Prevent Genocide International 

News Monitor for April 15-30, 2005
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.

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Freedom House 28 Apr 2005 www.freedomhouse.org PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Michael Goldfarb 212-514-8040 x12 UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION FURTHER UNDERMINED Re-election of Zimbabwe, Other Rights Abusing Regimes, Highlights Dire Need for Major Reform NEW YORK, April 28, 2005 -- The re-election of Zimbabwe to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights plainly underscores the urgent need for sweeping reform of the UN's human rights system, Freedom House said today. The government of Zimbabwe, despite ongoing, brutal repression of its citizens, was re-elected to a three-year term during voting Wednesday by the UN's Economic and Social Council, the governing body of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). "Once again, the already tattered credibility of the Commission on Human Rights has been severely compromised," said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. "The government of Zimbabwe under President Robert Mugabe ranks among the most egregious violators of human rights in the world. It has no place at the Commission's table, which should be reserved for governments that honor and respect their citizens," she said. For the last several years, the Mugabe government and its supporters have driven white farmers from their land, stifled dissent, and intimidated political opponents, often through brutal violence. Zimbabweans do not enjoy basic rights such as freedom of speech and assembly and they cannot change their government democratically. During parliamentary elections last month -- while the CHR was in session in Geneva -- the Zimbabwean government and its backers deliberately withheld food aid from supporters of the democratic opposition, arrested, jailed, and deported foreign journalists, and barred election observers from entering the country. The elections were widely judged by outside observers to be fraudulent and rigged by the government. Zimbabwe was not censured during the CHR's session, which concluded April 22. Similarly, condemnatory resolutions were not pursued against China, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia, over its brutal tactics in Chechnya.. Zimbabwe was not the only rights violating regime re-elected to the CHR; China and Venezuela also preserved their seats. More significantly, with the election of Cameroon and Azerbaijan, the total number of non-democratic governments on the CHR increased. Out of 53 member states, now 16 -- a full 30 percent -- are considered "Not Free" in Freedom House's annual "Freedom in the World" survey. There are 23 countries (43 percent) rated "Free" and 14 (26 percent) rated "Partly Free." The increased presence of human rights abusers on the CHR reinforces the importance of fundamentally overhauling the Commission and replacing it with a human rights council composed of members with admirable human rights records, as recommended recently by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. In an address before the Commission on April 7, he stated that rights violating regimes seek CHR membership in order to disrupt the Commission's proceedings and shield themselves from legitimate criticism. The UN's Africa regional group nominated Zimbabwe as a candidate. "Zimbabwe's re-election dramatically underscores the absence of democratic cohesion at the United Nations and the need for reform," said Ms. Windsor. "Democracies in each of the UN's regional groupings must support one another's candidacy for seats on important UN bodies. Foreign ministers currently gathered in Santiago, Chile for the Community of Democracies meeting should endorse the Secretary General's proposals, and their recently created UN Democracy Caucus should mobilize the UN's regional groups to ensure that democracies fill CHR slots," she said.



HRW 14 Apr 2005 [Partial text] Algeria: Amnesty Law Risks Legalizing Impunity for Crimes Against Humanity (New York, April 14, 2005) -- Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s proposal of a general amnesty for human rights abuses committed in the country’s brutal internal conflict may permanently deprive victims or their families of their right to truth, justice and reparation, a group of international human rights organizations warned today. The organizations include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Center for Transitional Justice, the International Commission of Jurists and the International Federation for Human Rights. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is proposing an amnesty law as a step towards “national reconciliation.” He has recently declared that he envisages a referendum on the law “as soon as the necessary conditions are satisfied.” So far, little is known about the terms of the proposed amnesty. No draft law has been made public, but official statements indicate that the law will grant exemption from prosecution to any member of an armed group, state-armed militia or the security forces for crimes committed in the course of the conflict, including serious human rights abuses. This proposal comes after years of failure by the Algerian authorities to investigate the human rights abuses committed during the internal conflict that began in 1992. This failure is all the more serious in light of the severity and magnitude of these abuses, some of which amount to crimes against humanity. In recent public statements, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has said that 200,000 people have been killed during the conflict. Tens of thousands are civilian men, women, and children who were killed in violent attacks. Thousands have been tortured in detention. Thousands more have “disappeared” after arrest by the security forces or have been abducted by armed groups and summarily executed by them. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the authorities have not taken action to clarify the circumstances of the crimes and bring the suspected perpetrators to justice, despite the tireless efforts of victims and their families to search for the truth and provide information to the judicial authorities in cases where complaints have been filed. In this context, a general amnesty would leave the legacy of the past unresolved and might permanently undermine future prospects for full human rights protection. It would prevent the truth about the crimes of the past from ever emerging in Algerian courts, and thus impede any chances of ensuring that justice and accountability become part of a transition to peace. . .


BBC 22 Apr 2005 New timetable for Burundi poll President Ndayizeye was supposed to step down on Friday African regional leaders have extended the mandate of Burundi's transitional president by four months and said elections must be held by 19 August. President Domitien Ndayizeye's term of office was due to end on Friday, which, under a peace deal, should have coincided with elections. The polls are supposed to end some 12 years of ethnic conflict. On Thursday, former rebels now part of a power-sharing government, urged the leaders not to let Mr Ndayizeye stay. They called him "an obstacle to peace". "The transitional period is extended to 26 August, national elections will be held not later than 19 August and the swearing in will be on the 26th," Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told reporters after the meeting of leader from east and central Africa. 'Distraction' "We have written to the mediators and to all the regional heads of state ahead of the Kampala summit, asking them not to extend Ndayizeye in his duties," the former rebel Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD) spokesman Karenga Ramadhani told AFP. Rebel attacks continue Correspondents say the call by the FDD has led to fears that the peace process may be in danger. On Thursday, two people were killed in clashes between the army and the only active rebel group near the capital, Bujumbura. The ethnic Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL) had offered to declare a ceasefire but army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said this was a "distraction", reports Reuters news agency. Some 250,000 people have been killed in Burundi's 12-year civil war, which saw Hutu rebels fighting for a greater share of power from the Tutsi minority which has traditionally ruled the country. Mr Ndayizeye is a Hutu but critics say he is a front for Tutsis who still wield the real power, through their domination of the military. Former Hutu rebels are being integrated into the army.

AFP 18 Apr 2005 Burundi moves Rwandans fearing genocide charges away from common border BUJUMBURA, April 18 (AFP) - Burundi Monday began moving about 2,000 Rwandan refugees who fear prosecution on genocide charges at home away from the border between the two countries, sources said. "We have decided to move these asylum-seekers away from the frontier and rehouse them temporarily on two sites before their definitive transfer to Mishiha (in southwest Burundi)," Colonel Didace Nzikoruriho, responsible for refugee issues at the Burundian interior ministry, said. Last week local authorities identified 1,921 Rwandan refugees at two places within 10 kilometres (six miles) of the border. "Most of them say they are fleeing for fear of being put on trial before gacaca (pronounced "gachacha") courts for their possible role in the 1994 genocide but others say they are being enslaved by their (Tutsi) compatriots," a statement from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) said. In the 1994 genocide some 800,000 minority ethnic group Tutsis and moderate majority Hutus were massacred by extremist Hutus, before a Tutsi-dominated government took control. Trials opened nationwide in Rwanda in March in 12,000 gacaca courts designed to clear a backlog of genocide-related cases in Rwanda's overstretched regular judiciary, which has to date managed to try fewer than 10,000 suspects. The Rwandans in Burundi are being taken to sites 50 and 100 kilometres (30 and 60 miles) from the border. About 630 have been moved so far. So far they have not received any UN or non-governmental organisation aid though the UNHCR says at the request of the Burundian government it will provide emergency humanitarian help. "Everyone -- the Burundian government, the UNHCR, the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) -- everyone is in a delicate position," a Western diplomat who asked not to be named told AFP. "Rwanda is not all happy and has let it be known through diplomatic channels. It does not want these people welcomed as refugees." Burundi says it will not give asylum to people who took part in the genocide.


IRIN 29 Apr 2005 At least two students shot dead in university protests [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © YAOUNDE, 29 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Two university students have been shot dead in a clash with soldiers at Buea University in English-speaking western Cameroon, the government said on Friday. The deaths follow several days of protests at the English-speaking university in Cameroon's northwest province bordering Nigeria, and come as angry students at the country's largest university, Yaounde One, negotiate with officials to end 10 days of trouble there. In a statement read on state-run radio on Friday, Higher Education Minister Jacques Fame Ndongo appealed for calm and said President Paul Biya "has requested a judicial enquiry to establish the exact cause of the deaths." One of the students was shot in the head and the other hit in the chest. Both died instantly. Independent newspapers however said a third, female student had died of wounds sustained during the clash with police and paramilitary gendarmes. Thursday's protest was the second in two days at Buea University where protesters are demanding the suppression of annual school fees of 50,000 CFA francs (US $99) instituted in 1993 in all six state-run universities in the West African country. Striking students are also demanding more food and toilets. The clash occurred when students took to the streets to reach the office of the province's governor and hand in their complaints. Police and troops used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd, and independent newspaper reports say many students were injured and taken to hospital for treatment. Classes have been temporarily halted at Buea University. Meanwhile in Yaounde, student protesters were in negotiations with officials on Friday after strikes caused a 10-day stoppage of classes over demands for an end to fees and an improvement in academic and living conditions. The strike at Yaounde One has also spread to other institutes of higher learning, such as the teacher-training school Ecole Normale Superieure, the Ecole Nationale de Polytechnique and the Advanced School of Mass Communications (ASMAC). President Biya has ordered the government to disburse 2.4 billion CFA francs (US $4.7 million) to resolve the crisis at Yaounde One. But the higher education minister said at a news conference last week that the government could not simply suppress school fees given that the nation's financial situation was not that healthy. Minister Ndongo is scheduled to meet with student leaders of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of Cameroon University Students (ADDEC). But there are fears that student dissatisfaction could extend to other state-run universities and teaching institutions.

Côte d'Ivoire

IRIN 19 Apr 2005 Hundreds displaced by inter-ethnic violence in confidence zone 19 Apr 2005 17:46:15 GMT Source: IRIN BOLI, 19 April (IRIN) - An exchange of insults between two children of different ethnic groups mushroomed two days later into full-scale fighting between neighbours in this large village in the no-man's land between government and rebel lines in Cote d'Ivoire. Houses were burned, cattle were killed, several people received machete wounds and 1,000 members of the minority Dioula community in Boli last month trekked out to seek shelter in the rebel sector. UN peacekeepers were called to restore order, but took six hours to arrive from the rebel capital Bouake, 75 km to the north. President Laurent Gbagbo and the rebel forces occupying the north of Cote d'Ivoire may have agreed earlier this month to put a two-year-old peace agreement back on the rails, but the situation on the ground in many places remains tense. As in Boli, a village of 8,000 souls on the railway line from the port of Abidjan to Burkina Faso, Muslim northerners are all too readily seen as sympathisers with the rebel cause, while Christian southerners are identified with the pro-Gbagbo camp. The curious thing about the flare-up of violence in Boli on 30 March was that it took place in the Zone of Confidence, a demilitarised zone between the government and rebel frontlines where neither faction holds sway. UN and French peacekeepers that patrol the broad swathe of territory that keeps the two sides apart, are supposed to maintain security. "It started with name calling," said village chief Nana Paul Kouadio Yao, who comes from the Baoule tribe, to which most of Boli's inhabitants belong. "One of the Dioula youngsters starting making fun of a Baoule lad - a handicapped boy," he said. "News spread like wildfire, with each side saying they were the injured party until a couple of days later, Baoule from all the surrounding villages came here armed with traditional hunting guns, machetes and big sticks to settle the matter," Yao said. Initially around 1,000 members of the village's Dioula community were displaced. According to the UN World Food Programme (WFP), well over 400 of them remain lodged with family and friends elsewhere three weeks after the incident. Just over 200 fled to Bouake, and around 230 sought refuge in Raviart, 15 km up the road. Old tensions aggravated by war The Dioula are Muslims who originally came from the north of Cote d'Ivoire, the heartland of the rebellion, but many of those in Boli had been living there for generations. Yao, the village chief, played down suggestions that the feud between them and the local Baoule people had anything to do with the war. "It had nothing to do with the political situation in the country - it was the same in the 1950s when I was a youngster," he explained. However, long-standing ethnic tensions at a local level have been exacerbated since the civil war erupted in September 2002, particularly in the south. There, people of northern origin and immigrants from other West African countries have suffered frequent persecution, sometimes at the hands of their neighbours, at other times by the security forces and pro-Gbagbo militia groups. Hate campaigns on radio, television and in the Abidjan daily newspapers have only served to deepen the existing mistrust. In Boli, scores of Dioula homes were burned down and because the Dioula are traders, the market was set alight too. "When they came with their hunting guns and clubs, I left my shop and ran and hid in another part of the village," said Lassina Zourme. As he sat by charred remains of his general store where he sold everything from soap to canned food and cement, Zourme predicted that the market was unlikely to reopen, since many Dioula people were too frightened to return to the village. "Lots of people left and they haven't come back - they had their houses and shops badly burned and smashed up so they're scared. My mother left. She's staying in Bouake, but I had nowhere to go," he told IRIN. "It's not easy - not because it's dangerous - but because I have no income," he said. "I am married, I have a wife and two little girls. We have to rely on the help of others to get by." WFP has donated a month of dry rations - oil, beans, maize, salt and vitamin biscuits - to every displaced adult. "We are helping the displaced and a lot of people who stayed behind as they lost their harvest in the attack," said Mamadou Diarra, logistics assistant at WFP Bouake. The white-robed elderly chief of the Dioula community in Boli, Baboukary Traore, said the Baoule attackers also targeted the mosque. "Take a look!" They smashed the door of the mosque and broke things inside," he said, standing in the remains of his own burned-down compound. Road of no return Soumauka Sylla, a Dioula cotton farmer, is among those who left Boli. He fled with his three wives and eight children to Raviart, three hours walk away, and vowed never to return. "I brought the whole family - even that dog there!" he said with a nod in the direction of a dirty mongrel lazing in the sticky afternoon heat. "What else can you do when everything is burned - the clothes you wear, the place you sleep, where you eat and with children too? No. I can't go back," said Sylla, who explained that he had lost his cotton crop as well as all his money and belongings. "They killed two of our community's cows - full grown ones too, worth about 250,000 CFA (around US $500) a piece. We clubbed together and bought them as a cooperative, we've got 35 left which we've brought with us." "If I build my house in Boli, they will smash it up again. So I'm building here in Raviart. I have connections here," said Sylla. He laid the blame for the violence squarely on Yao, the Baoule chief in Boli, saying that he called on people from the surrounding villages to carry out the attack. But Yao, a well-educated man with a smart cement house set among mango and banana trees, denied having any part in the affair. "I was out of town. If it hadn't been for my efforts to calm the situation upon my return it could have been much worse. I informed ONUCI (the UN peacekeeping force) of what was going on at 9 a.m. but they didn't get here until 3 p.m.," he said. "When I asked them why they took so long, they said it was because the road is bad but it is two hours, not six hours, from here to Bouake," said Yao. Help was slow in coming Sylla is also confused why help didn't arrive earlier. "There is a French base, right here in Raviart - just behind those houses over there," he said pointing up the hill. But the officer in charge of the French base, where 30 soldiers rotate on two-week cycles, explained that his unit was unable to intervene in Boli, since it had not received a request to do so from the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (ONUCI). "I was personally not on duty here at Raviart when the incident took place, but it is the case that we need a mandate from ONUCI before we can intervene in local affairs," Lieutenant Blanc told IRIN. "Of course we would not sit back and watch things happen before our eyes, but to have been able to assist in this case we would have needed a request from ONUCI. We did not get one." Back in Bouake, ONUCI section commander Major General Bezzani said that his forces got to the scene as soon as possible. "We were informed of the problem at 11.30 a.m. or 12 noon, something like that. It certainly was not 9 a.m. And as the road is bad, it took three hours for the military vehicles to get there," he said. "The problem is, there are always lots of rumours flying around and our job is to monitor the situation between FANCI [the government army] and the New Forces," he said. Yao, the Baoule chief of Boli, has urged all the Dioula villagers to return, promising that they will be safe. "All the problems have been solved. They should come back. We have more to gain by living together in harmony than we do by living separately," he said. He is looking for money to start rebuilding the village's burnt-out houses and shops. Zourme agreed with the chief that things would be better in Boli, if they could get over the events of last month, but for different reasons. "Since they burned down the market, you have to walk half an hour to get to the nearest shop," he complained. "And if you want some car parts you have to go all the way to Bouake." "There's all this rebuilding that needs doing and it used to be me that sold the cement. But they'll have to get that from Bouake now too," he said grumpily.

Reuters 20 Apr 2005 Ivory Coast polls feed cocoa farmers' fears By Ange Aboa GAGNOA, Ivory Coast, April 20 (Reuters) - Cocoa farmers in western Ivory Coast fear October polls will fan ethnic violence just as the main crop will be getting under way in a region where war has already deepened tribal rifts. Growers and industry players said some farmers were too scared to travel to the main towns, while others were reluctant to go into the bush and tend to their plantations for fear of attacks from ethnic rivals. Analysts said fear of attacks was already hindering the flow of mid-crop cocoa from the bush in some areas and cast a cloud over the 2005/06 main crop, due to start in October. "The land problems have not been sorted out properly and this means farmers are hesitant about going to the plantations," said Alexi Kouassi, from the Cora cooperative in Ouragahio, north of Gagnoa. "They are afraid of being attacked again." Ivory Coast, which has been split into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south since war started in 2002, is expected to hold presidential polls in six months, although political reforms to open the vote to all are still required. The west of the world's top cocoa grower has long been torn by tribal splits that predate the war and pit local plantation owners and villagers against outsiders from neighbouring countries or other parts of the country. "The foreigners are scared and don't deliver cocoa to the warehouses anymore," said Christophe Djedje, at the Coopraba cooperative in Bayota, 35 km (22 miles) north of Gagnoa. "And neither locals nor foreigners are going to the fields since the latest (violence) at the start of the year...they are scared and that means we have less cocoa," he told Reuters. Feuds over rich land have erupted into violence several times and the war has only served to make the fighting more bitter, with outsiders accused of backing the rebels, who mostly hail from northern Ivory Coast. LYING LOW IN TOWNS Many of the plantations around Gagnoa, which is the heartland of President Laurent Gbagbo's Bete ethnic group, are owned by people from other areas of Ivory Coast or immigrants from neighbouring countries. "We are scared about what might happen during the election campaign because the village youths still want to chase us from our fields and take them," said Aboude Karamoko, a farmer from the north of Ivory Coast who has five hectares north of Gagnoa. Local officials said clashes between locals and farmers from outside the area in January and February left more than 10 dead. The army has tried to calm things down but sporadic outbreaks of violence persist. "If there is no solution before the main crop, I'm going to stay in town because I'm scared of what might happen in the bush during the election campaign," said Karamoko, who is staying in Gagnoa at the moment with his wife and children. Amadou Kizerbo, a farmer from Burkina Faso, said he was hanging on in Ivory Coast in the hope of getting his seven hectare plantation back after being chased away by local youths. "Many of my compatriots have left because they are afraid, others want to go before the elections," he said. "I have stayed...because it's all I own. I don't know where to go to start a new life, so I'm waiting for it to calm down." A buyer for a major exporter in the main city Abidjan also said he was concerned about the election and so was trying to get his hands on as much cocoa as possible now. "There is a risk the farmers abandon their fields during the electoral campaign, which coincides with the period when plantations are being prepared for the main crop," he said. "The region is a tinderbox and no one can predict what will happen.".

Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo

IRIN 12 Apr 2005 Key Ituri militia group declares end to war [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN Thomas Lubanga, the arrested leader of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC). BUNIA, 14 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - The Union des patriotes Congolais (UPC), one of the major militia groups in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, announced on Wednesday an end to its insurrection in the district of Ituri. "All those who refuse to adhere to the disarmament process will now be regarded as outlaws," John Tinanzabo, UPC's secretary-general, said in Bunia, Ituri's largest town. He said the central government should now decide what to do with those he termed "armed gangsters", who remain outside the peace process. The UN Mission in the DRC, MONUC, had already given a 1 April deadline for all armed groups in the district to surrender their guns. One of the militia groups, the Forces armees du peuple congolais, headed by Jerome Kakavu-Bukande, sent the remaining 416 of its militiamen to a disarmament site in Mount Awa, northern Ituri, on Wednesday. The Congolese government said this was the last of fighters from this movement, effectively ending their war. While declaring an end to the UPC's war, Tinanzabo criticised the government for the continued detention of UPC leader Thomas Lubanga in Kinshasa, the nation's capital. "He was arrested illegally and we will employ peaceful means to gain his release, even if it takes 27 years as with Nelson Mandela of South Africa," he said. Lubanga was arrested in March following investigations into the killing of nine UN peacekeepers in February in Ituri. Other militia leaders were also arrested. They are Mandro Panga Kahwa of the coalition Parti pour l'unite la sauvegarde de l'integrite du Congo, Floribert Ndjabu of the Front des nationalistes et intergretionnistes and Germain Katanga of Forces de resistance patriotiques en Ituri. Warrants of arrest are also out for officials of Ituri's seven armed groups, accused of human rights violations. They include Bosco Taganda, the UPC's chief of staff and his aide. In addition, Tinanzabo was also arrested on Thursday - causing Bunia residents to demonstrate. Shop owners closed their premises and there was heavy police presence around the town's market to prevent looting. Bunia's state prosecutor, Thomas Fiama, ordered Tinanzabo's arrest in connection with the death, three years ago, of Bulamuzi Mangilyo, the chief of the collectives of Badira Andisoma and Nyakunde, some 45 km southwest of Bunia.

IRIN 14 Apr 2005 Militia group dismantled as 416 fighters surrender guns [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © UNDP A former combatant lays down his gun at a disarmament transit centre in Bunia, Ituri District. BUNIA, 14 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - The remaining 416 militiamen of the Forces armees du peuple congolais (FAPC) surrendered their guns to UN troops on Wednesday, effectively dismantling the movement and boosting efforts to pacify the troubled Ituri District in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). "The FAPC no longer exists. This movement is now history," Kwaje Duku, a Congolese army colonel heading the government-run National Disarmament Commission in Ituri, said. The militiamen, loyal to Jerome Kakwavu-Bukande, surrendered at Mount Awa, 25 km from Aru in northern Ituri. They can either enter the programme for disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) into civilian life or be integrated into the new national Congolese army. FAPC has already said 2,014 of its fighters have disarmed, among them 251 children. The adult fighters are being registered after which they will be sent to Aru and provided food aid and undergo four days of counselling in transit sites before choosing whether to integrate into the army or return to civilian life. However, rather than surrender, some fighters have fled, Elongi Mabe, an ex-combatant who surrendered at Mount Awa on Wednesday, said. "There are some recalcitrant people who refused to be disarmed," he said. "They are fleeing to Uganda and Sudan. Others have buried their weapons in the villages." Duku said these were isolated cases and the culprits would be considered as bandits. Meanwhile, at a news conference in Kinshasa, the nation's capital, the military chief of staff of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC), Col Jean-Francois Collot d' Escury, said on Wednesday the UN knew the fighters were fleeing or hiding and would hunt them down. "We are going to pursue them," Escury said. MONUC said by Wednesday a total of 10,020 ex-combatants, form various movements, had entered the DDR process in Ituri, leaving some 2,000 more to be disarmed. There are at least seven militia groups in Ituri. In Bunia, the main town in Ituri, a MONUC public information officer, Mohammad Abdul Wahab, said the disarmament programme would continue to accept militiamen even though MONUC's 1 April deadline to hand in guns had expired. Fighters below 18 years old were among those who presented themselves for disarmament at Mount Awa, although not all were combatants. They are considered as minors and as hostages of the militias, rather than "outlaws". Such children are now being referred to as "children associated with armed groups", not child soldiers. Typically, their non-combat tasks include cooking, acting as porters and, for the girls, being "wives" to older fighters. 0ne of them, Mama Safi, is a girl-mother who turned up at Mount Awa on Wednesday. She does not know the whereabouts of her child's father. "I have an orphan child, who was separated from his father during a raid by [UN] Nepalese troops," she said.

IRIN 20/04/2005 DRC: Who's who in Ituri - militia organisations, leaders IRIN [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] NAIROBI, 20 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues despite a peace agreement signed by Congolese parties in April 2003. Most former rebel groups in other parts of the country were party to the agreement but militia groups in the northeastern district of Ituri were not signatories. In 2004 seven of the Ituri groups signed a peace agreement with the transitional government, although some failed to disarm by the 1 April deadline set by the UN Mission in the DRC, known as MONUC. Now it seems that the government and its newly integrated army brigades are taking the fight to the militia and their leaders. IRIN looks at who is who among Ituri's militia. L'Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) - Union of Congolese Patriots: The UPC, a largely Hema organisation, was formed by Thomas Lubanga. It began operating in Bunia, Ituri District's main town, in July 2001, but only gained importance a year later. Lubanga set up the UPC after splitting from the formerly pro-Ugandan Rassemblement congolais pour la démocratie-Mouvement de libération (RCD-ML) - the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Liberation Movement - where he was a military commander and 'minister' of defence. The UPC is reportedly largely backed by politicians and business interests from the Hema ethnic group - one of the two largest in Ituri - and is divided into the clans of the northern (Gegere) and southern (Banyoro) Hema. The movement and its armed wing, the Front pour la réconciliation et paix - Front for Peace and Reconciliation - took control of most of Bunia before being forced out of the area by the Ugandan army on 6 March 2003. Tension between the UPC and Uganda - its original supporter - arose in late 2002 when the UPC demanded the immediate withdrawal of all remaining Ugandan troops from the DRC. The tension widened into a split on 6 January 2003, when the UPC formed an alliance with the Rwandan-backed RCD-Goma. In March 2003 anti-Lubangists in the UPC defected to Uganda, which was already supporting another Hema militia coalition opposed to Lubanga, the Parti pour l'unité et la sauvegarde de l'intégrité du Congo (PUSIC) - Party for Unity and Safeguarding of the Integrity of Congo. The UPC refused to sign the Ituri Cessation of Hostilities Agreement reached between rival governments, political, ethnic and militia groups on 14 May 2004. Thomas Lubanga had been arrested in March 2005, following an investigation into the killing of nine Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers in Ituri. The UPC's secretary-general, John Tinanzabo, was also arrested on 14 April 2005, a day after declaring that the party had officially renounced armed struggle. The UPC-Kisembo (UPC-K): This faction is led by Floribert Kisembo Bahemuka, who broke away from the Lubanga (UPC-L) group in December 2003. Kisembo had tried to unseat Lubanga but failed when most of the militia remained loyal to his rival. Although UPC-K was considered a minor armed group, Kisembo was appointed a general in the national army in 2005 under the reconciliation process of the Pretoria peace accords. Human Rights Watch has named Kisembo as one of five militia leaders accused of massacres and other serious war crimes in Ituri. The others are Lubanga, Jérôme Kakwavu, Bosco Taganda and Germain Katanga, who were also given generalships in the new unified army. Le Front des nationalistes et intégrationnistes (FNI) - Nationalist Integrationist Front: The FNI, led by Floribert Ndjabu Ngabu, draws most of its support from the Lendu ethnic group and is based in the Ituri towns of Rethy, some 100 km northeast of Bunia, and Kpandroma, 140 km north of Bunia. The military leader of the movement is Etienne Lona, who was arrested by security services in Kinshasa on 11 March 2005 for his group's alleged involvement in the killing of nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers in Ituri. Nabu was transferred to Makala Prison in Kinshasa. The Forces armées du peuple Congolais (FAPC) - The People's Armed Forces of Congo: Also known as the Union des congolais pour la démocratie-Forces armées du people congolais - Union of Congolese for Democracy-People's Armed Forces of Congo - headed by Jérôme Kakwavu-Bukande, who broke away from UPC in March 2003. The movement's headquarters is in Aru, some 300 km north of Bunia, from where it mostly controls Aru Territory and the area around Mahagi Territory. FAPC's ethnic composition is mixed, and it has reportedly formed alliances with other militia groups where and when convenient, including the FNI and, later, PUSIC. The FAPC's strength was thought to be around 4,000 fighters, who began surrendering their weapons on 6 March 2005 in Aru, with the aim of integrating into the national army. Le Parti pour l'unité et la sauvegarde de l'intégrité du congo (PUSIC) - Party for Unity and Safeguarding of the Integrity of Congo: Mandro Panga Kahwa, the former military chief of UPC, formed this Hema party in February 2003 after a dispute over leadership and military support with the UPC leader, Thomas Lubanga. PUSIC is dominated by a southern Hema group living near the Ugandan border and has close ties with the neighbouring country. Officially, PUSIC's leader was Floribert Kisembo but, according to African Security Review, Chief Mandro Panga Kahwa was really in control. Congolese judicial authorities, with the support of the UN peacekeepers of the Ituri Brigade, arrested Kahwa on 9 April 2005. Kahwa, 30, is chief of the Bahema Banywagi region north of Bunia. One of PUSIC's leaders, Ychali Gonza, was also promoted to general in the national army. PUSIC controls part of the Irumu and Djugu territories and the Lake Albert ports of Tchomia and Kasenyi. On 20 December 2004, PUSIC announced that Kisembo had been dismissed as its chairman in favour of Deo Pimbo, who had been the secretary-general. However, a week later, PUSIC militiamen stated categorically that they still considered Kisembo as their commander. Forces de resistance patriotiques en Ituri (FRPI)- Patriotic Resistance Front in Ituri: FRPI, led by Dr Adirodo, is a political party of the Ngiti, one of 18 distinct ethnic groups in Ituri. The party was established in November 2002 and is allied to the Front des nationalistes et integrationnistes (FNI) - Nationalist Integrationist Front - led by Floribert Ndjabu Ngabu. The alliance is aimed at bringing Ngiti militias and traditional leaders together to face the UPC. It supported Uganda's move to drive the UPC from Bunia in March 2003. Forces populaires pour la democratie au Congo (FPDC) - Popular Force for Democracy in Congo: This is an Alur and Lugbara political party. Its current leader, Thomas Unen Chen, was a former member of parliament in Zaire (as the Democratic Republic of Congo was formerly known). FPDC was formed in 2002, mostly by the Alur and Lugbara ethnic groups in the Aru and Mahagi areas of northern Ituri, with the aim of countering the UPC. The party has reportedly been supported by Uganda as part of the Front pour l'intégration et la paix en Ituri - FIPI (an offshoot of the UPC) coalition.

Congo, Republic of Congo

www.iol.co.za 23 Apr 2005 World ignores Congo's crisis - UN April 23 2005 at 03:04PM By David Lewis Kinkala, Congo - Less than three percent of funds needed to tackle a humanitarian emergency in the Republic of Congo have been received, highlighting the oil-producer's plight as a forgotten nation in crisis, the United Nations said. Congo's civil war officially ended in 1999 but sub-Saharan Africa's fourth biggest oil producer has no peacekeeping force and is struggling to disarm former rebels who continue to attack civilians in the Pool region, far from international eyes. "This is scandalous. We need to have a better response to this emergency," Aurelien Agbenonci, the head of the UN in Congo, told Reuters in an interview. - 'This place is a time bomb we need to defuse' "Of the nearly $22-million needed, just over 20 percent has been promised and under three percent has actually been given," he said. "This is a low-level conflict which appears not to interest people as there is neither war nor peace." Despite the official truce, clashes in 2002 and 2003 between government soldiers and the rebels, known as Ninjas, rocked the peace process and undermined a disarmament programme in the central African country of three million people. Thousands of Ninjas, named after ancient Japanese warriors glamourised by Hollywood, who have not been disarmed and are no longer part of a structured rebel movement roam around the Pool region west of the capital Brazzaville. Known for their trademark purple scarves and Rasta-style dreadlocks, the gunmen live off civilians and reguarly hijack the train that links the landlocked capital to the oil-producing coastal town of Pointe Noire. There are no international peacekeepers in Congo, a former French colony, and analysts say the government seems unwilling, or unable, to put an end to the attacks in Pool. The UN is due to open an office in Kinkala, a town at the heart of the Pool region, but Agbenonci said media attention on other conflicts around the world had taken its toll and the lack funds meant several aid agencies working in Pool may shut down. "I also know many aid workers who used to work here but who have ended up being pulled out and sent to Darfur. This is very symbolic of our problem," he said. According to the UN, thousands were killed during Congo's war - some put the toll as high as 10 000 - and 150 000 civilians fled the latest bout of violence in March 2003. Although Congo is rich in oil, Pool is an economic backwater where many schools have remained closed for up to eight years, there are few health facilities and the road to the coast has been reduced to deeply rutted paths cut into the red soil. Agbenonci said the humanitarian and economic woes of the region needed to be addressed to avoid reigniting the conflict. "The stability of the Pool is the stability of the whole of Congo but it doesn't seem to be a priority. There are no resources in Pool, just its people," he said. "There is a very free flow of weapons, so there is still a risk of rebellion." "This place is a time bomb we need to defuse."

Equatorial Guinea

IRIN 15 Apr 2005 Prisoners face death by starvation, says Amnesty [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © LIBREVILLE, 15 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - At least 70 prisoners being held in Equatorial Guinea’s notorious Black Beach prison outside the capital Malabo are facing death by starvation, Amnesty International said in a report this week. President Teodoro Obiang Nguema went on air to deny the allegation, saying on national radio that “although there are many prisoners incarcerated at Black Beach, they are well treated.” Amnesty said those most at risk in the former Spanish colony were dozens of political prisoners arrested last year who were being held without trial, and 15 foreign nationals who were deprived of contact with family and lawyers. Many were particularly at risk since they had been severely weakened by ill-treatment, torture and lack of adequate medical care for chronic illnesses, the London-based rights watchdog said in a statement. Among the prisoners are six Armenians and five South Africans convicted last November of preparing the ground for a mercenary invasion to overthrow Obiang. The former army officer has ruled the tiny oil-rich nation with an iron hand since he deposed and killed his uncle in a 1979 coup. Four Nigerians have also been held at Black Beach prison for several months without charge or trial and without their embassy being notified, Amnesty said. Prison officials reduced the daily food ration for inmates in December from a cup of rice to one or two bread rolls, but since the end of February “provision of any prison food at all has been sporadic,” the report said. “Unless immediate action is taken, many of those detained at Black Beach prison will die,” said Kolawole Olaniyan, the director of Amnesty's Africa programme. “Such near starvation, lack of medical attention and appalling prison conditions represent a scandalous failure by the Equatorial Guinea authorities to fulfil their most basic responsibilities under international law.” Both Amnesty and exiled opposition sources said prisoners often were dependent on food handed to prison guards by families. This made the situation all the more difficult for foreigners and for people from the mainland part of Equatorial Guinea, 200 km to the southeast, since they had no family nearby, Amnesty said. Black Beach is situated on Bioko, a mountainous volcanic island formally known as Fernando Poo, where the country's offshore oil industry is based. Amnesty said all prisoners were kept in their cells for 24 hours a day and that foreign detainees were held with their hands and legs cuffed at all times. The foreigners were handed sentences of between 14 and 34 years in jail in November for their alleged role in an abortive invasion by South African mercenaries. Their trial was slammed as unfair at the time by Amnesty and the London-based International Bar Association. Former South African soldier Nick du Toit, the alleged leader of the group, was the sole defendant to have initially confessed to a role in the conspiracy. He later said that his admission of guilt had been obtained by torture. Obiang, the present head of state, has been widely accused of corruption and human rights abuse during his 25-year rule of what used to be one of the world’s poorest nations. Equatorial Guinea now produces 350,000 barrels per day of oil and has become Africa’s third-biggest oil producer after Nigeria and Angola, but most of its 500,000 people still live in dire poverty. Although oil generates US $30,000 per year for every one of the Equatorial Guinea's 500,000 inhabitants - giving the country a gross domestic product per capita equivalent to that of Switzerland or Denmark - life expectancy remains low at 49 and less than half the population have access to clean drinking water, according the UN Human Development Index.


AP 25 Apr 2005 Minnesota becomes refuge for Ethiopian ethnic minority BY XIAO ZHANG MINNEAPOLIS - Abang Ojullu can't stop crying when she thinks of two of her brothers, killed by the Ethiopian military. Ochwor Ojulu calls relatives in his native Ethiopia every week to check on his brother, who has been jailed and tortured by the government for more than a year. Obang Okello worries whenever he thinks of his parents, forced to live in a shed they built under some trees after their home was taken by soldiers. All three are Anuak, an ethnic minority from western Ethiopia, and now live in Minnesota. They say their stories of family and friends being terrorized by the Ethiopian government are part of a larger picture outlined by a Human Rights Watch investigator last month. That report said Ethiopian troops have committed widespread killings, rapes and torture of the tribal Anuak population in the southwestern corner of the country since late 2003. Hundreds were killed and thousands driven from their homes after numerous attacks by soldiers and civilians from other ethnic groups, it said. The Ethiopian government has said it is committed to human rights. Having left families behind, some of the Anuak who came to the United States as refugees say they live in a constant state of worry as they hear news of more turmoil, and more killings, in their native land. "My life is very in fear and in pain," said Ojullu, 30, of Worthington, Minn. "I hurt a lot. But I don't say nothing about it. God knows about it." Neither Minnesota nor the federal government tracks the number of Anuak who have settled here, drawn by the same refugee resettlement infrastructure that has attracted large numbers of Hmong and Somalis. People in the Anuak community estimate that 1,500 Anuak live in the state, which is believed to have the largest concentration outside Africa, said Akway Cham, chairman of Minneapolis-based Anuak Community Association of North America. The newcomers have found jobs in the Twin Cities and across southern Minnesota, some on meatpacking production lines, some in nursing homes, some running their own businesses. Others are college students. Ojullu first landed in South Dakota in 1993. She moved to Minnesota three years later to work at a meatpacking plant before becoming a nurse assistant, and is raising a family of four. She said her mother, who remains in Ethiopia, told her of the fate of two of her brothers: killed by the Ethiopian military while walking in the street with her cousins about a year ago. The troops also went into her parents' house, broke its windows, took the furniture and hit her father, blinding him in one eye, she said. "It seemed like I'm dead, too, when I heard this," Ojullu said. For strength, she turned to her church, where leaders have seen growing numbers of Anuak in the pews. About 30 of the 400 members of Worthington Christian Reformed Church are Anuak, said the Rev. LeRoy Christoffels. Through potlucks and other church activities, longtime members have learned of the refugees' stories of suffering on a distant continent. "There's a lot of pastoral care that's needed by the people who are here because their lives are not only disrupted, and they keep getting word from Africa about their relatives' lives getting disrupted there," Christoffels said. The word "Anuak" means people who do everything together. Anuak refugees in Minnesota describe their native region of Gambella, Ethiopia, as a fertile land graced by four rivers. They farm -- sometimes planting three crops a year -- and fish, said Okello, chairman of Minneapolis-based Anuak Justice Council. The group was formed to raise awareness of the Anuak and encourage outside investigations. Okello, who came to the United States in 1997, has been telling his story for years to raise awareness. After fleeing a school at age 11 when it was set on fire, he walked barefoot to neighboring Kenya, a journey that took two months. He spent six years in a refugee camp there before migrating to the U.S. and finding his brother in Minnesota. Many Anuak in Minnesota have dramatic stories to tell. Ochwor Ojulu, whose brother remains jailed, said another brother was kidnapped by the military and killed. "Sometimes I wonder why the government did that," Ojulu said. He said he wants answers and a peaceful solution: "Violence cannot win."


IRIN 15 Apr 2005 Hundreds of refugees from Darfur trek to Ghana [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN Mubarak Alchek, whose amputed foot did not stop him trekking 3000 km from Darfur to Ghana ACCRA, 15 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Several hundred refugees from the civil war in Sudan's western Dafur region have trekked west for 3,000 km, crossing five international borders, to seek asylum in Ghana. They came into the spotlight for the first time this week when a group of 180 refugees from Darfur briefly occupied an unfinished building on the outskirts of the capital Accra. Most of them had arrived in Ghana in small groups since January. "I fled Dafur in May last year, after my village was attacked and completely destroyed," said 33-year-old farmer Omar Mubarak, who comes from Ambrow district near the town of Kutum. "Some of my family members were killed. I do not know where the rest are. I finally left Sudan in September, " he told IRIN. "I and my compatriots decided to come to Ghana because we hear it is peaceful here," Mubarak continued. "People claiming to be immigration authorities in the other countries have harassed us. In Togo, for instance, some Gendarmerie extorted monies from us." Mubarak said he was hassled by the local authorities in Nigeria, where he had initially hoped to stay, and he had deliberately passed through Benin and Togo, because he could not speak their official language, French. He and a few of the other Sudanese refugees who occupied the half-buillt offices of Ghana's National Bureau of Local Languages on Tuesday were able to speak halting English. But most of the refugees from Darfur who gathered there only spoke Arabic and local Sudanese languages. All gave harrowing accounts of their flight from Darfur before government officials and officials of the UN refugee agency UNHCR moved them on to the Ussher Fort, a colonial era fort on the coast of Accra, which functioned as a prison until 1993. The government said in a statement on Friday that they would remain there while their applications to stay in Ghana were processed. Mubarak Alchek, a 28-year-old man whose left foot was amputated after he was injured during an air raid on his village, said he left Sudan through Chad in January last year. Alachek said he hitched rides on horseback and rode on top of trucks carting goods through the countries he passed through. He finally arrived in Ghana on 11 April via Togo. "We need protection. We need food and medicine. We do not have money," his English-speaking friend Mubarak told IRIN. "Some of our people are sick, some have been mugged, we do not know anyone here and we are seeking asylum because we have no where to go," Before Mubarak and his compatriots came to the attention of the Ghanaian authorities by invading a government building, they had been living in the open without access to clean water and sanitation facilities. "We are facing an unusual situation because the group is so large. But together with the Ghana Refugee Board and the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), we have began moving them to a temporary camp," Jane Muigai, a protection officer of the UN refugee agency UNHCR told IRIN on Thursday. "We are giving them food and medical assistance. Depending on the authenticity of their claims, they shall remain at this temporary camp until we finally process and resettle them." she added. UNHCR officials said a further group of 200 refugees from Chad had already been granted refugee status in Ghana and had been settled at a camp in the west of the country. Ghanaian officials said it was is too early to say if there the influx of refugees from Darfur would continue on a large scale. "They do not come in bulk. All this time they have been coming in small groups," said Kwabena Asomaning, NADMO’s Chief Disaster Control Officer. Most of those who fled from Darfur since the conflict began there two years ago have remained at refugee camps in eastern Chad. A UNHCR headcount in March put the total number of Sudanese refugees there at 193,000. But conditions are tough in these overcrowded camps on the southern fringe of the Sahara desert, where food and water are often in short supply. Some of the refugees have obviously decided to move on further West in search of a better life. International relief workers fear a fresh exodus of refugees from Darfur into Chad if the conflict continues. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said earlier this week that it was making contingency plans for an extra 150,000 refugees from Darfur to flood across the border in the coming months in the fighting continued. According to UNHCR estimates, Ghana currently hosts about 48,000 refugees, most of whom are Liberians. Thousands of the Liberians have been going home since their country's 14-year civil war ended in August 2003, some spontaneously, others under the auspices of a UNHCR voluntary repartriation programme which began in October last year. There is still a Liberian refugee camp at Buduburam, 45 km west of Accra.


