Wednesday, August 15, 2007

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
July 26 - August 13, 2007

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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Greetings to all: I hope you have had, or are having, a good holiday. The following is the first "Media File" for the new semester. I have had most productive travels over the last couple of months: see my Romania photo galleries, and six galleries from Bosnia and Herzegovina (the city of Mostar, and the commemoration ceremony for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre). I'm settling into my new home in Kelowna, BC, site of the first satellite campus of the University of British Columbia. After two years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Genocide Studies Program at Yale, I'm now a tenured Associate Professor in the Political Science department at UBC Okanagan. - AJ


"Argentina's 'Dirty War' Crimes Trial"
By Marie Trigona, 26 July 2007
"Former Chaplain Christian Von Wernich wore a priest's collar and bulletproof vest as he sat behind reinforced glass in a federal court. The court clerk read charges accusing him of collaborating with state security agents and covering up crimes in seven deaths, 31 cases of torture, and 42 cases of illegal imprisonment. He answered basic court questions but refused to testify in the case, stating, 'Following the advice of Dr. Jerollini who is my lawyer. I am not going to make a declaration. And I am not going to accept questions.' An estimated 30,000 people were killed during the military junta's reign of terror. As his trial began, hundreds of human rights activists stood outside the courtroom in the city of La Plata to decry Von Wernich as a murderer. President Nestor Kirchner traveled to La Plata and said during a speech that Von Wernich 'brought dishonor to the Church, to poor people, and to human rights.' At least 120 witnesses are slated to testify against Von Wernich and the court has taken precautions to protect their safety, putting up police fences around the courthouse and installing metal detectors. In the front row of the courtroom's audience, representatives from the human rights organization Mothers of Plaza de Mayo sat with their white headscarves listening to the court's accusations. According to Nora Cortinas, president of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo's founding chapter, the Catholic Church supported the crimes committed during the dictatorship. [...]"


"Awaiting Justice in Cambodia"
By Paul Watson
The Los Angeles Times, 12 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] More than three decades after the communist Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, declared it Year Zero and launched into one of the 20th century's worst genocides, a special court is inching toward its first prosecutions. Pol Pot, Brother No. 1, died nine years ago, before he could be brought to trial. It may not be long before Brother No. 2 slips away himself. At 82, Nuon Chea's heart is growing weaker. Poor circulation has left his lower legs swollen, and his blood pressure is running high. 'I have a disease,' the man suspected of ordering the execution of thousands of Cambodians said wryly. 'It's called old age. Some days are good, some days are bad. But generally, my health goes up and down like any old person.' The clock is also ticking for the Khmer Rouge's surviving victims, such as artist Vann Nath, one of only seven prisoners known to have made it out alive from the notorious Tuol Sleng death camp. He was saved from execution there so he could paint portraits to feed Pol Pot's ego. Now the 61-year-old artist who survived on a watery prison gruel is wasting away from kidney disease. Vann Nath waits for justice in a cramped home above his family's restaurant, a popular breakfast spot for military officers on their way to work in the capital, Phnom Penh. Twice a week, he is attached to a dialysis machine. He relies on charity from Australia to pay medical bills of about $1,000 a month. His greatest hope is that he and his country's tormentors can stay alive long enough to face each other in court. 'I don't want a few people at the top to die yet,' he said, his voice weary. 'I don't want revenge. What I need from them is that they take responsibility for their mistakes.' [...]"

"Khmer Rouge Figure Is First Charged in Atrocities"

By Seth Mydans
The New York Times, 1 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"A tribunal in Cambodia charged the commandant of the main Khmer Rouge torture house with crimes against humanity on Tuesday, bringing the first charge in a long-delayed trial in the deaths of 1.7 million people in the late 1970s. The commandant, Kaing Guek Eav, 64, known as Duch, was the leader of the Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh where at least 14,000 men, women and children were tortured and sent to killing fields. Only a handful survived. Two weeks ago, prosecutors announced that they had submitted to the tribunal a list of five potential defendants for consideration by co-investigating judges, who are authorized to decide on filing formal charges. The other four names have not been disclosed. In the charges on Tuesday, the judges said Duch had been placed in 'provisional detention,' but did not explain. A small holding center was recently built on the grounds of the tribunal in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Duch has been the only major Khmer Rouge figure in custody, in a military jail in Phnom Penh on separate charges, since 1999 when a British photographer discovered him in rural Cambodia. He was working for a government agency and had become a born-again Christian. Because of his conversion, 'He spoke candidly about his role as Pol Pot's chief executioner,' said the photographer, Nic Dunlop, referring to the Khmer Rouge leader. 'If he remains true to his words and talks as openly as he did then, he can potentially throw huge light on areas of darkness that have eluded scholars for decades,' said Mr. Dunlop, who wrote about Duch in 'The Lost Executioner.' Duch could offer damaging testimony against other potential defendants, who have denied or minimized their roles in the Khmer Rouge rule. [...]"


