Monitor for March 1 - 15, 2005
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
2005 Feb 14,
2005 Feb 28,
2005 Mar 31,
Search News Monitors - Past Years: 2004 2003 2002 2001
For abbreviated news sources (ie: AP, BBC) see below . Use Find (Ctrl+F) to search this webpage.
For larger text: on your browser's "View" menu, point to "Text Size" and click the size you want.
Also see the weekly Peace Negotiations Watch (since Sept. 2002),
the monthly CrisisWatch (since Sept. 2003) and United Nations - Geneva (UNOG) News
The New Times (Kigali) OPINION March 7, 2005 When Genocide Suspects Exploit 'Legal Ambiguity' By Victor Mugarura Kigali Eleven years down the road, the world still has to contend with a seemingly dangerous downside regarding the 1994 genocide, especially on the need for several nations to extradite those suspected of participating in the massacres of over a million people. Several countries, including neighbouring Burundi, still have drawbacks in their legal systems that do not recognize Genocide as a crime against humanity, despite the government's willingness to cooperate with Rwanda on the extradition of suspects. The problem is further drawn back by Burundi's constitution that allows dual citizenship, meaning that Rwandan genocide suspects who sought Burundian citizenship may not be extradited to Rwanda lawfully, without the suspects seeking legal redress to enable them jump the rope. Due respect is indeed paid to the goodwill gesture from Burundian legal authorities who were in Butare province recently to chart a way forward with their Rwanda counterparts. It is recognition on either part that such loopholes in the national legal frameworks may not only appear diversionary joint efforts to curb regional insecurity, but directly allow genocide suspects to gain undeserved sanctuary and escape legal prosecution. It must be recalled that all UN member nations are still bound by the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide, 1948 (CPPCG), which takes precedence over national legal systems that may not be clear on how to handle suspects of international crimes. Such legal instruments must be reviewed to conform to international standards of universality, or have the suspects extradited or prosecuted by the relevant courts as required by the UN Convention. This move would set a precedence to help follow up suspects of similar incidents like those of the Gatumba massacres where over 160 Banyamurenge Congolese were massacred in a Burundi refugee camp. With all the legal problems involved in the extradition, both Burundi and Rwanda are duty bound by their extradition treaty to capture and have genocide suspects extradited or prosecuted to answer charges. This includes Burundians who could have committed crimes in Rwanda during the Genocide but are covered by provisions in Burundi's penal code against extradition of nationals. A similar case involves Burundian refugees now camped around Butare province and have reportedly acquired Rwandan irangamuntu (national ID), enabling them to hide under the dual citizenship clause. The way forward can be to compile incriminating evidence on these suspects and eventually charge them for double crimes. It is time to put in place legal mechanisms that make it possible to disown any foreigner who may seek sanctuary in another country and obtain citizenship illegally after they committed crimes especially before and during the 1994 massacres. The dilemma can only be put on hold by the willingness of nations to cooperate and the need to respect treaties for the extradition of genocide suspects. This is directly tied to provisions of other international legal instruments ratified to support criminal investigations against people suspected of committing international crimes like genocide.
UN News Service 11 Mar 2005 Over 800 Burundians Flee to Rwanda Fearing New Violence, UN Agency Reports UN News Service (New York) More than 800 Burundians, mainly ethnic Tutsis, have fled to neighbouring Rwanda in the last two weeks, citing threats and fears of violence surrounding a recent referendum in the central African country that has been plagued by ethnic massacres for decades, the United Nations refugee agency reported today. "Better they die from hunger in an unknown country than die under machetes," the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) quoted one mother's explanation for sending her children into exile from Burundi, which is attempting to cement a fragile peace accord. A 15-year-old refugee told the agency a neighbour's child had said anyone who did not flee would be killed. Both Burundi and Rwanda have long suffered from waves of ethnic violence between majority Hutus and minority Tutsis, most notably in the Rwandan genocide of 1994, when Hutu extremists killed up to 800,000 Tutsis and Hutu moderates. "UNHCR is concerned that the worsening food shortage and reported rise in tensions in northern Burundi may negatively affect the return home of many Burundians," agency spokesman Ron Redmond told a news briefing in Geneva of the new refugees, made up of some 600 Tutsis and a group of Batwa pygmy people. He noted that UNHCR repatriated more than 90,000 exiles last year to Burundi, where a UN mission is helping to consolidate a power sharing accord, and expects to help 150,000 more return home from Tanzania this year. There are at least 400,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania, 250,000 of them in camps. The new arrivals fled Ngozi, Kirundo and Muyinga provinces in northern Burundi, a region suffering from severe food shortage due to lack of rain and a poor harvest. A number were in very poor health and severely malnourished, but they said they did not flee from hunger but out of fear after hearing rumours of violence over last month's referendum on a constitution, which gives Hutus 60 per cent and Tutsis 40 per cent of seats in the national assembly and paves the way for general elections later this year.
The Post (Buea) NEWS March 11, 2005 SCNC Wants UN Peace-Keeping Force By Kini Nsom The Southern Cameroons National Council, SCNC, has called on the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force to the English-speaking Provinces of Cameroon, Southern Cameroons. "The time is now for a United Nations peacekeeping mission to be put in the Southern Cameroons, if a cataclysm of uncontrollable proportions is to be averted between La Republique du Cameroun and the Southern Cameroons," Vincent N. Feko stated in a letter to the UN scribe last week. The letter was SCNC's reaction to the arrest and detention of its officials including Chief Ayamba, Chairman, and his Deputy, Nfor Ngala Nfor and four others in Menji, Lebialem Division last February 24. Security forces reportedly swooped on the SCNC officials when they were on a tour of Southern Cameroons. In the raid, the forces, on February 25, picked up one Christopher Nji, mistaking him for one of the SCNC activists. According to the SCNC scribe, such a move represents La Republique du Cameroun's 21st century barbarism, which is reminiscent only of the dark and middle ages. He said the SCNC delegation was on a tour to inform the population of the progress in the struggle for self-determination. They were also expected to brief their people on the recent move in which Southern Cameroons was admitted into the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation, UNPO. The SCNC officials wanted to tell the people that their case at the African Commission is making progress. Feko quoted several instances in which the brutal forces of La Republique du Cameroun have arrested SCNC officials and detained them on trumped-up charges. "We read daily, between the lines, a Rwanda type genocide in the offing as the weight of provocation in our people becomes progressively insupportable," Feko stated. "By this medium, sir," Feko continued, "with what is left of our humility and patience after the outrage, we come pleading that in the exercise of your good office, you may wish to give serious consideration to the question of immediate and unconditional release of Chief Ayamba and members of his delegation," he prayed Annan.
BBC 3 Mar 2005 UN denies killing Congo civilians Nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers were killed in an ambush A United Nations commander has denied claims that civilians were killed in an offensive by peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He said his men were careful to avoid harming villagers when more than 50 militiamen were killed in a gun battle in the north-eastern region of Ituri. An ethnic Lendu militia group in the region has been blamed for an ambush last week in which nine UN troops died. A local Lendu leader has accused the UN of wreaking indiscriminate revenge. Rescue "We say Monuc [the UN mission in DR Congo] is looking for vengeance, and they are seeking it against the Lendus without even verifying exactly who it was who carried out the massacre of the Bangladeshis," Larry Batsi Thewi told Reuters news agency. QUICK GUIDE The war in DR Congo Tuesday's clash took place near where the Bangladeshi troops were ambushed last week, outside Loga, 30 km (19 miles) north of Bunia, Ituri's provincial capital. "We only engage people who have weapons and who are firing at us," General Patrick Cammaert told AFP news agency. "The unit was extremely careful during the house-to-house search. Do peacekeepers have a right to fight? UN takes fight to militias "They rescued a number of civilians, elderly people who could not move and even a woman who had just give birth to a baby was pulled out of her burning house." Helicopter gunships and armoured vehicles were used in the operation against the militia, who are believed to be from the ethnic Lendu Nationalist and Integrationist Front (FNI). FNI leader Floribert Ndjabu has been arrested following the killing of the Bangladeshi peacekeepers. The UN Security Council has stood by its peacekeepers' strong action to flush out the militias. 'Know how to fight' Monuc head, General Jean-François Collot d'Escury, accused the militia groups of terrorising the local population and said an aggressive operation was under way to dismantle their camps. Thousands of people have fled ethnic violence in Ituri He said his message to the gunmen was straightforward: the UN peacekeepers know how to fight. The UN force in DR Congo is one of the world's largest, at more than 13,000. As part of the peace deal, which ended DR Congo's five-year war, former rebel fighters are being integrated into the army. But ethnic militias in Ituri have so far refused to disarm and have continued to fight for control over the region's rich natural resources. On Thursday, the international medical organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said at least 30 women are raped a week in Ituri. More than 2,500 rape victims, aged between four months and 80 years, were treated in its hospital in Bunia since June 2003, MSF said. Aid agencies have suspended help to displaced people in some areas following the recent violence. Some 50,000 people will be without food, water or medical help, and aid workers are now worried about the possibility of epidemics breaking out.
AP 6 Mar 2005 Children among militia in Congo: UN Children as young as eight and women are among the militia who have attacked several villages in Congo's violent Ituri province, killing dozens and forcing more than 70,000 from their homes, a UN spokesman said. Militias suspected of killing nine UN peacekeepers in north-eastern Congo have also taken thousands of people hostage to use as sex slaves and to ferry gold and other minerals, said UN spokesman Kemal Saiki. UN peacekeepers negotiated the release of more than 1,500 hostages early last month, and assisted another 3,700 who were kidnapped and later released by ethnic Lendu militia, said Major Aamer Zahid, spokesman for UN troops in Congo. It is unclear how many hostages are still being held by the militia, he said. UN peacekeepers killed as many as 60 militia fighters last week after being fired upon near the village of Loga, 30 km north of Bunia, the UN said. It is the largest number of militants killed by UN Congo peacekeepers during their six-year mission. For years, Lendu militia in the region have targeted members of their rival Hema tribe. Fighting between Lendu and Hema militia has killed more than 50,000 people since 1999, UN officials and aid groups say. Dozens have died in raids since December, prompting the UN to send peacekeepers to several areas in the region to provide security. More than 70,000 people are now living in temporary camps in the area, the UN said. Villagers in the village of Che - 60 km north of Bunia - said children and women were among their attackers in a raid last month, where 18 people were killed and hundreds of homes burned. "Men, women and even small children, from as young as 8 years, had weapons and were fighting," said Augusta Ngone, who now lives in a swarming camp for the displaced, with 15,000 other residents who fled attacks in the area. Saiki said it was customary for entire Lendu villages to attack their rivals, usually under the cover of early-morning darkness. Many survivors of Lendu raids have also said the attacks began with the blow of a bull horn. Lendu women are usually among those pulling the trigger, or looting after the killing is done, said Saiki. "During the day these women could be at home grinding manioc, and two hours later have a machete or AK-47 blowing you away," said Saiki. "In the Lendu community, everyone is a fighter." A human rights group in the capital, Kinshasa, is investigating claims by residents in Loga that women and children were among those killed last week by UN peacekeepers. The UN insists that peacekeepers fired only on combatants who were shooting at them. "The UN is not trigger-happy," said Saiki. The Ituri conflict is a bloody sideshow to Congo's five-year, six-nation war that killed nearly 4 million people, according to aid groups. The war ended in 2002, with the formation of a transitional government a year later. However that has struggled to extend its authority to the long-ungoverned east.
Reuters 10 Mar 2005 Poll: Congo War Is World's Top 'Forgotten' Crisis By REUTERS Filed at 5:22 a.m. ET LONDON (Reuters) - Brutal conflicts in Congo, Uganda and Sudan are the world's three biggest ``forgotten emergencies,'' each dwarfing the toll of the Asian tsunami but attracting scant media interest, a Reuters poll of experts showed on Thursday. War in Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed at least 10 times as many lives as the December tsunami yet remains almost unheard of outside of Africa, key players in the aid world said. ``It's the worst humanitarian tragedy since the Holocaust,'' said John O'Shea, chief executive of Irish relief agency GOAL. ``The greatest example on the planet of man's inhumanity to man.'' Reuters AlertNet, a humanitarian news Web Site run by Reuters Foundation, asked more than 100 humanitarian professionals, media personalities, academics and activists which ``forgotten'' crises the media should focus on in 2005. After Congo, they chose northern Uganda, west and south Sudan, West Africa, Colombia, Chechnya, Nepal and Haiti as the most neglected humanitarian hotspots. They also highlighted the global AIDS pandemic and other infectious diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis as ``silent tsunamis'' that kill millions every year. ``Africa experiences the devastating effect of two tsunamis every month,'' said Amy Slorach, appeal coordinator for British relief organization Tearfund. Many experts accused the Western media of routinely ignoring emergencies in countries of little geopolitical significance for big powers despite the enormous scale of suffering. ``One television news producer we met in the U.S. summed up the situation since spring 2003 this way: 'Look, we've got three foreign news priorities these days: Iraq, Iraq, Iraq,''' said Gareth Evans, head of the International Crisis Group think tank. ``And Iraq is not simply an American obsession. We've heard a similar refrain from news producers and newspaper editors again and again throughout Europe and elsewhere.'' KILLING IN AFRICA Almost half of those polled -- including U.N. relief coordinator Jan Egeland and U.S. leftwing intellectual Noam Chomsky -- nominated Congo, citing the brutality of an ugly, tangled war that has killed nearly 4 million people since 1998. Congo's war officially ended in 2003 but fighting still rages in parts of the east and the United Nations estimates that 3 million people are cut off from desperately needed aid. ``The human suffering is mind-boggling,'' said Lindsey Hilsum, international editor for Britain's Channel 4 News. ``The wickedness and cruelty of the armed men who kill and maim and rape defies belief.'' The details of northern Uganda's 18-year war, ranked second in the AlertNet poll, are just as shocking. More than 20,000 children have been abducted by a cult-like rebel group and forced to serve as soldiers and sex slaves, while most of the population in the conflict zone have been forced from their homes into squalid camps, say aid agencies. ``Like many people, I didn't have any idea of the scale of this conflict,'' said British Hollywod star Helen Mirren, who traveled to Uganda with relief agency Oxfam. ``Nearly two million people have been made homeless and hundreds of thousands more have been killed.'' OFF THE FRONT PAGES The experts' third most neglected emergency was Sudan, where Africa's longest-running civil war has raged for two decades in the south and almost two years of atrocities in the western Darfur region have raised the spectre of genocide. ``Darfur has slipped from the front pages, but the situation there is again going from terrible to being absolutely horrendous,'' U.N. relief coordinator Jan Egeland said. The poll also highlighted misery in West Africa after bloodletting in Liberia, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone, along with suffering in conflict-riven Chechnya, Nepal and Haiti. Experts urged the media not to ignore the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic sweeping sub-Saharan Africa and threatening to explode in India and China, the world's most populous countries. They also drew attention to lesser-known AIDS threats in Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and Papua New Guinea, along with other infectious diseases. Malaria kills an African child every 30 seconds, while tuberculosis kills about 2 million a year worldwide.
Reuters 3 Mar 2005 UN says no civilians killed in eastern Congo clash 03 Mar 2005 17:44:23 GMT Source: Reuters By David Lewis KINSHASA, March 3 (Reuters) - There were no civilians among 50 people killed by U.N. troops during a gunbattle with militia fighters in northeastern Congo, the U.N. mission said on Thursday, denying reports that bystanders were also killed. The battle on Tuesday at a militia camp near Bunia in the lawless Ituri district was the deadliest involving U.N. troops deployed in Congo and came five days after nine Bangladeshi peacekeepers were killed in the same area. The U.N. said around 50 militiamen were killed in the fighting between armed men from the Lendu ethnic group and U.N. troops hunting militiamen suspected of murdering civilians. An ethnic Lendu community leader in Bunia had said 25 people, including women and children, were killed. "There were no civilians amongst the victims. We killed 50 militiamen - this means people with arms who opened fire on us," U.N. spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Dominique Demange said. "Of course after an operation like this, there will be an inquiry to find out more," he told Reuters in Kinshasa. He said the inquiry would be jointly run by the U.N. peace mission and Congo's government but gave no further details. U.N. officials have accused the militias of using civilians as human shields during Tuesday's fighting. Ethnic warfare, mainly between ethnic Lendu and rival Hema factions, has killed 50,000 people in Ituri since 1999. The conflict is rooted in land and commercial rivalries in a region rich in gold, diamonds and timber. The fighting has endangered Congo's efforts to draw a line under a wider war which ended in 2003 and which killed nearly 4 million people, mainly from hunger and disease. Some Congolese in Bunia, Ituri's main city, reacted angrily to the U.N. action, seeing it as misplaced revenge for the peacekeepers' deaths. The slaying of the Bangladeshis was the worst single loss suffered by the U.N. mission in Democratic Republic of Congo. U.N. forces have previously been criticised for failing to crack down on Ituri's militias as they attack civilians. The head of the U.N. mission, William Lacy Swing, said on Wednesday the U.N. would act more robustly in future to protect civilians, and had the firepower and flexibility to get tough. Fighting this year between the militia foes in Ituri has forced 70,000 people to flee their homes. On Thursday, aid agency Medecins sans Frontieres said women and children were being gang raped in the region in what amounted to crimes against humanity. MSF called for all forces in Ituri to protect the tens of thousands of Congolese civilians fleeing the violence.
HRW 7 Mar 2005 D.R. Congo: Tens of Thousands Raped, Few Prosecuted Judicial Reforms Needed to Ensure Justice for Victims of Sexual Violence (Kinshasa, March 7, 2005) -- In eastern Congo’s conflict, government troops and rebel fighters have raped tens of thousands of women and girls, but fewer than a dozen perpetrators have been prosecuted by a judicial system in dire need of reform, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on the eve of International Women’s Day. The 52-page report, “Seeking Justice: Prosecution of Sexual Violence in the Congo War,” documents how the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken insufficient steps to prosecute those responsible for wartime rape. Human Rights Watch called on the Congolese government and international donors, including the European Union, to take urgent steps to reform Congo’s justice system. Despite the peace agreement and broad-based transition process in the D.R. Congo, which began in 2003, soldiers of the national army and armed groups continue to perpetrate sexual violence in the eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu and Orientale. In 1998, armed conflict broke out among the Congolese government, several neighboring countries and various rebel factions. Since then, combatants on all sides have subjected tens of thousands of women and girls—as well as a far smaller number of men and boys—to sexual violence. “Sexual violence has shattered tens of thousands of lives in Congo, but fewer than a dozen victims have seen their assailants prosecuted,” said Alison Des Forges, senior advisor to Human Rights Watch’s Africa division. “The Congolese government must reform its justice system to prosecute wartime rape effectively.” An increasing number of victims of sexual violence are demanding justice. “My husband does not want to live with me any more because I was raped by the Mai-Mai,” said one woman who, along with 11 others in Shabunda, South Kivu, was gang-raped by combatants belonging to the Mai-Mai, a local Congolese armed group opposed to foreign occupation. “The perpetrators must be punished,” she said. The International Criminal Court may prosecute a small number of cases of sexual violence. At the same time, the vast majority of such crimes will have to be tried in Congolese courts. However, the Congolese judicial system is in disarray. Judges and prosecutors generally fail to treat sexual violence as a serious offense. Superior military officers are not held accountable for crimes committed by combatants under their command. The handful of rape trials that have taken place have frequently resulted in violations of the rights of the accused and the victims. In one case in Bukavu, the defendant was not given an opportunity to choose his own legal representatives. Of his two lawyers, he met one the day before the trial, the other the day of the trial itself. Support for victims is virtually non-existent: While publicly testifying against a soldier who had raped her, an eight-year-old girl was retraumatized by the proceedings. Little preparation time, guidance or psychological support was given in the face of significant pressures. In addition, victims who bring charges receive no special protection from police or judicial authorities. “The Congolese government must make judicial reform a priority,” said Des Forges, “Support from international donors such as the European Union is essential for this effort.” Current national laws on rape and war crimes are inadequate and inconsistent with the requirements of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Transitional Parliament is considering a new law on crimes of sexual violence. A ministerial committee is also considering a law on Congolese cooperation with the International Criminal Court. Human Rights Watch called for measures that would assist victims of sexual violence in Congo. Women and girls who have suffered crimes of sexual violence must have their medical and psychological needs met. The report looks at the medical emergency surrounding widespread rape and calls for improved health services for victims, including those infected with HIV/AIDS. A woman told a Human Rights Watch researcher how, in May 2004, she watched her 13-year-old niece being raped by dissident combatants from the RCD-Goma (Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie, or Congolese Rally for Democracy–Goma) under Laurent Nkunda. “Four men raped her. They had spread her arms and legs and held her down,” the woman said. “I had been with her but hid in a banana tree and watched what happened. Afterward she started to vomit blood, we brought her to Kirotshe hospital, and she died two days later."
The Nation (Nairobi) ANALYSIS 7 Mar 2005 The Congo Was Not Always a Region of Death By Henry Owuor, Foreign Editor Nairobi A culture of non-violence, and is this with regard to the Democratic Republic of the Congo? Is this not the leading killing field in Africa, the same place where in any week, reports of massacres give the impression that there is some kind of race, reminiscent of the battle between the former Soviet Union and the US in the amassing of weapons of mass destruction? The irony is that this was not always the case. Since gaining independence in 1960, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's opposition rarely resorted to forceful means and that is why dictator Mobutu Sese Seko was able to rule Zaire for a cool 30 years until his flight in the face of advancing rebel forces in 1997. Among the main turning points in events that have shaped what is today's Democratic Republic of the Congo was the sad events in the east of the country that began with the assassination of the country's first Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba in the early 1960s, attempts at secession by rebels in the east of the country from as early as 1964 and finally the Rwanda genocide of 1994. The Rwanda massacre and the war waged by rebels led by Paul Kagame, leader of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, put in the spark that lit up eastern Congo as the defeated government army and their Hutu supporters, numbering close to a million fled into the Congo, upsetting the ethnic balance in the Kivus. Having fled into the Congo, the defeated Rwanda army decided to settle scores with Congolese Tutsis, the Banyamulenge, who had poor ties with the Mobutu regime. Amid the tension in the Congo, by 1996, Kagame decided to intervene to protect the Tutsis. At the same time, Uganda, which had been claiming that its rebels, the Lord's Resistance Army, the West Nile Bank Front and the Allied Democratic Forces had bases in the Congo, joined the battle. The anti-Mobutu war needed a Congolese ally. Exiles were the best bet. There already existed an alliance of Congolese parties in exile known as AFDL: Alliance des Forces Democratiques pour la Liberation du Congo, comprising four parties. Only one of the four leaders had some revolutionary clout. He was Laurent Desire' Kabila. The Rwanda, Uganda, Banyamulenge invasion was soon joined by Angola. There was also support from Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Omar el-Bashir in Sudan. The first Congo war was one with immediate needs but its impact lingers on. It took the combined force just seven months to march thousands of kilometres to the capital Kinshasa. By May 1997, Mobutu was on the plane fleeing into exile. However, by July 1998, relations between Kabila and the Rwandans had reached a boiling point and the Rwanda diplomatic mission in Kinshasa was ordered closed and all Rwandan military officers expelled. Joined by Uganda, Rwandan forces backed a rebellion by disgruntled elements in eastern Congo against the Kabila regime. But Kabila still had the support of Zimbabwe, Namibia, Libya and Sudan. The rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda advanced on Kinshasa, seizing the city's main hydro-electric plant. Kabila was saved by Angolan forces, which attacked the invaders as they advanced on Kinshasa. In the east, with key towns under the Rwandan and Ugandan invaders, a group of Congolese politicians came together in Goma and formed a grouping known as RCD: Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie. With none of the sides able to win the war, the country was split and it took the efforts of regional leaders among them Nelson Mandela who was then South African President for a meeting to be arranged in Lusaka in 1999. The Lusaka accord said all foreign forces should withdraw from the Congo. Another pillar of the Lusaka accord was its call for Congolese dialogue. This led to talks between the main protagonists in Congo. The main fighting groups were the FAC, or Forces Armies Congolaise, the government army, the MLC of Jean Pierre Bemba, RCD Goma of Azerias Ruberwa and the Mai Mai, a generic term of what were actually tribal militias. Other forces in the Congo and who the Lusaka accord wanted out were the former Armed Forces of Rwanda also known as the Interahamwe. There were also Burundian opposition forces - the FDD of Pierre Nkurunziza and a couple of anti-Museveni groups. Of the anti-Museveni groups, there were doubts over the existence of one of one - the People's Redemption Army (PRA) linked to exiled opposition leader Kizza Besigye. It was claimed that it did not exist and was just a creation of the Ugandan intelligence. In January 2001, Laurent Kabila was assassinated and his son Joseph took over. The arrival of the younger Kabila gave a boost to the Inter-Congolese dialogue. With the boost from the young Kabila, Congolese parties struck a deal and signed the Pretoria accord Pretoria on July 30, 2002. The accord provided for power-sharing under one President and four Vice-Presidents, the so-called one plus four system. With 62 ministers and assistant ministers, the Congo transition government is seriously segmented and does not work properly leading to clashes among armies that form the government as happened in Kivu at the end of last year. The key security apparatus of the government is the Maison Militaire that controls military and intelligence around Kinshasa without reference to the normal military command structure. The government has failed to deliver many of its goals among them the enactment of a new constitution. Among laws passed is one on a new army that includes the former rebels and one on the electoral commission. The government's two-year term ends in June this year. Any announcement of a delay in elections is likely to be met with protests. Says Mr Jim Terrie, a Senior Analyst with the International Crisis Group: "Having these elections and the extent that the majority of Congolese accept the results and there is legitimate democracy to lead the country, that is when work really starts." Mr Terrie adds that key elements of the transition government need to accept the results. Also watching are the political opposition, among them veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi and the Lumumbaist PALU party from Kasai. He says: "Kabila surely does not want to lose elections and so do his Katangaise allies."
Reuters 24 Mar 2005 Oromo: Ethiopia Clashes Kill Six in Dispute over Boundary At least six people were killed in a conflict sparked by disagreements over a referendum held to apportion areas contested by Ethiopia's Oromo and Somali ethnic groups, a U.N. aid agency said on Wednesday. The vote was held in a disputed area on the border between two of Ethiopia's nine federal states earlier this year, aiming to settle long-standing disagreements between Oromos and Somalis over where the boundary lies. "Six persons were killed and many others were injured in conflict between the Oromo and Somali ethnic group at Miesso, in the Oromia region of Western Haraghe on 15 February, 2005," the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement released in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The United Nations said British charity CARE UK had distributed food and other items to more than 2,557 people in the eastern region who had been forced to flee as a result of the conflict. The two ethnic group were still unable to reach any consensus over their differences over the contested areas, it added. Analysts said the clashes, coming ahead of parliamentary elections in May, underlined the volatile situation in parts of Ethiopia, which has an enormous range of ethnic and linguistic diversity in its population of almost 70 million.
The East African Standard (Nairobi) 26 Mar 2005 Wagalla Massacre: Families Demand Payment By Standard Reporter Nairobi Families of over 365 Kenyans of Somali origin, who were killed at Wagalla in 1984, yesterday jammed the High Court to demand compensation from the State. In a representative suit filed by a lobby group, Truth Be Told Network, the families want the High Court to declare that they are entitled to compensation from the Government. They also want the court to order an inquest into the killings, which took place in Wajir District. The families want the perpetrators of the massacre criminally held liable for their conduct. According to the suit papers, Kenyan security forces under the control and direction of then Northern Eastern Provincial Commissioner, Mr Benson Kaaria, rounded up about 5,000 men of the Degodia clan and forced them into Wagalla airstrip. The Degodia clan were systematically slaughtered in what was allegedly a well planned and orchestrated operation aimed at ethnic cleansing. The dead and injured were allegedly collected and put into lorries and then scattered in an area covering the entire northern districts. The lobby group claims it has over the years collected names of those who perished and to date 400 men have been identified.
VOA 3 Mar 2005 War Crimes Prosecutor: Former Liberian President Taylor Still a Threat By Gabi Menezes Abidjan The outgoing lead prosecutor for Sierra Leone's war crimes tribunal says former Liberian President Charles Taylor remains a threat to the stability of West Africa. Prosecutor David Crane wants Charles Taylor, who was indicted two years ago on 17 counts of crimes against humanity, to be brought before the war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone as soon as possible. "Charles Taylor hangs like a dark cloud over Liberia, and he needs to be turned over to the special court for Sierra Leone. He continues to meddle, not only in Liberia, but other countries within the region," he said. Human rights groups have called on Nigeria, where Charles Taylor now lives, to hand him to the special court. But Nigeria has said that it will not do so, unless Liberia makes the request. Mr. Crane says the former Liberian president is in contact with the current Liberian government, and, if Liberia holds elections, there is a danger that Mr. Taylor's party could win. Charles Taylor is accused of backing rebel movements in Sierra Leone's 11-year civil war, which left 50,000 dead. Critics of Sierra Leone's special court say that its authority has been undermined by its failure to try the former Liberian president. Mr. Crane, who will be leaving his post in July, says that he is proud of the accomplishments of the special court, where he has served for three years. He says Nigeria's decision to give asylum to Charles Taylor in 2003, when rebels besieged the Liberian capital, must be seen in context. "This was a political arrangement to get Charles Taylor out of Liberia, to ensure that peace could start," he said. "That is something I called for during my press conference, when I unsealed the indictment against him. And again, this is all part of a process. The peace has begun in Liberia, but now it's time for justice." A researcher for the Washington-based monitoring group, Human Rights Watch, Corinne Dufka, says it should have been made clear from the start that Mr. Taylor's Nigerian asylum was temporary. However, Ms. Dufka commends the general success of the war crimes tribunal, which she says has renewed Sierra Leoneans' faith in justice. She says that, for the first time, with the special court, you have people who are government ministers and people who have wielded a tremendous amount of power who are being brought to justice for their crimes. Human rights groups want the United Nations to put more pressure on West African countries to hand over Mr. Taylor to the court. Thousands of rebels and militia fighters have been disarmed in Sierra Leone, which has become one of the United Nations' biggest peacekeeping successes in Africa.
New Era (Windhoek) 10 Mar 2005 Murders Not Racial - Nau By Surihe Gaomas Windhoek Protect Your Children - Magistrate FARMERS' unions in Namibia have strongly condemned the rising incidents of farm murders and farm attacks in the country. The unions have also called for a national debate on the problem. This follows the recent gruesome murders of eight people at Kareeboomkolk farm south of Rehoboth. Two suspects aged 22 and 23 were arrested on Sunday by the police and charged with the massacre of six farm labourers and the fatal shooting of the owner and his wife, Rassie Erasmus and Elizabeth Maria Erasmus. One of the farm labourers is said to have been pregnant at the time of the murder. The unions believe that there have been rising incidents of murder and attacks over the past years on farms. Both the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) and the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) have expressed grave concern over the repeated murder of farmers and farm workers in Namibia. According to the latest statistics from the Namibia Agricultural Union, 10 cases of farm attacks and killings occurred on commercial farms in the country since December 2000. Last year, four such incidents were recorded in just two months alone. On August 1, 2004, farm owner, Tick Knouwds and his wife Eve were attacked on their farm near Stampriet. The next day, another farmer, Friedel Blume was shot at his farm near Grootfontein. According to the union report, there were more murders in September last year when Jan Dorfling and his wife Christie were attacked on their farm in the Summerdown vicinity on September 21. Not long thereafter, on September 28, Frikkie Theron was murdered on his farm Eldorado. Just before the grisly attack at Kareeboomkolk 65 kilometers from Windhoek, another farm owner near Tsumeb, Andries van Coller, was also killed. A farm worker Josef Naseb is currently in police custody in connection with this incident. Before independence, the commercial farming sector was mainly the domain of white farmers. However, soon after independence, this scenario changed as more black farmers acquired commercial farms. By the look of things, most of these attacks are primarily aimed at white commercial farm owners and their spouses, except for the latest incident where black farm labourers were brutally killed together with their employers at Kareeboomkolk. NAU executive manager, Sakkie Coetzee is adamant that the farm murders are not racially motivated. "All these murders have nothing to do with racism or what some people might see as poor working relations between farm owners and workers. This is just pure murder and theft, it has nothing to do with the relationship between the owner and its workers. Such deaths are unacceptable!" explained Coetzee. He added that ascribing these incidents to land evictions and poor labour relations is tantamount to taking the issue out of context. Referring to the latest massacre of eight people, Coetzee said this was just a revengeful attack by the suspects who had a grudge with the farm owner. "Mr Erasmus responded to a phone call where one of the workers needed to be taken to hospital. Unfortunately, when he came, this was where he met his death. As a farm owner, he was only responding to the needs of his workers," added Coetzee. Airing its condemnation of the latest attack, the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU) agreed that incidents of this nature were on the increase and called for urgent debate or dialogue at all levels of society. In a press statement, the union stated that race was not the motivating factor. Circumstances surrounding many of the farm murders vary significantly in terms of causes and the potential impact they have on individuals. "Especially in light of the latest incident, the reason is far from being racially motivated. If it was purely on racial grounds, then why kill the innocent black farm workers? It appears that the killing stems from a theft case involving murder suspects and this could be interpreted as a potential cause. In that respect, the Erasmus family as law abiding citizens have become double victims through the hands of the same criminals," stated the NNFU.
