death-squad attacks on civilians in Darfur and of violence spilling into neighboring Chad. But the odds of deploying a serious peace force have receded, despite the president's words. The reason is that Sudan's government, the chief sponsor of Sudan's genocide, has threatened violent resistance to a muscular deployment. And Sudan's bluster carries more weight than Mr. Bush's statements. ... Even if a U.N. deployment is off the table until this fall, the United States and its allies have other options. They can press for the enlargement of the existing African Union force and support it with better equipment and logistics. They can enforce a no-fly zone in Darfur, preventing Sudanese government helicopters from supporting ground attacks by the Janjaweed death squads. And they can demand that neighboring countries such as Libya and Egypt support these actions. Don't these Muslim countries care about the genocidal slaughter of Muslims?"
[n.b. Thanks to Yadira Martinez Pantoja for forwarding this link.]

"Darfur Attacks Overwhelm Peace Force, U.N. Reports"
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times, 22 March 2006 [Registration Required]
"The United Nations special envoy to Sudan said Tuesday that violence was rising in Darfur and that lack of progress in the south was jeopardizing a peace agreement that ended a separate conflict there. The official, Jan Pronk, told the Security Council that killings, rapes and armed attacks on Darfur villagers were committed by armed gangs secure in the knowledge that no one would stop or punish them. 'In South Darfur, militia continue to cleanse village after village,' he said. 'The government has not disarmed them. On the contrary, African Union commanders on the ground openly speak about continued support to militia by forces allied to the government.' In what the United Nations calls the greatest humanitarian crisis and the Bush administration has labeled genocide, more than 200,000 people in Darfur have been killed and up to 2 million black villagers driven from their homes by Arab militias. Mr. Pronk called on the international community to augment and assist the 7,000 African Union troops now in Sudan and not wait until the force is reorganized later this year as a United Nations force. The African Union agreed this month to turn its peacekeeping mission in Darfur over to the United Nations in the fall. John R. Bolton, the American ambassador, told reporters that the United States would soon be circulating a Security Council resolution to help provide a smooth transition and broaden the mission. Sudan has said it will not accept United Nations troops until a Darfur peace agreement is struck in talks now going on in Abuja, the Nigerian capital. [...]"

"The World's Shame for Doing Too Little in Darfur"
By Gene Sperling, 22 March 2006
"[...] Last month, President George W. Bush momentarily provoked hope by making an emotional call for doubling the current peacekeeping presence and providing 'NATO stewardship.' But the White House immediately seemed to downplay Bush's comments. It is still unclear if the African Union will fulfill a commitment to hand over control of its peacekeeping operation to a stronger U.N. force. As a result, tireless Darfur advocate John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group, has called the intervening weeks since Bush's statement a 'death blow for meaningful action.' Khartoum has blunted calls for NATO action with threats to make Sudan a 'graveyard' for foreign fighters. In addition, the U.S. now seems to be making its call for more multilateral troops contingent on completion of a regional peace agreement. These two developments sadly signify that Sudan's government is being allowed to call the shots. It can block additional peacekeepers by either stymieing an accord or upping its threats. What is missing is any credible signal from the international community that the outlaw leaders in the government will face consequences for facilitating mass murder and stalling solutions to stop it. ... Sudanese leaders should be denied visas, have their assets frozen, and be made to feel like they will be forever scarred with the 'genocide letter.' Even if the U.S. will not join the International Criminal Court, it should help the body by sharing any information it has about possible war criminals. But nothing can be satisfactory unless there is an immediate plan to halt the mass killings, rapes and terrorizing of civilians. [...]"

"The Janjaweeds Are So Beautiful This Time of Year"
By Lloyd Grove, 22 March 2006
"Human-rights activists are scorching The New York Times for taking almost a million dollars in advertising from the blood-soaked country of Sudan, whose leaders ... promote slavery and genocide on a grand scale. 'I practically fell off my seat on the subway this morning. I could not believe it,' Human Rights Watch program director Iain Levine told me about the eight-page advertising supplement, for which The Times charged the Sudanese an estimated $929,000 for yesterday's New York-area editions. The ad copy -- by international image consultants Summit Communications -- touts Sudan's 'peaceful, prosperous and democratic future' and complains about international media coverage 'focused almost exclusively on the fighting between rebels and Arab militias' in Darfur ... Times spokeswoman Catherine J. Mathis said: 'We accepted this special advertising section ... in our strong belief that all pages of the paper -- news, editorial and advertising -- must remain open to the free flow of ideas. In accepting it, we do not endorse the politics, trade practices or actions of the country or the character of its leaders.'"


"Iraqi Police Report Details Civilians' Deaths at Hands of U.S. Troops"
By Matthew Schofield
KnightRidder dispatch on, 20 March 2006
"Iraqi police have accused American troops of executing 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant, in the aftermath of a raid last Wednesday on a house about 60 miles north of Baghdad. The villagers were killed after American troops herded them into a single room of the house, according to a police document obtained by Knight Ridder Newspapers. The soldiers also burned three vehicles, killed the villagers' animals and blew up the house, the document said. A U.S. military spokesman, Major Tim Keefe, said that the U.S. military has no information to support the allegations and that he had not heard of them before a reporter brought them to his attention Sunday. ... The report of the killings in the Abu Sifa area of Ishaqi, eight miles north of the city of Balad, is unusual because it originated with Iraqi police and because Iraqi police were willing to attach their names to it. ... The report filed by the Joint Coordination Center, which was based on a report filed by local police, said U.S. forces entered the house while it was still standing. 'The American forces gathered the family members in one room and executed 11 persons, including five children, four women and two men,' the report said. 'Then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals.' The report identified the dead by name, giving their ages. The two men killed were 22 and 28. Of the women, two were 22 years old, one was 30 and one was 75. Two of the children were 5 years old, two were 3, and the fifth was 6 months old, the document said. [...]"

"One Morning in Haditha"
By Tim McGirk, 19 March 2006
"[...] The details of what happened that morning in Haditha are more disturbing, disputed and horrific than the military initially reported. According to eyewitnesses and local officials interviewed over the past 10 weeks, the civilians who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside bomb but by the Marines themselves, who went on a rampage in the village after the attack, killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children. Human-rights activists say that if the accusations are true, the incident ranks as the worst case of deliberate killing of Iraqi civilians by U.S. service members since the war began. In January, after Time presented military officials in Baghdad with the Iraqis' accounts of the Marines' actions, the U.S. opened its own investigation, interviewing 28 people, including the Marines, the families of the victims and local doctors. According to military officials, the inquiry acknowledged that, contrary to the military's initial report, the 15 civilians killed on Nov. 19 died at the hands of the Marines, not the insurgents. ... Because the incident is officially under investigation, members of the Marine unit that was in Haditha on Nov. 19 are not allowed to speak with reporters. But the military's own reconstruction of events and the accounts of town residents interviewed by Time -- including six whose family members were killed that day -- paint a picture of a devastatingly violent response by a group of U.S. troops who had lost one of their own to a deadly insurgent attack and believed they were under fire. Time obtained a videotape that purports to show the aftermath of the Marines' assault and provides graphic documentation of its human toll. What happened in Haditha is a reminder of the horrors faced by civilians caught in the middle of war -- and what war can do to the people who fight it. [...]"

"In Secret Unit's 'Black Room,' A Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse"
By Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall
The New York Times, 19 March 2006
"[...] The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away. Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, 'NO BLOOD, NO FOUL.' The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: 'If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it.' According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. 'The reality is, there were no rules there,' another Pentagon official said. The story of detainee abuse in Iraq is a familiar one. But the following account of Task Force 6-26, based on documents and interviews with more than a dozen people, offers the first detailed description of how the military's most highly trained counterterrorism unit committed serious abuses. It adds to the picture of harsh interrogation practices at American military prisons in Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, as well as at secret Central Intelligence Agency detention centers around the world. The new account reveals the extent to which the unit members mistreated prisoners months before and after the photographs of abuse from Abu Ghraib were made public in April 2004, and it helps belie the original Pentagon assertions that abuse was confined to a small number of rogue reservists at Abu Ghraib. [...]"


"Uzbek Defendants Detail 'Torture'"
By Ian MacWilliam
BBC Online, 20 March 2006
"Eight young men in Uzbekistan have given details in court of methods of torture they say investigators used to try to force them to confess. The accounts were unusually detailed, a representative of Human Rights Watch attending the trial in Tashkent, said. Human rights groups, including the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, have accused Uzbekistan repeatedly of the use of torture. The government has in the past denied using illegal methods of interrogation. The eight men in their early 20s, most with young families, are small market traders from the provincial town of Yangiyul. All were detained on minor charges unrelated to religion, but were subsequently accused of being Muslim extremists. All deny the charges. The only evidence of extremism so far presented in court is that they sometimes prayed together in the market. Five of the men, who have been held in detention for the past three months, said that investigators told them to remove their clothes and then beat them severely on the head, neck and back with truncheons. One man was made to lie on the floor and was jumped on, he said. Another said his interrogators threatened to sodomise him with a truncheon. One defendant was so severely beaten he could not walk. Others were made to watch or listen while their companions were beaten, the court heard. The last defendant collapsed in court while giving his statement. [...]"