Daily Observer (Monrovia) 12 Apr 2005 liberianobserver.com 25 Years Later, Pain Still Lingers in Liberia; Liberians Are Still Suffering On the 25th anniversary of the coup that brought Samuel Kanyon Doe to power, Liberia is still in dire straits. Corruption is at an all time high and Liberians are still struggling to make ends meet. Daily Observer Editor-in-Chief, Rodney D. Sieh goes back in time in search of answers as to why Liberia has never been the same. By Rodney D. Sieh rsieh@liberianobserver.com On April 22nd 1980, 13 members of Tolbert's True Whig Party government were executed by firing squad. Monrovia, Liberia, April 12- It's been 25 years since Richard Tolbert last celebrated his birthday. The date on which he was born, April 12, has become a painful part of his life, since the last time he did have a celebration, in 1980. Tolbert was returning from a nightclub after celebrating his thirtieth birthday on a fateful day in 1980, when he realized something was going down. After realizing that a coup was in the works, Tolbert went into hiding. Richard's uncle, William, the 19th president of Liberia was shot and killed in the early morning hours of April 12, 1980, along with his seven-year-old son, Momo, who had ran to William's side, after he was shot by the soldiers who had staged a military coup, the first of its kind in the West Africa sub-region. The Executions Ten days later, on April 22, 1980, while hiding at a friend's house, somewhere in Monrovia, Richard was alerted by his host to come and watch what was unfolding on television -the public execution of his 70 year old Father, Frank, and his 12 colleagues, all of whom were members of the Tolbert administration. Richard had no idea that the last time he saw his father at a family home in Bentol, just on the outskirts of Monrovia would be his last. "I went to work as usual "across the bridge" at the Mesurado Fishing Complex where I was the General Manager. After work, I drove to Bentol ( the Tolbert family hometown, 25 miles from Monrovia) where I saw my Father (Senator Frank E. Tolbert) and his brother President William R. Tolbert for the last time as they walked around surveying the President's new home that was under construction, says Richard. "Later that evening, I returned to Monrovia and went out with some friends to Eddie Dunn's social spot on Broad Street called "Hibiscus", as April 12 is my birthday. I have never celebrated my birthday since then for the past 25 years," he says. It was only a few hours later that the rest of the world came to find out that seventeen non-commissioned officers, led by a 29-year-old Master Sargeant, Samuel Kanyon Doe, had seized control of Liberia, ending more than a century of rule by the Americo-Liberian elite who were descendants of former slaves who colonized the country in the nineteenth century. Corruption, brutality and coup plots Liberia, which only a few years earlier had been listed as the most peaceful country in Africa would never be the same after this day. Doe's reign was characterized by corruption and brutality, numerous coup attempts, countless imprisonments of his rivals and enemies and finally the eruption of a civil war on the Christmas Eve of 1989. Led by Charles Taylor, a former trusted aide of Doe, the war has to date claimed the lives of some 200,000 Liberian and forcing some 1.5 million others to be displaced. Doe was assassinated in Sept. 1990. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) negotiated with the government and the rebel factions and attempted to restore order, but the civil war raged on. By April 1996, factional fighting by the country's warlords had destroyed any last vestige of normalcy and civil society. The civil war finally ended in 1997. 'Night of Reflections Twenty five years after the events of April 12, the families of those executed are still searching for closure. Ten days from today, on April 22nd, they plan to hold simultaneous memorials in Liberia and the United States to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the executions. The requiem mass themed, "A Night of Reflection" in Gaithersburg, MD will be held on Friday, April 22nd at the First Baptist Church of Gaithersburg and followed by a memorial service in Gaithersburg, Maryland on Saturday April 23rd at the same church. A similar service is planned for Monrovia on Saturday April 23rd. "I watched these events unfold in horror, I felt within myself that this was the beginning of the end for Liberia, says Tolbert. "The end of reason. The only consolation I ever got from that day was learning later that my Father went to his death like the man he was - cursing his executioners," Tolbert says. The Fallen Among those executed were: Cyril Bright, was the Minister of Agriculture and a former Minister of Planning; Joseph F. Chesson, Sr, Minister of Justice; C. Cecil Dennis, Jr., Minister of Foreign Affairs; Richard A. Henries, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Charles King, Member of the House of Representatives; D. Franklin Neal, Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs; P.Clarence Parker II, Chairman National Investment Commission and Treasurer of the True Whig Party; James T. Phillips, former Minister of Finance, also former Minister of Agriculture; James A.A. Pierre, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Liberia; John W.F. Sherman, Minister of Commerce and Industry and the youngest among them; Frank J. Stewart, Sr., Director of the Budget, Frank E. Tolbert, Sr., President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, and E. Reginald Townsend, Chairman of the True Whig Party. former Minister of State for Presidential Affairs and former Director General of the Liberia Information Service. Eyeing Closure The families are hoping that the 25th anniversary services finally put to rest their memory of their relatives who were killed in 1980. "Speaking only for myself, I believe strongly as an African and Christian that it is our duty to honor our ancestors. As the Bible says in the Ten Commandments: "Honor thy Father and Thy Mother that it may be well with thee, and though mayest live long on earth," Tolbert says. Tolbert himself was not able to get out of Liberia for several months and then only by what he calls "Divine Deliverance " after being brutalized and briefly incarcerated at the Barclay Training Center, Post Stockade (BTC). "When the officer who incarcerated me as "his prisoner" came for me at midnight, a mysterious hand had delivered me from the prison. Although my experiences in hiding, in BTC and my eventual escape from Liberia were nothing compared to what happened to hundreds of others, it would probably make an interesting part of a novel or movie someday, he says. Band of plotters disbanded Today, since the famous "In the cause of the people, the struggle continues slogan by Doe, Africa's oldest republic remains a shadow of itself and is still struggling to find itself. The non-commissioned officers who staged the coup all died violent deaths. Over the years, the People's Redemption Council that came to liberate Liberians for nepotism and rampant corruption have all disintegrated. Nicholas Podier who became Speaker of the Interim-National Assembly was later dismissed and executed on the orders of Doe; Sergeant Thomas "strongman" Quiwonkpa ", became Commanding General of the Armed Forces of Liberia but was executed, dismembered, and allegedly cannibalized, after he led a foiled November 12, 1985 coup against Doe. Four other officers were also killed in the failed Quiwonkpa plot.; and Doe himself was executed on September 10, 1990 in the midst of the Liberian-civil war. Doe's arms were reportedly "battered, legs amputated, one eye poked out, and genitals severed." Thomas Weh Syen, the most radical of the group, was executed on August 14, 1981 for allegedly plotting to kill Doe; Weh-Syen was considered leader of the left wing of the PRC, which opposed close relations with the United States. Other original members of the council, Harrison Pennue; and Nelson Toe, who reportedly pulled the trigger that killed Tolbert on that fateful day also suffered similar fates and were either accused of plotting to kill Doe and executed or died under mysterious circumstances. The killing of Quiwonkpa stirred a nation-wide string of reprisals against the plotters, and the Gio people (Quiwonkpa's ethnic group) erupted into a national frenzy of executions, castrations, dismemberment of bodies, rapes, flogging, and imprisonment without trials. Between 500 to 1,000 Liberians were reportedly killed. For Richard Tolbert and all of the surviving family members of the 13 executed officials, the time for healing and reconciliation begins now. Following the disruption of business activities in Liberia in 1980, Richard Tolbert left for Wall Street where he has worked successfully for the past 20 years. From 1980-1998, he was a Vice President with Merrill Lynch. Currently, he is a Senior Vice President of PaineWebber Inc., one of America's largest investment houses and is responsible for developing international business, especially in Africa. As a practical manifestation of their desire for healing and reconciliation the families are launching a Scholarship Fund in the name of the April 22 Memorial Group which will be given out for education to needy Liberians throughout Liberia. "We have held memorials before on the anniversary of April 22, but felt it was especially important to hold a major service to honor our loved ones - and all those killed senselessly in Liberia - at this Quarter Centenary mark of their deaths. And pray that it will serve as a moment of reflection and reconciliation for all the Liberian people, Tolbert says.

Background: The Perspective Atlanta, Georgia 17 Mar 2005 www.theperspective.org The Unlawful and Wrongful Killing of 13 Liberians By Mohamedu F. Jones On April 18, 1967, Liberia signed the United Nations’ Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In 1976, after being ratified by the required 35 states, the Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights became international law. From that point on, Liberia was bound by international law to adhere to the Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as a member of the United Nations. This was the case even though Liberia did not actually ratify the Covenant until September 22, 2004. As of 1948, Liberia was also obliged under international law to secure the "universal and effective recognition and observance" of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On April 22, 1980, in violation of the domestic laws of Liberia and international law, 13 citizens of Liberia were murdered on a beach in Monrovia in broad daylight before large crowds of Liberians and foreigners. While the killings were called "executions," they were actually no more than cold-blooded political murders; no more than a public demonstration of total victory by those who had removed the constitutional government from power 10 days earlier: they wanted to show Liberians that they decided matters of life and death in the country now. Even if it had been proved "beyond a reasonable doubt" that any or all of these men had committed the criminal offenses associated with them, killing them would still be murder and in violation of domestic and international law. This is how the BBC described events of that day: "They were tied to stakes on a beach next to the army barracks in the capital, Monrovia, and shot. Journalists who had been taken to the barracks to watch the executions said they were cruel and messy. They said four men were forced to watch the others die before being shot themselves as there were only nine stakes. The 13 men had been accused of treason, corruption and violation of human rights. However, only four were condemned to death after their trial by a military tribunal." Even the four reportedly condemned to death by the military tribunal were unlawfully killed. Based on the information available to the public at the time (and nothing has been revealed since to change this fact) there was nothing disclosed that would validate the killings as lawful and in conformity with the laws of Liberia. The killings were clearly arbitrary and wrongful under the country’s laws. Offenses of treason and corruption were governed by domestic law: no laws in Liberia provided execution as the punishment for corruption and charging these men (government officials at the time of the military coup) with treason was clearly something out of "Animal Farm." They were also charged with "violations of human rights." Those who made the charges never even bothered to be specific – too much trouble. Perhaps they expected the world to salute them for acting against those who had allegedly violated the human rights of Liberians and thus applaud their deaths. They were in for a rude awakening! Under Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." The rights of these men to life as human beings were summarily violated on April 22, 1980. Article 10 of the Declaration provides: "Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him." In Article 11(1), the Universal Declaration proclaims: "Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense." Throughout the spectacle leading up to the killings, these 13 men were denied their human rights under international law. At Article 6 (1), the Universal Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states "Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life." Each of these 13 citizens of Liberia was arbitrarily deprived of his inherent right to life in violation of international law. For countries like Liberia that have the death penalty, the Covenant provides in part: "In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime … This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court." This provision of international law was also violated with the killings on the beach on April 22, 1980. Tens of thousands of Liberians have been murdered since then, and of course their deaths are no less unlawful and wrongful then those 13 men. What marks the murders of these 13 men is that they were killed by an official act of the government, supposedly acting under the color of law and in accordance with due process and in the name of the people of Liberia; they had proclaimed that they were acting in our name. These 13 murders were actually the first public act of the new military government following the coup. Because their killings were official acts, but nonetheless carried out in violation of Liberian and international law, Chairman Gyude Bryant, acting in his capacity as Head of State of the Republic of Liberia should officially declare their so-called "executions" unlawful and formally extend the nation’s apologies to them and their families in this 25th Year of their murders.

The Analyst (Monrovia) 28 Apr 2005 Taylor Plots Assassination Against Conteh Says Chief Prosecutor By Dino Mahtani Lagos The chief prosecutor of an UN-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone has accused Charles Taylor, exiled former Liberian president, of masterminding an assassination attempt on the president of neighboring Guinea in January this year. David Crane, a former US Defense Department lawyer, said he had evidence that Mr. Taylor backed the gunmen who fired on President Lansana Conté's convoy in Conakry, the Guinean capital. "His assassination attempt on Conté marks him as a true threat to international peace and security," Mr. Crane said. The Sierra Leone special court has already indicted Mr. Taylor on 17 counts of crimes against humanity for his role in supporting Sierra Leone's rebels in a war that caused tens of thousands of deaths. Mr. Taylor has yet to face trial. The warlord-turned-president was at the centre of more than a decade of conflict in Liberia that spilled into neighboring West African countries. He agreed to step down as Liberia's president in 2003 when Nigeria offered him asylum to prevent further bloodshed as rebels surrounded Monrovia, the Liberian capital. Regional analysts say Guinea is considered the weakest link in the chain of interlinked countries in West Africa that Mr. Taylor may be eyeing as a base for a new regional war. General Conté's health is a concern to those who fear a power vacuum if he dies. He has ruled Guinea since taking power in a coup in 1984. A recent report by Human Rights Watch documented detailed interviews in August last year with 60 former fighters from different conflicts in the region. It noted a third of them had been solicited by different recruiters to fight either for or against General Conté. A special court document obtained by the Financial Times alleges that Mr. Taylor, who escaped detention in the US in 1985, has also broken the terms of his asylum in Nigeria by traveling to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital, in February. There, the document alleges he met collaborators including Francis Galawulo, a Liberian lawyer who has recently announced his ambitions to contest Liberia's presidential elections slated for October. The document also alleges that Mr. Taylor's master plan includes toppling the government in Ivory Coast. Both Guinea and Ivory Coast backed Liberian rebel movements that conquered swathes of the largely forested country. Hardliners in the Ivory Coast government say Mr. Taylor and the government of Burkina Faso have supported Ivorian rebels in the west and the north of the country respectively. Analysts say Guinea, which has a third of the world's known bauxite reserves, would provide Mr. Taylor with ample resources to fund a new war chest. Mr. Taylor sustained his previous campaigns through the sales of timber and diamonds from Liberia and Sierra Leone. International investigators say he also laundered diamonds through al-Qaeda. The special court has been lobbying hard for Mr. Taylor to be handed over for trial, but the Nigerian government says it can only do this when an elected Liberian government asks Nigeria to extradite him. The Nigerian government said it would never have allowed Mr. Taylor to leave the port city of Calabar, where he is supposed to be held. "There is not a single iota of truth in that allegation," Remi Oyo, presidential spokeswoman, said. Ellen Is Best Fit For Presidency - Says American official A former chief of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), J. Brian Atwood, says Unity Party standard bearer Mrs. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is the best fit to become Liberia's next president in these critical times of great need for the country. Atwood made the remarks at an intellectual forum of the University of Minnesota, United States, under the theme, "The Role of Democratic Economic Accountability In Post-War Liberia - A Conversation with Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf" organized by the Liberian student assembly of the University of Minnesota in collaboration with the African-American & African Students Department of the University. The program brought together Liberians and Americans from different walks of life including the president of the Organization of Liberians in Minnesota, Wilfred Harris, former Information Minister and Transitional Legislative Speaker , Morris Dukuly, Former LPRC Managing Director, M. Tarnue Mawolo, Unity Party US National Chairman, Garyah Fahnbulleh, former ALCOP Youth Wing Chairman Abdulai Kiatamba, Wilfred Russel, a Liberian instructor of African studies in the University of Minesota, among many others. Addressing the gathering, former USAID boss who now serves as a professor of international affairs and dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Graduate Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minessota, observed that Liberia, like many African countries, has gone through a tragic period of national destruction which has devastated its social and economic infrastructure. He said the recovery of such level of massive dislocation and loss of international credibility requires a country to elect a leadership of the best kind. A dispatch from Minnesota quoted Mr. Atwood as saying that it was not his intention to get drawn to interfering in Liberia's politics. But he observed that having seen the "laundry list of candidates of 2005 elections," he had no doubt in his mind that Mrs. Sieleaf is best fit to be president of Liberia "in these times of need for the country. "I have seen the list of candidates; I've heard and talked to many of them; and it's easy for me to reach the conclusion that Ellen is most qualified to become president of them all," said Mr. Atwood, who also served as the US ambassador to neighboring La Cote d'Ivoire. He invoked thunderous laughter and applause when he said "For instance, I know both Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Winston Tubman, but knowing the two I just believe that Ellen can make a good president and Winston Tubman can definitely make a good Foreign Minister at this time." He then urged Liberians to choose carefully because as he put it, the international community does not have much patience for continuous errors. Mr. Atwood said as the boss of the United States premier international development agency and as a former chairman of the National Democratic Institute from 1986 to 1993, he has seen the toll wall and conflicts that have taken on the people of Africa and the third world. But the veteran American public servant observed that he has also seen examples of hope and recovery in those parts of the world. He pointed to the cases of Uganda and Ghana as examples of countries once devastated by wars, coups, national instability and economic mismanagement, but are now making the transition to democracy, economic prosperity and development through sound national leadership and good economic policies. The former chairman of the National Democratic Institute, who also served as the under secretary of State for Management and led the State Department Transition Team during the Clinton administration, described the Unity Party Standard bearer as "incorruptible." He said such character and leadership qualities were necessary requirements in the leaders of countries emerging out of crises in order to attract and restore donor confidence to their countries. The Hubert H. Humphrey Dean further explained to the audience that in carrying the development agenda for many African and third world countries, Mrs. Sirleaf has always been there with the international community trying to help these people restore credibility and achieve development goals, adding "development is her business and she knows what is needed to develop a country." "I have crossed the Oceans to go to Africa and other parts of the world to meet this woman helping other people. So it was not difficult for me to cross the Mississippi River to meet with her here in Minnesota today." Mr. Atwood further observed, "I remember flying with Ellen across Africa to meet the young Joseph Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo to fashion a way to help that country out of war and on the path to development. I remember working with her to address issues of genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath. I remember working with her on the World Bank projects for Africa. In all of these roles, she was outstanding. She is a good and smart woman, she has helped Africa. It's time Liberians see the wisdom and give her the chance to do for Liberia what she has done for other African countries," the US international public policy expert said.


The Namibian (Windhoek) 25 Apr 2005 Farm Massacre Case Postponed By Werner Menges Windhoek THE case against the three men who have been charged in connection with Namibia's largest mass murder since Independence was postponed for further investigations on Friday. The dock in the Magistrate's Court at Kalkrand was shared by self-admitted multiple killer Sylvester Beukes (20), his brother, Gavin Beukes (24), and Christiaan Justus Erasmus Jr (27), the son of the married couple that was among Sylvester Beukes's eight victims, when the three charged men appeared before Magistrate Alweendo Sebby Venatius on Friday morning. Proceedings were brief, with Public Prosecutor Boniface Konga only asking the Magistrate to postpone the case to May 30 for further investigation, with the Beukes brothers remanded in custody and Erasmus's bail extended until then. Erasmus Jr and the Beukes brothers have been charged with eight counts of murder, after eight people were shot dead at the farm Kareeboomkolk, which belonged to Erasmus's father, on March 5. Except for part-time farmer Justus Christiaan Erasmus Sr and his wife, Elzabé Erasmus, the foreman at the farm, Sonnyboy Swartbooi (35), his pregnant wife, Hilma Engelbrecht (32), their six-year-old daughter, Christina Engelbrecht, Settie Swartbooi (50), who was the foreman's brother, Deon Gertze (18), who was a brother of Hilma Engelbrecht, and the four-year-old Regina Gertze, who was also a daughter of Engelbrecht, were also killed in the massacre. At his and his brother's first court appearance after their arrest a day after the killings, Sylvester Beukes related that he had in essence executed the eight victims one after the other by shooting them with firearms that he had stolen from the farmhouse. The last to be killed, he claimed, was the foreman himself. Killed before him were Mr and Mrs Erasmus, who had been called to the farm when Beukes forced the farm foreman to phone them and summon them to the farm to assist with a supposed medical emergency. Sylvester Beukes claimed in the Mariental Magistrate's Court on March 9 that he had acted alone and that his brother was not involved in the massacre, although he was also present at Kareeboomkolk, situated some 50 kilometres south of Rehoboth, while the bloody events were unfolding. Beukes's explanation in court was that he was taking revenge against Mr Erasmus, who he felt had treated him unjustly in the past, when Beukes was employed by Erasmus. About a week and a half after his arrest, Beukes however added a stunning twist to his version of events. In a sworn statement to the Police, he then claimed that in fact the son of the slain Erasmus couple - Mr Erasmus's namesake, who is also known as "Shorty" - had asked him to kill the couple. It is understood that Beukes claimed in that statement that Erasmus Jr had promised him that he would be paid N$50 000 for the dirty deed once insurance policies of the Erasmus couple had been paid out after their deaths. Erasmus Jr was arrested on March 15. He was released on bail of N$20 000 on March 22.


News24 SA 25 Apr 2005 Land battles erupt in Nigeria Lagos - Nigerian authorities fear that scores of villagers have been killed in clashes between two communities over land rights in the southeast of the country, state and police officials said Monday. Violence erupted between the Ukelle community in Cross Rivers State and their neighbours, the Izzi people of Ebonyi State, on April 13 and continued over the weekend. Newspaper reports said more than 100 people were feared killed. "The fighting is in the bush, so it is difficult to say precisely how many have lost their lives. But scores might have died," Cross Rivers state spokesperson Dominic Kidzu said by telephone from the state capital, Calabar. He said many houses had been razed and property valued at millions of naira destroyed since fighting broke out over "ownership of farmland". "Right now, the governors of the two states and the traditional leaders of the warring communities are trying to broker a truce. They met in Calabar on Saturday and the communities have agreed to a ceasefire," he said. A police spokesperson in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi, confirmed there had been fighting. "As I am talking to you now, the commissioner of police has ordered police reinforcements to contain the fresh violence," he added. Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, home to more than 130 million people, and competition for land and resources between rival political, criminal and ethnic groups often boils over into violence. Thousands are killed every year in communal clashes and by the security forces, who do not hesitate to use lethal force to quell the fighting.

IRIN 26 Apr 2005 Dozens killed in southeast feud over farmland [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] PORT HARCOURT, 26 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Dozens of people died in clashes last week between two rival communities in southeastern Nigeria over ownership of prized farmland, residents and officials said Tuesday. More than 50 people were killed in the worst day of the violence last Thursday when fighters armed with machetes and rifles, believed to be from Cross River State, rampaged through a settlement of people across the border in neighbouring Ebonyi State, residents said. John Otu, Ebonyi commissioner for information, confirmed there were many deaths but said he could not give definite figures. He said a longstanding dispute over farming land flared up again last week, with retaliatory attacks culminating in Thursday’s mayhem. “The people are farmers and this is the farming season which often brings such conflicts,” Otu told IRIN. Ebonyi governor, Sam Egwu, on Saturday met his Cross River counterpart, Donald Duke, in an effort to calm rising tension in the area and stop the violence from spreading. Police officials said reinforcements had been sent to the area to prevent more fighting and Otu said no further violence has been reported between the two communities. Thousands of people have died in Nigeria in communal, ethnic and religious clashes often triggered by land disputes since the 1999 election of President Olusegun Obasanjo ended more than 15 years of repressive military rule.

Rwanda see USA (April 26)


washingtonpost.com 11 Apr 2005 Doing Better by Darfur Monday, April 11, 2005; Page A18 LAST JUNE Secretary of State Colin L. Powell visited Sudan in an attempt to stop the Darfur genocide. Sudan's government rewarded him with promises to rein in its allies in the Janjaweed death squads; to stop impeding humanitarian access to Darfur; and to open political talks with Darfur's rebels. None of these concessions worked. The promise to rein in the Janjaweed turned out to be hollow. The improvement in humanitarian access was real but incomplete and impermanent. Negotiations between the government and rebels have gone nowhere. The upshot of Mr. Powell's visit was that mass killing continued, and Darfur's death toll is likely to be even more appalling this year than last. This week it is the turn of Robert B. Zoellick, the new deputy at the State Department, to journey to Sudan. Mr. Zoellick is a forceful diplomat. In his previous job as President Bush's trade representative, he made progress that eluded his predecessors. He may therefore be tempted to believe that he can continue Mr. Powell's approach of extracting promises from Sudan's government and yet somehow succeed. But success is unlikely unless the administration absorbs the lessons of the past year and changes its strategy. Diplomatic pressure, which should be aimed primarily at getting a large peacekeeping force into Darfur, won't work unless it's supported by the threat of sanctions. And neither the sanctions threat nor the peacekeeping deployment will be credible unless the United States invests more political capital in Darfur than it has so far. After Mr. Powell's visit last year, the United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions threatening sanctions but then never followed through; this gave Sudan's rulers a green light to kill more people. The reason for the lack of follow-through was that the Bush administration made a conscious decision not to elevate Darfur's genocide to the top of its agenda. Mr. Bush did not place phone calls to the leaders of China and Russia to insist that they back tougher action, so both countries followed their commercial interests -- for China, Sudan is a source of oil; for Russia, it is an arms market. Partly at Mr. Zoellick's urging, Mr. Bush did recently phone Japan's prime minister to complain about beef regulation. Perhaps the president can also be persuaded to call members of the Security Council who resist sanctions on Sudan that might bring an end to genocide. After Mr. Powell's visit, too, ground was prepared for a small peace-monitoring deployment under the umbrella of the African Union. The presence of AU forces helped to reduce violence but only to a limited extent; 2,000 or so troops cannot monitor an area the size of France. As a result, villages have continued to be burned and their inhabitants forced into unsanitary and undersupplied camps for displaced people. A much bigger peacekeeping force is needed, but none has materialized -- again because the Bush administration has not invested the necessary effort in corralling other countries. The AU's leaders, notably the South Africans and the Nigerians, have been more interested in retaining a lead role in Darfur than in preventing genocide; they see their deployment as a sign that Africa can be responsible for its own problems, and they are reluctant to admit that a bigger deployment is needed, because that would imply accepting extra help from rich countries. In a better world, the United States would not have to lead on Darfur. Russia and China would support sanctions without being pressured; the African Union would be less prickly. American allies would show more interest in preventing genocide than in haggling over which court should try its perpetrators, as European supporters of the International Criminal Court have done recently. France, in particular, would use its military clout in the region to support the AU peacekeepers. Instead, when NATO's secretary general suggested using his organization's assets to support the AU mission, France resisted, apparently out of a desire to preserve its own status as chief military intervener in Africa. You face genocide in Sudan with the international partners you have, not the ones you might wish to have. If the United States does not lead on Darfur, nobody else is going to. Leadership means getting a much larger peacekeeping force into Darfur, so that attacks on civilians cease and humanitarian workers can reach all parts of the territory. To achieve that objective, Mr. Zoellick needs to break the collective paralysis by changing the way the Chinese, Russians, Europeans and Africans think; his most important mission is not this week's visit to Khartoum but future trips to Beijing, Moscow and so on. Mr. Zoellick must argue that nations calling themselves civilized cannot stand by while hundreds of thousands are massacred. He must ask America's partners to judge themselves not by whether they have made sympathetic gestures, nor even whether they have done "their share," but rather by the one standard that matters: Is the genocide continuing?

IRIN 14 Apr 2005 AU protects women from attacks in North Darfur camp [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © Displaced women in a North Darfur camp. NAIROBI, 14 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - African Union (AU) personnel in the western Sudanese state of North Darfur have started providing armed escorts for displaced women and girls to protect them from attacks, an AU official told IRIN on Wednesday. "The women from Abu Shouk IDP [internally displaced person] camp in North Darfur are escorted by AU soldiers once a week, when they venture outside the camp to collect firewood," said Justin Thundu, AU’s public information officer at El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur. Thundu said the AU considered these escorts an integral part of its protection mandate in Darfur. "Beside our daily patrols, it is one of the activities we carry out to promote confidence-building among the IDPs." "We haven’t heard of any harassment cases around Abu Shouk over the past weeks," Thundu added. "It has been a very successful exercise. We are doing it in a few other camps as well" However, Leslie Lefkow, a researcher for the Africa division of Human Rights Watch (HRW), and co-author of a new briefing paper on sexual violence in Darfur, told IRIN on Tuesday that the AU did not yet have the resources to extend such protection to the rest of the region. "This is a great interim solution that could be replicated across Darfur, but the AU does not have the capacity to do that at the moment," she said. In Lefkow’s report, released on Tuesday, HRW said women and girls who had fled the conflict in Darfur to live in IDP camps were continuing to suffer rape and sexual violence. It called for urgent protection for them. "Rape and sexual violence have been used to terrorise and uproot rural communities in Darfur," Peter Takirambudde, HRW Africa director, said in the brief. The report documented how Sudanese security forces - including police meant to protect IDPs and Janjawid militias allegedly aligned with the government - had continued to commit rape and sexual violence on a daily basis around the camps. It was not immediately possible to get a comment from the Sudanese government. According to Tuesday’s report, even women and girls in Chad, who had fled the violence in Darfur, continued to face the risk of rape and assault by civilians or militiamen when collecting water, fuel or animal fodder near the border. HRW said that as of February, only one of the six agencies that were providing health services in refugee camps in Chad had a protocol for rape which included the provision of emergency contraception, comprehensive treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV. "Donors urgently need to set up programmes to protect women and girls - and address the needs of those who have been raped," Takirambudde added, referring to the international donor conference on Sudan, which took place on Monday and Tuesday in Oslo, Norway. The Oslo conference raised US $4.5 billion for the reconstruction of Sudan, exceeding an initial target of $2.6 billion. In its report, HRW urged donors and humanitarian agencies to respond to the medical, psychological, social and economic consequences of sexual violence in the Darfur conflict. Entitled "Sexual violence and its consequences among displaced persons in Darfur and Chad", the report was based on personal accounts collected during a number of mission to the region over the past 14 months. "I can’t put an exact number to it, but we collected at least 300 testimonies, if not 400 or 500," Lefkow told IRIN. "Dozens and dozens of them involved sexual violence." HRW documented scores of cases, as recently as last month, of women being raped while travelling along rural roads in Darfur. Despite the existence of international standards for responding to sexual and gender-based violence, the report suggested that humanitarian agencies were not implementing these guidelines on a systematic basis in Darfur and Chad. The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias, allegedly allied to the government, against rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state. Over 2.4 million people have been affected by the conflict, 1.85 million of whom are internally displaced or have been forced to flee to neighbouring Chad.

Financial Times UK 14 Apr 2005 ft.com Zoellick reluctant to describe Darfur violence as genocide By Guy Dinmore in Khartoum Published: April 15 2005 03:00 | Last updated: April 15 2005 03:00 Robert Zoellick, US deputy secretary of state, yesterday put pressure on the Sudanese government to stop the violence in Darfur but backed away from the Bush administration's assertion that the mass killings and village burning amounted to genocide. Mr Zoellick is the first senior US official to travel to Khartoum since Congress was told last September that a long US inquiry had determined the Sudanese government and allied janjaweed militia were responsible for genocide in the western region. But at a press conference after meeting Ali Osman Taha, vice-president, Mr Zoellick was clearly unwilling to repeat that assertion. "I don't want to get into a debate over terminology," he said, when asked if the US believed genocide was still being committed in Darfur against mostly African villagers by Arab militia and their government backers. He said it was Colin Powell, the former secretary of state, who had "made the point" in his testimony to Congress. Nonetheless, Mr Zoellick did speak of "crimes against humanity", in line with the findings of a United Nations commission of inquiry. He said he had emphasised to the Sudanese government the need for accountability through sanctions and legal processes, referring to the UN resolution that sent the issue of Darfur to the International Criminal Court. Mr Zoellick, who is to make a quick visit to Darfur today, also proposed to the government that it start using its own courts and make the process transparent. Estimates of the numbers of dead from the conflict vary hugely. The Bush administration says 60,000-160,000 people have died from fighting, disease and famine. Aid organisations say the death toll is closer to 300,000. Whether to describe the violence in Darfur as genocide became a heated issue in Washington last year. Mr Powell was under intense domestic pressure, notably from Christian lobby groups, to reach the genocide definition. But some officials argued against, saying the debate over words was irrelevant and time-wasting.

Reuters 19 Apr 2005 UN fears war-crimes suspects behind Sudan attacks By Irwin Arieff UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Sudanese officials fearful of being tried for war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region may be behind a wave of attacks on international aid workers in the turbulent area, the United Nations said on Monday. Among the rash of attacks in March were three that stood out because they appeared aimed at harming or killing relief workers, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his monthly report to the Security Council on the situation in Darfur. A U.N. panel of experts drew up a list of 51 war crimes suspects in Darfur that it sealed and turned over to Annan in January. The Security Council voted March 31 to refer the suspects to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. "The possibility cannot be excluded that those who may believe that they are on the commission's sealed list of war crimes suspects will resort to direct attacks against ... international personnel, or will try to destabilize the region more generally through violence," Annan said. The U.N. mission in Sudan would continue to closely monitor the situation, he said. The secretary-general's latest assessment, like his earlier reports on Darfur, had a gloomy take on the situation. The fighting rages on between rebel groups and government forces said to be operating jointly with armed Arab militias, and civilians continue to come under attack along with African Union peacekeeping troops and relief workers, he said. The number of people touched by the conflict rose to 2.45 million last month from 2.4 million in February, 1.86 million people remained in refugee camps in the remote desert region, and food shortages are growing more acute in remote areas, he said. "The government continues to pursue the military option on the ground with little apparent regard for the commitments it has entered into" to end its attacks and protect civilians, Annan said. "It must be stressed that the only route to peace in Darfur remains a political settlement." More than 180,000 people have died in Darfur from hunger and disease over the past year in the conflict the United States has denounced as genocide. The current crisis began in February 2003 when pastoral rebels took up arms against the government, accusing it of neglect and giving preferential treatment to Arab tribes. The government is accused of mobilizing Arab militia known as Janjaweed to loot and burn non-Arab villages.

BBC 21 Apr 2005 UN body fails to condemn Sudan Darfur refugees accused the government of arming the Janjaweed The United Nations Human Rights Commission has approved by consensus a resolution condemning human rights violations in Sudan. The resolution, which was agreed after long negotiation, does not condemn the Sudanese government by name for atrocities committed in Darfur. It does, however, call on all parties to immediately end all violence. At least 180,000 people have died and two million fled their homes, in what some say is genocide against non-Arabs. The Sudan government denies accusations that it armed the Janjaweed militias blamed for the worst atrocities. Reform African countries say Sudan's government had to make painful concessions in this resolution. But the BBC's Imogen Foulkes in the Swiss city of Geneva where the meeting was held, says that human rights groups are disappointed that it doesn't go further. A vote on human rights in Sudan was originally scheduled for last week, but it was postponed and postponed again while intense negotiations took place between European and African members of the commission. The Europeans wanted what is known as a naming and shaming resolution clearly condemning the government of Sudan for its responsibility for some of the atrocities taking place in Darfur. The African group, among them Sudan itself, opposed this, so the final resolution is milder. It condemns human rights abuses by all parties in Sudan without specifically naming the government, but it does contain a key demand of human rights activists - the approval of a special investigator on human rights to Sudan who will report to the UN General Assembly. Our correspondent says it is a compromise that prevented a messy row, something all sides wanted to avoid at a time when many say the commission lacks credibility. But the fact that it took so long to agree on a resolution which does not even go as far as the UN Security Council which has already referred Sudan to the International Criminal Court is, human rights groups say, simply another sign that the UN's top human rights body needs reform.

AP 21 Apr 2005 Corzine measure on Darfur passes Senate By DONNA DE LA CRUZ April 21, 2005, 5:42 PM EDT WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a measure sponsored by Sen. Jon Corzine demanding that the genocide in the war-ravaged Darfur region in Sudan be stopped. The Senate also approved a Corzine amendment adding $90 million for humanitarian aid to the region. "We will continue to raise this issue until the killings stop," said Corzine, D-N.J. "Today's milestone brings us closer to that goal." Corzine, along with Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, has spearheaded measures regarding Darfur in the Senate. Corzine said his interest in Darfur is one everyone should share. "If we are committed to saying never again with regard to the killing fields of Cambodia or the genocide of Rwanda, or even the kinds of actions that took place in World War II, we need to react to what is happening now," Corzine said. "We can't have a review of our actions and history showing that we stood on the sidelines when we could have taken a stand on a moral issue." Corzine visited Darfur last year and plans to go to the region again next week. The Darfur Accountability Act calls for sanctions against the Sudan and the establishment of a special presidential envoy to the region, Corzine added. Similar legislation is pending in the House of Representatives. The Darfur conflict began after two non-Arab rebel groups took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in February 2003 to win more political and economic rights for the region's African tribes. Sudan's government is accused of responding by backing the Janjaweed militia in a campaign of wide-scale abuses, including rape and killings, against Sudanese of African origin. The government denies backing the Janjaweed. The United Nations has called Darfur the world's worst humanitarian crisis. An estimated 180,000 people have died in the upheaval and about 2 million others have been displaced since the conflict began.

CRISIS GROUP 26 Apr 2005 - NEW BRIEFING A New Sudan Action Plan Despite recent Security Council resolutions and a peace agreement covering part of the country, Sudan remains at war, with as many as 10,000 or more civilians dying monthly in Darfur. The UN, NATO and the EU need to get together urgently with the AU, decide who can do what best and then do it without regard for institutional prerogatives or national prestige. How to maximise cooperation to get the necessary additional troops on the ground quickly with equipment, structure and command organisation to be effective is probably the single most urgent and complex issue the international community faces in Sudan. More action is needed to protect civilians and relief agencies in Darfur; implement accountability; build a Darfur peace process; implement the Khartoum-SPLM agreement; and prevent new conflict in the east before it becomes the next major war. Crisis Group reports and briefing papers are available on our website: www.crisisgroup.org

Reuters 26 Apr 2005 Aid group criticises US policy on Sudan Tue April 26, 2005 4:18 PM GMT+02:00 By Sue Pleming WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is playing down the crisis in Sudan and should take the lead in global efforts to resolve the conflict, said a leading international advocacy group on Tuesday. The International Crisis Group, a nongovernmental body that seeks to promote solutions to conflicts worldwide, also called for African Union troop monitors in Sudan to be increased fivefold and for the appointment of a high-profile international mediator on the Sudan conflict. The group's special adviser on Sudan, John Prendergast, took aim at U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick for his comments during a visit to Sudan this month in which he said between 60,000 and 160,000 people had died in Sudan's Darfur region. "For Zoellick to float 60,000 as a low end number is negligent criminally," said Prendergast, whose group estimates as many as 10,000 people or more die each month in Darfur. "It's a deliberate effort by the Bush administration to downplay the severity of the crisis in order to reduce the urgency of an additional response. I find that to be disingenuous and perhaps murderous," he added in a conference call to discuss a report on Sudan by the group. Prendergast, who has worked on crisis issues in Africa for the past two decades, said he was also disturbed the United States seemed to be backing away from assertions last year by then Secretary of State Colin Powell that what was happening in Darfur amounted to genocide. State Department spokesman on Sudan issues, David Sims, dismissed criticism over the death toll figures given by Zoellick and said he disagreed with the view that the United States was playing down the crisis. "We have done a great deal in Sudan but we will not sit back. We will continue our work. Whether it's genocide or not in the legal sense, too many people have died," Sims told Reuters. Donors pledged $4.5 billion at an international conference in Oslo this month to help Sudan recover from Africa's longest civil war. The United States, with a pledge of $1.7 billion, is the largest donor. The crisis in Darfur was triggered in February 2003 when pastoral rebel groups took up arms against the government in a struggle over power and scarce resources. Khartoum retaliated by arming a nomadic Arab militia known as the Janjaweed. Criticism of Zoellick's death toll numbers followed a weekend editorial in The Washington Post which said the Bush administration was "taking a step in the wrong direction" in its Sudan policy and this would encourage others to drag their feet. "Next time he should cite better numbers," commented the Post of Zoellick.

IRIN 29 Apr 2005 AU to double peacekeeping force in Darfur[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] ADDIS ABABA, 29 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - The African Union (AU) agreed on Thursday to substantially increase the size of its peacekeeping force in the troubled western Sudanese region of Darfur, officials said. AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit told journalists after a meeting of the pan-African body's peace and security council in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, that the enhanced force would be in place by the end of September. Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda had already pledged to contribute extra troops, he added. "We are concerned over the continuing crisis in Darfur and condemn the continued attacks against defenceless civilians," Djinnit said. "These extra troops will further promote a more secure environment and help build confidence as well as protecting civilians." The AU acknowledged that its current 2,300-strong force, which it plans to increase to 3,320 by late May, was "extremely stretched" and could not fulfil its mandate. The increased force would come to more than 7,700 men, including nearly 5,500 troops, 1,600 civilian police and some 700 military observers. AU commission Chairman Alpha Oumar Konare told the council that attacks against civilians were still continuing and that a “new phenomenon” had occurred: the deliberate targeting of the AU peacekeepers. "Militarily, the force should be in a position to promote a secure environment across Darfur," he said in a report to the council. "As difficult as the situation in Darfur is, it is my strong conviction that the AU’s efforts, if intensified and pursued with determination, will ultimately lead to the restoration of lasting peace and stability in that region," Konare added. The AU also said it was struggling to get enough civilian police into the region, a vital component of their protection mission. So far only a quarter of the proposed civilian police contingent had been deployed because of poor logistical support, Konare said. He added that the AU would need to quadruple the force to 12,300 to restore order in Darfur, a view endorsed by Jan Pronk, the UN's special envoy to Sudan. "We need to get around 12,000 troops in by early next year as soon as we have a peace agreement," Pronk told journalists outside the closed-door meeting. "We need a comprehensive peace agreement between the government and the rebels by early next year. I don't think people will return before there is a peace agreement." The 12,000 troops, he added, would be expected to remain in Darfur for around four years. Pronk said the situation in Darfur had improved since last year, but 500 people were still dying every month. He also said serious violations of a cease-fire – most of which were committed by the rebels - were continuing. "The AU presence has resulted in more stability where they are, but they have to be able to back their mediation with force," added Pronk. The 15-strong AU council did not discuss newly announced talks with NATO on possible logistical support or strengthening the current mandate, Djinnit said. But after the four-and-a-half hour meeting, he added that the "scope" of the mandate would be further increased to allow greater protection of civilians, convoys and checkpoints. On the sidelines of the meeting, the Sudanese ambassador to the AU, Abuzeid Alhassein, said the pan-African body risked being seen by the Sudanese as an occupying force if it broadened its mandate and allowed AU peacekeepers to step in and use force to protect civilians. "The protection of the civilians in Darfur should be left to the Sudanese civilian police," Alhassein said. "We do not think the AU should strengthen its mandate because if it engages militarily with people it will be seen as an occupying force." The Darfur conflict broke out in February 2003 after rebels in the region took up arms, complaining of discrimination by Sudan's Arab-dominated government. Human rights organisations accuse the Sudanese government of responding by backing a counterinsurgency led by militias known as the Janjawid. According to the UN, over 2.4 million people continue to be affected by the conflict, 1.85 million of whom are internally displaced or have been forced to flee to neighbouring Chad.


BBC 18 Apr 2005 Togo election rally turns violent Opposition supporters wore yellow during the rally in the capital At least seven people were killed during violent clashes between rival political groups in Togo's capital during Saturday's pre-election rallies. Officials from the Togolese ruling party said six of their supporters had been killed during the fighting. An opposition leader said one of its supporters had also been killed during the clashes which erupted in a northern suburb of the capital, Lome. At least 150 people were injured in the street scuffles. People had flooded onto the streets to welcome the country's exiled opposition leader ahead of presidential elections. The elections, organised under international pressure, are due to be held next Sunday. "Sadly, six supporters of the ruling party were killed," Claude Vondoly, of a human rights group linked to the ruling party, told Reuters news agency. 'Hasty' poll A member of the opposition party said that 55 of its supporters had been injured and that one man had been killed. Many opposition supporters had taken to the streets on Saturday, wearing yellow T-shirts and caps and waving palms, the traditional symbol of support for opposition leader Gilchrist Olympio's Union of Forces for Change (UFC) party. Mr Vondoly said many of those who support the ruling party were attacked for wearing T-shirts with an image of their candidate, Faure Gnassingbe. Mr Gnassingbe took power when his father died. Opposition parties have criticised the hastily-arranged presidential poll, alleging that the vote has been organised too quickly and is vulnerable to vote-rigging. Mr Olympio, who has lived in exile since an assassination attempt in 1992 and who was met by cheering crowds on his return to Togo on Saturday, is ineligible for this election. He confirmed that his deputy, Bob Akitani, would stand in the poll. Charismatic But Mr Olympio, the son of Togo's first president, who was murdered in a military coup, has lent the process qualified support. On Saturday he said he would not call for a boycott unless conditions deteriorated during the week. The BBC's Elizabeth Blunt in Lome says Mr Olympio is still clearly an iconic figure, completely overshadowing his less charismatic deputy. Aides refused to say whether, if elected, Mr Akitani planned to stand aside in favour of Mr Olympio. They said Togolese would be voting less for any particular candidate than to get rid of the Gnassingbe family, who have been in power in Togo for the past 38 years, our correspondent reports.

BBC 28 April, 2005, 15:58 GMT 16:58 UK E-mail this to a friend Printable version Calm returns after Togo poll riot Residents have been forced to help with the clean up of the capital Residents of Togo's capital, Lome, are clearing up after violence erupted following Sunday's disputed elections. Soldiers beat people to make them take down barricades and clean the streets in opposition strongholds, correspondents say. At least 20 people were killed as opposition supporters went on the rampage, saying the polls were rigged. Ruling party candidate and son of the former leader, Faure Gnassingbe, officially won with 60% of the vote. His main rival Emmanuel Bob Akitani got 38%, the electoral commission said but he declared himself president, saying there had been massive fraud. Patrols Election observers from West African regional body Ecowas accepted that there had been problems but said the results had generally reflected the will of the people. [The security forces] smashed in the door. They told us to get out and pick up the stones Assou Lome resident In pictures: Burning protests Ecowas condemned Mr Akitani's declaration and called for a national unity government to prevent further violence. According to the BBC's Mark Dummett in Lome, security was tightened overnight and soldiers are patrolling the city in jeeps mounted with heavy machine guns. They began a massive clear-up operation with bulldozers clear the remnants of burning roadblocks. "[The security forces] smashed in the door. They told us to get out and pick up the stones," Lome resident Assou told Reuters news agency, adding one of soldiers shouted: "Work, work!" Fleeing Meanwhile, communication remains difficult as telephone networks are not working and most private radio stations were taken off the air on Wednesday. ELECTION RESULTS Faure Gnassingbe: 1.4m votes (60%) Emmanuel Bob Akitani: 841,000 (38%) Turnout: 64% Source: Electoral Commission (Provisional results) Some 600 people are reported to have fled into Benin from southern Togo, following clashes in the opposition town of Aneho. Mr Atikani's coalition intends to appeal to Togo's constitutional court - which has still to confirm the result of the election - saying he won majorities in all the most populous regions of the country. His support is strongest in the south, including Lome, while Mr Faure's power base is in the north. Mr Faure denied vote-rigging and urged veteran opposition UFC leader Gilchrist Olympio to join a government of national unity. Earlier, Mr Olympio, who was ineligible to stand in the poll because he lives in exile following a 1992 assassination attempt, said his party would not serve as a minority partner in any unity government. The army tried to install Mr Faure after his father's President Gnassingbe Eyadema's death, but pressure led him to step down and call an election. President Eyadema, led Togo for 38 years, had seized power in a coup from Mr Olympio's father, Sylvanus, in 1963.


