Tuesday, December 05, 2006

NOW AVAILABLE: Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, by Adam Jones (Routledge, 2006; 430 pp., US $33.95 pbk). See www.genocidetext.net. "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 25-December 5, 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 adamj_jones@hotmail.com.

Consider inviting colleagues and friends to subscribe to Genocide_Studies and the G_S Media File. All it takes is an email to genocide_studies-subscribe@topica.com.

NOTE: This will be the last Media File until the second week of January, as I will be travelling in Cuba and Mexico, with irregular access to the 'Net. See you in 2007!


"Armenia Genocide in Brave Detail"
By Carlin Romano
(Review of Taner Akcam, "A Shameful Act")
Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 December 2006
"[...] Some fine earlier books in English have delivered the grim tale. But no scholar has mined and synthesized the Ottoman Empire's internal documents and memoirs with Akcam's assiduous skill. Like Raul Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews, A Shameful Act is destined to become a touchstone for other studies. Akcam, 56, a Turkish sociologist and historian, obtained political asylum in Germany after receiving a 10-year prison sentence at home for working on a student journal. He now teaches at the University of Minnesota. Hardly anti-Turkish, he dedicates his book to Haji Halil, a righteous Turk who, at the risk of being hanged, protected eight members of an Armenian family in his home during the genocide. As you might expect from an author of such courage, Akcam pulls no punches. Ottoman Turkish leaders 'did deliberately attempt to destroy the Armenian population.' Turkey continues to deny the genocide because many of the leaders involved in it 'later became central figures in the Turkish government' and 'admitted openly that the republic could only have been established by eliminating the Armenians and removing their demand for self-determination in Anatolia.' The most striking achievement of A Shameful Act is its depth of detail. Akcam documents every twist of the story -- from the political and racist origins of Turkish nationalism to the insistence of Muslims that they had to rule over inferior 'infidel' Christians -- with multiple sources and shocking quotations. [...]"

"Refusal to Acknowledge Armenian Genocide"
By Matthew McAllester
Newsday.com, 29 November 2006
"[...] For the Turkish state, and many Turks, to admit their forebears committed genocide is something they will not even consider, and it makes many Turks extremely angry even to suggest the genocide happened. Authors and journalists, including Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, have been prosecuted for suggesting it took place. But for the 65,000 ethnic Armenians -- mostly Orthodox Christians -- who live in this country of 70 million Muslims, to speak publicly of genocide would not be just brave, but potentially suicidal. ... The Turkish government's position on the events of 1915 is that the people who died in the region at the time died as a result of inter-ethnic fighting, disease and hardships caused by war. More than 20 countries have officially recognized the genocide, as have a majority of the 50 states in the United States, including New York. It is long-standing State Department policy not to refer to the events of 1915 as genocide; many critics of this policy see it as a politically expedient way of avoiding alienating a crucial American ally. Most Western historians agree the genocide happened. Last year, the International Association of Genocide Scholars wrote to Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, about it, concluding: 'We believe that it is clearly in the interest of the Turkish people and their future as a proud and equal participant in international, democratic discourse to acknowledge the responsibility of a previous government for the genocide of the Armenian people, just as the German government and people have done in the case of the Holocaust.' Such an acknowledgement will not come easily or quickly -- if at all. [...]"

"'Screamers' and Genocide: A Talk With Serj Tankian From System of a Down"
By R.J. Eskow
HuffingtonPost.com, 29 November 2006
"'Screamers,' a documentary by Carla Garapedian, just won the Audience Award at the AFI Film Festival. It uses archival footage, interviews, and live music to deflect on the Armenian genocide, its aftermath, and the effect that later denials of the atrocity had on history. 'Screamers' examines efforts to have the Armenian genocide internationally recognized, and ties it to other genocides, past and present -- particularly Darfur. It's a powerful document, both politically and artistically. The film centers around the highly popular Armenian-American rock band System of a Down and its lead singer, Serj Tankian, as they tour Europe and discuss the issues of Armenia, genocide, and human rights. Last week I spoke with Serj about the film and his own political work. Serj cofounded Axis of Justice with Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave guitarist Tom Morello, to mobilize musicians and music fans around progressive issues. [...]"
[n.b. System of a Down rocks! For more on the "Screamers" movie, link here.]

"Ghosts of Massacred Armenians Could Haunt Turkey's Chances To Join European Union"
By Sherwood Ross
ZMag.org, 28 November 2006
"Turkey's bid to join the European Union could suffer by its refusal to admit the genocide of its Armenian Christian population nearly a century ago. When European Union leaders meet in Brussels Dec. 14-15, the debate to admit Turkey likely will hinge on, among other issues, its failure to open its ports and airports to Cyprus, which opposes all talk of membership. The Netherlands, Germany, Austria and France are cool to admitting Turkey and are backing Cyprus. Lingering in the background, though, will be the ghosts of the Armenian genocide, a crime Turkey has denied at every turn and is still 'investigating' to this day. ... As author Elizabeth Kolbert put it in the November 6th The New Yorker, 'For the Turks to acknowledge the genocide would thus mean admitting that their country was founded by war criminals and that its existence depended on their crimes. Turkey has long sought to join the European Union, and, while a history of genocide is clearly no barrier to membership, denying it may be; several European governments have indicated that they will oppose the country's bid unless it acknowledges the crimes committed against the Armenians.' ... As there are few nations that have not dabbled in a bit of genocide, one wonders why Turkey persists in its denials? After all, genocide is hardly a bar to UN admission or getting a loan from the World Bank. Turkey has every right to membership in the same sordid club as Spain, Great Britain, Belgium, Russia, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, China, and America. Why must it be so sensitive? Let them confess and sit down with the other members to enjoy a good cup of strong coffee. They'll be made to feel right at home, as long as they don't mention Tibet, Iraq, Cambodia, the Congo, Chechnya, Timor, Darfur, Rwanda ad nauseum [sic]. After all, there are ghosts everywhere. [...]"


"Colombian Establishment Rocked by Death Squad Scandal"
By Sibylla Brodzinsky
The Guardian, 29 November 2006
"Colombia's political establishment is being shaken to its core by almost daily revelations of how allies of President Alvaro Uribe apparently worked hand-in-hand with feared rightwing militias who used terror for more than a decade to impose their will on the population. The country's supreme court this week ordered six high profile, pro-Uribe politicians -- including the foreign minister's brother -- to submit to questioning about their alleged links with the paramilitary groups, which are blamed for the massacre, murder and torture of thousands of Colombians. Two senators, an acting representative and a former congresswoman from the northern province of Sucre have already been arrested on similar charges, and a former governor is at large. Senator Alvaro García, the lynchpin of Sucre politics, even faces murder charges for allegedly planning the 2000 massacre of 14 people in a small village and for ordering the murder of an election official. The expanding investigation will have unpredictable repercussions for the political and economic elite according to political analyst Vicente Torrijos with Bogotá's Rosario University. He predicts a 'domino effect' through Colombia's political establishment as politicians try to 'save themselves by implicating others.' ... As the political crisis snowballs it is also closing in on the country's top leadership. 'No one knows how high this goes,' said Adam Isacson, who monitors Colombia for the Washington-based think-tank Centre for International Policy. [...]"


