News Monitor for Aug. 16-31, 2005
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
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NYT 30 Aug. 2005 The U.N.'s Chance to Act on Genocide To the Editor: Re "Bolton Pushes U.N. on Change as U.S. Objects to Draft Plan" (news article, Aug. 25): After the horror of the Rwandan genocide, in which some 800,000 Rwandans were slaughtered in just 100 days, the world vowed "never again." Because the United Nations Security Council members demonstrated inexcusable apathy and wasted time debating semantics on whether or not genocide was taking place, I and my small United Nations peacekeeping contingent were forced to watch the slaughter up close with no mandate to intervene. Eleven years later, little has changed. Yet in just two weeks, governments of the world have the chance at the United Nations world summit meeting in New York to make "never again" a reality by agreeing to accept their responsibility to protect civilians in the face of mass murder. They would agree to act in situations where the national government was unwilling or unable to do so. If implemented, this historic measure could put an end to politicking, posturing and inaction and save millions of lives. The agreement would mean that all states share the "responsibility to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner" to protect civilians from large-scale killings, including ethnic cleansing, genocide and crimes against humanity. This would be a historic shift, but negotiations at the United Nations are on a knife's edge, and the United States has still not committed itself to backing it fully. Having seen what the failure to protect means on the ground, I urge the United States to seize the opportunity to show global leadership and help drive this agreement that could save the lives of millions. Roméo Dallaire Quebec, Aug. 29, 2005 The writer, a retired lieutenant general, was commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda.
www.embassymag.ca 17 Aug 2005 NEWS STORY By Heather Sonner and Fergus Watt The Concept Of "Sovereignty As Responsibility" Moves Up A Notch At The UN Despite Opposition Intense negotiations continue on a wide range of United Nations reform issues leading to next month's Millennium+5 Leaders Summit in New York. Obtaining strong endorsement of the "Responsibility to Protect" (R2P) principles has been a priority for Canadian officials since the current UN reform effort was initiated by Kofi Annan in 2003. Initial discussions seemed promising. The Responsibility to Protect was strongly supported in the report of the High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change and also a follow-up report by Annan, entitled "In Larger Freedom." The latter was the focus for debate by governments at the UN General Assembly this spring and summer. Those debates have led to successive "draft outcome documents" for the September Summit which have been more restrained in their commitment to R2P principles, a reflection of the divisions among member states. Incorporating R2P in the September reform package would oblige governments to sign on at the highest level to the idea that sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own populations from crimes against humanity. But when they are unwilling or unable to do so, the broader international community must bear that responsibility. A majority of governments support this concept of "sovereignty as responsibility." Many early concerns about the inviolability of sovereignty and how R2P should be interpreted have been addressed to the satisfaction of skeptics. The African Group has begun to articulate its own unique perspective on the protection of civilians, emphasizing early warning, the moral imperative to stop genocide wherever it happens, and a continuum of responses from prevention to reaction and also post-conflict rebuilding. However, a vocal minority of states persist in opposing R2P, seeing it as an encroachment on traditional notions of state sovereignty and international law. While the most vocal opponents of R2P are members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), including Pakistan, Venezuela, Cuba and Egypt, the NAM has been unable to issue a categorical rejection of R2P in the latest negotiations. Some NAM countries attempt to undermine support for R2P by urging the postponing of any agreement, calling for the General Assembly to take up the issue during its upcoming 60th session. The most recent draft outcome document includes a paragraph on the R2P principles, but also calls for further discussions. The text of the R2P paragraph uses the phrase 'responsibility to protect' with respect to states, but, when discussing actions to be taken by the international community when civilians are at risk, replaces 'responsibility to protect' with 'obligation to protect.' This weakens slightly the Responsibility to Protect as an emerging normative framework. R2P opponents at the UN (and elsewhere) have also raised difficult and salient questions about political will and the ability of states to exercise their responsibility to protect. By what criteria will the UN determine that a state is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens? Who will intervene in instances when the Security Council is deadlocked? The atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan illustrate the difficulty of marshaling the political will to act even when civilians are clearly at risk. From the outset, Canada and other R2P advocates have pursued a "two-track" approach. The first seeks to solidify R2P as an emerging norm of international behaviour; the second and more difficult objective would provide guidance to the Security Council on when it should authorize the use of force. The most recent draft outcome document does little more than invite the Security Council to refrain from using the veto in cases of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. It also expresses support for implementation of the United Nations Action Plan to Prevent Genocide. Thus, while the current UN reform effort will in all likelihood lead to modest gains for the Responsibility to Protect as an emerging norm, decisive action in times of crisis will depend for the foreseeable future on the notoriously unreliable UN Security Council. -- Heather Sonner works at the World Federalist Movement in New York, and Fergus Watt works at the Canadian branch of the World Federalist Movement.
AP 18 Aug 2005 U.N. Asked to Commemorate Holocaust By EDITH M. LEDERER The Associated Press Thursday, August 18, 2005; 8:55 PM UNITED NATIONS -- The United States and several other nations have asked the United Nations to designate January 27 as an annual day to remember the six million Jews and the countless others who perished in the World War II Nazi Holocaust. A letter from the nations, which also included Russia, Israel, Australia and Canada, circulated Thursday requests the General Assembly to add the proposal to its agenda, noting that this year's 60th anniversary of the United Nations coincides with the 60th year of the end of the war. "The Holocaust constituted a systematic and barbarous attempt to annihilate an entire people, in a manner and magnitude that have no parallel in human history," the five countries said. Since the United Nations was founded on the ashes of the Holocaust with a commitment to "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war," it bears a special responsibility "to ensure that the Holocaust and its lessons are never forgotten and that this tragedy will forever serve as a warning to all people of the dangers of hatred, bigotry, racism and prejudice," their letter said. The United Nations has long been accused of having an anti-Semitic agenda, and its connection to the Holocaust was largely ignored until this year. At the urging of the United States, the General Assembly held the first session in its history dedicated to the Holocaust in January to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the death camp liberations. The U.N.'s recognition of its link to the Holocaust, in some of the strongest language ever, was seen as a watershed event. A draft resolution proposed by the five countries would build on the January commemoration and designate January 27 "as an annual International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust." It would also urge the 191 U.N. member states to develop programs to educate future generations on the lessons from the Holocaust "to prevent future acts of genocide." Secretary-General Kofi Annan would also be asked to establish a U.N. educational program entitled "The Holocaust and the United Nations." If approved, all countries would be asked to reject any full or partial denial of the Holocaust. They would also be asked to condemn "all manifestations of religious intolerance, incitement, harassment or violence against persons or communities based on ethnic origin or religious belief, wherever they occur."
Voice of America - USA 22 Aug 2005 www.voanews.com UN Negotiations Underway On Genocide Agreement By Joe De Capua Washington 22 August 2005 De Capua interview with OXFAM official mp3 De Capua interview with OXFAM official ra Listen to De Capua interview with OXFAM official ra At the United Nations, negotiations got underway today on a proposed agreement calling for quick international action to stop genocide. The final document will be presented for approval at the UN summit in September. A number of countries oppose the measure, while others want to change its provisions. Among the groups calling for the genocide agreement to remain unchanged is the aid agency OXFAM. Nicola Reindorp is the head of OXFAM in New York. She spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the proposed genocide agreement. She says, “On the 14th of September…the largest gathering of world leaders ever will come to the United Nations in New York to attend a UN world summit. And they are coming to make commitments on the big issues of global security and UN reform. But what’s starting today (Monday), negotiations are going on right now…and the next few days will determine whether or not world leaders will endorse the new agreement committing governments to take timely and decisive action to stop atrocities like Rwanda’s genocide.” However, a number of countries are reportedly opposed to the agreement, including Pakistan, Egypt, Cuba, Iran and Syria. And some countries reportedly want to weaken the measure, including the United States, Brazil, Russia and India. Ms. Reindorp says, “Governments have a responsibility to protect civilians. But where an individual government is unwilling or unable to protect its civilians, the rest of the world has a collective responsibility to protect. They have a responsibility to step in and do what they can to protect civilians facing grave danger and atrocities like genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, crimes against humanity. OXFAM believes this is a fundamental commitment. A decade ago, the world said ‘never again’ after genocide in Rwanda. But since then, another 40 million people have fled their homes and millions of people have died as a result of violence. We think it’s fundamental that governments should step up to say we are willing to accept our responsibility to protect civilians. And that we will be ready to act collectively to protect civilians facing grave atrocities like genocide if their own governments are unwilling or unable.” However, there’s the issue of countries interfering in the internal affairs of another country. The OXFAM official says, “In the past, the discussion has been about governments being entitled to do what they want inside their own country. The important thing about this commitment, agreeing the responsibility to protect, is to say that human life is the most important thing. In the 21st Century, governments must come together to protect human dignity, human life."
washingtonpost.com 25 Aug 2005 U.S. Wants Changes In U.N. Agreement By Colum Lynch Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, August 25, 2005; A01 UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 24 -- Less than a month before world leaders arrive in New York for a world summit on poverty and U.N. reform, the Bush administration has thrown the proceedings in turmoil with a call for drastic renegotiation of a draft agreement to be signed by presidents and prime ministers attending the event. The United States has only recently introduced more than 750 amendments that would eliminate new pledges of foreign aid to impoverished nations, scrap provisions that call for action to halt climate change and urge nuclear powers to make greater progress in dismantling their nuclear arms. At the same time, the administration is urging members of the United Nations to strengthen language in the 29-page document that would underscore the importance of taking tougher action against terrorism, promoting human rights and democracy, and halting the spread of the world's deadliest weapons. Next month's summit, an unusual meeting at the United Nations of heads of state, was called by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to reinvigorate efforts to fight poverty and to take stronger steps in the battles against terrorism and genocide. The leaders of 175 nations are expected to attend and sign the agreement, which has been under negotiation for six months. But Annan's effort to press for changes has been hampered by investigations into fraud in the U.N. oil-for-food program and revelations of sexual misconduct by U.N. peacekeepers. The United Nations originally scheduled the Sept. 14 summit as a follow-up to the 2000 Millennium Summit, which produced commitments by U.N. members to meet deadlines over the next 15 years aimed at reducing poverty, preventable diseases and other scourges of the world's poor. But the Bush administration is seeking to focus attention on the need to streamline U.N. bureaucracy, establish a democracy fund, strengthen the U.N. human rights office and support a U.S. initiative to halt the trade in weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. amendments call for striking any mention of the Millennium Development Goals, and the administration has publicly complained that the document's section on poverty is too long. Instead, the United States has sought to underscore the importance of the Monterrey Consensus, a 2002 summit in Mexico that focused on free-market reforms, and required governments to improve accountability in exchange for aid and debt relief. The proposed U.S. amendments, contained in a confidential 36-page document obtained by The Washington Post, have been presented this week to select envoys. The U.N. General Assembly's president, Jean Ping of Gambia, is organizing a core group of 20 to 30 countries, including the United States and other major powers, to engage in an intensive final round of negotiations in an attempt to strike a deal. "Now it is maybe time to go on some key issues where we still have controversies and negotiate on these key issues," he said Tuesday. The proposed changes, submitted by U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton, touch on virtually every aspect of U.N. affairs and provide a detailed look at U.S. concerns about the world body's future. They underscore U.S. efforts to impose greater oversight of U.N. spending and to eliminate any reference to the International Criminal Court. The administration also opposes language that urges the five permanent members of the Security Council not to cast vetoes to halt genocide, war crimes or ethnic cleansing. Russia, Pakistan and several other developing countries have also introduced plans for changes in the power of some U.N. bodies. Bolton and a spokesman did not respond to requests to comment Wednesday. Some delegates were sympathetic with the approach taken by Bolton, who took over as ambassador this month. "I think he just wants to be very cautious," said Canada's U.N. ambassador, Allan Rock. "He's coming into a situation where there's a -page document on the table, and I think he's looking at it very closely and he's concerned that great care be taken before his country's name is put to it, and that's quite natural." But the proposals face strong resistance from poorer countries, which want the United Nations to focus more on alleviating poverty, criticizing U.S. and Israeli military policies in the Middle East, and scaling back its propensity to intervene in small countries that abuse human rights. "We are looking at very, very difficult negotiations in the days ahead," said Munir Akram, Pakistan's U.N. ambassador. The United States has "strong positions, and many of us do have very strongly held positions. That's the nature of the game. My only regret is we didn't get into the negotiations early enough." U.S. and U.N. diplomats say that Bolton has indicated in face-to-face meetings with foreign delegates that he is prepared to pursue other negotiating options if the current process proves cumbersome. For example, he has suggested that the entire document could be scrapped and replaced with a brief statement. He also has indicated that the document could be split up by themes, and that nations could choose the ones to support, the diplomats said. In meetings with foreign delegates, Bolton has expressed concern about a provision of the agreement that urges wealthy countries, including the United States, to contribute 0.7 percent of their gross national product in assistance to poor countries. He has also objected to language that urges nations to observe a moratorium on nuclear testing and to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which the Bush administration opposes. "There seems to be general agreement that we must now undertake the more difficult process of open and transparent negotiations to reach agreement on those issues," Bolton wrote Wednesday in a confidential letter to U.N. envoys. "Time is short. In order to maximize our chances of success, I suggest we begin the negotiations immediately, this week if possible."
www.indiancountry.com. Genocide in Texas Posted: August 24, 2004 - 10:41am EST by: Brenda Norrell / Southwest Staff Reporter / Indian Country Today REDLAND, Texas - It is a history that the United States buried, along with the Indian women and children. But there is an invoice for the smallpox blankets given to Indians to eradicate them and a printed record of the scalp laws with payments of 10 pounds of silver for the scalp of an Indian child. Steve Melendez, Pyramid Lake Paiute and president of the American Indian Genocide Museum in Houston, said the genocide of American Indians is a fact of history that must be recorded accurately in history so Indian nations can heal and racism in America can be countered. Melendez said the invaders of this continent carried out systematic genocide to eradicate Indians and it continues today, with the recent theft of Western Shoshone land in Nevada by the United States government. Melendez spoke on genocide at the commemoration of the massacre at Neches, near Tyler in northeast Texas, where the Texas militia murdered 800 Indian men, women, children and elderly on July 16, 1839. On display was the invoice documenting the smallpox that was distributed to Delaware Indians by way of blankets and handkerchiefs in 1763. "I think it is ironic that we stand here today at the site of a destroyed Delaware village. For it was the Delaware Indians in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania who were given the smallpox blankets back in 1763. Many people don’t believe that the Indians were given smallpox blankets but we have found the invoice from Fort Pitt." The invoice states: "To sundries got to replace in kind those which were taken from the people in the hospital to convey the smallpox to the indians. Viz: 2 Blankets; 1 silk hankerchef and 1 linnen." Speaking to several hundred people, including Cherokee and other tribes, Melendez said, "Was there genocide in America? "The killing here continued in the surrounding area until July 24. A militia force was stationed to the north to cut the Indians off if they fled north but they never saw battle. They were not needed." The people were slaughtered. Texas Cherokee and 13 associated bands led by Chief Bowles and Chief Big Mush were among 800 men, women, children and elderly killed on July 16, 1839. The bands included Shawnee, Alabama, Delaware, Kickapoo, Quapaw, Choctaw, Biloxi, Ioni, Coushatta, Mataquo and Caddo of the Neches. "At some point in history, America has to acknowledge the wrongs that were done and call them what they were - Genocide," Melendez said. "At some point in history, America has to acknowledge that the way they confiscated Native lands was not right. At some point in history, America has to call things like what happened here - they have to call it extermination, which it was." "On July the 7th, our President George W. Bush signed into law bill H.R. 884 which arbitrarily confiscated 24 million acres of Western Shoshone Land." Melendez pointed out that in its final report to Congress, the Indian Claims Commission, which was the vehicle used to value the Western Shoshone land, describes itself as a commission and not a judicial court. This commission arbitrarily set the price of Western Shoshone lands at 15 cents an acre. "Fifteen cents an acre! We had the All Star Game in Houston last Tuesday and hot dogs were selling for five dollars apiece. At this kind of an exchange rate, the Western Shoshone would have to sell 33 acres of land just to buy a hot dog. History seems to keep repeating itself over and over again," Melendez said. "Any memorial that is erected here should not be called the Battle of the Neches. We should honor the dead with the truth, and call it what it was - genocide in the Americas." During the 11th annual Neches memorial ceremony, tribes gathered to pray at a monument erected in memory of Cherokee Chief Bowles. Danny Hair, chairman of the North American Indian Cultural Association of Texas, told those gathered that the spirits of the ancestors remain strong here. The American Indian Cultural Society hosted the ceremony, which included Cherokee Nation Chief Chad Smith and Cherokee National Youth Choir from Tahlequah, Okla. To see more of Indian Country Today, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.indiancountry.com.
www.indiancountry.com. Re Texas appropriate location for American Indian Genocide Museum (Part two) Contact: American Indian Genocide Museum President Steve Melendez, Paiute: email@example.com Website: http://www.aigenom.com Posted: August 30, 2004 - 3:17pm EST by: Brenda Norrell / Southwest Staff Reporter / Indian Country Today HOUSTON - There was no state that surpassed Texas in the genocide of American Indians. Now, it is here in Texas that the American Indian Genocide Museum is documenting the American holocaust. "They were run out of Texas," said Steve Melendez, Pyramid Lake Paiute of Nevada, now living in Texas and president of the museum. "We are really sitting on a powder keg here in Texas." Melendez said the museum is retelling Indian history and hopes it will lead authors to rewrite textbooks without bias. "It seems like the Indian side of the story has never been told. They would rather live in this sanitized view of history." The payment for Indian scalps, including the scalps of Indian children, was written in the laws of Massachusetts. "The Acts and Resolves of the Province of Massachusetts Bay," Vol. I, states the rate for Indian scalps began at 50 pounds. The price for the scalp of Indian children under 10 was 10 pounds of silver. The scalp law read, "That there shall be paid out of the publick treasury of this province unto any party or parties that shall voluntarily go forth at their own charge, by commission as aforesaid, in the discovery and pursuit of the said Indian enemy and rebels, for every man or woman of the said enemy that shall be by them slain, the sum of fifty pounds; and for every child of the said enemy under the age of ten years that shall be by them slain, the sum of ten pounds ..." When the slaughter subsided in the United States, scalp bounty hunters went to Mexico and slaughtered entire villages. They would leave arrows at the sites to make it look like Indians carried out the carnage. "This is not revisionist history, this will really shock people," Melendez said. Melendez has also discovered an invoice for the blankets and handkerchiefs used by the British to convey small pox to Delaware Indians. It is from Fort Pitt, in modern-day Pittsburg. Pointing out that such invoices have long been concealed, Melendez said, "They don’t want this information to get out." But it was not only the Delaware Indians who received small pox blankets. In Texas, a military colonel distributed small pox to imprisoned Indians and then released them so that they would return to their tribes and infect their people. This account comes from Col. James Neill in "Recollections of Early Texas, Memoirs of John Holland Jenkins." "On this raid, Colonel Neill adopted a singular, if not barbarous, method of sending destruction upon the Indians. Having procured some smallpox virus, he vaccinated one of the captive warriors, and then released him to carry the infection into his tribe! Nothing was ever heard as to the success or failure of this project." Some presidents of the United States also voiced racism and determination to eliminate American Indians. President Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt was among those who felt land should be taken from the "savages." Roosevelt is quoted speaking of the red, black and yellow Aboriginal landowners in "The Winning of the West, Vol. 4, The Indian Wars." Roosevelt said, "The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages, though it is apt to be also the most terrible and inhuman. The rude, fierce settler who drives the savage from the land lays all civilized mankind under a debt to him. American and Indian, Boer and Zulu, Cossack and Tartar, New Zealander and Maori, - in each case the victor, horrible though many of his deeds are, has laid deep the foundations for the future greatness of a mighty people. The consequences of struggles for territory between civilized nations seem small by comparison. Looked at from the standpoint of the ages, it is of little moment whether Lorraine is part of Germany or of France, whether the northern Adriatic cities pay homage to Austrian Kaiser or Italian King; But it is of incalculable importance that America, Australia, and Siberia should pass out of the hands of their red, black, and yellow aboriginal owners, and become the heritage of the dominant world races." Melendez points out that the bounty for Indian scalps and distribution of small pox virus was accompanied by the movement to rid the Plains of buffalo and replace them with cattle, as described in the "Memoirs of Gen. W. T. Sherman." "They naturally looked for new homes to the great West, to the new Territories and States as far as the Pacific coast, and we realize today that the vigorous men who control Kansas, Nebraska, Dakota, Montana, Colorado, etc., etc., were soldiers of the civil war. These men flocked to the plains, and were rather stimulated than retarded by the danger of an Indian war. This was another potent agency in producing the result we enjoy to-day, in having in so short a time replaced the wild buffaloes by more numerous herds of tame cattle, and by; substituting for the useless Indians the intelligent owners of productive farms and cattle-ranches." In Texas, only three federally-recognized tribes remain, the Alabama Coushatta Tribe on the eastern border, the Ysleta del Sur (Tigua) on the southwestern border and the Kickapoo in Eagle Pass, Tex. In the 1700s, President of the Republic of Texas Mirabeau Lamar pressed for the extermination of Indians, including the massacre of 800 Cherokee and related bands at Neches 165 years ago. Melendez said now Texas is considering constructing a monument in Lamar’s memory. "It is like putting up a statue of Hitler," Melendez said. These are facts that the American Indian Genocide Museum hopes will usher in a new era of healing for Indian people and counter racism in America. The museum board, now searching for a building to house their data as a permanent museum, has a vision to defeat prejudice and discrimination through education. The American Indian Genocide Museum is a memorial to the victims of ethnic cleansing. Along with countering racism, the museum is exposing prejudice generated toward Native peoples through biased reporting of history. A library and microfilm archive will be available. The museum states, "The problem with dehumanizing people in order to take their land is, that the next step is to take their lives also. Genocide in the Americas is not an easy subject to address - not for any American." Melendez, pointing out that he is father and grandfather, said, "I want better for my kids and grandkids.
survival-international.org 23 August 2005 e-news from Survival International, supporting tribal peoples worldwide. Founded in 1969, registered charity (UK) no. 267444 Botswana: government launches crackdown on Bushmen The Botswana government has launched a massive crackdown on the Bushmen of the central Kalahari aimed at destroying their way of life: o The government has announced that it is putting guards around the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to blockade the area and stop Bushmen going in. o More Bushmen have been arrested this month for hunting to feed their families. o The Bushmen's lawyers have been barred from entering the reserve to consult with their clients. o The radio authority has refused to renew radio licences to Bushmen in the Reserve who were using community transmitters to contact each other. o Officials have gone so far as to stop the Bushmen's own organisation, First People of the Kalahari, from talking to those in the reserve. o The government is on the point of changing the country's constitution to remove existing protection for the Bushmen. o Selelo Tshiamo, one of several Bushmen severely tortured by officials in June, died earlier this month. o At least 37 Bushmen in just one of the relocation camps now have HIV/AIDS. All this amounts to the most serious assault on Bushman rights since their eviction in 2002. http://www.survival-international.org/appeal.php?id=21 Survival International is a worldwide organisation supporting tribal peoples. It stands for their right to decide their own future and helps them protect their lives, lands and human rights. It receives no government funding and is dependent on donations from the public.
Reuters 13 Aug 2005 Congo survivors want action on Burundi massacre By Patrick Nduwimana GATUMBA, Burundi, Aug 13 (Reuters) - One year after 160 Congolese refugees were killed at a desolate transit camp just inside Burundi, survivors and relatives held a memorial service on Saturday and demanded the killers be brought to justice. Attackers hacked, bludgeoned and burned to death the Banyamulenge Tutsi refugees at the Gatumba transit camp on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. The refugees had come to Burundi to escape warfare in their own country. Witnesses said some were shot, some wounded by grenades and many were slashed with knives and machetes. "What happened on August 13 was a genocide," Binagana Amon, a representative of the Banyamulenge community, said at the memorial ceremony. "One year after the massacre nothing has been done ... We demand that justice be done." About 2,000 people, some visiting from across the border in Congo, sang hymns and recited prayers in memory of the dead. Amon said he wanted to see the United Nations do more to bring to book those responsible for the crime. "We condemn the silence of the United Nations," he said. Burundi's only remaining Hutu rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), claimed responsibility for the massacre. U.N. investigators blamed the FNL and said other groups may also have been involved, and urged the governments of Burundi, Congo and Rwanda to pursue the investigation. In a statement released at the memorial ceremony, the U.N. mission in Burundi urged the government to complete its investigation and to ask others for help, including the International Criminal Court. "In the name of the victims and as part of efforts to end impunity for the killings and massacres that have plagued this region for too many years, we urge the government of Burundi to complete its investigations, issue the report of its findings and bring those responsible to justice," the statement said. Burundi's minister in charge of the displaced and refugees, Francoise Ngendahayo, said the government was committed to bringing the guilty to justice. "We promise one thing, that the truth will be known. Those responsible will be arrested but Burundi cannot do this work alone, we need the collaboration of the DR Congo and the UN," she said.
Burundi peace passes milestone with new president 17 Aug 2005 08:39:41 GMT Source: Reuters Background FACTBOX: Central African Republic CRISIS PROFILE: Can peace take root in war-weary Burundi? CRISIS PROFILE: What’s going on in Congo? MORE By C. Bryson Hull BUJUMBURA, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Burundi's peace efforts pass a milestone on Friday when lawmakers elect a president as part of a plan to end years of bloodletting that cost 300,000 lives and helped to destabilise much of central Africa. Pierre Nkurunziza, head of the former Hutu rebel Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), is assured of victory because he is standing unopposed for election by members of a two-chamber legislature acting as an electoral college. Friday's decision is the last in a series of democratic polls this year designed to end more than a decade of ethnic slaughter between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority that has long held Burundi's levers of power. The FDD dominates the legislature after commanding wins in recent elections for both houses that passed off with little violence. Nkurunziza's FDD campaigned on a platform of ethnic inclusivity and renewed democracy. "It's really an historic day. The other candidates have withdrawn and he certainly is a confirmed winner," said Carolyn McAskie, head of the United Nations Operation in Burundi. "He brings enormous public support, and is the choice of a very high number of the population," she told Reuters. War-weary Burundians embraced the polls in massive numbers after a civil war that began in 1993 and at times fuelled the ethnic turmoil that tore Rwanda apart in its 1994 genocide and plunged eastern Congo into chaos in subsequent years. Though the presidential election is technically the last step in a peace plan signed in Arusha, Tanzania, in 2000, many say the true shift to lasting democratic peace comes in 2010 when Burundians themselves elect the next president. "The bottom line, the message a lot of people there are saying and I would reinforce, is that this is just the first step in the transition," said analyst Jason Stearns of the International Crisis Group think tank. "The real end to the peace process will be in five years." Though large-scale fighting is over in the mountainous tea- and coffee-producing country of 7 million, there is still one Hutu group that attacks the army and civilians sporadically. But so far, Burundi's success is shaping up as an example of African nations solving their own problems, and raising hopes of increased stability in the volatile Great Lakes region. NEW DEMOCRACY The war, a more sustained version of earlier cycles of violence in Burundi's bloody post-independence history, erupted after Tutsi extremists assassinated the first democratically elected Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, in 1993. The crisis in Burundi, however, was overshadowed by the 1994 genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, which shares the same ethnic mix and whose post-independence history is also stained with horrific communal massacres. Nkurunziza, a 41-year-old former university physical education lecturer, faces a host of challenges, not least of which is keeping ethnic and political balance between rival Hutu and Tutsi parties, and reining in hardliners in his own party. The government under the peace plan essentially gives Hutus 60 percent representation and Tutsis 40 percent in the government and legislature, to ensure that most parties feel they have a stake. But risks remain. "If they (the FDD) come in and don't reach out to other parties, there is going to be a lot of resentment," Stearns said. Nkurunziza must also oversee the continuing integration of an army long led by Tutsi hardliners with their former rebel foes. Nkurunziza will be sworn in on Aug. 26 and is due to name two vice presidents then.
IRIN 17 Aug 2005 Rebels spread fighting to northern provinces [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © BUJUMBURA, 17 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The only remaining Burundian Hutu rebel movement, Front National de Libération (FNL), has for the first time since 1993 intensified its attacks, moving its offensives from the traditional strongholds of Bujumbura Rural and Bubanza provinces to other areas in the north of the country. National army spokesman Maj Adolphe Manirakiza said FNL attacked an army position in Matongo and Muruta communes, north Kayanza Province, on Tuesday and looted from several families. The rebels did not kill any civilians but, Manirakiza said, "FNL lost two combatants." FNL fighting was also reported last week in Musigati Commune, Bubanza Province, near the Kibira Forest. The army pounded the rebels with warplanes; a weapon that Manirakiza said was used because it was difficult to penetrate the forest on the ground and not because the rebel force was powerful. "We did not want to take risk," he added. The FNL's lack of strength, Manirakiza said, was evidenced in its reluctance to engage the army in combat. The UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB), which has deployed military observers, would not comment on the current increase in FNL attacks. "ONUB observers are still monitoring the situation on the ground," Maj Adama Diop, the ONUB military spokesman, said on Tuesday. However, he said the FNL could have moved from its traditional strongholds because of pressure by the army. The Burundian government and the palipehutu-FNL had signed a declaration to stop the hostilities and start negotiations, but they have since accused each other of violating the deal.
IRIN 17 Aug 2005 Woman elected speaker of lower house [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] BUJUMBURA, 17 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Burundi's parliament voted on Tuesday to elect Immaculee Nahayo, of the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD) party, as the speaker of the lower chamber of parliament. Nahayo, elected by 107 votes to three, with six abstentions, becomes the first woman in the country’s history to hold the position. She replaces Jean Minani, who chaired the national assembly in the preceding parliament. Following her election, Nahayo urged legislators to return to their respective constituencies to be as close as possible to the people who elected them. "I only want to see you during the national assembly sessions," she said, adding that she wanted to break with the tradition of their predecessors, who were accused of rarely visiting their electorates. During the same session, Burundi's communication minister, CNDD-FDD's Onesime Nduwimana, and justice minister Didace Kiganahe, of Burundi’s' main Hutu party, Front Démocratique du Burundi, were elected first and second vice presidents of the national assembly respectively. Senators also met on Tuesday to elect the speaker of the upper chamber, but a new amendment brought to the senate internal regulations that forced the house to postpone the election till Wednesday, as the rules had to be sent to the constitutional court for endorsement. Parliamentarians and senators will on Friday elect the only presidential candidate, CNDD-FDD's Pierre Nkurunziza, as the central African country's first post-transition president.
IRIN 19 Aug 2005 Parliament elects Nkurunziza nation's president [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN President-elect Pierre Nkurunziza. BUJUMBURA, 19 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Burundi's parliament voted 151 to 9 on Friday, electing Pierre Nkurunziza as the country's first post-transitional president. There was one abstention, state radio reported. Nkurunziza, 40, won 91.52 percent of the votes cast by a joint congress of the National Assembly and the Senate, the two houses of parliament. Running on the ticket of the Conseil pour la defense de la democratie-Force pour la defense de la democratie, Nkurunziza was the sole presidential candidate. He required two-thirds of the vote, corresponding to 108 ballots, to win in the first round. Announcing these results, the president of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Paul Ngarambe, said the results must go to the Constitutional Court for endorsement. Under the 2002 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi, the legislature was to choose the country's first post-transitional president. Thereafter, the electorate will vote. Nkurunziza became leader of his party in 2001 when it was still a rebel movement. The CNDD-FDD became a legitimate political party in May 2005. Shifting from rebel leader to statesman, Nkurunziza then became minister of state in charge of good governance and inspection of the state, a post he occupied until a few hours ago.
Crisis Group 25 Aug 2005 Elections in Burundi: A Radical Shake-up of the Political Landscape Burundi's general elections are a welcome step toward a lasting peace, but the political sea change also brings significant risks. Some of the dangers now facing Burundi appeared during the election period itself. The polls have left key political figures with uncertain futures, and for the first time since independence, the Hutu-Tutsi interethnic conflict has been eclipsed by a violent power struggle between two traditionally Hutu parties, the CNDD-FDD, the poll's victors, and FRODEBU, the former governing party, which was a major loser. Most Tutsis in power now belong to traditionally Hutu parties, but it is crucial that the CNDD-FDD preserve the spirit of the Arusha Agreement by also involving the main Tutsi parties in the administration. All parties must also focus on resolving the ongoing war with PALIPEHUTU-FNL. Crisis Group reports and briefing papers are available on our website: www.crisisgroup.org
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BBC 29 Aug 2005 DR Congo rebel threatens invasion Nkunda accuses President Kabila of being dictatorial Renegade Congolese rebel leader Gen Laurent Nkunda has threatened to re-invade eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to bring "peace" to the area. In June last year he jeopardised DR Congo's shaky peace process when he briefly seized the town of Bukavu. In a 17-page letter, extracts of which were published in the Congolese newspaper Le Potentiel, he accused the government of promoting ethnic hatred. Meanwhile, the army has confirmed some of its men in the east have defected. Correspondents in the area say an estimated 1,000 soldiers, who speak Kinyarwanda - the language spoken by the ethnic Banyamulenge whom Gen Nkunda claims to be fighting for - have gathered in Masisi, North Kivu province. Gen Nkunda said he invaded Bukavu last year to protect the Banyamulenge from being targeted and killed by the Congolese army, but the UN dismissed his claims that he was preventing a genocide. 'Not serious' In his letter, seen by the BBC, Gen Nkunda said the transitional administration of President Joseph Kabila was corrupt and intent on promoting instability in the east. Profile: The 'Bukavu bully' He said the decision to stop more than 200,000 Congolese refugees living in neighbouring countries from returning home to Kivu to participate in the elections showed President Kabila's unwillingness to foster peace. Elections were due before the end of June under the terms of the 2002 peace deal, but MPs have backed a six-month delay. According to the BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa, the United Nations refugee agency has said it is not logistically feasible to organise the return of the refugees before the completion of the electoral registration process. The UN mission in DR Congo has received a copy of the letter, but could not authenticate it, our correspondent says. Given up Gen Nkunda belonged to the Rwandan-backed RCD rebel group which fought the Kinshasa government in a five-year civil war Under the peace deal, former rebel groups were supposed to be integrated into the new national army. At the time of Bukavu's capture, President Kabila accused Rwanda of being behind the attack, but this was denied by Rwanda. His ally, Col Jules Mutebutsi, has officially been granted refugee status in Rwanda after he and his men declared in writing that they had given up his armed struggle. The Banyamulenge are ethnic Tutsis, who have lived in DR Congo for several generations but who retain ties to Rwanda. An estimated three million people in DR Congo were killed during the five-year civil war, which drew in several neighbouring countries.
Background: BBC 8 Jun 2004 Profile: General Laurent Nkunda By Robert Walker BBC, Bukavu Laurent Nkunda studied psychology at university The rebel commander who took over the town of Bukavu in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo sees himself as a guardian of the peace. The general says he went to Bukavu to protect civilians, in particular the Banyamulenge ethnic group, who he claims were being attacked. The Banyamulenge are Congolese Tutsis most of whom arrived in the country from Rwanda more than a century ago. General Nkunda is himself a Tutsi, born in Congo's North Kivu province, close to Rwanda. It is true that here have been some attacks on Banyamulenge, but not to the extent the general claims. Most people in Bukavu say these started after General Nkunda and his ally Colonel Jules Mutebusi started fighting with the Congolese army at the end of May. According to many people on the streets of Bukavu, it was all a pretext - his real objective was not the protection of the Banyamulenge - it was power. Career soldier Laurent Nkunda studied psychology at university, even today the gaunt 37-year-old looks studious with glasses perched on the end of his nose. But for the past 11 years he has been a soldier. He fought with the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the rebel movement formed by Rwandan Tutsi exiles, which took control of Rwanda in 1994, ending the genocide. After that Laurent Nkunda returned home to join Rwanda's adventures in DR Congo. He was a commander in the Rwandan-backed Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) - the main rebel group which controlled most of eastern Congo during the five-year civil war. He was accused of committing atrocities in 2002 as a commander in the diamond-rich town of Kisangani. Following orders After the RCD joined the transitional government last year it looked like General Nkunda would have a chance to spend more time with his wife and four children. However, last month the general took up his arms again, putting the peace process in a precarious position. He is one of the former RCD commanders who have refused to report to Kinshasa under the new integrated army. Some accuse him of still following orders from Kigali, however he says that although the Rwandans are his allies, they did not tell him to capture Bukavu. Now that the general has dropped his key demands and admitted that the extent of attacks against the Banyamulenge were exaggerated, he says he is going back north to the town of Goma. Perhaps he will now concentrate on managing his three farms and 800 cattle. But many suspect General Nkunda may not have fought his last battle. DR Congo's civilians may have more to fear.
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AP 17 July 2005 Congo Officials Cleared in Refugee Case By LOUIS OKAMBA Associated Press Writer August 17, 2005, 10:09 PM EDT BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo -- Top Republic of Congo officials were acquitted Wednesday of genocide and war crimes charges stemming from the disappearance of 350 refugees who had returned home during a cease-fire in the country's civil war. A jury also found the 15 defendants not guilty of crimes against humanity, false arrest and arbitrary detention, according to the decision read by criminal court President Charles Apesse. "The court pronounces their acquittal, pure and simple," he said. Many of the defendants, including 13 top- and midlevel security force officers, were expected to regain their posts after being suspended during the weekslong trial that was broadcast across the Central African nation and was part of the country's attempts at long-term national reconciliation. Their families say the refugees were last seen on a Congo River landing known as "Le Beach," where they were met by security forces. The 353 refugees disappeared in May 1999 after returning to Republic of Congo during a cease-fire that followed unrest in 1998-1999. Relatives of the missing have accused members of the government of involvement in the disappearance. None of the refugees has been found. Many of the defendants still hold high positions in the country's security forces, including Gen. Norbert Dabira, the armed forces' inspector-general. The verdict shed no light on the missing refugees' whereabouts, only ruling that the defendants were not culpable in their disappearance. Victims' families had no immediate comment. The government of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso said the verdict had been reached in "all independence, in transparency and fairness."
VOA News 17 Aug 2005 Congolese Court Acquits All Defendants in Refugee Massacre Case A court in the Republic of Congo has acquitted all 15 defendants of genocide charges in connection with the massacre of more than 300 Congolese refugees in 1999. A jury Wednesday also found the defendants, most of whom were top security officials and military officers, not guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The 353 refugees disappeared in 1999 after returning from exile in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. They were last seen in a riverfront area of the capital, Brazzaville, known as "the beach," where they had been arrested by security forces on suspicion of backing an anti-government militia. Relatives and human rights groups say the victims were tortured and executed. Their bodies were never found. "
IRIN 18 Aug 2005 Court acquits top army, police officers of mass murder [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] BRAZZAVILLE, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The Criminal Court of Brazzaville cleared 15 high ranking army and police officers on Wednesday of killing 353 refugees who returned home to the Republic of Congo (ROC) in 1999. "The defendants were not individually responsible for committing war crimes, genocide or crimes against humanity," Charles Emile Apesse, president of the court, said in Brazzaville, referring to the charges against the defendants. Most prominent among the defendants were the inspector general of the armed forces, Gen Norbert Dabira; the commander of the Brazzaville Military Region,Gen Blaise Adoua; and the director general of police, Jean François Ndenguet. The returning refugees had fled to neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998 to escape their own country's civil war. On their arrival at Brazzaville's river port known as "Le Beach" in 1999, they were arrested on suspicion of being supporters of a local militia known as the Ninjas. They were never seen in public again. Wednesday's acquittals angered relatives of the missing who accused unnamed government officials of involvement in the disappearance. "It's a conspiracy. It's a pity. We are disappointed," Vincent Niamankessi, the president of the committee representing the families of the missing refugees, told AFP. The court said the state had accepted "civil responsibility" for the facts for which the defendants were accused, and ordered the government to pay each plaintiff 10 million francs CFA (US $18,500) in compensation for each of missing relative. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had asked for 100 million francs ($185,000) for each missing person..
IRIN 15 Aug 2005 Blue helmets thwarted by angry crowds, Kofi Annan speaks out [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN UN peacekeepers are facing hostility DAKAR, 15 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Hostile mobs continue to block the movement of United Nations peacekeepers and other UN officials in Cote d’Ivoire, spurring Secretary General Kofi Annan over the weekend to urge Ivorians to back off. In only the latest in a string of incidents, menacing crowds in Gagnoa – a city in the government-controlled southwest of Cote d’Ivoire – last week blocked UN civilian workers as well as military observers trying to enter the town. The incidents came just after President Laurent Gbagbo called on the population to allow the UN operation in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI) to carry out its work unimpeded. In his daily briefing on Friday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said he welcomed Gbagbo’s declaration but “regrets that ONUCI still does not enjoy the full freedom of movement required to effectively carry out its mandate.” ONUCI peacekeepers are in the country to monitor a ceasefire between government forces and rebels and help with a programme of disarmament following a failed coup in September 2002 that left the country divided between a government controlled south and rebel-held north. But the peace process has repeatedly stumbled and deadlines have been missed, raising doubts about whether this one-time oasis of stability and prosperity in West Africa will be able to hold presidential elections on October 30 as scheduled and escape a devastating cycle of conflict. On Thursday crowds ransacked the vehicle of unarmed ONUCI military observers, who were forced to take refuge in a local government office until UN peacekeeping troops could rescue them, ONUCI spokesperson Hamadoun Toure told IRIN on Monday from the commercial capital, Abidjan. This was a day after angry crowds blocked two UN civilian legal experts from entering Gagnoa, Gbagbo’s birthplace and historically a stronghold of the ruling Ivorian Popular Front, about 270 kilometres from Abidjan. The pro-Gbagbo militia, the Young Patriots are believed to be behind the attack, according to diplomats. The militants have harassed both the UN and French peacekeepers, accusing them of siding with the rebels. Toure said people in the crowds flung insults at the UN workers and cried, “ONUCI, get out.” The UN workers were there at the request of local authorities, Toure said. It is not clear whether the uprisings are spontaneous or planned, he said, adding, “The important thing is that they stop.” Toure said he was not aware of anyone in the mobs being armed. However it is not only hostile civilians but also government armed forces who have attempted to hamper ONUCI’s movements, Toure said. In one case, after an attack by armed men in the Abidjan suburb of Anyama and Agboville, about 80 kilometres from the commercial capital, government forces and civilians blocked UN peacekeepers from entering Agboville for an investigation. Renald Boismoreau, ONUCI military spokesperson told IRIN that while the incidents are a concern they have not widely hampered ONUCI forces’ work. Toure said despite the most recent incidents coming after Gbagbo’s appeal, the UN hopes would-be protesters will heed the president’s call. “We hope that everyone has now received the message and that everyone will respect it,” he said. He said the citizens who would continue to block UN officials from carrying out their work are only hurting themselves. The UN is in Cote d’Ivoire to help accelerate an end to the conflict, Toure said. “It is their country they are penalising. It’s the resolution of this crisis they are blocking."
BBC 26 Aug 2005 Ivory Coast rebels reject polls The rebel statement raised fears of a return to war Rebels who control the north of Ivory Coast say they will not accept the elections intended to restore peace and stability, scheduled for 30 October. The New Forces say it is impossible to hold free and fair elections within two months, and insist that President Laurent Gbagbo step down. They refuse to disarm until pro-Gbagbo militias also lay down their weapons. Ivory Coast, once West Africa's richest country, has been divided in two for three years. The UN recently repeated its threat to impose sanctions on those who are blocking the peace process. War fears The BBC's James Copnall in the main city, Abidjan, says the New Forces' statement means they are now saying out loud what they - and the unarmed political opposition - have been saying privately for some time. Just two months before the elections are due, the electoral roll has still not been drawn up. In the statement, which followed six days of discussions in the rebel stronghold of Bouake, they warned they would "take their responsibilities" if Mr Gbagbo was still in power in November. Our correspondent says the statement reinforces fears about what may happen if the elections are not held on time. The last major outbreak of fighting was last November, when the Ivorian air force bombed Bouake. The rebels also hit out at the mediator for the Ivory Coast conflict, South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki, saying he favoured Mr Gbagbo. Mr Mbeki has approved Mr Gbagbo's legal reforms, which the rebels say do not go far enough to redress alleged prejudice against northerners - one of the key factors behind the rebellion. A spokesman for Mr Gbagbo told the BBC his side had no reaction until after Mr Mbeki presented a report to the UN Security Council at the end of this month.
BBC 27 Aug 2005 Ethiopia blames EU for protests Ethiopian students staged protests after the May election The Ethiopian government has accused EU observers of contributing to post-election violence during which about 40 people died. It said the EU mission "illegally and secretly leaked information" to the opposition, prompting protests in June. The statement was issued days after an EU report said the 15 May polls failed to meet international standards. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's coalition retained its majority but opposition parties gained many seats. 'Mistakes' The statement says the "leaked information" gave opposition supporters the confidence to take to the streets to protest against the elections. "The mission, against the regulations of its tasks as an observer, illegally and secretly leaked unfounded information to the opposition which gave them confidence wrongly so as to lead them to violence in the streets," the government statement said. It added the EU mission's report released this week criticising the election process was "intended simply to cover its mistakes". The government believes the EU told the opposition long before the results had been officially released that it had won the polls, says the BBC's Grant Ferrett. He says EU officials have dismissed the allegations, noting that they were made soon after the release of their critical report. Several days of violence followed the parliamentary elections and around 40 people were killed when police fired on protesters.
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) : 18 Aug 2005Helping those affected by massacre Schoolchildren writing in class at Undugu Society School, Mathare Valley, Kenya Emergency supplies provided by Diocese of Marsabit for thousands left homeless by ongoing feud in northern Kenya CAFOD is helping to assess the needs of those forced to flee their homes in northern Kenya, following the massacre of more than 100 people last month. Our partner the Diocese of Marsabit requested assistance for up to 450 displaced families (around 2,700 people in total) with basic food and non-food items such as cooking pots, utensils, jerry-cans, buckets and hygiene kits. A grant of £28,000 has been sent to the Diocese to purchase and distribute these items. In addition, CAFOD staff are helping the Diocese to conduct a more systematic assessment of the scale of need of those displaced, and to make recommendations as to what the long-term response to the emergency should be. Around 76 people, 22 of them children, were killed in the village of Turbi when hundreds of armed men surrounded the local primary school and nearby houses and opened fire as children were making their way to school on July 12. Since then, dozens more have also been murdered in what appears to be a series of revenge attacks. Long-term fighting The massacre was fuelled by an ongoing feud between the Borana and Gabra communities, which is mainly based on disputes over access to water and pastures. But these attacks are considered to be the most brutal in the country's post-colonial era. As well as all the deaths, many were injured and CAFOD fears a total of up to 40,000 people may have been displaced by the fighting. Peter McGeachie, of the CAFOD Nairobi office, says: "Additional police and security forces have been sent to the area in pursuit of those responsible for the violence and to try and restore calm. "Although the situation remains tense and there are fears of further attacks and reprisals, at least the killing has stopped." In another incident at the same time as the attacks, a Roman Catholic bishop was also shot dead in northern Kenya. Bishop Luigi Locati was killed as he walked to a pastoral centre in the town of Isiolo where he worked. However, it is believed this incident is unrelated to the massacre.
BBC 19 Aug 2005 Priest charged over bishop death Bishop Locati was shot by three gunmen Six men, including a Catholic priest, have pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering an Italian bishop in Kenya. Bishop Luigi Locati was shot dead in July in the town of Isiolo. He had spent most of his working life in Kenya and thousands of people - including Kenyan leader Mwai Kibaki and Vatican envoys - attended his funeral. After initially linking his death to an ethnic feud, police now allege Bishop Locati was killed in a struggle for control of church funds. Reverend Guyo Waqo Male appeared in court in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, along with five other men to face charges of killing the 77-year-old bishop. The AFP news agency says they could face the death penalty if convicted - though Kenya has not executed anyone since 1987. Bishop Locati's death coincided with a massacre in northern Kenya, attributed to an ethnic feud, and police initially suspected the two crimes could be linked. Isiolo has the same ethnic mix as the northern Kenyan region where 76 people - 22 of them children - were killed in July.
Capital FM - Nairobi,Kenya 22 Aug 2005 www.capitalfm.co.ke Mwenje blames laxity for Rwanda killings - Mon, August 22, 2005 Embakasi MP David Mwenje says Kenya had the capacity to stop the Rwanda genocide in 1993 but did not. Speaking at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport where a group of 25 MPS and officials of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights were leaving for Rwanda, Mwenje said Kenya's intervention in Somalia and Southern Sudan also came late. Mandera Central MP, Billow Kerrow says Kenya is lucky not to have suffered from external aggression but it has had to deal with a lot of internal conflicts. Kerrow says MPs and journalists on the trip will learn early detection signs of conflicts and how to deal with post conflict situations. Human Rights Commission Chairman, Maina Kiai says the journalists, MPs and human rights officials on the trip will later become peace makers in areas where there've been ethnic flare ups.
The Nation (Nairobi) 28 Aug 2005 EDITORIALThe Scourge of Ethnic Hatred Nairobi More than 10 years after the Rwanda genocide, the slaughter of nearly a million people in just 100 days remains a chilling reminder to the world of the grave danger lurking behind inflamed ethnicity. Rwanda, like its neighbour, Burundi, has been ravaged by decades of ethnic violence pitting the majority Hutu against the minority Tutsi. In 1994, some 800,000 Tutsis and a few moderate Hutus perished at the hands of militia gangs backed by the military in an orgy of violence that will forever be one of the grimmest moments of this continent's history. But the most impressive thing in Rwanda has been a sustained campaign of national reconciliation. Rwanda may not have completely solved the problem of ethnic animosity and hatred, but the leadership has been credited with making useful moves towards this end. In Burundi, a democratically elected leader from the majority Hutu has just been installed as President. And the ethnic question is one which he is going to have to deal with immediately as he attempts to forge unity and restore peace in a country ravaged by 12 years of civil war. It is, therefore, noteworthy that some 22 Kenyan MPs have just returned from a visit to Rwanda, where they were able to experience, assess and learn from survivors, and skeletons at various memorial sites, the consequences of ethnic hate. That visit could not have come at a better time to drive a useful and lasting lesson into the minds of leaders, some of whom only excel at wrangles, name-calling and base politics. In northern Kenya, the security machinery continues to grapple with flare-ups between communities competing for water points and grazing lands. But we are also familiar with the politically motivated tribal clashes that have often preceded national elections. As we approach the referendum on the Draft Constitution, it's important that we encourage campaigns for either the Yes or No vote that are devoid of incitement. People should take a stand based on the issues at hand and not their ethnic or religious backgrounds. Let's see sober, well-reasoned and informed debate and not the blind ethnic force, whose consequences are so vividly evident in the sad stories of Rwanda and Burundi.
