Monitor for January 15 - 31, 2005
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
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AP 20 Jan 2005 U.N. to Hold Holocaust Commemoration By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: January 20, 2005 Filed at 2:29 a.m. ET UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. commemoration of the liberation of Nazi concentration camps 60 years ago is a reminder that the evil that killed six million Jews still threatens the world today and must never be repeated, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. He said Monday's planned special session of the General Assembly should also be seen as an expression of the United Nations' commitment to ensuring that it can respond quickly to future genocide and other human rights violations. Annan and General Assembly President Jean Ping were joined at a news conference by the ambassadors of the countries that sponsored the resolution calling for the special session -- Australia, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Russia, the United States and Luxembourg representing the European Union. ``I want to stress that this is the first time the General Assembly is holding a commemorative special session,'' Ping, the foreign minister of Gabon who heads the 191-member world body, said on Wednesday. ``It is our duty to remember and to say loudly never again.'' Annan stressed that the United Nations was founded in response to the Nazi Holocaust in World War II, and that the U.N. Charter and the world ``untold sorrow'' were written as the world was learning the full horror of the death camps. The secretary-general has called on all countries to give the session their full support and so far 138 have responded positively, including Arab nations. ``It's an important date for all of us,'' said Algeria's U.N. Ambassador Abdallah Baali, ``and as an Arab group we have no problem whatsoever with the commemoration of this event.'' Israel's U.N. Ambassador Dan Gillerman -- saying he represented not only Israel and the Jewish people but the six million Jews and many others who were slaughtered in the Holocaust -- called the commemoration ``a momentous historic event.'' ``Hopefully this universal initiative ... will do at least two things,'' he said. ``It will make sure that people remember and never forget, and it will make sure that those horrible atrocities never, ever, happen again anywhere in the world.'' Gillerman said Israel has often accused the General Assembly of being anti-Israeli and operating with an ``immoral majority,'' but he said ``we do feel there is a change.'' ``We do feel what we have seen in this process, which will culminate in the meeting on Monday, is the formation of a moral majority which proves that when you do the right thing, you can unite and mobilize the member states of the United Nations,'' he said. ``We feel that on Monday the U.N. will ... also probably open a new page and a new chapter in closer and even better relations between Israel and the United Nations.'' Annan backed Gillerman's hope that the election of a new Palestinian leader will re-energize the Mideast peace process. ``I think what is going to happen on Monday is a little step toward that direction,'' the secretary-general said. In a letter to Annan on Dec. 9, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth requested a commemorative session on Jan. 24, three days before a similar event in the former Auschwitz death camp in Poland to mark its liberation by Soviet troops on Jan. 27, 1945. Between 1 million and 1.5 million prisoners -- most of them Jews -- perished in gas chambers or died of starvation and disease at Auschwitz. Overall, 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. U.S. deputy ambassador Anne Patterson said the United States will be represented at the commemoration by a high-level delegation from Washington. http://www.un.org/ga/28special/
UN News Centre 24 Jan 2005 General Assembly marks 60th anniversary of liberation of Nazi death camps 24 January 2005 – With everlasting regret for the past and "never again" resolve for the future, the United Nations today commemorated the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps, symbol of the Holocaust that slaughtered at least 6 million Jews and others in World War II. “It is, above all, a day to remember not only the victims of past horrors, whom the world abandoned, but also the potential victims of present and future ones,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the 191-member General Assembly during its first-ever special commemorative session, noting that the United Nations itself was born out of the ashes of the Holocaust. “Such an evil must never be allowed to happen again. We must be on the watch for any revival of anti-Semitism and ready to act against the new forms of it that are appearing today,” he added, paying homage, too, to other groups slaughtered by Nazi Germany, including the Roma people, Slavs, Soviet prisoners of war, the handicapped, Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals. “But the tragedy of the Jewish people was unique,” he stressed. “An entire civilization, which had contributed far beyond its numbers to the cultural and intellectual riches of Europe and the world, was uprooted, destroyed, laid waste.” Turning to more recent cases of genocide in Cambodia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, Mr. Annan declared: “On occasions such as this, rhetoric comes easily. We rightly say ‘never again.’ But action is much harder. Since the Holocaust the world has, to its shame, failed more than once to prevent or halt genocide.” He noted that even today “terrible things” are happening in Darfur, Sudan, where tens of thousands of people have died and nearly 2 million have been uprooted in fighting between the Government, pro-government militias and rebels. Tomorrow, he expected to receive an international report determining whether this constitutes genocide. The commemoration comes three days before the actual anniversary of the liberation by Soviet troops on 27 January 1945 of the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp which, with its gas ovens and crematoria, came to epitomize more than any other the horror. Before the day-long session, which began with one minute of silence, Mr. Annan and his wife, Nane, hosted a coffee reception for death camp survivors and other distinguished guests, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Among the host of speakers at the session from all regions of the world were the Foreign Ministers of Israel and Germany, heirs to the two sides of the Holocaust. The General Assembly President, Foreign Minister Jean Ping of Gabon, said the session was symbolic because, through it, the international community could finally, together, "exorcise the tragedy of the Holocaust and, by so doing, express its firm will to condemn to eternal failure tyranny and barbaric behaviour wherever that was displayed." Brian Urquhart, a former UN Under-Secretary-General who was among the first allied troops to reach the Bergen-Belsen death camp, told the session the inhuman conditions of the starving, broken and traumatized prisoners had to be seen to be believed. "The dead and dying were everywhere," he said. "Who could imagine such horrors?" Like many other speakers, he raised the rallying cry of "never again." Mr. Wiesel said Auschwitz was "an executioner's ideal of a kingdom of absolute evil and malediction." But he looked to the present and future, too, calling for the trial and punishment of those who today preach and practice the cult of death and use suicide terrorism. "The past is in the present, but the future is still in our hands," he declared. For his part, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said it was not too late to work for an international community that is uncompromising in combating intolerance against people of all faiths and ethnicities. "Let all of us gathered here pledge never to forget the victims, never to abandon the survivors, and never to allow such an event ever to be repeated," he urged.
Court case on San rights resumes [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © UN Botswana President Festus Mogae has insisted that the San's relocation was for their own benefit GABORONE, 19 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - The right to live and hunt as their forefathers did in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) is the crux of an application by 243 San Bushmen to overturn their relocation outside the game sanctuary by the Botswana government. The landmark case, which goes to the heart of minority rights in Botswana, resumed on Monday after a two-month break at the High Court in Lobatse, 60 km south of the capital, Gaborone. The Bushmen began court action in April 2002, seeking a ruling that the government's termination of basic services to those who had refused to leave the CKGR was illegal. The government had cut water, food and health services in January, arguing that it was too expensive to reach out to the small San communities scattered around the game reserve. It had created the New Xade and Kaudwane settlements outside the CKGR in 1997, when it came up with controversial plans to set aside the game reserve for wildlife and tourism development. Cut off from their traditional lifestyle, those San who have been relocated have joined Botswana's underclass of rural poor, dependent on government handouts. Alcoholism, prostitution, begging, low self-esteem, TB and AIDS have set in. In 1961, the British colonial government set up the CKGR to protect the habitat, the wildlife and the lifestyle of its residents. They comprised the G/wi and the G//ana San and a few hundred Bakgalagadi Bantu people, who, 400 years ago, moved into what is now the reserve and mixed with the San. In 1966 the constitution of newly independent Botswana restricted the entry and residence of non-Bushmen in the CKGR. This, say lawyers for the San, means the San have a right to live and hunt on their ancestral land. But in the late 1980s the government decided to resettle roughly 2,500 CKGR residents outside the reserve. "At no stage during the relocation exercise did government or its public officers involved in the relocation use force, coerce people residing in the game reserve, or threaten anyone of them in any way. The emphasis has always been persuasion and voluntary relocation," a government statement stressed. However, the plan sparked local and international protest. The pressure group, First People of the Kalahari (FPK), formed in the early 1990s, rallied residents to resist. A Negotiating Team comprising representatives of the residents, FPK, the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA), human rights group Ditshwanelo and the Botswana Council of Churches, was set up in 1996. After negotiations failed, the team went forward with legal action, and the case commenced in July 2004 at New Xade. "The government has trampled on our rights, and terminating basic and essential services is tantamount to forced eviction," said Mathambo Ngakaeja, coordinator of the Botswana chapter of WIMSA. "We seek the courts to declare that those who had been effectively forced to move, due to the termination of services, should be returned to the CKGR," Ngakaeja added. "We are determined to remain on our ancestral land." The government has argued that the court case was instigated by the London-based minority rights organisation, Survival International (SI), and the FPK movement. Last year the then assistant minister of labour and home affairs, Moeng Pheto, who had co-ordinated the relocation programme, was quoted in the pro-government Daily News as saying that the two organisations had intimidated the San into resisting relocation. SI has been highly critical of the Bushmen's removal, and has alleged that it was directly linked to diamond exploration in the CKGR, a claim the government has denied. "Stephen Cory [SI's executive director] is not the problem for the Basarwa [the derogatory term for Bushmen in Setswana]," Roy Sesana, the Bushmen's self-appointed spokesperson told IRIN. "The problem for the Basarwa is that they have been pushed out of the fat areas of Botswana, and now they are being pushed out of the places where they had found refuge, and being told to leave and go to places where they will certainly perish, together with their culture." The court case is to determine whether it was unlawful for the government to end essential services to the residents in January 2002; whether the government has an obligation to restore these services; whether the residents were in possession of their land and were deprived of it forcibly; and whether the government's refusal to issue game licenses to the residents and allow them to enter the CKGR is unconstitutional.
survival-international.org 20 Jan 2005 EXPOSED: BOTSWANA USED DYING FATHER TO EVICT SONS SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL NEWS RELEASE 20 January 2005 EXPOSED: BOTSWANA USED DYING FATHER TO EVICT SONS Botswana's high court has heard how government officials evicted a dying man from his home in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, and then returned to tell his sons that they would not see their father unless they agreed to be relocated. Mogetse Kaboikanyo died just four months after he was evicted. His widow told Survival in the eviction site New Xade, 'This land killed my husband.' The sick Mogetse Kaboikanyo from the community of Kikao was taken to New Xade in February 2002. His sons stayed behind. His son Losolobe Mogetse told the court how he had argued with an official who came to evict him, but had eventually left Kikao out of concern for his father: 'He said we could not go to see the old man unless we agreed to relocate. We said we could not relocate in his absenceŠ. I finally gave up and agreed and we went with him.' After years of struggling to remain on his land, Mogetse was buried in New Xade, far from the graves of his ancestors, because officials refused to allow Losolobe and his brothers to return his body to Kikao. He had repeatedly said he wished to die on his land. Before the evictions, Mogetse told Survival, 'These things are done to us because we are Bushman peopleŠ The government of Botswana calls itself a democracy. But it isn't so here. We are oppressed until we die, and soon there will be no one left.' His full testimony can be read at http://www.survival-international.org/bushman_statements_mogetse.htm The court case brought by 240 Bushmen against the government of Botswana continues. The Bushmen want to be able to return to their land and live there without fear of further eviction, and to hunt and gather freely.
Severity of food shortage in two provinces made clearer [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © NAIROBI, 19 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - The UN World Food Programme (WFP) confirmed on Wednesday that more than half a million people are in need of food aid in northern Burundi. "WFP will assist at least 520,000 people in the provinces of Kirundo and Muyinga for the next two months," WFP said in a statement issued on Wednesday. Earlier in January, Burundi’s president, Domitien Ndayizeye, issued a decree calling the situation in the two provinces "a famine". However, speaking to IRIN, the WFP spokesman in Burundi, Guillaume Folio, described the situation as "a serious food shortage". The shortages follow poor harvest in 2004, WFP said, adding that "a combination of drought and manioc mosaic virus has seriously reduced crop production". This January, WFP said, it delivered 1,485 mt of food aid to 176,000 people in the communes of Busoni, Bugabira and Kirundo, all in Kirundo Province, that was one of the worst affected by food shortages. In 2004, WFP said its food aid amounted to $4.5 million and that "almost one million people" received 6,900 mt of WFP food. It said half of this was distributed from June onwards, "when the first reports of poor harvest and consequent food shortages started to emerge". WFP said "following suspicions that food aid was not being targeted to the most vulnerable", it was also "working with representatives of the local administration, civil society and churches to obtain the most accurate possible lists of people in need of food assistance". IRIN has not yet been able to contact the NGOs or local authorities for comment. WFP said "a couple of weeks" after food distribution, monitoring teams were being sent "to verify if the right amount of food is reaching families who need it and whether the food is consumed by those families". The agency said, so far, it only had enough money to help drought-affected and other food insecure people in Burundi for the next five months. "An additional $25 million is required to feed these communities between June and December 2005," it said. A government decree issued on Thursday requests workers and businesses in Burundi to make payments of various specified amounts to aid the victims and called on international NGOs and donors to increase their help.
AFP 24 Jan 2005 Burundi rebels deny involvement in governor's assassination BUJUMBURA, Jan 24 (AFP) - A rebel group in Burundi on Monday denied responsibility for the weekend assassination of a provincial governor and blamed a former insurgent movement now in government for the killing. The National Liberation Front (FNL), the lone rebel force holding out in Burundi, said it had nothing to do with Sunday's assassination which it said was carried out instead by the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD). "We are not behind the assassination of governor Isaie Bigirimana," FNL spokesman Pasteur Habimana told AFP by telephone. "We had nothing against him." Army spokesman, Major Adolphe Manirakiza, said Sunday that Bigirimana was killed in an FNL ambush about 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the capital Bujumbura in the first assassination of such a senior official in eight years. Burundi's Interior Minister Simon Nyandwi also put the blame on the FNL. But Habimana insisted that responsibility for the killing of Bigirimana, governor of the western province of Bubanza, and a bodyguard, lay with the FDD, which he accused of trying to crater peace talks with the FNL. "It is actually the Forces for the Defence of Democracy, now part of the transitional government, who are behind this act," Habimana said. "They want to sabotage on-going negotiations with FNL." But a spokesman for the FDD rejected the accusation, saying his organization, which became an official political party earlier this month, "had nothing to do with such a disgraceful act." Burundi, which is struggling to emrge from an 11 year-old civil war that claimed more than 300,000 lives, is currently in a transitional phase of government which is due to end with presidential elections later this year.
Reuters 22 Jan 2005 New massacre threat for Congolese in Burundi Reuters BUJUMBURA, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Congolese Tutsis who survived a refugee camp massacre in August said on Friday they feared another attack after leaflets threatening their extermination surfaced again. Similar leaflets preceded the Aug. 13 massacre at Gatumba refugee camp, along the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, where attackers hacked, bludgeoned and burned to death more than 160 Congolese Tutsis. "This small group threatens the life of people in the Great Lakes region," a copy of the leaflet reviewed by Reuters says of the Congolese Tutsis refugees, known as Banyamulenge. The Aug. 13 attack drew international condemnation and forced some survivors to migrate to new camps deeper inside Burundi. "Like it happened last year before the Gatumba massacre, we have again received leaflets, threatening to exterminate the Banyamulenge," Samson Rushikama, a spokesman for the refugees, told Reuters. Burundi is struggling to emerge from a decade of civil war pitting rebels from the Hutu majority against the politically dominant Tutsi minority. Similar ethnic conflict in Rwanda and the DRC has often spilled over the borders the two share with Burundi, and vice versa. The refugees called on the United Nations and Burundian authorities to heed the threat. "They must intervene now before another massacre is committed," Rushikama said. Army spokesman Adolphe Manirakiza said Burundi was acting to protect the refugees. "We take this new threat as serious. Security forces will take additional measures to protect Congolese Tutsi refugees leaving in Burundi," he said. Many refugees fearing a repeat attack have stayed away from camps, while others finally returned home after facing violent protests from villagers who did not want them back. A U.N. report on the massacre said contaminated evidence at the scene made it impossible to identify any perpetrators besides a Hutu rebel group, the Forces for National Liberation (FNL), which claimed responsibility. But Burundian authorities said the report failed to recognise evidence showing a coalition of FNL rebels, Congolese traditional Mai Mai fighters and the Rwandan Hutu militia was behind the attack.
BBC 24 Jan 2005 Thousands flee Kenyan water clash The two groups have clashed for many years Thousands of people have fled violence in Kenya's Rift Valley which has left at least 15 people dead. More police have been sent to the area north-west of the capital, Nairobi, to control the latest clashes between Kenyan farmers and cattle owners. Youths from Kikuyu and Maasai groups fought over the weekend using machetes, spears, bows and arrows and clubs. Several huts were torched in the violence. The trouble is thought to have started when Maasai herdsmen accused a local Kikuyu politician of diverting a river to irrigate his farm, prompting a water shortage further downstream. With water being denied to their livestock, the Maasai are then thought to have damaged his pipes. 'Talk peace' "The government is doing all it can to control the situation, I urge the combatants to lay down their weapons and talk peace," John Kamau, a senior local official, told Reuters news agency in the trading post of Mai Mahiu, where many Kikuyu have fled. A large number of Maasai are reported to have fled their homes for Narok, further west. The Maasai and Kikuyu communities have fought over access to water and grazing land since the 1960s. Fighting last week involving the Maasai near the Maasai Mara game reserve displaced more than 2,000 villagers. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki is this week due to visit another area, Mandera, which has been the scene of similar violence, over the control of water, between rival Kenyan Somali communities.
AP 22 Jan 2005 Genocide Film Premieres at Rwanda Stadium By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: January 22, 2005 Filed at 6:05 p.m. ET KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) -- ``Sometimes in April,'' a movie on the 1994 Rwanda genocide, premiered Saturday at a stadium that was one of the scenes of slaughter more than a decade ago. It was filmed mostly in Rwanda, where Hutu extremist militias and soldiers killed more than 500,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus between April and July 1994. Advertisement More than 5,000 people -- including government officials, actors, journalists and genocide survivors -- attended Saturday's screening at Kigali's Amahoro stadium, where thousands of Tutsis were killed during the slaughter. On Sunday, the movie will be shown to the general public for free at the 25,000-capacity venue. ``Sometimes in April'' tells the story of a Hutu soldier who gets separated from his family -- including his Tutsi wife -- as he tries to take them to safety with the help of a fellow Hutu soldier. ``The film ... demonstrates the human capacity of cruelty, while illuminating the human capacity for courage,'' said Raoul Peck, the movie's Haitian-born writer and director. Peck spent 18 months researching material for the film in Rwanda and Tanzania, where masterminds of the genocide are still on trial at a U.N. tribunal. The film stars Oris Erhuero and Debra Winger. Peck said he wanted the film to premiere here as a way of thanking the Rwandans -- many of them survivors of the genocide -- who helped make it. They acted and were members of the film's production crew. ``This is a major moment for me,'' Peck told journalists Friday. ``It goes beyond my own personal emotions to have this film screened in Rwanda. It is so important that Rwandans are going to legitimize it.'' The film will be broadcast in the United States on Home Box Office on March 19. ``We have fulfilled the pledge we made to Rwandans of showing them the film before anyone else,'' Sam Martin, HBO's director of development and production, told The Associated Press. ``The story in the film is one of international importance, and it's a great opportunity to retell the world of this atrocity. He said he hoped the story would make people think about the crisis in Sudan's western Darfur region, where government-backed Arab militiamen have driven nearly 2 million people from their homes in a campaign of killing, raping and looting. At least 70,000 have died from disease and hunger since March. Many more have been killed. While filming, Peck had a team of psychologists on set to help survivors deal with any trauma that may have been triggered by graphic reminders of their past. He said he expects the film will also bring back painful memories to the Rwandans who see the film Saturday and Sunday. ``The film is very moving and hard,'' Peck said. ``But this is the reality, we have to confront it.'' Many in the audience found the film difficult to watch, but said it had an important message to tell. ``I hope 'Sometimes in April' will help our future generations understand our history and avoid a repeat of the genocide,'' said Martin Semukanya, a radio journalist who lost his father, sister, two brothers and many other relatives and friends during the killings. ``Sometimes in April'' is one of 21 films competing for the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival next month. Its release follows that of ``Hotel Rwanda,'' another film on the genocide, whose star Don Cheadle has been tipped for an Oscar nomination Tuesday for best actor. The killing was orchestrated by the Hutu-extremist government then in power. Government troops, Hutu militia and ordinary villagers spurred on by hate messages broadcast via radio went from village to village, butchering men, women and children. The genocide ended when then-rebels led by President Paul Kagame captured the Rwandan capital, Kigali, and ousted the extremist government on July 4, 1994.
washingtonpost.com 18 Jan 2005 Tsunami Wipes Darfur Off Priority List By Jefferson Morley washingtonpost.com Staff Writer Tuesday, January 18, 2005; 10:00 AM The South Asia tsunami not only wiped out more than 150,000 lives but also overwhelmed international media coverage of genocidal conflict in Sudan. "Before the tsunami struck, the U.N. described the conflict in the western Darfur region as the world's greatest humanitarian crisis," noted The Age in Australia yesterday. "Darfur has almost slipped off the world's radar," the Sydney-based daily reported. As the world's generosity turns to victims of a natural cataclysm, the equally innocent victims of equally vicious man-made disaster are at risk of being forgotten yet again. Tens of thousands of people in Darfur have been killed and at least 1.85 million people forced from their homes since early 2003 when rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government in Khartoum. The government has backed Arab militiamen, known as Janjaweed, who have been massacring and raping the black African residents of the region. Patrick Webb, chief of nutrition at the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) told Reuters that the "massive response" in south Asia "will make recovering a lot faster than . . . Darfur, for example," he said. Aljazeera.net, the Web site of the Arab news channel, ran the story, as did many other international news sites. Darfur has occasionally captured the world's brief attention. A belated visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell last June did not prevent online commentators from waxing caustic about the slow response of the international community. But there was faint hope that international action might save lives. Since then, geopolitics intertwined with economic interests have confounded optimism. In September, the U.N. Security Council finally considered a resolution to impose sanctions on Sudan for failing to prevent the atrocities. But China threatened to veto the measure and it was watered down. It is no secret that China has a mutually beneficial oil exploration partnership with Sudan, notes journalist Paul Mooney, writing in Monday's International Herald Tribune . "China National Petroleum Corporation won an oil exploitation bid there in 1995, and when Washington cut ties two years later, the Chinese were ready to fill the void left by retreating Western oil companies," he reports. "Sudan, which was an oil importer before the Chinese arrived, now earns $2 billion in oil exports each year, half of which goes to China." The only progress in Sudan has come on another front. Earlier this month, Powell and other diplomats did succeed in pressuring the Sudanese government into signing a peace agreement with the Sudan People's Liberation Army, (SPLA) a black African insurgent group in the south. The Jan. 11 agreement, signed in Nairobi, Kenya, guarantees the SPLA a role in the national government. The pact, designed to bring an end to a 21 year long civil war in Sudan's southern provinces does nothing to address the crisis in Darfur. In West Africa, Le Patriote (in French), credited Powell with imposing the settlement on the two parties. The editors of the Ivory Coast daily praised the "Anglo-Saxon pragmatism" of U.S. policy which they compared favorably with more high-handed French diplomacy during the recent unrest in Ivory Coast. Powell, with "stick in one hand and money in the other, made Khartoum understand that the time had come to make peace," the editors said. In the Arab word, the Sudan peace agreement was hailed as a hopeful sign of Arab unity. In Syria, the state-owned newspaper al-Thawra (in Arabic) said the Sudan peace pact was "extremely important." The agreement "came at a time when some international forces coveting Sudan's resources are trying to take advantage of the Darfur crisis," the paper editorialized. All the while, the plight of the people of Darfur continues to deteriorate. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Anna told the BBC earlier this month that both the government and the insurgents had violated a ceasefire agreement. Last week, gunmen attacked two international aid convoys in Darfur, according to a United Nations news service story carried by Allafrica.com. Eric Reeves, a U.S. academic writing for the Sudan Tribune fears the Sudanese government now believes that "it is free to continue its genocide in Darfur. The failure of the international community to disabuse the regime of this conviction threatens additional hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths," he said. But the embattled Sudanese government can take comfort in the indisputable fact that many international forces do covet its natural resources. "The scramble for Sudan" is on, writes Kibisu-Kabatesi in The Standard, a leading daily in Kenya. "Sudan has massive economic potential in minerals, agriculture and service provision. . . . Already, South African companies have clinched exclusive deals in oil exploration on the heels of Malaysian, American, French and Russian firms," he said. The International Herald Tribune reported that the French oil giant Total announced in late December the company had renewed oil agreements with Sudan that were abandoned in 1985 because of the civil war. Marathon Oil, a Houston-based company is also said to be interested in Sudan, according to the IHT. So after two years of suffering, millions of people in Darfur have been left stranded by a perfect storm of civil war, tsunami, money and geopolitics. They remain what they have always been to the governments of the world: a lesser priority.