NYT 18 Apr 2005 Victims of Uganda Atrocities Follow a Path of Forgiveness By MARC LACEY GULU, Uganda - The International Criminal Court at The Hague represents one way of holding those who commit atrocities responsible for their crimes. The raw eggs, twigs and livestock that the Acholi people of northern Uganda use in their traditional reconciliation ceremonies represent another. The two very different systems - one based on Western notions of justice, the other on a deep African tradition of forgiveness - are clashing in their response to one of this continent's most bizarre and brutal guerrilla wars, an often overlooked conflict that has raged for 18 years in the rugged terrain along Uganda's border with Sudan. The fighting features rebels who call themselves the Lord's Resistance Army and who speak earnestly of the import of the Ten Commandments but who routinely hack up civilians who get in their way. To add to their numbers, the rebels abduct children in the night, brainwash them in the bush, indoctrinate them by forcing them to kill, and then turn them - 20,000 over the last two decades - into the next wave of ferocious fighters seeking to topple the government. Girls as young as 12 are assigned as rebel commanders' wives. Anyone who does not toe the line is brutally killed. The international court, invited to investigate the war by President Yoweri Museveni, has announced it is close to issuing arrest warrants against the top rebel leadership, including, no doubt, Joseph Kony, the self-styled spiritualist who is calling the shots. But some war victims are urging the international court to back off. They say the local people will suffer if the rebel command feels cornered. They recommend giving forgiveness more of a chance, using an age-old ceremony involving raw eggs. "When we talk of arrest warrants it sounds so simple," said David Onen Acana II, the newly installed paramount chief of the Acholi, the dominant tribe in the war-riven north, who traveled to The Hague recently to make his objections known. "But an arrest warrant doesn't mean the war will end. How do you get it to Kony? How will he respond?" Mr. Kony tells his followers that he is in direct contact with God, and that God says it is right to kill in the cause of toppling Mr. Museveni's evil government, which is accused of hostility toward the country's north. (The government's sins, however, remain unstated.) In 1988, when the government tried to train villagers in self-defense, Mr. Kony was quoted as saying: "If you pick up an arrow against us and we ended up cutting off the hand you used, who is to blame? You report us with your mouth, and we cut off your lips. Who is to blame? It is you! The Bible says that if your hand, eye or mouth is at fault, it should be cut off." The rebels began cutting off the lips, hands, noses and breasts of civilians, intending that their victims survive as constant warnings to others. The other day, an assembly of Acholi chiefs put the notion of forgiveness into action. As they looked on, 28 young men and women who had recently defected from the rebels lined up according to rank on a hilltop overlooking this war-scared regional capital, with a one-legged lieutenant colonel in the lead and some adolescent privates bringing up the rear. They had killed and maimed together. They had raped and pillaged. One after the other, they stuck their bare right feet in a freshly cracked egg, with the lieutenant colonel, who lost his right leg to a bomb, inserting his right crutch in the egg instead. The egg symbolizes innocent life, according to local custom, and by dabbing themselves in it the killers are restoring themselves to the way they used to be. Next, the former fighters brushed against the branch of a pobo tree, which symbolically cleansed them. By stepping over a pole, they were welcomed back into the community by Mr. Acana and the other chiefs. "I ask for your forgiveness," said Charles Otim, 34, the rebel lieutenant colonel, who had been abducted by the rebels himself, at the age of 16, early in the war. "We have wronged you." Lars Erik Skaansar, the top United Nations official in Gulu, has sought peace in as varied places as the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and the Middle East over the last 12 years. "I have never seen such a capacity to forgive," he said. The age-old rite is what local residents have used when members of one tribe kill members of another. After being welcomed back into the fold, the offender must sit down together with tribal leaders and make amends. After confessing to his misdeeds, the wayward tribesman is required to pay the victim's kin compensation in the form of cows, goats and sheep. It is a system not unlike those in use in other parts of Africa. Somalis still pay compensation to quell the inter-clan battles in that country, although the traditional rite cannot possibly keep up with all the killings. In northern Kenya, where a recent bout of clan violence resulted in several dozen deaths, tribal mediation became bogged down over complains that the loss of a man's life was compensated for with more cows than for a woman's life. South Africa managed to put apartheid in its past by insisting on truthful admissions from those who brutalized the country's blacks but then by promoting reconciliation among the races. A traumatized Rwanda has used both international and local justice to respond to the mass killings of 1994, which left an estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu dead. The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania, was set up by the United Nations to prosecute the orchestrators of the violence. The many foot soldiers in the slaughter are facing traditional "gacaca" trials, where the community hears their cases and often forgives those who confess. The Darfur region of Sudan is the subject of a separate investigation by the international court although there it is the government, which has been implicated in the violence, that is pushing for reconciliation methods to be used. Uganda's government, which backs the international court, has already adopted the traditional notion of forgiveness as one of its peace strategies. An amnesty program in place since 2000 has prompted thousands of rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army and other groups to lay down their arms and re-enter society. A popular radio program broadcast in the north sends the message out that returning rebels will not be executed, to counter what Mr. Kony tells his followers. "Whoever comes out of the bush is forgiven," explained Lt. Tabard Kiconco, an army spokesman based in Gulu. Amnesty is one strategy being used to quell the violence. Also, more conventional peace talks are taking place. In December 2004, they resulted in a rare meeting of the rebel and government leadership. If the war does end soon, these negotiations led by Betty Bigombe, a World Bank consultant and former government minister whom Mr. Kony apparently trusts, will play a critical role. In addition, Uganda's military has been using force to try to end the rebel insurgency and most agree that successes in the heavily forested battlefield have made the rebels more willing to strike a deal. At the same time, Mr. Museveni, a former guerrilla fighter who frequently dons a camouflage army uniform when inspecting his troops in the north, has said repeatedly that his administration has already finished off the Lord's Resistance Army. The rebels show the president's pronouncements to be false by hacking off some more lips or snatching some more children from their beds, as they have done repeatedly in recent weeks. "Reports of the insurgency's death are greatly exaggerated," the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based research group, said in a report last week that called for renewed diplomatic pressure by the United States and others for a negotiated solution. It said issuing arrest warrants against the rebel command "could drive the rebels definitively out of the peace process." To be sure, certainly, many Ugandans want Mr. Kony and his cohorts behind bars. [After meeting with critics of the court last month, the international court's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, met with a broader group of leaders last week, including those supporting the prosecution of top rebels. On April 16, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo issued a statement saying the court and the community leaders had agreed to integrate peace talks, the international court investigation and traditional justice and reconciliation processes. "We urge the Lord's Resistance Army members to respond positively to the appeal to end violence," the statement said.] Still, remarkably, a number of those who have been hacked by the rebels, who have seen their children carried off by them or who have endured years suffering in their midst say traditional justice must be the linchpin in ending the war. Their main rationale: the line between victim and killer is too blurred. Many African conflicts pit one tribe or community against another. But in northern Uganda, the Acholi are cursed with being on both sides of the fight. Young Acholi are kidnapped; the people they are forced to kill are just as likely to be other Acholi as of other northern tribes. The nephew of Mr. Acana, the paramount chief, was abducted by the rebels and turned into a killer some years back. The boy is now back home, washed in the egg and on his way to being forgiven. Understandably, forgiveness and rage are mixed in many people's heads. Former rebels who have surrendered have been largely welcomed back to the communities they had preyed upon, with each new arrivals celebrated as a sign that the war is fizzling out. But former fighters complain that they are sometimes shunned and subjected to taunts, as well. Conacy Laker, 25, finds it hard to look anyone in the eye after losing her nose, ears and upper lip to rebels more than a decade ago. Her physical wounds have healed but her suffering goes on. "I have nothing to say to the person who cut me," she said sternly, staring at the dirt. "But the person needs to be punished like I was punished." A moment later, though, forgiveness seemed at the fore. "What I'm after is peace," she said. "If the people who did this to me and so many others are sorry for what they did, then we can take them back."

IPS 14 Apr 2005 Anger lingers in Uganda's war-torn north Fawzia Sheikh / Kampala, Uganda Although the rebel movement fighting in Uganda's north has fostered an aura of religious mysticism based on an apparent wish to recreate a state following the Biblical Ten Commandments, its grudge against the Ugandan government is rooted in deep-seated grievances that stem back for years. And even if there is an end to the reign of terror of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which initially claimed to speak for the north, observers of the prolonged conflict say these feelings of anger are likely to linger. "Northern Uganda as a whole feels marginalised," says Paul Omach, senior lecturer at the department of political science and public administration, Makerere University, in the capital, Kampala. He says the rebel movement includes the Acholi, many of whom are the foundation of the LRA, and several other ethnic groups such as the Lango, Karamojong and Teso. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's seizing of power in 1986 from military commander Tito Okello Lutwa, which was supposed to usher in an era of peace and democracy, brought more unrest and only underscores the entrenched divide between the north and south of the country. Northerners resented the fact that Museveni -- someone outside their ethnic sphere -- had assumed power. Uganda had until then seen virtually endless northern domination of the government, through leaders such as Idi Amin, Milton Obote, Basilio Okello and Tito Okello Lutwa, since its independence in 1962 from Britain. The north also monopolised the armed forces, a legacy of the former colonial regime. After World War II, the British government began to recruit soldiers mainly from the north because the country's southern counterpart, home to the educational and economic elite, was the heart of anti-colonialism. Neglected north Despite its supremacy, observers argue, the north had in many ways been neglected by colonial and post-colonial administrators. Much of the infrastructure, such as road networks, educational institutions and hospitals created since British rule, was concentrated in the south, says Omach. With Museveni's ascendancy to the presidential office came accusations from the Acholi that they were subject to massacre, rape, the destruction of food stocks and domestic animals, and removal from the army -- all because they supported the previous northern-led regime. Museveni shook up the military, in which the Acholi made up about 60%, to reflect the country's ethnic make-up better, says Peter Mulira, who runs a law firm in Kampala and is an official of the ancient Ugandan kingdom of Buganda. "The Acholi used to feel that they had a special role in the army. Some Acholi had high positions. That's why they're angry. The Acholi men who lost their jobs in the army are the ones with [LRA leader Joseph] Kony," he says. Further evidence of northern punishment following Museveni's power grab can be found in some of the top offices of the land, according to academics. Organisations including the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Uganda Revenue Authority, as well as government ministries such as health, natural resources, water and foreign affairs, are headed by individuals hailing from regions other than the north, adds Yasin Olum, lecturer at the department of political science and public administration at Makerere University. "You put people in strategic positions with colossal amounts of money and delivering critical services", and what is the outcome, notes Olum. "These ministers [from Museveni's western region] ignore the north." The war in northern Uganda has dragged on for nearly two decades because the region's people feel distant from their own central government, Mulira explains. But that said, "They are not fighting the Ugandan government. They are fighting Museveni. Museveni symbolises their marginalisation." Positions of power 'not needed' Not everyone believes the Acholi or northerners are disenfranchised, though. "I loathe that argument," says Jacob Olanya, a northern MP. He argues his people need no positions of power in the government because, in the absence of the war, the fertile north would have an important role filling the breadbasket of Uganda. Although there is disagreement about whether northerners feel neglected, two things are certain -- they do not embrace Museveni at the ballot box, nor do they have warm feelings for the LRA that, in its battle against the new government, eventually turned its rage on its own people, murdering thousands and forcing children into both sexual bondage and its military ranks. The impetus for this violent backlash was chief mediator Betty Bigombe's urging that the Acholi take up arms against the LRA, notes Douglas Kilama, a landmine-risk education officer with the Canadian Physicians for Aid and Relief, which is based in the main northern town of Gulu. Kilama himself was briefly abducted as a child and has not seen his rebel-soldier brother, who would now be 19, since 1997. Northerners did at one point, however, support the Uganda People's Defence Army (UPDA), a group of Acholi soldiers Museveni ousted from the armed forces that banded together to fight back against military abuses, Olanya explains. But the UPDA eventually reached a peace settlement with the government, while the LRA lingered. Acholi diaspora The only group supporting the LRA today is the Acholi diaspora around the world, according to Olanya. He says these anti-Museveni expatriates, based in countries such as Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, are sorely out of touch with the violence the LRA is sponsoring in northern Uganda, and have adopted the weak argument: "Your enemy's enemy is your friend." About 1,4-million people, mainly Acholis, live under poor conditions in displaced camps in northern Uganda, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Their existence on the fringes of Ugandan society suggest if Museveni leaves power next year, as mandated by a constitutional clause stating presidents may serve only two terms, the LRA may lay down its arms. "It doesn't matter if the person who replaces Museveni comes from the north," Omach says, "but it must be followed by some tangible policies." Uganda needs national integration, argues Olum. "There must be some form of national ethos, national psyche." He says this means that the public should be involved in formulating major policies related to health, education and land -- just as they were consulted in enshrining two five-year terms in the Constitution. Lawyer Mulira goes further. He says the key to building an inclusive society is to delegate greater responsibilities to northerners through the creation of their own regional governments and end the concentration of power in Kampala. There is hope on this front. Mulira says Kampala agreed to implement a system in which districts have their own regional governments but the law, which will require changing the constitution, has not been passed. "But I can bet that it will work," he says.

The Monitor (Kampala) 21 Apr 2005 OPINION Rewriting Uganda's History is a Recipe for Disaster By Frank Tumwebaze The proposed return of former president Milton Obote has not only been politicised by those forces who want to easily derive cheap political capital out of it, but has also seen desperate efforts of some politicians trying to erase history under the cover of reconciliation. Reconciliation does not mean that people shouldn't be asked to account for their deeds, and more so crimes against humanity. One fundamental ingredient of reconciliation is that aggressors should show remorse, admit guilt and then ask for forgiveness from the aggrieved. It is not about keeping off an eye at deliberate crimes committed, thus being insensitive to the emotions of those who suffered at the hands of those criminals, that will bring about reconciliation. Instead, the past should be well reflected on such that history does not repeat itself as they often say. Dr Milton Obote committed crimes against the people of Uganda, they are well documented and the victims who suffered but fortunately survived are here to tell their story . Whether Obote is forgiven by the Museveni government and the people of Uganda or not, is a different matter. The record of his crimes will remain and there is no harm in talking about them. The ping- pong debate some politicians are trading in that Museveni too is responsible for the massacres of Luwero simply because he waged a pro-people war against the dictatorship is simply illogical. The good thing, President Museveni is in power now and he has a social contract with the people of Uganda. The record of his government for the last 19 years is an open secret for the whole world. The visibly clear line of distinction between Museveni and Obote is that the government of the former has established human rights monitoring institutions with full constitutional powers to check those in power, while the government of the latter survived on the very human rights violations. Detaining people without trial as well as denying them the right of habeaus corpus as it happened to the five Ministers: Grace Ibingira, Balaki Kirya, Emmanuel B. Lumu, Mathias Ngobi and John Magezi when their lawyer John Kazoora tried to demand for trial by an application of habeas corpus with no success. Such acts characterised Obote's regime and they enabled him to sustain power for whatever period he managed to rule. Waging a war therefore, against such a dictatorship was the primary duty of every right thinking Ugandan at that time since everyone had been disenfranchised. Fighting a guerilla war in Luwero did not call for Obote and his soldiers to sanction and execute organised mass killings in every sub-county of Luwero. Those who don't know this, perhaps need to be told that at every sub county of Luwero there is a mass grave of skulls, which could be easily found in piles in one place indicating that people were killed in one place, not even in battle in crossfire exchanges. This of course, could not have been an act of the Museveni guerillas who were hiding in the bushes running around not to be traced, otherwise the skulls and bodies would have been found scattered in the bushes as has been the case with LRA in the North. The fact that there was a war and that Obote was trying to defend his regime does not in anyway exonerate him from the crimes against humanity he committed. If that argument was to hold, then the whole world would not be concerned or even talking about the genocide in Rwanda, apartheid in South Africa and many other crimes against humanity the world over. The perpetrators of those crimes like Habyarimana, Mobutu, Hitler, Millosovic, Sadam and others would easily get away with it on the basis of the same argument that they were defending their regimes. Indeed Obote was defending his regime and not the people, thus the rationale behind Museveni's protracted guerilla struggle. The other disgusting argument is this idea of advancing reasons like " what evidence is in place to pin down Obote as an abuser of human rights?", actually even shamelessly echoed by Obote himself in his recent newspaper serialised interviews, as if surely Ugandans do not know that a commission of inquiry was put in place to investigate human rights violations in Uganda since independence up to 1986, whose findings are overwhelming. This commission was chaired by Justice Arthur Oder then judge of the High Court and other commissioners included Hon. Dr Khiddu Makubuya, Hon. Dr Jack Luyombya, Mrs Joan Kakwenzire, Hon. John Baptist Kawanga and Mr John Nagenda. The Hon. Edward Sekandi, now Speaker of Parliament was the Commission's lead counsel. The evidence gathered by this commission through witnesses was amazing, and is available in big report volumes at the Human Rights Commission. Witness after witness gave testimony to the commission about the dreadful murder of their relatives, family members, colleagues at work and so on. The degree of brutality and cruelty that the victims were subjected to is often unbelievable. Few survived to tell the tale. Both Idi Amin and Obote (the former being a creation of the latter's political behaviour) stand out as chief perpetrators of murders in cold-blood, and even genocide. Before even raising arguments on the Luwero massacres, one needs to look back and know what was happening. The period of Obote 1 government for example, which mainly relate to the struggle for supremacy between the central government and the Kabaka witnessed a number of murders and massacres as a result of the army attack on the Kabaka's palace. Actually, according to a witness to the commission, one Sentamu, a prisons officer at Luzira at the time of the attack, the Lubiri massacre was incited by Obote as Prime Minister and Commander in Chief. Sentamu said Obote had earlier on made a threatening speech while at Soroti in which, among other things, he said: " I warn you people of Soroti, if you behave like a certain tribe you know very well, I shall not hesitate at all, I will send my boys to destroy both you and your property; I repeat, I will send my boys to destroy both your lives and property. I say this for God and my country... A good Muganda is a dead one." These are clear revelations of how a sitting president and his regime planned and orchestrated a plot to kill Ugandans and indeed pursued it to its fruition. It could not have been an oversight. The murder by the police in Nakulabye in 1964, the Luwero triangle massacres, the murders of suspected political opponents in Kampala during panda gari and other operations, the murder in Argentina House in Kampala, the murder in the seminary at Namugongo and many other massacres by the miltias and UPC lethal operatives can't just be brushed off and not be emphasised by simply disguising under the cover of reconciliation. Indeed the NRM reconciled Ugandans, to an extent that northerners can marry southerners and vice versa which hitherto was almost an abomination. Catholics and Protestants can dine with each other without suspected dominance of either group. Those who worked with Obote were not persecuted in any way, the majority of whom form government today. It is however, prudent that people who committed crimes like Obote be condemned. The aggrieved must see justice done to their aggressors in anyway, be it prosecution, condemnation or even pardon but after admitting guilt and showing remorse. Trying to politically cover up and erase history is not only being insensitive to those who suffered the wrath of the tyrants but also a recipe for disaster. Frank Tumwebaze Special Presidential Assistant / Research and Information.


columbiamissourian.com USA 17 Apr 2005 Estranged homeland Columbia church works to end human rights abuses in Zimbabwe — one of its congregants’ homeland By CASSIE FUERST April 17, 2005 printer-friendly version contact us e-mail this story Pastor Travis Tamerius conducts service at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in MU’s Memorial Union. The church has developed relationships with Christians in Zimbabwe.(ANDREA NIGH/Missourian) About Zimbabwe Size: About as big as Montana Population: 12.5 million Average life expectancy at birth: 37.82 years Official language: English 2.3 million people had AIDS in 2001 70 percent lived in poverty in 2002 70 percent are jobless — Sources: CIA Fact Book and U.S. State Department Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter — when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? — Isaiah 58: 6-7 (New International Version) In 1980, the African nation of Zimbabwe and Tim Durrett started new chapters in their lives. Zimbabwe won its independence and elected Robert Mugabe to lead the country’s first post-colonial government. Durrett started kindergarten. He eventually befriended a black classmate named Timothy — their common first names cementing a bond between the two children of different races — something uncommon in his parents’ circle of friends. “Of course, to my parents and their friends, this was a really big thing,” Durrett, now 29, said. “They had always lived in a segregated society. So this was new for them.” Over the years, Durrett formed friendships with other black students. A few, including Durrett, attended college abroad. By the time they graduated, the Zimbabwe they grew up with was gone, and their friends — black and white — had fled. “I think the country would have been really great if we would have been allowed to stay there and gone on to the work force as the first generation fully integrated,” Durrett said. “But we were never given that opportunity.” In March, Mugabe’s party, the Zimbabwe African National Union - Patriotic Front, recently won 78 of 120 seats in the general election, ensuring Mugabe will remain leader of a country that has suffered much. Durrett, meanwhile, graduated from Harvard, and is now studying for his doctorate in biochemistry at MU. “What Mugabe has done has changed the country so much,” he said. “I now feel unwelcome in Zimbabwe just because I’m white. I think a lot of me has had to face up to the fact that I might have to make America home.” Soon after his arrival in Columbia, Durrett began attending Christ Our King Presbyterian Church, where his accent captured the curiosity of the other congregants. Pastor Travis Tamerius remembers that most of his church’s members had to consult a map to know where Zimbabwe is located. But the more they knew about Durrett, the more they wanted to know about his country. They learned that Durrett’s parents in Zimbabwe attended a Presbyterian church whose members took part in humanitarian projects. That led to Tamerius contacting the pastor at the Zimbabwe church. The two men agreed to start working together to draw U.S. attention to Zimbabwe’s suffering. “Once that initial partnership was established, all the ways we could help them — through aid or providing a voice for the injustices happening there — became apparent,” Durrett said. In November, over coffee in Memorial Union, Durrett, Tamerius and two other men —including a friend of Durrett’s visiting from Zimbabwe — came up with cryforzimbabwe.blogspot.com, a Web log,or blog, that links the people of Zimbabwe with the outside world. Durrett said the blog satisfies his urge to be “doing something” to help his native country. For Tamerius, the blog allows the story of Zimbabwe to be heard by more people, including the people of Christ Our King. “This has become a shared vision of the church,” Tamerius said. “One of our own parishioners is from that land. His home has become our home.” But, the blog presents a potentially dangerous situation for Durrett and anyone who posts to it. Those who speak against Mugabe risk being targeted by his government. According to the U.S. State Department, the Mugabe government has increasingly assaulted human rights and the rule of law. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently named Zimbabwe as an outpost of tyranny. “For a long time people in Zimbabwe felt ignored,” Durrett said. “But when she made that statement, she gave hope to people. I was sad we were on the axis of evil, but it was great to know that the State Department was aware of the situation there.” The hardships in Zimbabwe are not bound by class, race or education. All who voice disagreement with the government are at risk of persecution. The Cry for Zimbabwe Web site and blog use encryption software to protect participants. Tamerius witnessed the hardships in Zimbabwe first hand. Last fall, he visited Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city with 1 million people. It’s located in an area of the country that doesn’t favor Mugabe. Tamerius taught ethics at various settings including seminaries, churches and private schools in Zimbabwe. He also came face to face with human rights abuses. “Most of the people don’t sensationalize the stories,” he recalled. “They say, ‘Oh this happened… robbery, assault, murder.’ I was floored. I heard personal stories of people growing up with out a dad, because he was butchered in the genocide of the ’80s.” A pacification campaign, known as the ‘Gukuruhundi,’ or strong wind, resulted in as many as 20,000 civilian deaths in the 1980s, according to the U.S. State Department. The brutal memories have been followed by more recent hardships, including a food shortage that began when Mugabe’s government seized the country’s most prosperous farms and redistributed the land — leading to the collapse of the economy. It was once known as the bread basket of Africa, but food is scarce now. “What he did was basically take away any property rights that made foreign investors nervous about investing in the country where property rights weren’t being respected anymore,” Durrett said. “Zimbabwe’s economy is based on our agricultural system. By making that statement, he targeted the agricultural system directly.” Some Zimbabwean churches try to help those hurt by the government, even as the government makes it harder for them to do so. These Christians try to secure outside funding wherever they can in order to rally the faithful against human rights abuses and pay reparations to those who have been victimized by the government. The Cry for Zimbabwe site is particularly valuable because journalists have been banned from the country, and all nongovernment organizations, including churches, are required to register with the Mugabe government. But, little by little, the plight of the Zimbabwe people is being heard, Tamerius said. “The source action is praying for a fundamental change in a society where people are struggling for a better life,” Tamerius said. “We want to see their labor rewarded.” Durrett and Tamerius would like to see the U.S. government apply pressure to the South African government, which has historically had influence in Zimbabwe. Before that can happen, however, Americans need to be better informed about the country’s problems and then pressure their elected officials to take action. “New Testament Christianity by its very nature was political,” Tamerius said. “The early Christians claimed a rival kingdom, a rival law and a rival Lord. We are called upon as Christians to protest oppressive governments. Anglican, Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Baptist, we all need to speak out.” Tamerius hopes to return to Zimbabwe someday to help document human rights abuses. Durrett wants to finish his education, then return to help the land of his birth — if the situation allows. “No doubt most agriculture research has stopped in Zimbabwe, their agriculture system has been destroyed,” he said. “If the infrastructure would return I would love to go back there.”


Argentina see Spain

BBC 23 Apr 2005 Argentina jails 'dirty war' medic The Navy School of Mechanics became a notorious torture centre An Argentine court has given a 10-year jail sentence to a doctor who helped steal babies from political prisoners held in a torture centre. The offences were committed during Argentina's "dirty war" - the period of military rule between 1976 and 1983. Jorge Luis Magnacco falsified the birth certificate of a baby born to a mother held in the centre, the court said. The verdict said he had participated in the government's plan of systematically eliminating left-wing opponents. "It wasn't enough for them to root out those who were considered a risk to the regime's ideals... but they also eradicated those who in the future could harbour the same beliefs," it said. The adoptive mother and father of the child were also handed prison sentences by the court for adopting the child illegally. The man, who worked for the Air Force, was given a seven-and-a-half year sentence and the woman a term of three years and one month. Blindfolded As many as 30,000 people are believed to have been killed or forcibly disappeared during the seven years of military rule, although the official figure is closer to 13,000. Around 5,000 are believed to have been held at the Navy School of Mechanics, a torture centre in the capital, Buenos Aires known as Esma. Human rights groups say that at Esma female prisoners were forced, sometimes blindfolded, to give birth to their children in dirty cells. They say that an estimated 400 children were either murdered or given up for adoption illegally.


VOA News 15 Apr 2005 Brazilian President Visits Slavery Site in Senegal Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has concluded a five-nation visit to west Africa with a stop in Senegal, where he issued an apology for Brazil's role in the slave trade long ago. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, left, and Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade look out to sea from 'door of no return' at 'slave house' on Goree island President da Silva spoke about slavery Thursday at Senegal's Goree Island, a departure point for African slaves heading for a life of toil in the new world. Brazil took in well over four million slaves from Africa - more than any other Western Hemisphere nation - and did not outlaw slavery until late in the 19th century. Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and Mr. da Silva, who also held talks Thursday, pledged to strengthen their countries' trade and discussed cooperation in the areas of telecommunications, culture and sports. The Brazilian leader's West African tour also took him to Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Cameroon and Nigeria.

www.dailynews.co.za 19 Apr 2005 Football war starts over use of n-word April 19, 2005 By Phil Davison It began with an alleged racist insult by an Argentinian on a Brazilian football pitch. Now it threatens to be the biggest diplomatic incident in western hemisphere football since the Honduras-El Salvador "soccer war" of 1969. No one is suggesting that Brazil or Argentina will take up arms over the past week's events, as Honduras and El Salvador did, but a war of words is under way and South America is taking sides. The region's underlying racial tensions, often swept under the carpet since the abolition of slavery, have come to the surface. It was last Wednesday evening that Buenos Aires side Quilmes lined up against Brazil's S‹o Paulo in a Group Three match of the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the European Champions' league, in the Morumbi stadium, S‹o Paulo. Shortly before half-time, Quilmes defender Leandro Des‡bato was seen mouthing something to S‹o Paulo's black striker Edinaldo Batista, better known by his nickname, Grafite. Grafite struck the Argentinian and was sent off. Des‡bato played on but, at the final whistle, was surrounded on the pitch by Brazilian police detectives and taken to a local jail in handcuffs. Grafite had accused the Argentinian of calling him a macaco (monkey) and a negro de mierda (shitty nigger). Not exactly an unusual insult in football's history but, last week's incidents in Milan notwithstanding, the times are supposed to be a-changing. Grafite, nicknamed after his graphite-like skin colour, pressed charges and Des‡bato faces up to three years in jail for "slander aggravated by racial prejudice". The 26-year-old Argentinian was released on bail after spending two nights in jail, and returned to Buenos Aires with the Quilmes squad and officials, who had refused to go home without him. The player signed a pledge to return to Brazil to face trial. In a sign of how the racism issue is coming to the fore in South America, as in Europe, the South American Football Confederation, without waiting for a verdict in S‹o Paulo, barred Des‡bato from the rest of the Copa Libertadores tournament. But the war of words was to continue in full swing. The Brazilian Senate held an emergency meeting to discuss the repercussions. Brazilian social groups, the media, many players and even the government backed Grafite and called for "an exemplary punishment". The Argentinian media said that Des‡bato had been "crucified". "This has all been a nightmare," said Argentinian Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez, a Quilmes supporter. "These insults are common on the pitch when the adrenalin is flowing. There is no racism in Argentinian football." Not quite true. Grafite had previously been called a monkey by Quilmes fans in the home leg of the fixture in Buenos Aires, forcing the club to apologise to him publicly. Quilmes officials claimed the Brazilian was out for revenge this week and had "set Des‡bato up". Daniel Razzetto, president of Quilmes said, "They treated Des‡bato as though he was a serial killer of negros, when the poor guy had a pregnant wife weeping for him at home in Buenos Aires." "It seems that in Brazil, there's competition with Europe to see which country is leading the fight against racism," said another Quilmes official, Jose Luis Meizner. As always, Argentinian legend Diego Maradona weighed in. "In the heat of a match, all sorts of nonsense gets said. Quilmes should not be made the bad guys in this movie," he said. "Maradona's brain is obviously not functioning normally," replied S‹o Paulo coach Emerson Le‹o, hinting at the former World Cup star's drug problems. "For reasons we all know, we can't take his statements seriously." As it happened, the S‹o Paulo events coincided with a visit to Africa by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, when he apologised for Brazil's role in the slave trade from the 16th century until it abolished slavery in 1888. The visit was seen as a sign of his country's attempts to come to terms with continuing racism against descendants of slaves, almost half of Brazil's 180 million population. [Article ooriginally appeared on Apr 17, 2005 at independent.co.uk]


HRW 15 Apr 2005 Chile: Probes of Pinochet-Era Crimes Face Shut Down Ensure Mandate of Special Judges to Continue Their Investigations (Santiago, April 15, 2005) — The Chilean Supreme Court should reconsider its decision to end the mandate of the special judges investigating human rights violations committed under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, a group of leading international human rights organizations said today in an urgent appeal made in support of their Chilean counterparts. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the International Commission of Jurists said that the Chilean Supreme Court’s termination of the mandate of the special judges, due on July 25, 2005, would be the most serious reverse for justice and accountability for past human rights violations since Chile returned to democratic rule in 1990. Beginning in 2001, the court had assigned some appellate and first instance judges the task of exclusively or preferentially investigating human rights cases, of which more than 350 are still open. “In the past four years, these special judges have made more progress on these cases than the whole judiciary did in the previous quarter century,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “It would be a tragedy if these advances were halted, just when a spark of hope has reignited for thousands of relatives of Pinochet’s victims.” The appeal was made at a press conference in Santiago attended by representatives of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared (AFDD), the Association of Relatives of Victims of Political Execution (AFEP), the Foundation for Social Assistance of the Christian Churches (FASIC), the Corporation for the Promotion and Defense of Peoples’ Rights (CODEPU), the Center for Mental Health and Human Rights (CINTRAS), The Human Rights Program of Diego Portales University, the Chilean section of Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. On January 25, 2005, the Chilean Supreme Court ordered all judges investigating human rights violations under military rule to halt their inquiries within six months. Unless trials are begun within this time, or the parties appeal successfully for cases to be kept open to enable remaining inquiries to be undertaken, all investigations into human rights violations committed during the dictatorship will terminate on July 25, 2005. Moreover, the Supreme Court announced that the mandate of the special judges will come to an end at the same time. “Whatever the reasons given for this decision, it is a rebuff for judges whose work over the past few years has done much to restore confidence in the rule of law,” said Federico Andreu, Deputy Secretary General on Legal Affairs at the International Commission of Jurists. The special judges dedicate themselves at present almost entirely to human rights cases and only have to attend regular court sessions twice a week. On July 25, 2005, they would have to return to their customary court duties. They would no longer have access to contracted experts, secretarial help, computer support, travel expenses and the assistance of clerks currently assigned to aid them on human rights cases. The Association of Relatives of the Disappeared is asking for the appointment of more special judges, with additional staff, technical and economic resources and increased support for Department 5 of the criminal investigations police. Lawyers representing relatives of victims consider that these special resources and the skills of Department 5 (a unit of the criminal investigations police that has specialized in human rights cases) have been decisive in the recent judicial advances in human rights cases. “The easiest way to address this problem would be for the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to end the term of the special judges and ensure that human rights investigations and trials are properly resourced in the future,” said Susan Lee, Americas director at Amnesty International. On Monday, the Santiago Appeal Court meets to consider the formal petition eight appellate judges made on March 11, 2005 asking the court to urge the Supreme Court to allow them to keep their present work load and resources. The judges stressed that it would be impossible otherwise to continue advancing the cases. “If our appeal to the judiciary is unsuccessful, we will urge Congress to support legislation to continue the work of the special judges,” said Lorena Pizarro, president of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared. “We will suggest ways that our demand could be met by amending legislation already under debate in Congress.” The Supreme Court resolution will affect hundreds of cases now under investigation by the courts. They include a probe by Judge Alejandro Solis into “disappearances” and torture in the Villa Grimaldi, a clandestine detention center in Santiago used by Pinochet’s secret police in the 1970s. The fate of more than 100 victims is still unknown. The investigation conducted by Judge Solis into the 1974 car-bomb murder in Buenos Aires of General Carlos Prats, who preceded Pinochet as army commander, could also be cut short. Another judge, Jorge Zepeda, is currently probing “disappearances” and torture in the Colonia Dignidad, an estate belonging to a secretive German sect in southern Chile that was used as a base by the secret police after the military coup in 1973. Following the capture of the sect’s leader, Paul Schaefer, in Buenos Aires in March, investigators discovered the engines of two Renaults buried on the property, which are believed to have belonged to victims abducted by Pinochet’s security forces. Dozens of other victims are known to have been held at the colony in the 1970s and 1980s, but their fate is unknown. Police inquiries into the death of former President Eduardo Frei Montalva while hospitalized in a Santiago clinic in 1982 have reinforced suspicions that Frei died from a toxin administered by government agents. What really happened to Frei may never been known unless the investigating judge, Alejandro Madrid, is given the time and resources to continue his investigation.


HRW 15 Apr 2005 Colombia: More FARC killings with gas cylinder bombs (Washington D.C., April 15, 2005) - Colombia's largest guerrilla group must immediately cease its use of gas cylinder bombs and other indiscriminate weapons, Human Rights Watch said today. In an attack using these weapons yesterday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) killed a 10-year old boy and injured more than 20 civilians, members of the Nasa indigenous group. "The FARC-EP's continued use of gas cylinder bombs shows this armed group's flagrant disregard for lives of civilians," said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. "The FARC must immediately cease these horrific attacks, which violate the most basic principles of the laws of war." Human Rights Watch said that gas cylinder bombs are impossible to aim with accuracy and, as a result, frequently strike civilian objects and cause avoidable civilian casualties. International humanitarian law requires that combatants be distinguished from noncombatants and that military objectives be distinguished from protected property or places. The FARC-EP's use of gas cylinder bombs in civilian areas is thus a clear violation of international humanitarian law. In addition to injuring and killing civilians, yesterday's attack by the FARC-EP on the towns of Toribío and Jambaló in the Department of Cauca also destroyed numerous homes and a church vestry. Many members of the communities have been forced to leave as a result of the attacks, and there is a serious risk that they may become permanently displaced. As much as 90 percent of the population of Toribío and Jambaló belongs to the Nasa indigenous group, which has received national and international awards for its peace and development initiatives. As with most indigenous groups in the country, the Nasa population has suffered from repeated attacks by armed groups in Colombia's internal armed conflict. "The conflict has had a devastating effect on indigenous populations, which are frequently caught in the middle of fighting between armed groups that wish to control their territory," said Vivanco. "Indiscriminate attacks like the bombings in Toribío not only kill civilians, but also cause immeasurable damage to the indigenous communities as a whole."

DPA 22 Apr 2005 Colombia massacre possibly "social cleansing" by right wing Bogota (dpa) - A massacre in the port city of Buenaventura that left 12 young men dead could have been a "social cleansing" attack carried out by right wing death squadrons. Officials have not excluded the possibility that the killing of the men, between age 18 and 24, was the work of right wing paramilitary agents who in the past have executed suspects for even minor crimes such as theft. Earlier reports put the number of dead at 10 men who were somewhat younger, but Friday's reports upped the number to 12. Their bodies were fished out of the Pacific and their suspected murderers remained at large, local police said Thursday. A police spokesman said the killers had lured the victims into a bus on Monday, promising them they would be taken to a soccer game. Buenaventura is the largest Colombian port city on the Pacific and is controlled by ultra right-wing paramilitary forces. Since the beginning of this year, at least 100 civilians have been massacred in Colombia, broadcaster RCN reported. The government has been embattled by right and left wing commandos for nearly four decades, a violent history inextricably linked to the drug trade.

BBC 22 Apr 2005 Police probe Colombian massacre Colombian police were continuing to investigate the murder of 12 youths found dead after apparently accepting money to play a football match. The decomposed bodies of the young men appeared in an estuary near the port city of Buenaventura earlier this week. They were found floating by fishermen, with their hands tied behind their backs and each one shot in the head. Authorities say the killings could be drug-related, the work of a death squad or one of Colombia's armed groups. Drugs route Buenaventura, 350km (215miles) southwest of the capital Bogota on the Pacific Coast, is on a main drugs smuggling route used by leftwing rebels and outlawed rightwing paramilitaries. Relatives of the victims said the young men had agreed to go on a minibus to the supposed game on Tuesday, after accepting an offer from persons unknown. Police said 10 of the victims were aged between 18 to 24-years-old but two were aged 15. Forensics were examining the bodies to determine whether the victims had been tortured. Investigators said it remained unclear who was behind the massacre. City's Mayor Saul Quinones said the killings, which have shocked local people, were likely to be linked to the struggle for control of the drugs trade. He said three out of every four murders in the city were drug-related. A curfew has been declared in some of the city's more troubled neighbourhoods.


washingtonpost.com 23 Apr 2005 Long Fall in Ecuador: Populist to Pariah By Monte Reel Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, April 23, 2005; Page A13 QUITO, Ecuador, April 22 -- Former president Lucio Gutierrez, holed up in the Brazilian Embassy on Friday with armed guards lining its perimeter, wasn't always the political pariah who this week inspired street riots and a vote by the legislature to overthrow him. Luis Macas remembers how Gutierrez won him over before the 2002 election with promises to crack down on Ecuador's endemic corruption and serve the indigenous communities to which Macas and about 40 percent of Ecuador's population belong. Macas accepted a job as Gutierrez's agriculture minister and had high hopes for his administration. Then their alliance fell apart, irrevocably. "The rupture occurred precisely in August 2003," Macas said in the headquarters of the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador, which he heads. "The worst thing he did was to begin negotiations" with the International Monetary Fund. Thousands of Ecuadorans experienced a similar disillusionment, though their reasons varied widely. Many agreed that Gutierrez submitted to pressure from foreign lenders, causing him to sacrifice spending on social programs to pay down the country's debt. Some disliked his backing of Plan Colombia, the U.S. military's war against the drug trade in neighboring Colombia. Some say he fell into cronyism; others that he was intoxicated with his own power. Whatever the reasons, they stopped calling him a populist and started calling him a dictator. Local opinion polls suggested that the 54 percent support he got in the 2002 election had fallen to 4 percent. On Wednesday, the anger he stirred fueled violence in the streets of the capital. For many, the change of heart spread to include anyone associated with his government. Vladimir Portilla, 39, a businessman from Quito, stood outside the Brazilian Embassy on Friday with a small group of protesters demanding that Gutierrez be arrested instead of flown into exile in Brazil. On Wednesday, Portilla, his wife and young son were among those in the streets demanding Gutierrez's overthrow. Now, he'd like to see every member of Congress removed -- even those who voted to oust Gutierrez. "All we want is a government that isn't corrupt," Portilla said. "The people of Quito had a moral and ethical obligation to try to clean up the government. We will not accept a dictator, not for one second." Gutierrez's popularity has been eroding for more than a year and began scraping bottom in the past four months. In November, he narrowly survived an impeachment attempt in Congress. Then he dismissed the Supreme Court on grounds of political bias. A newly appointed court granted immunity to several exiled politicians accused of corruption, opening the door this month for a former president, Abdala Bucaram, to return to Ecuador. Critics allege that Gutierrez had struck a deal with Bucaram, whom Gutierrez had served as a military aide. To placate protesters, Gutierrez dismissed the Supreme Court again on Friday. But the protests intensified, culminating in the burning of ministry buildings and the beatings of government employees and officials in the streets. "The political class has been completely discredited," Paco Moncayo, mayor of Quito, who led protests against Gutierrez, said this week. Gutierrez took refuge at the Brazilian Embassy Wednesday. Brazil granted him asylum on Thursday, but its Foreign Ministry was still negotiating with the new Ecuadoran government to assure safe passage to Brasilia. Gutierrez, a mestizo, or mixed race man, from an Amazonian city five hours southeast of Quito, has described his base of support as the urban and rural poor. Eduardo Carbajal, 62, said he identified with the ex-president, though he conceded Gutierrez had made mistakes. "He was born of humble origins, and I am also from humble origins," Carbajal said. "I trusted Gutierrez. I think he violated the constitution" by dissolving the Supreme Court, Carbajal continued, "but that was because he had bad advisers." Christian Morales, 17, an indigenous Ecuadoran from the town of Otavalo, said he would continue to stand by Gutierrez and oppose Palacio because the former president was a small-town man who became a national leader -- a rarity in a country of 13 million that is slightly smaller than Nevada. "The majority of the past presidents of Ecuador only did things for the cities, not for the rural areas," said Morales. But Gutierrez "did almost nothing for the cities and worked in the small towns." Such sympathetic views are rare in Quito, where most of the dissent was concentrated. Marta Tigusi, 28, is an indigenous street vender from a province four hours south of Quito who sells crafts at an artisan market in Quito. She said that although she supported Gutierrez when he was elected, she grew to view him as a man who broke his promises. "In the beginning he talked about the poor, but then he went to the side of the rich," she said. "Then we lost trust in him." Special correspondent Christopher Sacco contributed to this report.


BBC 28 Apr 2005 Police kill five at Haiti protest Violence has wracked Haiti over the last 14 months Police have opened fire on demonstrators in the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince, killing at least five people, witnesses and officials said. Police said they had been shot at by gunmen in the crowd and returned fire. But some of the protesters disputed that account, saying there were no shots from the crowd. Haiti is preparing for elections later this year to replace its interim government, but has been wracked with violence for the last 14 months. Previous President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was driven out in February 2004 after a revolt. Demonstrators in Wednesday's rally were demanding that Mr Aristide be allowed to return, that his allies be released from prison, and for an end to alleged persecution by his successors. 'Bandits' killed The violence broke out as the marchers passed the United Nations peacekeepers' headquarters in the capital. Renan Etienne, central director for Haiti's administrative police, said a police patrol had been attacked by "bandits", and officers fired back. "We know that two bandits were killed, but we can't call them demonstrators," he said. UN peacekeepers are trying to quell Haiti's violence A Reuters reporter said five people lay dead in the streets. The reporter also cited a local television cameraman who said he saw police put a gun beside one of the bodies, and was then summoned by police to film the scene. People fled the area but gunfire continued nearby for some hours. The US admitted this month that it had supplied weapons to Haiti's security forces despite an embargo - and it is thought to be considering making further shipments. US and Haitian officials say the police need greater firepower to contain rampant political and gang violence in the country - but critics have accused the police of brutality. Haiti is due to hold legislative polls on 9 October and a presidential election on 13 November.