"BBC Uncovers Fresh UN Child Abuse Claims"
By Mike Williams
BBC Online, 30 November 2006
"[...] There are about 9000 peacekeepers in the UN mission to Haiti, most of them soldiers who come from 19 different nations. Most of them have come to help. They work hard in dangerous conditions to bring security and aid to the desperate people. But there are some peacekeepers who are willing to use their advantages to exploit some of the most vulnerable people in this troubled society. I spoke to a 14-year-old girl who told of the peacekeeper who offered her jelly, sweets and a few dollars for sex with her and her friend -- a child of just 11 years. Half of the population of Haiti struggle to survive on just a dollar a day and the streets are filled with people selling whatever they can to raise a little cash. At nighttime, those who have nothing to sell, sell themselves. Among the UN soldiers and civilians, they can find willing buyers. One UN official told me that a great many of the girls who work the streets are children and, in the dark streets of the capital Port-au-Prince, we watched UN officials picking up young prostitutes and driving off with them. Sarah Martin, of Refugees International, has studied the problem in UN missions across the world. 'To pray upon the very populations that you are sent to protect is one of the worst forms of violation and betrayal that there is,' she says. Sarah (not her real name) is a fragile looking girl of 16. She says that two years ago, she was raped by a Brazilian soldier serving with the UN mission there. She stared at the ground while we talked and, almost in a whisper, she explained what happened: 'He held me down by the arms and held both my wrists, twisting them back and we struggled together. And then he raped me.' ... The family have been seeking justice from the United Nations but officials at MINUSTAH say that justice was done. Three internal inquiries found there was insufficient evidence against the man and he was sent back to his unit in Brazil. [...]"


"Chetnik Leader's War Crimes Trial Begins in The Hague"
By Adam LeBor
The Times, 27 November 2006
"He once boasted on television that his fighters would gouge out Croatian eyeballs with rusty shoehorns, but Vojislav Seselj, one of Serbia's most notorious paramilitary leaders, finally faces justice when his trial begins today at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague. Mr. Seselj, 52, is accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity against non-Serbs during the Croatian and Bosnian wars of 1991-95. His Chetnik militia, named after the royalist Serbian guerrillas in the Second World War, was notorious for brutality, giving no quarter to civilians. Many in it were criminals released from prison by Slobodan Milosevic, the Serbian President, and were often drunk on the battlefield. Mr. Seselj's men have laid down their arms but their ideology lives on in his extreme-nationalist Serbian Radical Party, which holds 82 seats in the 250-seat Serbian parliament and is polling some 30 per cent support with elections due in January. Anton Nikiforov, spokesman for the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY), said: 'This is one of the most significant trials from the prosecution's perspective. It deals with an important leader of a Serbian political party, who is known for his extremist views. Seselj led a paramilitary unit which committed crimes in both Bosnia and Croatia.' ... The trial could reveal important details about the role of the Milosevic regime and the Serbian state in the bloody ethnic cleansing in Croatia and Bosnia. Mr. Seselj told the author Tim Judah: 'Milosevic organised everything. We gathered the volunteers and he gave us a special barracks, Bubanj Potok, all our uniforms, arms, military technology and buses. His key people were the commanders. Nothing could happen on the Serbian side without Milosevic's orders or knowledge.' [...]"


"Iraq Violence 'Much Worse' Than Civil War, Says Annan"
By Devika Bhat
The Times, 4 December 2006
"The current situation in Iraq has become 'much worse' than civil war, with life for ordinary Iraqis worse than under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, Kofi Annan has said. In a damning assessment of present circumstances, the outgoing UN Secretary General said he had no doubt about the gravity of Iraq's position, 'given the level of the violence, the level of killing and the way the forces are ranged against each other.' 'A few years ago, when we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war. This is much worse,' he told the BBC. ... Asked in the BBC interview about claims that the country's citizens had been better off under the regime of the ousted dictator, Mr. Annan said he understood the analogy. 'If I was an average Iraqi, I would make the same comparison,' he said. 'They had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets: they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back without a mother or father worrying "Am I going to see my child again?" And the Iraqi government has not been able to bring the violence under control. A society needs minimum security and a secure environment for it to get on. Without security, not much can be done.' [...]"

"Death Squads Roam Baghdad's Hospitals"
By Hala Jaber
The Sunday Times, 3 December 2006
"[...] A growing number of doctors, patients and government officials ... are suggesting that Baghdad's hospitals -- supposed havens from the fighting -- are being drawn towards the frontline in the spreading sectarian conflict. There is said to be mounting evidence that Shi'ite death squads are being encouraged to roam hospitals in search of fresh Sunni victims, allegedly at the behest of officials in the Shi'ite-dominated health ministry. During the summer Jawad first became worried by the mysterious deaths of several patients who had been transferred from American field hospitals. As others went missing, often in strange circumstances, he learnt that the Mahdi Army of the radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had infiltrated the Medical City's porters and cleaners. 'I'm an Iraqi doctor, working in one of the biggest hospitals in Iraq and I want you to read this carefully because the suffering and the lives of many poor people have become the cheapest things that you can buy in my country,' Jawad's e-mail began. The patients who were disappearing and dying were often civilians injured by crossfire in shoot-outs, he noted. [...]"

"Graphic Evidence at Saddam Trial"
BBC Online, 30 November 2006
"The court trying Saddam Hussein has heard graphic accounts of how hundreds of Kurdish women and children were killed and buried in mass graves. US forensics expert Michael Trimble said three graves containing corpses of victims killed in the so-called Anfal campaign in 1988 had been uncovered. Mr. Trimble said the victims had been killed in a 'highly organised programme of execution.' Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death earlier this month after another trial. The former Iraqi leader and his six co-defendants have pleaded innocent to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the Anfal campaign in which at least 100,000 people were killed. Saddam Hussein and his cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, also face charges of genocide. Mr. Trimble, who heads the Mass Graves Investigation Team, said of the 301 bodies found, 183 belonged to children. He said 90% of the children were under 13 years old 'The captives were often bound and blindfolded. The captives were led into the grave and then executed with pistols or automatic assault rifle fire. The graves were then covered by those directing the execution.' [...]"

