News Monitor for May 2001
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Tracking current news on genocide
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AFP 1 May 2001 [full text] Some 330 skeletons, including those of women and children, have been recovered from a mass grave dating from Algeria's bloody independence war 40 years ago, eyewitnesses said. War veterans minister Mohamed Cherif Abbes last week confirmed discovery of the grave, which was uncovered last month. The find was at the village of Cheria, some 430 kms east of the capital Algiers. Local independence war veterans say the victims and their families were not resistance fighters, but had probably belonged to local support networks backing the Algerian anti-French resistance movement. Local officials and investigators examining the scene say the grave, covering 1,000 square metres, could contain as many as 600 bodies. Partial and complete skeleton remains have been laid out in two rooms at the local town hall. They were said to have been shot by special units of the French specialised administration section (SAS) during the 1954-62 Algerian war of independence. The first skeletons were found by labourers last month digging at the former SAS headquarters. A specialist pointed out the skeleton of a woman and an infant only a few months old. Locals say the victims are not from Cheria, a village 50 kms from the town of Tebessa. Members of an Algerian war veterans' group said the victims had been brought in from surrounding districts for interrogation, then tortured and executed.
Liberte [Algerian newspaper, in French] 30 Apr 2001 [full text] Algeria's president last night promised an independent inquiry after days of rioting by the Berber minority left about 80 people dead. Abdelaziz Bouteflika said in a television address that the investigation would be "totally free and transparent". He said: "There are people instigating divisions and separatism. They will be unmasked." He added that democracy in Algeria was "irreversible". The riots, in Kabyle, east of Algiers, have seen bloody confrontations between large numbers of stone-throwing youths and police firing live rounds. Demonstrators took to the streets after a student was killed while in police custody in the town of Beni Douala. Police said the student died after an officer's gun went off unintentionally, but many in the region say it was an execution. Throughout the weekend, thousands of protesters rampaged in the streets of Kabyle, destroying government buildings, blocking traffic and hurling Molotov cocktails.
Independent (UK) 3 May 2001, by Robert Fisk. The Berbers wrecked the Byzantine rule of north Africa. Justinian the Second's prefect was defeated by the Berber Garmul. The Berbers the men of Kabyle fought the Romans, the Arabs, the Turks and finally the French, who took 29 years to subdue the mountains around Tizi Ouzou. In the independence war of 1954-62, the Berber names of Amirouche and Ramdane were synonymous with the National Liberation Army's "Wilaya 3" resistance to colonial rule. Little wonder, then, that Algeria's President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has announced a "commission of investigation" into the killing of up to 62 Berbers by the police in just four days last week. In the hill towns south-east of Algiers, they are talking about an "intifada", a rebellion against government rule, a Palestinian-style stones-against-bullets insurrection which after the death in police custody at Beni Doula of Guermah Massinissa, a teenage student threatens to open all the carefully concealed divisions in Algerian society. The Berbers, with their own distinctive culture and language tamazight hoped their participation in the war against France would give them recognition; but President Ben Bella destroyed their aspirations in 1962. "We are all Arabs," he said. And that was supposed to be that. This week, they are recalling the "Berber Spring" of 1980 when the government refused to permit the writer Mouloud Mammeri to give a lecture on 16th-century Berber poetry; but the thousands of arrests that followed this revolt are insignificant compared with the deaths last week. Whole areas of the Kabyle capital of Tizi Ouzou were taken over by demonstrators while police stations in outlying towns were assaulted by hundreds of youths. The provincial gendarmerie, having run out of tear-gas grenades, began shooting down the protesters with live rounds. Needless to say, Europe so swift to condemn Israel's killing of Palestinian stone-throwers remained silent. Algeria's "Islamist" war with its own toll of perhaps 150,000 lives has frightened the French so much that only a massacre of Sabra-and-Chatila proportions will provoke a squeak from the Quai d'Orsay. With its own massive Algerian population, France does not want another immigration of refugees from the Maghreb. Better to let the Algerian government the pouvoir handle the problem. But is it capable of doing so? On Saturday alone, 30 Berbers were killed around Tizi Ouzou as youths attacked police stations, set up barricades of burning tyres on the main roads from Algiers and demanded an end to the "injustice" in their lives. Many claimed that the murder of the famous Berber singer Lounes Matoub, shot dead by Algeria's familiar "unknown" gunmen in 1988, was the work of the government. Equally familiar was the televised statement of President Bouteflika on Monday night. "These events did not happen by chance," he announced. "There are people who are deliberately fomenting divisions and separatism we know who they are and they will be unmasked." But Algeria's "commissions" of inquiry whether investigating the most grotesque massacres or the murder of a former president traditionally fail to unmask anyone; which is why so many Algerians suspect that the government and its all-powerful army have a hand in the violence that has torn Algeria apart. Recent claims by former army officers that soldiers were themselves to blame for extrajudicial killings and torture have only increased these suspicions. On the campus of one Algiers university on Monday, students shouted "pouvoir assassin"; the Interior Minister, Yazid Noureddine Zerhouni, insisted the police had "kept their nerve" and "only used firearms as a last resort". Which means there were a lot of "last resorts" around Tizi Ouzou last week. Indeed, the towns of Maa
Al-Ahram Weekly, 3 - 9 May 2001, Issue No.532 by Nasr El-Kaffas [full text] After more than a week of deadly street fighting in Algeria, President Abdel-Aziz Bouteflika said on Monday that an investigation would be opened into the bloody clashes between security forces and ethnic Berbers that have left at least 60 dead. In his first remarks since the outbreak of violence, a solemn-faced Bouteflika appeared on television, appealing for calm and pledging that a "free and open investigation" would be conducted. "A national commission of inquiry will be created to investigate the events of the last few days," Bouteflika said during his 15-minute speech, without specifying when the inquiry would begin. Civilians will be appointed to the commission, he promised. The Berbers of the Kabyle region, east of Algiers, had demanded an investigation of the rioting that started after an 18-year-old student was shot dead on 18 April. The young student tried to escape from a policeman following his arrest. Police said the officer's gun went off accidentally but news of the death triggered riots across the mountainous region. The dead young man was among hundreds marking the anniversary of the 1980 "Berber spring", when authorities cracked down on demonstrations in the Kabyle region demanding formal recognition of the Berber language and culture. The situation deteriorated further as riots spread to other Algerian cities, including the capital, Algiers. Hundreds of university students protested at the downtown University of Algiers, chanting slogans including "the army -- the murderers." A tight police cordon prevented them from leaving campus. In an attempt to calm the tension, Interior Minister Noureddine Zerhouni immediately travelled to the troubled region. He praised the security forces' "restraint" in suppressing the riots and said live ammunition had been used only "as a last resort." An uneasy calm returned to the Berber region on Monday, though there are reports of sporadic clashes between protesters and police. Witnesses said Tizi Ouzou, a city of 600,000 people, remained paralysed. Businesses were closed as stone-throwing rioters fought running battles with police firing tear gas. A semblance of calm was eventually established, leaving the city's streets strewn with debris, burned tyres and felled trees. In Bejaia, further east, tension eased somewhat, allowing shops to reopen, but the town appears ravaged by war. Many government buildings there have been ransacked or torched. Observers note that the protests have become a vehicle for the region's youth to condemn crippling poverty, unemployment and government policies in the Berber region. "I understand their worries and their concerns, faced with a tomorrow without hope," Bouteflika said, referring to Berber youth. "We are going to work toward a future that takes into account their aspirations." He stressed, however, that demands for greater recognition of the Berber language (Tamazighi) and culture required a revision of the constitution, hinting at the possibility of a long-demanded referendum on the matter. As the rioting spread and the death toll mounted, anger was directed at Bouteflika, criticised for failing to rein in security forces. Many in Kabyle have accused authorities of fuelling the violence to serve their own ends. Interior Minister Zerhouni, speaking at a news conference in Tizi Ouzou late on Sunday, said the young rioters were "manipulated by terrorist infiltrators." The claim is tenuous, however, especially in light of the well-known animosity between Berbers and Islamists. Residents of the Kabyle region accuse Islamists of seeking to impose an Arab identity on them, while they insist on maintaining their own culture and language. The Front for Socialist Forces (FFS), a leading pro-Berber party, called on Monday for the European Union to send a team to Algeria to investigate the rioting. The party also asked UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to send a special envoy to pressure authorities into moving towards democracy. The riots have increased pressure on the president, with Said Saadi, head of the Rally for Culture and Democracy, another pro-Berber party, threatening to pull his party's two ministers from the government. "Personally, I would say that it is impossible to remain in a government that fires real bullets at its own people," Saadi said. Algerian newspapers have recently described the president as increasingly fragile and at odds with the military establishment -- the real power in Algeria since it gained independence from France in 1962. Elected in 1999, Bouteflika put forward a peace plan to end the ongoing Islamist insurgency that claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people since it began nearly 10 years ago. Yet the violence continues and the conflict in the Berber region could only add to Bouteflika's troubles.
BBC 10 May 2001 [full text] Gunmen kill eight Algerian policemen Kabylie has been rocked by violence in the past two weeks Gunmen have killed eight policemen in an ambush in the Kabylie region of northeastern Algeria. State television said Islamist militants opened fire on the policemen on Wednesday in the coastal town of Tigzirt, about 120 kilometres (70 miles) east of Algiers, and close to the regional capital Tizi Ouzou. Tizi Ouzou was the scene of extensive rioting last week in which 80 ethnic Berbers were killed. The authorities blamed the latest attack, in which two policeman were also injured, on the Salafist Group or GSPC - a radical Islamic group which is known to be active in this area. It comes two days after the same faction was blamed for a bomb that killed two soldiers. Different aims The BBC's North Africa correspondent David Bamford says liberal-minded Berbers and radical Islamists are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. The GSPC would have been expected to carry out an act of counter-propaganda after the recent publicity for the Berber cause, he says. The Berbers were the original inhabitants of Algeria until the Arabs conquered North Africa in the 7th century. Living mainly in the mountainous regions, the Berbers call for official recognition of their own language and culture. They make up some 30% of the total population. Insurgency Radical Islamists have waged a savage insurgency since 1992, when the government suspended elections which the now-outlawed Islamic Salvation Front seemed set to win. President Bouteflika is under fire from the Berbers and the Islamists Although Kabylie is predominantly hostile to the Islamists, there are outlying villages where local people have always refused to accept the liberal trends of Berber nationalism. Some of these communities have since been recruited into the Islamist cause. The Kabylie region has seen 10 days of fierce rioting by Berbers, sparked by the death of a teenager in police custody. A week ago Algerian riot police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of young Berbers in Bejaia demonstrating against perceived brutality in the police's response to the nation-wide riots. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has promised a "free and open investigation" into the clashes.
BBC 13 May 2001 [full text] Algerian parliament opens Berber riots inquiry An Algerian parliamentary commission is due to question the Minister of the Interior and other authorities today Sunday about the way officials dealt with recent protests in the mainly Berber area of Kabylie, in which at least 60 people are believed to have died. The commission has called on citizens to come forward with their testimonies to establish what happened. Thousands of people - mostly Berbers - have demonstrated in Algiers against what they called the government repression of the protests, that were sparked last month by the killing of a Berber youth in police custody.
BBC 21 May, 2001 [full text] By Peter Hiett Fresh unrest has broken out in the north-east of Algeria, home to the ethnic Berber group who are furious about the police's aggressive response to pro-Berber demonstrations earlier this month and last. Although more than 20,000 people demonstrated peacefully on Sunday in the main town, Tizi Ouzou, elsewhere the protests turned violent. A young Berber, shot in earlier riots with an explosive bullet One town, Seddouk, was paralysed as youths pelted police with stones and set trees and tyres on fire. Police replied with teargas. Similar though smaller clashes took place elsewhere, as protesters demanded the withdrawal of the paramilitary police from the area. Berbers in Algeria have long campaigned for linguistic and cultural equality with the Arab population - demands which Algerian governments have historically resisted, sometimes violently. List of demands Thousands of people rallied outside local government offices in Tizi Ouzou, and then marched on a local court building. They will be drawing up a list of demands. The protesters are still furious at the way the police fired into the crowd at the earlier pro-Berber demonstrations, which were sparked by the killing of a teenage student in police custody. The government says 40 people were killed then. Local people say twice that number died. And though the government has set up an inquiry into the latest outbreak, this weekend's trouble suggests that local people do not think it is enough. More protests are planned for Monday.
ICRC 23 May 2001 The Algerian Red Crescent, with the support of the ICRC, held a colloquium on international humanitarian law in the Palais de la culture, Algiers, on 19 and 20 May. This was the first humanitarian law event to be held in Algeria since violence there started over 10 years ago. The colloquium's aim was twofold: to pool the efforts of organizations concerned by humanitarian law and humanitarian endeavour, and to emphasize the importance of humanitarian rules that set limits on violence. Most Algerian speakers stressed the close links between the country's history and humanitarian values. The colloquium was chaired by the President of Algeria and attended by representatives of the authorities, NGOs and nationally and internationally renowned Algerian humanitarian law experts, such as Mohamed Bedjaoui, former Minister of Justice and member of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, of which he is also a past President. The ICRC sent a large delegation, led by Ms Anne Petitpierre, one of its Vice-Presidents.
BBC 26 May 2001 New unrest hits Berber region A young man walks in a riot-torn street of Akbou, near Bejaia By North Africa correspondent David Bamford There has been a day of clashes in the Algerian region of Kabylie between paramilitary police and ethnic Berber demonstrators as renewed unrest spread across the region affecting many towns and villages. Reports from the biggest regional towns of Tizi Ouzou and Bejaia spoke of youths armed with stones attacking government buildings. Tizi Ouzou has been overwhelmed by massive demonstrations Police have been responding with tear gas. Several demonstrators and at least one policeman have been killed in nearly a week of unrest after a lull following a wave of Berber protests in April in which 80 people were killed. Algerian radio said that paramilitary police confronted hundreds of youths who were attacking government buildings and bringing down electricity pylons. The Berber protestors reportedly set up barricades across main roads and attacked vehicles in an effort to close down the province. Snowplough Defence news agencies said that a police snowplough being used to break down the barricades was commandeered by the protestors and over-turned. Rioting has spread to many towns and villages Eyewitnesses in Tizi Ouzou described a scene of thick clouds of tear gas as police and stone-throwing demonstrators battle it out in the city centre. Several people, including a policeman, have been reported killed in the last five days of clashes, though details of casualties are sketchy. On Monday an estimated 500,000 people demonstrated in Tizi Ouzou, demanding the withdrawal of the paramilitary police and an end to what they describe as government discrimination in the region in its housing and employment policies.
IRIN 2 May 2001 The CNDD-FDD [Conseil National pour la Defense de la Democratie-Forces pour la Defense de la Democratie] has asked the UN to "officially" state that the killings which took place in Burundi in 1965 and 1972 amounted to genocide. In a statement issued on the 29th anniversary of the 1972 Burundi massacre, the group's spokesman, Gerome Ndiho, called on the citizens and the UN to remember Burundians who died then. "We based ourselves on the fact that observers said that more than 580,000 Hutus were killed. We mainly based ourselves on the fact that the UN carried out investigations and made a report in 1985," he told the BBC Kirundi service. In that report, the UN had said that genocide had taken place in 1965 and 1972 in Burundi.
AFP 14 May 2001 Burundi heading for widespread civil war, warns think-tank ICG NAIROBI, May 14 (AFP) - Some 4,000 Hutu rebels have in recent months returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Burundi, where "widespread civil war" is looming, the International Crisis Group (ICG) warned here Monday. The returning rebels are members of the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), which had been fighting in DRC alongside forces loyal to the Kinshasa regime, according to a report released by the ICG, a respected international think-tank. Their return home follows the coming to power in DRC of Joseph Kabila in January on the assassination of his father and predecessor as president, Laurent Kabila. "Joseph Kabila seems to want to see the Burundians leave Congolese territory" to convince the international community of his commitment to the peace process in his own country, according to the report. "The rebels have accumulated weapons and resources" in DRC, ICG analyst Francois Grignon told a news conference in Nairobi. "Joseph Kabila is not going to resupply the FDD to destabilise Burundi," as his father had done, added Grignon. According to the report, no progress towards peace has been made since Tutsi minority and Hutu majority political groups -- but, crucially, not the rebels -- signed a power-sharing deal in the northern town of Arusha in August 2000. "There is no ceasefire in sight between the army and the rebel groups" and violence is escalating, the report noted. The escalation in clashes has allowed FDD leader Jean-Bosco Ndayikengurukiye to "boost his profile (during negotiations with the government) and regain support of its troops". The other main Hutu rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL), managed to recruit about 1,000 young Hutus into its ranks in February, when it briefly occupied Kinama, on the outskirts of the capital, Bujumbura. The FNL has begun to coordinate with the FDD, "exchanging information about intelligence, about the army's movements," noted Grignon. The army, meanwhile, has "considerably strengthened its heavy artillery in anticipation of imminent joint attacks by the FDD and FNL," according to the report. In the light of all this, the ICG called on South African former president Nelson Mandela, the chief mediator in Burundi's peace process, to harmonise what is currently a two-track negotiation process, with the FNL talking with South African mediators in Pretoria and the FDD meeting in Libreville, Gabon, on identical issues. Instead, the South Africans should focus on renewed, scaled-down power sharing talks, while discussions in Gabon should be restricted to ceasefire negotiations, the ICG urged. The peace processes in DRC and Burundi should no longer be treated as separate issues, the ICG also recommended. The ICG describes itself as a private, multinational research organisation producing regular analytical reports aimed at key international decision takers. Its board is presided by Finnish former president Martti Ahtisaari and also includes former NATO supreme allied commander (Europe) Wesley Clarke, former European Commission president Jacques Delors and former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. http://www.intl-crisis-group.org/projects/showreport.cfm?reportid=288
BBC 17 May, 2001 [full text] Congo political ban lifted Joseph Kabila's announcement is timely By Mark Dummett in Kinshasa Restrictions on the activities of political parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been lifted. DR Congo President Joseph Kabila said all those parties that were in operation under former President Mobuto Sese Seko, would be able to resume their work without interference. He announced the move at a church mass in memory of his assassinated father Laurent Kabila, saying the new law would come into effect immediately, following the advice of the political parties. It came on the fourth anniversary of the toppling of Mobutu Since the rebel army of his father entered Kinshasa exactly four years ago, political parties - of which they are as many as 450 - have been able to exist, but meetings and campaigns have been banned. UN talks The announcement came only hours before the arrival in Kinshasa of ambassadors of the United Nations Security Council, on the second leg of their tour of the countries involved in the war in Congo. The UN expects to deploy 3,000 troops They will be meeting the government as well as opposition parties, to evaluate the state of the peace process in the country. They will also encourage the full withdrawal of all foreign troops and a setting up of a national dialogue and eventual elections. A senior member of the biggest political party in the capital, the UDPF, said the two events were linked. Jean Joseph Mukendi, said that Joseph Kabila had make such changes before, but that nothing much had changed. He said that each time a senior international delegation arrived in Kinshasa an announcement is made but that he is still waiting for concrete change.
Reuters 19 May 2001 U.N. Security Council Mission Hits Snag in Congo By Buchizya Mseteka KINSHASA (Reuters) - A U.N. Security Council mission to breathe new life into the Democratic Republic of Congo's peace process hit a snag when President Joseph Kabila's African allies took an unexpectedly hardline stance. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia on Saturday accused countries backing rebels in Africa's third largest country of killing 2.5 million people in genocide since 1998 and urged sanctions to push Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi to withdraw their troops. ``These were unusually tough remarks. It was a clear message that the allies are prepared to stand with Congo to the end, and that implementation of any peace deal would be on their terms,'' an African ambassador in Kinshasa told Reuters. The aim of the mission, which includes 12 of the 15 Security Council members, was to build momentum for a peace process that was revitalized in January with the assassination of Congolese President Laurent Kabila and his replacement by his son Joseph. What the mission heard from Congo's allies in the war for the mineral-rich former Zaire were similar arguments to those the elder Kabila often used to justify his defiant stand. ``Two-point-five million have been massacred. The genocide continues to take place, carried out by Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. Such genocide cannot be allowed in the 21st century,'' Namibian President Sam Nujoma said after a summit of allied leaders. U.N. officials said Nujoma complained that the United Nations was not doing enough to force the countries backing rebels fighting the Congolese government to withdraw unconditionally. U.N. Security Council spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters: ``There is a recognition of a need for a comprehensive solution to the problem that finger-pointing won't solve.''
BBC 20 May 2001, [full text] UN warned of DR Congo 'genocide' Life in the east of Congo means hunger, disease and terror The Democratic Republic of Congo and its allies have accused the UN of ignoring a "genocide" of 2.5 million people in the rebel-held east of the country. "We call upon the international community, especially the United Nations, to condemn this genocide being committed," said Namibian President Sam Nujoma. Africa's Biggest War The conflict was sparked in August 1998 when Rwanda and Uganda invaded DR Congo, backing rebels trying to topple the late President Laurent Kabila. Zimbabwe, Uganda and Angola stepped in to support Kabila's troops. Laurent Kabila was mysteriously assassinated in January. His son and successor Joseph has restored relations with the international community, allowed UN troops in, and revived the peace process. He was speaking at a meeting with the president of DR Congo, Joseph Kabila, and the leaders of Zimbabwe and Angola. Namibia, Zimbabwe and Angola are providing military support to the DR Congo Government in its fight against the rebels. An American aid organisation, the International Rescue Committee, has published the mortality figure cited by the Namibian president but has not said whether they had all died as a direct result of the fighting. Mr Nujoma called on the UN to: Impose sanctions on Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, the countries backing the rebels Force the Ugandan-backed MLC to comply with a 1999 ceasefire, the only rebel group not to do so Deploy more peacekeepers in the country Rwanda's Tutsi-led government says its troops are in the Congo to track Hutu militiamen who massacred more than 500,000 people, mainly Tutsis, during Rwanda's 1994 genocide. The five-hour summit coincided with a visit by 12 ambassadors of the UN who are in Kinshasa for talks with the four allied presidents. They are there to discuss the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Congo - the supposed next step of the peace process - but Mr Nujoma said their forces would only leave once the other side had done so first.
WP 27 May 2001;By Karl Vick -- Ugandan soldiers have arrested a man they say has confessed to taking part in the killings of six Red Cross workers in eastern Congo last month, the Ugandan military said today. Dongo Chuga was identified as a warrior from the Lendu ethnic group, one of two tribes whose brutal local conflict has killed thousands in addition to the more than 2 million estimated to have died as a result of the Congolese civil war, which began in 1998. Uganda, one of five foreign countries involved in the conflict, nominally controls the area where the attack occurred, a hilly, forested zone near the Ugandan-Congolese border. In that zone, the Ugandan occupiers have been widely accused of favoring the economically dominant Hema tribe, which is fighting the Lendu. A Ugandan army spokesman, Phinehas Katirima, said Chuga confessed to being among 14 attackers who stopped two clearly marked Red Cross vehicles on a remote road April 26, shooting and hacking to death the six relief workers -- one Swiss, one Colombian and four Congolese -- inside. The spokesman said further details were not available, "but they will emerge because he is in our custody." Katirima said the accused man described the incident as a crime of opportunity rather than politics: The attackers stole money, clothes and two satellite telephones, he said.
BBC 5 February, 2001, By Caroline Hawley in Cairo A court in southern Egypt has acquitted all but four of nearly 100 people charged with involvement in the country's worst religious violence for decades. Thirty-eight Muslims had faced the death penalty for their role in the clashes, which swept the village of Kosheh, about 440km (275 miles) south of Cairo, just over a year ago. Too many people became involved. It was difficult to know who were the perpetrators and who were the victims Defence lawyer, Abul-Qassim el-Sherif Twenty Christians and one Muslim died after a dispute between a Muslim and Christian over a piece of cloth degenerated into several days of killings and looting. Security forces ringed the court as the judge delivered his verdict in what has been an extremely sensitive case. In the end, however, the harshest sentence was 10 years in jail for just one man, convicted of accidental homicide and illegal possession of a weapon. Many had expected lenient verdicts on the grounds that the police had not prepared a proper case against the suspects. 'Justice not done' But the ruling will leave many in the Christian community angry. Although 20 Christians died, no-one has been found guilty of their murder. A local priest told the BBC that justice had not been done. He said that security forces who had stood by while Christians were being killed had then protected the killers from punishment. A Western diplomat who has been following the case closely also expressed surprise at the outcome. He said it was not clear whether incompetence or a cover-up was to blame.
Independent (South Africa) 11 May 2001 [full text] Mass murder trial to go on for 3 more years The trial of leaders and civilians charged with crimes against humanity during a 17-year military regime is set to continue for at least another three years, a government newspaper said on Friday. Addis Zemen said special prosecutor Ghirma Wakjira told parliament on Thursday in a progress report on the six- and-half-year trial that so far, 11 defendants have been convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to death, 453 others were convicted on other charges and sentenced to between one year and life in prison and 274 have been acquitted. The trial of the remaining 443 defendants continues. Ghirma said his office has completed 98 percent of its investigations. Completed 98% of its investigations The crimes were allegedy committed during a two-year period in the late 1970s called the "red terror" when the military regime of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam was consolidating its power after ousting Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974. Mengistu was ousted in May 1991 when rebels led by the Tigray People's Liberation Front captured Addis Ababa. Mengistu fled to exile in Zimbabwe where he remains. When the trial opened in December 1994, the first to be tried were the 46 members of the ruling military council known as the "derg." Seventeen of them, including Mengistu, were tried in absentia, and 11 of them were sentenced to death. Six of those charged died in prison. The three-judge tribunal has so far heard testimony from more than 700 witnesses. The prosecution charges that the defendants were involved in the torture and execution of scores of members of Haile Selassie's government as well as of student activists who opposed the military government. Testimony from more than 700 witnesses On Thursday, Topia, a private Amharic-language weekly, reported that 10 senior officials in the Mengistu government had been released from prison where they had been held for 10 years without charge. The officials, who include Major-General Alemayehu Agonafir, former Air Force chief, were arrested shortly after Mengistu was ousted, but no charges were ever filed against them. - Sapa-AP
Independent (South Africa) 8 May 2001 [full text] An Ethiopian court trying thousands of people for widespread terror and murder under the regime of ousted dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam has sentenced 222 to prison in the past six months, the official press reported. The sixth criminal chamber of Ethiopia's federal high court also acquitted 122 defendants from the so-called "Red Terror" period of the late 1970s, the reports said late on Monday, quoting judicial sources. The trials were part of a series that began in 1994 of high-ranking officials in Mengistu's Marxist regime, in particular between late 1976 and 1978, when tens of thousands of Ethiopians were killed or abducted. The verdicts were passed between early November and the end of April, with the 222 prison sentences ranging from two years to life. The 122 acquittals were awarded for lack of evidence, the court said. Early this month a human rights group called for stiffer sentences against the defendants, who were tried on torture and murder charges. The trials have been stepped up in recent months in response to criticism over the court's slow rate of progress. The court has a caseload of 5 198 former soldiers and officials of the Mengistu regime, of whom 2 200 are in detention. Colonel Mexhangistu, for his part, has been living in exile in Zimbabwe since May 1991. He is being tried in absentia. - Sapa-AFP
Addis Tribune 11 May 2001 [full text] Arrested Opposition Party Members Reach 140 Opposition parities say government security forces have continued arresting their members and their whereabouts are not yet known. Foreign Affairs Head with the Ethiopians' Democratic Party (EDP), Ato Isaac Kifle told Addis Tribune that the number of EDP members rounded up until Tuesday (May 8, 2001) has reached 110. He said all of them were held incommunicado, and the effort by the International Committee for Red Cross (ICRC) to provide medicine and other essential materials has not been supported by the government. Issac said families and relatives are now in a serious problem as most of those detained were bread winners of their families. Only one member of EDP was released after he had been obliged to admit guilt as he could not resist the trauma at the prison camp, Isaac said, and expressed his concern on the condition of the prisoners. He said many feared those arrested were being tortured. The All Amhara People's Organization (AAPO) meanwhile said in a statement that 30 of its members had been rounded up until last Friday (May 4, 2001). Most of those arrested were contenders in the council and kebele elections, according to AAPO, and called on the unconditional release of its members and university students. Government security forces have rounded up opposition party members following the riot and looting on April 18, 2001. The Government alleged that opposition party members took part in the riot while the parties denied the allegation saying that it was simply a pretext to suppress the opposition.
IRIN 30 May 2001 Two prominent human rights activists have been charged with attempting to change the "constitutional order" of Ethiopia by force, the pro-government Walta Information Centre has reported. Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, former head of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council (EHRCO), and Dr Berhanu Nega, head of the non-governmental Ethiopian Economic Association, were also charged with being members of an unlawful clandestine organisation, Walta said. The two academics have been detained since 8 May in connection with April's student unrest in Addis Ababa. They are accused of making "inflammatory remarks", aimed at dividing students along ethnic lines during a lecture at Addis Ababa University, and inciting them to riot. Both men pleaded "not guilty" to the charges. The Federal High Court has been adjourned until 1 June to consider the defendants' applications for bail.
The Nation (Nairobi) May 3, 2001 by Njeri Rugene Cabinet Minister Nicholas Biwott said yesterday that he wanted to know exactly who killed former Foreign Minister Robert Ouko. Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Mr Biwott said he had been "the most harmed" in the unsolved murder of Dr Ouko - and had been subjected to injustice by being associated with the minister's death. The Tourism, Trade and Industry Minister challenged anybody with evidence of his involvement to speak out now. "I personally would want to know who killed Dr Ouko. I have been more harmed by this injustice. Anybody who knows that Biwott killed Ouko should come out and say so," the minister said amidst shouts from the Opposition. His brief speech gave Government MPs the cue to reject a motion calling for a Kenya Truth and Reconciliation Commission. "If there is anything that is against Biwott, it should come out in the open," the minister said, as Opposition MPs shouted, "Then support the motion! Support reconciliation!" The motion by Mr Oloo Aringo (Alego Usonga-NDP) sought the permission of Parliament to introduce The Promotion of National Unity and Reconciliation Bill to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission, he proposed, should investigate the causes and effects of political and ethnic violence, and the gross violation of human rights in Kenya since 1966. The MP also wanted the commission to recommend just and permanent solutions that would promote and enhance peace, national unity and reconciliation. Seconding the motion, Mr Wanyiri Kihoro (Nyeri Town DP) said ethnic clashes had been turned on and off by merchants of violence and domination. Mr Kihoro, a former detainee, said reconciliation and healing would be achieved only once those who had committed political and economic crimes against Kenyans voluntarily sought forgiveness. However, Kanu - led by ministers Biwott, Bonaya Godana, Julius Sunkuli and Vice President George Saitoti - the only Government MPs who contributed to the debate Ð rejected the motion. Assistant local government minister Jembe Mwakalu abstained. The motion was lost 34-64. Kanu MP Jimmy Angwenyi (Kitutu Chache) protested that the temporary Deputy Speaker, Mr Gitobu Imanyara, had ignored Kanu back-benchers in favour of ministers. Mr Imanyara replied that he was following Standing Orders. In his speech against the commission, Mr Biwott said he valued and advocated justice for all: "because I would not want to see anyone arrested and put in even for one night because that is one of the worst experiences." Mr Biwott dismissed the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as irrelevant, however, saying it was borrowed from South Africa where the situation was different to Kenya. Although he agreed with the spirit of the motion, its context was misplaced, he said. Kenya, he argued, had well-placed institutions and mechanisms to effect justice... Responding to the motion on behalf of the Government, Mr Sunkuli said the findings of the Akiwumi Commission that looked into the causes of ethnic clashes would soon be released. Without giving the release date, the minister said the Government was still studying the report. He caused an uproar when he described the National Council of Churches of Kenya as "a fully owned subsidiary of the Opposition, whose 80 per cent shares belong to the Opposition and 20 per cent to foreigners". "That is why efforts to bring peace and reconciliation will not succeed because the Church and media institutions which are aligned to the Opposition already have a ready-made list of wrong-doers." He said committees instituted by Parliament had never succeeded because they were biased against certain individuals and were used to attack political rivals and witch hunt. He gave the example of the 1992 Kiliku select committee that looked into tribal clashes and the Select Committee on Anti-Corruption, chaired by Ford Kenyan's Musikari Kombo. The Kilgoris MP dismissed the suggestion of a commission and amnesty as very simplistic. According to the minister, it did not pay to dwell on the past. He asked Mr Aringo, whom he described as "an original thinker", to revert to his original thinking and stop copying other countries. Mr Sunkuli accused some Opposition MPs of making political capital out of the ethnic clashes which, he said, should be approached with much sensitivity and caution. Leaders should look for the root causes of the clashes and find solutions, instead of laying blame on each other. He commended Kisii MPs for seeking a solution to the clashes on the Kisii-Trans Mara border. Mr Sunkuli got into trouble with some MPs from Central when he dismissed their recent meeting in Meru as "tribal, that aimed at Balkanising the country". ... Mr James Orengo (Ugenya, Ford Kenya) told the Kanu MPs to examine their consciences before rejecting the motion, and think about where the nation was headed. Mr Orengo said some people in the Government and what he called the Rift Valley Mafia, were afraid of a truth commission because they thought they would be exposed for the crimes they had committed against Kenyans. He said efforts for such a tribunal would not succeed because the same mafia that rejected the Kiliku Report was still in Parliament. "We also cannot have reconciliation when a Government which was involved in the killing of its minister is still in power. But we shall catch up with you soon, because Kenyans are for reconciliation," Mr Orengo said. Prof Saitoti said although the motion contained some fundamental issues like the intent to have national reconciliation and unity, it was not appropriate for Kenya which has been able to forge national unity. Prof Saitoti, the Leader of Government Business, also traced the animosity to the emergence of the multi-party state, saying it created "tension and formation of tribal parties". Mr Joseph Munyao (nominated, DP) told MPs to vote with their consciences for the motion cautioning them that they were doing it for posterity. Foreign Minister Bonaya Godana dismissed the motion saying there was "a growing tendency among Opposition politicians in sub-Saharan Africa" to ape institutions and mechanisms in foreign countries". He described Mr Aringo's motion as "an affront to the dignity of Parliament." Mr Odongo Omamo (Muhoroni, NDP) said the motion was about the leaders' conscience. However, Mr Omamo cautioned that the process could be counter-productive "since it may generate hatred because Kenyans are inward looking."
AP 7 May 2001 [full text] Senegalese judge Laity Kama, the first president of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, has died. He was 62. Kama died Sunday at the Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi where he was undergoing treatment for heart problems, U.N. officials said Monday. The U.N. flag flying outside the court in Arusha, Tanzania was lowered to half-staff Monday at the court – charged by the U.N. Security Council with prosecuting those responsible for 1994 Rwandan genocide in which more than 500,000 people perished. Kama was born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1939, and began his career as a magistrate in 1969. For 15 years he was assistant public prosecutor at the Court of Appeal in Dakar and in 1992 was appointed first assistant public prosecutor at the Supreme Court of Appeal. As an expert, he represented Africa in the working group on arbitrary detention established by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. He was a member of the Senegalese delegation to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva from 1983 to 1990 and a member of the advisory board to the International Human Rights Education and Monitoring Training Program at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota since 1999. Kama, the father of four children, presided over the trial of Jean Paul Akayesu, the first person to be found guilty by the tribunal of the crime of genocide. He also presided over the guilty plea to genocide by former Rwanda Prime Minister, Jean Kambanda. The current president of the tribunal, Navinathem Pillay, said she had visited Kama on Friday and Saturday and that he appeared to be recovering, but that his condition worsened Saturday night. "He was a great man of quality," said Pillay, who took over the presidency from the Kama in 1999. Kama served four years as the tribunal's president and continued to conduct trials until he fell ill in April. Kama's body will be flown to Dakar for burial on Wednesday after a memorial service Tuesday in Arusha, U.N. officials said.