United States

Longmont Daily Times-Call, CO 15 Apr 2005 www.longmontfyi.com 4/15/2005 Sand Creek Massacre bill moves forward By Joe Hanel Times-Call correspondent WASHINGTON — The Sand Creek Massacre site Thursday moved a step closer to opening to the public at a Congressional hearing. House members and officials from the U.S. Interior Department looked favorably on Rep. Marilyn Musgrave’s bill to transfer 1,465 acres into a trust for Indian tribes that the government will manage as part of the Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site. Congress set up the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in 2000, but the site remains closed and mostly undeveloped. Congress allowed for a 12,500-acre site, but the government has acquired less than a tenth of that land so far. Musgrave’s bill, and a similar one sponsored by Colorado’s senators, would add property known as the Dawson Ranch to the historic site. Former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell sponsored the same bill last year, but Congress adjourned for the year before it got around to acting on it. On Nov. 29, 1864, Col. John Chivington led 700 troops on a raid of an Indian camp at Big Sandy Creek. The soldiers slaughtered more than 150 Indians, most of them women, children and elderly. Most of the Indian men were away on a hunting expedition. Last December, the Longmont City Council voted to change the name of Chivington Drive, which was named for the Army commander. The street is now called Sunrise Drive. Musgrave noted that Congress looked into the massacre in an 1865 hearing. “Now, 141 years after the massacre, we’re having another Congressional hearing,” she said. “This time, we’re here to honor the victims and protect a parcel of land where the massacre took place.” Steve Brady, president of the Northern Cheyenne Band of Sand Creek Descendants, who testified in favor of the bill, said the Sand Creek descendants also want their ancestors’ remains returned to Sand Creek for burial.

April 17, 2005 OP-ED COLUMNIST Mr. Bush, Take a Look at MTV By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF hen Turkey was massacring Armenians in 1915, the administration of Woodrow Wilson determinedly looked the other way. The U.S. ambassador in Constantinople sent furious cables to Washington, pleading for action against what he called "race murder," but the White House shrugged. It was, after all, a messy situation, and there was no easy way to stop the killing. The U.S. was desperate to stay out of World War I and reluctant to poison relations with Turkey. A generation later, American officials said they were too busy fighting a war to worry about Nazi death camps. In May 1943, the U.S. government rejected suggestions that it bomb Auschwitz, saying that aircraft weren't available. In the 1970's, the U.S. didn't try to stop the Cambodian genocide. It was a murky situation in a hostile country, and there was no perfect solution. The U.S. was also negotiating the establishment of relations with China, the major backer of the Khmer Rouge, and didn't want to upset that process. Much the same happened in Bosnia and Rwanda. As Samantha Power chronicles in her superb book, "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," the pattern was repeated over and over: a slaughter unfolded in a distant part of the world, but we had other priorities and it was always simplest for the American government to look away. Now President Bush is writing a new chapter in that history. Sudan's army and janjaweed militias have spent the last couple of years rampaging in the Darfur region, killing boys and men, gang-raping and then mutilating women, throwing bodies in wells to poison the water and heaving children onto bonfires. Just over a week ago, 350 assailants launched what the U.N. called a "savage" attack on the village of Khor Abeche, "killing, burning and destroying everything in their paths." Once again, there's no good solution. So we've looked away as 300,000 people have been killed in Darfur, with another 10,000 dying every month. Since I'm of Armenian origin, I've been invited to participate in various 90th-anniversary memorials of the Armenian genocide. But we Armenian-Americans are completely missing the lesson of that genocide if we devote our energies to honoring the dead, instead of trying to save those being killed in Darfur. Meanwhile, President Bush seems paralyzed in the face of the slaughter. He has done a fine job of providing humanitarian relief, but he has refused to confront Sudan forcefully or raise the issue himself before the world. Incredibly, Mr. Bush managed to get through recent meetings with Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and the entire NATO leadership without any public mention of Darfur. There's no perfect solution, but there are steps we can take. Mr. Bush could impose a no-fly zone, provide logistical support to a larger African or U.N. force, send Condoleezza Rice to Darfur to show that it's a priority, consult with Egypt and other allies - and above all speak out forcefully. One lesson of history is that moral force counts. Sudan has curtailed the rapes and murders whenever international attention increased. Mr. Bush hasn't even taken a position on the Darfur Accountability Act and other bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators Jon Corzine and Sam Brownback to put pressure on Sudan. Does Mr. Bush really want to preserve his neutrality on genocide? Indeed, MTV is raising the issue more openly and powerfully than our White House. (Its mtvU channel is also covering Darfur more aggressively than most TV networks.) It should be a national embarrassment that MTV is more outspoken about genocide than our president. If the Bush administration has been quiet on Darfur, other countries have been even more passive. Europe, aside from Britain, has been blind. Islamic Relief, the aid group, has done a wonderful job in Darfur, but in general the world's Muslims should be mortified that they haven't helped the Muslim victims in Darfur nearly as much as American Jews have. And China, while screaming about Japanese atrocities 70 years ago, is underwriting Sudan's atrocities in 2005. On each of my three visits to Darfur, the dispossessed victims showed me immense kindness, guiding me to safe places and offering me water when I was hot and exhausted. They had lost their homes and often their children, and they seemed to have nothing - yet in their compassion to me they showed that they had retained their humanity. So it appalls me that we who have everything can't muster the simple humanity to try to save their lives. Lodi News-Sentinel, CA 17 Apr 2005 Group marches to mark Armenian genocide By Jake Armstrong News-Sentinel Staff Writer More than 100 people today are expected to join a group of youths walking through Galt to Sacramento as part of a 215-mile trek to raise awareness of the Armenian genocide. Walking by day and sleeping in churches by night, the group began its journey April 2 in Fresno and will end Thursday at the state capitol. There they will rally to thank legislators for officially recognizing the Armenian genocide, the 90th anniversary of which falls this year. A resolution commemorating the genocide is due to be heard in the state Assembly next week. Members of the group, many of whom are descendants of genocide victims, hope their march will attract public attention to the genocide, which resulted in the deaths of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, now Turkey, between 1915 and 1921. Their ultimate goal: an acknowledgment of the genocide by the Turkish government, which has steadfastly refused to recognize the event. During the genocide, many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were forced to march through the Syrian desert, where they were left for dead. Marching through Acampo on Thursday, the 14th day of the march, Fresno resident Shant Atikian said keeping the cause on his mind helps him forget about the fatigue that sets in as the group marches between 8 and 19 miles a day behind American and Armenian flags. "Just thinking about how our great grandparents did this without any sleep, food or water -- if they did it, we can do it, too," Atikian, 19, said. Armenians mark the anniversary of the genocide on April 24th. "Youths who are descendants of survivors aren't going to let the 90th (anniversary) pass by with just candles and a commemoration," said march organizer Serouj Aprahamian. Marchers, from left, Berj Parseghin, Shant Kahvedjian, Shant Atikiav and Chris Torossian relax at St. Christopher's Church in Galt on Friday after a 15-mile march. (Mike Graffigna/News-Sentinel) Marchers number about 20 during weekdays, Aprahamian said, but that number swelled to more than 100 last weekend. Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton, who will meet the group when they arrive at the capitol steps, commended the marchers. "It's a tribute to our strong culture that the youth picks up the torch from the previous generation and raises awareness," he said in a phone interview Friday. A resolution commemorating the genocide will be heard on the Assembly floor next week, Aghazarian said. Thirty-six states have recognized the genocide. Aghazarian said it "shocks the conscience" that the U.S. and Turkish governments have not recognized the first genocide of the 20th century, though Turkey has shown signs that many hope will lead to an acknowledgment. "The time has come for the Turkish government to acknowledge the crimes of their forefathers 90 years ago," he said. "The more awareness we have, the more likely it won't happen again."

www.thenation.com 19 Apr 2005 Op/Ed - The Nation Downplaying Darfur Tue Apr 19, 7:35 AM ET Op/Ed - The Nation Ari Berman In his Sunday New York Times column, Nick Kristof rightfully chastised President Bush for devoting less attention to Sudan's Darfur region--where the government-backed Janjaweed militia has killed 300,000 native Darfurians--than MTV. In fact, most of the press coverage has been equally sparse, and inexcusably underplayed. According to the American Journalism Review, last year the three major networks devoted five times as much coverage to Martha Stewart as to the genocide in Sudan. The world's worst humanitarian crisis prompted an abysmal 18 minutes of fame. While the BBC reports from Darfur almost daily, renowned CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour had to beg her bosses to let her go. "If few editors could find Rwanda on a map 10 years ago," wrote Carroll Bogert of Human Rights Watch, "Fewer still have found Darfur today." Newspapers, with a few exceptions (The New York Times, Washington Post, Knight-Ridder), have hardly been better. "Many of the stories on Sudan published in the nation's newspapers tended to be 500 words or less, giving short shrift to a complex conflict with powerful ethnic, religious and economic factors," writes AJR's Sherry Ricchiardi. "Many accounts lacked historical context or perspective, often oversimplifying the bloodshed in Darfur. And few of them appeared on the front page." Laci Peterson made the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle 36 times in 2004, wrote the newspaper's ombudsman, Dick Rogers. Darfur graced the cover thrice. The war in Iraq, slashed international news budgets and a focus on local news contribute to the virtual blackout. And, in a headline-driven age, the Bush Administration isn't making journalists' jobs any easier. "I wouldn't say that there has been an avalanche of concern about the situation from Congress or the White House," says San Francisco Chronicle deputy managing editor John Curley. Bush has yet to take a position on the bipartisan Darfur Accountability Act. In recent meetings with Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair and NATO, Darfur never came up. A few correspondents and columnists are instead bearing the brunt of the reporting burden in a devastated region where a million people have been displaced and 10,000 men, women and children are dying every month. "I feel part of something bigger than drinking Starbucks and hanging around with my friends," says the Washington Post's Emily Wax, who slipped into Darfur with a French delegation in February 2004 and returned again last August. "I could be writing 24 hours a day and never feeling I'm doing enough. This is an important part of who I am." If only the rest of the media felt the same way, the Bush Administration might have a harder time ignoring contemporary genocide.

AP 19 Apr 2005 10th Anniversary of Oklahoma City Bombing Marked Vice President Cheney, Former President Bill Clinton Speak at Solemn Ceremony Honoring Victims By Kelly Kurt Associated Press Tuesday, April 19, 2005; 11:21 AM OKLAHOMA CITY -- With 168 moments of silence and the message that goodness can overcome evil, victims of the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history were remembered Tuesday at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Some 1,600 people inside the First United Methodist Church fell silent at 9:02 a.m., the moment the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed exactly 10 years earlier. Some brought teddy bears and flowers to be placed at the memorial, which includes 168 empty chairs symbolizing the human cost. "All of us respect you for the way you've borne tragedy over the last decade and for your great devotion to the memory of those who died here," Vice President Cheney told survivors and loved ones. "Goodness overcame evil that day," he said. "All humanity can see you experienced bottomless cruelty and responded with heroism," he told the crowd. "Your strength was challenged and you held firm. Your faith was tested and it has not wavered." There was heavy security in the First United Methodist Church, adjacent to the memorial, where the speeches were given. Former President Clinton, who was in office at the time of the bombing, reminded mourners that "by the grace of God, time takes its toll not only on youth and beauty, but also on tragedy. The tomorrows come almost against our will. And they bring healing and hope, new responsibilities and new possibilities." Clinton got a chuckle when he mentioned the Survivor Tree, the elm that was heavily damaged in the bombing and is now a leafy green reminder of it. "Boy, that tree was ugly when I first saw it (in 1995), but survive it did," Clinton said. "Trees are good symbols for what you did. You can't forget the past of a tree. It's in the roots, and if you lose the roots you lose the tree. But the nature of the tree is to always reach for tomorrow. It's in the branches." One bus brought 53 people to the ceremony, all wearing T-shirts with LaKesha Levy's photo on the front and the words "a shared experience." Levy's aunt, Gail Batiste, said friends and family came from all over the country to remember the outgoing 21-year-old, who had gone to the building the morning of April 19, 1995, to get a Social Security card. "It's good that Oklahoma remembers," Batiste said. Juanita Espinosa, wiped away tears as she stood in front of the chair of her cousin, Zackary Chavez, 261/27. "They found his head one week, and his body another week," she said. "It's still too much to think about." The bomber, Timothy McVeigh, was convicted of federal conspiracy and murder charges and executed on June 11, 2001. Conspirator Terry Nichols is serving multiple life sentences on federal and state charges. Jenny Parsley, who seldom visits the memorial on the grounds of the destroyed building, planned to attend Tuesday's ceremony. She had been spared because she decided to got into work late that morning, after a doctor's appointment. "I knew most of the people killed," Parsley, 57, said. "I lost a lot of good friends, too many." Larry Whicher, 44, of Russellville, Ark., said the passage of time had tempered his grief and his anger. The bombing killed his brother, Alan Whicher, who worked in the Secret Service office. "You learn to accept it. You can't change it, so why carry that bitterness for your entire life?"

washingtonpost.com 19 Apr 2005 Domestic Extremist Groups Weaker but Still Worrisome Militias Waned After '95 Bombing By Lois Romano Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A03 A decade after the Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people and turned a spotlight on violent anti-government extremists, the number of paramilitary militia groups has dropped dramatically and other radical-right groups have splintered and fallen into disarray, according to terrorism analysts and law enforcement officials. But those authorities say the threat from domestic terrorists remains strong and is worrisome because of "lone wolf" actors who may have associated with extremist groups and remain committed and violent. They point to people such as Eric Rudolph, who pleaded guilty last week to attacks at an abortion clinic and the 1996 Summer Olympics that killed two people. Two years ago, federal agents in Texas arrested William Krar, a white supremacist who possessed enough sodium cyanide to kill 6,000 people, half a million rounds of ammunition and 60 pipe bombs. Krar, who had ties to anti-government groups, pleaded guilty to possessing a chemical weapon and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, much of the federal government's focus -- and the nation's worries -- has turned to foreign threats. But advocacy groups and experts in homegrown terrorism say cases such as Rudolph's and Krar's show that domestic threats still bubble dangerously close to the surface. "If Krar had a Middle Eastern name, we would have had the military in there," said Ken Toole, director of the Montana Human Rights Network, which tracks militia and hate groups. "The war on terror continues to focus on the external threats, but do not kid yourself. The hard core is still out there in this country." Ten years ago today, Army veteran Timothy J. McVeigh -- fueled by an intense hatred of the government -- blew up the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in what was then the deadliest act of terrorism on U.S. soil. Investigators initially suspected foreign terrorists, and Americans were stunned to learn that the attack was by one of their own. It drew unprecedented attention to the ferocity of anti-government sentiment in this country, as well as to the extraordinary number of extremist hate groups with a long reach. Since then, terrorism experts and law enforcement officials agree that many of the militia and other organized radical groups -- such as white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Christian Identity adherents -- have weakened, in large part because they felt the heat of law enforcement and negative public perception after the Oklahoma City bombing. They said the number of militia groups has dropped from about 900 right after the bombing to 150 today. In some ways, observers say, the domestic terrorism threat is broader today because of recruitment on the Internet, and because it comes not only from the radical right but also from left-wing radical environmental groups, which have caused tens of millions of dollars in property damage but no fatalities. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported the existence of more than 762 hate groups last year, an increase from previous years. According to the Anti-Defamation League, 15 law enforcement officials have been killed by anti-government extremists in the past 10 years. "What has changed is that the numbers of the committed have steadily dropped since the Oklahoma bombing, but those who are committed have hardened views," said Daniel Levitas, author of "The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right." David Trochman of the Militia of Montana said in an interview that members are "much more private" about belonging to a militia since the bombing but that his members remain unhappy about what is happening in the country, particularly what he sees as liberal border policies. Officials at the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI acknowledge that since the Sept. 11 attacks they have viewed foreign threats as a higher priority than domestic ones. A recent department internal assessment of threats did not list militias, white-supremacist groups and violent antiabortion activists. The assessment, first reported by Congressional Quarterly, did mention radical environmental groups and animal rights activists as potential threats. John Lewis, deputy chief of the FBI's counterintelligence unit, said authorities had seen the "resourcefulness" of foreign terrorists. "That being said, we are very committed to investigating domestic threats," he said. Both agencies noted that in recent years there has been heightened communication with local law enforcement to help identify domestic-based threats. The official added that although the domestic groups have been relatively quiet since the 1995 bombing, the FBI has hundreds of ongoing probes involving extremist groups nationwide. Lewis cautioned that the threat of "eco-terrorists" cannot be minimized simply because there have been no fatalities in their attacks. "When you're burning homes, buildings and ski slopes, it's just a matter of time," he said. "In my view, they have just been lucky." Experts attribute the weakened state of most hate groups to the death of prominent leaders in the extremist movements that left a power vacuum and dwindling membership because of infighting. Others, they say, simply distanced themselves after the Oklahoma City bombing. "They didn't sign up to kill babies," said Mark Pitcavage, the national director of fact-finding for the Anti-Defamation League. The current void in leadership on the radical right plays a major role in assessing the immediate threat of such activists, said academics and terrorism experts. One of the most significant losses for anti-government zealots was the 2002 death of National Alliance founder William Pierce. Pierce wrote "The Turner Diaries," considered McVeigh's blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing, and has received virtual cult status among far-right extremists. Last fall, Aryan Nations founder Richard G. Butler died, dividing the once formidable group into two factions, hampered by lawsuits and arrests. The conviction of white supremacist Matthew Hale in Chicago for threatening a federal judge gutted his World Church of the Creator, which advocated the premise that "white people are the creators of all worthwhile culture and civilization." And Robert Millar, head of Elohim City, a white-separatist compound in northeastern Oklahoma linked to McVeigh, died in 2001. "The few leaders they have left can barely drag their oxygen tanks to the meetings," said Joe Roy, chief intelligence analyst for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Consequently, there has been no one strong voice articulating a cause, which leaves angry but aimless dissidents. "It takes someone to preach the gospel," said Robert Heibel, executive director of Mercyhurst College Institute for Intelligence Studies and a former FBI chief of counterintelligence. Others argue that the most dangerous times can be during a power vacuum. "You have more marginal people trying to act out and hard-core believers trying to fill the void," Toole said, adding: "Everyone has to understand that they are just regrouping -- a new generation will come in." And maybe some of the old voices will bridge the gap. After notorious former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was released from prison last spring, where he had served more than a year for fraud, 300 people turned out to hear him speak in New Orleans on Memorial Day -- and 67,000 tuned in through the Internet. "It just shows you just how hungry they are," Roy said. Staff writer John Mintz and research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

AP 20 Apr 2005 Democrats: HSD Omits Right-Wing Threats By LARA JAKES JORDAN, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department is focusing on possible terror threats from radical environmental and animal rights activists without also examining risks that might be posed by right-wing extremists, House Democrats said Tuesday. A recent internal Homeland Security document lists the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front with a few Islamic groups that could potentially support al-Qaida as domestic terror threats. The document does not address threats posed by white supremacists, violent militiamen, anti-abortion bombers and other extremists that Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., called "right-wing hate groups." ALF and ELF "are the left-leaning groups that they identified," said Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee. "But they absolutely left out any of the other groups." "If your responsibility is to protect the homeland from these domestic terrorists, then you have an obligation to identify all of them -- not just some of them," Thompson said. Homeland Security spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the internal document -- which was not meant for public distribution -- identifies only general categories of threats and vulnerabilities, and is not meant to be a comprehensive list. "Other classified threat and vulnerability assessments that guide our day-to-day operations and planning are more specific and identify more detailed information," Roehrkasse said. Thompson said he reminded Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff of threats by right-wing groups in a letter sent to the department Tuesday -- the 10th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. That attack, which killed 168 people, marks the worst act of domestic terrorism on U.S. soil. ALF and ELF are accused by the FBI of committing hundreds of acts of arson or other attacks on property in the United States, causing millions of dollars in damages. None of their attacks, however, have caused human deaths. On the Net: Homeland Security Department: http://www.dhs.gov

washingtonpost.com 19 Apr 2005 Virginia Before Pocahontas Tuesday, April 19, 2005; Page A18 An April 3 Close to Home piece, "Bring Home Our Native Daughter," suggested that the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown should include DNA analysis to identify the mortal remains of Pocahontas and return her to Virginia. She presently lies in an unmarked grave in England. That may or may not be a part of the anniversary party, but the relationship between Native Americans and Europeans in Virginia started long before Pocahontas and Jamestown. For example, in the 16th century, the Native American Paquiquineo -- aka Don Luis de Velasco -- was taken from his home somewhere near Hampton Roads and spent a decade in Spain and Mexico. He returned to the Virginia area, ostensibly as a guide and translator for a party of Jesuit missionaries, but in 1571 he helped engineer their slaughter somewhere along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Richmond writer James Branch Cabell dubbed Paquiquineo the "first Virginian." He felt that Paquiquineo's treachery preempted Spanish settlement on the Chesapeake and preserved Virginia and the South Atlantic states for later English occupation. Spanish-Virginian history actually began 40 years before the massacre of the Jesuits. The first known contact between Virginia Indians and Europeans came in May of 1541, when Hernando de Soto marched up from Florida seeking gold. His marauders reached modern-day Lee County. The first battle in Virginia was at Saltville in Smyth County in 1567, when a gold-hunting venture of Juan Pardo attacked a palisaded village. Around that time an Indian princess of the Chisca tribe married a Spanish soldier and moved to the Carolina coast, taking the name Luisa Menendez. Under pressure to justify the cost of maintaining a garrison, the Spanish governor of greater Florida staged an inquiry in 1600 to document the great natural wealth of the Carolinas and their potential value to the Spanish crown. Information about Menendez comes from testimony she and others gave during that inquiry. As we brace for an orgy of Jamestown celebrations, it's worth remembering that Pocahontas was preceded in Virginia by a long history, not always smooth, of Native American and European relations. JIM GLANVILLE Blacksburg

Reno Gazette Journal, NV 16 Apr 2005 www.rgj.com Memorial to a massacre: Boy Scouts learn lesson about the fluidity of history Frank X. Mullen Jr. RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL 4/22/2005 11:00 pm Marilyn Newton/Marilyn Newton Boy Scouts struggle up an embankment in Little High Rock Canyon on April 16, 2005, with a 225-pound piece of granite that will house a plaque commemorating the murder of four Basque sheepherders that led to the last Indian massacre. BLACK ROCK DESERT — A group of Lemmon Valley Boy Scouts carried a 260-pound marker memorializing the nation’s last Indian massacre into a remote canyon last week and discovered history is neither carved in stone nor set in bronze. “History is dynamic, fluid, ever-changing,” said Marvin Mattson, a committee member of Troop 88 who organized the building and placement of the monument in Little High Rock Canyon. “History is a moving target. It’s alive.” The 23 Scouts, ages 11 to 15, placed a granite marker and bronze plaque at the site memorializing the murder of four sheepherders in the canyon in January 1911. A posse chased down and killed most of a band of American Indians led by “Shoshone Mike” Daggett, who were the main suspects in the case. For decades, a wooden plaque on a canyon wall marked the site of the murders and the Indians’ camp, but the boards vanished years ago. Troop 88 decided to replace the memorial with something more permanent and earn a Historic Trails Badge in the process. The Scouts said what began as a good deed evolved into a conflict about what happened so long ago. It ended with a back-breaking trek over broken ground, up steep trails and into a narrow defile. On the journey, they came to know history and hype, bravery and blisters, politics and prejudice. “It was a trying experience, but it was real rewarding,” said Ben Degn, 14, a senior patrol leader. “I really liked learning about Nevada history. We felt really close to the past up there.” Last free Indians “Shoshone Mike” Daggett, his family members and a few other Indians fled the Fort Hall, Idaho, reservation in the early 1900s to live in the nomadic way of their ancestors. They became suspects in the murders of four Nevada sheepmen in Little High Rock Canyon on Jan. 19, 1911. Five weeks and 200 miles later a posse caught up with the band. In a three-hour gun battle near Gloconda, a posse member and eight Indians died, and four children were captured. “I didn’t know any of the story before the project,” said Tony Bianco, 15. “I learned a lot. It’s fun to be a part of something that’s so historic.” The murders and the battle with the Indians have been called the nation’s “last Indian massacre,” depending upon who is telling the tale. Contemporary accounts conclude Shoshone Mike’s band killed the four men. Evidence includes the victims’ possessions found among the Indians and the confession of Snake, a 16-year-old girl who survived the battle with three other younger children. Authorities concluded the nomads killed John Laxague, Peter Erramouspe, Bertrand Indiano and Harry Cambron. The probable motive: after going to Shoshone Mike’s camp to investigate whether the band had butchered stolen cattle, the four men were shot by the Indians. But contemporary accounts say Snake confessed after being interrogated for 15 hours by a Paiute interpreter who didn’t speak Bannock, her language. Historians raise other questions. “Nevada’s Indian leaders insist that Shoshone Mike and his followers were not responsible for the deaths…of the sheepmen and others who have studied the case believe that cowboys working for the Miller-Lux outfit were the killers,” wrote Nevada historian Phil Earl in 1993. “…Bullets from the bodies do not match those from the weapons owned by the Indians. The Indians had some possessions of the deceased, horses, saddles, a watch and bullets…which they may have picked up when they found the bodies, but this is not evidence of their guilt.” Earle wrote that he talked to a posse member who “later learned of questions in the case, but could do nothing to rectify the injustice.” The Scouts proposed both sides of the story be put on the plaque — that the Indian band was blamed but others might have been responsible. BLM officials revised the inscription to say Mike’s people were the culprits. “It seemed the historical account is pretty clear that Shoshone Mike killed those four guys,” said David Valentine of Winnemucca, BLM archaeologist for the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trail National Conservation Area. Valentine said he isn’t aware of accounts contradicting the traditional story, but said he’d like to see further research. History comes alive The Boy Scouts also visited the site of the Denio sheep camp, where, during one of the coldest winters on record, a posse set off to track the Indian band. Mattson set the scene: “Hear the leather creaking and the spurs and buckles rattling,” he told the boys. “Fog clouds come from the horses’ muzzles and frost forms on bridles. As they ride out, the hoofbeats are muffled in the snow.” Johnny Anderson, 15, the troop’s first Eagle Scout, said he never felt as close to history as he did in the canyon. “It looked just like the pictures in the book,” he said. “It’s still remote and hasn’t changed. I’ll never forget it.” Shoshone Mike’s story didn’t end until 13 years ago, when the last survivor perished. Snake and two other captured children died of tuberculosis within a year of their capture, but the baby girl, Mike’s granddaughter, lived. She was adopted by a white family in Idaho and re-named Mary Jo Estep. She went to college and became a music teacher, but could get jobs only at Indian schools. She died in a nursing home on Dec. 19, 1992, at age 82 after being given medicine meant for another patient. Estep’s name was included in the original wording of the plaque. BLM officials removed the reference without explanation. “The BLM said Mike did it and they took Mary Jo Estep’s name off the monument too,” said Tyler Mattson, 12, Marvin’s son. “I didn’t like that and I didn’t feel good about it, but we really wanted to get the memorial up there. So I thought, whatever floats their boat is OK. “But we know it wasn’t necessarily what happened.”

www.prnewswire.com 20 Apr 2005 Armenians Launch Nationwide Genocide Ad Campaign Former Senator Bob Dole Expresses Appreciation to March For Humanity LOS ANGELES, April 20 /PRNewswire/ -- Armenians have taken their message to an unprecedented level this week with a nationwide advertising campaign raising awareness about the Armenian Genocide. The 30-second commercials coincide with an official letter to the March For Humanity received from Senator Bob Dole. "From 1915 to 1923, 1.5 million Armenians perished through a policy of deportation, torture, starvation, and massacre," reads the letter signed Bob Dole. "Despite the vast numbers of victims, many people remain unaware of this significant tragedy." "Americans have been kept in the dark about the Armenian Genocide and the subsequent horrors experienced by its 1.5 million victims," said Vicken Sosikian director of the March For Humanity. "Our ad campaign aims to educate the public about this crime against all humanity." The March For Humanity is a 215-mile walk from Fresno, Calif. to Sacramento. Started on April 2, the 19-day trek will conclude on April 21 with a rally at 11 a.m. on the steps of the state capitol building. The Rally For Humanity will feature many elected officials including California State Assembly Majority Leader Assemblyman Dario Frommer and Speaker Pro-tem Assembly member Leland Yee. "The March For Humanity brings people together in spirit of remembrance for all those who suffered. The more we spread awareness of such atrocities, the better prepared we are to prevent them in the future," wrote Senator Dole. "Thanks for all you do to educate our nation about this genocide." On April 24 Armenians worldwide will mark the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, seeking official recognition and reparations from the Turkish government. More information about the Armenian Genocide, the March For Humanity, and the Rally For Humanity are available at http://www.marchforhumanity.org.

BBC 23 Apr 2005 Demand for Rumsfeld abuse inquiry Donald Rumsfeld is already being sued over abuse claims The US should name a special prosecutor to look at Donald Rumsfeld's possible role in the abuse of US military prisoners, a human rights group says. Human Rights Watch says the US defence secretary may bear "command responsibility" for abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere. The organisation says others, like former CIA director George Tenet, should also face investigation. The Pentagon says Mr Rumsfeld did not authorise or condone any abuse. Human Rights Watch (HRW) released its report ahead of the first anniversary of the Abu Ghraib scandal, which broke in late April last year. The guys at the top who made the policies are going scot free Reed Brody HRW lawyer It emerged that US guards at the Baghdad prison had subjected Iraqi detainees to torture and abuse. Some guards have gone on trial but critics say there has been no full investigation into what senior defence figures knew about or even authorised. "The soldiers at the bottom of the chain are taking the heat for Abu Ghraib and torture around the world while the guys at the top who made the policies are going scot free," said Reed Brody, special counsel for HRW. Since Abu Ghraib, the Pentagon has also opened dozens of investigations into alleged abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, while allegations persist about mistreatment at the US military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. 'Evidence' HRW said Mr Rumsfeld could be liable for war crimes under the doctrine of "command responsibility" - the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for his subordinates' actions when he knows, or should know, that crimes are being committed but fails to stop them. Abu Ghraib revelations shocked the world and led to trials It said Mr Rumsfeld approved interrogation techniques - such as the use of guard dogs to frighten prisoners and painful "stress" positions - that violated the Geneva Conventions. It said the investigation should not be carried out by justice department officials because Attorney General Alberto Gonzales himself had a role in approving interrogation techniques. It called on Congress and the president to establish a special commission and appoint a special prosecutor. HRW says it has "substantial evidence warranting criminal investigations" into Mr Rumsfeld, Mr Tenet, Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, the former senior commander in Iraq, and Gen Geoffrey Miller, former commander of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. 'Unsubstantiated' Mr Rumsfeld is already being sued by two civil liberties groups on behalf of eight men who claim to have been abused by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. A Pentagon spokesman said HRW's allegations were "frivolous and unsubstantiated". Lt Cdr Flex Plexico said US policy requires that all detainees be treated humanely and that any credible allegations of illegal conduct are investigated. "There is nothing in the detention or interrogation policies established by Secretary Rumsfeld or the defence department that even remotely qualifies as torture," he told the BBC News website. "Secretary Rumsfeld has repeatedly condemned any abuse or mistreatment of detainees."

www.newsday.com 15 Apr 2005 NOW PLAYING Perlasca (Unrated). Giorgio Perlasca was an Italian cattle trader with a talent for negotiating tight spots in wartime. Cornered by the Nazis in Budapest in 1943, he exploited his history as a volunteer for Franco's Fascists during the Spanish Civil War to pass himself off as a Spanish consul, then proceeded to make a series of stunning executive decisions that saved the lives of 5,000 Hungarian Jews. He is now remembered as "the Italian Oskar Schindler." Director Alberto Negrin obviously wants to be remembered for having made the Italian "Schindler's List," but he operates at a level of full-tilt emotional grandstanding that makes Steven Spielberg look arid by comparison. This Perlasca (a businesslike Luca Zingaretti) is a self-sacrificing DC Comic book hero in want of a cape: diplomat, pugilist, Pied Piper, escape artist, conman, defender of the weak and deterrer of the mighty. Negrin constructs his movie as a series of operatic set pieces in which Perlasca rides to the rescue while the Jews loll helplessly in embassy safe houses or trudge with baby prams to the death trains. Composer Ennio Morricone pours on vats of honey-dipped music as the body count rises in increasingly gruesome ways that seem intended as catnip for gangster-thriller fans. Produced for Italian TV, "Perlasca" epitomizes the kind of soft-core Holocaust porn that people point to as evidence of how survivor memory can be vulgarized and diminished through dramatization. 2:06 (disturbing violence). In Italian with English subtitles. Quad Cinema, Manhattan. - Jan Stuart www.giorgioperlasca.it

washingtonpost.com 24 Apr 2005 The Good Terrorist Reviewed by David W. Blight Post Sunday, April 24, 2005; T01 John Brown, Abolistionist The Man Who Killed Slavery, Sparked the Civil War, and Seeded Civil Rights By David S. Reynolds. Knopf. 578 pp. $35 John Brown did not make it easy for people to love him -- until he died on the gallows. Perhaps no other figure in American experience straddles the blurred line between myth and history, legend and reality, quite like the domineering, violent, Calvinist abolitionist who attacked the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry in 1859 and provided, in a way, the Pearl Harbor of the Civil War. With 22 well-armed men, Brown's famous assault aimed to seize weapons and use them to foment a whirlwind of slave insurrection and flight. Through faulty strategy and timing, as well as a decided lack of slave support in the region, the raid failed, resulting in the death or ultimate execution of most of Brown's men. With great sensitivity, thorough research and some marvelous narrative, David S. Reynolds, a professor of English and American studies at the City University of New York Graduate Center, has ultimately decided to love John Brown. The result is a splendid if overwrought book. As Henry Ward Beecher remarked of Brown: "His soul was noble; his work was miserable. But a cord and gibbet would redeem all of that." Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson even more famously put it, Brown threw the slavery issue into moral relief and made "the gallows glorious like the cross." The image of John Brown, a 59-year-old selfless hero, dying to free black people from slavery, hanging from the slaveholders' scaffold in Virginia on a December morning, demands our attention and provides a grand pivot for the whole of American history. According to Reynolds, Brown was a homegrown "American terrorist," driven by religious certainty, but one who killed to create a democratic society. In our age of the war on terror, Reynolds's work, the first major biography of Brown in a generation, is timely indeed. Reynolds captures with arresting prose Brown's early life of poverty, his huge, tragic, rolling-stone family of 20 children with two wives, the business failures and bankruptcies in several states, the lasting influence of his staunchly Calvinist father and his genuine devotion to the human rights of African Americans. He also takes us deeper than any previous historian into Brown's exploits in the 1856-58 guerrilla war known as "Bleeding Kansas." In the murderous frontier struggle between pro-slavery and free-state advocates, Brown led a personal band of abolitionist warriors who fought pitched battles and executed some settlers. Moreover, the narratives of Brown's fascinating fund-raising tours of Eastern reform communities, the Harpers Ferry raid itself, his epic letter-writing from a jail cell while awaiting execution, and the hanging (with the whole world watching) are all beautifully executed. Reynolds practices "cultural biography," a mode of scholarship that places the great individual within the broadest possible contexts. Hence, this book contains long, sometimes extraneous asides on Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Abraham Lincoln, Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson and others. Above all, Reynolds is determined to demonstrate Brown's originality in his century as a man "free of racism," as a prophet of a "multicultural" America, and as a warrior for justice whose terrible deeds of violence were "ultimately noble" and transcended his era as they defined it. Admirably, Reynolds takes a three-part stand on the meaning of John Brown. The abolitionist, he declares, was "not insane" but a "deeply religious, flawed" reformer. The murders Brown plotted and committed at Pottawatomie, Kan., in 1856 were a "war crime committed against proslavery settlers by a man who saw slavery itself as an unprovoked war of one race against another," and hence "explainable" if not justified. And his Harpers Ferry raid was not a "wild-eyed, erratic scheme," but a plan to establish a mountain community or independent sanctuary of escaped slaves that would threaten and topple the slave system; its failure was due to Brown's "overconfidence in whites' ability to rise above racism and in blacks' willingness to rise up in insurrection." But when does flawed revolution fall into folly, and when is it noble heroism? This question forever haunts all who write about Brown. Reynolds is so determined to dig a moat of protection around Brown's legacy, and so devoted to the Transcendentalists' romantic defense of the old warrior as an antislavery Christian hero, that his analysis at times misfires. Puzzlingly, Reynolds never employs the term "revolutionary violence" -- killing rooted in the doctrine of the right of revolution against an oppressive state (one of the four principles in the preamble of the Declaration of Independence) -- to characterize Brown's actions. Instead, he prefers the more current and resonant "terrorism." Borrowing the term "good terrorist" from Doris Lessing, he argues that, as in the case of Brown's own hero, Oliver Cromwell, if the "choice of victims" is appropriate and the ends serve freedom and justice, then killing in the right cause can be a net "good." At Pottawatomie, Brown selected five pro-slavery settlers, dragged them unarmed from their homes in the dark of night and ordered his men to slash them to death with broadswords. Reynolds argues that such murders, which he admits were crimes, must be understood in the broader context of guerrilla war and "make sense" because of the "racial factor" in Brown's motives. They were intended as retribution for pro-slavery killings of a similar nature. But Reynolds leaves the anguished concept of a "good terrorist" -- fraught with too much modern meaning to fit Kansas in 1856 -- dangling in his readers' imaginations. The term mystifies more than it explains. Even if Brown was modeling his campaign on previous insurrections by slave rebels, this defense of a Kansas massacre seems tortured. Other matters of language will puzzle some readers. While Reynolds writes movingly about how Brown raised an entire family to be aggressively anti-racist, he awkwardly explains much of Brown's inspiration as his exposure to an ill-defined "black culture." Brown developed numerous friendships of equality, so rare for his time, with African Americans (famous and ordinary), but what black "culture" is he referring to here -- musical, spiritual, political, psychological? And to call Brown's unique racial egalitarianism a vision of a "multicultural" society seems a little too academic in a book that seeks a broad readership. Reynolds succeeds in humanizing Brown and especially the struggles of two of his sons, John Jr. and Owen, to cope with and follow their warrior father. That some of those sons rebelled and almost abandoned the old man's private war comes to light in these pages in riveting detail. Reynolds also skillfully discusses the ways in which the Brown "mystique" as a warrior and his "legend" as an abolitionist martyr took hold in American culture in the wake of his hanging. And in the final chapters he provides a sparkling analysis of the origins of the enduring song "John Brown's Body" and Brown's powerful hold on the literary and poetic imagination over time. But sometimes when Reynolds compares Brown to other major figures, such as Lincoln or Frederick Douglass, the cultural biographer stumbles. Is it really accurate to say that Lincoln, the "antislavery warrior" of the Second Inaugural in 1865, is a "heightened version" of Brown, the "God-directed fighter" on the gallows in 1859? Moreover, Reynolds's contention that Brown almost single-handedly turned Douglass away from pacifism to violence through the course of the 1850s traces far too much complexity and biography to a single cause. To declare Douglass "not as brave as his words" for not joining Brown at Harpers Ferry is to deny the former fugitive slave the wisdom and discretion that kept him alive . For those willing to see history itself through Reynolds's somewhat arcane Emersonian vision, in which "institutions and eras are the lengthened shadows of a few individuals . . . [and] if these people had not lived, the events they set in motion would not have occurred," this book will be a moving and convincing read. Perhaps the boldest, if oddest, feature of Reynolds's biography is his use of counterfactuals -- a historical practice that considers how things might have been rather than how they were -- to enhance Brown's historical significance. If he had lived in another era, Reynolds posits, Harpers Ferry would not have happened, the Civil War would have been delayed, and slavery would have endured longer. More specifically, he claims that secessionist arguments "would have carried little weight" in 1860-61 were it not for Brown's raid. Without question, Harpers Ferry influenced the election of 1860 and the secession crisis. But so did four decades of agitation and political conflict over the expansion of slavery. Southern secessionists were amply threatened by the Republican Party's determination to halt the spread of slavery long before Brown's men fired a gun. His raid tapped into a deep well of racial fear as much as it filled it. Brown was a great man, and specific events really did contribute to the coming of the Civil War. But playing out an alternative time line for the 19th century is not necessary to understand the old Puritan's importance. Reynolds convincingly shows, though, that it was more in death, not life, and in words, not deeds, that Brown achieved lasting significance. His extraordinary eloquence at his sentencing, reported all across the country, and his note handed to the jailer as he walked in chains to his death -- "the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood" -- are language and drama for the ages. It is Brown the authentically mythic figure of vengeance in the name of human freedom who still speaks to our own bloodied and distracted world. It is Brown on his own cross who still lives and dies for us in our history lessons. In nearly every one of the 22 paintings in Jacob Lawrence's magnificent series on John Brown, some image of a crucifix appears -- vividly in the elongated hanging body or obliquely in twisted crosses, rifles or knives. The artist seemed to know that Brown was somehow the nation on the gallows. Not easy to love, except by a necessary death. ? David W. Blight is a professor of American history at Yale University, author of "Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory" and director of Yale's Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition.

Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 26 Apr 2005 Extradited Genocide Suspect to Face Gacaca in Arusha A genocide suspect who was extradited from the United States on Friday, will soon appear before the Gacaca tribunal in his village. This was revealed to Hirondelle News Agency by Rwanda's deputy Attorney General, Martin Ngoga, on Monday. Enos Kagaba, 49, a former teacher at a medical school in Kibuye (western Rwanda) was handed over to Rwandan authorities on Friday after a three-year court battle to prevent his extradition. When the removal order was signed by the immigration appeals judge in the US, Kagaba became the first genocide suspect to be extradited to Rwanda following a court order. Ngoga who did not hide his country's pleasure said that there was "a renewed effort to track down fugitives wherever they are". "The message is loud and clear. Fugitives who have committed acts of genocide should not find a safe haven anywhere", announced the senior Rwandan official. Ngoga seemed to be echoing the exact words of Kristine D'Alesandro, Acting Chief of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)'s Human Rights Law Division (HRLD) when the judgment had first been read out last December. "The United States will not be a safe haven for human rights abusers," said D'Alesandro. "ICE attorneys secured an important victory for the hundreds of thousands of legal immigrants who come to America each year in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. The legal immigration system they respect will not be exploited by criminals", she said. When Kagaba was arrested at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in December 2001, he was first charged with attempting to enter the United States using false documents. ICE authorities later discovered his true identity and the fact that the accused was wanted in Rwanda for playing a role in the 1994 genocide. Enos Kagaba's name continued to come up during the trial of Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son, Dr. Gerald Ntakirutimana, who were both convicted of genocide in 2003 at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Part of the judgment in that case reads that; "Witness DD testified that among the attackers on 16 April he saw Gérard Ntakirutimana and Kagaba, both armed, and Ngirinshuti, who was unarmed". Martin Ngoga also revealed that it was up to the Gacaca tribunal to decide in which category to place the accused and whether he would be tried there in the village or by higher courts. Gacaca only deals with the lesser suspects (categories two and three) while those who fall into the first category are tried by convectional courts. Category one suspects are those who planned and organised the genocide, leaders, those who committed acts of sexual crimes, and "Notorious murderers who by virtue of the zeal or excessive malice with which they committed atrocities, distinguished themselves in their areas of residence or where they passed". This is the first time in history that an alien has been refused entry into the United States for having engaged in the genocide. While the US immigration and naturalisation act listed crimes that could be cited to force the removal of an alien, it was only in 1990 that the US Congress included the crime of genocide on the list. Immigration officials also recently apprehended another Rwandan genocide suspect who had been living in Chicago. Jean-Marie Vianney Mudahinyuka, alias "Zuzu", was arrested by ICE agents in Chicago and criminally charged with visa fraud after lying about his role in the Rwandan genocide. The Rwandan government has already issued a warrant of arrest for Mudahinyuka who is currently awaiting trial for visa fraud and assault of a federal officer.

