News Monitor for February 2001
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Tracking current news on genocide
and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious
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Republic of the Congo (DRC)
IRIN (22 Feb 2001) The rival Hema and Lendu ethnic communities in northeastern DRC have announced a reconciliation ceremony, due to be held on Thursday in the Lendu-dominated Djugu district, where violent clashes - mainly over land - have left many people dead and wounded. [Massacres killed thousands in January 2000]
Al-Ahram Weekly On-line 15 - 21 February 2001 Crime without culprits? By Khaled Dawoud and Jailan Halawi The general-prosecutor's office announced on Sunday that it was "studying the court's report explaining the reasons for the sentences it handed down [on 5 February] in Al-Kosheh case, in preparation for contesting these with the Court of Cassation, [the highest court of appeal in the land]." The criminal court in Sohag had acquitted nearly all 96 defendants who were blamed for some of the country's worst sectarian riots in decades which occurred in the village of Al-Kosheh in southern Egypt a year ago. Only four defendants received jail terms ranging between one and 10 years, and none was convicted of premeditated murder. Following a spate of false rumours circulating in the village amidst already tense relations between the two confessional groups, clashes erupted on 2 January 2000 resulting in the deaths of 20 Coptic Christians and one Muslim. The sentences stunned most observers in view of the gravity of the crimes and the large number of those killed. The Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, expressed displeasure with the ruling at a public seminar held at the Cairo Book Fair last week, saying that the Church was considering filing an appeal. Expatriate Coptic groups in the United States and Canada, known for their strong objections to the government's handling of relations with Christians, also unleashed a fresh campaign in the international press, claiming that Egyptian courts gave Muslims licence to kill Christians and escape unpunished. However, spokesmen for local human rights groups were the first to rush to defend the court's ruling, and affirm that it had no political or sectarian implications. "On the contrary," said secretary-general of the Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights, Hafez Abu-Se'eda, "the sentences prove the independence of the Egyptian judiciary and its long-enshrined tradition of protecting the rights of defendants." Citing the court's report explaining the reasons for the sentences, Abu-Se'eda said that lack of evidence and the arbitrary arrests which took place following the clashes made it impossible for judges to hand down harsh sentences. In its report, the court, headed by Judge Mohamed Afifi, said that "it had doubts concerning the accusations made against the defendants, and whether they were the actual perpetrators." It added that the papers submitted to it "lacked conclusive material evidence that would satisfy the court that any of the defendants committed the crimes of which he is accused." The prosecutors, said the court, also excluded the names of certain suspects accused by eyewitnesses of taking part in the riots "without any justification and contrary to existing laws." None of the defendants was caught red-handed, and most arrests were made days after the actual incidents took place "despite the heavy local police presence at the time of the events. No weapons or other tools used in the crimes were seized, and neither were the goods which the defendants were accused of stealing," said the court's report. It added that most of the accusations were based on circumstantial evidence, and noted that investigators even ignored the fact that some witnesses made accusations against people who were said to have been at more than one place at the same time. During a visit by Al-Ahram Weekly to Al-Kosheh shortly after the clashes, Muslims and Christians recounted different versions of how the clashes started and who took part in them. Villagers would repeat a certain story and insist that they were sure of what they were saying, despite admitting later that some of them were not even in Al-Kosheh at the time of the clashes. Taking the stories of their families or friends for granted, they would accuse certain persons of carrying out the killings. The atmosphere was chaotic indeed, and this did not escape the court's attention. Muslim families advanced an even more incredible version, insisting that all the killed Christians were gunned down by their own fire while shooting at Muslims. Prosecutors did not swallow this, and all 38 defendants accused, and cleared, of murder were Muslims. Diaa Rashwan, the managing editor of the annual State of Religion Report issued by Al-Ahram's Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, pointed out that Al-Kosheh's sentences were not unprecedented. He said that there were several cases in the past in which militants were accused of assassinating top officials, but were acquitted due to insufficient evidence. The best known case of this type is that of the late Parliament Speaker Rifaat Al-Mahgoub who was gunned down by suspected Gama'a Islamiya militants in 1990. After facing a trial that lasted for years, a group of leading Gama'a militants were found innocent due to insufficient evidence. Another reason for their acquittal was that the court suspected that the "confessions" they made had been extracted from them by torture. Such sentences, said Rashwan, "confirm the independence of the judiciary, and that it does not take political considerations into account before handing down rulings." In cases like Al-Kosheh, convicted defendants and the general-prosecutor's office are the two parties entitled to appeal the sentences. The convicted defendants exercise the right of appeal if they believe the sentences are too harsh, while the general-prosecutor's office may seek a retrial if it believes the sentences are too lenient and that the court did not take into consideration certain evidence that might have resulted in harsher sentences. Yet, for someone like Bishop Wissa of the Al-Kosheh church, who was blamed by the court for inciting Christians, justice means that the actual killers should be found, put on trial and given appropriate punishment.
Vanguard Daily (Lagos) OPINION (18 Feb 2001) The Okigwe Massacre: Obi Nwakanma Lagos Haz Iwendi, Assistant Commissioner of Police and Force Public Relations Officer, must have a difficult task explaining the brutal massacre of some Nigerians last week in Okigwe. Their mission, clear from the onset, had a specific objective to root out Ralph Uwazurike, that growing canker, threat to Nigerian unity. Uwazurike's avowed mission in public: he is working diligently to resurrect the Biafran struggle - another way of saying 'Igbo emancipation' from the claws of the Nigerian federation. A follower of the immortal Mahatma Ghandi, Uwazurike had declared his avowed method to be peaceful and non-violent. T He had to be stopped. That was the reason for the police attack of the MASSOB headquarter in Okigwe last week and its killing of at least ten people as the newspapers reported. There were fears last week that the real target, Uwazurike, might have been among the dead. The Federal Government in dread of a possible armed rising in the East is beating back at the grass under which treason hides. But treason hides in no place else other than in the secret thoughts of men. As the new official terror is released, starting with Imo State, a few important observations must be made. The Federal Government of Nigeria under General Olusegun Obasanjo does have a real problem to contend with in Igboland: neglected and kept in the margins all through the last thirty-one years since the war ended, a new generation has arisen and has begun to ask questions. Igbos Set for Retaliatory Attacks: The Eastern Unity Forum (EUF) at the weekend warned that the Igbos would retaliate any further attack on members of the movement for the actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) by the Nigeria Police. The EUF president who said that Igbos would never tolerate any other attempts to massacre her people as the Federal Government did to Odi hinted that Governor Oji Uzo Kalu had expressed fears that the alleged killing of Igbo sons in Okigwe by the police might repeat itself if President Obasanjo did not reprimand those responsible for the alleged act.
This Day (Lagos) (16 Feb 2001) At least 31 Nigerians, seven Nigeriens, three Camerounians and two Malians have been killed at the border between Algeria and Mali in a clamp down on black Africans by militant Algerian youths. A BBC report monitored in Lagos said the Nigerians and other black Africans were attacked on their way back to their respective countries after deportation from Algeria on the grounds of being illegal immigrants. Recently, Nigerians were also brutally deported from Libya. No fewer than 800 of them were involved in the deportation which was carried out between Libyan and Nigerian governments. The brutality of the Libyan deportation caused the African Trade Unions to condemn in strong terms the way and manner fellow Africans were deported from Libya.
Tempo (Lagos) OPINION (15 Feb 2001) Our National Assembly .. would do some service to restoring our sense of outrage if they tried to discover how many Nigerians lives were lost in the Babangida/Abacha wars in Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Bakassi Peninsula and the circumstances of those deaths, if they demanded from the Army a full accounting of those wars ... It would also be worthwhile to inquire into how the army treats the families of soldiers who die fighting for their country.