"Agent Orange Victims Fight Back"
By Ngoc Nguyen and Aaron Glantz
Asia Times, 21 March 2006
"Vietnam, which is bidding for World Trade Organization membership and is already signatory to a trade deal with its former nemesis in Washington, is still grappling with the huge social and economic consequences of its military conflict with the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. The legacy of the United States' use of Agent Orange tops that list. From 1962 to 1971, the US military dumped an estimated 83 million liters of highly toxic herbicides, including Agent Orange, mostly over Vietnam but also Laos and Cambodia, in an attempt to flush out jungle-covered guerrilla fighters. Agent Orange contained trace amounts of dioxin, a toxic substance known to cause cancer in humans at high doses. A group of alleged Vietnamese victims are the first to seek legal redress and compensation from the US companies, namely Dow Chemical and Monsanto Corp, that then manufactured the chemical. In their complaint filed in New York, they claimed the defoliant had caused widespread birth defects, miscarriages, diabetes and cancer, and should be considered a war crime against millions of Vietnamese. The chemical companies, for their part, have maintained that no such scientific link has ever been proved, and that the US government, not the companies, should be held responsible for how the chemical was deployed. A US judge this month threw out the case against the companies, ruling that there was no legal basis for the alleged victims' claims. The court had come under heavy lobbying from the US Justice Department to rule against the plaintiffs, because of Washington's fears of the legal precedent it would set in other countries ravaged by US military interventions. The Vietnamese veterans' association has appealed the ruling, and hearings in that appeal are to commence next month. [...]"


"Humans Spur Worst Extinctions Since Dinosaurs"
By Alister Doyle
Reuters dispatch in The Scotsman, 20 March 2006
"Humans are responsible for the worst spate of extinctions since the dinosaurs and must make unprecedented extra efforts to reach a goal of slowing losses by 2010, a U.N. report said on Monday. Habitats ranging from coral reefs to tropical rainforests face mounting threats, the Secretariat of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity said in the report, issued at the start of a March 20-31 U.N. meeting in Curitiba, Brazil. 'In effect, we are currently responsible for the sixth major extinction event in the history of earth, and the greatest since the dinosaurs disappeared, 65 million years ago,' said the 92-page Global Biodiversity Outlook 2 report. Apart from the disappearance of the dinosaurs, the other 'Big Five' extinctions were about 205, 250, 375 and 440 million years ago. Scientists suspect that asteroid strikes, volcanic eruptions or sudden climate shifts may explain the five. A rising human population of 6.5 billion was undermining the environment for animals and plants via pollution, expanding cities, deforestation, introduction of 'alien species' and global warming, it said. It estimated the current pace of extinctions was 1,000 times faster than historical rates, jeopardizing a global goal set at a 2002 U.N. summit in Johannesburg 'to achieve, by 2010, a significant reduction in the current rate of biodiversity loss.' [...]"


"Rights Defenders Targeted Worldwide, Report Says", 21 March 2006
"More than 1,100 human rights defenders in 90 countries like Colombia, China and Russia were targeted for their activism last year and many were murdered, tortured or jailed, a report released on Wednesday showed. Repression of activists was particularly high in Asia, led by China, Iran and Nepal, according to the joint report by the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Geneva-based World Organization Against Torture (OMCT). Belarus and Russia were among those who made it harder to register non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and Mexico and the Democratic Republic of Congo used smear campaigns to discredit rights groups, according to the 'Steadfast in Protest' report, released in Geneva. 'This year again, the list is long of the women and men who risked everything in order to promote and defend human rights,' the report said. It cited a wide variety of repression tactics including assassinations, torture, ill-treatment, death threats, arbitrary arrests and detentions, judicial proceedings and adoption of restrictive legislation. In all, 1,172 cases of repression were reported. This included some 117 murders or attempted assassinations, 92 cases of ill-treatment or torture, 56 physical attacks and 315 arbitrary detentions. [...]"


"Brown Skin, Yellow Star"
By Juan Santos, 22 March 2006
"As I write, the US Senate is debating legislation that would make migrant peoples a felonized, legally scapegoated racial and cultural under-caste, a move with deeply dangerous implications for us all. Maybe it wasn't such a lie, what the German people said after Hitler -- 'we didn't know.' ... We won't need a yellow star. The color of our skin will mark us as suspects, as felons, as threats to 'the homeland.' Any cop will be free to stop us at any time, under any pretext, to check -- not for dope -- but for our 'papers.' At first it won't seem like much. Quietly, at first, a few of us will begin to disappear, just like some 60 thousand immigrants of Muslim and Arabic descent have disappeared since the onset of the Patriot Act; without a word. Like them, we will become targets of the so-called 'war on terror.' First it will be dozens, then hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands. Mothers will disappear walking to the corner store. Fathers will never come home from work. Children will be left behind, sobbing in apartments empty of food, warmth, money and life. The neighbors will be afraid. The tens of thousands could readily become millions. The picture painted above is nothing but hard headed realism. Legislation now before the US Senate would make every undocumented person in the US a felon and authorize every police department in the country to arrest people on immigration charges. The size of the Border Patrol would, in effect, increase by 60 times, from the current 11,000 Migra agents to 663,546 enforcers. If each authorized officer in the US arrested one undocumented migrant once every three months, within five years over 11 million migrants would be gone -- an ethnic cleansing without parallel in US history. [...]"


"A Step Forward for International Justice"
By Peter Grier
The Christian Science Monitor, 22 March 2006
"As court appearances go, it was short -- particularly considering the gravity of the defendant's alleged crimes. On Monday, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga stood before the International Criminal Court for 30 minutes. He wore a dark suit and yellow tie, and gave his occupation as 'politician.' Still, for the cause of international justice, this exchange may have been a big step. Mr. Lubanga is the first suspect to stand trial before The Hague-based permanent war crimes tribunal. Four years after its creation, the ICC is finally in business. The ICC is controversial in the US, and some other big war crimes trials have struggled of late. But overall, the advent of the ICC may be emblematic of the world's increasing efforts to try and bring the worst tyrants to the dock. 'There's no reversing the momentum at this point in time,' says Louis Aucoin, a professor at the Institute for Human Security at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. According to the ICC, Lubanga was the founder and leader of one of the most dangerous militias in Congo's lawless northeastern district of Ituri. Militia violence in that region has caused tens of thousands of casualties in recent years. He will be charged with recruiting children under the age of 15 for service as soldiers, and perhaps with other crimes, said ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. The ICC has issued warrants for the arrest of alleged war criminals from Uganda, but Lubanga is the first suspect to be captured and transferred to ICC custody. That's a major step for the tribunal, said Mr. Moreno-Ocampo this week. [...]"

"Congo Warlord Handed to International Court"
By Marlese Simons
The New York Times, 19 March 2006 [Registration Required]
"A Congolese militia leader accused of abducting children and turning them into soldiers and sex slaves has become the first suspect to be delivered to the new International Criminal Court, the chief prosecutor announced Saturday. The former warlord, Thomas Lubanga, arrived at the court's detention center in The Hague late Friday after being flown here on a French military plane, the prosecutor said. Mr. Lubanga had been imprisoned since last year in Congo, whose authorities handed him over to the court for trial. 'He has been accused of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into armed groups and using them in hostilities,' the prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said at a news conference. The crimes involved were 'extremely serious,' he said. 'Throughout the world, children are being trained to become machines of war.' Mr. Lubanga is scheduled to appear at a court hearing on Monday, the start of a new phase in the history of the I.C.C. The court, the first permanent international war crimes court, was founded in The Hague in 2002 over the objections of the United States. Mr. Lubanga, 45, was the founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, one of the most dangerous militias in the Congo's northeastern Ituri district. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that investigators had worked for months in the region almost surreptitiously because armed groups were still active in the area 'and they could kill our witnesses.' He said that further charges against the militia leader were still being prepared, but much evidence was already available, including photographs from camps where children as young as 7 were being trained to become soldiers. [...]"

"Milosevic's Death Boosts Serb ICJ Defence"
By Merdijana Sadovic
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 17 March 2006
"When the team of lawyers representing Belgrade in Bosnia’s genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro packed their briefcases last Friday and left the imposing baroque Justice Hall of the International Court of Justice, ICJ, little did they know that just a day later their case would get an unexpected boost -- Slobodan Milosevic, who was inextricably linked to this lawsuit, and probably the main reason Serbia has a case to answer to, died an innocent man. The former Yugoslav president died of a heart attack on March 11, just months before the Hague’s war crimes tribunal, ICTY, was expected to complete the case, and render a judgment on the charges against him, which included allegations of genocide in Bosnia. A conviction, say all observers, could have had a great impact on Bosnia's case against Serbia at the ICJ. 'If Milosevic had been convicted of genocide [in Bosnia], it would definitely have had a negative effect on our case,' member of the Serbian team Tibor Varadi told Belgrade news agency Beta, a few days after Milosevic was found dead. 'That means ICJ will now have to make a decision without having the foundation of a Hague tribunal decision to follow.' In a landmark suit, which was launched 13 years ago and is the first of its kind, Sarajevo hopes to prove that Serbia -- under Milosevic’s rule at that time -- was responsible for genocide against Bosnia's non-Serb population during the 1992-95 war. Varadi's claim that Bosnia’s case has been 'seriously weakened' by Milosevic's death was rejected out of hand by the Sarajevo team as 'completely unfounded.' ... Milosevic's Belgrade lawyer Toma Fila triumphantly told news agencies shortly after his client's death that evidence presented during Milosevic's four-year trial will now be useless to anyone, especially to the team representing Bosnia in its genocide case against Serbia. [...]"