The Nation (Nairobi) EDITORIAL May 13, 2001 [full text] The climate of political intolerance, intransigence and violence that threatened the country's peace and stability in the early to mid-1990s is fast clouding the environment. Already, parts of Rift Valley, North Eastern, Nyanza, Eastern and Coast provinces are embroiled in some form of ethnic skirmish that has left a number of people dead, families displaced and property destroyed. Rather than respond to these incidents in a sober and mature manner, leaders of the affected ethnic communities have resorted to sabre-rattling. They behave as if they are unaware of the blood-letting that was visited on thousands of innocent Kenyans as a result of incitement by self-seeking leaders. For its part, the Government's security machinery has, as was the case in the days of ethnic clashes, failed to respond to these incidents with alacrity. Policemen have visisted the scene only days after the attacks, giving the impression of partiality. Rarely are those arrested and prosecuted. As if that is not bad enough, the political hierarchy is again warning of draconian measures to curtail free speech - moves reminiscent of the single-party dictatorship of the pre-1991 era. True, stakes are high, especially given the confluence of the Constitution reform process, the 2002 General Election and President Moi's departure from State House. And, as usually happens, leaders, including MPs, tend to heighten their level of campaigning to fever pitch. Some will so push the boundaries of the law as to risk prosecution. Nothing strange about all this. It has happened in the run-up to previous general elections. What disturb are the extra-legal measures the Government taking to curtail what it deems offensive utterances. We see no need for such panic measures. Rather than throw a blanket of fear onto whole communities and groups, the Government would be well advised to apply the law in a manner in keeping with with a multi-party system. The sobriety and maturity demanded of political leaders must transcend all levels -right from village elders to the cabinet. Kenyans must never again allow the country to backslide to the deadly cocktail of dictatorial practices and ethnic strife of yesteryear.
IRIN 28 May 2001 US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Saturday urged Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi to step aside next year, when his term of office finishes under the constitution, and to let a new president be elected, the 'New York Times' reported. President Moi sidestepped direct questions as to whether he would stand again, saying that the destiny of Kenya was in the hands of the people themselves. While Moi was constitutionally barred from standing again, some of his supporters have been urging him to change the system and run again and Powell suggested he could leave s positive legacy by stepping aside to leave a new generation to guide the country, the 'Times' added. Powell also called on the Kenyan government to reform the economy and act firmly on corruption in order to re-establish ties with the World Bank and the IMF.
IRIN 1 May 2001 [full text] The Liberian government has launched a week-long media campaign entitled "Say No To Sanctions," in a bid to pressure the UN not to impose sanctions against it next week. The campaign intends to "sensitise and mobilise local and international public opinion against the negative impact of UN sanctions, arms embargo and dissident attacks on Lofa County," a ministry of information news release said on Sunday. It aims to produce a petition, signed by one million people, raising objections to the pending sanctions, which will be delivered to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Monday 7 May. The UNSC voted unanimously on 7 March to impose sanctions on Liberia in response to evidence of its involvement in arms and diamond trafficking with Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels in Sierra Leone. The UNSC also reconfirmed an arms embargo imposed on Liberia since 1992, during the civil war. Sanctions, which will take effect on Monday unless the Liberian government has proved it has stopped supporting the RUF, include a travel ban by government and military officials and a 12-month ban on diamond imports from Liberia.
AFP 4 May 2001 [full text] Some 10,000 people have fled to Sierra Leone in the last two weeks following fighting in northern Liberia, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said Friday. Of these, about 400, all Liberian nationals, have officially sought asylum, the UNHCR said in a statement. The refugees fled after clashes between government troops and forces opposed to the regime of President Charles Taylor in Liberia's northern Lofa County. They have poured into the eastern town of Daru, about 270 kilometres (165 miles) from the Sierra Leone capital Freetown, the UNHCR statement said. About 9,000 of the refugees are Liberians and the rest Sierra Leonean nationals, it added. According to the UN agency, some of the refugees said they would like to be transferred to safer areas within Sierra Leone. The UNHCR and humanitarian bodies were planning to shift them further south. The UNHCR forecast "an unprecedented upsurge of Liberian refugees into Sierra Leone if fighting in Liberia continues." Charles Taylor's government recently accused a Sierra Leonean civilian militia of fighting alongside rebels in Lofa County. Freetown accuses Taylor of arming and aiding Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebel group in return for so-called "blood diamonds." The RUF is control of much of Sierra Leone's diamond-rich north and east.
The Guardian (Lagos) 1 May 2001 by Oghogho Obayuwana [full text] The United States warned yesterday that the remarks of Libyan Leader Muamma Gaddafi at the close of the just ended AIDS summit in Abuja could distract the international community from undertaking "the many measures needed to contain the crisis". Gadaffi had, during his vote of thanks, alleged that the dreaded disease was manufactured by the Americans to destroy Africans. But the Public Affairs Section (PAS) of the U.S. embassy in Abuja said yesterday that Gadaffi "misused" the opportunity to make "spurious claim" about the origin of AIDS. This development, the PAS explanatory note said, was capable of diverting focus from what it called the "real needs" of African nations -- prevention, treatment and care. The U.S. also maintained that it wasn't true that U.S. Pharmaceutical industry was withholding new drugs on AIDS from the market. President Olusegun Obasanjo, in his summary, noted that the summit produced a "very useful dialogue", saying that "we have reached the end of uncertainty and we are clear on the way to go forward". P.A.S. stressed yesterday that the summit was a success as it brought together African leaders and their international partners. It further said the first gathering by continental leadership represented a milestone in coming to terms with the phenomenon since corporate and non-governmental organisations, faith-based and youth representatives all participated in a manner indicating that concerted efforts to fight the scourge has hit an all time high.
BBC 3 May 2001 [full text] The oil company Royal Dutch Shell says that 14 of its abandoned oil wells in Nigeria could blow up without warning. The company made the announcement after investigations into an oil spill in Ogoniland in southern Nigeria showed that one of the wells was leaking. We withdrew from Ogoni without being allowed to carry out proper evacuation procedures Company spokesman Donald Boham Company spokesman Donald Boham said that the wells are "potential time bombs". Shell was forced to abandon production in Ogoniland in 1993 as a result of the campaign by the writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, who accused it of responsibility for widespread pollution. The company says that only two wells were properly sealed. Ensuring safety Mr Boham now says that the remaining 14 must be sealed with cement and other materials before disaster strikes. He said that there is a danger that leaking gas combined with the oil could create an inferno. Oil fires have been a major problem in Nigeria. Most Ogonis are extremely suspicious of Shell. The company is accused of causing serious environmental damage in the area. But Mr Boham said: "The need to secure these wells and other facilities, and to clean up spills which occurred in our absence, has been the subject of dialogue with the people of Ogoni." The spill that Shell is investigating in the Yula oilfield was first reported on Sunday. Shell officials told the BBC that initial evidence suggests it may have been the result of sabotage, but Ogoni activists have released a statement saying they are shocked by such suggestions. They say that oil is still flowing out at the point of the spill and that there is a risk of fire in the area.
Friday, 11 May, 2001, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK are much feared By Sam Olukoya in Lagos Posters bearing the inscription "The police is your friend" are displayed on the walls of police stations in Nigeria. But for many Nigerians, the police are a foe and not a friend. A lot of these mobile policemen still have the military hangover Police spokesman This applies especially to the mobile police, a paramilitary arm of the Nigerian police. On the streets of major Nigerian cities, mobile policemen cut a larger than life image. Their trademarks are an automatic rifle, a horse whip, boy's cap or beret, black shirt over khaki trousers and canvas boots. And unfortunately they have the reputation of being poorly educated, poorly trained and trigger happy. Kill and go Nigerians have given them the nickname "kill and go" for their tendency to gun down innocent people and walk away. Of late, the country has witnessed an increase in the killing and maiming of innocent people by the mobile police. The police are trying to clean up their act ... One significant step is an order by the Inspector General of Police, Musiliu Smith, that mobile policemen nationwide be retrained in the use of firearms. Another step is the introduction of the use of rubber bullets to quell riots. Police spokesman Haz Iwendi says this is to prevent the frequent loss of lives during riots. The mobile police who are generally sent out to quell riots do so with live bullets rather than rubber ones. The weapon in the hands of the mobile policeman may also change. Police Affairs Minister Stephen Akiga says the police could soon phase out the use of sub-machine guns in an attempt to stop cases of accidental discharge of bullets. Just how many deaths result from accidental discharge from police guns is unclear, but most deaths caused by police are suspected to be the result of deliberate shootings. "There are hundreds of tales of killings attributed to the police," says Olusegun Adeniyi, a columnist with This Day newspaper of Lagos. A Lagos based news magazine says that last year, as many as 387 people were killed by the police in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital. The victims are often branded armed robbers. Mr Iwendi attributed the spate of police atrocities to long years of military rule feels an end to these atrocities is in sight with Nigeria's return to civil rule. "A lot of these mobile policemen still have the military hangover and I assure you that the present administration will inculcate the spirit and virtues of democracy in men and officers of the police force," he says. Nigerians say they are keeping their fingers crossed.
Panafrican News Agency (Dakar) May 12, 2001 Kigali, Rwanda Five suspected perpetrators of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda have been acquitted by the public in Gashonga and Butarama districts of the southwest Cyangugu province. Rwanda's Minister of Justice, Jean de Dieu Mucyo, announced Saturday in Kigali that the suspects were found innocent. They were among 42 detainees at the central prison of Cyangugu. All suspects were taken to the area where they allegedly took part in the genocide and shown to the public who could testify in favour or against them. "The 42 detainees were introduced to the public and the people who remebered how they behaved during the 1994 genocide came forward and testified about their guilt or innocence," the minister told PANA. All of the country's prosecutors and local authorities were present at the gathering. In the beginning, according to Radio Rwanda, the population was reluctant to testify against their kinsfolk who were involved in the genocide. But the authorities, including the justice minister, warned the residents not to defend relatives if they really took part in the genocide. They also warned them against making baseless accusations.... Of the 335 genocide suspects presented to the public in Cyangugu province so far, only 67 were pronounced innocent, the province's prosecutor, Emmanuel Mukunzi, told PANA. Since the start of the trials in Rwanda in December 1996, more than 3,000 genocide suspects have been tried. Over 500 have been sentenced to death and 22 of the convicts were publicly executed in April 1998.
BBC 26 May 2001 A court in Rwanda is reported to have sentenced 10 people to death and 23 more to life imprisonment for leading the 1994 genocide in which around half a million people died. The state run radio said the court in Gisenyi, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of the capital Kigali, had found them guilty of organizing the militias that carried out the killings of Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus. The radio said that a former member of parliament under the last extremist Hutu government, Wellars Benzi, was among those sentenced to death. Mr Benzi was accused of of inciting Hutus to kill Tutsis through articles published in the Kangura newspaper.
AP 26 May 2001 A Rwandan court has sentenced 10 people to death and jailed 23 for life for taking part in the country's 1994 genocide, judicial sources have said. The 33 ethnic Hutus were found guilty of killing minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus and pillaging their property in northwest Gisenyi province near the border with the Congo, the sources said. Following Friday's sentencing, they have 15 days in which to lodge an appeal against the court's decision. The 100-day massacre of 800,000 people by Hutu extremist Interahamwe militia and Rwandan troops ended only when a Tutsi-dominated Rwandan rebel force based in neighbouring Uganda won a four-year civil war and overthrew the Kigali government. Among those sentenced to death on Friday was Wellars Banzi, a prominent Hutu militant active in the late 1950s and 1960s under the country's first president, Gregoire Kayibanda, a Hutu. Banzi also served as a member of parliament and was once president of the extremist ruling MRND party, the National Revolutionary Movement of Rwanda. The MRND and other Hutu extremist parties, advocates of an ethnic supremacist ideology known as Hutu power, have been widely blamed by historians for engineering the 1994 genocide.
IRIN 31 May 2001 Former Rwandan president Pasteur Bizimungu's bid to announce a new party, the Democratic Party for Renewal (PDR), was quashed on Wednesday when security personnel broke up a press conference he had organised at his residence and subsequently put him under house arrest. Bizimungu told the BBC Kinyarwanda service that since the law of the country did not allow membership of two parties, he had wanted to officially inform the government and other officials about the new party. He said under "normal circumstances" they would have launched the party on Friday. "However, as I can see what is happening, it may not be possible. Right now if they had not prevented me from leaving my house, we would have signed invitation cards for people," he told the BBC on Wednesday. Bizimungu narrated how an intelligence officer came to find him as he was having lunch with the Belgian ambassador. He named the PDR's vice-president as Charles Ntakirutinka, a former minister. "The list is long. As you know, we should be at least 30 to be able to create a party," he said. "The [ruling] Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) as it is currently cannot lead us to the objectives we had set up. In the RPF, words are not matched with actions," Bizimungu said. "That is why we decided to get out of it so that we can achieve the objectives of democracy and unity of Rwandans."
IRIN 31 May 2001 Three men accused of killing former Rwandan interior minister Seth Sendashonga were set free on Thursday by a Kenyan court, which blamed the Rwandan government for the murder, the Internews press service reported. The High Court Judge, Msagha Mbogholi, ruled that Sendashonga's murder was political. He said the suspects - David Akiki Kiwanuka, Charles Muhanji Wamuthoni and Christopher Lubanga Mulondo - were not at the scene where Sendashonga and his driver were murdered in Nairobi's Parklands suburb on 16 May 1998. The judge said the Kenyan government had failed to prove that the three, who have been in custody since May 1998, murdered the former minister and his driver, Jean Bosco Nkurubukeye. "The late Sendashonga fell out with the Rwandan authorities and resigned as a minister. He must have known a lot about the system. He was set to testify in the French tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha. His elimination was therefore imminent," Judge Mbogholi said. He added that the Kenyan police did not carry out proper investigations because the Rwandan government failed to waive the diplomatic immunity of suspects at their embassy in Kenya to facilitate prosecution.
IRIN 11 May 2001 The UNHCR reported that as at 3 May, 71,231 Sierra Leoneans had returned home from Guinea where they fled fighting between government forces and insurgents, and hostility from some host communities, OCHA said in its Humanitarian Situation Report for 20 April to 8 May. The returnees began arriving, mostly by boat, since September 2000. However, UNHCR reports that while boat arrivals from Conakry to Freetown, had declined those returning on foot had increased. UNHCR reported that overall 24,434 had walked from Guinea to the Sierra Leonean towns of Kenema, Lungi and Kabala. "The unanticipated high number of foot returnees is posing problems of absorption capacity in the camps which need to be speedily expanded due to the current rainy season," OCHA reported. It added that during April over 10,000 spontaneous returnees arrived in Daru and Kenema, in eastern Sierra Leone. Returnees are placed in transit centres until they can be relocated to other communities. However, OCHA reported, some returnees "continue to insist" on staying at the transit centres until their areas of origin are safe. "This poses a risk, as the transit centres may turn into de facto IDP camps," OCHA reported. A few Sierra Leoneans have also been fleeing fighting in northern Liberia. Some 310 refugees who escaped into Jendema, Pujehun District were sent to the Gofor IDP camp in Kenema on transport provided by the Lutheran World Federation, OCHA reported. However, Sierra Leoneans in two refugee camps in Sinje, western Liberia, said they were not keen to return home because UNAMSIL was not fully deployed and the RUF had not disarmed
Mail & Guardian 11 May 2001 The African National Congress interim leadership in the Northern Province is facing the daunting challenge of rooting out ethnic tensions among the members of the party ... Several ANC leaders are accused of inciting ethnicity in their constituencies, resulting in the rise of ethnic consciousness in the ANC. ... The Northern Province is made up of three former homelands — Lebowa, Venda and Gazankulu —where ethnic groups were separated in terms of the apartheid homeland policy from the mid-Sixties. Said an ANC leader: “The whole ethnicity problem has demobilised the branches. Branches are no longer engaged in social programmes aimed at uplifting their communities and discussing policy issues.” ANC interim leadership coordinator Pitsi Moloto said it was not the party’s tradition to deal with issues along tribal and ethnic lines. He confirmed that the leadership wrangle, which had rendered the executive committee dysfunctional, centred on tribal and ethnic tensions. But, he said, his team “is not concerned about who was fighting whom or how Shangaans and Sothos were fighting”.
ICRC 9 May 2001 An ICRC aircraft was fired on today midway between Lokichokio, Kenya, and Juba, in southern Sudan. The co-pilot, a Danish national, was killed. The attack occurred when the aircraft was climbing back to its assigned altitude after a technical problem had forced it to descend briefly to 6,500 feet (2,000 metres). The captain, also a Dane, heard what sounded like "explosions" and realized that his co-pilot had been hit. He turned back to Lokichokio but the co-pilot was dead on arrival. According to the Kenyan police, who inspected the aircraft, bullet damage was visible around the cabin. There were no passengers on the flight, which was on a routine mission and had received all necessary authorizations from all the parties on the ground. The ICRC gives prior notice of all such flights. At present, the organization is attempting to clarify the circumstances of this incident. It has decided to suspend all its flights to southern Sudan. This attack occurred less than two weeks after the murder of six ICRC staff in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It constitutes another blow to the ICRC and to humanitarian action. It is important to emphasize, however, that what happened today was profoundly different from what occurred in the Congo.
ICRC 21 May 2001 From today, 21 May 2001, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) will resume its flights, which were suspended on 9 May following a grave security incident in which an ICRC aircraft came under fire and the Danish co-pilot, Ole Friis Eriksen, was killed. The decision to resume flights was based on information indicating that this event was the result of a tragic combination of circumstances and was not a premeditated attack, nor was the ICRC deliberately targeted. The plane had been forced by a pressurization problem to descend to an altitude of 2,500 metres over the Didinga Hills, an area with plateaux and peaks culminating at over 2,500 metres. The aircraft was therefore quite near the ground, and was preparing to regain altitude when it came under fire. The region is known to harbour several armed groups belonging to various movements. The bullet holes found in the cabin appear to have been made by a light automatic weapon. From now on ICRC flights will be subject to more specific security directives, relating in particular to the zones overflown and the minimum altitude to be maintained. It should be mentioned that ICRC aircraft have been overflying this area for several years and that all parties involved in the conflict are kept fully informed. The ICRC is pursuing its contacts with the parties concerned in order to elucidate the exact circumstances of the tragedy.
AFP 8 May 2001 [full text] An international seminar on conflict prevention in Africa opened here Tuesday with host Benjamin Mkapa, the Tanzanian president, questioning the continent's commitment to peace. "There is not much evidence yet that Africa is about to irrevocably turn its back on violence and conflict," Mkapa said at the meeting, which brings together top military brass and politicians from 15 African states and a score of partners from developed countries. "We clearly face the urgent need to address conflicts on the African continent, to create frameworks and pillars for peace and stability," Mkapa said in a keynote speech. Many African countries are currently in the throes of war, including Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia in the west, while further east the civil conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has sucked in troops from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola. Burundi and Angola have their own civil wars, as do Sudan and Somalia. Mkapa noted that at least half of all the wars in the world were being fought on African soil, which is home to 10 percent of the global population. "Unfortunately, we still have people and governments in Africa that believe their personal interests can only be promoted and safeguarded through military might and conquest," lamented Mkapa. The project to Reinforce African Peacekeeping Capacities (RECAMP), a French initiative, offers a multinational, voluntary forum for states across the continent wishing to work together, in partnership with Western donors, to end conflicts and minimise their humanitarian impact on civilians. The Tanzanian president noted that post-independence conflicts in Africa have killed an estimated eight million people including two million children. "According to UNICEF (UN Children's Fund), another four to five million children have been disabled, 12 million rendered homeless and more than a million orphaned or separated from their families, while tens of thousands have become child soldiers," he said. The African states taking part in the seminar are Angola, Botswana, the DRC, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. RECAMP is seen as complementary to the US African Crisis Response Inititiave, a bilateral programme under which the United States trains and equips troops from selected countries on the continent with the intention of making them better peacekeepers. US officials are taking part in the RECAMP seminar in Tanzania. RECAMP seminars were held in recent years in Senegal and Gabon; "Tanzanite 2000-2002 RECAMP-3" marks the first application of the initiative outside of France's traditional sphere of influence in Africa. Participants in the seminar will spend the week working on a fictional conflict scenario and on the steps that would lead to the deployment of a multinational African force mandated by the United Nations. In the war game set out in Dar es Salaam, the east of a country called Mauve has been taken over by rebels. The conflict spills over into the north of neighbouring Blue, pushing with it a wave of refugees. Blue calls for an inter-African force to be set up and deployed under the auspices of the Organisation of African Unity. Delegates will end their week of role-playing by adopting a UN resolution that will serve as the green light for the next phase of the RECAMP exercise: setting up a military headquarters and conducting military manoeuvres. Donor states -- whose role would be to provide logistical support and expertise -- taking part in RECAMP-3 include the United States and Britain as well as Australia, Argentina, Russia, Japan and China.
BBC 15 May 2001 [full text] Rwanda tribunal 'racism' row A leaked letter reveals why seven prosecutors at the UN tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha have controversially not been reappointed. The letter obtained by journalists, written by chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, was a response to a complaint made by the seven lawyers to the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The six African and one Indian lawyer attributed Ms Del Ponte's decision not to renew their contracts beyond May to racism. Rebuffing the charge, Ms Del Ponte said the lawyers were not suited as prosecutors. Her letter, obtained by the AP news agency, said the lawyers' complaint to the secretary-general reinforced her decision about their professionalism. Criticism "The memorandum is symptomatic of professional incompetence of each of the signatories... instead of directing their energy toward the ends of international justice, they are absorbed in their own narrow self-interest," the letter said. Carla Del Ponte: Difficult relations with Rwanda A spokesman for the tribunal in Arusha would not comment on the letter or the accusations. Carla Del Ponte, a Swiss, oversees the Rwanda tribunal and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. She was appointed in 1999. The Rwandan Government has criticised the Rwanda tribunal in the past for their slow work rate. Very few genocide suspects have been successfully prosecuted since it was set up. More than 750,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the genocide.
BBC 20 May 2001 The UN war crimes tribunal for Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania, has arrested one of its own investigators on charges of genocide. Simeon Nshamihigo was identified by a witness at the court as having been implicated in the 1994 mass murder of Tutsis and moderate Hutus by Hutu extremists. It is the first time someone on the tribunal's payroll has come under suspicion. His name appeared on the Rwanda Government's list of the most wanted genocide suspects. Mr Nshamihigo was detained on the tribunal premises by security staff on Saturday. Tribunal officials said he had been working as part of the defence team of former Rwandan military commander Samuel Imanishimwe, who operated in the southern Cyangugu region at the time of the genocide. They also said he had been using a false name and travelling under a passport from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr Imanishimwe is jointly charged with two other former senior Rwandan officials for genocide and crimes against humanity. He is awaiting trial in Arusha. The arrest comes after the Rwandan Government in March complained that some investigators working for defence teams at the International Criminal Tribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda were genocide fugitives. Massacres The ICTR maintains that it screens defence investigators, who are hired under contract by defence lawyers. It says security screening considers but does not depend on the Rwandan government's list of suspects. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by the army and Hutu militias as violence swept through Rwanda in 1994. Some two million Hutus fled to DR Congo. They included some of those responsible for the massacres, and some joined Zairean forces to attack local Tutsis.
BBC 22 May 2001 Rwanda wants more genocide prosecutions Rwanda has asked the United Nations war crimes tribunal in Tanzania to arrest five members of the tribunal's staff, whom it suspects of involvement in the 1994 genocide. Justice minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo told the BBC his government wanted the five brought to Rwanda for trial or, failing that put on trial by the international court. The request follows the tribunal's arrest of an investigator at the weekend - the first time a member of its own staff had been implicated in the genocide. The minister said he had already asked Tanzania to extradite the man, Simeon Nshamihigo, who was identified by a witness as having been involved in the mass murder of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
AP 8 May 2001 Reversing an earlier presidential statement [made 30 April 2001], Uganda said it would continue to participate in a peace process designed to end Congo's 21/2-year civil war and keep troops in the central African country. President Yoweri Museveni, angered by a U.N. report that accused his country of participating in the plunder of Congo's natural resources, said late last month Uganda would withdraw from the Lusaka Accords and pull its soldiers out of Congo. The Cabinet, however, has resolved to continue the country's participation in the Congo peace process, Foreign Minister Eria Kategaya said in a statement obtained on Tuesday. Most Ugandan troops will be pulled out of Congo, but some soldiers will remain in a buffer zone along some parts of the border to prevent Ugandan rebel attacks from Congolese territory until Uganda's security is assured, the May 7 statement said. Uganda has promised to pull all of its troops from Congo once there is no longer a threat of rebel attack. On April 16 the United Nations released a report that implicated Uganda and Rwanda in the alleged plundering of Congo's vast resources. Uganda and Rwanda both sent troops into Congo in 1998 to back Congolese rebels seeking to overthrow former President Laurent Kabila. Both countries were also acting to secure their borders from attacks by Rwandan and Ugandan rebels operating from within Congo. Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia sent in troops to support Congo's government.
BBC 2 May 2001 The bishops spoke out against the intimidation of the independent press Roman Catholic bishops in Zimbabwe have issued a sharp rebuke against President Robert Mugabe's government over the level of political violence in the country. Violence, intimidation and threats are the tools of failed politicians. Bishops' letter The pastoral letter did not name Mr Mugabe or the governing Zanu-PF party but accused the holders of power of abusing their fellow human beings. It also criticised militants and self-styled war veterans who have launched a campaign of intimidation against opposition groups and white landowners. The bishops urged the government to uphold the rule of law. "Violence, intimidation and threats are the tools of failed politicians. We must point out to them that they are engaging in an unjust activity," the letter says. Condemnation Referring to the war veterans the bishops say: "It is the duty of government to ensure that the nation is not held to ransom by a few. "We urge the government to allow the law enforcement agents to perform their duties without interference so that there is a sense of security in the country." The bishops say that land reform is a pressing issue left over from the colonial era, but in trying to solve the problem new injustices should not be created. The letter will be distributed to every Catholic church, school and institution in Zimbabwe. Correspondents say the bishops' statement is the harshest by a religious group in Zimbabwe against the government. In the past the church has been accused of not speaking out against the violence and intimidation in Zimbabwe. The BBC correspondent in Zimbabwe says that in a predominantly Christian country the bishops' statement is a significant development.
BBC 30 May 2001 President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has responded angrily to recent criticism of his government by the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, during his recent African tour. Mr Mugabe said that the United States and Britain were leading a campaign to demonize Zimbabwe's role in the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and its human rights record at home. At the same time, he said, these countries were condoning acts of genocide and gross looting by rebels and their allies, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
Reuters May 1, 2001 [full text] Human rights activists and Sudanese expatriates descended on Talisman Energy Inc.'s annual meeting on Tuesday to accuse the Canadian oil company of fueling Sudan's civil war, but Talisman's chief executive said the firm's presence was only improving the situation. Outside the hotel where the meeting took place, about 200 demonstrators beat drums and chanted their opposition to Talisman's (Toronto:TLM.TO - news) involvement in a big south Sudan oil project they say is giving the Islamist government financial muscle to wage war against tribal and Christian people in the southern part of the country. ``Talisman is an accomplice to the genocide of our people in southern Sudan,'' said Albino Allam, chairman of the Federation of Sudanese-Canadian Associations and a Sudanese native who has lived in Canada for seven years. Inside the meeting, Talisman CEO Jim Buckee defended the company's activities to numerous people who took to the microphones in protest, saying he agreed the war was a tragedy but that Talisman was doing all it could to influence the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and promote peace. However, it was not prepared to unload its 25-percent stake in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co., which runs the lucrative 200,000 barrel a day oil concession, he said...There is a huge gulf of perception as to what is happening on Sudan's bare plains, where the oil fields are located. Numerous human rights groups, Amnesty International and Christian Solidarity International among them, report mass displacement of people by the Sudanese military to make way for oil development, and bombing raids on civilians by helicopter gunships that use the oil consortium's airstrips as bases. Talisman has said it has seen no evidence of large numbers of villagers being displaced, and that the army uses the government-owned runways to defend against rebel attacks. It has conceded there were four incidents last year where the military used the airstrips for offensive purposes, but has worked to dissuade them from the practice. Talisman shares closed off 76 Canadian cents at C$61.64 in Toronto on Tuesday. They have traded as high as C$65 and as low as C$43.75 in the past year. ($1 equals $1.53 Canadian)
Reuters 17 May 17 After 12 years of being married to Canadian independent filmmaker Atom Egoyan and appearing in as many of her husband's films, Arsinee Khanjian would like to be described as something more than Egoyan's ``muse.'' Born in Beirut and raised in Montreal in an Armenian family that fled massacres in the First World War and Lebanon's civil war, Khanjian is ready for another revival, closer to her roots in the theater, French culture and Armenian history. COUPLE HAUNTED BY 'THE GENOCIDE' This new phase in Khanjian's professional career coincides with a very personal project that she describes as a lifetime challenge and a mission for her and her husband. In June, she will take part in the shooting of ``Ararat,'' a film the Armenian community has been waiting for a long time. It commemorates what Armenians say was the massacre of up to a million of their people by Turks in the First World War. ``Since Atom started shooting, people were asking him: 'When will you do a film on the genocide?''' ``For years he could not do it, but by sharing our interrogations on identity he developed an emotional, intellectual and political vision on the meaning of history,'' she said, carefully stressing each word in a husky voice. To tell the tragic story of his people without turning it into a classic historic epic, Egoyan decided to show it through the lens of a character shooting a film on the killings. Egoyan's alter ego, acting as the ``spokesman'' for the Armenian community, had to be French singer Charles Aznavour, Khanjian said. ``He represents our pride of being Armenian. No Armenian doesn't know Aznavour.'' ``Ararat'' is also a tribute to Arshile Gorky, an Armenian painter who escaped the killings and sought refuge in the United States in 1920. Khanjian plays a historian who wrote a book on Gorky and who collaborates with Aznavour to incorporate elements of the painter's life in his film. Khanjian usually collaborates on the preparation of her husband's films, but this time she said Egoyan worked solo because the subject was too sensitive. ``I am so afraid to see that polite lack of interest, that fuzziness in the eyes of the public,'' she said, referring to the unwillingness of many people to hear about this difficult and controversial subject. France and a few other countries have officially recognized the incident as a genocide but Turks deny it and the number of those who died is still unknown nearly a century later. Khanjian's grandparents survived and she inherited a very strong sense of justice from this experience, she said, making ''Ararat'' a very personal project and part of her quest to commemorate her ancestors' fate. ``I live the genocide as if it were my own memory,'' she said. ``For my mother, my whole life had to be devoted to this event: Seek the necessary justice and protect the memory of those who have disappeared.
Reuters 14 May 2001 By Elisabeth O'Leary MADRID (Reuters) - A Spanish judge Tuesday ordered the arrest of a former Chilean defense minister who served under dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Baltasar Garzon ordered Hernan Julio Brady Roche to be detained on charges of genocide, terrorism and torture. Garzon -- who tried to extradite Pinochet to Spain from Britain on similar charges in 1998 -- wants to question Brady, 80, over the killing of a Spanish diplomat in 1976, court documents said. Carmelo Soria was working for the United Nations (news - web sites) economic commission CEPAL in Santiago when he was taken hostage, tortured and killed by Chile's secret police, the documents said. Brady, who was defense minister in the mid-1970s, was believed to have played a role in the death of Soria, they said. Chilean police statements attributed the Spaniard's death to drunken driving. Brady is thought to be in Germany, the documents said. Earlier this year Soria's family asked for the case to be reopened in Chile. A previous investigation was shelved under the terms of an amnesty law passed in 1978, during Pinochet's 1973-1990 military regime. Spain's Chief Public Prosecutor Eduardo Fungairino opposed Garzon's order, arguing Spain had no jurisdiction to investigate events in Chile and the case was too long ago, judicial sources said. Fungairino also tried to block Garzon's attempts to try Pinochet in Madrid. The former dictator was arrested in Britain in October 1998 on a warrant put out by Garzon. But Pinochet eventually escaped prosecution in Spain when Britain ruled him mentally unfit for trial. More than 3,000 people died or disappeared in political violence during his rule, according to an official report.
AP 2 May 2001 [full text] Paramilitary fighters branded terrorists this week by the U.S. government are unrepentant about the bloody counterinsurgency campaign they are waging across Colombia. Three weeks after allegedly taking part in what officials are calling one of the most gruesome massacres in memory -- villagers were reportedly mutilated with chain saws -- militia members captured by troops near this Pacific port spoke defiantly about their struggle. "I am proud to be a member of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia," one olive-clad fighter declared to journalists flown to a naval base here Tuesday. The militia member, who declined to give his name, was among 62 alleged paramilitary fighters captured in a weekend operation that Colombia's government says is proof of its resolve against rightist violence that the military has been accused of tolerating. They are part of a larger unit accused in the Easter week massacre of at least 19 villagers -- possibly as many as 40. "Despite the criticism that we get, today once more we can show positive results," President Andres Pastrana said inside an aircraft hangar where the militia members had been displayed. "Today, we are fighting all of those operating outside the law." Pastrana said it was the largest capture ever of fighters from the group known by its Spanish initials, AUC. Colombian marines claimed to have killed another eight fighters as they fled the massacre site by river. Spread at the president's feet as he spoke were items seized from the fighters: assault rifles, grenades, mortar launchers, militia armbands and a chain saw... From less than a thousand in 1992, the AUC is now believed to have at least 8,000 fighters. Led by Carlos Castano, a former army guide whose father was assassinated by guerrillas, the group has killed thousands of suspected leftists and is trying to sabotage peace talks between Pastrana and guerillas. U.S. officials now say the AUC could pose an even greater threat to Colombia's democracy than the leftist rebels.The State Department on Monday included the AUC for the first time in a worldwide list of terrorist organizations. A U.S. spokesman cited a "dramatic increase" in AUC use of terrorist tactics, including kidnappings and the murder of civilians. The list had already included Colombia's two main rebel groups -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish initials, FARC, and the National Liberation Army, or ELN.
Deutsche Presse Agentur 6 May 2001[full text] At least 17 Colombian civilians and rebels were killed in clashes and massacres on Sunday. Local reports said that six farmers were killed by unknown assailants in Cauca province in the south of the country. In the north, right-wing paramilitaries killed four youths. Clashes with government troops also left six rebels of the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces dead in the country's southwest. Also Sunday, the rebels ambushed a police patrol in the Huila district, leaving one civilian dead and eight injured. In the capital Bogota, meanwhile, the secret service arrested a leading member of the right-wing guerrilla group AUC. Dumar Guerrero is accused of having taken part in two 1997 massacres in the Meta district that left 35 people dead.
AP 12 May 2001 By JARED KOTLER In a country fed up with rebel violence and skeptical of peace talks, a hard-line politician is riding a tide of public anger that could carry him into Colombia's presidency. While some label Alvaro Uribe a right-wing extremist, a growing number of Colombians want get-tough policies and see him as their savior. With campaigning already in high gear, his stances on negotiating peace with guerrillas have electrified Colombia's presidential race a full year before the first round of voting. With his wire-rimmed glasses and dull gray business suits - along with a resume that boasts graduate work at Harvard and Oxford - the 48-year-old former governor hardly looks the part of an extremist. But his upstart candidacy is stirring strong emotions and illustrating what some call a rightward shift in Colombia's historically centrist politics. Voters are frustrated that President Andres Pastrana's concessions to the rebels in return for talks have so far failed to stop the violence. Uribe's own father was assassinated by guerrillas, and his rise comes as outlaw paramilitary groups expand a massacre campaign against suspected leftists in the countryside and congress debates ``war legislation'' to give the military broad powers to detain suspected terrorists. Critics cast Uribe as an extremist who would plunge the South American country into wider bloodshed and chip away at its democratic traditions. The rebels have called him the candidate of war.'' However, supporters see in Uribe an experienced and decisive leader - perhaps the only man capable of bringing order to the chaos of an escalating 37-year civil war. ``I'm going to vote for Alvaro Uribe and so are 99 percent of the people who come into my store,'' said Fabio Delgado, the owner of a convenience store in an upscale Bogota neighborhood. ``This country needs discipline, it needs a strong hand.'' The latest Gallup poll, taken in March, gave Uribe 25 percent of the vote, up from just 5 percent in August. The telephone poll of major cities had a 3 percent error margin. Should Uribe's support continue to grow, analysts say he might muscle his way into a second-round runoff even though he lacks the support of Colombia's two main parties. The leading contenders in the race are Noemi Sanin of the Yes Colombia Party, and Horacio Serpa of the Liberal Party. The incumbent, Pastrana, cannot run for re-election because Colombian law limits presidents to a single four-year term. Interviewed Friday during a campaign stop at a Bogota university, Uribe shrugged off his ultraconservative reputation while hitting the law-and-order themes that have earned him support. Calling himself ``a democrat with authority,'' Uribe told The Associated Press he would strengthen Colombia's U.S-backed military and also demand that guerrillas agree to a cease-fire and permit U.N. observers before he would continue the two-year-old peace process. Uribe also backed growing U.S. military aid to fight drugs and criticized Pastrana's peace policies - the strategy pollsters say is the key to his success. He said Pastrana created a ``paradise for criminals'' when he ceded a Switzerland-sized southern territory at the outset of the talks to the country's largest guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Negotiations with the group have borne little fruit. The rebels are accused of using their sanctuary to train fighters, move arms and drugs and harbor kidnap victims. Uribe also defended his controversial term as governor of western Antioquia State from 1995-1997. From the state house in Medellin, Uribe encouraged the formation of village and neighborhood watch groups - some of whom, human rights groups charge, evolved into abusive right-wing paramilitary militias. Uribe says the program was legal and succeeded at cutting crime. If elected, he said he would put 100,000 more police on the streets get citizens to ``cooperate'' more with the security forces. Associates say Uribe's hard-line image has overshadowed more moderate positions on social issues picked up as a maverick member of the social-democratic Liberal Party. Addressing a packed auditorium at the El Rosario University, the candidate wielded a laser pointer and spoke on topics from global warming to rural irrigation. But his success may ultimately hinge on whether there is more war or peace. ``If the peace process succeeds, Alvaro Uribe has little hope of becoming president,'' said Hernan de la Cuesta, Gallup's director in Colombia. ``But if the process continues to falter, his chances look good.''