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 9 Mar 2005 Rwanda Counts Down to Historic Genocide Trials Kigali With less than 24 hours left before the start of the first proper trials in Rwanda's semi-traditional genocide courts known as Gacaca, organizers of the courts across the country were on Wednesday reporting full readiness for the trials in their communities. "All is now in place for us to begin trials tomorrow morning. People are ready to wake up early and head to the assembly points", said Jean Claude Gakumba, coordinator of Gacaca activities in the south Rwanda province of Butare. Butare, Rwanda's "intellectual capital" had the biggest total of victims during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. An estimated one million ethnic Tutsis and Hutus opposed to the genocide were killed across Rwanda in 1994. Since their start over three years ago, Gacaca courts have been in a pre-trial phase. They were established to speed up genocide trials and foster reconciliation. Over 10,000 courts are scheduled to be operating by early next year. Over 90% of the courts only began their pre-trial phase earlier this year. It is the 118 sector level courts, which began their work over three years ago, that will begin trial hearings on Thursday. "Most people will have been waiting for that day", says Alphonsine Mukakalisa, a Gacaca judge in the capital city Kigali. "Now that all preparations have been completed, let us pray that things go well from tomorrow onwards". The pre-trial phase has been received with different levels of enthusiasm across the country. "Nothing will stop us from commencing with trials tomorrow", says the coordinator of Gacaca courts in the west Rwanda province of Kibuye. But, he adds, "People here were quite mean with the truth during the pre-trials. People here are so quiet about what happened. Kibuye is difficult". Kibuye had one of the highest concentrations of ethnic Tutsis prior to the 1994 genocide. It also registered some of the highest numbers of victims. There is a different picture in the central Rwanda province of Kigali-Rural. "Overall, I think people here are looking forward to tomorrow. We received good turn-up and participation in the pre-trials", says Gacaca coordinator for Kigali-Rural province, Patrick Rwinkoko.
AFP10 Mar 2005 Confessions abound as first village genocide trials open in Rwandaby Helen Vesperini MAYANGE, Rwanda, March 10 (AFP) - In a spartan office in this rural town in central Rwanda, 33-year-old Jean-Damascene Habimana on Thursday became one of the first of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans accused in the country's 1994 genocide to stand trial before grass-roots courts. A crowd of several hundred watched as the confessed killer of three took the stand before a village tribunal to admit his role in the organized slaughter mainly by radical ethnic majority Hutus of minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus more than a decade ago. "I ask for forgiveness from all Rwandans, there are things in my heart that you cannot see," Habimana said, right hand raised after one of the nine judges hearing the case read his confession aloud and asked if he had anything to add. "I will even kneel, I won't change anything in my confession," he said. "In my heart, there is nothing I forgot, nothing to hide, but after ten years in prison it is possible that I forgot certain things." Immediately one of the villagers in the crowd stood up to protest. "He lied, he forgot something," the man said, accusing Habimana of taking 10,000 Rwandan francs to protect two children whom he later killed despite the payment. Scene similar to those here, some 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of the country's capital, played out across Rwanda on Thursday as genocide trials opened nationwide in so-called gacaca (pronounced "gachacha") courts. Based on the concept of a traditional tribal council, officials hope Rwanda's 12,000 gacaca courts will be able to clear a crippling backlog of genocide-related cases in Rwanda's more orthodox judiciary, which has to date managed to try fewer than 10,000 suspects. Some 800,000 Rwandans, about 10 percent of the population and a number equal to those killed in the 100-day genocide between April and July 1994, are to appear before the tribunals, which will try those who carried out the murders and hand down sentences ranging from community service to life in prison. Those accused of leadership roles in the killings are being tried by the UN-backed International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which sits in Arusha, Tanzania, or through the formal Rwandan court system. Some human rights organizations have criticized the use of gacacas, saying they deny the accused fundamental rights of due process. Those on trial must represent themselves and are not allowed access to attorneys, while the competence of judges -- panels selected by villagers for their supposedly good moral standing -- is far from assured, they say. Yet other groups have welcomed any measures that can reduce the number of prisoners in Rwanda's desperately overcrowded jails which currently house some 85,000 detainees, most of whom are genocide suspects. The apparently repentent Habimana benefitted from attempts to reduce the prison population, winning a temporary parole from jail in early 2003 pending his trial here by confessing to killing three people. Here and elsewhere in Rwanda, handfuls of other suspects with backgrounds similar to Habimana, some still in orange prison uniforms, waited their turn to testify as the first cases were called. The exectutive secretary of the gacaca process, Domitille Mukanaganzwa, has said the first priority of the tribunals is to deal with those genocide suspected who have already confessed. "If they were sincere in their confessions and those confessions are accepted by the jury, they will not return to prison but do community service," Mukanaganzwa said on the eve of the trials' opening. Under the gacaca rules, suspects who admit their crimes receive reduced sentences and those on provisional parole are eligible to have their terms reduced to time already served in prison. However, there is some concern that the arrangement may be prone to abuse from some suspects who make partial confessions in order to gain their release from overcrowded prisons.
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 14 mar 2005 Over 80 People Flee Rwanda as Gacaca Trials Begin Kigali Eighty three people are reported to have fled the Rwandan boarder province of Gisenyi (West) for fear of being indicted by community genocide courts, the Executive Secretary of the National Service for Gacaca Jurisdictions (NSGJ) told parliament on Monday. "Information we have indicates that people fearing indictment have been fleeing boarder areas", said Domitilla Mukantaganzwa. "We have been told of 83 in Gisenyi province. We haven't yet received figures for Ruhengeri (North), Cyangugu (South West), Butare (South) and Kibungo" (East), she added. The first trials began last week. Thirty four people have so far been judged by the courts. Gisenyi boarders the Democratic Republic of Congo. "There are also more people that are moving from their provinces to other parts of the country where no body knows them. Others have been disappearing from their houses only to return late in the night", she said. Mukantaganzwa said leaders were being asked to inform their communities that genocide fugitives would be apprehended from any where. Gacaca courts were set up over three years ago to speed up genocide trials and reconciliation.
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 15 Mar 2005 Gacaca Courts Might Indict Three Sitting Members of Parliament Kigali Rwanda's semi-traditional Gacaca courts might indict three seating members of parliament on genocide charges, a senior official told parliament on Monday. "We have reports of three members of parliament that have persistently evaded their communities where Gacaca courts want them to answer some questions on their role during the genocide", the executive Secretary of the National Jurisdiction of Gacaca Courts (NJGC), Domitilla Mukantaganzwa said. "They are (Etienne) Magali, Elysee (Bisengimana) and (Jean Baptiste) Butare", she added. "They should muster the courage to go to their communities and explain the allegations", Mukantaganzwa told a joint parliamentary session. "It is possible that these are just allegations. But it also wouldn't be a surprise that a member of parliament, a minister or another important person participated in the genocide", she added. Gacaca courts were set up three years ago to speed up genocide trials. The courts are presided over by persons of "impeccable integrity" elected by communities. The first trials began last week. "People are complaining that leaders are not being held accountable. That Gacaca is only targeting regular people", said Mukantagazwa. Two of the members of parliament mentioned (Bisengimana and Butare) represent the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), whereas Magali is from the Liberal Party (PL). Magali refuted allegations that he had refused to respond to calls from his community to answer allegations of genocide. "I attended Gacaca at Remera primary school. I met the leaders and told them that I was available whenever they need me", he said. Gacaca Executive Secretary Mukantaganzwa also warned leaders that "are trying to influence the courts to cover up for their crimes or those committed by other people". She said pilot courts (about 8% of total courts) have so far indicted 668 seating leaders ranging from the lowest administrative levels to "top end leaders". Mukantaganzwa was addressing Rwandan legislators on the state of Gacaca courts.
The New Times (Kigali) 14 Mar 2005 Gacaca Official Sacked By Dan Mugenza Kigali The Gacaca coordinator for Iyabarayi sector, Kabuga district, has been sacked for participating in the 1994 killings and threatening Genocide survivors. Ephraim Muhayimana was sacked by a recent meeting of 50 Gacaca judges who allege that Muhayimana mistreated Genocide survivors and forged documents to flee Genocide suspects. He is also accused of collaborating with Genocide suspects and forging statements incriminating innocent people with accusations of participating in the Genocide, according to one official who preferred to remain anonymous. The committee also accused two other sector Gacaca officials of collaborating with Muhayimana, a former soldier during the Habyarimana regime. Reports from witnesses say Muhayimana still hides fire arms and grenades he possessed in 1994, but never handed over to the authorities after the genocide. Another Gacaca meeting was scheduled to seat Thursday and determine whether to remand Muhayimana as more investigations are carried out.
The New Times (Kigali) 14 Mar 2005 'Ex-FAR, Interahamwe Sabotage Gacaca'- Official By Collins Muhozi Gisenyi There is increasing concern that ex-FAR and interahamwe militias infiltrate in the province from the DR Congo to discourage Gisenyi residents from participating in Gacaca. Francois Habimpfura Mugisha, the Provincial Gacaca Coordinator in the province said the militias penetrate the province from the Democratic Republic of Congo where they are based. They spread messages calling on the people to boycott the Gacaca courts saying that the courts will instead send people to prison instead of rendering justice. The messages they call on the masses to join militias to fight the Kigali Government rather participating in Gacaca. "Visits to some people, and using mail are among the methods that the militias use to reach their target audience," says Mugisha. He added that this has slowed down the information gathering phase of Gacaca. Mugisha explains that it is not only the interahamwe threatening Gacaca, but also local leaders both at the grassroots and at provincial level. Those involved are suspected to be accomplices to the militias. Some suspects have been arrested they include two mayor that were recently arrested. "You can't stop people to go because we don't even know the time they leave," said Mugisha, adding that so far 436 people suspected of Genocide crimes have been identified, and the number keeps on increasing as the Gacaca phases go on. According to the mayor of Nyamyumba Ms Sada Nikuze, more effort is needed to mobilize the residents about Gacaca in the district. According to the figures obtained from Gisenyi main prison, among 2377 prisoners, 1320 are accused of Genocide related crimes. Among them, 823 who were released following presidential decree, 33 were rearrested after it was discovered that they were trying to spread the Genocide ideology and calling on people to boycott Gacaca. The provincial chief prosecutor Damascene Habineza told The New Times that other people said to be boycotting Gacaca and all those suspected to be collaborating with the be militias. In an exclusive interview, the residents of Kanama district told this reporter that security is good, but people have refused to come clean of crimes related to Genocide. "Some leaders and residents hide the facts, we even fear to live with those that seem to frustrate Gacaca progress," says Jean Bosco Ntibarikure, a genocide survivor, who said they are still harassed and tortured, but thanked the police for intervening to curb the situation.
Guardian UK 15 Mar 2005 761,000 accused in Rwanda Associated Press in Kigali Tuesday March 15, 2005 The Guardian The secretary general of the Rwandan justice ministry said yesterday that at least 761,000 people should stand trial for their role in the country's 1994 genocide. General Johnston Busingye claimed that nearly a 10th of the 8.2 million population had been identified as having a role in the 100 days of violence in which more than 500,000 minority Tutsis and Hutu moderates died. Some 63,000 genocide suspects are being held after an inquiry by community-based courts in which people identified victims of the genocide in their districts and named those suspected of involvement. Three MPs and at least 50 local government officials resigned after they were charged at the traditional courts, which began hearing cases last week in an effort to speed up a 10-year-old judicial inquiry.
Sierra Leone see Liberia
BBC 1 Mar 2005 Sierra Leone prosecutor resigns Mr Crane promises justice will be done The chief prosecutor of Sierra Leone's war crimes tribunal is to step down. David Crane told the BBC that he had promised his wife he would only do the job for three years, which end in July. Nine people are currently on trial, accused of bearing the greatest responsibility for the killing, maiming and rape of thousands of people. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor has been indicted for his alleged role in the war and is fighting attempts to extradite him from Nigeria. The rebel RUF's campaign of violence included hacking off the limbs of civilians as a trademark act of terror. 'Off the streets' "I can assure you that justice will be done," Mr Crane told the BBC's Network Africa programme. Justice on trial Catalogue of horrors awaited He said that those who bore the greatest responsibility had been "taken off the streets". Apart from those on trial, other suspects have died. Mr Crane said he was still working to have Mr Taylor put on trial. He is accused of being the RUF paymaster. He resigned last year as part of a deal to end fighting in Liberia. Unlike the war crimes tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone is based where the alleged crimes occurred and draws on both national and international law. Special Court for Sierra Leone www.sc-sl.org
IRIN 7 Mar 2005 Third war crimes trial starts, AFRC leaders in dock 07 Mar 2005 18:01:14 GMT Source: IRIN FREETOWN, 7 March (IRIN) - Three leaders from a military junta accused of causing "pain and agony beyond human description" during Sierra Leone's civil war, stood in the dock on Monday as the country's third and final war crimes trial got underway. Prosecutors said the three defendants -- Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara and Santigie Borbor Kanu -- were all part of the governing body of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) which overthrew elected president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah in 1997 midway through the war and ruled for just 10 months. During their reign and after their fall from power, the AFRC group of disgruntled soldiers joined forces with the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF). The alliance culminated in "Operation No Living Thing", a devastating attack on the capital in 1999 which turned the city into an "oozing grave". "(They) swept down from the hills around Freetown and in a few weeks showed the world what this sad conflict really had degenerated into -- the rape, mutilation, maiming and murder of innocent civilians; the burning of their homes; the enslavement of the weak, women and children mostly," David Crane, the chief prosecutor, told the court in his opening statement. "The targets of these attacks were civilians and (they) were conducted to terrorise that population but also used to punish the population for failing to provide sufficient support to the AFRC/RUF or for allegedly providing support to the government or pro-government forces," Crane added. The AFRC trial is the last to open at Sierra Leone's Special Court, which is the first international tribunal to sit UN-appointed foreign judges alongside local ones in the country where the atrocities took place. The court aims to punish those bearing the "greatest responsibility" for the brutal war crimes, but some of the top suspects have managed to escape its clutches. These include Johnny Paul Koroma, the AFRC leader who went into hiding two years ago as well as the two men at the top of the RUF, Foday Sankoh and Sam Bockarie, who are now dead. Former Liberian president Charles Taylor, indicted for war crimes in Sierra Leone, is living in exile in Nigeria and has yet to be handed over. For some Sierra Leoneans, these high-profile absences have diminished the relevance of the trials. Others want justice, even if it is not perfect. On Monday as proceedings began in the court's second chamber, the prosecution promised to provide a wave of witnesses who would testify to atrocities committed or ordered directly by the three AFRC defendants. One young man would tell about being captured and taken to a rebel base at a primary school, Crane said. "One by one they were ordered to extend their hands and one by one their hands were severed with an axe.... The cuts were not clean, he will testify, and it took four blows before his hand fell to the ground, four long blows," he told the panel of three judges, headed by Teresa Doherty of Northern Ireland. Women would describe horrific gang rape, with sticks being inserted into their vaginas until they bled and bayonets being stabbed into their buttocks. Children would recount how the initials AFRC were carved onto their chests with a razor blade, Crane said. The three defendants from the military junta, who have spent more than a year in detention, have been charged with 14 counts of crimes against humanity. They deny the charges. Analysts expect the AFRC trial to wrap up later this year, but the two trials taking place in the Special Court's first chamber are expected to continue into 2006. The first trial against the leaders of the pro-government Civil Defence Force (CDF), including former interior minister Sam Hinga Norman, began last June. The second trial against the RUF hierarchy opened in July.
The Daily News (Harare) 2 Mar 2005 Ex-UN Commander Calls for Intervention Johannesburg A commander of a United Nations (UN) peace-keeping force during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda has warned there is urgent need for regional and international intervention to prevent Zimbabwe's political crisis from further deteriorating. Lt-Gen Romeo Dallaire, a Canadian who commanded the UN force during one of the worst genocides in human history, said lack of regional and international action on Zimbabwe was a perfect example of a lack of political will to prevent crises from developing. Lt -Gen Dallaire drew parallels between the strife in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan, where there is international inaction, and Zimbabwe which the SADC region and South Africa, in particular, have largely remained silent on. He issued the warning during his address at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria on Friday. Lt-Gen Dallaire lectures widely around the world on peacekeeping, providing an insight into his bitter experiences in Rwanda where about one million Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed between April and May 1994. He has also written a book on the genocide entitled Shake Hands with the Devil. "South Africa should not feel held back by its apartheid past from playing a far greater leadership role in the region," he said. "Lack of regional and international action on Darfur and Zimbabwe are perfect examples of a lack of political will to prevent crises developing." During the build up to the Rwandan genocide, Lt-Gen Dallaire repeatedly warned the UN Security Council and the United States government that there was an urgent need to intervene to help the tiny central African country from sliding into chaos. His fears were ignored. Instead, the UN Security Council and the United States reduced the number of the UN peace keeping mission in Rwanda that time preferring to boost its presence in Kosovo. This proved disastrous as Lt-Gen Dallaire's peace keeping mission could not help but just watch as Hutu extremists in Rwanda went on a killing spree of Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. Both the UN and the United States have publicly apologised for failing to react to Lt-Gen Dallaire's repeated warnings. Although the political situation in Zimbabwe could not be as tense as it was in Rwanda during the build-up to the massacres, observers fear the political situation could deteriorate if there is no immediate regional or international intervention. President Mugabe's Zanu PF government is blamed for using violence and intimidation to cow supporters of the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Journalists from the independent media and foreign correspondents have also been targeted by President Mugabe's government in its quest to silence any form of criticism to its maladministration and poor human rights record. Reports of violence and intimidation targeted at supporters of the MDC and journalists from the independent press and foreign correspondents are said to be on the increase ahead of the crucial March 31 election. Analysts have warned of disastrous consequences if the elections are held in an environment deemed to be heavily tilted in favour of the ruling party. During his brief stay in South Africa, Lt-Gen Dallaire met South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki and senior defence force members.
NYT 2 Mar 2005 OP-ED COLUMNIST The American Witness By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF American soldiers are trained to shoot at the enemy. They're prepared to be shot at. But what young men like Brian Steidle are not equipped for is witnessing a genocide but being unable to protect the civilians pleading for help. If President Bush wants to figure out whether the U.S. should stand more firmly against the genocide in Darfur, I suggest that he invite Mr. Steidle to the White House to give a briefing. Mr. Steidle, a 28-year-old former Marine captain, was one of just three American military advisers for the African Union monitoring team in Darfur - and he is bursting with frustration. "Every single day you go out to see another burned village, and more dead bodies," he said. "And the children - you see 6-month-old babies that have been shot, and 3-year-old kids with their faces smashed in with rifle butts. And you just have to stand there and write your reports." While journalists and aid workers are sharply limited in their movements in Darfur, Mr. Steidle and the monitors traveled around by truck and helicopter to investigate massacres by the Sudanese government and the janjaweed militia it sponsors. They have sometimes been shot at, and once his group was held hostage, but they have persisted and become witnesses to systematic crimes against humanity. So is it really genocide? "I have no doubt about that," Mr. Steidle said. "It's a systematic cleansing of peoples by the Arab chiefs there. And when you talk to them, that's what they tell you. They're very blunt about it. One day we met a janjaweed leader and he said, 'Unless you get back four camels that were stolen in 2003, then we're going to go to these four villages and burn the villages, rape the women, kill everyone.' And they did." The African Union doesn't have the troops, firepower or mandate to actually stop the slaughter, just to monitor it. Mr. Steidle said his single most frustrating moment came in December when the Sudanese government and the janjaweed attacked the village of Labado, which had 25,000 inhabitants. Mr. Steidle and his unit flew to the area in helicopters, but a Sudanese general refused to let them enter the village - and also refused to stop the attack. "It was extremely frustrating - seeing the village burn, hearing gunshots, not being able to do anything," Mr. Steidle said. "The entire village is now gone. It's a big black spot on the earth." When Sudan's government is preparing to send bombers or helicopter gunships to attack an African village, it shuts down the cellphone system so no one can send out warnings. Thus the international monitors know when a massacre is about to unfold. But there's usually nothing they can do. The West, led by the Bush administration, is providing food and medical care that is keeping hundreds of thousands of people alive. But we're managing the genocide, not halting it. "The world is failing Darfur," said Jan Egeland, the U.N. under secretary general for humanitarian affairs. "We're only playing the humanitarian card, and we're just witnessing the massacres." President Bush is pushing for sanctions, but European countries like France are disgracefully cool to the idea - and China is downright hostile, playing the same supportive role for the Darfur genocide that it did for the Khmer Rouge genocide. Mr. Steidle has just quit his job with the African Union, but he plans to continue working in Darfur to do his part to stand up to the killers. Most of us don't have to go to that extreme of risking our lives in Darfur - we just need to get off the fence and push our government off, too. At one level, I blame President Bush - and, even more, the leaders of European, Arab and African nations - for their passivity. But if our leaders are acquiescing in genocide, that's because we citizens are passive, too. If American voters cared about Darfur's genocide as much as about, say, the Michael Jackson trial, then our political system would respond. One useful step would be the passage of the Darfur Accountability Act, to be introduced today by Senators Jon Corzine and Sam Brownback. The legislation calls for such desperately needed actions as expanding the African Union force and establishing a military no-fly zone to stop Sudan from bombing civilians. As Martin Luther King Jr. put it: "Man's inhumanity to man is not only perpetrated by the vitriolic actions of those who are bad. It is also perpetrated by the vitiating inaction of those who are good."
HRW 2 mar 2005 Darfur: Militia Leader Implicates Khartoum Janjaweed Chief Says Sudan Government Backed Attacks (New York, March 2, 2005) — A top Janjaweed leader says the Sudan government backed and directed militia activities in northern Darfur, according to a videotape released by Human Rights Watch today. Widely regarded as the top Janjaweed leader in Darfur, Musa Hilal was interviewed over the course of several hours by Human Rights Watch researchers in Khartoum in September 2004. Since then, he has largely stopped giving interviews to the media and other foreign visitors. Hilal states that the government of Sudan directed all military activities of the militia forces he had recruited. “All of the people in the field are led by top army commanders,” he told Human Rights Watch on videotape. “…These people get their orders from the Western command center, and from Khartoum.” “Musa Hilal squarely contradicts the government’s claim that it has ‘no relationship’ with local militias,” said Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division. The Sudan government has said that any atrocities in Darfur are the fault of Janjaweed “bandits” and are the result of recurring ethnic clashes in Darfur in which the government is “neutral.” “We now see that the two parties responsible for crimes against humanity in Darfur are pointing the finger at each other,” said Takirambudde. “Musa Hilal is a dangerous man for the Sudanese government. His testimony could be very interesting to the International Criminal Court.” Although many eyewitnesses have named Musa Hilal as a leader of militia forces responsible for some of the most brutal attacks in Darfur, in the videotape he denies any leadership role and says his followers have not committed atrocities. However, several eyewitnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch described how Musa Hilal came to the central market in Kebkabiya in North Darfur twice in January 2004 with his forces, and addressed the crowds about his militia forces’ great ‘victories’ in outlying areas against the rebel forces. The eyewitnesses said that Musa Hilal was not only uniformed and armed, but also claimed to have led his followers to these military victories. Musa Hilal’s forces were initially recruited from among his tribesmen in North Darfur, and have been active for several years around the Kebkabiya area, where Human Rights Watch conducted research in October 2004. Many witnesses in Kebkabiya told Human Rights Watch about the location and activities of Musa Hilal’s forces. They reported that Misteriya town is the location of Hilal’s militia camp near Kebkabiya, where he and Hassim Mangari of the Sudan army are commanders. Musa Hilal is known for taking women prisoners and holding them at Jebel Jur (meaning “hunger mountain”) west of Misteriya. Many of the women have not returned to date. Some witnesses spoke of militia members who committed atrocities in the name of Musa Hilal. Others said that their former Arab neighbors and Janjaweed militia prevented them from returning to their fertile farming land outside Kebkabiya: one group of women trying to return in Merguba, outside of Kebkabiya and two and a half hours from Misteriya by donkey, were told by their former Arab neighbors, ‘This [Merguba] is the land of Musa Hilal. You must not go and take anything from there.’ Darfur government documents in the possession of Human Rights Watch refer to official Sudanese government support for Musa Hilal. In a memo dated February 13, 2004 from the office of a sub-locality in North Darfur, the authorities urge all “security units in the locality” to “allow the activities of the mujahedeen and the volunteers under the command of Sheikh Musa Hilal to proceed in the areas of [North Darfur] and to secure their vital needs.” The memo continues, “We also highlight the importance of non-interference so as not to question their authorities and to overlook minor offences by the mujahedeen against civilians who are suspected members of the rebellion….” Human Rights Watch researchers conducted the video interview with Musa Hilal on September 27, 2004 in Khartoum. Since then, he has largely refrained from giving interviews to the media. Click here for the transcript of the Human Rights Watch interview with Musa Hilal. Click here for the exact English translation of excerpts from Human Rights Watch’s interview with Musa Hilal.
washingtonpost.com 6 Mar 2005 Crime of Crimes Does It Have to Be Genocide for the World to Act? By David Bosco Sunday, March 6, 2005; Page B01 On Feb. 1, the United Nations issued a finding that sounded like hopeful news about one of Africa's worst conflicts. "UN report clears Sudan government of genocide in Darfur," reported Agence France-Presse. "UN Panel Sees No Genocide in Darfur," a St. Petersburg Times headline on a Reuters wire story said the next day. "Report on Darfur Says Genocide Did Not Occur," read another in the New York Sun. The headlines said more about the mindset of the people reading the report than they did about the long-awaited investigation by the U.N. commission of inquiry on the conflict in western Sudan. The 176-page document provided a litany of misery and blamed the government in Khartoum. But to many readers, it appeared to have let Sudan's leaders off the hook by not branding their actions as genocide, as the Bush administration and U.S. Congress had already done. It's not as though the report gave Sudan a seal of approval. It detailed extensive atrocities authorized by the Sudanese government and carried out by Janjaweed militias. Its authors concluded that the government and militias conducted "indiscriminate attacks, including killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement throughout Darfur." They added that the government's brutal campaign had displaced more than 1.5 million people. But for many news editors and readers, one conclusion overshadowed all the rest: There was no genocide in Darfur, after all. In considering whether and where to intervene, one question has assumed talismanic significance: Is it genocide? In the words of judges on the international tribunal for Rwanda, genocide is the "crime of crimes." Such a finding has become a signal for the world to act. But as the Darfur report shows, genocide is an unreliable trigger. For all its moral power, genocide is both hard to document and linked to questions of race, ethnicity and religion in a way that excludes other -- similarly heinous -- crimes. Intended as a clarion call, the term itself has become too much of a focal point, muddling the necessity for action almost as often as clarifying it. Few issues have been more important in the last decade than reacting to the bloody civil conflicts that still haunt many parts of the globe. The current film "Hotel Rwanda" hammers audiences with the tale of the world's shameful failure to stop the 1994 Rwandan massacres. Looking to the genocide label to motivate international intervention in places like Rwanda, however, overlooks two sad truths: Widespread slaughter can demand intervention even if it falls outside of the genocide standard. And the world is quite capable of standing by and watching even when a genocide is acknowledged. To a remarkable extent, the term genocide was the product of one man's work. As Samantha Power recounts in her recent book " 'A Problem From Hell': America and the Age of Genocide," Raphael Lemkin placed the term into public discourse and international law through sheer willpower. A Polish Jew who narrowly escaped the Nazis, Lemkin was instrumental in drafting and winning support for the 1948 Convention on the Prevention of Genocide. He wanted a law that captured the unique horror of a concerted campaign to deny a specific group's right to exist, and that is what he got. In international law, genocide is a crime of specific intent -- it requires that the guilty parties intended to destroy all or part of an ethnic, racial, national or religious community. Identifying that intent can be a difficult struggle. In 1995, Bosnian Serb forces killed 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the besieged town of Srebrenica. It was Europe's worst massacre since World War II. But when the U.N. tribunal finally got hold of one of the Bosnian Serb generals who had been at Srebrenica, it found him guilty only of aiding and abetting genocide -- not actually committing it. "Convictions for genocide," that court said, "can be entered only where intent has been unequivocally established." Try as they might, the prosecutors in that case could not document the Serb officer's intent. If getting inside the mind of the killers is one complication, identifying and classifying the victims is another. The commission investigating Darfur, for example, immersed itself in the details of local tribal structures as it tried to puzzle out whether the victims of that conflict fit under the definition of genocide. "The various tribes that have been the subject of attacks and killings," the report conceded, "do not appear to make up ethnic groups distinct from the ethnic group to which persons or militias that attack them belong." Only after lengthy analysis did the authors conclude that the victimized population in Darfur was a different tribe and therefore a "protected group." But they were still unable to identify the intent needed to show genocide. Documenting genocidal intent and determining whether the victims are part of a protected group eats up time when time is of the essence; a few weeks of concentrated violence killed more than 800,000 people in Rwanda. Waiting for the lawyers to decide is perilous, as became apparent once again when the Sudan commission released its report. To many observers, it appeared that the U.N. experts were downgrading the Darfur crisis when it was really struggling -- in good lawyerly fashion -- to meet a high evidentiary burden. Perversely, the intense focus on genocide has allowed a U.N. report that documents widespread atrocities to serve as moral cover for continued official lethargy. The United States has been the leading player in diplomatic efforts in the Sudan, but has not pushed as aggressively as it could for sanctions. Europe -- and France, in particular -- has talked a good game but done little. Russia and China, both U.N. Security Council members, have made only the weakest gestures of concern. And so staunching the bloodshed in Darfur has been left to a small, ill-equipped force from the African Union (A.U.), a regional economic and security organization. There is an alternative to this intense focus on genocide. The category of "crimes against humanity" -- first used to describe the massacres of Armenians after World War I and then codified at the Nuremberg trials -- is simpler and broader but still morally powerful. It encompasses large-scale efforts to kill, abuse or displace populations. It avoids messy determinations of whether the victims fit into the right legal box and whether the killers had a sufficiently evil mindset. Do we really care, after all, whether the victims of atrocities are members of a distinct tribe or simply political opponents of the regime? Moving beyond what has by now become a warped diplomatic parlor game (who will say the G-word first?) would have the added benefit of shifting the debate from the abstract to the practical. The word genocide may be too powerful for its own good. It conjures up images of a relentless and irrational evil that must be confronted massively. It is almost paralyzing. We are used to fighting crime; genocide seems to require a crusade. There are small but concrete steps that the United States could take to fight the mass killings and crimes in Darfur, without sending a U.S. combat force. The most critical step would be to bolster the African Union force there now. For almost a decade, the United States has sought to strengthen Africa's ability to tend to its own crises. That effort -- and tens of thousands of lives -- are on the line in Sudan. The A.U. has promised a force of almost 3,500 troops, but only about half of them have arrived. Getting those soldiers to Darfur fast may require airlift capacity that is a U.S. specialty. And the fragile A.U., which is struggling to bear the costs of the Sudan operation, needs immediate cash infusions. Both the United States and Europe have pledged funds, but they have been slow in coming. The Darfur Accountability Act, introduced in the U.S. Senate last week, calls for increased aid to the A.U. force, as well as a military no-fly zone and a tight arms embargo. It's a start. If the government in Khartoum gets in the way, the Security Council should impose tough and targeted sanctions. And if China and Russia get in the way of the Council, the United States and Europe should act without it. The United States and Britain (which has gone furthest in discussing a deployment) should send their own small tripwire force to accompany the African monitors. Some of these measures may require a U.S. policy that borders on unilateralism. But this administration has not shown undue patience with or deference to the often dysfunctional and amoral U.N. Security Council -- and there's no reason to start now. As Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld put it in another context, "the mission defines the coalition." And the mission of fighting crimes against humanity must be a central one, as it was in Bosnia and Kosovo and should have been in Rwanda and at an earlier stage in Sierra Leone. Realities, not labels, should define our response. The word genocide, rightly, has a unique moral impact. But the concept -- and the interminable debate about its boundaries -- must not become the issue. When the world chooses to immerse itself in terminology rather than take action, it does today's very real victims no good at all. Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org David Bosco is a senior editor at Foreign Policy magazine.
HRW 7 Mar 2005 U.N.: U.S. Seeks to Delay Justice for Darfur Annan Convenes Security Council; ICC Referral Needed Now (New York, March 7, 2005) – After its meeting today with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Security Council should take urgent steps to protect civilians in Darfur and refer the situation to the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch said. Meanwhile, the United States has proposed a 45-day delay in taking a decision on justice for Darfur’s victims. Today at 10 a.m., Annan will convene a meeting with the Security Council to discuss options for more decisive action to stop ongoing killing and rape in Darfur. Twelve of the Security Council’s 15 members are on record in support of referring Darfur to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as part of a Sudan resolution that is currently under negotiation. However, the Bush administration opposes an ICC referral because of its ideological aversion to the court. The United States has instead proposed creating a new ad hoc tribunal for Sudan that has serious flaws, Human Rights Watch said. In the face of no support for this proposal, the United States is now seeking a 45-day delay to make a decision on accountability. Human Rights Watch would oppose any attempts to split the Sudan resolution in order to defer justice for later consideration. “As killing and rape continue in Darfur, the United States now proposes further delay,” said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration’s rearguard campaign to avert an ICC referral is putting innocent civilians at risk in Darfur.” Eyewitnesses in South Darfur recently told Human Rights Watch about how government-backed Janjaweed militia attacked villages in the Labado area in December and January, and singled out young women and girls for rape. Male relatives who protested were beaten, stripped naked, tied to trees, and forced to watch the rape of the women and girls. On January 25, 2005, a U.N. Commission of Inquiry for Darfur strongly recommended that the Security Council refer the situation to the ICC to hold accountable those most responsible for atrocities in Darfur. Although the U.S. government has publicly called the crimes in Darfur “genocide” and indeed sponsored the resolution that created the U.N. Commission of Inquiry, it has ignored the commission’s findings that the ICC is the “single best mechanism” and “only credible way” to ensure justice is done. “Twelve of the Security Council’s 15 members want the ICC to start investigating crimes in Darfur,” said Dicker. “Washington’s proposed delay would send the message that the council is unable to call to account those most responsible for committing atrocities in Darfur.” Human Rights Watch has prepared a backgrounder detailing why the U.S. proposal for a Sudan Tribunal would fail to effectively handle the challenges of ensuring justice for atrocities committed in Darfur. Excerpts from the U.N. Commission of Inquiry’s report also discuss why mechanisms other than the ICC are not advisable.