"China Reportedly Jails Scores of Tibet Buddhists"
Associated Press dispatch on, 3 August 2007
"Scores of people were arrested in a traditionally Tibetan area of western China following public calls for the return of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, reports said Friday. Also Friday, China moved to tighten its control over Tibetan Buddhism by asserting the communist government's sole right to recognize Buddhist reincarnations of the lamas that form the backbone of the religion's clergy. All future incarnations of living Buddhas related to Tibetan Buddhism 'must get government approval,' the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the State Administration for Religious Affairs. Reincarnate lamas, known as tulkus, often lead religious communities and oversee the training of monks, giving them enormous influence over religious life in Tibet. Police and army reinforcements were sent to the town of Lithang in western Sichuan province following the incident Wednesday at an annual horse festival that attracts thousands, according to the overseas monitoring group International Campaign for Tibet and the U.S. government-supported Radio Free Asia. The reports said a local man, Runggye Adak, was detained after he climbed onto a stage erected for Chinese officials, grabbed a microphone and asked the crowd if they wanted the Dalai Lama to return. Hundreds responded with a roaring yes, the reports said. A crowd later gathered a detention center to appeal for Runggye Adak's release, but officers fired warning shots to disperse the group, it said. RFA said about 200 Tibetans were detained following the protest, but gave no indication of whether they were still in custody. A woman who answered the telephone at Lithang’s police station confirmed the protest had occurred, but hung up when asked for details. [...]"


"Civil War by Other Means"
By Jacob Wheeler
In These Times, 6 August 2007
"Guatemalans will go to the voting booths on Sept. 9 for their third national election since the country's bloody civil war ended in 1996. But 11 years later, the miseries of the 36-year conflicto armado, and its most notorious characters, are still visible across the landscape. On one side is the Mayan indigenous-rights activist Rigoberta Menchú Tum, who etched her name in Guatemalan history after winning the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her work exposing the atrocities of the civil war. She is known internationally for her memoir, 'I, Rigoberta Menchú,' which brought to light the murder of her family, and the suffering of her people, at the hands of the U.S.-trained and -funded military counterinsurgency. Menchú is running for president, and though she is a long shot to reach the likely run-off on Nov. 4, the fact that she has entered the political mainstream after hiding out in Mexico and France during the '80s speaks volumes to how far the country has come since the military put a price on her head. On the other side is El General, Efraín Ríos Montt, the former dictator and evangelical preacher who, as general, and briefly, president, presided over the bloody massacres that raged between the coup d'etats of March 1982 and August 1983. Montt is running for Congress this fall, and is almost guaranteed a seat since he heads the list of candidates for the right-wing Guatemalan Republican Front, one of the country's two largest parties. If Montt wins, the 81-year-old will secure immunity -- at least for the four-year length of his term -- from a lawsuit charging him with genocide brought by Menchú and other activists. Those charges were initiated in the Spanish National Court in 1999, and in July 2006, Spain issued international arrest warrants for Montt and seven other former military and civilian officials for their role in setting fire to the Spanish embassy in 1980, which killed the peasant activists hiding inside, as well as crimes committed during the 'scorched earth' campaign of the early '80s that wiped out about 440 indigenous villages. ... The ultimate irony would be if Menchú somehow won the election, and her nemesis Montt seized the top spot in Congress. According to tradition, the man accused of genocide would swear in the victim, and place the banda presidencial, a cloth with the blue and white colors of the Guatemalan flag, on her shoulders."


