Friday, November 24, 2006

NOW AVAILABLE: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones (Routledge, 2006; 430 pp., US $33.95 pbk). See "The best introductory text available to students of genocide studies ... likely to become the gold standard by which all subsequent introductions to this enormously important subject will be measured" (Kenneth J. Campbell).

Genocide Studies Media File
November 17-24, 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

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"Forensic Experts Exhume 156 Bodies from Mass Grave in Northeast Bosnia"
By Samir Krilic
Associated Press dispatch on, 24 November 2006
"Forensic experts exhumed bodies of 156 people from a mass grave found recently in northeastern Bosnia that is believed to be connected to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, officials said Friday. In addition, 'blindfolds, wires, wallets, watches of the victims of Srebrenica massacre from 1995 have been found in the grave,' said Jasna Subotic, spokesman for the district attorney in charge of genocide crimes, announcing the completion of the exhumation. The grave in Snagovo village was found earlier in November after experts received a tip-off from an undisclosed source, said Murat Hurtic, head of Bosnia's Missing Persons Commission. It is the seventh mass grave Hurtic's team has found near Srebrenica, the scene of Europe's worst massacre since the Second World War. Snagovo is about 50 kilometres north of Srebrenica. Near the end of the 1992-95 Bosnian war, Bosnian Serbs overran Srebrenica, a Muslim enclave, which the United Nations had declared a safe zone, and killed as many as 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Thousands of Srebrenica victims have been exhumed from over 60 mass graves around the town, and more than 2,500 of them were identified by DNA analysis. ... Local and international experts have been digging for years in Snagovo, finding so-called 'secondary' mass graves in the area just outside of the city of Zvornik on the border with Serbia. Such graves contain bodies originally buried elsewhere, but later moved to the 'secondary' location in an effort to cover it up. The remains are often only partial, as those involved in reburying them often used bulldozers to bring them up from the first grave. At the Snagovo grave just excavated, Subotic said, 90 whole bodies and 66 incomplete bodies were exhumed."


"Officials Mull Khmer Rouge Trials"
BBC Online, 20 November 2006
"Cambodian and international judges are meeting to discuss the rules to be applied during the trials of the former leaders of the Khmer Rouge. The session, planned to last a week, has been preceded by discussions over the role of foreign lawyers and public participation in the process. The issue of whether the defendants can get a fair trial has also been debated. About two million people died during the years that the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia in the 1970s under Pol Pot. Which of the former Khmer Rouge leaders will be prosecuted first may be announced before the end of the year. The UN-backed trials are due to start in 2007, and could mean that surviving leaders of the brutal Maoist regime -- some of whom are still living freely -- will be called to the dock. The Khmer Rouge trials process started four months ago, but Cambodian and international legal officials still have to agree on many of the procedures for the trials. Differences in legal systems have to be addressed -- not just between local and international laws, but among the various legal codes used by the international officials. Already the draft rules have been criticised. Human rights groups have warned that the trials could be swamped by a flood of lawsuits from members of the public. The Cambodian Bar Association has said it will try to block foreign lawyers from representing defendants. And the principal defender has raised doubts over whether a fair trial is possible for men who have been vilified publicly for more than two decades. [...]"


"Colombian Militia Chiefs Offer to Confess Atrocities"
Associated Press dispatch on, 23 November 2006
"The imprisoned leaders of Colombia's right-wing militias called Thursday for the creation of a truth commission where they can confess their actions in the brutal civil war. The announcement came as a scandal deepened over ties between the paramilitaries, responsible for thousands of killings, and Colombia's political class. 'We understand and accept that a fundamental part of the Justice and Peace Law lies in the confession of the truth of what occurred in the recent history of our national tragedy,' said a statement signed by all the paramilitary leaders who have been held at a special prison for two months as part of a peace deal with the government. The warlords, accused of some of the worst atrocities in Colombia's five-decade conflict pitting the government and far-right militias against leftist rebels, also urged their supporters to confess. 'We ask publicly that those who urged us on, collaborators and direct beneficiaries, the businessmen, industrialists and political leaders ... members of the security forces, join us in this task without apprehension or fear,' the statement said. The paramilitaries' targets included leftist guerrillas, their civilian supporters, civic leaders, human rights workers, journalists and anyone who revealed the extent of the paramilitaries' infiltration of Colombia's public institutions. Authorities are investigating five politicians, including a former governor and two senators, for ties to the paramilitaries, with some accused of murder, helping to steal public funds and extortion. As part of the peace deal, which saw the demobilization of more than 30,000 fighters, the leaders will stand trial in special tribunals where they can be sentenced to a maximum of eight years in prison."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Colombian Government Shaken By Lawmakers' Paramilitary Ties"
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, 18 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"The government of President Álvaro Uribe is being shaken by its most serious political crisis yet, as details emerge about members of Congress who collaborated with right-wing death squads to spread terror and exert political control across Colombia's Caribbean coast. Two senators, Álvaro García and Jairo Merlano, are in custody, as is a congressman, Eric Morris, and a former congresswoman, Muriel Benito. Four local officials have been arrested, and a warrant has been issued for a former governor, Salvador Arana. All are from the state of Sucre, where the attorney general's office has been exhuming bodies from mass graves -- victims of a paramilitary campaign to erode civilian support for Marxist rebels in Colombia's long conflict. The investigation, which has revealed how lawmakers and paramilitary commanders rigged elections and planned assassinations, has shaken Colombia's Congress to its core. One powerful senator from Cesar state, Álvaro Araujo, has warned that if he is targeted in the investigation, it would taint relatives of his in the government and, ultimately, the president, whom he has strongly supported. The arrests and disclosures about the investigation, which is focusing on at least five more members of Congress, come weeks after prosecutors leaked a report revealing how paramilitary fighters have killed hundreds of people, trafficked cocaine to the United States and sacked government institutions while negotiating a disarmament with Uribe's government. [...]"


"Croatia Marks Massacre in Vukovar"
BBC Online, 18 November 2006
"More than 20,000 people have gathered to commemorate the fall of the Croatian town of Vukovar to Yugoslav forces during the war in 1991. Political leaders and ordinary Croats, each carrying a red rose, walked to the town's memorial cemetery. The three-month siege and bombardment of Vukovar was a particularly brutal episode during the Croatian war of independence from Yugoslavia. More than 1,000 civilians were killed in the eastern town. 'Vukovar defended Croatia, we are proud to be here,' Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said during the commemoration ceremony. 'We have a duty to thank those who gave their lives for the defence of the city,' he said. The town was devastated before it fell to the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army. More than 1,000 Croats and non-Serb civilians were massacred and thousands more expelled from the town. Serbian courts later sentenced 14 former militiamen to jail terms of up to 20 years for the massacre of at least 200 prisoners of war seized in a Vukovar hospital. The prisoners were taken to a nearby pig farm, where they were executed in what became known as the Ovcara massacre. Three senior Serb officers are also being tried before the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague for suspected war crimes committed in Vukovar."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Germany and the Armenian Genocide"
Khatchig Mouradian interviewed by Margaret Anderson
'The issue of German responsibility in the Armenian Genocide has been researched by a number of scholars in the past decades. The Ottoman Empire was an ally of Germany during WWI, when up to a million and a half Armenians were uprooted from the Empire and perished in a state-sponsored campaign of mass annihilation. On June 15, 2005, the German Parliament passed a motion honoring and commemorating 'the victims of violence, murder and expulsion among the Armenian people before and during the First World War.' The Bundestag deplored 'the deeds of the Young Turkish government in the Ottoman Empire which have resulted in the almost total annihilation of the Armenians in Anatolia.' The Bundestag also acknowledged and deplored 'the inglorious role played by the German Reich which, in spite of a wealth of information on the organized expulsion and annihilation of Armenians, has made no attempt to intervene and stop these atrocities.' In this interview with Professor Margaret Anderson, conducted by phone from Beirut, we discuss issues related to Germany and the Armenian Genocide. [...]"
[n.b. A fascinating interview that should be of interest to all scholars of the Armenian genocide.]


"Germany's Pictures of Uncertainty"
By Jess Smee
The Guardian, 22 November 2006
"[...] Germany is grappling with the tricky legacy of artworks stolen by the Third Reich, some of which still hang, in pride of place, in museums across the country. Bernd Neumann, the German culture minister, met the curators of the country's leading museums in Berlin this week in an attempt to smooth out the way in which they deal with claims on artwork plundered by the Nazis. Legally and morally, it's an open and shut case -- works of art stolen from Jewish families in the 1930s and 40s must be returned to their rightful heirs. The reality, however, is more fraught. Murky historical records and the lure of millions of euros on the international art market mean the issue is now big business. As Mr. Neumann put it: 'The museums complain that there is now a highly developed restitution trade operating along hard and fast commercial principles.' Such fears were aired at this week's meeting, and the debate revealed the broad sweep of the situation. Around 1,000 German museums and galleries are bracing themselves for restitution claims -- there are claims on 100 works from the expressionist period alone. Emotions are running high following the controversial return of the German expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner's Berlin Street Scene to the heirs of its former owner. That case was hotly disputed by some experts, who argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove whether the painting was looted or its Jewish owners had been paid for it in the 1930s. Adding to the controversy, the work was promptly sold to the cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder at a New York auction for $38m (£19.9m). The huge price tag put it far out of reach for its former owner, Berlin's Die Bruecke museum, fuelling fears that Germany was likely to see an exodus of important artworks. [...]"


"Israeli-Arab Activist in Mission to Tackle Iran over Holocaust"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 18 November 2006
"An Israeli-Arab lawyer plans to travel to Iran next month to preach his message at an official conference that all Muslims need to appreciate the true magnitude of the Holocaust. Khaled Mahameed, who started the Arab world's first Holocaust museum in Nazareth, has been invited to address the conference, Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision, in Tehran on 11 and 12 December. Mr. Mahameed said yesterday his challenge to the questioning of the Holocaust by the Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, would be: 'Do not deny or even argue about the authenticity of the Holocaust ... You are not helping the Palestinian people. You are hurting their cause.' Mr. Mahameed was invited to attend the conference after sending copies of articles he had written on Jewish suffering in the Second World War to various Iranian contacts as a correction after the President's views were reported. He has also established a modest private exhibition in the first floor of his house of 80 harrowing photographs purchased from Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial and museum to the victims of the Holocaust, in Jerusalem, with captions he has translated into Arabic. A leaflet he has written gives a sympathetic and factual account of the horrors. ... He said: 'People say I am a crazy for making this issue the centre of my life. They should realise that I am serving the Palestinian cause. The world will not see our Nakba [the 'disaster' or flight of Palestinians from their homes in 1948] before we could feel for their Holocaust.' [...]"


"The Death Squads" [Multimedia]
A powerful and disturbing 48-minute documentary, produced by Channel 4 in the UK, on Iraqi government complicity in death-squad killings. The gendercidal element to the slaughter is particularly vividly conveyed.