"Is Iraq Headed for Genocide?"
By Massimo Calabresi
Time.com, 29 November 2006
"President George W. Bush has continued to reject assertions that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war. But in the wake of his meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, to discuss the country's continuing sectarian violence, some human rights experts are worrying about a different, worse fate for Iraq: genocide. Juan Mendez, Kofi Annan's special advisor on the prevention of genocide, told TIME that the targeting of minorities based solely on religion in Iraq, the extent of the violence there, the lack of central control, and the fact that Iraq has already experienced genocide, 'constitute warning signs that we take very seriously.' He stressed that those warning signs can be present in conflicts and never rise to the level of genocide, but that his office is watching the situation closely. ... Gregory Stanton, a professor of human rights at Virginia's University of Mary Washington, sees in Iraq the same troubling signs of preparation and execution of genocidal aims that he saw in the 1990s in Rwanda when he worked at the State Department. Sunni and Shiite militias are 'trying to polarize the country, they're systematically trying to assassinate moderates, and they're trying to divide the population into homogenous religious sectors,' Stanton says. All of those undertakings, he says, are 'characteristics of genocide,' and his organization, Genocide Watch, is preparing to declare the country in a 'genocide emergency.' Though the term conjures up thoughts of enormous numbers of civilian dead, the quantity of victims is not the warning sign experts look for when considering the danger of genocide. Samantha Power, a professor at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, says with Shi'ite and Sunni sub-groups already identifying and killing victims solely on the basis of their religious identity, 'genocidal intent' is already present in Iraq. 'When you drive up to a checkpoint and you're stopped and somebody pulls out your ID and determines whether you're a Sunni or a Shiite and takes you away and kills you because of that, there is a genocidal mentality afoot.' The question, Power says, is how broadly that mentality will spread. [...]"

"Slaughter in Iraq Soon Seems to Be Part of Normal Life"
By Patrick Cockburn
Counterpunch.org, 28 November 2006
"Iraq is rending itself apart. The signs of collapse are everywhere. In Baghdad, the police often pick up more than 100 tortured and mutilated bodies in a single day. Government ministries make war on each other. A new and ominous stage in the disintegration of the Iraqi state came earlier this month when police commandos from the Shia-controlled Interior Ministry kidnapped 150 people from the Sunni-run Higher Education Ministry in the heart of Baghdad. Iraq may be getting close to what Americans call 'the Saigon moment,' the time when it becomes evident to all that the government is expiring. 'They say that the killings and kidnappings are being carried out by men in police uniforms and with police vehicles,' the Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said to me with a despairing laugh this summer. 'But everybody in Baghdad knows that the killers and kidnappers are real policemen.' It is getting worse. The Iraqi army and police are not loyal to the state. If the US army decides to confront the Shia militias it could well find Shia military units from the Iraqi army cutting the main American supply route between Kuwait and Baghdad. One convoy was recently stopped at a supposedly fake police checkpoint near the Kuwait border and four American security men and an Austrian taken away. The US and British position in Iraq is far more of a house built on sand than is realised in Washington or London, despite the disasters of the past three-and-a-half years. George Bush and Tony Blair show a unique inability to learn from their mistakes, largely because they do not want to admit having committed any errors in the first place. Civil war is raging across central Iraq, home to a third of the country's 27 million people. As Shia and Sunni flee each other's neighbourhoods, Iraq is turning into a country of refugees. [...]"
[n.b. Though inevitably controversial in its basic thesis, this is a serious article, well worth reading and packed with on-the-ground observations.]


"Offering Video, Israel Answers Critics on War"
By Greg Myre
The New York Times, 5 December 2006 [Registration Required]
"Israel's military, which has been accused of abuses in its war against Hezbollah this summer, has declassified photographs, video images and prisoner interrogations to buttress its accusation that Hezbollah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and took cover in those areas to shield itself from attack. Lebanon and international human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes in the 34 days of fighting in July and August, saying that Israel fired into populated areas and that civilians accounted for a vast majority of the more than 1,000 Lebanese killed. Israel says that it tried to avoid civilians, but that Hezbollah fired from civilian areas, itself a war crime, which made those areas legitimate targets. In a new report, an Israeli research group says Hezbollah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles and launched rockets near United Nations monitoring posts. The detailed report on the war was produced by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, a private research group headed by Reuven Erlich, a retired colonel in military intelligence, who worked closely with the Israeli military. An advance copy was given to The New York Times by the American Jewish Congress, which has itself fought against the use of 'human shields,' provided consultation and translated the study. In Lebanon, a Hezbollah official denied the study's allegations, saying its military units were based outside towns and villages and had come into populated areas only when circumstances required it. ... Israel's critics charge that its military either singled out civilians or was reckless in its pursuit of Hezbollah. The new report is an attempt to rebut such criticism. [...]"

"Israel Should Compensate Damage in Lebanon -- U.N. Team"
By Stephanie Nebehay
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News India, 1 December 2006
"A United Nations human rights inquiry said on Friday that Israel should be made to pay compensation for damage caused by its month-long war in Lebanon, especially losses incurred by civilians. It suggested setting up an international compensation programme similar to the one which has paid out billions of dollars to cover losses due to Iraq's 1990-91 invasion and occupation of Kuwait. But the three-member commission of inquiry -- which also rejected Israeli and U.S. charges that its recent report accusing Israel of 'flagrant violations' in the war was one-sided -- left any decision to the U.N. Human Rights Council. 'It should consider creation of a commission competent to examine individual claims for reparations and compensation ...,' commission member Joao Clemente Baena Soares told a briefing. The inquiry team was expanding on its Nov. 21 report which said Israel was guilty of 'excessive, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force' in the July/August war, which it said caused 1,191 deaths in Lebanon and damaged 30,000 homes. Israel invaded southern Lebanon after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12. The report said Israel had also suffered serious casualties from Hezbollah attacks, including 43 civilians killed and 6,000 homes damaged. Commission member Stelios Perrakis said Lebanon's fishing and farm industries had been damaged by Israeli attacks, and oil spills from refineries had reached Cyprus, Turkey and Greece. The inquiry had established that Israel bore international responsibility for the violations and damage, he said. 'If the Council, the international community, wishes to set up a mechanism, I remind you that the Security Council established a commission on Iraqi reparations for Kuwait. Why not also a commission for Lebanon?,' Perrakis told reporters. [...]"


"Carter: Israeli 'Domination' over Palestinians is 'Atrocious'"
By Ron Brynaert
RawStory.com, 27 November 2006
"Former Democratic President Jimmy Carter called Israeli 'domination' over Palestinians 'atrocious' during an interview Monday on ABC's Good Morning America, RAW STORY has learned. ... Carter said that there was 'no doubt now that a minority of Israelis are perpetuating apartheid on the people in Palestine, the Palestinian people.' Many Democrats are uncomfortable with Carter's use of the term 'apartheid' to describe Israeli policies. Even Congressman John Conyers, the incoming House Judiciary Committee chairman known for his more liberal ideology, has criticized the term's usage. ... 'Conyers stated recently that the use of the term "apartheid" in the book's title "does not serve the cause of peace, and the use of it against the Jewish people in particular, who have been victims of the worst kind of discrimination, discrimination resulting in death, is offensive and wrong,"' wrote Michael F. Brown for The Nation. However, Brown, a fellow at the Palestine Center, noted that 'Nobel Peace Prize recipient Bishop Desmond Tutu has made the same connection as Carter.' 'I've been very deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa,' Tutu wrote over four years ago. On Good Morning America, Carter called Israel's occupation the 'prime cause' of continuing violence in the Middle East. 'And contrary to the United Nations resolutions, contrary to the official policy of the United States government, contrary to the Quartet so-called road map, all of those things -- and contrary to the majority of Israeli people's opinion -- this occupation and confiscation and colonization of land in the West Bank is the prime cause of a continuation of violence in the Middle East,' said Carter. 'And what is being done to the Palestinians under Israeli domination is really atrocious,' Carter continued. 'It's a terrible affliction on these people.' In his book, Carter argues that 'peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens and honor its own previous commitments by accepting its legal borders.' [...]"
[n.b. Would that this sort of language were coming from a sitting US president, with power over the pursestrings of aid to Israel, instead of from a former one. But kudos to Carter anyway, for telling it like it is. Michael Brown's article for The Nation, referenced here, is also excellent.]