Tanzania - ICTR
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 9 Mar 2005 The Issue of Ethnicity `Never Arose' At Road Blocks, Alleges Witness Arusha The thirteenth witness in defence of the former Rwandan minister of Family and Women Affairs, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, denied that road blocks mounted across Butare prefecture (South Rwanda) during the 1994 massacres were meant to check ethnicity of the citizens. Nyiramasuhuko is on trial for genocide, with five other persons from her native prefecture of Butare at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). "In all the road blocks, the issue of ethnicity never arose," the witness, known as WKNNC1 to protect his identity, told Trial Chamber Two. The witness was responding to the President of the Chamber, Judge William Hussein Sekule of Tanzania. The Judge asked if such an issue was never raised as he was going back home from Butare town to his native Gikongoro prefecture in April 1994. The prosecution holds that during the massacres, road blocks were mounted throughout the country by Rwandan armed forces and the Interahamwe militia to net Tutsis and moderate Hutus who were the target of the massacres. WKNNC1 elaborated that when one came across a road block soldiers would take your identity card and check if the picture corresponded with the actual face of the owner, cross check the region where you came from and where you were heading for. Earlier during the examination in chief by Nicole Bergevin, Canadian lead counsel for the accused Nyiramasuhuko, the witness denied that he heard the accused ordering abductions and rapes of Tutsi women in Butare. Last week another defence witness who preceded this witness, code-named WKNKI, gave a similar denial when asked about the orders. WKNC1 said that he was in Butare town between April 16 and 26, 1994 but denied seeing Nyiramasuhuko and her son and co-accused, Arsene Shalom Ntahobali. The trial continues Wednesday. Other defendants in this trial are two former prefects of Butare, Sylvain Nsabimana and Alphonse Nteziryayo and two former mayors, Joseph Kanyabashi and Elie Ndayambaje. They all pleaded not guilty on all charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. The trial commenced on June 12, 2001. The case is before Trial Chamber Two presided over by Judge William Hussein Sekule (Tanzania) . He is assisted by Judge Arlette Ramaroson (Madagascar) and Judge Solomy Balungi Bossa of Uganda.
AP 15 Mar 2005 6 YEARS FOR GENOCIDE ROLE A United Nations tribunal sentenced a 60-year-old former local government official to six years in prison, its lightest sentence so far, after he pleaded guilty to committing crimes against humanity and apologized for his role in the 1994 genocide. He was just the fourth person to plead guilty and was accused of directing Hutus to kill thousands of Tutsis who had sought refuge in a church in western Kibuye Province. The court has convicted 21 people and acquitted 3 since it was set up in November. Currently, 25 people are on trial with 18 others waiting.
Zimbabwe see South Africa
March 8, 2005 O.A.S. to Reopen Inquiry Into Massacre in El Salvador in 1981 By IAN URBINA ASHINGTON, March 7 - The Organization of American States will reopen an investigation this week into the massacre of hundreds of peasants in 1981 at El Mozote, El Salvador, based on new forensic evidence found by anthropologists at the site, according to lawyers involved in the case. More than 800 unarmed peasants were killed in December 1981 by soldiers from the Salvadoran Armed Forces at El Mozote, a village in the mountains of the Morazán region, near the country's southern border. The soldiers, from a battalion trained and equipped by the United States, accused the peasants of sympathizing with guerrillas. The O.A.S. is looking into whether the Salvadoran government approved the killings. The decision to revisit one of the most gruesome events of the country's 12-year conflict will come as unwelcome news to the Salvadoran government, which has never conducted an independent and impartial investigation of its own. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a division of the O.A.S., is conducting the investigation. Recent efforts by lawyers in El Salvador to reopen the case, which was shelved in 2000, had repeatedly failed, even after a court ruling that year stripped protection under the national amnesty law from suspects in the most egregious human rights violations. "They say that we should put this behind us," said Rufina Amaya, the only resident of El Mazote known to have survived. "But we cannot forget what happened." The evidence in the case comes from the work of an Argentine team of forensic anthropologists that completed its work in 2003. "What we found proved to be highly consistent with witness testimony of the incident," said Mercedes Doretti, a member of the forensic team. She said 811 people were killed at El Mozote and surrounding hamlets. Most of the 271 bodies that the group exhumed were shot multiple times at close range, and 195 of them were children younger than 12, she said. "The families of the dead have struggled for years to get justice," said Alejandra Nuño, a lawyer from the Center for Justice and International Law, an organization based in Washington that is representing many of the families of the dead. "This case may finally provide us what we've been unable to get from our own government." The reopening of the case could hurt the candidacy of Francisco Flores, president of El Salvador from 1999 to 2004, for secretary general of the O.A.S. Mr. Flores is running against José Miguel Insulza, Chile's interior minister, and Luis Ernesto Dérbez, Mexico's foreign minister. The election will be held by the end of March. If the Commission on Human Rights finds enough evidence tying the Salvadoran government to the killings, the case will go to the Inter-American Court. Though it is unlikely that the court's decision would result in jail time for those involved, the court could demand that the government conduct an investigation of the incident and require payment of reparations to the families of those who died or disappeared. At the time, Salvadoran officials denied reports of the massacre, first published in The New York Times and The Washington Post. Hoping to avoid a Congressional halt to aid to the Salvadoran military, officials of the Reagan administration also dismissed the reports. Families seeking justice in American courts for atrocities during the war have met with limited results in recent years. On Monday, a State Department spokeswoman said she could not comment on the reopening of the investigation into El Mozote until it was officially announced.
BBC 7 Mar 2005 Spain seeks 9,138-year jail term - Scilingo's trial is the first for crimes against humanity in another country Spanish prosecutors have requested a prison sentence of 9,138 years for an Argentine ex-naval officer accused of crimes against humanity. Adolfo Scilingo, whose trial started in mid-January, faces 30 counts of genocide, 30 of murder, 93 of physical injury and 255 of terrorism. The crimes were allegedly committed in the "Dirty War" of the 1970s/80s when Argentina was under military rule. This is Spain's first trial involving human rights crimes committed abroad. "The government seeks a guilty verdict as it believes that charges have been duly backed up at the trial," said prosecutor Dolores Delgado in the closing arguments at the National Court in Madrid. Mr Scilingo, 58, now denies the charges. But in 1997 he went to Spain voluntarily and testified before Judge Baltasar Garzon, who was investigating crimes committed during Argentina's and Chile's military dictatorships. 'Subversive mentality' In a taped confession, Mr Scilingo spoke of the so-called "death flights", in which dissidents were stripped naked and thrown alive into the ocean from military planes. He admitted taking part in two flights and spoke of other tortures committed at the Buenos Aires Navy School of Mechanics, which was used as a torture centre at that time. Mr Scilingo later retracted his confession, saying his testimony was fabricated in order to prompt an investigation into the atrocities committed under the regime. But Ms Delgado said the descriptions of tortures and torture centres, with their "infernal sounds" and "nauseating smell" made by victims, coincided fully with those made by the former officer. "Scilingo had a need to talk and be judged, and that has been proved in the trial," she said. Mr Scilingo also described how the children of pregnant detainees were taken away for adoption to prevent them from "falling into the subversive mentality of their parents". According to human rights groups, up to 30,000 political opponents were kidnapped, detained and later executed between 1976 and 1983. Under Spanish law, prison terms cannot exceed 40 years, but for convicted members of Basque separatist group Eta it is not uncommon to be handed down sentences of hundreds or even thousands of years.
Edmonton Journal 5 Mar 2005 www.canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal Massacre changes political tone Deaths of RCMP officers fuel tough talk against crime, overwhelm other issues Graham Thomson The Edmonton Journal Saturday, March 05, 2005 More Columns By This Writer :: Lots of blame for ambulance fiasco :: Dinning pops up at premier occasions :: Throne speech overtaken by events :: Klein Air: Catering to ministers on a mission or flights of fancy? :: Goodale took politically-efficient road :: Only public inquiry will lift pall It might yet become a huge political issue in the spring session of the Alberta Legislature, but nobody is willing to talk about it -- yet. The murder of four RCMP officers in Mayerthorpe is still too fresh, too confusing, too horrific. But the Alberta Liberals have already subtly suggested they're waiting to pounce on the government. On Thursday, when word first reached the floor of the Assembly about an "incident" involving the RCMP and gunfire near Mayerthorpe, Liberal Bruce Miller expressed his respect and concern for the police. Then added: "Now is not the time to talk about issues that we must face in the future, like the underfunding of our police service in Alberta and dealing with gangs." Was underfunding an issue in this shooting? Or gangs? Everybody has a theory. Almost nobody has the facts. Grief is clouding the air. Put them all together and you get the makings of an uneven political debate. That can be a dangerous thing. Emotionally driven debate is the political equivalent of running with scissors. About all we know for sure as I write this is that four officers were slaughtered. One police officer murdered is a tragedy. Four is a calamity. Something, somewhere in the system failed. And that makes it political. Already politicians at the provincial and federal levels are talking about getting tougher on crime. "I am more committed than ever towards the dismantling of organized crime in every region of this province. In the immediate future I will be presenting a strategy to my government colleagues that will address this issue," said Alberta Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko, a former police officer himself who looks and sounds like he hasn't slept a wink since he got word of the shootings. Some politicians are calling for tougher laws on guns or marijuana. But was a marijuana grow op the catalyst here? How do you stop criminal cop-haters from getting guns? Federal Liberals gathered in Ottawa for their first policy convention in five years heatedly debated the government's marijuana decriminalization legislation. At the same time, some politicians are wondering if legalizing marijuana would be a way to put the grow ops out of business. Everything seemed much simpler and more innocent just a few days ago when the big issues were the use of government aircraft, more money for post-secondary education and the grizzly bear hunt. As recently as Wednesday morning, we all thought the United States border would be reopening to live Canadian cattle this coming Monday. Premier Ralph Klein was planning to attend an "Open the Border Celebration" today in Cochrane. On Wednesday afternoon, a U.S. judge bolted the border shut before it even had a chance to open. Klein complained about the politically driven unfairness of it all. Of course, we have our man in Washington, former energy minister Murray Smith, who is referred to now as our "envoy" to the U.S. capital. But what he is doing, or what he can do, is still a bit of a mystery. What isn't a mystery is the level of animosity developing in the legislature between the government Conservatives and the lone Alliance MLA, Paul Hinman. On Thursday, the Conservatives refused to give Hinman unanimous consent to respond to Klein's ministerial statement on the border closure to Canadian beef. In the past the Conservatives have allowed opposition MLAs without official party status to respond to ministerial statements as a courtesy. But Hinman is neither well liked nor well respected by many government members. Some accuse him of showboating and want him taken down a peg. Others are still upset he defeated Broyce Jacobs, an MLA popular in the Tory caucus. They are not sympathetic to Hinman's fight for more time in question period. Hinman will be lucky to get one question a week because he's deemed to be a simple MLA with no party status. Hinman wants one question a day. The opposition Liberals and New Democrats would be happy to see Hinman get more floor time because the right-wing Alliance is more a threat to the government than it is to the centre-left parties. Interestingly, there was a simmering debate among Tory MLAs earlier this week whether it's better for them to keep Hinman on a short leash or give him enough rope in question period to hang himself with his right-wing views. That debate seems like something out of a different era -- a time when the $7-billion BSE crisis seemed to be coming to an end and four RCMP officers had yet to pay a visit to what seemed to be a quiet farm near Mayerthorpe.
IPS 10 Mar 2005 Bank to compensate victims Inter Press Service. Mar 10, 2005 Activists and relatives of the victims of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-90) praised the accord reached in late February between the Riggs National Bank, based in Washington DC, and Spanish lawyer Joan Garcés, in the framework of the legal process Spain is carrying out against the former dictator for genocide, terrorism, torture, robbery of goods and money laundering. Garcés, lawyers for plaintiffs in the cases against Riggs Bank and Pinochet in Spain agreed with the financial entity to hand over "background documents of the movements of the accounts of the accused Augusto Pinochet" to Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, who is hearing the case against him. "We believe that the accord is very important, above all because Riggs Bank pledged to hand over all the information that it possesses on Pinochet's accounts," said Viviana Díaz, secretary general of the Grouping of Families of Detained Disappeared, which Garcés represents in Spain. Riggs also pledged to donate US$9 million to the President Salvador Allende Foundation, based in Spain, which will be distributed to among the victims. In return, Garcés withdrew the criminal lawsuit against the bank's owners and other officials who appear as co-signers of the former dictator's accounts. In July last year, a Senate report revealed that between 1996 and 2002 Pinochet held between $4 million and $8 million (LP, Aug. 25, 2004) in the bank. On Jan. 27 Riggs acknowledged its responsibility in having hidden Pinochet's accounts.
Deutsche Welle 11 Mar 2005 www.dw-world.de Former Nazi Pedophile Nabbed in Argentina Old and wheelchair-bound but glaringly guilty -- Paul Schäfer German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer on Friday hailed the arrest of former Nazi Paul Schaefer in Argentina and said he hoped it would shed light on alleged child sex abuse at a shady sect he led in Chile. Paul Schäfer, 83, was arrested in the community of Tortuguitas, a town 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Buenos Aires along with six people described as his security team, Argentine police said. Schäfer was the charismatic leader of a notorious German enclave in southern Chile called "Colonia Dignidad." He has been hiding since a warrant for his arrest on multiple counts of pedophilia was issued in August 1996. Schäfer was convicted of the charges in November 2004 along with 22 other Dignidad members. "The arrest of Paul Schaefer is good news," Fischer said. "His arrest will allow a comprehensive investigation all the criminal activities in the former Colonia Dignidad to be carried out and punishments to be handed down." Argentine Police Commissioner Alejandro Dinisio told AFP that Schäfer carried no identification documents and refused to speak at the time of his arrest. He added that police had been on his trail for six months. Television reporters mobbed Schäfer as an agent pushed the elderly suspect on his wheelchair into a provincial police station. Schäfer was shown on television handcuffed and smiling, and holding a bottle of soda. Officials said he could be transferred to Buenos Aires as early as Friday. Child abuse and cultic practices A former corporal and medic in Hitler's Nazi army, Schäfer fled Germany to Chile in 1961 to avoid child sexual abuse charges. He established the self-sufficient Colonia Dignidad, also called "Villa Baviera," in the mountains near the city of Parral, some 350 kilometers (218 miles) south of Santiago along with other German immigrants. Surrounded by barbed wire and electric fences and protected by barricades, the community, populated largely by Germans, adhered to a strict discipline and remained cut off from the rest of Chile. A mixture of cultic practices such as exorcising devils and psychological terror were said to rampant in the sect. In 1996 a number of former residents testified that Schäfer systematically abused the colony's young children, many of whom were taken from the parents at birth. Accusations of forced labor and other forms of maltreatment also surfaced at the time. A torture center and school Chilean officials also want Schäfer in connection with torture during the 1973-1990 Pinochet dictatorship. The colony apparently served as a torture center for the Chilean secret service as well as a torture school where former Gestapo and Nazi officers gave lessons. Investigators say that political prisoners, including former leftist leader Alvaro Vallejos Villagran -- arrested by Pinochet agents in May 1974 -- vanished after being sent to Colonia Dignidad. A former member of Pinochet's secret police gave testimony stating that he knew Vallejos Villagran was taken alive to Dignidad. Schäfer and the colony are believed to have enjoyed Pinochet's protection right until the end of his dictatorship in 1990. Disappearance of professor Police also want to question Schäfer about the 1985 disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler, an American Jewish mathematics professor of Russian origin. Investigators believe Weisfeiler was picked up by a military border patrol while he was backpacking in the region on suspicion of being a spy and dropped off at Dignidad. Weisfeiler's sister Olga said there were reports by Dignidad residents of seeing him alive up to two years later. Schäfer's arrest on Thursday sparked relief among the present residents of the colony. About 300 people, mainly Germans, still live there. "I believe, we're all happy here today. I definitely am -- we had to suffer too much," one of them told Chilean television. To accelerate Schäfer's departure, the Chilean interior minister asked his Argentine counterpart to kick him out of Argentina and avoid going to court to ask for an extradition, which could delay the case with appeals. Officials praised the joint action on Thursday by Argentine and Chilean police which led to Schäfer's arrest. "We are proud of this arrest," said a justice spokesman in Santiago de Chile. "We expect that Paul Schäfer will have to face two charges as soon as possible: one for sodomy against a child and the other for the disappearance of Alvaro Vallejos Villagran."
AP 3 Ma4 2005 UN calls for full probe of massacre in Colombia BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - A United Nations official has demanded a full investigation of the massacre of eight civilians amid accusations Colombian soldiers carried out the brutal killings, in which the victims were hacked to pieces with machetes. The massacre was one of the most horrific in Colombia's brutal war. The eight victims, including three young children and a teenage girl, were buried on a farm in northwest Colombia. A former mayor and a priest have blamed government troops for the massacre. "The authorities have the great challenge of finding out what happened,'' Amerigo Incalcaterra, a top member of the United Nations human rights office in Colombia, said Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. "Those who are responsible must be brought before the courts, no matter who they are.'' Incalcaterra, an Italian, visited the region where the massacre occurred and said members of a "peace community'' - whose leader Luis Eduardo Guerra was one of those killed in the Feb. 21 massacre - are terrified that more bloodshed will occur. Hours after the U.N. official visited the community on Wednesday near the town of Apartado, a convoy of Colombian prosecutors protected by police came under gunfire on the same road, killing one of the policemen and critically wounding another. Incalcaterra said that attack must also be investigated, adding that the situation "is very delicate.'' In the interview, he drew no conclusions about who may have been behind the massacre and the attack on the convoy, saying it was up to prosecutors. "There is a sickness about the people who carried out this horrific crime,'' Incalcaterra said. "There is no justification for it.'' Colombian Defense Minister Jorge Alberto Uribe earlier denied that army troops carried out the massacre, saying no soldiers were in the area at the time. The area is controlled by the army's 17th Brigade. Last month, 19 members of the 17th Brigade were killed in a rebel ambush. A cleric who has been close with residents of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado said Thursday that they believe the army carried out the massacre in retaliation for the rebel ambush, suspecting that the guerrillas had infiltrated the community. The cleric, interviewed by the AP, did not want to be identified by name for security reasons. The archbishop of Apartado, German Garcia Isaza, condemned the massacre and in a statement called for a rigorous investigation, saying "this blood that has been spilled screams for justice.'' Also killed in the massacre were Guerra's wife, his son and five other residents of the peace community, which tries to isolate itself from Colombia's 40-year-old conflict by barring armed groups from entering. Colombia's war pits the U.S.-backed government forces against two leftist rebel groups. Outlawed right-wing paramilitary forces have also been battling the rebels. Gloria Cuartas, the former mayor of Apartado, located 280 miles (450 kilometers) northwest of the capital Bogota, and Jesuit priest Javier Giraldo have accused army troops of carrying out the massacre. Cuartas said she does not trust local authorities enough to file a complaint with them. She said other killings have been carried out with impunity because of the failure of prosecutors to bring the perpetrators to justice, and that the army is often involved. Apartado is located in Uraba, a sweltering banana-growing region near the Panamanian border that is a strategic corridor for running drugs and guns to Central America. "The army in Uraba has no moral authority to defend and protect the population,'' Cuartas told the AP in a telephone interview. Incalcaterra said prosecutors from the capital, who would be more independent, should carry out the investigations.
IPS 7 Mar 2005 Tension Over Massacre Mounts Constanza Vieira BOGOTA, Mar 7 (IPS) - The tension between the Colombian government and the small San José de Apartadó Peace Community, in that country's northwestern banana-producing region, continues to mount. The people of the peace community say army troops were staked out in their village last week after killing eight local residents, including three children and two women, on Feb. 21. But the villagers have refused to give their testimony on the massacre to prosecutors, because they do not trust the justice system. More than 146 members of the peace community have been slain since 1997, and not a single case has ever been clarified. In addition, many witnesses who testified in the past have been killed. "We have a right not to live with the victimisers. We need the army to leave San José. Now they are around our houses, our schools, our children," says a communique released Friday by the community, which is home to around 1,300 campesinos (peasant farmers). The peace community, created by 350 campesinos in March 1997 with the backing of the Catholic Church, declares itself neutral in Colombia's armed conflict, and bars the presence of any armed factions or weapons. The community accuses the army of the Feb. 21 massacre in which eight people were killed, one of whom was the leader of San José de Apartadó. "We are urging the Colombian state to maintain no armed presence in our settlements and our places of work. This situation puts us at extreme risk because it turns us into military targets," adds the statement. The community asks the same of the other factions -- the right-wing Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) paramilitary umbrella and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) -- fighting for control over the conflict-torn region of Urabá, which borders Panama. The community added that if the Colombian state persists in its harassment, the residents would be forced to flee, joining the roughly three million Colombians who have been forcibly displaced by the country's four-decade armed conflict. On Feb. 21, the community's 35-year-old leader Luis Eduardo Guerra was tortured and killed, along with his young wife and his 11-year-old-son. Another family was also killed, including the two children, aged five years and 18 months. A campesino who happened to be passing by was shot and killed as well. Several of the bodies had been hacked to pieces with a machete. Guerra represented the peace community in contacts with the government and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which in October 2000 ordered that precautionary measures be taken to protect the community. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which also forms part of the Organisation of American States (OAS) system, had also called for precautionary measures, in December 1997. Guerra had met three times with Vice-President Francisco Santos, who personally promised to ensure that measures were taken to guarantee the security of the peace community. In a hearing before the Inter-American Court, to take place Mar. 14 in the capital of Costa Rica, the Colombian government will be asked to demonstrate what actions it has taken to ensure the safety and lives of the residents of San José de Apartadó. The report produced by a fact-finding commission consisting of 100 villagers, which was set up by the peace community to investigate the Feb. 21 massacre, blamed the killings on the army's 17th Brigade. Several officials have denied that the army was involved, or that it was even present in the area. Others have said they will await the results of the legal inquiry. But the state prosecutors sent in to investigate the murders came up against two walls. One was built by the local residents, brick by brick, and bears the names of each of the 146 villagers killed since March 1997, when the area was declared neutral in the civil war. The other was a wall of silence. The community is standing by a position it took publicly last year -- to break off all ties with the legal system, since none of the 146 murders have been clarified, and no one has been brought to justice. When the prosecutors demanded their testimony, the campesinos responded that they would only speak before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. The community condemned an attack last week on the investigators and prosecutors, apparently carried out by FARC, along the road that links the village of San José and the town of Apartadó, 12 km away. One of the police officers guarding the convoy was killed in the ambush. "The human rights prosecutor in Bogotá called me and told me I should be in his office right now. I told him no, that I am conscientiously objecting and will not go," said Gloria Cuartas, who was mayor of Apartadó at the time the peace community was created. "The community of San José has already said it will not testify anymore in a country where testimony is manipulated, witnesses are bought, people are paid to talk about others, and evidence is obstructed," she told IPS. After Cuartas accompanied the community's fact-finding commission to the areas where the bodies were found, she received death threats by telephone. A driver who agreed to transport the bodies on Feb. 26 from the Apartadó cemetery to San José, where a wake was held, was also threatened. Summoned to testify by the public prosecutor's offices of Apartadó and Medellín (the capital of Antioquia, the province where the peace community is located), Cuartas responded: "I will not give any statement to any member of this country's legal system." "Experience has shown that during eight years of denunciations, the testimony of the victims was always sought, but not that of the victimisers. And in all of the legal complaints we filed, those who did testify were threatened or killed," she said. "On Mar. 9, 2004, after we provided 220 pieces of evidence and testimony implicating General Rito Alejo del Río (former commander of the 17th Brigade), the investigation was brought to a halt. Many of the people who spoke out against the general were killed," said Cuartas. The villagers met last Wednesday with a United Nations delegation that visited the site of the murders, which included the head of the Colombian office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Roberto Meier, and Amérigo Incalcaterra, assistant director of the local office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights. With the help of Catholic priests, the peace community has documented in detail and publicly denounced all human rights violations of which its members have been the targets. The community pointed to that thick file in response to the accusation, made by President Alvaro Uribe himself in May 2004, that it was "obstructing justice". "Uribe is present in the origins of the history of the peace community," Jesuit priest Javier Giraldo, who was assigned by his order to work closely with the people of San José de Apartadó, told IPS. The right-wing Uribe, in office since August 2002, served as governor of Antioquia from 1995 to 1997. "When people began talking about resisting and creating neutral communities, Uribe suddenly showed up at a meeting and started to talk about 'active neutrality' as he understood it: forging an alliance with the army to keep the guerrillas out of the local communities," he recalled. "His proposal was so far off from what was being discussed that Bishop Tulio Duque, who was bishop of Apartadó at the time, told him 'Mr. governor, your proposal is not the same as ours', and Uribe angrily stormed out," said Giraldo. "The governor was seeking to co-opt the language of neutrality, which is why the community did not use the word 'neutral' in its name, but 'peace community' instead," said the priest. As president-elect, during a tour of Europe, Uribe announced that the army would be brought into San José and other peace communities that had followed its example, said Giraldo. Uribe, the closest ally of U.S. President George W. Bush in Latin America, does not acknowledge that Colombia is in the grip of an armed conflict, but merely talks about a "terrorist threat" against democracy, and says all civilians must take sides. "We have constantly asked the Colombian state for the presence of civilian bodies like the offices of the public prosecutor and the ombudsman. But we will not accept the presence of military forces" in our villages, says the peace community statement. Since its creation, the peace community has been frequently attacked by the AUC paramilitary militias and the army, which act in coordination, according to the rural activists as well as leading human rights watchdogs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. It has also been the target of guerrilla violence.
BBC 9 March, 2005, 15:45 GMT E-mail this to a friend Printable version Guatemala Maya racism trial opens By Nicola Haseler BBC News, Guatemala Menchu says the five shouted racist abuse at her Guatemala's first race discrimination trial has opened, brought by the indigenous activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu. She has accused five political leaders and activists of having made racist comments to her. About 60% of Guatemala's population is indigenous, with most living in poverty in rural areas. The charges stem from an incident that happened in October 2003 in the capital, Guatemala City. Ms Menchu had appeared at a hearing to decide whether former dictator Gen Jose Efrain Rios Montt could stand for president. She opposed the candidacy of the general, who ruled the country during the bloodiest period of Guatemala's 36-year-long civil war, when 200,000 indigenous Maya were killed or disappeared. After the verdict went in favour of Gen Rios Montt, his supporters allegedly taunted her with comments such as "Go and sell tomatoes at the market, Indian". The accused are Gen Rios Montt's grandson Juan Carlos Rios, a former lawmaker from the Guatemalan Republican Front, two party activists and a member of the Guatemala City-based Central American Parliament. 'Laws are racist' Thanks to a new law penalising discrimination in 2002, Ms Menchu is now fighting to convince the judges the remarks were racist. "Discrimination is part of the structure of the state in Guatemala," she said. The political process is mono-cultural and mono-lingual, and indigenous people lose out. "People use the term Indian as an insult. Women in traditional dress are turned away from public places. "I'm fighting to set a precedent for racism, but the laws are racist." Ms Menchu won the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her campaign for Indian rights. Discrimination against the Maya has been endemic in Guatemala since the days of the Spanish conquest. Twenty-two indigenous peoples co-exist in the country's highlands, representing a majority of the population. There are 13 indigenous members of Congress out of 160, but they are spread across the political parties and do present a united voice for indigenous rights. If convicted, the accused face prison sentences of between one and six years. The verdict - whatever the outcome - will be a symbolic reference point in the history of indigenous rights in Central America.
Herald (Mexico) 10 Mar 2005 www.eluniversal.com.mx High court rejects Echeverría case The Supreme Court takes no action on an attempt to arrest a former president on genocide charges. Wire services March 10, 2005 The Supreme Court on Wednesday elected not to rule on a special prosecutor's attempts to issue an arrest warrant against former President Luis Echeverría in the deaths of student protesters in 1971. By a 4-1 vote, a high court panel decided that it could not issue a ruling because a case brief filed for its consideration raised questions about whether Echeverría and other former government officials were guilty of criminal wrongdoing. The court panel member who prepared the case filing, Olga Sánchez, was its lone supporter. The vote means another panel member will have to prepare a new Supreme Court brief based on arguments presented by the office of special prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo. Carrillo has accused Echeverría of genocide and is appealing his case after a judge decided last year to reject his request for the arrest of the 83-year-old former president. Last month, the high court rejected one of Carrillo's arguments that Mexico's agreement in 2002 to cancel the statute of limitations for genocide should apply retroactively to earlier crimes. But the court said it would hold further hearings on other arguments raised by Carrillo's office. Among them is his claim that, for technical reasons, the statute of limitations itself has not expired. The special prosecutor says the former president ordered government thugs to attack protesters during a student demonstration on June 10, 1971, according to case files released to a Mexican freedom of information group. Carrillo alleged that dozens of students died in what has become known as the "Corpus Christi massacre." Echeverría has repeatedly denied any involvement in the killings. The prosecution files say Echeverría helped draw up elaborate plans to attack antigovernment activists. Prosecutors argue that from his first day in office on Dec. 1, 1970, Echeverría ordered an elite force of plain-clothed state fighters known as the "Halcones," or "Falcons," to attack suspected government enemies. Carrillo has charged 11 people, including Echeverría, top former members of his government and five members of the Halcones with ordering or actively participating in the deaths of 12 people during the demonstration.
www.timesonline.co.uk 24 Feb 2005 Hunt called off for DNA from Twin Towers dead From James Bone in New York THE families of more than 1,000 victims of the World Trade Centre attack face the heartbreak of knowing that their loved ones may never be identified after the New York coroner’s office announced that it had exhausted its efforts to trace DNA from the thousands of body parts recovered from the scene. The New York City medical examiner, which has tested almost 20,000 fragments of human flesh, blood and bone, has identified 1,588 of the 2,749 people reported missing when two hijacked airliners crashed into the twin towers on September 11, 2001. But it said yesterday that the remaining 1,161 victims may never be identified unless new technology allows DNA to be extracted from 9,720 stored body parts. “We have exhausted the technology that is available to us today to make any further identifications,” Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman, said. “All the remains have been freeze-dried and vacuum-packed so they do not deteriorate any further so that perhaps we will be able to extract DNA using new technology. “We are never going to give up. We have promised the families that,” she said. “We are calling it a pause.” The coroner’s announcement means that many families will have to accept that their loved ones disappeared as the towers crumbled into a pile of smouldering rubble that burnt for weeks. “Unfortunately, there are 1,161 of us who have never received a call from the medical examiner to get any kind of identification,” William Doyle, whose son Joey worked at Cantor Fitzgerald in the World Trade Centre, said. “The only ID I got back of my son was his driver’s licence they found in the landfill.” “But I hold my trust in the medical examiner because I know they are not going to stop,” he said. “They do have broken-down DNA and other remains . . . we have to wait for better technology to appear.” Experts say that, in order to make a DNA match, the coroner has to be able to extract a sample of 18 to 36 human cells — far less even than the residue left when a finger is rubbed on a glass slide. The medical examiner recovered 19,916 body fragments at the World Trade Centre and at the landfill in Staten Island where the rubble was dumped. After initial success in identifying remains, however, only eight DNA matches have been made in the past six months. Diane Horning, who lost her son Matthew, has started a group called “WTC Families for Proper Burial” to lobby for rubble to be moved to a proper cemetery. “Everything was taken from the World Trade Centre to the New York City garbage facility at Fresh Kills landfill,” she said. “We know that there are remains sitting on top of household refuse,” she said. “What we have been saying from Day 1 is: Get them out of there! Our intention is that there should be an international cemetery.” The relative of a British victim raised the issue when families met President Bush, but the US Government has yet to intervene. Of the 2,749 presumed dead, only 292 families received a “full body” for funeral. 9/11 TOLL 2,749 people died in the World Trade Centre At least 13,000 survived the terrorist attacks 1,588 victims identified based on physical remains 1,161 still unidentified 235 foreign nationals died, including 67 British, the largest single nationality group
NYT 24 Feb 2005 February 24, 2005 9/11 Families Grieve Anew as Remains Go Unnamed By DAVID W. CHEN When the city medical examiner's office began to inform the relatives of Sept. 11 victims several weeks ago that it had exhausted all possible means of identifying human remains, the news should not have come as a surprise, since the number of new identifications had been dwindling for months. But yesterday, as word spread that the 1,588 victims of the attack on the World Trade Center identified so far would probably be the last, leaving 1,161 unaccounted for, many people had difficulty confronting that reality, displaying a visceral range of responses. For Kathy Bowden, the news dashed the hope, however diminishing, that some part, any part, of her brother Thomas H. Bowden Jr. might be included in a burial. So now, her family will probably go ahead with a burial this spring with only some personal effects and some dust from ground zero. For Matthew T. Sellitto, it meant that it was time to wonder whether another phone call was imminent. That is because after city officials informed the family three times that they had pieces of his son Matthew C. Sellitto, he asked them not to call until the forensic work was finished. "We knew this day was coming eventually, but it's still bittersweet," he said. In an interview, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, the chief medical examiner, cautioned that the identification process was not technically over, but rather on "pause" until advances in technology make further identification of the remains possible. To prepare for that possibility, his staff has preserved the remaining fragments of flesh and bone in vacuum-sealed packages that are expected to be stored, below ground, at the future site of the World Trade Center memorial. "To many families who do not yet have an identification, this is discouraging, and I sympathize with them," Dr. Hirsch said. "We've done our best. And our commitment is that we will continue to do that." Yesterday, dozens of family members said they had nothing but the highest praise for the employees of the medical examiner's office, calling them kind, compassionate and professional. Some relatives said they hoped the city would remove the fine-dust remains of the victims from a landfill on Staten Island and bury them at the memorial. Others said the news had forced them to relive each step of the identification process. "On one side, I am very sad and hurt that the identification process has ended without finding any traces of my husband," said Meena Jerath, the widow of Prem Nath Jerath, a structural engineer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, in an e-mail message. "On the other side, part of me is relieved that no tiny fragment was found of my husband. If only a small piece was found, I would wonder what happened to the rest of him. What were his last moments like? Did he suffer a lot?" By any quantifiable measure, calculating the grim tally of splintered grief was daunting. The city processed a total of 19,916 body parts, ranging from pieces as small as fingertips to 286 intact bodies. In the end, 10,196 pieces were identified as belonging to particular victims, and 9,720 were not. Some victims left behind as many as 200 fragments. Others, only one. DNA tests alone identified 844 people, while dental X-rays accounted for 63 and fingerprints 46. The rest were identified by other means, and in some cases a combination of means. Medical examiners reported that seven victims had tattoos that helped with their identification. The pace has recently slowed considerably, as the medical examiner's office relied almost exclusively on DNA analysis. Between September 2003 and September 2004, 53 identifications were made. Since then, there have only been eight. At the same time, more than 400 families whose relatives had been identified asked not to be notified of additional matching fragments until the process was finished. Now, the relatives can ask a funeral director, as is the rule in New York City, to pick up whatever remains have been labeled at the white tent outside the medical examiner's office on East 30th Street in Manhattan. For all of the heartache, though, many relatives said yesterday that they had developed strong bonds with the medical examiner's office. "They were so caring, and I feel a special appreciation for the sensitivity and the care that they showed," said Herbert Ouida, who worked in the north tower and survived, but whose son Todd, who worked on a higher floor, did not. Not everything worked out perfectly. Ralph D'Esposito said that his family endured the horror of exhuming his son Michael's body last spring, after it was discovered that a leg that had been buried with him belonged to someone else. Kristen Breitweiser, a widow who played a major role in the creation of the Sept. 11 commission, said she was told that her husband's left arm had been identified by fingerprints shortly after the attack. Then, she said, she was notified only a couple of months ago that the police, who had handled the fingerprint process, had identified the right arm, even though it had been found and tagged not long after the left one. "It knocked the wind out of me," she said. "I immediately vomited." When asked about the case, Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, said that there may have been technical difficulties getting a "good set of prints." But he also said that the police had completed the task of fingerprint identification for all of the bodies whose prints could be analyzed. Meanwhile, Diane Horning, who founded W.T.C. Families for Proper Burial, said she hoped that the Bloomberg administration would remove the remains of victims that are still on Staten Island - something that the administration has consistently opposed because of the huge costs involved and the belief that all identifiable human remains have already been removed. But even members of the group had differing reactions to the news, Mrs. Horning said. On Tuesday night, when they learned of the suspension of identifications, the group held a meeting. Some people hugged, but no one really knew what to say, because some had received news of identification, and others had gotten nothing.