"Saddam Trial 'Flawed and Unsound'"
BBC Online, 20 November 2006
"The trial of Saddam Hussein was so flawed that its verdict is unsound, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch says. HRW said 'serious administrative, procedural and substantive legal defects' meant the 5 November trial for crimes against humanity was not fair. The Iraqi government has dismissed the report, telling the BBC that the trial was both 'just and fair.' The ex-Iraqi leader has two weeks to lodge an appeal but his lawyer claims he has been blocked from doing so. Chief defence lawyer Khalil al-Dulaimi told the BBC his team had been prevented from filing appeal papers. Under Iraqi law it must be done within a month of sentencing. However, the chief prosecutor, Jafaar al-Mousawi, has told the BBC it was a fair trial. He said the appeal would be automatic because a death sentence had been passed -- and that the relevant papers had been sent to the appeal court. ... HRW based its scathing assessment on extensive observation of court proceedings, and interviews with judges, prosecutors, defence lawyers and court administrators involved. The trial took just over one year to complete and was the first case brought before the Iraqi High Tribunal. Proceedings were marked by frequent outbursts by both judges and defendants. Three defence lawyers were murdered, three judges left the five-member panel and the original chief judge was replaced. Defence lawyers boycotted proceedings but HRW said court-appointed counsel that took their place lacked adequate training in international law. In addition, important documents were not given to defence lawyers in advance, no written transcript was kept and paperwork was lost, said HRW. [...]"
[n.b. Link to the complete text of the HRW report.]

"Time for Another Body Count in Iraq"
By Sheldon Rampton, 18 November 2006
"[...] As for the gap between the Lancet figure and deaths reported by the Iraqi Health Ministry, a number of Iraqi commentators (some of whom I quote below) have noted that conditions in many parts of the country as so unstable as to prevent reliable government accounting. Moreover, the question of how many people have died in Iraq has been politically charged since the start of the war, and the United States has not only avoided issuing statistics of its own but on a number of occasions has also pressured Iraqi officials against doing so. ... The results of the Lancet study, combined with what we know about the limitations of other attempts to count the dead, suggest that the war in Iraq has already claimed hundreds of thousands rather than tens of thousands of lives. It is rather striking, moreover, that critics of this research have mostly avoided calling for additional, independent studies that could provide a scientific basis for either confirming or refuting its alarming findings. The Lancet researchers themselves have called for such research. 'At the conclusion of our 2004 study,' they state, 'we urged that an independent body assess the excess mortality that we saw in Iraq. This has not happened. We continue to believe that an independent international body to monitor compliance with the Geneva conventions and other humanitarian standards in conflict is urgently needed. With reliable data, those voices that speak out for civilians trapped in conflict might be able to lessen the tragic human cost of future wars.'"
[n.b. This is an excellent, detailed review of the debate over the Lancet's finding of 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq since the US-led invasion. It includes a broad sampling of views, rarely heard, from Iraqis themselves.]


"Gaza Suffering 'Massive' Rights Violations -- U.N."
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
Reuters dispatch, 20 November 2006
"A senior United Nations official described Gaza as suffering 'massive' human rights violations during a visit to the territory on Monday and urged all sides to be bold in trying to end the violence. 'The violation of human rights I think in this territory is massive,' Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, told reporters during a visit to Beit Hanoun, a town the Israeli army shelled earlier this month, killing 19 civilians. 'The call for protection has to be answered. We cannot continue to see civilians, who are not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what I see.' Arbour, on a five-day trip to the region, spent time at the house of a family who had lost more than a dozen members in a shelling on Nov. 8, when Israel says a mistake led to the barrage of artillery shells hitting the neighbourhood. Her visit, the first she has made to the region since becoming commissioner, comes days after the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution that 'deplored' Israel's shelling of Gaza and called for an immediate cessation of violence. Asked what she planned to do about the rights violations, Arbour said: 'I will help to keep the conscience of the many who care about what happens in this part of the world alive. I will speak to the Palestinian Authority about their responsibility to enforce the law, to create an environment in which people can seek protection of the law and, of course, I will also speak to the Israeli authority. We need to collectively call on leaders, political, military and militia leaders, to have the courage to break the cycle of violence to ensure the well-being of civilians.' [...]"


"More Than 60 Years On, Details of the Holocaust Keep Unfolding"
By Arthur Max
Associated Press dispatch in the International Herald Tribune, 17 November 2006
"[...] This vast archive in six nondescript buildings in a German spa town contains the fullest record of Nazi persecution in existence. But because of concerns about the victims' privacy, the ITS has kept the files closed to the public for half a century, doling out information in minimal amounts to survivors or their descendants on a strict need-to-know basis. This policy, which has generated much ill-feeling among Holocaust survivors and researchers, is about to change. In May, after years of pressure from the United States and survivors' groups, the 11 countries overseeing the archive agreed to unseal the files for scholars as well as victims and their families. In recent weeks the interim director of the ITS, Jean-Luc Blondel, has been to Washington, The Hague and to the Buchenwald memorial with a new message of cooperation with governments and other Holocaust institutions. The ITS has allowed Paul Shapiro, of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, to look at the files and has also given some reporters extensive access on the condition that no names from the files are revealed unless they have been identified in other sources. [...]"


"Details of Mexico's Dirty Wars from 1960s to 1980s Released"
By Juan Forero
The Washington Post, 22 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"Mexican authorities have quietly released an 859-page report that describes how three Mexican governments killed, tortured and disappeared dissidents and political opponents from the late 1960s until 1982. The release of the 'Historical Report to the Mexican Society' marks the first time that Mexico has officially accepted responsibility for waging a dirty war against leftist guerrillas, university students and activists. It includes declassified government records, photographs and details about individuals who were killed under the rule of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, the authoritarian party that ruled the country for 71 years before being ousted in 2000. 'The authoritarianism with which the Mexican state subjected dissidents led to spiraling violence that led it to commit crimes against humanity, in crime after crime,' the report says. ... The report in Mexico offers chilling detail about how the state, with orders from up high, carried out a brutal offensive that included using electrical shocks, rounding up villagers and burning down villages in regions that authorities considered dangerously subversive. 'This was state policy,' said Jose Luis Contreras, spokesman for Special Prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, whose office conducted the investigation. 'The hypothesis is that they knew about the abuses, the executions and the disappearances.' ... Carrillo's office said 500 cases are open. But no one is currently facing charges, said Human Rights Watch, the New York-based group, and no one has been tried and convicted. 'They haven't found one disappeared person. They haven't punished a single person responsible,' said Rosario Ibarra, a senator whose son, Jesús Piedra Ibarra, disappeared in 1975. 'For us, the report is useless.' [...]"

"Mexican Ex-Presidents Blasted in Report"
By Julie Watson
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News
18 November 2006
"The Mexican government on Saturday released a long-awaited report that for the first time officially blamed 'the highest command levels' of three former presidencies for the massacres, tortures and slayings of hundreds of leftists from the 1960s to the 1980s. The report ends a five-year investigation by a special prosecutor named by President Vicente Fox to shed light on past crimes, including a 1968 student massacre and the disappearance of hundreds of leftist activists in the 1970s and early 1980s. The authoritarian regime, at the highest command levels, broke the law and committed 'crimes against humanity' that resulted in 'massacres, forced disappearances, systematic torture and genocide to try to destroy a sector of society that it considered ideologically to be its enemy,' said the report, based partly on declassified Mexican military documents. Special prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo, who was appointed in November 2001, handed his report to the Attorney General's Office late Friday. It was later posted on the Internet for the public, and Carrillo said it would presented at a ceremony with Fox before he leaves office Dec. 1. The incidents occurred during the administrations of Presidents Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, Jose Lopez Portillo and Luis Echeverria. Asked by The Associated Press if the presidents knew of the atrocities but did nothing, Carrillo replied, 'Yes.' Carrillo said the report is only the beginning -- that the Mexican government must prosecute those responsible if it is to prevent such atrocities from occurring in the future. The state also must compensate victims' families, he said. 'This was not about the behavior of certain individuals,' Carrillo said. 'It was the consequence of an authorized plan to do away with political dissidents.' [...]"


"Ethnic Cleansing in Russia"
By Fred Weir
In These Times, 15 November 2006
"[...] Hatred of non-Slavs is a combustible political issue in Russia. 'Russians are the most discriminated-against group in Russia, and we help them to find their voice,' says Alexander Belov, chief ideologue of DPNI, Russia's fastest-growing grassroots organization. Lately many Russians have been mobilizing, with Belov's encouragement. Six days of rioting in the northern town of Kondopoga in late August left at least three people dead and forced hundreds of Caucasians to flee. 'The local people want them to go back where they came from,' says Belov. 'That's democracy. The rights of the majority should be respected.' Similar upheavals have been reported over the past six months, hitting far-flung Russian towns in Saratov, Chita, Rostov, Astrakhan and Irkutsk regions. A September poll conducted by the independent Levada Center found that 57 percent of Russians thought Kondopoga-style violence could break out in their town, while 52 percent said they agreed with DPNI's main slogan: 'Russia for the Russians.' ... [Recently], police descended on markets around the country, rounding up thousands of Caucasians -- not only Georgians -- whose documents showed any discrepancies. (Endemic corruption virtually ensures discrepancies in peoples' [sic] official documents.) Moscow schools were ordered to report children with Georgian-sounding names to police, so their parents could be investigated. By late October, about 100 Georgian 'illegal immigrants' were being deported to Tbilisi on special daily military flights. [...]"


[n.b. The following four articles are presented in chronological order.]

"French Prosecutors OK Rwanda Arrests"
By Pierre-Antoine Souchard
The Los Angeles Times, 20 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"French prosecutors on Monday approved international arrest warrants for nine Rwandan officials in connection with the 1994 attack that killed Rwanda's president, triggering the central African country's genocide. French anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, who had sought approval from the Paris prosecutor's office, must now sign the order for the warrants to be issued. He is expected to do so in the coming days, judicial officials said. The nine officials are considered close to current Rwandan President Paul Kagame. They include Rwanda's armed forces chief James Kabarebe and army chief of staff Charles Kayonga, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. Kagame is also considered to be among the suspects. However, immunity accorded by France to acting heads of state prevents French judicial authorities from issuing a warrant for him. France hopes to ask the Rwanda war crimes tribunal in Tanzania to pursue the case against him, the judicial officials said. The late President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane was mysteriously shot down over the Rwandan capital of Kigali on April 6, 1994, setting off a barrage of Hutu killings of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. About 500,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, were killed in 100 days. The French court is investigating the case because the plane's crew was French. The families of the pilot, co-pilot and mechanic, who all died in the crash, filed a suit in France in 1998. [...]"

"Rwanda Rejects Calls to Indict President"
By Gabriel Gabiro
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 21 November 2006
"Rwanda on Tuesday rejected calls by a French judge to indict President Paul Kagame over his alleged involvement in the death of the country's former leader, which sparked the 1994 genocide. 'The allegations are totally unfounded. The judge is acting on the basis of gossip and rumours,' Justice Minister Tharcisse Karugarama said. Karugarama accused the Judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, of playing political games over the allegations that will further worsen the already frosty relations between Kigali and Paris. 'These are political games rather than a judicial process,' he said. On Monday, Bruguiere said Kagame should face prosecution for war crimes before the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) because of his 'suspected involvement' in the death of then-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. ... The [ICTR] tribunal last month turned down a request to consider an earlier account from Bruguiere into the killing of Habyarimana, which reportedly named Kagame as the main decision-maker behind the April 6 1994 attack in which Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed. The downing of Habyarimana's aircraft, in which Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira and a four-man French crew were also killed, sparked off the mass slaughter. Kagame, who headed the Tutsi rebel force that took power in Kigali in July 1994, ending the genocide, has always denied any involvement in the attack on the aircraft carrying Habyarimana. [...]"

"UN Rebuffs Judge's Call to Prosecute Kagame"
Independent Online (South Africa), 23 November 2006
"The United Nations genocide tribunal for Rwanda said on Thursday it was at nobody's behest to prosecute Rwandan President Paul Kagame for alleged complicity in the death of the country's former president as called for by a French judge. The tribunal's spokesperson Everard O'Donnell said 'the prosecutor takes instructions from nobody in the world,' rebuffing Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere's suggestion that Kagame should face trial before the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Bruguiere said on Monday that Kagame should be prosecuted for 'suspected involvement' in the death of president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose assassination touched off the country's 1994 genocide. O'Donnell said the April 6, 1994 shooting down of Habyarimana's plane, in which Burundi's then president Cyprien Ntaryamira and a four-man French crew were also travelling in, did not cause the genocide. 'The crash did not create the genocide,' O'Donnell told a press conference. 'Do you think we are historians?' [...]"