AP 20 Jan 2005 AP: Survey Points to Victims in Darfur By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: January 20, 2005 Filed at 5:32 a.m. ET DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- Although the commonly cited estimates of the death toll in Sudan's Darfur region refer to fatalities from disease and hunger, analysis of a recent U.S.-commissioned survey strongly suggests that many thousands -- at a minimum -- have been killed in violence as well. The conclusion is based on a survey conducted for U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in July and August, a month before he declared that Darfur's killing represented genocide. Analysis of that survey continues, officials say, even as the U.N. Security Council awaits results of its separate investigation into the conflict this month. Advertisement The U.S.-commissioned study interviewed 1,136 refugees who had fled Darfur for U.N. tent cities and camps along Chad's eastern border, selecting them through a random method meant to yield a sample representative at least of the 200,000 Darfur refugees in Chad. The key finding: 61 percent said they had seen a family member killed before their eyes in violence blamed on Sudanese forces and government-backed Arab militias accused of a scorched-earth campaign against African villagers. Fritz Scheuren, president of the American Statistical Associations, said the survey methods were correct, and Juan Mendez, the U.N. envoy for the prevention of genocide, called it comprehensive. Smith College professor Eric Reeves, a researcher into the conflict, said if the figure held for all of Darfur's 2 million displaced the implication would be 200,000 killed. However, there is no certainty that the experiences of the displaced in Chad -- the group the sample came from -- are the same as those of other refugees who did not reach Chad, or of all of the 6 million people of Darfur. Furthermore, projecting a precise death toll estimate from the survey is problematic because there is no certainty about the size of the group each refugee would consider to be ``family'' -- a key element in the calculation. Refugees included extended family -- such as uncles and cousins -- in their answers, said Stefanie Frease of the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Coalition for International Justice, which conducted the survey with the U.S. State Department. There is, however, widespread consensus that the findings indicate the death toll from violence to be in the many thousands. Until now, the most widely circulated Darfur-related toll has been a World Health Organization estimate that 70,000 had died from its indirect effects -- chiefly disease and hunger -- in an eight-month stretch in 2004. The survey also shows a consistent pattern of coordinated killings by Sudanese forces and allied Arab militia targeting non-Arab villagers, said Frease, whose group has aided war-crimes trials in the former Yugoslavia. Refugees spoke of attacks timed to maximize civilian casualties, of attackers pledging to purge Darfur of its non-Arab black majority, and of mass burials of victims. Refugees questioned for the survey spoke of air- and ground attacks on market days and or to coincide with other events that would draw large numbers of civilians. ``We will kill all the men and rape the women. We want to change the color'' of the people, a male refugee questioned for the survey quoted an attacker saying about a December 2003 government and tribal raid on his village of Refeda. Sudan's Arab-dominated central government has denied targeting Darfur civilians or allying with Arab militias, and officials did not respond to requests about the survey. Sudan has also blocked most outside access to the government-controlled Darfur countryside until last summer, making direct investigation of the carnage impossible. The United States has been a lead proponent of action against Sudan for the near 2-year-old unrest in Darfur, which has emptied more than 400 villages. Some have urged U.N. sanctions or war-crimes trials for Sudanese leaders. The Security Council-commissioned probe -- whose release is expected within days or weeks -- is expected to deliver more authoritative evidence on whether Darfur's killing constitutes genocide. Survey teams gathered the names of thousands of slain. Surveyers asked interview subjects to give the names, ages and other details of every family member they reported they had seen killed, Frease said. ``In some cases, we have lists of 20 people from one witness,'' Frease said. Sudan, meanwhile, has pointed to the fact no mass graves have been found to bolster its case that any death toll is low. But refugee accounts to survey teams suggest the graves are there to be uncovered. At the village of Agurnrd, a village man helped dig the graves of 52 men executed at point-blank range by Arab militia fighters in a mix of civilian and military uniforms in April 2004, he told researchers.
Financial Gazette (Harare) OPINION 20 Jan 2005 Genocide No Different From Tsunami Harare Can a place inhabited by six billion people be regarded as a "global village" where each one of us is somehow his or her brother's keeper? I know it is difficult for most of us mere mortals to even begin to picture the staggering numerical reality of so many human beings. This, however, does not change the fact that the answer to the above question is a resounding, unequivocal yes. Nothing underscores the interdependence of the human race more convincingly than the natural disasters that hit Planet Earth from time to time. This message is driven home most unambiguously if the calamity is of Biblical proportions, such as the tsunami that hit a number of Asian countries about three weeks ago. The tsunami, which killed more than 150,000 people, was triggered by the most powerful earthquake recorded in many years. It measured 9,0 on the Richter Scale. The tsunami flattened entire towns and cities and destroyed infrastructure in eleven countries. Millions of people were rendered homeless. Survivors include thousands of orphaned children who lost both parents and other relatives. In some cases, a bewildered and frightened child was the only survivor in his or her family. These young tsunami victims join millions of other children orphaned by another disaster that knows no geographical bounds - Aids. Those killed in the Asian tidal waves include tourists from different parts of the world who had been holidaying in the different Asian beach resorts often described as "paradise on earth". Far away countries such as Sweden, South Africa, Britain, Canada, the United States and even Zimbabwe, lost citizens in the calamity. A Bulawayo businessman was reported to have been killed and another to have been seriously injured. Some coastal areas of Africa such as Somalia and Tanzania were also affected. It is difficult to imagine that anyone on the face of this earth could watch footage of the utter destruction and human suffering left in the wake of this disaster and remain untouched. I dare say only those with hearts of stone could fail to be filled with compassion and empathy for fellow human beings pitted so hopelessly against Mother Nature's unfathomable fury. It is inconceivable that the people of Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and all other devastated areas could ever hope to recover and rebuild without assistance from the rest of the world. An acknowledgement of the fact that "no man is an Island" has galvanized the entire world to respond to the Asian disaster in a way never seen before. A United Nations official has said the disaster brought out the best in people all over the world and showed humanity at its best! That is indeed a proud moment for homo sapiens. It is gratifying that Zimbabwe is part of this noble out pouring of generosity. It is to be hoped that despite their own economic struggles, Zimbabweans will respond generously to Vice-President Joyce Mujuru's appeal for donations such as clothes and food to be sent to the victims. Mujuru made the appeal about two weeks ago when she announced the formation of a government committee to mobilize resources for the Asian cataclysm. Some commentators have pointed out that while the industrialized and rich nations such as the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Canada, Australia and other western nations responded to the disaster generously, their assistance was equally needed in other parts of the world. They cited situations in the Congo, Sudan, the Middle East and other trouble spots as equally "destructive tsunamis" that need to be attended to urgently. I agree with them one hundred percent. While I do not buy the view in some quarters that the West responded as generously as it did because hundreds of Western tourists perished in the Asian catastrophe, I nevertheless denounce double standards of any kind. Human suffering is human suffering regardless of where it occurs. With that in mind, I have to say, I have been appalled by the international community's "slow motion" response to some situations that have caused untold human anguish. I refer to the genocide in Rwanda a decade ago when the world ignored the SOS of the two million people who perished in this tragic episode. "Never again", declared various officials after it had become clear that the world had let the people of Rwanda down in their hour of need. Regretably, the same dragging of feet has been repeated with regard to the situation in Sudan's Western Darfur region. Thousands have died and close to two million people have been displaced while the international community fiddled over whether to define the ongoing atrocities as genocide or not. What hypocrisy and double-standards! Nevertheless, the people needing to learn the biggest lesson from the Asian tsunami are those ruthless dictators and tyrants who resort to killing their own people in their mad manoeuvres to cow entire populations. These heartless men need to be told that with Mother Nature capable of the destructive fury unleashed across Asia, we do not need man-made disasters such as civil wars and genocide that some strongmen regard as insurance for life-long job security for themselves.
www.mg.co.za 20 Jan 2005 Abuses, yes, but no genocide, says Sudan committee Khartoum, Sudan 20 January 2005 12:54 An official Sudanese committee of inquiry has determined that serious human rights abuses have been committed in the troubled Darfur region but rejected claims of ethnic cleansing and systematic rape. "Serious human rights violations took place in the three states of Darfur, in which all parties to the conflict were involved to varying degrees, thus leading to human suffering of the people of Darfur, causing internal displacement and people taking refuge in neighbouring Chad," the committee said. The international community and human rights groups have long raised concerns about the situation in Darfur, where ethnic rebels have been fighting the government and its allied militias since February 2003. But the committee report, unveiled on Wednesday, added: "What had happened in Darfur despite its graveness did not constitute a genocide crime. "The commission has concluded that incidents of rape and sexual abuses took place in the various states of Darfur but it has not been proven to the commission that there was systematic and widespread abuse that would constitute a crime against humanity," the report said. An uprising begun by ethnic minority rebels in early 2003 prompted the government in Khartoum to launch a bloody crackdown by Arab militias, which Washington has said amounted to genocide. About 70 000 people are estimated to have died in the past several months alone, according to figures from the United Nations and aid agencies. About 1,5-million more have fled their homes, many seeking refuge beyond Sudan's borders. -- Sapa-AFp
BBC 21 Jan 2005 New doubts over Sudan peace force SPLA leader John Garang is expected in Rumbek soon The deployment of an international force to southern Sudan could be delayed by a dispute over which countries send peacekeeping troops. The southern rebel group is unhappy that too many Muslim countries have been asked, a senior UN source says. The UN is hoping to deploy in March some 10,000 troops to monitor the peace deal between the Islamic government and Christian and Animist rebels. The deal ended 21 years of war which left some 1.5m people dead. A key member of the rebel SPLM, Deng Alour Deng, said they had not been consulted over which countries would make up the new peace mission to southern Sudan and that they had reservations about the whole list. First embassy The BBC's Jonah Fisher in the southern capital, Rumbek, says that several countries are thought to have been approached, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia. A Security Council vote on the UN mission is not due until early February but in order to begin arriving in March participating countries need to be planning ahead now, our correspondent says. On Thursday, the first diplomatic mission was opened in Rumbek, 900km south of the capital, Khartoum, to represent Dutch and British interests. Speaking on his first visit to Rumbek, UN envoy Jan Pronk said this week that the challenge to secure peace and develop the south was huge. Rumbek has no paved roads or multi-storey buildings and hardly any running water or electricity.
BBC 23 Jan 2005 South Sudanese in unity challenge The peace deal will end more than 20 years of conflict Sudan's former southern rebel leader John Garang has challenged the north to say why the country should stay united. Mr Garang told reporters in his interim capital, Rumbek, that northerners would now have to accept the southern Sudanese as their equals. Southerners have been given a large degree of autonomy as part of the peace deal that ended 21 years of civil war. They are scheduled to hold a referendum in six years to decide whether they want to seek full independence. Mr Garang was speaking a day after returning to his base for the first time since signing the historic peace deal earlier this month. You can't be calling for unity [while] asking me to be your inferior John Garang He led southern rebels against the government in Khartoum in a bloody civil war until the peace agreement was signed in Kenya. His organisation, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), is expected to formally ratify the deal. It will then begin the task of putting together a new southern government. The peace agreement is designed to end two decades of war between the Muslim north and the mainly Christian south of the country that left an estimated 1.5 million people dead. Equality call As part of the deal, Mr Garang will become vice-president in the central government and will lead an autonomous government in the south from Rumbek. Sudan's southern rebels have always maintained that their goal is not the creation of a separate southern state but a united country free from discrimination. Garang returned to Rumbek on Saturday to a hero's welcome But with a government being assembled and a new flag and national anthem in the offing, southern Sudan has begun to look increasingly like a country-in-waiting, says the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Rumbek. Mr Garang stressed that it was not up to him as to whether Sudan would remain united. "The challenge is on the north," he told a news conference. "You can't be calling for unity [while] asking me to be your inferior," he said. Rumbek itself has no paved roads or multi-storey buildings and hardly any running water or electricity. As residents of one of the poorest areas in the world, the southern Sudanese will be looking closely to see whether the long-awaited peace brings opportunity and development, our correspondent says. If after six years things still have not improved, a vote to separate is a near certainty, he says. Peacekeeper dispute Under the terms of the peace deal, the government of southern Sudan will share oil revenue equally with the government in the north. Hundreds of millions and perhaps even billions of dollars will flow to Mr Garang's new administration. The Dutch Development Minister, Agnes van Ardenne, visited Rumbek on Friday, promising $130m in European aid - but made it conditional on an end to the continuing conflict in the western region of Darfur. The UN is hoping to deploy in March some 10,000 international peacekeepers to monitor the agreement, between the Islamic government in the north and Christian and Animist rebels. But UN sources say the deployment could be delayed by a dispute over which countries will provide the troops. The SPLM is reported to believe that too many Muslim countries have been asked to contribute.
Reuters 23 Jan 2005 Sudan army says Darfur rebels burn eight villages KHARTOUM, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Darfur rebels attacked and burned eight villages in western Sudan, killing dozens of civilians and looting their property, an armed forces official said on Sunday. "A group of Darfur rebels attacked al-Malam area, on the borders of North and South Darfur states," an armed forces official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. He did not know which of the Darfur rebel groups was responsible. "They burnt eight villages and killed many people," the official said. Two main rebel groups denied their troops were involved and said they were checking what happened. They said their forces were committed to the ceasefire agreement signed last April. A statement from the office of the armed forces spokesman said dozens of civilians had been killed in the attack on Saturday and their homes looted. There are three recognised rebel groups in Darfur but other groups also operate, making it difficult to determine who carries out attacks in the vast region the size of France. After years of tribal clashes over scarce resources in the arid area, two main rebel groups took up arms in early 2003, accusing the Khartoum government of neglect and of arming Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, to loot and burn non-Arab villages. While Khartoum admits arming some tribes to fight the rebels, they deny all links to the Janjaweed, calling them outlaws. Tens of thousands have died and almost 2 million have fled their homes since the fighting began. "Be sure that these are not our troops," said rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) spokesman Haroun Abdel Hamid from Libya, adding he was checking what had happened in al-Malam. The other main rebel movement, the Sudan Liberation Army, also denied the attacks were by their troops.
IRIN 24 Jan 2005 Darfur villages reportedly burnt in fresh violence [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © Jennifer Abrahamson, OCHA Sudan Young SLM/A fighters at Marla, Darfur. NAIROBI, 24 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - Eight villages in the western Sudanese region of Darfur were reportedly burned to the ground on Friday in a fresh outbreak of violence, sources said. An unspecified number of people were killed, the sources added. "The police have reported the attacks and the African Union monitoring team is investigating what exactly happened," a humanitarian worker in the region, told IRIN on Monday. Radhia Achouri, spokeswoman for the United Nations Advance Mission in Sudan said the incident had not yet been formally reported to the mission. "We have heard about the attacks, but are trying to get confirmation," she said. The official Sudan News Agency reported that the attacks were carried out by Darfur rebels and took place near Malam, about 100 km north of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State. "The rebels have carried out a heinous attack on the areas of Malam, burning down eight villages and killing and injuring a number of civilians and looting properties," the agency quoted a government statement as saying. Other international media reported that the two main rebel groups, Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), had denied any involvement in the incidents. The violence came a day after the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Sudan, Jan Pronk, said fighting between government troops and rebels in Darfur had decreased over the past month, but that Arab militias were still attacking villagers. "The violence is still perpetrated by pro-government militias and other armed groups that are very difficult to control; they attack villages, abduct people and increasingly use rape as a tool of war," Pronk told reporters. "But between the government and the rebel movements, there is more adherence to the ceasefire than a month ago - and that is a step forward," he added. The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops and militias, allegedly allied to the government, against the JEM and SLW/A, which are fighting to end what they call the marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for international prosecutions to deter continuing violence in Darfur. In a report documenting crimes in the region, HRW accused the Sudanese government and its allied militias of committing atrocities. "Regardless of whether there has been genocide, the scale and severity of the ongoing atrocities in Darfur demand an urgent international response," Peter Takirambudde, HRW's Africa Director, said. "Given Sudan's continuing failure to prosecute the perpetrators, the [UN] Security Council needs to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court," he added. The conflict has displaced more than 1.45 million people and sent another 200,000 fleeing across the border into Chad since it began in 2003. The UN has described the Darfur problem as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. The HRW report titled: "Targeting the Fur: Mass Killings in Darfur", is available at: http://embargo.hrw.org/
washingtonpost.com 24 Jan 2005 Support War Crimes Trials for Darfur By Jack Goldsmith Monday, January 24, 2005; Page A15 A U.N. commission chaired by the former president of the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal, Antonio Cassese, is expected to issue its recommendation this week on whether the International Criminal Court should investigate human rights abuses in the Darfur region of Sudan. If the Cassese commission does propose an ICC investigation, a Security Council referral will be necessary for the ICC to proceed, because Sudan has not ratified the ICC treaty. This would place the Bush administration in a bind. The administration has condemned the Darfur abuses as genocide. But at the same time, it strongly opposes the ICC, which it believes is staffed by unaccountable judges and prosecutors who threaten politically motivated actions against U.S. personnel around the globe. These concerns explain why the United States has opposed ratification of the ICC treaty and has sought bilateral assurances that other nations will not send U.S. nationals to the ICC. News reports suggest that the Bush administration would oppose a Security Council referral on Darfur out of fear that it would confer legitimacy on the international court. In fact such a referral would be consistent with U.S. policy on the ICC. The United States has never opposed ICC prosecutions across the board. Rather, it has maintained that ICC prosecutions of non-treaty parties would be politically accountable and thus legitimate if they received the imprimatur of the Security Council. The Darfur case allows the United States to argue that Security Council referrals are the only valid route to ICC prosecutions and that countries that are not parties to the ICC (such as the United States) remain immune from ICC control in the absence of such a referral. This course of action would signal U.S. support not only for the United Nations but for international human rights as well, at a time when Washington is perceived by some as opposing both. And it would give the United States leverage in seeking genuine sanctions against Sudan, especially with France, which for oil-related reasons has quietly resisted U.S. efforts on Darfur. France would have a hard time opposing a package of sanctions that included U.S. support for an ICC referral. Opposition by China and Russia would be harder to overcome but would at least make clear to the world that those two powerful nations are even more opposed to the ICC than the United States. U.S. support for a Security Council referral might also point the way to a compromise with European nations that are anxious to secure U.S. backing for the international court but oppose state-to-state deals that overtly immunize U.S. citizens from ICC jurisdiction. Agreement on the need for Security Council approval for ICC prosecutions would provide a more principled way for Europe to alleviate U.S. concerns about rogue ICC prosecutions. Critics would decry this approach as a double standard for Security Council members, who can protect themselves by vetoing a referral. But this double standard is woven into the fabric of international politics and is the relatively small price the international system pays for the political accountability and support that only the big powers, acting through the Security Council, can provide. The fears of "legitimizing" the ICC are overstated. It's too late to kill the International Criminal Court. The Security Council (including the United States) presupposed the ICC's authority when it voted in 2002 and 2003 to immunize U.N. peacekeepers from ICC prosecutions. And the institution is now up and running, preparing for cases already referred to it. For better or worse, the ICC is not going away anytime soon. Another potential obstacle is a 2001 congressional bar on U.S. cooperation with the ICC. But this statute exempts acts taken pursuant to the president's constitutional authority, and it specifically permits the president to communicate to the ICC U.S. "policy with respect to a matter." The congressional ban would preclude U.S. financial support for the ICC, but all that means is that the United States can, for a change, enjoy the fruits of international justice without having to pay for it. Not that there will necessarily be much fruit. Prosecutions by other international criminal courts have done little to bring reconciliation to Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia, or (as the Darfur tragedy shows) to deter future crimes in other nations. Nonetheless, it is possible that the concrete threat of an ICC prosecution could temper the killings in Darfur without adversely affecting the recent peace deal between Sudan's Islamic government and its southern rebels. If so, the Bush administration should play the difficult hand likely to be dealt it by the Cassese commission to its own political advantage. A more moderate stance toward the ICC could be a more effective one. The writer, a professor at Harvard Law School and a former Bush administration official in the Justice and Defense departments, is the author of "The Limits of International Law."
IRIN 20 Jan 2005 Rwanda tribunal ready to start 17 new genocide trials, prosecutor says [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] ARUSHA, 20 Jan 2005 (IRIN) - The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Hassan Jallow, has said that he is ready to start the trials of 17 suspects held in detention for their role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Jallow said that the trials would be held simultaneously with the ongoing 25 cases in progress. There are a total of 57 detainees at the special UN Detention Facility in Arusha, location of the tribunal. Upon closure of the investigations deadline in 2004, as directed by the UN Security Council, Jallow, without mentioning the names, said investigations had been completed on 16 targets. "We are now looking at the files and will decide whether we have enough evidence to proceed," he said. "We have been given up to October  to do that, but our plan is to make sure by June -we will have decided what indictment to file." Trials had been delayed in the past because of too few judges. However, with the appointment of temporary judges the trials are being speeded. Regarding the alleged atrocities committed by the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), Jallow said investigations had been completed into the allegations that the RPF killed civilians while trying to stop the genocide. "At the moment, we have passed the phase of investigations," he said. "What we are doing is the evaluation of evidence in order to decide what cases we have." Jallow did not say how long the evaluation would take. "I can't state exactly the deadline," he said. He said the tribunal would be more aggressive in tracking down fugitives with the cooperation of governments and international organisations. "We want to be more vigorous this year," he said. "If we can't catch them until the tribunal closes down , then their cases will be transferred to national jurisdictions for a trial." Meanwhile, Jallow said that in an effort to speed up the trials, some of the accused would be tried in national jurisdictions sometime in the first half of this year. Rwanda has requested to try some of them. Jallow said talks are also ongoing with three European countries, which he did not name, but have shown interest in holding trials. The UN tribunal, which was created in 1994 to hear the cases of key perpetrators of the genocide, has so far convicted 20 and acquitted three.
AP 20 Jan 2005 Argentine Witness Gives Grisly Testimony By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: January 20, 2005 Filed at 1:57 p.m. ET MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Spanish judges heard gruesome testimony Thursday about atrocities by the former military regime during Argentina's ``dirty war,'' including theft of babies and clandestine cremation of detainees' bodies. The accounts came in the trial of Adolfo Scilingo, 58, a former Argentine naval officer who served at a naval school that served as a prison and reputed torture center. Advertisement Scilingo stared at the floor and sipped water as the court heard for the second day excerpts from a tape recording made in 1997 in which he described abuses at the school. Since his trial began last week, Scilingo has insisted that he fabricated the taped testimony. He faces charges of war crimes, genocide, torture and terrorism in Spain's first trial of a person for human rights abuses allegedly committed in another country. In excerpts played Thursday, Scilingo tells how pregnant detainees had their newborn babies taken away from them and given away in adoption to officers at the school. ``For humanitarian reasons, the pregnant women could not be moved. I mean, eliminated. We had to wait until they gave birth,'' Scilingo is heard saying. He did not specify how many cases he knew of, saying just ``several.'' Doctors who delivered babies signed birth certificates in which the children were given the names of the people adopting them, he said. The goal of these illegal adoptions, he said, ``was to keep the children from falling into the subversive mentality of their parents,'' Scilingo is heard saying. Scilingo, who was the chief electrician at the school, also speaks in the excerpts of how officials there cremated the bodies of people who died of injuries while under interrogation. He said these cremations were referred to as ``asados'' -- which translates as roastings -- and as chief electrician he was once asked to supply diesel fuel or oil for them to be carried out. ``There were instructions from superiors for all of us at the school to take part. I did not go. It seemed very gruesome to me,'' Scilingo says in the tape. Spanish authorities recorded the tape during an interrogation with National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon when Scilingo first came to Spain voluntarily in 1997 to testify about what he saw at the school, one of the Argentine regime's most notorious torture centers. Garzon ended up jailing Scilingo and indicting him. Since the mid-1990s Garzon has been leading a probe into atrocities committed by military regimes in Argentina and Chile. Scilingo, whose trial started last week, has testified that he invented his previous confessions, including a chilling account of pushing 30 drugged dissidents out of planes flying over the Atlantic, in an effort to provoke an investigation into Argentina's ``dirty war.'' Under Argentina's military dictatorship, some 13,000 perceived political opponents were killed or disappeared during a campaign to stamp out dissent, according to an official government report. Human rights groups put the number closer to 30,000.