"Genocide or Erasure of Palestinians: Does It Matter What You Call It?"
By Kathleen and Bill Christison
Counterpunch.org, 27 November 2006
"During an appearance in late October on Ireland's Pat Kenny radio show, a popular national program broadcast daily on Ireland's RTE Radio, we were asked as the opening question if Israel could be compared to Nazi Germany. Not across the board, we said, but there are certainly some aspects of Israel's policy toward the Palestinians that bear a clear resemblance to the Nazis' oppression. ... In retrospect, we regret not having used even stronger language. Having at that point just completed our fifth trip to Palestine since early 2003, we should have had the courage and the insight to call what we have observed Israel doing to the Palestinians by its rightful name: genocide. We have long played with words about this, labeling Israel's policy 'ethnocide,' meaning the attempt to destroy the Palestinians as a people with a specific ethnic identity. Others who dance around the subject use terms like 'politicide' or, a new invention, 'sociocide,' but neither of these terms implies the large-scale destruction of people and identity that is truly the Israeli objective. 'Genocide' -- defined by the UN Convention as the intention 'to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group' -- most aptly describes Israel's efforts, akin to the Nazis', to erase an entire people. ... You can argue over terminology, but the truth is evident everywhere on the ground where Israel has extended its writ: Palestinians are unworthy, inferior to Jews, and in the name of the Jewish people, Israel has given itself the right to erase the Palestinian presence in Palestine -- in other words, to commit genocide by destroying 'in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.' [...]"


"Mexican Court Orders Ex-President Tried in '68 Student Massacre"
By James C. McKinley Jr.
The New York Times, 30 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"An appeals court on Wednesday cleared the way for the arrest and trial of former President Luis Echeverría on genocide charges in connection with the massacre of student protesters in 1968. The court reversed earlier rulings that the statute of limitations had long since run out, saying it had two days to go. The ruling is the final twist in a long battle by the administration of President Vicente Fox to charge and try Mr. Echeverría, who is 84 and in poor health, for his role in the deaths and disappearances of hundreds of students, leftist dissidents and guerrillas in the late 1960s and early 1970s, a period known in Mexico as 'the dirty war.' ... Mr. Echeverría was the interior minister in October 1968 when dozens of student protesters were killed by the military at a pro-democracy rally in the Tlaletlolco housing development. Then he served as president from 1970 through 1976, at the height of Mexico's crackdown on leftists, in which more than 500 dissidents disappeared. ... From the start, Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, the special prosecutor appointed to look into the dirty war, has pursued genocide charges under Mexican law in an effort to hold military and government officials responsible for the student massacre in 1968 and another in 1971. Some critics have said that to try to apply the genocide law to students as a group is a far-fetched legal approach that is bound to fail. That criticism seemed to have been borne out last year when a lower court judge threw out the genocide charges against Mr. Echeverría, ruling that Mexico's 30-year statute of limitations for mass murder had run out and that students could not be defined as a unified group under the genocide law. Now, three appeals later, a tribunal has said the statute of limitations does not end until Friday, giving Mr. Carrillo Prieto's office a last chance to put Mr. Echeverría on trial. ... Most earlier lower court rulings concluded that the statute of limitations on the genocide charge had run out, since Mr. Echeverría stepped down as interior minister in November 1969. But prosecutors argued that he enjoyed immunity from prosecution until he left the presidency on Dec. 1, 1976 -- exactly three decades ago on Friday -- and so the legal clock should not have started until then. [...]"


"Doubts over French Genocide Claim"
BBC Online, 4 December 2006
"A witness says his testimony was distorted by a French inquiry which accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame of killing his predecessor. Former Rwandan soldier Emmanuel Ruzigana denies admitting to being part of a group that assassinated the president, reports a French newspaper. Earlier, Mr. Kagame accused France of 'bullying' his country after a judge issued arrest warrants for his aides. Rwanda has cut off diplomatic relations with France over the accusations. The 1994 shooting down of the plane carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana sparked the genocide, in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates were massacred. According to French investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, Mr. Ruzigana testified that he was a member of a secret group known as the 'Commando Network' which was involved in the plot allegedly hatched by President Kagame to shoot down the plane. But the French newspaper now says it has seen a letter written by Mr Ruzigana to the judge, after he had given his evidence, which says he knew nothing about the 'Commando Network.' The newspaper quotes French legal sources as suggesting that Mr. Ruzigana had received 'threats' to withdraw his testimony. [...]"

"Spate of Killings Obstructs Rwanda's Quest for Justice"
By Karen McVeigh
The Observer, 3 December 2006
"It began with the offer of bribes. But Jan Mukabulele continued to do what she believed was her duty: give evidence against those she had seen armed with knives, machetes and clubs killing innocent people during Rwanda's genocide. Her defiance brought a savage beating to underline the threat that she would be killed if she did not keep silent. If she had any doubts that the threats were serious, they disappeared a few weeks ago. The night after she testified in a local court, she awoke to find her house engulfed in flames. ... She is not alone. Almost 13 years after the slaughter that left up to a million people dead, violence is again bubbling beneath the surface in Rwanda as it attempts to bring to justice those who were involved in genocide. Figures compiled by aid agencies reveal that in the past month alone, there have been four reprisal killings of witnesses like Mukabulele. Last week a local court, or gacaca, judge in Rwamagana was hacked to death on her way to work, her body dumped near her home. Her eyes had been gouged out. Two weeks ago, in Ngoma, Martin Havugivaremye was ambushed by his killers, who hacked him to death with machetes. He called out for help, but no one in his village came to his rescue as he was hated for giving the names of killers to the gacaca. He had reported intimidation in the days leading up to his murder. Since July there have been at least 16 killings and 24 attempted killings of witnesses. [...]"