"Sense of Guilt Surrounds Search for Truth"
By Fergal Keane
The New Zealand Herald, 23 November 2006
"Will we ever learn the truth about this genocide? In the months leading up to the explosion of genocide in Rwanda in April 1994, human rights groups, diplomats and United Nations peacekeepers were warning of the danger of large-scale killing. Human rights organisation Africa Watch wrote: 'The perpetrators, high within Government circles, had made meticulous plans. A radio station under their control, Radio Mille Collines, had been whipping up anti-Tutsi hysteria for months. Secret arms caches were kept ready for use by Government soldiers and the party militia, the core cadre of which had been trained in the tactics of slaughter. Lists of Tutsis and their Hutu sympathisers had been compiled for targeting. Only a trigger was needed.' None of this would have escaped the attention of the leader of the Rwandan Patriotic Front, Major General Paul Kagame. He would have been well aware that Rwanda was a tinderbox. Any violent action by a group linked to the Tutsi minority could provoke a terrible response from the Hutu extremists. And it is this which makes the allegations from French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere so potentially devastating if proved to be true. In essence, Paris is alleging that Kagame and senior colleagues not only murdered two heads of state (Burundi's President was also travelling on the plane) but threw a match on a bonfire they knew to be soaked in petrol. ... Will any of this ever come before a French or United Nations court? It must be regarded as highly unlikely. The head of the UN tribunal has already declared the assassination of President Habyarimana to be outside the court's mandate. Investigators who did look at the matter for the UN have claimed their inquiries were shut down on orders from above. [...]"

"Ex-UN Rwanda Chief Testifies in Army Officers' Genocide Trial"
By Xan Rice
The Guardian, 20 November 2006
"Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire, whose experiences heading the UN peacekeeping mission during the Rwandan genocide left him suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, will today testify in the war crimes trial of two senior-ranking army officials. Gen Dallaire will appear by video link from Canada after being advised by doctors that he would risk further mental trauma by appearing in person at the tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. The prosecution has subpoenaed Gen Dallaire as a witness against Augustine Bizimungu, the Rwandan army's chief of staff during the genocide, and Augustin Ndindiliyimana, who led the military police. The men are charged with leading roles in the 1994 massacres, which saw 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus killed by Hutu extremists in three months. Both of the accused, who deny the charges including genocide, are well known to Gen Dallaire. He was appointed as the UN's force commander in Rwanda in 1993 and given the job of overseeing a peace accord between the Hutu-led government and Tutsi rebels. Less than a year later, President Juvénal Habyarimana's plane was shot down over Kigali airport and the government and army helped spark the mass killings. [...]"


"Sudan's Darfur 'Close to Abyss'"
BBC Online, 23 November 2006
"UN humanitarian chief Jan Egeland has accused Sudan of fuelling the worsening conflict in the Darfur region. He said the number of people in 'desperate need' of aid in Darfur had risen to 4 million, compared to 1 million two years ago. Mr. Egeland said Sudan's government was obstructing international aid efforts and 'arming to the teeth' Arab militias accused of attacks on Darfur villagers. Only a 'change in will' in Sudan and abroad could improve matters, he said. Mr. Egeland made his comments in a report to the UN Security Council following his fourth visit to Darfur in his current capacity. He is expected to step down next month. The crisis in Darfur was 'closer to the abyss than I have witnessed since my first visit in 2004,' Mr. Egeland said. 'I return with a plea from beleaguered Darfurians for immediate action to finally stop the atrocities against them,' he said. Mr. Egeland said the number of refugees in urgent need of humanitarian aid had increased 'in a climate of massive re-armament.' An international relief operation could only reach 3 million people of the 4 million who now needed aid, he said. 'The Arab militias are being armed to the teeth by the government,' he said, while rebels fighting them are 'getting arms across the border.' [...]"

"How Will History Judge Us?"
By Anne Applebaum, 20 November 2006
"[...] I can offer no scientific explanation for why the tragedy of Darfur conjures up the specter of history's judgment and why other tragedies do not. But the answer must lie in the fact that this conflict has so few strategic or geopolitical implications. Because it seems to be in no one's 'interest' do so so, a call for a U.N. intervention in Darfur surely feels -- at least to Americans and Europeans who haven't followed China's involvement in Sudan's oil industry -- like an act of real charity and not more evidence of the West pursuing its interests. Equally important is the fact that Sudan plays no real role in Western domestic politics. Any discussion of North Korea will still evoke the Cold War, any conversation about Iran must touch on radical Islam. By contrast, when most of us look at Sudan, all we see is what Jan Egeland, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator, last weekend called 'acts of inexplicable terror.' Taking a stand against genocide in Sudan does not require anyone to take a parallel stand on communism, the war on terror, or the war in Iraq. It does not imply that you are left wing, right wing, pro- or anti-Bush. Once the United Nations is there, this may change: The U.S. intervention in Somalia immediately politicized what had also appeared to be an apolitical conflict. But at the moment, it is still possible to think of Darfur as an appropriate target for neutral humanitarianism. None of this, I should emphasize, is meant to disparage the work of the extraordinary Darfur coalition, which has pushed an obscure and terrible war into the center of the international spotlight. [...]"

"Heavy Toll Reported as Sudan Army Bombards Darfur"
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 19 November 2006
"The African Union on Saturday reported a 'heavy' civilian toll after Sudanese forces and allied militia this week conducted raids in the war-ravaged western region of Darfur. The AU Mission in Sudan (Amis) reported a 'heavy toll on the civilian population' after the army, backed by Janjaweed militia, carried out aerial bombardments in Birmaza in northern Darfur on Wednesday and Thursday. 'These attacks are a flagrant violation of the security provisions of the DPA [Darfur Peace Agreement],' said a statement from the AU, whose mission is to monitor Darfur's often-violated peace deal. The pan-African body renewed calls for the rival parties, who have failed to heed several previous appeals, to refrain from hostilities and bring an end to the devastating conflict. Amis 'calls on all the parties to the conflict to exercise restraint, even in the face of provocation, and desist from carrying out condemnable indiscriminate attacks, which cause severe civilian casualties and the destruction of livelihoods,' the statement said. The ill-equipped and under-funded AU mission in Darfur has failed to stem the conflict, which erupted in February 2003 when rebels from minority tribes took up arms against their Islamic rulers in Khartoum. [...]"

"Sudan Closing Off Darfur to Outside World"
By Katharine Houreld
The Christian Science Monitor, 17 November 2006
"The African Union patrol was only seven miles from Sirba, the site of one of the latest Darfur massacres, when they were forced to turn back. Nearly 400 Arab militiamen in Sudanese government uniforms, with new Land Cruisers and weapons, blocked the dusty track. Tuesday's incident was only the latest in a crackdown on access for international observers, journalists, and humanitarian organizations -- a pattern that is becoming wearily familiar to those working in Darfur. 'The timing is no coincidence,' says Leslie Lefkow of Human Rights Watch. '[Sudan is] stemming the flow of information from Darfur while it continues to commit massive crimes and run a military campaign.' As outgoing UN chief Kofi Annan began a major push to stem the escalating crisis during high-level meetings in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Thursday, the Sudanese government told top UN humanitarian official Jan Egeland that all his proposed destinations on a three-day trip to Darfur are too insecure to visit this weekend. Last week, the Norwegian Refugee Council announced it was being forced out of Darfur after its permit to operate had been indefinitely suspended for the fifth time, making working conditions 'impossible.' Other foreign aid workers say they have been denied permission to reenter the country after leaving to attend a family emergency or to seek medical treatment. [...]"

"Sudan Agrees 'In Principle' to UN-AU Force: Annan"
By C. Bryson Hull
Reuters dispatch, 16 November 2006
"Sudan accepts in principle U.N. and African Union forces in its war-ravaged Darfur region but has yet to agree on the number of troops to be deployed, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Thursday. 'It is agreed in principle that, pending clarification of the size of the force, we should be able to take it forward,' he told reporters at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. 'The troops should be sourced from Africa as far as possible and the command and control structure would be provided by the U.N.,' he added. Diplomats said Sudan had concerns over both the size of the force in Darfur and its command structure. 'The U.N. says 17,000 (troops), that figure is very high. We think 11,000 to 12,000,' said Sudan's U.N. ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad. The United Nations plan, which estimates say could cost more than $1 billion a year, also calls for 3,000 police. [...]"


"Museum Sends Back Bones of Aboriginals to Tasmania"
By Steve Connor
The Independent, 18 November 2006
"Britain's national collection of human remains -- a unique information source on man's origins -- could soon be broken up after a decision to return the bones of 17 Aboriginals in the collection to Tasmania. The Natural History Museum in London announced yesterday that it has decided to set a precedent by giving the remains to a Tasmanian Aboriginal group which intends to cremate them in a funeral ceremony. ... There are 24 sets of humans remains from the 17 Tasmanian Aboriginals, which were collected in the 18th and 19th century and eventually donated to the museum. At the time of collection it was common for the bodies of paupers, executed murderers and workhouse inmates to be 'donated' to medical science or the wealthy curious. The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre claimed that the remains were not given with full informed consent and therefore demanded their return under legislation that came into force last year. Professor Richard Lane, the museum's science director, said the trustees were convinced that the Tasmanian group had a legitimate claim. [...]"


"Anti-Castro Terrorist Gets Only 4 Years"
By Gloria La Riva, 16 November 2006
"A man like Santiago Alvarez, who can be heard on a telephone, calling on one of his underlings to throw C-4 explosives into Havana's Tropicana nightclub and 'do away with all that' -- all that being hundreds of people -- a man like Santiago Alvarez who had machine guns, bazookas and grenades in a massive Miami arsenal, is sentenced to only a four-year prison sentence this week in a southern Florida federal court. Yet, the Cuban Five, five men who were in Miami working to prevent a terrorist like Alvarez from killing innocent people, who never possessed a weapon, who never engaged nor intended to engage in the 'espionage conspiracy' they were falsely convicted of, received 15 years to double life after their 2001 trial, and the added punishment of being denied family visits. Alvarez and his accomplice Osvaldo Mitat were allowed to plead guilty to only one charge of weapons possession. Before their sentencing, federal judge James Cohn said, 'This court recognizes the ultimate objective and goal of Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Mitat has always been a free and democratic Cuba. This court does not question the altruistic motive here. However we are a nation of laws.' The government's and courts' impunity towards the Miami terrorists is becoming more and more blatant. Almost every day it seems, more news is coming to light in Miami of the vast and deep network of rightwing Cuban-American terrorists and their murderous plots ... Where is the justice? [...]"


"No Thanks to Thanksgiving"
By Robert Jensen, 23 November 2006
"[...] That the world's great powers achieved 'greatness' through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable. But in the United States, this reluctance to acknowledge our original sin -- the genocide of indigenous people -- is of special importance today. It's now routine -- even among conservative commentators -- to describe the United States as an empire, so long as everyone understands we are an inherently benevolent one. Because all our history contradicts that claim, history must be twisted and tortured to serve the purposes of the powerful. ... How does a country deal with the fact that some of its most revered historical figures had certain moral values and political views virtually identical to Nazis? Here's how 'respectable' politicians, pundits, and professors play the game: When invoking a grand and glorious aspect of our past, then history is all-important. We are told how crucial it is for people to know history, and there is much hand wringing about the younger generations' lack of knowledge about, and respect for, that history. In the United States, we hear constantly about the deep wisdom of the founding fathers, the adventurous spirit of the early explorers, the gritty determination of those who 'settled' the country -- and about how crucial it is for children to learn these things. But when one brings into historical discussions any facts and interpretations that contest the celebratory story and make people uncomfortable -- such as the genocide of indigenous people as the foundational act in the creation of the United States -- suddenly the value of history drops precipitously and one is asked, 'Why do you insist on dwelling on the past?' [...]"