AP 20 Jan 2005 Mexican archeologists unearth evidence of human sacrifice By MARK STEVENSON Associated Press UPDATED AT 4:28 PM EST Thursday, Jan 20, 2005 Advertisement MEXICO CITY -- It has long been a matter of contention: Was the Aztec and Mayan practice of human sacrifice as widespread and horrifying as history books say? Or did Spanish conquerors overstate it to make the cultures appear primitive? In recent years, archeologists have uncovered mounting evidence that corroborates the Spanish accounts in substance, if not number. Using high-tech forensic tools, archeologists are proving that such sacrifices often involved children and a broad array of intentionally brutal killings. For decades, many researchers believed Spanish accounts from the 16th and 17th centuries were biased, aiming to denigrate Indian cultures; others argued that sacrifices were largely confined to captured warriors, and still others conceded the Aztecs were bloody but believed the Maya were less so. "We now have the physical evidence to corroborate the written and pictorial record," archeologist Leonardo Lopez Lujan said. The Spaniards probably did exaggerate the number of victims to justify a supposedly righteous war against idolatry, said David Carrasco, a Harvard Divinity School expert on Mesoamerican religion. But there is no longer much doubt about the nature of the killings. Indian pictorial texts, known as codices, as well as Spanish accounts from the time, quote Indians as describing multiple forms of human sacrifice. Victims had their hearts cut out or were decapitated, shot full of arrows, stoned, crushed, skinned, buried alive and tossed from the tops of temples. Children were said to be frequent victims, in part because they were considered pure and unspoiled. "Many people said, 'We can't trust these codices, because the Spaniards were describing all these horrible things,' which in the long run we are confirming," said Carmen Pijoan, a forensic anthropologist. In December, at an excavation in an Aztec-era community in Ecatepec, just north of Mexico City, archeologist Nadia Velez Saldana described finding evidence of human sacrifice associated with the god of death. "The sacrifice involved burning or partially burning victims. We found a burial pit with the skeletal remains of four children who were partially burned, and the remains of four other children that were completely carbonized." Although the remains do not show whether the victims were burned alive, there are depictions of people, apparently alive, being held down as they were burned. The dig turned up other clues to support descriptions of sacrifices in the Magliabecchi codex, a pictorial account painted between 1600 and 1650 that includes human body parts stuffed into cooking dishes and people eating as the god of death looks on. "We have found cooking dishes just like that," said archeologist Luis Manuel Gamboa. The Maya, whose culture peaked farther east about 400 years before the Aztecs founded Mexico City in 1325, had a similar taste for sacrifice, Harvard University anthropologist David Stuart wrote in a 2003 article. In carvings and mural paintings, he says, "we have now found more and greater similarities between the Aztecs and Mayas," including one that depicts Mayan ceremony in which a grotesquely costumed priest is shown pulling the entrails from a bound and apparently living sacrificial victim. See City of Sacrifice : Violence From the Aztec Empire to the Modern Americas by David Carrasco 304 pages Publisher: Beacon Press (December 8, 2000) f
Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. pressherald.mainetoday.comCOLUMN: Nikki Kallio The 'g' word loses its meaning when no real action follows it Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc. E-mail this story to a friend It was almost shocking when top government leaders dared to utter the "g" word - "genocide" - when referring to the violence in Sudan's Darfur region, because by all accounts that meant the United States would have to do something to stop it. As a signatory to the United Nations' 1948 Genocide Convention, we're now bound to "undertake to prevent and to punish" the crime. At least, that's the way it's supposed to work. The law started with Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jew who studied the Turkish destruction of Christian Armenians during World War I and escaped Poland a week after the Nazis invaded. In her Pulitzer prize-winning book, "A Problem from Hell," Samantha Power describes Lemkin's efforts to set up an international law that was meant to forever eliminate such atrocities. He'd seen in Hitler's writings what the madman had in mind and tried to warn his family and friends, who didn't believe such a heinous plan could be executed. His parents were among those to perish. First, these crimes against humanity needed a name. Lemkin, an attorney and a trained linguist, knew what had happened was worse than mass murder, it was worse than an atrocity and it was worse than a crime against humanity. It needed a name that would transcend all others and compel the world to prevent it from ever happening again, Power wrote. Lemkin's new word, "genocide," finally gained the acceptance of Webster's Dictionary in 1944. The next step then was to establish an international law that would force the world to act to prevent it. If there were no such law, Lemkin knew genocide would continue to be regarded as an "internal" problem and that the world would continue to hesitate to intervene, Power wrote. Lemkin's vision of future genocide compelled him to take on the personal responsibility of preventing the slaughter of millions of people, and it consumed his life. The new international law was all he talked about, and he would talk about it with anyone who would listen and many who didn't, Power wrote. Day and night, he hammered at leaders and journalists, and, after an exhaustive campaign, the United Nations finally adopted the Genocide Convention in 1948. The United States, however, didn't ratify it until 1988. The Convention defines genocide as actions "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group." It compels signatories to act when genocide is occurring. For that reason, past leaders have been excruciatingly reluctant to speak the word, avoiding it like poison, believing that its utterance would behold them to action. The painful footage of State Department officials discussing in 1994 why what had occurred in Rwanda wasn't "genocide" - despite the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in 100 days - demonstrated how much weight leaders thought the word carried. That's why pundits and editorialists - including me - called on leaders to use the word in discussing the crisis in Sudan. At least 70,000 black Africans have been killed since last year and close to 2 million more have been displaced from their homes by the government-backed Arab Janjaweed militiamen in an apparent attempt to gain control of the resource-rich Darfur region. Surprisingly, Congress, Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush responded. They've all taken the extraordinary step of using the powerful word. Much to Darfur's dismay, little has happened. Only weak resolutions that allude to economic sanctions have been passed (barely), and they've been given little teeth, even after Darfur's situation had been officially called "genocide." Scott Straus, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, wrote in the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs that "Darfur has shown that the energy spent fighting over whether to call the events there 'genocide' was misplaced, overshadowing difficult but more important questions about how to craft an effective response to mass violence against civilians in Sudan." Apparently, he's right. So, has the word lost its power? Should we start over? Rewrite the law? Talk about it some more? Wait and see? It took the United States 40 years to ratify the Genocide Convention in the first place, and now we find out that it has about as much strength as a paper towel. "Never again," indeed. Nikki Kallio is an editorial writer at the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram.
Reuters 18 Jan 2005 New Jersey murders prompt Arab group condemnation 19 Jan 2005 NEW YORK, Jan 18 (Reuters) - A leading Arab-American group on Tuesday tried to defuse tensions between Egyptian Christians and Muslims in the New York metro area following the murder of a family of four last week in Jersey City, New Jersey. Emotions ran high at Monday's funeral as police and the FBI continued to investigate the massacre of an Egyptian Christian family found on Friday in their home bound, gagged and stabbed in the throats. Robbery was a suspected motive after police found the house was looted, although some members of the Copt community said Hossam Armanious, his wife, Amal Garas, and daughters Sylvia, 15, and Monica, 8, who immigrated to the United States in 1997, might have been victims of a hate crime by Islamic militants. Hossam Armanious had engaged in heated debate about Islam on a religious Web site, according to some family members. "Any crime against civilians regardless of motive or justification contravene the covenants of all world religions and the civilized world," Aref Assaf, president of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee of New Jersey, said in a statement. "Ethnic or sectarian motives must be rejected as a justification for taking human life," he said. "Religious and community leaders must unequivocally condemn the crime and the perpetrators." More than 500 people lined a four-block funeral procession of the four caskets leading to Monday's memorial service in St. George & St. Shenouda Coptic Orthodox Church. One person held a sign reading, "American Family Beheaded on American Soil. Welcome Bin Laden." About 1,000 people crammed into the church where some parishioners erupted when they spotted Muslim clerics inside. "Muslim is the killer," shouted one parishioner over and over again, before he was removed from the church. Others shouted threats when they saw an Egyptian Muslim leader from Brooklyn, Sheik Tarek Yousof Saleh, in the church and he was escorted out by police. "We escorted some people out of the church for their own protection and to preserve decorum," Jersey City police Capt. John Tooke said on Tuesday. Outside the church, police broke up a number of skirmishes but no arrests were made. The FBI said on Tuesday it is cooperating with local police and has been helping with crime scene analysis and forensics. If authorities believe the crime was sectarian in nature, the FBI might launch its own investigation, the FBI spokesman said.
NYT 19 Jan 2005 TV REVIEW | 'AUSCHWITZ' Another Look at the Nazi Business of Killing By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN Published: January 19, 2005 don't know anything about the Tyrrhenians. I can never remember who McGeorge Bundy was. I don't understand Mongol rule in China, or King Philip's War in America. But I know about Auschwitz. In 10th grade at my public school in New Hampshire in the 1980's, we watched "Night and Fog," Alain Resnais's 1955 documentary, in conjunction with a series of lectures on the Holocaust. We saw severed heads and heaps of emaciated corpses. Our teacher, a veteran of World War II, explained in detail the Nazi hierarchy, the uses of Zyklon B and the crematories; we went over and over how people who thought they were going to take showers were led to their death. We returned to the subject every semester until graduation. Advertisement Why, with so much history to learn, did we spend so long on the particulars of Auschwitz and the practices of the Nazis? I couldn't help thinking that there was something about the Holocaust - or at least about the Nazis' cold efficiency - that we weren't meant to grieve, but to admire. In "Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State," a six-part BBC/KCET co-production by Laurence Rees that starts tonight on PBS, Melvin Jules Bukiet, a novelist who is the son of a survivor, says of the Holocaust, "I think we learn nothing from it." He goes on, "It is simultaneously endlessly fascinating - because it does embody extremes of human behavior - but it is also endlessly exhausting, because it provides no reward whatsoever." What if the Holocaust is no longer fascinating, but only exhausting? Though this possibility is raised by Mr. Bukiet at the end of tonight's installment, PBS apparently did not give it much consideration in putting together this new series. "Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State" is a glossier production than the clip jobs on the History Channel - which many still call the Hitler Channel for its preoccupation with the Nazis - but it has no more powerful reason for being than they do. Once again, re-enactors button up their sharp SS uniforms and strut their fascist style in elaborate re-creations that are performed in German, with subtitles. Handsome actors play the killers, and scrupulous attention is given to their grooming. A scene of the Auschwitz commandant, Rudolf Höss (played by Horst Günther-Marx), getting a haircut is laboriously staged. An awestruck voice-over describes the Holocaust as "one of the most infamous policies in all of history," noting that the Nazis' "industry of death" was "supremely efficient." In interviews, former inmates and SS officers alike tell us what we already know: that Auschwitz was terrifying; that people were murdered every day; that the people who worked there were anti-Semites who believed that Jews were opponents of the state. As Pavel Stenkin, a Russian prisoner of war who spent time at Auschwitz, puts it: "Death, death, death. Death at night, death in the morning, death in the afternoon. Death. We lived with death." Hans Friedrich, a former German soldier of the First Infantry Brigade, is asked by an interviewer: When you were shooting Jewish men, women and children, did you have any feelings for the people? "Nein," says Mr. Friedrich, now white-haired. And he continues, in the voice of the interpreter, "My hatred toward Jews is too great." The evolution of Nazi killing techniques - from shooting to adult euthanasia programs in Germany to the development of the gas chambers at Auschwitz and Birkenau - is supplied in detail. Each murderous innovator is duly credited. But why belabor these developments, as if giving instructions? The series highlights its own original contributions to the study of Auschwitz, breaking the news that the camp was included in the genocide relatively late in its history; it was first used to imprison Polish political prisoners and Soviet prisoners of war. Architectural plans for the camp, which were discovered in Russian archives in the 1990's, are brandished. A computer model of Auschwitz serves as one of the series' central illustrations. But only one moment stands out as really unusual. It's a re-creation of a 1941 conference in Berlin at which SS officers, before the invasion of the Soviet Union, discussed plans for starving its people. All of the dialogue is reportedly taken from actual meeting minutes. One man argues that the Russians are accustomed to periods of famine: "Hunger and thrift have been the lot of Russians for centuries" he says, adding: "Their stomachs are elastic. Let's have no misplaced pity." No one, of course, has pity of any kind. Much of the drama in this superfluous series revolves around the sang-froid and technological sophistication of the Nazis, and that's bad enough. But the epilogues to each part - during which experts discuss the segment's significance - are unconscionably patronizing. At the end of Part 2, for example, Claudia Koonz, a history professor, and Edward Kissi, a professor of African studies, enlighten the host, Linda Ellerbee, about Nazi propaganda. Ms. Koonz explains that, as children, many Germans were taught to hate Jews. Contemplating this, Ms. Ellerbee asks, "Is it a good idea for kids today to question their education?" Does she really have to ask? 'Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State' PBS, Wednesdays through Feb. 2 at 9 p.m.; check local listings. Written and produced by Laurence Rees; KCET Hollywood and BBC, producers; Mary Mazur, series executive producer; Sir Ian Kershaw, script consultant; David Orenstein, co-producer; Karen Robinson, production executive for KCED; Megan Callaway, writer/producer (epilogues); Catherine Tatge, director (epilogues); Linda Hunt, narrator; epilogues' host, Linda Ellerbee.
BBC 21 Jan 2005 JP Morgan admits US slavery links The US's economic history hides some unpleasant truths Thousands of slaves were accepted as collateral for loans by two banks that later became part of JP Morgan Chase. The admission is part of an apology sent to JP Morgan staff after the bank researched its links to slavery in order to meet legislation in Chicago. Citizens Bank and Canal Bank are the two lenders that were identified. They are now closed, but were linked to Bank One, which JP Morgan bought last year. About 13,000 slaves were used as loan collateral between 1831 and 1865. 'No excuse' Important dates 1831 Canal Bank formed 1833 Citizens Bank formed 1924 Citizens and Canal join to form Canal Commercial Trust & Savings Bank (CCTSB) 1931 Chase Bank takes control of Canal 1933 CCTSB fails during Great Depression and goes into liquidation 1933 National Bank of Commerce in New Orleans (NBCNO) formed with some Canal Bank deposits and loans 1971 NBCNO becomes First National Bank of Commerce 1998 First National Bank of Commerce merged into Bank One Louisiana 2004 Bank One merged with JP Morgan Chase & Co. Because of defaults by plantation owners, Citizens and Canal ended up owning about 1,250 slaves. "We all know slavery existed in our country, but it is quite different to see how our history and the institution of slavery were intertwined," JP Morgan chief executive William Harrison and chief operating officer James Dimon said in the letter. "Slavery was tragically ingrained in American society, but that is no excuse." "We apologise to the African-American community, particularly those who are descendants of slaves, and to the rest of the American public for the role that Citizens Bank and Canal Bank played." "The slavery era was a tragic time in US history and in our company's history." JP Morgan said that it was setting up a $5m scholarship programme for students living in Louisiana, the state where the events took place. The bank said that it is a "very different company than the Citizens and Canal Banks of the 1800s"/
FT.com 21 Jan 2005 'Fear societies' the target of new administration By Guy Dinmore in Washington Published: January 21 2005 02:00 | Last updated: January 21 2005 02:00 Liberty overcoming tyranny was the main theme yesterday of President George W. Bush's inauguration address, one that Condoleezza Rice also stressed in her Senate hearings this week in listing six "outposts of tyranny" where the US "cannot rest" until freedom reigns. This new category follows the 2002 "axis of evil" trio of Iraq, Iran and North Korea, the long-standing seven "state sponsors of terrorism", and the flexible but no longer in vogue "rogue nations" tag. Diplomats and analysts - not to mention the tyrants - are wondering what it means. US officials could not or would not explain the genesis of the new list, which lumps together Belarus, Burma, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe. One said it was "representational, not exclusive". However, the grouping was clearly well thought out, given prominence as it was in Ms Rice's prepared statement to the Senate foreign relations committee, which is considering her nomination as secretary of state. "This doesn't mean we are going to bomb them tomorrow," said Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He stressed Ms Rice's background as a scholar of the former Soviet bloc. The cold war is the frame of reference for the president and Ms Rice, who share a long-term view of what they call the defining "generational" struggle. Being on the list did not exclude the possibility of making "geo-strategic deals" with these governments, and diplomatic relations were not ruled out, Mr Clawson said. But it was not detente, meaning that the US would not confer legitimacy on these regimes and would continue to support their opposition movements. The approach is a mix of national interests and ideology. "The neoconservatives can live with it," Mr Clawson said. Diplomats said it was obvious why Uzbekistan and Pakistan were not included, being important partners in the "war on terror". More striking were the absence of Syria and Sudan, both involved at critical moments of war and peace, with the US juggling threats and inducements. A senior analyst at a government defence institute saw Ms Rice's speech as reflecting a strategic move to take a regional approach in using US leverage. The ultimate focus, he said, was less the six "outposts" than the major powers of Russia, which the administration sees in decline, and China, which is viewed as the main rival of the future to US domination of a unipolar world. "If you can turn these particular countries," the analyst said, referring to Burma and North Korea, "then that would have a ricochet impact on China, to get it moving in the direction of a more democratic, market-oriented player." In a recent interview, Mr Bush said that if people wanted to understand how he thought about foreign policy they should read The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky. "It's short and it's good," Mr Bush said. In presenting her list of target tyrannies a few days later, Ms Rice also referred to the former Soviet dissident Mr Sharansky, now an Israeli politician. "The world should really apply what Natan Sharansky called the town square test," she said. "If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment and physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society. And we cannot rest until every person living in a fear society has finally won their freedom."
washingtonpost.com 23 Jan 2005 Hitler's Inferno Reviewed by David Von Drehle Sunday, January 23, 2005; Page BW05 AUSCHWITZ: A New History By Laurence Rees PublicAffairs. 327 pp. $30 Most of us would rather not think about Auschwitz, but that is how the next Auschwitz will happen. Laurence Rees's compact, devastating new history of the infamous death factory distills a crucial lesson -- perhaps the crucial lesson -- of the 20th century: that the human capacity for mass murder is grotesquely widespread and must be faced squarely if we hope to resist it. The systematized, industrialized, conveyor-belt murder of six million Jews and other despised minorities is hard to fathom. I recently visited a community center in Florida where two enormous jars, each as tall as a basketball player and as fat as a sumo wrestler, were being filled with pennies in hopes of collecting six million. But as Rees unfolds the singular atrocity of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million died, the recurring theme is just how easily it happened. From the monstrous planners to the demoralized bystanders, Europe was full of people willing to countenance the genocide. The ideals of Western civilization were like tissue paper across the tracks of human hatred. Auschwitz devolved smoothly from a slave-labor camp to a death camp as Hitler's war in the East bogged down. In village after village, city after city, people watched wordlessly, even jeered triumphantly, as their neighbors were herded toward the transports -- not just the Germans of Berlin and Munich and Leipzig, but Poles in Warsaw, Frenchmen in Paris, Hungarians in Budapest, Slovakians in Bratislava, even, in a few cases, British authorities in the Channel Islands. Some of the perpetrators were monsters, like the camp's commandant, Rudolph Höss, and the master of the human roundups, Adolf Eichmann. Some were ordinary people who could have saved a life or two but just . . . didn't. Most fell in between: They did not plan the genocide, but it did not seem to bother them much. Take the stupidly cruel French police who, without much prodding from the Nazis, organized a large shipment of Jewish women and children: Far from being moved by the suffering they supervised, they heedlessly compounded it, herding the mothers onto transports many days before the children were to be shipped. As Rees recounts in spare, heartbreaking prose, the French authorities made no provision for the orphaned children, leaving them to wander -- terrified and barely fed -- around the French holding camp until trains finally came for them. But the killers were not without tender feelings. Rees notes that it upset them very much when the people they were preparing for slaughter began screaming or struggling or fainting. It wore them out when they tried shooting their victims one by one beside mass graves. That is why they built efficient gas chambers, with soundproof walls and nearby crematoria. And it is why they took elaborate steps to mask what they were doing. So we find workers at Auschwitz, on Oct. 7, 1944, coaxing the shivering, hungry children from Barrack 8 in the Birkenau annex with a promise of warm winter clothes. Alice Lok Cahana, 15, hoped to scrounge a few garments for her sickly sister, Edith. The children were led to a brick building in a corner of the compound and told to strip off their rags. Alice did not panic, and the reason is quite horrible. She noticed "flowers in a window" of the building she was about to enter -- which was, of course, a gas chamber. Flowers made her think of her mother, who loved violets, and so she felt calm. Her murder was interrupted by a revolt of the crematoria workers, quickly quelled. Cahana survived to add this arresting and revolting detail to Rees's picture of the camp. Rees, a distinguished journalist and historian at the BBC, layers these details with little fanfare but great craftsmanship. His book, and a companion TV documentary, mark the 60th anniversary this month of the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops. Ultimately he does at the gut level what Hannah Arendt achieved some 40 years ago at the level of philosophy: He forces the reader to shift the Holocaust out of the realm of nightmare or Gothic horror and acknowledge it as something all too human. He reminds us that building Auschwitz required the services not just of sadists but of architects and engineers, that staffing it required the efforts of physicians and bookkeepers. We see again that an impetus for the first gassings came not from Berlin but from Slovakia, whose pro-Nazi government was happy to round up able-bodied Jews to be pressed into slavery in the IG Farben synthetic-rubber works at Auschwitz. Then the Slovaks realized they would be stuck with a Jewish remnant unable to provide for itself, so they paid the Nazis to take the elderly, the frail, the children to Auschwitz as well. Killing them seemed the expedient thing to do. Reading this book is an ordeal -- not through any failure of the author's but because of his success. Rees's research is impeccable and intrepid; among other feats, he has tracked down and interviewed former SS members who actually worked at Auschwitz, most of whom express no remorse. Rees also makes good use of the records that became available only after the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellites. These details add up to a precise picture of the death camp -- not only the sadistic kapos, the merciless selections, the industrial-scale killing, but also the perverse love stories, doomed uprisings, weird strokes of luck. Rees tells the bizarre story of the Auschwitz brothel, and details the one successful escape from the camp. He explains why the only hope of survival was a job indoors, and reports that the best jobs were in the warehouses where Jews were compelled to sort and catalogue the stolen possessions of their murdered brethren. Scrupulous and honest, this book is utterly without illusions. The nearest thing it has to an uplifting story is the successful effort by Danes to save their country's Jews. Even this ends on a sad note in Rees's hands. Why, he wonders, could similar feats not have been accomplished all across Europe? The answer emerges in the final pages, as Rees recounts stories of Auschwitz survivors returning to their homes months and years and even decades later, only to be greeted with fresh bigotry and new violence. More lives were not saved because human beings found it more convenient to hate. The potted bigotry and ludicrous rantings of tyrants spoke more deeply to them than the exhortations of saints. It is folly to believe that hatred could be so widespread and so easily activated in 1945 yet be toothless today. Neighbors hacked neighbors to death in Rwanda; mountains of skulls rose in Cambodia; entire classes of people were worked and starved to death in China; even Hitler's brand of bigotry is common currency in much of the world. Indeed, hate seems to be thriving. As long as it does, Auschwitz is with us. • David Von Drehle is a Washington Post staff writer and the author, most recently, of "Triangle: The Fire That Changed America."
