Monitor for December 2001
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
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BBC 10 Dec 2001 Analysis: Defining genocide - The term genocide was coined during the Holocaust. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has been charged with genocide in Bosnia in 1992-1995. It is the third and most serious indictment against Mr Milosevic, who has already been charged with other alleged war crimes in Kosovo and Croatia. It is also a serious test for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Milosevic: Accused of genocide As defined by the United Nations in 1948, genocide has turned out to be difficult to prove. So far, eight people have been convicted for their role in the Rwandan genocide, one for the war in Bosnia. But what is genocide and when can it be applied? Some argue that the definition is too narrow and others that the term is devalued by misuse. UN definition The term was coined in 1943 by the Jewish-Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin who combined the Greek word "genos" (race or tribe) with the Latin word "cide" (to kill). After witnessing the horrors of the Holocaust - in which every member of his family except his brother and himself was killed - Dr Lemkin campaigned to have genocide recognised as a crime under international law. His efforts gave way to the adoption of the UN Convention on Genocide in December 1948, which came into effect in January 1951. Article Two of the convention defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with the 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 Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group The convention also imposes a general duty on states that are signatories to "prevent and to punish" genocide. Ever since its adoption, the UN treaty has come under fire from different sides, mostly by people frustrated with the difficulty of applying it to different cases. 'Too narrow' Some analysts argue that the definition is so narrow that none of the mass killings perpetrated since the treaty's adoption would fall under it. The objections most frequently raised against the treaty include: The convention excludes targeted political and social groups The definition is limited to direct acts against people, and excludes acts against the environment which sustains them or their cultural distinctiveness Proving intention beyond reasonable doubt is extremely difficult UN member states are hesitant to single out other members or intervene, as was the case in Rwanda There is no body of international law to clarify the parameters of the convention (though this is changing as UN war crimes tribunals issue indictments) The difficulty of defining or measuring "in part", and establishing how many deaths equal genocide But in spite of these criticisms, there are many who say genocide is recognisable. In his book Rwanda and Genocide in the 20th Century, former secretary-general of Doctors Without Borders, Alain Destexhe says: "Genocide is distinguishable from all other crimes by the motivation behind it. "Genocide is a crime on a different scale to all other crimes against humanity and implies an intention to completely exterminate the chosen group. "Genocide is therefore both the gravest and greatest of the crimes against humanity." Loss of meaning Mr Destexhe believes the word genocide has fallen victim to "a sort of verbal inflation, in much the same way as happened with the word fascist". Eight people have been convicted for the Rwandan genocide Because of that, he says, the term has progressively lost its initial meaning and is becoming "dangerously commonplace". Michael Ignatieff, director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, agrees. "Those who should use the word genocide never let it slip their mouths. Those who unfortunately do use it, banalise it into a validation of every kind of victimhood," he said in a lecture about Raphael Lemkin last year. "Slavery for example, is called genocide when - whatever it was, and it was an infamy - it was a system to exploit, rather than to exterminate the living." The differences over how genocide should be defined, lead also to disagreement on how many genocides actually occurred during the 20th Century. History of genocide Some say there was only one genocide in the last century - the Holocaust. Prosecutors in The Hague presented evidence to back genocide charges Other experts give a long list of what they consider cases of genocide, including the Soviet man-made famine of Ukraine (1932-33), the Indonesian invasion of East Timor (1975), and the Khmer Rouge killings in Cambodia in the 1970s. However, some say there have been at least three genocides under the 1948 UN convention: The mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks between 1915-1920 - an accusation that the Turks deny The Holocaust, during which more than six million Jews were killed Rwanda, where an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died in the 1994 genocide In the case of Bosnia, many believe that massacres ocurred as part of a pattern of genocide, though some doubt that intent can be proved in Mr Milosevic's case The first case to put into practice the convention on genocide was that of Jean Paul Akayesu, the Hutu mayor of the Rwandan town of Taba at the time of the killings. In a landmark ruling, a special international tribunal convicted him of genocide and crimes against humanity on 2 September 1998. Seven other Rwandans have since been convicted of genocide. Earlier this year, the war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia handed down its first sentence for the crime of genocide, when it found General Radislav Krstic guilty of killing up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. Two other Bosnian Serbs, General Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, have also been accused of genocide by the tribunal - both remain at large. Now, Slobodan Milosevic faces charges of genocide and complicity to commit genocide for alleged crimes in Bosnia during the 1992-1995 war. He is set to go on trial next year. Mr Milosevic is accused of having "participated in a joint criminal enterprise, the purpose of which was the forcible and permanent removal of the majority of non-Serbs from large areas of the Republic of Bosnia-Hercegovina". Being the most prominent European to face a war crimes court since the Nuremberg trials of Nazi leaders at the end of World War II, campaigners hope his trial will set an important precedent. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/europe/newsid_1701000/1701562.stm
Reuters 10 Dec 2001 Racism May Be Erasable: Study By Merritt McKinney NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Contrary to previous research, California scientists report that the human mind may not be naturally wired to view other people through the lens of ethnicity. Instead, the brain may have started using ethnicity to classify others not because of the physical differences in skin color, but because ethnic differences were one of several ways to identify people who belonged to competing groups. ``It is not inevitable that differences in physical appearance will cause people to mentally group people into races,'' one of the study's authors, Dr. John Tooby at the University of California at Santa Barbara, told Reuters Health. Ethnicity seems to become a compelling way to group people, Tooby told Reuters Health, when racial aspects of appearance become associated with a social alliance. In other words, he said, these features become ``politicized'' because they represent membership in another group of people. Previous research has found that the brain is hard-wired to view new people in terms of sex, age and race, Tooby and colleagues Drs. Robert Kurzban and Leda Cosmides note in a report in the December 18th issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (news - web sites). This may be true for age and sex, but the researchers challenge the idea that the brain is naturally wired to view others in terms of ethnicity. Tooby's team hypothesized that the brain was wired by evolution to detect any visual sign of difference in a new person to tell whether the individual was a part of the same group, and thus whether a new person was an enemy or an ally. Since early humans rarely encountered people of different races, the researchers thought it unlikely that ethnicity would be wired into the brain. Instead, race is one of many visual clues that the brain uses to tell whether another person is from the same group. To test their idea, the researchers performed a set of experiments that tested what factors people use to classify others into groups, or alliances. The results of the study question the idea that racial categorization is an automatic function of the brain. Although people in the experiments were not completely color-blind, they used ethnicity to categorize people much less often when they were presented with other characteristics for matching people into the appropriate group. The groups, or alliances, that participants viewed were composed equally of blacks and whites. What surprised Tooby and his colleagues was how quickly people could change the way they grouped people, which took minutes rather than years, he said. ``We had no idea it would be so fast,'' he said. ``I think most people think race consciousness is a durable state of mind, rather than something that a new social context can rapidly deflate,'' according to the California researcher. Most people, Tooby said, probably think that consciousness of ethnicity is rooted in physical appearance. But according to the present study, ``the politicization of groups'' causes the mind to group people based on appearance, Tooby noted. He pointed out that these signs of appearance are just as likely to be clothing, manner or accent as ethnicity. ``While it is important not to put too much stock in any single study in thinking about such a complex issue as race, this makes me personally far more optimistic about how rapidly racism might be diminished than I had been previously,'' Tooby concluded. The next step, according to co-author Kurzban, is to confirm the results of the study. ``The findings were surprising enough that we're interested in trying to find other methods that arrive at the same conclusion,'' he told Reuters Health in an interview. The results of the study come from psychological experiments, but there is some evidence that the same process works in the real world, according to Tooby. He pointed out a recent article in The New York Times that described how ethnic tensions in New York City seemed to diminish after the September 11th attacks. ``Of course,'' Tooby pointed out, ``there are happier ways of redrawing social boundaries than the emergence of external enemies.'' And changes in racial attitudes are not always positive. At the same time that relationships between some racial groups improved, at least temporarily, the Times article reported that many Americans began to be suspicious of people of Middle Eastern or South Asian descent. SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2001;98:15387
Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (#5414) 11 Dec 2001 Psychology: Can race be erased? Coalitional computation and social categorization By Robert Kurzban, John Tooby, and Leda Cosmides Center for Evolutionary Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-2070 Previous studies have established that people encode the race of each individual they encounter, and do so via computational processes that appear to be both automatic and mandatory. If true, this conclusion would be important, because categorizing others by their race is a precondition for treating them differently according to race. Here we report experiments, using unobtrusive measures, showing that categorizing individuals by race is not inevitable, and supporting an alternative hypothesis: that encoding by race is instead a reversible byproduct of cognitive machinery that evolved to detect coalitional alliances. The results show that subjects encode coalitional affiliations as a normal part of person representation. More importantly, when cues of coalitional affiliation no longer track or correspond to race, subjects markedly reduce the extent to which they categorize others by race, and indeed may cease doing so entirely. Despite a lifetime's experience of race as a predictor of social alliance, less than 4 min of exposure to an alternate social world was enough to deflate the tendency to categorize by race. These results suggest that racism may be a volatile and eradicable construct that persists only so long as it is actively maintained through being linked to parallel systems of social alliance. [ http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/251541498v1 ] Center for Evolutionary Psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA [ http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/research/cep/ ]
BBC 6 Dec 2001 Berbers clash with police at protest More than 60 people have been killed since April Fighting broke out on Thursday in a north east Algerian town between security forces and thousands of Berber demonstrators calling for cultural and linguistic recognition in the country. Police in Tizi Ouzou, the capital of the predominantly Berber region of Kabylie, used tear gas grenades in an attempt to move the young Berbers staging a sit-down protest outside the headquarters of military police. Stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown and anti-government slogans chanted by the protesters, who are furious at attempts by more moderate members of the Berber community to enter dialogue with the Algerian Government. Meetings were scheduled on Thursday between the moderates and Algerian Prime Minister Ali Benflis to discuss the Berber community's demands for better social, economic and cultural conditions. They also want their Tamazight language recognised as an official language alongside Arabic and the gendarme police that patrol their communities to be removed. Riots There have been riots within the Berber ethnic community in Algeria since April this year, when a Berber youth died in police custody. Berbers demand recognition for their language More than 60 people were killed and 2,000 injured. The troubles led to a list of demands being agreed by moderates in the Berber community in June that are to form the negotiations with the Algerian Government. However, militant Berber leader Belaid Aberkane told the French news agency AFP that the moderate Berbers attending the talks did not have the authority to speak for the community. "These people have no mandate from the people to negotiate the blood of our martyrs," he said. He also claimed that the demonstrators had been provoked by police. "We wanted to organise a peaceful sit-in but the gendarmes provoked us by throwing tear gas grenades from their building," he said.
IRIN 12 Dec 2001 Humanitarian impact of government offensive - Government says its offensive is "pacifying" the country JOHANNESBURG, 12 Dec 2001 (IRIN) - As the Angolan government continues with a military offensive against UNITA rebels in the east of the country, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser for Africa has arrived for a series of meetings to determine how the international community can help re-energise the moribund Angolan peace process. During his week-long visit - which began on 8 December - Ibrahim Gambari planned to hold consultations with government leaders, politicians and representatives of civil society, a UN spokesman said. On his return to New York, Gambari is expected to brief the UN Security Council. However, in a sign of the government's continued military operations against Jonas Savimbi's rebel forces, the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) on 7 December paraded the former chief of Savimbi's personal guard in the Moxico provincial capital of Luena. The authorities said Brigadier Luis Ndimba was recently captured in combat. Last week, Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos stressed that the military campaign was beginning to "pacify" parts of the country. "There are zones where stability is evident, in which circulation is done much more frequently and where rehabilitation and construction works were also intensified," state media reported him as saying. "All those forces which for some time created obstacles to the normalisation of life, are increasingly having less capacity to do so". In its latest update, the World Food Programme (WFP) described the security situation in Angola as "tense", with a steady movement of internally displaced people (IDPs) into urban centres. The UN food agency said in its 3-10 December report that the humanitarian and nutritional situation had deteriorated in the central province of Bie and the southwestern province of Huila due to the high number of IDPs arriving in municipal centres. The agency said the movements were "allegedly as a result of intensified military activity". The report said: "This was particularly the case in Bie province, where troop movements were reported east of the provincial capital Kuito. In Bie province, 90 percent of the IDPs who arrived in Kuito and Camacupa are said to come from Chicala and Cambandua towns, both located to the east of the provincial capital (Kuito)." WFP said it distributed a total of 406 mt of maize, maize meal, pulses, oil, sugar, salt and dry fish to about 32,300 beneficiaries in the Kuito/Camacupa corridor during the reporting week. FAA and UNITA have been engaged in battle in Bie, neighbouring Moxico, and Cuando Cubango to the south in recent months, with the government making what many believe is a full-blooded effort to rout the rebels. Angola's peasants have borne the brunt of the war, which has lasted almost three decades. New IDPs arriving in some centres in Huila showed an acute global malnutrition rate of 24.7 percent as aid agencies battled to deal with the increasing numbers, the report said. "Malnutrition rates are reportedly on the rise among newly arrived IDPs in Huila province in the towns of Matala, Cacula and Hoque especially, and WFP is identifying nutritional interventions with partners," it added. According to WFP, Malanje remained calm last week, with the provincial government starting to fly municipal administration staff to the towns of Kambundi, Katembo, Cahombo and Marimba. Some items like soap, vegetable oil and salt were also being flown into these towns by helicopter for trading purposes. But instability in the northern province of Uige prevented food deliveries to the city during the reporting week. A humanitarian source told IRIN on Wednesday that Uige city was on full alert. The city, seen as a strategic through-route to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for refugees and UNITA fighters alike, has been attacked by UNITA rebels at least three times since June. The source said that gunfire was being heard around the city at night. WFP said in its report that the Negage airport, about 25 km from Uige city, had been closed due to the precarious condition of the runway, but did not mention security concerns. Meanwhile, UNHCR has warned that the conflict in Angola continues to drive new flows of refugees into Zambia. Since the beginning of December, a total of 1,184 Angolan refugees have crossed into Zambia's Western Province, UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva. The new arrivals are being transferred to Nangweshi camp, in southwest Zambia, on a temporary basis. There, they are housed at a transit site outside the main camp. In the last three months, an estimated 6,700 Angolan refugees have arrived at Nangweshi and are being assisted at the temporary site. Transfers from the border are organised daily. African Humanitarian Action, UNHCR's implementing partner for the health sector at Nangweshi, immunises the new arrivals against tuberculosis, measles, polio and other communicable diseases before they are taken to the temporary site. Angolans now total 214,524, out of the 274,000 refugees currently hosted by Zambia, UNHCR said.
Pan African News Agency (PANA) 12 Dec 2001 UNICEF to demobilise 14,000 child soldiers in Burundi Bujumbura, Burundi (PANA) - UNICEF is planning a demobilisation of over 14,000 children recruited as combatants by rebels in Burundi, it was officially disclosed here. Bruno Mayers, a programme officer with UNICEF, said the figure of Burundian child soldiers was estimated during a recent survey that was undertaken by a foreign non-governmental organisation. Speaking during a seminar on demilitarisation, Mayers said the child soldier phenomenon was not peculiar to Burundi. In the past few years, he said, armies, rebel movements, paramilitary organisations and militias around the world recruited over 300,000 child soldiers. Not only were those children the main war victims, but they were often used as key instruments in armed conflicts around the world. Mayers said UNICEF would work to ensure that the recruitment of child soldiers in Burundi is prohibited. During the seminar that ended Wednesday, UNICEF and the Burundian government agreed to work together in demobilising and reintegration of the child soldiers. "We cannot wait. We must try to understand this phenomenon and its magnitude, and carry out adequate actions which will enable those children, forced to be soldiers, to recover a normal life," said Malick Sene, UNICEF representative in Burundi.
BBC 3 Dec , 2001, Casualties mount in Burundi clashes Buyoya heads the unity government for the first 18 months At least two dozen Burundian army soldiers are reported to have died in a week-long army push against rebels north of the capital, Bujumbura, say returning soldiers. The army offensive coincides with a visit by President Pierre Buyoya to Europe, seeking aid for Burundi's new power-sharing administration. Eight days ago the army announced a major drive to oust rebels from hills some 20km (12 miles) north of Bujumbura, from where they have launched a wave of attacks. According to AP news agency, the rebels have admitted to eight casualties in the fighting, with local hospitals said to be overwhelmed by the numbers of wounded. Hutu rebels continue to reject a ceasefire and have intensified their attacks since the new government was installed a month ago. Former South African president Nelson Mandela, with the support of the international community, brokered a deal which sees the minority Tutsi and majority Hutu community sharing power, as part of attempts to resolve a bitter civil war. Under the deal, Hutu politicans have been returning from exile, with South African forces protecting them. Fighting After talks in Belgium, President Buyoya is due to travel on to France and then to Switzerland, where he will attend a meeting of donors in Geneva. Thousands of Burundians are destitute becaiuse of the war Mr Buyoya said before he left that he was sure the donors would be willing to help Burundi, despite the continued fighting. He has also vowed to increase the military and diplomatic pressure on Hutu rebels to give up their armed struggle. "All Burundians are now convinced, as is the international community, that these people have no reason to fight," he said. More than 200,000 people have died in the past eight years of fighting, which has left Burundi ranked among the world's five poorest countries. So far the government has been promised a 65-million euro ($57m) grant by the European Union to help reconstruct the economy. Belgium's foreign minister said in Bujumbura last week that a further $152m is likely to be confirmed in Geneva. Non-humanitarian aid was suspended in 1997.
Central African Republic
Reuters 3 Dec 2001 Several Killed in New Central African Clashes By Jean-Lambert Ngouandji BANGUI (Reuters) - Several people have been killed in clashes between newly recruited loyalist troops and dissident soldiers in northern Central African Republic, relatives of missing army recruits said on Monday. Reports of the fighting came as President Ange-Felix Patasse, whose Libyan-backed forces struggled to put down a coup attempt in May and an insurgency last month, was in Sudan for talks on how to restore peace to his impoverished country. Patasse recently recruited young members of a pro-government militia to fight troops loyal to sacked army chief Francois Bozize, who fled north to Chad after his forces were driven from Bangui in November. ``They (the recruits) left on Saturday toward the northern border with Chad. They fell in an ambush, there are people dead and wounded,'' one relative told Reuters. More than a hundred people, some weeping and wailing, gathered at the entrance of Bangui's Community Hospital and the morgue to seek information about their loved ones. There was no official confirmation of the new fighting. Diplomats said last week that Bozize's forces retreated to Chad after clashing with Patasse's loyalists. Patasse arrived in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Sunday for a summit with the presidents of Chad and Zambia and a senior minister from Libya -- whose troops came to Patasse's aid in both crises this year. The Central African Republic, which is slightly larger than the Iberian peninsula and has a per capita income of just $290 despite its diamond wealth, has had a turbulent history since independence from France in 1960. Patasse has been in power since 1993 but has had to repel a series of army mutinies and coup attempts since 1996. In early November, Bozize was called before an inquiry into the failed May coup attempt but the general, who had been fired without explanation in October, took refuge in a barracks near the capital until he was chased out of town.
AFP 5 Dec 2001 Congolese families accuse Nguesso of crimes BRAZZAVILLE: Families of people who disappeared in Congo-Brazzaville in 1999 said on Tuesday they have filed a suit in a Belgian court accusing President Denis Sassou Nguesso of crimes against humanity. The suit "also concerns the highest civil and military authorities in the Congo", a statement released by the families said. The case was filed by the families' lawyer, Georges Henri Beauthier, at the Brussels court, whose Judge Damien Vandermeersch agreed to hear the complaint, the statement added. The suit is the third filed against Nguesso, who wrested power from president Pascal Lissouba after a renewed outbreak of war in 1997. In October, three Congolese nationals living in Belgium brought a class action suit against Nguesso and TotalFinaElf for crimes against humanity. All three suits have been submitted before the same judge. "The testimony of families, the investigations by the Congelese Human Rights Observatory and the International Federation for Human Rights have irrefutably shown that most people arrested were villanously murdered at the headquarters of the infamous presidential guard," the family statement said. "The families have proof that the victims' mutilated bodies were thrown into the Congo river and others were burned at the presidential guard headquarters." In 1997, when civil war broke out, thousands of Congolese civilians fled for neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In May 1999, they were repatriated by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). Nguesso had urged the refugees to return home, and had also called on people in the Pool forest, near the capital, to come out of hiding. Following their return, 353 were arrested -- most of them suspected of being Ninja militia who had supported former prime minister Bernard Kolelas, one of Nguesso's foes. The arrests were carried on when they arrived in the capital or at welcome sites set up by the government. Some of them were executed and others were illegally detained. Congo's Communications Minister Francois Ibovi said the people who disappeared were victims of an internal settling of scores among Ninjas or locals. "These people were guilty of attacks on civilians. They were then victims of a settling of scores between Ninjas themselves or from the local population," Ibovi said. "It is the torturers who want to pose as victims," said the minister, adding that the Brussels suit was aimed at "preventing general elections in the Congo." Under a unique 1993 Belgian law, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide can be tried in Belgian courts. The law stands regardless of where the alleged crimes took place or the nationality or residence of the victims or the accused. An estimated 20,000 people have died and another 800,000 people been uprooted in Congo's protracted political and ethnic conflict, which intensified during the 1990s before officially ending in 1999. Fighting largely pitted Nguesso's northern supporters against groups in the more densely populated south. Over the last 40 years, nearly a dozen coups and military uprisings have taken place.
IRIN 6 Dec 2001 New Special Rapporteur on human rights appointed NAIROBI, 6 Dec 2001 (IRIN) - A new Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has been appointed to replace Roberto Garreton, the UN reported on Wednesday. Iulia-Antoanella Motoc of Romania, is a lawyer and academic who has been a member or alternate member of the UN Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights since 1996, serving as its chair for the period 2000-2001. She holds a doctorate in international law from the Universite Aix-Marseille III in France and a doctorate in political philosophy from the University of Bucharest, Romania. She has also served as a judge at Bucharest Court from 1990-1995. Garreton announced his resignation on 17 October, stating that his new responsibilities as the human rights advisor for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL) were incompatible with the status of serving as an independent expert. Motoc's appointment follows decisions taken by a UN General Assembly committee in late November for the Special Rapporteur to continue to examine the situation of human rights in the DRC, incorporating a gender perspective; to conduct a mission to investigate massacres perpetrated in the territory of the DRC, "particularly the massacres committed in the province of South Kivu and other atrocities"; and to request that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan give the Special Rapporteur all necessary assistance to enable them to fully discharge its mandate. Other recent appointments by the UN Commission on Human Rights include Bernards Mudho of Kenya as the Independent Expert on structural adjustment policies and foreign debt. Mudho is an international lawyer with experience in UN and international affairs, and has worked in his country's foreign service department. Theo van Boven, appointed as the new Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, is an international human rights expert who has served as Director of the Division of Human Rights of the UN from 1997 to 1982. He has been a member of the UN Subcommission and of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, among other bodies. A professor of law, he has worked with a number of NGOs active in the defence of human rights.
IRIN 11 Dec 2001 Scores dead in tribal clashes NAIROBI, 11 Dec 2001 (IRIN) - Violent tribal clashes in the south of Ethiopia in recent months have left at least 60 people dead and almost 200 wounded, according to reliable reports received by the UN. Hundreds of families have fled their homes after skirmishes between the Borana and Garre tribes, who have a long history of fighting over land use, a UN source told IRIN. Water points and grazing rights have often acted as a catalyst and severe shortages of both in the region have served to fuel the violence. The latest clashes erupted after the Borana, who are semi-nomadic pastoralists, accused the ethnic Somali Garre of encroaching on their land. The UN source said the fighting had been extremely fierce with some casualties being ferried over the border to Kenya and others being transported to Agere Maryam hospital for treatment. The latest clashes - in the Wachile and Hisfutu areas of Oromia - have been on going for two months and in that time there have been at least ten significant incidents leading many families to flee for safety, some as far as 150 kilometres away. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Holland, who are carrying out a measles vaccination programme in the area, discovered that some of the target groups could not be located. The regional government, who are based in Jijiga, sent in a mission to help secure peace in the region - and try and calm tensions in the area. Although they were partly successful and tribal chiefs called a ceasefire word has still not got round to all the warring factions. Having undertaken a recent field investigation of the trouble, the UN source told IRIN that a "fragile peace" operated in the area. The Borana and the Garre have a long history of violence and revenge attacks. Last September, it was reported 66 Garre men and women were killed during one attack. For the time being the UN have restricted travel by staff between Negele and Wachile. Dewa, Udet and Wachile are also off-limits. Travel by road to the regional capital of Moyale is only authorised via Yabelo and Mega.
Accra Mail (Accra) 5 Dec 2001 Curfew Imposed in Bawku The government has imposed a curfew in Bawku in an effort to halt the violence at the wekend in which at least 18 people died. Police and soliders have been sent to there to enforce the curfew. The Kusasis and the Mamprusis, are said to have attacked each other reportedly after members of one ethnic group burned a cargo truck belonging to a member of the rival group. Buildings and cars were set on fire during the clashes The dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on Monday evening seems to have quelled the worst of the violence, though there were reports of sporadic gunfire into the night. There is a history of armed violence between the two ethnic groups. At least 30 people were killed in clashes between them last year and there was violence during last year's elections.
IRIN 4 Dec 2001
5,000 Displaced, 50 Killed in Communal Clashes Over 50 people have been
reported killed and 150 others injured in three days of fighting between members
of the Mamprusi and Kusasi ethnic groups in Bawku, northeastern Ghana, police
in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, told IRIN on Tuesday. Over 5,000 people have
fled the town, which is 880 km from Accra and has a population of 100,000. Bawku
was relatively calm on Tuesday morning, but sporadic clashes were still taking
place in villages just outside the city. Police described the clashes as "indiscriminate
attacks", adding that destruction of property, including houses and vehicles,
was evident in the town. Extra military personnel with armoured personnel
carriers and police, were deployed from the nearby cities of Wa and Tamale to
Bawku on Monday while a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on Sunday was still in force.
"The current clashes erupted when in an argument over lottery sales, a
kiosk belonging to a Mamprusi man was burnt down," police told IRIN. "A
shade belonging to a Kusasi man was in retaliation burnt down, sparking off
the clashes," police told IRIN. Radio Ghana quoted the deputy commander
of police, Reynolds Kwakye, as saying that from Sunday, there had been a rampage
in the town with people burning houses and vehicles, mounting barriers and molesting
other people. Kwakye said on Monday that 18 people had died, including two lorry
drivers, while 23 had been arrested. The radio said the fighting intensified
after some Mamprusis ambushed a group of Kusasi youths, killing four of them.
Some Kusasis mobilised themselves and staged a retaliatory attack. Over 30
persons had died in Bawku in December 2000 in clashes between the two ethnic
groups during presidential and parliamentary polls, according to the police.
BBC 4 Dec 2001 Ethnic clashes in northern Ghana Police in Ghana say more than 50 people are now believed to have died in ethnic clashes in the north of the country. The regional council in Bawku imposed a night curfew after violent disturbances over the weekend involving members of two tribes - the Kusasis and Mamprusis - and a dawn-to-dusk curfew is now in force. Police say the situation is now under control. Up to 150 people were wounded, buildings and cars were burnt and hundreds fled their homes in the clashes. A police officer told AFP news agency that the death toll could be even higher as many of the local Muslims will bury their dead immediately, making it harder to verify casualty figures. Fleeing clashes Ghana's interior minister told parliament that the clashes began after an argument between two young people. One burnt the kiosk of the other and then there was retaliation. The Associated Press reported that some Bawku residents fled to the regional capital of Bolgatanga, 85 kilometres (50 miles) away, to escape the fighting. There is a history of armed violence between the two tribes. At least 30 people were killed in clashes between them last year. The Mamprusi tend to favour President John Kufuor and his New Patriotic Party. The Kusasi generally support the National Democratic Congress, the party of former President Jerry Rawlings.There was violence during last year's elections.
Reuters 3 Dec 2001 At Least 18 Killed in Northern Ghana Clashes-Radio ACCRA At least 18 people have been killed in ethnic clashes in northern Ghana, state radio in the West African country said on Monday. It said the clashes started on Sunday in the town of Bawku, near the border with Burkina Faso, following a dispute between the Mamprusi and the Kusasi ethnic groups. Scores of people were wounded in the fighting and hundreds more fled their homes, the radio said, adding there had been 23 arrests. A witness told private Joy FM radio he had seen 40 bodies at a hospital. Police and troop reinforcements were sent to the town, which is the capital of Ghana's Upper East region.
The East African Standard (Nairobi) 11 Dec 2001 The Guns of Kerio Valley And the Looming Danger By Ken Ramani The undeterred arms race in the Kerio Valley is likely to lead to a conflagration that has never been seen in the country, warns a report titled Pacifying the Kerio Valley Conflict - An Analysis of the Conflict. The report takes great exception with the politicians are engaged in the armament of members of the Pokot, Marakwet and Turkana communities to mount bloody cattle-rustling expeditions. The report, which will be launched today in Nairobi, is a joint effort between the National Council of Churches (NCCK), Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and Semi Arid Rural Development Programme (SARDEP). The organisations have been working separately in the Kerio Valley for more than five years on peace-making and community development initiatives. The report draws parallels between the barbaric attack dubbed Murkutwo massacre carried out last March where 53 people were killed and the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which close to one million people died. "What is dumfounding pundits and wananchi is the new dimension the conflict has assumed. Initial conflicts pitted communities of different language groups such as the Kikuyu and Kalenjin in Nakuru District, or the Maasai and Kisiis along their common border. But guns have never been used there," says the report. The report warns that the prolonged conflict can only help to solidify current mutual suspicions and development jealousies between the Kerio Valley communities. It is claimed that the guns are no longer being used as instruments of attack or defence during cattle raiding expeditions. They are now being used purely to kill human beings - either as an act of vengeance or intimidation. An employee at the Tot World Vision Centre who was interviewed recalled one incident in which a dozen people were killed: "If these guns are being used to acquire cattle, then why are they being used to kill women and children who don't own cattle? "The bullets should be targeted at men who own cattle. Instead of children being vaccinated with needles, that day they were vaccinated with bullets - 13 of them were killed. Women were also killed. But no action has been taken todate." The report says the Government has the capacity to effectively and urgently disarm the combatants while NGOs, church organisations, and other development partners could facilitate the establishment of long-term mutual understanding between the warring communities. It warns that there is no single community in the conflict that would claim victory, adding that they are all victims and accomplices in the conflict. "Now is not the time to apportion blame. This is the time to collectively pacify, heal and develop the valley." The report talks of the high losses, both human and material that the conflict has cost the area. "Lives - particularly of innocent children, women and the elderly-have been lost to this senseless and blind conflict. "Large tracts of abandoned arable land hitherto under natural irrigation, hectares and hectares of abandoned pasture now being consumed by bushes and ghost market centres which were once bustling with business activities are now a common site in the Kerio Valley. The security situation in the area started to deteriorate in the early 1980s when the Pokot began to acquire firearms from the Karamajong Uganda. The Government was alarmed by the situation and appointed homeguards, commonly referred to as the Kenya Police Reservists (KPRs) among the Pokots, who were legally given guns to protect their community from the Karamajong and Turkana raiders. It is believed that KPR had no strict rules governing the storage and usage of the guns, some of which were used to terrorise the neighbouring communities. For the part of the northern side of Kerio valley, the supply of guns has been from war-ravaged southern Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia. The report also claims that approximately 11,000 illegal guns are sold in the Kenyan black market annually. In Pokot, the report says virtually every moran owns a gun. Merchants of the guns are said to be businessmen and political activists. Cattle rustling in the area has become a lucrative venture such that unscrupulous traders fund the raids. The cattle are sold in western Kenya and even in Nairobi. "Although it is not clear who the arms and cattle merchants are, there is a feeling that they may be influential people in the community," says the report. Most residents interviewed claimed that within two or three days of cattle rustling incidents, lorry loads of cattle are seen being transported out of the area yet no action is taken to ascertain their connection with the raids. The 27-page report blames politicians from the Kerio Valley for igniting and sustaining the conflict for selfish ends. The report recommends the economic empowerment of the youth in the area to discourage them from prolonging the conflict because of idleness. NCCK's General Secretary the Rev Mutava Musyimi and Jessie Bokhoven, a director, SNV-Kenya, say there is need to constitute a consortium of development agencies, which should include the Government and local authorities who will then adopt a uniform approach to pacifying and developing the Kerio Valley. They argue that the scope of development should bear a two-pronged approach with peace for development and development for peace intervention frameworks. "In view of the delicacy, urgency of the situation and dire needs of the valley, a high rate of success would only accrue from uniformity and complimentary of intervention efforts rather than diversity and parallelism." They conclude: "It is in view of these factors that we wish the information will not just end up in nicely-arranged bookshelves. "It is our sincere hope plea that you (Government) use the information to act now in the interest of the suffering residents of Kerio Valley, most of whom have become refugees in their own country."
BBC 7 Dec 2001 Fresh land clashes in Kenya Access to water and land for cattle have been the death of the tribes The authorities in Kenya say at least 20 people have been killed in fresh ethnic fighting over land and river rights in the south east of the country. The ongoing dispute is between the Orma pastoralists and Pokoma farmers in the Tana River District. It is a mess that has to be cleared up sooner rather than later Police Commissioner Peter Muthike Correspodnents say Thursday's violent confrontation was the deadliest since the two sides resumed hostilities this week. The death toll is being put at 38 for the week with more than 100 people estimated to have died this year. The assistant police commissioner for the area has confirmed the figures, and added that on Thursday night, over 100 houses were set on fire. Government's failure The BBC's Tom McKinley in Nairobi says the pastoralists need to water their livestock in the Tana river, however, to do so, they must cross over Orma agricultural land. This land is situated along the banks of the river. The Orma claim that the Pokoma cattle are destroying their crops, and that they have no right to go on their land. He says the government had promised earlier in the year to resolve the land issue, but so far have been unable to secure any sort of compromise. "It is a mess that has to be cleaned up sooner rather than later," police commissioner Peter Muthike told AFP news agency. Red Cross help The police admit that they have been helpless to intervene, although they had announced a sweep of the area to seize all illegal weapons. Mr Muthike added: " We have tried our best but it seems we can't stop the clashes as yet". Our correspondent says with the disputed zone being fairly close to the border with war-torn Somalia, both tribes have been able to obtain weapons without much difficulty. The Kenya Red Cross has been distributing food and clothing to victims who have fled to seek refuge in church compounds and a trading centre. But it says more food and blankets are needed. More than 2,500 people from both communites are homeless.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 30 Nov 2001 Kenya Humanitarian Update Issue 11, 01 - 30 Nov 2001 TANA RIVER CONFLICT The recent clash in Tana River District occurred on the 18 th November at Tarasaa and Ngao claiming 14 lives and displacing 3,400 persons. The Pokomo and Orma, farmers and pastoralists respectively, inhabit the Tana River district area. Since December 2000, the two communities have been at conflict over pasture, water and land resources sometimes resulting in clashes during which property was destroyed, people displaced and lives lost. And due to these communities insistence on the use of heavy fire arms, education systems and social development have been disrupted consequently restricting movement and causing food insecurity at the household level as people are unable to access their farms. Several agencies responded positively to the crises, however, there is need for more assistance in the areas of:- 1. Household needs in the form of clothes, cooking utensils and reconstruction materials for those whose homes were burnt. Mosquito nets and sanitary pads for girls and women as well as Jerricans for water storage. 2. Education where there is a serious deficiency of Books. Writing materials and desks for the affected schools. 3. The areas of Health, nutrition, Water and sanitation are in urgent need of help especially in the camps where there is not enough water for all and therefore little or no effort to ensure its cleanliness. The absence of toilet facilities in these camps also poses a great risk especially with the onset of the rainy season, as they are prone to cholera outbreak. 4. Agriculture and Livestock too need assistance in the form of drugs for the animals especially for trypanosomosis and ticks and seeds for the farmers to start planting before the rains stop. To boost the wavering morale, a programme to restock those whose animals were killed during the clashes is necessary. 5. Security. A police post needs to be established at Shirikisho and the security personnel should take swift action by immediately arresting perpetrators from both communities and ridding the area of guns. Peace and conflict management should be enhanced and the land adjudication process more participatory. 6. Food distribution. At least three months food rationing for the indirectly affected populations of Chara, Ngao and Wachi/ Oda, Ozi and kilelengwani locations is urgently needed.
Daily Nation (Nairobi) 6 Dec 2001 Thousands flee clash-hit Nairobi slum By MURIITHI MURIUKI Thousands of men, women and children were streaming out of Kibera yesterday, as the violence continued unabated in the sprawling Nairobi slum. Most went looking for a temporary home with family and friends in other parts of the capital, but many sought safety by spending a miserable second day camping with their few belongings at the DO's office. For the third day running the slum became a no-go zone as riot police and officers from the General Service Unit patrolled the near-deserted alleyways and roads. Those who were left behind told of rape, looting and merciless beatings by the police. They said the police attacked anyone they found outside their homes, and broke down doors and chased out anyone seeking refuge. Two more people were reported killed in the renewed fighting, while a Jehova's Witness hall in Kambi Muruu was burnt down, as warring gangs continued to dodge the police patrols. At Kisumu Ndogo, people could be seen trying to salvage goods from the smouldering ruins of their homes. An aerial tour over the slum, organised by Nairobi police boss Geoffrey Muathe, showed the streets nearly empty save for streams of people fleeing in droves. Some carried their belongings in handcarts, lorries and cars, while others carried whatever they owned in their arms or on their heads. Six more houses were torched during the night, increasing the fears of residents huddled at the DO's office for protection. They claimed they had nowhere to go, and vowed to camp there until calm is restored. Women there appealed for food from well wishers, claiming they had gone without any for two days. With the number of people rising by the hour, there are fears of outbreaks of diseases unless the Government moves fast to bring the situation back to normal. The compound has no toilets or washrooms, except those used by the DO and his staff. Scores of workers returning home in the evening, joined forces to guard their homes against looters. Others were still trying to trace their families, hoping that they had survived the violence of the day. Said Ms Jael Mutiso, a single mother of three children: "They burnt down my house at night, with all my belongings. I cannot go back, and have nowhere to go." She appealed to President Moi to visit the area, saying only he could quell the violence, which began after he visited Kibera and ordered the Provincial Administration to ensure rents were lowered. Following a meeting with landlords at which rent cuts were agreed, PC Cyrus Maina was stoned at a baraza he held to announce the rent reductions. Since then some tenants have refused to pay any rent until the row was settled. Fresh violence broke out again on Tuesday, leaving ten people feared dead and dozens seriously injured. Ms Mutiso added: "Moi ametuuza. Kwa nini alianzisha moto halafu anatoroka? (Moi has sold us. Why did he light the fire and then leave us?)" Ms Shumi Ismael, aged 23, who has two children. broke down as she accused Mr Raila Odinga, the National Development Party leader, of fuelling the violence. "I now have nowhere to go, while politicians who incited their tribesmen not to pay rent sleep comfortably with their wives and children," she said. Ms Ismael, who has lived in Kibera for eight years, accused the President and Mr Odinga of having provoked the fighting. "We the poor are left suffering. Our houses have been burnt, our mosque was tear-gassed . . . if they can do this to us who can help us? We leave it to God because He will surely punish them," she said. Unable to salvage anything, she spent the night huddling among other displaced people at the DO's compound. Ms Amina Subira, 54, wept uncontrollably as she recited verses from the Koran. A grandmother of seven, Ms Subira said her mud-walled home was set ablaze early yesterday. "We were all asleep at night, when we heard some commotion outside. As we struggled to wake up, the house was torched from outside by a gang of men. They were screaming and there was a lot of commotion. By the time we got out the house was on fire and all we could was watch it burn to the ground." Ms Subira, who had lived in her three rooms at Makina for more than a decade, said she became separated from her daughter as they ran to safety. "What shall l do with all these children? Where is my daughter? Who will help us?" she asked. Some women claimed they had been raped. Ms Joyce Chebet said police stole from her and then tried to rape her. She said she was saved by some relatives who screamed an alarm. "I feel traumatised by the incident; the police should protect us and not harass us," she said. A broadcast journalist with Nation Media Group, Ms Alice Kararu, was injured when charged by a group of youths armed with pangas and clubs. She was rescued when police fired in the air to disperse the mob. 6 December, 2001, 16:22 GMT 'Hundreds raped' in Kenya clashes Thousands of residents have fled Kibera Women's groups in Kenya have urged the government to take action on claims that hundreds of women and children were raped during this week's clashes in the Nairobi slum of Kibera. They accused both police and rioters of raping women during the fighting between mostly ethnic Nubian landlords and their Luo tenants which started on Tuesday. We don't want to point at anybody but we want the government to stop these human rights violations MP Beth Mugo But in an interview with the BBC, police spokeman Peter Kimathi said the allegations were untrue, and no evidence of rapes had been presented to them. At least seven people were killed and an estimated 3,000 people fled Kibera - Kenya's largest slum, home to 500,000. The BBC's Muliro Telewa in Nairobi says tension heightened in the area following a speech by President Daniel arap Moi in October. Mr Moi had said that the landlords should reduce the rent since they did not legally own the land. Not named The chairperson of Kenya's women parliamentarians, Beth Mugo, introduced a parliamentary motion on the alleged mass rape. None of the alleged victims were named. "In this room, some women were sexually molested but we don't want them to talk without making sure that they will be protected," she later told a news conference. The fighting took on an ethnic dimension "We don't want to point at anybody but we want the government to stop these human rights violations, these women's and children's rights violations," she said. On Tuesday, several people were hacked to death with machetes and a number of houses were torched before police intervened with live ammunition and tear-gas to break up the disturbances. Reports of the number of people killed range from seven to 12. Police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said 33 people were wounded and 57 arrested. Political rent The fighting followed Monday's visit by local MP, Raila Odinga, an ethnic Luo. "The government is the true landlord, the landlords are the tenants and tenants are the subtenants ... the government will tell the landlords to lower the rent," he told the thousands who had gathered to hear him. This place is a slum, why should anyone pay to live here Irene Ochanda Luo tenant But Mr Odinga has denied he is stoking ethnic tension ahead of elections next year. The Nubians were settled in the Nairobi region during the colonial era but have never been given title deeds to the land. "We built these houses to make a living, to help us earn money," said Adbullah Ali, an unemployed 32-year-old Nubian. "Now we are just protecting our properties... the government cannot come here and tell us to stop earning money." There is little running water and poor sanitary facilities. Irene Ochanda, an ethnic Luo whose Nubian-owned lodgings were burnt down by a gang of Luos on Tuesday agreed with Mr Odinga. "This place is a slum, why should anyone pay to live here," she said.
Guardian UK 5 Dec 2001 Dozen killed in ethnic clashes in Nairobi slum Thousands loot and burn slum shanties in Kenyan capital as rent rows give rise to politically motivated violence. By James Astill in Nairobi. At least 12 people were hacked to death and scores seriously injured in a Nairobi slum yesterday as hostility between landlords and tenants grew into furious ethnic clashes. It was the worst civil conflict in the Kenyan capital since two violent election campaigns in the 90s. With another election looming, this one, too, was politically motivated. The violence began late on Monday when a family of the Luo tribe refused to pay rent to their Nubian landlord, and beat him up. The landlord returned with an armed gang, killing two people and badly injuring six. Early yesterday the same gang toured the homes of Luo residents in the Kibera slum, demanding rent and attacking those who refused to pay with machetes. Another 10 Luo women and men were killed. Paramedics laid out the bodies alongside a railway line running between the closely packed shanties. Most were missing limbs. By midmorning more than 1,000 men from each tribe had gathered. Brandishing machetes, clubs and bottles of paraffin, they surged up and down the rutted alleys, looting and burning property, and looking for a way past the police separating them. "They have killed, they have burned us, now they will be killed," said Paul Okoth, 20, one of several hundred Luo gathered on a slope overlooking the slum. Clusters of armed police officers lined the railway track below. Sporadically, and seemingly without provocation, they fired teargas and rubber bullets at one side or the other. Behind them plumes of smoke mapped the day's destruction. Up to five people, including two children, were killed in Kibera last week during skirmishes with the police which were also provoked by protests about rent. Slum-dwellers subsequently accused the police of widespread rape and looting. Below the railway yesterday, a predominantly Nubian area had been smashed and burned. "They have taken every thing, even my batteries. What will I do?" Fatima Weleseme, 38, said in front of her wrecked beer counter. "We do not want a war, we are quiet. But they do not want to pay rent. We said, 'Do not come now whilst we are fasting' - but they came." Britain brought several thousand Muslim Nubians from Sudan to swell the ranks of the colonial King's African Rifles regiment. After the first world war they were allowed to settle on government land outside Nairobi, establishing the Kibera slum. They are still not allowed to own the land, but they nevertheless exact rent for the shanties they have built there. On a bridge beside the burned Nubian houses a crowd of youths with machetes and metal bars warned foreign journalists away. "The British have done this - it is their fault," one shouted. Last week's skirmishes in Kibera were apparently provoked by a visit by President Daniel arap Moi, during which he advised tenants not to pay excessive rents. Yesterday's violence erupted after Raila Odinga, a senior minister and a Luo, visited the slum to repeat Mr Moi's advice. "The government is the true landlord, the landlords are the tenants and tenants are the subtenants ... the government will tell the landlords to lower the rent," he told a crowd of several thousand. Mr Moi's supporters were accused of inciting tribal clashes during the election campaigns of 1992 and 1997, in which hundreds died. The disruption helped Mr Moi's Kenya Africa National Union (Kanu) party to narrow victories in both elections. After ruling Kenya for 24 years, Mr Moi must give up power at next year's election. But if he is to safeguard his fortune, Kanu must win again.