"Iraqi Sunni Claims 'Genocide Campaign'"
By Steven R. Hurst
Associated Press dispatch on Yahoo! News, 12 August 2007
"Iraq's most senior Sunni politician issued a desperate appeal Sunday for Arab nations to help stop what he called an 'unprecedented genocide campaign' by Shiite militias armed, trained and controlled by Iran. The U.S. military reported five American soldiers were killed, apparently lured into an al-Qaida trap. Adnan al-Dulaimi said 'Persians' and 'Safawis,' Sunni terms for Iranian Shiites, were on the brink of total control in Baghdad and soon would threaten Sunni Arab regimes which predominate in the Mideast. 'It is a war that has started in Baghdad and they will not stop there but will expand it to all Arab lands,' al-Dulaimi wrote in an impassioned broadside e-mailed to The Associated Press. Sunni Arab regimes throughout the Middle East fear the growing influence of Iran's Shiite theocracy with radical groups like Hezbollah and Hamas as well as the Syrian regime. Raising the specter of Iranian power reaching the Arab doorstep, unlikely in the near-term, betrayed al-Dulaimi's desperation. But his fears of a Shiite takeover of Baghdad were not as farfetched. Mahdi Army militiamen have cleansed entire neighborhoods of Sunni residents and seized Sunni mosques. Day by day, hundreds have been killed and thousands have fled their homes, seeking safety in the shrinking number of majority Sunni districts. The fighters, nominally loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, are believed to operate as death squads blamed for much of the country's sectarian slaughter. ... 'Arabs, your brothers in the land of the two rivers and in Baghdad in particular are exposed to an unprecedented genocide campaign by the militias and death squads that are directed, armed and supported by Iran,' al-Dulaimi said. [...]"


"Call by U.S. House for Sex Slavery Apology Angers Japan's Leader"

By Norimitsu Onishi
The New York Times, 1 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed some irritation on Tuesday at the resolution approved by the House of Representatives in Washington that calls on Japan to acknowledge its wartime sex slavery. His reaction indicated strongly that the Japanese government would not offer surviving victims an official apology. 'The resolution's approval was regrettable,' said Mr. Abe, who caused a furor in Asia and the United States in March by denying that the Japanese military had directly coerced women into sex slavery in World War II. News of the approval, which had been expected, came as Mr. Abe faced more calls to resign as prime minister after the crushing defeat of his governing Liberal Democratic Party in the election on Sunday for the upper house of Parliament. On Wednesday morning, Norihiko Akagi, the scandal-ridden agriculture minister, resigned, admitting that he had contributed to Mr. Abe's loss on Sunday. Asked whether he would comply with the House resolution's demand for an official apology, Mr. Abe said: 'The 20th century was an era in which human rights were violated. I would like to make the 21st century into an era with no human rights violations.' On Monday, the House unanimously passed the nonbinding resolution strongly urging the Japanese government to 'formally acknowledge' and 'apologize' for its military’s 'coercion of women into sexual slavery.' Japan had lobbied hard against the resolution in Washington, warning that it could harm relations. Mr. Abe has expressed sympathy for the former sex slaves. But he has consistently refused to acknowledge the military's role in directly coercing women into sex slavery despite historical evidence and the testimony of many of the women. [...]"


"X-Ray of the Holocaust: Claude Lanzmann Talks to Marc Semo"

Libération (on, 8 August 2007
"For a long time, Raul Hilberg's great book, 'The Destruction of the European Jews,' was known only to a few specialists. The time was probably not yet ripe. The historiography of the Holocaust, which we now call the Shoah, is complicated, and a certain number of elements were required in order for the Nazi extermination of European Jews to appear in all its scope and specificity. When I began my work on what was to become the film 'Shoah' in 1973, I had never heard of Raul Hilberg. A small group of Israeli academics working at the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem, where I began my research, were the first to talk to me about his work. Only one of them had read the entire book and the two others had incomplete knowledge of it. So I went and got a copy of the book, which then existed in an American edition only. The text was in very tight print, published in two columns, and there was an almost physical difficulty to read it. I began to plunge into it as though seized by a holy terror. At that time, there were only a very few works on the subject apart from the one written slightly earlier by Gerhard Reitlinger, and, in France, Léon Poliakov's 'The Breviary of Hatred,' neither of which boast the scale of research conducted by Raul Hilberg. Most amazing, perhaps, was the way he proceeded by [detailing] vertical geological sections of that process of annihilation that stretched from 1933 to 1945. They don't observe the chronology, but show how the destruction of people is always accompanied by that of their assets: the confiscation or 'Aryanization' of the latter, right up to the ripping out of gold teeth after the gassings. He showed the branding, segregation, ghettoization, etc. He laid bare the implacable mechanism of what he held to be a bureaucratic process of destruction. From the moment the German bureaucracy made it its object, it could only go all the way, as though carried by its own logic. [...]"