The Nation (Nairobi) 28 Aug 2005Shock Therapy for Kenyan MPs At the Genocide Graves By Cyrus Kinyungu Nairobi The devil naturally takes the blame for all evil. But in Rwanda, word has it that after he viewed the preserved skeletons of hundreds of children, women and men at the Murambi Memorial Site, he too shied away from taking responsibility. The site, locals say, was too shocking for Satan to believe that he actually did it. It is for this reason that 22 Kenyan MPs, journalists and officials of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights were eager to visit the site that scared away even the devil. The rights watchdog, which organised the tour, hoped it would transform the leaders into peace makers and help fight war-mongering. After a tiring but interesting two-and-a-half-hour drive from Kigali City, the leaders arrived at the historic Murambi Genocide Memorial Centre. At the site, the smell of death literally hangs in the air. A mild stench of embalmed bodies leaks from the rooms. The ceremony to lay the wreath in honour of the close to 50,000 people massacred at the ground was a short one. But everybody was getting impatient, waiting to see the inhumanity caused by ethnic differences between the Hutus and Tutsis in the small Eastern African country. So when the MPs started filing into the rooms where the skeletons are preserved, they expected nothing scary. At least some of them have seen a few dead bodies during tribal skirmishes Kenya. Human skeletons Inside the rooms, are white human skeletons on wooden tables. They include those of women killed while still holding their children tightly. Some have fractured skulls, crushed with machetes and batons. On one of the table lies the skeleton of a child in the midst of adults, his arm raised to cover his face from a blow to his head. However, both the hand and the skull are crushed. "The child must have been killed with a machete as he tried to block with his hands a blow into his head," explains a curator at the museum. In another room, there is a skeleton of a man, coiled with its head close to the groin and both hands close to the head. The back is arched, with a fracture. "He must have been trying to protect his head from being hit when his back was broken," the curator explains again. There are many more skeletons, some without limbs, others with broken skulls. All show signs of agony even in death, driving the MPs into deeper shock. And hurriedly some of them walk out of the room to reflect on what they have just seen. "I don't want to see more of this. It is shocking enough and it will surely haunt me for long," one is overheard telling his colleague. "Why did they have to bring us to see this? This is really tormenting," says another legislator. "It wasn't as bad in Marsabit (massacre) as it was here. Marsabit was far much better)," an MP tells Saku MP Abdi Sasura, who is attempting to put up a brave face to visit all the rooms. Internal Security assistant Minister Mirugi Kariuki, is no less shocked as he views the bones. But as the leader of the delegation forced, he went to all the rooms where some of his colleagues declined to enter some. Commission chairman Maina Kiai unsuccessfully tried to persuade them to tour every room. "You have come here to see that we as leaders need to be very careful with our words. This was all incited by leaders' words. Words can kill and they can kill millions," says Justice assistant minister Njeru Githae. As he says this, a pensive Mr Nick Salat stands at the door of a room, staring blankly at the skeletons. Makadara MP Reuben Ndolo's courage fails him, too. "Greed among leaders is a source of all evil," he says, shaking his head in disbelief. "All ministers, MPs and even the President need to come here to see what we have seen." Mwea MP Alfred Nderitu says in a hushed tone: "All MPs and politicians should be brought here to be shown the need to stop ethnic talk in our own country." says His Ndaragwa counterpart Muchiri Gachara agrees. "We must forget where we were born and where we came from and live cohesively," he says. At Murambi in South Rwanda over 40,000 people perished on a single place within 48 hours in April 1994. Survivors who returned to the site preserved some of the bodies in lime. The bodies were exhumed from the mass graves where they had been interred. Murambi Memorial Centre was not the last of the genocide reminders that the MPs were to visit. Mass graves A day later, the team visited the Kigali Memorial Centre where over 250,000 bodies are buried in a mass grave. The bodies here were exhumed from mass graves around Kigali and interred again At the site, a major tourist attraction in the country, visitors are taught about the bitter history of the country that led to the genocide. The role of hate media in the incitement to genocide is on the spotlight. Colonialists who divided the country's people into two social classes - the Hutus and Tutsis by looking at their physical features and measuring their height and noses - also take the blame. The Kenyan leaders learnt that that there is only one community in Rwanda, who speaks Kinyarwanda language. But they fought amongst themselves owing to the divisions along social lines. Political leaders, who dehumanised one group by calling it cockroaches and urging other to kill them, incited the genocide. After the lessons, the MPs were shown shocking video clips of children with big and fresh wounds in their heads. Others lay in pain after they were attacked by their fellow citizens. They also watched scenes of hundreds of people killed and their bodies dumped in rivers. The river waters carried the bodies to unknown destinations. Inside a dark room, skulls exhumed from different parts of Kigali are placed in dimly lit glass compartments. As one looks at the skulls, a faint sound from the dark rooftop calls out the names of the dead, giving the impression that one is in hell. Only a few MPs got the courage to venture into the room after the previous day's experience. Later, the delegation travelled to President Kagame's Urugwiro Village office. President Paul Kagame challenged Kenyan leaders to harness their ethnic diversity and use it for the benefit of their citizens. And when the trip was over, many of the Kenyan MPs spoke peace as well. "I don't know whether I have graduated into a peace maker but I have known that there is no reason whatsoever why people should kill each other," said Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang. Kuresoi MP Moses Cheboi called for a new beginning. Others on the tour were Mrs Jane Kihara (Naivasha), Mr Kalembe Ndile (Kibwezi), Mr Yusuf Haji (Ijara), Mr Samuel Moroto (Kapenguria), Mr Katoo ole Metito (Kajiado South),and Mr Isaak Shabaan (Mandera East). Also present were Mr Kiema Kilonzo (Mutito), Mr Raphael Wanjala (Budalangi), Mr Omingo Magara (South Mugirango), Mr Peter Munya (Tigania East), Mr John Munyes (Turkana North) and Embakasi's David Mwenje.
15 August 2005, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK E-mail this to a friend Printable version Liberia gears up for peace poll Liberian hope the candidates can remain peaceful Campaigning has started for Liberia's first general elections since the end of a 14-year civil war. Small groups of activists carrying photographs of the rival candidates braved the wet weather in the capital. Among the best-known candidates in the October poll are ex-footballer George Weah, rebel leader Sekou Conneh and economist Ellen Sirleaf Johnson. Some 15,000 UN peacekeepers are in Liberia, tasked with ensuring stability in the volatile country. Voters will be asked to choose a successor to transitional President Gyude Bryant, who took office in October 2003, succeeding Charles Taylor. 'Smooth sailing' On Friday, the election commission threw out a challenge to Mr Weah's candidature, based on allegations that he had taken French citizenship while playing in France. Mr Weah, 38, who is considered one of the favourites in the presidential race, welcomed the decision. They told us that they were going to take us home to vote there - we will not vote here J Sirleaf Masah Displaced person The election commission has published a list of 22 candidates cleared to run in the 11 October poll. Six of the original 28 applicants were rejected. National Elections Commission Chairperson Frances Johnson-Morris denied that there were too many candidates. "There are so many people who had wanted to participate in our past electoral processes and maybe they did not get the chance; this is a time that everyone has the opportunity," she said. "We are going well, I think this process is sailing smoothly." Mr Taylor - wanted by the UN-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone - has been accused of trying to manipulate the election from the Nigerian town of Calabar, where he lives in exile. One of his former ministers, Roland Massaquoi, is a candidate. However, some of the 500,000 people displaced during the war have not yet been repatriated. One group outside the capital, Monrovia, said they would refuse to vote unless they had been sent home. "They told us that they were going to take us home to vote there; we will not vote here, if they bring their ballot boxes, we will simply watch them," said J Sirleaf Masah in the New Land Displaced People's Camp. In concurrent legislative elections 206 candidates are fighting for 30 senate seats, and the 64 lower house seats are being contested by 503 hopefuls.
WP 23 Aug 2005; Page A11 Nigeria Admits to Torture, Killing of Criminal Suspects LAGOS, Nigeria -- Nigeria's president has acknowledged that police often torture and kill criminal suspects, according to an international human rights group, which urged him Monday to end such abuses. In a surprising departure from official denials, President Olusegun Obasanjo confirmed the abuses in a message last week to a human rights forum in Nigeria, according to local media and the New York-based Human Rights Watch, which detailed alleged abuses in a recent report. A wildfire rages around a French firefighter in a forest near the village of Boulternere, near Perpignan, in southern France. (By Georges Bartoli -- Reuters) Obasanjo said police violations "ranged from extra-judicial killings to torture and unlawful detention," according to press reports. He singled out an incident in June in which policemen in the capital, Abuja, allegedly killed six people returning from a night outing after branding them armed robbers. "Obasanjo's recognition of human rights abuses by the police is an important first step," Peter Takirambudde, executive director of the African division at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "It is essential that his words are followed by concrete steps to end police abuses."
Dallaire and Foreign Authors on Genocide to Discuss Rwanda The New Times (Kigali) NEWS August 12, 2005 Posted to the web August 12, 2005 By Nasra Bishumba Kigali General Romeo Dallaire, who headed the UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda at the time of the Genocide in 1994 will at the end of the month be joined by French journalist Jean Hatzfeld, who covered the Genocide and both will discuss their experiences and the 100 days of the Genocide, 11 years ago. Dallaire is the author of Shake Hands with the devil: A failure of humanity in Rwanda, while Hatzfeld wrote Into the quick of life and the newly published Machete Season. In Machete Season, Hatzfeld reports on the results of his interviews with nine of the Hutu killers. They were all friends who came from a single region where they helped to kill 50,000 out of their 59,000 Tutsi neighbours, and all of them are now in prison, some awaiting execution. It is usually presumed that killers will not tell the truth about their brutal actions, but Hatzfeld elicited extraordinary testimonies from these men about their role in the Genocide. He rightly sees that their account raises as many questions as it answers. The event will be chaired by Linda Melvern, an investigative journalist and world expert on the Rwandan Genocide, who has published two books on this issue; A people betrayed and Conspiracy to Murder. This event is in association with Survivors Fund, a charitable organisation based in the United Kingdom, which has offices in Kigali and is dedicated to aiding and assisting the survivors of the Rwandan Genocide.
AP 21 Aug 2005 Cheadle Visits 'Hotel Rwanda' for 1st Time By RYAN PEARSON The Associated Press Sunday, August 21, 2005; 2:18 PM LOS ANGELES -- Don Cheadle has finally visited "Hotel Rwanda." The 40-year-old actor toured the Hotel des Milles Collines in Rwanda's capital Kigali last month, speaking with several of the more than 1,000 people who were sheltered there during the country's 1994 genocide by manager Paul Rusesabagina, the character portrayed by Cheadle in the film. "All of their experiences were the stuff of epic films _ things they had to go through in those 100 days," Cheadle told The Associated Press in an interview this week. "It was amazing." Cheadle, who earned an Oscar nomination for "Hotel Rwanda," had never seen the hotel because last year's film was shot primarily in South Africa. Through the movie, however, he developed a new passion for the vast continent. "I felt drawn to that area, and felt drawn in any way I can to bringing attention to the place, and any way that I can," he said. During his 2 1/2-week visit in late July, he met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, attended the premiere of "Hotel Rwanda" in Uganda and toured displaced-person camps in the country's northern provinces. More than 1.5 million Ugandans have fled their homes to avoid a campaign of murder, rape and abduction waged by rebel group Lord's Resistance Army. Cheadle met with young girls who said they were taken as wives by rebel soldiers. "That was amazing, to hear these stories of these kids and what they had been forced to do, and trying to imagine ... I don't have that frame of reference," he said. Cheadle said he's writing a book with John Prendergast of the nonprofit International Crisis Group about how individual Americans can respond to Africa's problems. "It's really talking about my path out of apathy, and what people can do who are having the same questions and feelings," he said. "I had the same concerns and skepticism about sending aid to some shadowy situation where I didn't know if a warlord was going to get the money." The actor said he was struck by many Africans' sense of hope. "They believed there was an opportunity for things to get better, which was surprising," he said. "I think that's what's actually going to sustain them."
washingtonpost.com 21 Aug 2005 Ordinary Men Farmers in a desolate corner of Rwanda tell how they slaughtered their neighbors. Reviewed by Alison Des Forges Sunday, August 21, 2005; BW03 MACHETE SEASON The Killers in Rwanda Speak By Jean Hatzfeld Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale Farrar Straus Giroux. 253 pp. $24 In 1994, shortly after the genocide of Rwanda's Tutsi minority ended, I went to the small brick church at Ntarama, a desolate patch in the southeastern corner of the country. Leaving the glare of the noonday sun for the dim of the sanctuary, I smelled the bodies before I saw them. As my eyes adjusted to the gloom, I could make out the twisted and broken remains of babies, children, women and men in the aisles, at the foot of the altar, on and under the simple wooden benches that served as pews. Some of the Ntarama murderers have now talked about their crimes to the French journalist Jean Hatzfeld, who has recorded their words in the harrowing pages of Machete Season . Fulgence Bunani, a farmer and volunteer deacon in the Catholic church, was 33 at the time of the genocide; Pancrace Hakizamungili, another farmer, was 25. Neither had ever killed before. They recall their victims screaming as they and other killers struck out blindly in the crowded Ntarama church. Fulgence began by cracking "an old mama's skull with a club," then began striking "without seeing who it was, taking pot luck with the crowd." Pancrace remembers "a mixture of blows and cries coming in a tangle from everyone." Alphonse Hitiyaremye, then 39 and a father of four, was one of those who returned to the church the next day to finish the "work," as the genocide was called; he helped locate those still breathing among the corpses. He and others yelled, sneered and insulted their victims, he says, as they worked "to finish off everyone conscientiously." Hatzfeld has previously published accounts of Tutsi civilians who survived the genocide by hiding in swamps near Ntarama. In this book, he presents the words of 10 ordinary Hutu people from the same region (most of them farmers) detailing how they took up machetes to slaughter other ordinary people who happened to be Tutsi -- people with whom they had sung in the church choir and played on the local soccer team. As this book makes clear, Rwanda's genocide was marked both by its intimacy (the killers used machetes and guns, not gas chambers) and its speed (at least 500,000 deaths in about 100 days). The jailed and confessed killers who tell their stories here had known each other before the genocide -- some were neighbors and drinking buddies -- and had "worked" together during the "machete season." Hatzfeld had a hard time persuading them to talk but had no problem getting access to them from the prison authorities, who were eager to increase foreign awareness of the genocide. The killers spent many days discussing their crimes with Hatzfeld under an acacia tree in a garden adjoining the prison. He has grouped their remarks into short thematic chapters, creating an illusion of a conversation between speakers, each of whom is identified by first name. The reader is drawn in, in effect eavesdropping on a casual chat among killers. The murderers discuss everything from the first time they killed to how they joked about raping and murdering Tutsi women to how they enjoyed feasting on pillaged cattle and other food. (Some even tasted candy for the first time.) They remark that sex with their wives was hot and relations with their children undisturbed during the time of the slaughter. The language throughout is as shocking as the subject matter. "Rule number one was to kill," one says. "There was no rule number two." Another compares killing a person to killing a goat: a whack on the head, and either goes down. Readers who can get beyond their (justified) initial horror will find a wealth of detail here about the genocide, including the part played by government authorities and the Interahamwe militia, the importance of economic motivations (particularly the hope of acquiring land, ever scarce in this densely populated country), the impetus provided by anti-Tutsi hate radio broadcasts, the role of the local bar as a gathering place after the day's "work" and the social status bestowed by owning a firearm. Hatzfeld's book does not pretend to be a scholarly account of the genocide; it is limited in scope and marred by numerous errors (there were no massacres in the region in 1973; prisoners released in 2003 had confessed but had not been convicted; youngsters caught up in the slaughter were freed because Rwandan law doesn't recognize criminal responsibility for those under 14 years of age, not because they were amnestied). But its grassroots view of the genocide enriches and completes other, more formal accounts. Above all, Hatzfeld's presentation highlights the individuality of each killer: the bully, the hypocrite, the older ideologue, the naive youngster. By the end of the book, we feel we know Fulgence, Pancrace and the others -- a familiarity underscored by the use of their real names, by the brief biographies provided at the end and by a group photo. Such familiarity is disturbing. As the distance between them and us decreases, we begin to wonder if we, too, could become killers in circumstances like theirs. Hatzfeld dismisses such speculation, "not so much because we cannot get inside the skin of bean farmers on a hill in Rwanda, but because we cannot imagine being born and growing up under such a despotic, ethnocentric regime." Although he refuses to imagine himself in the genocidaires' place -- perhaps because he identifies so closely with the survivors -- Hatzfeld does give the killers a chance to describe their sense of guilt and the strangeness of finding themselves involved in such heinous crimes. He accepts that most in the group had no quarrels with their victims and underlines how reluctant they were to express hatred of the Tutsi. He acknowledges that some Hutu even died to save Tutsi but insists that no one was at imminent risk of death for refusing to kill. He simply presents these contradictions and leaves them unresolved, just as he leaves unanswered the ultimate question of why these men killed. Hatzfeld recounts that when several of the killers started describing the slaughter of Tutsi as a battle, he cut them off brusquely, insisting that he knew the real truth. Of course, the genocide was no battle; but it did take place during a war, with the Hutu-dominated Rwandan authorities insisting that all Tutsi -- members of the same ethnic group as the guerrilla force then attacking the government in Kigali -- were the enemy. By refusing to hear this part of the truth, Hatzfeld minimizes the wartime context of the genocide and maximizes the guilt of the bean farmers. He also hinders our understanding of the murderers' motivations. In the final reckoning, this imperfect but devastating book tells us more about the how of genocide than the why. It lets us listen to the bean farmers but tells us too little about their fears to make us understand why these ordinary people committed extraordinary crimes. · Alison Des Forges is a senior advisor to the Africa division of Human Rights Watch and the author of "Leave None To Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda."
The New Times (Kigali) 22 Aug 2005 OPINION It is Parmehutu Ideology, Not Genocide Ideology, But Where to Place the Moral Responsibility? Kigali An unheralded meeting of minds quietly took place last July. This was at the behest of the Rwanda Defense Forces (RDF) during a seminar for its Commanders, in which it brought together some of the foremost of Rwandan intellectuals today. These included the academically uncompromising José Kagabo, professor of African history in both Europe and America and visiting lecturer at the National University of Rwanda (UNR); the subtly incisive and thoughtful Josias Semujanga, Associate Professor of literature at the University of Montreal and UNR, and visiting professor at other universities in the US and Canada; and the dapper Dr Anastase Shyaka, a much sought after consultant on conflict issues, who also teaches at UNR and heads the Centre for Conflict Management at the University. The fourth was Brig. Gen. Frank Rusagara, Commandant, Rwanda Military Academy at Nyakinama, notable for his thought provoking insights on Rwanda and the region through the media and public lectures. With this collection of academics the RDF engaged in the ever compelling national debate on "The History of the Rwandan Genocide and its Consequences," which was the theme for the seminar. As it warmed to the subject, the Commanders Seminar would exhibit not only the depth of the RDF's considerable intellectual muscle, but its earnest strife to remain the enlightened guardian of peace and security. Thus, under the moderation of the polished Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga, it emerged at the seminar that (among other notable issues) there was a misunderstanding about the term genocide ideology, and gave rise to a sobering question about the issue of moral responsibility. This question, as it would turn out, came out of an expressed concern about a fear or shame many "Hutu" apparently must be living with for their role either as perpetrators or bystanders. They seem not to feel absolved despite the law taking its course, and seem to expect a certain undefined form of retribution now or in the future. Though there was an assurance that this fear is misplaced, that penalty is based on individual culpability, and that it is in the law that such unreasoned retribution is unacceptable other than through due process as is currently happening, the issue of moral responsibility caught fire and generated quite some debate. It may be summarized thus: If the Genocide was committed by the Hutu on behalf of all its members, wasn't the entire group morally responsible (though not necessarily to be penalized), if only for doing nothing about it? But, it is in the law that Hutu, Tutsi and Twa identities are not officially recognized in Rwanda, and that Rwandans are one and the same people. Who, therefore, is to take the moral responsibility? Perhaps the Government? How? The seminar was reminded that the former German Chancellor Willy Brandt apologized to Israel on behalf of the entire German nation for the Nazi atrocities on the Jews decades after the Holocaust. Doesn't the Rwandan Government, therefore, in its capacity as an institution since independence, hold a similar responsibility to Rwandans as victims of a tragedy they have to collectively own and live with? What about the moral responsibility of individuals so far adversely mentioned? There's no doubt that the Government has taken its due responsibilities, but this tangled moral question is largely subjective and, in all fairness, must be left 'to whom it may concern'. It was however clear that the fear expressed needs to be addressed as a vital aspect of the pervasive sense of latent conflict in Rwanda, as noted in the resultant ten-point seminar resolutions that also suggested a follow-up to the forum. To come to the genocide ideology, Prof Semujanga demonstrated that, other than believed by many Rwandans, the term "genocide ideology" as applied in the country is not plausible. Though the Genocide occurred, it is, by definition, more a result than an ideology. Instead, the Rwandan Genocide was driven by the Parmehutu ideology. The Parti du Mouvement pour l'Emancipation Hutu (PARMEHUTU), it may be recalled, was the most influential of the earliest political parties in Rwanda that capitalized on the false colonial division between Rwandans to gain power. The Rwandan tragedy, therefore, was not informed by some general creed about genocide, but by a particular, consciously directed and sectarian ideology espoused by the Parmehutu party to marginalize and eliminate. This ideology was given form and action by Gitera's 1959 Ten Hutu Commandments, and again by Kangura's 1990 Ten Commandments of the Bahutu, which have been subconsciously internalized and unquestioned over time. And thus the Parmehutu ideology continues to dog the country and the region. The seminar brought out many notable issues, which it however may not be within this space to delve into, and was characterized by illuminating presentations and frank discussions. Remarking that "not all Rwandan history is bad, and neither was it only about the Genocide," Prof Kagabo lengthily elaborated on the dubious colonial scholarship that justified a divided Rwanda. He presented a knowledgeable analysis of a list of scholars, singling out the French historian Herni and Belgian Jean-Claude Willame as some of the most recent and notorious in the distortion of Rwanda's history. With this he was able to furnish a compelling argument for a multi-disciplinary approach to the study and analysis of the Rwandan history and the root causes of the Genocide. As understanding the issues of the Rwandan conflict was the key thing, it was most appropriate therefore when Brig. Gen. Rusagara, painting an all-too-real scenario, quoted conflict management scholar, Michael Banks, observing that; "we live in a world in which conflict is rarely understood and often mismanaged." In this light he demonstrated RDF's awareness to its responsibilities in peace and development, and dwelled on the Gacaca as "a creative problem-solving [way] of redefining and transcending the Rwandan conflict" that no one could escape in the momentum it has generated. On his part Dr Shyaka observed that conflict is not only destructive but is also a powerful motivation for post-conflict peace building. Rwanda is proof of such motivation, in which, among other examples, European countries emerged as peaceful and prosperous after World War Two. He however cautioned that there must be a change of attitudes and behaviour among Rwandans, as negative attitudes can destroy any positive political and ideological initiatives in the country. On the whole, the RDF seminar was a candid reflection on issues as they are currently playing on the ground. But, with such issues as the "Hutu question", it was also testament that a nation, despite all it may hold as its values and have them enshrined in a constitution, is not an end in itself but something that continually has to be worked at. This must be what Abraham Lincoln meant when, commenting on the Declaration of (the US) Independence, he observed that constitutional principles of democratic nationhood are "a standard maxim for free societyâ-oeconstantly looked to, constantly laboured for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated." Just like no individual is perfect, therefore, so is a nation, and the seminar was an earnest RDF attempt at the approximation of a more ideal Rwanda.
The New Times (Kigali) 29 Aug 2005 Brig. Gen. Rusagara Implores On Genocide By John Kimanuka Kigali Brig. General Frank Rusagara has strongly cautioned the masses over the Genocide ideology which destroyed the country from 1959 to 1994. Addressing a recent workshop on the 1994 Genocide at Hotel Novotel Umubano, Rusagara said the fight against divisive ideologies should involve all citizens as a preventative measure. "We should make joint verification in order to overcome the tragedy and educate Rwandans to have a good future generation. Let us advise elders to play their role in educating the young ones about the dangers of Genocide," he observed. Past regimes were blamed for propagating divisions among Rwandans and setting the ground for the 1994 massacres that claimed about a million victims. Former Rwandan President Gregoire Kayibanda was accused of masterminding the divisions among Rwandans. "As other countries struggled for independence, Kayibanda was busy creating divisionism between Hutus and Tutsis," Rusagara observed. Brig. Gen. Rusagara, who is also a renowned researcher of Rwandan history, castigated individuals who call the 1994 massacres a 'Double Genocide'. He said, "There was no double Genocide. Those that keep saying it are merely belittling the Genocide." There was a general concern over some elites and politicians who try to gain public support by spreading hatred among the people. "Our focus should be developing our nation rather than listening to these unconstructive ideologies," Rusagara observed. The consultative meeting was attended by different researchers, and addressed by the coordinator of (IRDP) Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace, Professor Pierre Rwanyindo, who said they intend to research more about the 1994 Genocide. Another guest speaker, Presidential advisor Joseph Nsengimana, urged the participants to teach facts about the Genocide in order to build peace and maintain state security. Contributing to the same issue, Callixte Kayisire, the National Inspector of Education in the education ministry said authorities should double efforts to teach the youth and engage them in developmental activities.
San Francisco Chronicle 11 Aug 2005 www.sfgate.com Halting the genocide in Darfur - Elvir Camdzic, John Weiss Thursday, August 11, 2005 The 21st century's first genocide in the Darfur region of western Sudan has entered its third year. According to an analysis of U.N. data by Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College (see www.sudanreeves.org), since early 2003, 215,000 civilians have been killed in a campaign of ethnic cleansing of the non-Arab African inhabitants of Darfur carried out by a government-backed Arab militia known as "Janjaweed." Approximately 200,000 more have died from disease and malnutrition, bringing the total dead in Darfur to more than 400,000. At least 2 million persons, more than half the population of Darfur in 2002, have been uprooted, and several hundred thousand have fled the country into neighboring Chad. Our misunderstandings and inaction have, once again, given victory to the entrepreneurs of genocide. Sudan's government in Khartoum now has what it wants: a diminished, controllable, disregardable Darfur population that it can leave to the international humanitarian organizations and their terrorized agents to maintain, culturally speaking, in a permanent vegetative state in camps along the Sudan-Chad border and throughout Darfur. The Darfur disaster has established, once again, that every democratic country in the world opposes slaughtering large numbers of civilians and, at the same time, that no country in the world will take action to stop such slaughter if it entails any significant risk, burden or price. A Kosovo-style intervention could have stopped the Darfur genocide at any time, but the international community has chosen instead to repeat the trial-and-error pattern of policies that failed in Bosnia. The resolutions, statements of concern, empty deadlines, ineffective sanctions and observers, and deployment of troops without a mandate to protect civilians are actions that have deadly consequences demonstrated in Bosnia and elsewhere. Remember Srebrenica, where 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were massacred by Serb forces while being under the "protection" of the United Nations troops. Why do we have to learn the same lessons again? Why waste precious time building the African Union's capacity at the expense of Darfur lives? Why accept obviously tendentious slogans like "African solutions for African problems"? Why not accept, as a community of nations, the responsibility to protect the people of Darfur? Some claim that the genocide has stopped because the destruction by the Khartoum government and its allied militias of a village a day has stopped. But the full effect of genocide undermines the conditions of survival of a people and radically diminishes its capacity for culture. It is not necessary to physically eliminate every last member of the targeted people. The government of Sudan continues its campaign of genocide in Darfur by killing smaller numbers of civilians as an intended "collateral damage" of its retaliatory attacks against Darfur's rebels and by outfitting its Janjaweed killers in uniforms and putting them in charge of the government-controlled camps for internally displaced persons, where they continue to terrorize their victims. How many people die each month from malnutrition, disease and sheer despair in the refugee camps and elsewhere in Darfur? Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's benighted remarks during and after her recent visit to Khartoum leave little hope that the Bush administration will take any effective action to stop the genocide in Darfur. Her apparent forcefulness in calling for actions, not words, and her criticism of Khartoum's failure to stop the rapes (and what of the killings and burnings?) were undermined in four ways: 1) the failure to call for a change in the mandate of the African Union troops to allow them to protect civilians; 2) her declaration that in the Darfur crisis, the African Union "has the lead" despite that body's evident lack of the necessary capabilities, experience and political will; 3) her silence about the evident tokenism of the NATO program to transport to Darfur no more than 50 African Union troops per day, a force not augmented by better equipped non-African troops far more trusted by the victims than those of the African Union; and 4) her dubious claim that the new unity government should be given a chance to solve the Darfur problem despite the fact that the North-South Peace Agreement, under which this government is constituted, completely ignores Darfur and contains no provisions that would enable the new government to deal with this crisis. The callousness of the call to give Sudan's new unity government more time, which would postpone the effective mandate-changing and force-upgrading solutions known to all, only reveals how much the Bush administration has been seduced by the arguments of Khartoum. The thread of appeasement in Rice's trip, the real purpose of which was to "set the conditions" for further collaboration with Khartoum in the global war on terror, illustrates clearly that the Khartoum regime's continuing terrorization of its own citizens is studiously ignored by this administration. The death of Southern Sudanese leader John Garang de Mabior last week is a severe setback to the implementation of the North-South Peace Agreement, but also to the prospects that the international community will take any effective action to end the Darfur genocide. Just as Garang's entry into the new government became Rice's excuse to give Khartoum more time, so the "instability" of the country following Garang's death will likely be used as an argument against an effective intervention. The international community will now again focus its efforts and attention on salvaging the North-South Peace Agreement, thereby giving the Khartoum regime an opportunity to reinforce its troops and proxy militias in Darfur. To move our own words to actions, the United States should demand the immediate deployment of an international force sufficient to stop all ongoing violence and protect the people of Darfur, the refugee camps, the relief workers, the relief-transport systems, the International Criminal Court investigators and the refugees trying to return to their villages. Elvir Camdzic is a co-founder of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition (www.darfursf.org) and executive director of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Center of San Francisco. John Weiss is the founder of the Darfur Action Group (www.weaversofthewind.org) at Cornell University, where he is an associate professor of history. Page B - 9
www.nato.int 11 Aug 2005 NATO diversifies aid to African Union 11 August 2005 By Staff Sgt. Mellissa M. Novakovich NATO’s continuing support to the African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) has become more diverse as NATO offers capacity building training as well as logistical support to the African Union. NATO’s logistical support to AMIS in the form of the coordination of strategic airlift began in July. Since then NATO has transported approximately 1,950 troops including 49 members of the civilian police force. These airlift missions are a blend of efforts by NATO and the European Union to create a combined endeavour to promote peace in the Darfur region. In addition to the airlift missions, NATO is also providing Staff Capacity Building workshops for the African Union’s officers within the Deployed Integrated Task Force (DITF) Headquarters in Ethiopia. The training is based on strategic level planning and focuses on technologies and techniques to create an overall analysis and understanding of Darfur and to identify the areas by which the application of AU assets can influence and shape the operating environment to deter crises . The training covering command and control procedures, reporting systems, battle rhythm, intelligence collection and analysis, force generation, situational awareness and task force and headquarters standard operating procedures refinement began on 1 August. At their request, the AU officers are also receiving informational briefs on NATO’s experiences with the NATO Response Force concept, and deployed operations in Afghanistan. In a separate activity, NATO is also providing 14 officers in support of a United Nations (UN) organized MAP Exercise for the AMIS Force Headquarters in Sudan. In this exercise, NATO has provided exercise writers and tactical-level controllers. The MAP Exercise will run Aug 17-26. In May NATO’s North Atlantic Council (NAC) agreed that the Alliance could support the AU mission by providing strategic airlift and training, especially in the areas of command and control and operational planning. www.nato.int/issues/darfur
UN News Centre UN Mission reports fresh violence, looting in Darfur 16 August 2005 – The United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) today reported fresh violence, looting and attacks on refugee camps in the strife-torn western Darfur region, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced during two-years of fighting between the Government, allied militia and rebels. UNMIS received several reports of related incidents indicating that banditry and armed attacks on vehicles – UN-hired trucks, as well as vehicles operated by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and commercial enterprises – continue in the three Darfur States. The goods on the trucks were looted and while there were no reported casualties, there were some reports that trucks had been hijacked. Meanwhile, UNMIS says that last Thursday, a Sudanese Government police officer on his way to Zam Zam camp in North Darfur was killed by unidentified gunmen and his weapon taken. Also, in South Darfur on Saturday, armed tribesmen reportedly attacked returnees from Kalma camp in their village of origin, Sarman Jago. The attackers surrounded the village and stole the returnees’ belongings. No casualties were reported, UNMIS said. In a separate incident on Saturday, unidentified armed men attacked and killed four persons in a village 29 kilometres from of Nyala, South Darfur, who were sleeping near their cattle. The bodies were brought to Nyala hospital by the relatives of the victims.
CTV.ca 16 Aug 2005 Darfur training going well, Cdn. commander says News Staff Canadian troops are in Senegal, training African Union troops how to use equipment Ottawa is lending to a mission to ease the crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Defence Minister Bill Graham announced late last month that Canada would send a total of 105 armoured vehicles to the war-ravaged northern African nation. The 100 Grizzly general purpose armoured vehicles and the five Husky armoured recovery vehicles were previously deployed in Bosnia. As part of a $137 million aid package announced by Prime Minister Paul Martin, the vehicles, as well as training and maintenance assistance, are being loaned to the 53-nation African Union Mission in Sudan for one year. Between now and Sept. 26, some 80 Canadians are training Africa Union personnel to turn around and train their fellow soldiers in the vehicles' use and upkeep. At the vehicles' base in Dakar, Senegal, Major Gilles Legacy says, so far, the training has been proceeding as planned. "We're keeping on time with our schedule," Maj. Legacy told CTV's Canada AM on Tuesday. "We've had a little bit of a challenge with the language, but other than that everything seems to be going as per plan." But Legacy says, overall, their mission has been well-received. "Morale among the troops is very, very high. They're quite happy about being here -- they really enjoy the Canadian soldiers' expertise." AU troops from Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal are expected to be operating the vehicles in Sudan by mid-September. Begun a year ago, the AU mission in Darfur is expected to expand to a deployment of 7,700 troops by next month. The UN-backed mission's goal is to enforce a series of peace pacts agreed to by the southern Sudan Liberation Army and the Sudanese government. Years of conflict between the government and ex-rebel separatists have seen millions of Sudanese displaced from their homes. Since 2003, when rebels took up arms in Darfur, between 180,000 and 300,000 people are believed to have died from war-induced hunger and disease.
www.africaaction.org 18 Aug 2005 A Day for Darfur: Sept. 8, 2005 Wash. DC Stop the Genocide, Protect the People! Join us for a powerful event in front of the White House on September 8th! One year since the Bush Administration declared that genocide is occuring in Darfur, little has been done to stop the violence and protect the people. Up to 400,000 people have lost their lives in Darfur since the government-sponsored genocide began in 2003. More than 2.5 million people have been displaced, their livelihoods and villages destroyed by government forces and their proxy militias. These forces have raped many thousands of women and girls. The humanitarian crisis that forms part of the genocide continues, as a government-engineered famine begins to unfold. Unless there is an urgent multinational intervention, hundreds of thousands more may die this year. On this anniversary we will call on President Bush to take every step necessary to stop the genocide in Darfur. Join us! Date: September 8th, 2005 Time: Gathering at 11:45am to start promptly at 12 noon! Venue: Lafayette Park. In front of the White House. The closest cross streets are 16th and H St., NW, Washington DC. During genocide, every moment counts. To stop this genocide, there must be an urgent international humanitarian intervention in Darfur with a mandate to protect people, not just observe the violence. The United States has a unique capacity and clear obligation to take immediate action as the only nation that has recognized genocide in Darfur. Considering the powerful role that U.S. leadership can play in Darfur, American citizens have a unique power to protect. You have the power to protect! Your voice can move this nation! Will you join us? PROGRAM & SPEAKERS There will be a lively and engaging program that will involve speakers and musical entertainment. Join us early at 11:45 to hear the music. The event will start promptly at 12:00 noon and be over by 1:00pm. The program will include an update on the on-going genocide in Darfur and the global response to the crisis, and calls to action urging urgent U.S. action to stop genocide in Darfur. Bring your cell phone – we will call President Bush at 1:00pm as we close the event. Featured speakers will include: Danny Glover*, Actor and Activist Dr. Robert W. Edgar, General Secretary, National Council of Churches Fatima Haroun, Darfurian Representative of Sudan Peace Advocates Network Ruth Messinger*, President, American Jewish World Service Rev. Jim Wallis*, Founder and Editor in Chief of Sojourners Magazine Salih Booker, Executive Director, Africa Action Dave Rubenstein, Executive Director, Save Darfur Members of Congress* *Invited and intending to come but awaiting final confirmation CO-SPONSORS Africa Action, American Jewish World Service, Armenian National Committee of America, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Faithful America, Greater Washington Jewish Task Force on Darfur, NAACP, National Council of Churches, Save Darfur Coalition, Sojourners, STAND, Sudan Peace Advocates Network, TransAfrica Forum, and the United Methodist Church. Download a flyer! http://www.africaaction.org/campaign_new/docs/FinalFlyer.pdf
The Free Lance-Star - Fredericksburg,VA,USA 21 Aug 2005 fredericksburg.com The genocide goes on in Darfur--but has it become passe for politicians as the issue du jour? The genocide goes on in Darfur--but has it become passe for politicians as the issue du jour? Date published: 8/21/2005 WE SEEM TO BE just about at the point where we can file the people of Darfur, Sudan, in the "Where are they now?" category. You may remember them as the victims of a genocide perpetrated by their government and its militia allies. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000 of them have died, 2.5 million have been made homeless and countless numbers of women and girls have been systematically raped. But we haven't heard much about Darfur lately. The agenda-setting media in the United States have pretty much stopped reporting on the situation in western Sudan, deciding that the food emergency in Niger is the Africa catastrophe du jour. (You don't expect them to devote significant time and resources to more than one big Africa story at a time, do you?) The Bush administration, meanwhile, displays more interest in cementing an intelligence-sharing relationship with the Sudanese government than with ending the genocide in Darfur. How else to interpret the CIA's decision to fly one of the suspected architects of the Darfur genocide--Sudanese intelligence chief Salah Abdallah Gosh--to Washington to chew the fat about al-Qaida? This Gosh is thought to be so bad that some Justice Department officials considered having him arrested when he set foot in this country, according to The Los Angeles Times. Even conservative Republican Rep. Frank Wolf, whose 10th District includes part of Fauquier County, protested Gosh's visit, saying it sent the wrong message to the Sudanese government. But the Bush administration has introduced nuance into its foreign policy, and at least some evildoers may now be embraced. In her Pulitzer Prize-winning book "A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," Samantha Power reports that President Bush received a memo describing President Clinton's shameful inaction during the Rwanda genocide and wrote on the margin of the document: "Not on my watch." But now a genocide has happened on his watch, and although Bush has done more than any other Western leader to try to stop it, he hasn't done enough. He certainly hasn't made Darfur a priority, even though he has stated that the violence in the region amounts to genocide. The situation in western Sudan has been called "Rwanda in slow motion," and now that the dying has tapered off a bit--down from 10,000 people a month to about 6,000--it's tempting to forget about the crisis and focus on other matters. Some people representing the U.S. government are even prepared to declare the international response to Darfur a success. Michael Smith, a State Department official working with the African Union, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last month that he's been "overwhelmed" by world reaction to the 21 century's first genocide. "I think we shined the light on Darfur and we have forestalled a much greater loss of life than we would otherwise have had," he said. Of course, that rosy assessment obscures one important thing: The genocide continues. John Prendergast, a leading Sudan expert who travels frequently to Darfur, thinks Smith is way off the mark. As he explained in an e-mail: "The standard as to whether or not the situation is improving in Darfur must not be mortality or malnutrition rates, but rather whether the two and a half million displaced people feel safe enough to return home. Not one of them does. The situation remains urgent." Prendergast's organization, the International Crisis Group, has been advocating a more robust response to the genocide. The group has put forth these recommendations: A stronger mandate for the AU forces on the ground in Darfur, to enable them to undertake any measures necessary to prevent attacks or threats to civilians and relief workers. The existing mandate does not allow AU soldiers to intervene to stop attacks, or launch offensive operations to ensure security in the region. A rapid reinforcement of AU troops, with adequate support from the West, to boost the number of personnel to more than 12,000 in 60 days. The current AU plan calls for about 7,500 troops on the ground by next month and 12,300 by next spring. The ICG believes the latter is the minimal number of troops needed to provide security for an area about the size of Texas. A NATO "bridging force" for Darfur if the AU cannot quickly increase troop numbers to an adequate level. Experts can debate whether these proposals are the best ones we can come up with, but it's deeply troubling that there appears to be no real debate at all in Washington these days about Darfur. The administration, having declared the violence in Darfur to be genocide, now seems to have checked off the crisis on its to-do list and moved on to other things. Potential genocide perpetrators in other parts of the world must be comforted by our response to Darfur. They've learned that even when we have the temerity to use the dreaded g-word, we won't really act forcefully to end the crimes against humanity. We'll simply hope that the killing and raping are managed in such a way that they're not so in-our-face. Would-be authors of genocide have also seen that the CIA will offer them VIP treatment if they can tantalize the agency with tidbits of information about America's enemies. Meanwhile, there's our "Where are they now?" candidates, the people of Darfur. They continue to be trapped in de facto concentration camps or under trees and in valleys, wondering if they'll ever have a normal life again--or whether they'll continue having a life at all. RICK MERCIER is a writer and news editor for The Free Lance-Star. His news articles and columns on Darfur recently earned finalist honors in the Associated Press Managing Editors 2005 International Perspective Award competitio.
NPR "Morning Edition" 22 August 2005 "NATO Forces Needed in Darfur" Wesley Clark onNPR "Morning Edition" Click here to listen After a series of UN Security Council resolutions on Darfur and a donors conference to boost the African Union Mission there, you could be forgiven for thinking the international community has responded adequately to the crisis. Sadly, this is far from the case. The international community urgently needs to take bold new action. The truth is, civilians are still targeted in Darfur. The pro-government Janjaweed militias still remain unchecked. Humanitarian access is still restricted along key transit routes and in areas where millions of displaced Sudanese have gathered. Women and girls are still being raped as they leave their camps to collect firewood and forage for food. It's a tragedy. The African Union's priority must be to protect civilians. It must be able to take all necessary measures -- including offensive action -- against any attacks or threats against civilians and humanitarian operations. But the AU Mission's force numbers and mandate are simply not sufficient to cope with the reality on the ground in Darfur. The AU current plan is to deploy 7,700 troops next month, and possibly 12,000 troops next year. But this is far too slow. A minimum of 12,000 troops are needed on the ground right now, not six months from now. The African Union should deploy a battalion task force of around 1,000 troops to each of Darfur's eight sectors and maintain another battalion task force in reserve. Each sector would then have close to 1,000 troops, twice as many civilian police, and 1,000 headquarters and other support staff. Even if the African Union can overcome the political obstacles to strengthening its mandate in Darfur -- and that's a very big "if" -- it's in no position to get such large numbers of troops on the ground in such a short time. Despite the European Union and NATO assistance, the African Union mission looks set to fall short of its target of 7,700 troops by September. The UN Security Council, in consultation with the AU, should request and authorize NATO to deploy a multinational "bridging force" to bring the combined force level in Darfur immediately up to 12,000 to 15,000 troops while the African Union prepares and deploys its own forces. This is not an easy recommendation to make for Darfur, where all multinational organizations have been at pains to keep non-African troops out of Sudan. But the notion that the atrocities in Darfur are solely African problems requiring exclusively African solutions has to be reconsidered. These ongoing offenses are crimes against all humanity. They demand an international response that gives human life priority over diplomatic sensitivities. Working together, NATO and the AU can save the lives of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. They can demonstrate to outlaw regimes like the government of Sudan that the international community will not tolerate crimes against humanity. And we must do this now. Wesley Clark, Supreme Allied Commander of NATO during the 1999 Kosovo campaign, is now a member of the Board of the International Crisis Group.
washingtonpost.com 25 Aug 2005 No Respite in Africa By Jerry Fowler and John Heffernan Thursday, August 25, 2005; A19 Last month, in the middle of a hot, dusty refugee camp in eastern Chad, we witnessed hundreds of men from Darfur, clad in immaculate white robes, crowding around a small generator-powered television. They were watching the news about a new member of Sudan's leadership: John Garang, longtime leader of the country's southern rebellion against its northern government. Now he was being sworn in as first vice president in a new "government of national unity" meant to end Sudan's long civil war. To be sure, few of the refugees really knew much about "Dr. John," except that he was not a member of the Khartoum-based Arab elite that has orchestrated a campaign of murder and rape to drive them and more than 2 million other non-Arabs from their homes in Sudan's western region of Darfur. But given their desperation to return home and reclaim their former lives, his swearing-in was enough to create palpable excitement. For many of the estimated 200,000 Darfurian refugees in Chad, the new government represents hope of returning home. We feared then that they were grasping at straws; with the death of John Garang in a helicopter crash a few weeks ago, our fear may have become reality. It's been more than a year now since we witnessed some of the bleakest sights we'd ever seen in Chad. Thousands of refugees were scattered over the barren landscape, huddled under straggly trees that offered no protection from the furnace-like heat and unforgiving desert winds. The few animals they had brought with them were dying from lack of water and fodder, the carcasses being burnt in large heaps to avoid the spread of disease. Even the refugees in U.N.-sponsored camps suffered from inadequate water supplies and inconsistent food distribution as relief workers struggled to catch up with this man-made emergency. Conditions have improved since our last trip to Chad. The refugee infrastructure has developed into well-organized camps that seem to meet the basic needs of many who now have been away from their homes for more than two years. Yet tensions between the refugees and their Chadian hosts are rising, principally because of competition for resources. We were told of women in one camp who have had to walk as far as 10 miles to find firewood for cooking -- putting themselves in danger of being assaulted -- because the area near the camp had been stripped bare. One man told us about a refugee family that sought to supplement its insufficient food rations by growing vegetables. Family members finally found some land to cultivate miles away from the camp, but then their 13-year-old daughter was abducted by local bandits and raped repeatedly. Even as acts of violence in Chad mount, however, the refugees there are still safer than the approximately 2 million people who remain displaced inside Darfur. Thousands have been raped there and are still subject to attack in camps where they have sought refuge. With their homes and livelihoods already shattered, their lives and dignity remain at risk. Reports of large-scale attacks on villages by Sudanese military forces and their Janjaweed militia allies have diminished, perhaps because there are so few non-Arab villages left to destroy. But this hardly means that the process of destruction has stopped. The overall security situation remains dire. Moreover, the sweeping destruction of homes, community structures, wells, crops, livestock and personal assets has devastated a way of life for non-Arab Darfurians. Their civil society, a cultural identity tied to their villages and the very fabric of their social structures have been virtually eliminated. They have been driven en masse into a desolate and hostile desert death trap where they have little hope of surviving without international assistance. The great tactical advantage that the perpetrators of this genocide have had throughout the crisis is that their focus has been intense and relentless, while high-level attention from the international community has been only episodic -- a photo-op visit here and there for the most part. The risk now is that what look like positive developments -- fewer attacks on villages, creation of the new government, an expanded African Union monitoring force -- will cause international attention to become even less consistent. And meanwhile, the suffering of the surviving Darfurians drags on. The demise of the targeted victim groups will proceed through attrition, a steady grinding down of their lives and identities. The 7,700 African Union monitors expected to be in place by the fall are unlikely to be enough to protect all 2 million displaced Darfurians, let alone to create secure conditions for them to return home and rebuild their lives. The refugees we interviewed were unanimous in saying that the African Union alone cannot provide the type of security they need to go back. A more robust and sustained international presence is crucial to complement it. The refugees we met in Chad refuse to reset their watches to reflect the hour's time difference between Sudan and Chad. They wait and wait, living on Sudan time. But time is not on their side. Jerry Fowler is staff director of the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. John Heffernan is a senior investigator for Physicians for Human Rights.
BBC 26 Aug 2005 US star launches Darfur campaign Cheadle was Oscar-nominated for his Hotel Rwanda performance Oscar-nominated actor Don Cheadle has launched a campaign to highlight war and famine in the Darfur area of Sudan. The Hotel Rwanda star is co-chairman of Live for Darfur, which urges actors, musicians and authors to dedicate their work to the people of Darfur. Coldplay, Carlos Santana and Queen Latifah have already participated in the awareness drive. The initiative will also see bands such as U2 and Destiny's Child dedicate performances to Sudanese refugees. 'Dire need' "The problems are very nuanced and complex," Cheadle said. "We are in dire need of leadership from our government if we are going to see any change." Live for Darfur is part of the Safe Darfur coalition and Cheadle will attend the organisation's National Day of Action in Washington in September. He will also participate in a National Leadership Assembly for groups to brief Save Darfur members and others on Sudanese issues. Cheadle earned acclaim earlier this year for his performance in Hotel Rwanda playing Paul Rusesabagina, a real-life hotel manager who saved more than 1,200 of his countrymen during the 1994 genocide.
TIME 28 Aug 2005 TIME.com Who Speaks for Her? Rape is the weapon of choice in Darfur, but Sudan's government doesn't want to hear about it By SAM DEALEY / KHOR ABECHE The rapes continued through the day. Kicked and beaten, their hands bound behind their backs, the women lay side by side on the dusty earth beneath Sudan's scorching sun. Nine in all, they were spoils of war, taken last April from their village of Khor Abeche in a dawn raid by the Arab militiamen known as Janjaweed, who had descended on camels and horses and in pickups mounted with machine guns. The women's village, on the cusp of rebel and government redoubts in South Darfur, was burned and looted; their husbands and fathers and brothers were shot when they protested. At the Janjaweed camp, the men took turns smothering the women's faces in their long, colorful shawls. The victims were told they were the rebels' whores and daughters, they recounted to TIME, and when they cried out, they were threatened with death. As the blistering day gave way to a chill dusk, the women lay there, denied food and water, some sobbing and others asleep from exhaustion. With the morning came the rebels' counterattack. The Janjaweed fled, leaving the women behind. Nearly 2 1/2 years since fighting erupted between African rebels and government-backed Arab militias in Sudan's western Darfur region, the horror continues. When TIME published a cover story last October on the unfolding genocide against Darfur's non-Arab Muslims, some 50,000 had died and 1.4 million had been forced from their homes. Since then, the war has claimed tens of thousands more; 2.4 million are now displaced. Large-scale attacks on villages like Khor Abeche are increasingly rare, and Darfur's combatants seem mostly resigned to an uneasy stalemate. Humanitarian access has improved and fewer people are dying, but in the vast swaths of land outside the control of either the government or the rebels, lawlessness prevails. Attacks on trucks and aid convoys make roads too dangerous to travel, and the scared and hungry arrive at swollen relief camps daily. Even then, their safety is not ensured. At Kalma, Darfur's largest camp, refugees complain of government harassment, and women who venture beyond in search of firewood and fodder are often raped. Rape is a potent symbol of the government's failure to ensure security. After a March report by Doctors Without Borders documented 500 rapes over a four-month period, senior aid workers were arrested for publishing false reports, undermining state security and spying. The charges were eventually dropped, but the government still denies the assertion. In June, Western diplomats and U.N. representatives gathered with aid workers in Kalma to discuss the government's failure to halt the rapes. Even as Sudanese officials contested claims of sexual violence, a slip of paper was handed to an aid worker. Another woman had been raped. With Khartoum unable or unwilling to provide security, the African Union hopes to increase its peacekeeping force from 2,700 to 7,700 by September. But even that may not be enough to tame an area the size of Texas. Five turbulent rounds of peace talks have made little headway, and frustration and mistrust run high. The hope is that Sudan's new coalition government, forged in July by the peace deal that ended a separate, 21-year civil war in the south, will succeed where the regime could not. But that prospect took a blow when rebel leader John Garang, the inspiration for Sudan's disaffected, died in a helicopter crash just three weeks after becoming Vice President. Time is running short. Unrest is growing among Sudan's other marginalized groups, many of which are armed and may not wait for the new government to address their concerns. "How many armies and militias do we have in this country?" asks Hassan al-Turabi, the former speaker of the parliament who fell out with the regime he helped build. "Ten, and even 20 and 30. We are running the risk of disintegration." For now Khor Abeche, like Darfur itself, lies somewhere between peace and disintegration. It was a ghost town two months ago, but villagers are returning under African Union protection. On a recent day, newly thatched huts stood beside the charred remains of others. As children played among spent gun cartridges in the village square, aid workers from World Vision distributed food under the stripped limbs of a baobab tree. "I feel safe now, but what is safe?" asks Amna, one of the nine raped in April. "I have felt safe before." It's an insecurity that will not easily go away. Several of the women are now pregnant, and their children will be lifelong reminders of Darfur's hatreds.
washingtonpost.com 30 Aug 2005 Widow of Sudan's Garang Steps In to Continue His Mission Defying Patriarchal Tradition, She Takes On Public Role By Emily Wax Washington Post Foreign Service Tuesday, August 30, 2005; A10 JUBA, Sudan -- The women wept and wailed, making rhythmic, guttural sounds. They collapsed over the coffin of John Garang, the Sudanese vice president and former rebel leader killed in a helicopter crash. Then, one by one, the women fainted. It was their formal role at Garang's funeral in this southern city earlier this month, a rite of collective female mourning in a patriarchal society where it is taboo for men to cry, even for one of Africa's most revered icons. But Garang's widow, Rebecca, did not break down in tears. Instead, she stiffened her resolve and rose to the larger occasion -- a tense and confused moment for a country that had just lost a pivotal leader and was threatening to erupt in violence. Garang, who commanded one side in Sudan's 21-year civil war, was the key architect of a January peace accord between north and south. As soon as the news of his death reached her, Rebecca Garang, a tall and imposing woman in her fifties, began making firm press statements and vigorous speeches. She called for calm and urged people to continue her husband's mission. Within days, she had emerged as an eloquent and powerful force in a place where women rarely have a public role. "I will not miss my husband as long as you people of Sudan are the watchdogs," she said at the funeral, referring to the peace deal that set up a national power-sharing arrangement. "In our culture we say, if you kill the lion, you see what the lioness will do." Although hundreds of rioters took to the streets after John Garang's death in an angry spasm of looting and violence that left more than 100 dead in the capital, Khartoum, and this southern city, Rebecca Garang set a tone that helped calm the nation's emotions. Over and over, she told radio listeners that his death had been an accident caused by bad weather. "It's just his body which is gone," she said on the air. "His vision of peace remains." President Bush called from the White House to thank her, and even her husband's former enemies in Khartoum recognized her contribution. She was praised at the swearing-in of Salva Kiir Mayardit, the former senior aide to her husband who replaced him as vice president of the new unified government of Sudan. "After he died, the words from Mama Rebecca's mouth have been like milk," Abdel-Basit Sabdarat, the minister of information, told government and rebel leaders who had gathered for the subdued ceremony. "We were wounded. She was there to heal and became a symbol of the country." Many Sudanese hope Rebecca Garang's new role will become permanent. Her husband's personality was seen as a dominating force behind the peace deal. Kiir, who was intelligence chief and military commander of John Garang's Sudan People's Liberation Army, lacks his political stature. Three weeks after her husband's death, Rebecca Garang visited Uganda to demonstrate solidarity between that country and southern Sudan. It was a politically meaningful visit, because her husband was killed in the crash of a Ugandan military helicopter as he returned home from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's ranch. Many southerners believe the crash was a plot by the Khartoum government or by rebel factions who wanted to steal power from the vice president. Rebecca Garang has repeatedly disputed that theory, even saying she had asked her husband not to fly because of inclement weather. Diplomats involved in investigating the crash said there is so far no reason to believe that it was anything other than an accident. "Rebecca has been the one calming force," said William Ezekiel, an editor at the Khartoum Monitor newspaper. "She's a symbol of her husband, but she's also representing her own bravery and the hopes for peace without her husband." During her husband's career, Rebecca Garang often stood by his side at public events, a striking figure with a crown of jet-black hair, dressed in bold West African prints. After his political speeches were over, she would make her own comments about the importance of girls' education or women's rights. In fact, people close to her described her as no less politically savvy, determined and tough than her husband. She was a commander in the rebel army and was known to push her female soldiers so hard that they begged for breaks. She was also known to give rousing speeches to inspire her troops. "She would tell us that we have to stand on our own two feet and fight," said Nunu Suwad, 28, a longtime friend and associate in the rebel movement. "She respected you if you worked hard." Like her husband, Rebecca Garang traveled frequently to the West. The couple's six children were educated in the United States and Europe. In recent years, she helped start schools for war orphans and promoted the rights of female veterans of the rebel movement. "She told us, 'I am with you. I will help you,' " Suwad said during the funeral, surrounded by weeping women as she spoke. "Women don't usually get much respect in our culture. But Rebecca has earned that for us." Several months ago, Rebecca Garang visited Rumbek, the interim capital of southern Sudan, to lead a workshop for female veterans and an effort to retrain them for civil jobs. "Rights are not given. You have to take them," she said in an interview that day. "We fought in the bush, and now that we have come back, we can't be treated the way we used to be. We can't make the mistakes we made in the old Sudan."
