News Monitor for May 1- 15, 2005
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
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Reuters 8 May 2005 Algeria calls on France to admit 1945 massacres By Paul de Bendern ALGIERS, May 8 (Reuters) - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has called on France to admit its part in the massacres of 45,000 Algerians who took to the streets to demand independence as Europe celebrated victory over Nazi Germany on May 8, 1945. Algeria is marking the 60th anniversary of the repression of pro-independence demonstrators under French colonial rule as Europeans celebrate the end of World War Two in Europe. "The paradox of the massacres of May 8, 1945, is that when the heroic Algerian combatants returned from the fronts in Europe, Africa and elsewhere where they defended France's honour and interests ... the French administration fired on peaceful demonstrators," Bouteflika said in a speech published by state media on Sunday. Colonial forces launched an air and ground offensive against several eastern cities, particularly Setif and Guelma, in response to anti-French riots, which killed more than 100 Europeans. The crackdown lasted several days and according to the Algerian state left 45,000 people dead. European historians put the figure at between 15,000 and 20,000. It marks one of the darkest chapters in the history of Algeria and France, which ruled the North African country with an iron fist from 1830 until 1962. France's ambassador to Algeria said in February that the Setif massacre was an "inexcusable tragedy". It was the most explicit comments by the French state on the disputed event. "The Algerian people are still waiting for France ... that the declarations of the ambassador of France are followed by a more convincing gesture," Bouteflika said in the speech given in Setif on Saturday. Several remembrance events are being held across Algeria. The repression sparked the anti-colonial movement and a long war of independence, costing the lives of 1.5 million Algerians, according to the government. Many French also perished. ADMIT PAST ATROCITIES "The Algerian people have always been waiting for France to admit the acts perpetrated during the colonisation period and the liberation war to pave the way for broader and new friendship and cooperation prospects," Bouteflika said. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in an interview published on Sunday in Algerian daily El Watan that both countries needed to "look together at the past, in order to overcome the chapter most painful for our two peoples". Algeria and France are gradually normalising ties and are due to sign an important friendship treaty this year, similar to the 1963 Franco-German reconciliation treaty. After seeing its diplomatic and economic influence over Algeria weakened in recent years as the United States developed more oil interests and power in the region, France is trying regain the upper hand. "I don't think it's enough (the French comments) to satisfy the Algerian public ... but it's a step forward as never before has there been such a move from the French," said Benjamin Stora, considered France's leader historian on Algeria. Many Algerian political figures and historians, who call the massacre a genocide, not only want an apology but demand compensation. "Sixty years later, France does not recognise its crimes against humanity," Algerian French-language newspaper La Tribune said on its front page
Background: Le Monde 9 Mar 2005 lemonde.fr Paris reconnaît que le massacre de Sétif en 1945 était "inexcusable" LE MONDE | 09.03.05 | 13h08 près une semaine de silence, la Fondation du 8 mai 1945, importante association algérienne spécialisée sur l'étude du colonialisme, s'est félicitée de la reconnaissance par la France du massacre de Sétif du 8 mai 1945. Si la Fondation se félicite "que la France officielle se décide enfin à reconnaître son implication dans les actes monstrueux et inhumains commis en son nom de 1830 à 1962", elle réclame à l'Etat français d'aller plus loin et de procéder à "une demande de pardon". Elle estime que le président Jacques Chirac pourrait le faire de la même façon qu'il a reconnu "solennellement et publiquement la responsabilité de l'Etat français dans la déportation des juifs au camp d'Auschwitz et autres camps". C'est le 27 février que l'ambassadeur de France à Alger a créé la surprise. Ce qui aurait pu n'être qu'un déplacement protocolaire d'Hubert Colin de Verdière à Sétif, petite ville de l'Est algérien, s'est transformé en événement. "Je me dois d'évoquer une tragédie qui a particulièrement endeuillé votre région. Je veux parler des massacres du 8 mai 1945, il y aura bientôt soixante ans : une tragédie inexcusable", a déclaré l'ambassadeur de France lors d'une allocution prononcée à l'intérieur de l'université Ferhat Abbas, du nom du celui qui devait devenir le premier président du GPRA (Gouvernement provisoire de la République algérienne) en septembre 1958. Un homme que Colin de Verdière a salué au passage comme "un adversaire" de la France, "mais un adversaire respecté". C'était la première fois qu'un représentant officiel de la République française reconnaissait ce qui s'était passé à Sétif et le faisait en employant des mots aussi forts que "massacre" et "tragédie inexcusable". Le massacre de Sétif reste l'une des pages les plus noires de l'histoire commune entre les deux pays. Le 8 mai 1945, la France célèbre l'armistice marquant la capitulation de l'Allemagne nazie. De l'autre côté de la Méditerranée, on s'apprête également à fêter la victoire, d'autant que nombre d'Algériens ont donné leur vie pour la libération de la France. Chauffés à blanc, des militants du Parti du peuple algérien (PPA, dissous en 1939) se rassemblent pour réclamer la libération de leur chef, Messali Hadj. Une foule estimée à 10 000 personnes défile en scandant des slogans nationalistes. La bannière algérienne, blanche et verte, frappée de l'étoile et du croissant rouge, est brandie. Bien vite, la colère des manifestants se retourne contre les Français de la ville. Cent neuf colons sont tués et plus d'une centaine blessés. La répression sera d'une brutalité extrême, disproportionnée mais sans doute à la mesure de la hantise du gouvernement général et des Européens d'Algérie d'assister au prélude d'un soulèvement général. Avec l'assentiment de Paris et l'assistance de groupes d'autodéfense de colons, l'armée mène la contre-attaque. La marine tire à partir de la côte tandis que l'aviation bombarde et mitraille les villages. De nombreuses exécutions sommaires se produisent, en particulier dans la ville de Guelma. La "pacification" - expression en vigueur dans l'armée française - ne prendra fin que le 22 mai avec la reddition officielle des tribus. Le bilan de ce déchaînement de folie sanglante ? Entre 10 000 et 45 000 morts, selon les sources. Cette tragédie va constituer le socle du nationalisme algérien. L'écrivain Kateb Yacine, jeune témoin de cette "horrible boucherie", dira que le massacre de Sétif a donné naissance à son nationalisme. De nombreux historiens situent le déclenchement de la guerre d'indépendance algérienne non pas au 1er novembre 1954, comme on le lit dans les livres d'histoire, mais au 8 mai 1945. La reconnaissance par la France de sa responsabilité dans ce drame a donc créé émotion et surprise à Alger. Si les autorités algériennes se sont gardées de tout commentaire, la presse a unanimement applaudi le geste de l'ambassadeur de France. "Un tabou vient d'être cassé", a ainsi estimé le quotidien francophone L'Expression, tandis que le journal arabophone Al-Jazaïr News parlait de "révolution". Beaucoup, tel El-Khabar, le plus grand tirage de la presse algérienne, espèrent que ce "premier pas" ouvrira la voie à une forme de "repentance". Ils l'espèrent d'autant plus que l'année 2005 devrait être marquée par la signature d'un important traité d'amitié entre la France et l'Algérie, comparable au traité de l'Elysée qui avait scellé la réconciliation franco-allemande en 1963.
IRIN 26 Apr 2005 Thousands disarmed since December, UN official says [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] BUJUMBURA, 26 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Burundi has disarmed and demobilised 7,282 former combatants since December 2004 under an ongoing programme that includes their reintegration into society, a military spokesman for the UN Mission in Burundi (ONUB) has said. The spokesman, Maj Adama Diop, told IRIN on Saturday that of this figure, 6,315 were men, 328 women and 639 children. He said as of Thursday at least two disarmament centres, in the west-central province of Bubanza and another in the central province of Gitega, had been emptied of ex-combatants. Some had been integrated into the country's security forces and others reintegrated into civilian life. He said there were still 48 female ex-combatants at the disarmament centre in the west-central province of Muramvya. At a centre referred to as the Demobilisation Waiting Area in Buramata, Bubanza Province, 2,048 senior ex-rebel fighters await disarmament. Diop said that following an agreement between Burundi's Joint Military Command and the joint liaison teams involved in the DDR process, these senior ex-rebels would first be paid the equivalent of 18-months' salary, at their rank, before their integration into the army or police. They would receive an initial lump sum payment equivalent to nine months’ pay and be paid the balance later in two installments. At the Gashingwa disarmament centre in the central province of Muramyva there were, until last week, 1,314 ex-fighters of the Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la defense de la démocratie (CNDD-FDD. At the Rugazi centre in Bubanza, there were 6,406 CNDD-FDD ex-combatants awaiting integration into the national police force. Diop said ONUB started moving these ex-combatants from the area on Thursday. At centres in Kibuye and Buramata, all in Bubanza, there were 2,888 and 2,043 CNDD-FDD former combatants, respectively. Of those in Kibuye, 969 were due to join the newly integrated National Defence Force (NDF) while 417 would be reintegrated into civilian life. Ex-combatants of smaller former rebel groups were also targeted in the latest DDR effort. Of some 238 former fighters loyal to a former CNDD-FDD faction that has since changed into a political party called Kaze-FDD, 114 were to join the NDF and 124 to reintegrate into society. Of some 86 ex-combatants loyal to the former Forces nationales de liberation (FNL), which also changed its name to FNL-Icanzo when it became a political party, 27 were due to join the NDF and 59 reintegrated into civilian life. Another 416 ex-combatants, loyal to the Parti liberateur du people or Palipe-Agakiza - initially part of the FNL faction led by Agathon Rwasa - were due to join the NDF while 22 others would rejoin civilian life. Of those loyal to the Front de liberation nationale (Frolina), which is now a political party, 482 were designated to join the NDF while 79 others were to return to civilian life. Diop said the UN mission regularly verified the identities of the ex-combatants. "There are techniques to determine who is a fake and who had been a genuine fighter," he said. Upon disarmament at pre-disarmament assembly centres, he said, the former combatants were sent to cantonment sites where, under ONUB protection, they decided whether to rejoin civilian life or be integrated into either the army or the police. Those entering the army are sent to a harmonisation centre at Tenga, north of the capital, Bujumbura, where they mix with other ex-combatants destined for the NDF. Those joining the police force are taken to police training centres. Diop said former Burundian government troops were sent from their barracks to demobilisation sites. The DDR plan is scheduled to run for four years, Diop said, with the formation of an initial 45,000-member National Defence Force, which would later be reduced to 30,000 and finally to 25,000 troops. He said on the DDR programme, ONUB worked with the Joint Ceasefire Commission, the Integrated Military Command and their joint liaison teams.
BBC 28 Apr 2005 Rwandan Hutus will not get asylum - Hutus who fled Rwanda will be encouraged to return Thousands of Rwandan Hutus who fled into Burundi because they feared prosecution for genocide will not be accorded refugee status, officials say. Senior officials from both countries made the decision at a meeting in northern Burundi. The meeting was called to defuse diplomatic tensions between the two countries over the incident. Rwanda says they are trying to escape justice and had criticised Burundi for moving them away from the border. Some of those who fled said that all Hutus were being accused of involvement in the genocide. Burundi's Public Security Minister Salvator Ngihabose said joint committees of officials from both countries would meet the fleeing Hutus and try to persuade them to go back to Rwanda. He said they would not force them to return, but those who stayed in Burundi might be liable for extradition. Trials Rwanda wants the suspects to be tried in the traditional courts, known as gacaca, which have been set up to prosecute suspects in the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 people died. "We have decided to establish sensitisation committees composed of Rwandan mayors from areas the refugees come from and Burundi administrators from the sites the refugees have fled to," Mr Ngihabose told the AFP news agency. "We are not going to force anybody to go back to Rwanda, but we are going to do everything possible to convince them to return," Mr Ntihabose added. He said that those who did not want to return would not be accorded refugee status. If they are wanted as criminals in Rwanda, they will be liable for extradition, the minister added.
BBC 16 May 2005 Last rebels make peace in Burundi By Robert Walker BBC News Ndayizeye has now brought all the rebels aboard Burundi's president and the head of the only rebel group still outside the peace process have reached agreement. Domitien Ndayizeye and the leader of the National Liberation Forces, Agathon Rwasa, agreed to end all hostilities after talks in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The country's transitional government is due to hand power to an elected administration in August. Rebels from the Hutu majority and an army dominated by the Tutsi minority have waged 12 years of civil war. This agreement signed has raised hopes that Burundi can overcome one of its final obstacles to peace. Massacre The FNL, a small group which draws its support from the country's Hutu majority, has remained active only in the province around the capital, Bujumbura. Although other Hutu rebel movements joined Burundi's power-sharing government in recent years, the FNL refused to enter the peace process. But the group found itself under increasing pressure over the past year. There have been concerted military offensives against it and last year the FNL was denounced by regional leaders as a terrorist group following a massacre at a camp housing Congolese refugees. The FNL said it carried out the attack, in which more than a 150 ethnic Tutsis were murdered. If a lasting peace deal can now be agreed between the government and the FNL, it will boost efforts to recover from the civil war. A constitution designed to share power between Hutus and Tutsis was approved in a referendum earlier this year and parliamentary and presidential elections are scheduled for coming months. But the challenge of reconciliation still lies ahead, as does the task of bringing to justice those responsible for crimes committed by all sides during the war.
IRIN 29 Apr 2005 Cote d' Ivoire: Elections designed to restore peace set for 30 October[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] ABIDJAN, 29 April (IRIN) - Cote d'Ivoire's government has announced that a first round of long-awaited presidential elections, designed to bring peace back to the divided West African nation, will be held on 30 October. "The next presidential elections in Cote d'Ivoire will take place, for the first round, on Sunday 30 October 2005," government spokesman Hubert Oulai said on state television late Thursday. Hopes that peace might finally return to the world's top cocoa producer, which has been split in two for almost three years, have been growing since a summit in the South African capital, Pretoria earlier this month. The election date announcement came hot on the heels of a decision by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to bow to international pressure and allow his main rival Alassane Ouattara to run against him in October's polls. The exclusion of Ouattara -- a former prime minister who now heads the opposition Rally of the Republicans party -- from the presidential elections in 2000 is considered to be one of the root causes behind a failed rebel attempt to topple Gbagbo in September 2002 that ushered in the civil war. The constitution stipulated that all presidential candidates must have two Ivorian parents, and Ouattara's opponents say his father was born in neighbouring Burkina Faso. Gbagbo for months insisted that a referendum was needed to change the rules governing who could stand for election but he made an about-turn on Tuesday following a request from South African President and international mediator Thabo Mbeki. Ouattara cautiously praised Gbagbo's decision to let him stand in October's polls as "an incontestable first step toward democracy in Cote d'Ivoire", but warned that this did not mean that all problems were solved. In New York, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan applauded the breakthrough, "The Secretary-General welcomes this development while stressing that it is vital that the parties take all necessary steps to ensure that the elections are free, fair and transparent and conform to international standards," his office said in a statement. After a slow start, Mbeki -- who was called in by the African Union after Cote d'Ivoire's shaky ceasefire collapsed in November -- has seen his peace drive gain momentum in the last month. The next crucial step is getting the rebels and government militias to start handing over their weapons as agreed on 14 May. Military chiefs from the rebel and government camps are due to meet in the official capital, Yamoussoukro, between 2 and 6 May to discuss the proposed timetable for disarmament. While they haggle over the details, the UN Security Council will have to consider the mandate of some 10,000 UN and French peacekeepers, patrolling the buffer zone between the rebel-run north and the government-held south. Their current mandate expires on 4 May. And with the election date now set, arrangements for allowing Cote d'Ivoire's 17 million people to go to the polls must begin in earnest. Diplomats say that with only six months to go, and the nation still divided, time to organise free and fair elections is tight. Gbagbo said on Tuesday that he had ordered the National Statistics Institute (INS) to start compiling electoral lists and sorting out voter cards in preparation for the polls, as has been the procedure for over 25 years. However, critics say voter registration should be carried out by the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI). The INS, they say, is headed by a close Gbagbo ally and impartiality cannot be guaranteed. Opposition leader Ouattara told Radio France Internationale this week that it would be wrong to charge the INS with the job and said it should be done by the CEI in cooperation with the UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire (ONUCI) But an INS official brushed off the criticism, "It is officially our job to compile voter cards and set up electoral lists and we're a recognized institute that has done this many times in the past," the official who did not wish to be identified told IRIN. "What's the problem?"
AFP 1 May 2005 Toll in ethnic clashes in western Ivory Coast rises to 14: hospital ABIDJAN, May 1 (AFP) - Three days of clashes between rival ethnic groups branding machetes and clubs in western Ivory Coast have left 14 dead, hospital workers said Sunday. The unrest started Friday, apparently after shots were fired in the western town of Duekoue, 480 kilometres (300 miles) west of Abidjan, at members of the Dioula ethnic group, who hail from the north of the country, as they were attending mosque. A strike called by Dioula shopowners and drivers over insecurity on a main highway had created tensions with the local Guere community. Violence flared again Sunday in the district of Toguei, local residents, contacted from Abidjan by telephone, said. A hospital spokesman in Duekoue said nine people had been killed on Friday and Saturday, and a further five on Sunday. Kim Gordon-Bates of the International Committee of the Red Cross said eight people had been killed and 35 injured between Friday morning and noon on Sunday. "But that is only part of the picture," he said, adding that clashes had ended Sunday afternoon but that the situation remained "tense."
IRIN 6 May 2005 Ethnic fighting leaves 10,000 sleeping out, afraid to go home [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © BBC DUEKOUE, 6 May 2005 (IRIN) - Few of the 10,000 people who fled ethnic violence in this western Cote d'Ivoire town are thinking about going home, with thousands choosing to sleep out in the grounds of a local church even though they are packed together like sardines and there is little to eat. The trouble in Duekoue erupted last week, when the Guere people in the town refused to join a strike to protest security problems that had been organised by the Dioula ethnic group. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said at least 15 people had died in the fighting that ensued, most from machete wounds, and that 8,000 to 10,000 people had been displaced. More than 7,000 of those that fled their homes are crammed together in bleak conditions in the grounds of Duekoue's Catholic mission. ”We can’t cope with all these people,” priest Juan Ruiz told IRIN. "When it rains there just isn’t enough room for everyone.” He said that the church's electric water pump kept breaking down and hygiene was a worrying problem, given the crowded conditions. The cocoa-growing "Wild West" has a history of tit-for-tat killings between immigrant farmers and indigenous landowners, locked in conflict over the right to cultivate the region’s fertile cocoa plantations. But Cote d’Ivoire’s almost three-year-old civil war, which has left the country split into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south, has exacerbated the tensions, with many landowners using the conflict as a pretext to chase immigrants off their lands. While much-trumpeted breakthroughs have been achieved in the peace process in recent weeks, few of the displaced people in Duekoue seem to think this will make much difference to their own lives any time soon. “I’m staying here,” said Colette Zeba, a 50-year-old who sells bananas on the street and is staying at the church. “There may be nothing to eat but at least we’re safe. If we go home the whole family will be exterminated.” Zeba, who is a member of the Guere people, told IRIN how she discovered she was a widow two days ago when her husband’s body was found lying dead on a road nearby. The couple, along with their seven children and her four sisters, had hotfooted it out of their home in a Guere area in the dead of night last weekend when they heard shouts and cries next door. The husband fled one way, the rest of the family headed for the mission grounds. Duekoue, which lies near the border with Liberia, is home to the Guere and Dioula ethnic groups. The Guere are generally animist or Christian and see themselves as the original residents of the region, while the Dioula are Muslims who trace their origins back to northern Cote d'Ivoire and beyond. Problems started last Friday when the Guere did not heed a strike call by Dioula truck-drivers and traders to protest against the growing insecurity on roads in the lawless western region, where mercenaries and weapons are said to transit back and forth across the porous borders. The situation rapidly deteriorated. “There is a real problem of mistrust between the communities," said the Catholic mission's Ruiz. “Many of these people no longer have homes, and others are still at home but too scared to go out." But Duekoue's mayor, Victor Tiehi Kpai, said the town's problems went beyond that. “This isn’t just a conflict between communities,” the mayor, who is a supporter of President Laurent Gbagbo’s ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), told IRIN. “This is part of the war, many of the armed assailants came from the north." “The only way these problems will be resolved will be when the whole of the confidence zone is disarmed,” he added. Duekoue lies less than 50 km south of the UN-patrolled confidence zone that cuts a swathe across Cote d’Ivoire. Army chiefs from the government forces and the New Forces rebel movement that control the north are currently holding talks in the capital Yamossoukro about starting disarmament on 14 May. Under peace efforts led by international mediator and South African President Thabo Mbeki, the country also is to hold elections next October. But in the west, people fear that militias using hired guns from across the border could torpedo the peace process. “Some people say militia commander Colombo has gone to fetch Liberians,” said young immigrant mechanic Abdoulaye Soumahoro. “A lot of the young people are ready to fight off assailants.” For young people on the Guere side the talk is exactly the same. “People are telling us through microphones we can go home now,” said Serge Pacome Guiriekpa, who belongs to a Guere group called ‘The Family’. “But we know the Dioulas will attack and we’re staying here to defend the property of our families who have all fled.” Fear pervades the town. At the Catholic mission Sister Bernadette said that many people went home in the day but slept there at night. "The town is calm, apparently, but they are still afraid. I don't know exactly what they are afraid of, I think they are scared of being attacked. The rumor mill never stops, you know," she said. "They come and go. Some of them are from surrounding villages, but most of them are from Duekoue, from the neighbourhoods 'Guere' and 'Belleville'. The UN Mission in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI) this week organised a reconciliation meeting of traditional leaders from Duekoue's different ethnic groups and pledged more patrols to help keep the peace. “These incidents have caused a lot of worry at the United Nations because we thought with the (latest) peace deal, we were on the way to peace,” UN special envoy Alan Doss told residents of Duekoue on Thursday.
AP 30 Apr 2005 TOURISTS TARGETED: Two women open fire on tour bus in Cairo By PAUL GARWOOD Associated Press CAIRO, Egypt - Two veiled women opened fire on a tour bus in a historic part of the Egyptian capital Saturday and one of them was killed in a gunbattle with security guards, authorities said. Hours earlier, a suspect in an April 7 bomb attack died in a police chase when an explosive he was carrying blew up as he jumped off a bridge. Seven people, including four foreigners, were injured in the explosion, which occurred by a bus station near an exclusive hotel frequented by foreigners and behind the downtown Egyptian Museum. The Interior Ministry said Ehab Yousri Yassin, an Egyptian suspected in the April 7 bombing at a tourist bazaar, was killed after he jumped from the bridge during a pursuit, setting off the explosion he was carrying. Less than two hours later, two veiled women opened fire at a tour bus in the Sayeda Aisha part of old Cairo, an area rich with historic mosques and cemeteries. Three people, including one woman, were injured and at least one of the attackers was killed, Egyptian Health Minister Mohammed Awad Tag Eddin told reporters. The minister said it was not known if the injured woman was the second shooter. Police, who had initially reported the second incident as an explosion, said both women had been killed by security forces in the area. The differing accounts could not be reconciled. The attacks came less than a month after a suicide bomber killed two French citizens and an American when he detonated a homemade bomb near the Khan al-Khalili market on April 7. Remains of a body, covered with newspapers, were seen beneath the bridge a few minutes after the initial explosion was heard across downtown Cairo on Saturday afternoon. Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said two Israelis - a man and a woman - an Italian woman and a Russian man were injured. Eddin, however, told Nile News television that three Egyptians were injured along with two Israelis, one Swiss and one Italian. The hands and face of one of the injured - a man with reddish-blond hair who was lifted onto a stretcher - were covered with blood. Sitting upright, he held his hands to his face as paramedics loaded the stretcher into an ambulance. On a nearby curb, two Westerners checked their wounds; the young woman's left arm was bloodied and the man sitting next to her appeared to have sustained leg injuries. Though the bus station is used almost exclusively by Egyptians, the area is between the Ramses Hilton hotel frequented by foreigners and the Egyptian Museum, one of the country's main tourist sites. Normally, the station is teeming with people heading home from work in the mid-afternoon, but the blast happened on a holiday weekend. Initially, police said they believed a car had exploded, but no vehicle debris could be seen in the area. A senior policeman on the scene and some witnesses said a bomb was thrown from the bridge above to the street below. Egyptian security officials rarely speak on the record. "I saw very loud explosion after what looked like a man throwing a bomb down from the bridge," said Mohammed Hasan Mohammed, 45. Scores of police, including riot officers in helmets and carrying submachine guns, kept away the crowds who gathered to watch, standing on benches and potted plants to get a view. In a sign of the tension and uncertainty, police singled out a few youths to inspect their bags. During the 1990s, Islamic insurgents mounted several attacks on tourists in a bid to cripple tourism and bring down the government. The government has been anxious to limit the damage of recent attacks to Egypt's tourism industry and had said the April 7 market blast was the act of only a few. In October 2004, militants detonated bombs in the Sinai resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, killing 34 people and wounding more than 100. One bomb destroyed a wing of the Taba Hilton Hotel. Police said the mastermind was a Palestinian resident of Egypt who was angry with Israel. More than 10 Israeli tourists were among the dead. The last major burst of violence in Cairo was in 1997, when gunmen attacked a bus of German tourists, killing 11, several months before massacring tourists at a pharaonic temple in the southern city of Luxor in a shooting that left 64 dead, including the six gunmen.
Police arrest 200 over Cairo attacks By Heba Saleh Published: May 2 2005 03:00 | Last updated: May 2 2005 03:00 Police in Egypt have arrested and brought in for questioning about 200 people from the slum areas north of Cairo that are home to the families of suspected Islamic militants implicated in two attacks against tourists at the weekend. A suspected militant was killed when a nail-filled bomb he was carrying exploded in one of Cairo's main squares next to the Egyptian Museum. Seven people, including four tourists, were injured. The Interior Ministry said the man, Ehab Yousri Yassin, was wanted in connection with another bomb attack in the main Cairo bazaar near Azhar mosque three weeks ago that killed two French visitors and an American. Heba Saleh, Cairo
Background: AP 30 Apr 2005 List of Attacks on Foreigners in Egypt A list of attacks on foreigners in Egypt in recent years: 2005: _ April 30: Two veiled women open fire on a tour bus in Cairo, then shoot themselves, and a suspect in an April 7 attack dies when the bomb he is carrying goes off during a police chase. All three attackers die and seven people, four of them foreigners, are wounded in the violence. _ April 7: Suicide bomber detonates a homemade bomb near the Khan al-Khalili market, killing two French citizens and an American. ___ 2004: _ Oct. 7: Islamic militants detonate bombs in the Sinai resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan, killing 34 people, including more than 10 Israelis, and wounding more than 100. ___ 1997: _ Nov. 17: Islamic militants kill 58 foreign tourists and four Egyptians in an attack at the Pharaonic Temple of Hatshepsut outside Luxor in southern Egypt. Police kill all six assailants. The massacre devastates the country's important tourist industry. _ Sept. 18: Two gunmen kill nine German tourists and their driver in an attack on a tour bus outside the Egyptian Museum in central Cairo. Eighteen people are wounded. ___ 1996: _ April 18: Four Islamic militants open fire on Greek tourists, killing 18, outside the Europa Hotel on the Pyramids Road in Cairo. Seventeen people are wounded. ___ 1994: _ March 4: Islamic militants open fire on a Nile cruise ship at Sidfa in southern Egypt, killing a German woman. _ Aug. 26: A 13-year-old Spanish boy is killed and three other people are wounded when militants fire at a tourist bus near Nag Hamadi in southern Egypt. _ Sept. 27: Two German tourists and two Egyptians are killed when a militant opens fire in central Hurghada, a Red Sea resort. _ Oct. 23: A British man is killed and three Britons and their driver wounded in an attack on their minibus near Naqada in southern Egypt. ___ 1993: _ Feb. 26: A bomb explodes at popular coffee shop in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, killing a Swede, a Turk and an Egyptian. Eighteen others are injured, including two Americans. _ Oct. 26: A gunman kills two Americans and a Frenchman and wounds three other foreigners at a Cairo hotel. ___ 1992: _ Islamic insurrection begins in Egypt. An early casualty is a British woman tourist killed in an attack on a bus near Dairut in southern Egypt.
BBC 6 May 2005 Ethiopia PM warns of 'hate' poll Meles Zenawi has been in power for the last 14 years Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has accused opposition parties of fomenting ethnic hatred ahead of general elections on 15 May. In a national television address, he compared opposition tactics to those used in the Rwandan genocide. "The Ethiopian opposition is following the same trend to create havoc and hatred," Mr Meles said, AFP reports. Last week the prime minister's party denied accusations that it was killing and intimidating opposition supporters. Mr Meles was re-elected in parliamentary elections in 2000, following Ethiopia's first multi-party elections in 1995. Observer ban lifted The prime minister warned the opposition's campaign would lead to bloodshed. We are not in favour of local observers who have not proved their independence of party influence Prime Minister Meles Zenawi "I call on the people of Ethiopia to punish opposition parties who are promoting an ideology of hatred and divisiveness by denying them their vote on May 15." He said he did not welcome a court ruling earlier this week lifting a ban on the deployment of local observers. "We are not in favour of local observers who have not proved their independence of party influence," he said, adding that observers had been invited from all over the world. The European Union is sending 150 monitors to observe the elections. In March, six US election observers were expelled from Ethiopia on the grounds they were operating illegally and "not invited". 'Disintegrating' The opposition have alleged that police are intimidating their supporters at campaign rallies and taking away their polling cards. But talking to religious leaders on Friday morning, Mr Meles called for a peaceful poll. He urged them not to allow "seeds of discord to penetrate, in the pretext of electioneering... [to] protect this culture from cracking, splintering and disintegrating." Some 25 million Ethiopians are able to vote for new members of parliament, who in turn choose a prime minister. Some 35 parties are contesting the seats, although most of these are members of the three main coalitions: the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) and the opposition CUD and UEDF.
Legalbrief Africa 2 May 2005 www.legalbrief.co.za Issue No: 128 New evidence against Taylor The War Crimes Court in Sierra Leone, which has indicted Charles Taylor on 17 counts of crimes against humanity for his role in supporting the war there, says it has evidence the former Liberian leader masterminded an assassination attempt on the president of neighbouring Guinea in January this year. The Financial Times quotes the court’s Chief Prosecutor, David Crane, as saying he had evidence Taylor, who is living in N igeria, backed the gunmen who fired on President Lansana Conté's convoy in Conakry, the Guinean capital. ‘His assassination attempt on Conté marks him as a true threat to international peace and security,’ said Crane. Regional analysts say Guinea is considered the weakest link in the chain of interlinked countries in west Africa that Taylor may be eyeing as a base for a new regional war. Analysts say Guinea, which has a third of the world's known bauxite reserves, would provide Taylor with ample resources to fund a new war chest. Full report in the Financial Times ft.com
Philadelphia Inquirer 2 May 2005 Biafra's independence dream rekindles By Andrew Maykuth Inquirer Staff Writer OKIGWE, Nigeria - In its day, the Nigerian civil war was a huge international story, made bigger by the wrenching televised images of skeletal babies who accounted for many of the one million victims in the breakaway region called Biafra. The conflict, The Inquirer wrote in 1969, "has joined Vietnam and the Middle East as a world problem of dangerous importance." The war ended 35 years ago, and today there is scant physical evidence of the futile effort to create the independent nation of Biafra. No war cemeteries, no monuments, no veterans' organizations. Except for a small museum that contains a few fading photographs and rusting weaponry, the Nigerian government has banished memorials to the war, one of the first to be seared onto the world's consciousness by television. Ralph Uwazuruike, who was 9 years old when the war began in 1967, says he will never forget his younger sister Mary dying in his arms from malnutrition while his mother desperately searched their village for medicine. "So many other children died as my sister died," said Uwazuruike, 46, a lawyer. Six years ago, Uwazuruike became fed up with what he considered the continued humiliation of the ethnic Ibo people, the dominant tribe in the eastern Nigerian region that had declared itself independent. He formed an organization called the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, daring to use the name that the Nigerian government had officially expunged from maps. At first, not many people took MASSOB seriously. The group hung Biafra's red, green and black flags from cell-phone towers and power lines, and erected a "Welcome to Biafra" sign on a bridge crossing the Niger River. The government tore down the flags and signs and arrested MASSOB members in confrontations that sometimes became violent, even deadly. Last August, the rest of Nigeria took notice as the outlawed group organized a one-day strike that virtually shut down Africa's most populous nation. The following month, authorities arrested 53 people at a soccer game sponsored by MASSOB, charging them with treason, punishable by death. "At first people said, 'Look at this small boy' - they ignored me," Uwazuruike said in an interview in the organization's new headquarters here, a fortified mansion surrounded by 15-foot walls topped with tightly coiled razor wire. "But this thing is strengthening us, making us stronger every day." Uwazuruike insisted his group is nonviolent, saying he is inspired by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas K. Gandhi. But the organization has some militaristic appearances. Its security forces wear camouflage fatigues. Its internal command is governed by a group called the "Biafra Liberation Front." And Uwazuruike, while talking about plans to build a museum to the civil war, refers to the 1960s conflict as the "first" Biafran war. The Biafran secessionist movement is not the only ethnic or regional group in Nigeria clamoring for more recognition. Several groups, including the Biafrans, claim territory that sits atop the nation's oil wealth. The existence of so many restless ethnic groups is testimony to Nigeria's precariousness 45 years after independence from Britain. Fractured along ethnic and religious lines and governed for much of its postcolonial history by oppressive military regimes, the West African nation of 130 million people has failed to develop more than a superficial sense of national identity. With more than 250 ethnic groups - the largest are the Yorubas in the west, the Hausas in the north, and the Ibos in the east - Nigeria has plenty of potential fault lines. But the reemergence of a Biafran secessionist movement is said to be particularly galling to President Olusegun Obasanjo, who will visit President Bush in Washington on Thursday. Obasanjo, the former head of Nigeria's armed forces, established his career fighting the Biafrans in the civil war. MASSOB has tapped into a deep reservoir of resentment among Ibos, who say they have received few government jobs and public projects since the civil war. Many also believe the predominantly Christian Ibos are the target of violence in the Muslim north, where Ibos have settled as traders. "Most of the world thinks the Biafran war ended in 1970, but we know it never ended," said Chidi Ofoegbu, 49, an electronics engineer in Port Harcourt who is active in the Biafran movement. "The only way we can get rid of this mess is to have a separate entity." Chief Odumegwu Ojukwu, the Oxford-trained soldier who led the secession bid in 1967, initially dismissed MASSOB's efforts as "infantile drama" but has changed his thinking about the group. "The greatest thing MASSOB has done is just to demonstrate you can't wipe out the memory of Biafra," said Ojukwu, 71, who lives in the city of Enugu and suffers from faltering eyesight. He is careful to point out that he is not a member of MASSOB. Some Ibos in the United States have organized the Biafra Foundation to channel support to MASSOB. The foundation broadcasts weekly shortwave radio programs to Nigeria from its base in Washington. "There's no indication that the winners of the civil war are ever going to let us have a life of our own," said Emmanuel Enekwechi, the foundation president and a psychologist at the University of Iowa. "Ibo culture is being undermined." Nigeria's civil war broke out in 1967 when Muslim Hausas in the north massacred Ibos after several military coups. Thousands of Ibos took refuge in the eastern region, and Biafra declared its independence. The international community, fearing newly independent African nations would disintegrate into ethnic anarchy if secession were permitted in any single country, steadfastly refused to recognize Biafra. The Biafrans received some support by clandestine airlifts organized by Irish and French sympathizers. But after 32 months, Nigerian federal forces gradually encircled the separatists, and Biafra was crushed. Ibos now regard the war with mixed feelings. "People look back and say we were very resourceful during the war," said the Rev. John Okoye, who was a Red Cross volunteer during the conflict and is now rector of Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu. "We didn't stand back and allow our women and children to be raped and killed," Okoye said. "We were men. It's something to look back, not with joy as such, but to say that we were able to do this without any big country supporting Biafra." But there is little appetite for waging war again. Few Ibos say publicly that independence is the answer - partly out of fear of sounding treasonous. "The international community will not recognize secession, so why pursue that?" said Mike Eke, a Biafra war veteran who is editor of the Sunday Statesman, a government newspaper in the city of Owerri. "The solution is to get involved in the political process." Uwazuruike, the MASSOB chief, is vague about how the organization hopes to achieve independence nonviolently when the government of Nigeria is unlikely to grant it any other way. He said that many believe Nigeria will be unable to survive as a unified nation and that Biafra must be prepared to go on its own when that day arrives. "People believe that Nigeria will someday break up and let us go our separate way," he said. Ojukwu, the aging Biafran leader who ran as a presidential candidate in 2003, said secession is always an option. "We saw the war that ended in 1970 as an interruption of our romance with freedom - an interruption," said Ojukwu, who still commands much respect among Ibos. "Our aspirations still remain."
washingtonpost.com 6 May 2005 Nigerian Leader Says He Won't Turn Taylor Over for Trial By Michael A. Fletcher Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, May 6, 2005; A20 President Bush and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo met at the White House yesterday where they discussed the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan, the high price of oil and a way to bring to justice Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president accused of war crimes and now living in exile in Nigeria. Obasanjo, speaking after the meeting in an interview with Washington Post reporters and editors, said, "I don't believe anybody who has committed a crime should get away with it." He said, however, he would not turn Taylor over to a United Nations-sponsored court in Sierra Leone, where Taylor has been indicted for crimes against humanity, unless there is "absolute . . . evidence" that Taylor has violated the asylum agreement. Absent that, Obasanjo said, he would turn Taylor over if asked to do so by the Liberian government. "Nothing should be done to erode the credibility of Nigeria," Obasanjo said, explaining that he consulted widely with other nations before granting political asylum to Taylor. If he reneges on the asylum agreement, Obasanjo said, "nobody will respect us." Taylor has been indicted on 17 counts of war crimes against humanity for his role in the war in Sierra Leone. In 2003, as part of an internationally brokered deal, Obasanjo offered Taylor political asylum so long as Taylor refrained from any further crimes. At the time, Bush and many other world leaders praised the move. Subsequently, however, Taylor has been accused of violating his asylum deal by plotting the attempted assassination of the president of Guinea earlier this year, and meddling in the campaign leading up to this fall's presidential elections in Liberia. Obasanjo said those allegations have not been proved. Bush administration officials acknowledged the sensitivity of the Taylor situation, saying the asylum agreement helped bring a fragile peace to Liberia and neighboring West African nations that had been embroiled in brutal wars for 15 years. "The president appreciates President Obasanjo's leadership in helping to bring an end to the civil war and to get Charles Taylor out of Liberia," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. Nonetheless, he said, "they talked about a way to hold Charles Taylor accountable." During the 45-minute meeting, Obasanjo also updated Bush on African Union peacekeeping efforts in Sudan's Darfur region, where hundreds of thousands of people have died in two years of fighting that Bush has labeled a "genocide." The African Union, which Obasanjo chairs, has decided to double the number of troops in the region and is seeking NATO help in deploying the new peacekeepers. "The president thanked him for his strong leadership in Darfur and talked about the importance of resolving the situation in Sudan," McClellan said. Bush and Obasanjo also discussed oil prices, which have doubled over the past two years. Obasanjo said he agreed with Bush that oil prices are too high. He said it was in the interest of large oil-producing and oil-consuming nations that prices be more moderate. Nigeria is the world's seventh-largest oil producer, pumping 2.5 million barrels a day. Obasanjo said he also raised the question of debt relief for Nigeria with Bush, asking him to "use his good offices" to press the issue with his European counterparts. Earlier in the day, Obasanjo met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, with whom he said he discussed many of the same issues, including the Taylor situation. "I think that we and the Nigerians both agree that he should not be interfering in any way in Liberia's internal affairs, and to undermine democracy there, and that he should face justice," State Department spokesman Richard A. Boucher said.
Rwanda See Belgium, Burundi, France
NYT 1 May 2005 ESSAY Searching for Answers, and Discovering That There Are None By ANDREW BLUM DURING my first semester of college, in the mid-90's, I went with a dozen classmates on a two-week junket to Berlin, sponsored by the German government with the intention of improving relations with American Jews. One afternoon, we were taken to a villa in the suburb of Wannsee, where we were ushered politely into an elegant dining room and offered juice and mineral water. A historian sat down with us at an enormous wooden table and explained that in that very room in 1942, 15 Nazi bureaucrats planned the genocide of the Jews. We were literally immobilized. I - all of us, I think - had expected to "learn more" about the Holocaust on this trip, to come to some rational understanding of what had happened, some sequence of cause and effect. But it made no sense; as we sat in that place, its defiance of understanding was devastating and astounding. I remember standing in the parking lot outside as dusk descended, stomping my feet in fresh snow, waiting for everyone to be composed enough to get on the bus. Later that evening, we all went to an outdoor Christmas market, where we ate sausages and got drunk on mulled wine. I thought of this in February in Rwanda, over a dinner of skewered beef and French fries with my wife, Davina Pardo, and our friend Claire Wihogora. Claire casually told us that the owner of the restaurant, a popular place called Chez Lando, had been killed in the Rwandan genocide. Then the conversation moved on. It was our first night there, and my mind raced with questions, none of which I asked. How he died, who killed him and why - all of that seemed to matter less than Claire's implicit point, a necessary part of our orientation to this country: that the genocide was everywhere in Rwanda. Nobody had got off easy. Those whose families had escaped killing had perhaps been killers themselves. Or if they weren't themselves killers, then they must have seen killing. I watched the waiter unscrew the top on a bottle of water. One of the great thrills of travel is feeling more alive. But death, too, has its appeals for the traveler. Battlefields and memorials have long been staples of tourism at places like Gettysburg, Normandy, Auschwitz or ground zero in Lower Manhattan. And though it felt strange for us to be drawn to a faraway place by the horrors that had happened there, drawn we were. At the risk of sounding glib, we might call ourselves genocide tourists, seeking answers to the unanswerable. Davina had begun work in Toronto on a film about Claire. A native Rwandan, Claire lived through the genocide as a teenager and then moved to Canada, where she became close to Davina's family. When Claire invited us to come along on a visit home, we accepted quickly. Davina could film in Rwanda, and we would meet Claire's remaining family (her father, brother and cousins were killed in the genocide). But there was more behind our eagerness. Like Davina, I am the grandchild of Holocaust refugees. For us, born three decades after 1945, the stories of loss and the bitter memories exist at a remove. We feel compelled to try to grasp their meaning, but the horrors are abstracted and refracted by film, literature and time. In Rwanda, it is only 11 years since an estimated 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. Genocide is still fresh. In his book on Rwanda, "We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families," Philip Gourevitch writes that even after he saw piles of decomposing bodies, what had happened was "strangely unimaginable." He adds, "I mean one still had to imagine it." But would being at the scene, breathing its air, give us some insight, however small, into the mysteries of mass murder and of death itself? Strangely, the place in Rwanda where the genocide seemed most distant and abstract was the main genocide memorial, across a small valley from downtown Kigali. The complex is strikingly tidy and cool - one of the few places in Kigali with air-conditioning. Videos and text are in English, French and Kinyarwanda, the native Rwandan language spoken by both Hutus and Tutsis. Inscribed on the walls are quotations like "When they said 'never again' after the Holocaust, was it meant for some people and not for others?" It was affecting, but in those carpeted and cooled galleries, the genocide was history. Outside, it was still part of everyday life. On the slope below the museum was a garden filled with tombs, one of them still open. Coffins draped in purple bunting were visible a few feet underground, and a ladder rested nearby, ready for use. A guard carrying a machine gun walked with us, chatting with Claire and her brother-in-law in Kinyarwanda. When genocidaires were released from jail, the guard explained, they often pointed out the graves of people they had killed, who were then brought there; bodies had arrived that week. He said the tombs held about 250,000 people. As Claire searched a wall of names for family and friends, on the other side of a low fence a man hacked at tall grass with a machete. It seemed extraordinarily callous to me. The perversion of the machete, the agricultural tool of Rwanda, into the favorite weapon of the genocide even colored my observation of a gardener at work. Every institution, place and life in Rwanda seemed to show scars, some more obviously than others. One afternoon, Claire introduced us to a neighbor passing by her mother's house - the woman's husband, Claire explained later, had hidden Claire and her sisters. Later that afternoon, Claire paused unexpectedly to point out the spot where her father had been killed, a few hundred yards from their house. While we looked and talked, some neighbors came out to watch us. The same neighbors, Claire said, had watched as her father was murdered. We drove two hours out into the countryside to the Catholic church in Nyamata, where thousands sought refuge and were killed. A sad woman named Celaphine Mukamusoni showed us around. She pointed out bullet holes in the ceiling and bloodstains on the walls where children had been smashed. She gestured toward a side room that held a pile of clothes removed from the victims' bodies and, as a raw memorial, left there, unwashed. In the same room were plastic sacks of remains exhumed from recently identified graves, waiting for burial at an anniversary ceremony. Behind the church were two enormous crypts, built into the ground but covered with a tile roof. Celaphine gestured for us to step down into them. They were hot and damp, like something alive. Near the entrance were newer coffins, wrapped in purple. Stretching out into the dark were shelves and shelves of skulls and bones. We went back up the stairs and Celaphine led us silently to the second crypt, which she insisted that we climb down into. It was the same as the first, and my stomach turned. Strangely, I felt relief. The odor exempted us from the need for imagination. It relieved us of the need for understanding. Claire began to cry. That, Celaphine told her, was how she felt every day. ANDREW BLUM is a contributing editor at Metropolis Magazine.
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 3 May 2005 Former UN Head in Rwanda During the Genocide Settles ScoresArusha A new book, "Le patron de Dallaire parle" (Dallaire's boss speaks out), by the man who headed the United Nations Assistance Mission to Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the 1994 genocide, Jacques Roger Booh Booh, shows the depths of the divisions in the UN at that time. And provides it him with an opportunity to settle old scores with his critics. Even the title of the short book, published in France by Editions Duboiris, shows how seriously Booh Booh takes Gen. Romeo Dallaire's - the former commander of the UNAMIR forces - accusations against him. Dallaire, who has previously twice testified for the prosecution at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) based in Arusha, has attained almost mythical status for the way he has described the failure of UN forces to protect civilians in the genocide. He earlier published a book in which he did not pull his punches in his descriptions of his former boss. Dallaire accused Booh Booh of favouring the Hutu-dominated regime in place at that time, and not being able to impose the UN's role in the Arusha Peace accords. The comments obviously touched a raw nerve with Booh Booh. Much of the book is filled with complaints against his former subordinate, calling him a "mediocre politician and diplomat" who "sabotaged my work by openly siding with the RPF" (Former rebels of the Tutsi-dominated Rwandese Patriotic Front currently in power in Kigali.) In the rest of the 200 or so pages, Jacques Roger Booh Booh tries to salvage his own image. He says that Rwandans are to blame for their own misfortunes. But for many Rwandans he is the one that failed to pass the test during the three months that took the lives of an estimated one million people. The Cameroonian diplomat is himself expected to appear as a defence witness for Colonel Theoneste Bagosora who is on trial at the tribunal. Bagosora is considered by the Prosecutor of the ICTR to have been the "mastermind" of the genocide. If there were any doubts that the UN behaved badly during the fateful days of 1994, this book dispels them.
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 5 May 2005 Gacaca to Complete Genocide Cases in 'Less Than 10 Years' Kigali Gacaca courts will complete all cases related to the 1994 genocide in less than ten years, a senior official told Hirondelle News Agency on Thursday. "We are now working at an impressive speed. At this rate we should be done with the trials in less than ten years", said Augustin Nkusi, the director of legal affairs in the National Service for Gacaca Jurisdictions (NSGJ). Gacaca is a semi-traditional court system established three years ago to speed up genocide cases and reconciliation. Authorities had previously estimated that it would take at least 100 years to clear all genocide cases if they were tried in regular courts. When the Gacaca courts were created, the government estimated that the courts would need only five years. However, estimates of the number of potential genocide suspects have since more than tripled to about 750,000 people. "I'm not sure about five years", Nkusi said, casting doubt on previous calculations. He said that the NSGJ was now analyzing available statistics to make a more informed projection of the time needed for Gacaca courts to complete their mandate. The NSGJ reported last week that 654 trials had been completed by 118 courts in their first 50 days of proper trials. This is less than 10% of the number of Gacaca courts expected to be holding trials by early next year.
