Sunday, September 16, 2007

NOW AVAILABLE: Men of the Global South: A Reader, edited by Adam Jones (Zed Books, 2006; 425 pp., US $29.99 pbk). "This impressive collection is a much-needed contribution to the visibility and understanding of diversity in the lives of men from the South" (Dr. Dubravka Zarkov, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague).

Genocide Studies Media File
September 1-16, 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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"Fractured Bosnia Struggles to Form Police Force for All"
By Jonathan Finer
The Washington Post, 16 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] The 1995 Dayton peace accords that ended the war divided the country into two ethnic enclaves and gave each the right to police itself. Now, creation of a single multiethnic police force has become the biggest stumbling block in Bosnia's quest to join the European Union. Talks among Bosnia's factions resumed this month in advance of an upcoming deadline to produce a policing agreement that can be presented to European officials this year. 'I am not optimistic,' Raffi Gregorian, deputy high representative of foreign parties to the Dayton accords, said when asked about the prospects for an agreement. 'And that means we're on hold another year before we get the process going again.' A compromise proposal that Gregorian's office has put forward in recent weeks has been criticized by both Muslim and Serb leaders. The Muslims, who control an ethnic zone known as the Federation and play a primary role in Bosnia's national government because Muslims are the country's largest ethnic group, would like to abolish the Srpska police in favor of a more nationalized force. They say many members of the Srpska force are war criminals. 'Keeping the Srpska police intact is like allowing the Gestapo to police Holocaust victims,' said Haris Silajdzic, the Muslim representative in the country's three-pronged presidency. 'We need a multiethnic police force because such forces do not commit massacres.' Bosnian Serbs say their minority status leaves them vulnerable and in need of their own security force. Their leaders say they would rather forgo a place in the E.U. than their 7,000-member police contingent. While they have rejected calls to change the name of the force, Republika Srpska Police, they have agreed to swap its wartime eagle logo for one with no connotations, which would leave many officers without their trademark hats while the switch is completed. [...]"


"Prevalence of Rape in E. Congo Described as Worst in World"
By Stephanie McCrummen
The Washington Post, 9 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"The prevalence and intensity of sexual violence against women in eastern Congo are 'almost unimaginable,' the top U.N. humanitarian official said Saturday after visiting the country's most fragile region, where militia groups have preyed on the civilian population for years. John Holmes, who coordinates U.N. emergency relief operations, said 4,500 cases of sexual violence have been reported in just one eastern province since January, though the actual number is surely much higher. Rape has become 'almost a cultural phenomenon,' he said. 'Violence and rape at the hands of these armed groups has become all too common,' said Holmes, who spent four days in eastern Congo. 'The intensity and frequency is worse than anywhere else in the world.' The chronic sexual violence is just one facet of a broader environment of insecurity that still defines eastern Congo after a decade-long war that killed an estimated 4 million people, mostly from hunger and other effects of being driven from their homes. Tensions have risen in the east following recent clashes between government soldiers and forces loyal to a renegade general, Laurent Nkunda. Nearly 300,000 people have been displaced since December, including tens of thousands in the past several weeks, according to the United Nations. [...]"

"Fear of Fresh Conflict in Congo as Renegade General Turns Guns on Government Forces"
By Chris McGreal
The Guardian, 3 September 2007
"Peace accords that were to put an end to the conflicts that killed millions in the Democratic Republic of Congo are collapsing after a powerful renegade Tutsi general declared war on the government. The United Nations has started airlifting thousands of government troops into the eastern Kivu region, which has endured two foreign invasions and more than a decade of civil war. About 4 million people have died in the conflicts. Fighting has renewed after General Laurent Nkunda pulled thousands of his men out of the national army last week, just months after they were integrated under the peace accords, and began attacking government troops whom he accused of collaborating with Hutu forces that fled into Congo after carrying out the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda. Gen. Nkunda says he has gone back to war to protect the hundreds of thousands of Tutsis who live in the Kivu region and are still targeted by Hutu rebels. But the UN peacekeeping force in Congo has thrown its support behind the government's claim that Gen Nkunda is a 'bandit,' raising the prospect of another major conflict. [...]"


"Ethiopia's Ogaden Rebels Warn of 'African Genocide'"
By Wangui Kanina
Reuters dispatch, 13 September 2007
"Rebels from Ethiopia's troubled Ogaden region said on Thursday an 'African genocide' was unfolding there while a U.N. fact-finding mission had only visited areas sanctioned by the government. The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) called on the United Nations to investigate what it said were 'war crimes' by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's troops in the remote and arid region neighboring Somalia. Meles' government has been waging an unprecedented military crackdown on the rebels after they killed 74 people during a raid on a Chinese-run oil exploration field earlier this year. 'The United Nations in particular bears a responsibility to thoroughly investigate war crimes in Ogaden and halt the unfolding of yet another preventable African genocide,' the front said. Both sides have reported hundreds of deaths, and accused the other of terrorizing the population. But there has been no independent verification of the claims and counter-claims in an area effectively off-limits to journalists and aid groups. The rebels said a U.N. mission this month, intended to assess claims of rights abuses as well as humanitarian needs in the Ogaden, did not have access to the entire region. [...]"


"Nazi Victims' Greek Descendants Sue for Compensation in Italy"
By John Hooper
The Guardian, 3 September 2007
"One of the most controversial Nazi warcrime cases, arising from a massacre in a Greek village, has been reopened -- not in Greece or Germany, but in Italy. The move also means a historic villa may have to be sold to pay reparations to the descendants of the victims. It is the latest example of so-called 'judicial tourism,' in which litigants explore other countries' legal systems in search of a favourable ruling. Within the next few days, according to a report in the newspaper Corriere della Sera, Italy's highest appeal court, the court of cassation, will hear a plea from the German government against a judgment by a lower tribunal in favour of the Greek plaintiffs. A court in Florence ruled that an Italian mansion belonging to the German state should be set aside as a guarantee against the authorities in Berlin refusing to pay. Villa Vigoni, on the shores of Lake Como, was left to Germany by its owner in the 1980s. It now serves as an Italo-German cultural centre and once hosted a meeting between the countries' presidents. The plaintiffs' German lawyer, who practises in Florence, is claiming €40m damages from Berlin for a massacre in the village of Distomo on June 10, 1944, which left 218 people dead. It was not the bloodiest Nazi reprisal in Greece, but it was among the most savage: the victims included a two-month-old child and an 80-year-old woman. In 1997, following years of legal wrangling, the supreme court in Athens ruled that the German state should pay the villagers the equivalent of €23m. When the money was not forthcoming, the court gave the plaintiffs a claim on the premises in Athens of the Goethe-Institut, the German equivalent of the British Council. The Greek authorities blocked the implementation of the court order, but the children of one of the victims took the case to the Florence court after it ruled that the decision could be executed in Italy. A ruling by Italy's top appeal court would have implications for descendants of the victims of other massacres, particularly in the Balkans."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Complex Defeat for Nobel Winner in Guatemala"
By Mark Lacey
The New York Times, 11 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] One who did not seem to get any spiritual help is Rigoberta Menchú, the first indigenous presidential candidate in this predominantly indigenous country and the winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy on behalf of Guatemala’s marginalized Mayans. She finished sixth in a field of 14, according to results released Monday, with just 3 percent of the vote. The two front-runners, Álvaro Colom and Otto Pérez Molina, will compete in a runoff on Nov. 4. Why Ms. Menchú fared so poorly is as complex as the Mayans themselves. She was not from around here. That was obvious to anyone who scrutinized the details of the embroidery on the traditional Mayan clothes she wore to campaign. She is a Quiche Mayan, from the midwestern highlands. Her indigenous language is different, unintelligible to a local Tz'utujil speaker. Nineteen other Mayan groups live in Guatemala, each linguistically distinct. Because of the rivalries and conflicts among Mayans, Ms. Menchú had to win over Mayan voters just like any other outsider. 'She's one of us, but she's not,' explained a Tz'utujil Mayan who voted for someone else. She also entered the race without a social organization as a base and was considered a lackluster campaigner and an uninspired speaker. Furthermore, many older Mayan men are traditional when it comes to women. 'Lots of men don't want a woman to boss them around, and especially a woman president,' said Delores Ratzan, a Tz’utujil Mayan tour guide here. 'They think it will ruin the country, and they tell their wives that.' [...]"