"Italy's Spy Chief Ousted over CIA Kidnap Case"
By Tracy Wilkinson
The Los Angeles Times, 21 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Monday dismissed the government's top intelligence chief, a veteran spymaster under investigation for his role in the alleged CIA abduction of a radical Egyptian cleric from Milan three years ago. With his removal, intelligence chief Nicolo Pollari became the highest-level Italian official to lose his job over the case, adding to suspicions that the previous government collaborated more closely with the CIA than has been acknowledged. Pollari's No. 2 was arrested over the summer, and Italian prosecutors are seeking the arrest of 26 Americans, mostly CIA operatives. The Americans are accused of hunting down and seizing the cleric and then transporting him secretly to Egypt, where he says he was tortured. Pollari repeatedly denied having had advance knowledge of the abduction. But testimony from colleagues and evidence gleaned from police wiretaps suggest otherwise. Pollari, who led the military intelligence agency known as SISMI, may face indictment. Parliament's intelligence committee was to begin debating his fate today. Portions of the committee's draft report, released last week, accuse Pollari of lying to authorities and covering up SISMI's involvement in the abduction case. Cleric Hassan Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, was seized in February 2003 as he walked to a mosque in Milan. His was one of dozens of so-called extraordinary renditions the U.S. government conducted as part of its controversial attempt to pursue terrorism suspects. Many of the suspects ended up in third countries known to practice torture or in clandestine prisons run by the CIA. [...]"

"Kill Bill -- Neutering Bush's Torture Law", 20 November 2006
"Of the many good things we are beginning to see before the newly-constituted Democratic Congress even assumes power, one of the most gratifying is the move by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) to neuter the hideous Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), passed by the Republicans, and signed by George W. Bush in October. On Friday, Dodd introduced legislation to amend Bush's 'torture bill,' remove the almost-dictatorial powers it has given the White House and neutralize the bastardizing effect it's had on the United States Constitution. 'I strongly believe that terrorists who seek to destroy America must be punished for any wrongs they commit against this country,' said Dodd, in introducing this important measure. 'But in my view, in order to sustain America’s moral authority and win a lasting victory against our enemies, such punishment must be meted out only in accordance with the rule of law.' The text of the MCA may fill almost 40 pages, but it only takes a few paragraphs of Dodd's 10-page Effective Terrorists Prosecution Act (S.4060) to render its most onerous aspects moot. I analyzed Dodd's bill over the weekend and am writing this piece to give you the basics of how it fixes the Constitutional ruin imposed by the MCA and puts the power of the executive branch of government back in its rightful place. This should tell you all you need to know about both the disease and the cure. [...]"

"American Anthropologists Stand Up Against Torture and the Occupation of Iraq"
By David H. Price, 20 November 2006
"In San Jose, on Saturday evening, November 18, 2006, the rank and file members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) attending the Association's business meeting approved resolutions condemning the occupation of Iraq and the use of torture. These two resolutions were co-written by Roberto González, an associate professor of anthropology at San Jose State University, and Kanhong Lin, a graduate student in anthropology at American University. The first resolution condemns the American occupation of Iraq; calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops, the payment of reparations, and it asks that all individuals committing war crimes against Iraqis be prosecuted. This statement passed with little debate or dissent. The second resolution condemns not only the use of torture by the Bush administration, but it denounces the use of anthropological knowledge in torture and extreme interrogations. The AAA's statement stands in stark contrast with the American Psychological Association's ambivalent policies which provides psychologists working in military and intelligence settings with some cover should they wish to assist in extreme interrogations or torture. One of the concerns underlying this resolution comes from reports by Seymour Hersh that CIA interrogators consulted anthropological works such as Raphael Patai's book, The Arab Mind, to better design culture-specific means of torture and interrogation. This resolution passed unanimously with little debate. Both of these resolutions must now be presented to the full membership of the American Anthropological Association in a mail ballot in the next few months. [...]"

"Missing Presumed Tortured"
By Stephen Grey
New Statesman, 20 November 2006
"[...] In the first years after the attacks of 11 September, thousands of Taliban or suspected terrorist suspects were captured. Just in Afghanistan, the US admitted processing more than 6,000 prisoners. Pakistan has said it handed over around 500 captives to the US; Iran said it sent 1,000 across the border to Afghanistan. Of all these, some were released and just over 700 ended up in Guantanamo, Cuba. But the simple act of subtraction shows that thousands are missing. More than five years after 9/11, where are they all? We know that many were rendered to foreign jails, both by the CIA and directly by the US military. But how many precisely? The answer is still classified. No audit of the fate of all these souls has ever been published. ... Last month, Bush signed into law his new Military Commissions Act, which provides for the trial at Guantanamo of top al-Qaeda leaders. The act grants fewer rights to defendants than the Nazis got at Nuremberg. And yet, in this strange world, the rights now granted to men such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the man who devised the 9/11 attack and who will now be brought to trial, still rank far higher than the rights of the small fry, those much less significant players behind bars in foreign jails. In this new justice, the big terrorists are granted privileges, and the other missing prisoners, subtracted from the public record, are disappeared off the face of the earth. That's the mathematics of torture."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

NOW AVAILABLE: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones (Routledge, 2006; 430 pp., US $33.95 pbk). See "The best introductory text available to students of genocide studies ... likely to become the gold standard by which all subsequent introductions to this enormously important subject will be measured" (Kenneth J. Campbell).

Genocide Studies Media File
November 9-16, 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

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"Argentina Issues Arrest Warrants"
By Patrick J. McDonnell
The Los Angeles Times, 10 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"An Argentine judge handed down international arrest warrants Thursday for ex-Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani and eight other former Iranian officials in connection with the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center here that killed 85 people and injured more than 200. An Argentine investigation blamed the bombing on Hezbollah guerrillas acting on orders from Tehran, and last month a pair of special prosecutors here asked federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral to seek the arrests. The judge said Thursday that 'sufficient proof' had been provided to issue the warrants. The revival of the case has thrust Argentina's center-left government uncomfortably into the thicket of Middle East politics, although President Nestor Kirchner and his aides have declined to comment on the inquiry. The bombing inquiry has drawn praise from Washington, Tel Aviv and the Jewish community worldwide, but Iranian officials have denounced the case as a politically motivated calumny. ... Argentine prosecutors view the embassy as a planning center for the attack. Rafsanjani was president from 1989 to 1997 and remains a powerful figure in Iran. The Israeli ambassador in Buenos Aires, Rafael Eldad, expressed 'great satisfaction' with the judge's decision. The issuance of arrest warrants via Interpol would subject Rafsanjani and the other former officials to detention if they leave Iran. If arrested, they could be extradited to Argentina to stand trial. Prosecutors say an explosives-laden van driven by a Hezbollah suicide bomber detonated outside the seven-story Argentine Israelite Mutual Assn. on July 18, 1994. That attack was one of two 1990s strikes on Jewish institutions in the Argentine capital, home to Latin America's largest Jewish community. [...]"


"New Push to Resolve After-Effects of USSR's Forgotten War"
By Fred Weir
The Christian Science Monitor, 14 November 2006
"Since being driven from her family's comfortable farmhouse in eastern Azerbaijan by Armenian forces 14 years ago, Salbeh Suleimanova has raised four children in a canvas-roofed mud hut, making do with state assistance worth about $40 per month in this squalid refugee camp of 10,000 people. But she has never stopped yearning for her home, now occupied by Armenians, 100 miles down the road. ... Ms. Suleimanova is among the nearly 1 million Azeris and 400,000 Armenians uprooted from their homes in the Soviet Union's longest, bloodiest, and -- in the West -- most widely forgotten war. As the USSR was crumbling in 1998, brutal ethnic cleansing erupted between this region's Muslim Azeris and Christian Armenians, and the subsequent war left 30,000 dead. The trigger: Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave claimed by Azerbaijan but populated mainly by Armenians, which had enjoyed autonomous status under the USSR. The Minsk Group -- co-chaired by Russia, France, and the US -- meets Tuesday in a fresh attempt to break the deadlock over Nagorno-Karabakh, after a dozen years of fruitless international diplomatic efforts. But with a region-wide military buildup in full swing, and impatience with the flagging peace talks mounting, some experts fear renewed warfare is growing more possible. ... Tuesday's meeting brings the Azeri and Armenian foreign ministers together in Brussels, but there is a new complication: Nagorno-Karabakh last month adopted a local constitution that declares the tiny statelet a 'sovereign, democratic and independent' nation. [...]"


"University Professor Talks about His Book on Armenian Genocide"
[Interview with Taner Akçam]
By Conrad Wilson
The Minnesota Daily, 14 November 2006
"[...] Q. The book is quite critical of the Turkish government in regards to their role in the genocide. What criticism, if any, have you received? A. First there were attacks in Turkish press, especially because of the title of the book. This is a quotation from Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder of the (Turkish) Republic. I was attacked as a liar and falsifier of his words in main media. The next day, they all apologized. The publication of the book was the main topic in Turkey between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, not only because of Atatürk's words, but because of Orhan Pamuk's blurb (a Nobel Prize-winner author) at the back of the book. Q. What is the 'Turkish responsibility' in the Armenian genocide? There is a very strong moral responsibility because Turkey's establishment as an independent state has very strong links to what happened to the Armenians. I showed in my book that there is continuity between the Armenian genocide and the foundation of Turkish Republic. The party -- Union and Progress Party -- which organized the genocide, was the party which organized the resistance movement in Anatolia against the British and French occupation. An important number of party members who committed crimes against the Armenians were also very active in the Turkish liberation movement. Additionally, today's Turkey sits on the Armenian properties and lands left by Armenians. [...]"


"New Srebrenica Mass Grave Found"
BBC Online, 11 November 2006
"A new mass grave containing more than 100 victims of the Srebrenica massacre of 1995 has been found in north-eastern Bosnia, a forensic team has said. An anonymous tip-off led the experts to the site in Snagovo, about 50km (30 miles) north of Srebrenica. The head of the forensic team said the bodies were probably buried elsewhere and moved to the site with bulldozers. Nearly 8,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Serb forces who overran Srebrenica in July 1995. The new site is the seventh mass grave to be found in Snagovo. The remains of thousands of victims have been recovered there. The head of the forensic team, Murat Hurtic, said the skeletons were crushed and compressed, indicating they had been moved. The regional prosecutor in charge of genocide crimes, Alma Dzaferovic, said the grave held many clues about the identities of the bodies inside. Nineteen whole skeletons had been exhumed already, she said. 'We have found blindfolds, wires and wallets of the victims of the Srebrenica massacre,' Ms. Dzaferovic said. The Muslim men and boys were killed after Bosnian Serbs overran a UN-designated safe area."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"China and Japan Agree to Joint History Study"
By Mark Tran
The Guardian, 17 November 2006
"The Chinese and Japanese foreign ministers today agreed to a joint study on the nations' different interpretations of history -- particularly the second world war -- that have bedevilled bilateral relations. A Japanese official said Taro Aso and his Chinese counterpart, Li Zhaoxing, had taken the decision at a meeting in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. The two countries will each set up a team of 10 historians to study ancient, wartime and modern history, with the results due in 2008. History textbooks used in Japan have been a regular source of friction between Tokyo and neighbouring China and South Korea. Last year, both Beijing and Seoul made diplomatic protests when the Japanese government approved a new edition of a previously criticised history textbook. The book was condemned for glossing over atrocities committed by Japanese troops in Asia and leaving out the story of women being sexually enslaved by members of the imperial army during the 1930s and 1940s. The Japanese government's decision to approve the new edition triggered anti-Japanese demonstrations in both China and South Korea. [...]"