College Heights Herald 1 Mar 2005 www.wkuherald.com Staub talks about genocide By Alex Fontana packed crowd gave a standing ovation for a speaker who has spent his life raising awareness about genocide. Ervin Staub, a professor of psychology and foremost expert in the social and psychological aspects of genocide and mass killing, spoke at the Mass Media and Technology Hall Auditorium Thursday night. This was the fourth year in a row the Boyd Lubker visiting Scholars program has brought a world-renowned expert to speak at Western. Staub's knowledge stems from personal and academic experience. He was rescued from Hungary as a child during the Holocaust. He has been lecturing about genocide as well as participating in active attempts of reconciliation. "My goal is to have people understand," he said. He said he wants to "motivate individuals to join in this task against the harmful and unjust." In 1999, Staub visited Rwanda to aid in reconciliation and recovery from that country's 1994 genocide. Staub received a doctorate from Stanford University and has taught at Harvard University, Stanford University, the University of Hawaii and the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has been teaching at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst since 1971. Staub is optimistic about the world, despite the difficulties he has seen. "The way we act in the face of other people's need and suffering can make a difference in this world," he said. Staub was introduced by Sam McFarland, dean of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and a friend of Staub. McFarland has known Staub for eight years through joint membership in the International Society of Political Psychology. The attendance was positive, he said. "The auditorium was virtually full," McFarland said. "I was, however, disappointed in the acoustics of MMTH auditorium, which made hearing and paying attention difficult." Lynn Lubker and Bobbie Boyd Lubker are the contributors to the Visiting Scholars program. They started it in honor of Boyd Lubker's parents. "My dad used to say that Western changed his life," Boyd Lubker said. "We began to think of ways to contribute in our lifetimes." The Visiting Scholars program is interdisciplinary allowing different colleges to submit nominees to bring to the program. "We're just delighted with the implementation of it," Boyd Lubker said. Reach Alex Fontana at email@example.com.
Indian Country Today 3 Mar 2005 Mohawk: Churchill controversy represents a split in America Email this page Print this page Posted: March 03, 2005 by: John Mohawk / The firestorm surrounding University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill has not abated. In case you've been living in a Himalayan cave, Churchill was the director of the Ethnic Studies department at his university who wrote about the events of Sept. 11, 2001 shortly after they happened and described the event as ''blowback'' from an ill-conceived U.S. foreign policy. His statement included language that has been interpreted as blaming the people who were killed for their own deaths. The gist of his essay is that the people in the World Trade Center's twin towers knew they were working for corporations that were engaged in advancing American economic hegemony around the world and that supported a U.S. foreign policy that included sanctions against Iraq - sanctions that denied medicine to poor children in that country and resulted in numerous deaths. He later clarified his statement to exempt the working class people who were killed but has refused to apologize to the families of the other victims for comparing them to ''little Eichmans,'' a reference to a World War II Nazi leader. The issue emerged when people protested an appearance he was about to make at Hamilton College in upstate New York. Churchill has since resigned as chairman of the Ethnic Studies department while numerous individuals, including a few powerful politicians such as the governors of New York and Colorado, have called for his dismissal from the University of Colorado faculty. The University Regents has initiated a review of Churchill's work that could result in his dismissal from the university. The review process should report in mid-March. In addition to demanding he be fired, some have called for his prosecution as a traitor - a charge that could bring the death penalty. The hot button issue in the controversial article involves Churchill's apparent adaptation of Hannah Arendt's analysis of Eichman in a book, ''Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,'' which describes Eichman's supportive role in the Holocaust. The controversy has arisen at an extraordinary moment in American history when issues about America's identity and its role in the world are hotly contested. Academia is at the center of that contest, which revolves around popular mythology. Myths are stories people embrace that tell them about who they are. The ancient Greeks had plenty of myths, the most powerful of which was the Iliad, which told the story of heroic warriors and how they are to be in the world. American mythology probably dates back to James Fenimore Cooper, the ''Leatherstocking Tales'' and Natty Bumppo, an individual with European genes but who was raised by Indians. He possessed the best of both worlds, the supposed intelligence of the colonizers and the noble traits of the Indians, and he was a fellow who knew right from wrong and was not afraid to act. American heroes - mythical figures including Daniel Boone and John Wayne - always have been like that. The mythical cowboy (there never was a historical character like him) sauntered into town, found the bad guys holed up in the saloon and absorbed their insults but came back shooting. He had no family, no roots, could ignore the rule of law when it pleased him, committed human rights violations when circumstances called for it, never made mistakes and never said he was sorry before he left town. You know the characters: Wyatt Earp, Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Dirty Harry, Rambo. After the attacks on 9/11 a lot of people in America - the red states, to legitimize and over-generalize - wanted America to personify their heroes, to be Rambo. Academia is, in many ways, the antithesis to that spirit of unbounded and mindless adventurism. The culture of academia wants to know details, while Rambo has no interest in details. He never accidentally shoots the wrong people, and he's never on the wrong side because whatever side he's on is, by definition, the right side. As Rambo, America has set off a huge division within herself and has done much to psychologically isolate the United States from the rest of the world. Academia is traditionally and rightfully skeptical of the Rambo approach - which is part of the reason why ultra-nationalists are suspicious of academics who they feel don't know right from wrong, are insufficiently cheerful about unfounded military adventures, and spend too much time parsing nuances. The soul of the country is being torn between passion and reason, and the fact is even within academia there is plenty of passion and reason to go around. Into this scenario steps Ward Churchill, whose writings find misdeeds by America under every rock. Upon inspection, the vast majority of these writings have yet to be factually questioned (except perhaps for the Mandan-smallpox assertion, which has yet to be fully explored) but when fact patterns fail to meet mythological expectations the ideologues on the right are inclined to slay the messenger. Academia can't afford to let them do it, nor can it afford to allow the ideologues on the left distort the issue into something it is not. The people who went to work in the World Trade Center that morning, with negligible exceptions, were not plotting American hegemony. They were pursuing careers. To the extent that intent is part of culpability, they were innocent. If the standard is that knowing or unknowing complicity renders people guilty and therefore worthy of being killed for their actions, the net is spread too wide. In that context, everyone in a given society who pays taxes or fails to protest every action of government is guilty. When everyone is guilty, the people who actually are plotting harm to others are let off the hook, lost in the crowd, rendered innocent. It doesn't work for me. If I were Churchill, I'd apologize to the families of ordinary people who were killed that day, and I'd show enough generosity of spirit to include all of them. People don't deserve to be killed because they went to work. The connection to Eichmann is far too much of a stretch for any but the most theoretically-minded. The destruction of the World Trade Center and the other attacks that day were acts of willful murder by people whose motivations, except for revenge, are unrecognizable in American terms. Of course, in the U.S., once you start apologizing, you can never do enough. The issues of Churchill's membership in an Indian nation are separate and are exposed for all to see. The other accusations against him require concrete evidence that has not surfaced and which no serious person would entertain until it does. John C. Mohawk Ph.D., columnist for Indian Country Today, is an author and professor in the American Studies Department at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
HoustonChronicle.com 6 Mar 2005 WASHINGTON NOTEBOOK Combat vet says Syria remark was joke, kind of WASHINGTON - Dallas-area congressman Sam Johnson raised eyebrows with his recent offer to personally drop a couple of nuclear bombs on Syria. But he said that he was "kind of joking" in his comments at a pancake breakfast at a North Texas church in February. His remarks in Allen were first reported last week in Roll Call. The Capitol Hill newspaper said it had heard a recording of the talk. According to Roll Call, Johnson said he was talking with President Bush and Rep. Kay Granger, a Fort Worth Republican, at the White House about weapons of mass destruction that U.S. troops had failed to find in Iraq. Johnson said he told the president: "Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view." "You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on 'em and I'll make one pass. We won't have to worry about Syria anymore," he said. Johnson, 74, is a former Air Force combat pilot who served in the wars in Korea and Vietnam, where he was shot down and spent 7 1/2 years as a prisoner of war.
NYT 7 Mar 2005 WHITE HOUSE LETTER Even Bush, No Movie Buff, Enjoys Getting Big Picture By ELISABETH BUMILLER ashington The Oscars have come and gone, the mermaid dresses on the actresses have been dissected, Chris Rock has been reviewed. One question related to the White House remains: how does the president of the United States avoid feeling clueless about the national conversation on movies good and bad? Unlike Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut Democrat who turned up at a Georgetown theater to see "Master and Commander" the weekend after he gave up on the 2004 presidential race, President Bush can't just drop by his neighborhood multiplex. So as a lot of people know, he watches first-run films in the White House movie theater, a cushy 40-seat room on the ground floor near the entrance to the East Wing. The theater has been updated over the years, but its most extensive renovation came during the made-for-Hollywood presidency of Ronald Reagan, when the major studios of the time - Disney, Universal, Fox, Paramount, Columbia, MGM and Warner Brothers - put up $150,000 to make sure the president watched their wares in an environment as cosseted as the screening room of an entertainment mogul. Friends of the Bush family say the president is not as big a movie fan as was Reagan, who memorably watched "The Sound of Music" in his hotel room rather than reading his briefing books before the 1983 summit of industrial democracies in Williamsburg, Va. Mr. Bush is not even as big a movie fan as is his father, who regularly had people to the White House theater for evenings of hot dogs and popcorn. Still, this year Mr. Bush has seen three films: "The Aviator," the Leonardo DiCaprio best-picture nominee about the early life of Howard Hughes; "Paper Clips," a documentary about middle school students in rural Tennessee who collect six million paper clips to understand the enormity of the Holocaust and to honor the six million Jews who died; and "Hotel Rwanda," about a flesh-and-blood hero, Paul Rusesabagina, the manager of a real-life luxury hotel, the Milles Collines. Mr. Rusesabagina saved the lives of more than 1,200 people when he sheltered them in his rooms during the genocide in his country in 1994. The president saw "Paper Clips" and "Hotel Rwanda" late on recent Saturday afternoons, along with a small group of friends and senior White House staff members. Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who had pestered the White House to show "Paper Clips," was there when the film was screened the day before Mr. Bush left for a trip to Europe last month. Late last year, Mr. Bush saw "Friday Night Lights," about the power of high school football in Odessa, Tex., which he branded his favorite film of 2004. One movie he saw on Air Force One, where he more often watches sports on his big-screen television, was "Spellbound," a nail-biting documentary about eight contestants in the 1999 National Spelling Bee in Washington. Laura Bush sees more movies than does her husband, including the best-picture Oscar winner, "Million Dollar Baby," which she watched in the White House theater with friends on a recent weekday afternoon. The movies are sent overnight directly from the studios, in 35-millimeter film format, as soon as the White House requests them. The system was set up many presidencies ago by Jack Valenti, the adviser to President Lyndon B. Johnson and the recently retired president of the Motion Picture Association of America. Mr. Valenti noted that President Richard M. Nixon's favorite movie was "Patton," which he watched many times. Not so L.B.J. "He showed movies, but not a lot, because he went right to sleep," Mr. Valenti said. Presidents get Hollywood perks beyond first-run movies, of course. Perhaps the ultimate one is the power to summon people connected to the movies for conversations afterward. Mr. Bush did that last month with Mr. Rusesabagina, the wily and courageous hotel manager in "Hotel Rwanda" who was played in the film by Don Cheadle. On Feb. 15, after the White House contacted MGM, the film's distributor, Mr. Rusesabagina found himself in the Oval Office discussing "Hotel Rwanda" with Mr. Bush, Laura Bush and senior White House staff members. "Don Cheadle is an actor," Mr. Rusesabagina said in a telephone interview on Friday from his home in Brussels, where he now lives. "He is a messenger." The president, he said, "wanted to know who was the person behind the story, the real life behind Hotel Rwanda." Mr. Rusesabagina said that Mr. Bush was well briefed. "He was informed about everything," he said. "He knew everything that happened in Hotel Collines. He was asking me why did I decide to do that? And then at the end, he said I had done what any human being should have done." The president and Mr. Rusesabagina also talked about the mass killings in the Darfur region of Sudan, which the United States has labeled genocide. Mr. Rusesabagina reported that "he's interested in what is going on in Sudan, he's following that closely, and he's committed to finding a solution." Beyond that, Mr. Rusesabagina said the president gave no indication of what he might do. "Sometimes when you talk with a president," Mr. Rusesabagina said, "you have to know that some questions will not be answered."
Washington Times 7 Mar 2005 Darfur genocide spurs calls for intervention By Adrienne Washington Sometimes all you need to do to let somebody know you care is send a letter, a fax, an e-mail or make a short phone call. Occasionally, more drastic action is imperative. "People are dying, it's that simple. These are crimes against people, and we can do something about this," said Yvonne Paretzky about the deliberate massacre and mass starvation of thousands of innocent men, women and children in western Sudan's Darfur region. Mrs. Paretzky was so moved by the genocidal atrocities in Darfur that she joined Ruth Newburger and Gail Fisher to stage "An Interfaith Evening of Information, Inspiration and Action" at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac on Sunday night. Nearly 200 people spent two hours participating in a poignant program aimed to "see, hear and take action" to save thousands clear across the globe. "I saw the connection between genocide in Sudan and genocide in the Holocaust, and we are watching and doing nothing while thousands are being killed," said Molly Hauck, who plans to get the Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, of which she is a member, to host a similar awareness-raising program. Hundreds of thousands have been killed in Darfur and thousands more are at risk in this "calculated campaign of slaughter, rape and displacement," Rabbi H. David Rose of Congregation Har Shalom said. Meanwhile, U.S. and world leaders delay and debate the term "genocide." But the need is urgent to enact and enforce harsher sanctions against the rebel Janjaweed militia and the Sudanese government to prevent and punish further violation of the 1948 U.N. convention against deliberate acts "committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group." Most unthinkable, the Sudanese government will not let water, food and medical supplies pass through to villages and refugee camps. Humanitarian aid workers are among those who have been killed as 1.6 million people have been chased into the desert. Sunday's audience learned of women, even girls as young as 8 and grandmothers as old as 60, being raped, their breasts branded and some left to bleed to death. Men are self-imprisoned in refugee camps lest they be tortured and killed. Young boys, the ones not abducted to become soldiers, are thrown on bonfires. Darfur exile and lobbyist Omer Ismail spoke softly of witnessing burned-out villages where he once heard Sudanese folk songs on Sundays. He told of children who dig holes in the sand during the day so they can sleep in them at night to stay warm because they have no blankets and "no mothers to hold them." "The thousands of faceless, nameless people are reaching out, pleading for the humanity in you. They want to know somebody cares," said Mr. Ismail, who now resides in Silver Spring. Go see "Hotel Rwanda," which shows a slice of the genocidal killings of 800,000 there. Then you'll understand the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette political cartoon depicting a couple leaving the theater where the movie is on the marquee. "When do you think the movie 'Hotel Sudan' will be released?" the woman asks. In fact, "Hotel Darfur," with the "Not on My Watch" slogan, is a grass-roots effort undertaken by the brilliant but underrated actor Don Cheadle and Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager he portrayed in "Rwanda." Volunteers pass out informational fliers and ask moviegoers to sign petitions urging immediate, increased U.S. intervention. Mr. Ismail wonders why world leaders, who rallied to save Eastern Europeans in the Balkans, do not come to defend Africans in Darfur. Still, he is bolstered by the grass-roots efforts such as the informative service at Congregation Har Shalom on Sunday night. He happily notes that a movement is growing on college campuses, where he is a sought-after speaker. Today, for example, Georgetown students, members of nationwide Students Taking Action Now for Darfur (STAND), are scheduled to begin lobbying on Capitol Hill. Ideas on how to help were offered by David Rubenstein, coordinator of the D.C.-based Save Darfur Coalition, www.savedarfur.org., an alliance of 100 organizations spearheaded, in part, by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Mr. Rubenstein said: "I believe President Bush cares, I believe the State Department cares. ... I just don't believe they care enough. And, they don't care enough because they don't think the American public cares enough." From March 17 to 20, the Save Darfur Coalition is sponsoring the 100 Hours to Campaign for Darfur, designed to send letters to the White House and 100 to each member of Congress. They are asking groups and individuals to host teach-ins and action meetings. Tears were shed during the "Lights for Life" ceremony to extinguish 100 candles commemorating the lives of 35,000 deceased Darfurians. The Shofar, a ram's horn that was used in ancient Israel as a call to action when help was needed from neighboring villagers, was blown. "Please hear the call in your hearts, your heads, and most of all, with your hands," Mr. Rose said in closing. For more information, log on to www.savedarfur.org; the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers at www.child-soldiers.org; and www.rwandapartners.org.
washingtonpost.com 8 Mar 2005 Tough Love or Tough Luck? By Susan E. Rice Tuesday, March 8, 2005; Page A15 President Bush has shocked even his most cynical critics by nominating the combative neoconservative John Bolton to one of our most complex and sensitive diplomatic posts: U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton served the past four years as undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, though then-Secretary of State Colin Powell initially resisted his appointment. Powell's successor, Condoleezza Rice, who passed over Bolton for deputy secretary despite strong support for him from Vice President Cheney, put on a brave face yesterday in announcing his appointment to the United Nations. She stressed the administration's commitment to U.N. reform and praised Bolton as a friend of the United Nations who helped repeal the noxious General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. But as Rice must know, keeping Bolton off her team at State may prove a Pyrrhic victory, if he takes his notoriously abrasive style to New York. The job of U.N. ambassador is always important and delicate, but arguably never more so than now. The United Nations is facing unprecedented, justified criticism for its role in the oil-for-food scandal and its failure to prevent peacekeepers from sexually exploiting civilians in Congo. Several Republican members of Congress are gunning for Secretary General Kofi Annan's head. In response, Annan is shaking up his management team and reminding the United States how badly it needs the United Nations. Indeed, the United States is relying on the United Nations to carry out a massive tsunami recovery effort and 17 peacekeeping missions, to support the democratization processes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and to pressure Iran to halt its nuclear program. At the 60th anniversary of its founding, the United Nations has rarely been more relevant or in greater need of reform. President Bush seems to understand this. In December he pledged three international goals for his second term. "The first great commitment," he said "is to defend our security and spread freedom by building effective multinational and multilateral institutions and supporting effective multilateral action." Is John Bolton the right man to lead this effort? Having served as assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 1989 to 1993, Bolton may be deemed qualified, but his record on multilateral issues is alarming. He told the Wall Street Journal that "the happiest moment of his government service" was when the Bush administration renounced the treaty on the International Criminal Court. Bolton led the administration's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, scuttled an important biological weapons protocol and weakened an international agreement to limit small-arms trafficking. On these issues, Bolton's positions at least reflected administration policy. But Bolton holds many strong views that diverge sharply from current U.S. policy. He described the United Nations as "a great, rusting hulk of a bureaucratic superstructure . . . dealing with issues from the ridiculous to the sublime . . . ." More important, he maintains that the United States has no legal obligation to pay its U.N. dues. Once a paid consultant to the Taiwanese government, Bolton favors Taiwan's independence and its full U.N. membership -- a dangerous position in light of cross-straits tensions and our efforts to obtain Chinese pressure on North Korea. Will Bolton set aside his support for a Taiwanese U.N. seat while manning the U.S. seat on the Security Council? Bolton flatly opposes the use of U.N. peacekeepers in civil conflicts, because he does not deem these "threats to international peace and security." By his logic, the United Nations has no business doing peacekeeping in many places where the Bush administration has supported its deployment of forces. Bolton has testified against U.N. involvement in Congo, an inter-state conflict that has cost 3 million lives. He blasted the United Nations' concept of operations for its Ethiopia-Eritrea operation and rejected the U.N. civil administration missions in Kosovo and East Timor. Will Bolton undergo such a conversion on the road to First Avenue that he can effectively support U.N. peace operations? Finally, Bolton criticized any " 'right of humanitarian intervention' to justify military operations to prevent ethnic cleansing or potential genocide." One must wonder how forcefully he will work to halt what the administration deems genocide in Darfur. Rice asserts that Bolton will be an outspoken, effective U.N. ambassador in the vein of Jeane Kirkpatrick and Daniel Patrick Moynihan. If his appointment serves to bring the United Nations' most rabid critics in Congress to heel, it may have some merit. Bolton could yet surprise his skeptics by giving "tough love" a whole new definition. To do so, he will have to be for the United Nations what Richard Nixon was for China: a hard-liner who effectively forged groundbreaking change. Those of us who believe the United States needs an effective, reformed United Nations can only hope he succeeds. The writer is a senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. She was assistant secretary of state from 1997 to 2001.
www.marchforhumanity.org 9 Mar 2005 215 Mile Walk Will Honor Victims of Forgotten Genocide - March for Humanity Campaign Marks 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide 03/09/05 11:07:23 am, Categories: Society, 466 words 215 Mile Walk Will Honor Victims of Forgotten Genocide - March for Humanity Campaign Marks 90th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, (NAMC) – California youth will walk from Fresno California to the State Capitol starting on April 2, 2005. The 215-mile 19-day journey, titled March for Humanity, aims to raise awareness about the unpunished crime of genocide committed against the Armenian people between 1915 and 1921. “Ninety years ago innocent Armenians also marched, but not willingly, not just 215 miles, and not just 19 days,” said Serouj Aprahamian, March for Humanity Coordinator. “They were forced to death marches across deserts – hundreds of miles for months with no food or water, left to starve and die in a premeditated act of genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. This April we will pay tribute to the 1.5 million lives lost during the Armenian Genocide by marching in their memory and the memory of all those who have been victims of genocides. From the Armenian Genocide to the Holocaust, from the Cambodian genocide to the hell of the Rwandan Genocide, our generation has an obligation to stand against genocide and its denial.” Upon arriving in Sacramento, March participants, human rights activists, and Armenian American community members will gather at the State Capitol for a rally organized to thank the California State Legislature and 36 other states’ legislatures for officially recognizing the Genocide. The rally will also promote public involvement in securing justice not only for the Armenian Genocide, but also for all unpunished crimes against humanity. “To avoid accountability for the murder of 1.5 million Armenians, the Turkish government denies that the systematic annihilation of the Armenians was genocide,” said Vicken Sosikian, director of the March for Humanity. “We turn to our nation’s leaders, President Bush and the U.S. Congress, in the name of truth, righteousness, and justice, ask him to condemn the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians by holding the government of Turkey accountable for this crime against humanity.” Organizers are expecting hundreds of supporters and activists from across the country and Canada to join the March for Humanity. Participants will sleep in community centers, churches, schools and in tents on the road side. They will walk, rain or shine, for about 15 miles each day. Raffi Maronian, a participant who will walk the entire 215 mile distance, is confident that the march will open people’s eyes up to the threat genocide poses for all of humanity. “Those of us who are familiar with the genocide carried out against the Armenians bear a special responsibility to make sure the lessons of such crimes are never again repeated. The recent events in Sudan serve to demonstrate that we have not done an adequate job. It’s time to raise our level of activism and put an end to the cycle of genocide,” said Maronian. For more information about the March for Humanity, visit www.marchforhumanity.org or call (818) 507-1933. Contact: Serouj Aprahamian March For Humanity 818-507-1933
washingtonpost.com 10 Mar 2005 Increments That Kill Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page A20 IT'S BEEN A YEAR since the world woke up to the mass killings in the Darfur region of Sudan, and six months since the Bush administration termed them "genocide." Revulsion at the death toll, which stands at an estimated 300,000, has produced a humanitarian relief effort and the deployment of 1,900 armed cease-fire monitors by the African Union; both responses have saved lives. But Darfur's people still live in fear of rape, murder and starvation; perhaps 10,000 of them die monthly. And the worst of it all is the low-tech nature of this butchery. Sudan's government has armed a primitive militia that goes about on horses and camels; the government has supported the militia with rudimentary airpower, which NATO could cripple easily. So many lives could be saved with relatively little Western effort. But the killing continues. This is the context in which to judge the latest U.N. resolution on Darfur, the fourth since last summer. To the diplomats inside the U.N. bubble, the new resolution, which circulated in draft form this week, may represent a breakthrough. It may resolve a dispute between the United States and other nations as to which sort of international tribunal should hold Darfur's war criminals accountable. It may urge extra support for the underpowered cease-fire monitors. It may lead to a ban on travel by leaders suspected of war crimes and a freeze of any assets that they hold abroad. But though these measures amount to incremental progress, incrementalism is itself the problem. How can the world's prosperous and powerful nations accept sedate progress when hundreds die each day? For an example of what a more serious response would look like, consider the option of a no-flight zone. This could be organized from Chad, Sudan's western neighbor, which already is host to a contingent of the French air force. According to retired Gen. Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak, a former chief of staff of the Air Force, enforcing a no-flight zone in Darfur would take one squadron of 12 to 18 fighter aircraft, backed up by four AWACS planes and other support aircraft. This would represent a small fraction of NATO's capability; France alone could provide the necessary fighter aircraft. Sudan's limited air force and air defense system would offer little resistance. And yet, although the no-flight zone would impede attacks on civilians by helicopter gunships and send a powerful signal to Sudan's criminal government, it is not on the table. The same is true of beefing up the cease-fire monitors. It's been known for months that the African Union force would require Western logistical and financial support to deploy effectively. But the support has been late and tentative, with the result that even the modest promise of a 3,000-strong deployment has yet to materialize. U.N. officials say that a force of 10,000 is needed, and NATO's secretary general suggested last year that his organization could support the African Union. But France, which jealously guards its position as the chief military intervener in Africa, objected to the NATO option. The new U.N. resolution does not squarely address the need for an expanded Darfur deployment. This evasion and caution partially reflects the mood of Western publics. Polling by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland suggests that 60 percent of Americans support a U.S. contribution to a U.N. military intervention when they are asked about the subject. But this majority is mostly silent, prompting a group called the Save Darfur Coalition (www.savedarfur.org) to organize a letter-writing campaign starting next Thursday. It shouldn't take letters to make President Bush do the right thing on Darfur. A leader who prides himself on a bold and morally grounded foreign policy should have no patience for the incrementalism that enables mass killing.
www.usa.am 1 Mar 2005 P U B L I C A F F A I R S O F F I C E NEWS RELEASE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA MARSHALL BAGHRAMIAN STREET 18 YEREVAN, ARMENIA TELEPHONE (+374 1) 52 78 71; 52 16 11; 52 46 61 FAX (+374 1) 52 08 00 E-MAIL: USINFO@USA.AM March 1 , 2005 CORRECTED VERSION U.S. Ambassador: Regarding comments made in the United States I would like to clarify U.S. policy. Misunderstandings may have arisen as a result of comments made by me during recent informal meetings with Armenian-American groups in the United States regarding the characterization of the Armenian tragedy in Ottoman Turkey and the future status of Nagorno Karabakh. Although I told my audiences that the United States policy on the Armenian tragedy has not changed, I used the term “genocide” speaking in what I characterized as my personal capacity. This was inappropriate. The President’s annual statement on Armenian Remembrance Day articulates U.S. policy on this matter. My government acknowledges the tragedy that befell the Armenian community in Anatolia during the last years of the Ottoman Empire. We have been actively encouraging scholarly, civil society and diplomatic discussion of the forced killing and exile of Armenians in 1915. We have also encouraged economic and political dialogue between the governments of Armenia and Turkey in order to help all parties come to terms with these horrific events. In addition, my comments on the status of Nagorno Karabakh may have also created misunderstanding on U.S. policy. The U.S. government supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and holds that the future status of Nagorno Karabakh is a matter of negotiation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict through the Minsk group process. We are encouraged by the continuing talks between the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan under the auspice of the Minsk group co-chairs. I deeply regret any misunderstanding caused by my comments. Sincerely, John M. Evans U.S. Ambassador to Armenia
Anadolu News Agency (aa) 4 Mar 2005 zaman.com Double Genocide Correction from US Yerevan Ambassador The US Ambassador to Yerevan John Evans has had to apologize twice for use of the term "genocide" about events in Armenia, once to the US Administration and once to Turkey. Evans criticized Washington's policy last week and said that Armenian events should be called "genocide" from now on. Top level administration of US State Department reacted to this statement and made Evans issue a retraction on the Embassy's internet site. The ambassador said in the message that the term "genocide" was his own evaluation and this did not indicate the US policy, which had not changed. Evans said that he was sorry for causing a misunderstanding. But Evans hid the term 'genocide' within the message of apology saying "there is no change in the policy of the US over the Armenian genocide." The Turkish ambassador to Washington Faruk Logoglu reacted to this message and the Washington administration approved Turkey's demand and made Evans correct the message of apology. Logoglu reminded the US State Department that the US does not recognize the Armenian genocide, but the term was used in the message of apology of the US Yerevan Ambassador. Logoglu noted that a term that is not accepted by USA could not be used in a statement of policy.a
Bangladesh See DR Congo
www.bangladeshjournal.com 26 Feb 2005 Bangladesh so far lost 61 members of its patriotic armed forces in peacekeeping operations Posted on: February 26, 2005 By Golam Ahsan Jewel : The latest casualties in a rebel ambush in Congo on Friday have increased the death figure of Bangladeshi soldiers working on UN peacekeeping missions to 61, defence sources said. The attack on UN peacekeepers in which nine Bangladeshi soldiers were killed was the first ever attack by militiamen on any Bangladeshi troops after Bangladesh had joined in peace missions in 1988. Most other such deaths earlier were caused by plane crash, road accidents, illness and minesweeping, an army briefing told Bangladeshi journalists on Saturday. The highest number of Bangladeshi soldiers was killed in a plane crash on December 25, 2003. Fifteen soldiers were killed when a plane crashed on their way home from Benin. Thirty-three were been killed either in mine explosion or road accidents. Four died of illness. Over 8,000 Bangladeshi soldiers are working with UN peacekeeping missions in 12 troubled spots. They have been working in Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, East Timor, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Georgia, Kosovo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Sudan and Western Sahara either to restore or to keep peace. They also work for the United Nations Protection Force and Iraq-Kuwait Observation Missions at the same time. More than 50,000 Bangladeshi troops have so far joined 30 peacekeeping missions from 1988. The Armed forces of Bangladesh is known for its excellence in upholding humanitarian causes in home and abroad. In Bangladesh the Armed forces are summoned regularly for flood, hurricane, cyclone related relief activities, water distribution activities, election monitoring activities, food grain distribution activities etc. The peacekeepers from Bangladesh earned enourmous respect and love from people of Sierra Leon, where they built the only road of the country named after Bangladesh. Sierra Leon also declared Bangla as the second official language of that country being moved by the outstanding humanitarian efforts of Bangladesh army.