BBC 5 Dec 2001 Thousands flee Kenya clashes - A heavy police presence failed to stop the violence An estimated 3,000 people have fled fighting in the Nairobi slum of Kibera after two days of clashes over rent leave at least seven dead. The BBC's Muliro Telewa said that they were now stranded at the Kibera District Officer's compound - the only place where they felt safe. We built these houses to make a living, to help us earn money... the government cannot come here and tell us to stop earning money Adbullah Ali Nubian landlord There was more isolated fighting on Wednesday and police spokesman Peter Kimanthi said there had been no new casualties. Violence flared between landlords - mainly ethnic Nubians who originate from Sudan - and the tenants, most of whom belong to the Luo community. Several people were hacked to death and a number of houses were torched before police intervened with live ammunition and tear-gas to break up the disturbances. Stranded Reports of the number of people killed range from seven to 11. Residents blamed most of the deaths on the Nubians. Many Kibera are now stranded Thirty-three people were wounded and 57 arrested, said Mr Kimanthi. Our correspondent says that tensions between tenants and landlords were fuelled by President Daniel arap Moi in October. He told the tenants that they were paying too much rent because the landlords did not own the land. Title-deeds Tension rose further on Monday when the local MP, Raila Odinga, an ethnic Luo visited the area. "The government is the true landlord, the landlords are the tenants and tenants are the subtenants ... the government will tell the landlords to lower the rent," he told the thousands who had gathered to hear him. This place is a slum, why should anyone pay to live here Irene Ochanda Luo tenant The Nubians were settled in the Nairobi region during the colonial era but have never been given title deeds to the land. "We built these houses to make a living, to help us earn money,» said Adbullah Ali, an unemployed 32-year-old Nubian. "Now we are just protecting out properties... the government cannot come here and tell us to stop earning money." Some 500,000 people are estimated to live in the sprawling slum where there is little running water and poor sanitary facilities. Irene Ochanda, an ethnic Luo whose Nubian-owned lodgings were burnt down by a gang of Luos on Tuesday agreed with Mr Odinga. "This place is a slum, why should anyone pay to live here," she said.
Daily Nation (Niarobi) 5 Dec 2001 Ten feared dead in new city slum clashes By NATION Team More than 10 people were last night feared dead and scores critically injured in bloody clashes sparked off by a rent row. Property of unknown value was destroyed in the fighting that has rocked Kibera slums in Nairobi since Monday evening. At least 10 houses and other shelters were razed to the ground yesterday as rival youth groups went on a killing spree. Several people were hacked to death in the morning before anti-riot police backed by hundreds of General Service Unit officers moved in. Last night the whole slum had become a no-go area with police turning back people trying to return home from work. Provincial Commissioner Cyrus Maina and Nairobi police chief Geoffrey Muathe circled the slum in a helicopter to survey the damage. Mr Maina confirmed four of the deaths and said he knew of 28 people who were injured. "Three houses and a few structures along the railway line were burnt. The situation is back to normal now," he said, as hundreds of residents from Kibera remained stranded at the Kibera District Office, unable to reach their homes. Mr Maina said the number of those arrested was still to be established. He confirmed that a survey of the slums was underway. "It is part of the upgrading of Kibera. We are in the process of establishing the perimeters of the land that was allocated to members of the Nubian community in colonial times," he said. Once the boundaries were established, the provincial administration and community leaders would decide whether to allocate a joint communal title deed or individual deeds. He dismissed the violence as the work of a few "layabouts and drunkards" who wanted to take advantage of the rent dispute to escalate the problem. The dispute began when President Moi visited the slum and ordered Mr Maina to ensure the rents were lowered. Following a meeting with the landlords Mr Maina held a baraza to announce the new lower rents but he was stoned and had to be rescued by his bodyguards. Since then some tenants have refused to pay any rent until the dispute is settled. The violence broke out again on Monday night when a landlord went to demand rent from his tenants in Lindi area. Area DO Joel Makoli said: "The tenants declined to pay the money and instead attacked him. The landlord raised the alarm, prompting other tenants said to belong to his ethnic group to come to his rescue." Mr Makoli, accompanied by Kilimani police boss Nemwel Mochache said at least 11 people were slashed in the fighting, two of them critically. "Some of those behind the chaos were the retrenchees who cannot afford to buy food or pay house rent and they have nothing to lose," he said. Police who had camped at the DO's office moved into the slums after midnight and engaged the residents in a battle that went on until dawn. Fresh fighting begun shortly after 10am yesterday, as the news of the attacks spread through the ten villages that make up the slum, with 700,000 residents said to be one of the largest in the world. Youths armed with swords, metal bars and clubs took up positions in all sections of Makina, Mashimoni and Lindi areas. Smoke billowed to the sky as houses, kiosks and other shelters went up in flames when the rowdy youths begun to unleash terror on those believed to belong to their rival camps Three bodies lay along the railway line connecting the slum and the city. Residents said more bodies had been collected at Lindi, which was declared a no-go zone for the Press. The reports were not immediately confirmed. Several people suffered deep cuts on the head, hands and legs. Others were rescued by the St John's Ambulance crews who moved into the slums in three vans and were rushed to hospital. One of the victims, Mr James Mutua, said he was attacked as he went to work. Two other men, one of them with with severe cuts on the neck and legs was taken to Marie Health Centre at the middle of Kibera. Four stone houses were burned near Olympic Primary School and others were destroyed in Mashimoni area. The residents were seen leaving the area carrying their household goods. At Kenyatta National Hospital three deaths were confirmed; two on arrival and a third while being treated, said hospital director, Dr Hosea Waweru. "All the victims being brought to the hospital had deep cuts," he said. By 3 pm, he said, they had received 30 injured people and the number was expected to rise. Reporting by Stephen Muiruri, Muriithi Muriuki and Wahome
Thuku News (Kenya) 4 Dec 2001 Moi now woos the Kikuyu By JAMES KARIUKI The Kikuyu should reconsider their political stand and rejoin the Government, President Moi told a delegation that visited him at Kabarak yesterday. He told the entourage, led by Nakuru Kanu branch chairman Kimani Ngunjiri, that the community had wasted two opportunities - the 1992 and 1997 elections - to gain a strong foothold in the Government. "Your (Kikuyu) failure to speak in one voice has compounded your problems," President Moi said. The delegation, which included Local Government Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, had consulted the President over the political future of the community. They also wanted to thank him for appointing Mr Kenyatta to the new-look Cabinet. The meeting took place against a backdrop of speculation that some key Opposition leaders from Central Province might defect to Kanu. Said the President: "I have lived with you for many years. If you have not understood me, it will be difficult for you to understand another leader in future." The delegation included Nakuru Mayor Mugo Maathai (DP) and councillors from Molo Town, Nakuru County Council and Nakuru municipality. Mr Kenyatta said the Kikuyu could not afford to continue being out of the government. He criticised leaders who had allegedly misled the community into shunning the government for the past 12 years. Said the Local Government Minister: "Because of greed, leaders have divided the Kikuyu and caused wrangles from the grassroots level. The Kikuyu need to unite with other tribes for the sake of development." Former Molo MP Njenga Mungai told the community to think twice and make a decision to return to Kanu. He spoke of political mathematics, and told his people that they could not win against the combined force of the other 41 ethnic groups in the country. Current Molo MP Kihika Kimani (DP) said the Kikuyu would continue to suffer if they refused to cooperate with the government. He added that the Kikuyu in the Rift Valley should co-exist peacefully with other communities. He urged the Kikuyu in Rift Valley to reject politicians from Central Province, saying their aim was to create confusion and hatred among them. Leader of the delegation Ngunjiri said ordinary members of the community were willing to cooperate with the government but were being incited against doing so by their leaders. He said that President Moi should convene a meeting with Kikuyu leaders to chart out ways to woo the community back to Kanu. Earlier, some members of the community objected to the "courtesy call" on the grounds that it might be part of the President's "wider scheme to divide the Kikuyu community". Naivasha MP Paul Kihara (DP) and some councillors said they had turned down a request by senior provincial administration officials to join the State House delegation. The DP legislator, who described the trip as sinister, said Nakuru DC James ole Sirian had telephoned him on Sunday night to confirm whether he would be joining the delegation. "The DC asked me whether I had been informed about the visit to the President by the Nakuru Kanu branch chairman Kimani Ngunjiri who had earlier approached me to join in the delegation," Mr Kihara said. The opposition leaders said those who lead the delegation were opportunists who cannot influence the community's political destiny. However, Mr Ngunjiri told the Nation that the trip was intended to provide a forum for dialogue between the Kikuyus and the President. Mr Kimani was speaking to the Nation outside State House Nakuru where the group had converged before being directed to Kabarak. "We must appreciate what the President has done for the community. This has nothing to do with party issues since leaders and wananchi from all political parties are represented," Mr Ngunjiri said. Over 2,000 Kikuyus comprising businessmen and small-scale traders, elected opposition councillors and political activists across the political divide visited the President at his Kabarak home. The group was ferried to Kabarak in over 100 Nissan Matatu and Mini-buses which Mr Ngunjiri said were donated by well-wishers from the Kikuyu community. In Nairobi, MPs David Mwenje (Embakasi), Maina Kamanda (Starehe) and Paul Mugeke (Makadara) described those in the delegation as "political opportunists. " The DP MPs said their community would "never'' accommodate Kanu and its leadership.
Daily Nation (Nairobi) 5 Dec 2001 Moi and Raila blamed for slum clashes By NJERI RUGENE Opposition MPs yesterday blamed President Moi and Energy Minister Raila Odinga for the violence in the city's Kibera slums. They claimed that the two incited the tenants not to pay rent. Speaking in parliament, Mrs Beth Mugo (Dagorreti, SDP), who sparked the acrimonious debate, claimed that the clashes were ignited in preparation for the next General Election. Saying that the violence had spilled over to her constituency, Mrs Mugo asked the President and Mr Odinga to return to Kibera "and put out the fire they had lit". "The problem is what the President said. No matter the number of security officers you send there, it is only the President who can stop the violence. People in Kibera say openly that it is only the President who can stop them from doing what they are doing. Can he please go there to prevent more deaths and destruction of property?" she said. She said she had information that 13 people had died in the clashes. But Office of the President Assistant Minister William Ruto described Mrs Mugo's statement as "irresponsible" and explained that in directing the Nairobi Provincial Commissioner to look into the rent issue, the President was "merely responding to residents' requests". He said a committee of tenants and landlords had been formed and was seeking a solution to the land problem even before the President made his statement. A temporary agreement had been reached and the government had nothing to do with it. "The rent issue is a private matter between landlords and tenants," he said. He also denied that 13 people had died in the violence, and gave four as the number of people who had been killed – one in hospital. He said 10 were injured. He assured the House that enough security officers had been sent to the slum, including the dreaded General Service Unit.
AFP 12 Dec 2001 Several thousands displaced in renewed fighting in Liberia MONROVIA, Dec 12 (AFP) - Liberian Defence Minister Daniel Chea has said that "between twelve to fifteen thousand people" have been displaced by new fighting in the country's northwest, reports said Wednesday. Chea was quoted as saying that huge numbers had left Gbarpolu County, which adjoins the troubled northern Lofa County, and sought shelter at Sawmill in Bomi County. He said the internally displaced people were basically from the towns of Bopolu, Weasua, Ngemgbai in the Fassama and Kolahun regions. Chea said they had left their homes "with nothing at all" and were facing serious food shortages and other problems. "We are urging NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to move to Sawmill (about 70 kilometres northwest of Monrovia) and assist these unfortunate brothers and sisters," he said. He said government forces were doing "everything possible" to secure those areas so that the displaced people could return home. There has been fighting in northern Liberia, especially in Lofa County, since 1998 but it has intensified since last September. The government says about 60,000 civilians have fled the area since then. The rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), which has bases in neighbouring Guinea, is leading the fighting in Lofa County. The LURD is thought to be led by former chief of staff Charles Julu, who served in the regime of Samuel Doe, assassinated in 1990 after Taylor launched an insurgency. In a separate development, aid agencies in the war zone have complained that government troops were looting civilian properties. An official of the international charity Action Aid told AFP on condition of anonymity that all Lebanese- and Fulani-owned stores had been looted. Chea, however, denied the claim.
AFP 7 Dec 2001 --Liberian troops recapture two towns from dissidents, 28 rebels killed MONROVIA, Dec 7 (AFP) - The Liberian government has recaptured the northern towns of Foya and Belle Yella from dissidents and killed the deputy commander of the rebels and 27 others, reports said Friday. A government statement released late Thursday quoted Defence Minister Daniel Chea as saying that the two towns were "liberated" by government troops. It said the "deputy chief of staff of the Liberians United for Reconstruction and Development (LURD) rebel group, Randolph Mulbah, along with 27 fighters were killed in fighting in Foya." There has been fighting in northern Liberia since 1998 but it has intensified since last September. The government says about 60,000 civilians have fled the area since then. The rebel group Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), which has bases in neighbouring Guinea, is leading the fighting in Lofa County. The LURD is thought to be led by former chief of staff Charles Julu, who served in the regime of Samuel Doe, assassinated in 1990 after Taylor launched an insurgency. The defence minister said a senior LURD commander, Fatumata Kamara, had been captured and was in the custody of government troops. The government forces also destroyed two troop carriers and an anti-aircraft gun, the statement said. "The town of Kolahun (on the borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone) is currently under siege from three fronts. The navy forces of the Foya region are said to be advancing from Foya, while the marines and last battalion are said to be closing in rapidly on Kolahun," Chea said. He said the objective was to "finally liberate" Kolahun. Meanwhile, Liberian President Charles Taylor has ordered Chea to search for junior National Security Minister Emmett Ross who reportedly fell in a dissident ambush in the forest of Belle Yella. A ministry of information press statement said Ross, who is also a senior military intelligence officer, was among officers collecting information in the Belle Forest when his vehicle was ambushed by dissidents. He has been offically declared missing in action.
IRIN 11 Dec 2001 Six Genocide Suspects Begin Sentences in Mali Former Rwandan prime minister Jean Kambanda was among five other genocide convicts transferred to Mali on Sunday to begin serving sentences of between 15 years to life imprisonment, imposed by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, news organisations reported. "Kambanda is the first leader of a government to be convicted of genocide," the Hirondelle News Agency reported. He pleaded guilty in 1999 and was sentenced to life imprisonment. The other convicts, who also got life terms, are former mayor of Taba commune Jean Paul Akayesu, former governor of Kibuye province Clement Kayishema, and former tea factory director Alfred Musema. They are the first convicts transferred from the tribunal's detention facility in Arusha, Tanzania, to serve sentences in another country. The others are former Interahamwe militia leader Omar Serushago who got 15 years, and former businessman Obed Ruzindana who received a 25-year sentence. All lost their appeals against their sentences. The tribunal has signed agreements to imprison the convicts in Benin, Mali and Swaziland, whose penitentiaries must meet international norms. The Rwandan government estimates that just over one million people were killed in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. Others put the number at 800,000. The tribunal has so far handed down eight convictions and one acquittal. The body was created 8 November 1994 to prosecute of persons responsible for genocide and other serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Rwanda between 1 January 1994 and 31 December 1994. It may also prosecute Rwandans responsible for genocide and other such violations of international law committed in the territory of neighbouring States during the same period.
This Day (Lagos)12 Dec 2001 Respect Human Rights, CD Tells Government. By Wale Olaleye Campaign for Democracy (CD), a non-governmental human rights group has described as unimpressive, the President Olusegun Obasanjo led-government on human rights record, even as the world marks human rights day. The group which also placed a six-point demand from the Obasanjo government in a statement signed by its general-Secretary, Joe Okei-Odumakin said it was not impressed about the human rights record in Nigeria two and a half years into the civil rule. Evident on this score, the group noted was the flagrant disregard for court order at various levels of governance, stating particularly the executive arm of the national government and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The group in the statement said "personal liberties have neither feared better as there have been several cases of violation of human dignity and right to life. The Tiv massacre, a replica of the Odi genocide is the high point of the abuse. "Another sad pointer to the limitations of human rights", it continued, "is the recently signed electoral bill by the President which constricts the democratic space by shutting out those who cannot find space in the existing political parties from participating in 2003 elections. It is sad that even the 1999 constitution which was prepared in Abacha's bedroom is more liberal over the rights of association than a law made by a supposedly elected people. CD maintained that even as the world celebrates human rights day, the shoot-at-sight order still subsists in Nigeria, following President Obasanjo's directive which thus allows the Police to kill without compunction. More so, it argued that the President, instead of defending the constitution was rather disposed to backing the sharia legal system. Meanwhile, in commemoration of the world human right day, the CD had therefore made some six points demand to the President with relations to the on-going trends in the country. By this way, it was optimistic that the rule of thumb would not override the rule of law. The demands are therefore that; There must be strict adherence to the rule of law. Safiya must not die. Troops must vacate Tivland immediately The reversal of the electoral bill as it affects freedom of association. Recall of all sacked University of Ilorin 44 and Convocation of a Sovereign National Conference.
This Day 12 Dec 2001 Church Loses 251 Members to Tiv/Jukun Crisis Daniel Ior Makurdi As fresh facts continue to emerge over the actual death toll affecting Tiv people in the ethnic crisis in Nasarawa, Taraba and parts of Benue States. The Church of Christ in the Sudan Among the Tiv otherwise known as NKST Church has named 251 of its members killed in the crises. "As at present, about 251 of our members have been properly identified murdered in cold blood, thousands are still missing and feared dead" said the church in a communique issued after an annual synod meeting of the elders of the church held at MKar-Gboko. Apart from the massacre of the 251 members, the church also said it has lost schools and health institutions including other church properties, like cars, buses and motor cycles which it put at several millions of naira. According to the communique made available to THISDAY the 251 people confirmed murdered "were either attacked by men of the army, mobile police, Kwara/Alago militia or Jukun/Fulani militia." In some cases the church has announced that some of its properties especially churches and pastors residences and its school buildings have already been taken over by the Taraba State government. In Agbo village for instance, the church said apart from the loss of over 200 houses including a pastor's residence a church building and a church site have already been "taken over by Taraba State Ministry of Education, while in Ayu which it said was attacked on May 5 and June 26, 2001, the church named one of its churches as also having been "taken over by Jukun native practitioners." The NKST church which started as a result of missionary activities of the Dutch Reformed Church Mission (DRCM) from South Africa as far back as January 1911, expressed fears that it may have been targetted for that massive destruction because "people in Nasarawa and Taraba states cling to a wrong notion that NKST is a tribal church particularly meant for the Tiv race." It regretted however, that while it has been targetted for destruction the aggressors have forgotten the efforts made by the church in education, health and social service. "Most of these clinics, schools and various other amenities are provided by the NKST church to foster rural development," it regretted. The church therefore called on the Federal Government "to rehabilitate all NKST churches, pastoria, clinics and schools in all the affected states," as well as provide relief materials to the displaced people.
Vanguard (Lagos) 11 Dec 2001 Ijaw National Congress Takes Case to the Hague for Compensation -Samuel Oyadongha Yenagoa IRKED by the continued refusal of the Federal Government to rebuild Odi town which was destroyed by federal troops sometimes in November 1999 in the aftermath of the killing of twelve policemen by Ijaw youths, the Izon ethnic nationality may be heading to the International War Crime tribunal at The Hague to seek redress. This was made known by the Ijaw National Congress President, Dr. Kimse Okoko in a statement circulated in Yenagoa. Dr. Okoko also warned of an impending disaster in the Niger Delta over the stand of the Federal Government to go ahead with the dredging of the lower Niger River in spite of the unpleasant effect it will have on the people of the area. Said he: "As we continue to reflect on the tragic and unprovoked declaration of war on Odi by Mr. President, with the attendant devastating decimation of the town by soldiers of the Nigerian Army, we wish to draw the attention of all peace loving Nigerians that two years after the sacking of Odi, the Federal Government has refused to pay any compensation to the aggrieved persons and has also refused to rebuild Odi." The INC president noted with regret that the injuries inflicted on the Izon ethnic nationality by the wanton destruction of lives and property at Odi are too painful to be wished away. His words: "We note with utter dismay, that Mr. President has continued to treat the Odi massacre and destruction with benign neglect. "While the Federal Government may continue to relish in its oppression of Odi community (and by extension the Izon ethnic nationality) the Ijaw National Congress (INC) insists and wishes to again remind the Federal Government (as we put finishing touches) to our preparations to proceed to the International War Crimes tribunal at The Hague, that it is its sole responsibility to rebuild Odi." He added, "congress wishes to draw the attention of Nigerians to another Odi in the making as the Federal Government concludes the positioning of the military in strategic locations at the River Niger consequent upon its directives to the dredging company to start the dredging of the lower River Niger in spite of the fact that there is already a subsisting court action against the dredging. "We are convinced that the dredging of the lower River Niger will worsen the perennial problems of erosion and flooding among others which in the past have wrecked havoc on the Izon community and other settlements along the River Niger besides the fact that no credible and conclusive EIA study has so far been carried out on the exercise. Dr. Okoko therefore calls on Mr. President to respect the rule of law saying, "it is in fact the most inspiring dividend of democracy even in the face of excruciating poverty and hopelessness.
IRIN 27 Nov 2001 Renewed ethnic clashes erupt in central region LAGOS, 27 Nov 2001 (IRIN) - A fresh outbreak of ethnic fighting has erupted in Nigeria’s central region Taraba State, with dozens of people killed and thousands forced to flee their homes, local officials told IRIN on Monday. More than 100 armed men, suspected to be part of an ethnic Tiv militia, attacked several settlements of their neighbours, the Jukuns, in the Donga area, near the border with Benue State on Saturday, burning houses and killing several people, John Adamu, an official of the Taraba State government said. “The attacks continued on Sunday, with more villages burnt and still more people killed,” the official told IRIN. Benue officials have also reported a renewed influx of displaced Tivs from Taraba State seeking refuge in Benue State as a result of the violence. “Early on Sunday three trailers filled with displaced people running for safety were brought into Makurdi”[the capital of Benue State], Benson Ogaba, a Benue state official, told IRIN. Several hundreds of people have been killed since the longstanding dispute between Tivs and their Jukun neighbours over land ownership, flared up in violence in September. Troops sent in by President Olusegun Obasanjo into the area to quell the violence became mired in the conflict after 19 of their men were killed by a Tiv militia. Reprisal attacks mounted by soldiers in October against several Tiv villages resulted in the death of more than 200 people and the displacement of tens of thousands of others. Residents of the affected area have continued to report military activity in their districts against unarmed villagers, with more people being killed, injured or forced to flee their homes.
IRIN 12 Dec 2001 Gacaca Genocide Trials to Begin in May 2002 Gacaca traditional court trials are expected to begin in May 2002, according to a timetable issued by the Rwandan Supreme Court, the Fondation Hirondelle reported on Monday. The timetable was revealed at a meeting of province-level gacaca judges on Monday in Murambi (Gitarama, central Rwanda). It was the first such meeting since some 260,000 gacaca judges were elected in October to preside over community courts, designed to speed up trials related to the 1994 genocide. Trials will begin once training of the judges has been completed. The first stage will involve the training of 780 trainers, from 4 February to 15 March, consisting primarily of magistrates and final year law students. After their own training, they will then be divided into small groups to train gacaca judges in the villages. The 780 trainers will have three months to train 254,152 gacaca judges. Training sessions for judges are to begin on 18 March, in Kigali and in 12 pilot provinces. These judges were elected in October by their communities as "people of integrity". During their training, the judges are to receive instruction in basic principles of law; group management; conflict resolution; judicial ethics; trauma (understanding and recognising trauma, learning how to behave with trauma victims); human resources, equipment and financial management. Some 109,000 training manuals are to be printed and translated into the Rwandan language, Kinyarwanda. However, special challenges will be faced as many of the judges lack much formal education, and some, especially at the lowest administrative level, are even illiterate, Hirondelle reported. Further obstacles are logistical and administrative in nature. Speaking at the Murambi meeting, the president of the Supreme Court's gacaca department, Aloysie Cyanzayire, said that no Rwandan printer had the capacity to print 109,000 handbooks in less than two months, and that none of them had enough stocks of paper, which has to be imported. Cyanzayire also cited budgetary problems: she said that financial resources for setting up gacaca jurisdictions had only been introduced into the state budget for 2002, currently under discussion in parliament. For more details on the Rwandan gacaca court system, go to http://www.hirondelle.org/hirondelle.nsf
New Vision (Kampala, Uganda) 11 Dec 2001 Genocide Widows Die of Aids Forty-seven of the Rwandan genocide widows who were raped by Hutu gangs in the bloodletting have died of AIDS, reports the Association of Genocide Widows (AVEGA). AVEGA which champions for the right of genocide widows says that 1,100 of them have tested HIV/AIDS positive. "This figure is believed to be much higher because the majority of our members have not yet been tested," Hilary Mukamazimpaka, AVEGA coordinator said. She said the above figures were obtained from a survey carried out in three provinces of the country, namely Kigali city, Kibungo and Butare. It was found out that out of this sample, 66.7 per cent were HIV /AIDS positive, while 80 % had been seriously traumatised because of the sexual torture they went through. "Some of these people living with AIDS are dying a slow death," Sylvia Barakagwira, head of the AVEGA advocacy department told dpa. According to Barakagwiza, rape was used as a weapon by the marauding Hutu militias. Some Tutsi women were gang-raped, or were kept in solitary confinement by the militia who were raping them. AVEGA has expressed concern that because of the death rate among its members, no one will be left to give testimony about the horrors that took place in Rwanda in 1994. Barakagwira deplores the fact that those who were at the helm of rape and the killings now in the U.N. Tribunal detention in Arusha, Tanzania, have access to free drugs provided by the international community, while their victims here are faced with a certain death. However, since June 2001, with the help of well-wishers, AVEGA has initiated a project aimed at assisting those infected with the killer disease and orphans by providing them with antibiotics and food items. The Rwanda genocide claimed one million people, mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. More than 100,000 genocide suspects are crammed in Rwandan jails.
Internews 11 Dec 2001 Documentary On Genocide Screened in Ngoma, Kibuye Province By Mary Kimani Kibuye. Hundreds of Rwandans from Ngoma commune in Kibuye Province, western Rwanda, last Tuesday attended the screening of 'The Arusha Tapes, a Kinyarwanda language documentary, at the Adventist Secondary School (ESAPAN). Internews Network produced the documentary, directed by renowned South African director Mandy Jacobson. 'The Arusha Tapes' chronicles six genocide trials completed before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Internews has toured the film in more than 20 communes in Rwanda, including nine prisons. Ngoma is the native commune of genocide convict Obed Ruzindana, a former businessman in the province. The ICTR has sentenced Ruzindana to 25 years in prison for his role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Ruzindana appealed against the ruling but the ICTR Appeals Court upheld the sentence in June this year. During the screening of 'The Arusha Tapes,' viewers watched with rapt attention the footage from the trial of Ruzindana. Many in the audience pointed out that Ruzindana played an enthusiastic role in the extermination of ethnic Tutsi in Ngoma. "That man really despised us. I want to see what has happened to him now," a woman who lost her husband during the genocide told Internews at Ngoma center. After the screening, many voiced their dissatisfaction with the sentence. "I saw this man myself. After president [Juvenal] Habyarimana died, he called the Hutu and asked them to take machetes and kill the Tutsi people. Now I see they gave him 25 years. I think this does not take into consideration all those who died. If it were my wish, they should burn him, but I know the law does not allow that in Rwanda. When I remember what this man did, I really believe he does not deserve 25 years," Clemence Wamahoro lamented. A 17-year-old student at the ESAPAN narrated his personal encounter with Ruzindana. "When Ruzindana came to our house, I was hiding. He found me. At that time, I was still a child. He said to me: 'I have killed a lot of Tutsis, but I will not kill you.' He said to me he had finished all the Tutsi in Bisesero and he was only leaving me so that Hutu boys could see how few Tutsi boys were now," the student stated, asking if there was a way for anyone to appeal the ICTR process. A central feature of Ngoma commune is the Mugonero Adventist Complex where Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana and his son, Gerard Ntakirutima, a doctor, worked. The complex was the site of the main massacre in the commune. Hundreds of bodies have been reburied in a memorial mass grave at the complex while others remain in a septic tank and in other mass graves. In memory of those who died in the genocide, the bones of an unknown number of victims have been put into four coffins and are displayed in a church within the compound of a secondary and student nurse school (SIM) adjoining the hospital. An estimated 50 pastors were among those who died in the massacre. The Mugonero church still bears grenade impact marks. It is estimated that 5000 Tutsi refugees were killed within the complex. The trial for the Ntakirutimanas is currently in process before the ICTR. They allegedly acted in collaboration with Ruzindana and Charles Sikubwabo, the mayor of the commune at the time, during the killings. "He was our pastor, he knew God, all people feared and respected him, I do not think Ruzindana was worse, because he was just a merchant, but Ntakirutimana (Elizaphan)! We had known him for many years, we cannot understand why he did what he did" an elderly Pascal Sigatare stated with emotion. The audience also recognized Alfred Musema, a factory manager in the adjoining Gisovu commune, and Clement Kayishema, their governor during the genocide. A recurring theme in discussions that follow the screening is the complaint that ICTR detainees live a far better life than most of the local population in Rwanda. "I have now seen what happened to the killers from our area and what I see is that they are living better than most of us," Jonathan Musonera bemoaned. Internews has produced two newsreels that follow 'The Arusha Tapes,' which it tours around Rwanda to bridge the information gap between ordinary Rwandans and their national judicial institutions as well as the ICTR.
IRIN 10 Dec 2001 Kigali Asks Dar es Salaam to Rearrest Genocide Suspect Nairobi: Rwanda has asked Tanzania to rearrest an investigator for defendants on trial at the UN International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda because Kigali suspects him of having participated in the 1994 genocide, Rwandan Radio reported on Saturday. A Tanzanian court released the investigator, Felix Ntamfurayishyari, on Tuesday after he paid a US $222 fine for illegal entry into Tanzania and for being in possession of a forged Tanzanian passport, news organisations reported. He was arrested in November while trying to obtain a visa from The Netherlands Embassy, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Friday, quoting police sources. Ntamfurayishyari works for the defence team of genocide suspect Juvenal Kajelijeli, former burgomaster (mayor) of the Mujima commune in the northwestern Rwandan province of Ruhengeri, news organisations reported. Ntamfurayishyari is the third ICTR employee of Rwandan origin to be arrested for possession of false travel documents, the radio reported. A translator with the defence team at the ICTR, Patrick Ssimbwa Bugingo, was arrested with a false Ugandan passport and is in detention, news sources in Arusha told IRIN on Monday, Another former investigator Simon Nshamihigo, using a false Congolese identity, was arrested in May and is also awaiting trial, RNA reported. Rwanda's special representative to the tribunal, Martin Ngoga, told reporters in Arusha, Tanzanian, that nine genocide suspects were still employed by the tribunal. However, the tribunal's registrar, Adama Dieng, denied the allegation.
Reuters 9 Dec 2001
Rwandan child fighters exorcise guerrilla past By Helen Vesperini GITAGATA,
Rwanda (Reuters) - There used to be a village at Gitagata. The family homes
that once lined the red dirt road were razed during Rwanda's 1994 genocide,
their inhabitants brutally slaughtered. Now all that remains are the thorn bushes
that once served as fences in this region south of Kigali. Just down the road
is a memorial to the genocide, vaults piled high with skulls bearing witness
to the 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus massacred in May and June 1994. The
memorial is not the only reminder of the ethnically fuelled brutality that has
rocked the tiny central African country for the last decade. Gitigata is also
home to a rehabilitation camp for child fighters, former members of the Hutu
Interahamwe militias who led the genocide and have since waged a guerrilla war
from bases in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. The 330 children at
the camp, aged between 11 and 18, were forcibly recruited into the Interahamwe
as fighters, porters or cooks. Recaptured by the government earlier this year,
they are now being prepared for a return to civilian life. The camp is basic.
There is no fresh water supply and the climate is conducive to malaria. There
is little to fill the boys' time. There are tools for carpentry and sewing machines,
but no wood or materials on which to work. But conditions are luxurious compared
to the forests of the Congo where the boys have lived for years with the rebel
militias. They have bunk beds, mattresses and the younger boys even attend the
local school. FAMILY REUNIONS The aim is to reunite the children with their
families. For some the transition can be smooth, but others are stuck in limbo,
too young to be incorporated into Rwanda's regular army, but too mature and
battle-hardened to be sent back to school. Jean Bosco, 17, has made friends
with the security officials who guard the camp. His string vest shows off well-defined
muscles and he is intent on following the news on his small radio. An hour's
drive away, his mother Antoinette Mujawamariya is delighted at having been reunited
with her son after five years and optimistic about his homecoming. "The local
people know him as a child, not as a soldier," she says from a room packed with
sacks of beans and bunches of bananas in the general store she runs on a dusty
village road. "They want him back." Others are not so lucky. Some parents handed
their children voluntarily to the authorities, scared they would be accused
of harbouring infiltrators. And for every Jean Bosco there are several scrawny,
wide-eyed children who have no homes to go to. Hakizimana is a 13-year-old orphan
who knows only his surname which means "It's God who saves" in Kinyarwanda.
He was separated from his elder brothers while trying to fight his way back
into Rwanda from the Congolese forests. BRAINWASHED Chased out of Rwanda
in the wake of the genocide, the Interahamwe militias moved to the Congo to
wage a new campaign against Rwandan President Paul Kagame's government. To bolster
their numbers, they recruited children from the Hutu refugees who had joined
the flight from Rwanda, brainwashing them into believing that if they returned
to Rwanda peacefully they would be killed. Advancing barefoot towards their
homeland, they got only as far as the Virunga mountains that straddle the border
between Congo and Rwanda when they were faced with disciplined Rwandan soldiers,
backed by heavy artillery and a helicopter gunship. After giving themselves
up, the children spent a few months in the same camp as adult militiamen before
being taken away to Gitagata. The reintegration process will be long and hard.
"Those who left as privates in 1998 have had three years of military life now,"
said Straton Nsanzabaganwa, an official at Rwanda's ministry of social affairs.
"They are to all intents and purposes soldiers." The pictures pinned up above
the rows of bunk beds at the camp testify to how far the boys still have to
go. Blue biro men in army fatigues talk tersely into radios, others fire at
roadblocks or man anti-aircraft guns. Beside the drawings, pictures of footballers
taken from bubblegum packets for a moment suggest normality, until 13-year-old
Justin Mugabo, wearing a France '98 World Cup T-shirt, says three bullet wounds
in his legs prevent him from playing the game he loves. But camp director Jean
Leonard Munyandinda says he sees hope for the children who were not allowed
a childhood. Many of the boys, silent and suspicious when they came to Gitagata,
have begun to open up and talk through their experiences. "When a child dares
to tell you 'I killed such and such a person, I did wrong', then it's not too
late," he said. Search this site In this section 'If it's possible to justify
minimalism, this can't be how to do it...' Why authors need a refuge It's not
easy for writers from repressive regimes to find safe haven elsewhere.
Reuters 11 Dec 2001 -Somali warlords say will shun Kenya peace talks By Tsegaye Tadesse ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Somali warlords opposed to President Abdiqassim Salad Hassan's government said on Tuesday they would not attend talks expected in Kenya this week aimed at ending a decade of chaos in the Horn of Africa country. Hassan Mohamed Nur, chairman of the Somali Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SRRC), a grouping of militia leaders, said his movement believed peace efforts could be achieved only through a separate peace initiative by east African states known as the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD). ``To avoid polarization and conflicts of interest, SRRC believes that a unified coordinated stand among IGAD states was required before any effort by individual countries was undertaken,'' Nur told Reuters on a visit to Ethiopia. IGAD, a conflict resolution body formed by East Africa states, has been preoccupied mainly with Sudan in recent months. Diplomats say Kenya is planning its own initiative to host peace talks among rival Somali leaders in Nairobi from December 13-17, but say the list of participants has not been finalized. Kenyan government officials have declined to comment. Several powerful warlords belonging to the SRRC declined to attend a previous round of reconciliation talks hosted by Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi in Nairobi in November. ``The few who attended that meeting did not have the mandate to speak on behalf of the SRRC. Whatever commitments they had undertaken reflected their own individual position,'' he said. Abdiqassim's transitional government and Somali faction leaders who attended the November talks said they had agreed on the need to organize further talks to resolve their differences. Moi has said that Somalia, which descended into turmoil after the overthrow of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991, could become a haven for international terrorists unless peace was restored. His warning echoed international concerns that Osama bin Laden (news - web sites) and his followers, blamed for the September 11 attacks on the United States, might try to shelter in Somalia if forced out of Afghanistan (news - web sites) by U.S. military action. U.S. military officers visited Somalia on Sunday for talks with opposition warlords to identify potential ``terrorist'' targets in the country, sources close to the warlords said. There has been widespread speculation the United States is planning a military campaign in Somalia as a second phase in its war on terrorism, but Washington has played down the possibility of imminent strikes against the country. RIVAL GOVERNMENT Abdiqassim was elected president by a conference of clan leaders at Arta in neighboring Djibouti last year, but he has failed to convince many rival warlords to accept his rule. He controls only pockets of the capital Mogadishu and little of the rest of the country. The SRRC's warlords have formed a rival government in the town of Baidoa southwest of Mogadishu. Nur, who is also president of the Rahanwein Resistance Army (RRA), one of the SRRC's constituent organizations, reiterated that his group did not recognize what he called Abdiqassim's ''Arta group'' as the government in Somalia. ``We at SRRC could only talk to Salad Hassan's group if they renounce their claim as government and want to meet us as a Somali group,'' he added. He appealed to the Somali people to side with the SRRC against Abdiqassim's transitional government, which he said ``is leading the country toward renewed civil war.'' He reiterated an accusation that Abdiqassim had the support of militant Islamist Somali group al Ittihad and bin Laden's al Qaeda organization. Abdiqassim has denied that charge. Nur also repeated an accusation that Djibouti and Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Qatar supported Abdiqassim ``not in the interests of peace in Somalia, but because they serve their narrow sectarian interests.''
AFP 2 Dec 2001 -- 15 people die in inter-clan fighting in southern Somalia MOGADISHU, Dec 2 (AFP) - At least 15 people died and 20 others were wounded in inter-clan in southern Somalia this weekend, travellers said here Sunday. Eleven people were killed Saturday afternoon and four others died overnight in the fighting at Tobonka Bondo village, 35 kilometers (21 miles) south of the capital Mogadishu, the travellers said. Witnesses said that most of the wounded were treated in nearby Afgoi village, while a few others were sent to Mogadishu hospitals for treatment. The fighting, triggered by a land dispute, forced farmers and nomads from the two clans to flee to relatively peaceful villages nearby. Minister of Science and Technology in the Somali Transitional National Government (TNG) Abdulkadir Mohamed "Madahey" confirmed the battle, but pledged to bring together elders of the warring Abgal and Garre sub-clans, both from larger Hawiye, to work out a ceasefire. "We will first negotiate a ceasefire, and follow up with talks to end the hostilities once and for all," Madahaey said. An elder reached by radio call told AFP that five attempts by elders to restore peace between the two sub-clans had failed, since fighting started last month. "But this time we are hopeful that the two warring sides will accept the outcome of forthcoming talks," said the elder, who asked not to be named.
AFp 9 Dec 2001 - Sudan extends state of emergency for one more year KHARTOUM, Dec 9 (AFP) - The Sudanese parliament passed Sunday President Omar el-Beshir's request to renew Sudan's state of emergency for another year, state radio announced. Beshir argued that the state of emergency, first imposed in 1999, needed to be extended due to the country's war with Christians and animists in the south, armed robbery in western Sudan and the tense state of global affairs since the September 11 attacks on the United States, the radio said. Beshir said he hoped that the state of emergency could be lifted after next year. Beshir first declared a state of emergency in late 1999 when he ousted his erstwhile colleague and rival, former parliamentary speaker and Islamist ideologue Hassan al-Turabi, who is now under house arrest.
AFP 6 Dec 2001 SPLA accuses Khartoum of violating Nuba ceasefire CAIRO, Dec 6 (AFP) - The rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) on Thursday accused the Khartoum government of violating a ceasefire in the central Nuba Mountains. "Sudanese armed forces launched an offensive on December 3 against the Qurongo region in the Nuba Mountains, violating the ceasefire agreed on November 14 during the visit of US envoy John Danforth, an SPLA spokesman told AFP in a telephone call from Asmara. "Fighting is continuing between the SPLA and the government," said Yasser Arman, without giving any casualty toll. "The Khartoum government is throwing down a challenge to the international community and the American special envoy by mounting this offensive," the spokesman said. Danforth discussed the ceasefire and other confidence-building ideas when he visited Sudan in November on his first peace mission since being appointed pointman for Khartoum by US President George W. Bush in September. The SPLA controls several regions of the Nuba Mountains where the United Nations has just airdropped 2,000 tons of food aid with approval from the warring parties. A four-week truce was arranged to allow for the delivery of US humanitarian aid to rebel-held areas. Danforth witnessed the start of the airdrop by the World Food Programme during his Sudan visit. The SPLA also accused the government of breaking the truce on November 24, although Khartoum had said at the time it was willing to extend the ceasefire, an offer it later withdrew. Earlier last month, the United States criticised the Sudanese government for bombing targets in the south and disrupting UN food distribution operations, and called on Khartoum to halt its raids.
IRIN 24 Dec 2001 Belgian Police Arrest Genocide Suspects Police in Brussels, Belgium, arrested on Friday a former investigator with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Joseph Nzabirinda, who is charged with rape, genocide or complicity in genocide, and crimes against humanity. This brings to 12 those arrested worldwide in 2001 at the tribunal's request - the highest number of arrests since 1997, it said. Nzabirinda was the organiser of youth movements in Ngoma Commune, Butare Prefecture and is alleged to have committed his crimes - together with Joseph Kanyabashi - in the Sahera sector of Ngoma Commune, where thousands of Tutsis were killed. Kanyabashi, the former burgomaster (mayor) of Ngoma, is due to be brought before the tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania. Nzabirinda, nicknamed "Biroto", was born in 1957 in the Sahera sector. He was formerly an investigator for the tribunal working for the defence team of Sylvain Nsabimana, the former prefect of Butare, who is also accused of genocide. Nzabirinda's contract was rescinded earlier in December after registry officials established that he had presented false identity documents to the tribunal. Rwanda has alleged that a number of genocide suspects are working or have worked for the tribunal. However, the tribunal says it has not knowingly employed such people. Since its establishment in 1995, the tribunal has brought about the arrests of 56 individuals: 13 of them in Kenya, nine in Cameroon, six in Belgium, five in Tanzania and three in Zambia. Two of the arrests were made in each of Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, France, Mali, Switzerland and Togo, and one in each of Burkina Faso, Denmark, Namibia, The Netherlands, Senegal, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. Of these 56, six, including former Rwandan prime minister Jean Kambanda, had already begun serving their prison sentences, the tribunal reported. One has been acquitted and is awaiting an appeal by the prosecutor; four, including Nzabirinda, have yet to be transferred to Arusha, while 45 are being held at the tribunal's detention facility in Arusha.
Internews (Arusha) 11 Dec 2001 By Sheenah Kaliisa, Arusha. A witness, who was allegedly raped by two men during the genocide in Rwanda, today told judges of the International Criminal tribunal for Rwanda [ICTR] that genocide suspect Juvenal Kajelijeli ordered militiamen to kill ethnic Tutsi in Mukingo commune, Ruhengeri Province, during the 1994 genocide. "I was raped by two men who left me for dead. The other refugees I was with were all shot and killed. They thought I was dead," the prosecution witness -- identified only as "ACM" for her protection - testified. She said the men who raped her and the other attackers were 'Interahamwe' militiamen. The Interahamwe was the youth wing of the then ruling Movement of the Republic for National Development (MRND). Kajelijeli is a former mayor of Mukingo commune. He has denied 11 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity, which he allegedly committed between April and June 1994 in Rwanda. The Rwanda genocide claimed more than 800,000 lives. ACM told the court that Kajelijeli drove one of two pick-up trucks, full of Interahamwe militiamen, into a Tutsi home where many people, she included, had sought refugee. She said Kajelijeli left after telling them to wait for his orders. According to ACM, Kajelijeli returned minutes later and ordered the Interahamwe to kill the refugees. "He told them [the Interahamwe]: 'Start the job, all the others have started', the witness said, adding that the militiamen then started lobbying grenades into the compound, killing and wounding many. Those who attempted to flee were shot, the witness stated. After the attack, ACM alleges, Kajelijeli ordered the militiamen to take the remaining refugees to Mukingo Parish where most women were raped. "They insulted us as they lined us up at the parish. They shouted to women: 'We are going to sleep with you and also put bottles and sharp sticks into your vaginas'," ACM told the court. Led by prosecution attorney Ifeoma Ojemeni of Nigeria, ACM estimated that 138 people were killed during the parish attack. Lennox Hinds of the United States, lead counsel for Kajelijeli, began his cross-examination of ACM in the afternoon. The trial continues tomorrow before Trial Chamber II of the ICTR, comprising Judges William Sekule of Tanzania (presiding), Winston Churchill Maqutu of Lesotho and Arlette Ramarason of Madagascar.
The Monitor (Kampala) 3 Dec 2001 UN Judges Laugh At Rape Victim Judges on a UN war crimes tribunal fell about laughing while a woman victim described to the court how she had been raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, victims' rights groups complained Saturday. The rights groups are demanding sanctions against judges William Sekule, Winston Churchill Maqutu and Arlette Romaroson, members of the bench of the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and against defence lawyer Duncan Mwanyumba. The three judges "openly made fun of the witness although they were perfectly aware that she was the sole suvivor of women raped by the accused," a statement said. The statement by two rights groups, Ibuka and AVEGA (Association of the Widows of Genocide) was commenting on proceedings on Friday at the ICTR trial of Arsene Ntahobari in the Tanzanian town of Arusha. The online magazine Diplomatie judiciaire, which covers ICTR proceedings, said the judges "shook with laughter," during cross-examination of the witness by defence lawyer Mwanyumba on the circumstances of the alleged rape. The magazine said the tribunal had "descended into dishonour" during the two weeks in which the young witness had been on the stand. The groups have addressed an open letter to the principal ICTR judge "requesting that sanctions be imposed and that the witness receive an apology for the treatment she received." Set up in 1994, the ICTR tries persons charged with involvement in the Rwanda genocide. It has so far handed down eight sentences and one acquittal, and has been criticised for lack of results despite the considerable resources at its disposal. The tribunal employs 800 staff and its 2001 budget was 90 million dollars. In a orchestrated campaign of butchery, Hutu militants and soldiers slaughtered an estimated up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus over a three-month period in 1994.