IRIN 16 Aug 2005 Genocide suspect surrenders to genocide tribunal [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] ARUSHA, 16 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - A former tea factory chief in Rwanda, Michel Bagaragaza, denied on Tuesday before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda three counts of genocide in the 1994 killings in the east African country. The Rwandan genocide claimed the lives of some 937,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus between April and July 1994, according to government figures. Bagaragaza, 60, surrendered voluntarily on Monday to the UN tribunal in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha. The tribunal's chief of prosecutions, Steven Rapp, declined to say where Bagaragaza had been hiding prior to giving himself up. "Because of the circumstances surrounding his surrender, I can't say for now from where he came," Rapp said. Bagaragaza is alleged to have exhorted tea factory employees to massacre hundreds of Tutsi civilians who had sought refuge on Kesho Hill, near a tea factory in Rubya, and in Nyundo Cathedral in Gisenyi, northern Rwanda. The indictment against him said: "On or about 7-9 April 1994, the Interahamwe [Hutu militia] and the presidential guard came to Rubya tea factory. Bagaragaza ordered the employees of the tea factory, over whom he had authority as director general, to provide them with fuel for their vehicles. These Interahamwe and the presidential guard then attacked and killed hundreds of Tutsis on Kesho Hill." Bagaragaza denied the charges of genocide, conspiracy to commit genocide and complicity in genocide. He also allegedly ordered a truckload of Interahamwe to go to Nyundo Cathedral to kill Tutsis who had sought refuge there. The indictment said: "By facilitating the transport of the Interahamwe, Bagaragaza aided and abetted the killing of the Tutsi that resulted." Tribunal Prosecutor Hassan Jallow welcomed Bagaragaza's surrender, calling it an "important step" in the fulfillment of the tribunal's completion strategy. The UN has ordered the tribunal to complete its work by 2008. The tribunal, set up in 1994, has so far delivered 25 judgments, including three acquittals. Jallow said Bagaragaza's indictment was among the final eight indictments that the Office of the Prosecutor has filed in cases alleging genocide. He added that Bagaragaza's indictment resulted from the tribunal's investigation of the Akazu, a group around the former Rwandan president which exercised "great power" in business and government in the years leading to 1994.
AFP 14 Aug 2005 Detained journalist’s Garang remarks could have started genocide - minister KAMPALA, Aug 14 (AFP) — Uganda on Sunday defended its arrest last week of journalist for comments about the death of Sudanese vice president and ex-rebel leader John Garang, saying the remarks could have led to genocide. Information Minister Nsaba Buturo said editor and radio talk-show host Andrew Mwenda, who has been arrested for sedition, had compromised national and regional security by airing conspiracy theories about Garang’s demise. "Strong comments from Andrew Mwenda were made at the height of great tension inside the Sudan which had already led to death of hundreds of people," Buturo said explaining Mwenda’s Friday arrest and the closure of KFM, the privately owned radio station that airs his program, a day earlier. "Everybody remembers what happened in Rwanda in 1994," he said in a statement, referring to the genocide in which some 800,000 people, mainly minority Tutsis, were slaughtered by Hutu extremists. "Inflammatory statements on Radio Mille Collines led to the death of Belgian nationals and hundreds of thousands of Rwandese," Buturo said. "Neither KFM nor any other radio should ever be used in this way." Mwenda was arrested and KFM ordered off the air by Uganda’s media council after President Yoweri Museveni threatened on Wednesday to shut down any news outlet that reports conspiracy theories about Garang’s death. The moves have drawn strong domestic and international condemnation from press freedom activists. Garang died on July 30 when Museveni’s presidential helicopter that was flying him back to southern Sudan from Uganda crashed in what most have said was an accident due to poor weather, darkness and possible pilot error. But suspicion over the facts surrounding his death sparked days of riots and deadly clashes in Sudan, prompting the Sudanese government to form a national committee to investigate the crash with international experts. The Ugandan media has been awash with conspiracy theories with some reports saying Garang’s body was riddled with bullets when recovered from the wreckage and others suggesting the crash was the work of saboteurs from Rwanda. Ironically, it was Museveni himself who was the first public official to suggest the crash was anything other than accident, saying the cause was unclear and might have been the result of an "external factor."
IRIN 18 Aug 2005 Polisario releases all remaining Moroccan prisoners of war [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © DAKAR, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The Polisario Front, which is fighting for Western Sahara to be recognised as an independent state, on Thursday released all remaining Moroccan prisoners-of-war, some of whom had been held in captivity for more than 20 years. The International Committee of the Red Cross said 404 prisoners had been released in Tindouf, Algeria, following mediation by the United States, and were on their way home to Morocco. "Their repatriation ends a long period of internment and marks an important step in resolving the humanitarian consequences of the conflict in Western Sahara," the Geneva-based group said in a statement. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan -- who earlier this month opposed scaling down the size of MINURSO, the UN mission in Western Sahara -- said he hoped that Thursday's prisoner release would trigger other break-throughs. "The Secretary-General considers the release a positive step and expresses his hope that it will serve to foster better relations between the parties and contribute to overcoming the present political impasse," his office said in a statement. A territorial dispute has raged in Western Sahara for nearly 30 years, since former colonial power Spain withdrew from this sliver of desert land in 1976. Morocco moved in to fill the void, incurring the wrath of the Polisario who staked their own claim and vowed to fight for independence. The prisoners released on Thursday were among more than 2,000 captured in the 16-year armed guerrilla campaign the Polisario waged against the Moroccan forces, which came to an end with a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991. The release of the final 404 was overseen by US Senator Dick Lugar at the request of US President George W Bush. However, 14 years after the ceasefire and with all Moroccan prisoners released, the political dispute rumbles on. The UN has spent more than US $600 million since the guns fell silent trying to find a solution to the conflict. It estimates Western Sahara is home to around 460,000 people although 150,000 of them are currently living in refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria, where many have spent the last 30 years. Late last month, Annan appointed a new special envoy for Western Sahara -- Peter Van Walsum, a Dutch diplomat. The current peace deal, put on the table in 2003, provides for Western Sahara to be given self-rule for a period of four to five years. After that, its long-term residents and the refugees in Algerian camps would vote in a referendum to choose whether the territory is to be fully integrated with Morocco, continue to have autonomy within the Moroccan state, or become independent. The plan has been accepted by the Polisario movement, but rejected by Morocco. Mohamed Sidati, the Polisario's minister delegate for Europe said that his movement had done their part by releasing the remaining prisoners on Thursday and suggested that the ball was now in Morocco's court. "As a result of this gesture, the Polisario Front has no further debts to anyone, there are no possible reproaches to be made," Sidati said in a statement published on the internet. "This will contribute, we hope, to generate a climate which will favour a dynamic for peace, which we would like to believe will be irreversible," he said. There was no official comment from Morocco.
IRIN 18 Aug 2005 LRA reluctant to take up new peace initiative [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN Uganda's Gulu, Kitgum and Pader districts which have borne the brunt of the war. KAMPALA, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has responded poorly to a recent initiative by mediators attempting to peacefully end the 19-year-old war in northern Uganda between the insurgents and government forces, sources said. Launched by Uganda's four main donors: Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and the United States, the initiative involved broadcasting radio messages to the rebels inviting them to contact the chief mediator of the peace process, Betty Bigombe. The messages also announced the creation of a special radio monitoring post at which the rebels could pass messages to Bigombe to re-establish contact with her. "We are in discussions with the Ugandan government about peace but we would like to impress upon you that it is absolutely vital that you re-establish contact so that the opportunity for peace talks is not lost," the radio messages said. "Your concerns can and should be issues for discussion. But it is impossible to do this if you do not re-establish contact - we urge you to do so without delay," they added. "This is a window of opportunity that may be closing rapidly." However, relief workers in northern Uganda said the southern Sudan-based rebels had been reluctant to heed the messages. "The response has been much less than we expected," one relief worker in the northern town of Gulu, 380 km north of the capital, said on Thursday. "What we have got are small time telephone calls." According to the source, "nothing tangible has been discussed during the small time telephone contacts with the rebel group". The chief mediator, Bigombe - a former Uganda government minister - told IRIN the LRA had contacted her by phone in the past few weeks, but declined to give details of her talks with them. Another relief worker said: "We shall keep on trying again and again because this is a peace process that cannot be taken to its logical conclusion in a short time. It takes months and sometimes years." Meanwhile, renewed clashes between the rebels and the Ugandan army have claimed more than 20 lives both in northern Uganda and southern Sudan since Monday. "Around midday [on Wednesday] inside Sudan in Kit Valley, about 40 km from our border, we caught up with an LRA group of about 50 and killed between 15 and 20," Lt Col Shaban Bantariza, Ugandan army spokesman, said. "We used both helicopter gunships and ground forces against the LRA fighters and recovered about 20 bodies," he added. Bantariza said another 10 rebels were killed on Monday near Kitgum town, 450 km north of the capital, Kampala, when the army attacked a group led by LRA second in command, Vincent Otti. "He was carrying food to Sudan," the spokesman added. "We ambushed them, beat them up and killed 10." Since 2002, the Sudanese government has allowed Uganda to pursue the rebels inside its territory. The LRA has fought the Ugandan government for nearly two decades, ostensibly to replace President Yoweri Museveni's administration with one based on the biblical 10 Commandments. However, the rebel group is best known for its brutality against civilians, tens of thousands of whom they have killed, maimed and abducted. Some 1.6 million people have been displaced from their homes by the conflict. The UN estimates that the LRA has abducted more than 20,000 children to fight in its ranks or serve as porters and sex slaves. Talks to end the rebellion have achieved very little progress over the year, mainly due to the mistrust between the two parties. The mediators maintain, however, that the talks were still on course. The Ugandan government has a three-pronged approach to fighting the LRA: military means, peace talks and immunity from prosecution for rebels who surrender to the government. Museveni has been accused, however, of preferring the military option, and told IRIN he did not "believe in the magic of the peace talks".
www.alertnet.org 11 Aug 2005 : Uganda’s 'night commuters' live in shadow of fear Nancy Auma, 13, stands by the Boma Ground Night Commuter Centre, which provides shelter for more than 200 children every night. The children come from surrounding villages to escape the threat of abduction by rebel soldiers. AMREF photo PREVIOUS | NEXTNancy Auma, 13, stands by the Boma Ground Night Commuter Centre, which provides shelter for more than 200 children every night. The children come from surrounding villages to escape the threat of abduction by rebel soldiers. AMREF photo PREVIOUS | NEXTEsther Aloyo, 13, has lost both her parents to AIDS. She has been visiting the centre nightly for three years following attacks on her community in Ariyaya Central. AMREF photo PREVIOUS | NEXTMaurice Rackara, 11, is a football fanatic and can be seen every night at the centre kicking around a ball made from old bits of cloth and string. His father was killed in fighting. Background CRISIS PROFILE-What’s going on in northern Uganda? MORE The Boma Ground Night Commuter Centre in northern Uganda’s Gulu town is home to more than 200 children who come from surrounding villages to seek refuge at night, fearing abduction by Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. To date, the LRA has kidnapped more than 20,000 children, so the everyday fear of abduction is real and tangible. Many of the 16,000 or so kids who flood into Gulu after sunset each day walk for over an hour to get there. Many spend their nights in bus stops, churches or on the streets. Those who come to the Boma Ground Night Commuter Centre are looked after by male wardens and female matrons, trained and supported by the Nairobi-based African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF). Every night the staff organise different activities for them, which are both fun and educational. The girls sleep in a large, empty concrete building with a corrugated iron roof and the boys sleep in two large tents. All of them sleep on mats, which they lay out on the floor every night. There are toilets and water points where the children wash every evening and morning. Louise Orton, communications manager for African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF), visited the centre in July and spoke to some of the staff and children. Here are their stories in their own words. *** Nancy Auma, 13, lives with her grandmother in Laliya Dwol, more than an hour away from the centre by foot. Her parents were killed two years ago by rebels. I like coming to the centre to do the dramas. I love doing the plays with my friends. They teach me a lot. They teach us not to fight and to love our friends. And they teach us not to go with boys at an early age, to avoid early pregnancies. They also teach me about the changes we go through, like our breasts growing and menstruation. They make sure that we keep ourselves clean, particularly during menstruation. I like school. I hope that I can build a better life for me in the future. I want to be a nurse so I can better help my people. I get very tired (walking to the school and the centre). I go straight to school from here in the mornings, then back home and then back here. Many people were killed along with my parents. I managed to run away. We had already escaped but we went back to the village and found all the dead bodies. My grandma is looking after me as best she can but she can’t meet all our needs. I eat porridge in the morning here. And I eat at school at 1pm and I bring some back to eat here later. Esther Aloyo, 13, has been coming to the centre for three years, making the hour-long walk from her home in Ariyaya Central. I come here because of the war. The rebels attacked my community at Ariyaya Central. So I come here to protect myself from the rebels. I wasn’t there but they burnt my guardians (her father’s sister and her husband). My parents both died of HIV/AIDS. My father died when I was nine years old and my mother died a year later. I don’t know if I’m HIV-positive. I haven’t been tested yet. I have five brothers and four sisters. One older brother, who’s 15, was abducted by the rebels. He has been gone for two years. He was with two other boys who were killed straight away. We heard news that he was the escort of a rebel who is believed to have surrendered but he is not back yet. I have new guardians but they don’t have any money. And they want to chase me from the home. They want us to go somewhere else. Sometimes they give us food and sometimes they don’t. They say: Who are we to ask for it? Sometimes we borrow food from children here. I go to school. I am in senior class 1. I am learning many subjects, including chemistry, physics, biology, politic education, history, music, maths, geography, English and fine art. Political education is my favourite subject because I like learning about the government, the people and their relationship. It also teaches us what’s happening outside our country. I’d like to continue in school but I don’t know if it’s going to be possible with my guardians. They say that me and my sister have to get married as soon as possible. There’s nothing I can do. Our property was destroyed by rebels. No-one pays my school fees at the moment. My brother goes to talk to the school. He’s a soldier so sometimes he has money to pay the fees. When my father died my mother went home and after she died my brother sold the land. He used the money to get us here and used the rest to pay for school fees and clothes. Sometimes I feel sick or just generally weak. On Saturdays we work in the fields from morning until sunset and that’s hard. We are growing sweet potatoes and they’re not ready. When they are, the guardians will sell most of them. Maurice Rackara, 11, is a football fanatic and can be seen every night at the centre kicking around a ball made from old bits of cloth and string. I’m from Laliya Dwol, which is a village one and a half hour’s from the night centre and I go back there. My mother has rented a place in town but there’s not enough room for me there. I live there with some of my brothers and sisters. My father was killed in the war a long time ago. Four of my brothers also come here. We come because of the war – out of fear of being abducted. When I come here to sleep I feel protected from the rebels. My friend Vincent was abducted. He was taken to the bush but he escaped and came back. He said life there was very hard. They always had to walk very long distances. And they had nothing to eat. They walked long distances without any water. The leaders kept beating and punishing them. War is very bad. A lot of people are being killed. People are having to run away from home and squeeze into small houses in town. Whatever you leave behind is always looted. I’m in the fourth year at school. I started very late. When my father died my family couldn’t afford to send me to school. Not all my older brothers and sisters went to school because there wasn’t enough money. I’m trying extra hard to catch up. Maths is my favourite subject. When I grow up I’d like to be a lawyer because they earn a lot of money. I like coming to the centre. I enjoy the dramas, which I take part in. I have learnt a lot from them. I have learnt how cholera affects people and how to prevent it. I have learnt how to prevent getting HIV/AIDS. I go back to Laliya Dwol most days. Me and my brothers and sisters go back there to farm and then we come back here. I eat once a day with mum. We normally have either grains, beans, vegetables or posho (maize). I’ve had malaria about five times. I had to go to hospital to get treated. Janet Abalo has worked as a matron at the centre for two and a half years. She works there four to five days a week. I wanted to do something to assist these children so I took part in the training required to work here. Many of the children who come here have lost their parents and they have nobody. We are now like their parents. Before this I was doing community work. I’m not married. I lost my partner. He fell sick when we were displaced and we couldn’t get any assistance. He had stomach trouble because we couldn’t get enough food to survive on. I’m now looking after six children, five grandchildren and six orphans on my own. The orphans belong to my brother and sister who died of HIV/AIDS. We all survive on the little I get. This war has to end. We need the peace back. And then these children can go back to their families. So many have been abducted. And most of them have died. Gladys Akanyo, 14, has been coming to the centre for two years. She is from Kabalopon, which is an hour’s walk away from the centre. I come here because we fear the rebels. If they find people they kill them. I like the activities, especially the dramas about life skills. We learn how to prevent ourselves from getting serious illnesses like cholera and scabies. I’ve also learnt how to stitch tablecloths and baskets. I also go to school with my brother and three sisters. We go home after school but we come back here as it’s not safe. And my parents can’t afford to rent in town. We have green vegetables for supper and then I take beans or posho (maize) to eat at school. I get tired of walking day in day out. But we are safe as we walk in a group. Walter Banabas, 21, has worked as a warden at the centre for two years. These children are so important. It’s not their desire to come here but they need to be secure and protected. We have to show our love to them. We have become their parents these days. Life in Gulu is difficult. There’s lots of displaced people and that has meant a lack of job opportunities for many people. It’s difficult to find enough food to eat. Renting is expensive and, like many people here, I’m looking after lots of children. I’m from Lacor. Rebels attacked that area so much. A brother and a sister of mine were abducted. And we have heard nothing. The situation is so unpredictable. We struggle to get by little by little. Christine Ocero, 25, was abducted by rebels and held for 10 years. She has recently escaped and is staying in Pabo Internally Displaced People’s Camp, where AMREF has a bore hole and 40 water points. I was abducted in 1994. I had gone to church to pray. After one month, they took me to Sudan and I had been there ever since, until I managed to escape. It was difficult. At one point I was shot in the thigh. Many people were injured. Two people died. I don’t know who shot me. Both sides (the LRA and the UPDF) were firing. Some of the (LRA) leaders were good. Some of them were bad. They kept telling us that the government was killing everybody. Kony (the leader of the LRA) says that he hears from the spirits. And what he predicts sometimes happens. People believe it comes from the spirits. The reason he’s fighting is because he thinks that all the members of the UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Force, the national army) are homosexual. He said that he’s coming out of the bush in 2006. He said that he doesn’t know whether or not it’s going to be by force. God knows how many people were dying. Every other day people were being attacked. And we knew that if we escaped we would be killed, either by the government or the LRA. But I got to the point where I just wanted to go home. I had a small baby, Amoro. When we finally managed to escape the baby was four years old. I gave birth when we were on the move as the UPDF was chasing us. One woman delivered the baby and the other removed the placenta using a razor blade. She tied the iumbilical cord using a thread. The father was a fighter for the LRA. I was given to him as a “wife” after two weeks. He sometimes beat me, when I didn’t listen to his instructions. He was very old. Finally I escaped. People were firing and we just made a dash for it. The UPDF found us and took us to town. I arrived back here in May of this year. I’m happy that I’m free at last. But I have a lot of difficulties. My parents died and I don’t have an older brother or sister. I don’t have a house. I’m trying to rent a house if the government could help me. But at the moment I’m staying with my uncle. There’s nothing I can do. I want to get land so I can start and do a small something for me and the baby. The home is very risky. I could be killed because I escaped. My husband comes from this area. I discovered that we are relatives but I haven’t spoken to his side of the family. I haven’t tried. It’s too difficult. I never went to school. My parents died when I was young.
Global GuluWalk for the Invisible Children of Northern Uganda on October 22, 2005 See also: 10 Easy Steps to Organize a GuluWalk in Your Community Every night in northern Uganda, 50,000 children between the ages of three and seventeen walk by themselves up to ten miles from their homes to the relative safety of town centers, where they sleep on sidewalks, under verandas, and in makeshift tents. These children walk in order to avoid being abducted and forced into soldiering or sexual slavery by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army. For nearly two decades, the war in northern Uganda has raged on with children as its primary victims. Yet the crisis remains forgotten by the rest of the world. On October 22 and during the preceding week, we will walk that these children are forgotten no more! Walk with us, and together with the children, we will raise our voices for peace. We beg for the LRA to put down its arms, for the Government of Uganda to take protection of civilians seriously, and for the global community to recognize the gravity of the crisis and to respond accordingly. Walks will take place in cities worldwide, ranging in distance from 4-8 miles. In solidarity with night commter children in Uganda, most walks will include sleeping outside after the walk as an encouraged component. Cities registered so far include Boston, Washington DC, Toronto, Vancouver, Philadelphia, London, Kampala, Gulu, and many more! Call on the U.S. and global community to make peace in northern Uganda a priority, and organize a GuluWalk in your community today! VISIT GULUWALK.COM TO LEARN MORE! Updates and organizing materials coming soon. Uganda Conflict Action Network www.ugandacan.org
ICG 17 Aug 2005 Zimbabwe's Operation Murambatsvina: The Tipping Point? With its brutal slum and street clearance campaign "Murambatsvina", Zimbabwe's governance has reached a low point which it is now almost impossible for its neighbours to ignore, despite the reluctance until now of African governments and institutions to be openly critical. The recent UN report has exposed the regime's brutality and confronted the international community, not least elsewhere in Africa, with its responsibility to protect the people of Zimbabwe. International action is essential, not only urgent measures to help deal with the humanitarian consequences of the mass evictions and forced displacement, but also longer range ones to deal with the fundamental governance problem. Real reform requires efforts on three parallel tracks: maintenance of overt international pressure, support for building internal political capacity and, above all, active regional diplomacy to facilitate political transition. Crisis Group reports and briefing papers are available on our website: www.crisisgroup.org
BBC 19 Aug 2005 Living in fear after Harare evictions By Justin Pearce BBC News website, Zimbabwe In the first of his series following an undercover trip to Zimbabwe, Justin Pearce reports that the evictions of slum-dwellers in the capital, Harare, are continuing, despite an international outcry. Demolitions have continued in the last few weeks The skin on the young child's face is cracked and blistered from exposure to the wind and the cold nights. "We stayed outside without shelter, until we started to build shelters," his mother, Beatrice explains. They were evicted on 28 July from the Porta Farm settlement on the edge of Harare and transported to Hopley Farm on the opposite side of the capital. Beatrice, her husband and their three children were among the estimated 10,000 people who were dumped without food, shelter or water in Hopley Farm, which was set up in the latest phase of the government's crackdown on dwellings that the authorities say are illegal. The government says it intends to turn Hopley Farm into a permanent settlement, and has promised basic building materials. The dwellers were moved to Hopley Farm shortly after the visit to Harare by UN envoy Anna Tibaijuka, who issued a report sharply critical of the government's Operation Murambatsvina [Drive Out Rubbish]. The government has said that evictions have been suspended but in Harare, there are signs that the authorities have no intention of stopping, despite the international outcry. Demolitions continue In the Epworth suburb, black crosses painted on the walls of houses mark the houses that are still awaiting demolition. While the earlier demolitions were carried out with little or no prior notice, the painting of black crosses indicates that some of the houses have been given a temporary reprieve thanks to a court ruling that the demolitions did not follow the proper procedures. We can't even pray. The moment we gather together we are called by the police Joan, 48 Hopley Farm resident "When the first demolitions were done they were challenged by some people. The law says you must give three months' notice and a reason. Now they have been given notice for 30 September," a Zimbabwean humanitarian worker told the BBC News website. In one neighbourhood alone, 2,000 houses are said to have been condemned. Nevertheless, demolitions continued well into the month of August, with the residents getting little or no notice. "Houses were demolished last week. It continued after the envoy [Dr Tibaijuka] left," the aid worker added. "All this happened the week before last," said one elderly landlady, indicating the pile of rubble in her back yard where she had previously rented rooms out to lodgers. Evicted twice The eviction from Porta Farm has left Beatrice and her neighbours bewildered, since they had been instructed to settle there following an earlier round of evictions in the early 1990s when the government decided to clean up Harare's townships ahead of a Commonwealth conference and a visit by Queen Elizabeth II. This woman lost all her income after the evictions "They said: 'You have been building where you are not allowed', but they were the ones who took us to Porta Farm in the first place," Beatrice said. While at Porta Farm, Beatrice had a job at a paper-making project that had been set up by foreign donors. All that came to nothing when the bulldozers moved in. "The project, the building and our equipment were destroyed," she said. Beatrice no longer has an income, and her husband is also unemployed. "My oldest daughter was at school, but she has been out of school since the clean-up operation started." Aid barred International humanitarian staff say the government barred them access to Hopley Farm for 10 days after the settlement was established. This meant that humanitarian assistance was late in coming, a delay that proved fatal in at least one case. Some children have become ill from being exposed to the elements "We got tanks of water from Unicef [on 12 August]," says Joan, 48. "Previously we had been taking stagnant water from the river. Some people have been complaining of stomach problems, and there is no clinic. "Someone died - a young woman with two children. The children are now with their grandparents, who don't have the means to look after them," Joan says. Clean water, blankets and foodstuffs are now starting to arrive, but residents say the government is using the donor aid for its own ends. "The government welfare department is interfering," says Miriam, 45. "They say the food is from them but it's really from the donors." Fear The camp remains under constant surveillance. I was unable to gain access to the site, but interviewed residents in a safe location. "Right now we are living in fear. We are living with guards and police in plain clothes, and all sorts of people we don't know," Joan says. Authorities had initially obstructed aid efforts to Hopley Farm "Any vehicle from a church or non-governmental organisation is not allowed in. We can't even pray. The moment we gather together we are called by the police. "Every time we go to get firewood we are rounded up. The place is almost a desert. We are cooking by burning maize stalks and leaves," Joan says. "Right now they are putting fear in us," Miriam adds. "They are beating people up at night. They are saying if you do anything mysterious we'll remove you or beat you up." All names in this piece were changed to protect interviewees.
BBC 20 Aug 2005 Secret film of Zimbabwe 'squalor' Watch secret footage Amnesty International has released a secretly-shot film from Zimbabwe, showing what it says is the squalid aftermath of Harare's slum clearances. The clearances have left about 700,000 people without their homes or livelihoods, according to UN estimates. The human rights group said its film showed people made homeless and then dumped at an informal site. The images, shot in August, depict a makeshift camp and people queuing up for water at the site near Harare. Amnesty said people there had to cope with shortages of food and clean water. The site may have housed up to 2,000 people, it said. Evictees living in fear But the organisation said it feared the problem could be widespread, urging the government to say whether other areas like the site shown on the film existed in other parts of the country. The government in Zimbabwe describes its drive as an urban renewal campaign designed to cut crime and curb illegal development. It says last month's UN report - which said a total of 2.4m people had been affected in some way - is biased and exaggerated. 'Secretly dumped' Amnesty said the film was shot at Hopley Farm on the outskirts of Harare on 4 August and then smuggled out of the country. It said the images showed people who lost their homes during Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Trash) and who were initially taken to the so-called transit camps. But the organisation said that such camps in Harare and also Bulawayo were closed following the damning UN report. The government of Zimbabwe is compounding suffering and human rights violations by attempting to hid the most visible signs of internal displacement Audrey Gaughran Amnesty International "The people who had been in those transit camps were taken under cover of darkness and dumped at various rural areas in the country," Amnesty International researcher Audrey Gaughran said. "They were left in most cases with no shelter, no food, no access to sanitation and little or no access to clean water. "Rather than confront the massive humanitarian crisis that its actions have created, the government of Zimbabwe is compounding suffering and human rights violations by attempting to hid the most visible signs of internal displacement," she added. Ms Gaughran said that since the footage was shot, aid groups had been able to persuade the government to grant them access to the Hopley Farm site.
BBC 24 Aug 2005 Zimbabwe's unwanted 'foreigners' By Justin Pearce BBC News website, Zimbabwe In the third part of his series following an undercover trip to Zimbabwe, Justin Pearce talks to Zimbabweans who have lost their citizenship, years after their parents or grandparents went there from neighbouring countries. The children of non-Zimbabwean parents have lost their citizenship It takes 10 minutes to walk from the dirt road, to the place in the bush where about 30 people are camped out. "They didn't know where to put us, because we have no rural home," one woman explains. "Our grandparents came from Malawi." In the wake of the government's crackdown on illegal buildings and unlicensed traders, Zimbabweans of foreign parentage are finding themselves in a particularly difficult situation. The seven families living in the bush on the edge of Bulawayo have been there since their homes in the Killarney informal settlement were destroyed by the police in July. Some people were not even aware they were classified as aliens Human rights activist While thousands of Zimbabweans who can trace their ancestry to a Zimbabwean rural village are being transported to the countryside, those whose parents or grandparents were immigrants are left in limbo. "To say every Zimbabwean has a rural home is not true," says Alouis Chaumba, head of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe. "Some are the grandchildren of people who came here during the Federation." Migration In the 1950s and early 1960s, Zimbabwe - then Southern Rhodesia - was part of a federation with Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi). People from those countries, as well as from neighbouring Mozambique, migrated to seek work - many of them on white-owned farms - in the more developed Southern Rhodesia. They and their children became integrated into Zimbabwean society, and most acquired Zimbabwean citizenship. But a change in the citizenship law shortly before the 2002 presidential elections meant that being born in Zimbabwe no longer automatically conferred nationality. Zimbabweans who had one or both parents born outside the country were reclassified as aliens, unless they formally renounced claims to foreign nationality. Although most observers believe the law was designed to disenfranchise whites, it also affected the status of Zimbabweans who have roots in other African countries. "Some people were not even aware they were classified as aliens," one human rights activist says. The loss of citizenship has made the future still less certain for those who have lost their homes, particularly the younger generation. Stranded Among the older people who can remember life in another country, some feel that the best option is to go back to where they came from. "I have been working here since 1953, first as a domestic cook," says Jose, an elderly Mozambican whose home in Killarney squatter camp was destroyed two months ago. Only the oldest people still have links with neighbouring countries "In 1970 the man I worked for left the country. After that I made a living by fishing - and then in 1984 I moved to the dump site, where business was much better." He is referring to Ngozi Mine, a dumping ground outside Bulawayo where many Killarney residents scratched out a living by recycling rubbish. "Some of my relatives went back to Chimoio, in Mozambique. I would like to go back - but I don't have the money or a passport," Jose says. "I would be so thankful if I could go back." But most of the so-called aliens have spent all their lives in Zimbabwe and have lost contact with their roots in neighbouring countries. No options "I was born in Harare - my parents are from Mozambique," says Patience, the 23-year-old mother of two young children. "My father came from Mozambique in 1956." The youngest have nowhere else to go She and her 19-year-old brother had been living in the Porta Farm settlement on the edge of Harare, which the government destroyed in July. From there, some people were trucked back to villages; others were dumped in the Hopley Farm resettlement area on the opposite side of the capital. For two weeks, the police denied access to humanitarian agencies who tried to bring in the food and clean water that the settlement lacked. "For those of us who had no rural home, the only option was to go to Hopley Farm," Patience says. All names in this piece were changed to protect interviewees
NYT 28 Aug 2005 Language Born of Colonialism Thrives Again in Amazon By LARRY ROHTER SÃO GABRIEL DA CACHOEIRA, Brazil, Aug. 23 - When the Portuguese arrived in Brazil five centuries ago, they encountered a fundamental problem: the indigenous peoples they conquered spoke more than 700 languages. Rising to the challenge, the Jesuit priests accompanying them concocted a mixture of Indian, Portuguese and African words they called "língua geral," or the "general language," and imposed it on their colonial subjects. Elsewhere in Brazil, língua geral as a living, spoken tongue died off long ago. But in this remote and neglected corner of the Amazon where Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela meet, the language has not only managed to survive, it has made a remarkable comeback in recent years. "Linguists talk of moribund languages that are going to die, but this is one that is being revitalized by new blood," said José Ribamar Bessa Freire, author of "River of Babel: A Linguistic History of the Amazon" and a native of the region. "Though it was originally brought to the Amazon to make the colonial process viable, tribes that have lost their own mother tongue are now taking refuge in língua geral and making it an element of their identity," he said. Two years ago, in fact, Nheengatú, as the 30,000 or so speakers of língua geral call their language, reached a milestone. By vote of the local council, São Gabriel da Cachoeira became the only municipality in Brazil to recognize a language other than Portuguese as official, conferring that status on língua geral and two local Indian tongues. As a result, Nheengatú, which is pronounced neen-gah-TOO and means "good talk," is now a language that is permitted to be taught in local schools, spoken in courts and used in government documents. People who can speak língua geral have seen their value on the job market rise and are now being hired as interpreters, teachers and public health aides. In its colonial heyday, língua geral was spoken not just throughout the Amazon but as far south as the Paraná River basin, more than 2,000 miles from here. The priests played by Jeremy Irons and Robert de Niro in the movie "The Mission," for example, would have communicated with their Indian parishioners in a version of the language. But in the mid-18th century, the Portuguese government ordered the Jesuits out of Brazil, and the language began its long decline. It lingered in the Amazon after Brazil achieved independence in 1822, but was weakened by decades of migration of peasants from northeast Brazil to work on rubber and jute plantations and other commercial enterprises. The survival of Nheengatú here has been aided by the profusion of tongues in the region, which complicates communication among tribes; it is a long-held custom of some tribes to require members to marry outside their own language group. By the count of linguists, 23 languages, belonging to six families, are spoken here in the Upper Rio Negro. "This is the most plurilingual region in all of the Americas," said Gilvan Muller de Oliveira, director of the Institute for the Investigation and Development of Linguistic Policy, a private, nonprofit group that has an office here. "Not even Oaxaca in Mexico can offer such diversity." But the persistence and evolution of Nheengatú is marked by contradictions. For one thing, none of the indigenous groups that account for more than 90 percent of the local population belong to the Tupi group that supplied língua geral with most of its original vocabulary and grammar. "Nheengatú came to us as the language of the conqueror," explained Renato da Silva Matos, a leader of the Federation of Indigenous Organizations of the Rio Negro. "It made the original languages die out" because priests and government officials punished those who spoke any language other than Portuguese or Nheengatú. But in modern times, the language acquired a very different significance. As the dominion of Portuguese advanced and those who originally imposed the language instead sought its extinction, Nheengatú became "a mechanism of ethnic, cultural and linguistic resistance," said Persida Miki, a professor of education at the Federal University of Amazonas. Even young speakers of língua geral can recall efforts in their childhood to wipe out the language. Until the late 1980's, Indian parents who wanted an education for their children often sent them away to boarding schools run by the Salesian order of priests and nuns, who were particularly harsh with pupils who showed signs of clinging to their native tongue. "Our parents were allowed to visit us once a month, and if we didn't speak to them in Portuguese, we'd be punished by being denied lunch or sent to sit in a corner," said Edilson Kadawawari Martins, 36, a Baniwa Indian leader who spent eight years as a boarder. "In the classroom it was the same thing: if you spoke Nheengatú, they would hit your palms with a brazilwood paddle or order you to get on your knees and face the class for 15 minutes." Celina Menezes da Cruz, a 48-year-old Baré Indian, has similar memories. But for the past two years, she has been teaching Nheengatú to pupils from half a dozen tribes at the Dom Miguel Alagna elementary school here. "I feel good doing this, especially when I think of what I had to go through when I was the age of my students," she said. "It is important not to let the language of our fathers die." To help relieve a shortage of qualified língua geral teachers, a training course for 54 instructors began last month. Unicef is providing money to discuss other ways to carry out the law making the language official, and advocates hope to open an Indigenous University here soon, with courses in Nheengatú. And though língua geral was created by Roman Catholic priests, modern evangelical Protestant denominations have been quick to embrace it as a means to propagate their faith. At a service at an Assembly of God church here on a steamy Sunday night this month, indigenous people from half a dozen tribes sang and prayed and preached in língua geral as their pastor, who spoke only Portuguese, looked on approvingly and called out "Hallelujah!" But a few here have not been pleased to see the resurgence of língua geral. After a local radio station began broadcasting programs in the language, some officers in the local military garrison, responsible for policing hundreds of miles of permeable frontier, objected on the ground that Brazilian law forbade transmissions in "foreign" languages. "The military, with their outdated notion of national security, have tended to see língua geral as a threat to national security," Mr. Muller de Oliveira said. "Língua geral may be a language in retreat, but the idea that it somehow menaces the dominance of Portuguese and thus the unity of the nation still persists and has respectability among some segments of the armed forces."
Toronto Star 12 Aug. 2005 www.thestar.com Trying to understand genocide CAROL GOAR There could scarcely be a grimmer way to spend a summer vacation than to study the worst atrocities of which humanity is capable. Yet every August, top students from around the world come to the University of Toronto for a two-week course called Genocide and Human Rights. Its aim is to equip young scholars to do what no generation has yet achieved: turn the words "Never Again" into a reality. Since the world made that solemn vow in 1948, it has failed to prevent ethnically motivated slaughters in Cambodia, Burundi, Bosnia, Iraq and Rwanda. It is now watching impotently as thousands of Darfuris are murdered in western Sudan. This year's class, which holds its final session today, is a fascinating group. There are three Rwandans, two of whom lost parents in the genocide of 1994. There is a Tanzanian lawyer who has set up a voluntary organization to train human rights monitors. There is an Iranian expatriate, struggling to understand how people can turn on their neighbours. There are grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and great-grandchildren of Armenians whose families were almost wiped out in the massacre of 1915. And there are Canadian and American students, searching for a way to reconcile what they've learned with the butchery they see in the world. What they share is a willingness to look squarely into the face of evil and an impatience with stock answers. Let me take you into their classroom earlier this week. Maj. Brent Beardsley, who served as personal staff officer to Maj.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire in Rwanda, has just delivered a harrowing account of the near-extermination of the nation's Tutsi minority. Eric Markusen, an American sociologist who served on a human rights panel interviewing Darfuri refugees, is comparing the two African tragedies. But the students are restless, troubled, tired of listening. Markusen points out that the West has paid more attention, devoted more resources and learned more about the atrocities occurring in Darfur than in any previous genocide. "The U.S. and U.N. have gone in and done investigations during the time of killing," he says. A hand shoots up. "What good is an investigation if there's no action?" asks Simon Maghakyan of Colorado. Markusen politely acknowledges the importance of the query and presses on, talking about the role Rwanda played in alerting the world to the crisis now unfolding in Sudan. But he is interrupted again. Lisa Ndejura, a Montrealer born in Rwanda, wants practical guidance. "When we talk among the youth, we feel terrible that we're not doing more," she said. "I want to know how we can do things at the community level." Markusen's presentation soon turns into a free-for-all, with students asking tough, unanswerable questions: Is a black life worth less than a white life in the eyes of the international community? Is it worse to ignore a genocide or to study it and not stop it? Is the use of deadly force justified in protecting innocent people? No one minces words. The debate is stimulating, unflinching and ultimately inconclusive. The lack of tidy solutions does not bother Greg Sarkissian, president of the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, which launched the program in 2002. "It is designed primarily to raise awareness of the most gross violations of human rights," he says. "People thought there would never be another Holocaust, but the same thing keeps happening and the world is barely aware of it. More than 69 million people have been killed in various genocides. "It shouldn't just be the responsibility of the victims and their descendants to stop these heinous crimes," says Sarkissian, who lost many relatives in the Armenian genocide. "We want to produce a generation of scholars that will understand the warning signals of genocide, talk about the issue and convince governments that it is in our national interest to intervene before genocides take place." The students live together in a U of T dormitory. They form friendships across racial and geopolitical lines, talk about traumas most outsiders could barely imagine. "One of our goals is to turn that emotional energy into an intellectual force," Sarkissian says. Although Ndejura finds it draining to talk about death from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., she is glad she came. "These are questions that have haunted me for a long time," the Rwandan immigrant says. "It's a relief to talk about them." As the segment on Rwanda and Darfur ends, Roger Smith, director of the program, leaves the students with one last thought: "A genocide is not an accident. It is a choice. It occurs because human beings make it happen and let it happen." (Further information is available at http://www.genocidestudies.org)
Haaretz.com 17 Aug 2005 Canadian lawyer slammed over Jewish conspiracy claims By Sheldon Gordon MONTREAL - The Quebec Bar Association is mulling disciplinary action against a prominent lawyer who argued before the country's Supreme Court that Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler was part of a Jewish conspiracy to have his client deported. Guy Bertrand, a lawyer in Quebec City, was representing a Rwandan political exile, Leon Mugesera, whom the Canadian government had been trying for 10 years to deport for alleged incitement of Hutu extremists during the Rwandan genocide. In November 2004, Bertrand filed a brief with the court alleging that Cotler had colluded with the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) to prevent an unbiased and impartial ruling in Mugesera's case. Last month, the court upheld Mugesera's deportation and issued a rare condemnation of the lawyer's tactics. The justices said Bertrand's arguments "include anti-Semitic sentiment and views that most might have thought had disappeared from Canadian society, and even more so from legal debate in Canada." The Supreme Court's rebuke seems to have left Bertrand feeling offended rather than chastened. "I was crucified in public," he told a news conference. He added, "I am not going to hide the truth because an ethnic group is powerful. There are people who have maneuvered to get Mr. Mugesera deported, and it appears that they are Jews. This has nothing to do with their ethnicity. It's their behavior that I condemn." The Bar Association is expected to decide this month whether to hold disciplinary hearings on the matter, said its spokeswoman, Sylvie Berthiaume. Casper Bloom, vice president of the executive of the Canadian Jewish Congress, Quebec Region, said he would like the Quebec Bar Association to suspend Bertrand "for a matter of months, more for the message it would send than for the damage" to his livelihood. Bloom, who is a former president of the Montreal Bar Association, said that Bertrand's tactics "were an outrage to the Jewish community and to our profession at the same time." In the controversial brief, Bertrand accused Cotler of conspiring with the Canadian Jewish Congress to appoint Judge Rosalie Abella to the top court in August 2004. Bertrand contended that Cotler, a former president of the CJC, had supported the deportation as a private citizen and that the Congress lobbied for it. The brief also alleged that Cotler has close ties with the judge's husband, historian Irving Abella, also a past president of the CJC. Bertrand said in his brief that Cotler's failure to recuse himself from the judicial appointment process "can only lead a well-informed observer to conclude that unfortunately, when you are powerful, rich and influential like the Congress, for example, you can infiltrate the court through political and judicial lobbying." The lawyer alleged that Cotler deliberately "worked behind [Mugesera's] back to have him returned to Rwanda, all of this so that the minister can use the court to serve his interests and those of his friends." Although Abella withdrew from the Mugesera appeal in September 2004, Bertrand contended that the "dice are loaded" against his client and that the Supreme Court could not be impartial in the case. In its ruling last month, the court said that Bertrand's motion to end proceedings against his client was "unprofessional and unacceptable," and said it was "scandalous" to allege that "influential members of the Jewish community manipulated the Canadian political system and the country's highest court for the sole purpose of having Mugesera deported." The high court noted that when the federal government sought leave to appeal the Mugesera case, Cotler had not yet been named justice minister. "The only abuse of process lies at the feet of the respondent Mugesera and Mr. Bertrand," the court said. Bertrand is a well-known, albeit unpredictable, lawyer with a reputation as a defender of freedom of speech. A former advocate of political independence for Quebec, he jumped ship and argued successfully before the Quebec Court of Appeal against Quebec's right to secede from Canada. While this change of heart made him something of a hero to those who want Quebec to remain within Canada, this positive perception has been damaged by his claims of a Jewish conspiracy against his client. The fact that this was believed to be the first time he has employed anti-Semitic rhetoric has led some observers to speculate that his comments may have been a lawyer's tactic rather than an expression of his personal views. "I can't even fathom why he wouldn't know what he was doing was unacceptable," the CJC's Bloom said. "Even if it were intended only as a tactic, he could not have been unaware of the reaction it would provoke." Cotler has declined to comment on the case.
www.canadianchristianity.com 18 Aug 2005 Ride for Darfur ends in Ottawa By Meghan Wood THE RIDE Against Genocide was a 960km bicycle journey to raise awareness of the genocide, starvation and mass rape in the Darfur region of Sudan. The ride began July 11 with John Weiss, a professor at Cornell University in New York, and ended August 7 on Parliament Hill, where the riders presented a petition to members of the Canadian government. "It was an overwhelmingly positive response," said David Kilgour, an independent MP and well-known Christian who hosted the rally. "In each of the 23 communities where the riders stopped, no one refused to sign the petition." The petition urges the Canadian and American governments to undertake a "far stronger and more rapid use of our joint military assets in the pursuit of security and peace in Darfur." It mentions the monitoring of NATO support of the African Union (AU) Mission, to give weekly reports on the progress of planning, transportation, communication and supply activities, and calls the current timetable for these updates "unacceptable." In addition, the petition calls for a mandate for any troops deployed to allow them to protect civilians and aid workers with all means necessary, as well as for secure passage and enactment of the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act in America and Canada. This act would impose harsh sanctions against the Sudanese government, strengthen the arms embargo on Sudan, and send a U.S. presidential envoy to the region, according to the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Centre in Boulder, Colorado. "One thing we uncovered was the attitude that 'Africa's always a mess' and 'what are we going to do anyway?'" Weiss told CC.com. "We were able to answer this, tell them what is really happening." The European Union and NATO have agreed to bring in 5,000 more AU troops and provide them with better equipment and training, with Canada pledging the most funds. "We come with a special sense of urgency because, as 10,000 people a month die in the refugee camps or in hiding, the Canadian people are being led down a primrose path," Weiss told the crowd at the rally, "a path lined not with primroses but with the bodies of Darfuri individuals and the severely wounded bodies of the cultures that made them distinct peoples, brightly colored tiles in the human mosaic." "If you look at the New Testament, it's always 'nations,' plural," he said from Ithaca this week. "There's a plural nature of the human fabric and it needs to be preserved." Weiss told the crowd not to be fooled by the assurances of various world leaders that the genocide will end by September 30. "We are told that the matter is now . . . of humanitarian aid: deliver enough food, drill enough wells, handle the disease, pacify the bandits," he continued. Kilgour said this isn't enough. The attacks on villages may have died down, but only for lack of villages left to overtake, he said. "Many people have fled to Chad or are in camps, one of which had 235,000 women and children in it," he said. "But still, people are dying of starvation and women are being raped." If drivers of non-government organizations' (NGOs') vehicles cannot get through to the camps because of current rains, 100,000 people a month could die. "The Janjaweed [militia] have threatened to kill the drivers," Kilgour said. "They control everything that goes in and out of the camps." Weiss is making what he calls a "solidarity film" to take to the refugee camps in Darfur and Chad to show that North Americans and Europeans know about their situation and to show them what the countries who care about them look like. "[Refugees] think they are alone and that no one cares," said Weiss. "All they know are their own problems. We try to show them what America and Canada looks like and then how people are caring about them from different places in the world." Several hundred people showed up to the rally, emceed by the Darfuri-born refugee Tradji Mustafa. Speakers included H.E. Cissy Helen Taliwaku, high commissioner of Uganda; Fuad Didic, counsellor at the Bosnian Embassy; Rabbi Reuven Bulka; Canadian Friends of Sudan founder Justin Laku; and other members of the African and NGO communities. Don Cheadle, the Oscar-nominated star of Hotel Rwanda, nnounced August 9 the launch of Live For Darfur, a series of dedications around the world aimed at encouraging aid for Sudan. Co-chaired by Cheadle and fellow Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Amistad) for the Washington, DC-based Save Darfur Coalition, Live For Darfur involves celebrities and non-celebrities making 'live' dedications for their performances or appearances to the people of Darfur. Coldplay, Carlos Santana, Destiny's Child, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Goo Goo Dolls, Queen Latifah, Savion Glover and Saul Williams have all answered Cheadle's call for song dedications at their concerts around the world.
AP 30 Aug 2005 New York judge lets Talisman Energy genocide case proceed despite warnings from Canada, U.S By LARRY NEUMEISTER Associated Press Writer August 30, 2005, 10:33 PM EDT NEW YORK -- A judge on Tuesday allowed a church's lawsuit alleging that a Canadian energy company aided genocide in its pursuit of oil in Sudan to proceed despite efforts by the United States and Canada to have it dismissed. In the lawsuit, Talisman Energy Inc. and the Sudanese government are accused of working on a plan for the security of oil fields as Talisman hired its own advisers to coordinate military strategy with the government. The oil giant is accused of participating in ethnic cleansing, confiscation of property, kidnapping and rape. U.S. District Judge Denise Cote noted Tuesday in her ruling that documents from the U.S. and Canadian governments did not suggest that the civil case against Talisman and the Republic of the Sudan would hinder U.S. relations with Canada or the Sudan. She ruled after reviewing a diplomatic letter from the Canadian Embassy calling the case an "infringement in the conduct of foreign relations by the government of Canada" that would have a "chilling effect" on Canadian firms in the Sudan. The judge said Canada had indicated that once the Sudan peacefully resolved its internal disputes and Canadian trade support services resumed, Canadian companies would avoid joining Sudan's economic revitalization "out of fear of U.S. courts." "Even giving substantial deference to the Canada letter, Talisman has not shown that dismissal of this action is appropriate," the judge wrote. "Finally, the United States and the international community retain a compelling interest in the application of the international law proscribing atrocities such as genocide and crimes against humanity." The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, was brought in 2001 by the Presbyterian Church of Sudan on behalf of current and former residents of southern Sudan against the Calgary-based oil company. The lawsuit alleges that there were regular meetings involving Talisman, Army intelligence and the Ministry of Energy and Mining in which Talisman mapped out areas intended for exploration and discussed how to dispose of civilians in those areas. It says Talisman and the government of Sudan "willfully participated in a campaign of ethnic cleansing, including extrajudicial killing, war crimes, forcible displacement, military bombings and assaults on civilian targets, confiscation and destruction of property, kidnapping, rape and enslavement against the non-Muslim, African Sudanese population living in and near the oil concession areas." Lawyers for the plaintiffs and for Talisman Energy, which stopped doing business in the Sudan more than two years ago, did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment Tuesday. The U.S. Department of State in a letter told the court it took no position on the lawsuit's merits but shared the Canadian government's concerns. The judge said the Department of State said it might be proper to dismiss a case when another government protests that the U.S. proceeding interferes with its foreign policy in pursuit of goals that the United States shares. The U.S. letter said the United States "has been working actively and directly with the government of Sudan and with the international community for several years to bring an end to the decades-old conflict in southern Sudan and to bring relief to the many thousands of victims of that conflict." The letter also advised that the Alien Tort Claims Act, used as a basis for the lawsuit, should only apply to disputes affecting the rights of aliens within the United States for acts that take place in this country, the judge said. The obscure 1789 law was originally enacted to prosecute pirates but has been used since 1980 by Holocaust survivors and relatives of people killed or tortured under despotic foreign regimes. More recently, it has been invoked against multinational corporations, including ChevronTexaco over alleged abuses in Nigeria and Exxon Mobil over alleged problems in Indonesia. The judge acknowledged that the U.S. Supreme Court has said federal courts should give serious weight to the executive branch's view of a case's impact on foreign policy. But she said that there were few cases similar to the Talisman case and that it differed from a case in which large corporations were accused of using cheap labor in South Africa to sell products including technology and oil. That case was tossed out. In the Talisman case, she said, the plaintiffs allege that the company "knowingly assisted Sudan in perpetrating a campaign of genocide and crimes against humanity, not that Talisman merely transacted business in and with Sudan." She said the South African Apartheid cases resulted from state executive policies encouraging investment whereas the Talisman claims "involve knowing assistance in the commission of grave human rights abuses, including jointly planning attacks on civilians and supporting and facilitating those attacks." She said she ruled as she did despite Canada's claim that the lawsuit will interfere with its foreign policy and handicap its efforts to promote peace in the Sudan. "The allegations in this lawsuit concern participation in genocide and crimes against humanity, not trading activity," she said. She said the contents of Canada's letter suggest "a lack of understanding about the nature of the claims" in the lawsuit.