March 1, 2005 MALIPO JOURNAL Was the War Pointless? China Shows How to Bury It By HOWARD W. FRENCH ALIPO, China - After a walk up a steep stone staircase, first-time visitors are astonished when the veterans' cemetery just outside this town finally pops into view: as far as the eye can see, the curving arcade of hillside is lined with row after row of crypts, each with its concrete headstone emblazoned with a large red star, a name and an inscription. Long Chaogang and Bai Tianrong, though, had both been here before. The two men, veterans of China's war with Vietnam, which began with intense combat in mid-February of 1979, return from time to time looking for lost friends. And for more than an hour this day, they climbed up and down the deserted mountainside near the Vietnam border searching in vain through the names of the 957 soldiers buried here, stopping now and then to light a cigarette and place it on a tomb in offering to a comrade. The silence that prevails here, disturbed only by a gentle breeze rustling through the cemetery's bamboo groves, is fitting for a war that is being deliberately forgotten in China. By official reckoning, 20,000 Chinese died during the first month of fighting, when this country's forces invaded Vietnam in the face of spirited resistance, and untold others died as the war sputtered on through the 1980's. There are no official estimates of Vietnamese casualties, but they are thought to have been lower. Sixteen years on, China has produced no "Rambo," much less a "Deer Hunter" or "Platoon." There have been a few movies, novels and memoirs about the suffering of the soldiers and their families. But no searing explorations of the horror or moral ambiguity of war. There are no grander monuments than cemeteries like these, found mostly in this remote border region. China, in short, has experienced no national hand-wringing, and has no Vietnam syndrome to overcome. Many of the veterans themselves are hard-pressed to say why they fought the war. Most are reluctant to discuss it with an outsider, and even rebuff their families. Asked what the war was about, Long Chaogang, a reticent 42-year-old infantryman who saw heavy combat, paused and said, "I don't know." Asked how he explained his past to his family, he said that when his 12-year-old daughter had once inquired he simply told her it was none of her business. Forgetting on such a great scale is no passive act. Instead, it is a product of the government's steely and unrelenting efforts to control information, and history in particular. Students reading today's textbooks typically see no mention of the war. Authors who have sought to delve into its history are routinely refused publication. In 1995, a novel about the war, "Traversing Death," seemed poised to win a national fiction award but was suddenly eliminated from the competition without explanation. If the Chinese authorities have been so zealous about suppressing debate it is perhaps because the experience, which effectively ended in a bloody stalemate, runs so contrary to the ruling Communist Party's prevailing narratives of a China that never threatens or attacks its neighbors, and of a prudent and just leadership that is all but infallible. The ungainly name assigned to the conflict, the "self-defense and counterattack against Vietnam war," seeks to reinforce these views. That China initiated hostilities is beyond dispute, historians say, and the conflict was fought entirely on Vietnamese soil. It is also generally held that if the war did not produce an outright defeat for China, it was a costly mistake fought for dubious purposes, high among them punishing Vietnam for overthrowing the Khmer Rouge leader of Cambodia, Pol Pot, a Chinese ally who was one of the 20th century's bloodiest tyrants. Since then, some historians have speculated that the war may also have fit into the modernization plans of China's former paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, by highlighting the technological deficiencies of the Maoist People's Liberation Army, or P.L.A. Others say the war was started by Mr. Deng to keep the army preoccupied while he consolidated power, eliminating leftist rivals from the Maoist era. Today, veterans often cling to these explanations but also fume about being used as cannon fodder in a cynical political game. "We were sacrificed for politics, and it's not just me who feels this way - lots of comrades do, and we communicate our thoughts via the Internet," said Xu Ke, a 40-year-old former infantryman who recently self-published a book, "The Last War," about the conflict. "The attitude of the country is not to mention this old, sad history because things are pretty stable with Vietnam now. But it is also because the reasons given for the war back then just wouldn't stand now." Mr. Xu, who now works as an interior designer in Shanghai, said he had traveled the country at his own expense to research the book and found that at library after library materials about the war had been removed. A compendium about the 1980's so complete as to have the lyrics of the decade's most popular songs said nothing of the conflict. "It's like a memory that's been deleted, as if it never even happened," Mr. Xu said. "I went to the P.L.A. historians for materials, and they said 'Don't even think about it.' The attitude of China is like, let's just look toward the future and get rich together." The war did produce one star of popular culture. A singer named Xu Liang, who lost a leg in combat, became a hero and idol when he appeared on national television seated in a wheelchair in uniform and sang about the virtues of personal sacrifice. Mr. Xu (who is unrelated to the author of "The Last War") went on to give more than 500 pep talks around the country before disappearing from public view around 1990, just after the war's end. Today, he is so disillusioned that he tells people who recognize him on the streets of Beijing that they must be mistaken. Asked whether the war was just, he said China's leaders used Vietnam as a convenient enemy to quell internal conflict. "Propaganda is in the government's hands," he said. "What does a worthless ordinary man know? When they want to do something, they can find a thousand justifications, but these are just excuses. They are not the genuine cause."
Radio Free Asia 2 Mar 2005 www.rfa.org Tiananmen Mother Calls on China's Parliament to Re-Assess Massacre 2005.03.02 HONG KONG—As Beijing gears up for the annual session of China's National People's Congress (NPC), relatives of those killed during the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement have appealed once more to the country's leaders to re-assess the official verdict. The outspoken leader of the Tiananmen Mothers, Ding Zilin, was under tight surveillance ahead of the NPC session, which begins March 5 in the Chinese capital. Calls made by an RFA reporter to her Beijing home were interrupted with loud interference after a few seconds. Ding and around 100 other Tiananmen-related families have sent an open letter to the NPC, calling for a re-assessment of the official verdict of "counterrevolutionary rebellion" on the 1989 pro-democracy movement, and a rehabilitation of disgraced former Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, who died in January. Official probe sought "The June 4th Incident remains a blot on China’s history," said the letter, which was released by a New York-based human-rights group. It called for a new official investigation into the events of June 1989, legal redress and compensation for the victims and their families, and inquiries by the state prosecutor to establish official accountability for June 4, Human Rights in China (HRIC) said in a statement on its Web site. "The Communist Party ought to understand where we're coming from," Tiananmen relative Zhang Xielin told RFA's Mandarin service. "We recognize the National People's Congress. We are using the existing system to communicate with them in a legal way. If they don't answer us, then I can only say it puts them in the wrong. They have no respect for the law," she said. Ti Zhiyong, who lost a leg when People's Liberation Army troops fired on unarmed crowds in the streets around Tiananmen Square, told RFA: "It's been 16 years since 1989 now, and each year the burden is heavier than the last." "Every year we have tried to make our wishes and requests clear to the government in a peaceful, reasonable and legal way. And every year we try in vain," he said. The open letter said political reforms had regressed seriously since the fourth generation leadership under Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao took office, and that human rights and freedom of expression had also been severely curtailed. "This was most recently exemplified by repressive measures the authorities took against Ding Zilin and others who sought to commemorate former Party Secretary Zhao Ziyang following his death on Jan. 17," the letter said.
Rediff.com 26 Feb 2005 An attempt to heal Gujarat's wounds Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | February 26, 2005 21:38 IST Dr Mukul Sinha, the Ahmedabad-based lawyer of Janandolan, has initiated a move that can have a lot of impact on the issue of justice to the victims of the Gujarat riots. Dr Sinha is cross-examining the witnesses deposing before the Nanavati Commission, which is looking into the riots. On February 28, 2005, the third anniversary of the attack on the Sabarmati Express, which triggered the riots, Sinha has convened a meeting in Ahmedabad for "peace, justice and reconciliation". He says it is time to build confidence amongst Hindus and Muslims and end the mistrust. "The cases of Muslim riot victims are falling apart in courts," says Sinha. "We want reconciliation at the grassroots level to help the Muslim victims. We are handling their cases. We know how much they are suffering." Sinha, who has spoken to representatives of the two communities, has a few suggestions: - Let all cases related to the riots, except those concerning murder or rape/molestation, be compounded with the consent of all the accused, and let the accused be discharged. Any legal hurdle in achieving this goal should be overcome by amending the law. - Withdraw all POTA charges from the cases that are left over. - Set up special courts in each district to dispose off all compensation claims. - Rehabilitate all victims -- rural and urban. - Set up tripartite committees at the state as well as district levels. These should have representatives from both the communities and from the government to supervise all the above measures and bring about reconciliation at the grassroots level. These suggestions, which will help more than 4,000 Hindu accused as well, are certainly going to be controversial. Many will dub them as "out of court settlements". "If you settle these cases without seeking justice what about finding the truth?" asks political analyst Achyut Yagnik. "Truth should precede justice. Even in South Africa (when a commission was formed to hear the victims of the apartheid regime) it was known as Truth and Reconciliation Commission." "The whole move is meaningless because Muslims who are arrested under POTA can't be set free unless the state withdraws the charges. In the case of riot cases the state itself was responsible for the riots. I fail to understand the strategy," he says. Yagnik asks, "Why should we not know the truth about the role of the Gujarat police, RSS, VHP and the state itself?" According to Sinha, except the Sabarmati Express case and the Akshardham shootout case, all other cases should be compounded and some kind of agreement arrived at. He says, "We are having the bargaining chip. Muslims will not lose out anyway if we try to help POTA victims. What is the point in losing case after case? It is easy to talk about theories. But Muslims are suffering. What right people have to criticise when they are unaware of grassroots realities?" Sinha says that he has talked to 40 muftis of Ahmedabad and scores of Muslim victims who wants "reconciliation". Mukhtar Ahmed, a social worker serving the Muslim victims of Kalol in Panchmahal district, says, "This is a compromise. This will encourage riots. How can one indulge in riots and than compromise with the victims? What about process of law?" However, he too agrees that the riot victims are nowhere near getting justice. He says that in Panchmahal, more than 480 Hindu accused have been acquitted in 40 riot cases because the police investigations were weak. In Panchmahal, 179 cases were registered and 66 of them were closed because the complaint was found baseless or victims could not provide enough information. Later, some cases were reopened because of a Supreme Court judgment, but the police investigations have always been tardy, says Ahmed. According to him, Sinha's move will "award injustice to victims instead of justice". But Sinha adds, "I am aware of some reactions and I am open to the debate and ideas over the issue." A source in the Gujarat government says that the Narendra Modi government is aware of Sinha's proposed meeting. A senior Bharatiya Janata Party functionary says, "There are a large number of vested interest in India and abroad who don't want any kind of settlement between Hindus and Muslims of Gujarat. They will never allow Sinha or others to move towards reconciliation. Sinha's move may not succeed."
Indo-Asian News Service 26 Feb 2005 VHP to mark Godhra anniversary: [India News]: Ahmedabad, Feb 26 : The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will organise a religious function at Godhra Sunday to mark the 2002 train torching there in which 59 people were killed. VHP officials said Saturday that a prayer meeting would be held at 12 noon in Godhra town, 130 km from here. The VHP has organised similar functions in Godhra for the last two years. The train carnage Feb 27, 2002 had sparked a communal carnage in Gujarat, the worst since the country's independence, in which over 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed.
sify.com 1 Mar 2005 Naxals massacre eight villagers in Andhra Tuesday, 01 March , 2005, 12:55 Hyderabad: In renewed bloodletting, some 30 Maoists gunned down eight villagers after lining them up and chopped off the limbs of two others in a pre-dawn attack in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh. The ultras blew up a forest rest house in Tadvai mandal headquarters of Warangal district, injuring a CRPF constable in another late night strike, the police said. About 30 naxals descended on the village in Vempenta forest of Pamulpadu mandal in Kurnool district in the wee hours, marched them off into the forest at gun point and shot eight of them dead, they said. The ultras also chopped off the hands and legs of two villagers. The two, Nemali Shiva Reddy and Addala Shanker, were rushed to Kurnool government hospital, the police added. The deceased have been identified as Nemali Ravi, Tavidu, Rajender Goud, Janardhan, Murli, Swamy Das, Mukkala Shivaiah and G Samula. In Warangal district, a CRPF constable was injured in an exchange of fire with the naxals after they blew up a forest rest house, the police said.
Indian Express 18 Feb 2005 Modi cornered by BJP rebels again Publish Date : 2/28/2005 2:33:00 PM Source : Political News ExpressNewsline.com Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi finds himself cornered as dissidents from his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have mounted a second campaign against what they say is his autocratic style of functioning. The ongoing budget session of the state assembly has provided yet another opportunity for the rebel camp to launch a concerted campaign against Modi after a nearly successful attempt to dislodge him in June last year. Of the BJP's 129 legislators, the number of dissidents has reportedly touched 60, many of whom made representations before Rajendrasinh Rana, the state party president, former chief ministers Keshubhai Patel and Suresh Mehta and former central ministers Kashiram Rana and Vallabhbhai Kathiria. The dissidents' contention is the same as the last time -- they have complained about the "dictatorial ways" of Modi. While a change in his style of functioning is what some want, others want a change in leadership. The rebel camp plans to meet at Keshubhai Patel's residence Monday to chalk out its strategy, sources said. Senior BJP leaders are also considering making representations before the party's central leadership, they said. The leaders reportedly expressed their views Friday at the ongoing "shibir" or workshop here of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP. Patel and Kashiram Rana, Modi's archrivals in the state, are understood to have briefed top RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat on the crisis brewing in the party. While the leaders are tight-lipped, a dissident legislator said on condition of anonymity that Bhagwat was apprised of legislators' views on Modi's style of functioning. The rebel camp's attempts last year had received a temporary boost when former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee too joined in and blamed Modi's policies for the BJP-led alliance's defeat in the general election. The RSS, however, objected to this and threw its weight behind Modi. The BJP dissidents are taking no chances this time and the RSS workshop provided them a platform to take the organisation in confidence. Modi won a reprieve last year by assuring the central leadership of making legislators part of the decision-making process. He, however, did little to win back the trust of legislators. In particular, the demand from dissidents' for expansion of his small ministry and appointments to plum posts in state-run boards and corporations remained unfulfilled. Adding to Modi's woes is the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), the farmer's body aligned with the RSS. The group, which has led several movements protesting the Modi government's policies, reportedly made presentations about its grievances before senior RSS functionaries this week.
Coalition Against Genocide 24 Feb 2005 US religious coalition protests Modi's visit:- New York | February 24, 2005 3:07:45 PM IST New York, Feb 24 : A coalition of American and Indian American religious leaders and rights activists has demanded that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi be stopped from entering the US for his "campaign of extremism". It has written to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "to encourage the denial of a visa or, should he already have a visa, barred entrance into the country". Modi, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, is scheduled visit the US in the last week of March to attend the annual convention of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) at Fort Lauderdale in Florida March 24. Joesph K. Grieboski, president of the International Institute on Religion and Public Policy who is the prime mover of a petition to Rice, told IANS: "Under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998 the US can deny visas to those involved in religious persecution." "Since taking office as chief minister of Gujarat on Oct 7, 2001, Modi has pursued a campaign of extremism targeting religious minorities in Gujarat," the letter to Rice said. "The most egregious violation of religious freedom engaged by Modi - the orchestrated attacks in Gujarat in 2002 in which more than 2,000 Muslims were killed during government condoned riots - unfortunately falls outside the consideration of the International Religious Freedom Act. The aftermath of the riots, however, has demonstrated that Modi and his BJP government are not in compliance with the spirit and standards of IRFA." "The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 was established as a tool to advance freedom of religion globally on the one hand, and to punish those individuals and regimes responsible for reprehensible acts of persecution and discrimination on the other," Grieboski said. "Section 405(a) items 7 and 8 of the International Religious Freedom Act call for 'the denial of one or more working, official, or state visits; the delay or cancellation of one or more working, official, or state visits' to the United States of those who are responsible for severe violations of religious freedom. Modi is just such a responsible party," he said. "His planned campaign of religious violence and persecution has been evidenced in his severe violations of religious freedom and is due cause for him to be turned away from our borders." "We are now calling on the United States government to stand by the commitment made by President George W. Bush in his second inaugural address where he spoke of America's belief in human dignity will guide our policies," he said. Asked if he believed that given the strong bilateral relations between the US and India, Washington would actually heed his request, Grieboski said, "That is precisely the reason why it is more possible now to do so." There has been no known case of a political leader from India having been denied a visa on these grounds. To the question whether he realistically expected the visa to be denied to Modi, Grieboski said: "Your guess is as good as mine." The letter to Rice refers to instances, including the passage of anti-conversion laws by both Gujarat and Tamil Nadu in 2003, as well as "aggressive surveying" of Christian families and agencies by the Modi government. The letter was signed by some Sikh, Muslim and Christian groups. However, there was no Hindu group that had signed on. The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which claims to be the largest advocacy group for Muslims in the US, also sent out an "Action Alert" urging members to send letters to the State Department to block Modi's entry into the US. Those opposed to Modi's entry into the United States have formed a group, the Coalition Against Genocide (CAG), to press for action by the AAHOA and by US government officials. (IANS) Coalition Against Genocide website
www.nysun.com 20 Mar 2005 Matthews of 'Hardball' Retreats from Speech After Muslim Protest BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun March 10, 2005 A prominent talk show host has canceled a speech to a conference of Indian-American hoteliers after coming under pressure from Muslim organizations and human-rights groups, who said another speaker invited to the meeting has a record of condoning anti-Muslim violence. The host of MSNBC's "Hardball," Chris Matthews, announced yesterday that he would not appear as planned on March 24 at the Asian-American Hotel Owners Association meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "Due to a scheduling conflict, Chris Matthews has canceled this appearance," an MSNBC spokesman, Jeremy Gaines, said. He would not elaborate on the nature of the conflict. In recent days, Muslim activists and others flooded the network with calls, letters, and e-mail urging Mr. Matthews to distance himself from the group. An Indian official billed as the "chief guest" at the meeting, Narendra Modi, has been accused of tolerating anti-Muslim violence in the state of Gujarat, where he is chief minister. The president of the Indian Muslim Council-USA, Dr. Ashwini Rao of New York, said he does not credit the official explanation for Mr. Matthews's action. "Most likely, that's not correct, because we've been talking to him for the last week and a half, at least, and they've never said it's a scheduling conflict," Dr. Rao said. "I was hoping he'd take a more moral stance." Mr. Modi has been condemned by various human rights groups for failing to rein in anti-Muslim riots in 2002 that led to the deaths of more than 1,000 Gujarat residents. The Indian governor was "directly involved in this pogrom and this hatred," Dr. Rao asserted. He said Mr. Modi espouses a supremacist philosophy known as Hindutva. "This is an ideology that was inspired by Mussolini and Hitler. They want to have the same thing in India, where India is solely for upper-caste Hindus," Dr. Rao said. Last month, 30 human-rights activists asked Secretary of State Rice to block Mr. Modi's trip to America. They labeled him an "egregious violator" of religious freedom and said he should be barred from the country under a 1998 law, the International Religious Freedom Act. Among the signatories to the letter are the director of the religious freedom program at Freedom House, Nina Shea, and the advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, Thomas Malinowski. One of those who helped draft the letter pointed out that the human rights violations in Gujarat have been documented in State Department reports. "We're not trying to tell them anything different that they don't already know," an official with the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy, Benjamin Marsh, said. Mr. Marsh said that if the 1998 law is used to bar the Indian official, it would be the first time that provision has been used. "We're trying to set a precedent here that Mr. Modi is a perfect example of someone not to let into the country," Mr. Marsh said. A spokesman for the State Department, Steven Pike, said his agency has a policy of not commenting on visa issues involving specific people. "That is an individual matter between him and the consulate," Mr. Pike said. An official at the Indian Embassy in Washington referred calls about Mr. Modi's visit to the Indian consulates in New York and Houston. Diplomats there did not respond to requests for comment. Mr. Modi is also to make a speech to an Indian-American group in the theater at Madison Square Garden on March 20 before he visits Florida. "I don't see any reason why he should be stopped to come here," an organizer of the New York event, Sunil Nayak, said in an interview. "The purpose of the trip is strictly business. Basically, he's coming here to let people know what development has taken place in the state of Gujarat." Mr. Nayak, a hotel owner from New Brunswick, N.J., said Mr. Modi is popular with Indian-Americans in the hospitality business. "Most of the Patels that you have heard of are from the same state," Mr. Nayak said. He noted that the 2002 riots are the subject of continuing litigation in India. "It's an event they are talking about that's three years old. He's innocent until proven guilty," Mr. Nayak said. "He's been elected after the event, so the people have given him the mandate." Mr. Nayak flatly rejected the claims that Mr. Modi wants to create a state modeled on the Nazi regime. "It's absolutely not true," Mr. Nayak said. "Nazism and Hitler has only been brought in to get Jewish people involved in this." Mr. Modi's critics are planning protests outside the speeches at New York and Florida. The treasurer of the hotel owners' group, Dilipkumar Patel of Atlanta, said Mr. Matthews notified the group last Friday of his decision to drop out. "We received a notice from his office: he's going to cancel," Mr. Patel said. "Why did he cancel? We have not even asked him." A person familiar with the situation said Mr. Matthews did not learn until recently about the other speakers on the conference program. Mr. Patel said he harbors no ill will toward the fast-talking television host, who was to receive between $45,000 and $50,000 for the speech. Mr. Patel did express resentment toward Mr. Modi's opponents for attempting to squelch the minister's appearances in America. "It means they are controlling me. They are telling me what to do. They are trying to control my freedom of speech," Mr. Patel said. In a bizarre and mysterious twist, some in the press corps learned of Mr. Matthews's decision from a Council on American-Islamic Relations news release that was distributed to reporters yesterday via an e-mail list the Pentagon uses to circulate stories about the military. The Pentagon later issued a statement calling the distribution unintentional and saying it had "taken steps to guard against a recurrence." A spokesperson for the Islamic group, Rabiah Ahmed, denied that her organization sent the message out through the Pentagon list. "We had nothing to do with it," she said. "Apparently, somebody hacked into their computer system and sent out our press release on their listserv."
Background: www.aahoa.com Mar 2005 Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi AAHOA is honored to welcome Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the chief guest of its 2005 Annual Convention and Trade Show! A master political strategist, a firebrand agitator, an able administrator, an extraordinary orator... These are but few of the phrases used to describe Chief Minister of Gujarat. Shri Narendra Modi, the 14th head of the state of Gujarat is all of these and much more. A visionary and an achiever, he has not only emerged as a young political leader but has also successfully risen as an icon of political leadership. Shri Narendra Modi is a man ahead of his time. He excites even the most radical thinkers with innovative ideas in virtually any field of knowledge that he touches. He is a perfect blend of practical wisdom and long-term vision, a combination of courage and compassion and an ideal mix of thought and action. In 1974, as a youth, he spearheaded the "Nava Nirman Andolan" against the corruption. His leadership qualities caught the eyes of several leaders including Shri Jaypraksh Narayan who carried this Andolan against corruption to every nook and corner of the country. The emergency of 1977 was a turning point for Shri Narendra Modi as he proved his mettle to leaders, boosted the morale of the workers and led movements to restore democracy in the state. In 1988, Shri Narendra Modi took over as the General Secretary of the BJP in Gujarat. There has been no turning back since. In 1996, he took charge of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir as National Secretary, BJP and played an important role in installing BJP and its allies in these states. 1999 was a crucial year as Shri Narendra Modi reached new heights when he became the National General Secretary, BJP. As a skilled and capable organizer, Shri Narendra Modi not only nurtured the growth of the BJP in Gujarat and other states, he took over the reigns of the leadership in the State as Chief Minister of Gujarat in October 2001 from the Rajkot 2 constituency. As Chief Minister, he has emphasized the need for rural development, an ideal long desired by Mahatma Gandhi. He has therefore initiated the 'Samras Gram Yojna' - the scheme of unanimously elected gram panchayats. On the issue of female education, which he considers the foundation of progress, he has introduced 'Vidya Laxmi' and 'Kanya Kelavani Yojana' where female students are encouraged with financial rewards and incentives. The Central Government, impressed by this innovative plan, has advised other states to follow suit. An ardent crusader against red tapism and corruption, he envisaged the 'Lok Kalyan Mela' scheme, where he has brought the government to the common man. His unique e-governance 'Tele-Fariyaad' system has opened the doors of the government to the remote villages of Gujarat. Complaints from various parts of Gujarat can be lodged by telephone and processed within hours of being received. The 'video Gram Sabha' has also promoted people's participation in rural management and administration using new technology in the process of rural development. Shri Narendra Modi is no ordinary man, certainly no ordinary Chief Minister. The BBC and the Business Standard have hailed him as the 'Man for the 21st century for Gujarat'. He truly abides by the saying of his spiritual guru, Swami Vivekananda, " Awake, arise and stop not, till the goal is reached." For Shri Narendra Modi, the 14th Chief Minister of Gujarat, the strive to go par excellence continues..
Times of India School texts heil Hitler, slam GandhiHARIT MEHTA TIMES NEWS NETWORK - THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2004 AHMEDABAD: If you want to see history through coloured vision, refer to the social science textbooks taught in Gujarat schools. In what should alarm parents of children in these schools, authors of social studies textbooks published by Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks have found faults with the freedom movement and glorified Fascism and Nazism. So, while a class VIII student is taught the 'negative aspects' of the non-cooperation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, class X social studies textbook has chapters on 'Hitler, the Supremo' and 'Internal Achievements of Nazism'. In the chapter on 'Gandhian Era and National Movement', a subheadline 'The Negative Aspect' goes on to read: "The resolution to start the non-cooperation movement was passed with a thumping majority in the annual session of the Congress held in 1920. According to that resolution, as a part of the struggle against the government, people were asked to boycott government functions, titles, schools and colleges, legislatures, courts local selfgovernment institutions and foreign goods." It further says, "Gandhiji undertook a tour of the whole country for the propagation of the struggle. A large number of students left schools and college teachers resigned their jobs in large numbers." It also states that "Chittaranjan Das, Motilal Nehru, Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajgopalachari, Rajendra Prasad and many others left their legal practice and devoted the remaining years of their lives to the service of the nation." The para ends with "Students voluntarily organised protest rallies against those who co-operated with the government. They held tribunal courts.Workers in tea gardens in Assam and in coal mines went on strikes." The silver lining is that under the headline 'The Positive Aspect', constructive programmes of Hindu-Muslim unity during the freedom movement gets a mention. Quite on the contrary, the class X textbook gives a frighteningly uncritical picture of both Fascism and Nazism . The strong national pride that both these phenomena generated, the efficiency in the bureaucracy and the administration and other 'achievements' are detailed, but the violent, uncivilised and uncritical results of the politics of exclusion — of Jews, trade unionists, migrant labourers, any section that did not fit into Mussolini or Hitler's definition of rightful citizen — just do not find any mention. "They committed the gruesome and inhuman act of suffocating 60 lakh Jews in gas chambers" is all the book says about the Holocaust. Surprisingly, unlike the Indian freedom movement, there are no "negative aspects" underlined. Section 'Ideology of Nazism' reads: "Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time by establishing a strong administrative set-up....He instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people."
Times of India 30 Sept 2004 timesofindia.indiatimes.com In Modi's Gujarat, Hitler is a textbook hero HARIT MEHTA TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2004 05:11:36 AM ] Sign into earnIndiatimes points AHMEDABAD: Gandhi is not so great, but Hitler is. Welcome to high school education in Narendra Modi's Gujarat, where authors of social studies textbooks published by the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks have found faults with the freedom movement and glorified Fascism and Nazism. While a Class VIII student is taught 'negative aspects' of Gandhi's non-cooperation movement, the Class X social studies textbook has chapters on 'Hitler, the Supremo' and 'Internal Achievements of Nazism'. The Class X book presents a frighteningly uncritical picture of Fascism and Nazism. The strong national pride that both these phenomena generated, the efficiency in the bureaucracy and the administration and other 'achievements' are detailed, but pogroms against Jews and atrocities against trade unionists, migrant labourers, and any section of people who did not fit into Mussolini or Hitler's definition of rightful citizen don't find any mention." They committed the gruesome and inhuman act of suffocating 60 lakh Jews in gas chambers" is all the book, authored by a panel, mentions of the holocaust. The section on 'Ideology of Nazism' reads: "Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time by establishing a strong administrative set up. He created the vast state of Greater Germany. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race. He adopted a new economic policy and brought prosperity to Germany. He began efforts for the eradication of unemployment. He started constructing public buildings, providing irrigation facilities, building railways, roads and production of war materials. He made untiring efforts to make Germany self-reliant within one decade. Hitler discarded the Treaty of Versailles by calling it just 'a piece of paper' and stopped paying the war penalty. He instilled the spirit of adventure in the common people". A few classes junior, students in Gandhi's home state read that the Bapu really may have been overrated. In the chapter on 'Gandhian Era and National Movement', there's a section sub-headlined 'The Negative Aspect'. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/msid-868469,prtpage-1.cms
March 1, 2005 Indonesia Welcomes U.S. Plan to Resume Training Its Military By JANE PERLEZ JAKARTA, Indonesia, Feb. 28 - Indonesia welcomed a plan by the Bush administration to restore a military training program that was canceled 13 years ago, saying Monday that it opened the door to a new era between the nations. "Because of the very fundamental nature of the changes in Indonesia, this should be the best of times in U.S.-Indonesian relations," said Marty Natalegawa, the spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. "It would be ironic if we were to look back and see happier times with the United States when Indonesia was run by an autocrat." Mr. Natalegawa was referring to the three decades of authoritarian rule by Gen. Suharto, which ended in 1998. The State Department announced over the weekend that the Indonesian government's cooperation with an F.B.I. investigation into the deaths of two American teachers in Papua Province in 2002 had been great enough to warrant the resumption of military ties. Under the new administration policy, Indonesia will be reinstated in the Pentagon's international military education and training program, which allows for combat training of selected officers in the United States. Congressional approval, which is required, is considered a formality, officials said. Citing human rights abuses by the Indonesian military, Congress in 1992 restricted arms sales and most American training for Indonesia. It enacted new curbs in 1999, after a rampage by an army-backed militia in what was then East Timor Province, and again in 2003, after the killings of the teachers. A report by the Indonesian police after the killings said there was a "strong possibility" that the attack was organized by elements of the Indonesian Army. But the F.B.I. inquiry led to the indictment in the United States of an Indonesian citizen, Anthonius Wamang, as the suspect in the killings. Mr. Wamang remains at large. A leading opponent of restoring full-scale military training, Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, has told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it was premature to do so, an aide to the senator said. The Indonesian military had not accounted for its past human rights abuses, and should not be rewarded with a program it long sought, said the aide, Tim Rieser. In statements on Monday, human rights groups also criticized the decision. "This shows the United States places its strategic interests ahead of human rights concerns," Hendardi, a prominent human rights lawyer here, told The Associated Press. The Bush administration has been eager to get closer to the Indonesian military, which it sees as an important potential partner in its campaign against Al Qaeda. But until Indonesia accepted American military help in the tsunami rescue in January, the administration had not pushed Congress hard for resumption of full-scale training. The administration seized on that episode as a way to move forward. The allocation for the program for this year is only about $600,000, far less than the several million the United States has been spending annually since Sept. 11, 2001, training Indonesian soldiers in counterterrorism, human rights and civil-military relations. Senator Leahy said he believed that the program, which excluded combat training, was sufficient for the Indonesian military and allowed the administration to maintain the relations it wanted. The new defense minister, Juwono Sudarsono, said in a recent interview that he wanted the training program resumed so middle-rank Indonesian officers could receive a broader education in modern military practices. Mr. Juwono, who has acknowledged human rights abuses in the military, is scheduled to go to Washington in two weeks to showcase, he said, the seriousness of the new Indonesian government in reforming the military. He says he is pushing more budget transparency with the aim of forcing officers to withdraw from the lucrative, often corrupt, businesses they run on the side.