AP 23 Jan 2005 'The Aviator' Wins Producers Guild Honor [ Excerpt] CULVER CITY, Calif. (AP) -- The Howard Hughes biopic ``The Aviator,'' claimed another top prize at the Producers Guild of America awards. . . The Stanley Kramer award, named for the producer who often tackled social issues, went to two productions: ``Hotel Rwanda'' the real-life tale of an innkeeper sheltering refugees from genocide, and ``Innocent Voices,'' a fictionalized version of one boy's experience during the Salvadoran civil war. www.producersguild.org
AP 23 Jan 2005 U.S., Europe split on Darfur trials The United States is rejecting European proposals urging that the International Criminal Court prosecute Sudanese responsible for war crimes in the Darfur region of that country. Instead, the administration is pushing for a tribunal run by Africans, perhaps making use of the facility in Tanzania where trials growing out of the Rwanda genocide are taking place, a senior official said. The official, asking not to be identified, also said a U.N. commission examining the Darfur situation is not expected to classify the humanitarian crisis there as genocide. The commission likely will use language such as "grievous war crimes" or similar wording to describe the nearly two-year campaign by government-backed Arab militias against black African farmers in Darfur. In September, Secretary of State Colin Powell concluded that the abuses in Darfur constituted genocide. His finding was based on interviews by U.S. diplomats with hundreds of Darfur residents who have been uprooted from their homes. The Bush administration is eager for perpetrators of the abuses to be tried by a war crimes tribunal but strongly opposes the ICC as the venue. "I think our position on the International Criminal Court is well-known, so I won't bother to go into it any further here," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Friday. "We do believe that there needs to be accountability and that we will work with others to find the best possible solution to ensuring accountability," he said. The dispute with Europe over the ICC constitutes a point of friction between the U.S. and Europe as U.S. President George W. Bush seeks to mend relations with the continent early in his second term. The administration argues that the ICC could be used for frivolous or politically motivated prosecution of American troops. It has systemically opposed any proposal that would enhance the international standing of the ICC. The European proposal for the ICC to try the Darfur perpetrators has the backing of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
www.usnewswire.com 23 Jan 2005 The Day George McGovern Bombed Auschwitz: Event on Capitol Hill to Mark 60th Anniversary of Liberation 1/23/2005 1:34:00 PM To: Assignment Desk, Daybook Editor Contact: Rafael Medoff of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, 215-635-5622 or email@example.com News Advisory: Former presidential candidate George McGovern will speak for the first time in public about his experiences as a bomber pilot who flew over Auschwitz in 1944, when he appears in an exclusive film interview to be shown on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, January 25. In the film interview, which was conducted last month at his home in South Dakota, McGovern speaks about why he should have been instructed to bomb the death camps; the Roosevelt administration's knowledge of the Nazi genocide and failure to intervene; and his perspective on the moral obligation of the U.S. to take action against genocide abroad. The event will take place on Tuesday, January 25, in Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Independence Ave. and S. Capitol St.SW, Washington, D.C. It is co-sponsored by the Congressional Task Force Against Anti-Semitism (which was established by the House International Relations Committee) and The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. The event is being held in conjunction with other international events commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, including a special session of the United Nations on January 24 and a gathering of world leaders at Auschwitz on January 26. In addition to the McGovern film, the Capitol Hill event will include a discussion of the issue of the Allies' refusal to bomb Auschwitz, with Wyman Institute director Dr. Rafael Medoff, former U.S. Congressman Stephen J. Solarz, and Stuart Erdheim, director of a film about the bombing issue. For more information, please call Kay King of the House International Relations Committee, at 202-225-6735, or the Wyman Institute at 215-635-5622. --- ABOUT THE WYMAN INSTITUTE: The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, located on the campus of Gratz College (near Philadelphia), is a research and education institute focusing on America's response to the Holocaust.
washingtonpost.com Study: Many Blacks Cite AIDS Conspiracy Prevention Efforts Hurt, Activists Say By Darryl Fears Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, January 25, 2005; Page A02 More than 20 years after the AIDS epidemic arrived in the United States, a significant proportion of African Americans embrace the theory that government scientists created the disease to control or wipe out their communities, according to a study released today by Rand Corp. and Oregon State University. That belief markedly hurts efforts to prevent the spread of the disease among black Americans, the study's authors and activists said. African Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population, according to Census Bureau figures, yet they account for 50 percent of new HIV infections in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly half of the 500 African Americans surveyed said that HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is man-made. The study, which was supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, appears in the Feb. 1 edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. More than one-quarter said they believed that AIDS was produced in a government laboratory, and 12 percent believed it was created and spread by the CIA. A slight majority said they believe that a cure for AIDS is being withheld from the poor. Forty-four percent said people who take the new medicines for HIV are government guinea pigs, and 15 percent said AIDS is a form of genocide against black people. At the same time, 75 percent said they believe medical and public health agencies are working to stop the spread of AIDS in black communities. But the responses, which varied only slightly by age, gender, education and income level, alarmed the researchers. "As a researcher knowing that these beliefs were out there, I wasn't as surprised as people I share the study with," said Laura Bogart, a behavioral scientist for the Rand Corp., who co-authored the study with Sheryl Thorburn, associate professor in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State. "But the findings are striking, and a wake-up call to the prevention community," Bogart said. "The prevention community has not addressed conspiracy beliefs in the context of prevention. I think that a lot of people involved in prevention may not be from the community where they are trying to prevent HIV." The findings were also no surprise to Na'im Akbar, a professor of psychology at Florida State University who specializes in African American behavior. "This is not a bunch of crazy people running around saying they're out to get us," Akbar said. The belief "comes from the reality of 300 years of slavery and 100 years of post-slavery exploitation." Akbar cited the Tuskegee experiment conducted by the federal government between 1932 and 1972. In it, scientists told black men they were being treated for syphilis but actually withheld treatment so they could study the course of the disease. Today, he said, African Americans are more likely to live in communities near pollution sources, such as freeways and oil refineries, and far from health care centers. "There are a lot of indicators that our lives are not valued," Akbar said. Phill Wilson, executive director of the Black AIDS Institute in Los Angeles, said past discrimination is no longer an excuse for embracing conspiracies that allow HIV to fester. "It's a huge barrier to HIV prevention in black communities," Wilson said. "There's an issue around conspiracy theory and urban myths. Thus we have an epidemic raging out of control, and African Americans are being disproportionately impacted in every single sense." Black women made up 73 percent of new HIV cases among women in 2003, and black men represented 40 percent of new cases, according to the most recent federal figures available. Among gay men, blacks represented 30 percent of new infections, and adolescents ages 18 to 24 accounted for nearly 80 percent of new HIV cases. "The whole notion of conspiracy theories and misinformation . . . removes personal responsibility," Wilson said. "If there is this boogeyman, people say, 'Why should I use condoms? Why should I use clean needles?' And if I'm an organization, 'Why should I bother with educating my folks?' The syphilis study was real, but it happened 40 years ago, and holding on to it is killing us."
WP 19 Jan 2005 China Resolute on Tiananmen Officials Defend 1989 Assault, Play Down Death of Dissenter Zhao By Philip P. Pan Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page A12 BEIJING, Jan. 18 -- The Chinese government on Tuesday firmly defended its decision 15 years ago to order a military assault on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square and oust the Communist Party leader who objected, turning down appeals to reassess the crackdown and rehabilitate Zhao Ziyang a day after his death. "The political disturbance and the problem of Zhao himself has already passed. What happened in 1989 has reached its conclusion," Kong Quan, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, said at a regular briefing. Citing the rapid growth of the Chinese economy since the Tiananmen massacre, he added: "The past 15 years have shown China's decision was correct." Pro-democracy activists march to China's representative office in Hong Kong with portraits of Zhao Ziyang, who died Monday. (Bobby Yip -- Reuters) _____Free E-mail Newsletters_____ • Today's Headlines & Columnists See a Sample | Sign Up Now • Breaking News Alerts See a Sample | Sign Up Now Zhao, who was placed under house arrest after refusing to endorse the crackdown, died Monday at age 85 following several strokes. His death has presented the Chinese government with a dilemma, forcing it to balance the need to show respect to a man who once served as the party's top leader against the desire to avoid opening a debate about the assault on Tiananmen, in which hundreds and perhaps thousands of people were killed. The ruling Communist Party usually marks the death of senior leaders with elaborate, widely publicized memorial services, as well as official obituaries that evaluate their contributions to party and nation. But such public honors for Zhao could stir painful memories of the massacre, and the leadership appears to have decided to deny them to him. Kong said he had no information about whether the government was planning a state funeral. State television and radio refrained from reporting his death for a second day, and the capital's newspapers carried only one-sentence news items that neglected even to note Zhao's service as China's premier and party general secretary in the 1980s. "Mr. Zhao made some meaningful contributions for the country, but he made a big mistake during the incident in the spring of 1989," Chen Zuoer, an official involved in Hong Kong affairs, told reporters in Beijing. "The relevant departments of the central government will handle the arrangement of commemorative activities or a funeral with Mr. Zhao's family and relatives." Wading into a dispute brewing in Hong Kong, Chen also said it would be unconstitutional for legislators there to pass resolutions mourning Zhao. Rita Fan, the pro-Beijing legislative president, denied requests by lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung that the council observe a minute of silence in Zhao's memory and hold a debate on his contributions to Hong Kong. "Nowhere else in China can events to commemorate Mr. Zhao be held," Leung said. "Hong Kong people should not give up that right so easily." In Beijing, Zhao's family said through friends that they had not yet heard from the government about funeral arrangements and were beginning to plan a private service. The family also set up a memorial hall inside their home and opened it to the public. Security around the house was tight during the day, but by evening the atmosphere was more relaxed, and a steady stream of mourners made their way through the traditional courtyard compound where Zhao had spent the last 15 years of his life under house arrest. Beyond large red doors, elaborate wreaths of white and yellow chrysanthemums graced with black and white ribbons carrying messages of condolence lined two inner courtyards. Plainclothes officers watched as visitors pinned on white flowers and signed a guest book in one courtyard, then entered a small study brimming with memorial wreaths. One by one, the mourners stepped forward and bowed before a portrait of Zhao on the wall. Then they visited quietly with family members dressed in black. Others were prevented from paying their respects, including Bao Tong, a former aide who was the highest-ranking official jailed in the 1989 crackdown. When he, his wife and his daughter attempted to leave their apartment building, more than 20 plainclothes security agents shoved them back inside and into the elevator, family members said. Bao's 73-year-old wife, Jiang Zongcao, was pushed to the ground during the scuffle and suffered a fracture in a vertebra, relatives said. Her daughter took her to a hospital, and doctors said she would need to stay in bed at least eight weeks to recuperate. Relatives said Bao was hurt, too, spraining a wrist and a finger, but security agents would not let him see a doctor unless he removed a white flower pinned to his shirt and a black armband, traditional Chinese symbols of mourning. He refused. Researcher Zhang Jing in Beijing and special correspondent K.C. Ng in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
EU Brushes Tiananmen Aside, Gets Ready to Sell Arms Antoaneta Bezlova BEIJING, Jan 21 (IPS) - The new Chinese leadership is set to get a major boost to its legitimacy and military ambitions as British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw confirms in Beijing that the European Union is ready to lift its 15-year-old ban on arms sales to China. Straw arrived in China Thursday as Chinese leaders were making plans, under the shroud of secrecy, for the funeral of deposed Communist Party leader Zhao Ziyang who was purged for opposing the military assault on unarmed students during the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests. European countries imposed the arms embargo against China as part of their horrified reaction to the Tiananmen crackdown. Straw is scheduled to hold meetings with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing. The meetings are taking place as Beijing is preparing a tightly scripted funeral for the deposed leader in order to prevent a public show of support for his democratic cause. Zhao died in a Beijing hospital on Monday at the age of 85. Beijing fears that Zhao's funeral could trigger anti-government protests and revive demands for the rehabilitation of student democracy leaders. State television and radio have kept mum over Zhao's death while Chinese newspapers ran a 50-word report on inside pages. A massive show of public grief for a deceased leader who opposed the Tiananmen massacre could become an embarrassing event for Chinese leaders. The Chinese government claims the arms embargo imposed after the military crackdown is a ''product of the Cold War'' but displays of public dissent could indicate the opposite. Britain is the latest European country to join the efforts of France and Germany to persuade other EU members to lift the arms sanctions. Straw said last week that he expected the arms ban to be lifted, ''more likely than not'' in the next six months while Luxembourg holds the EU presidency. Britain will take over the presidency from Luxembourg in the second half of the year. In the meantime, the United States has waged an intense behind-the-scenes battle to dissuade the EU from lifting the ban. The White House has warned Britain that it would not tolerate the prospect of European military technology being used to threaten U.S. soldiers in their missions in the Far East. Washington remains unconvinced that Beijing has made enough progress on human rights issues and cites widespread imprisonment and torture of political and religious dissidents. In a report released this month, Human Rights Watch said that despite some progress in recent years China remains a ''highly repressive state''. More significantly, Washington is worried about the possibility of China fulfilling its potential to become a military superpower by purchasing state-of-the-art equipment and technology, which could be used in its forceful campaign to reunify Taiwan with the mainland. Because of Beijing's hostility with Taipei, the Taiwan Strait remains one of the world's flashpoints. Under the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States is obliged to defend the island if China attacks it. In March, China's legislators are going to debate a new ''anti-secession law'' that would legitimise the use of military force against the democratically ruled island. Beijing claims the arms embargo imposed after the 1989 military crackdown is anachronistic and does not tally with the blossoming relations between China and the European Union. Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan dismissed concerns that dropping the embargo would lead to sharp increase in arms purchases by China. ''Lifting the embargo will certainly not lead to massive imports of weapons because China adheres to a defensive principle in national defence,'' Kong told a regular press briefing in Beijing Thursday. However, data released last month indicated the European Union almost doubled its arms sales to China between 2002 and 2003. According to information in the EU's official journal in December, France granted 171 million euros (221 million U.S. dollars) of licenses for arms sales to China in 2003, Italy 127 million euros (164 million U.S. dollars) and Britain 112 million euros (145 million U.S. dollars) -figures well above the previous year's tallies. In statements made before his trip to China, Straw tried to allay fears by announcing that Britain will be pushing for a revised EU code of conduct on arms exports coupled with a set of measures to exchange information on weapons sales. This, he said, would mean that arms controls on China would remain as tight as it was under the embargo. ''The replacement regime would be stronger than the embargo because it has the force of law and we are going to strengthen it by ensuring that there is transparency among EU partners ... not just on denials but also approvals,'' Straw was quoted as saying last week. But the United States is deeply sceptical of such assurances. Earlier this month the Bush administration imposed penalties against some of China's largest companies for aiding Iran's efforts to improve its ballistic missiles. U.S. officials found Chinese companies guilty despite repeated vows by Beijing to curb its sales of missile technology. The U.S. is not the only country with strategic concerns about the lifting of the embargo. Japan, too, is nervous. Before Straw arrived in Beijing, his counterpart in Tokyo, Nobutaka Machimira, told him Japan was firmly opposed to the controversial move. Apart from watching nervously Beijing's military ambitions, Tokyo is worried that a confrontation between the United States and China over Taiwan would certainly draw Japan into the conflict.
Asia Times 21 Jan 2005 atimes.com Political hero Zhao's 'burial' of disgrace By Feng Liang HONG KONG - The death of a political figure, particularly an acknowledged hero, often provides propagandists enormous opportunities. Not so in the case of disgraced former premier and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Zhao Ziyang, who had initiated political and economic reforms - but supported the pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square - and was revered by many. Because of Tiananmen he was taboo in life and remains so in death. In his home country his passing has been accorded but a few lines, empty words. The propaganda authorities in strict control of domestic news media in China were all a-dither when Zhao, the ousted CCP chief who was venerated by a great number of democratic sympathizers and mavericks, breathed his last in Beijing on Monday at age 85. He was ousted, reviled and made a non-person under house arrest because of his support for the peaceful Tiananmen pro-democracy protesters, later labeled "counterrevolutionary rioters". Hundreds, or maybe thousands, were killed or jailed in the bloody crackdown against them on June 4, 1989. After Zhao's death, several key dissidents were detained and prevented from paying tribute to him at his residence, where he had been under house arrest since the Tiananmen protests. Further, Chinese police have accelerated patrols in Tiananmen Square to prevent any gatherings of dissidents. However, it is unlikely the death of Zhao will trigger another massive movement like the Tiananmen protests. Many young people are not old enough to remember the demonstrations and killings shown on global television; many believe that China's current leader, Hu Jintao, is a mild reformer who "puts people first", and hence they are unlikely to create urban disturbances in a China that is advancing at a breakneck pace. Dreading that the death of Him Who Should Not Be Reported might be a political bombshell, and even trigger a backlash among democrats, Beijing is playing down the mournful news. Zhao was CCP general secretary and the nation's supreme leader until he was censured and then deposed when he voiced support for the mass student-led democracy demonstration on June 4, 1989, and deplored the bloody military suppression, infamously known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre. The decision to open fire on peaceful protesters was made by the Communist Party Central Caucus, including commander-in-chief Deng Xiaoping. During the peaceful protest parade, thousands of unarmed people, largely college students, rallied in Tiananmen Square before the central government buildings and cried out for democracy and freedom and against official corruption. Ever since, Zhao Ziyang had been divested of all power and condemned to house arrest. Two hours after his death, the official Xinhua News Agency broke the news tersely on its website: "Zhao suffered a variety of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. His health condition kept going downhill in spite of long-term hospitalization. He died after rescue efforts failed." Chinese Central Television (CCTV), the state-sponsored national channel network, even skipped all mention in its routine 7pm news program on Monday. In the couple of days that followed, a few regional news media in southern China's Guangdong province reprinted the barest mention from Xinhua but not in a prominent position in the newspapers. While some CCTV anchors wore black, as if to pay symbolic condolences to the departed leader, other newsreaders did not seem disturbed at all. Analysts say the propaganda authorities are working hard to minimize the impact that Zhao’s death may have on the society. For years, the Chinese central government kept the democratic-minded ex-president under the heaviest of wraps, giving him no exposure. Only very recently did the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs break the silence, confirming a widespread overseas report that Zhao was severely ill and being hospitalized. In fact, Zhao had been a marked man by propaganda authorities, a taboo name for news reports since his downfall, Asia Times Online learned from a knowledgeable source well connected with CCTV. Under China's current propaganda and media policy, journalists must follow two rules in covering some sensitive topics, such as the 1989 student movement and the decade-long devastation of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966-76) initiated by the country's founding father, Mao Zedong. First, reports concerning sensitive topics must be consistent with the current line of the central government, the facts must be carefully sourced, and the comments well-grounded. Second - and possibly more important - daily news reports must try to avoid sensitive issues if at all possible. For instance, the CCTV management asks its working staff to keep an eye out for the politically sensitive faces - those who may not be currently in favor. These should not been shown, though these faces of intended non-persons can be exceptionally difficult to spot amid the background of other faces. Over the past two decades, propaganda authorities have been firmly convinced that some foreign news media exploit wide coverage of sensitive incidents to "fling mud at" China. In particular, old newsreel footage about the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, which some principled journalists risked their lives to shoot on the scene, is still replayed abroad from time to time, and it indeed has discredited China. Therefore, media censors are ordered to keep their eyes peeled for any offensive images or messages when introducing new or foreign TV programs. In 2002, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television promulgated the Provisional Regulations Concerning the Punishment on Propaganda Disciplinary Offenses by Radio and TV Broadcasting Staff. Under the regulation, the official mouthpieces must obey the central government in processing stories about sensitive figures, and those who committed political blunders - or perceived blunders - should be deleted in word or image from the official record. This is what happened to Zhao, even in death, though some say he may prove to be more powerful in death than in life. Together with Zhao Ziyang, former CCP chairman Hua Guofeng, late party vice chairman Lin Biao, the notorious Gang of Four linked with the Cultural Revolution (namely Mao's wife Madame Jiang Qing, CCP ex-vice chairman Wang Hongwen, previous Politburo member Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan), as well as dozens of other discredited and corrupt officials and party cadres are also blacklisted and their names taboo. Some experts in Chinese history argue that it does Zhao Ziyang - and the Chinese nation and Communist Party - a grave injustice to place the former leader, in effect, on the same blacklist with Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. In 1970, Marshal Lin Biao allegedly contrived a usurpation plot to assassinate Mao; Lin failed and, in 1971, he died in an air crash during his attempt to flee to the Soviet Union. The Gang of Four, masters of soft coup d'etat, exploited Mao's trust in launching the Cultural Revolution, and even trumped up charges against party leaders including Deng Xiaoping and the second state chairman Liu Shaoqi. Liu was expelled from the CCP and persecuted to death by the Gang of Four - he finally was rehabilitated during the Deng administration. Compared with those notorious figures who brought death, disgrace and harm to so many, Zhao Ziyang did not deserve - in life or in death - such treatment for not toeing the party line.
NYT 22 Jan 2005 For Beijing Students Now, Protests Aren't Even a Memory By JIM YARDLEY EIJING, Jan. 21 - For Yu Yang, a mop-haired biology major, the small notice posted this week on Beijing University's Web site about the death of a former Communist Party leader seemed like an irrelevant historical footnote. Growing up, Mr. Yu, now 21, barely knew about Zhao Ziyang, except that he had "played a prominent role in 1989." And Mr. Yu acknowledged Thursday that he barely knew about 1989. He knew students had protested at Tiananmen Square; he had heard that Chinese soldiers fired into the crowds to end the demonstrations. But Mr. Yu, an aspiring scientist, described that as hearsay. "Rumors say so," he said of a bloody crackdown witnessed by a worldwide television audience outside China, "but I need a lot of evidence to believe it." If the Chinese government can help it, he may never see that evidence. For years, the Communist Party has awaited Mr. Zhao's death with trepidation, fearing protests or riots. Purged for sympathizing with the students, then placed under house arrest in Beijing for almost 16 years, Mr. Zhao became a martyr to a generation of Chinese for whom Tiananmen remains an indelible scar. But for many younger Chinese, who did not witness those events, he is a virtual nonentity, banished from history books and the state-controlled news media. At Beijing University, a focal point of political dissent in 1989, his death scarcely seemed to register with the generation of students who were children when the massacre happened. Some, like Mr. Yu, were simply ill informed, knowing about it only in vague, often inaccurate, terms. Others, frightened, knew they should change the subject. Asked if any event in the news had seemed significant this week, one student standing in the doorway of his room replied, "You mean the Australian Open?" When his visitor gave him a quizzical look, the student smiled almost imperceptibly. "Oh, you mean Zhao," he said. The government's deep concern about the lingering anger over Tiananmen - and the potential that it could still be the match that lights new protests - explains the official response since Mr. Zhao died Monday. Dissidents were quickly placed under surveillance or, in some cases, under house arrest. The Chinese media were banned from covering his death, other than a small mention in state-controlled newspapers. At elite universities in Beijing, security was increased, and faculty members were initially told to monitor their students to protect against demonstrations. Jiao Guobiao, an outspoken journalism teacher at Beijing University, said political speech was already tightly monitored long before Mr. Zhao's death, a fact that influenced the muted response by students. "It's not that they don't care," Mr. Jiao said. "It's that they don't dare care. Any student who shows a concern for politics will be discriminated against. They will be sidelined, so they learn over time not to express opinions about political subjects like this." Mr. Jiao himself is a telling example. Last year, he wrote a scathing indictment of the government's propaganda department. Since then, he has remained on the faculty but not been allowed to teach. Meanwhile, a popular chat room run by Beijing University students was closed last year after the postings became increasingly political and often critical of the government. Roger Jie, 21, a junior, laughed when asked if politics played a major role in campus life. "Very nonpolitical," he said. "Neutralized, in fact, pretty neutral. Students are used to not talking about it." Mr. Jie, who grew up in Guangzhou, said Tiananmen was rarely discussed at his high school. Instead, he learned about it from a program on an uncensored Hong Kong television station. "The pictures were really brutal," he recalled. Now, he said, the passage of time and economic progress in China have made Tiananmen seem less relevant to his life. "It was long ago, and there hasn't been much news about Zhao for 10 years or longer," he said. Asked if he now felt free in China, Mr. Jie paused for a moment. "To a degree, it is free enough for me," he said, even as he insisted on using his English-language name. Xu Youyu, a liberal political theorist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the government blackout of information about Tiananmen meant that many younger people were ignorant about what happened in 1989. "For this generation, it is not so important," he said. "They know very little or nothing about it." In interviews with about a dozen students at a men's undergraduate dorm, several were not aware that Mr. Zhao had been general secretary of the Communist Party or that he had been under house arrest since being purged in 1989. Other students offered a softer gloss on the government's role in the crackdown. "Many people left safely," explained a 21-year-old student from Anhui Province who asked not to be identified. Did the soldiers fire on the students? "It's really not clear," the student continued. "I heard the soldiers fired back when they were attacked." His friend chimed in. "I don't care too much about politics," he said. What does he care about? "Soccer," he answered. In another room, four students - none willing to be identified - played video games. One student, who is majoring in Chinese history, said college students had access to information on the Internet that was not available to most Chinese and were aware of the problems here. But he thought that too much freedom of speech, too fast, was not a good thing. "We need to phase in freedom of speech step by step," he said. "Not overnight." His friend added. "Overnight is like a revolution. Step by step is evolution. We oppose revolution." On a different floor, a student who gave only his surname, Lei, watched music videos on his computer with a female friend. Mr. Lei, 22, said Mr. Zhao's death had had little impact on campus. He said he knew that historical events described on state television were often twisted or false. "We listen, and it's all good things," he said. He switched off the music video on his computer and punched up something else from his hard drive: a bootleg documentary on the Tiananmen protests. He said the Internet was the primary source of information on the protests for students. But if he was interested in the truth about Tiananmen, Mr. Lei said he questioned the broad idea of Western democracy for China. "This country has too many people," he said, echoing a line often repeated by government officials. "It's hard to manage, and it may not be a great idea to practice Western democracy. It may cause chaos." Mr. Lei's friend, visiting from another university, stood quietly nearby. Asked about Mr. Zhao and 1989, she blushed. "I don't know who he is," she said. "I've never heard of him." Nor had she ever heard of the Tiananmen protests.
Xinhua 22 Jan 2005 Nanjing Massacre survivor wins lawsuit against Japanese writer too late www.chinaview.cn 2005-01-22 00:25:12 NANJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- The Supreme Court of Japan upheld Thursday a prior verdict where Nanjing Massacre survivor, Li Xiuying, successfully sued a right-wing Japanese writer for defamation. Five judges rejected the appeal of Matsumura Toshio and maintained the previous verdict of the Supreme Court of Tokyo. The verdict declares that Toshio will pay Li 1.5 million yen, saidLi's lawyer, Watanabe Harumi, in a telegraph to the museum commemorating victims of the Nanjing Massacre, Friday. Li passed away before the decision was made, on December 4 in 2004. "It's a late judgment," said Li's daughter Lu Qi, "my mother did not live long enough to see this day." "When we get the judgment paper, we nine sisters and brothers will take it to my mother's tomb to comfort her soul at rest," Lu said. "The lawsuit is not a personal feud, but a battle for justice. The right-wing Japanese should face history and stop denying the war crimes," said Zhu Chengshan, a researcher with the museum commemorating victims of the Nanjing Massacre. Li made her name known throughout China for her courage and perseverance, as she stood up against the writer who called her a "false" war witness in his book: "The Big Question in the Nanjing Massacre." The Supreme Court of Tokyo gave the verdict in May 2002 that Toshio should compensate Li 1.5 million yen, but did not support Li's appeal for a public apology. Both parties were not satisfied and appealed. The court upheld the verdict in the second trial in April 2003. In December 1937, 300,000 Chinese civilians were brutally killed by Japanese invaders after the fall of Nanjing, the then capital of the Kuomintang government. Li Xiuying was pregnant at the time and suffered 37 stabs from Japanese soldiers. Thanks to timely medical treatment by an American doctor named Robert Wilson, Li survived, but lost her baby. The crime perpetrated against Li was recorded at the time in a documentary made by American priest John Magee and "The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe," as well as in the diaries, letters of some other Western witnesses of the massacre.