"UN Accused of Ignoring 500,000 Chernobyl Deaths"
By John Vidal
The Guardian, 25 March 2006
"United Nations nuclear and health watchdogs have ignored evidence of deaths, cancers, mutations and other conditions after the Chernobyl accident, leading scientists and doctors have claimed in the run-up to the nuclear disaster's 20th anniversary next month. In a series of reports about to be published, they will suggest that at least 30,000 people are expected to die of cancers linked directly to severe radiation exposure in 1986 and up to 500,000 people may have already died as a result of the world's worst environmental catastrophe. ... The new estimates have been collated by researchers commissioned by European parliamentary groups, Greenpeace International and medical foundations in Britain, Germany, Ukraine, Scandinavia and elsewhere. They take into account more than 50 published scientific studies. 'At least 500,000 people -- perhaps more -- have already died out of the 2 million people who were officially classed as victims of Chernobyl in Ukraine,' said Nikolai Omelyanets, deputy head of the National Commission for Radiation Protection in Ukraine. '[Studies show] that 34,499 people who took part in the clean-up of Chernobyl have died in the years since the catastrophe. The deaths of these people from cancers was nearly three times as high as in the rest of the population. 'We have found that infant mortality increased 20% to 30% because of chronic exposure to radiation after the accident. All this information has been ignored by the IAEA and WHO. We sent it to them in March last year and again in June. They've not said why they haven't accepted it.' [...]"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Genocide Studies Media File
February 24 - March 2, 2006

A compendium of news stories, features, and human rights reports pertaining to genocide and crimes against humanity. Compiled by Adam Jones. Please send links and feedback to To receive the Genocide Studies Media File as a weekly digest, simply send an email to


"Taliban Attacks on Schools Create 'Lost Generation'"
By Kim Sengupta
The Independent, 28 February 2006
"Ghulam Rasul was leaving school when two gunmen walked in and opened fire. The 17-year-old died instantly. As other students and teachers fled in terror, the shooting continued. Two more people were hit. The attack at Kartilaya High School in Lashkar Gar was just one in a series which is crippling Afghanistan's education system. At least 165 schools and colleges have been burnt down or forced to close so far by a resurgent Taliban and their Islamist allies. Five years after the end of the Afghan war and Tony Blair's famous pledge that 'this time we will not walk away,' it seems the Taliban and al-Qa'ida are back with a vengeance, and one of their main targets is the country's education system. The campaign is intended, say educationalists and human rights groups, to terrorise families into keeping children uneducated, unemployable, and a recruitment pool for the Islamists. Teachers are the main targets. Some have been beheaded, others shot in front of their classes. One was killed while attending his father's funeral. ... The education system of modern Afghanistan is anathema to the Taliban and Islamist extremists because it is inclusive of girls, and offers secular subjects for study. They have declared that only madrassas (Muslim religious schools) meeting their approval will be allowed to operate. There are bitter complaints from Afghans that neither their government, nor American and British forces, are doing anything like enough to stop the murderous targeting of children and schools. British commanders say they will address the problem when more troops arrive. [...]"


"Protests Greet TV Debate on Genocide"
By Maria Elena Fernandez and Matea Gold
The Los Angeles Times, 28 February 2006
"A taped 25-minute panel discussion that is to follow a PBS documentary about Turkey's role in the massacre of Armenians during and after World War I, scheduled to air in April, has prompted protests by thousands of Armenian Americans and two congressmen. ... The panel discussion was moderated by National Public Radio host Scott Simon and taped last month at a studio in Washington. One of the participants, Colgate University humanities professor Peter Balakian, said he repeatedly tried to have the session canceled but was told by PBS that the documentary would not air without it. Balakian and Taner Akcam, a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, take the position that the killings were genocide. Justin A. McCarthy, a history professor at the University of Louisville, and Omer Turan, a history professor at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey, deny that a genocide took place. Finding himself between 'a rock and a hard place' because he believed that the film was too important to be killed, Balakian agreed to participate. 'This is so ethically horrid,' he said. 'It's as if we are trying to reshape history and create another side when there is no other side. We figured if we had to put ourselves in such an unethical situation, there was something to be gained by a scholar of Turkish origin and a scholar of Armenian origin speaking together. But the panel is an absurdity, something right out of the world of George Orwell.' At the heart of the protests by the Armenian American community is the point that PBS would never follow a documentary on the genocide of Jews during World War II with a panel of Holocaust deniers. In a Feb. 24 letter to Dadaian, PBS co-chief program executive Jacoba Atlas said the comparison was not analogous because Germany has taken responsibility for the Holocaust. 'Most Americans do not understand what happened to Armenians; too often news organizations have ignored this part of world history,' Atlas said. 'We strongly believe in the power of truth to come through in debate.'"

"Armenian Furor Over PBS Plan for Debate"
By Randal C. Archibold
The New York Times, 25 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"The Public Broadcasting Service's plan to show a debate after its documentary in April on the Ottoman Turks' massacres of Armenians has infuriated Armenian-Americans. The debate, which includes two people who deny that the massacre constituted genocide, has ignited an aggressive campaign against the network. This week, United States Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of Pasadena, Calif., whose Southern California district includes parts of the largest ethnic Armenian population outside Armenia, asked colleagues to join him in a letter to the network condemning the program. A major Armenian lobbying group, the Armenian National Committee of America, has also asked PBS to cancel the program, which was produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting to accompany a new one-hour documentary, 'The Armenian Genocide,' scheduled to be shown on April 17. Organizers of an Internet petition against the half-hour discussion program said more than 11,000 people had signed it on the Web site. ... PBS said that its 348 affiliates would decide independently whether to carry the film or the panel discussion and that it would not keep track of the decisions. Stations in Washington and in Plattsburgh, N.Y., which reaches the large Armenian community in Montreal, said they would run the film but not the panel discussion, while stations in Chicago and New York said they would run both. Few topics among Armenians generate as much passion as the deaths of some 1.5 million Armenians by execution, starvation or disease during a World War I era campaign by Turks in the Ottoman Empire to wipe them out. Armenians have lobbied for decades for worldwide recognition of the atrocities as genocide. [...]"


"Put Out More Flags: The Making of Another America"
By John Pilger, 23 February 2006
"[...] With no political opposition to speak of, [Prime Minister John] Howard's conquests have been in cultural life, with historiography thrown in. Siding with an unchanging clique of far-right commentators, he has effectively stifled debate about Australia's bloody colonial past while deriding the 'black armband theory of history': that is, the truth of a genocidal racism that continues to devastate the Aboriginal people. His patriotic, or 'put out more flags,' campaign is pure George W. Bush. Schools have been ordered to erect flagpoles, and on 'Australia Day,' January 26th, which 'celebrates' the 'settlement' of another people's country, flags are distributed and often displayed with gormless aggression. ... On 'Australia Day,' I made my way through the flags to Redfern, an Aboriginal area in the inner city, and celebrated what black Australians call Survival Day. Their first 'Day of Mourning and Protest' was held in 1938 on the 150th anniversary of the white invasion. Over a thousand Aboriginal men and women attended that first civil rights gathering, after having been refused use of Sydney Town Hall. A long and painful campaign for freedom and justice had begun, and endures, like an invisible presence. In Redfern Park on Survival Day, the flags were black, red and gold: colors of indigenous skin, the earth and the sun. The only report I could find of Redfern the next day was of a minor fight, which was no doubt fed to the papers by the police. Should the word 'Aboriginal' enter the public arena it must be associated, where possible, with 'no-hopers.' [...]"


"Unpardonable Practices"
By Pamela Phang Kooi Yoong
The Star (Malaysia), 25 February 2006
"We were at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh and our guide Sambath had tears in his eyes. To him, as to many Cambodians, history wasn't about distant events you read about, but something that turned one's life upside down. Sambath remembered the day the Khmer Rouge called on his home. hey dragged his father and second brother out of the house, while his mother hung to the trouser legs of one of the soldiers, begging for mercy. But there was no mercy. Sambath's father told his mother: 'Go home. There are still seven more at home to feed and look after. Take care of them.' Those were the last words he remembered his father saying. Sambath was only four years old at the time but the memories of it still affects him today. The museum is a place filled with silent ghosts and the echoes of pain and torture. Every step of the way, you'll find a story to be told. Some people will tell you the place gives off disturbing vibes. My sister, who has always been very sensitive to such things, could not bring herself to walk through the gates. She chose to wait for us outside. ... The atmosphere was awful, depressing. We exited the Museum of Death with relief, glad to welcome the sunshine and fresh air, thankful we live in a time and place other than the one so horribly depicted here."