"Proxy War Could Soon Turn to Direct Conflict, Analysts Warn"
By Julian Borger and Ian Black
The Guardian, 15 September 2007
"The growing US focus on confronting Iran in a proxy war inside Iraq risks triggering a direct conflict in the next few months, regional analysts are warning. US-Iranian tensions have mounted significantly in the past few days, with heightened rhetoric on both sides and the US decision to establish a military base in Iraq less than five miles from the Iranian border to block the smuggling of Iranian arms to Shia militias. ... 'The proxy war that has been going on in Iraq may now cross the border. This is a very dangerous period,' Patrick Cronin, the director of studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said. Iran's leaders have so far shown every sign of relishing the confrontation. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, declared yesterday that American policies had failed in the Middle East and warned: 'I am certain that one day Bush and senior American officials will be tried in an international court for the tragedies they have created in Iraq.' In such circumstances, last week's Israeli air strike against a mystery site in northern Syria has triggered speculation over its motives. ... The US has called a meeting of major powers in Washington next Friday to discuss Iran's defiance of UN resolutions calling for its suspension of uranium enrichment. It comes amid signs that the Bush administration is running out of patience with diplomatic efforts to curb the nuclear programme. Hawks led by the vice-president, Dick Cheney, are intensifying their push for military action, with support from Israel and privately from some Sunni Gulf states. ... Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counter-terrorism chief who is now a security analyst, said: 'The decision to attack was made some time ago. It will be in two stages. If a smoking gun is found in terms of Iranian interference in Iraq, the US will retaliate on a tactical level, and they will strike against military targets. The second part of this is: Bush has made the decision to launch a strategic attack against Iranian nuclear facilities, although not before next year. He has been lining up some Sunni countries for tacit support for his actions.' [...]"
[n.b. Brace yourself. And bear in mind that, as Seymour Hersh and others have reported, US special forces have been operating inside Iran, probably including sabotage and support for secessionist movements, for many months.]


"Poll: Civilian Death Toll in Iraq May Top 1 Million"
By Tina Susman
The Los Angeles Times, 14 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"[...] A new survey suggested that the civilian death toll from the war could be more than 1 million. The figure from ORB, a British polling agency that has conducted several surveys in Iraq, followed statements this week from the U.S. military defending itself against accusations it was trying to play down Iraqi deaths to make its strategy appear successful. The military has said civilian deaths from sectarian violence have fallen more than 55% since President Bush sent an additional 28,500 troops to Iraq this year, but it does not provide specific numbers. According to the ORB poll, a survey of 1,461 adults suggested that the total number slain during more than four years of war was more than 1.2 million. ORB said it drew its conclusion from responses to the question about those living under one roof: 'How many members of your household, if any, have died as a result of the conflict in Iraq since 2003?' Based on Iraq's estimated number of households -- 4,050,597 -- it said the 1.2 million figure was reasonable. There was no way to verify the number, because the government does not provide a full count of civilian deaths. Neither does the U.S. military. Both, however, say that independent organizations greatly exaggerate estimates of civilian casualties. ORB said its poll had a margin of error of 2.4%. According to its findings, nearly one in two households in Baghdad had lost at least one member to war-related violence, and 22% of households nationwide had suffered at least one death. It said 48% of the victims were shot to death and 20% died as a result of car bombs, with other explosions and military bombardments blamed for most of the other fatalities. The survey was conducted last month. It was the highest estimate given so far of civilian deaths in Iraq. Last year, a study in the medical journal Lancet put the number at 654,965, which Iraq's government has dismissed as 'ridiculous.' [...]"
[n.b. Well, that Lancet study is looking a sight less "ridiculous" today, isn't it? The mind simply boggles at these latest data, which, scandalously, have been all but ignored in the mainstream media.]

"Kurdish Widows' Lives Frozen in Time"
By Borzou Daragahi
The Los Angeles Times, 9 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"Patience, the mothers begged their children. Saddam Hussein will fall. Liberty will come. Your father will return. Years went by. The regime fell. Prison doors were opened. Mass graves were unearthed. Still, the women wait. 'We still have not given up hope. We expect our husbands to return,' says Bahar Suleiman, one of the thousands of black-draped women of this valley of widows. She sits on a red plastic chair in the courtyard of a one-story cinder-block home she shares with six other women who have lost their husbands. A mountain breeze tempers the August sun. Her reddish locks tumble from the black head scarf wrapping a face frozen in a grimace. 'I still believe that someday my husband will walk through that gate there,' she says. Barzan is the ancestral homeland of the Barzani family, which dominates politics here in the semiautonomous region known as Iraqi Kurdistan. ... The heartache began in 1975, when the shah of Iran, in a deal with Hussein, withdrew support for Kurdish guerrillas fighting Baghdad for autonomy. Thousands, including the elder Barzani and his family, took the long, dreary march into exile to Iran, Europe or the United States in what was called the Great Collapse. Hussein's government dealt harshly with those who stayed behind. First, they were herded south to the desert near the border with Saudi Arabia. Then, after Iran's Islamic Revolution in 1979, Hussein ordered them to a camp back in the Kurdish region, fearing that they would join rebellious Shiite Muslims in the south. Trucks full of soldiers came to the camp early on the morning of July 31, 1983. They separated women from men, young from old. The soldiers told the women the men were going to work as laborers for a day. They never came back. For the women of Barzan, life became a nonstop backbreaking chore. They had to do everything -- earn a living, perform household tasks, feed the children -- without their men. They eventually returned to Barzan after Hussein, defeated in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was forced to accept the Kurdish semiautonomous region in the north. But custom forbade them from remarrying until the fate of their husbands became clear. So they waited. [...]"


"My Jewish Grandson's No Nazi, Says Holocaust Survivor"
By Rebecca Harrison
Reuters dispatch, 10 September 2007
"She escaped the Holocaust at age six by hiding from the Nazis under a pile of dead bodies in her Ukrainian village. Now the Israeli pensioner's grandson stands accused of joining a neo-Nazi gang which allegedly attacked Orthodox Jews in Petah Tikva in metropolitan Tel Aviv and painted swastikas across the walls of the local synagogue. Her 17-year-old grandson is one of eight young Israelis, all from the former Soviet Union, arrested in connection with neo-Nazi activity, in a case that has stunned the Jewish state. All denied involvement at a court hearing this week. Some one million immigrants from the former Soviet Union have moved to Israel since the fall of Communism in 1990. Many, including some of the suspects, were not born to a Jewish mother -- the Orthodox definition of a Jew -- but qualified for Israeli citizenship because they had at least one Jewish grandparent. The accused's grandmother said on Monday her family had been Jewish 'since Adam and Eve.' It would be absurd, she said, to charge her grandson with neo-Nazi activities. Neither the accused, a minor, nor his relatives can be named for legal reasons. [...]"

"Israelis Debate Care for Holocaust Victims"
By Joshua Mitnick
The Christian Science Monitor, 4 September 2007
"[...] Even though Israel has fashioned its identity as a national vessel of Holocaust heritage, tens of thousands of survivors live at or near the poverty level. When the government offered in July to boost monthly compensation to survivors by only $20, the ensuing outcry highlighted a history of bitterness between Holocaust victims and the state. The controversy hinges on questions of what is the responsibility of Israel's government for survivors who can't afford the care they need. Advocates say the government must offer special assistance to pay for medical treatment for such diagnosis as cancer, osteoporosis, and psychological stress. But Tom Segev, the author of 'The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust,' says the controversy is about more than just money. The outrage at the government reflects a deep-seated tension between the worldview of the native Israeli establishment and the old-world survivors. 'The Holocaust has become a very central identity of Israeli identity. But with Holocaust survivors we still have a problem,' he says. 'The Holocaust is very much on everybody's mind, but the Holocaust survivors are still treated as something of an invalid, a cripple, a big problem.' The Zionists of early 20th century Palestine considered themselves 'new Jews' who prided themselves on self-defense while disdaining European ancestors for passivity in the face of anti-Semitism. Holocaust survivors were initially ignored at best, or blamed for their ordeal at worst. In August, the government said it would revise its earlier offer of $20. Survivors of Nazi-era concentration camps are supposed to receive 1,200 shekels ($290) a month, a decision that survivor advocates say will help about 8,000 survivors. [...]"