BBC 23 Jan 2005 Deadlock over Zhao funeral plans By Francis Markus BBC News, Shanghai Zhao is mourned relatively openly in Hong Kong - but not in China Planning for the funeral of China's disgraced former Communist party leader is reported to be in deadlock. Zhao Ziyang, who died on Monday after 15 years under house arrest, was sacked after opposing the suppression of pro-democracy protests in June 1989. Sources in Mr Zhao's family say there is still no agreement about what his funeral oration should say. Meanwhile there are reports that a former Tiananmen protester who planned a march to mourn him has been detained. It has been nearly a week since Zhao Ziyang died in a Beijing hospital. But there has been no sign yet that the fraught arguments over the 85-year-old's funeral arrangements have been resolved. It is not just a matter of wreaths and seating plans. What goes into the eulogy of the man who tearfully opposed the army's 1989 suppression of the Tiananmen protests goes to the heart of the Communist party's claim to legitimacy. China's leadership needs to strike a delicate balance. It is adamant that there will be no reversal of the verdict on the Tiananmen clampdown but it is also wary of inflaming people's feelings by seeming to pay Mr Zhao insufficient honour. So far the authorities have kept a tight lid on media coverage and an even warier eye out for any signs of the protest which has flared up after popular leaders' deaths in the past. Sources say a former Tiananmen protester, Zhao Xin, has been detained after he sought permission to stage a march mourning Mr Zhao. However, the leadership can probably be reasonably confident that the change of generation during Mr Zhao's 15 years of house arrest has made him increasingly irrelevant to the lives of today's Chinese students.
Indian panel says Gujarat train fire accidental 17 Jan 2005 13:06:52 GMT Source: Reuters NEW DELHI, Jan 17 (Reuters) - The burning of a train that triggered India's worst religious riots in a decade was caused by an "accidental fire" and not by a suspected Muslim mob as first charged, a government investigation said on Monday. Fifty-nine Hindu pilgrims, including women and children, died when a carriage caught alight in Gujarat state in February, 2002, an incident blamed on a Muslim mob and which triggered the revenge slaughter of more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. Human rights groups put the death toll at more than 2,500. The communist-backed coalition that ousted India's Hindu-nationalist government last May set up a panel to probe the incident because of doubts over the real cause of the fire. The finding is a blow to the Hindu-nationalist government that still rules Gujarat. It was widely accused of turning a blind eye to the reprisal killings, something it denies. "There has been a preponderance of evidence that the fire originated in the coach itself without any external input," the government said in a statement after the report was released. The government is still awaiting the findings of a separate investigation by a panel of judges into the train fire and the subsequent riots. The state government and police had accused a Muslim mob of torching the train and charged more than 100 Muslims. No one has yet been convicted over the train fire and only a handful of people have been convicted over the riots. "With the elimination of the 'petrol theory', 'miscreant activity theory' as well as the ruling out of any possibility of 'electrical fire', the fire... can at this stage be ascribed as an accidental fire," the investigation panel said. The panel was led by a judge and included rail safety experts. In an interim report, the panel also scotched suggestions an inflammable liquid had been used from outside, saying there was evidence cooking inside the train may have caused the fire. The panel's conclusions were based on documentary evidence and witness statements. The panel is expected to submit its final report to the government in the next two months.
Inquiry rules India train fire accidental New Delhi, India, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- An Indian government inquiry ruled Monday a 2002 train fire that killed 60 people and triggered religious riots was started onboard by accident, the BBC said. Within minutes of the accident in Godhra in Gujarat state, rumors flew that a Muslim mob had thrown gasoline bombs at the train, carrying mainly Hindus. That set off days of rioting in which nearly 1,000 Muslims were killed. "With the elimination of the petrol theory, miscreant activity theory as well as the ruling out of any possibility of electrical fire, the fire in S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express can at this stage be ascribed as an accidental fire," the Press Trust of India quoted the report saying. Retired Supreme Court Judge Umesh Chandra Banerjee, who led the inquiry, dismissed suggestions gas bombs had been thrown since witnesses said people were cooking in the carriage at the time it caught fire.
Deadly train fire which sparked Gujarat riots accidental: government 01-17-2005, 12h11 Sebastian D'Souza - (AFP/File) NEW DELHI (AFP) - A train fire that killed 59 Hindu pilgrims, setting off deadly sectarian riots in Gujarat state in 2002, was an accident and not caused by a Muslim mob as originally alleged, an Indian government investigation concluded. The four-member committee appointed to investigate the fire said it probably started inside the coach "without any external input". "There has been a preponderance of evidence that the fire in coach number S6 originated in the coach itself without any external input," said retired Supreme Court judge U.C. Bannerjee, who headed the committee. "Moreover the possibility of an inflammable liquid having been used is completely ruled out as there was first a smell of burning, followed by then smoke and flames thereafter," he added. "On the basis of the available evidence, the committee has found it unbelievable that Kar Sevaks (Hindu pilgrims) armed with Trishuls (tridents) would allow to get themselves burned without a murmur." About 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, died in rioting and bloody reprisals after the train fire on February 27, 2002. Railways Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav, who came to office in May as part of a coalition government led by the Congress Party -- which won support from Muslim voters -- set up the committee in July. It made at least two trips to the Gujarat town of Godhra, where the compartment caught fire. A Muslim mob had previously been alleged to have started the fire. Gujarat's Hindu nationalist administration has been accused by several domestic and foreign human rights groups of turning a blind eye to the riots and in some cases helping the trouble-makers. The previous Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party-led federal government was also seen as a passive bystander to the riots.
AFP 18 Jan 2005 Hindu nationalists slam report clearing Muslims in train fire NEW DELHI: India’s Hindu nationalists on Tuesday denounced an official report clearing a Muslim mob of involvement in a 2002 train fire in Gujarat state, which killed 59 Hindus and sparked deadly religious riots. “It’s a predictable mockery,” said Ashok Singhal, leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad or World Hindu Council, branding the report into one of the worst bouts of communal violence in India’s post-independence history “politically motivated.” The Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which was turfed from power in national elections in May 2004 but still rules Gujarat, called the report a “political stunt” before key elections in Bihar, where Muslims form an important vote bank, and in two other states. Fifty-nine Hindus, many of them pilgrims, died when a fire raced through a train carriage at Godhra in February 2002. Police and state authorities blamed the blaze on a Muslim mob, triggering an orgy of revenge in which at least 2,000 people, mostly Muslims, were hacked, burnt or shot to death in Gujarat. Political analysts said the release of the report, a month before the Bihar state elections, might be suspect. But its findings that the fire was accidental were a blow to the BJP, which was widely accused of turning a blind eye to the bloodshed - charges it rejects. The report by retired Supreme Court justice U.C. Bannerjee said “there has been a preponderance of evidence that the fire in coach number S6 originated in the coach itself without any external input.” The blaze can be “at this stage be ascribed as an accidental fire,” said the panel, which included rail safety experts. Its final report is due in the next couple of months. “We’ve been maintaining from day one the train was not burnt from the outside,” said veteran human rights activist Father Cedric Prakash in a telephone interview from Gujarat’s main city, Ahmedabad, scene of some of the worst bloodshed. “They had no business slaughtering innocent people.” The commission was set up by India’s Railways Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, an ally of the new Congress government whose power base is Bihar. One of the country’s most colourful politicians, his regional Rashtriya Janata Dal party is locked in battle with the Samata or socialist party of Bihar-based former railway minister Nitish Kumar. The Samata party is a BJP ally. Yadav styles himself as a defender of lower castes and the Muslims, who make up around 15 percent of the electorate in the eastern state of Bihar. “It will certainly reinforce Yadav’s reputation’s as a defender of justice,” said Mahesh Rangarajan, who teaches politics at Cornell University in the United States. The Muslims will think Yadav “is nailing the people who were falsely accused.” Newspapers also saw a political motive in the timing of the report. “Laloo brings Godhra fire on election frontburner,” said The Indian Express in a banner headline. The state government and police accused a Muslim mob on the platform of setting the train alight. Some 104 Muslims face charges but there have been no convictions.
BBC 22 Jan 2005 Soap opera fighting to save baby girls By Jane Elliott BBC News Health Reporter Using TV to change opinions In some parts of India there are so few women that men are having to look away from home to secure a bride. In the worst affected state of the Punjab there are fewer than eight girls to ten boys. Experts blame the outlawed practice of female foeticide (aborting female babies) for the skewed male/female ratio and say that almost a million girl foetuses have been killed because culture and tradition state that boy babies are preferable. In India, girls can be viewed as a burden, not least because many still believe a family must provide a dowry for their daughter's marriage - even though this practice is now illegal. There is also a widespread belief that the family is continued through the male line and an interpretation of Hinduism that says the father's last rites must be carried out by his son. Experts say sex determination scans are easy to get, even in the remotest villages and that, unless the trend is reversed, another 70 million girl foetuses could be aborted over the next two decades. Tests This is why the international charity Plan teamed up with the Indian Government with financial backing from the Edward Greene charity, to produce a soap opera 'Atmajaa' (Born from the Soul) to highlight the problems and to try and change opinion. They felt that using a Bollywood style soap, rather than a lack-lustre government warning, would reach a wider audience and start the process of change. They say that female foeticide is so widespread in some interior villages of Punjab and Haryana that the mobile sex determination scan is more easily available than a clean water supply Sameer Sah The 13 part series looks at the laws surrounding pre-natal diagnostic tests (the Indian government banned the misuse of this test in 1994), gender, poverty, anti-dowry laws, violence against women and the problems that can occur if there are too few women. The soap's central character is Mamta, who is forced into a premature Caesarean when her middle-class family discover that she is carrying a girl. They hope that the operation will cause the baby to die, but Mamta bribes the doctor to take her to an orphanage if she lives. Ratio When her husband pushes her to have a second sex detection test she leaves him. Sharon Goulds, of Plan, said that using a soap opera style would get the issue across to a wider audience. "According to the series director it is the first time that a soap opera has been used in this way but in a culture where film and TV, and film and TV stars, is extremely influential it is a very effective way of getting the message across." Her colleague Sameer Sah, who was based with Plan India, but now works in the UK, said there is great cause for concern about the female/male ratio in India which is dropping rapidly. In 1991 there were 945 female to 1,000 males by 2001 that was just 927. "If we calculate the ratios, there are a million girls who were killed in the womb because of the preference for girls. The Punjab has one of the worst ratios of 793 females to 1,000 males. "They say that female foeticide is so widespread in some interior villages of Punjab and Haryana that the mobile sex determination scan is more easily available than a clean water supply. "It is a very male dominated society." Mr Sah said that the problem was often most rife amongst the richer elements of society. The Indian Medical Association is urging international colleagues at the World Medical Association to support a campaign against female foeticide and female infanticide to rid India of what it calls "this social evil". Ultrasounds can seal the fate of female foetuses Dr Saarda Jain, from the IMA, based in New Delhi, said that although the practice of female foeticide was banned in practice that it was still flourishing in certain areas. "We condemn female foeticide as a crime. We are aggressively against it. But when all is said and done it is still being carried out. "When it comes to reality you find that there are many quacks still going round with their machines doing terminations. "There are black sheep in our profession as well. I think it is a great problem for us, despite all the laws of the land. "You find that the statute is not making much difference and even the educated and elite are having female foeticides done." Indians hope the film will start to change opinions. Arundhuti, who is a 25-year-old housewife with one son said: "I wish my mother-in-law could see this film. Anyway now I have got a little strength to protest if this happens to me." Neha Masti, a 34-year-old housewife with two sons, agreed that the soap had changed her view on the practice: "We never thought that aborting female foetuses was a crime. "I thought it was something very common......this film made me realise about the seriousness of killing female foetuses. "Surprisingly, I did not know about the law at all. " Santosh Kumar Singh, a 31-year-old father of a boy and girl said it had changed his attitudes on the issue. "Being a husband, at times we don't understand our wives. This film made me understand never to force wives for such things. I need to discuss it with her."
PTI 22 Jan 2005 Mann criticises CEC's warning to politicians: [India News]: New Delhi, Jan 22 : The Chief Election Commissioner's warning to politicians on "communalising" electoral politics has drawn flak from hardline Akali leader Simranjit Singh Mann who today said the Commission wanted to silence the voice of politicians. "Genocide, rape, murder, illegal detentions, torture and mayhem practised by the Congress or BJP must become election isues. There is nothing communal," SAD (Amitsar) President Mann said in a memorandum to the Chief Election Commissioner. "Tomorrow orders will go out from you that no politician can talk of the genocide practiced on Sikh people in 1984..," Mann said in the memorandum. Mann also demanded action against National Minorities Commission Chairman Tarlochan Singh for campaigning for INLD in Haryana. It is a misuse of a constitutional office as besides being the Chairman of the Minorities Commission, he is also a Rajya Sabha MP, Mann said, adding as NCM chief, Singh had earlier supported Uma Bharti's 'Tiranga yatra.' Mann also said in the memorandum that as byelections were also scheduled in Ajnala in Punjab, a controversial officer as S S Virk should not be posted as the DGP and attached a copy of the letter he had earlier submitted to the Home Minister.
Pacific News Service 19 Jan 2005 news.pacificnews.org/news Wolfowitz Visited Indonesia For Closer Military Ties, Not Tsunami Relief Commentary, Joseph Nevins, Pacific News Service, Jan 19, 2005 Editor's Note: Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has a long history of pushing for closer ties between the United States and the Indonesian military, even as Indonesian forces were committing massive human rights violations. Paul Wolfowitz, the Bush administration's deputy defense secretary, has just visited tsunami-stricken Indonesia under a humanitarian guise. But the mission's real significance lies in his effort to strengthen U.S. ties with Indonesia's brutal military (TNI), a role that he has long played. Wolfowitz, right, with Indonesian Minister of Defense Matori Abdul Djalil in Singapore, May 2003. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore. Wolfowitz served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs from 1982 to 1986, and as ambassador to Indonesia during the Reagan administration's final three years. He was the primary architect of U.S. policy toward the resource-rich country in the 1980s. During his tenure, U.S. support for the TNI peaked despite, among many crimes, the military's illegal occupation of East Timor, which resulted in the deaths of over 200,000 people. Since then -- through involvement in the corporate-funded U.S.-Indonesia Society and various positions in academia and the executive branch -- Wolfowitz has continued to exert influence on Washington's relations with Jakarta. Throughout, he has championed policies that undermine democracy and human rights in the sprawling archipelago, a country with the world's largest Muslim population. Following the TNI's massacre of hundreds of peaceful pro-independence demonstrators in East Timor's capital in November 1991, for example, U.S. support for the TNI came under strong attack in Congress, eventually leading to some limits on military ties. While a United Nations Human Rights Commission investigation characterized the massacre as "a planned military operation," Indonesia presented it as an unfortunate incident caused by a few rogue soldiers. To give weight to this lie, Jakarta tried and sentenced a few low-ranking military officers to prison terms of 18 months or less for disobeying orders, and relieved the two top commanders, sending them abroad for university study. Wolfowitz later cited Jakarta's accountability charade as an example of Indonesia's many "achievements" over the previous several years in testimony to a congressional subcommittee in 1997. And despite a growing international consensus critical of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, he argued against any talk in Washington of East Timorese independence, while calling for a renewal of U.S. military training of the TNI. In his written statement to the subcommittee, Wolfowitz praised Indonesia's dictator, Suharto, who seized power in 1965-66 through a slaughter of hundreds of thousands. "Any balanced judgment" of the country's human rights situation, he opined, "needs to take account of the significant progress that Indonesia has already made." Much of the progress, he asserted, was due to Suharto's "strong and remarkable leadership." In 1998, massive protests led Asia's longest-reigning dictator to step down. Wolfowitz quickly changed his tune, characterizing Suharto in an interview as someone who "without any question was fighting reform every step of the way." Yet, he continued to defend the Indonesian military as a force for good. Even in early 1999, when it looked as if Indonesia might consider leaving East Timor, Wolfowitz argued against U.S. policies promoting such a scenario. Employing language long utilized by Jakarta, he predicted that if Indonesia were to withdraw, East Timor, due to tribal and clan-based tensions, would descend into civil war. Only the TNI had prevented such an outcome, according to Wolfowitz. Several months later, East Timor overwhelmingly opted for independence in a U.N.-run ballot. In response, the TNI and its militia proxies killed many hundreds of civilians, while raping untold numbers of women and girls and destroying almost all the territory's buildings and infrastructure before finally pulling out. The resulting public outrage led Congress to significantly weaken military ties with Jakarta -- a situation the Bush administration is eager to reverse. The tragedy in Indonesia -- particularly in the Aceh region, where the tsunami killed over 150,000 and a long-standing war for independence is occurring -- has provided the administration with an opportunity to re-establish military links. In Jakarta on Jan. 16, Wolfowitz claimed that weak ties with the TNI exacerbate Indonesia's problems, and that the way to promote the TNI's efforts to make itself more professional and accountable is to increase U.S. military sales and training. But there is no evidence that the TNI has changed or is willing to do so. Human rights groups report continuing widespread military atrocities -- especially in Aceh and West Papua. Meanwhile, Jakarta has not held any political or military personnel responsible for the myriad crimes committed in East Timor or elsewhere. As before, Paul Wolfowitz's recipe for U.S.-Indonesia relations will not bring about democratic reform, but will only make Washington complicit in the TNI's war crimes and crimes against humanity. PNS contributor Joseph Nevins is an assistant professor of geography at Vassar College. Cornell University Press will release his latest book, "A Not-So-Distant Horror: Mass Violence in East Timor," in May.
BBC 20 Jan 2005 Indonesia says Aceh rebels killed By Rachel Harvey BBC News, Aceh Gam and the army had both pledged to observe a ceasefire Indonesia's armed forces have killed 120 separatist rebels of the Free Aceh Movement (Gam) in the last two weeks, the army chief of staff has said. General Ryamizard Ryacudu said troops were forced to take action because rebels were stealing aid meant for tsunami victims. Security forces launched a major campaign against Gam in May 2003 after the collapse of a peace process. But after the tsunami the two sides both claimed to have ceased operations. The rebels said such claims by General Ryacudu was black propaganda. "Why would we steal from our own people?" asked one rebel commander who was contacted by the BBC. ACEH: KEY FACTS Province on the north-western tip of Sumatra Higher percentage of Muslims than other parts of Indonesia Gam rebels have fought decades-long separatist campaign Internationally-brokered peace deal brokered in Dec 02 but collapsed in May 03 Year-long military crackdown weakened Gam, but failed to capture senior members Jakarta's chance for change Aceh's Gam separatists There is no way of independently verifying the number of rebels the general says his men have killed. But the figure seems high, given that there have been no reports of major battles since the earthquake and tsunami struck - only occasional skirmishes. But General Ryacudu is known for his hardline views and the timing of his latest comments is significant. On Wednesday, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said it hoped it would be possible to arrange ceasefire talks with the rebels before the end of the month. General Ryacudu appears to think such talk is premature. As long as the rebels still carry weapons this problem will not end, he said. Peace can only be achieved if they give up their fight for independence. After almost three decades of struggle, that seems highly unlikely. The good news is that so far security concerns do not appear to be hindering the massive relief effort in Aceh. International aid agencies say they are getting help to where it is needed most.
AFP 23 Jan 2005 US tsunami aid efforts fail to win over angry Muslims AFP: 1/23/2005 JAKARTA, Jan 23 (AFP) - With US helicopters dropping noodles instead of bombs and soldiers carrying rice rather than guns, the United States was confident its enormous efforts to help Asian tsunami victims would boost its tattered image in the Muslim world. But nearly a month into the campaign, US President George W. Bush's bold predictions of a post-tsunami detente with disaffected Muslims appear as likely as immediate peace in Iraq or a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "In general, many people here still maintain suspicions about America," Din Syamsuddin, the secretary general of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas, the nation's highest Islamic authority, told AFP. "Muslims here are not stupid and I don't think they will immediately change their perception just because the US is providing millions of dollars in aid for Aceh." A great deal of the US military's aid efforts have focused on Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation and the worst hit by the December 26 tsunamis with more than 166,000 deaths in Aceh province. Seahawk and Chinook helicopters have saved many lives by delivering water and other emergency relief supplies to isolated communities along Aceh's west coast and bringing injured survivors back for medical treatment. The helicopter missions have been the most high-profile components of the US operations, with television footage of desperate survivors gratefully accepting the aid being broadcast around the world. With 90 aircraft, 18 ships and almost 13,000 military personnel deployed to help tsunami-affected nations, the operation has been one of the United States' biggest military forays into Asia since the Vietnam War. Alongside a financial pledge of 350 million dollars, Bush said many Muslims had gained an understanding that the world's only superpower had a caring side. "In ... responding to the tsunami many in the Muslim world have seen a great compassion in the American people. Our troops are providing incredibly good service," Bush said on January 13. "We are saving lives, and flying supplies ... people are seeing the concrete actions of a compassionate country." US Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed similar sentiments a week earlier while in Indonesia as part of a tour of tsunami-hit countries. "I think it does give to the Muslim world and the rest of the world an opportunity to see American generosity, American values in action," he said. But Syamsuddin and other Muslim religious leaders, politicians, analysts and ordinary people interviewed by AFP said matters such as the US invasion of Iraq and its pro-Israel policies still far outweighed its tsunami-relief efforts. "The cruelty of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is still strongly etched in the minds of Muslims here," Syamsuddin said. "In fact, their quick response is seen here by many of us as a camouflage for their past abuses toward Muslims across the world." Najum Mushtaq, an Islamabad-based analyst working for the International Crisis Group, said it would be naive to assume the United States' image had improved because of its tsunami relief work. "The image of America in Muslim communities has become inseparably associated with Bush's team of neoconservatives and his post-9/11 ideological policies," Mushtaq said. "The other, compassionate face of America has been completely overshadowed by the right-wing administration over the last four years." In Bangladesh, Muhiuddin Ahmed, a commentator and former diplomat, said the United States' "serious image problem" remained. "Bangladeshis are seeing the United States helping the tsunami-affected people but at the same time they see America as a country that has killed many thousands of their Muslim brothers in Iraq," he said. "They will want to see more consistency in America's actions before they change views that are so deeply felt." P. Ramasamy, a political scientist at the National University of Malaysia, said he remained sceptical about the US relief operations. "I don't think it will change fundamentally how we view them, especially as they continue to massacre Iraqis and there is no sign of a Palestinian state," Ramasamy said. But Nugroho, 27, a security guard for an office building in central Jakarta, offered a glimpse of hope for US spin doctors. "After seeing how American soldiers are actually helping the Acehnese people, my attitude has changed. I used to really hate America but now I don't see all Americans as bad people," he said.