AFP 14 May 2001 [full text] Fighting between leftist guerillas and Colombian government forces killed 52 people over the weekend, police and military sources said, as the country's fragile peace process continues to unravel. The Colombian army said it killed 44 rebels and captured 20 in fighting over the weekend, while losing three soldiers. In the same period, five farmers were killed, presumably by the rebels, police said. The fighting comes at a time when peace talks have stalled between the government and the two main rebel groups -- the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the National Liberation Army. Meanwhile, right-wing paramilitaries -- the guerrillas' sworn enemies -- have increased their activities. President Andres Pastrana, whose mandate ends in 15 months, has invested most of his political capital in the quest for a peaceful end to the four decades of guerrilla warfare that has ravaged the country. Some 200,000 people already have died in the conflict.
AP 31 May 2001 Leftist guerrillas rampaged through a cluster of villages in northern Colombia over the weekend and killed at least 24 residents, hacking many of them to death with machetes and burning down homes, local officials said Thursday. Officials said the death toll was tentative, and based on accounts from family members of the victims who fled the massacre zone in Corboda state. Cordoba's governor's office and the mayor of Tierralta, the nearest large town, blamed the Sunday and Monday attacks against three nearby villages on the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Villagers said the victims were peasants intercepted by the rebels while out looking for firewood and food in the mountains. The region is also base for cultivating coca, the raw material for cocaine. The FARC, Colombia's largest guerrilla band, is fighting a 37-year war for control over territory dedicated to the lucrative drug crops. Rebels and rightist paramilitary forces have been battling for months in the Tierralta region. Villagers are often caught in the middle, targeted in massacres by one side or the other aiming to punishing them for collaborating with the enemy.
Boston Globe 13 May 2001, By Christine MacDonald, Globe Correspondent, Five years after a peace accord ended more than three decades of civil war, Guatemala is finding it difficult to shed its legacy of violence. In the 17 months since the hard-line Guatemalan Republican Front took power, assassinations, death threats, and attacks have escalated against opposition politicians, indigenous and campesino activists, human rights workers, and members of the country's judiciary, say human rights advocates. Last weekend was particularly violent. Saturday afternoon, an American nun was shot dead as she drove down a street in the capital. One day earlier, two armed men kidnapped a Guatemalan activist and threatened her before dropping her off in outskirts of the city several hours later. Observers say the situation has deteriorated as court cases over the 1998 killing of Roman Catholic Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi and other attacks make their way through the judicial system. The cases have thrown an unwelcome spotlight on a number of former military officers, many of whom continue to wield power in the Central American country. Since last year, a half-dozen attacks have targeted members of the legal team that built a case against three men with military backgrounds and two church workers who were charged in the Catholic prelate's murder. Witnesses and judges have also been attacked, including a judge hearing the Gerardi case. About a week before the trial started in March, her home was damaged by live grenades thrown into her backyard as police officers guarded the front door, according to a report she filed with the Association of Judges and Magistrates. Yolanda Perez Ruiz, the association president, said eight judges have been killed since last fall. ''This is an intolerable attack on the independence of the judiciary,'' Perez said. ''It is a strategy to tie the hands of judges. What worries me the most is that the government hasn't concerned itself to make a clear statement. Not once has it expressed its repudiation of the violence.'' Gerardi presided over a commission investigating massacres of civilians and other war crimes. He was killed in April 1998, three days after releasing a report that blamed the Guatemalan government for 93 percent of the wartime human rights violations. Oscar Chavarria, a lawyer with the Myra Mack Foundation, said his group is seeing ''a reactivation of human rights violations by the state'' since President Alfonso Portillo took power in January 2000. ''We are returning to the past when the heads of state considered us their enemies,'' said Chavarria. The foundation and several groups have published scathing human rights reports in recent months that have attracted the attention of a UN Human Rights ombudsman. He arrived last week for three days of meetings with activists and government officials but has yet to issue recommendations. The government has played down the problem. Ricardo Gatica Trejo, spokesman for Interior Minister Byron Barrientos, a former military intelligence officer, said organized crime is a bigger problem facing law enforcement. ''The violation of human rights in Guatemala is not a serious problem. There are isolated cases carried out by individuals. Nevertheless, the government is making a constant effort to monitor the situation,'' said Gatica. Since the peace accord, the government has downsized the army and made some legal reforms stipulated in the agreement. But it has postponed programs to improve police training and hire more civilian police officers. According to a report released May 3 by the United Nations' Verification Mission, the human rights monitoring body in Guatemala, much remains to be done to reform the national police force. The mission concluded that since the start of 2000, police have become the ''principle responsible parties for the gravest human rights violations.'' Portillo came to power with a mandate to be tough on crime. But less than halfway through a four-year term, he is being widely criticized for being ineffectual in fighting corruption and crime that provide cover for political violence. In Guatemala, as with nearby Nicaragua and El Salvador, the end of civil war has given way to a wave of violent crime by organized bands and street gangs. ''In the war years, one would know where an attack came from. It was either one or the other,'' said Perez, referring to the military and leftist guerrilla forces. ''Today, it is difficult to identify'' attackers. Such is the case of Sister Barbara Ford, a Roman Catholic nun originally from New York who was gunned down May 5 when she left a small town in the Quiche region to buy a water heater. Investigators say it is not clear if she was killed in an attempt to steal her pickup truck, which the killers abandoned two blocks away, or for her work with war victims in a region devastated by the war. Her colleagues say it was a political killing. A memorial service last week in Guatemala City drew hundreds of human rights workers and friends and declarations of outrage from 1992 Nobel Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu. Exacerbating Portillo's political troubles, observers say, is a power struggle within his Guatemalan Republican Front. Portillo has seen his political stock fall dramatically in opinion polls. A chief rival is retired General Efrain Rios Montt, who ruled the country in the early 1980s during the worst period of arbitrary executions, forced disappearances, and torture, according to the Gerardi report. He is the Front's founder and today serves as president of the country's legislature. ''Nobody knows who has the power,'' said Jorge Lavarreda, an analyst with the National Center for Economic Research, an independent think tank. This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 5/13/2001.
AP 24 May 2001 By RICARDO MIRANDA, SAN MARTIN JILOTEPEQUE, Guatemala (AP) - Maria Julia Elias quietly stared at the bones and wondered if this was the end of her 19-year search for her husband, who was taken by soldiers during Guatemala's civil war. The 46-year-old Mayan woman watched along with several others Wednesday as anthropologists concluded a two-month excavation of 21 mass graves, where they recovered the remains of 66 bodies. Elias lost hope long ago of finding Salomon Nutzus alive. She hopes that by finding his remains, she can close a painful chapter in her life. ``I just want to give him a Christian burial,'' said Elias, who plans to travel to Guatemala City to help forensic experts identify the remains. Anthropologists said the victims were killed as part of the army's effort to keep rebel forces from invading the country's capital. ``They arrived to our town in the night and took everyone,'' Elias said. ``I escaped with my seven children, but Salomon was captured.'' The United Nations has described Guatemala's 36-year war between leftist guerrillas and hardline state forces as a genocide against the country's Mayan population. An estimated 200,000 people were killed before peace accords were signed in 1996. Soldiers swept through towns, massacring people to curb support of the largely Indian guerrilla fighters, said Fredy Peccerelli, president of the Forensic Anthropologic Foundation of Guatemala. San Martin Jilotepeque, about 50 miles outside Guatemala City, saw heavy combat. ``The army feared the uniting of a weak urban guerrilla force with fighters from the countryside, that is why San Martin Jilotepeque was so important,'' said Peccerelli, whose group co-sponsored the excavation. The Coordination of Widows and Orphans of Guatemala, which also sponsored the excavations, followed tips from family members and poked through dirt to find the graves. The group is preparing a lawsuit against the army and local commanders who ordered the killings. No one has been charged. The forensic foundation has recovered the remains of 238 bodies from six excavations since January. In 1994, foundation scientists uncovered 111 bodies buried after a 1982 massacre in the highlands city of Rabinal, where 172 people were killed. A year later, 85 bodies were uncovered in a mass grave from another 1982 massacre, in northern Baja Verapaz, where 268 people were killed.
Published Tuesday, May 8, 2001 Activist's death reignites conflict in Nicaragua Murder carries echo of battles between Liberals, Sandinistas BY FRANCES ROBLES firstname.lastname@example.org SIUNA, Nicaragua -- Agustín Mendoza was a farmer, Liberal Party activist, father of the Nicaraguan vice consul in Miami, and a jolly man whose company everyone enjoyed. ``Agustín Mendoza was a true friend of ours,'' said Bernardino Herrera, political secretary of the opposing Sandinista National Liberation Front. ``Be clear: A lot of people loved him.'' Who then left the 67-year-old dead at his farmhouse with his head sliced clean off his body? Mendoza was one of five victims of an April 19 massacre that has stunned Nicaragua because of its particularly brutal nature -- three of the dead were decapitated -- and its political overtones. TOWN'S FURY Much of this town's fury has been directed at the Andrés Castro United Front, or FUAC, former Sandinista soldiers that rob and attack in the name of politics. They are accused of killing opposing party members to keep their followers from the polls, leading the president to vow to scour the mountains until the group is stopped. The murder has reignited the decades-old conflict between the incumbent Liberal Party and leftist Sandinistas, who ruled Nicaragua from 1979 until 1990. Eleven years after the end of a civil war between the Sandinista-ruled government and U.S.-supported rebels -- and six months before a presidential election -- the violence carries the echo of old battles and arouses fears that the political violence that damaged Nicaragua throughout its history has not yet run its course. The focal point now is this town of 82,000 in northeast Nicaragua, still terrified weeks after the one-night burst of violence attributed to the FUAC. In addition to the the five dead, a pair of brothers were kidnapped and their whereabouts remain unknown. The victims were all either ex-contra fighters -- rebel opponents of the former Sandinista government -- or active with the ruling PLC. TENUOUS PEACE If this deeply polarized city is an example, then Nicaragua's tenuous peace is at the brink of falling apart in the countryside, where memories of a hard-fought war are still fresh and bodies keep mounting. ``People are tense,'' said Siuna Mayor Julián Gaitán. ``There are people here who don't like others to have their own ideological thoughts. We are feeling it. Farmers are leaving in fear, abandoning their beans, animals and cows. We're in crisis. Nothing led up to this, just politics.'' Gaitán and other PLC leaders say they count 47 murdered party members in Siuna alone over the past four years, but the worst of it began April 18. That night, a truck-load of armed men pulled up at the home of Paulino and Arturo Peralta Garzón, brothers who fought in the resistance against the then-ruling Sandinista Front. The brothers were calmly led from their hammocks where they lay, allowed to stop inside to don boots and a shirt. With their arms tied behind their backs, they were marched away and last were seen in the same condition in a nearby town. There have been no demands for ransom, nor any corpses. Eight hours after the Peralta brothers were taken away, in the nearby community of Santa Fé, an armed bandit stormed the ranch of Felipe Herrera, 43, vice president of that district's Liberal Party, and his wife Miriam Espino, 38, the group secretary. Herrera shot back, killing the man and infuriating his accomplices. DECAPITATIONS They jumped the fence to the Herrera home and shot him and his 17-year-old son dead. Then they decapitated his wife and did the same to their older son. The tale was told to police by a 13-year-old daughter who cowered under the bed, watching her family's slaughter. Later, the same killers apparently stopped at Agustín Mendoza's home, too, leaving his headless body by the doorway. For the Mendoza family, there is no question but that FUAC is responsible for the killings, and in this tiny town, FUAC is just another name for a familiar adversary: Sandinistas. ``They are back in the mountains like it was the '80s,'' said Samuel Mendoza, a son. ``They are inciting war.'' His brother and the victim's namesake, Miami's Nicaraguan vice consul Agustín Mendoza, urged police to hunt down the killers. ``If they don't, we're entering a difficult and dangerous situation for peace,'' the vice consul said. ``Nicaraguans do not want war.'' Government spokeswoman Marta McCoy said the president plans to launch a security offensive to bring confidence back to the mining town. ``It has to worry us that armed people are going around -- it puts our political stability at risk,'' McCoy said. ``It worries us because 47 innocent people have been killed, innocent people who were struggling for democracy.'' The prevailing theory is that FUAC is running a fear campaign to keep people from the polls Nov. 4, when Sandinista General Secretary Daniel Ortega, the former president, will run again. The Sandinistas won several important mayoral elections last November -- but not in Siuna. The FUAC, named after an 1850s youth who became prominent in the struggle against American soldier of fortune William Walker, was once believed to be 700 strong but may have dwindled. IN THE MOUNTAINS Leader José Luis Marenco is believed to be in the mountains still, making new allies. FUAC claimed responsibility for the 1999 kidnapping of a Canadian mining executive. Police here say despite their political origins, they have evolved into old-fashioned criminals. ``We're like a soccer ball, everyone kicks us and nobody defends us,'' FUAC leader Roberto Pérez said Thursday in the Sandinista newspaper El Nuevo Diario. ``Some of them even scored a few goals.'' Pérez -- a pseudonym -- said his group formed to provide services for peasants and to rid the region of up to 40 gangs of highway robbers. Since the group disarmed, he said, perhaps the gangs they helped dismantle have begun operating again. Siuna Police chief José David Jarquín said evidence links some Marenco associates to the killings, but he is not convinced that makes the murders political. He has no theories about why the five were killed, noting they were not robbed. The Sandinistas agree and argue that they are not affiliated with the paramilitaries. ``The Sandinista Front has nothing to do with these people. The Sandinistas do not have an armed band. For what?'' said Bernardino Herrera, who is not related to the murder victim. ``The government wants to politicize the murders. That's very dangerous.''
BBC 24 May 2001 Peru's disgraced former President, Alberto Fujimori, is reported to have been charged with murder in connection with the 1991 killing of 15 people by a paramilitary death squad. The Peruvian media said Mr Fujimori was accused of going to intelligence service headquarters on the day of the crime to congratulate members of the paramilitary Colina group on the killings. Mr Fujimori is now in self-imposed exile in Japan, having fled there last year to escape a bribery scandal involving his former intelligence chief, Vladimiro Montesinos. The former president, who has dual Peruvian-Japanese nationality, is unlikely to be brought to trial as Peru has no extradition treaty with Japan. Tokyo has indicated it has no intention of handing him over for trial. Mr Fujimori denies any involvement in the activities attributed to Mr Montesinos, who is alleged to have set up Colina to combat attacks by Shining Path left-wing guerrillas. The indictment against Mr Fujimori for the 1991 massacre in old Lima's Barrios Altos district is based on the testimony of three former intelligence agents, radio and television stations said. The Colina group was tried and sentenced by a military court for the 1992 murder of nine university students and a professor, but later pardoned by a controversial law sponsored by Mr Fujimori in 1995.Congress paved the way for criminal proceeding when it voted in February to strip the former president of his parliamentary immunity. He was charged with abandoning office and barred from holding any public post for 10 years. Congress has also voted to extend for another two months a congressional inquiry into the activities of the infamous Mr Montesinos, who has been in hiding since October. Mr Fujimori's downfall was precipitated by the release of a videotape showing Mr Montesinos allegedly bribing an opposition politician. Mr Fujimori is, meanwhile, the subject of a number of other investigations, including allegedly diverting millions of dollars of state funds into secret overseas bank accounts, and drug trafficking. Moves are also under way to charge him with murder over the deaths of left-wing rebels who took over the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima in 1997.
By Sue Anne Pressley and Dale Russakoff Washington Post Staff Writers Wednesday, May 2, 2001; Page A01 BIRMINGHAM, May 1 -- In a swift verdict, former Ku Klux Klansman Thomas E. Blanton Jr. was convicted of first-degree murder today in the 1963 church bombing here that killed four black girls -- a watershed moment in America's civil rights movement. The jury of eight whites and four blacks deliberated for just over two hours this afternoon before returning to a packed and hushed courtroom. Blanton, 62, who had been a suspect in the case for nearly 40 years but was only indicted by a state grand jury last year, sat expressionless as the decision was read. Under laws in effect in 1963, Blanton automatically gets four life sentences. Blanton, who is being held in the Jefferson County Jails while awaiting transfer to the state prison system, will appeal the verdict, Robbins said. Robbins focused on FBI-sanctioned tapes that were made in the 1960s after the bombings. The tapes, some of which were difficult to understand, revealed Blanton alluding to "the bomb" in conversations with his then-wife and a former Klansman turned FBI informant, but there was no evidence that Blanton admitted outright that he committed the crime. The Sept. 15, 1963, bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church riveted national and international attention on desegregation efforts in the Deep South and provided a rallying point for the far-reaching civil rights legislation that came a few months later. The age and innocence of the victims -- Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley and Addie Mae Collins, all 14, and Denise McNair, 11 -- shocked the world. The girls were in the basement preparing for services when the blast ripped through the stately church.[http://www.splcenter.org/centerinfo/ci-index.html On the Civil Rights memorial are inscribed the names of 40 people who lost their lives in the struggle for freedom between 1954 and 1968. They include those who were targeted for death because of their civil rights activities; those who were random victims of vigilantes determined to halt the movement; and those who, in the sacrifice of their own lives, brought a new awareness of the struggle to people all over the world.
A Justice Department inquiry revealed that then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover secretly blocked efforts by the Birmingham office to bring a case against the alleged bombers, despite calls by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Baines Johnson for prosecution. Although four Ku Klux Klansmen, including Blanton, were named as suspects within weeks of the bombing, none came to trial until 1977. when Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley won a murder conviction against Robert "Dynamite Bob" Chambliss, the presumed ringleader. In the intervening years, one of the other original suspects, Herman Cash, died without going to trial. Another, Bobby Frank Cherry, indicted along with Blanton, was ruled incompetent to stand trial because of dementia, but prosecutors have appealed the finding. Chambliss died in prison in 1985 while serving a life sentence.
Boston Globe 3 May 2001 Kerrey Should Be Investigated By Daniel Jonah Goldhagen and Samantha Power Executing civilians is a war crime. Under international and American law, it does not matter whether the victims are American, Vietnamese, or Bosnian. Though there are credible reports that former US Senator Bob Kerrey may have ordered the murder of women and children, many Americans seem quicker to sympathize with the former war hero and to lament the ''horror of war'' rather than focus on the real issues of crime and justice. It is certainly true that we should not make Kerrey a scapegoat for the Vietnam War. But we should also not reflexively invoke the character of that war to prevent official scrutiny of deeds that might be criminal. Americans need to ask three questions. Did Kerrey commit murder on Feb. 25, 1969, in Thanh Phong? How should US authorities and the public respond to credible allegations of war crimes, whether committed by Kerrey or any American? And, if the United States is to exercise moral leadership on human rights abuses around the world, what reforms must it undertake so that it vigilantly uncovers and prosecutes the war crimes of Americans? Kerrey has a long record of distinguished public service. But this does not render his account more believable than that of anyone else, particularly since we already know that he accepted a medal on the fraudulent grounds that 21 Viet Cong were killed in the raid and that he has altered his story repeatedly in recent days. Our experience working with the testimony of thousands of war criminals who deny their crimes shows that it is essential to look at the full range of evidence. Kerrey maintains that his Navy SEAL unit killed several Viet Cong in a hut and then unwittingly killed more than a dozen women and children in a firefight. Five members of his team back up most of his story. Another member, Gerhard Klann, has offered a vastly different version: At the hut Kerrey helped Klann slit the throat of an old Vietnamese man and also executed a woman and three children. Then the SEALs, following Kerrey's orders, killed about 15 unarmed Vietnamese women and children in their custody. Two Vietnamese survivors have independently corroborated Klann's version that it was an execution, including critical details of his account. American and Vietnamese alike remembered that the SEALs killed children in the hut and that one of the last Vietnamese alive after the Americans' initial point-blank gunfire into the huddled victims was a crying baby. While Kerrey certainly should be presumed innocent, the weight of the evidence already compiled is surely sufficient to suggest that his unit might have committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. That five of his men support him is hardly dispositive since they are also exonerating themselves... To call for an inquiry today is not, as has been claimed, to make Kerrey a scapegoat for a bad war or for a war fought badly. Discontent with a war and its memory should also not serve as an alibi to let Kerrey off the hook preemptively - any more than it should have prevented prosecution of Lieutenant William Calley for the My Lai massacre, of Germans for war crimes during World War II, or of Serbs for slaughtering Muslims. The issues here, as for any alleged war crime, are: Were unarmed civilians executed, and, if so, what would justice for those executed demand? Congress should launch a full investigation, under the guidance of an independent, outside counsel with expertise in war crimes, which would seek to introduce unexamined forensic evidence and to uncover the facts of the case. All witnesses, including and especially the Vietnamese, should testify before the hearings. This would enable the survivors to be heard, which most victims consider a vital part of justice. Disturbingly, in many accounts and discussions of the raid, the Vietnamese testimonies have been omitted, as if the claims of victims are not worth mentioning or are delegitimized solely because they are being made by Vietnamese. An investigation might find that restitution should be given. Since prosecution does not appear possible under military or civilian jurisdiction in the United States, a public airing would at least bring the SEALs before the court of public opinion and potentially catalyze a national discussion on how best to prevent such killings in the future and to respond to them when they occur. Whether or not one believes that the American war in Vietnam was a national shame or even criminal, any American who executed civilians did undeniably shame this country and act criminally. The notion that investigating allegations of such criminality is not good for this country is perverse. It is a healthy thing for a democracy, particularly for the most powerful country in the world, to focus on the crimes committed in its name. And it is in the interest of the United States that it strengthen the procedures it has put in place since Vietnam to ensure that such allegations, whether about past or future crimes, are impartially investigated and, when warranted, promptly prosecuted. This may mean transferring jurisdiction from the American military, if it can not properly investigate itself, to civilian authorities or even to an international criminal court. If the United States is to continue its recent, worthy efforts to prosecute war crimes by foreigners, then it must not ignore serious charges against its own soldiers and civilians. But this country's broader interests are not the reason to investigate Kerrey's and the SEALs' deeds that day. The dead Vietnamese man, women, and children are. How can anyone in good conscience countenance a cover-up of how and why they were killed? Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is author of ''Hitler's Willing Executioners.'' Samantha Power is executive director of Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
Reuters 3 May 2001 Hadassah, the U.S. women's Zionist organization that runs hospitals in Israel, was approved for consultative status with the United Nations on Thursday, capping a three-year effort that reflected the bitterness between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. Approval by the 54-member U.N. Economic and Social Council came by consensus, without a formal vote. But Syria first accused the group of backing Israeli ``genocide,'' while others said Hadassah supported the oppression of Palestinians during the seven-month uprising in the West Bank and Gaza. The council adopted a report from its Committee on Non-governmental Organizations, which in January, pressed by the United States, voted 9-5 with three abstentions to bundle several groups' applications for consultative status, including the one from Hadassah. Some 2,000 grass-roots or advocacy groups, known as nongovernmental organizations, have credentials with the Economic and Social Council that enable them to take part in U.N. conferences and offer advice in their fields of expertise. During the council's session on Thursday, Bahrain, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Sudan and Syria harshly criticized Hadassah's motives and activities. ``Hadassah supports oppression against Palestinians,'' said Palestinian envoy Somaia Barghouti. ``Hadassah's existence and raison d'etre completely oppose the charter of the United Nations.'' Syria's envoy, Rania Haj Ali, accused the organization of supporting ``the genocidal activity carried out in Israel.'' Israeli delegate Ron Adam said in response that the Arab nations' statements ``harken back to the darkest days of the United Nations.'' He was referring to the controversial 1975 General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. Hadassah National President Bonnie Lipton said the approval showed the group had been right to seek consultative status ``in spite of the virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric to which we were exposed.'' ``I can't articulate a great big sigh but I am very pleased that the report was accepted,'' she told Reuters. Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, was founded in 1912 and has more than 300,000 members in the United States. It funds hospitals in Israel and elsewhere. It first applied for consultative status in 1998. Last June, its application was delayed. Lebanon, among others, asked Hadassah to respond to a long series of questions including a list of Arab patients it had treated. Hadassah refused to answer the questions, saying it treated patients on the basis of their wounds rather than their background. In recent years, the nongovernmental organizations have been increasingly active in fields as diverse as international law, the environment, arms control and women's rights. But the committee over the past decade has become more divisive and political, challenging human rights or democracy organizations.
New York Post 3 May 2001 EX-SLAVE WONDERS: WHY DO SO FEW CARE? ONE DAY in 1986, as Francis Bok stood in a market in southern Sudan, trying to sell his family's eggs and beans, a Muslim militia backed by his country's government descended like a swarm of hornets. "They shot people in the head, and cut off heads with swords," Francis says of the raid he witnessed on the town. Why did he make it out alive? Because he was 7 years old. Having murdered all the adults, the Arab militiamen took the children as slaves. Francis and two his sisters, all Catholics, were tied up in baskets and hung like saddlebags on a donkey. One of the girls wouldn't stop crying for her parents. So the Muslims stopped the caravan and blew her head off. When the other began wailing, they chopped off her foot. "I learned to be quiet," says Francis. The others were sold in a slave market, but Francis was given as a prize to the brother of a militia leader."He called the whole family out to meet me," the lanky, gentle 22-year-old recalled yesterday standing in front of the Sudanese mission to the United Nations (news - web sites). "They beat me with sticks, and called me ‘black slave, black slave.' That was my welcome." The boy was forced to bed down with the farm animals at night, and fed slop. One day he asked his master why he was treated so harshly, and "why nobody loved me." "He told me never to ask that question," Francis says. "Later, he told me we make you do these things because you are an animal." Francis prayed for deliverance, and after 10 years and two unsuccessful escape attempts (he has the scars from the subsequent beatings), he made it to Egypt. "I told [the United Nations] I don't care where I'm going, I just want to be free." Francis made it to the United States, and now is with the American Anti-Slavery Group (www.anti-slavery.org). He tells his story because it's important that people hear from a witness. But he's puzzled: Why do so few Americans seem to care about what's going on in the Sudan? He's not the only one who wonders. Queens pastor Jim Geist, an organizer of yesterday's rally, recalls a similar protest in 1997 at the same place. A group was protesting experimentation on lab rats two blocks away. "They got all the media coverage," he said. "Protesting against genocide got nothing." AASG head Charles Jacobs says eight long years of laboring in relative obscurity on behalf of Sudanese slaves has taught him a few things about the human-rights community. "Most of them are well-meaning white people who choke when they see nonwhites, in particular the Muslim world, engaging in this kind of thing," he says. Why, he asks, was it so easy for the media and human-rights activists to get outraged at South African apartheid, yet remain passive in the face of the Sudanese slavery and genocide, which is far worse? "They should be challenged as to whether they're just the Society for the Improvement of White Conduct, or if there's going to be a single human-rights standard for the whole world."
Reuters 11 May 2001 Lawyer Gets Death for Racial Killings - An unemployed immigration lawyer was sentenced on Friday to die by lethal injection for killing five people in a racially charged shooting rampage in suburban Pittsburgh. An Allegheny County jury reached the verdict two days after convicting 35-year-old Richard Baumhammers of Mt. Vernon, Pennsylvania, on five counts of first-degree murder. During a trial that lasted nearly a fortnight, the defense sought to convince jurors Baumhammers was suffering from an untreated mental illness at the time of the slayings last year and believed he was receiving telepathic messages from the government. His family has said he had a history of mental problems. Baumhammers will bring the number of inmates on Pennsylvania's death row to 241, the state corrections department said. The unemployed immigration lawyer was convicted on Wednesday in the murders of his Jewish neighbor, two Asian restaurant workers, an Indian grocer and a black martial arts student on April 28, 2000. A sixth victim, an Indian immigrant, was left paralyzed. Police said Baumhammers shot his victims with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun in 90 minutes as he drove through towns north of Pittsburgh. He allegedly pursued ultra-right U.S. politics and sought contact with neo-Nazi groups that exhort followers to pursue a violent strategy called leaderless resistance. U.S. authorities believe the tactic was similar to that used by Timothy McVeigh in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. McVeigh's execution was delayed until June 11 on Friday when it was discovered the FBI had withheld documents from his defense.
WP 17 May 2001 York, Pennsylvania Mayor Charlie Robertson surrendered Thursday on charges of murder in the 1969 shooting death of a black woman during race riots. An affidavit quotes a co-defendant as saying Robertson gave him the ammunition he used to fire at her car and told him to kill blacks. Reporters and photographers swarmed around Robertson, 67, as he arrived at the office of District Justice Barbara Nixon for his arraignment. The arraignment proceeding was brief, and Nixon set May 25 as a tentative date for Robertson's preliminary hearing. He was taken in handcuffs to the York County Courthouse for a bail hearing, after which he was released on $50,000 bond. An affidavit was filed in conjunction with the mayor's arraignment. In it, Rick Lynn Knouse, one of five other men charged in the case, told a grand jury that Robertson, a city policeman at the time, gave him ammunition for his 30.06 hunting rifle and instructed him to "kill as many niggers as you can." Knouse said he used the ammunition that Robertson provided to fire on the car in which the black victim, 27-year-old Lillie Belle Allen, was riding when she was killed, according to the affidavit. The affidavit said Dennis McMaster, who like Robertson was a York city police officer in 1969, said he witnessed Robertson giving 30.06 bullets to either Robert or Arthur Messersmith, two brothers who were the first to be arrested in the case last month. The mayor himself told the grand jury that he borrowed a 30.06 rifle and ammunition from a neighbor and took it on patrol with him after Henry Schaad, a white rookie police officer, was shot three days before Allen was slain on July 21, 1969. The affidavit did not elaborate on the mayor's own testimony. Robertson, accompanied by his lawyer Richard Oare and city Police Commissioner Herbert Groscsik, said as he arrived at Nixon's office that he "absolutely" maintains his innocence. Robertson has admitted yelling "white power" at a rally the night before Allen was killed, but he has denied involvement in her death. Just Tuesday, the two-term mayor defeated City Councilman Ray Crenshaw, the first black to run for mayor in city history, in a close Democratic primary. Prosecutor Tom Kelley had declined to comment Wednesday on Robertson's statement that he expected to be charged, citing a gag order. Robertson's attorney has said the mayor is being politically targeted. Robertson has faced speculation about his involvement in Allen's death of Allen since the first defendants in the case were arrested last month. Court papers released earlier had had referred to a police officer who screamed "white power!" at a rally, said the same officer provided ammunition to at least one of the men who fired on Allen's car and urged "commando raids" in black neighborhoods. The affidavit released Thursday said a witness quoted Robertson as saying, "If I weren't a cop, I'd be leading commando raids against niggers in the black neighborhoods." While admitting to saying "white power," Robertson denies giving away ammunition or making the "commando raids" comment. Police said Allen, a native of Aiken, S.C., and family members had driven into the neighborhood of a white gang during one night of rioting. Allen got out of the car, waved her arms and yelled "don't shoot" but was hit by a bullet, investigators said. The riots, which lasted 10 days, began after a white gang member shot and wounded a young black man in the city 85 miles west of Philadelphia. More than 60 people were injured, 100 were arrested and entire city blocks were burned. Although Robertson has denied any responsibility for Allen's death, he has said he had racist feelings after his father was mugged by three black men in the 1950s. "I tried so hard when I was a police officer not to let that interfere," Robertson told the York Daily Record. But he said the police department had a culture of racism in the 1960s. The inquiry in York follows cases reopened by Southern prosecutors and civil rights advocates. Earlier this month, ex-Ku Klux Klansman Thomas Blanton Jr. was sentenced to life in prison for the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church in which four black girls were killed.
Pearl Harbor angers Japanese Americans LOS ANGELES, May 21: The epic film "Pearl Harbor", opening on Friday across the United States, could stir anti-Asian sentiment, a Japanese American rights group warned on Monday. The movie about the Dec 7, 1941, Japanese attack on the US Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, is a "stark and vivid depiction of ... the worst that can happen in war", said Floyd Mori, president of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the country's largest Asian American civil rights organization. "Most Americans have difficulties distinguishing between Asian Americans and Asian nationals" and they widely stereotype Asians," Mori said at a rally about 50 Asian Americans in the Little Tokyo section of Los Angeles. He added that the movie could fuel hatred of Americans of Asian descent and he said Japanese groups around the United States have heightened security measures out of fear of a backlash. Many at the rally complained that the film, set in Hawaii, a state mainly populated by Asians, featured few Asian faces. In addition, they said, all the Japanese characters are depicted as enemies while Japanese-American soldiers aren't featured at all. "We are loyal, patriotic citizens of this great nation," Mori said. "Thousands of Japanese Americans volunteered for military service," he added. "No matter what we achieve ... how far we've come in this country when the topic of Pearl Harbor comes up we're always dragged back to that event," JACL executive director John Tateishi said. "Pearl Harbor" tells of a love triangle involving Navy nurse Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) and two Army Air Corps pilots, Rafe and Danny (Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett). The flyers are best buddies before the war when Rafe falls in love with Evelyn. But Rafe leaves her to fly in Britain, is shot down and presumed dead, leaving Danny and Evelyn stationed in Hawaii to fall in love. Then Rafe shows up and sparks fly. Evelyn's suitors don't have long to be rivals, however, because the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor the next day. And in a 40-minute special effects extravaganza, movie audiences are plunged into the attack on Pearl Harbor. JACL also takes issue with "innuendo" produced by a scene depicting a real-life Japanese American dentist who had conversations with Japanese officials prior to the bombing. The dentist is depicted in the film as disloyal and functioning as a spy for the Japanese government, Mori said, but was in fact cleared of any wrongdoing by the FBI. "The movie infers that a Japanese American helps the enemy which is totally false. We want the inaccuracy deleted or for Disney (the company which made the film) to take full responsibility" for any violence or anti-Asian sentiment resulting from it," Mori said. The filmmakers have said that their goal was not historical record-keeping but to tell a love story that takes place before, during, and after the attack. "It's not a history lesson. What I know you get from the movie is the essence of what it felt like to be here that morning. That's what the movie is trying to do," director Michael Bay said. Bay, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and screenwriter Randall Wallace all interviewed survivors, visited memorials and pored over historical documents, and they hired historians to work on the movie's set to try to ensure accuracy, they said. They also sent the script to Tokyo to gain input from the Japanese workers there. "We got a couple of little notes, but they were minor. And we made a couple of adjustments to the final print that will go around the world, too."-Reuters
Reuters 26 May 2001 By Andrew Stern U.S. prosecutors will revive the alleged Nazi past of retired auto worker John Demjanjuk in a new trial starting on Tuesday in an Ohio courtroom, arguing that while he may not be the sadistic death camp guard ``Ivan the Terrible,'' he was a henchman in the ``Final Solution.'' Demjanjuk, who is 81 and mentally and physically frail according to his family, could be stripped of his American citizenship for the second time in 20 years and ultimately deported -- possibly to an Ukrainian jail cell. This time, he is accused of being a guard at the Sobibor, Majdanek and Flossenburg Nazi concentration camps in Poland and Germany. He is said to have been among captured Ukrainian soldiers who volunteered to be trained for the horrific duty at the Nazi's SS-run Trawniki training facility in Poland. Prosecutors must prove he lied about his Nazi past in 1951 to obtain a U.S. visa for himself and his wife and daughter, basing their case on evidence such as a sworn statement from a now-dead Ukrainian who was a guard at the same Nazi camps. ``Our goal is deportation,'' said a Justice Department (news - web sites) spokesman. Demjanjuk, whose alibi has shifted several times over two decades of accusations, has claimed he was a conscript in the Soviet army captured by the Germans in the Crimea in 1941 who spent much of the war as a prisoner of war. He has said he lied to avoid being returned to the Soviet Union, where he feared he would be persecuted. It was not clear if Demjanjuk will testify at the civil proceeding to be overseen by U.S. District Judge Paul Matia in Cleveland, which could take up to four weeks. Matia will decide the case. Prosecutors were expected to rely on evidence such as a ''protocol'' from fellow-Ukrainian Ignat Danilchenko, who died in Russia in 1985. He recalled ``Dem'yanyuk (sic)'' as an efficient death camp guard who helped round up Jews. Danilchenko cannot be cross-examined on the role of the guards in ``Operation Reinhard,'' the Polish arm of Adolf Hitler's ``Final Solution'' that culminated in the genocide of 6 million Jews. When first denaturalized in 1981, Demjanjuk was identified as the vicious ``Ivan the Terrible'' of Treblinka and was quickly extradited to Israel where he was sentenced to hang for ``crimes against humanity'' in a televised trial that rivaled the sensational 1961 trial of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann. Among the evidence was Demjanjuk's much-scrutinized Trawniki identity card, which the defense argued was a Soviet forgery, and the eyewitness testimony of a series of graying Treblinka survivors. One after another, they pointed at Demjanjuk and identified him as the cruel guard who whipped, gouged and tortured his victims before revving the engines that fed poisonous exhaust into gas chambers where 850,000 mostly Polish Jews died in just 11 months. But documents and sworn statements from Ukrainian Nazi recruits that emerged from the dismantled Soviet Union -- some made available to U.S. prosecutors before the 1981 extradition hearing -- led Israel's Supreme Court to declare Demjanjuk was not ``Ivan the Terrible.'' The Israeli high court, in freeing Demjanjuk in 1993 after seven years in prison, said it suspected he was a camp guard and called his alibi ``a lie.'' ``There's a feeling that everything that could be done, was done, but ultimately the case was too complicated to make it or bring it,'' said Moshe Fox, an Israeli embassy spokesman in Washington. He said ``extradition (to Israel) was not on the table'' at this time. Ukraine also does not want Demjanjuk back, and would probably prosecute him for war crimes if he did return, a Ukrainian government source said. After Israel freed Demjanjuk, the U.S. Justice Department's Nazi-hunting Office of Special Investigations was vilified by a U.S. Appeals Court that had approved his extradition, saying prosecutors had behaved ``recklessly'' and perpetrated a ``fraud on the court'' for not disclosing that another man, Ivan Marchenko, was likely the sadistic guard. The whereabouts of Marchenko remain unknown. Demjanjuk is no longer talking, but his lawyer, Michael Tigar recently said Demjanjuk is once again the victim of mistaken identity. Tigar said Ukrainian officials recently interviewed the relative of another ``Ivan'' Demjanjuk born in the same village who was a Nazi guard. Demjanjuk, meanwhile, rarely ventures out of his suburban Seven Hills, Ohio, bungalow, and is said to enjoy watching his six grandchildren play. His son-in-law, Ed Nishik, complains that Demjanjuk has been impoverished and devastated by a persecuting U.S. government. Demjanjuk's $5 million lawsuit against the government was dismissed.