"Hizbollah 'Did Not Use Civilians as Cover'"
By Mark Lavie
The Independent, 7 September 2007
"In its strongest condemnation of Israel since last summer's war, Human Rights Watch said yesterday that most Lebanese civilian casualties were caused by 'indiscriminate Israeli air strikes.' The international human rights organisation said there was no basis to the Israeli claim that civilian casualties resulted from Hizbollah guerrillas using civilians for cover. Israel has said that it attacked civilian areas because Hizbollah set up rocket launchers in villages and towns. More than 1,000 Lebanese were killed in the 34-day conflict, which began after Hizbollah staged a cross-border raid, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two others. Israeli aircraft targeted Lebanese infrastructure, including bridges and Beirut airport, and heavily damaged a district of Beirut known as a Hizbollah stronghold, as well as attacking Hizbollah centres in villages near the border. Hizbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at northern Israel, killing 119 soldiers. In the fighting, 40 Israeli civilians were killed. Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch executive director, said there were only 'rare' cases of Hizbollah operating in civilian villages. 'To the contrary, once the war started, most Hizbollah military officials and even many political officials left the villages,' he said. 'Most Hizbollah military activity was conducted from prepared positions outside Lebanese villages in the hills and valleys around.' The Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, rejected the findings. 'Hizbollah adopted a deliberate strategy of shielding itself behind the civilian population and turning the civilians in Lebanon into a human shield,' he said."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"First Memorial to Black Victims of Nazi Genocide"
By Michael Leidig
The Observer, 16 September 2007
"In the vast, agonising mosaic of the Holocaust, Mahjub bin Adam Mohamed was simply one more piece, one of millions of the Nazis' victims lost to obscurity without a funeral or a grave. Now bin Adam is to make history in Germany by becoming the first black person to be given a memorial in his adopted country as an individual victim of the genocide of the Third Reich. A Stolperstein -- a bronze 'stumbling block' -- will be erected on the ground outside the house in Berlin where he lived. The memorial will be placed so that pedestrians have to step around it, and its aim is to stop future generations from thinking of the Holocaust in terms of anonymous, faceless numbers. Until now the markers have been almost exclusively established at Jewish homes, but bin Adam's Stolperstein will serve as a reminder of other minorities, the black people, the disabled, homosexuals, gypsies, communists, political dissenters and Jehovah's Witnesses, who were also murdered under Hitler's regime. ... Bin Adam, who was born in Tanzania, joined the then colonial German East Africa services when he was 10 years old and served with the army. He emigrated to Berlin in 1929, where he immediately got into trouble with the authorities by walking into the Foreign Ministry and demanding his outstanding service pay. ... He married a German woman, Maria Schwander, and they had three children -- Adam, Annemarie and Bodo -- but his family struggled to make ends meet because of his excesses, which included numerous affairs that resulted in several illegitimate children. He was still in dispute with the authorities over money for his time in the armed forces when he was arrested in 1941, charged with the crime of 'miscegenation' -- racial intermarriage -- and taken to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where he died in November 1944. [...]"


"New Data on Russia Race Attacks"
By Steven Eke
BBC Online, 3 September 2007
"A respected Russian human rights group has published shocking new data on the extent of racist violence in Russia. Sova says 38 people have been murdered in racist killings so far this year, and well over 300 people have been injured, mainly in stabbings. According to its figures, the most common victims of racist killings are from the Caucasus and Central Asia. It also warns that Russia's skinheads have begun targeting other minorities, including homosexuals. Sova says that Moscow, St Petersburg and Russia's fourth city -- Nizhniy Novgorod -- are the leaders in racist attacks. It says 24 people have died in Moscow alone this year as a result of racially motivated killings by what it terms 'skinheads.' The word 'skinhead' in Russia implies something much more than appearance. It is the generic term given to the country's ultra-right activists, who continue to form organisations and carry out attacks with what anti-racism groups say is impunity. Sova estimates there are more than 60,000 skinheads in Russia. It says its figures suggest the toll of racist attacks is increasing, but prosecutors remain reluctant to attribute racial motivation to killings of ethnic minorities. Instead, they often put them down to simple 'hooliganism.' [...]"


"In China, a Display of Resolve on Darfur"
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, 16 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Chinese military put on a display of its first Darfur-bound peacekeepers Saturday, having troops throw up Bailey bridges and feign combat to dramatize Beijing's desire to be seen as a partner in bringing peace to the violence-torn corner of Sudan. The training demonstration, by an engineering unit of the People's Liberation Army, was observed by foreign journalists as part of a new campaign by the Chinese government to show that it is cooperating with the United States and other nations to end the Darfur fighting, which since 2003 has displaced about 2.5 million people and contributed to the deaths of as many as 450,000 from violence and disease. Military engineers wearing U.N.-blue caps worked feverishly to build a stretch of road, erect a bridge and put together a prefab shelter designed to serve as a headquarters building. Force protection troops, meanwhile, simulated reacting to an ambush and sped about the training grounds here in armored personnel carriers in what an army announcer called 'a military training show.' ... China's previous unwillingness to be seen pressuring the Sudanese government had generated appeals for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, endangering what the Communist Party government hopes will be a showcase at home and abroad for the country's swift economic transformation. With Olympic enthusiasm high among the Chinese public, anything that casts a shadow over the Games would become a political problem for President Hu Jintao and the party. [...]"

"Boom Belies Sudan's Pariah Status"
By Rob Crilly
The Times, 15 September 2007
"A new city is emerging on the banks of the Nile. Khartoum's minarets and historic souks are giving way to glass-encased office blocks and hotels as an oil-fuelled boom reshapes the skyline. Shiny new Japanese cars fill some of the straightest roads in Africa, despite sanctions and the country's pariah status over the genocide in Darfur. Tomorrow tens of thousands of protesters will take to the streets in a global day of action urging world leaders to keep up pressure on a regime waging war. But campaigners fear that Sudan's newfound prosperity is undermining the effort. Nick Donovan, of the Aegis Trust, a British-based charity that campaigns against genocide, said: 'It insulates Khartoum from some forms of economic pressure. The high oil prices and the fact that some countries are willing to buy oil from Sudan means the Government can act with impunity.' At least 200,000 people have died in the conflict in the Sudanese western region since rebels rose against the Government more than four years ago. Today four million people are dependent entirely on aid. The International Criminal Court has issued warrants for the arrest of a government minister, Ahmed Haroun, for his role in arming and funding the Janjawid militias. This year the US strengthened sanctions imposed a decade ago. The US Treasury barred 31 Sudanese companies from international financial institutions. [...]"

"Displaced Darfuris Seek Seat at Peace Talks"
By Abigail Hauslohner
Reuters dispatch, 12 September 2007
"Displaced Darfuris in a dusty, squalid camp in Sudan's war-torn west have demanded a seat at peace talks between Khartoum and Darfur rebel groups, warning negotiations could fail without their participation. Khartoum released a joint communique with the United Nations last week saying it will start talks with Darfur rebels on October 27 in Libya to push for peace before a 26,000-strong U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force deploys to Darfur. 'There is no representative for us there. No one came and consulted us. If some of us were present at the talks it would help them succeed,' Al-Bashir Al-Nagi, a local community leader, told Reuters. He predicted the planned talks, as construed, are 'not going to succeed. They will fail like the last ones.' Several Darfur sheikhs made similar pleas to visiting British Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Malloch Brown on Tuesday as they gathered in a small hut at the Otash displaced persons camp in south Darfur to air grievances. 'We would like to participate in the peace-building process,' one local sheikh told Malloch Brown. Otash residents in South Darfur, which humanitarian workers say has seen more killing and displacement than other areas of Darfur this year, said they feel increasingly disconnected from the rebel leaders, several of whom live abroad, and they want their own representation at the talks. International experts estimate some 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have fled their homes in over four years of ethnic and political violence in Darfur, which the United States calls genocide. [...]"