"Spanish Court Looks at Tibetan Genocide Claims"
By Lisa Abend and Geoff Pingree
The Christian Science Monitor, 2 March 2006
"[...] Since the Chinese invaded Tibet in 1950, hundreds of thousands of Tibetans have been killed, arbitrarily imprisoned, or forced to flee their country. But when the victims of what some call genocide finally get their day in court, it probably won't be in China. Instead, Spain -- which is conducting a judicial investigation on the issue -- is likely to hold the first trial. Although Spain had no citizens affected by the suspected crimes, its National Court decided in January to investigate whether China did indeed commit genocide. The decision raises questions about whether Spain's policy of universal jurisdiction is enforceable, as well how it will impact trade. Ever since National Court judge Baltasar Garzón ordered the arrest in 1998 of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity, Spain has taken the lead among individual countries prosecuting human rights violations that occurred outside their own borders. At first, the court confined itself to cases like General Pinochet's, in which Spaniards were among the victims. But last year, the Spanish Constitutional Court ruled that the National Court could investigate charges brought by Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu Túm for killings, torture, and disappearances that occurred during Guatemala's civil war. With that decision, Spain became one of the few countries to exercise the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, which gives countries the right to try individuals of any nationality for crimes committed outside that country's border. [...]"


"DR Congo: Warning of 'Huge Risk' of New Conflict"
United Nations press release on, 28 February 2006
"Warning that there is 'a huge risk for conflict to rise again' in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the top United Nations refugee official has called on the international community to provide greater support for the vast country’s transition to full democracy for the first time in 45 years. 'The scale of the problem, the complexity of the problem, and the nature of the problem are such that all our resources combined together won't easily solve it,' UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres told ambassadors from donor countries in Kinshasa, capital of a nation that is moving towards national elections in June after the most lethal fighting in the world since World War II. A six-year war cost 4 million lives, and medical experts say a further 1,200 people are still dying needlessly every day. More than 3.4 million have been displaced from their homes and 17 million don't have a steady supply of food. [...]"


"Key Ethiopia Treason Trial Starts"
BBC Online, 24 February 2006
"Ethiopia's opposition leaders are among 129 people who have gone on trial for treason and attempted genocide. None of the accused answered questions, saying the trial was political. Some wore black t-shirts and put their hands over their mouths when asked to plead. The charges relate to last November's street clashes that killed 46 people over disputed polls in May, won by Prime Minster Meles Zenawi's party. The opposition claimed the polls had been rigged -- charges Mr. Meles denies. One of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) leaders, Bertukan Medeksa, a former judge, said the court was controlled by Mr Meles, who had already found them guilty. Some diplomats told the BBC they feared that the trial could drag on for a long time. They pointed out that the trial of those accused of mass murder under the former regime of Haile Mengistu Mariam is still underway 15 years after it began. [...]"
[n.b. Uh ... "attempted genocide"?]


"Vigilantes Back to Restore 'Justice' to Guatemala"
By Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, 28 February 2006
"The death squads have returned to Guatemala. Ten years after the signing of accords that brought an unsteady peace to the central American nation, human rights campaigners say at least 98 people have been killed by vigilantes so far this year. The true figure could be as high as 360. The killings have been carried out by gangs who target civilians they accuse of crimes or antisocial behaviour. Often, campaigners say, the bodies that show up overnight in the streets strangled and showing signs of torture are the victims of mistaken identity. 'The broader context for this is that the state has failed to enforce the rule of law,' said Daniel Wilkinson, a researcher for Human Rights Watch. 'There is a climate of violence and lawlessness in which people are turning to these gangs.' Ever since a US-organised coup overthrew Guatemala's elected government in 1954, the country has been beset with violence. For more than 30 years the US supported the Guatemalan military during a war with Marxist fighters. The violence claimed the lives of up to 200,000 people -- many killed by government-backed death squads. This time, it appears many ordinary people support the vigilante gangs and say their summary justice is a form of 'social cleansing.' It is estimated that last year up to 3,000 people were murdered by the gangs. Often the vigilantes are helped by internet blogs with names such as 'We kill the gang members' and 'United against the gang members,' which publish the names and addresses of alleged criminals and then call for community action. Campaigners say many of those killed are petty thieves, or people who have personal feuds with members of the vigilante groups. 'That's the problem when people take matters into their own hands,' Mario Polanco, head of the Mutual Support Group, a victims' rights organisation in Guatemala City, told The Washington Post. [...]"


"Free Speech, Even If It Hurts"
By Michael Shermer
The Los Angeles Times, 26 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"'More women died in the back seat of Edward Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than ever died in a gas chamber at Auschwitz.' Is this line more offensive to Jews than an editorial cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad with a turban bomb is to Muslims? Apparently it is, because the editorial cartoonists are still free, whereas the man who made this statement -- British author David Irving -- was sentenced this week to three years in an Austrian jail for violating a law that says it is a crime if a person 'denies, grossly trivializes, approves or seeks to justify the National Socialist genocide or other National Socialist crimes against humanity.' ... Austria's treatment of Irving as a political dissident should offend both the people who defend the rights of political cartoonists to express their opinion of Islamic terrorists and the civil libertarians who leaped to the defense of University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill when he exercised his right to call the victims of 9/11 'little Eichmanns.' Why doesn't it? Why aren't freedom lovers everywhere offended by Irving's court conviction? Freedom is a principle that must be applied indiscriminately. We have to defend Irving in order to defend ourselves. Once the laws are in place to jail dissidents of Holocaust history, what's to stop such laws from being applied to dissenters of religious or political histories, or to skepticism of any sort that deviates from the accepted canon? No one should be required to facilitate the expression of Holocaust denial, but neither should there be what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called 'the silence coerced by law -- the argument of force in its worst form.'"


"Protesters Demand an End to Plunder of Papua"
By Mark Forbes
The Sydney Morning Herald, 2 March 2006
"A stone-age bow and arrow shoot-out between tribesmen and guards at the giant Freeport gold and copper mine in Papua has snowballed into a stand-off symbolising Papuans' push for independence and their belief that their province is being plundered. Freeport, the world's biggest goldmine, was forced to halt production in the Indonesian province last week after being blockaded by the tribesmen, who pan the tailings at the mine for scraps of gold. Although the US-owned mining company claimed last weekend to have ended the conflict with a traditional stone-burning ceremony and offers of assistance, Papuan students have continued to demonstrate daily in Jakarta. And each day this week, hundreds of police have used water cannon to prevent rock-throwing students storming Freeport's headquarters. The protesters' demands have escalated: they now want the mine closed and Indonesian soldiers withdrawn from the province. Hundreds more have staged rallies in Papua's capital of Jayapura, while a tent-city opposing the mine has been erected in Timika, the nearest town to Freeport's mine, Indonesian police said. Following a 24-hour sit-in at Papua's provincial parliament, some legislators yesterday endorsed the protesters' demands and promised to pursue them with Jakarta. One legislator, Hana Hikoyabi, said the contract between Freeport and the Government was secretive. 'The protest is an accumulation of years of disappointment,' Mr Hikoyabi said. 'We hope Freeport is willing to open up. Freeport has to realise the gold, copper and anything it mined in Timika belongs not to them, but to Papuans.' One of the Jakarta protest leaders, Marthen Goo, said the struggle was just beginning. 'We have not received anything good from Freeport. We are going to protest until Freeport is shut.' [...]"

"Papua Travel Ban Halts Abuse Scrutiny: Envoy"
By Tom Allard
The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 March 2006
"The Indonesian Government is preventing human rights observers from monitoring the situation in Papua amid 'worrying' reports of abuses in the troubled province, says the United Nations' special envoy on the prevention of genocide, Juan Mendez. In an interview with the Herald, Mr Mendez also said the UN was prepared to step in and mediate a solution to the long-running tensions in the province. 'It's very worrying and there's evidence about violence that's continued since 1963. It's important that we look closely at the conflict now and make sure it's not getting out of hand,' he said. 'We certainly have it under our inquiry but it's hard to assess the situation on the ground ... it's hard to know what is going on in West Papua.' Asked if he was prepared to act as a mediator between the Government and separatists, Mr Mendez said 'absolutely,' although that would require an invitation from both parties. Indonesia has been tightly restricting human rights experts from the UN, academia and non-government organisations from visiting Papua for years, a ban on unfettered access that has extended to foreign media for at least the past 18 months. [...]"