Irish Times 10 Dec 2001 Mugabe makes Zimbabwe an international pariah - Robert Mugabe, facing a presidential election after 18 months of state-sponsored violence, now sees himself as the victim of an international conspiracy, writes Iden Wetherell Peering through her looking-glass over a century and a quarter after her fictional debut, Lewis Carroll's Alice would have no difficulty recognising the upside-down world that Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has created to sustain his campaign for political survival. The evening television news bulletin carries a CNN-style banner headed "Fighting Terrorism". The terrorism referred to is not the violence spawned by Mugabe's armed supporters on farms across the country or their attacks on civil society workers, teachers, and independent newspaper vendors, but the activities of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), allegedly backed by Britain. Following 18 months of relentless state-sponsored lawlessness which has turned Zimbabwe into an international pariah, Mugabe's spin doctors have embarked on a strategy which involves turning reality on its head. A presidential poll is due before April and Mugabe (77) is treating it as a battle for the very soul of the nation. The MDC, which has eschewed violence despite every provocation and scrupulously adhered to a legal system that the President has assiduously subverted, now finds itself branded a terrorist movement responsible for the anarchy sweeping the country. Behind this campaign of instability, it is claimed, looms the old imperial bogeyman, Britain. Not only is Tony Blair's government held responsible for destabilising Zimbabwe by backing the MDC, it is accused of mobilising the United States Congress, the European Union, the Commonwealth and Southern African heads of state to thwart Mugabe's programme of land redistribution. Following the passage through the United States Congress of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Bill last week, Information Minister Jonathan Moyo described the MDC as "a movement for anti-people sanctions operating under the guise of democracy and the rule of law as defined and dictated by racist Americans and Britons". Moyo's mouthpiece, the government-owned Herald daily named MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai and his lieutenants as having "set the stage for the massacre of their own people". These "Uncle Toms shall be judged by history for the evil they have unleashed upon the people of Zimbabwe", the paper menacingly warned. Taking up the official line, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said his force would not tolerate those who were "working in collusion with, and as admirers of, imperialist forces bent on destabilising our country". Police have arrested over 25 MDC supporters in recent weeks, including two MPs, for involvement in "terrorism" despite a conspicuous lack of evidence. Some are accused of abducting and killing a prominent veteran of Zimbabwe's liberation war, Cain Nkala. But his threat to spill the beans on his involvement in the disappearance of an MDC campaign manager ahead of last June's general election could provide a more likely explanation for his death. Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw must be congratulating himself on a global reach that Lord Palmerston would have envied. But the truth is rather less awesome. Mugabe is the sole author of the predicament he now finds himself in. The US Congress, EU, Commonwealth and Southern African Development Community, which includes neighbouring South Africa, have all, for different reasons, been reluctant to implement measures against the rogue regime in Harare. But Mugabe has ensured they all now think alike. Instead of restoring the rule of law his followers have hounded the Chief Justice and other independent-minded judges into retirement and replaced them with more pliant individuals, two of whom have reportedly been recipients of land under the current partisan redistribution programme. The police have been suborned into taking action only against opposition supporters while ignoring the ruling Zanu-PF party's record of terror and mayhem. And electoral laws have been changed to limit potential voters in the 18-30 age group, including the burgeoning diaspora, who are most likely to support the MDC. Last week the government published details of a new media law that will make it an offence to cause "alarm and despondency" or to excite disaffection against the President - including by ridiculing him. It will also prevent publication of details about the fortunes amassed by the ruling nomenklatura since independence in 1980 and prohibit non-Zimbabwean foreign correspondents from working in the country. None of this suggests a ruler safely ensconced in the affections of his people. Rather it reveals that after 21 years of declining gross domestic product, falling living standards and institutional corruption Zimbabweans have had enough of Mugabe's damaging demagoguery. Land seizures are expected to result in a 40 per cent decline in crop production next year. Already parts of the country need emergency food supplies to head off starvation. South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki is the latest regional leader to condemn Mugabe's failed policies, a criticism that has led to a stream of anti-South African vitriol in the official media. When voters last year rejected Mugabe's constitutional proposals which would have legitimised his absolutist regime, and then came close to booting Zanu-PF out in the parliamentary election, the President decided he would punish the opposition and their perceived white backers in precisely the way he punished Matabeleland in the 1980s when he unleashed the North Korean-trained Fifth Brigade on the dissident province. That episode left at least 10,000 dead. Whether his latest campaign of terror will have the same impact remains to be seen. But in setting his war-veteran militias on law-abiding people and persecuting those - probably a majority - who wish to vote against him next year he is only sealing his own fate. Twenty-one years ago Mugabe was hailed in Africa and abroad as a revolutionary hero who had wisely made peace with his former oppressors. Only 10 years ago he was seen as the man who provided education and healthcare to the rural poor. Today he is, in Archbishop Desmond Tutu's words, a caricature of the delinquent African ruler who has lost his way. Comforting himself with the thought that he is the victim of an international conspiracy and locked in the ideological mindset of an era long since past, Mugabe is grimly holding on to power because he cannot imagine a future without it. (Iden Wetherell is editor of the Zimbabwe Independent.)
The Observer UK 9 Dec 2001 Argentina hits rock bottom As the country hurtles into bankruptcy, its people are suffering stress, panic attacks and a wave of suicides Sophie Arie, Buenos Aires Sunday December 9, 2001 Andrea Pena is 33 but she wears a brace. So does her partner. Otherwise their teeth would not fit the moulded gadgets Argentine dentists provide to stop the grinding that was keeping them awake at night. 'I am lucky this is the only physical symptom I have because of stress,' said Andrea, a graphic designer at a Buenos Aires bank. 'Other people have gastritis, hypertension, panic attacks, whatever. Everyone is living in permanent fear because no one knows what the future will be.' Argentina's economic crisis, almost four years long, reached fever pitch last week as the International Monetary Fund appeared to be pulling the plug on the cash-strapped country, withholding a vital $1.26 billion loan and leaving Argentina hurtling towards the biggest bankruptcy in history. To stop people yanking their savings out of the country, cash withdrawals were rationed to $1,000 a month, leaving many stranded and worried in a culture in which most day-to-day transactions are still made in cash. 'People are taking this as if the country were going to war,' said Dr Humberto Gobbi, of the Association of Argentine Psychiatrists, adding that psychological complaints had tripled in a week. A 26-year-old local authority worker and an antique furniture-maker, 55, committed suicide last week because of crippling debts. Both men said in parting messages that the latest phase of the economic crisis had pushed them over the edge. A total of 356 more people killed themselves in 2000 than in 1999, according to government figures. While most drugs sales have slumped 10 per cent over the past year, pharmaceutical companies say Argentines have bought 13 per cent more anti-depressants and 4 percent more tranquillisers. Corner shops and lampposts carry flyers for group therapy and anti-stress massages while national newspapers are scattered with adverts for bankruptcy litigation and sexual impotence cures. 'Nobody knows if they will have a job tomorrow or when they will be paid. People are almost paralysed by fear and a sense of impotence. There is a sense that the country is in free fall,' said Jacquie Lejbowicz, a psychologist in Buenos Aires. Crises are something of a way of life in this once prosperous country in which no two consecutive governments have survived a full term since the first military coup in 1930. Portenos, the inhabitants of Buenos Aires, are a melancholy, anxious breed, partial to the films of Woody Allen and producing more psychoanalysts per capita than any other country. But the current crisis, which began in mid-1998, has brought the nation to its knees. 'Argentina has chronic political and economic crises every seven or eight years,' said political analyst Rosendo Fraga. 'But this is the worst social crisis we've ever had.' Unemployment has risen from 16 per cent to a record 18.4 per cent during the past three months and, according to independent pollster Equis, every day another 2,000 people are falling beneath the poverty line - living on less than $4 per day. Of the 14 million Argentines now living in poverty, half belonged to the country's large middle class only five years ago. Economy Minister Domingo Cavallo insisted the panic was premature and said in a televised press conference, 'There is no need to worry. I realise people are worried but there is no need to be alarmed.' But, as he headed for Washington in a final attempt to pull on the heartstrings of the IMF, he admitted Argentina would default on its debt this week without the IMF's help. Years of lavish public spending and reckless borrowing have built up the colossal $132bn debt that threatens to sink the country. A $2.2bn interest payment is due on Wednesday. With the brutal military regime of 1976-83, the humiliating defeat in the 1982 Falklands War and the crippling hyperinflation of 1989 still fresh in the collective memory, many say Argentines are so crisis-hardy they will weather the looming storm and recover quickly. But last week, many complained the emergency cash rationing was undemocratic and 'worse than a dictatorship'. Small groups of protesters gathered in the centre of Buenos Aires last Thursday, throwing eggs at the Central Bank and accusing Cavallo of 'economic genocide'. Public discontent has been simmering with protests most days and angry piqueteros blocking roads across this vast country for months. Unions are planning a national strike on Thursday. The rebel leader of the General Confederation of Workers (CGT), Hugo Moyano, who called for 'civil disobedience' during a recent protest, has promised the strike will be peaceful. Most Argentines swallowed the latest pill with nothing more than verbal protest, as they have the last seven rounds of austerity measures over the past year, including 13 per cent cuts in pensions and salaries. 'There is always a feeling that however bad things get now, there could be something worse around the corner,' said Fraga. 'But if you have a default that means the collapse of the financial system, and you are sure to get social violence.' Many say President Fernando de la Rua, whose ratings are at rock bottom and who is criticised for being weak and indecisive, could be a casualty of the looming financial collapse. But Argentines are not disappointed only in their President. In the October legislative elections, a record 40 per cent of voters chose to cast blank or spoiled votes rather than support any of the candidates. Eighteen years of democracy have been marred by rampant corruption and political profiteering that have left many with the sense their politicians are a bunch of robbers who have sold the country. 'We were better off under the military,' said Pedro Cuelho, 53, a taxi driver, who says his earnings have dropped 40 per cent in the past week. 'At least back then there was some kind of order.'
AP 6 Dec 2001 MONTREAL (AP) - Several hundred people paused for 14 seconds of silence to remember the 14 women slain at the Ecole polytechnic on Dec. 6, 1989. Fourteen women wearing white scarves also placed white roses on each of the steel and granite memorials bearing the names of the victims, killed by Marc Lepine because of their gender. The women sang hymns during the ceremony, which included dozens of schoolchildren, at the park dedicated to Lepine's victims. Michelle Proulx, whose daughter Anne-Marie Lemay was one of the victims, said she remembers her child with smiles, not tears. ``I don't feel sad,'' said Proulx, 60, after the ceremony. ``At five o'clock, 12 years ago, she was killed, but I remember that my daughter was so alive, and this is the person I remember.'' Canadians across the country, in parks, ceremonies and legislatures, paused to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the massacre. Twelve years ago, Lepine strode into the Montreal engineering school armed with an assault rifle, knives and bandoliers of ammunition. When the carnage was over, 14 young women lay dead, including one who was fatally stabbed after initially being shot. Thirteen other people - mostly women but some men - were wounded. Lepine took his own life. During his rampage, Lepine ranted that he hated feminists and detested the fact that women were studying to be engineers.
Toronoto Star 7 Dec 2001. A pause to remember victims of violence 12 years after massacre, little has changed By Phinjo Gombu and Vanessa Lu The list of women who had been shot, beaten, decapitated, set on fire, hanged and knifed to death in Ontario last year seemed to go on forever last night. The names were read out as more than 300 women and men gathered on Philosopher's Walk at the University of Toronto to mourn the 14 women slain at Montreal's L'École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989. Many of the women named were victims of men who couldn't come to terms with the fact that women have choices in relationships. One by one, people stepped up to the podium to add 27 more names to more than 400 yellow cardboard tombstones marking women who have died in Ontario in the past 12 years. "It's upsetting, it's frustrating to see other people who haven't had the options or the choices I've made," said Megan Easto, 27, as she stood among a silent crowd carrying roses and lit candles. "I look at all the gravestones that are on the hill and I think about the fact that they all represent people and how all these people had families and how they were loved by other people," said 26-year-old Gillian Novick. Organized by four women who call themselves Women Won't Forget, last night's Dec. 6 memorial service in Toronto was one of many ceremonies across Canada where thousands of women and men paused to remember violence against women. "Every year, it's our way of saying, please be aware that the violence continues," said Janet Lewis, one of the organizers who has faithfully documented cases of women killed in the province. Twelve years ago, Marc Lepine took an automatic rifle to L'École Polytechnique and killed 14 women, ranting that he detested feminists and the fact that women could become engineers. He then killed himself. Last night, a woman named Hanifa from the Afghan Women's Solidarity Organization of Ontario reminded the crowd that women in Afghanistan are still fighting for the right to participate in activities such as theatre, music and sports. Earlier in the day, doctors, nurses and other health-care workers at the Women's College hospital site paused to remember the Montreal massacre.--- `... Please be aware that the violence continues.' Janet Lewis, organizer - "If we all dedicated ourselves to stopping violence, it could actually be stopped," Dr. Bev Richardson told about 100 people gathered in the hospital's main auditorium. Participants lit candles and quietly remembered as names of the Montreal victims were read out and a red rose was placed in a vase in their memory. Meanwhile, in Montreal, several hundred people paused for 14 seconds of silence as 14 women wearing white scarves placed white roses on each of the granite and stone memorials bearing the victims' names. Michelle Proulx, whose daughter Anne-Marie Lemay was one of the victims, said she remembers her child with smiles, not tears. "I don't feel sad," said Proulx, 60, after the ceremony. "At 5 o'clock, 12 years ago, she was killed, but I remember that my daughter was so alive, and this is the person I remember." In Edmonton, a young female bell ringer rang her hand bell 15 times — 14 times for all the women and once for women who continue to face violence. The flag at the Nova Scotia legislature flew at half-staff and the Quebec legislature held a moment of silence. Quebec Liberal member Jocelyne Caron read a solemn poem in the legislature about a young woman killed by her boyfriend. "I received flowers today," read Caron. "Today is a very special day. Today is my funeral. Last night he killed me." In Ottawa, MPs held a minute of silence before question period to recognize the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. In Halifax, Jane Purves, Nova Scotia minister responsible for the status of women, called for toughening penalties against abusers and changing community norms.
AFP 10 Dec 2001 Four kidnap victims killed by Colombian guerrillas BOGOTA, Dec 10 (AFP) - Four kidnap victims held by Colombia's largest guerrilla group were killed Monday by their captors, according to authorities. The four were part of a larger group of 23 people kidnapped by the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on Sunday from a luxury hotel in the town of Jardin, 430 kilometers (260 miles) northwest of Bogota. The FARC killed one hotel employee who refused to go with them then tried to stop the guerrillas from taking his truck as a getaway vehicle, said a military spokesman. The guerrillas took their victims toward the mountains in the province of Antioquia. FARC later released 15 of the hostages but kept six others, the spokesman told AFP. However, Roberto Sierra, mayor of Jardin, told local news media that the FARC was still holding 11 people, bringing the total kidnapped to 25. The fact that the victims were staying in a luxury hotel points to the likelihood that the victims were chosen for their ability to pay a high ransom, said Sierra. Leftist rebels and right-wing paramilitary groups operating in Colombia often resort to kidnapping wealthy individuals to finance their operations. FARC is the oldest guerrilla movement in Latin America and with 16,500 armed combatants, it is the largest in Colombia.
WP 27 Dec 2001 A Transfer Of Power In Colombia Paramilitary's Rise Unintended Outcome Of U.S. Assistance By Scott Wilson Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, December 27, 2001; Page A01 PARAISO, Colombia -- It is hard to imagine a place more misnamed than this village in northern Colombia's San Lucas Range. Paradise has had a difficult year. Months ago, President Andres Pastrana sent the army into Paraiso and the surrounding region to create a safe haven for peace talks with Colombia's second-largest guerrilla force. It was a politically risky move. Pastrana's orders to the army were unusual: Leave the guerrillas mostly alone, but focus on driving the right-wing paramilitary forces out of southern Bolivar province, where they had massed to block the peace plan. The army did not carry out Pastrana's orders. Instead, it appeared to work in tandem with the paramilitary forces to drive the guerrillas deep into the jungle-covered mountains. Three times since then, paramilitary forces have burned Paraiso to the ground. On Dec. 9, after crossing the clear stream west of town and ransacking stores and destroying the health clinic, they killed four men with machetes and left the warning that anyone caught trying to rebuild the ruined village would die the same way. The destruction of Paraiso is another sign of the rising power this year of rightist paramilitary forces in Colombia, a development that is altering the strategic balance in the country after four decades of civil war. Although the paramilitary force is listed by the State Department as a terrorist organization, Western diplomats following the conflict describe its growing reach as an unintended byproduct of a U.S. program to strengthen Colombia's armed forces, which frequently work alongside the paramilitary groups. The paramilitary forces, once a collection of armed groups sponsored by wealthy landowners, have become a national movement and the most potent new dimension in Colombia's civil war. During Operation Bolivar, diplomats said they petitioned U.S. officials in Bogota to threaten to withhold U.S. aid from the Colombian armed forces unless Pastrana's orders were carried out. But that message was clouded by differences of opinion in Congress and the Bush administration over the value of creating a safe haven for a Marxist-led guerrilla group and was never delivered, according to Western diplomats here working to end the war. "We all should do more to use both moral and material pressure to curb paramilitary violence, which is the most rapidly growing cause of civilian suffering," said Jan Egeland, the U.N. secretary general's special envoy for peace in Colombia who is leaving at the end of the year. "What happened in Bolivar shows that the killers can go on and on and on killing innocent civilians and not face any consequences." The nature of U.S. involvement in Colombia's war has been an unresolved question since Congress approved a $1.3 billion, mostly military aid package last year. The helicopters, military training and herbicide spraying included in the package were to be narrowly focused on Colombia's drug trade, keeping the U.S. outside the fight against the rebels. But because the drug trade is so intertwined with the civil war, the United States has assumed a central role not only in counter-narcotics strategy but also in the far more complicated issues of war and peace. So far this year, aerial herbicide spraying has killed more than 180,000 acres of coca, the key ingredient in the production of cocaine. A U.S. official here said "that is tons and tons of cocaine that has been kept off our streets." But a development program designed to coax small farmers to grow legal crops as an alternative to coca has been slow in arriving, so much of the coca has been replanted in the same locations. Meanwhile, U.S. officials have hailed the success of three U.S.-trained anti-drug battalions in the Colombian army that have destroyed hundreds of processing labs. By summer, the number of spray planes in use will rise from 10 to 25, and more than a dozen U.S.-donated Black Hawk helicopters will be deployed, prompting the U.S. official to predict that "we will then be killing coca faster than they are able to replant." The money and diplomatic support have been felt most squarely by the 130,000-member military, which has seen its prestige and hardware upgraded by the stepped-up U.S. involvement. However, the military's rising fortunes and the increased pressure on the country's oldest guerrilla movements -- major targets of the anti-narcotics campaign -- have proven to be a boon for the paramilitary groups. The shifting balance has even allowed the paramilitary forces to take over some coca areas once dominated by the guerrillas. Drug profits are helping them pay troop salaries, buy arms and recruit members from the growing pool of unemployed Colombians. Rising Popular Support During the past year, the main paramilitary organization, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, has deepened its territorial gains with a right-of-center political agenda. According to its leaders, AUC ranks have grown from 8,000 to 14,000 combatants. Once backed mostly by wealthy business and ranching interests and former military leaders, it now enjoys increasing support among rich and poor Colombians, public opinion polls show. The AUC is also the country's leading author of civilian massacres, according to Colombia's Defense Ministry. More than 1,000 civilians have been killed this year by the AUC, compared with 18 in 1995, according to the Defense Ministry, and its strategy of depriving guerrillas of supplies and intelligence has helped cause the displacement of 2 million people. The AUC's principal guerrilla adversary is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which coalesced in 1964 from a group of rural protection squads, and the National Liberation Army, or ELN, which is more ideologically Marxist than the FARC but is weaker militarily. The FARC, which has an estimated 18,000 members, derives significant financial support from taxing the drug trade in areas it controls. Both groups, like the AUC, are on the State Department list of terrorist organizations. While U.S. officials describe their aid package as "a plan to get dope off of our streets," Pastrana continues to view Plan Colombia -- a $7.5 billion initiative that primarily invests in social development projects -- principally as a peace plan designed to deprive the FARC of its drug-fueled war financing. Since taking office promising to end the war, Pastrana has chosen a controversial approach to peace negotiations, one that places tracts of land under guerrilla control to create venues for those talks. His decision in late 1998 to give the FARC a Switzerland-size patch of southern jungle as a step toward peace negotiations has, so far, yielded little more than a prisoner exchange agreement and mounting friction between his government and Washington as public support for the process fades. Drug Trade and War The overlapping relationship between the civil war and the campaign against drugs is starkly evident in the southern province of Putumayo. In villages such as El Tigre, paramilitary forces have taken control of territory vacated by retreating guerrillas pressured by the anti-drug offensive. One recent evening in El Tigre, 50 paramilitary recruits were working, in plain sight, through a month-long military training course. At the beginning of the year here in western Putumayo, where the U.S.-trained anti-drug brigade has been most active, the FARC controlled these coca-filled valleys. Today Commander Enrique, the AUC leader in western Putumayo, sleeps in the same complex of wood-plank houses in which the FARC village militia lived. Enrique said that whereas the FARC charged a $200 tax per kilo of coca base, his men take $50. The FARC has hit herbicide spray planes with 180 rounds of ammunition this year and has shot down one helicopter; the AUC does not fire on aircraft. Throughout the year, the AUC has increasingly relied on drug proceeds to fund its expansion, according to Colombia's national police and U.S. officials. But the leader of the AUC, Carlos Castaño, has ordered his troops to get out of the drug business in hopes of gaining U.S. support for political recognition from the Pastrana government. In tailoring the AUC's political objectives with those of the United States and the Colombian army, Castaño has made it more difficult for U.S. officials to convince senior Colombian military leaders that paramilitary forces are their enemies. In southern Bolivar province, the army and paramilitary forces have openly colluded this year in ways that have confounded Pastrana's peace efforts, according to diplomatic sources. During much of February and March, a military campaign swept along a stretch of coca fields and farmland in southern Bolivar to create a promised demilitarized zone for negotiations with the ELN, the second-largest leftist insurgency. More than 3,000 soldiers arrived between the San Lucas mountain range and the Magdalena River, and U.S.-backed herbicide spraying began on 30,000 acres of coca in the hills 200 miles north of Bogota. In the view of many diplomats working on the peace process, this was probably Pastrana's last chance to show that his strategy could succeed. He told the army's Fifth Brigade, the unit responsible for the region, to drive out paramilitary forces who were gathering to block creation of a zone they believed would provide the ELN with a strategic, government-sanctioned foothold and arriving FARC troops a new area of protected influence. The army began by attacking San Blas, an AUC base. Weapons and drug-processing equipment were seized, but no senior paramilitary commanders were arrested and the group suffered no casualties. "It was clear . . . that the bad guys knew the army was coming," a Western diplomat in Bogota said. Then the operation turned into a rout of the guerrillas as the army and paramilitary forces united and chased the surprised rebels deep into the hills. By the time Pastrana ordered the army out less than two months later, paramilitary forces had taken vast stretches of land and occupied towns once used by the guerrillas as supply stops. The demilitarized zone was dead, and a series of villages were under siege, abandoned or in ruins. As Operation Bolivar unfolded, the new Republican administration in Washington backed by Republican leaders in Congress began to weigh in on Pastrana's peace efforts, officials said. The State Department position on the peace talks had long been that it was a domestic matter best left to Pastrana. Privately, however, that position was changing. During a visit to Washington, Pastrana was told by Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the House International Relations Committee, that he opposed giving the guerrillas a safe haven for peace talks, according to people at the meeting. A short time later, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, Anne Patterson, who had reiterated U.S. support for Pastrana's approach in an interview with the newspaper El Espectador, was told by Roger Noriega, then senior professional staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that neither he nor his boss, Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), then committee chairman, favored a second guerrilla safe haven. Noriega told her not to declare such support again, according to people at the meeting. Noriega is now the U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States. "U.S. policy has always been that there should be no negotiations with terrorists, and when you see it happening you wonder why something is going against U.S. policy," said a Republican congressional staff member. "When Patterson jumped in to endorse the idea, that's when the rubber hit the road up here." Controlling the Zone Today, as the army remains on the northern and southern edges of Bolivar, the paramilitary forces run the villages between the mountains and the river while a mixed guerrilla force patrols the hill towns. Travel along the area's mostly deserted roads turns up armed members of both the paramilitary and two major guerrilla groups, but no presence of the armed forces. "When the army came in, we left," said Commander Carlos, a 12-year AUC veteran who joined after serving in the military. "So they didn't hit us much -- more the guerrillas. And now we're doing the army's job here." Gen. Martin Orlando Carreño, who for two years has commanded the army's Fifth Brigade with high-profile dash, denied turning a blind eye to paramilitary forces in the region and said "no brigade has done more to attack them." U.S. officials share his assessment that the zone "fizzled" not because of collusion with paramilitary forces but because "the government couldn't control the area." But Carreño acknowledged that he was angry when Pastrana ordered his men out of the zone, and he said another few weeks of combat would have driven all groups from the area. Since then, Carreño said, he has been working with U.S. officials to move up the delivery of helicopters and intelligence support, currently scheduled for 2003, to his troubled region. "It ended without our controlling the zone, without either group controlling it, and without peace," said Carreño, who has been promoted to commander of the Second Division. In recent months, several U.S. delegations have visited Colombia to meet with senior military officials about ties to the paramilitary groups. Charges of human rights abuses leveled against the Colombian army have declined sharply in recent years, but U.S. officials and foreign diplomats are concerned that the paramilitary forces are becoming an auxiliary force of the regular army. "I got a variety of opinions about cooperation between the military and the AUC, but it is clear to me that certainly at the higher ranks there is an understanding that human rights abuses and a successful counter-guerrilla strategy do not go together," said Lorne W. Craner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, who met here last week with senior military officials about new human rights restrictions on aid to Colombia pending before Congress. "I think the U.S. is doing the right things to try to make things better here." In Paradise, though, all seems lost. One recent morning, three visiting ELN guerrillas, the butcher, the canteen owner and a few shopkeepers chatted amid the ruins. The rest of the 500 former residents now live on farms in the hills to the east. Several witnesses said Commander Carlos led the most recent paramilitary attack on the town, coordinating the killing of four men that included a 19-year-old farmer named Eberto Pardo. But all agree there is no one nearby to call for help. "There is no way to stay," said Cesar Pardo, Eberto's cousin. "They will be back to kill the rest of us."
AP 5 Dec 2001 Civilian Slays Worsen in Colombia By JARED KOTLER, BOGOTA, Colombia - The bus was traveling along an arid, remote stretch of Colombian highway when gunmen in ski masks parked a car in its way and forced the driver to pull over. Then the travelers on board were forced off the bus and made to lie down in a row along the pavement. The gunmen then shot 15 people twice in the back of the head. Engineers. School teachers. The bus driver. When the corpses were found, many had their hands still clasped behind their heads. Among the dead was John Fredy Poveda, a 17-year-old engineering student who was heading to his mother's home in the mountains for the Christmas holidays. He was buried Monday. ``He was an exemplary child,'' said his aunt, Mireya Bayona. ``He was an innocent person.'' The cold-blooded roadside slayings in central Boyaca state on Saturday were brutal by even the cruel standards of Colombia's 37-year war. Right-wing paramilitaries and their leftist rebel foes frequently kill civilians suspected of collaborating with the other side. But this time, the victims were 12 men and three women with no apparent connection at all to the war. The mass slaying, which was apparently committed by the right-wing United Self Defense Forces of Colombia - or AUC - belies the group's claim that it would no longer commit massacres. A survivor, a 65-year-old woman, told investigators that the attackers identified themselves as AUC. Officials also say it signals a push by the AUC into the mineral-rich region that has been a bastion of left-wing guerrillas. As funerals took place around the Boyaca town of Sogamosa on Monday, home to most of the people killed in the attack, a parade of buses rolled through the town's streets, honking their horns in unison to protest the killings. The mayor appealed for an end to the bloodshed. ``This is a peaceful town full of honest and hardworking people. We've never had massacres like this before,'' Edgar Espindola said by phone. ``This fratricidal war has got to stop.'' The bus intercepted on Saturday was heading from Sogamosa to Labranzagrande, a reputed guerrilla stronghold in Colombia's eastern Andes. Two years ago, the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, attacked the town and drove out its police force. Rebels recently killed four government soldiers in a clash in the area. An AUC unit based in the oil-rich plains of neighboring Casanare state, which is to the east, has been trying to penetrate the area and reportedly distributed pamphlets around Sogamosa last month, threatening to attack guerrilla sympathizers. ``Apparently, nobody took the threats seriously,'' said Luis Bernardo Diaz of the government human rights office in the state capital, Tunja. Diaz said there had been some selective killings in the area in recent months, but no clear indication there would be a massacre. ``It was terrible to see the savage way these people were killed,'' said Col. Jaime Otero, the police chief of Boyaca. When he arrived at the site, the bodies were laying beside the bus, which stood diagonally across the road, its tires shot out. According to Otero, police were alerted to the killings by a 65-year-old woman, one of three surviving passengers. Two children, one of them the slain driver's 7-year-old son, were also spared. Otero said the woman, whose name was not released, has told investigators that six men identifying themselves as Casanare-based AUC members parked a car across the highway, forcing the bus to stop. They did not accuse their victims of having ties to the rebels, but killed them anyway to send a message to others, according to her account. ``They said that this was a lesson, that people should stay away from the guerrillas,'' Otero said. The AUC, which human rights groups say is supported by rogue members of Colombia's U.S.-backed military, has not confirmed or denied its responsibility Poveda was one of three students from Boyaca universities killed in the attack, including a 25-year-old woman who had just begun medical school. He was remembered as a straight-A student. When he boarded the bus, Poveda was planning to spend Christmas and New Year's with his mother in Labranzagrande, then go on to visit his father in Casanare.
AFP 3 Dec 2001 At least 20 killed in Colombia fighting BOGOTA, Dec 3 (AFP) - At least 20 people have died since the weekend in fighting in Colombia, where a three-way civil war rages between government forces, leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries, authorities said Monday. Ten of those were killed and two wounded in fighting between guerrillas of the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and right-wing paramilitaries in the northwestern part of the country, authorities said. A 14-year-old child was killed in an attack by the FARC on the town of San Lorenzo, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of here, authorities said. Another group of FARC rebels were repulsed in an attack on the maximum-security prison at Acacias, 280 kilometers (176 miles) east of here, with the aid of air strikes by air force aircraft, police General Victor Paez said. A guard was killed in the fighting, he said. In northeastern Colombia, military sources said four guerrillas of the leftist National Liberation Army (ELN) died in combat with government troops. Meanwhile, a judge who had prosecuted suspected paramilitaries was assassinated in the city of Santa Marta, on the Caribbean coast, police said. Judge Javier Cote was shot to death by two men as he left his house, police said. Three farmers were killed in an attack by unknown assailants south of Bogota in Cauca province.
AP 2 Dec 2001 Colombia Right-Wing Chief Confesses BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — The feared leader of a rightist paramilitary army in Colombia confessed that he was responsible for the 1990 assassination of a charismatic presidential candidate, according to a book to be released this week. Carlos Castano — political chief of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC — said in the book that the killing of leftist guerrilla commander turned presidential candidate Carlos Pizarro was a ``true patriotic act.'' ``If history repeated itself and the circumstances were the same, I would act the same way,'' said Castano, in a book excerpt published Sunday in the Colombian newsmagazine Semana. The book — ``My Confession'' by Black Sheep Editorial — is the product of weeks of interviews journalist Mauricio Aranguren had with Castano, the newsmagazine reported. Castano said he trained the assassin who on April 26, 1990, boarded a crowded jetliner and shot and killed the 38-year-old candidate some ten minutes after the plane departed Bogota, the capital. The gunman was killed when one of Pizarro's bodyguards returned fire. Pizarro, the son of a navy admiral, became commander of the 900-strong M-19 guerrilla group in 1986. Under his command, the group disarmed four-years later and joined the political process. Castano, a fugitive who could not be reached for comment, said Pizarro was collaborating with drug lord Pablo Escobar and would have been a danger to Colombia if elected president. Escobar, leader of the violent Medellin cocaine cartel, was killed by authorities in 1993 following a massive manhunt. Castano, who has eluded arrest for years, also admitted to ordering the killings of two popular lawmakers. The attorney general's office last year accused Castano of killing Pizarro, but he was not charged with the murder. The AUC is waging a brutal war against leftist guerrillas and those suspected of working with them. The 37-year civil war kills an estimated 3,500 people every year.
AFP 1 Dec 2001 -- Twenty-four people dead after violent clashes in Colombia BOGOTA, Twenty-four people were killed Saturday in a rash of violence blamed by military and police officials on the right-wing United Self Defense Forces of Colombia. Four villagers in the rural environs of Codazzi in Cesar department in northeastern Colombia were shot to death at an illegal checkpoint operated by the AUC, police said. Another five people -- among them two businessmen, a civil servant and a mentally-retarded youth -- were shot point blank in the early hours of Saturday morning by still unknown gunmen in a Medellin slum, 430 kilometers (267 miles) northeast of Bogota, police said. Earlier Saturday, 15 bus passengers traveling to Labranzagrande were killed in central Boyaca department, again the victims of the AUC, according to the military. In an unrelated incident, five people were killed and three wounded when a military helicopter crashed in southeastern Colombia near San Juanito, 60 kilometers (37 miles) southeast of Bogota. The helicopter, reported missing Friday, was winging ammunition and supplies to the army troops near the demilitarized zone controlled by the country's largest guerrilla group known as FARC when it crashed, likely due to poor weather and bad visibility. Among the dead was the pilot, a police colonel, as well as a second lieutenant in the military and two soldiers, a military spokesman said.
Inter Press Service IPS 30 Nov 2001 Indians Meet Violence with Peaceful Resistance By Yadira Ferrer, Inter Press Service BOGOTA, Nov 29 (IPS) - Representatives of 80 ethnic groups in Colombia called on the insurgent and paramilitary organisations involved in the armed conflict to cease their attacks on indigenous people, 300 of whom have been murdered or have become the victims of forced disappearance since January. • First Peoples Worldwide • Foundation Netherlands Centre for Indigenous People • Survival International • Minority Rights Group The call was issued by the National Indigenous Congress, which runs through Friday in the town of Cota, 30 kms from Bogota. The gathering has drawn some 2,500 delegates from across the country, many of whom advocate peaceful resistance to the violence. The start of the meeting convened to analyse the decades-old civil war, search for solutions and bolster the participation of native communities in the peace process coincided Monday with the news of the murder of five members of the Emberá Chamí ethnic group in the central department of Caldas. The indigenous groups blamed right-wing paramilitary militias for the massacre, which was committed on Sunday. A week earlier, in Corinto, in the southern department of Cauca, an unidentified armed group killed six other Indians. The bodies of four indigenous people, kidnapped in June by the insurgent Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), were also found in a common grave in Cauca, in a rural zone in the municipality of Silvia. The president of the National Indigenous Organisation of Colombia (ONIC), Armando Valbuena, told IPS that the murders were part of a campaign by the irregular armed forces aimed at exterminating indigenous groups and seizing their land. ''Indians and peasant farmers are the chief victims of the civil war, despite the fact that their life philosophy is one of peaceful coexistence, and in spite of their calls to the armed groups to respect their neutrality and peace-loving nature,'' said Valbuena. The indigenous activist said native groups would defend their neutrality at any cost. ''When the territory of indigenous people is invaded, their dignity is attacked,'' and their very existence is threatened, he said. The Indigenous Congress urged the armed groups and Colombian society at large to consider the possibility of ''building a different kind of country, in a participative state that makes room for diversity and the multicultural nature of our country,'' said Valbuena. The governor of the department of Cauca, Floro Tunubalá, a member of the Paez community, criticised the armed groups ''that are 'brave' enough to kill but not brave enough to assume responsibility for their crimes.'' Tunubalá, the first indigenous person elected governor of one of the departments into which this South American country of 40 million is divided, has been declared a military objective by the paramilitaries. He said it was time for his community to ''politically defend'' its territory. Indigenous people account for 70 percent of the population of Cauca. Residents of the town of Caldono, in Cauca, which has suffered continuous incursions by armed groups, stood up to a FARC attack with music and their own voices on Nov 12. Through a loudspeaker from the church, the ''civic guard'' organised to keep the armed groups from operating in the area called on the townspeople to block the guerrilla attack under the slogan ''we don't want any more war'' - and the FARC pulled out. The incident was another expression of the passive resistance that has begun to be staged in Paez territory. In June, during the funeral of indigenous leader Cristóbal Sucué, who was killed by the FARC, an assembly of nearly 30,000 indigenous people approved the creation of the civic guard. The members of the civic guard, armed with short wooden sticks decorated with coloured ribbons, move around in small groups dedicated to non-violent civil resistance. Passive resistance is growing in strength in the department of Cauca in response to the threat of annihilation and the risk of losing the land for which Indians have been fighting for over 500 years, when ''the Spanish invasion began,'' said indigenous activist Avelina Poncho. The non-violent resistance is also aimed at ''drawing the attention of the state and demanding that it take concrete steps to curb the violent action of the armed groups,'' Gilberto Yafué, with the Cauca Regional Indigenous Committee (CRIC), told IPS. CRIC, the Committee of Indigenous Authorities of Colombia and other human rights groups reported in June that at least 7,000 indigenous people had been displaced from their land by guerrilla groups since January. Lucía Jaramillo, an expert on conflict resolution, said that what had occurred in Cauca demonstrated that local communities were simply fed up with the violence, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives in the past decade. However, she pointed out that the new expressions of peaceful resistance brought the risk of even greater loss of life, if the rebels or paramilitaries decided to respond with more violence. To strengthen their stance of non-violent resistance, indigenous groups in Cauca are planning a nationwide demonstration on Dec 20, for which they have asked for support from the international community.
Reuters 11 Dec 2001 Kin get apology, cash after massacre By Greg Brosnan, GUATEMALA CITY - President Alfonso Portillo paid Guatemala's first ever compensation to survivors of an army massacre, publicly apologizing yesterday for ''shameful acts'' committed by security forces in a war against leftist rebels. In a symbolic ceremony, Portillo handed a check for $1.8 million to the families of 226 men, women, and children killed by soldiers and paramilitaries in the village of Las Dos Erres in 1982 at the height of Guatemala's 36-year civil war. The massacre, in which rights groups say more than 300 people were killed, was one of hundreds during the conflict between leftist guerrillas and a string of right-wing governments, which ended with peace talks in 1996. Portillo called the payout ''the beginning of a new step forward for human rights in Guatemala,'' and said it would pave the way for future payments relating to other massacres. ''Today it's down to me to humbly ask all the victims of Las Dos Erres for forgiveness,'' he said in a somber speech. ''I know that life has no price,'' he said. ''But this is a historical message that the state recognizes its responsibility for these acts that so shame us.'' Thelma Aldama, a 36-year-old woman from Las Dos Erres who fled to Guatemala City after her father was killed in the massacre, said that she would use her share of the cash to buy some land, but that no amount of money would make up for her loss. ''The wounds are too deep,'' she said, on the verge of tears. Portillo's close links to former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who governed the country at the time of the Las Dos Erres massacre and who now presides over Congress, have led critics to question his human rights credentials. But soon after taking power in January 2000, he acknowledged that security forces were to blame for the events of December 1982 in Las Dos Erres, thus becoming the first Guatemalan president to admit the government's responsibility for a massacre. Yesterday's ceremony was marred by rights groups' claims that a former general, recently appointed to the senior Cabinet post of interior minister, may be linked to the 1982 bloodbath. In accusations that have never been proved, critics say former general Eduardo Arevalo Lacs trained soldiers who led the killing. They have asked for his role in the massacre and those of other military men similarly accused to be fully investigated.
Reuters 7 Dec 2001 Guatemala Move Defended By REUTERS GUATEMALA CITY, Dec. 6 (Reuters) — President Alfonso Portillo today defended his decision to put a former general in charge of national security. Rights groups fear the move could lead to greater militarization. Mr. Portillo removed Interior Minister Byron Barrientos last week after he became embroiled in accusations of corruption, replacing him with a former defense minister, Eduardo Arevalo Lacs. Rights groups say naming someone with close ties to the military violates the 1996 accords that ended a 36-year civil war between the government and leftist guerrillas. They also hold Arevalo Lacs partly responsible for the 1982 massacre of as many as 300 Maya Indians, although the allegations have not been proved.
AP 22 Dec 2001 Four years after massacre, Mexico residents still seeking justice December 22, 2001 ACTEAL, Mexico (AP) -- Many villagers have returned since paramilitaries killed 45 rebel sympathizers in the tiny highland town of Acteal, Mexico, four years ago, and some of the accused killers are in prison. But survivors say the memory of the massacre has not faded. "After four years, our pain has not subsided," said Elena Perez Jimenez, who survived the massacre on December 22, 1997, when members of the a Roman Catholic community group called Las Abejas were attacked at a chapel in Acteal, in southern Mexico's volatile Chiapas state. "On the contrary, it has increased," she said. Survivors fled in fear of more violence, but many returned this year, hoping dialogue could resolve lingering local conflicts between supporters and opponents of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, a mostly Indian rebel group in Chiapas. Mexico's former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party has lost both the presidency and the Chiapas governorship since the massacre. But despite the change, villagers still accuse the government of supporting the paramilitaries and see little hope for a resolution to the conflict. After taking office a year ago, Mexican President Vicente Fox focused on making peace with the Zapatistas, who staged a rebellion in 1994, but talks collapsed after Congress watered down an Indian-rights bill the rebels supported. In Acteal, 6-year-old Efrain Gomez is a reminder of the 1997 massacre. His jawbone was shattered by a rifle bullet in the attack, and today he is unable to talk or chew his food properly. "My poor son isn't happy," said his father, Victorio Gomez, whose wife was killed in the attack. "He is sick. He doesn't eat well." A bullet left Zenaida Jimenez Luna, 9, nearly blind and killed her parents. Today, her uncle Mariano Luna cares for her. Some suspects have been convicted, but the Law Abejas group criticized a judge's decision last month to release six convicted paramilitaries. "It's four years after the massacre, and we don't see any justice," said the group's spokesman, Porfirio Arias Hernandez. At the same time, those convicted of carrying out the massacre say innocent people were sent to prison. "There were only nine people who organized and participated in Acteal, and it pains me that my friends who didn't know anything about this problem have been sentenced to 36 years in prison," convicted paramilitary member Roberto Mendez said in an interview in prison. Mendez said he and others arrived in Acteal to confront alleged Zapatistas he accused of killing 18 Institutional Revolutionary Party members. "It wasn't a massacre," he said. "It was a confrontation with hidden Zapatistas." He claimed the victims -- 21 women, 15 children and nine men -- were simply caught in the cross fire.
NYT 6 Dec 2001 Rights Group Says Mexico Ignores Abuses by Military By GINGER THOMPSON MEXICO CITY, Dec. 5 — A leading American human rights organization reported today that the Mexican government had failed to investigate and punish human rights abuses committed by the military, and has called on President Vicente Fox to do more, including ending the practice of allowing military courts to investigate soldiers' abuses against civilians. The group, Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York, examined five recent incidents of military violations in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, including torture, illegal detentions, raids and murders. Known mostly for the sandy beaches of Acapulco, Guerrero is also ravaged by the violence of drug traffickers, land disputes and scrappy insurgencies where heavily armed soldiers have been granted broad policing authority. Abuses of that authority are investigated by military prosecutors and tried under the secrecy of military courts. Civilians, including civilian officials of the government, are regularly denied access to documents about military trials and information about the fate of soldiers who had been accused of committing crimes in the line of duty. In its report, Human Rights Watch argued that the system rarely delivered justice for civilian victims and urged that cases of military abuses be open to civilian scrutiny. "By our judgment, the military justice system has historically been the most effective mechanism for guaranteeing the impunity of those agents involved in massacres and other violations of human rights," said José Miguel Vivanco, the executive director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch. "It is a system that responds to serious allegations of human rights violations by covering them up and protecting those responsible." Among the cases cited was a massacre in a village called El Charco, in which at least 11 people were killed, reportedly when soldiers opened fire on a group of people asleep in a schoolhouse where some 60 people had gathered for a meeting that was led by a guerrilla group, the Popular Revolutionary Army. Survivors later reported that they were rounded up and beaten after the shooting. But military prosecutors said they found no evidence of criminal violations on the part of soldiers. Since the 1940's when military generals gave up control of the Mexican government and promised to stay out of politics, civilian sectors of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party abided by promises to stay out of military affairs, including scrutiny of the military's multibillion-dollar budget and investigations of military conduct. Those quid pro quo agreements are gradually being challenged by an activist civil society and Mexico's first democratically elected president. President Fox, who unseated the P.R.I., which was in power for more than 70 years, came to office promising to improve Mexico's record on human rights and said he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate some of the worst abuses of Mexico's recent history, including the disappearances of hundreds of suspected subversives during the 1970's and army massacres in the states of Guerrero and Chiapas. For the first time, Mexico's secretary of defense, Gen. Clemente Vega García, broke the military's tradition of official silence and appeared before Congress to discuss military operations over the last year. In its report, Human Rights Watch investigators praised President Fox for opening Mexico "to scrutiny by international human rights monitors, something that other governments considered anathema." Over the last week, Human Rights Watch representatives urged the president to turn cases of military human rights abuses over to civilian courts.