NYT 19 Aug 2005 Bush's Aid Cuts on Court Issue Roil Neighbors By JUAN FORERO BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Aug. 18 - Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide. The United States has since cut aid to some two dozen nations that refused to sign immunity agreements that American officials say are intended to protect American soldiers and policy makers from politically motivated prosecutions. To the Bush administration, the aid cuts are the price paid for refusing to offer support in an area where it views the United States, with its military might stretched across the globe, as being uniquely vulnerable. But particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, home to 12 nations that have been penalized, the cuts are generating strong resentment at what many see as heavy-handed diplomacy, officials and diplomats in seven countries said. More than that, some Americans are also beginning to question the policy, as political and military leaders in the region complain that the aid cuts are squandering good will and hurting their ability to cooperate in other important areas, like the campaigns against drugs and terrorism. In testimony before Congress in March, Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, the commander of American military forces in Latin America, said the sanctions had excluded Latin American officers from American training programs and could allow China, which has been seeking military ties to Latin America, to fill the void. "We now risk losing contact and interoperability with a generation of military classmates in many nations of the region, including several leading countries," General Craddock told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Most of the penalties, outlined in a law that went into effect in 2003, have been in the form of cuts in military training and other security aid. But a budget bill passed in December also permits new cuts in social and health-care programs, like AIDS education and peacekeeping, refugee assistance and judicial reforms. Though the amounts are a pittance for Washington, their loss is being sorely felt in small countries. In an outburst, in June, President Alfredo Palacio of Ecuador told a Quito television station that he would not yield to Washington. "Absolutely no one is going to make me cower," he said. "Neither the government, nor Alfredo Palacio nor the Ecuadorean people need to be afraid." His nation has one of the region's largest American military bases and has become increasingly important as a staging ground for American surveillance of everything from the cocaine trade to immigrant smuggling. Still, Ecuador has lost $15 million since 2003 and may lose another $7 million this year. When the International Criminal Court's 18 judges took their oaths in March 2003, the tribunal was backed by 139 countries and heralded by supporters as the most ambitious project in modern international law. It was intended to replace the ad hoc tribunals addressing atrocities in Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. This year the Security Council, with the United States abstaining, gave the court approval to prosecute cases related to atrocities in Darfur, Sudan. Many legal scholars say it is unlikely that Americans would ever face the court because its focus is on the most egregious of war crimes, like systematic genocide, and the court is intended to try cases from countries where the judicial systems are unable or unwilling to handle such cases. There are also safeguards that would give the United States' own military and civilian courts jurisdiction over Americans. But Bush administration officials, including some at the State Department, assert that the court could still move against American officials. "The exposure faced by the United States goes well beyond people on active duty and it includes decision-makers in our government," said a high-ranking State Department official who was authorized to speak about the policy but only if he was not identified. "We're not hallucinating that our officials are at risk." "The idea is that the court gets to second-guess if it's not satisfied," the official added. Bruce Broomhall, director of the center for the study of international law and globalization at the University of Quebec in Montreal, disagrees. He noted that for the court to act against a suspected war criminal, the prosecutor must satisfy the judges that the host country was "shielding the individual concerned from criminal responsibility." Still, Mr. Broomhall said, there is "a glimmer" of an argument behind the administration's concern. "If the crime is sufficiently organized and intense and a crime against humanity - if you get past that first threshold - it's potentially a crime within the jurisdiction of the court," he said. Others, like Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch, acknowledge that there are countries that may want to use the court "as a political battering ram." "What's in dispute," said Mr. Dicker, director of international justice for the group, "is what kinds of safeguards are necessary to prevent these kinds of distortions. The United States has adopted a solution that's inimical to the rule of law, that says because we're the most powerful state in the world, we'll create a two-tiered system of justice." George Nethercutt, a former Republican congressman from Washington State whose amendment calling for cuts in economic aid was approved in December, acknowledged that the possibility an American would face charges was small. But he said that pushing countries to sign the agreements did not "seem like a disproportionate expectation" because aid is not an entitlement. Opponents in the American Congress, though, call the administration's efforts part of a "hyper-precautionary" policy that does more harm than good. "We're constantly pressuring other countries, and it comes to a point where it provokes a backlash and hurts us, hurts us militarily, hurts our commercial relationships, hurts us politically," said Representative Bill Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat. Administration officials note that more than 100 immunity agreements have been signed. But supporters of the court say that most have been signed by poor countries heavily dependent on Washington for aid; NATO allies like Britain and Germany have been exempted from the penalties, as well as other wealthy countries like Australia and Japan. In about two-thirds of the countries that have signed, legislative bodies have not ratified the agreements, raising questions about their legality, said the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, which supports the tribunal. In all, 53 countries, from Kenya to Ecuador to some European nations, have declined to sign the agreements, saying Washington's effort undermines their commitment to the court. Not all have been penalized and some, like Paraguay and Dominica, later yielded to American pressure and signed agreements. In Latin America the immunity agreements, and the sanctions, have been especially hard to swallow for left-leaning governments who have come to power by rejecting American-backed economic policies. "It's a contradictory policy and it's ungrateful," said Luis Hernández, a retired Ecuadorean Army colonel who was educated at the United States Army War College. American budgetary records show that Uruguay, whose new left-leaning government has vocally declined to sign an immunity agreement, has lost $1.5 million since 2003. Costa Rica has lost about $500,000, and unstable Bolivia has lost $1.5 million. In addition, the United States International Military Education and Training program, which pays for Latin American military officers to study in the United States, has cut its rolls by 770 officers a year, from an average class of 3,000, military officials said. Most nations that have lost money are cash-strapped, like Dominica, a Caribbean island which lost $400,000 and was unable to operate its only Coast Guard boat for two years. That meant no drug patrols or searches for fishermen lost at sea, said Crispin Gregoire, Dominica's ambassador to the United Nations. "We were reeling from the impact of lost aid, and our economy was not in the greatest shape," he said. "The government decided to yield and we ended up signing." Peru, a close Bush administration ally, has lost about $4 million "You feel the cuts, yes," said Congressman Luis Ibérico, president of the committee that oversees military spending and the antidrug campaign. "These are small amounts, but nevertheless, they're necessary to support our military personnel." Painful as the cuts are, many countries say they will not budge before American pressure. "We will not change our principles for any amount of money," said Michael I. King, the Barbados ambassador to the Organization of American States. "We're not going to belly up for $300,000 in training funds." Many officials argue that existing treaties already protect American soldiers. The new agreements go too far, they say, by adding protections for ordinary Americans, like tourists, and non-American contractors who work for American companies. Here in Colombia, where the American military has rotated 8,000 soldiers in the past five years as part of its largest mission in the region, a new immunity agreement two years ago has upset some officials. Colombia already had a 1974 treaty protecting American soldiers from criminal charges. "These treaties say that everyone in Colombia must respect the law, Indians, Chinese, the Colombians," said a Colombian senator, Jimmy Chamorro, who considers them illegal. "Everyone except the Americans."
washingtonpost.com 25 Aug 2005 Colombian Rebels Massacre 14 Civilians By ANDREW SELSKY The Associated Press Thursday, August 25, 2005; 5:21 PM BOGOTA, Colombia -- Rebels massacred 13 coca harvesters and their cook, making them the latest victims of a feud with paramilitary gangs to control Colombia's lucrative cocaine trade, authorities said Thursday. Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, gunned down Flor Maria Gutierrez and 13 men as she was serving them lunch Wednesday on a farm near the village of Puerto Valdivia, where the northern Andes flatten onto a sweltering plain. The killings in northwest Colombia starkly underscore a bloody truth generally overlooked in the ruthless drug trade: that drug-related killings sometimes occur even before the narcotics are made, and that the victims are often those on the lowest rung of the drug-trafficking business. In this case, the victims worked on one of the many farms in a corner of Antioquia state where coca flourishes. The men were harvesters who strip coca bushes of their leaves, grind them up and then add chemicals to make coca paste _ a key step in producing cocaine. But they had earned the rebels' wrath by selling their product to a right-wing paramilitary faction, said Antioquia Deputy Gov. Jorge Mejia. "It's a coca-growing area _ an area permanently being fought over by the guerrillas and the paramilitaries," Mejia told local Caracol radio. In June of last year, 34 coca harvesters were tied up and killed by the rebels for the same reason. That massacre occurred near La Gabarra, in northeast Colombia near the Venezuelan border. The aim by the warring factions is to terrify the harvesters and drug lab workers into selling their product exclusively to them. The illegal groups then have it processed into purified cocaine and export the drugs abroad. The peasant farmers, known as campesinos, who grow the coca are often caught in the middle. Gutierrez, 49, left a poor neighborhood in the city of Medellin two years ago after being offered a steady salary to cook meals for the coca harvesters in the area, 220 miles northwest of Bogota. She was serving lunch to the field hands when rebels of the FARC's 36th Front barged in, threatened them with their weapons and then opened fire, the Medellin newspaper El Colombiano reported. The rebels made sure they got the job done by shooting each victim again point-blank, Mejia said. Colombian army counterinsurgency troops were deployed to the region and clashed with the rebels, killing three, said Gen. Jorge Daniel Castro, chief of the Colombian National Police. Colombia is the world's biggest producer of cocaine, producing an estimated 440 tons last year.
BBC 20 Aug 2005 Ecuador's army tackles protesters Dozens have been injured in the unrest Ecuador's army has stepped up efforts to quell protests which have crippled production in the oil-rich Amazonian region of the country. The army says it has regained control of a number of installations, and the state oil firm says it is slowly resuming production. Earlier, the defence minister resigned. His replacement has authorised the army to use force to end the unrest. Protesters want some of Ecuador's oil money to be invested in the region. The authorities say they will not negotiate until the protests cease. Ecuador's state oil company says it is resuming crude oil production which was suspended on Thursday, following five days of protests in the two provinces. 'Worse than war' The government declared a state of emergency on Wednesday and ordered soldiers to restore order in Sucumbios and Orellana. Army officials say troops have retaken a number of oil installations, airports and roads which have been occupied by hundreds of demonstrators. They want more of the country's oil wealth to be spent on infrastructure and new jobs. Ecuador is the fifth biggest oil producer in South America. The army has used tear gas to disperse some of the protesters amid clashes that have left dozens injured. As troops took control of installations, state-owned Petroecuador said it was slowly resuming oil production following Thursday's stoppage. The events have sent world oil prices higher and would require Ecuador to ask Venezuela for a loan of crude oil to keep up exports, the economy minister said. The economic impact was "worse than any war," Energy Minister Ivan Rodriguez said. Officials estimate oil production will not return to normal until November. Key resource Correspondents say the unrest is the worst faced by President Alfredo Palacio since he came to power in April. They say he is under pressure at home to abandon the free-market policies of his ousted predecessor, Lucio Gutierrez. Not all sections of Ecuadorian society have benefited equally from oil revenues. The traditionally dominant Spanish-descended elite gained far more than the indigenous peoples, who make up a large proportion of those who live in poverty. Correspondents say revenues from the country's existing Amazon oil reserves are critical in keeping the country's economy afloat. Oil sales account for about a quarter of Ecuador's GDP. According to the president of the country's Petroleum Industry Association, oil revenues have been put towards paying for both state sector salaries and a significant amount of the national debt.
washingtonpost.com 14 Aug 2005 A Toxic Trade-off By Daphne Eviatar Sunday, August 14, 2005; B01 Pressing for passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement at a White House news conference in May, President Bush made the case that a vote for CAFTA was a vote for democracy: "By transforming our hemisphere into a powerful free trade area, we will promote democratic governance, human rights and economic liberty for everyone," he said. But lawmakers who voted to pass CAFTA in late July may not have realized that a part of the trade agreement threatens to do just the opposite. That's because of a little-understood legal clause included in CAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and other, already existing bilateral investment treaties. Designed to protect foreign investors against unfair treatment by a signatory state, these "investor-state arbitration" provisions actually hand foreign businesses powerful rights that trump the interests or desires of local citizens. Take the example of the current bid by U.S.-Canadian corporation Glamis Gold Ltd. to mine the ore in Guatemala's Western highlands. Local community and church leaders have vigorously protested the company's plans to dig an open-pit gold and silver mine in the department of San Marcos. They contend that the mining process, which uses cyanide to extract gold from ore, could leach deadly toxins into the surrounding water supply. After construction began in 2004, the indigenous poor-- who make up most of the region's population and depend on scarce local water -- began protesting the mine. They continued for months into this year, even though the government dispatched the military to quell the protests and local leaders reportedly received death threats. In response to these health and safety concerns, the government of Guatemala could decide either to ban the cyanide process or to require the company to compensate surrounding communities for their risk. The vice president has said that the government wouldn't do anything the people don't want. But stopping the Glamis project now could be costly: Under CAFTA, the government of Guatemala could be liable for tens of millions of dollars. How can a multinational corporation that objects to local environmental, health or safety regulations sue a national government? That license is provided under NAFTA. Once CAFTA is signed, it will provide the same right. In each case, a provision of the agreement allows a foreign corporation to sue a national government for money damages if it believes that the actions of the federal, state or local government in a given country are discriminatory, violate international law or can be considered -- directly or indirectly -- an expropriation of the company's investment. If complying with an environmental regulation makes a project no longer worth the cost, a company can claim that its investment has been expropriated by the state. Whether the company is in the right won't be decided by an independent judge, however. Rather, it will be decided by a panel of three private international arbitrators chosen by the parties involved. These arbitrators are often corporate lawyers, who, in another suit, could be representing the investor. Affected citizens are not parties to the case. The government's right to protect the water supply in Guatemala, then, could be decided by British or American lawyers, for instance. And it's not just a matter of a powerful multinational corporation challenging a struggling Central American country. In fact, Glamis, the company that's digging the mine in Guatemala, has already brought a similar legal action against the United States. In 2003, Glamis filed for arbitration under NAFTA, claiming that environmental and historic preservation regulations passed in California after the company had received a federal permit to dig there amount to an expropriation. The regulations, championed by then-governor Gray Davis in response to strong local protests, require that open-pit gold mines be backfilled and returned to their pre-mined condition after the ore has been depleted. Claiming that the cost of backfilling would destroy the future economic value of its project, Glamis brought a $50 million claim against the United States. (The matter hasn't been resolved yet.) Defenders of arbitration provisions claim that critics' concerns are overblown, and emphasize that, unlike Canada and Mexico, the United States has yet to lose one of these cases. Still, many legal experts argue that the provisions violate state and national sovereignty: They allow foreign investors to make an end-run around the federal courts, which usually rule on the legitimacy of public laws. As Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote after NAFTA's adoption: "Article III of our Constitution reserves to federal courts the power to decide cases and controversies, and the U.S. Congress may not delegate to another tribunal 'the essential attributes of judicial power.' Whether our Congress has done so with respect to tribunals created by different treaties and agreements is a critical question." John Echeverria, executive director of Georgetown University's Environmental Law and Policy Institute, puts it more starkly: "Congress is virtually sleepwalking through a revolutionary, and likely highly destructive, alteration of the American constitutional system of government." Echeverria is referring to the threat to U.S. sovereignty when, for example, the Canadian division of Glamis challenges the legitimacy of a California law by suing the United States. With agreements like CAFTA between rich and poor countries, the sovereignty question also has another, more sinister twist: Although these treaties protect corporations against the vagaries of unpredictable governments, they can also make it easier for corrupt national leaders to ignore the interests of their own populations and sign lucrative contracts with foreign corporations. This is a longstanding problem with extractive industries like mining and the countries that depend on them. And this sort of corruption is one reason why poverty in those countries has soared in recent decades. According to the United Nations, in 1981, 61 percent of people in mineral and energy exporting countries were living on less than $1 per day; by 1999, that number was 82 percent. Of course, companies need some protections when they invest. If Guatemala suddenly nationalized its mining industry, for example, seizing all foreign-owned mines, foreign corporations would understandably be aggrieved. But enacting environmental, health or safety regulations is a different matter. The United States Supreme Court has made clear that even if a regulation significantly reduces the value of a company's investment, the government needn't compensate that loss. Environmental regulations are part of the cost of doing business. It's far cheaper to dump toxic waste into a river than to dispose of it safely, but we still want our government to impose the cost of safe disposal on companies creating the hazard. "The mining industry spews almost half of all toxic emissions in some countries, in the process ruining local agriculture and causing a substantial boost in respiratory disorders and raising cancer rates," according to a recent, critical report on investor arbitration rights written by Oxfam America and Friends of the Earth. Mining will only encourage real development, they conclude, if it's properly regulated. Increasingly, people in developing countries are demanding just that. And it's a sign of progress. If democratically elected governments enacted laws in response to these legitimate concerns, that would be another important step; in fact, it'd be exactly what we want "developing" countries to do. And it's what the United States government claims to be encouraging. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of trade and investment agreements that hand foreign investors surprisingly broad rights, local governments are losing the power to protect their people, environment and economy. Investor protection clauses "essentially restrict the ability of governments to impose public interest or environmental regulations on corporate operations," says Keith Slack, an extractive industries expert for Oxfam America. And this hinders the very sort of development that would, in the long run, make poor countries not only better places for people to live, but far better places for American corporations to do business. These arbitration provisions also highlight the inconsistency of the Bush administration's approach to sovereignty under international law. According to many legal experts (including lawyers now bringing these claims), the significance of investor-state arbitration provisions, which wasn't clear at the time NAFTA was enacted under the Clinton administration, in the last few years has become so. The Bush administration has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gases and the treaty creating the International Criminal Court on the grounds that these treaties threaten U.S. sovereignty. But when it came time to push for Congressional support of CAFTA and other trade pacts that compromise U.S. sovereignty for the benefit of big business, the administration's concerns about the integrity of our legislative and judicial system had disappeared. The debate over these sorts of agreements isn't over whether or not to have "free trade." All trade is regulated -- just a quick glance at the 22 chapters of CAFTA alone makes that plain. The conflict is over which rules will make the liberalization of trade benefit both foreign investors and local villagers. A trade agreement that binds the hands of local governments for the benefit of foreign corporations will only undermine democracy -- and in the long run, global development itself. Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Daphne Eviatar is a contributing editor at the American Lawyer and a 2005 fellow with the Alicia Patterson Foundation.
www.newsday.com 28 Aug 2005 'Play for Peace' soccer match turns into massacre BY REED LINDSAY SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT August 28, 2005 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- The crowd applauded when camouflaged and black-hooded police officers entered a packed soccer match in the hillside slum of Martissant on Saturday afternoon a week ago. They assumed the officers were there to provide security. Suddenly, the officers ordered the 6,000 spectators to the ground of the walled, dirt field. Gunshots rang out and people began to run for the only exit. Police began firing wantonly, witnesses said, and outside, civilians armed with machetes and more police officers attacked those trying to flee the chaos. Some people were shot and killed by police, according to witnesses and family members; others were hacked to pieces by the machete-wielding civilians. The "Play for Peace" soccer match, financed and sponsored by USAID, an independent agency that provides economic, development and humanitarian assistance in support of U.S. foreign policy goals, was to help plan for disarmament by steering young people away from gang violence. Instead, it became a scene of mayhem in a country rife with human rights and criminal abuses. 'They came to massacre us' The killings came less than a month after two other, similarly grisly machete attacks that also appeared to take place with police complicity. The incidents, all in poor neighborhoods of Port-au-Prince considered bastions of support for exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, have fueled fears in this nation with a history of such violence of state-sponsored terror before national elections in November. "They came to massacre us," said Nesly Devla, 20, showing a three-inch, stitched-together gash on his forehead and another on his hand from a machete. "Everyone was on top of each other. There was nowhere to run. God saved me." Anne Sosin, a human rights observer at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said she had confirmed the deaths of at least eight people and said all the deaths may not have been reported yet. Police spokeswoman Gessy Coicou said six bodies were brought to the morgue but declined to talk further about the incident except to say police would be investigating. The killings have drawn increased scrutiny of a nearly 15-month-old United Nations peacekeeping mission that critics say has done little to curb human rights abuses or provide incentives for gangs to disarm. "These killings set a dangerous precedent," Sosin said. "How can you explain police accompanied by individuals armed with machetes massacring spectators at a soccer match with UN troops standing by literally across the street? This event needs to serve as a wake-up call for the international community, which for more than a year has failed to respond to grave violations of human rights in Haiti." The United Nations has a permanent station across from the soccer field, but it is unclear if officers were there that day. UN human rights officials say they are investigating the killings. Since taking power after Aristide was escorted from the country by U.S. soldiers amid an armed revolt in February 2004, the U.S.-backed interim government of Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has spurned dialogue with the former president's supporters. Leaders of Aristide's Lavalas party have been imprisoned without being formally charged or brought before a judge, and the police force has carried out brutal crackdowns in Port-au-Prince's slum areas. A setback for communities Meanwhile, armed Aristide supporters, in addition to armed groups of other political affiliations and non-political criminal gangs, have clashed with police and UN peacekeepers and carried out a wave of kidnappings and other crimes in the capital. The poor, as is often the case in the hemisphere's most destitute nation, has suffered the brunt of the violence. The recent machete killings have been portrayed by UN and government officials as a reaction from angry residents who have resorted to spontaneous vigilante justice after becoming fed up with gang violence. "We are worried about the cases of lynchings in recent weeks," said Jean-Francois Vezina, Canadian spokesman for the UN Civilian Police, which is mandated with training and monitoring its Haitian counterpart but was absent the day of the Martissant killings. Witnesses at the soccer match say the killings there were neither spontaneous nor carried out with popular support. They say they recognized some of the machete-wielding civilians as criminals who had been driven out of the adjacent neighborhood of Grand Ravine by residents and are now working as "attaches," or paid police informants and assassins. "According to the people we work with in the community, this was not popular justice. They are saying this was a planned aggression, an attack to destabilize the community," said Philippe Branchat, an employee of the International Organization for Migration who manages the Haiti Transition Initiative, the USAID-program that sponsored the soccer game. Branchat said the killings represent a setback in efforts to gain the trust of gang members and ordinary residents of Martissant and Grand Ravine, which is a crucial first step toward disarmament. He said unlike other slum areas in the capital, these neighborhoods have been relatively free from violence since November. "We're not involved in violence and disorder. We don't shoot at police, we don't kidnap people, we don't rape women ... This is a very peaceful area," said Luckner Innocent, a Grand Ravine resident who went to the soccer match with his nephew Wasnay Alcidas, 21, and found him at the morgue two days later. Innocent said he saw police shooting in Alcidas' direction and then didn't see his nephew again until he viewed the body -- shot six times in the stomach and hacked with a machete. "The police were working in concert with the same guys doing kidnapping, terrorizing people, raping women. Those are the ones [with the machetes]," he said.
AP 18 Aug 2005 Nicaragua Indians Seek Probe of Killings By FILADELFO ALEMAN MANAGUA, Nicaragua -- Miskito Indian leaders on Thursday asked government and human rights investigators to probe allegations that at least 150 of their people were killed under Nicaragua's Sandinistas during the 1980s. The leaders said that the country's independent Permanent Human Rights Commission should investigate and the government prosecute those who carried out the killings and burned houses, destroyed crops and slaughtered livestock. The complaints stem from clashes between forces for the Sandinista government _ which was trying to create a new, leftist society throughout Nicaragua after overthrowing dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 _ and the English-speaking Indian peoples of the Caribbean coast who were trying to establish greater autonomy. Disagreements escalated to armed clashes and forced relocation of thousands of Miskitos. Sandinista responses grew heavier as some Indians joined the U.S.-backed rebellion against the leftist government. Former Sandinista Foreign Minister Tomas Borge said the complaint had been inspired by the U.S. government as a way to denigrate the Sandinista party ahead of the 2006 presidential election. "Otherwise, why now after more than 20 years?" he said when contacted by telephone. The Miskito leaders denied political motivation and complained in a prepared statement that "no government to this point has decided to investigate these events and the local and international human rights groups have ignored us." The permanent commission is a respected private organization that has spoken out against abuses by Nicaraguan regimes. Borge said both sides had committed abuses and said he had punished Sandinista troops who committed them. One of those who filed the complaint, Mario Flores, said five of his relatives had been killed by the army around Christmas 1982. "Our demand is against the Nicaraguan army for the crime of genocide, so that justice is done and so that the relatives of the victims are compensated," the Miskito statement said. See Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)Report on the Situation of Human Rights of a Segment of the Nicaraguan Population of Mikito Origin, Inter-Am. C.H.R., OEA/Ser.L./V.II.62, Doc. 10 rev. 3 (1983). http://www.cidh.oas.org/countryrep/Miskitoeng/toc.htm
www.caribbeannetnews.com 17 Aug 2005 Human rights court orders compensation for Suriname massacre by Ivan Cairo Caribbean Net News Suriname Correspondent Wednesday, August 17, 2005 PARAMARIBO, Suriname: The Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights has ordered Suriname to compensate the survivors of a 1986 massacre during the country’s internal war. The ruling was made public on Monday. The Surinamese government was ordered to pay nearly US$3 million split between 130 survivors. Each will receive US$13,000 for material and moral damages. The country will also have to pay the legal cost of the process. In November 1986, more than 40 innocent men, women and children were killed when Suriname’s army troops stormed the maroon village Moiwana in the eastern part of the country near neighboring French-Guyana. According to witnesses at the time, the troops rounded up the villagers, mostly women, children and elderly men, in a search for suspected rebels. It is alleged that in the raid victims, even pregnant women, who were trying to flee into the surrounding woods were shot at point blank range or killed by throwing hand grenades into their huts. The government is also ordered to establish a US$1.2 million development fund for health, housing and educational programs for Moiwana residents and investigate and prosecute those responsible for the deaths. Since the bloodbath no one has been prosecuted or punished for the attack on the village. Most of the survivors who were forced to flee into exile in French Guiana or the Surinamese capital Paramaribo never returned to the village. Traumatized survivors in French Guiana also refuse or are scared to return to Suriname. The army, then led by military strongman Desi Bouterse, never accepted responsibility for the murder of the civilians. On May 25 Bouterse was elected for a second consecutive term as member of parliament but will probably later this year stand trial for another atrocity. He is the main suspect for the execution of 15 opponents of his regime in December 1982. According to the court, Bouterse’s administration obstructed investigations into the Moiwana massacre. In 1990 police inspector Herman Gooding who was in charge of a criminal investigation on this matter was killed a short distance from the headquarters of the Military Police. It is alleged that Gooding was killed after discussing matters regarding an ongoing drugs investigation with the Military Police. His murder was never solved. Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, justice minister Siegfried Gilds said that the government is assessing the ruling in order to decide what actions should be taken. It is not decided yet whether Suriname will appeal the ruling or not. Since the government has not had time yet to thoroughly study the court's decision, Gilds won’t speculate on the outcome. If Suriname comes to a position where it has to pay the US$4.2 million, “as government we will have to find a way to materialize that,” said the minister of Justice and Police. Gilds further noted that the perpetrators will be prosecuted, since the government in collaboration with parliament has extended the limitation period for prosecuting atrocities such as the Moiwana murders. According to the minister there will be an investigation as soon as the investigations and trial of the December 1982 murders is over. The Surinamese justice system doesn’t have the capacity he said to do both investigations simultaneously.
The Pueblo Chieftain 15 Aug 2005 Grateful descendants visit site of massacre Thanks to new law, land will now be protected By Anthony A. Mestas EADS — As Joe Big Medicine spoke Thursday about his Indian tribe, the dark sunglasses he wore reflected the brushy landscape where several of his ancestors had been killed in a brutal attack against innocent women and children. Big Medicine and three other Southern Cheyenne Indians slowly walked to the top of a hill overlooking the site of the Sand Creek Massacre, each flush with happiness knowing that the hallowed ground will now be protected. But at the same time, the gnawing reality of the senseless slaughter that occurred in 1864 remained in their souls. In the early morning of Nov. 29, 1864, Col. John M. Chivington led approximately 700 members of the Colorado militia in a surprise attack on the camp, killing about 150 people — mainly women, children and the elderly. The visiting Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians said they experienced both pain and pleasure while touring the site. “I feel a sense of sorrow every time I visit this site. I think of everything that happened here, but now there is hope because this land will be protected forever and the memory of our ancestors will carry on,” said Big Medicine, a member of the Southern Cheyenne Tribe of Oklahoma. “A lot of people were killed here, but the fact that we are standing here today is proof that there were survivors — this is a big deal for all of us,” he added in a soft voice. Big Medicine was accompanied by Steve Brady and Otto Braided Hair of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and William Pedro of the Southern Arapaho Tribe. Brady, who traveled from Lame Deer, Mont., said that it felt good to be back at the site. “I am a fourth-generation descendant of the Sand Creek Massacre. My great-grandmother and great-grandfather were here during the attack, and they survived it. It’s a special place for us, and I am happy that legislation to make this an historic site has passed,” Brady said. Last week, President Bush signed the legislation creating the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. The bill had been approved last month by the U.S. House and Senate. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., transfers title to 1,465 acres of land from the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes to the Park Service. Musgrave visited the site on Colorado’s eastern plains, 170 miles southeast of Denver, for the first time Thursday. “I have a real heart for history even when it is something that is so incredibly painful and shameful, but we need to acknowledge what happened here. It’s a very incredible thing to stand up here on this hill and overlook all of this,” Musgrave said. “This is the first bill that I have sponsored that has been signed into law, and I am very grateful to have carried on what others have done before me. It’s a great feeling to know that you could be in Congress and do something like this,” she added. Retired Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Colorado Republican and Northern Cheyenne chief, made it one of his top priorities to establish the memorial. Brady, who testified for the legislation before the Senate every time it came up, credited Campbell for his effort. “We really want to thank former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell for all the work he has done. He got this project up and running, and I am happy that Allard and Musgrave have carried on with his vision,” Brady said. Descendants of the Arapaho and Cheyenne Indians killed at the site already are making big plans. Big Medicine said that he and others plan to return some of their ancestors’ remains to the site. He said the tribes know of the remains of seven people killed there and have taken possession of three. The remaining four will soon be collected. Big Medicine said the remains will be stored at Bent’s Old Fort National Historic Site outside La Junta in October. The remains will be there until a site is selected to place them at Sand Creek. “We will have a blessing ceremony at the Colorado Historical Society in Denver before we transfer the remains to Bent’s Fort, and then we will have another ceremony at the massacre site when the transfer is complete,” he said. Big Medicine said the Sand Creek Massacre Committee chose to store the remains of their ancestors at Bent’s Fort because it is the nearest National Historic Site. The committee will use a $15,000 National Park Service grant to transfer the remains. Big Medicine and other committee members will personally deliver the remains to Bent’s Fort. Currently, the remains are at the University of Nebraska and the University of Oklahoma. Big Medicine said there is a lot of work left to be done at the site before it is open to the public, including construction of an interim visitor center, parking space and fixing the mile-long, winding access road. National Park officials say that once the site is established, some 40,000 people will visit the site each year.
NativeTimes.com 16 Aug 2005 Piscataway man seeks to clarify “inaccuracies” Native American Times guest commentary Rico Newman 8/16/2005 A recent article posted to your site by Jeffrey Ian Ross, Ph.D. dated 8/2/2005 includes several inaccuracies relative to the Maryland Indians; specifically the Piscataway people. I will seek to clarify the arguments of each paragraph. 1 The first paragraph erroneously states two groups are seeking Federal Recognition. Only one group has submitted documentation and that is the Piscataway-Conoy Tribe, which is inclusive of the Piscataway Conoy Confederacy and Sub tribes, and the Maryland Indian Heritage Society. The Piscataway Indian Nation did not participate in this effort in conjunction with or separate from these groups. The Piscataway Indian Nation headed by Billy Tayac has pursued State Recognition. The PIN petition has been buried by state bureaucratic procedures for years under a State appeal of an Administrative court decision to allow a limited review of that petition. 2 The public should know that taxpayer money, earmarked for Indian Education in Maryland, does not benefit Maryland’s Indigenous people. The state has a litmus test to determine who is Indian and to benefit from these funds for programs that promote Indian culture via programs, books, events, etc. As Maryland does not recognize any of its Indigenous groups, who benefits from these funds? The Dept of Business and Economic Development helps new minority owned businesses by setting aside a certain contracts with State Agencies. State Regulations define who is a minority. However, American Indians must be Federal or State recognized. American Indians from across this country that are recognized by either the Fed. Government or their home state, come to Maryland as any other minority can and start a business and are eligible for contracts. But not so for Maryland’s first people. Without “official” recognition, Maryland’s first people remain in the socio/economic dustbin. The same holds true for education, health, and other state services taken for granted by other minorities. 3 Native people now suffer an additional stereotype in being spontaneously associated to gaming. Recognition for who you are as American Indians is intentionally aligned with a negative venue as a means to an end; cultural genocide. What other ethnic or racial group is denied their identity if pursuing a legitimate means of economic development? Has Donald Trump, Merv Griffin, or the owners of Las Vegas ‘gaming establishments been denied anything? The Piscataway’s sought recognition when there was not a single casino anywhere outside Atlantic City or Las Vegas. The only dice Indians owned hung from rear view mirrors. Are we psychic? Did we foresee the coming of gaming as means to economic empowerment? The answer is a clear NO. Recognition by the Piscataway was pursued before the state of Maryland had a recognition process. Moreover, the State’s process was the result of Maryland’s Indigenous people glaringly pointing out to State Law Makers the iniquities in services available and not received Maryland Indians. A final note on the matter of gaming, there is this glaring bit of legality called “Indian Gaming Regulations”. Read it and then shut up forever about its indiscriminate association with recognition. There is no “right” to have casinos on a reservation. WE DO NOT HAVE A RESERVATION. Period. 4 The Federal Government changed its criteria thanks to the efforts of former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Proof of being a tribe changed from 1790 to 1900. Indians were not archivist and until the 20th century were not even citizens. Literacy was the exception rather than the rule. Oral history was the means of cultural and historic preservation. Why and for what reason and by whom were they expected to keep written records of their history dating back to 1790? Has anyone checked what the conditions in America were during that period? You, whatever your race or ethnicity, would in all probability have a difficult time “proving” your status to that date. The records relied upon to substantiate the criteria in Maryland’s recognition regulations are State records. They are scant and often missing for extensive periods. Former Governor P. Glendenning’s virulent distaste for gaming was glued to our effort in spite of producing Federal Law that showed the Governor controlled gaming by Indians in a state. Never, that is never, in his two terms did the myriad of staff in the Governors office that reviewed our record over those eight years ever announce our records were insufficient. The now seated Governor, B. Ehrlich, in his “denial” letter to the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs based his decision on the recommendation of his Secretary of Housing and Community Development (after his being in office seven (7) days), who pointed to a “gap” in the historic record. Does the Governor expect birth certificates to be available for Maryland’s Indians between 1790 and 1850, much less for those born before 1790? Are we responsible for and our status the consequence of the States poor records? These same records are what the state insists be used to prove our heritage as our oral history is invalidated as proof. Whether our community splits into as many factions as an atom is irrelevant to the argument of recognition. That is our business and we invite you to mind yours. 5 In 1996, The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs made its favorable recommendation after a five-person panel appointed by the Governors office voted to approve the petition. That body; called the Recognition Advisory Committee, was composed of historians, scientist, and “experts” on Indian matters. There was no requirement that they all vote unanimously for or against the petition, and the final vote was a clear majority. Having considered the “RAC” vote and giving several months of review by the Commission, it made a favorable unanimous vote. The then seated Secretary of Housing and Community Development appointed a three-person “Blue Ribbon” panel comprised of attorneys’, to review the petition and the process from its beginning to its affirmative vote. They approved both the process and its result. After that decision, the Secretary used a reworded portion in the recognition regulations to override their decision, giving the final say on the petition meeting the criteria to that office. As to financial backing for research and hiring genealogist, historians, lawyers, and record keepers, the undertaking is a costly process. The state does not forward assistance in the way of personnel assistance or any financial assistance. It took years to amass the needed documentation. Where do you get the money? We are talking nearly a million dollars. Who has that kind of money? Our benefactor may or may not have had gaming ties, but one thing is clear, on his demise, his successors stopped the support. If they intended to use the tribe as a means to pursue gaming why would they kill the goose that laid the golden egg? Who or what organization can credibly assert none of its associates has gaming ties? And just what are gaming ties? Hey, I buy a lottery ticket from time to time, so I guess I have gaming ties. 6 Governor Robert Ehrlich in a letter to the Commission cited his reliance on a report submitted by his Secretary of Housing and Community Development to deny the petition. A Secretary with a background in Finance and Real Estate being in office all of seven days became a voice to speak on a subject he would not qualify to sit in judgment on with the Recognition Advisory Committee, the Commission or the three person panel appointed by the previous Secretary. To this date, no one has seen any “Academic Research” that supports or proves any contentions about our petition. What Phantom of the Opera is this? If the Governor has such research, why is it hidden? Why is it being proffered ten years after our petition was submitted? Who is the Phantom Scholar and by what rule is this insinuated in the regulations or recognition process at this date? Everyone had opportunity to review and critique the petition, where was this “scholar”? When do we get a chance to see the literary work that supports denying us our identity? Does Gov. Ehrlich have a hidden agenda; like being afraid of someone bringing gaming in the state other than him and his cronies? At least Glendenning was up front with his paranoia. Is second-class citizenship for our children and the coming generations fodder for his political ambitions? 7 Mr. Ross’s inference (stated rather matter-of –factly) that the Piscataway Conoy were attempting to bring slots to the State is a red herring issue often repeated by competing interest. There is a receptive audience just waiting to say “I told you so” and repeat this fallacy as if it was biblical. I do not doubt there are tribal members in each group that would turn down a weekly, monthly, or annual stipend that would make their lives less arduous. But, to say it is the motivating factor for any of the groups seeking recognition is pure bunk. The commission membership is deemed a valid reason the body has no direction and no sense of urgency to resolve Indigenous Indian issues. Many have come on board for what seem alterior motives, and though never substantiated serves to create an atmosphere distracting members from business. Turnover is another problem where too often a quorum was not available to conduct business. This has persisted for years. Now the current Governor for months has failed to appoint members to serve. Frustration is at an all time high, but he will see we bend but will not break. We will be here when he joins the ranks of “Former Governors”. 8 The Bill in question was intended to have the matter of recognition considered by the States Legislators as appointed politicians had hijacked the legislated process that was intended to be conducted by the commission. It was clear that reasons would be found, or created, to deny any form of recognition. The process became politicized, regulations interpreted to suit political ends. 9 I agree with his assessment that an open debate is needed and casinos and gaming should not and are not the cause or result of recognition. Again, read the gaming regulations or stop gaming in any form in the state. 10 Mr. Ross, if you truly want to do service to the Maryland’s Indian people, consider talking to them and digesting all the facts before producing more tainted and misleading material that furthers innuendo and half truths. Rico Newman is a lineal descendant of the Piscataway and enrolled member of the Piscataway Tribe. (Rico.Newman@gmail.com)
www.washingtonjewishweek.com 17 Aug 2005 Students press for action on Darfur by Paula Amann News Editor Two women, generations apart, last week brought the same urgent message to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Polish-born Regina Spiegel, who lost her entire family to Adolf Hitler's Final Solution more than six decades ago, finds stark parallels in today's headlines from Africa. "We are facing a crisis now in Sudan because the world did not learn the lesson of the genocide that was brought during World War II," said the Rockville woman, 79. "Hundreds of thousands of civilians may perish in the western Sudan. Why? Because, only because of their ethnic identity." Rwandan Stephanie Nyombayire, who lost her grandparents and some 100 other relatives to her nation's 1994 mass murders, sees such slaughter repeating itself in Sudan's southwest Darfur region, which she toured earlier this year with mtvU, a campus television network. World observers may quibble over the meaning of genocide, "but when countless women and young girls are being raped, when children's everyday drawings are of dead bodies, when men and women struggle every day to put food in their children's mouths, we must stop the talk and begin the action," said the Swarthmore College student. "We will not and cannot let the words, 'Never again,' continue to be void of meaning." The Jewish grandmother and the Central African student last Friday morning both drew standing ovations from some 300 people attending the "A Call to Action for Darfur: National Student Leadership Conference II." The three-day conference, which took place at both the USHMM and Georgetown University in the District, drew high school, college and university students from across the United States, Canada, Israel, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Participants also heard from eyewitnesses to the Darfur crisis, including former U.S. Marine Brian Steidle, British journalist Julie Flint and John Prendergast, special adviser to the president, International Crisis Group, as well as Ruth Messinger, executive director of American Jewish World Service. At a panel discussion touching on policy, Refugees International president Ken Bacon voiced concern that the U.S. "government has sent very mixed signals and Khartoum has picked this up. Why are they due any respect as long as they're herding refugees into camps in Darfur?" Gayle Smith, a former senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council who negotiated peace accords between Ethiopia and Eritrea and in Rwanda, suggested that the U.S. struggle against terrorism was trumping human rights concerns in Sudan. Urging students to "challenge our government to learn to walk and chew gum at the same time," Smith, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, argued, "We can fight on the battlefield to defeat terrorists and extremists who want to attack the United States, but we don't have to do that ... at the expense of also standing for human rights and justice." Area campuses sent contingents to last weekend's conference, with Jewish students well-represented among the 19 from host Georgetown University and the 10 from George Washington University. GWU rising senior Sara Weisman, 20, helped moderate a panel discussion on history, recent developments and policy related to Sudan. "Just hearing the word genocide was a call to conscience," Weisman said of her involvement in an interview before the conference. "When you grow up going to Hebrew school, learning about the Holocaust and reading Schindler's List, you feel like you're compelled to act; you have to act." Weisman, an international affairs major, estimates that Jewish students make up roughly half of her campus chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur. Indeed, STAND got its start at nearby Georgetown University, where it was co-founded by former Jewish Student Association president Ben Bixby, noted conference organizers. "I feel like Jews very much identify with Sudan because of the memory of the Holocaust," said JSA vice president Julia Stein. This past academic year, her original STAND chapter brought speakers to campus and organized a Thanksgiving fast from luxuries that raised $1,000 for aid to Darfur, said Stein. For the fall, members are planning outreach to area faith groups. Samantha Ritter, 17, of Riverdale, N.J., spent her summer prior to last week at the New Jersey Governor's School of International Studies at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J. After watching Hotel Rwanda, a feature film on the genocide of 1994, this Jewish student joined others in launching a student assembly program on Darfur for high schools across the Garden State. "As well as raising money, we think the most important thing is to raise awareness because there's power in numbers," Ritter said. In his opening remarks, Jerry Fowler, staff director of the Committee on Conscience at the USHMM, addressed the question of why the museum has turned its attention to Darfur, which his committee has identified as a genocide. "The refugees are depending on what we do and the voices we raise to make a difference," Fowler said, adding, "A memorial unresponsive to the future would violate the memory of the past."
JTA 11 Aug 2005 For some Jews, holiday a way to mark genocide, global suffering By Jane Ulman FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. (JTA) -- Last summer Sarah Appleby, then 24, spent part of Tisha B'Av, helping to fingerpaint a large mural with three panels. One panel represented loss, another mourning, and a third rebuilding and renewal. "It was pretty abstract," she said. But she says that experience, in conjunction with other activities, helped her and a group of 11 other Jewish young adult participants in Adamah -- a three- or six-month fellowship at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Falls Village, Conn. -- to find a personal connection to the holiday. Traditionally, Tisha B'Av, which occurs on the ninth day of the month of Av and marks the destruction in Jerusalem of the First Temple in 586 B.C.E. and the Second Temple in 70 C.E., is commemorated by observant Jews who fast, sit on the floor and chant Eicha, or Lamentations. They mourn the loss of the Temple and lament other tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people over the millennia, including the end of the Bar-Kochba revolt in 135 CE, the expulsion from Spain in 1492, and the Holocaust. In recent years, some communities and denominations, including many Reform Jews, have moved away from observances of Tisha B'Av -- which begins this year at sundown on Aug. 13 -- because they believe the Temple is no longer central to Jewish religious life. Other groups, however, such as Adamah, have found ways to infuse the holiday with new meaning and thus increase observance and appreciation for it. "I don't really identify with the loss of the Temple," says Appleby, who chanted Lamentations with her Adamah group on Tisha B'Av evening, "but I like having a day of mourning for Jews to look at things that we've lost and to connect those to personal hard times and current-day difficulties." Those difficulties can include individual anguish such as addiction, societal suffering such as genocide or poverty, or global suffering such as environmental devastation. But all use the same metaphor as a springboard. "The destruction of the Temple may be the most significant symbol in Jewish communal life," says Lori Lefkovitz, the Gottesman Professor of Gender and Judaism at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the director of the Kolot Center for Jewish Women's and Gender Studies, both in Wyncote, Pa. And while she agrees that Tisha B'Av is one of the relatively neglected observances, at least anecdotally, she believes our job is to find ways to recapture its meaning for ourselves. For Lefkovitz and members of her community, the Germantown Jewish Centre, a Conservative synagogue in Philadelphia, that means connecting the holiday to current societal and political issues. Thus, prior to the service, congregants meet for a lecture and discussion on topics that have included Yiddish women's poetry as well as the loss of sacred public space. This year's lecture, presented by Tamar Kamionkowski, the dean of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, will examine different modes of suffering. Afterward, in silence, the 50 or so participants will light candles and move into the darkened sanctuary where they will sit on the dais and chant Eicha, followed by songs of lament. They will then depart in silence. The lecture serves to bond the community. "The ritual then works in the way ritual should work, which is not cerebral but emotive," Lefkovitz says. Ikar, the one-year-old Los Angeles spiritual community led by Rabbi Sharon Brous, will host a traditional commemoration service to give people a sense of awareness of the tragedy of Tisha B'Av. The following evening, Ikar participants, along with members of the egalitarian Shtibl minyan, will view a film about Rwanda and hear a lecture about Darfur in Africa and other crises. Brous plans to hold a "serious, honest, soulful conversation about dealing with the knowledge that so much of the suffering we read about in Lamentations is a reality today for millions of people." For Brous, it's critical that people emerge from the darkness of Tisha B'Av with a real sense of purpose and with a mandate that will guide them in how to act in the world. Daniel Ziskin, the founder and president of Jews of the Earth, also hopes Tisha B'Av will inspire people to act. For the past two years, this non-profit environmental group, established about five years ago in Boulder, Colo., has used Tisha B'Av to increase awareness of the earth's destruction. Last year, at the Boulder Jewish Community Center, at the close of Tisha B'Av, the Israeli-born forest activist Udi Lazimy presented a slide show of forest destruction while Ziskin recited corresponding phrases in English from Lamentations. Afterward, the participants, the majority of whom are unaffiliated, talked about their own sacred places and the impending threats against them. A break fast followed. "There's tremendous cathartic power in a communal mourning ritual," says Kolot's Lefkovitz, who also founded ritualwell.org, a Web site in which she collects and makes innovative, contemporary Jewish ceremonies available. "It is our job to take all these classical observances and find the ways in which we can use them to bring sanctity and perspective to our own lives,'' she adds. See www.ikar-la.org
NYT August 17, 2005 State Dept. Says It Warned About bin Laden in 1996 By ERIC LICHTBLAU WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 - State Department analysts warned the Clinton administration in July 1996 that Osama bin Laden's move to Afghanistan would give him an even more dangerous haven as he sought to expand radical Islam "well beyond the Middle East," but the government chose not to deter the move, newly declassified documents show. In what would prove a prescient warning, the State Department intelligence analysts said in a top-secret assessment on Mr. bin Laden that summer that "his prolonged stay in Afghanistan - where hundreds of 'Arab mujahedeen' receive terrorist training and key extremist leaders often congregate - could prove more dangerous to U.S. interests in the long run than his three-year liaison with Khartoum," in Sudan. The declassified documents, obtained by the conservative legal advocacy group Judicial Watch as part of a Freedom of Information Act request and provided to The New York Times, shed light on a murky and controversial chapter in Mr. bin Laden's history: his relocation from Sudan to Afghanistan as the Clinton administration was striving to understand the threat he posed and explore ways of confronting him. Before 1996, Mr. bin Laden was regarded more as a financier of terrorism than a mastermind. But the State Department assessment, which came a year before he publicly urged Muslims to attack the United States, indicated that officials suspected he was taking a more active role, including in the bombings in June 1996 that killed 19 members American soldiers at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Two years after the State Department's warning, with Mr. bin Laden firmly entrenched in Afghanistan and overseeing terrorist training and financing operations, Al Qaeda struck two American embassies in East Africa, leading to failed military attempts by the Clinton administration to capture or kill him in Afghanistan. Three years later, on Sept. 11, 2001, Al Qaeda struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an operation overseen from the base in Afghanistan. Critics of the Clinton administration have accused it of ignoring the threat posed by Mr. bin Laden in the mid-1990's while he was still in Sudan, and they point to claims by some Sudanese officials that they offered to turn him over to the Americans before ultimately expelling him in 1996 under international pressure. But Clinton administration diplomats have adamantly denied that they received such an offer, and the Sept. 11 commission concluded in one of its staff reports that it had "not found any reliable evidence to support the Sudanese claim." The newly declassified documents do not directly address the question of whether Sudan ever offered to turn over Mr. bin Laden. But the documents go well beyond previous news and historical accounts in detailing the Clinton administration's active monitoring of Mr. bin Laden's movements and the realization that his move to Afghanistan could make him an even greater national security threat. Several former senior officials in the Clinton administration did not return phone calls this week seeking comment on the newly declassified documents. Adam Ereli, a spokesman for the State Department, said the documents should be viewed in the context of what was happening globally in 1996, rather than in the hindsight of events after the Sept. 11 attacks. In 1996, Mr. Ereli said, "the question was getting him out of Sudan." "The priority was to deny him safe haven, period, and to disrupt his activities any way you could," he continued. "There was a lot we didn't know, and the priority was to keep him on the run, keep him on guard, and try to maximize the opportunities to nail him." Before the East Africa bombings in 1998, however, Mr. bin Laden "wasn't recognized then as the threat he is now," Mr. Ereli said. "Yes, he was a bad guy, he was a threat, but he was one of many, and by no means of the prominence that he later came to be." The State Department assessment, written July 18, 1996, after Mr. bin Laden had been expelled from Sudan and was thought to be relocating to Afghanistan, said Afghanistan would make an "ideal haven" for Mr. bin Laden to run his financial networks and attract support from radicalized Muslims. Moreover, his wealth, his personal plane and many passports "allow him considerable freedom to travel with little fear of being intercepted or tracked," and his public statements suggested an "emboldened" man capable of "increased terrorism," the assessment said. While a strategy of keeping Mr. bin Laden on the run could "inconvenience" him, the assessment said, "even a bin Laden on the move can retain the capability to support individuals and groups who have the motive and wherewithal to attack U.S. interests almost world-wide." Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said the declassified material released to his group "says to me that the Clinton administration knew the broad outlines in 1996 of bin Laden's capabilities and his intent, and unfortunately, almost nothing was done about it." Judicial Watch, a conservative legal group, was highly critical of President Clinton during his two terms in office. The group has also been critical of some Bush administration actions after the Sept. 11 attacks, releasing documents in March that detailed government efforts to facilitate flights out of the United States for dozens of well-connected Saudis just days after the attacks. Michael F. Scheuer, who from 1996 to 1999 led the Central Intelligence Agency unit that tracked Mr. bin Laden, said the State Department documents reflected a keen awareness of the danger posed by Mr. bin Laden's relocation. "The analytical side of the State Department had it exactly right - that's genius analysis," he said in an interview when told of the declassified documents. But Mr. Scheuer, who wrote a book in 2004 titled "Imperial Hubris," under the pseudonym "Anonymous," that was highly critical of American counterterrorism strategies, said many officials in the C.I.A.'s operational side thought they would have a better chance to kill Mr. bin Laden in Afghanistan than they did in Sudan because the Sudan government protected him. "The thinking was that he was in Afghanistan, and he was dangerous, but because he was there, we had a better chance to kill him," Mr. Scheuer said. "But at the end of the day, we settled for the worst possibility - he was there and we didn't do anything."