"Head of Darfur Peacekeepers Confident"
By Alfred de Montesquiou
Associated Press dispatch in The Los Angeles Times, 10 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"A large and complex peacekeeping operation planned for Darfur will launch on time and could, within months, improve security in the war-torn region of western Sudan, the mission's head said. Rodolphe Adada, chief of the United Nations and African Union joint mission to Darfur, said contributing nations have already committed more than the 26,000 required troops for the force, and he expects the peacekeepers to deploy in October. 'That won't mean we'll have all the elements of the force on the ground, but we'll be operational,' he said in an interview with The Associated Press late Sunday. The joint mission will take over from an African Union force of 7,000 currently in Darfur, and Adada said he expected to begin operating with some 10,000 troops, including the African contingents already in place. He said the joint mission, called UNAMID, would meet the deadline set by the U.N. Security Council to replace the African Union force by Dec. 31. 'Hopefully, we'll be in full gear by March,' Adada said. ... Darfur civilians have grown increasingly frustrated with the African Union force's lack of protection since it arrived in June 2004. They hope the new, hybrid U.N.-African Union force's ability to secure refugee camps and towns will be a key factor to bring back stability. One of the main weaknesses of the African Union's current force is a mandate more focused on monitoring violence than preventing it. Adada said the UNAMID's rules of engagement, under which troops are allowed to shoot, will provide for stronger protection. [...]"

"Save Us from Hell of Darfur, Say Refugees"
By Mariella Frostrup
The Guardian, 9 September 2007
"[...] You will have read about the conflict in Darfur, of the rapes and mutilations, of an estimated 200,000 people dead and 2.5 million forced to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families. Despite endless United Nations initiatives, the attention of our Prime Minister and President Nicolas Sarkozy in France, and the campaigning of such celebrities as George Clooney and Mia Farrow, it remains for most of us a distant conflict in a world scarred by many such battles. Jaded from daily TV channel-hopping, we shrug off another genocide. It seems both intangible and hopeless. Until you find yourself inches from a woman like Hawaye, her baby daughter Nadjva sucking on her malnourished breast as she tells us what drove her from Sudan to the Djabal refugee camp where we sit. 'They came at seven to our village, the janjaweed militia,' she says, the fact that she mentions the time seeming a poignant effort to give some structure to the evil that followed. Her husband was away when the rebels arrived and set about their business -- the livestock rounded up, homes torched, men and boys mutilated and murdered, and finally the moment that she replays over and over, when one of the horsemen rode up and, with a machete, decapitated the baby that she held in her arms. She didn't have time to mourn. The murderers took her with them and kept her hostage for 15 days, repeatedly raping and violating her before they moved on. But for many women, surviving is the worst-case scenario. Hawaye was reunited with her husband, but the fact that she had lived made her guilty of complicity in her 'loss of honour.' He divorced her. She briefly got lucky when another refugee with two children married her, a rare occurrence for rape victims, who are seen as unclean. You are no doubt hoping for a happy ending? When he found out about her ordeal, which she had kept secret in fear and shame, he also divorced her. [...]"

"Darfur Peace Talks Set for October"
Reuters dispatch in The Mail & Guardian (South Africa), 7 September 2007
"Sudan and Darfur rebels will hold talks on October 27 in Libya to push for peace ahead of the expected deployment of a 26 000-strong peace force in Darfur, a United Nations-Sudanese government statement said on Thursday. The statement said the UN 'expresses the hope that parties will cooperate fully' with UN and African Union (AU) mediators. The announcement came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon came to the end of a three-day tour of Sudan where he held talks with President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and leaders of key Darfur rebel factions. Ban told a news conference the Libya talks would be held under the mediation of UN Darfur envoy Jan Eliasson and his AU counterpart, Salim Ahmed Salim. 'I urge and expect all parties to respect their commitments to cease all hostilities immediately,' Ban said. International experts estimate about 200 000 people have died and more than two million have been driven from their homes in Darfur since the conflict broke out in 2003. Khartoum puts the death toll at 9 000. A 2006 peace deal between Khartoum and one rebel faction failed to quell the violence in the western region. In July, the UN Security Council approved a plan for 26 000 UN and AU peacekeepers to take over from a smaller and ineffective AU force currently operating in Darfur. Ban has said that the UN-AU force cannot be effective unless 'there is a peace to keep.'"

"U.N. to Press for Rapid Deployment of Darfur Peacekeeping Force"
Associated Press dispatch on, 3 September 2007
"U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will press for speedy deployment of a 26,000-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur and a quick start to new peace talks to end the four-year conflict there during his visit to Sudan starting Monday. Ban, who was greeted on his arrival in Khartoum by Sudanese Deputy Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Karti, plans to spend a day in Darfur and hold talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. 'I want to create the foundations of a lasting peace and security,' Ban told reporters last week. 'My goal is to lock in the progress we have made so far, to build on it so that this terrible trauma may one day cease.' Reaching that goal will be difficult: Darfur is a vast and complex region where peace agreements and cease-fires have been ignored, lawlessness has increased, and more than a dozen rebel groups and government forces are still fighting. Nonetheless, the secretary-general said he chose this time to make the weeklong trip -- which also will include stops in Chad and Libya -- because of the 'historic opportunity' provided by the U.N. Security Council's adoption of a resolution on July 31. It authorizes a 26,000-strong joint force from the African Union and the United Nations to replace the beleaguered 7,000-strong AU mission now in Darfur by December 31. The resolution was adopted after months of delay in getting agreement from the Sudanese government, and Ban said he wants to test the government's commitment to speedy deployment of the 'hybrid' AU-U.N. force. [...]"


"Anatomy of a Start-Up Antigenocide Charity"
By Jina Moore
The Christian Science Monitor, 11 September 2007
"[...] [Chris] Hanis isn't prone to fashion statements -- he went seven years until his first new suit, bought in a three-for-one deal at an outlet store -- but peacekeeping has taken over his life. He's the 25-year-old executive director of an antigenocide organization he never expected to found. 'At every step, we thought we would hand it off to experts or other people who must be doing this already. But every time, there wasn't someone there to pick up the ball,' Hanis says. 'So we just kept doing it.' Now, his job is to make a permanent fixture inside the Beltway out of a grass-roots group that wants to end genocide. It's too early to know whether he'll succeed in the long haul, but Hanis has shepherded his group through a nonprofit's shakiest years, with a mission most people said was impossible. In the fall of his senior year, when the first African Union soldiers arrived in Sudan's Darfur to protect civilians fleeing violence, Hanis read that they traveled from aid group to aid group, hats in hand, asking for help to buy boots. Appalled, he started the Genocide Intervention Network (GI-Net) to raise money for the soldiers – something like the notion of holding a bake sale for NATO. Hanis promised donors that their money would help the good guys (the African Union soldiers) protect the innocent from the bad guys (the janjaweed militias, allied to the Sudanese government, who burned homes and killed villagers). This moral discernment makes GI-Net different from traditional humanitarian organizations, which feed and clothe people caught up in conflict, without judging any side as wrong. Hanis thinks that misses the point in cases like Darfur, which the US has labeled genocide. 'Genocide is not a humanitarian crisis,' he says. 'You can't throw rice at gunships bombing villages.' Many told Hanis his idea was naive. But in just four months, he'd raised a quarter of a million dollars. This was in the spring of 2005, before Darfur became a cause du jour -- before George Clooney and Mia Farrow, before Panties for Peace or Timberland boots with "Stomp Out Genocide" soles. This was before Hanis himself imagined his idea going national, with 10,000 members and a $3 million budget. [...]"


"UN Adopts Historic Statement on Native Rights"
By Haider Rizvi, 14 September 2007
"Despite strong objections from the United States and some of its allies, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution Thursday calling for the recognition of the world's 370 million indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and control over their lands and resources. The adoption of the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples comes after 22 years of diplomatic negotiations at the United Nations involving its member states, international civil society groups, and representatives of the world's aboriginal communities. An overwhelming majority of UN member countries endorsed the Declaration, with 143 voting in favor, 4 against, and 11 abstaining. The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand stood alone in voting against the resolution. The nations that neither supported nor objected were Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burundi, Colombia, Georgia, Kenya, Nigeria, Russia, Samoa, and Ukraine. 'It's a triumph for indigenous peoples around the world,' said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the General Assembly vote. 'This marks a historic moment when member states and indigenous peoples have reconciled with their painful histories.' In her comments, General Assembly President Haya Al Khalifa described the outcome of the vote as a 'major step forward towards the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.' [...]"
[n.b. This is a massive moment in the recognition of indigenous rights worldwide, and Canada's shameful failure to sign on marks it, with its three fellow dissidents, as a rogue state on this issue.]