PANA (6 Feb 2001) Former Mayor Paul Kadogi of Nshili municipality in Rwanda's Gikongoro province, and three others have been condemned to death by a court for their involvement in the country's April-July 1994 ethnic genocide.
HRW: Senegal's highest court is to rule March 6 on whether Chad's exiled former president, Hissène Habré, should stand trial in Senegal on torture charges. Habré, 57, took power in Chad in 1982, overthrowing the government of Goukouni Wedeye. Habré was indicted last February, but in July an appeals court dismissed the charges, arguing that Senegal had no jurisdiction over crimes allegedly committed in Chad. In arguments today before the Cour de Cassation, Senegal's highest court, the state prosecutor, Aly Ciré Ba, argued that the charges should be re-instated. The victims' lawyers, Boucounta Diallo and Sidiki Kaba, noted that the "no safe haven" provision of the 1984 United Nations Convention against Torture, which Senegal ratified in 1986, expressly obliges states to either prosecute or extradite alleged torturers who enter its territory. Habré's one-party regime, supported by the United States and France, was marked by widespread abuse and campaigns against the ethnic Hadjerai (1987) and the Zaghawa (1989). Habré was deposed in December 1990 and has lived in Senegal since.
IRIN (22 Feb 2001) Refugees flock to Lungi area - displaced from Kambia District, an area in northwestern Sierra Leone that is controlled by Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels.
UN-OCHA (23 Feb 2001) The United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kenzo Oshima, today expressed deep concern about the very poor response so far of the international donor community to a critical humanitarian situation developing in the Sudan, as a result of continuing conflict and the onset of severe drought.
UNICEF (27 Feb 2001) In the largest effort of its kind ever undertaken in southern Sudan, the United Nations Children's Fund announced today that it had airlifted more than 2,500 child combatants out of conflict zones and into safe areas where a rehabilitation and family tracing process can begin.
Al-Ahram Weekly -Cairo (1 March 2001) The unthinkable has happened. Hassan Al-Turabi, chief Islamist ideologue and former ally of Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, has joined the chorus of dissent against the Sudanese government. Last week in Geneva, Al-Turabi's opposition Popular National Congress Party (PNC) signed a "memorandum of understanding" (MOU) with the most powerful Sudanese armed opposition group, the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The Sudanese authorities promptly branded Al-Turabi a traitor and imprisoned him together with over 100 of his PNC associates.
HRW (3 Mar 2001) (New York, March 3, 2001) -- The factional fighting in southern Sudan could widen into a devastating famine unless the U.S. intervenes diplomatically with rebel forces and others, Human Rights Watch said today. ... The way that inter-Nuer and Nuer-Dinka war have been conducted recently is in violation of both traditional Nuer and Dinka practices of war and international humanitarian law, namely: burning homes, villages, community structures, and grain, and killing women and children. These types of abuses have been the proximate cause of several famines in recent years.
PANA (3 Mar 2001) Uganda Religious leaders in Uganda on Saturday organised peace marches in different parts of the country to dencounce the growing incidences of violence and intimidation ahead of the presidential elections now re-scheduled for 12 March. " At least over 100 cases of violence and 10 deaths have been reported to the police in the last two months of a highly-charged presidential election campaign. Six presidential aspirants are contesting, including the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni and Col. Besigye, who are seen as the front runners.
BBC (21 Feb 2001) Security forces in Sudan have arrested the Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi. Mr Turabi has a large Islamist following. Now, he is being held under arrest in a dramatic climax to a bizarre new twist in Sudan's complex web of political alliances. Mr Turabi had been regarded as a symbol of Sudan's Islamist policies which have been a key factor in the country's long-running civil war. Mr Turabi fell out with President Bashir in 1999 and has since sought to present himself as a democracy activist.
Africa) 20 Feb 2001 Image of 'God's other son' in ruins. By Michael Hartnack
in Harare. THE ruling Zanu(PF) party's kindergarten or "Twenty-First
February Movement" is likely to content itself today with a series of children's
parties around the country in honour of the 77th birthday of President Robert
Mugabe. In past years taxpayers and state employees, headed by the loyal cadres
of the Central Intelligence Organisation, were expected to club in for the cost
of far more lavish celebrations. Parents were exhorted to give their children
presents so the day became associated in young minds with a supplementary --
or alternative -- Christmas. Deputy Minister Tony Gara once reminded Zimbabweans
they were blessed to be under the rule of "God's other son", Robert
Mugabe. The head of state was "the carpenter's son" -- a reference
to his father's employment as a mission artisan. Few men would resist having
their head turned by this kind of adulation. Times were when Mugabe received
it abroad as well as at home. Before the release of Nelson Mandela, he was,
more than anyone else, the living symbol of "progressive" Third World
leadership, triumphant black power. At the time of the 1982-87 Matabeleland
genocide, in which up to 20000 people died according to churchmen and human
rights lawyers, little damage occurred to Mugabe's image despite his blunt assertion:
"The people must be re-oriented. The solution is a military one. Their
grievances are unfounded. The verdict of the voters was given in 1980. They
should have accepted defeat then." What was happening here was overshadowed
by the horror of death squad killings in South Africa and the pressing need
to eradicate apartheid. Unfavourable publicity for Mugabe was thought to aid
PW Botha. The similarity in the finger-wagging truculence of the two men went
unnoticed, as did the resemblance between Mugabe and the even more verkrampte
BJ Vorster who, like Mugabe, was a master of playing "the ethnic card"
when all else failed. Hardly a year after the Matabeleland slaughter ceased,
the Pope paid a state visit. Hangings of convicted murderers, including Matabeleland
dissidents, were kept secret in order not to offend his Holiness' sensibilities,
but Vatican apparatchiks seemed determined to look the other way as 2000 security
force members and ruling party members were granted pardons for mass murder.
The recent gross partiality in the application of justice is no new phenomenon,
although only recently noticed by the world. In 1989 the then British prime
minister, Margaret Thatcher, paid a formal visit, complimenting Mugabe on his
"policy of reconciliation" and displaying solidarity with his fight
against "terrorism" (her word) in the form of the Renamo rebellion
in Mozambique. In 1991 came the entire Commonwealth heads of government and
Britain's Queen Elizabeth. Only the year before, the state of emergency had
finally lapsed. While it was in force, the authorities had enjoyed virtually
unlimited powers of detention, search and seizure. Not only critics but victims
of private vendettas by ministers were held without charge for years. My colleague
Jan Raath was detained because The Times of London used same-size photographs
of Ian Smith and Mugabe with an article listing recent instances of the use
of torture, proven in open court. But that made only a brief stir among Mugabe
fans. When Mugabe's long-rumoured secret polygamous marriage was confirmed in
1995, it did little damage to his standing either at home or abroad, although
the Zimbabwean Financial Gazette said it suggested "serious character flaws"
for a man who vaunted himself as a practising Catholic to take the wife of a
young security force member as his concubine during the lifetime of Sally Mugabe.