"Colombia Politician Probe Widens"
BBC Online, 11 November 2006
"A Colombian court has widened an inquiry into alleged ties between a group of politicians and right-wing paramilitaries. A day after ordering the arrest of three congressmen, the Supreme Court has now ordered an investigation of five of their political associates. All eight are from the department of Sucre -- a paramilitary stronghold. The Sucre affair could become Colombia's biggest political scandal in recent years, correspondents say. The developing investigation follows the seizure by police of a laptop computer belonging to the right-hand man of one of the leaders of the right-wing United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC). The AUC is accused of drug-trafficking, extortion and the massacre of civilians. Authorities found detailed accounts of the AUC's activities along Colombia's Caribbean coast and its alleged dealings with local politicians. On Thursday, the court ordered the arrest of two senators, Alvaro Garcia and Jairo Merlano, and a congressman Erik Morris. They are facing charges of supporting the creation of paramilitary groups in Sucre to help landowners combat left-wing guerrillas. Mr. Garcia is also accused of murder for his role in 'organising, promoting, arming and financing' paramilitaries and in connection with a massacre six years ago which saw 20 people killed. All three, who remain at large, have denied the charges. [...]"


"Congo Faces Danger of New Civil War as Opposition Rejects Election Result"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 15 November 2006
"The Democratic Republic of Congo is facing the threat of another civil war after the well-armed opposition yesterday rejected President Joseph Kabila's victory in the first free presidential election since independence, and the country's powerful Roman Catholic archbishop denounced the result as a western conspiracy to grab the country's mineral wealth. Nearly complete results released yesterday gave Mr Kabila close to 60% of the vote in last month's run-off election against his only opponent, the former rebel warlord and businessman Jean-Pierre Bemba. Voting reflected a deep divide along regional and ethnic lines that in the capital, Kinshasa, included an overwhelming rejection of the president. Tensions in the city are high after fighting by supporters of the two candidates using mortars and Kalashnikov rifles left four dead on Saturday. Clashes killed 23 in the city in August after the first round of elections. The ballot was intended to legitimise Mr Kabila's hold on power six years after he inherited the presidency following the assassination of his father, Laurent Kabila, and to end a decade of foreign invasion and civil war thought to have cost four million lives. But yesterday Mr Bemba's Union for the Nation coalition of about 50 opposition parties said in a statement that it had won more than half the votes and accused Mr Kabila of manipulating the result. [...]"

"Hundreds of Thousands Raped in Congo Wars"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 13 November 2006
"Hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped over the past decade by soldiers, rebels and ethnic militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The scale of the assaults has become increasingly evident over recent months as growing numbers of women have emerged for treatment with the reduction in fighting ahead of presidential elections, and because medical workers have been able to reach areas in the east of the country long cut off by conflict. The survivors have given accounts of villages subjected to repeated assaults in which many women and girls were serially raped and men killed. Although there are no comprehensive statistics, in one province alone, South Kivu, about 42,000 women were treated in health clinics for serious sexual assaults last year, according to statistics collected by the human rights group, Global Rights. While rape has been a product of many conflicts, its scale and systematic nature in eastern Congo has led some human rights groups to describe it as a 'weapon of war' used to punish communities for their political loyalties or as a form of ethnic cleansing. On occasions men and boys have also been raped. Doctors and women's groups working with the victims say the attacks are notable not only for their scale but also their brutality. [...]"

"International Court in First Case"
BBC Online, 9 November 2006
"The only permanent international war crimes court has opened its first hearing, in the case of a Democratic Republic of Congo militia leader. Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are to decide whether Thomas Lubanga should stand trial for allegedly recruiting child soldiers. The four-year DR Congo conflict led to an estimated four million deaths. The US strongly opposed the creation of the ICC, fearing the political prosecution of its soldiers. The ICC was designed to end the need for the various ad hoc war crimes courts which have recently been established, including the chambers created to deal with war crimes committed in the former Yugoslavia and the genocide in Rwanda. Mr. Lubanga, 45, led the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in DR Congo's north-eastern Ituri district, where fighting continued long after the official end of the five-year war in 2003. The prosecution says he visited a training camp for his mostly ethnic Hema forces, which included children as young as 10, preparing to battle their Lendu rivals. 'Whilst encouraging them, they [Mr Lubanga and his deputy] also threatened that they would be killed if they attempted to flee the camp,' the prosecution statement says, reports the AFP news agency. The child soldiers were later instructed 'to kill all Lendu including men, women and children,' the statement says, based on testimony from six children. [...]"


"East Timor Massacre Victims Still Waiting for Justice"
By Ben Terrall and John M. Miller, 11 November 2006
"This November 12 marks the fifteenth anniversary of the 1991 massacre at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, East Timor (also called Timor-Leste). On that day, Indonesian soldiers killed at least 271 East Timorese civilians nonviolently marching to demand a UN-supervised referendum after years of illegal Indonesian military occupation. ... Timor-Leste's people still live with their memories of Indonesia's quarter-century of illegal military occupation; the majority of them experienced this brutality first-hand or have victims in their immediate families. This unhealed mass trauma continues to strongly influence the reactions of Dili residents, both in their decisions to flee en masse during armed battles between police and military this past April and in the fact that many still refuse to return home. The secrecy and self-reliance essential to the independence struggle needs to be transformed into transparency, accountability, and open debate. The majority of East Timorese, and their supporters internationally, continue to view an international tribunal to pursue Indonesian generals and political leaders who organized and ordered the worst atrocities during the occupation as the only resolution for the current situation of impunity and post-traumatic stress. A credible international tribunal can demonstrate that impunity will not prevail, as indicated by a May 2005 UN Commission of Experts report on 1999 human rights violations in East Timor. That report concluded, 'The Commission wishes to emphasize the extreme cruelty with which these acts were committed, and that the aftermath of these events still burdens the Timorese society. The situation calls not only for sympathy and reparations, but also for justice. While recognizing the virtue of forgiveness and that it may be justified in individual cases, forgiveness without justice for the untold privation and suffering inflicted would be an act of weakness rather than of strength.' [...]"


"Ethiopian Judge Tells of Regime's Massacres"
By Ewen MacAskill
The Guardian, 9 November 2006
"The Ethiopian government is responsible for the killing of tens of thousands of students and other critics over the past 15 years, one of the country's most senior judges, who has defected to Britain, said yesterday. In an interview with the Guardian in London, Judge Teshale Aberra claimed the government of Meles Zenawi is as bad or worse than that of his predecessor, Mengistu Haile Mariam, which was widely condemned for human rights abuses. 'The Mengistu government killed and boasted about it. The Meles government kills and asks "who killed them?," and then sets up an inquiry commission,' Mr. Aberra said. 'This government may be more deadly.' The US has been muted in its criticism, partly because it sees Mr. Meles as an ally in its 'war on terrorism' and a counterweight to the unrest in Somalia. The British government cut direct aid last year in protest at a clampdown, but the reaction of the international community, taking its lead from Washington, has been low-key. Mr. Aberra, who was a judge for 12 years, said between 15,000 and 20,000 people have been killed in the Oromia region, which is one of the biggest provinces in the country and includes the capital, Addis Ababa. Others had been killed elsewhere in the country, many of them student protesters. [...]"


"Dilemma over Sale of Nazi Stolen Art"
By Tony Paterson
The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 2006
"The German Government has called a crisis meeting about how it deals with art sold by, or confiscated from, Jews under the Nazis after controversy over paintings restored to their original families only to be auctioned for vast sums abroad. The Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has summoned culture ministers and museum directors to discuss an overhaul of the restitution law, which critics say is stripping museums of important works. Under the law, paintings and sculptures that were parted with under duress must be returned to their owners or their heirs. But a heated debate over the way the law is operating was fuelled last week by two dramatic developments: the sale of an important expressionist work for a record price in New York, and an attempt through the courts to block the auction of a Picasso, owned by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Art Foundation. The painting, Berlin Street Scene by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, was auctioned by Christie's for $US38 million ($49 million), just months after it was removed from a Berlin museum and returned to a granddaughter of its original Jewish owners -- Anita Halpin, chairman of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Through the auction house she sold it to Ron Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire, who intends to display the painting at his Neue Galerie in New York. The rapid sale has provoked art lovers and museum directors to complain that Germany's artistic heritage is being spirited away from view and sold off for millions to private collectors. Critics say that collectors have encouraged the former Jewish owners to seek the return of the paintings from Germany, then sought to acquire the work at auction. There are fears that a similar fate awaits at least 50 other key works by Kirchner and the German expressionists August Macke, Lyonel Feininger and Franz Marc. [...]"

"Fury at Holocaust Exhibit Ban"
By Claudia Keller
The Observer, 12 November 2006
"[...] [Edith] Erbrich was seven years old when she, her sister and her father were deported by the Nazis to the concentration camp in Theresienstadt, Czechoslavakia. She survived. Some 11,000 other Jewish children died. Now a new exhibition about their fate has sparked an extraordinary and bitter dispute between the German government and the state-owned national railway. The exhibition, put together by anti-Nazi campaigners Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, was inspired by stories such as Erbrich's and has already been shown at 18 French railway stations. Now the couple want to show it at train stations across Germany, but Hartmut Mehdorn, the chief executive of Deutsche Bahn, the national railway, has refused. 'Railway stations are not the right place for an exhibition on such a serious topic,' Mehdorn said. 'They are too crowded, people are in too much of a hurry to concentrate. "Shock and go" tactics do not work any more.' He claimed the exhibition was a security risk and that neo-Nazis could try to tear it down and added: 'We at the Deutsche Bahn do not need a new exhibition. We have already one in the national railway museum in Nuremberg.' ... Edith Erbrich and other Holocaust survivors have begun an initiative urging Deutsche Bahn to allow the exhibition to go ahead as planned and have organised demonstrations in several cities across Germany. Erbrich, now 69 years old, is determined to go on with the issue. 'I am not doing it for my sake,' she said. 'I am doing it for those who cannot do it any more.' [...]"

"In Nazi Cradle, Germany Marks Jewish Renaissance"
By Mariah Blake
The Christian Science Monitor, 10 November 2006
"Cradle of the Nazi party, site of the first concentration camp, and favorite haunt of Adolf Hitler, Munich now has a new legacy; It's home to the largest synagogue built in Germany since World War II. The modern travertine-marble temple -- unveiled Thursday on the 68th anniversary of Kristallnacht, when German mobs ransacked synagogues throughout the country -- is the first phase of an elaborate $110 million complex that has been in the works for nearly two decades. The project's presence in the heart of Munich marks the growing size and influence of Germany's Jewish population -- the third largest in Europe and, in terms of immigration, the fastest growing in the world. It is also heralds an increasing willingness on the part of the nation's Jews to step out of the shadows and set down stakes in German soil. ... Over the last decade, the city's Jewish population has doubled to around 9,300, almost as large as before World War II, during which virtually all of the city's Jewish residents were killed, deported, or forced to flee. This growth is thanks to a 1991 law that opened the Germany's borders to anyone with Jewish blood. Since then, about 190,000 Jews have immigrated to Germany, bringing the country's Jewish population from fewer than 30,000 to more than 200,000 -- although many haven't joined established Jewish communities. [...]"