BBC 29 May, 2001 A US embassy has reportedly told a French judge probing the 1970s disappearance of French citizens in Chile that it does not want him to question former secretary of state Henry Kissinger. French Judge Roger Le Loire is looking into allegations that five French citizens who disappeared in Chile during General Augusto Pinochet's military regime were kidnapped and tortured. Henry Kissinger had been summoned to appear as a witness in the case French justice officials on Monday delivered a summons to a Paris hotel where Mr Kissinger was staying on a private visit. But the US embassy in Paris told a French court that Mr Kissinger had other obligations and was unable to appear, judicial sources said on condition of anonymity. The former US secretary of state under Presidents Richard M Nixon and Gerald Ford, was under no legal obligation to answer the summons. A spokesman for the US embassy said officials wished the court had not gone directly to Mr Kissinger with the request. Secret services "We understand that the court is examining a period when Dr Kissinger was an official of the US Government," spokesman Richard Lankford said. "We therefore believe the court should present its request through government channels to the Department of State." Lawyer William Bourdon, who represents families of French citizens who disappeared during the 1973-1990 Pinochet regime, had requested the summons. Mr Kissinger's testimony is wanted in connection with alleged exchanges between US and Chilean secret services that took place after the 1973 coup that brought General Pinochet to power. A Chilean judge has indicted General Pinochet on homicide and kidnapping charges, holding him responsible for the atrocities committed by the Caravan of Death, a military group that executed 75 political prisoners shortly after the coup in which the general ousted President Salvador Allende. General Pinochet is currently under house arrest and awaiting trial in Chile.
AP 1 May 2001 By JORGE RUEDA - Venezuela has always prided itself on being unsullied by South America's reputation as a haven for fugitive Nazis, so a claim that it is harboring 18 Nazi collaborators has shocked the nation. The Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Nazi-hunting organization, has asked the Venezuelan government to help track down the 18 alleged collaborators. It says they include a prominent retired businessman from Estonia. ``Many Jews saved their lives coming here. We are profoundly grateful to this land that has offered us refuge,'' said Isabel Cohen, 61, a Spanish Jew who fled to Venezuela in 1942. ``That's why we are very upset by this news. We are shaken by the very thought that this oasis of peace could be stained by the presence of war criminals.'' Among the alleged fugitives the Wiesenthal Center says are in Venezuela is businessman Harry Mannil. It claims that as a political police officer during the 1941-44 Nazi occupation of Estonia, Mannil participated in the massacre of at least 100 civilians. Mannil, now 81, has strongly denied it. Efraim Zuroff of the Wiesenthal Center said in a recent letter to Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar that he believes the United States has documents pointing to Mannil's guilt. He said Estonia should try Mannil if new evidence is uncovered.
AP 22 May 2001 Afghan Hindus to Be Required to Wear Labels By AMIR SHAH KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's Taliban rulers - already isolated by their harsh brand of Islam and poor treatment of women - announced plans to make Hindus wear an identity label on their clothing to distinguish them from Muslims. The hardline Taliban regime that controls 95 percent of this poor Central Asian state plans to enforce the new policy soon, Mohammed Wali, religious police minister, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. An exact date was not set, he said. The law will also make it mandatory for Hindu women to veil themselves - just like Muslim women of Afghanistan, Wali said. The Taliban's leader Mullah Mohammed Omar must approve all edicts, and it was not known if he had approved the new policy yet. The planned move - reminiscent of the yellow Star of David that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany - prompted an angry statement from Hindu-dominated India. ''We absolutely deplore such orders which patently discriminate against minorities,'' Raminder Singh Jassal, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters in New Delhi. ''It is further evidence of the backward and unacceptable ideological underpinning of the Taliban.'' In the central Indian city of Bhopal, dozens of protesters from the Hindu fundamentalist group Bajrang Dal marched Tuesday, shouting angry slogans and carrying an effigy of a Taliban soldier with a beard and a green scarf. ''Taliban, die!'' some chanted. The National Volunteers Corps, a fundamentalist movement that is the ideological parent of India's ruling Hindu nationalist party, condemned the Taliban. ''It is in line with the Taliban's interpretation of Islam, a religion which divides humanity into two: the believers and the infidels,'' said Baburao Vaidya, a spokesman for the corps, known by its Hindi acronym RSS. ''We criticize the very fundamentals of Islamic tenets,'' he told The Associated Press. The decision could further isolate the orthodox Islamic militia, already under fire from the West for alleged discriminatory policies toward ethnic and religious minorities, human rights abuses and poor treatment of women. In recent years, many Hindus and other members of religious minorities have left Afghanistan because of Taliban policies. Wali said the latest Taliban move is in line with Islam. ''Religious minorities living in an Islamic state must be identified,'' the minister said. The Taliban have not yet decided what sort of an identity label Hindus will have to wear, he added. There are at least 5,000 Hindus living in Kabul. Thousands of other Hindus live in other Afghan cities, but there are no reliable figures on exactly how many. The new law will be meant for only Hindus because there are no Christians or Jews in Afghanistan and Sikhs can be easily recognized by their turbans, Wali said. However, at least one Jew is known to live in the Afghan capital of Kabul and there may also be some Christians. It was unclear whether foreigners living in Afghanistan would be required to wear the identity label. Anar, an Afghan Hindu in Kabul who uses just one name, said he does not want to wear a label identifying him as Hindu. ''It will make us vulnerable and degrade our position in the society,'' he said. But Munawaar Hasan, general secretary of a major Islamic political party in neighboring Pakistan called Jamaat-e-Islami, or Islamic Party, said the move seems aimed to give protection to Hindus. ''The Taliban should win praise for this step,'' he said. ''Providing protection to religious minorities is a must in any Islamic country and this step seems in line with this concept.'' The Taliban follow a harsh version of Islam that bars women from most jobs and education, and makes it mandatory for men to wear beards and pray five times a day. All forms of light entertainment, including television and music, are outlawed. The Taliban drew worldwide criticism when in March they destroyed two ancient statues of Buddha in central Bamiyan, calling it their religious duty. Most of the Islamic world, including pro-Taliban Pakistan, differ with the Taliban regime's narrow interpretation of Islam and say that it is tarnishing Islam's image. The Taliban face U.N. sanctions for giving protection to Saudi billionaire Osama bin Laden, wanted by Washington for allegedly running a global terrorist network. The Taliban deny the charge and say the United States has no evidence against him.
AFP 21 Apr 2001 Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia Saturday urged the United Nations to remove its special rapporteur on human rights, Kamal Hossein, saying he was biased toward to the opposition. In a message to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel said Hossein's reports alleging deplorable human rights abuses were untrue and slanted. "The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Taliban), denying once again the untrue reports by the esteemed Kamal Hossein, requests that you assign instead of him an impartial and qualified person to be able to reveal the realities to the world," the message said. In a report to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva last month, Hossein, a veteran Bangladeshi diplomat, accused the Taliban of massacring civilians in Yakawlang district of central Bamiyan province earlier this year. His report said there had been several massacres since last May and the situation was catastrophic for a population already fleeing fighting and drought. Speaking of the alleged massacre of some 300 civilians in January at Yakawlang, Hossain said there had been an "identified list of names" from "very reliable sources". He added that "the identities of commanders who were present in the area at the relevant time are available in these reports," especially from US-based group Human Rights Watch. "They should be brought to justice," he urged. Annan and Amnesty International have also cited credible reports of Taliban massacres in Bamiyan. But the Taliban has accused Hossein of basing his reports on information fed to him by anti-militia groups based mainly in the country's northeast and in Bamiyan. Mutawakel's message said a global campaign had been launched to defame the fundamentalist Islamic militia. "It seems unfortunately that unfair allegations are vastly levelled against the Islamic Emirate in regard to human rights and their violation," it said. It said Afghanistan was an Islamic country where "all applicable laws are based on (Islamic) Sharia law and all legal and national rights within Islam has been given to men and women." In most of the country under its grip, the puritanical militia has banned women from most jobs and public education, while forcing them to cover their faces and bodies in public. Men cannot shave or trim their beards and must cover their heads with turbans and skull caps. In a recent edict the Taliban threatened to expel students who did not wear turbans in class. The UN Human Rights Commission this week adopted a resolution condemning human rights violations in Afghanistan. It also called the Taliban to respect the cultural heritage of the country, following the militia's destruction of ancient Buddha statues it said fell foul of Islamic law banning idolatry. The text notably also criticised the treatment of women in the country, and denounced abritrary arrests, torture, murders, quashed basic freedoms and racial, ethnic and sexual discrimination.
BBC 5 May, 2001 Iran hardliners blamed for blast The killing of Iranian officials in 1998 raised tensions Afghanistan's ruling Taleban has blamed Iranian extremists for a blast in the western Afghan city of Herat on Friday. The blast, outside a mosque in the border city, killed 10 people and was followed by protests in which the Iranian consulate was attacked. The Iranian Government has closed its consulate in the city and withdrawn its staff. The explosion was believed to have targeted an exiled Iranian scholar, who died in the blast. Maulvi Mohammad Musa was a Sunni Muslim scholar and after his death his followers set fire to the Iranian consulate and attacked mosques of the Shi'ite Muslim minority. Blame A statement issued by the Taleban foreign ministry said elements who were "oppressing the Iranian people" were trying to disturb improving Afghan-Iran ties. [The diplomats] would have been hacked to death had we not saved them in time Herat Governor Khairullah Khairkhwa "The circles upholding terrorism... not only attacked the mutual normalisation process but are also trying to endanger the relations between the two Muslim nations with this extreme move inciting religious sentiments," the statement said. The diplomats from Herat were escorted to the border with Iran by Taleban guards early on Saturday morning. "We managed to secure the diplomats," Herat Governor Khairullah Khairkhwa told the Reuters news agency. "They would have been hacked to death had we not saved them in time," he said. The incident recalled tensions between the two countries in 1998 when Iran and Afghanistan nearly fought a war after the killing of eight Iranian officials and a journalist. The Iranians were captured and killed by Taleban forces who seized the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif from Iranian-backed anti-Taleban forces. Regional tension Herat, near the Iranian border, is home to a vast camp for refugees fleeing the continued fighting between the ruling Taleban movement and their opponents in the Northern Alliance. About 80,000 refugees now live around Herat, and the UN says 1,500 desperate people arrive at the camp each day. Relations between Afghanistan and Iran have long been strained. Shi'ite Iran has been a strong backer of the Shi'a minority in Afghanistan, largely confined to the Hazara ethnic group in the central province of Bamiyan. The Taleban, by contrast, are Sunni Muslims.
AFP 10 May 2001 Afghan Taliban warns it could close main UN office KABUL, May 10 (AFP) - Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Mutawakel warned Thursday that the ruling Taliban militia would close the main United Nations office here if its New York mission was shut down. "If they expel our representative, we will expel them and if they close his office and dismiss him we will close the UNSMA (UN Special Mission to Afghanistan) office in Kabul and dismiss its personnel," Mutawakel told a news conference. The Taliban's foreign ministry has already ordered the UNSMA to close its four military-political offices in the country, in Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif, but had said the main UNSMA office could continue to operate. The United Nations said Tuesday that UNSMA would close its provincial offices in the country by May 20. Mutawakel said the United States had placed restrictions on the activities of the Taliban's unofficial represesenative in New York, Abdul Hakim Mujahid, after the UN imposed sanctions on the Taliban in January. He said Mujahid's operations were limited only to New York and that he himself had offered to close the office and work from home. But if the United Nations could convince the US authorities to allow Mujahid to resume his normal work, the Taliban would not close the UNSMA offices in the major cities, Mutawakel said. "Yes, if he (Mujahid) is not restricted only to New York," he said. He said the presence of Majiahid as the Taliban's "liaison officer" was useful in arranging overseas trips by the ruling militia's high-ups. The Taliban's unofficial mission in New York was closed after the UN Security Council imposed political and diplomatic sanctions in response to the Islamic militia's alleged backing of international terrorism.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 18 May 2001 -Taliban create obstacles for aid community in Afghanistan Islamabad (Office of the United Nations Co-ordinator for Afghanistan), 18 May 2001 -- The assistance community is facing increasing obstacles from Taliban authorities in carrying out assistance work in Afghanistan. There have been repeated denials of humanitarian access to communities in need of assistance, in particular in Hazarajat. Recently, again, United Nations staff were denied permission to go into part of Hazarajat, although fighting has resulted in the displacement of upwards of 60,000 people and further recent displacement of most of the population of Yakawlang District. In addition, unsubstantiated allegations--including charges of "immoral behaviour"--, harassment, arrests, and even physical abuse of humanitarian personnel are on the upswing. Recently, UN and NGO staff have been arrested in both Kabul and Herat. Both national and international staff have been subjected to harassment. The Office of the United Nations Co-ordinator for Afghanistan is particularly concerned about the harassment and abuse of Afghan national staff of the UN and NGO community. "We are not prepared to tolerate abuses against our staff. National staff form the backbone of the assistance effort in Afghanistan, without whom all assistance would halt," said UN Co-ordinator Erick de Mul. Despite the ongoing civil war, the United Nations has consistently underscored its commitment to providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan's civilian population, insofar as security permits. Since 1998, the United Nations has worked in Taliban areas of Afghanistan under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and a security protocol agreed to by Taliban authorities. These spell out the procedures and standards that must be followed if the United Nations is to continue its humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people. Recent incidents in Afghanistan have constituted a violation of several provisions of the MOU. The UN Co-ordinator has repeatedly tried to get in contact with Taliban officials in Kandahar but to no avail. "The recent pattern of violations of the security protocol represents a general narrowing of space available for humanitarian agencies to operate effectively," said UN Co-ordinator Erick de Mul. It is unconscionable that this is occurring precisely when the humanitarian crisis is rapidly deepening, and when the assistance community is trying to increase assistance to needy Afghans, he added.
Reuters 28 May 2001 India said Monday that it would provide shelter to minorities from Afghanistan if they fled from the austere vision of Islam being implemented by the country's Taliban rulers. External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh told a news conference that India and the international community were ''deeply troubled'' by the Taliban's plan to force Hindus to wear identifying yellow badges. The Taliban say they are attempting to protect the estimated 1,700 Hindus from the religious police, who impose rules on Muslim Afghans, such as herding them to the mosque for prayers. Singh said India had accepted a large number of Afghan nationals over the years and stood ready to accept minorities who did not want to subscribe to Taliban decrees. ``India will certainly provide them full shelter,'' he said. The minister said the creation of the Taliban was ``one of the most terrible legacies of the ending years of the Cold War.''
East Timor online 9 May 2001 Canberra accused over militia's bloody plan By JILL JOLLIFFE DARWIN : An Australian Army intelligence officer who served in East Timor has accused the Federal Government of concealing vital evidence on Indonesian army and militia war crimes in 1999. Captain Andrew Plunkett, of 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, has alleged that a massacre of more than 40 people at a police station in the border town of Maliana in September, 1999, might not have occurred if the government had acted on intelligence information predicting the killings. He also alleged that Australian soldiers from the International Force in East Timor who entered Maliana after the massacre had orders to understate the death toll. As a serving officer, Captain Plunkett risks prosecution for his declarations, made in an interview with The Age and in greater detail in a two-part edition of SBS's Dateline that begins tonight. But he said he wanted the truth told regardless of the penalty. A spokesman for Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said last night the minister denied the allegations. "We would absolutely reject any assertion we were withholding information relating to the safety of people on the ground," the spokesman said. Mr Downer also denied claims that soldiers were ordered to understate death tolls, he said. Captain Plunkett is on convalescent leave for post-traumatic stress suffered during his Timor mission, which involved examining mass graves. He said his decision to talk was also influenced by his belief that an international war crimes tribunal was needed to investigate East Timor atrocities. Leaks to the media have revealed that Australian intelligence agencies were aware of the extent of Indonesian military involvement in orchestrating the 1999 violence. But Mr Plunkett's allegations, and other revelations on Dateline, are the first direct accounts from intelligence insiders and the first accounts of prior knowledge of a specific mass killing . Captain Plunkett arrived in East Timor with the first InterFET soldiers in late 1999, serving until February, 2000. He said that before the referendum he had seen accurate reports from the Australian Defence Intelligence Organisation, "none of which were being passed on to the UN on the ground". On the Maliana killings, Captain Plunkett said Australian sources had accurately reported on Indonesian plans to kill independence supporters in Maliana, but their reports were "pushed up the chain of command, hosed down and politically wordsmithed by the Asia division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". He said the information was "held" at the department instead of being passed to UN observers in Maliana who could have warned the population. Captain Plunkett said the reports held by the Australian Government had come from "human intelligence" sources in Maliana. One of these sources was Wayne Sievers, at the time an Australian Federal Police officer serving with an unarmed UN force. Mr Sievers told Dateline that two of his reports on developments in Maliana were sent to the UN before the referendum, but officials and Australian diplomats ignored them. Mr Sievers said he reported on plans by Indonesian officers and militia leaders to kill independence supporters in Maliana, predicting how and when the killings would take place. He said he also sent his reports to a friend in the Australian defence intelligence community. Captain Plunkett said the UN subsequently told people in Maliana that if violence erupted they should go to the police station, where Indonesian police would protect them. Instead of finding the sanctuary they sought, several thousand people were trapped in the police grounds. According to survivors, on September 8, 1999, the area was surrounded by militiamen, with Indonesian police and soldiers forming a ring behind them. The militias hacked independence supporters to death with machetes in front of the assembled crowd. About 47 people were killed. He said Australian troops were aware that many victims of various acts of violence had probably been dumped at sea or in rivers, but estimates of these could not be included in body counts. He said that as a result the official body count registered for post-election violence in Maliana was about 12, whereas as an intelligence officer he had evidence of more than 60 bodies in Maliana town and the surrounding area.
The Age (Melbourne) Kalejs to face court today Monday 14 May 2001 ISSUES 2000: The Kalejs debate Alleged Nazi war criminal Konrads Kalejs is due to appear in a Melbourne court today to fight Latvia's extradition request. Magistrate Lisa Hannan has rejected pleas from Mr Kalejs' defence team to excuse their client from the hearing, expected to last two weeks, on the grounds of ill-health. Mr Kalejs, 87, has been accused of committing war crimes while commanding a Nazi squad at a slave labor camp outside the Latvian capital of Riga during World War II. He was arrested in Melbourne in December after a request for his extradition by Latvian authorities. His defence team hit a snag last month when its key witness, United States historian Andrew Ezer-gailis, refused to fly to Australia to testify. Professor Ezergailis, a world authority on the Holocaust in Latvia, was expected to tell the court that Mr Kalejs was a guard at a labor camp, not a death or concentration camp. Ms Hannan has expressed doubt about allowing Professor Ezergailis to testify via a video link, which costs about $2000 an hour. Meanwhile, Mr Kalejs' defence team has launched a separate action in the Federal Court challenging the legality of the extradition notice. - AAP
BBC 29 May, 2001 An Australian court has ruled that 87-year-old Konrad Kalejs can be extradited to Latvia where he is wanted on charges of war crimes and genocide. I am satisfied that Konrad Alfreds Kalejs is eligible for surrender to the Republic of Latvia in relation to the offences for which extradition is sought Melbourne magistrate Lisa Hannan The charges against Mr Kalejs relate to his role as a commander at the Salapils labour camp near Riga in 1942-43. His lawyers immediately issued a statement saying they were appealing against what they called the "inhumane and unjust" ruling. The decision has been welcomed by both officials and Jewish groups in Latvia. "The Australian court ruling is a positive thing as it should provide the opportunity to prosecute and investigate all circumstances linked to charges brought against Konrads Kalejs," Prosecutor General Janis Maizitis was quoted as saying. Granted bail Earlier, Mr Kalejs was granted bail and released after two hours in custody. Kalejs would be the first person prosecuted for Nazi war crimes in Latvia He was ordered to remain at a Latvian nursing home in Melbourne, surrender his passport and not travel to any points from which he might leave Australia. His lawyers said their client had dementia and prostate cancer, was blind and nearly deaf, and could not follow proceedings nor remember the past. "It is therefore impossible for him to get a fair trial," the statement said. But Grigory Krupnikov, chairman of the Riga Jewish Community, said claims by Mr Kalejs' lawyers that he was too sick to stand trial should not be considered during his appeal. "Age and health should not be a reason not to stand trial when we're talking about genocide and war crimes," he said. Mr Kalejs fled Britain last year to avoid deportation to Latvia. He had earlier been deported from Canada and the United States for lying about his wartime past. Wheelchair Mr Kalejs, who became an Australian citizen in 1957, denies any involvement in the alleged crimes. He attended Tuesday's hearing at a Melbourne court in a wheelchair, accompanied by a nurse, but his wife, who had been present at earlier hearings, was not with him. Prosecutors say that while Mr Kalejs was at the Salapils camp, thousands of Jews and other prisoners were shot, tortured and humiliated. His defence team had argued that the Latvian and Australian authorities have not followed the correct procedures for extradition. The Melbourne magistrate was not required to judge Mr Kalejs' guilt or innocence, but only assess whether his alleged actions would constitute crimes under Australian law at the time the extradition request was received last December. Mr Kalejs arrived in Australia at the start of 2000, after being tracked down to the Catthorpe Manor retirement home in Leicestershire by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem, which hunts perpetrators of the Holocaust. Kalejs' journey 1950: Arrives in Australia 1957: Australian citizenship 1994: Deported from US 1997: Forced from Canada 2000: Flees Britain 2001: Extradited to Latvia?
Phnom Penh Post, Volume 10 Issue 10, May 11 - 24, 2001 KR draft law: slowly she goes By Vong Sokheng Nine days after the resumption of National Assembly sessions on May 2, NA officials offer little hope that approval of the Khmer Rouge draft tribunal law has been prioritized. "I think that the key to whether the [KR law is approved] depends on the government," said NA First Vice-President Heng Samrin. "I believe that the draft law will come to the National Assembly during this session [but] I can't confirm when." Om Yen Tieng, advisor to Prime Minister Hun Sen, reiterated Hun Sen's position outlined in the latest issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review that speedy progress of the draft law through the Kingdom's legislative branches depended on an absence of "UN interference". "I think [the UN] shouldn't add any more problems," he said. "The UN cannot understand [the KR draft law] better than Cambodians." Yen Tieng echoed Hun Sen's May 2 assertions that a tribunal could be formed as soon as September pending UN agreement with the law's final version. The "UN interference" mentioned by both the Prime Minister and Om Yen Tieng refers to the Jan 9, 2000 written request from UN Chief Legal Counsel Hans Corell that a list of changes imposed unilaterally by the Cambodian government on the original draft of the law agreed by the two sides be reversed. In particular, Corell demanded the re-insertion of language in the draft law's Article 40 that specified that previously granted amnesties not be a bar to prosecution. Article 40 was designed to ensure that a 1996 royal amnesty given to former KR Foreign Minister Ieng Sary not shield him from possible prosecution. The Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC), a grouping of 18 of the Kingdom's human rights NGOs, issued an appeal on May 3 asking that the UN's concerns be addressed and that progress on the passage of the draft law be speeded up. "CHRAC would like to request the Royal Government to incorporate in [the draft law] those provisions of the agreement on the KR trial reached between the government and the UN that had been left out of the original draft of that law," the appeal stated. "The entire Cambodian nation would badly lose face in the world [if] truth and justice could not be found for the victims." Opposition leader Sam Rainsy announced on May 8 that his party would not vote in favor of the draft law if the UN's concern went unaddressed. "If the UN recognizes the KR tribunal law as meeting international standards of justice, I will order my lawmakers to vote to support it with both hands," Rainsy said. "If the government only changes a few words regarding the provision of the death penalty...my parliamentarians will not vote [in support of the law]." Progress toward the formation of a KR tribunal has been frozen since Feb 12, when the Constitutional Council demanded that references to the death penalty, prohibited under Cambodian law, be deleted.
AP 12 May 2001 Cambodia Photographer Faces Charges By CHRIS DECHERD, PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) - Day after day Nhem En peered at the prisoners through the lens of his box camera, barely giving a second glance at the ashen, hopeless faces he was recording for the bureaucracy of torture and death. Once photographed, the prisoners were taken to their cells inside S-21, the Khmer Rouge 's most infamous torture center. Nhem En was just 15, and already chief photographer of S-21. Today, 21 years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he lives in a village with his wife and six children, and dreams of opening his own photography shop. But for those seeking to punish the Khmer Rouge for their atrocities, Nhem En poses a quandary. Should he be prosecuted for being part of the system, or excused because he had no choice? Nhem En, now 41, says he is ready either way - to testify against his former bosses, or be judged alongside them. ``I would not be afraid to be judged,'' said Nhem En in an interview in Phnom Penh. ``My work was to take pictures only, and if I had refused I would have been killed.'' He may have his day in court. But when is anybody's guess. In January, after years of delays, the Cambodian government finished drafting legislation to establish a U.N.-assisted war crimes tribunal of Cambodian and foreign judges. The legislation must still be amended into line with the constitution, approved again by Parliament, reviewed by the Constitutional Council and signed by King Norodom Sihanouk. The Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975 and spent four years trying to build a farmers' utopia. More than 1.7 million people died of starvation, disease, overwork or executions. No one chronicled the killing machine like Nhem En and his five apprentices at S-21, a former school in Phnom Penh. It was death's waiting room through which 16,000 people passed. It is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where tourists gaze on Nhem En's work - montages of large and small black-and-white photographs of inmates. Nhem En recalls the anguished looks on the faces of his disoriented subjects, some of whom had just had their blindfolds removed. But he said he never interacted with them. ``According to regulations, talking was not part of my work,'' he said. Several prisoners professed their innocence to him while he prepared to take their picture. One was a cousin from his home village. Fearing arrest or worse, Nhem En kept quiet and clicked. The youth sometimes had to photograph the tortured dead. One picture in the museum shows a person partly covered in a soiled sheet, ankles still shackled, lying on the floor. Another is a close-up of a man in his 50s, eyes and mouth wide open. A sign in Khmer under the face says ``Ros Thoung, 05-10-77.'' Nhem En said he feels bad about those who died. He recalled hearing screams from the cells at night. He was 10 when he left the family farm and followed his four brothers into the Khmer Rouge in 1970 to fight the U.S.-backed regime. Following the Khmer Rouge's victory he was sent to Shanghai to study photography and filmmaking. He returned after six months and was made chief photographer, using Chinese box cameras and Japanese or German models seized from shops. After Vietnamese forces took over Cambodia, Nhem En retreated into the jungle with other cadres, including Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. In 1996 he defected and lives free but poor in the isolated village of Anlong Veng, 190 miles from the capital. He is among thousands of middle-ranking Khmer Rouge activists who may never be tried since the proposed tribunal is meant to prosecute only the ``most responsible.'' But many claim that morally, Nhem En has blood on his hands. Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, notes that the photography unit worked in concert with the prison torturers and killers, and says Nhem En's selection for study in China indicates he was a trusted cadre. ``The photographers did not kill anybody and, probably, they did not beat anybody, but I think, morally, they live in guilt,'' Youk Chhang said. But he acknowledged that Nhem En may be of more value to the tribunal as a witness than as a defendant. ``He knows a lot,'' Youk Chhang said. ``I hope he knows how to put into words what he really has seen.'' Only two Khmer Rouge high-ups are currently in custody. They are Ta Mok, the movement's longtime military leader, and Kang Kek Iev, better known as Duch, who ran the S-21 prison.
HRW Cambodia: Deportation of Montagnard Refugees to Vietnam (New York, May 20, 2001) Human Rights Watch today denounced the Cambodian government's forced expulsions of at least eighty-nine indigenous minority asylum seekers from the Central Highlands of Vietnam, and called for immediate measures to protect other refugees who may be at risk. Seventy people have been expelled in the last ten days alone. These forced returns violate the cardinal rule of international refugee law - the principle of non-refoulement," said Rachael Reilly, Refugee Policy Director for Human Rights Watch. "Governments must not send people fleeing persecution back to countries where their lives and liberty could be at risk." Reilly said the whereabouts and current condition of the detainees were unknown. Human Rights Watch called on the Cambodian government to launch an immediate investigation into the forced deportations, which were carried out by provincial authorities and which represented a breach in commitments made by Cambodia's Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Director General of the National Police. All three had declared that Vietnamese asylum seekers fleeing to Cambodia would not be deported. At a minimum, the deportations show that policies publicly announced in Phnom Penh are not being implemented in the provinces. Human Rights Watch also urged the Vietnamese government to immediately clarify the whereabouts and conditions of the eighty-nine people who were forcibly returned from Cambodia, and said they should be given immediate access to diplomatic representatives, international organizations, and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It said there are real fears for their safety because the Vietnamese Criminal Code provides for harsh punishment for non-violent political activity deemed to be "anti-government." The indigenous Vietnamese minorities seeking protection in Cambodia, collectively known as Montagnards, are primarily from the Jarai, Pnong, and Ede (also known as Rhade) ethnic groups that have been targeted in a recent government crackdown in Vietnam. After thousands of indigenous minority people in the Central Highlands demonstrated in February against land confiscations and religious repression, the Vietnamese government sent more troops to the area, barred free access by diplomats and the international media, cut phone lines, and arrested at least twenty people. http://hrw.org/press/2001/05/cambodia-0521.htm
Far Eastern Economic Review 24 May 2001 By Nayan Chanda CAMBODIA Southern Hospitality The U.S. and China are once again vying for clout in Cambodia. The issue this time: justice for the Khmer Rouge /PHNOM PENH and HONG KONG Issue cover-dated May 24, 2001 THE DEBATE MAY NEVER end on which superpower bears greater responsibility for the Khmer Rouge's genocidal rule: China, which gave $1 billion in aid and sent tens of thousands advisers to the Pol Pot regime, or the United States, which drew Cambodia into the Vietnam War and did little more than issue verbal condemnation when the Khmer Rouge were in power. Either way, larger forces made the regime possible. Now, 25 years later, it is these same forces that will influence whether the Khmer Rouge's ageing leaders are punished for their crimes. The U.S., UN and most Western donors want Cambodia to hold an international tribunal to try these men for their roles in the deaths of up to 2 million Cambodians in 1975-78. China has brought enormous political and economic pressure to scuttle it. What is at stake in this "test of wills," as U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Kent Wiedemann calls it, is not sovereignty or strategic advantage but a simple demonstration of who has more clout in Phnom Penh. The coming three months will show the fate of the tribunal, says Wiedemann, and indicate which way Cambodia is tilting. The Cambodian legislature is expected to soon pass a bill--a revision of a draft that passed in January--to establish the tribunal. The bill will then be reviewed by the country's top legal body, the Constitutional Council, and if approved, signed into law by the king or a proxy. During a visit to Phnom Penh last November, Chinese President Jiang Zemin, in a thinly veiled reference to the U.S.'s call for a tribunal and its criticism of human-rights violations in Cambodia, underlined China's support for "safeguarding the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity" of Cambodia. Chinese Communist Party No. 2, Li Peng, will no doubt reassert these views when he visits on May 18-21. But Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen denies that China has put any pressure on Cambodia to halt the tribunal. Instead, he told the REVIEW, "the people who put pressure on me have been [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan and [chief UN legal officer] Hans Corell and Americans like [U.S. Senator] John Kerry." Wiedemann admits to having pushed Cambodian leaders for a tribunal. He also says Chinese diplomats have been literally following in American footsteps to prevent the bill from reaching the signing stage. Wiedemann says he has left meetings with Cambodian officials only to find the Chinese ambassador waiting to enter. "The Chinese have been urging them not to listen to the Americans, to defend their sovereignty," says the Mandarin speaker, who once headed the State Department's China desk. "In my 30 years of dealing with China I have seen them fight head to head on issues that are vital for their interest but I am puzzled as to why this tribunal issue matters so much to them." China's embassy in Phnom Penh did not reply to a request for comment on the U.S. ambassador's statement. Some observers say the issue matters so much because the Chinese want to avoid embarrassing public revelations about their support of the Khmer Rouge. "It is not just the Khmer Rouge. Marx, Lenin and Mao will be in the dock," says Lao Mong Hay, executive director of the Khmer Institute for Democracy. Youk Chhang, director of the Documentation Centre of Cambodia, dismisses that reasoning: "The Chinese are never embarrassed." He says Beijing is pushing for halting the tribunal to show their power and influence. "China has a sense of ownership of Cambodia and stopping the tribunal is a way to assert that." In fact, if Hun Sen is correct in suggesting to the REVIEW that the tribunal law could be passed by September, Cambodia seems poised to side with the West. Developed nations provide about $500 million in grant aid each year, or half of Cambodia's budget. And textile exports to the U.S., granted special tax privileges, account for 90% of export revenue. Donors will decide the next aid package in Tokyo in mid-June. Even if the West wins this round, Cambodian poverty gives China an opportunity to make up lost ground. Cambodia has received almost $40 million in Chinese aid since 1997--including a $3 million military package granted by Defence Minister Chi Haotian in February--and $200 million in commercial credit, most of it for Chinese companies. While this is small in comparison to Western aid, these funds come without conditionality for transparency or accountability. Grants are often channelled through key government leaders and credit granted to well-connected businessmen: Such well-targeted munificence earns China greater influence than funds administered through financial institutions or NGOs. Add to this the influence of an estimated 10,000 Chinese nationals living in Cambodia, running companies, shops, restaurants, medical centres and travel services. "The Chinese have returned with a vengeance," says Lao Mong Hay, himself a Cambodian of Chinese descent. There are four Chinese-language newspapers and 74 Chinese schools in Cambodia, compared to 13 in 1995. Furthermore, Cambodian Chinese associations have become politically active, organizing demonstrations following the Nato bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade and issuing condemnation of the U.S. over the April collision of a U.S. surveillance aircraft and a Chinese fighter jet. Chinese interest goes beyond one-upmanship over the Americans. Since the mid-1950s, when Premier Zhou Enlai won the confidence of ruler Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Beijing has sought to build strong ties with Phnom Penh to counter the U.S.-led bloc in Southeast Asia. With a renewed Sino-American rivalry in the region and China's own goal of regional supremacy, those ties have renewed urgency. Cambodia's easy acceptance of Chinese cultural influence, Beijing's clout through the powerful Sino-Khmer business community and increasingly close ties between powerful government and military figures give China an unprecedented opening to expand its influence. In a country as weak and poor as Cambodia a small amount of aid goes a long way. Take shipbuilding, for instance. Hun Sen told the REVIEW that a Beijing-backed firm will set up a dockyard at Ream, on the Gulf of Thailand, for repairing and building trawlers and small naval craft. Hun Sen says it makes business sense as "each year Cambodian fishermen have to bring their trawlers to Thailand for repair and spend a lot of money." But more than just business is at stake. China's increasing exports and an increasing demand for oil are driving the Chinese navy to pay more attention to sea lanes. "Situated in the centre of mainland Southeast Asia, the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville would provide an excellent base for projecting maritime power into the Gulf of Thailand and the Straits of Malacca," writes U.S. Army Maj. Paul Marks in the U.S. military review Parameters. All this, of course, is still in the realm of speculation. Despite Hun Sen's attempt to woo the Chinese--if only to balance the Vietnamese and the Americans--he is still ambivalent about Beijing. "China is like fire," says a close associate of the prime minister. "If you get too close you get burnt, but if you are too far you feel the chill."