Roman Catholic Archbishop Patrick Chakaipa was only too happy to marry the couple
after Sally died and Grace got a divorce. Mugabe's friend Chakaipa also strove
to suppress a church report on the Matabeleland victims. Mugabe's first
really ruinous public relations blunder was to embroil himself in needless controversy
with the minuscule group, Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, over their inconspicuous
display at a book fair later that year. The display was totally inoffensive,
merely offering a few pamphlets on counselling. But in what appeared to be an
attempt to posture on the moral high ground, he launched into the first of an
interminable series of extravagant attacks. Gays and lesbians were "lower
than pigs or dogs", "deserved no rights at all", he said. This
did nothing to draw attention away from Grace Guriraza née Marufu, 40
years his junior, and raised questions why Mugabe had this obsession. Yet, initially,
the forces of world "pink power" were reluctant to deploy against
Mugabe. Peter Tatchell, leader of Outrage!, sent Mugabe a plaintive letter recalling
how he had been "a long-time supporter of Zanu and the Zimbabwe struggle
for independence, majority rule and social justice", helping raise funds
in the 1970s. Tatchell expressed his "sadness" and blamed the evils
of colonialism for homophobia in Zimbabwe. Only as rhetoric persisted did Mugabe
mobilise against himself the vocal and well-organised international gay lobby.
Still, Mugabe might have passed as an international elder statesman with an
odd quirk -- rather like Britain's prime minister Gladstone with his noted passion
for befriending young prostitutes, which so shocked Queen Victoria. Yet worse
was to come. The abduction and torture of two independent journalists, Ray Choto
and Mark Chavunduka, in January-February 1999 set the entire media fraternity
against Mugabe and his government. Instead of pleading ignorance under the Machiavellian
rule that "the prince must never admit to knowing", Mugabe vastly
compounded the blunder by a nationwide broadcast in which he justified the use
of torture. He told judges who had voiced concern that if they were unhappy
with his human rights record they and all the 70000 remaining whites should
"pack and go". Threats he had made for years about seizing white-owned
farms -- previously ignored as mere rhetoric -- began to be noticed and taken
seriously by the international community, contributing to relentless downward
pressure on the Zimbabwean dollar and spontaneous riots over the cost of living.
The core of foreign sympathisers who might have been relied upon to put a favourable
construction on the dispatch of Zimbabwean troops to the Congo saw it as a mere
grandiose adventure. The African-American caucus in the United States, which
had for 25 years regarded Mugabe as a hero, wanted to hold him at arm's length.
Now Mugabe's government is seeking belatedly to repair its image by ridding
the country of foreign correspondents, stipulating that overseas media organisations
will be required to employ Zimbabweans. This, they believe, will end "negative
publicity", revive investment and tourism. The BBC's Joseph Winter is being
expelled along with Mercedes Sayagues, correspondent for the Mail and Guardian.
More will follow, we are told. Sayagues, here since 1992, has given eye witness
accounts of Zanu(PF) use of terror in elections but Winter, here since 1997,
has been criticised for his assumption that farm invasions constitute a genuine
attempt at land reform favouring the rural poor, not a mere pretext for victimising
opposition. A stringent new system of "accreditation" is to be imposed
on all journalists. Far from Mugabe being the victim of a western conspiracy,
as he claims, he for years led a charmed existence. His international image
was destroyed by his talking his way into trouble, and by persistent, reckless
breaches of international norms of statesmanship.
BBC (24 Feb 2001) Another move in the Caravan of Death probe Judge Juan Guzman will investigate General Hernan Gabrielli, chief of staff of the Chilean air force, who is accused of torturing left-wing prisoners back in 1973. This is the first time an acting serving officer has been officially investigated.
AFP (14 Feb 2001) Colombia's largest rebel group (FARC) turned over 62 child guerrillas ranging in age from 12 to 16 to authorities Wednesday as peace talks b resumed following a three-month stalemate. On Monday Colombia for the first time sent an army general to jail for failing to prevent a paramilitary massacre, and the attorney general filed kidnapping and murder charges against paramilitary leader Carlos Castano for an incident in 1997.
United States - WP (26 Feb 2001) The US State Department faulted both Israel and the Palestinians for Middle East bloodshed on Monday – accusing the Israelis of "excessive force," the Palestinians of violent attacks. The department's annual report on human rights conditions worldwide also said China's record deteriorated last year, with intensified crackdowns on religion, political dissent and "any person or group perceived to threaten the government." There were harsh words, too, for the civil war in Colombia, a nation whose President, Andres Pastrana, will meet with President Bush on Tuesday. The report ranked Iraq and North Korea among the world's worst human rights violators. On the plus side, the study found a number of advances in human rights, democracy, and fundamental freedoms last year, citing the examples of Yugoslavia, Mexico, Nigeria and Ghana. Another bright spot was the peace agreement that ended a 2-year war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Newsday (28 Feb 2001) U.S. May Not Be A Participant - UN Forming Criminal Court By Roy Gutman. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) dismisses the ICC as a "kangaroo court" and has demanded that the Bush administration "unsign" the treaty. He says he fears that the court would subject U.S. soldiers to prosecution and that ensuring a reversal will be a high priority this year. He wants the United States to cut all military aid to countries-other than NATO allies-who ratify the treaty. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Helms not to "be standing on your tippy toes waiting" for the new administration to send the treaty to the Senate, for it had no such plans.
ABCnews (23 Feb 2001) Investigators found neo-Nazi literature in the room of one of the two teenage suspects in the brutal killing of two Dartmouth College professors, sources say. The professors were both outspoken in their belief that Germany should take more responsibility for the Holocaust.
HRW (19 Feb 2001) Human Rights Watch today released fresh eyewitness accounts of a massacre of hundreds of civilians by Taliban forces in Afghanistan last month. The victims were primarily Hazaras, a Shia Muslim ethnic group that has been the target of previous abuses by Taliban forces. The report quotes eyewitness accounts of the January 8-12, 2001 killings. According to those sources, Taliban forces retook the town of Yakaolang, in Bamiyan province, nine days after they had been driven out by two Shia-based parties in the United Front. After conducting search operations throughout the city and nearby villages, the Taliban detained about 300 civilian adult males, including staff members of humanitarian organizations. The men were herded to assembly points in the center of the district and several outlying areas, and then shot by firing squad in public view. Taliban forces were driven out of Yakaolang by the United Front on January 23, 2001.
BBC (12 Feb 2001) Reports in Kabul say senior Taleban have destroyed more than a dozen ancient statues in the National Museum of Afghanistan. Reports started to circulate last week that the Taleban were destroyed non-Islamic artefacts in the museum, including statues of the Buddha dating back nearly 2,000 years. BBC (17 Feb 2001), The Taleban authorities in Afghanistan say that, after three hours of heavy fighting, they have recaptured the key central town of Bamiyan. Reuter 28 Feb 2001) Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement vowed on Tuesday to destroy all statues from the country's rich cultural past, declaring that the world-famous sculptures were un-Islamic. An early target, already rumoured to have been attacked, would be Afghanistan's best-known archaeological site, the two towering Buddhas carved into a cliff face at Bamiyan. The head of one of the two Bamiyan Buddhas was blown off during the Taleban's capture of the city in 1998. The other statue, at 53 metres high, is the world's tallest standing Buddha. The [statutes] were largely untouched for more than a millennium after the arrival of Islam, surviving even the onslaughts of Genghis Khan in the 13th century and Tamerlane in the 14th century. "It is not a valid precedent that we should follow just because they were not destroyed in the past," said Zaeef. "Maybe in the past they tolerated it...now there is a government established by religious scholars." A broadcast by Taliban's Voice of Shariat on Tuesday night gave up to 60 hours for the destruction of any statues and human pictures that may have been imported into the country and threatened punishment for violators. The radio, monitored in Islamabad, quoted the order from the Ministry for the Promotion of Virture and Prevention of Vice as telling all local and foreign traders not to import "lifeless statues and pictures". "All those traders who have already imported such photos and lifeless statues must demolish all these items within 60 hours," the broadcast said. The Taliban, which has vowed to create what it sees as the world's purest Islamic state, has closed down television and banned photography of people in the more than 90 percent of Afghanistan it rules. "As Islamic sharia (law) orders the destruction of statues and considers the drawing of portraits a mockery to the servants of Allah, the destruction of any site decorated with pictures is necessary," the statement said.