Telegraph UK 8 May 2005 'These people are fatalistic. They return to Rwanda because they have nothing to lose' By Benjamin Joffe-Walt in Congo (Filed: 08/05/2005) From the air above eastern Congo, the sprawling Kivu jungle appears mysterious and impenetrable. Roads look like faint sketchings traced through the thick green canopy, concealed by mutant trees of gigantic height that grow across the tracks. Inhospitable - but also home, for the past decade, to hundreds of thousands of refugees from the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda, mainly women and children who have eked out a miserable, invisible life without food, medicine, possessions or security. For some, the only memories of their homeland are of fleeing the 100-day slaughter in 1994, when up to 10,000 people a day were massacred by gangs wielding clubs and machetes. Recently, however, the hostile jungle has begun giving up its most elusive residents as thousands of Hutu refugees prepare to return home under a United Nations repatriation programme. For the youngest children, this is the first time they have ever ventured out of the jungle and the exodus offers the forest fugitives an uncertain future. Many will go back to their villages only to discover that the rest of their families are dead. They will still be better off. While Kivu has long been the perfect sanctuary for other species fleeing extinction - large gorilla colonies thrive here - it has proved less hospitable to the refugees. Living in fear of being hunted by gangs of rogue militiamen launching crossborder attacks from Rwanda, the Hutus have been forced to survive in the same way as the beasts with which they share the forest floor - ever on the move, living off little more than fruit and berries scavenged from the bush. "Imagine eking out a life in this jungle," says Juya Murthy, a repatriation officer with the UN High Commission for Refugees UNHCR). "Many of these people died just trying to survive. This programme reaches out to the few who made it." Dressed in camouflage army shirts, Beatrice Nyiransabimana and Nikore Erevaniyam emerge nervously from the forest to shelter under the green canvas of a crowded refugee camp. Ten years after the Tutsis took control of Rwanda following the genocide, the women remain terrified of what might yet happen. "We were afraid before because we heard that if we return to Rwanda they'll kill us," they said. "But there is such illness and hunger in the bush. We sleep one day inside here, the next day outside there. One day you eat, the next day nothing. We've been living like animals." The refugees are used to physical hardship but life in the jungle is attritional. Bacteria flourish, there is little to eat, and clean water and medical care are all but non-existent. Malaria, Aids and other killer diseases are rampant. About a third of the refugees are believed to be HIV-positive, while those children who do not die young suffer stunted growth because of severe malnutrition. Many refugees arrive at assembly points on the point of collapse after trekking for up to three weeks through the jungle. "It's in everyone's best interest to get Rwandan refugees back home," Ralf Gruenert, another protection officer, told The Telegraph. "But it's such incredible uncertainty for them. They've spent 10 years in the forest and they don't know much of what to expect - if you leave as a child you have a certain image of your country and returning must be disillusioning. "But they are fatalistic - they think it can't possibly be worse then this, and they cross the border with nothing to lose." About one million Hutus fled Rwanda after members of their own ethnic group began the 1994 uprising against the historically-dominant Tutsi minority, which culminated in the savage deaths of almost 800,000 people. While a minority of refugees are thought to have been complicit in the atrocities, others are moderates who were targeted by fellow Hutus for refusing to participate in the genocide. Many also fled the equally savage reprisals that were exacted as Tutsi security forces began to quell the uprising. The UN repatriation programme received a huge boost in recent weeks with news that the much-feared FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda), the main Hutu rebel group, plans to disarm. The group's violent followers are deeply intermingled with the refugees. For years, seeking to avert any peaceful resolution with the government of Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president, the rebels have prevented refugees from returning. "The FDLR said if you go back to Rwanda you are a coward and supporting Kagame," says Nikore Erevaniyam. "They told us we must all stay until we retake Rwanda by force." The United Nations estimates that tens of thousands of refugees remain at bay in the FDLR stronghold areas of eastern Congo, where the militia presence has been a source of consistent instability across the entire region. Rwanda invaded the Democratic Republic in Congo in 1996 and 1998 on the grounds that the rebels posed a continued threat to the reconstituted, Tutsi-led government. The invasions sparked a devastating, five-year conflict that sucked in troops from six neighbouring countries and left 3.8 million dead. The Congolese remain nervous of the refugees in their midst. "If they stay here we cannot have peace in Congo because there are FDLR among them wishing to disturb the peace," said Nestor Baliana Mastaki, the local Congolese government administrator. Persuading the refugees that they will prosper in Rwanda is not easy. Despite efforts at power-sharing and ethnic reconciliation, Hutus remain politically and economically marginalised, and face routine harassment from the security forces. "What they have in Rwanda is a black-on-black apartheid," one senior international official said. "So far, any real opposition in Rwanda has been arrested. "The international community has been a group of moral midgets, feeling so guilty for their inaction during the genocide that they're afraid to stand up to Rwanda today." Yet most of the forest refugees seem past caring. A day after arriving at the UN camp they queue eagerly for trucks heading to the border, singing with excitement as they balance their few belongings in a sack on their heads. Many do not even know where they are headed, seemingly motivated by nothing more than homesickness for a Rwanda that most of them only remember as children. Some who have made the journey ahead of them say that life on the other side of the border has proved little better. "The UN gives you a blanket, a bucket, some oil and a bit of food, but then they abandon you," says Felix Inzamukosha. ''If you find your former house or your relatives you are lucky, but if not, you're on your own." Nonetheless, most of the returning Rwandans are grateful. None, so far, has shown any interest in going back from where they came.
Reuters 12 May 2005 Hero of 'Hotel Rwanda' to write autobiography 12 May 2005 19:32:35 GMT Source: Reuters NEW YORK, May 12 (Reuters) - The Rwandan hotel manager who saved hundreds of people from genocide and was portrayed in the film "Hotel Rwanda" will publish an autobiography next year, his literary agent said on Thursday. After a 28-hour bidding process, which drew offers from eight publishers, Viking Penguin bought the North American rights to Paul Rusesabagina's personal story for an undisclosed sum on Friday, agent Jill Kneerim said. The lively bidding was fueled by the Oscar-nominated movie tracing Rusesabagina's role as a luxury hotel manager who helped save the lives of more than 1,200 of his countrymen in the 1994 genocide, Kneerim told Reuters. "I think he'll certainly have a lot to tell; the genocide took 100 days and the film took two hours," she said. "There's so much to be said about the massacres and his own personal story." About 800,000 people were killed in the genocide in the tiny central African nation in the Great Lakes region. U.S. actor Don Cheadle, who played Rusesabagina, was nominated for an Oscar as best actor in the film. British-born Sophie Okonedo earned a nomination as best supporting actress for playing his wife. The book is still being written and will probably begin with a prologue set in the midst of the massacre, in which victims were hacked to death with machetes, Kneerim said. The first chapter is likely to open with his childhood. Rusesabagina left Rwanda in 1996 to live in Brussels. He is working with a co-writer, American journalist Tom Zoellner, while giving lectures across the United States. Kneerim said she also sold British rights for the book and was in talks with publishers in other countries for the French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Chinese editions of the book.
news.independent.co.uk 28 Apr 2005 Nato poised for first African engagement in Darfur By Stephen Castle in Brussels 28 April 2005 Nato is on the verge of its first mission in sub-Saharan Africa, after the African Union turned to the transatlantic alliance for logistical help for its monitoring operations in Sudan's conflict-ravaged Darfur region. Within hours of receiving the request, Nato's ambassadors gave the go-ahead for talks on how it can help assist the AU's observation mission and discussions will start "as soon as possible", Nato said. There is no prospect of alliance soldiers being committed to the operation, which will probably focus on providing transport and other technical needs. Nato involvement has been encouraged by the US, which pressed the case at a recent meeting of the alliance's foreign ministers in Vilnius, Lithuania, in the face of French resistance. France has already sent a deployment in the region. The African sub-continent had been seen as an obvious sphere of operations for the EU's new military force which mounted a mission to Congo two years ago. One French idea for Darfur was that its logistical support and air surveillance operation, based in Chad, might be turned into an EU military mission. That prospect seems less likely following yesterday morning's written request to Nato from Alpha Oumar Konare, the chairman of the AU Commission, who is expected to visit the alliance's Brussels headquarters next month. James Appathurai, Nato's chief spokesman, said: "What has to be decided is what the AU needs and what is already provided and whether Nato can add value.But certainly this is the first time Nato would be engaged in any significant way in sub-Saharan Africa." The Sudanese government insists only African troops can be involved in intervention and other Nato and EU diplomats are frustrated by the limited progress made by the AU. "It is a question of choosing the most appropriate organisation for the operation," one official said. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than two million have fled their homes during the last two years of violence in Darfur involving Arab militias, non-Arab rebels and Sudanese government forces in the province. The deployment of more than 2,000 African Union peace monitors has helped calm the situation in some areas. But the force remains small relative to its task, and its mandate is limited, preventing it from enforcing the peace. It is likely, however, that the AU force will be given a stronger mandate to protect civilians who are under threat.
AFP 29 May 2005 African Union to double Darfur mission From correspondents in Addis Ababa THE African Union (AU) decided today to double the strength of its peace monitoring mission in Sudan's troubled western region of Darfur within five months, officials said. The AU's Peace and Security Council agreed to increase the size of its Darfur mission from the 3320 that will be deployed by the end of May to 7731 by the end of September, they said. The council, modelled after the UN Security Council, approved an increase that will see a total of 6171 military personnel and 1,560 civilian police deployed in Darfur by September 30, said Said Djinnit, the AU commissioner for peace and security. The AU has had a peace monitoring mission in Darfur since last summer which currently numbers 2200 men. The decision by the council came a day after the AU formally asked to start talks with NATO for logistical support in its Darfur mission. It was not immediately clear about how NATO might help concretely, but the alliance has large logistics, transport and operating planning capacities at its disposal. Overnight at AU headquarters here, UN chief Kofi Annan's special envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, said that as far as he was concerned the AU force in Darfur, should number 12,000. The Darfur conflict, which pits rebels against pro-government militia, has resulted in between 180,000 and 300,000 deaths and the displacement of some two million people. Negotiations between the parties in the conflict have been suspended for the past several months following repeated violations of the cease-fire agreement signed in April 2004. They are scheduled to resume early May in the Nigerian capital Abuja.
Reuters 29 Apr 2005 Sudan should try Darfur war crimes suspects - minister Fri April 29, 2005 8:51 AM GMT+02:00 By Opheera McDoom KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Sudan should set up an independent court to try people accused of war crimes in the troubled region of Darfur, a senior official said on Thursday. The comments of Justice Minister Ali Mohamed Osman Yassin were the first indication that Khartoum may start cooperating with a U.N. resolution on bringing people suspected of war crimes in the vast western region to justice. Last month's Security Council resolution referred Darfur war crimes suspects to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. But it also left the door open for Sudan to hold its own trials provided these were credible, saying the ICC should encourage such domestic efforts. Sudanese officials have rejected the possibility of the country's citizens being tried in a foreign court. Yassin said he would propose to the government at a meeting on Saturday that Sudan conduct credible and independent investigations, working alongside the ICC's chief prosecutor. "I'm suggesting that we appoint an independent court from experienced judges, some from outside the judiciary and some from within," he said. "That will be an independent court to try people accused of crimes in Darfur." "I also think an independent prosecutor should be appointed -- an impartial, independent and experienced Sudanese, who can do his job as a counterpart to the prosecutor-general of the ICC," he added. Rebels took up arms more than two years ago in Darfur accusing the central government of neglect and of giving Arab tribes preferential treatment over non-Arabs in the arid region. More than 2 million people have since fled their homes to makeshift camps, creating a humanitarian crisis. The United States said last year the Darfur violence, in which tens of thousands have been killed, was genocide and held the government and allied Arab militias responsible. Yassin is the head of a committee which has been studying the U.N. resolution. Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said he thought his proposal would be adopted by the government. The Rome Statute which created the ICC says that suspects tried in credible and just proceedings in their own country cannot be tried again at the Hague-based tribunal. But legal experts say it would be hard for the government to convince the ICC that Sudan could hold such trials. "If they try officials and happen to find them innocent, I think they will still be sent to the ICC," said one U.N. source. A U.N.-appointed commission, which said heinous war crimes had likely taken place in Darfur, said in January that the Sudanese justice system had been significantly weakened and it did not believe it was capable of trying war crimes suspects. It gave a sealed list of 51 suspects including senior government and military officials, militia and rebel leaders and foreign army officers, to the United Nations. The list is now with the ICC.
NYT 29 Apr 2005 Sudan Poses First Big Trial for World Criminal Court By MARLISE SIMONS THE HAGUE - Almost three years after the International Criminal Court opened over United States opposition, the United Nations Security Council asked it to investigate atrocities in Sudan and, in the process, placed the court squarely in the international spotlight. By any measure, the request was an important vote of confidence in the new tribunal. But at the court's glass-and-steel headquarters in The Hague, the reaction has been less than euphoric. Still wrestling with the mechanics of how to carry out its mandate to deal with large-scale human rights abuses, the new institution faces high expectations but lacks practical experience. Unlike temporary tribunals, such as those addressing Yugoslavia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone, this is the world's first permanent and independent criminal court for judging war crimes. The chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has taken up two cases, involving large-scale killings in Uganda and Congo, but neither case is expected to come to court soon. On the conflict in Darfur in Western Sudan, however, where as many as 300,000 people have been killed and more than two million others displaced, the court is under pressure to act swiftly, not only in the hope of ending the bloodshed but also, some diplomats say, because it would allow the Security Council to postpone direct intervention and nonetheless appear to be taking action. Darfur will put the court to its first major test, as it carves a legal path from accusation, through investigation and indictment, all the way to trial, verdict and punishment. Christian Palme, a spokesman for the prosecution, said he did not know when the Darfur investigation would formally begin. "But you can count on the work being expeditious," he said. In mid-April, court analysts began poring over nine boxes of material collected by a United Nations commission of inquiry that spent three months scrutinizing Sudan's ethnic killing campaign and its humanitarian crisis. Antonio Cassese, an Italian law professor, led that commission, and he knew what to look for, having served for almost eight years as a judge of the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He said the boxes contained the type of material used to document other war crimes, including photographs and videos of weapons, ammunition and war damage, as well as hundreds of statements from military officers, rebels, prisoners and witnesses to atrocities. "The prosecutor will use this as he deems fit, but our material can provide clues, where to investigate, how to identify perpetrators," Mr. Cassese said. His 30-member team, which included 13 investigators, also prepared a list of suspects. Among the 51 names listed, he said, were "military and civilians about whom there is much convincing evidence." That evidence includes accounts from senior military officers that the Sudanese government "openly uses militia gangs, gives them weapons and salaries and tells them to kill and burn and it backs them up with planes and helicopters," Mr. Cassese said. "There is no restraint. More than 2,000 villages have been burnt. The scale of looting, raping and torture is horrible." Since the commission sent the 51 names to the court, much speculation has occurred in Darfur over who they are. "People see themselves as on the list," a Western diplomat said. "They're asking questions. They're saying, 'If I'm on the list, what can I do about it?' " For the time being, though, the wealth of material provided by the commission cannot be treated as evidence because the Cassese inquiry was a fact-finding mission that did not collect sworn witness statements. In contrast, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo must conduct criminal investigations that can stand up in court. He has called on other governments and individuals to provide any information they have. "It will be an uphill battle for the prosecutor to prepare specific cases, I don't envy him," Mr. Cassese said, recalling that his own investigation faced many obstacles. Lawyers familiar with the court said the prosecutor was likely to focus on a dozen or fewer of the top suspects in Sudan's atrocities. To build his case, they say, he must prove the chain of command during the conduct of military operations, demonstrate who had control of the militias responsible for much of the looting, raping and killing, and show which officials, politicians or military officers had the authority to prevent the atrocities committed against civilians or at least to punish the perpetrators. This means court investigators will have to question suspects who are high-level officials, including members of the Sudanese government, which has already objected to the court's involvement. The prosecution will almost certainly have to turn to Western governments to request intelligence intercepts. "With Darfur, the court has moved into the big league and now the burden is on the prosecutor to produce," said Richard Dicker, a director of Human Rights Watch. "He has to demonstrate to the Security Council and to the world that he can act swiftly and effectively. Darfur certainly focuses attention in a way that the investigations in the Congo and Uganda have not." Court officials here said the Security Council resolution of March 31 asking the court to act has certainly energized the staff. But some said the staff also felt apprehension. "Most people here realize we are now under a magnifying glass," said one court official. "It could make or break the institution." The court has 360 employees, 85 of them in the office of the prosecutor. With Darfur on its roster, the court will accelerate its plans to hire more police investigators and legal analysts. It draws its recruits from the 98 nations that have ratified the 1998 Rome Treaty establishing the court. The Bush administration withdrew the United States from the treaty and has campaigned against the court, demanding that it have no jurisdiction over Americans. After two months of opposition and diplomatic wrangling, the Security Council was only able to refer the Darfur crisis to the court because the United States agreed to abstain, rather than cast its veto. European governments that have championed the court are eager for its first major case to succeed. Foreign Minister Michel Barnier of France, who had provided much of the drive behind the Security Council's move, visited the court recently to be briefed on its plans. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, meanwhile, has gone to Washington to seek help. Sudan has told the Cassese commission that it will never surrender any Sudanese to The Hague and will try to block court action by opening its own investigations. "These will have no credibility," Mr. Cassese said. "The country has no way to conduct proper trials, the whole judiciary is flawed." More Peacekeepers Due in Darfur ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, April 28 (AP) - The African Union agreed Thursday to more than triple the size of its peacekeeping force in the Darfur region of western Sudan by Sept. 30. The union's Peace and Security Council approved bolstering the 2,200-member force to more than 7,700, including nearly 5,500 troops, 1,600 civilian police and about 700 military observers, an African Union spokesman, Assane Ba, said. Marc Lacey contributed reporting from Khartoum, Sudan,for this article.
www.latimes.com 29 Apr 2005 THE WORLD Official Pariah Sudan Valuable to America's War on Terrorism Despite once harboring Bin Laden, Khartoum regime has supplied key intelligence, officials say. By Ken Silverstein Times Staff Writer April 29, 2005 KHARTOUM, Sudan — The Bush administration has forged a close intelligence partnership with the Islamic regime that once welcomed Osama bin Laden here, even though Sudan continues to come under harsh U.S. and international criticism for human rights violations. The Sudanese government, an unlikely ally in the U.S. fight against terror, remains on the most recent U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. At the same time, however, it has been providing access to terrorism suspects and sharing intelligence data with the United States. Last week, the CIA sent an executive jet here to ferry the chief of Sudan's intelligence agency to Washington for secret meetings sealing Khartoum's sensitive and previously veiled partnership with the administration, U.S. government officials confirmed. A decade ago Bin Laden and his fledgling Al Qaeda network were based in Khartoum. After they left for Afghanistan, the regime of Sudanese strongman Lt. Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir retained ties with other groups the U.S. accuses of terrorism. As recently as September, then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell accused Sudan of committing genocide in putting down an armed rebellion in the western province of Darfur. And the administration warned that the African country's conduct posed "an extraordinary threat to the national security" of the United States. Behind the scenes, however, Sudan was emerging as a surprisingly valuable ally of the CIA. The warming relationship has produced significant results, according to interviews with American and Sudanese intelligence and government officials. They disclosed, for example, that: • Sudan's Mukhabarat, its version of the CIA, has detained Al Qaeda suspects for interrogation by U.S. agents. • The Sudanese intelligence agency has seized and turned over to the FBI evidence recovered in raids on suspected terrorists' homes, including fake passports. • Sudan has expelled extremists, putting them into the hands of Arab intelligence agencies working closely with the CIA. • The regime is credited with foiling attacks against American targets by, among other things, detaining foreign militants moving through Sudan on their way to join forces with Iraqi insurgents. Sudan has "given us specific information that is … important, functional and current," said a senior State Department official who agreed to discuss intelligence matters on condition of anonymity. The official acknowledged that the Mukhabarat could become a "top tier" partner of the CIA. "Their competence level as a service is very high," the official said. "You can't survive in that part of the world without a good intelligence service, and they are in a position to provide significant help." From Khartoum the view is markedly upbeat. "American intelligence considers us to be a friend," said Maj. Gen. Yahia Hussein Babiker, a senior official in Sudan's government. During an interview at the presidential palace, Babiker said Sudan had achieved "a complete normalization of our relations with the CIA." Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Salah Abdallah Gosh, who otherwise declined comment for this article, told The Times: "We have a strong partnership with the CIA. The information we have provided has been very useful to the United States." The paradox of a U.S.-Sudanese intelligence partnership is personified by Gosh. Members of Congress accused him and other senior Sudanese officials of directing military attacks against civilians in Darfur. During the 1990s, the Mukhabarat assigned Gosh to be its Al Qaeda minder. In that role he had regular contacts with Bin Laden, a former Mukhabarat official confirmed. Today, Gosh is keeping in contact with the office of CIA Director Porter J. Goss and senior agency officials. In exchange for the collaboration, which has been largely unpublicized, Khartoum wants to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. It is also pressing Washington to lift long-standing economic sanctions barring most trade between the two countries. "There can be a strong [intelligence] partnership, but there is some hesitation because the diplomatic relationship remains poor," said Gutbi al-Mahdi, a former head of the Mukhabarat and currently senior presidential advisor for political affairs. Babiker, a former deputy director of the Mukhabarat, said the CIA was seeking to smooth the broader political relationship between the Bush administration and the Bashir regime. The cooperation is politically delicate for both sides. Bashir's government faces strong internal opposition — including critics within the regime itself — to cooperating with the U.S. Responding to an uproar over rumors of collaboration with the administration in late 2001, Bashir told a Khartoum news conference, "I swear in God's name that we have not handed and will not hand in any [terrorism suspects] to the United States." Official acknowledgment of the relationship by Washington could also create a political backlash in the U.S. Sudan's government has been accused of large-scale human rights violations, and the administration has been one of its leading global critics. In Congress, allies of human rights advocates share strong anti-Sudanese sentiment with supporters of conservative Christian groups that have been sympathetic to Christian and animist rebels in southern Sudan, where a peace deal has taken hold. Concern that the White House might soften its policy toward Sudan on the Darfur issue to encourage intelligence assistance was raised in an October report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. It said Gosh and other Sudanese officials had played "key roles in directing … attacks against civilians" and noted that the administration was "concerned that going after these individuals could disrupt cooperation on counter-terrorism." The administration denies that it is retreating in any way. A senior administration official called intelligence-sharing one of "the building blocks" of U.S.-Sudanese relations but said "it wouldn't matter unless there was progress in other areas," including human rights. "We began mobilizing and leading international pressure on Khartoum ever since the dimensions of the Darfur situation became clear, and we have continued to do so ever since," the official said. -The CIA jet waiting on the tarmac here last week opened its doors to a stocky, cherub-faced man with a thin mustache and a smoldering cigarette. It was spy chief Gosh, and when he boarded, it was only the latest step in Sudan's secret effort to improve relations with the U.S. — using its historic ties with extremists to benefit counter-terrorism operations. . Sudan became a haven for Islamic radicals after the 1989 military coup that brought Bashir to power. He promptly declared that any Muslim could enter the country without a passport. Khartoum had become a "Holiday Inn for terrorists," Barbara Bodine, a State Department official in the Clinton administration, said later. Visitors to Khartoum during the period included members of the hard-line Abu Nidal faction that had broken with the Palestine Liberation Organization, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Islamist guerrillas fighting governments in neighboring African states. Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos the Jackal, lived in relative luxury in Khartoum during the early 1990s. Regulars at local hotels said he took breakfasts of coffee and croissants at the Meridien and had his hair styled at the Hilton. The Mukhabarat expelled Carlos in 1994, handing him to French authorities, reportedly while the terrorist was under an anesthetic for a vasectomy reversal operation. Bin Laden moved his business and operations base to Khartoum in 1991 due to increasing conflict with Saudi Arabia, which revoked his citizenship three years later. His construction company built roads around the Sudanese capital. Al Qaeda expanded ties and offered financial support to a variety of radical Islamic groups. As a Mukhabarat officer, Gosh began serving as an intermediary between the intelligence agency and Bin Laden's fledgling Al Qaeda network. Jack Cloonan, a former FBI agent involved in tracking Bin Laden, said Sudanese members of Al Qaeda later told the bureau about Gosh's contacts with the Saudi-born terrorist. "We remained wary of him … for obvious reasons, but we never had any prima facie evidence linking Gosh to any Al Qaeda [activities]," Cloonan said in an interview Maj. Gen. Elfatih Mohammed Ahmed Erwa, now Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations and formerly a senior Mukhabarat officer, said that Gosh at the time held the rank of colonel in the spy service and was not a decision-maker. "He was charged with keeping an eye on those people," he said. "He was monitoring their contacts, not discussing politics with them or facilitating their activities." By 1993, the Clinton administration had listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, citing the country's "disturbing relationship with a wide range of Islamic extremists." It said Sudan's support of terrorists "included paramilitary training, indoctrination, money, travel documentation, safe passage and refuge." In late 1995, the U.S. shut down its CIA station in Khartoum and, in February 1996, withdrew its ambassador. Sudanese officials said their government, alarmed by the frayed ties, tried repeatedly without success to regain favor by turning over Bin Laden to either the Saudis or the U.S. Even after Sudan forced Bin Laden to move operations to Afghanistan in 1996, the regime continued to make overtures to the White House and the FBI. In letters reviewed by The Times, Sudan offered cooperation on counter-terrorism efforts. The Clinton administration accepted an invitation by Sudan to send a CIA-FBI counter-terrorism team to Khartoum in mid-2000, but otherwise the Bashir regime's overtures were rejected — even when, Cloonan said, it offered to turn over two suspects in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa. Tim Carney, the last ambassador to Sudan, said the stated goal of American policy was to win cooperation from the Bashir regime, but he believed that the "real agenda" was to bring on the regime's collapse. "That's largely why there was no effort whatsoever to respond to Sudan's initiatives," he said. Others were skeptical of Sudan's intent. John Prendergast, who served at the National Security Council during Clinton's second term, said Bashir's regime remained committed to a radical Islamist project. "Their promises of cooperation were totally opportunistic and were designed to get sanctions removed," he said. The newly installed Bush administration took steps early in 2001 to improve relations with Khartoum, Sudanese and American officials said. In July, Walter Kansteiner, then assistant secretary of State for African affairs, met secretly in Kenya with Sudan's foreign minister. Another clandestine meeting followed in London, attended by Babiker, then Sudan's deputy intelligence chief. The meetings explored possible cooperation on terrorism issues. But there was little progress until the Sept. 11 attacks that year on the United States, which Sudan condemned. In late September, Kansteiner and the CIA's Africa division chief held discussions with Babiker at the U.S. Embassy in London. A deal was struck. Days later, the Bush administration abstained on a vote at the United Nations, with the result that Sudan was freed from international sanctions imposed for its alleged role in efforts to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995. At roughly the same time, the Sudanese turned over to the U.S. a stack of intelligence files several inches thick. They contained the cream of the information collected on members of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups during their years in Khartoum and thereafter. The intelligence partnership had begun in earnest. By November 2001, the CIA had an active station in Khartoum, according to multiple sources. Among other programs, the agency was running surveillance on suspected foreign extremists with the knowledge and assistance of the Mukhabarat. Material obtained by Sudanese intelligence was turned over to U.S. investigators by Babiker, said former FBI agent Cloonan — including counterfeit visa stamps and blank passports from Arab countries seized in a raid on a terrorism suspect's home. Cloonan and several FBI colleagues arrived in Sudan that month to interrogate several longtime Al Qaeda members residing in Khartoum. The interviews were conducted at safe houses arranged by Sudanese intelligence. The Mukhabarat brought the suspects to the FBI. Among those Cloonan questioned were Mohammed Bayazid, a Syrian American whose alleged ties to Bin Laden dated to the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan after Moscow's 1979 invasion. Bayazid allegedly sought to obtain uranium for Al Qaeda. Another person interrogated was Mubarak Douri, an Iraqi who was regarded as part of Bin Laden's business infrastructure. Cloonan said Douri and a second Iraqi laughed when he pressed them about possible Bin Laden ties to Saddam Hussein's regime. "They said Bin Laden hated Saddam," the retired FBI investigator recalled. Bin Laden considered Hussein "a Scotch-drinking, woman-chasing apostate," the Iraqis told the former federal agent. The Mukhabarat also allowed the FBI to interview the manager at Al Shamal Bank, where Bin Laden held multiple business accounts while living in Sudan, Cloonan said. Those records were made available to U.S. investigators as well. "Until then, the Sudanese had a credibility problem with the U.S., but they gave us everything we asked for," Cloonan said. Robert Oakley, a retired diplomat who served as special assistant to former Sen. John C. Danforth (R-Mo.), the Bush administration's special presidential envoy to Sudan at the time, said intelligence cooperation had a positive influence on overall ties between Washington and Khartoum. "Our relationship with their Foreign Ministry was fragile," he said. "The only established relationship we had was through the intelligence channel because we had our people working directly with them." Collaboration with Sudan has steadily deepened since then. Prendergast, the former National Security Council official, said the Sudanese have provided information to U.S. intelligence about extremist suspects. "They are valuable on these connections because they were deep in it," he said. "They know aliases, business backgrounds, banking information and other data." At the request of American agencies, the Mukhabarat has continued to detain suspected extremists, some of whom have been interrogated by the FBI and CIA. "Some were implicated in [terrorist] activities," Babiker said. "Others had a chance to talk and cleared themselves." A U.S. source familiar with Sudan's cooperation said, "They've not only told us who the bad guys were, they've gone out and gotten them for us. Hell, we can't get the French to do that." Sudanese and American sources confirmed that the Bashir government has turned over terrorist suspects to other Arab security services, including agencies in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Libya, another country long at odds with the U.S. that has been cooperating on counter-terrorism. One of those expelled to the Saudi kingdom was a Sudanese national named Abu Huzifa, a suspected Al Qaeda operative who reportedly admitted taking part in a failed 2002 plot to shoot down an American military plane in Saudi Arabia with a surface-to-air missile. He was sentenced by the Saudis to prison for committing "terrorist acts against vital installations in the kingdom." Sudan also has initiated an internal crackdown on suspected extremists, and it is closely monitoring foreigners moving through the country. "If they detect someone coming in that we might be concerned about, they let us know," the senior State Department official said. In May 2003, security forces raided a suspected terrorist training camp in Sudan. They arrested more than a dozen people — mostly Saudis, who were expelled to the kingdom. Four months later, a Sudanese court convicted three men accused of training foreign radicals to conduct attacks in Iraq, Eritrea and Israel, a State Department report said. Beyond its cooperation since 9/11, Sudan's intelligence service presents an opportunity to gather information on suspected extremist groups in countries where U.S. agents are unable to operate effectively. Middle Eastern and Muslim intelligence agencies such as the Mukhabarat can "get firsthand information while we get 10th-hand information," said Lee S. Wolosky, a former National Security Council staffer in the Clinton and Bush administrations. Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail acknowledged in an interview that the Mukhabarat already has served as the eyes and ears of the CIA in Somalia, a sanctuary for Islamic militants. Late last year, a senior Mukhabarat official met in Washington with the CIA's counter-terrorism center to discuss Iraq, according to sources familiar with the talks. . Though the Bashir regime vocally opposed the American invasion of Iraq, it never had close ties with Hussein's regime, which repressed religious parties and movements. But in 2003, as the U.S. invasion of Iraq neared, Hussein sympathizers recruited local and foreign jihadists to fight American troops, sending small numbers to Baghdad. The Mukhabarat monitored and rolled up the pro-Hussein network. Those efforts also "led to the discovery of cells in other countries that were active and planning to target U.S. interests," Babiker said. Sudan's extensive cooperation with the U.S. has been noted in the State Department's annual reports on terrorism. The latest report said Sudan's assistance had "produced significant progress in combating terrorist activity." A senior U.S. government official familiar with terrorist threats in the region said Khartoum was not at present a state sponsor of terrorism. "These are not all nice guys, but they have gone way past a passing grade on counter-terrorism cooperation and don't technically belong on the list," he said. "The reason they are still there is Darfur, which is not related to state-sponsored terrorism but makes lifting sanctions now politically impossible." The State Department list also includes Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea and Syria. In March, the U.S. successfully pushed for a U.N. resolution imposing sanctions on Sudanese officials implicated in Darfur atrocities. The Bashir government rejects charges of genocide in Darfur and denies that senior officials such as Gosh have ordered attacks on civilians, which it blames on rogue army elements and militias that it says largely operate beyond its control. In late March, Sudan announced that it had arrested and charged 15 members of its military and security forces with war crimes. Former assistant secretary of State Kansteiner said Sudan's collaboration with the CIA did not win it a free pass from the Bush administration. "We always made clear that the relationship was not just about counter-terrorism, but also about the peace process with the south and human rights in general," he said. But critics are impatient for a stronger response on Darfur. "We have not taken adequate measures given the enormity of the crimes because we don't want to directly confront Sudan [on Darfur] when it is cooperating on terrorism," said Prendergast, the former National Security Council staffer. Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a letter to the Bashir government calling for steps to end the conflict in Darfur. But the letter, reviewed by The Times, also congratulated Sudan for increased cooperation with an African Union mission to Darfur. It also said the administration hoped to establish a "fruitful relationship" with Sudan and looked forward to continued "close cooperation" on terrorism.
IRIN 29 Apr 2005 First blue berets arrive [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] NAIROBI, 29 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - The arrival of 12 Nepalese soldiers in the central Sudanese city of El-Obeid this week signalled the start of the deployment of UN peacekeepers across the country to monitor the ceasefire agreement and stabilise the southern region, a UN spokesperson said. "The first six troops arrived last Monday and another six came on Wednesday, together with their equipment," George Somerwill, deputy spokesperson for the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), told IRIN on Friday. "They are drivers and logistical support personnel, not military observers," he said, noting that they would eventually move to the eastern Sudanese town of Kassala. "Other Nepalese troops landed this morning [Friday], and we expect more to arrive over the following days," he added. According to Somerwill, India, Egypt, and Zambia were among the countries that had pledged to contribute substantial contingents of soldiers and military observers. The UN Security Council on March 24 unanimously approved the deployment of 10,000 troops and more than 700 civilian police to southern Sudan for an initial period of six months to support the 9 January Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). The agreement ended two decades of civil war in the south. The council provided UNMIS with the mandate to monitor and verify the ceasefire agreement, help set up a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme for former combatants and promote national reconciliation and human rights. The UN military deployment plan had been finalised, the UNMIS spokesperson noted, "but it is all quite fluid still". "I’m not aware of any other scheduled deployments in the immediate future," Somerwill added. General Fazle Elahi Akbar, the Bangladeshi UN force commander, visited the main southern cities of Malakal, Wau and Juba on 21 and 22 April to assess the ground preparations for the deployment. Meanwhile, on Monday, the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) reportedly ambushed and killed nine people near Juba in southern Sudan. "A civilian convoy which was going to Torit from Juba was ambushed by LRA elements and they managed to kill about seven civilians and two soldiers two days back," Joseph Duer, a minister in the regional southern government was quoted by Reuters News Agency as saying on Wednesday. A senior Sudanese military official who declined to be named said the news had not yet reached the army headquarters in Khartoum. "Many, many attacks on military and civilian vehicles happen on the road from Juba to Torit," the official told IRIN on Thursday. "The LRA has a base east of Torit, in the Imatong Hills. That’s where these attacks are coming from," he added. The Uganda army spokesman, Maj Shaban Bantariza, told IRIN on Thursday that he had heard reports from leaders in the north but had been unable to verify the ambush from his own sources. On 21 April, about 15 LRA fighters attacked the town of Nimule on the Ugandan border but were repelled by SPLM/A forces. Two civilians and one SPLM/A soldier were reportedly killed in the attack. According to a UN report published on Tuesday, an SPLM/A delegation met with top leadership of the Equatoria military area on 14 April in Juba to explore ways in which to fight the LRA jointly. According to the report, an agreement had been reached between the government forces and the SPLM/A to conduct joint operations against the LRA until they were pushed across the border into Uganda. The LRA has waged a 19-year war against the government of President Yoweri Museveni and is known for targeting and mutilating civilians. More than 20,000 children have been abducted to serve as fighters, porters and sex slaves during that time.
washingtonpost.com 3 May 2005 Sudan's Unbowed, Unbroken Inner Circle Tight Web of Savvy Leaders Withstands International Criticism By Emily Wax Washington Post Foreign Service Tuesday, May 3, 2005; A01 KHARTOUM, Sudan -- The men who control Africa's largest country -- the key architects of the conflict in Darfur -- hail from two tiny, interwoven Arab tribes. Many of them grew up together and graduated from Khartoum University. They often sit together in cafés beside the Nile, bickering about politics and religion over endless cups of sweet tea. They attend the weddings of one another's sons and daughters, who frequently marry within the two tribes. They are neighbors and rivals, nephews and cousins. Politics in Sudan is often a family affair, and as in any family, there are occasional feuds. For instance, Hassan Turabi, a college professor and radical Islamic cleric, led a military coup in 1989 against his brother-in-law Sadiq Madhi, the country's popularly elected leader. The main backers of the coup were Turabi's protégés, Omar Hassan Bashir and Ali Uthman Muhammad Taha, now Sudan's president and vice president. Yet not long before that, Madhi had presided over the wedding ceremony of Taha and his bride, Turabi's cousin. "In Sudan we say, 'You meet your enemies at weddings,' " said Turabi's son Issam, 39, whose father has been jailed or under house arrest for nearly five years after a bitter falling-out with Bashir and Taha. "All of politics in Khartoum is a bunch of warring families trying to stay in power over one another." This is Sudan's ruling elite: shadowy and insular, cliquish and fractious. It's an unusual arrangement for a continent more accustomed to the rule of patriarchal Big Men, such as Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Zaire's Mobutu Sese Seko, with a single personality dominating the national psyche. Despite their tendency to feud, the ministers and security officials in Sudan's inner circle form a tight web of power that combines tribal, religious and military elements. Its formal name is the National Islamic Front, but it is known in Khartoum as the "security cabal." The cohesion of this club has enabled the government to weather the chill of world condemnation for years -- first in the 1990s for harboring terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and waging a protracted war against African rebels in the south, and now for carrying out a second armed campaign in the western region of Darfur. Even though both the Bush administration and the United Nations have spoken out on the situation in Darfur, with U.S. officials even terming it a case of genocide, the Khartoum government has remained entrenched. And Taha, the man widely viewed as the chief architect of Darfur's war, has now repackaged himself as the voice of reconciliation, heading peace talks with its rebel groups. "When this government first came, they had their own project" to build an Islamic state, said Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh, editor of Al Ayam, an independent newspaper here. "But eventually it became survival politics -- to remain in power at any cost. "If that means dropping an Islamic agenda and kicking out bin Laden, then fine," he said. "If that means making peace in the south, then fine. If that means reversing themselves on Darfur publicly, then fine. As long as they stay in power, they are willing to appease the international community and do just enough to maintain control." A New Power Rises During the 1960s, Sudan's Muslim Brotherhood was born on the campus of Khartoum University, once one of Africa's most prestigious schools. The charismatic, urbane Turabi taught law there, wearing neckties as comfortably as turbans, sliding easily between Arabic and English, and courting Western visitors with warm hospitality. Yet Turabi was also a religious leader who inculcated his students with a mission that included spreading the Arabization of Africa and spearheading the rise of Islam as a form of government in secular states. In 1985, the Muslim Brotherhood was renamed the National Islamic Front, and in 1989 it seized power. After the coup, Turabi was widely considered the force behind the throne, while the popular Bashir ruled as president and Taha, an astute intellectual and former judge, acted as chief aide to Turabi, his spiritual mentor. Taha and a group of senior ministers formed the mainstay of what officials call Sudan's Islamic revolution. They installed strict Islamic law, or sharia , and launched a campaign to convert the Christian and animist populace of the Nuba mountains to Islam, according to reports by U.N. officials and human rights monitoring groups. Under Turabi's leadership, Sudan offered residency to any Arab or Muslim. This policy allowed bin Laden to take up residence in Khartoum, along with Imad Mughniyah, the man believed to be responsible for the 1983 suicide bombing in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. Marines, and Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the Venezuelan drug lord known as "Carlos the Jackal," who converted to Islam and pledged allegiance to bin Laden. As a result of such actions, the United States in 1993 designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. Under pressure from Washington and Saudi Arabia, however, the Khartoum government kicked out bin Laden in 1996. Meanwhile, Sudanese authorities handed over Sanchez to French agents. He was flown to Paris for trial. Mughniyah left Sudan and narrowly escaped arrest by U.S. officials in Saudi Arabia. Still ostracized by the West and unable to tap into U.S. oil markets, the Khartoum government began fostering ties with China. Once oil production began in 1999, the government began collecting $500 million a year in revenue. This paid for Chinese-made tanks, guns and planes used to fight southern rebels, the group Human Rights Watch reported. Khartoum's military budget doubled, and the State Department described it as the richest government in Africa. Meanwhile, Turabi had a bitter falling-out with Bashir and Taha and left the government in 1999. Since then, Bashir and Taha have operated as a two-man team. Bashir, 61, a popular army officer, is said to focus his attention on the military. He still lives at army headquarters and recently assumed the title of field marshal. During the conflict between the north and south, he married the widow of an officer who died in combat. Taha, four years younger and more polished, is described by diplomats and other observers as the man who runs the country from day to day. He and Bashir speak daily. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and the Pentagon, the Bashir-Taha government agreed to cooperate with the U.S. war on terrorism. Officials handed over documents on terrorism suspects, loosened sharia and distanced themselves from Turabi's Islamic agenda. The government also supported U.S.-backed peace talks with the southern rebels, and both signed a historic power-sharing deal earlier this year. Recently Sudan's national security chief, Salah Abdala Gosh, visited Washington as a guest of the Bush administration as part of an anti-terrorism program. Gosh is one of the officials said to be directly involved in the military campaign in Darfur. "The current government is now a very pragmatic police state," said Ghazi Suleiman, a human rights lawyer here. "Taha is extremely smart, and also . . . extremely Machiavellian. Nothing sticks." Crisis in Darfur Sudan's government was just emerging from international isolation when a rebellion broke out in Darfur in early 2003. Two guerrilla groups charged the government and its Arab clique with neglecting and ostracizing African tribes from power. This ethnic issue was related to an economic one: the long-standing problem of Arab herders taking over traditional African grazing lands. Without warning, rebels attacked the El Fasher airport and several military posts with a fury that shocked Khartoum. At the time, Taha was in Kenya, engrossed in the final weeks of peace negotiations with the southern rebels. But with Bashir's army weakened and Taha in charge of national security, the vice president quickly assumed a key role, according to a State Department report. In an interview recently, Taha, a slim man who wears crisp safari suits and loafers, said he began receiving desperate phone calls from top officials, including Bashir, about how to combat the insurgency erupting in Darfur. He said he decided to drop out of the peace talks in Kenya so he could direct a military campaign at home. "I launched my vision of how the situation could be best handled," he said in his office in the National Palace, its entrance arched by a pair of giant elephant tusks and guarded by two five-barreled machine guns. Taha said the government had no choice but to use force, arming local Popular Defense Forces and army reserves, to push back the rebels. But the United Nations and human rights groups also reported that the government bombed hundreds of villages and armed and financed Arab militias, known as Janjaweed, which then raided and burned many villages, driving nearly 2 million tribespeople, mostly Africans, off their land. At the time, the government denied there were serious problems and shrugged off international criticism. Recently, however, Taha has taken on a more measured and conciliatory tone. "Nobody would say we've been perfect in handling Darfur," he said in the interview. "In war, things happen that are outside of the normal. . . . In such a complex situation, there would be gaps and shortcomings. One wishes that this chapter in Sudan's history had not taken place." Diplomats and other analysts said Taha's emerging role as statesman has demonstrated once more how practiced the Khartoum government is at survival. Another strength, they said, is its ability to tap into the tight circle of talented loyalists during a crisis. "No one expected this government to stay in power for more than a year," said Gill Lusk, a senior analyst with Africa Confidential, a research group based in London. "They are extremely politically savvy. Their strategies worked very well at the start of Darfur. Taha runs a tight team, all with talents he understands well how to use." For example, the government often sends out Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail to meet foreign officials and conduct tours with the news media. Ismail is known to foreign diplomats and aid workers as "Mr. Smile" for his ability to make dire situations sound just fine. Last fall, when Jan Pronk, the U.N. special envoy to Sudan, visited Darfur, Ismail strode with him through a burned camp, which film footage showed had been destroyed by government soldiers. Ismail, standing amid the charred rubble, turned to Pronk and asked, "So where's the evidence?" Around that time, the government also declared that a coup had been launched, a claim largely viewed by diplomats as political theater. Officials held news conferences warning that if the United Nations imposed sanctions on Sudan, it could end up in chaos, becoming a failed state and even a threat to the war on terrorism. "Taha has perfected the art of divide and confuse," said John Prendergast, an analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group. "He became the peacemaker in the south while he was the orchestrator of the counterinsurgency strategy in Darfur. Now he has attempted to make himself indispensable to the West on the peace process and counterterrorism." Supporters of the government assert it has evolved with the needs of the country and is not to blame for defending itself in Darfur. But other observers say Sudanese officials have consistently outwitted international leaders while crushing political dissent at home. It was the Bashir-Taha government that "introduced torture, executions and deliberate targeting of civilians to stay in power and achieve its military objectives," said analyst Ted Dagne of the Congressional Research Service, speaking from Washington. "They are a political class that is here to stay."
BBC 9 May 2005 Picture power: Misery in Darfur British photographer Marcus Bleasdale describes how he came to take a picture of a child refugee in southern Sudan which became Unicef's photo of the year for 2004. The picture we are talking about is an image I took in the middle of 2004 in Darfur, in a very small village called Dissa. It's an image which depicts a depressed, shoulders-down figure of a child in a cluster of what remains of her family. The very weather-beaten arm of her mother goes over her left shoulder and there are the very small weather-beaten hands of the child, who is about five or six, clinging on to this one piece of security that she has, which is the weather-beaten hand of her mother. The mother is not in the image, she's in the background. But then slightly further in the background you see the other hands of her brothers and sisters as they wait in this village. And the main part of the image you are drawn to is this single tear that's coming down. It sums everything that was horrendous and still is horrendous about the conflict in Darfur. The story behind how I arrived at this spot where the girl was waiting is kind of a complicated one. Dust storm I had arrived in Chad, which is the neighbouring country to Sudan and the closest border to Darfur, and smuggled myself across the border. In depth: Sudan conflict I joined up with a group of Sudanese Liberation Army rebels and travelled with them for about a month. This particular village where the image was taken, we stumbled across as we were driving through the desert. I was immediately drawn by this huge tree that I saw, with maybe 200 or 300 people sheltering under it. It was the first sign of a populated village, of life, in Sudan that I had seen in a few days, apart from rebels and, of course, the Khartoum (government) planes flying above. And there was this huge tree where all of these people were sheltering underneath and a dust storm going on at the same time. Marcus Bleasdale I screamed at the drivers to stop and I jumped off and initially took a picture of just the tree and the people sheltering underneath it. I walked slowly up to the tree and found almost immediately that it was just women and children - there were no men apart from maybe a village elder who was 80 or 90 years old. And they were all huddled underneath this tree wearing weather-beaten clothes and carrying very little food. Exhaustion And then I saw the family and I saw this child. At the time I saw the image, she had her head rested on her mothers lap, sleeping almost, exhausted probably from lack of food. I approached slowly and showed both the child and the family and the mother my camera, in a questioning motion, in a way to ask if it would be possible to take an image. And the lady just slowly, exhaustedly, just nodded her head. I have maybe three frames of the image. In one, the child is looking directly at me. In (the published) image she is looking... just exhausted, looking out to the left-hand side of the frame, just tired, just in need of someone to pick her up and take her to somewhere she's going to be safe. When I saw it through the viewfinder it was... maybe it's a cliche, but I think every photographer knows when they take an image that they feel is going to be powerful, and I certainly felt that when I was taking this one. Marcus Bleasdale gave this account to the BBC World Service programme, The World Today.
Tanzania - ICTR
BBC 28 Apr 2005 Official gets life for genocide Some 800,000 people were killed during the 1994 genocide A former Rwandan town councillor has been sentenced to life in prison by a United Nations tribunal for his part in the 1994 genocide. Mika Muhimana had shot dead Tutsi men, raped almost 30 women and encouraged others to rape in the town of Gishyita, said Judge Khalida Rashid Khan. Tribunal officials say he was convicted of more rapes than any other genocide suspect, reports the AFP news agency. Some 800,000 people, Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in 100 days. "Instead of using his influential position to promote peace and reconciliation, he actively participated in the atrocities," said the judge, as 44-year-old Muhimana listened attentively. He denied the charges but his lawyers have not said whether he will appeal. He become the 22nd person to be convicted of genocide by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, based in Arusha, Tanzania, set up to try the alleged ringleaders. Another 41 are either on trial or awaiting the start of their cases.
Reuters 14 May 2005 Togo rights group says 800 died in election unrest By John Zodzi LOME (Reuters) - A human rights group in Togo said on Friday around 800 people were killed in unrest surrounding last month's disputed presidential election, although medical and diplomatic sources said the figure seemed exaggerated. "Before, during and after the polls in Togo human rights were violated, human dignity was not respected, and it's the authorities who are responsible," Eklou Clumson, vice president of Togo's Human Rights League (LTDH), told a news conference. State radio said President Faure Gnassingbe, whose victory in the April 24 vote sparked days of protest by opposition youths and heavy-handed repression by the security forces, planned to set up an independent inquiry into the violence. Togo slipped into chaos after Gnassingbe Eyadema, the archetypal African strongman who brooked little opposition during nearly four decades in power, died on February 5. Gnassingbe, 39, was named president just hours later by the army, who said it feared a dangerous political vacuum, but international outrage and violent protests eventually drove him to step down and call elections. The final results gave Gnassingbe, who has offered to form a unity government with the opposition, just over 60 percent of the vote, against 38 percent for the main opposition candidate. The opposition said on Friday it would only consider joining a government under Gnassingbe if the victims of violence were compensated, disputed ballots were investigated and talks monitored by the international community were held to work out how a transition period could be managed. "Only if these conditions are met can we subscribe to the idea of the formation of a government of national unity," opposition coalition leader Yawovi Agboyibo told reporters. DISPUTED DEATH TOLL He said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who chairs the African Union, had invited the opposition to a summit in Abuja next Thursday to discuss the crisis. The ruling RPT party said it had also been invited to the meeting. The LTDH said in an 11-page report that 811 people had been killed since Eyadema's death, 790 of them during the election period, and many others had been raped during days of fighting in the capital Lome and other areas of the West African country. It said more than 4,500 people had been injured. "It's an overestimation. Eight hundred dead in one community would be very visible," said one independent medical source in Lome, declining to speculate on the true figure. Western diplomats have said they believe between 100 and 150 people were killed in towns around Togo as opposition supporters demonstrated against what they said was a rigged election. A spokesman for the main opposition coalition on Friday put the death toll at around 300, but said information on casualties was still coming in from towns outside Lome. The United Nations has said over 23,000 people fled the country for neighbouring Benin and Ghana after the election results were announced, although it said on Tuesday that the exodus had slowed to a trickle.