BBC 30 April, 2001 Walk into the old mosques in China's heartland and you will find no minaret. Respect for the emperor meant that China's Muslims heard their call to prayer from a small one-storey pavilion built in Chinese decorative style. The height of the minaret could not challenge the roof-line of the emperor's central palace. Yet in the Central Asian reaches of the Chinese empire, where control from the centre has ebbed and flowed for more than 1,000 years, high Middle Eastern style minarets are everywhere. The government wants a "correct" interpretation of Islam This architectural detail is important because it illustrates how China's Muslims seem to have accommodated their faith, and its outer manifestations, according to geographical proximity to the centre of state power. The People's Republic of China today covers a territory that approximates the Chinese empire at near its greatest historical extent. China's Communist rulers have captured lands which previous dynasties have only held intermittently. Beijing rules many Muslims whose ancestors owed no traditional allegiance to Beijing. In modern China there are 18 million followers of Islam scattered among 10 ethnic groups. Ethnic separatist elements comprise the most menacing criminal groups in Xinjiang. The Muslims of the traditional Chinese heartland are called the Hui and are often indistinguishable from their Han Chinese neighbours. The Hui cause little anxiety to China's modern rulers. They have intermarried with non-Muslims, lost many of their customs and are frequently secular in their approach. It is the Muslim population of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region which exercises the minds of the Chinese leadership. Recent years have seen the mobilisation of Islam in the cause of their ethnic separatist struggle. The Uighurs are a Turkic people who have their own language and distinct Islamic culture. Uighur separatists lay claim to the revival of a short-lived earlier political entity of Eastern Turkestan. The western Uighur region of Xinjiang is rich in minerals, oil and gas - resources lacking in the Chinese heartland and essential for China's growth and stability. Beijing has no interest in fostering greater self determination for its Uighur citizens. Interpreting the Koran This April, the government set up a China Islamic Association which was described as aiming to "help the spread of the Koran in China and oppose religious extremism". The association, according to the China Daily, is to be run by 16 Islamic religious leaders who are charged with making "a correct and authoritative interpretation" of Islamic creed and canon. Regonal leaders vow to "strike hard" against extremism It will compile and spread inspirational speeches and help imams improve themselves, the paper said. The committee of imams will also vet sermons made by clerics around the country. This latter function is probably the key job as far as the central government is concerned. It is worried that devout, anti-secular clerics are using their sermons to spread sedition. 'Strike hard' This moves comes at a time when Xinjiang is launching the latest security crackdown, known as "strike hard". Xinjiang regional leaders have been open in their avowal to use it as a way of tackling religious extremism. Xinjiang party chairman, Abulahat Abdurixit, said at a regional conference on public order work in early April that "ethnic separatist elements comprise the most prominent underworld and the most menacing criminal groups in Xinjiang". The regional daily, Xinjiang Ribao, quoted Abdurixit as saying that although ethnic separatist elements are small in number, they have caused bombing and terrorist incidents for more than 10 years. The decision to let politically trusted imams vet sermons and use Islam itself to combat ethnic separatism is the soft side of China's move in the struggle. A hearts and minds campaign in Xinjiang is likely to fall on stony ground. Central Asia's Muslims never did build their mosques and minarets in Chinese style
AP 1 May 2001 BEIJING — Police in China's restive Muslim northwest have arrested 25 people on charges of buying guns as part of a campaign to create an independent Islamic republic, an official newspaper reported. The 25 were arrested Friday in Kashgar, a city near China's western border in Xinjiang province, according to the Xinjiang Daily. Separatists there have been waging a campaign of bombings and assassination over the last decade, posing the most violent internal threat faced by the communist government. The group, formed in October 1999 and led by a man identified in Chinese as Abuduai Nisemaiti, had bought nine pistols and a hunting rifle, according to the Friday edition of the Xinjiang Daily. It said police also found 100 bullets, two bow-and-arrow sets and eight cell phones. A police officer in Kashgar, a city about 2,100 miles west of Beijing near the Turkestan and Kyrgyzstan borders, said she hadn't heard of the case. She wouldn't give her name. The newspaper said the group called for the creation of East Turkestan, named for the independent Muslim republic that briefly existed before the communist takeover in 1949. Sympathizers gave the group $16,000 to buy the weapons, the report said. It didn't say whether the group was suspected of having committed violent acts. Chinese officials have tried to stamp out gun running and cut separatists' ties with Islamic militants abroad, especially the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan. The separatists have mainly come from the Uighurs, the region's largest ethnic group, which shares linguistic and religious ties to the Turkic peoples of Central Asia. The biggest clashes between separatists and authorities came in 1997, when hundreds of Uighurs in Yining city rioted against Chinese rule for two days. Bombs exploded aboard buses in the region's capital, Urumqi, and in Beijing. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
People's Daily (Beijing) 9 May 2001 Qin Huasun, a high-ranking Chinese official and senior diplomat, Tuesday lauds in Dar es Salaam the role the UN peacekeeping operations have been playing in Africa and the world at large. "United Nations peacekeeping operations have experienced unprecedented development, as was evidenced by the enlargements of the UN missions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone" said Qin£¬vice chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. He made the remarks at a three-day international seminar on peacekeeping in Africa, which opened Tuesday£¬ Qin, the former Chinese representative to the United Nations£¬said the UN peacekeepers have contributed a lot to easing and resolving regional tensions and tensions, and have thus won acclaims from the intentional community. China has always attached importance to the UN peacekeeping operations, supported the UN's work in the area in accordance with the UN Charter, he said. "In recent years, China has actively participated in UN peacekeeping operations and dispatched over 1,500 person/times to the UN missions in areas as the Middle East, Iraq-Kuwait border, Western Sahara, Ethiopia-Eritrea border, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Liberia, Cambodia, East Timor, Bosnia Herzegovina, etc.," he added. He stressed that it has become clear that adherence to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and norms governing intentional relations, especially the principles of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in member states' internal affairs, is the important basis for successful peacekeeping operations. Qin said that no matter in what way is the UN involved in conflicts resolution, all its actions should help maintain the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country concerned. The actions should reflect the collective will of the people of the country concerned and abide by the principles of impartiality. The peacekeepers should use force only in self-defense or with the prior consent of all parties concerned, he said. China, he said appreciates the contributions by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Southern African Development Community (SADC)and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to the course of peacekeeping in Africa. "China has all along attached importance to African issues and supported the relevant organizations and countries in their efforts to independently resolve conflicts in the region," he said. Qin promised that as a permanent member of the Security Council, China will continue to urge the council to devote more time to discussing African issues and maintaining the region's peace and stability. Qin said the intrinsic link between peace and development, the two main themes of today's world has been widely recognized by the international community, and if the root cause is not eliminated£¬ sooner or later the conflicts will resurface. "The UN should work to eliminate the root cause of the conflicts and help developing the countries, especially the African countries, to get rid of poverty and backwardness. This, and only this, will guarantee genuine lasting peace in the world" said Qin on the occasion.
BBC , 17 May, 2001, China protests over history book The book had claimed the Rape of Nanjing was "not a holocaust" China has stepped up pressure on Japan to revise a controversial history textbook which has been criticised for glossing over wartime atrocities, but Japan has stood firm on the issue. Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the textbook "advocates imperialism and whitewashes... Japan's history of aggression." We should overcome this textbook issue... to make the World Cup a success South Korean ambassador to Japan "The Chinese side demands [Japan] correct the mistakes and... [face] up to history," the China Daily newspaper quoted Mr Wang as saying. Mr Wang also summoned the Japanese ambassador to the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday to deliver a memorandum demanding revisions to the textbook, officials said. Both China and South Korea have made a number of official protests to Japan over the issue in the last two months, and last week Seoul demanded 25 passages in the book be revised. The issue has stirred up bitter memories in South Korea They have accused the book's authors of avoiding references and blame to the invasion of neighbouring countries - namely South Korea and China - and the military's use of sex slaves. According to the China Daily, the text glorifies Japanese colonial rule in north-east China, glosses over the massacre of civilians in Nanjing, and attacks sentences passed against Japanese war criminals. Tokyo argues that the history textbooks, approved by an independent education commission for use by schoolchildren aged 13 to 15 years, do not represent the government's official view of history. Government leaders in Tokyo said China's objections would be noted, but resisted revising the book. "While we cannot make revisions, we will listen sincerely to such criticism and respond sincerely," Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said. "I would like to come up with wisdom to find a way to understand and respect each other's positions so as to improve ties between Japan and China," he added. The prime minister himself has courted controversy by his plan to visit a shrine honoring war dead, including convicted war criminals. China has urged him to consider how the visit could affect Japan's relations with its neighbours. South Korea's Ambassador to Japan Choi Sang-ryong also urged Japan on Thursday to take action to resolve the issue so that both countries could successfully co-host next year's World Cup soccer finals. "One must not erase or distort confirmed facts," Mr Choi said in a Tokyo seminar. Japan's Education Ministry has said that more than 100 changes to the text have already been made to the book, which was written by a group of nationalistic historians. The authors claim that existing texts go too far to accommodate the views of victims in Japan's wartime activities. They argue that wartime rule from Tokyo benefited south-east Asian countries by preparing them for independence.
BBC 17 May, 2001, US promises East Timor support Horta (right) said he felt reassured by Powell (centre) The United States has promised that it will assist East Timor in every way possible once the territory achieves statehood. US Secretary of State Colin Powell made the pledge during a meeting on Wednesday in Washington with Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta, the leaders of East Timor's independence movement, officials said. Indonesia militia killed many during the independence vote "We came out of the meeting really very reassured," Mr Horta, a Nobel laureate, told reporters afterwards. The two leaders had asked for the US support in developing the territory's legal system and economy. The territory has been governed by the United Nations since a 1999 vote for independence from Indonesia, and is due to hold parliamentary elections later this year before proclaiming its formal independence. About 70% of the country's infrastructure was destroyed during violence after the referendum and thousands of people still lack proper housing and essential amenities. Mr Horta attacked the Indonesian justice system for its failure to account for the atrocities in East Timor during discussions. Pro-Jakarta militiamen, with backing from elements in the Indonesian military, waged a campaign of terror in East Timor after the independence vote. Militiamen were blamed for many of the massacres More than 1,000 people were murdered and almost every town was burned to the ground in the violence, leaving an estimated $3bn worth of damage. "We have raised our profound frustration and unhappiness at the way the Indonesian legal system is handling this situation," Ramos Horta told reporters. In particular, he voiced his disappointment at the lenient sentences of 10 to 20 months passed to six East Timorese men for the murders of three members of the United Nations refugee agency in West Timor. "We are outraged. It is an affront to all of us. It discredits completely the Indonesian legal system," he said.
BBC 10 May, 2001 Police are on high alert in Srinagar Six villagers in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have been beheaded in an attack blamed on separatist militants. Police say 11 Hindu villagers were confronted by a group of armed men while grazing cattle in the remote Doda district 250km (150 miles) north-east of Jammu, the state's winter capital. Several hours later, police found six bodies - all decapitated. Three other villagers survived the attack with deep wounds to the throat and are now receiving treatment in hospital. A search is under way for two others who are missing. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the police believe it was carried out by Muslim militants who are known to be active in the area. It is the third time Hindu villagers in the area have been targeted since the Indian Government announced a unilateral ceasefire in Kashmir last November. Militant groups have denounced the ceasefire as a sham designed to influence international opinion and vowed to continue their campaign against Indian rule. Nearly a dozen militant groups are fighting Delhi's rule in Jammu and Kashmir where some 30,000 people have died in nearly 12 years of separatist rebellion. Delhi says Islamabad arms, trains and funds the guerrillas, some of whom are fighting for an independent homeland, while others want a state within Pakistan. Islamabad says it provides the militants with moral, not material, support and has no control over their movement. Supporters of the ceasefire argue that it has helped to create a climate of goodwill by which Pakistan reduced the level of its forces in its part of Kashmir. The two countries have a long-running border dispute over the frontier state, which has sparked two of their three wars in the last five decades.
B'Tselem 8 May 2001 (The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories) War Also Has Rules B'Tselem urges the two sides to comply with international law and refrain from harming innocent civilians Clashes between the IDF and armed Palestinians have increased in recent weeks, resulting in the killing and wounding of dozens of civilians. In some of the instances, the two sides violated international humanitarian law, which restricts the actions that a party is allowed to take in war. The objective of these provisions is to minimize the harm to those who do not belong to the warring forces. The pillar underlying these provisions is the strict distinction between civilians and combatants. Therefore, B'Tselem urges the two sides to strictly comply with the requirements of international humanitarian law, as follows: 1) Prohibition on disproportionate attacks An attack is disproportionate if it is directed against a legitimate target, but the damage and injury that it may cause to civilians is excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. 2) Prohibition on indiscriminate attacks An attack is indiscriminate if it is not directed at a specific military objective or it employs weapons or ammunition which are insufficiently precise to ensure that only military targets will be struck. 3) Prohibition on using civilians as a shield It is forbidden to place combatants or military facilities near a civilian population with the objective of attaining immunity from enemy attacks. However, the violation of this prohibition by one side does not deny the civilian nature of the population in such an instance. That is, the breach of this prohibition by one side does not allow the other side to launch an indiscriminate attack. 4) Prohibition on directing attacks against civilians Clearly, civilians are liable to be injured as a result of clashes between armed forces. However, whatever the circumstances, it is forbidden for civilians to be a target of gunfire, shelling, or bombing of any kind. http://www.btselem.org/
WP 10 May 2001 Lee Hockstader Washington Post Foreign Service Thursday, May 10, 2001; Page A01 JERUSALEM, May 9 – A pair of fresh-faced Israeli 14-year-olds skipped school Tuesday and went strolling near their homes in a Jewish settlement on the West Bank. One was a U.S. citizen, one wore glasses and neither was old enough to shave. Early today the boys' battered bodies were found in a rocky cave in the barren Judean desert, barely a half-mile from their home. They had been bludgeoned with bowling ball-size rocks and were described by Israeli police as so mutilated that one could be identified only by his fingerprints. The murders of Yaakov Nathan Mandell and Yosef Ishran, which police immediately blamed on Palestinians, coincided with a spike in clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Their gruesome deaths served as another reminder of the conflict's capacity to shock even after more than seven months of sustained violence and more than 500 deaths, the large majority of them Palestinian. "This was not the work of humans," said Pini Birnbaum, a Israeli volunteer who helped bring the bodies out of the cave. The slayings followed by only 24 hours the killing of a 4-month-old Palestinian girl in a Gaza refugee camp. Together with the latest gun battles and a report that Israeli bulldozers again entered Palestinian-controlled territory in Gaza, the cycle of death seemed to bury even the most remote hopes of renewed peace efforts. Yaakov Mandell, known as Koby, was born in Israel but lived in Silver Spring, Md., until the mid-1990s, when his parents moved back to Israel and became citizens. They lived in Tekoa, a Jewish settlement built 12 miles south of Jerusalem on Palestinian-inhabited land captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War. Much of the world regards the settlements as illegal under international law barring conquering powers from settling land captured from another country; Palestinians say that continued building of Jewish settlements proves Israel is not serious about making peace. But to children who live in the red-roofed houses at Tekoa, the steep ravines and Hariton cave a half-mile from their fenced-in settlement are a back yard. Many would hike down to the three-mile-long cave for fun. That is apparently what Yaakov and Yosef did early Tuesday, telling only a friend of their plan to play hooky. When they did not come home at the normal time, their parents thought they may have gone to a settlers' rally in Jerusalem. It was not until late Tuesday, when the boys had still not appeared, that a search party set out. And then it was too late. Police said the boys had been beaten by at least three killers who used large rocks. They said the killers dipped their hands in their victims' blood and smeared it on the walls of the cave, where a monk is said to have lived in the 4th century. Israeli police arrested at least 15 Palestinians for questioning. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he was "deeply shocked" by the murders, which he blamed on Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority for having refused to rein in violence. U.S. Ambassador Martin Indyk issued a statement deploring the killings as "vicious," and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher in Washington denounced the "horrible, brutal killing of two youths." Asked about the killings, Arafat called attention to a 3-month-old Palestinian girl who was wounded today as she was carried in her mother's arms, apparently hit by shrapnel during a gun battle between Israeli and Palestinian forces. However, Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian official, said in English at a news conference that "killing civilians is a crime, whether on the Palestinian or the Israeli side." The comment was not reported in Arabic-language Palestinian media. Yaakov Mandell is at least the third U.S. citizen to have died since late September in the uprising against continued Israeli occupation in a third of Gaza and 80 percent of the West Bank. At least 409 Palestinians, 77 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed in the same period. The slaying of the teenagers intensified pressure on Sharon to take tougher action. Jewish settler leaders said the praoper response is to accelerate construction in the settlements. Sharon supports expanding the settlements, many of which he helped establish. But the Bush administration regards expansion as a provocation. Responding to an Israeli newspaper report, the State Department this week slammed Israeli plans to channel more government funds to the settlements. Sharon insists no such decision has been made. In Gaza, Israeli troops made two incursions today into Palestinian-controlled territory, according to Palestinian police. In one case an Israeli bulldozer razed a one-story home on the outskirts of the Rafah refugee camp, close to the border with Egypt, witnesses said. During the demolition, Israeli tanks fired machine guns toward the area and a tank shell hit a Palestinian police station, the witnesses said. The 3-month-old Palestinian baby and her mother were injured by shrapnel from that shelling. Palestinian police said Israeli troops also entered Palestinian territory east of Gaza City and razed Palestinian farmland. The Israeli army said it was looking into the incidents. In separate incidents today, two mortar rounds were fired at the Jewish settlement of Nissanit in Gaza and a roadside bomb exploded as an Israeli army patrol was passing on the border between Gaza and Egypt. Nobody was hurt.
Jerusalem Post 10 May 2001 Knesset committee discusses outlawing incitement to violence By Dan Izenberg The Knesset Law Committee yesterday began discussing a government bill to amend the Penal Law in order to outlaw incitement to violence. The bill is meant to fill the vacuum created by the High Court of Justice when it ruled on November 27, 2000 that the sedition paragraph of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance applied only to members of terrorist organizations. Since then, the state has not been able to prosecute individuals for statements which incite to violence. According to the amendment, the section of the Penal Law dealing with Racism will be changed to deal with "Incitement to Racism and Violence." A new paragraph will be added which states that anyone "issuing a call to acts of violence or publishing anything, including praise, support or encouragement of violent acts, which can incite to an act of violence, will be liable to five years in jail." During the meeting, Attorney-General Elyakim Rubinstein said that freedom of expression is a supreme value and that his office is not quick to prosecute over this issue. However, he continued, faced with the threat to public safety and order, freedom of expression must take a step backwards. He said his office had received many complaints regarding incitement, but has been forced to close them because the law, in the wake of the High Court decision, does not cover the matter. Committee chairman Ophir Pines-Paz said freedom of expression was sacred in a democracy, but one must not use it as a cover for incitement to violence. Israel, he said, is a violent and inflammatory society which lost one Prime Minister partly because of irresponsible incitement.
Reuters 14 May 2001 5 Palestinian Policemen Shot Dead in West Bank By Megan Goldin JERUSALEM, May 14 (Monday) -- Israeli soldiers shot dead five Palestinian policemen in the West Bank early today, hours after bombarding Palestinian security targets across the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said. A Palestinian paramedic, who declined to be named, said his crew found the bodies of five men from the Palestinian National Forces in a hole in the ground west of Ramallah. He said they had been shot with machine guns. It was the highest Palestinian death toll since late March and brought to at least 418 the number of Palestinians killed since a revolt against Israel erupted in September. Hours earlier, Israeli helicopter gunships and naval boats destroyed at least eight Palestinian armored personnel carriers in missile strikes on security targets in Gaza. Helicopters hovered over a security compound 300 yards from Yasser Arafat's Gaza City headquarters before they opened fire. Thousands of Gaza City residents awoke as the ground shuddered from the explosions shortly after midnight. Palestinians and the Israeli army provided conflicting details on the West Bank deaths near Ramallah. A Palestinian security source said the men were killed when Israeli soldiers shelled a checkpoint they were guarding. Mustafa Liftawi, governor of Ramallah, accused Israeli soldiers of killing the men while some slept and others were on guard duty as part of what Palestinians say is Israel's policy of assassinating Palestinian activists. An Israeli army spokeswoman said soldiers on "operational activity" west of Ramallah saw "suspicious figures who were where they were not supposed to be" and opened fire. She said this was the only incident in which soldiers fired at Palestinians in the area early today. "It was probably them," she said. In the Gaza attacks, at least three Palestinian policemen were wounded but none appeared to be in serious condition. It was not immediately clear whether buildings near the armored vehicles were seriously damaged. The army said it targeted Palestinian armored personnel carriers in Gaza City, near the Jabalya refugee camp and in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. A Palestinian security official said at least eight armored vehicles were destroyed in the strike. An army spokeswoman said the attack was the result of an "unprecedented number of mortar attacks" against Jewish settlements in Gaza and Israeli farming communities nearby in the last four days. She said 17 mortar bombs had been fired. Palestinian Public Security Chief Abdel-Razek Majaydeh called the missile strike "an unprovoked attack." He said at least eight helicopters took part in the attack in Gaza City. "The Israel Defense Forces will continue to attack those who carry out terror and those who send them . . . in every way we see fit," the army said in a statement. In the West Bank, at least two Jewish settlers were wounded when Palestinian gunmen fired at their cars late Sunday. At least a dozen Jewish settlers are among the 79 Israelis killed in the fighting. Thirteen Israeli Arabs have also died.
WP 17 May 2001 Sudden Death in a Tin Shack Questions Surround Israeli Raid on Quiet Police Post By Lee Hockstader BEITUNIA, West Bank, May 16 -- It is a sad little police checkpoint -- no more than a corrugated tin shack, two squeaky bunk beds, a rusty refrigerator, a filthy stove and a TV set with bad reception. Unprotected in the middle of the main street in this village eight miles north of Jerusalem, the post straddles an invisible border between Israeli- and Palestinian-ruled West Bank land, unheralded but for a 40-foot-high billboard that towers overhead, plugging Viceroy cigarettes as "The BIG TASTE of America." So when Israeli gunners opened fire on the shack, the killing was swift and efficient. Just before 2 a.m. Monday, without warning or apparent provocation, the Israelis fired on the shack with M-16 assault rifles and a heavy machine gun from two nearby positions on high ground. The barrage left five Palestinian policemen dead or dying and a sixth, a traumatized teenager, weeping and whimpering for his mother. All told, the killing took perhaps two minutes, maybe less. The Palestinians never fired a round. Israeli officials now concede the attack in Beitunia was a blunder, although they blame it generally on Palestinians for creating an atmosphere of violence. They say they thought the checkpoint was manned by Palestinian commandos involved in attacks against Israelis, not by the glorified traffic cops who residents of the area say had been there for months. The bloodbath at the Palestinian police post is part of a fierce spike in the conflict that has been raging in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since last September. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, having promised to squash the Palestinian revolt and under mounting pressure from hard-liners, has authorized his army to take the offensive against the Palestinians, and it has responded with vigor. Almost every day, the Israeli military launches ground and air attacks in the West Bank and Gaza that are not necessarily in response to specific acts of Palestinian violence. Rather, they are designed to hit the Palestinians hard and, in the words of government officials, "keep them off balance." Tonight, for instance, Israeli helicopter gunships pounded Palestinian security headquarters in the thickly populated Gaza Strip and in Jenin, at the northern end of the West Bank. Palestinians, for their part, have intensified a campaign of grenade, mortar and sniper attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, embraces the uprising and has warned Israel that attacks to put it down will only lead to more violence. "What's happening now is a feud, and it has the logic of a feud," said Avishai Margalit, an Israeli philosopher. "Yesterday you killed these two of mine and now I'll kill these two of yours. Sharon said in so many words he's going to escalate, and that the level of escalation is up to the army's imagination." The police post here in Beitunia was put up in 1999, soon after Israel transferred control of the village to Palestinians as part of the peace agreements begun in Oslo in 1993. When visiting foreign dignitaries moved from Israeli- to Palestinian-controlled territory to visit Arafat, they often passed through the Beitunia checkpoint, with one side making the handoff to the other in what was then a program of security cooperation. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's convoy went past the post in February. Israeli officials say Palestinian guerrillas sometimes used the checkpoint as a base of operations. But Palestinian neighbors say Arafat's guerrillas in fact operated against the Israelis from a hilltop several hundred yards to the west, never from the police post. In more than a dozen interviews today, neighbors of the checkpoint said there had been no shooting at all in the area for about a month until Monday's attack. Israeli officials concede that all was quiet in the area early Monday when they opened fire. Inside the shack, three of the men were sitting down to a postmidnight dinner -- tomato and onion stew, sweet tea, Pepsi and cake -- with the television on. A fourth was walking in from the attached kitchen with a plastic sack of flat bread. Two others were apparently just outside on the road; one was listening to Palestinian radio on a portable stereo. The shots rang out without warning, said Fakr Abu Zayed, whose house and shop are directly across the street from the checkpoint. The gunfire was coming from a seven-story apartment building just up the hill to the west, where Israeli soldiers had been stationed for several weeks, and from the direction of an Israeli military base to the south, he said. Abu Zayed, 31, had been watching CNN with his wife. He ran to gather up his five children, age 10 months to 9 years, and move them to a room away from the direction of the gunfire. Then, perhaps a minute later, he heard one of the police officers cry out for an ambulance. He called one, then waited. When it arrived a few minutes later he crept outside and joined the medics. In front of the shack, he said, two of the men lay dead, shot in the chest, back and head. Two others lay just inside the threshold. One had been hit in the back of the head with a bullet, which smashed through his teeth as it exited his mouth. The flimsy tin walls of the shack had been pierced by at least 13 bullets, leaving small round holes where rifle rounds had entered and large jagged ones where the larger machine-gun slugs went through. Blood was spattered everywhere. The post commander, Lt. Ahmed Zakout, 26, was shot in the chest. He apparently staggered out back and into a pit. He died there, accompanied by the lone survivor, Pvt. Ahmed Najjar, 19, who seemed for a time to have lost his mind, Abu Zayed said. All the dead officers were from Gaza, and none had been able to return home since the outbreak of violence last fall. One of the dead officers, Sgt. Salah Abu Amra, 32, was a father of six children; he had not yet met his youngest daughter, born in Gaza a few months ago. But he had bought her some dresses in anticipation of seeing her, said the Palestinian police area commander, a 32-year-old captain. The captain, who asked not to be identified, said he had searched for an explanation for the Israeli action and could think of just one. "It's an escalation," he said. "They're not interested in a peaceful solution. They want to whip the Palestinians into a frenzy and provoke further demonstrations so they can blame the violence on us." Israeli officials rejected the notion that they had targeted the police officers, but they seemed to agree on little else. After initially saying that troops had opened fire on "suspicious figures" and arguing that the Palestinians had opened fire from the police post, the Israeli army shifted explanations. Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz, the chief of staff, said Tuesday that Israel "did not intend to get this result" when the troops began shooting. The army is conducting an investigation and will express regret if necessary, he said. But a spokesman for Sharon, Raanan Gissin, insisted that Palestinian terrorists have operated freely from the area near the checkpoint, firing at Israeli civilian and military targets. Pressed about whether Israel would apologize, he noted several grisly recent slayings of Israeli settlers in the West Bank, including a 22-year-old woman shot by snipers Tuesday night and two teenage boys stoned to death last week. "Apologize?" he said. "For what? Did Arafat apologize for killing that [Israeli] woman up there or the two [Israeli] boys? "We did not initiate the violence in the first place," he said. "We didn't go in there because the Israeli army suddenly decided we wanted to play Rambo. We went in there because they haven't taken the necessary measures to prevent violence. They left us with no other choice."
Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv) Thursday, May 17, 2001 New bill will ban terrorist sympathizers from Knesset State prosecutor mulls charges for MK Ahmed Tibi By Gideon Alon Ha'aretz Knesset Correspondent The Knesset plenum yesterday approved in a preliminary reading a bill preventing the election to the Knesset of any person or party supporting a terrorist organization or enemy state. The private member's bill, initiated by MK Yisrael Katz (Likud), is a direct continuation of a Knesset row which occured two days ago, when MK Ahmed Tibi (Ta'al [Arab Movement for Renewal]) verbally attacked Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz from the podium. "He is a fascist and is responsible for the murder of children and the murder of Palestinian policemen," Tibi exclaimed, sparking a barrage of heated reactions from MKs on the right. Tibi was ejected from the Knesset following repeated efforts to bring him to order. In response to Tibi's assault on the chief of staff, State Prosecutor Edna Arbel will examine whether there is room to initiate an investigation against the Ta'al MK. The coalition chairman, MK Ze'ev Boim, sent a recording of the raucous Knesset session to Arbel so that a detailed transcript of Tibi's charges against Mofaz can be examined. Boim described Tibi's statements as: "a mad escalation in the verbal extravagances of the Arab MKs." Some 40 MKs from the coalition parties voted in favor of the bill, while 19 voted against. These were the MKs of Meretz and the Arab parties and MK Collette Avital of the Labor Party. MKs Ophir Pines-Paz and Eitan Cabel (Labor) abstained. MK Katz introduced his bill with an attack on the Arab MKs whom he accused of identifying with the Hezbollah and the Hamas. "Whoever supports Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Hezbollah and the Tanzim [Palestinian paramilitary groups], and is in this house, will not be allowed to run for the next Knesset elections," Katz said. "There are Tanzim in the territories and there are political Tanzim in the Knesset. We saw the temporary leader of the political Tanzim, Ahmed Tibi, stand here and attack the chief of the IDF who is defending the citizens of the country from this Tanzim," Katz added. Katz described Tibi and other Arab MKs as, "leaches who suck the blood of Israeli democracy" and said that they should be eradicated using legal means. This in turn resulted in yet another loud response from the Arab MKs. MK Issam Makhoul (Hadash) accused Katz of, "trying to instill political terror," calling him a "thug" and "a little [Joerg] Haider." MK Michael Kleiner (Herut) asked the Knesset security officer yesterday to end Tibi's security detail saying that, "there is no room for special security for a provocateur." MK Taleb A Sana (United Arab List) described the passing of the Katz bill as a new peak in racism within the Knesset and accused Katz of conducting a political witch-hunt against Arab MKs. Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit said that the state had the right to protect itself against those who wish to destroy it, but warned that preventing parties from running in the elections is a radical step and would cause serious damage to the right to political representation and equality.
BBC 16 May, 2001, Israel's peaceniks fight apathy Peace campaigners want an end to settlements like this By BBC News Online's Lucy Walker Another day, another death: The pattern of attack and counter-attack in Israel and the occupied territories has become depressingly routine. At least 425 Palestinians, 80 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have been killed since the intifada or Palestinian uprising erupted in September last year. The Israeli peace movement, in shock since the collapse of the peace process and election of hardliner Ariel Sharon, is beginning to try to revive support. But it may find the weight of national apathy overwhelming. Routine George Mitchell: His report may provide a new impetus "The horrible thing that is happening to Israelis is that they are getting used to it (the violence)," wrote Israeli author David Grossman in the Guardian newspaper this week. "Most Israelis," he wrote, "now believe the peace process has dissolved and become part of history. Even worse most of them now believe that it was a mirage from the start." "Israel is slipping back into the psychological state that is most dangerous to it, that of the victim, the persecuted Jew." The vast majority of Israelis support the government's policies, but they also support a freeze to settlements - there's an inherent contradiction there Gala Golan, Peace Now This impression is disputed by Joel Esteron, managing editor of Ha'aretz and long time peace camp supporter. "We Israelis live in a bad neighbourhood and we adjust to it. There's a feeling that this is a phase we have to go through - it's not apathy," he told BBC News Online. Mr Sharon may be under pressure from the right-wing to be tougher than he is, but, Esteron argues, there is a hidden pressure from the left not to exaggerate either. That is the mood that campaigners such as Peace Now want to tap in to. Campaign Peace Now has begun to sign up sympathetic Labour members of the Knesset, influential former members including the former Justice Minister, Yossi Belin, together with dovish members of other parties, to revive the peace movement. There's chaos and we learn how to function despite the chaos Orly Biti, lawyer Next weekend it will begin a national campaign under the slogan: "Yes to a freeze on settlements. Yes to an end to the violence." But it is going to have a hard time motivating the public. "Right now we in Israel are at such a low point that I'm not sure their voice will be heard," says Orly Biti, a lawyer in Tel Aviv. Over the past month, people have just got used to the situation, she says, explaining that the sense of shock she felt at the start of the intifada was gradually replaced by a more philosophical view. "There's chaos and we learn how to function despite the chaos," she told the BBC. "I think it will carry on until we realise that it's futile, but people are prepared to put up with a lot before then." With no end in sight to the daily violence, it is not clear how much they will be expected to put up with. This is a government that doesn't have a political agenda - it has a survival agenda "I don't think there are many steps left before we effectively reoccupy the territories. I know the government and the army don't want to reoccupy them, but there isn't much else they can do", says Peace Now's Gala Golan. "The irony of this situation is that even the army says there's no military solution". Submission Joel Peters, a senior lecturer in the department of politics at Ben Gurion University, believes Israelis are growing weary of the daily diet of violence, but that that alone is not enough to revive the peace camp. "The peace movement is paralysed because of the belief that a good offer was put on the table at Camp David and Taba [in Egypt] and was rejected out of hand by the Palestinians - they are no longer partners." Without a partner there can be no dialogue and without dialogue, no peace, is how the argument goes. Shimon Peres: Called for fresh talks with the Palestinians The peace campaigners have been hurt by the Palestinian rejection of the plan put forward by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. With little sign of movement from the Palestinians, the pro-peace lobby is struggling to find an issue around which it can mobilise. It may have found one in the single issue of settlements, specifically in Israel's response when it comes to the recommendations of the Mitchell inquiry - the investigation led by former US senator George Mitchell. According to a version leaked in the Israeli press, the report says: "The cessation of Palestinian-Israeli violence will be particularly hard to sustain unless Israel freezes all settlement construction activity." Peretz Kidron is a veteran campaigner with Yvesh Gvul, or "There's a limit", a group of refusnik volunteers and conscripts who will not serve in the occupied territories. People will accept a lot of hardship and bloodshed - the situation is tolerable Peretz Kidron, peace campaigner He is struggling to revive the peace movement. "One group - you could call them the 'disappointed Barak peaceniks' - thought you could have peace on easy terms that wouldn't upset most Israelis, but when the Palestinians held out for sovereignty over their mosques and the right of return for refugees that began to fall apart." "The myth now is that Palestinians don't want peace on any terms, they won't stop until they throw Israel into the sea. It's revived the siege mentality," he says. He says people do not believe there is an alternative to the violence. "Only when Israelis think that they have a choice will the mood begin to change."