Bhutan HRW (27 Feb 2001) A recent breakthrough in talks between the governments of Nepal and Bhutan promises new hope for tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal, but significant questions remain about how Nepal and Bhutan will carry out the proposed verification and repatriation of the refugees. Nepal is the site of one of the world's most overlooked refugee dilemmas. Forced to flee Bhutan for Nepal and India in the early 90s, more than 90,000 people are now entering their tenth year of life in the refugee camps in Nepal. A whole generation of children has been born there. Many of the refugees, mostly ethnic Nepali Hindus who farmed the southern hills and plains of Bhutan, were arbitrarily stripped of their nationality prior to their expulsion from Bhutan in the early 1990s after changes to Bhutan's nationality laws that deliberately discriminated against the southern Bhutanese.
East Timor AFP (23 Feb 2001) East Timorese leaders told Indonesian parliamentary heads Friday that unless Jakarta moves soon to try those accused of committing crimes in East Timor, an international war crimes tribunal will be unavoidable. "If Indonesia delivers justice it will be good for everyone," East Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta told journalists after meeting upper house speaker Amien Rais. "However, if it fails there is no way the (UN) Security Council itself can escape its responsibility to hold an international war crimes tribunal." Chief UN administrator Sergio Viera de Mello said Thursday that the process to try 22 people accused by Indonesian prosecutors of involvement in the violence surrounding the 1999 ballot violence was "in legal limbo." UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson has warned that if Jakarta does not try the suspects, and justice is not seen to be done, an international tribunal could be convened.
WP (21 Feb 2001) Nearly three-quarters of a million displaced Afghans are struggling to survive freezing temperatures and scarce supplies in refugee camps in various parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan ... The refugees' plight has been partly caused by a severe drought ... At the same time, a protracted civil war between Afghanistan's ruling Islamic militia, the Taliban, and armed opposition forces based in northwestern and central Afghanistan has driven hundreds of thousands of people from the north, where fighting and bombing have destroyed hundreds of villages.
BBC (21 Feb 2001) Taleban makes counter accusation, charging rebel Hezb-e-Whadat troops of massacre of 120 in Bamiyan last week ... Troops of the Hezb-e-Whadat faction captured the strategically key city of Bamiyan last Wednesday, but were driven out three days later by the Taleban. ... Wahdat spokesman Reza Alizadah told the AFP news agency. "The Taleban spread these fabrications to conceal their crimes in Yakawlang," he said. Human Rights Watch said the Taleban massacred as many as 300 Shi'a Muslim civilians over four days in January.
Daily Star News - Dhaka (21 Feb 2001) The nation pays homage to the martyrs of the historic Language Movement ... On this day 49 years back, [5 youths] were killed when police had opened on unarmed students, demonstrating under the banner of All-Party Students Action Committee against the conspiracies of Pakistani rulers to declare Urdu as the only state language. The day is also being observed as the International Mother Language Day in 188 countries across the globe. On November 17, 1999 UNESCO declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day.
BBC (24 Feb 2001) The UN has expressed disappointment at a Cambodian decision to reconsider a law which would establish a tribunal to prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders. The UN spokesman, Fred Eckhard, said the move was a setback. He said it seemed as though the process was now starting at the bottom of the ladder again. Earlier, the Cambodian Prime Minister, Hun Sen, said the draft legislation needed changes and would have to be approved for a second time. The law had been passed by both houses of parliament, and Cambodia's Constitutional Council.
WP (22 Feb 2001) Beijing promised Olympic inspectors that it would spend $20 billion if the city is awarded the 2008 Games . . . Despite Beijing's efforts to focus attention on its enthusiasm and preparations, human rights issues have dogged its bid, as in 1993 when Beijing lost the 2000 Summer Games to Sydney by two votes. ... Students for a Free Tibet, a New York-based group, announced plans to mail 50,000 postcards to the International Olympic Committee marked: "China: committing genocide in Tibet. Say no to Beijing 2008."
Indonesia - Kompas Newspaper (Jakarta) (27 Feb 2001 After three days of relative calm in Sampit, Central Kalimantan, the chase after Madurese and killings in he East Kotawaringin Regency changed scenes for the surrounding areas. Sunday evening, about 118 people were killed in a gruesome way near the District Office of Parenggean, 110 kilometers from Sampit in the direction of Palangkaraya. Before the killing, these people were singled out from a group of refugees about to be evacuated to a site in Sampit and then on to Java. With the last 118 victims, the number of casualties in the sectarian clashes of East Kotawaringin, rose to 315 people. Meanwhile, data at the Kotawaringin Regency Office manifolded to 388 victims. How many victims exactly fell in the Sampit unrest, which is taking on the likes of genocide, is not known yet.
Jakarta Post (27 Feb 2001) Cairo - President Abdurrahman Wahid said here on Monday that he would continue his two-week overseas trip despite the bloody ethnic pogrom raging in Central Kalimantan. Abdurrahman said that the situation in Sampit, where a week of murderous attacks, mostly perpetrated by ethnic Dayaks on Madurese settlers, have left at least 300 dead, was now "fully under control". He admitted, however, that he had been "a bit concerned" with the violence. "I would, therefore, like to convey my condolences to the families of the victims and my deepest sympathy to those who have had to flee the violence," . The President then accused the media of "exaggerating" and said that media reports of decapitated corpses lying on the streets of Sampit were untrue. "There is an attempt to blow the violence out of all proportion ... in Sampit the death toll is 191 and it is not true that bodies were found lying in the streets," Commenting on his talks with Egyptian President Husni Mubarak earlier in the day, Abdurrahman said the two had discussed the stalled Middle East peace talks and how to further expand cooperation between Jakarta and Cairo. Abdurrahman is scheduled to leave for Nigeria on Tuesday morning .... [F]rom there he will fly to Sudan for the next leg of his foreign tour which will include a Haj pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. He is not expected to return to Jakarta until March 7.
Kompas Newspaper (Jakarta) (27 Feb 2001" With the last 118 victims, the number of casualties in the sectarian clashes of East Kotawaringin, rose to 315 people. Meanwhile, data at the Kotawaringin Regency Office manifolded to 388 victims. How many victims exactly fell in the Sampit unrest, which is taking on the likes of genocide, is not known yet.
Kompas Online - Jakarta (24 Feb 2001) At least 20,000 people who were originally from Madura and who have sought refuge at the District Government Office and East Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, are now isolated in Sampit.
BBC (21 Feb 2001) Bloody clashes in recent days between migrants and indigenous people in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province on Borneo island, have left at least 30 people dead.
BBC (20 Feb 2001) East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres, linked to two 1999 massacres and on trial in Jakarta on weapons charges has been released from his prison cell and placed under house arrest, officials said. He will remain inside the [house] until the end of his trial Guterres' lawyer Lawyers for - who has been
ICG (21 Feb 2001) Abdurrahman Wahid’s presidency has been dealt a devastating blow by the parliament’s overwhelming vote February 1 to begin proceedings that could end with impeachment.
AI (7 Feb 2001) Amnesty International today condemned the decision by the Indonesian authorities to proceed with the trials of political activists in Papua and Aceh.