IRIN 13 May 20005 Human Rights group Says 790 Killed in Election Violence Lome The Togolese League of Human Rights said on Friday that 790 people had been killed and 4,345 hurt in political violence triggered by the recent election of Faure Gnassingbe to succeed his father as president of the West African nation. "The international community must hold an inquiry given the scale of the human rights violations," Ayayi Apedo-Amah, the secretary-general of the organisation, told IRIN. Photos released by the group showed corpses of young men who had been disembowelled or had their faces hacked to bits with machetes. Other survivors were pictured, their faces bleeding after being attacked with nail-spiked clubs. Government officials were not immediately available to comment on the reported death toll, which was much higher than the figure of about 100 previously estimated by diplomats. But on Thursday Gnassingbe ordered a national commission of inquiry into the violence that erupted after the disputed 24 April presidential election. "The national inquiry commission's results will be made public within three months," said a statement posted on the government's website. The six-party opposition coalition that fielded Emmanuel Bob-Akitani as its candidate in the presidential election said at it was opening a hotline for victims of political repression. "In the memory of the Togolese there have never been so many deaths for political reasons," Patrick Lawson, one of the coalition leaders, told a press conference to announce the move. The casualty toll released by the Human Rights League in what it described as "a preliminary report" was based on reports from hospitals, the morgue, witnesses and complaints filed by relatives, Apedo-Amah told IRIN. The report said it aimed to present "an initial glimpse of acts of violence organised by the Togolese Armed Forces (FAT), the (paramilitary) gendarmerie and the national police, backed by militias working for the RPT (the ruling Rally for the Togolese People party) regime." The figures cover the period from 28 March, when the authorities began updating the electoral register, until 5 May, the day after Gnassingbe was officially sworn in to replace his father Gnassingbe Eyadema, who ruled Togo for 38 years until his death on 5 February. Previously, diplomats had estimated that around 100 people died and 2,000 were injured in street fighting that erupted on 26 April. That was the day when Gnassingbe was declared winner of the election, despite opposition claims that the poll had been rigged. Calm returned to the country within days after security forces stepped in to clear the streets of barricades and protesters. But around 24,000 people have fled into neighbouring Benin and Ghana in fear of more repression, particularly from southern towns and districts of the capital known to be favourable to the opposition. Many of the refugees have reported incidents of police and soldiers firing at civilians. Aid workers have reported seeing many bullet wounds. Asked whether the human rights group had been surprised by the high death toll it had compiled, Apedo-Amah said: "We are surprised. What is going on here is a day-by-day drama. We are worried." He told IRIN that opposition supporters, particularly youngsters, were still being intimidated by the security forces, as were known members of the opposition. Only this week, he said, police had fired into a school classroom at Agbodrafo, 35 km from Lome, and detained two pupils. "People are living in fear," the human rights campaigner stressed. In a separate development, the European Parliament on Thursday passed a resolution condemning "the brutal repression perpetrated by the police against the people" in Togo and demanded an inquiry. It also slammed the elections, saying they "do not comply with the conditions laid down as a precondition for the resumption of cooperation between Togo and the European Union." Both France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have described the vote as basically fair, while conceding there have been some irregularities. But the United States took a tougher line. The State Department said in a statement last week: "The legitimacy of Togo's presidential elections fell short of the aspirations of the Togolese people and the expectations of Togo's friends in the international community." The EU negotiated a deal with the government of the late president Eyadema in April 2004 in which the Togolese authorities pledged to implement 22 separate commitments in to promote democracy and civil liberties in return for a resumption of EU aid. The EU cut off aid to the former French colony in 1993 because of "democratic deficiencies." A new aid package worth 40 million euros (US $52 million) now lies in the balance. Members of the European Parliament called for a national conference in Togo to find a solution to the country's political crisis and "to envisage new presidential and legislative elections worthy of the name: i.e. democratic, free, fair and transparent, under international supervision and after a consensual review of the code and the electoral rolls." See La Ligue togolaise des droits de l’Homme (LTDH), no website
BBC 6 May 2005 Uganda rebels slaughter refugees Last year, rebels killed 200 refugees near Lira Rebels from Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have killed at least 10 people from a refugee camp in the north, officials say. An army spokesman said the rebels used the tools the refugees were using to work their fields to hack them to death near a camp in Gulu. Those who tried to run away were shot, while another 15 people are in hospital, the spokesman said. Some 1.5m people have fled 17 years of rebel attacks in northern Uganda. Still active The LRA have kidnapped thousands of children, forcing the boys to become fighters and the girls to be sex slaves. The rebels "used machetes, axes and hoes that the people were using to dig in their garden to kill them," said army spokesman Lieutenant Kiconco Tabaro. He said the rebels were trying to show they were still active, even though they had been severely weakened. The BBC's Will Ross in Uganda says recent efforts to bring about peace talks have made progress, with rebels and government ministers meeting face to face for the first time. However, this has not yet produced a total ceasefire. Last year, LRA fighters attacked the Barlonyo refugee camp near Lira, killing about 200 people.
BBC 1 May 2005 Brazilian Indians free policemen The hostage takers oppose the creation of the reservation Amazon Indians in Brazil have freed four police officers they held hostage in protest at the creation of a huge indigenous reservation. They were kidnapped last week by Macuxi tribesmen in the northern state of Roraima, who fear the new reserve will leave them without jobs. The officers' release was secured after the government agreed to improve the Indian's living conditions. The Raposa Serra Do Sol reserve covers 17,000 sq km (6,500 sq miles). Called "the land of the fox and mountain of the sun" by the 12,000 the mainly Macuxi and other tribes who live there, it is the size of a small country. Its creation follows 30 years of campaigns by the Indians, which led to bitter conflicts with settlers and farmers. But a minority of Macuxi fear they would be left jobless once the reservation is established and non-Indian employers, principally rice producers, are forced to leave the area. The policemen were seized on 22 April from a village near the city of Boavista after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva approved the creation of the reserve. The hostage-takers demanded that the president revoke the decree. But they released the officers after accepting a government undertaking to improve living conditions for the tribes in the reserve, including access to schools and electricity. "The police have just been freed and are all well," federal police superintendent Francisco Mallman told news agency AFP.
whitehouse.gov For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary May 12, 2005 Press Briefing by Scott McClellan And finally, on Prime Minister Martin's announcement in Canada today, Prime Minister Martin announced increased support for humanitarian efforts in Darfur. While there's been progress in reducing the suffering and loss of life, the crisis in Darfur continues. We commend Canada for acting to help people in need by offering assistance to the peacekeeping efforts of the African Union. Canada is an important partner in our humanitarian mission around the world. Sudan continues to be a high priority for the United States and we support the efforts of the African Union on their peacekeeping and mediation efforts in Darfur. We also continue to undertake a major humanitarian assistance operation in southern Sudan, Chad and Darfur. And specifically, what Canada announced earlier today was an assistance package of $200 million that would provide equipment such as aircraft and helicopters and basic military equipment for the African Union peacekeeping mission, as well as up to, I think, 60 Canadian forces to support those efforts. And they also are providing additional humanitarian and diplomatic support for the mission in Darfur. And this will enable the African Union to really increase their ability to help protect people in Darfur.
AFP 13 May 2005 Relatives of dead in jet downing demand US extradite Cuban 'bomber' seeking asylum Fri May 13, 1:00 PM ET WASHINGTON (AFP) - Relatives of victims of the 1976 Cubana jet bombing that killed 73 people urged the United States to arrest and extradite fugitive terror suspect Luis Posada Carriles, who has asked for US asylum though he is wanted in Venezuela and Cuba. "This was not a faceless crime. Our whole lives were disrupted. We never really had closure," Trevor Persaud, of Guyana, told reporters, remembering the death of his brother Raymond, who was killed in the bombing as he headed to medical school in Cuba. "He was on the way to accomplish his lifelong dream," Persaud said, adding of Posada Carriles that "this guy deserves to be extradited and tried for his crimes in Venezuela." "My mother is still grieving over what happened," almost 30 years on, another brother, Kenrick Persaud, added. Last month, Cuban-born Posada Carriles -- a naturalized Venezuelan, staunch opponent of Cuban President Fidel Castro and former paid CIA asset -- requested asylum in Miami through his attorney, Eduardo Soto. The US government says it is not aware of Posada Carriles's whereabouts, despite the fact that Soto says he has filed the formal asylum request. Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have railed against US President George W. Bush, arguing his "war on terror" is a farce if the United States gives asylum or protection to Posada Carriles. On Monday, US State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters: "In terms of where he presently is, I think it's fair to say we don't know." "That is a big lie," Chavez countered Wednesday on a visit to Brasilia. Wayne Smith, former top US diplomat in Havana as chief of the US Interests Section from 1979 to 1982 and now senior fellow at the Center for International Policy, said that after the September 11, 2001 attacks, "when we are supposedly in an all-out war on terrorism, how can we harbor Posada Carriles and maintain any credibility?" Smith told reporters "the Bush family has a long history of protecting these guys," referring to Posada Carriles and colleague Orlando Bosch, and maintaining that ex-president George Bush, the current president's father, pardoned Posada Carriles years earlier, allowing him to leave the United States. "They should come clean," Smith said of the current Bush administration. "The only acceptable action is for the United States to expel Luis Posada Carriles. We must not harbor a terrorist." Cuba has sought his extradition in connection with other crimes over the past 40 years, including the 1997 bombings of hotels in Havana, one of which killed Italian tourist Fabio de Celmo. Posada Carriles had admitted to plotting those bombings, according to The New York Times, although he later recanted the admission elsewhere. He denies involvement in the deadly Cubana downing, according to his lawyer. Soto has said Posada Carriles slipped into the United States through Mexico and deserves asylum because of his work with the CIA. The "slip-in" would be a security embarrassment to the United States if true, unless Posada Carriles entered with the knowledge of a US authority.
NYT 9 May 2005 Cuban Exile Could Test U.S. Definition of Terrorist By TIM WEINER MIAMI, May 5 - From the United States through Latin America and the Caribbean, Luis Posada Carriles has spent 45 years fighting a violent, losing battle to overthrow Fidel Castro. Now he may have nowhere to hide but here. Mr. Posada, a Cuban exile, has long been a symbol for the armed anti-Castro movement in the United States. He remains a prime suspect in the bombing of a Cuban commercial airliner that killed 73 people in 1976. He has admitted to plotting attacks that damaged tourist spots in Havana and killed an Italian visitor there in 1997. He was convicted in Panama in a 2000 bomb plot against Mr. Castro. He is no longer welcome in his old Latin America haunts. Mr. Posada, 77, sneaked back into Florida six weeks ago in an effort to seek political asylum for having served as a cold war soldier on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1960's, his lawyer, Eduardo Soto, said at a news conference last month. But the government of Venezuela wants to extradite and retry him for the Cuban airline bombing. Mr. Posada was involved "up to his eyeballs" in planning the attack, said Carter Cornick, a retired counterterrorism specialist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who investigated Mr. Posada's role in that case. A newly declassified 1976 F.B.I. document places Mr. Posada, who had been a senior Venezuelan intelligence officer, at two meetings where the bombing was planned. As "the author or accomplice of homicide," Venezuela's Supreme Court said Tuesday, "he must be extradited and judged." The United States government has no plan yet in place for handling the extradition request, according to spokesmen for several agencies. Roger F. Noriega, the top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs, said he did not even know whether Mr. Posada was in the country. In fact, Mr. Posada has not been seen in public, and his lawyer did not return repeated telephone calls seeking to confirm his presence. Mr. Posada's case could create tension between the politics of the global war on terrorism and the ghosts of the cold war on communism. If Mr. Posada has indeed illegally entered the United States, the Bush administration has three choices: granting him asylum; jailing him for illegal entry; or granting Venezuela's request for extradition. A grant of asylum could invite charges that the Bush administration is compromising its principle that no nation should harbor suspected terrorists. But to turn Mr. Posada away could provoke political wrath in the conservative Cuban-American communities of South Florida, deep sources of support and campaign money for President Bush and his brother Jeb, the state's governor. To jail Mr. Posada would be a political bonanza for Mr. Castro, who has railed against him in recent speeches, calling him the worst terrorist in the Western Hemisphere. To allow his extradition would hand a victory to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Mr. Castro's closest ally in Latin America and no friend to President Bush. "As a Cuban, as a freedom fighter myself, I believe he should be granted asylum," said Marcelino Miyares, a veteran of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and president of the Christian Democratic Party of Cuba, which is based in Miami. "But it's a no-win situation for the United States government." Orlando Bosch, the most prominent face of the violent anti-Castro wing in Florida, said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday in Miami that he had spoken by telephone with Mr. Posada, who, "as everybody knows, is here." Mr. Bosch, a longtime ally of Mr. Posada's, presented a similar problem for the United States in 1989, when the Justice Department moved to deport him despite resistance from Miami's Cuban-Americans. The Justice Department called Mr. Bosch "a terrorist, unfettered by laws or human decency, threatening and inflicting violence without regard to the identity of his victims," in the words of Joe D. Whitley, then an associate United States attorney general. Mr. Whitley added: "The United States cannot tolerate the inherent inhumanity of terrorism as a way of settling disputes. Appeasement of those who would use force will only breed more terrorists. We must look on terrorism as a universal evil, even if it is directed toward those with whom we have no political sympathy." The first Bush administration overruled the deportation in 1990; Mr. Bosch remained in Florida. Mr. Whitley, now general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, declined to comment on the Posada case. Mr. Posada is said to be sick with cancer, facing mortality. Some veterans of the Bay of Pigs say the armed struggle he represents is dying, too. "I believe that movement is already dead," Mr. Miyares said. Alfredo Durán, who was captured at the Bay of Pigs and later led a militant anti-Castro group, said that "after 9/11, it has become inexcusable to defend attacks that could kill innocent civilians." "Everybody's renouncing violence except a small group of ultra-hard-core right-wingers," said Mr. Durán, now a lawyer in Miami advocating peaceful change in Cuba. Mr. Durán said that Mr. Posada had never renounced violence and that the question for the United States was whether to denounce him despite his service during the cold war. Mr. Posada served with the C.I.A. from 1961 to 1967, according to declassified United States government records. He was scheduled to land at the Bay of Pigs, the attack on Cuba ordered by the Kennedy administration, but his mission was canceled when the invasion collapsed. He kept in close touch with the agency after leaving it and joining Venezuela's intelligence service, known by its initials as Disip, where he served as a senior officer from 1969 to 1974, according to the declassified records and retired American officials who served in Venezuela. In 1974, after a change in government, Mr. Posada set up a detective agency in the capital, Caracas, an office through which many anti-Castro Cubans passed, according to F.B.I. records. He retained his links to Disip, a militantly anti-Castro agency in those cold war days. Then, amid an international wave of violence by the anti-Castro movement, including the attempted bombing of a New York City concert hall, two attacks shook the United States and Cuba. On Sept. 21, 1976, in the heart of Washington, a car bomb killed a former foreign minister of Chile, Orlando Letelier, and an American aide, Ronni Moffitt; at the time, it was one of the worst acts of foreign terrorism on American soil. Fifteen days later, a Cubana Airlines flight with 73 people on board was blown out of the sky off the coast of Barbados in the worst terrorist attack in Cuban history. Mr. Cornick, the F.B.I. counterterrorism specialist who worked on the Letelier case, said in an interview that both bombings were planned at a June 1976 meeting in Santo Domingo attended by, among others, Mr. Posada. "The Cubana bomb went off, the people were killed, and there were tracks leading right back to Disip," said Mr. Cornick, who is now retired. "The information was so strong that they locked up Posada as a preventative measure - to prevent him from talking or being killed. They knew that he had been involved," said Mr. Cornick, referring to the Venezuelan authorities. "There was no doubt in anyone's mind, including mine, that he was up to his eyeballs" in the Cubana bombing. A November 1976 F.B.I. report, based on the word of a trusted Cuban-American informer, Ricardo Morales, places Mr. Posada at two meetings where the Cubana bombing was plotted. It quotes the informer directly: "If Posada Carriles talks," it says, "the Venezuelan government will 'go down the tube.' " The document was obtained from government files by the National Security Archive, a private research group in Washington. Mr. Posada has always denied that he had a role in the bombing. But he was detained by the Venezuelan government for almost nine years in the case - never formally convicted, never fully acquitted. Finally, in 1985, he escaped his minimum-security confines. He found work in El Salvador as a quartermaster for the contras, the rebels fighting the Nicaraguan government, whose mission was financed by the C.I.A. and Lt. Col. Oliver L. North of the National Security Council. After that covert operation was exposed in 1986, Mr. Posada landed in Guatemala, working as a government intelligence officer. In 1990, he was nearly killed in Guatemala by gunmen who he has said he suspected were sent by Mr. Castro. After a slow recovery, Mr. Posada, by his own admission, ran a string of operatives on a series of missions to blow up Cuban people and places. Mr. Posada spoke to The New York Times seven years ago, boasting of what was then his latest exploit, a string of bombings at Havana's hottest tourist spots that terrorized the city and killed an Italian visitor. Then in November 2000, he traveled to Panama, accompanied by Guillermo Novo, whose conviction in the Letelier bombing had been overturned on appeal; Gaspar Jiménez, convicted of trying to kidnap a Cuban diplomat in Mexico in 1977; and Pedro Remón, convicted of the attempted murder of Cuba's ambassador to the United Nations in 1980. The moment Mr. Castro arrived in Panama for an international conference, he accused Mr. Posada of plotting against his life. Mr. Posada was seized, along with his three colleagues and 33 pounds of the plastic explosive C-4. Despite Mr. Posada's protest that the case was a sting set up by the Cuban spy service, he received an eight-year sentence in April 2004 for endangering public safety. Eight months ago, in her last week in office, President Mireya Moscoso of Panama pardoned the men. She cited humanitarian grounds. Ms. Moscoso, who has long had a home in Key Biscayne, has strong social ties to Cuban conservatives in South Florida, said Mr. Durán, the Bay of Pigs veteran. Her successor, Martín Torrijos, criticized the pardon at his inauguration, saying, "For me, there are not two classes of terrorism, one that is condemned and another that is pardoned." Mr. Posada left Panama City and flew to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, bearing a false American passport, according to President Ricardo Maduro, who publicly denounced him. Mr. Posada left Honduras in a hurry. Mr. Castro said in a recent speech that Mr. Posada then went to the Mexican resort Isla Mujeres and arrived in Florida on a boat owned by a Cuban-American developer in Miami. The Cuban leader offered no proof. If Mr. Posada wants asylum, "there will come a time when he will have to come out of the dark," Mr. Durán said. "At that point, he could be arrested for illegal entry." But in the present political climate, "the only place he's safe is here - even if he's in jail." See LUIS POSADA CARRILES THE DECLASSIFIED RECORD CIA and FBI Documents Detail Career in International Terrorism; Connection to U.S. National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 153 www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB153/
NYT 2 May 2005 Colombia War Spills Into Indians' Peaceful World By JUAN FORERO ACUEYÓ, Colombia, April 28 - The Nasa Indians appear to live well on their lush reservation here in southern Colombia, a swath of mountains and valleys where sweet fruit grows, trout teem in fast-flowing creeks and colorful birds dart about. They live in tidy, well-kept homes, growing coffee, bananas and beans. Emphasizing economic independence, they run a successful fish farm and are trying to strike up a marble mine. The one major threat to their existence is Colombia's unrelenting civil conflict, which has ground on for 41 years. But the Nasa, an Indian nation that numbers about 100,000 in this region, has used a pacific civil resistance campaign to stay out of the drug-fueled war, which pits the army and right-wing paramilitaries against Marxist rebels intent on toppling the state. For four years, the Nasa's stern-faced but unarmed Indigenous Guards - now a force of 7,000 men and women - have simply driven away the fighters who venture into these fog-shrouded mountains in Cauca Province. They confront rebel and soldier alike with ceremonial three-foot batons decorated with tassels in the colors of the Nasa flag, green and red, and persuade the outsiders to leave. Their success has earned the acclaim of the United Nations and the foreign governments that pay for Nasa development programs. The Indians have forced traffickers to close down cocaine-producing labs. They have faced down paramilitary death squads. When the mayor of the Nasa town of Toribio was kidnapped by guerrillas last year, 400 guards marched two weeks over the Andes to the rebel camp where he was being held. They won his release. "We do not want armed groups on our land," said Julio Mesa, 57, the leader of the Indigenous Guards in Tacueyó. "So what we do is we get people together and get them out." But in the last two weeks, brutal fighting has swept into three of the Nasa's eight towns, testing the Indians' pacifism and autonomy. Starting on April 14, the rebels began rocket attacks on Toribio. In nine days of fighting, a 9-year-old boy and several policemen and soldiers were killed. The government took back the town, but rebels pounded another community, Jambaló, with their notoriously inaccurate mortars, propane tanks armed with explosives. Tacueyó was next. On Wednesday, with a Colombian military plane raining down bullets on rebel positions, dozens of young soldiers supported by light tanks and armored vehicles stormed Tacueyó. The rebels responded by firing nearly a dozen of the makeshift mortars. Soldiers answered back with their mounted machine guns from the central square. "What worries me are the sharpshooters," said one baby-faced soldier, Andrés Nova, 24, as he squeezed up against a wall for protection. "They are not that good, but anyone with a rifle is a danger." Shortly after, snipers killed a soldier and wounded two others. Tacueyó's Indians were caught in the middle. When a rebel rocket landed on a house, severely injuring two children, Mr. Mesa and others ran to help. They looked stunned and helpless. Mr. Mesa, 57, and his wife, María, 54, also a member of the guard, had spoken to the rebels early on. "They said, 'We're at war,' " Mr. Mesa recounted. "There was nothing more to say, so I left. But first I told them, 'What you're doing is very bad.' " Across Colombia, dozens of Indian tribes are being hammered by the war. Assassins single out leaders of the Wayuú in northeastern Colombia. In northwestern Choco State, Embera children, whipsawed by war and poverty, have committed suicide. Nationwide, tens of thousands of Indians have become refugees. Some of the smaller tribes, the United Nations recently warned, are on the verge of disappearing. Mr. Mesa and other Nasa leaders are determined to see their nation avoid that fate. The Nasa, also known here as the Páez, were not always peaceful. In the 1980's, they formed a fighting group, Quintin Lame, but the violence only escalated. The Indians changed tactics, and vowed to stay out of the fighting. They focused on building a self-sustaining community held together by an overarching philosophy of self-determination and the right to be left alone. "The government wants to involve us, in their army, in the police, in their informants network," explained Nelson Lemus, an Indian leader. "The guerrillas, they want us to get involved in the revolutionary story, the fight for power." But "getting involved in war," he said, "hurts our culture, our language, our ways." As Mr. Mesa spoke about the Nasa's efforts to keep the peace, a sniper's bullet came close and the Indian leader and other guards hit the ground. "We want to talk, to see if they will listen," Mr. Mesa said, lifting his short, bulky frame off the ground and dusting himself off after the shooting ended. "Sometimes they do listen to us, but lots of time, they do not." For the army, whose commanders met with the Indians throughout the ordeal, there could be no withdrawal, though Col. Juan Trujillo said he understood the Nasa's position. But he said it was the army's job to fight off the rebels. "We are the state here," he said. Still, Mr. Mesa was not about to give up. Last Thursday, he calmly trudged across Tacueyó, wearing a farmer's hat and carrying his trusty baton, and generally oblivious to the shooting around him. What he faced, though, was at times heartbreaking. A 2-week-old girl had died; villagers debated whether the missiles and bullets that had raked the fields near her home were to blame. But not all the news was bad. When townspeople became concerned that light tanks were being positioned too close to where most villagers had escaped, Mr. Mesa was able to get a tank commander to hold off. And when a young man was detained by soldiers, suspected of helping the rebels, Mr. Mesa was able to get the army to turn him over. "You see," Mr. Mesa said, leading him away. "Talking is the best way to resolve things."
BBC 4 May 2005 Colombia arrests two US soldiers The US says its military is helping Colombia combat drug smuggling Colombia has arrested two US soldiers on suspicion of trafficking weapons to right-wing paramilitary groups. Paramilitaries are accused of drug trafficking and mass killings during Colombia's 40-year civil conflict. Officials said the US soldiers were arrested on Tuesday along with several Colombians in an operation south-west of the capital, Bogota. Hundreds of American soldiers are in Colombia to help the Bogota government in their operation against drugs. In March five US troops were arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle cocaine to America in a military aircraft. They are now back on US soil, and it is thought that several are still under investigation. The US embassy in Bogota said it was trying to establish exactly what had happened in the latest incident. One unconfirmed report said more than 30,000 missiles had been seized in Tuesday's raid. Since 2000, the US has been funding an aid package known as Plan Colombia, under which Colombian forces receive training, equipment and intelligence to root out drug traffickers and eliminate coca crops. Colombia is the third biggest recipient of US military aid, after Israel and Egypt.
BBC 9 May 2005 'IRA influence' in Farc attacks By Jeremy McDermott BBC News, Medellin The three Irishmen each received 17 year sentences Recent attacks by Colombia's Marxist rebels display the training of IRA members captured in the country in August 2001, an army chief has said. Gen Carlos Ospina said there was no doubt Revolutionary Armed Forces (Farc) rebels were using IRA techniques in a counter-offensive launched in February. The three Irishmen were convicted of helping train Farc rebels in explosives and terrorist techniques. They are now on the run and thought to have skipped the country. The armed forces chief said the Farc guerrillas were employing new technology in the home-made mortars they had recently used to bomb towns in the south-western province of Cauca. Security forces had seized rebel grenades that were copies of those manufactured by the Provisional IRA, Gen Ospina added. The guerrilla actions have caught the military by surprise. The three Irishmen caught the Colombian police similarly by surprise when they disappeared after their convictions. James Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley vanished while on bail in December awaiting the outcome of an appeal against their 17-year sentences. Their whereabouts remain unknown and an international arrest warrant has been issued for them.
AP 10 May 2005 Haitian Court Overturns Massacre Convictions PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, May 10 -- Haiti's Supreme Court has overturned the convictions of 38 army and paramilitary leaders who were sentenced for their roles in a 1994 massacre, human rights groups said. The men were sentenced in 2000 in connection with a raid on the seaside slum of Raboteau in which several supporters of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide were killed. Most of the defendants were in exile and were tried in absentia. It was not clear how many had been imprisoned. "The trial was annulled. We suppose it was on a technicality," Jean-Claude Bajeux of the Ecumenical Center for Human Rights said Monday. The Supreme Court has yet to make the decision available in its entirety, he said. The slayings in Raboteau were part of a series of attacks that targeted supporters of Aristide in the months before the September 1994 U.S. invasion that restored him to power. Aristide, a charismatic former priest, became Haiti's first democratically elected leader in 1991 but was ousted by the army seven months later. He was reelected president in 2000. Supporters of Aristide, who was ousted from office for a second time after an armed rebellion early last year, reacted with anger. "This shows the current government is partisan, revengeful, hateful and not serious about justice," said Gerard Gilles, a former senator in Aristide's Lavalas party. After Aristide's most recent ouster, a U.S.-backed interim government was installed and a U.N. peacekeeping force was sent to help restore order. During the killings at Raboteau, witnesses said, soldiers and thugs burst into dozens of homes, beating and arresting Aristide supporters. People who tried to flee were shot. It is not clear how many were killed, because soldiers prevented relatives from retrieving the bodies. Witnesses said at least 15 people were killed and that the bodies of other victims were washed out to sea. Brian Concannon, an American lawyer who helped prepare the prosecution's case in the 2000 trial, criticized the ruling. "The Raboteau trial stood for the possibility of justice in Haiti. . . . It was praised as a landmark in the fight against impunity," he said. "The legal case for overturning the verdict was extremely weak." The decision likely opens the way for the release of Louis-Jodel Chamblain, one of Haiti's most feared death squad leaders, who has twice been convicted of murder, once in connection with the 1994 slayings. Last year, Chamblain helped lead the rebellion against Aristide.
Scotsman UK 15 May 2005 Fury as Haiti quashes massacre verdicts REED LINDSAY IN PORT-AU-PRINCE IN A nation where state-sponsored massacres are as common as the impunity granted to their perpetrators, the Raboteau trial shone as a beacon of long-denied justice. In November 2000, a Haitian jury convicted 16 former soldiers and paramilitaries for their participation in a bloody 1994 rampage through a seaside slum called Raboteau that left at least eight people dead. A week later, a court convicted 37 more defendants in absentia. The trial was praised by the United Nations as "a huge step forward" and hailed by international jurists as a milestone human rights case. But last week the convictions of at least 15 of the Raboteau defendants were overturned in one fell swoop by Haiti’s Supreme Court in a murky ruling that represents the latest in a series of human rights scandals since interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue assumed office 14 months ago. "Raboteau was perhaps the only time [in Haiti] that justice was achieved after a massacre, and in a scrupulously fair trial," said Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch. "To overturn that verdict is to say that the only justice possible in Haiti is the justice of those with guns. It’s a sad day." Legal experts say the Supreme Court’s decision, which stated that the case should not have been tried by a jury, was based on a technicality. According to Brian Concannon, a US lawyer who helped prepare the prosecution’s case for the 2000 Raboteau trial, the Supreme Court already approved the jury trial a year before it began. "The court not only reversed its previous position, it did so after a secret hearing," said Concannon. "The legal justification for the about-face is thin. The decision’s analysis of the core issue took only four sentences." The Latortue administration has denied exerting any influence over the court in its decision, responding to critiques that the government has made a habit of trampling judicial independence. Last December, justice minister Bernard Gousse removed two prominent judges’ caseloads after they had ordered the release of prisoners who were political opponents of the government. The Supreme Court’s decision comes nine months after paramilitary leader Louis Jodel Chamblain was acquitted over the 1993 murder of pro-democracy activist Antoine Izmery in a trial Amnesty International condemned as "a very sad record in the history of Haiti". Chamblain has remained in prison awaiting a retrial of the Raboteau massacre, a right he is granted under Haitian law because he had been convicted in absentia. It was not clear whether the recent Supreme Court ruling would lead to the release of Chamblain, who was second-in-command of a murderous paramilitary group called FRAPH that was allied with the military regime. The annulment of the convictions appeared to apply only to those convicted at the jury trial, and not to Chamblain and other self-exiled defendants convicted in absentia, such as paramilitary leader Emmanuel Constant, and the three top leaders of the military dictatorship - Raoul Cedras, Phillipe Biamby and Michel Francois. Latortue owes his mandate in part to Chamblain, who helped lead a revolt of former soldiers and other armed groups that ousted former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, during which all those imprisoned for the Raboteau massacre were broken out of jail. Latortue hailed them as "freedom fighters" in a speech he gave in Gonaives, the city where Raboteau is located. None of the Raboteau convicts has been recaptured by the US-backed government of Latortue, which has begun paying compensation packages to thousands of former soldiers despite warnings from experts that doing so would undermine a UN-led disarmament programme.
NYT 3 May 2005 OP-ED COLUMNIST Day 113 of the President's Silence By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF Finally, finally, finally, President Bush is showing a little muscle on the issue of genocide in Darfur. Is the muscle being used to stop the genocide of hundreds of thousands of villagers? No, tragically, it's to stop Congress from taking action. Incredibly, the Bush administration is fighting to kill the Darfur Accountability Act, which would be the most forceful step the U.S. has taken so far against the genocide. The bill, passed by the Senate, calls for such steps as freezing assets of the genocide's leaders and imposing an internationally backed no-fly zone to stop Sudan's Army from strafing villages. The White House was roused from its stupor of indifference on Darfur to send a letter, a copy of which I have in my hand, to Congressional leaders, instructing them to delete provisions about Darfur from the legislation. Mr. Bush might reflect on a saying of President Kennedy: "The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality." Aside from the effort to block Congressional action, there are other signs that the administration is trying to backtrack on Darfur. The first sign came when Condoleezza Rice gave an interview to The Washington Post in which she deflected questions about Darfur and low-balled the number of African Union troops needed there. Then, in Sudan, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick pointedly refused to repeat the administration's past judgment that the killings amount to genocide. Mr. Zoellick also cited an absurdly low estimate of Darfur's total death toll: 60,000 to 160,000. Every other serious estimate is many times as high. The latest, from the Coalition for International Justice, is nearly 400,000, and rising by 500 a day. This is not a partisan issue, for Republicans and the Christian right led the way in blowing the whistle on the slaughter in Darfur. As a result, long before Democrats had staggered to their feet on the issue, Mr. Bush was telephoning Sudan's leader and pressing for a cease-fire there. Later, Mr. Bush forthrightly called the slaughter genocide, and he has continued to back the crucial step of a larger African Union force to provide security. Just the baby steps Mr. Bush has taken have probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives. So why is Mr. Bush so reluctant to do a bit more and save perhaps several hundred thousand more lives? I sense that there are three reasons. First, Mr. Bush doesn't see any neat solution, and he's mindful that his father went into Somalia for humanitarian reasons and ended up with a mess. Second, Mr. Bush is very proud - justly - that he helped secure peace in a separate war between northern and southern Sudan. That peace is very fragile, and he is concerned that pressuring Sudan on Darfur might disrupt that peace while doing little more than emboldening the Darfur rebels (some of them cutthroats who aren't negotiating seriously). Third, Sudan's leaders have increased their cooperation with the C.I.A. As The Los Angeles Times reported, the C.I.A. recently flew Sudan's intelligence chief to Washington for consultations about the war on terror, and the White House doesn't want to jeopardize that channel. All three concerns are legitimate. But when historians look back on his presidency, they are going to focus on Mr. Bush's fiddling as hundreds of thousands of people were killed, raped or mutilated in Darfur - and if the situation worsens, the final toll could reach a million dead. This Thursday marks Holocaust Remembrance Day. The best memorial would be for more Americans to protest about this administration's showing the same lack of interest in Darfur that F.D.R. showed toward the genocide of Jews. Ultimately, public pressure may force Mr. Bush to respond to Darfur, but it looks as if he will have to be dragged kicking and screaming by Republicans and Democrats alike. Granted, Darfur defies easy solutions. But Mr. Bush was outspoken and active this spring in another complex case, that of Terry Schiavo. If only Mr. Bush would exert himself as much to try to save the lives of the two million people driven from their homes in Darfur. So I'm going to start tracking Mr. Bush's lassitude. The last time Mr. Bush let the word Darfur slip past his lips publicly (to offer a passing compliment to U.S. aid workers, rather than to denounce the killings) was Jan. 10. So today marks Day 113 of Mr. Bush's silence about the genocide unfolding on his watch. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/opinion/03kristof.html?hp
Africa Action 28 Apr 2005 www.africaaction.org FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE APRIL 28, 2005 8:53 AM CONTACT: Africa Action Ann-Louise Colgan, Africa Action 202-546-7961 Adaeze Okongwu, GW Stand 832-687-0363 Africa Action & GWU Students Demand U.S. Action on Darfur WASHINGTON -- April 28 -- Today, Africa Action and students from the George Washington University (GWU) chapter of Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND) continued their 24-hour vigil and fast outside the State Department to urge immediate U.S. action to stop the genocide in Darfur. The action, which began on Wednesday afternoon, will continue until 5:30pm today at the intersection of 22nd and C Streets, NW. Africa Action and GW STAND are calling attention to the ongoing genocide in Darfur and demanding U.S. support for an immediate international intervention to protect the people of Darfur and to reinforce the efforts of the African Union. Guest speakers at the 24-hour event - including Salih Booker (Africa Action), Emira Woods (Foreign Policy in Focus), David Rubenstein (Save Darfur Coalition), and Adotei Akwei (Amnesty International) - highlighted the devastating situation on the ground in Darfur and the necessary steps required from the U.S. to stop the genocide. Salih Booker, Executive Director of Africa Action, said today, "As the genocide continues in Darfur, we must recognize that we have the power to protect the people. We have gathered here at the State Department to assert this power and to demand urgent U.S. action to stop the genocide in Darfur. Unless there is an immediate international intervention in Darfur, up to a million people may be dead by the end of this year." Also this week, Africa Action launched a major new grassroots petition, urging President Bush to assert U.S. leadership through the United Nations to establish a mandate for an international force to protect civilians in Darfur, and to deploy such a force in support of existing African Union efforts on the ground. Africa Action aims to gather 400,000 signatures on this petition in the coming weeks. The petition is available at http://www.africaaction.org/ Nir Kutz of GW Stand said today, "GW STAND has taken an active part in the growing movement among university and high school students eager to speak out and take action to stop the genocide in Darfur. During this 24-hour fast and vigil, students are writing letters to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, demanding that the U.S. take specific actions through the UN to stop the genocide in Darfur." To learn more about STAND, see www.standarfur.org. Africa Action today noted the recent report from the Coalition of International Justice (CIJ), which revealed that 400,000 people have died as a result of the genocide in Darfur in the past two years. As the death toll mounts, Africa Action continues to highlight the need for urgent multinational intervention in Darfur to protect the people and facilitate the urgent delivery of humanitarian assistance.
washingtonpost.com 3 May 2005 Repeating Clinton's Mistakes By Tom Malinowski Post Tuesday, May 3, 2005; A21 In his willingness to confront evil head-on, President Bush likes to think he's more decisive than that mushy-headed multilateralist Bill Clinton. But when I look at the Bush administration's response to what it has itself called genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan, I can't help thinking I've seen this movie before. It recalls the early Clinton administration (in which I served) and its initially ineffectual stand against genocide in Bosnia. In 1993 and 1994 the United States could point to dozens of good things it had done about Bosnia: imposing sanctions, brokering peace talks, supporting U.N. peacekeepers and providing humanitarian aid. But America's commitment to end genocide was hollow, because it was not, at that point, backed by political and military muscle. The same is true in Darfur today. In 1993 the Clinton administration sent Secretary of State Warren Christopher to Europe to urge NATO to intervene against the Serb forces committing atrocities in Bosnia. America's European allies said no, and Christopher did not insist. Last month the Bush administration sent Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Europe, where they raised the possibility of NATO help for a tiny African Union (A.U.) peacekeeping force deployed in Darfur. Without a larger and more capable force to protect civilians, the killing there will continue. But European countries were skeptical about a NATO role beyond, possibly, help with logistics. (France said that NATO should not be "the gendarme of the world.") And if U.S. officials wanted more, they did not insist. After a key NATO meeting last week, all Rice had to say was: "The NATO Council today, as foreign ministers had lunch, discussed the situation in Sudan and in Darfur and what support NATO could give in the form of planning and logistics to support the A.U.-led effort, should a request be forthcoming or should it be necessary to help." Hardly a ringing call to action. Before it took action in Bosnia, the Clinton administration hid behind the United Nations. Warren Christopher said in June 1994, "NATO has done [in Bosnia] whatever has been asked of it by the United Nations." The Bush administration is hiding behind the African Union, which has taken months to deploy just 2,000 troops in Darfur. Rice said last week: "We've been very active, but what we really all are focusing on now . . . is the African Union, which is taking the lead. . . . The African Union may need some help with capacity. If there is a request, I would hope that NATO would act favorably." In the early 1990s the Pentagon resisted American involvement in Bosnia, seeing it as peripheral to U.S. interests. Today the Pentagon resists American involvement in Darfur, for the same reason. Nine slots in the African Union mission in Darfur are supposed to be filled by Americans. Of that tiny number, the Pentagon has filled at most three. I have no doubt that the Bush administration cares about Sudan. The United States has done more than any other Western country for Darfur. To its credit, the administration even allowed the U.N. Security Council to refer the atrocities there to the International Criminal Court, despite its bitter opposition to this court. The administration has been clear and correct about what should happen. The African Union should deploy additional forces. Sudan should cooperate with those forces, rein in its murderous militias and seek a diplomatic solution. But, as with Bosnia, no one wants to confront the obvious question: What if none of these things happen? What if the African Union, for reasons of regional pride or fear of confronting Sudan, never asks NATO for real help? What if Sudan concludes, as the Serbs did in Bosnia, that the way to ease international pressure is to complete its ethnic cleansing? Then Darfur will be free of violence (since the victims will be dead or concentrated in camps), and the international community might move on. There is only one sure path to saving lives in Darfur: deploying a much larger military force with a clear mandate to protect civilians. The African Union should put in place a concrete plan to deploy more troops, at least 10,000, within a month. If the A.U. will not do that, the U.N. Security Council should immediately deploy a civilian protection force to do the job. And if the Security Council will not do that (because of, say, a Chinese veto), then NATO and the European Union should be prepared to step in. In any event, the United States and its allies should start planning now to provide logistical support and troops. Persuading allies to back this approach will be hard. But for all of its good works on Darfur, the administration has not really tried. Since January Bush and Rice have met with leaders from NATO and U.N. Security Council member countries 29 times, and they have mentioned Darfur publicly only once. That's no way to convince the world -- and Sudan -- that America is serious. When the Clinton administration finally made Bosnia a priority and began leading international institutions instead of hiding behind them, the killing there ended. It's not too late for the Bush administration to do the same for Darfur. The writer is Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch.
NYT 29 Apr 2005 April 29, 2005 Theater Listings 'BEAST ON THE MOON' Richard Kalinoski's musty romantic drama depicts the fractious marriage of two survivors of the Armenian genocide. Larry Moss's production is respectable and effective, but the performances by Omar Metwally and Lena Georgas are exhaustingly busy (2:00). Century Center for the Performing Arts, 111 East 15th Street, (212) 239-6200. (Isherwood)
washingtonpost.com 1 May 2005 Hollywood on Crusade With His Historical Epic, Ridley Scott Hurtles Into Vexing, Volatile Territory By Bob Thompson Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, May 1, 2005; N01 PASADENA, Calif. It's Muslims against Christians, and right now the Muslims are winning. Great balls of Greek fire float through the night sky, then explode on the battlements of Jerusalem. Screaming Muslim attackers batter down a section of the city's wall. Howling Christian defenders hurl themselves into the breach. Swords slash. Blood gushes. Sir Ridley Scott has invaded the Middle East. Can this be a good thing for Western civilization? On Friday, the British director's $130 million Crusader epic "Kingdom of Heaven" -- which previewed at Pasadena's Pacific Paseo theater last month -- is scheduled to open in about 8,000 theaters worldwide. In less troubled times, a violent costume drama set in 1187 might not seem any more relevant than, say, a fantasy trilogy set in the third age of Middle Earth. Yet after Sept. 11, 2001, and the American invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, historical antecedents of this kind of East-West conflict can feel extremely timely. Five days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush called for a "crusade" against terrorism. He was widely chastised for using a word that carries major negative connotations in the lands the original Crusaders set out to conquer. Words matter -- but these days, pictures matter more. When it comes to shaping public understanding of the Crusading era and its legacy, the Hollywood version could have more impact than a thousand books. This is why, long before Scott had even finished his movie, it was being attacked by people who feared the fallout "Kingdom of Heaven" might produce. They didn't always fear the same kind of fallout, though. "It's Osama bin Laden's version of history. It will fuel the Islamic fundamentalists," the eminent Crusades historian Jonathan Riley-Smith of Cambridge University complained to the Telegraph in January 2004 after encountering some initial PR for the film. "I believe this movie teaches people to hate Muslims," UCLA Islamic law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl told the New York Times in August after reading a script the newspaper had provided, which he saw as riddled with stereotypes. Scott says he was "dismayed and irritated" by these attacks, especially Riley-Smith's. "How can a historian say that?" he complains. "That's like me being a specialist telling you you've got [bleeping] cancer and I haven't examined you." Coming soon, then, to a theater near you: Hollywood meets history -- and the bloody 12th century meets the bloody 21st. 'In the Shadow of 9/11' Ridley Scott's original idea wasn't to make a controversial Crusades film. He just wanted to make a movie about a knight . The director of "Alien," "Blade Runner," "Thelma & Louise," "Gladiator" and "Black Hawk Down" has reddish hair, a whitening beard -- he's 67 -- and, on this azure California morning, the resigned expression of a man who'd much rather be sweating it out on location in Morocco than trapped in a luxury hotel with the entertainment press. Born in England in 1937, Scott says he grew up worshiping John Wayne and Charlton Heston. In art school he affected Gauloises cigarettes and got drunk on Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa -- artists who, he says, "don't just consider the material, they consider what light is on the tree in the background." With both Hollywood and alternative cinema as part of what he calls his "DNA," he has combined formula moviemaking with a rich, frame-packing visual style that's kept him in demand since his first feature, "The Duellists," appeared in 1977. He always knew, he says, that he wanted to make films about what he calls the "iconic figures" so beloved of Hollywood: outsiders who "sit on the cutting edge of society" and develop their own special ethical codes. Cops, for example, or cowboys. Or those medieval dudes with the heavy-metal body suits and codes of chivalry. In the fall of 2001, after some false starts, it finally started to happen. Scott was working on a different project with screenwriter William Monahan when he raised the subject. "I said, 'What do you know about knights,' " Scott recalls, "and he said, 'In armor? Hard armor or chain mail?' " The director laughs. He knew he'd found his man. This conversation occurred "in the shadow of 9/11," he says. He's sure his knight film would have happened with or without that cataclysm or the wars that followed it -- but he also says that 9/11, and the strong reaction to Bush's crusade remark, was part of the reason he decided not to put the word in its title. It was still going to be set during the Crusades, however. This was Monahan's doing. The screenwriter had argued that these hard-fought holy wars would offer the most dramatic context in which to develop Scott's knightly hero. But which Crusade? History gave them a lot of options. The historical Crusades were varied and complex, and they're difficult for a modern nonspecialist to keep straight. The Crusading era began on Nov. 27, 1095, when Pope Urban II -- sketching a horrifying though largely fictional portrait of Muslim crimes against eastern Christians -- called for armed volunteers to perform an act of penance that would help them achieve salvation. They were to march to the aid of their Orthodox brethren in Constantinople -- who'd asked for help fending off the Seljuk Turks -- and, while they were at it, take back the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The end of the movement has often been dated to the fall of the last mainland Crusader bastion in the Middle East in 1291. Many historians find this definition too narrow, because it leaves out various later efforts, not to mention the closer-to-home Crusades proclaimed against assorted European pagans, heretics and political enemies of the papacy. But never mind all that: 20th Century Fox wasn't going to fund a Ridley Scott extravaganza on the Albigensian Crusade or the War of the Sicilian Vespers. The filmmakers could have opted for the chaotic but triumphant First Crusade, which culminated in 1099 as Jerusalem fell to the Christian soldiers after 461 years of Muslim rule. A small problem: They'd have had to deal with the tendency of those pioneering Crusaders to slaughter European Jews on their way east, and with the brutal massacre of Jerusalem's Muslims and Jews after the Christian victory. They could have gone for the Fourth Crusade, a wildly misbegotten venture that ended with the western Christian army fighting not Muslims in Palestine but Orthodox Christians in Constantinople (which they ruthlessly sacked). Or they could have picked the much-chronicled Third Crusade, in which England's King Richard the Lionhearted faced off against the legendary Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, better known as Saladin, the Kurdish-born leader who had recently united the Muslims of Egypt and Syria. As it happened, however, Scott and Monahan settled on a dramatic period just before the Third Crusade, when the feuding Crusader barons of what had become known as the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem were forced to confront the growing power of Saladin. King Richard gets only a late cameo. The film's hero is Balian of Ibelin, a Latin Kingdom baron whose historical claim to fame is that he led the defense of Jerusalem against Saladin. An unintended consequence of this choice was a charge by author James Reston Jr. that Scott, Monahan and Fox had appropriated portions of his 2001 book "Warriors of God," a popular history of the Third Crusade whose opening chapters highlight many of the same dramatis personae as the film. Reston's book experienced a spike in sales after 9/11 and was optioned by veteran producer Mike Medavoy of Phoenix Pictures. Medavoy, in turn, sent it to Scott, who was known to be interested in the topic. Reston and his lawyers have threatened to sue. Fox, Scott and Monahan have denied the charge. "There was no infringement, period," Monahan wrote in an e-mail. "I've been familiar with the fall of the Latin Kingdom for thirty-odd years." A more positive consequence of choosing this slice of history was that since Balian's was a name few moviegoers would know, the filmmakers could turn him into whatever kind of hero they chose. They turned him into Orlando Bloom, wielding a broadsword this time instead of the elfish bow he carried in "Lord of the Rings." He also got a wholly fictional back story -- and a distinctly non-12th-century point of view. 'I Put No Stock in Religion' Balian is a man on a mission. A French blacksmith whose beloved wife has just committed suicide, he kills an evil priest who disrespects the dead woman, then heads for Jerusalem. He hopes to atone for both her sin and his, but, pilgrimage complete, his prayers go unanswered. "It seems I've lost my religion," he tells a companion, a member of an order of fighting monks called the Hospitallers who serves as his spiritual guide. "I put no stock in religion," the Hospitaller replies. "In the word 'religion' I've seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination before the will of God." Holiness, he explains, is to be found "in right action and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves." These are words to live by. Balian, who's been made a knight by now, aligns himself with the faction in Jerusalem that believes in coexisting peacefully with Muslims. In the small fiefdom he has implausibly inherited from his long-lost father, he rolls up his sleeves to help his combined Muslim, Christian and Jewish workforce make the desert bloom. When war breaks out and some poor folk are in danger of being overrun by Saladin's cavalry, he leads a seemingly hopeless charge to save them. Oh, and he's in love with the Queen of Jerusalem, and she with him, but he refuses to allow her scummy warmonger of a husband to be killed so he can marry into the throne himself. Predictably, Saladin and the Latin Kingdom are soon at war, though Saladin -- played with craggy-faced gravitas by the Syrian actor and director Ghassan Massoud, who makes Bloom look about 12 years old -- has to be provoked into it. What's wrong with this picture, from a historical point of view? It's hard to know where to start. So let's begin with the good news. "I think it does a very, very good job of presenting the material texture and look of life in the Middle Ages," says Nancy Caciola, who teaches medieval history at the University of California, San Diego, and whom Fox hired to come to Pasadena and talk with reporters. Caciola particularly likes the fact that Scott's Jerusalem is "dusty, filled with vendors, filled with animals and carts -- you know, not a pristine-looking place." "Visually, it's stunning. The battle scenes looked great," says the University of London's Jonathan Phillips, author of "The Fourth Crusade and the Sack of Constantinople," who recently was invited to see portions of the film and hear Scott hold forth about it. And yet: "When he was giving the preview talk," Phillips says, "he put a great emphasis on the amount of research that went into it. I appreciate that to make a movie for a mass audience you have to take liberties -- but you should admit it." The small and mid-size inaccuracies are numerous. To take just one example: "The love story is a non-starter," Phillips says. The real queen was devoted to her husband, who, while certainly no prize, wasn't the meatheaded ogre the film makes him out to be. To be fair, Scott does admit some of these things. "We cheated a little bit," he'll say about a modest manipulation of chronology for dramatic purposes, or about a biographical inaccuracy in the way his movie ends. "I don't think anyone historically, really, except historians, cares." He's probably right. But Caciola, Phillips and other historians with knowledge of the period care less about this level of historical misdemeanor than what they see as a series of felonies against the past. Take the skeptical attitude that Bloom's character and the film as a whole display toward religion. "God will understand," Balian says at one point, "and if He doesn't, then He is not God." Says Caciola: "I just don't think that that is the way medieval people thought." As for what Scott describes as his hero's permanent descent into agnosticism, Saint Louis University historian Thomas Madden will have none of it. In the Middle Ages, Madden says, losing faith in God would be seen as a form of insanity. Take the multicultural paradise Balian and his allies are shown trying to build in Jerusalem. It's true that the city's Christian overlords permitted their Muslim subjects to worship freely, just as the Muslims had allowed Christians to do when Jerusalem was in their hands. But this was ruling-class pragmatism, nothing more. Tolerant religious pluralism as a value system is, in Caciola's words, "a post-Enlightenment construct." Or take the film's portrait of a patient, beneficent Saladin who shares Balian's utopian dreams: "The major problem I have is Saladin," Phillips says. "Yes, he is an honorable man," as the film portrays him. But that hardly means he wants a permanent peace. If he doesn't expel the Christians, "he will lose all his support and backing and his political base." Meanwhile, Khaled Abou El Fadl, the UCLA professor who attacked Scott's film, has filled his copy of the screenplay with scribbled comments about its take on Muslims. "Typical!" he writes of a scene in which an armorless Balian and an aggressive "Saracen knight" go one on one in the desert. And: "This image of tolerance is supposed to be Jerusalem under Christian rule?" And: "God!!! Typical view of every Muslim cleric!!" This last comment refers to a fanatical mullah who particularly angers Abou El Fadl. "It's as if there cannot be a religious Muslim who is moral or representative of an ethical tradition," he says. In the finished film, the mullah's role appears to have been reduced. ("Kingdom of Heaven" was cut from well over three hours to two and a quarter; Scott says the longer version will appear as a director's cut on DVD.) Some other things that bothered Abou El Fadl are gone entirely. Last week the Council on American-Islamic Relations announced its view that the film offers "a balanced and positive depiction of Islamic culture during the Crusades." Still, Abou El Fadl's strong reaction points to the likelihood that some Muslims will see Scott's film through their own, radically different, historical lens. Fair enough, you may think. But dig a little deeper and you'll turn up a paradoxical complication. That Muslim lens is nowhere near as different as you would expect. And here's where Crusades history -- and its relationship to 9/11 -- gets especially fascinating and strange. 'Saladin, We Have Returned' A year after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Cambridge's Jonathan Riley-Smith -- the early Scott critic who is perhaps the best-known living historian of the Crusades -- was invited to Virginia to lecture at Old Dominion University. He also spoke to analysts at both the FBI and CIA about Osama bin Laden's rhetorical use of the Crusades. Riley-Smith went on to publish a version of his Old Dominion talk as "Islam and the Crusades in History and Imagination, 8 November 1898 -- 11 September 2001." "One often reads that Muslims have inherited from their medieval ancestors bitter memories of the violence of the crusaders," he wrote. "Nothing could be further from the truth." What actually happened, according to Crusades historians -- Riley-Smith's analysis draws in part on the work of Carole Hillenbrand of the University of Edinburgh, whose book "The Crusades: Islamic Perspectives" is the preeminent work examining the Muslim point of view -- is that after Muslims expelled the Crusaders, they mostly put this unpleasant episode behind them. If they did look back, it was with what Riley-Smith describes as "indifference and complacency." After all, they'd won -- big time. From their point of view, also, they'd faced far greater challenges, among them a frightful onslaught by the Mongol descendants of Genghis Khan. In Europe, meanwhile, the Crusades stayed high-profile. They were romanticized by medieval chroniclers as the height of chivalry, derided by Enlightenment thinkers as gross religious intolerance, rehabilitated by 19th-century historians as glorious antecedents of nationalism and portrayed -- first with approval, then disapproval -- as the precursors of European colonialism. Through all this, the figure of Saladin became rooted in the European imagination as the worthiest and most chivalrous Crusader opponent, just as he is in "Kingdom of Heaven." In Damascus, by contrast, his tomb was allowed to decay. Riley-Smith's mention of Nov. 8, 1898, refers to a remarkable manifestation of this contrast. On that day, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany "laid a satin flag and a wreath, with an inscription dedicated to 'the Hero Sultan Saladin' " on Saladin's grave, which he'd apparently had some trouble locating. He then paid to restore the tomb and included "another wreath, this time bronze gilt, and inscribed 'From one great emperor to another.' " But the Muslim world's take on the Crusades was about to change. It began to look at these ancient wars through the European lens, and what it saw was: colonial oppression. The head of the Ottoman Empire, which was rapidly losing territory to Europeans, responded by asserting that his foes were engaged in a new Crusade. World War I and its aftermath brought a renewed British and French presence in the old Crusader territories of Palestine, Lebanon and Syria -- "Behold, Saladin, we have returned," one French military governor proclaimed. The Crusade metaphor was picked up by Arab nationalists. Saladin was revived as an inspirational figure. Later in the century, he would be embraced by the likes of Syria's Hafez Assad and Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Radical Islamists adopted the metaphor and extended it. They argued, Riley-Smith notes, that "any offensive, including a drive for economic or political hegemony, against Islam anywhere by those who call themselves Christians" was a form of Crusading, along with similar actions by surrogates such as the "Crusader state" of Israel. Such notions help fuel al Qaeda -- and are widely shared by moderate Muslims who wouldn't dream of initiating violence themselves. "Since 9/11 I've done countless interviews," says Saint Louis University's Madden, and the interviewers often ask "how the Crusades 'created' the situation in the Middle East. My answer is: They had nothing to do with the current situation. But the recasting of the Crusades that came out of 19th-century colonialism -- that's what did it." Current Muslim views on the Crusades are a form of "recovered memory," more than one Crusades historian says, and whether that memory is true or false, it's a potent one. Is it any wonder that a Hollywood Crusades movie -- any Hollywood Crusades movie -- looks to some like a cinematic stone hurled straight at a political hornet's nest? 'Not a Documentary' One picture. A thousand words. What, in the end, will "Kingdom of Heaven" add up to? Whatever its intentions, Ridley Scott's knight movie cannot escape either the historical era in which it is set or the times in which it was made. It's likely to be seen as both a harmless Hollywood rendition and a dangerous provocation; as both historically evocative and historically obtuse. To a moderately neutral observer, it doesn't appear to be intentionally anti-anything, except religious fanaticism of all stripes. But as one of Fox's imported historical experts put it, the film is sure to be "interpreted by as many interpreters as there are." Screenwriter Monahan agrees. "Movies are such high-voltage cultural events," he explains, "that they sometimes get people coming out of the woodwork to unleash programmatic rhetoric, irrespective of what the movie actually is." The film he and Scott made has nothing to do with 9/11, he maintains, and as for accuracy, well, Shakespeare modified history too: "What you use, as a dramatist, is what plays." "This is not a documentary," another Fox expert, Columbia medievalist and film scholar Hamid Dabashi, warned the press in Pasadena. "This is a work of art." Best, perhaps, to leave that for history to judge. Still, if you talk long with Dabashi and others who've seen the film, one particularly striking sequence is likely to come up. It's also the only one that Scott -- the man with the Hollywood instincts and the visual DNA -- mentions when asked to name the most meaningful visuals in his film. It begins up close and personal, in the midst of that desperate struggle to hold the breach in Jerusalem's wall. Orlando Bloom has lost his helmet -- as all stars do in such battles, lest their fans lose track of them among the grunting, bleeding masses -- and he's slashing away like a berserker, sometimes backlit, sometimes in slow motion. But then Scott's camera gradually pulls us into the air above the shattered wall. We see the fighters shrink and the horizon expand. It's as if we've taken God's point of view, from which it is a great deal harder -- impossible, in fact -- to justify the savagery below. "That clearly speaks for itself, right?" Scott says. "And that's where I think the visual is better than words."