AP 29 Apr 2005 Civil Rights Commission Closes 2 Offices U.S. Civil Rights Commission Closes Two Regional Offices, Citing Projected Budget Shortfalls By ERIN TEXEIRA The Associated Press Apr. 29, 2005 - Citing mounting debt and projected budget shortfalls, the U.S. Civil Rights Commission announced Friday it will close two of its six regional offices, lay off four staff members and request free rent on its office space for one month. The office also will offer early retirement packages and require remaining staff to take short furloughs, said Kenneth L. Marcus, the commission's staff director. "It's an extraordinarily difficult process," Marcus said. "We will continue providing civil rights services without pause." The 48-year-old commission is charged with making recommendations to the government on issues concerning equal opportunity for racial and ethnic communities, people with disabilities and other minority groups. Once called the "conscience of the nation," it laid the groundwork for the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But the commission's $9 million budget has not changed in 10 years, and it expects to face a $265,000 budget deficit this fiscal year. There are currently 64 staff members, down from 93 in 1996. Regional offices in Denver and Kansas City, Kan., will be closed by Oct. 31, Marcus said. The state-level civil rights work that is now coordinated in those offices will be folded into the remaining regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., he said. Staff members will each be required to take four or five days off without pay, and commission officials will ask that the General Services Administration, which oversees its office space, give them one month of free rent. With long-term underfunding and inadequate staffing, the problems were inevitable, said Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland who tracks civil rights issues. "We've got some very serious issues on the table with respect to diversity including affirmative action in higher education and voting rights activities," Walters said. "They need all the resources they can get to enter vigorously into those debates. By cutting back, it's going to cripple their ability to do that." Michael Yaki, a San Francisco attorney who was recently appointed to be one of eight commissioners, said he plans to lobby members of Congress to increase the commission's budget. "Even a modest amount of money would stave off the closures," he said. The civil rights agency has faced mounting troubles for nearly a decade. In 1997, the Government Accountability Office called it "an agency in disarray," criticizing its poor financial tracking and spotty project management and strategic planning. In the past year, some officials with the commission have been forced out and more conservative replacements have been brought in. Amid the turmoil, the fact-finding work at the commission's core has slowed dramatically. Last July, a report was issued on possible bias against Korean residents in Baltimore six years after the local commission held a hearing on those issues.



independent.co.uk 25 Apr 2005 UN investigator who exposed US army abuse forced out of his job By Nick Meo in Kabul 25 April 2005 The UN's top human rights investigator in Afghanistan has been forced out under American pressure just days after he presented a report criticising the US military for detaining suspects without trial and holding them in secret prisons. Cherif Bassiouni had needled the US military since his appointment a year ago, repeatedly trying, without success, to interview alleged Taliban and al-Qa'ida prisoners at the two biggest US bases in Afghanistan, Kandahar and Bagram. Mr Bassiouni's report had highlighted America's policy of detaining prisoners without trial and lambasted coalition officials for barring independent human rights monitors from its bases. Prisoners captured in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region are held at US bases, often before being shipped to Guantanamo Bay. Human Rights Watch called on Saturday for a US special prosecutor to investigate the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and Charles Tenet, the former-CIA director, for torture and abuse of detainees in jails around the world, including Abu Ghraib in Iraq. They should be held responsible under the doctrine of "command responsibility," it said. On Friday, the US army investigation into the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib cleared four out of five top officers of responsibility for the scandal which shocked the world when it broke a year ago. The only officer recommended for punishment is Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, who was in charge of Iraqi prisons at the time. The UN eliminated Mr Bassiouni's job last week after Washington had pressed for his mandate to be changed so that it would no longer cover the US military. Just days earlier, the Egyptian-born law professor, now based in Chicago, had presented his criticisms in a 24-page report to the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. The report, based on a year spent travelling around Afghanistan interviewing Afghans, international agency staff and the Afghan Human Rights Commission, estimated that around 1,000 Afghans had been detained and accused US troops of breaking into homes, arresting residents and abusing them.


Reuters 19 Apr 2005 Australian chief executive condemns ethnic violenceSYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia Football Federation (FFA) chief executive John O'Neill condemned on Tuesday a riot between ethnically opposed fans at the end of a second-tier Victoria state soccer league match on Sunday. Several hundred fans from a crowd estimated at 9,000 fought on the field after the match between the Preston Lions, supported by ethnic Macedonians, and the Greek-backed home team South Melbourne. "If people can't behave in an acceptable manner and support their team in the right way they should not go to matches," O'Neill told reporters in Melbourne. "The sort of behaviour that occurred won't be tolerated. "The message that the national governing body wants to send out to these people is that there is no place for them in football." Local media reported that flares, bottles, darts and coins were thrown during the riot. Four police, including two on horses, suffered minor injuries when they moved in to break it up. Two men were charged, one with assault and the other with unlawfully firing a flare. The incident is an embarrassment for soccer authorities a month after police launched investigations into a separate feud between two ethnic soccer clubs in Sydney that resulted in gunshots and a firebombing. Croatian-backed Sydney United and Serbian-supported Bonnyrigg White Eagles have been threatened with expulsion from the second-tier New South Wales state league after about 50 fans rioted during a match on March 13. The trouble deepened a day later when a Sydney United employee's car was set on fire and up to 12 shots were fired into the Bonnyrigg supporters club building. Soccer has long been a marginal sport compared with other Australian codes and is trying to present its best face after winning approval to swap from Oceania to Asia in a bid to develop the game and make it easier to qualify for the World Cup. The FFA has also revamped its domestic competition, relegating traditional clubs to state leagues after setting up an elite competition known as the A-league which is due to kick off in four months.


AP 17 Apr 2005 Cambodians mark start of genocide CHOEUNG EK, Cambodia (AP) -- Cambodians gathered Sunday at mass graves where 8,000 of their countrymen perished under the Khmer Rouge, praying with Buddhist monks for the victims on the 30th anniversary of the genocidal regime's seizure of power. The 30 monks -- one for each year since the fall of the capital, Phnom Penh -- chanted prayers for the victims, some of whose skulls lay piled one on top of another in a two-story tower nearby. Some survivors -- mostly women -- stood up to talk about their lost loved ones. One woman, speaking about her husband, broke down twice. Another woman, 61-year-old Sam Kim Tha, said her father, a monk, and her husband were killed by the Khmer Rouge and she's still angry about what the communist soldiers did. She comes to Choeung Ek every year to pray. An estimated 1.7 million people died from execution, starvation, ill health and overwork during the Khmer Rouge's 1975-1979 brutal rule. None of the regime's top leaders has been brought to trial, although the government has signed a deal with the United Nations to create a U.N.-backed tribunal. Following a brutal, five-year war between the Khmer Rouge guerrillas and a U.S.-backed government, the victors marched into Phnom Penh April 17, 1975, driving its residents into the countryside at gunpoint to become rice farmers and slave laborers. The Khmer Rouge victory preceded that of communist forces in Vietnam which captured the South Vietnamese capital, Saigon, on April 30, and forced remaining U.S. personnel to flee the country as they had earlier in Cambodia. Sunday's memorial, attended by more than 100 people, was organized by the opposition political party, the Sam Rainsy Party. Acting party leader Kong Korm said Cambodians couldn't forget the date. "On the one hand, to respect the dead, but on the other, to say to the world and as much to Cambodians, don't allow this type of regime" to return, he said in French. "We have to respect, completely and totally, human rights in Cambodia." Choeung Ek, marked by craters and signs noting the number or types of victims, made headlines in Cambodia in recent weeks when the Phnom Penh city government signed a deal with a Japanese company, giving it the right to manage the site for 30 years. This drew opposition from one of the country's leading genocide researchers. The site is located about 12 kilometers (seven miles) outside Phnom Penh. It often figures in the debate about the practice of maintaining skulls and bones of Khmer Rouge victims as monuments, since many Cambodians believe the souls of the dead linger on earth because their remains have not received a traditional Buddhist cremation.

NYT 17 Apr 2005 OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR A Birthday Wrapped in Cambodian History By LOUNG UNG Cleveland TODAY is my birthday. April 17 is what's on my driver's license and other documents. But I don't know for sure, and probably never will. All I know is that I was born in Cambodia, sometime during 1970. In Cambodia, we didn't celebrate birthdays, so while my mother and father knew the date, I had no reason to remember it. Instead, my early years were marked by joyous events like the New Year, the Water Festival and various Buddhist holidays. In the early 1970's, Southeast Asia was full of strife; the Soviet Union, China and the United States were fighting in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. But my earliest years were wonderfully free of war and conflict. My father was a high-ranking military officer, which meant a privileged lifestyle. Our house was filled with food and toys and even had a washing machine and an indoor toilet. I spent my days fighting with my three sisters and spying on my three brothers as they danced to Beatles songs in their bell-bottom pants. We went to school six days a week, and on Sundays, we swam or watched movies at the international youth club in Phnom Penh. On April 17, 1975, the Communist Khmer Rouge regime took over my country, and my charmed life came to an abrupt end. I remember that day well. I was on the street playing hopscotch with one of my sisters when rows of mud-covered trucks drove by. On the trucks, men in uniforms were yelling into bullhorns, ordering us to leave our homes, telling us that the Americans were going to bomb us and if we didn't leave we would die. Chaos and fear swept through Phnom Penh. More than two million people were evicted in less than 72 hours. Later, we heard that those who refused to leave were shot dead. My family was forced to march to a remote village. There we lived without religion, school, music, clocks, radios, movies, television or any modern technology. The soldiers dictated when we ate, slept and worked. Desperate to eliminate any threats, real or perceived, to their plans for the country, the soldiers proceeded to execute teachers, doctors, lawyers, architects, civil servants, politicians, police officers, singers, actors. While children elsewhere in the world watched TV, I watched public executions. While they played hide-and-seek with their friends, I hid in bomb shelters with mine; when a bomb hit and killed my friend Pithy, I brushed her brains off my sleeve. I will never forget the day they came for my father. They said they needed him to help pull an oxcart out of the mud. As he walked off with the soldiers, I did not pray for the gods to spare his life. I prayed only that his death be quick and painless. I was 7 years old. My war ended in 1979 when the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia and defeated the Khmer Rouge's army. But it was too late for the 1.7 million Cambodians killed, almost a third of the country's population of seven million. Among the victims were my parents and two sisters. My birth date died with them. In 1980, my oldest brother, Meng, found a fishing boat that would take us from Cambodia to a refugee camp in Thailand where we would eventually be sent to America. Because we could afford to buy only three seats on the boat, the family decided that Meng and I, along with Meng's wife, would make the trip, leaving behind our three surviving siblings. When we arrived at the camp, Meng had to fill out the refugee papers, which asked for my birthday. He chose April 17 - the day the Khmer Rouge took over our country. With a few strokes of his pen, he made sure I would never forget Cambodia. Of course I knew April 17 wasn't really the day I was born, but I loved the American custom of celebrating birthdays. I was excited as each one approached, but I also felt sad and guilty. It was hard to be joyful on a date so many associated with death. In my early 20's, I stopped celebrating my birthday, hoping to leave Cambodia and the dead behind. It wasn't until 1995 - 15 years after leaving Cambodia - that I had the courage to go back. My anxieties increased and my nightmares returned. Though I was eager to see my relatives, I was also filled with guilt knowing that while I had enough food to eat, attended school and played soccer in America, my sister and her family lived without electricity and running water and struggled to grow their own food in fields littered with land mines. And when I emerged from customs in Phnom Penh - smiling, and dressed like an American traveler in loose-fitting black pants, a brown T-shirt, and sporty black sandals - I was greeted by frowns. "You look like a Khmer Rouge," a cousin announced, saying my clothes resembled the uniform worn by the soldiers. I realized then that the Khmer Rouge will affect me forever. Since that awkward first visit, I have returned to Cambodia more than 25 times. My heart still breaks when I think about the Khmer Rouge - their corruption, their cruelty, their murders and the devastating poverty they left behind. The sadness turns to anger when I think that, 30 years to the day since the horrific takeover, the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders have not been punished (although an international tribunal is within tantalizing reach). But when my thoughts turn away from the genocide to its survivors, I am immensely proud. Our people have been waiting 26 years for justice, but we have stayed strong, resilient and hopeful. On this anniversary date and on my birthday, these are the strengths that support me when the dark memories resurface. My Cambodia today is beautiful even as it continues to recover from the killing fields; it is also filled with new memories of life and love, shared by a new generation of Cambodians and a new generation of Ungs. I know now that no matter where I live or what my real birthday is, Cambodia will always be in my heart and soul. Loung Ung, a spokeswoman for the Cambodia Fund, a program that helps disabled Cambodians and amputees, is the author, most recently, of "Lucky Child."


BBC 11 Apr 2005 Scarred by history: The Rape of Nanjing Between December 1937 and March 1938 one of the worst massacres in modern times took place. Japanese troops captured the Chinese city of Nanjing and embarked on a campaign of murder, rape and looting. Based on estimates made by historians and charity organisations in the city at the time, between 250,000 and 300,000 people were killed, many of them women and children. The number of women raped was said by Westerners who were there to be 20,000, and there were widespread accounts of civilians being hacked to death. Yet many Japanese officials and historians deny there was a massacre on such a scale. They admit that deaths and rapes did occur, but say they were on a much smaller scale than reported. And in any case, they argue, these things happen in times of war. The Sino-Japanese Wars In 1931, Japan invaded Chinese Manchuria following a bombing incident at a railway controlled by Japanese interests. The Chinese troops were no match for their opponents and Japan ended up in control of great swathes of Chinese territory. The following years saw Japan consolidate its hold, while China suffered civil war between communists and the nationalists of the Kuomintang. The latter were led by General Chiang Kai-shek, whose capital was at Nanjing. Many Japanese, particularly some elements of the army, wanted to increase their influence and in July 1937, a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese troops escalated into full-scale war. The Japanese again had initial success, but then there was a period of successful Chinese defence before the Japanese broke through at Shanghai and swiftly moved on to Nanjing. Chiang Kai-shek's troops had already left the city and the Japanese army occupied it without difficulty. 'One of the great atrocities of modern times' At the time, the Japanese army did not have a reputation for brutality. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5, the Japanese commanders had behaved with great courtesy towards their defeated opponents, but this was very different. Japanese papers reported competitions among junior officers to kill the most Chinese. There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today Minnie Vautrin US woman in Nanjing One Japanese newspaper correspondent saw lines of Chinese being taken for execution on the banks of the Yangtze River, where he saw piles of burned corpses. Photographs from the time, now part of an exhibition in the city, show Japanese soldiers standing, smiling, among heaps of dead bodies. Tillman Durdin of the New York Times reported the early stages of the massacre before being forced to leave. He later wrote: "I was 29 and it was my first big story for the New York Times. So I drove down to the waterfront in my car. And to get to the gate I had to just climb over masses of bodies accumulated there." "The car just had to drive over these dead bodies. And the scene on the river front, as I waited for the launch... was of a group of smoking, chattering Japanese officers overseeing the massacring of a battalion of Chinese captured troops." "They were marching about in groups of about 15, machine-gunning them." As he departed, he saw 200 men being executed in 10 minutes to the apparent enjoyment of Japanese military spectators. He concluded that the rape of Nanjing was "one of the great atrocities of modern times". 'The memories cannot be erased' A Christian missionary, John Magee, described Japanese soldiers as killing not only "every prisoner they could find but also a vast number of ordinary citizens of all ages". "Many of them were shot down like the hunting of rabbits in the streets," he said. After what he described as a week of murder and rape, the Rev Magee joined other Westerners in trying to set up an international safety zone. Another who tried to help was an American woman, Minnie Vautrin, who kept a diary which has been likened to that of Anne Frank. Her entry for 16 December reads: "There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from the language school [where she worked] last night, and today I have heard scores of heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night - one of the girls was but 12 years old." Later, she wrote: "How many thousands were mowed down by guns or bayoneted we shall probably never know. For in many cases oil was thrown over their bodies and then they were burned." "Charred bodies tell the tales of some of these tragedies. The events of the following ten days are growing dim. But there are certain of them that lifetime will not erase from my memory and the memories of those who have been in Nanjing through this period." Minnie Vautrin suffered a nervous breakdown in 1940 and returned to the US. She committed suicide in 1941. Also horrified at what he saw was John Rabe, a German who was head of the local Nazi party. He became leader of the international safety zone and recorded what he saw, some of it on film, but this was banned by the Nazis when he returned to Germany. He wrote about rape and other brutalities which occurred even in the middle of the supposedly protected area. Confession and denial After the Second World War was over, one of the Japanese soldiers who was in Nanjing spoke about what he had seen. Azuma Shiro recalled one episode: "There were about 37 old men, old women and children. We captured them and gathered them in a square." "There was a woman holding a child on her right arm... and another one on her left." "We stabbed and killed them, all three - like potatoes in a skewer. I thought then, it's been only one month since I left home... and 30 days later I was killing people without remorse." Mr Shiro suffered for his confession: "When there was a war exhibition in Kyoto, I testified. The first person who criticized me was a lady in Tokyo. She said I was damaging those who died in the war." "She called me incessantly for three or four days. More and more letters came and the attack became so severe... that the police had to provide me with protection." Such testimony, however, has been discounted at the highest levels in Japan. Former Justice Minister Shigeto Nagano denied that the massacre had occurred, claiming it was a Chinese fabrication. Professor Ienaga Saburo spent many years fighting the Japanese government in the courts with only limited success for not allowing true accounts of Japanese war atrocities to be given in school textbooks. There is also opposition to the idea among ordinary Japanese people. A film called Don't Cry Nanjing was made by Chinese and Hong Kong film-makers in 1995 but it was several years before it was shown in Japan.

washingtonpost.com China's Selective Memory By Fred Hiatt Monday, April 18, 2005; Page A17 China, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has made clear that it doesn't think Japan is deserving of similar status. You might wonder why not. After all, Japan is one of the world's largest contributors of foreign aid and most generous backers of the United Nations, a successful democracy for more than a half-century, with a powerhouse economy and a constitution that forbids aggression. But here's the problem, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao explained last week: "Japan needs to face up to history squarely." After another weekend of anti-Japanese protests and riots in China, China's foreign minister yesterday amplified that "the main problem now is that the Japanese government has done a series of things that have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people . . . especially in its treatment of history." Truth in history is an interesting standard for great-power status. One intriguing response would be for Japan to embrace it and suggest politely that, if China wants to keep its Security Council seat, it ought to do the same. There's no doubt, as Premier Wen implied, that some Japanese have a hard time admitting the terrible things their troops did in China, Korea and other occupied Asian countries before and during World War II. Apologies sometimes seem to be mumbled, and textbooks sometimes minimize past crimes. Recently, for example, Japan's education ministry approved a textbook that refers to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre as an "incident" during which "many" Chinese were killed, though some estimates of civilian deaths run as high as 300,000. News of these textbooks helped spark the anti-Japanese riots in Chinese cities. But put the issue in some perspective: Many textbooks receive ministry approval in Tokyo, and no school is forced to use any particular one. Issues of war guilt or innocence, and of proper historiography, are debated endlessly and openly in Japanese newspapers, magazines and universities. Some Japanese demonstrate against politicians who won't go to Yasukuni Shrine -- where Japan's war dead, including some who were judged war criminals, are honored -- while other Japanese demonstrate against politicians who do go. Compare this to the situation in Premier Wen's China. There is only one acceptable version of history, at least at any given time; history often changes, but only when the Communist Party decides to change it. For example, according to a report by Howard W. French in the New York Times last December, many textbooks don't mention that anyone died at what the outside world knows as the 1989 massacre of student demonstrators near Tiananmen Square. One 1998 text notes only that "the Central Committee took action in time and restored calm." Anyone who challenges the official fiction is subject to harsh punishment, including beatings, house arrest or imprisonment. And if the 300,000 victims of the Nanjing Massacre are slighted in some Japanese textbooks, what of the 30 million Chinese who died in famines created by Mao Zedong's lunatic Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1962? No mention in Chinese texts; didn't happen. Well, you might say, how a nation treats its internal history is less relevant to its qualifications for the Security Council than whether it teaches its children honestly about its wars with other nations. A dubious proposition, but no matter; as the Times found in its review of textbooks, Chinese children do not learn of their nation's invasion of Tibet (1950) or aggression against Vietnam (1979). And they are taught that Japan was defeated in World War II by Chinese Communist guerrillas; Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima and Midway don't figure in. "Facing up to history squarely" isn't easy for any country. Americans don't agree on how to remember the Confederacy. Russia can't yet admit to Soviet depredations in the Baltic republics. And, yes, Japan too often sees itself purely as a victim of World War II. But in countries that permit open debate, historical interpretations can be constantly challenged, revised, maybe brought closer to the truth. In dictatorships that use history as one more tool to maintain power, there's no such hope. China's Communists used to find it useful to vilify Russia in their history texts. These days, for reasons of China's aspirations to lead Asia, Japan makes a more convenient villain. Next year might be America's turn. The reasons may be complex, but none of them has much to do with facing history squarely.

NYT 28 Apr 2005 OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR China's Selective Memory By PU ZHIQIANG New Haven EVER since June 4, 1989, when the world's cameras embarrassed the Chinese government by recording the slaughter of unarmed protesters in Beijing, spring has been a sensitive period in Chinese politics. Public demonstrations of all kinds have been repressed as if they were vicious cancers. It is indeed news, then, that people have been protesting in the streets of Chinese cities about Japan's wartime past, its textbooks' reluctance to face history squarely, and its proposed accession to the United Nations Security Council. Of course, the fundamental nature of these protests is different from that of the demonstrations of 1989, because they so far have had the tacit approval of the authorities. The protesters have incurred essentially zero risk, and suspense over the outcome has also been near zero. But even when protests are government-sanctioned, they still offer the Chinese people a rare chance to let off some steam. If truth be told, however, China and Japan have much in common. China shares many of Japan's flaws and has yet to master some of its important strengths. We Chinese are outraged by Japan's World War II crimes - the forcing of Chinese into sexual slavery as "comfort women," the 1937 massacre of unarmed civilians in Nanking, and the experiments in biological warfare. Our indignation redoubles when the Japanese distort or paper over this record in their museums and their textbooks. But if we look honestly at ourselves - at the massacres and invasions strewn through Chinese history, or just at the suppression of protesters in recent times - and if we compare the behavior of the Japanese military with that of our own soldiers, there is not much to distinguish China from Japan. This comparison haunts me. When I think of the forced labor in Japanese prison camps, I am reminded of forced labor camps in China, and also of the Chinese miners who lose their lives when forced to re-enter mines that everyone knows are unsafe. Are the rights of China's poor today really so much better protected than those of the wretched "colonized slaves" during the Japanese occupation? There was the Nanking massacre, but was not the murder of unarmed citizens in Beijing 16 years ago also a massacre? Is Japan's clumsy effort to cover up history in its textbooks any worse than the gaping omissions and biased blather in Chinese textbooks? China's textbooks omit the story of how the Great Leap Forward of the late 1950's was actually the disastrous failure of a harebrained economic scheme by Mao that led to the starvation of 20 million to 50 million rural Chinese. No one really knows the numbers. Nor do we know how many were killed in the campaigns to suppress "counterrevolutionaries" during the 1950's, in the Cultural Revolution during the 1960's, or even in the Beijing massacre of 1989. Yet we hold Japan firmly responsible for 300,000 deaths at Nanking. Does our confidence with numbers depend on who did the killing? China and Japan both have blood on their hands, but they have important differences as well. Comfort women and others whom Japan has injured or insulted can sue either Japan's government or its big companies, and they can do this in either Japanese or Chinese courts. Japanese who want to can demonstrate in Tokyo shouting "Down with Japanese militarism!" These things are very different in China. The Chinese government decides on its own whether to give modest compensation to the widows of dead miners. Ordinary workers and farmers are often in the position of issuing appeals to the very people who are oppressing them. Families of Beijing massacre victims to this day have police stationed at their doorways, lest they misbehave. And demonstrators may shout only about approved topics. Before we in China decide we are superior to Japan, we must address our own double standards. Pu Zhiqiang is a Chinese lawyer. This article was translated by Perry Link from the Chinese.

washingtonpost.com In China, Roots Of Anger Toward Japan Run Deep Lasting Sting of Wartime Atrocities Fuels Protests Over Moves by Tokyo By Edward Cody Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday, April 20, 2005; Page A12 NANJING, China, April 19 -- Despite his mild manners, Liu Weiming displayed raw feelings and anger when it came to the subject of Japan. With no room for doubt in his voice, he insisted China must stand firm in its demand for a clear accounting of atrocities committed by Japanese troops during World War II. "Like the Chinese government said, the Japanese people should recognize their crimes in a clear way," said Liu, 36, a telecommunications engineer who on Tuesday visited the memorial here to victims of the Nanjing Massacre. Historians say 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese were killed during Japan's occupation of the city, which began in 1937. "Even before I came here, I hated the Japanese," he added. "I know of their crimes." The sentiments expressed by Liu and other visitors at Nanjing's striking, gray-granite World War II memorial went a long way toward explaining the vehemence of recent anti-Japanese demonstrations across China. To a large degree, they gave context to the inflexible positions adopted by the Chinese government recently in dealing with Tokyo and the insistent demand from Beijing for a greater show of remorse from the Japanese leadership. Protests have erupted in a dozen cities over the past two weeks, damaging Japanese diplomatic buildings and private businesses. Such public displays of political sentiment are typically tightly policed in this authoritarian country and require official approval and perhaps organizational help. But judging by comments from a variety of Chinese, the mostly college-age marchers represented widespread resentment against Japan more than half a century after the end of World War II. "The Japanese people committed such a horrible crime against the Chinese people," said a retired Beijing schoolteacher named Zhang, who traveled to visit the memorial, 575 miles southeast of the capital, as part of a trip organized by her teachers association. Zhang, 60, who declined to give her full name, said she reacted emotionally after viewing the museum exhibits describing events in Nanjing during the occupation. "I feel so sorry," she said hesitantly, searching for words to express her feelings. "It's hard to bear. And it makes me a little angry, too." More than 10 million people have visited the memorial since it opened in 1985, according to museum officials. They have come by busloads, gazing silently at victims' bones, shards of their clothing and walls full of photos depicting killings in Nanjing over a six-week rampage of destruction, rapes and executions. The museum's official name is the Memorial Hall for Compatriots Killed in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Forces of Aggression. "I hate the Japanese, hate, anger," said Xin Hongwei, 38, who traveled here from rural Henan province with Liu and spent more than an hour passing through the memorial's sober below-ground viewing rooms. "I am very angry over their wrongdoings." The Chinese government, while repressing political movements with domestic goals, has fostered such anti-Japanese feelings over the years. Through education and the censored news media, Chinese repeatedly have been told of a failure by the Japanese government to confront its crimes. Many of the people who have visited the Nanjing monument come as part of tours sponsored by their local governments or government-run organizations. Some visitors on Tuesday expressed concern about the protests around the country. Wu Duoqui, a 21-year-old student at Nanjing Forestry University, said that he supported the demonstrations but that "we shouldn't be too raucous." "I think we should arouse patriotic feelings, but in a proper way," agreed Li Fengming, 21, his classmate. "Of course, the government should take effective measures to control it. But it is good for us to have these feelings." The Chinese government has frequently focused on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visits to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, which honors Japanese war dead, including officers judged to be war criminals. The government cites such visits as an example of insensitivity. News reports from Tokyo said Japanese lawmakers, including a former defense minister, planned to visit the shrine on Friday, according to the Associated Press. In addition, the Chinese government has been upset over textbooks approved by Japan's Education Ministry that, according to Chinese officials and academics, play down Japan's conduct during the war. The recent protests were set off by news from Tokyo that on April 4, the Education Ministry had approved eight new junior high history textbooks, five of which refer to what happened here as the "Nanjing incident." As China's power and influence grows, strategic rivalry has also contributed to the increasing wariness between Beijing and Tokyo. Disputes over energy resources in the East China Sea and sovereignty in a string of islands south of Okinawa have heightened the tension. And China's security analysts have expressed concern over what they read as signs that Japan is leaning toward closer cooperation with the United States in the defense of Taiwan. But for visitors to the museum, the memory of World War II causes the friction. Liu said that last week, he and his friends in Henan's Ruyang County helped gather nearly 10,000 signatures of people pledging to boycott Japanese products because of the new textbook approved in Tokyo. "Japan killed more than 300,000 Chinese here," Dang Chaoxian, 75, a visitor to the Nanjing memorial, said Tuesday. "We don't want to kill that many Japanese. We just want them to recognize their faults." Dang said he fought in the war between Communists and Nationalists that intensified after World War II and ended in 1949 with the victory of Mao Zedong and the establishment of the Communist government. He said the memory is still vivid. "I was a soldier during the war of liberation," he recalled. "I know what war is. We don't want war. But Japan should offer a sincere apology to the Chinese people." Sachiko Sakamaki in Tokyo contributed to this report.


rediff.com 'We're victims of genocide, Mr Musharraf' April 16, 2005 19:30 IST Coinciding with Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's visit to India, an organisation of Kashmiri Pandits in an open letter to the visiting dignitary has stressed on the need to control jihadi elements and protect the values of 'Kasmiriyat.' "We, the victims of genocide, seek your cooperation in establishing a humane society in Kashmir by controlling the jihadi elements who recently even opposed the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service," the All India Kashmir Samaj said in the letter. This, it said, was important to "reinstall the cherished values of Kashmiriyat so that all faiths, castes and creeds can live and co-exist as honourable citizens of this great country." "That now the process of uniting the divided people has been set in motion, it is surprising that the fate of Kashmiri Pandits, the worst victims of genocide, has never caught your attention," the Kashmiri organisation said, adding that a secular Kashmir was important for having communal amity in the sub-continent.


BBC 18 Ap2 2005 Hundreds arrested in Iran clashes Three people have died and about 200 others have been arrested over the past few days in ethnic clashes in the south-west of Iran. The clashes are thought to have been sparked by a letter, allegedly from the president's office, about changing the ethnic makeup of the area. But Intelligence Minister Ali Younessi said the letter was a fake. He said many of those arrested had ties to foreign groups or TV networks aiming to overthrow Iran's Islamic government. He said these included innocent young people who had been deceived and provoked by secret agents. On Saturday, three people were reported to have been killed when government offices and banks came under attack in the city of Ahwaz in Khuzestan province, which borders Iraq. The clashes are believed to have been between the police and ethnic Arabs, who are the majority in Ahwaz though they make up only 3% of the population of Iran.

British Ahwazi Friendship Society, UK 18 Apr 2005 www.ahwaz.org.uk At least 23 dead in Ahwaz unrest New details are emerging on the casualties of this weekend's bloodbath in Khuzestan, in which Iranian security forces fired on unarmed Ahwazi Arabs. At least 23 people were killed, 500 injured and 250 arrested in the government's three-day crack-down on Ahwazis demonstrating against the regime. Among the dead were children, including eight-year-old Musa Shamoosi and 13-year-old Ali Sabhani, who were shot down by Iranian soldiers. According to human rights observers, the Iranian security forces used "helicopter gunships, tear gas canisters and debilitating poison-filled bullets" on Ahwazi civilians. Several prominent Ahwazi indigenous religious, tribal and community leaders including Haj Ebrahim Ameri and Kazem Mojadam have been arrested, along with most of the leadership of the Islamic Wafagh Party, a legal Iranian political party. The Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV has also been banned from Iran and telephone lines have been disconnected, as the regime begins to shut down all lines of communication between Khuzestan and the outside world. The Ahwazi Arabs were demonstrating against an "ethnic restructuring" programme detailed in a letter leaked from President Khatami's office. The leaked letter - marked "top secret" - has been condemned as a forgery by its author, former Vice President Mohamed Ali Abtahi (pictured). But the British Ahwazi Friendship Society has confirmed its authenticity with a former member of Khatami's staff, who verified the official stamps and signatures on the letter as genuine. The letter and an English translation can be downloaded here. In recent years, the Iranian government has confiscated more than 90,000 hectares of indigenous Ahwazi farmland and the inhabitants have been forced to leave their homeland and migrate to non-Arab provinces. There are around 4.5 million Ahwazi Arabs in the province of Khuzestan. Khuzestan is a highly strategic province, both from a point of its oil wealth and sugar plantations and its proximity to Iraq and Kuwait. The regime wants to Persianise the province to consolidate its geopolitical power at a time of increasing economic and political insecurity. BAFS Chairman Daniel Brett said: "The letter confirmed what many Ahwazis already knew: that they are being subjected to a campaign of ethnic cleansing sanctioned by President. "The brutality of the government's response to the demonstration this weekend indicates that they have little regard for the human rights of the indigenous Arabs in the province. "We call on the international community to recognise the persecution of ethnic Ahwazis, give sanctuary to Ahwazis fleeing the government's ethnic cleansing campaign and to put pressure on the UN to act on Iran's appalling human rights record." Amnesty International is preparing an urgent action campaign on behalf of prisoners of conscience detained in the demonstration. The Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) has also compiled a list of those killed whose family permitted publication of their names: 1. Musa Shamoosi (8-years old) resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 2. Nasser Abiat, resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 3. Mehdi Afrawi, resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 4. Ali Sabhani (13-year old), resident of Hamidieh, in Khuzestan, Iran 5. Hadi Sabhani, resident of Hamidieh, in Khuzestan, Iran 6. Nasser Khazraji, resident of Malashoeh, Ahwaz-Khuzestan, Iran 7. Ebrahim Ghazi, , resident of Malashoeh, Ahwaz-Khuzestan, Iran 8. Ali Abiat, resident of Malashoeh, Ahwaz-Khuzestan, Iran 9. Nasser Daghalegheh, resident of kut Dayed Saleh, Khuzestan, Iran 10. Sayed Khalaf Mousawi, resident of Kut Sayed Saleh, Khuzestan, Iran 11. Mehdi Hanoon-Haydari, resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 12. Reza Abiadawi, resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 13. Alam Khazraji, resident of Maleshiah, in Khuzestan, Iran 14. Naji Abiat (20-years old), Ahwaz, Khuzestan 15. Ali Muhammad, resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 16. Abed, Nawasseri, resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 17. Sadegh Nawasseri, resident of Ahwaz City in Khuzestan, Iran 18. Mehdi Abdolhussain, resident of Hamidieh, in Khuzestan, Iran 19. Reza Aboud Hussaini, resident of Hamidieh, in Khuzestan, Iran 20. Mehdi Yazdan-Abiawi, resident of Hamidieh, in Khuzestan, Iran

Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (Netherlands) 25 Apr 2005 www.unpo.org Ahwazi Ahwazi: Clashes between Iranian Security Forces and Ahwazi Demonstrators Continue More than 130 have been killed, 806 injured and 1,700 arrested following a week of unrest in Iran's Arab-dominated province of Khuzestan, said the Ahwaz Human Rights Organisation (AHRO) today. The AHRO, which has been co-operating with Amnesty International's own inquiries, gathered the information through telephone interviews, e-mails and faxes with its contacts in Khuzestan. Kuwait's Al-Watan newspaper reported that water, electricity and power supplies were still cut from Kut-Abdullah and other parts of the province. The situation is described as "desperate". Demonstations Violence continued into its ninth day today, with eye-witness reports of clashes between Iranian security forces and Ahwazi demonstrators in Khafjieh (Sosangerd), leaving seven dead and dozens injured. Six were also killed in Shush. On Friday and Saturday, five people were killed in Maashur (Mahshahr) and two were killed in Fallahieah (Shadegan). Large demonstrations by Ahwazi Arabs also took place today in Mohammarah (Khorramshahr). Soldiers sealed off the area and arrested hundreds of protestors. Residents claimed that today's Mohammarah demonstration was the largest and most confrontational since a week-long revolt in the city in 1980, which was crushed by Admiral Madani, the then governor general of Khuzestan, killing 316 demonstrators. Snipers have been deployed on roof-tops by Revolutionary Guards in Ahwaz City, where sporadic protests have been broken up by soldiers firing into the air. Gunfire was heard through Saturday night in the city's Lashkar-Abad district. Arab residents of the city are said to be living in terror. Meanwhile, a liquefied natural gas plant in north of Ahwaz City was set alight and was still reported to be on fire on Sunday. The government's attacks on Arabs have been indiscriminate. Among the dead are pregnant women, children and elderly, with the age of casualties ranging from six to 70 years old. Arab homes and markets have been set alight. Hospitals are refusing to admit injured demonstrators, some of whom subsequently died of their injuries. Pharmacies have also been ordered not to sell first aid medicines to the injured. Iranian organisations and groups representing non-Persian minorities, including the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran, have voiced their solidarity with the Ahwazi Intifada. Crack-down The Lebanese Hezbollah - which is trained in Khuzestan - appears to have been conscripted into the crack-down. Among those attacking demonstrators were Arab-speakers with distinctly Lebanese accents, according to reports on the ground. The regime claimed it released on Friday 135 detainees arrested in the past week, but their families claim they still have no contact with them. The government has demanded cash bonds of US$1,800 - more than twice the average annual salary of Ahwazi Arabs - to release detainees on bail. Ethnic Arab lawyers, doctors, teachers, engineers, nurses and university students are still being held in custody as part of the regime's effort to "dry up the source of revolt". Propaganda Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei led a high-level delegation to Ahwaz City on Friday and staged a demonstration in support of the regime. Up to 1,000 people arrived by bus from ethnic Persian areas to attend the demonstration of loyalty, dubbed "Ahwaz Day" by the regime. Security forces reportedly handed out Arab clothing to the ethnic Persian demonstrators to give an impression of Persian-Arab unity behind the regime. A similar hastily-organised gathering occurred in Mahshahr.

Persian Journal 25 Apr 2005 iranian.ws Iran: "Arab Ring-leader Wanted, Dead or Alive" Iranian security forces have launched a fresh hunt for the alleged ringleaders of deadly violence involving ethnic Arabs from the southwestern province of Khuzestan, an official was quoted as saying Sunday. "The arrests of the main elements and others involved in the unrest has been underway since the morning," with police working on leads given by those already detained, Ahvaz prosecuter Iraj Amirkhani. He said 205 people were still being held in connection with last week's clashes in Ahvaz, a city where Iran's three percent Arab minority are in the majority. According to official figures, five people were killed in the clashes. Amirkhani said five "instigators" of the clashes were arrested in the midst of the unrest, and had "confessed they had been paid 20 mln rials)... to vandalise banks and public places". The violence, which lasted from April 15-18, appeared to have been sparked by a forged letter, dating back seven years and attributed to then vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, calling for modifications to oil-rich Khuzestan's ethnic composition. Iran's Islamic regime blamed foreigners and counter-revolutionaries for the ethnic tensions, but admitted the province's development was still hampered by the devastation it suffered during the 1980-88 war with neighbouring Iraq. Authorities have made clear they have no intention of changing the ethnic balance of the province in favour of non-Arabs.


AP 17 Apr. 2005 Kuwaitis found in Iraqi mass graves The Associated Press BAGHDAD, Iraq - The bodies of 41 Kuwaitis believed killed during the first Persian Gulf War have been unearthed in southern Iraq, one of 295 mass graves containing thousands of Saddam Hussein's victims uncovered in the two years since U.S.-led forces invaded and ousted the dictator, an Iraqi official said Saturday. The discovery in the city of Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, was another step in documenting what happened to 605 Kuwaitis who have been missing since the 1991 gulf war. The bodies of only 190 other Kuwaitis have been identified. Around the country, Iraq's human rights minister, Bakhtiar Amin, said some mass graves contained the remains of dozens of people, while others had thousands, with victims including Kuwaitis and minority Kurds who were killed during Saddam's rule. "Iraq is a land of mass graves due to the genocide policy of Saddam Hussein," he said. "We have hundreds of thousands of people missing." It was difficult to estimate how many people were buried in the different sites, since some graves had several layers that have not yet been uncovered, Amin said. At a a site in Hatra, Amin said, "we went looking for one and we found 11. It's difficult to say. It could be more, it could be less. The number of missing is calculated to be about one million in Iraq," he said. Nearly 2,000 bodies were found recently in the area of Samawah in northern Iraq. The entire site is believed to hold members of Massoud Barzani's clan. About 8,000 relatives of Barzani, who heads the Kurdish Democratic Party, were taken from a camp in the northern city of Irbil in 1983 and never heard from again.

www.guardian.co.uk 19 Apr 2005 Obituary Marla Ruzicka, activist, born December 31 1976; died April 16 2005 Marla Ruzicka Idealistic young aid worker who championed Iraq's forgotten victims Jonathan Steele Tuesday April 19, 2005 The Guardian Marla Ruzicka, who has been killed by a car bomber near Baghdad airport, was an extraordinary, one-person American aid agency, who worked tirelessly to get compensation for victims of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Though only 28 when she died, she was an unusual mixture of charm, ebullience, adventure-seeking and tireless dedication to helping ordinary people whose lives had been shattered. She lobbied journalists and diplomats with equal persistence, but loved nothing better than to sit with wretched families after the spotlight had moved on, record every detail of their stories, go out and campaign for official apologies and compensation - and then stay in touch to keep them informed. On the day she died, on Iraq's most dangerous road, she had been out talking to bereaved families. Her driver/translator, Faiz Al Salaam, who also died, worked with her for almost two years. An unemployed pilot when she hired him, he had started flying for Iraq Air again, and, as the father of a two-month-old daughter, wanted to give up the danger of his work with Marla. But she was due to leave Baghdad this week, and he stayed on out of loyalty. They were driving, by chance, near a convoy of foreign contractors' vehicles, which were the bomber's target. Dressed in a long black abbaya , the head-to-toe covering which most western women now wear in Baghdad as protection, Marla used an ordinary car. Looking like a teenager - and with her bubbly enthusiasm and girlish shriek of a laugh - she was not always taken seriously when she arrived in her first big war zone, Afghanistan, just after the Taliban were ousted in December 2001. Unlike most aid workers, she cultivated journalists, and wanted to know where the next party was. But her commitment to getting help for the forgotten was ferocious. One of her first actions in Kabul was to help organise a visit by American women who had lost family members on 9/11. They wanted to meet Afghan families whose homes had been destroyed by American bombs. Marla campaigned relentlessly by telephone and email, as well as by personal lobbying, and persuaded US Senator Patrick Leahy to put an amendment into a foreign aid bill to give $2.5m for Afghan victims. It was not described as compensation, since the US did not wish to take formal responsibility, but Marla visited families all over Afghanistan, drew up lists of names, and helped to ensure that the money was distributed to the right people. In Afghanistan, she was working for Global Exchange, a non-governmental organisation based in San Francisco. After the Iraq war, she created her own charity, CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict). One aim was to keep a running account of the number of civilian deaths, but it quickly became an effort to help individuals. In an essay sent to Human Rights Watch shortly before she died, Marla wrote: "A number is important not only to quantify the cost of the war, but, to me, each number is also a story of someone whose hopes, dreams and potential will never be realised, and who left behind a family." She continued her lobbying and got $20m for victims in Iraq. She also developed contacts in the US military, trying to get them to describe otherwise unreported incidents, and take responsibility. In a typical entry from her journal, published on AlterNet on November 6 2003, she reported: "On October 24, former teacher Mohammad Kadhum Mansoor, 59, and his wife, Hamdia Radhi Kadhum, 45, were travelling with their three daughters - Beraa, 21, Fatima, 8, and Ayat, 5 - when they were tragically run over by an American tank. "A grenade was thrown at the tank, causing it to lose control and veer on to the highway, over the family's small Volkswagen. Mohammad and Hamdia were killed instantly, orphaning the three girls in the back seat. The girls survived, but with broken and fractured bodies. We are not sure of Ayat's fate; her backbone is broken. "CIVIC staff member Faiz Al Salaam monitors the girls' condition each day. Nobody in the military or the US army has visited them, nor has anyone offered to help this very poor family." Born in the small town of Lakeport, California, Marla became politically active at the age of 15, when she was suspended from high school for leading a protest against the first Gulf war. While at Long Island University, she travelled extensively, visiting Cuba, Guatemala, southern Africa and the West Bank. She was already working as a volunteer for Global Exchange. Despite her exuberant exterior, she was not always happy, and her activism was sometimes both an obsession and a therapy. For exercise in Baghdad, she regularly stormed up and down the pool at the al Hamra hotel, the headquarters of the newspapers which preferred not to have large, guarded villas. She rarely relaxed. Last new year's eve, she emailed friends: "2005 is going to rock for you all and me too ... I write to you from the Himalayan mountains, where I am on a seven-day trek. Wow, is my mind clear, and I have many goals for 2005. After my trek, I'll work on a campaign to protect Nepalese activists - there have been over 3,000 disappearances here - more than Colombia. Then I am off to Afghanistan to check on the families who lost loved ones in Operation Enduring Freedom." Marla had also been planning to spend more time fundraising in the US. She had an initial grant from George Soros's Open Society Institute, but wanted to develop more sources. After the Iraq election in January, she decided to make another trip to Baghdad. Medea Benjamin, her original mentor at Global Exchange, tried to dissuade her because of the increased danger. "I thought it would be better to wait for a while and see if the situation got better than to put her life at risk," she told the Los Angeles Times. "She was determined to go because the people she worked with didn't have the luxury not to be at risk." · CIVIC -- "Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict. www.civicworldwide.org.