NYT December 30, 2001 Alaska Panel Has Suggestions for Improving Race Relations By SAM HOWE VERHOVEK JUNEAU, Alaska — The videotape showed Eskimos in downtown Anchorage flinching and shielding their faces as they were shot at with paintball guns by three young white men in a car, who laughed as they cruised the streets and filmed their search for victims. Out of that incident, which occurred last January and sparked discussion in Alaska about bigotry in a state where about 16 percent of the residents list themselves as Indian or Alaska Native, has come a new report by Gov. Tony Knowles's Commission on Tolerance, which listed nearly 100 recommendations for improving race relations. Several of the 14-member group's proposals were economic, such as raising the state minimum wage or increasing money for programs in rural Native villages. Others were cultural, such as adding a verse to the state song to reflect the influence of Native cultures. The commission's 35-page report, issued Dec. 6, said the state's educational curriculum should include more emphasis on Native people, as Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts are known here. "The commission heard heartbreaking testimony of discrimination and injustice, expressions of frustration at a system in which many feel they are not full participants, and demands for action," the Rev. Chuck Eddy, who was chairman of the commission, said. The report included a Community Action Guide describing "ways each Alaskan can take personal responsibility to work toward a society that celebrates diversity." How state lawmakers will deal with the report's recommendations is unclear. Republicans dominate the state Legislature and some have suggested that Governor Knowles, a Democrat, had exaggerated the extent of racial problems in Alaska by convening the commission. "I don't believe Alaska is a racist state, but I have seen this governor pick at the scab of racism until it's a festering sore," State Senator Pete Kelly, Republican of Fairbanks, said. "He told them to go around the state and find everything that's wrong with the state, sometimes in isolated examples." However isolated the paintball attacks might have been, they clearly struck a chord of outrage among many Alaskans, who saw news accounts of the tape depicting the Eskimos, mainly men but a few women as well, as they were hit by the marble-size paintball pellets. The youths, a 19-year-old and two younger teenagers, appeared to be looking for Eskimos. "Shoot him! Shoot him!" one voice on the tape said. "You need to shoot that guy." Another voice replied: "No. He's Chinese." One man involved in the attacks, Charles D. Wiseman, who is now 20, pleaded guilty or no contest in July to three charges of misdemeanor assault. Mr. Wiseman admitted to filming the attacks, while one teenager drove and the other shot the paintball gun. The teenagers' cases have been handled in juvenile court, where proceedings are closed. An Anchorage judge, who said Mr. Wiseman and the two boys had acted with "horrible glee," sentenced Mr. Wiseman to six months in jail and 300 hours of community service, and fined him $6,000. "I feel horrible about how we behaved," Mr. Wiseman read from a statement in court and then apologized to the victims, several of whom attended the sentencing. "I didn't think about how wrong it was." The sentence, as well as the judge's depiction of the act as a hate crime, was hailed by some Natives, but others said it demonstrated that the state should have much stronger laws to punish bias-related violence. "A hate crime of any kind that involves violence certainly falls in line to be classified as a felony," the Alaskan Federation of Natives said after Mr. Wiseman confessed. "We are disappointed that plea agreements are coming down in an event that is one step short of using real bullets." The commission's report, while prompted in large measure by the paintball attacks, also dealt with economic disparities between rural villages, many of which are largely or entirely Native, and the predominantly white, wealthier cities. The commission said the legislature should halt budget cuts for a program that subsidizes electricity in rural areas and should increase spending for rural schools. Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer, a commission member, said that while the paintball attacks were disturbing, many Alaskans of all races had reacted with horror and said they did not represent how Alaskans feel about the diversity of their state. "I think the time is right for Alaskans to brag about how rich our cultural diversity is and see it as a treasure," Ms. Ulmer said.
7 Dec 2001 Senate Votes Against Intl. Court By ALAN FRAM, Associated Press Writer WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday to block U.S. participation in a new international criminal court that opponents fear could stage politically motivated trials of American troops and government officials. The 78-21 vote added the language, introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms (news - bio - voting record), R-N.C., to this year's defense spending bill. The Helms provision's ultimate fate is unclear. The House version of the defense spending bill contains no such provision, but in May, the House voted 282-137 to include similar language in a separate bill authorizing State Department programs. Before the vote on Helms' proposal, the Senate voted 51-48 to reject a weaker alternative by Sen. Christopher Dodd (news - bio - voting record), D-Conn. That proposal would have required President Bush to tell Congress what changes it could enact ``to advance and protect U.S. interests'' as the court is established. Helms said his amendment, backed by veterans and other military groups, would ``protect these soldiers and their civilian leaders from an unaccountable kangaroo court.'' Opponents such as Dodd retorted that if the United States does not join in establishing the court, ``Our men and women in uniform will be subjected to terrible rules. You've got to be a player.'' The new court, to be established as a permanent body at The Hague , Netherlands, was created by a 1998 treaty that President Clinton signed but the Senate has not ratified. It would try people, not governments, for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Supporters say it could prosecute terrorists such as members of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden 's organization, but it could not prosecute crimes committed before the court existed. As of Nov. 30, 47 nations have ratified the treaty, 13 short of the number needed to empower the court. Bush, who has criticized the treaty, has said he will not send it to the Senate for ratification without changes. Helms' amendment, similar to freestanding legislation he introduced this year, would bar U.S. cooperation with the court, including use of federal funds or the sharing of classified information. It would give the president the power to use ``all means necessary and appropriate'' to free any American detained by the court. It also would limit U.S. involvement in overseas peacekeeping missions unless the United Nations exempts American troops from prosecution by the court. Additionally, it would restrict foreign aid to other countries that fail to sign accords preventing American troops within their borders from being delivered to the court. Countries that have already ratified the court treaty include U.S. NATO allies Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
CICC American Servicemembers' Protection Act Receives Senate Approval Support for Anti-ICC Legislation Flies in Face of International Cooperation Against Terrorism (New York, December 11, 2001) - The United States Senate overwhelmingly supported the addition of Senator Jesse Helms' proposed American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA) as an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Act last Friday, December 7, providing the legal framework to support U.S. opposition to the future International Criminal Court (ICC). Upon entering into force, the ICC will become the first international judicial institution capable of trying individuals for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, and currently has support from all major U.S. allies as well as countries from every region of the world. "We currently have 47 of the 60 ratifications necessary for the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the Court, to enter into force, and several more countries have only to deposit their ratifications at the United Nations," said William Pace, Convenor of the more than 1000-member Coalition for the ICC. "It is now very clear that the treaty will enter into force in 2002." Key provisions of the ASPA include the prohibition of U.S. cooperation with the future ICC and authorization of the President to use "all means necessary and appropriate" to release U.S. or Allied personnel from detention by the Court, which will be headquartered in the Hague, Netherlands. The latter provision has led European media to refer to the ASPA as the "Hague Invasion Act." European leaders have clearly expressed their strong disapproval of previous efforts to pass this legislation and it is expected that they will do so again. "It's ironic that the U.S. Senate today stands poised to undermine a Court that could deal with future terrorist acts, such as those of September 11th," said Heather Hamilton, Coordinator of the Washington Working Group on the ICC. "Moreover, it's shocking that the Senate has authorized the use of force against the very allies who have joined the U.S. in the international campaign against terrorism." There is still an opportunity for the amendment to be removed when the House and Senate meet in conference committee to reconcile the different versions of the Defense Appropriations Act they have passed. If the amendment is not removed, the Senate version of the bill passed Friday would still provide the President with the power to waive all provisions of the ASPA. About the Coalition for the International Criminal Court The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) is a network of over 1,000 civil society organizations that support the creation of a permanent, fair and independent International Criminal Court. Established in 1995, the CICC is the leading source of information regarding the ICC and the regional organizations that support its formation. For more information about the mission of the CICC and its member organizations, please visit http://www.iccnow.org
San Jose Mercury News 8 Dec 2001 SENATE BLOCKS U.S. ROLE IN WORLD CRIMINAL COURT The Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday to block U.S. participation in a new international criminal court that opponents fear could stage politically motivated trials of American troops and government officials. The 78-21 vote added the language, introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., to this year's defense-spending bill. The Helms provision's ultimate fate is unclear. The House version of the defense-spending bill contains no such provision, but in May, the House voted 282-137 to include similar language in a separate bill authorizing State Department programs. Before the vote on Helms' proposal, the Senate voted 51-48 to reject a weaker alternative by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.
AP 7 Dec 2001 Senate Roll Vote on International Ccriminal Court The 78-21 roll call by which the Senate voted Friday to bar U.S. participation in a new international criminal court. On this vote, a "yes" vote was to bar American participation in the court and a "no" vote was to kill the proposal. Voting "yes" were 32 Democrats and 46 Republicans. Voting "no" were 18 Democrats and 3 Republicans. Democrats Yes Baucus, Mont.; Bayh, Ind.; Breaux, La.; Carnahan, Mo.; Carper, Del.; Cleland, Ga.; Clinton, N.Y.; Conrad, N.D.; Corzine, N.J.; Dorgan, N.D.; Durbin, Ill.; Edwards, N.C.; Feinstein, Calif.; Graham, Fla.; Harkin, Iowa; Hollings, S.C.; Johnson, S.D.; Kerry, Mass.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lieberman, Conn.; Lincoln, Ark.; Mikulski, Md.; Miller, Ga.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Reid, Nev.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Schumer, N.Y.; Stabenow, Mich.; Torricelli, N.J.; Wyden, Ore. Democrats No Akaka, Hawaii; Biden, Del.; Bingaman, N.M.; Boxer, Calif.; Byrd, W.Va.; Cantwell, Wash.; Daschle, S.D.; Dayton, Minn.; Dodd, Conn.; Feingold, Wis.; Inouye, Hawaii; Kennedy, Mass.; Leahy, Vt.; Levin, Mich.; Murray, Wash.; Reed, R.I.; Sarbanes, Md.; Wellstone, Minn. Republicans Yes Allard, Colo.; Allen, Va.; Bennett, Utah; Bond, Mo.; Brownback, Kan.; Bunning, Ky.; Burns, Mont.; Campbell, Colo.; Cochran, Miss.; Collins, Maine; Craig, Idaho; Crapo, Idaho; DeWine, Ohio; Domenici, N.M.; Ensign, Nev.; Enzi, Wyo.; Fitzgerald, Ill.; Frist, Tenn.; Gramm, Texas; Grassley, Iowa; Gregg, N.H.; Hagel, Neb.; Hatch, Utah; Helms, N.C.; Hutchinson, Ark.; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.; Kyl, Ariz.; Lott, Miss.; Lugar, Ind.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Nickles, Okla.; Roberts, Kan.; Santorum, Pa.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.; Smith, N.H.; Smith, Ore.; Snowe, Maine; Stevens, Alaska; Thomas, Wyo.; Thompson, Tenn.; Thurmond, S.C.; Warner, Va. Republicans No Chafee, R.I.; Specter, Pa.; Voinovich, Ohio. Others Not Voting Jeffords, Vt.
NYT 9 Dec 2001 Justice Without Borders By LAURA SECOR Some crimes are so heinous, say legal experts, that they transcend jurisdictional boundaries. People accused of them should be prosecuted anywhere in the world, regardless of where the incident occurred – and regardless of the nationality of anyone involved. But which crimes should fall under the umbrella of international justice? War crimes? Apartheid? Terrorism? Drug trafficking? There’s no good answer; international justice can be a dismally ad hoc affair. So this year, 30 scholars and jurists had the bright idea of meeting to try and standardize this new realm of law. The conference was held at Princeton University in January. The resulting manifesto, ‘‘The Princeton Principles on Universal Jurisdiction,’’ represents a coming of age for the idea of international justice. The document aims to settle procedure about when and how a court in one country can try a foreign national for crimes committed in another. Among its conclusions: war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity, piracy, slavery, crimes against peace and torture are the seven deadly sins that automatically qualify for universal jurisdiction. But wherever it takes place, the trial must conform to international norms of due process and human rights. No one can be tried in absentia. The accused can’t stand trial twice for the same crime. No one can claim immunity from prosecution for crimes of this magnitude – not former heads of state, not those suspected of crimes committed many years in the past, not even, in some cases, those who have been granted amnesty by the government of the country where they committed the crime. Must a state extradite war-crimes suspects who seek refuge on their own soil? Yes, says the Princeton group – unless the prosecuting state employs the death penalty, torture or cruel and degrading punishment. For example, Osama bin Laden, if indicted for crimes against humanity, could not be extradited to the United States without assurances that he would be spared capital punishment. In November, the Bush administration announced its desire to bring bin Laden before a military tribunal. But if it did so, no state would be obligated to extradite him here. According to the Princeton Principles, universal jurisdiction extends only to courts that respect due process. Universal jurisdiction was the principle behind the Nuremberg trials for Nazi leaders at the end of World War II, as well as today’s war-crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The jurisdictional scope and procedural standards of those courts were determined by international agreement. The Princeton Principles aim to bring similar clarity to the process of trying war-crimes suspects in national courts far from the scene of the crime. How far can the international justice regime be extended? Stephen Macedo, a Princeton political-science professor who helped organize the conference where the principles were devised, is careful to keep his claims for universal jurisdiction on this side of modesty. ‘‘Should bin Laden really be brought to justice before a court?’’ Macedo asks. ‘‘Do we have enough proof for that? I don’t think these categories of universal jurisdiction are adequate to deal with every military threat and strategy we face.’’ But if judicial action can’t replace political action, it can hopefully replace some other things we wouldn’t be sorry to do without. Collective blame, for instance. Or revenge.
NYT 9 Dec 2001 Religion Revisiting the Bible, explaining orthodoxy and crossing boundaries in the Holy City. Reviewed by J. Charlie Sharlet Sunday, December 9, 2001; Page BW03 That urgency intrudes again and again on Yossi Klein Halevi in At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden: A Jew's Search for God With Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land (Morrow, $25). Like Harnut, Halevi goes in search of a God he can believe in, but he takes along with him the tools of a journalist who has long covered a land whose religious conflicts often partake heavily of the profane. Looking for an alternative to the fierce political gods preached by right-wing Israelis and Hezbollah alike, Halevi concentrates his investigation on mysticism. Despite this resolve to turn his back on politics, he seems most at home talking history and exile with the Armenians of Jerusalem, and, to his own surprise, dancing at a Sufi mosque in a section of Gaza he once patrolled as an Israeli soldier. The Armenians, Halevi is at first disappointed to discover, maintain a faith that is more nationalistic than spiritual, centered not on holiness but on their memories of the 1915 massacre of their people by the Turks. But that turns out to be common ground for Halevi, once obsessed with the Holocaust himself. Although he finds more spiritual solace among the Christian orders dedicated to quiet and calm, it's only in the company of men and women who are as bound by history as he is that he finds the daring to truly cross religious borders, donning an emblem of the cross in solidarity on Armenian Genocide Day. Halevi's forays into Islam are mostly less successful, and seemingly less-informed. He treats men of dubious spiritual authority as saints, and asks them with the naiveté of a child how peace between Jews and Muslims can be achieved -- apparently failing to recognize that Sufism is the sole branch of Islam to turn its back on politics. The Sufis, not surprisingly, reply with platitudes, insisting that all we need is love. Halevi, to his credit, needs more. He finds it in Gaza, where his memories of his own participation in the political repression of the Palestinians converge with his hunger for God at a zikr, a Sufi service designed to achieve controlled ecstasy. Even as he dances, he remains aware of the improbability of his presence among people he once considered enemies, and who may still consider him as such. It's a transcendent moment, not so much one of ecumenism as one of converting while staying the same, of a view of God that's simultaneously broad and narrow. It's not a solution to the problem of peace, but for him prayer becomes a kind of politics, mindful of the past, no longer obsessed with the future, dedicated to the present. That At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden works as a story as well as a polemic suggests that Halevi's free-range orthodoxy may be a real alternative to the hopeless divide between secular humanists and fundamentalists. • J. Charlie Sharlet, a writer in Philadelphia, often reviews books on religion.
NYT 9 Dec 2001 THE WAY WE LIVE NOW High Impact By ANDREW SULLIVAN In any overview of the ideas of 2001, the massacre of Sept. 11 is unavoidable. However monstrous a crime, it was also a conceptual innovation. However evil, it was an idea. The idea was twofold: to bloody the West and to do so by using the West’s own tools. The weapons were made by us: our airplanes, our fuel, our civilians. The propaganda coup was made possible by us as well: the hand-held video cameras that recorded the horror; the round-the-clock coverage on television stations across the world. As an example of asymmetrical warfare, it was hard to beat. It isn’t hard to see the conceptual elegance of this idea, or to see that this was part of the message: we’re ruthless but we’re also intelligent. Many commentators, though horrified, were nonetheless impressed. ‘‘We had to recognize,’’ Norman Mailer observed, ‘‘that the people that did this were brilliant.’’ But do we? In retrospect, the idea of Sept. 11 seems highly overrated. Like many foolish notions, it may have the allure of superficial intelligence, but it was, in fact, deeply unoriginal and profoundly misconceived. To begin with, very little about this idea was new. Suicide bombing and hijacking were established techniques. The target was a familiar one – similar thugs targeted the same buildings only eight years before. Diving an airplane into a landmark had been contemplated – in a thwarted strike at the Eiffel Tower. Even the teenage nihilists of Columbine High School had thought of crashing a plane into the twin towers. And Al Qaeda clearly miscalculated. By committing such a vast atrocity, they all but guaranteed an overwhelming response, one that would cripple the network’s finances and military bases. Imagine if Al Qaeda had set off several suicide bombs across America, killing a few dozen people. They would have made a point, instilled fear – and quite possibly have gotten away with it, as they did when they blew up the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, or when they blew up the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen. Instead, the terrorists decided to ratchet up the stakes. It was a fool’s – or a fanatic’s – choice. In some ways, then, Sept. 11 really was a suicide mission – for Al Qaeda as a whole. It didn’t just kill the terrorists involved; it sealed the fate of their superiors as well. It wrenched the Taliban from power and imprisoned dozens of Al Qaeda operatives across the globe. It is hard to see how that can be construed as a victory – or even as a vaguely intelligent idea. So what was new on Sept. 11 was not so much a matter of intelligent conceptual design or clever tactics. What was new was the conflation of terrorism and war, the perpetration, by individuals, of monumental destruction against a target populated exclusively by civilians. Yes, the world had seen massive civilian casualties – even deliberate civilian casualties. The carpet bombing of Coventry; the annihilation of Dresden or Nagasaki. But these were different: they were regrettable, in some cases indefensible, but they were acts by states in formal conflicts in which war had been declared. They weren’t massacres of civilians without warning or outside a conventional conflict between states. In contrast, on Sept. 11, we were initiated into the concept of mass civilian slaughter outside the bounds of declared war. The worst suicide bombings we had previously had to face were minuscule by comparison. They were designed to create maximal terror with minimal bloodshed. The attacks of Sept. 11 were designed to create maximal terror with maximal bloodshed: military-scale devastation, without any official military involvement. Those who blame Americans for not foreseeing either event have an obvious point. In the 1990’s, we were warned again and again of the possibility of mass terrorist destruction in the homeland. We preferred not to listen. The cover folder of the 1998 National Commission on Terrorism even had a picture of the World Trade Center on it, with cross hairs superimposed on the upper floors. You can’t get more direct than that. Yet blaming ourselves for naïveté misses an essential point. Part of what makes a civilization civilized is a natural reluctance to believe unconscionable evil until it is realized in front of us. This is not a failing. It is an achievement. Part of the essence of civilization is the slow accretion of social and civic trust that enables us to live together in highly complex and interdependent ways. That achievement was severely dented on Sept. 11, and our civilization is less civilized as a result. But it is also more mobilized, more conscious and therefore more alive. If our response to Sept. 11 shows anything – the heroism of the rescue workers, the patriotism of millions, the prosecution of a tenacious and unrelenting war on terrorism – it is that civilization, though wounded, is far from over. In fact, the one incontrovertible fact of post-Sept. 11 America is that civilization can clearly, ruthlessly defend itself. Call that the reverse idea of the World Trade Center massacre: the idea that, when mortally threatened, freedom can fight back. And that’s an idea that will last much longer than the dark ‘‘brilliance’’ of Osama bin Laden. Andrew Sullivan, a contributing writer for the magazine, writes daily for www.andrewsullivan.com.
WP 30 Nov 2001 Family Filmgoer By Jane Horwitz, Page WE51 BEHIND ENEMY LINES (PG-13, 106 minutes) Teen audiences caught up in current events could have a rousing time at "Behind Enemy Lines," a truly intense action flick that's an odd and cynical mix of American jingoism and global realpolitik. It's extremely violent for a PG-13 film, making it a bad choice for preteens. Set in war-torn Bosnia, the film portrays a mass grave where victims of genocide lie decomposing in the mud. Violence ranges from deafening mine and tank explosions to point-blank shootings and spattering blood. A near-catatonic child sits amid the destruction in one scene. The action sequences from first-time feature director John Moore vibrate with music video styles. The showbizzy result is surprisingly effective at conveying the chaos of battle. The film also contains profanity and much cigarette smoking. Owen Wilson plays Lt. Burnett, a cocky but amiable naval aviator flying reconnaissance missions over Bosnia. He and his pilot photograph something sinister and are shot down. Stranded, Burnett is hunted and marked for death by Serbs in the middle of a supposed cease-fire. Back on the aircraft carrier, the admiral (Gene Hackman) who once thought Burnett was a hotdog tries to mount a mission to save him, but NATO wants the United States to back off. The film derides NATO's good intentions but does better with the metaphor of a lone American caught between factions in a foreign war. Mainly, this tense and entertaining movie is a salute to and a recruitment poster for the U.S. military.
Chicago Tribune 5 Dec 2001 Research library top collections By Chicago Tribune We asked Bernard Reilly, president of The Center for Research Libraries, to list his facility's 10 most interesting collections. Here is the list, and his comments. Khmer Rouge Top Secret Documents. The events of the killing fields of Cambodia during the late 1970s are documented in this 100,000-plus-page archive of the Khmer Rouge's security force. It covers the process of repression, terror, and extermination in the capital and countryside of Cambodia, and includes written confessions, letters, and notes to and from top Khmer Rouge leaders. The Center for Research Libraries (CRL) is an international not-for-profit consortium of colleges, universities, and libraries.http://wwwcrl.uchicago.edu/
San Francisco Chronicle 18 Dec 2001 Elders forced to watch sons shot Taliban massacre uncovered Young Hazara men were rounded up and killed last winter James Rupert, Newsday, Yakaolang, Afghanistan -- The white-bearded elders of Bedmushkin tremble when they recall Jan. 8. That was the day that Taliban fighters came to the village after having won a difficult battle against a militia of the ethnic Hazaras who inhabit the harsh, mountainous heart of Afghanistan. The Taliban swept through the village and rounded up 37 Hazaras -- farmers, laborers and other civilians. They tied the men's hands and marched them up to Yakaolang, the district's main town. When they arrived at the gully above the hospital, the day's killing was already under way, for the bodies of 12 men from another village lay bloody on the snow. The Taliban pulled aside the most elderly men from Bedmushkin and "gathered the younger men before our eyes," recalled Syed Hassan, a 67-year-old farmer. "They tied their hands with their turbans and tied them together, shoulder against shoulder. They insulted us all, calling us Shia kafirs," or infidels. "We were looking upon our sons and our brothers' sons, and calling upon God that this should not happen," said one of the elders, Syed Haji Ghulam Hussain. But Taliban with automatic rifles stepped toward the bound men and opened fire. "Our minds were spinning with grief and cries. We don't remember how many men were shooting or how long it took," Hussain said. Then "our sons were lying on the ground in their blood, and the Taliban walked up and shot each one again in the head." When it was over, 29 young men from Bedmushkin were dead, and the Taliban forced the elders to throw their sons' bodies into a truck to be hauled away. The somber grandfathers of Bedmushkin recounted the killings last week beside the mass grave where they buried the 35 village men who ultimately died in the Taliban's rampage in January. "We have perhaps 400 people in our village," said Hassan. The loss of more than a quarter of their adult men has left many families struggling to survive, villagers said. In the five years of Taliban rule over most of Afghanistan, the bitterest warfare and deadliest atrocities were those between the Taliban, drawn mainly from Afghanistan's dominant Pashtuns, and the minority Hazaras, set apart from other Afghans as followers of the Shiite branch of Islam and historically the most downtrodden of the country's ethnic groups. Nowhere was such violence more continuous and destructive than in Yakaolang, an isolated district that changed hands through combat eight times in the past three years. After January's massacres, in which the Taliban killed an estimated 300 Hazara civilian men over several days, Yakaolang caught the attention of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and international human rights groups, all of whom called for a full investigation. U.N. officials who investigated the massacres described the atrocity as a Bosnia-style war crime that merited prosecution in international courts. A recent visit to the valley offered signs that the Taliban were pursuing a policy designed not simply to defeat Hazara fighters, but to drive out the population. In January, the Taliban rampaged through Yakaolang after retaking it from the troops of Hezb-i-Wahdat, the largest Hazara party and militia. But the Taliban held the district for only 40 days before Wahdat seized it back. When the Taliban returned in May, they executed 26 more civilians and burned much of Yakaolang town and villages in the district, residents and local officials said. "Each time the Taliban came, they were more severe," said Mohamed Reza Sayedi, the Yakaolang district's governor. "In May, their fighters burned houses and food stocks of the people, to make sure that no one could live here, " said Sayedi, who served as governor under both the Taliban and Wahdat. Now parts of Yakaolang and other districts in the Hazarajat are dead zones. The Shahidan valley, about 35 miles east of Yakaolang, is lifeless, its fields left fallow and villages silent except for the wind rustling in dry grass. There, too, the Taliban burned homes and arrested or killed civilians amid seesaw battles with Wahdat. In the valley's biggest town, Bazaar-i-Shahidan, Ghulam Khojain was one of only three people visible one recent day. The bazaar's former shops were empty but for charred timber and the debris of collapsed roofs. Last winter, the Taliban arrested Khojain with 84 other people from the valley. "They said we were working for America and Iran, and getting paid to support Wahdat," Khojain said. "They put us to work as prisoners and beat us if we did not do enough for them. They killed six of us." Until a couple of weeks ago, Yakaolang town was also empty. But the Taliban withdrew from Hazara areas after the fall last month of Mazar-e-Sharif to the north, so people have been streaming back from their places of refuge -- overcrowded Hazara communities in Kabul or other towns, relatives' homes, mosques and even caves in the nearby mountains. There is not much to come home to. In Yakaolang, too, the bazaars are burned. The hospital is destroyed. Pastures are empty of the usual sheep and cows, because many people had to sell their livestock to pay for their refuge in other parts of Afghanistan. With their houses damaged and livestock and food reserves gone, many of Yakaolang's people face a grim winter. The Taliban troops who burned Yakaolang in May were led by Mullah Dadaullah, a commander whom Wahdat officials and a U.N. report described as infamous for having uprooted or executed civilians and destroyed farms and villages in earlier campaigns. Dadaullah -- who has close clan ties to the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar -- was a commander of the Taliban forces besieged at Kunduz last month. He ultimately surrendered to the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, said Mohammed Ghiasi, the Wahdat security chief in Yakaolang. The brutality of the Hazara-Taliban conflict has been rooted partly in the special antipathy that the Sunni Muslim Taliban and their Arab allies have for Muslims of the Shia sect. "Some of us saw and heard the Taliban putting up their hands (in prayer) after shooting Hazaras and saying, 'Let this sacrifice be accepted by God as our jihad against the unbelievers,' " said Syed Mohammed Ali, one of the elders at Bedmushkin. "They do not regard us (Shias) as people," said Ahmed Hussain, another Bedmushkin resident. San Francisco Chronicle Page A - 6
AFP 12 Dec 2001 Northern Alliance will accept 1,000 peacekeepers in Kabul KABUL, Dec 12 (AFP) - The Northern Alliance favours an international security force of 1,000 soldiers in Kabul that will limit itself to guarding the premises of the new interim government, a defence ministry spokesman told AFP Wednesday. Incoming Defence Minister Mohammad Qasim Fahim, a senior alliance figure, delivered this message to the top UN envoy for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, in talks in Kabul on Tuesday, said spokesman Barna Salihi. "General Fahim told Brahimi that in his view, 1,000 troops will be enough to guarantee security for the new government," he said. The alliance, which has 4,000 security forces in Kabul, including many dressed in military fatigues armed with Kalashnikovs that appear to be from the regular army, has already demilitarized the city, the spokesman insisted. Under last week's historic UN-brokered power-sharing accord in Bonn, the alliance pledged to withdraw all military units before the deployment of a UN-mandated international security force. "We have no military units here, all of our military are outside Kabul. We just don't have enough police uniforms. That is why some of the security forces are dressed like soldiers," said Salihi. "We are respecting the Bonn agreement," he added. Earlier this week, a top aide to General Fahim had said that some soldiers would stay on in the capital even after the deployment of the UN-mandated force. And on Wednesday there were clear signs of a military presence. Close to one of Fahim's offices in Kabul's Wazir Abkhar Khan district, a jeep packed with men dressed in khaki and armed with hand-held rocket-propelled grenade launchers roared into the street. A few streets away, an anti-aircraft gun mounted on the back of a military vehicle stood parked on the curb. Under the Bonn accord, an interim six-month administration is to take power on December 22 headed by Pashtun royalist Hamid Karzai. However, the three "power ministries," foreign, interior and defence, will be kept by the troika that runs the alliance, Abdullah Abdullah, Yunus Qanooni and General Fahim. The Northern Alliance, a loose coalition of Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnic minorities dislodged the hardline Taliban movement from power last month with the help of US air strikes.
Dawn (Pakistan) 11 Dec 2001 400 Taliban supporters massacred in Kandahar: Prisoners die in containers By Our Staff Correspondent CHAMAN, Dec 11: Anti-Taliban tribal forces have launched a campaign to kill non-Afghan fighters in Kandahar and other parts of southern Afghanistan. Reports said that over 400 non-Afghan Taliban fighters, mainly Arabs, had been trapped and massacred by tribal militias in and around Kandahar since the Taliban surrendered Kandahar, Hilmand and Zabul. "A large number of dead bodies of Arab Taliban were found in various parts of Kandahar region," travellers reaching here from different parts of southern Afghanistan said. Tribal forces loyal to different warlords had killed them, they added. "No tribal group is sparing the Arab Taliban," Amanullah, one of the witnesses, told newsmen near the border. People living in areas close to the Kandahar Airport had buried bodies of 21 Arab fighters the other day, he said, adding that they had been killed by the forces loyal to the governor of Kandahar. Sources said that other tribal groups were also involved in the killing of non-Afghan Taliban. An uneasy calm prevailed in Kandahar city. Intense fighting was reported for control of Lashkar Gah, capital of Hilmand. In Spin Boldak, militiamen loyal to Wakil Abdul Samad and Akhtar Jan asked local people to surrender their weapons. They launched a campaign to deweaponize the area to restore peace. They warned that if people did not comply with the directive, they would raid their homes for recovery of arms and ammunition. AFP adds: Dozens of Taliban who surrendered to the Northern Alliance died while being transported to a prison in sealed shipping containers, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The prisoners, many of them foreign fighters, died during the two to three-day journey from Kunduz to Shibarghan, Afghanistan, witnesses in Shibarghan told the daily. On Saturday, Northern Alliance commander Colonel General Jurabek said 43 prisoners had died from injuries or asphyxiation in six containers, while three others died from wounds after their arrival in Shibarghan. Several Pakistani prisoners, however, told the daily that many more people had died in the containers. One prisoner said all but seven people died from lack of air in his container, estimating the number dead at more than 100. Another prisoner said 13 people died in his container and that the survivors had taken turns at breathing through a hole in the metal wall. A local truck driver who spoke through acquaintances, said he saw soldiers unloading many bodies from a container outside the city. The prisoners came from Kunduz, in northern Afghanistan, where a bloody uprising of captured Taliban fighters last month took US-led Afghan forces two weeks to put down, causing the death of some 230 prisoners and one US Central Intelligence Agency officer - the first US combat casualty of the Afghan campaign.
Dawn 12 Dec 2001 PoWs massacre: probe urged By Our Correspondent MINGORA, Dec 11: The Awami National Party has demanded of the international community to constitute a war tribunal to probe into the Qila-i-Jangi carnage. The demand was made at a meeting of the ANP office-bearers of the Malakand Division here on Tuesday. Wali Akber Khan Yousufzai, Shah Zamin Khan, Arshad Khan Yousufzai, Bacha Munir, Bacha Islam, Naseeb Rawan, Asmat Akhunkhel, Saifullah, Khan Rahim Afghani, Israr Khan Otmankhel, Haji Sher Bahadur Khan Nekpikhel, Syed Dildar Shah Bacha, Waheed Ullah Yousufzai, Israr Khan and others spoke at the meeting, presided over by the party's general-secretary, Muhammad Ibrar Yousufzai. They condemned killings of Pakhtoons in Afghanistan, saying that the (US-led) campaign was only against the Pakhtoons and not terrorists. They accused the US and the Northern Alliance of killing Pakhtoons under a conspiracy, and said the Qila-i-Jangi massacre was the most tragic incident of the history in which prisoners of war had been killed in contravention with the international law and human rights. The ANP office-bearers called upon the Amnesty International, the Asia Watch, the Red Cross and the United Nations Organization to launch a movement for bringing the killers to book. They rejected the Bonn accord, saying that the Pakhtoons had not been given due representation at the Bonn conference.
HRW 3 Dec 2001 Afghanistan: Three Afghan Commanders Should Be Prosecuted (New York, December 3, 2001) -- Human Rights Watch today urged the United States and Britain to take immediate measures to ensure that three Afghan Taliban commanders alleged to have committed international crimes be held by an outside independent authority until they can be prosecuted before an impartial tribunal. Mullah Fazil and Mawlawi Nurullah Nuri were known to be in Mazar-I Sharif in the custody of Northern Alliance commander Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum. Mullah Dadaullah was also known to be in Northern Alliance custody, but his precise whereabouts were not known. Human Rights Watch said that the U.S. and Britain should establish procedures for the transfer and detention of Afghan and foreign combatants suspected of serious abuses. These fighters should be taken into custody by U.S. or British forces and delivered to an independent authority, or be placed in safe and secure detention facilities in Afghanistan, with oversight by U.S. or U.K. forces and independent observers. "Fazil, Dadaullah, and Nuri represent a test case for how the international community is going to ensure that those who are implicated in the worst atrocities in Afghanistan are brought to justice," said Sidney Jones, executive director of the Asia Division of Human Rights Watch. "If these men and others like them are not prosecuted, the cycle of violent abuse in Afghanistan is not going to end." Mullah Fazil had overall operational command, and specific sectoral responsibilities, during a Taliban offensive that led to the recapture of Khwagaghar town in Takhar province and surrounding areas in January 2001. Over thirty civilians were detained and summarily executed during this operation, while at least forty-five others were detained and transferred to a jail in Kunduz. Numerous witnesses have also testified that Fazil visited Yakaolang district, as commander-in-chief, during a January 2001 massacre of over 170 ethnic Hazara civilians. The Yakaolang victims had been detained by Taliban forces and then executed by firing squad in public view. Mullah Dadaullah commanded Taliban forces that carried out a scorched earth policy in Yakaolang district, in the mainly Shi'a Muslim Hazarajat region, in June 2001. After briefly recapturing Yakaolang, Dadaullah's forces burned down over 4,000 homes, shops, and public buildings in the district. His forces continued their scorched earth policy as they retreated east, destroying entire towns and villages in the western part of Bamiyan province. Most of the civilian population in western Bamiyan fled the Taliban advance, but those who remained behind, as well as some who had encamped in the hills, were summarily executed. The Taliban's official Bakhtar Information Agency confirmed Dadaullah's responsibility for the military operations in the area. Dadaullah is also reportedly responsible for the massacre of Shi'a Muslims in Syedabad, in Mazar-I Sharif, in 1998. Mawlawi Nurullah Nuri, the former governor of Balkh province - in which the city of Mazar-i Sharif is located - was military commander of the northern zone under the Taliban. He could be implicated in the reported summary executions of ethnic Uzbek civilians in Balkh in May 2001, and in a massacre of civilian prisoners that took place at Robatak Pass, on the border of Samangan and Baghlan provinces, in May 2000. Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, to facilitate an arrangement, with the approval of Afghan representatives and the United Nations Security Council for an independent authority to take custody of these suspects, and others with similar accusations against them, until a venue for a fair trial can be determined. The rights group suggested that because there is currently no possibility for a fair and impartial trial in Afghanistan, persons accused of committing atrocities in Afghanistan will at least at the outset probably have to be tried in other courts - either domestic courts in third countries with universal jurisdiction (laws specifically allowing trials for human rights abuses, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in other nations) or before an international tribunal specially created for Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch noted that President Bush on November 13 issued a military order authorizing the trial by special military commissions of non-U.S. citizens he has reason to believe are members of al Qaeda, have assisted al Qaeda members, or have engaged in or aided acts of international terrorism. The organization has criticized the proposed military commissions for failing to ensure that prosecutions would meet basic fair trial requirements guaranteed under U.S. and international human rights law. Violations of international law unconnected with acts of international terrorism against the United States, such as the abuses in Afghanistan cited above, would not be covered by the military order. Human Rights Watch said prosecuting human rights violations and war crimes in Afghanistan was critical to the future of the country, and again urged the United Nations to establish a commission of experts to investigate war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious abuses in Afghanistan.
Reuters 3 Dec 2001 Factional fighting erupts in North Afghanistan By Michael Steen KABUL (Reuters) - Factional fighting has prompted the United Nations to pull its international staff out of the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, a U.N. spokesman said on Monday, in the latest sign of worsening security in northern Afghanistan. ``We have observations of sporadic fighting and shooting in the city, we don't have any information on who is fighting whom,'' U.N. spokesman Khaled Mansour told a news conference. ''We have heard about factional fighting.'' Uzbek warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum captured Mazar-i-Sharif from Taliban troops on November 9, the first in a series of Northern Alliance victories which led to a rout of the Taliban from most of the country. The apparent outbreak of fighting between various Northern Alliance factions in Mazar-i-Sharif was the latest sign that long-held tensions within the grouping of warlords were beginning to show. ``The area around the city is very unstable,'' Mansour said, adding that around three million civilians were dependent on aid provided by foreign agencies in the north of Afghanistan. ``We don't have anyone in Mazar, our security officer left the city, I think yesterday,'' he said. Another U.N. official in Kabul, speaking on condition of anonymity, said several concerns had prompted the pull-out. ``There was a combination of looting, security threats to Western nationals and factional fighting. Several factions want control of the city,'' the official said. He said a similar situation existed in the eastern city of Jalalabad, on the road from the capital Kabul to Pakistan. The U.N. has no expatriate staff in Jalalabad. Four journalists, two from Reuters, were killed on the road from Kabul to Jalalabad on November 19 when armed men stopped their car and shot them. Four other journalists have been killed in two incidents in northern Afghanistan. BORDER TENSION, REPRISALS Mansour also said the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was concerned about reports of rising tension among the population on Pakistan's northwestern border with Afghanistan. The UNHCR is concerned about possible reprisals against ethnic Tajik and Uzbek refugees living in the mainly Pashtun area, following the killing of Taliban and foreign al Qaeda fighters during a prison revolt near Mazar-i-Sharif last week. The Taliban drew its support from the Pashtun, Afghanistan's traditionally dominant ethnic group. An advance party of 40 French soldiers arrived at Mazar-i-Sharif airport, six km (four miles) from the city, via Uzbekistan on Sunday to start operations to secure it for humanitarian aid deliveries. Herve Fouilland, a force spokesman, said by telephone the soldiers had begun work with U.S. sappers to clear mines and unexploded ordnance, and Afghans were also repairing the runway. He said C-130 Hercules transport planes should be able to land at the airport within a few days. U.S., Jordanian and additional French forces would then be able to move in to keep the airport secure for aid flights, Fouilland said. He said he had no information on the situation in the city.
Independent (Bangladesh) 28 Dec 2001 The martyrs of the Langalband massacre by Monojit Kumar Das Innocent people by the thousands lost their lives during the Liberation War of 1971. They are honoured martyrs. It is a great regret that the names of martyrs are not being preserved apparently due to negligence. During the nine months of liberation struggle in 1971 the Pakistan army and its complementary forces were responsible for different kinds of massacres in towns and villages of the country. Since occupation forces ruled by terror, they have to indulge in frequent exercise of terror tactics. Guerrilla attacks to be successful have to be sudden and unexpected. But occupation forces are not concerned with these principles of guerrilla insurgency. Such attacks leave them dead or wounded, often with no enemy to hit back. From the time of the Romans they have sought to curb these kind of attacks with curfews and massacres. William, the Conqueror, did it in England after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century. The Romans did it before them against the Jews in Palestine. The Germans did so in the Second World War. And now the Israelis are doing it against the Palestinians. A vicious circle is set in motion which ends if and only ultimate victory by one side occurs or an armistice is declared by the concerned parties. The occupation forces unleashed a reign of terror in Bangladesh. So a massacre occurred at Langabhandh and its adjoining Upazillas – Sripur and Sailkupa in Magura and Jhenidah districts. This was because in the afternoon of October 13, 1971 a group of the Pakistani forces and their collaborators were ambushed by the freedom fighters of Sripur Bahini on the western bank of SK-II canal of the Ganges Kobadak Project (GKP) near Masalia mosque of Sripur Upazila. In retaliation the occupation army and their collaborators took furious revenge on the innocent villagers of the adjoining areas. They burnt scores of houses at Masalia, Sheikh para and Malithia and killed 13 persons on the bank of the GKP canal. Old men of about 75 to 80 years were the victims of the massacre. Only two graves, those of Habibur Rahman and Khorshed Mollah are being protected by boundary walls because of the initiative of their families. There is no sign of the graves of other martyrs on the bank of the GKP canal. The martyrs of Langalbandh massacre are not remembered by the local people due to the negligence of all concerned. No monument has been erected in the memory of the people whose lives were sacrificed on the altar of freedom. It is a matter of great regret that nobody remembers them even on the occasion of Victory Day every year. Most of the young people in the areas do not even know of the event. Family members of the martyrs in Langalbandh massacre have urged the government to take proper initiatives to erect monuments and to provide financial help for the martyrs’ families. It is a shame that the initiative at the level of the local administration, including that at the level of the families, relatives and friends, have not been taken with the determination that would have made a difference. Waiting for others to help remember martyrs of the Liberation War is an indication of how we look at the issue. If we do not care, how can we expect, others to share such feeling!
Karen National Union 2 Dec 2001 KNU Statement on SPDC’s War against Karen Civilians -- OFFICE OF THE SUPREME HEADQUARTERS KAREN NATIONAL UNION KAWTHOOLEI KNU Statement on SPDC’s War against Karen Civilians 1. The SPDC employs about 120 battalions of its army troops for military activities in the Karen resistance areas in the Tanessarim Division, the Mon State, Karen State and Pegu Division. Some of these units are used for garrison duty and the rest for military offensives. 2. The troops from these SPDC units have been perpetrating daily the criminal offenses of forced labor, extortion of cash and properties, destruction of homes and villages, killing of livestock, torture and extra-judicial executions, rape of women and selling of narcotic drugs in all the areas they have been operating. 3. In addition to systematically making the survival of the people impossible, the SPDC troops are constantly destroying places of worship of the Buddhists, Muslims, Christians etc., persecuting the people on religious ground or instigating religious strife, treating the people arrogantly and driving out the people from their native places. 4. Subsequent to these acts of atrocities, the SPDC troops have started to increase their military activities, at the beginning of this dry season, to the extent of making it impossible for the people to harvest their rice crops and to survive, in many areas in the districts of Thaton, Nyaunglaybin, Toungoo, Myawaddy and in the Tenassarim Division. As a result of stepping on land mines planted in the thousands by the SPDC troops near the villages and in the rice fields, many innocent civilians have lost their lives or have been maimed. Moreover, the civilians in the areas have been subjected to more torture, extra-judicial executions, destruction of properties, forced labor and all kinds of hardship. As a result, many thousand more Karen people have become Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). 5. Internationally, the SPDC attempts to convey the impression that it is involved in non-violence movement. However, as it continues to commit brutal acts of torture and violence on the ground, without limit, we would like to urge the international community and the people inside the country to be aware of the true situation and to condemn and oppose the SPDC concertedly.
AP 31 Dec 2001 Researcher urges action on Khmer Rouge tribunal PHNOM PENH, Cambodia: The international community has lost interest in bringing former Khmer Rouge leaders to justice for genocide, a top Cambodian researcher said on Monday. Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said that world attention has turned to the September 11 attacks in the United States, taking momemtum away from efforts to try surviving top Khmer Rouge officials. Cambodia passed a law in August to facilitate a UN-assisted trial of leaders of the communist regime believed responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people between 1975-79. But the government has yet to finalize the details of the tribunal with the United Nations. "It is saddening that the international community shows so little interest in justice for Cambodians," Youk Chhang said in a statement. He said bringing Khmer Rouge leaders to justice "could be done at a fraction of the cost required to take on al-Qaeda," referring to the terrorist network of Osama Bin Laden, the prime suspect in the suicide strikes in New York and Washington. "The legacy of their insane successes remains with us today, not only in the undeveloped state of Cambodia's political and economic reality but also in the ruptured social structures," his statement said. Om Yentieng, a member of the government task force on the Khmer Rouge tribunal law, said on Monday that the United Nations hasn't said when it would send negotiators to finalize details of the tribunal. Among the unresolved issues is how many Cambodian and foreign judges and prosecutors will be involved in the tribunal. The Documentation Center of Cambodia gathers evidence and information on mass killings that took place during the Khmer Rouge's disastrous rule, when the country was turned into a vast agrarian work camp. The regime banned religion and slaughtered many intellectuals. Only two top Khmer Rouge are in custody: former military chief Ta Mok and chief executioner Kaing Kek Iev, more commonly known by his revolutionary name Duch. Many former Khmer Rouge officials remain free in Cambodia, having reached deals with the government before the movement's guerrilla resistance crumbled in late 1998.