"Guatemalan Genocide Survivors Clamor for Ríos Montt's Capture"
Independent Media Center, 12 November 2006
"Over a thousand survivors of state-led genocide flooded the streets of Guatemala City Friday, converging on the Supreme Court building and covering it with graffiti and banners, to demand the capture of ex-dictator and current political heavyweight Efraín Rios Montt upon receipt of a forthcoming arrest warrant. According to the warrant, which is expected to soon be transmitted from Spanish courts to Guatemala, Ríos Montts reign (1982-1983) constituted '69% of all executions, 41% of rapes and sexual assaults and 45% of all reported tortures' committed during the military's so-called counterinsurgency campaign which officially concluded in 1996. Last Monday, Guatemalan courts ordered the arrest of six of the eight ex-military and ex-government officials charged with the 1980 burning of the Spanish embassy and the larger crime of genocide in Guatemala. Two of the six, Ángel Aníbal Guevara Ramírez and Germán Chupina Barahona, have been detained by the National Civil Police on charges of terrorism, homicide and kidnapping. All of the accused face extradition to Spain for their crimes, resulting from charges filed by Rigoberta Menchú and other victims before Spanish courts in 1999. Notably absent from the arrest orders were ex-dictators Efraín Ríos Montt and Romeo Lucas García. Although Lucas García died in Venezuela in May, Ríos Montt is alive, having served as president of the National Congress as recently as 2003 and today directing the Guatemalan Republican Front, which comprises the largest political party faction in Congress. [...]"


"Saddam: Let's Now Charge the Accomplices"
By John Pilger
New Statesman, 13 November 2006
"In a show trial whose theatrical climax was clearly timed to promote George W Bush in the American midterm elections, Saddam Hussein was convicted and sentenced to hang. Drivel about 'end of an era' and 'a new start for Iraq' was promoted by the usual false moral accountants, who uttered not a word about bringing the tyrant's accomplices to justice. Why are these accomplices not being charged with aiding and abetting crimes against humanity? Why isn't George Bush Snr. being charged? In 1992, a congressional inquiry found that Bush as president had ordered a cover-up to conceal his secret support for Saddam and the illegal arms shipments being sent to Iraq via third countries. Missile technology was shipped to South Africa and Chile, then 'on sold' to Iraq, while US Commerce Department records were falsified. Congressman Henry Gonzalez, chairman of the House of Representatives Banking Com mittee, said: '[We found that] Bush and his advisers financed, equipped and succoured the monster ...' Why isn't Douglas Hurd being charged? In 1981, as Foreign Office minister, Hurd travelled to Baghdad to sell Saddam a British Aerospace missile system and to 'celebrate' the anniversary of Saddam's blood-soaked ascent to power. Why isn't his former cabinet colleague, Tony Newton, being charged? As Thatcher's trade secretary, Newton, within a month of Saddam gassing 5,000 Kurds at Halabja (news of which the Foreign Office tried to suppress), offered the mass murderer £340m in export credits. [...]"

"Baghdad's Morgues Working Overtime"
Associated Press dispatch on, 12 November 2006
"Baghdad's morgues are full. With no space to store bodies, some victims of the sectarian slaughter are not being kept for relatives to claim, but photographed, numbered and quickly interred in government cemeteries. Men fearful of an anonymous burial are tattooing their thighs with names and phone numbers. In October, a particularly bloody month for Iraqi civilians, about 1,600 bodies were turned in at the Baghdad central morgue, said its director, Dr. Abdul-Razaq al-Obaidi. The city's network of morgues, built to hold 130 bodies at most, now holds more than 500, he says. Bodies are sent for burial every three or four days just to make room for the daily intake, sometimes making corpse identification impossible. ... Al-Obaidi said the daily crush of relatives is an emotional and logistical burden. 'Every day, there are crowds of women outside weeping, yelling and flailing in grief. They're all looking for their dead sons and I don't know how the computer or we will bear up,' he said. ... Abbas Beyat's joined the line outside Baghdad's central morgue after his brother Hussein disappeared a month ago while driving through the mainly Sunni town of Tarmiyah, 30 miles north of Baghdad. The family had already paid a $60,000 ransom to an intermediary who then disappeared with the money. 'There were three piles, each with about 20 bodies,' Beyat, 56, said, describing the scene inside the morgue. 'The clerk told me to dig through them until I found my brother. I had to lift them off until I found him,' he said. Like many of those abducted, Hussein Beyet bore the marks of torture, with holes from an electrical drill visible in his skull, Beyat said. ... The fear of leaving the bereaved without a corpse to bury is so strong that some Iraqi men now tattoo their names, phone numbers and other identifying information on their upper thighs, despite Islam's strict disapproval against such practices. [...]"
[n.b. That final sentence is one of the most ghoulish things I have read during the entire Iraq disaster.]

"Iraq Estimates Up to 150,000 Killed since Invasion"
Agence France-Presse dispatch on ABC News Online (Australia), 11 November 2006
"Iraq's Health Ministry says up to 150,000 people have died since the 2003 US-led invasion, as outgoing US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged the problems in fighting insurgents. While the country's Shiite and Sunni Arabs attended weekly prayers amid a relative lull in violence, clerics from the majority Muslim sect called for the speedy execution of former dictator Saddam Hussein. ... Revising its earlier estimates, the Health Ministry said that between 100,000 and 150,000 people have been killed since the invasion which toppled Saddam. It earlier said 150,000 people had died, as reported in the media quoting Health Minister Ali al-Shamari on Thursday during a visit to Vienna. 'The minister was misquoted. He said between 100,000-150,000 people were killed in three-and-a-half years,' an official with the ministry said after having initially confirmed the higher figure. He said the victims were killed 'during military confrontations, assassinations and sectarian assassinations,' adding that another 70 to 80 people were dying in violence each day. The ministry had started keeping records only since early 2004, the official noted, effectively meaning that those killed during the actual invasion and in the ensuing months were not included in this figure. [...]"
[n.b. The Iraqi Health Ministry is the Baghdad Health Ministry, at best. While these numbers are an order of magnitude higher than those previously floated, they can in no way compare with those produced by the systematic scientific study of all regions of Iraq conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, and published in The Lancet. As cited in previous Media Files, these supply a figure of over 600,000 killed, and this must be viewed as the baseline unless and until even more rigorous investigative procedures become possible.]

"A Sorrowful, Shunned Casualty of the War"
By Solomon Moore and Zainab Hussein
The Los Angeles Times, 10 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] Trammeled in sorrowful black shrouds, often bereft of financial support and social standing, widows are among the most vulnerable members of Iraq's fraying society. Alternately pitied and shunned, widows receive only a small stipend from the government -- often as little as $25 a month. The government has failed to protect inheritance rights, leaving the women vulnerable to traditions heavily biased toward male heirs. Their fatherless children are called orphans, stigmatizing them in a society in which intact families are paramount. Government figures are sketchy. No one knows how many widows are wandering Iraq's violent landscape, but everybody here seems to know several. Anecdotal evidence -- and the deaths of at least 40,000 Iraqis since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion -- suggests they are increasing. They are mostly a hidden consequence of the war, locked away from sight by grief or by protective, and occasionally predatory, relatives. Sometimes the ghostly, veiled figures can be seen lining up at government welfare offices or standing in traffic to beg. Shorn of inherited wealth and barred from the few available jobs by chauvinism or their lack of skills or education, many widows are dependent upon overstressed extended families struggling to find their own foothold in Iraq's bomb-blasted economy. [...]"
[n.b. A standard and distressing consequence of gendercide against males worldwide.]


"Man Cleared of Blast That Led to Chechan [sic] War"
Associated Press dispatch on, 12 November 2006
"A jury in southern Russia acquitted a man being retried for an apartment building blast in 1999 that killed 64 people and led to Moscow's renewed military campaign in Chechnya, a court spokesman said Saturday. Magomed Salikhov was found innocent of bombing charges Friday in Dagestan’s highest court, spokesman German Kostrov said. He had been accused of masterminding the Sept. 4, 1999 explosion that destroyed a building housing Russian military officers and their families in the Caspian Sea town of Buinaksk. It was one of four bombings of apartment buildings that month, which killed about 300 people in total. ... The Kremlin blamed Chechnya-based militants for the attacks and sent troops back into the restive region later that month, starting the second of two wars there in a decade. ... Russian authorities say the war in Chechnya is over, but rebels continue to carry out small attacks in the region and have been involved in numerous terrorist attacks in recent years in other parts of the volatile North Caucasus and in Moscow."


"No Reason to Regard 1932-1933 Famine in Ukraine Ethnic Genocide"
Itar-Tass, 13 November 2006
"However tragic the 1932-1933 events in Ukraine were, there are no reasons to regard them as genocide under ethnic principle, says the commentary of the Russian Foreign Ministry on Monday in connection with the discussion in the press of the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine. It is quite often stated that famine in that period 'was deliberately provoked by the leadership of the USSR and aimed precisely against the Ukrainian people,' the ministry noted. 'The existing archive materials indicate that the massive famine of the early 30s indeed largely stemmed from the policy of the Soviet Union's leadership,' the foreign ministry said. 'It is quite clear, however, that the policy was not based on nationalities principle.' 'We all should take a more balanced attitude to such complicated and sensitive matters of our common history, and not to allow for their politicisation,' the ministry said. The ministry recalled that 'at the 58th session of the UN General Assembly in 2003 most countries, members of the CIS, including Ukraine and Russia, as well as many other states, adopted a joint statement expressing deep grief over the deaths of millions of Ukrainians, Russians, Kazakhs and people of other ethnic origin claimed by famine in those years. However tragic those events were, there are no reasons to define them as genocide for ethnic reasons,' the ministry stressed. 'This statement was circulated as an official document of the United Nations.' ... 'This is our common grief and common memory,' the ministry said. [...]"


"Rwanda: French Accused of Complicity in Genocide"
By Linda Melvern
The New Times, Kigali (on, 12 November 2006
"An unprecedented public inquiry into France's role in the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda held hearings in Kigali last week, where the French army was accused of complicity in the massacre of Tutsi and modreate Hutu. The seven-person examining commission is hearing testimony from 20 survivors, some claiming serious human rights abuses, including rape and murder, by the French military. The commission is also examining Operation Turquoise, the 1994 French military intervention that was ostensibly aimed at saving Rwandan lives. Human rights groups in France claim French soldiers tricked thousands of Tutsi survivors out of hiding and abandoned them to the Interahamwe militia. The three-month genocide claimed up to one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Close links existed between France and Rwanda, the tiny African country ruled by a Hutu dictatorship for 20 years. France was its biggest supplier of heavy military equipment and sent troops in 1990 to help repel a military offensive from Uganda by the largely Rwandan Patriotic Front, (RPF), against the corrupt president, Juvenal Habyarimana. During nearly three years of civil war, in some instances senior French officers took operational battlefield control. In 1993, an international peace agreement replaced the French with UN peacekeepers, to monitor creation of a power-sharing democracy. For years, the French government denied any part in the Genocide. [...]"