"Pace: Torture, Killings Widespread in Iraq"
Associated Press dispatch on ABC News, 2 March 2006
"Human rights abuses in Iraq are as bad now as they were under Saddam Hussein, as lawlessness and sectarian violence sweep the country, the former U.N. human rights chief in Iraq said Thursday. John Pace, who last month left his post as director of the human rights office at the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, said the level of extra-judicial executions and torture is soaring, and morgue workers are being threatened by both government-backed militia and insurgents not to properly investigate deaths. 'Under Saddam, if you agreed to forgo your basic right to freedom of expression and thought, you were physically more or less OK,' Pace said in an interview with The Associated Press. 'But now, no. Here, you have a primitive, chaotic situation where anybody can do anything they want to anyone.' Pace, who was born in Malta but now resides in Australia, said that while the scale of atrocity under Saddam was 'daunting,' now nobody is safe from abuse. 'It is certainly as bad,' he said. 'It extends over a much wider section of the population than it did under Saddam.' [...]"

"Shiites Told: Leave Home Or Be Killed"
By Ellen Knickmeyer
The Washington Post (on, 1 March 2006
"Salim Rashid, 34, a Shiite laborer in an overwhelmingly Sunni Arab village 20 miles north of Baghdad, received his eviction notice Friday from a man at the door with a rocket launcher. 'It's 6 p.m.,' Rashid recounted the masked man saying then, as retaliatory violence between Shiites and Sunnis exploded across wide swaths of central Iraq. 'We want you out of here by 8 p.m. tomorrow. If we find you here, we will kill you.' Walking, hitchhiking and hiring cars, the Rashid clan and many of the 25 other families evicted from the town of Mishada had made their way by Tuesday to a youth center in Baghdad's heavily Shiite neighborhood of Shoula. There, other people forced from their homes were already sharing space on donated mattresses. With sectarian violence rampant since last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra, the families have become symbols of an emerging trend in Iraq: the expulsion of Shiites from Sunni towns. 'One of those men told me, "You started this, by burning our mosques and killing our people,"' said Rashid's grown nephew, kneeling with other men from the displaced families. Around them, black-shrouded women drank tea and children napped or played. At least 58 dislodged Shiite families have come to Shoula since late last week, said Raad al-Husseini, a cleric who is helping the families settle in. [...]"

"Iraq's Deadly Surge Claims 1,300"
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Bassam Sebti
The Washington Post (on, 27 February 2006
"Grisly attacks and other sectarian violence unleashed by last week's bombing of a Shiite shrine have killed more than 1,300 Iraqis, making the past few days the deadliest of the war outside of major U.S. offensives, according to Baghdad's main morgue. The toll was more than three times higher than the figure previously reported by the U.S. military and the news media. Hundreds of unclaimed dead lay at the morgue at midday Monday -- blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bags still over their heads. Many of the bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound -- and many of them had wound up at the morgue after what their families said was their abduction by the Mahdi Army, the Shiite militia of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. ... Aides to Sadr denied the allegations, calling them part of a smear campaign by unspecified political rivals. By Monday, violence between Sunnis and Shiites appeared to have eased. As Iraqi security forces patrolled, American troops offered measured support, in hopes of allowing the Iraqis to take charge and prevent further carnage. But at the morgue, where the floor was crusted with dried blood, the evidence of the damage already done was clear. Iraqis arrived throughout the day, seeking family members and neighbors among the contorted bodies. 'And they say there is no sectarian war?' demanded one man. 'What do you call this?' The brothers of one missing man arrived, searching for a body. Their hunt ended on the concrete floor, provoking sobs of mourning: 'Why did you kill him?' 'He was unarmed!' 'Oh, my brother! Oh, my brother!' Morgue officials said they had logged more than 1,300 dead since Wednesday -- the day the Shiites' gold-domed Askariya shrine was bombed -- photographing, numbering and tagging the bodies as they came in over the nights and days of retaliatory raids. The Statistics Department of the Iraqi police put the nationwide toll at 1,020 since Wednesday, but that figure was based on paperwork that is sometimes delayed before reaching police headquarters. The majority of the dead had been killed after being taken away by armed men, police said. The disclosure of the death tolls followed accusations by the U.S. military and later Iraqi officials that the news media had exaggerated the violence between Shiites and Sunnis over the past few days.
[n.b. If these figures are accurate -- and they have been disputed, though not persuasively, in my view -- then this is genocide/gendercide. Keep in mind that the statistics appear to be drawn only from the main morgue in a single city, Baghdad.]

"Iraq's Death Squads: On the Brink of Civil War"
By Andrew Buncombe and Patrick Cockburn
The Independent, 26 February 2006
"Hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily executed every month in Baghdad alone by death squads working from the Ministry of the Interior, the United Nations' outgoing human rights chief in Iraq has revealed. John Pace, who left Baghdad two weeks ago, told The Independent on Sunday that up to three-quarters of the corpses stacked in the city's mortuary show evidence of gunshot wounds to the head or injuries caused by drill-bits or burning cigarettes. Much of the killing, he said, was carried out by Shia Muslim groups under the control of the Ministry of the Interior. Much of the statistical information provided to Mr Pace and his team comes from the Baghdad Medico-Legal Institute, which is located next to the city's mortuary. He said figures show that last July the morgue alone received 1,100 bodies, about 900 of which bore evidence of torture or summary execution. The pattern prevailed throughout the year until December, when the number dropped to 780 bodies, about 400 of which had gunshot or torture wounds. 'It's being done by anyone who wishes to wipe out anybody else for various reasons,' said Mr Pace, who worked for the UN for more than 40 years in countries ranging from Liberia to Chile. 'But the bulk are attributed to the agents of the Ministry of the Interior.' [...]"


"Israel's Top Brass Risks Isolation over War Crimes"
The Palestine Chronicle, 2 March 2006
"Fearing possible arrest and persecution on charges of war crimes against the Palestinians, a senior Israeli commander has cancelled a trip to Britain to join the Royal College of Defense Studies, a case seen by an Israeli rights group as indication of a growing international isolation of the Israeli army. Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, the commander of the Israeli army unit along the Gaza border, was instructed by the military establishment to scrap his summer plans, Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported on Monday, February 27. 'At this point, to send him to London, or any other officer who fought in the territories, is a danger,' a security source told the Yediot Ahronot daily. The paper said Kochavi's 'key' role in the bloody 2002 'Operation Defensive Shield' in the occupied West Bank could be used against him if he visited London. In March 2002, Israel launched an onslaught against all Palestinian cities in the West Bank except for occupied east Jerusalem and Hebron. The operation, which officially ended in May although crippling curfews continued long after that, claimed the lives of hundreds of Palestinians, mostly women and children. The city of Jenin took the brunt of the Israeli aggressions, with more than 54 civilian deaths. Kochavi was a senior commander in the paratroopers during the offensive. According to the Israeli media, the decision to cancel his London trip was taken in light of an arrest warrant issued six months ago against former Israeli commander of the Gaza Strip Doron Almog. Last year, Almog narrowly escaped capture after a London magistrate had issued a warrant for arresting him over his role in a 2002 bombing raid that killed 15 Palestinians, many of them children. Israel's ambassador in London Tzvi Hefetz spoke with Almog during the flight, advised him not to get off the plane. Britain is one of several European countries which allow investigations of war crimes involving foreign nationals if the suspect's own country is unwilling or unable to act. The suspect can be arrested upon his or her arrival in the UK. [...]"

"Israeli 'Ruler-in-Waiting' Plans to Starve Hamas"
By Leonard Doyle
The Independent, 2 March 2006
"She is already being spoken of as an Israeli leader in waiting. Today the Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni brings to London the campaign to destabilise the incoming Hamas Palestinian government by starving it of cash. Israel's policy -- described by a spokesman as putting 'the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger' -- has left London feeling squeamish. Tony Blair and Jack Straw will today undoubtedly show solidarity with Israel, saying Britain is not in the business of funding terrorists. But in private there is anguish that the policy will bring malnutrition to innocent Palestinians and punish them for taking part in a democratic election. The Palestinians are completely dependent on foreign aid for their survival and Israel's campaign to put 3.6 million people on starvation rations is foreboding. [...] A former Mossad officer, Ms. Livni is the daughter of Zionists -- classified as terrorists by the British authorities. Her father, Eitan, was the Irgun's head of operations when it blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing 28 Britons, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews and five others. The subsequent wave of terror attacks he led outraged British public opinion, leading the government to abandon the Palestinian Mandate and turn the problem over to the UN, with disastrous consequences for the Palestinians. [...]"