AFP 2 Mar 2005 Iraq Pulls Out Of International Criminal Court Baghdad, 2 March 2005 -- Iraq's interim government has revoked its decision to adhere to the International Criminal Court, which it had announced just two weeks ago. State television says that Iraq pulled back from the court today. It offered no explanation. The ICC, based in The Hague, is the first permanent court mandated to try charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. It began operating in July 2002. Several members of the former regime of Saddam Hussein, including the ousted president himself, are due to face trial in Iraq for war crimes. Almost 100 countries have ratified the Rome treaty recognizing the ICC. A notable exception is the United States, which opposes the court. (AFP)
March 1, 2005 Blast Kills 122 at Iraqi Clinic in Attack on Security Recruits By WARZER JAFF and ROBERT F. WORTH HILLA, Iraq, Feb. 28 - A suicide bomber steered a sedan full of explosives into a thick crowd of Iraqi police and army recruits here on Monday morning, killing at least 122, Iraqi officials said, in the deadliest single bombing since the American invasion nearly two years ago. The bombing in Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad, tore into a crowd of several hundred recruits who were waiting for required checkups at a medical clinic across from the mayor's office and a large outdoor market. The victims also included men, women and children who were shopping for food and walking through a busy intersection when the car bomb exploded about 8:30 a.m, officials said. The blast left at least 170 people wounded, according to the Interior Ministry, and was so powerful that it set fire to a row of shops across the street. Witnesses described a scene of horrific carnage, with huge pools of blood visible on the pavement and mangled bodies being loaded onto wooden handcarts. Outside the clinic, blood could be seen splashed on a wall above a first-story window. "I was standing inside the door when I saw a car coming fast down the road opposite the clinic," said Alaa Sami, 31, a security guard who had been inside the medical center and escaped unhurt. "All of a sudden the glass and shrapnel started coming down all around my head. When I got outside I couldn't believe it: there were dead bodies everywhere, and blood on the walls and the street." The attack, the latest of dozens aimed at Iraq's fledgling security forces, demonstrated once again that the insurgency still packs the power to set off deadly strikes at will, despite the relatively peaceful national elections in January and the recent capture of several important leaders. Indeed, the deadliness of the attacks appears to have increased recently, Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib said Monday at a news conference in Baghdad. In recent car bombings, "the number of casualties is much more than before," Mr. Naqib said. Police officials in Babil Province, where Hilla is situated, said several people had been arrested in connection with the bombing, but provided no further details, The Associated Press reported. Before the bombing on Monday, a rash of suicide attacks in the past 10 days - including more than half a dozen aimed at disrupting the Shiite holy day of Ashura - had left more than 100 Iraqis dead. Other days have had higher death tolls, like the coordinated attacks in March 2004 that left at least 181 dead in Baghdad and Karbala. But the bombing in Hilla was by a considerable margin the deadliest single bomb attack of the war. The second deadliest took place on Aug. 29, 2003, when a car bomb exploded outside a mosque in Najaf, killing at least 95. The attack in Hilla came a day after Iraqi officials said Syria had captured and handed over Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, a half brother of Saddam Hussein who has been accused of playing an important role in organizing and financing the insurgency. Iraqi officials declined to provide any further details about Mr. Hassan's capture or about reports that Syria had handed over 29 additional suspected insurgents, citing a need for secrecy about current operations. Kassim Daoud, Iraq's national security adviser, said Iraqi and Syrian officials formed a committee to work on security issues four months ago, though he would not say whether the committee had played any role in Mr. Hassan's capture. Syria has been under intense pressure from the United States to provide more help in capturing insurgents. In recent days American and Iraqi officials have rounded up dozens of other people suspected of being militants, including two men arrested last week whom they described as aides to the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was identified last year by Osama bin Laden as Al Qaeda's chief representative in Iraq. But despite those signs of progress, Iraqi police officers and recruits clearly remain very vulnerable targets. Many attacks have been similar to the one in Hilla, with bombers driving vehicles into large crowds of hopeful applicants gathered outside police stations and army compounds. One of the attacks took place in Hilla in January, when a suicide bomber drove into the city's police academy, killing at least 10 people and wounding 36. American officials have declined to provide the exact number of Iraqi security officers killed in the attacks over the past 18 months or so, but they did say the number exceeded 1,300, not counting the attack on Monday. In recent weeks, a number of insurgent attacks have also taken aim at Shiite Muslim holy sites and celebrations in unmistakable efforts to stir sectarian violence. It is not clear whether such a motive figured in the attack in Hilla, a city of 1.2 million whose population is 85 percent Shiite. The insurgency is led by Sunni Arabs, who dominated the government under Mr. Hussein and largely boycotted the national elections in January. One of the challenges facing the Shiites and Kurds, who are now trying to form a government, will be persuading the recalcitrant Sunnis to lay down their weapons and accept a minority status in the new Iraq. Scattered violence broke out elsewhere in Iraq on Monday. In southern Baghdad, a suicide bomber drove into an Iraqi police patrol, killing one officer and wounding four, Interior Ministry officials said. In Baquba, northeast of the capital, an Iraqi civilian was killed and two were wounded when police officers exchanged fire with insurgents near a traffic circle, officials said. The American military announced Monday that an American soldier with the Third Infantry Division - which took over responsibility for the Baghdad area from the First Cavalry Division on Sunday - died Sunday night after being shot while posted at a traffic control point. Near Tikrit, one soldier was killed and two wounded Monday afternoon in a vehicle accident, military officials said. In the northern city of Mosul, two police officers were killed in heavy clashes with insurgents Monday morning in the city's volatile eastern area, witnesses said. Police officers in Baghdad arrested a number of Sudanese men on Monday after closing several blocks around Sadoun Street, and gunfire could be heard in the neighborhood throughout the late morning. Police officials declined to comment on the operation, but Iraqi military officials have said some of the foreign fighters taking part in the insurgency have been Sudanese. Witnesses in Hilla said the suicide bomber here drove a white Mitsubishi sedan down a street that runs into the medical clinic's front entrance, detonating it just as he reached the intersection. The blast crushed the clinic's huge wooden doors, scarred its concrete facade, and left the entire intersection a smoking ruin, the witnesses said. The bomber's car was almost completely destroyed; only a part of the engine could be seen in the street afterward. "The noise was huge," said Basim Ali, 28, one of the police recruits who had been knocked down by the force of the blast. "When I opened my eyes, I found myself surrounded by dead bodies and blood. I couldn't believe my eyes." Hours later, Mr. Ali lay on a cot at Hilla Hospital, where most of the wounded were taken. His left arm was wrapped in a bloody bandage, and his brother stood nearby trying to comfort him. After the attack, the hospital quickly ran out of beds, and dozens of additional victims were taken to a local children's hospital, hospital officials said. Most of the victims appeared to be police and army recruits, but there were a number of women and children among the dead and the wounded, said Dr. Muhammad Dia, the general director of Hilla Hospital. Many of the dead were burned or mangled beyond recognition. Hours after the bombing, two families began fighting over a body at the city morgue, said a police officer at the morgue who identified himself only as Abu Muhammad. Both families insisted it was their son, Mr. Muhammad said, but the body was so disfigured that there was no way to tell. Lying in his hospital bed, Mr. Ali looked baffled and enraged. "If they are really the resistance, why don't they kill Americans?" he said. "This is nothing but an effort to kill Iraqi people and destroy Iraq." Warzer Jaff reported from Hilla for this article, and Robert F. Worth from Baghdad. Edward Wong contributed reporting from Baghdad.
washingtonpost.com 1 Mar 2005 115 Killed By Bomb Outside Iraqi Clinic Many Were Seeking Government Jobs By Jackie Spinner and Saad Sarhan Washington Post Staff Writers Tuesday, March 1, 2005; Page A01 BAGHDAD, Feb. 28 -- Early Monday morning, Younis Qasim sent his 10-year-old son to buy vegetables at the market in central Hilla, a city south of the capital. Later, at home with his wife and family, Qasim heard an explosion, immediately thought of his son and ran out to find him. A huge car bomb had exploded outside a medical clinic, killing at least 115 people and wounding at least 146. It was one of the deadliest attacks of the insurgency, and for Qasim, who hours later had still not located his son, it was a source of both sorrow and outrage. "I am afraid," said Qasim, 34. "This place should have been well protected. How could the police or army not recognize that? Don't they know this country is full of terrorism?" The bomb blew up at 9:30 a.m. as people were lining up at the Popular Clinic of Hilla for medical tests required for positions in the health and education ministries and the security forces, said Qais Hamza, police chief of Babil province, which includes Hilla, a bustling city of nearly half a million people 60 miles south of Baghdad. Witnesses said the blast came from a white Mitsubishi sedan parked on the street. Fire and metal shards from the blast ripped through the crowd of job applicants as well as the nearby vegetable and fruit market, which was filled with women and children shopping for their daily produce. The clinic and nearby buildings were pocked with holes from the blast; pools of blood collected on the sidewalks and in the street. After the dead and wounded were carried away, men collected the stray shoes, scraps of clothes and bags of the victims and tossed them in a pile. And in an all-too-familiar scene following a bomb attack in Iraq, volunteers grimly picked up body parts and placed them on blankets. Muhammed Dhia, the director of Hilla Hospital, said 146 people were injured in the attack. Dozens of people are unaccounted for and the number of dead is likely to climb, he said. Iraqi police barred journalists from speaking with the wounded at the hospital and beat several cameramen who were trying to get inside. A Washington Post special correspondent who was able to enter the emergency room saw patients whose faces were covered in blood. Many of them cried out from the pain of their wounds. Doctors frantically moved among patients. Outside the hospital, anxious family members tried to find out what had happened to their loved ones. The wounded included not only applicants for government jobs, but also residents of Hilla and the surrounding area who had been seeking general medical care, police officials said. A second car bomb exploded Monday at a police checkpoint in Musayyib, about 20 miles north of Hilla, killing at least one policeman and wounding nine, according to police and hospital officials in Baghdad where the casualties were taken. Ali Habeeb, 36, a minibus driver who was being treated at Yarmouk Hospital in Baghdad, said he remembered very little about the attack. Habeeb was on a stretcher awaiting surgery on his face, which was cut in the blast. "I was taking some passengers with me, and suddenly a car exploded," he said. Abid Abbas, 47, one of the minibus passengers, broke his arm in the blast. "A blue car exploded while it was passing the checkpoint," he said. "Most of the injured people are policemen. They have already moved one of the policemen to the morgue." Khalid Alwan had been sitting in his apartment near the clinic. Alwan, 31, heard the clap of the explosion and realized what had happened just before the windows of his apartment shattered in a spray of glass. "We were shocked," Alwan said later as he stepped around pools of blood and pieces of flesh. "I don't know what these cowards get from killing all those people." Hilla, built in the 11th century from the bricks of the ruins of ancient Babylon, is a predominantly Shiite Muslim city. The area is agricultural, and Hilla's surrounding farms produce dates and fruits for shipment to other parts of the country. The city's qaimer, a traditional buttermilk spread, is famous in Iraq. The attack in Hilla was the second major bombing in that city this year. A suicide car bombing on Jan. 5 that targeted an Iraqi police academy killed at least 15. There were no immediate assertions of responsibility for the attacks on Monday. Hours after the bombing in Hilla, Iraq's interim interior minister, Falah Naqib, said at a news conference inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone that his government was working to stop such tragic events. "First of all," Naqib said, authorities need "intelligence and cooperation of the people," adding that the government is "building our intelligence base." It also is organizing "strong forces" to battle the insurgents and control the country's borders, he said. "Once those three elements are complete," Naqib said, "I think we'll be able to control all these terrorist organizations. We've gotten a good experience. . . . I think by the end of summer this year the situation will be . . . different." Naqib said Iraqi police were learning to spot car bombers more quickly and in several recent cases "the suicide bomber was killed before the bomb went off." He added, "The most important thing is that we have to eliminate those pockets of terrorists from the country and we are doing that." Lt. Mohammed Hadi of the Babil police blamed "traitors" for the attack. Hamza, the police chief, said he suspected insurgents connected to the terrorist network of Abu Musab Zarqawi, the Jordanian militant who is responsible for some of the worst incidents of violence in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. The attack in Hilla came two days before the one-year anniversary of coordinated bomb blasts in Baghdad and nearby Karbala on March 2, 2004, that killed about 180 people. More than 100 people also were killed in nearly simultaneous suicide bomb attacks on Feb. 1, 2004, at local offices of the two main Kurdish political parties in northern Iraq. The insurgency in Iraq has been relentless, and political leaders in the process of forming a transitional government acknowledge that their success or failure hangs on their ability to stop the violence. Insurgents routinely target Iraqi security forces and government officials, believing them to be pawns of the U.S. government. "The police are getting better day after day," said Col. Adnan Abdul Rahman, an Interior Ministry spokesman. "But today, maybe there was a mistake by the guards or the policemen who were guarding there, and we are trying to prevent this from happening again." Sarhan reported from Hilla. Staff writer Caryle Murphy and special correspondents Omar Fekeiki, Sahar Nageeb and Bassam Sebti contributed to this report.
March 1, 2005 U.S. Cites Array of Rights Abuses by the Iraqi Government in 2004 By BRIAN KNOWLTON International Herald Tribune ASHINGTON, Feb. 28 - The State Department on Monday detailed an array of human rights abuses last year by the Iraqi government, including torture, rape and illegal detentions by police officers and functionaries of the interim administration that took power in June. In the Bush administration's bluntest description of human rights transgressions by the American-supported government, the report said the Iraqis "generally respected human rights, but serious problems remained" as the government and American-led foreign forces fought a violent insurgency. It cited "reports of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions - particularly in pretrial detention facilities - and arbitrary arrest and detention." The lengthy discussion came in a chapter on Iraq in the department's annual report on human rights, which pointedly criticized not only countries that had been found chronically deficient, like North Korea, Syria and Iran, but also some close American allies, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The allegations of abuses by an Iraqi government installed by the United States and still heavily influenced by it provided an unusual element to the larger report. The report did not address incidents in Iraq in which Americans were involved, like the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which came to light in 2004. A senior State Department official said the criticism of Iraq was in keeping with the administration's approach. "What it shows is that we don't look the other way," the official said. "There are countries we support and that are friends, and when they have practices that don't meet international standards, we don't hesitate to call a spade a spade." The official said Iraqi officials accepted that there had been problems and were correcting their practices. "The Iraqis are not in denial on this," the official added. The report emphasized the larger accomplishments of the Iraqi people, as symbolized by the successful elections of Jan. 30. But it gave extensive details about complaints that the government had violated human rights provisions of the transitional law put in place by the United States and the Iraqi Governing Council shortly after the 2003 invasion. These included reports that police officers in Basra were involved in killing 10 Baath Party members; that the police in Baghdad arrested, interrogated and killed 12 kidnappers of three police officers on Oct. 16, 2004, and that corruption was a problem at every level of government. The document cited without comment a report by Human Rights Watch, an independent advocacy group, that "torture and ill treatment of detainees by police was commonplace," allegedly including "beatings with cables and hosepipes, electric shocks to their earlobes and genitals, food and water deprivation." In one case, the report said, enough evidence had been gathered "to prosecute police officers in Baghdad who were systematically raping and torturing female detainees." Two of them received prison sentences, while four were demoted and reassigned. Prison conditions in Iraq had shown "significant improvement" after the fall of Saddam Hussein, the department said, but many prisons still fell short of international standards. There were also reports of police officers making false arrests to extort money from the families of detainees, and of an Iraqi ministry having members of a political party arrested in order to occupy their offices. "Reportedly," the document said, "coerced confessions and interrogation continued to be the favored method of investigation by police." The broader annual report, which is required by Congress and is formally titled the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, described rights abuses in other allied countries in notably tough language. The report said that the Saudi record of abuses in 2004 "far exceeds the advances," that Egypt's and Pakistan's records were poor, and that Jordan had "many problems." It criticized all four countries over allegations of abusing and torturing prisoners. But the document also struck optimistic notes at times. It cited the success of democratic elections in Afghanistan, Iraq and Ukraine, and suggested that developments in those places, coming as President Bush continued to promote democracy as a counter to terrorism, might be helping to embolden people elsewhere to shed a hopelessness about change. In much of the broader Middle East, "people are increasingly conscious of the freedom deficit in the region," Under Secretary Paula J. Dobriansky said in introducing the report. The official attention paid to Egypt and Saudi Arabia is not new, but some of the language in the report was unexpectedly sharp. In Saudi Arabia, for example, it said: "There were credible reports of torture and abuse of prisoners by security forces, arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detentions. The religious police continued to intimidate, abuse and detain citizens and foreigners. Most trials were closed." Egypt, it said, restricted many basic rights, and its security forces continued to mistreat prisoners, leading to at least 10 deaths in custody. The report on Iraq also covered the year in which the prisoner abuses at Abu Ghraib were uncovered. An acting assistant secretary of state, Michael G. Kozak, was asked Monday how that scandal had affected the administration's latest evaluation. "Look," he said, "the events at Abu Ghraib were a stain on the honor of the U.S.; there's no two ways about it." What mattered, he said, was whether a government worked to redress the abuses that do occur. "I think you've seen the U.S. being very active," he said. The report, coming days after some critics suggested that President Bush had been insufficiently tough with President Vladimir V. Putin, listed several complaints about Russia. It criticized the central government's consolidation of power at the expense of the regions, its restriction of news media, and its allowing of political pressure to taint the judiciary. It said China, which has a growing commercial relationship with the United States, continued to abuse prisoners, harass activists and restrict religious practices. North Korea was condemned for continued "brutal and repressive" treatment of its people; Iran for allowing citizen's freedom to "deteriorate;" and Syria for widespread use of torture, poor prison conditions and mass arrests of Kurds. Sudan's human rights record was called extremely poor, both for restricting freedoms and for the continuing violence by government-linked militias in Darfur Province.
NYT March 2, 2005 2 Members of Hussein Tribunal Are Assassinated in Baghdad By ROBERT F. WORTH BAGHDAD, Iraq, Wednesday, March 2 - A judge and a lawyer with the special tribunal that will try Saddam Hussein and former members of his government were shot and killed Tuesday by gunmen outside their home here, Iraqi officials said. It was the first time a member of the tribunal is known to have been assassinated, though a number of criminal and civil judges have been killed here in recent months. Also on Tuesday, a senior Iraqi official said a half brother of Saddam Hussein who was arrested recently had been captured by Iraqi and allied forces, not by Syria, as Iraqi officials had said over the weekend. The judge, Parwiz Muhammad Mahmoud al-Merani, 59, was killed a day after the Iraqi special tribunal announced the first charges in the approaching trials of former senior officials in Mr. Hussein's government. His son, Aryan Mahmoud al-Merani, 26, who also worked at the tribunal as a lawyer, was killed with him, according to officials at Iraq's Interior Ministry. Three men drove up and fired automatic weapons at the two men around 9 a.m. as they stood outside their family home in Adhamiya, a largely Sunni Arab neighborhood that has been a center of insurgent activity. Witnesses saw the attackers speeding away in a green Opel sedan without license plates, the officials said. The 400 or so tribunal members, including about 100 judges and lawyers, have been provided with security guards, and their names have largely been kept secret to forestall assassination attempts. On Monday, as the first charges were announced, a Western legal expert involved in the trial process said that those working on the tribunal were exposed to dangers and that there had been "some incidents," but he declined to provide details. On Tuesday evening, seven Iraqi police officers were killed in four separate incidents in and around Baghdad, police and hospital officials said. The attacks began when a police lieutenant was killed by gunmen outside his home in the southern Baghdad neighborhood of Doura, Interior Ministry officials said. A group of officers began searching for the killers, the officials said, and were ambushed soon afterward in an attack that left two officers dead. A second patrol then responded to that attack and was struck by a roadside bomb that killed three more officers, the officials said. A seventh officer was shot and killed by gunmen who forced him to stop as he drove home near Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, they said. The killings came a day after a suicide bomber drove into a crowd of police and army recruits gathered outside a medical clinic in Hilla, 60 miles south of Baghdad. The attack left at least 122 dead and 170 wounded, including women and children, and was the deadliest single bombing since the American invasion nearly two years ago. In a similar attack on Wednesday, a car bomb killed at least six Iraqi soldiers and wounded 28 outside an Iraqi Army base where soldier candidates line up to apply in western Baghdad, Iraqi officials said. On Tuesday, the network of the Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi posted a statement on an Islamist Web site claiming responsibility for the Hilla bombing, Reuters reported. The claim by the group, which has waged a campaign of bombings and beheadings that has killed hundreds of Iraqis, could not be verified. Also on Tuesday, the Muslim Scholars Association, an influential Sunni group that includes members who advocate opposition to the American presence here, issued a statement denouncing the Hilla attack. "This operation will open the door for our enemies to carry out more of their evil designs in Iraq," the statement said. "The association demands that all such attacks against innocent Iraqis be stopped." The contrasting statements appeared to lend support to the idea of a tactical rift within the insurgency between hard-line guerrillas like Mr. Zarqawi and others who may be more willing to soften their stance and enter the political arena. At a news conference in Baghdad on Tuesday, Iraq's defense minister, Hazim al-Shalaan, provided new details about the recent capture of one of Mr. Hussein's half brothers, Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan al-Tikriti, who has been accused of playing a major role in the organizing and financing of the insurgency. Mr. Hassan was captured by Iraqi and allied soldiers, Mr. Shalaan said, not by Syrian forces, as Iraqi officials had said Sunday. The Syrians provided the information that led to Mr. Hassan's capture, he added. He refused to say where Mr. Hassan had been captured or to provide any more information about his arrest, saying simply that it was a "small operation" in which Iraqi special forces and allied forces had cooperated. Also on Tuesday, a videotape surfaced showing a French newspaper reporter who is being held hostage pleading for help and saying her health is "very bad." Looking gaunt and frightened, Florence Aubenas, 43, a correspondent for the French daily Libération, appeared seated, clutching her knees with her arms. She stared intently at the camera as she spoke, dressed in a white sweater with her hair falling into her eyes. "I'm very bad psychologically also," she said in English. "Please, it's urgent now. Help me." Ms. Aubenas disappeared after leaving a Baghdad hotel with her Iraqi interpreter on Jan. 5. The new videotape of her plea was dropped at the offices of a news agency in Baghdad, The Associated Press reported. General Faults Syria on Iraq Effort By The New York Times WASHINGTON, March 1 - The commander of American forces in the Middle East said Tuesday that Syria was not doing enough to halt the flow of fighters into Iraq, nor to arrest or expel Iraqi insurgent leaders on its territory. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander, Gen. John P. Abizaid, said Syria had "not yet done enough in our view to stop that infiltration" of insurgent fighters and organizers to and from Iraq. Syria, he said, is a "de facto safe haven for former Baathists" in Iraq, although the extent of official Syrian support was unclear. Senators pressed General Abizaid to assess the Iraqi insurgency, and he said it fielded about 3,500 fighters when the Iraqis held their elections on Jan. 30. But he cautioned that there was "a lot of room for interpretation in the numbers of the insurgency." Later, Defense Department officials emphasized that that number could not be considered a full tally of the insurgent fighters in the country.
AP 10 Mar 2005 41 corpses are found at two sites in Iraq By Patrick Quinn, Associated Press | March 10, 2005 BAGHDAD -- Iraqi authorities found 41 decomposed bodies -- some bullet-riddled, others beheaded -- at sites near the Syrian border and south of the capital, and said yesterday they included women and children who may have been killed because insurgents thought their families were collaborating with US forces. In Baghdad, a suicide bomber driving a garbage truck loaded with explosives and at least one other gunman shot their way into a parking lot in an attempt to blow up a hotel used by Western contractors. At least four people, including the attackers and a guard, were killed. The US Embassy said 30 Americans were among 40 people wounded in the blast. No Americans were killed. In an Internet statement, Al Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack on the Sadeer hotel, calling it the ''hotel of the Jews." Locations of corpses The violence continued this morning. Insurgents dressed in Iraqi police uniforms assassinated the chief of a central Baghdad police station, Reuters reported, citing police sources. The insurgents set up a fake police checkpoint and stopped the officer's car as he was on the way to work at Salhiya police station, the sources said. After asking his name, they shot him along with two other policemen in his car. One of the insurgents filmed the killing, police said. The 41 decomposed bodies were found Tuesday after reports of their stench reached authorities. Twenty-six of the dead were discovered in a field near Rumana, a village 12 miles east of the western city of Qaim, near the Syrian border. Each body was riddled with bullets. The dead were found wearing civilian clothes and one was a woman, police Captain Muzahim al-Karbouli said. The other site was south of Baghdad in Latifiya, where Iraqi troops found 15 headless bodies in a building at an abandoned army base, Defense Ministry Captain Sabah Yassin said. The bodies included 10 men, three women, and two children. Their identities, like the others found in western Iraq, were not known, but insurgents may have viewed them or their relatives as collaborators. Yassin said some of men the found dead in Latifiya were thought to have been part of a group of Iraqi soldiers who were kidnapped by insurgents two weeks ago. While Sunni Arab insurgents have repeatedly targeted Westerners in Iraq, Shi'ite Muslims, top Iraqi officials, and civil servants, even Muslim women are no longer safe. Decapitated bodies of women have begun turning up in recent weeks, a note with the word ''collaborator" usually pinned to their chests. Three women were gunned down Tuesday in one of Baghdad's Shi'ite neighborhoods for being alleged collaborators. And in the northern city of Kirkuk, a woman identified as Nawal Mohammed, who worked with US forces, was killed in a drive-by shooting, police said. The gruesome discoveries in Rumana and Latifiya were among 58 new killings in Iraq announced yesterday, including the death of a US soldier in a Baghdad roadside bombing. Iraq's interim planning minister, Mahdi al-Hafidh, a Shi'ite, narrowly escaped death yesterday after gunmen opened fire on his convoy in the capital. Two of his bodyguards were killed and two others were wounded. ''I'm fine, just sorry about the death of the guards, who were still young," he told state-run Al-Iraqiya TV. ''It is a part of the crisis that Iraq is living, but we will keep going for the sake of Iraq, to get rid of terrorism and build a democratic country." Qataa Abdul Nabi, the director general of the Shi'ite Endowment, was shot to death Tuesday as he drove home -- the second high-ranking member of the Shi'ite charity to be killed in a week. In other violence yesterday, according to Iraqi officials, guerrillas struck a police patrol with a roadside bomb in the southern city of Basra, killing two policeman and wounding three, and two police officers were killed and two others wounded in clashes with insurgents in the northern city of Mosul. Police said the attack on the Sadeer hotel began when insurgents wearing police uniforms shot to death a guard at the Agriculture Ministry's gate, allowing the truck to enter a compound the ministry shares with the hotel. Guards fired on the vehicle and it exploded. The explosion carved a hole in the parking lot that was at least 30 feet wide and more than 10 feet deep. It shattered most windows in the hotel and set cars on fire. Al Qaeda in Iraq posted an Internet statement addressed to its leader, Jordanian-born terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claiming it carried out the attack. Also yesterday, in Rome, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy disputed Washington's version of the events leading to the killing last Friday of an Italian intelligence agent by US troops in Baghdad, saying the agent had notified the proper authorities that he was on his way to the airport after winning the release of a hostage. The top US general in Iraq said he had no indication that Italian officials gave advance notice of the route the Italians' car was taking. In a statement released after the shooting, the US Army's Third Infantry Division, which controls Baghdad, said the vehicle was speeding and refused to stop. The statement said a US patrol tried to warn a driver with hand and arm signals, by flashing white lights and firing shots in front of the car. But in his first major address since the shooting strained relations between the United States and Italy, Berlusconi told lawmakers the car carrying the intelligence agent Nicola Calipari and journalist Giuliana Sgrena was traveling at a slow speed and stopped immediately when a light was flashed. Berlusconi said Calipari had notified an Italian liaison officer, waiting at the Baghdad airport along with an American officer, that they were on their way. However, he added, ''I'm sure that in a very short time every aspect of this will be clarified." The idea that Calipari was killed by friendly fire is painful to accept, Berlusconi said. But he reassured lawmakers: ''The United States has no intention of evading the truth." Berlusconi is a staunch supporter of President Bush and the US-led campaign, and has been struggling to balance his decision to keep 3,000 troops in Iraq against heavy antiwar sentiment in Italy.
BBC 10 Mar 2005 Blast hits Shia funeral in Iraq An explosion has torn through a funeral procession at a Shia mosque in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul causing many casualties, witnesses said. Early reports say at least 19 bodies have arrived at the mortuary in the mainly Sunni Muslim city. US troops have cordoned off the area near the mosque. Iraqi officials have accused Sunni Muslim insurgents of attacking Shia targets in order to spark a civil war in the religiously-divided country. Al-Jazeera television reported that a suicide bomber blew himself up inside al-Shahidain mosque which is located in the central Tameem neighbourhood surrounded by cheap housing. Witnesses described seeing a ball of fire and hearing a huge explosion inside the courtyard of the mosque, which is still under construction. Windows of cars parked outside shattered with the force of the blast and pools of blood formed on ground. Mosul, an Arab-majority city in the mainly Kurdish northern region, has been the scene of fierce clashes between insurgent and US forces and Iraqi government forces since last November.
BBC 10 Mar 2005 Tokyo remembers 1945 bombing raid By Jonathan Head BBC News, Tokyo One night's bombing levelled much of the city People in Tokyo have been marking the 60th anniversary of a massive US night-time bombing raid which destroyed much of the city in 1945. Several memorial services have been held across the city to remember the more than 100,000 people who died. The raid was part of an American strategy to try to wear down Japanese morale ahead of a possible invasion. It has remained controversial because of the death toll, but a ceremony expressed little anger towards the US. At 1000, Buddhist monks began the mournful service of remembrance in a special memorial hall built in Tokyo's Sumida-ku Ward, which was in the centre of the firestorm caused by the US bombing raid 60 years ago. The low-key service was attended by Prince Akishino, second son of the current emperor, and grandson of Emperor Hirohito who led Japan into the Second World War. More than 2,000 mainly elderly residents also crowded into the hall, laying bouquets of flowers and lighting incense. Restrained speeches Many still have vivid memories of the B-29 bombers flying low overhead dropping the incendiary bombs which turned the neighbourhood into an inferno. They recall hellish scenes of people being incinerated as they tried to run, or dying when they threw themselves into the boiling River Sumida. Survivors show no bitterness, only a longing for peace The speeches at the service were restrained, apportioning no blame, and referring to the appalling death toll as a tragedy brought on by war. There was little anger expressed towards the Americans by the survivors either. Most said their experiences that night had simply instilled in them a lifetime passion for peace. The city has built a small museum to commemorate the bombing raid and a few monuments. But this day is always overshadowed by the much larger events later in the year marking the anniversaries of the two atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Jamestown Foundation, 9 Mar 2005 www.jamestown.org Kyrgyz Opposition Continues to Organise Mass Protests The situation in Kyrgyzstan remains very tense following its disputed February 27 parliamentary elections. News reports about massive protest demonstrations organized by the opposition continue to pour in from across the country. In Naryn, a city in central Kyrgyzstan, approximately 600 protesters have been continuously occupying the central city square, immobilizing public transportation. In the village of Karachy, Naryn oblast, demonstrators blocked the Bishkek-Torugart highway, which is the only road connecting Kyrgyzstan with China. The largest protest actions are concentrated in southern Kyrgyzstan. In Jalalabad, one of the largest cities in southern Kyrgyzstan and the administrative center of the oblast with the same name, hundreds of protesters occupied the regional administration building. Most of the protesters are supporters of the local candidate for a parliamentary seat, Zhusupbek Bakiyev, brother of the prominent opposition figure Kurmanbek Bakiyev. After protesters seized the building, they demanded the resignation of both the local administration and Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akayev as well as an annulment of the official results of the February elections. Another protest took place approximately 50 kilometers west of Jalalabad, in Nooken Raion. About 3,000 supporters of Dooronbek Sadyrbayev, an opposition candidate for parliament, blocked the only highway connecting the southern and northern regions of the country, which are divided by a mountain pass. The situation is also reportedly tense in the nearby Jalalabad-Osh Oblast (southern Kyrgyzstan), where more than 1,500 opposition supporters in the town of Uzgen organized a demonstration in front of the offices of the local administration and subsequently seized the building. The protesters demand new, fair parliamentary elections (Akipress, March 6-7). The current protest actions are hardly a surprise. On election day, opposition leader and former minister of foreign affairs Roza Otunbayeva bluntly told Jamestown that the opposition would attempt to repeat the Ukrainian and Georgian scenarios in Kyrgyzstan. However, in the Kyrgyz version, the opposition might lose control of the situation, allowing a desired "velvet revolution" to turn into a bloody revolt. Opposition leaders fully understand the danger of the situation. According to the deputy chairman of the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan, Isenge Boldzhurova, there is a danger that the events in Jalalabad might follow the Aksy pattern. (On March 15, 2002, six protesters were killed in clashes between demonstrators and police in the village of Aksy, Jalalabad Oblast.) At a March 7 press conference organized in Bishkek, Boldzhurova noted that the authorities had dispatched about 300 soldiers from the forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the vicinity of Jalalabad (Akipress, March 7). Boldzhurova also told Jamestown that the authorities are deliberately trying to provoke bloody clashes. "Recently so-called ‘popular brigades' were created under the police umbrella and, as a rule, these formations consist mostly of former convicts. It cannot be ruled out that the members of these brigades will be used as provocateurs so that it would be possible to blame the clashes on the opposition." However, according to President Akayev's press secretary, Abdil Segizbayev, "The opposition in the republic will use all opportunities in order to provoke the authorities to implement extraordinary measures. But they will not be able to achieve this objective" (Akipress, March 7). Ethnicity also plays a very important role in the current standoff. Uzbeks comprise about one-third of the population of southern Kyrgyzstan. Relations between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz are quite tense. For example, in 1990 clashes between Uzbek and Kyrgyz residents in Osh Oblast claimed the lives of 320 people. The majority of the demonstrators in southern Kyrgyzstan are ethnic Kyrgyz, while an Uzbek won the parliamentary seat for the city of Jalalabad, which is contested by the opposition. In reality, the opposition is rallying because of purely political demands. However, many poorly educated local Uzbeks suspect that the opposition is also motivated by nationalist sentiments. Azimzhon Askarov, a human rights activist from Bozor-Qurghan, an Uzbek-dominated district center approximately 30 kilometers west of Jalalabad, told Jamestown that the tragedy of 1990 has not been forgotten and that current events might provoke new clashes. According to the fergana.ru, website, participants in the Jalalabad demonstration shouted insults against Uzbeks and Kyrgyz. The Uzbeks accused Kyrgyz of destabilizing the situation in Kyrgyzstan, while the protesters blamed the Uzbeks for supporting the regime of President Akayev. The mutual verbal accusations soon deteriorated in a brawl. According to witnesses, the special police units and police officers that were guarding the Jalalabad Oblast administration building were in no hurry to intervene (Fergana.ru, March 6). The seizure of the Uzgen local administrative offices may be a precursor to more dangerous events. In 1990 the largest clashes between Uzbeks and Kyrgyz took place precisely in this Uzbek-dominated district center. According to the former Mufti of Kyrgyzstan and the chairman of the international Islamic center, Sadykzhan Kamaluddin, virtually all protesters who occupied the Uzgen building are Kyrgyz from nearby villages.
Slate 9 Mar 2005 slate.msn.com What's With All the Martyrs' Squares? Why they're all over the Middle East. By Daniel Engber Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2005, at 4:34 PM PT Hundreds of thousands of protesters have assembled near Martyrs' Square in Central Beirut. Last July, a major gun battle broke out in Martyrs' Square in Central Baghdad. Is there a Martyrs' Square in every city in the Middle East? Martyrs' Squares are indeed ubiquitous in certain countries, though the exact martyrs who are celebrated vary from place to place. In Beirut, the site was named for Lebanese nationalists executed by the Ottomans during World War I. Both Lebanon and Syria commemorate this event on Martyrs' Day, May 6, but the Martyrs' Square in Damascus honors insurgents killed by the French in 1945. Martyrs' squares, streets, and bridges abound in the Muslim world; many earned their names relatively recently. In the Palestinian city of Hamle, for example, a Martyrs' Square memorializes five boys who were killed by Israeli soldiers. (Famous Martyrs' Squares and streets exist in Nablus and Hebron as well.) In Pakistan, residents of Kohat renamed a local square after security forces killed four Chechen members of al-Qaida there. Prominent Martyrs' Squares also exist in Tripoli, Baghdad, and Port-Said (in Egypt). One of the many Martyrs' Streets in the world runs through Kuwait City, and the Martyrs' Lane in Baku, Azerbaijan, commemorates those who died fighting the Russians and the Armenians. In Sudan, a presidential palace sits on Martyrs' Square in Khartoum. But the Islamic Republic of Iran leads the world when it comes to Martyrs' Squares. At the very least, you can find them in the cities of Tehran, Qum, Rasht, Ahwaz, Tabriz, Gorgan, Shiraz, Arak, Ardebil, and Kerman. Many commemorate the events surrounding the revolution in the late '70s: The Martyrs' Square in Qum used to be called the Fatimi Crossroads but was renamed to honor protesters killed there in January 1978. The square in Tehran honors the victims of a massacre the following September. The sacred city of Mashhad has another Martyrs' Square, associated with the shrine to the ninth-century martyr Imam Reza, who is said to have been killed with poisoned grapes. Martyrdom has long held particular importance for Shiite Muslims (like those in power in Iran). The religious festival of Ashura commemorates the murder of Imam Ali and his son Husayn; the decapitation of Hussein at the Battle of Karbala in 680 contributed to the split between Sunnis and Shiites. In the past century or so, the concept of martyrdom has taken on some secular and nationalist connotations as well. Next question? Explainer thanks Ibrahim Abu-Rabi of the Hartford Seminary, and Tony Sullivan of the University of Michigan. Daniel Engber is a writer in New York City.