TIME magazine 2 May 2005 Dinosaurs for Creationists By STEVE BARNES Monday, May. 02, 2005 The new Museum of Earth History that opened last week in Eureka Springs, Ark., isn't nearly as big as more famous natural-history museums in Chicago, Washington and New York City; in fact, the whole thing would probably fit neatly inside one of their exhibition halls. And its nine replicas of dinosaur skeletons and skulls don't quite measure up to the rich fossil collections on display elsewhere. But it's got something the others don't: an account of Earth's history that hews to the most literal version of biblical creationism. Nestled close to the 67-ft.-tall Christ of the Ozarks statue, the museum is the latest addition to a theological theme park established almost four decades ago by the late Gerald L. K. Smith, a right-wing zealot and notorious anti-Semite. So if you go there, you will walk through exhibits depicting Eden and the Tower of Babel and learn that all life on Earth was created at one stroke about 6,000 years ago (no mention of evolution), that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth at the same time, and that the terrible lizards perished under human pressure and habitat loss. Scientists, naturally, won't be rushing for a visit. William Etges, an evolutionary biologist at the nearby University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, dismisses the museum's version of history as "utterly irrelevant to what we actually know and understand about our world." But the museum's president, G. Thomas Sharp, whose doctorate in the philosophy of religion and science was awarded by a Florida seminary, says the exhibits are intended to counter a lamentable shift in public education to what he calls "a very secular, pagan base," arguing that "the biblical explanation to earth science is very feasible and very satisfying." At least for some people: the museum expects from 35,000 to 50,000 visitors a year.
AP 2 May 2005 Deportation for Nazi collaborator; owned Times Sq. eatery THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — An 86-year-old Nazi collaborator who owned a New York City restaurant will be deported, government officials said Monday. Jack Reimer was found to have participated in a World War II massacre of Jewish civilians and in the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto. He had admitted being present during the massacre but claimed he was forced to follow German orders after being captured in the Soviet Union. The ethnic German, who was born in Ukraine, admitted during a 1998 court hearing that he was a guard at the shooting of about 50 people in a pit outside a camp in Poland during the war. U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence McKenna found that it did not matter that Reimer testified he intentionally fired his weapon above the victims instead of at them. An appeals court agreed in a 2004 decision. The court noted that during Reimer’s time serving in an auxiliary unit of the SS he received four promotions and was decorated with a Nazi award for meritorious service. No date for Reimer’s deportation had been set. Reimer came to the United States in 1952 and became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959. He worked as a bartender and then owned a Times Square restaurant while living quietly in suburban Carmel, N.Y., until publicity about his past led him to move to an undisclosed location. He recently was a resident of Fort Lee, N.J. A call to Reimer’s lawyer was not immediately returned Monday. Since 1979, the U.S. Department of Justice’s program to identify Nazi war criminals has won cases against 99 people for their roles in Nazi-sponsored persecution and has led to 170 people being barred from entering the United States.
The Daily Texan (Univ. of Texas) 3 May 2005 White roses serve as wake-up call to genocide By Patrick George To members of the White Rose Society of Texas Hillel, the 5,000 roses they passed out on campus Monday were more than just flowers; they were symbols of human tragedies, past and present, and the power of ordinary people to save innocent lives. As part of its first annual Genocide Awareness Campaign, the student organization, which got its name from a German student resistance group that opposed the Nazi regime during the 1930s, handed out roses at several locations on campus, including the West Mall and Jester Center. The objective was to make students and faculty aware of the current genocide situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. The campaign is designed to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday. "It's imperative that we wake up and smell the roses about the situation in Darfur," said Margo Sack, associate director of Texas Hillel. "The question is, why isn't everyone getting involved?" The Darfur genocide is an ongoing ethnic cleansing by the Janjaweed, a government-supported militia recruited from local Arab tribes, aimed at eliminating the non-Arab peoples of the region. Over the last two years, the genocide has claimed more than 400,000 lives and more than 1 million have been displaced from their homes. According to Hillel, the region is torn apart with disease, famine, torture, rape, pillaging, murder and kidnapping. The White Rose Society's goal was to inform and persuade people about the conflict by handing out 5,000 white roses, symbolic of the 5,000 people who died each day at Auschwitz during the peak of the Holocaust. "At the end of the second World War, we Jews said of the Holocaust, 'Never again,'" said Rachel Cohen, a history junior who was handing out roses on the West Mall. "But it is happening again, and we hope that people will take interest in it and try to stop it everywhere else it happens." Josh Gottesman, founder of the White Rose Society and communication studies senior, said that one of the most important aspects of the event was the student petition supporting the Darfur Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation designed to stop the genocide, which recently passed in the U.S. Senate. "When Elie Wiesel came to campus last month, he stressed the need for a petition supporting the Darfur Accountability Act," Gottesman said. "A lot of people doubt the power of petitions, but names are voters, and politicians can see that." Later this week, Rwandan genocide survivor Rev. Romain Rurangirwa will speak at the University Catholic Center about his experiences, and the White Rose Society will hold a March of Coexistence to protest the genocide and promote tolerance. "It's everyone's responsibility to end atrocities, not just the Jews,'" Gottesman said.
whitehouse.gov For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary May 5, 2005 Press Briefing by Scott McClellan [excerpt] Q And then on to Sudan, some of your critics are saying you just haven't done anything. They want soldiers in there and some other things other than humanitarian aid to help stop the situation in Darfur. What is the President willing to do in the midst of these talks? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, they must not be following the situation very closely, because the United States has been providing the leading role when it comes to addressing the problems in Sudan. We have been strongly engaged in efforts to end the suffering in Darfur, and to forge peace in southern Sudan. John Danforth was someone who worked very closely with the government of Sudan and the opposition rebels to forge a north-south agreement. We continue to urge the government of Sudan and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement to move forward expeditiously to establish a unity government and implement the comprehensive peace agreement. We also urge the government of Sudan and the rebels in Darfur to resume their peace talks, as soon as possible to end the crisis in Darfur. The violence must end in Darfur. We've made some important progress in Sudan. But the violence must end in Darfur. And both parties have an obligation to work to make that happen. And we have been very supportive of the Africa Union mission. President Obasanjo, as Chairman of the African Union, is working to expand that mission and increase the number of peacekeepers who will be in the Darfur region. And that's very important. And in terms of humanitarian aid, we have provided more than 80 percent of the food to Darfur this year. And we hope the rest of the donor nations will follow through on their commitments that they have made, as well. Q If you think the violence must end, why not send soldiers? MR. McCLELLAN: Well, the African Union is sending -- we support the efforts of the African Union and want to do what we can to provide help, as they work to expand -- Q Why not U.S. soldiers -- MR. McCLELLAN: -- as they work to expand -- we're working -- Q -- if concerned? MR. McCLELLAN: This is something that affects all those countries in Africa, and we're working to support their efforts to expand their forces there.
AP 5 May 2005 Emmett Till body to be exhumed 50 years on Associated Press in Chicago Thursday May 5, 2005 The Guardian Nearly 50 years after 14-year-old Emmett Till's murder shocked the US and galvanised the civil rights movement, his body will be exhumed as federal authorities attempt to determine who killed him. The body, buried in a cemetery in a Chicago suburb, would be exhumed in the next few weeks so the Cook county medical examiner's office can conduct an autopsy, an FBI spokeswoman said. The black youth, who was raised in Chicago, was abducted from his uncle's home in the tiny Mississippi Delta community of Money on August 28 1955, reportedly for whistling at a white woman in a grocery store. His mutilated body was found in a river three days later. The US justice department announced plans last year to reopen the investigation, saying the move had been triggered by several pieces of information including a documentary by the New York film-maker Keith Beauchamp. Two white men charged with the murder were acquitted by an all-white jury but later confessed to the killing.
BlackNews.com 5 May 2005 National Tribute To Commemorate Emmett Till 50th Anniversary of Emmett Till's Death Saginaw, MI - After being abducted by white men from his great-uncle's home in Money, Mississippi on the early morning of Sunday, August 28, 1955 in the heart of the Jim Crow south, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African-American from Chicago, Illinois was brutally murdered for alledgedly wolf-whistling at a white woman. His death fanned growing flames of outrage at racial hate crimes and helped usher in the Civil Rights Movement -- and, no less, an event that gave Rosa Parks the fortitude and conviction not to relinguish her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Alabama bus three months later. For the purpose of commemorating the 50th anniversary of Emmett Till's death and paying homage to the significance his death had in regard to the Civil Rights Movement, W. James Richardson penned his novel THE GHOST OF EMMETT TILL: BASED ON REAL LIFE EVENTS (available at AuthorHouse) and is promoting "Emmett Till Sunday" (Sunday, August 28, 2005) as a national tribute to Emmett Till and to recognize the 50th aniversary of his tragic death. Richardson has contacted the Congressional Black Caucus to accomplish this and has prepared a guide to assist churches, groups, and organizations with the commemoration. Those interested in securing a guide for "Emmet Till Sunday" can request a copy via e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 989-797-3312. Editors can secure review copies of THE GHOST OF EMMETT TILL by contacting AuthorHouse at 800-839-8640, ext.5244. Please provide a street address for review copies. See also www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/
Toledo Blade (Ohio, USA) 7 May 2005 Bush ignores the tragic price of silence on genocide By ROSE RUSSELL THIS year marks at least a few milestones that stand as stains on recent world history. It is the 90th anniversary of the genocide of at least 1.5 million Armenians. It is the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, during which 6 million Jews were killed. It is the 11th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, where nearly 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered. On Holocaust Remembrance Day Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told some 20,000 at Auschwitz in Poland to "always remember the victims and never forget the murderers." He added, "I am certain that all my colleagues - world leaders - remember how the world stood by in silence. Do not let them forget - remember the silence of the world." His remarks are applicable to anyone who suspects the systematic murder of a people. The same sentiment was relayed in March when Sen. Jon S. Corzine (D., N.J.) - cosponsor of the Darfur Accountability Act with Sen. Sam Brownback (R., Kan.) - spoke about Darfur on the Senate floor. " 'Never again' is the rallying cry for all who believe that mankind must speak out against genocide," he said. "Man's horrific treatment of his fellow man cannot be tolerated. We have no right to stand by while human life is being taken." The measure calls for world involvement to stop the crisis in Sudan, where more than 180,000 been killed, and at least 2 million are displaced. The conflict started in early 2003 when rebels began an open revolt that centers on Arabs who oppose non-Arab blacks, nomads against farmers, but also Muslims against Muslims. Yet despite calls to denounce this tragedy, the silence is deafening in this country. Meanwhile, the U.N. secretary general may want to send an international peacekeeping force to Sudan; some European Union nations support a stronger EU role in the region; Canada is discussing sending 100 military advisors to Darfur and increasing its $56 million monetary aid by another $70 million, and Japan is considering sending food and medicine. Although the Bush Administration planned during the next two years to spend nearly $1.8 billion for reconstruction, development, and humanitarian aid in Sudan, it has had little regard for the bipartisan Darfur Accountability Act. The bipartisan measure had passed the Senate but did not survive as an amendment in the final version of the Iraq-Afghanistan Supplemental Appropriations bill Tuesday night. House Republicans and the White House opposed the bill, which would have mandated freezing assets and sanctions against those responsible for the genocide. An April 30 edition of the Mail and Guardian, Africa's first online newspaper, helps explain Washington's tepid response to calls for decisive action in Sudan, when it reported "Sudan's Islamist regime, once shunned by Washington for providing a haven for Osama bin Laden as well as for human rights abuses during decades of civil war, has become an ally in the Bush Administration's 'war on terror.' Only months after the U.S. accused Kartoum of carrying out genocide in Darfur, Sudan has become a crucial intelligence asset to the CIA. In the Middle East and Africa, Sudan's agents have penetrated networks that would not normally be accessible to America, one former U.S. intelligence official told the Guardian." Apparently, then, the Bush White House's perspective on the issue is, well, if it's convenient for the administration. Rose Russell is a Blade associate editor. » Read more Rose Russell columns at www.toledoblade.com/russel1
The Rutherford Institute 9 May 2005 www.rutherford.org Not on My Watch—Genocide in the Sudan by John W. Whitehead 5/9/2005 “It is never right to do wrong or to requite wrong with wrong, or when we suffer evil to defend ourselves by doing evil in return.” — Socrates A recent expose by the Los Angeles Times (April 29, 2005) reveals that the Bush Administration has forged a close alliance with the Sudanese government, ostensibly for the sake of procuring intelligence on terrorism suspects. (The Sudan also has oil reserves that are of interest to the U.S., as well.) In exchange for information on the identities and whereabouts of terrorists who once found refuge in Sudan, the U.S. may consider lifting its economic sanctions against the African country. However, Sudan’s track record as a state sponsor of terrorism and its lenient attitude toward the genocide that has been taking place in Darfur (three provinces in western Sudan), make it a poor ally for any country. This is especially true for one such as the United States that claims to champion justice and human rights. There are some who would suggest that America should do anything necessary to win this war on terror—even if it means turning a blind eye to the injustices occurring in Darfur and allying ourselves with a nation whose interests have repeatedly led it to work against us. Yet the situation in Darfur demands a moral response, not an expedient one. Reportedly, when President George W. Bush first read reports of former-President Clinton’s indifference to the genocide that left roughly 800,000 dead in Rwanda, he scribbled “not on my watch” in the margins. Yet despite Bush’s pledge, genocide is once again taking place, this time in the Sudan, which has become infamous for its large-scale human rights violations. Admittedly, President Bush has responded to the crisis in the Sudan better than Clinton did to the Rwandan genocide. However, better in this case is simply not good enough. The conflict in Darfur has been building for many years, as long as the non-Arab farmers and the Arab nomadic herders have been fighting. But it was only in the 1980s with the introduction of automatic weapons that the disagreements became overtly violent. The fighting was heightened in February 2003 when two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), rose against the Khartoum, Sudan’s government. They accused the government of supporting the attempts of the Arab militias, called the Janjaweed, to ethnically cleanse the lands of the African farmers. Currently, the United States is the only country to condemn these actions as genocide. In 1948, the United Nations drafted an international definition of genocide in the hopes of preventing another Holocaust. The convention determined that “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” If the UN declares a group guilty of genocide, member countries are bound to act. Strangely enough, however, in February 2005, the UN reported that the Khartoum were not guilty of committing genocide. They instead found that crimes against humanity and war crimes were taking place in Darfur. The UN Commission’s report stated that there is “killing of civilians, torture, enforced disappearances, destruction of villages, rape, and other forms of sexual violence, pillaging and forced displacement… it is clear that most attacks were deliberately and indiscriminately directed against civilians.” Despite all this, the UN still did not deem the atrocities to be genocide. If the UN were to call it genocide, they would then be forced to act. (Coincidentally, China is Sudan’s largest foreign investor and has veto power in the UN’s Security Council. If the UN sanctions the Khartoum, then China will likely respond by using its veto.) The UN recommended sending the case to the International Criminal Court. However, President Bush is vehemently opposed to the ICC. He argues that if the ICC is given power, U.S. officials may one day be forced to appear before it. Bush’s opposition has momentarily left the situation at a stalemate. Although Bush has recommended prosecuting the Khartoum under a court associated with the war crimes tribunal for Rwanda, creating this tribunal could take another year. Reportedly, 10,000 people are killed in Darfur every month; Bush’s tribunal could cost the lives of 120,000 more. While President Bush should be commended for being the first to speak out against the genocide that is taking place in Darfur, his words have yet to lead to any meaningful action. According to John Prendergast, who served at the National Security Council during Clinton’s second term, “We have not taken adequate measures given the enormity of the crimes because we don’t want to directly confront Sudan [on Darfur] when it is cooperating on terrorism.” Instead, President Bush is sending mixed messages to Sudan and the rest of the world. Incredibly, as reported by the New York Times (May 3, 2005), the Bush Administration recently voiced its opposition to the Darfur Accountability Act. This would be the most forceful step the U.S. has taken so far against the genocide. The bill, passed by the Senate, calls for such steps as freezing assets of the genocide’s leaders and imposing an internationally backed no-fly zone to stop Sudan’s army from strafing villages. At the same time, in a recent letter to the Sudanese government calling for steps to end the conflict in Darfur, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also expressed the administration’s hopes of establishing a “fruitful relationship” and continuing our “close cooperation” on terrorism. Hoping to remind the President of his commitment not to allow genocide to take place on his watch, the Save Darfur Coalition (www.savedarfur.org) has issued green plastic bracelets that read “Not on My Watch—Save Darfur.” Yet it is not so much a matter of remembering to do the right thing as it is of prioritizing. The days and hours are counting down to the end of Bush’s second term in office. It is not enough to denounce what is happening in Darfur as evil; we must do something about it. Whether or not that means supporting the UN’s International Crimes Court or some other course of action, the United States cannot simply sit by and allow people to be slaughtered. Indeed, President Bush would do well to reflect on a saying by President John F. Kennedy: “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.” The time to act is now. Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute and author of the award-winning Grasping for the Wind. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Founded in 1982 by constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead, The Rutherford Institute is a civil liberties organization that provides free legal services to people whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.
Albuquerque Journal 8 May 2005 www.abqjournal.com Bosque Redondo Memorial Tells Story of Forced Relocation of Navajos, Mescaleros at Hands of U.S. Army By Leslie Linthicum Journal Staff Writer FORT SUMNER— The people were scattered for several miles in every direction, bedded down in shallow dirt pits covered with tattered blankets and the canvas from cast-off Army tents. They tried to farm, but the river was salty and the corn came up small. A circle of cottonwood trees gave the place its name, Bosque Redondo, but beyond that the treeless plains provided no firewood and the wind blew cold as winter wore on. Some 140 years later, there has been little at Bosque Redondo to give any hint of the fear, hunger and sorrow endured by hundreds of Mescalero Apaches and thousands of Navajos during their forced encampment on the riverbanks here. Fort Sumner, the adobe outpost from which the U.S. Army operated its camp, has long ago melted into the dirt. The Pecos River bends and swims with trout, willows prosper and a small visitor center tells the story of what happened here mostly from the point of view of the captors, leaving hushed the voices of the captives. On a Saturday morning in June, a new visitor center and memorial will open to change that. The Bosque Redondo Memorial, funded by the state and designed by a Navajo architect, will tell the story of the five years when Navajos and Mescaleros were forcibly removed from their homelands and held by the U.S. government at this bend in the Pecos River. It will be, its creators say, a place to learn about and reflect on a chapter in New Mexico's history that has been compared to the Nazi Holocaust. "They call it a memorial," said the architect, David Sloan, "but it's more of a place that provides information on the past and an outdoor space that we hope will be a place for people to contemplate what they've seen and heard." 'A sense of place' Sloan and the other members of his team hope to have communicated "a sense of place" as well as the details of the events that occurred at the camp. "The only thing that remains here is the landscape," project manager Delbert Billy said. With that in mind, the memorial recreates the bosque redondo with a circle of cottonwood saplings grown from the trees that were planted by Native Americans during their encampment. The 6,300-square-foot visitor center, with its soaring atrium, evokes a teepee, the Mescaleros' traditional housing, as well as an oversized Navajo hogan. Inside, the story of what would become known as The Long Walk is told on large panels that encapsulate the history of the Mescaleros, the Navajos and the United States military during the Civil War— and their unhappy convergence in the 1860s. The panels, designed by Discovery Exhibits in Santa Fe, use historical photos, maps and drawings to tell the story. Designers of the memorial started with grander plans. The visitor center was supposed to be twice the size and filled with exhibits that included life-sized dioramas and audio-visual displays. The U.S. Department of Defense gave $2 million to the project and the state of New Mexico added $500,000. But state lawmakers did not approve a $600,000 request in their last legislative session— money that would have allowed construction to begin on the larger exhibit hall. That is for the future. "We have to open the place," State Monuments director José Cisneros said, "so we're going with what we have." The text of the exhibit was developed with the involvement of both the Mescalero and Navajo tribes— and it doesn't mince words about a horrible chapter of history. "As bad as the Bataan Death March was," Cisneros said, "this thing was many more times as bad. It's been a long time coming in recognizing that period of time." Manifest Destiny Gen. James Carleton, the Army's commander in New Mexico, was carrying out the ideal of Manifest Destiny when he conceived of a relocation of the troublesome Navajos and Apaches, who were raiding white settlements and standing in the way of the nation's march west. The encampment, near what is now the town of Fort Sumner, was a disaster almost from the start. Carleton had been warned. Scouts who visited the riverbanks reported there was no stone to build with, little firewood and a salty water supply. But the general forged ahead, commissioning the construction of Fort Sumner in 1862 and bringing about 500 Mescalero Apaches to the site in early 1863. The first of the Navajos, captured at Canyon de Chelly and driven by Col. Kit Carson on a 500-mile march, arrived in Fort Sumner later that year. More Navajos arrived in 1864. Because of a lack of wood, Navajos were not able to build their traditional hogans to live in. Blankets were scarce, food rations were late, crops failed and an epidemic of a smallpox-like disease spread through the camps. The Navajo called it hweeldi, "the place of suffering." Word of the mess spread to Washington, and in 1865 Congress sent a committee to investigate conditions. What they found led to Carleton's removal from his command in 1867. A year later the Army sent a team to negotiate with the Navajo leaders a way to end the disaster. By then, every Mescalero had escaped and returned to his homeland more than 100 miles away in Lincoln County. The Navajos left in one group in 1868 after the United States negotiated a treaty that set aside about 5,000 square miles in what would become Arizona, New Mexico and Utah as their reservation. The Navajo tribe lost one in five of its members during its capture, the march to Fort Sumner and five-year encampment there. After the end of their walk home— 7,176 men, women and children in a procession that stretched 10 miles long— they found their orchards and fields barren, most of their homes destroyed and their livestock dead. But they were home. Barboncito, one of the Navajo's traditional leaders, addressed tribal members and said, "Now you are beginning again." A painful, difficult tale Tales of the Long Walk, still alive in many Navajo families, are told around kitchen tables and sheep camp fires across the reservation. Like stories told by survivors of the Holocaust, they are difficult and cautionary. Navajo rapper Natay, whose grandmother's tales of suffering and survival on the marches spurred him to recreate the nearly 1,000-mile round trip in 2001, credited the Long Walk with teaching him strength, patience and humility in these modern times. He also recognized the source of a lot of the anger he had felt and seen in other members of his tribe. Prominent anthropologists Clyde Kluckhohn and Dorothea Leighton wrote, "One can no more understand Navajo attitudes without knowing Fort Sumner than he can comprehend Southern attitudes without knowing the Civil War." But for some Navajos, the period is too painful to revisit. When he was growing up in Naschitti on the eastern side of the Navajo reservation, Billy was innocently ignorant of the Long Walk. "I never heard about it," Billy said. "I think for a lot of Navajo families it's a closed chapter." While some Navajos will not venture to Bosque Redondo, not wanting to relive a troubling time, others want to see and feel where their ancestors suffered and survived. Tribal leaders and tribal members will take part in opening festivities, along with state and local dignitaries and history buffs. "Bosque Redondo," Sloan said, "was a test and testimony to their perseverance and strength."
www.newsreview.info Oregon USA 9 May 2005 Could genocide ever take place in the United States? TRUTH OF YOUTH May 9, 2005 1) "Genocide: The systematic and planned extermination of a national, racial, political or ethnic group. Today, I don't think genocide should be possible here in the United States. ... Well, ideally, that is. ... The United States has already committed genocide in the past. Remember the Native Americans? They haven't always run our casinos, they used to own this entire country. The question should not be 'Could genocide ever occur in the United States.' It should be 'Could genocide ever occur again in the United States.' Think about how quickly people jumped on the bandwagon to go to war in Iraq, even with such flimsy reasons that were later proved to be false. Yet, even with that reality thrown in our faces, we continue to fight and continue to support 'our country.' Why? It's all nationalism, the belief that your country is always right, and the willingness to do anything for it. Yes, it's possible, and we need to wake up a bit as a county to ensure that it never happens here again." Trish Marx, sophomore, Oakland High School. 2) "Contrary to common belief, man is not basically good, but is deceitful and wicked. This sinful nature has sometimes led him to commit gruesome acts of violence. Man's past is filled with many abominable acts, one being genocide. One of the motivating factors in the genocidal occurrences in Rwanda and Germany was an extreme level of human selfishness. When a people think more highly of themselves than others, terrible consequences are certain to follow. America's selfish ideology, suggesting consequence-free sexual relations, has already taken the lives of millions of babies in what is deemed as a constitutional right. By definition, genocide is the extermination of a culture or racial group. Is abortion much different than genocide? Do the millions of unborn children constitute a culture in their own right? If America continues on her present course, genocide will most assuredly lie in her future." Austin Clark, senior, Umpqua Valley Christian. 3) "When genocide has occurred in the past, it has been because a government makes its people believe that an entire group of people is inferior or corrupt. Governments have a way of making their nation believe what they tell them, regardless of what it is, so I think that this could easily happen again. I could easily see our government telling its people that an entire race, nation, or religion are terrorists, for instance. From this, the government could make us believe that every single member of this group is corrupt, and so we would not object to their extermination. In many of the genocides in the past, such as the Holocaust, most people did not really know the extent of the problem. Germans knew that Jews were being gathered, but they thought it was for work camps, not genocide. Governments have always been very deceiving; this is still true today, and will most likely always be the case." Lacey Bitter, senior, Roseburg High School. Truth of Youth, which appears in Monday's News-Review, is an opportunity for teens to express their opinions. If you would like to submit a question, write to Erin Snelgrove at P.O. Box 1248, Roseburg, OR 97470 or e-mail her at email@example.com.
www.latimes.com 10 May 2005 COMMENTARY Once Again, the Big Yalta Lie By Jacob Heilbrunn, Jacob Heilbrunn is a Times editorial writer. During his visit to the Baltics over the weekend, President Bush infuriated Russian leader Vladimir V. Putin by declaring the obvious: that the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe was "one of the greatest wrongs of history." But it was what he said next — comparing the Yalta accord among Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin in 1945 to the Hitler-Stalin pact — that should cause outrage here at home. The claim that Roosevelt betrayed Eastern Europe at Yalta, and that he set the stage for 40 years of Soviet domination, is an old right-wing canard. By repeating it, and by publicly charging that the Yalta agreement was in the "unjust tradition" of Hitler's deal with Stalin, Bush was simply engaging in cheap historical revisionism. His glib comments belong to the Ann Coulter school of history. The slander against Roosevelt that Bush has taken up dates back to the early 1950s, after Harry Truman and Dean Acheson had supposedly "lost" China to communism. That's when the American right first decried what it viewed as a consistent pattern of "appeasement" in the Democratic Party. The right contended that Roosevelt "sold out" Eastern Europe at the Yalta conference by promising the Soviets an unchallenged sphere of influence in the region. One element of the right-wing mythology developed in those years was that Alger Hiss, who served during the war as an assistant to Secretary of State Edward Stettinius Jr. — and who was charged in the years that followed with being a Soviet spy and was convicted of perjury — was instrumental in getting Roosevelt to collude with Stalin against Churchill. It was none other than Joseph McCarthy who declared in February 1950 that "if time permitted, it might be well to go into detail about the fact that Hiss was Roosevelt's chief advisor at Yalta when Roosevelt was admittedly in ill health and tired physically and mentally." In later decades, conservatives such as Ronald Reagan would denounce any negotiations with the Soviet Union as portending a new "Yalta." But what actually happened at Yalta? Let's review the facts. The conference itself took place in the seaside Crimean city in February 1945, during the final months of the war. A delegation of more than 600 British and U.S. officials, including FDR and Churchill, met with Stalin. They discussed postwar borders and issued a "Declaration on Liberated Europe" calling for free elections in Poland and elsewhere. The truth is that Yalta did not hand Eastern Europe to the Soviets. That territory was already in their possession. Stalin had made clear his plan to take over as much territory as possible back in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact of 1939, which carved Poland in half and gave the Soviets the Baltic states. The discovery in 1943 of the massacre of Polish officers by the Soviet army in the Katyn forest was further evidence of Stalin's malign intention to exterminate the leadership of Poland. Then, in 1944, during the Warsaw uprising by the Polish Home Army, Stalin halted the advance of his army on the banks of the Vistula River and allowed Nazi SS units to return to slaughter the Poles. By the time of Yalta, the Red Army occupied all of Poland and much of Eastern Europe. Theoretically, Churchill and Roosevelt could have refused to cut any deal with Stalin at Yalta. But that could have started the Cold War on the spot. It would have seriously jeopardized the common battle against Germany (at a moment when Roosevelt was concerned with winning Soviet assent to help fight the Japanese, which he received). Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower was happy to let the Soviets bear the brunt of the fighting as they marched toward Berlin, and he was unwilling to expend American troops on storming the German capital. The only one who was eager to do that was Gen. George Patton, who hoped to take on the Russians as well. Given the domestic pressure to "bring the boys back home," Roosevelt would have been taking a politically suicidal course had he broken with our allies, the Soviets. Roosevelt was hardly perfect at Yalta. He was naive about Stalin's intentions and believed he could cajole the dictator into following more moderate policies. But FDR's approach was not particularly different from that of Churchill (who had declared that he would "sup with the devil" to win the war, which is what he and Roosevelt, in effect, did). As for the charges about Hiss' influence, they've been overblown by the right for political purposes; in fact, Hiss was a minor player at Yalta. What's more, it was the isolationist right that never wanted to fight the war in the first place, which it conveniently forgot once it began attacking Democrats as being soft on communism. Nothing of course could be further from the truth. Roosevelt went on to recognize Stalin's perfidy shortly before he died, and it fell to Truman to fight the Cold War. Roosevelt's record is no cause for shame, but Bush's comments are.
www.whitehouse.gov 5 May 2005 [excerpt] For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary May 5, 2005 Interview of the President by NTV, Russian Television The Map Room 9:58 A.M. EDT Q The after-war Europe has been reshaped according to the Yalta Conference of 1943, by the decision of three very important personalities of this time, Mr. Roosevelt, Mr. Churchill, and Mr. Stalin. How fair is it to hold only Russia responsible for all the misfortunes of Eastern Europe and Baltic states over the last -- THE PRESIDENT: That's a very fair question. Obviously, it was a decision made at the end of the war. I think that the main complaint would be that the form of government that the Baltics had to live under was not of their choosing. But, no, there's no question three leaders made the decision. Q So not only Russia the bad guy of history? THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think everybody ought to bear the -- as historians look back at Yalta -- got to recognize that it was -- you're rightly so in pointing it out -- it was not only the Russian leader, but the British and American leader were at the table and agreed on the agreement.
www.whitehouse.gov 7 May 2005 [excerpt] For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary May 7, 2005 President Discusses Freedom and Democracy in Latvia The Small Guild Hall Riga, Latvia As we mark a victory of six days ago -- six decades ago, we are mindful of a paradox. For much of Germany, defeat led to freedom. For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. V-E Day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end oppression. The agreement at Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable. Yet this attempt to sacrifice freedom for the sake of stability left a continent divided and unstable. The captivity of millions in Central and Eastern Europe will be remembered as one of the greatest wrongs of history.
New York Sun (subscription), NY 9 May 2005 .Students Rally Against Sudan Violence .. together to help raise awareness about the mass genocide in Darfur, eight members of ... The rally drew more than 300 participants to Central Park, many from other ...
Background: The Commentator (Yeshiva University), NY - Apr 17, 2005 Social Action Club Fights Genocide Published: Monday, April 18, 2005 Article Tools: Page 1 of 1 In response to the declaration of genocide in the Darfur Region of Sudan by the United States, the United Nations, and human rights groups across the world, students at Yeshiva and Stern have joined forces to combat the daily murder of African tribal farmers in the Sudan. On Monday, April 4, on the Beren Campus, the Social Action Club held its first meeting, as Cindy Bernstein (SCW '06, Rebecca Stone (SCW '07) and Stern College for Women Student Council (SCWSC) President Molly Fink organized an information session to raise awareness of the situation, as well as to discuss what students are doing to help. Similar efforts are being organized on the Wilf Campus as well, led by Dave Weinberg (YC '05), Dovid Wildman (YC '05) and Avi Posnick (YC '07). The same group of students has created an organization called NotNowNotEver, formed to bolster awareness of ongoing atrocities and help foster change. Over the next few weeks, flyers, t-shirts, bracelets and pamphlets will begin to circulate on both campuses to achieve these goals. The campaign will culminate with a mass rally in Central Park, planned for May 8, to actualize the encouraged activism. Citing her Judaism as inspiration for the club, Fink said, "As Jews we have struggled with the notion of genocide and many of us have wondered, especially in the case of the Holocaust: how is it thatpeople could turn their backs while we were being brutally murdered? A very similar situation confronts us now. This time, we are fortunate to be in a position to help." Posnick also stressed the importance for Jews to get involved. "When we said never again, we meant never again, for anyone, anytime, anywhere." Genocide is the systematic mass-murder of a select group of people over a period of time. In Sudan, government-backed militias, known collectively as the Janjaweed, are systematically eliminating entire communities of African tribal farmers. The Janjaweed regularly target these farmers, razing villages, raping women, and killing men. Victims report that government air strikes frequently precede militia raids. Many African tribal farmers, however, die by other means as well. Food and water supplies are often destroyed by the Janjaweed, resulting in communal starvation and disease. This ethnic cleansing campaign has left at least 200,000 people dead, with 6,000 to 10,000 deaths each month. More than 1.6 million people have been displaced from their homes and over 200,000 have fled across the border to Chad. Many now live in camps lacking adequate food, shelter, sanitation, and health care. Some students have expressed skepticism at the idea of a mass rally of Yeshiva students, but Weinberg insists the goal is feasible. "So many of us sit idly by, unmoved to learn anything outside the class requirements, unfazed by the images of hate, death, and destruction we see on TV and in newspapers everyday. Yet, once our inner spark is lit, worlds can be moved. Students from Yeshiva have done amazing things in record time before," Weinberg said.
BBC 11 May, 2005 Aids 'genocide' advert condemned By Roland Pease BBC Science correspondent The UN said the advert was "wrong and misleading" Medical researchers and health organisations have condemned an advert promoting vitamin supplements as a safe and effective way to treat HIV/Aids. The full-page advert, published in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times, says anti-retroviral drugs are a form of genocide. Anti-retroviral drugs are the most effective treatment for HIV/Aids. The advertising campaign started last year in South Africa, where Aids workers were quick to condemn it. Dr Matthias Rath has taken his argument to the international stage by placing the colour advert in two prestigious newspapers. Headlined "Stop Aids genocide by the drug cartel", it asserts that antiretroviral drugs undermine the body's immune system, and that "micro-nutrients alone can promote the defence against Aids". But Harvard researchers, whose work is cited in the advert, complain that Dr Rath has misrepresented their results on the effect vitamins have on the progression towards Aids. Their study did show multivitamin supplements slowing the progress of the disease, they say, but the pills can only postpone the moment when anti-retrovirals will be needed. Indeed, a quarter of the patients on their vitamin treatment went on to develop full-blown Aids or died during the trial period - only a marginal improvement on the one-third of those who were on placebo treatments. A joint statement from the World Health Organization, the UN children's fund Unicef and UNAids described Dr Rath's adverts as dangerous and unhelpful. The fear is that those in greatest need of anti-retroviral treatments will instead turn to easier, but ineffective alternatives. Dr Rath has long advocated the health benefits of vitamins, in conditions as diverse as cancer, heart failure and osteoporosis. The profits from his vitamin marketing company go to support his health foundation.
NYT 11 May 2005 Being Brash to Stir Things Up By JON PARELES System of a Down doesn't mind taking some cheap shots. The band played Irving Plaza on Monday night fresh from its appearance on "Saturday Night Live," where its leader, Serj Tankian, used a four-letter word and caused the predictable brouhaha, which gave him something to brag about onstage. Televised profanity was just the thing to stir some interest in the band's brief new album, "Mezmerize" (American/Columbia), to be released on Tuesday, but didn't get much exposure in the band's set, which drew mostly on its 2001 album, "Toxicity" (American/Columbia). Mr. Tankian's other stage banter was about sex, drugs and pumping up a crowd that had already turned the floor into a bruising mosh pit. The music was made for that: thrashing, stop-start rock that slowed down and got melodic just long enough to give fans a breather before the next blast of fast power chords and strobe lights. In concert, System of a Down's songs are like throttles governing the speed and impact of the crowd. But for all its muscle, the band has more on its mind than brute force. System of a Down, whose members are Armenian-American, sings about genocide, war, religion, oppression and freedom. Between the salvos of speed metal, the songs switched - sometimes instantly - to minor-mode tunes that hinted at Eastern European origins, and the nasal bark that Mr. Tankian used for fast passages turned to a sustained, almost mournful tenor. For all his sardonic vocal mannerisms, Mr. Tankian rarely jokes; even "Cigaro," the hyperbolic sexual boast from "Mezmerize," turned out to be about greed and overconsumption: "Burning through the world's resources, then we turn and hide." System of a Down can get away with slinging a lot of messages as long as the music keeps pummeling.
Scripps Howard News Service 11 May 2005 Professors challenge image of 'The Good War' By LANCE GAY The gunfire ended 60 years ago, but the bitterness over World War II rages on. Protests in the Baltics over how Soviet troops came to occupy the region in 1940, and recent demonstrations in China over the cruel treatment by Japanese soldiers before and during the war show how sensitive the conflict remains. The war produced powerful myths that have led historians to comb through tons of dusty documents to unravel. The BBC recently detailed how wartime spinners hid the debacle of Germany's 1940 blitzkrieg into France by highlighting the heroic stories of an armada of small British ships crossing the British channel to rescue 300,000 British Tommies stranded on the beaches of Dunkirk. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 shattered the myth the Soviets peddled that Russian troops were stationed in Central Europe to protect the region. It also gave Poles, Czechs and others in Central Europe their first look at a more accurate history of their two-front wars against the Nazis and the Soviets. After decades of Communist dissembling, Russian officials now acknowledge that 27 million Soviets died - a stunning figure the Soviet regime refused to disclose, choosing lower casualty numbers. Some myths were woven during the war to hide secrets. The "wizard war" of electronics and radar was not disclosed until long after the war ended, and the United States only recently declassified the Venona papers detailing how code breakers monitored the activities of Soviet rings stealing America's nuclear secrets during the war. Details of how the U.S. Navy used code breaking to monitor the whereabouts of Japanese forces in the Pacific provide explanations for victories in the Coral Sea and Midway that at one time were credited to naval expertise. "War captures the essence of many myths. It's so troubling, disturbing and upsetting an event it rips apart the fabric of history, and has got to be justified by some powerful force," said Peter Kuznick, a history professor at American University in Washington. The United States developed its own myth of World War II as the good war, Kuznick noted. "There is near-universal agreement that the United States was the good guy in World War II, and that this was a legitimate war that should have been fought, and should have been won," he said. But he said that myth covers over some strategies that modern historians now are questioning, including the military necessity of firebombing Japanese cities and the decision to use the atomic bomb on a nation whose military forces already had been destroyed on the battlefield and driven back to their homelands. Japan also emerged from the war with its own myths of the heroism of Japanese troops. That myth doesn't accommodate the Japanese atrocities in the 1937 rape of Nanking, China, or the cruel treatment given American and other prisoners of war in Japanese camps. Kuznick said highlighting military atrocities dishonors the deaths of Japanese soldiers in the eyes of Japanese right-wingers, although he said Japanese academics are much more open about discussing this issue. University of Pittsburgh professor Donald Goldstein said Hollywood has been responsible for finding new war myths to promote, and amplifying others. Goldstein points to the myth of the superiority of Western bridge design that is the plot of the Oscar-winning "Bridge over the River Kwai." He said there also are glaring mistakes in the 2001 movie "Pearl Harbor," in which Japanese aircraft are fitted with bomb sights they didn't actually have, Japanese pilots flew Zero models that weren't produced until the war ended, and the bombs hit Spruance destroyers also built after the war. "The problem is that kids believe that's the way it happened," Goldstein said. "They say that bad history is better than no history because it gets people interested in reading more about it. But these kids today are not going to the bookstore. I'm teaching it, I know it," he said. Goldstein said he wouldn't be upset if Hollywood declared its movies were not accurate, but he said moviemakers use historical accuracy as part of their public-relations campaigns to persuade Americans to come to the theater. He credits movies like "Tora, Tora, Tora" and the first half of "Saving Private Ryan" for their accuracy. Goldstein is less charitable about "The Thin Red Line,'' involving Guadalcanal, which he said is "awful history." Harvard Sitkoff, a history professor at the University of New Hampshire, said Hollywood has an enormous effect on students today because of the impact of TV, film and music on younger generations. "They often come with a lot of myths firmly implanted in their brains, and they're difficult to dislodge because the quality of filmmaking is very good, and powerful images stay with us," he said. Sitkoff said Hollywood is too wrapped up in the message of World War II as "the good war," while glossing over the negative aspects of war - the impact of firebombing raids, the labor strikes in America and problems on the home front. He said historians are beginning to detail some of the negative aspects of the war. "A lot of things don't work with the good-war idea," he said. War myths are difficult to dislodge, historians say, especially if they become part of the narrative of how government stays in power. Peter Balakian, a Colgate University professor of English and author of "The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response," said Turkey still refuses to acknowledge the 1915 massacre of Armenians and Christians. He said that after the loss of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Turkish leaders deliberately suppressed any mention of the genocide. "It was an attempt to sanitize the past and make the new Republic good and wonderful," he said. Turkey even made it a criminal offense to refer to the cleansing, although books published in the West still note the documentary evidence. "I think the truth eventually does come out. The Soviet Union dis-armored itself of its institutionalized myths that involved things they said did not happen," he said. "The smaller the world becomes, the harder it is for totalitarian regimes to hold onto these ideas." On the Net: www.worldwar-2.net www.warmuseum.ca
NYT 12 May 2005 How Hip-Hop Music Lost Its Way and Betrayed Its Fans By BRENT STAPLES African-American teenagers are beset on all sides by dangerous myths about race. The most poisonous one defines middle-class normalcy and achievement as "white," while embracing violence, illiteracy and drug dealing as "authentically" black. This fiction rears its head from time to time in films and literature. But it finds its most virulent expression in rap music, which started out with a broad palette of themes but has increasingly evolved into a medium for worshiping misogyny, materialism and murder. This dangerous narrowing of hip-hop music would be reason for concern in any case. But it is especially troubling against the backdrop of the 1990's, when rappers provoked a real-world gang war by using recordings and music videos to insult and threaten rivals. Two of the music's biggest stars - Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. - were eventually shot to death. People who pay only minimal attention to the rap world may have thought the killings would sober up the rap community. Not quite. The May cover of the hip-hop magazine Vibe was on the mark when it depicted fallen rappers standing among tombstones under the headline: "Hip-Hop Murders: Why Haven't We Learned Anything?" The cover may have been prompted in part by a rivalry between two rappers that culminated in a shootout at a New York radio station, Hot 97, earlier this spring. The events that led up to the shooting show how recording labels now exploit violence to make and sell recordings. At the center of that Hot 97 shootout was none other than 50 Cent, whose given name is Curtis Jackson III. Mr. Jackson is a confessed former drug dealer who seems to revel in the fact that he was shot several times while dealing in Queens. He has also made a career of "beef" recordings, in which he whips up controversy and heightens tension by insulting rival artists. He was following this pattern in a radio interview in March when a rival showed up at the station. The story's murky, but it appears that the rival's entourage met Mr. Jackson's on the street, resulting in gunfire. Mr. Jackson's on-air agitation was clearly timed to coincide with the release of "The Massacre," his grotesquely violent and misogynist compact disc. The CD cover depicts the artist standing before a wall adorned with weapons, pointing what appears to be a shotgun at the camera. The photographs in the liner notes depict every ghetto stereotype - the artist selling drugs, the artist in a gunfight - and includes a mock autopsy report that has been seen as a covert threat aimed at some of his critics. The "Massacre" promotion raises the ante in a most destructive way. New artists, desperate for stardom, will say or do anything to win notice - and buzz - for their next projects. As the trend escalates, inner-city listeners who are already at risk of dying prematurely are being fed a toxic diet of rap cuts that glorify murder and make it seem perfectly normal to spend your life in prison. Critics who have been angered by this trend have pointed at Jimmy Iovine, the music impresario whose Interscope Records reaped millions on gangster rap in the 90's. Mr. Iovine makes a convenient target as a white man who is lording over an essentially black art form. But also listed on "The Massacre" as an executive producer is the legendary rapper Dr. Dre, a black man who happens to be one of the most powerful people in the business. Dr. Dre has a unique vantage point on rap-related violence. He was co-founder of Death Row Records, an infamous California company that marketed West Coast rap in the 1990's and had a front-row seat for the feud that led to so much bloodshed back then. The music business hopes to make a financial killing on a recently announced summer concert tour that is set to feature 50 Cent and the mega-selling rap star Eminem. But promoters will need to make heavy use of metal detectors to suppress the kind of gun-related violence that gangster artists celebrate. That this lethal genre of art has grown speaks volumes about the industry's greed and lack of self-control. But trends like this reach a tipping point, when business as usual becomes unacceptable to the public as a whole. Judging from the rising hue and cry, hip-hop is just about there.
www.northjersey.com 13 May 2005 60 years later, genocide is alive and well Friday, May 13, 2005 By ALFRED P. DOBLIN HERALD COLUMNIST Imagine if the entire population of Newark was eliminated. An estimated 300,000 people have died in the Darfur region of Sudan, slightly more than the total population of Newark. Nearly 2 million people have been displaced in Darfur. No one notices. The U.S. Senate passed the Darfur Accountability Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Sen. Jon Corzine. It imposed strict sanctions against the Sudanese government that has allowed the genocide to continue in Darfur. Despite Senate support, the amendment was removed in committee from the supplemental funding bill for troop support in Iraq and Afghanistan. The final bill that passed both the Senate and the House does little for the people of Darfur. In a teleconference on Wednesday, Corzine, fresh from a trip to Chad and Iraq, discussed his frustrations with the Bush administration's inaction on Darfur. Corzine was denied entry into Darfur, but visited refugee camps in Chad. He noted the conditions in the Chad camps were better than he had witnessed on a previous visit to Darfur. Refugees are receiving basic levels of nutrition, but disease is spreading, particularly Hepatitis E. There are few doctors for the thousands of refugees. The influx of these displaced people is taking a toll on the people of Chad. "They are getting at the end of their rope," Corzine said. Government officials in Chad are concerned about the growing instability of the situation. It could lead to a rebellion in the eastern half of Chad. According to Corzine, there are theories the Sudanese government is orchestrating that unrest. If that happens, not only will Darfur refugees be endangered, but so will the people of Chad. Thousands of people confined in a small area for an indefinite period is a breeding ground for terrorists, according to Corzine. "It is hard to understand how the administration is backing away from this," he said. The Bush administration may have concerns that a more aggressive approach to stopping the genocide will dissolve a north-south peace resolution in Sudan. The administration also may be treading lightly because it sees the Sudanese government as an ally in fighting the war on terror. The question is: Which war on terror is worse? The war in Iraq or the systematic extermination of hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur? Corzine said, "The U-turn (in U.S. policy in Darfur) is unacceptable." The United States does not have high-level diplomats devoted solely to Sudan or working with the African Union. A diplomatic resolution soon is improbable. Ironically, as Congress was stripping the Darfur Accountability Act from the supplemental bill, President Bush was traveling in Europe to mark the 60th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany. The whole world looked back at the horror of the Nazi killing machine while it failed to notice that new seeds of genocide have found fertile ground and grown. Speaking in Latvia, President Bush said: "Causes can be judged by the monuments they leave behind. The Nazi terror is remembered today in places like Auschwitz, Dachau, Rumbula Forest, where we still hear the cries of the innocent, and pledge to God and history: never again." Those words ring hollow against the litany of recent genocide: Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda and now, Darfur. The Nazi terror only was possible because powerful nations failed to take action sooner. That list includes the United States. The same is true about genocide in Darfur. Congress, claiming the moral high ground, legislated itself into the private family decision of whether Terri Schiavo should remain on a feeding tube. That same Congress did not see the moral imperative in stopping genocide in Darfur. The congressional high ground is six feet under. A population the size of Newark has been wiped off the face of the Earth. "Never again." Until the next time. Alfred P. Doblin is the editorial page editor of the Herald News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
AP 14 May 2005 McCain Speaks At OU Graduation NORMAN, Okla. (AP) _ Sen. John McCain defended U.S. policies in Iraq and Afghanistan and encouraged University of Oklahoma graduates to stand up for human rights and against genocide. ``We are all responsible to promote human rights ... to use your liberty to make others free,'' McCain, R-Ariz., told more than 6,000 students and their families at the spring 2005 commencement ceremony at The Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. McCain said the use of force was necessary to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan. He also said something must be done about mass killings in parts of the world. ``Genocide is not a thing of the past,'' he said, recalling the deaths of millions of Jews and others at the hands of the Nazis during World War II, the thousands killed in Kosovo and Rwanda and the current problems in the African nation of the Sudan. McCain singled out the Sudan as a place where action, including the use of force, was needed. In Sudan's western Darfur region, 180,000 people have died since fighting erupted in February 2003. ``Today we know what is happening and the world must not stand by and do nothing,'' he said. After McCain received a standing ovation for his remarks, President David Boren added as a postscript. He said the university is a diverse family from across the globe and it is the responsibility of the graduates and the school to stand up for the rights of all. The university awarded McCain and three others honorary doctorate degrees. Others receiving them were Peggy V. Helmerich, Tulsa; G.T. Blankenship, Oklahoma City and Walter Neustadt Jr., formerly of Ardmore and now living in Dallas. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, McCain was a military pilot who was shot down over Vietnam and was held as a prisoner of war for more than five years. After his release he continued in the Navy, completing 22 years before retiring in 1981. He was elected to Congress in 1982, then elected in 1986 as U.S. senator from Arizona. He is now serving his fourth term. In 2000, McCain ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for President. He is currently chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and serves on the Armed Services, and Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees.