"Cracks Appear in Berlin's Holocaust Memorial"
By Kate Connolly
The Guardian, 9 August 2007
"Berlin's Holocaust memorial is said to be in urgent need of repair after cracks were found in some 400 of its concrete slabs. The £20m monument to the 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis was unveiled just over two years ago. It covers the area of about three football pitches in central Berlin and has attracted 7 million visitors, making it one of the capital's most popular tourist sites. The hairline cracks, up to 4.7 metres (15.4ft) long, began appearing after just seven months. They have been letting in rain and causing a hard lime deposit to appear to ooze out of more than a fifth of the grey blocks that make up the memorial and resemble undulating gravestones. Experts say they now have to be injected with a plastic resin. Suggestions that the material used was mediocre have been dismissed by the memorial's New York architect, Peter Eisenman. He described the concrete as 'the best in Berlin.' A spokesman for his office said it was surprising that the cracks had spread so quickly. Several explanations for the cracks have been put forward, including frost damage and building works nearby. A road by the memorial had to be moved to accommodate the new US embassy, which is being built between the site and the Brandenburg Gate. The construction of a new train tunnel has also caused much disruption. [...]"

"Israel Pulls Scorned Holocaust Survivor Stipend"
Associated Press dispatch on, 3 August 2007
"The Israeli government will revise a widely criticized plan to grant needy Holocaust survivors a monthly stipend of $20, officials said Friday, after survivors said the plan was laughable. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced the plan this week in response to concern about poverty among the some 240,000 Israelis who survived the Nazi genocide, saying he was 'correcting a 60-year-old blight.' But the meager sum -- 83 shekels a month, or $20 -- drew scorn from survivors, and after a meeting Thursday night between Olmert's staff and survivor representatives, the sides released a joint statement saying the government would look into new solutions. The government and the survivors 'decided to set a short timetable during which the pressing matters on the agenda will be worked out,' leading up to a meeting between Olmert and the survivors next week, the statement said. Noah Flug, chair of a consortium of survivors' groups, said the $20 allowance was now 'off the agenda.' Speaking on Army Radio, Flug said he was confident that Olmert's representatives 'want to solve the problem.' [...]"


"Nanjing Massacre Anniversary Marked in New Film"
Reuters dispatch, 31 July 2007
"Film producers from China, the United States and Britain have begun shooting a movie about the Rape of Nanjing, adding to a series of films marking the 70th anniversary of the massacre, Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday. 'Purple Mountain' would depict the atrocities by the invading Japanese army in December 1937, in which China says hundreds of thousands of Nanjing residents were slaughtered, through the eyes of a middle-class Chinese mother and her daughter, Xinhua said. Shooting began on Tuesday in the city, then the Chinese capital and known as Nanking, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, but the producers had yet to reveal who would star in the film, Xinhua said. The crew hoped the $53 million movie would have an impact on audiences similar to that of Steven Spielberg's Holocaust film, "Schindler's List", Xinhua quoted American producer Gerald Green as saying. ... The U.S.-made documentary film 'Nanking,' about a dozen Westerners setting up a safe zone for refugees in the war-torn city, premiered in China earlier in July to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the start of all-out Sino-Japanese War. [...]"