NYT August 19, 2005 Two Illegal Immigrants Win Arizona Ranch in Court Fight By ANDREW POLLACK DOUGLAS, Ariz., Aug. 18 - Spent shells litter the ground at what is left of the firing range, and camouflage outfits still hang in a storeroom. Just a few months ago, this ranch was known as Camp Thunderbird, the headquarters of a paramilitary group that promised to use force to keep illegal immigrants from sneaking across the border with Mexico. Now, in a turnabout, the 70-acre property about two miles from the border is being given to two immigrants whom the group caught trying to enter the United States illegally. The land transfer is being made to satisfy judgments in a lawsuit in which the immigrants had said that Casey Nethercott, the owner of the ranch and a former leader of the vigilante group Ranch Rescue, had harmed them. "Certainly it's poetic justice that these undocumented workers own this land," said Morris S. Dees Jr., co-founder and chief trial counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Ala., which represented the immigrants in their lawsuit. Mr. Dees said the loss of the ranch would "send a pretty important message to those who come to the border to use violence." The surrender of the ranch comes as the governors of Arizona and New Mexico have declared a state of emergency because of the influx of illegal immigrants and related crime along the border. Bill Dore, a Douglas resident briefly affiliated with Ranch Rescue who is still active in the border-patrolling Minuteman Project, called the land transfer "ridiculous." "The illegals are coming over here," Mr. Dore said. "They are getting the American property. Hell, I'd come over, too. Get some American property, make some money from the gringos." The immigrants getting the ranch, Edwin Alfredo Mancía Gonzáles and Fátima del Socorro Leiva Medina, could not be reached for comment. Kelley Bruner, a lawyer at the law center, said they did not want to speak to the news media but were happy with the outcome. Ms. Bruner said that Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva, who are from El Salvador but are not related, would not live at the ranch and would probably sell it. Mr. Nethercott bought the ranch in 2003 for $120,000. Mr. Mancía, who lives in Los Angeles, and Ms. Leiva, who lives in the Dallas area, have applied for visas that are available to immigrants who are the victims of certain crimes and who cooperate with the authorities, Ms. Bruner said. She said that until a decision was made on their applications, they could stay and work in the United States on a year-to-year basis. Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva were caught on a ranch in Hebbronville, Tex., in March 2003 by Mr. Nethercott and other members of Ranch Rescue. The two immigrants later accused Mr. Nethercott of threatening them and of hitting Mr. Mancía with a pistol, charges that Mr. Nethercott denied. The immigrants also said the group gave them cookies, water and a blanket and let them go after an hour or so. The Salvadorans testified against Mr. Nethercott when he was tried by Texas prosecutors. The jury deadlocked on a charge of pistol-whipping but convicted Mr. Nethercott, who had previously served time in California for assault, of gun possession, which is illegal for a felon. He is now serving a five-year sentence in a Texas prison. Mr. Mancía and Ms. Leiva also filed a lawsuit against Mr. Nethercott; Jack Foote, the founder of Ranch Rescue; and the owner of the Hebbronville ranch, Joe Sutton. The immigrants said the ordeal, in which they feared that they would be killed by the men they thought were soldiers, had left them with post-traumatic stress. Mr. Sutton settled for $100,000. Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Foote did not defend themselves, so the judge issued default judgments of $850,000 against Mr. Nethercott and $500,000 against Mr. Foote. Mr. Dees said Mr. Foote appeared to have no substantial assets, but Mr. Nethercott had the ranch. Shortly after the judgment, Mr. Nethercott gave the land to his sister, Robin Albitz, of Prescott, Ariz. The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the siblings, saying the transfer was fraudulent and was meant to avoid the judgment. Ms. Albitz, a nursing assistant, signed over the land to the two immigrants last week. "It scared the hell out of her," Margaret Pauline Nethercott, the mother of Mr. Nethercott and Ms. Albitz, said of the lawsuit. "She didn't know she had done anything illegal. We didn't know they had a judgment against my son." This was not the first time the law center had taken property from a group on behalf of a client. In 1987, the headquarters of a Ku Klux Klan group in Alabama was given to the mother of a boy whose murder was tied to Klansmen. Property has also been taken from the Aryan Nations and the White Aryan Resistance, Mr. Dees said. Joseph Jacobson, a lawyer in Austin who represented Mr. Nethercott in the criminal case, said the award was "a vast sum of money for a very small indignity." Mr. Jacobson said the two immigrants were trespassing on Mr. Sutton's ranch and would have been deported had the criminal charges not been filed against Mr. Nethercott. He criticized the law center for trying to get $60,000 in bail money transferred to the immigrants. While the center said the money was Mr. Nethercott's, Mr. Jacobson said it was actually Ms. Nethercott's, who mortgaged her home to post bail for her son. Mr. Nethercott and Mr. Foote had a falling out in 2004, and Mr. Foote left Camp Thunderbird, taking Ranch Rescue with him. Mr. Nethercott then formed the Arizona Guard, also based on his ranch. In April, Mr. Nethercott told an Arizona television station, "We're going to come out here and close the border with machine guns." But by the end of the month, he had started his prison sentence. Now, only remnants of Camp Thunderbird remain on his ranch, a vast expanse of hard red soil, mesquite and tumbleweed with a house and two bunkhouses. One bunkhouse has a storeroom containing some camouflage suits, sleeping bags, tarps, emergency rations, empty ammunition crates, gun parts and a chemical warfare protection suit. In one part of the ranch, dirt is piled up to form the backdrop of a firing range. An old water tank, riddled with bullet holes, is on its side. A platform was built as an observation post on the tower that once held the water tank. Charles Jones, who was hired as a ranch hand about a month before Mr. Nethercott went to prison, put up fences and brought in cattle to graze. He has continued to live on the property with some family members. But now the cattle are gone, and Mr. Jones has been told that he should prepare to leave. "It makes me sick I did all this work," he said. Ms. Nethercott said she was not sure whether her son knew that his ranch was being turned over to the immigrants, but that he would be crushed if he did. "That's his whole life," she said of the ranch. "He'd be heartbroken if he lost it in any way, but this is the worst way."
www.hiphopdx.com 17 Aug 2005 dead prez, Goapele and Others Fight Genocide Wednesday - August 17, 2005 Verbal Walker The National Hip-Hop Political Convention is planning a benefit concert to address the genocide occurring in Sudan, Africa. The concert, "Mass Transit: The Movement of People Thru Sound" will be held during the Magic Fashion Convention on August 29th at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV: 4505 S Maryland Pkwy) campus in the MSU Ballroom with the doors opening at 5:30pm. The event will cost $15 with all proceeds going to the relief efforts via Africare. The crisis in Sudan has escalated to the point of genocide, and the NHHPC believes something must be done to raise awareness around this issue. This will be the group's first time taking on a project like this, and, to their knowledge, a first time by a Hip-Hop organization to address an international issue outside of the war in Iraq. To put this event on, the NHHPC has partnered with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. (Pi Zeta Chapter) and Africare (the oldest African American charity organization to Africa.) Artists who have donated performances will include: dead prez Immortal Technique Goapele Wordsworth, Oddisee and Asheru Deux Process One Be Lo The Chapter Coach D LiveSoul Prints Haze Also slated to support this event are: Congresswoman Barbera Lee, TransAfrica Forum, The Ave Magazine, Myspace.com, Mixwell, Motif, 3sixteen, Hiphopsite.com, Hiphopdx.com, Game, Changeitall.org, Boston Hip-Hop Alliance, Pronto Entertainment, Solprintz Marketing, Halftooth Records, One Vibe Studios, True Magazine and many others. The NHHPC is committed to making this event a success, in order to provide support and relief to the victims of the Sudanese conflict. The committee is actively seeking more sponsorship, endorsements, and volunteer support from businesses and individuals across the country. For more information go to www.lvloc.com
www.tla-pronline.com 17 Aug 2005 Charity Concert Features Hip-Hop and Rap Greats 8/17/2005 10:00:53 AM by Robert Mass Transit: The Movement of People Thru Sound - Hip-Hop for Sudanese Relief, (A benefit for relief in Sudan) will include performances by hip-hop and rap greats dead prez, Immortal Technique, Goapele and others. They will perform at the Sudan Genocide benefit concert in Las Vegas August 29th The National Hip-Hop Political Convention is planning a benefit concert to address the genocide occurring in Sudan, Africa. The concert, "Mass Transit: The Movement of People Thru Sound" will be held during the Magic Fashion Convention on August 29th at the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV: 4505 S Maryland Pkwy) campus in the MSU Ballroom with the doors opening at 5:30pm. The event will cost $15 with all proceeds going to the relief efforts via Africare. The crisis in Sudan has escalated to the point of genocide, and the NHHPC believes something must be done to raise awareness around this issue. This will be the group's first time taking on a project like this, and, to their knowledge, a first time by a Hip-Hop organization to address an international issue outside of the war in Iraq. To put this event on, the NHHPC has partnered with Phi Beta Sigma (Pi Zeta Chapter) and Africare (the oldest African American charity organization to Africa.) Many notable hip-hop and rap artists have donated perfomances. Artists who have donated performances will include: dead prez Immortal Technique Goapele Wordsworth, Oddisee and Asheru Deux Process One Be Lo The Chapter Coach D LiveSoul Also slated to support this event are: Congresswoman Barbera Lee, TransAfrica Forum, The Ave Magazine, Myspace.com, Mixwell, Motif, 3sixteen, Hiphopsite.com, Hiphopdx.com, Game, Changeitall.org, Boston Hip-Hop Alliance, Pronto Entertainment, Solprintz Marketing, Halftooth Records, One Vibe Studios, True Magazine and many others. The NHHPC is committed to making this event a success, in order to provide support and relief to the victims of the Sudanese conflict. The committee is actively seeking more sponsorship, endorsements, and volunteer support from businesses and individuals across the country. To learn more about this effort, and how your business can partner, please contact: Andreas Hale SolPrintz Marketing Local Chair of LVLOC (Las Vegas Local Organizing Committee for the National Hip-Hop Political Convention) AIM:Halejackson Email: Andreas_Hale@yahoo.com Phone:702-413-5118 www.lvloc.org or Troy Nkrumah Internal Chair, National Hip Hop Political Convention Cell: 510-717-2946 Fax: 702-361-4245 Email: TroyNkrumah510@aol.com www.hiphopconvention.org Every collaborative outreach means so much and every dollar counts.
NYT 19 Aud 2005 TV: The 'Office' Manager's New Career By JOYCE WADLER I'VE always been fascinated with actors who have to be heroes, whereas I shy away from that," Ricky Gervais, the British comedian who will star in a new HBO series, "Extras," this fall, was saying the other day. "I'm a flawed character. I'm good at that." He uses a Yiddish word for loser. If you want that sort, Mr. Gervais says, then "I'm your man. If you want John Wayne, forget it." . . . The BBC show "The Office" was a monster hit in Britain, with a cult following in the United States. Mr. Gervais and his onetime assistant Stephen Merchant created the series, in which Mr. Gervais starred as David Brent, a boss whose desperation to be liked was excruciating to behold. Now he's reaching a broader American audience. . . Mr. Gervais plays Andy Millman, a pudgy, bitter wannabe who considers himself a great actor though he has yet to get a speaking part. There are also appearances by real stars. Kate Winslet plays an actress who does a Holocaust movie because, as she explains, it's a surefire way to finally win an Oscar. Ben Stiller plays the director of a film about a modern-day genocide who can't stop bragging about box office even as he lectures the cast. "What does money mean in real terms if I find a little orphan child hiding in a building whose parents have been killed?" Mr. Stiller's character asks. "What can I do to reach him? Sure, I could pop 'Dodgeball' on DVD and it would make him laugh for an hour and 32 minutes and escape reality, but then it's back to reality and what do I do then? I could put on 'Dodgeball' again, and he'd laugh and see things he didn't see before, it's supposed to be like that, it's layered." In the same episode, Andy Millman hustles the genocide survivor whose story is being portrayed, for a speaking part. "So what's she doing there, sunbathing?" Andy asks, when the weeping survivor shows him a photo of his wife. "She's dead," the survivor says. "She's lying in the street, dead."
New York Times Magazine August 21, 2005 The Newest Indians By JACK HITT Excerpt [section three of a five section magazine article]: In the past, ethnicity and race seemed like fixed categories, inherent qualities of self that were not only unchanging but could also be measured, quantified and reduced to small checkable boxes on bureaucratic forms. But American diversity and intermarriage (as well as the perfect match between the Internet and deep genealogical research) have changed this singular certainty into a multiple-choice question. For most of American history, identity was centrally controlled: the census taker decided your identity by quietly writing it down while asking questions at your door. But in 1960, the census was changed to permit Americans to declare their own race or ethnicity. The most significant shift, though, came as recently as the 2000 census. Americans were permitted to declare more than one race or identity. As a result, the old categories become even more fluid. How much easier (though scarier) life might be if we all got ethnic identification cards so that when encountering a very light-skinned person claiming to be black, you could reply, ''O.K., show me your federal identification card guaranteeing the proper amount of African blood to qualify you as an African-American.'' Here's the thing: you could ask an Indian that question. Some Native Americans carry what is called, awkwardly, a white card, officially known as a C.D.I.B., a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood. This card certifies a Native American's ''blood quantum'' and can be issued only after a tribe has been cleared by a federal subagency. The practice of measuring Indian blood dates to the period just after the Civil War when the American government decided to shift its genocide policy against the Indians from elimination at gunpoint to the gentler idea of breeding them out of existence. It wasn't a new plan. Regarding Indians, Thomas Jefferson wrote that ''the ultimate point of rest and happiness for them is to let our settlements and theirs meet and blend together, to intermix, and become one people.'' When this idea was pursued bureaucratically under President Ulysses S. Grant, Americans were introduced to such phrases as ''half breed'' and ''full blood'' as scientific terms. In a diabolical stroke, the government granted more rewards and privileges the less Indian you were. For instance, when reservation lands were being broken up into individual land grants, full-blooded Indians were ruled ''incompetent'' because they didn't have enough civilized blood in them and their lands were administered for them by proxy agents. On the other hand, the land was given outright to Indians who were half white or three-quarters white. Here was the long-term catch: as Indians married among whites and gained more privileges, their blood fraction would get smaller, so that in time Indians would reproduce themselves out of existence. Compounding this federal reward for intermarriage was the generally amicable tradition most tribes had of welcoming in outsiders. From the earliest days of European settlement, whites were amicably embraced by Indian tribes. For instance, the leader of the Cherokee Nation during the forced exile of 1838-39 -- the Trail of Tears -- was John Ross, often described as being seven-eighths Scottish. A lot of Indians haven't looked ''Indian'' for quite a while, especially in the eastern half of the country, where there is a longer history of contact with Europeans. That fact might not have been the source of much anxiety in the past, but in the post-Civil Rights era, the connotations of the word ''white'' began to shift at the same time that the cultural conversation progressed from the plight of ''Negroes'' to the civil rights of ''blacks.'' Suddenly ''white'' acquired a whiff of racism. This association may well account for the rise of more respectable ethnic descriptions like ''Irish-American'' or ''Norwegian-American,'' terms that neatly leapfrog your identity from Old World to New without any hint of the Civil War in between. According to the work of Ruth Frankenberg and other scholars, some white people associate whiteness with ''mayonnaise'' and ''paleness'' and ''spiritual emptiness.'' So whatever is happening in Indian Country is being aggravated by an unexpected ethnic pressure next door: people who could be considered white but who can legitimately (or illegitimately) find an Indian ancestor now prefer to fashion their claim of identity around a different description of self. And in a nation defined by ethnic anxiety, what greater salve is there than to become a member of the one people who have been here all along? The reaction from lifelong Indians runs the gamut. It is easy to find Native Americans who denounce many of these new Indians as members of the wannabe tribe. But it is also easy to find Indians like Clem Iron Wing, an elder among the Sioux, who sees this flood of new ethnic claims as magnificent, a surge of Indians ''trying to come home.'' Those Indians who ridicule Iron Wing's lax sense of tribal membership have retrofitted the old genocidal system of blood quantum -- measuring racial purity by blood -- into the new standard for real Indianness, a choice rich with paradox. The Native American scholar C. Matthew Snipp has written that the relationship between Native Americans and the agency that issues the C.D.I.B. card is ''not too different than the relationship that exists for championship collies and the American Kennel Club.'' For full text see http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/21/magazine/21NATIVE.html
CNN 23 Aug 2005 White House dismisses Chavez assassination call State Department: Pat Robertson comment 'inappropriate' (CNN) -- Bush administration officials Tuesday disavowed Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Venezuela's vice president Vicente Rangel accused Robertson of inciting violence and demanded: "What is the U.S. government going to do about this criminal statement made by one of its citizens?" Robertson told viewers of his longtime show, "The 700 Club," on Monday Chavez is "a terrific danger" bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas. "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson told viewers on his "The 700 Club" show Monday. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." Watch video of Robertson's comments State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that Robertson is a private citizen and that his views do not reflect U.S. policy. "We do not share his view and his comments are inappropriate," he said. "And as we've said before, any allegations that we are planning to take hostile action against the Venezuelan government are completely baseless and without fact." A Chavez supporter in the Venezuelan parliament, Desire Santos Amaral said "This man cannot be a true Christian. He's a fascist." (Full story) Robertson, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, called Chavez "a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us badly." "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said. "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with." Robertson accused Chavez, a left-wing populist with close ties to Cuban President Fidel Castro, of trying to make Venezuela "a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent." "This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen," he said. While Chavez has sought closer links with Cuba -- and was in Cuba when Robertson made his statement Monday -- Chavez was elected democratically. Robertson did not explain how Venezuela was to be used by Muslim extremists. The U.S. State Department Web site says 98 percent of the population are Roman Catholic or protestant. Chavez has said he believes the United States is trying to assassinate him, vowing that Venezuela, which accounts for more than 10 percent of U.S. oil imports, would shut off the flow of oil if that happens. The Unites States has denied such allegations in the past. Executive orders issued by presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan banned political assassinations. Robertson's controversial history Robertson's comments Monday were the latest in a string of controversial remarks in recent years by the religious broadcaster and founder of the Christian Coalition. Last October, during the heat of the presidential race, Robertson told CNN that during a meeting with President Bush before the invasion of Iraq, the president told him he did not believe there would be casualties. The White House strongly denied the claim. In May, during an ABC interview, Robertson ignited a firestorm with his response to a question about whether activist judges were more of a threat to America than terrorists. "If they look over the course of 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that's held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings," he said. Defending his remarks in a letter to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, Robertson insisted he was not being cavalier about the 9/11 attacks. But he also refused to apologize, saying Supreme Court rulings on abortion, religious expression in the public square, pornography and same-sex marriage "are all of themselves graver dangers in the decades to come than the terrorists which our great nation has defeated in Afghanistan and Iraq." In October 2003, Robertson, criticizing the State Department during an interview on "The 700 Club," said "maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up," referring to the nickname for the department's headquarters in Washington. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher called the remark "despicable." In July 2003, Robertson asked his audience to pray for three justices to retire from the Supreme Court so they could be replaced with more conservative jurists. "One justice is 83 years old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition," he said. Robertson insisted he was only calling for prayers for the justices to retire and was not asking his followers to pray for their demise. In November 2002, Robertson charged that the Muslim holy book, the Quran, incites followers to kill people of other faiths and disputed Bush's characterization of Islam as a religion of peace. "It's clear from the teachings of the Quran and also from the history of Islam that it's anything but peaceful," Robertson said in a subsequent interview with CNN. "Of course there are peace-loving Muslims. But at the same time, at the core of this religion ... is jihad, and it is to subject the unbelievers either to forced conversion or death. That's what it teaches."
washingtonpost.com 23 Aug 2005 Talk Show Host Graham Fired By WMAL Over Islam Remarks By Paul Farhi Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, August 23, 2005; C01 Washington radio station WMAL-AM fired talk show host Michael Graham yesterday after he refused to soften his description of Islam as "a terrorist organization" on the air last month. Graham had been suspended without pay from his daily three-hour show since making his comments July 25. The station had conditioned his return to the midmorning shift on reading a station-approved statement in which Graham would have said that his anti-Muslim statements were "too broad" and that he sometimes uses "hyperbole" in the course of his program. WMAL also asked Graham to speak to the station's advertisers and its employees about the controversy. But Graham refused both conditions, prompting the station to drop him. According to WMAL, Graham said "Islam is a terrorist organization" 23 times on his July 25 program. On the same show, he also said repeatedly that "moderate Muslims are those who only want to kill Jews" and that "the problem is not extremism. The problem is Islam." The comments drew complaints and prompted an organized letter-writing campaign against WMAL and its advertisers by a Muslim group, the Council on American-Islam Relations (CAIR) of Washington. The protests led several advertisers to ask WMAL to stop airing their ads during Graham's weekday show, although the station says it didn't lose any advertisers amid the controversy. In a statement yesterday, Graham blamed CAIR for his firing and defended his comments: "As a fan of talk radio, I find it absolutely outrageous that pressure from a special interest group like CAIR can result in the abandonment of free speech and open discourse on a talk radio show." Graham, in an interview last night, said he and the station had reached an agreement on terms of his return last week, but the station called back to withdraw. "It was a done deal," he said. "They revoked it because, after further consideration, it didn't contain an apology. And I will not apologize for something that is true." Chris Berry, WMAL's president and general manager, disputed Graham's characterization, saying in an interview that "no one involved in this decision ever had any contact with anyone from CAIR." Instead, he said, Graham was terminated because he violated station policy and disregarded "management direction" to redress it. Officials at WMAL, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., had initially declined to take disciplinary action against Graham, defending his comments as part of the overheated rhetoric of talk radio. But that stance began to change as complaints about Graham's remarks mounted. Graham, 43, is one of several conservative talk hosts featured on the station. WMAL (630 AM) also carries Rush Limbaugh's and Sean Hannity's nationally syndicated radio shows. Graham's WMAL show is not syndicated. The station had hoped to work out an agreement that would return Graham to the air, Berry said, but it was evident by early yesterday that Graham would not agree to the station's terms. He added in a statement: "Some of Michael's statements about Islam went over the line -- and this isn't the first time that he has been reprimanded for insensitive language and comments. In this case, as previously, Michael's on-air statements do not reflect the attitudes or opinions of station management. I asked Michael for an on-air acknowledgment that some of his remarks were overly broad, and inexplicably he refused." In 1999, Graham was fired from a Charlotte station for saying that the killing of athletes was a "minor benefit" of the Columbine shootings. He apologized the next day. CAIR applauded WMAL's decision. The organization had asked the station for a retraction or an apology, but "we didn't get specific on what [Graham] should say," said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman. "We were looking for an acknowledgment that his statements were anti-Muslim and hateful, and harmful to our community and our country's image." Berry said no permanent replacement for Graham has been chosen because the station until yesterday thought Graham would be returning to work. He said WMAL will try several hosts in Graham's slot over the next few weeks. Graham has clashed with CAIR in the past. Last year, the group said comments he made on WMAL implicitly advocated violence against Muslims, and it cited him in a campaign called "Hate Hurts America."
The Salt Lake Tribune 27 aug 2005 Mountain Meadows Massacre, the movie John D. Lee? Jon Voight stars in "September Dawn," described in a trade paper as “a love story set against the 19th-century massacre" A romantic Western, set against the 1857 Mountain Meadows Massacre in which Utah Mormons slaughtered 128 members of an Arkansas wagon train, is now being filmed around Calgary, Alberta. “September Dawn,” as described earlier this month by the trade paper Hollywood Reporter, is “a love story set against the 19th-century massacre of a wagon train of settlers in Utah at the hands of a Mormon group.” A release from the movie's production company calls it “a Romeo & Juliet story set in the world of religious fanaticism.” The $11 million movie is being directed and was co-written by Christopher Cain, whose best-known film is “Young Guns,” the 1988 Billy the Kid revision starring Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Philips. Oscar winner Jon Voight stars as the leader of the Mormon group. Lolita Davidovich (“Hollywood Homicide”) plays a member of the wagon train. Also in the cast are Trent Ford (who co-starred in the Mandy Moore romance “How to Deal”), Tamara Hope (who played Richard Gere's daughter in “Shall We Dance?”), Jon Gries (Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite”) and Dean Cain, the director's son, who played Superman in “Lois & Clark.” The film's publicist was unable to say Friday whether Voight is playing John D. Lee, the man who led the massacre and was later executed for it, or a fictional character based on Lee. Cain, the director, is unavailable for comment until shooting wraps in late September.
AP 23 Aug 2005 Televangelist Calls for Assassination of Chavez CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's vice president accused religious broadcaster Pat Robertson on Tuesday of making ''terrorist statements'' by suggesting that American agents assassinate President Hugo Chavez. Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Venezuela was studying its legal options, adding that how Washington responds to Robertson's comments would put its anti-terrorism policy to the test. ''The ball is in the U.S. court, after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country,'' Rangel told reporters. ''It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country, there are entirely terrorist statements like those.'' The State Department distanced itself from Robertson's comments. ''We do not share his view, and his comments are inappropriate,'' spokesman Sean McCormack said. There was no immediate comment from Chavez, who was winding up an official visit to Cuba on Tuesday. Scores of journalists awaited Chavez at the airport, where he was to board a plane for a trip to Jamaica to discuss a Venezuela initiative to supply petroleum to Caribbean countries under favorable financial terms. On Monday, Robertson said on the Christian Broadcast Network's ''The 700 Club'': ''We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability.'' ''We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,'' he continued. ''It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.'' Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous. ''You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,'' Robertson said. ''It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.'' Rangel called Robertson ''a man who seems to have quite a bit of influence in that country,'' adding sarcastically that his words were ''very Christian.'' The comments ''reveal that religious fundamentalism is one of the great problems facing humanity in these times,'' Rangel said. Robertson's remarks appear likely to further stoke tensions between Washington and Caracas. Chavez has repeatedly claimed that American officials are plotting to oust or kill him -- charges U.S. officials have denied. The United States is the top buyer of Venezuelan crude, but Chavez has made it clear he wants to decrease the country's dependence on the U.S. market by finding other buyers. Chavez has survived a brief 2002 coup, a devastating two-month strike that ended in early 2003 and recall referendum in 2004. The former army paratroop commander, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is up for re-election next year, and polls suggest he is the favorite.
AP Bangladesh hit by multiple bombs Associated Press Thursday August 18, 2005 The Guardian More than 100 small bombs shook Bangladesh yesterday, the near-simultaneous attacks killing two people, injuring at least 125 and sparking widespread panic. Police arrested about 50 people in connection with the bombings, which affected nearly every big town across the country, the state-run news agency, Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha, reported. Khaleda Zia, the prime minister, who had left for China before the blasts, said the attackers wanted to create panic and instability, and she called the events a "cowardly, conspiratorial and well-planned terrorist act". The UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, condemned the "senseless acts of indiscriminate violence". Many of the homemade bombs were packed just with sawdust, rigged with battery-powered timers and planted outside government offices or courthouses. Some were left at press clubs, bus and train stations, and markets. In Dhaka, about a dozen bombs exploded near the airport, at court buildings and in markets, said a city official, Kalpana Rani Dutta. Leaflets from a banned Islamic group, the Jumatul Mujahedin, were found at the scene of all the explosions, officials said. Written in Bengali and Arabic they said: "There should not be any other laws except Allah's in a Muslim country." Jumatul Mujahedin reportedly want an Islamic state in Bangladesh - an overwhelmingly Muslim nation governed by secular laws. A 10-year-old boy and a cycle-rickshaw driver died in the blasts, and many of the injured had minor burns. "This was done in an organised way to create panic, and undermine the government," said Lufuzzaman Babar, a top official in the home ministry. An anti-government strike for Saturday was demanded by the main opposition, whose leader, Sheikh Hasina, said the government's failure to stem crime had allowed the attacks to happen. In recent years several small militant groups advocating Islamic rule have sprung up in Bangladesh, mostly in the poorer regions.
Times of India 17 Aug 2005 400 explosions across Bangladesh INDRANI BAGCHI TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2005 10:57:54 PM ] Citibank NRI Offer NEW DELHI: For years, Bangladesh has quietly nurtured Islamist extremists, trained by Pakistan’s ISI and the Taliban-minded clerics, and even made them a coalition partner in the Begum Khaleda Zia government. On Wednesday, it came home to roost. Four hundred bombs exploded within half an hour (between 11 and 11.30 am local time) in a show of extraordinary terror across Bangladesh. The blasts rocked 63 of the country’s 64 districts, killing two persons and injuring at least 140. Blasts were reported from capital Dhaka, port city Chittagong and other important towns like Mymensingh, Sylhet, Barisal, Comilla, Khulna and Cox’s Bazar. The calculated mayhem may not have been intended to kill, but it starkly demonstrated the ability of the jehadis to strike at will. It also confirmed India’s worst fears about the ever-growing fundamentalist subversion in yet another neighbouring country. The alarming scale of the terror campaign prompted India to get around the diplomatic discipline not to comment on anyone’s internal affairs. In a cryptic but politically fraught remark, the external affairs ministry said: "The scale and coordination of these explosions countrywide raise a number of questions." On the basis of Jamayet-ul Mujahideen leaflets found ... ...at some of the blast sites, Indian intelligence agencies confirmed that the mayhem bore the fingerprint of jehadi terrorists. Police detained 46 people in connection with the explosions. A concerned New Delhi moved into high gear in the wake of the blasts, with PM Manmohan Singh going into an emergency huddle with National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and others. Apprehensive of the possibility of terrorists sneaking in, among the first steps taken was to seal the borders in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. The perpetrators of the carefully-timed attacks went after the symbols of the government — targeting courts, government buildings and schools.
BBC 18 Aug 2005 Raids after Bangladesh explosions Security has been stepped up after the blasts Security forces across Bangladesh have conducted extensive raids after Wednesday's bomb blasts which killed two people and injured more than 100. Officials say nearly 100 people have been detained or arrested so far in connection with the explosions. The main opposition Awami League has called a general strike for Saturday, accusing the government of failing to act against crime. More than 400 small devices went off simultaneously across the country. An outlawed Islamic group, Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh, says it carried out the attacks. Whoever did this made a big statement. It shows how fragile the security situation is here Brigadier Gen Shakawat Hossain Security analyst Fear of concerted campaign Progress Police in the south-western district of Satkhira say they have made progress in their investigation into the explosions. The district's police chief Abdur Rahim said that two people have been arrested in connection with the blasts and they confessed to the police that they were involved in the attacks. Rahim said the two men told police that they are members of a little-known Islamic group Ahle Hadith. The leader of this group, Asadullah Al-Ghalib, was arrested in February this year and faces a number of criminal charges. Meanwhile, officials in Bangladesh say the Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, will cut short her visit to China. Local government minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan said that the Prime Minister would return to Dhaka on Friday evening instead of Sunday as scheduled. Concern Security has been tight in all major towns and cities, with key installations such as foreign embassies, power stations, courts and government buildings under guard. Reports say elite security forces using sniffer dogs searched for suspects and bombs in the capital Dhaka. Ms Zia described the attackers as "enemies of democracy" Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia said the attackers were the enemies of democracy, while the United States called the bombings a heinous act. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the US "stands with the government and the people of Bangladesh as they work to hold to account those responsible". Questions are also being raised about security in Bangladesh and the role of Islamic extremist groups in the country. "Whoever did this made a big statement. It shows how fragile the security situation is here," a former army Brigadier General, Sakhawat Hossain, told AFP. The Daily Star newspaper declared in an editorial that "each one of us in the country - government, opposition, or neutral - must today unite behind our common purpose to root out the terrorists and defend our democracy from this unprecedented assault". Banned group In each incident, bombs were set off in crowded spots, mainly at government offices, journalists' clubs and courts, between 1030 and 1130 local time. Officials said timing devices were found at the scenes of blasts but most of the bombs were small, homemade devices - wrapped in tape or paper. Leaflets from the Jamatul Mujahideen Bangladesh were found at the site of some of the blasts. "It is time to implement Islamic law in Bangladesh" and "Bush and Blair be warned and get out of Muslim countries", the leaflets said. Early this year the Bangladesh government banned Jamatul Mujahideen and another group, Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh They were accused of being behind a series of bomb blasts, including those at two local aid agencies - Grameen and Brac. The bans were seen as representing a major change in policy as the government had long insisted there was no threat from Islamic militancy.
www.milligazette.com/ 17 Aug 2005 Series of bombings hit Bangladesh, two killed, 138 injured By Zafarul-Islam Khan New Delhi, Aug 17 (The Milli Gazette): A series of bomb blasts hit almost all parts of Bangladesh, including several areas in the capital Dhaka today, Wednesday, killing at least two persons including a child and wounding at least 138 others according to the Indian news agency PTI's report from the Bangladeshi capital. It is clear the blasts were aimed at delivering a warning as they did not cause major damage. The blasts, many of them targeting government buildings and courts, went off almost simultaneously between 11:00 to 11:30 AM Bangladesh local time, leading to a nationwide security alert and flight of people from affected areas. Bombs exploded in Dhaka's diplomatic area, near Sheraton Hotel and outside Dhaka airport. The explosions, 400 in number according to the PTI report, rocked 58 of Bangladesh's 64 districts. Although officials did not say what kind of bombs exploded today, Bangladesh private TV footage showed batteries strapped together in plastic bags. Police in the city of Chittagong arrested two men two men carrying crude homemade bombs and firecrackers. Two other suspects were picked up elsewhere in the same city. According Bangladesh private satellite TV, at least 45 people were arrested from different locations across the country. State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfuzzaman Babar said the blasts appeared to be "pre-planned and well organised" but he did not blame any individual or group. Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen, a banned organisation, reportedly said the blasts were its "third call" to establish rule of Islamic law in the country. "If ignored and (if) our people are arrested or persecuted, Jaamat-ul-Mujahideen will take the counter-action," leaflets found near blast sites said. A police official in Barisal claimed that leaflets had been found there reading: "Bush and Blair be warned and get out of Muslim countries. Your days of ruling Muslim countries are over." The leaflets reportedly warned the US and Britain against occupation of Muslim lands: "It is also to warn Bush and Blair to vacate Muslim countries, or to face Muslem upsurge." Bangladesh had banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen along with Jagrata Moslem Janata Bangladesh last February. Bangladesh is world's third most populous Muslim country with 140 million people. Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen is led by the so-called "Bangla Bhai" who is on the run since his group was banned. His spiritual leader is said to be a Rajshahi University Professor Mohamamd Galib, who is now in jail on bombing charges. Reports are coming only from foreign correspondents based in Dhaka. A search on the Net showed that with the exception of one, all Bangladeshi English-language newspaper websites blacked out reports of these unprecedented events even by Bangladeshi standards. Political parties, including the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the main opposition Awami [Peoples] League, held separate protest rallies and vowed to resist extremism. Students of the Dhaka University staged protest on the campus. Bangladesh has been hit by a number of bombings over the past two years, including one in which the British High Commission was injured on 21 May 2004. Early this year, militants killed former Bangladesh finance minister S.A.M.S. Kibria, sparking protests by opposition parties against violence in the region inspired by Islamists. In another carnage last November, the former prime minister Sheikh Hasina herself was injured. None of these bomb explosions cases has been resolved to this day despite serious effort by the government, with the help of the FBI and Interpol. A Time magazine report in October 2002 had claimed that Al-Qaeda and Taliban elements had relocated to Bangladesh after the American invasion. India has consistently warned that Bangladesh is slowly turning into an Islamic terrorist base. India has its own axe to grind: to coerce Dhaka into taking military action against Indian dissidents and rebels sheltering on the Bangladeshi soil. India has succeeded in prompting Bhutan to drive away Indian rebels from its soil. Burma too has undertaken a similar exercise on a limited scale while Dhaka has consistently refused to play ball claiming that there are no Indian rebels on its soil. India was quick to express strong concern at the explosions today. It expressed its sympathies for the victims and their families. India's external affairs ministry spokesman Navtej Sarna said this evening: "The scale and coordination of these explosions countrywide raises a number of questions." He did not elaborate. Violence at this level has raised questions about security in Bangladesh which is to host South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in three months time. Last February the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had opted out of the SAARC summit in Dhaka citing disturbances in Bangladesh and the royal takeover in Nepal, forcing Bangladesh to postpone the summit to November. That Bangladesh has not taken today's bombings very seriously is clear from the fact that Prime Minister Khaleda Zia did not cancel her scheduled 5-day official visit to China which started today.
Reuters 29 Apr 2005 UN gives go-ahead for Cambodian Khmer Rouge trials By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS, April 29 (Reuters) - The United Nations announced on Friday that le
Xinhua 10 Aug 2005 American pastor's film of Nanjing Massacre debuts in China www.chinaview.cn 2005-08-10 19:10:07 BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- The footage that recorded horrible scenes of Nanjing Massacre shot by American Reverend John Magee in 1937 debuted at China's National Museum on Wednesday. Bloody slaughter scenes, horror-struck baby faces and plaintiveexpressions of raped women from the documentary of Magee, who was in Nanjing when Japanese army looted the then national capital of China, became the most shocking impression in the mind of Feng Lei, a student at the No. 161 High School in Beijing. "I never imagined it would be so horrible, though I knew of thetragedy from our history book," said the boy. "What people see here, however, are all history and truth," said Zhu Chengshan, curator of Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre. "No director and actor, no matter how talented they might be, can make such tangible products. And this is only aglimpse of history,". John Magee's footage, 105 minutes in length, was clipped into aseven-minute documentary shown in the 20-day exhibition, which wasopened Wednseday and is scheduled to last to the end of this month. The 16mm film made by Magee is believed to be the only documentary about the horrible massacre. The exhibition, themed on "patriotism, justice and peace" at the sponsorship of the provincial government of Jiangsu, is free to visitors. The exhibition is held to commemorate China's victory in the war of resistance against Japanese aggression on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the victory of the world's war against Fascism. Japan surrendered unconditionally on August 15, 1945. Japanese invading troops occupied Nanjing on Dec. 13, 1937 after fierce combats with Chinese army, and then launched a six-week long massacre. Historical records showed that more than 300,000 Chinese people, not only disarmed soldiers but also civilian victims, were massacred in the holocaust. John Magee, an Episcopal pastor, was one of the 22 westerners in charge of the Nanjing International Safety Zone created after the Japanese army captured Nanjing. The footage, along with the cinematograph Magee used, was donated by his son to the vicitms' memorial hall in October 2002. "But it was not open to public visit until today," said Zhu. The film also includes scenes of rescue and assistance efforts by the international safety zone. Magee was awarded a badge and a certificate by the Chinese government in 1948 for his bravery in rescuing Chinese people. Thecertificate and the badge were also displayed in the exhibition. More than 600 pictures and 753 items of historical relics are on display in the exhibition. It is the first time for so many tangible evidences of the Japanese barbarity to be displayed, Zhu said, and the exhibition marks the debut of more than 80 percent displayed items. Matsuoka Tamaki, a Japanese primary school teacher, contributed60 items of historical relics to the exhibition, which she collected from retired Japanese soldiers who took part in the massacre. A diary by a Japanese soldier who asked Matsuoka Tamaki to keephim anonymous became a most eye-catching item in the exhibition, Zhu said. "My team would kill 200 people a day. When we captured too manypeople and had no time to kill them all, we would send them to other teams," the diary reads. Zhu said that all the evidences provided by Matsuoka Tamaki were very precious. "They all came from participants of the massacre and are tangible evidence. Nothing can better testify the Japanese atrocity than the admission by the slaughterers themselves," the curator said.
BBC 18 Aug 2005 China sets up riot police units Unrest over land grabs and poverty is on the increase in China China is setting up special police units in 36 cities to put down riots and counter what the authorities call the threat of terrorism. Chinese state media said one of the first such forces, comprising 500 officers, had just been set up in Zhengzhou in central Henan province. Correspondents say unrest has become more frequent in China, often due to land disputes or economic inequality. There has also been increased coverage of such events in the Chinese press. The Zhengzhou detachment will mainly deal with terrorism, violent crimes, riots and threats to public security, and will also be responsible for safety during major public occasions, the state news agency Xinhua said. There have been two major disturbances near Zhengzhou in the last year. A violent clash over a land dispute injured about 30 people last August, and there were several fatalities during clashes between Han Chinese and Muslims three months later. Some 74,000 protests and riots broke out across China last year, involving more than 3.7 million people, Reuters quoted Chinese Security Minister Zhou Yongkang as saying. The government, fearful as ever of any instability getting out of control, is now putting in place a range of measures to deal with the surge in demonstrations, says BBC East Asia editor Clare Harkey. They include new rules on complaining to the authorities - citizens are now banned from petitioning central government directly.
BBC 24 Aug 2005 Poll finds Chinese wary of Japan Chinese and Japanese scholars still dispute what happened in Nanjing The first thing most Chinese think of, when asked about Japan, is the Nanjing Massacre, a new survey has found. The second is electrical products, according to the China Daily, one of the organisers of the poll. The events of Nanjing are disputed by Japan and China - one of many clashes over history and resources. The poll found that 63% of Chinese had a "very bad" or "not very good" impression of Japan, while 38% of Japanese felt negatively about China. Between 50,000 and 300,000 Chinese people were killed in Nanjing between December '37 and March '38 by Japan's troops, and the deaths still sour ties. More than 93% of the Chinese people questioned said Japan should take most or all of the responsibility for the worsening of relations, the survey found, according to the China Daily. "However, the majority pin hopes on economic co-operation, which they believe could bring mutual benefits for both sides," the newspaper said. The poll was conducted by Japanese think-tank Genron NPO, Peking University and the China Daily. Tense neighbours China and Japan have clashed over several issues this year, including approaches to wartime history and territorial disputes, and tensions between them remain strained. In April Tokyo approved a set of controversial history school textbooks, which critics say whitewashed Japan's military record during World War II, including the Nanjing massacre. The move triggered rare public rallies in China - which analysts say had Beijing's tacit approval. Angry Chinese protesters marched in several major cities and targeted Japanese buildings. Further disputes followed, over Japan's quest to gain a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, as well as ongoing compensation requests for Chinese survivors of Japanese atrocities during the war. In an effort to improve relations, Japan has recently had parts of its textbooks translated into Chinese and Korean to "promote understanding by foreign countries of the real picture", according to a statement by the Japanese foreign ministry. The translated versions were published on the internet on Wednesday.
South Asia Tribune 15 Aug 2005 www.satribune.com After Apology, Congress Tries to Scuttle Sikh Massacre Report By Arun Rajnath NEW DELHI, August 18: After publicly apologizing to the Sikhs, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the ruling Congress Party have decided to refer the cases of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, following Indira Gandhi's murder, to the Anti-Riot Cell of the Special Branch of the Delhi Police while vociferous protests and silent marches of the Sikh community continue in the Capital. Sikhs are not happy at the move. Jatthedar Subedar Singh said at the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj: “This is all an eye-wash and a face-saving device. To re-investigate the cases means prolonging the matter for another two decades. The Government must arrest the accused persons immediately.” The Indian Government tabled the report along with the Action Taken Report (ATR) in the Parliament. In the ATR the Congress-led Government has taken the whole issue in levity, and has protected its leaders Harkishan Lal Bhagat, Jagdish Tyteler and Sajjan Kumar. These leaders are the main accused in the anti-Sikh riots that took place soon after the assassination of the then Prime Minster Indira Gandhi though Justice Nanavati has observed, there is “credible evidence that Congress leaders have participated in the riots”. The ground is still shaking, but this time for the ruling Congress Party as the Nanavati Commission has indicated new evidence against some Congress leaders. It would be strange for the future generations to realize that everything is possible in India, and when a ruling party makes it possible. Four thousands Sikhs were murdered! But the case was not registered for 12-13 years! And when the case was registered, culprits were not named in the First Information Report (FIR)! Really, it happens only in India! After his mother's assassination, Rajiv Gandhi was nominated as the Prime Minister on the proposal of another Sikh, Buta Singh. While commenting on the riots, Rajiv Gandhi had said: “Jab koi bara per girta hai to dharti hilti hi hai” (When a big tree falls, the ground is bound to shake). Now the ground is still shaking for the ruling Congress Party as the Nanavati Commission has directly pointed towards the involvement of at least three stalwart Congress leaders, viz. Harkishal Lal Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tyteler. At present Sajjan Kumar is the Member of Parliament and Jagdish Tyteler is the Minister of Non-Resident Indian Affairs. Privileged sources told the South Asia Tribune that there is new evidences against these three Congress leaders for instigating the mob for vandalizing and murdering the Sikh community in the Capital. Affidavits against these Central leaders, along with another Congressman Dharam Das Shastri have been filed before the Nanavati Commission. These affidavits were seen by this correspondent. Some of the eyewitnesses have said that HKL Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tyteler and Dharam Das Shastri were leading the crowd of rioters and they instigated the rioters to set Gurdwaras on fire, kill the Sikhs and take away their women. One Gurmeet Singh has filed an affidavit against HKL Bhagat. He has said: “When the rioters assembled before the Gurdwara at Laxmi Nagar, Bhagat arrived in a white Ambassador car. I recognized Bhagat as I was very much acquainted with him. I have been a supporter of the Congress Party and Bhagat used to hire my taxis during elections.” “Bhagat directed the policemen and his supporters to kill the Sikhs who had assembled in the Gurdwara to protect themselves. Thereafter six policemen came to us and asked us to throw away our arms otherwise they will shoot us,” the deponent said. “We locked ourselves in the Gurdwara But we did not surrender our arms -- lathis and kirpans. Thereafter the police went away and the rioters assaulted the Gurdwara twice. Had we surrendered our arms, the mob would have easily butchered us,” the deponent further stated. Similarly, another deponent, Wazir Singh, has stated in his affidavit: “On the day when Indira Gandhi was assassinated, HKL Bhagat and other Congressmen assembled at the residence of the local Congress leader Rampal Saroj. They called in their supporters and they began killing Sikhs.” Another deponent Satoo Singh has stated: “The rioters first pelted stones at my brother and when he fell on the ground, Bhagat himself directed the rioters to kill him. Bhagat had said: "yeh saanp ka bachcha hai. Ise zinda mat chorna”. (He is the son of a snake, don't leave him alive). “The rioters poured chemicals and kerosene oil on my brother and put a burning tyre around his neck,” the deponent has stated in his affidavit. Chief Granthi of the Moti Bagh Gurdwara Surinder Singh himself has filed an affidavit against the Central Minister Jagdish Tyteler. In his affidavit the Granthi has stated: “On November 1, 1984, the rioters attacked the Gurdwara at Azad Market in the leadership of Jagdish Tyteler. At that time I was the Granthi in that Gurdwara” Surinder Singh further states: “Rioters set the Gurdwara on fire, and I went upstairs to protect myself but retired Police Inspector Thakur Singh and Sewadaar Bahal Singh were killed by the mob.” “After a week to this gruesome incident, Jagdish Tyteler came to me on November 10, 1984 with some papers and asked me to sign. But I refused to do so,” he further stated. There are other similar affidavits also that have been filed before the Nanavati Commission, and that put the ruling Congress Party, whose Prime Minister himself happens to be a Sikh, in a dire position. But it is shameful for India that claims to be the champion of the democratic causes, those culprits are still roaming and some of them have reached the highest seat of democracy, the Indian Parliament. Who will give justice to Darshan Kaur whose husband was killed before her eyes? She told the South Asia Tribune: “They killed my husband before my eyes. I know the killers very well. When I went to the court to give evidence, those people threatened me.” “They are still roaming freely and nobody cares about us who have lost everything in the anti-Sikh riots. There are several other people like me who are waiting for justice. The Government has shifted us to a new settlement that is known as the ‘Widow Colony’. What does it indicate? I cannot forget the day when my husband was killed, and I have been waiting for justice for 21 years! The same Congress Party is ruling the country whose members were involved in the anti-Sikh riots. Can I expect justice? Will the Government give me justice? No body knows!” Another riot victim Daleep Singh told this correspondent: “Those rioters tried to kill me. They had poured kerosene oil on me. My whole body has burn marks. 21 years have past since then, but there is no ray of hope and justice. It is all an eyewash.” “These Commissions work in air conditioned rooms. The Commission should work hard to bring the culprits to book,” he said. Meanwhile, the Sikh community is holding protest rallies and observing silent marches throughout the Capital city of Delhi in which various well-known Sikh personalities are taking part. One such silent protest march initiated from Gurdwara Bangla Saheb on August 14, and culminated at the Parliament Street. The protesters held placards demanding Justice! The march was not against any political person or accused. The Sikhs only demanded justice and equality.
www.indianexpress.com 20 Aug 2005 Slammed by SC, Gujarat cops track down massacre accused Wanted in Naroda Patiya case, Shashikant held in Jalgaon EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Posted online: Saturday, August 20, 2005 at 0247 hours IST AHMEDABAD, AUGUST 19: Slammed by no less than the Supreme Court for its inaction and incompetence in arresting the post-Godhra riots accused, Gujarat police woke up to track down a prime accused in the Naroda Patiya massacre. Shashikant Yuvraj Marathi alias Tinio was arrested from his in-law’s village in Jalgaon, Maharashtra last night. A resident of Gopinath Society in Naroda Patiya, he was was first arrested on June 28, 2002 for being part of the mob that carried out the massacre—over 80 people were killed and this was one of the riot cases highlighted by The Indian Express. But a month later, he was freed on bail. He was arrested again on August 14, 2003 for beating up a youth and the police moved court to cancel his bail. The Gujarat High Court cancelled his bail in the Naroda Patiya case on April 6, 2004, and ordered his arrest. But he absconded. He later sent a petition to the Supreme Court for bail but it was rejected. Earlier this month, while hearing a riot victim’s petition that the police had failed to arrest Shashikant who was still threatening Naroda Patiya residents, the Supreme Court questioned the role of the Gujarat police in the case. In a report dated February 7, 2005, Director General of Police A K Bhargava told the court that the police were resorting to sections 82 and 83 (attachment of property of absconding accused) of the Criminal Procedure Code to apprehend the accused. Later, in March, the DGP filed another report stating that proclamation under section 83 of CrPC had already been issued. The court said, ‘‘A period of about five months has expired, but we do not know whether any action under section 83 of the CrPC has been taken or not.’’
BBC 15 Aug 2005 McDonald's bomber jailed for life A court in Indonesia has sentenced a man to life in jail for the bombing of a McDonald's restaurant in 2002, which left three people dead. The man, Agung Abdul Hamid, was found guilty of financing and co-ordinating the attack, which took place in Makassar, in South Sulawesi. Prosecutors had asked Makassar's district court for the death penalty. The bombing occurred on 5 December 2002, just weeks after the Bali attacks that killed more than 200 people. Chief judge Andi Haedar said Hamid was "legally and convincingly guilty of planning or inciting other people to carry out an act of terrorism that resulted in casualties and destruction of public facilities." Prosecutors said he had paid other people to take part in the attacks, and illegally possessed firearms and explosives. Hamid insisted he was innocent, and said he would appeal the verdict. "I reject the sentence because all these charges are false," he told the Associated Press. "The trial is engineered, and full of American intervention." Hamid was arrested on the island of Java last October, after being on the run from the Indonesian authorities for almost two years. Police claim he has links to the regional militant group Jemaah Islamiah, which has been blamed for several attacks in Indonesia, including the Bali bombings.
Reuters 15 Aug 2005 Key points of Aceh peace agreement JAKARTA, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) separatists who have fought for independence for Aceh province since 1976, will sign a truce on Monday in Finland aimed at ending one of Asia's longest insurgencies. Here are key points of the agreement, officially called a Memorandum of Understanding, according to a copy obtained by Reuters. POLITICS -- GAM will drop its fight for an independent Aceh state and integrate into Indonesia, which pledges that all former separatists will enjoy the same rights as any Indonesian. Indonesia promises to revise a law on Aceh's autonomy next year to allow local political parties to contest top Aceh positions in April 2006. Indonesia will continue to handle national security and defence, monetary and fiscal matters, judiciary and policing, and foreign affairs. Aceh will be allowed to write its own laws in other areas and to have its own flag and a song, although this will not be the equivalent of a national anthem. Jakarta has already allowed Aceh, the nation's most heavily Muslim province, to be the only jurisdiction Indonesia to adopt Islamic sharia law. ECONOMY -- Aceh will have the right to seek foreign loans and investment as long as it sticks to the requirements of Indonesia's central bank. It will also have the power to arrange its own tax policies. Aceh will be able to manage its own natural resources and be entitled to 70 percent of revenues from its oil and gas reserves. The province currently gets 55 percent of oil revenues and 40 percent of gas revenues and this will continue until 2009, when the amount will be increased. HUMAN RIGHTS -- A human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission will be established in Aceh to reveal past atrocities and bring closure to the war-torn society. Indonesia will grant amnesty to all GAM members beginning in late August and free thousands of separatists jailed across the Indonesian archipelago. GAM members jailed for ordinary criminal offences will not be freed. Some GAM members will receive land and other resources to start new lives, but former GAM members will not be allowed to possess arms and any civilian carrying arms after the truce will be prosecuted. SECURITY -- GAM will be obliged to surrender arms to the Aceh Monitoring Mission staffed by unarmed monitors from the European Union and five Southeast Asian nations, who will later destroy them inside Aceh. That process will start on Sept. 15 and end on Dec. 31. Indonesia will pull out two infantry battalions, or 1,300 troops, from Aceh on Aug. 18. Later government troop withdrawals will match the pace of GAM weapons handovers, officials say. Any Indonesian military movement involving more than a platoon will require prior notification to the chief monitor. Indonesia has more than 30,000 soldiers in Aceh, as well as significant numbers of paramilitary police. The military withdrawal will leave Aceh with its original regional defence force of around 5,000, which could be gradually strengthened to 9,000 by the end of the decade.