WP 15 May 2005 Beyond Darfur Sunday, May 15, 2005; Page B06 THIS PAGE has urged tougher pressure on Sudan's government, which promotes genocide in the western province of Darfur. But such pressure could also yield benefits elsewhere. Sudan's government has backed murderous militias in other parts of the country, and may be tempted to do so again in response to a regional rebellion brewing in the east. Sudan's rulers need to hear the message that sponsoring horrific death squads is not an acceptable practice, in Darfur or anywhere. A good example of the potential gains from pressuring Khartoum is provided by the Lord's Resistance Army, which terrorizes parts of southern Sudan and northern Uganda. Thanks to the LRA, northern Uganda has been in a state of low-level war for 18 years. Thousands of children have been kidnapped to serve as soldiers or sex slaves, and perhaps 1.6 million people have been driven from their homes. The LRA's leader, a self-styled messiah named Joseph Kony, has received arms and a safe haven from Sudan's government. In return he has attacked Sudanese civilians, acting as a proxy for the government in its long war with the southern rebels. That war recently ended, at least on paper. But Sudan's government continues to provide sanctuary to the LRA, raising questions about its commitment to the peace; meanwhile, LRA fighters cross into northern Uganda to prey on civilians. Every night children walk into the center of the provincial capital, Gulu, to sleep on the streets. It's safer there than on the outskirts of the town, where the LRA kidnappers come calling. The United States and its allies have sometimes viewed Sudan's various conflicts as separate issues: If you try to solve one you have to de-emphasize the others. For a while last year they made a north-south peace accord the priority, letting Darfur take second place; today they emphasize Darfur and feel they cannot simultaneously press for the arrest of LRA leaders. But the truth is that all these conflicts reflect the same challenge: The willingness of Sudan's government to sponsor atrocities. It will take a common effort from the United States, Europe, Russia and (most awkwardly) China to pressure the Sudanese regime into changing its ways. But the diplomatic effort is worthwhile: The stakes are bigger even than the awful genocide in Darfur.
Crisis Group 6 May 2005 Bahrain's Sectarian Challenge If steps are not urgently taken to address the grievances of Bahrain's Shiites, the country could face escalating violence. Despite a reform package in its fourth year, the government has done virtually nothing to tackle sectarian discrimination and tensions; indeed, it has exacerbated them by increasingly resorting to authoritarian measures to maintain order. The Shiite leadership's control over more confrontational elements within its community is showing signs of wear. Government and opposition moderates need to act quickly. The government must end discriminatory practices and follow through on promised reforms. The opposition should exercise restraint and work with sectors of the state that are willing to accomplish change on the ground. The international community, the U.S. in particular, should praise Bahrain's reformist rhetoric a little less, and urge the government to uphold its pledges a little more. Crisis Group reports and briefing papers are available on our website: www.crisisgroup.org
Reuters 29 Apr 2005 UN gives go-ahead for Cambodian Khmer Rouge trials By Evelyn Leopold UNITED NATIONS, April 29 (Reuters) - The United Nations announced on Friday that legal requirements had been met for trials of surviving Khmer Rouge leaders, nearly three decades after Cambodia's genocide began. An estimated 1.7 million Cambodians -- around a third of the country's population -- died of starvation, forced labor, disease or execution during the Khmer Rouge "killing fields," from 1975 to 1979. But to date no Khmer Rouge leader has ever faced justice for the atrocities. A U.N. statement also said that enough money had been raised to fund the special tribunals, which will have a sprinkling of international judges and prosecutors working alongside their Cambodian colleagues. The United Nations had to certify that the Cambodian court met international justice standards. Nations at a pledging conference promised about $38 million for the court action. Japan said it would contribute $21 million. Cambodia will pay some $13 million for the court, estimated to cost $56.3 million over three years. Secretary-General Kofi Annan notified Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen in a letter "that the legal requirements" the United Nations had demanded "had been complied with." He also said "sufficient pledges and contributions are now in place to fund the staffing of the Extraordinary Chambers and their operations for a sustained period of time," the U.N. announcement said. The Khmer Rouge's leader, Pol Pot, died in 1998. Many fear other aging leaders will die before the legal process ends. Up to 10 Khmer Rouge are expected to be tried. Critics have accused Cambodia of foot-dragging over a tribunal, as some current government officials were once members of the Khmer Rouge, including Hun Sen, a former regimental commander. The Khmer Rouge regime was overthrown by Vietnam-backed rebels in 1979, who them put Hun Sen in power. The international community has been pouring money into Cambodia since the early 1990s to help rehabilitate a nation devastated by three decades of civil war and the genocidal rule of the Khmer Rouge. But a a third of the 13 million population still lives on less than $1 a day.
Guardian UK 2 May 2005 Khmer Rouge to face UN tribunal John Aglionby, south-east Asia correspondent Monday May 2, 2005 The Guardian A tribunal to prosecute members of Cambodia's former Khmer Rouge regime for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people is to be established, after eight years of negotiations over legal and financial conditions. Cambodia's government welcomed the UN announcement in New York on Friday. But diplomats and human rights activists said yesterday they remain unconvinced that the impoverished country's people would see justice for the 1975-79 genocide in which almost a quarter of the population were killed or died from disease and starvation. It is not clear how many members of the Maoist Khmer Rouge will be tried. Pol Pot, its brutal leader, died in 1998, but many senior lieutenants are still alive, albeit in frail health. Two are in custody: Ta Mok, 78, known as the Butcher; and Kang Kek Ieu, 62, nicknamed Duch. They were, respectively, head of the south-western region and commander of the notorious Tuol Sleng prison in the capital. Two of the most prominent people at liberty who could well face justice are Nuon Chea, Pol Pot's deputy, and Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge regime's head of state and public face. The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, told the Cambodian prime minister, Hun Sen, in a letter that the legal requirements for the tribunal had been complied with. He added that "sufficient pledges and contributions are now in place to fund the staffing of the extraordinary chambers and their operations for a sustained period of time". The UN had been demanding pledges for a three-year tribunal and commitments for the first 12 months. The international community has promised about £22.6m of the £29.5m estimated budget, with Phnom Penh contributing the rest. The tribunal will comprise mainly Cambodian judges and prosecutors, but the agreement of at least one international judge will be required to obtain a conviction. "We welcome Annan's statement," a Cambodian government spokesman, Khieu Kanharith, said on Saturday. "We want this [tribunal] to be formed as soon as possible." Such enthusiasm is probably not genuine, according to Kek Galabru, the president of the Cambodian human rights group Licadho. "If the government really had the political will to establish this tribunal we should have had one already," she told the Guardian. "So we are not sure that the tribunal will happen, even though the government has no more excuses to delay." Phnom Penh-based diplomats are equally sceptical. "The government has undoubtedly been dragging its heels on this, and at times actively working against the formation of a tribunal," one senior western diplomat said. The government's attitude was so uncooperative two years ago that the UN pulled out of the tribunal negotiations. The process was further delayed last year when Cambodia's political system was deadlocked after a general election produced a hung parliament.
The Christian Science Monitor 3 May 2005 Privatization of genocide memorial stirs anger in Cambodia By Simon Montlake CHOUENG EK, Cambodia — The burial pits are shallower, their banks softened by wind and rain. Still, a few fragments of bone and faded cloth poke through the red soil. The bitter harvest of Cambodia's "killing fields" is hard to miss. Inside a concrete pagoda, a knot of European tourists gazes silently at the 8,985 skulls on display. Tour guides point out the rusted iron bars used to silence the men, women and children that the Khmer Rouge had deemed enemies of the state during their murderous reign in 1975-79. "Don't be afraid, you're going to a new home," the blindfolded captives were told before their nighttime execution. In a move that has stirred public anger, this memorial to the genocide that haunts Cambodia has been given to a private company. Under a 30-year concession that started Sunday, JC Royal will "develop and renovate the beauty of Choueng Ek" to attract more paying tourists. Critics said such profiting is unconscionable. "This is the memory of the nation. It doesn't belong to city hall. It belongs to the survivors," said Youk Chang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia. The site's manager, who first revealed the privatization, has accused the government of "using the bones of the dead to make business." The municipality of Phnom Penh, which owns the site, said the new owner is forbidden to move the skulls and other remains. The national government has sought to dampen criticism by saying profits would go to a local charity run by a senior Cabinet minister, Chea Vandeth. Local media have speculated about the ownership of JC Royal, a Japanese company run by Vandeth. The dispute comes as Cambodia inches closer to holding a war-crimes tribunal for the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders. The United Nations said last week that it had sufficient funding and asked the government to start organizing the long-awaited trials. Some observers are dubious about the formula for judging suspects and the government's resolve to investigate the past. Choueng Ek is one of hundreds of sites across Cambodia that testify to the mass killings which, with overwork and starvation, caused the deaths of some 1.7 million people. Thousands of tourists visit each year. Many also visit Tuol Sleng, a grisly detention center in Phnom Penh that is now a museum. Some activists welcome the new ownership of the killing fields. They point to a contract that requires upgrading the unpaved road to the site and building a museum and documentary-film studio. "If a private company can do it better, why not? If they can bring in international visitors and tell them something about our tragedy, all well and good, so we don't repeat it," said Lao Mong Hay, head of legal reform at the nonprofit Center for Social Development in Phnom Penh. Outside the dusty entrance to Choueng Ek, Hang Dul holds out a baseball cap and asks for a dollar. A former government soldier who lost his left leg to a land mine, he's keen for more tourists. He also wants unsettling truths to linger in Cambodia's future generations. "I must tell my children about the genocide," he said.
NYT 9 May 2005 Issue in China: Many in Jails Without Trial By JIM YARDLEY ZIBO, China - For a Chinese government that regularly promises its citizens a society governed by the rule of law, the case of a neatly dressed man named Li is a reminder of what still remains outside the law. Here in a bleak stretch of eastern China, Mr. Li, 40, spent two years in a prison called Shandong No. 2 Labor Re-education Camp. Mr. Li, who spoke on condition that only his surname be used, and other followers of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong have been jailed here despite never having a lawyer or a trial - rights granted under China's criminal law. That is because Shandong No. 2 is part of a vast penal system in China that is separate from the judicial system. Falun Gong members are hardly the only inmates. Locked inside more than 300 special prisons are an estimated 300,000 prostitutes, drug users, petty criminals and other political prisoners who have been stripped of any legal rights. In a nondemocratic country like China, such abuse of legal rights might not seem surprising. But this system, a relic of the Mao era, is presenting a dilemma for a modern Communist Party that faces pressure at home and abroad to change the system yet remains obsessed with security and political control. The government this year is expected to begin privately considering whether, and how, to change the system. At the same time, the European Union has stated that for China to achieve one of its most prized diplomatic goals - the lifting of Europe's arms embargo - it needs to make a significant gesture on human rights. Human rights advocates agree that few gestures would be more significant than abolishing or changing this system, which is known as reform through labor re-education. But unlike releasing a political prisoner, a common Chinese good-will gesture, changing labor re-education could force the Communist Party to give up a major tool it has used to maintain its hold on power. "It is important for the power holders that a system like labor re-education stay in place," said Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer in Beijing and an advocate of changing the legal system. The crackdown on Falun Gong followers like Mr. Li is a case in point. The government had paid sporadic attention to Falun Gong until April 1999, when 10,000 followers held an unannounced protest and surrounded the leadership compound in Beijing. The government quickly ordered a crackdown on the group. The existence of labor re-education meant the police could sweep up masses of people without the time and complications of court trials. "If they wanted to imprison these tens of thousands of followers through normal judicial processes, it would have been impossible because what these people were doing was not a crime," Mr. Gao said. In fact the government did not approve an anticult law aimed at the group until months after the crackdown began. For advocates of changing China's legal system, the heart of the debate is not Falun Gong but the broader push for systemic change to establish "rule of law." Chen Xingliang, deputy dean of the Beijing University Law School, said these advocates wanted to transform labor re-education into a misdemeanor system where detainees would have a right to a lawyer and a trial before a judge. Sentences, which can now reach a maximum of four years, would be limited to about 18 months. And, most significantly, authority would shift from the police to China's judicial branch. "I think this is a crucial issue because it goes to the very legitimacy of the proposed correctional system," Mr. Chen said. The domestic debate is occurring as key members of the European Union this month expressed reluctance to lift the arms embargo by June, as they once had strongly suggested. European officials have emphasized that that they want China to make "concrete" improvements on human rights. One idea that has been suggested is ratifying the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. "Pigs will fly before they can ratify with reform through labor re-education in place," said John Kamm, executive director of the Dui Hua Foundation, a group that negotiates the release of political prisoners from China. "It's a violation of every due process right in every human rights law." Labor re-education camps opened in 1957. The system has become a quick, easy way for the police to imprison people in infractions that violate the social order. Critics say the system gives the police so much latitude that they can arbitrarily choose whether to file criminal charges against someone or simply place that person in labor re-education. Meng Hongwei, a vice minister of public security, said China had made substantial progress in establishing "rule of law" and defended labor re-education as a necessary tool to rehabilitate youthful lawbreakers. "There is a great misunderstanding of the system in many areas of the world," he said, portraying it as a short-term intervention to prevent people from later straying into more serious crimes. "We should treat them as a doctor treats a patient, as a teacher treats a student, and as a parent treats a child who makes a mistake," Mr. Meng said in an interview last year. Conditions and treatment in the more than 300 prisons in the system are said to vary. All inmates are expected to do some type of factory work or manual labor. Some imprisoned intellectuals have described fairly mild conditions, while other people have reported much harsher treatment. Outside China, Falun Gong is waging an aggressive campaign to publicize its allegations of mistreatment, which the Chinese government has denied. It is impossible to prove or disprove all of its specific allegations - a catalog of torture, which Falun Gong portrays in graphic posters and fliers. But there is no question that Falun Gong remains banned in China. In interviews in China, five Falun Gong followers traveled hundreds of miles to avoid government security agents and described their experiences in labor re-education camps. Mr. Li arrived in 2000 after spending 10 days in a police holding cell. His family was not notified until he had begun serving a two-year sentence. He said guards often jolted inmates with electric cattle prods to get them to renounce Falun Gong. "The pain was indescribable," he said. "My body jumped in the air." Two female inmates described repeated humiliations. Menstruating women were shackled standing against a board and then prevented from sleeping or going to the bathroom for several days. Specialists say political prisoners constitute 5 percent to 10 percent of the total labor re-education inmate population, while as much as 40 percent of inmates are drug offenders. Drug users are expected to kick their habits while in the camps. Xiao Xue, 33, a former heroin addict, was jailed for two years at a labor re-education camp for drug users in western Yunnan Province. She said inmates were never abused, but did not receive any meaningful treatment. She said she resumed using drugs use upon her release. "A lot of people who have gone to labor re-education camps still continue using drugs," she said, referring to after their release. She said she later kicked her habit. Murray Scot Tanner, a China specialist at the RAND Corporation, a policy research organization, said the ease of jailing people in labor re-education camps has led the police to warehouse people "for an increasing number of social problems." He added, "It is administratively convenient because it allows the Chinese system to avoid coming up with a number of more modern rehabilitation and treatment programs." The expense of creating those programs, and the question of what would be done with the 300,000 people in the camp system, are issues slowing efforts for change. Another is the absence of any broad public outcry or anger about the system. "A lot of the public also wants more security," said Mao Shoulong, a professor and specialist in public administration at People's University in Beijing who wants to abolish the system but notes that public attitudes toward even petty criminals can be harsh in China. "When the Chinese see a thief, they want him beaten to death." China's court system remains relatively weak, but advocates of a stronger system have won some recent related victories in curbing police arrest powers and strengthening death penalty appeals to increase the rights to criminal defendants. Still, Mr. Chen, the law school deputy dean, said those changes "will be empty if they don't change labor re-education." "The criminal procedure law is now quite strict but labor re-education is a black hole," he added. Mr. Gao, the Beijing lawyer, said Falun Gong followers were still being jailed and labor re-education camps were also now being used to jail some of the petitioners complaining at government offices about corruption or illegal land seizures. "Unless there are massive structural changes in the way power is organized and allocated in China, there is going to be no change," he said.
BBC 11 May 2005 Blast in Kashmir summer capital At least one person has been killed and 34 others wounded in an explosion in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. The blast took place in the Jawaharnagar area and damaged a number of houses and vehicles, officials say. "This is one of the most powerful explosions I have ever seen," a policeman told the AFP news agency. This is the first explosion in Srinagar after the launch of cross-Kashmir bus service last month. Group's claim Doctors at a Srinagar hospital say many of those wounded have severe injuries. They include a paramilitary officer and five soldiers. There are conflicting reports over the cause of the explosion. A paramilitary officer, Hari Lal, told the Associated Press it was caused by two landmines planted by suspected militants. But other reports say that the explosion may have been caused by a car bomb. The BBC's Altaf Hussain in Srinagar says a militant group Al-Nasirin has said it carried out the attack. The group has warned of more such attacks in future. At least 35,000 people have died in 14 years of insurgency in the disputed region of Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan. The two nuclear rivals have fought two wars over the territory but embarked on a peace process 18 months ago.
Times of India 12 May 2005 BJP's riot defence: Govt killed Hindus too TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ THURSDAY, MAY 12, 2005 11:38:26 PM ] Sign into earnIndiatimes points NEW DELHI: BJP's deputy leader in Lok Sabha VK Malhotra on Thursday chose to defend Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi against charges of "genocide" and said the killing of 254 Hindus, mostly in police firing – as reported by government in Parliament - showed how the state authorities took "effective steps" to check violence in Gujarat. In a written reply, minister of state for home affairs Prakash Jaiswal had informed Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that 254 Hindus and 790 Muslims were killed in Gujarat in the 2002 riots. "Congress president Sonia Gandhi in her poll campaigns had repeatedly termed the violence as a genocide. While any casualty is unfortunate, the figures given by the government in the Parliament does not constitute any genocide, like the manner in which millions of Jews were killed," Malhotra had boldly announced within hours of Bhandari's views becoming public. While any casualty is unfortunate, the figures given by the government in Parliament do not constitute any genocide, like the manner in which millions of Jews were killed by Hitler," BJP parliamentary party spokesman VK Malhotra said. Malhotra further said most of the 254 Hindus were killed in police-firings and "this showed how effectively the state dealt with the situation." Driving a point home, he noted not a single person was killed in police-firings in the riots, including the Bhagalpur and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, occurred during the Congress regimes. Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Sunder Singh Bhandari has fired a missile against Gujarat CM Narendra Modi by comparing the Godhra riots to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, even as the party was reading the fine print in a Parliament reply to disprove that there was "genocide" in Gujarat.
NDTV.com 13 May 2005 Anti-Sikh riots: Justice delayed yet again Swati Maheshwari Watch story Friday, May 13, 2005 (New Delhi): Despite assurances by both the Law Minister and the Home minister, the Parliament session once again ended without the Congress government tabling the report of the Nanawati commission on the anti Sikh riots of 1984. NDTV revisited those areas of the national capital, which witnessed the massacre, the worst ever in the history of independent India where nearly 3000 Sikhs lost their lives. Those who survived the massacre but lost their families see this delay by the Congress as just another mockery of the justice they have been waiting for in the last twenty years. Surjit Singh's world came crashing down on a Wednesday afternoon in November 1984. He was just 13 when he lost his entire family in the anti-Sikh riots following Indira Gandhi's assassination. From Wednesday to Saturday when the army was called in, he only saw murder and mayhem, arson and destruction in the small east Delhi colony. "I survived because my mother made me cut my hair. I roamed around and saw everything. The police disarmed us and then let the mob in," said Surjit. Milap Singh who lost all his four sons says the tragedy has been compounded by the fact that no one has been punished for the massacre. He says he has little hope of seeing justice for his sons' deaths in his lifetime. "If not here, I will wait for justice in God's house," said Singh. Ministers let off The Congress may have apologized to the Sikhs for the massacre but the fact remains that hardly anyone has been held accountable. In the past 20 years two commissions and eight committees were set up to investigate the massacre. Cases were recommended against Congress leaders HKL Bhagat, Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, who were accused of instigating and organizing the riots. This however, was never done. Former MP HKL Bhagat and Sajjan Kumar were let off by courts for the lack of credible evidence even in cases based on the testimony of victims. The Kapoor and Mittal committees recommended cases against 72 police officers for their connivance in and gross negligence during the riots. This too was not done. Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler were given Congress tickets in the Lok Sabha elections despite the fact that the Nanawati Commission had issued notices to them. Reason for delay? H S Phulka has been fighting the legal battle for many of the survivors and he says he does not understand the delay in tabling the report. "Nanavati commission report was submitted in February and has still not been tabled. Till today not made public. The other report of Godhra was made public the same evening. What is the justification for not making it public?" said H S Phulka, lawyer. The story of the 84 riots is a story of travesty of justice at every level. And by not tabling the report for no credible reason, the message the Congress seems to be sending out is that a 21 year long wait for justice is perhaps for them not long enough.
NYT 15 May 2005 Indonesians to Avoid Trials for Crimes in East Timor By SETH MYDANS International Herald Tribune DILI, East Timor - After ducking and dodging for more than five years, it appears that the Indonesian officers responsible for the devastation of East Timor in 1999 have reached safe ground and will avoid prosecution under a new agreement signed by the leaders of both countries. The agreement, signed in March, creates a Commission of Truth and Friendship that would, in the words of East Timor's foreign minister, José Ramos-Horta, "resolve once and for all the events of 1999" and "finally close this chapter." But because of the immunity it provides from prosecution, the agreement has become the source of new controversy. In parallel, the United Nations has formed a Commission of Experts that will carry out a review of the judicial processes in Indonesia and East Timor. After 24 years of occupation in this former Portuguese colony, Indonesia was forced to pull out its troops by a binding United Nations-sponsored referendum in September 1999. As they retreated, they orchestrated a campaign of destruction in which much of East Timor was razed. An estimated 1,400 people were killed in 1999 and another 250,000 were forced into exile after the vote. The Truth and Friendship commission, made up of five members from each nation, is weaker than attempts around the world in recent years to find ways to call to account the perpetrators of mass atrocities. The commission will have the power to recommend amnesty for those involved, but, as it states explicitly "will not lead to prosecution." It will "emphasize institutional responsibilities" instead of identifying and blaming individual perpetrators. It will have the power to recommend rehabilitation for those "wrongly accused," but not to propose rehabilitation or reparations for victims. Mr. Horta said recently that East Timor was bending over backward to accommodate Indonesia because of the futility of pursuing culprits who are outside its jurisdiction and because of the priority this tiny nation or 900,000 people placed on good relations with its powerful neighbor. Critics say the two nations are putting their national interests ahead of universal principles of justice. "Crimes committed against humanity are a matter of concern for the entire international community," the Judicial System Monitoring Program, an independent East Timorese legal organization, said in a statement. "They cannot be ignored or disposed of as a matter of bilateral political concern." Prosecutions in crimes against humanity have spread since the early 1990's when international criminal tribunals were set up for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia. An International Criminal Court opened in 2002 as a permanent and independent court for judging war crimes. A different model of mixed international tribunals, with national and foreign judges, is being pursued in Sierra Leone, Cambodia, Kosovo and in East Timor itself. Each of these, like the new Truth and Friendship commission, sets a precedent and sends a signal to both perpetrators and victims in the future. The creation of the commission does not rule out the possibility of an international tribunal, but analysts say that is extremely unlikely soon. The United Nations has an unusual stake in the case of East Timor, where it was a victim of the violence surrounding the referendum. Thirteen United Nations workers were killed, its property was vandalized and its staff members were surrounded and threatened. The United Nations Commission of Experts, formed in February, will review the failure in both countries to fulfill a United Nations resolution demanding that "all those responsible for such violence be brought to justice." More than five years later, no Indonesian has been punished. The Truth and Friendship agreement is seen by many analysts as an attempt by both countries to preempt the work of the United Nations commission. Indonesia has shown reluctance to cooperate with it. In Indonesia, an ad hoc tribunal was created in 2000 in a deal to avoid international prosecutions by the United Nations. Doubts about the government's good faith appeared to be confirmed when all 16 Indonesian defendants went free in politicized trials. In East Timor, a court set up with United Nations help has indicted nearly 400 people, of whom more than 300 are in Indonesia. The authorities there have refused to extradite them for trial in East Timor. The result is that the only people who have been imprisoned for the violence are low level members of East Timorese militias that an independent Indonesian inquiry found had been directed by Indonesia.
BBC 1 May 2005 Bombing of Iraqi Kurds kills 25 An apparent suicide attack in Iraq has left at least 25 people dead and injured more than 30 others. The bombing is reported to have targeted a Kurdish funeral in the northern town of Talafar, near Mosul. Earlier, at least five policemen and four civilians were killed in two separate attacks in Baghdad. In another development, Iraqi police said they had arrested several men over the kidnapping and killing of British aid worker Margaret Hassan. Hostage video Details of the attack in northern Iraq are still sketchy, but local officials say a suicide car bomber drove into mourners attending the funeral of a Kurdish official. The official, Taleb Wahab, was a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. He was killed by insurgents in Mosul on Saturday. Reports say gunmen then blocked the road, attacking US troops, Iraqi police and ambulances who were trying to reach the scene of Sunday's suicide bombing. In the latest spate of attacks in Iraq since Friday, some 90 people have been killed. Correspondents say insurgent activity has intensified in the past two weeks, as Iraq's leaders struggle to complete the formation of a new government. An incomplete cabinet was installed on Thursday, but key ministries, including defence, remain vacant. In the Hassan case, in addition to the arrests, police said they had found documents, clothing and a handbag belonging to the Dublin-born director of Care International in Iraq, who was abducted on 19 October 2004. A video showing her apparent death was released a month later but her body has never been recovered. News of the arrests came as a video was released on Sunday showing an Australian citizen believed to have been kidnapped in Iraq. On the tape, the man identifies himself as Douglas Wood, saying he is 63 and lives in the US.
www.heraldsun.news.com.au 2 May 2005 Saddam massacre site found Jamie Walker Samawah MASS graves have been found in the area of southern Iraq to be patrolled by Australian troops. They reveal a previously unknown massacre of up to 1500 people by Saddam Hussein's security forces. News of the grisly find emerged at the weekend as Defence Minister Robert Hill paid a flying visit to Diggers based outside the provincial capital of Samawah. US investigators have so far exhumed the remains of 113 people -- all but five of them women, children and teenagers -- from trenches believed to be near the town of Al Khidr, about 25km south of Samawah. They are thought to be victims of Saddam's bloody crackdown on Iraq's Kurdish minority in the late 1980s. The Americans were refusing last night to detail the exact location of the mass graves, saying the site needed to remain secret to preserve evidence that could be used in the prosecution of the former Iraqi dictator. A surprised Senator Hill said he had not been told of the discovery, but the Australian Government would consider any request for help from Iraqi authorities. He was unsure, however, what practical help Australia could offer. Up to 1500 bodies are believed to have been dumped in the grave, making it one of the largest of the 300-odd burial sites so far linked to Saddam's atrocities. In a particularly cruel twist, many of the bodies were clad in distinctive Kurdish dress, suggesting the victims may have donned their best clothes in the belief they were being moved. Saddam's security forces forcibly removed hundreds of thousands of Kurds from their lands in northern Iraq, and killed thousands more, during a brutal 1987-88 campaign to punish them for siding with Iran in its decade-long war against Iraq. Spending just four hours on the ground in Iraq, Senator Hill was forced to play down local expectations that the incoming Australian troops would be involved in reconstruction. Samawah still does not have a reliable power supply or constant running water. Community leaders argue the city needs essential services more than foreign troops. But after talks with Governor Muhammad Ali al-Hassani, Senator Hill said the Australians' mission was to train a new battalion of the Iraqi National Guard and provide area security for Japanese military engineers working across Al Muthanna province. "Reconstruction work in Australia is done by the private sector, so we need to show the private sector that it is a peaceful and stable environment in which they can make a contribution," Senator Hill said. "The Governor has said to me that this province is already safe and stable -- what we need to do is to convince the international community of that fact. "I think then you will start to see the international assistance on the ground that you would like in reconstruction projects." Senator Hill also met the commander of the 850-strong Japanese Self Defence Force contingent, Col. Kiyohiko Ota, and reviewed his soldiers. Lunching with Australian troops at their fortified base of Camp Smitty, Senator Hill inquired about the living conditions. "Better than Baghdad," a soldier replied.
BBC 2 May 2005 Woman soldier admits Iraq abuse Pte England's defence argue she was acting under orders An American woman soldier has pleaded guilty to charges of abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq, at a court martial in Texas. Lawyers say Private Lynndie England agreed to a plea deal that will reduce her maximum jail sentence to 11 years. Images of Pte England smiling and pointing at naked Iraqis sickened America and the rest of the world. She is one of nine soldiers who were charged with mistreating Iraqi captives at Abu Ghraib in late 2003. Some have pleaded guilty and have been sentenced to jail. The defence has always contended that Pte England and other soldiers were acting on orders of army intelligence officials, who wanted to soften up prisoners before they were interrogated. It is alleged that it was a policy which was sanctioned at the highest level. But four top army officers were cleared last week of any wrongdoing at Abu Ghraib. Only one senior soldier, Brig Gen Janis Karpinski, has been relieved of her command as a result of the scandal. 'Following orders' The hearing is taking place at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. Pte England, 22, had been facing nine charges carrying a potential 16 years in prison. ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL Sentenced: Spc Charles Graner Pte Jeremy Sivits Sgt Ivan Frederick Spc Megan Ambuhl Spc Armin Cruz Spc Roman Krol Sgt Javal Davis Facing trial: Pte Lynndie England Spc Sabrina Harman In pictures: Prisoner abuse Profile: Lynndie England Q&A: Prison abuse scandal Her lawyers have said she would plead guilty to seven of the charges in return for a lighter maximum sentence. Last year she became pregnant by fellow soldier Charles Graner, who was accused of being the ringleader of the abuse at Abu Ghraib. Graner was convicted by a court martial and sentenced to 10 years in jail. Pte England has since given birth to a baby boy. Her legal team will argue she was under the control of an older man. Defence lawyer Rick Hernandez has said there were other mitigating factors. "We're going to delve into her mental health issues, her severe learning deficit, who Lynndie England is as a person and how she got to the situation where she is," he said.
BBC 4 May 2005 Scores die in Iraqi Kurd attack At least 45 people have been killed in a suicide bombing at a political party office in the Kurdish city of Irbil in northern Iraq, authorities say. Reports say the attacker targeted a group of police recruits gathered at a Kurdistan Democratic Party office, which serves as a recruiting centre. The bombing follows a sharp rise in attacks by insurgents across Iraq. It comes a day after the new Iraqi government was sworn in although some key ministries are yet to be filled. Members of Iraq's police force and police recruitment centres have frequently been targeted by bombers who view them as collaborators with US-led forces. Last month, at least 101 people were killed in twin suicide bombings in Irbil, about 350km (217 miles) north of Baghdad. Chaotic scenes The Associated Press news agency described scenes of chaos as ambulance and taxis ferried victims to local hospitals following the latest bombing. The blast comes as negotiations continue to fill several vacant posts in the new Iraqi cabinet set aside for Sunnis. The BBC's Jim Muir in Baghdad says Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari must bring credible Sunnis into his government to undercut the insurgency. The minority Sunnis, who largely boycotted Iraq's historic elections in January, lost power following the fall of Saddam Hussein.
www.haaretz.com 5 May 2005 IDF suspends commander of force that killed two Palestinians By Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service Israel Defense Forces Central Command chief Yair Naveh on Thursday suspended a senior Combat Engineering Corps officer who commanded a force that shot dead two Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank on Wednesday. Naveh said the conduct of the deputy company commander was defined as "unreasonable." Oudai A'asi, 14, and his 15-year-old cousin Kamal A'asi, both from the West Bank village of Beit Lakia, were shot dead while throwing stones together with dozens of other protestors at a separation fence work site next to a village north of Highway 443. Advertisement Around 6 P.M., some 200 youths arrived on the scene and began throwing rocks at bulldozers and at the five soldiers who arrived on the scene in a jeep. Palestinians on the scene said the soldiers initially opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas grenades and at a certain point began firing live ammunition in the air. Palestinian sources said the cousins, 14-year-old Uday Asi and 15-year-old Kamel Asi, were hit by live ammunition. Ramallah hospital officials said Uday was hit in the hip and thighs and Kamel was hit in the chest. One IDF soldier was lightly wounded by Palestinian stone-throwers. Nineteen-year-old Karem Yusuf, who was near the two casualties, described the scene. "I saw two soldiers but it is possible there were more," he said. "Near the soldiers was a group of 10 youths and around them were some 200 more. The distance from the first group to the soldiers was about 20 meters. Kamel and Uday were next to me when they were shot. A soldier fired several shots and I saw that Kamel was wounded in his chest." The IDF said that "according to an initial investigation, a small IDF force securing the separation fence work site was surprised when hundreds of youths attacked them. The force made use of riot control weapons but at a certain point there was a danger to their lives and the force's commander ordered they fire first in the air [with live ammunition] in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators. When this had no effect, he opened fire at the legs of several demonstrators in an attempt to disperse them. The circumstances of the event will be examined." "This is a violation of the cease-fire," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, advisor to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters. "Israel is looking for excuses to raise tensions and to depart from implementing the Sharm (el-Sheikh) understandings." In a separate incident Wednesday night, Border Police troops arrested a Palestinian carrying a handgun northwest of Hebron, the radio reported. On the border with the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday night, IDF soldiers arrested two unarmed Palestinians attempting to infiltrate across the boundary fence into Israel.
AP 10, 2005 Japanese Nationalists Use Wartime Facts TOKYO (AP) -- The Japanese authors of a nationalist history book that sparked angry protests in China defended their work Tuesday, saying the writings accurately reflect the facts. Nobukatsu Fujioka and Hidetsugu Yagi, members of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, said their book is meant to correct exaggerated accounts of Japanese atrocities in other books. ''We wanted to create a history textbook that would be free of defunct historical theories,'' Yagi told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo. The Japanese Education Ministry's approval in April of the latest version of the New Japanese History book triggered fierce opposition by critics in Japan and elsewhere. Opponents argue the text glosses over Japanese atrocities during its conquest of East Asia in the 1930s and 40s, particularly the 1937-38 Rape of Nanking, in which historians generally agree Japanese troops slaughtered thousands of civilians, and Tokyo's policy of forcing women to work in wartime brothels. The book does not bring up the wartime brothels, and mention of the killings in Nanking is relegated to a footnote. Anger over the book and other tensions between China and Japan -- including territorial disputes and other historical disagreements -- boiled over in a series of violent demonstrations in China. The protests, however, have died down and government officials from both countries have met to smooth over the troubles. Fujioka and Yagi argued on Tuesday that accounts of the wartime brothels are not historically accurate, and they also took issue with the idea that Japanese troops slaughtered large numbers of civilians in Nanking. ''The people who died were killed as the result of a combat and not the result of a massacre,'' Fujioka said, suggesting the vast bulk of the deaths were the 15,000 Chinese enemy soldiers who were killed. Chinese tallies say up to 300,000 people died. The writers said Japanese history teaching in the past had been the result of the ''psychological trauma'' of Japan's defeat in the war, which led historians to despise everything about militarist Japan. The writers blamed left-wing teachers for blocking the spread of their book, which is used in only a tiny percentage of Japanese schools.
14 May 2005 Court says no damages for '32 massacre Ruling upheld that China
atrocities took place, but state shouldn't pay The Tokyo High Court on Friday
upheld a lower court ruling acknowledging that a 1932 massacre by the Imperial
Japanese Army in China's Liaoning Province took place but rejecting a damages
suit by three survivors. Yang Baoshan (center), one of three survivors of
the 1932 massacre by the Imperial Japanese Army in China's Liaoning Province,
walks out of the Tokyo High Court on Friday after the court dismissed their compensation
suit. In handing down the ruling, presiding Judge Kimio Miyazaki said the state
used its power to cause the incident but that the state is not liable to compensate
the victims, citing the government's argument that it is not responsible for any
damage caused by the exercise of state power under laws in force at the time of
the incident. The Civil Code under Meiji Constitution, which was in effect
from 1890 to 1947, said the state did not have to compensate people affected by
the use of state power. "The plaintiffs suffered great emotional anguish and we
cannot say that Japan made sufficient compensation, but war compensation issues
should be a diplomatic issue decided between governments," Miyazaki said. In
June 2002, the Tokyo District Court made a landmark ruling when it acknowledged
the existence of such a massacre by the army -- a first time for a Japanese court.
However, the court rejected the demand for compensation. The three plaintiffs
-- two men and one woman, who were between 4 and 9 years old at the time -- sought
20 million yen each in compensation from the government. Mo Desheng, 80, Yang
Baoshan, 82, and Fang Surong, 76 claim they lost their families and were brutalized
by the Japanese Imperial Army in a suburb of the city of Fushun on Sept. 16, 1932.
The plaintiffs had argued the massacre violated Chinese and international laws,
and sought compensation under those laws. They have also said the Japanese government
and the Diet must take responsibility for their failure to create a war redress
law or take other measures to address the atrocities. The State Redress Law was
enacted in 1947, but does not cover the plaintiffs' claims. In what is known
as the Pingdingshan Incident, the Imperial army rounded up about 3,000 people
in the district and killed most of them, claiming they cooperated with Chinese
guerrillas fighting against Japan. Following the mass execution, the Imperial
soldiers reportedly burned the bodies and buried them by triggering a landslide
with dynamite. China excavated part of the site in 1970 and displayed the findings
in a museum. The Japanese government had asked the court to reject the suit,
saying the government of Japan before World War II had declared itself free of
any responsibility for damage in any circumstance with regard to the exercise
of state power. The government had also said that the plaintiffs' right to claim
compensation had expired under a 20-year statute of limitations under the Civil
27 Apr 2005 Focus on major players ahead of presidential polls [ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations] © IRIN Former president Askar Akayev was toppled from power in March BISHKEK, 27 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - The current political agenda in Kyrgyzstan, where opposition-led protesters overthrew the regime of former president Askar Akayev in March, is dominated by upcoming presidential elections in early July. TWO KEY FIGURES RUNNING FOR THE PRESIDENCY Several political leaders have announced that they will run for the presidency, but most observers believe that the contest will be between two leaders; prime minister, acting president and leader of the National Movement of Kyrgyzstan (NMK), Kurmanbek Bakiev, who was among those who led the protests that toppled Akayev's regime on 24 March and the head of the Ar-Namys political party, Felix Kulov, who was jailed under Akayev for more than four years. "The political struggle between different [political] groups is caused by the upcoming presidential elections," Marat Kazakbaev, political analyst and coordinator of the Citizens Against Corruption NGO, told IRIN in the capital Bishkek. "The country's political world divides into several groupings, but the strongest groups belong to those of Kulov and Bakiev. The political battle for presidency rests between them," Kazakbaev added. Bakiev was appointed prime minister and thus acting president by the new parliament following the ouster of Akayev from power. Immediately after coming to power Bakiev said he would run for the top job. Bakiev, a prime minister under Akayev, and his team, are campaigning to fight against corruption and nepotism at the governmental level, as well as tackling social injustice. The group's main support base is the poor and that part of the intelligentsia who were deeply dissatisfied under the previous regime. Politics in Kyrgyzstan are fairly clan and region-based. Political observers say Bakiev represents southern elites, who felt they were left out during Akayev's rule, while Kulov, who is originally from the north, has strong support in that region. Kulov, a former security general, vice-president and governor, was jailed on corruption and embezzlement charges in 2001 that many international organisations said were politically motivated. The ex-head of the security ministry was released from jail the day the regime fell and put in charge of security bodies to restore order in the capital. The country's judiciary has acquitted Kulov of the embezzlement charges, paving the way for his participation in the presidential elections on 10 July. On Monday, he announced he would stand for the president's office in July. "I have a strong belief that I should run for the presidency," he told journalists in Bishkek. Kulov prioritises stabilisation of the current political situation, providing security and preventing an exodus of the country's diminishing Russian-speaking minority. Along with Kulov and Bakiev, several other candidates announced they would run for the country's top job. Among them is Jenishbek Nazaraliev, a doctor specialising in the treatment of alcohol and drug addiction, who was once an active opposition supporter during Akayev's reign. Nurbek Turdukulov, a deputy minister under Akayev's last government and currently top manager of the country's only GSM operator Bitel, which had alleged links to Akayev's family, has also indicated he would run. PRO-AKAYEV SUPPORTERS Supporters of deposed president Akayev are also participating through the Alga, Kyrgyzstan political party, described as a pro-Akayev or family party given that Akayev's daughter Bermet played an important role in its founding. The party became known for its widespread use of "dirty" methods during the parliamentary elections in February and March, which initially sparked the protests that overthrew the former president. Some believe that the group is silently undermining the new authorities, having a vested interest in the failure of the new government and in promoting nostalgia among some for the former regime. Although they have not publicised their platform, some reports suggest that their main motto is: "The former regime was not that bad, at least, it was maintaining stability in the country." Their support base comes from a considerable number of government employees and officials, and representatives of the middle class, in other words those who had a good life under the former regime. The supporters of the group include part of the intelligentsia, senior officials nominated and patronised by Akayev, who managed to concentrate substantial resources in their hands. CRIMINAL GROUPS VYING FOR INFLUENCE Another element influencing the political scene, local analysts say, is semi-criminal groups, with their vested business interests. Sania Sagnayeva, an expert with the International Crisis Group (ICG), a Brussels-based think tank in Bishkek, told IRIN that during the change of power in some instances criminal elements were active in the first stage of affairs to drive politicians to secondary roles. Earlier this month, a group of experienced police officers in the south sent an appeal to the country's new leadership complaining about a "groundless and unjustified" change of staff within government offices, including the police, with those having alleged links with criminal groups. A senior police official in the southern province of Osh, who did not want to be identified, told IRIN that the criminal groups were trying to establish control over financial flows and drug trafficking in the region. Southern Kyrgyzstan lies on one of the major drug-trafficking routes from Afghanistan to Russia and western Europe. "Not less than one-third of posts within administrative offices in the region might fall into the hands of semi-criminal groups, allegedly presenting themselves as active members of the revolutionary events," Salima Sharipova, a prominent female public figure in the region, told IRIN in Osh. Fear of possible control by pro-criminal groups in the administrative bodies, according to local NGOs, is a growing concern and a major worry for ordinary citizens. The platform that these groups are presenting is power of the people at all the levels, especially at the local level. But observers claim that their real motives are to secure their interests by controlling key posts in the government. Analysts say these groups have found backing among the unemployed and the poor, aspiring for social justice and fairness. The group also relies on young people who depend on these groups and therefore have a vested interest in their bosses' success. EXPECTATIONS OF PEOPLE ON THE STREETS Ordinary people say the issue of stability remains paramount after the euphoria of the revolution has waned. "It is good that the corrupt family and clan-based regime has gone. But the new government is facing a severe shortage of time. The initial euphoria is diminishing and people are questioning what has been achieved," Sadyrbay, 64, a local pensioner in the southern city of Osh, told IRIN. "If there is no stability in the coming several months and people do not see tangible results from the regime change, the new authorities will lose all credit." "Nobody regrets that Akayev is gone, but the new authorities have shown their inability to tackle the challenges lying ahead of them. People need to see that real change is taking place," Almaz, a university student in Bishkek, told IRIN. But others were less optimistic. "One corrupt government official replaced the outgoing one and that is all," Zakirbek, a 49-year-old teacher, told IRIN, pessimistically. "The new government turned out to be very soft, while they need to be tough during this difficult period," Alymbai, another teacher from Osh, told IRIN. "As you see, some people have started to illegally occupy land, mobs change one official after another. They need to put an end to that lack of authority, otherwise the country will fall into chaos and civil conflict. We do not want to even imagine the consequences of such a scenario," he warned. Meanwhile, there is growing interest in emigration and leaving the country altogether, especially among the Russian minority. "First of all, the new authorities have not clearly proclaimed their position towards minorities. This uncertainty makes people want to run away. Secondly, the looting of businesses, shops and companies has led to the unemployment of Russians in the city," Valerii Vishnevskii, chairman of the Slavic Fund, a local civic group to tackle the problems of the Russian minority, told IRIN in Bishkek. Anatoliy Klyus, head of the Russian cultural association, Commonwealth, in Osh, said that ethnic minorities were concerned over a lack of substantive authority and the administration's inefficiency. Ethnic minority groups expect solid measures from the new authorities to stabilise the situation and establish a clear ethnic policy, Adyljan Abidov, head of the local Civic Initiatives Support Centre NGO, told IRIN in Osh, adding that ethnic minorities were also interested in whether representatives from these groups would be able to take part in the new government.