NYT January 13, 2005 BOOK REVIEW Atrocities in Plain Sight By ANDREW SULLIVAN THE ABU GHRAIB INVESTIGATIONS The Official Report of the Independent Panel and Pentagon on the Shocking Prisoner Abuse in Iraq. Edited by Steven Strasser. Illustrated. 175 pp. PublicAffairs. Paper, $14. TORTURE AND TRUTH America, Abu Ghraib, and the War on Terror. By Mark Danner. Illustrated. 580 pp. New York Review Books. Paper, $19.95. N scandals, chronology can be everything. The facts you find out first, the images that are initially imprinted on your consciousness, the details that then follow: these make the difference between a culture-changing tipping point and a weatherable media flurry. With the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the photographs, which have become iconic, created the context and the meaning of what took place. We think we know the contours of that story: a few soldiers on the night shift violated established military rules and subjected prisoners to humiliating abuse and terror. Chaos in the line of command, an overstretched military, a bewildering insurgency: all contributed to incidents that were alien to the values of the United States and its military. The scandal was an aberration. It was appalling. Responsibility was taken. Reports were issued. Hearings continue. But the photographs lied. They told us a shard of the truth. In retrospect, they deflected us away from what was really going on, and what is still going on. The problem is not a co-ordinated cover-up. Nor is it a lack of information. The official government and Red Cross reports on prisoner torture and abuse, compiled in two separate volumes, ''The Abu Ghraib Investigations,'' by a former Newsweek editor, Steven Strasser, and ''Torture and Truth,'' by a New York Review of Books contributor, Mark Danner, are almost numbingly exhaustive in their cataloging of specific mistakes, incidents and responsibilities. Danner's document-dump runs to almost 600 pages of print, the bulk of it in small type. The American Civil Liberties Union has also successfully engineered the release of what may eventually amount to hundreds of thousands of internal government documents detailing the events. That tells you something important at the start. Whatever happened was exposed in a free society; the military itself began the first inquiries. You can now read, in these pages, previously secret memorandums from sources as high as the attorney general all the way down to prisoner testimony to the International Committee of the Red Cross. I confess to finding this transparency both comforting and chilling, like the photographs that kick-started the public's awareness of the affair. Comforting because only a country that is still free would allow such airing of blood-soaked laundry. Chilling because the crimes committed strike so deeply at the core of what a free country is supposed to mean. The scandal of Abu Ghraib is therefore a sign of both freedom's endurance in America and also, in certain dark corners, its demise. The documents themselves tell the story. In this, Danner's book is by far the better of the two. He begins with passionate essays that originally appeared in The New York Review of Books, but very soon leaves the stage and lets the documents speak for themselves. His book contains the two reports Strasser publishes, but many more as well. If you read it in the order Danner provides, you can see exactly how this horror came about - and why it's still going on. As Danner observes, this is a scandal with almost everything in plain sight. The critical enabling decision was the president's insistence that prisoners in the war on terror be deemed ''unlawful combatants'' rather than prisoners of war. The arguments are theoretically sound ones - members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not party to the Geneva Convention and their own conduct violates many of its basic demands. But even at the beginning, President Bush clearly feared the consequences of so broad an exemption for cruel and inhumane treatment. So he also insisted that although prisoners were not legally eligible for humane treatment, they should be granted it anyway. The message sent was: these prisoners are beneath decent treatment, but we should still provide it. That's a strangely nuanced signal to be giving the military during wartime. You can see the same strange ambivalence in Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's decision to approve expanded interrogation techniques in December 2002 for Guantánamo inmates - and then to revoke the order six weeks later. The documents show that the president was clearly warned of the dangers of the policy he decided upon - Colin Powell's January 2002 memo is almost heart-breakingly prescient and sane in this regard - but he pressed on anyway. Rumsfeld's own revocation of the order suggests his own moral qualms about what he had unleashed. But Bush clearly leaned toward toughness. Here's the precise formulation he used: ''As a matter of policy, the United States Armed Forces shall continue to treat detainees humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva.'' (My italics.) Notice the qualifications. The president wants to stay not within the letter of the law, but within its broad principles, and in the last resort, ''military necessity'' can overrule all of it. According to his legal counsel at the time, Alberto R. Gonzales, the president's warmaking powers gave him ultimate constitutional authority to ignore any relevant laws in the conduct of the conflict. Sticking to the Geneva Convention was the exclusive prerogative of one man, George W. Bush; and he could, if he wished, make exceptions. As Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee argues in another memo: ''Any effort to apply Section 2340A in a manner that interferes with the president's direction of such core war matters as the detention and interrogation of enemy combatants thus would be unconstitutional.'' (Section 2340A refers to the United States law that incorporates the international Convention Against Torture.) The president's underlings got the mixed message. Bybee analyzed the relevant statutes against torture to see exactly how far the military could go in mistreating prisoners without blatant illegality. His answer was surprisingly expansive. He argued that all the applicable statutes and treaty obligations can be read in such a way as to define torture very narrowly. Bybee asserted that the president was within his legal rights to permit his military surrogates to inflict ''cruel, inhuman or degrading'' treatment on prisoners without violating strictures against torture. For an act of abuse to be considered torture, the abuser must be inflicting pain ''of such a high level of intensity that the pain is difficult for the subject to endure.'' If the abuser is doing this to get information and not merely for sadistic enjoyment, then ''even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions,'' he's not guilty of torture. Threatening to kill a prisoner is not torture; ''the threat must indicate that death is 'imminent.' '' Beating prisoners is not torture either. Bybee argues that a case of kicking an inmate in the stomach with military boots while the prisoner is in a kneeling position does not by itself rise to the level of torture. Bybee even suggests that full-fledged torture of inmates might be legal because it could be construed as ''self-defense,'' on the grounds that ''the threat of an impending terrorist attack threatens the lives of hundreds if not thousands of American citizens.'' By that reasoning, torture could be justified almost anywhere on the battlefield of the war on terror. Only the president's discretion forbade it. These guidelines were formally repudiated by the administration the week before Gonzales's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation as attorney general. In this context, Rumsfeld's decision to take the gloves off in Guantánamo for six weeks makes more sense. The use of dogs to intimidate prisoners and the use of nudity for humiliation were now allowed. Although abuse was specifically employed in only two cases before Rumsfeld rescinded the order, practical precedents had been set; and the broader mixed message sent from the White House clearly reached commanders in the field. Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, in charge of the Iraq counterinsurgency, also sent out several conflicting memos with regard to the treatment of prisoners - memos that only added to the confusion as to what was permitted and what wasn't. When the general in charge of Guantánamo was sent to Abu Ghraib to help intelligence gathering, the ''migration'' of techniques (the term used in the Pentagon's Schlesinger Report) from those reserved for extreme cases in the leadership of Al Qaeda to thousands of Iraqi civilians, most of whom, according to intelligence sources, were innocent of any crime at all, was complete. Again, there is no evidence of anyone at a high level directly mandating torture or abuse, except in two cases in Gitmo. But there is growing evidence recently uncovered by the A.C.L.U. - not provided in Danner's compilation - that authorities in the F.B.I. and elsewhere were aware of abuses and did little to prevent or stop them. Then there were the vast loopholes placed in the White House torture memos, the precedents at Guantánamo, the winks and nods from Washington and the pressure of an Iraqi insurgency that few knew how to restrain. It was a combustible mix. What's notable about the incidents of torture and abuse is first, their common features, and second, their geographical reach. No one has any reason to believe any longer that these incidents were restricted to one prison near Baghdad. They were everywhere: from Guantánamo Bay to Afghanistan, Baghdad, Basra, Ramadi and Tikrit and, for all we know, in any number of hidden jails affecting ''ghost detainees'' kept from the purview of the Red Cross. They were committed by the Marines, the Army, the Military Police, Navy Seals, reservists, Special Forces and on and on. The use of hooding was ubiquitous; the same goes for forced nudity, sexual humiliation and brutal beatings; there are examples of rape and electric shocks. Many of the abuses seem specifically tailored to humiliate Arabs and Muslims, where horror at being exposed in public is a deep cultural artifact. Whether random bad apples had picked up these techniques from hearsay or whether these practices represented methods authorized by commanders grappling with ambiguous directions from Washington is hard to pin down from the official reports. But it is surely significant that very few abuses occurred in what the Red Cross calls ''regular internment facilities.'' Almost all took place within prisons designed to collect intelligence, including, of course, Saddam Hussein's previous torture palace at Abu Ghraib and even the former Baathist secret police office in Basra. (Who authorized the use of these particular places for a war of liberation is another mystery.) This tells us two things: that the vast majority of soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere had nothing to do with these incidents; and that the violence had a purpose. The report of the International Committee of the Red Cross says: ''Several military intelligence officers confirmed to the I.C.R.C. that it was part of the military intelligence process to hold a person deprived of his liberty naked in a completely dark and empty cell for a prolonged period to use inhumane and degrading treatment, including physical and psychological coercion.'' An e-mail message recovered by Danner from a captain in military intelligence in August 2003 reveals the officer's desire to distinguish between genuine prisoners of war and ''unlawful combatants.'' The president, of course, had endorsed that distinction in theory, although not in practice - even in Guantánamo, let alone Iraq. Somehow Bush's nuances never made it down the chain to this captain. In the message, he asked for advice from other intelligence officers on which illegal techniques work best: a ''wish list'' for interrogators. Then he wrote: ''The gloves are coming off gentlemen regarding these detainees, Col. Boltz has made it clear that we want these individuals broken.'' How do you break these people? According to the I.C.R.C., one prisoner ''alleged that he had been hooded and cuffed with flexicuffs, threatened to be tortured and killed, urinated on, kicked in the head, lower back and groin, force-fed a baseball which was tied into the mouth using a scarf and deprived of sleep for four consecutive days. Interrogators would allegedly take turns ill-treating him. When he said he would complain to the I.C.R.C. he was allegedly beaten more. An I.C.R.C. medical examination revealed hematoma in the lower back, blood in urine, sensory loss in the right hand due to tight handcuffing with flexicuffs, and a broken rib.'' Even Bybee's very narrow definition of torture would apply in this case. Here's another - not from Abu Ghraib: A detainee ''had been hooded, handcuffed in the back, and made to lie face down, on a hot surface during transportation. This had caused severe skin burns that required three months' hospitalization. . . . He had to undergo several skin grafts, the amputation of his right index finger, and suffered . . . extensive burns over the abdomen, anterior aspects of the outer extremities, the palm of his right hand and the sole of his left foot.'' And another, in a detainee's own words: ''They threw pepper on my face and the beating started. This went on for a half hour. And then he started beating me with the chair until the chair was broken. After that they started choking me. At that time I thought I was going to die, but it's a miracle I lived. And then they started beating me again. They concentrated on beating me in my heart until they got tired from beating me. They took a little break and then they started kicking me very hard with their feet until I passed out.'' An incident uncovered by the A.C.L.U. and others was described in The Washington Post on Dec. 22. A young soldier with no training in interrogation techniques ''acknowledged forcing two men to their knees, placing bullets in their mouths, ordering them to close their eyes, and telling them they would be shot unless they answered questions about a grenade incident. He then took the bullets, and a colleague pretended to load them in the chamber of his M-16 rifle.'' These are not allegations made by antiwar journalists. They are incidents reported within the confines of the United States government. The Schlesinger panel has officially conceded, although the president has never publicly acknowledged, that American soldiers have tortured five inmates to death. Twenty-three other deaths that occurred during American custody had not been fully investigated by the time the panel issued its report in August. Some of the techniques were simply brutal, like persistent vicious beatings to unconsciousness. Others were more inventive. In April 2004, according to internal Defense Department documents recently procured by the A.C.L.U., three marines in Mahmudiya used an electric transformer, forcing a detainee to ''dance'' as the electricity coursed through him. We also now know that in Guantánamo, burning cigarettes were placed in the ears of detainees. Here's another case from the Army's investigation into Abu Ghraib, led by Lt. Gen. Anthony R. Jones and Maj. Gen. George R. Fay: ''On another occasion DETAINEE-07 was forced to lie down while M.P.'s jumped onto his back and legs. He was beaten with a broom and a chemical light was broken and poured over his body. . . . During this abuse a police stick was used to sodomize DETAINEE-07 and two female M.P.'s were hitting him, throwing a ball at his penis, and taking photographs.'' Last December, documents obtained by the A.C.L.U. also cited an F.B.I. agent at Guantánamo Bay who observed that ''on a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18 to 24 hours or more.'' In one case, he added, ''the detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night.'' This kind of scene can also be found at Abu Ghraib: ''An 18 November 2003 photograph depicts a detainee dressed in a shirt or blanket lying on the floor with a banana inserted into his anus. This as well as several others show the same detainee covered in feces, with his hands encased in sandbags, or tied in foam and between two stretchers.'' This, apparently, was a result of self-inflicted mania, although where the mentally ill man procured a banana is not elaborated upon. Also notable in Abu Ghraib was the despicable use of religion to humiliate. One Muslim inmate was allegedly forced to eat pork, had liquor forced down his throat and told to thank Jesus that he was alive. He recounted in broken English: ''They stripped me naked, they asked me, 'Do you pray to Allah?' I said, 'Yes.' They said 'F - - - you' and 'F - - - him.' '' Later, this inmate recounts: ''Someone else asked me, 'Do you believe in anything?' I said to him, 'I believe in Allah.' So he said, 'But I believe in torture and I will torture you.' '' Whether we decide to call this kind of treatment ''abuse'' or some other euphemism, there is no doubt what it was in the minds of the American soldiers who perpetrated it. They believed in torture. And many believed it was sanctioned from above. According to The Washington Post, one sergeant who witnessed the torture thought Military Intelligence approved of all of it: ''The M.I. staffs, to my understanding, have been giving Graner'' - one of the chief torturers at Abu Ghraib - ''compliments on the way he has been handling the M.I. holds [prisoners held by military intelligence]. Example being statements like 'Good job, they're breaking down real fast'; 'They answer every question'; 'They're giving out good information, finally'; and 'Keep up the good work' - stuff like that.'' At Guantánamo Bay, newly released documents show that some of the torturers felt they were acting on the basis of memos sent from Washington. Was the torture effective? The only evidence in the documents Danner has compiled that it was even the slightest bit helpful comes from the Schlesinger report. It says ''much of the information in the recently released 9/11 Commission's report, on the planning and execution of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, came from interrogation of detainees at Guantánamo and elsewhere.'' But the context makes plain that this was intelligence procured without torture. It also claims that good intelligence was received from the two sanctioned cases of expanded interrogation techniques at Guantánamo. But everything else points to the futility of the kind of brutal techniques used in Iraq and elsewhere. Worse, there's plenty of evidence that this kind of treatment makes gathering intelligence harder. In Abu Ghraib, according to the official documents, up to 90 percent of the inmates were victims of random and crude nighttime sweeps. If these thousands of Iraqis did not sympathize with the insurgency before they came into American custody, they had good reason to thereafter. Stories of torture, of sexual humiliation, of religious mockery have become widespread in Iraq, and have been amplified by the enemy. If the best intelligence comes from persuading the indigenous population to give up information on insurgents, then the atrocities perpetrated by a tiny minority of American troops actually help the insurgency, rather than curtail it. Who was responsible? There are various levels of accountability. But it seems unmistakable from these documents that decisions made by the president himself and the secretary of defense contributed to confusion, vagueness and disarray, which, in turn, led directly to abuse and torture. The president bears sole responsibility for ignoring Colin Powell's noble warnings. The esoteric differences between legal ''abuse'' and illegal ''torture'' and the distinction between ''prisoners of war'' and ''unlawful combatants'' were and are so vague as to make the abuse of innocents almost inevitable. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority of the Supreme Court in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld that ''the government has never provided any court with the full criteria that it uses in classifying individuals'' as enemy combatants. It is one thing to make a distinction in theory between Geneva-protected combatants and unprotected Qaeda operatives. But in the chaos of a situation like Iraq, how can you practically know the difference? When one group is designated as unworthy of humane treatment, and that group is impossible to distinguish from others, it is unsurprising that exceptions quickly become rules. The best you can say is that in an administration with a reputation for clear lines of command and clear rules of engagement, the vagueness and incompetence are the most striking features. Worse, the president has never acknowledged the scope or the real gravity of what has taken place. His first instinct was to minimize the issue; later, his main references to it were a couple of sentences claiming that the abuses were the work of a handful of miscreants, rather than a consequence of his own decisions. But the impact of these events on domestic morale, on the morale of the vast majority of honorable soldiers in a very tough place and on the reputation of the United States in the Middle East is incalculable. The war on terror is both military and political. The president's great contribution has been to recognize that a solution is impossible without political reform in the Middle East. And yet the prevalence of brutality and inhumanity among American interrogators has robbed the United States of the high ground it desperately needs to maintain in order to win. What better weapon for Al Qaeda than the news that an inmate at Guantánamo was wrapped in the Israeli flag or that prisoners at Abu Ghraib were raped? There is no escaping the fact that, whether he intended to or not, this president handed Al Qaeda that weapon. Sometimes a brazen declaration of toughness is actually a form of weakness. In a propaganda war for the hearts and minds of Muslims everywhere, it's simply self-defeating. And the damage done was intensified by President Bush's refusal to discipline those who helped make this happen. A president who truly recognized the moral and strategic calamity of this failure would have fired everyone responsible. But the vice president's response to criticism of the defense secretary in the wake of Abu Ghraib was to say, ''Get off his back.'' In fact, those with real responsibility for the disaster were rewarded. Rumsfeld was kept on for the second term, while the man who warned against ignoring the Geneva Conventions, Colin Powell, was seemingly nudged out. The man who wrote a legal opinion maximizing the kind of brutal treatment that the United States could legally defend, Jay S. Bybee, was subsequently rewarded with a nomination to a federal Court of Appeals. General Sanchez and Gen. John P. Abizaid remain in their posts. Alberto R. Gonzales, who wrote memos that validated the decision to grant Geneva status to inmates solely at the president's discretion, is now nominated to the highest law enforcement job in the country: attorney general. The man who paved the way for the torture of prisoners is to be entrusted with safeguarding the civil rights of Americans. It is astonishing he has been nominated, and even more astonishing that he will almost certainly be confirmed. But in a democracy, the responsibility is also wider. Did those of us who fought so passionately for a ruthless war against terrorists give an unwitting green light to these abuses? Were we naïve in believing that characterizing complex conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq as a single simple war against ''evil'' might not filter down and lead to decisions that could dehumanize the enemy and lead to abuse? Did our conviction of our own rightness in this struggle make it hard for us to acknowledge when that good cause had become endangered? I fear the answer to each of these questions is yes. American political polarization also contributed. Most of those who made the most fuss about these incidents - like Mark Danner or Seymour Hersh - were dedicated opponents of the war in the first place, and were eager to use this scandal to promote their agendas. Advocates of the war, especially those allied with the administration, kept relatively quiet, or attempted to belittle what had gone on, or made facile arguments that such things always occur in wartime. But it seems to me that those of us who are most committed to the Iraq intervention should be the most vociferous in highlighting these excrescences. Getting rid of this cancer within the system is essential to winning this war. I'm not saying that those who unwittingly made this torture possible are as guilty as those who inflicted it. I am saying that when the results are this horrifying, it's worth a thorough reassessment of rhetoric and war methods. Perhaps the saddest evidence of our communal denial in this respect was the election campaign. The fact that American soldiers were guilty of torturing inmates to death barely came up. It went unmentioned in every one of the three presidential debates. John F. Kerry, the ''heroic'' protester of Vietnam, ducked the issue out of what? Fear? Ignorance? Or a belief that the American public ultimately did not care, that the consequences of seeming to criticize the conduct of troops would be more of an electoral liability than holding a president accountable for enabling the torture of innocents? I fear it was the last of these. Worse, I fear he may have been right. Andrew Sullivan is a senior editor at The New Republic and a columnist at Time.
BBC 21 Jan 2005 Election drives attacks on Shia The Karbala blast took place in a crowded bus station Tensions in ethnically divided Iraq have again been heightened following attacks on Shia targets. The election at the end of January is expected to be dominated by Shia leaders. On Friday a number of people were killed in a car bomb attack during Eid celebrations at a Shia mosque in Baghdad. The tactical thinking behind attacks on Shia Muslims by suspected Sunni militants is clear. The aim is to stir up and strengthen sectarian divisions, by provoking a violent Shia reaction to attacks. The attackers hope to make Iraq ungovernable through a civil war along religious lines. Deep hatred Engrained in the Wahhabi Sunni militancy that has emerged in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, of which Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is believed to be the leader, is a deep hatred of Shia Muslims. In an audio recording released by Zarqawi this week, he denounced Shias for fighting alongside American troops in Iraq, and referred to revered Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali Sistani as "Satan". Less driven by religious hatred are the insurgents believed to be linked to the regime of Saddam Hussein. They have seen their traditional dominance of Iraqi politics evaporate, and the election can only set this in stone. They therefore see the undermining of the electoral process as in their interest. Violence and the lack of government control in some mainly Sunni areas, and the threat of attacks on polling stations, have raised fears of serious Sunni disenfranchisement in the 30 January election. Shias to gain from vote The response of Shia leaders in Iraq has been to call on their followers not to react to the violence. Here in Basra they are clearly blaming Sunni Iraqis, not foreign fighters, for the attacks... If that is the case, people say, there will be some kind of Shia reaction, and the calls for calm and no revenge attacks from Shia leaders will not hold Shehab Ahmad Journalist in Basra They have accused Sunni militants of attempting to provoke civil war to prevent next month's elections going ahead. Of course, Shia leaders have a great deal to gain from the election and by not reacting to attacks. In a matter of weeks, they can overturn the traditional Sunni dominance of Iraqi politics and take up positions of power legitimised by an electoral process. There is no real question that Shias are going to dominate the elections. They form 60% of the population and their religious leaders are calling on them to vote. Despite the recent attacks on Najaf and Karbala, the Shia areas of central and southern Iraq may be quiet enough for electioneering and polling to go ahead, though attacks are expected. In the Kurdish dominated north of Iraq, the election may also pass off relatively peacefully.
www.haaretz.com 19 Jan 2005 Israeli banks hold NIS 1b. of Holocaust victims By Amiram Barkat A Knesset committee slammed Israeli banks yesterday for "severe negligence" in handling the accounts of thousands of Jews who perished in the Holocaust totaling some NIS 1 billion. Holocaust victims deposited the money in some 9,000 accounts in Israeli banks, according to the Knesset Inquiry Committee for the Location and Restitution of Assets of Holocaust Victims, which presented its report to the Knesset yesterday. "There wasn't a deliberate system of concealing funds, but there was without a doubt negligence in keeping the documents, foot dragging, obtuseness and ignoring the heirs," said committee chairman MK Colette Avital (Labor). The committee, which has been inquiring into Holocaust victims' bank accounts in Israel for the past five years, said the banks were negligent in handling the accounts and keeping the owners' records and trying to locate the heirs. There may have been considerable additional funds that were not discovered, the committee said, because the banks destroyed documents and failed to keep records of the latent accounts. The committee ruled that the banks will have to return about a third of the money - some NIS 322 million - to the heirs of the Holocaust victims, if they are traced. The state will have to return the remaining two thirds - NIS 586 million - because the banks transferred most of the funds to the British Mandate and state in the 1940s and `50s. If all the heirs are found, the five major banks will have to return some NIS 322 million, NIS 307 million of which must be returned by Bank Leumi. Mizrahi Bank must return NIS 12.9 million, Bank Hapoalim NIS 1.7 million, and Israel Discount Bank must return NIS 535,000. However, the committee said it was highly probably that only a small percent of the heirs will be located, so these sums are theoretical. The committee recommended setting up a public body to handle heirs' claims quickly. "If we don't reach an agreement with the banks and the treasury, we will have to use legislation," Avital said. The Banks' Association and Bank Leumi said that it was proved that the banks in Israel do not hold assets today of Holocaust survivors. They said that their financial liability derives only from the interest and linkage differences on funds that the banks had transferred to the Custodian General. However, head auditor Yehuda Barlev said Bank Leumi holds to this day 180 accounts that probably belonged to Holocaust victims. The bank denies this. Committee members also lambasted the banks for their conduct during and after the investigation. "We had bitter arguments with the banks, which caused very many delays in the committee's work," Avital said. MK Ehud Ratzabi said "the banks' lawyers came to the Knesset and hurled accusations at the MKs, as though they were on trial for rape." The committee estimated the total funds in the 9,000 accounts at NIS 947 million. However, due to heavy pressure on the banks' part, the committee used another way to calculate the value of the funds for which no heirs will be found, which minimizes the sums by 80 to 90 percent. The reason that the state must return most of the funds is that most of the money was transferred to the British Mandate authorities during the Second World War. Following the establishment of the State of Israel, the funds were transferred to the Custodian General. The committee found that Bank Leumi has been holding a large sum of money belonging to Holocaust victims since 1949, which belongs to the state. The sum was initially IL 1,793,000, which is worth some half a billion shekels today. The report shows that the committee succeeded in locating only a small part of the survivors' money. Only some 3,500 of the 9,000 accounts had any money at all, mainly due to the banks' negligence and faulty documentation, in violation of their own rules and regulations. The report lashes out at Mercantile Discount Bank, formerly Barclays. The auditors located some 3,000 latent accounts from the World War II era - more than in Bank Leumi - but could not verify the identity of some 2,000 accounts holders due to the disappearance of vital details. The committee accused the bank of refusing to cooperate with it. "All the senior officials denied having documents or relating to the subject and era being investigated," the report said. In addition, the auditors said that contrary to bank regulations, the bank failed to keep in its archives documents preceding 1963, and its branches did not keep information of latent accounts that were written off. Bank Hapoalim destroyed a very large quantity of material relevant to the investigation long after the committee had started its inquiries. "Our efforts to obtain the full bank reports of the closed accounts were thwarted, we found nothing, in the head office, computer department, branches or archives," read the report. The auditors found that Bank Mizrahi did not pay interest rates on the latent accounts that had money in them, but made sure to charge them with commissions all these decades. Consequently, numerous accounts were overdrawn. Numerous accounts had been closed and documents destroyed in violation of the regulations to preserve old documents. "In many cases old documents were destroyed, probably to make room in the store room for newer ones," the auditors wrote. They commended Bank Discount for its cooperation, but said many accounts from the Holocaust period could not be located because the bank failed to keep records from before the 1960s. Noah Flug, chairman of the umbrella organization for Israeli Holocaust survivors' associations, said he hopes "the banks that sabotaged the committee's work learn their lesson and display public and moral responsibility and respect the committee's conclusions and implement them." The Justice Ministry spokesman said the ministry and Custodian General support returning the property to the heirs and will do everything they can to ensure it. Finance Ministry sources said yesterday that "the funding sources and the extent of the funds have not been determined yet. The cabinet will talk to the Knesset and formulate a joint position on the subject."