"Two Years Late and Mired in Controversy: The British Memorial to Rwanda's Past"
By Sandra Laville
The Guardian, 13 November 2006
"In the classrooms of the Murambi school are the horrifying reminders of one of the worst acts of genocide in modern times. It was here in 1994, on a hilltop in southern Rwanda, that 50,000 Tutsis took refuge for two weeks without food and water before being massacred by Hutu militias who used guns, grenades and machetes to carry out the slaughter. At the request of the survivors and the families of the dead, the bodies of thousands of the victims have been preserved in lime and placed where they were killed. One classroom is filled with hundreds of skulls and piles of bones, while another contains the children, some with their petrified arms raised up to fend off the blows that killed them. This sacred place for relatives and survivors' groups should, by now, also house a genocide memorial centre, created by a British charity and partly funded by the UK government as a monument of international significance. But the project, which was supposed to have opened two years ago, has remained closed amid criticism from Rwandans that it has completely failed to provide a culturally sensitive memorial to the slaughter of one million people. The British charity, the Aegis Trust, is now attempting to satisfy demands for substantial changes. The Nottingham-based holocaust education charity has been presented with a confidential report by a commission of leading Rwandans who are highly critical of the project. In the report, the commission said the aim of leaving a memorial of the genocide, and of showing how it unfolded, 'has not been achieved.' The report went on: 'There are writings that have nothing to do with reality, which do not reflect the truth about history, politics or Rwandese culture. There is no diversity in the messages which are broadcast and those which are given by audiovisual films. It is constantly monotonous.' The opening of the centre, which was partly funded by a donation of £150,000 from the British government, is not likely to take place now for several months. [...]"

"Nun is Jailed over Rwanda Genocide"
By David Blair
The Telegraph, 12 November 2006
"A nun was found guilty yesterday of murdering hospital patients during the Rwandan genocide; starving some to death, denying others life-saving drugs or handing them over to gangs armed with machetes. Sister Marie Theopista Mukarubibi was jailed for 30 years by a village court. She is the first nun to be convicted in Rwanda for participating in the genocide of 1994, when some 800,000 people were butchered. Sister Mukarubibi worked in the National University Hospital in the town of Butare when the majority Hutu tribe turned upon the Tutsis, slaughtering them and any Hutus who opposed the killing. The court found that Sister Mukarubibi, a Hutu, had played a 'strategic' role in the genocide. Using her position in the hospital, she selected Tutsi patients for murder. Children and pregnant women were said to have been among her victims. 'Mukarubibi disconnected Tutsi patients from life-saving serums and deliberately starved patients, including children and pregnant women,' said Jean Baptiste Ndahumba, the judge. He added that Sister Mukarubibi 'controlled the switch to life and death.' During her trial, witnesses testified that the nun cooperated with the 'Interahamwe,' a bloodstained militia whose machete-wielding members led the genocide. She was accused of handing over some of her patients to these murder gangs. Five years ago, a Belgian court convicted two nuns for participating in the genocide. [...]"


"UN Delays Final Report on Kosovo's Future"
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, 10 November 2006
"The international community today put off deciding to impose independence on Kosovo in an attempt to forestall extreme nationalists coming to power in Serbia. Serbia today announced early elections for January 21, with the extreme nationalist Radical party tipped to emerge as the strongest party. Simultaneously in Vienna, the UN envoy for Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, and diplomats from the US, Europe and Russia went back on earlier pledges to resolve Kosovo's status this year. They said they would wait until after the Serbian ballot before making public their recommendations. ... Mr. Ahtisaari has been conducting fruitless negotiations between the Serbs and the Albanians since February in a vain attempt to find a settlement. Since there is no prospect of agreement, he is to propose to the UN security council that the international community impose his recommendations. 'I have decided to present my proposal for the settlement of Kosovo's status to the parties without delay after parliamentary elections in Serbia,' Mr. Ahtisaari said in Vienna. The Serbian authorities have been trying to delay any decision on Kosovo and are waging a ferocious campaign warning of the dangers to international security and stability of an independent Kosovo. [...]"


"Dutch Peacekeepers to Return to Srebrenica"
By Katherine Boyle and Aleksandar Roknic
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 10 November 2006
"For over 11 years, the Dutch peacekeeping troops who failed to stop the massacre of more than 8,000 men and boys at Srebrenica have faced public reaction ranging from sympathy to scorn and outrage. Now, a small group of veterans is planning to return to an area many have not seen since the corpses of the Serb army's victims littered the execution sites surrounding the town. The trip, organised by the Dutch Veterans' Institute, the Memorial Centre Camp Westerbork in the Netherlands and the Potocari Memorial Centre in Bosnia, is to take place next autumn. But it is unclear whether the former soldiers will be welcomed by the area's residents. Many Bosnian Muslims still blame Dutchbat III for allowing Serbs to kill thousands of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica in 1995. The Dutch troops were in the Balkans as part of the UN Protection Force, UNPROFOR, to shield civilians during the bloody wars that pitted Bosnian Serbs against Bosnian Croats and Muslims. The peacekeeping force at Srebrenica, which was composed of nearly 400 men, was meant to protect the refugees and residents of that Bosnian town, designated a safe haven by the UN in 1993. However, they offered little or no resistance to the Serb attack. The resulting massacre was the largest case of genocide to have occurred in Europe since the Second World War. [...]"


"Move for Hybrid Force in Darfur"
BBC Online, 14 November 2006
"UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called a high-level international meeting later this week to discuss the peacekeeping crisis in Sudan's Darfur. Some 7,000 African Union troops have not halted the violence. Mr Annan wants a bigger UN role in a hybrid force. In Darfur at the weekend, some 30 people were killed, when pro-government militias raided a village near Chad. The UN has offered $77m to help the AU -- but needs Sudan's approval to change the structure of the force. Mr. Annan has asked the five permanent Security Council members, as well as the European Union and the Arab League, to attend Thursday's talks in Ethiopia. Sudan has resisted plans for the UN to take over peacekeeping and diplomatic efforts are now focusing on a force that includes UN and AU components which is hoped will meet the approval of all sides. UN spokesman Yves Soroboki told the BBC's Network Africa that the meeting was convened to 'hopefully bring about an agreement, first on a transition to a hybrid force which would be of course primarily made up and led by the African Union, but with a substantial contribution of UN military police advisors, and advisors in other areas as well.' [...]"

"U.S. Holocaust Museum to Project Wall-Sized Images of Genocide in Darfur onto Building Exterior in Week-Long Event"
Holocaust Memorial Museum press release (on, 13 November 2006
"The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will project wall-sized images of the escalating genocide in Darfur onto its façade during Thanksgiving week, marking the first time the national memorial's exterior will be used to highlight contemporary genocide. The program, 'Darfur: Who Will Survive Today?' is a unique and highly symbolic Museum project produced in association with Darfur/Darfur to draw attention to the continuing crisis in Darfur. The wall-sized photographs will be projected onto the museum from Monday, Nov. 20 through Sunday, Nov. 26, between 5:30 p.m. and midnight. Andrew Natsios, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, will officially open the week-long project at a Museum program on Nov. 20, at 6:30 p.m. Other speakers include Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin; Omer Ismail, a Darfurian refugee living in the U.S. since 1989 with family still in Darfur; and Clemantine Wamariya, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide, who was recently featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a winner of Oprah's nationwide high school essay contest on Elie Wiesel's memoir Night. 'We can't afford to be bystanders to genocide in Darfur,' said Fred S. Zeidman, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council Chairman. 'This Museum is a harsh reminder of the consequences of inaction during the Holocaust. During Thanksgiving week, a time of reflection and gratitude, we are lending the museum's moral stature to alert the public to the urgency of stopping the human catastrophe in Darfur.' [...]"

"Dozens Reported Killed in Attack on Darfur Village"
By Opheera McDoom
The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 13 November 2006
"Up to 30 villagers were killed and 40 wounded when armed men riding horses and camels attacked a village in the Darfur region of western Sudan, an African Union official said on Monday. The attackers are suspected to be Janjaweed, militiamen who have killed and plundered across the arid region, helping to drive about two million people into camps, said the official, contacted by Reuters in Sudan, who asked not to be named. ... The three-hour attack on Saturday was on Sirba, about 45km north of El Geneina, capital of West Darfur state and close to the Sudan-Chad border, the AU official said. 'The attackers were on camels and horses. Reports indicate up to 30 villagers killed and 40 injured and half of the village was razed,' the AU official said. Bahr Idriss Abu Garda, a leader of the rebel National Redemption Front, said by telephone that the Sudanese army took part with the Janjaweed in the attack on Sirba and a similar attack in the nearby Abu Surouj area. But an army spokesperson said government forces were not involved in any operations in the Sirba area and did not even have a large troop presence there. [...]"

"UN Human Rights Chief Warns of More Darfur Attacks"
The Independent, 11 November 2006
"Militia movements in Darfur raise the spectre that more atrocities against civilians, similar to an attack last month that killed 50 people, could be committed, the United Nations' top human rights official said yesterday. Louise Arbour, the UN high commissioner for human rights, urged Sudan's government to control militia in western Darfur that the global body has blamed for the attacks on 29 October which killed mostly young boys and elderly men and caused thousands to flee their homes. 'If the government of Sudan does not take control of the militias, disarm them and put an end to the proliferation of arms, the militias will continue to launch attacks on civilians,' Arbour said in a statement. The United Nations said in a report last week that there were 'troubling indications' that Sudan's military participated in the attacks. It said witnesses identified the 300 to 500 attackers as Arabs riding on horseback, wearing green camouflage military uniforms and armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. [...]"

"A Darfur Town Empties as the Janjaweed Return"
By Katharine Houreld
The Christian Science Monitor, 10 November 2006
"All but a few civilians have fled this town in Sudan's troubled Darfur region. Instead, Tine's marketplace is filled with feared janjaweed fighters sporting flip-flops, assault rifles, and a mishmash of uniforms and T-shirts. African Union (AU) commanders say more than 1,000 janjaweed militiamen arrived in town just over two weeks ago to back up 3,000 government troops. Under a peace agreement signed last May, Sudan's government was supposed to disarm the janjaweed and inform the AU commanders of any troop movements. They have done neither. In fact, the arrival of the fighters in this border town is fresh evidence that the government is remobilizing the janjaweed and other irregular Arab militias in large numbers. ... The government's apparent remobilization of the brutal janjaweed (mostly former herders) comes after Sudan's Army lost two recent battles, and morale among the troops fell precipitously. 'The government troops are very weak ... Soldiers have refused to fight us. They even brought soldiers from the north and they refused,' says Jar al-Neby, a spokesman for the National Redemption Front, the largest rebel alliance. 'So the government is mobilizing janjaweed, which is very bad for the civilians because they attack our people all the time.' The remobilization is confirmed by other reports from international aid groups and UN agencies. And, with greater mobility brought by the end of the rainy season, observers say the violence is set to worsen. [...]"


"A Priest's Crusade on Holocaust"
By Sarah Wildman
The Christian Science Monitor, 9 November 2006
"The confessions that Father Patrick Desbois receives don't come from his parishioners. They are not made behind closed doors. They don't even come from his countrymen. The words the French priest hears are the unburdening of villagers from Ukraine -- the last witnesses to the mass killing of Jews in a little-known part of the Holocaust more than 60 years ago. He recounts one story -- just one of a thousand he's heard -- of a Ukrainian woman who was ordered by Nazi soldiers to cook them dinner. As they ate, the 25 Germans went out in pairs to kill Jews. By the time the meal was over, they had shot 1,200. It was the first time the woman had ever told the story. 'These people want absolutely to speak before they die,' says Father Desbois of the bystanders. 'They want to say the truth.' Father Patrick Desbois has become one of the world's foremost chroniclers of what the French call the Shoah par Balles -- the Holocaust of bullets. Though neither Jewish nor Ukrainian, he spends half his year combing the poverty-stricken landscape of Ukraine to document the annihilation of tens of thousands of Jews at the hands of traveling bands of Nazis called the Einsatzgruppen. It is a self-appointed task that led the Israeli newspaper Haaretz to decree him 'Patrick the Saint.' Embarrassed, Desbois calls the characterization a midrash -- Hebrew for exaggeration. The priest, who has devoted his clerical life to fighting anti-Semitism, is uncovering, village by village, unmarked mass graves from the Holocaust era. Here the Jews were shot, one by one, mother in front of child, child in front of father. The 'Holocaust of bullets' was every bit as brutal as the extermination of Jews by gas chamber, starvation, and other means at Auschwitz and elsewhere in Europe. Yet the depth and details of the tragedy in Ukraine have only recently surfaced. [...]"
[n.b. A very powerful article.]