"Rwanda: Church Role in Genocide Under Scrutiny"
By Stephanie Nieuwoudt
Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 1 December 2006
"More than 50 churches in Rwanda have been turned into museums, but instead of viewing artefacts celebrating life, visitors come here to stare at bones. They are the remains of human beings killed during the 1994 genocide in this beautiful country of endless green hills. There are the bones of adults and, heartbreakingly, also of babies and toddlers who were hacked to death. Visitors come not to see how life was lived but to remember how people were killed. These bone museums are a silent indictment against many clergymen who were involved in the genocide, in which some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were put to death in just one hundred days -- a faster killing rate than that achieved by the Nazis in Germany. Some of the clergy who have been accused of aiding the killers have been indicted by the Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, ICTR, some by the traditional village courts called 'gacaca,' and others in national courts in Belgium. Gacaca is an age-old Rwandan system of justice conducted by communities in open-air assemblies, and more recently they have been employed to speed up the process of bringing to justice those responsible for the genocide. The word translates loosely as 'justice in the grass.' The latest conviction of a person in religious orders involved a Catholic nun, Sister Theopister Mukakibibi, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a gacaca court on November 10. Mukakibibi was accused of denying food, medication and care to patients at the University Central Hospital in the Butare district of southern Rwanda, and also of driving Tutsi patients out of the hospital in the knowledge that the killers were waiting. She denied all charges and told a reporter of The New Times, a Rwandan newspaper, that her conscience did not condemn her. 'So there is no need to seek forgiveness,' she said. [...]"

"Rwandan Genocide Survivor Recalls Horror"
CBS 60 Minutes (on CBSNews.com), 30 November 2006
"The genocide in Rwanda 12 years ago was the most efficient ever carried out. As correspondent Bob Simon reports, 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days. That's a better rate than the Nazis ever achieved and it practically wiped out Rwanda's minority tribe. Those who managed to survive the mass murder did so with a combination of courage, cunning, and dumb luck. One incredible and inspiring survivor's tale has come to light only recently. It took Immaculee Ilibagiza, a college-educated young woman from a remote village, many years before she could confront the horrors she lived through. She is speaking out now, she says, to prevent further atrocities, not only in Rwanda, but in Darfur and other places where massacres loom on the horizon. In Rwanda, a green and hilly and tranquil looking land, Immaculee saw something in the distance 12 years ago and realized life would never be the same. I remember looking up to the hill across the river. And I saw somebody actually with a machete cutting somebody. And we were all like, "Wow! Something's happening here. They're going to kill us,"' she remembers. 'A person like when they're cutting, cutting. And somebody was screaming.' People were screaming all over the country. The genocide had begun. It was extremely low tech -- no gas chambers here -- just machetes, spears and knives, wielded by Hutus, the majority tribe as they tried to wipe out the minority Tutsis. There were no organized roundups as there had been in Nazi Germany; Tutsis were slaughtered in their tracks, wherever they were found. The killing fields were everywhere. And when it was over, three out of every four Tutsis in Rwanda had been killed. [...]"
[n.b. This was a powerful report on 60 Minutes, although Bob Simon was wrong to state that the genocide was accomplished by "just machetes, spears and knives" -- guns, grenades, and mortars were also highly significant. And it is a bit odd to see the rate of killing in Rwanda described as "better" than that of Nazi Germany's against the Jews.]

"Rwandans Unite in Anger at France"
By Arthur Asiimwe
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 28 November 2006
"Protesting at what they insist is France's role in their nation's genocide, Rwandans from all walks of life have united in fury at calls last week by a French judge for their President Paul Kagame to be arrested. Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets in anger at the allegation Kagame and nine of his aides were behind the downing of a plane carrying his predecessor in 1994 -- the event that unleashed the slaughter of about 800,000 people. 'It is actually proving to be a uniting factor for Rwanda,' Emmanuel Kamasa, a lecturer at the School of Finance and Banking in the capital, Kigali, told Reuters. 'Look at the people protesting: it is a combination of both Hutus and Tutsis, and not just the genocide survivors.' Many Rwandans say the West turned a blind eye to the killings, which targeted minority ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. And worse -- Rwanda has accused France of training soldiers it knew were plotting to commit massacres. France has denied any wrongdoing. After French anti-terrorism Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere called for Kagame to stand trial, Kigali severed diplomatic ties with Paris, closed a French school and entertainment centre and stopped FM broadcasts by Radio France International. 'It is not a secret that had the French not been here, a genocide probably would not have occurred,' said Antoinette Murerwa, a half-Hutu survivor whose Tutsi mother was killed. 'Now how does the world just keep silent as the French try to destroy again what we have built?' she asked, demonstrating near the French embassy and waving a placard: 'We are tired of bullies. France keep off the affairs of Rwanda.' [...]"

"Rwanda Breaks Ties with France"
By Gabriel Gabiro
Sapa-AFP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 25 November 2006
"Rwanda on Friday severed all ties with France as a row over a French judge's implication of the Rwandan president and top aides in the assassination of the country's former leader boiled over. In an emergency meeting just hours after Kigali announced the recall of its ambassador to Paris, President Paul Kagame's Cabinet ordered the closure of the French embassy and the expulsion of its envoy in Kigali. 'The Cabinet has requested the French ambassador to leave the country within 24 hours,' Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said. 'We are also asking for the closure of all French institutions in the country, including the French embassy and the French Cultural Centre.' Information Minister Laurent Nkusi said the order affects all French state institutions, including the French international school in Kigali, the Ecole Internationale Francaise Saint-Exupéry, which was given 72 hours to close. 'We have decided to close all contact with France at this point,' he said. The decision was confirmed in Paris by the French Foreign Ministry, which had expressed hope earlier that Kigali's recall of its envoy to France did not mean 'dialogue' between the two countries had been cut. ... The move caps months of rising tension between the once-close allies over alleged French complicity in Rwanda's 1994 genocide and charges by France's top anti-terrorism judge that Kagame was behind the incident that touched it off. But Nkusi said the Cabinet had considered what he said was a long history of French animosity toward Rwanda, as well as the allegations made by French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, when it made the decision to break off relations. [...]"


"Serbia Prosecutor Probes Mass Grave"
Associated Press dispatch on Boston.com, 4 December 2006
"Serbia's war crimes prosecutor said Monday his office is investigating a mass grave containing up to 750 bodies as part of an inquiry into killings of civilians in eastern Bosnia at the start of the 1992-95 war. Vladimir Vukcevic did not reveal details or the location of the mass grave, but said it was connected to the investigation against a group of Serb paramilitaries accused of executing hundreds of Muslim civilians near the town of Zvornik, on the boundary between Bosnia and Serbia. Vukcevic's office has charged seven people over the Zvornik killings, but has said that the investigation is ongoing and that more people could be put on trial. The killings are considered to be among the most brutal of the Bosnian war. According to the indictment against the Serb paramilitaries, the Muslim civilians were rounded up and executed in an 'extremely brutal way,' and their bodies were later dumped in mass graves in the area. Vukcevic said the mass grave discovered during the investigation contained between 670 and 750 bodies. He said the only larger mass grave was the one containing the remains of the Srebrenica victims -- about 8,000 Muslims killed by the Bosnian Serb troops after they overran the town in July 1995. Serbia backed the Bosnian Serb troops during the war, and sent volunteers to fight there, who were often considered the most brutal in the conflict. Prosecution of Serb paramilitaries and other war crimes suspects became possible here after the ouster in 2000 of the former nationalist leader, Slobodan Milosevic, by a pro-Western coalition. [...]"