Sunday, September 02, 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
August 14 - September 1, 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

Consider inviting colleagues and friends to subscribe to Genocide_Studies and the G_S Media File. All it takes is an email to


"Top US Jewish Group Recognises Genocide of 1.5 Million Armenians"
By Donald Macintyre
The Independent, 25 August 2007
"The Anti-Defamation League, a leading US-based Jewish organisation, has for the first time -- and with some reluctance -- recognised the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks between 1915 and 1917 as genocide. It did so under pressure from some American Jewish communities, including those in areas where there are Armenian populations, and against a background of attempts to push a new bill through Congress to force the United States to recognise the genocide. Like Israel, the US does not officially acknowledge it. Abe Foxman, the director of ADL, which had previously been reluctant to inflame Turkey by recognising the genocide, said that he had taken the decision after consulting the Jewish Nobel Prize-winning author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. As a result, Israel has come under increasingly heavy diplomatic pressure from the Turkish government to help reverse the decision. The Turkish Foreign minister and the presidential candidate Abdullah Gul registered his 'anger and disappointment' at a meeting in Ankara with Israel's ambassador, Pinhas Avivi. Foreign ministry sources described this meeting to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz as 'shrill.' Despite pressure from some Israeli intellectuals and scholars of the Jewish Holocaust as well from the small Armenian community here, Israel has refrained from officially recognising the massacres to avoid rupturing its strong diplomatic relations with Turkey. Mr. Gul reportedly told the Israeli ambassador that Turkey knew Israel was not responsible for the ADL decision but believed Israel could have done something to prevent it. Mr. Avivi is said to have replied that Israel's position had not changed, that it was not taking sides and was urging a 'dialogue' between the parties 'to clarify and investigate the matter.' [...]"


"New Highway Bogs Down In Bitterly Divided Bosnia"
By Jonathan Finer
The Washington Post, 1 September 2007 [Registration Required]
"In a country where most roads are so narrow and winding that passing means playing the odds, the four-lane stretch of asphalt north of Sarajevo was supposed to be Bosnia's fast track to the future, part of a 210-mile superhighway linking Budapest to the Adriatic Sea. Instead, the $5 billion project, launched in 2002, has become a symbol of Bosnia's inability to overcome its acrimonious past. Construction has stalled, with only 12 paved miles open for travel even as neighboring countries near completion of their adjoining routes. Some newspapers here have sarcastically referred to it by the local word for toilet, which sounds like the highway's name. Obstructing the project are lingering forms of the same ethnic divides that fueled three years of civil war in the 1990s. Muslim and ethnic Croat officials in the national government in Sarajevo contend that major undertakings such as Bosnia's largest-ever public works project should be coordinated from the capital. But the Serb minority, which tried to secede during the war and today only grudgingly accepts being part of the country, fights almost all forms of national authority. Serb leaders have yet to allow construction to begin on segments in the zone of the country that they dominate, saying that road building should be a local responsibility. [...]"
[n.b. A fascinating article for those of us who attended the International Association of Genocide Scholars gathering in Bosnia & Herzegovina in July. Through experiences like that of travelling through Serb-controlled territory to attend the Srebrenica Massacre commemoration ceremony, or visiting Mostar with its strict divide between Croat and Muslim sides of the river, we were made acutely aware of the lingering divisions. Link to photos of the Bosnia travels, including the Srebrenica commemorations (warning: includes, in the final gallery, imagery of a mass grave exhumation near Srebrenica).]


"Chile Ex-General Jailed for Life"
By Daniel Schweimler
BBC Online, 29 August 2007
"Chile's Supreme Court has confirmed the life sentence handed down to a former general for his part in the murder of 12 opponents of Augusto Pinochet. Hugo Salas Wenzel is the first such senior military officer to receive a life term for human rights violations. Wenzel was the head of the intelligence service, the National Information Centre, which carried out the killings. The young rebels had taken part in the failed attempt to assassinate the ex-military leader in September 1986. The military said at the time that the members of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front had died in gun battles with the security forces. A later investigation found they had been detained and shot in cold blood. Hugo Salas Wenzel is the first senior member of Augusto Pinochet's military government to be given a life sentence for human rights abuses committed between 1973 and 1990. The court also increased the sentences of several other agents involved in the killings, known as Operation Albania. The Chilean authorities last year awarded $570,000 (£285,000) in compensation to each of the victims' families. Thousands of supporters of the previous government were killed, tortured or forced into exile during Gen. Pinochet's 1973-1990 military rule."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]


"Danes Say Sorry for Viking Raids on Ireland"
By Owen Boycott
The Guardian, 16 August 2007
"More than 1,200 years ago hordes of bloodthirsty Viking raiders descended on Ireland, pillaging monasteries and massacring the inhabitants. Yesterday, one of their more mild-mannered descendants stepped ashore to apologise. The Danish culture minister, Brian Mikkelson, who was in Dublin to participate in celebrations marking the arrival of a replica Norse longboat, apologised for the invasion and destruction inflicted. 'In Denmark we are certainly proud of this ship, but we are not proud of the damages to the people of Ireland that followed in the footsteps of the Vikings,' Mr. Mikkelson declared in his welcoming speech delivered on the dockside at the river Liffey. 'But the warmth and friendliness with which you greet us today and the Viking ship show us that, luckily, it has all been forgiven.' ... The first Viking raiding parties arrived in Ireland in 795, targeting wealthy monasteries on outlying islands such as Rathlin, County Antrim and Inishmurray, County Sligo. By 841, Vikings were over-wintering in fortified settlements such as Dublin, Wexford and Waterford and over the next two centuries these cities were gradually absorbed into local Irish kingdoms. [...]"
[n.b. 1,200 years! That must be a record for a formal apology.]


"French Troops 'Raped Girls during Rwanda Genocide'"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 31 August 2007
"French soldiers stationed in Rwanda during the genocide in 1994 have been accused of 'widespread rape' by a Rwandan commission investigating France's role during the conflict. The commission, which is due to publish its final report in October, will also provide fresh evidence that French soldiers trained the Interahamwe, the extremist Hutu militia responsible for most of the killing, and even provided them with weapons. The allegations threaten to plunge relations between Rwanda and its former colonial master to a new low. It could also lead to Rwanda seeking reparations from France at the International Court of Justice. ... France's support for the genocidal Rwandan regime -- both before and during the slaughter -- has been well documented, but the new report sheds some light on the extent of that backing. In particular, it provides the first evidence that French soldiers sent to Rwanda during the genocide as part of a UN-mandated force to protect civilians carried out 'widespread rape' of genocide survivors. Jean Paul Kimonyo, one of the commissioners, said: 'They were asking for Tutsis -- not women -- Tutsis.' The commission was established by the Rwandan president Paul Kagame in April last year and is headed by a former minister of justice. France has accused the commission of being little more than a kangaroo court and when the seven commissioners visited France earlier this year, French authorities made it clear that they were not welcome. Dr. Kimonyo, himself a former press aide to Mr Kagame, said he initially shared some of those fears. 'The law which established the commission said France was guilty already. We were very uneasy about it. But the evidence is overwhelming.' [...]"


"Marines' Trials in Iraq Killings Are Withering"
By Paul von Zielbauer
The New York Times, 30 August 2007
"Last December, when the Marine Corps charged four infantrymen with killing Iraqi civilians in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005, the allegation was as dark as it was devastating: after a roadside bomb had killed their buddy, a group of marines rampaged through nearby homes, massacring 24 innocent people. In Iraq and in the United States, the killings were viewed as cold-blooded vengeance. After a perfunctory military investigation, Haditha was brushed aside, but once the details were disclosed, the killings became an ugly symbol of a difficult, demoralizing war. After a fuller investigation, the Marines promised to punish the guilty. But now, the prosecutions have faltered. Since May, charges against two infantrymen and a Marine officer have been dismissed, and dismissal has been recommended for murder charges against a third infantryman. Prosecutors were not able to prove even that the killings violated the American military code of justice. Now their final attempt to get a murder conviction is set to begin, with a military court hearing on Thursday for Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, the last marine still facing that charge. He is accused of killing 18 Iraqis, including several women and children, after the attack on his convoy. If the legal problems that have thwarted the prosecutors in other cases are repeated this time, there is a possibility that no marine will be convicted for what happened in Haditha. [...]"