Al-Ahram Weekly Cairo (22 Feb 2001) Iraq is expected to be the most difficult item on US Secretary of State Colin Powell's agenda during his upcoming talks in the region. The strikes carried out Friday [Feb 16] by the US and UK against Iraqi targets in the southern suburbs of Baghdad are bound to cloud discussions between Powell and Arab officials on the Iraqi issue. "We cannot condone the strikes against Iraq," Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said on Saturday. "This is a very negative move that harms the safety and territorial integrity of Iraq," he added. Similar statements were made by other Arab officials condemning the attack. Some were more harshly worded. "The strikes against Iraq are an act of brutal aggression," Damascus said. Others were milder in tone. "The strikes are a terribly saddening development," according to Doha. Only Riyadh and Kuwait -- the two capitals that were reported to have offered facilities for US and British warplanes that carried out the raid -- kept their silence. It is not yet clear what message Washington intended to send to the Middle East by launching airstrikes only a week before the US Secretary of State arrives in the region. Diplomatic sources who know both Powell and US Vice-President Dick Cheney suggest that there may be an internal division in US policy-making on Iraq. "It may well be that Cheney was making sure that Powell would not arrive in the Middle East and start talking with Arab leaders about any potential lifting of anti-Iraq sanctions since this is not something that Cheney would accept," commented one diplomat. Arab League sources speaking to Al-Ahram Weekly on condition of anonymity say that most Arab governments are faced with the problem of explaining to their populations why the Iraqi people need to put up with "more of this horrible humanitarian suffering." One source said, "There is growing pressure on Arab governments from the street, even in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, to move towards alleviating the misery of the Iraqi people." The new US administration will insist on refusing to deal with the current Iraqi regime while many countries in the region are learning to tolerate it. According to Arab diplomats, the US will in any case have to take steps towards reducing the magnitude of the human suffering in Iraq.
AP (28 Feb 2001)An Iraqi newspaper owned by President Saddam Hussein's son, Babil daily, put the punctuation marks above published excerpts from a U.S. State Department human rights report that called Saddam's government ``one of the world's most repressive.'' Babil is owned by the Iraqi leader's eldest son Odai. A day earlier, Iraq's ambassador to the Arab League, Mohsen Khalil, told reporters in Cairo that his country had no respect for ``anything issued by them (Americans) about human rights, because they did not respect the rights of even one human being. They have to respect the right of the Palestinian people first and the right of the Iraqi people first and end the mass genocide against the Iraqi people.'' Iraq accuses the United States of siding with Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians and says U.S.-backed U.N. sanctions against Iraq are keeping medicines and other essentials from ordinary Iraqis. The sanctions cannot be lifted until Iraq proves the United Nations that it has surrendered its weapons of mass destruction.
BBC (20 Feb 2001) The political storm over a Japanese politician's controversial praise for his country's role in World War II continued to rage on Tuesday. Hosei Norota, a senior official in the ruling party, blamed the US for Japan's entry into World War II and credited Japanese militarism with liberating south-east Asia from European colonialism. As angry responses poured in from China and the Korea peninsula, Japan's foreign minister sought to distance the government from the row, saying the comments did not reflect official policy. Last month, a Chinese doctor told a Tokyo court how Japan's military ''bombed'' a Chinese city with fleas carrying bubonic plague, triggering a serious outbreak of the disease. The doctor was giving evidence at a case in which 180 Chinese are demanding compensation and an apology from Japan for the deaths of relatives.
Reuters (27 Feb 2001) A million North Koreans have died of starvation and related diseases since 1995 in a country where individual rights are seen as subversive to the state, the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report said. The report paints a harsh picture of repression, deprivation and efforts to shield Communist North Korea's population of 22 million from any outside influences. Over the past six years, droughts and floods have devastated an already mismanaged agricultural system. "Famine has caused internal dislocation, widespread malnutrition and approximately a million deaths from starvation and related diseases," the report said.
BBC (27 Feb 2001) Under new guidelines, Lebanon may deport "hundreds of refugees and asylum seekers," putting them at risk of arrest and torture, Amnesty International said on Monday. "The Lebanese authorities don't seem to make a distinction between those who are fleeing persecution and those who are merely illegal immigrants", Abdel Salam Sid Ahmed of Amnesty's Middle East section told BBC News Online. They may force people to return to "countries suffering from war or systematic human rights violation such as Iraq, Sudan and Somalia", the Amnesty statement said.
BBC (6 Feb 2001) New President Gloria Arroyo has appointed Teofisto Guingona, the first senator to make public corruption allegations against the ousted President, Joseph Estrada, as her vice president. Mr Guingona was born in the southern province of Mindanao which has been racked by separatist violence.
Taipei Times (1 Mar 2001) An exhibition on the 228 Incident opened yesterday at the National Library on the event's 54th anniversary. It is the first display on the incident held by the government and in it 119 secret files are unveiled for the first time. The 228 Incident was a brutal military crackdown on civilian protests that broke out on Feb. 28, 1947 against the KMT administration on Taiwan. Historians estimate that around 30,000 people were massacred during the crackdown. Thousands of Taiwan's most prominent citizens and leading intellectuals were dragged from their homes to be killed or vanish without explanation as the KMT waged war against Taiwan's Japanese-educated intelligentsia. The incident is regarded as marking the beginning of Taiwan's independence movement and remained a taboo subject for decades.
Interfax (28 Feb 2001) Tajikistan cannot accommodate Afghan refugees located on islands along the frontier river Pyandzh. "Tajikistan has only come out of the state of civil war," Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Saidanvar Zukhurov said in an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta published on Wednesday.
WP (27 Feb 2001) he U.N. war crimes tribunal today sentenced a Bosnian Croat political leader to a 25-year prison term for helping to plan a campaign of ethnically motivated killings in Bosnia eight years ago. The decision to convict Dario Kordic of crimes against humanity effectively pins responsibility for some of the worst abuses at which militia members were ordered "to kill all the military-aged men, expel the civilians and set fire to the houses" in the Bosnian town of Ahmici. [The] attack had "resulted in a massacre in which more than 100 people were murdered, including 32 women and 11 children." [The judge] told Kordic that "you are not to be sentenced as an architect of the persecution or the prime mover in it. Nonetheless, you joined the campaign enthusiastically and played an instrumental part" in crimes marked by "ruthlessness and savagery."
BBC (12 Feb 2001) Troops from the Nato-led stabilisation force in Bosnia, S-For, have carried out a 10-hour search of the headquarters of the Bosnian Croat army in the extreme west of the country. This is the third time in six months that S-For has raided Bosnian Croat premises. For several months the HDZ have been saying that Croats within Bosnia are losing their political rights and are threatened with extermination. Anonymous sources within the HDZ have been speaking to local media about setting up a council of majority Croat areas as a first step towards leaving the Muslim-Croat federation and establishing a third entity.
AP (22 Feb 2001) Maj. Gen. Mirko Norac, who turned himself in to police Wednesday, arrived Thursday afternoon at the district court of Rijeka, which opened a war crimes investigation against him Feb. 7. .... Prosecutors say that as a local commander, he was responsible for the deaths of about 40 Serb civilians ... the new [Croatian] government, which took power in January 2000, maintains that war criminals on both sides should be prosecuted. President Stipe Mesic welcomed Norac's surrender and the tribunal's decision to leave his case in local courts, saying it showed international confidence in Croatia's justice system.