Crisis Group 4 May 2005 Kyrgyzstan: After the Revolution The ousting of President Askar Akaev in March, ending his increasingly authoritarian fourteen-year rule, was a major step, but as Kyrgyzstan heads toward July presidential elections, the risk of instability remains high. New leaders need to undertake serious reform to redress imbalances created by Akaev's centralisation of power and weak state institutions. They must also confront a looming economic crisis, a wave of land seizures, criminal groups that pose a growing security risk, and, ultimately, the north-south split. The first priority is re-establishing control throughout the country and holding free and fair elections. There is a limited amount the international community can do to help. The Kyrgyz have created their chance to move forward. It is up to their leaders to make sure ordinary people see real change, not merely different names at the top. Crisis Group reports and briefing papers are available on our website: www.crisisgroup.org .
AFP Myanmar ethnic group surrenders arms: reportYANGON, April 30 (AFP) - More than 800 members of a former ethnic army in Myanmar's Shan state have handed over their weapons to the military government, 14 years after signing a ceasefire, state media reported Saturday. Palaung State Liberation Army (PSLA) in northern Shan state, which had signed a ceasefire in 1991, handed over the weapons after a series of talks with the military, the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper said. "It has full confidence in the tatmadaw (military) government and has made a resolve to always stay loyal to the state," the newspaper quoted PSLA chairman Aik Mone as saying. He also reportedly called on other ethnic groups to abandon their arms. No reason was given for the decision to give up their weapons. Lieutenant General Thein Sein, first secretary of the junta's ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), and other top military officials attended the handover ceremony in Mangton Township in northern Shan State, the paper said. The PSLA surrendered 420 assorted arms, including mortars, guns, rocket launchers, pistols, walkie-talkies and among others, the paper said. Despite the ceasefire, the newspaper said the PSLA's weapons had contributed to unrest in the region and that the armed group was extorting money from residents in northern Shan state. PSLA is the second ethnic group to surrender its weapons this month, after the 11th Brigade of the Shan State National Army handed over its arms. Seventeen armed ethnic groups and splinter groups have signed ceasefires with the military government.
BBC 8 May 2005 Junta opponents deny Burma blasts The government blamed the attacks on insurgents Opponents of Burma's military regime have denied involvement in blasts on Saturday which left 11 dead in Rangoon. The bombs - at two busy supermarkets and a Thai trade fair - were the worst attacks of their kind in many years. The junta quickly blamed three ethnic groups, as well as the self-proclaimed pro-democracy government in exile. The Karen and Shan groups denied any involvement, while the opposition party - led by democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi - condemned the violence. The near-simultaneous blasts struck at about 1500 local time (0800 GMT) on Saturday. According to the official New Light of Myanmar newspaper, the bombs had been hidden inside bags and triggered by timing devices. Along with the 11 dead, more than 150 people were injured in the blasts that caused serious damage to the buildings, pictures on state TV showed. Although one device exploded at the Thai trade fair, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he believed his nationals had not been explicitly targeted and that the matter was an internal Burmese affair. A C-130 cargo plane flew into Burma on Sunday to bring home the 200-plus Thai nationals who were participating in the fair. Heightened alert Security in Rangoon had been stepped up since a bomb blast at a market in the second city of Mandalay nearly two weeks ago. Two women died and 13 people were hurt in that attack. At the time, the military government blamed an unnamed group of insurgent destructive elements who, it said, wanted to disturb the stability of the country. Burma has been ruled by a repressive military junta for the last decade and a half, prompting economic stagnation and international condemnation. The junta has been led by three generals wielding almost absolute power. But in-fighting and a lack of transparency have generated regular rumours of power struggles at the top. On Sunday, those accused by the junta of involvement in the blasts suggested the military themselves may be involved. "We don't know exactly who was behind it," said Sann Aung of the Thai-based National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, which has led a government in exile since the military rejected Aung San Suu Kyi's 1990 election victory. "The regime may have caused this bomb blast and then blamed the opposition," he said, quoted by the Reuters news agency.
washingtonpost.com 30 Apr 2005 Nepal King Lifts State of Emergency By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA The Associated Press Saturday, April 30, 2005; 5:35 PM KATMANDU, Nepal -- Nepalese soldiers shot and wounded five activists on a college campus and authorities banned protests in parts of the capital on Saturday, as King Gyanendra's decision to lift a three-month-old state of emergency apparently did little to restore democracy or ease tensions. Gyanendra imposed emergency rule in the constitutional monarchy on Feb. 1, after firing the government, seizing absolute power and suspending civil liberties in a move condemned at home and abroad. He justified the move by saying the ousted leaders had failed to hold parliamentary elections or quell a communist insurgency. The government announced on Saturday that the state of emergency had been lifted. But, despite the move, the king still rules without an elected government or parliament and there has been no word on the release of hundreds of political workers jailed under emergency rule. "There is a lot more the king has to do, like free political leaders and lift all restrictions, before we can say emergency rule has been totally lifted," said Mahesh Acharya of the Himalayan country's largest political party, the Nepali Congress. Later Saturday, authorities stepped up security around Katmandu and banned protests in parts of Katmandu, even as major political parties prepared for rallies Sunday to observe May Day _ the traditional labor holiday. Elsewhere, Royal Nepalese Army soldiers shot and injured five student activists at a college campus in the town of Mahendranagar, about 400 miles west of Katmandu. An army official in Katmandu said on condition of anonymity that soldiers raided the college on Saturday after getting a tip that Maoist insurgents were meeting there. The soldiers fired at students because they tried to flee, he said, but he acknowledged there were no rebels on campus. This Himalayan country has been in turmoil since Gyanendra, 55, suddenly assumed the crown in 2001 after his brother, King Birendra, was gunned down in a palace massacre apparently committed by Birendra's son, the crown prince, who also died. Ten members of the royal family were killed. Although the constitution limits emergency rule to three months _ a period expiring Sunday _ the king had been widely expected to extend it. The surprise lifting of the state of emergency followed the king's return on Friday from visits to China, Indonesia and Singapore, where leaders pressed him to restore democracy. On the sidelines of an African-Asian Summit in Indonesia days ago, Gyanendra met several leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. Annan urged Nepal to "return to constitutional rule as soon as possible," adding that he had made this clear to the king. The meeting with Singh was crucial, because India _ a key arms source for Nepal's fight against the communist insurgency _ suspended military aid after Gyanendra's power grab. Singh agreed to resume it after Gyanendra reportedly assured him that Nepal would restore democracy. India's External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh welcomed Gyanendra's announcement Saturday, but said the process should move ahead with the release of political detainees, lifting of media curbs and installation of an interim government representing all parties.
washingtonpost.com 3 May 2005 New Zealand Boosts Visa Controls By RAY LILLEY The Associated Press Tuesday, May 3, 2005; 4:22 AM WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- New Zealand's government Tuesday ordered an overhaul of the way it processes visa applications after admitting that two former officials from Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime entered the country _ and that one had applied for residency. "We will act to defend our borders" against immigration cheats, Prime Minister Helen Clark said after an unnamed former Iraqi diplomat and his wife were ordered to leave the country. In a separate case, Immigration Minister Paul Swain ordered that the entry visas granted to a second Iraqi man and his wife also be revoked, and the couple ordered to leave. Anti-immigration lawmaker Winston Peters identified the man as former Minister for Agriculture and Agrarian Reform Amer Mahdi Alkhashali." "He was in Saddam Hussein's government at the same time that hundreds of thousands of Kurds were losing their lives under a regime of genocide," Peters told parliament. Swain called a news conference to admit that an Iraqi man of that name was in the country, traveling on an Iraqi passport but said he was unable to confirm the man was a former Cabinet minister or senior official in Saddam's regime. "He's not a security risk ... but clearly he's a person in the Saddam regime, shouldn't be here and needs to go," Swain told TV One's "CloseUp" current affairs program. Swain then announced that officials in New Zealand would immediately begin processing visa applications from people in what he called 54 "high risk states." He said he had lost confidence in overseas staff who currently process the visas. Swain did not explain what the category "high risk states" meant, but said it included Iraq. It emerged later that both Iraqi men had had their entry visas approved by New Zealand Embassy staff in Bangkok, Thailand's capital. The embassy in Bangkok processes all visa applications from Asia and the Middle East, which account for about 90 percent of requests from 54 countries deemed "high risk." It was at the center of corruption charges in 2003, but Swain said Tuesday he had been assured by officials that there was now no corruption in the Bangkok office. "Clearly there is going to be a further look into that," he said.
BBC 14 May 2005 Stigma of life in 'Traitors' Village' By Tim Butcher BBC, Dahaniya In Gaza, a community of Arabs accused of collaborating with Israel live under Israeli protection. I knew he was a collaborator, and he knew I knew he was a collaborator, but the 50-year-old sheikh still danced around the issue. "It is you who said 'collaborator'. I say I am someone who had to do something because my life was in danger.'' He was looking at me askance, from under a pristine, white headdress, pulling on a cigarette as he skilfully delivered this subtle piece of semantic revisionism. Sheikh Shtiwe Shtiwe Ermillat has said this a thousand times before, I thought to myself, as our conversation continued. It is here Arabs who helped the Jewish state have ended up, corralled together in a sort of dusty witness protection programme The tribal elder was charming, he was candid and, for a brief moment, he was almost convincing, but I could not help wondering how his reasoning would stand up to a mob of Palestinians if they ever got a hold of him. Outside his modest single-storey home I saw the answer. Less than a grenade's throw away, was a high, well-maintained security fence manned round the clock by heavily-armed Israeli soldiers. Protection The sheikh and the 350 other Arabs who live in this tiny, dusty corner of Gaza - Palestinian land occupied by Israel since the 1967 war - have to be protected by the Jewish state. In the eyes of many Palestinians, the village of Dahaniya is "the village of traitors'". Arabs who helped the Jewish state have ended up here, corralled together in a sort of dusty witness protection programme. Some are Egyptian, Bedouin tribesmen who helped the Israeli army during its 1970s campaigns in the nearby Sinai peninsula, and others are Palestinians, who sold out, working as informers for Israel's notoriously unscrupulous Shin Bet spy agency during the first and second intifadas. Attack No-one from the village is allowed through the security fence into Gaza any more. Ten years ago a woman from here went to the market in the closest Gazan village of Rafah. With Israel's transfer this summer of Gaza to Palestinian control, what is to become of the "village of traitors''? She was kidnapped, beaten, held incommunicado for a month and only released after the intervention of senior Israeli intelligence figures. No-one doubts what would have happened if it had been a man, not a woman. "They would have turned him into kebab,'' Abed Shtiwe said trying to make a joke. None of the villagers I was with laughed. I could not help feeling sorry for many of them. Handover In the eyes of most Palestinians, they sold their souls by working with Israel, but what have they got in exchange? The right to live in a sandy, litter-strewn village, surrounded on all sides by hostile Israeli soldiers. Last year the village soccer pitch was churned into a building site by Israeli tanks. There was no explanation, no apology. But the Dahaniya question is about to come to a head. With Israel's transfer this summer of Gaza to Palestinian control, what is to become of the "village of traitors''? The problem is that not many Jewish Israelis want Arab collaborators moving in next door A high-level defence ministry committee has convened to consider all options, but one thing is certain, it will not be safe for all the villagers to remain. Mohammed Shtiwe, the 17-year-old son of the sheikh, spoke for many when he said he wanted a future in Israel. "All my life I have lived under Israeli control. I don't even know any Palestinians well. My future must be in Israel,'' he said. Stigma Tatty though the village is, by the standards of Gaza, it is rather upmarket. Many of the men are given day passes to enter Israel to work, mostly as farm labourers. The work is hard and not that well paid, but by comparison with the Palestinians in Gaza, which is famously crowded and devoid of employment, the villagers of Dahaniya are well-off. "We were allowed a family day last year when my cousin from Gaza came here. And when he saw my jeans, he said: 'Those cost £75. How can you afford jeans that cost £75?'" Mohammed explained. "Sometimes I speak to them on the phone and they tell me they have no work, no money and no future. I don't want to be a part of that.'' The problem is that not many Jewish Israelis want Arab collaborators moving in next door. They might have helped Israel, but the stigma of being a collaborator is an ugly stain for any community. 'Old Testament-style brutality' Earlier this year, Palestinians elsewhere in the occupied territories meted out justice to a convicted Arab collaborator. In front of a large crowd, Muhammad Mansour was beaten, shot at close range in the side of the head and then the mother of one of the men he betrayed was then called forward to stab his lifeless corpse and pluck out his eyes. It was a display of Old Testament-style brutality and I wondered if it might one day be applied to the villagers of Dahaniya. Many of them, like the 17-year-old Mohammed, are the sons or grandsons of Arabs who collaborated, so perhaps they would be let off. But does not the Old Testament say something about the sins of the father being visited on his offspring?
TNA 28 Apr 2005 Prayers, religious ceremony mark mosque massacre anniversary PATTANI, Apr 28 (TNA) – Islamic leaders and local residents today led a quiet day of Muslim prayers to mark the first anniversary of the massacre at Krue Se Mosque in Thailand’s southern border province of Pattani, where 32 suspected Muslim militants hiding in the mosque were gunned down by the military. Coinciding with the maulit ceremony to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, today’s event saw local leaders, tambon officials, members of the Krue Se mosque committee and local residents from tambon Tanyonglulo conduct a sessions of afternoon prayers for peace in the troubled southern border region. But despite the peaceful nature of the event, the suspicions of the security services appear to have been roused, and a heavy security presence of police and military officers moved into the area yesterday to ensure strict order. Pol. Maj. Gen. Thani Thawichsri, Deputy Commissioner of the Provincial Police Region 9, denied that the security services had singled out the anniversary of the Krue Se massacre as a reason for an increased security presence, but noted that militants were constantly looking for openings to carry out attacks.
washingtonpost.com 14 May 2005 Uzbek Crowd Storms Prison In Anti-Government Protest At Least 12 Killed In Day of Clashes By Peter Finn Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, May 14, 2005; A18 MOSCOW, May 13 -- Widespread resentment over a government campaign against alleged Islamic extremists in the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan exploded into violence Friday when protesters stormed a prison and released thousands of inmates. Many of the freed prisoners joined in an anti-government revolt in which at least 12 people had died by day's end. The clashes in the eastern city of Andijon climaxed with troops opening fire on protesters in a central square and storming a nearby government building where a number of police officers were being held hostage, according to news reports, government statements and telephone interviews with residents. Uzbekistan, a former Soviet republic that hosts a U.S. air base used in the war in Afghanistan, has an authoritarian government that has tried to suppress all but officially sanctioned Islamic groups. Friday's violence broke out less than two months after the government of neighboring Kyrgyzstan, which also has a U.S. base, was toppled by protests that began in the provinces. Facing one of the most serious challenges to his 15 years of rule, President Islam Karimov flew to Andijon on Friday, apparently seeking to prevent the unrest from spreading, reports from Uzbekistan said. Karimov has yet to appear in public in the city. The riots were sparked by the prosecution of 23 local businessmen on charges of membership in an illegal group called Akramiya, which supports jailed Islamic leader Akram Yuldashev. Uzbek authorities also charge that the businessmen had ties with a larger radical Islamic network called Hizb ut-Tahrir, which seeks the restoration of the Caliphate, or a super-Islamic state. The government has linked Hizb ut-Tahrir to a series of bombings last year in Tashkent, the capital. Activists with the organization insist that they reject violence, although they propagate vitriolic anti-Western and anti-Semitic views. The government has responded harshly; carrying a Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflet is punishable by several years in prison. Protesters fled the square after the shooting Friday, and government forces appeared to be in control of the area late in the day, though sporadic gunfire continued. Opposition figures said the death toll was much higher than the 12 reported by government statements and news agencies. In a statement on national television, the government said negotiations for the release of the captives had failed and it was compelled to use force because rioters were also holding women and children hostage. In statements to local reporters, the protesters denied that they had seized women and children. Separately on Friday, in Tashkent, a suspected suicide bomber was shot and killed outside the Israeli Embassy. Uzbek officials later said the man was carrying a wooden object that guards mistook for explosives as he approached the embassy. In July 2004, the U.S. and Israeli embassies in Tashkent, as well as the general prosecutor's office, were targeted by suicide bombers. Four Uzbeks were killed in those attacks, and seven people, all locals, were injured. Shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, Uzbekistan granted American forces rights to establish an air base, which has been used to support the Afghan war. The United States also maintains close counter-terrorism and intelligence cooperation with Uzbek authorities. The Bush administration has praised Uzbekistan for its cooperation in the war on terrorism. Human rights groups have documented widespread cases of torture and abuse in the country, which they say have generated anger against the government of the largely Muslim country. The indicted Andijon businessmen have denied the charges against them. Their relatives and supporters had been peacefully protesting outside the courthouse since the trial began in February. The prosecution of the businessmen, and the closure of their enterprises, has resulted in the loss of as many as 1,000 jobs, residents told the BBC. As the trial finished this week, prosecutors called for lengthy prison sentences for all of the defendants, sparking a wave of anger across the city, according to Saidzhakhon Zainabitdinov, chairman of a local human rights group. "The prosecutor's speech caused these huge rallies," Zainabitdinov said in a phone interview from Andijon. "All the protests became more intense." Early Friday morning, shortly after midnight, a group of armed men stormed the local prison, freeing at least 2,000 prisoners, including the 23 businessmen, according to Zainabitdinov. Intense gunfire continued, and by daylight, large groups of armed men were roaming the streets and had taken control of a number of government buildings in the city center. There were also reports that a number of soldiers and police were taken hostage by the protesters, including 10 policemen tied up in the main local government building. "If the army is going to storm, if they're going to shoot, we are ready to die instead of living as we are living now," Abduvosid Egomov, one of the freed businessmen, told the Associated Press from inside a seized government compound in the city center Friday afternoon. "The Uzbek people have been reduced to living like dirt." Another one of the freed businessmen, speaking to the Andijon correspondent for a Russia-based Uzbek news site, called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to mediate between the protesters and government forces. "We don't want mass bloodshed and victims," the businessman, who described himself as one of the 23 defendants, told the Ferghana.ru Web site. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday evening that the situation was stabilizing and was an "internal matter" for the Uzbek authorities. As well as convicted criminals, the Andijon prison held many political prisoners who were accused or convicted of Islamic extremism and links to terrorist organizations. Human rights groups say many of those swept up in the government's campaign were innocent of the charges or merely religious dissenters. The arrests, coupled with the area's grinding poverty, have led to resentment that has further radicalized the population, according to analysts. "There is acute dissatisfaction with Karimov's regime, and it's fueled by police-judicial terror against non-sanctioned Islamic movements and very strong poverty," said Sergei Panarin of the Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. "If you don't provide any room for a constitutional opposition, eventually you are going to get an opposition that has a religious or Islamic character."
Reuters 15 May 2005 Uzbeks Bury Dead After Troops Fire On Protesters By REUTERS Filed at 7:37 p.m. ET ANDIZHAN, Uzbekistan (Reuters) - Families of hundreds killed in Uzbekistan when troops opened fire to quell protests buried their dead on Sunday as witnesses told of bloody mayhem in which women and children were shot ``like rabbits.'' In a single incident in Andizhan on Friday, witnesses said soldiers had fired on a crowd including women and children and their own police comrades who were begging them not to shoot. Hundreds of bodies lay overnight outside the eastern town's School No. 15 after the massacre until they were removed in the early hours on Saturday, the witnesses, who did not wish to be named, said. Islam Karimov, autocratic president of the mainly Muslim Central Asian state, said troops were given no order to fire in Andizhan. He blamed the violence on rebels belonging to the outlawed Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. Hizb ut-Tahrir denied involvement. A Russian news agency, meanwhile, reported Uzbek troops had fired on civilians trying to flee into neighboring Kyrgyzstan to escape the violence in their homeland. Uzbek troops moved in on protesters on Friday after armed rebels freed comrades being held in jail during their trial for religious extremism. They took 10 police hostage and occupied Andizhan's local government building backed by several thousand sympathizers. ``They shot at us like rabbits,'' a boy in his late teens said, recalling the horror of troops rampaging through the town square where some 3,000 protesters had rallied to support the rebels. Two days after the uprising in Uzbekistan's Ferghana Valley, blood and body parts could still be seen on sidewalks and in gutters in the center of this leafy city of 300,000 people. The United States, for whom Karimov is a close ally in the war on terrorism after providing Washington with an airbase in 2001, has urged the conflicting sides to show restraint. It says political change in the tightly controlled ex-Soviet state should come only through peaceful means. In Britain, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw denounced ``a clear abuse of human rights, a lack of democracy and a lack of openness'' and called on Uzbekistan to allow in the Red Cross and foreign observers to establish what happened. Tashkent reacted angrily, Russia's RIA news agency said, saying Uzbek forces had not fired on demonstrators. Karimov on Saturday said 10 police and troops had been killed and a higher number of rebels had also died, but he gave no figure for civilians killed. Human rights campaigner Saidzhakhon Zainabitdinov estimated up to 500 people may have been killed in the ensuing operation to crush the protests, which would make it the bloodiest incident in Uzbekistan's post-Soviet history. BURYING BODIES At one of Andizhan's cemeteries, grave digger Wahhabjon Mominov said on Sunday he had already dug four graves in the morning to take victims of Friday's violence. The facade of the two-storey School No. 15 was pockmarked with at least 20 bullet holes. Pools of wet blood mixed with water and dirt could be seen in the blocked open drains. A blood-soaked baseball cap lay in bushes. Witnesses said that on Saturday, when soldiers started removing bodies, a handful of wounded tried to get away but were shot dead on the spot. ``Those wounded who tried to get away were finished with single shots from a Kalashnikov rifle,'' said one witness, a businessman. ``Three or four soldiers were assigned to killing the wounded.'' The bloodshed prompted up to 4,000 people to flee to the closed border with Kyrgyzstan. ``There have been about 1,000 people in the column I was in moving toward the border,'' Russia's Interfax news agency quoted one of the refugees as saying. ``Uzbek troops shot at us several times although we shouted to them that we are civilians,'' he said. ``The last time we came under fire was when we were breaking through to Kyrgyzstan. There were wounded and as far as I know four people were killed.'' Nearby southern Kyrgyzstan, also part of the Ferghana Valley, is home to many ethnic Uzbeks and was the starting point for violent protests earlier this year which led to the overthrow of President Askar Akayev. The Kyrgyz coup followed the peaceful overthrow of established leaders in Ukraine and Georgia. The firm rule Karimov exerts on his country would appear to rule out any such peaceful revolutions taking place in Uzbekistan.
BBC 29 Apr 2005 The legacy of Agent Orange Vietnam doctors believe the effects of Agent Orange are ongoing Thirty years after hostilities ended between the US and Vietnam, relations remain strained by one of America's most notorious weapons during the war, the chemical Agent Orange. The Vietnamese believe that the powerful weed killer - the use of which was intended to destroy crops and jungle providing cover for the Vietcong - is responsible for massively high instances of genetic defects in areas that were sprayed. Nguyen Trong Nhan, from the Vietnam Association Of Victims Of Agent Orange and a former president of Vietnamese Red Cross, believes the use of Agent Orange was a "war crime". He told BBC World Service's One Planet programme that Vietnam's poverty was a direct result of the use of Agent Orange. "They are the poorest and the most vulnerable people - and that is why Vietnam is a very poor country," he said. "We help the people who are victims of the Agent Orange and the dioxins, but the capacity of our government is very limited." Contaminated areas Campaigners such as Mr Nguyen believe they have been left with little choice but to resort to legal action, and in 2004 took the chemical companies that produced Agent Orange to court in the US. But last month an American Federal District Judge dismissed the case on the grounds that use of the defoliant did not violate international law at the time. An appeal has been lodged against this decision. The US sprayed 80m litres of poisonous chemicals during Operation Ranchhand. There were many Agents used, including Pink, Green and White, but Agent Orange was used the most - 45m litres sprayed over a 10th of Vietnam. It was also used - mostly in secret - over parts of neighbouring Cambodia. It's not going to go away, because it affects a huge number of people in Vietnam Andrew Wells-Dang, Fund for Reconciliation and Development But Agent Orange in particular was laced with dioxins - extremely toxic to humans. Dioxins accumulate in the body to cause cancers. Anyone eating or drinking in contaminated areas then receives an even higher dose. Spraying stopped in 1971, after more than 6,000 missions and growing public disquiet. But the ground in many areas of Vietnam remains contaminated by Agent Orange. A number of people in these areas believe they are victims of the chemical. One woman said the herbicide had caused a skin disease which gave her "great suffering". "If the US and Vietnamese governments could care for people like me, that would be comforting," she added. Another man said his legs have "wasted away" as a result of Agent Orange. "When I realise I have been contaminated with poisonous chemicals, and the US government hasn't done anything to help, I feel very sad, and it makes me cry," he added. "Now I always get severe headaches. My first child has just died - he had physical deformities. The second one is having headaches like me." Cancers and disease Food and supplies are still delivered to victims of Agent Orange. Many were not born when the US sprayed the area - but there is strong evidence the chemicals are still having an effect. A disproportionately large number of children in the areas affected are born with defects, both mental and physical. Many are highly susceptible to cancers and disease. And Vietnamese doctors are convinced Agent Orange is to blame. Agent Orange was intended to defoliate the jungle "This is due to the US sprayings," said Dr Hong Tien Dong, village doctor who has lived in the area all his life. "Before, in this area, the environment was quite clean. "Now it has become like this." In the late 1990s, a Canadian study tested soil, pond water, fish and duck tissue, as well as human blood samples, and found dangerously high levels of dioxin travelling up the food chain to humans. Dioxin concentrations have been found to be 13 times higher than average in the soil of affected areas, and, in human fat tissue, 20 times as high. A Japanese study, comparing areas sprayed with those that were not, found children were three times more likely to be born with cleft palates, or extra fingers and toes. There are eight times as many hernias in such children, and three times as many born with mental disabilities. In 2001, scientists found that people living in an Agent Orange "hotspot" at Binh-Hoa near Ho Chi Minh City have 200 times the background amount of dioxin in their bloodstreams. Humanitarian opportunity America "normalised" relations with Vietnam 10 years ago, and the country has now embraced the free market. No representative of the US government in Vietnam would talk to One Planet about Agent Orange. However, in 1984, chemical companies that manufactured the Agent paid $180m into a fund for United States veterans following a lawsuit. They did not, however, admit any wrongdoing. Meanwhile in 2004 - at the same time Mr Nguyen first brought his lawsuit - a joint-US-Vietnamese project to examine the long-term genetic impact of Agent Orange was cancelled. US Vietnam veterans won money from Agent Orange makers in 1984 Some Americans in Vietnam fear that the legacy of Agent Orange is overshadowing the new friendship between the two countries. "Many of the other obstacles have been dealt with - trade and exchange and diplomatic relations," said Andrew Wells-Dang, from the Fund For Reconciliation And Development - an American organisation set up in the 1980s with the aim of improving relations between the countries. He pointed out that the US has provided funding for clearing mines that it dropped on Vietnam during the war. "We think the US should do the same with Agent Orange," he added. "It's not going to go away, because it affects a huge number of people in Vietnam. "We would see this as an opportunity for the US to take humanitarian action so that it doesn't become an obstacle between the countries.".
2 May 2005 www.armenialiberty.org Kocharian May Meet Erdogan In May By Heghine Buniatian President Robert Kocharian could meet Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan later this month to discuss ways of normalizing relations between Armenia and Turkey, his spokesman told RFE/RL on Monday. Victor Soghomonian, the presidential press secretary, did not deny a Turkish newspaper report saying that the two leaders plan to follow up on their high-profile exchange of letters which was sparked by worldwide commemorations of the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey. But he added that “there are no concrete agreements yet” on the venue and date of their meeting. Citing sources in Erdogan’s office, the “Zaman” daily reported on Sunday that the meeting is likely to take place in Warsaw on the sidelines of a summit of Council of Europe member states scheduled for May 15-16. “The high-ranking officials of the two countries will for the first time discuss the genocide claims face to face,” the paper said. A government source in Yerevan confirmed that the likelihood of the meeting between is great. Armenian and Turkish leaders have had sporadic face-to-face encounters in the past but made no progress towards the improvement of bilateral ties after them. The first-ever talks between Kocharian and Erdogan would inevitably address the latter’s calls for the creation of a Turkish-Armenian commission of historians that would look into the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenians and determine if they constituted a genocide. The Turkish premier formally conveyed the offer to Yerevan in a letter to Kocharian last month. The Armenian leader effectively turned down the offer, saying Ankara should instead drop preconditions for establishing diplomatic relations with Yerevan and opening the Turkish-Armenian border. He also suggested that the two governments set up a commission that would tackle all issues of mutual concern. Reacting to Kocharian’s letter, Erdogan said the lifting of the Turkish embargo is conditional on an end to the Armenian campaign for international recognition of the genocide. In a newspaper interview published on Friday, he clarified that “political relations” with Yerevan could be established parallel to the joint genocide study. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, however, was quick to quash speculation about a major softening of Turkish policy on Armenia. Commenting on Erdogan’s statement, Gul said Ankara has no plans to reopen the Armenian border or establish diplomatic ties.
BBC 15 May 2005 'We should talk more about our past' By Bethany Bell BBC correspondent in Vienna Austria is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its State Treaty, which marked the end of 10 years of allied occupation after World War II. The debate on Austria's Nazi past is still open Despite having been annexed to Hitler's Third Reich, Austria did not share the fate of post-war Germany. In 1955 it was granted full independence and escaped the yoke of Communism. The anniversary has re-awakened the emotional debate as to whether Austria has done enough to confront its Nazi past. On 15 May 1955, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Leopold Figl, a concentration camp survivor, stepped out on the balcony of the Belvedere Palace in Vienna brandishing the newly-signed State Treaty. "Österreich ist Frei" - he declared - Austria is free. It was the end of 10 years of occupation by Britain, the United States, France and the Soviet Union. Fifty years on, the event is being marked by a huge party at the Belvedere - thrown by the Austrian government. Victims or perpetrators? But some Austrians are concerned that the festivities gloss over Austria's dark Nazi past. Brigitte Bailer from the Archive for the Austrian Resistance says she sometimes gets angry at the tone of the official ceremonies. "They leave out what role the Austrians had in the National Socialist regime. Nobody asks why these occupation forces stayed in Austria. "I think that's the worst way to present history to take some dates out of context. That way people are made to believe again that we are just victims, that history was unjust to the poor Austrians and all the uncomfortable questions are left out." It was the Allies who described Austria as Hitler's "first victim". But they also added that the country bore responsibility for its part in the war. For many years, official Austria clung to the victim description. It can't only be the question of condemning some people who took part in the Nazi tyranny and who persecuted Jews and minorities Werner Fasselabend Things began to change in the 1990s when Chancellor Franz Vranitzky acknowledged responsibility for Austrian involvement in Nazi crimes. In 1995, a fund to compensate Nazi victims was set up, and several other restitution packages have since been agreed. The Austrian President Heinz Fischer told the BBC that coming to terms with a brutal past was always painful, but that Austria's role as perpetrator was now established beyond doubt. But shadows of the past remain. Painful memories Jörg Haider's far-right party has been part of the coalition government since 2000. And the argument over victim and perpetrator is still very much alive. "It can't only be the question of condemning some people who took part in the Nazi tyranny and who persecuted Jews and minorities," said Werner Fasselabend from the ruling conservative party. "On the other hand you also have the situation that after the war, there wasn't really freedom for Austria and the Russians came and raped the women." Some Austrians feel there is too much emphasis on this period. But many others disagree. Recently there was widespread outcry after a far-right politician questioned the existence of the gas chambers. Veronika Mandorfer, a Vienna school teacher, said talking about the past is essential. "There are still too many things that have been covered up," she said. "My father never told me, but it was only two years ago that he told his grandchildren that when he was drafted into the army, he passed the Mauthausen concentration camp. He had never, ever talked about it before." However things are moving on. Students in Mrs Mandorfer's class have been talking to their grandparents about the period as part of a school project. "Many people died," said 13-year-old Gabi. "They didn't have a chance to live. It wasn't fair. I think 1945 is better because it was the end of the war.".
zaman.com 7 May 2005 Armenians Take Initiative to Remove Court Condition in Belgium By Selcuk Gultasli Published: Saturday Belgian Armenians intensified their activities to amend the draft bill, which contains a provision for jail sentence and fine, for those who deny the Armenian "genocide". Claiming that there are too many requirements for the jail sentence and the fine in the bill, Armenian groups took the support of 15 senators required to amend the bill. Hence it passed the Parliament and will be discussed in the Senate and may be sent back to Parliament for re-negotiation. The news that the draft may be amended increased the discomfort of the Belgian Turkish society as it was making efforts to stop the present bill. The draft accepted in Parliament with 108 "yes", 21"abstain," and zero "no" on April 21, makes the decision of an international court necessary for the penalty to be imposed. The fact that there is not any court decision that recognizes the Armenian "genocide" prompted Belgian Armenians to take action. Armenian associations bombarded Belgian senators with messages for the last two weeks to remove the requirement of court approval. The signatures of 15 senators, who will set up the debate for the draft upon the intensified efforts of Armenians, were gathered two days before, on May 5. If 15 signatures had not been gathered, the draft would have been accepted in Parliament in its original form and court approval would have been required for the penalty to be imposed. In the new draft, it is highlighted that European Parliament (EP) decision or any country to enact legislation will be enough for the ones who deny "genocide" to be imposed penalty. The EP accepted the Armenian "genocide" with a controversial decision in 1987 and recognized "genocide" with legislation enacted in France in 2001.
Reuters 8 May 2005 Belgium to put two Rwandans on trial over genocide By REUTERS Filed at 6:33 a.m. ET BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium will put two Rwandan men accused of playing a role in their country's 1994 genocide on trial on Monday under a controversial war crimes law. Prosecutors accuse half-brothers Etienne Nzabonimana and Samuel Ndashyikirwa of helping machete-wielding militias kill some 50,000 people and rewarding them with beer. The trial is the latest in Belgium to concern the brutal ethnic bloodbath that killed 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in just 100 days in the former Belgian colony. It is to last seven weeks and call on some 180 witnesses -- some of them flown in to Brussels from Rwanda. The court will try the two men under a universal jurisdiction law allowing Belgium to try war crimes suspects even if they are not Belgian and their crimes were committed abroad. Prosecutors accuse them of helping the ``Interahamwe'' extremist Hutu militia by lending them trucks and plying them with beer after the killings, among other crimes. Nzabonimana and Ndashyikirwa, who were successful businessmen in their home towns of Kibungo and Kirwa in the country's southeast, insist they are innocent. Belgium has reformed the law on universal jurisdiction since it convicted four Rwandans, including two nuns, in 2001, for their role in the genocide. Lawsuits swamped the courts after that trial, as people filed grievances against former U.S. President Bush senior and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon among others, causing Belgium a diplomatic headache. Under the reformed law, the suspect to be tried must live in Belgium -- which was the case for Nzabonimana and Ndashyikirwa when they were arrested in 2002.
Zaman.com 28 Apr 2005 Cypriot Greek Confessions over Massacre and Dissolution Cypriot Greek leader Tasos Papadopulous' "genocide plan" was the final link in a "series of crimes and confessions" by the Cypriot Greeks against Cypriot Turks and Turkey. Mihalis Papapetru who was a spokesperson during the Glafkos Klerides period , said in a statement he gave this month that "State and non-State elements including me trained students to use weapons in order to kill Turks." Greek Member of Parliament Hristos Burguridis had pointed out in his statement in December that the attitudes towards Turks were criminal and said, "I am ashamed of what I did against Turks; a Turkish woman breast-fed me as a baby." Former member of the National Organization of Cypriot Combatants (EOKA), Andreas Dimitriu said in regard to the Tashkent massacre, an example of just one genocide committed against Turks 30 years ago: "Whatever we did we did with the legitimate forces of the state." Greek Justice and Public Order Minister Doros Theodoru confessed that the administration had hampered finding a solution for the Cyprus issue in his statement last month. In a statement he delivered over the weekend, Former Greek Leader Klerides had declared that the issue had come to the point of finding a solution in 1973 and confessed: "If I had said we were reaching an agreement with Turks, there would not have been a military operation 1974; I made a huge mistake."
The New Times (Kigali) 29 Apr 2005 Apologize for Genocide, French Film Directors Tell Paris By James Munyaneza Kigali Two French filmmakers have accused their government for failing to own up to its evident dark hand in Rwanda's 1994 Genocide. David Raphael Glucksmann and Pierre Mezerette, producers of 'Tuez Les Tous' (Kill them all), a movie that tries to depict the French government's role in the Genocide, say it is time the current administration under Jacques Chirac recognizes the heinous support its predecessor regime of Francois Mitterrand gave to the genocidal leadership, which culminated in the deaths of an estimated one million ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates. The youthful directors, both in their mid-twenties, were addressing a high-profile audience shortly after the screening of the film at Intercontinental Hotel. Annick Kayitesi, 25, the only survivor in her family, played a leading role in the making of the movie. The crowd included Prime Minister Bernard Makuza, cabinet ministers, MPs, the French Ambassador Dominique Dercherf and other members of the Diplomatic Corps. "This film is an alarm to our government that it should not continue with the silence. We hope it will make our President come to Kigali one day and apologize," a troubled Raphael told the audience of about 400. The film that is presently being shown in many corners of the country, premiered in Kigali on the night of April 7, at Amahoro National Stadium, the day when Rwandans commemorated the eleventh Genocide anniversary. The film, which was largely shot in Rwanda and bits in the French capital Paris and UN Headquarters in New York, shows a strong direct military and political backing the French government gave to both the governments of Juvenal Habyarimana and Theodore Sindikubwabo, in the execution of the hundred-day mayhem. It depicts a direct French military involvement in the 1990-94 war and Genocide, with the first arrival at Kigali International Airport (then Kanombe Airport) on October 4, 1990 - three days after RPA's invasion - of a contingent of French soldiers to bolster Habyarimana's forces after he had talked to Mitterrand by telephone. It shows how the Mitterrand repeatedly denied his forces' involvement in the war, and yet in reality they were fighting alongside government forces in Cyumba and Kisaro (then Buyoga) districts in Byumba, Ruhengeri and Kibuye provinces. The film also blames the slaughter of an estimated 50,000 Tutsis in Bisesero, Kibuye province - who had for weeks resisted the Interahamwe - on the arrival of French troops on June 28, 1994, under what was called 'Operation Zone Turquoise'. "The French government should recognize what it did, come to Kigali and apologize," said Mezerette, adding: "The truth is far beyond what we say in the film." Youth, Culture and Sports Minister Joseph Habineza praised the French producers, saying: "It is an encouragement and manifestation that there is no problem between the French and Rwandese peoples. The problem only lies with the French government." However, French Ambassador to Rwanda, Decherf, said his government was studying the extent of Paris' role. "The work is being done to clarify the exact responsibility. There is no denial of the responsibility in principle, we have to see through the historical truth and what exactly is the extent of the responsibility... this is a political move," Decherf said. Meanwhile, Joan Wangui reports that the film producer Raphael Glucksmann said that the idea of producing the film was to show the world's failure in stopping the Rwandan Genocide and the foreboding French role in the massacres. "Our film depicts the role that French soldiers played in training the militia, prior to the Genocide," he said adding that his idea to produce such a film was to 'inspire fellow Frenchmen to accept their role in the Genocide and ask for pardon'. Glucksmann together with two members of his team met President Paul Kagame to discuss more about the film and the signals it sends to both the Rwandan and French governments. Glucksmann told reporters that he admitted to President Kagame that France was indeed ashamed of its role in the Genocide. "I told him boldly that France is ashamed for having participated in the 1994 Genocide and my idea for the movie was none other than show our role," he said. Both governments have been at loggerheads since 1994, and Rwanda will soon institute a Commission of Inquiry into the French government's role in the Genocide. Ambassador Dercherf says Paris is ready to cooperate in the investigations. The film comes in the wake of the production of numerous genocide films that detail the 1994 Genocide. They include, a Hundred Days, Sometimes in April and Hotel Rwanda. Their similarity lies on the fact that they all show the failure of the West in stopping the Genocide. "The only way France can renew and reinforce its relationship with Rwanda is by first accepting its past mistakes and asking for forgiveness. Failure to do this will be like building a house on sand, with no concrete foundation," Glucksmann noted.
www.turkishweekly.net 13 May 2005 Algeria Asks France to Recognize Algerian Genocide Algeria asks France to admit its responsibility in genocide-like massacres and human rights abuses in Algeria before the independence. "The paradox of the massacres of May 8, 1945, is that when the heroic Algerian combatants returned from the fronts in Europe, Africa and elsewhere where they defended France's honor and interests… the French administration fired on peaceful demonstrators." Bouteflika said in a speech this week. French colonial forces mounted an air and ground offensive that lasted for several days against several eastern cities, particularly Sétif and Guelma, in response to the independence demonstrations. The Algerian government says the French offensive left 45,000 people dead in these demonstrations. More than 1.5 million Algerians were killed in the War of Independence. Many were tortured by the French troops, however Paris has never officially accepted its responsibility and never apologized from Algeria. Experts say that France has to recognize massacres in Algeria, if not genocide and must pay compensations to Algeria and the families of the victims. It marks one of the darkest chapters in the history of Algeria and France, which ruled the North African country brutally from 1830 until 1962. France's ambassador to Algeria said in February that the Setif massacre was an "inexcusable tragedy," the most explicit comments by the French state on the event. "The Algerian people are still waiting for ... the declarations of the ambassador of France to be followed by a more convincing gesture," Bouteflika said in his speech. Several remembrance events were held across oil-rich Algeria, with more than 20,000 people, including ministers, taking part in a march on the same route protesters took in Setif in 1945. The repression sparked the anti-colonial movement and a long war of independence, costing the lives of 1.5 million Algerians, according to the government. “Massacres committed in Algeria is one of the most vivid examples of genocide in the past” said Dr. Davut Sahiner. “It was worse than Bosnia masscares or genocide in Hocali” added Dr. Sahiner. "The Algerian people have always been waiting for France to admit the acts perpetrated during the colonization period and the liberation war to pave the way for broader and new friendship and cooperation prospects," Bouteflika said. However Paris rejects all Algerian calls and ironically question other countries’ human rights records. LAND MINES Algeria also called on international help in removing millions of land mines France planted along its borders with Morocco and Tunisia during its war of independence. "We cannot detect anti-personnel mines with the technical means at our disposal," Junior Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia told an international anti-personnel mines conference in Algiers. Algeria says it has got rid of 8 million French mines but still has another 3 million to clear. French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said in an interview published on Sunday in Algerian daily El Watan that both countries needed to "look together at the past, in order to overcome the chapter most painful for our two peoples", but Barnier did not give any clue whether France will accept genocide committed in Algeria or not. French officials do not think that France should pay compensation to the victims of Algerian Genocide. After seeing its diplomatic and economic influence over Algeria weakened in recent years as the United States developed more oil interests and power in the region, France is trying to regain the upper hand. France sees the northern Africa as ‘French influence area’. Many Algerian political figures and historians, who call the massacre genocide, not only want an apology but demand compensation. "Sixty years later, France does not recognize its crimes against humanity," Algerian French-language newspaper La Tribune said on its front page. TENSION Accusations from Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika that France used similar crematoriums in Algeria as were used during the Nazi regime have caused tension between two countries. "The occupiers had chosen the way of genocide and termination. This went on during the fatal occupation process. Who remembers the shameful crematoriums that the occupiers built in Guelma? Those crematoriums are the same as the Nazis' death crematoriums" Bouteflika's messages were read in a panel in Setif University. Muselier, visiting Algeria to negotiate over French graves, gave a statement in Algeria saying, "Clarifying the realities is the responsibility of historians and researchers. Both governments have agreed to encourage research on the issue." French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier had also determined formerly that historians should be encouraged to examine the period. However France had accepted laws which blame other countries of being committing genocide. French politicians had argued that Armenian genocide allegations could not be left to historians. Dr. Mary Somcan says “French attitude is a clear double-standard”. “France made many massacres in their colonies. Algerian example is one of the worst one. However French politicians never accept their responsibility. Strangely they just question other nations’ mistakes. They blame Americans, British or Germans. They abuse Armenian issue to prevent Turkey’s EU bid. But it is understood that their hand are bloody and dirty”. The French Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday that examining and overcoming the past in the Algerian war and the colonial period would provide a common history and they believed that this would bring France and Algeria closer together. The Ministry said that in February the Algerian Ambassador in France had described the incidents as an "unforgivable tragedy and massacre". No French President or diplomat mention the word of ‘genocide’ for the Algerian Genocide. Abdulkerim Gazali, editor of the Algerian newspaper La Tribune, likened France's occupation of an independent and sovereign Algeria to Nazi Germany's occupation of many European countries and claimed this was racism. "According to which principles do the crimes of the French colonial period differ from Nazis?" he asked. "How dare France refuse to give the same rights to Algeria, when France went on blaming the post-Hitler Germany and demanding penitence from it?" Compiled by Jan SOYKOK, JTW News agencies 13 May 2005
Germany See Turkey
BBC 1 May 2005 Dachau survivors mark liberation The Dachau camp was liberated by US troops in 1945 Hundreds of people who survived the Dachau concentration camp in southern Germany have gathered to mark the day they were liberated by US troops. Some 30,000 people died in the camp before it was liberated by US soldiers on 29 April 1945. Dachau, near Munich, was the first camp to be built by the Nazis in March 1933 and lasted 12 years. The Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, said "human dignity had been trampled underfoot" there. Deep emotions During the ceremony he said that it was not enough to remember but urged people to also take active part in society to prevent such things from ever happening again. The camp, which opened two months after Adolf Hitler came to power in January 1933, served as a prototype for other labour camps. "This ceremony inevitably stirs up deep emotions in the former prisoners," General Andre Delpech, a French survivor said. A day after the camp was liberated, on 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin. The day chosen to mark the events has sparked controversy among a German Jewish group as it falls on the same day as Passover. During the Jewish holiday, the faithful are not allowed to leave their home towns meaning that many could not attend the ceremony.
BBC 2 May 2005 'Hitler's nurse' breaks silence Erna Flegel said Hitler became paranoid in his final days A survivor of Adolf Hitler's wartime bunker in Berlin has been tracked down, a German newspaper claims. The Berliner Zeitung relates 93-year-old Erna Flegel's account of the last days of World War II, under the headline "I was Hitler's nurse". Mrs Flegel said she stayed in the bunker after Hitler killed himself and was there when Soviet troops arrived. She said Hitler was so paranoid that he even suspected spies had filled his cyanide capsule with false poison. From January 1943 until the end of the war, Mrs Flegel's job was to give medical treatment to Hitler and his inner circle, she told the paper. She was interviewed by US secret service agents in 1945, but otherwise has kept silent about her experiences for the past 60 years, the Berliner Zeitung says. Now, however, she said she had decided to speak out, telling the paper: "I don't want to take my secret with me to the grave." 'Merciless' mother Mrs Flegel's story does not challenge what is already known, but does add new details. She said of Hitler: "By the end, he didn't trust anyone any more - not even the cyanide capsule he swallowed." She also recalled trying to save the lives of the six children of Josef Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda chief, but said his wife Magda, who poisoned them, was "merciless". Mrs Flegel said that after Hitler's suicide, Goebbels took over as leader, but no-one paid any attention to him. "His last subordinates shot themselves in succession," she said. "And those who didn't shoot themselves tried to flee." She said she remained, however. "I had to look after the wounded." In the newspaper interview, Mrs Flegel described the atmosphere in the bunker as the noise of approaching Soviet forces grew. "You could feel that the Third Reich was coming to an end," she said. "The radios stopped working and it was impossible to get information." Mrs Flegel added that when the Soviet troops arrived, they were well-behaved and advised her to lock her door. She said she stayed for several days, and was one of the last people to leave the bunker.