Kyodo News (Japan) 29 Dec 2001 Cambodia Daily ordered to suspend printing for 15 days PHNOM PENH, Dec. 29, Kyodo - The government ordered the Cambodia Daily on Saturday to suspend publication for 15 days for misrepresenting history in reporting on a national holiday. The Information Ministry ordered the suspension, effective Saturday, saying the English-language daily misrepresented Cambodian history in describing the Jan. 7 holiday in a Nov. 28 article on national holidays in 2002. The daily described the day as ''Vietnamese Liberation Day,'' but a ministry letter sent to the paper said, ''The royal government has clearly declared Jan. 7 as the victory day for Cambodian people over the genocide regime'' of the Khmer Rouge. The ministry threatened legal action if the paper does not obey the order. Dave Bloss, editor-in-chief of the daily, refused to comment on it. Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979, driving the Khmer Rouge from power. The current government says Vietnam contributed to ousting the Khmer Rouge.
AP 10 Dec 2001 Cambodia Wants to Keep Khmer Rouge PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The Cambodian government wants to detain Khmer Rouge leaders for another year while it waits for a U.N. response on setting up a genocide tribunal, an official said Monday. Om Yentieng, a member of the government's task force in charge of Khmer Rouge trials, said the Cambodian National Assembly must approve the extension before it begins its recess next month. If the administration gets its way, the measure will end fears that Ta Mok, a former Khmer Rouge commander known as Butcher, will go free when his detention order expires in March. ``It must be done before that,'' Om Yentieng, also an adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen, told reporters. ``We will not consent to the release of Ta Mok in this situation.'' The detention order for Kaing Kek Iev, the only other senior Khmer Rouge leader in government custody, will end in May. Kaing Kek Iev is better known by his revolutionary name, Duch. Most other Khmer Rouge leaders live freely in Cambodia after reaching defection deals in recent years with the government. None has been prosecuted for the atrocities committed during the communist group's rule from 1975 to 1979, when an estimated 1.7 million Cambodians died from disease, starvation, overwork and execution. The movement collapsed after the death of its leader Pol Pot in 1998. In August, the Cambodian parliament approved a law to set up a tribunal with the help of the United Nations, but the two bodies have yet to reach a written agreement. The United Nations has expressed concerns about the law, with many observers saying it falls short of international legal standards. Om Yentieng said if the United Nations refuses to take part in the tribunal, ``we won't let them tie our hands from proceeding with it.''
AP 3 Dec 2001 Monks, Chinese police coexist uneasily at Tibetan monastery By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN The Associated Press KUMBUN MONASTERY, Tibet - By bringing foreign journalists to this citadel of Tibetan Buddhism (in northeastern Tibet), Chinese officials apparently hoped to demonstrate the monks' freedom from political interference. The dozens of policemen roaming the monastery halls suggested a different story. So did the flustered reactions by senior monks when asked about the Dalai Lama, or whether they can worship freely. With government minders listening in, some questions were answered with silent, uneasy smiles. The sprawling monastery of Kumbun is on the border between Tibet and China's vast western province of Qinghai. For the past six years it has been caught up in a critical test of wills between China, which claims Tibet as its own, and the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, who wants China to give his Himalayan land autonomy. The battle is over who should be named Panchen Lama, a position in Tibetan Buddhism that is second only to that of the Dalai Lama himself. In 1995, the Dalai Lama named a 6-year-old boy, Choekyi Nyima, as the new Panchen. Beijing was incensed. It detained the boy and forced Tibetan monks to choose a different one as Panchen. The China-approved youngster lives thousands of miles away in Beijing. The whereabouts of the Dalai Lama's boy are not known. The dispute also is a test of whose side the monks of Kumbun are on. Their monastery has been without an abbot since 1998 when the last one, Agya Rimpoche, decamped to California, saying the pressure on him to recognize China's selection was too much. After the abbot fled, Communist Party teams put the monastery's 600 monks through three months of political reeducation. In prayer halls used as classrooms, the monks were forced to disavow Tibetan independence and the Dalai Lama, according to monks who spoke to Western reporters during their visit. Three years later, dozens of paramilitary police armed with truncheons still patrol the temples, dormitories and religious schools that make up the 440-year-old monastery. At times during the media visit last month they seemed to outnumber the red-robed monks. The unease of senior monks gathered for an officially arranged interview was evident. "Now let's see the monastery," the head monk said suddenly, trying to bring the interview to an end. However, out of earshot of officialdom, and speaking on condition of anonymity, some monks were outspoken. "Things are bad here," said one, striding along a stone path between two temples. "The pressure is intense." Another waited until the minders were distracted, then told a reporter the monks were loyal to the Panchen designated by the Dalai Lama, despite pressure to accept China's choice. The Dalai Lama has lived in India since 1959, when he fled Tibet after a failed rebellion against Chinese rule. Many Tibetans still revere him, and he won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize. Beijing, whose troops occupied Tibet in 1950, vilifies him as a corrupt theocrat bent on keeping Tibetans poor and ignorant. It bans his photograph from display, and holds Tibetan clergymen in prison for protesting against Chinese rule. Authorities vet Tibetan Buddhist leaders and closely monitor monasteries and monks. Yet Kumbun appears to thrive. Old temples are being renovated with donations from Taiwan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Boy monks race along steep paths after classes. Awe-struck pilgrims prostrate themselves before images of Buddha. And in a gesture of defiance, the Dalai Lama's photo peeks out from behind glowing yak-butter lamps and copper statues of Buddhist saints on an altar at one of the monastery's religious schools. The authorities have apparently chosen not to make a fuss about it. "The Chinese just pretend not to see it when they come in," said a grinning monk, studying religious texts on a temple porch.
Reuters 24 Nov 2001 Prominent Tibetan Lama Dies in Beijing By Jonathan Ansfield BEIJING (Reuters) A Tibetan living Buddha, who was also a top official in China's state-backed Buddhist organisation, has died of a serious illness at the age of 67, state media said on November 24, 2001. Cheoshi Lobsang Palten Lunrik Gyatso from the politically controversial Kumbum Monastery in western China died in a Beijing hospital on Wednesday, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily said. It did not give the cause of death. "We have been chanting sutras every day to commemorate him," said a monk at Kumbum, at the foot of green Lotus Mountain, just outside the city of Xining in the western province of Qinghai. He told Reuters it was not yet known whether Cheoshi's body would be cremated -- standard practice in most of Communist China -- or be picked apart by vultures according to the ancient Tibetan rite known as sky burial. "The other living Buddhas are practising divination and chanting sutras to choose the best way," he said. "It will take another one or two days to decide." Residents of the Kumbum monastery have included exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who lived there when he was a boy, but fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Beijing attacks the Dalai Lama as a supporter of independence for Tibet, which China has claimed as its territory since 1950. Kumbum, which dates back to 1560, is one of the six leading monasteries of the "Yellow Hat" sect of Buddhism. "LIFE-LONG PATRIOT" The People's Daily hailed the "living Buddha" Cheoshi, as he was known, as a "steadfast life-long patriot" who "clearly opposed national splittists and safeguarded the unity of the motherland". The ninth incarnation of the Panchen Lama -- Tibet's second highest religious figure -- designated the Qinghai-born Cheoshi a "living Buddha" at age two in 1936, the People's Daily said. He was one of more than 10 "living Buddhas" at the Kumbum monastery, according to the monk, and he was also deputy chairman of the Chinese Buddhist Association. He served in the 1980s as head of Kumbum's state-approved management committee, a post later held by monastery abbot Arjia Rinpoche, who fled to the United States in 1998 because of what he called growing pressure to "compromise his religious beliefs". Arjia Rinpoche said Beijing pressured him to denounce the Dalai Lama and back China's choice for the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. The Dalai Lama's choice, embraced by his followers as the true Panchen Lama, disappeared in 1995 and is believed by some to be imprisoned in China. MALIGNED MONASTERY Arjia Rinpoche's flight was yet another example of how political issues have intruded into the life of the monastery. In 1958 Chinese soldiers shut it down and arrested 500 monks after threatening them with guns. In the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, zealous Red Guards burned scriptures and destroyed objects of worship. Conditions improved in the 1980s after China reopened temples in Qinghai and neighbouring Tibet in 1978. But although religious worship is flourishing again at the Kumbum Monastery, it is only under the watchful eye of the government and in a climate of fear, according to the monks, particularly after the departure of Arjia Rinpoche. Prayers for Cheoshi at Kumbum's "Great Sutra Hall", once the site of worship for 3,000 monks, but now only around 600, will last one week, according to the monk. The boy heir to the "living Buddha" Cheoshi would be plucked within three to four years from among children born in the area of Kumbum after Cheoshi's death. A "living Buddha" is traditionally the reincarnation of a high lama or monk in Tibetan Buddhism, and he acts as a leader in spiritual life and in everyday local affairs. There are some 1,000 of them in China. Beijing has ordained several "living Buddhas" in recent years, shrugging off objections that it did not search for young reincarnations of high lamas according to proper rituals.
Reuters 11 Dec 2001 E.Timor Court Finds Militia Guilty of 1999 Killings Photos Reuters Photo By Achmad Sukarsono DILI, East Timor. An East Timor court sentenced 10 pro-Jakarta militia men to jail on Tuesday for crimes against humanity in 1999, the first convictions for the violence that marred the territory's break from Indonesia. The case concerned five incidents, among them 12 murders that included the killings of two nuns and three priests. The sentences for crimes ranging from torture to murder could increase pressure on Indonesia to prosecute members of its military who actively backed and encouraged the militia. The Special Panel of Serious Crimes in Dili gave Joni Marques the longest sentence of 33 years and four months for his part in the carnage that followed the tiny territory's overwhelming vote to end Indonesian rule. A United Nations (news - web sites) press release said panel member Judge Marcello da Costa announced the court had established beyond doubt there was an ``extensive attack by pro-autonomy armed groups supported by the Indonesian authorities targeting the civilian population.'' The special panel, set up in June last year, can try cases of genocide, war crimes and other serious offences between January 1 and October 25, 1999. Nine of Marques's accomplices were also given sentences for their part in the violence, which the United Nations estimates killed more than 1,000 people before an Australian-led intervention force restored order. The 10 men were part of the Alfa militia which marauded the Lautem district in 1999. All were guilty of ``committing a range of crimes against humanity,'' the UN statement said. Despite the acknowledged role of some Indonesian military units and men in inspiring and supporting the pro-Jakarta militia, Indonesia has not prosecuted anyone for crimes committed in East Timor. A number of countries have limited or banned aid to Indonesia, especially military help, because of the East Timor incidents and the lack of prosecutions. The United States has said progress in pursuing such cases is key to resuming full military aid to, and cooperation with, Jakarta. Indonesia has plans on the books to establish an ad-hoc human rights court to try East Timor cases, in which prosecutors last year named 19 suspects including military officers, but Jakarta has yet to open any court proceedings. The Supreme Court judge in charge of selecting a panel of 60 judges for the court told Reuters last month that only President Megawati Sukarnoputri's approval was needed. Supreme Court Chief Judge Bagir Manan said earlier this month the court will open after the year-end holidays.
BBC 10 Dec 2001 Communal tension high in Kerala The Ayodhya destruction took place nine years ago By the BBC's Venkitesh Ramakrishnan in Trivandrum Tension has remained high in the southern Indian state of Kerala for the fourth day running following communal clashes in different parts of the state. The clashes began with protests on Friday when a militant Muslim organisation called for a strike. A group of Hindu nationalist organisations including the governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) called their own strike this Monday in response. Spreading violence The strikers clashed with the police and activists of rival groups including the militant Muslim National Democratic Front (NDF). Ayodhya has aggravated communal tensions The most serious violence was seen in the state's northern district of Kasarakode. There the police fired rubber bullets at militant Hindu activists who were trying to force shops and offices to close. Other parts of the state - including capital Trivandrum - saw clashes between supporters and opponents of the strike and acts of rioting. Offices, shops and other public services were badly affected. Ayodhya anniversary The trouble began on 6 December the ninth anniversary of the destruction of the Babri Masjid in the north Indian town of Ayodhya. A militant Muslim organisation, the People's Democratic Party (PDP) called for a strike and demanded that the mosque be rebuilt. That day there were reports of several attacks by the Muslim strikers on devotees of the famous Sabarimala Ayyappa Hindu temple. Militant Hindu organisations retaliated by attacking PDP leaders and police who were trying to control rioters. The state's Chief Minister, AK Antony, has expressed deep concern at the developments. He has asked the police to step up vigilance and try to minimise violence. Observers say Kerala - known for its high development indices including one of the highest literacy rates in India - is facing a situation virtually unprecedented in is recent past.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL 11 Dec 2001 India: Civilian deaths in Kashmir are unacceptable AI Index: ASA 20/051/2000 Publish date: 11/12/2001 Amnesty International today condemned the apparent unlawful killing by security forces of 10 civilians and the injuring of up to 40 others following an attack on an army convoy by armed militants at Baramulla on 8 December. "Security forces and armed groups should spare civilians from both direct and indirect violence. The recent incident at Baramulla is just one in a long line which have led to the deaths of dozens of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir in recent weeks," Amnesty International said. The police have said that the civilians were killed in crossfire between the army and the attackers, members of the extremist Islamist group, Lakshar-e-Taiba. The army have also denied any responsibility for direct attacks. However, according to local observers, security forces fired both from moving convoy vehicles and bunkers on civilian passers-by and passing vehicles in retaliation for the ambush, after the encounter between the security forces and the militants had ended. There are reports that a nearby Border Security Force patrol joined in the firing. "This is not the first time that security forces have reportedly turned on the civilian population after coming under attack. Following an attack on a convoy at Baramulla in July 2001, there were reports that six local labourers were unlawfully killed by members of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry" Amnesty International said. All sides in the conflict must respect international humanitarian law that prohibits deliberate or indiscriminate attacks on civilians and those not taking direct part in hostilities. Amnesty International acknowledges that the Jammu and Kashmir Government has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident at Baramulla, but is concerned that previous inquiries into human rights abuses in the region have failed to result in the punishment of those found responsible. Perpetrators of human rights abuses have not been held to account and the high level of impunity across the state continues to put the civilian population at risk. "The consistent failure of both the state and central authorities to ensure all those responsible for human rights abuses are made to face the judicial consequences of their actions is testament to their failure to protect the human rights of the population of Jammu and Kashmir," Amnesty International said. Background Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most militarised regions in the world having approximately 700,000 security forces stationed there. In the eleven years since some elements of the pro-independence movement chose to use violence, 34,000 people, thousands of who were civilians, including the elderly, children, women and other non-combatants, have reportedly been killed. Human rights abuses by the security forces, police and armed opposition groups have remained at high levels throughout the decade. Indiscriminate violence is widespread and civilians are killed on a daily basis. Since the beginning of 2001 alone, around 3,000 conflict-related deaths have been reported in the state, approximately 1,000 of which were civilians. Worrying high levels of heart disease, post-traumatic stress and depression are found in the population, including the children. Recent incidents include: On 5 December Judge Phull, together with three others, was shot dead at point blank range after their car had inadvertently driven into a road block set up by militants. On 2 December, seven members of a wedding party were unlawfully killed by unidentified gunmen in Tringal village in Udhampur and on 6 December a one-year-old child was killed when a grenade was thrown by militants at a Border Security Force in a busy public area of Srinagar.
Times of India 1 Dec 2001 Land dispute led to Kishtwar massacre SANT KUMAR SHARMA TIMES NEWS NETWORK ISHTWAR (Doda): A few months ago, militants had carried out mass killings of Hindu shepherds in the remote dhoks (temporary summer shelters) here. And, for once, Cheerji, Sharot Dhar and Tagood made news, but for all the wrong reasons. As communal passions ran high, the Centre and the state government promised to set up dhok defence committees (DDCs) on the pattern of village defence committees (VDCs) in these areas. While nothing much was heard about the DDCs later, it is believed that the tussle over control of pastures for grazing cattle was perhaps the root cause of the massacres. It definitely acted as the catalyst, without which the entire chain of reactions could not have been set in motion, local residents and security personnel deployed here emphasise. Senior government officials and locals refuse to go on record on the issue, yet stress that some Gujjars and Bakerwals living on the ridges had incited the militants to kill the Hindu shepherds living in large groups in the dhoks. In the remote mountainous terrain here, villagers routinely move to higher ridges, along with their cattle, in the summers and stay in dhoks. Far-away from the villages, they graze their cattle on the meadows that abound in the upper reaches. Almost simultaneously, Gujjars and Bakerwals, living with their cattle on higher areas, move downwards (towards meadows) for grazing as grass gets depleted near their regular habitation. Since this practice has remained in vogue for centuries, there is more or less clear demarcation of meadows. The Hindu shepherds and Muslim Gujjars and Bakerwals steer clear each other’s (unofficial but sanctified by tradition) territories and there are no clashes. The demarcation of meadows may look communal at first glance but is guided more by the type of animals being reared and the lifestyles of the two communities. Things have, however, undergone a sea change after the outbreak of militancy over a decade ago. Since militants often roam about in the highest ridges and stay with Gujjar-Bakerwal families (more often than not forcibly), Hindu shepherds now prefer to stay closer to their dhoks and graze their animals nearby. They shun the higher ridges and thus the pressure on the pastures near the dhoks has increased. On the other hand, the Gujjars and Bakerwals leave their cattle open in the wilderness and they tend to wander in nearby areas, at times entering the pastures to which the Hindu shepherds claim exclusive rights.
Times of India 28 Dec 2001 -- 9 people massacred, houses torched in Aceh' ANDA ACEH, Indonesia: Unidentified armed men hacked to death at least nine civilians and set fire to 30 houses earlier this week in a remote area of Indonesia's Aceh province, a report said on Friday. The group descended on Buntul Kemumu, a remote area in Central Aceh district, on Monday and attacked residents with machetes, witnesses said, according to the Waspada daily. The assailants stabbed nine people to death and set fire to homes. "There was no shot fired even though the attackers were armed with rifles," an unidentified witness was quoted as saying. Hundreds of residents sought refuge at mosques or fled to the jungle. Authorities could not be reached immediately for comment. Local military spokesman Major Zulkifli was quoted by Waspada as blaming the massacre on rebels from the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which have fought a guerilla war against Jakarta's rule since 1976. "Security forces are searching for them and trying to secure the area so that the people can go home," Zulkifli said. A GAM spokesman, Wien Rime Raya, in return accused military-backed Javanese militia of being behind the attack. In another incident, soldiers killed two rebels in a gunfight in the Bendahara region of East Aceh on Thursday, a local military chief, said First Lieutenant Noldy Fredy. A soldier was injured. Aceh, a resource-rich region on the northern tip of Sumatra Island, has seen daily violence between rebels and security forces. More than 10,000 people have been killed in Aceh since the start of the insurgency. Some 1,700 were killed this year alone, rights groups said. Separatist sentiment has been fuelled by years of human rights abuses by the military and the central government's draining of the region's oil and gas wealth.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 7 Dec 2001 OCHA update on the situation in Poso District, Central Sulawesi Overall situation After weeks of uncertainty and sporadic violence, fierce clashes occured between Muslim and Christian groups over the past two weeks in Poso district. Although the situation is complex and it is difficult to find out about the reality on the ground, reports from the field indicate that at first, the Laskar Jihad conducted attacks on Christian villages. Several villages around the town of Poso were hit: Batalemba on 27 Nov., Patiwunga and Tengkura on 28 Nov., Sangginora and Debua on 29 Nov. 1 Other affected villages include Padalembara, Silanca, and Sepe. The latest incidents occurred in Sepe village on 1 December. The situation has remained relatively calm over the past few days. The sectarian clashes spread from the sub-district of Poso Pesisir to Lage sub-district. The reported intention of Muslims and the Laskar Jihad fighters is to reach the town of Tentena, which is predominantly Christian and located 70 kilometres south of Poso town, in retaliation for last year's Christian attack on Poso. Lore Utara sud-district and Tentena are reported as the main destinations of the Christian IDPs fleeing their villages. Preliminary reports from the field indicate that some 8,500 IDPs have fled to Lore Utara and 200 families to Tentena. Many IDPs are reported to be hiding in the woods. According to some press publications, 11 churches, schools and dozens of houses were burnt down during the violence. Sixteen people including two soldiers were killed and 4 others injured. This also includes six Muslims reportedly kidnapped by Christians from villages in Poso Kota last weekend, who were since found dead in the Poso river. Reports say that Muslim fighters were armed with AK47 assault rifles, light machine guns and grenade launchers, and even used bulldozers to destroy buildings. Reports also say that villages were simply set ablaze and houses systematically destroyed. The situation was beyond the capability of the local security forces to control. Poso district remained relatively calm over the past few days, although it continues to be highly tense. Action taken by the Government A high level Government delegation led by the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, H.E Mr. Susilo BambangYudhoyono, visited Central Sulawesi province on Wednesday to evaluate the situation and the need to declare a state of civil emergency in the area. The delegation met with provincial officials as well as local Muslim and Christian leaders in Poso and Tentena. Reports indicate that the Government is planning to deploy up to 2,600 troops to the area, in addition to some 1,800 troops already on the ground, to restore law and order in a six-month joint mission involving the military and the police. Minister Yudhoyono has hinted that the first steps of the mission would be to disarm people and to expel outsiders. The visit of the Government delegation has generated some hope that the conflict would be contained, allowing the rebuilding of ruined villages and the eventual return of IDPs to their homes. Humanitarian Interventions The humanitarian situation in Poso district is grave. Over 10,000 new IDPs are reported to have been displaced from their villages of origin. There are reports that many people are still hiding in the forest. In Lore Utara, the IDPs have received some food assistance from the local authorities and host communities. Many are reported to be with host families whose resources are stretched to the limit. The staff of CWS (Church World Service) and CARE are currently assessing the humanitarian needs of the newly displaced IDPs. CARE and CWS are planning to start distribution of rice, beans, and some non-food items. CWS will start distributing 90 MT of rice from WFP next week. OCHA in close consultation with field staff of CWS and CARE continues to monitor the situation and identify humanitarian needs which would require outside assistance. Currently, there is no UN presence in the area. Note: 1 Manado Pos, 12-01-01 For further information, please contact Mr. Abdul Haq Amiri, Field Support and Analysis Officer, OCHA Jakarta.
Jakarta Post 7 Dec 2001 Govt to launch operation to mend security in Poso Badri Jawara, The Jakarta Post, Poso The government will launch a Security Restoration Operation on Monday in an effort to stop the latest outbreak of sectarian violence that has claimed hundreds of lives in the town of Poso, Central Sulawesi, the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said here on Thursday. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with the Central Sulawesi provincial authorities, local figures and representatives of the warring groups at the gubernatorial office, Susilo said that the operation would start with the disarmament of all members (civilians) of the two warring camps. "For this purpose, a total of four battalions of the military (from the Wirabuana Military Command) and police will be fielded to perform the operation, which will be controlled by Central Sulawesi Police Headquarters," Susilo said, adding that one battalion of police would be standing by as reinforcements in case of emergency. Responding to questions about whether a state of emergency would be imposed in Poso, Susilo said that the government had to be very careful in weighing up such a move. "We are not going to make any half-baked decisions." The retired four-star general said that the operation must be properly carried out in an equitable and realistic manner. "The Central Sulawesi Police are responsible for the operation." "Security restoration, stopping the current conflict and preventing any new conflicts are the first three steps in our coordinated agenda. The next step will be the enforcement of the law, and last will come physical rehabilitation, social and economic reconstruction and -- finally -- reconciliation," Susilo said. "The Security Restoration Operation will initially last for six months. Then we will review it," he said without providing details. Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Zainal Abidin said that he was awaiting President Megawati Soekarnoputri's order to start the operation. "The minister (Susilo) will meet the President this afternoon. Whatever the government's decision is we are ready to execute it for the sake of security in Poso." Susilo and Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno arrived in the conflict-torn town of Poso on Wednesday to discuss with local authorities the best way to settle the conflict between Christians and Muslims, which has been on and off the boil for the last three years. Susilo and his entourage left for Wirabuana Military Headquarters in Makassar before flying to Jakarta on Thursday afternoon. The Poso conflict, which has claimed hundreds of lives on both the Christian and Muslim sides, was sparked by competition involving a the election of a local regent. Hundreds of buildings, including homes and facilities, have been destroyed during the festering conflict. One of the efforts made by the government to curb the violence has been to bring those instigating clashes before the courts. The local district court handed down death sentences on Febianus Tibo, 55, Marinus Riwu, 43, and Dominggus da Silva, 37, who were found guilty of instigating riots and promoting genocide. The Supreme Court turned down their appeals for clemency on Oct. 19, 2001, meaning that the three are now awaiting execution. Despite the harsh sentences for those found guilty of provoking riots and murder, the conflict continues and more victims are falling almost by the day. Over the last two weeks alone, scores of people have been killed and hundreds of buildings, including mosques, churches and houses, have been destroyed in an orgy of violence.
AP 6 Dec 2001 Delegation visits Sulawesi to end violence AKARTA, Indonesia: Top Indonesian security officials toured violence-wracked Central Sulawesi province on Wednesday to assess whether martial law is needed to end fighting between Christians and Muslims. The delegation, headed by top security minister Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, arrived at the provincial capital Palu before traveling overland to the coastal town of Poso, the scene of some of the worst bloodshed. Fighting between Muslim and Christian villagers on Sulawesi island, about 1,600 kilometers northeast of Jakarta, has claimed about 1,000 lives in the last two years. In May last year, Christian militiamen massacred about 100 Muslim villagers on the outskirts of Poso. After petering out earlier this year, fighting has flared again recently. At least eight people have been killed in the past week. Thousands have fled their homes. Police spokesman Lt. Col. Agus Sugianto said police and soldiers were patrolling trouble spots on Wednesday but there were no reports of fresh violence. Yudhoyono was scheduled to address religious leaders and local government officials in Poso late on Wednesday. Before he left, Yudhoyono said the government would soon decide where to impose martial law in the region. He also urged security forces to take a tough line on rioters. "It is high time to abandon the disproportionate fear of violating the principles of human rights in taking action against troublemakers," he said as quoted by the state Antara news agency. Sugianto denied reports that the Muslim paramilitary Laskar Jihad group, whose fighters have recently arrived in the region, were behind the renewed violence. All of the 32 people arrested so far over the recent fighting were local men, he said. Laskar Jihad has been blamed for much of a prolonged religious conflict in neighbouring Maluku province, where at least 9,000 people have been killed since 1999. Meanwhile, in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra island, the military said it found seven more bodies following a day of violence on Tuesday, the 25th anniversary of the province's struggle for independence. This brought Tuesday's death toll to 13. Earlier, authorities said six people had been killed. Among the dead was a soldier killed by the rebels, Lt. Col. Agus Permana said. Guerrillas belonging to the Free Aceh Movement have been battling for an independent homeland since December 4, 1976. More than 6,000 people have died in the conflict, including about 1,300 this year.
Jakarta Post 6 Dec 2001 Ministers weigh possible state of emergency in Poso town Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Home Affairs Minister Hari Sabarno have visited Poso, Central Sulawesi, to explore a possible state of civilian emergency to resolve the prolonged sectarian conflict in the regency. Meanwhile, Central Sulawesi Governor Aminuddin Panulele said that the escalating tension over the last two weeks should not be considered a sufficient preliminary condition for declaring a state of emergency. After arriving in Poso, the two ministers held separate meetings with local Muslim leaders and officials before traveling to Tentena, where some 30,000 people have sought refuge following the destruction of their villages. There was a minor disturbance when a number of local Muslims attacked Christian leaders who had come to Poso to escort the ministers to Tentena, which lies some 40 kilometers south of the town. "The priests survived the attack as a number of security personnel arrived at the scene," Rev. Herman, a Catholic priest, told The Jakarta Post by cellular phone from Poso on Wednesday. Following their tour, the two ministers are expected to convey their assessment of the situation to President Megawati Soekarnoputri, to help her decide whether the government should impose a civilian state of emergency in the regency. Scores of people have been killed and hundreds of houses, mosques and churches have been burned down in a wave of violence that has swept the regency over the last two weeks. Sectarian violence first struck the area in 1998, triggered by fierce competition surrounding that year's regent election. The current cycle of violence broke out following the arrival of armed civilian forces from Central and East Java, which coincided with the withdrawal of security personnel after the situation in the regency had begun to return to normal. The conflicting parties have traded threats as the death toll mounts on both sides. The governor said the situation in Poso did not yet meet the preliminary conditions required to declare a state of emergency. "It is not an appropriate time for the government to declare a state of emergency in Poso," Aminuddin told reporters in the provincial capital of Palu on Wednesday. Referring to the emergency law, which had yet to be enforced, the governor said an in-depth study was needed before a state of emergency could be declared. The absence of government activities, a lawless condition and a paralyzed economy were three factors that should be taken into consideration, he said, adding that the situation in Poso did not yet to meet the criteria stipulated by the law. Besides, the police were still investigating those suspected of involvement in the recent killings in the regency, he said. He added that the provincial administration had introduced security and social strategies in handling the sectarian conflict. However, Law No. 20/1959 on states of emergency, which is still in force, allows the government to declare a state of emergency in such a strife-torn territory. In related developments, the six residents of Toyado village who went missing over the weekend were found dead in Poso River on Wednesday. The six went missing and were believed to have been kidnapped by security personnel after they, along with militiamen, attacked the predominantly Christian village. "Serious injuries were found on their bodies, a sign that they were tortured before being killed," Antara quoted witnesses as saying. The six bodies were brought to the Poso General Hospital to undergo autopsies.
AP 3 Dec 2001 Fighting Continues in Indonesia JAKARTA, Indonesia Soldiers patrolled towns and villages on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi Monday as thousands of people continued to flee fighting between Muslims and Christians. Asmara Nababan, a member of the government's National Human Rights Commission, said the situation in central Sulawesi was quickly deteriorating and the violence was continuing despite the patrols. He said the predominantly Christian town of Tentena was surrounded by Muslim fighters who were threatening to attack it. ``The situation is critical,'' Nababan said. ``We are afraid that there is going to be a lot of violence.'' In other towns, including the seaside community of Poso, Muslims had fled their homes and were staying at police stations and military barracks, said a local army officer, Sgt. Burhan. ``It is very tense here. Shops are closed as townsfolk are scared of more trouble,'' said Burhan, who like many Indonesians uses one name. ``Troops are guarding the streets.'' In the latest clash, police shot to death a rioter and wounded five after a Muslim mob attacked a church in Poso on Monday, residents said. Nababan said three human rights investigators were dispatched to the region on Monday to investigate why the ``police and military seemed unable to stop the conflict.'' Fighting between Muslim and Christian villagers in Sulawesi, about 1,000 miles northeast of Jakarta, has claimed at least 1,000 lives in the last two years. After dying down earlier this year, the fighting flared again a few weeks ago. At least eight people have been killed in the past week. Hundreds of extra police and soldiers were recently sent to the region. Analysts say the administration of President Megawati Sukarnoputri has been slow to rein in the militants because she is indebted to conservative Muslim parties that backed her ouster of reformist president Abdurrahman Wahid in July. A Muslim paramilitary group, Laskar Jihad, has been accused of stoking the latest violence in Sulawesi. Hundreds of its followers have traveled to Sulawesi from the nearby Maluku islands, where they were involved in a two-year conflict between Muslims and Christians. An estimated 9,000 people are believed to have been killed in fighting there. Last week, the United Nations warned that increasing tension on Sulawesi could trigger a flood of refugees.
BBC 4 Dec 2001 Afghan fighters 'seen' in Sulawesi Afghans and other foreigners are engaged in battle alongside the Muslim militia fighting Christians in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia, according to a police source. The BBC's Jakarta correspondent, Richard Galpin, said the policeman said he had witnessed Muslim fighters stopping civilians at roadblocks and executing those found to be members of the Christian community. Sectarian violence has escalated in the past few weeks as large numbers of Muslim extremists from other parts of the country have arrived in the province. Indonesia is currently considering imposing a state of emergency on parts of Sulawesi island where thousands of people have fled their homes amid the religious violence. At least seven people have been killed in the past week and hundreds of homes burnt down during clashes between armed Muslim groups and Christians. Foreign fighters Our correspondent says the policeman, a Christian, said he had personally interrogated a group of six foreigners - two Afghans, two Pakistanis and two Arabs - who were detained south of the town of Poso. He said the six claimed to be part of an humanitarian mission but, he said, the authorities remain deeply suspicious of their activities.The policeman said he believed the foreigners were helping to train the Muslim fighters who have been attacking Christian villages around Poso in the past few weeks. Government delegation A high powered government delegation, including several top ministers and the national police chief has now arrived in Sulawesi, and intends to travel to Poso itself later on this week. The government has also pledged to send in about 2,000 extra troops to the region in an attempt to halt the violence, however it remains unclear when they are to arrive. Sectarian fighting Christian groups have accused Muslim paramilitaries of the Laskar Jihad organisation of recently entering the area and stirring up violence.Laskar Jihad has been fighting Christians in the Moluccas islands near Sulawesi since last year. In October, the Java-based leader of the organisation said in a BBC interview that he planned to send hundreds of men to the Poso region. And on Tuesday, a spokesman for the organisation told the BBC that the fighters were in the region to defend the Muslim community which had suffered considerable casualties since the conflicts began. 'Living in fear' In the province of Sulawesi at least 1,000 people have been killed in religious fighting in the last two years. But until fresh violence broke out last week there had been a period of relative calm. In the mainly Christian town of Tentena on Tuesday, people were reported to be getting their weapons ready for attacks by Muslims who have surrounded the village. "People in Tentena and the surrounding areas are now living in fear of more violence," said a Catholic priest in the town, Jimmy Tumbelaka. "There is no sense of security left." In other parts of the region, Muslims have fled their homes fearing attacks by Christians, police said.
Jakarta Post 4 Dec 2001 Tension mounting in Poso ahead of holidays BY Badri Djawara, The Jakarta Post, Palu Tens of thousands of people in Poso, Central Sulawesi were gripped with fresh fears of sectarian battles ahead of Idul Fitri and Christmas as armed Muslim and Christian groups embarked on wave after wave of uncontrolled attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives in recent weeks. The latest clashes occurred in Sepe Village in Silanca subdistrict over the last three days, leaving six people missing and more than 55 houses, two schools and a church burned. The clashes have continued unabated due to a small number of security forces in the village, located only three kilometers south of Poso city, according to authorities in the area. At least three Army personnel were injured in the violence. They were identified as First Lt. Tomy, Second Corporal Arham and First Private Jasman. Tomy was rushed to Palu and later to Jakarta for treatment of serious injuries while the two others were being treated at Poso General Hospital. According to the information at the Provincial Police Headquarters in Palu, the abduction of six Muslim villagers was conducted by supporters of the so-called Christian Red Force in retaliation for a raid by a Muslim group, many believed to be the paramilitary group Laskar Jihad (Holy Warriors), on the village. Muslim leaders, however, in Poso accused the local military of being behind the abductions, but the local military denied the accusation. "The six (Muslims) were kidnapped when they were eating their dawn meal early on Monday," Adnan Arsyal, a Muslim figure in Poso, told The Jakarta Post by telephone here on Monday. The source identified the captors as Lukas and Mathias and called on the local military to return them. He identified the villagers as Hasyim Toana, Iwan, Amran, Aswat, Suaib and Latief. Lt. Col. Samsul Rizal Harahap, chief of the Poso Military District, said he would act appropriately if his men were proven guilty of abducting the six Muslims. He admitted that the local military could not help the local police to restore security and order in the regency because of the lack of personnel. "The Wirabuana Military Command is deploying two battalions (about 1,400) from Gorontalo and Makassar, South Sulawesi, in order to prevent a civil war in the regency," he said, adding that several companies of police personnel were on their way to the regency. The sectarian conflict in the regency has flared up in recent weeks following the influx of thousands of armed Muslim men, said to be Laskar Jihad members, from Central and East Java. More than 150 people have been killed and thousands of houses burned down in clashes between the groups over the last two months. Father Jimmy Tumbelaka in the predominantly Christian Tentena subdistrict, some 40 kilometer south of Poso, said some 50,000 refugees and local people have been gripped by fresh worries of a civil war if the paramilitary fighters forced their way into the town. "The armed militia group has destroyed at least seven (Christian) villages between Poso and Tentena on their way to the town. Their goal is to capture the town and celebrate Idul Fitri there," he said. Jimmy added that the military personnel deployed by the Wirabuana Military Command in South Sulawesi had yet to arrive in the regency while the two warring factions continued their attacks. "The Muslims have threatened to celebrate Idul Fitri in Christian Tentena while the Christians have uttered a similar threat to celebrate Christmas in predominantly Muslim Poso. "And a civil war will likely erupt in Tentena if the Muslim militants attack the town because local people are ready with their traditional weapons to defend the town," he said. Jimmy, also a member of the Inter-religious Clerics Forum in Poso said religious figures have several times met with local security authorities and made a joint communique to halt the conflict but both sides have ignored it. "The most important issue is that security authorities must require the Laskar Jihad to return home, in order to let warring factions participate in reconciliation," he said. More than 2,000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted in 1998 but the situation gradually returned to normal following the deployment of two military battalions to the regency earlier this year. However, the conflict flared up again in November with accusations of the Java-based Laskar Jihad being the main instigators of the violence.
Jakarta Post 4 Dec 2001 Police arrest over 100 Laskar Jihad members, seize weapons JAKARTA (JP): Police said on Sunday that they will intensify searches and arrests on members of a Muslim militant group following some violent clashes on Thursday in the East Java border town of Ngawi. Police had already raided the headquarters of the Islam Community Forum in Ngawi, East Java, on Sunday and found 10 homemade bombs, one homemade handgun, some 50 knives and machetes and about 20 bullets, secretary of East Java Police detective unit Adj. Sr. Comr. Didik Prijandono said. "The knives, the firearm and the bullets were taken to the (provincial) police headquarters while the bombs are at the Ngawi district police station, Didik told the Antara news agency. He said police also arrested 80 people, all members of the Laskar Jihad (Holy Warriors), a militant Muslim organization that regularly sends members to fight alongside Muslims in the provinces of Maluku and Central Sulawesi which have been hit byreligious unrest in recent years. Police on Saturday arrested 23 members of the same force whohad attempted to go to Ngawi by bus from the central Java city of Yogyakarta where the organization has its headquarters. They also confiscated one handgun and several knives from them. "There were many more members of Laskar Jihad from Central Java that we wanted to arrest but they returned to Central Java," Didik said from Surabaya, the capital of East Java. He said East Java police were currently coordinating with their counterparts in Central Java. Antara reported that the latest situation in Ngawi, a town located near the Central Java border, had slowly returned to normal. No casualties were reported in Thursday's raid. The incident in Ngawi was caused by clashes between Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) and Laskar Jihad members took place following violent raids conducted by the Muslim group at nightspots and gambling dens in Ngawi, which wereoperating their businesses during Ramadhan. Upset by the group's violent raid, several members of PDI Perjuangan launched a retaliation attack towards a house belonging to one of the Laskar Jihad leaders, which is also being used as the group's headquarters. A PDI Perjuangan local figure Yuwono Susatyo was reportedly abducted by the militants early on Saturday. Yuwono's whereabouts was still unknown. Witnesses said Yuwono was dragged from his house by a number of people armed with machetes and other sharp weapons. Yuwono's brother, Yuwono Kartiko, said that the abductors had stabbed his brother several times just before they pushed him into a car and fled. "I saw blood dripping from several spots on my brother's body. I don't know what happened to my brother after that. My family is prepared to face the worst possibility regarding this abduction," Kartiko earlier said. Responding to the incident, Religious Affairs Minister Said Agil Al Munawar called on Muslims to calm down and listen to their heart. He said Jihad is allowed in Islam as long is it applied with a universal meaning. "Waging Jihad is allowed as long as it conducted with a universal meaning. It should be conducted with a clean mind, not with emotion," Said was quoted by Antara as saying after inaugurating a Buddhist training center in Semarang regency Central Java on Sunday. On the same occasion the Central Java Military Command Maj. Gen. Sumarsono stated that the security situation on the border of Central Java and East Java is fully under control. "Soon after we heard the report, we took the initiative to intercept the possible mass deployment from Central Java to put down the clashes," Sumarsono told reporters. He said security forces have arrested 38 Laskar Jihad members from Magelang, Yogyakarta and Solo who were apparently intending to travel to Ngawi to fight alongside their colleagues.
AP 1 Dec 2001 Thousands of Indonesia Christians Flee JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Thousands of Christian villagers on Indonesia's Sulawesi island are fleeing attacks by armed Muslim paramilitaries, clerics and media reports said Saturday. Refugees are being housed in churches and government buildings, said Langgino Sangkide, a Roman Catholic priest from the town of Tentena. ``Thousands have fled,'' he said Saturday. ``What could they do? Their houses have been burned. The police came yesterday, but it was too late.'' The Jakarta Post newspaper reported that hundreds of homes in settlements around the coastal town of Poso had been destroyed by uniformed members of the Laskar Jihad militia group. Fighting between Muslim and Christian villagers in Sulawesi, about 1,000 miles northeast of Jakarta, has claimed at least 1,000 lives in the last two years. Dozens have been killed in recent weeks. Laskar Jihad, based on Java island, has been accused of stoking a sectarian conflict in eastern Maluku province that has claimed about 9,000 lives since 1999. A militia spokesman in Jakarta confirmed the group had been involved in fighting in the region but refused to comment on the latest reports. The group's Web site claimed that attacks on Muslims were being organized by Christian priests. The Jakarta Post quoted Sulewesi's Roman Catholic bishop, Josef Suwatan, as saying armed militiamen had used bulldozers to destroy homes, churches and schools. The United Nations has warned that increasing tension in the region could trigger a flood of refugees. At least 50,000 people have already been displaced. Suwatan appealed to the government to restore law and order in the region. The government of President Megawati Sukarnoputri has been reluctant to rein in Muslim militants. Analysts say Megawati is indebted to conservative Muslim parties that supported her campaign to oust reformist president Abdurrahman Wahid in July. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation. Nearly 85 percent of its 203 million people are Muslim. The rest are Christian, Hindu or Buddhist. Three more dead as Aceh raids intensify BANDA ACEH, Aceh (JP): At least three people were killed as military and police intensified operations in Aceh ahead of a commemoration, which has caused anxiety among villagers, the military said on Sunday. The heightened assaults come as security forces anticipate planned celebrations by separatists to observe their unrecognized independence which falls on Dec. 4. The three men who were shot dead on Saturday during a military operation in North Kluet regency, South Aceh district, were reportedly members of the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), according to military operations chief Major Edi Sulistiadie. "The Indonesian Military (TNI) has confiscated an AK-47 rifle, two camouflaged army-style Jeeps and one radio," he said. The battle, involving about 270 soldiers, resulted in a shoot-out lasting some 20 minutes. But GAM spokesman Abu Cut Ali could not immediately confirm that the victims were rebels, arguing that the military fired shots randomly at villagers. Civilians were worried about possible clashes between troops and rebels when the security forces stepped up raids on villages, believed to be strongholds of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM)guerrillas. Villagers in the suburban areas of the capital Banda Aceh said they saw GAM guerrillas leaving the jungles to buy food at markets located near tightly-guarded security posts. "We get very anxious when armed contact occurs because it usually victimizes civilians. If they become victims, nobody will claim responsibility," a resident, who declined to be named, told The Jakarta Post. Local military officials had said they would not allow GAM to hold a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of their self-proclaimed independence on Tuesday. Villagers have been warned against attending such an event, should it happen. Lt. Col. Firdaus Komarno, spokesman for Aceh's military field operations, said the Army and police would be sweeping villages, where GAM members would most likely celebrate their independence ceremony. He also warned journalists not to get too close to any ceremony on Dec. 4 in order to avoid casualties. "We don't want to see journalists or civilians becoming victims," he said. Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh called on local people on Saturday night to avoid provoking clashes between separatists and security forces. "If the GAM or civilians commit an action against the law, the security forces will act against them," Puteh said, while adding that drivers should continue operating their public transport vehicles on Tuesday. "There is no need to cease routine activities because government troops will protect them (civilians)," he added. The government last week vowed to get tough with the separatists across the country. Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Bambang Susilo Yudhoyono said the government will no longer tolerate separatism and that a total of 50 battalions, or some 32,500 men, will be deployed to independence-minded areas across the archipelago including Aceh.Jakarta Post 1 Dec 2001 Poso refugees in grave danger as mobs threaten National News - December 01, 2001 Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta An estimated 50,000 mainly Christian refugees fleeing brutal sectarian violence in Central Sulawesi could be attacked in the absence of military or police protection, a Catholic priest in the area says. Other eyewitness accounts point to scores of dead and thousands of mainly-Christian homes destroyed at the hands of well organized, uniformed militia equipped with machine-guns, rocket launchers and even bulldozers. Father Jimmy, told The Jakarta Post by telephone from Tentena, about 40 kilometers south of Poso town, on Friday that more than 50,000 residents and refugees were in danger of fresh attacks after extremist militia bombarded the villages of Betalemba, Patiwunga, Tangkura, Sanginora and Debua over the last three days. "All houses and other buildings in Sanginora and Debua were flattened when the terrorist groups attacked the two villages on Thursday. They are nearing Tentena where around 50,000 villagers from Betalemba, Patiwunga and Tangkura are taking refuge," he said. He said the militiamen would easily capture Tentena as only a dozen security personnel were stationed in the subdistrict while a score of security personnel from the Palu Military District and the Police's Mobile Brigade had already pulled out because of a lack of logistical supports from the Poso administration. Father Jimmy said the local administration had "allowed" militiamen to destroy predominantly Catholic Tentena to make it similar with predominantly Muslim Poso which had been destroyed in the past. He said local religious leaders and security authorities needed to hold immediate talks to reconcile and work out emergency steps needed to halt the conflict. Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Manado Bishop Mgr. Josef Suwatan OSC called on the central government and security forces to reign in the armed civilian militias conducting a terror campaign in Central Sulawesi. "The civilian militias have killed many local people and burned down thousands of houses and churches in five villages located between Poso and Tentena over the last three days," the bishop told the Post here on Thursday. Mgr. Suwatan was here to meet government and security officials to draw attention to the prolonged sectarian conflict that has claimed more than 2,000 lives since it erupted three years ago. The Manado Diocese supervising North Sulawesi, Gorontalo and northern Central Sulawesi, has established a crisis center with Muslim and Christian faiths to help end the bloody violence. "All forms of violence must be halted against local people, regardless their religion or race," the bishop said. Mgr. Suwatan questioned the absence of efforts between the central government and security authorities to restore law and order in the regency, saying the extremist groups freely killed local people and destroyed villages. He claimed the campaign was aimed at destroying communities and cultures in the area as the armed militiamen targeted people, homes, churches, mosques and school buildings. The bishop said hundreds of militiamen using military uniforms had launched well-organized raids on villages whose populations mainly comprised Christian people. The rebels, mostly from East Java, were equipped with AK-47 guns, rocket launchers, bulldozers and circular saws. "Both the Police and the Indonesian Military should immediately take tight measures to control the militiamen and disarm local people," he said. Poso Regent Muin Pusadat was not available for comment on Friday.