"Memorial Raised to Victims of Stalin"
Agence France-Presse dispatch in The Times, 9 August 2007
"A three-storey cross has been erected on a site where thousands of victims of Stalin’s purges were executed 70 years ago. About 500 people gathered in the southern suburb of Butovo for a religious service after the 12.5m (41ft) wooden cross was raised by hand and then fixed in place with rocks. More than 20,000 were killed at the site during Stalin's campaign against 'enemies of the people,' with the first executions taking place on August 8, 1937. The cross was carved from cedar and pine from Solovetsky Monastery in Siberia, one of Stalin's most notorious prison camps."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"In Darfur, Another Obstacle to Peace"
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, 12 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"Three years after it was burned to the ground, the village of Tulus in Darfur is springing back to life. Corn and sesame sprout from fertile fields. Children play around newly built huts. Smoke from cooking fires once again rises from the land. Problem is, those rebuilding Tulus are not the original inhabitants, who were chased away by pro-government Sudanese militias in 2004 and are afraid to return. Instead, their place has been taken by Chadian Arabs, who recently crossed the border to flee violence in their own country. 'It's comfortable here,' said Sheik Algooni Mohammed Zeean, 42, leader of 150 Chadian Arabs who in March settled on a grassy plain not far from the ruins of Tulus' abandoned homes and school. Gesturing toward the fields bearing their first harvest in Sudan, he smiled. 'I feel like this is my home now.' Over the last six months, nearly 30,000 Chadian Arabs have crossed into Sudan, many of them settling on land owned by Darfur's pastoral tribes that have been driven into displacement camps, aid groups say. This migration has quickly become the latest obstacle to peace in western Sudan, drawing the attention of international observers and protests from those displaced from Darfur, who accuse the Sudanese government of orchestrating an 'Arabization' scheme by repopulating their burned-out villages with foreigners. 'This is a government plot to give our land to Chadian Arabs,' said Mohammed Abakar Mohammed Adam, 27, a farmer from the village of Bechabecha, which he said was abandoned after armed nomadic tribes known asjanjaweed, widely believed to be backed by the government, attacked in 2003. But in recent months, Chadian newcomers have begun building homes atop the remains. [...]"

"Key Darfur Rebel Chief Boycotts Peace Talks"
By Xan Rice
The Observer, 5 August 2007
"Peace talks aimed at uniting the myriad rebel groups fighting the Sudanese government in Darfur -- where 200,000 have died - seemed to be becoming irrelevant when a key rebel leader said he would not be attending. In a luxury lodge in northern Tanzania, representatives of most of Darfur's rebel groups sat down yesterday to try to forge a common position before possible negotiations with Khartoum. Coming just days after the UN agreed to send a 26,000 force to the war-torn province, the talks had seemed to represent a second coup for international mediators trying to end the four-year conflict. But those hopes were dashed when Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur, the head of the main faction of the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement, stayed in Paris, from where he questioned both Khartoum's willingness to end the conflict and the legitimacy of some of the rebel leaders attending the talks. 'Peace negotiations need a conducive environment, but the government of Sudan is still killing people, thousands are being displaced,' he said. While mediators from the African Union (AU) and UN tried to play down el-Nur's absence, it has dampened hopes that negotiations between the rebels and President Omar el-Bashir's government could begin soon. El-Nur, who enjoys widespread support among the Fur ethnic group, refused to sign an internationally brokered peace deal with the Sudanese government in May 2006 in Abuja, Nigeria, rendering the so-called Darfur Peace Agreement largely meaningless. The decision by the UN Security Council to allow a hybrid AU-UN force of 26,000 peacekeepers to replace the 7,000-strong AU mission will improve security, even if it takes several months to deploy. But it is widely acknowledged that, without a political settlement that addresses the rebels' demands of more autonomy and power-sharing at a national level, the crisis is Darfur will not end. [...]"

"UN Darfur Force 'Will Be Too Weak'"
By Denise Driscoll
The Sunday Telegraph, 5 August 2007
"United Nations officials in Sudan fear that the hasty plan to send a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force to Darfur, approved by the Security Council last week, will backfire because its mandate is too weak. Senior aid workers and UN staff on the ground are strongly critical of the deal, hurriedly struck in New York with the backing of Britain, France and the US, immediately after Gordon Brown's first visit as Prime Minister to the organisation's headquarters. The force is unlikely to be deployed until next year, but the critics claim the decision is already undermining political progress within Sudan. One UN official near Al Fasher, the capital city of north Darfur, said: 'It has come as a real blow to the international community here and has seriously damaged what little political progress was being made. Brown, Bush and Sarkozy have been pushing the issue of Darfur without any real success, but now they have a resolution to hold up as a trophy.' The Security Council vote on Tuesday followed months of debate over how to intervene to end Sudan's four-year war, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives and left more than two million homeless. A smaller force of military monitors, provided by the African Union, has failed to halt the slaughter of black African villagers by pro-government Arab Janjaweed militias. To overcome Chinese objections at the Security Council, it was agreed that the new force would not have the power to disarm the warring factions or seize illegal weapons. There was no threat of sanctions against Sudan's government, which agreed to abide by the watered-down resolution. [...]"