AP 7 Mar 2005 Women bare breasts, shout in protest during Prince Charles' New Zealand visit WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Two women who bared their breasts in protest were arrested and dragged away as Britain's Prince Charles arrived for an official function Tuesday in New Zealand's capital. To protest the monarchy, a New Zealand woman had the message 'Get your colonial shame off my breasts' scrawled across her chest and stomach. By Ross Setford, AP The two women, described by police as taking part in "unrelated" protests, were later charged with disorderly behavior. One woman climbed atop a wall, bared her chest and shouted "shame, shame" as Charles walked toward the City Art Gallery doorway. The woman, exposed from the waist up, was grabbed by two uniformed police officers, arrested and marched from the scene as the prince was led into the building. In an apparent protest against the monarchy, the woman had the message "Get your colonial shame off my breasts" scrawled across her chest and stomach. Reporters said the prince appeared to look in the woman's direction and smile as he entered the gallery. Earlier in another part of the Civic Square, a bare-chested woman carrying a small child was hauled away by plain-clothed police moments before the prince would have been confronted by her as he greeted a line of well-wishers. The woman, also bare from the waist up, was dragged away shouting, "I just want to feed my baby." Charles did not appear to notice the woman, local media said. Both women arrested were later freed on bail, police said. In another apparently linked protest, five anti-monarchists stood atop a wall with banners reading "Death to the monarchy" and "Honor the treaty," a reference to British crown breaches of New Zealand's founding treaty with the indigenous Maori people. A woman with a bullhorn chanted, "Shame on the British monarchy, shame for years of colonialism, shame for years of genocide." The protesters shouted "parasites, parasites" as Charles walked through the city's Civic Square greeting some of the more than 600 people gathered to see him. The protests, the first of his five-day visit to New Zealand, caused no disruption. The prince was on the third day of a five-day royal visit to New Zealand, a former British colony that retains Britain's monarch as head of state. A growing republican movement wants to end the link and replace the monarch with a New Zealander. Some monarchists also oppose Charles becoming the nation's future king.
AL-Ahram 10 - 16 March 2005 Issue No. 733 weekly.ahram.org.eg Commentary: Between law and politics In calling for Ariel Sharon to be prosecuted as an international criminal, London's mayor poses the choice between a world governed by the rule of law and a world based simply on the convenience of power, writes Curtis Doebbler* Recently London Mayor Ken Livingstone accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and called for the arrest of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as an international criminal for his crimes against the Palestinians. As one might expect, the Israeli government reacted with outrage, demanding that Livingstone apologise. International law and history, however, seem to require otherwise. A glimpse back at recent history indicates, as Livingstone stated, that many groups have been persecuted in the past. The Jews -- among other minorities -- were persecuted by the Nazis. There is no question that this was a terrible cruelty, affected by a government that claimed to want to exterminate the Jewish population entirely. Muslims have been persecuted too. In Algeria, French colonial government brutally dispensed with Muslim claims to self-determination. In Libya, Hitler's Italian allies in 1931 summarily executed Omar Mukhtar for trying to realise the same ambition. After World War II, Italian General Rodolfo Graziani was found to be a war criminal for his role in suppressing Libyan self-determination. And perhaps the most deadly of campaigns against Muslims were the religiously motivated European crusades. History does not justify persecution. One might think that it would teach us not to make the same mistakes our predecessors made. One might think that the Jews, for example, having being persecuted, would not persecute others. Indeed, having lived through such a horrific tragedy as the holocaust, one might have thought the Jews would be the people most willing to avoid its repetition. This has not been the case and the situation is more complex still, in that the Jews who founded Israel were already busy with their own persecution of Muslims in Palestine when they were confronted by Nazi persecution. The confiscation of Palestinian land and the attempt to imposed conditions of life on Palestinians to drive them from their homes did not begin after the Jews were persecuted in World War II. Already by the beginning of the 20th century it was well underway. In the 1920's Palestinians relentlessly, and with little effect, tried to convince the British occupiers of their land to limit its confiscation by Jews immigrating to Palestine under the pretext of an ancient right. By the start of World War II, one of Israel's founders, Ben Gurion, was writing of a fait compli whereby the leaders of the new State of Israel were now in a position to remove "the Arabs and take their place". Needless to say the confiscation of Palestinian land was a serious violation of international law. This law does not recognise the right of peoples to take land based on title claims that are several thousand years old and that have remained dormant all those years. Instead, international law recognises the right of peoples who have lived on land for hundreds of years to acquire title to that land and more importantly to be able to exercise their right to self-determination. In violation of this law the Palestinians were herded like slaves of the British into a partitioned state in 1948 that ironically, just like apartheid in South Africa for many years, received the blessing of the United Nations. But Livingstone was not giving a lesson in history. He was talking about what is happening today and how that violates international law. Surely he was being blunt, but he was not, as the Israeli ambassador himself was doing, misrepresenting the law when he called Israel's action in Palestine "ethnic cleansing", although he might have been more specific. The crimes of which Livingstone spoke that are being perpetrated by Israel on the Palestinians are best understood as crimes against humanity or the crime of genocide. The distinction between the two is small, but important. But it is equally important to emphasise that ethnic cleansing can be either crime, depending on slightly different conditions being met. Perhaps the crime against humanity that best describes Israel's action is the crime of persecution on political and religious grounds. The intention, or mens rea, of persecution must be to use force against members of a group in a way that causes serious violations of their human rights. The Israeli policy of assassinations is evidence enough of the crime of persecution. It is a policy of the state. It involves the use of force. And it is aimed at individuals whose politics the Israelis do not like. There can be little doubt that Israel's consistent use of force to arbitrarily kill Palestinians in the occupied territories is a crime against humanity. There are many more such crimes. A half century of horrifying human rights reports by credible NGOs and governments have documented these abuses. The United Nations, despite the obstruction of the United States, has even been driven to form a special commission answerable to the General Assembly to record the gross and systematic violations of the human rights of Palestinians. The acts these bodies have recorded include arbitrary killing or murder of men, women and children; the imposition of inhumane conditions of life on Palestinians that have the consequences of exterminating them; the willful causing of physical injury and suffering or torture; the deportation and confinement of civilians; and the taking of civilians as hostages. This is not a complete but only partial list of all the acts Israel undertakes that are crimes against humanity as well as war crimes. The crime of genocide is committed when an individual acts with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group. Thus the additional element is the intention to destroy the group. This difference can be seen in the statement of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that was charged with deciding cases concerning crimes against humanity and genocide. The tribunal has held in the Kupreskic and Others Case that "when persecution escalates to the extreme form of willful and deliberate acts designed to destroy a group or part of a group, it can be held that such persecution amounts to genocide." Ironically, the term "genocide" was coined by Raphael Lemkin in the aftermath of the Nazi persecution of the Jews. He thought that persecution was so serious that there must be a worldwide prohibition that would prevent this from happening again. His efforts lead to the adoption of the Genocide Convention in 1951, which almost every state in the international community is a party to, including Israel. Unfortunately, Israel seems to have used this treaty to develop state policy instead of viewing it as a restriction on such policies. This can be seen in a comparison of Israel's policies towards the Palestinians with the Genocide Convention. The convention lists specific acts as prohibited when they are intended to destroy part or a whole group of people, such as the Palestinians, who have a national, religious and ethnic identity. The Palestinians are without doubt the type of group that this treaty was intended to protect. The listed acts include killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, and deliberately inflicting upon members of the group conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the group in whole or in part. Again, the Israeli policy of targeted killings and its liberal use of force clearly meet the criteria of killing members of the group. The thousands of Palestinian fatalities attest to this. The state policy allowing security forces to torture detained persons undoubtedly causes serious physical and mental harm to the thousands of Palestinians who have been subject to it. And the wall being constructed by Israel is one example of action that causes mental distress for Palestinians and can be interpreted as an act meant to deliberately inflict upon Palestinians conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the group in whole or in part by depriving them of their ability to acquire education, adequate work and development. If Sharon was put in the dock as Livingstone has suggested would be appropriate, and as international law surely indicates is appropriate, he might challenge the most difficult constituent of the crime of genocide. In doing so he would be arguing that he is only guilty of crimes against humanity, but like many international criminals before him he would be entitled to raise all relevant defences. The element of the crime of genocide that he might challenge would be the mens rea or dolus specialis of intending to destroy the Palestinians in whole or part. This element is so difficult to prove that one prominent scholar who several years ago penned a treatise on the crime of genocide claimed that it might be impossible to ever convict someone of the crime. He was wrong. In 1998, several cases before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found individuals guilty of genocide. One of these cases involved the former prime minister of Rwanda Jean Kambanda. The charges did not claim that Kambanda himself actually did anything, but merely that as prime minister he should have taken steps to stop an ongoing massacre. In other words, the act, or actus reus, was a failure to act. But it is the intention, or mens rea, which concerns us here. In relation to intention, the tribunal recognised the difficulties involved in proving intention and thus decided that the "perpetrator's actions, including circumstantial evidence, however may provide sufficient evidence of intent." The tribunal found several facts to constitute evidence of intention. First, there was the large number of members of the group that were targeted by actions that Kambanda did not prevent. Sharon's policies have targeted at least every Palestinian living in the occupied territories; estimated at more than four million. Second, there was the fact that the actions that took place were part of a policy or plan. This was established because Kambanda was prime minister at the time the alleged massacres took place and they were acts that could not reasonably be believed to have taken place without some indirect involvement on the part of the state. Similarly, the killing and persecution of the Palestinian people is continuing on Sharon's watch and there is overwhelming evidence of this being done as part of his government's policy. Even since the ceasefire agreed in Egypt on 8 February 2005, Israeli soldiers have continued killing, including the shooting to death of two children. If Kambanda had the intention to commit genocide there can be no doubt that Sharon can be found to have the same intention. The question that should have been put to Livingston, therefore, was not whether Sharon should be prosecuted as an international criminal, but how this can be done. Like its paymaster the US, Israel has done its best to shield itself from the reach of international law. Like America it frequently ratifies human rights treaties but then just as quickly indicates its bad faith in implementing their provisions by failing to submit to the individual complaint procedures that require separate agreement. But Livingston, having faith in the United Kingdom's adherence to the rule of law may have been thinking of his own country's forums for justice. Indeed, not so long ago the UK's courts indirectly allowed the prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet to go ahead by ruling that he could be extradited to Spain to stand trial. It is true that the British government wiggled out of this surprisingly honest application of the law by finding health grounds upon which to send the Pinochet back to Chile. But the British government must have been embarrassed when Chilean courts held that Pinochet was healthy enough to stand trial. Perhaps Livingstone was thinking that this embarrassment, and the subsequent faux paux of becoming ensnared in the legal quagmire of Iraq, might have encouraged his government to take extra steps to ensure respect for the law. Perhaps he was thinking that although it might be difficult to prosecute Sharon at this moment, preparations should be made, nonetheless, for the day he leaves office. In any event, there can be little doubt that Livingstone had the law on his side when he challenged his country and the world to prosecute Sharon as an international criminal. Consequently, there can be equally little doubt that the criticism that has come his way is based on subjective political interests, not the rule of law. Maybe the time has come where we decide whether we are to live in an international community respecting the rule of law or the rule of political convenience. This is perhaps what Livingstone was asking. * The writer is professor of law at An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine, where he teaches international criminal law.
AP 6 Mar 2005 Six villagers killed in restive eastern Sri Lanka COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Tamil Tiger rebels blamed a breakaway faction Sunday for the murder of six villagers in eastern Sri Lanka, but the military said the main guerrilla group was responsible the killings. TamilNet, a Web site backing the main Tamil Tiger group, said the renegade faction on Saturday killed six supporters of the main group who had provided intelligence information about the breakaway group. But military spokesman Brig. Daya Ratnayake said the six were murdered by 10 Tamil Tiger fighters armed with rifles who stormed Sevanapitiya village bordering the restive Batticaloa district, 220 kilometers (135 miles) east of the capital, Colombo. Ratnayake said four ethnic Muslims, one Tamil and a Sinhalese were killed in Saturday's attack, and that three other villagers were wounded. Scores of people have been killed in eastern Sri Lanka since senior Tiger leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, also known as Karuna, left the group a year ago with about 6,000 fighters. The Tigers accuse the military of using the renegades to attack the mainstream rebels. "They (the Tigers) could have suspected that these people were helping the Karuna faction,'' Ratnayake said. "But we are still investigating to establish the real motive.'' In three other shooting incidents Saturday in Batticaloa, a Tiger rebel and a civilian were killed and a member of another group opposed to the rebels was injured. The Tamil Tigers have fought a civil war since 1983 to create a separate state for ethnic minority Tamils, accusing the majority Sinhalese of discrimination. About 65,000 people were killed before a Norway-brokered cease-fire was signed in February 2002. Peace talks broke down a year later when the Tigers withdrew, demanding wide-ranging autonomy in the Tamil-majority northeast.
Syria See United States March 6, 2005
www.telegraph.co.uk 7 Mar 2005 Hatred and fear stalk massacre camp as Syrian workers flee political crisis By Tim Butcher in Shatila (Filed: 07/03/2005) Fear is again stalking Shatila, once the scene of the massacre of thousands of Palestinians. Now Syrians are fleeing, terrified that Lebanon's political crisis is about to turn nasty. Too scared to give their names, the few brave enough to remain behind said yesterday that they face the brunt of decades of Lebanese resentment as Syrian soldiers prepare to withdraw. "They used to be fine to us but over the last few weeks they have begun to look at us in a different way," a clothes shop owner said. "I own this shop and don't want to leave it but many of my friends have already gone home.'' The exodus adds further infamy to the name of Shatila, already notorious as the setting for the 1982 bloodbath in which thousands of Palestinian refugees were slaughtered by Christian militia supported by occupying Israeli forces. And it reveals an economic factor in the current crisis. For years Syria's dominant role allowed tens of thousands of Syrian guest workers free rein. The money they repatriated, estimated at more than £1 billion a year, provided an important prop for Damascus's weak economy. The exodus promises to cut off cash, threatening yet further the stability of President Bashar al-Assad's regime. "I came to Lebanon in 1996 with a bag of old clothes,'' the trader said. "I saved a little, bought some more clothes and sold them. Within a few years I was able to buy this shop and every month I send about £200 to my wife. Thousands of Syrians flooded into Shatila after the 1982 massacre, crowding six to a room in the already squalid ghetto. With the protection of the Syrian army, they feared no one. All over Beirut guest workers form the backbone of the working class. At a flower shop a young Syrian said he was prepared to work for £150 a month while a Lebanese would demand £300. "They cannot get the work in Syria so they come here and work for less than our own workers," a Lebanese businessman said. "I don't complain but you should see how much they save. They don't spend a cent here. They save every last bit and send it home. They even bring their own olives and honey from home so they don't have to pay our prices.'' Back in Shatila the fear of the Syrian workforce appears justified. Muhammed Abu Rdaini, a 27-year-old Palestinian refugee whose father was killed in the 1982 massacre, said: "We hate them, we really do, we hate them. "The Ba'ath Party in Syria is a Nazi party. They used their soldiers to attack Shatila in the War of the Camps which killed so many of our people. I am not sad to see the back of them – let them leave.'' It might be almost 20 years since the fighting ended but evidence of the war is clearly visible. Concrete buildings, their floors distorted by mortar blasts, still stand empty. And a bleak area of waste ground is largely ignored by a crowd at a flea market. The ground is the site of a mass grave filled with the dead of the 1982 massacre.
Radio Free Europe 10 Mar 2005 www.rferl.org Middle East: Syria Urged To End Abuses Against Kurds By Golnaz Esfandiari Amnesty International has issued a new report urging the Syrian government to end human rights abuses against the country's Kurdish population. The rebuke comes one year after bloody clashes between Kurds and authorities left more than 30 people dead. The rights group says the government in Damascus should open an investigation into last year's incidents. Prague, 10 March 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Last year's unrest was sparked during a football match in the northeastern city of Qamishli. On 12 March 2004, a violent dispute erupted between rival Arab and Kurdish fans. Security forces responded by firing into the crowd, reportedly only into the Kurdish section. Several people were killed. The next day, police forces fired on a funeral procession and demonstration. Then protests and riots spread rapidly to other cities. Amnesty International says at least 36 people -- almost all Kurds -- were killed. Some 2,000 people, mostly Kurds, were arrested. Dozens of Kurdish students were expelled from their universities and dormitories for participating in peaceful protests. There are no signs that any official investigation took place to determine the root causes of the incidents. Neil Sammonds is an Amnesty International researcher on Syria. He says there is still a lot of confusion about last year's events. "We think there needs to be an immediate investigation into what really happened and into the security forces' use of lethal force against apparently non-armed protesters," Sammonds said. "And there's been a huge amount of report of torture, which we have received, and these need to be investigated. There have been people held in communicado for months and months without charge." The vice president of the Human Rights Association of Syria, Sali Kheir Bek, told RFE/RL that 230 Kurds remain in jail after their arrests during the clashes last March. Kheir Bek said a peaceful demonstration was due to be held on Thursday in front of Damascus' main court for the release of all political prisoners in the country, including Kurdish political prisoners. "We are asking (the government) to cancel acting by the emergency law," Kheir Bek said. "(We are) asking (the government ) to free the political prisoners, to get all the political people outside of Syria to comeback without any kind of trial or something like this, and to issue a law to form parties and associations and to declare a [date] for free elections." Amnesty International in its new report urges the Syrian authorities to investigate allegations of unlawful killings, deaths resulting from torture, ill treatment in custody and torture of Kurds that have come to light since March 2004. Amnesty researcher Sammonds says that during the past year, there have been an increase in the number of reported deaths of Kurdish prisoners as a result of torture in custody. "We've had about nine reported cases of death in custody," Sammonds said. "Five of these are Syrian Kurds, and we've seen medical reports of several of these people who've had their skulls crushed, eyes grouched out, legs broken in a couple of places." The report highlights cases of Kurdish activists who have suffered arrest, torture and unfair trial for promoting human rights. Syria has a population of 18 million people. There are about 2 million Kurds among them. Amnesty International says Kurds, who constitute Syria's second largest ethnic group, suffer from it describes as "identity-based discrimination." About 250,000 of the Kurds are denied Syrian citizenship. They lack basic rights. The organization is calling on Syria to end prohibitions on the use and practice of the Kurdish language and culture. Neil Sammonds. "We need to see some attempt by the authorities," Sammonds said, "to look at the discrimination against the Kurds in terms of their social and economic rights, such as equal access to education and the use of their language in schools -- and even for perhaps 300,000 of the Kurds who are seen as stateless in the eyes of the authorities, these [people] are unable to get full access to hospitals or to have education beyond the age of about 14." There has been no official reaction by Syrian authorities to Amnesty International report.
AAP (Australia) 9 Mar 2005 East Timor to exonerate war crime suspects Date: 09/03/05 Human rights activists have accused East Timor of putting diplomacy before justice after the fledgling nation agreed to drop charges against accused war criminals under a deal signed with Indonesia. The United Nations, which oversaw East Timor's violent break away from Indonesian rule six years ago, has also criticised the accord. East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao and his Indonesian counterpart Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono agreed to form a joint Commission of Truth and Friendship. It is to examine the wave of Indonesian army-backed militia bloodshed that followed East Timor's 1999 vote for independence from Jakarta. The agreement, which followed three months of negotiation, was signed by both men during a ceremony at the Istana Negara state palace in Jakarta. The 10-member commission will have a truth-telling function with the aim of establishing a "shared historical record" of human rights crimes before and after the independence ballot. While more than 1,000 people probably died in the months before and after the 1999 vote, the panel will have no power to prosecute offenders. Instead, the five Indonesian and five East Timorese members will only be able to recommend amnesty for those who "cooperate fully in revealing the truth" during a two-year process due to start in August. "The prosecutorial system of justice can certainly achieve one objective, which is to punish the perpetrators, but it might not necessarily lead to the truth and promote reconciliation," the document preamble said. Gusmao, a former guerrilla leader who was held as a political prisoner under now deposed Indonesian dictator Suharto, has called for reconciliation. The deal reflected his public determination to seek closer diplomatic relations and avoid a bout of finger-pointing with his giant neighbour. Privately his government is said to support international efforts. The Catholic Church, an influential power in East Timor, has warned the deal has little public support. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan last month called for a separate review into why a 1999 Security Council resolution to try those accused of war crimes failed. Yudhoyono said relations between the two countries were developing positively since East Timor's independence. "We really want this friendship to last eternally," he said. Gusmao pledged the commission would not pursue former Indonesian armed forces chief and indicted war criminal, General Wiranto. UN prosecutors allege Wiranto had command responsibility for "murder, deportation and persecution" committed during the 1999 violence. "We will not be looking for suspects," Gusmao said. "We are not judges who have the right to pass sentence. In the spirit of friendship between the two countries, we will seek the truth." An ad hoc human rights court set up by Jakarta has acquitted all but one official implicated in the violence with Indonesia refusing to act on arrest warrants against more than 300 others who sought sanctuary in Indonesia. The human rights group East Timor Action Network said it was now up to the international community to pursue justice. "The Commission of Truth and Friendship purports to provide definitive closure. The question is closure for whom?," ETAN said in a statement. "The Commission of Truth and Friendship can only help provide closure to the Indonesian military's effort to avoid justice by enshrining their impunity." ETAN urged the UN to look at setting up an international criminal tribunal. "Timor-Leste's government may feel pressured by and vulnerable to its much larger neighbour, but that is no excuse to allow those who commit crimes against humanity to avoid accountability," it said.
VOA 11 Mar 2005 Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange Decry US Dismissal of Lawsuit By Kay Johnson Hanoi 11 March 2005 Johnson report - Download 351k Listen to Johnson report Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange are outraged a U.S. court has dismissed their lawsuit against the chemical's manufacturers for crimes against humanity. The U.S. military in the Vietnam War sprayed the defoliant, which Vietnamese say has caused illnesses ranging from cancer to birth defects. A federal judge in New York Thursday decided the suit had no basis in law, and the plaintiffs had failed to prove a clear link between Agent Orange and their illnesses. The Vietnam War ended nearly 30 years ago, but there was renewed bitterness on the streets of Hanoi Friday after a United States judge threw out a lawsuit by Vietnamese victims of the Agent Orange chemical sprayed during what people here call the American War. Nguyen Van Quy, 49, weeps while sitting with his son Nguyen Quang Trung, 17, at his house in Hai Phong, Vietnam The lawsuit was filed against more than a dozen chemical companies who produced Agent Orange, which contains cancer causing dioxin. The suit represented some four million people that Vietnam claims are victims of the herbicide. But on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein said there was "no basis" for claims that companies - including Dow Chemical and Monsanto - committed war crimes by supplying the toxic agent. State-run media in Vietnam have given prominent coverage to the lawsuit, and the dismissal provoked outrage among some Vietnamese. Eighty-six-year-old Nguyen Mai, a retired government official, says someone should pay for the devastation Agent Orange has caused Vietnam. He says human morality teaches us that those who commit crimes have to take responsibility. Therefore, he says, the United States has to compensate generations of Vietnamese suffering the effects of Agent Orange. The U.S. military sprayed some 80 million liters of the defoliant over the jungles of Vietnam between 1962 and 1971, to rob the communist Viet Cong of cover. Vietnam says veterans of the war and their children and grandchildren are suffering cancer and birth defects that leave children with crippled arms and legs. The U.S. government already pays compensation to 10,000 U.S. veterans of the war who claim exposure to the chemical harmed their health. This is the first legal challenge by Vietnamese plaintiffs in the U.S. court system and they are vowing to appeal the dismissal of their lawsuit. Their case has received moral support from some American advocacy groups, like the New York-based Fund for Reconciliation and Development, which works with Vietnamese victims of the war. Hanoi representative Andrew Wells-Dang says the United States should practice what it preaches in accepting responsibility. "We think the U.S. has a moral obligation to assist people who are affected in the U.S. as well as Vietnam, and regardless of whether the U.S. intended or foresaw those consequences, that's still a responsibility that we have," he said. "We are very quick to call on others to accept responsibility for their past actions, we should also be willing to accept that ourselves as a country." The issue is the subject of a Paris conference Friday and Saturday. More than 250 scientists from the United States, Vietnam and other countries are discussing the war's lasting legacy - including the health effects. Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange - vava.portal.vinacomm.com.vn
IPS 3 Mar 2005 Sudan: EU Fails to Agree Steps to End Killing Inter Press Service (Johannesburg) By Peter Deselaers Berlin The European Union has failed to find a firm action plan that could help prevent killings in the Darfur region of Sudan. As German deputy foreign minister Kerstin Müller sees it, the suffering continues because the Sudanese government and the rebels in Darfur are unwilling to search for a political solution, and because the international community lacks the determination to end the conflict. Germany wants the EU to impose sanctions against key players in the conflict. That will include freezing their financial assets and restricting their travel. But EU members remain divided over this proposal, Müller told IPS. Some countries such as Sweden, Ireland, the Netherlands and Austria support this approach, but others like France and Britain want sanctions only if approved by the United Nations Security Council. A third group of countries, mainly Italy, Spain and Poland do not want to see sanctions of any kind. Ulrich Delius, Africa expert with the German non-governmental organisation Society for Threatened Peoples told IPS that "hindering some Sudanese politicians from entering the EU may be a nice gesture, but the only efficient tool is an oil embargo." The Sudanese government will not take the demands of the international community seriously if it faced no powerful threat, he said. As politicians quarrel about sanctions, human rights and humanitarian organisations are calling for a robust force to stop the violence. UN chief emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland said at a press briefing last month that "the world believes that we keep people alive and then they don't have to take political and security action. This is wrong and that's why we are really tired of being that kind of substitute for political and security action." The number of people affected by the conflict is growing every day, he pointed out. Many aid workers in Darfur too have been abducted and killed. Several relief organisations have already withdrawn from Sudan.. Jan Pronk, UN special representative for Sudan told a panel discussion in Berlin last week that peace negotiations must be delinked from the security situation on the ground. Negotiations were being paralysed by the violence, he said. A mission from the African Union (AU) at present monitors a ceasefire agreement with no more than 1,800 soldiers in an area as big as France - a little more than ten percent of the number of police officers in Berlin. "There should be a robust third force as a buffer," Pronk said. At least 8,000 soldiers are needed, he said. "And that means the AU should do it this month; if not, others will have to put their people where their mouth is." He was referring to European countries and the United States who have been criticising the Sudanese government. Müller said this is not feasible. "For me it is hardly imaginable to tell the AU right from the beginning that they cannot do it, if they are talking about a test case in which they try to solve their own conflicts." Lotte Leicht, director of the Brussels office of Human Rights Watch, argued at the panel discussion that the AU had failed to protect the people in Darfur. The AU should accept help from the EU, she said. "I have never seen that 25 foreign ministers are almost down on their knees, begging the AU to take more help from the EU." More than 50,000 people have died since the crisis in Darfur began early 2003. The violence has driven more than 1.5 million people to refugee camps. At least another 200,000 fled to neighbouring Chad. Pronk said that the Sudanese army and the Janjaweed militia it had backed had stopped open cooperation. But they remain linked, he said. "And the result is (ethnic) cleansing, and that has to stop." A UN report published February, identifies more than 50 persons it says committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity. It recommended prosecution of these men by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The report stopped short of calling the atrocities genocide, but concluded that the crimes committed in Darfur "may be no less serious and heinous than genocide." The Europeans now jointly back the recommendation of the report to refer the crimes to the ICC, but the issue has brought disagreement within the UN Security Council, with the United States strongly opposed to a role for the ICC. Bringing in the ICC would mean taking the second step before the first, Delius told IPS. The urgent need was to end the violence, he said, and prosecution could come later. "It seems as if politicians want to bring the ICC question to the forefront in order to present an image of being active." Chinese oil interests are a problem in the Security Council, Delius said.. Both China and Russia oppose sanctions against the Khartoum regime, which is a major oil source. Pronk recently proposed a 1.5 billion dollar relief plan for the whole of Sudan, and got commitments for just eight percent of what he had asked for. "There is a lot of hypocrisy in European politics," he said.
zaman.com 27 Feb 2005 Azerbaijan: History Will Judge the Hocali Massacre By Ramil Ismailov - Orhan Eren Published: Sunday 27, 2005 zaman.com Victims of the Hocali massacre, committed by Armenian soldiers against civilians people on February 29th in 1992 in Upper Karabagh, have been commemorated in nation-wide ceremonies. Ambassadors and diplomats from different countries attended a commemoration ceremony held in the central office of the ruling New Azerbaijan Party. Survivors of the massacre explained what they witnessed during the massacre, which led to emotional moments among the foreign mission chiefs. Azerbaijani Presidential Undersecretary Hidayet Orucov organized a press briefing for the commemoration ceremonies and said: "The Hocali massacre is the heaviest genocide of the 20th century and those responsible will be judged by history when the proper time comes." Turkey's Embassy in Baku released a message expressing that the Turkish nation shares its brothers' pain with the deepest feelings. While Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi, Egyptian, Indian, Kazakh, Ukrainian and Uzbek ambassadors attended the commemoration program for "Hocali massacre", ambassadors of countries like the US, France, Italy, and Norway did not. The city of Hocali in Upper Karabagh, which is still under Armenian occupation, was seized by Armenian armed forces and Russian troops based in the region on February 25th 1992. About 2,500 civilians, the majority of which are women, children and elderly, were bombarded for a long time before military forces seized the city. People of the city, which was largely burnt down, had fled the city to go to Agdam, the only open direction allowed by the occupying powers, but after a short while, it was reported that this way was blocked, too, and those who had started to flee were ambushed. A total of 613 Azerbaijanis, including 106 women and 63 children, were massacred by Armenian and Russian forces in addition to earlier attacks in Hocali. Armenian forces occupied the city had captured 1,275 people and 150 were reported as missing.
Reuters 6 Mar 2995 Bosnia to open own war crimes court Sun Mar 6, 2005 4:54 AM GMT Printer Friendly | Email Article | RSS By Daria Sito-Sucic SARAJEVO (Reuters) - The freshly-painted orange building housing Bosnia's new War Crimes Chamber in Sarajevo used to be a barracks. A decade ago it held prisoners of war in a maze of gloomy rooms and winding corridors. Now the shell-scarred facade is repaired and inside are hi-tech courtrooms with digital audio-video equipment to record and present evidence in trials covering genocide, rape and torture by wartime rival Serbs, Croats and Muslims. Some of Europe's worst crimes since World War Two were committed in the 1992-95 Bosnian war that claimed up to 200,000 lives. Most cases so far have been tried by the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). The Sarajevo Chamber, opening on March 9, will take over some of the suspects indicted by the U.N. tribunal in what Bosnia's Western backers hope is a sign the country is able to deal with the legacy of its bloody past. "By showing itself willing and ready to handle these cases, Bosnia has underlined that crimes committed in this territory can be tried here, should be tried here and should not be sent to a foreign country," said top peace overseer Paddy Ashdown. It has taken Bosnia the 10 years since the end of the war to fulfil conditions set by the international community to conduct high-level trials -- it built facilities, passed legislation and educated specialised staff. The hard part will still be convincing locals that this court is impartial, unlike The Hague which Bosnian Serbs -- whose territory makes up half of Bosnia along with the Muslim-Croat Federation -- see as biased against them. There have already been protests. Last year a Bosnian Serb group tried to put up a memorial plaque on the building to commemorate victims of what they said was a "wartime Muslim prison for Sarajevo Serbs" but were stopped by police. NO ACCUSED The 20 million euro refurbishment has endowed the building with facilities rivalling those of the Hague court. Special technology will be used to distort the image and voice of protected witnesses, and an elevator will take suspects to the courtroom directly from the detention unit. Five teams of prosecutors will handle war crimes cases transferred from The Hague and potential cases against thousands of suspects charged by local courts. "This court will be under much more of a burden than the Hague tribunal," said court manager Tarik Abdulhak. The U.N. tribunal, under pressure to cease operations in 2010, wants to transfer some mid- and low-ranking cases to national courts and focus on major suspects from the 1990s Balkan wars. It is currently debating the transfer of two major war crimes cases to Bosnia -- against Zeljko Meakic and three other Bosnian Serbs accused of crimes in detention camps in northwest Bosnia and against Bosnian Serb Radovan Stankovic over crimes in the eastern town of Foca. A third case is on the list. "I don't see a single reason for the Hague tribunal not to decide to hand over the cases to Bosnia," State Prosecutor Marinko Jurcevic told Reuters. "We have met all terms and standards". In most of the cases filed by local courts, however, the evidence and victims are in Bosnia while the suspected perpetrators live in neighbouring ex-Yugoslav countries, holding dual citizenship. "I am sceptical that these states will give up part of their national sovereignty and hand over citizens," said Jurcevic. There was no agreement yet between Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia-Montenegro on the handover of war crimes suspects, and that needed to be arranged soon, he noted. "Justice must be done in the place where the crime was committed," he said. "Only in that way can we have justice and bring about reconciliation between peoples in Bosnia and also reconciliation with neighbouring countries".