"Serbs March in Support of Seselj"
BBC Online, 2 December 2006
"Thousands of people have marched in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, in support of nationalist leader Vojislav Seselj, currently on trial in The Hague. His trial for war crimes during the break-up of Yugoslavia has been suspended since Friday because of his poor health due to a hunger strike. Mr. Seselj, 52, has been on hunger strike since 10 November. He is accused of plotting the ethnic cleansing of former Yugoslavia in the 1990s wars. He denies any wrongdoing. Thousands of supporters of Mr Seselj gathered near the United States embassy in Belgrade, waving Serbian flags. Speakers condemned The Hague tribunal and the role of the United States. Supporters of Mr Seselj's Radical Party say the tribunal is biased against Serbia and takes its orders from the US. His strong brand of Serbian nationalism still has appeal among many Serbs, says the BBC's correspondent in Belgrade, Nick Hawton. 'The Serbian Radicals' leader is not fighting in The Hague just for his rights,' said Radical Party secretary Aleksander Vucic. 'He's not fighting just for his life. But he's fighting for all of us who are gathered here. Vojislav Seselj is fighting for Serbia!' Mr. Seselj went on hunger strike three weeks ago criticising The Hague for not permitting him to conduct his defence the way he wanted. He boycotted the start of war crimes trial on Monday and lost the right to conduct his own defence. [...]"


"Violence and Persecution Follow Europe's Downtrodden Minority across the Continent"
By Ian Traynor
The Guardian, 28 November 2006
"[...] If the expulsion of the Strojans, living in Ambrus for decades and owners of the place they were living in for 12 years, was a trauma for the family, it was also an increasingly routine example of the epidemic of forced evictions of Roma settlements across the European Union, particularly in central and eastern Europe where the Roma are concentrated. Last week in the Czech town of Vsetin police descended on a crumbling block of flats, put more than 100 Roma on lorries and dumped them in Portacabins up to 50 miles away. The mayor, Jiri Cunek, then sent in the bulldozers. 'Cleaning an ulcer,' he announced to local applause. Last month in the eastern Romanian town of Tulcea, police evicted 110 Roma from where they had lived for seven years, their previous accommodation having burned down. The European Roma Rights Centre in Budapest, Hungary, says the forced evictions are not restricted to eastern Europe. It is also dealing with incidents in Britain, France, Spain and Italy. The scandal in Ambrus occurred not in the poorest parts of Europe where such persecution is more common, but in Slovenia, the wealthiest, westernmost, and most successful of the eight new central European members. In January, Slovenia will adopt the euro. 'The case of the Strojans in Slovenia is part of a pan-European pattern at the moment,' said Claude Cahn, the centre's programmes director. 'It's really a crisis this year. This raw destruction of neighbourhoods is quite new.' [...]"

"In Slovenia, Villagers Block Gypsies' Return to Their Homes"
By Nicholas Wood
The New York Times, 27 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"A group of Gypsies who had been forced to flee their homes in central Slovenia a month ago by local villagers tried to return late Saturday afternoon but were forced to turn back. The group, an extended family of 31 people, tried to return to Ambrus, a village 30 miles southeast of Ljubljana, after four weeks in a refugee center. But about 1,000 villagers and other residents of the area assembled, blocked roads leading to the village and then battled riot police officers. Officials then persuaded the family, the Strojans, to turn back. The standoff prolonged a crisis that has dominated politics here for a month and has prompted criticism of Slovenia from the Council of Europe, the Continent's human rights monitor, and from independent rights groups. Despite assertions by the Council of Europe and Slovenia's human rights ombudsman that the family is entitled to return to their homes, the government has been unwilling to force the issue. The family, who are Slovene citizens, agreed to leave Ambrus on Oct. 28, after a mob surrounded their homes. Local residents had demanded their removal after a fight between a man from Ambrus and a Slovene who was living with the Strojans, after which the villager fell unconscious. He remains in a coma, and the man with whom he fought is in detention. The government said it was justified in moving the family to the refugee center, saying that it had acted to protect the Strojans. But human rights groups contend that ministers sanctioned the mob's ouster of members of a minority group from their homes. The government had promised to resettle the group, but a plan to move them to a suburb of Ljubljana, the capital, foundered when residents there protested. [...]"


"Sri Lanka: The Failure of the Peace Process"
International Crisis Group press release, 28 November 2006
"Although resumed fighting has led to frustration, Sri Lanka needs international engagement more than ever, focusing first on immediate humanitarian concerns and halting serious human rights abuses, but including a longer-term effort to renew a peace process. 'Sri Lanka: The Failure of the Peace Process,' Crisis Group's first report on Sri Lanka, describes the conflict's background, its successive stages and the state of play, identifying major problems that have plagued the peace process. It will be followed by a series of more specifically focused reports, containing policy recommendations. The initial peace deal was rushed through, with the government keen to concentrate on rebuilding the economy,' says David Lewis, Crisis Group's Regional Deputy Director. 'Although it stopped full-scale military clashes, and probably saved thousands of lives, significant problems in the design of the process ultimately contributed to the failure to reach a political settlement.' The ceasefire agreed in 2002 by the government and the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has collapsed. Since January, more than 2,500 have been killed in the fighting, many of them civilians. The LTTE has resumed suicide bombing and continues to recruit child soldiers and kill political opponents. Its failure to commit to democratic values and human rights undermines the peace process. The government's response has focused on military action, not a political solution, and has resulted in the killing of many civilians. Security forces have been accused of serious human rights abuses. An all-party conference designed to produce a consensus around a political settlement has yet to make proposals. The fighting has resulted in a very serious humanitarian situation in the north east. At least 200,000 people have fled their homes during the year. Many areas are cut off from regular supplies of food and medicine. [...]"
[Press release received by email. Link to the complete text of the report in PDF format.]


"Darfur's Violence Spreads across Borders"
By Michelle Faul
Sapa-AP dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 2 December 2006
"The chief's story is dark and familiar. Attackers on horseback shattering his dawn ritual of tea brewing -- shouting racial venom, killing men, raping women. The survivors fleeing to a makeshift camp, sheltering from the desert sun under lengths of cloth strung from thorn trees. Chief Umar Kabayi is not one of Darfur's tens of thousands of victims. He and his fellow villagers are Chadian, and theirs is a story of western Sudan's violence and passionate hatreds spreading across borders. 'This is an old, old story,' Kabayi said. 'We've had disputes going back 30 years, but the chiefs would settle them. We've always lived side by side, we share the same market.' Modern politics and weapons, though, have transformed age-old disputes over land and water in this bleak corner of Africa into something potentially explosive. Conflict is spreading south as surely as the march of the Sahara and is becoming increasingly violent. Chad is being buffeted by violence on multiple fronts. The government is trying to quash rebels bent on toppling President Idriss Deby. Ethnic Arab Chadians are fighting ethnic African Chadians like Kabayi, mirroring the clashes in Darfur. Sudan's Arab Janjaweed militias have been chasing refugees from Darfur pouring into Chad -- and there are reports they have attacking ethnic African Chadians as well. There are 218,000 refugees from Sudan's Darfur region, which neighbours eastern Chad, and about 90 000 internally displaced Chadians in camps close to the border. Jan Egeland, head of the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, summed up the complexities: 'Fighters attack Chad from Darfur. Others attack Darfur and Sudan from Chad. And they all seek refuge in the Central African Republic. It's a really dangerous regional crisis.' [...]"