"Irving Expands on Holocaust Views"
BBC Online, 28 February 2006
"Jailed British historian David Irving has again said he does not believe Hitler presided over a systematic attempt to exterminate Jews in Europe. During his trial in Austria, Irving said he had changed his mind over claims the Holocaust did not happen. But, speaking from his cell later, he told BBC News the numbers killed at Auschwitz were smaller than claimed. ... Speaking from prison, where he is in solitary confinement for 23 hours each day, Irving told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he now believed there had been cases of Jewish people being gassed during World War II. But he said that while he accepted 1.4 million were killed in the so-called 'Operation Reinhard' camps which included Treblinka and Sobibor, he did not accept that large numbers were murdered at Auschwitz. He claimed there were two 'small' gas chambers there, not the large-scale gas chambers identified by other historians. 'Given the ruthless efficiency of the Germans, if there was an extermination programme to kill all the Jews, how come so many survived?' he said. When asked whether there was an organised programme to exterminate the Jews in Europe, overseen by Hitler, Irving told Today: 'That is absolutely wrong and nobody can justify that. Adolf Hitler's own involvement in it has a big question mark behind it.' ... Speaking on Today, Richard Evans, professor of German history at Cambridge University and a witness against Irving at a libel trial in 2000, dismissed the latest comments. 'He was, I think, arrogant enough to believe that he wouldn't be arrested,' said Professor Evans. 'But having said that, I think the Austrian action is ill-advised. I don't think that law which bans Holocaust denial is really necessary any longer and I think it's really regrettable the vast media circus that's surrounding Mr Irving now [is] just simply giving prominence to his absurd views.'"


"Report on Mexican 'Dirty War' Details Abuse by Military"
By Ginger Thompson
The New York Times, 27 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"A secret report prepared by a special prosecutor's office says that the Mexican military carried out a 'genocide plan' of kidnapping, torturing and killing hundreds of suspected subversives in the southern state of Guerrero during the so-called dirty war, from the late 1960's to the early 1980's. The report, which was not endorsed by the government of President Vicente Fox but was leaked by its authors last week, says that the genocide plan was ordered by President Luis Echeverría in 1970, and designed by Hermenegildo Cuenca Díaz, who was defense minister at the time. It is based partly on declassified documents from the Mexican military and for the first time provides names of military officers and units involved in destroying entire villages that the government suspected of serving as base camps for the rebel leader Lucio Cabañas. In those towns, soldiers rounded up all the men and boys, executed some on the spot and detained others, and then used violence, including rape, to drive the rest of the people away, the report says. Most of those detained suffered severe torture, including beatings, electric shock and being forced to drink gasoline, at military installations that were operated like 'concentration camps.' 'With this operation, a state policy was established in which all the authorities connected to the army -- the president, ministers of state, and the presidential guard, commanders of the military regions in Guerrero, and officers and troops in their command -- participated in the violations of human rights with the justification of pursuing a bad fugitive,' the report says. 'Such an open counter-guerrilla strategy could not have been possible without the explicit consent and approval of the president.' [...]"


"Suicide Bomb Film Set to Shake Oscars"
By Emma Forrest
The Observer, 26 February 2006
"[...] The tensions are rising with a week to go before the big night, which is on track to be one of the most successful and most watched ceremonies ever. The campaign against Paradise Now is gathering pace. An internet campaign against the film has quickly gathered steam. It started with an open letter from Yossi Zur, whose 16-year-old son had been killed by a suicide bomber, asking that the Academy disqualify Paradise Now 'They have been given a seal of approval to hide behind,' he said. 'Now they can see that the world sees suicide bombing as legitimate.' The petition he inspired has received more than 25,000 signatures. The nomination probably won't be rescinded, but with 70 being the median academy voter age, and Judaism the predominant religion, it is something of a surprise, even to insiders, that the film has been nominated at all, let alone that it is a strong prospect to win. Although the director, Hany Abu-Assad, and the female lead, Lubna Azabal, both live in Europe, the film is credited to 'Palestine', a country that does not technically exist. No foreign film entry has, in academy history, been attributed to such a place. It was filmed in Nablus, a West Bank town controlled by the Palestinian Authority. 'There is a likelihood,' said the show's producer, Gil Cates, 'that come Oscar night it will be attributed to "Palestinian territories".' ... Surprisingly, after Paradise Now won a Golden Globe in January, Abu-Assad took to the stage to generous applause, with no reticence or even booing. That can perhaps be attributed to the fact that the Golden Globes comprises non-US press. Come Oscar night, Abu-Assad may find a Hollywood audience less enthusiastic. Or perhaps Hollywood's perceived allegiance to Israel has changed. There are five nominations for Munich, Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner's deeply critical take on the hunt by Israelis for the Munich Olympic killers. [...]"


"Turning a Blind Eye to Police Brutality"
By Michael Mainville
Toronto Star, 26 February 2006
"After nine days of increasingly brutal police interrogation and torture, Alexei Mikheyev couldn't stand it any more. Given the option of confessing to a crime he didn't commit or facing more electrical shocks through wires connected to his earlobes, Mikheyev decided his only real choice was to kill himself. He broke free of his interrogators and jumped out of the second-floor window of the police station where he was being held. He landed on a motorbike and broke his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The same day, the teenage girl he was alleged to have abducted, raped and killed returned home unharmed. She had gone to stay with friends for a few days without telling her parents. [...] Reliable numbers on police brutality in Russia are hard to come by. In a statement released on Jan. 31, the internal affairs department of Russia's Interior Ministry said the number of recorded police crimes rose 46.8 per cent in 2005 and 4,269 officers, including 630 senior officers, were held criminally responsible. The statement did not provide a breakdown of the crimes and Russian authorities do not release figures on how many officers are charged with the illegal use of violence. But a poll of 634 police officers from 41 Russian cities released this month makes clear how widespread police violence is. The poll, by the respected Levada Centre, showed that 63 per cent of Russian police officers consider violence against suspects 'acceptable.' It also found that 18 per cent of officers considered it acceptable to plant drugs or weapons on suspects to fabricate evidence. Asked who they are supposed to serve, 26 per cent answered 'those who are in power' and 25 per cent said 'those who have money.' In a November 2003 report, the Helsinki Federation for Human Rights said 'torture and ill-treatment are commonly employed to get a confession to a crime' during Russian police interrogations. In one nationwide poll last year, 71 per cent of respondents said they didn't trust the police; in another, 41 per cent said they lived in fear of police violence. [...]"


"Seneca College Grad Shows Story of Genocide"
By Fannie Sunshine, 28 February 2006
"When Claire Wihogora tells her story of surviving the 1994 genocide in her homeland of Rwanda, which saw 800,000 members of the Hutu and Tutsi tribes slaughtered over 100 days, including her father and brother, lips often tremble as eyes turn to swimming pools. ... 'Every day I woke up and asked God why,' she said of her loved ones' deaths. 'I missed them so much, I hoped it never happened again.' Her father was killed April 10, 1994, along with the family who was hiding him in their home, she said. His body was left to rot in the street and once the genocide ceased, Wihogora collected his bones off the road. In 1998, Wihogora, who was severely traumatized by the mass murder, moved to Toronto to start a new life, leaving her mother and sister behind. 'Sometimes it's hard saying I'm a (genocide) survivor because inside I am dead,' she said, adding she's visited her family twice in eight years. Wihogora told the students how lucky they are to be able to go to school, a luxury many children in her homeland were not afforded. ... Knowing the struggles fellow genocide survivors face, Wihogora founded Women in Rwanda, which links female genocide survivors now living in North America to form a support system. Although Wihogora suffered horrors unimaginable to most, she told the students to never give up hope. 'You are going to be successful if you chose to be,' she said, adding the two tribes in Rwanda no longer exist and the country is made up of one people. 'If you fall down somehow you have to stand up and walk again.' [...]"


"Historic Genocide Trial of Serbian Nation Begins"
By Sam Knight and Agencies
The Times, 27 February 2006
"Serbia became the first country to be tried for genocide today, as lawyers for Bosnia argued that the state of Serbia and Montenegro attempted to annihilate Bosnia's non-Serbs during the war of 1992 to 1995. In the first case of its kind, and 13 years after the first papers were filed in the middle of the fighting, Sakib Softic, a lawyer for Bosnia, told the UN-run International Court of Justice in The Hague that Belgrade was responsible for orchestrating the deaths of tens of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. 'The armed violence which hit our country like a man-made tsunami in 1992 ... destroyed the character of Bosnia and Herzegovina and certainly destroyed a substantial part of its non-Serb population,' he said. 'We are here because the Belgrade authorities have knowingly taken the non-Serbs of Bosnia and Herzegovina on a path to hell, a path littered with dead bodies, broken families, lost youths, lost future, destroyed places of cultural and religious worship.' Serbia, then part of the former Republic of Yugoslavia, invaded Bosnia in 1992 to prevent the country, whose population was dominated by Bosnian Muslims and Croats, from seceding from Yugoslavia. More than 100,000 people died in the ensuing war. 'This case is not aimed at individual citizens of Serbia and Montenegro,' said Mr Softic. 'This is about state responsibility, and seeks to establish responsibility of a state which, through its leadership, and through its organs, committed the most brutal acts of violence.' [...]"