Jakarta Post 29 Nov 2001 5 killed in fresh Poso communal conflict National News - November 29, 2001 Badri Djawara, The Jakarta Post, Poso At least five people were killed and five others were injured when two rival sectarian groups clashed in the Central Sulawesi riot-torn town of Poso late on Tuesday. The clash between the Muslim Laskar Jihad (holy war fighters) and Christian fighters occurred in Tabalu, Betalemba and Patiunga villages in Poso Pesisir district, Poso Regency. The clash was apparently a continuation of a riot between the two rival groups in Betalemba village on Tuesday afternoon. Sources at the Poso Police precinct said that two of the dead were identified as 29-year-old Abdullah and 14-year-old Masudin from Laskar Jihad and 26-year-old Saad from the same group, who suffered gunshot wounds. The sources said the other three dead and four wounded were from the Christian side. The sources, however, did not identify them. At least 76 houses, one church and one elementary school building were burned during the clash in Betalemba village. In Patiunga village, ten houses were also burned in the riot. The tragic clash prompted a wave of people to leave their home villages for safer areas. Some of them left for the provincial capital Palu and others to nearby villages. Chief spokesman of the Central Sulawesi Police, Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Sugianto said that the three villages had been plagued by renewed religious tension when 800 to 1,000 people crowded the villages on Tuesday afternoon. Poso police, he said, had deployed dozens of officers from the police elite Mobile Brigade to the troubled villages. "By (Wednesday), the police had managed to control the situation," he said. Agus said that they had not yet been able to arrest any member of the rival groups involved in the clash. "Besides we were outnumbered, the group members were very quick to flee into the jungle to avoid the police," he said. He also said that chief of the provincial police Brig. Gen. Zainal Abidin was in Poso to monitor the situation.
AFP 28 Nov 2001 -- Attacks on Christian villages in Sulawesi leave five dead: report JAKARTA, Nov 28 (AFP) - Five people have been killed during attacks on three Christian villages in the Poso district of Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province, a newspaper said Wednesday. The attacks on the villages of Betalemba, Tangkura and Patiwunga started on Tuesday morning and lasted into the early hours of Wednesday, the Sinar Harapan evening daily said. Two of the attackers and three villagers were killed, it said. Second Sergeant Sudirman of Poso district police said the attackers were suspected members of armed Muslim groups but he had no further details.
Jakarta Post 28 Nov 2001 Clash erupts after church burned in troubled Poso National News - November 28, 2001 Badri Djawara, The Jakarta Post, Poso Fresh religious fighting broke out in the Central Sulawesi riot-torn town of Poso on Tuesday in retaliation to the earlier bombing and burning of a church by rival Muslims in the regency, police said. No casualties were reported, but the town was plagued by renewed religious tensions over the clash between Muslims and Christians. The riot lasted for more than one hour, from 2:30 p.m., at Betalemba village in Poso regency. As local authorities subsequently imposed tighter security, the situation remained tense. Poso Police precinct chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Unggung Cahyono immediately went to the riot site, his staff said. "It is true there was a clash in Betalemba. Pak Cahyono is heading there," a police officer told The Jakarta Post. Witnesses said the fighting was triggered by the burning of the Betany Church, located on Jl Kalimantan, around 50 meters from the Poso regent's official residence. Early on Monday, one of the large churches in Poso was bombed and burned to the ground, allegedly by a Muslim mob. Despite the huge blast, there were no reports of casualties during the incident, which caused an estimated loss of tens of millions of rupiah. The attack destroyed the roof and walls of the bombed church. Witnesses said there was no immediate clash after the huge blast, as security forces quickly arrived to control the situation. A witness said the bombing of the church occurred one day after a neighboring house was set ablaze by unidentified persons, who are still at large. Cahyono said the police had yet to identify and arrest the suspected bombers. He said the church was burned down following the arrival of Muslim paramilitary fighters in the regency. However, members of Laskar Jihad (holy war fighters) denied being responsible for the bombing. "Why should we bomb a church? It could even disadvantage our struggle," one Laskar Jihad fighter said. Last Saturday, two residents, Wisnu and Samsuddin, sustained serious gunshot wounds after being involved in a shooting incident with a group of unidentified people on Jl Kalimantan. The two victims are still undergoing intensive medical treatment at the Poso public hospital. More than 2,000 people have been killed since the sectarian conflict exploded in May, 2000, and dozens from the two conflicting groups have been put in jail for their involvement in the killings. Fabianus Tibo, 55, Marianus Riwu, 43, and Dominggus da Silva, 37, were sentenced to death after they were found guilty of committing a series of mass killings between May 2000 and June 2000. The Supreme Court rejected the trio's appeal recently.
AFP 26 Nov 2001 -- Indonesia to deploy some 32,500 security forces to conflict areas JAKARTA, Indonesia is to deploy some 50 battalions of police and soldiers -- around 32,500 men -- in areas of conflict including Aceh and Irian Jaya where separatist pressure is rising, the military's spokesman said Monday. Rear Air Marshal Graito Usodo, confirming reported comments by the top security minister, said the military and police had been asked to prepare 50 battalions for deployment. "They will be sent to face rising problems in the field, especially (those) linked to national disintegration," he said. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, was quoted by the Media Indonesia daily as unveiling the plan during a discussion on national disintegration in East Java on Sunday. "This is solely to accelerate the process of a peaceful settlement to the conflicts, especially in Aceh and Irian Jaya," Yudhoyono was quoted as saying. Graito said troops would be sent from the main island of Java and also from regions bordering restive areas. He said the total figure would include replacement of forces which have served for a long time in troubled districts. Yudhoyono was quoted as saying that the deployment would be the largest in the country's history but was necessary to end the conflicts. Yudhoyono cited Aceh and Irian Jaya, and other conflict areas such as Maluku, North Maluku and Poso where Muslims and Christians have been battling. He also mentioned Sambas in West Kalimantan where bloody violence between indigenous Dayak tribes and migrants from Madura island broke out. Yudhoyono said that no government would allow the disintegration of a nation but peaceful means would be sought to settle the conflicts. "We should all together think to achieve a peaceful process to settle these conflicts. We are ready to hold dialogues, including with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), but they should remain within the framework of a unitary state," he was quoted as saying. The GAM has been fighting for a free Islamic state in Aceh since 1976. More than 1,600 people have been killed this year alone. Jakarta in June arrested the GAM's six negotiatiors on conspiracy charges. Police have said that they could be released on orders from Jakarta except for one who is suspected of document falsification. The six negotiators had taken part in talks facilitated by the Geneva-based Henri Dunand Center for two years. Jakarta unilaterally halted the talks earlier this year. Yudhoyono said troops to be deployed in Aceh would have high integrity and good communication skills. "Of course, we could just launch a military operation, using the Kopassus or Kostrad (elite forces) and everything will be settled quickly. But there would be more victims from unrelated sides." In Irian Jaya police are still investigating the murder of independence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay. He was found dead in his car on November 11 after apparently being abducted by unknown men the previous evening. The Free Papua Movement has been waging a sporadic and mainly small-scale insurgency since the former Dutch territory came under Indonesian rule in 1963.
AFP 29 Dec 2001 Iraq notifies UN of 1.6 million sanctions-related deaths BAGHDAD, Baghdad has notified the United Nations that 1.6 million Iraqis have died from diseases which could not be treated because of the embargo imposed on the country since 1990, the official INA news agency said Saturday. Statistics communicated to the UN sanctions committee on Friday showed that "1,614,303 people ... including 667,773 children aged under five" died as a result of sanctions from August 1990 until end November 2001, INA said. The deaths were caused by "various diseases and epidemics" resulting mainly from a lack of medical supplies, it said. Iraq's health ministry said on December 15 that more than 31,000 people, including more than 21,000 children aged under five, died from September through November from various diseases caused by malnutrition and medical shortages. Sanctions have been imposed on Iraq since its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait. An "oil-for-food" program allows Iraq to sell oil under UN supervision to buy essential goods, but Baghdad complains that the program does not meet its people's needs and is demanding a total lifting of the embargo.
AFP 1 Dec 200 Iraq accepts extension of "oil-for-food" program but frowns on review list by Farouk Choukri BAGHDAD, Dec 1 (AFP) - Iraq accepts the extension of the "oil-for-food" program by the UN Security Council for another six months but will not agree to a new goods-review list designed to block imports with a military potential, Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said Saturday. Iraq "will continue to implement the memorandum of understanding for an 11th phase as an extraordinary and temporary measure, not as a substitute for the lifting of sanctions," Sabri said in the first official reaction to the UN's renewal of the oil-for-food program on Thursday. But Baghdad will not agree to any change in the 1996 memorandum, which established the humanitarian program, or any new restrictions on Iraqi trade, such as those featured in the goods-review list mentioned in the Security Council's renewal, Sabri said in a statement to reporters. The 15-member Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to renew the oil-for-food program for 180 days to May 30, 2002, and on that date to adopt a goods-review list designed to prevent Baghdad from importing items with a military potential. The new resolution reaffirms the council's commitment to a "comprehensive settlement" of the Iraq problem "including any clarification necessary for the implementation of Resolution 1284." That 1999 resolution offered an eventual suspension of 11-year-old UN sanctions on Iraq in exchange for the return of UN arms inspectors to the country but was rejected by Baghdad. A lifting of the embargo on Iraq is an "obligation for the Security Council as per its (own) resolutions," Sabri said. "The Iraqi government also affirms that attempts to impose new constraints, in the present or future, on Iraq's trade or on its legitimate rights to economic and scientific development and to the preservation of its security and sovereignty, such as those featured in the goods-review list ... will be totally rejected by Iraq," he said. The new resolution opens the way to a reform of the sanctions regime, which had been rejected by Baghdad and blocked by Security Council member Russia last July when the US and Britain proposed revamping the embargo to turn it into so-called "smart sanctions." The resolution says the review list and the procedures for using it will take effect on May 30 "subject to any refinements to them agreed by the council in the light of further consultations." Iraq will not be allowed to import anything on the list without the council's approval, but will be able to freely import everything else, one UN diplomat said. That would in effect abolish the 11-year-old embargo on civilian trade and make the oil-for-food program redundant. Earlier Saturday, an official Iraqi newspaper scoffed at the Security Council's professed concern for the Iraqi people's humanitarian needs, warning that Baghdad could revoke contracts awarded under the "oil-for-food" program. "Another Security Council resolution was passed against Iraq; another political deal was struck among the permanent members of the Security Council paid for in Iraqi lives," the English-language Iraq Daily said. "Yet, the Security Council (continues to) speak of the Iraqi people's 'humanitarian needs'," wrote the paper's editor Nasra al-Sadoon. If some parties are putting pressure to prolong "oil-for-food" indefinitely because the arrangement has created "new interests" for them, they should reconsider their position, since they are "participating in the crime of perpetuating the mass murder of Iraqis," Sadoon said. "Those who participate, directly or indirectly, in the genocide perpetrated against Iraqis will be sorry for (having taken this) position. If Iraq has awarded contracts to some, these contracts could be withdrawn," she said. "The double standard, rhetoric and ambiguous language of the Security Council have been used for more than 11 years to kill more and more Iraqis," Sadoon charged.
AFP 28 Dec 2001 After 15 months of intifada, Oslo accords seem very distant by Claire Snegaroff JERUSALEM, Dec 29 (AFP) - After 15 months of Israeli-Palestinian violence and with a political resolution only the faintest of hopes, the Oslo accords of 1993 seem a distant memory, though they made their mark in history. For those who are opposed to the agreements ever seeing the full light of day, they remain unfulfilled, with little hope of success. Responsibility for that rests first and foremost with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who bluntly declared in October that the (Oslo) agreements were "dead." However, Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority still insists on the accords being put into effect, while the Palestinian opposition, headed by the Islamist movements, reputes any value they may have. The agreements,signed in Washington on September 13, 1993 by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), set out a formula for the Palestinians and Israelis to reach a final agreement on the status of the Palestinian territories by May 1999, on the basis of mutual recognition. In September 1999, a new agreement signed in Sharm el-Sheikh by Labour Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat laid down the groundwork for a final agreement to be reached by September 13, 2000. In the meantime, Israeli-Palestinian negotiations conducted under the auspices of then US president Bill Clinton ran aground over the controversial issues of the status of Jerusalem and the refugee issue. Then, at the end of September 2000, the intifada erupted. For the architect of the Oslo accords, Labour deputy Yossi Beilin, the failure of the Oslo process is laid squarely at the door of Benjamin Netanyahu, who was prime minister from 1996 to 1999. "I would not say that the Palestinians bear no responsibility for the failure but Benjamin Netanyahu did everything possible to kill the Oslo process," he told AFP. Mutual confidence, which formed the backbone of the agreement, was shattered. Even before the outbreak of the intifada, the Palestinians complained that Israel had reneged on its side of the deal by increasing its settlements, with the number of settlers doubling from the 1993 figure to over 200,000. Despite their expansionism, many Israelis claim to doubt Palestinian intentions, accusing Arafat of failing to renounce the goal of destroying the Jewish state. "The Oslo principle based on trust was a mistake," says political analyst Ghassan Khatib. "We were expecting people to fall into one another's arms prior to resolving the root causes of the conflict, while what was needed was to address the central issues." The Oslo process has nevertheless left imprints that even the rightwing, albeit opposed to the agreeements, cannot wholeheartedly contest. In 1994, Yasser Arafat returned to Gaza after 27 years of exile. Elected to the presidency, he heads the Palestinian Authority, which today controls fully or partially 42 percent of the West Bank and more than 70 percent of the Gaza Strip. Even if Yasser Arafat is considered "irrelevant" by the Sharon government, which has placed him under virtual house arrest in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority he heads is still the only negotiating partner for Israel. And even if military incursions have become commonplace since Sharon's arrival in power in February, no Israeli government has dared question the border issue with the Palestinian territories, nor seek to suppose a permanent return by the Jewish state's army into autonomous Palestinian lands.
AFP 12 Dec 2001 Four killed, 17 wounded as Israeli helicopters pound Khan Yunis by Sakher Abu El Oun GAZA CITY, Dec 12 (AFP) - Four Palestinian civilians were killed Tuesday and at least 17 wounded when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at a security building in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medical sources said. Three of the dead were indentified as Said Abu Setta, 40, Yasser Hassan Abu Namus, 26 and Ibrahim al-Assar, 20. A fourth civilian died of his wounds under hospital care. Hospital officials had earlier described two of the 17 injured Palestinians -- which included both police and civilians -- as being in a critical condition. Late on Tuesday two Israeli gunships hovering over the Palestinian Authority's national security building fired three rockets at the site, causing severe damage to the building and several others in the vicinity. A half-hour later the helicopters returned and fired two more rockets at the building, which in located in a residential part of the self-rule city in southern Gaza. Witnesses said the second raid hit an adjacent refugee camp, and said there were a large number of victims because the attack coincided with the end of evening prayers. They said the Palestinian security forces had quickly eveacuated the area when they heard the sound of approaching Apache helicopters. An Israeli army source said the military had detected "terrorists" in the area. "An army force identified a group of terrorists which opened fire at an army outpost in the center of Gush Katif settlement bloc. Helicopter forces returned fire and identified a hit," the source said. The army also claimed that the "rockets were not fired at buildings." In a statement, the Palestinian Authority deplored what it said was the "silence" of the international community over continued Israeli raids. "Israel continues to pursue its aggression even though the Palestinians are respecting a ceasefire," the Palestinian leadership said in a statement carried by the official WAFA agency. "We ask ourselves if the Palestinian people will still accept seeing their children die while the international community stays silent in the face of Israeli aggression." The four deaths bring the overall death toll from the Intifada, which began in September 2000, to 1,071 -- including 825 Palestinians and 223 Israelis. Meanwhile late Tuesday, Israeli tanks made an incursion into the area, approaching to within 500 metres of the Khan Younis cemetery and opening fire on several buildings, witnesses and Palestinian security sources said. The area is situated close to Israeli settlements. The attacks followed a call for calm by US envoy Anthony Zinni during a joint security meeting between the sides on Tuesday. Zinni asked Israel to refrain from attacking Palestinian targets for another 48 hours to give the Palestinians a chance to crack down on extremist groups, Israeli security sources said. However, a statement issued by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office followed saying: "Israel with reply to every mortar bomb fired and every other act of terror. "Israel with continue to act responsibly in order to avoid further escalation in the situation," it said.
AFP 9 Dec 2001 Sharon accused over Israeli killing of four policemen The Palestinian Authority has condemned the overnight ambush and killing of four unarmed Palestinian Authority police officers by Israeli soldiers in the north of the West Bank. The Palestinian information minister, Mr Yasser Abed Rabbo, claimed it was a premeditated act and directly blamed the Israeli prime minister, Mr Ariel Sharon, for what he termed a criminal action. The attack happened after the Israeli army occupied Palestinian-controlled Anabta and nearby Ramim, occupying a building belonging to the personal guard of the Palestinian leader, Mr Yasser Arafat, and arresting Palestinians. The officers were travelling in a jeep when the Israeli soldiers opened fired on them without warning. They were all hit in the head. An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that an operation had been carried out in the two places to "stop Palestinians involved in terrorist activities" and said the operation would continue until the mission was completed. A fifth Palestinian, a taxi driver, was also shot dead by a heavy machinegun fire from an Israeli tank on the edge of the West Bank town of Jenin on Sunday. Mr Abed Rabbo said the killings were "aimed at disrupting all regional and international peace efforts, particularly American efforts to find acceptable solutions to the current crisis." "The American administration must adopt a balanced position," he said. "How can the Palestinian Authority come under (Israeli) attack against its institutions, and assassinations of its members, and still carry out the task of restoring security and stability?" Last Wednesday, Israel gave Arafat an ultimatum to round up Islamic militants or face unrelenting attacks on his institutions. It has launched several air strikes since then, in particular destroying the Palestinian police headquarters in Gaza City. The Israeli attacks have been roundly condemned by the international comunity with the exception of the US which stated Israel had the right to ‘self-defence’. "Israeli demands that the Palestinian Authority meet its obligations are only a political trap into which the United States, unfortunately, fell," Mr Abed Rabbo said. "We urge the international community to intervene immediately to put an end to Israeli crimes and massacres against the Palestinian people ... by sending international observers to protect them against those crimes," he said.
Jerusalem Post 3 Dec 2001 15 killed in Haifa suicide bus bombing By David Rudge HAIFA (December 3) - Fifteen people were killed yesterday when a suicide bomber detonated the bomb he was wearing after boarding a crowded bus near the center of Haifa's Hadar neighborhood. Thirty-eight people were wounded in the attack, several of them seriously. The dead identified by last night were Ricki Hadad, 30, of Yokne'am; and Haifaites Ronen Chalon, 30, Ina Frenkel, 60, and Michael Zariaski, 71. Many of those killed remained unidentified by press time, and police appealed to the public to notify them or the L. Greenberg Institute for Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir if they were aware of any missing relatives. The dead included at least one Filipino worker. Hamas claimed responsibility for the Haifa blast, while Hizbullah's radio and television stations expressed support for the attacks. The bombing occurred shortly after noon, when an Egged No. 16 bus traveling from the Neveh Sha'anan district to Hadar was blown apart while passing through the mixed Jewish-Arab Halissa district. The explosion came moments after the Hamas suicide bomber boarded the bus, paid the driver with a large bill, then blew himself up as the driver asked him to collect his change. The bombing occurred on Rehov Hagiborim, the scene of one of the fiercest battles to liberate Haifa in the 1948 War of Independence. The area also happens to be one of the most symbolic in the city in terms of coexistence between Jews and Arabs, who roundly condemned what they described as a cowardly attack. Within minutes of the explosion, fleets of Magen David Adom ambulances, police, and Fire and Rescue Service personnel arrived. The area was cordoned off as police sappers combed the bus and the area for any other bombs. The one worn by the suicide bomber was composed of at least 10 kilograms of explosives and packed with nails, screws, and nuts to cause maximum casualties. The wounded were taken to Haifa's three main hospitals, Rambam, Bnei Zion (Rothschild), and Carmel. Of the 14 taken to Rambam, one was pronounced dead on arrival and two, who were in critical condition, died before they could be treated. Another two remained in critical condition last night; the remainder were said to be suffering from light to moderate wounds. Most of those taken to the other hospitals were suffering from relatively light wounds or from shock. Northern region police chief Cmdr. Ya'acov Borovsky noted that there had been three attacks in the region - in Afula on Tuesday, near Pardess Hanna on Thursday, and yesterday in Haifa. He said that police had taken in to account the possibility that there might be more suicide attacks on buses following the one near the IDF's training base near Pardess Hanna. Nevertheless, it was impossible to guarantee 100 percent security, he said. Similar comments were made by Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky, who was among those who went to the scene and later visited the wounded in the hospitals. Health Minister Nissim Dahan, who also visited the wounded in Rambam, called for the army to reenter Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, in what appeared to be agreement among the Shas Knesset faction members, in consultation with spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. "I want to remind everybody that as long as the IDF was in the [PA] cities and encircled these areas, we did not witness attacks of this nature," said Dahan. "The fact that we showed willingness to give the population the opportunity to go to work gave rise to a situation which enabled terrorists to reach the population centers in Israel and carry out these large-scale attacks. "In weighing the killings against the resumption of the encirclements, we have no choice but to recommend to the government to resume the encirclements. "The other thing that I recommended to the prime minister in a phone call is to request the US envoy Anthony Zinni return to the US and conduct his inquiries from there, because as long as he stays in the region, it raises the desire of [radical Palestinian elements] to carry out terror attacks," said Dahan.
AFP 2 Dec 2001 -- UN envoy fears "war-like" state in Middle East GAZA CITY, Dec 2 (AFP) - The United Nation's special coordinator for the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, fears the unprecedented series of Palestinian suicide attacks against Israel could lead to a "war-like" state, a spokesman said Sunday. "Such catastrophic events as which happened last night and today have made the situation so bad and so desperate that it might quickly lead to a war-like situation, including a civil war-like situation," the spokesman quoted Roed-Larsen as saying. He was referring to the possibility the attacks could create an open and armed conflict between radical Islamic militant groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Yasser Arafat's Palestinian leadership, which declared a state of emergency Sunday in their wake. Such a conflict in the Palestinian territories could ultimately lead to an all-out war between Palestinians and Israelis, he said. "If it becomes a war-like situation it won't be just isolated, the critical mass becomes in effect a war between Palestinians and Israelis," Roed-Larsen warned. The spokesman added that Roed-Larsen, currently in Norway, strongly condemned the three "murderous" attacks over the past 24 hours which have left 28 people dead and more than 210 wounded. The armed wing of Hamas on Sunday claimed the unprecedented series of attacks, namely a triple bombing in the heart of Jerusalem, a suicide bombing in the northern port city of Haifa, and a shooting attack against Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, claimed two other suicide atttacks this week. One of its members detonated explosives on a bus in Pardes Hanna in northern Israel on Thursday, killing three Israelis as well as himself and wounding another six in a massive explosion. Two days earlier, an Islamic Jihad gunman, joined by another from an armed offshoot of Arafat's Fatah movement, opened fire at a bus station in northern Israel, killing two Israelis and wounded more than two dozen others before being shot dead. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad are opposed to the very existence of Israel, demanding the Jewish state be replaced with an Islamic country stretching from Jordan to the Mediterranean.
WP 2 Dec 2001 Suicide Bombers Blast Jerusalem Mall By Lee Hockstader Page A01 JERUSALEM, Dec. 2 (Sunday) – A pair of Palestinian suicide bombers carried out a synchronized attack in the heart of Jerusalem late Saturday, killing at least eight people and injuring scores of mostly teenage revelers. About 20 minutes later, a car bomb was detonated a block away, injuring a dozen more people as ambulances and police cars continued to arrive on the scene. Police said the car in which the bomb exploded had apparently transported the bombers and their accomplices. The attack was one of the most devastating in the past 14 months of violence here, targeting one of the busiest intersections in the city – and one of the most heavily policed – at the busiest time of the week. Hundreds of Israeli youngsters, and some Jewish Americans, had converged on Zion Square tonight as they do almost every Saturday night after the end of the Jewish Sabbath. They were milling around coffee shops, bagel stands and snack bars when the suicide bombers struck, perhaps 50 yards and seconds apart. In a flash, a rowdy tableau of flirting, chatting and skateboarding teenagers was transformed into a bloodbath. The explosives, packed with nails and screws, were designed to inflict the maximum possible harm, according to Israeli police. "People were screaming, they were running and falling and crying," said Etti Cohen, 20, an off-duty soldier who was out having fun. "It happened so fast. One minute people were just hanging out, some religious people were playing religious music. Then all of a sudden, boom!" Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was reportedly planning to cut short a visit to the United States, meeting with President Bush at the White House on Sunday instead of Monday so he could return home sooner. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who is acting prime minister in Sharon's absence, said: "This is a terrible attack. This attacks the heart of the people." The bombings coincided with the arrival of the Bush administration's new Middle East envoy, retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who is leading Washington's first major drive for peace here in months. On Friday, Zinni condemned the week's previous attacks inside Israel, which he said were aimed at wrecking his mission. About 170 people were wounded in Saturday's blasts and at least 11 people were said to be in critical condition, suggesting the death toll may rise. Even if it does not, the attack is one of the bloodiest in months, and ranks with two previous suicide bombings, in Tel Aviv and in Jerusalem, as the worst since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000. It was the third major terrorist attack by Palestinians inside Israel in the past week, including a bus bombing Thursday and a shooting Tuesday, both in northern Israel. Together with Saturday's bombings, at least 15 Israelis have been killed in the attacks, in addition to the Palestinian assailants. The latest attacks followed Israel's assassination of a top commander from the radical Islamic group Hamas, which vowed to take revenge inside Israel. No Palestinian group took responsibility immediately for Saturday's bombings, but Israeli officials said they appeared to be the work of the Hamas, which has carried out many previous similar attacks. In Gaza City, Abdel Aziz Rantissi, a senior spokesman for Hamas, said: "As you know, we are under [Israeli] occupation, the worst kind of occupation and slavery. The Jews are terrorists, the Jews are killing our children, we are in confrontation with the terrorism of the Jews, so we are defending ourselves." Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, saying it was designed to torpedo Zinni's mission. "The Palestinian Authority forcefully condemns the attacks that were carried out tonight in Jerusalem," it said in a statement. "The goal of these attacks has been to destroy the American peace efforts. These attacks cause great damage to our people in international public opinion and the Palestinian Authority will do everything in its power to catch those responsible. It pays its condolences to the Israeli people." Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer convened top security and army officials to consider Israel's response to the bombings. Most of the past attacks have elicited tough military reprisals, including, on two occasions, the use of F-16 bombers. Anticipating Israeli counterattack, Palestinian security officials ordered the evacuation of offices, police posts and other positions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For hours after the blasts, stunned, weeping and angry Israelis wandered through downtown Jerusalem, herded this way and that by police concerned about the possibility of additional bombs. Many pedestrians were trying to call their friends and relatives to make sure they were still alive, but cell phone networks were crashing and difficult to use. One middle-aged woman shouted, "Death to the leftists!" at no one in particular. "I heard a sound like a firecracker, a sputtering, then there was a big boom," said Nir Ladeni, who is in his twenties. "Then, like two seconds later, I heard another like that, boom, boom." A security guard from a nearby hospital, Bikur Holim, who identified himself as Sami, said he had rushed to Zion Square just minutes after the explosions. "I saw body parts," he said, still shaking slightly 40 minutes later. "It smelled like everything was burning. I held one teenaged guy whose body was torn to apart. He was just a boy, maybe 18, and he was missing one of his arms." As flames shot 15 feet in the air from the car bomb, scores of people raced through the streets, screaming and holding their heads. But there also was a concerted attempt to rescue and treat the wounded even in the few minutes before the ambulances arrived. In the chilly air, young men ripped up their shirts to fashion tourniquets for wounds. One bar owner said he made a tourniquet from the tape of a videocassette. Special Jewish religious volunteers scoured the scene for every scrap of flesh, as is required for a proper Jewish burial.
AP 1 Dec 2001 Major Blasts Since '93 Peace Accord The Associated Press A list of some of the largest bomb attacks since the Israel-Palestinian peace accord was signed in 1993: 1994 April 6, 1994 – Palestinian parks car rigged with explosives next to bus in Afula, in northern Israel. Nine Israelis killed. Militant Muslim group Hamas claims responsibility. Oct. 19, 1994 – Palestinian suicide bomber kills 22 Israelis in bus explosion in Tel Aviv. Hamas claims responsibility. 1995 Jan. 22, 1995 –Two Palestinians blow themselves up at the Beit Lid junction in central Israel, killing 21 Israelis. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility. April 9, 1995 –Two Palestinians blow themselves up outside two Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, killing seven Israeli soldiers and an American. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim responsibility.1996 Feb. 25, 1996 – Palestinian suicide bombers blow up bus in Jerusalem and soldiers' hitchhiking post in coastal city of Ashkelon, killing 24 Israelis, two Americans and a Palestinian. Hamas claims responsibility. March 3, 1996 – Bus bomb in Jerusalem kills at least 18 people, including six Romanians and two Palestinians. Hamas claimed responsibility. March 4, 1996 – Suicide bomber blows himself up outside a Tel Aviv shopping center, killing at least 14 people. 1997 July 30, 1997 – Two bombers kill themselves and 15 others in an outdoor Jerusalem market. Leaflet signed by Hamas' military wing claims responsibility. Sept. 4, 1997 – Three suicide bombs explode, one after the other, in Jerusalem's main outdoor shopping mall, killing 4 people. 2001 June 1, 2001 – Suicide bomber blows himself up outside Tel Aviv nightclub, killing himself and 21 others. Aug. 9, 2001 – A suicide bomber kills 15 people in Jerusalem pizza restaurant. Sept. 9, 2001 – The first Israeli-Arab suicide bomber blows himself up at a railroad station in northern Israel, killing three others. Nov. 29, 2001 – A suicide bomber blows himself up on board a bus on a main highway in Israel's north, killing three passengers. Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for the attack. Dec. 1, 2001 – Two suicide bombers blow themselves up in back-to-back explosions at a downtown Jerusalem pedestrian mall, killing at least 10 bystanders.
Reuters 6 Dec 2001 Malaysia film director rues censor's knife 06 December, 2001 04:28 GMT Email this article Printer friendly version By Patrick Chalmers KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Teck Tan's friends said he was mad to attempt a feature film on young Malaysians' battles with life, love and religion in their multi-racial, melting pot of a country. Bloodied by local censors' treatment of his award-winning work, and cinema takings hit by the pirate video trade, the 39-year-old director of "Spinning Gasing" fears they may have been right. "They might as well not have passed the film as far as I'm concerned. With 25 cuts it jars, it affects the story, it even affects the box office," he told Reuters in an interview after the end of the movie's recent run in local cinemas. The beautifully shot English-language film, featuring a wannabe band stumbling from well-to-do birthday parties in suburban Kuala Lumpur to the rural piety of Peninsular Malaysia's east coast, was very nearly banned outright. "Spinning Gasing" -- a reference to traditional Malay spinning tops and an allusion to Malaysia's rapid pace of change -- turns on long-held but unrequited love between band impressario Harry and bass guitarist Yati. "Our New Year's present was a letter from the censor board saying that they had banned the film for quite a few reasons, primarily because it touched on racial and religious sensitivities and was not a film that should be seen by Malaysians," Tan said. The decision was overturned on appeal but not before censors had their way with the scalpel to excise a whole scene showing religious police raid a hotel in search of khalwat (close proximity) offenders -- unmarried Muslims guilty of illegal intimacy with the opposite sex. "The 'khalwat' put everything into perspective," said Tan, referring to relations between Yati, a Malay Muslim woman, and Harry, a young Chinese man who has abandoned his faith. Most of the Southeast Asian nation's 23 million population are Malay Muslims who are largely conservative and protective over their faith. Around a quarter are Buddhist Chinese and about eight percent Indians, who are generally Hindu. Malaysian media are heavily influenced by the government, which preaches stability above all else in a country yet to bury the ghosts of bloody riots between Malays and Chinese in 1969. The censors routinely remove or prohibit scenes of explicit sexual nature, swearing and offensive references to race and religion from movies as well as television and radio programmes. LOVE LOST Most difficult for Tan to accept was censors' treatment of a restrained love scene reminiscent of "The Age of Innocence" or Michelle Pfeiffer in "Dangerous Liaisons", where Harry gently tends Yati's hair as they bathe in the sea. "There are some pivotal scenes in the film, that make the film, and that was one of them," laments Tan. "Those close ups were crucial to understanding what they felt for one another -- they wanted to but they couldn't." Religious restraints on Yati, played by local stage actress Ellie Suriaty Omar, who was best actress at the Cinemaya Festival of Asian Cinema 2001 in New Delhi, meant that for the relationship to stand a chance, Harry must convert to Islam and marry her. The alternatives were to walk away or to conduct the affair in secret with no hope for the long-term. "I have been told that the film has offended sections of the Malay community," Tan said. "To them, they ask why is it an issue? Yati should have convinced Harry to convert and then they would have got married but for me as a Chinese, it is an issue," he said. "These are issues we have to deal with, there's no point in saying they are non-issues. If we are to be a mature nation, we have to tackle these issues head on." Assaulted by Western influences at home, and with thousands of students going abroad for their university education, Malaysians face a cocktail of confusion familiar to many young people in developed and rapidly developing nations. Clubland drugs, homosexuality, mixed race parentage -- all feature in Tan's film, with the inevitable cuts ensuing. UNCUT PIRATE Quite apart from the artistic impact, Tan bemoans the financial loss from potential viewers resorting to pirated video discs of the uncensored version. "I got very sick of people telling me: 'I'm sorry Teck, I won't see it in a cinema because it's been massacred by the censors. I'll buy the pirate VCD because it will be uncut'." The project, which earned the Netpac Award Special Mention at the 2000 Hawaii International Film Festival, has yet to recoup costs put at "under 2.5 million ringgit", all funded by private investors, Tan says. "It's still too early, we still have quite a few markets to explore," he said, saying neighbours Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines all offer potential if a distributor could be found. Asked whether his "Spinning Gasing" experience had cauterised his movie-making ambitions, Tan was equivocal. "Yes, I would like to make another and yes I am planning to, but with all the disincentives, I would have to be crazy too. "I have not made up my mind, I'm doing TV commercials for the moment."
Reuters 6 Dec 2001
Muslims defy curfew, bury dead after Sri Lanka poll KANDY, Sri Lanka Sri
Lanka's main Muslim party held tense funerals on Thursday for 12 supporters
killed in clashes with the ruling party as thousands defied a curfew imposed
after a parliamentary election plagued by violence. The entire island has been
under continuous curfew since the supporters of the opposition Sri Lanka Muslim
Congress were gunned down by in a clash with majority Sinhalese supporters of
the ruling Peoples' Alliance (PA). The clash in the central hills after
polling ended on Wednesday raised tensions between Sinhalese and Muslims who
earlier this year faced off in ethnic riots that destroyed the central town
of Mawanella. "They were killed by PA thugs while escorting a ballot box.
It was a premeditated attack," M.Y. Asheef, one of the mourners, told Reuters
Television. A spokesman for the congress said 7,000 people attended the funeral
for nine of the victims in the central town of Madawala where the clash took
place. The others were buried elsewhere in the hill district of Kandy. Madawala
had the atmosphere of a tinder-box with large crowds milling around despite
the curfew and tyres buring on the streets -- a sign of extreme provocation
in Sri Lanka. "There is anti-Muslim sentiment building up and the situation
is very tense in many areas," Muslim Congress leader Rauf Hakeem told Reuters.
Hakeem, whose defection to the opposition in June led to the collapse of the
ruling coalition, said his party had been targeted by ruling party thugs during
the clashes on election day. President Chandrika Kumaratunga ordered an
immediate investigation to prevent tensions from boiling over and the curfew,
which was to be lifted at 2 p.m. (0800 GMT) on Thursday was extended until dawn
on Friday. At least 15 people were killed on Tuesday and Wednesday, taking the
election death toll close to 60, with 700 people injured.Sri Lanka has been
wracked by an 18-year ethnic war pitting Sinhalese against the larger Tamil
minority, but clashes involving Muslims are rare.
BBC 30 November, 2001, Analysis: Sri Lanka's troubled elections The polls have been described as the most violent in years By the BBC's Frances Harrison in Colombo Sri Lankans go to the polls on 5 December to elect a new parliament just 14 months after the last polls failed to give any one party a simple majority. Many commentators believe the elections are likely to throw up a hung parliament where the smaller minority parties will be the kingmakers once again. It is this sort of alliance building that proved the downfall of the last government - a coalition with President Chandrika Kumaratunga's People's Alliance at the centre. It lost its majority in the house after the defections of seven MPs from the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC). Government Defections The defections were triggered by the President's sacking from the cabinet of SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem. Ending the war is a key issue of the polls It was a move she hoped would isolate an overly demanding ally but leave the rest of his party members on board. But it backfired badly - triggering months of political instability in a country already staggering under the burden of a costly civil war. JVP Support In September the government secured the support of the Marxist People's Liberation Front or JVP - to stay in power for a one year probationary period. With 10 seats in parliament the JVP called the shots - insisting there should be no controversial suggestions for ending the ethnic conflict and no further privatisation. It was a deal that nobody - even those who signed up to it - expected to last the full one year term. But the idea was to avoid an early no confidence motion which might have resulted in the opposition seizing control and then gaining the advantage of incumbency during fresh elections. Parliament dissolved Under the Sri Lankan constitution the president is only empowered to dissolve parliament one year after the last election which was held on 10 October. The most devastating if not disgraceful and disgusting election in our history Daily Mirror newspaper By the time 10 October came round, a series of high profile defections from the governing People's Alliance, including many senior ministers, had left the government in a minority in the house, notwithstanding the support of the Marxists. At midnight on 10 October , the president dissolved parliament and called fresh elections. Most violent election By all accounts, the 2001 election campaign has been one of the most violent ever in Sri Lanka. Some hotly contested constituencies have become virtual no go areas as rival politicians fight it out. Allegations of bias have been thrown at all sections of the media and even the Election Commissioner has been accused by the governing party of partiality towards the opposition - something he strongly denies. UNP plans The governing People's Alliance has consistently alleged a secret nexus exists between the opposition United Nationalist Party (UNP) led by Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Tamil Tiger rebels. Over 1000 incidents of election violence have been reported Mr Wickremesinghe has kept his cards close to his chest about whether he would concede all the existing rebel preconditions for starting peace talks. He has preferred to blame his rival's failure to resolve the war on what he calls her inconsistent policies. Economy For most voters the primary issue is now the economy. It was hit by the double blow of the 11 September attacks in the United States coming after a rebel Tamil Tiger attack on Colombo Airport on 24 July. The airport attack badly dented tourism and other foreign exchange earners as well as inflicting one billion dollars worth of physical damage. Mr Wickremesinghe's UNP is thought to have the backing of much of the business community. But he will have to show that the UNP - which was the party in power at the time of the 1983 anti-Tamil race riots which triggered the civil war - can do something to resolve the 18-year long conflict that is holding Sri Lanka back economically.
Bangkok Post 2 Dec 2001 EDITORIAL - Thailand should ratify ICC treaty. The General Assembly of the United Nations met in Rome in 1998 to "to finalize and adopt a convention on the establishment of an international criminal court". An international criminal court (ICC) has been called "the missing link in the international legal system." At present there is no permanent international court to prosecute individuals. Currently tribunals are established on a case by case (ad hoc) basis, as for example the trial of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague. According to Jose Ayala Lasso, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, "A person stands a better chance of being tried and judged for killing one human being than for killing 100,000." In cases where a nation has the political will and there is an effective and transparent national criminal justice system in place to try its own citizens charged with crimes such as ethnic cleansing, the national courts would have jurisdiction. However, all too often nations are unwilling to prosecute their own private citizens for politically motivated crimes, much less officials who may still be in power. In other cases, as in Rwanda, the national justice system may have fallen apart. In these instances, an international court is needed. The benefits of an ICC to the world community are similar to the benefits of a criminal court to a nation. The ICC offers a way to punish wrongdoing and heal the suffering of victims and their surviving loved ones, and do it in a way that ends the cycle of violence, rather than perpetuating counterstrikes of revenge. An ICC would be a deterrence to future Idi Amins and their followers. With few exceptions, leaders of states have gone unpunished historically for the most horrible crimes against humanity. There are several advantages to having a permanent ICC rather than establishing courts for specific offences. It is obviously more efficient to have the trial machinery in place beforehand. It is inevitable that an ad hoc trial takes some time to set up, during which time evidence can be lost or destroyed, and witnesses and perpetrators alike can disappear. The ICC would also be preferable to ad hoc courts because it would have an established forum. This would eliminate problems such as that of the joint UN/Cambodia war crimes tribunal, in which the Cambodian government has insisted that a majority of judges be Cambodian. Similarly, an established ICC could decide which incidents and persons should be tried with much more freedom from political considerations. At present there is not much chance that an official from a powerful nation will be held accountable for war crimes, whereas Slobodan Milosevic was a pretty safe choice. Interestingly, the United States is one of a handful of countries which has been resistant to the ICC. Legislation passed by the US Congress places so many conditions on US compliance that it effectively excludes US citizens from being subject to any ICC proceedings. The reasoning is that US citizens might be singled out unfairly because of widespread anti-American sentiment. While there is a potential for abuse in anything, there are safeguards against politicising the process, and by refusing to participate, the US loses the right to help determine the ground rules. In any case, the lack of cooperation and faith in the international quest for justice by the world's superpower is a little discouraging. The treaty to establish the ICC has been signed by 139 nations, including Thailand, and has been ratified by 46 of the 60 countries necessary for it to come into force. Thailand, as the pre-eminent democracy and the most free society in the region, should take steps to ratify the ICC treaty immediately.
Belgium (see Congo (Brazzaville) )
NYT December 27, 2001 Human Rights Cases Begin to Flood Into Belgian Courts By MARLISE SIMONS The Associated Press Adrien Masset, a lawyer for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel, with journalists on Wednesday in the Palace of Justice in Brussels. RUSSELS, Dec. 26 — With its towering dome, resplendent columns and sweeping stairs, Belgium's Palace of Justice is sometimes mocked as being too grandiose for this small nation. But if victims of the world's atrocities have their way, the building's courtrooms may soon fill up with extraordinary human rights cases from far beyond Belgium's borders. Already, complaints of massacres, torture and other horrors have poured in from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with law suits filed against more than a dozen past and present foreign leaders. Three new complaints involve Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, linking him to the massacre of Palestine refugees in Lebanon in 1982. Israeli groups have responded by bringing terrorism charges against Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader. The targets of other lawsuits include the current presidents of Cuba, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Rwanda, and former officials of Cambodia, Chad, Iran and Guatemala. The magnet for all this legal activity is a Belgian law, adopted in 1993 and expanded in 1999, that allows the nation's courts to hear cases of atrocities, including genocide and other crimes against humanity, that happened anywhere, without any connection to Belgium. The law was intended to comply with international human rights conventions. But while other nations have also adapted their laws to human rights treaties, Belgium has gone farther than most. As the lawsuits pile up, some politicians and legal scholars here are wondering if the nation has taken on too much. "It means that neither the perpetrators nor the victims need to be nationals or residents of Belgium," said Pierre d'Argent, a law professor at the University of Louvain. Further, Belgium now stands out as one of the few nations that, when addressing atrocities, will not recognize the immunity of foreign officials, not even a serving president. "No wonder so many cases are now flooding Belgian courts," Mr. d'Argent said. So far, Belgium has had only one trial under the 1993 law, one that this year led a civilian jury to sentence four Rwandans, including two nuns, to between 12 and 20 years imprisonment for their role in genocidal killings in Rwanda in 1995. Because Belgium was Rwanda's former colonial ruler and the accused were living in Belgium, the case was not viewed here as veering far outside this country's natural jurisdiction. But the much-publicized trial attracted new law suits from abroad, and it in fact went well beyond even the legal precedent established with the arrest of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Chile's former dictator. He was arrested in Britain at the request of the Spanish authorities because of a lawsuit involving atrocities against Spanish citizens and was eventually released for health reasons. The case against Mr. Sharon, however, has set off a wide debate over whether the law should be rewritten because of the degree to which it can complicate official business. Belgium's foreign minister, Louis Michel, has called the law "embarrassing," and the government wants to amend it, at least to modify the issue of immunity for serving politicians. Some fear diplomatic headaches not only for Belgium but also for the European Union, which has its headquarters here in Brussels. Already Mr. Sharon has canceled a planned visit to Brussels in July while Belgium held the rotating presidency of the European Union. There is concern that politicians from other countries engaged in conflicts will refuse to come here for fear of being served a writ. Supporters of the law, who are many, insist that in human rights issues Belgium is merely doing what all nations should do, that is, to adopt the domestic legislation needed to abide by international treaties that they have ratified. On human rights, those include the Geneva conventions that deal with the laws of war, the Genocide Convention and the Convention against Torture. Legal experts disagree about whether adhering nations are merely entitled or are specifically obliged to prosecute atrocities committed outside their own territory by foreign nationals. "This is one of the big arguments right now involving universal jurisdiction," said Reed Brody, who specializes in cross-border justice at the New York office of Human Rights Watch. Some Belgian critics of the 1993 law say they want it amended because the country can neither deal with the influx of complaints, nor serve as the world's courtroom. Even for Belgians, the court system is infamously slow and cumbersome. "Our courts are already inundated," said Adrien Masset, the Belgian lawyer representing Mr. Sharon. "Even if we wanted to, Belgium has no legal and practical means to handle all these cases." Eric Gillet, a Brussels lawyer who has been involved in human rights cases and backs the current law, agreed that it causes complications. "It puts Belgium in the spotlight where it does not want to be and causes diplomatic and logistical problems," he said. "But if we defend human rights, we need to accept our responsibility." While victims' groups are said to be very serious about the suits they have brought, a fair number may not bear results if the government succeeds in amending and restricting the law. Even if the case against Mr. Sharon does not proceed, it illustrates the complexity of the existing process. In June, when the first of three lawsuits against Mr. Sharon and several military officers was filed in Brussels, Israel at first dismissed the move. But it has since hired several Belgian lawyers, and its diplomats are now following the issue as it moves through the courts. The three complaints, which the lawyers for Israel are now trying to block, are linked to the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps under the control of Israel during its 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The killings cost Mr. Sharon his job as defense minister when an official Israeli investigation found him indirectly responsible. So far, a Belgian public prosecutor has said there is no legal obstacle to investigating the complaints against Mr. Sharon, filed by Lebanese and Palestinian survivors from the Sabra and Shatila camps. But a court is holding hearings on whether it has jurisdiction and can take on the case, and spent this morning hearing arguments from lawyers for Palestinian victims or their relatives. A decision is not expected before February. No hearings have begun on the two complaints against Mr. Arafat. They were filed only recently by several Israeli groups that accuse Mr. Arafat of multiple terror attacks, some reaching back to 1974. Among other foreign cases now winding their way through the Belgian legal system is an investigation of brutalities committed under Hiss?ne Habr?, the former president of Chad. Mr. Habr?, who once had Washington's support, now lives in exile in Senegal. Other Africans accused by lawsuits of grave human rights violations are Laurent Gbagbo, the president of Ivory Coast; Denis Sasso- Nguesso, the president of the Congo Republic; Ange-F?lix Patass?, the president of the Central African Republic; and Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda. At least one lawsuit has been filed against former Khmer Rouge officials in Cambodia, and another against the former Moroccan interior minister, Driss Basri. Latin Americans include senior military officers from Guatemala who are cited for a range of crimes, including committing genocide against the country's Indians. There are other high-profile lawsuits pending, although none have made much progress: they include those against Presidents Fidel Castro of Cuba and Saddam Hussein of Iraq, as well as the former president of Iran, Hashemi Rafsanjani. Some people hope that pressure on Belgium may diminish if, as expected, a long-debated international criminal court begins working some time in 2002 in the Netherlands. Although the United States has refused to approve the treaty creating the court, that new tribunal will become operative once the treaty has been ratified by 60 nations. At last count, 47 countries had done so. But Mr. Gillet doubts that the new international court will bring early relief for Belgian courts. "Chances are that cases may continue to be lodged in Belgium," he said, explaining that the new tribunal does not stop national courts from prosecuting human rights cases. More important, he said, is that national courts, like Belgium's, can deal with past atrocities. "But the new international court will have no jurisdiction retroactively," he said.