AP 20 May 2001 Arab Families Tour Holocaust Museum By KEVIN WACK, KIBBUTZ LOHAMEI HAGHETAOT, Israel (AP) - Israeli Arab children guided their parents through a museum from another world Sunday - a display of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. The Holocaust, the killing of 6 million Jews by Nazis and their collaborators, was one of the most traumatic events in Jewish history. For Arabs, too, it was traumatic, for a totally different reason. In the eyes of many, the Holocaust led to the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. Arabs refer to that event as Al Naqba, or ``the catastrophe,'' because after five Arab armies invaded the newborn state, about 750,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes. So it has been difficult for Arabs to empathize with the trauma of the Jews. The object of the family trip to the Holocaust museum at this kibbutz collective settlement, founded by Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, was to overcome the barrier. Mustafa Ahmed, an Israeli Arab, said he knew little about the Nazi genocide until Sunday night. He walked with his arm around his youngest daughter, as older daughter Enas guided the family through the Ghetto Fighters Museum with other high school students from the town of Acre. ``It's a beautiful museum,'' Mustafa said afterward. ``It's talking about the terrible, horrible thing (of the genocide).'' Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's citizens. Coupled with their sympathy for the current Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza, they harbor decades of resentment over mistreatment by successive Israeli governments. The students from Acre, which is split between Jews and Arabs, brought their families as part of a program emphasizing the universal lessons about democracy and human rights that can be drawn from the Nazi genocide. More than 1,000 students from 20 schools participate in the six-year-old program, run by the museum's Center for Humanistic Education. It includes discussions not only about the Holocaust, but also about the founding of Israel in 1948. Manar Fawakhry, 18, a Muslim, completed the program two years ago and later became an employee. ``When I came here,'' she said, ``I had lived for years with fears of the Jewish community due to the stories that my grandma was telling me about 1948.'' The program made a difference. ``I learned about the Holocaust from a humanistic point of view, and slowly I have changed. I thought the Jewish people were bad, were criminals, were monsters, and I realized they are not - they are just human beings like you and me.''
AFP 30 Apr 2001 Indonesian police arrest separatist Maluku leader JAKARTA, April 30 (AFP) - Indonesian authorities in the riot-torn province of Maluku on Monday arrested the leader of a separatist movement following the raising of its flag in Ambon last week, a report said. Alex Manuputty, the executive chairman of the Front for the Sovereignty of Maluku (FKM), was arrested at the provincial police headquarters after he answered a police summons, the province's police chief Brigadier General Firman Gani was quoted by the state Antara news agency as saying. The arrest came with the revocation of a stay of arrest issued on January 2, and on the instruction of Maluku Governor Saleh Latuconsina, who is responsible for the state of civilian emergency there. The instruction was dated April 26, Gani said. Manuputty presided over a ceremony to hoist the South Maluku Republic flag at his home in the provincial capital, Ambon, on April 25. The flag, raised between the Indonesian flag and that of the United Nations, flew only briefly before it was hauled down by police. Gani also expressed the hope that in two week's time at the most, the police would already be able to determine whether Manuputty had violated the law and his case could be forwarded to the courts. Manuputty, he said, has asked for his trial to be handled by an international court, but Gani said the demand would be forwarded to the state court which would decide whether to grant the defendant's wish. Police in Ambon could not be reached for immediate comment. The flag raising ceremony was attended by more than 100 FKM supporters and included the reading of the April 25, 1950 proclamation of the South Maluku Republic. The South Maluku Republic movement was banned by the country's first president Sukarno and its followers were allowed to either remain in Indonesia or leave the country for the Netherlands, the former colonial power. The movement has reappeared in Ambon following the drawn-out religious conflict there and in other islands in the Malukus which have seen intense fighting between Muslims and Christians for more than two years. Fighting between Christians and Muslims first erupted in Ambon in January 1999 and spread rapidly to other islands in the Malukus, otherwise known as the Spice Islands. More than 4,000 people have been killed in the violence and up to half a million of the three million inhabitants have fled their homes for internal refugee camps or to other islands.
SMH (Sydney) 1 May 2001 By Lindsay Murdoch The notorious East Timorese militia leader Eurico Guterres will be free within weeks after a Jakarta court yesterday sentenced him to six months' jail for inciting violence. The court said the four months he had spent under house arrest in Jakarta while awaiting the outcome of his trial should be deducted from the sentence. Human rights activists and United Nations officials in Jakarta last night described the sentence as a slap on the wrist for Guterres, 26, who is accused of crimes against humanity at the height of the East Timor bloodshed in 1999. Prosecutors had sought a 12-month jail term. Guterres appears set to escape other prosecutions over atrocities in East Timor because of a decree approved last week by Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid that opens the way for a special human rights court to be established in Jakarta to hear East Timor atrocity cases - but only in relation to crimes committed after the August 1999 The Indonesian Attorney-General's office last week assured the Australian Embassy that those involved in pre-ballot incidents would be prosecuted. Indonesian prosecutors have spent more than a year investigating crimes allegedly committed by Guterres before the ballot, including the massacre of 12 people at the home of the independence leader Manuel Carrascalao. The Herald has learned Indonesia's armed forces pressured Mr Wahid's Government to approve the cut-off date so that soldiers and officers could not be prosecuted for crimes committed during Indonesia's brutal 25-year occupation of East Timor. A senior military officer said the decree's timing was designed to "focus the investigation". "If it was not limited they might as well bring up [events] since 1975, and it will never end," the officer said. "Is it fair if they charge us with things we did in the past? I mean, why now? Why didn't they cry out when the government issued the order to us? The TNI [military] was only doing what the country asked it to do." The UN has questioned the cut-off date, and human rights groups in Jakarta are urging Mr Wahid to amend the decree. Guterres told about 75 supporters outside the court yesterday that he did not accept its verdict and would appeal. He was accused of inciting his men to oppose security personnel and take back 19 weapons they had handed over to police in the West Timor border town of Atambua last September. The court was told Guterres was angered when police stopped him meeting Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who was in town to witness the handing over of militia weapons.
Ballot violence: six to go free By Lindsay Murdoch, Herald correspondent in Jakarta Jakarta has dropped prosecutions against six people who have been under investigation over crimes against humanity in East Timor, including the notorious militia leader Eurico Guterres. The Attorney-General's office confirmed yesterday that a presidential decree restricted it to prosecuting only 12 of 18 cases it had prepared for a special court to be set up in Jakarta. United Nations officials and human rights activists have expressed outrage that the decree signed by President Abdurrahman Wahid last week stipulates the court can hear only crimes committed after the August 30, 1999 ballot on East Timor's independence. Most of the atrocities under investigation were committed before the ballot, but the military pressured Mr Wahid to approve a ballot cut-off date so its members could not be tried for crimes committed during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor. A spokesman for the Attorney-General yesterday backed away from an earlier denial that cases would be dropped. "Yes, because of what is stipulated in the presidential decree we're going to set aside some of the cases, meaning they will not be brought before the court," he said. He could not say which cases would be set aside, but only 12 would now proceed. One long-planned prosecution of Guterres relates to the massacre of 12 people at the home of the independence leader Manuel Carrascalao in April 1999, five months before the ballot. Television footage shows Guterres ordering his men to attack and "kill if necessary" members of the Carrascalao family. UN officials and human rights activists have described a six-month jail sentence imposed on Guterres by an Indonesian court on Monday on a separate charge as a "slap on the wrist". The cut-off date will also mean that those responsible for the May 1999 massacre of up to 60 people at a church in Liquica will go unpunished. Even before Mr Wahid signed the decree, an original list of 22 suspects named by the Attorney-General's office sparked outrage from human rights activists. The list excluded high-ranking military officers identified by Indonesian and UN investigations as being responsible for the violence, including the former armed forces commander, General Wiranto, Major-General Zacky Anwar Makarim and Major-General Syafrie Syamsuddin. The Attorney-General's office has also omitted from its list of prosecutions four militia leaders who were originally named as suspects, on the grounds that it cannot locate them. One is Izidio Manek, accused of leading a massacre in the grounds of a church in Suai in September 1999. But on April 18 Indonesian soldiers brought Manek to a government office in the West Timor border town of Atambua, where he was interviewed by the Herald, then allowed to return to a refugee camp where he lives with three wives and a girl, Juliana dos Santos, whom he allegedly abducted from Suai. The Attorney-General's office has also dropped an investigation into the September 1999 murder in Dili of a journalist for the London Financial Times, Sander Thoenes, citing lack of evidence. A Jakarta-based human rights group, Solidarity Without Borders (Solidamor), met prosecutors on Tuesday to protest at their failure to prosecute those responsible for the East Timor violence, including General Wiranto, and called for the decree to be amended so that crimes committed before the ballot can be prosecuted.
VOA News 4 May 2001 Dayak Leader Arrested for Inciting Violence Indonesian authorities have arrested a prominent Dayak leader for allegedly inciting violence that left hundreds of Madurese migrants dead in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo. Mohammed Usop, the head of the Dayak Community Research Association in Palangkaraya, was arrested and flown to Jakarta Thursday as a suspect in the ethnic violence. Authorities said Mr. Usop was being questioned at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta. Estimates of the death toll from two weeks of clashes between the indigenous Dayak tribesman and migrants from Madura Island last February range from more than 200 to 10,000.
Antara (Jakarta) 7 May 2001 N Rumors that a `veteran brigade` has been prepared by the military elite to retake East Timor to Indonesia were proved nonexistent, a police officer has said. "We have so far seen no movement or an effort to retake East Timor. Such a wish may only come from `insane people`," Maj. Brig. Apoloniaro da Silva said here Monday. The Indonesian police leadership has appointed Apoloniaro head of the Montaain Police Post located on the border between East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and East Timor. Apoloniaro is an East Timorese who shows high nationalism to Indonesia making him entrusted to keep the social order and security on the border area. Meanwhile, Chief of the Indonesian Defence Forces (TNI)`s information service Major General (in the Air Force) Graito Usodo recently admitted there were certain elite groups that still want to encourage one-time East Timorese fighters on the border area to retain the former Indonesian 27th province. "I make clear here that such an intention (to regain East Timor) is impossible," Usodo asserted. He added that TNI and the Indonesian people do not tolerate any group or whoever against the stance of the Indonesian state and people who have sincerely reconized and accepted the East Timorese independence. "We have to wholeheartedly accept the East Timorese independence which has been recognized by the international community. All peoples or nations must respect the independence and sovereignty of East Timor," he added. On rumors about intimidation from the military and militias on the East Timorese refugees, Apoloniaro said they (the military and militias) have even supported the East Timorese` return to their home land. "A lot of one-time members of TNI/the Indonesian State Police (Polri) from East Timor have return to their home town in East Timor. Such rumors were spread only by certain persons who dislike the Indonesian government and military," he said.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) 11 May 2001 Indonesia - OCHA Consolidated Situation Report No. 23 04 - 11 May 2001 . 2. ACEH General Situation The security situation has not changed much during the past week. The security apparatus (police and the military) conducted "sweeping operations" and GAM members were reported to continue launching surprise attacks, both of which often resulted in loss of life. Both sides accused each other of atrocities. More than a dozen people were reported killed last week. According to the National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), from January 2000 until February this year, there have been 673 killings, 161 disappearances and 907 cases of torture. The media claimed that so far this year more than 500 people have been killed. A human rights NGO said 132 people have been killed since 11 April. Two bombs exploded on Sunday, damaging a pipeline and destroying a pumping station of a vacant Exxon-Mobil plant outside Lhokseumawe, according to a DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) reporter on the scene. The International Forum for Aceh (IFA) has called on the Indonesian government to pursue a good-faith dialogue with GAM to end the conflict in Aceh. IFA made the call at the end of a conference on Aceh held at the American University in Washington last Friday. Human rights activists, student leaders, academics and others from Europe, Asia (including Aceh and Indonesia) and North America participated in the forum. It also called on the Indonesian government to stop pursuing military solutions to the conflict. When initially the political party with the largest number of seats in the parliament--PDI-P--rejected the implementation of the Islamic Shari'ah Law in Aceh, which is included in a special autonomy bill on Aceh currently being deliberated by the parliament, President Abdurrahman Wahid quickly stated on Monday that the Syari'ah would be imposed on Muslims only and the minorities in Aceh would have nothing to fear from it. Non-Muslims would still fall under existing civilian laws, he said. PDI-P leaders quickly changed their mind. But a prominent and widely respected Muslim scholar, Nurcholish Madjid, voiced his concerns over the plan because he said several countries that had tried it never implemented Syari'ah Law successfully. He cited Pakistan as an obvious case of such a failure. He said it was beyond the capacity of the government, or anyone, to impose true Syari'ah Law. Tempo Interactive reported that the office of the Aceh chapter of the national human rights commission (Komnas HAM) in Banda Aceh was shot at on Tuesday by a group of police on patrol. No one was hurt in the incident. The American oil company ExxonMobil said Wednesday it still had no plan to resume natural gas operations in Aceh. In Jakarta, a powerful bomb blast ripped through an Acehnese student dormitory in South Jakarta on Thursday afternoon, killing two men and injuring two others. The blast caused extensive damage to the building. The police are investigating it. Head of the Golkar Party's Aceh chapter and member of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), retired Maj. Gen. H.T. Djohan (63), was shot dead Thursday. Police accused GAM for the killing. Truck drivers plying the route between Medan and Banda Aceh are still on strike due to security concerns on the road. Bus drivers have also joined the strike. 3. IRIAN JAYA General Situation A delegation of members of the Dutch parliament and the European Union visited Jayapura last week to assess humanitarian needs and to identify relevant areas for assistance, particularly health and education. The secretary general of the Papua Council Presidium (PDP), Thaha Al Hamid, predicted that the central government would reject a draft bill on special autonomy that would give the province the lion's share of its natural wealth and wide-ranging self-rule, including an all-indigenous upper house and a locally recruited police. However, 60 national legislators endorsed the proposal last Thursday in Jakarta. The bill, drafted by Irianese academics, was initiated to win the hearts of the Papuans long resenting the rule of Indonesia. It still has to go through a plenary session of the parliament and be accepted by the executive. The police have started a campaign to take down all Morning Star flags, claiming that the conditions in which the flags were allowed to be raised had been breached. The Papua Council Presidium said the police had made a rash decision. An agreement reached November last year between the government and Free Papua Movement (OPM) leaders allows each district to raise a single flag of the separatist movement besides a larger Indonesian flag. In Manokwari, (where five people died last week in a clash with the police over the flag issue) the police also conducted a sweeping operation against separatist attributes such as T-shirts and hats. Yosefa Alomang, or Mama Yosefa, a leader of the Amungme people in their fight for justice against PT Freeport Indonesia, has been reported missing since 23 April, when she was supposed to leave the country for San Francisco to receive the Goldman Environmental Prize. Theys Eluay and four other leaders of the pro-independence Papua Council Presidium-Don Flassy, John Mabor, Reverend Herman Awom, and Thaha Al-Hamid-are scheduled to stand trial in Jayapura on Monday 14 May. All five are charged with treason for demanding independence and raising an independence flag. Theys promised his followers would not provoke security disturbances. 4. CENTRAL KALIMANTAN General Situation The Dayak from the Katingan tribe have held a two-day ritual in Sampit last Friday to mark the end of their two-month war against Madurese migrants, to reconcile with themselves, to send the spirits of their ancestors-who they believe possessed their warriors during the war-back to where they came from, and to appease the spirits of those who were killed during the recent violence. At least 500 people, mostly Madurese, were killed and more than 80,000 fled the province. A participant said it was now possible for the Dayak to reconcile with the Madurese. A Human Rights Investigation Commission (KPP-HAM) will investigate the violence. Police detained in Jakarta the former rector of Palangka Raya University, KMA Usop, for his alleged role in inciting the recent interethnic clashes between indigenous Dayak and Madurese migrants in Central Kalimantan. Usop was picked up by helicopter last Thursday from his residence in Central Kalimantan's capital of Palangkaraya and transported to Jakarta. He is currently in custody at the Police headquarters. Central Kalimantan Dayak leaders protested the arrest at the provincial legislative council, saying it could spark another security problem. In Pangkalan Bun, two Madurese died last week following two days of ethnic violence. Police said that as of Saturday the situation has remained calm. Whether it was related to Usop's arrest was not clear. 5. CENTRAL SULAWESI General Situation Antara news agency reported that more than 150 victims of Poso's sectarian riots in May-June last year have been admitted to a psychiatric asylum for serious psychological disturbances including post-traumatic stress disorder. According to official data, more than 18,850 IDPs are now in Palu, the provincial capital, while more than 10,000 IDPs are living in camps in Poso. Antara news agency reported that the police last Friday questioned three people, who have been sentenced to death for their part in the Poso conflict, about a number of alleged masterminds who are still at large. Antara reported that soldiers had arrested a man in Luwuk town on Monday in whose home they found an undisclosed amount of explosive materials and homemade weapons. He was suspected of being behind the plan to bomb three churches in the province. 6. MALUKU General Situation Tension has subsided somewhat compared to last week, yet interaction between the two communities remains quite limited. Activities related to bringing the two communities together have been very limited and confined to the Governor's office. Sporadic explosions and gunfire were heard around Ambon City but became less frequent during the week. On 10 May, a shooting incident in Ambon Bay left two people wounded (one marine and one civilian). The police kept a tight security cordon around the commander of the Laskar Jihad Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jamma'ah Muslim group, Ja'far Umar Thalib, who was detained at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta. He was arrested last week in Surabaya on the charge of sowing hatred against Christians and of ordering the execution of a Jihad member accused of either adultery or raping a local woman by being stoned to death according to the Syari'ah Law. The group's deputy commander Aip Syarifuddin said Monday the group would sue the national police over the arrest. He also said 600 members of the Laskar Jihad had arrived in Jakarta from other parts of Java to stage a street protest against the arrest. He also blamed an "international conspiracy". Thursday media reports said Ja'far had ordered 100 more of his troops to enter Maluku. Jihad followers hacked into the websites of the Australian embassy and the national police in Jakarta, diverting visitors to a Jihad site. Wednesday news reports said a team of Indonesian judges would head to Maluku to handle the trial of Alex Manuputty, the executive chairman of the Front for the Sovereignty of Maluku (FKM), accused of illegally hoisting his group's separatist flag in Ambon. However, Manuputty has been flown to Jakarta for questioning. Fears over large protests after the respective arrest of Alex Manuputty (FKM) and Jafar Umar Thalib (Laskar Jihad) have not materialized. Unknown assailants in Ambon Bay shot at a motorboat, California Star, on 4 May. No casualties were reported in the accident. On 15 May the Maluku Chief of Police, Firman Gani, will be replaced by Edi Darmadi. Gani will become Chief of Police in Makassar, South Sulawesi. Food AcF is departing for Buru and Saparua for food distribution. On Saparua, Sirisori Islam is being targeted with double rations of food and a single ration of UNICEF-provided Vitadele (complementary food) for young children. In Buru over 20 villages are being targeted in the north with food and hygienic products. Distribution in south Buru will commence next week. Health IBI (Indonesian Midwives Association) delivered assistance to 280 families, 210 children under five, and 110 pregnant and lactating mothers of IDPs in Passo, Baguala sub-district. The assistance was in the form of household items, family planning packages, and additional food for children. The MSF-B Team in south Buru reports of anaemia among many children but no severe malnutrition. Clarification on last's week report: the MSF-B surgical activities reported on concerns assessments and support and not performing surgery itself. Non-food Items Several hundred families have returned to the mixed area of Waiputih and Waikose in north Buru. Mercy Corps has thus supported a local NGO to provide non-food items to both communities. Psychosocial Assistance UNICEF will conduct an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation & Repositioning) training 14-15 May to train trauma counsellors. The majority of the 35 participants are from Maluku. Water and Sanitation With slightly less tension around the city, the drivers of the UNICEF-sponsored garbage collection project felt comfortable enough to resume the activities again. Other The Mercy Corps supported NGO centre will be open starting next week and provide a neutral space for interaction between local groups from both communities. 7. NORTH MALUKU General Situation With Governor Muhyi Effendi as a witness, Christians and Muslims of Ibu subdistrict in northwestern Halmahera pledged in a ceremony last week to maintain a lasting peace among them. Many IDPs from both faiths have returned to the area. Similar pledges were also made in the area of Hibua Lamo in Tobelo on Saturday. A boat carrying 107 returning IDPs went missing after leaving Ternate port last Tuesday. It was on its way to Loloda sub-district in Halmahera. Local government radio station RRI reported Sunday that 3,000 North Maluku Christian IDPs have returned from Sorong, Irian Jaya, to Bacan sub-district. The coordinator for the Repatriation Programme of North Maluku district, Zainuddin Fatah, said the government would return Christian IDPs from Bitung, North Sulawesi to Obi Island. The radio station also reported that two weeks earlier, on 25 April, Christians and Muslims from Fritu and Sagea village in Weda sub-district announced their reconciliation. Both sides agreed to let all IDPs return to their original homes. 8. WEST TIMOR General Situation Chief of the Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu last Friday dismissed rumours that there was a scenario to turn Atambua into another Ambon or Aceh. The official Antara News Agency reported that Udayana Military Commander Maj. Gen. Willem T. da Costa stated on Saturday that in the past two months, 12,000 East Timorese refugees residing in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province had been returned to East Timor. No other source confirmed such numbers. Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said on Saturday that his office was considering appealing the light sentences handed down to six East Timorese for the murders of three UNHCR staff last year, which drew outrage from the UN and human rights activists. Kofi Annan said it was "wholly unacceptable". The UNHCR called it a "mockery". The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) secretary-general Asmara Nababan said the punishment is similar to that given to a bicycle thief. The six were sentenced to between 10 and 20 months in jail. The media speculated that the UN and democratic countries would increase pressure for the establishment of an international tribunal. President Gus Dur has just established an ad hoc human rights tribunal, which was also criticised because it will not prosecute crimes committed before the East Timor ballot in 30 Aug 1999. The Secretary of the Refugee Affairs Taskforce, Lt. Col. Suwandi said the taskforce would end its duties after the registration of refugees in June this year. Maj. Brig. Apoloniaro da Silva, newly appointed head of the Motaain border police post, said in Kupang Monday that rumours of a "Veteran Brigade" set up by the military elite to retake East Timor were baseless. Earlier, TNI spokesman Maj. Gen. Graito Usodo admitted of the existence of such a group, saying that the government did not support it. The meeting of the East Timor National Parliament (CNRT) and UNTAS (a coalition of pro-Indonesian East Timorese groups) on Thursday and Friday in Bali failed to arrive at an agreement on issues regarding the reconciliation process. Wirasakti Military Commander, Col. Budi Heriyanto was quoted as saying that refugees who reported their return to the taskforce would arrive safely in East Timor, NTT Ekspress daily reported Tuesday. Secretary General of UNTAS, Filomeno de Jesus Hornay said, Radar Timor reported Tuesday, that the registration form would include the options to return or resettle. Udayana military Commander Maj. Gen. Willem T da Costa said his battalion is ready to take over security at the border. He said the military have started recruiting troops locally to be placed in Atambua and Kefamenanu. Bishop Basilio Nascimento from Baucau is scheduled to visit West Timor between 28 and 31 May to meet refugees and pro-Indonesian leaders. The chief of staff of UNTAET, Nagalingam Parameswaran, will accompany him. The Vice Governor of East Nusa Tenggara, Johanis Pake Pani, said Tuesday the government would no longer change the date of the refugee registration, scheduled for 6 June. He said Thursday UNTAS are willing to assist the government in the information campaign for the planned registration. He said 64 international and national observers would be involved. Local media reported Thursday that former pro-integration militia commander Joao Tavares warned other militias not to hamper the registration to be conducted throughout West Timor next month. At the same time, UNTAS announced that the number of refugees in West Timor was 112,243 persons. UNTAS leader Noberta Bello said it supported the registration.
BBC 17 May 2001 The students were detained in Jayapura By Richard Galpin in Jakarta Indonesia's human rights commission has recommended that senior police commanders in the province of Irian Jaya should face investigation over alleged human rights violations. The commission has just handed a report to state prosecutors detailing the killing of three students in Irian Jaya last December, allegedly by the police. There is no choice but to conduct a real, good investigation Asmara Nababan, human rights commission The students were suspected of being supporters of the independence movement in the province. The human rights commission has named 25 officers as either being directly involved, or being responsible because of their senior rank. Both the provincial and district police chiefs are reportedly included in the list of names. Students beaten The human rights comission carried out a detailed investigation into the killings, and has delivered a damning verdict. It describes how the police dragged more than 20 men and women from their dormitory in the middle of the night. They were beaten with rifle butts and sticks, before being taken to the police headquarters in the provincial capital, Jayapura. They were forced to strip and were burnt with cigarettes. Two men were beaten to death - a foreign journalist witnessed the killing of at least one of them. According to the report, another man was shot dead, and several others seriously injured, including one who was paralysed. All this was the response of the police to a raid by separatist rebels on a local police station in which two officers and a civilian were killed. No connection However, investigators believe there was no evidence linking the students to the rebel attack. Asmara Nababan, a senior member of the human rights commission, says state prosecutors in the Attorney General's office must now act decisively. "If we want to prove to our community and to the international community that this nation really wants to protect human rights, there is no choice for the Attorney General's office but to conduct a real, good investigation," he said.
NYT 1 June 2001 5 Powers Delay Vote on Easing Iraq Trade By BARBARA CROSSETTE NITED NATIONS, May 31 — The five major powers on the Security Council agreed today to postpone for 30 days a vote on a more generous trade policy for Iraq. The extension is intended to give experts time to evaluate a detailed list of items that the United States wants to prevent Saddam Hussein's government from buying unless it obtains international approval. A meeting on Wednesday in Budapest among Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his counterparts from Britain, France and Russia appears to have resulted in a compromise to extend the existing "oil for food" program for Iraq for a much shorter period than Russia had been seeking. Britain and the United States wanted no extension, but aimed for a vote this week on a new plan that would lift restrictions on the sale of civilian goods to Iraq while trying to tighten controls on oil smuggling and military purchases. The full Council may vote on Friday on temporararily extending the current program, which faces a renewal deadline of midnight Sunday. Iraq immediately threatened again to cut off oil production if the extension is adopted. The program is usually renewed every six months. "Iraq will not deal with it," Ambassador Mohammed Aldouri told reporters today as the Council met on the extension. "Consequently Iraq will not conclude any oil contract based on it, and this resolution will be for us just another dead resolution." Diplomats and some United Nations officials say the Iraqi threat, if carried out, may not disrupt the oil market as much as Mr. Hussein may expect. This year, Iraq withheld oil from the market, and prices dropped, a diplomat said. A temporary extension of the "oil for food" program under which Iraq may sell unlimited quantities of oil to buy a wide range of goods, will give a divided Security Council some time for negotiations. Still, diplomats expect sharp debate over the American list of goods that Washington wants to monitor so that Iraq cannot reconstruct weapons by diverting material or equipment that also has civilian uses. The Russians and French have questioned some items. Secretary Powell acknowledged to reporters on the plane returning to Washington from Budapest that "the difficulty, of course, is in the details," adding that the list of items was "excruciatingly detailed."
BBC 8 May, 2001 Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has insisted there can be no revision of controversial Japanese history books that have upset neighbouring countries by glossing over Japan's militarist past. South Korea is furious about the books and Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo has summoned Japan's ambassador to Seoul to hand him a list of proposals for changing them. The list was compiled after a panel of government officials and experts spent several weeks analysing the books. The new Japanese premier has said that the books could not be "revised again" as they had already been approved by the education ministry with certain modifications. "But we need to take sincerely what the Republic of Korea says and study what steps we can take in the future as there are differences in the perceptions of historians on both sides," he said. South Korea has been at the forefront of Asian protests over the books, which have emerged as a pressing problem for Mr Koizumi since he took office on 26 April. South Koreans say Japanese books gloss over the war Seoul has requested changes to 35 passages in eight newly-approved textbooks. Most of the disputed passages are contained in one history book written by a group of Japanese nationalist historians. The book, like several others, omits any reference to the tens of thousands of women - most of them Korean - forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military. In protest over the books South Korea has announced that it is delaying a joint naval exercise due to take place in June. South Korea's defence ministry said the joint drill set would be postponed indefinitely unless Japan made an effort to rectify the school books. "The defence ministry believes that South Korea-Japan military exchanges should be pushed ahead in trust based on a correct historical view and on public support," it said in a statement. The ministry also warned that proposed visits to Seoul by top Japanese defence officials in July could be delayed. Court case On Wednesday, a group of four National Assembly members will travel to Tokyo. They are trying to get a local court ruling which would ban the production and sale of the textbooks. Emotions still run high in South Korea over the textbook issue, where there are still bitter memories of Japan's 35-year occupation of the country. Contentious issues in textbooks, 1. Dismissed the Nanjing Massacre as "nothing like a holocaust" , 2. Described the invasion of the Korean peninsula as an unopposed annexation, necessary for Japan's security, 3. Alleged that Japan's wartime rule prepared Asian countries for independence from European colonial masters.
The Japan Times 18 May 2001 Koizumi rejects Beijing's demand for text revision Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Thursday rejected China's demand to revise a controversial junior high school history textbook, but said he will work to improve ties with Beijing. "We cannot carry out revisions," Koizumi told reporters at his official residence. "But we will take the criticism in a serious manner and try to improve Japan-China relations by thinking of ways to understand and respect each other's positions." ... "All the descriptions China has demanded be revised are points that have already been revised in response to the ministry's instructions," a senior official of the Education Ministry said on condition of anonymity. "We have used sufficient caution on those points." The official said China's request caught ministry officials off guard. Akinori Takamori, spokesman for the Society of History Textbook Reform -- the group that authored the controversial textbook -- described China's demands as biased. "We hope the Chinese government will understand there are various views on history," he said. "It has presented a demand that contains their thoughts, which are more nationalistic and biased compared with those of South Korea. We hope the Japanese government will take a firm stance on the issue." The Chinese government summoned a senior Japanese diplomat to the Foreign Ministry in Beijing on Wednesday and presented a list of demands to change the contents of the textbook. Beijing sees the book, which has been approved by Tokyo for classroom use, as Japan's attempt to rewrite the history of the 1931-1945 war with China. According to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing, Cheng Yonghua, deputy director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's Department of Asian affairs, delivered a memorandum detailing the demands to Yoshio Nomoto, the No. 2 official in the embassy. Beijing raised eight issues with the textbook and asked the Japanese government to implement the changes, the embassy said. Among these are the omission of any reference to the vast biological experiments the Japanese military conducted on live prisoners of war in China. China's state-run news agency Xinhua said Beijing demanded that Japan take measures to correct "serious mistakes in the history textbook fabricated by rightist scholars." Xinhua said Cheng told the Japanese diplomat that the history textbook compiled by the group of rightists "advocates imperialism, and whitewashes and denies Japan's history of aggression." Unless the textbook is revised, the Chinese official said, it "will seriously mislead Japanese society and the younger generation in their viewpoint on history." The textbook has also drawn strong protests from Seoul, which charges that it distorts the history of Japan's occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
BBC 8 May, 2001 South Korea says the textbooks contain factual errors South Korea has formally demanded that Japan make 35 revisions to eight history textbooks. It says the eight books glorify Japan's colonial rule of the Korean peninsula and gloss over atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army. The books describe World War II as the Great Asian War and dismiss the documented 1937-38 massacre of the Chinese population of Nanjing as "nothing like the Holocaust." South Korea says the books gloss over the war The most controversial book is by nationalist academics of the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, to be published by Fuso Publishing Co. South Korea wants 25 changes made to the book, which, like four others, omits any reference to the tens of thousands of young women - most of them Korean - forced to serve as sex slaves for the Japanese military. Promised jobs in factories, the girls were tricked into working in brothels. Some were abducted. 'Embarrassing' Japanese officials say the publishers dropped references to the so-called "comfort women" because of requests from teachers who felt awkward discussing sex with their pupils. A panel of South Korean officials and experts spent a month analysing the books, which are due to be used at junior high schools in Japan from next April. They came up with three categories of objection: 1. erroneous descriptions, 2. misguiding interpretations, 3. intentional omissions of historical facts One book suggests that Japan's 1910-45 colonisation of the Korean peninsula benefited the Korean people by leading to the construction of railways and irrigation systems. It says the annexation was unopposed and that the Japanese Government considered it necessary for Japan's stability and for the defence of Japan's interests in Manchuria. South Korea says the book is trying to "beautify" Japanese history and to pretend that its colonial activities had international legal recognition. The list of revisions also include changes to accounts of ancient and medieval history, most of which South Korea says is described inaccurately in the books. For example, one book talks of the existence of a Japanese colony on the Korean peninsula during the Yamato period (300-550) - a theory rejected by South Korean historians as speculation. The Japanese education ministry approved the books in April after making 137 changes to the text to try to avoid angering Asian neighbours. And despite South Korea's objections Japan insists it cannot revise the books again. "There cannot be further modification unless the textbooks contain obvious factual errors," said minister of state and chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukada.
NYT 3 May 2001 Central Asia Braces to Fight Islamic Rebels By DOUGLAS FRANTZ, AMARKANDYK, Kyrgyzstan — In the foothills of the majestic Pamir Mountains and in the ageless villages of the Fergana Valley, spring brings warm days, new leaves in the apricot orchards and deep fears about another season of violence and tension. Across a vast swath of Central Asia, former Soviet republics have tried to strengthen their armies in anticipation of what have become annual attacks by radical Islamic insurgents financed from Afghanistan and operating with ever greater precision and sophistication from remote mountain bases. These shadowy rebels, known as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, have mounted deadly raids into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, aiming to put these shaky states on the defensive and to carry their cause gradually eastward, toward the repressed Muslim minorities of western China. These guerrillas are the latest armed band to emerge from the ruins of the deadly conflict between American-backed rebels and the Russians in Afghanistan. The eventual coming to power of the Taliban united Washington and Moscow in determination to isolate Kabul's new brand of radical Islamism. The rebels' leader is a 32-year-old Uzbek, Juma Namangani, who became radicalized during his service as a Soviet paratrooper in Afghanistan and trained opposition soldiers in the civil war that tore apart Tajikistan from 1992 to 1997. For the leaders of this region's wobbly and young democracies, the rebels — and their goal of carving an Islamic state from the territory of some Central Asian countries — cast a large, menacing shadow. "This is the most serious type of threat, and we will continue to face this danger for many years," said President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous country of 4.5 million people... . In the Soviet era, religion was strictly controlled until the more relaxed policies of Mikhail S. Gorbachev made the creation of small Islamic groups possible. After independence in 1991, the five Central Asian countries tried to maintain control over the revival and prohibited Islamic political parties. By the late 1990's, thousands of people had been beaten and imprisoned in Uzbekistan, where the government imposed tight restrictions on unofficial religious groups, saying they advocated creating an Islamic state. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan came into public view in August 1999 when its members kidnapped four Japanese geologists in the Pamir Mountains. They were freed after the Japanese government paid a reported $6 million ransom. The insurgents are demanding the overthrow of the Uzbek government and creation of an Islamic state in the fertile Fergana Valley, which covers territory in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Last summer the insurgents entered the valley from several directions and clashed with soldiers in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, resulting in 100 or more deaths. The rising tension offers Russia an opportunity to regain a foothold in territories where its influence declined as the independent states aligned themselves with the West. Russian military officers and members of its internal security force took part in anti-terrorist exercises throughout April in southern Kyrgyzstan. In Tajikistan, Moscow is setting up a military base and stationing 12,000 Russian troops to patrol the border with Afghanistan. So far, Moscow's offers to send soldiers to combat the insurgency have been rejected by Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and spurned by Kazakhstan, which has remained free of fighting so far but doubled its military spending to $171 million this year and dispatched the bulk of its troops to the southern border with Uzbekistan this spring. After years of relative tolerance, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan have responded to what they perceive as the Islamic threat by drafting legislation to impose new controls on religious activities. The measures provide broad latitude to ban religious organizations and impose criminal penalties, prompting Western diplomats to object strongly in private to government officials of both countries. The diplomats say they are warning that the steps could lead to a backlash, increasing discontent and building support for the extremists in regions where, so far, there is little outward sympathy for the insurgency.