Reuters (12 Feb 2001) Armenia's president Robert Kocharyanwho began an official visit to France on Monday,has called on the international community to assess Armenian charges that Ottoman Turks committed genocide against ethnic Armenians in 1915. . France infuriated Turkey in January by passing a bill that officially recognised that Turks carried out a genocide against Armenians during World War One, prompting Ankara to ban French firms from defence contracts worth billions of francs. Turkey denies Armenia's claim that Turks massacred 1.5 million Armenians as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. Ankara argues that any deaths in 1915 came during partisan fighting in which people of many nationalities, including Turks, suffered. Kocharyan said he saw France's vote as a step towards encouraging similar measures from other countries, notably the United States, which dropped a "genocide resolution" in October after then-President Bill Clinton warned the measure would hurt U.S. security interests. Kocharyan is paying the first official visit to France since his country's 3.7 million people gained independence in 1991.
BBC 8 Feb 2001 German racist attacks soar There has been a rise in attacks and in racist attitudes Germany has reported a 40% increase in racist attacks as a new survey shows that almost every second young East German thinks that the Nazi regime "had its good side". The system in the GDR has left behind a great trail of spiritual and mental destruction German Interior Minister Otto Schilly Overall, racist crime in Germany, which includes displaying Nazi symbols and shouting Nazi slogans, rose by 45% last year. Interior Minister Otto Schilly described it as a "worrying increase". Between January and November last year, 13,753 right-wing, xenophobic and anti-Semitic crimes were carried out compared with 9,456 in the same period the previous year. Eastern emphasis Almost half the crimes took place in the former East Germany, though only 21% of the country's population lives there and far fewer foreigners live there than in the west. "The regional emphasis of the violence is clearly East Germany, including Berlin," said Mr Schilly in an interview with Die Woche newspaper. He also said that the perpetrators in the east were younger and more militant than those in the west - two thirds of the attackers in the east were under 21. The constitutional court is considering a ban on the NPD "The system in the GDR has left behind a great trail of spiritual and mental destruction," he said. A survey into young people's attitudes by the Forsa Institute also showed a regional divide - 47% of 14 to 25-year-old East Germans think the Nazi ideology had its good sides compared with 35% of young West Germans. Forty-six per cent of East Germans think there are too many foreigners in Germany, compared with 40% of those in the West. Right-wing views seemed stronger among East German high school students - 61% think there are too many foreigners, 62% that Nazism has its good side and 15% think Nazi ideology is "in itself a good idea". Mr Schilly said the government was considering a proposed foreign exchange programme for young East Germans to foster tolerance through contact with other cultures. Last week a formal request to ban the extreme right-wing National Democratic Party was presented to Germany's constitutional court. Far-right crimes became the focus of national debate last summer after a bomb attack on a group of foreigners in Dusseldorf and the murder of a Mozambican man by skinheads.
BBC 21 Feb 2001 Germany sets up neo-Nazi hotline People protest in Hamburg at the rise of the right Germany's Interior Minister Otto Schily has announced plans to help young people quit neo-Nazi and far-right groups. The programme includes a telephone hotline, help finding work and housing and financial support. "The point is to weaken and destabilise the far-right scene," said Mr Schily. The constitutional court is considering a ban on the NPD But critics say the programme is naive and doubt that there will be much take-up. The initiative is two-pronged, targeting leading figures in the far-right scene and young people who get caught up in it against their will. An existing witness protection programme is to be stepped up and, in extreme cases, repentant neo-Nazis would be offered new identities to prevent recriminations. Subsidising the far-right But Mr Schily rejected reports that security officials would be allowed to spend up to 100,000DM ($50,000) per neo-Nazi to encourage them to leave far-right groups. The head of Germany's Jewish community, Paul Spiegel, spoke up in support of the scheme. "If it succeeds in turning young people away from extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic thinking in time, it must be supported," he told the Berliner Morgenpost newspaper. But the opposition spokesman on home affairs, Erwin Marschewski, remained sceptical. "The possibility cannot be dismissed that financial help for leaving the far right scene may also make joining it more attractive," he said. Earlier this month, Mr Schily announced a steep rise in the number of racially-motivated attacks reported as well as an increase in racist attitudes amongst young people. The government is considering a number of measures to stem the rise of the far right including a ban on the extremist NPD party, currently under consideration in the constitutional court.
Ekathimerini - Athens (23 Feb 2001) Asia Minor genocide decree reconsidered - The government yesterday confirmed that it has withdrawn a presidential decree which accuses Turks of genocide against Greeks in the early 1920s. The decree, which is aimed at bringing into effect a law passed over two years ago naming September 14 a day of remembrance, has provoked protests from Ankara.
AP (18 Feb 2001) Pope John Paul II on Sunday reiterated his desire to visit Armenia and paid tribute to Armenian Catholics, who he said had suffered greatly for their faith. The pontiff did not suggest a date ... but he stressed his "great desire to make a pilgrimage of hope and unity to your country." "I eagerly await the day when I can finally kiss...your beloved earth, soaked with the blood of so many martyrs." After the Mass, he spoke of the 1915 killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, calling "martyrdom" a "constant element" of Armenian history.... Last month, when the pope prayed together with an Armenian Orthodox patriarch, the two men issued a statement saying that the "Armenian genocide" was a "prologue to horrors" suffered by Christians in the 20th century.
ERRC Feb 2001 Roma and other minorities in Kosovo “hunted down” On February 20, 2001, the police of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) reported that four masked and armed men entered the home of a Romani man in the village of Djakovë/Djakovica in eastern Kosovo, and demanded money. However, they found nothing of any value and fled, damaging the man’s car as they left. In a more serious incident, on February 14, UNMIK police reported that they had begun an investigation after the body of a Bosnian Romani man was found at the edge of a road at 5:40 AM in the town of Lipljan, central Kosovo, with a single gunshot wound to the head. A day earlier in the same town, the same source reported that a Romani family were victims of a firebomb attack on their home. At just before 8 PM on February 13, an explosion destroyed one room and the front door, but the family escaped physically unharmed. In a similar attack on February 12, a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) patrol reported that a hand grenade had been thrown into the backyard of a house occupied by Kosovo Roma in Suharekë/Suva Reka and had detonated; a second such device reportedly found was disposed of in a controlled explosion. According to the Priština-based non-governmental organisation Council for the Defence of Human Rights and Freedoms, four Serbian and Roma houses were destroyed in the town of Burim/Jovic, south-western Kosovo, in the month of January 2001. In addition it was reported by KFOR that on December 16, a Romani man from the village of Bresje was rushed to hospital following an attack by five unidentified assailants in which he was repeatedly stabbed; KFOR reported on December 16 that his condition was stable and announced an investigation into the incident.