"U.N. Official Calls Violence in Darfur 'Horrific'"
By Nora Boustany
The Washington Post, 30 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"Atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan are occurring daily at a 'horrific' level, the top U.N. human rights official said yesterday, adding that countries in the region were 'in denial' about the situation. The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Louise Arbour, told a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva that the Sudanese government and an allied militia called the Janjaweed were 'responsible for the most serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.' 'The atrocities must stop,' she said. Arbour's rebuke came a day after the 47-member Human Rights Council rejected a resolution from European countries and Canada calling on Sudan to prosecute those responsible for the violence. The council instead adopted a resolution urging all parties involved in the conflict to 'put an immediate end to the ongoing violations' with a special focus on 'vulnerable groups.' The conflict began in early 2003 when rebels rose up against the government, which responded by arming and supporting the Janjaweed, human rights groups say. As many as 450,000 people have died from disease and violence, and 2.5 million have been displaced. In a separate briefing, the U.N. undersecretary for humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, said it was 'very strange' that the council 'was quiet on Darfur for such a long time.' 'They obviously do not meet the raped women and the abused civilians. They do not see the true picture,' Egeland said. Meanwhile, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Manuel Aranda da Silva, said in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, that the forced departure of a Norwegian relief organization from Darfur this month had left 300,000 people without support. [...]"

"Sudan Puts Nail in Coffin of Joint UN Force in Darfur"
By Opheera McDoom
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 28 November 2006
"Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has put a nail in the coffin of a proposed United Nations role in the peace mission in Darfur, possibly sending UN planners back to the drawing board. At a news conference on Monday evening, Bashir repeated his hard-line position in opposition to a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force to deploy in the troubled region of western Sudan. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, two weeks ago that Sudan had agreed to a joint UN-AU force. White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley said on Monday that an agreement on the joint force was being worked out. But Bashir told the news conference: 'Any talk that we accepted joint forces is a lie.' He reiterated his rejection of a UN Security Council resolution authorising about 22 500 UN troops and police to take over from the ill-equipped AU force that has failed to stem the violence in Darfur. 'It is clear that any forces coming to Sudan under resolution 1706 are colonising forces,' he said. Bashir challenged any group to show proof of the numbers killed in Darfur. Experts and top UN officials estimate about 200 000 have been killed in three-and-a-half years of conflict. 'Counting all those killed in battles between the armed forces, the rebels and the tribes, the number does not reach 9,000,' he said. In September he said the number killed was 10,000. [...]"

"World Court Official Reports Evidence on Darfur Criminals"
By Nora Boustany
The Washington Post, 25 November 2006 [Registration Required]
"The International Criminal Court has found sufficient evidence to identify the perpetrators of some of the worst atrocities in Sudan's Darfur region, and the probe offers 'reasonable grounds to believe' that crimes against humanity were committed, chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo told the annual meeting of the court's member states in The Hague. 'We selected incidents during the period in which the gravest crimes occurred,' he said Thursday in a report on his activities over the past year. 'Based on the evidence collected, we identified those most responsible for the crimes.' Moreno-Ocampo did not name the targets of the investigation, which he said is nearly complete. In a telephone interview before he addressed representatives of the 103 nations that have ratified the 1998 agreement creating the court, he said the atrocities included 'rape, torture, willful murder, sexual and inhuman violent acts, extra-judicial killings and the forcible transfer and persecution of civilians.' Moreno-Ocampo's investigators have collected thousands of documents and conducted 70 visits in 17 countries, including Sudan, since June 2005. His teams have interviewed judges, prosecutors and Sudanese investigators, as well as a top Sudanese military official and a senior political official. Sudanese officials shared the outcome of a government inquiry, and the Sudanese army provided its analysis of what had happened, he said. [...]"


"Legacy of Famine Divides Ukraine"
By Helen Fawkes
BBC Online, 24 November 2006
"[...] The famine had a devastating impact on villages across Ukraine. It is thought that around a quarter of the population was wiped out. At the KGB archive in Kiev, recently released files are piled up on an old-fashioned desk. These are said to demonstrate how the famine was artificially engineered. One document is an order from Moscow to shoot people who steal food. It is signed by Stalin in red ink. Now Ukraine's president wants what happened to be recognised as an act of genocide. Russia admits this was an awful tragedy but is angry at claims that it was an attempt to destroy the Ukrainian nation. It says that other parts of the former USSR were affected. This issue has also divided Ukraine's parliament. Last week MPs refused to vote on a law proposed by the president. He wanted parliament to declare that the famine was an act of genocide. The ruling coalition which includes the Communist Party is pro-Russian. It is led by the president's rival, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych -- the man who was defeated by mass protests in the 2004 'Orange Revolution.' 'This is like dancing on the graves of the dead. Before it's been proved this was an act of genocide, the Orange authorities are doing their best to persuade everyone that it was," says Sergei Gmyrya, a historian for the Communist party. 'I am furious that this is being used by the politicians in their games,' he says. For Ukraine's pro-Western President Viktor Yushchenko this is personal. 'In my family we remember my grandfather Ivan, a strong and hard-working man who died. In my local village alone 600 people died,' he says. 'It is important to realise that politics were behind the genocide. It's terrifying to know that the only aim of that experiment was to exterminate Ukrainian people.' [...]"


"The N-Word"
By Diane McWhorter
Slate.com, 28 November 2006
"[...] The taboo [against comparing US government policies to those of the Nazis] is itself a precept of the propaganda state. Usually its enforcers profess a politically correct motive: the exceptionalism of genocidal Jewish victimhood. Thus, poor Sen. Richard Durbin, the Democrat from Illinois, found himself apologizing to the Anti-Defamation League after Republicans jumped all over him for invoking Nazi Germany to describe the conditions at Guantanamo. And so by allowing the issue to be defined by the unique suffering of the Jews, we ignore the Holocaust's more universal hallmark: the banal ordinariness of the citizens who perpetrated it. The relevance of Third Reich Germany to today's America is not that Bush equals Hitler or that the United States government is a death machine. It's that it provides a rather spectacular example of the insidious process by which decent people come to regard the unthinkable as not only thinkable but doable, justifiable. Of the way freethinkers and speakers become compliant and self-censoring. Of the mechanism by which moral or humanistic categories are converted into bureaucratic ones. And finally, of the willingness with which we hand control over to the state and convince ourselves that we are the masters of our destiny. ... The most literal shock of recognition [for me] was the repulsively callous arrogance of the term 'shock and awe.' (The Iraqi people were supposed to pause and be impressed by our bombs before being incinerated/liberated by them?) Airstrikes as propaganda had been the invention of the German Luftwaffe, whose signature work, the terror-bombing Blitz of England, did not awe the British people into submission, either. Then there were subtler reverberations. When Bush's brain trust pushed through its executive-enhancing stratagems, I happened to be reading about brilliant German legal theoretician Carl Schmitt, who codified Hitler's führerprincip into law. ... When the administration established a class of nonpersons known as the 'unlawful enemy combatant,' I flashed on how the Nazis legalized their treatment of the Jews simply by rendering them stateless. [...]"