Background Article: Guardian UK 17 May 2003 Campaigners count bodies to ensure US compensation Rory McCarthy in Baghdad Saturday May 17, 2003 The Guardian When the first American tanks rolled past Hassan Karim Hassan's house he ran with his friends to peer over the fence at the end of the street and watch the army finally advance into Baghdad. Although unarmed, the three young men were immediately mistaken for enemy soldiers. One, Qasim Ali, was shot dead, another, Ali Jawad, was hit by a bullet in his left arm. Minutes later a man driving a taxi was killed in a burst of gunfire from a tank which turned his car into a fireball. On that morning, Monday April 7, when they rolled through the Hai al-Amal district of Baghdad after a punishing three-week push across the desert, perhaps the troops were more jittery than normal. "We didn't imagine they would shoot any civilians," Mr Hassan, 32, said yesterday. "I know this was a battlefield and maybe I was wrong to go and look at the American tanks. I don't know. But we are civilians. They could see through their sights we had no guns." Almost certainly the young soldiers who fired that morning will never be held to account for the death of Qasim Ali, the injury to Ali Jawad or the killing of the taxi driver, whose charred body lay untouched in his car for two days because people were too scared to leave their homes. America's generals stated publicly that as the troops rolled forward there would be no attempt to count the bodies of the dead left behind. On Sunday April 6, the day before the Hai al-Amal shootings, Brigadier General Vince Brooks, the deputy director of operations at the US central command in Qatar, was asked about casualties inflicted in Baghdad. "It just is not worth trying to characterise by numbers," he said. "And, frankly, if we are going to be honourable about our warfare, we are not out there trying to count up bodies. This is not the appropriate way for us to go." Despite his misgivings, the US government is now legally obliged to account for the thousands of Iraqi civilians killed or injured in the war, and those who had their homes destroyed, and give them financial compensation. Under the Iraq War Supplemental Appropriations Act, which became law last month, it has set aside $2.4bn to pay for this "assistance" (the word compensation, with its legal implications, is never publicly used) and other relief and reconstruction measures. But there are unlikely to be Washington officials in Iraq counting the dead. The only independent and properly researched count is being carried out by a small American human rights group. It is a painstaking process. Each hospital has a handwritten book which logs the patients who have died in hospital and the corpses brought in. At al-Kindi hospital in central Baghdad it show that 192 civilians were killed in the war up to April 9, when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Firdos Square. At al-Yarmuk hospital in western Baghdad the register is less meticulous but shows 99 civilian deaths up to the hospital's closure on April 6. But the staff at both hospitals admit that the logs do not give a full account: some recorded as civilians may have been militia out of uniform, others may have died at the hands of looters, and some of the dead were buried without being taken to hospital. "I don't know if we will ever know the total number," the records manager at al-Yarmuk Sebhan Hussain, admitted. The most accurate survey is being conducted by the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, run by a Californian, Marla Ruzicka. She has 150 surveyors at work checking each report of a civilian death against several different sources. So far they have confirmed 620 civilian deaths in Baghdad and are studying reports of as many as 1,100 in Nassiriya. It will be at least another month before the survey is complete, but the tally seems likely to be several thousand. Ms Ruzicka, 26, ran a similar survey in Afghanistan last year, where her team confirmed 824 civilian deaths, although she believes that as many as 2,000 may have died in the war. Her lobbying and the support of the Democrat senator Patrick Leahy brought unprecedented changes in the law. Appropriations acts in the past year have allocated $3.75m for assistance to Afghan victims, although it has yet to be spent. They prepared the ground for the Iraq act, which was passed after Saddam's regime collapsed. "I want the US government to have a human response to policy for victims of conflict," Ms Ruzicka said. "People seem to think all soldiers in the US are, like in world war two, fighting a just war, but they don't understand that many of the people who die are innocent." For 2 other stories on Marla Ruzika see the May 2003 News Monitor

BBC 20 Ap 2005 Massacre at Iraq football stadium The bodies of 19 Iraqis have been found at a football stadium in Haditha, north of the capital Baghdad. Eyewitness reports said they appeared to have been lined up against a wall and shot. The dead were dressed in civilian clothes but are thought to have been members of the Iraqi National Guard. Earlier, a suicide car bomb attack aimed at a US patrol in Baghdad killed at least two Iraqi civilians, one of them a child. A further five people were injured in the blast. In another attack, on a police station in Baghdad's southern district of al-Doura, a bomb exploded in a parking area, damaging 20 vehicles. Shortly afterwards, a nearby police patrol was the target of an explosion that injured three civilians. Late on Tuesday, two US soldiers were killed and four wounded by a bomb near the road to Baghdad airport.

washingtonpost.com 20 Apr 2005 At Least 50 Bodies Found in Tigris River By Caryle Murphy, Ellen Knickmeyer and Fred Barbash Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, April 20, 2005; 2:10 PM BAGHDAD, April 20 -- At least 50 bodies have been recovered from the Tigris River, top Iraqi political leaders said Wednesday. Although Iraqi President Jalal Talabani indicated that the bodies were Shiites who had been taken hostage last week by Sunni militants in the town of Madain, south of Baghdad, he provided no evidence of that or details about the discovery of the bodies or how the people died. Other officials would not confirm his account. Today's reports added another layer of confusion to the already murky story of Madain that began to emerge on Friday. Initial reports from Madain said that Sunni militants were holding scores of Shiite hostages. Concerned that this could spark sectarian violence, Iraqi troops, backed by U.S. forces, mounted a major search-and-rescue mission and on Monday swept into the town. But the troops found only empty streets as jittery townspeople hid indoors. Interior Minister Falah Naqib and other leaders then denounced what they said were instigators trying to stir up sectarian conflict by spreading lies. Residents of the southern city of Basra and other communities demonstrated in support of Muslim unity. Asked about Madain Wednesday, Talabani revealed that at least 50 bodies had been found. "It is not true that there were no hostages," he told reporters. "There were hostages but they were killed and they threw the bodies into the Tigris." He said the Iraqi government would provide details of what he termed "crimes" in the coming days. Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, confirmed to The Washington Post that more than 50 bodies had been recovered from the Tigris. But he said authorities did not know if they were the bodies of hostages from Madain. Television reports said that the bodies included men, women and children. Some of those broadcast reports also quoted Iraqi police as saying that the bodies had been in the water for a long time, which would suggest they were not part of any incidents last weekend. In a separate unconfirmed reports Wednesday, wire services said officials had discovered 19 Iraqis shot to death and left lined up against a bloodstained wall in a soccer stadium in the town of Haditha, about 140 miles northwest of Baghdad. Residents said they believed the victims -- all men in civilian clothes -- were soldiers abducted by insurgents as they headed home for a holiday marking the birthday of the prophet Muhammad. U.S. forces had no report of the incident but were investigating, 1st Lt. Kate VandenBossche of the U.S. 2nd Marine Division told wire services. Barbash reported from Washington.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) 22 Apr 2005 Briefing paper: The Iraqi special tribunal - Rules of Procedure and Evidence Missing Key Protections The newly adopted Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Iraqi Special Tribunal are lacking several important fair trial protections. Human Rights Watch wants to see officials of the former Iraqi government responsible for serious human rights crimes brought to justice. We anticipate such officials will be charged with committing horrific crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. (Many of these crimes have been documented by Human Rights Watch in its reports "Bureaucracy of Repression: The Iraqi Government in Its Own Words" and "Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds.") However, for justice to be done, the trials must be fair. Only through fair trials: can the Iraqi people as well as people worldwide know the true nature of those crimes; can there be justice for the victims and their families; and can Iraq help to ensure that the brutal crimes of the past regime are never repeated. If Iraq is to lay a foundation as a country committed to the rule of law and make a break from the abusive practices of the past regime, it is crucial that trials before the Iraqi Special Tribunal ("the Tribunal") adhere to internationally recognized fair trial standards. While Human Rights Watch has a number of concerns with the Rules of Procedure and Evidence ("the Rules"), the following are the most serious concerns. Human Rights Watch notes that since draft rules were previously circulated in June 2004, the Rules have been revised to become less protective of fair trial rights. Human Rights Watch has separately expressed its concerns with the Statute of the Iraqi Special Tribunal ("the Statute") in a memorandum issued in December 2003 (see "Memorandum to the Iraqi Governing Council on ‘The Statute of the Iraqi Special Tribunal’"). No requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt The Rules do not require that guilt be proven "beyond a reasonable doubt," as is required by international human rights law. Existing Iraqi law, which will supplement the Statute and Rules, only requires that the Tribunal be "satisfied" of guilt by the evidence presented (Law on Criminal Proceedings with Amendments, No. 23 of 1971, para. 213(A)). The Iraqi Special Tribunal should require proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and not a lower standard. Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is required by the International Criminal Court, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) (Rome Statute, Art. 66(3); ICTY Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Rule 87(a); ICTR Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Rule 87(a)). Proof beyond a reasonable doubt has also been interpreted to be required under the fair trial provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iraq is a party (see Human Rights Committee, General Comment 13 (on article 14) ("[b]y reason of the presumption of innocence… [n]o guilt can be presumed until the charge has been proven beyond reasonable doubt.")). Without evidence of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant must not be convicted. Trials that convict persons short of this standard are likely to bring the legitimacy of the Tribunal into question. Moreover, any lower burden of proof is especially troubling because the Iraqi Special Tribunal is empowered under its Statute to impose the death penalty. Human Rights Watch in all circumstances opposes the use of the death penalty, a form of punishment that is inherently cruel and inhumane. Trials in absentia allowed Rule 56 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence provides for trials in absentia pursuant to Iraqi law. That law provides for trials in absentia for both defendants who have not yet been arrested and those who were taken into custody but then escaped (see Iraqi Criminal Proceedings Law with amendments, No. 23 of 1971, para. 135). While there is no absolute prohibition on trials in absentia under international law, trials in absentia compromise the ability of an accused to exercise his or her rights to a fair trial under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, including the rights to adequately prepare a defense, to communicate with counsel of choice, and to examine witnesses (Art. 14). The International Criminal Court and the Yugoslav and Rwandan tribunals all explicitly prohibit trials in absentia (see Rome Statute, Art. 63; ICTY Statute, Art 21(4)(d); ICTR Statute, Art. 20(4)(d)). While trials in absentia are permissible, for example, where an accused refuses to appear for trial, or, where he disrupts the trial (Rome Statute, Art. 63(2)), Iraq law also permits trials in absentia more generally – for example, where a defendant has not been apprehended and has not appeared before the tribunal. Under such circumstances, trials in absentia would seriously undermine the fairness of proceedings at the Special Tribunal. The rights to counsel and to remain silent undermined Both the right to counsel and the right to remain silent are not available to the accused at a sufficiently early stage to ensure fair legal proceedings. Iraqi Special Tribunal Rule 46 provides for a right to counsel and to be informed of the right to remain silent, but only upon questioning by a Tribunal investigative judge. This leaves an accused vulnerable to interrogations without counsel, and to being interrogated without knowing of the right to remain silent prior to questioning by a Tribunal investigative judge. Many so-called "high value detainees" in Iraq were taken into custody by the United States before the Tribunal was fully functional. At least from the time when "legal" custody was transferred from the United States to the Iraqi Interim Government until questioning by a Tribunal investigative judge, these detainees were vulnerable to interrogation without counsel and without being informed of the right to remain silent. The right to counsel and right to remain silent are basic fair trial protections: undermining them may jeopardize a prosecution. It will be critical for the Iraqi Special Tribunal to ensure that any information obtained in violation of a defendant’s rights not be used as evidence against that person. RECOMMENDATIONS Human Rights Watch recommends that the Rules of Procedure and Evidence of the Iraqi Special Tribunal be amended to: - provide for proof beyond a reasonable doubt; - prohibit trials in absentia (except for a defendant who has appeared and voluntarily absented himself from the trial process); and - provide that the right to counsel and right to remain silent attach at the earliest possible opportunity.

Reuters 26 Apr 2005 Analysis: Once taboo words 'civil war' now spoken in Iraq BAGHDAD, April 26 (Reuters) - Civil war. It's a phrase everyone in Iraq has strenuously avoided for the past two years. Yet now, with no government formed three months after elections, and tensions deepening between Iraq's Muslim sects and other groups, it's on many people's minds. Several clashes between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims in events apparently unrelated to the two-year-old anti-U.S. insurgency have highlighted the danger in recent months. Whereas once politicians were not willing to utter the term for fear of dignifying it, it is no longer taboo. "I do not want to say civil war, but we are going the Lebanese route, and we know where that led," says Sabah Kadhim, an adviser to the Interior Ministry who spent years in exile before returning to Iraq after Saddam Hussein's overthrow. "We are going to end up with certain areas that are controlled by certain warlords ... It's Sunni versus Shi'ite, that is the issue that is really in the ascendancy right now, and that wasn't the case right after the elections." In Madaen and other mixed Sunni-Shi'ite towns on the rivers south of Baghdad, rival groups have been carrying out revenge attacks since before the January polls, police said. This month more than 50 bodies have been pulled from the Tigris river. In the poor Shi'ite district of Shuala in western Baghdad, there has been a series of car bombings and killings, apparently related to tensions with Sunni militants in the neighbouring district of Abu Ghraib, one of Iraq's most violent. Similar violence has hit towns north of Baghdad, such as Baquba, where Sunni and Shi'ite mosques have been bombed. SECTS APART In part the tensions are the result of the long-declared intention by Sunni militants such as Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to sow sectarian discord and provoke civil war. But they also reflect a natural increase in animosity between the two sects since the Jan. 30 poll, which handed power to the Shi'ite majority after decades of Sunni-led rule. The failure to form a government in the immediate aftermath of the ballot, when the nation was buoyed by the fact more than 8 million people defied threats and voted, has allowed distrust to grow as all sides scramble to secure a share of power. "The huge window of opportunity created by the success of the elections has been frittered away in the politics of personal gain and internecine squabbling," said Toby Dodge, an Iraq expert at Queen Mary University of London. He now sees politicians using the sectarian issue to leverage more power, a move that could backfire. "Using sectarianism as a bargaining chip and for political advantage is rankly irresponsible ... it's the sort of thing that can start a slide into civil war," he said. At the same time, he said conditions in Iraq did not yet resemble the conventional scenario of civil war in which various communities with militias face off against one another -- as they did in Lebanon in the 1970s and 80s. "Iraq is more fractured and atomised than that," he said. BREAKAWAY SUNNIS Still, there are worrying signs. Several Sunni-led military units operating under the Interior Ministry's banner and created with the support of U.S. forces, are leading the battle against the insurgency. But if, as widely expected, a Shi'ite takes over the Interior Ministry when a new government is named, those units could be purged -- a course that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned against during a vist to Iraq this month. The Sunni-led units could be replaced by soldiers from the Badr Organisation, a militia loyal to the main Shi'ite party. Interior Ministry officials fear the Sunni commanders, with their well-armed and trained men, could then break away to set up rival militias. "Both sides are sharpening their knives. They are saying, 'we've got to protect our own people'. It is not a good situation," said Kadhim at the Interior Ministry. Tensions are not limited to Sunnis and Shi'ites. Non-Arab Kurds, who came second to a Shi'ite alliance in the election, are also determined to consolidate their power. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, wants a security role for the peshmerga, or Kurdish militia, to safeguard the Kurdish heartlands in the north. Yet he rules out civil war. "The wisdom of the Sunni and Shi'ite leadership," he told al-Hayat newspaper on Tuesday, "prevents ... the possibility of the outbreak of civil war, and this is unlikely."

BBC 22 Apr 2005 Car bomb rocks mosque in Baghdad An empty bus was destroyed by the force of the blast A car bomb has exploded outside a Shia mosque in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 20. The blast happened during Friday prayers at the al-Subeih mosque in the eastern New Baghdad district. It was the latest in a series of attacks on both Shia and Sunni mosques during the Iraqi insurgency. Shias make up the majority of the population and Shia parties won most seats in January's election. "I was rushing to the mosque in my car for Friday prayers when I heard a big blast," one witness told Reuters television. "I ran inside and started carrying the bodies of those who were killed. My clothes were covered in blood." The blast brought down one section of the mosque. A passenger bus parked outside was destroyed, but no-one was on board at the time. Police sealed off the area around the mosque. BBC Baghdad correspondent Caroline Hawley says Shia Muslims have been targeted before by Sunni militants trying to stir up sectarian divisions. But a cleric at the mosque told the BBC he believed the mosque may have been targeted because on Thursday it hosted a joint service with Sunnis. In other violence, a US soldier was killed and another wounded when a bomb exploded as their vehicle passed near Talafar in northern Iraq, the US military said.

BBC 23 Apr 2005 Top brass cleared over Iraq abuse The images shocked the world Former commander of US troops in Iraq Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez has been cleared over abuses at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq. A new inquiry found no evidence of wrongdoing by Gen Sanchez and three of his top aides, US officials say. The US Army inspector general's report says only Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, commander at the jail, has been found guilty and reprimanded over the abuse. Pictures of Iraqi inmates abused by US soldiers caused an outcry last year. Five US soldiers have been convicted. The Pentagon has held nine major inquiries into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, with two more to come. It only serves to underscore the desperate need for an independent investigation Alistair Hodgett Amnesty International US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is being sued by two civil liberties group for allegedly authorising torture and then failing to stop it. The results of the inquiry have surfaced in the week before the first anniversary of the publication of the first photographs showing US forces sexually humiliating and physically abusing Iraqi prisoners. The scandal at the jail on the outskirts of Baghdad triggered international criticism of the US. Since then, numerous cases of alleged abuse have come to light at US facilities in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. Rights groups unhappy Gen Sanchez, who commanded US troops in Iraq until the summer of 2004, authorised tougher interrogation techniques during a brief period in September 2003 during which the abuses are alleged to have been carried out. ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL Sentenced: Spc Charles Graner Pte Jeremy Sivits Sgt Ivan Frederick Spc Megan Ambuhl Spc Armin Cruz Facing trial: Pte Lynndie England Sgt Javal Davies Spc Sabrina Harman Questioning methods cleared Dark stain on Iraq's past But the inspector general's report says it has found no evidence that he was guilty of dereliction of duty. Among the mitigating circumstances it lists: Initially, US military command was short of senior officers Gen Sanchez had to focus on an upsurge of insurgent violence He was under pressure to find ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Gen Sanchez's three top aides, including his deputy, Gen Walter Wojdanowski, have also been exonerated, the US officials said. But Brig Gen Karpinski has been send a written reprimand and relieved of her command. In the past, she has vowed to fight any measures against her. Gen Sanchez authorised tough interrogation techniques She told the BBC last year that had been made a "convenient scapegoat" for abuse ordered by others at the top, including Gen Sanchez. Human rights groups have criticised the latest findings, full details of which are to be made public after members of the US Congress are briefed. "What this decision unfortunately continues is a pattern of exoneration and indeed promotion for many of the individuals at the heart of the torture scandal," said Amnesty International spokesman Alistair Hodgett. "It only serves to underscore the desperate need for an independent investigation that will scrutinize the policy decisions and the individuals who made and implemented them in a manner that will expose the truth," Mr Hodgett told Reuters news agency.


AFP 20 Apr 2005 Jerusalem's Armenians Want Israeli Recognition oF Genocide By Ezzedine Said (AFP) - Jerusalem's tiny Armenian community has seen Islamic conquests, the Crusades, the rise and fall of the Ottoman empire, the British mandate and most recently the Israeli occupation, but has kept its identity throughout. The community, present in the Holy Land since the fifth century, is today made up largely of descendants of those who survived Turkish massacres of Armenians between 1915 and 1917, as the Ottoman Empire fell apart. But they are indignant at the refusal by Israel, a country's whose identity draws amply on the Nazis' killing of millions of Jews during the Second World War, to recognize their own 'genocide'. The massacre has already been acknowledged as genocide by a number of countries, including France, Canada and Switzerland. Armenians will remember the 90th anniversary of the start of the 1915-1917 slaughter on April 24. Some 2,000 Armenians live in the Old City's Armenian quarter and its vast monastery, with another 1,000 in the West Bank and 2,000 more in Israel, says George Hintlian, historian and spokesman for the Armenian community. "With regard to Israel and its bureaucracy, we are like the Palestinians. We consider ourselves to be Jerusalemites born in Palestine," he explains, walking along the road of the Armenian Orthodox Patriarchate. It's night-time, and the popular Armenian Tavern is serving lahmajun, a thin pizza topped with minced meat, to its last clients. Israeli cars drive slowly down the narrow street to the Jewish quarter or towards the Wailing Wall. At the monastery's entrance, a group of youths stands on the ancient paving stones and chats in Armenian. This former hospice turned monastery then home to hundreds of Armenians is only accessible to residents and invited visitors. Restrictions imposed by Israeli authorities on the Palestinian population are part of Armenians' daily life since the eastern part of the city was occupied in 1967. The Armenians of Jerusalem, as in the rest of the world, also say that Israel's strategic alliance with Turkey which began in 1996 has hampered their quest for global recognition of their genocide. "The worst consequence of the alliance between Israel and Turkey is the fact that the Israeli embassy in Washington and the Jewish lobby openly intervened on two occasions in 1999 and 2001 to prevent Congress from recognizing the Armenian genocide," says Hintlian. Twenty of his family members, including his grandfather and uncle, died in the massacres, he says. "It's difficult to understand the official Israeli position on the Armenian genocide, coming from a country that was a victim of its own genocide in the same century," he says. The presence of Turkish Justice Minister Cemil Cicek at the inauguration of Israel's new Holocaust museum in Jerusalem in March, to which no Armenian representative was invited, "shocked" the community, says Hintlian. With a hint of bitterness, he shows the remains of posters detailing the Armenian genocide glued to walls along the street and torn down, he says, by passing Jews. "Sometimes they write 'big lie' over them," he says. Elise Aghazarian, 26, says she is "Armenian in her blood and Palestinian in her soul." "We are attached to Mount Ararat but also to Jerusalem. I am for a bi-national Palestinian and Israeli state, but if a division is imposed I would want to be on the Palestinian side," says this researcher and sociology graduate, who lives inside the "monastery". While she pragmatically considers the Turkish-Israeli pact "an alliance of interests", she is no less irritated by the Israeli refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide. "It boils down to saying that Jewish blood is more sacred than other peoples'," she says. More than 30 percent of Armenians have emigrated from the Holy Land since 1967, says Hintlian, adding that "if there is no solution, in 20 or 30 years our number may have dropped by half." But Aghazarian is not about to leave. "I belong here and I wouldn't want to leave even if the difficult living conditions put us under constant pressure," she says.


VOA News 19 Apr 2005 Japanese Court Rejects Compensation for Chinese War Victims Plaintiff Wang Xuan displays a photo showing "rotten legs" due allegedly to biological weapons experiments conducted by Unit 731 of former Japanese Imperial Army during World War II (File photo - Aug. 22, 2002) A Japanese court has rejected a lawsuit by 10 Chinese citizens seeking compensation for atrocities committed by Japan's World War II-era military. Tuesday's decision by the Tokyo High Court upholds previous decisions by lower courts which determined that foreign citizens could not seek compensation directly from the Japanese government. The lawsuit was originally filed in 1997 by 180 Chinese citizens. The atrocities include the 1937 massacre of an estimated 100,000 to 300,000 civilians in the city of Nanjing, and actions of the notorious Unit 731, a germ warfare site located in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin where some 200,000 people are believed to have died. A group of Chinese researchers say they will ask the United Nations' Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare the ruins of Unit 731 a World Heritage site.

www.timesonline.co.uk 22 Apr 2005 Japanese PM 'apologises' for Asian atrocities By Chris Johnston, Times Online Junichiro Koizumi, the Japanese Prime Minister, has expressed "deep remorse" for his country’s aggression against its Asian neighbours and will meet the Chinese President in a bid to ease fraught relations between the region's superpowers. "In the past, Japan through its colonial rule and aggression caused tremendous damage and suffering for the people of many countries, particularly those of Asian nations. Japan squarely faces these facts of history in a spirit of humility," Mr Koizumi said in a speech today at the Asia-Africa summit in Jakarta. "With feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology always engraved in mind, Japan has resolutely maintained, consistently since the end of World War II, never turning into a military power but an economic power, its principle of resolving all matters by peaceful means, without recourse through the use of force," he added. Shortly after making the address, it was announced that the Prime Minister would meet President Hu Jintao of China tomorrow in Jakarta. Massive anti-Japanese protests erupted in several Chinese cities earlier this month after Tokyo approved a new history textbook that critics claim plays down wartime Japanese offences, including mass sex slavery and germ warfare. Mr Koizumi’s speech did not go further than apologies made by previous Japanese leaders, but its timing was an explicit attempt to ease the row with China over Tokyo’s handling of its wartime atrocities and its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. But Zha Peixin, the Chinese Ambassador in London, called for the Japan to go further than the apology. "I think what the Japanese should do is tell the true facts to their students so that historical lessons can be learned and tragedies will not be repeated again," told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. Mr Koizumi’s attempts at placating China were almost derailed today by 80 parliamentarians from his own party who visited a Tokyo shrine honouring executed Second World War criminals as well as the 2.5 million Japanese who died during the six-year conflict. China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" about the visit by the politicians and the representatives of a further 88 MPs to the shrine. "As Sino-Japanese relations are facing a serious situation, we express our strong dissatisfaction over the negative actions of some Japanese politicians who ignore the larger interests," the Chinese Foreign Ministry said. Today’s visit by the politicians to the shrine were part of an annual springtime ritual. A spokesman for the group said they were honouring the dead and praying for peace and did not mean to anger China or South Korea, both victims of Japanese military aggression. Since becoming prime minister in 2001, Mr Koizumi has also made annual visits to the shrine. Meanwhile, China has shut down several anti-Japanese websites to prevent the organisation of further protests, indicating that the government fears the demonstrations will get out of hand. The websites had carried messages calling for large-scale demonstrations on May 1 and May 4 in Shanghai, Nanjing, Wenzhou and Chongqing. May 1 is Labour Day in China, while May 4 is the anniversary of the landmark 1919 May Fourth Movement, in which students led protests against the country’s weakness in standing up to foreign countries, especially Japan.

BBC 26 Apr 2005 Japan rejects war shrine lawsuit Koizumi has visited the shrine four times since becoming leader A court in Japan has rejected a lawsuit against senior politicians' visits to the controversial Yasukuni war shrine. The suit claimed that visits by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and Tokyo's governor violated the constitution. The verdict may anger China, as the shrine commemorates Japanese war dead, among them convicted war criminals. Relations between the Asian neighbours have already been strained in recent weeks by a series of feuds ignited by a dispute over Japan's wartime history. Tuesday's verdict comes just days after Mr Koizumi met Chinese President Hu Jintao in an attempt to ease bilateral tensions. In a sign that China, too, is anxious to appease Japan, police in Shanghai have detained 42 people in connection with the recent violent anti-Japanese protests, state media said on Tuesday. Sixteen of these detainees will be charged with disturbing social order, the Shanghai Daily said. The lawsuit was brought by a group of Japanese citizens and relatives of South Korean war dead, who argued that the annual visits to the Yasakuni shrine violated the separation of state and religion enshrined in Japan's constitution. YASUKUNI SHRINE Built in 1869 to honour victims of the Boshin Civil War Now venerates the souls of 2.5m of Japan's war dead Those enshrined include 14 Class A war criminals Japan's controversial shrine Each of the 1,047 plaintiffs had sought 30,000 yen ($284) in compensation for damages from Mr Koizumi and Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara. But government lawyers said the visits were private in nature, and therefore did not violate the country's laws. Mr Ishihara, known for his outspoken views, said he was pleased with the decision. "As a Japanese, I go to Yasukuni Shrine to express my respect and condolences for the war dead," he said in a statement. "I consider this ruling to be a very natural decision." He then went further, telling Reuters news agency that he thought Japan should station troops on a chain of disputed islands in the East China Sea known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and the Diaoyu islands in China. "We should send our military there and if Chinese activists or North Korean agents intrude and don't listen to orders to stop, then we should sink them," Mr Ishihara told Reuters. Escalating row The Yasukuni shrine is dedicated to the souls of 2.5 million Japanese who died in past wars, including convicted World War II criminals. Official trips there are seen by Japan's critics as a sign that Tokyo does not sufficiently regret its brutal conquest of the region in the 1930s and 40s. A group of Japanese lawmakers visited the shrine last Friday, amid growing tensions between Tokyo and Beijing. Relations began to deteriorate two weeks ago, when Tokyo approved a set of controversial history textbooks which critics say do not acknowledge the extent of Japanese wartime brutality. Since then there have been a series of rows over a disputed section of the East China Sea and Japan's attempts to secure a permanent UN Security Council seat. In a move designed to ease tensions, Mr Koizumi made an unusual public apology for Japan's wartime aggression in a speech last weekend at a regional summit in Jakarta.


Reuters 14 Apr 2005 Belgium to Reopen Rights Probe on Total in Myanmar BRUSSELS - Belgium is set to reopen an investigation into alleged crimes against humanity committed by French oil giant Total in Myanmar following a court ruling, the plaintiff's lawyer said on Thursday. The probe is the first to involve a company rather than an individual under a controversial human rights law claiming universal jurisdiction that has caused Belgium diplomatic grief, especially with the United States. A magistrate opened the investigation in 2002 after four political refugees filed a lawsuit against Total, accusing it of supporting Myanmar's military junta. The refugees also sued Total Chief Executive Thierry Desmaret and another executive of complicity in the torture and forced labor of workers who were building a pipeline in the country, formerly known as Burma. But the investigation was later suspended pending a court ruling on whether a refugee had the same right as a Belgian citizen to use the law, which empowers courts to try perpetrators of these crimes committed anywhere in the world. On Wednesday, a Brussels arbitration court granted that right to one of the refugees, Aung Maw Zin, because he had been living long enough- three years- in Belgium. "The examining magistrate can start where he left off," the refugee's lawyer, Alexis Deswaef, told Reuters. Total spokesman Philippe Gateau said the company would review the tribunal's ruling before making a comment. Total has previously denied funding the military in Myanmar but has said the junta paid soldiers to protect the company's installations and workers. The pipeline was completed in 1998. Total and other Western multinationals have been under pressure from activists to withdraw from Myanmar, shunned for its human rights record and suppression of political opponents. The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on its military government. In December, U.S. oil company Unocal settled two lawsuits filed by 15 villagers who accused it of ignoring rights abuses by soldiers while the pipeline was being built. Unocal, recently acquired by ChevronTexaco and a partner of Total in the pipeline project, nevertheless denied any responsibility. Asian companies have quickly stepped in to replace Western firms that have withdrawn, vying for Myanmar's natural wealth in oil and gas, timber, gems and minerals. Belgium revised the human rights law in 2003 to make it more difficult for foreigners to use it for politically motivated or frivolous lawsuits. The country had suffered a diplomatic nightmare after scores of lawsuits flooded its courts against Israeli leader Ariel Sharon and U.S. leaders.


AP 17 Apr 2005 Communist rebels execute 10 villagers, raze houses in southern Nepal BINAJ GURUBACHARYA | Associated Press April 17, 2005 KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) - Communist rebels dragged 10 people from their homes and executed them in southern Nepal for refusing to join the guerrillas, officials and human rights activists said Sunday. Maoist fighters stormed the village of Somani, about 250 kilometers (150 miles) southwest of Katmandu, on Friday night and began hauling males out of their houses, the Royal Nepalese Army said. At least 10 people, including a 14-year-old boy, were shot dead, the army said. Two men survived and were being treated at a nearby hospital. Akrur Newpane, of the Nepalese rights group INSEC, confirmed that villagers were taken from their homes and executed. The rebels also set fire to nine homes and bombed four others in the village, the military said. A village official, Madhav Sharma, told The Associated Press that Nepalese security forces had moved in and taken control of the village. "We have put soldiers to patrol the area to prevent further violence," Sharma said. He said the government is trying to ensure the situation doesn't escalate into a series of revenge killings like those that occurred in nearby Kapilbastu district a few weeks ago after villagers killed 31 suspected communist rebels. In retaliation, the guerrillas killed 15 villagers, burned down houses, and slaughtered cattle. The government _ which established an army camp in the area to bring the situation under control _ came under severe criticism for encouraging the villagers to take up vigilante violence against the rebels. The guerrillas, who claim to be inspired by Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong, began fighting to overthrow Nepal's monarchy and establish a communist state in 1996. More than 11,500 people have been killed in the insurgency. The rebels have stepped up attacks in the past few weeks to protest King Gyanendra taking absolute power in February. Human rights groups have expressed alarm over the power grab, saying it would worsen the country's already deteriorating human rights situation. Both the army and the rebels are accused of human rights atrocities, especially in the countryside. The monarch's power grab provoked an international outcry and several donor nations, including key allies India, Britain and the United States, have either cut aid or threatened to do so if he fails to restore democracy.


BBC 20 Apr 2005 Pakistan mob kills 'blasphemer' A mob of angry villagers in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province has killed a man accused of blasphemy, police say. Aasheq Nabi was shot dead in Nowshera district, 30km (18 miles) from Peshawar, after reports he had burnt a copy of the Koran - Islam's holy book. News of the alleged desecration spread rapidly, bringing people onto the streets and calls for his arrest. Correspondents say it is the first time in several years that a blasphemy case in Pakistan has involved mob violence. 'Chased' Police said on Wednesday they had raided Mr Nabi's house in the Pabbi area, but the 400-strong mob found him first. Today, a mob spotted him and shot him dead Mazahar ul-Haq Nowshera police chief Witnesses say he was chased through fields and sought refuge up a tree before being shot dead by someone in the crowd. Police said Mr Nabi, who was in his 40s, had been in hiding since Monday. "We registered a case against him on Tuesday, but he was shot dead today before we could arrest him," local police official Abdul Razzaq told the Associated Press. He said Mr Nabi's family had been among those who reported him to police. Police have yet to make any arrests in connection with the lynching. 'Flawed' law Under Pakistani law, the death penalty is mandatory for anyone convicted of blasphemy. Human rights activists describe the law as deeply flawed. They allege that since coming into force, it has been used to settle personal scores and to target minorities. Over the last 15 years or so, dozens of Pakistanis - including Christians, Muslims and Qadianis (a sect declared non-Muslim under Pakistan's constitution) - have been charged with blasphemy. In 1994, religious extremists shot dead a Christian, Manzur Masih, who was accused of blasphemy but was acquitted by the Lahore High Court. He died on the spot and two of his co-accused - also acquitted by the court - were seriously injured. Three years later, Arif Iqbal Bhatti, the judge who had acquitted Manzur and his co-accused, was also shot dead. In 1998, a Pakistani bishop, John Joseph, committed suicide in protest against the laws.

Sri Lanka

BBC 21 Apr 2005 ON THIS DAY IN 1987: Tamil Tigers blamed for bus garage blast More than 100 people have been killed after a bomb exploded in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo. Nearly three hundred others were wounded when the device, planted in a car, went off at Colombo's main bus terminal during the rush hour. The incident is one of the worst mass killings in the long-running feud between the island's two main ethnic groups, the Tamils and the Sinhalese. Most of the victims were from the country's majority ethnic group, the Sinhalese, who are Buddhists. The two-and-a-half million Tamils, who are Hindus, make up 18% of Sri Lanka's 16 million people. The Sri Lankan authorities believe the bomb was planted by Tamil extremists - known as the Tamil Tigers - who are fighting for an independent homeland. Colombo was been placed under a dusk to dawn curfew after gangs of Sinhalese began to attack Tamils in revenge. Massacre The incident brings to 250 the numbers killed in attacks in the past week in Sri Lanka. It follows the massacre of 127 people - mainly Sinhalese - four days ago in the town of Trincomalee, in the heart of the Tamil region in the north and east Sri Lanka. Four years ago Tamil militants began a campaign for a separate state - since them more than 5,000 people have been killed in the fighting. The Sri Lankan government has proposed giving greater autonomy to Tamil areas but refuses to consider an independent Tamil nation. The Tamils were a prosperous elite when Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, was ruled by the British. They say since the country gained its independence they have been discriminated against in favour of the Sinhalese majority.

AFP 26 Apr 2005 Marxists warn tsunami aid deal could split island COLOMBO, April 26 (AFP) - A key member of Sri Lanka's ruling coalition Tuesday warned that a proposed deal with Tamil rebels to jointly handle tsunami aid with the government would lead to the creation of an ethnic homeland. The Marxist JVP, or People's Liberation Front, said they were against the "joint mechanism" proposed by peace broker Norway to handle millions of dollars in foreign aid for tsunami survivors in the island's rebel-held areas. JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe told reporters here that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) had not given up the idea of a separate state in the island's northeast and would use a tsunami aid deal to achieve that goal. "This joint mechanism is only a bridge to the ISGA (interim self-governing authority)," Amarasinghe said, referring to the LTTE's self-rule plan which was unveiled in October 2003 but rejected by the current ruling party. The JVP had earlier warned President Chandrika Kumaratunga that they will pull out of the coalition government if she agreed to a deal with the Tiger rebels on tsunami aid. But Amarasinghe declined to comment Tuesday on any steps his party would take if Kumaratunga agrees to a tsunami aid deal. Kumaratunga's ruling coalition depends on the 39 seats of the JVP for stability in the 225-member assembly where the government has a narrow majority. Amarasinghe also accused the international community of not putting pressure on the rebels to accept democracy and give up the demand for a separate state. The rebels during peace talks with the previous Sri Lankan administration in December 2002 agreed to accept a federal solution to the island's drawn-out Tamil separatist conflict which has claimed over 60,000 lives. The rebels and the government have observed a truce since February 23, 2002 though face-to-face peace talks have been stalled since April 2003. The December 26 tsunamis initially raised expectations that both parties would work together to help victims, but squabbling for distribution control of the international aid has added new tensions. Some 31,000 people were killed in the giant sea surge and more than two thirds of the victims were in the island's northeast controlled by the rebels. Diplomatic sources close to Sri Lanka's faltering peace process said both sides were expected to agree on a joint mechanism to disburse tsunami aid by the end of next month.


Armenia see Turkey

www.themoscowtimes.com 21 Apr 2005. Page 8. The Unrequited Past By Raffi Hovannisian The Armenian genocide and its final act turn 90 this week. The lack of recognition, redemption, and closure of this defining watershed for Armenians and Turks alike has been driven by power politics and the hedging of history, aggressive revisionism and a strategic incapacity of the perpetrators, the victims and the generations that followed them to call it like it is and move beyond. The lessons, risks and dangers flowing from the genocide and its contemporary continuation are all the more poignant because the Armenian case was not only the physical murder of most of the people making up the nation, but also the violent interruption of their way of life and the forcible expropriation of the homeland they had lived in for thousands of years. This pivotal distinction constitutes a primary source -- different from that of the Holocaust -- for the denialist demeanor of the Ottoman Empire's successor regime, the quest for justice and personal integrity of the battered and scattered Armenian survivors, and the vicissitudes of international diplomacy. The legal, ethical, educational, material and territorial components of this landmark catastrophe have proved too complex a challenge for any party or power to meet. It is the truly unique underpinning of the Armenian experience that accounts in large measure for why a historical, world-documented nation-killing remains in limbo to this day and continues to serve as an instrument for polemics, politics and a variety of "national interests." Absence of a meeting of modern Turkish and Armenian hearts and minds means a history that is off limits but ever present, a frontier that is undelimited but closed, and a relationship -- or lack thereof -- that is hostage to the heritage of homeland genocide. It is this very relationship, between Turkey and Armenia and their constituencies, that is the key to creating a brave new region where the interests of all players converge to form a single page of security and development. And it is this relationship, if honestly and efficiently forged, that would become the foundation for the strengthening of respective sovereignties, for cooperation in matters of education, culture and historical preservation, for an enduring peace in Nagorny Karabakh, Nakhichevan and the broader neighborhood, for open roads, skies and seas, and for the guaranteed choice of a rightful return of all refugees and their progeny to their places of origin. As it stands, however, an unrequited past still doubles as an unsettled present, leaving unchecked and unpredictable the many future impediments to peace, stability and reconciliation. How long can this commingling of tenses go on? How can all concerned frame a process for a resolution of substance? Can the heirs to the Turkish perpetration translate self-interest into seeking atonement, and can the descendants of the great Armenian dispossession agree to move on? Will we, or our children, ever see the light, let alone reflect back from the heights, of a post-genocide world? Turkey's and Armenia's initially separate paths to European integration might provide them one, perhaps penultimate opportunity, against their own odds, to assume history, draw the line, and embrace a promising epoch as sound, if unlikely, partners in regional and global affairs. New benchmarks and new leaders and a new discourse are in order. Raffi Hovannisian, formerly Armenia's foreign minister, is founding director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies in Yerevan. He contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.

Belgium See Myanma

Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 27 April 2005 Belgium Trials 'Good Thing for Rwanda,' Says Top Prosecutor Kigali The scheduled trial of two Rwandan war crimes suspects in Belgium is a commendable effort that should be emulated by other countries, a senior Rwandan prosecutor told Hirondelle News Agency on Wednesday. "We are very happy with the efforts of the Belgian judiciary", said Senior Prosecutor Emmanuel Rukangira who has worked with the Belgian investigators on the cases. "This is a good thing for Rwanda and everyone else. It is a sign that everyone is realizing that genocide and war crimes can't go unpunished", he added. War crimes suspects Etienne Nzabonimana and Samuel Ndashikirwa are former businessmen from the east Rwanda province of Kibungo who were living in Belgium when arrested in 2002 . The trial is scheduled to start on May 9th. They are accused, in particular, of providing vehicles to transport killers to massacre sites, among them the Nyarubuye parish, where tens of thousands of members of the Tutsi ethnic group had taken refuge. "There will be 105 witnesses going to testify in this trial from Rwanda", Rukangira said. He also said that the trial would be followed by more war crimes trials in Belgium related to the Rwandan genocide. "Soon trials for Major Bernard Ntuyahaga, Ephrem Nkezabera and Jean Baptiste Butera will begin", he added. Ntuyahaga is accused of taking part in the killing of Rwandan Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and 10 Belgian peacekeepers at the start of the 1994 genocide. Nkezabera is former employee of the Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR), while Butera was a deputy Préfet (governor) in Kigali rural province. These will not be the first trials of Rwandans in Belgium for crimes related to the genocide. Two Belgian nuns and two former civil servants were convicted by a Belgian court for their roles in the killing of thousands of ethnic Tutsis in Butare province during the genocide. Belgium's universal jurisdiction law allows it to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by foreigners outside its territory.


BBC 18 Apr 2005 Fury as Serbs boo Bosnian anthem Nato commander Steven Schook (l) has backed defence reform A group of Bosnian Serb army recruits has booed the Bosnian national anthem and refused to pledge allegiance to Bosnia at a swearing-in ceremony. The recruits were the first ex-Bosnian Serb soldiers asked to swear loyalty to the Bosnian state since the Bosnian civil war of 1992-1995. Under the peace accords that ended the war, an autonomous, Serb-run republic was established within Bosnia. Bosnia and the international community strongly condemned the troops' actions. During the ceremony the troops and their families jeered and whistled as the Bosnian national anthem was played. When they were required to recite an oath of allegiance they instead uttered a pledge to the Bosnian Serb republic. Protest condemned The ceremony was the first since Bosnian authorities decided in 2003 to unify the country's armed forces. Unification under the banner of the central state was intended to strengthen Bosnia as a nation, after years when the Bosnian Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation stayed largely separate. The international community was quick to condemn the soldiers' protest. The Nato commander in Bosnia, US General Steven Schook, called it "an illegal act", adding that the Bosnian Serb military was still influenced by opponents of reconciliation. In a joint statement, the European Union, Nato, the US and the international envoy to Bosnia, Paddy Ashdown, insisted: "The [Bosnian Serb Republic] must realise that it is an entity and not a state, and can only exist within Bosnia-Hercegovina.... "These events have to be taken very seriously as they indicate a deeper problem." Bosnian Serb Defence Minister Milovan Stankovic condemned the protest and attempted to distance the republic's government from their actions.


AP 23 Apr 2005 France said to train Rwandans before '94 genocide The Associated Press SATURDAY, APRIL 23, 2005 A former French soldier said Friday that he saw French troops training Rwandan militias in 1992, two years before those same civilian militias took a leading role in a genocide in the tiny central African country. Rwandan officials, including President Paul Kagame, have long accused France of training the militias that helped carry out the 1994 slaughter of about 500,000 people, most of them from the country's Tutsi minority. The genocide was orchestrated by a government of extremists from Rwanda's Hutu majority. The French government, which had close ties with the extremist government, has denied training Rwandan civilians, and the Defense Ministry refused to comment Friday on the allegations made by Thierry Prungnaud, a former noncommissioned officer in the French Army. "In 1992, I saw French military members training Rwandan civilian militias to shoot a gun," Prungnaud told France Culture radio. He said he had been sent to Rwanda that year to train the presidential guard. "I am categorical. I saw it." The training session took place in a national park closed to the public, according to Prungnaud. He said he was not surprised by what he saw, since he was unaware of the consequences. "To me, it seemed normal," he said. "The only time that I saw them, there were about 30 militants being taught how to shoot in Akagera park," in eastern Rwanda, an area he said at the time was closed to the public and booby-trapped to keep unwanted visitors away. Prungnaud said he was able to identify the men as civilians because members of the Rwandan military are always in uniform. He identified the trainers as members of the French Navy's 1st Parachute Regiment. Although he stayed in Rwanda only for a brief period, he said, "I assume that the training continued." In February, six Rwandans brought charges of "complicity in a genocide" against the French military at the Army Tribunal in Paris. In a speech last year commemorating the 10th anniversary of the genocide, Kagame, a Tutsi, accused France of complicity in the genocide, saying the French "consciously trained and armed" Rwandan soldiers and militias and "knew they were going to perpetrate a genocide." The French Foreign Ministry called the accusations "grave and contrary to the truth." Kagame led the Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels who overthrew the Hutu extremist regime and ended the genocide.


DPA 12 Apr 2005 Neo-Nazi group banned, police search 40 homes POTSDAM - German authorities banned on Tuesday a neo-Nazi group and police searched more than 40 homes for documents and music glorifying the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. Joerg Schoenbohm, interior minister of the state of Brandenburg, said he had acted on 6 April to prohibit the Kameradschaft Hauptvolk (the Main People's Fellowship) and a sub-group code-named 'Sturm 27'. Some 300 police were deployed early on Tuesday to enforce the ban, searching more than 40 properties in the Havelland district near Berlin as well as one home in Saxony-Anhalt and another in Lower Saxony state. The minister said the Fellowship was a threat to the constitutional system. Neo-Nazi groups have won large numbers of young recruits in recent years in the small towns of eastern Germany where unemployment is rife and much of the middle class has departed to the big cities.