ArabicNews.com 28 Dec 2001 Secret documents reveal Sharon's confession having responsibility for Sabra, Shatila massacres The London- based MBC TV station on Tuesday evening disclosed that there are secret documents which the Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon admits when he was a minister of defense in 1982 of green-lighting breaking into Sabra and Shatila camps in Lebanon and committing the crimes against the Palestinian. The MBC correspondent in Brussels said that these documents are available since several weeks at the Belgian judiciary and confirm Sharon's confession before the Israeli Kahana extremist committee in 1982 that he had green-lighted for breaking into the two said camps. On Wednesday, the Belgian court followed up necessary steps to be taken to start investigations with the Israeli prime minister of war crime accusations and listened to interventions made by the victims and discussed the question of the Belgian judiciary validity. Lawyer Michael Verhaig who is the defendant of 23 of the victims of Sabra and Shatila committed in 1982 described Wednesday's session as very positive. He said in a statements to SANA's correspondent in Brussels the two focal points debated on Wednesday seized the attention of the Belgian judiciary. Moreover 23 of victims of the Sabra and Shatilla massacres filed a complaint on June this year through the civil attorney in Brussels, according to the world validity law which aims to controlling war crimes and the crimes against humanity and mass annihilation. The said law authorizes trying foreigners accused of such crimes even such crimes are committed outside Belgium. Other 6 Palestinians filed another case by the end of November this year against Sharon through the civil attorney law which is based on the world validity law adopted by the Belgian parliament in 1993 and amended in 1999.
Reuters 26 Dec 2001 Palestinians Push Case Against Sharon in Belgium BRUSSELS - A lawyer for Palestinians pursuing a case in Belgium against Ariel Sharon for crimes against humanity insisted Wednesday that the country's courts were competent to try him for a 1982 massacre of hundreds of refugees. ``The law is very clear,'' Luc Walleyn, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, told reporters during a break in a closed-door hearing. ``Justice must prevail over Sharon or anyone else who has committed such crimes.'' A group of 28 Palestinians are suing the Israeli prime minister for his alleged role in a massacre by Israeli-backed Lebanese militiamen at the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps near Israeli-occupied Beirut in 1982. The group is resorting to a controversial Belgian law that gives Belgian courts universal jurisdiction to hear cases of crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world. In the second day of hearings before a Brussels appeals court, Walleyn argued the law also gave the courts jurisdiction over heads of state. The public prosecutor in charge of the case supports Walleyn's argument and favors renewing an investigation against Sharon begun by an examining magistrate earlier this year. The investigation was suspended after Sharon's lawyers called on the appeals court to decide on the law's jurisdiction concerning heads of state. The court is to decide next month whether it should start up again. Sharon's lawyers not only claim diplomatic immunity, but also put into question whether the law, passed in 1993, could be applied retroactively. An official Israeli inquiry in 1983 found Sharon, a former general, indirectly responsible for the massacre. He resigned as defense minister as a result. The latest case has caused a lot of tension between Belgium and Israel, although Israelis are resorting to the same Belgian law in a case against Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat , accusing him of acts of violence dating back to 1974. The first conviction bought under the new law came in June when a Belgian court sentenced four Rwandans, including two nuns, to jail terms for involvement in the 1994 genocide in which up to one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. It was the first time a civilian jury in one country had sat in judgement on war crimes suspects from another.
Jerusalem Post 21 Dec 2001 Second anti-Palestinian terror suit filed in Belgium By Amanda Ruth Thomas JERUSALEM The World Committee for Justice and Peace yesterday filed the second suit in two months charging Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat and 35 other leaders of the PLO/PA of murder, incitement to genocide, and crimes against humanity. "We have gone to Brussels with a suitcase full of hundreds of pages and dozens of videos," said WCJP vice president Joel Leyden. "It's enough to bury the investigators for days." The year-old organization comprises Jewish and non-Jewish attorneys in Israel, Europe, and the United States, and represents 19 victims of terror from Israel, the US, France, and Argentina. The case spans 27 years of Palestinian terrorism, from the 1974 massacre in Ma'alot to the French Hill bus bombing on November 4, 2001.
Reuters 10 Dec 2001 Belgian Museum Wakes Up to Post-Colonial Era By Katie Nguyen BRUSSELS (Reuters) - To its critics, the Brussels Royal Museum for Central Africa represents everything that is bad about Belgium. It is bureaucratic, 50 years behind the times and, most of all, reeks of old colonialism. With only one toilet for the entire museum, it does not even cater properly for as many as a quarter of a million visitors that trail through its vast, echoing halls each year. However, all that is changing thanks to the arrival of a new director charged with dragging the museum into the 21st century. Conceived in 1897 by King Leopold II as a temporary World Fair exhibition, its original purpose was to show off the flora, fauna and natural resources of his private empire, the Congo, and illustrate how they benefited Belgium's economy. One prize exhibit was 267 Congolese men, women and children, specially imported to live, work and dance in reconstructed African villages. Several died of pneumonia in the Belgian climate. Not only was the stately museum built with ill-gotten gains from the Congo's rich gold and rubber reserves, but for almost a century its depiction of Africa has remained unchanged. ``The museum at the moment gives a very one-sided view of Africa. It's really a museum of a colonial past, not a museum of Africa today. Nor does it show what Africa thinks of Belgium,'' said Guido Gryseels, picked to modernize one of the country's last relics of its 30 year-long occupation of the Congo. Appointed the museum's new director last summer, the 49-year-old has an uphill struggle. His drive for transformation has been slowed by a bureaucracy that has been in place for generations. ``Every change has to be authorized. So basically I cannot put a nail in the wall without permission,'' Gryseels said. BIG CHALLENGE It will take some six years and an extra $2.22 million to update the exhibits and fully computerese the collections -- a project close to Gryseels' heart. ``Where I see a major challenge is in digitalizing our collection, making our databanks directly accessible to scientists over the Web site,'' he told Reuters. ``Then it's no longer important whether you have the collection here or in Africa.'' Gryseels, who worked previously at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization , said several masks and statues had been returned to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Walking through the handsome, neoclassical museum is like entering a time warp. A handful of visitors tiptoe reverently around row upon row of orderly glass cabinets in which antelope and wildebeest stand, gathering dust, in quiet savannah scenes. For 40 years, the stuffed crocodiles and snakes have sat, staring at each other without being moved. The museum's wealth of African artifacts is badly under-used, Gryseels said. Photos Reuters Photo Beneath the halls is a catacomb of cellars stretching miles and concealing thousands of exhibits that have yet to see the light of day. For all its treasures -- the museum boasts, for example, the world's largest zoological collection, comprising 60 million insects, and a collection of 10,000 musical instruments -- only about five percent of exhibits are on display, Gryseels said. Apart from a few rusted manacles and rifles there is little evidence to show how Belgians came to conquer a country at the heart of Africa that was 75 times the size of their homeland. In one of the bloodiest periods of Belgian history, Leopold caused millions of Congolese to die in pursuit of his private estate, taking Africa's third largest country and plundering it for its generous reserves of rubber, ivory, copper and gold. Yet the king never ventured onto Congolese soil. ``We think it's because he had a handicap in his foot. If Africans had seen that, they would have thought him a weak person,'' Gryseels said. DARK COLONIAL PAST The move to transform the museum comes as Belgium, under Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, is making a gradual but consistent effort to come to terms with the dark side of its colonial past. Months after becoming foreign minister in 1999, Louis Michel recommended that a parliamentary commission investigate Brussels's role in the murder of Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba 40 years ago. The commission concluded recently that the Belgian government bore moral responsibility for the controversial killing. Verhofstadt himself apologized in Kigali last year for Belgium's failure, despite the available intelligence, to prevent the 1994 Rwandan genocide in which more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus died. Against this political backdrop, the stakes at the Africa Museum are high. ``The political pressure to change it fairly radically is very high,'' Gryseels said. ``Belgium hasn't come to grips with its colonial past. It is quite clear in the discussions at the moment in parliament with respect to Lumumba,'' he said, walking past a golden statue of Leopold II which greets visitors at the entrance to the museum. The statue depicts the king, in the robes of a priest, cradling an African baby in one arm, with the other wrapped protectively around a naked African man. Under it, the plaque reads: ``Belgium bringing civilization to the Congo.''
Reuters 11 Dec 2001 Bosnian Serb Party to Expel Its Founder, Karadzic By Aleksandar Zivanovic BANJA LUKA, Bosnia (Reuters) - Bosnia's nationalist Serb Democratic Party (SDS), under pressure to cooperate in catching war criminals, said on Tuesday it would formally ban its founder Radovan Karadzic from membership. In an apparent bid to ward off punishment by international peace overseers for obstructing ethnic reintegration, the party said it would change its statutes to expel lifetime member Karadzic and ban all other war crime indictees from the party. Wartime Bosnian Serb leader Karadzic and military chief Ratko Mladic were indicted for genocide against Muslims and Croats during Bosnia's 1992-5 war and excluded from power by the Dayton peace deal that ended the conflict. Both have been in hiding ever since, protected by fellow Serbs who have quietly resisted diplomatic pressure to hand them over or demonstrate commitment to a multi-ethnic Bosnia. International peace representative Wolfgang Petritsch recently issued a "final warning" to the SDS to stop blocking the return of non-Serb refugees and to push through parliament crucial laws on knitting Bosnia together. Petritsch has the power to ban parties and officials deemed to be hampering efforts to reintegrate the ex-Yugoslav state. Dragan Kalinic, president of the SDS, the biggest political party in Bosnia's Serb half following last year's general elections, said it was time to tackle the war crimes issue. "This is not only an issue of excluding indictees Radovan Karadzic and Momcilo Krajisnik but an issue of a general attitude of the SDS toward The Hague tribunal," Kalinic told reporters in Banja Luka, the Serb Republic's biggest town. The SDS has repeatedly said it had no contacts with Karadzic anymore and does not know where he is. The party assembly would vote on the change to its rules this month, Kalinic said. Krajisnik, a senior SDS official, is in tribunal custody on charges including genocide and crimes against humanity for his role as a senior Bosnian Serb leader in the war, which left some 200,000 dead and forced two million from their homes. The Bosnian Serb authorities, and particularly the SDS, have been under heavy Western criticism for their failure to hand over some of 20 indicted war criminals believed to be hiding in Bosnia's autonomous Serb half. The SDS is widely thought to have a big influence on the policies of the officially non-party government, although Western pressure has limited its direct participation. The Serb republic, which makes up Bosnia together with a Muslim-Croat federation, adopted in October a law governing the arrest and handover of suspects to the U.N. court, and Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said the hunt had already started.
Independent UK 5 Dec 2001 Secrets from beyond the grave - A legacy of the Bosnian conflicts is the number of unidentified victims. Michael Portillo shows how DNA-matching data can help, and how the techniques can be applied to Ground Zero (NYC). On a housing estate in a suburb of Sarajevo, I watched a group of children break off from their game of tag. They gathered around the edge of a trench that some workmen had been digging between two apartment blocks. The youngsters looked down upon an apparently grinning face, an illusion created because much of the flesh had rotted away above the mouth of the corpse. Another body from the Bosnian conflicts was being exhumed. He died in his flat, casually slain by a sniper's bullet. When it was safe to do so, his neighbours buried him in an unmarked grave, complete with his red anorak and boots. The children, their curiosity satisfied, returned to their game. They had seen it all before. Near Tuzla I visited two parallel tunnels, relics of some industrial process, each about the length and diameter of an Underground train carriage, bored into a hillside. The entrance to the tunnels is through a hut and through a tiled room with dirty water lying in puddles beneath a trolley. As I entered, I startled two men in stained overalls. They were bent over the trolley, untying what looked like a string shopping bag. It contained human bones, from which they were cleaning away the remaining traces of grey flesh. In the tunnels, I saw wooden shelves running their whole length and from floor to ceiling. They were filled with body bags, a thousand here alone, victims of the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995. The clothes taken from the bodies had been washed and ironed, catalogued and photographed. The photographs are used to make books that relatives of missing persons can leaf through in the hope of identifying a familiar check shirt or belt buckle that could indicate the fate of a son or husband. But such "classic" means of identification proved unreliable in Bosnia. Sometimes the murderers ordered their victims to change clothes before they killed them, so as to make it harder to investigate the crime, and sometimes the graves were churned up using bulldozers. More reliable by far is to match DNA extracted from a fragment of bone with samples of blood from the mother and father. With perhaps as many as 40,000 persons "missing" from the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, the task is huge. Blood samples now have to be taken from all those parents who have reported missing sons or, where the parents are also dead, from brothers and sisters, or maybe from the victim's children. In the Muslim villages of Bosnia, hopes that the men might yet be alive are fanned by rumours that the Serbs retain secret concentration camps. There can be no peace of mind, and certainly no hope of reconciliation, until the mourning mothers can receive proof of death, a body and a funeral. In 1996, President Clinton established the International Commission for Missing Persons in the former Yugoslavia (ICMP) to oversee the exhumation and identification processes. Its chairman until recently was Senator Bob Dole, the man that Clinton defeated to win his second term. I joined the Commission in 1998. Before that I had been Secretary of State for Defence, and the massacre at Srebrenica occurred during my first days in the post. Using money raised from the international community, the ICMP has helped local pathologists to cope with the huge demands made of them, and to build decent facilities to replace those makeshift tunnels. But nothing on the scale of the DNA-matching programme now required has ever been attempted before. Air-accident investigators have used the techniques but the numbers involved have been tens or hundreds, not tens of thousands. The US military has used DNA to identify bodies that still emerge from the war in Vietnam. And it is a quietly spoken Oklahoman, Ed Huffine, former director of America's DNA identification laboratory in Washington, who had the vision to attempt the quantum leap in DNA work. Already the programme has yielded 18,000 blood samples in Bosnia and another 3,500 in Kosovo. The exhumation process has brought forth human remains representing between 5,000 and 6,000 corpses, whose identity now can be determined only by DNA-matching. Laboratories have been established across Bosnia and Croatia. Another will open shortly in Belgrade. Field teams have headed out to the hills to ask distraught and suspicious villagers to give samples of blood. Each sample is bar-coded, and linked to a description of the victim, his clothes, jewellery and last sighting. At Sarajevo, the DNA extracted from the blood is translated into a digital formula. At Tuzla, the DNA yielded from a victim's bone fragment is similarly digitised. That is also carefully linked back to the clothes found on the corpse, and all other information concerning the body's discovery. The computer programmes designed for this programme, and ultimately to make the match between DNA traces, are themselves a triumph of software engineering. It has not been easy for those who have lost loved ones in the conflicts to remain patient. It's been 10 years already for some of them since their sons disappeared, six years since the massacre at Srebrenica. They have lobbied and demonstrated, putting pressure on the governments of the region to get on with the exhumations, and on the international community to deliver a reliable identification process. Now the moment of delivery has arrived. Last month the first computer discs detailing the DNA from blood taken from Srebrenica relatives were brought together with digitised data from bone samples, and the programmes run together in Tuzla. Amid scenes of extraordinary emotion, the computers took less than a second before the screen recorded the first positive matches. The first victims identified were youngsters. In one case, the parents had reported two missing brothers and the DNA match could relate to either one. By checking the clothing, and estimating the age of the victim, pathologists narrowed it down to the younger of the two, aged just 15. The next day the police were knocking at his parents' door, to break the news of a positive identification six years after the boy's death. In the months to come the scene will be repeated many times. Officials working on identifying those killed at the World Trade Centre had heard of this work, and tracked down Ed Huffine at a conference of forensic pathologists in Mississippi, asking him to brainstorm with them in New York. The methodology developed in the former Yugoslavia will now be used in New York for matching mortal remains to blood samples given by relatives of the victims. Across Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia the agony of doubt for many families is being brought to an end. The funerals can now take place. In the jargon, they are achieving "closure". The hope is that it might help to close a chapter of brutality and slaughter. It helps remove just one impediment to reconciliation.
AP 4 Dec 2001 Turkish Cypriot Leader Agrees to Talks By ALEX EFTY, Associated Press Writer NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) - Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who has been boycotting U.N.-sponsored talks for the reunification of war-divided Cyprus, agreed Tuesday to return to the negotiating table. The breakthrough came at the end of an hour-long meeting Denktash held with President Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, in the U.N. buffer zone dividing the Mediterranean island. It was their first face-to-face meeting in more than four years. Afterward, they stood smiling before reporters as Alvaro de Soto, the special adviser on Cyprus for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan , read a brief statement saying they had accepted an invitation from Annan to continue face-to-face talks in Cyprus in January. Clerides and Denktash then shook hands before leaving separately. The meeting had taken on a new urgency because Cyprus, represented by the southern, Greek administration that is recognized by most of the world, is expected to join the European Union by 2003. Turkey, the only country that recognizes Denktash's government, opposes the expected EU accession. In Turkey, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit applauded Tuesday's meeting. ``A dialogue like this has the potential to open certain doors,'' Ecevit said. Denktash wants a loose federation of two states, with separate representation in the EU, and with the two communities living separately. Clerides envisions two fairly independent entities joined under one federal administration. Cyprus has been split into the Greek Cypriot south and the Turkish-occupied north since Turkey invaded in 1974 in the wake of an abortive coup by supporters of union with Greece. Turkey has 35,000 troops in northern Cyprus. Denktash walked out of U.N.-sponsored negotiations in November 2000, demanding recognition of his state and an end to Cyprus' efforts to join the EU as a condition for his return. U.N. resolutions, which are rejected by the Turkish side, call for the reunification of the island in two zones, the withdrawal of the 35,000 Turkish troops and estimated 100,000 Turkish settlers, and the return to the north of 185,000 Greek Cypriot refugees. Denktash said earlier the EU question is key to a breakthrough. ``Anything can be settled, anything can be arranged,'' provided the Greek Cypriots ``accept they are not representing us at the EU.'' Michael Triantafyllides, Cyprus' former chief justice, said Monday that a settlement ``cannot contravene the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.'' Turkey has been refusing to implement the court's judgments, which found it guilty of ethnic cleansing and other human rights violations in north Cyprus. The court branded the breakaway state illegal and supported the right of the refugees to return. Northern Cyprus's economy is weak, and many in that part of the island worry about being increasingly isolated - economically and politically - if a reunification settlement is not reached. A group of some 200 Turkish Cypriots, representing a movement which opposes Denktash's policies and favors a swift solution, held a protest meeting Tuesday outside Nicosia near the Green Line that divides the island. ``From now on ... the Turkish Cypriots want to be a part of the peace process and the EU accession,'' the group said in a statement.
AP 7 Dec 2001 Friday Conference to prepare for creation of the International Criminal Court opens in Prague DATELINE: PRAGUE, Czech Republic BODY: Members of the International Criminal Court urged Central European countries Friday to ratify a convention establishing the court in an effort to make it a powerful tool in fighting war crimes. A conference aiming to encourage Eastern and Central European countries to ratify the treaty that creates the court began Friday in Prague. The meeting ends Saturday. The court, created to deal with the world's most heinous crimes, is set to become the first permanent institution designed to try charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. For the court to come into force, at least 60 countries must ratify the convention that creates it. So far, 47 countries, including 12 European Union members, have ratified the convention. In Central and Eastern Europe, 10 countries - including the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania - have yet to ratify the treaty. "We can reach 50 by Christmas, and 60 by June," said Emma Bonino of Italy, a member of the European Parliament. "We are sure ... that the International Criminal Court will exist very soon." The court would be set up in The Hague, Netherlands, now the seat of a temporary tribunal probing war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. It would step in when governments are unwilling or unable to prosecute their own citizens for the gravest atrocities. "Lasting peace cannot go hand in hand with impunity," Bonino said. U.S. President George W. Bush has called the treaty establishing the tribunal flawed and said he will not send it to the Senate for ratification in its present form.
AFP 3 Dec 2001 -- OSCE welcomes Russian progress on Chechnya BUCHAREST, The pan-European security body OSCE praised Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday for his efforts to seek a negotiated settlement in Chechya. OSCE chairman-in-office Mircea Geoana also lauded Moscow for progress on withdrawing arms from the former Soviet republic of Moldova, a key condition of a 1999 treaty signed by Russia with the West. "The measures undertaken by the Russian Federation in Chechnya and President Putin's initiative to launch a political dialogue with Chechen representatives are welcome," said Geoana. "I hope these are the first steps towards a negotiated solution to this conflict," added the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe chief at the start of a meeting of OSCE foreign ministers. The Chechen conflict and Russia's foot-dragging over withdrawing forces from the ex-Soviet republics of Georgia and Moldova have in the past seriously clouded OSCE meetings. But relations between Moscow and the West have warmed significantly since the September 11 terror attacks on the United States, in what diplomats say has unblocked progress by Russia. "We congratulate the Russian Federation for the progress made to comply with the commitments adopted at the (OSCE) Istanbul summit in 1999," where the adapted Conventional Forces in Europe treaty was signed, said Geoana. "The implementation, ahead of schedule, of the first deadline for Russian troop withdrawals from the Republic of Moldova gives us hope that all commitments will be met in full by the end of 2002," he added. He made no comments about Russian withdrawal of forces from Georgia, on which less progress has been made by Moscow.
BBC 1 Dec 2001 Neo-Nazi march sparks protests Police and protesters clashed A march through central Berlin by about 3,000 neo-Nazis has been diverted away from its planned route through the former Jewish quarter at the last minute. The march, one of the biggest far-right gatherings in the city since World War II, was staged by members of the far-right NDP to protest against an exhibition on Nazi-era crimes committed by the German army. There was a standoff in front of the synagogue The plan to go through the Jewish area had been condemned by the government and Jewish groups, but Berlin authorities had granted permission for it to go ahead on the grounds of freedom of speech. However, the route was changed when a crowd of about 1,500 anti-Nazi protesters blocked the route, creating a tense standoff in front of the old Jewish synagogue. Some 4,000 German police were on hand to prevent violent clashes between the two groups. Earlier, when attempts to move the anti-Nazi protesters on peacefully failed, the police charged the crowd and used water cannon to try to disperse them. The protesters responded by pelting the police with cobble stones pulled from the ground. Excuse to provoke The NDP says it objects to an exhibition now showing in the Jewish quarter about war crimes committed by the regular German army, the Wehrmacht, under Hitler. The exhibition, which has toured Germany in recent years, was prompted by concerns that the role of the regular army in Hitler's campaign of genocide against the Jews and other peoples had been overshadowed by that of the SS. The neo-Nazis object to an exhibition on war crimes It was temporarily withdrawn in 1999 after historians established that some of the photographs shown related to Soviet, not Nazi, war crimes. But the BBC's Rob Broomby in Berlin says many feel the exhibition is being used as an excuse by the neo-Nazis for a provocative march through the centre of the Jewish quarter. The Jewish community described the march as a "disaster", but the Berlin authorities allowed it to go ahead, having made it clear that the federal government backs peaceful protests. The neo-Nazis are not allowed to wear uniforms, bomber jackets or boots, or to sing Nazi songs or march in a military fashion. 'Intolerable provocation' Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's spokesman, Uwe-Karsten Heye, expressed the government's indignation. "This is an intolerable provocation, especially because this march will pass in front of a synagogue on a Jewish holiday." The government would "stand beside the Jewish community and all those who peacefully protest against the demonstration", he added. Troubled exhibition The NPD is a legal political party in Germany despite strong calls for its prohibition and its ostracising by mainstream politicians. Klaus Beier, an NPD spokesman, said his party was not seeking to "provoke" Jews through the choice of its route. "There's no taboo zone for us in Berlin," he said. "We didn't intend to provoke the Jewish community. The focus of our march is a protest against the 'anti-Wehrmacht exhibition'." German soldiers had been "wrongly portrayed as criminals", he said. Berlin's Jewish community numbered about 670,000 before the Nazi genocide. There are now about 30,000 Jews in the city.
CICC 30 Nov 2001 Hungary Strengthens Central and Eastern European Support of the International Criminal Court Hungary Becomes 4th Central/Eastern European State and 47th Country to Ratify ICC Treaty (United Nations, November 30th, 2001) - Hungary deposited its instrument of ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the United Nations today, becoming the forty-seventh country and fourth Central/Eastern European state to ratify the ICC treaty, the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) announced. Once sixty ratifications have been deposited, the ICC treaty will enter into force and create the first permanent international judicial institution capable of trying individuals accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. Following his deposit of the ICC treaty ratification instrument, Hungarian Ambassador Andre Erdos said, "The international community needs the Court in order to provide justice and to protect and promote the values and principles of the United Nations Charter." William Pace, Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court, praised Hungary's ratification, saying, "The ratification by Hungary represents a major Central European nation's agreement and is consistent with the courageous quest for freedom that has characterized that country's political development over the last four decades. In addition, Hungarian diplomats have provided key leadership in the development of the Rome Statute and the establishment of this Court." Hungary joins Croatia, the Republic of Yugoslavia and Poland from Central and Eastern Europe in formal support of the ICC treaty. Slovenia has also completed the ratification process at the national level and will make its official ratification deposit shortly. About the Coalition for the International Criminal Court The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC) is a network of over 1,000 civil society organizations that support the creation of a permanent, fair and independent International Criminal Court. Established in 1995, the CICC is the leading source of information regarding the ICC and the regional organizations that support its formation. The Coalition's primary outreach objectives include: promoting education and awareness of the ICC and Rome Statute; facilitating the effective participation of civil society in the negotiations of the Preparatory Commission for the ICC; expanding and strengthening the global network of organizations working to establish the ICC; and promoting universal acceptance and ratification of the Rome Statue. For more information about the mission of the CICC and its member organizations, please visit http://www.iccnow.org.
Reuters 12 Dec 2001 Macedonians pay price for peace with rebels By Kole Casule SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonians never imagined they would need earphones to understand debate in parliament or use a foreign language to buy food, but a new era distasteful to many looms as the price of peace with rebel minority Albanians. A veritable constitutional revolution has been imposed by a Western-brokered peace accord with minority Albanian guerrillas, whose February-August uprising for better civil rights brought the tiny Balkan republic to its knees. If the constitutional amendments recently ratified by parliament are carried out, Macedonian's majority community must get used to things they thought would never happen. Aside from ethnic Albanians speaking their own language in parliament and exercising a right to speak only Albanian to shop customers, Macedonian could face the possibility of being stopped for spot checks by an ethnic Albanian policeman. Or even being tried by an ethnic Albanian judge. "Those are a few changes more than ordinary Macedonians are willing to accept overnight," a senior government aide said. Since Macedonia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, minority Albanian parties have taken part in government. But the use their language at state level was not allowed and their presence in public services was minimal. But things should change now and there may well be a backlash from aggrieved Macedonians across the board for whom the peace accord was a "sell-out to terrorists" imposed by Western diplomatic and financial pressure. Minority Albanians comprise about a third of the population and that share is growing, given a birthrate outstripping that of the former Yugoslav republic's majority. TREAT THEM AS EQUALS Their new rights include the use of Albanian in state and legislative business, jobs in state institutions, including police, commensurate with their share of the population, and devolution to majority Albanian municipalities. What this means for Macedonians is that that they must work side by side with Albanians, adapt to using their language in some public offices, give them space to display their symbols and culture - in essence, to treat them as equals. Although the national assembly has ratified the peace plan and introduced the changes into the constitution, it will be difficult to convince people to accept them in practice. "People thought that when they passed the constitutional reforms, the hardest part was over. They didn't understand or actually realize (the underlying meaning) of some of these steps," said Edward Joseph, senior analyst in Macedonia for the International Crisis Group think-tank. Parliament may prove the most obvious example of how unprepared Macedonians are for their brave new post-war world. "You will never speak Albanian in this parliament, at least not while I'm here," a Macedonian MP said dismissively to an ethnic Albanian colleague after the ratification vote. There are already signs of trouble in implementing the reforms. Parliament last week failed to elect new municipal court judges because the candidates were all Albanians. Ethnic Albanian MPs walked out in protest, shutting down the session. The new constitution calls for proportional representation of all ethnicities in public office. But Macedonian legislators seemed loath to enable ethnic Albanian judges to try anyone. Efforts to pass a bill that would undo rigid centralization of power have bogged down in ethnic confrontation that World Bank and other international experts are now trying to resolve. Macedonian MPs fear that ceding serious powers to municipal governments will spawn "federalization," effectively splitting the brittle little country of two million people. Ethnic Albanians are insisting on considerable self-rule - as the text of the peace deal stipulated, but without delving into the wrenching practical detail. LAWLESS REBEL NORTH Another serious stumbling block to lasting peace could be the restoration of state security in the lawless rebel north, due to start later this week but prone to pitfalls. The interior ministry, headed by nationalist hawk Ljube Boskovski, is seen by many Macedonians as the pillar of a continuing battle against "Albanian terrorists." The guerrillas disbanded but retained weapons and gunfire remains common. Under the peace accord, the ministry must employ 1,000 ethnic Albanian policemen over the next 18 months to be assigned to the very areas where guerrilla compatriots rose up. "We will have to persuade the former enemies to work side by side," a Western diplomat in Skopje said. Despite all the barriers, the international community is optimistic that peace still has a chance, emphasizing that all reforms need time to take root, like anywhere else. "There are no immediate solutions to a crisis like this. This type of reform just takes time and people will get used to them," the diplomat told Reuters.
AFP 11 Dec 2001 Macedonian police to return to 15 ethnic Albanian villages SKOPJE, Dec 11 (AFP) - The Macedonian government will send police back to 15 villages formerly controlled by ethnic Albanian rebels on Thursday, an OSCE spokesman said. "Thursday is the day when the new police redeployment plan will start," Florin Pasnicu of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) told reporters here. The plan provides for the deployment of police into former conflict zones in northern areas of the country and an organised return of refugees who fled their homes during more than six months of fighting. The villages that will witness the return of police on Thursday are situated in the northwestern region of Tetovo, the area of the northern town of Kumanovo and the capital Skopje, Pasnicu said. "This phase we see as very important before employing the other phases of the plan," he added. The plan, adopted by Macedonian authorities and worked out with the international community, was agreed after a pilot project of police redeployment in five northern villages, launched in late October. Under the plan, the police units would include members of the country's large ethnic Albanian minority. "The entering of the police should discourage some people from committing crimes in the crisis regions," NATO spokesman Craig Ratcliff said. Residents of the villages were given fliers outlining the details of the multiethnic structure of police teams and explaining the amnesty of ethnic Albanian fighters of the National Liberation Army (NLA), the OSCE spokesman said. In accordance with the August 13 Western-brokered peace accord, Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski pardoned last week 33 of the 88 former rebels under the terms of an amnesty proclaimed in October. The NLA launched its insurgency in February in a bid to improve rights for ethnic Albanians, who make up almost one third of the country's two million people but Skopje accused the rebels of trying to unite northwestern Macedonia with Kosovo.
Reuters 10 Dec 2001 Ethnic Albanians Hold Up Macedonia Devolution Vote By Mark Heinrich SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonia's parliament on Friday put off a vote on devolving powers to municipalities after ethnic Albanian deputies refused to show up, jeopardizing a donors' conference needed to help sustain a peace accord. The peace process advanced on another front when President Boris Trajkovski announced he had pardoned 22 jailed ethnic Albanian guerrillas, bringing to 33 the number freed since an amnesty was launched on Wednesday. Ethnic Albanians had sought more control over their affairs in regions where they form majorities as a price for ending a seven-month uprising in pursuit of better civil rights. The Law on Local Self-Government, a key plank of the August peace accord, foundered in the assembly over angry ethnic Albanian allegations that several Macedonian-sponsored amendments had vitiated the legislation. Marathon mediation by diplomats from the European Union (news - web sites), which co-authored the peace deal, failed to bridge differences and parliament speaker Stojan Andov scrapped the session after the ethnic Albanian boycott, saying he would reconvene it on Monday if ``conditions permit.'' ''We should not overdramatize the situation,'' he told reporters. ''The government could decide to withdraw the bill for reworking. (Whether or not that happens), we can resume on Monday if the Albanians return.'' EU officials had said the bill would have to be enacted by Friday at the latest for the donors conference to be held by the end of the year, as the government had requested. ``The donors conference is now in doubt for this month. The condition that we put in place is still there -- no law, no conference,'' said one diplomat in the EU mission in Skopje. Macedonian MPs feared the bill drafted by the local government minister, an ethnic Albanian, could spawn ``cantonization'' or ''federalization'' effectively slicing up the tiny Balkan republic along ethnic lines, as in post-war Bosnia. RECIPE FOR SEPARATISM? Amendments were inserted to restrain the right of municipalities to merge -- which Macedonians called a trojan horse for secessionism given large swathes of heavily ethnic Albanian territory in the rebel north and northwest. Other amendments would preserve central jurisdiction over health care and education, on the grounds that both would otherwise collapse as no local financing was assured yet. ``There's no point taking part in this legislation until the changes that undermine its very goal, complete decentralization of powers which was the point of this peace deal, are withdrawn,'' said Ismet Ramadani, deputy leader in parliament for the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity. Deputies from both mainstream Macedonian parties, the ruling nationalist VMRO-DPMNE and the moderate opposition SDSM, ruled out scrapping the amendments. The SDSM said the government, in its haste to get a donors' meeting, rushed the bill to parliament without examining it. ``Joining municipalities could provoke the rest of the country by making impressions about autonomous groups that could lead into secession,'' said Radmila Sekerinska, a prominent SDSM deputy. ``This could ignite a new wave of fear and a new wave of conflict among different ethnic groups.'' Devolution was to cover budgeting, municipal planning, public services, culture, education, health care and welfare. The law, coupled with parliament's November 16 ratification of civil rights reforms, an amnesty for ex-rebels and a new IMF (news - web sites) budget discipline program approved on Thursday, would clear the way for donors to fund reforms and reconstruction. Skopje is now finalizing a plan to return Macedonian police and refugees to guerrilla zones in phases over a 50-day period, to start after all 88 jailed rebels are freed to ease tensions. In August, the rebel National Liberation Army, which seized Macedonia's northern hills in seven months of conflict, agreed to disband. Around 10 percent of Macedonia remains under the sway of the edgy ex-insurgents.
Dawn (dpa) 31 Dec 2001 Monday Rugova to testify against Milosevic BELGRADE, Dec 30: Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova is one of about 200 witnesses to be called to give evidence against Slobodan Milosevic on charges related to Kosovo , sources close to The Hague war crimes tribunal said on Sunday. Another to be called is the chief of the former OSCE Kosovo mission, William Walker, the sources said. The trial of the former Yugoslav President Milosevic on charges related to Kosovo is set to begin on Feb 12, but the prosecution is expected to ask the court to combine indictments for Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia so that a single trial can be held. Milosevic has been in custody in the Hague since June. The charges he faces include crimes against humanity, violations of the conventions of war and the Geneva Convention as well as genocide. The unofficial list of witnesses for the so-called "Kosovo Case" has been obtained by dpa in Belgrade. The list is to be made official by Jan 9, sources said, adding that the possibility of small changes could not be excluded. According to the list, the tribunal's Chief Prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, will also call French pathologist Eric Baccard, to testify. Other witnesses include the former leader of the British Liberal Democrat party, Paddy Ashdown. Walker, chief of the OSCE ceasefire verification mission to Kosovo, which was pulled out before the Kosovo war, is to testify about "Milosevic's political goal to raise number of Serbs in the province and change ethnic proportions in Kosovo", the tribunal list said. Among the witnesses are some - probably Serbs - who are being given protection. They are to testify about Milosevic's influence in decision-making within the Yugoslav army and the police, and also about a plan to hide the evidence of murders of ethnic Albanians. More than 400 bodies of ethnic Albanians were discovered on five locations in Serbia after the fall of the Milosevic regime in Oct 2000. According to the list, some local Albanians will testify about Serbian atrocities in Kosovo, the destruction of historical monuments, sexual assaults and Yugoslav army attacks.
AP 19 Dec 2001 Preparations for permanent criminal court begin, without U.S. support THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) International legal experts began laying the groundwork for the world's first permanent war crimes tribunal Wednesday, without U.S. backing. A permanent court to try those responsible for war crimes and possibly terrorist attacks is expected to open in the Netherlands next year with the support of the majority of the international community. The United States, however, opposes the court, which could put Americans on trial for alleged atrocities. "Everybody in the room should be aware that we will not be a part of it. We will not be there," Pierre-Richard Prosper, the U.S. ambassador for war crimes, told the Preparation for the International Criminal Court conference. The 1998 Rome treaty establishing the court needs 13 more ratifications to come into force. So far, it has the support of nearly every European country, including key U.S. allies Germany, England and France. Some delegates accused the United States of seeking justice for everyone but its own nationals. Dutch Foreign Affairs Minister Jozias van Aartsen said the Sept. 11 terror attacks are "precisely" the sort of crimes that should be prosecuted by the permanent court. The U.S. fears are "simply not realistic," he said. The United States is sending the wrong signal, he said, and "will not benefit from going it alone. It will be counterproductive" in the fight against terrorism, van Aartsen said. Under the Clinton administration, the United States signed the Rome statute along with more than 100 other countries. But Prosper maintained Wednesday that the treaty "lacks essential safeguards" to fend off biased prosecution. The criminal court is among international issues, including the Kyoto Protocol on global warming and the anti-landmine treaty, that has divided the United States and its allies over the past year. The Bush administration has opposed the court all along, and since the September attacks has said it prefers to try suspects in its own courts or at military tribunals. Legislation passed by the Senate last week would authorize President Bush to "use all means necessary" to free U.S. citizens detained in The Hague and to sanction countries that cooperate with the tribunal. "Our views and approach may differ from some people in this room, but our goals are common," Prosper told delegates. "We remain committed to working with the world community." The international court was designed as a neutral body that would fill the function of such ad hoc U.N. tribunals as those for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is among those being tried in a U.N. war crimes court. Advocates believe it also could prosecute terrorists who operate outside a conventional war, such as members of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden's organization. The court, however, would not consider crimes committed before its creation.
Guardian UK 12 Dec 2001 Two trials for Milosevic By Ian Black. Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav leader, refused yesterday to enter a plea in response to charges against him of genocide stemming from the killing and expulsion of tens of thousands of Muslims and Croats in the Bosnian war from 1992-95. But judges at the UN tribunal in the Hague ruled that his first trial - for war crimes in Kosovo in 1999 - would go ahead on February 12, while a separate trial later would combine the Bosnia and Croatia indictments. Now a familiar figure in his blue suit and matching tie, sitting defiantly but keeping his self-control, Mr Milosevic dismissed the genocide charge - the gravest possible in international law - as an "absurdity". The court's presiding judge, Richard May, entered a "not guilty" plea on his behalf. "I should be given credit for peace in Bosnia, not war," Mr Milosevic said in his fourth appearance since being surrendered by Belgrade last summer. The indictment charges that he "exercised effective control or substantial influence" over officials and officers who committed "the widespread killing of thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Bosnian Croats". The aim was to liquidate or deport the entire non-Serb population of parts of Bosnia. There is one count of genocide, one of complicity with genocide, and 27 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr Milosevic said: "The responsibility for the war in Bosnia lies with the [western] powers and their agents, not in Bosnia and not with Serbs, Serb people or Serb policy." Judge May did not cut off his microphone, as he has before. Richard Dicker, of the US-based group Human Rights Watch, said: "He deserves to make his arguments however objectionable they are."
BBC 11 Dec 2001 Milosevic defiant at genocide hearing Milosevic attempted to denounce the tribunal Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has appeared at The Hague war crimes tribunal to hear charges of genocide for the first time. He refused to enter a plea, and was silenced by Judge Richard May as he attempted to make a new verbal attack on the tribunal's legitimacy. I should be credited with peace in Bosnia, not for war Slobodan Milosevic Mr Milosevic listened - fidgeting, looking at his watch, and appearing defiant - as the indictment was read to the court in Serbian. It took well over an hour for the list of 29 accusations of genocide, murder and torture during the war in Bosnia to be read out by lawyers. The charges state that Mr Milosevic controlled the officials and officers who killed thousands of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. Indictment list of detention practices Thousands of people, says the indictment, were held in conditions "calculated to bring about the partial physical destruction of those groups". "Starvation, contaminated water, forced labour, inadequate medical care and constant physical and psychological assault" were used against those in detention, the indictment said. After Mr Milosevic's refusal to co-operate, a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf. Milosevic pointedly checked his watch several times The tribunal had already entered not guilty pleas on the ex-president's behalf to alleged crimes in Kosovo and Croatia. The Bosnia indictment accuses him of being part of a joint criminal enterprise, implicating him in all atrocities allegedly carried out by Bosnian Serbs during the war. These include the expulsion of more than 250,000 people, and the massacre of over 7,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995. In his remarks to the court before being silenced, Mr Milosevic called the charges against him a "supreme absurdity". Thousands were killed at Milosevic's behest, says indictment "I should be credited with peace in Bosnia, not for war," he said. "The responsibility for the war in Bosnia is with the forces that broke up Yugoslavia and their agents in Yugoslavia, not with the Serbs." The exchange of words was shorter than on his previous court appearances, when he has become involved in heated exchange with Judge May. Mr Milosevic's trial on the Kosovo charges is set to begin on 12 February. The prosecution wanted the court to combine all three indictments into a single trial, on the grounds that the former president masterminded a plan to incorporate the Serb-populated areas of Croatia, Bosnia and all of Kosovo into a greater Serbian state. The move would have meant a delay in the start of the trial. But on Tuesday, Judge May announced that the Kosovo trial would go ahead as planned in February. He did agree that the Croatia and Bosnia trials could be combined at a later stage, but a date was not set.
AP 10 Dec 2001 Annan: Saving One Life Is to Save Humanity Itself OSLO - Declaring that to save one life is to save humanity itself, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan Monday called on the world to respect the individual, whose fundamental rights have too often been sacrificed for the good of the state. Accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, Annan told a gala audience that ``the sovereignty of states must no longer be used as a shield for gross violations of human rights.'' ``What begins with the failure to uphold the dignity of one life, all too often ends with a calamity for entire nations,'' he said in his prepared remarks. Annan, a native of Ghana, shared this year's 100th Nobel Peace Prize with the United Nations as a whole. He received the award for bringing ``new life'' to the world body in his fight for human rights, and against AIDS and terrorism. A 63-year career U.N. official, Annan, was elected as the world's top diplomat in 1997 and reelected in June for a second five-year term that begins next month. Calling the 20th century among the worst in history, Annan said the beginning of new century, especially the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States, had disabused those who thought ''progress toward global peace and prosperity is inevitable.'' But he said he believed the mission of the United Nations in the 21st century would be defined by a new, more profound awareness of the dignity of human life, regardless of race, religion, gender or circumstances of birth. His vision is to eradicate poverty among the poorest of the poor, prevent conflict and promote democracy and human rights. He singled out the example of a new-born Afghan girl, whose mother would comfort her like any mother anywhere in the world. But he said that to be born a girl in today's Afghanistan was to begin life centuries away from prosperity. ``We must focus, as never before, on improving the conditions of the individual men and women who give the state or nation its richness and character,'' Annan said. ``We must begin with the young Afghan girl, recognizing that saving that one life is to save humanity itself.'' The Oct. 12 announcement of Annan's award was overshadowed by the Sept. 11 carnage of hijackers who slammed an airliner into the World Trade Center, killing more than 3,000 people in minutes a short distance from U.N. headquarters. ``We have entered the third millennium through a gate of fire. If today, after the horror of 11 September, we see better, and we see further, we will realize that humanity is indivisible'' with ``bonds that bind us all in pain as in prosperity,'' Annan said. He reminded listeners that the United Nations was founded on the ashes of World War II but horrors had not subsided, citing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda or the war in Bosnia. ``A genocide begins with the killing of one man -- not for what he has done, but because of who he is, `` he said. Quoting from the Koran, Confucius, the Jewish Talmud and the Christian Gospels, Annan repeatedly pleaded for tolerance. ``The idea that there is one people in possession of the truth, one answer to the world's ills, or one solution to humanity's needs, has done untold harm throughout history --- especially in the last century,'' he said. ``Today's real borders are not between nations, but between powerful and powerless, free and fettered, privileged and humiliated `` he said. ``Today, no walls can separate humanitarian or human rights crises in one part of the world from national security crises in another.'' ``It is in this spirit that I humbly accept the Centennial Nobel Peace Prize,'' Annan told the dignitaries.