"Israeli Researcher Turns Up Internal Criticism of Vatican Policy during Holocaust"
By Matti Friedman
Associated Press dispatch in the Independent Record (Helena, Mont.), 4 December 2006
"An Israeli scholar has discovered evidence that a Vatican emissary and future Pope tried to challenge the Catholic Church's perceived indifference to the Nazi mass murder of Europe's Jews during World War II. Searching the little-known papers of an Israeli emissary who worked to save Jews during the war, Dina Porat, a professor of Jewish history from Tel Aviv University, found evidence that that Giuseppe Roncalli -- who later became Pope John XXIII -- criticized the policies of Pope Pius XII, lobbied to save Jews and passed on information about the death camps at Auschwitz months earlier than the Vatican acknowledged receiving it. Pius XII, who was Pope during the war, has come under criticism for decades for his silence and that of his church in the face of the Holocaust, when six million Jews were killed by the Nazis in an official effort to wipe out the Jews of Europe. Porat, a prominent Holocaust scholar, researched the diaries and correspondences of Haim Barlas, an emissary dispatched by the Jewish Agency in the 1940s to save Jews in Europe. His papers are held in a private archive in Israel, the owners of which have refused to be publicly identified but who granted access to Porat. she said. Barlas's papers have significant historical value, Porat said, but have been unknown so far because the documents are not in an official archive and are mostly in Hebrew. [...]"


"Blair 'Regret' over Slavery Not Enough, Say Campaigners"
By Greg Hurst
The Times, 27 November 2006
"Tony Blair has issued a statement of regret at Britain's role in the slave trade today, expressing deep sorrow for a 'profoundly shameful' episode in history. But, campaigners said his statement does not go far enough and have called for a full disclosure of facts and compensation for the families of African people who were sold for slavery. Mr. Blair's comments stop short of a formal apology but are intended to end a long controversy among some black activists before the 200th anniversary next year of Britain's ban on slave trading. Writing in New Nation, a black community newspaper that has pressed for several years for an apology for slavery, Mr Blair will emphasise that his view is a personal one, although similar remarks will be made in a written statement to Parliament. He will say: 'It is hard to believe that what would now be a crime against humanity was legal at the time. Personally I believe the bicentenary offers us a chance not just to say how profoundly shameful the slave trade was, how we condemn its existence utterly and praise those who fought for its abolition, but also to express our deep sorrow that it ever happened, that it ever could have happened and to rejoice at the different and better times we live in today.' Speaking on the BBC's Today programme Esther Stanford of the campaign group Rendezvous of Victory said: 'This statement does not go far enough. To repair the harm we are talking about educational reparations, financial reparations, family and cultural reparations. If we don't deal with this now it's tantamount to saying that you can commit crimes against humanity.' [...]"


"Boeing: Accused of Running Torture Travel Agency"
By Rick Anderson
The Seattle Weekly (on Truthout.org), 2 December 2006
"A British author and an ex-prisoner's attorney say that records uncovered by Spanish investigators show Boeing has a direct role in 'extreme renditions' -- planning and organizing the flights through a unit of its Seattle commercial airplane division. Since 2003, human-rights investigators and news media reports have described a Boeing Business Jet as one of the most-dreaded planes in the Central Intelligence Agency's clandestine air force. The modified 737 -- a model rolled out in Renton in 2001 -- was built for executive fun and comfort. But it is alleged to be the flagship of the CIA's 'extreme rendition' squadron, ferrying suspected terrorists to secret agency prisons or countries where the U.S. is said to outsource torture. The use of this jet, with a 6,000-mile flying range and plush customized cabin, has until now been Boeing's only connection to the prison airlifts. But a British author and an ex-prisoner's attorney say that records uncovered by Spanish investigators show Boeing has a more direct role -- planning and organizing the flights through a unit of its Seattle commercial airplane division. Boeing won't confirm or deny the claim. But the Spanish documents, and an investigation by Amnesty International and the Council of Europe, indicate Boeing was making arrangements for as many as 1,000 rendition flights through 14 countries by four CIA planes, including that notorious Boeing Business Jet. 'Travel agent for the CIA seems the right words,' Stephen Grey says of Boeing's role. ... According to Grey and others, a wholly owned Boeing subsidiary called Jeppesen Inc. cleared the airways and runways for the CIA, providing landing and navigation assistance, scheduling flight crews, and booking hotels for them. Jeppesen is a unit of Boeing's Seattle-based Commercial Aviation Division. The cargo of prisoners includes many who say they were tortured and others who claim to have been mistakenly abducted and abused. [...]"

"Law Lord Attacks 'Totalitarian' Bush Regime"
By Joshua Rozenberg
The Telegraph (UK), 30 November 2006
"A former law lord last night accused the Government of prosecuting a 'lawless and outrageous' war in Iraq and condemned the Bush administration for behaving like a 'totalitarian police state.' Calling for troops to be pulled out of Iraq, Lord Steyn, in a lecture to the Bar Council's law reform committee, said it was 'a black day for the rule of law' when Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, advised Tony Blair in 2003 that an invasion would be lawful. Lord Steyn, 74, said last night that Mr. Blair was an 'ever compliant ally' of the Bush administration, a view he has aired several times in the past. 'Our prime minister backed the Bush administration in regard to its so-called war on terrorism, however lawless and outrageous the means adopted,' he said. The war 'was an invasion by the US and Britain, without Security Council approval, of a sovereign country in a region of high social, religious and political tensions. It always was a reckless adventure against which the Foreign Office warned.'"
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Europeans Aided CIA Kidnaps, Report Finds"
By Brian Knowlton and Richard Schmitt
The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 November 2006
"A report by the European Parliament has bluntly rejected assertions by several European countries that they were unaware of a CIA program to secretly abduct, transport and imprison terrorism suspects. Many governments had co-operated passively or actively with the CIA, said Giovanni Claudio Fava, who led a special inquiry: 'They knew.' The report, issued in Brussels on Tuesday, said 11 European countries including Britain, Italy and Germany had known of the agency's activities. The United States President, George Bush, confirmed on September 6 that the CIA had been operating a secret detention program, and said 14 prisoners held abroad were being sent to the US jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Fava's draft report said that at least 1245 CIA-operated flights flew through Europe's air space or stopped at its airports, and listed Poland as among the countries least co-operative with its inquiry. Zbigniew Gniatkowski, a spokesman for the Polish mission to the European Union, said on Tuesday that Poland stood by its previous denials of involvement. [...]"