"Serbia and Montenegro on Trial for Genocide"
By IWPR Staff
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 24 February 2006
"Bosnian lawyers launching a genocide case against Serbia and Montenegro at the International Court of Justice, ICJ, the first such state-level lawsuit, will face a formidable challenge when proceedings begin on Monday, February 27, IWPR has established in a far-reaching investigation into the case. On the face of it, Sarajevo's case appears strong, drawing as it does on many years' worth of research into the atrocities that became the gruesome hallmark of the conflicts that ripped through the Balkans in the Nineties. But this first ever attempt to prove something as problematic as state responsibility for a crime as complex as genocide is set to throw up a whole host of thorny legal issues. Over a decade has passed since Sarajevo first registered its complaint against Belgrade at the Hague court, accusing what was then Yugoslavia of genocide against Bosnia’s non-Serb population. ... Prosecutors at the ICTY have established that at least one episode of the war in Bosnia -- the slaughter by Serb troops of thousands of Muslim men and boys from the town of Srebrenica in 1995 -- constituted a genocide. Two years' worth of evidence against the former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic at the same court has also thrown a great deal of new light on Belgrade’s links with this and other atrocities. The evidence that has emerged has satisfied judges that he does have a case to answer about genocide in Bosnia. But for the Bosnian team, securing a ruling in Sarajevo’s favour at the ICJ will still be no mean feat. Besides convincing a new court that the notoriously complex crime of genocide occurred in Bosnia, the Bosnian lawyers will also face the daunting task of showing that responsibility for it lay not just with a set of individuals but with an entire state. ... What is more, the way in which Belgrade is purported to have committed the crime -- largely through covert support for proxies, in a war that its own military wasn't officially involved in -- makes the case infinitely more complex. [...]"
[n.b. The best and most in-depth report I have seen on this fascinating case.]

"Mladic 'May Be Seeking Surrender'"
BBC Online, 24 February 2006
"The Dutch foreign minister has said Serbian officials have told him war crimes suspect General Ratko Mladic might be ill and seeking to surrender. Bernard Bot, who visited Belgrade this week, said authorities told him Gen Mladic might be trying to negotiate his surrender with his own entourage. The move follows a flurry of reports from Serbian media suggesting that Gen Mladic may be ready to give himself up. The former Bosnian Serb commander faces war crimes charges, including genocide. Dutch foreign ministry spokesman Dirk Jan Vermeij said Mr Bot heard Gen Mladic was not well. 'The minister said that he heard during meetings in Belgrade that Mladic is sick, but that the Serbs don't know where he is,' Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. 'The rumour Bot picked up was that Mladic was negotiating with his entourage.' However Carla del Ponte, the UN's chief war crimes prosecutor at The Hague, told the BBC that Gen Mladic was within 'immediate reach' of the Belgrade authorities. She said she believed they could capture him 'today, if they want.' [...]"


"Peacekeepers and Diplomats, Seeking to End Darfur's Violence, Hit Roadblock"
By Warren Hoge
The New York Times, 1 March 2006 [Registration Required]
"Sudan has withdrawn its support for a United Nations peacekeeping force to replace African Union troops now in the conflict-ridden Darfur region, and is lobbying other countries to discourage the substitution, Jan Pronk, the United Nations envoy for Sudan, said Tuesday. 'The government is taking a very strong position against a transition to the U.N., and that is new,' Mr. Pronk said. 'Sudan has sent delegations to many countries in the world in order to plead its case: let the A.U. stay and let the U.N. not come.' In another development indicating a snag in the international effort to curb the violence in Darfur, John R. Bolton, the United States ambassador, conceded the failure of the American effort to produce a resolution on a United Nations mission to Sudan by the end of February, a month during which the United States has served as president of the Security Council. 'It is something we have pushed hard for, and we're going to continue to push hard, even though tomorrow is March 1, because this is something that we feel very strongly about,' Mr. Bolton said. Other members of the Council had resisted taking up the subject until the African Union made a formal request for bringing in the United Nations, a request that had been expected at a meeting of the organization this Friday. On Tuesday, that meeting was postponed until March 10. Mr. Pronk said the African Union had already made a decision 'in principle' to request United Nations peacekeepers, but he did not know whether the group would formally confirm that decision. If not, he said, 'then we are back to scratch.' He said Sudan's government was portraying a United Nations entry as a precursor to a Western takeover of the country. [...]"

"Britain Pushes for Travel Ban on Leaders to Curb Killing in Darfur"
By Anne Penketh
The Independent, 1 March 2006
"Britain is pushing for a UN travel ban and assets freeze to be applied to named Sudanese government, militia and rebel leaders in the next two weeks in the hope of curbing the killings in Darfur, diplomats said. 'We would expect measures in the next 10 to 14 days,' a senior British official said. The Security Council members Britain, France and Denmark are acting now because of a sharp deterioration in the security situation in the western Sudanese region, where about 300,000 people have died as a result of conflict, hunger and disease. The fighting has also spread across the border into Chad. Although British officials refused to release the names, diplomats said they had taken pains to draw up a 'balanced' list of up to eight leaders from both sides in the three-year conflict. They denied that the names were taken from a list of 17 people already circulating in New York, which includes the Sudanese Interior Minister, the Defence Minister, the director of national intelligence and a commander of the rebel Sudanese Liberation Army. [...]"

"Darfur Sanctions Deadlock as ICC Considers Prosecutions"
By Fred Bridgland
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 28 February 2006
"The United Nations is reportedly split on proposals to punish Sudanese officials and rebel leaders allegedly responsible for impeding peace efforts in Darfur, where International Criminal Court, ICC, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has launched an investigation into war crimes. As violence again flared in northern Darfur, the UN Security Council met February 27 to consider sanctions against officials deemed to be a threat to the peace effort or human rights in the area. Fighting between rebels and government-backed militias in Darfur is believed to have claimed tens of thousands of civilian lives, with more than 2,000 villages and towns in the region said to have been burned to the ground. US ambassador John Bolton, the current council president, told reporters the 15-member body wanted to 'move forward expeditiously on targeted sanctions.' 'The purpose ... is to apply pressure ... to people who are violating the arms embargo, not contributing to our effort to establish an effective peace process in Darfur and restore the deteriorating security situation there,' he said. However, conflict arose between members at a closed-door session during which China, Russia and Qatar are believed to have opposed sanctions, while the US, Britain, Denmark and France were in favour. The result: continued deadlock. Some experts estimate that as many as 400,000 lives have been lost in the Darfur conflict since 2003 with two million Darfurians internally displaced or refugees in neighbouring Chad, after their homes were destroyed by Arab janjaweed militias. The UN says Darfur is currently 'the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe.' [...]"

"The 'Challenges' of Darfur"
By Eric Reeves
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 28 February 2006
"How serious is South Africa about halting massive, ethnically targeted human destruction in Darfur in western Sudan? Is President Thabo Mbeki prepared to support the robust, international force required to protect millions of vulnerable people and the increasingly tenuous humanitarian lifeline upon which they depend? At the moment of truth for Darfur, the answers are not encouraging. This is troubling since South African leadership will be crucial at the March meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council that will determine whether the Darfur mission will be handed to the United Nations, something the AU has declared itself willing to do only 'in principle.' Without such a hand over, the current AU force will continue to prove inadequate to the tasks of civilian protection for humanitarian operations. The AU is certainly incapable of disarming the combatants, especially the murderous, Khartoum-backed Janjaweed militia. And without such security, more than two million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees languishing in camps cannot return to their lands and resume agriculturally productive lives. Currently, the AU force has only 5,000 troops -- and only 7,000 personnel altogether for a region the size of France. This is well short of the AU set target, partly because South Africa has for months reneged on its commitment to a contingent, approximately 500, of civilian police. Recent assessments of the AU force highlight the lack of civilian police as one reason extreme insecurity persists in IDP camps. Most of these camps remain the site of rapes, killings, arbitrary arrests and torture. Indeed, Khartoum's Janjaweed allies are increasingly attacking camps themselves, assaults the AU is unable to halt or deter. Despite these terrible realities, Mbeki and other African leaders have retreated into the mantra of 'African solutions for African problems.' [...]"

"Refugee Crisis Grows as Darfur War Crosses a Border"
By Lydia Polgreen
The New York Times, 28 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"The chaos in Darfur, the war-ravaged region in Sudan where more than 200,000 civilians have been killed, has spread across the border into Chad, deepening one of the world's worst refugee crises. Arab gunmen from Darfur have pushed across the desert and entered Chad, stealing cattle, burning crops and killing anyone who resists. The lawlessness has driven at least 20,000 Chadians from their homes, making them refugees in their own country. Hundreds of thousands more people in this area, along with 200,000 Sudanese who fled here for safety, find themselves caught up in a growing conflict between Chad and Sudan, which have a long history of violence and meddling in each other's affairs. 'You may have thought the terrible situation in Darfur couldn't get worse, but it has,' Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, said in a recent statement. 'Sudan's policy of arming militias and letting them loose is spilling over the border, and civilians have no protection from their attacks, in Darfur or in Chad.' Indeed, the accounts of civilians in eastern Chad are agonizingly familiar to those in western Sudan. One woman, Zahara Isaac Mahamat, described how Arab men on camels and horses had raided her village in Chad, stealing everything they could find and slaughtering all who resisted. The dead included her husband, Ismail Ibrahim, who tried to prevent the raiders from burning his sorghum and millet fields. Like so many others in this desolate expanse of dust-choked earth, she fled west with her three children, much as people in Darfur have been forced to do in recent years. 'I have lost everything but my children,' she said, her face looking much older than her 20 years. She is now a refugee, with thousands of other displaced Chadians, in Kolloye, a village south of here. [...]"