"Bombing of Iraqi Sect 'Almost Genocide'"

Associated Press dispatch in the Chicago Sun-Times, 16 August 2007
"Rescuers used bare hands Wednesday to claw through houses shattered by bombings that killed at least 250 and possibly as many as 500 members of an ancient religious sect in the deadliest attack of the Iraq war. The U.S. military blamed al-Qaida in Iraq, and an American called the assault 'act of ethnic cleansing.' The victims of Tuesday night's coordinated attack by four suicide bombers were Yazidis, a small Kurdish-speaking sect that has been targeted by Muslim extremists who consider its members to be blasphemers. 'This is an act of ethnic cleansing, if you will, almost genocide,' Army Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon said. He said that was evident from the fact Yazidis live in a remote part of Ninevah province that has been far from Iraq's conflict."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

"Yazidis Fear Annihilation after Iraq Bombings"
By Peter Graff
Reuters dispatch on Yahoo! News, 16 August 2007
"Angry members of a minority sect in Iraq said on Thursday they feared annihilation after scores were killed in possibly the worst suicide bomb attack of the four-year conflict. Frail clay houses in the centre of Kahtaniya, one of two villages targeted on Tuesday by garbage trucks packed with explosives, were flattened for several blocks. Chunks of concrete and twisted aluminum lay in the street beside the destroyed homes of hundreds of Yazidis, a minority sect regarded by Sunni militants as infidels. Estimates of the death toll varied from 175 to 500. 'Their aim is to annihilate us, to create trouble and kill all the Yazidis because we are not Muslims,' said Abu Saeed, a grey-bearded old man in Kahtaniya. Saeed told Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih, who made a short tour of the devastated area, that 51 members of his extended family had been killed. About 100 angry Yazidi men gathered as Salih met local officials. 'It's like a nuclear site, the site of a nuclear bomb,' Salih, a Kurd, told Reuters. [...]"

"At Least 200 People Killed in Truck Bomb Attacks"
By Megan Greenwell and Dlovan Brwari
The Washington Post, 15 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"At least 200 people were killed Tuesday night by four truck bombs in a massive coordinated attack against members of a small religious sect, the Yazidis, in northern Iraq, the Iraqi army said. The nearly simultaneous explosions, in three Yazidi communities near the town of Sinjar, added up to the deadliest attack in Iraq this year and one of the most lethal since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The Yazidis are an ancient group whose faith combines elements of many historical religions of the region. They worship a peacock archangel and are considered Satanists by some Muslims and Christians in Iraq, a characterization they reject. Yazidis largely live apart from other Iraqis, in villages near the Syrian border, to maintain religious purity, and they are forbidden to fraternize with other groups. Most Yazidis speak Kurdish but object to being called Kurds. Despite such isolation, tensions among the Yazidis, Muslim Kurds and Arab groups in northern Iraq have led to increasingly violent incidents. In April, a 17-year-old Yazidi girl was stoned to death after she eloped with a Sunni Muslim man and converted to Islam. Cellphone video footage of her death, called an 'honor killing' by other Yazidis, was broadcast widely on the Internet, setting off a wave of attacks against the group. Two weeks later, 23 Yazidi factory workers were dragged off a bus and executed in Mosul in apparent retaliation for the teenager's death. Police attributed the attack to the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. No one asserted responsibility for Tuesday's bombings. Khairi Bozani, a Yazidi who lives in Sinjar, called them the most recent step in a campaign by other Iraqi groups to drive Yazidis out of the country. 'They are trying to finish the Yazidis,' Bozani said. 'If the girl hadn't been killed, they would have found another excuse to attack us.' [...]"


"Decades After War Trials, Japan Still Honors a Dissenting Judge"
By Norimitsu Onishi
The New York Times, 31 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"An Indian judge, remembered by fewer and fewer of his own countrymen 40 years after his death, is still big in Japan. Among the memorials at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo is a monument to Judge Radhabinod Pal of India. In recent weeks alone, NHK, the public broadcaster, devoted 55 minutes of prime time to his life, and a scholar came out with a 309-page book exploring his thinking and its impact on Japan. Capping it all, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, during a visit to India last week, paid tribute to him in a speech to the Indian Parliament in New Delhi and then traveled to Calcutta to meet the judge’s 81-year-old son. A monument to the judge -- erected two years ago at the Yasukuni Shrine, the memorial to Japan's war dead and a rallying point for Japanese nationalists -- provides a clue to his identity: Radhabinod Pal, the only one out of 11 Allied justices who handed down a not guilty verdict for Japan's top wartime leaders at the post-World War II International Military Tribunal for the Far East, or the Tokyo trials. 'Justice Pal is highly respected even today by many Japanese for the noble spirit of courage he exhibited during the International Military Tribunal for the Far East,' Mr. Abe told the Indian Parliament. Indeed, many of postwar Japan’s nationalist leaders and thinkers have long upheld Judge Pal as a hero, seizing on -- and often distorting -- his dissenting opinion at the Tokyo trials to argue that Japan did not wage a war of aggression in Asia but one of self-defense and liberation. As nationalist politicians like Mr. Abe have gained power in recent years, and as like-minded academics and journalists have pushed forward a revisionist view of Japan’s wartime history, Judge Pal has stepped back into the spotlight, where he remains a touchstone of the culture wars surrounding the Tokyo trials. [...]"

"Japan's Leader Shuns Controversial War Shrine"
By Miwa Suzuki
The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2007
"Japan yesterday expressed remorse for past atrocities on the anniversary of its World War II surrender as its leaders stayed away from a shrine at the centre of friction with neighbouring countries. Sixty-two years after Japan capitulated, the Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, vowed his country would never return to war. Japan 'caused tremendous damage and suffering to many countries, especially in Asian nations,' Mr. Abe said, using identical language to previous statements by Japanese leaders. 'Representing the people of Japan, I, with deep remorse, offer my condolences to the people victimised,' he told an audience that included Emperor Akihito. The emperor's father, Hirohito, who was revered as divine and had never spoken to the public before, went on the radio on August 15, 1945, to announce Japan had to 'bear the unbearable' and surrender as its cities lay in ruins, two of them obliterated by US nuclear bombs. Passions about the war still run high in Asia, with many Chinese and Koreans resentful over Japanese atrocities on their soil. Mr. Abe, the grandson of a World War II cabinet minister, is known for his conservative views on history and speaks sparingly about Japan's past wrongdoing. But languishing politically due to domestic scandals, Mr Abe has cited improved relations with China and South Korea as a key achievement of his government. He stayed away from the Yasukuni shrine, which honours war dead and war criminals alike and has been a source of constant friction with neighbouring states. Last year Junichiro Koizumi became the first prime minister in 21 years to visit the Shinto shrine in Tokyo on the sensitive surrender anniversary, setting off protests by China and South Korea. [...]"


"Skinhead Violence Rising in Russia"

By Alexander Zaitchik & Mark Ames
The Nation, 29 August 2007
"[...] According to Sova, a Moscow-based organization that tracks hate crimes in Russia, the recent executions push the number of race murders to more than forty. This is twice the number of race murders at this point last year. To give another example of how racial violence has grown, as late as November 2001, the Moscow branch of the Anti-Defamation League estimated that there had been a total of twenty killings by skinheads in recent years. Along with targeting dark-skinned people from Central Asia and the Caucasus, Russia's neo-Nazis have increased their assaults on Russian antifascists and other associated progressive activists. Last month, gangs of pipe-wielding skinheads attacked a peaceful antinuclear camp protesting in Angarsk, Siberia, resulting in the death of a 21-year-old environmental activist and a number of injuries requiring hospitalization. Some suspected that local authorities may have helped organize the attack, although others claim it was just another round in local skinhead versus AntiFa (antifascist) gang fights that ended up deadlier than usual. The big question here is whether the rise in skinhead violence is a strictly organic phenomenon or whether it is being manipulated or even encouraged from above. ... Going back to Yeltsin's and even Gorbachev's time, neo-Nazi organizations like Pamyat and Russian National Unity have been manipulated by (and in some cases invented by) Russian security organs to serve as convenient bogeymen who scare both the West and the local population into supporting the government in power. Others see a more insidious link between the spike in racist violence and the Kremlin. By fostering a xenophobic mood and passing increasingly harsh antiforeigner legislation, the Kremlin may allow skinheads to feel more comfortable, even justified, in their violence. [...]"