Los Angeles Times 16 Apr 2005 Former Hitler Youth leader Alfons Heck dead at 76 Jon Thurber LOS ANGELES TIMES Alfons Heck, whose experiences as a member of the Hitler Youth organization in Nazi Germany were the basis of two memoirs and an HBO documentary, has died. He was 76. Heck died Tuesday of heart failure at Scripps Mercy Hospital in La Jolla, Calif., according to his wife, June. In his books "A Child of Hitler: Germany in the Days When God Wore a Swastika" and "The Burden of Hitler's Legacy," Heck recounted his fascination with National Socialism from the time he entered Hitler Youth in 1938. He also told of his postwar repudiation of Hitler and his eventual coming to terms with the Holocaust. A 1991 HBO documentary based on his books, "Heil Hitler! Confessions of a Hitler Youth," used archival footage and Heck's narration to explain how several million children were swept into the ranks of the youth group that often is referred to as having the most fanatical of Hitler's followers. Raised by his grandparents, Heck grew up in Wittlich, Germany, a small town near the border with Luxembourg. At 10 he was chosen to represent his school's Hitler Youth organization at the Nuremberg Party Congress. Years later, he told a Los Angeles Times reporter that the event was a "jubilant Teutonic Renaissance" that would "bind me to Adolf Hitler until the bitter end and for some time beyond." From 1939 to 1945, Heck made a rapid rise in Hitler Youth, becoming the youngest boy to attain the top ranking as a glider pilot in the organization's air wing. He wanted to join the Luftwaffe as a fighter pilot but was made a major general in Hitler Youth instead. In that capacity, he directed the activities of several thousand boys and girls in his district. By 16, with the war effort faltering, his duties were expanded to include running a small town on the Luxembourg border. In his writings, he recalls that he ordered an elderly schoolteacher to be shot if he refused to let some Hitler Youth stay in his home. The teacher relented and the order was rescinded. That same year, Hitler awarded Heck an Iron Cross for excellence of service. After being captured by American troops in his hometown, Heck eventually was put on trial by French occupying forces and sentenced to a month of hard labor and restricted to the town limits for two years. He received a pass to attend the war crime trials in Nuremberg, and what he heard there helped change his views on Hitler and National Socialism. On the promise of job opportunities, Heck moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1951. He met his wife June and held a series of jobs, including lumberman, taxi driver and restaurant manager. The couple moved to the United States in 1963, where Heck found a job driving a bus for Greyhound. The couple settled in San Diego in 1970, but he was forced to retire from the bus company after suffering a heart attack in 1972.

AP 17 Apr 2005 German neo-Nazi march met by mass counter-protest Police arrested 19 people Saturday as neo-Nazis clashed with counter-demonstrators in the eastern city of Erfurt, authorities said. Some 300 people rallied against the march of about 60 neo-Nazis in the city, throwing bottles, eggs and potatoes at them as they yelled "Nazis out," police spokesman Manfred Etzel said. Police turned two water cannons on the crowd to break up the scuffle, and took 14 counter-demonstrators and five neo-Nazis into custody, Etzel said. There were no injuries in the clash, he said. Also Saturday, some 900 counter-demonstrators met 200 right-wing extremists as they marched through the streets of the western German city of Essen. Despite tension between the two groups, police kept them apart and there were no clashes, said police spokesman Uwe Klein. In the northwestern city of Aachen, a meeting of some 300 members of the extreme-right NPD party was protested by some 110 demonstrators but there was no violence, said police spokesman Paul Kemen. Right-wing demonstrations in Germany regularly draw huge groups of counter-protesters.

AP 18 Apr 2005 Survivors Mark Liberation of Nazi Camps By Matt Surman Associated Press Monday, April 18, 2005; Page A10 FUERSTENBERG, Germany, April 17 -- Hundreds of survivors of Nazi concentration camps on Sunday marked the liberation 60 years ago of three of the most notorious camps in the Third Reich's vast system: Ravensbrueck, Sachsenhausen and Bergen-Belsen. Judith Sherman, 75, brought her two sons and grandchildren to Ravensbrueck so she could tell them the story of her struggle to survive. "I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel hungry. I think of Ravensbrueck every time I feel cold," said Sherman, of Cranbury, N.J. "Every time my grandchildren cry, I think of Ravensbrueck." Sherman was among 300 survivors from around the world who attended the ceremony at Ravensbrueck, 60 miles north of Berlin near the town of Fuerstenberg, which gained infamy as the Nazis' camp for female prisoners, though some men also were held there. Pierette Pierrot, a French resistance fighter, was pregnant when she was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis in 1944. Pierrot, 88, said she was able to hide her pregnancy from the Nazis with her baggy prison clothes and the help of others. "There was a lot of friendship . . . and only through that could I keep my child," Pierrot said. When her son, Guy, was born March 11, 1945, in the camp, she had to lean even more on others -- including a German camp nurse who knew her secret. A month later, as the Third Reich crumbled, the SS allowed the Red Cross to evacuate 7,500 prisoners to Sweden. Pierrot was one of those chosen to go and remembers bundling her son up in rags and stuffing him under a seat to smuggle him out with her. "I only really felt saved when we made it to Denmark," said Pierrot, whose son came with her for the ceremonies. From 1939 to 1945, at least 132,000 women and children and 20,000 men were deported to Ravensbrueck, where tens of thousands died from hunger, disease, exhaustion or medical experiments. Six thousand prisoners were killed in a gas chamber built at the end of 1944. Sachsenhausen, near Berlin, was liberated on April 22, 1945, by the Soviet army. One of the first Nazi concentration camps, it was initially meant mainly for political prisoners. Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover, had by 1945 become a holding pen for the weak and sick. It was liberated on April 15, 1945.

Holy See

www.timesonline.co.uk 17 Apr 2005 Papal hopeful is a former Hitler Youth Justin Sparks, Munich, John Follain and Christopher Morgan, Rome THE wartime past of a leading German contender to succeed John Paul II may return to haunt him as cardinals begin voting in the Sistine Chapel tomorrow to choose a new leader for 1 billion Catholics. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, whose strong defence of Catholic orthodoxy has earned him a variety of sobriquets — including “the enforcer”, “the panzer cardinal” and “God’s rottweiler” — is expected to poll around 40 votes in the first ballot as conservatives rally behind him. Although far short of the requisite two-thirds majority of the 115 votes, this would almost certainly give Ratzinger, 78 yesterday, an early lead in the voting. Liberals have yet to settle on a rival candidate who could come close to his tally. Unknown to many members of the church, however, Ratzinger’s past includes brief membership of the Hitler Youth movement and wartime service with a German army anti- aircraft unit. Although there is no suggestion that he was involved in any atrocities, his service may be contrasted by opponents with the attitude of John Paul II, who took part in anti-Nazi theatre performances in his native Poland and in 1986 became the first pope to visit Rome’s synagogue. “John Paul was hugely appreciated for what he did for and with the Jewish people,” said Lord Janner, head of the Holocaust Education Trust, who is due to attend ceremonies today to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. “If they were to appoint someone who was on the other side in the war, he would start at a disadvantage, although it wouldn’t mean in the long run he wouldn’t be equally understanding of the concerns of the Jewish world.” The son of a rural Bavarian police officer, Ratzinger was six when Hitler came to power in 1933. His father, also called Joseph, was an anti-Nazi whose attempts to rein in Hitler’s Brown Shirts forced the family to move home several times. In 1937 Ratzinger’s father retired and the family moved to Traunstein, a staunchly Catholic town in Bavaria close to the Führer’s mountain retreat in Berchtesgaden. He joined the Hitler Youth aged 14, shortly after membership was made compulsory in 1941. He quickly won a dispensation on account of his training at a seminary. “Ratzinger was only briefly a member of the Hitler Youth and not an enthusiastic one,” concluded John Allen, his biographer. Two years later Ratzinger was enrolled in an anti-aircraft unit that protected a BMW factory making aircraft engines. The workforce included slaves from Dachau concentration camp. Ratzinger has insisted he never took part in combat or fired a shot — adding that his gun was not even loaded — because of a badly infected finger. He was sent to Hungary, where he set up tank traps and saw Jews being herded to death camps. He deserted in April 1944 and spent a few weeks in a prisoner of war camp. He has since said that although he was opposed to the Nazi regime, any open resistance would have been futile — comments echoed this weekend by his elder brother Georg, a retired priest ordained along with the cardinal in 1951. “Resistance was truly impossible,” Georg Ratzinger said. “Before we were conscripted, one of our teachers said we should fight and become heroic Nazis and another told us not to worry as only one soldier in a thousand was killed. But neither of us ever used a rifle against the enemy.” Some locals in Traunstein, like Elizabeth Lohner, 84, whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau as a conscientious objector, dismiss such suggestions. “It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others,” she said. “The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice.” In 1937 another family a few hundred yards away in Traunstein hid Hans Braxenthaler, a local resistance fighter. SS troops repeatedly searched homes in the area looking for the fugitive and his fellow conspirators. “When he was betrayed and the Nazis came for him, Braxenthaler shot himself because he knew he couldn’t escape,” said Frieda Meyer, 82, Ratzinger’s neighbour and childhood friend. “Even though they had tortured him in Dachau concentration camp he refused to give up his resistance efforts.” Despite question marks over Ratzinger’s wartime conduct, the main obstacle to his prospects in the conclave — the assembly of cardinals to elect the new pope — is the conservative stance he has adopted as guardian of Catholic orthodoxy since John Paul named him to head the congregation for the doctrine of the faith in 1981. His condemnations are legion — of women priests, married priests, dissident theologians and homosexuals, whom he has declared to be suffering from an “objective disorder”. He upset many Jews with a statement in 1987 that Jewish history and scripture reach fulfilment only in Christ — a position denounced by critics as “theological anti-semitism”. He made more enemies among other religions in 2000, when he signed a document, Dominus Jesus, in which he argued: “Only in the Catholic church is there eternal salvation”. Some of his staunchest critics are in Germany. A recent poll in Der Spiegel, the news magazine, showed opponents of a Ratzinger papacy outnumbered supporters by 36% to 29%. As one western cardinal who was in two minds about him put it: “He would probably be a great pope, but I have no idea how I would explain his election back home.” One liberal theologian,when asked what he thought of a Ratzinger papacy, was more direct: “It fills me with horror.”

Jeruselem Post 18 Apr 2005 Ratzinger a Nazi? Don't believe it By SAM SER Advertisement London's Sunday Times would have us believe that one of the leading contenders for the papacy is a closet Nazi. In if-only-they-knew tones, the newspaper informs readers that German-born Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth during World War II and suggests that, because of this, the "panzer cardinal" would be quite a contrast to his predecessor, John Paul II. The article also classifies Ratzinger as a "theological anti-Semite" for believing in Jesus so strongly that – gasp! – he thinks that everyone, even Jews, should accept him as the messiah. To all this we should say, "This is news?!" As the Sunday Times article admits, Ratzinger's membership in the Hitler Youth was not voluntary but compulsory; also admitted are the facts that the cardinal – only a teenager during the period in question – was the son of an anti-Nazi policeman, that he was given a dispensation from Hitler Youth activities because of his religious studies, and that he deserted the German army. Ratzinger has several times gone on record on his supposedly "problematic" past. In the 1997 book Salt of the Earth, Ratzinger is asked whether he was ever in the Hitler Youth. "At first we weren't," he says, speaking of himself and his older brother, "but when the compulsory Hitler Youth was introduced in 1941, my brother was obliged to join. I was still too young, but later as a seminarian, I was registered in the Hitler Youth. As soon as I was out of the seminary, I never went back. And that was difficult because the tuition reduction, which I really needed, was tied to proof of attendance at the Hitler Youth. "Thank goodness there was a very understanding mathematics professor. He himself was a Nazi, but an honest man, and said to me, 'Just go once to get the document so we have it...' When he saw that I simply didn't want to, he said, 'I understand, I'll take care of it' and so I was able to stay free of it." Ratzinger says this again in his own memoirs, printed in 1998. In his 2002 biography of the cardinal, John Allen, Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter wrote in detail about those events. The only significant complaint that the Times makes against Ratzinger's wartime conduct is that he resisted quietly and passively, rather than having done something drastic enough to earn him a trip to a concentration camp. Of course, whenever it is said that a German failed the exceptional-resistance-to-the-Nazis test, it would behoove us all to recognize that too many Jews failed it, as well. If he were truly a Nazi sympathizer, then it would undoubtedly have become evident during the past 60 years. Yet throughout his service in the church, Ratzinger has distinguished himself in the field of Jewish-Catholic relations. As prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger played an instrumental role in the Vatican's revolutionary reconciliation with the Jews under John Paul II. He personally prepared Memory and Reconciliation, the 2000 document outlining the church's historical "errors" in its treatment of Jews. And as president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, Ratzinger oversaw the preparation of The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, a milestone theological explanation for the Jews' rejection of Jesus. If that's theological anti-Semitism, then we should only be so lucky to "suffer" more of the same. As for the Hitler Youth issue, not even Yad Vashem has considered it worthy of further investigation. Why should we?

NYT 21 Apr 2005 Few See Taint in Service by Pope in Hitler Youth By RICHARD BERNSTEIN and MARK LANDLER MUNICH, April 20 - The day after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, some headlines were already drawing attention to a supposedly dark moment in his past, when the first German pope in 482 years was briefly a member of the Hitler Youth. "White Smoke, Black Past," was the headline Wednesday in Israel's Yediot Aharonot. "From Hitler Youth to the Vatican," was the way The Guardian put it. Even before his election as pope on Tuesday, The London Sunday Times carried an article with the headline, "Papal Hopeful Is a Former Hitler Youth." Does Benedict XVI harbor a secret past, which includes sympathy for the Nazis? That would seem to be the question implied by those headlines, which were echoed in many private conversations. The answer to that question, at least according to available evidence, is no. It is well established, and readily acknowledged by the pope in his autobiography, that for a time in 1941 and 1942, Joseph Ratzinger, then a teenager, was in the Nazi Party's main organization for indoctrinating young people. Enrollment in the Hitler Youth was mandatory for any high school age student. After that, he served for a time in an antiaircraft unit that guarded a BMW plant outside Munich - and there are photographs that show the young Ratzinger in the paramilitary uniform of what were called the flak units, composed of under-age soldiers assigned to antiaircraft guns. But historians and Jewish groups agree that the pope's wartime record, which was very common to young men of his generation, has little if any significance today and certainly suggests no sympathy for the Nazis, then or now. It is true that by an accident of history, Benedict XVI is a pope who once wore a Wehrmacht uniform. But as chief adviser to Pope John Paul II in matters of doctrine, he was, far more importantly, a central figure in one of the late pope's most highly publicized gestures - apologizing for the role that Catholics played in the Holocaust. "Everybody was in the Hitler Youth," Olaf Blaschke, a specialist on modern church history from Trier University, said in a telephone interview. "Some very strong Catholics didn't go to the Hitler Youth, that's true. But it was sort of mandatory, difficult to evade. And those people who were in the Hitler Youth and were indoctrinated by those ideologies were the very people who later on built the Federal Republic of Germany and fought against every type of totalitarianism." Other examples of people who belonged to the Hitler Youth were the novelist Günter Grass and the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, highly respected intellectual pillars of German democracy, Mr. Blaschke said. In some ways, there is a striking similarity between the early years of Joseph Ratzinger and those of Karol Wojtyla, the Polish boy, five years older, who became Pope John Paul II. Each grew up in a small town in Central Europe near the mountains; each experienced the Nazi years, and each turned to a deep Catholic faith at least partly in response to what he had experienced. Throughout his career as priest, bishop and pope, John Paul II spoke about the Jewish friends he had in Wadowice, his hometown in southern Poland, and his memory of their persecutions seems to have motivated him at least in large part to produce the 1998 Encyclical "We Remember," in which he expressed contrition for the failure of Catholics to offer more protection to Jews and for the fact that some took part in their persecution. As archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Ratzinger said very little about the war or the Jews, and he does not seem to have uttered ringing public denunciations of anti-Semitism. But as the right-hand man to John Paul, he was widely assumed to have played a major role in drafting "We Remember," and he was clearly involved in other path-breaking gestures the pope made toward reconciliation with Jews, including praying in a synagogue. "It cannot be denied," he said last year, in a statement that mirrored the main concept of "We Remember," "that a certain insufficient resistance by Christians to this atrocity is explained by the anti-Judaism present in the soul of more than a few Christians." Traunstein, the market town where Pope Benedict XVI spent most of his youth, was typical of the conservative Bavarian villages where the Nazi Party was able to make early inroads in the 1920's. But it underwent a transformation in the 1930's from an enthusiastic embrace of the Nazis to a more fraught relationship. The key change, according to Gerd Evers, a local historian, was the party's increasingly anticlerical oratory, which offended the deeply Catholic population. At one point in the town, some 2,000 villagers signed a petition protesting a Nazi order to remove crucifixes from the schoolrooms, and, indeed, the Nazis withdrew the order. By 1941, when the young Joseph Ratzinger joined the Hitler Youth, the Nazi Party had become an overweening force. The director of St. Michael, a Catholic-run boarding school in Traunstein that Joseph Ratzinger attended, began automatically enrolling his students in the group in 1939, according to Mr. Evers. The Rev. Thomas Frauenlob, the school's current director, said Cardinal Ratzinger shunned Nazi ideology because it conflicted with his Christian faith. "He had a strong belief in Christ, which helped him distinguish between good and evil," Father Frauenlob said. The Ratzinger family itself was also strongly anti-Nazi, according to Cardinal Ratzinger's biographer, John L. Allen Jr., which is the reason Joseph's father was demoted as a policeman, and why he moved his family several times in the war years. According to some people in Joseph Ratzinger's birthplace, Marktl am Inn, his father clashed with local Nazi officials. "When the Hitler Youth was established, my brother was forced to become a member," Cardinal Ratzinger said in an interview in 1997. "I was still too young, but later, when I entered the seminary, I also joined. But as soon as I had left the seminary, I never went to see them again. And this was difficult, because in order to be entitled to get a discount on the tuition fee, which I urgently needed, one had to prove that one was a member of the Hitler Youth." In 1943, according to Mr. Allen's biography, Joseph Ratzinger was drafted into an antiaircraft group. He was sent for a short time to the Austrian-Hungarian border to set tank traps, and deserted after being shipped back to Bavaria. After the war, he entered a seminary near Munich to study for the priesthood, beginning his career in the church. "Ratzinger's views on truth and freedom were forged in the crucible of World War II," Mr. Allen writes, drawing a link to his later theological conservatism. "Under Hitler, Ratzinger says, he watched the Nazis twist and distort the truth. Their lies about Jews, about genetics, were more than academic exercises. People died by the millions because of them. "The church's service to society, Ratzinger concluded, is to stand for absolute truths that function as boundary markers. Move about within these limits, but outside them lies disaster." Given his standing as a staunch conservative, and his active hostility to liberal trends in the church, Cardinal Ratzinger earned some unflattering epithets in the German press - "Panzer cardinal" being the most common of them. But, unlike some Germans of the generation a few years older than his, he has nothing in his past to suggest that he has kept some former Nazi sympathy secret. Indeed, in choosing to go to a seminary and certainly in deserting from the army, the future pope, then still only a teenager, was clearly not acting like a Nazi enthusiast. "There is no sign that he was in any way attracted to Nazism," Siegfried Wiedenhofer, a professor of dogmatics at Frankfurt University and a longtime friend of Pope Benedict XVI. "The opposite is the case." Many Jewish figures have praised the new pope, citing in particular his contribution to Catholic-Jewish reconciliation. "He's never denied the past, never hid it," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "His whole life is an open book of sensitivity against bigotry and anti-Semitism." The Jerusalem Post, in an editorial Tuesday, explained why it was not concerned. "As for the Hitler Youth issue, not even Yad Vashem has considered it worthy of further investigation," it said, referring to the Holocaust Memorial and research center in Jerusalem. "Why should we?" This article was reported by Richard Bernstein in Munich and Mark Landler in Traunstein.


BBC 27 Apr 2005 Hungary seeks Nazi crime suspect Charles Zentai says he never knew the victim Hungary has requested the extradition of Hungarian-born Nazi war crimes suspect Charles Zentai from Australia. Mr Zentai is accused of killing Jewish teenager Peter Balazs in Budapest in 1944 for failing to wear a yellow star identifying him as a Jew. Australian Justice Minister Chris Ellison said the Hungarian request was being processed. The Hungarian foreign ministry began investigating Mr Zentai, who denies the allegation, last December. Mr Zentai, a former mental health nurse, is now 86 years old and lives in Perth in Western Australia. Two alleged accomplices to the killing have previously been convicted and jailed. The present investigation was prompted by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, a US organisation which has so far tracked down over 300 Nazi criminals.

Macedonia see Netherlands - ICTY

BBC 22 Apr 2005 Macedonia men cleared of murder There were wild celebrations in Skopje after the court verdict A court in Macedonia has acquitted four men accused of murdering seven South Asian migrants and making it look as if they were members of an al-Qaeda cell. The presiding judge said there was insufficient evidence against the men, three of whom are former policemen. The prosecution had alleged that the killings of six Pakistanis and an Indian in 2002 were ordered by former Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski. He is due to face unrelated war crimes charges at the UN's Hague tribunal. Mr Boskovski was charged over allegedly committing war crimes during the 2001 conflict between the Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian rebels. 'Victory for Macedonia' Friday's verdict by a court in the capital, Skopje, was cheered by some 100 relatives and supporters of the three former senior police officers and a businessman. Boskovski is remembered as a hardline interior minister "This is a victory for Macedonia... But our battle is continuing until Ljube Boskovski is freed," said a mother of one of the acquitted. During the trial, defence lawyers had argued that the accused were the victims of a plot aimed at embarrassing Macedonia's government at the time. The prosecution had accused the four men of luring the immigrants from neighbouring Bulgaria before killing them outside Skopje in March 2002. Mr Boskovski, who holds dual Croatian and Macedonian citizenship, fled from Macedonia after being accused of involvement in the killings last year. He has said he was not guilty of the charge and had evidence that proved the seven slain men were al-Qaeda operatives, planning an attack on western targets in Macedonia, in concert with Albanian militants. Mr Boskovski was extradited from Croatia to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague last month to face war crimes charges.

Netherlands - ICC

His Sights Are On the World's Biggest Killers Sunday Times (Johannesburg) NEWS April 17, 2005 Posted to the web April 18, 2005 By Claire Keeton Johannesburg The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has a massive task ahead, but he seems undaunted, writes Claire Keeton L UIS Moreno-Ocampo has one of the hardest jobs in the world: to stop war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide by prosecuting those behind the killings. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) doesn't sound daunted by the mandate. The 52-year-old Argentine has just had his authority as the world prosecutor of war crimes affirmed with a landmark decision for him to investigate "the situation" in Darfur, Sudan. Last Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan handed him the names of 51 suspects linked to tens of thousands of killings in Darfur since July 2002. This is the first case the UN Security Council has referred to the prosecutor, and the move reinforces his legitimacy and that of the court. Juan Méndez, the UN special adviser on the prevention of genocide, said the referral was a great opportunity to establish the prosecutor's office and the ICC but was also "a huge gamble". The ICC was set up to try the perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide when countries are unable or unwilling to do it themselves. Until now Moreno-Ocampo's office has been concentrating on war crimes referred by the unable states of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both are among the 98 countries that ratified the Rome Treaty creating the ICC in The Hague, in the Netherlands, in July 2002. Sudan is not party to the treaty and is seen as unable and unwilling, resisting demands to stop backing the Darfur killers and to prosecute them, as well as the UN resolution to send the suspects to the ICC. Interviewed in Somerset West shortly before the historic resolution, Moreno-Ocampo appears to have the credentials and international support - he had travelled 40 000km across three continents in the past 10 days - to achieve this. His track record as a prosecutor in Argentina from 1984 to 1992 against top military and police commanders demonstrated his relentless determination to see justice done. Explaining his commitment to human rights, Moreno-Ocampo said: "I lived in a wild country with no rules... the government was killing us instead of protecting us." Some 15 000 Argentines "disappeared" during the military rule from 1976 to 1983. At the time that he was becoming famous for prosecuting the generals, including three former heads of state, Moreno-Ocampo lived across the road from an army intelligence school. A risk taker, he remembered: "About 80 young officers saw me go to work every day... I knew the military would not kill me during a democracy but I would have to run if there was a coup d'état." There were no more coups, though there were four military rebellions between 1987 and 1990, and Moreno-Ocampo prosecuted the officers behind some of them. His prosecutions of the military elite antagonised his family, but this did not deter him. He said: "When I started prosecuting the military junta my mother was against me as my grandfather was a general and my uncle was a colonel. "They believed the criminals were the guerrillas not the generals. "Three weeks after the hearings started, my mother told me that she still loved General Jorge Videla [the former head of the military dictatorship] but he has to be in jail." Moreno-Ocampo said of the "military junta" trials from 1984-85: "I was 32. I thought this was going to be my most important role as a prosecutor. "Now I feel that it was just training." The trials consolidated democracy in Argentina and their impact extended far beyond South America. The guilty verdicts against five commanders in December 1985 sent a warning to the violators of human rights around the world that they were not untouchable. During the 1990s Moreno-Ocampo continued to defend human rights and challenge the impunity of the elite, extending this to tackle corruption. From 1995 he had his own law firm and worked pro bono for various NGOs. He also taught at the universities of Buenos Aires, and Harvard and Stanford in the US, and wrote books. Not intimidated by public opinion he took on controversial cases, such as defending the right of the former Argentine minister of economics to an impartial judiciary, and the rights of soccer star Diego Maradona. He was president of Transparency International for Latin America and the Caribbean, and World Bank consultant on corruption. Moreno-Ocampo said he realised through this work that the judiciary cannot defeat corruption on its own. "I found you can stop mass killings. You can't stop corruption," he said. Then one day, in December 2002, he got a phone call to inform him that his name was high on a list of candidates to be the chief prosecutor for the ICC. "I did not think then it was a possibility," said Moreno-Ocampo, who discussed the job with his wife. In April 2003 he was unanimously elected to the post and the only downside is that he finds it difficult to live away from her and his four children in Argentina. Juan Méndez, once a prisoner of conscience in Argentina, described his countryman as the perfect choice for the ICC given his experience in prosecuting "crimes against humanity". He said that Moreno-Ocampo was a politically astute choice and was "sensitive to cross-cultural animosities", while not allowing anyone to take over his agenda. The chairman of the International Centre for Transitional Justice, Dr Alex Borraine, agreed the prosecutor was well qualified. "He has seen the depth and length of depravity by people within one country, let alone country against country." He said Moreno-Ocampo had "an appreciation that countries do not only need prosecutions but also sustainable peace". Heather Hamilton, vice-president for programmes for the NGO Citizens for Global Solutions, commended the prosecutor for rejecting potential cases that were "either outside the jurisdiction of the court, not of sufficient gravity to meet the high thresholds or simply attempts to use the court for political ends". Moreno-Ocampo cannot completely avoid the diplomatic influences on the ICC, yet his focus is unwaveringly on the victims of war crimes. "We want to make sure we are not exposing the victims of ongoing conflicts to more violence. "Their interests come first," he said. Deflecting criticism that Uganda and the DRC had been opportunistic in their referrals, the prosecutor said: "We chose these cases based on the degree of gravity, the numbers killed... "One of our problems is that children have been used as soldiers. The victims can be killers at the same time." Moreno-Ocampo confirmed that his office was "now moving into a new scenario where there will be trials in the near future". Bill Pace, convener of the Coalition for the ICC, said some of its members were sceptical of the prosecutor's "bare bones strategy" in deploying small teams of investigators to concentrate on few cases. Moreno-Ocampo has, however, moved swiftly since he took office in April 2003 and had four staff members. Today he has 85 "smart people" from 34 different countries in his office and the deputy prosecutor is Fatou Bensouda from the Gambia. Africa has been high on the ICC's agenda, with the prosecutor's office also reviewing evidence of possible war crimes in the Central African Republic, Ivory Coast and Burundi. Moreno-Ocampo said: "My contribution is to keep the court absolutely within its jurisdiction." In doing this, he has made overtures to NGOs. "It is good to have pressure in the right direction," he said. The first step the prosecutor took was holding a public hearing with state parties, NGOs and academics. Pace said Moreno-Ocampo's "leadership philosophy reflects a mixture of entrepreneur, NGO and academic, all themselves rather unconventional and non-institutional". The prosecutor has the ability to talk easily with high officials as well as with NGOs and victims, said Méndez. But to be effective, he needs more than Latin American charm and goodwill. The ICC needs allies, particularly since the US is opposed to it and has penalised countries supporting the court. Moreno-Ocampo is confident that the US will shift its hardline stance. "Who can be against prosecuting genocide?" he quipped. "In 20 years everyone will be inside the court," he predicted. Meanwhile he has identified South Africa as a key partner in securing the support of African leaders for the ICC. "President [Thabo] Mbeki knows it is important to combine efforts for peace and security with global justice," he said. In January the South African government invited Moreno-Ocampo to Pretoria to forge a working agreement with him. He met the justice minister, senior foreign affairs officials and the head of the Scorpions, Vusi Pikoli, during this visit. Moreno-Ocampo said the ICC was interested in African models of justice, and in late January he attended an African Union meeting in Nigeria where he met African leaders. The prosecutor declared: "This is the decade of Africa. The 1980s were about Latin America, the 1990s about Eastern Europe and now we have to work with Africa." Moreno-Ocampo is optimistic that a consensus is emerging globally to stop mass killings. "Since the Yugoslavia and Rwanda killings there is a different awareness. We did not have this 15 years ago," he declared. "The world is changing."

Netherlands - ICTY

VOA News 14 April 2005 Prosecutor at The Hague Accuses Milosevic of Prolonging Trial Mr. Milosevic A prosecutor at the war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague has accused the defendant of trying to prolong the proceedings for self-promotion. Prosecutor Geoffrey Nice made the comment Thursday, as Mr. Milosevic sought additional time beyond the 150 days the court has allotted for his defense. The former Yugoslav president wants to call hundreds of witnesses, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Mr. Milosevic's trial began in 2002 and has been repeatedly delayed because of concerns over his health. Mr. Milosevic is charged with war crimes and genocide from conflicts in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. He has refused to recognize the tribunal and is conducting his own defense. Some information for this report provided by AP, Reuters, AFP.

BBC 20 Apr 2005 Health fears hit Milosevic trial - Mr Milosevic has been on trial in The Hague since February 2002    The war crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been interrupted because he is suffering "dangerously high" blood pressure. There is also a risk of cardio-vascular attack, according to a medical report read out at The Hague tribunal. Mr Milosevic, who faces charges of genocide and other crimes against humanity, has not missed a day of court since he was allowed to defend himself. One defence witness has refused to give evidence while he is absent. The tribunal judges charged former Kosovo Serb leader Kosta Bulatovic with contempt of court for refusing to be cross-examined by prosecutors without Mr Milosevic in court. The trial at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has been sitting for three years, interrupted by the frequent ill-health of Mr Milosevic, 62, who has a heart condition. Before he won the right to conduct his own defence last year, proceedings had been interrupted 15 times. A BBC correspondent at the tribunal says judges have asked the standby defence lawyers to start preparing the next witness in case Mr Milosevic remains ill. Charges The lawyers have said in the past that they cannot defend Mr Milosevic properly as he refuses to co-operate with them. Mr Milosevic faces more than 60 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged central role in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo during the 1990s. He also faces genocide charges over the 1992-95 Bosnia war, in which 200,000 people died. He has been given 150 days to complete his case, at the rate of three hearings per week, with no time added on for time lost through illness. Mr Milosevic was in office for 13 years until 2000. He faces life imprisonment if found guilty.

Macedonian ex-policeman pleads not guilty at Hague 18 Apr 2005 07:33:25 GMT Source: Reuters (Adds plea details, background) AMSTERDAM, April 18 (Reuters) - A Macedonian former senior police officer pleaded not guilty at The Hague tribunal on Monday to charges of responsibility for the murder of ethnic Albanians in a 2001 guerrilla insurgency in Macedonia. Johan Tarculovski pleaded not guilty to three counts of violations of the laws or customs of war. He is charged with murder, wanton destruction and cruel treatment linked to an alleged police attack in August 2001 on civilians in the village of Ljuboten. "I am not guilty," Tarculovski told the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in a webcast of the hearing. Tarculovski was indicted with former Macedonian Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski in the last indictment issued by the tribunal. Boskovski pleaded not guilty to all charges earlier this month. Boskovski was one of the toughest members of the nationalist government of Orthodox Christian Macedonia during the six-month insurgency by guerrillas of its Muslim Albanian minority. Rebels seized control of villages in the north, igniting a conflict that took Macedonia to the brink of civil war. Boskovski formed a paramilitary police unit known as the Lions, loyal to him alone, while Ukrainian helicopter gunships were brought in to help Macedonian forces fight the guerrillas. Mediation by NATO and the European Union stopped the fighting, leading to the 2001 Ohrid peace accord which gave greater local autonomy to the 25 percent Albanian minority.


AP 16 Apr 2005 Polish officials mark the 65th anniversary of Katyn massacre WARSAW, Poland: Poland's president and prime minister laid wreaths Saturday to mark the 65th anniversary of the massacre of some 22,000 Polish military officers and intellectuals by the Soviets in the Katyn Forest. Several hundred people attended the ceremony at Warsaw's Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Prime Minister Marek Belka both laid wreaths of red and white flowers. Members of parliament, the Roman Catholic Church and the Katyn Committee, an organization of relatives of those killed, also paid homage to the victims. "I carry this tragedy in my heart for my entire life since my closest family was murdered in Katyn'' said Jerzy Kluza, 83, whose two uncles were killed in Katyn. The 21,768 Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests were taken prisoner when the Soviet Union invaded Poland at the start of World War II. They were executed in April and May 1940 by the Soviet secret police in and around the forest near the city of Katyn, in what was then western Soviet Union. Archive material shows the order for killing the Polish officers was signed March 5, 1940, by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, among others. Russia admitted in 1990 that Stalin ordered the killings but Russia's top military prosecutor said last month that an investigation had been closed after concluding that the massacre did not constitute genocide, and the criminal case had been dropped. The memory of the massacre remains a strong irritant in Polish-Russian relations, and Polish lawmakers have called for Moscow to classify the killings as genocide and bring the remaining perpetrators of the so-called Katyn massacre to justice.

AP 15 Apr 2005 Polish Director Making Film on Massacre By Associated Press BRATISLAVA, Slovakia -- Polish film director Andrzej Wajda is planning to film a movie about the World War II Katyn massacre, the state-run news agency TASR reported. "It's a complicated theme not only because it was taboo for years, but it is hard to find the right way to transfer it to the screen," Wajda said Thursday. Wajda received an honorary Oscar in 2000 for his body of work, which includes "Danton" and "The Possessed." Wajda said he wants to start filming this year. Some 22,000 Polish prisoners of war were killed by Soviet secret police in 1940 in and around the forest near the city of Katyn, in what was then western Soviet Union. The remains were uncovered in 1943 by the Nazis after they had overrun the area in their invasion of the Soviet Union. The memory of the massacre remains a strong irritant in Polish-Russian relations. "My father was also executed then," Wajda said, adding that "the real hero of this story is my mother." Wajda's father -- Jakub -- was 40 at the time of his death. His mother had to find a job, forcing a once well-off family of intellectuals into a working-class existence that provided more fodder for Wajda's films.

www.baltimoresun.com 25 Apr 2005 65 years later, massacre of Polish troops recalled Crowd gathers at city monument that marks World War II killings By Anica Butler Sun Staff April 25, 2005 Wearing the medals she earned fighting in the Polish Underground during World War II, Alfreda Jamrosz struggled to keep warm yesterday as she waited to read a poem. She was among about 100 or so who had gathered at the National Katyn Memorial in Inner Harbor East to mark the 65th anniversary of the massacre of thousands of Polish military officers by Soviet troops. "We have to remember these people who were killed not for any other reason but they were Polish," she said, warming up over a cup of coffee at the Polish National Alliance building on Eastern Avenue afterward. "We cannot just forget the innocent people." The ceremony at the monument at President and Aliceanna streets marked two events. Those who gathered were there to remember an estimated 15,000 Polish soldiers who disappeared in April 1940. Three years later, more than 4,000 were found in mass graves in the Katyn Forest in western Russia. Although the Soviets had initially blamed the massacre on the Nazis, in 1990 the Soviet government acknowledged that the Red Army was responsible. The group also was there to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the memorial, which took decades to become a reality. By the end of the month, two panels will be added to the site to explain its meaning. The first will describe the monument and its symbolism - the golden flames reaching toward the sky represent rebirth or transformation. The white eagle is a national symbol of Poland. The panel also will tell the stories of Polish military heroes and explain the lone female figure in the memorial - Lt. Jawidga Lewandowska, a Polish Air Force pilot who was the only woman among those known to be killed in the Katyn Forest. The second panel will give the history of the massacre. The artist responsible for the drawings on the panels is a Baltimore-born Polish-American, Carla Hazard Tomaszewski, who donated her time and art. Tomaszewski said she found new significance in the massacre after the Sept. 11 attacks. "We say 'never again' and it happens again and again. We don't want people to forget this," she said, adding, "There was no explanation of the figures up there. When we get people walking by from the new hotels, now they can read about it and have a deeper knowledge." At the ceremony, people shivered in the cold and wind to pay tribute beneath an overcast sky. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and representatives of the Polish Embassy in Washington were among the dignitaries to attend. Although most who were there were members of the area's Polish community, the monument offers meaning for everyone, said City Councilman James B. Kraft. The memorial, Kraft said, is a reminder of what can happen "when intolerance becomes victorious."


www.a1plus.am/eng 15:27:31 | 19-04-2005 | Politics | CONFERENCE DEDICATED TO ARMENIAN GENOCIDE TO BE HELD IN KRASNODAR The Chair of the History of Ancient World and Middle Ages of the Kuban State University will hold a conference entitled «Armenian Genocide: humanitarian comprehension of the tragedy of the 20-th century». As reported by Yerkramas newspaper, the event is dated to the 90-th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Representatives of national, cultural and religious societies, teaching staff and students of the Krasnodar scientific and educational institutions as well as all those who wish will take part in the conference to be held April 23. {BR} The conference will start with joint pray of Christian, Muslim and Judaic Dioceses. Reports titled «First World War and the Armenian Genocide in Turkey: cultural aspect», «Armenians of Western Armenia in 1915», «Anthology» by Valery Bryusov, «Armenian Architectural Monuments in Krasnodar and Adygea», «National Issue in the Ideology of Armenian Political Parties at the beginning of 20-th century» and others are to be given. A documentary «I accuse» shot by Yerkir Media TV Company will be shown. The conference will end with a round table, upon completion of which a Resolution will be adopted.

19 April, 2005, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK E-mail this to a friend Printable version War memories blur 60 years after By Paul Reynolds World Affairs correspondent, BBC News website The 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe is being marked not just with commemorations - in Russia there are moves to rehabilitate Stalin and in Germany a debate has developed about how far Germans were victims as well as perpetrators. Stalin's war role is being played up by Russian revisionists Two generations after the war, reputations are being re-evaluated, memories are being re-assessed and history is being re-written. It was on 15 April 1945 that the Red Army launched its assault on Berlin. Germany signed its final surrender on 7 May. The council in the western Russian city of Oryol, which itself suffered badly during the war, has called for Stalin's name to be restored to streets and for monuments and statues to him to be re-erected. "The 60th anniversary of victory obliges us to support widespread calls to restore historical justice with respect to the historical role played by the commander-in-chief Josef Stalin," a resolution said. One regional official was quoted by the newspaper Izvestia as denying that Stalin was behind the purges that killed and imprisoned millions. "It is not a simple issue. Stalin was not really responsible for the repressions. In all official documents the orders are from the NKVD [the predecessor of the KGB], military tribunals. A system of repression existed and functioned by itself," she said. Stalingrad again? There is also a movement in favour of restoring the name Stalingrad to the city where the German advance in the southern Soviet Union was halted. It was renamed Volgograd by Nikita Khrushchev, who led the anti-Stalin criticism after the dictator had died. Veterans who fought there had hoped the old name would be restored in time for the anniversary of the German surrender in 2003, but accepted that the procedure would be "unpredictable" because Stalin was still a "controversial figure." These suggestions appear to be motivated in part by nostalgia for a strong leader at a time when post-communist Russia is still suffering economically and feels marginalised on the world stage. German debate In Germany the debate is about the extent to which German guilt should be applied to the population as a whole. "Germany has faced up to its past, but since 2002 there has been some backsliding, " said British historian Antony Beevor, author of books on the siege of Stalingrad and the fall of Berlin. "The process is called 'normalisierung' and it is slightly alarming though it is not universal in Germany. It started in reaction to the way in which guilt was rammed down the throats of generations which came after the war. "Compared to Austria, however, one should keep a balance over Germany. Austria has presented itself in an astonishing way as the first victim of Nazism. And Japan has refused to face up to anything." Berlin saw one of the bloodiest battles in history Antony Beevor pointed to a couple of books in Germany that were very important in this re-assessment. Crabwalk by Gunter Grass described the loss of civilians on a refugee ship torpedoed by the Russians while trying to escape from Danzig in January 1945. Der Brand (The Fire) by Jorg Friedrich dealt with the carpet-bombing of German cities and called on Britain to acknowledge that it, too, had committed war crimes. These books opened up the issue of Germans being victims, something not much discussed by the immediate post-war writers. Indeed, not long before he died in 2001, the German writer W G Sebald, who lived in England, complained about this. He suggested that even the survivors had participated in this silence. The issue of whether the air war "could be strategically or morally justified," he wrote in Air War and Literature, "was never the subject of open debate in Germany after 1945, no doubt mainly because a nation which had murdered or worked to death millions of people in its camps could hardly call on the victorious powers to explain. It is also possible that quite a number of those affected by the air raids, despite their grim but impotent fury in the face of such obvious madness, regarded the great firestorms as a just punishment". 'Downfall' No longer. The current German film Downfall, about the last days of Hitler and his entourage in the Berlin bunker, is part of the normalisierung phenomenon. It has gone down well in Germany, perhaps because it shows heroism by some German officers, including SS officers (as well as an appealing and brave young boy) in the face of the advancing Red Army. Germany is remembering its Nazi past like never before Hitler, brilliantly played by Swiss-born Bruno Ganz, is humanised, though, in my opinion, not romanticised. He is shown both as a charismatic and at times even courteous leader (who can command the affections of Eva Braun) as well as a ranting maniac who rails against Jews and traitors. "Four or five years ago, this film would have had a different reaction in Germany," said Antony Beevor. "The problem is that film is a dangerous way of portraying history. The priorities of cinema are different. There has to be a comparison of characters, so some unpleasant people like SS General Wilhelm Monke are shown as better than they were. " SS soldiers under Monke were responsible for a massacre of about 100 British prisoners near Dunkirk in 1940. In the film he is simply shown as a noble defender of the last Berlin redoubt. "The other issue is that you do not see cause and effect in the film. You see the claustrophobia of the bunker but see nothing of the civilian suffering which Hitler's madness brought about," said Beevor. As for Russia, he said: "A whole orchestra of drums is being banged in a quite extraordinary way for the 60th anniversary celebrations of what is still called the Great Patriotic War. There is no doubt that the Soviet Union suffered the worst casualties of the war but nobody is prepared to face up to the dark side of Stalinism or indeed communism. "There is a rehabilitation of Stalin to a large degree. I am surprised that Volgograd has not already been renamed."

www.mosnews.com 20 Apr 2005 Georgia More to Blame for Stalinist Genocide — Russian Envoy to Ukraine Russian ambassador to Ukraine, former Russian PM, Viktor Chernomyrdin, said Georgia is more to blame for genocide of Ukrainians than Russia. Speaking to journalists, the ambassador said that since Joseph Stalin was originally from Georgia, accusations of mass repressions should be directed at that country, Lenta.Ru reported. Chernomyrdin was asked whether Russia acknowledged the genocide of the Ukrainians by the Soviet leadership. “If we speak about terror in the times of the USSR, as a result of that, the number of Russians killed was far greater than that of Ukrainians. We still cannot answer to our people for that. If anyone is to receive claims, address them to Georgia, the ’father of nations’ Joseph Stalin was from that country,” the ambassador replied. Historians estimate that some seven million people died during the 1932-33 famine, which Ukrainians say was deliberately started by the then Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Under his policy of forced collectivisation of agriculture, farmers in Ukraine — known as the “bread basket” of the USSR — were stripped of all their produce, leaving millions of people with virtually no food to survive.

www.timesonline.co.uk 20 Apr 2005 Rice presses Putin on democracy By Chris Johnston, Times Online Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, has criticised Russia’s record on democracy ahead of talks in Moscow with Vladimir Putin. In a Moscow radio interview, she said the US would be watching the outcome of oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s trial "to see what it says about the rule of law in Russia". A court will rule in the businessman’s fraud trial on Wednesday next week. He could be jailed for up to 10 years. Ms Rice highlighted the powers that Mr Putin had accumulated since becoming prime minister in 2000, albeit in diplomatic language. "For the US-Russia relationship to really deepen and for Russia to gain its full potential, there needs to be democratic development," she said, answering a listener’s email question. "There should not be so much concentration of power just in the presidency; there needs to be an independent media ... so that the Russian people can debate and decide together the democratic future of Russia." Despite this criticism, relations between Ms Rice and the Russian President appeared cordial at the start of their meeting today. Mr Putin said that relations between America and Russia had reached a "high level". "We hope that this course will continue," he added. Ms Rice, on her first visit to Moscow as Washington’s top diplomat, said she looked forward to a fruitful discussion "on various issues that are of interest to us: our common interest in regional stability, our common interest in the global war on terrorism, on economic development in the world". Flanked by interpreters and aides, they then entered the Kremlin’s lavish Green Room, filled with statues of former Russian tsars. In the radio interview, the Secretary of State added that the US did not want Russia to be isolated over democracy concerns and would support its efforts to join the World Trade Organisation. Rights activists complain Washington has been too tolerant of Russia’s backsliding on democracy, for fear of losing Mr Putin’s cooperation on Mr Bush’s war on terrorism. Russia is considered a test case of the President’s vow to make democracy crucial to all Washington’s bilateral relations. The thorny issue of nuclear inspections was raised last night when Ms Rice met with Sergei Ivanov, the defence minister. He gave assurances about greater access, she said, but the Interfax news agency reported that Moscow was not considering the possibility of visits by American inspectors. On radio, Ms Rice said American attempts to monitor Russian nuclear sites were not an intrusion on the country’s sovereignty. It was an opportunity for cooperation between the two countries, in her view. Washington wants an agreement on better access to nuclear facilities by US inspectors before George Bush, the US President, travels to Moscow to meet Mr Putin next month. Ms Rice also mentioned Russian cooperation with the United States and other countries in trying to stop Iran obtaining nuclear weapons In the interview. "Russia is not a strategic enemy," she said, suggesting that the two countries have worked well together since the final years of communist rule. Ms Rice’s rusty Russian caused a slight problem during the radio interview. Asked whether she might run for president, she answered Da – Russian for yes, before realising her mistake and saying Nyet (no) seven times. After her Moscow visit, the next stop on the itinerary is Lithuania.