"UN Approves 26,000 Peacekeepers for Darfur"
By James Bone
The Times, 1 August 2007
"The United Nations launched the largest peacekeeping mission in the world last night in an attempt to halt more than four years of massacres that have cost almost a quarter of a million lives in the Darfur region of Sudan. After months of tortuous negotiation, the UN Security Council adopted unanimously a landmark resolution, co-sponsored by Britain, to create a 26,000-strong 'hybrid' UN-African Union peacekeeping force. The force, to be composed primarily of African troops, will be empowered to 'take the necessary action' to prevent attacks and protect civilians in the vast desert region that has been racked by violence since 2003. Gordon Brown hailed the move during a stop at UN headquarters on his way home from his summit with President Bush. He threatened to seek further sanctions if Sudan failed to co-operate. 'This is the world coming together to say that we have a plan now, that we expect the authorities in Sudan to act. We will not tolerate further inaction, and the violence has got to stop now,' Mr. Brown said. The resolution authorises a force of 19,555 troops plus 6,432 civilian police to take over from the overstretched 7,000-strong African Union peacekeeping operation in Darfur by the end of the year. The hybrid force will try to quell the violence, which began with camelriding Arab Janjawid militia slaughtering black villagers but has now fragmented to involve a patchwork of rebel groups and feuding tribes and has spilt over the borders into Chad and the Central African Republic. ... The new force will overtake the 17,000-strong operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo to become the largest UN peacekeeping mission, costing an estimated $2.6 billion (£1.3 billion) a year. It will run in parallel with the existing UN peacekeeping mission in southern Sudan, which comprises about 16,000 personnel and costs $1 billion a year. [...]"

"Defunding the Genocide"
By Johann Hari (from The Independent), 30 July 2007
"[...] Only China can halt the genocide now. Yet, ordinarily, the Chinese dictators are impervious to international human rights condemnation. Look, for example, at how they continue to brutalise Tibet, the Uighurs, the Falun Gong and trade unionists in their own country. But the Beijing Olympics next year provide us with a crucial pressure point, where we can inflict real pain on the CCP. They are desperate for their post-Tiananmen coming-out party to go without a hitch. But unless China stops the flow of petrodollars to the Sudanese genocidaires, Save Dafur campaigners are determined to brand the games the Genocide Olympics. Already, Steven Spielberg is having to make uncomfortable noises about shooting the CCP's Olympic propaganda films, and pressure is building on the corporate Olympics sponsors, including Johnson and Johnson, Coca-Cola, and McDonald's. The US boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan; isn't a genocide even worse? Shouldn't we all be refusing to turn up unless China changes its support for race-slaughter? [...]"

"The Reluctant Hero of Ddarfur, The Movie"
By John Anderson
The New York Times, 29 July 2007 [Registration Required]
"'The Holocaust,' Stanley Kubrick once said, 'is about six million people who get killed. "Schindler's List" was about 600 people who don't.' Despite the acclaim afforded 'Schindler's List,' Steven Spielberg’s 1993 Oscar winner, its venerable dramatic strategy -- addressing a tragedy of the many via the actions of a few -- didn't quite get to the heart of darkness. At least not for Kubrick. 'The Devil Came on Horseback,' which opened Wednesday in New York, has similar issues: genocide, for one. The documentary, directed by Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, concerns the ongoing crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, where atrocities continue to be committed on many sides, including the rape and murder of black Africans by the Arab Janjaweed ('devils on horseback'). And it focuses on a lone hero, Brian Steidle, an ex-marine captain who served as an observer for the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force, took photographs of the atrocities being perpetrated and eventually published them in The New York Times. That Mr. Steidle, a white, middle-class American from a military family, is the focus of a movie about a black-African catastrophe, is something that might rankle some audiences. If there were a show of hands, Mr. Steidle’s would be the first one up. 'The hardest part for me during the filming,' said Mr. Steidle, 30, 'was when we were shooting in Rwanda, during a commemoration of the genocide there. There were huge ceremonies, people crying, people lighting candles. And here's this one camera, in the dark, with a bright, white spotlight, and it's pointed at me, one of only about 10 white people who were there. I'm very sensitive to it,' he said. 'But they convinced me that the best way to tell the story is through me.' [...]"