NYT 8 May 2005 Germans Still Finding New Moral Burdens of War By RICHARD BERNSTEIN ULM, Germany, May 4 - This attractive town on the Danube River is endowed with dozens of memorials dedicated to those who suffered in the two world wars, with one memorial in particular, a group of seven inscribed slabs surmounting a knoll in the main cemetery, serving officially as Ulm's all-inclusive and all-encompassing memorial to the victims of Nazism. But there is a local controversy about these memorials, and it reflects a larger fact of German life. Even now, on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, this country still has not settled exactly on how to remember the victims, or on whose suffering and losses are entitled to be commemorated. A small group of young people here has been getting attention in the local newspapers as it argued, in pamphlets and at public meetings that the array of Ulm memorials fails to honor one category: those who deserted the German Army, many of whom were executed during the war. "It's completely obvious that World War II was a horrific crime," said one of the young people, Johanna Nimrich, 18. "It's impossible to understand why people who participated in the war are honored, but those who resisted participation are not." Ms. Nimrich and the five other young people, who organized around opposition to the American invasion of Iraq, want to honor the deserters, who, in their view and in the view that prevails in Germany, were acting morally in response to a war defined by its immorality. Their demand, that a large work by the artist Hannah Stütz-Mentzel honoring the deserters be displayed permanently in some public place, is certainly a local issue, given only modest coverage by Germany's national press. But other thoughts and arguments have emerged in recent years as well, including an insistence by historians and others that Germany be allowed to mourn its own suffering in the war, not least the suffering caused by the Allied bombings. Meanwhile, also making themselves heard are members of the millions of ethnic German families who were deported from Eastern European countries like Poland and Czechoslovakia after the war, and who want public recognition of what they lost. "The trauma is too familiar, the moral burden weighed and accepted," Jürgen Leinemann, an essayist for the magazine Der Spiegel, wrote recently. "Now attentions are turning to Germany's own sufferings." Germany has had a long evolution in grappling with the war. In the early years, an embarrassed and ashamed wartime generation dealt with Nazism and the Nazi persecutions very delicately, if at all. "Even the scholarly scrutiny of the genocide of the Jewish people," Mr. Leinemann wrote, "was tentative and uncertain during those first three decades." But in the 1960's and 1970's, powerfully influenced by the war crimes trials of those years, the generation born during the war began to question its parents' complicity in the crimes of the Nazis. At the same time, figures like the novelists Günter Grass and Christa Wolf and student movement leaders like Joschka Fischer, now foreign minister, demanded a full and frank accounting of Germany's crimes, especially the persecution of the Jews. And by now, it is fair to say, there is very little official denial or even avoidance of the full horror of the Nazi crimes, which are fully taught in German schools and chronicled by hundreds of museums and exhibits throughout this country. Tellingly in this sense, Germany's end-of-war commemoration is Sunday, but what is perhaps the biggest related national event will take place Tuesday when the immense Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe will be officially opened in Berlin. It mainly consists of 2,711 dark gray concrete steles erected in a cemeterylike field in the heart of reunified Berlin, little more than a stone's throw from the Brandenburg Gate. The memorial's size and central location are widely seen here as testimony to the centrality and uniqueness of the Holocaust among the many crimes of the Nazis, as well as to the willingness of Germany to accept responsibility, both moral and material, for the Nazis' crimes. Also tellingly, in the wake of the decision to build the Holocaust memorial, several groups, including gays and Gypsies, or Roma, who were also persecuted by the Nazis, have demanded memorials of their own, as have members of families deported from the East. In this sense, the only thing that is different about Ulm, a town of more than 100,000 people on the banks of the Danube in southern Germany, is that it seems to be the only place to have given rise to a demand that a movement to honor the deserters from the Wehrmacht become part of the public commemoration. The roots of the Ulm initiative date back 18 years, when a group of people opposed to the draft in Germany commissioned Ms. Stütz-Mentzel, a local artist, to create a work dedicated to the deserters. Ms. Stütz-Mentzel produced a large metal sculpture that showed a series of slabs, from quite small to quite large, in which the smallest slab initiates a domino effect, causing the larger slabs to lean over. "The idea is that even the smallest level soldiers can influence higher ones," she said recently, in her studio. In 1989, Ms. Stütz-Mentzel and her allies placed the sculpture in a public place on the outskirts of Ulm where some deserters are believed to have been executed. But the city authorities ordered her to remove it. As a consequence, for the past 16 years, Ms. Stütz-Mentzel's work has been stored in the small back garden of a local English teacher, Hildegard Henseler, where, from time to time, people stop by to see it. Then, a few months ago, the small group of high school students in Ulm heard about Ms. Stütz-Mentzel's semi-discarded sculpture. The City Council has rejected the students' demands that the work be given a public home. The students and their supporters suspect that is because desertion is still too delicate a subject, especially in a city like Ulm, home to a large German Army base. But Ulm's mayor, Ivo Gönner, a 52-year-old Social Democrat, denies that that is the case. "The deserters are included already in the general monument as victims of the Nazi regime," Mr. Gönner said in an interview in his office. "It's not so much a matter of deserters, as it is a matter of principle, not to have more memorials." Others, including the students who have reignited the debate in Ulm about Ms. Stütz-Mentzel's sculpture, disagree. "The deserter did not fit, how shall I say it, into our unprocessed history," Manfred Messerschmidt, a professor of military history at Ulm University, said. According to Dr. Messerschmidt, about 22,000 German soldiers were executed for desertion during the war. Among the deserters who survived was Joseph Ratzinger, a young soldier who left in the final weeks of the war and more than half a century later became Pope Benedict XVI. "The deserter, who is a sort of potential conscience, does not fit in here, and that is disturbing," Dr. Messerschmidt said. "That is why one doesn't deal with this. That's why no memorials are wanted."
NYT 11 May 2005 Holocaust Memorial Opens in Berlin By RICHARD BERNSTEIN BERLIN, May 10 - Germany's much debated and long-awaited Holocaust memorial was officially opened Tuesday here in the very city where the genocide against the Jews was conceived, planned and administered. "Today we are opening a memorial that commemorates the worst, the most atrocious of the crimes committed by Nazi Germany, the attempt to destroy a whole people," said Wolfgang Thierse, president of the German Parliament, which authorized the construction of the memorial six years ago. The inauguration ceremony, attended by all the senior members of Germany's government, including Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, took place in a large white tent set up on the edge of the memorial field itself, only yards from the place where Hitler's underground bunker was. The ceremony, which lasted two and a half hours, consisted of speeches, a short film and a medley of Yiddish and Hebrew songs, apparently intended to remind Berliners of the people and the rich Jewish-German culture that were destroyed. "The horror touches the limit of our comprehension," Mr. Thierse said. "This memorial acts on the limits of our comprehension." It will serve, he continued, "as a place of memory" for future generations, helping them "to face up to the incomprehensible facts." The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, as it is officially called, was designed by the New York architect Peter Eisenman. It consists mainly of 2,711 gray concrete slabs of varying heights arranged in a tight, waving grid that extends over more than five acres in central Berlin, only a couple of hundred yards from the Brandenburg Gate. The debates over whether to have such a memorial and what form it should take extend back 17 years, when a small group of private German citizens, led by a television journalist, Lea Rosh, and a historian, Eberhard Jäckel, neither of whom is Jewish, first began pressing for Germany to honor the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Among the rejected proposals was one to inscribe the names of all six million of the victims on an immense tilted concrete surface. Another was to create a Holocaust museum. Other ideas involved a memorial not only to the Jews but to all the victims of Nazism. The decision in the end to build a field of steles dedicated to the memory of the Jewish victims alone, accompanied by an underground information center, has not been accepted by everybody, including members of Germany's small Jewish community. Reflecting the continuing disagreements, Paul Spiegel, the president of the Central Council of the Jews in Germany and a speaker at the opening ceremony on Tuesday, expressed what he called "reservations" about the memorial, saying that it was "an incomplete statement." Specifically, Mr. Spiegel said, by not including non-Jewish victims, the memorial suggests that there was a "hierarchy of suffering," when, he said, "pain and mourning are great in all afflicted families." In addition, Mr. Spiegel criticized the memorial for providing no information on the Nazi perpetrators themselves and therefore blunting the visitors' "confrontation with the crime." But in a partial response to Mr. Spiegel, Mr. Eisenman, who followed him to the podium, said, "It is clear that we won't have solved all the problems - architecture is not a panacea for evil - nor will we have satisfied all those present today, but this cannot have been our intention." By far the most touching moment of the inaugural statement was a quiet speech by Sabina van der Linden, who came with her husband, children and grandchildren from Australia to represent the victims, or, as she put it, to be "the voice of the lucky few, the voice of the survivors." "Try to imagine me not as the elderly woman before you, but as an 11-year-old girl from a small town in Poland," she said. "As an 11-year-old child, I witnessed unbelievable cruelty." Ms. van der Linden described how she and her mother tried to hide when the Nazis began to select Jews for deportation, but they were found and separated and her mother was taken away, never to be seen again. She lost her father and her brother as well, she said. The medley of Hebrew and Yiddish songs that followed the speeches was sung by Joseph Malovany, cantor of the Fifth Avenue Synagogue in New York, accompanied by the choir of the White Stork Synagogue in Wroclaw, Poland, and by the Lower Silesian German-Polish Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
AP 3 May 2005 Italian Court Upholds Bombing Acquittals ROME -- Italy's highest criminal court on Tuesday upheld the acquittals of three people accused in a 1969 Milan bank bombing that ushered in a period of violence in Italy. The Court of Cassation rejected a request to reopen the so-called "Piazza Fontana" trial and ordered the victims' relatives to pay court expenses, putting an end to a case that has fascinated Italians for 36 years. Judge Francesco Morelli read the verdict aloud in the court's second penal section. The bombing blew apart a bank, leaving 17 dead and dozens more injured. It triggered a period of violence between extremist right-wing and left-wing groups that stretched into the 1970s and 1980s. The defendants, Delfo Zorzi, Carlo Maria Maggi and Giancarlo Rognoni, former members of the neo-Fascist group Ordine Nuovo, were originally convicted, but the conviction was overturned last year by a Milan court. The request to reopen the trial yet again was made by the Milan prosecutor and victims' relatives. State Prosecutor Enrico Delehaye recommended upholding the court decision to acquit, arguing that there was nothing illogical in the court's reasoning. "The relatives are nauseous and I, too, am tired," Federico Sinicato, an attorney representing the families, was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency. "It's another piece of history that's covered by mystery." Zorzi was accused of having made the bomb, while Maggi and Rognoni were accused of planning and coordinating the attack. Maggi said Tuesday he planned to celebrate the verdict. "Notwithstanding the infamous accusations that followed me for years, I have always had my patience, which I'll drink to tonight," ANSA quoted Maggi as saying. Since 1979, Zorzi has lived in Japan, where he married a Japanese woman and gained citizenship. Japan consistently refused to extradite him.
Background: Ordine Nuovo (New Order) Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (ARN) Pino Rauti was the founder of the outlawed Italian group, Ordine Nuovo (New Order). On 12 December 1969 the fascist Ordine Nuovo bombed the Piazza Fontana in Milan, killing 16 and wounding 90. In July 1970 Ordine Nuovo bombed the Rome-Messina train, killing 6 and wounding 100. In May 1974 eight activists were killed in Brescia when an anti-fascist march was hand-grenaded by Ordine Nuovo. The Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (ARN), an off-shoot of Ordine Nuovo, was responsible for the 1980 bombing of the Bologna train station which killed 85 people. Stefano delle Chiaie was the ARN architect of the Bologna massacre. www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/arn.htm
Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, Italy 4 May 2005 www.aig.it PIAZZA FONTANA: LIBERTY AND JUSTICE, WE WILL HELP WITH COSTS (AGI) - Milan, Italy, May 4 - The Liberty and Justice association is collecting funds for the court fees which the Piazza Fontana victims have been charged. "Silences and protections lasted 36 years have stopped justice to find the people responsible for the first in a long series of massacres. As of December 12, 1969, the date which splattered the Milan bank, the tension strategy amounts to 12,690 attacks, 362 dead and 4,490 people injured. Eleven massacres in total which start with Milan and end in 1980 with the bomb in Bologna station. Too many guilty people have been covered up: there are no people guilty of this massacre, as for almost all of them. The State did not manage to identify them. The court case ends, but the consequences is that the relatives of the Piazza Fontana victims have to pay the court fees of a judicial affair which was never linear and never clear. In these long years the only fault of the families was to demand justice for their relatives who were killed or injured in the Banca dell'Agricultura foyer. Liberty and Justice thus offer the victim's parents the commitment to collect funds to face what the sentence coldly states as "the payment of court fees".
Reuters 4 May 2005 Survivors billed in Italy for failed bomb case By Phil Stewart ROME, May 4 (Reuters) - Survivors of one of Italy's most notorious post-war bombings erupted in anger on Wednesday after the country's highest court not only left the 35-year-old case unresolved but saddled victims' families with legal costs. The blast at a Milan bank, long attributed to neofascists, killed 17 people and wounded more than 80 others. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court definitively cleared three men who had been sentenced to life imprisonment. "We're the only ones condemned," one victim's daughter, 73-year-old Eugenia Garavaglia, told Italian media. "It's a strange kind of justice that treats victims like the killers and the killers like the victims ... that absolves the guilty and condemns citizens searching for truth," said Francesca Dendena, a leader of the bombing victims' association. Newspapers ran headlines including "The victims pay" and "Massacre of impunity". Even Italy's justice minister conceded that the court had added insult to injury by slapping the victims with fees. "It's clear the law allows for it, but to me it seems like a mockery that could have been avoided," Roberto Castelli said. Milan and a neighbouring town offered on Wednesday to cover court fees, estimated to run into thousands of euros (dollars). The fees are to cover what the court said were administrative costs stemming from requests by victims and their families to take part in the criminal proceedings with their own lawyers. WHO DID IT? Italy's justice system has long been criticised by those who argue that its scope for multiple appeals and retrials, dragging some cases out for decades, lays it open to abuse by criminals. Tuesday's ruling essentially wipes clean a page of Italian history, leaving the names of the victims the only certainty in the emotive case. "Anyone can continue to believe in their own truth and their own assumptions," said Paolo Franchi, a commentator for Corriere della Sera newspaper. "Thirty five years later, not a single perpetrator or, still less, a mastermind of the hateful attack has a name and a face." The blast at the offices of Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura on Milan's Piazza Fontana on the afternoon of Dec. 12, 1969, marked the start of years of violence, apparently involving both extreme rightists and leftists, in which hundreds died. Police at first arrested anarchists, one of whom fell to his death from a police station window in an incident that became the basis for Nobel-prize winner Dario Fo's play "Accidental Death of an Anarchist". Later, neofascists were put on trial. Left-wing commentators argued that the bombing was part of a "strategy of tension" designed to pave the way for a right-wing coup d'etat, and charged that rogue secret service members were implicated. Tuesday's Supreme Court ruling confirmed a decision last year by a lower court to quash the 2001 convictions of three men, one a neofascist activist, for planning and executing the blast. A fourth defendant, accused of being an accessory to the crime, had his one-year sentence overturned. Gerardo D'Ambrosio, a former chief Milan prosecutor, suggested that the endless legal saga might be intentional. "In this episode there has always been the desire to never get to the bottom of (the case) ... We encountered every type of obstacle," he said in an interview published on Wednesday. For relatives campaigning for justice, anger was mixed with resignation at what appeared to be a waste of time. "I can't do it anymore ... the interviews, and giving testimony, and the protests. Enough. Enough, really," Garavaglia told La Stampa newspaper.
AP 7 May 2005 Laura Bush Visits Holocaust Memorial The Associated Press Saturday, May 7, 2005; 6:52 AM RIGA, Latvia -- First lady Laura Bush visited a Holocaust memorial Saturday at the site of a Nazi massacre of thousands of Jews during World War II. Mrs. Bush laid flowers at a monument in Rumbula Forest outside Riga, where 25,000 Jews were killed on Nov. 30 and Dec. 8 of 1941. She was to visit the Occupation Museum in downtown Riga later Saturday. About 90 percent of Latvia's 80,000 Jews were during the 1941-1944 Nazi occupation. The first lady and President Bush arrived in Riga Friday on the first leg of a European tour commemorating the end of World War II in Europe. The trip also includes stops in the Netherlands, Moscow and Georgia.
washingtonpost.com 5 May 2005 VE Day Marks Start of Tyranny in Baltics By ANDREW BRADDEL The Associated Press Thursday, May 5, 2005; 9:00 AM VILNIUS, Lithuania -- For most of the world, Victory in Europe Day signifies triumph over the horrors of the Third Reich, but for Baltic states it also marks the beginning of a new tyranny: 50 years of occupation by the Soviet Union. The memories remain so raw that the leaders of Lithuania and Estonia have turned down invitations to attend commemorations in Moscow to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. "We are happy that the Second World War is over on May 8, but May 9 is the beginning of 50 years of slavery. I simply cannot ignore the facts and go over there and stand and simply dishonor the lives we have lost in these 50 years," Lithuania's President Valdas Adamkus told Associated Press Television News. A secret 1939 pact between Germany and the Soviet Union ended two decades of independence for the Baltic states and much of Central and Eastern Europe, paving the way for Soviet domination of the small Baltic countries. After the Red Army occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1940, more than 200,000 people were herded into cattle cars and exiled to Siberia, viewed by Josef Stalin as enemies of the government. Many were never heard from again. The Soviet occupation was so harsh that the invading German army was greeted with flowers, hugs and kisses. "We thought they were saviors because they drove the Soviets away," said Balys Gajauskas, a retired legislator and former head of a commission that investigated the KGB's Soviet-era activities. Gajauskas was just a teenager when Soviet forces occupied Lithuania but remembers vividly the arrests and the fear. "People fled to the forests to escape being taken," he said. "They only came back when the Nazis arrived." In 1944, the Red Army drove out the Nazis, and Lithuania once again fell under Soviet rule. "It's almost as if they came back determined to finish what they had started" said Gajauskas. In a new wave of terror, which lasted until Stalin's death in 1953, some 350,000 Lithuanians were packed into cattle cars and shipped off to Siberia. Over the same period, more than 15,000 suspected of anti-Soviet activity were brought for questioning to the KGB headquarters in the capital. At least 700 were tortured and executed in the basement of the building. Their names have been inscribed on the walls of the building, which has now become the Genocide and Resistance Center, a symbol of Lithuania's tortured past. Gajauskas spent several weeks in the basement cells after his arrest in 1948. He spent the next 35 years in a succession of Soviet labor camps, refusing steadfastly to give up his campaign for Lithuanian independence. Now 79, Gajauskas says he understands what the end of the war meant to many Western countries, but he sees no cause for celebration in Lithuania. "If he (Adamkus) were to go there, it would be a betrayal. He would be betraying those people who perished in the battle for our freedom, or those who died in the camps or in exile." In a boost to Baltic nations' efforts to make Moscow face up to the brutality of the occupation, President Bush said in a letter to Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga that the liberation of Europe also marked the Soviet occupation of the Baltics. Bush, who visits Latvia on Saturday ahead of VE-Day celebrations in Moscow, said the end of the war "marked the Soviet occupation and annexation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and the imposition of communism." While he stopped short of assigning blame on Russia, he said he understood the decision by Adamkus and Estonian President Arnold Ruutel to stay home. Vike-Freiberga will attend the ceremonies. At Vilnius University, Adamkus' decision not to go to Moscow received wholehearted support. "Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union, and that wasn't our victory so we shouldn't celebrate it," said an 18-year old history student, who gave only her first name, Ruta. In Latvia, one poll showed that most Latvians approved of Vike-Freiberga's decision to attend the commemoration and extend "the hand of friendship" to Moscow. Russian politicians, meanwhile, have angrily criticized Adamkus' decision to stay home. Sergei Mironov, head of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of parliament, called the decision a "big historical mistake" which could isolate Lithuania in Europe and the rest of the world. But Adamkus says he has discussed his decision with U.S. and European leaders and is convinced that his position has their understanding and support. "I haven't met a single European leader who told me that I made the wrong move," he said. "And even talking to the United States leadership, they said they fully understand my decision and it is definitely right for us to decide what is best for the country." Fifteen years after the Baltic countries gained independence, Russia has yet to issue an apology for the occupation. In Adamkus' opinion, if Russia is prepared to accept the glory for defeating the Nazis, it should also accept responsibility for the darker chapters of Soviet history. "They cannot say, 'Yes, we acknowledge the past, it was wrong," he said.
Guardian UL 13 May 2005 Netherlands in the dock over Bosnia massacre Ian Traynor in Zagreb The Guardian Bosnian survivors of the first act of genocide in Europe since the Holocaust, the Srebrenica massacre of 1995, went to court yesterday seeking to prove illegal conduct by the Dutch peacekeeping troops who stood aside while Serb forces butchered the male inhabitants of the enclave. The district court in The Hague opened hearings to decide whether the suit, brought by the family of a Bosnian victim of the July 1995 atrocities, Rizo Mustafic, should proceed to full trial. If the pioneering case succeeds, there are likely to be demands for financial compensation and it could presage a wave of litigation against the Netherlands by Srebrenica victims, relatives of the dead, or Bosnians employed by the Dutch peacekeeping contingent. Lawyers for some of the victims have previously failed to reach an out-of-court settlement with the Dutch government, demanding around £27,000 for each of the 7,942 dead, or missing presumed dead, recorded by the Bosnian government. Liesbeth Zegveld, the Dutch lawyer representing the Mustafic family, said the compensation question was secondary. "This is about justice, not about money," she said. Rizo Mustafic was a Bosnian Muslim electrician employed by the Dutch peacekeepers for 18 months in Srebrenica. He took refuge in the Dutch military compound with his wife and three children when the Serbs overran the enclave in July 1995. They remained there for three days, assuming they would be protected, but were ordered out by a Dutch officer, Berend Osterveen, who told the hearing yesterday that he could not remember the incident. Mr Mustafic disappeared immediately after being forced to leave the compound and was then murdered. "It was a complete mess there, but there was also a [Dutch] policy, spoken or unspoken, to get rid of everyone," said Ms Zegveld. The officer told the hearing the Dutch troops felt "frustrated, defeated, and powerless" as the Serbs overran the enclave, picked out the males and drove them away to their slaughter. The enclave of Bosnian Muslims in the midst of Serb-held eastern Bosnia was overrun in July 1995 by the forces of the Serb commander, Ratko Mladic. In 1993 the enclave had been declared a UN safe haven, guarded by 200 lightly armed and ill-prepared Dutch troops. The shame of Srebrenica has haunted the Netherlands ever since. The lawyer for the Dutch government, Meine Dijkstra, told reporters there had been no illegal conduct by the Dutch and that the victims' demands for compensation should be directed not to the Netherlands, but to Serbia. The preliminary hearings are expected to last two months.
NYT 15 May 2005 Court on Crimes in Former Yugoslavia Hits Its Stride By MARLISE SIMONS THE HAGUE - It happens discreetly, unnoticed by other passengers. The traveler, usually a middle-aged man, gets off the plane at a Dutch airport where plainclothes officials politely receive him. He is escorted to a vehicle and, before long, he disappears behind the walls of a high-security jail near The Hague. Thus, another war crimes suspect is checked in at the compound where the United Nations has its own cellblock. This apparently simple routine, repeated more than 20 times this year, still causes a frisson here because the newcomers include senior commanders of the Serbian and Bosnian Serb military and police, central players in the 1990's Balkan wars. They include men charged with chilling atrocities, including the mass killings of civilians in Sarajevo and Srebrenica, cities whose names have become synonymous with latter-day European barbarity. At the quarters of the United Nations war crimes tribunal, officials are quietly elated. "Many of the senior suspects are now here," said Jean-Daniel Ruch, an adviser to Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor. "Instead of pulling and pushing to get detainees, our work has moved more fully into the courtrooms, which is where it belongs." Confounding many critics who have long called the war crimes tribunal an excessively cumbersome, even dubious experiment in international justice, the court dealing with atrocities of the former Yugoslavia is at the peak of its activity. Six trials are going on daily, alternating in the three courtrooms. Given the many newcomers, court hours now often run from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Three mornings a week, courtroom No. 1 is booked for the most notorious trial, that of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader and the first president to face war crimes charges, including genocide. In its third year, the process is often delayed by the former strongman's health problems. Some say it also suffers from its sheer scope; charges span a decade and the four wars that took more than 200,000 lives and tore up the former Communist country of Yugoslavia. But other trials of Serbs, Croats and Bosnian Muslims are moving faster or are set to begin. "There's quite a scramble for court time now," said Jim Landale, a spokesman. "This is the busiest we've ever been." He offered a copy of the tribunal's latest "wanted" poster. Long looking like a dense mosaic, it is now reduced to 10 faces. The court's cellblock is filled to capacity, with 60 people. Another 18 suspects have been allowed to return home until their trials start. Obtaining a temporary release has become easier since defense lawyers complained forcefully about long waiting times, sometimes more than two years. Judges have refused such release to some well-known suspects on the grounds that they may threaten witnesses or not return for trial. But last year, human rights groups protested when the former leader of Serbia's notorious state security forces, Jovica Stanisic, and his deputy, Franko Simatovic, were allowed to return to Serbia to await trial. The two ran the secret police and a brutal militia of paid volunteers in the war. "The court was either naïve or woefully ignorant of the role the state security services played," said Judith Armatta of the Coalition for International Justice. Most intriguing perhaps, the judges said the court had taken into account the positive letters from the United States and French governments, who said the men had been cooperative in the past. Spokesmen in Washington and in Paris declined to comment. Although the Milosevic trial has caught much of the limelight, 128 people have appeared before the tribunal since its first trial opened in 1995. Of these, 56 have received judgments. Among them are people including camp guards or platoon commanders, the kind of low-level actors in the war who court officials concede would not be sent to The Hague today. But during its early years, the court had few senior indictees. That has changed. Several factors explain the shift. The United Nations Security Council, which created the court in the middle of the Yugoslav wars in 1993, recently made demands, ordering the prosecutor to focus on the top leaders and to cease all investigations by the end of 2004. It also said that trials should be completed by 2008 and appeals by 2010. That meant the tribunal needed to be handed the most senior suspects. But Serbia, after delivering Mr. Milosevic, refused to cooperate. In recent months, the West has increased pressure on Belgrade. The Bush administration suspended aid to Serbia for 2005, and the European Union has twisted Belgrade's arm, saying that any negotiations for union membership, which Belgrade covets, cannot seriously start until all indicted war crimes suspects have been sent to The Hague. As a result, Serbia, with its economy shattered, has talked more than a dozen military and police commanders into surrendering in recent months, threatening some with arrest and negotiating deals with others, including promises of financial help for their families. Among the tribunal's 10 fugitives today are two famous men who have been seen in Serbia, the Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his military commander, Ratko Mladic, both indicted on genocide charges. But the government insists it does not know where they are. The prosecution is particularly pleased about the recent arrival of Momcilo Perisic, the Yugoslav Army chief of staff during the wars in Croatia and Bosnia. His trial may rank among the most significant. General Perisic's indictment says that from Belgrade, he secretly ran the surrogate Serbian forces fighting in Croatia and Bosnia, providing the Serb-run troops with personnel, equipment, provisions and payment. His case could directly link Belgrade, and Mr. Milosevic, with military actions and atrocities outside Serbia. At the tribunal prison, the newcomers include former top officials from Macedonia and Kosovo, two other Balkan regions that need approval and money from the West. Croatia been told its bid to join the European Union will be delayed until it delivers its main fugitive, Gen. Ante Gotovina. "This is the first time political pressure has been applied on such a scale, and we see that it works," said Mirko Klarin, director of Sense, a news agency that has monitored the war crimes court. With so many new suspects, the tribunal can schedule several group trials to speed proceedings. But court officials say privately that even without getting its 10 fugitives, the tribunal cannot meet the Security Council deadline of 2008. Discussions are under way to transfer at least a dozen low-level suspects heldhere to be tried in their home region. Mr. Klarin said that despite the growing workload and the hectic pace: "Right now, things are looking good for the tribunal. It's so busy, I'm almost nostalgic for the days I could actually keep up with events."
ITAR-TASS, Russia 4 May 2005 www.tass.ru Inadmissible to call Soviet soldiers invaders - Ivanov 04.05.2005, 17.56 MOSCOW, May 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has addressed those who call the Soviet soldiers-liberators "invaders" with a rhetorical question: "What would happen to you had we not broken the backbone to fascism?" He also said “there has been no such war in history and it was won at the price of immeasurable sacrifices in blood.” Ivanov, who is deputy chairman of the Russian organising committee Victory said in an exclusive interview published by the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily on Wednesday among other things also commented on the debates in Russia and abroad about a monument to Stalin and on the question “Was the Red Army the liberator or invader of Europe?” “What concerns the Russians,” the minister said, “I am certain May 9 is one of the most favourite and emotional holidays for Russia.” According to Ivanov, “It is in the genes, I believe, because almost in every family somebody fought in the war and fell in battle.” “Another question is historical disputes,” the Russian Defence chief went on to say. “No matter what they say, but there has been no other war like that in history,” he said. “And that war was won certainly at the cost of immeasurable sacrifices, which tells to this day both on the demographic situation and our living standards,” Ivanov noted. “And when some discourse upon the issue invaded we somebody or not I want to ask them: what would happen to you had we not broken the backbone to fascism and would your people be alive today?” Touching upon the issue of erecting a monument to Stalin Ivanov who was born a month before Stalin’s death said he thinks this problem is “artificially exaggerated.” “We are a democracy after all. If local authorities want to erect the monument, let them do so. If don’t want – they also have this option,” the Russian Defence Minister stressed.
BBC 4 May 2005 Moscow defends Soviet occupation Russians in Latvia regularly protest at curbs on their native language Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has suggested the defeat of Hitler far outweighed the USSR's long occupation of eastern Europe after World War II. "When they discuss if we occupied this country or that, it makes you wonder what would have happened to them had we not broken fascism's back?" he said. Heads of two of the three Baltic states, Estonia and Lithuania, are boycotting VE Day events in Moscow. Latvia has justified its own decision to attend the 60th anniversary events. President Vaira Vike-Freiberga told the BBC her people appreciated that she was attending as the leader of a free country, which would act as a reminder that the Soviet occupation had failed. The Moscow ceremonies next Monday will be attended by world leaders including US President George W Bush who will first visit the Baltic states in what analysts say is his recognition that Victory in Europe Day was not a day of freedom for them. Problems over citizenship and language rights for the Baltic states' post-Soviet ethnic Russian communities continue to strain their governments' relations with Moscow. Suffering on both sides Ms Vike-Freiberga said she did not expect Russian President Vladimir Putin to apologise for his country's annexation of the Baltic states. Interviewed by Moscow newspaper Rossiskaya Gazeta, Mr Ivanov said the world had never known a war like that against the Nazis. "They can say what they want, but there had never been such a war in history," he said. "That war was won, of course, at the price of uncountable numbers of victims." Estonian President Arnold Ruutel has told the BBC his decision to stay away from Moscow does not mean Estonia did not welcome Hitler's defeat. "The Soviet Army had great merits but nor can we forget the suffering and losses of the Estonian people," he told BBC World Service.
Independent UK 5 May 2005 Bush prepares for Moscow visit with attack on Soviet era By Andrew Osborn in Moscow 05 May 2005 President George Bush has waded into a bitter historical row between Russia and its former imperial vassals the Baltic states, putting the Kremlin's nose out of joint just days before he visits Moscow. To compound Russia's discomfort Mr Bush has also decided to combine his Moscow visit with tub-thumping pro-democracy tours of two countries that the Kremlin regards as staunchly anti-Russian: Georgia and Latvia. Mr Bush is due to review a spectacular military parade in Red Square along with other world leaders on 9 May, the 60th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany. His attendance had been considered a coup for President Vladimir Putin, whom Washington has criticised of late for apparent backsliding on democracy and general authoritarianism. But Mr Bush has shown he will not shrink from his "spreading democracy" message and has sided with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania against Russia in a dispute which Moscow finds repugnant. It considers that the end of what it calls the Great Patriotic War signified the victory of the glorious Red Army and the liberation of swaths of central and eastern Europe from Nazi tyranny. However, the Baltic states and indeed other east European countries such as Poland regard the end of the Second World War as the beginning of almost half a century of Soviet occupation forced upon them by the Red Army. Such talk is regarded as treason in Moscow where officials accuse modern-day Baltic politicians of harbouring Nazi sympathies and of glorifying their countrymen who fought in the German SS. In a letter to Latvia's President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, Mr Bush firmly aligned himself with the Balts. "In western Europe, the end of World War II meant liberation. In central and eastern Europe, the war also marked the Soviet occupation and annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and the imposition of Communism," he wrote. The American President said he understood and respected the decision of the presidents of Estonia and Lithuania to boycott the 9 May victory celebrations in Moscow, a démarche that Russia regards as a snub. Mr Bush's intervention is likely to enrage Russian politicians who are ironically anxious to patch up what is becoming an increasingly acrimonious relationship with the United States. In an interview yesterday with Rossiskaya Gazeta, the government-friendly daily, Sergey Ivanov, Russia's Defence Minister, made it clear that the Kremlin cannot stomach the Baltic states' interpretation of history. "That war was won at the cost of countless deaths and the impact on demographics and our living standards is still perceptible," he said. "And when some now argue over whether we did or did not occupy other countries, I feel like asking them: 'And what would have become of you if we hadn't broken the back of fascism - would you still exist as a people?'" Mr Bush's decision to visit Latvia, where Moscow believes the large Russian minority is being discriminated against, and Georgia, whose President is openly pushing for velvet revolutions across the former Soviet Union, is almost as hard for Moscow to swallow. "This fact as such could be viewed as a kind of slap in Russia's face," Vyacheslav Nikonov, a prominent Russian political analyst, told the Interfax news agency. "It's about the same as if Putin would go to Washington with a stopover in Havana, and after that he would fly to Pyongyang."
NYT 7 May 2005 Celebrating the U.S.S.R. in Song, Uncle Joe and All By ERIN E. ARVEDLUND MOSCOW, May 4 HE has been called everything from "senile" to "tacky," the sometime "Voice of the Party" and the "People's Artist." And now Oleg M. Gazmanov, a seemingly ageless Russian pop star with close ties to the Kremlin, has a new hit - "Made in the U.S.S.R." - that is winning regular airplay on radio stations here. Critics scoff at his lyrics, which look back fondly on the Soviet Union and glorify Lenin and Stalin, the first two Soviet leaders, under whom millions of Russians and members of other ethnic groups corralled into the Communist state were imprisoned or executed. But Mr. Gazmanov, 53, makes no apologies for putting the leading figures of Russian history, artists and mass murderers alike, on an equal plane: Rurik, Romanovs, Lenin and Stalin, This is my country; Pushkin, Yesenin, Visotsky, Gagarin, This is my country. When he came to power in 2000, the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, revived the Soviet national anthem, and in 2002 bestowed the Soviet-era title of "People's Artist" on Mr. Gazmanov. With the Kremlin's imprimatur and a string of patriotic hits, Mr. Gazmanov has emerged as a public champion of the country's Soviet history. He regularly performs at government-sponsored functions, and will headline a concert on Monday in Moscow that is expected to draw a crowd of nearly 200,000 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Allies victory in Europe in World War II. In December, he sang in Moscow to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya, an event to honor those "directly involved in the establishment of constitutional order in the North Caucasus," according to RIA-Novosti, the Kremlin's official news agency. Last week, Mr. Gazmanov sang for a group of older veterans in advance of the World War II commemorations and danced with a female veteran onstage at the lush President Hotel, where the Kremlin lodges its official out-of-town guests. "There was a lot that was bad in the Soviet Union," the trim, dark-haired, blue-eyed singer admitted recently over lunch at El Gaucho, one of many new elegant steakhouses in booming downtown Moscow. "That's no reason to go back over and enumerate those things. We're building a new life, a new world." "We had great scientists, sportsmen, astronauts," he said, choosing his words thoughtfully. "Not everything was bad. We need to remember the best, like that we were first in space. I'm proud of our beautiful scientific cities, of our beautiful women!" "Every country has made mistakes," he said. "Every country has good and bad things." A former gymnast, Mr. Gazmanov was born and grew up in Kaliningrad, the onetime Prussian coastal enclave that was ceded to the Soviet Union after World War II and is now home to the Russian Baltic fleet. The son of an army officer and a cardiologist, Mr. Gazmanov attended the same high school as Lyudmila Putin, the wife of the Russian president, and at first pursued a career as a gymnast. But he never quite reached the top echelon in the sport, and eventually took up the guitar and began writing songs. He gained his first recognition in 1988, with a song called "Lucy," and then vaulted to fame in 1994 with a patriotic military ditty titled "Officers." Many Russians know by heart at least the chorus of "Moskva," a bouncy song written for Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, in the 1990's and now a sort of unofficial anthem for the city. Even his fans are divided on the merits of Mr. Gazmanov's music. On one hand, he is dismissed as a Kremlin hack. "I think senility has crept up on Oleg," one listener wrote to the Web site of a Russian radio station, Echo Moskvy, regarding "Made in the U.S.S.R." Yet in his music video of the song, directed by the much younger Oleg Gusev and broadcast regularly on MTV Russia, the crowds are having a thumping good time as their man raps, sweats and cracks a Mick Jagger split in midair. The band wears "C.C.C.P." T-shirts, while Mr. Gazmanov sports a vintage red Soviet flag headband. Many Russians may have been amused, but people in the three former Baltic republics ruled by the Soviets until after the collapse of Communism nearly 15 years ago were livid. Politicians in Estonia sent an open letter to radio stations there asking that they refrain from playing the song. At least one Russian critic, Kirill Lesnikov, a columnist with Gazeta, agrees that Mr. Gazmanov's nostalgia goes a bit too far. " 'I was born in the U.S.S.R.,' sings Gazmanov," he wrote. "That's true, but this medical fact carries with it an additional ideological burden. Even a withered turnip would communicate that 'Lenin, Stalin, Tchaikovsky, Gagarin - this is my country.' Considering the multidimensional and complex history of our native land, I agree with this approach. However, when a lyric pop hero declares that the territorial pretensions of our government today include the 'Baltics' also, it's hard to even register the poetic hyperbole." The presidents of Lithuania and Estonia refused an invitation to Moscow for Russia's wartime victory commemoration, while President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of Latvia said she would use the occasion of V-E Day to remind the world "that at the end of the Second World War half of Europe was not liberated." Mr. Gazmanov said he could live with the controversy. "Look, I just wrote that when I was born in the Soviet Union, that Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, that was my country," he said. "I was born in that country. They can say what they want. I play in the Baltics, especially in Lithuania, and people there understand me. I have fan clubs there. They love me." On Stalin, he retreats again into the song's laundry list of history. "To the young, it's all the same," he said. "For those who lived all their lives for Stalin, to them he is dear. There are a huge number of people who hate him, because he repressed their parents, their families. He's a complex figure. But in this song, I'm not making an evaluation or appraisal of anyone." There was another "Born in the U.S.S.R.," by Yuri Shevchuk of the rock group DDT, and widely regarded as a musical legend. But the song he wrote was much like Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A.," and Mr. Shevchuk was among the Russian musicians who signed an open letter to Mr. Putin in 2000 denouncing the resurrection of the Soviet-era national anthem. No so Mr. Gazmanov, who says he does not judge history, but merely recites it. "In our country we had Lenin," he said. "We had Stalin. I'm not saying what's good or what's bad."
NYT 10 May 2005 How Russia Lost World War II By VICTOR EROFEYEV Moscow MY parents named me Victor in honor of the Soviet Union's victory over Hitler, and I am proud of my name. I see no reason to cast doubt on the historical significance of that victory; for years the Russian people, who lost millions of soldiers in the war, have united around the celebration of Victory Day. Yet, as we mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, we are seeing not so much a celebration as a major disagreement between millions of people, and even between nations. This city, having summoned distinguished foreign guests for the occasion, chose to celebrate victory in genuine military-camp style, full of gun-carrying army and police patrols more fearful of terrorist attacks than ever before. And who exactly is to blame for these painful paradoxes? President Vladimir Putin himself effectively answered that question in his recent declaration that the collapse of the Soviet Union was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century." Today's Kremlin has neatly split the history of the Soviet Union into two, like splitting a block of birch wood with an axe. It has cast aside the country's communist experiment as an unworkable utopia and begun glorifying Soviet Russia's imperial pretensions. In other words, what has happened is pretty much the opposite of what Khruschev did in the 1950's when he sacrificed Stalin's dictatorship in the name of Lenin. Now the Kremlin is sacrificing Lenin in the name of Generalissimus Stalin. Schism is a terrible word in Russia, where Christians were once divided into the "old believers" and the followers of the reformed Othodox Church. Now a battle over the interpretation of Russian history is provoking a schism throughout society. Half of the population - elderly people, the poor, those not very well educated and resentful of perestroika - see the creeping rehabilitation of Stalin as a return to true values. They are ready to erect monuments to Stalin the Victor around the country. They are not disconcerted by his political crimes, for which they sometimes produce justifications that are beyond all comprehension. There is no more logic in all this than there would be in Jews suddenly deciding to erect a monument to Hitler. However, the other half of today's Russia, made richer by the experiment of perestroika, knows more about Stalin's crimes than it did even 15 years ago. Enlightened Russia affirms that we won the victory despite Stalin. It hates him for his terror, his failure to prepare for war, his use of soldiers as cannon fodder, and for much more besides. Enlightened Russia sees Stalinist totalitarianism and Hitler's regime as two sides of the same coin. But the Kremlin is pandering rashly and none too intelligently to the unenlightened, socially backward half of Russia, refusing to understand that this bloc has no future. In short, the schism has led Russia into an ideological civil war. By adopting the ideas of the Soviet Union as its heritage, Mr. Putin's Russia is entering into intellectual conflict with her western neighbors. The Kremlin is once again emphasizing its historical justification for the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact - which gave Germany permission to invade Poland in exchange for Soviet dominion over Finland and much of the Baltics - and denying that Baltic states were occupied; it is also again trying to gloss over the massacre of Polish troops at the Katyn Forest in 1940 (after a period of public confessions from Yeltsin) and the rapes of hundreds of thousands of women by soldiers in the territory liberated by the Red Army. The Kremlin does not seem to understand that it no longer has any Warsaw Pact satellites that will applaud its every move. Rather, Russia's neighbors now resent the way the Soviet Union treated them, and are new members of NATO who like not feeling afraid of the Kremlin any more. They are justifiably furious at being offered old versions of history in the Kremlin's new packaging. Political quarrels lead to scandalous rows. I regret that some Polish politicians want to name a square in Warsaw after the slain Chechen separatist leader Dzhokhar Dudayev. My position is closer to that of the Poles who believe that while the Soviet Union reduced Poland to subjection, it also saved it from the national extinction that Hitler intended. But if Russia stubbornly persists in taking everything that was once politically useful to the Stalinist superpower as its own priorities, I am afraid that she will lose the ability to distinguish her victories from her defeats. Russia has never been as ideologically isolated in Europe as she was on this Victory Day. Victor Erofeyev is the author of "Russian Beauty." This article was translated by Andrew Bromfield from the Russian
washingtonpost.com * May 2005 Chechen Activist Groups Feel Pressure From Russia Rights Leaders Say Kremlin Trying to Stifle Dissent on Conflict By Peter Finn Washington Post Foreign Service Sunday, May 8, 2005; A22 NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia -- When four security service officers arrived at the offices of a prominent human rights group here on Jan. 20, they demanded to see back issues of the group's monthly newspaper. Employees showed the officers to what passed for an archive, a pile of dusty papers on the floor. The agents, from the FSB, the domestic successor of the KGB, gathered up copies to take away. They also seized records of the group, the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, including the closely guarded names and addresses of people who write articles for the paper from the war-torn republic of Chechnya, according to Stanislav Dmitrievsky, co-chair of the organization. In a case that has frightened Russia's human rights activists, authorities say they are investigating whether the group incited hatred between national groups by publishing statements by Chechen separatist leaders in its newspaper. The organization's eight employees in this Volga River city, 250 miles east of Moscow, face up to four years in prison if they are ultimately brought to court and convicted. Activists nationwide fear that the government, which insists the situation is normalizing in Chechnya, is determined to shut down alternative points of view on the conflict there, beginning with smaller, regional groups such as the friendship society. "There is a de facto information blockade on Chechnya," said Tatiana Lokshina, program director at the Moscow Helsinki Group, one of the country's best-known human rights organizations. "These are groups that undermine the blockade, and so they become dangerous, and the state is trying to get rid of them." Many of the groups now feeling pressure from the government operate with foreign funding. The Russian-Chechen Friendship Society is entirely underwritten by the European Union, the U.S. government-funded National Endowment for Democracy and the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Another group, the Chechen Committee for National Salvation, which is funded by the E.U. and the NED, went on trial Wednesday in Ingushetia, a Russian republic bordering Chechnya, on charges of disseminating extremist information in its press releases. Official hostility to Russia's emerging collection of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) found its most prominent expression in President Vladimir Putin's state of the nation address last year. "Far from all of them are geared towards defending people's real interests," Putin said. "For some of these organizations, the priority is rather different -- obtaining funding from influential foreign or domestic foundations. For others it is servicing dubious group and commercial interests." Russian officials defend their probes, saying human rights groups have nothing to fear if they obey the law. "We think this material incites national hatred between Russian and Chechens," said Maxim Dudnik, an investigator at the Nizhny Novgorod prosecutor's office. "I wouldn't say this case is politically motivated. Organizations have to follow the criminal code of the Russian federation; no one has yet canceled this code." The Nizhny Novgorod group's alleged offense was to publish a March 2004 appeal to the European Parliament by Aslan Maskhadov, the separatist leader who was killed in Chechnya in March during an operation by Russian special forces. Maskhadov, who served briefly as president of Chechnya in the 1990s, asked the Parliament to recognize the conflict as "genocide," invoking its earlier declaration that Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin's forced deportation of Chechens during World War II was an act of genocide. First published on a Chechen Web site, Maskhadov's appeal drew little attention from the news media. It was picked up by the BBC's monitoring service, two news agencies and the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society's monthly newspaper, Pravo-Zashchita, or Human Rights Defender. The European Parliament never acted on Maskhadov's rhetorically heated appeal, which coupled talk of peace with attacks on what he called the "criminal madness of the bloody Kremlin regime." At first, the FSB said the article and another published statement by one of Maskhadov's deputies appeared to violate Russia's counterterrorism laws banning extremist material. That allegation was dropped, and now the group is being investigated for "inciting hatred between nationalities." "Russians are entitled to the opinions of both sides in Chechnya," said Dmitrievsky, 39, whose group also runs humanitarian and educational programs. "But we don't publish calls for hatred between national groups." Monitoring human rights abuses in the North Caucasus region, which includes Chechnya, is a dangerous pursuit. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights has documented 13 killings of human rights defenders there since 1999, when war broke out in the breakaway republic for a second time. The killings included four field correspondents for the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society. In the months since the FSB hauled away the society's records in January, all six of its correspondents in Chechnya have been interviewed; one quit following his interrogation, Dmitrievsky said. Recently, one of the group's officers, Oksana Chelysheva, 37, was targeted by a leaflet campaign in her Nizhny Novgorod neighborhood. The leaflets, which contained Chelysheva's name and address, said: "There are beasts among us. They look like normal law-abiding citizens, but support terrorist activities." It was signed by the previously unknown Young Patriotic Front. Prosecutors said they were investigating the leaflets. The trial of the Chechen Committee for National Salvation grows out of an accusation in its press releases that Russian forces were involved in the killing and abductions of civilians in Chechnya. The committee, based in Ingushetia, was acquitted of the same charges last October, but in February, the republic's Supreme Court ordered a retrial, urging the lower court to return a "lawful and grounded ruling." The head of the organization, Ruslan Badalov, would face up to five years in prison and the group could be closed if the court found the material to be extremist. "It was a political order, because the accusations are absurd," said Badalov, 49, pointing to the first acquittal and an analysis by the Independent Council of Legal Experts in Moscow, which said the press releases did not violate the law. "It's fantasy on their part. But they want to close us." In a letter produced in court during the first trial, the FSB wrote to prosecutors that it "possesses information that these international NGOs are used by the governments of foreign countries for collecting and disseminating slanted information about the policy of the federal government in the Northern Caucasus. . . . Their aim is to discredit Russia in the eyes of the world community." Among the statements in the 12 press releases in question was one referring to the deaths of five people in Chechnya: "It is obvious that all of them have fallen victim to terrorist activity conducted by Russian security forces," according to the prosecutor's submission to the court. One human rights activist in Moscow described the releases as "sloppily written, but not criminal under the law." Prosecutors in Ingushetia did not respond to requests for interviews. The trial resumes on Tuesday. Human rights groups fear that these regional prosecutions are the opening moves in a campaign that could affect larger and more prestigious rights organizations such as the Moscow Helsinki Group and Memorial. "I think they can reach us sooner or later," said Oleg Orlov, a leader at Memorial. "A few years ago we would have said that what's happening to the Friendship Society could never happen. So today, if they are successful in suffocating regional organizations, we can easily be next." Dudnik, with the Nizhny Novgorod's prosecutor's office, said the European Union and other foreign donors "should be much more careful about who they are financing." Last year, the Friendship Society received approximately $120,000 from the E.U., $70,000 from the NED and $40,000 from Norway. In 2004, the Committee for National Salvation received about $130,000 from the E.U. and $45,000 from the NED. Dmitrievsky and other activists said Russian foundations and businesses generally did not underwrite human rights work, fearing it would be construed by the Kremlin as unwelcome political meddling. U.S. and European officials have expressed concern privately to Russian officials about the investigations, according to a Western diplomat in Moscow, but have not publicly criticized the prosecutors' actions, preferring to wait for final verdicts. "We review the reports they send out and they are not advocating violence," said John Squier, program officer for Russia and Ukraine at the Washington-based NED. "I am very concerned for their well-being."
Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation 9 May 2005 Circassians Publish a Petition to Recognize the Circassian Genocide A petition with a demand of recognising the genocide of the Circassian people by the Russian tsarist government in the 18-19 centuries is posted at www.petitiononline.com and addressed to the UN, U.S. Congress, the Council of Europe and international community, Regnum news agency says. The address is timed to 21 May which is a Caucasus War Victims Commemoration Day traditionally observed by Circassians around the world. A victory parade of the tsar's troops was conducted on 21 May 1864 to mark the complete victory over the Circassians. The international community should recognise the genocide of the Circassian people and provide Circassians with an opportunity to come back to their historic homeland. At the same time, any violent measures to restore justice, including terrorism, are resolutely excluded the message says. More than 1.5 million Circassians died in the 100-year war with Russia, more than 1 million were deported to Turkey and Middle East countries. Circassians are still deprived of an opportunity to preserve themselves as an ethnicity. Those living in various countries around the world are assimilated and losing their ethnic identity. But even those Circassians that remain in the Caucasus (in Shapsugia, Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria) are doomed to gradually die out by Russia's nationalities policy, the petition says. The Russian government in all possible ways prevents Adyghs from coming back to their homeland and intolerable conditions are created for repatriates, indicates the document. Recognition of the genocide of the Circassian is, in the opinion of the authors of the address, a prerequisite to restore historic justice and preserve the ethnic cultural heritage of the Adyghs and the ethnicity itself. Fewer than 1 million Adyghs (Adygeis, Kabardians and Circassians) live in Russia according to the International Circassian Association, whereas the foreign diaspora numbers over 6 million ethnic Circassians. http://www.petitiononline.com/adighe/petition.html
NYT 15 May 2005 1945's Legacy: A Terror Defeated, Another Arrives By ROGER COHEN THE Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Yakovenko, had an interesting suggestion the other day. "The job of historians is to tell the truth," he ventured. If only it were that simple. Mr. Yakovenko made this cute observation as he waded into the historical minefield that President Bush was also navigating last week. At the core of the explosive issues confronted by the president in the Baltic states and Moscow lies this vexed question: Can a meaningful distinction be made, in moral terms, between Communist totalitarian terror and Nazism? Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the president of Latvia, gave her own answer in a statement before Mr. Bush's arrival in her country. The defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945 was no liberation for the Baltic states, she suggested, because "it meant slavery, it meant occupation, it meant subjugation and it meant Stalinist terror." Unlike the leaders of Lithuania and Estonia, who snubbed the event, Ms. Vike-Freiberga attended last Monday's ceremonies in Red Square commemorating the 60th anniversary of the defeat of the Nazis. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, surprised nobody by choosing to avoid any expression of contrition for postwar Soviet rule of the Baltic states. The Latvian president, commenting that a Russian apology "would have been nice," called the proceedings "surreal." So it goes. History is indeed making a surreal comeback - in Beijing and Seoul (where Japan is the target), and in Riga and Moscow. It is reasonable to ask why. The answer is that unraveling the tangled legacy of the cold war is time-consuming. That struggle had its imperatives, dictated by the ideological confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union. The manipulation of memory and truth created a web of obfuscation stretching from Santiago to Stalingrad. For 44 years, history on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain bore no relation to "truth"; it was an exercise in glorifying Communism. In the West, truth could also be a casualty. The 15 years since the Berlin Wall fell have gone some way toward casting light on cold war shadows, but have not dispelled them. The disputes of the past two weeks illustrate the lingering difficulties. Russia, outraged that the result of its Great Patriotic War, fought at a terrible cost, could be viewed as "slavery and subjugation" by its neighbors, asked whether those neighbors would have been around at all if the Red Army had not helped defeat Hitler. "When people today discuss whether we occupied anybody's country or not, I want to ask them: what would have happened to you had we not broken the back of fascism?" the Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, declared. "Would your people be among the living now?" Fair question - but not one that removes Moscow's responsibility for mass deportations from the Baltic states after 1945. Mr. Putin also weighed in, suggesting that the indignation from Riga to Vilnius was aimed in part at disguising a history of collaboration with the Nazis. Behind this historical poker - I'll see your "terror" and raise you a "collaboration" - lies the fact that years of debate have not resolved how the terrible twins of the 20th century, Communism and Nazism, should be viewed on a scale of evil. Perhaps it does not matter: the tens of millions of victims of the two ideologies will not return and the European collective suicide that handed America the world cannot be undone. Perhaps, also, any view depends on geography: from the standpoint of the Baltic states or Ukraine, the scourge of Communism is much more palpable than it is on the Left Bank of the Seine. Still, something is disturbing about the Russian stonewalling since Mr. Bush suggested this month that while 1945 brought liberation to Western Europe, it brought a "painful history" to other parts of the continent. After all, there can now be little debate that the exercise of Communism, whatever the idealism of its origins, killed upward of 80 million people in the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Eastern Europe, North Korea and Vietnam. Nor can there be any doubt that terror, concentration camps and wholesale liquidations in the name of class struggle (against "kulaks" or "reactionaries") formed an intrinsic part of the system brought to an apogee of terror by Stalin. Indeed, in terms of sheer numbers, Communism's claim to have been more murderous than Nazism is persuasive: it lasted longer and its reach was greater. But because its crimes were more scattered and less visible to the West, because Communism exercised such an enduring fascination on intellectuals, and because it was indeed the Red Army that helped crush the Third Reich, the terror of which Ms. Vike-Freiberga spoke has always appeared less vivid and less uniform in Paris or London or New York than Hitler's genocide. It is also true that the killing from Ukraine to China in the name of class struggle never became Hitler's industrialized mass murder and did not aim at the physical elimination of a whole people - an idea and method that have held the Western imagination with a particular force. The aim of the Nazis was extermination of the Jews, whereas Stalin's liquidations were the byproduct rather than the core of his ideology. These distinctions are real. But it remains striking that Nazism was judged at Nuremberg, whereas the crimes of Communism have never come before an international tribunal. The resulting gray areas provide space for Russia to dig in, proclaim its great achievements, and dismiss the pain its victory inflicted. The international community did agree four years ago to hold one tribunal that would address a Communist crime: the 1.5 million Cambodians sacrificed to the social engineering of Pol Pot. But this killing was part of the dirty business of the cold war, implicating many actors, and so the will has never been found to hold the trial. Even now, as the past week shows, the dirty laundry of Communism has not yet been hung out in the sun. The search for truth remains a work in progress. Roger Cohen, who writes the Globalist column for The International Herald Tribune, is author of"Soldiers and Slaves: American P.O.W.'s Trapped by the Nazis' Final Gamble" (Knopf).