"Brown University to Divest from Companies with Sudanese Government Ties"
By Ross Goldberg
Yale Daily News, 27 February 2006
"Brown University announced Saturday that it will divest from companies tied to the Sudanese genocide, 10 days after Yale made a similar promise. The Brown Corporation pledged to exclude any such investments from its portfolio, though, unlike Yale, it has not yet identified a specific list of target companies. The Providence, R.I., university's pledge will affect all future investments, including those made through its private managers. 'This is a critically important and strong statement by the university community regarding our abhorrence of the genocidal actions being supported and undertaken by the Sudanese government,' Brown President Ruth J. Simmons said in a press release. On Feb. 15, Yale blacklisted seven companies accused of facilitating the genocide, though the University owned stock in only one of them at the time. On-campus activists said they think both schools' statements are fueling national interest in Sudan. 'It would be great if Yale were involved in Brown's decision, but it's part of a greater movement,' said Ida Assefa '08, a member of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur. 'We want to harness all the energy and passion and activism that's occurring on college campuses and translate that into national legislation that will have an effect on what's occurring there.' Aside from Yale and Brown, Harvard and Stanford universities, as well as Dartmouth and Amherst colleges, have pledged to divest from their holdings tied to Sudan. The states of Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon have also divested their pension funds from companies with ties to the Sudanese government, and a bill to be considered by the Connecticut State Senate Thursday would empower Yale's home state to follow suit."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Will Bok Sell the Stock?"
By Nicholas M. Ciarelli
The Harvard Crimson, 24 February 2006
"As interim president, Derek C. Bok will face pressure from students who want Harvard to cut its ties to an oppressive African regime. For Bok, it may seem like déjà vu. When Bok was at Harvard's helm in the late 1970s, the campus was consumed by a controversy over the University's financial links to apartheid-era South Africa. Bok, who returns to Mass. Hall on July 1, took a skeptical stance toward divestment demands. In open letters to the Harvard community, Bok wrote that he believed divestment was unlikely to help end apartheid, and might threaten the University’s academic mission and financial stability. This time, as students want Harvard to sever ties with companies that do business with the Sudanese government, Bok’s views could assume new importance. 'We can all agree that an educational institution should not inflict harm on others merely to fatten its coffers,' Bok later wrote in a 1982 book on the social responsibilities of universities. 'But it is a very different matter for trustees to use institutional funds to help redress an injustice in the outside world for which the university is not directly responsible.' [...]"


"'If We Did Anything Questionable in the War, We Should Have the Maturity to Admit It and Learn from It'"
By A.C. Grayling
New Statesman, 27 February 2006
"Did America and Britain commit a war crime by bombing civilian populations in the cities of Germany and Japan during the Second World War? I examine this question in my book Among the Dead Cities, and unequivocally answer 'yes.' This has caused a predictable outburst of controversy among historians who believe they own the war and who, besides resenting any trespass on their terrain, are not predisposed to thinking in these terms about any aspect of our endeavours in 1939-45. I have always accepted this was a just war for the Allied side, against dangerous and wicked aggressors. Losing it would itself have been a crime, as well as a disaster. And yet, if we did do anything questionable in the course of that war, we should have the maturity and courage to acknowledge it, and learn from it, because we are still fighting wars, and may have to fight yet more. My critics focus on three areas. They defend the bombing campaign against Germany by saying that it hampered the Nazi war effort because it kept troops, guns and aircraft on the home front, thus weakening the eastern and western military fronts, and slowed industrial production. Second, they say that to describe area bombing of civilians as a war crime is to make a judgement of hindsight, using concepts -- particularly that of the 'war crime' -- which did not come into existence until later. Third, because most of them have touched on the bombing controversy in their own books, they say that my discussion contains nothing new. They are wrong on all counts. [...]"


"Mahatma Bush"
By Norman Solomon, 28 February 2006
"Evidently the president's trip to India created an option too perfect to pass up: The man who has led the world in violence during the first years of the 21st century could pay homage to the world's leading practitioner of nonviolence during the first half of the 20th century. So the White House announced plans for George W. Bush to lay a wreath at the Mahatma Gandhi memorial in New Delhi this week. While audacious in its shameless and extreme hypocrisy, this PR gambit is in character for the world's only superpower. One of the main purposes of the Bush regime's media spin is to depict reality as its opposite. And Karl Rove obviously figured that mainstream U.S. media outlets, with few exceptions, wouldn't react with anywhere near the appropriate levels of derision or outrage. Presidential rhetoric aside, Gandhi's enthusiasm for nonviolence is nearly matched by Bush's enthusiasm for violence. The commander in chief regularly proclaims his misty-eyed pride in U.S. military actions that destroy countless human lives with massive and continual techno-violence. But the Bushian isn't quite 180 degrees from the Gandhian. The president of the United States is not exactly committed to violence; what he wants is an end to resistance. 'A conqueror is always a lover of peace,' the Prussian general Karl von Clausewitz observed. Yearning for Uncle Sam to fulfill his increasingly farfetched promise of victory in Iraq, the U.S. president is an evangelist for peace -- on his terms. [...]"

"The CIA's 'Black Sites'"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 24 February 2006
"[...] Bush, Rumsfeld, Gonzales, et al. regularly intone, in chorus, that the U.S. does not torture and always acts within the law. But if the fearful facts in the darkness in those CIA prisons are ever documented by an independent prosecutor in a future administration, it will finally be proved that, as Human Rights Watch emphasizes, the CIA is responsible -- along with the president who gave it 'special powers' -- for 'serious violations of U.S. criminal law, such as the War Crimes Act and the Anti-Torture Statute. ... The mistreatment of detainees also violates the [International] Convention Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which the United States has ratified, and the laws of war.' There is a rising focus around the country on this year's midterm elections. During the campaigning, will there be any mention of the screams in the CIA's underground prisons of darkness? And if there is, how many Americans will care enough to be repelled by their own silent, passive complicity in the growing moral darkness of this nation's leadership? [...]"

"A Judicial Green Light for Torture"
The New York Times (Editorial), 26 February 2006
"[...] The maltreatment of Mr. Arar [Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian sent by 'extraordinary rendition' to Syria] would be reprehensible -- and illegal under the United States Constitution and applicable treaties -- even had the suspicions of terrorist involvement proven true. But no link to any terrorist organization or activity emerged, which is why the Syrians eventually released him. Mr. Arar then sued for damages. The judge in the case, David Trager of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, did not dispute that United States officials had reason to know that Mr. Arar faced a likelihood of torture in Syria. But he took the rare step of blocking the lawsuit entirely, saying that the use of torture in rendition cases is a foreign policy question not appropriate for court review, and that going forward would mean disclosing state secrets. It is hard to see why resolving Mr. Arar's case would necessitate the revelation of privileged material. Moreover, as the Supreme Court made clear in a pair of 2004 decisions rebuking the government for its policies of holding foreign terrorism suspects in an indefinite legal limbo in Guantánamo and elsewhere, even during the war on terror, the government's actions are subject to court review and must adhere to the rule of law. With the Bush administration claiming imperial powers to detain, spy on and even torture people, and the Republican Congress stuck largely in enabling mode, the role of judges in checking executive branch excesses becomes all the more crucial. If the courts collapse when confronted with spurious government claims about the needs of national security, so will basic American liberties."

"A Growing Afghan Prison Rivals Bleak Guantánamo"
By Tim Golden and Eric Schmitt
The New York Times, 26 February 2006 [Registration Required]
"While an international debate rages over the future of the American detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the military has quietly expanded another, less-visible prison in Afghanistan, where it now holds some 500 terror suspects in more primitive conditions, indefinitely and without charges. Pentagon officials have often described the detention site at Bagram, a cavernous former machine shop on an American air base 40 miles north of Kabul, as a screening center. They said most of the detainees were Afghans who might eventually be released under an amnesty program or transferred to an Afghan prison that is to be built with American aid. But some of the detainees have already been held at Bagram for as long as two or three years. And unlike those at Guantánamo, they have no access to lawyers, no right to hear the allegations against them and only rudimentary reviews of their status as 'enemy combatants,' military officials said. ... While Guantánamo offers carefully scripted tours for members of Congress and journalists, Bagram has operated in rigorous secrecy since it opened in 2002. It bars outside visitors except for the International Red Cross and refuses to make public the names of those held there. The prison may not be photographed, even from a distance. From the accounts of former detainees, military officials and soldiers who served there, a picture emerges of a place that is in many ways rougher and more bleak than its counterpart in Cuba. Men are held by the dozen in large wire cages, the detainees and military sources said, sleeping on the floor on foam mats and, until about a year ago, often using plastic buckets for latrines. Before recent renovations, they rarely saw daylight except for brief visits to a small exercise yard. [...]"