"Climate Change Escalates Darfur Crisis"
By Scott Baldauf
The Christian Science Monitor, 27 July 2007
"[...] Competition for water -- in refugee camps, between farmers and herders, and between countries -- has long sparked conflict in the arid region and forms one of the main causes of the war in Sudan's Darfur region. But the trouble is only beginning, as it becomes clear that dramatic climate change will have its sharpest effects in Africa, leading to rising hardship, massive population displacement, and, in some cases, all-out war. Yet a growing number of aid workers here say that the same issue that pits communities against each other can also bring them together. Solving common problems -- improving access to water for farmers and herders alike -- could be the first step toward reconciliation, and lasting peace. 'In a way, water can be a divider or it can bring people together,' says Caroline Saint-Mleux, head of Care International's office in Iriba, Chad, which manages two refugee camps in the Iriba area. 'Is [water] the only cause of the problem?' she asks. 'Obviously, everyone knows it's a very complex conflict. But at the same time, you can use [water] to bring the communities back together. ... You have to have [the warring parties] talk about a common need, and after that you might have them talk about something else that would start giving other solutions to the conflict.' [...]"

"No Hopes for Us"
By Mia Farrow (from The Wall Street Journal), 27 July 2007
"If we hear of Eastern Chad at all, it is as a spillover of the genocidal slaughter in Darfur. But this swath of land along Darfur's border has become a full-scale catastrophe in its own right, and it is without the immense and effective humanitarian infrastructure which is sustaining millions of lives in Darfur. When I first came here in November 2006, I met Abdullah Idris Zaid, who was lying in the tiny Goz Beida hospital. It was a terrible month in eastern Chad. The Janjaweed, Darfur's government-backed Arab militias, joined with Chadian Arab tribes on a rampage of destruction; 60 villages were burned and scores of people were killed, raped, and mutilated. Mr. Zaid's eyes were gouged out by Janjaweed knives. ... Eastern Chad has been plunged into chaos and lawlessness. In border towns, pick-up trucks outfitted with machine guns and loaded with armed, uniformed men careen through the dusty streets. No one knows who they are: the army, Chadian rebels, bandits? It makes little difference to the victims of the escalating violence. For about $5 dollars (U.S.), anyone can get a uniform in the marketplace. As I passed through the town of Abeche, a U.N. refugee agency guard was murdered and two staffers severely wounded. About 100 humanitarian vehicles have been highjacked in the last year; aid workers have been robbed, beaten, abducted and killed. Eight months ago, 40,000 Chadians had been displaced by Janjaweed attacks. Today the number is 175,000 and rising. People have fled from their burning villages and the fields that sustained them to squalid camps across Eastern Chad. 'Mortality rates of children under five are double what is accepted as the threshold for an emergency,' says Johanne Sekkenes, a Doctors Without Borders program director. 'The situation here is massively deteriorating. The needs are huge. Assistance has been too little, and it comes too late.' [...]"

"The Genocide Olympics: Why Mia Farrow Attacked Steven Spielberg"
By Kim Masters, 26 July 2007
"When Mia Farrow wrote in the pages of the Wall Street Journal that Steven Spielberg risks becoming 'the Leni Riefenstahl of the Beijing games,' you might think that she was doing the Lord's work. Or you might think that she struck too low a blow to the man who founded the Shoah Foundation. But whatever your reaction, you have to admit: She's got some cojones. We caught up with her this week -- she's shooting a film in soggy Normandy -- and she told us the back story. ... Spielberg hasn't commented on what he plans to do about the games, but he's expected to communicate something soon. Clearly, he was stung by Farrow's article. Perhaps it's only coincidence that he wrote to the Chinese president soon after it was published, and asked for action. But he considers it unfair that he's facing pressure to boycott the Olympics when none of the activist groups is asking the same of the athletes. Farrow knows that many in the industry consider it madness to reproach Spielberg publicly or privately. 'I know how it is out there,' she says of Hollywood. 'I think the flags are flying at half-mast over at my management. But I'm not risking my life. Maybe I'm risking my career. It's a pittance. We're talking about millions of lives at stake." ... Spielberg's spokesman, Andy Spahn, has now gone on the record saying that Spielberg is considering 'all options,' including quitting, depending on what the Chinese do in the days ahead: 'We're pretty far down the road in discussions and then we'll decide if the path is productive or not and then consider other options.'"