The Jakarta Post 16 Aug 2005 www.thejakartapost.com Peace in Aceh Jakarta It took three presidents and required the peacemaking skills of a vice president to put an end to three decades of bloodshed in Aceh when the government of Indonesia and separatist rebels in the province inked a truce. The accord appears to have satisfied both parties, compared to previous agreements which were proven to be short-lived, as it requires the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to renounce its long-held demand for full independence in exchange for political and economic privileges for the province. Indonesian Minister of Justice and Human Rights Hamid Awaluddin signed the agreement with Malik Mahmud, the self-styled prime minister of the exiled GAM leadership in Sweden, in the Finnish capital Helsinki, after seven months of painstaking negotiations initiated by Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Military and civilian officials from the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are to monitor the implementation of the deal, which includes an amnesty for GAM political prisoners, creation of political parties in the province, withdrawal of non-local security forces and the formation of a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission. "We've come to this day after years of military violence against the people of Aceh. This is the beginning of the process of justice for the Aceh people," Mahmud said in his speech. Mahmud, who spoke in English, also raised concerns about the past record of the Indonesia Military (TNI) as well as the government's commitment to implementing the peace agreement. Both parties had signed peace accords under former presidents Abdurrahman Wahid in 2000 and Megawati Soekarnoputri in 2002. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Jusuf Kalla and House of Representatives Speaker Agung Laksono witnessed the televised accord signing through a big screen set up at the Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta. "Indonesians, including my brothers in Aceh, let us appreciate the significant event as something that we should be proud of," Susilo said after the signing. Wearing a long-sleeved batik shirt, the President was seen smiling several times but also paid full attention when Hamid and Mahmud inked the agreement. Susilo shook his head and clasped his hands tightly when the GAM leader presented his speech. Nobody in the palace clapped for Mahmud, in contrast to the big applause given to Hamid when he finished his acceptance speech. In a prepared speech, Hamid expected both sides to look forward to develop a better Aceh. A video conference linkup to allow the President to speak to the delegates in Helsinki, including the GAM leadership, failed due to technical problems. "Could they hear me?" the President asked Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Widodo Adi Sucipto and Hamid, who were told to explain the agreement to the Indonesian people. Susilo also thanked former Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari and his Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), the government of Finland, the European Union and ASEAN and "our brothers and sisters who were previously grouped under GAM" for their efforts and commitment to permanently end the conflict in Aceh. "All parties need to work hard and sincerely in a bid to build a better, more peaceful, fairer and more democratic condition in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam," he said. Both sides had been cautiously optimistic that the agreement would open the way for lasting peace, a hope lent renewed urgency after the Dec. 26 tsunami which hit Aceh especially hard, killing at least 130,000 people. Pursuant to the peace deal, foreign monitors under the Aceh Monitoring Mission will deploy 80 of its 200 personnel to plan and prepare for the start of the monitoring task between Aug. 15 and Sept. 14. During their initial presence, the unarmed foreign monitors will make local contacts and familiarize themselves with conditions in Aceh before their mission swings into a full gear on Sept. 15. Monitors will not take on a facilitation or negotiation role. They will conduct their task by communicating with both parties and by carrying out inspections and investigations as required.
www.antara.co.id 17 Aug 2005 MINISTER ANSWERS ACEH PEACE DEAL CRITICS "I have no other comment except that I would say, ask yourselves and your conscience about it. Do you still want to see women become widows, childrea orphans? That is all I can say," Hamid Awaluddin said.Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Justice and Human Rights Minister Hamid Awaluddin asked all parties especially those criticising the signing of a peace agreement by the government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) to look at the matter "with a clear conscience." "I have no other comment except that I would say, ask yourselves and your conscience about it. Do you still want to see women become widows, childrea orphans? That is all I can say," he said when asked about criticism from a number of figures regarding the signing of the memorandum of understanding on peace in Aceh in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday. The chairman of the Indonesia Democratic Party - Struggle (PDIP) faction in the House of Representatives, Tjahjo Kumolo, had said the government had given too many concessions to the GAM. "We have surrendered to them. GAM has been given the right to set up its own human rights court, determine interest rate and have its own flag," he told newsmen on Tuesday. Hamid, who was the Indonesian government`s chief negotiator with GAM representatives in Helsinki, said he could not give any further comment yet because he had not heard the critical comments directly. Speaking to the press before attending a Merdeka Palace function to mark the 60th anniversary of Indonesian independence, he said all parties should put the well-being of the Aceh people above other considerations.
www.abc.net.au 18 Aug 2005. 2:11pm (AEST) The report warns the survival of the indigenous people of Papua is threatened. (Reuters) Indonesian military accused of rape, torture in Papua A team of Australian researchers has accused the Indonesian military of systematic violence against the indigenous population of the province of Papua. The University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies has released the "Genocide in West Papua" report detailing eyewitness accounts of Indonesian military involvement in rape, arson and torture in the province. Centre director Stuart Rees says the report is a result of four years' work and the Australian Government needs to take it seriously. "We're saying that Australia is a signatory to the convention on genocide and that makes us have a legal obligation, as well as a moral obligation, to tell a wide public what is going on," Professor Rees said. The report warns that the survival of the indigenous people of Papua is threatened if the concerns it raises are not addressed. It says a "culture of impunity" exists in Indonesia towards the military. Research for the report was conducted across the province from 2003 to 2005. Indonesia's President on Tuesday promised to seek a peaceful end to an insurgency in Papua. In a state-of-the-nation address to Parliament to mark the country's 60th anniversary of independence on Wednesday, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that the Government now aimed to provide "special autonomy" to Papua. Separatists proclaimed the state of West Papua on December 1, 1962, but Indonesia took control of the mountainous, jungle-clad territory from Dutch colonisers the following year. The separatists, now split into badly coordinated factions, have been fighting a sporadic guerrilla war since then. "The Government wishes to solve the issue in Papua in a peaceful, just and dignified manner by emphasising dialogue and a persuasive approach," Dr Yudhoyono told Parliament. Resolving the issue rested on "the consistent implementation of the special autonomy as a just, comprehensive and dignified solution," he said. He said no foreign "interference" would be accepted. "The issue in Papua is our own domestic issue. We decline foreign interference in settling that issue." US Congress last month passed a bill calling for unfettered access to investigate how Jakarta gained control of Papua and highlighted human rights abuses in the province, prompting criticism from Jakarta. Papuans have complained they do not get a fair share of the province's rich natural resources. -ABC/AFp
Sydney Morning Herald 19 Aug 2005 www.smh.com.au Indonesia accused of Papua atrocities By Tom Allard August 19, 2005 Page Tools Email to a friend Printer format The Indonesian military has murdered independence activists, raped women and razed villages in Papua, a report by University of Sydney researchers alleges. Citing witness accounts and testimony from church groups and other activists, the report, Genocide in West Papua?, has renewed calls for a change in attitude from Australia. Both the main Australian political parties have told Jakarta they support its sovereignty over Papua. A former Dutch territory, resource-rich Papua was fully incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 under a highly controversial United Nations-supervised ballot involving only 1025 voters in a region with a population of almost a million at the time. However, the report says most indigenous Papuans still want independence and that a build-up of Indonesian troops in recent months has been accompanied by new abuses and repression. "Military operations have led to thousands of deaths in Papua and continue to cost lives," it says. Kopassus troops - Indonesian special forces - were responsible for the death of a pro-independence priest, the Reverend Elisa Tabuni, last year, the report said, citing the Papuan Baptist Church as its source. Indonesian troops were also responsible for burning 371 homes in Puncak Jaya and stealing livestock at the end of last year, it said. Soldiers raped at least one woman during the operation, unnamed witnesses said. More than 6000 displaced Papuans were said to remain in hiding in the jungle. It is also alleged that as recently as February, more property was destroyed in Papuan villages while Jakarta-backed militias had also murdered dissidents. The report also outlines corrupt Indonesian military activities including illegal logging, rigged construction projects and theft of aid, as well as prostitution and the spread of HIV/AIDS. A spokeswoman at the Indonesia embassy in Canberra denied the allegations and called on the University of Sydney researchers to hand over evidence so it could investigate.
Xinhua 19 Aug 2005 Indonesia condemns report by Australian researchers on genocide in Papua Indonesia expressed displeasure over a report from a group of Australian researchers, who accused the Indonesian military of committing genocide in Papua province, and condemned the study as baseless, local media reported here on Friday. "The report is completely baseless and does not contain even a hint of truth," spokesman of Indonesian Foreign Ministry Marty Natalegawa was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying. He suggested that they should concentrate on matters at their home rather than on international affairs. The university of Sidney's Center for Peace and Conflict Studies released a report Thursday on the genocide in West Papua, which covers eyewitness' account of Indonesian military involvement in rape, arson and torture in the province.
AP 24 Aug 2005 Aceh: No trials for past war crime JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- The military will not be held accountable for alleged killings, rapes and torture during a three-decade separatist war in Aceh province, Indonesia's information minister has said, calling this is a time to forgive. A peace agreement signed last week paves the way for the creation of a human rights court and a truth and reconciliation commission, but the government's public stance is that past crimes will not be investigated. Only alleged atrocities carried out after the signing date of August 15 will be investigated. "The spirit of the accord was to forgive," Information Minister Sofyan Djalil said late Tuesday. He said neither of the two bodies would take up alleged cases of abuse that occurred during the war that left 15,000 people dead, many of them civilians caught up in army sweeps of isolated villages. Some analysts say the government -- under fire for negotiating the deal without consulting the parliament -- is involved in a delicate balancing act aimed at appeasing the military and conservative lawmakers, and could later change its stance. Exiled rebel leaders who signed the peace deal say they are confident that a truth and reconciliation commission, like the one that examined apartheid-era brutality in South Africa, would hear past crimes. Earlier this week, Indonesia began its first major withdrawal of troops from the war-torn province as part of the peace agreement between the government and separatist rebels. More than 1,250 troops stationed near Lhokseumawe, the second largest city in Aceh, left the Krueng Geukueh port on navy vessels -- the first of more than 22,000 soldiers who will pull out of the oil- and gas-rich province by the year's end. Military officials say around 23,000 troops will remain in Aceh. The two sides were propelled by the December 26 tsunami to return to the negotiating table, saying they did not want to add to people's suffering, and both made major concessions during six months of talks. The rebels agreed to hand over more than 800 weapons and gave up their long-held demand for independence, and the government offered the separatists amnesty and the right to political representation.
UPI 16 Aug 2005 British downplay ethnic violence in southern Iraq By Pamela Hess UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL August 16, 2005 ZUBAYR, Iraq -- Every couple of weeks a Sunni turns up dead in the town of Zubayr. The pattern is the same. One day, someone in a police uniform drives up and abducts the victim and a few days later the body is found in the river near a bridge on the northeastern side of town, toward Basra in southern Iraq. In some cases, the victim's name shows up on police prison rolls as having been arrested, suggesting some level of police involvement in the killings, said Maj. Freddie Grounds, 35, commander of the Royal Anglian Regiment's B Company. One of the recent cases was a teacher at Basra University who six months ago switched from being a Shi'ite to a Sunni Muslim. At the time, he was arrested and beaten up but let go. Four weeks ago he was found dead in the river. "I think the [killings] happen more regularly in Basra," said Maj. Grounds, whose company oversees Zubayr, a town of nearly 500,000 that is contiguous to Basra. "When I arrived three months ago there were regular reports of people disappearing in a puff of smoke." The killings bear the hallmarks of a political nightmare for Baghdad and Washington -- Shi'ite-on-Sunni ethnic violence in a part of the country deemed otherwise stable. U.S. military officials believe the Sunni-led insurgency in central Iraq is aimed not just at ousting coalition forces but also at sparking a civil war. Shi'ite leaders, particularly Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, have thus far refused to take the bait. Despite the demographics of the violence in Zubayr, British military officials say the situation is overblown. "Any time a Sunni turns up dead there is a danger of sticking a label on it and calling it 'ethnic violence,'?" said Capt. Will James, spokesman for the British-led Multinational Division based in Basra. "There are clearly undertones of de-Ba'athification," he said, but "I don't think they are being radicalized to the extent everyone makes out." Capt. James said the killings have actually decreased in Basra province since the end of the war. "When I was here two years ago, there were dead people turning up four or five times a morning. ... That was all revenge killing," he said. American freelance journalist Steven Vincent was killed in Basra with similar tactics recently. His female Iraqi interpreter was seriously wounded in the attack. Mr. Vincent wrote articles and kept a Web log that harshly criticized the corruption he saw in Basra in the government and the tribal system. Maj. Grounds said 24 percent of Zubayr's population is Sunni, but just five of the 900 police officers are Sunni. The rest are Shi'ite. A local Sunni political party has provided Maj. Grounds with a list of 80 persons it wants as police officers. The list is evenly split between Shi'ites and Sunnis. "Engineer Tariq," a Sunni member of Zubayr's city council -- one of the first democratically elected councils in the country -- adopted a diplomatic tone when asked about the violence in an interview at City Hall. "If I am to speak as a Sunni, it would have to be out of this building," he said.
BBC 17 Aug 2005 Triple Baghdad blasts kill dozens The bus station was crowded when the blasts happened At least 43 people died and 76 were injured in three car bombings in the centre of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Two of the blasts went off within 10 minutes of each other at 0800 (0400 GMT) at the busy Nahda bus station. The third blast happened on the road to a nearby hospital some 15 minutes later, just as victims of the first two attacks were being brought in. Four men were arrested at the bus station on suspicion of being involved in the bombings, officials said. No details have been given about the suspects, who are now being questioned. All three attacks were less than 30 minutes apart, and police say their apparent co-ordination and planning means casualty figures are almost certain to rise. A coach blew up. When we were leaving, another one blew up in the middle of police cars. Ahmed Jabur Eyewitness In pictures: Baghdad blasts The blasts were the largest attacks by insurgents in recent weeks. Attacks have dropped off amid negotiations on a new Iraqi constitution, which reached a deadlock this week. Police and officials investigating the attacks were trying to determine whether the blasts were work of suicide bombers. Blazing buses The bus station serves various parts of the country and would normally have been crowded with travellers at the time of the attacks, says the BBC's Mike Wooldridge in Baghdad. One eyewitness told Reuters news agency they saw a coach blow up. "We heard an explosion in the garage, we went there and ran towards the buses for Kut, Basra and Amara," said Ahmed Jabur. "A coach blew up. When we were leaving, another one blew up in the middle of police cars." Most of the victims appeared to be civilians, many of whom were trapped on buses. Shortly afterwards, the third car bomb echoed around the city. Medics and police helping the wounded to hospital were among the injured, reports say. In other violence: Two US soldiers died in separate attacks in southern Baghdad, and northern Iraq, the US military says Six Iraqi soldiers in northern Iraq were killed when insurgents open fire as they guard oil installations near Kirkuk.
NYT 21 Aug 2005 Saddam Vows in Letter to Sacrifice Himself By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 9:38 a.m. ET AMMAN, Jordan (AP) -- Facing trial soon on charges he massacred fellow Muslims, Saddam Hussein purportedly vowed in a letter published Sunday to sacrifice himself for the cause of Palestine and Iraq, and he urged Arabs to follow his path. The letter, published in two Jordanian newspapers, allegedly was delivered through the International Committee of the Red Cross to an old friend now living in Jordan. Those who made the letter public said the man refused to be identified. It was believed to have been the first letter since Saddam was captured in December 2003 that he sent to someone other than a family member. ''My soul and my existence is to be sacrificed for our precious Palestine and our beloved, patient and suffering Iraq,'' the letter said. Tayseer Homsi, Secretary General of the Jordanian Arab Baath Socialist Party, said the missive was delivered through the ICRC to an ''independent Jordanian political figure who wished to remain anonymous.'' The ICRC said it was checking the authenticity of the letter, according to Iraq delegation spokeswoman Rana Sidani, who is based in Amman. Saddam and other such political detainees to whom the ICRC has access are only allowed to write letters to family members. Saddam was expected to stand trial in Iraq this fall on charges that could bring the death penalty. His letter appeared to include his musings on that possible fate. ''Life is meaningless without the considerations of faith, love and inherited history in our nation,'' the letter said. ''It is not much for a man to support his nation with his soul and all he commands because it deserves it since it has given us life in the name of God and allowed us to inherit the best,'' he wrote in what appeared to be a clear call to Arabs to follow his footsteps. ''My brother, love your people, love Palestine, love your nation, long live Palestine.'' The Jordanian Baath party, which publicized the letter and espouses ideology similar to Saddam's now-defunct Baath party, has no links to Iraq. Homsi, the party secretary general, said the letter's recipient gave his party a copy of the letter two days ago. ''The Jordanian man wished to remain anonymous. He's an old friend of Saddam, he's not a member of our party nor is he a party functionary,'' Homsi told the Associated Press. He declined to identify the man. Ad-Dustour and al Arab Al Yawm, Jordan's second- and third-largest daily newspapers, said the letter was given to them by Homsi's party at a press conference Saturday. The letter became public as Iraq geared up for a series of trials, the first beginning this fall, concerning Saddam's alleged role in the 1982 massacre of an estimated 150 Shiites in Dujail, north of Baghdad, in retaliation for an assassination attempt on the former leader. Saddam is a Sunni, and his minority sect ruled over majority Shiites, Kurds and other ethnic groups until he was ousted in April 2003 after the U.S.-led invasion. Others indicted in the Dujail massacre are Barazan Ibrahim, intelligence chief at the time and Saddam's half brother; former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan; and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, at the time a Baath party official in Dujail. The assassination attempt was organized by the Dawa Party, whose members include Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. In addressing his correspondent, Saddam said: ''My brother, love your people, love Palestine, love your nation, long live Palestine.'' Also Sunday, Iraq criticized Jordan for allegedly allowing Saddam's family to fund an Iraqi network seeking to destabilize the country. The Iraqi rebuke appeared designed to blunt bad publicity for Iraq after Jordanian police detained an undetermined number of Iraqis and other foreign Arab suspects in the Friday rocket attack that barely missed a U.S. warship in Jordan's Red Sea resort of Aqaba.
washingtonpost.com 21 Aug 2005 Militias on the Rise Across Iraq Shiite and Kurdish Groups Seizing Control, Instilling Fear in North and South By Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, August 21, 2005; A01 BASRA, Iraq -- Shiite and Kurdish militias, often operating as part of Iraqi government security forces, have carried out a wave of abductions, assassinations and other acts of intimidation, consolidating their control over territory across northern and southern Iraq and deepening the country's divide along ethnic and sectarian lines, according to political leaders, families of the victims, human rights activists and Iraqi officials. While Iraqi representatives wrangle over the drafting of a constitution in Baghdad, the militias, and the Shiite and Kurdish parties that control them, are creating their own institutions of authority, unaccountable to elected governments, the activists and officials said. In Basra in the south, dominated by the Shiites, and Mosul in the north, ruled by the Kurds, as well as cities and villages around them, many residents have said they are powerless before the growing sway of the militias, which instill a climate of fear that many see as redolent of the era of former president Saddam Hussein. The parties and their armed wings sometimes operate independently, and other times as part of Iraqi army and police units trained and equipped by the United States and Britain and controlled by the central government. Their growing authority has enabled them to control territory, confront their perceived enemies and provide patronage to their followers. Their ascendance has come about because of a power vacuum in Baghdad and their own success in the January parliamentary elections. Since the formation of a government this spring, Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, has witnessed dozens of assassinations, which claimed members of the former ruling Baath Party, Sunni political leaders and officials of competing Shiite parties. Many have been carried out by uniformed men in police vehicles, according to political leaders and families of the victims, with some of the bullet-riddled bodies dumped at night in a trash-strewn parcel known as The Lot. The province's governor said in an interview that Shiite militias have penetrated the police force; an Iraqi official estimated that as many as 90 percent of officers were loyal to religious parties. Across northern Iraq, Kurdish parties have employed a previously undisclosed network of at least five detention facilities to incarcerate hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and other minorities abducted and secretly transferred from Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, and from territories stretching to the Iranian border, according to political leaders and detainees' families. Nominally under the authority of the U.S.-backed Iraqi army, the militias have beaten up and threatened government officials and political leaders deemed to be working against Kurdish interests; one bloodied official was paraded through a town in a pickup truck, witnesses said. "I don't see any difference between Saddam and the way the Kurds are running things here," said Nahrain Toma, who heads a human rights organization, Bethnahrain, which has offices in northern Iraq and has faced several death threats. Toma said the tactics were eroding what remained of U.S. credibility as the militias operate under what many Iraqis view as the blessing of American and British forces. "Nobody wants anything to do with the Americans anymore," she said. "Why? Because they gave the power to the Kurds and to the Shiites. No one else has any rights." "Here's the problem," said Majid Sari, an adviser in the Iraqi Defense Ministry in Basra, who travels with a security detail of 25 handpicked Iraqi soldiers. Referring to the militias, he said, "They're taking money from the state, they're taking clothes from the state, they're taking vehicles from the state, but their loyalty is to the parties." Whoever disagrees, he said, "the next day you'll find them dead in the street." British officials, whose authority runs through Basra and parts of southern Iraq, have called the killings "totally unacceptable." "We are aware of allegations that men in police uniforms, whether they are genuine policemen or not, are carrying out serious crimes in Basra," said Karen McLuskie, a British diplomat in Basra. "We are raising our concerns with the Iraqi authorities at the highest level." One of the most powerful militias in southern Iraq, the Badr Organization, which is blamed for many of the assassinations, denied any role in the killings. The head of the group in Basra, Ghanim Mayahi, said his organization was only providing "support and assistance" to the police through lightly armed militiamen. "There is no law, there is no order, and the police are scared of the tribes. Badr is not afraid, and it can face those threats," he said. In the north, Kurdish officials acknowledged that people they deem terrorism suspects from across the region have been taken to several Kurdish-run detention facilities, but they said the practice was initiated by the Iraqi government with the blessing of the U.S. military. "It's a question of space; they have no place to put them and here it is safe," said Karim Sinjari, the minister of interior for the Kurdistan Regional Government and a senior official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Asked about the U.S. role, Sinjari added, "I think that they are supporting us. And we are supporting them. We look at them as freedom forces. If there's a problem you can ask them. We have no problem from our side." U.S. officials in Baghdad declined several interview requests this week to discuss the growing number of complaints about people missing in northern Iraq who reportedly had been spirited to Kurdistan. In June, U.S. officials denied any role and called for an end to the "extra-judicial detentions." A State Department memo at the time warned that abductions in the contested northern city of Kirkuk had "greatly exacerbated tensions along purely ethnic lines" and threatened U.S. standing. In both northern and southern Iraq, the parties and their militias have defended their tactics as a way of ensuring security in an increasingly lawless atmosphere. In part, they have said, their power reflects their success in January's national and local elections, in which the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, along with the Shiite-led Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and other Islamic parties, won overwhelmingly in their respective regions. But critics have charged that they are wresting control over security forces to claim de facto territory and authority, effectively partitioning Iraq even as representatives in Baghdad struggle to negotiate a permanent constitution. "We have a feeling that our Islamic brothers want power, regardless of the law and regardless of the state," said Rahi Muhajir, who leads the Communist Party in Nasiriyah, 130 miles north of Basra. "They want authority and they want to stay permanently." 'Their Own Justice' In the streets of Basra, a dreary, dun-hued port of 1.5 million people on the banks of the Shatt al Arab, the local police force of 13,600 has become as much an instrument of fear as security. Mohammed Musabah, the governor of Basra, acknowledged that the police were infiltrated by religious parties, the most powerful of which is the Supreme Council. His police chief, Hassan Sawadi, went further. He told the British newspaper the Guardian that he had lost control over three-quarters of his police force and that militiamen inside its ranks were using their posts to assassinate opponents. Soon after, Musabah said, the Interior Ministry ordered Sawadi not to speak again publicly. Since May, political leaders estimate that as many as 65 assassinations have occurred in Basra. Among the victims were a lieutenant colonel in the Defense Ministry, a Baath Party-era police officer, a merchant with ties to Hussein's government, two university professors and a municipal official who had tried to combat corruption. An American journalist was also recently killed, but the circumstances are unclear. Musabah, whose own Islamic party, Fadhila, is believed to have growing influence inside the police force, said he has imposed new orders to try to track police vehicles involved in killings: Vehicles must bear numbers in large digits on the side, and tinted glass was banned. He tried to disband the two most notorious groups -- police intelligence and internal affairs -- although lower-ranking officers said they still operate as shadow forces at the direction of the Badr Organization, the Supreme Council's military arm. Many residents of Basra say power remains in the hands of those with guns. They say the political parties -- the Supreme Council and the Fadhila party in particular -- realize that exerting power over the police is the surest way to secure influence and battle their rivals. "The parties exercise their power through the security forces to impose their political views," said Jamal Khazaal, the leader of the Sunni-led Iraqi Islamic Party in Basra, who carries a pistol and travels with an armed escort. "The police chief can no longer control his own force. It's no longer a secret." Ammar Muther, a 30-year-old member of Iraq's Border Police, had brought his father 110 miles south from the city of Amarah to Basra in December. A senior Baathist and a missile engineer in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, his father, Muther Abadi, had already escaped what he believed was an assassination attempt by Basra police who traveled to Amarah in two pickup trucks. Muther thought his father would be more secure with him in his home in Basra. On a cold day that month, Muther recalled, he was downtown when his cell phone rang. It was his brother-in-law, his words urgent and clipped. "Come immediately to the house," Muther recalled him saying. When Muther arrived, his father was gone. Six uniformed policemen in black masks had entered his house, his family told him. They put a gun to his wife's head and locked her, his mother and the children in the bedroom. The father tried to run, but police caught him. He clawed at the door as they dragged him away. "The neighbors just watched," Muther said. "What could they do? It was the police." Muther searched for five hours for his abducted father in Basra's streets. As the sun began to set, he gave up and returned home. Minutes later, a friend rushed into his house, crying. He had heard that Muther's father had been killed. That evening, the father's corpse was found in The Lot, amid rusted cans and water bottles. He had been shot five times -- twice in the chest, twice in the face and once in the temple. "They carried out their own justice," Muther said, his eyes welling up. A Maze of Prisons In Mosul, a city of above 1 million convulsed by violence, and the hundreds of villages that stretch across a vast plain to the east, many residents fear both the insurgents and the men who are fighting them. The Iraqi army forces in Mosul are dominated by four Kurdish battalions, according to Sinjari. Since the Kurdish fighters entered the region in November following the collapse of the 7,000-man Mosul police force, U.S. officials and Iraqi humanitarian organizations have received formal complaints that hundreds of Sunni Arabs, Turkmens and others have been picked up in raids or off the streets and transferred in secret to prisons in Kurdistan, the semiautonomous region controlled by the two Kurdish parties. The growing reports of the missing stretch across an arc that spans the Syrian, Turkish and Iranian borders, as desperate families search for relatives who have disappeared into a maze of Kurdish-run prisons. The Kurds are holding detainees in the Kurdistan cities of Irbil, Sulaymaniyah, Dahuk, Akrah, and Shaklawa, according to human rights activists, political leaders and released detainees. The total number of prisoners is unknown. Sinjari declined to give figures. In June, the U.S. military said it had logged 180 cases in Kirkuk alone. Sunni Arab and Turkmen political leaders in the city estimated there were more than 500. Wisam al Saadi, deputy director of the Islamic Organization for Human Rights, said in the last two months 120 families from Mosul have lodged complaints but many more are afraid to come forward. Nawazad Qadir, a Kurd and the director of the Irbil branch of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society, said hundreds of "extremist detainees" are being held in that city while still hundreds more are in the other Kurdish-run prisons. The missing include former Baathists and former Iraqi army officers "but in some cases there doesn't seem to be any logical reason," said Al Saadi. He described the campaign as "military operations to take people and displace them to other locations." Hussein Saad Hussein, 60, said he began looking for his son Amar in December after the 33-year-old Mosul hotel worker was picked up in a joint U.S.-Iraqi raid, along with three other men, including Hussein's nephew and son-in-law. Hussein said he heard nothing for weeks until some released detainees told him that Amar had been spotted at a prison in the Kurdish-held city of Dahuk. He sent his daughter, Sukaina, to the prison, but "they denied he was there," Hussein said. In March, the International Committee of the Red Cross, which monitors the prisons, forwarded letters from Hussein's nephew and son-in-law. The letters were dated March 15 and arrived from a detention facility not in Dahuk, but in Irbil, a city dominated by the Kurdistan Democratic Party. "God knows and you know" wrote Hussein's nephew. Censors had deleted his next words. "Note: I wrote this letter in the presence of Amar," the nephew wrote. "He is with me in the same room." Hussein sent Sukaina to Irbil to look for Amar. "She showed them the letters," Hussein said. "They said, 'No, we don't have those people here.' " Weeks later, Hussein heard from released detainees that Amar and the others had been transferred to yet another prison in the resort city of Shaklawa, 20 miles northeast of Irbil. Sukaina found her brother there. "The conditions in Shaklawa are better than Irbil," Hussein said matter-of-factly. "He can extend his legs when he sleeps." 'They Have the Guns' Across southern Iraq, the Supreme Council and other Islamic parties have consolidated their control in cities along the southern valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers through a mix of patronage and coercion, residents and political leaders said. In Nasiriyah, the city council, dominated by Islamic parties brought to power in the January elections, decided to set up a new, 287-member police battalion. Each council member was allotted seven police jobs to appoint, said Muhajir, the Communist leader, giving the most powerful Islamic parties the overwhelming share. "The formation of the force is to serve the parties," he said. In southern cities, several political leaders said, other appointments to the security forces, civil defense, bureaucracy or state-owned companies require a recommendation from the party that can cost $100 to $500. "The parties have become businessmen," said Khazaal, the Basra party leader. The coercive side of the parties' power is the militias. In cities like Nasiriyah, the Supreme Council and forces loyal to the young cleric Moqtada Sadr still maintain armed forces that operate both within the police force and independently. Sadr's Mahdi Army, seen as the most powerful force in the streets, sent what it calls a battalion of 240 men this month to search for car bombs in Suq al-Shuyukh, southeast of Nasiriyah. It manned the city's entrances, exits and intersections for 48 hours, said Ali Zaidi, the militia commander in Nasiriyah. "In every place, the Mahdi Army is there," he said. The Supreme Council has moved aggressively to seize control of police forces in towns like Nasiriyah, Amarah and Diwaniyah, aided by the party's control of the Interior Ministry in Baghdad. In February, 70 men belonging to its militia attacked the headquarters of the Nasiriyah police chief, Gen. Mohammed Hajami, in an effort to expel him. Dozens of machine-gun rounds and grenades carved holes in the building's facade. Although Hajami estimated that 70 percent of his men were loyal to Islamic parties and not him, he and a handful of loyalists fought them off. Two months later, Hajami traveled to Italy for a training course. His security detail went on leave. While he was away, the Supreme Council's militia showed up again at his headquarters with four pickups and a police car, his aides recalled. The militiamen broke into Hajami's vacant office. This time, without firing a shot, the Supreme Council installed a new police chief. "If they control the police, then they control the city. It's the only power at present," said Hajami's brother, Kadhim, a police officer. "Even if the government falls, they are going to stay because they have the guns." The Supreme Council's militia, formerly known as the Badr Brigades, has renamed itself the Badr Organization. Its leaders said they have turned themselves into a civilian organization, although they retain light arms. They maintain a clandestine style, incubated during two decades of exile in Iran. The militia's Basra headquarters are unmarked; its leaders refuse to give out phone numbers. A Move to Dominate In addition to providing security in Mosul, the militiamen have helped the Kurds take control of much of the Nineveh Plain, a barren flatland of hundreds of towns and villages that includes Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Turkmens and a little-known sect of Shiite Muslims called the Shabak. On the sleeves of their Iraqi army uniforms, many Kurdish soldiers wear patches featuring the red, white and green national flag of Kurdistan, with its golden sun emblem. Along the highway toward Mosul, Iraqi army checkpoints openly fly the Kurdish flag. Qaraqosh, a town of 25,000 people about 20 miles southeast of Mosul, demonstrates how the Kurds apply their expanding power in the north. Kurds, by all accounts, make up no more than 1 percent of the population. But Kurdish political leaders have not concealed their intention to dominate: "Under the parliament and government of the Kurdistan region, the Assyrians, Chaldeans and Turkmens will enjoy their rights," reads a banner outside the Kurdistan Democratic Party headquarters. Luqman Mohammed Rashid Wardak, a senior member of the party's local committee who has the Kurdish sun emblem tattooed on the back of his right hand, said he hoped Qaraqosh would be ceded to the Kurds after the area "becomes normalized." In the meantime, he said, "we are presenting our political ideas to the people." Wardak said the Kurdish Regional Government has already distributed $6,000 to poor families. "Because this area does not officially belong to the Kurdistan region," he said, the money "goes to the party and the party pays them." The party has set up a 700-man "protection force," paying the guards' $150 monthly salaries. But when largess doesn't work, the party uses force. On Dec. 5, local party officials ordered the director of a regional land office, Bahnam Habeeb, to disobey a central government edict to distribute parcels of land to former Iraqi army officers and soldiers. Habeeb, who decline to comment, told the party that he could halt the distribution only if he received an order from "a higher authority" -- either the provincial government in Mosul or the central government in Baghdad. Fifteen minutes later, five pickup trucks filled with militiamen pulled up, according to witnesses. The fighters dragged the paunchy, 53-year-old Habeeb from his chair and beat him with their fists and rifle butts, the witnesses said. The soldiers placed him facedown in the bed of a pickup, pushed their boots into his back and legs and drove him around "to show everybody what they had done," said a witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution. Sinjari said the Kurds had objected to the land distribution, but he was unaware of the incident. "There is an absence of law," said a 40-year-old Transportation Ministry official who was detained for five days in Dahuk last month. The official said a Kurdish officer had accused him of "writing against the Kurds on the Internet." "'Freedom' and 'liberty' are only words in ink on a piece of paper," he said. "The law now, it's the big fish eats the small fish." Fainaru reported from Qaraqosh.
BBC 25 Aug 2005 Iraq police find 36 dumped bodies The bodies of 36 men have been found dumped in a shallow river near the Iraqi town of Kut, police say. The men - aged between 25 and 35 - were found at Areda, some 50km (31 miles) west of Kut, a spokesman told the BBC. They were partially clothed, had been handcuffed and all had been shot in the head in an execution style. Violence has increased in Iraq amid growing uncertainty over the future of a new constitution. It is not clear whether a new deadline will be met. Recent killings Each of the 36 Iraqis had a 9mm bullet in the head, the Iraqi police spokesman said. The state of the bodies indicated to the local police that they had been killed four or five days ago. Six of them had metal handcuffs on and the other 30 plastic handcuffs. Some agreement has been reached, it will not please everybody Laith Kubba Iraqi spokesman Charter changes 'agreed' Killings have become common in Iraq, fuelling tension between Sunni and Shias, correspondents say. Early this month, at least 19 bodies were discovered near a school in south-western Baghdad. Some of the dead had been blindfolded and shot, while others were beheaded, according to reports. All were men. Within the space of three days on May, Iraqi police found the bodies of more than 50 people who appeared to have been killed in an execution style at different locations around Baghdad.
Reuters 29 Aug 2005 Judge in Saddam case meets Kurds on Halabja attack Mon Aug 29, 2005 9:59 AM ET By Twana Osman SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - A judge investigating charges against Saddam Hussein has held talks with Kurdish officials on the 1988 poison gas attack against the village of Halabja, the regional cabinet in northern Iraq said on Monday. "The aim of this visit was to inspect and collect information regarding the use of weapons of mass destruction against the city of Halabja," the Kurdistan cabinet said in a brief statement. "The method of Saddam's trial and the gathering of information and documents by the Kurds were discussed in the meeting," the statement added. Saddam, who ruled Iraq with an iron fist for decades, has been charged with the killing of 150 men in the village of Dujail just north of Baghdad after a failed attempt on his life. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Dujail is seen as a relatively minor case among the accusations of genocide and crimes against humanity leveled at the ousted president and his senior advisers. But prosecutors hope it will be easier to secure a conviction in a smaller case against Saddam, who is under physical U.S. military custody on the edge of Baghdad. Convicting him on charges such as ordering the chemical attack on Halabja near the Iranian border, which killed an estimated 5,000 people, could be far more difficult because a chain of command must be proven, Iraqi officials and legal experts say. SADDAM DISMISSED ACCUSATIONS Saddam dismissed accusations of genocide in Halabja, saying Iranian forces, with whom Iraq was at war from 1980-88, were the targets. Judge Raid Juhi, who has questioned Saddam several times, was accompanied by a delegation from the Special Tribunal trying Saddam. "The two sides discussed the ways of arranging a trial for Saddam Hussein and his assistants, especially regarding the collection of documents and evidence related to crimes of chemical attacks...," a Kurdish cabinet official told Reuters. Saddam has challenged the authority of the court, saying it was an American creation that violates Iraqi sovereignty. Juhi's delegation is expected to visit several Kurdish cities. Saddam and his aides are also accused of carrying out the Anfal campaign against the Kurds between 1986 and 1989 in which over 100,000 people are said to have been killed and many villages destroyed.
www.latimes.com 31 Aug 2005 Hundreds Die in Baghdad Bridge Stampede By Borzou Daragahi and Ashraf Khalil, Times Staff Writers BAGHDAD -- Hundreds of Shiite Muslim pilgrims were crushed to death today as they thronged a bridge leading to an important holy site in northern Baghdad, the melee reportedly triggered at least in part by tight security restrictions and fears of an insurgent attack. By midafternoon the dead numbered 695 with the Ministry of Health warning the toll could rise to 1,000 or more as bodies are tallied from hospitals inundated with corpses and injured patients. Most of the victims appeared to be women and children caught in the stampede. Some victims, desperate to escape the chaos, jumped into the Tigris River and drowned, witnesses said. Survivors described horrific scenes. Ali Younis Hussein, a 32-year-old laborer sitting on a mattress in the hallways of al Karkh Hospital, described nearly being choked to death by the crowd on the bridge and pointed to a bite mark on his ankle from a victim being trampled underfoot. "I had to step on them to get away," he said. Pilgrims and security officials struggled to escape and to carry away the injured and dead, whose faces and lips were blue from suffocation. "I died over and over again," said Iraqi army Col. Hassan Jabouri, who carried away many dead children. "It's very hard to see a baby die in front of you." The scope of the disaster was apparent at Baghdad's Medical City hospital complex, where grieving relatives and covered corpses filled the hallways, parking lot and lawn. "Who is responsible," shouted one man outside the hospital. "Who is responsible for this massacre?" An hour so after the two-hour stampede subsided, pilgrims gasped as they walked past mounds of colorful plastic slippers, often worn by poor Iraqis, lying on the bridge along with tangled black women's abayas and purses. Crying women sorted through the mounds looking for the slippers of loved ones while scavengers looked for valuables. "My relatives are missing," said Saadeh Obeid, a 50-year-old mother. The exact cause of the melee remained unclear. Pilgrims became skittish after several mortar shells landed on the crowds earlier in the morning, killing at least six people. Some witnesses said pilgrims panicked when a rumor that a suicide bomber was among them electrified the crowd. Others said mortar rounds were fired at the pilgrims, among the million Iraqis, Iranians and Shiites worldwide who cram into Baghdad's Kadhimiya suburb every year to commemorate the martyrdom of imam Kadhem, the 8th century Shiite saint. But Iraqi officials admitted that the melee was likely exacerbated by security measures put in place on the bridge to prevent insurgents from crossing into Kadhimiya during the Shiite festivities. Kadhimiya is a mostly Shiite neighborhood, while the neighborhood across the river, Adhamiya, is mostly Sunni Arab, the group fueling the insurgency. Gen. Rawad Rumediam, a high-level military commander at the scene, said concrete barriers put in place to prevent car bombs from entering likely contributed to the crush. Saddoun Dulaymi, Iraq's defense minister, said checkpoints placed on the bridge to search for suicide bombers may have contributed to the disaster. "Crowds gathered and a scream caused chaos in the crowd, and the crowds just reacted and this sorrowful incident took place," he said at a news conference. The morgues of all four hospitals in the Medical City complex quickly overflowed, forcing truck loads of new corpses to sit unattended. Faced with a shortage of body bags and sheets, doctors covered the bodies with shiny metallic blankets normally used for burn victims. Health Minister Abdul Muttalib Ali said this afternoon that some bodies were still believed to be in the river. Most of the deaths occurred over a two-hour period due to suffocation and internal injuries. He said the government had been preparing for two days for possible violence during the commemoration, but added, "We never prepared for such a big number" of casualties. Mournful sobs and hysterical wailing filled the hallways of hospitals. Everyone there seemed to be in process of delivering a body, searching for a body or mourning a body. Frantic relatives screamed "my father," or "my brother," many of them collapsing in hysterics. Men and women crouched against walls sobbing. Others wandered around the clusters of bodies, lifting shrouds and trying to identify relatives. A young man paced in front of the hospital, talking fast on a cell phone. "I searched everywhere and couldn't find him," he said. "There' are bodies everywhere. It's chaos." The man was searching for his nephew. After hearing about the incident, relatives called the nephew's cell phone; a stranger answered and said, "the owner of this phone is dead." The disaster's aftermath left very little for doctors to do. Unlike a bombing or mortar attack, there were few critically injured cases requiring immediate care. There were mainly broken bones and concussions, and corpses. "Everyone who arrived was either stable or dead," said one doctor of the Children's Hospital. The disaster will likely earn an infamous page in Iraqi history as one of the deadliest ever. Saddam Hussein gassed 5,000 Kurds in Halabja in 1988 and several mass graves have been uncovered containing the remains of several thousand victims. But the stampede was the worst accident in recent memory. Comparable stampedes in the Saudi city of Mecca have also killed hundreds of pilgrims. In 1990, more than 1,400 were killed during the annual trek. Times staff writer Edmund Sanders contributed to this report.
Reuters 17 Aug 2005 Settler kills 4 Palestinians, rattling Gaza pulloutBy Wafa Amr SHILOH, West Bank, Aug 17 (Reuters) - A Jewish settler shot dead four Palestinians in the West Bank on Wednesday, drawing a threat of retaliation from Palestinian militants which could complicate Israel's withdrawal from the occupied Gaza Strip. Israeli police said the assailant was a driver who had taken Palestinian workers to jobs in Shiloh, a Jewish West Bank settlement. Once there, he snatched a security guard's gun and turned it on his passengers. Police later arrested him. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called the attack a "Jewish terror act". Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas branded it "a terrorist incident". Both leaders said it aimed to disrupt Israel's pullout from Gaza, home to 1.4 million Palestinians. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Medical officials said that after shooting dead two Palestinians in his car, the settler fired at others in the industrial zone, killing another Palestinian and wounding two. One of the dead Palestinians was seen slumped in the back of the attacker's vehicle, while another lay beside it. One of the wounded men died in an Israeli hospital. The shooting occurred hours after Israeli forces began removing settlers and their supporters from several Gaza settlements as part of a pullout which Israeli opponents see as capitulation to a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000. ABBAS APPEAL Abbas appealed to Palestinians not to retaliate. He urged Palestinian gunmen not to respond to "provocations and not to provide any pretexts or excuses to those wishing to halt the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza." Palestinian militants have threatened to renew attacks that they have scaled back in recent months at the request of Abbas, who seeks a smooth handover of Gaza. "By freeing the hand of settlers to shed Palestinian blood, the enemy is opening the door for resistance factions to respond to these Zionist crimes which take place during the calm," a spokesman for the Islamic militant group Hamas said. The Islamic Jihad group issued a similar statement but said any retaliatory attacks would take place in the West Bank or Israel, but not in Gaza. Sharon, who casts the pullout from Gaza and a corner of the West Bank as "disengagement" from 4 1/2 years of fighting with the Palestinians, has said there will be no withdrawal under militant fire. Nearly two weeks ago an ultranationalist Jew opposed to the Gaza withdrawal shot dead four Israeli Arabs aboard a bus in northern Israel. The gunman, who was beaten to death by an angry mob, had deserted from the Israeli army and taken up residence in a West Bank settlement. Some 30,000 Jews live in settlements scattered among the 2.4 million Palestinians of the West Bank. Israel is removing 8,500 settlers from Gaza, home to 1.4 million Palestinians. Israel occupied both territories in the 1967 Middle East war.
BBC 18 Aug 2005 Settler shooting shatters community By Martin Asser BBC News website correspondent in Jerusalem Asher Weisgan had known two of those he killed for years The place where the Tawafsha brothers died after a day's work at the Shilo Jewish settlement bears witness to the settlers' futile efforts to save their lives. Used medical equipment lies on the ground amid still-sticky bloodstains near the settlement gate - sterile gloves, scalpels and needles. There is also the affecting sight of what they were carrying when they lost their lives, a half-smoked pack of cigarettes, a shopping bag of Arabic bread. Bassam and Usama Tawafsha were shot in cold blood by a Jewish settler whom they had known for many years, even shared food with. He was giving them a lift home, as he did every day. Two other Palestinians died during Asher Weisgan's shooting spree in the settlement's industrial zone, and another was wounded, before settlement security guards overpowered him. Blown away Mark, a security officer who prefers not to give his surname, prevents our entry into the settlement, saying they are on full alert in case Palestinians take revenge for the killings. I think his mind just snapped, because of the history of violence in the area and because of what they presently call the disengagement Mark Security officer "I hope that the people around us realise that this is the act of a madman, that it does not reflect Shilo or Shuvat Rachel" (where Asher Weisgan lived), Mark says. "All of our people are incredibly shocked - blown away - by what happened yesterday... These were guys who I knew, who I liked. I considered them my friends." He adds that Shilo's residents were surprised by his transformation into a killer - he was a "liberal" settler who did not "harbour any hatred" for Arabs. "I think his mind just snapped, because of the history of violence in the area and because of what they presently call the disengagement," Mark says, referring to Israel's unilateral pull-out from Gaza and four West Bank settlements. It's unusual to find concord between Jewish settlers living on occupied Palestinian land and Palestinians who live nearby - but in the village of Sanjal where the brothers lived a similar picture of Asher Weisgan emerges. Revenge The vine-covered veranda of the Tawafsha family home is packed with female relatives, the men milling around in the street or sitting in reception rooms. When one of them kills us they say he is crazy, but if an Arab did that to a settler the whole world is up in arms saying he's a terrorist Aisha The men's mother begs for the return of their bodies, which have not yet been released by the Israeli authorities. Usama's wife Aisha, her shocked children huddled around her, calls down revenge on Israel, the settlers and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "When one of them kills us they say he is crazy, but if an Arab did that to a settler the whole world is up in arms saying he's a terrorist," Aisha says through her weeping. "They worked with him (Weisgan) for eight years," she continues. "They used to say how decent he was, how they used to eat together, how he used to ask them for our food to take to his wife," she says. "Asher? He was very respectable," says neighbour Ataf Radi, one of a handful of Palestinians who worked at Shilo, but who luckily had not been at work the previous day. "Our relationship with him was far better than you could imagine. No one could have expected this." Among the other mourners on the steep hillside of Sanjal, from where the neat red roofs and elaborate synagogue of Shilo are clearly visible, there is equanimity about the threat they might face from militant settlers in the area. "It could happen anytime," says Ziyad Sabri. "Sometimes they come in the night and attack our homes. You are ready for them, you are not armed like them, but you always have a rock or a stick handy." No remorse So what was behind Asher Weisgan's actions? The killings have been condemned by Palestinians and Israelis Why did he calmly get out of his car, apparently take a security guard's gun, open fire on his passengers, who considered him a friend, before heading back to the factory and gun down another Arab colleague? Speaking to reporters at his court hearing the day after the killings, he said he wanted to stop the pullout from Gaza, which was in full swing as he spoke. "I am not sorry for what I have done... and I hope someone murders Sharon as well," he said. The Shilo/Shuvat Rachel enclave is isolated in the middle of a sea of Palestinian population and, though the settlers deny it, it is an obvious candidate for future evacuation. His actions have been condemned unconditionally by settler spokesmen - as well as by the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships, who had also condemned the actions of another Israeli settler, Eden Nathan Zaada, who murdered four Israeli Arabs on a Galilee bus less than two weeks earlier. So far these are two isolated incidents - albeit the worst violence so far associated with the evacuation of Gaza, in which the struggle between Jews and Jews has been conducted without violence on both sides. But veteran Haaretz analyst Zeev Schiff called Weisgam and Zaada examples of the "wild grapes produced by Israel's extreme right" of whom "there are many" living in Israel's West Bank settlements. Other examples are the killer of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Ygal Amir, and Hebron massacre perpetrator Baruch Goldstein. Palestinian militant reaction has so far been muted to the latest provocations, but if any other "wild grapes" ripen during the disengagement, their retaliation could indeed bring about the desired disruption of the withdrawals.
www.chinadaily.com.cn 17 Aug 2005 Japanese on lone inquest into atrocity By Chen Qian (Shanghai Daily) Updated: 2005-08-17 09:44 The horrors of the Nanjing Massacre are denied by many in Japan. Shanghai Daily reporter Chen Qian talks with a Japanese teacher who collects proof about the massacre because she is determined that her country shall face up to its war guilt. It's already her second book about the Nanjing Massacre of 1937 and it seems unlikely it will be her last. Japanese primary school teacher Motsuoka Tamaki has again returned to one of the most brutal atrocities of the 20th century in her book, "Nanjing Massacre - The Split Soul of the Victims." Recently published in Chinese by the Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House, the book has collected the personal stories of 120 victims of the atrocity. Most of the female victims had been raped by Japanese soldiers. Invading japanese troops occupied Nanjing on December 13, 1937, and the six-week-long massacre began. Historical records showed that more than 300,000 Chinese - not only wounded soldiers but also civilians - were slaughtered in an orgy of violence. Motsuoka, 58, says collecting information from the victims was not easy. Most were reluctant to recall the misery and pain they endured, especially those women who had been raped. "But people today should know the facts," says Motsuoka, "especially young Japanese because they won't find the stories in any history book in their home country." Zhu zhiling, an editor with the Shanghai Lexicographical Publishing House, says the company has printed about 5,000 books and the book is available in local bookstores. Zhu says the publishing house has kept in touch with Motsuoka for years and all editors are deeply impressed by her spirit and conviction. "She told us the collected material well and truly shows how much harm the Nanjing Massacre has brought to the Chinese people," Zhu says. The idea of making the past clearer first came to Motsuoka because, as a primary school teacher, she found that Japanese history books did not mention the war and some even denied it. So after the Nanjing Memorial Hall of Compatriots Murdered in the Nanjing Massacre was built in 1985 in Nanjing, the capital of neighboring Jiangsu Province, she went to visit it. "The first visit deeply impressed me," Motsuoka recalls, "especially after talking with a victim named Li Xiuying." Li was stabbed 37 times by Japanese soldiers when she was pregnant. "Her face was like a basin with bruises in the picture," Motsuoka says. "And I will never forget it when she said she would tremble when seeing Japanese again even after so many years." Right after the visit, Motsuoka made up her mind to seek more proofs of the atrocities committed during the Nanjing Massacre and to disclose them to the public. She visited the memorial once a year afterwards and began to visit Japanese soldiers who took part in the massacre. Most of the victims refused to talk to her and she had to try again and again to persuade them. An old man surnamed Xu drove Motsuoka away when he realized she was Japanese and told her he would have a heart attack if he talked with a Japanese. "But I didn't give up because every living victim is very important to my work," Motsuoka says. She explained to the old man what she was doing and finally he broke his silence. "He told me about one day during the massacre when he hid in a corner and witnessed many people being killed cruelly by Japanese soldiers. His story left me in tears," Motsuoka says. A woman who was raped when she was only six years old rebuffed Motsuoka five times. Motsuoka persisted and won her trust in the end. "She told me that she has had to wear diapers all her life after the nightmare," Motsuoka says with pain in her voice. Every time, with the permission of the interviewees, Motsuoka recorded their conversation and made copies of any pictures. As a Japanese, she found that it was easier for her to talk with Japanese soldiers about the massacre. In 2002, Motsuoka published a book containing the testimony of 102 soldiers. In her nearly 20 years of research, Motsuoka has met a lot of resistance. Right-wing forces in Japan have tried to interfere in her work and Motsuoka has had to keep her home telephone number private. She says she is always alert when out in public. "When I am walking on the street, I look back all the time to see whether someone is following me or it a car is rushing towards me," she says. "I never stand in the first row when waiting for Metro trains to avoid being pushed onto the tracks. "After the first book was published, I received more than 1,500 threatening messages online but there were a few supporters." Professor Su Zhiliang from the Shanghai Teachers' University, who has collected a vast amount of historical data to document the atrocities committed by Japanese troops against Chinese sex slaves during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) views Motsuoka as a comrade. "She is regarded as a traitor in the eyes of most Japanese," Su says. "But I should say that she loves her country very much and what she is doing now is really for the future benefit of her country." Motsuoka has now visited China 41 times, this year in Wuxi and Nanjing for the 60th anniversary of China's victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Before arriving in Shanghai, she presented some articles - including diaries of Japanese soldiers and military uniforms collected from Japanese troops - to the National Museum in Beijing, where an exhibition devoted to the Nanjing Massacre is on show. Motsuoka says Japan brought untold disaster to the people of many Asian countries but today the Japanese Government is conceal the aggression in history textbooks. During her stay in Shanghai last weekend, Motsuoka went to Baoshan District looking for more victims and witnesses of the massacre. Motsuoka says she will not stop her work now that the second book has been published. "As a teacher, my duty is to let my students know the truth of history," Motsuoka says. "Everyone should admit and make an apology for the mistake they've made."