"Beheading and Shooting by Russian Neo-Nazis on Video"
By C.J. Chivers
The New York Times, 15 August 2007 [Registration Required]
"The Russian authorities said Tuesday that they were investigating a video recording of what appeared to be the grisly execution of two bound and gagged young men, filmed in a forest beneath a large Nazi flag. At least one of the men was beheaded on camera as he lay in a shallow grave. The video, which appeared Sunday on several Russian ultranationalist Web sites, circulated on the Internet with a note from a previously unknown organization calling itself the National-Socialist Party of Russia. The note announced that a 'military vanguard' had begun an armed struggle against 'black colonists and those who support them from the Russian government.' It demanded the expulsion from Russia of all Asians and people from the Caucasus and the granting of independence to all of Russia's internal republics in the Caucasus. ... Slightly less than three minutes long, the video begins with scenes of the countryside and the title 'Operation of the National-Socialist Party of Russia to Arrest and Execute Two Colonists From Dagestan and Tajikistan.' For a date, it gives only 2007. The video then shows two terrified dark-skinned men kneeling in the forest under a Nazi flag. Each speaks through a gag in accented Russian, saying only, 'We were arrested by National-Socialists.' One has been bound with heavy tape, the other with rope. One of their captors shouts, 'Glory to Russia!' and then lunges forward and decapitates one of the men with what appears to be a large knife. Heavy metal music plays throughout. Later, the second captive is shown kneeling, head lowered. The bolt of a gun is heard to slam closed. The prisoner is shot in the head and falls face down into a grave. The video ends with two men in camouflage uniforms and black masks giving the Nazi salute. The graphic scenes drew heavy traffic on Russian-language Web sites and prompted intensive commentary on Internet discussion groups. Many viewers, including those who identified themselves as nationalists, expressed horror and denounced the acts. [...]"
[n.b. If this is the start of a genocidal trend, expect it also to be a gendercidal one.]


"NATO Warns of a War in Kosovo"

By Nebi Qena
Associated Press dispatch, 14 August 2007
"NATO's commander in Kosovo said Tuesday that patience is running out in the volatile province and he warned of further deterioration if international envoys fail to persuade ethnic Albanians and Serbia to agree on its future. German Lt. Gen. Roland Kather, who commands over 16,000 troops in Kosovo, urged Western and Russian envoys to broker a deal between the independence seeking ethnic-Albanians and Serbia's officials or risk facing a violent backlash if no agreement is reached. 'Patience is not endless,' Kather said. 'They should come up with a decision as soon as possible.' Last week envoys from United States, the European Union and Russia launched a 120-day effort to end the impasse over Kosovo. The new effort follows Russia's threat to block a Western-backed plan to grant Kosovo internationally supervised independence in the U.N. Security Council. The diplomats are to report back to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon by Dec. 10. Kather said the situation was quiet in the province of some two million people but added it was 'unpredictable.' 'Certainly the situation will deteriorate after those 120 days,' Kather said. 'We have to do everything possible to keep it under control.' The delay in resolving Kosovo's political status has raised fears of renewed violence as the frustration among the majority ethnic Albanians grows in the absence of a decision over its future, eight years into U.N. and NATO administration. 'My main worry is that following some kind of ... political trouble, there will be some individuals, there will be some extremists, there will be some frustration,' Kather said. 'They need a fuse, and then they might come up with some violent actions. That of course, will cause a reaction ... and then suddenly this violence might run out of control,' he said. [...]"


"Mia Farrow's Exclusive Dispatch: I Am a Witness to Darfur's Suffering"

By Mia Farrow
The Independent, 27 August 2007
"[...] Incomprehensibly, it has now been more than four years since the killing began. Some experts believe half a million human beings have died thus far. Others bicker about the exact death toll -- as if it makes a shred of difference to how we must respond. Only the perpetrators dispute that hundreds of thousands of innocent men women and children have been killed, in ways that cannot be imagined or described. It is all the more appalling that we cannot know -- that no one is yet able to count the dead. And the dying continues. ... We look to world leaders and our own governments and see that they are mired in self-serving interests. What are we to do about this? I tell my children that 'with knowledge comes responsibility.' Yet our leaders do not reflect this at all. Most of us do not want innocent people to be slaughtered. Most of us wish others well and hope for a world in which all people everywhere can be safe. Yet, in the face of power and politics, we tend to feel overwhelmed, so we step aside and attend to our own business. The future of the world, if there is to be a future, surely lies in humility and in human responsibility. Let us draw strength and courage from the survivors of genocide and conviction from the voices of the dead. [...]"

"Death Rate Declines in Darfur"
By Edmund Sanders
The Los Angeles Times, 26 August 2007
"[...] At the peak of the Darfur crisis three years ago, health experts estimated that 6,000 to 10,000 people were losing their lives each month to disease, hunger and violence. Today, thanks to a drop in violence and improved healthcare, that figure is estimated at 100 to 600 a month, based on United Nations mortality estimates, news reports and interviews with U.N. officials, aid workers and Western diplomats. ... Those who have reviewed the U.N.'s weekly compilations say violence-related casualties this year have averaged 100 to 200 a month, with the largest number of recent deaths arising from inter-tribal clashes in southern Darfur. Overall, civilian casualties in Darfur were down 70% in the first half of 2007, compared with the same period last year, U.N. figures indicate. Officials emphasized, however, that even with the drop in fatalities, violence and insecurity in Darfur remain a problem. ... The overall decline in violence has led some aid officials and diplomats to raise questions about whether the conflict should still be characterized as genocide, a position held by the U.S. government and several international activist groups. 'The idea that thousands are still being killed by janjaweed is a myth,' said a Western diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public comments. 'The genocide happened. And it ended. To say otherwise is obscuring the reality of Darfur.' Darfur activist Eric Reeves, an English professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, agreed that fatalities probably are at the lowest level since the conflict started, but said that conditions remained tense and fatalities could increase quickly if fighting resumes or humanitarian groups withdraw. [...]"

"Photos Show Sudan Breaking Darfur Arms Ban"
By Steve Bloomfield
The Independent, 24 August 2007
"Sudan is continuing to deploy offensive military equipment, including attack helicopters, in Darfur in defiance of a UN arms embargo and numerous peace agreements, photographs obtained by Amnesty International show. The photographs show military equipment supplied by Russia at West Darfur's Geneina airport. A previous Amnesty report accused Russia and Sudan's key ally, China, of supplying military equipment that was used by the Sudanese armed forces in the troubled region. A comprehensive arms embargo has been in place in Darfur since March 2005, banning any deployment of military equipment and supplies into the region unless given prior approval by the UN Sanctions Committee on Sudan. Despite this, Sudan makes little attempt to hide its military might in Darfur. In Nyala earlier this year The Independent witnessed MiG fighters and helicopter gunships flying low over the camps of Kalma and Attash, where tens of thousands of Darfuris have sought refuge. The Sudanese armed forces are still carrying out offensive operations inside the province. Up to 2,000 government soldiers surrounded Kalma camp earlier this week to flush out rebels that Khartoum claimed were behind two recent attacks on police posts. Aerial attacks have also continued. Russian-built Antonov aircraft were used to attack the town of Adila in south Darfur on 2 August, and there have been bombing raids on nearby villages. The UN Security Council agreed last month to deploy 26,000 personnel to Darfur to protect civilians. But under pressure from China, the council watered down the resolution, withdrawing the right of the UN force to disarm the militants. [...]"