Guardian UK 23 Feb 2001 Mass rape ruled a war crime Hague tribunal finds Serbs guilty of systematic enslavement and torture of Bosnian Muslim women Andrew Osborn in Brussels. The Mass rape and sexual enslavement in time of war will for the first time be regarded as a crime against humanity, a charge second in gravity only to genocide, after a landmark ruling from the Yugoslav war crimes tribunal in the Hague yesterday which sentenced three Bosnian Serbs to a combined tariff of 60 years in jail. In a judgment that is likely to have far-reaching implications for war crimes trials in Rwanda, Kosovo and East Timor, the tribunal elevated systematic rape from being a mere violation of the customs of war to one of the most heinous war crimes of all - a crime against humanity. "This verdict is a significant step for women's human rights. Sexual enslavement in armed conflict is now legally acknowledged as a crime against humanity and perpetrators can and must be held to account," said Amnesty International in a statement after the decision.The court ruled that the three veterans of the 1992-95 Bosnian war - who stood in silence as the verdict was read out - were guilty of the systematic and savage rape, torture and enslavement of Muslim women in 1992 in the town of Foca in south-eastern Bosnia. They were convicted on 19 separate counts."This is the first case where sexual slavery has been charged," the UN prosecutor Dirk Ryneveld said yesterday. "What sets this apart is that this is a case in which we have a large rape camp organisation. This is the first case of sexual enslavement and the only one with sexual assaults and no murders." In the past international courts such as the tribunals set up in Nuremberg and Tokyo after the second world war have been reluctant to class wartime rape as a serious crime of war but the Hague tribunal took a much tougher line on the issue.The judgment will give hope to thousands of surviving "comfort women" used as sex slaves by Japanese soldiers during the second world war who have been fighting in vain for recognition and compensation from the Japanese government.The presiding judge, Florence Mumba of Zambia, described in graphic detail how the three Bosnian Serbs had in the summer of 1992 abducted girls as young as 12 and subjected them to appalling sexual torture in sports halls and a variety of "rape houses"."The three accused are not ordinary soldiers whose morals were merely loosened by the hardships of war. They thrived in the dark atmosphere of the dehumanisation of those believed to be enemies," she told the court."Rape was used by members of the Bosnian Serb armed forces as an instrument of terror," the judge concluded at the end of the 11-month trial as she read out the verdict to the three accused."You abused and ravaged Muslim women because of their ethnicity and from among their number you picked whomsoever you fancied. You have shown the most glaring disrespect for the women's dignity and their fundamental human rights on a scale that far surpasses even what one might call the average seriousness of rapes during wartime."Dragoljub Kunarac, 40, said to have been involved in a "nightmarish scheme of sexual exploitation", was given 28 years for rape and torture. Radomir Kovac, 39, was sentenced to 20 years for similar crimes. The third defendant, Zoran Vukovic, 45, was given a sentence of 12 years because prosecutors were able to produce less evidence in his case. He was, nevertheless, convicted of raping and torturing a 15-year-old Muslim girl who was about the same age as his own daughter. The three had looked confident before the judgment was read out, shaking hands with their lawyers, but when the verdict was pronounced Kunarac sank slowly into his seat and shook his head.In Sarajevo a group of Bosnian Muslim women reacted with fury to the sentences, which they regarded as insufficiently tough. "We are shocked with the verdict. Justice has not been done, as the three received a minimum punishment for what they have done," argued Nezira Zolota of the Sarajevo association of former camp inmates.Human rights groups estimate that tens of thousands of Muslim women and girls were systematically raped during the war. Many were deliberately impregnated so as to bear Serbian babies and advance the cause of ethnic cleansing.
AP (20 Feb 2001) U.N. judges on Tuesday upheld the convictions of two Bosnian Muslims and a Bosnian Croat for the murder and torture of Serb prisoners during the 1992-1995 ethnic conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Zdravko Mucic, Hazim Delic, and Esad Landzo sat still between U.N. guards in the high-security courtroom as Hunt announced the decision.The so-called Celebici trial – named for the camp in central Bosnia – is the only case before the tribunal involving crimes committed against ethnic Serbs. On Nov. 16, 1998, a three-judge court at the tribunal convicted the three defendants of the murder, torture and rape of Serb prisoners at the Celebici camp in 1992. In a setback for the prosecution, however, the appeals chamber upheld the acquittal of a fourth defendant, Zejnil Delalic, a Muslim military commander. Delalic had been accused of having overall control of the camp. The trial judges had said there was not enough evidence to link him to atrocities. Although Tuesday's complex and technical judgment may have limited consequences for the defendants, it is likely to have broad ramifications for trials of political leaders charged with ordering mass atrocities. That issue will be crucial in the cases of several Bosnian Serb leaders in custody and in particular if former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and other top suspects are ever taken into custody. The tribunal, which convened trials in 1995, has convicted 11 Bosnian Serbs and Croats of war crimes and crimes against humanity for atrocities during the Bosnian conflict.
BBC (22 Feb 2001) In passing sentence on Dragoljub Kunarac, Radomir Kovac and Zoran Vukovic, Judge Florence Mumba said they had shown a "glaring disrespect" for their victims' fundamental human rights. During the trial, the court heard evidence that the three men had systematically abused and degraded their victims in the south eastern Bosnian town of Foca between June 1992 and February 1993.The verdicts follow months of testimony from dozens of witnesses, including 16 rape victims who came forward to give evidence. The women told how Bosnian Serb paramilitary soldiers entered detention centres and selected women and girls as young as 12 for nightly gang-rapes and sexual torture.
BBC (28 Feb 2001) A Russian army colonel has gone on trial accused of kidnapping and murdering a young Chechen woman during the war in the republic. Colonel Yuri Budanov is the first soldier to be accused of carrying out atrocities during the military campaign since operations began in Chechnya almost a year and a half ago. He is appearing before an army tribunal in the southern city of Rostov. Colonel Budanov is charged with kidnapping and murdering an 18-year-old Chechen woman, Kheda Kungaeva allegedly abducted from her village near Urus Martan in March last year. Colonel Budanov has admitted the murder, but denies it was pre-meditated. He told the court he detained the woman because he thought she was a sniper. He then strangled her in an angry outburst during an interrogation.The court will also hear allegations that another soldier, Lieutenant-Colonel Ivan Fyodorov, ordered his men to open fire on the village without good reason. The cases are being used by Russia to show that it will take action if crimes are committed in Chechnya. But organisations monitoring human rights believe these trials are just the tip of an iceberg.
IWPR (16 Feb 2001) Fifty years on, Stalin's legacy continues to haunt the North Caucasus Karachai and Balkar leaders in the North Caucasus are calling on the Russian government to "fulfill its obligations" to the victims of Stalin's deportations, many of whom have never returned to their ethnic homeland. The Karachai and Balkar leaders are also concerned that time is running out for deportees who still remain in Central Asia. They say that worsening relations between Russian and Kazakstan could mean that their ethnic kin will never be allowed to return home. In 1996, the Russian government passed a law on the Rehabilitation of the Karachai and Balkar Peoples but few of its initiatives have ever been put into practice.
AFP (17 Feb 2001) - At least nine Russian civilians were murdered last week in Grozny, news agencies said quoting the Russian state prosecution service. Russia's chief prosecutor in Grozny, Yuri Ponomarev, blamed the deaths on members of a gang which he said was trying to terrorize the few remaining Russians in the Chechen capital, in remarks quoted by Itar-Tass. On Friday, the bodies of several Russians were found in the smouldering remains of a house in Grozny. On Thursday, police found the bodies of a Russian couple and their daughter, also shot dead, in the same neighbourhood, Leninski. AFP (25 Feb 2001) - Russian officials in Chechnya said Sunday that a mass grave discovered on the outskirts of Grozny contained the remains of civilians killed by Chechen rebels. Chechen sources could not be reached for comment Sunday, but rebel administration officials alleged Saturday that the victims were Chechen civilians who were rounded up and shot by the Russian troops. The Russian officials denied reports that the remains of up to 200 people had been found, and ITAR-TASS quoted a source in the Grozny prosecutor's office as saying there were 20 bodies. The Interfax news agency earlier reported that at least three bodies from the mass grave have already been identified, including that of a 16-year-old boy who according to the report went missing in December last year. RIA Novosti cited one Russian administration source as saying the victims were probably shot dead one or two months ago. Initial Russian news agency reports on Saturday said the bodies were those of Chechen fighters killed when Russian troops took the city in February 2000. AFP (25 Feb 2001) In Moscow the deputy representing Chechnya in Russia's lower parliamentary chamber accused the Russian military of conducting ethnic cleansing and genocide against the Chechen people. Mr Aslambek Aslakhanov's comments came in an interview published on Saturday, before news of the mass grave was released. MR Aslakhanov, who was elected to the assembly last August, said he has not 'yet succeeded in doing anything' to stop the killing in his homeland.