www.forward.com Israel Blasted in Report On Survivors By naTHANIEL POPPER January 21, 2005 JERUSALEM — Many European Holocaust victims looked to Israeli banks to serve as a refuge for their assets during World War II, but a new report suggests that it was an imperfect refuge at best. A Knesset committee issued a report Tuesday detailing thousands of accounts in Israeli banks that were never returned to Holocaust victims and their heirs after World War II. In a situation with unpleasant echoes of the Swiss banks case of the late 1990s, the report says that Israeli banks obstructed efforts of survivors to reclaim bank accounts. The presence of the accounts has been known for some time, but the report was unexpected in the amount of blame it laid on Israeli government, which took control of most accounts after the war and did not return most. "The government acted even worse than the banks," Collette Avital, chairwoman of the committee that produced the report, told the Forward after the Tuesday press conference. The report appears years after most European governments took their own steps to deal with improperly handled Holocaust-era assets, and four years after the investigation was initiated in the Knesset. Numerous delays were caused by public disputes between the banks and Avital's committee, some of which spilled over at the Tuesday press conference. The report has no binding power, but Avital recommended that the Knesset immediately approve it and form a body to help return the money. The state could owe survivors as much as $135 million, according to the maximum calculations of the committee; the banks could owe $74 million. From the five banks included in the investigation, Bank Leumi is responsible for 2,541 of the 3,595 accounts that were found to have significant deposits — primarily because Leumi's predecessor, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, was the biggest at the time. Simultaneous with the publication of the report, the Knesset posted on its Web site the names of more than 9,000 Holocaust victims whose accounts were traced. Any money not claimed by survivors will be put in a survivors' foundation according to the plans of Avital's committee. In the 1920s and '30s, European Jews who wanted to get their money out of Europe and to help invest in the Jewish settlement in Palestine deposited the funds in question. Because these Jews were citizens of Nazi-conquered countries, the British government seized all accounts as enemy property. After the war, the accounts were handed over to the newly formed Israeli government, which eventually put them in the custody of the country's administrator general. Some accounts also stayed in the possession of the banks. The report said that in the postwar years, many accounts were not returned at full value, and unhelpful bank officials often stymied inquiries by survivors who had lost their documents during the war. Representatives of Israeli survivors said they were happy that the full story was finally being made public, but they were quick to point out the differences from European cases of Holocaust restitution. "I think that the money that wasn't given back was used for good things," said Moshe Nativ, a leader in the Israeli survivor community. "The country was built. The survivors were absorbed. Nobody took this money and robbed anybody." Avital also noted the difference from the European situation, saying that there was no malice on the part of the banks, just a "state of confusion." But she said the Israeli case was also unusual because of the extent of the state's involvement in holding on to the assets in question after the war. Since the investigation began, Avital said that the government has been cooperative but the banks "have always dragged their feet." One of the advisers to the committee, professor Nahum Gross of the Hebrew University said that at the sessions with the banks, "they brought lawyers who really raised your blood pressure." The banks, particularly Bank Leumi, have criticized Avital's committee publicly, but Tuesday they struck a more conciliatory note. "We will fully cooperate with the conclusions and the recommendations," said Yano Fogel, executive vice president of Bank Leumi. One main bone of contention with the banks was the amount of interest that should be paid on the accounts. The committee chose the figure of 4% interest per year for accounts with heirs and 3% for accounts without heirs. Bank Leumi has held that it should be no higher than 1% per year, the interest rate in 1939. "The committee used a mechanism that has no economic or judicial basis," Fogel said. "Still, we won't pursue this argument in the court or other arenas." The process leading to the report began in the mid 1990s, when the first media reports about the bank accounts surfaced. Avital writes in the report that at the time, "regrettably, the government of Israel and other public bodies did nothing to investigate the truth." Yossi Katz, a professor at Bar Ilan University performed the most notable investigative work. Katz was at Tuesday's conference, and he expressed pride in having helped open a chapter of Israeli history. But he noted that in addition to the work that still needed to be done on bank accounts, Israel barely has touched the equally pressing issue of Israeli land that was owned by European Jews before the war and taken by the British Custodian General. See Report of the Knesset Inquiry Committee on the Location and Restitution of the Assets (in Israel) of Holocaust Victims Presented by MK Colette Avital, Committee Chairperson http://www.knesset.gov.il/committees/eng/docs/shoa_finalreport_eng.htm
haaretz State agrees to give heirs only small sums By Amiram Barkat In 1936, Michael Eisenbod's father visited Haifa and deposited 1,000 Israeli pounds in the Anglo-Palestinian Bank. The money was for an immigration visa to Eretz Yisrael, but an illness delayed Eisenbod's immigration and he was murdered by the Nazis in 1941. A few days ago, Michael Eisenbod and his brother Ben-Zion received invitations to today's presentation of the report to the Knesset on the Holocaust survivors' bank accounts. "My brother is 84 years old, so we decided that I, the younger brother, would represent the family," says Eisenbod, 82. The Eisenbod brothers immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union in 1973. Shortly afterward, they tried to get the money their father, a doctor in Lithuania, had deposited in the Anglo-Palestinian Bank, which later became Bank Leumi. But they stopped trying when the custodian general informed them in an official letter that the money they would get would not cover even the cost of their application request. It is not clear how the custodian calculated the money's real value. According to the Knesset committee's auditors, the sum may exceed NIS 300,000. Now that the report has been published, the Eisenbod brothers intend to approach the custodian again. "The gentiles return funds quite generously today," says Eisenbod. "So I think Israel should, too." During five years of work, the Knesset committee received only about 100 letters from people claiming to be heirs of Holocaust victims. The reasons are numerous: Entire communities were wiped out without leaving heirs; some 40 to 60 percent of the heirs have already received the money, especially during the 1950s; and many of the other heirs live overseas. Among those living in Israel, many are deterred from asking for their money due to the exhausting bureaucratic ordeal to which they would be subjected. In several cases, at the end of the procedure, heirs have found that the sums the custodian is willing to give them are ridiculous. The law requires, among other things, that the heirs bring legal evidence of the death of the account holder. Yael Degani of Ramat Gan still keeps the bank book her aunt received when she opened her account in Bank Leumi in 1938. The aunt perished in Transnisteria in Ukraine, but her sister, Degani's mother, got hold of the book. In 2001, Degani decided to try to get the money back. She approached the custodian general but very soon realized she would have to hire an attorney. In November 2003, the legal debates reached the Family Court. Degani broke down when the judge asked her to produce proof of her aunt's death. "I couldn't understand how a judge in Israel expects me to find today proof of my aunt's death," she says. Since then she has refrained from dealing with the subject. "It simply disgusts me and fighting against the bad will of the people handling it only brings up my blood pressure." Gabriel Weiss of Herzliya was asked to prove which member of a couple, who were murdered in Auschwitz, died first. Weiss was trying to help a mentally ill friend, whose father had deposited 1,500 Israeli pounds in Barclays Bank, today Mercantile Discount. After seven years of legal wrangles, Weiss managed to prove his friend's eligibility for the money. But the custodian's representative claimed that Weiss had not been able to prove that the father was murdered in Auschwitz after his wife's death. Consequently, he must make a new application if he wants to inherit the wife's share, as well. Weiss decided to make do with half the sum - 750 Israeli pounds. The sum's real value, according to the auditors, is about NIS 250,000. But the custodian had his own ways of calculating it and agreed to pay no more than NIS 8,000. The committee's report brings up even worse cases of the custodian's usurpation of heirs. For example, one man deposited 10,000 Israeli pounds in two banks - worth NIS 3.5 million today, according to the auditors - but the custodian agreed to give the man's two sons NIS 97.
Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines 21 Jan 2005 news.inq7.net ‘Mendiola Massacre’ remembered Posted 12:57pm (Mla time) Jan 21, 2005 By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez INQ7.net AT LEAST a thousand farmers marched to the Don Chino Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola) in Manila on Friday to commemorate the 1987 killing of their peers in what has come to be known as the “Mendiola Massacre.” Hacienda Luisita farmers on strike since late 2004 due to management’s alleged unfair labor practices joined the marchers at the bridge near Malacañang despite a return-to-work order from the Department of Labor and Employment. Militant groups organized the protest to recall the deaths of 13 farmers who were killed by anti-riot policemen during a demonstration on Jan. 22, 1987 in what was then the Mendiola Bridge. At the same time, the militants also demanded justice for the seven Hacienda Luisita workers who were killed during a violent dispersal also by policemen on Nov. 16, 2004. Gerry Albert-Corpuz, information officer of the Pambansang Lakas ng Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), said the Luisita workers were demanding for the pullout of police to ease the tension in the plantation owned by the family of former president Corazon Aquino. Corpuz said members of the Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) were preparing to file charges against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas, and Agrarian Reform Secretary Rene Villa for alleged abuse of authority. He said the assumption of jurisdiction on the workers’ case by the DoLE was “highly questionable.” The workers have refused to return to work despite the DoLE order. They have camped out at the gates of the sugar plantation and have armed themselves with sticks and stones in preparation for another confrontation with the police. As of Thursday, truckloads of police from Central Luzon had been deployed around the plantation, according to reports.
UPI Analysis: EU mulls Swastika ban By Gareth Harding Chief European Correspondent Brussels, Belgium, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- British Prince Harry's dim-witted decision to wear a Swastika-emblazoned uniform to an upscale fancy dress party earlier this month has sparked a furious debate about whether the EU should ban Nazi insignia across the bloc. On Thursday, as heads of state from over 40 countries assemble in Auschwitz to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the notorious extermination camp, members of the European Parliament will debate a resolution calling for public displays of Nazi symbols to be outlawed across the continent. The following day, justice and interior ministers from the EU's 25 member states will meet in Luxembourg to mull over such a ban. With emotions running high following Prince Harry's crass gaffe and ahead of the commemorations in Poland, EU lawmakers are unlikely to back away from their threat to banish Third Reich emblems to the dustbin of history. "EU action is urgent and has to forbid very clearly Nazi symbols in the European Union," said Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner for justice and home affairs last week. This hard-line stance is backed by German members of the European Parliament, who believe their country's ban on Nazi insignia should be extended to the whole continent. "All of Europe suffered in the past because of the crimes of the Nazis. So it is logical for Nazi symbols to be banned all over Europe," says Silvana Koch-Merin, vice-president of the assembly's group of liberal deputies. "It is one thing to give people more information about the Holocaust, but in some circumstances that doesn't seem to be enough," the German lawmaker told United Press International. "A ban might make people ask whether it is right to wear a Nazi uniform to a fancy-dress party." However, not all legislators are comfortable about combating extremist groups by extremist methods. "If we were going to ban the Swastika, we should have done it 60 years ago," says Chris Davies, a British Euro-parliamentarian. "Banning symbols is not only wrong in itself, it plays into the hands of right-wing elements and Holocaust-deniers who say the rest of society is trying to suppress legitimately held views." Davies, and other opponents of the interdiction, also question the knock-on effects of the measure. "If you ban the Swastika, people will ask, 'Why don't you ban the Hammer and Sickle too, because Stalin killed more people than Hitler?' " Prince Harry, grandson of Queen Elizabeth II and third in line to the throne, is not the only public figure to dredge up Europe's bloody past in recent weeks. Jean-Marie Le Pen, the French National Front leader who has previously described the Holocaust as a "detail of history," dismissed the German occupation of France as "not especially inhumane" in the far-right journal Rivarol. Meanwhile, in Italy, Lazio soccer star Paolo di Canio gave a fascist salute to his team's far-right supporters after scoring a goal. All three cases demonstrate the enormous problems Europe faces trying to heal the wounds of its dark past. Prince Harry could have been prosecuted for his moment of madness in Germany, where Nazi symbols are outlawed, but received only a slap on the wrists in Britain. Likewise, Di Canio's salute -- which is illegal in Italy -- might have passed unnoticed in other EU member states. The three incidents, and the responses to them, have also raised thorny questions about how to combat neo-Nazis, post-fascists and other political extremists in Europe. One camp believes the best way of defeating far-right groups is to deny them the opportunity to spread their odious message. This is the Belgian way -- and so far it has been spectacularly unsuccessful. In 1987, the Vlaams Belang -- an extreme right nationalist grouping formerly known as the Vlaams Blok -- won only three percent of the vote in Flanders, the richer, more populous part of the country. After almost 20 years of repression -- last year it was condemned as a racist party and forced to change its name -- it is Belgium's most popular political grouping, with the backing of almost a quarter of the Flemish electorate. France -- where denial of the Holocaust is a crime -- has also been incapable of stemming the rise of Le Pen, who beat the Socialists for the second place position in the country's last presidential election. The other approach, let's call it the Anglo-American way, is to allow extremists the opportunity to make fools of themselves and thereby earn the almost-universal enmity of the wider public. It is no coincidence that far-right parties have failed to gain a foothold in either Britain or the United States and both fascist and communist groupings have never enjoyed widespread support. Writing in the International Herald Tribune Friday, the lawyer and author Ronald P. Sokol quoted the views of Jewish-American judge Louis Brandeis on the subject of whether to punish free speech. Almost 80 years ago, the justice concluded: "If there is time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avoid the evil by the process of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence." If the outcome of the current European debate is to make both Nazi insignia and a ban on their display equally unpalatable, Prince Harry's decision to don an ersatz Afrika Korps uniform may prove to be his most useful contribution to society in his short and undistinguished life to date.
Armenians Remember Azerbaijan Riot Victims By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: January 19, 2005 Filed at 8:30 p.m. ET YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) -- Hundreds of Armenians, most of them refugees from neighboring Azerbaijan, marched in Yerevan on Wednesday in memory of the victims of riots in that country that killed at least two dozen ethnic Armenians 15 years ago. Marchers placed wreaths and flowers at the foot of the Armenian capital's Monument to the Victims of Genocide. Advertisement After the January 1990 rioting in Azerbaijan's capital of Baku, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sent troops in to crush an uprising by Azerbaijani nationalists, and more than 100 people were killed. The outbreak of violence was one of several clashes linked to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan that is in ethnic Armenian hands after a 1988-1994 war that killed some 30,000 people and drove 1 million others from their homes. No settlement has been reached over Nagorno-Karabakh, and the unresolved conflict damages both nations' economies and raises the threat of renewed war. On Tuesday, the Armenian government's ombudswoman, Larisa Alaverdian, a Baku native, called for compensation for refugees and deportees from Azerbaijan and restitution of the property they left behind.
AP 19 Jan 2005 Mentally ill relative of Hitler's was gassed By Susanna Loof The Associated Press VIENNA, Austria — One of the thousands of victims of the Nazi regime's program to kill mentally ill people was a relative of Adolf Hitler, two historians said yesterday. The woman, identified only as Aloisia V., was 49 when she was gassed on Dec. 6, 1940, at an institution in the Hartheim castle near the northern Austrian city of Linz, historian Timothy Ryback said. Ryback, an American historian who now lives in Salzburg and heads the Obersalzberg Institute in Berchtesgaden, Germany, said the details surrounding the woman's death surfaced last week after Obersalzberg archivist Florian Beierl gained access to her medical file at a Vienna medical institution where she had been treated. That mental illness flourished in Hitler's extended family is nothing new — a secret 1944 Gestapo report that has been known for decades described Aloisia's line of the family as "idiotic progeny," Beierl said. Wolfgang Eisenmenger, a German expert in forensic medicine who is involved in the research, warned against drawing any conclusions about Hitler's own mental health. "An expert on hereditary psychological illnesses could perhaps draw some conclusions from the results of the reconstructed family tree," Eisenmenger said in a statement on the Obersalzberg Web site. Recently released medical files on Aloisia say she suffered from schizophrenia, depression, delusions and a range of other mental problems, Ryback said. Her treatment included confinement in cage beds, a widespread practice even before Nazi times. It's unclear whether Hitler was aware of his relative's illness and her fate, Ryback said. Aloisia was the great-grandchild of the sister of Hitler's paternal grandmother, meaning she was part of the Schicklgruber side of the family, Beierl said. Ryback said he and Beierl, who have researched Hitler's family for five years, kept coming across "cases of either physical or mental disabilities in Hitler's family." The Schicklgruber side of the family was especially hard-hit and "crashed into suicide and mental illness," he added. "The entire line died out." Ryback and Beierl plan to map the cases of disabilities in a 1,200-page genealogy of Hitler's family. www.obersalzberg-institut.de www.obersalzberg.de/
UPI 13 Jan 2005 Large Holocaust center to open in Paris Europe's largest center dedicated to information and research on the Jewish Holocaust will be opened in the Marais district of the city. The center will open Jan. 27, the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp, at a site already occupied by the Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr, it was announced Thursday. The memorial has been expanded by restructuring the five-story building it occupies, creation of two new levels in the basement for a museum, and construction of a new six-level building. The complex will include a new auditorium, research facility, library, multi-media center, and administrative offices. Another major addition to the site will be a wall bearing the names of 76,000 Jews deported from France during the Nazi occupation between 1942 and 1944. Many of these were identified by the Center for Contemporary Jewish Documentation, which will be part of the new center. The documentation project was begun secretly in Grenoble in 1943 on the initiative of Isaac Schneersohn, who purchased the Marais site for Memorial to the Unknown Jewish Martyr in 1956. The enlarged memorial and center will be known officially as the Shoah Memorial, using another name for the Holocaust. Mémorial de la Shoah 17, rue Geoffroy-l'Asnier 75004 Paris France www.memorial-cdjc.org
Reuters 20 Jan 2005 Holocaust lessons meet Muslim rebuff in France 20 Jan 2005 02:03:24 GMT Source: Reuters By Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor PARIS, Jan 20 (Reuters) - "Filthy Jew!" schoolchildren howl at a classmate. "Jews only want money and power," they tell their teachers. "Death to the Jews" graffiti appear on school walls outside Paris and other French cities. These are not scenes from the wartime Nazi occupation or a fictional France where the far-right has taken control. Outright anti-Semitism like this is a fact of life these days in the poor suburbs where much of France's Muslim minority lives. After a slow response when this "new anti-Semitism" flared four years ago, France has made fighting prejudice against Jews into a national priority. Holocaust education in state schools now starts with pupils as young as nine years old. But even the best plans for teaching about the Nazi massacre of Jews can fall short when confronted with an Islamic identity spreading among a minority of France's five million Muslims. "It works with those who are ready to listen," said Iannis Roder, a history teacher in the tough northern suburbs of Paris. "But it doesn't work with those who won't listen. They have their minds made up." Roder is one of several history teachers who sounded an alarm in 2002 about a wave of anti-Semitism among Muslim pupils, much of it a reaction to the uprising by Palestinians against Israeli control of their lands. Their outspoken book "The Lost Territories of the Republic" opened France's eyes to classrooms where some Muslim pupils openly denounced Jews, praised Hitler and refused to listen to any non-Muslim teacher talking about the history of Islam. Such tension has prompted Jewish pupils in these areas to switch to private Jewish or even Catholic schools. "Muslim pupils react less now to what happens in the Middle East," Roder said. "But the situation hasn't really changed. As soon as you talk about Jews in some historical event, there are (anti-Semitic) comments." ONLY A MINORITY PRESENTS PROBLEMS Both Roder and Claude Singer, head of Holocaust education projects at the Jewish Contemporary Documentation Centre (CDJC), underlined that most schools had no problem teaching about the Holocaust and most pupils learned the lesson being put across. "A national survey of history and geography teachers showed that only 15 percent of them had problems teaching about the Shoah," Singer said, using the Hebrew word widely used in French for the Nazi massacre of six million Jews. "The problem concerns not only the Shoah but anything to do with religion," he said. "Some Muslim pupils don't accept being taught about Christian religious life, which is very important to understand the Middle Ages. "The Algerian War is difficult, too, as is slavery," he said. The French slave trade is taught in French overseas territories but not in mainland France, which prompts some black pupils here to ask why they study the Holocaust but not slavery. "In general, I think that Shoah education is going well. It's certainly much better than before," Roder said. France's centralised state education system began teaching about the Holocaust in junior and senior high schools in 1983. Three years ago, faced with the wave of "new anti-Semitism", it added special classes for pupils as young as 9 or 10 years old. Last September, all 5,500 lycees (high schools) around the country received DVDs with excerpts of the classic Holocaust film "Shoah" and related texts to give pupils a hard-hitting lesson in where hateful prejudice can lead. Centres like the CDJC also offer subsidised day trips to Auschwitz with a French survivor of the death camps. Auschwitz is located near Krakow in southern Poland, just over two hours' flight from Paris, and the trip costs only 50 euros ($65.20). "We'll bring several thousand pupils there in 2005," said Singer, who also guides visits to the Shoah Memorial at the CDJC's headquarters near the old Jewish quarter of Paris. FOREIGN JEWS PRAISE FRANCE After being heavily criticised for its initial slow reaction to rising anti-Semitism, France has cracked down on anti-Semitic violence and multiplied efforts to teach tolerance in schools. The American Jewish Congress (AJC) lauded France in September for its toughened stand on anti-Semitic crimes and its plan to ban the virulently anti-Jewish satellite television Al-Manar, run by Lebanon's Hizbollah guerrillas. After meeting Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Justice Minister Dominique Perben, AJC Executive Director David Harris said they were "people who understood the magnitude of the problem and were determined to do something about it." Harris said he understood the difficulty teachers had with Muslim pupils: "Focusing simply on Holocaust education does not necessarily resonate with children from immigrant communities who say they have no historical or cultural connection with it." A month earlier, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said in Paris that France was doing all it could to fight anti-Jewish prejudice -- a calming statement coming only weeks after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had urged French Jews to move to Israel to flee what he called "the wildest anti-Semitism." LINK TO CAMBODIAN AND RWANDAN GENOCIDES While some progress has been made, both Roder and Singer said teachers had to work hard to counter anti-Semitic views that pupils pick up in their disadvantaged neighbourhoods. "I wouldn't say any Islamic groups are behind this," Roder said. "I hear things like, 'Don't buy Coca Cola, it's Jewish'. They hear that sort of thing at the mosque or in their neighbourhoods and they repeat it now and then." "I'm convinced it's not just a problem of Jews and Arabs," Singer said. "There is a wider problem, one of identity. The (Muslim) pupils feel under attack for their identity so they reject out of hand anything that could put them down." One way to get around this could be to introduce pupils to survivors of other mass killings, for example in Cambodia or Rwanda, Singer said. He has already arranged one such meeting for teachers to help them understand the problem of genocide. "The Shoah cannot be allowed to hide all the other horrors concerning other groups," he said. "That's not our goal here." This has to be done carefully, Singer said, because inviting witnesses to other genocides to speak with Jewish survivors runs the risk of diluting the unique nature of the Holocaust. "We must not make comparisons," he said firmly. ($1=.7668 Euros)
Reuters 23 Jan 2005 France unveils memorial to deported wartime Jews 23 Jan 2005 15:39:19 GMT Source: Reuters PARIS, Jan 23 (Reuters) - A wall engraved with the names of 76,000 Jews deported from France to Nazi camps was unveiled in Paris on Sunday, launching the country's commemorations of the 60th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation. Among the names of those deported between 1942 and 1944 are those of 11,000 children. The wall faces Paris's Shoah memorial to all Jews killed in death camps. It will be inaugurated on Tuesday by President Jacques Chirac before he travels to Poland for a ceremony commemorating Auschwitz's liberation by Soviet troops in 1945.
DPA 21 Jan 2005 Rumsfeld scraps Munich visit over war probe 21 January 2005 MUNICH - United States Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has cancelled a planned visit to Munich. Rumsfeld has informed the German government via the US embassy he will not take part at the Munich Security Conference in February, conference head Horst Teltschik said. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights filed a complaint in December with the Federal German Prosecutor's Office against Rumsfeld accusing him of war crimes and torture in connection with detainee abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Rumsfeld had made it known immediately after the complaint was filed that he would not attend the Munich conference unless Germany quashed the legal action. The organisation alleges violations of German legislation which outlaws war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide independent of the place of crime or origin of the accused. The prosecutor's office in Karlsruhe reportedly is examining the roughly 170-page complaint to see if an investigation is warranted. The Center for Constitutional Rights said it and four Iraqis tortured in US custody had filed a complaint with German authorities against Rumsfeld, former CIA director George Tenet and eight other senior military and civilian officials over abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq. The organization said it had turned to German prosecutors "as a court of last resort" because the US government "is unwilling to open an independent investigation" and had "refused to join the International Criminal Court". Several of those it wants investigated are stationed in Germany, it added.