NYT 9 May 2005 Serbian Nationalists Turn a Funeral Into a Tribute to a Fugitive By NICHOLAS WOOD NIKSIC, Serbia and Montenegro, May 8 - Jovanka Karadzic, an 83-year-old widow, was laid to rest in this Montenegrin town this weekend with honors befitting a national heroine. Her great achievement, most here said, was her son, Radovan, a psychiatrist and poet, but better known to the outside world as the leader of the Bosnian Serbs during Bosnia's civil war, from 1992 to 1995. He is one of the most wanted war crimes suspects sought by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in The Hague. Almost 10 years have passed since the tribunal indicted him as the main advocate of killing or forcing out Bosnia's Muslims and Croats during the war, in which an estimated 150,000 people were killed. But in spite of repeated efforts to seize him, mainly by NATO-led troops in Bosnia, he has avoided capture. Officials at the war crimes tribunal say a well-financed support network that includes police officers and members of the intelligence services in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro, as well as members of the Serbian Orthodox Church, has enabled Dr. Karadzic to remain on the run. The funeral of Ms. Karadzic provided her son's admirers - for whom Dr. Karadzic still holds near mythical status - an opportunity to show their support for him. It was also a reminder of his elusiveness. Former soldiers, a few wearing T-shirts bearing Dr. Karadzic's picture and the slogan "Serbian Hero," attended a packed service at the main public cemetery here. The two most senior members of Montenegro's Serbian Orthodox Church led the funeral, which was attended by people who had traveled from Bosnia and Serbia for the occasion. Amfilohije Radovic, the metropolitan of Montenegro, described Ms. Karadzic as "the mother of an immortal." He described a conversation he said he once had with her. "She once said: 'I would be a happy mother if they brought my son's dead body for me to kiss if I know he had died devoted to truth and his people. I would be an unhappy mother if they brought him to me alive and he had betrayed his people and his fate.' " For Serbian nationalists, who make up the largest block of voters in both Serbia and Bosnia's Serbian republic, Dr. Karadzic remains a symbol of defiance against the rest of the world, all the more important perhaps since their governments have begun to cooperate with the tribunal. Substantial evidence of Dr. Karadzic's whereabouts has been scarce. The tribunal's chief prosecutor said at one stage Dr. Karadzic had been given refuge at a Serbian Orthodox monastery near Niksic, a claim the church denied. A Bosnian newspaper also published claims that he had cut off his thick gray locks, and adopted a monk's habit. Although Serbian and Bosnian Serb authorities long stonewalled on arresting suspects because of popular opposition to handing them over, international pressure has borne fruit, diplomats in the region maintain, with the transfer of 12 Serbian war crimes suspects this year. As the 10th anniversary of the end of the war approaches late this year, expectations have increased that officials will arrest Dr. Karadzic and the other most wanted suspect, Ratko Mladic, the leader of the Bosnian Serb Army during the war. Serbia's deputy prime minister, Miroljub Labus, said his government hoped that both would be arrested before the anniversary in July of the Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity of the war, when at least 7,000 Muslim men and boys were killed by Serbian forces. "It is particularly scandalous that Karadzic and Mladic are at large now that we approach the Srebrenica commemoration," said Carla Del Ponte, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, in an interview on BBC radio in April. The police appeared to have ruled out the possibility that Dr. Karadzic would show up here, and they had no visible presence. "He is here," said Zoran Stesevic, a former Bosnian Serb soldier attending the funeral. "In our hearts and minds," a friend, Jeca Vojvodic, quickly added, and then smiled. As the funeral broke up, a lone voice wailed across the graveyard, "Long live Rada!"
AP 3 May 2005 TURKEY FEELS HURT BY SWITZERLAND The relations between Turkey and Switzerland are tense again, reported AP/Istanbul. The Zurich Ministry of Justice investigates a case on suspicion of racism of Turkish historian Yusuf Galagoghlu. In his report made in Winterthur Swiss city May 2, 2004 Professor of philological sciences Yusuf Galagoghlu denied the Armenian Genocide in 1915. The Prosecutor's Office of Winterthur started investigation of the Galagoghlu case on suspicion of racism. The case is now investigated in Zurich. Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul criticized the actions of the Swiss authorities. The Turkish FM stated Switzerland has broken European basic rights. «Only the most totalitarian country could have acted that way,» he noted. Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink has also expressed himself on the occasion. «I condemn that decision,» he noted. The Turkish FM also noted that the Swiss authorities are making a mistake. It should be noted that the relations between the two states are complicated due to Switzerland having acknowledged the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey in 1915.
www.turkishweekly.net 27 Apr 2005 Council of Europe supports Erdogan's call for joint 'genocide' probe The New Anatolian / Ankara Members of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) are expressing support for Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's recent suggestion to Armenian President Robert Kocharian that the two sides establish a joint historical commission to study the so-called Armenian genocide claims. Speaking to news channel NTV on Tuesday, European Council General Secretary Terry Davis described Erdogan's overture as "a very good idea." Calling the joint investigation by Turkish and Armenian historians a "reasonable undertaking," Davis said that Erdogan had made a "positive gesture." "I see Erdogan's suggestion as a positive gesture towards understanding these historical events in order to attain to a common perspective, and I support it," he added. PACE calls on Kocharian to accept Erdogan's overture News of the Council of Europe's support for Erdogan's joint commission came earlier this week from the institution's Parliamentary Assembly. Some 80 assembly members signed on Monday a written statement during a general assembly meeting in Strasbourg that called on Kocharian to accept Erdogan's proposition. Kocharian suggests intergovernmental commission Kocharian replied last week to Erdogan's letter by putting forth a very different option. "The political atmosphere should be prepared for dialogue," Kocharian said. He proposed the formation of an intergovernmental commission to study all the problems between the two countries.
BBC 29 Apr 2005 Turkey edges towards Armenia ties Mr Erdogan is pushing hard to get Turkey into the EU Turkey has said it is ready to build "political" relations with Armenia while experts investigate Yerevan's claims of a World War I "genocide". Turkey does not have diplomatic ties with neighbouring Armenia, amid a row over the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915-1917. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said "political relations could be established" during joint studies. Armenia has cautiously welcomed the offer of a joint investigation. On Tuesday, Armenian President Robert Kocharyan said he was ready to accept Mr Erdogan's proposal for a joint commission to probe the killings - but demanded a normalisation of relations first. Armenia wants Turkey to admit the killings were "genocide" Mr Erdogan told Turkey's Milliyet newspaper that the establishment of formal diplomatic relations would depend on Armenia showing "sincerity" towards undertaking a joint investigation. Turkey shut its border with Armenia in 1993, angry at the Armenian separatist forces fighting for independence from Azerbaijan in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia alleges that the Young Turks, the dominant party in the Ottoman Empire in 1915, systematically arranged the deportation and killing of 1.5 million Armenians. Turkey says up to 300,000 Armenians and at least as many Turks died during civil strife in eastern Turkey during World War I, but angrily rejects the allegation of a planned "genocide" of Armenians. Some EU politicians want Turkey to recognise the killings as "genocide" before Ankara is allowed to open talks on EU accession.
DPA 4 May 2005 Schroeder highlights human rights during Turkey visit ANKARA - Turkey must continue to implement human rights reforms ahead of European Union membership negotiations due to begin in October, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said on Wednesday. In Turkey for a two-day official visit, Schroeder told Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the reforms already passed by Turkey were important, but that proper implementation was necessary. He said that changes to the law to give religious minorities further rights were a good step, but that the reforms must go further. Erdogan said, however, that there had been no direct request from Schroeder to allow the reopening of a Greek Orthodox seminary on the Marmara Sea island of Heybeliada, which has been closed since 1971 when all private tertiary institutions were outlawed. Speaking at a press conference with Erdogan, Schroeder tried to allay fears in Turkey that failure to ratify the EU constitution would mean Turkey being left outside the union. The treaty is viewed as essential for an expanded EU. Schroeder said he supported a Turkish proposal for a joint meeting of historians to discuss whether the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Armenians during World War One constituted genocide. Turkey historically has denied genocide took place and the issue has threatened to hurt Turkey's EU membership chances. Speaking later at Marmara University in Istanbul where he received an honorary doctorate, Schroeder said Turkey could learn from Germany's own experience. In coming to terms with what it did during World War Two, it had contributed to peace in Europe. The once hated enemies, France and Germany, were now close friends. The German chancellor also met Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer in Ankara and the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, and attended a Turkish- German Economic Forum.
zaman.com 4 May 2005 'Let Historians to Examine Genocide Allegations' By Erdal Sen Published: Wednesday 04, 2005 German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder visited Ankara last evening as the guest of his Turkish counterpart Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Upon his arrival, the Chancellor gave support for Turkey's European Union (EU) bid and the Armenian issue. Schroder met with Erdogan last night and the two leaders spoke about Turkish-German economics, political, commercial, and cultural relations as well as exchanging views on the EU, Armenia, and Cyprus issues. Schroder provided his support for the suggestions made by Erdogan regarding the formation of a joint historians commission to examine the Armenian issue. "We are happy that you will open the archieves and conduct a complete examination of the issue by specialists and historians. We find this suggestion just correct and we support it," said Schroder. While he praised Turkey's efforts regarding the EU membership process, German Chancellor pointed out the importnance of signing the additional protocol regarding Cyprus issue. It should be signed by October 3 According to information released, "Turkey has so far delivered all its promises in the EU process. I believe it will continue to do so by October 3. Turkey will continue with the reforms. We welcome Turkey's steps regarding the Cyprus issue. I hope that Turkey will sign the Ankara Agreement Protocol by October 3," said Schroder. Touching upon Turkish-German relations as well, he said bilateral relations accelarated more in the last period and wished for further developments in this regard. Schroder will have an official meeting with Erdogan today and will be received by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer at the Presidential Residence. After completing his contacts in Ankara, he will travel to Istanbul around noon and will meet with the Fener Greek Patriarch Bartholomeous. Later, the German Chancellor will visit Marmara University and attend a Turkish-German forum. An entourage of 600 businessmen are accompanying Schroder on his tour.
Anadolu News Agency 9 May 2005 zaman.com Ataturk's Historic Response to Armenian Allegations Founder of Modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk long ago replied to the genocide claims of Armenian Diaspora by saying, "The world cannot accuse us on the Armenian expulsion." Noting that the world cannot say anything to the Turkish state regarding the Armenian expulsion back then, Ataturk summarized the events at the time, "On the contrary to those aspersion cast on us, those who emigrated are alive and others would have been at home too if the coalition of entente states had not forced us to wage war." Ataturk revealed the following historical realities in response to questions of American correspondent, Clanence K Streit on 26 February 1921: "Apart from the huge exaggerations of those who behave like enemies, the emigration of Armenians refers particularly to this event: When the Russian army started to attack us in 1915, the Tashnak Committee under the services of the Tsar, had encourage the Armenians who were supporting our soldier to rebel against them. We always considered ourselves as being caught between the firepower's when comparing the number and equipment advantage of the enemy. Our supply convoys and our wounded troops were brutally killed, the bridges and roads behind us were destroyed and terrorism acts were performed on the residents of Turkish villages. Those groups who accepted that the Armenians could use their guns against their own side to attain their weapons, ammunition and food reserves, benefited from the surrender in Armenian villages." Ataturk also expressed his opinions on the so-called genocide allegations of the Armenians: "A world that almost refuses to consider the behavior of the English in its fight against the Irish does not have any right to intervene with our decisions regarding the Armenians. On the contrary of blames against us, those who emigrated are alive and the rest of them would have also returned also home if the coalition of entente states had not forced us to wage war. Everybody knows the tortures conducted on Armenians following the Brest Litovks Intervention and the discharging of troops to the east by the Russians."
www.timesonline.co.uk 1 May 2005 Blair planned Iraq war from start Michael Smith INSIDE Downing Street Tony Blair had gathered some of his senior ministers and advisers for a pivotal meeting in the build-up to the Iraq war. It was 9am on July 23, 2002, eight months before the invasion began and long before the public was told war was inevitable. The discussion that morning was highly confidential. As minutes of the proceedings, headed “Secret and strictly personal — UK eyes only”, state: “This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.” In the room were the prime minister, Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, and military and intelligence chiefs. Also listed on the minutes are Alastair Campbell, then Blair’s director of strategy, Jonathan Powell, his chief of staff, and Sally Morgan, director of government relations. What they were about to discuss would dominate the political agenda for years to come and indelibly stain Blair’s reputation; and last week the issue exploded again on the political scene as Blair campaigned in the hope of winning a third term as prime minister. For the secret documents — seen by The Sunday Times — reveal that on that Tuesday in 2002: Blair was right from the outset committed to supporting US plans for “regime change” in Iraq. War was already “seen as inevitable”. The attorney-general was already warning of grave doubts about its legality. Straw even said the case for war was “thin”. So Blair and his inner circle set about devising a plan to justify invasion. “If the political context were right,” said Blair, “people would support regime change.” Straightforward regime change, though, was illegal. They needed another reason. By the end of the meeting, a possible path to invasion was agreed and it was noted that Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defence staff, “would send the prime minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week”. Outside Downing Street, the rest of Britain, including most cabinet ministers, knew nothing of this. True, tensions were running high, and fears of terrorism were widespread. But Blair’s constant refrain was that “no decisions” had been taken about what to do with Iraq. The following day in the House of Commons, Blair told MPs: “We have not got to the stage of military action . . . we have not yet reached the point of decision.” It was typical lawyer’s cleverness, if not dissembling: while no actual order had been given to invade, Blair already knew Saddam Hussein was going to be removed, sooner or later. Plans were in motion. The justification would come later. AS a civil service briefing paper specifically prepared for the July meeting reveals, Blair had made his fundamental decision on Saddam when he met President George W Bush in Crawford, Texas, in April 2002. “When the prime minister discussed Iraq with President Bush at Crawford in April,” states the paper, “he said that the UK would support military action to bring about regime change.” Blair set certain conditions: that efforts were first made to try to eliminate Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) through weapons inspectors and to form a coalition and “shape” public opinion. But the bottom line was that he was signed up to ousting Saddam by force if other methods failed. The Americans just wanted to get rid of the brutal dictator, whether or not he posed an immediate threat. This presented a problem because, as the secret briefing paper made clear, there were no clear legal grounds for war. “US views of international law vary from that of the UK and the international community,” says the briefing paper. “Regime change per se is not a proper basis for military action under international law.” To compound matters, the US was not a party to the International Criminal Court, while Britain was. The ICC, which came into force on 1 July, 2002, was set up to try international offences such as war crimes. Military plans were forging ahead in America but the British, despite Blair’s commitment, played down talk of war. In April, Straw told MPs that no decisions about military action “are likely to be made for some time”. That month Blair said in the Commons: “We will ensure the house is properly consulted.” On July 17 he told MPs: “As I say constantly, no decisions have yet been taken.” Six days later in Downing Street the man who opened the secret discussion of Blair’s war meeting was John Scarlett, chairman of the joint intelligence committee. A former MI6 officer, Scarlett had become a key member of Blair’s “sofa cabinet”. He came straight to the point — “Saddam’s regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action”. Saddam was expecting an attack, said Scarlett, but was not convinced it would be “immediate or overwhelming”. His assessment reveals that the primary impetus to action over Iraq was not the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction — as Blair later told the country — but the desire to overthrow Saddam. There was little talk of WMD at all. The next contributor to the meeting, according to the minutes, was “C”, as the chief of MI6 is traditionally known. Sir Richard Dearlove added nothing to what Scarlett had said about Iraq: his intelligence concerned his recent visit to Washington where he had held talks with George Tenet, director of the CIA. “Military action was now seen as inevitable,” said Dearlove. “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD.” The Americans had been trying to link Saddam to the 9/11 attacks; but the British knew the evidence was flimsy or non-existent. Dearlove warned the meeting that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy”. It was clear from Dearlove’s brief visit that the US administration’s attitude would compound the legal difficulties for Britain. The US had no patience with the United Nations and little inclination to ensure an invasion was backed by the security council, he said. Nor did the Americans seem very interested in what might happen in the aftermath of military action. Yet, as Boyce then reported, events were already moving swiftly. “CDS (chief of the defence staff) said that military planners would brief (Donald) Rumsfeld (US defence secretary) on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.” The US invasion plans centred around two options. One was a full-blown reprise of the 1991 Gulf war, a steady and obvious build-up of troops over several months, followed by a large-scale invasion. The other was a “running start”. Seizing on an Iraqi casus belli, US and RAF patrols over the southern no-fly zone would knock out the Iraqi air defences. Allied special forces would then carry out a series of small-scale operations in tandem with the Iraqi opposition, with more forces joining the battle as they arrived, eventually toppling Saddam’s regime. The “running start” was, said Boyce, “a hazardous option”. In either case the US saw three options for British involvement. The first allowed the use of the bases in Diego Garcia and Cyprus and three squadrons of special forces; the second added RAF aircraft and Royal Navy ships; the third threw in 40,000 ground troops “perhaps with a discrete role in northern Iraq entering from Turkey”. At the least the US saw the use of British bases as “critical”, which posed immediate legal problems. And Hoon said the US had already begun “spikes of activity” to put pressure on the regime. AMID all this talk of military might and invasion plans, one awkward voice spoke up. Straw warned that, though Bush had made up his mind on military action, the case for it was “thin”. He was not thinking in purely legal terms. A few weeks later the government would paint Saddam as an imminent threat to the Middle East and the world. But that morning in private Straw said: “Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran.” It was a key point. If Saddam was not an immediate threat, could war be justified legally? The attorney-general made his position clear, telling the meeting that “the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action”. Right from the outset, the minutes reveal, the government’s legal adviser had grave doubts about Blair’s plans; he would only finally conclude unequivocally that war was legal three days before the invasion, by which time tens of thousands of troops were already on the borders of Iraq. There were three possible legal bases for military action, said Goldsmith. Self-defence, intervention to end an humanitarian crisis and a resolution from the UN Security Council. Neither of the first two options was a possibility with Iraq; it had to be a UN resolution. But relying, as some hoped they could, on an existing UN resolution, would be “difficult”. Despite voicing concerns, Straw was not standing in the way of war. It was he who suggested a solution: they should force Saddam into a corner where he would give them a clear reason for war. “We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors,” he said. If he refused, or the weapons inspectors found WMD, there would be good cause for war. “This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force,” said Straw. From the minutes, it seems as if Blair seized on the idea as a way of reconciling the US drive towards invasion and Britain’s need for a legal excuse. “The prime minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors,” record the minutes. “Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD . . . If the political context were right, people would support regime change.” Blair would subsequently portray the key issue to parliament and the people as the threat of WMD; and weeks later he would produce the now notorious “sexed up” dossier detailing Iraq’s suspected nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes. But in the meeting Blair said: “The two key issues are whether the military plan works and whether we have the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.” Hoon said that if the prime minister wanted to send in the troops, he would have to decide early. The defence chiefs were pressing to be allowed to buy large amounts of equipment as “urgent operational requirements”. They had been prevented from preparing for war, partly by Blair’s insistence that there could be no publicly visible preparations that might inflame splits in his party, partly by the fact there was no authorisation to spend any money. The meeting concluded that they should plan for the UK taking part in any military action. Boyce would send Blair full details; Blair would come back with a decision about money; and Straw would send Blair the background on the UN inspectors and “discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam”. The final note of the minutes, says: “We must not ignore the legal issues: the attorney-general would consider legal advice with (Foreign Office/Ministry of Defence) legal advisers.” It was a prophetic warning. Also seen by The Sunday Times is the Foreign Office opinion on the possible legal bases for war. Marked “Confidential”, it runs to eight pages and casts doubt on the possibility of reviving the authority to use force from earlier UN resolutions. “Reliance on it now would be unlikely to receive any support,” it says. Foreign Office lawyers were consistently doubtful of the legality of war and one deputy legal director, Elizabeth Wilmshurst, ultimately resigned because she believed the conflict was a “crime of aggression”. The Foreign Office briefing on the legal aspects was made available for the Downing Street meeting on July 23. Ten days ago, when Blair was interviewed by the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, the prime minister was asked repeatedly whether he had seen that advice. “No,” said Blair. “I had the attorney-general’s advice to guide me.” But as the July 23 documents show, the attorney-general’s view was, until the last minute, also riven with doubts. Three years on, it and the questionable legality of the war are still hanging round Blair’s neck like an albatross.
www.timesonline.co.uk 1 May 2005 The secret Downing Street memo SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY DAVID MANNING From: Matthew Rycroft Date: 23 July 2002 S 195 /02 cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER'S MEETING, 23 JULY Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq. This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents. John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam's regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based. C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action. CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August. The two broad US options were: (a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait). (b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option. The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were: (i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons. (ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition. (iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions. The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun "spikes of activity" to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections. The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force. The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change. The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work. On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions. For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary. The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN. John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real. The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush. Conclusions: (a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options. (b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation. (c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week. (d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam. He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states. (e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update. (f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers. (I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.) MATTHEW RYCROFT (Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide)
Guardian UK 3 May 2005 Comment The way we live Top marks in genocide Tuesday May 3, 2005 There are 150 assessments in for the course I teach at Kingston University. It's on comparative genocide, but we call it "The Politics of Mass Murder". My students complain about the title, but this term there have been queues outside my office to discuss reading, to show me plans of their assessments and, even rarer, just to ask questions. We start with a lecture on Darfur compared with Saddam Hussein's Anfal campaign against the Kurds. Then we consider Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, the Yugoslav civil war and Rwanda. After class I open my email: a UN report from the Sudan describes an ambush in which 11 people are killed; a Human Rights Watch report on the use of rape in the Congo is published - I should set my Google alerts to some lighter keywords. Perhaps "doughnuts" - then among all this stuff would come news of a Krispy Kreme opening, always a cause for celebration. Should the Russian civil war be understood as something akin to the politics of mass murder or something different? This is what history professors do. We debate the meaning of the middle of the 20th or earlier centuries. But this year the world keeps intruding. First: scenes from Hotel Rwanda keep playing in my head. At the end of a seminar in which I praised the film, a Rwandan woman in her early 20s attacked its portrayal of passive Africans. It did not even look like Rwanda, she said. It was not like that. History matters, but each week the students pull discussion towards the present - to Darfur, Iraq, Congo. This year has seen a different kind of teaching. Kingston is a very apolitical town, yet this year it seems to have noticed that the rest of the world exists. Is something happening? I ask students how many intend to vote in the election; few raise their hands. Back to marking: how to compare a machete and Stalin's gulag? Simple, the first paper I mark tells me; men made both of these things for killing. Not God, not nature, not ideology, not innate evil, just men. Well, that is as good a place as any to start the argument. I wonder if this student intends to vote. Brian Brivati
Guardian UK 6 May 2005 Galloway victory blow for Labour Maverick anti-war candidate wreaks revenge on party that expelled him by mobilising Muslim vote Audrey Gillan and Hugh Muir Friday May 6, 2005 The Guardian George Galloway stunned the party which expelled him for his anti-war stance by stealing the safe Labour seat of Bethnal Green and Bow from Oona King, who voted for the invasion of Iraq. In a sensational result, the former Labour MP for Glasgow Kelvin triumphed in the east London constituency which has been held by Labour since 1945. Operating on a shoestring budget, the newly-founded Respect party targeted the 40% Muslim vote in the constituency and hammered home its anti-war message by depicting Ms King as a patsy for Tony Blair. Conceding defeat before the result of the country's most vicious electoral battle was announced, a Labour party spokesman said Bethnal Green and Bow should not have been a referendum on Iraq. He said: "It should have been about the future of Tower Hamlets, about services, education, housing and health. This is bad for Tower Hamlets. It shouldn't have been a single issue referendum on Iraq. "The Bengali community hasn't deserted us. It seems that Galloway has persuaded people who have not voted in the past, mainly young Bengali men, to come out and vote. Respect is a one-issue party and is not going to be able to deliver." A spokesman for Mr Galloway said: "This result is the final nail in the coffin of Tony Blair's premiership. And if anyone thinks Gordon Brown is going to be different they're living in cloud cuckoo land." Ms King told the Guardian earlier this week that she did not regret her decision to vote for the war in Iraq. "I am not pro-war, I am anti-genocide. I regret many things that have happened in Iraq but I cannot regret the removal of the man that was responsible for so many deaths. I don't regret that. I think that people have to realise it is not the main issue on the doorstep." Mr Galloway - infamous for his televised handshake with Saddam Hussein in which he said "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability" - fought a hard campaign amid allegations that his move from a seat in Scotland to one in the heart of London's East End was purely opportunistic carpet-bagging. Bethnal Green and Bow has been one of the country's most hotly-contested and bitter electoral fights, characterised by violence and allegations of intimidation and dirty tricks. Ms King was pelted with eggs and had her cars tyres slashed, while Mr Galloway was attacked by fundamentalists who condemned him for asking Muslims to vote. Both had police escorts on occasion. The Respect party also threatened to sue Ms King after she claimed that its canvassers had told Muslim voters not to vote for her because she is Jewish. Before the campaign even kicked off, Ms King was forced to pay Mr Galloway's legal costs and made a £1,000 donation to a charity over allegations she made in a press conference and press release last year about sexually improper behaviour. Last Sunday Mr Galloway's wife, Amineh Abu-Zayyad, announced through a newspaper that she was seeking a divorce. Yesterday the constituency saw its largest police presence ever on polling day, with hundreds of officers on the street and some forced to drive rental cars. Every polling station had at least one officer outside it as compared to three on previous elections, and dozens of police patrolled Brick Lane at the heart of the constituency's Bangladeshi community. Respect's lead there, at the centre of the city's curryland, was said to be seven to one. Ms King was defending a majority of 10,000 and her campaign team always acknowledged that this would be scythed by a Muslim electorate angry at her support of the invasion of Iraq, as well as anti-terrorism legislation which resulted in a number of Muslims being detained without charge or trial. Labour claimed that a vote for Mr Galloway would let the Tories in by the back door. The Conservative candidate, Shahagir Farukh, was running second in two of the wards, according to monitors. Mr Galloway was expelled from the Labour party in 2003 over his strong criticism of the Iraq war. Ms King is the daughter of a Jewish mother and a black US civil rights activist who avoided the Vietnam draft (and was later pardoned by Bill Clinton). Bethnal Green and Bow is one of the country's poorest constituencies, beset with urban problems including poor housing and drugs. One of the most culturally diverse areas in the country, it is home to the traditional white working class of the East End, trendy and prosperous young newcomers, Bengalis, Sudanese, Somalis, Afghans and eastern Europeans as well as besuited City workers. But it is a constituency with a dismal voting record; just 50.2% of voters turned out in 2001, 19,380 of them for Ms King, with the Conservatives second on 9,323. Yesterday's turn-out was exceptional. Bethnal Green and Bow had attracted the most money at the bookies, with odds on George Galloway shrinking from 20-1 to 2-1 during the campaign. Bookmakers had detected a clear shift back to Oona King in recent days See http://www.respectcoalition.org/ www.oonaking.labour.co.uk/
Background: The All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region & Genocide Prevention (APPG) was founded in 1998 by Oona King MP after a visit to Rwanda by the House of Commons Select Committee on International Development. Since then, the APPG has increased its focus to cover the whole Great Lakes region: namely Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and Northern Uganda. The UK's shameful failure to prevent genocide in Rwanda demonstrates the need for information, pressure and analysis to be available so that Parliamentarians can play their role in preventing future genocides. The APPG is working to ensure that the UK puts in place effective measures for preventing genocide. Today, the APPG has 158 members and is the leading forum in Parliament for discussion and critical analysis of policy issues affecting the people of the Great Lakes region. The All Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes Region & Genocide Prevention. www.appggreatlakes.org. See also http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmparty/050411/memi263.htm
www.telegraph.co.uk 11 Apr 2005 Jewish MP pelted with eggs at war memorial By Richard Alleyne (Filed: 11/04/2005) The campaign for what promises to be one of the most bitterly contested parliamentary seats got off to an explosive start yesterday when the MP Oona King was pelted with eggs and vegetables as she attended a memorial to Jewish war dead. Miss King, 37, the black Jewish Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, was attacked as she joined mourners to commemorate 60 years since the Hughes Mansions Disaster, when 134 people, almost all Jewish, were killed by the last V2 missile to land on London. Oona King has enraged her Muslim constituents by supporting the war in Iraq The eggs missed her, but one hit a war veteran, Louis Lewis, 89, in the chest and an onion struck Richard Brett, a bugler from the Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade who sounded the Last Post at the ceremony. Miss King, who enraged many of her Muslim constituents when she openly supported the war in Iraq, told the crowd that the attack was one of the "saddest" things she had ever witnessed. Clearly angry, she said: "I think they were aimed at me but the sheer ignorance never mind the lack of respect is shocking. They have no idea where their freedom came from and who gave it to them. "They don't know they are lucky to be here. That is truly one of the saddest things that I have ever seen. There were people who helped save this country, having eggs pelted at them at a time when they are remembering those they had lost. It is disgusting." The incident demonstrated how high feelings are running in the east London constituency, which has 55,000 Bangladeshi Muslims, more than half its electorate, most of whom bitterly opposed the war in Iraq. Such is the resentment that George Galloway, one of the leading anti-war MPs, has targeted the seat for himself and his newly formed Respect party. Even though he has no connections to the constituency - his former seat is 400 miles away in Glasgow - he hopes that personal animosity towards Miss King will help him overturn her 10,000 majority. Yesterday's display of hatred proved he may be on to something. Even a police van called in to make sure the ceremony remained peaceful was pelted with eggs. The incident also showed the changing face of the East End. Back in 1945 when the bomb struck, the area was predominantly Jewish. But since the war most of those have moved out, and been replaced by Muslims. Yesterday's mourners, many who had lost friends and family in the attack, wholeheartedly supported the MP. Unfortunately for her most of them now lived in the suburbs. One of the few who remains, Irene Rosenthal, 80, a grandmother, who lives in the East End with her husband Leslie, 79, a taxi driver, said: "She is lovely. I will be voting for Oona. I don't like George Galloway. He knows nothing about the area." But many of the Muslims, especially the young men, now living in Hughes Mansions resented her presence. Ibn Alkhattab, 21, said: "It will be all about the war. There is enormous anger. No one will vote for her." His friend added: "She represented these people and then voted for the war. We all hate her. She comes here with her Jewish friends who are killing our people and then they come to our back yards. "It is out of order. What do they expect?" Later Miss King, the daughter of the black American civil rights activist, Preston King, who was brought up in north London, and Mr Galloway, a factory worker's son from Dundee, traded insults at a constituency event organised by BBC London 94.9FM at a local arts centre. Both candidates, who were vocally supported by large sections of the audience, took every opportunity to attack their opponents. Miss King, who said she would not trust her opponent to "deliver a pizza" far less effective policies, attacked him for his close association to Saddam Hussein and in particular when he flew out to visit the dictator. "When I come across someone who is guilty of genocide I do not get on a plane and grovel at his feet," she said to whoops of delight from her supporters. He hit back when asked how he felt about challenging one of just two black women MPs in government. "Oona King voted to kill a lot of women in the last few years," he replied. "Many of them had much darker skins than her."
Scotsman UK 15 May 2005 Protesters Stage Coffin Protest over Darfur Genocide By Tim Moynihan, PA A hearse took a coffin to the gates of Downing Street today as protesters called for greater Government action to stop the killings in Darfur. Survivors from the Holocaust, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur itself presented a detailed dossier urging the Government to table a UN resolution giving the African Union mission in the Sudanese region the authority it needs to protect against genocide. The coffin symbolised the loss of Black Africans in Darfur, where an estimated 400,000 people have been killed in the last two years. Dr James Smith, chief executive of the Aegis Trust, which co-ordinates the Protect Darfur campaign, said: “Right at the start of its third term, we want to highlight to the Government that aid for Darfur is not enough. Securing a UN mandate for protection of people facing genocide in Darfur has to be a priority.” Campaigners want the UN Security Council to provide a mandate for peace enforcement operations in Darfur, to be led by the African Union with support from wealthy nations.
NYT 14 May 2005 The Vatican's Sin of Omission By ARTHUR HERTZBERG LASTweek, Pope Benedict XVI vowed to Rome's former chief rabbi that he would renew the Vatican's commitment to Catholic-Jewish dialogue. The statement, which came at the same time that Germany unveiled its new Holocaust memorial in central Berlin, was but one of several gestures the new pope has extended toward a receptive Jewish community. The Israeli government, the Anti-Defamation League and the European Jewish Congress have welcomed these overtures and urged Benedict to continue his predecessor's work. But from my own experience as the chairman, more than 30 years ago, of the first international Jewish delegation to meet formally with a comparable delegation from the Vatican, I am far from certain that a new age in the Jewish-Catholic relationship has dawned. At that Paris meeting in 1971, we asked the Vatican to acknowledge that it had remained silent while Europe's Jews were murdered. The Catholic delegation responded that it was not empowered to act. The delegates were following the instructions of the Vatican's commission on theology, which held that the policies of Pope Pius XII and the church under the Nazis could not be questioned, because the church and its leader are, as the First Vatican Council declared in 1870, free of error on matters of doctrine and morality. When Cardinal Ratzinger became the head of that Vatican commission, he issued the same advice to Pope John Paul II, who pronounced the murder of six million Jews by the Nazis an unspeakable crime, but a crime by some Catholics, not by the church. This position obscures the fact that in 1930's and 1940's Europe, the Roman Catholic Church was the only institution that possessed the moral stature and strength to denounce and forbid the murder of the Jews. It did not do so. And in all the years since, rather than acknowledging this failure to provide moral leadership in the critical hour, the Vatican has repeatedly claimed that while individual Catholics behaved sinfully or misunderstood what the church taught, the sin of letting the Holocaust happen at its doorstep need not haunt the church as an institution. This remained the Vatican's view throughout the 1990's, even though both the German and the French bishops' national conferences issued ringing confessions of their wartime sins. In 1995 the German bishops pointed out that the "church community" had "looked too fixedly at the threat to their own institutions" and "remained silent about the crimes committed against Jews and Judaism." The French bishops, for their part, stirringly concluded their September 1997 statement with the following words: "In the face of so great and utter a tragedy, too many of the church's pastors committed an offense, by their silence, against the church itself and its mission," and added: "This failing of the church of France and of her responsibility toward the Jewish people are part of our history. We confess this sin. We beg God's pardon, and we call upon the Jewish people to hear our words of repentance." Not only did the Vatican fail to adopt a similar attitude of contrition, but Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Edward Cassidy, who was then in charge of Jewish-Catholic relations, devalued the French and German bishops' statements. When he was elected, Benedict XVI knew that there were doubts about him within the Jewish community, and he tried to allay them. His supporters could point to some significant achievements from his quarter-century as guardian of Catholic orthodoxy. Under John Paul II, the Vatican forbade the teaching of anti-Semitism, for example, and Cardinal Ratzinger authorized the publication of a 2002 report expressing regret that certain New Testament passages condemning individual Jews had been used to justify anti-Semitism. He added, "It cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance by Christians to this atrocity is explained by the anti-Judaism present in the soul of more than a few Christians." What Cardinal Ratzinger did not do, however, was to question the orthodox Catholic position that though individual Catholics can err morally, the church and the pope cannot. Until the Vatican reconsiders that outlook, one of the Holocaust's greatest wounds will continue to fester - namely, that the major European institution that stood for morality looked away from genocide. No amount of personal outreach toward the Jews and Judaism from the new pope will make the Jews forget that the institution of which he is the monarch has not come to terms with that history. Arthur Hertzberg, avisiting professor of the humanities at New York University, is the author of "The Fate of Zionism."
Forward.com 13 May 2005 Genocidal Threats Demand More Than Just Memorializing By Yehuda Bauer May 13, 2005 The recent opening of Berlin's Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and of Yad Vashem's new museum in Jerusalem are important and welcome developments. But we must go beyond our singular focus on memorializing the Holocaust. We must help people realize that genocidal violence is a threat to all people. We must demand of the political world — in our own interest, and the interest of the wider community — to finally put actions behind its pledge to "never forget." Any examination of the Holocaust must involve an examination of the general phenomenon of genocide. The internationally recognized legal definition delineated by the Genocide Convention of 1948 is unsatisfactory, but any attempt to change it is all but politically impossible. This is the definition of genocide with which we must work, but every effort should be made to expand our understanding of what it should imply. Political mass murder, ethnic cleansing designed to annihilate a group and global genocidal ideologies such as radical Islam very much fit the concept of genocide, in spirit if not in letter. These are genocidal threats, and as such they should be added to the convention's definition that genocide is the intent to annihilate ethnic, national, racial and religious groups. The genocide of the Jewish people — inaccurately known as the Holocaust — is, as far as we know, the most extreme case of genocide to date. Each and every genocide has targeted a specific group of people. In order to understand genocide, therefore, one has to deal with the specific group targeted. Jews were not transported to extermination camps because they were humans; humans were transported because they were Jews. The Young Turks did not randomly kill masses of humans; they killed Armenians. The same is true for the Tutsi in Rwanda, and for the ethnic Africans being murdered in Darfur by Arab Janjaweed militias. Each genocide is different, but it would be a mistake to dismiss the similarities. Foremost among them is the suffering of the victims. There is no better or worse genocide, just as there is no better or worse murder, no better or worse torture. There is no scale to measure suffering. Jews, Armenians or Poles who were martyred and murdered all suffered the same. Another characteristic common to all genocides is that the "civilized" world was unable to prevent them, or to make a serious effort to stop them. There are, tragically, few exceptions. The argument that the Holocaust was the most extreme form of genocide is based on the fact that a modern nation state committed itself to the total and universal annihilation of individuals belonging to a particular group of humans. The Nazi ideology that motivated the murder was unprecedented in its lack of pragmatism: The Nazis murdered Jewish slave workers while they produced materials essential for the German war effort, and killed experts whom they could have used. Nazi ideology related to the Jews as mythical beings — Satans or supposed rulers of the world that had to be destroyed — a marked contrast to other genocides that were motivated by economic or political considerations. True, Jewish property was confiscated and used — but that was not the reason for persecuting and murdering the Jews; it was the result. The Holocaust was not unique, because that would mean that it could never happen again, to anyone, Jewish or otherwise. This is simply not true. The Holocaust was perpetrated by humans, for human reasons, and anything done by humans can be repeated — not in exactly the same form, but in similar or parallel ways. From 1900 to 1987, according to Rudolph Rummel, an estimated 169 million civilians were murdered by governments and by other political bodies. Of that number, some 38 million of these victims were murdered in genocides as defined by the convention. Today, Darfur is the scene of genocide, and again the international community has, so far, proved itself unable to stop the killing. To be fair, more is now being written about genocidal threats, and more people and even politicians seem to care about genocide than before. Nonetheless, the killing continues. Today, genocidal threats are present everywhere. For the Jewish people, the main genocidal threat does not lie with European antisemitism, but with the radical Islamist version. It is a serious error to view the murderous language of radical Islamists as mere talk: We have learned that when people are ideologically committed to murderous action, they will act accordingly if given the chance. Therefore, Jews should be actively involved in all attempts to prevent genocidal murders of any kind. In most cases, including the radical Islamic one, it is largely from within the group that potential perpetrators are recruited. In the effort to combat the genocidal threat, then, Jews and others must seek out allies in the nonradical Islamic world, which still makes up the vast majority of Islam's 1.3 billion adherents. That means that we must view Muslims as brothers, as equals, as potential allies and as bearers of one of the great civilizations of the world — and as those who are the first to be threatened by the radicals in their midst. Yehuda Bauer is the scientific adviser to Yad Vashem, a professor of Holocaust studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a member of the Israel Academy of Science and the author of "Rethinking the Holocaust" (Yale University Press, 2001).
washingtonpost.com Once Again Nations Agree Genocide Must Be Stopped. Can They Find the Mechanism to Do It? By Paul F. Diehl Post Sunday, May 15, 2005; B01 Just over a year ago, on the 10th anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan announced a five-point plan with only one concrete element: the appointment of a special adviser on the prevention of genocide. That adviser, he said, would serve as an "early warning mechanism" and would recommend "actions" to prevent genocide. But just as Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin once asked how many divisions the pope had, today's dictators in places such as Sudan must be asking themselves: How many divisions does Kofi Annan have? The answer, of course, is none. Thus it is unlikely that any dictator is quaking in his boots at the mention of the special adviser's name, or that anyone even knows his name. (It's Juan Mendez, and he's an Argentine human rights activist.) These facts point to the failure of the international community -- whether in the guise of the U.N., NATO or the African Union -- to come up with a credible deterrent to leaders contemplating or engaging in acts of mass murder. Increasingly, advocates of humanitarian intervention are discussing not only the need for political will to take such action, but the need to have a way to act. Without effective mechanisms, any number of resolutions will be rendered meaningless. And the absence of practical means also makes it harder to marshal the political will. "The problem with most discussions of political will is that we spend more time lamenting its absence than organizing its presence," Mark Schneider, senior vice president of the International Crisis Group, said last year. Political will needs to be linked to "having an institutional focal point for prevention," he said, and that "focal point" should be able to deploy force. Advocates of humanitarian intervention can afford to focus on logistics because they have made progress on the politics of intervention. The 1994 Rwandan genocide was chilling because it reminded many people of the Holocaust -- the international community stood by as the slaughter occurred. In the aftermath of Rwanda, much of the reluctance Americans had felt about humanitarian intervention since the U.S. debacle a year earlier in Somalia, where 18 U.S. soldiers were killed, has dissipated. A consensus has emerged that the world has a moral obligation to halt genocide; a 2003 survey found that a clear majority of Americans (and more than two-thirds under some scenarios) favored hmanitarian intervention to stop genocide. Translating that sentiment into action is another matter. It's been 15 months since a top U.N. official called Sudan "the killing fields of our generation" and labeled the situation in Darfur "ethnic cleansing." It's been 10 months since the U.S. Congress passed a resolution branding Darfur a genocide. Yet by the time the African Union increases the number of its troops in Darfur to 12,300 next spring, nearly three years will have passed since violence broke out. For now, only 2,372 troops are monitoring an area bigger than California. In his recent book, Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian lieutenant general who commanded the U.N. peacekeeping contingent in Rwanda at the time of the massacres, recalls that "while most nations seemed to agree that something had to be done, every nation seemed to have a reason why some other nation should do it. So there we sat, waiting for a promise to be kept, reduced to the role of accountants keeping track of how many were being killed." Even equipping his tiny force was difficult. Dallaire describes how various African countries willing to contribute troops lacked any logistical capacity, while Britain offered early Cold War vintage trucks and the Pentagon supplied armored personnel carriers stripped of guns, radios, spare parts and training manuals. Proposals for a standing international force have been around for a long time. The U.N. Charter itself includes provisions for military forces provided by member states, but these arrangements have not been adequate. In the revised edition of his 1995 book "An Agenda for Peace," then-U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali suggested the creation of a "rapid reaction force," comprised of battalion-size units stationed in their own countries but with common training, procedures and equipment, along with integrated communication. Shortly thereafter, the Netherlands government, whose peacekeeping troops failed to prevent the Serb massacre of 7,000 Muslim men and boys in the small town of Srebrenica, proposed a U.N. Rapid Deployment Brigade that would be a small all-volunteer force. These forces -- which could carry out an array of different duties -- would speed the U.N.'s response time and allow the organization to get rid of the ad hoc way in which it pulls together peacekeeping operations. An ambitious proposal in 2005 by the Working Group for a United Nations Emergency Peace Service envisioned a permanent U.N. force of volunteers stationed at designated sites and ready to act in an emergency. Made up of 10,000 to 15,000 personnel, the force would include not only soldiers but police, judges and relief experts. Unlike forces that require approval by its member nations, a U.N. Emergency Peace Service could be deployed by the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Secretary General or regional organizations. The financial costs of such forces (approximately $1 billion per year after start-up costs) are modest relative to the military expenditures of most major nations. Still, the United States and several other countries have consistently opposed any autonomous U.N. capacity for military action. Alternatives do exist. Canada and several other states have created a multinational brigade for rapid deployment, but each participating state retains, on a case-by-case basis, the right to refuse to go. An alternative to a U.N. standing force would be for regional security organizations to take on the task of humanitarian intervention. Yet this is hardly an encouraging prospect. Most regional organizations lack the finances, professional military expertise and mandate to carry out actions to prevent genocide. The African Union force sent to the Sudan, for example, is of token size, ill-equipped and too poorly deployed to have any effect on events in Darfur. The only exception may be the European Union, which has a newly functional Rapid Reaction Force of about 60,000 soldiers. Still, this is not a standing army and EU member states can restrict the deployment of their own soldiers. Furthermore, it is not clear to what extent European states would be willing to deploy such a force "out of area." The recent international parallel is France's military intervention in the Ivory Coast. France acted only after its own nationals were killed, and it acted alone; no other nation had any direct interest there. Ideally, an international force to stop genocide would intervene prior to the large-scale outbreak of killing, rather than later. This presumes some type of "early warning" system. Yet states committing genocide have great incentives to conceal their deeds, which sometimes are apparent only years later when mass graves are unearthed. One of the functions of Annan's special adviser is to provide early warning of genocide to the Security Council or Secretary General. Non-governmental organizations, such as International Alert, also play that role. But in the case of Rwanda, Dallaire sent many early warnings to the United Nations without result. In some ways, the international community has made little progress since Japan's invasion of Manchuria in the 1930s. The League of Nations sent a fact-finding mission to investigate alleged atrocities, but by the time the mission arrived six months later, Japanese control over the area was a fait accompli. In a strikingly similar fashion, the United Nations sent a commission of inquiry to Darfur well after the onset of violence there. The final report, released in January, concluded that genocide had not occurred even though a variety of international crimes had. Would that have been enough to trigger intervention by a standing international force? International legal authority for action is also ambiguous. Although there is now consensus that nations have a moral obligation to stop genocide, international law isn't so clear. The 1948 U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, despite its name, is largely concerned with defining genocide and creating rules for prosecuting perpetrators rather than preventing or stopping genocide before or as it occurs. Article 8 grants states the right to appeal to the U.N. for help, but it gives states no right to take military steps outside the U.N. framework unless it is in self-defense. It is still not widely accepted that states can intervene in the domestic affairs of other states, even though international courts and other bodies may hold those responsible for any crimes in the aftermath. The United Nations can act when "international peace and security" are threatened, and this could provide a legal basis for action in cases of genocide. But the U.N. has been reluctant to exercise that prerogative, notably failing to bless NATO efforts to protect ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. And when it comes to Sudan, both China and Russia have opposed military intervention because of the precedents it might set for their conflicts in Tibet and Chechnya, respectively. Even neighboring African states have opposed military intervention in Sudan. Even if a multinational force existed, the U.N. or some other body would have to authorize action. And action comes with risks that no nation was willing to take in Rwanda or Srebrenica. Dallaire believes that a modest number of troops could have stopped the Rwanda killings. "Would we have risked more U.N. casualties?" he asks in his memoir. "Yes, but surely soldiers and peacekeeping nations should be prepared to pay the price of safeguarding human life and human rights." Given all the obstacles, talk of an international humanitarian intervention force may be nothing more than an academic exercise. But for the people destined to be the victims of the next genocide, the question of how to assure intervention is anything but academic. Author's e-mail: email@example.com Paul F. Diehl is Henning Larsen Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois and director of the Correlates of War project, which collects data on international conflicts. www.correlatesofwar.org
- Agence France-Presse
Institute for War & Peace Reporting
(the Balkans, Caucasus and Central Asia, with a special project on the Yugoslav
war crimes tribunal)
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