Japan Times 19 Aug 2005 EDITORIAL Statements befitting future conduct On Monday, the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi issued a statement apologizing for Japan's past colonialism and aggression. He also decided that day not to visit Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan's militarism in the 1930s and '40s. Instead, he visited and laid flowers at the Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery for unknown soldiers located near Yasukuni Shrine. He did the right thing at a time when Japan's relations with neighboring countries, especially China and South Korea, are tense over the issue of Japan's perception of modern history. The important thing now is that he follow up these performances with efforts that translate into sustained policies. Although the statement of apology was not read by Mr. Koizumi himself, the core part of it said: "In the past, Japan, through its colonial rule and aggression, caused tremendous damage and suffering to the people of many countries, particularly to those of Asian nations. Sincerely facing these facts of history, I once again express my feelings of deep remorse and heartfelt apology, and also express the feelings of mourning for all victims, both at home and abroad, in the war." These words are similar to the speech he delivered during the Bandung, Indonesia, meeting of Asian and African leaders in April. It also is in line with the statement issued by then Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama on Aug. 15, 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. The special weight of the latest statement should not be dismissed. Based on a Cabinet decision, it is the first official war apology by the Japanese government since Mr. Murayama's statement, which was also based on a Cabinet decision. It represents the official position of the Japanese government on Japan's modern war. Given the fact that Mr. Koizumi hails from a conservative group in the Liberal Democratic Party, his repetition of the words assume greater importance. By contrast, Mr. Murayama chaired the the now-defunct Japan Socialist Party, which had been traditionally more critical of Japan's militarist history than the LDP, and headed a JSP-LDP coalition government. In a sense, therefore, Mr. Murayama's statement tended to be taken as a matter of course. The Koizumi statement is also stronger than a resolution adopted Aug. 2 by the Lower House for the 60th anniversary of the war's end. The Lower House failed to include the terms "colonial rule" and "acts of aggression" in its statement, although the terms appeared in a similar Lower House resolution adopted in 1995. While Mr. Koizumi's statement omits a phrase that Mr. Murayama included -- "Japan, following a mistaken national policy, advanced along the road to war"-- it repeats three times Japan's determination not to go to war again, with the following phrases: "I reaffirm my determination that Japan must never again take the path to war"; "I am determined not to allow the lessons of that horrible war to erode, and to contribute to the peace and prosperity of the world without ever again waging a war"; and "In order to contribute to world peace, Japan will proactively fulfill its role as a responsible member of the international community, upholding its pledge not to engage in war." The problem is that Mr. Koizumi's conduct so far has not been conducive to the spirit expressed in the statement. A typical example is his four visits to Yasukuni Shrine since 2001. The stated purpose of his Yasukuni visits were to pledge never to go to war again. But because of Yasukuni's historical role, neighboring countries, especially China and South Korea, took those visits as an indication that Mr. Koizumi viewed Japan's modern war in a positive light. In addition, the Koizumi government has not taken strong action against some politicians, including Education Minister Nariaki Nakayama, for recent "irregular" remarks concerning Japan's war past. Now that his war apologies have been issued twice this year, it is all the more important that Mr. Koizumi demonstrate a stronger sense of responsibility for such a public pledge. In his statement, Mr. Koizumi also said, "I believe it is necessary to work hand in hand with other Asian countries, especially with China and the Republic of Korea, which are Japan's neighboring countries separated only by a strip of water, to maintain peace and pursue the development of the region." He continues, "Through squarely facing the past and rightly recognizing the history, I intend to build a future-oriented cooperative relationship based on mutual understanding and trust with Asian countries." These words should represent the mind-set of all thinking Japanese.
NYT August 17, 2005 Japan's Wartime Savagery? Better to Forget It By KEITH BRADSHER HONG KONG, Aug. 16 - From the graceful dome of the Legislative Council building to the gaudy entertainment district of Wan Chai to the touristy warren of small shops in Stanley, Hong Kong seems as peaceful and prosperous a city as any in Asia. Yet 60 years ago, this city suffered some of the worst ravages of World War II. The Legislative Council building was a torture center run by the Japanese secret police. Military-run brothels were set up in Wan Chai after numerous rapes of local civilians by Japanese soldiers. And Stanley held an internment camp for allied civilians, with those who violated the rules risking execution on a nearby beach. What is remarkable is that despite all the wartime horrors - which cut the city's population to 600,000 from 1.6 million through starvation, killings and flight to better-fed communities - the war is little remembered here. The 60th anniversary on Monday of the Japanese surrender announcement was observed only by a few small gatherings: a talk by a war veteran at a local museum; a protest on Sunday against Japanese war crimes that drew 400 people by the organizers' count and only 200 according to the police. A modest wreath-laying ceremony on Sunday attended by Hong Kong's second-ranking official, Chief Secretary Rafael Hui, was carefully choreographed so as to exclude any specific mention of Japan, even as surviving prisoners of war were honored and the dead remembered. "We tried not to use the name of Japan anywhere, or who Hong Kong was liberated from, even though it is fairly obvious," said Ronald Taylor, who organized the event for the Prisoners of War Association here and explained that any mention of Japan would be "too controversial." By contrast, millions in China and South Korea have signed Internet petitions or joined street demonstrations this year to denounce Japan's reluctance to teach its children about its wartime atrocities, helping make the issue one of the most contentious in Asia. Many Japanese, in turn, have defended their country's wartime record. Even as Japan's prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, issued a historic apology on Monday for what he called the "tremendous damage and pain" his nation caused, members of his cabinet and dozens of lawmakers prayed at the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japanese war criminals among other dead. On the same day, North and South Korean officials issued a joint declaration urging the Japanese government to "stop distorting history" and "stop paying reverence to war criminals." But here in Hong Kong, residents have shown a surprising willingness to put the war behind them. "Sixty years is a moment to remember, but people pay more attention to economic development" these days, said Ho Pui-yin, a historian at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Ho and other historians cite several factors contributing to the city's willingness to move on. The large majority of Hong Kong's 6.8 million people are not descendants of wartime survivors, but are part of families that left mainland China later, fleeing the rise of Communism. Periodic discoveries of chemical weapons, munitions caches and other potentially hazardous wartime materials in mainland China, left by Japanese forces, have helped remind the Chinese public about the war. But there have been few such discoveries here in recent years, and historical research has languished because few combatants are left to interview. The city's history during World War II "is something which has been comprehensively strip mined, and there's little more to say," said Jason Wordie, a local historian, adding that a broad release of still-sealed military records in Japan is an unlikely prospect given the heated political environment. Hong Kong, like the Philippines, has also been fairly successful in attracting Japanese investment. Although heavy fighting and massacres in Manila claimed as many as 100,000 civilian lives near the end of World War II, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo did not mention the war during a speech on Monday, either. But perhaps the largest reason for the near silence here about the war lies in the way the British excluded most of the Chinese population from the defense of the territory in 1941, when the Japanese Army gathered nearby in an already conquered area of mainland China. So few army veterans of the war in Hong Kong are Chinese. As documented in a recent book by Philip Snow, "The Fall of Hong Kong," most of the territory's Chinese were eager to help fight the Japanese, especially after hearing horror stories about the Rape of Nanjing four years earlier. The British, however, were very leery of arming the local population, remembering earlier agitation against colonial rule, especially during the 1920's. British defenses collapsed quickly in the face of a Japanese attack that began hours after the assault on Pearl Harbor. After the war, the British paid limited attention to many of the Chinese guerrilla fighters who did fight the Japanese because they tended to be pro-Communist. Cai Song-ying, 80, a propaganda official for the Hong Kong-Kowloon Independent Brigade, a unit of the mainland-based East River Column, recalled how the British sent a banner of commendation in 1947 to the villages where the pro-Communist brigade had been most active in attacking Japanese units. The banner did not mention the pro-Communist groups like hers that had conducted the raids. The territory's return to Chinese rule in 1997 brought a shift in policy, though not enough of one to rekindle public passion about the city's fate under Japanese occupation. Hong Kong's first chief executive after the transfer, Tung Chee-hwa, soon invited East River Column survivors to what had been the official residence of British governors, and publicly thanked the former guerrillas, some of whom had been briefly thanked in 1946. Mr. Tung also granted free medical care at government hospitals to the survivors and, in some cases, government pensions. A list of the East River Column's dead in Hong Kong was placed with a list of British dead in a little shrine at City Hall here, where a modest annual event is held, a small recognition of what for most people in Hong Kong is a fading memory. "They are not that keen on it," Professor Ho said. "It is always a pity when people forget history."
japantoday.com 23 Aug 2005 National Court dismisses damages in libel suit over wartime beheading game in China Tuesday, August 23, 2005 at 15:04 JST TOKYO — The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday dismissed a damages suit filed by the relatives of two executed Japanese soldiers against two newspapers and a journalist over publications that said the two competed against each other to be first to behead 100 Chinese soldiers during wartime in 1937. Three family members of the two Imperial Japanese Army soldiers filed the lawsuit seeking 36 million yen in damages against the Mainichi Shimbun, the Asahi Shimbun and Katsuichi Honda, a journalist and former Asahi reporter. Judge Akio Doi said it is difficult to prove the news articles were fabricated in view of the fact that one of the soldiers made remarks taken to admit he had been involved in the reported beheading contest.
Xinhua 23 Aug 2005 Tokyo court rejects compensation suit on newspaper reporting www.chinaview.cn 2005-08-23 16:00:20 A lawyer (R) introduces the "killing contest" case in Tokyo, Japan, on August 23, 2005. The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday rejected a suit against Japanese newspapers for compensation filed by the families of two Japanese military officers who were reported to kill more than 100 Chinese people each in a "contest" in the Nanjing Massacre commited by Japanese invading troops in 1937. (Xinhua photo) TOKYO, Aug. 23 (Xinhuanet) -- The Tokyo District Court on Tuesday rejected a suit against Japanese newspapers for compensation from families of two Japanese military officers who were reported to kill more than 100 Chinese each in a contest in 1937. In the ruling, the court said it is difficult to judge whether the report was untrue because one of the officers admitted the existence of the contest after the story had been revealed. The ruling also said the report can not be seen as an apparent fabrication as the contest has yet to be confirmed. Still, the plaintiffs have lost the right seeking compensation as the suit is filed after the 20-year limit for claiming damages has expired, the court ruled. The Mainichi Shimbun reported in 1937 that, on the way to attacking Nanjing with their troops, Toshiaki Mukai and Takeshi Noda were competing for the glory of being the first to have killed 100 Chinese. In the contest, Mukai killed 106 and Noda scored 105. In addition, the appalling story appeared in a series of articles on the massacre in Nanjing carried by the Asahi Shimbun in 1971. In 1981, the leading daily also published a book, in which the killing spree was mentioned. They were sentenced to death for the atrocities by a Chinese court martial in December 1947 and executed the following month. A lawyer (L) and a former Asahi Shimbun journalist (R) read the jugement of the "killing contest" case in Tokyo, Japan, on August 23, 2005. (Xinhua photo) The family members filed the lawsuit with the court in April 2003, arguing that the Mainichi Shimbun had "fabricated" the storyand that the Asahi Shimbun continued to publish the book even though the "mass killing had been proven to be a false story." They are seeking a combined 36 million yen in compensation from the two newspapers and the Asahi Shimbun journalist Katsuichi Honda, who was the author of the report and the book. "Undoubtedly, the killing contest is a historical fact. The plaintiffs intend to deny the Nanjing Massacre, and further, whitewash Japan's aggression of China," Honda said of the case. Healso noted that the right-wingers are behind the lawsuit.
BBC 23 Aug 2005 Victory for Japan's war critics By Chris Hogg BBC News, Tokyo Many in Japan dispute the scale of killing in Nanjing in 1937 A Japanese court has rejected a claim that journalists made up the story of a killing competition carried out by Japan's army in China in 1937. It is a rare legal victory for the critics of Japan's wartime past. The relatives of two officers, accused of taking part in a race to decapitate Chinese soldiers, had sued for damages, claiming the report was fabricated. Japan and China dispute the scale of murder, rape and looting during Japan's wartime occupation of parts of China. As Japan's Imperial Army approached the Chinese city of Nanjing in 1937, war correspondents sent back home morale-boosting reports which were published in national newspapers. One described the exploits of two officers who were said to have staged a competition to be the first to behead 100 Chinese soldiers. The two men were later executed by the Chinese government. 'Not proven' Two years ago, though, their relatives lodged a claim for $330,000 (36m yen) in damages from two newspapers - one, whose forerunner published the story in 1937, and another which carried an article repeating the allegations in 1971. The families claimed the stories were false because they had not been proved. Now Tokyo's district court has rejected their suit. The officers had admitted they raced to kill 100 people, the judge said. Although the original article included some false elements and exaggeration, since a final historical assessment of the contest has not been made, it is difficult to say it was fiction, he added. The journalist who wrote the follow-up article in the 1970s claimed the case had been brought by those trying to deny the Nanjing massacre. It is an event still disputed by scholars in Japan and China, and continues to cause difficulties between the two countries more than half a century after it happened.
31`Aug 2005 Central Japanese prefecture to use controversial history textbook
www.chinaview.cn 2005-08-31 00:11:18 TOKYO, Aug. 31 (Xinhuanet) -- The educational
board of Japan's central Shiga Prefecture said Wednesday that it will adopt a
junior high school history textbook which whitewashes Japan's aggressive war against
its Asian neighbors. The textbook, edited mainly by the Japanese Society for
History Textbook Reform and published by Fusosha Publishing Inc., will be used
at one of the three prefectural government-run junior high schools from the next
school year beginning in April. It "will contribute to enhancing students'
interests in grand sense of our nation's history and characteristics of each era.
Thestudents will be enabled to broaden their views," Keiko Takahashi,head of the
educational board, was quoted by the Kyodo News as saying when announcing the
adoption of the textbook. Currently,the notorious textbook has been adopted only
in EhimePrefecture, Otawara, Tochigi Prefecture and Tokyo's Suginami Ward. Most
of Japanese junior high schools have refused to use it. According to the major
Japanese daily Mainichi Shimbun, of all 11,035 state and private junior high schools
across Japan, only 48 adopted the Fusosha textbook, merely 0.4 percent of the
total and far less than the publisher's target of 10 percent. China and South
Korea, along with the peace-loving groups in Japan, have strongly protested against
the Fusosha history textbook as it whitewashes Japan's militarist past and Japanese
army's atrocities on Asian people. Regarding the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China,
the book says, "Japanese forces caused a large number of Chinese military and
civilian personnel to die." But it challenged the validity of the casualties number
of the massacre. As a well-known fact, the hands of Japanese aggressors were stained
with the blood of the Asian people, with the Nanjing Massacre being one of the
most atrocious crimes they commited during which they savagely killed more than
300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers after occupying the then Chinese
www.koreaherald.co.kr 17 Aug 2005 Roh stirs row over retroactive punishment Main opposition Grand National Party accuses president of political maneuvering President Roh Moo-hyun's proposal to eliminate the statute of limitations for crimes against humanity committed by the state stirred legal and political debates yesterday as opponents questioned whether such a move would be against the constitution and is part of a possible conspiracy to weaken opposition forces who once held power. In a speech made during Monday's Liberation Day Ceremony - celebrating Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule - Roh called for legislation to nullify the statute of limitations for state crimes in both criminal and civil laws, stressing that it was time to bring all past wrongdoings to justice. While the main opposition Grand National Party accuses Roh of pursuing political motivations within his renewed determination to clear up the nation's checkered history, legal experts point out that bringing legal action to bear on cases that have expired time limits set by the statute of limitations would be unconstitutional. The present Constitution stipulates strict restrictions on nullification of the statute of limitations in criminal cases, which means that retroactive punishments for crimes which took place before a certain length of time are prohibited. If legislation to nullify the statute of limitations was passed, state officials who were convicted or walked free from crimes under past dictatorial governments could be retried regardless of how much time has passed. Also, unjust penalties against people could be canceled and victims who suffered abusive state injustice could be freed. The ruling Uri Party and the GNP are clashing sharply over Roh's remarks due to the ongoing scandal about the spy agency's illegal wiretapping of private conversations made during past dictatorial government administrations. Under the present law, illegal eavesdropping and other abuses of state powers that took place before the administration of former President Kim Young-sam are not subject to the possibility of new trials. But with new laws, the scope of retrials and retroactive punishments would be expanded to also encompass abusive state injustices carried out under the late President Park Chung-hee's administration. Opposition leader Park Geun-hye is the only daughter of the late president who led the dictatorial government until he was assassinated in 1979. The GNP immediately expressed strong opposition to the president's proposal, accusing Roh of attempting to gain political benefit by relating new laws with the current bugging scandal. "History is not a tool to attack others or to pretty up one's face. The reason that the government is not making any progress toward the future is because it's only interested in tackling the past," said GNP floor leader Kang Jae-sup in the party's meeting yesterday. However, the Uri Party announced that it would be possible to legislate laws to nullify the statute of limitations in both civil and criminal cases, as long as the public approved of the new laws. "Although the general principle of the Constitution is to restrict new trials and retroactive punishments for criminal cases with expired statute of limitations, it seems closer to the Constitutional spirit to overcome the principle if the case is of an important public interest," said Rep. Moon Byung-ho of Uri. Uri will work for prompt legislation to define clear boundaries of crimes that should be brought to light by new trials and punishments, Moon added. Amid the mounting dispute over political and legal issues, the government was found to have been working to create legislation that would effect similar purposes since April. In April, the Ministry of Justice put up a notice and held a public hearing to establish laws to nullify the statute of limitations for inhumane crimes stipulated in the International Criminal Court's regulations, the ministry said yesterday. Although the main purpose of the law is not the nation's past issues, the law could become the basis for retroactive punishments on serious crimes such as murder and genocide if passed. (email@example.com) By Shin Hae-in
Up to a thousand Andijan asylum seekers remain [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] OSH, 16 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Activists believe that more than 1,000 Uzbeks may still be in Kyrgyzstan and in need of assistance after fleeing from a violent government crackdown in the southeastern Uzbek city of Andijan on 13 May. More than 400 Uzbek refugees from Andijan recently left Kyrgyzstan under the protection of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). "There are around 1,000 of them [people crossing illegally from Andijan following the violence] in southern Kyrgyzstan according to our estimates, staying with relatives, friends or simply compassionate people in [the southern city of] Osh, Karasuu, Uzgen districts and other border towns and districts," Izzatilla Rakhmatillaev, head of the local Law and Order NGO, said in Osh. According to Rakhmatillaev, most of them are males aged between 25 and 50, mainly builders, craftsmen, tradesmen, teachers and imams. "One of them had a serious bullet injury," he added. According to local analysts, many people crossed the porous border at various points following the Andijan violence. There are few guards or checkpoints on the section of the border close to Andijan. A total of only around 75 people reported to the legal assistance point for asylum seekers near the Dostuk border crossing point not far from Osh. The contact point was established by the local Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, a local pro-democracy NGO, following the protests in Andijan. Hundreds of Uzbeks fled Andijan after Uzbek security forces violently suppressed protests in and around the city. According to rights groups, up to 1,000 people, mainly unarmed civilians, may have been killed. A group of around 500 crossed into Kyrgyzstan on 14 May, one day after the crackdown in Andijan. This group of asylum seekers were housed in a camp before eventually being relocated to Romania by UNHCR in late July. Many Andijanis wanted to join those who had already received asylum-seeker status in the Kyrgyz camp at Suzak. "Various bodies which they applied to did not give them a clear answer. After around 440 from the camp were moved for third country resettlement, many of those left behind became depressed and do not know what to do. Some of them told me that they would like to go to Tajikistan or Afghanistan," the activist maintained. Government bodies on the ground say, however, that there is no confirmed figure on the total number of 'informal' asylum seekers. "The rights groups and mass media talk about varying estimated numbers of Uzbek nationals who are staying in Kyrgyzstan illegally. However, I do not intend to exaggerate that figure and would not talk about a huge number," commented Nurilia Joldosheva, head of the regional migration office, speaking in Osh on Monday. But there may be hope for these people following a decision on Thursday by the southern office of the Kyrgyz migration department, to register the first three Uzbek nationals as asylum seekers. "We are starting to work with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] with regard to this group of people," Joldosheva said, adding that they would assess each case with UNHCR thoroughly. "As for these three persons who have been given asylum seeker status, now there will be standard procedures under Kyrgyzstan's legislation and the law provides that a substantial period of time for assessing the application for refugee status will be given," she explained. Sherali and Ikram are both from Andijan and are now living in the southern Kyrgyz city of Osh illegally following the killings in their home city. Both are in their 30s and while they agreed to speak to IRIN, they declined to give their real names, fearing for their own safety. "We went to the demonstration on that day [13 May] in Andijan with many other people. We thought that the authorities would listen to us and life would change for the better but a lot of blood was shed instead," Sherali said. "When the government forces started firing at people, we hid in a nearby house and went home keeping a low profile and from there, under the cover of night, made our way to Osh," Ikram said. "We crossed the border illegally. We did not have any identification and the Uzbek border guards would not have let us cross the border anyway," he explained. Ikram is unmarried but he left his elderly mother back in Andijan. His friend Sherali is missing his daughter and son, but neither of them want to return in the near future. "We are scared, the authorities will persecute us if we go back," Sherali claimed. "Why didn't we go to Suzak? [The camp in southern Jalal-Abad province where the camp for Uzbek asylum seekers was established] We would have been with the others in the camp and would now be in Romania," Ikram said bitterly. The two friends did try many times to join their fellow countrymen in the camp with the assistance of local rights activists but their efforts were futile. They were simply told 'to wait and see.' "We live keeping a very low profile and try not to be seen by people because we don't want to create any problems, either to ourselves or to the people who gave us refuge," the two friends explained. Rakhmatillaev said that most of the informal asylum seekers were making ends meet as best they could, either by working as masons or carpenters. One even managed to be hired as a driver for a local dignitary. Recently a group of them helped their landlord to harvest 30 hectares of wheat from a plantation in a suburb of Osh. "They do not want to be a burden to people who host them. It is not easy for people in Kyrgyzstan, who are not rich, to feed them," Rakhmatillaev noted.
AP 22 aug 2005 Powerful Explosion Near Beirut Hotel Injures at Least 3 BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 22 (AP) - A powerful explosion rocked a shopping center and hotel in the Zalka neighborhood in northern Beirut on Monday night, injuring at least three people and causing extensive damage, security officials said. Heavily armed Lebanese soldiers cordoned off the area, punching journalists to keep them back. Brig. Gen. Darwish Hobeika, the Civil Defense Corps commander, told Lebanese Broadcasting that two people were slightly injured and one Civil Defense rescuer was hurt. Zalka's mayor, Michel Murr, told Lebanese Broadcasting that the bomb was placed in an open area between the Moussa shopping center and the Promenade Hotel, which was packed with tourists. He said no tourists were hurt. The explosion shattered the windows of several apartment buildings and blew shutters off dozens of luxury boutiques in the neighborhood. Shattered glass and plaster filled the hotel lobby. Black smoke billowed high in the night sky, but there was no visible fire. Aluminum siding and roofing in the shopping center buckled. The state-run National News Agency estimated the explosion was caused by 45 pounds of TNT. Security forces were seen rounding up several suspects, including five men with their hands tied behind their backs who were taken to a military vehicle. Zalka, on the Mediterranean coast, is a mixed residential and commercial area on a main street that leads to Lebanon's Christian heartland. The area has cafes, restaurants and other nightspots. The explosion was the latest in a string of bombings that have killed or wounded politicians and other prominent figures in Lebanon since the assassination in February of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, an attack that rattled Lebanon's political and security foundations.
IRIN 18 Aug 2005 Impoverished Christians face forced eviction [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] LAHORE, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Hundreds of Christian residents in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore may be forced off their land in the face of soaring land values. The area, known as Yohanabad-II, was established in 1998 on the outskirts of the city as a model village but rumours of planned redevelopment of adjacent areas have created a problem for residents. Residents report that local ‘land mafia’ are now desperate to get their hands on the land and are attempting to harass around 400 families out of their homes. The land mafia are alleged to work with local police who assist them by making arrests in order to force families out. The issue arose after land prices in the area increased rapidly over the course of the past two years. The fact that major housing schemes are planned adjacent to the area, building new access roads, power supply lines and other facilities, is a key factor in the rapid rise in property values. At present, the Yohanabad-II area, lacks many such amenities. Residents also say that in some cases, representatives of the new schemes have attempted to persuade the Christians to sell their land at prices far below the market rate. "Because we are poor, they think they can convince us to take small amounts and vacate the land. But we know the actual rates are now much higher and these will continue to go up as the area is developed," said Yousaf Masih, who bought a plot in the locality in 1999. He has since built a small house on the land. The Yohanabad-II neighbourhood is neatly divided into several hundred plots on each of which houses have been constructed. It was originally secured by the Roman Catholic Church of Pakistan in the late 1990s and used to re-settle impoverished Christians who had been evicted from shantytowns across Lahore. The area was exclusively reserved for them and in 1999, those seeking land in the colony, paid for a plot in instalments amounting to the equivalent of about US $600. An NGO, Caritas, affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church, collected the money and issued receipts as proof of purchase. The colony was dedicated to the late Bishop John Joseph who committed suicide in May 1998 in the southern Punjab town of Sahiwal. He shot himself in public at a rally to protest against the country's controversial blasphemy laws. Currently, if an individual goes to the police and simply accuses someone of blasphemy, the police have to make an immediate arrest before an investigation. Bishop Joseph played a key role in persuading the church to establish the low-income housing scheme. Blasphemy laws were introduced during British colonial rule, before the Indian subcontinent was partitioned in 1947. Late President General Zia ul Haq added new provisions in the 1980s, apparently to appease Muslim religious hardliners and thereby garner support after he took control of the government in a 1977 coup. Christians make up less than two percent of Pakistan's 142 million population and are often ghettoised into living in closed Christian villages or in enclaves exclusively inhabited by those sharing their religion. Human rights organisations speak of a ‘religious apartheid’ to which all Pakistani non-Muslims are subjected. Christians are also disadvantaged at school and when applying for jobs, rights groups say. The Yohanabad-II residents are being offered the same amount of money they paid for the land years ago in order to persuade them to leave. They argue this amount is now a paltry sum and that as the rightful owners of the property, they should benefit from the speculative rise in land prices. "Some people here have spent large amounts of money to build their homes. They have nowhere to go," said Father James, a priest who works with the community in the area. Women who live in Yohannabad are often left alone at home during the day and have been the victims of intimidation and harassment by men from the land mafia that have sprung up, say rights activists. Residents of the area recently attended a meeting and appealed to Asma Jehangir, a leading lawyer and chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) to take up their case. "We have received the papers and the complaints of Yohanabad residents. We will conduct a fact-finding in the area and then decide on the next course of action," commented HRCP's, legal officer, Mehboob Ahmed Khan. While this case involves an entire colony, it is not the only incident in which members of a minority religious community have been forced off land in Pakistan. At least three cases have been reported in the last year in Faislabad, 150 km west of Lahore and in Lahore city. In each instance, Christians have been pressurised to sell their homes and land at low prices. Some say they have been threatened with legal action against them under controversial blasphemy laws if they fail to comply. "Minorities are especially vulnerable to the blasphemy laws and in various cases have been accused merely because somebody wished to seize their property," Khan said. Christians in Lahore and throughout Pakistan are keenly watching the outcome of the Yohanabad-II case. "If the authorities fail to take action, it only shows that Christians have no security in this country," Father James said.
BBC 19 Aug 2005 Tamil Tigers agree to hold talks Norwegian mediators held meetings with Tamil Tigers this week Sri Lanka's government and Tamil Tiger rebels have agreed to hold their first high-level talks since peace moves stalled in 2003, mediators have said. The chief Tamil Tiger negotiator confirmed the Tigers had agreed to discuss the implementation of the 2002 ceasefire agreement. The move follows last week's assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. The government blames the Tigers for his death but they deny involvement. Government spokesman Nimal Siripala de Silva welcomed the rebels' decision to attend talks and said the government was willing to engage in them without any preconditions. Heavy pressure The assassination of Mr Kadirgamar was seen as a major setback to Sri Lanka's peace process. In response, the government introduced emergency rule, allowing it to deploy troops throughout the country. TAMIL TRUCE Feb 2002: Government and Tigers sign ceasefire paving way for talks Dec 2002: Both sides agree to share power with autonomy for Tamils in north and east Apr 2003: Tigers suspend talks claiming marginalisation Mar 2004: Renegade Tiger leader splits group in east Jul 2004: Suicide blast in Colombo - first since 2001 Dec 2004: Tamil areas badly hit as tsunami strikes Jun 2005: Aid deal reached with Tigers amid protests Aug 2005: Tigers agree to high-level peace talks with the government Security fears Vidar Helgesen, deputy foreign minister of Norway, part of the foreign mission overseeing the truce, said the Tamil Tigers' agreement to talks was an important move. "This is a significant step forward against the backdrop of the killing of the foreign minister," he said. A time and place for the talks has yet to be confirmed. The Tigers have been fighting for a separate nation for the minority Tamils in the north and east since 1983. The BBC's Dumeetha Luthra, in Colombo, says that since the assassination, the rebels have been under heavy pressure to show they are maintaining peace. A Norwegian embassy spokesman stressed the talks would focus only on the ceasefire. "This is not the resumption of peace talks," Tom Knappskog told AFP. The government says the rebels have made several violations of the ceasefire agreement in recent years. On Wednesday, they called for a "review" of the ceasefire. It wants to "make use of the hindsight wisdom of three years to ensure the stronger implementation of the ceasefire", an official source told the BBC. Tsunami dispute Tiger chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, told the pro-rebel TamilNet web site that the rebels had accepted a Norwegian invitation to "participate in a review of the implementation of the ceasefire agreement in order to find practical ways of ensuring full compliance by both parties". Emergency powers allow the government to deploy troops freely The Tigers have also accused the government of failing to keep to the terms of the ceasefire. They allege the Sri Lankan military has been providing support to several Tamil paramilitary groups who have carried out attacks against the Tigers. Five rounds of peace talks were held between the government and Tamil Tigers after the ceasefire agreement was formalised in February 2002. The Tigers withdrew in April 2003, saying the government had failed to honour pledges on autonomy. More recently disputes over the administration of the tsunami relief effort and the sharing of international aid have caused tension. More than 60,000 people have died as a result of the conflict in Sri Lanka since 1983.
BBC 16 Aug 2005 Syrian Kurds clash with police Riots broke out in Kurdish areas of Syria last year Violent clashes between Syrian Kurds and police have erupted in the northern town of Ein al-Arab, according to a human rights organisation. The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in Syria said rioting broke out after Kurds were prevented from showing their support for a banned separatist group. Cars were damaged and stones thrown at police who responded by firing tear gas and making a number of arrests. The Kurds are supporters of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). A statement from the rights group condemned the violence of both sides, stressed the importance of national unity and urged self-restraint. There was no response from the Syrian government, which rarely comments on security issues. Conflict There are more than 1.5 million Kurds in Syria, who often complain of harassment by the security services. In June, a popular Kurdish cleric was found dead in eastern Syria. Many Kurds blamed the government for his death. Last year, five days of riots in Kurdish areas left 25 people dead and hundreds injured. They were sparked by a brawl at a football match in the northern town of Qameshli between rival Arab and Kurdish fans. For 15 years, the PKK fought the Turkish state in a conflict which claimed more than 30,000 lives. In recent years, the Syrian authorities have clamped down on the group as relations with Turkey have improved. It was outlawed in Syria in 1998.
China Post 16 Aug 2005 www.chinapost.com.tw Comfort women demand Japan apology, compensation (updated AM 00:05) 2005/8/16 The China Post staff & AP Shedding tears and surrounded by supporters, seven elderly Taiwanese women chanted slogans in Taipei yesterday demanding an official apology and compensation from Japan for forcing them to work as sex slaves during World War II. This is the first time for Taiwan's "comfort women," another term for innocent women to offer sex services to Japanese soldiers decades ago, to take to the street. The demonstration coincided with the 60th anniversary of the end of the war in the Pacific and the Republic of China's victory against Japanese aggressors in 1945 after waging an eight-year war and sacrificed millions of lives. Yet the political upheavals and turbulences in Asia did not end with the war. Although the hard-fought victory freed both Taiwan and South Korea from Japanese colonization, the war on the Chinese territory gave the scuttled Chinese Communists the time needed for regrouping and expansion. With the aid from the Soviet Union, which turned the surrendered Japanese weapons in northeastern China to the Communist troops and enabled the Communists to defeat the ROC troops led by then national leader Chiang Kai-shek. The Chinese Communists later helped North Korea to engage in bloody battles with South Koreans and American troops. Armed with missiles and possible nuclear weapons today, North Korea is still seen as a major threat to Japan. Similar anti-Japanese gatherings were held in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, and elsewhere in the region yesterday against Japanese atrocities in the war. "This will be our last protest and it will be up to the young people to keep up the campaign," said Tsai Kuei-ying, a diminutive 81-year-old, standing outside the Taipei office of Japan's Interchange Association -- the representative office -- with 200 younger supporters who released yellow balloons to pray for peace. Tsai is among 30 survivors from an estimated 2,000 Taiwanese women who were forced to work as sex slaves for Japanese troops across Asia. "We want an official apology from the Japanese government," Tsai and the other women chanted. "Compensate the grandmas and reveal the historic facts." As the demonstration took place, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in his second statement of regret for the war to Asian neighbors this year, expressed his "deep reflections and heartfelt apology" for the damages caused by Japan during its conquests in the region in World War II. However, an executive of the Taiwanese group leading the campaign to recognize the rights of the comfort women dismissed Koizumi's apology as insincere. "We would like to see an official apology accompanied by practical moves to detail the historic facts in history books, documents and museums," said Chen Wen-hui of the Taiwan's Women Rescue Foundation. "Restoring the facts will be essential in helping the Japanese to avoid repeating the same mistakes." Between 1895 and 1945 Taiwan was a Japanese colony, and about 200,000 Taiwanese men were drafted by Japan military to fight for Japan in World War II. More than 50,000 were either killed or remain missing, Taiwanese historians say. Some 28,000 are memorialized at Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine. The former Taiwanese sex slaves have rejected a Japanese compensation plan that involves supervision by a private group, saying the Japanese government should take direct responsibility. Kao Hsiu-chu, the daughter of a former sex slave who died in February, said it was unacceptable that Japan had not accepted responsibility, and that victims around Asia were rapidly dying out. She said that her mother, Lei Chun-ying, worked as a seamstress at a Japanese camp to support her four young children, but was subsequently forced to work as a comfort woman for Japanese troops. The comfort women issue came up for consideration in U.S. courts earlier this year. In June, an appellate court for the District of Columbia ruled against 15 Asian women suing Japan, saying that the issue involved international relations and could not be heard in the United States. The appellate court said it was "clear the Allied Powers intended that all war-related claims against Japan be resolved through government-to-government negotiations rather than through private tort suits." Women from Taiwan, China, South Korea and the Philippines were involved in that case.
IRIN 18 Aug 2005 Focus on ethnic minorities [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] ANKARA, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The plight of ethnic minorities in Turkmenistan remains bleak, despite claims to the contrary by the Turkmen government during this month's session of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). "Each of Turkmenistan's ethnic and racial minorities bears a heavy burden of discrimination and exclusion in the environment where preferential treatment is openly afforded only to ethnic Turkmen," Robert Arsenault, president of the International League for Human Rights (ILHR), asserted from New York. He went on to describe the human rights situation in the largely desert but energy rich state, as alarming. "The president for life, Saparmurat Niyazov, has defined the newly created country of Turkmenistan as the glorified home of ethnic Turkmen," Erika Dailey, director of the Open Society Institute's Turkmenistan Project, added from New York. "In that conceptualisation, there is no room for non-ethnic Turkmen in Turkmenistan. So the state has attempted to "turkmenify" its non-Turkmen population," added Dailey. Their comments come during the 67th session of the CERD from 2-19 August, held in Geneva, to review anti-discrimination efforts undertaken by the governments of Venezuela, Georgia, Zambia, Barbados, Tanzania, Iceland, Turkmenistan and Nigeria. These countries were among the 170 states which were party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The 18-member Committee, the first body created by the United Nations to review actions by member states to fulfil obligations under a specific human rights agreement, examines reports submitted periodically by state parties on efforts to comply with the Convention. Government representatives generally present the reports, discuss the contents with Committee members and answer questions. But reclusive Turkmenistan, a country of just five million, slightly larger than California and wedged between Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and Iran, has been a 'black hole' as far as information is concerned, since it gained independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. President Niyazov has established a personality cult centred on himself. Following an alleged attempt on his life in November 2002, human rights activists have reported a further tightening of restrictions on travel, opposition members and the media. This has prompted Human Rights Watch (HRW) to describe the hermit state as being one of the most repressive countries in the world today. GOVERNMENT POSITION That lack of transparency was evident in Geneva, when in the official report presented by Turkmen Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov on 11 August, he concluded that there is no discrimination of national minorities in the country. Yet according to rights activists, the minister's report raised many questions, which, when put, were either answered evasively or not at all. "There was a complete denial of the problem of ethnic minorities, as well as the obvious facts of abusing the rights of ethnic minorities," Farid Tuhbatullin, chairman of the Vienna-based Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights group, said. "It was an absolutely non-constructive position. There was an absolute lack of understanding for a need of dialogue between the government and NGOs, between Turkmenistan and the UN," said Tuhbatullin, citing conflicting statistical figures provided by the government. EXAMPLES OF DISCRIMINATION According to activists, racial and ethnic minority populations were excluded from employment in the public sector, denied access to education in their native language, restricted in their practice of religion and continuously intimidated by police. "Employment in the public sector, which dominates the national economy, is conditional on the fulfilment of the 'third generation' test, requiring an applicant to prove his/her Turkmen ancestry for three generations," Arsenault said. He added that since 1991, Kazakh, Uzbek and Armenian language schools have been closed, while instruction in Russian has diminished greatly. "Such important religious confessions as the Armenian Apostolic Church and Shia Islam, remain unregistered and thus illegal," the ILHR official added. He noted that Uzbeks, traditionally a rural population in the northern and eastern parts of the country, represent a special case as they are viewed with particular suspicion by the authorities as people not loyal to the regime. Meanwhile, Dailey accused the government in the capital, Ashgabat, of fabricating population data that significantly underestimated the actual numbers of ethnic minorities in the country. In the report to the UN CERD, for example, the Turkmen government claimed that minorities make up only 5.4 percent of the population. However, according to a 1995 population survey, Uzbeks made up 9.2 percent of the population, though in a recent report to the UN, that figure was placed at no more than 2 percent. "Where could so many people have gone so quickly?" Dailey asked. "Emigration of that magnitude would surely have been obvious to the international community," she explained, suggesting the more likely explanation was some form of forced assimilation. In a further discriminatory move, the government reportedly coerced other Turkic people such as Uzbeks and Kazakhs, to assimilate and "pass" as Turkmen under threat of a loss of job, which in Turkmenistan is tantamount to being sentenced to a lifetime of poverty. "Since the overwhelming majority of jobs in Turkmenistan are government jobs, this form of discrimination is a powerful tool for promoting the part of the population that the government wishes to see prosper (ethnic Turkmen) and to impoverish those the government wishes to see fail (ethnic minorities)," Dailey claimed. To counter such possibilities, it is not unusual for non-ethnic Turkmen to add a typical Turkmen ending to their last name, she said, while others enter into fictitious marriages with ethnic Turkmen as a means to secure Turkmen-sounding names. As for those who could not easily "pass" as Turkmen - mainly Russians and Ukrainians - the government purportedly undertakes measures to bring about their emigration. In April 2003, the same day it signed a 25-year gas contract with the Russian energy giant, Gazprom, Ashgabat withdrew recognition of dual Turkmen-Russian citizenship. "It forced such citizens - not all of whom were ethnic Russian, but all of whom had Russia as a place of national origin - to either renounce their Russian citizenship, or keep their Russian citizenship but lose their property in Turkmenistan. It was a horrific and clearly discriminatory Hobson's Choice," Dailey asserted. Forced into a corner, according to an IRIN report in July 2003 [Focus on the Russian minority], thousands of ethnic Russians left the country under an imposed deadline to choose. CLAIMS OF FORCED RESETTLEMENT Dailey also cited 'ethnic internal exile' as another example of racial discrimination virtually unseen anywhere else in the world. Domestic laws allow for the "resettlement" of five categories of individuals, including those deemed "unworthy", she claimed. She noted that to date, some 25 families have already been "resettled" with plans reportedly calling for the resettlement of up to 6,000 people to uninhabitable and barren regions of the country. With limited access to the Central Asian state, such reports have yet to be confirmed and consequently receive the international attention they deserve, leaving outside observers in a quandary as to what they can do. A WAY FORWARD According to Arsenault, Turkmenistan has made some responses to criticism from the international community and individual states in the past, with the relaxation of registration requirements for religious groups and organisations in 2004 being a notable example. "International institutions, such as the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), need to keep up the momentum by engaging the government of Turkmenistan in meeting its obligations under international law," he said. He added that observers should not underestimate the role that countries enjoying extensive bilateral relations with Turkmenistan - mainly Turkey, Ukraine and Russia - could play. Dailey, however, was more blunt. She said the best deterrent to ethnic discrimination is international recognition and condemnation of the country's appalling human rights record. There should also be close monitoring of the government's compliance with measurable benchmarks for stopping such practices - even in courts outside the country. "The UN, in particular, can play an enormously constructive role in calling for the government to account for its discriminatory practices," she emphasised. In advance of the official presentation made by Turkmenistan to the committee, ILHR and the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights presented a joint alternative report to the CERD members and NGO representatives. They offered factual evidence of violations of the rights of national minorities on behalf of the Turkmen state, as well as an analysis of the state's legislation showing certain laws that contain discriminatory norms.
IRIN 18 Aug 2005 Fear grips Andijan three months after killings [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN Locals in Andijan eye strangers suspiciously, careless talk about the May killings can lead to arrest and torture, they say ANDIJAN, 18 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - Three months after a violent government crack down on protests in the southeastern Uzbek city of Andijan, there is a palpable sense of fear on and off the streets, despite less soldiers seen in public and shops and office open as usual. People who witnessed the killing of up to 1,000 mainly unarmed civilians on 13 May in and around the city say they are burning inside but giving up hope of obtaining justice for the dead and injured. Most of the hundreds of witnesses to the killings that followed a protest against the trial of local businessmen, live in constant fear of arrest and interrogation. The regional offices of the Department of Internal Affairs, National Security Service (NSS) and Public Prosecutor continue to "interview" residents. "I was called to the NSS because my classmate was one of the Akromiya followers and lived in the neighbourhood with me in the Bogishamol area," a local resident who did not want to be identified said. Andijan protests were sparked by a trial of 23 local entrepreneurs convicted by the Uzbek authorities of allegedly being members of the banned Akromiya religious group. "I have been under interrogation for several weeks and was forced to sign a false statement because when I refused to do so, intelligence service officers said that they would bring my wife in and rape her in front of my eyes. I had no other way out," the resident maintained. Despite an international outcry at the violence, that has been likened to the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing, where 3,000 students were mown down by troops in June 1989, Tashkent has adamantly refused to allow or participate in any international independent inquiry into the episode. Uzbek prosecutor said on 11 July that the Andijan death toll had risen to 187, and that half of those killed were armed militants. Bakhodyr Dehkanov, prosecutor for the Andijan region, told foreign diplomats invited to monitor the government's probe into the incident that "terrorists" who were in the crowd of demonstrators used hostages as human shields to fire weapons at police and civilians. For those who have chosen to talk about the deadly events in Andijan, even with other residents of the city, the consequences can be dire. In Soviet-era KGB style, Kanoat, a resident of Andijan, said that a local woman in her 50s had been detained by law-enforcement bodies for discussing the killings while using public transport. "I was in a city minibus taxi, when one woman began talking how soldiers shot at unarmed people and her friends were killed. She spoke for about five minutes when suddenly a young man in civilian clothes on the bus stopped it, showed his identification and forced the woman to get off. He said that he would find out who shot whom and took the frightened woman with him," Kanoat said. Many people are still afraid to search for their relatives who went missing after the killings, fearful they may be accused of taking part in the demonstration. The security forces reportedly randomly arrested many local people, primarily men between 17 and 45. "Many of them have become cripples after being tortured. There are people who even died because of torture," claimed a 40-year-old local man on condition of anonymity. A report by UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, released in 2003 noted that torture was systematically practiced by Uzbekistan's law-enforcement bodies in prisons and detention facilities. Today, there are almost no independent journalists, human rights or opposition activists left in Andijan. Many activists had been arrested, while some had to flee the country. Among those held in detention are Mukhiddinov Dilmurod, head of Andijan's Marhamat district branch of the 'Ezgulik' rights group. His deputy, Musajan Babajanov, along with Nurmuhammad Azizov and Akbar Oripov, activists from the Andijan branch of the unregistered Birlik opposition party, were also in custody. Kuchkor Sotivoldiev, a local law specialists, said that all arrested activists were currently being held in the cellars of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), where they were interrogated by the NSS and police. Access to the men by lawyers or family has been denied. Meanwhile, Vasila Inoyatova, head of Ezgulik, said the clampdown in and around Andijan was being felt across Uzbekistan. "Regional Ezgulik activists, including the Jizak, Andijan, Navoi, Kashkadarya, Ferghana and Tashkent city branches, are suffering persecution after the Andijan tragedy. Uzbek law-enforcement bodies threaten the above-mentioned regional branches and have warned them not to interfere in the work of the security forces," she said.
IRIN 4 Aug 2005 Fate of Andijan 15 remains unclear [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN Over 500 Uzbeks from Andijan sought asylum in Kyrgyzstan in May ANKARA, 4 Aug 2005 (IRIN) - The fate of more than a dozen Uzbeks who fled violence in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May and are currently being detained in southern Kyrgyzstan remains unclear, pending a decision by the Kyrgyz prosecutor general. "There is no final decision on this aspect yet. Representatives of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Uzbek side are actively involved in this issue along with our Kyrgyz group," Asan Kangeldiev, head of the information and external relations department of the office of the prosecutor general, said from the capital Bishkek on Thursday. "The office of the prosecutor general is not planning for the time being to deport any Uzbeks held in detention and the issue is still under consideration," Kangeldiev maintained. "The decision will be made after consultations with UNHCR and the Uzbek side," he added. More than 500 Uzbeks fled across the border to Kyrgyzstan in May, following a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests in Andijan, in which upwards of 1,000 unarmed civilians may have been killed, according to rights groups. The Uzbek government said that the death toll was 187. But while a statement from the the prosecutor general said on Monday that the Andijan 15 should be sent back to Uzbekistan, Kangeldiev explained: "This was a viewpoint from the prosecutor general's office, but we need to assess the arguments from UNHCR as well." "According to the Kyrgyz legislation, there is a period of six months for determination of the refugee status, while in some cases it could be extended up to a year," Zafar Hakimov, head of the Kyrgyz migration department, told IRIN. Their comments came one day after the UN refugee agency reiterated its concern over the plight of the 15 men, 12 of whom had been announced UNHCR mandated refugees, but remained in custody in the southern city of Osh after 439 of their fellow exiles had been airlifted to Romania on Friday. According to UNHCR, three men were currently undergoing status determination and therefore were under the protection of the 1951 Refugee Convention. Moreover, 11 of the 15 had already been accepted by three European countries for resettlement. "We hope that the people living in difficult circumstances in detention will be released as soon as possible," Ekber Menemencioglu, the Geneva-based director of UNHCR's Central Asia, Southwest Asia, North Africa and Middle East bureau, said. "There is a strong possibility that they would face persecution if returned to Uzbekistan. We have to remember that despite all our requests so far, we still have not received any official information about the four asylum seekers who were deported in early June to Uzbekistan." He stressed that the 1951 Refugee Convention was an internationally recognised legal instrument to which Bishkek was a signatory. "We continue to have faith that the Kyrgyz authorities will stand by their principles and release these people before long," Menemencioglu added. Meanwhile, the 439 Uzbeks who were airlifted to Romania were now staying in a reception centre in the western city of Timisoara, UNHCR reported, where they were currently receiving medical attention and assistance items for what UNHCR assured the Romanian government would be a short stay. Countries like Australia, Canada and the United States were now working closely with the UN refugee agency staff and Romanian authorities to interview the refugees for permanent resettlement.
BBC 15 Aug 2005 Shia rebels go on trial in Yemen The rebels are said to be followers of Shia cleric Hussein al-Houthi Alleged Shia rebels in Yemen have gone on trial, accused of a series of deadly attacks against the security services. The state prosecutor has charged more that 30 rebels with belonging to an illegal armed group. The defendants disrupted the start of the trial by chanting Islamist slogans, before the judge adjourned the hearing. The rebels are accused of being supporters of rebel cleric Hussein al-Houthi who was killed in a battle with Yemeni troops in 2004. Prosecutor Saed al-Aqel accused the defendants of a spate of attacks on soldiers in the capital Sanaa in which one officer was killed and 27 people injured. "They were also planning to attack the intelligence services building, an army barracks and state television," he said. Hundreds killed Judge Nagib Qadri was forced to suspend proceedings after the accused began to chant "death to America, death to Israel" and turned their backs on the bench whilst loudly reciting Koranic verses. The insurgents are members the largely peaceful Zaidi sect, a branch of Shia Islam dominant in the region near the Saudi border in what is otherwise a mainly Sunni country. Hundreds were killed last year in clashes between Yemeni troops and the followers of rebel preacher Hussein al-Houthi. He was killed during the clashes in September 2004. At least another 70 people were killed in when the government launched a renewed crackdown on the cleric's supporters in April this year. The rebels are now thought to be led by Hussein al-Houthi's father, Badr al-Din al-Houthi. Yemen says the group preaches violence against the US and Israel in mosques.
BBC 27 Aug 2005 Support dwindles for fugitive Karadzic By Nick Hawton BBC News, Montenegro Indicted for genocide by the UN war crimes in The Hague, Radovan Karadzic has evaded capture for 10 years. Now, a senior member of the Serbian Orthodox Church and previous supporter of Mr Karadzic, Amfilohije Radovic, has urged him to give himself up. Amfilohije Radovic gave the sermon at the funeral of Karadzic's mother I was trying to read Amfilohije Radovic's eyes. His deep-set hazel eyes. What was he thinking? What did he know? Why was he telling me all this? He was wearing the traditional black robe, with a long grey beard and a gold chain with a pendant depicting Mary and Jesus. Black prayer beads passed through his hands as he considered his answers. This was his first interview with the international media for a decade. Naturally, he was being careful. After all, the subject we were talking about could hardly be more sensitive - the whereabouts of Europe's most wanted man. 'Closeness' Metropolitan Amfilohije has always been close to the Karadzic family A contact with impeccable contacts had set up the interview, in one of those remote mountain monasteries in the former Yugoslav Republic of Montenegro. A winding, uphill road brought us to our destination. A few houses nearby kept the monastery company. The views towards the surrounding mountains and valleys were spectacular. The interviewee was the most senior member of the Serbian Orthodox Church in Montenegro. Some believe Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic will be the next head of the Serbian Orthodox Church. He is a man with impeccable contacts: his cousin is married to the prime minister of Serbia. Another of his contacts, well, former contacts, was the subject of our conversation: the former Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karadzic. Mr Karadzic has been indicted for genocide by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role during the Bosnian War. He has been on the run for the past eight years. Metropolitan Amfilohije has always been close to the Karadzic family. He gave the sermon at the funeral of Mr Karadzic's mother, Jovanka, when she died earlier this year. I was there and heard Amfilohije compare Jovanka to the mothers of past Serbian heroes. But, allegedly, his closeness goes further than that and Amfilohije and his Church have been accused of sheltering Mr Karadzic. Offering help Radovan Karadzic has been evading capture for 10 years We sat in the garden of the monastery, a small glass table next to us. A bowl of bread was provided. Nuns hovered deferentially and served us grape brandy and coffee. Another monk filmed us on a home video camera. "For the Metropolitan's personal archive," I was told. And so to the questions: Has his Church been protecting Radovan Karadzic? Absolutely not. When was the last time he saw Mr Karadzic? 10 years ago. Would he give Mr Karadzic help if he was asked for it? He would give help to anyone in need. Responsibilities The atmosphere relaxed and I asked him to abandon, just for a moment, his clerical robes. A pause. It is a sign that things may be changing in the Balkans regarding the future of Radovan Karadzic A slight look of surprise. And then I carried on: "And for a moment, be a journalist." Smiles all round. Even laughter from my host and his cameraman. Imagine you are a journalist and you can ask Radovan Karadzic one question. What would it be? The Metropolitan looked ahead, a pause. A little chuckle. Another smile. "I would ask him, I would ask him did he prefer to live in a hole, like a hunted animal, or would he prefer to go to The Hague and hand himself in." And the Metropolitan went further. "Just as I wouldn't want someone to impose their will on me, so I wouldn't want to impose my will on Mr Karadzic," he told me. "But if I was him, I would go to The Hague. I expect him to do the right thing. To take the responsibility upon himself." Television appeal Now this was really surprising. A traditional close ally of the Karadzic family, someone who has even been accused of protecting him, saying that if he was in his place, he would go to The Hague. Not a direct appeal, but as close as you get. And it is a sign that things may be changing in the Balkans, regarding the future of Radovan Karadzic. If Mr Karadzic is eventually found to be hiding in Montenegro, it could be very embarrassing Last month his wife went on Bosnian television and, in virtual tears, appealed for her husband to give himself up for the sake of the family. Unprecedented words from his closest and most loyal ally. These are powerful voices in the world of Mr Karadzic. The question is, will they be loud enough for him to hear? 'Denials' Sources close to the Montenegro government claim that Western intelligence agencies are actively working on the ground in the republic to try to pinpoint the exact location of the former Bosnian Serb leader. And then, if possible, broker a deal for his surrender. Things seem to be happening. But there is one potential problem. If Mr Karadzic is eventually found to be hiding in Montenegro, it would be very embarrassing for the Church, the government and for the security forces. Especially after all the years of persistent denials. Heads would have to roll. Some believe it might be better, that if Mr Karadzic is found, that he is not found alive.