Reuters 24 Jan 2005 Schroeder warns against neo-Nazi threat By Philip Blenkinsop BERLIN (Reuters) - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has reminded Germans on the eve of Auschwitz commemorations that ordinary people empowered the Nazis and urged them to be vigilant against a continued far-right threat. Schroeder insisted the evil of the Holocaust could not be blamed solely on the "demon Hitler". "The evil of Nazi ideology was not without preconditions. The brutalisation of thought and the loss of moral inhibitions had a history. But, above all, Nazi ideology was wanted and made by people," Schroeder said in an advance text of a speech he will make in Berlin on Tuesday. Schroeder expressed his shame for the murders and suffering at Auschwitz and elsewhere. Six million Jews were exterminated in Nazi camps. Millions of others, including Poles, homosexuals, Soviet prisoners and Gypsies perished or were used as slaves. "We bear this burden in sorrow, but also with serious responsibility," he said. Germany, with Europe's third largest Jewish community, could look forward with more hope, yet anti-Semitism still existed. Schroeder appealed to all democrats to counter neo-Nazis and the enemies of tolerance. "The overwhelming majority of Germans living today do not bear guilt for the Holocaust. But they do bear a special responsibility." FAR-RIGHT SUCCESS Schroeder's appeal has particular relevance after the success of far-right parties in the most recent state elections. Representatives of one of them, the NPD, provoked outrage by walking out of a minute's silence for Nazi victims on Friday and referring to Allied destruction of the German city of Dresden in 1945 as a "bombing holocaust". The government resisted calls over the weekend to ban the party, which it likens to Hitler's nascent Nazis and failed in a previous attempt to outlaw. Interior Minister Otto Schily said on Monday a renewed attempt would have little chance of success. Green and conservative politicians supported his view. However, Schily did say he would toughen laws on the right to gather. His spokesman said the plan included barring demonstrations from Berlin's memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, due to open on May 10. The International Auschwitz Committee event on Tuesday, before Thursday's 60th anniversary of the camp's liberation, is one of a number Schroeder will attend this year to remember the defeat of the Nazis in World War Two. In May, he will join Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Moscow to mark 60 years since the end of the war in Europe. Schroeder will be the first German leader to attend such an event. He was also the first to attend D-Day commemorations last year. The lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, will commemorate the freeing of Auschwitz and remember Nazi victims on Thursday, while President Horst Koehler will represent Germany at the ceremony at the site of the camp in Poland.
independdent.co.uk 22 Jan 2005 Only man jailed for Omagh bombing wins a retrial By David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent 22 January 2005 The only man jailed for the 1998 Omagh bombing which killed 29 people is to face a re-trial after winning his appeal against his conviction in Dublin yesterday. Colm Murphy, 51, from Dundalk in the Irish Republic, was jailed for 14 years in 2002 on a charge of conspiring to cause an explosion in August 1998, the date of the Real IRA attack in the Co Tyrone town. The Dublin Court of Criminal Appeal granted a retrial on two grounds relating to the evidence of detectives at his trial, when two Irish detectives were accused by a trial judge of perjury in relation to interview notes. Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns said yesterday that Murphy's conviction was unsafe in relation to the question of the alteration of police interview notes, and on the grounds that the court had been told of Murphy's previous convictions. Senior counsel Michael O'Higgins, representing Murphy, applied for bail on his behalf, a move which was not opposed by the state. Mr Justice Kearns imposed a requirement of a €50,000 (about £35,000) cash deposit and two independent sureties of €35,000 (about £21,000). He also ordered that Murphy surrender his passport, report daily to Dundalk Garda station and provide the address at which he will be residing. Mr O'Higgins said Murphy's personal circumstances had altered very radically since he was convicted in 2002. "He was a builder then ... literally, in 24 hours his business ground to a halt. He was financially ruined by it," he said. Mr O'Higgins said the state had opposed the granting of legal aid to Murphy during the 2002 trial and that as a result he would be considering bringing an application for costs against the state. Mr Justice Kearns said he would have the opportunity to do so when the court sat again next Friday. After the hearing Murphy's sister Angela Reilly and another young woman approached the defendant in the courtroom. Murphy was then led away in handcuffs by six gardai to await an army patrol to bring him back to Portlaoise Prison, where he will stay until the bail requirements are met. Speaking afterwards, Ms Reilly said: "We are relieved. It's been a terrible time for us all." The retrial follows Herculean but problematic efforts by the authorities on both sides of the border to bring the Real IRA perpetrators of the Omagh attack, regarded as one of the worst of the Troubles, to justice. The dead included a woman pregnant with unborn twins. The Murphy case is one of numerous legal sequels to the bombing. In addition to pending criminal charges, a group of relatives of the dead is bringing civil proceedings against a number of republicans. The group is seeking damages from the republicans in an action which is due to come to court in Belfast. Two Irish detectives involved in the Murphy case have meanwhile been charged with perjury. Michael Gallagher, whose son Aiden died in the explosion, expressed "total shock" at the retrial decision, repeating his calls for an independent inquiry in both Northern Ireland and the Republic.
Reuters 24 Jan 2005 Di Canio faces hearing over "fascist" salute ROME, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Lazio striker Paolo di Canio faces a disciplinary hearing over making what appeared to be a fascist salute to fans after scoring against rivals Roma, the Italian Football Federation said on Monday. Photographs of Di Canio giving the long-armed salute favoured by wartime dictators Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler flashed around the world after Lazio's 3-1 win in the Rome derby on January 6. The player, who has in the past expressed his admiration for Mussolini, said there was no political intent in his gesture. "I am a professional footballer and my celebrations had nothing to do with political behaviour of any kind," he said. But the federation has called on Di Canio to explain himself. "Leaving aside any political interpretation of the gesture, Di Canio's behaviour conflicts with the principles of fair play, propriety and integrity," a statement said. In his autobiography the striker said he was "fascinated" by Mussolini and that the dictator has been "deeply misunderstood" and was "basically a very principled, ethical individual".
www.erionet.org 29 Jan 2005 EUROPEAN ROMA INFORMATION OFFICE On Saturday, 29th of January 2005, 10 young Italians set ablaze a camp where 5 Romanian Roma families including a 9 months old baby lived in. The event happened in via Aveta de la Ercolano 10 km away from Napoli. The perpetrators justified their action as “Saturday night fun”. This incident and many similar ones are usually downplayed or ignored by Italian media and there is yet to be heard any official reaction of major Italian politicians about racist attacks against Roma. On 4th of February 2005, two Roma women were accused in Lecco for trying to steal a child. Both of them said they were begging with no intention whatsoever of kidnapping. In order to avoid being sentenced both of them accepted the suggestion of their lawyer and pleaded guilty and accordingly they were sentenced to 8 months and 10 days in jail. As expected the sentence was suspended. Their lawyer also acknowledged that the women told him they never tried to kidnap the child. Corriere della Sera ran an article quoting the young mother defending herself against the “kidnapers”and La Padania started a strong campaign against the “zingari” who are stealing the young Italians (Padanians). “Giu le mani dai nostri bambini” (Take your hands off our children) posters with a picture of a Roma have been spread all around Lombardia. Demonstrations against the “shameful” decision took place in Lecco. Pietro Zocconali the president of the National Association of Sociologists implied in a public statement following the incident that killing children is a practice. He claimed that Roma steal children and then sell them “sometimes in parts”. Roberto Maroni minister of employment of the region has asked the judge who suspended the sentence to consider changing her job and had strong words against the Roma. The mayor of Lecco as well as other leading politicians including Senator Giuseppe Valditara were also fast to join in as Anti-Gypsyism continues to be an electoral bonanza for some of Italian politicians. On 10th of February at dawn around 5 am the Palermo police did a round up in a Roma "camp", justified as a "children census", leading to the arrest of several persons and the notification of a number of repatriation orders. Most of those living in the camp are refugees from Kosovo and Human Rights Activist in Palermo fear an illegal collective deportation that could fit the ongoing electoral campaign, which uses racist messages as selling points. Anti-Gypsyism is an aggressive, widespread and still acceptable form of racism in Europe. Without strong reactions from European Institutions and leading European Politicians condemning it the social cohesion and equal opportunities both fundamental principles of United Europe are running the risk to be viewed as hypocrisy by the over 8 million European Roma. Valeriu Nicolae Executive Director ad interim ERIO European Roma Information Office Avenue Edouard Lacomble 17 , Brussels 1040 Tel : 0032 (0) 2733 34 62 Fax: 0032 2733 3875 Mobile :0032 (0) 476538194 www.erionet.org
UN News Centre 20 Jan 2005 General Assembly extends judges' terms at UN war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia 20 January 2005 – In a bid to help the United Nations war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia meet its target of trying all defendants by 2008, the General Assembly today extended the tenure of seven short-term judges and appointed two new temporary judges as well. The General Assembly adopted a resolution, in response to an earlier Security Council resolution, approving the election of seven judges whose tenures were due to expire before the expected end of the trials they have been conducting. The judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) whose terms have been extended until their trials have ended are: Vonimbolana Rasoazanany (Madagascar), Bert Swart (The Netherlands), Hans Henrik Brydensholt (Denmark), Albin Eser (Germany), Krister Thelin (Sweden), Christine Van Den Wyngaert (Belgium) and Joaquín Martín Canivell (Spain). The two new short-term, or ad litem, judges who have been appointed are Gyorgy Szénási (Hungary), who will serve on a case due to start next week, and Claude Hanoteau (France), who will take over another case from a serving judge. A pool of ad litem judges was created in 2001 to try to speed up the work of the ICTY, which has been based in The Hague in The Netherlands since its formation in 1993.
BBC 23 Jan 2005 Dutch told of child euthanasia The report authors want to encourage reporting of child euthanasia cases Dutch doctors have reported 22 mercy killings of terminally ill babies since 1997, according to a new study. None of the doctors involved were charged, although euthanasia for children is illegal in the Netherlands. The report, in the Dutch Journal of Medicine, is the first detailed examination of child euthanasia. The study's authors want to address under-reporting of the practice and encourage doctors to report cases without fear of prosecution. The cases involved babies with extreme spina bifida, a disabling birth defect. The study showed that prosecutors had decided not to file charges as long as four unofficial rules were met: the child's medical team and independent doctors must agree there is no prospect of improvement and the pain cannot be eased parents give their consent the life must be ended in the correct medical way A survey has suggested Dutch doctors end the lives of about 15 to 20 disabled newborns a year but most go unreported. "The babies are there but we were never allowed to talk about them," said paediatrician Eduard Verhagen, of Groningen University Medical Centre, and one of the authors of the study. "That must change. If we take this awfully difficult decision, it must happen with complete openness," he told De Volkskrant newspaper. "You are trained to save the life of a child but with these children the suffering can only be stopped by ending their lives. It takes courage to do that." In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalise euthanasia but doctors must follow strict rules. The Vatican has criticised the Netherlands over its legalisation of euthanasia.
Netherlands - ICTY
BBC 17 Jan 2005 Two jailed over Srebrenica deaths Prosecutors had asked the court for higher sentences Two former Bosnian Serb officers have been convicted and jailed for their role in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Vidoje Blagojevic was found guilty of "complicity in genocide" and jailed for 18 years by the UN war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia at The Hague. Dragan Jokic was convicted of aiding and abetting murder and persecution and given a nine-year prison sentence. More than 7,000 Muslims died in the eastern Bosnian enclave of Srebrenica at the end of the 1992-1995 war. It is considered to be the worst single atrocity in Europe since World War II. 'Dark days' "The horrible crimes committed following the fall of Srebrenica are well known," the court said in a summary of the judgement. "These crimes were committed in little more than one week with a level of brutality and depravity not previously seen in the conflict in Yugoslavia and are among the darkest days in modern European history." Blagojevic and Jokic, who had denied the charges, were both given credit for time already in custody. Jokic was the chief of engineers in the Zvornik brigade of the Bosnian Serb army which took part in the massacre. Blagojevic commanded the Bratunac brigade of the Bosnian Serb army. He was subordinate to Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic, who last April became the first person to be found guilty of aiding and abetting genocide by the tribunal. The appeals court sentenced Krstic to 35 years in prison for his leading role in the Srebrenica massacre. The court has already confirmed that the killings in Srebrenica legally constituted genocide. Six men accused over the massacre are still at large including former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic and wartime Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic.
AFP 22 Jan 2005 Protesters demand probe into Beslan massacre Beslan, Russia -- Scores of people who lost family in the Beslan school hostage massacre last autumn blocked a major highway for a second day yesterday, accusing Russian officials of not providing accountability for the tragedy and demanding an independent probe. The protesters, including parents of school children who died in last September's attack, had erected a large tent in the middle of the route linking southern Russia with neighbouring Azerbaijan and had vowed to remain until authorities met their demands.
AP 20 Jan 2005 Argentine Witness Gives Grisly Testimony MADRID, Spain (AP) -- Spanish judges heard gruesome testimony Thursday about atrocities by the former military regime during Argentina's ``dirty war,'' including theft of babies and clandestine cremation of detainees' bodies. The accounts came in the trial of Adolfo Scilingo, 58, a former Argentine naval officer who served at a naval school that served as a prison and reputed torture center. Advertisement Scilingo stared at the floor and sipped water as the court heard for the second day excerpts from a tape recording made in 1997 in which he described abuses at the school. Since his trial began last week, Scilingo has insisted that he fabricated the taped testimony. He faces charges of war crimes, genocide, torture and terrorism in Spain's first trial of a person for human rights abuses allegedly committed in another country. In excerpts played Thursday, Scilingo tells how pregnant detainees had their newborn babies taken away from them and given away in adoption to officers at the school. ``For humanitarian reasons, the pregnant women could not be moved. I mean, eliminated. We had to wait until they gave birth,'' Scilingo is heard saying. He did not specify how many cases he knew of, saying just ``several.'' Doctors who delivered babies signed birth certificates in which the children were given the names of the people adopting them, he said. The goal of these illegal adoptions, he said, ``was to keep the children from falling into the subversive mentality of their parents,'' Scilingo is heard saying. Scilingo, who was the chief electrician at the school, also speaks in the excerpts of how officials there cremated the bodies of people who died of injuries while under interrogation. He said these cremations were referred to as ``asados'' -- which translates as roastings -- and as chief electrician he was once asked to supply diesel fuel or oil for them to be carried out. ``There were instructions from superiors for all of us at the school to take part. I did not go. It seemed very gruesome to me,'' Scilingo says in the tape. Spanish authorities recorded the tape during an interrogation with National Court Judge Baltasar Garzon when Scilingo first came to Spain voluntarily in 1997 to testify about what he saw at the school, one of the Argentine regime's most notorious torture centers. Garzon ended up jailing Scilingo and indicting him. Since the mid-1990s Garzon has been leading a probe into atrocities committed by military regimes in Argentina and Chile. Scilingo, whose trial started last week, has testified that he invented his previous confessions, including a chilling account of pushing 30 drugged dissidents out of planes flying over the Atlantic, in an effort to provoke an investigation into Argentina's ``dirty war.'' Under Argentina's military dictatorship, some 13,000 perceived political opponents were killed or disappeared during a campaign to stamp out dissent, according to an official government report. Human rights groups put the number closer to 30,000.
BBC 20 Jan 2005 Software re-enacts Rwanda's genocide By Mark Doyle BBC World Affairs correspondent The simulation uses realistic scenarios from the genocide It has been a long journey from the Rwandan genocide in 1994 to an Edinburgh classroom in 2005, but a remarkable new computer software programme is being piloted to teach children about the genocide, about citizenship and about the tough choices adults often have to make. The new simulation - it sounds wrong to call it a computer game given the subject matter - runs a series of dilemmas similar to those the UN peacekeepers faced during the genocide. In all, some 800,000 Rwandans were systematically put to death in just 100 days at a rate faster than during the holocaust of the Jews in World War II. The whole affair was a desperate attempt by an extremist ethnic Hutu regime to hang on to power in the face of ethnic Tutsi rebel advances. The regime meticulously planned the murder of ethnic Tutsi civilians and Hutu moderates they deemed to be in support of the rebels. But far too few UN peacekeepers were there to stop the carnage. And some people questioned the political will of the UN and the superpowers on its security council. Now James Gillespie's High School is seeing what, if anything, can be learned from the terrible dilemmas raised by the tragedy. Reality to simulation Many computer games are violent and involve zapping an enemy. But Pax Warrior is about saving people. In reality very few Rwandans were saved, but that's reflected in the programme too. Some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred The idea is to use new media to develop the students' decision-making capacity and at the same time learn about one of the momentous events of 20th century history. Andreas Ua'Siaghail is the designer of Pax Warrior: "Kids are using books less and less, and there are also different kinds of learners. "Some learn visually, some learn through auditory stimulation and some from reading text. "We are using all three methods of reaching the users." The students have to face a real life decision made by UN commanders. An informant tells the students, who play the role of UN officers, that hidden arms caches are about to be distributed to Rwandan government militiamen who may commit genocide. The students have several choices. Do they risk confrontation and raid the arms caches? Or should they ask for advice from UN headquarters in New York? Another option is diplomatic pressure on the president of Rwanda, hoping that that may stop the arms being distributed. Good intentions Every choice that's made has consequences for the rest of the simulation. I asked one student, Niall Dolan, why he chose to fax New York to ask for advice. "Our mission is not to promote violence," he says. "And does this simulation relate to your ordinary lives?" I ask. "The decisions we have to make here are much more extreme than any we'd have to make as teenagers," says Astrid Brown. I don't have any regrets about the decisions we took. At times we just tried to stay human Marek Pazik "But this makes you aware that your decisions can have many more effects than you realised." "And no matter what your good intentions are," says Jude Purcell, "certain decisions you have to take are going to have bad consequences." The school's headmaster, Alex Wallace, sees the computer programme as a stimulating way of learning some modern history. But he says there's much more to it than that. "One of the priorities nationally is that we teach students what it means to be a good citizen, a global citizen. "The youngsters are getting a real opportunity to improve their social responsibility, and this will hopefully contribute to them becoming better future citizens of the world." To compare the simulation with the real thing, we invited a UN peacekeeper who served in Rwanda in 1994 to talk to the students. Along with a handful of other UN personnel Marek Pazik, then a major in the Polish army, volunteered to stay on during the genocide to do what he could to save lives. Marek Pazik stayed in Rwanda to try to help the survivors The students asked him some difficult questions about the weaknesses of the UN operation. But Mr Pazik defended the ideals of the UN and said that generally it worked as a body. "I have been unhappy with it at times but we have nothing better and it can work if we all co-operate and work for peace." "I don't have any regrets about the decisions we took." "At times we just tried to stay human." Never again? The fallout from the Rwandan genocide continues to this day with millions of orphans and war refugees. So one has to ask whether Pax Warrior, even though designed as a educational tool, doesn't make light of what was an earth-shattering event for Africa. "I don't think it trivialises it," says Alex Wallace. "But you need to allow ample space for people for collaborative talk so that the students' thinking is probed." The world has said "never again" many times, and many times has failed to honour those words. But communities that have suffered genocide, whether in the Nazi holocaust or the killing fields of Rwanda, say one way of trying to prevent these dreadful events from happening again is by telling and re-telling the stories. These students may have found a modern media version of more traditional monuments to the dead.
news.scotsman.com 21 Jan 2005 2:47am (UK) Gas Chamber Survivor Who Found Love at Belsen By Laura Elston, PA Gena Turgel entered the gas chamber at Auschwitz and lived to tell the tale. In the winter of 1944, the 21-year-old was made to strip naked with her mother inside the concentration camp’s extermination block and wait, but miraculously the deadly poison was never released. “We were trembling. I didn’t know where we were. Inside, it looked terrible. A woman came in that I recognised from a previous camp. She was very shocked I was there and went out again. “We waited a while and then water came through the walls. It was wonderful. For many weeks we had had no water on our backs. We were all drinking it. “As we came outside, the women there said how wonderful it was to see us. They screamed with happiness. I didn’t understand what they meant. I said ‘What are you shouting about?’ “They said ‘Don’t you know? You were in the gas chamber.’ I lost my voice. I couldn’t produce any saliva.” Gena puts her survival down to a “power over a power” and believes that God was watching over her. “The woman who came in. I never saw her again. Perhaps she did something.” More than 60 years on, the great-grandmother still cannot believe how lucky she was to escape death. “Many times, I have to touch myself to check I’m really alive. One appreciates life so much.” The 81-year-old found something in the death camps that she never expected – love, in the form of her husband Norman. A Jewish soldier with the British Intelligence Corps, Norman Turgel was one of the first liberators to enter Belsen on April 15, 1945 and was charged with rounding up the SS commanders. Gena, whose surname then was Goldfinger, was imprisoned in the camp after being sent there from Auschwitz. During late 1944 and early 1945, some 60,000 Jewish inmates from other concentration camps were transported to Belsen in north-west Germany. When the liberators arrived they found more than 20,000 naked corpses of prisoners, who had starved to death, lying unburied on open ground. Many survivors were ill with typhus. Gena showed Norman around the camp’s makeshift hospital wards where she was working as a nurse and a few days afterwards he invited her to the officer’s mess. For the Sergeant, it had been love at first sight. “When the door opened, the tables were decorated with white cloths and flowers, which I hadn’t seen for six years,” Mrs Turgel said. “I asked Norman whether he was expecting any special visitors. He said ‘This is our engagement party’. I didn’t know the man, but he was very stubborn. “When he first met me, he made up his mind.” She added: “He had beautiful eyes. I didn’t hate him but I was terrified of what I was letting myself in for.” Her persistent suitor refused to give up and the pair were eventually married six months later. The bride’s dress was made out of a British parachute and is now housed in the Imperial War Museum. The couple were married in a surviving Jewish synagogue in Germany used during the war as a cattle shed. Journalists greeted their arrival in England, keen to report the love affair that had blossomed amid the horrors of Belsen. Gena was born in Krakow, Poland, in 1923. The Nazis began bombing the city in 1939 and by the autumn of 1941 the family had been forced to move into a nearby cramped, squalid ghetto for Jews. For Gena, it was the execution of four of her siblings which haunted her in the years afterwards. “My eldest brother went down to the sewers to go to the French resistance. He was caught and shot. My other brother was shot in the ghetto,” she said. In 1941, her 17-year-old sister Miriam was murdered after the Nazis caught her trying to bring food into the Plaszov camp, where the family had been taken. “We had to carry wood for the bodies to be burned. Imagine how my mother felt carrying wood for her daughter to be burned. “My sister used to sleep on my left side. My arm is always in a constant chill, even now.” In December 1944, Gena, her mother and her other sister Hela were moved on foot to Auschwitz, walking for three weeks in freezing temperatures as low as minus 20C. After a few weeks and her encounter with the gas chamber, Gena and her mother were transported to the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany and then shortly after to Bergen-Belsen. They were forced to leave Hela behind and never saw her again. Gena, who now lives in Stanmore, Middlesex, wrote a book about her experiences called I Light a Candle. Norman, who died nearly ten years ago, contributed a chapter about what he had witnessed. Gena was awarded an MBE in 2000 for services to the Holocaust Foundation. The couple had worked hard to educate children about genocide. On January 27, Holocaust Memorial Day, Gena will show the Queen to her seat at the ceremony for survivors in London. The memories of what happened are still all too vivid. “I try to be occupied all the time,” she said. “I have two daughters and a son, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. It’s a wonderful feeling to have family and to see it all – I was so thankful to God for that.”
Indo-Asian News Service 21 Jan 2005 Britain Hindus seek to redeem swastika London, Jan 21 (IANS) More Hindu voices have been added to the campaign against a ban on the swastika symbol in Europe after Prince Harry recently displayed it during a fancy dress party. Upset leaders of Britain's Hindu community announced a campaign Thursday to "redeem" the swastika symbol from its Nazi association and reclaim it as Hinduism's ancient symbol of life and fortune. Due to the wrong use of the 5,000-year-old symbol by the Nazis, it became associated with anti-Semitism, hate, violence, death and murder. Ramesh Kallidai of the Hindu Forum is planning pro-swastika awareness workshops for every region of Britain with a large seminar to be held in London. Every MP will be lobbied by e-mail and an information booklet will be distributed to faith communities and others. Kallidai told the media: "A symbol we have used for more than 5,000 years is now on the verge of being banned because of association with the Nazis over which we had no control. "Hindus wish to continue to use this symbol as part of their religion, but they risk being labelled Nazis or, in the case of a ban, risk breaking the law. We need to educate people about the historical context of the symbol, its wrong use by the Nazis and its importance to Hindus." He said it was ironic that a symbol depicting the wheel of life and good fortune had become a symbol of racism, torture and war. Members of the European Parliament have called for a Europe-wide ban on the symbol after Harry wore a swastika armband to a fancy dress party. Franco Frattini, the European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security, has said that he is willing to consider the possibility of a ban. Nazi symbols including the swastika are banned in Germany. Nitin Mehtma, founder of Young Indian Vegetarians, said: "Hindus were known as Aryans and the swastika was a symbol which identified them as peace-loving, cultured, tolerant people. It would be nice if this aspect of the swastika can be highlighted." Jyotsna Thanki, president of the Hindu Council of Birmingham, said: "The important thing to understand is that when a Hindu uses the swastika symbol, it is not a representation of Nazi fascism but of Hindu devotion. It is not in any way a statement of support for the xenophobic and criminal activities of the Holocaust." Bhupendra Patel, a magistrate and the secretary of the Shree Sattavis Gam Patidar Samaj, a Hindu organisation, said: "Like many Christians wear crosses, many Hindus wear swastikas. Does this mean they will be ostracised as Nazis?" The swastika has been used for centuries by Hindus, Buddhists and many other traditions to denote good luck. The Times said in a report that "one of the oldest known swastikas was painted on a Palaeolithic cave 10,000 years ago and swastikas have been found on pottery and coins from ancient India, China and Greece." Hindus use the right-facing version of the swastika, meaning sun, as jewellery or on doorways and buildings to bring good fortune. This was the version adopted by the Nazi Party in 1920 at Salzburg, said The Times report. It is thought that Allied wartime propaganda was responsible for the false belief that at Hitler's insistence the swastika was later reversed to the left-facing version, meaning "death" in Hindu mythology.
UPI 23 Jan 2005 British Muslims to boycott Holocaust day London, England, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- British Muslim groups have said they will boycott Thursday's commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz because it is not racially inclusive. Iqbal Sacranie, secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said in a letter to Home Secretary Charles Clarke the group will not participate in Holocaust Memorial Day unless it includes the "holocaust" of the Palestinian intifada, the Sunday Times reported. He said similar events held in other European countries are "inclusive" events that commemorated deaths in Palestine, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia alongside the Nazi death camps. "We wrote to the Home Office three or four weeks ago. We said the issue of the Holocaust is not really the concern. But we have now expressed our unwillingness to attend the ceremony because it excludes ongoing genocide and human rights abuses around the world and in the occupied territories of Palestine," he said. Home Office officials have told the council, which represents more than 350 Muslim organizations, they are considering the request. However, officials had no plans Sunday to broaden the occasion.
- 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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