"Foetuses Aborted and Dumped Secretly as India Shuns Baby Girls"

By Randeep Ramesh
The Guardian, 28 July 2007
"A hundred yards from a school playing field on the edge of Nayagarh, a small town in eastern India, is an innocuous damp circular patch covered with what appears to be sticks and stones. A closer look reveals that the debris is shards of tiny skulls and bones, all that remains of more than 40 female foetuses -- aborted because of their sex and then dumped in a disused well. The secret tragedy of being conceived female in India burst into the open this week with the grim discovery of the well, dug on land earmarked for a private hospital -- the Krishna clinic owned by an obstetrician, Nabakirshora Sahu, and his wife, Savitha. The latter is in custody but the medic is on the run. Last Thursday Santish Mishra, a health official, was poking at the top of the hole, from which had been exhumed 132 bags of putrefying human remains. Above the grisly sight hangs an acrid smell, the telltale chemical stench of hospital waste used to hide the truth. 'Femur, skull, forearm -- probably. We are pretty sure these are all female, aborted at about five months which is the legal limit,' said Dr. Mishra. 'You can say it was a hidden mass grave.' In India ultrasound technology, coupled with a traditional preference for boys, has led to mass female foeticide. Although gender-based abortion is illegal, parents are choosing to abort female foetuses in such large numbers that experts estimate India has lost 10 million girls in the past 20 years. In the 12 years since selective abortion was outlawed only one doctor has been convicted of the crime. [...]"


"Getting Comfy With Genocide"
By Ron Rosenbaum, 1 August 2007
"It's good that we're beginning to get all relaxed and comfy about genocide, isn't it? Samantha Power's important book on the subject was called A Problem From Hell. But in recent discourse, genocide seems to have become A Problem From Heck. One aspect of the shift is a new 'realism' about genocide that reflects the way the world has come to tolerate it: We now tacitly concede that in practice, we can't or won't do much more than deplore it and learn to live with it. Another -- more troubling -- trend is toward what we might call 'defining genocide down': redefining genocide to refer to lesser episodes of killing and thus lessening the power of the word to shock. One has to admire the honesty of Barack Obama, who argued in the recent Democratic YouTube debate that even if rapid withdrawal of troops from Iraq might lead to genocide, he'd favor going ahead and getting the troops out. He wasn't saying he was happy about the possibility—he was just expressing the view that the word genocide shouldn't freeze all discourse: He wouldn't let it be a deal-breaker. Some were shocked by this remark. Others agreed that fear of a future genocide should not inhibit efforts to stop the current killing. ... It's an argument in which the definition of genocide can get lost in the welter of terms that range from 'ethnic strife' to 'ethnic cleansing' to 'mass murder.' But by blurring the definition of genocide, by conflating it with various forms of what might be called 'genocide-lite,' we risk diminishing the moral weight and admonitory power of the term. [...]"


"The Terror America Wrought"
By Robert Scheer, 7 August 2007
"During a week of mayhem in Iraq, in which terrorists have rightly been condemned for targeting schoolchildren, it is sobering to recall that this week is also the 62nd anniversary of a U.S. attack that deliberately took the lives of thousands of children on their way to school in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As noted in the Strategic Bombing Survey conducted at President Harry Truman's request, when the bomb hit Hiroshima on April 6, 1945, 'nearly all the school children ... were at work in the open,' to be exploded, irradiated or incinerated in the perfect firestorm that the planners back at the University of California-run Los Alamos lab had envisioned for the bomb's maximum psychological impact. The terror plot worked all too well, as Hiroshima's Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba recalled this week: 'That fateful summer, 8:15 a.m. The roar of a B-29 breaks the morning calm. A parachute opens in the blue sky. Then suddenly, a flash, an enormous blast -- silence -- hell on Earth. The eyes of young girls watching the parachute were melted. Their faces became giant charred blisters. The skin of people seeking help dangled from their fingernails. ... Others died when their eyeballs and internal organs burst from their bodies -- Hiroshima was a hell where those who somehow survived envied the dead.' Like most of the others killed by the two American bombs, neither the children nor the adults had any role in Japan's decision to go to war, but they were picked as the target instead of an isolated but fortified military base whose antiaircraft fire posed a higher risk. The target preferred by U.S. atomic scientists -- a patch in the ocean or unpopulated terrain -- was rejected, because the effect of hundreds of thousands of civilians dying would be all the more dramatic. The victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki were available soft targets, much like the children playing in Iraq, suddenly caught in the crossfire of battles waged beyond their control. [...]"