"Bush Quietly Resumes Training Latin American Militaries"
By Barbara Slavin
USA Today (on, 10 November 2006
"Concern about leftist victories in Latin America has prompted President Bush to quietly grant a waiver that allows the United States to resume training militaries from 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The administration hopes the training will forge links with countries in the region and blunt a leftward trend. Daniel Ortega, a nemesis of the United States in the region during the 1980s, was elected president in Nicaragua this week. Bolivians chose another leftist, Evo Morales, last year. A military training ban was originally designed to pressure countries into exempting U.S. soldiers from war crimes trials. The 2002 U.S. law bars countries from receiving military aid and training if they refuse to promise immunity from prosecution to U.S. servicemembers who might get hauled before the International Criminal Court. The law allows presidential waivers. The White House lifted the ban on 21 countries, about half in Latin America or the Caribbean, through a presidential memorandum Oct. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The training is conducted in the USA. A ban on giving countries weapons remains. Commercial arms sales are not affected, said Jose Ruiz, a U.S. Southern Command spokesman. The training ban had resulted in a loss of U.S. influence in the region. The issue gained urgency after a string of leftist candidates came to power in Latin America. Rice said this year on a trip to the region that the impact of the ban had been 'the same as shooting ourselves in the foot.' [...]"
[n.b. For anyone who was alive and aware during the 1970s and 1980s, the headline of this article should send chills down the spine.]


"In Vietnam, Old Foes Take Aim at War's Toxic Legacy"
By Anthony Faiola
The Washington Post, 13 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"[...] For decades, the United States and Vietnam have wrangled over the question of responsibility for the U.S. military's deployment of Agent Orange. But officials say they are now moving to jointly address at least one important aspect of the spraying's aftermath -- environmental damage at Vietnamese 'hot spots' such as ... Da Nang -- that are still contaminated with dioxin 31 years after the fall of Saigon. ... Vietnamese and U.S. officials last year conducted their first joint scientific research project related to Agent Orange. Testing of the soil near Da Nang's airport, where farmers say they have been unable to grow rice or fruit trees for decades, showed dioxin levels there as much as 100 times above acceptable international standards. Now the United States is planning to co-fund a project to remove massive amounts of the chemical from the soil. A senior U.S. official involved in Vietnam policy said the plan is evidence that the two countries, having embarked on a new era of economic cooperation, are finally collaborating to address the problem. 'The need to deal with environmental cleanup is increasingly clear, and we're moving forward from talking to taking concrete actions to respond to the issue,' the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the project has not yet been publicly announced. The more politically sensitive issues of responsibility and direct compensation for victims remain unresolved. Although medical authorities here estimate that there are more than 4 million suspected dioxin victims in Vietnam, the United States maintains that there are no conclusive scientific links between Agent Orange and the severe health problems and birth defects that the Vietnamese attribute to dioxin. [...]"


"Climate Change 'Genocide' Threatens Kenyan Herders: Aid Groups"
By Gerry Smith
AFP dispatch on Yahoo! News, 12 November 2006
"Just a short plane ride from a key UN climate change conference in the Kenyan capital, entire communities are threatened by the global warming equivalent of genocide, aid groups say. As delegates from around the world meet this week to debate adaptation schemes and possible solutions to the Earth's rising temperatures, the nomadic pastoralists of Kenya's semi-arid north are suffering, they say. People of the region, the epicenter of a cycle of killer drought and floods that have hit east Africa in recent years, are on the front line of a war not of their making, struggling for survival against climate change, they say. 'Governments meeting at the UN climate change conference only have to look to a few hundred miles north to see how climate change is having an immediate and devastating effect on people's lives,' said British-based charity Oxfam. For centuries, tribes like the Turkana, hardy livestock-dependent herders who inhabit the region's stark moonscape, have lived and adapted to natural disasters, persisting and often thriving despite the vagaries of Mother Nature. But now, facing increasingly erratic weather patterns, their traditional culture may be on the verge of extinction due to the failure of far-away developed nations to curb greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming. 'Under threat is the way of life of pastoral communities,' said Antonio Hill, a senior policy adviser with Oxfam, which along with other groups is sounding the alarm during the conference that ends this week. ... 'Knowing what we know, if we don't respond, we're committing a very serious crime,' said Andrew Pendleton, senior climate change analyst for Christian Aid. 'It would be the climate change version of Rwanda.' [...]"


"A Shift in the Debate On International Court"
By Nora Boustany
The Washington Post, 7 November 2006
"When then-Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton nullified the U.S. signature on the International Criminal Court treaty one month into President Bush's first term, he declared it the happiest moment in his years of service. Bolton referred to the court as a 'product of fuzzy-minded romanticism ... not just naive, but dangerous.' The bipartisan concern then was that American service members deployed overseas risked exposure to a foreign tribunal. President Bill Clinton signed the Rome Treaty on his last day in office in 2000, while registering strong reservations. Now, as the court prepares to begin public hearings on its first case, the debate among senior U.S. military officials seems to be shifting away from staunch opposition, and a fresh assessment of the court seems to be underway. The new attitude has been prompted in part by the court's record since it began operations three years ago; Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo, an Argentine, has dismissed hundreds of petitions for cases against the United States. The cases were turned down for lack of evidence, lack of jurisdiction, or because of the United States' ability to conduct its own investigations and trials. Out of some 1,500 petitions to the chief prosecutor, almost half accused the United States of war crimes. [...]"
[n.b. While it is of course gratifying to see signs of a change in the US attitude toward the ICC, it would be a shame if this came about because the US has decided that it enjoys practical immunity from prosection of its nationals, as Moreno-Ocampo seems intent on providing.]


"Afghan Women Seek Death by Fire"
BBC Online, 15 November 2006
"Increasing numbers of Afghan women are committing suicide by setting fire to themselves to escape difficult lives, according to NGOs based in the country. They say women forced into marriage or suffering chronic abuse are killing themselves out of desperation. Although estimates are difficult to make, one group says cases of self-immolation in the capital have doubled since last year. Cases are said to be reported every day in the western city of Herat. In Kabul, some 36 cases of self-immolation have been recorded this year. Delegates from countries like Bangladesh, Iran, India and Sri Lanka -- which have similar female suicide rates -- discussed the problem at a conference in Afghanistan on Tuesday. Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission chief Sima Simar told the meeting: 'It [self-immolation] is the final decision for women who don't have any other way to solve their problems.' One Afghan survivor, a 16-year-old girl, told the summit she had endured beatings from her drug-addicted husband, a man 25 years her senior and whom she was forced to marry. 'When he did not have access to heroin and narcotics, he tortured me. After midnight he would hit me,' she said. 'That night he hit me and hit my head. Blood was coming from my nose. I asked him why he was doing it and he hit me even more.' Following the attack, she doused herself with benzene and lit a flame. Since then she has divorced her husband and undergone a series of operations. [...]"


"US: Immigrants May Be Held Indefinitely"
By Matt Apuzzo
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 14 November 2006
"Immigrants arrested in the United States may be held indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism and may not challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts, the Bush administration said Monday, opening a new legal front in the fight over the rights of detainees. In court documents filed with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., the Justice Department said a new anti-terrorism law being used to hold detainees in Guantanamo Bay also applies to foreigners captured and held in the United States. Ali Saleh Kahlah Al-Marri, a citizen of Qatar, was arrested in 2001 while studying in the United States. He has been labeled an 'enemy combatant,' a designation that, under a law signed last month, strips foreigners of the right to challenge their detention in federal courts. That law is being used to argue the Guantanamo Bay cases, but Al-Marri represents the first detainee inside the United States to come under the new law. Aliens normally have the right to contest their imprisonment, such as when they are arrested on immigration violations or for other crimes. 'It's pretty stunning that any alien living in the United States can be denied this right,' said Jonathan Hafetz, an attorney for Al-Marri. 'It means any non-citizen, and there are millions of them, can be whisked off at night and be put in detention [forever].' [...]"
[n.b. Well, here we go with "Night and Fog" for the 21st century, on US soil. Will the newly-elected Democrats challenge it? Or will they cave in to these neo-fascist "homeland security" measures?]

"Charges Sought Against Rumsfeld Over Prison Abuse"
By Adam Zagorin, 10 November 2006
"Just days after his resignation, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is about to face more repercussions for his involvement in the troubled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. New legal documents, to be filed next week with Germany's top prosecutor, will seek a criminal investigation and prosecution of Rumsfeld, along with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former CIA director George Tenet and other senior U.S. civilian and military officers, for their alleged roles in abuses committed at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. ... Germany was chosen for the court filing because German law provides 'universal jurisdiction' allowing for the prosecution of war crimes and related offenses that take place anywhere in the world. Indeed, a similar, but narrower, legal action was brought in Germany in 2004, which also sought the prosecution of Rumsfeld. ... The day before the conference, a German prosecutor announced he would not pursue the matter, saying there was no indication that U.S. authorities and courts would not deal with allegations in the complaint. In bringing the new case, however, the plaintiffs argue that circumstances have changed in two important ways. Rumsfeld's resignation, they say, means that the former Defense Secretary will lose the legal immunity usually accorded high government officials. Moreover, the plaintiffs argue that the German prosecutor's reasoning for rejecting the previous case -- that U.S. authorities were dealing with the issue -- has been proven wrong. 'The utter and complete failure of U.S. authorities to take any action to investigate high-level involvement in the torture program could not be clearer,' says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a U.S.-based non-profit helping to bring the legal action in Germany. He also notes that the Military Commissions Act, a law passed by Congress earlier this year, effectively blocks prosecution in the U.S. of those involved in detention and interrogation abuses of foreigners held abroad in American custody going to back to Sept. 11, 2001. As a result, Ratner contends, the legal arguments underlying the German prosecutor's previous inaction no longer hold up. [...]"
[n.b. Fascinating to see this case taken seriously by a mainstream US news magazine.]

"The War Crimes Case Against Rumsfeld"
By Marjorie Cohn, 10 November 2006
"[...] Prosecuting a war of aggression isn't Rumsfeld's only crime. He also participated in the highest levels of decision-making that allowed the extrajudicial execution of several people. Willful killing is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, which constitutes a war crime. In his book, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, Seymour Hersh described the 'unacknowledged' special-access program (SAP) established by a top-secret order Bush signed in late 2001 or early 2002. It authorized the Defense Department to set up a clandestine team of Special Forces operatives to defy international law and snatch, or assassinate, anyone considered a 'high-value' Al Qaeda operative, anywhere in the world. Rumsfeld expanded SAP into Iraq in August 2003. But Rumsfeld's crimes don't end there. He sanctioned the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, which are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, and thus constitute war crimes. Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques that included the use of dogs, removal of clothing, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, and deprivation of light and auditory stimuli. According to Seymour Hersh, Rumsfeld sanctioned the use of physical coercion and sexual humiliation to extract information from prisoners. Rumsfeld also authorized waterboarding, where the interrogator induces the sensation of imminent death by drowning. Waterboarding is widely considered a form of torture. [...]"