"Darfur Force Tainted by War Crimes Allegations"
By Julian Borger
The Guardian, 18 August 2007
"The deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Darfur was thrown into confusion yesterday by war crimes allegations against its proposed deputy commander. The United Democratic Force-Inkingi, A Rwandan opposition group, accused Major General Karenzi Karake of responsibility for carrying out political assassinations and ordering reprisal killings against Hutus in Rwanda and Zaire in the years after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, when he was the country's chief of military intelligence. The Rwandan government rejected the allegations as 'wild and unfounded.' According to a military spokesman, Major Jill Rutaremara, they represented an effort by those responsible for the genocide 'to tarnish Rwanda's image and to derail efforts at stabilising peace in Sudan. Such unfounded allegations should be treated with the contempt they deserve,' he said in a statement. Gen. Karake has been nominated as the deputy commander of a joint UN and African Union (AU) force established by a security council resolution engineered by Gordon Brown and French president Nicolas Sarkozy. The resolution, which was approved unanimously last month, was seen as the prime minister's first foreign policy success. A foreign office spokeswoman said that the appointment of force commanders was a job for the UN department of peacekeeping operations. But British officials are concerned that if there was any substance to the allegations it could discredit the Darfur mission. [...]"

"Darfur Betrayed"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 14 August 2007
"On August 1, Agence France Press in Paris reflected the international acclaim for a unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at finally doing something about the genocide in Darfur: 'UN resolution on Darfur wins global applause.' Even China -- Sudan's closest and most mutually profitable ally -- joined the long-debated resolution to send 26,000 predominantly African UN troops and police to deal with what British prime minister Gordon Brown told the UN general assembly is 'the greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today.' But in the not-so-fine print are the results of China's significant behind-the-scenes weakening of the resolution. (As a member of the Security Council, China has veto power over language that impedes its imperious designs.) Stripped from the original language was a threat by the UN to enact sanctions on General Omar al-Bashir's Khartoum government if it doesn't comply with the now largely toothless UN resolution 1769. Also tossed out was a condemnation of Sudan's persistent harassment and endangering of UN and other humanitarian operations.Interestingly, given Prime Minister Brown's statement regarding the horrors of the ongoing genocide, China was joined by Britain and France during the Security Council's negotiations to remove any mention of punishing Sudan if it chooses not to enforce any part of the resolution. [...]"


"Starving in Zimbabwe 'Amounts to Genocide'"
By Sebastien Berger
The Daily Telegraph, 21 August 2007
"Zimbabweans are starving to death on a scale equivalent to genocide, a top opposition MP claimed yesterday. Four million people will need food aid by the end of the year, the World Food Programme said earlier this month, as President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF government oversees the fastest-shrinking economy in the world. David Coltart, a senior member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, said there was 'no doubt' Zimbabweans were already starving to death. 'Arguably this is the world's greatest humanitarian crisis,' he told The Daily Telegraph. 'Zimbabwe has the lowest life expectancy in the world: 34 for women and 37 for men.' Mr. Mugabe's mismanagement, which has also seen basic supplies disappear from shop shelves after it imposed price controls, made him culpable, he said. 'To use a legal term, I would say this amounts to genocide with constructive intent. In terms of a complete disregard for the plight of people, not caring whether there is wholesale loss of life, it amounts to genocide.' [...]"
[n.b. Thanks to Jo Jones for bringing this source to my attention.]

"Zimbabwe's Silent Genocide"
By Christina Lamb
The Sunday Times, 8 July 2007
"[...] Amid the breakdown of society -- 20-hour power cuts, water shortages, collapse of the phone system — nobody I ask, whether government official, diplomat or aid worker, has any idea what the population of Zimbabwe is any more. 'That's the $25m question,' says a US diplomat, suggesting the figure may be as low as 8m, instead of the 12m usually cited. In 15 years, life expectancy has fallen to 34 years for women and 37 for men, by far the lowest in the world. What some call a silent genocide has left Zimbabwe with more orphans than anywhere else in the world -- 1.4m according to Unicef. ... Nobody knows how many have died of hunger. But doctors in Zimbabwe say the population's chronic malnutrition, combined with HIV, leads to the onset of full-blown Aids far faster than anywhere else in Africa. ... There are other effects too. All the children I speak to are much older than their size would suggest, and a recent study found that more than one in three people in Harare suffers mental disorders. The main reasons were inability to find food and having belongings taken away by the authorities. Zimbabwe is not yielding photographs of children with stick limbs and flies on their mouths, the images we usually associate with famine in Africa. Something more sinister is under way, almost as if life were just draining out of the country. [...]"


"History Will Not Absolve Us"
By Nat Hentoff
The Village Voice, 28 August 2007
"If and when there's the equivalent of an international Nuremberg trial for the American perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Guantánamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and the CIA's secret prisons, there will be mounds of evidence available from documented international reports by human-rights organizations, including an arm of the European parliament -- as well as such deeply footnoted books as Stephen Grey's Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA Torture Program (St. Martin's Press) and Charlie Savage's just-published Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy (Little, Brown). While the Democratic Congress has yet to begin a serious investigation into what many European legislators already know about American war crimes, a particularly telling report by the International Committee of the Red Cross has been leaked that would surely figure prominently in such a potential Nuremberg trial. The Red Cross itself is bound to public silence concerning the results of its human-rights probes of prisons around the world -- or else governments wouldn't let them in. But The New Yorker's Jane Mayer has sources who have seen accounts of the Red Cross interviews with inmates formerly held in CIA secret prisons. In 'The Black Sites' (August 13, The New Yorker), Mayer also reveals the effect on our torturers of what they do -- on the orders of the president -- to 'protect American values.' ... On July 20, the Bush administration issued a new executive order authorizing the CIA to continue using these techniques -- without disclosing anything about them. If we, the people, are ultimately condemned by a world court for our complicity and silence in these war crimes, we can always try to echo those Germans who claimed not to know what Hitler and his enforcers were doing. But in Nazi Germany, people had no way of insisting on finding out what happened to their disappeared neighbors. We, however, have the right and the power to insist that Congress discover and reveal the details of the torture and other brutalities that the CIA has been inflicting in our name on terrorism suspects. [...]"


"China to Act on Gender Imbalance"
BBC Online, 25 August 2007
"The Chinese government says it is drafting new laws to tackle the growing gender imbalance caused by the widespread abortion of female foetuses. The practice is already banned, but new rules are expected to set out specific punishments for parents and doctors. China's Family Planning Association (CFPC) has revealed the extent of the imbalance -- in one city there are eight young boys for every five girls. Experts fear the phenomenon could have unpredictable social consequences. Some believe that with millions of men unable to find a wife, there could be risks of increasing anti-social and violent behaviour. China's one-child policy, and a traditional preference for male heirs, has led many couples to try to ensure that their single offspring is a boy. Some pay for illegal ultrasound tests to discover the sex of a foetus, and abort it if it is female. 'The root cause is traditional thinking that boys are better than girls, especially in poverty-stricken areas,' Song Jiang, a population expert at Beijing's Renmin University, told the Xinhua news agency. 'Those people expect boys to support the family.' On Friday it was revealed that the eastern city of Lianyungang had the most skewed population. Among children under four years old, there are 163.5 boys for every 100 girls. Ninety-nine cities had gender ratios higher than 125, state-run news agency Xinhua quoted the CFPA as saying in a report. The UN recommends a gender ratio of no more than 107."
[n.b. This is the complete text of the dispatch.]

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Genocide Scholars Conference & Srebrenica Ceremony, July 2007

From July 9 to 13, I participated in the Biennial Conference of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) held in Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina. Prior to the conference, I spent a few days in Mostar, still recovering from its shattering experience during the war and genocide of the 1990s. The Sarajevo conference took a day off on July 11 to observe the commemoration ceremonies for the Srebrenica massacre victims in Potocari, at the former UN base where the notorious gender-selective separations of men from women occurred. We were also shown the exhumation site of a mass grave of Srebrenica massacre victims. There are six galleries of photos posted to my website; be warned that the final one contains graphic images of the mass grave exhumation.

Romania Travels 2007

I spent the month of June travelling through the fascinating country of Romania. I now have 31 galleries of photos posted to my website. Enjoy!