DPA 29 Aug 2005 Sarajevo marks 10th year since massacre Sarajevo _ Sarajevo officials gathered at the city's Markale marketplace yesterday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of a massacre by Bosnian Serb troops which killed 43 people and injured over 80. The 1995 massacre at Markale unleashed Nato air strikes, the biggest operation in the history of the alliance, which significantly weakened Bosnian Serb positions and helped bring an end to the 1992- 1995 bloodshed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Nato decided to react against Bosnian Serb troops just two days after the massacre, as soon as UN investigators confirmed that the mortar was launched from Bosnian Serb positions in Sarajevo. Bosnian Serb troops held the capital under siege for 43 months during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, terrorising its citizens by bombing and sniper fire.
www.b92.net 23 Aug 2005 More inter-ethnic violence in Croatia | 14:39 August 23 | B92 SIBENIK -- Tuesday – According to index.hr, another violent incident between Serbs and Croats in the village of Djevrska occurred this weekend. On Saturday night, three Croatian men from the village of Kistanje spent an hour in the Engel café, which is frequented only by Serbs. One of the persons, thirty year old I.C., began breaking glasses around the café. He soon cut himself and owner Tatjana Milos offered to help him by bandaging the wound. Even though Milos told him that he did not have to pay his tab if the man would just calm down, I.C. pulled out a gun and fired three shots out the window of the café just before closing time. Police arrived to the scene shortly and tried to take I.C. into custody when two of his friends entered and started a shoving match with the police officers. I.C. escaped from the backseat of the police car and broke another window of the café, this time with his hand and was then taken into custody. His friends escaped but were soon found and arrested as well. According to police reports, all three men were heavily intoxicated. Members of I.C.’s family visited the café the next day to apologize for his violent behavior.
BBC 21 Aug 2005 Jaruzelski says sorry for 1968 Gen Jaruzelski offered his "sincere apologies" Former Polish President Wojciech Jaruzelski has apologised for the first time for the role he played in the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. Gen Jaruzelski, 82, said he was still "tormented" by the decision to send in Polish troops to crush a pro-democracy movement, known as the "Prague Spring". He made the apology on the 37th anniversary of the invasion on the Czech television. Gen Jaruzelski was Poland's minister of defence at the time. "It was a stupid political act," he said during a TV debate on the issue. "Today I deeply regret it but at the time I could not act otherwise. It was a political decision. "But, in 1968, I was the defence minister implementing a political decision, convinced that there were grounds for that on the basis of the information available to us then," Gen Jaruzelski said. Warsaw Pact invasion Dozens of people were killed in a massive military clampdown in the then Czechoslovakia by five Warsaw Pact countries. Soviet tanks remained in Czechoslovakia until 1991 Several members of the liberal Czechoslovak leadership were arrested, including Prime Minister Alexander Dubcek. The occupation was launched in line with Moscow's policy of the time that military intervention was justified to enforce compliance from the Soviet Union's satellite states. Soviet troops remained in Czechoslovakia until 1991, two years after the so-called "Velvet Revolution" peaceful overthrew communism. In 1993 Czechoslovakia completed "Velvet Divorce" which resulted in two independent countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
AFP 23 Aug 2005 10,000 at Funeral in France of Slain Taize Leader TAIZE, France, Aug 23 (AFP) - Some 10,000 people, among them senior European clergy and politicians, attended the funeral Tuesday of Brother Roger Schutz, the leader of the Taize ecumenical community who was slain by a Romanian woman last week. A Vatican cardinal in charge of uniting Christian churches, Walter Kasper, led the mass in the community's Reconciliation church in the town of Taize, in France's eastern Burgundy region, where Schutz, 90, was killed last Tuesday. Dignitaries attending included German President Horst Koehler, French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, senior clergy from France, Bolivia, Hungary, India, Poland and the United States, and representatives of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Canterbury Diocese of the Church of England, according to community spokesman Brother Emile. The wooden coffin was brought in by five other Taize brothers, followed by Schutz's nominated successor, Brother Alois Leser, a German Catholic, who walked with a group of children. With the church filled to capacity, thousands of those who had come to pay respects had to follow the proceedings on a giant video screen set up outside. Schutz, a Swiss-born Protestant theologian, started the Taize movement in 1940 to provide a refuge for those fleeing the turmoil of World War II. Originally a monastic order focused on meditation and prayer, Taize developed into an international pilgrimage site for prayer and reflection whose goal was to reconcile Christian denominations. The popular religious leader was killed by a 36-year-old Romanian woman as he led prayers in front of 2,500 people in the Taize church. The woman, Luminita Solcan, stabbed Schutz once from behind then, according to witnesses and police, slit his throat. His death shocked the community and elicited messages of grief from around the world. Pope Benedict XVI called it "a very sad piece of news". Solcan's doctor in Romania said she suffered from schizophrenic problems and was off prescribed medication at the time of the attack. She is being held by French police pending a criminal investigation against her and a decision on whether she is mentally fit to be prosecuted. Those attending Tuesday's funeral hailed from around the world. Ninety of the community's 100 brothers were present, with the others remaining with their outposts they have set up in Brazil, Senegal, Bangladesh and South Korea. Schutz was to be buried after the service in a simple ceremony in the community's cemetery, where his mother and other Taize brothers are interred.
Germany See Turkey
news.adventist.org 16 Aug 2005 Europe: German, Austrian Churches Apologize for Holocaust Actions August 16, 2005 Hannover, Germany .... [Mark A. Kellner/ANN Staff] Seventh-day Adventists in Germany and Austria recently apologized for any participation in or support of Nazi activities during the war. Pictured is the identity card of Max-Israel Munk, a Jewish-born Adventist dropped from church rolls in Germany when the Nazis ordered such exclusions. After surviving imprisonment in two concentration camps, Munk returned home after the war and reapplied for membership, which was granted. [Photo: AdventEcho magazine, Germany] Noting the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, Seventh-day Adventist church leaders in Germany and Austria have released a declaration saying they "deeply regret" any participation in or support of Nazi activities during the war. The church bodies "honestly confess" a failure "in following our Lord" by not protecting Jews, and others, from that era's genocide, widely known as the Holocaust. Millions of people perished from war atrocities, including more than 6 million Jews who were exterminated in Nazi persecutions during the 12-year period of 1933 to 1945. The declaration was initially published in the May 2005 issue of "AdventEcho," a monthly German-language church magazine, and also will appear in other German publications, said Pastor Günther Machel, president of the South German Adventist church area and one of three signatories to the statement. A copy of the statement has been provided to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority in Israel, added Dr. Rolf Pöhler, a former North German church area president who is now that region's theological advisor, and was involved with the drafting of the declaration. "We deeply regret that the character of National Socialist dictatorship had not been realized in time and distinctly enough, and the ungodly nature of [Nazi] ideology had not clearly been identified," the statement, as translated from German, reads. The church says it also regrets "that in some of our publications ... there were found articles glorifying Adolf Hitler and agreeing with the ideology of anti-Semitism in a way that is unbelievable from today's [perspective]." Church leaders also expressed regret that "our peoples became associated with racial fanaticism destroying the lives and freedom of 6 million Jews and representatives of minorities in all of Europe," and "that many Seventh-day Adventists did not share the need and suffering of their Jewish fellow-citizens." A paramount regret, the statement indicated, was that German and Austrian Adventist congregations "excluded, separated and left [church members who were] ... of Jewish origin to themselves so that they were delivered to imprisonment, exile or death." Under various racial decrees, some Adventist congregations expelled members of Jewish heritage. One, Max-Israel Munk, was placed in two concentration camps by the Nazis and survived and returned to his church after the war. He said he did not wish to act toward his congregation in the way in which he had been treated, according to Dr. Daniel Heinz, a church archivist at Friedensau University who has studied Adventist activities during the National Socialist era. Along with Pastor Machel, the other leaders who signed the statement were Pastors Klaus-Jurgen van Treeck, North German church president, and Herbert Brugger, president of the Adventist Church in Austria. Pöhler and Johannes Hartlapp, church historian at Friedensau, drafted the statement on which the declaration is based. All three church geographic areas voted to approve the text, Pöhler said. In the statement, the three assert that "The obedience we owe to the state authorities does not lead to giving up biblical convictions and values." They said that while only God can judge the actions of prior generations, "in our day, however, we want to take a decided stand for right and justice -- towards all people." Brugger, in a telephone interview, said "Our church members really appreciated the publishing of this document." He indicated that it was something younger members of the church "appreciated very much." No indication of a reaction from Austria's Jewish community has been received, but Brugger said the Adventist Church is not as well known in Austria as some other movements are. Asked how a church that considers keeping the Sabbath as one of its core beliefs could forsake Jewish Sabbath-keepers during a time of persecution, Brugger suggested that it was political, not theological, considerations that may have led to the strategy. During World War I, a portion of the German Adventist Church had split off, opposing any military service. This led the National Socialists in 1936 to ban the so-called "Reform Movement" during their time in power. Brugger said concern over a Nazi closure of the main Seventh-day Adventist churches may have weighed on leaders in that era. "I think during these times the official leaders of our church were afraid of losing the control over the church and losing the church because the political authorities had already ... [confused] our church with the Reform movement," he explained. "I think our leaders were afraid to lose the official recognition of our church, so therefore maybe they were not [as faithful] to our beliefs as would have been necessary." He added, "It was more political than theological, I'm quite sure." The main Seventh-day Adventist Church in Germany was also briefly banned under the Nazis, notes Pöhler. A quick reversal by the regime led to relief among Adventists, but also a level of cooperation with the government that was unhealthy. "We not only kept silent, but we also published things we never should have published. We published anti-Semitic ideas that, from our perspective, weren't really needed," Pöhler said in a telephone interview. "We went several steps further and published things that really were anti-Semitic. ... We went out of our way to show our loyalty to the German [National Socialist-era] government." "We had to realize that one wrong statement, one wrong move by a person meant he could end up in a concentration camp," Pöhler said of that era. "[That was the] reason why we excluded and disfellowshipped Jewish-born Adventists from our midst: If a local church had not done this, [the Nazis] would have closed the church, taken the elder to prison and it would have meant the whole church would be forbidden." While some European Adventists took courageous stands to protect Jews, others went along in part because of concern for their families and churches. It would be difficult enough for an individual to reach out to a Jewish person, Pöhler explained, but to risk the lives of those in a congregation was an added burden. Such caution was even reflected in the nomenclature used by German Adventists, he said. "We renamed Sabbath School to 'Bible School' -- [we] didn't use the [original] term because it meant taking a risk," Pöhler said. "We were in danger of being confused with the Jews. By refusing to call it Sabbath School, you make a statement; you make a little distance between yourself and the Jews." Dr. Daniel Heinz, director of church archives at the Adventist university in Friedensau, Germany, said his research into the stories of Adventists who helped Jews during the war led to his discovery of those who acted less honorably. "The church leaders adapted and even took over some anti-Semitic ideology from the Nazis; in some instances, they did more than was necessary to please the [Nazi] authorities. This is something which is really strange for us," Heinz said. At the same time, he said, "I know that many Adventist members, [ordinary] people, helped Jews, but never talked about it." Resistance to Nazi policies, as well as the compassionate, yet brave response of many Christians, among them Seventh-day Adventists, to protect lives of those under Nazi persecution, have been documented throughout Europe, including Poland, Hungary, Holland and Denmark, among other countries. "I found some very impressive stories of Adventists who helped Jews in the Third Reich, risking their lives, and I found the opposite," Heinz said. Among other church members, one Latvian Adventist family took in a Jewish man, hid him during the war, and survived. The refugee became an Adventist believer and church pastor after the war ended. According to Pastor Machel, "Sixty years after World War II is late -- but we saw it as the last chance for a declaration." There had been earlier attempts at making such statements, although these were either largely ignored or blunted by those church leaders who had lived through the Nazi era and wanted to avoid having the church "judge" those who had gone before. However, in 1988, on the 50th anniversary of the Nov. 9 "Kristallnacht," or "night of broken glass" in which Nazi-inspired gangs shattered shop windows of Jewish merchants and ransacked synagogues, the then East German Adventist Church released a declaration in its small magazine. In 1989, during centennial celebrations of the Adventist Church in Hamburg, Pastor Erwin Kilian, president of the North German church, referred to "the dark period" in his address and offered an apology of his own. A further brief statement was made in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. Young adult church members reacted positively to the statement's expressions of concern and contrition. Two Berlin Adventists said they appreciated the declaration. "To humbly reveal our sins and failures is the most important thing God wants us to do," said Sara Gehler, 25. "And even though 60 years have already passed, I think it was necessary for us as [the Seventh-day Adventist] Church to take a stand on the Second World War." She added, "It is our duty as Christians to protect and help those who are weak, helpless and in need." Julian Müller, 26, added, "I think it is our responsibility as a church to confess our errors and not hide them, especially when human lives are at stake. ... My hope is that for the errors and failures of our church that have happened since then, it will not take 60 years until we mount up the courage to ask for forgiveness." Response from church members in the South German region, which includes cities such as Munich and Nurenberg, where the National Socialists drew great strength, was "very positive," Pastor Machel said. "Some [had] really waited for such an action from the church leadership." The declaration was also well-received in many Adventist church circles internationally. "I was waiting for a text like this one for long time," said Pastor Richard Elofer, who heads the church's work in Israel. "I praise the Lord for touching the hearts of our people in Germany and Austria to produce such a declaration." Added Dr. John Graz, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director for the Adventist world headquarters, "For those who believe in God's love for every member of the human family, against any kind of discrimination based on race, religion or gender, this declaration written by a generation which had no responsibility in the Holocaust and the war, but endorse the responsibility of their parents, will stand as a positive landmark and great encouragement."
NYT 19 Aug 2005 At Synagogue, Pope Warns of Rising Anti-Semitism By IAN FISHER COLOGNE, Germany, Aug. 19 - Pope Benedict XVI warned today of rising anti-Semitism and hostility to foreigners, winning a standing ovation during a visit to a rebuilt synagogue that had been destroyed by the Nazis. A ram's horn sounded and a choir chanted in Hebrew "peace be with you" as Benedict became only the second pope to visit a synagogue, praying and remembering Holocaust victims. "Today, sadly, we are witnessing the rise of new signs of anti-Semitism and various forms of a general hostility toward foreigners," he said. Benedict said progress had been made, but "much more remains to be done. We must come to know one another much more and much better." The pope said Christians and Jews must join forces so the "insane racist ideology" that led to the Holocaust never resurfaces. The German-born pope, who served briefly in the Hitler Youth during the war and later deserted the German Army at the end of World War II, paused to pray as he began his visit at a memorial to the six million killed. He returned Thursday to his "beloved homeland" of Germany, in his first trip abroad as pope, making his entrance to this city in a boat on the Rhine and cheered on by tens of thousands of young Catholics here for a huge festival of faith. "To all of you I appeal: open wide your hearts to God!" he said from the upper deck of the boat, to crowds of young people here for World Youth Day, some of them hip deep in the murky river for a closer look. "Let yourself be surprised by Christ! Let him have 'the right of free speech' during these days!" His four-day trip here is a considered a major test of his young papacy, and he has already signaled some of his priorities: he will meet with Jewish and Muslim leaders, as part of his declared commitment to inter-religious relations. At the same time, he will speak much about Christianity in Europe, and about his aim to revive the faith on an ever-more-secular continent. But in many ways, this trip seems likely to be judged on how the 78-year-old Benedict, a shy, cerebral and unstagey man, connects with half a million or more young Catholics here, in an event founded in 1984 by his charismatic predecessor, John Paul II, who put a particular emphasis on the young. Judging by the numbers for this 20th World Youth Day, the new pope does not have trouble drawing a crowd: 400,000 young people from all over the world registered beforehand to come, a high number compared with the turnout for other World Youth Days. Organizers say they expect 800,000 people to attend the closing Mass on Sunday outside Cologne. And the crowds here - waving flags from dozens of countries - greeted him joyously, amid tight security and a small flotilla of police boats. Young people chanted his name as his boat passed, some holding up banners with messages like, "We are with you, Benedetto!" While some seemed to know little about the new pope, some spoke with approval of his orthodox views expressed in 24 years as defender of the faith. "As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger he was like the church's bulldog; he was putting the smack down on heresy," said Pedro Russell, a 21-year-old Montanan who had both green-dyed hair and a rosary around his neck. "Personally I am looking forward to that," he said. "There were a lot of slightly misguided teachings that I grew up with. Knowing that there is somebody up there who has made his entire cardinal's career out of straightening out those heresies and defending the true solid teachings of the church is something I am very, very excited for the youth." Benedict has reportedly expressed some discomfort with mass papal events, which were one hallmark of John Paul's papacy, and has sought in several ways to turn the spotlight away from him personally. But he often paid warm tribute to both the event and to his old boss and friend, John Paul. "Today it is my turn to take up this extraordinary spiritual legacy bequeathed to us by John Paul II," he said from the boat, his white cassock blowing in a breeze, in an address he gave in German, Italian, French, English and Spanish. "He loved you - you realized that, and you returned his love with all your youthful enthusiasm," he said. "Now all of us together have to put his teaching into practice." Shortly before the pope left Rome on Thursday morning, he told reporters traveling with him that he was "very moved" in going to Germany. The event had been planned before he was selected pope, and it is only by coincidence that his first trip was to his native county. He grew up in Bavaria, was a star theology professor and served as archbishop of Munich. "It's a very extraordinary event," he told reporters. "Young people from all over the world, and from all cultures, are coming together in the search for the truth. They are united in their love for Jesus Christ, and thus are a force for peace in the world today." His plane arrived right on schedule at noon. When he stepped outside, the wind whipped off his white skullcap and blew it back into the plane. He did not kiss the ground, as John Paul did on his first official visit to any country. The pope was greeted by a dress-guard, and received by President Horst Köhler. The German president spoke with pride in his nation that Benedict, who served in the German Army in World War II and was a brief and unwilling inductee into the Hitler Youth, was now pope. "This for me is a source of confidence, 60 years after the end of the inhuman and ungodly ideology which prevailed in Germany," Mr. Köhler said.
BBC 19 Aug 2005 Genocide suspect flown to Hague Rwanda's prisons are full of people accused of taking part in the genocide A Rwandan accused of playing a leading role in the 1994 genocide has been transferred to the Netherlands. Michel Bagaragaza pleaded not guilty to genocide charges earlier this week after handing himself in to the international tribunal in Tanzania. The tribunal said he was sent to The Hague because of security concerns. He is accused of using his position as head of Rwanda's crucial tea industry to help Hutu militias who killed hundreds of Tutsi civilians. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed during the genocide. The transfer to The Hague was a condition for Mr Bagaragaza's surrender, said a statement released by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha. Mr Bagaragaza, 60, is accused of working with tea factory workers to kill Tutsis who had sought refuge in the north-western Gisenyi region. Tea is one of Rwanda's major export earners. He was seen as being close to Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death in a plane crash on 6 April, 1994, sparked the 100-day massacres.
WP 23 Aug 2005 AMSTERDAM -- The U.N. war crimes tribunal trying former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic has rejected a bid by prosecutors to speed up the marathon trial, citing the advice of his doctor, the tribunal said. Milosevic's heart condition, high blood pressure and other ailments have repeatedly delayed the trial. Charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed during the bloody disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Milosevic does not recognize the court and has declined to enter a plea. Pleas of not guilty were entered for him. .
www.dzeno.cz 17 Aug 2005 Roma Victims of Ethnic Violence Compensated after 12 Years 17. 8. 2005 Following the July 2005 sentence of the European Court of Human Rights, the High Court of Bucharest condemned 10 Romanians for the murder of three Roma and for the burning of several Roma houses in Hadareni in 1993. The court decided that the Romanians will have to compensate 15 affected Roma with 1.880 million Romanian Lei (approximately 56.000 €). 12 years ago in Hadareni, a small Transylvanian town near Targu-Mures, Romanians took the law into their own hands as a response to the death of their neighbor, allegedly caused by 3 local Roma. On the night of September 20, 1993 Romanians attacked the houses of Roma in the village. The attackers were given the support of local police, who later tried to cover the evidence. In the general violence that ensued, the three accused Roma were killed: one burned alive in his house, the other two beaten to death by the angry crowd. Moreover, another 13 houses were destroyed and the Roma residents driven out. When they tried to return home, they were beaten, pelted with rocks and forced to live in hen-houses, pigsties, and windowless cellars or in extremely cold and overcrowded conditions for years after their houses had been destroyed. Now tension in the Hadareni area is still very high. Last week Romanian police arrived in Hadareni to execute the High Court sentence. There have been protests and demonstrations against the authorities and their decision on behalf of Roma. Romania, a country with one of the biggest Roma community in Europe, is supposed to join the European Union in 2007. The country is under close scrutiny by the EU over how it treats minorities. Improvement of living conditions for Roma people and equal treatment are two main goals that the country has to reach in order to become a part of the Union. (Dzeno Association)
Guardian UK 27 Aug 2005 Beslan massacre chief promoted Tom Parfitt in Moscow Saturday August 27, 2005 The Guardian Shamil Basayev, the warlord behind last year's bloody school siege in Beslan, was named second-in-command of Chechnya's rebel government yesterday in a sign of the separatists' growing radicalism. Since fleeing to the forests after Russian troops reclaimed control of Grozny in 2000, Chechen rebels have maintained what they claim is a legitimate cabinet. Basayev was named to the post by Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev, the rebels' president, who succeeded Aslan Maskhadov, killed by special forces in March. - Maskhadov, who was seen as a relative moderate, had marginalised Basayev and promised to prosecute him for the Beslan massacre if he retook Chechnya from the current pro-Moscow administration. Basayev admitted in an interview with an American television station last month that he was a terrorist, but claimed his actions were justified by Russian suppression. Analysts said his appointment was likely to bolster the rebels' power to attract funding from Islamic radicals abroad. But some commentators said it would play into Moscow's hands by tarring the entire separatist movement with the brush of extremism. The late Maskhadov had condemned terrorist acts and had given the rebels a veneer of respectability. "From a PR point of view, giving Shamil this role is a great mistake that will only make Moscow happy," said one Chechen resident of Moscow, who once knew the warlord. "But he has always wanted to be part of a legitimate administration and he genuinely believes that's what this is." Under a decree published on the rebel website Kavkaz Tsentr yesterday, Basayev was given responsibility for "power structures" including a national security service and an anti-terrorism centre. A spokesman for the pro-Moscow administration in Grozny ridiculed the rebels' cabinet arrangements, saying: "They can make him president of the universe if they want. It's just laughable." The rebels' leader, Sadulayev, a Muslim cleric, also appointed Akhmed Zakayev, Maskhadov's former envoy in London, to the post of culture minister in his new cabinet. Mr Zakayev, who has said in the past that Basayev should not be an "official representative of the Chechen people", did not respond to requests for comment yesterday. Basayev has admitted organising the school siege in Beslan, North Ossetia - which ended almost a year ago with more than 330 people dead - and two deadly airline bombings a few days earlier.
english.donga.com (South Korea) 29 Aug 2005 Mother of Korean Beslan Massacre Victim Leading Investigation Push AUGUST 29, 2005 03:07 by Ki-Hyun Kim (firstname.lastname@example.org) “Those responsible for the incident should be brought to justice.” It has been one year since the end of the school hostage crisis in Beslan, North Ossetia in southern Russia (September 1-3, 2004) that took the lives of 186 children. Nevertheless, the anger and sorrow of mothers who undeservedly lost their children has still not gone away. These mothers have organized the “Committee of Beslan Mothers” and continued rallies calling for an investigation into who was responsible for the incident. As public pressure has grown with their protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested a meeting, asking the mothers to “come to the Kremlin on September 2.” Marina Park (39), the co-representative of the committee and the mother of the only Korean resident victimized in the crisis, Svetlana Choi (12-years-old at that time), said in an exclusive telephone interview with Dong-A Ilbo on August 29 that she would “not only reject President Putin’s proposal for a meeting but also refuse to participate in the government-led memorial ceremony scheduled on September 3.” She believes that the authorities’ apology and fact-finding efforts should come first. The last year has transformed Park from an ordinary mother into a fighter. For over 10 days after the incident, she could not find the dead body of her daughter, Svetlana, or her whereabouts. Only after a genetic test did she manage to find her daughter, totally burned into an unidentifiable figure, and buried six feet underground. Victor, the father of Park who prayed for the safe return of his only grand-daughter, passed away a few days later in resentment. Out of shock, Park also eventually quit the boutique she had been working for. The only thing that the Russian government has so far provided was 3,000 dollars (approximately 3.09 million won) in compensation. What made Park more infuriated was the insincere attitude of the Russian authorities. The authorities killed 31 suspects and arrested one on the spot, but they have failed to catch any of the 20 to 30 perpetrators who ran away. The mastermind of the incident still remains unidentified. No relevant government officials took responsibility for the attack. The then head of the police was promoted to Moscow in what is seen as praise for effectively dealing with the emergency. Even the fire department chief, who refused to go into action even though the school was on fire, citing that he had “not been ordered to by superior authorities,” was promoted. In protest, Park and others have taken to the streets starting December of last year, but they have faced a string of pressures and appeasement measures from relevant agencies. Park also expressed her frustration, saying that she had been “suffering from telephone wiretapping.” Park, who says she always taught her daughter “not to forget you are a kareyenka (Korean woman),” also felt frustrated about the indifference of her “grandfather’s nation.” “I heard that the Korean government sent relief money after the incident, but except for some relatives living all across the former Soviet Union, nobody from the mother country has sent a word of consolation to us.” Park wept, saying that she had never felt it this lonely to be neither Russian nor Korean.
Poland see Czech Republic
Reuters 25 Aug 2005 U.S. Hopes for Mladic, Karadzic Arrest This Fall BELGRADE (Reuters) - The United States hopes Serbia will arrest top war crimes suspects later this year, clearing the path to closer European Union ties and much needed international aid, a U.S. envoy said on Thursday. Pierre-Richard Prosper, U.S. ambassador at large for war crimes issues, said the remaining fugitives, including Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander Ratko Mladic, had to go to the United Nations war crimes court. ``We are the closest we have been to concluding this, there are only a few cases that remain. So I hope this fall there will be actions so that we can put this behind us once and for all,'' Prosper told reporters in Belgrade. The West rewarded Serbia's increased cooperation with the U.N. court in The Hague when it delivered a dozen fugitives this year, giving it a green light to start talks on formal ties with the EU. Eight war crimes fugitives still remain at large. ``While we talk about the importance of Mladic and Karadzic going to The Hague for purposes of justice, it is equally important they go to there for the economic development of this country,'' Prosper said. Karadzic and Mladic are indicted for genocide in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of 8,000 Muslims and the 43-month siege of Sarajevo that killed some 10,000 people. Karadzic is believed to be hiding somewhere between eastern Bosnia and Montenegro and is expected to be delivered by the Bosnian Serbs while the handover of Mladic, thought to be hiding in Serbia, is sought from the Serbian government. Prosper said Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica had told him the government was committed to resolving this issue sooner rather than later but gave no specific timeframe. Serb officials say they are looking for Mladic but do not know where he is. At the start of the summer, local media were rife with reports of an imminent Mladic arrest but the speculation has since abated with no sign of the fugitive general. In August, Karadzic's wife ended years of defiance and called on her husband to surrender. The Montenegrin weekly Monitor on Thursday quoted an unnamed source as saying Karadzic was ``negotiating with the Americans'' and could go to The Hague as early as September.
Serbia - Kosovo
BBC 30 Aug 2005 Kosovo leader in German hospital Mr Rugova has long campaigned for Kosovan independence The President of Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova, is undergoing medical tests at a US military hospital in Germany amid reports that he is seriously ill. His spokesman Muhamet Hamiti said the tests would help doctors decide on appropriate treatment. But he refused to specify the president's illness. Mr Rugova, 61, was re-elected last October. He was flown to Landstuhl near Frankfurt on Saturday. He was said to be ill with flu last week and cancelled some engagements. His Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) party won legislative elections in October 2004. Kosovo has been under United Nations administration since 1999, when a Nato bombing campaign against Serbia stopped Serb forces expelling the ethnic-Albanian majority during an Albanian separatist insurgency. Mr Rugova, seen as a moderate ethnic Albanian leader, led passive resistance to Serbian rule in the 1990s. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority wants independence, while Serbia fiercely opposes the idea.
Journal of Turkish Weekly 28 Aug 2005 France Left Algerian Genocide to Historians Again Source:France and Algerian Genocide PARIS - France, which at every occasion demands Turkey to reconsider its stance concerning the Armenian issue, said such questions remained within the range of historians when it came to the Algerian Genocide. French Foreign Ministry responded to Algerian President Abdulaziz Bouteflika’s call to France to repent for what France perpetrated in Algeria during the colonial period, by relegating such historical inquiries to historians’. French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jean-Baptist Mattei refraining from commenting on Bouteflika’s call, said the matter would be settled in one way or another. Mattei maintained historians and researchers had to study that subject in an independent way. In a speech he delivered at Setif on Thursday, Bouteflika called on France to recognize the fact that it tortured, killed and destroyed Algerian people between the years of 1830-1962 to eradicate their Algerian, Muslim, Arab and Berber identities, and their culture, history and language. France, which does not respond to Algeria’s calls, manifested a politically biased attitude in 2001 despite Turkey’s warning, and legislated a law that ruled the 1915 incidents as genocide. Dr. David M. Arayan accused France of having double-standard: “There are many genocides and massacres committed by the French in the past. Algerian Genocide is one of them. They massacred thousands of Algerian civilians with no mercy. And now they are talking about other nations’ so-called crimes. They abuse the past. The French politicians ignore their responsibilities now and in the past, and instead of taking responsibilities they choose the easiest way: To accuse the others. They discuss the 1915 events for hours and hours yet they cannot accept the real genocide they committed just couple of decades ago.” JTW and Zaman (Ali Ihsan Aydin)
Anadolu News Agency 29 Aug 2005 Professor Lewy Blows So-Called Armenian Genocide Allegations Monday, August 29, 2005 zaman.com The famous US Political Scientist Professor, Guenter Lewy, announced that documents and interpretations related to the three main plots forming the base of the so-called Armenian genocide allegations were at least suspicious and the allegations never proved that Armenian murders from the beginning of the last century were pre-planned. Professor Lewy, who studies at the Massachusetts University, wrote in his article titled “revisiting the Armenian Genocide” that has been published in the fall edition of the Middle East Quarterly: “Most of those who maintain that Armenian deaths were premeditated and so constitute genocide base their argument on three pillars: the actions of Turkish military courts of 1919-20, which convicted officials of the Young Turk government of organizing massacres of Armenians, the role of the so-called "Special Organization" accused of carrying out the massacres, and the Memoirs of Naim Bey which contain alleged telegrams of Interior Minister Talât Pasha conveying the orders for the destruction of the Armenians.” Lewy emphasized that when examined in detail, those allegations were far from proving genocide claims. Initially, dealing with the military courts that were established during the last Ottoman government when Istanbul was under English occupation, Lewy accused Talat Pasha, Enver Pasha and Cemal Pasha, who took over the country during World War I, for the deaths of Armenians. Professor Lewy wrote that even the British High Commissar Calthorpe wrote in a message sent to London that those courts, like a rough comedy, harmed their prestige. The Famous political scientist also referring to the memories of Naim Bey, recalled that Dutch historian Erik Zurcher, proved that those documents that spread across the world by an Armenian called Aram Andonyan were false.
Middle East Quarter FALL 2005 • VOLUME XII: NUMBER 4 Revisiting the Armenian Genocide by Guenter Lewy The debate over what happened to Armenians in the Ottoman Empire during World War I remains acrimonious ninety years after it began. Armenians say they were the victims of the first genocide of the twentieth century. Most Turks say Armenians died during intercommunal fighting and during a wartime relocation necessitated by security concerns because the Armenians sympathized with and many fought on the side of the enemy. For genocide scholars, the claims of the Armenians have become incontrovertible historical fact. But many historians, both in Turkey and the West, have questioned the appropriateness of the genocide label . . . http://www.meforum.org/article/748
Reuters 31 Aug 2005 Turk novelist may face jail for genocide comments Wed Aug 31, 2005 10:42 AM ET By Selcuk Gokoluk ANKARA (Reuters) - Best-selling Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk faces up to three years in jail for backing allegations that Armenians suffered genocide at Ottoman Turkish hands 90 years ago, his publisher said on Wednesday. Turkish prosecutors are also investigating comments by Pamuk that some 30,000 Kurds were killed more recently in Turkey in separatist clashes with security forces. "A lawsuit has been filed against Orhan Pamuk that could result in a three-year prison sentence," Iletisim Publishing said in a statement faxed to Reuters. Pamuk made his comments about the Armenians and the Kurds during an interview published on Feb 6, 2005, in Das Magazin, the weekly supplement of Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger. "Thirty thousand Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it," Pamuk was quoted as saying in the interview. His remarks drew an angry reaction from Turkish nationalists and politicians at the time and the author even received anonymous death threats. The public prosecutor in Istanbul's Sisli district found Pamuk's remarks violated Turkey's newly revised penal code, which deems denigration of the "Turkish identity" a crime, the publisher of Iletisim, Tugrul Pasaoglu, told Reuters. Pasaoglu said the first hearing in Pamuk's trial was scheduled for December 16. The prosecutor's office declined to comment on the case. SENSITIVE ISSUE Ankara has long denied that Armenians suffered genocide, or systematic killing, at Ottoman hands during and after World War One, saying they were victims of partisan fighting which also claimed the lives of many Muslim Turks. Turkey is also very sensitive to portrayals of the Kurdish issue. Its security forces have been battling separatist guerrillas in Turkey's impoverished southeast since 1984. Fighting has recently flared up after a period of relative calm. Pamuk is best known as the author of historical novels set in Ottoman Turkey, including "My Name is Red" and "The White Castle." His recent novel "Snow" is a meditation on love and politics in modern Turkey. His book "Istanbul" is a personal memoir of growing up in Turkey's sprawling biggest city. His books have been widely translated into English and other foreign languages. Pamuk's trial is likely to prove embarrassing for the Turkish government as it prepares for the launch of European Union entry talks on October 3. The EU has said Ankara must meet European standards on freedom of expression.
BBC 21 Aug 2005 Genocide pact 'needs PM's help' The PM is being urged to influence President Bush on genocide Tony Blair has been urged to use his influence to increase support for an international deal to stop genocide. The charity Oxfam has praised the UK's commitment to the deal but hopes the PM will persuade less willing states. India, Russia and Brazil have attempted to block the agreement and the US has tried to dilute it. The pact, which would oblige countries to intervene when there is evidence of genocide in another nation, is to be tabled at a UN Summit next month. Final negotiations over the agenda for the UN's meeting in New York - set to be the biggest ever summit of world leaders - will begin with Oxfam seeking to safeguard the proposals for international cooperation to respond to mass killings. 'Progressive' Oxfam director Barbara Stocking said: "This is an opportunity for the prime minister to show his commitment to a progressive foreign policy agenda. "We're urging Britain to use every diplomatic resource at its disposal to secure an agreement designed to stop future genocides," she continued. In particular Ms Stocking underlined the importance of Mr Blair's special relationship with President Bush in gaining US support for the plan. So far the EU, Japan, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya, as well as the UK have given their backing to the deal. The current draft of the scheme states the signatory governments would, "share responsibility to take collective action in a timely and decisive manner" to protect against large-scale killing, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Oxfam has warned that if governments fail to commit to the collective arrangement they were effectively prepared to accept repetitions of the Rwanda massacre of 1994 when an estimated 800,000 people died.
BBC 21 Aug 2005 Hundreds clash during city riot The aftermath of hours of rioting in the area About 400 nationalists and loyalists have clashed during several hours of rioting in east Belfast. The violence erupted in Cluan Place and Clandeboye Gardens at about 1800 BST on Saturday. The police said bottles and bricks were thrown. One man was hurt. Up to five shots were heard during the rioting. Army technical officers made safe a suspect device found in Clandeboye Gardens at about 0130 BST. As they left, bottles were thrown at police vehicles. One man was arrested. The injured man was treated in hospital for a head wound. A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokeswoman said about 200 members from each side were involved in the rioting. Some politicians said simmering tensions in the area appeared to have boiled over following a band parade on the Newtownards Road and the Old Firm football match between Celtic and Rangers. Loyalists and nationalists are separated by a so-called peace wall Ulster Unionist assembly member Michael Copeland said Cluan Place came under attack. He said he was concerned that the Army were not deployed to help the police deal with the situation. "I feel a certain degree of sympathy for some of the police officers on the ground but anyone who looked at the potentiality of yesterday evening could have fairly easily predicted what might happen. "And sometimes when you predict what might happen you can put resources in place on both sides to prevent it happening," Mr Copeland said. Sinn Fein's Debra Devenney said the Short Strand had been under attack from loyalists for the past week. Calm restored "This cannot be allowed to escalate, people cannot live like this. They don't deserve to live like this and it needs to be resolved," she said. "I would urge unionist politicians to contact me, try to work something out, that we can get some sort of a settlement here that people don't have to go through this." The SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell condemned what he said was "mindless sectarian violence". "It is incredibly fortunate that many people were not seriously injured or worse during what was hours of concentrated and hate-filled rioting." The police said calm was restored to the area at 0230 BST after community leaders from both sides intervened.
BBC 21 Aug 2005 Church move to Kiev fuels rivalry Protesters tried to prevent believers from attending the service Ukraine's Eastern-rite Catholics have moved the headquarters of their church to the capital, Kiev, amid protests by some 300 mainly Orthodox believers. The head of the Greek Catholic Church, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, held a Mass for some 1,000 believers to mark the move from the western city of Lviv. Eastern-rite Catholics follow Orthodox ritual but bear allegiance to the Pope. The move could strain ties between the Vatican and Russia's Orthodox Church, which has huge influence in Ukraine. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, had earlier described it as an "unfriendly" act. Protests Bells rang as Cardinal Husar conducted the service outside a church being built for followers of Ukraine's Greek Catholic (or Uniate) Church. Cardinal Lubomyr Husar appealed for reconciliation "We don't threaten anybody, we don't want to threaten any Orthodox Church," the cardinal said. "The headquarters of any religious community should be in the capital," he added. The mass took place amid tight security, as several hundred Orthodox protesters gathered near the site, denouncing the move. "Orthodox or death!" they chanted, accusing the Vatican of proselytising. "You can kill us but you cannot take our faith from us!" demonstrators shouted. The service was attended by officials from the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kiev Patriarchate), which is not recognised by the Russian Orthodox Church. 'Pan-Ukrainian church' The Uniate Church claims five to six million adherents - mainly in western Ukraine - plus a further 1.5m among ethnic Ukrainians living in Russia. The Church was originally established in 1596, when most of today's Ukraine was part of Catholic Poland. The "Union" was controversial from the start. Orthodox Christians saw it as an annexation of part of their own church by Rome. With the expansion of the Orthodox Russian empire into Ukraine, in the 17th and 18th Centuries, the Uniate Church was banned. It survived mainly in those parts of the old Polish state which were incorporated into the Catholic Austrian Empire in 1772. These areas, eventually annexed by the Soviet Union during World War II, now form part of western Ukraine. In deciding to move its headquarters to Kiev, the Uniate Church is indicating that it sees itself as a pan-Ukrainian church - rather than a regional peculiarity, the BBC's European affairs analyst Jan Repa says.
Background: BBC 7 Dec 2004 Churches split in Ukraine crisis Yanukovych is backed by the pro-Russian Orthodox Church Ukraine's disputed presidential elections and descent into political crisis have been tinged with religious symbolism. The divided churches reflect the "schisms" in Ukrainian society "between those looking to the West and those looking to the East," according to Felix Corley, a specialist in Orthodox Church affairs. Orthodox icons and statues of Virgin Mary were paraded by demonstrators on both sides - even after generations of state-sponsored atheism under Soviet rule, which had tried to eradicate religion altogether. The country's religious communities are split between pro-Western Viktor Yushchenko, who rejected the official result, and his rival Viktor Yanukovych, seen as pro-Russian. Yushchenko aims to a "president for believers of all faiths" "Obviously each religious community is trying to gain its own advantage from the result of this election," Mr Corley told BBC World Service's Reporting Religion programme. "The supporters of Yanukovych in the Moscow Patriarchy hope it will cement their power; it's the largest single denomination and the most powerful one. "The opposition supporters of Yushchenko believe - and he has actually said so - that he will be a president for believers of all faiths, although he himself is Orthodox." Fractured picture The Orthodox Church in Ukraine, by far the biggest religious community, is itself split three ways, Mr Corley explained. The largest of these groups is the Moscow Patriarchy, strongly aligned with Russian nationalism. This church fears a weakening of its power if Mr Yushchenko gains power - so it has strongly backed Mr Yanukovych. "Ukraine - of all the former Soviet republics - is the one that probably has the most religious splits," Mr Corley says. They all want to see peace and stability - but they do at the same time want to see their own favoured candidate come to power Felix Corley The two other Orthodox churches are smaller, breakaway groups. There is also the Greek Catholic Church in the pro-Yushchenko west of Ukraine, and a large Protestant community - which was very strong even during the Soviet period. "Really, the religious picture is very fractured," Mr Corley said. "This is being reflected in the political arena as well." Ukraine has enjoyed greater religious freedom than many other former Soviet republics, with no one single religious community all-powerful. This contrasts with the situation in Russia, where the Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchy dominates. "We have seen a fairly free field, which has allowed Protestant groups to flourish, the Jehovah's Witnesses, other newer groups, with connections in the outside world," Mr Corley said. "They seem to be able to practise unfettered, although this election has seen a lot of government leaning on religious communities not to take part in the political arena." Civil war fears The non-Moscow Patriarchy faiths "are really lining up" behind Yushchenko, according to Mr Corley. They believe he will lead the country towards democracy, a free religious sphere, and alignment with western European countries. And they strongly oppose Mr Yanukovych, fearing that he could "try to install a Russian-dominated regime, perhaps with restrictions that hark back to the Soviet period," Mr Corley stressed. However, the churches are unlikely to seek civil war, distancing themselves from some extreme elements in Ukraine. "They realise that no one will benefit if there is bloodshed, if there is violence, if the country splits apart as some people have threatened," he said. "I think they all want to see peace and stability - but they do at the same time want to see their own favoured candidate come to power."
NYT 20 Aug5 Weapons Sales Worldwide Rise to Highest Level Since 2000 By THOM SHANKER WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 - The value of military weapons sales worldwide jumped in 2004 to the highest level since 2000, driven by arms deals with developing nations, especially India, Saudi Arabia and China, according to a new Congressional study. The total of arms sales and weapons transfer agreements to both industrialized and developing nations was nearly $37 billion in 2004, according to the study. That total was the largest since 2000, when global arms sales reached $42.1 billion, and was far above the 2003 figure of $28.5 billion. The United States once again dominated global weapons sales, signing deals worth $12.4 billion in 2004, or 33.5 percent of all contracts worldwide. But that was down from $15.1 billion in 2003. The share of American arms contracts specifically with developing nations was $6.9 billion in 2004, or 31.6 percent of all such deals, up slightly from $6.5 billion in 2003. Russia was second in global arms sales, with $6.1 billion in agreements, or 16.5 percent of all such contracts, a notable increase from its $4.4 billion in sales in 2003. In 2004, Russia signed arms transfer deals worth $5.9 billion with the developing world, 27.1 percent of the global total, up from $4.3 billion in 2003. Britain was third in arms transfer agreements to the developing world in 2004, signing contracts worth $3.2 billion, while Israel ranked fourth, with deals worth $1.2 billion. France followed with $1 billion. The report, "Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations," is published by the Congressional Research Service, a division of the Library of Congress. The annual study, which was delivered to Congress on Monday, is considered by academic experts to be the most thorough compilation of facts and figures on global weapons sales available in the public domain. The study uses figures in 2004 dollars, with figures for other years adjusted to account for inflation. The statistics in the report "illustrate how global patterns of conventional arms transfers have changed in the post-cold-war and post-Persian-Gulf-war years," Richard F. Grimmett, a specialist in national defense at the Congressional Research Service, wrote in the introduction to the study. "Relationships between arms suppliers and recipients continue to evolve in response to changing political, military and economic circumstances," he said. "Nonetheless, the developing world continues to be the primary focus of foreign arms sales activity by conventional weapons suppliers." The study found that arms sales to developing nations in 2004 totaled nearly $21.8 billion, a substantial increase over the $15.1 billion in 2003. That was 58.9 percent of all arms sales agreements worldwide for last year. Over the last four years, China has purchased more weapons than any other nation in the developing world, signing $10.4 billion in deals from 2001 to 2004. Such statistics could be used by those in the United States government who have argued against any decision by the European Union to lift its arms embargo against China. For that same four-year period, India ranked second, with $7.9 billion in arms purchases, and Egypt was third, with $6.5 billion in deals. But India surpassed China in total purchases in 2004, agreeing to buy $5.7 billion in arms. Saudi Arabia was second in signing arms deals last year, with contracts valued at $2.9 billion, and China was third in 2004, signing $2.2 billion in contracts for arms purchases. "Presently, there appear to be fewer large weapons purchases being made by developing nations in the Near East," Mr. Grimmett wrote, while relatively larger purchases are being made by developing nations in Asia, "led principally by China and India." According to the study, the four major West European arms suppliers - Britain, France, Germany and Italy - significantly increased their collective share of arms sales with developing nations between 2003 and 2004, rising to $4.8 billion in 2004 from $830 million in 2003.
Reuters 8 Aug 2005 Stress lingers long after genocide August 8, 2005 A majority of Cambodian refugees settled in the United States suffer from post-traumatic stress, deep depression or alcoholism decades after surviving their country's 1970s genocide, a study said last week. A survey of Cambodians who are representative of the 175,000 who have taken refuge in the United States found practically all had lingering effects from nearly starving to death and witnessing relatives and friends being murdered. An estimated 3 million died during the 1975-79 reign of the Khmer Rouge and in civil wars before and after. The prevalence of psychiatric illness found among Cambodian refugees is indicative of a larger crisis affecting the world's 42 million refugees, based on other reports published in last week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, which focused on the subject of violence. For instance, a survey by King's College, London, psychiatrist Metin Basoglu of Yugoslav refugees exposed to war-related violence found the loss of control associated with traumatic events, along with a widespread sense of injustice about the impunity of the perpetrators, were key causal factors in their mental health problems. An analysis of several previous studies of refugees concluded that those who were displaced within their countries rather than emigrating suffered relatively worse mental health. Female refugees fared less well than males in terms of mental health, as did those who had higher socioeconomic status before becoming refugees, said the report's author, Matthew Porter of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. The RAND study of 490 Cambodians living in Long Beach, Calif., found nearly two-thirds suffered from post-traumatic stress, half suffered deep depressions, and one of 20 had an alcohol or drug problem. Forty-two percent of those studied suffered from more than one disorder, and less than one-third were free from all. ''These rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among Cambodian refugees are shockingly high," said lead author Grant Marshall. ''Even 20 years after escaping, people who went through this horrific experience still suffer serious psychiatric illness. ''Refugees who immigrate from violent regions of the world can have a substantial need for mental health services," Marshall added.
medicalnewstoday.com 3 Aug 2005 PTSD, depression epidemic among Cambodian immigrants, USA 03 Aug 2005 More than two decades after they fled the Khmer Rouge reign of terror, most Cambodian refugees who resettled in the United States remain traumatized, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has found. Sixty-two percent suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and 51 percent from depression in the past year - six-to-seventeen times the national average for adults. The more trauma they endured, the worse their symptoms. In the August 3, 2005 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the RAND Corporation's Grant Marshall, Ph.D., and colleagues report on their survey in the nation's largest Cambodian community. An estimated three million of Cambodia's seven million people died during the repression and civil wars of the l970s and most of those who survived suffered multiple traumas. Moreover, even after two decades in the U.S., the majority of the refugee community speak little or no English, are at income levels below poverty, and rely on public assistance. Since previous studies of such refugee populations have been criticized for possibly overestimating rates of mental disorders, Marshall and colleagues set out to allay such concerns by employing a more conservative approach. Native Khmer speakers conducted highly structured two-hour interviews with 490 randomly-selected former refugees, ages 35-75, in their Long Beach, CA homes, beginning in 2003. They used standardized questionnaires for gauging levels of violence exposure and alcohol use disorder and standardized diagnostic interviews to determine the prevalence of PTSD and depression. On average, the refugees reported experiencing 15 of 35 types of pre-migration traumas assessed. For example, 99 percent nearly starved to death, 96 percent were enslaved into forced labor, 90 percent had a family member or friend murdered and 54 percent were tortured. Even after arriving in the U.S., 34 percent said they had seen a dead body in their neighborhood. Fewer than a third were spared from the psychiatric disorders assessed. Rates of PTSD and depression tended to be highest among those who were older, poorer, weaker English speakers, and unemployed. Forty-two percent had both disorders, and severity of the disorders increased with trauma exposure. The risk factors that predicted depression were so similar to those that predicted PTSD that the researchers suggest that both disorders may, in fact, reflect "a single continuum of posttraumatic stress." The 62 percent of those surveyed who had PTSD in the past year compares to a prevalence rate of 3.6 percent in the general adult population. The 51 percent who met criteria for major depression compares to a rate of 9.5 percent of U.S. adults. Rates of alcohol abuse among the refugees were much lower than in the general population and were not associated with PTSD, likely reflecting the influence of cultural factors. The study did not assess the extent to which participants sought treatment for their disorders, but the interviewers gave them information about local mental health clinics. Still, the study "raises questions about the adequacy of existing mental health resources in this community," noted the researchers. They also suggested that the U.S. has not succeeded in its goal of promoting the long-term health and well-being of the refugees. Also participating in the research were: Drs. Terry Schell, Marc Elliott, Megan Berthold, Rand Corporation; and Dr. Chi-Ah Chun, California State University. NIMH and NIAAA are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Federal Government's primary agency for biomedical and behavioral research. NIH is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Jules Asher NIMHpress@nih.gov 301-443-4536 NIH/National Institute of Mental Health http://www.nimh.nih.gov
Corp 2 Aug 2005 CAMBODIAN REFUGEES SUFFER FROM PSYCHIATRIC ILLNESS AT HIGH RATES
TWO DECADES AFT Aug. 2 2005 Press Release - Rand Corporation Nearly two-thirds
of the adults studied in the largest Cambodian refugee community in the United
States suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more than half
had major depression two decades after escaping widespread violence by fleeing
to the United States, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today. The
RAND Health study, published in the Aug. 3 edition of the Journal of the American
Medical Association, shows a surprisingly high rate of psychiatric illness among
refugees traumatized during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Researchers
from RAND; the Program for Torture Victims; and California State University, Long
Beach, studied a representative group of adult Cambodian refugees who live in
Long Beach. The city is the home of more than 17,000 residents of Cambodian origin
who fled their homeland following the reign of the Khmer Rouge, who ruled from
1975 to 1979. Although the study examined only one refugee community, researchers
believe their findings apply to other Cambodian communities in the United States
as well. And unlike earlier studies of traumatized immigrants, the RAND study
fully assessed participants for psychiatric disorders rather than simply screening
for some evidence of the illnesses. All of the refugees surveyed reported experiencing
some trauma in their native land, such as having a relative or friend murdered.
In addition, 70 percent said that since coming to the United States they had been
exposed to violence, such as being a victim of robbery. “These rates of post-traumatic
stress disorder and depression among Cambodian refugees are shockingly high,”
said Grant Marshall, a RAND psychologist and lead author of the study. “Even 20
years after escaping, people who went through this horrific experience still suffer
serious psychiatric illness.” “Refugees who immigrate from violent regions of
the world can have a substantial need for mental health services,” Marshall added.
“Our findings suggest we need to do a better job of meeting the mental health
needs of these refugees once they arrive in the United States. We need to give
them the tools necessary to succeed in a new land.” The study is the first to
assess the mental health of traumatized refugees years after their arrival in
the United States. Other studies have screened refugees for mental health problems
relatively soon after their arrival. Researchers found that among 490 adult refugees
ages 35 to 75, almost all reported experiencing near-death due to starvation before
coming to the United States. Another 90 percent had a family member or friend
murdered by the Khmer Rouge, and 54 percent reported being tortured before coming
to the United States. Researchers found evidence that refugees who were exposed
to more types of trauma in their homeland were more likely to suffer from one
of the psychiatric illnesses. The study found that 62 percent of the Cambodian
refugees studied suffered from PTSD and 51 percent had major depression in the
past 12 months. By contrast, in the general U.S. population only about 3 percent
of people suffered from PTSD and about 7 percent had major depression in the past
12 months. The RAND study also found that 4 percent of the Cambodian refugees
had alcohol or drug problems. Many of the refugees suffered from both PTSD and
depression. Only 30 percent of research participants had none of the psychiatric
disorders that were studied. Most of the Cambodian immigrants studied were poor,
had little education and had low English language skills. A total of 69 percent
of study participants had incomes below the federal poverty level and 72 percent
received government assistance. The level of alcohol problems reported by refugees
was lower than that seen in the general U.S. population, Marshall said. Other
studies suggest alcohol abuse is high among people with PTSD and higher rates
of alcohol abuse have been reported in other studies of Cambodian immigrants.
The low levels reported in the new study may result from alcohol being viewed
as socially unacceptable in the Cambodian community or participants underreporting,
Marshall said. Cambodians are one of the largest refugee groups in the United
States, with about 150,000 people admitted since 1975. After a coup in 1970 in
Cambodia, a civil war led to an eventual takeover by the Khmer Rouge in 1975.
Out of a population of 7.1 million in 1975, as many as 2 million Cambodians were
killed during the four-year reign of the Khmer Rouge. In addition, 1 million people
were killed in civil wars before and after the period. Supported by funding from
the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism, the RAND study appears in a special edition of JAMA that
focuses on studies related to violence and human rights. Other authors of the
study are Terry Schell and Mark Elliott of RAND, S. Megan Berthold of RAND and
the Program for Torture Victims-Los Angeles, and Chi-Ah Chun of California State
University, Long Beach. RAND Health is the nation's largest independent health
policy research program, with a broad research portfolio that focuses on health
care quality, costs, and delivery, among other topics.
- Agence France-Presse
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
(the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, with a special project on the Yugoslav
war crimes tribunal)
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