Reuters 10 Mar 2005 Bosnian Serb Is 7th Hague Surrender in 2 Months By REUTERS Filed at 8:08 a.m. ET BELGRADE (Reuters) - A former Bosnian Serb minister will surrender to the United Nations war crimes tribunal in The Hague on Friday, the 7th senior figure from the Balkan wars of the 1990s to give himself up in two months. A Serbian government statement said on Thursday that Mica Stanisic would report to the tribunal on March 11. He is the 5th Serb or Bosnian Serb to do so via Belgrade since late January. Bosnian Muslim former commander Rasim Delic went to the Hague from Sarajevo last week and Kosovo Albanian ex-prime minister Ramush Haradinaj went from Pristina on Wednesday accompanied by two junior co-indictees. At least 17 Serb or Bosnian Serb suspects, plus Croatian general Ante Gotovina, are still at large. Stanisic served as interior minister in the breakaway Bosnian Serb republic during the 1992-95 Bosnian war. The charges against him have not been made public. He was a close aide of former Bosnian Serb wartime leader and now top fugitive Radovan Karadzic, who is indicted for genocide over the siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre of almost 8,000 Muslim men and boys. Two other generals who recently gave themselves up for trial were close aides to Karadzic's wartime commander, the fugitive general Ratko Mladic, also charged with genocide. CLOCK TICKING FOR EU REPORT The EU has told Serbia it needs to show proof of its readiness to cooperate with The Hague in order to get a positive membership feasibility report by the end of March. ``The Commission is assessing if Serbia and Montenegro has made sufficient progress to start talks,'' the EU's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn told Belgrade daily Blic on Wednesday. ``I hope we can give a green light to the negotiations ... we can do this if Serbia and Montenegro make significant progress this month toward cooperation with the tribunal.'' The prompt surrender of Haradinaj and Delic has increased pressure on Serbia to maintain the momentum of surrenders. Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica is criticized for a policy of persuading suspects to go when they are ready rather than arresting them. But there were hints this could change. Serbian Justice Minister Zoran Stojkovic, who was at The Hague tribunal on Thursday, said Serbia would ensure all suspects would appear at the court. This would include former Army Chief of Staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic who so far refuses to report voluntarily to the tribunal on Kosovo war charges. ``If he cannot go by peaceful means then there is the other way. We will ensure that he comes here,'' said Stojkovic who was attending a bail hearing for three indicted suspects. Stanisic quit in 1994 after a leadership power struggle and has since lived in Belgrade where he owns a restaurant. The Sarajevo daily Dnevni Avaz said he was charged with crimes committed in the Sarajevo suburbs of Grbavica, Vogosca and Ilidza and in the eastern Bosnian town of Sokolac.
Boston Globe 10 Mar 2005 Written account says Boskic confessed to 1995 massacre By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff | March 10, 2005 Marko Boskic, a Peabody construction worker accused of being a war criminal, admitted to federal agents last year that he helped kill busloads of unarmed Muslim men in an infamous July 1995 massacre in a field outside the town of Srebrenica. The men were led out of the bus and lined up to be ''liquidated with automatic rifles," Boskic wrote in a six-page statement to FBI agents in Boston while being interrogated last August. ''First, they started to shoot, and I didn't want to join, but they forced me to shoot," Boskic said, according to an FBI account of the interview last summer. He admitted using a rifle to gun down prisoners who were taken off buses in groups of four and five, the FBI said. ''I would like to mention that I did not do that by my own free will," Boskic said in his written statement. The two documents are among several filed in US District Court in Boston this week that reveal for the first time that Boskic, 40, who was arrested in August on immigration fraud charges, confessed to being one of the executioners in the worst massacre of civilians in Europe since the end of World War II. He is charged in a five-count indictment with fraudulently entering the United States as a refugee in April 2000 and concealing his past as a soldier in the 10th Sabotage, or Diversionary, unit of the Bosnian Serb Army that killed about 7,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys from Srebrenica. Now his lawyer is urging a judge to prohibit prosecutors from using any of Boskic's statements from the August interview, saying federal agents ''engaged in an elaborate and obviously well-planned deception" to get him to talk. In a suppression motion filed earlier this week, Boskic's lawyer, Max Stern, said Boskic received a notice in the mail from the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to pick up travel documents, which he had applied for two years earlier to visit relatives overseas, at the JFK building in Boston last Aug. 25. After his arrival, according to Boskic, he was questioned by the FBI and then by a prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia at the Hague. According to Boskic, he was not advised that a criminal complaint charging him with immigration fraud had been filed against him earlier that day and that there was a warrant for his arrest. On the contrary, Boskic said, Alistair Graham, the Hague prosecutor, repeatedly assured him that he was not the subject of an investigation and that he was seeking his cooperation against senior Serbian military officials. Boskic agreed to cooperate, saying he would testify if called to the Hague, and he began naming names, according to the documents. He named Miso Pelemis, commander of his unit, as the one who selected him and other soldiers to execute captive Muslims. The UN tribunal in The Hague does not plan to indict him on war crimes charges, officials said last year. But Bosnian officials said the government could bring charges against him in a local tribunal. FBI reports filed in court say that Boskic was given an ''Advice of Rights" form, written in Croatian and English, which explained his right to not incriminate himself, by Customs before the interview began. Boskic said that he has difficulty understanding English and was not advised of his rights when first interviewed by Customs and FBI agents. He said it was not until he had provided incriminating information to Graham and was about to give a written statement that an interpreter, who had arrived with Graham, advised him that he wasn't required to cooperate. Although Boskic said in his written statement that he knew he was forfeiting his rights, Stern said Boskic opted to provide the statement because ''he had already told them everything and still believed that they were not investigating him personally." Boskic said he was unaware of other members of his military unit living in the United States, but said he had the phone numbers and addresses at his house of some living abroad. He gave written consent for agents to search his home for that information. Stern would not say what had been seized from Boskic's apartment. In his motion he urges US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to bar prosecutors from using evidence taken in the search. Samantha Martin, a spokeswoman for US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, would say yesterday only that ''any response we have will be filed with the court." Boskic, who was working as a tile layer at the time of his arrest, said during his five-hour interview last August that he had not previously told anyone about his brutal past, according to the documents. Boskic also said he was Catholic and was forced to join the Serbian military in 1994 while in a concentration camp, the documents say. When Boskic was ordered to join in the massacre of Muslims, he said, ''I had two choices: join or be dead," according to the FBI account of his interview. The day before the massacre, Boskic said in his statement, he told his superiors that he didn't want to go, and Pelemis ''put a pistol to my forehead and said that I must, or I would be dead."
NYT 4 Mar 2005 Germany to Compensate Heirs of Jewish-Owned Store Chain By RICHARD BERNSTEIN BERLIN, March 4 - A German court ruled today that the heirs of a once prominent Jewish-owned department store chain were entitled to compensation for what has in recent years become one of Berlin's most valuable pieces of real estate. Deciding one of the biggest and most bitterly disputed claims for restitution of property seized by the Nazis, the German Administrative Court awarded $17 million to Barbara Principe and her nephew, Martin Wortham. They are the main surviving heirs of the family of German Jews that, until the war, owned and operated the Wertheim department store chain, which even today is to Berlin what Macy's or Bloomingdale's is to New York. The money awarded to Mrs. Principe and Mr. Wortham, who live in New Jersey, came from the sale of a piece of property that was once part of the Wertheim empire. The property was seized by the Nazis in the late 1930's; then after the war, it was nationalized by the former East Germany. After East Germany collapsed in 1990, the land was sold by the German government to the developers of what is now one of Berlin's main showcases, the office, hotel and theater complex known as Potsdamer Platz. But the property was also claimed by what is now Germany's largest department store chain, KarstadtQuelle, which bought all of the former Wertheim family businesses in 1994. Karstadt argued, in a case that has been in litigation for well over a decade, that it was the legitimate successor company to Wertheim and therefore that all the Wertheim land situated in the former East Germany belonged to it. In its decision today, the German court rejected Karstadt's argument. "It's a great day for our family," Mrs. Principe was quoted as saying by the German Press Agency. "It is the victims and not the big trading companies which were robbed." The decision today involved only one of several properties whose ownership is claimed by both the Wertheim heirs and KarstadtQuelle. Another piece of land, now at the heart of the Potsdamer Platz redevelopment and believed to be worth up to $170 million, is still in litigation. But today's court decision, in awarding ownership to the group that was expropriated by the Nazis, rather than a group that acquired the property later, was seen as a favorable sign by the representatives of Jewish claimants. "This case is as much about morality as it is about legality," said Gideon Taylor, the executive vice president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which filed suit on behalf of the Wertheim heirs thirteen years ago. "We hope now that this will lead to the quick resolution of the remaining Wertheim claims, and we hope that Karstadt will stop standing in the way of a just resolution of a historical injustice." Mr. Taylor's group, generally known as the Claims Conference, has represented Jews seeking restitution from Germany since the 1950's, when claims against what was then West Germany were largely settled. A spokesman for KarstadtQuelle, Jörg Howe, said that the company would appeal today's decision, the German press agency reported. "The substance of our company is not threatened," Mr. Howe said. Today's decision involved no cash payment from Karstadt to the Wertheim heirs, but Karstadt has received compensation for other former disputed East German properties sold to developers by the German government. If the Wertheim claim is affirmed by the courts in those other cases, it seemed likely that Karstadt, which has been in deep financial trouble, would be liable for very substantial payments to the Wertheim heirs. The Wertheim case, according to Mr. Taylor, is by far the largest single remaining compensation claim in existence, and also one of the most complicated. The Wertheim company, founded in the 19th century, owned seven large stores in Berlin before the war, all of them appropriated by the Nazis in 1937 as part of the process by which Jews were squeezed out of German economic life and their holdings turned over to "Aryans." The Wertheim brothers arrived in the United States penniless in the 1940's. Gunther Wertheim, Mrs. Principe's father, ran a chicken farm in southern New Jersey. In 1951, as they began the process of claiming back their former properties, the brothers were convinced by a family adviser, Arthur Lindgens, that the business was worth almost nothing. Lindgens, who has since died, paid each brother $9,200 for the rights to all the Wertheim property. Lindgens then merged Wertheim with another former Jewish-owned department store, Hertie. In 1994, KarstadtQuelle bought the merged company, and that purchase was the basis of Karstadt's claim to be the rightful owner of the former Wertheim holdings in East Germany. Because of the sale of the property to Lindgens, the Wertheim brothers never pursued a claim to be compensated for property in West Berlin, which includes a large, fashionable store bearing the original Wertheim name, currently owned by KarstadtQuelle, on the busiest and most valuable stretch of the Kurfurstendamm, the Fifth Avenue of West Berlin. The statute of limitations for claims in West Germany ran out in the 1960's, but when East Germany fell, the newly reunited German government passed a law allowing claims for former Jewish property that had been nationalized by East Germany. This is the category of property involved intoday's court decision.
Netherlands - ICTY See Bosnia
AP 5 Mar 2005 Poles Mark Stalin's Katyn Forest Massacre By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 5:35 p.m. ET WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Poles on Saturday attended a Mass, sang patriotic songs and lay flowers on a monument to more than 21,000 military officers and intellectuals massacred by Soviet agents in Katyn Forest, marking the day 65 years ago that dictator Josef Stalin ordered the killings. Along with the homage at Warsaw's St. Ann's Church, the Katyn Committee, an organization of relatives of those killed in Katyn Forest in western Russia and at other sites in 1940, demanded more Russian attention to the massacre. A recent Russian investigation failed to produce any new names of surviving perpetrators among the secret police force that carried out the killing, largely by shots to the back of the head, over several nights. ``We are calling on the authorities of the Russian Federation to reveal the names of those who were responsible for the genocide in the spring of 1940,'' said Stefan Melak, the head of the group. ``We are calling on Russian authorities to accept this crime as genocide,'' Melak said. ``Katyn will always remain a symbol of a death sentence passed on Poland,'' he said. Krystyna Balcer, a 62-year-old retiree whose uncle was killed in Katyn, remained angry about the massacre and the Soviet invasion of Poland prior to World War II, carried out under a secret agreement between Stalin and Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. ``They betrayed us -- they stuck a knife in our backs,'' she said of the Soviets invading Poland from the east in 1939, 17 days after Germans entered from the west. The massacre ``was unimaginable cruelty, it was genocide.'' The March 5, 1940, order for the massacre was signed by Stalin among others. Soviet agents shot 21,768 Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests who had been taken prisoner during the invasion. Historians in Poland believe Stalin was seeking to liquidate Poland's elite to prevent the rebirth of a sovereign Polish state. The massacre is still an irritant to relations between Poland and Russia. Polish war crimes prosecutors opened their own investigation into the massacre in December. Until the fall of communism in 1989, any mention of the massacre was forbidden in Poland. The following year, the Soviet government accepted responsibility for the murders, but refused to refer to them as a genocide attempt, calling it a war crime on which the statute of limitations has passed. The slaughter became known to the world when 4,100 bodies were discovered by German forces in 1943 after they overran the area near the Russian city of Smolensk, and the event was widely broadcast by the Nazi propaganda machine.
AP 9 Mar 2005 Polish Minister Criticizes Russia WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Poland's foreign minister sharply criticized Russia on Wednesday for withholding documents that could shed light on the 1940 massacre of 21,000 Polish officers and intellectuals by the Soviet secret police, a news agency reported. ``I can only imagine that there is only one reason for it -- disgrace and shame,'' Poland's PAP news agency quoted Foreign Minister Adam Rotfeld as saying in the southern city of Krakow. Poland's state-run National Remembrance Institute is investigating the World War II-era killings in the Katyn forest and at other sites after a Russian investigation into the massacre failed to produce the names of more perpetrators. To carry out its work, the institute has asked Moscow to hand over its files on the massacre. But last week, the Russian Embassy in Warsaw told Polish prosecutors that Moscow would hand over only 67 of the more than 100 files, saying the rest are protected by ``a secrecy clause,'' said Pawel Karolak, an institute official. Rotfeld said Poland would not accept Russia's decision and suggested he felt Moscow has something to hide, PAP reported. ``One should ask here an elementary question: What could the secrets from 65 years ago be that justify the fact that documents on the massacre of Polish officers are not made available?'' Rotfeld said. The memory of the massacre is still an irritant in Polish-Russian relations, adding to bitterness over the Soviet Union's invasion of eastern Poland after Nazi Germany invaded from the west in 1939 at the start of World War II. The order for the massacre was signed March 5, 1940, by Soviet leader Josef Stalin, among others. Soviet agents shot 21,768 Polish military officers, intellectuals and priests who were taken prisoner when the Soviet Union invaded. Historians in Poland believe Stalin ordered the killings to liquidate Poland's elite and hinder the rebirth of a sovereign Polish state. In 1990, the Soviet government accepted responsibility for the massacre, but refused.
Reuters 4 Mar 2005 Nazi hunt yields Romania war crimes suspects By Reuters BUCHAREST - A prominent Jewish rights group said yesterday that its hunt for Nazi war criminals in Romania had flushed out 15 suspects it hoped to see prosecuted by the country's top court. About half a million Jews were killed during the Holocaust in Nazi ally Romania, including Transylvania, which was then under Hungarian rule. Israel has repeatedly urged the Balkan country to face up to its ugly past. "The suspects are alleged to have actively participated in the persecution and murder of Jews in several places in Romania," top Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff, who opened a Holocaust crimes hotline in Romania, said in a statement. Zuroff said the top prosecutor's office was asked to start an investigation into alleged crimes by four suspects, the first people likely to be prosecuted in Romania for war crimes since the fall of communism in 1989. The chief prosecutor's office said it was investigating the cases and it would closely cooperate with the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The center launched "Operation Last Chance" in 2003, offering 10,000 euros for information leading to the capture of war criminals, saying it was the last opportunity to find those responsible for the Holocaust. As late as 2003, the leftist government denied a Holocaust had taken place on its territory, prompting a diplomatic row with Israel and forcing the creation of an international commission of experts to study the EU candidate's Nazi past. The commission revealed that up to 380,000 Romanian and Ukrainian Jews were killed by Romanian civilian and military authorities. Many were slaughtered in pogroms, murdered in forced labor camps or death trains. Another 135,000 Jews living in the Transylvania and 11,000 Roma were killed. Romania, led by pro-Nazi Marshal Ion Antonescu became an ally of Germany in 1940 when it turned into Adolf Hitler's main operational base in southeastern Europe. But it switched sides shortly before the end of World War II when it became clear the Third Reich's days were numbered.
Pravda.ru 9 Mar 2005 Aslan Maskhadov killed, Basayev seeks new leader 22:21 2005-03-09 Russian Special Forces say they have killed the Chechen rebel leader, Aslan Maskhadov, who has long been seen as the symbol of resistance to Moscow's rule in the breakaway Muslim republic. Russian officials showed video footage of the body of a middle-aged man identified as Maskhadov, and said he was killed in a shootout between Russian and Chechen forces. The Russian Government has accused Maskhadov of being behind several terrorist incidents, including last year's Beslan school siege. And Moscow is claiming his death as a breakthrough in its efforts to rein in the Chechen rebels, reports the World Today. According to the Los Angeles Times, Maskhadov, 53, who served as Chechnya's president during a period of self-rule in the late 1990s, headed the anti-Russia Chechen resistance. He was viewed by Moscow as a terrorist, but he was also recognized as the only Chechen guerrilla leader moderate enough to strike a deal with the Kremlin yet influential enough to make it stick with rebel fighters. Moscow had accused Maskhadov and more radical guerrilla leader Shamil Basayev of ordering the takeover of a school last year in the southern Russian town of Beslan, in which at least 326 hostages died. Maskhadov denied any involvement; Basayev claimed responsibility. It was never clear whether Maskhadov exercised control over Basayev, who now appears positioned to dominate the rebel movement. Russian television Tuesday showed a body identified as that of Maskhadov: gray-bearded, bare-chested and lying in a pool of blood, his arms spread.
BBC 8 Mar 2005 Obituary: Aslan Maskhadov As chief of staff of the Chechen armed forces, Aslan Maskhadov did more than any other fighter in Chechnya to win the 1994-1996 war against Russia. He also did more than any other negotiator to bring peace. The softly-spoken general succeeded against the odds in co-ordinating the actions of the numerous Chechen field commanders. Maskhadov said the rebels behind the Beslan attack were "madmen" He turned a swiftly mobilised scratch army into a force capable of repelling Russian tanks, air power, and artillery. At the same time, he was at the forefront of peace negotiations in 1995 and 1996. His quiet pragmatism won the respect of Russian negotiators. Chechens elected him president in January 1997 because of his war record, and because he promised a more peaceful future than younger and more radical rival candidates. He insisted that Chechnya must be independent, but he was prepared to negotiate a close relationship with Russia. He called for peace talks as recently as February 2005, but Russia scorned the suggestion. In recent years Moscow had branded him a terrorist, along with other Chechen leaders. After rebels seized a school in the North Ossetian town of Beslan in September 2004, causing more than 300 deaths, Russian authorities offered a $10 million reward for the capture of Mr Maskhadov and the Chechen warlord, Shamil Basayev. They disregarded the fact that Mr Maskhadov publicly condemned the bloody attack, said that forces under his command had nothing to do with it, and called for Mr Basayev to face trial. Artillery officer Like all Chechens of his generation, Aslan Maskhadov was born in exile. His family was deported from Chechnya by Stalin, along with the rest of the Chechen nation, in 1944. They returned home from Kazakhstan in 1957, when he was a child of six. Shamil Basayev and other radicals sidelined Aslan Maskhadov The future president became a career artillery officer in the Soviet army. He served in Hungary and took part in the Soviet army's attempt to suppress Lithuania's nationalist independence movement in January 1991 - an episode he quickly came to regret. He became breakaway Chechnya's chief of staff the following year. People who met him in this role said he always retained the air of a staff officer, neatly dressed at all times despite a life spent on the run from Russian forces. But in a personal tragedy for him and for Chechnya, Mr Maskhadov enjoyed less success as a politician than as a soldier. His main rival in the January 1997 election was the charismatic Shamil Basayev. Mr Maskhadov's instinct was to build consensus after his victory, first making Mr Basayev deputy chief of the Chechen army, then acting prime minister. In 1998, however, Mr Basayev joined many other former field commanders in an unruly opposition and Chechnya gradually spiralled out of control. The commanders evolved into warlords, running areas of Chechnya as their own fiefdoms, operating rackets and taking over parts of the economy. Some came under suspicion when Mr Maskhadov twice narrowly escaped assassination in car bomb explosions. According to one reports, his former subordinates even threatened him with a gun. Powerless Mr Maskhadov's weakness was illustrated by a series of high-profile kidnappings in 1998 and 1999. Foreign aid workers and Russian envoys joined hundreds of less well-known victims held for ransom in Chechnya. Mr Maskhadov and his government were powerless to release them. The Chechen president was also unable to prevent the warlords launching a "holy war" to drive Russians out of neighbouring Dagestan. Mr Maskhadov's own attitude to Islam was characteristically conservative. He encouraged the rebirth of Chechen religious traditions, but attempted, unsuccessfully, to ban the fundamentalist trend of Islam known as Wahhabism. When Russian forces flooded back into Chechnya in 1999, Mr Maskhadov and the warlords stood side by side again, in an uneasy alliance. But he appeared to have been progressively sidelined. Funding from sympathisers in the Islamic world reportedly flowed primarily to the radical Chechen commanders, and to the Arab commanders fighting alongside them. The radicals have carried out daring, headline-grabbing attacks on civilians - including the Beslan school attack and the earlier seizure of a Moscow theatre. Mr Maskhadov described the perpetrators of Beslan as "madmen" driven out of their senses by Russian acts of brutality. To the end, he condemned the killing of civilians.
washingtonpost.com Mr. Maskhadov's Death Friday, March 11, 2005; Page A22 IF, IN THE 1980s, the South African apartheid regime had killed Nelson Mandela, it would have committed the same kind of blunder that Russian special forces committed this week when they killed the Chechen separatist leader, Aslan Maskhadov. This is not because Mr. Maskhadov was in any way similar to Mr. Mandela in personality, values or stature; he was not. But he represented, in Chechnya, the same kind of relative moderation. The South African regime knew that if Mr. Mandela and his allies were not made part of a democratic settlement, it would be left to deal with a younger, more violent and more radical generation of activists later on. And this is the scenario that has come to pass in Chechnya: With the death of Mr. Maskhadov -- a secular Muslim and a former Soviet army officer -- the Russians are left to face a younger, more violent and more radical generation of activists. The man most likely to emerge as their leader is Shamil Basayev, the terrorist behind the murderous attack on the school in Beslan. The death of Mr. Maskhadov probably eliminates for the near future any chance of a diplomatic end to the war in Chechnya. Mr. Maskhadov, who was elected president of Chechnya at a time when Russia recognized the election as legitimate -- had requested talks with Moscow but was repeatedly refused: The Kremlin insisted on calling him a terrorist, despite his condemnation of terrorism, and would not negotiate. On the same grounds, Russian authorities are refusing to hand over what they call "the body of a dead terrorist" to Mr. Maskhadov's family for burial. Thus will the spirit of brutality continue to perpetuate itself in Chechnya. The Bush administration's non-policy on the Chechnya conflict remains, as it always has been, to state a preference for a "negotiated settlement" but to do nothing in practice. Now that a "negotiated settlement" has been effectively removed as an option, perhaps White House spokesmen should, at the very least, think up a new line.
Serbia - Kosovo
AP 8 Mar 2005 Kosovo's Leader Resigns Amid War Crimes Charges By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Filed at 2:08 p.m. ET PRISTINA, Serbia-Montenegro (AP) -- Kosovo's prime minister resigned Tuesday with plans to surrender to a U.N. court which he said has indicted him for alleged war crimes. But he insisted he was innocent of the charges. Ramush Haradinaj, who was in office for three months, said he would leave Wednesday for The Hague, Netherlands, where the tribunal is based. ``Today I have been called upon to make a sacrifice, something I never believed would happen,'' he said in a statement. ``This means also cooperation with international justice, however unjust it is.'' Haradinaj said his actions as an ethnic Albanian rebel commander during the 1989-99 war against Serb forces were consistent with international law. ``I have behaved like an honorable man,'' he said. Kosovo still seethes with ethnic tensions nearly six years after the end of the war, and the decision to charge Haradinaj raised concerns that violence would erupt again. U.N. police and NATO troops were put on alert, but no incidents were reported by late Tuesday. Haradinaj suggested others were also named in the indictment. But neither he nor tribunal officials gave any details on the charges or on what crimes he allegedly committed. Serbian officials accuse him of command responsibility in the alleged killing of several Serb civilians by forces of the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army in 1998, close to his home village of Glodjanje. They also mention the rapes of several Gypsie women and the killing of some Gypsie men -- all part of a wedding party -- by his forces shortly after the war near the town of Djakovica. International officials appeared relieved that Haradinaj -- a seasoned battlefield commander with a fiery temper and a loyal following -- had decided to cooperate. Kosovo's top U.N. official, Soren Jessen-Petersen, praised his decision and said his departure ``will leave a big gap'' in the political process. Expressing his thanks to Haradinaj for resigning and going to The Hague voluntarily, Philip Goldberg, the U.S. representative to Kosovo, said full cooperation with the war crimes court is ``test of a society's commitment to the rule of law.'' The ethnic Albanian majority in Kosovo considers Haradinaj a hero in the struggle for independence from Serb rule. But most of the Serb minority hate him and other past leaders of the Kosovo Liberation Army that fought former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Serb forces. Milosevic himself is being tried by the tribunal for his alleged part in atrocities in Kosovo and other Balkan wars. That trial, and the fact that most of those who have answered to the court have been Serbs, have embittered Serbs, who accuse the tribunal of bias. They were likely to see Haradinaj's indictment as at least partially righting such perceived injustice. Kosovo, which officially remains a province of Serbia-Montenegro, has been administered by the United Nations and NATO since 1999, following the alliance's war to halt a crackdown by Serb troops on ethnic Albanian rebels. Ethnic Albanians want independence, but Kosovo's Serbs do not. The Serbs, who generally boycotted the December elections leading to Haradinaj's appointment, say he is responsible for wartime atrocities in western Kosovo. But when he was appointed prime minister, Haradinaj spoke with great pride of his time as a rebel leader. ``I have met my obligation toward my country, and I promise that all my life I will do the same if my country needs me,'' he said.
NYT 9 Mar 2005 EDITORIAL Kosovo's New Chance The indictment of a prime minister on war crimes charges hardly seems like good news, but for troubled and bloodied Kosovo, that's what it is, or at least should be. When Ramush Haradinaj, who had been prime minister of the provincial government for only about three months, resigned yesterday after being informed of his indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, it gave Kosovo's ethnic Albanians a new chance to show they deserve independence. Choosing Mr. Haradinaj in the first place was one of several distressing signs that the Kosovo Albanians were not yet ready for running their own country, which would require them to guarantee the rights and security of the Serb minority. Less than a year ago, ethnic Albanians went on a rampage that left 19 Serbs dead and 900 wounded. Mr. Haradinaj has been accused by the Serbs of committing atrocities in the Decani region of western Kosovo when he was a commander there of the Kosovo Liberation Army, the guerrilla army that battled Serb forces in the late 1990's. He has denied any wrongdoing, but K.L.A. fighters were reported to be responsible for killing Serbs and ethnic Albanians suspected of collaborating with Serb rule. An international review this summer is supposed to determine whether Kosovo has met the standards of governance and interethnic harmony that would justify granting it independence under a timetable set by the Security Council. It's been clear lately that Kosovo's leaders have failed the test. But the Kosovo Albanians could take a big step toward countering that impression by choosing a new prime minister who is not tainted by his actions during the battles with the Serbs and who could serve as a moderating, uniting influence in the divided province.
Spain see Argentina.
Reuters 4 Mar 2005 Turkey renames "foreign" animals ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey has renamed some animal species, saying foreign scientists opposed to its territorial integrity had chosen their former names with ill intent, the Environment Ministry has said. A sheep species previously known as Ovis Armeniana was renamed Ovis Orientalis Anatolicus. A species of red fox was renamed as Vulpes Vulpes rather than Vulpes Vulpes Kurdistanica. "Unfortunately there are many other species in Turkey which were named this way with ill intentions. This ill intent is so obvious that even species only found in our country were given names against Turkey's unity," the statement said. The ministry said the animals' new names had been chosen as result of scientific studies.
NYT 6 Mar 2005 Ukraine's Security Chief Says Ex-Official Killed Himself By STEVEN LEE MYERS MOSCOW, March 5 - The chief of Ukraine's security service said Saturday that the country's former interior minister, Yuri F. Kravchenko, had shot himself twice in the head on Friday, refuting speculation that he had been killed by someone else. The official announcement and a note found in Mr. Kravchenko's pocket, the security chief added, left little doubt that Mr. Kravchenko had committed suicide. Oleksandr V. Turchinov, chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine, said in televised remarks that the note left by Mr. Kravchenko could provide significant details for prosecutors investigating the killing of Georgy Gongadze, a prominent journalist whose death in 2000 provoked protests and international criticism of Leonid D. Kuchma, who was then the president. Mr. Kravchenko, who served as interior minister at the time of Mr. Gongadze's abduction and killing, was found dead Friday at a country cottage outside Kiev. He had been scheduled to meet prosecutors on Friday for questioning about his involvement in Mr. Gongadze's case or his knowledge of the details surrounding it. Mr. Turchinov was recently appointed by the new president, Viktor A. Yushchenko, who has vowed to revive the long-stalled investigation into Mr. Gongadze's death. Mr. Turchinov said in an interview on Ukraine's 1+1 television network that Mr. Kravchenko had been "one of the prime suspects." His death has roiled Ukraine's politics, with some leading lawmakers criticizing the government's handling of the investigation and others calling for more arrests, including Mr. Kuchma's. Mr. Kuchma, who had been vacationing in the Czech Republic after stepping down in January, returned to Ukraine on Saturday after again denying that he had had anything to do with Mr. Gongadze's killing. Mr. Turchinov, who examined the cottage and the shed where Mr. Kravchenko died, declined to describe the contents of the note, but indicated that Mr. Kravchenko's death had not brought the investigation to a halt. "It provides quite a lot of information for the investigation," he said of the note, according to Interfax. "The note concerns particular people who are also suspects in the case. It provides investigators with a chance to plan the further direction of the investigation." After years of inaction under Mr. Kuchma, the investigation has gathered momentum, raising speculation that senior members of Mr. Kuchma's government could face arrest and trial for Mr. Gongadze's killing, one of the most prominent and symbolic crimes committed in Ukraine since the country regained independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Earlier this week, Mr. Yushchenko and the prosecutor general, Svyatoslav M. Piskun, announced that they had arrested three suspects, a general and two colonels who worked under Mr. Kravchenko. They also said they knew who had orchestrated the crime, though they did not elaborate. Mr. Piskun also publicly identified Mr. Kravchenko as a witness, announcing in advance that Mr. Kravchenko would be questioned by investigators on the day he died. Mr. Turchinov said Mr. Kravchenko's daughter was walking the family's dog in the yard of the house in Koncha-Zaspa, an elite enclave that includes the country cottages of many of the country's political leaders, when Mr. Kravchenko went into a shed and fired two shots with a pistol registered to him. The first shot went through his chin and out his mouth, Mr. Turchinov said. The second bullet entered his right temple.
Reuters 7 Mar 2005 Flight of fancy lands novelist $1 million deal Paul Majendie (Reuters) London: Supermarket manager Clive Woodall sat down in his lunch hour every day to write a fairy tale for his two young sons. Now, after landing a $1 million deal with Disney to film his debut novel, stacking shelves is just a memory. One for Sorrow - a dark tale of magpies plotting genocide in the bird kingdom - proved a surprise hit last year with the publishing rights sold to 20 countries within days. Now, with the publication on Monday of Seven for a Secret, Woodall, 47, hopes the sequel could fulfil another Hollywood fantasy. "Once the first book was such a success and sold to so many countries, it was a risk worth taking," he told Reuters. "But every morning I still shake myself. It's a real joy to think my workplace is down at the dining room table." After 30 years of trying, his timing proved perfect. With the phenomenal success of her Harry Potter books, JK Rowling created a huge new market for children's books and Woodall said: "She opened the door for me without any doubt." Then came the rise in popularity of animation films like Shrek and Shark Tale. "This is the right time - I hope to ride the next animation wave," said Woodall who would still be scribbling in obscurity if British film director Franc Roddam had not ridden to the rescue. The reject slips from publishers were piling up when Woodall's wife gave the manuscript to the manager of the bank where she worked. He in turn urged Roddam to read it and the director of the cult rock classic Quadrophenia was immediately hooked. Roddam published the book himself, swung the Disney deal and suddenly Woodall was living a fairy tale as well as writing one. The Cambridgeshire-based author first got the idea for his dark tale of avian genocide when driving to work and watching magpies scavenging for carrion at the side of the road. Enter Traska, the evil magpie determined to conquer the world, and Kirrick, the plucky little robin equally determined to stop him, in a sombre saga full of violent death. "The books are deliberately dark as I believe nature is quite savage," he said. Reflecting on heart-rending cinema scenes, such as the death of Bambi's mother, he said: "the classic Disney films have portrayed the dark side very well. I wouldn't want this story to be turned into something too happy, too sweet." Woodall would dearly love to see British actor Alan Rickman do the voiceover for the villain while for the perky robin, he thinks Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood would be perfect casting. He has no regrets about firing up his children's imagination every night with a diet of tales about nature at its most destructive. "The story grabbed them quite early because of the dark side," he said. "Being frightened in the bedroom is quite an enjoyable thing as long as you know it's fiction and you're safe."
The New Times (Kigali) 9 Mar 2005 Media Pronounces Itself On Genocide By Emmy Karemera London Several journalists drawn from around the world are calling for more action to ensure that there is no reccurence of genocide in Rwanda. The 'Never Again' call was made Monday in London, where journalists from around the globe are undergoing a course. They also called upon the international community to end the on going conflicts around the world. "We are all grieved by what happened in Rwanda and to what is happening in several parts of the world," said Cristina Kuizon, a native of the Philippines. The journalists, however, hailed the Rwandan government for the achievements registered after the 1994 genocide, in which close to one million lives were lost. "We have been following all that is happening in Rwanda mainly after the genocide and there are really improvements in all areas; there is also stability," said Chiman Salh of the Iraq Khabat newspaper. She said that there should be more efforts to end the global most conflicts like in Iraq, Congo, Sudan and 'many others around the globe'. "The world needs to be free of wars and this can only be attained through efforts and working in harmony, rather than propagating self interests," Samini Darshni of the New Strait Times Press in Malaysia, said. The journalists are attending a two-week international news reporting course sponsored by the Reuters Foundation in the United Kingdom. They are drawn from Bulgaria, Georgia, Mexico, Iraq, Philippines and India. Others are from Sudan, Malaysia, Macedonia, Uruguay and Rwanda.
- Agence France-Presse
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
(the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, with a special project on the Yugoslav
war crimes tribunal)
Global News Monitor | Americas | Europe | Africa | Asia-Pacific