BBC 19 Dec 2001 New evidence on Polish massacre - Polish investigators say the latest evidence about a 1941 massacre of Jews in the eastern village of Jedwabne appears to confirm suggestions that German troops were not involved. The killing of several hundred people had been blamed on Nazi troops, but evidence has recently come to light indicating that the atrocity may have been carried out by local Poles. Now an investigation into bullets found at the site has found that they were not of a type used by the Germans at the time. The investigators say they also have no evidence indicating any significant German presence in the area. The possibility that Poles were responsible for the killings led to a national debate in Poland on wartime attitudes towards Jews. President Alexander Kwasniewski apologised earlier this year for the role Poles played in the massacre. Ballistics test sheds light on Polish Holocaust massacre By Beata Pasek, The Associated Press WARSAW, Poland - Examination of spent ammunition from a site where villagers murdered hundreds of their Jewish neighbors in a 1941 pogrom undermines assertions that Nazi soldiers were directly involved, investigators said today. Hundreds of Jews are believed to have been beaten to death or burned alive in a barn in the village of Jedwabne. But investigators said today that forensic evidence shows the bullets found last spring on the ground where the barn once stood came from weapons that weren't used by Nazi troops at the time. An investigation into the origin of the bullets was launched by Poland's Institute of National Remembrance after long-suppressed details of the massacre were published in a book by a Polish emigre historian, Jan Tomasz Gross. The book, "Neighbors," sparked national soul-searching among Poles, many of whom could not believe that anybody but the Nazis would have committed such an atrocity. Radoslaw Ignatiew, prosecutor in charge of investigation, said bullets found during a partial exhumation at the site came either from weapons that weren't introduced until 1942 - well after the massacre - or older rifles not used by Germans in World War II. When the bullets were found, investigators said the spent ammunition appeared to be a type used by German troops during the war, suggesting that soldiers might have fired at Jews trying to flee the burning barn. But further investigation appeared to rule that out. "At the moment the assumption that arms were fired at the barn in Jedwabne is highly improbable," said Ignatiew. Gross said in his book that Nazis were in Jedwabne and even photographed the pogrom, but did not participate in the killing. Full results are expected in the institute's final report. It was due to be completed this year, but investigators said today their work could take several more months. The overall probe is intended in part to determine whether any surviving Poles could be prosecuted, although Leon Kieres, chairman of the institute, has said he doubts enough evidence against individuals can be found. President Aleksander Kwasniewski begged forgiveness for the killings during a 60th anniversary commemoration on July 10, but maintained that the massacre was incited by Nazis. The country's Roman Catholic Bishops also have issued an "apology to God" for atrocities against Polish Jews in Jedwabne and elsewhere.
Reuters 29 Dec 2001 Bitter lament of the executioners - The soldiers who executed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife 12 years ago are still waiting for better times, reports DANIEL SIMPSON. Christmas has never been quite the same for Dorin Carlan and Octavian Gheorghiu since they executed Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife on December 25, 1989. But flashbacks to the day they pumped bullets into Romania's first couple disturb them less than bitterness about their own fate. They brought Eastern Europe's bloodiest revolution to its climax, yet feel betrayed by the men they helped to seize power. "The whole process was a farce," said Carlan, 38, and now retired from the elite paratroop regiment selected for the task. Many Romanians agree. The belief that second-tier communists hijacked a popular revolt, or even engineered it, is widespread, particularly since the man who emerged as president, Ion Iliescu, has run the country for all but four years since. The haste with which the Ceausescus were put to death by the cabal that took over only fuels popular suspicions further. "Our commander summoned us at 8 am on Christmas Day," said Gheorghiu. "He wanted eight volunteers for a vital mission, with a 90 per cent chance we wouldn't return. We stepped forward." Within hours the eight were in two helicopters, hugging the ground to dodge radar as they flew to Targoviste, an ugly steel town Ceausescu had planned to make his new capital. They had no idea that the man who had tyrannised Romania for 24 years was now locked up with his wife Elena in a poky office at the rust-coloured Army barracks where they landed. "We were all trying to work out what was going on," Carlan said on his first return visit to the execution site. The Ceausescus had been captured just three days earlier. Victor Stanculescu, a general who held senior posts in the first post-communist Government, says the couple's fate was decided in a defence ministry toilet early on Christmas Day. "It was the only safe place to talk," he said. Hours later he was standing in the snow in Targoviste to hand-pick the executioners. "Stanculescu singled three of us out and took us to one side," Gheorghiu said. "The Ceausescus were inside, he told us, and they were about to be condemned to death." After learning the nature of their mission all three - Gheorghiu, Carlan and Ionel Boeru - were terrified. Not so much by the task, but by what might follow. "We didn't trust anyone," Gheorghiu said. "We thought we'd be killed as soon as the job was done." They waited in a corridor while prosecutor Gica Popa, who died mysteriously a few months later, accused the Ceausescus of genocide and bleeding Romania dry. The lawyer defending them joined in too and the trial took less than an hour. Video footage of the proceedings shows the Ceausescus spitting defiance throughout, right up until the moment their wrists were bound and they were dragged outside. "They thought we were complete nobodies," Gheorghiu said. "I hated them both with such a passion I couldn't control myself." Nicolae, 71, walked from the courtroom singing snatches from the Internationale, a socialist anthem, and proclaiming history would judge him well. His wife, the more feared of the two, was less resigned, telling everyone to go to hell. Seconds later they were crumpled corpses beside a muddy wall - Nicolae buckled backwards on his knees staring at the sky and Elena slumped sideways in a pool of her own blood. "They said they wanted to die together so we lined them up, took six paces back and simply opened fire. No one ordered us to start, we were just told to get it over with," Gheorghiu said. "I put seven bullets into him and then emptied the rest of my magazine into her head," Carlan said. "Bits of her brain were spattered here on the floor. "Then people from all directions started shooting. I was scared but I had this huge sense of relief. I could feel the hopes of 23 million people pumping through my veins." But euphoria soon gave way to distress and later anger - much of it directed at Ion Iliescu, the leader of the anti-Ceausescu faction which surfaced in December 1989. "We made it possible for him to take power and he hasn't even bothered to thank us, let alone reward us," Gheorghiu said. "The worst thing is I even believed in his programmes and look at the results. Romania is worse off and so are we." Gheorghiu and Carlan are not alone in struggling to come to terms with the events of 1989. No one has been officially declared responsible for more than 1000 deaths in the revolution and living standards have slumped for most. "How am I supposed to live on an Army pension of 500,000 lei [$39] a month?" asked Carlan. "I have three kids to support." Although rich in natural resources, Romania has not yet recovered from Ceausescu's warped brand of economics, especially his 1980s decision to pay off all foreign debts by strangling domestic consumption and exporting as much as possible. Equally enduring is the psychological and social fallout from surveillance by his Securitate secret police, which enlisted one in seven Romanians as informers, and intrusive policies such as severe family planning restrictions. "We didn't win the battle in 1989 like everyone else. We barely got started," said Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, a leading academic. "The invasion of privacy in Romania cannot be compared with any other communist country except perhaps North Korea." Frustration at the slow pace of economic and political reform has led a few to yearn for Ceausescu-era certainties. Headstones were erected at the couple's unmarked graves a few years ago and supporters light candles there. Most Romanians are more resigned to their fate, despite resentment that democracy has not yet delivered prosperity. The national mood is well evoked by the expression "asta e" (that's the way it is), a sort of melancholic "c'est la vie". But Ceausescu's executioners find it harder than most to deal with the sense of having been cheated by the revolution. "Our actions changed this country's history, yet it seems that only a few people profited," lamented Carlan. "We'll dream about this forever," Gheorghiu said. "But does Iliescu think about it now he has what he wanted? I doubt it."
AFP 19 Dec 2001 Russian soldiers running amuck in Chechnya: rights watchdog by Francoise Michel MOSCOW, Dec 19 (AFP) - Russian troops are running amuck in Chechnya, looting homes and executing civilians, a respected rights group charged Wednesday amid new reports of marauding in the breakaway republic. The watchdog Memorial also condemned the pan-European Council of Europe for failing to reprimand the Russian government for its soldiers' behavior. The group charged that Russian "death squads" were now roaming the North Caucasus republic, attacking civilians and exhorting bribes, while Western governments paid lip service to the alleged atrocities. "The Russian military is now running out of control," said Oleg Orlov of the Russian human rights watchdog Memorial. "They are not following procedure orders issued by the prosecutor general, and terrorizing civilians." The allegations came amid Russian reports that federal forces had killed 17 "extremists" in the latest 24-hour span of fighting ending early Wednesday without suffering any losses. The latest uproar concerning Russian troops' conduct was sparked by reports of looting, illegal arrests and shootings during this month's "mopping up" operations in the village of Argun, one of the rebels' few strongholds throughout the two-year war. An aide worker, Luisa Betergireyeva of the Russia-Chechen Friendship Society, was shot dead by Russian soldiers when she went to investigate the Argun reports last week, her organization said Tuesday. Memorial accused federal troops of failing to follow many of the instructions issued by Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov for proper conduct during the Russian sweeps. These were prepared over the summer after the Kremlin, facing pressure from the Council of Europe, strongly condemned the Russian soldiers' conduct in Chechnya. None of these rules were followed in Argun, Orlov told reporters. "In the latest operations, Russian soldiers broke every single one of Ustinov's orders," said Orlov, accusing Russian soldiers of stealing household goods and demanding bribes from young Chechen men who they had threatened to arrest. Houses of families of suspected rebel fighters were being blown up in retribution by soldiers who arrive in armored personnel carriers, Orlov charged. And he accused the Council of Europe, who senior representatives visited Chechnya in early December, of holding talks with Moscow leadership over the allegations without achieving any results. "Dialogue, dialogue, and no confrontation -- this strategy has produced no results, and clearly does not work," said Orlov. Separately, the special Russian government representative on human rights issues in Chechnya -- while refusing to be drawn on the Memorial charges -- described as "critical" the plight of Chechen refugees seeking refuge in neighboring Dagestan. He blamed the situation on government bureaucracy, noting that responsibility for supplying refugees with assistance has been switched over to the interior ministry -- whose troops are now fighting in Chechnya. "The interior ministry needs time to figure the situation out," Kalamanov said. Russian soldiers stormed into Chechnya in October 1999 in what was prepared as a lightning "anti-terror" operation aimed at eliminating suspected rebel bases. Moscow has acknowledged that more than 3,500 Russian troops and nearly 30,000 rebel gunmen had died in the fighting.
Reuters 6 Dec 2001 Russia vows winter campaign against Chechen rebels MOSCOW - Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Thursday that Russia will seek to smash rebel resistance in Chechnya with a winter offensive targeting the guerrillas' military leadership. Ivanov, visiting the Volga region city of Yekaterinburg, also said the army planned in the spring to cut its troop presence in the Northern Caucasus, which includes Chechnya. ``Special operations are being conducted right now in Chechnya, practically on a permanent basis, and involving a large number of forces,'' Ivanov said. ``This winter we will seek to finish off the remaining bandit groups, and capture or destroy their ringleaders. This I promise you,'' he said in comments broadcast on Russian television. Russian forces poured into Chechnya in October 1999, three years after a humiliating withdrawal which left the republic with de facto independence from Moscow. The retreat left Chechnya awash with arms and politically unstable, and elected Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov proved unable to impose law and order in a republic where clan loyalties proved stronger than central control. An incursion by Islamic militants into the neighboring Russian province of Dagestan in August 1999 proved the last straw. Vladimir Putin, then prime minister, ordered Russian troops back into the province to restore Moscow's control, citing lawlessness and rampant hostage-taking. INTERNATIONAL CRITICISM More than two years later, the ``anti-terrorist'' operation has failed to capture leading rebel field commanders, and it attracted international condemnation over widespread reports of civilian casualties and human rights abuses. Putin, now Russian president, has bristled at the criticism and said the West should thank Russia for its actions. He says Russia is battling in Chechnya the same sort of international terrorism that lay behind the September 11 attacks in U.S. cities. Those attacks, and Putin's stalwart support for the subsequent ``war on terrorism'' launched by President Bush, won the Russian leader a second hearing on Chechnya. Despite retaining nominal control of the bulk of the republic, except its remote mountainous south, Russian forces suffer almost daily losses in hit-and-run guerrilla attacks. However, Ivanov said on Thursday that the rebels were worn out. Consultations with an envoy of rebel leader Maskhadov could only concern how those whose hands were not ``covered in blood'' could take up a presidential offer of ending the struggle and returning to civilian life.
AFP 4 Dec 2001 Chechen peacemaker becomes latest victim of "climate of hate" by Francoise Michel MOSCOW, Dec 4 (AFP) - A leading Chechen who helped to end the 1994-96 separatist war has become the latest victim of reprisals against pro-Russian Chechens that have got fiercer since informal peace talks began two weeks ago. The body of Rizvan Lorsanov, 52, an intermediary in the earlier conflict who declared his loyalty to Moscow when fighting flared again in October 1999, was found in the Shali region, southeast of the Chechen capital Grozny, the pro-Russian administration said Tuesday. "His body and two others were discovered in the wreck of a vehicle which hit a mine," an administration spokesman Abdullah Izrailov told AFP, adding that the mine was set off by remote control as Lorsanov was returning from the Russian military base at Khankala, outside Grozny. Lorsanov had gone to the base in order to inquire after the fate of a Chechen youth who had disappeared in the wake of Russian army raids in the area, Interfax reported. "There is no chance this was an accident. It was a premeditated assassination. Lorsanov was a very well-known personality in Chechnya who would not have harmed a fly," said pro-Russian administration official Ali Alavdinov. Lorsanov organised the first meeting in 1995 between Russian General Gennady Troshev and the chief of general staff of the separatist forces Aslan Maskhadov, who was subsequently elected Chechen president. The meeting took place at his home, as did a later meeting between General Alexander Lebed, chief negotiator on the Russian side, and Maskhadov, in August 1996 which led rapidly to an agreement ending the conflict. But his murder came amid a spiral of violence sparked by the first tentative talks last month between representatives of President Vladimir Putin and Maskhadov. Lorsanov's friends and colleagues praised his peacemaking efforts Tuesday but conceded that he had probably paid the ultimate price for backing reconciliation as opposed to conflict. "He always did everything he could to stop the war, to save Russian hostages or missing Chechens. He was very courageous," Galina Kovalskaya, a freelance journalist and friend of Lorsanov, told AFP. "The people who are waging the war do not like those who oppose it. The separatists regarded him as a traitor," she added. Meanwhile, the head of the pro-Russian administration in the southern republic, Akhmad Kadyrev, paid tribute to Lorsanov's contribution "towards normalising the situation in Chechnya." Rebels consider Chechens who collaborate with the Russian authorities as traitors, and several dozen officials have been killed since the start of the present conflict. A deputy to the local administration at Urus-Martan, 25 kilometres (15 miles) southwest of Grozny, named as Mamatsuyev with no first name, was shot dead Monday by an unknown gunman in neighbouring Ingushetia, local security officials told RIA Novosti. Last week a female Chechen suicide bomber killed a Russian general, underscoring the climate of hate wrought by war, according to Russian human rights groups.
AFP 4 Dec 2001 Conference on civilians in occupied territories stirs row GENEVA, A conference which is due to focus on Israel's handling of security in the occupied Palestinian territories will go ahead on Wednesday despite Israeli protests, Swiss officials said on Tuesday. Israel had earlier appealed for the special one-day meeting to examine the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention on protecting civilians in the occupied territories to be called off following the deadly suicide bombings in Israel over the weekend. Switzerland has been organising the conference in its capacity as depository of the wartime humanitarian code, but the severe escalation in violence in Israel and the occupied territories in recent days has raised the political stakes for the meeting. Israel, which is boycotting the Geneva conference, on Tuesday launched air strikes across the West Bank and Gaza Strip following a series of retaliatory raids on Palestinian territories the day before. "The answer is clear. The state parties which called for the conference and have announced they would be taking part have not changed their stance," Swiss foreign ministry spokeswoman Muriel Berset said. Israel's ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Yaakov Levy, said the meeting of about 100 countries would be "meaningless" if it did not take into account the attacks over the weekend in Jerusalem and Haifa, which killed at least 25 people. But Berset indicated late on Tuesday that Israel's long-standing boycott counted against its appeal for a postponement or a cancellation and that a preparatory panel had not changed its stance. Twenty-five countries or groupings on the panel, including the OIC, the Arab League, the US and the European Union (EU) helped to draft a final declaration for the conference. Levy said he had appealed to the EU to support Israel's position. The conference of countries party to the Geneva Conventions was convened following a request by the United Nations General Assembly as well as the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Conference members in October 2000. Swiss officials said last week that they had planned carefully to avoid confrontation and negotiated a "balanced" final declaration for the conference. "There is no space for last minute controversy," Pierre-Yves Fux of the Swiss foreign ministry told journalists. The Fourth Geneva Convention, a cornerstone of international humanitarian law which Israel ratified in 1951, provides protection for civilians notably those living under military occupation. Israel disputes the validity of the Convention in the territories, which it calls "disputed territory". "In our view, it's an attempt to politicise a humanitarian issue, we have said from the beginning we would not take part," an Israeli diplomat said. About 100 of the 189 states which are party to the Geneva Conventions are expected to attend, according to Swiss officials. "If it appears that Arab countries are raising the stakes, such during discussions on a third approved (Red Cross) emblem, when inflammatory texts were introduced, then it will be all wrong," a western diplomat told AFP. "It is not an event aimed against Israel," she added. The emblem issue has kept Israel's equivalent of the Red Cross out of the International Red Cross movement largely due to Middle Eastern opposition. Although the United States is also staying away from the Geneva Convention meeting, Swiss officials said the US, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, formally helped prepare the meeting, while Israel was consulted informally. Switzerland said the declaration would stress that respect for the Fourth Convention and humanitarian law was essential for a just and lasting peace. But Fux acknowledged that the real test will be if it has an impact in the field. "If we have less civilian victims and less violence and a contribution to a political solution which takes into account the interest of the civilians, that will be a success," he added. Amnesty International on Tuesday called on the conference to back moves to send international observers to the region. A previous conference in Geneva in July 1999, also boycotted by Israel, was adjourned within minutes to avoid upsetting a resumption of the Middle East peace process at the time, according to Swiss officials. It issued a statement reaffirming the Convention's applicability in "Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem". Wednesday's conference will also hear from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, and the UN Refugee Works Agency (UNRWA) which takes care of Palestinian refugees.
UNWATCH (Geneva) 5 Dec 2001 THE WEDNESDAY WATCH - ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY FROM UN WATCH IN GENEVA Issue 71 NEWS: At the instigation of the Arab League, the Swiss government today convened a meeting of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The stature and effectiveness of international law suffers, when it is selectively applied, and wrongly applied, for political reasons. ANALYSIS: With the horrors of World War II and the Nazi extermination plan of global Jewry still fresh in the minds of their signatories, the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 were established to protect civilians and wounded in time of war. The reconvening of signatories to the Fourth Geneva Convention (on the protection of civilians), for an extraordinary meeting to condemn Israel, sets a dangerous precedent in the politicization of international humanitarian law. Israel is the only state that has ever been targeted for a special reconvening, first on 15 July 1999 and the second time, today. Despite the terrible toll on civilians of conflicts in Rwanda, Bosnia, Sudan, and Congo, no attempt was made to hold a meeting on the Fourth Geneva Convention in those cases. Such selective application calls into question the impartiality and genuine humanitarian concerns required of such international instruments. The Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs has stated clearly why this meeting will take place. In their letter to the High Contracting Parties, the Swiss explain that the meeting will be held "[f]ollowing a request by the States Parties members of the League of Arab States." The Arab League claims that the High Contracting Parties have the obligation to take action against Israel, because Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention calls on signatories to "respect and ensure respect" for the Convention. This article, however, was intended as a demand that states ensure respect for the Convention by their own agents, not as a principle of relations between states. Jean Pictet, a former official of the International Committee of the Red Cross, explained the term "ensure respect" in the American Journal of International Law as implementation of domestic legislation. There is no basis in the Fourth Geneva Convention for meetings to examine specific cases. Proponents of the reconvening will argue that there is nothing which prevents such a meeting. They are wrong. The ICRC has taken a clear position on reconvening the High Contracting Parties in its explanation of Article 7 of the first Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions. Article 7 states: "The depository of the Protocol shall convene a meeting of the High Contracting Parties, at the request of one or more of the said Parties, to consider general problems concerning the Additional Protocol" (emphasis added). In its comment on the "Object and Purpose of the Meeting," the ICRC states, "With the expression 'general problems', the Conference wished to exclude the discussion of specific situations" (emphasis added). The possibility of convening the High Contracting Parties for a conference to address a specific situation was clearly related by a previous conference on the Geneva Conventions, whose First Committee specifically approved, by vote, the inclusion of the word "general." This meeting marks a step backwards for the rule of law. Those states which chose not to participate in this farce are to be congratulated.
Independent UK 5 Dec 2001 Geneva Conventions states meet on Israel By Jonathan Fowler, AP Writer Overriding US protests, Switzerland opened an international conference today to examine whether Israel is violating the Geneva Conventions on warfare by its occupation of Palestinian territory. The meeting of nations that have signed the 1949 treaties on the conduct of war is looking at the situation in the Middle East and is expected to conclude that Israel is breaching the accords. It is expected also to call on Israel to respect the agreement on the treatment of civilians in occupied territory and allow independent observers to monitor the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The United States is boycotting the meeting, claiming it is "counterproductive." Israel also has refused to attend. "We believe that convening the conference after the massacre of almost 30 Israelis over the weekend renders it even more meaningless that it would be in any case," said Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Yaakov Levy. Levy approached Switzerland – the depository of the Geneva Conventions – and asked for the meeting to be canceled or postponed, but the request was rejected. The 189 signatories of the conventions last met in July 1999, also to discuss the Middle East, but suspended their session after 17 minutes, citing positive developments in the region. Arab states and many other signatories have been calling for a new meeting since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in late September 2000. In the 14 months of fighting since, more than 780 people on the Palestinian side have died and more than 230 on the Israeli side. Switzerland has condemned as a breach of the conventions Israel's policy of building Jewish settlements on land conquered in the 1967 Mideast war. About 200,000 Israelis live in the settlements. Swiss officials have also criticized Israeli executions without trial of Palestinian militants suspected of targeting Israel, and a blockade of Palestinian–inhabited areas. Israel defends its policy, maintaining that the West Bank and Gaza are disputed territory, not occupied land, and therefore the conventions do not apply. Human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday cited "grave breaches" of the conventions by Israel. But, it said, Palestinian militants also were breaking the convention by targeting civilians. All signatories – including Israel – are pledged to respect civilians' rights and to make sure others do likewise. Under the conventions states are supposed to prosecute their own soldiers if they commit war crimes. They can also turn to other organizations to set up special courts, like the UN war crimes tribunals for former Yugoslavia or Rwanda. But there are no legal measures to ensure compliance, and no sanctions specified if signatories do not respect the agreements.
ICRC 5 December 2001 Press Release 01/65 . Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention: ICRC participation and statement Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today took part as an observer in the Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, convened by Switzerland in Geneva. On this occasion, the ICRC made a statement reaffirming the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied since 1967 by the State of Israel and highlighting humanitarian issues in relation to the occupation and the current violence. The ICRC was not involved in preparations for the conference, but has always welcomed all individual and joint efforts by States party to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil their obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. In view of the current humanitarian situation, the ICRC again called upon all parties concerned to make every possible effort to spare civilian lives and preserve a measure of humanity. The steady deterioration of the humanitarian situation over the last few months and, in particular, the tragic events of the past few days have highlighted the need to break the spiral of violence and restore respect for international humanitarian law. The ICRC was represented at the conference by Mr François Bugnion, Director for International Law and Communication, and three other staff members.
ICRC 5 Dec 2001 . Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention Press release Statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva, 5 December 2001 1. Pursuant to the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law and to the mandate conferred on it by the States party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) established a permanent presence in Israel, the neighbouring Arab countries and the occupied territories in 1967 with a view to carrying out its humanitarian tasks in the region and to working for the faithful application of international humanitarian law. 2. In accordance with a number of resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council and by the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, which reflect the view of the international community, the ICRC has always affirmed the de jure applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to the territories occupied since 1967 by the State of Israel, including East Jerusalem. This Convention, ratified by Israel in 1951, remains fully applicable and relevant in the current context of violence. As an Occupying Power, Israel is also bound by other customary rules relating to occupation, expressed in the Regulations annexed to the Hague Convention respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 18 October 1907. 3. In general terms, the Fourth Geneva Convention protects the civilian population of occupied territories against abuses on the part of an Occupying Power, in particular by ensuring that it is not discriminated against, that it is protected against all forms of violence, and that despite occupation and war it is allowed to live as normal a life as possible, in accordance with its own laws, culture and traditions. While humanitarian law confers certain rights on the Occupying Power, it also imposes limits on the scope of its powers. Being only a temporary administrator of occupied territory, the Occupying Power must not interfere with its original economic and social structures, organization, legal system or demography. It must ensure the protection, security and welfare of the population living under occupation. This also implies allowing the normal development of the territory, if the occupation lasts for a prolonged period of time. 4. More precisely, the Fourth Geneva Convention sets out rules aimed at safeguarding the dignity and physical integrity of persons living under occupation, including detainees. It prohibits all forms of physical and mental ill-treatment and coercion, collective punishment, and reprisals against protected persons or property. It also prohibits the transfer of parts of the Occupying Power's civilian population into the occupied territory, forcible transfer or deportation of protected persons from the occupied territory, and destruction of real or personal property, except when such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations. 5. In the course of its activities in the territories occupied by Israel, the ICRC has repeatedly noted breaches of various provisions of international humanitarian law, such as the transfer by Israel of parts of its population into the occupied territories, the destruction of houses, failure to respect medical activities, and detention of protected persons outside the occupied territories. Certain practices which contravene the Fourth Geneva Convention have been incorporated into laws and administrative guidelines and have been sanctioned by the highest judicial authorities. While acknowledging the facilities it has been granted for the conduct of its humanitarian tasks, the ICRC has regularly drawn the attention of the Israeli authorities to the suffering and the heavy burden borne by the Palestinian population owing to the occupation policy and, in line with its standard practice, has increasingly expressed its concern through bilateral and multilateral representations and in public appeals. In particular, the ICRC has expressed growing concern about the consequences in humanitarian terms of the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The settlement policy has often meant the destruction of Palestinian homes, the confiscation of land and water resources and the parcelling out of the territories. Measures taken to extend the settlements and to protect the settlers, entailing the destruction of houses, land requisitions, the sealing-off of areas, roadblocks and the imposition of long curfews, have also seriously hindered the daily life of the Palestinian population. However, the fact that settlements have been established in violation of the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention does not mean that civilians residing in those settlements can be the object of attack. They are protected by humanitarian law as civilians as long as they do not take an active part in fighting. 6. The ICRC has also drawn the attention of the Israeli authorities to the effects of prolonged curfews and the sealing-off of certain areas by the Israel Defense Forces. The resulting restrictions on movements have disastrous consequences for the entire Palestinian population. They hamper the activities of emergency medical services as well as access to health care, workplaces, schools and places of worship, and have a devastating effect on the economy. They also prevent, for months on end, Palestinian families from visiting relatives detained in Israel. The concern caused by these practices has grown considerably during the past 14 months as measures taken to contain the upsurge of violence have led to a further deterioration in the living conditions of the population under occupation. 7. The ICRC has reminded all those taking part in the violence that whenever armed force is used the choice of means and methods employed is not unlimited. Today, in view of the sharp increase in armed confrontations, the ICRC has to stress that Palestinian armed groups operating within or outside the occupied territories are also bound by the principles of international humanitarian law. Apart from the Fourth Geneva Convention, which relates to the protection of the civilian population, there are other universally accepted rules and principles of international humanitarian law that deal with the conduct of military operations. They stipulate in particular that only military objectives may be attacked. Thus indiscriminate attacks, such as bomb attacks by Palestinian individuals or armed groups against Israeli civilians, and acts intended to spread terror among the civilian population are absolutely and unconditionally prohibited. The same applies to targeted attacks on and the killing of Palestinian individuals by the Israeli authorities while those individuals are not directly taking part in the hostilities or immediately endangering human life. Reprisals against civilians and their property are also prohibited. When a military objective is targeted, all feasible precautions must be taken to minimize civilian casualties and damage to civilian property. To avoid endangering the civilian population, those bearing weapons and those taking part in armed violence must distinguish themselves from civilians. 8. Demonstrations against the occupying forces by the civilian population under occupation or stand-offs between them are not acts of war. They should therefore not be dealt with by military methods and means. When faced with the civilian population, Israeli forces must exercise restraint: any use of force must be proportionate, all necessary precautions must be taken to avoid casualties, and the lethal use of firearms must be strictly limited to what is unavoidable as an immediate measure to protect life. 9. Access to emergency medical services for all those in need is also of paramount importance in the current situation. Such access must not be unduly delayed or denied. Ambulances and medical personnel must be allowed to move about unharmed and must not be prevented from discharging their medical duties. All those taking part in the violence must respect and assist the medical services, whether deployed by the armed forces, civilian organizations, the Palestine Red Crescent Society, the Magen David Adom, the ICRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies or other humanitarian organizations. 10. Article 1 common to the four Geneva Conventions stipulates that the "High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances". This conference is to be viewed within that context. The ICRC has always welcomed all individual and joint efforts made by States party to the Geneva Conventions to fulfil this obligation and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. These efforts are all the more vital as violations of humanitarian law are far too common around the globe. 11. The means used to meet these legal and political responsibilities are naturally a matter to be decided upon by States. Whatever the means chosen, however, the ICRC wishes to emphasize that any action States may decide to take at international level must be aimed at achieving practical results and at ensuring application of and compliance with international humanitarian law, in the interests of the protected population. 12. Beyond all legal considerations and in view of the current humanitarian situation, the ICRC again calls upon all parties concerned to make every possible effort to spare civilian lives and preserve a measure of humanity. 13. For its part, the ICRC will continue to do its utmost to assist and protect all victims in accordance with its mandate and with the principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence which govern its humanitarian work. It counts on the full support of the parties concerned in promoting compliance with the humanitarian rules and facilitating humanitarian activities, which may also help pave the way towards the establishment of peace between all peoples and nations in the region. 14. The steady deterioration of the humanitarian situation over the last few months and, in particular, the tragic events of the past few days have highlighted the need to break the spiral of violence and restore respect for international humanitarian law.
Reuters 5 Dec 2001 Gerhart Riegner Dies; Warned U.S. in 1942 Of Coming Holocaust By Clare Nullis Associated Press Tuesday, December 4, 2001; Page B07 GENEVA -- Gerhart Riegner, 90, who tried to alert the world about the planned Nazi Holocaust and later led the World Jewish Congress, died of pneumonia Dec. 3 in a hospital here. He was a World Jewish Congress official in Geneva when he cabled the U.S. vice consul in the Swiss city Aug. 8, 1942, describing Adolf Hitler's plan to deport an estimated 4 million Jews to Eastern Europe to annihilate them. The State Department tried to verify Mr. Riegner's telegram with the Vatican and the Red Cross. Both said they knew of mistreatment and deportations of Jews but not of a mass extermination plan. Mr. Riegner said that for the rest of his life he was haunted by the belief that many of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis might have been saved if the United States and Britain had acted promptly on his warning. "Never did I feel so strongly the sense of abandonment, powerlessness and loneliness as when I sent messages of disaster and horror to the free world and no one believed me," he recalled in his memoirs. Mr. Riegner was secretary-general of the World Jewish Congress from 1965 to 1983 and then became its honorary vice president. He also worked on improving relations between Israel and the Roman Catholic Church and was present at the signing of the basic accord normalizing relations between Israel and the Holy See in 1993. At the United Nations, he campaigned to rescind the 1975 General Assembly vote that Zionism equals racism. The resolution was annulled in 1991. Mr. Riegner was born into an intellectual Jewish family in Germany. His first experience with anti-Semitism came when another boy yelled, "You dirty little Jew," at him. "Filthy little Christian," Mr. Riegner shouted back -- a response that later caused him great shame. In 1933, Nazi thugs stood outside his parents' Berlin house yelling, "Jews out! Jews out!" while Mr. Riegner sat in the bath, frozen in terror. The family fled to France and then moved to Switzerland. Mr. Riegner, a lawyer by training, was appointed to staff the office of the newly founded World Jewish Congress in Geneva and remained in Switzerland throughout the war. On July 29, 1942, he received a telephone call from a friend at the Federation of Jewish Communities in Switzerland with news that a German industrialist -- apparently with a bad conscience -- had told him of a plan being discussed by Hitler to exterminate the Jews of Europe. "We discussed it for five or six hours, walking along the lakeshore. Did we have to take it seriously? Was it conceivable to kill millions of people? Was it credible?" Riegner agonized. He decided it was. On Aug. 8, 1942, Mr. Riegner asked the U.S. vice consul in Geneva to inform the U.S. government of the plan and to transmit the contents of the telegram to Stephen Wise, president of the World Jewish Congress and a friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. "Received alarming report," Mr. Riegner cabled, "that in Fuehrer's headquarters plan discussed and under consideration, according to which all Jews in countries occupied or controlled by Germany, numbering 3 1/2 to 4 million, should, after deportation and concentration in the East, be exterminated at one blow to resolve once and for all the Jewish question in Europe." Mr. Riegner's telegram was the first authoritative word that the Nazis actually had a coordinated extermination plan. However, it was not until January 1944 that Roosevelt created the War Refugee Board to try to save Jews. "Since my first telegram, 18 months had passed during which time the inexorable massacre continued and millions of Jews were sacrificed," Mr. Riegner wrote in his memoirs. In his autobiography, Riegner said the State Department’s action threw him into despair. "Never did I feel so strongly the sense of abandonment, powerlessness and loneliness as when I sent messages of disaster and horror to the free world and no-one believed me," he said. But the British Foreign office, which was as sceptical as the State Department, did pass on his telegram to a Jewish MP, Sidney Silverman, who was head of the British chapter of WJC. Riegner headed the WJC’s Geneva office. Silverman phoned Wise, who got in touch with the State Department. It urged him to keep silent while it checked with the Vatican and the Red Cross. Wise sought help from US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, asking him him to get in touch with "the chief" - Roosevelt - and in September 1942 Wise convened a meeting of Jewish leaders. Soon other accounts began to confirm what Riegner had learned. And on 17 December, 1942, more than four months after Riegner had raised the alarm, the governments of Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union issued a warning to Germany to stop the Holocaust or face retribution. "From all the occupied countries, Jews are being transported in conditions of appalling horror and brutality to Eastern Europe ... None of these taken away are ever heard of again. The able bodied are slowly worked to death in labour camps. The infirm are left to die of exposure and starvation or are deliberately massacred in mass executions," the warning said. Writing years later in The Holocaust Encyclopedia, Riegner said that by the time the warning was issued, "about two million people had already been put to death". After the war, he became a top official of the World Jewish Congress and worked closely in fostering a dialogue with Christian groups.
BBC 11 Dec 2001 Race 'segregation' caused riots The riots were some of the worst in Britain Reports into the summer riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley have urged government action to bring together Britain's "shockingly" divided communities. The main Cantle report, commissioned by the Home Office, said people in Britain were leading "parallel" and "polarised" lives where people from different backgrounds did not mix. Segregation, albeit self-segregation... will lead to more serious problems if it is not tackled Oldham review It called for a meaningful concept of citizenship which could include an oath of allegiance setting out "a clear primary loyalty to this nation". Home Office minister John Denham, who chaired a cross-departmental group that examined the impact of the riots, said: "We have not made a commitment to a formal oath of allegiance, but we do want the debate to take place." The report also urged an "open, honest" debate about multi-culturalism in Britain. A review of the Oldham riots blamed deep-rooted segregation which authorities had failed to address for generations. It warned: "Segregation, albeit self-segregation, is an unacceptable basis for a harmonious community and it will lead to more serious problems if it is not tackled." No quick fix A third report, on the Burnley riots, called for local and government action to tackle the deprivation and "disillusionment" of young people which has led to "violence and prejudice". A previous report into Bradford's troubles by Lord Ouseley had also painted a picture of a fractured city with mistrust between different communities. Mr Blunkett gave a speech on race relations in Birmingham The Cantle report, which warned there would be no quick fixes, made 67 recommendations covering areas such as housing, political leadership, education, youth and leisure facilities and regeneration. It specifically called for a change in the way regeneration schemes are managed, as they force groups to "compete against each other" and lead to resentment. It warned of the dangers of the government's policy of encouraging single-faith schools, which might deepen the divisions. 'Diverse community' Home Secretary David Blunkett, who was speaking about race relations in Birmingham on Tuesday, welcomed the reports and called for a debate on citizenship. All schools, whether faith or non-faith based, should seek to limit their intake from one culture or ethnicity Cantle report "Today's reports show that too many of our towns and cities lack any sense of civic identity or shared values. "Young people, in particular, are alienated and disengaged from much of the society around them, including the leadership of their communities." But Mr Blunkett defended the government's policy of encouraging more faith schools. He said if some religions could have faith schools, it was unfair not to allow other communities their desire to follow suit. Prime Minister Tony Blair's spokesman also welcomed the reports, saying they had "started a debate which we as a country need to have". More research He said it was important to "recognise and celebrate diversity at the same time as developing the bonds that any community needs." A previous report found Bradford "in the grip of fear" In response to the Cantle Report, a separate study by Home Office minister John Denham set out steps taken, and ideas for steps to be taken, by the government to tackle the problems. It said cross-governmental work on the myriad aspects of community cohesion, which had been established in the last few months, should continue. It said it would press the local authorities concerned to publish their own plans for cohesion by April 2002. And it suggested establishing a research programme to give a fuller understanding of segregation in the UK. 'Controversial debate' Mr Denham said it was crucial to identify "shared values and common citizenship" to help bind Britain's diverse ethnic communities. "These issues are intrinsically difficult and controversial but we must grapple with and debate them if we are to make progress," he said. He added: "We have not made a commitment to a formal oath of allegiance, but we do want the debate to take place." The summer's disturbances were some of the worst seen in the UK, with the Bradford violence alone causing damage estimated at £10m, and injuring 300 police officers.
Daily Telegraph 6 Dec 2001 Divided We Fall Film Review by VICKY ROACH, Daily Telegraph SET in a small, occupied Czech town during the last years of World War II, Divided We Fall is a second-generation Holocaust film. Like the Oscar-winning Italian film Life Is Beautiful, it's informed by acceptance rather than shock or anger and, as such, is working towards the final stages of grief. Directed by Jan Hrebejk (Cosy Dens), it is a story of everyday heroism in the face of impossible circumstances. Josef (Boleslav Polivka) and his wife Marie (Anna Siskova) are a childless couple trying to maintain some semblance of normality in the face of his sterility and the war on their doorstep. When Josef, a good but passive man who has thus far observed events from the relative safety of his couch, bumps into his Jewish ex-neighbour one night after curfew, he is forced to take a stand. Unable to turn his back on the son of his former employer (Csonger Kassai), who has recently escaped from a concentration camp, Josef hides him in their pantry. One act leads to another and before he is fully aware of the consequences of his actions, Josef has become a reluctant, at times ungracious, and sometimes even downright cantankerous hero, masquerading as a Nazi collaborator. Based on a true story, Divided We Fall conjures up a strange and morally complex world in which traitors can turn out to be fundamentally decent human beings and their self-righteous anti-Nazi neighbours aren't as blameless as they might first appear to be. Divided We Fall, voted most popular film at this year's Sydney Film Festival, tackles a dark subject with a light touch. A surprising story of hope and forgiveness set against a backdrop of genocide and despair. Divided We Fall (M) Director: Jan Hrebejk Starring: Boleslav Polivka, Anna Siskova and Csonger Kassai
BBC 6 Dec 2001 RUC 'knew about' Omagh attack plan Omagh devastation followed misleading bomb warnings A major investigation has revealed that the RUC had information about a planned attack in Omagh 11 days before the 1998 bombing which left 29 dead. The findings are contained in a draft report by the Police Ombudsman in Northern Ireland. It found that RUC Special Branch had been warned about a planned attack on 15 August - the day of the atrocity - but that information was not passed to police officers on the ground. The damaging report says that had the information been passed on and security checkpoints been put in place, the bombers may have been deterred. The Police Service of Northern Ireland has criticised the draft report as containing "factual errors" and rejected the claims of the informant quoted. Nuala O'Loan: Police Ombudsman The Omagh bombing - later admitted by the dissident republican Real IRA - was the worst single incident in the 30 years of the Troubles. The ombudsman's report is now with the chief constable and Northern Ireland Secretary. The Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, began to examine police intelligence on the Omagh attack after an informant claimed in two newspapers that he had passed on information about a bomb being made by republican dissidents. But he did not mention Omagh. One of those papers - the Sunday People - claimed that no action had been taken because the bomb maker, named as Kevin Fulton, was also a police agent. The ombudsman's investigators discovered there had been another warning to the police. The devastation in Omagh town centre On 4 August, a detective constable in Omagh had spoken to an anonymous caller for over 10 minutes and had been told of a planned attack in the town on 15 August. He passed that information to special branch, but they did not alert officers on the ground. The ombudsman's draft report is understood to be scathing in its criticism of how this information was handled, both before and after the bombing. The report, however, does not go as far as saying the bombing could have been prevented. It is understood to make serious criticisms of how intelligence information was handled by the police. It says: The system failed when it came to the handling of intelligence. This had deprived the murder investigation team of "important investigative and evidential opportunities" The arrangements for the interchange of information between officers were "totally unsatisfactory" The detective constable who took the call in Omagh on 4 August was blameless 'Significant' The report says information about the 4 August warning was found in a special branch file marked: "Intelligence does not refer to Omagh". The ombudsman describes this as a "significant error" and as "inexplicable and inexcusable". It should have formed "significant lines of enquiry" for the murder investigation team. The 4 August warning received in Omagh came at a time of growing dissident IRA activity. Security assessments had pointed to co-operation between the various dissident groups. 'Obstructive' Just three days before that warning, 35 people had been injured in a car bombing in Banbridge, County Down, again on a Saturday. The ombudsman's investigators are aware that the anonymous warning received on 4 August referred to the Continuity IRA and not the Real IRA which left the Omagh bomb. It has also emerged that within two months of the Omagh attack, the size of the murder investigation team had been reduced by 40%, and that the most senior officer working full-time on the inquiry was at the rank of sergeant. John Reid said he would not comment until final report published But the main criticisms are about the practices of RUC Special Branch, both in how it treated colleagues and its response to the ombudsman's investigation - described as being "close to obstructive". In response to the allegations, the police said the report "contains so many significant factual inaccuracies, unwarranted assumptions, misunderstandings and material omissions that a request has been made to the ombudsman's office for a reasonable period of time to respond in detail with what we see as the serious deficiencies in this report." A statement added the service "absolutely rejects that either information provided by an agent code named Fulton or an anonymous call on 4 August 1998 could have led to the prevention of the atrocity". It said its "primary consideration was the feelings of the bereaved families and victims of the Omagh atrocity". Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid said: "Whether or not there are lessons to be learnt in this case, nothing should ever distract our attention from the suffering caused to the victims and their families by the evil people who planted the bomb in Omagh."
5 December, 2001, 10:30 GMT Government 'selective on terrorism' Twenty-nine people were killed at Omagh Relatives of the Omagh bomb victims have criticised the government for failing to listen to their concerns over the funding of terrorist groups. The families are calling for the extension of anti-terrorism legislation to cover those funding the Real IRA. The legislation is currently going through Parliament. Twenty-nine people died and more than 200 were injured on 15 August 1998 when the Real IRA bombers left a massive car bomb in Omagh town centre. The emergency Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Bill is aimed at international groups and was produced in response to the attacks on the United States on 11 September. The Omagh families have said the legislation should ban the 32-County Sovereignty Committee and the Irish Prisoners' Welfare Association, both of which have, in the past, been linked to dissident republican elements. 'Universal law' Michael Gallagher, whose 21-year-old son Adrian died in the Omagh bomb, said: "These people are continuing to organise and fund-raise both in Ireland and Britain. "The government has the opportunity to do something about it and yet they are being selective on how they are dealing with terrorism. Michael Gallagher: "Legislation could cover all organisations" "The government should have made the law universal - it could cover all organisations, because a terrorist is a terrorist at the end of the day." He said the laws should apply to those people bombing Britain and Ireland and urged the law to be changed to close loopholes permitting "front organisations" for terrorists. "I think people have to realise that these people use the democratic system and eat it from within, and the government seems powerless to do anything about that," he said. The Omagh relatives have asked for a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary David Blunkett in an effort to have the legislation extended. On the third anniversary of the atrocity in August, senior policemen from both sides of the Irish border said they would not rest until they brought the Real IRA bombers to justice.