BBC 25 Apr 2005 Putin deplores collapse of USSR President Putin: Russia will pursue its own model of democracy Russia's President Vladimir Putin has described the collapse of the Soviet Union as "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century. Mr Putin's annual state of the nation address to parliament was broadcast live on Russian television. He said the break-up of the USSR in 1991 was "a real drama" which left tens of millions of Russians outside the Russian Federation. He also said Russia must develop as a "free and democratic" country. But he stressed that Russia "will decide for itself the pace, terms and conditions of moving towards democracy". Any unlawful methods of struggle ... for ethnic, religious and other interests contradict the principles of democracy Vladimir Putin Putin speech: Excerpts "We are a free nation and our place in the modern world will be defined only by how successful and strong we are". Critics accuse President Putin of concentrating too much power in the Kremlin, pointing to controversial changes in the way provincial governors and parliamentary deputies are elected. Reinvesting in Russia Mr Putin also said Russians who had saved money overseas should be encouraged to return capital to Russia. He called for a flat 13% tax on all undeclared revenue. "Tax authorities have no rights to terrorise business," Mr Putin said. Massive demands for back taxes crippled Russia's largest oil firm Yukos - and its plight has alarmed many western investors. Monday's speech was Mr Putin's second state of the nation address since he was re-elected by a landslide in 2004. His wide-ranging speech also touched on the government's efforts to combat terrorism. He called for "radically new approaches" to tackle the threat, which he described as "still very strong". "The moment we display weakness or spinelessness, our losses will be immeasurably greater," he warned. He said "unlawful methods of struggle" would not be allowed in Russia. The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Moscow says he may have been alluding to the recent turmoil in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. He also promised a fairer media and less corrupt government. Last week US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed concern at the progress of democracy and media curbs in Russia.

WP 27 Apr 2005 Editorial: Mr. Putin's Verdict Wednesday, April 27, 2005; Page A22 WHAT WAS "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century"? The rise of Nazi Germany? The spread of genocide as a tool of state power? Some might say it was the crushing of a host of nations by the totalitarian Soviet Union, at the cost of millions of lives. But not Russian President Vladimir Putin. For him, the greatest catastrophe was not the Soviet Union's rise but its collapse -- an event that freed 14 of those nations, from Latvia to Kyrgyzstan, from Moscow's domination. "The old ideals were destroyed," Mr. Putin lamented during his annual state-of-Russia address on Monday. Most accounts of Mr. Putin's speech focused on the passages intended for Western consumption: his claim that "the development of Russia as a free and democratic state" is now his highest priority; his assurance to Russian and foreign business executives that their investments will not be seized by rapacious authorities, despite the state's recent confiscation of the country's largest oil company; his announced plans to strengthen political parties and make the state-controlled media more independent. Yet the former KGB officer's nostalgia for the former Soviet empire seemed as telling as any of his promises. So did his denunciation of the "disintegration" of Russia before he came to power, which he defined as the "capitulation" of granting autonomy to Chechnya and the "unrestricted control over information flows" that allowed private business executives to operate newspapers and television networks. Mr. Putin has reversed both of those liberalizations -- in Chechnya's case, by means of an ongoing war that has killed tens of thousands. The Russian president has a short-term interest in burnishing what even he must recognize as a tarnished image. Early next month he is due to host numerous world leaders, including President Bush, in a celebration of the Soviet victory in World War II. This summer Mr. Putin is due to take over the rotating leadership of the Group of Eight, a club of industrial democracies in which Russia, an increasingly autocratic state that ranks 97th in the world in per capita gross domestic product, is glaringly out of place. As Mr. Putin acknowledged Monday, his strategy for restoring Russian greatness depends heavily on his ability to attract Western capital and to maintain partnerships with the European Union and the United States. But Mr. Putin would like to achieve these goals while consolidating the Kremlin's restored diktat and reviving what he called "the Russian nation's civilizing mission in the Eurasian continent." That's why the best measures of Mr. Putin are not speeches but actions. One important test will be his handling of neighbors such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which have embraced democracy and rejected Mr. Putin's neo-imperialism. Will he adjust his approach to those countries, and withdraw unwanted Russian troops from Georgia and Moldova? Another comes today at the trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the entrepreneur who built the Yukos oil conglomerate and used it to help finance Russia's liberal democratic opposition. For daring to behave as if Russia were the free and capitalist-friendly country that Mr. Putin describes, Mr. Khodorkovsky was arrested and subjected to a show trial, even as his company, Russia's most modern, was broken up. Today he will receive his verdict; prosecutors have requested a prison sentence of 10 years. The outcome ought to tell the Bush administration and other Western governments something important about a leader who would set the agenda for the world's advanced democracies.

BBC 28 Apr 2005 'Our People' stand up for Putin A new pro-Putin youth group says it wants to promote a modern, independent Russia but, Lucy Ash reports, some claim the movement is a cover for thuggish nationalists. - Shouting, embarrassed giggles and laughter fill the dining hall. Nashi hopes to train 100,000 future leaders by 2009 About 150 young men and women are sitting around tables covered with felt tip pens and big sheets of white paper. Their task is to invent and then read out catchy slogans about their feelings for Russia. Russia's Future Is in Our Hands! We Will Resurrect Our Country, Forward With Russia, America Can't Outshine Us! they yell as a wiry man in a track suit springs between the tables urging them on. One teenage girl in a white baseball hat is carefully colouring in a huge green dollar sign. "People today are far too interested in money", she says. "I think that is wrong. There are more important values in life like self-respect and love for your country." We've been granted unique access to a training session of a new pro-Putin youth group called Nashi - Our People - at a Soviet-era cross-country skiing resort in Ryazan, three hours south of Moscow. Leadership qualities Each table sports a Russian flag and a Nashi one. The flag of the new movement looks a bit Danish to me but I am told the red stands for Russia's glorious past - at the centre of the USSR - and the white is the country's shining future. Putin is the only person who believes democracy and sovereignty can be combined in this country Vasily Yakemenko President Putin's advisers are acutely aware that youth organisations played a major role in the momentous events in Ukraine last December, and in Georgia a year earlier. There are increasing signs that a nervous Kremlin is doing whatever it can to prevent an Orange Revolution in Russia. Music was a crucial factor in boosting morale throughout the fortnight of street protests in Kiev. Perhaps that is why some of Russia's most influential rock stars were recently invited to a secret meeting in a hotel by Putin's deputy chief of staff, Vladislav Surkov. Officially the meeting was held to discuss the state of the music industry but according to Nashi's press spokesman, Ivan Mostovich, the musicians were also told that the President wanted to "count on them, if something happens, to at least remain neutral". Nashi's leader, Vasily Yakemenko, is a former employee of the presidential administration and one of very few people I meet in Russia today who still seems genuinely enthusiastic about Putin. The President, he tells me, is surrounded by incompetent bureaucrats who come from a generation of defeatists. "What we are doing here today is looking for young people with leadership qualities", he says. "After two days of training we'll pick out the most ambitious ones, the ones who haven't lost their hope in Russia." Different agenda? Nashi has grand plans to train a new generation of 100,000 young Russians, some of whom Yakemenko claims will be ready by 2009 to start running the country. Nashi values: Patriotism counts for more than hard currency They'll be taught subjects such as geopolitics, history and economics in 25 different institutes across Russia. "The tragedy of our country at the moment", he continues, "is that Putin is the only person who believes democracy and sovereignty can be combined in this country." When I ask what he means by sovereignty Yakemenko criticises the role US- and Western-funded organisations played in the revolutions on Russia's borders. To him young people who join groups like Ukraine's Pora - Time for Change - are helping to put the Motherland under foreign control. If Yakemenko presents Nashi as a spontaneous union of well educated patriots, others worry that the group has a very different agenda. One activist from the youth wing of the liberal Yabloko party claims the movement is trying to intimidate young people and stop them from joining pro-Western groups. Ilya Yashin, who was thrown out of Nashi's founding conference once his identity was discovered, accused the movement of acting as "a cover for storm brigades" that will use violence against democratic organisations. Law and order Some of our members may be giving up their time to help maintain law and order on the streets - what is wrong with that? Nashi spokesman, Ivan Mostovich According to a report on the relatively independent REN TV channel, in Nizhniy Novgorod, one of Russia's largest cities, Nashi are already setting up squads to maintain order in the streets and local police officials are considering whether to provide the group with tear gas weapons. But Nashi's spokesman Ivan Mostovich, dismisses fears that the group is aggressive or nationalistic. "Ever since Soviet times we've had volunteers who helped the police - we called them druzhniki. And yes, some of our members may be giving up their time to help maintain law and order on the streets. What is wrong with that?" he asks. "I think you have the same kinds of volunteers in the West and that is part of building a responsible civil society." Spotting 'fascists' This week it emerged that the movement is planning to distribute a booklet to head teachers across the country to help them to spot "fascists and their sympathisers" in schools. Nashi denounces free market liberals who are ready to sell off Russia's assets to the highest bidder but they also oppose an ultra-left party, the National Bolsheviks, led by the maverick writer Eduard Limonov. After a decade of apathy, growing numbers of young Russians are getting involved in politics. Alexander Korsunov, a Moscow student, runs a website called Skaji Nyet or Say No. Among other things, the site provides detailed coverage of the social protests which have erupted in several Russian cities following the welfare reforms introduced at the beginning of this year. He says his site is a response to heavy media censorship and he is trying to fill the information gap but he is also hopeful that change is on its way. "I'm not trying to provoke people or make them join this or that party. Russians are smart enough to make their own choice but I think there is going to be some new oppositional power - now it is just in the air you know, everybody feels that something is going to happen."


www.theherald.co.uk 20 Apr 2005 Former soldier tells of massacre at farm DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Belgrade The Yugoslav army made a list of nearly 200 Croat prisoners of war before they were executed at a pig farm, an army reservist from the 1991 war in Croatia has testified at a landmark war crimes trial. Milovan Miladinovic, an army reserve captain, was at the Ovcara farm where Serb paramilitaries allegedly executed at least 192 prisoners captured after the fall of Vukovar in November 1991. Miladinovic was a witness at the trial of 18 Serbs suspected of participating in the killings. Yugoslav army officers had previously claimed that the troops did not know about the Ovcara massacre at the time and that the prisoners could have been killed by paramilitaries outside army control. However, Miladinovic said the army drew up a prisoner list before the victims were shot and that the paramilitaries and military police guarded a barn where the prisoners were held. Miladinovic said he saw the list but could not study it as he was afraid of his superiors. He said he heard shots being fired one night and his soldiers told him: 'It seems that those people were shot." "Until I saw it in newspapers, I did not know it was true," he said. The trial is a test of whether Serbia-Montenegro, the successor state to Yugoslavia, is capable of prosecuting war crimes suspects. AP The Yugoslav army made a list of nearly 200 Croat prisoners of war before they were executed at a pig farm, an army reservist from the 1991 war in Croatia has testified at a landmark war crimes trial. Milovan Miladinovic, an army reserve captain, was at the Ovcara farm where Serb paramilitaries allegedly executed at least 192 prisoners captured after the fall of Vukovar in November 1991. Miladinovic was a witness at the trial of 18 Serbs suspected of participating in the killings. Yugoslav army officers had previously claimed that the troops did not know about the Ovcara massacre at the time and that the prisoners could have been killed by paramilitaries outside army control. However, Miladinovic said the army drew up a prisoner list before the victims were shot and that the paramilitaries and military police guarded a barn where the prisoners were held. Miladinovic said he saw the list but could not study it as he was afraid of his superiors. He said he heard shots being fired one night and his soldiers told him: 'It seems that those people were shot."


IPS 19 Apr 2005 Conviction of Argentine Rights Abuser Opens Door to International Justice Tito Drago MADRID, Apr 19 (IPS) - The 640-year sentence handed down Tuesday to former Argentine naval officer Adolfo Scilingo in Spain "opens another door to international justice, for trying perpetrators of crimes against humanity," human rights activist Monica Cavagna told IPS. Spain's Audiencia Nacional court convicted Scilingo, 58, of crimes against humanity, including murder, illegal detention and torture, committed during Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship. Although he was sentenced to 640 years in prison, he will serve no more than 25, with time off for good behaviour and work, under Spanish law. The prosecutors were seeking a sentence of 9,138 years. The former navy captain was sentenced to 21 years for each of 30 murders, five years for illegal detention and five years for torture. The court found him guilty of participating in the illegal detentions and torture committed in the Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA), Argentina's most notorious clandestine prison camp, in 1976 and 1977. It also ruled that he took part in the "death flights" in which political prisoners were loaded onto navy aircraft, drugged, stripped naked and thrown alive into the sea. Hundreds of people were forcibly "disappeared" in this fashion. Scilingo confessed to being on two of the flights, and was convicted of murder in the deaths of the 30 people killed on those two occasions. The sentence also stated that the accused took part in burning the bodies of political prisoners who were killed in ESMA, which the military human rights abusers sarcastically referred to as "asados" (barbecues). Activist Cavagna, the president of the Spanish-based Argentine Association of Human Rights (AADH), who was in the courtroom when the verdict was read out, told IPS that she felt enormous peace and satisfaction at that moment, and that like many of those around her, she was unable to contain her shouts of joy. "Thousands of us have been working for this for years, and we are happy, because justice is being served, and because this sets a precedent in Europe and at the international level, since it was an ordinary Spanish court that tried an Argentine criminal," she said. "Anyone who has committed similar crimes, or who commits them in the future, can be arrested and tried, by invoking this historic precedent," she added. Two amnesty laws passed in Argentina in the 1980s, which put an end to prosecutions of members of the military charged with human rights violations, continue to stand in the way of legal action in the South American country. Although the Argentine Congress repealed the two laws in 1998, legal challenges questioning the constitutionality of the congressional move are still pending a Supreme Court decision. Because military human rights abusers were let off the hook in Argentina, the principle of "universal justice" came into play. In international law, the concept of universal jurisdiction holds that every state has an interest in bringing perpetrators of the worst crimes against humanity to justice, regardless of where the crime was committed, or of the nationalities of the perpetrators or victims. Scilingo plans to appeal the sentence to Spain's Supreme Court. When asked if she was satisfied with the 640-year sentence, Cavagna said "it's not a question of one year more or less, because in Spain, long sentences are not served in their entirety anyway." Alba Lanzilotto, a member of the Argentine human rights group Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, was also celebrating the sentence. "Somewhere in the world, the justice system had to react to crimes against humanity," she said. "Fortunately, this is happening in Spain, the country we consider our second home since it took us in when we were forced to go into exile," she added. The Abuelas (grandmothers) came together during the dictatorship to search for their missing grandchildren, the sons and daughters of political prisoners who were taken from their parents, most of whom were among the de facto regime's 30,000 victims of forced disappearance. Like Cavagna, Lanzilotto said the ruling sent out a clear message to criminals around the world, that "they will have no refuge; their crimes will not go unpunished." Argentine lawyer Carlos Slepoy, who took exile in Spain, where he continues to live, underlined in a conversation with IPS that Scilingo was the first Argentine human rights abuser to be tried in this country. He was also the first to actually be present at a trial held outside of Argentina, "which makes this sentence a historic development," added Slepoy, who represented families of victims of Argentina's de facto regime in the trial. Other members of the Argentine military have been tried in absentia and sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity committed during that country's "dirty war". Former generals Guillermo Suárez Mason and Santiago Riveros were convicted in Italian courts, and former naval captain Alfredo Astiz was sentenced in France. The next step to be taken by the Spanish courts with respect to prosecutions of Argentine military officers will be the trial of former naval captain "Ricardo" Miguel Cavallo, who was extradited to Spain from Mexico in June 2004. He is in prison in Spain and faces charges of genocide and terrorism. Also to be tried is Ricardo Oliveros, a former Argentine army intelligence officer who lives in Alicante, on Spain's Mediterranean coast 400 kms from Madrid. Oliveros was arrested on Apr. 16 and will testify on Apr. 27 in the same court that heard the case against Scilingo. Scilingo came to Spain voluntarily in 1997, to testify before prosecuting Judge Baltasar Garzón, who became famous the following year when he attempted without success to have former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet extradited to Spain. In 1995, Scilingo's account of the "death flights" was published in the book "The Flight: Confessions of an Argentine Dirty Warrior", by Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky. When the former navy officer came to Spain, Garzón had him arrested. During the trial Scilingo pretended to faint, declared a hunger strike that lasted for only a few days, refused to testify, and recanted his testimony, claiming that it was all a fabrication aimed at ensuring that those guilty of the crimes committed by the dictatorship would be brought to justice. However, the court not only took into account his initial confession, but also called a number of survivors of the repression, relatives of victims, and human rights activists to testify, some of whom did so by videoconference from Argentina and other countries.

news.independent.co.uk 20 Apr 2005 Argentinian officer jailed by Spain for 'dirty war' crimes By Elizabeth Nash in Madrid 20 April 2005 In the first international law ruling of its kind, Spain's National Court sentenced the Argentinian former naval officer Adolfo Scilingo to 640 years' jail for crimes against humanity committed during Argentina's "dirty war". A panel of three judges convicted Scilingo, 68, of participating in "death flights" during the military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983, when opponents of the regime were stripped, drugged and flung from aircraft into the Atlantic; and found him responsible for the deaths of 30 people. This is the first time anyone has been convicted in person (rather than in absentia) of human rights crimes committed in another country. Yesterday's verdict is a vindication of the principle established by Spain's crusading judge Baltasar Garzon that human rights crimes can be tried anywhere in the world, and that ex-torturers and murderers have nowhere to hide. Judge Garzon's attempt to bring Augusto Pinochet to trial in Spain failed when Britain freed the former Chilean dictator on health grounds in March 2002. Pinochet was arrested in London and charged with torture and genocide on Judge Garzon's request, but the then Home Secretary Jack Straw refused to extradite Pinochet to Spain. When the judge read yesterday's verdict in the Madrid courtroom, families of victims who had sought justice for nearly three decades wept with joy. Some had travelled from Argentina to give evidence, others had long since fled to Spain as exiles. Some wore stickers with pictures of their missing loved ones. Scilingo listened to the sentence with his head bowed, taking notes. He made no reaction either to the verdict or to cries from the public. He was convicted on 30 counts of murder, at 21 years each, plus five years for illegal detention and another five for torture. "Asesino! Rot in jail!" cried a man in the gallery as guards led Scilingo away. Charges of genocide and terrorism were dropped, reflecting the difficulty of establishing proof in the case. Evidence was provided by dozens who had been kidnapped and tortured, or who described experiences of relatives. But only one survivor of the notorious death centre in Buenos Aires, the Naval Mechanics School (Esma) recognised Scilingo as having worked there for more than a year. Up to 5,000 died at Esma, including women whose babies born in detention were stolen and given to families of military officers. But no one survived to testify about the vuelos de la muerte, although there were rumours of bodies found in the river Plate. The evidence was based on Scilingo's confession that he pushed people from planes, which he later retracted. Scilingo admitted in 1995 he had participated in "action groups" responsible for kidnapping, torturing and "disappearing" people. Tormented by memories, he said up to 2,000 people were tossed alive from death flights, 15 or 20 at a time, including two French nuns. He travelled to Madrid in 1997 to testify voluntarily to Judge Garzon. He was detained, but recanted and tried to sue Judge Garzon for unlawful detention. The trial of Scilingo opened in January this year. Grandmothers, mothers and children of disappeared Argentinians embraced emotionally outside the courtroom yesterday. "I hope while Scilingo is behind bars his conscience softens and he tells us where our murdered children and grandchildren lie, because we've been looking for them for 27 years and we don't want to die without embracing them," said Estela Barnes de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association. Amnesty International hailed yesterday's verdict as "a clear message that perpetrators of crimes against humanity can find no refuge". Some 30,000 Argentinians are estimated to have disappeared during the dictatorship. Scilingo will serve only 30 years, under Spain's penal code. His lawyer said he would appeal to the Spanish Supreme Court.


NYT 17 Apr 2005 Turkey Says 523,000 Were Killed by Armenians Between 1910 and 1922 By SEBNUM ARSU IZMIR, Turkey, April 17 - The Turkish State Archive issued today a list of more than 523,000 Turks whom it said were killed by Armenians in Turkey between 1910 and 1922. The move appeared intended to counter longstanding Armenian contentions that Turkish Ottoman officials committed genocide during a period of mass deportations of Armenians that began in 1915. Turkey fears that the 90th anniversary of the start of the violence, which Armenians and their supporters plan to mark on April 24, will cause widespread anti-Turkish feeling. It is also concerned that the issue could interfere with its plans to start talks with the European Union in October for possible membership. There have been growing calls from other countries for Turkey to acknowledge its role with regard to the Armenians. Last week, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish Parliament called for an international study of the events of that period, but senior Armenia officials turned down the proposal. Turkey flatly denies that there was any systematic effort at killing or forcing the Armenians out of eastern Anatolia, where the Armenians were trying to establish a separate state. with support from the French, British and Russians. Turkey contends that, instead, hundreds of thousands of Turks were killed by Armenians as they tried to establish themselves as the majority population in that region. Prof. Yusuf Sarinay said. The list issued today was compiled based on reports by the regional authorities sent to Ottoman officials in Istanbul, as well as the written accounts of international observers, said Mr. Sarinay, the director of the Office of State Archives. "Europe has used Armenians as a tool in extension of their policies over Turkey, for which Turks and Armenians suffered," Mr. Sarinay was quoted as saying by the Anatolian news agency. "Europe should also face her own history." Hirant Dink, a leading figure among Armenians in Turkey called the list an official attempt to create an alternate version of an internationally recognized reality. He said that such documentary analysis and confirmation of its accuracy should be left in the hands of international academics. "Figures and documents should be researched and analyzed," Mr. Dink said, "However, talking merely in figures means that Turkey doesn't understand the pain of the other side; what is undermined here is the conscience and human factor behind all."

AP 18 Apr 2005 Turks Confront WWI Massacre of Armenians Monday April 18, 2005 6:46 PM By LOUIS MEIXLER Associated Press Writer ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - When a leading Turkish novelist said earlier this year that 1 million Armenians were murdered in his country during World War I, he broke a deep taboo. Three lawsuits were filed against Orhan Pamuk, accusing him of damaging the state. ``He shouldn't be allowed to breathe,'' roared one nationalist group. In Istanbul, a school collected his books from students to return to him. On a news Web site, the vote ran 4-1 against him. Turkey's mass expulsion of Armenians during World War I - which Armenians say was part of a genocide that claimed 1.5 million lives - is a dark chapter rarely discussed in Turkey or taught in its schools. But slowly the veil is being lifted. One reason is that Turkey is more open and democratic today, another is its ambition of joining the European Union; French President Jacques Chirac has said Turkey must first acknowledge the killings. Turkey is also eager to counter Armenian diaspora groups that are pushing European governments and the United States to declare the killings genocide. And the approach of April 24, the 90th anniversary of the date Armenians mark as the start of the killings, is focusing attention on the issue. ``We are mutually deaf to each other,'' said Yasar Yakis, head of parliament's European Union Affairs Committee, who invited two ethnic Armenians in Istanbul to address his committee. ``Perhaps if we can create a climate in which we listen to what the other side has to say, we might meet in the middle,'' Yakis said. Turkey has long denied the genocide claim, saying the death toll of 1.5 million is wildly inflated and that both Armenians and Turks were killed in fighting during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Turks who describe it as genocide have on occasion been prosecuted, and Turkey often gets into diplomatic tussles with governments it suspects of taking the Armenian side. It's one of the reasons Turkey and neighboring Armenia don't have diplomatic relations. Turkey also fears that if the genocide claim is recognized, Armenians will use it to demand compensation - either money or lost land. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul insists that to call it genocide is ``pure slander,'' and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that all countries should open their archives to scholars to examine whether the event was genocide. A Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Committee, partly funded by the U.S. State Department, first met in 2001, bringing together leading Turks and Armenians, while intellectuals such as Pamuk, whose novels have won critical acclaim in the United States, are playing a key role in opening up the debate. The taboo is diminishing, said Hrant Dink, editor in chief of Agos, a weekly Armenian newspaper in Istanbul. ``The box has been opened. It cannot be closed anymore.'' The subject needs to be dealt with gently because ``the stubbornness on both sides is so great,'' said Vamik Volkan, a member of the reconciliation committee. ``It was not in the history books.'' Volkan said he grew up knowing nothing about the Armenian tragedy and first learned of it in the 1950s when he met an Armenian-American at a dinner in the United States. ``He turned red and had a seizure when I told him I was a Turk,'' Volkan recalls. For Turkey, the issue goes beyond the killings of Armenians to the whole trauma of losing its once mighty Ottoman Empire. As the Muslim empire faltered, minority Armenian Christians began asserting their identity. During World War I, amid fears of Armenian collusion with the enemy army of Christian Czarist Russia, Armenians were forced out of towns and villages throughout the Turkish heartland of Anatolia and many died. ``The Armenians were relocated because they cooperated with the enemy, the Russians, and they ... killed Ottoman soldiers from behind the lines,'' Yakis, the lawmaker, said. Armenians, however, say the killings were part of a planned genocide. Volkan, a professor emeritus of psychiatry at the University of Virginia, said that after the war, the new Turkish republic ``wanted to look forward and not backward.'' Pamuk dropped his bombshell in February in an interview with the Swiss newspaper Tagesanzeiger, talking of Armenians as well as Turkey's modern-day Kurdish minority. He said that ``30,000 Kurds have been murdered here and 1 million Armenians and nobody dares to mention that. So I do it. And that's why they hate me.'' The reaction to Pamuk was largely hostile, but a few newspaper columnists defended his freedom of speech. Dink, the Armenian editor, sees Turks moving toward accepting their past ``at a very slow pace and with great difficulty.'' ``A real democracy does not have the luxury of hiding taboos under the carpet,'' he said, ``and in this process of speaking a solution will be found."

Aljazeera 24 Apr 2005 english.aljazeera.net Armenian genocide issue still haunts Turkey by Christian Henderson On 24 April 1915 Turkish Ottoman authorities arrested and deported 250 Armenian leaders marking the start of what Armenians say was a genocide that killed 1.5 million of their kin. Armenians say they were victims of an ethnic-cleansing campaign planned by Turkish nationalists as the Ottoman Empire crumbled amid the first world war. They say between 1915 and 1923 hundreds of thousands of Armenians were forcibly marched through the Mesopotamian desert where they died of dehydration and starvation. Turkey denies this. It says thousands of Armenians and Turks died in a civil conflict that erupted after Armenians sided with invading Russian forces. To this day, the historical events surrounding the killings remain hotly contested. Fierce debate Many academics say the Armenian version of events holds water. "Among most bona fide historians this is non-debate. Turkish nationalist historians still reject this," Donald Bloxham, a history lecturer at Edinburgh University, said. Bloxham, who has just completed a book entitled The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians, said: "The Turkish version just doesn't stand on any level." On the other hand, there are several historians, such as Middle Eastern scholar Bernard Lewis, whose works support the Turkish account of events. "There is an explainable, understandable history of a two-sided conflict. It was not genocide," Justine McCarthy of the University of Louisville wrote in the Turkish Daily News in 2001. Pressure growing However, there is increasing international and domestic pressure on Turkey to recognise the killings as a genocide, suggesting that, in this instance, history is not on Turkey's side. Last week a record 32 US senators and more than 100 legislators wrote to US President George Bush asking him to recognise the genocide. "The memory of the Armenian genocide underscores our responsibility to help convey our cherished tradition of respect for fundamental human rights and opposition to mass slaughters. It is in the best interests of our nation and the entire global community to remember the past," the senators wrote. Armenians hope George Bush will use the term 'genocide' The Armenian lobby in the US is hoping Bush will use the word genocide in a speech commemorating the anniversary of the 1915 killings. "The overall aim of the community is to get recognition of the genocide," Elizabeth Chouldijian of the Armenian National Committee of America said. Whether Bush is willing to offend an important strategic ally in order to appease a relatively weak domestic lobby, remains to be seen. Turkey has traditionally been an important Nato ally and a key military partner with the US. "The president speaks of moral clarity over international issues and we ask him to have moral clarity over this issue too," Chouldijian told Aljazeera.net. European voices Pressure on Turkey is also growing elsewere. The Polish parliament and the Russian Duma have adopted resolutions that will call on the international community to recognise the genocide. In Germany, officials have said they will urge Turkey to acknowledge the incident as such. France's Jacques Chirac visited a memorial to the dead in Paris In France, home to the largest Armenian community in Europe, French President Jacques Chirac accompanied Armenian President Robert Kocharian to a monument for victims of the killings in Paris on Friday. In Belgium, the parliament voted on Saturday to make denying the Armenian genocide illegal. In addition to international pressure, there are an increasing number of Turkish intellectuals and academics who are breaking a taboo and calling for the events to be recognised as genocide. The Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk received death threats after he recently told a Swiss newspaper that "no one dares say that a million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds were killed in Turkey". Tense relations The issue has strong resonance in the foreign affairs of both Turkey and Armenia. Relations between the two countries are tense. Ankara refuses to establish relations with Yerevan because of the genocide row and Turkey closed its border with Armenia in 1993 because of its war with Azerbaijan, depriving the tiny, landlocked country of a key trade route. Armenia says that as long as Turkey fails to recognise the genocide, then it will feel threatened by its neighbour. "Without recognition of the fact of genocide and an admission that it was wrong, we cannot trust our neighbour, which has a tangible military weight" Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan "Without recognition of the fact of genocide and an admission that it was wrong, we cannot trust our neighbour, which has a tangible military weight," Armenia's foreign minister, Vardan Oskanyan, said. Harry Tamrazian, head of the Armenian service at Radio Free Europe, said: "This is very important for Armenia. The very fact Ankara refuses to recognise the Armenian genocide is very disturbing for Armenian security." Armenians say they want to seek compensation for the genocide, something that observers say unnerves Turkey. "When any genocide is committed, it is a crime and there must be repercussions. Once the genocide is recognised, then the next step is looking into what the consequences are according to international law," Chouldijian of the Armenian National Committee of America says. Crucial to EU talks Tamrazian echoes Chouldijian. "They are afraid of dealing with the consequences. Once you recognise the genocide, they think Armenians will ask for compensation," he told Aljazeera.net. As Turkey prepares for EU accession talks, the Armenian genocide is something Ankara cannot avoid. Turkey is a key US strategic partner and Nato ally "There is a European moral standard that says if you want to be a member of the Western world, then you have to allow a discussion, a debate, of the past, and second you have to be ready to rectify the wrongdoings of the past," Turkish historian Taner Akcam said at a recent conference on the genocide in Armenia. Some EU members say Turkey must examine its past before it joins the bloc, something that irks Turkey. To which Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer responds: "It is wrong and unjust for our European friends to press Turkey on these issues. "These claims upset and hurt the feelings of the Turkish nation. What needs to be done is research and investigate and discuss history, based on documents and without prejudice." Turkey has offered to open its Ottoman archives to a joint commission of Turkish and Armenian historians to research the genocide issue, something that the Armenian government has dismissed, saying that incriminating documents have been removed. Kurdish issue The Armenian issue also raises questions over the nature of the Turkish state. "The Armenian genocide issue is a living one," says Edinburgh University's Bloxham. "Turkish ethnic nationalism was the ideology behind the genocide, it is this same ideology that has been behind its problems with the Kurdish population," he said. "So to question this ideology and the genocide would also confront ethnic nationalism, and Turkey would then have to confront its relationship with the Kurds." Hidden agenda? For their part, Turks say European countries are using the Armenian genocide issue to hinder Turkey's attempt to join the EU. Pulent Akargly, an MP with the Turkish National Party, says: "Turkey will never accept genocide allegations just because European and American parliaments say so." Armenians in Yerevan observe the anniversary of the events Akargly says Turkey has the strength to dismiss such demands. "They can make pressure but this will not have any serious impact on Turkey. Because Turkey is a country of 70 million with a strong army and a strong market in a strategic area, I believe that more and more the EU and the US need Turkey more than we need them." Akargly also accuses Europe and the US of gross hypocrisy, saying: "The Western world has to recognise genocide with what they have done in Latin America. Then what has been done during the Crusader period, then what has been done in black Africa and Arab Africa and during Vietnam." Different voices But as Turkey undergoes EU-driven reform, many in the country say that challenging the nationalist historiography will become easier. "I think we will hear different voices," Etyen Mahcupyan, a Turkish journalist of Armenian descent, recently told Radio Free Europe. "We will see that at least part of the public thinks differently - very differently, in fact - from the state. We will then obligatorily see a discussion take place between state and society. This is, in fact, democratisation."

turks.us26 Apr 2005 Forgotten Genocides By Gunduz Aktan “Following the recognitions of Slovenia and Croatia, the European Union also recognized Bosnia-Herzegovina, a country which declared its independence on March 3, 1992. The United States then had to follow the EU, and the Balkan wars flared up. Serbia was aiming to seize all of the territories where Serbians were living, and then it started to perpetrate ethnic cleansing to expel other groups from the country. The weapons embargo imposed under the September 1991 United Nations Security Council Resolution 713 deprived other groups of arms to fight the Serbian Army. The US chose not to intervene in the region for a long time, arguing that it was an internal European matter. In the meantime, Europe was split into two. On the one hand, Britain, France and Russia were tolerant of Serbia’s actions, and on the other, Turkey, Germany and Austria were defending the rights of the victims. In February 1992, the EU established aid corridors in the region’s residential areas with the help of UNPROFOR, a force made up of British and French troops. It declared some of the regions ‘safe zones’ to protect the cities that the Serbian Army was attacking. However, as no armed measures were taken, these efforts were doomed to failure. Brussels then tried to find a solution to the problem with a series of international conferences. UNPROFOR failed to protect the civilian population. Since the UN refused to lift its weapons embargo, it gave these people no chance to defend themselves. Approximately 2.5 million people, most Muslims, were forced to migrate to other countries. Some 250,000 innocent people were slaughtered and 50,000 women were raped. The Serbian soldiers burned the villages, destroyed the mosques and deprived the people of food and water in concentration camps. Their bodies were buried in mass graves. From the very beginning, Turkey knew that this wasn’t simply another war. The ethnic cleansing wasn’t the result of the war but it was Serbia’s ultimate aim. It was truly a genocide. Turkey called on the UN Human Rights Commission to convene for a special session in December 1992. The commission decided that Serbians were perpetrating crimes against humanity and the victims were the Muslim Bosnians. The UN General Assembly then agreed that ‘ethnic cleansing’ is a type of genocide. In June 1993, the World Human Rights Conference approved a resolution calling on the Security Council to put an end to the genocide in Bosnia-Herzegovina. However, the secretary of the conference lost the text of the resolution, and then Turkey had to stop the meeting until the text was found! However, the result was the same. By July 11, 1995, the Serbians had slaughtered 8,000 Bosnians. Then, NATO, led by the US, intervened in the region and overpowered the Serbian troops. The Bosnian-Herzegovina incidents reminded us of a century-long ethnic cleansing against the Balkan Turks. Now, I’d like to call on French President Chirac to recall these events, and the fact that the perpetrators killed and tortured thousands of innocent people virtually next door. He must think well to remember these events. And we too, we mustn’t forget this genocide, its perpetrators and collaborators either.”


PanARMENIAN.Net 24 Apr 2005 LVOV: RALLY ON ARMENIAN GENOCIDE 90-TH ANNIVERSARY Some 1 thousand Lvov resident, mostly Armenians, rally in the city center on the 90-th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. The rally participants went along Lvov central streets to the monument to Taras Shevchenko. Priests were in the forepart of the procession, whose participants have red carnations and lighted candles in their hands. They carry transparencies: “All those not censuring the genocide are its participants,” “Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Empire awaits for its «Nuremberg»”, “Non-acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide cannot be justified by any national interests.” Honorary President of Akhtyur Armenian Association of Lvov Karapet Bagratuni said those gathered demand that Turkey and other countries of the world, which have not recognized the Armenian Genocide, to properly acknowledge it. In his words some 3 thousand Armenians live in Lvov. Militia does not hamper those gathered. It should be noted that April 22 unknown people again wrote offensive expressions on the walls of the Armenian church situated in the center of Lvov.

United Kingdom

Telegraph UK Lessons of Belsen (Filed: 18/04/2005) Sixty years ago tomorrow, the people of Britain became aware for the first time of the full horror of the Nazi regime that they had fought for so long to overthrow. Four days earlier, soldiers of the 63rd anti-tank regiment of the Royal Artillery had arrived at a camp called Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover, of which few Britons had then heard. What they found there was so hard to believe that at first the BBC refused to broadcast the description recorded by its reporter on the scene, Richard Dimbleby. Four days passed before, on April 19, 1945, Mr Dimbleby's report was heard at home. He had broken down five times while trying to record it: "Behind the huts, two youths and two girls who had found a morsel of food were sitting together on the grass in picnic fashion, sharing it. They were not six feet from a pile of decomposing bodies..." And so on. Until that moment, the vileness of Hitler's regime had been universally acknowledged among the western Allies, but it had seemed somehow abstract. The sights and the stench of what the liberators found at Bergen-Belsen made it suddenly real. Since that day, many in the West have preferred not to think about how a nation as apparently civilised as Germany could have come to treat human beings like this. It seemed more comfortable to dismiss Adolf Hitler and his followers as inhuman madmen - aberrations of history - than to accept that anything like the Holocaust could happen again. But all of history should warn us that it could happen again. It happened before Hitler - in the pogroms of Imperial Russia and in Stalin's purges. It has happened since - in Pol Pot's killing fields and the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and Rwanda. And it is still happening, in the systematic genocide in Darfur. The survivors who gathered at Bergen-Belsen at the weekend are the living witnesses of the evil of which even "civilised" man is capable. We must learn from them.

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BangkokPost 26 Apr 2005 www.bangkokpost.com COMMENT / RECORDING HISTORY To each their own version of events The huge protests in China and South Korea have focused new attention on history and how it is preserved By ALAN DAWSON This week is the anniversary of the American invasion and failed colonisation of Canada. Military forces of the 38-year-old United States had earlier attacked and burned the Canadian capital city, York (later renamed Toronto). Sixteen months later, Canadian armed forces under the British General Robert Ross entered Washington, DC and immediately torched the capital of the new nation. They burnt the White House to the ground with particular glee. A funny thing has happened 192 years after these mutually marauding raids. School textbooks in Canada teach every child the glories of the punitive raid into Washington. US textbooks teach that the Americans defeated the British at New Orleans two years later and won the war. Nothing happened in Washington. A funnier thing: Canadians have never taken to the streets to protest these self-serving US school textbooks (although they seldom miss an opportunity to ask Americans how they like their new White House). This illustrates why it is difficult for so many people to grasp why millions of Chinese and Koreans seem so outraged about a few paragraphs in the world's most universally boring literature _ the high school history textbook. Of course, it is all part of the often convenient package of allowing pent-up domestic rage to channel to ``those foreigners''. No nation is innocent of this, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The Chinese-language reference to outsiders as barbarians and the very name of the Middle Kingdom speaks loudly. Cambodians hate yuan (Vietnamese), the strongest word in Khmer describing foreigners. Similarly, although the American labour movement attacks companies for out-sourcing work, these attacks are as clearly anti-foreigner as the ``Japanese only'' signs on the Soi Thaniya karaoke bars. But the demand by huge numbers of Chinese and Korean civic leaders and common people to police the schoolbooks of two generations of Japanese children is unique. Not that textbook disputes themselves are unusual. Earlier this year, German educators debated a phrase in a sentence in a chapter about the 1915-16 Turkish-Armenian clash, anguishing over whether to let stand the reference to ``the genocide of the Armenian population of Anatolia''. They cut it out. But textbooks are always under discussion, and often heated debate. But the dispute is almost always over national textbooks, not those of nearby countries. And even heated debate is different from huge demonstrations in multiple cities over it. It is an interesting idea that the neighbours should write each others' textbooks. One wonders, though, just what Thai students would learn if the Burmese and Cambodians wrote history. Just a guess, but the chapters on Nakorn Wat (Angkor Wat) and Ayutthaya might look a little different from today's texts. Certainly, the Khmer have just a little different view of history than the Vietnamese. If five million Cambodians got the power, Vietnamese school children would be taking exams on their country's rapacious seizure of Saigon _ called Prey Nokor when it was a Khmer river settlement until the mid-17th century. Vietnamese high school history textbooks written by Cambodians probably would have a chapter on the unquenchable lust for territorial expansion by Vietnamese emperors, and the actual rape of a Cambodian princess by the Nguyen Dynasty emperor who would do anything to grab more land and power. Today's actual history textbooks by Vietnamese usually have a paragraph on a royal wedding which showed how Cambodians and Vietnamese of the Nguyen Dynasty co-existed closely. But then the Vietnamese have a different take on China than the current Chinese textbooks. If there were textbook protests in Vietnam, they would demand that Beijing recognise that Chinese emperors spent 1,200 years trying unsuccessfully to crush the Vietnamese, who did not have a generation of peace over the millennium starting 200 years BC. Mythical Vietnamese protesters would also insert a chapter about the 1979 Chinese invasion of Vietnam, a scorched-earth raid that China conducted for no other reason than it could _ to ``punish'' Vietnam for liberating Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge. Chinese textbooks, after all, make no mention of these events, which went a long way to shaping Vietnam in all important ways. Thai educators have enough trouble trying to present history to young minds. There are still textbooks around that claim the Thai originated in Mongolia _ a mere piffle of a dispute compared with how to present the 1973, 1976 and 1992 democracy revolutions. Come to think of it, maybe it would be easier to let outsiders write Thai textbooks. But that brings up the point that no neighbours want to. Thais are not on the streets demanding that Laos, say, revise its lesson plan for Mathayom 2 students to stop calling the Thai expeditionary aid force to Laos ``mercenary invaders''. Chinese and Koreans, though, are not just on the streets but tolerant of hotheads and thugs who beat up Japanese students, trash Japanese-owned businesses and throw huge pavement stones at local drivers in their Japanese-brand (locally made) cars. Banners say ``Japanese dwarfs'' and ``Japanese devils''. So these are not all thoughtful people asking Japan to reconsider its past. They say, or rather scream that this is over a sentence in a paragraph in a textbook that might be seen by 1% of Japanese high school students. The sentence describes the well-named Rape of Nanking (Nanjing) as an ``incident''. Of course, the murderous, six-week conquest was among the worst atrocities of modern warfare. But that is why hundreds of textbooks, dozens of history books and scores of film and video documentaries so carefully study this episode. Not even a cloistered Japanese high school student can really escape the extremely public facts about the Nanjing massacre. Yet it seems beyond doubt the mostly young demonstrators in China and Korea, whose parents probably were not alive at the time, are entirely sincere in their almost incoherent rage about the failed Japanese textbook. Yes, it is a symptom of a general perception that the Japanese will never clear their guilt for colonial and wartime brutality, but the demand to edit the textbooks is specific. Many people must think this is seriously weird. Mexico and America have almost contrasting views of the often bloody 19th century wars that finally formed their border, but even a 10-person protest against the high school textbooks would be newsworthy. Millions of French people might love to write textbooks for German schools, but they are not on the streets demanding that right. Poles write entire jokebooks about the Russians, but do not protest the Moscow high school lessons. The British are outraged when Canadians claim credit for razing President James Madison's White House, but they don't want their former colony to rewrite the textbooks about it. When Canadian ambassador Fred Bild went to Hanoi to present his credentials a few years after the communist victory, his hosts took him on a tour of the Vietnam Military Museum and informed him proudly: ``We are the first nation in history to defeat the United States.'' Mr Bild was delighted to set the record straight that actually, no, Canada had been there, done that 160 years before _ and burnt the White House to boot. The Vietnamese were stricken. One official was so upset it seemed for a couple of minutes there might be a diplomatic incident. Maybe the Vietnamese should revise their textbooks over it.

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