AP (26 Feb 2001) Chechen Corpses Probe Opposed - Russia's military has taken control of an investigation into the deaths of about a dozen people whose bodies were found in an abandoned village in Chechnya an official said Monday. They were found by a man from Grozny who was searching for his missing son in Dachny, a hamlet southwest of the capital. The victims included women and children, and all been shot to death, according to an official in Chechnya's pro-Moscow government who announced that the military has taken over the probe. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the bodies had been booby-trapped with explosives where they lay. Beyond those details, the grim discovery was still shrouded in mystery. Last spring, about 150 bodies were found near the town of Urus-Martan in western Chechnya, near the headquarters Russian military commander Gen. Vladimir Shamanov. Prosecutors studied the mass grave but have not filed any charges, Cherkasev said. The Council of Europe's human rights commissioner, Alvaro Gil-Robles, arrived in Russia on Monday and met with the country's human rights commissioner, Oleg Mironov. The council, Europe's leading human rights watchdog, suspended Russia's voting rights for nearly a year because of the Chechnya war, but reinstated those rights last month despite persistent concerns. Russian troops failed to suppress Chechnya's independence bid in a 1994-96 war. They returned to the republic in 1999 following rebel incursions into a neighboring region and deadly bombings in Russia that authorities blamed on the rebels.
Reuters (16 Feb 2001) Seven Serbs were killed and dozens injured on Friday when a bus was blown up by an explosive device in northern Kosovo .... Brigadier Robert Fry, a senior member of the NATO-led peacekeeping force, called the attack ``premeditated murder.'' ``There were men, women and children traveling on that bus and whoever perpetrated this did so with complete disregard for human life and also for the reputation of the people of Kosovo in the wider world,'' Fry told Reuters. The Nis Express bus, escorted by Swedish peacekeepers, was just one km south of Gate Three on Kosovo's northern boundary with Serbia proper when the explosion happened at around 5:15 a.m. EST. Of the 60-odd passengers on board, seven died at the scene, 10 were seriously injured and others suffered lighter injuries.
WP (21 Feb 2001) Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic – has gone underground after years of living publicly in Belgrade. Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic said his police have been unable to find the former commander of the Bosnian Serb army at his Belgrade home – or anywhere else in Serbia. Mladic is one of the top three suspects sought by the court, along with former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic. The Netherlands-based tribunal indicted Mladic in 1995 for crimes against humanity and genocide. With Yugoslavia refusing to extradite Milosevic, and Karadzic hiding in Bosnia under the protection of scores of heavily armed bodyguards, the news that Mladic has gone into hiding was the newest setback in international efforts to bring leading suspects to justice
Guardian (28 Feb 2001) Anton Gecas lives quietly in Scotland. But within days, Lithuania will ask Britain to deport him on charges of genocide and mass murder. Last week a judge in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, issued a warrant for Mr Gecas's arrest. He is charged with 13 crimes relating to the genocide of Jews and the mass murder of other civilians in Lithuania and what is now Belarus. A formal request for his extradition will arrive at the Foreign Office within days. Shortly after the Germans invaded Lithuania in June 1941, Mr Gecas volunteered for the 12th auxiliary police service battalion as a lieutenant in charge of a platoon. The battalion became one of the second world war's most feared Nazi death squads. By the winter of 1941 more than 90% of the country's 220,000 Jews were killed. In a 1987 documentary, Scottish Television said Mr Gecas was a war criminal. Five years later, he lost a £600,000 libel action against the company. He admitted to being involved in six incidents in which soldiers shot civilians, but claimed he was outside the area of the murders. The trial judge, Lord Milligan, said he was "clearly satisfied" he was a war criminal.
The East African (Nairobi) (8 Feb 2001) - New Book Says Britain Abetted Rwanda Killings. A Top Queen's Counsel has accused the immediate former Conservative government in the UK of not only failing to act over the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, but of playing a leading role in stopping calls for a UN intervention force in the Security Council. Geoffrey Robertson is one of the two authors who have in the recent past published books on the 1994 genocide. What is new, however, is his accusation that the UK "actually led the opposition to intervention, on the pretence that what was happening in Rwanda was not genocide." Mr. Robertson also points out that while former US President Bill Clinton apologised for America's role in the tragic affair, Britain pointedly has not. In her book, A People Betrayed - the Role of the West in Rwanda's Genocide, Ms Linda Melvern demonstrates that Britain played a leading role in rejecting Western intervention. Robertson, in his book Crimes Against Humanity, also asks whether there was some kind of unconscious racism in Britain's determination not to intervene. "There is no example of British acquiescence in genocide so inexplicable and so unexplained as the behaviour of John Major's government during the racial slaughter that began in Rwanda on April 6 1994. "The UK actually led the opposition to intervention in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, claiming that what was happening was not genocide."
BBC 16 Feb 2001 Murder 'tarnishes' race record The Commission describes the murder as 'intolerable' The reputation of Wales as a racially-tolerant society has been tarnished by the murder of Jan Pasalbessy, BBC Wales has been told. Dr Mashuk Ally, head of the Commission for Racial Equality in Wales, has warned that the killing of the Indonesian-born man in Newport will change attitudes towards Welsh communities. Jan Pasalbessy was 'kicked and punched' His comments were made a day after a gang of four was jailed for murdering 48-year-old Mr Pasalbessy in what his family describe as a racist attack. Speaking on Radio Wales's breakfast programme, Good Morning Wales, Dr Ally said: "Wales's reputation as a tolerant society has been tarnished by this case - and in particular Newport, because Newport is a racially and culturally-diverse town, which has a long history of harmony and peace. "Regrettably this demonstrates to us that there are deep-seated prejudices in our society which have resulted in a death. "This is intolerable in the 21st century of a civilised society." Punched and kicked Newport Crown Court heard that Jan Pasalbessy was kicked to death in the grounds of a hospital in a "brutal and cowardly" attack. Emma Oates, 19, of Newport, Ashley Haynes, 18, of no fixed address, Roger Talbot, 21, of Cwmbran, Gwent, Ashley Haynes, 18, of no fixed address and Carl Rosser, 16, all denied murder but were found guilty. The jury had been told that Mr Pasalbessy had taken his 14-year-old daughter Christina - who witnessed his murder - to be treated at the hospital following an assault earlier that day in June last year. She had been beaten up by a girl egged on by Oates, a mother-of-two. The murder happened at the Royal Gwent Hospital She described seeing her father punched and kicked to the floor as she pleaded with his attackers to leave him alone. The former merchant seaman died from his injuries the following day. Sentencing the gang, Judge Lord Justice Richards said he did not believe the attack had been racially-motivated. But Mr Pasalbessy's family and friends, and members of racial equality groups, have strongly disagreed. His stepson Paul Heard, 30, said: "If he had been a white person he would still be alive today." Race crimes double Maggie Simpson, of the National Assembly Against Racism said Mr Pasalbessy was killed because he was black. "Racist crimes have doubled in Wales over the last year," she said. "Unfortunately Mr Pasalbessy is a statistic in that trend," said Ms Simpson. Detective Chief Inspector Des Jones, who led the murder hunt said Gwent Police would not tolerate racial crime. "We serve a multi-ethnic community, and that community deserves to be protected in exactly the same way as any other," he said.
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