Ashrawi to 'Post': Don't blame TV incitement for violence By Jerusalem Post Staff (May 17) - The propaganda ubiquitous on official Palestinian television is not a matter of policy, nor does it constitute incitement, according to Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi. The real cause of Palestinian violence, she maintains, is "the extreme provocation presented by the Israeli government and Israeli army actions." Speaking to Jerusalem Post Radio this week, Ashrawi rejected assertions by watchdog groups that the Palestinian airwaves are used as part of a deliberate effort to spur popular hostility to Israel. If anything, she said, Palestinian TV suffers from a lack of planning. "My main problem with the Palestinian audio-visual medium is lack of quality, lack of standards, and probably too much improvisation without really addressing the real issues," she said. "The fact they do not discriminate or exercise any kind of evaluation on the quality without the use of censorship." She explained that the "occupation of Palestine" is the real reason for current Palestinian behavior. "The occupation has filtered down into everybody's home, into the most mundane detail of our daily lives. It has, in a sense, incited people to respond to the brutality that they see. They see themselves as daily victims in every aspect of their lives and that feeds a reaction." Though Ashrawi was reluctant to condemn egregious acts of violence by Palestinians, such as the October lynching of two reservists in Ramallah, she said that in general she discourages such behavior. "I have been on Palestinian television repeatedly, and I have spoken out against violence, against targeting civilians, against stereotyping, against doing unto others what was done unto you. I've even tried to explain the Holocaust and the horror of it and the fact that we do not make comparisons and so on. "Why look only at the negative? If I look at Israeli television, I can also hear statements that are horrific, racism on the rampage. Officials, even ministers in this government are, with impunity, blatantly making statements that are purely racist and full of hate. "We are not two equal parties fighting. There is a predominantly civilian population besieged, fragmented, being made to starve almost, with no rights and no protection. At the same time, you present a false symmetry as though these are two equal parties in a state of war. This is not the case." Ashrawi also had words of warning. "Palestinians are not in the habit of succumbing to force. No matter how much [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon and his lethal and... fundamentalist government would escalate in terms of violence, they're not going to have acquiescence or submission." Peace, she suggested, will come only when the "racist, exclusionary" mechanisms of Zionism are dismantled, especially when it comes to territory. "Once the Israeli public understands that the occupation itself is the root of all evil, so to speak, and that we do need to end the occupation, that we do need to have new and positive constructive relationships between both peoples, then there will be a move" toward reconciliation," she said.
Reuters 27 May 2001 Muslims To Cut Ties With Israel DOHA, Qatar, May 26 -- Muslim countries, following the lead of the Arab League, agreed today to halt political contacts with Israel to pressure it to end eight months of clashes with Palestinians. The 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) said in a statement at the end of a one-day meeting in Qatar that it had decided "to halt all political contacts with the Israeli government so long as the aggression and blockade against the Palestinian people and its National Authority continues." The statement also called for a halt in normalizing ties with Israel and for the closure of Israel's missions and offices in member countries. The 22-member Arab League recently called for a freeze in ties with Israel, placing pressure on the Islamic organization to do the same. Arab League nations also belong to the OIC, the world's largest Muslim organization, representing 1.2 billion people. Earlier, Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, made an emotional appeal to the OIC for support in the uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also called for a resumption of peace talks. Arafat urged the delegates to take steps to isolate Israel to force it to halt its attacks on Palestinians. © 2001
PAKISTAN: Islamabad denies increasing aid to Taliban ISLAMABAD, 1 May (IRIN) - The government of Pakistan on Tuesday denied US allegations, contained in a State Department report on Monday, that it was backing the Taliban Islamic Movement of Afghanistan with increased military assistance. "This is a totally incorrect conclusion," Major General Rashid Qureshi, spokesman for Pakistani Chief Executive General Pervez Musharraf, told IRIN. "I truly question the information and reasoning behind this. There seems to be a concerted effort by many western countries to isolate Afghanistan further."
BBC 2 May, 2001, Curfew follows Sri Lanka Muslim protest The authorities in Sri Lanka have imposed a curfew on the central town of Mawanella after clashes between police and Muslims. Reports say the trouble began when armed men attacked shops owned by members of the minority Muslim community in Mawanella which lies about eighty kilometres east of the capital, Colombo. The Muslims then staged a protest which led to fighting between them and the police. At least six people were injured. The army has sent troop reinforcements to enforce the curfew. Correspondents say the long-standing ethnic hostility between the Buddhist Sinhalese and Hindu Tamils in Sri Lanka rarely spreads to include Muslims, who comprise only about eight per cent of the overall population.
BBC 6 May, 2001 Sri Lankan politician arrested Police in Sri Lanka are reported to have arrested a Muslim politician in connection with rioting in the capital, Colombo. Officials said the leader of the Muslim United Liberation Front, Mujibar Rahaman, was taken in for questioning. The rioting erupted outside a mosque after Friday prayers, prompting the government to impose an overnight curfew. About a dozen other people have already been arrested. The trouble followed clashes between Muslims and the Sinhalese majority community in the central town of Mawanella last Wednesday, in which two people were killed.
BBC 16 May 2001 An influential Muslim party in Sri Lanka has asked that it be part of any peace process in the country involving the government and Tamil rebels. Mr Solheim will travel to rebel areas The Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC) made the demand after talks with Norwegian envoy Erik Solheim in Colombo. "Any settlement reached will not be seen as legitimate if the Muslims are not involved in the negotiations," according to SLMC leader and Trade Minister Rauf Hakeem. Mr Solheim held talks with the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Tuesday in his latest attempt to start a dialogue between the government and Tamil Tiger rebels. Balance of power Mr Hakeem said he fully supported the Norwegian peace initiative - but wanted to make sure his party was involved in any negotiations to end the long-running civil war. Reclusive Tamil leader Prabhakaran: Not known if he will hold talks The SLMC, which has 10 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament, holds the balance of power and is vital to the survival of President Kumaratunga's government. Mr Solheim's peace mission is expected to continue with a visit to the northern jungle stronghold of the Tamil Tigers. But it is not clear if he will meet the reclusive rebel leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran. The Norwegian envoy last week met the Tamil Tigers' chief negotiator in Europe, Anton Balasingham, who was quoted in press reports as saying that he was given a proposal on a possible ceasefire. The Sri Lankan Government says there can only be a joint truce after peace talks begin, while the rebels have said they will not start talking until a ban on them has been lifted. More than 60,000 people have died in nearly two decades of fighting in the island's civil conflict.
Syria Times (Damascus) 6 May 2001 [Full Text] President Bashar al-Assad delivered the following welcoming speech: His Holiness Pope John Paul II, On behalf of the Syrian Arab people, on my own behalf and on behalf of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic, I warmly welcome Your Holiness and I wish you a happy stay in our country, which enjoys your visit. Your Holiness, While visiting Syria you are treading the land of history, the homeland which hosted the most ancient civilizations in the world, and was a beacon which spread its light towards humanity throughout many centuries during which most regions of the world obtained guidance from its light. From Syria, which protected Christianity after Jesus Christ, Apostle Paul proceeded, preaching, with the other Disciples of Christ, the new religion in various parts of the world and calling for fraternity, justice and equality. From Syria as well Islam spread throughout the world advocating justice, love and equality among human beings with no distinction between one and another except by God fearing. Today, Your Holiness arrive as a dear guest among a people all of them worship the only God, solicit the help of the Almighty, live together in amity and harmony, work for the high standing and prosperity of their homeland, and are proud of their ancient past and of the several civilizations of their ancestors which lift for them a rich historic heritage that made of Syria a homeland of torelance and love and a sanctuary for the persecuted as well as a meeting point of heavenly religions that have spread incessantly throughout history. This is confirmed by the many relics of worship houses in various parts of Syria, the pontification of eight Popes from Syria to the Holy See in the Vatican, and the presence of the headquarters of three Oriental Patriarchates in Damascus. Almighty God, praise be to him, sent to us apostles and prophets to teach us how to avert going astray and to guide us to the straight path. His will was that their journey be one of struggle and suffering for the sake of consolidating the principles to which they were devoted. All of us have learnt a great deal of the suffering and agony of Jesus Christ at the hands of those who resisted the divine and human principles and values. He preached, in the forefront of which are love, tolerance and equality among human beings. Jesus Christ wanted his Disciples to sustain these principles and to protect people from a suffering such as His. As Head of the Holy See in Rome, Your Holiness embody the summit of responsibility for maintaining those values, especially that there are those who invariably attempt to subject all people once and again to the journey of ailments and agony. Therefore, our brethren in Palestine are being murdered and tortured, justice is being violated, and as a result territories in Lebanon, the Golan and Palestine have been occupied by those who even killed the principle of equality when they claimed that God created a people distinguished above all other peoples. We notice them aggressing against Moslem and Christian holy sites in Palestine, violating the sanctity of the Holy Mosque (Al-Aqsa), of the Church of Sepulcher in Jerusalem and of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. They try to kill all the principles of divine faiths with the same mentality of betraying Jesus Christ and torturing Him, and in the same way that they tried to commit treachery against Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). The application of heavenly tenets requires taking a stand against those who oppose them. Equality means that dealing with other peoples should not be governed by psychological complexes or claims of distinction above other peoples. Justice means restoration of rights to those who deserve them. Land and houses in Lebanon, Syria and Palestine belong to their owners. It also means return of the refugees to their homeland. Love means refraining from killing Arabs out of hatred, and to teach children not to bear malice against others. Truth is realized by refraining from distorting current and historical facts and from claiming rights and a history which have no basis. Thus we say that we are committed to just and comprehensive peace which restores the land in full to its owners in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions, allows the return of the refugees to their homes and leads to the establishment of the independent state of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital. Our rights are confirmed by heavenly laws, by his-ory and by international resolutions. Your Holiness, we highly appreciate your efforts for the benefit of humanity, and for spreading love among people, as well as your efforts in defence of the victims of injustice. We feel that in your prayers when you recall the agony of Jesus Christ you will remember the peoples of Lebanon, the Golan and Palestine who are tormented and they suffer suppression and persecution. We expect Your Holiness to be on their side in their endeavor to regain what was unjustly usurped from them. Again I warmly welcome Your Holiness in Syria. Thank You. http://www.teshreen.com/syriatimes/s-su/apolitic-s003.htm
Reuters 6 May 2001 By VICTOR SIMPSON John Paul II became the first pope to enter a mosque Sunday, calling for brotherhood between Christians and Muslims and stepping across a sensitive line in his campaign for better relations among different faiths. Vatican and Syrian flags decorated the Omayyad Mosque in the old walled city at the heart of modern Damascus as the 80-year-old pontiff slipped off his shoes as tradition requires and entered the mosque. Leaning on a cane, he stumbled slightly at the threshold and while crossing the carpeted floor of the vast, white-columned hall glittering with chandeliers. The visit to the mosque lasted one hour and 35 minutes. He walked with Syria's top Muslim cleric, Sheik Ahmad Kuftaro, who is in his late 80s and also walked with a cane. Papal aides quoted John Paul as telling Kuftaro: ``I can say I am very happy.'' The visit was also a natural step in John Paul's longtime campaign to heal the wounds separating Christians, Muslims and Jews. In 1986, he became the first pope to visit a Jewish synagogue. After leaving the mosque, the pontiff urged Muslims and Christians to ``turn to one another with feelings of brotherhood and friendship, so that the Almighty may bless us with the peace which heaven alone can give.'' The mosque visit pointed out some of the frictions. Plans for a joint Muslim-Christian prayer at the mosque were dropped - apparently to avoid hurting Muslim sensitivities. And since the mosque stands on the site where a church was located 12 centuries ago, some Syrians questioned whether the pope was trying to claim the site back for Christianity. The pope's visit to Syria, which began Saturday, has also brought him into the riptides of Arab-Israeli rivalries. In his speech welcoming the pope, President Bashar Assad urged the Vatican to side with Arabs in their dispute with Israel and referred to what he described as Jewish persecution of Jesus Christ. In Israel, reaction to Assad's comments was stern. President Moshe Katsav on Sunday said Assad's statements were ``racist'' and ``anti-Semitic,'' while Deputy Foreign Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior called on Roman Catholic leaders to reject such statements ``with revulsion.'' In Los Angeles, Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said Assad's comments showed that Syria had no interest in Middle East peace. ``Rather than use the occasion of a first-ever visit of a pope to his country by offering his people a vision of peace and tolerance and a better tomorrow, Bashar Assad continues the path of his father by offering up almost a daily menu of hate and bigotry,'' Hier said. John Paul's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told reporters Sunday that ``the pope will absolutely not intervene. We are guests of this president and he has expressed his opinion.'' He added that the church and John Paul both have spoken out against anti-Semitism ``on numerous occasions.'' But Kuftaro picked up the theme touched on by Assad, calling for Christians to line up with Muslims against ``Zionist Jews.'' In comments after the mosque tour, the mufti accused Israel of attacking Palestinians and destroying their homes and urged the West and the Vatican to take ``a stand that is more than just decisions, prayers and wishes ... in order to stop this brutal massacre against the children of Christ and Muhammad.'' Banners outside the mosque also referred to the Arab-Israeli conflict: ``There will be no peace without a peace based on justice.'' The pope, however, concentrated more on Muslim-Christian ties. John Paul has visited a number of countries with Muslim majorities, starting with Morocco in 1985. But he had never before entered a mosque, and no pope before him had, either. ``It is the first time ever in 2,000 years of Christianity that a pope is visiting a mosque,'' said Navarro-Valls. The chief organizer of the papal trip, Cardinal Roberto Tucci, said the pope's Syrian hosts had insisted that no visit to Damascus would be complete without a stop at the Omayyad Mosque. The pope's main interest was in a shrine inside the mosque where tradition holds that the head of John the Baptist is believed buried. Christian pilgrims in Damascus often pay their respects at the white marble shrine resembling a large coffin and surrounded by an iron cage. Just outside the mosque compound is the tomb of Salaheddin al-Ayoubi, or Saladin, who led the Muslim armies that wrested Jerusalem from Christian Crusaders in the 12th century. In 1986, John Paul made the first ever papal visit to a synagogue, going to Rome's monumental main synagogue along the Tiber River and alongside the former ghetto where some of his predecessors had confined the city's Jews. He has also worked for better relations among Christian denominations. Three days ago in Athens, he issued a surprisingly sweeping apology for wrongs committed by Roman Catholics against Orthodox Christians. The pope - who is retracing the biblical travels of St. Paul the Apostle on a six-day pilgrimage to Greece, Syria and Malta - began the day with an open-air Mass for some 35,000 people in the Syrian capital's Abbasid Stadium. ``In this holy land, Christians, Muslims and Jews are called to work together with confidence and boldness and to work to bring about without delay the day when the legal rights of all peoples are respected and they can live in peace and mutual understanding,'' the pope told the stadium crowd, speaking in French.
WP 9 May 2001 by Howard Schneider - President Bashar Assad, sustaining an anti-Israel tone audible through much of Pope John Paul II's visit to Syria, used the pontiff's departure today to defend a widely criticized view connecting the persecution of Jesus to modern-day Israeli policies against the Palestinians. As the pope left for Malta to end a six-day, three-country journey that began Friday in Greece, he steered a neutral path and did not publicly address Assad's comments on Israel and Jews. The pontiff called for adherence to U.N. resolutions -- interpreted here as endorsement of Arab calls for Israel to withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan Heights -- and appealed "to all the peoples involved, and to their political leaders, to recognize that confrontation has failed and will always fail." But Assad, 35, exhibited the opinionated steadfastness for which his late father, Hafez Assad, was legendary. He used the moment to press on with an outlook rejected in much of the world, but that is never far from the surface in a country where tourist sites offer pamphlets explaining why the Jews could not have built the pyramids in Egypt and historians offer books like "A Synagogue Within the Church" about alleged Jewish plots to take over the Vatican. "There are many people in this world who are still afraid to even mention the historic facts," Assad said. That was seen as a response to criticism of his remarks when the pope arrived on Saturday, when Assad said Jews persecute Palestinians the way they persecuted Jesus and plotted to assassinate the prophet Muhammad. The State Department called his comments "as regrettable as they are unacceptable." The Israeli president, Moshe Katsav, called them racist and anti-Semitic. But Assad said today efforts to play down those historic wrongs paved the way for contemporary Israeli violence against the Palestinians, "adopting double standards, using the logic of might and arrogance instead of using the logic of right and justice." At a time of widespread Arab anger against the Israelis, Assad has been the most pointed among Arab leaders in his criticism of the Jewish state, a sign that the rise to power of a younger generation will not necessarily temper opinions when it comes to the chief issue dividing the region. Since taking over from his father last June, Assad has taken several quick steps that speak of change. Although cautious on all fronts, he has moved to create a private banking system, allowed development of more modern communications and permitted a level of political debate unheard of in the 30 years his father was president. Another indication of change came today when the pope's departure provided the occasion for Syrian officials to release one of their estimated 800 political prisoners, freeing a journalist jailed since 1991 for questioning the conduct of legislative elections. But the issue of Israel is one that allows little room for change here, or in many parts of the Arab world. Emotions in many places are still shaped by Arab defeats at the hands of Israeli forces and, in particular, the 1967 war in which Israel seized the Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. It has since withdrawn from Sinai, but still controls the Golan, 80 percent of the West Bank and a third of the Gaza Strip. Careful distinctions are often drawn between the Israeli government and Jews in general, a people the Koran, the Muslim holy book, says is to be respected. But seven months of violence, in which about 400 Palestinians have been killed, seem to have tested the limits of such tolerance. Equating Israelis to Nazis has become commonplace, a comparison offensive to Jews in general. Assad did it at a recent Arab summit meeting, and officials of the United Arab Emirates and Iran have done it as well. It is a staple in some Cairo newspapers. In a Cairo suburb where the Israeli ambassador lives, swastika graffiti have remained in place on nearby walls and one pharmacy posted a sign with a red no-entry slash across a images of a dog, a lizard and the Star of David. In Qatar, among the more tolerant of Persian Gulf states, the government-sponsored Islamic Web site says of the current dispute: "Jewish ambitions are clear and open. They do not have any intention to pull back from . . . aggressive ambitions." The theme arises frequently in conversations in Syria.Although peace with Israel is the officially voiced Syrian policy, the pope's visit engendered no rosy visions of Syrians and Israeli children cavorting in the fields of the occupied Golan, of their businessmen conducting trade or of their governments swapping ambassadors. "The world now will discover the truth about Israel. Israel is starting to lose. The future is against it," said Ibrahim Moussa, a Damascus shopkeeper who was among thousands gathered for the Pope's visit to Kuneitra. Feelings encountered here contrast sharply with the common Western view that Israel represents the return of the Jews to their historic homeland. Here, to the contrary, the creation of Israel in 1948 is seen not just as the theft of land from the Palestinians, but as the imposition of a foreign, Western culture in the Arab and Muslim world.
AP 9 May 2001 Assad Reverts to Father's Policies DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - President Bashar Assad, almost year into his rule, is reverting more and more to the policies of his autocratic father and - when it comes to Israel - is speaking more harshly than Hafez Assad ever did. Greeting Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II on a four-day visit to Syria that ended Tuesday, the president put the blame for Israeli-Palestinian violence on Israel. He then went a step further to mix politics and religion, saying Israelis ``tried to kill the principles of all religions with the same mentality in which they betrayed Jesus Christ and the same way they tried to betray and kill the Prophet Muhammad.'' The reaction in Israel and the West was outrage. Governments condemned the remarks as anti-Semitic, as did editorials in major American newspapers. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior said: ``We hoped that after the Holocaust such statements would be a thing of the past.'' But analysts in the Arab world believe Assad's anti-Israel rhetoric is earning him fans among Arabs enraged by Palestinian deaths in seven months of clashes in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The 36-year-old Assad needs that popularity at home since Syria's economy remains a shambles. Rami Khouri, a Jordanian political analyst, said Assad also was speaking out of conviction. ``He is making these statements partly because he believes them and because his people as well as many others in the Arab world believe them,'' Khouri said. ``The hard-line remarks increase his credibility and legitimacy in the Arab world and among his people as a new leader.'' But Gehad Auda, a political scientist at Egypt's Helwan University said other Arab leaders should be nervous that Assad, in attacking the values of another nation, may have gone too far. ``There are rules for attacking the Israelis. We will live with (the Israelis) all our lives ... we want them to respect the rules and procedures,'' Auda said. The Vatican has generally sidestepped Assad's comments, though it has strongly condemned anti-Semitism. During his visit to Syria, the pope repeatedly called for all in the Mideast - Arab and Israeli, Christian and Muslim and Jew - to seek peace. On Tuesday, as he saw the pope off, Assad was unrepentant. He noted the Arabs share a Semitic past with Israel and said: ``Regrettably, there are still people in this world who are afraid even to mention historical facts and ... accuse us, we, Semites, of being anti-Semitic.'' After the angry response from the West, however, Syria sought to soften the criticism Tuesday with a statement saying Assad's remarks had been misinterpreted. It noted - correctly - that the president did not refer to Jews by name ``because his aim was not to tarnish or incite hatred against the followers of any divine faith'' but to demand an end to ``bloody'' acts by Israel against the Palestinians. Assad's comments also disappointed some Israelis and others who had made much of his youth and the years he spent studying medicine in England, hoping that exposure to life in a democracy would make him more moderate than his father. Now Israeli newspapers are writing that Assad's statements belie his Western education. Columnist Efraim Sidon wrote in the daily Maariv that instead of being an up-to-date member of the Internet generation, Assad was turning out to be ``a patholigical anti-Semite who links the words Israel and Nazi in every speech.'' Those who hoped for a different Assad may have overestimated his links to the West and underestimated how much his thinking was shaped by father. He was a young adult when he went to London for postgraduate study. Most of his life was spent in Syria, and certainly he was trained as a politician here. Hafez Assad - who brought stability to Syria after a steady string of coup d'etats in the 1950s and '60s - set up the machinery for Bashar to rise to power. In his last years, the senior Assad also had tried to move toward peace with Israel and warmer ties with the United States, seeing this as the avenue for ending Syria's isolation. But peace talks with Israel have broken down, and Bashar Assad's latest comments seem to lessen chances for their renewal. His remarks could have been expected - at least in tone - considering Assad's recent statements about Israelis. At an Arab summit in March, he referred to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as ``a man of massacres, a man of killing and a man who hates the Arabs,'' and he described the society that elected Sharon as ``even more racist than Nazism.''
BBC 17 May 2001 A Vietnamese Roman Catholic priest, who is an outspoken critic of the country's human rights record has been arrested on charges of anti-government activities. A Vietnamese official said Thadeus Nguyen Van Ly was detained at his home in Hue, central Vietnam for "spreading propaganda against the government". Nguyen Van Ly is continuing to conduct an insane campaign of sabotage, provocation and defiance Military newspaper In March, Mr Nguyen gave written testimony at a US government hearing in Washington, and urged the Americans not to ratify a trade pact until human rights in Vietnam improve. Shortly afterwards he was placed under house arrest and denounced in the state-run media as a "traitor" for urging the US to link improved trade to guarantees of religious freedom. Vietnam has expressed anger about delays in the US Congress in ratifying the trade pact, which would give the two countries greater access to each others markets. 'Erroneous actions' In a statement from Paris, the outlawed Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam said another priest, Thich Quang Do, 73, had been ordered to appear before a people's court in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday to explain recent "erroneous" actions. Officials accuse Mr Nguyen of threatening public security At the time of the house arrest order in March, official media called for Mr Nguyen to be put on trial and punished severely for his defiance of the communist authorities. An armed forces newspaper said he should be "punished severely by the courts" for his persistent defiance of the regime." The propaganda charges Mr Nguyen faces carry penalties of 10 to 12 years in prison. A longtime critic of the government, he has previously spent nearly 10 years in prison and was on Amnesty International's list of prisoners of conscience. Strained relations The arrest and news of the summons coincided with a visit by US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, the first senior official of the new American administration to visit Vietnam. Relations between Vietnam and the US have recently been strained, with Hanoi accusing Washington of interfering in its domestic affairs. The US recently granted asylum to 24 Vietnamese refugees from an army crackdown on unrest in the highlands.
Reutere Armenia Eases Policy on Region Reuters Reuters Friday, April 27, 2001 YEREVAN, Armenia Armenia has rejected Azeri rule in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh but has not eliminated the possibility of the mountainous territory remaining nominally within Azerbaijan, Armenia's foreign minister said Thursday. . "We will not accept any subjugation to Azerbaijan for Nagorno-Karabakh, any vertical relationship with Azerbaijan," Vardan Oskanyan told Reuters. . "But anything on the level of horizontal ties will be seriously considered by the Armenian side," he said. . The United States recently increased efforts to solve the 13-year conflict between the two former Soviet republics.
IHT 5 May 2001 The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan are preparing their citizens to accept a peace accord to end their 13-year conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, a senior U.S. envoy said Friday. . Carey Cavanaugh, the U.S. mediator in peace negotiations, said President Robert Kocharyan of Armenia and President Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan would hold another four days of intensive talks in Geneva in mid-June to try to reach an agreement. . Another diplomatic source said the leaders hoped to sign a peace accord in July during the Group of Eight nations summit in Genoa
Toronto Star 24 Apr 2001 by Stephen Handelman - It was one of the little wars of the '90s, now almost forgotten as the attention of our still-young century has shifted to new places on the map. The five-year war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which cost 30,000 lives and generated 800,000 refugees, was over in 1994. A cold peace has lasted longer than the war itself, and has been nearly as traumatic: The two countries, once fraternal allies (or, as some might put it, fellow inmates) in the late Soviet community of nations, remain impoverished, embittered and hostile. Few people have noticed. But this month, mysteriously, the southern Caucasus standoff between Armenia and Azerbaijan moved to the top of the agenda of the world's superpower. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell took days out of his schedule in early April to preside over negotiations between the countries' leaders - Robert Kocharian of Armenia and Heidar Aliyev of Azerbaijan - in Key West, Fla. Then U.S. President George W. Bush invited both to Washington, where he held separate White House chats with each man - a privileged access for which most of the world's bigger players are still lining up. What makes this even odder is that the Bush administration has made a point of shying away from other - and arguably more pressing - regional conflicts. It moved to the sidelines on the Middle East, developed weak knees over the Balkans and downgraded the previous Clinton administration's peacemaking blitz in Northern Ireland to a watching brief. So why get involved in a remote place that hasn't made a page-one headline in a decade? Simple: The southern Caucasus region is the gateway to some of the biggest untapped reserves of the fuels that motor the global economy. Fabulous fields of oil and gas lie below the polluted waters of the Caspian Sea, and further east and south in Central Asia and Iran, attracting a slew of competing interests around the globe. Moscow hopes to parlay its continued financial control and military influence over the former Soviet states in the region into pipeline concessions. Energy-hungry Europe wants a piece of the action. And Washington wants a secure source of supply that can bypass the unpredictable Middle East. All these clashing dreams have stumbled on the quarrel between Armenia and Azerbaijan. A settlement wouldn't end the violence that has become endemic in a region that stretches from Chechnya to Tajikistan, but it would tame an important chunk of the proposed pipeline routes. Before that can happen, however, both countries must come to grips with a tiny sliver of land called Nagorno-Karabakh. The sliver is populated largely by ethnic Armenians, but a mischievous piece of Soviet planning placed it inside Azerbaijan's borders. When ethnic nationalism swept the Soviet Union in the 1980s and early 1990s, the long-simmering grievances of Armenians in Karabakh exploded into a guerrilla war for independence. While Moscow dithered, Armenians sent volunteers and guns across the mountains, eventually driving most of the Azeris out of Karabakh in a brutal campaign that would today be called "ethnic cleansing." Azerbaijan retaliated with equally brutal measures against Armenians living outside Karabakh. Exhaustion and bankruptcy finally brought the conflict to a shaky truce that left the former Soviet enclave a quasi-autonomous dependency of Armenia. Most analysts assumed Kocharian, a native of Karabakh, would have the authority to make a deal. They made the same assumption about Aliyev, a grizzled 77-year-old veteran of Kremlin politics and one-time provincial KGB boss. But neither was able to escape the long shadow of ethnic rivalry, despite 15 face-to-face meetings. The Bush administration sensed possibilities few others did. Indeed, both sides claimed they made enough progress at Key West under U.S. mediation to warrant another meeting in Geneva in June. Cynics might observe the U.S. is hardly a disinterested participant: Some of Bush's most powerful campaign donors happen to be U.S. multinationals who are vying to build pipelines. Depending on your point of view, Bush's decision to get involved is either proof that oil interests have taken over U.S. domestic and foreign policy - or a bold gamble to stabilize the troubled Caucasus. Probably, it's both. Which raises another issue. It's an article of faith with the new U.S. administration - articulated most recently at last week's Summit of the Americas - that economic growth fuels democracies. Yet stability is what matters to corporations and their political patrons, even if it means imposing an agreement both countries might find hard to digest - and ignoring the increasingly undemocratic and corrupt politics that have fuelled the region's impoverishment. It's beginning to look like pipeline politics in the Caucasus involves putting democracy on hold.
Source: Institute for War & Peace Reporting Date: 21 May 2001 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- War of words in Yerevan Was Vardan Oskanian's faux pas a slip of the tongue or a shrewd political calculation? By Ara Tadevosian in Yerevan (CRS No. 83, 21-May-01) Opposition leaders are calling for Armenia's foreign minister to resign after he dropped a resounding political clanger on national television. In an interview with the A1+ channel, Vardan Oskanian described the region currently controlled by the Nagorny Karabakh army as "occupied" territory. And triumphant political rivals wasted no time in claiming the remark betrayed the government's "defeatist" stance over the ongoing conflict. From the Armenian viewpoint, the territories wrested away from Azerbaijan during the six-year conflict have always been described as "liberated" - an extension of the belief that they are historically Armenian. But Oskanian's faux pas was immediately interpreted as a tacit admission that the Nagorny Karabakh army had illegally occupied land which is still internationally recognised as Azeri. The foreign minister argued that he had simply meant territories "held" by Karabakhi troops - but the opposition had already seized the chance it had been waiting for. Aram Sarkisian, leader of the Democratic Party of Armenia, said, "In the light of his recent statement, we consider that Vardan Oskanian can no longer carry out his duties as foreign minister and should be dismissed from office." He added that statements of this kind could destabilise the situation in Armenia and provoke the Azeris into renewing hostilities. "[Oskanian] has put Armenia's sovereignty under threat," said Sarkisian. Other opposition leaders agreed that the remark pointed towards a climb-down by Kocharian's government and even moves to return the "occupied" territories to Azerbaijan. Sarkisian pointed out that this would leave Nagorny Karabakh completely exposed to attack, since these regions were the breakaway enclave's only guarantee of security. "By returning these territories, we would provide the enemy with a direct road to Stepanakert," he concluded. The argument centres around seven regions - Lachin, Kelbadjzr, Agdam, Fizuli, Zangelan, Kubatly and Djebrail. The most important of these are Lachin and Kelbadjar which provide a geographical corridor between Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh. The future of these regions - and the thousands of Azeri refugees who fled their homes there during the fighting - depends on the outcome of the peace process which will be continued on June 15 in Geneva. The Armenian foreign minister was quick to accuse the opposition of resorting to linguistic semantics when, in fact, Yerevan had no intention of making compromises. "Usually I say these territories are 'held' or 'controlled' by us," said Oskanian. "In contrast to the patriotically minded Armenian parliamentarians, I find myself unable to succumb to temptation and describe these territories as 'liberated'. I have been dealing with this problem for eight years and no one has the right to give me lessons in patriotism." The foreign minister insists that Armenia will only consider returning the territories if Nagorny Karabakh is granted acceptable political status. Yerevan, he said, was insisting on a "horizontal" relationship between Stepanakert and Baku but would not countenance political dependence. Oskanian is also adamant that the final decision will lie with the Armenian people and the public will be invited to comment on any final resolution agreed by the two sides. However, he has also told the Western media that it would be preferable to resolve the question of Nagorny Karabakh's political future on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis. A muddy definition of the enclave's exact status would give Azerbaijan a chance to save face whilst appeasing nationalist forces in Armenia. Meanwhile, President Kocharian was quick to silence his critics who claimed that Oskanian had deliberately used the expression "occupied territories" in order to pave the way for future compromises. On May 11, the Associated Press quoted Kocharian as saying, "Nagorny Karabakh was able to stand up against Azeri aggression and is today building a free and sovereign state." But, while few people in Azerbaijan and Armenia are ready for compromise, Armenian opposition leaders say it will be a long time before the people get their say. Babken Ararktsian, former speaker of the Armenian parliament, who retired in February 1998, said that Kocharian was eager to draw out the peace talks for another year in order to "ensure a favourable outcome to the 2003 presidential elections". Ararktsian believes the peace talks are merely masking "a geopolitical reconstruction of the region which was agreed by Kocharian in 1997, when he visited Paris as Armenia's prime minister". Certainly, the peace talks have taken their toll on personal relationships. When Kocharian was officially baptised in the early 1990s, it was Babken Ararktsian who was invited to be his godfather. Ara Tadevosian is director of the Mediamax news agency in Yerevan
AFP 31 May 2001 Russian President Vladimir Putin will mediate at talks here Thursday between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in a bid to get the Nagorno Karabakh peace deal back on track. The meeting between Putin, Azeri President Heydar Aliyev and Armenian President Robert Kocharian will take place on the margins of a summit of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a gathering of all ex-Soviet republics minus the three Baltic states, due to open Friday. Yerevan and Baku last week announced that they were cancelling a Geneva summit scheduled for June 15 by OSCE's Minsk Group, which is tasked with finding a solution to the 13-year-old conflict. Karabakh is an Armenian-populated enclave in Azerbaijan which unilaterally declared independence from Baku in 1991, provoking a war that killed over 30,000 people and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. A 1994 ceasefire left Karabakh with de facto independence but a stalemate between the two sides. Azerbaijan is offering a high level of autonomy to the enclave, while Armenia insists on full independence. Baku recently said Azerbaijan could renew fighting with Armenia over the disputed enclave in spite of peace talks by the international mediators, saying that Baku did not have to accept separatist occupation of its territories.
IWPR 8 May 2001 By Rovshan Mamedov The future of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline hangs in the balance as gloomy economic forecasts begin to dampen the political fanfares. The project - which enjoys the enthusiastic backing of the United States - could throw an economic lifeline to both Azerbaijan and Georgia. But some industry experts say the $1.3 billion pipeline is doomed to failure because Caspian Sea oil reserves cannot justify its construction. The idea of building a pipeline from the Azeri capital, via Tbilisi, to the Turkish port of Ceyhan was first mooted in 1991. Western experts continue to pour cold water on the Baku-Ceyhan project. Farroukh Demirmen, an international oil consultant at Stanford University, said, "I wouldn't like to guarantee that any oil will be flowing through the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline by 2004." Ted Carpenter, vice president of the Cato Institute, was more outspoken. "Washington and Ankara are pushing forward this expensive and impractical project for strategic rather than economic reasons," he said. And Wayne Merry, director of the Programme on European Societies in Transition, agreed that the pipeline project made little economic sense. "The project was initiated for political reasons by Washington, Ankara, Baku and Tbilisi. But no one government is able to - or wants to - foot the bill. A pipeline should make business sense, not political sense. I believe that either the pipeline will never be built or it is simply doomed to failure."
IWPR 15 May 2001 Tensions rise in Baku Observers believe that Heidar Aliev's government is preparing the country for bad news By Irada Akhmetova in Baku (CRS No. 82, 14-May-01) Azeri opposition leaders are to stage mass demonstrations in Baku to protest against government handling of the Nagorny Karabakh peace talks. With just a month to go before the next round of talks in Geneva, tensions have been rising across the capital, which has also seen a sharp escalation in violent crime. However, local observers claim the strained atmosphere has been deliberately orchestrated by the authorities in a bid to prepare the population for a dramatic climb-down over Nagorny Karabakh. The planned demonstrations are being spearheaded by the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (DPA) whose last protest march, on April 21, was forcibly dispersed by riot police. ...The next meeting was scheduled to take place on May 12 when the DPA was due to march with the "classical" wing of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan (PFA) - a party closely associated with another opposition heavyweight, Musavat. PFA leader Ali Kerimov said the demonstration had been prompted by news that the government was ready to sign a capitulatory agreement with Armenia over the Nagorny Karabakh dispute. Kerimov went on to say that, after the March peace talks in Florida's Key West, there was a real possibility of solidarity amongst the opposition factions. Musavat leaders are also hinting that they may take part in upcoming demonstrations. Party secretary Ibragim Ibragimli said, "The resolution of the Nagorny Karabakh dispute will ultimately be forced upon the Azeri people." He explained that recent government propaganda on diplomatic successes combined with the April 21 crackdown are clear signs that the authorities are preparing society for compromise. This argument was reinforced by a May 5 visit to Baku by Carey Cavanaugh, the American co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group which is currently brokering the peace deal. Armenian diplomats swiftly claimed that Cavanaugh chose to visit Azerbaijan -- rather than Armenia or Karabakh - in an attempt to put increased pressure on President Heidar Aliev. Ibragimli commented, "Cavanaugh's visit to Baku and his secret talks with Heidar Aliev indicate that the Azeri authorities are seriously preparing for D-Day when the results of the peace talks will be made public and the extent of Azeri concessions will become clear."
Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 31 May 2001 On 29 May, Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, briefed journalists in Stepanakert on his recent visit to France and on the ongoing search for a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported. Ghukasian stressed that there is no alternative to the ongoing OSCE-mediated peace talks, in which he said Karabakh representatives should be invited to participate. He said no peace settlement will be signed without the prior consent of the unrecognized republic's population, nor is any solution acceptable that entails the enclave's vertical subordination to the Azerbaijani central government. "The way to peace and stability is either in the recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh's independence or in its joining Armenia," Ghukasian said.
BBC 2 May 2001 A former Rwandan government minister being tried on charges related to the 1994 massacre of 5,000 people in Rwanda denied on Wednesday that he had ordered a Tutsi family of eight killed to get a lake view from his villa. Alphonse Higaniro, on trial in Belgium along with three other Rwandans accused of helping Hutu radicals kill ethnic Tutsis and Hutu moderates, said his villa already had a view of Lake Kivu near Gisenyi, a town in the central African country. "I don't understand the reasoning," said Higaniro, testifying for the first time in the landmark trial which began two weeks ago. Higaniro said the accusation did not make sense because the family living in the villa only rented it. "I don't know how I was to have done it, given that he was not the owner of the place," he said. Higaniro, 52, transport minister under President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death in a plane crash set off the genocide in April 1994, is alleged to have ordered the killing of a medical assistant, his wife and six children who were living in the villa. Three of the children managed to escape, while a fourth remains severely disabled from injuries suffered at the hands of machete-wielding Hutus.
AP 5 May 2001 By Paul Ames In a steady voice that echoed around the gilt-and-marble courtroom, a skinny young man from Rwanda recounted the day his father, mother, kid brother and baby sister Aline were murdered. "They lined us up and told my mother we had to die because we were Tutsis and had no right to live next to Mr. Higaniro," Olivier Rwamanywa told the jury, the unfamiliar syllables of his Kinyarwanda language relayed in French by a translator. He was 13 then. Now 21, he is one of 60 witnesses flown from Rwanda to Brussels for the trial of the factory manager and neighbor accused of ordering the murder of his family. Alphonse Higaniro, along with two Roman Catholic nuns and a physics professor, stands accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide that killed at least a half million people – mostly Tutsis and some moderate Hutus. The defendants have pleaded innocent. Like the U.N. tribunals in the Hague and Arusha, Tanzania, the trial in Chamber 34 of Brussels' Palace of Justice is breaking new ground in cross-border justice. A hairdresser, truck driver and 22 other Belgians make up the first civilian jury to sit in judgment on people accused of war crimes in another land. "This is a really important step forward for the principle that justice has no borders," Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch said. "It shows every country has the right and the moral duty to try the worst crimes." The trial began in April under a 1993 law that allows Belgian courts to try alleged violations of the Geneva Convention on war crimes. The four are among thousands of Hutus who sought refuge in Belgium, Rwanda, former colonial master, after Tutsi-led rebels gained control of Rwanda and stopped the slaughter. Trying them is a colossal task. Investigating magistrate Damien Vandermeerch and other lawyers are sifting through the minutiae of mass murder to determine whether the defendants were among those members of Rwanda's majority Hutu community who joined in the killing of their Tutsi neighbors in the 13-week rampage. Rwamanywa testified how he hid in bushes near his family's grave. He described overhearing Higaniro order his men to dig up the bodies so he could check they were really dead. A tremor ran through the Africans among the 100 spectators packing the gallery. A youth muttered an obscenity. A middle-aged woman in a paisley-print blouse sobbed quietly. In the dock, Higaniro, 51, a portly man in a silver-gray double-breasted suit, scribbled notes. The physicist, Vincent Ntezimana, stared ahead. The nuns, Consolata Mukangango and Julienne Mukabutera, sat next to each other impassively – plump women in wire-rimmed glasses and beige-and-brown habits. The nuns are known as Sister Gertrude and Sister Maria Kisito, and are alleged to have helped the Hutu militias who massacred thousands of Tutsis seeking refuge in their convent in the southern Rwanda town of Sovu. The prosecution claims Sister Gertrude, 42, the mother superior at Sovu, pleaded with authorities to clear out refugees, knowing they were being sent to their deaths. Sister Maria Kisito, 36, is accused of carrying gasoline to a mob that burned the convent's garage where some 600 Tutsis were sheltering. Ntezimana, 39, formerly of the National University of Rwanda, is accused of whipping up anti-Tutsi sentiment and drawing up lists of families for death squads. He is accused of having taken part in the slaughter personally. Higaniro is charged with helping to plan and execute the genocide to head off a deal between the Hutu government and Tutsi rebels. His match factory in Butare was allegedly a hotbed of militia activity. He is accused of ordering the killing of Rwamanywa's family, whose home was near his lakeside villa near the town of Gisenyi. After fleeing Rwanda, the two nuns found sanctuary in a monastery deep in the forests of southern Belgium.Higaniro lives in Brussels. Ntezimana has been working at Louvain Catholic University south of the capital. "Many of them came here thinking they'd be sheltered. There was a long love affair between certain political forces in Belgium and the power in Rwanda," says Dirk Ramboer, a lawyer representing some of the genocide survivors standing as civil plaintiffs in the case. Belgian authorities reportedly paid more than $2 million to bring in witnesses from 5,000 miles away.
Reuters May 7, 2001 Bosnian Serb police evacuated nearly 300 people, including top Western diplomats, to safety today after they were trapped in a building by rioting Serb nationalists, U.N. officials said. U.N. mission chief Jacques Klein and other officials were trapped by about 2,000 Serb protesters, who pelted Muslim refugees and officials with tear gas grenades, stones and eggs to prevent them from inaugurating the reconstruction of a renowned medieval mosque here in the heartland of the Bosnian Serb republic. The 16th-century Ferhadija mosque was destroyed by Serbs in 1993 during the Bosnian war. Banja Luka police chief Vladimir Tutus, who later offered his resignation, told Bosnian Serb television that 30 people, including 18 Muslims, had been admitted to the hospital for injuries. Five buses that brought Muslims to the ceremony were set ablaze. U.S. Ambassador Thomas J. Miller, who was in Banja Luka but not among those trapped, called on Bosnian Serb officials to put an end to lawlessness and arrest the perpetrators.
AP 9 May 2001 Thousands marched down Sarajevo streets during the night, demanding an end to Serb violence and protesting international indifference to harassment of Muslim returnees in Serb-held areas of Bosnia. The crowd stopped in front of the office of Bosnia's top international official, Wolfgang Petritsch, demanding action against Serb radicals who are preventing the return of refugees and the rebuilding of mosques in areas under Serb control. The protests late Tuesday and early Wednesday were prompted by Serb riots that prevented groundbreaking ceremonies for two mosques to be rebuilt in the Bosnian Serb republic. On Saturday, a Serb mob threw stones at Muslim dignitaries and diplomats attending a ceremony in the southeastern town of Trebinje. Even worse violence took place Monday in the biggest Bosnian Serb town of Banja Luka. Serb radicals threw stones, torched buses and trapped diplomats and Muslim visitors for six hours in a building. The radicals prevented a ceremony launching reconstruction of a 16th century mosque leveled by the Serbs after Muslims were expelled from the city early in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia. Dozens were injured in one of the biggest Serb nationalistic outbursts since the end of the Bosnian war. Police said they had identified 42 perpetrators so far and dismissed several police officials. The ceremonies were part of a project of ethnic reconciliation and the return of refugees. It provides for reconstruction of some of the more than 600 mosques blown up in Serb-held areas. In New York, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica told reporters he was ``very concerned and unhappy with the ... violence and religious intolerance in the case of Banja Luka.'' Some churches and mosques should not be rebuilt because they ``might provoke these incidents,'' he said after talks with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. On Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, Sarajevo police formed a human shield in front of all Serb Orthodox churches in town, fearing the crowd might damage them to retaliate against Serb violence. But the Muslim protesters just walked by the churches, chanting: ``We won't do anything, this church is also ours.'' Still, some were heard calling for weapons and an elderly man, Avdija Sisic, carried a baseball bat wrapped in newspapers, ``just in case.'' ``The indifference of the international community is contributing to this,'' he said. ``They don't do anything to prevent things like we've seen in Banja Luka, nor do they punish anybody afterward.''
AP 12 May 2001 By ALEXANDAR S. DRAGICEVIC, At a meeting meant to spur ethnic reconciliation, a community leader warned Saturday that Bosnia could not recover from the trauma of its conflict without punishing those who committed war crimes. Jakob Finci, a prominent member of Sarajevo's Jewish community, was speaking at an exploratory meeting meant to form a Truth and Reconciliation Commission similar to the South African panel created to examine past wrongs under apartheid. Finci heads a local association of citizens who organized the project. It is designed to help Bosnians of all ethnic groups come to terms with what really happened during their 1992-1995 ethnic conflict that took 200,000 lives, left half of the population homeless and leveled the country's economy. ``We weren't able to form such a commission earlier because the war wounds were still too fresh,'' Finci said. He said there could be no reconciliation and no return to normal life without the truth and punishment of those who committed war crimes. Although Bosnia's Croats and Muslims have arrested and extradited suspects sought by the U.N. war crimes tribunal since the war's end, Bosnian Serb authorities have refused to follow suit. NATO (news - web sites) peacekeepers have snatched close to two dozen suspects and had them delivered to the tribunal in The Hague (news - web sites), Netherlands. But Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serbs' wartime leader, and his top general, Ratko Mladic, remain at large. A peace agreement signed by Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats gave them a framework for establishing a common country, but offered no instruments for reconciliation or to restore trust. ``Our gathering here marks a commitment to this principle - to reconcile with the past, to absolve the innocent and to seek the truth,'' U.N. special representative Jacques Klein told local and international officials attending the round table. Bosnian Serb leaders, although invited, did not attend. Judge Claude Jorda, president of the U.N. war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia, said that the first steps toward reconciliation were the most difficult. ``Their (Bosnian Serb officials) absence is one of those hard steps,'' he added. Each ethnic group, spurred by reporting by their own media, has tended to deny responsibility for crimes committed during the war and often views indicted war crimes suspects as heroes. Serb, Croat and Muslim school textbooks also present children with conflicting interpretations of the war. The seven-member commission, to be chosen from Bosnians of all ethnic backgrounds, will try to establish a common history of the war that would lead to acknowledgment of past wrongs and for mutual respect for its victims. Bosnia is now formally divided into two republics, one run by the Serbs, the other by a Muslim-Croat federation. It also has a federal government. The draft document on establishing the commission will be presented to the Serb, Muslim-Croat and federal parliaments in six weeks. If approved, the commission will start work early next year.
On Monday, May 21st, Croatia ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, thereby becoming the 32nd State Party to the treaty. The Rome Statute will enter into force with 60 ratifications. To date, 32 countries have completed the ratification process and deposited the instrument of ratification with the UN Secretary General. For updated information, please visit our website at http://www.iccnow.org.
AFP 2 May 2001 Six more people -- two local pro-Russian officials and four rebels -- have died in fighting in Chechnya, Russian news agencies said Wednesday. The Ria-Novosti agency said two pro-Russian officials from a village near the town of Kurchaloi, southeast of the capital Grozny, were shot dead on Tuesday evening. The agency, quoting military officials, said the dead were Saikan Chukayev, head of the village administration in Novaya Zhizn, and his deputy, who was not named. Separately, ITAR-TASS news agency said Russian interior ministry forces had killed four rebels in the region of Grozny in a 24-hour period. The agency, which quoted the interior ministry, said three of the rebels were killed in a shoot-out and one died when troops came across a group of insurgents laying a landmine on a road.
AI 3 May 2001 In a book entitled Services SpJciaux: AlgJrie 1995-1957", published today, a former French Government was directly implicated in the torture and summary executions of Algerians during the Algerian war. The allegation was made by General Paul Aussaresses, a high-ranking French military officer in the Algerian war, and coordinator of the intelligence services during the Battle of Algiers in 1957. Although Amnesty International cannot know whether today's claims by General Aussaresses, directly implicating the French Government in crimes against humanity, are well founded, they are clearly extremely serious and require full and prompt investigation. If France is able to bring to trial war criminals from the Vichy period it must also be possible for France to live up to its legal obligations in relation to the Algerian war, Amnesty International said today. In the book, General Aussaresses not only justifies the use of torture and summary executions, in which he personally took part, and describes in detail the way in which these systematically took place, but also claims that the French Government - notably through the then Justice Minister, FranHois Mitterrand, later the President of the Republic - was regularly informed about, and tolerated, the use of torture, summary executions and forced displacements of populations... On 24 November 2000, when a number of military officers, including Generals Aussaresses and Jacques Massu, publicly admitted their involvement in torture and extrajudicial executions, Amnesty International called on the French authorities to bring to trial those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity... On 14 December President Jacques Chirac rejected calls for a formal apology for the use of torture by French soldiers during the war. The allegations contained in the book increase the urgency of the need for France to face up to its legal obligations, not only under the Geneva Conventions but also under Article 212-1 of its own Penal Code, where crimes against humanity are defined, inter alia, as the massive and systematic practice of summary execution and torture for political, philosophical, racial or social purposes and are recognized as imprescriptible. "Given these new and serious claims and revelations by General Aussaresses, there can be no possible justification for the authorities to continue to fail to seek a judicial resolution, Amnesty International added.
WP 10 May 2001 by Keith B. Richburg In the same way that revelations about former senator Bob Kerrey's role in civilian deaths in Vietnam 32 years ago have prompted the United States to reopen old war wounds, France is re-examining a painful chapter of its own recent past, the Algerian war for independence from 1954 to 1962. The old demons were unleashed by the unvarnished memoirs of an aging general, 83-year-old Paul Aussaresses, who admits taking part in torture and summary executions during France's long, losing battle to keep Algeria. Aussaresses' detailed accounts have brought cries of outrage in France, which has never fully explored long-standing allegations of atrocities in Algeria, and never underwent the kind of emotional exorcism that gripped the United States for nearly two decades after Vietnam. President Jacques Chirac last week said he was "horrified" by the general's accounts, and said nothing could justify them. Chirac said Aussaresses would be stripped of the Legion of Honor, France's highest award, and called for the defense minister to propose other disciplinary actions. Prime Minister Lionel Jospin said he was "deeply shocked" by the account. In Parliament, the leftist Green Party and the Communists, part of Jospin's ruling coalition, called for a commission of inquiry into Aussaresses' revelations, but the president of the assembly said he thought it would serve no purpose. Also, the Paris-based League of Human Rights filed a lawsuit against the general for being an apologist for crimes and war crimes, while the International Human Rights Federation said the general could be charged with "crimes against humanity." France's justice minister, however, was quoted in the daily newspaper Le Monde this week as saying that such a case "seems difficult," unless it was brought by Algerian victims or their families. The book, "Special Services: Algeria 1955-1957," was published this week after being excerpted in Le Monde. In it, the former general describes the first time he tortured an Algerian rebel suspected of terrorism – and expressed disappointment that the man died without divulging any information. "I thought of nothing," he writes. "I had no regrets over his death." He also says the authorities in Paris were fully aware of what was happening once they sent troops to crush the rebel movement in what has come to be known as the Battle For Algiers, which lasted from January to March 1957. "In calling the military in to establish order in Algiers, they implicitly admitted the principle of summary executions," he writes. The French eventually won the battle – by the end of March, not a single rebel bomb was exploding in the capital, according to historians. In one of the book's most damaging sections, the general claims that the methods of his Algerian special services unit were known and approved by Justice Minister Francois Mitterrand, who later became president. "As for torture, it was tolerated if not recommended," he writes. He said Mitterrand had an emissary in Algeria "who covered for us and knew exactly what was going on at night." What many French have found most chilling is the general's open defense of torture as a legitimate tool against the Algerian independence guerrillas, the FLN, who he describes as terrorists with their own extreme methods. While politicians have expressed shock at the general's confessions, the allegations of French torture and executions in Algeria are not new. In the 1977 book, "A Savage War of Peace," British historian Alistair Horne wrote that torture was to become "a growing canker for France, leaving behind a poison that would linger in the French system long after the war itself had ended." Citing official French documents, Horne described various torture methods used, such as electrodes and the water pipe, used to pump a victim's stomach full of water. The French excesses in Algeria were also well known among Algerians and in other Arab countries. The Web site Arab.net, in its history of Algeria, writes matter-of-factly about "the cruelty and brutality of the French colonial forces" and how they used "concentration camps, torture and mass executions of civilians suspected of aiding the rebels . . . " But the volume of evidence of torture and executions has been largely ignored here – or not openly discussed – because, unlike the United States after Vietnam, France managed to avoid the same kind of critical self-examination that might have shed light on the longstanding accusations. While the United States went through its Vietnam catharsis with a spate of books, anti-war songs and such movies as "Apocalypse Now," the French campaign in Algeria was rarely discussed. That time may be coming now, thanks to the debate opened by Aussaresses. In published interviews, he said he was writing his accounts for history. He said he is ready to be tried for his acts. But he may not be tried. Parliament passed a law in 1968 giving blanket amnesty to all acts committed during the Algerian war.
Law Brands Slavery And Slave Trade As Crime Against Humanity Email This Page Print This Page Panafrican News Agency May 11, 2001 Posted to the web May 11, 2001 Ruth Nabakwe Paris, France French senators have unanimously adopted a law which recognises slavery and the trans-Atlantic slave trade as a crime against humanity. French deputies had earlier in 1999 adopted similar text making France the first western country to recognise, as a crime against humanity, slavery and the slave trade which occurred in the 15th century against African populations transported to the Americas and the Caribbean. The American Indians, the Malgache peoples in Madagascar and Indians were also affected under the law. The French secretary of state in charge of French overseas departments and territories, Christian Paul, said that the text, which was adopted by the French parliament and the senate, sought to lay down the French law a moral condemnation of slavery. "It's about a law against forgetting and which enables all those who fought against slavery to enter by the great door (in the annuls of history), an occurrence which forms part of our history, a history which is hard and painful (but) in which we intend to draw lessons," he said. The French official reiterated that the grandeur of a people was measured by her capacity to assume her history. In that regard, the adopted text incorporates the need for scholarly programmes, historical research programmes and human sciences in France to accord a merited place to slave trade and slavery. In so doing, such programmes were expected to take cognisant of five centuries of slavery as well as the revolt against the trend, he added. Paul stated that increased co-operation would help lay the groundwork for putting in place strategies which would articulate as well as encourage and promote the availability in Europe of written archives, oral sources and accumulated knowledge on the phenomenon, notably in the Americas and the Caribbean. The proposal of the law equally recommends the fixing of a special date by French government decree, which would commemorate the abolition of slavery. The creation of a committee of personalities expected to guarantee the durability of the slave trade memory in France would likewise have its members constituted in the coming weeks, according to Paul. A French socialist deputy from French Guyana, Christian Taubira Delanon, was the initiator of the proposal which she presented to the French National Assembly where French deputies adopted it unanimously in December 1999. Delanon told French media that slavery had almost risked disappearing from the annuls of history. The adoption of such a law meant that history was penetrating afresh in the French society where the memory would be kept alive through scholarly manuals, Delanon said. He expressed the desire that with recognition of slavery as a crime against humanity, former colonial powers should take steps towards reparations by undertaking much more equitable economic policies in Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean. French analysts said that the adoption of the law raised to higher pedestals that recognition which was not only symbolic but also indispensable in the history of France.
BBC 30 April, 2001 Neo-Nazis on the rise in Germany Germany has seen a rise in racism in recent years By Sue Lloyd-Roberts in Ludwigslust, eastern Germany There is increasing concern in Germany at the rise of support for extreme right-wing groups, especially among east German youth. Figures just published show that racist crimes, including attacks on foreigners, have increased by more than 50% from 10,000 in 1999 to 16,000 last year. The marches are really upsetting, especially for the older generation Juergen Zimmermann, Mayor of Ludwigslust On the weekend of 20 April, the anniversary of Hitler's birthday, neo-Nazis marched past the 18th century castle of Ludwigslust demanding "truth and democracy". This means the right to proclaim openly their xenophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments. forbidden by laws introduced in Germany after the war. Meanwhile, they settle for calling for national solidarity, a halt to immigration and for houses and jobs to be reserved for Germans alone. Powerless So long as they keep within legal limits, there is nothing to stop these marches - and they are taking place with increasing frequency and hostility. A march is planned in Berlin on 1 May, and the anniversary of the liberation of Berlin on 2 May - which right-wing groups remember as a disaster for Germany - is another date they like to mark. The militaristic style is frightening, especially to older Germans Meanwhile, the mainstream parties get on with the business of preparing for next month's local elections. Mayor Juergen Zimmermann says he hates the neo-Nazis, but can not stop them. "The marches are really upsetting, especially for the older generation", he says. "The demonstrators' military appearance makes people afraid." Mr Zimmermann says the town has failed twice to have the marches banned. When the allies liberated the nearby concentration camp 50 years ago, the townspeople were forced to watch as 200 of its victims were buried in Ludwigslust's central park. The neo-Nazis say Germans should commemorate their heroic soldiers and not the Jews. The government is increasingly alarmed and is asking ordinary Germans to take a stand. Young minds Eisenhuttenstadt is a typical East German industrial town and with its high unemployment, foreigners are not popular. The right has great appeal for the young because it looks rebellious and exciting, and children often don't realise what it's about Lise Ebert, social worker Among the young, right-wing extremism has become part of the mainstream culture. Children as young as 13 are expected to decide whether they are going to follow the right or the left. Sometimes, from first appearances, it is hard to tell. But one young man, Joern Kohl, wears his anti-Nazi insignia with pride. He estimates that about 40% of the young people in the town share the sympathies of the far-right. Social worker Lise Ebert says young people are warned that Nazi behaviour can result in criminal prosecution, but often the messages come too late. "The right has great appeal for the young because it looks rebellious and exciting and children often don't realise what it's about", she says. "It is our responsibility to tell them about the dangers." Culture of racism At the one industry left in town - the giant Eko Steel works - they know that they have to stamp out the culture of racism if they are to survive. Anti-Nazis are fighting a rising tide of racism They have been taken over by a French company and as a multi-national can not afford xenophobic sentiment in the plant. They have a policy of not employing skinheads or those with avowed extreme right-wing views, and between shifts staff have lessons in democracy and history. One trainee says: "We're taught what happened in the past and to appreciate the damage that violent views can do to everyone involved. "If we say 'foreigners out', how can we deal with our partners? This is what is important for Germany."
AP May 6 2001 Germany officially apologized Sunday for the massacre of almost 700 civilians by German troops in the Belgium town of Dinant during the opening weeks of World War I. ``We have to recognize the injustices that were committed, and ask forgiveness. That is what I am doing with a deep conviction today,'' Walter Kolbow, Germany's state secretary for defense, told a ceremony in the southern town. ``I apologize to you all for the injustice the Germans committed in this town.'' The killing of 674 men, woman and children in Dinant after German troops occupied the town in August 1914 outraged world opinion. At the time, German authorities said their troops reacted after being shot at by civilian snipers. Resentment at the killings remained deep in the town, which until Sunday had refused to fly the German flag alongside those of other European Union nations on the bridge connecting both sides of the town across the River Meuse. The German flag was hoisted alongside the others Sunday at the ceremony that was also attended by Belgium's defense minister Andre Flahaut, World War II veterans, and the ambassadors of Germany, France and Britain. Some residents objected to the ceremony, but Dinant mayor Richard Founaux said the time had come for reconciliation. ``Our responsibility, indeed our duty, is to contribute to the building of European unity,'' Founaux said. ``I'm proud to accept this apology''
NYT 5 May 2001 [full text] Only the Guilty Are Guilty, Not Their Sons By ELIE WIESEL Let me begin with a confession. I was wrong to believe that 50-odd years after the most cruel of human tragedies, caused by Hitler's Germany, some passions had begun to cool. For the victims, their children and their friends, the wounds remain understandably raw. They still have nightmares, and they are sensitive to certain words. They remember a time when the very word "German" evoked terror. I became aware that I was wrong when I read about the criticism of the United Jewish Appeal's decision to honor Thomas Middelhoff, though it is the man Thomas Middelhoff who is being honored, and not the Bertelsmann communications empire of which he is chief executive. The event, to take place May 15 in New York, will probably be picketed by demonstrators. Since I accepted the invitation to give the keynote address at the dinner, I personally have been fielding complaints from people I know and respect and from others whom I have never met. The critics have voiced objections to what they perceive as an unduly hasty act of forgiveness. Some of these recriminations come from people who firmly believe that no German ought to be honored by Jews. Surely not now, perhaps later — though one letter writer told me "even a hundred years will be too soon" and condemned "Jewish leaders willing to prostitute themselves" for money. Another letter writer argued that just as I had pleaded with President Ronald Reagan in 1985 not to visit the German military cemetery in Bitburg because it contained SS graves, I should not attend the "disgraceful event" for Mr. Middelhoff. Thus Thomas Middelhoff, born in 1953 — a man who has never been accused of saying or doing anything to hurt or offend Jews and is, in fact, contributing to Jewish causes like the publication of Holocaust survivors' testimonies — is being compared to the SS! I read this argument with disbelief. Of course, Jews must never — and will never — forget the Jewish tragedy that marked the last century and will haunt all centuries to come. To forget would be a sin. To remember is essential; it is a worthy endeavor, a noble cause for which many of us have fought relentlessly. But does it justify intolerance? I know that to this day there are Jews, and not only Holocaust survivors, who refuse to set foot on German soil or even buy German cars. But to wish not to make Germany rich is one thing; to treat all Germans as guilty is another. If, tragically, one chose to indict all Germans for the Holocaust, that would inevitably lead to exclusion and discrimination. Jewish academies could never invite German intellectuals and scholars to their conferences; Jewish music lovers would be expected to boycott concerts with German orchestras; and Jews could never, ever befriend Germans, no matter how long after the war they were born. Over the years, countless German personalities, political figures, scientists and artists have been singled out for a variety of awards by Jewish institutions of higher learning, hospitals and charitable organizations in both Israel and the United States. Do all these institutions stand accused of forgetting or betraying the dead? Am I wrong to believe that to humiliate a German today just for having been born German and to boycott an evening for him is not what Jewish ethos is about? I would like to remind some of my fellow Jews that Hitler's Germany condemned all of us not for what we did or did not do, but solely for having been born Jewish. We Jews do not believe in collective guilt. I have repeated over and over my belief that only the guilty are guilty: the children of killers are not killers, but children. I know from my own experience with German students that their burden is, at times, difficult to carry, heavy as it is with painful memories and questions about their fathers' and grandfathers' roles in the most terrifying genocide in history. Relations between Jews and Germans will remain traumatized for a long time. That is to be expected. Auschwitz and Treblinka will never be eradicated from German history. And yet, hatred must never be an answer. It does not serve memory.
AP 30 Apr 2001 Patrick Quinn - As Byzantine chants echoed through the mist-covered slopes of the mythical home of the ancient Greek gods, hundreds of Orthodox monks and nuns prayed throughout the night seeking divine intervention: For God to stop Pope John Paul II's visit to Athens. Gathered inside a small chapel at the 16th-century monastery of St. Dionysus, about 400 monks, nuns and faithful spent more than 12 hours praying - from sunset Friday to dawn Saturday. They are leading a wave of protests that have sharply divided the clergy and threaten to disrupt John Paul's May 4-5 trip, the first by a pope to Greece in 1,291 years. During the visit, hundreds of churches and monasteries will shut their doors to worshipers, raise black flags and ring their bells in mourning. Police plan an enormous security operation to guard the pope, while Greece's church leader Archbishop Christodoulos has appealed for calm during the visit, which includes a papal mass. .. John Paul's visit to Athens is part of a pilgrimage following in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, a five-day tour that also includes Syria and Malta. The 80-year-old pontiff could face similar problems during a planned visit to predominantly Orthodox Ukraine in June. He has previously traveled to the mostly Orthodox nations of Romania and Georgia. About 200 monks and nuns, representing 50 monasteries from around the Greece, left their cloistered walls to attend the Mount Olympus service. The joint gathering was so rare that few of the clergy attending could remember a similar service. "The worst enemy of Orthodoxy is coming, the arch-heretic of Rome," the Most Rev. Theofilos told a few hundred people present at the vigil. "This is a great evil. We pray that God prevents this." He said Mount Olympus should be a place "for your prayers to reach God." In ancient times, Olympus was famed as the site where the mythical god Zeus threw lightning bolts. Greek clergy have created their own storm over the visit by a religious leader many describe as a "heretic" and a "two-horned grotesque monster." Many clerics regard themselves as guardians of the "true Christianity," and protectors of a religious tradition that has remained unchanged since the Orthodox split with the Vatican in 1054 in a dispute over papal authority. They blame the Vatican for perceived injustices dating as far back as the 1204 sacking of Constantinople by crusaders. The city, now Istanbul in Turkey, was then the seat of the Orthodox Byzantine empire. Orthodox Christianity is Greece's official religion, with more than 90 percent of its 11 million population baptized into the church. For some, the pope's visit is perceived as an affirmation of his religious role and leadership. "The vast majority of the clergy is against the visit. We must not honor heretics. And the pope is that arch-heretic," said Theodoros Zisis, professor of theology at Thessaloniki University. "To say it plainly, the pope acts like a dictator, claiming jurisdiction over the churches of the world. And now it appears as if we accept this." The clerics gathered in this monastery hoping that prayer will unify Orthodoxy against the pope, but their vigil and other planned protests threaten to create serious divisions within the church. Greeks are already divided over a year-long church campaign to prevent the government from abolishing a religion entry on state-issued identity cards. And a bitter dispute has broken out among the clergy since March, when Archbishop Christodoulos and the church's governing Holy Synod lifted long-standing objections to the pope's visit. It came after President Costis Stephanopoulos invited John Paul in January during a visit to the Vatican. "There is a fear of schism. There is already a separation between the position of the monks and of the leaders of the church," the Most Rev. Nektarios Moulatsiotis said at the vigil. "All the monks of Greece are against Christodoulos."
NYT 5 May 2001 By ALESSANDRA STANLEY John Paul II expressed his "deep regret" for the misdeeds of the Roman Catholic Church as he made the first papal visit to Greece since the churches were one. ATHENS, May 4 John Paul II tried to mend the ancient rift with the Orthodox faith today by expressing "deep regret" for the misdeeds of the Roman Catholic Church as he made the first papal visit to Greece since the churches were one. The pope lamented the "disastrous sack of the imperial city of Constantinople," the massacre and pillaging of the heart of the Byzantine Empire, beginning in 1204. The sack of the home of the Eastern Church by the armies of Crusader knights was one of the historic grievances that had kept the Greek Orthodox Church so resistant to a papal visit and prompted some ultraconservative Orthodox priests to protest the pope's arrival by tolling church bells in mourning. "For the occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him," the pope said. Archbishop Christodoulos, the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, led other Orthodox bishops in the meeting room of his residence in loud applause. Roman Catholic cardinals accompanying the pope followed their lead, but clapped softly. ... The pope, who wishes to someday visit Moscow, made his first trip to a mostly Orthodox country in 1999, when he went to Romania and prayed alongside Patriarch Teoctist, a crucial first step in repairing a rupture that began in the fifth century and was set in stone in 1054. A later visit to Georgia was more chilly, and the leader of the main Orthodox church in Ukraine, loyal to Moscow, has repeatedly asked the pope to abandon his plan to visit Ukraine in June. So has the Russian patriarch, Aleksy II. Archbishop Christodoulos plans to travel to Moscow on Saturday to debrief the Russian patriarch on the pope's visit here. Just getting to Athens was a major accomplishment for the ailing but tenacious pope, who will turn 81 this month. "Two months ago this trip was unthinkable, a month and a half ago, this trip could not be done," Joaquín Navarro-Valls, the pope's spokesman, said. "The pope doesn't let history happen, he directs it." But Archbishop Christodoulos, who accepted the pope's visit only after the Greek government issued its own invitation in January, negotiated a rocky path between his more conservative followers' demands that he block the visit and the government's pressure to accept it. He began his speech by telling the pope that a large part of his clergy "understandably" opposed his visit, and he stressed the issue of Eastern-rite churches that are loyal to Rome as a crucial stumbling block. Orthodox leaders call such faiths "Uniates" and view them as a ruse to convert Orthodox believers and destabilize their churches. The pope, who supports those churches, steered clear of that volatile issue entirely. But Cardinal Ignace Moussa I Daoud, a top Vatican official whose Syrian Catholic Church follows Eastern rites, was dropped from the papal delegation to avoid affronting Greek Orthodox leaders. The archbishop raised the issue of Cyprus, urging the pope to support Greece's effort to have the island, which is partly occupied by Turkey, admitted to the European Union . The Vatican had rejected as too political the Greek Orthodox Church's attempts to put a lobbying effort on behalf of Cyprus in their joint statement. The statement was read aloud at a ceremony on a rocky hill beneath the Acropolis where St. Paul first preached the Gospel in Greece. The two religious leaders sat in armchairs beneath an icon of St. Paul, but did not pray together, in deference to Orthodox taboos. The statement's stilted wording mostly reflected the pope's desire to accommodate his hosts, praising the Olympic games to be held in Athens in 2004, condemning religious "proselytism," and denouncing the European tendency to "transform certain countries into secular states." The Greek Orthodox Church has been battling the Socialist government's efforts to introduce more religious pluralism, and fiercely opposed the introduction of identity cards that omit religious affiliation. But the mood, and the gestures, were more spontaneous. When the pope bent to kiss the icon, the archbishop held his arm to steady him. Looking relieved, Greece's foreign minister, George Papandreou, described the new cordiality as "historic." The pope's apology, which was tailored to address some of the longstanding demands of the Greek Orthodox Church, also fell under the pope's broader mission of beginning the millennium with contrition for wrongs committed by Roman Catholics through the ages. Last year, the pope issued a sweeping apology for his church's sins, and in March visited the Holocaust memorial in Israel to atone for Christian persecution of Jews.
Kathimerini (Athens) 5-6 May 2001 Editorial, Reaping the benefits The visit of Pope John Paul II to Athens comprises a landmark in relations between the Church of Greece - and more generally the Orthodox Church - and the Catholic one. This is not only because this is the first papal visit in Greece since the Schism but also because it helps to defuse traditional prejudices which put a strain on relations between the Eastern and Western churches. The pope may not have fully met Archbishop Christodoulos's demand for a direct apology to the Orthodox Church, but in his reply he asked for divine forgiveness for the errors committed by the Catholic Church against Eastern Christianity and for the Crusaders' actions that crippled the Byzantine Empire. The pope's action does not, of course, undo the religious and ecclesiastical differences dividing the Orthodox and the Catholic churches. But it does create a much more positive climate which favors the progress of talks on the unity of Christianity. Christodoulos, obviously under pressure by hardliners from the ecclesiastical hierarchy, did not resort to typical diplomatic discourse. He raised the issues in a rather crude fashion and in his address he even reached the point of justifying those who reacted to the papal visit. The pope, on the other hand, was much more moderate in his remarks but avoided referring to the Uniate issue which comprises one of the fundamental obstacles in the dialogue between the two churches. The pope reiterated his irrevocable commitment to the path of Christian unity, but there is no doubt that the secular dimension of the Vatican in essence renders the reunification between the two churches inconceivable. This fact however should not undo the need for convergence and, potentially, for joint action for relief of human pain. It would be a mistake to judge the papal visit only on the grounds of its impact on relations between the two churches. The Vatican is a great political power with universal influence. As such it is to the benefit of all countries to be on good terms with it - and to Greece's in particular for it has vital need of such support. It would be unacceptable should international relations be determined by traditional prejudices or by religious and ecclesiastical differences dividing the Orthodox and the Catholic churches. In this sense, the pope's visit is a grave political and diplomatic event.
Japan Tims 12 May 2001 Apologizing for a slight case of genocide By GWYNNE DYER LONDON -- "Not one word of apology has been heard from your lips about the Fourth Crusade," said Archbishop Christodoulos in a hectoring tone, as Pope John Paul II sat with the head of the Greek Orthodox Church last Friday just hours after his arrival in Athens. It is, after all, the age of apologizing for your ancestors, so why not your spiritual ancestors too? The frail Catholic pontiff rose to the occasion, murmuring a one-size-fits-all apology for "all those cases in which Catholics sinned by commission or omission." It mollified Christodoulos, who rose and embraced him, and the moment passed. But the general Greek resentment at how history has treated them has certainly not passed. We think of the victim culture as an American invention, but Americans only privatized it: the Greeks were the true pioneers. Non-Greeks may not understand why a Pole born in 1920 should have to apologize for the actions of Western European crusaders who, while pausing in Constantinople on their way to try to recapture Jerusalem in 1204, turned instead to sacking and pillaging the capital of the Greek-speaking Byzantine empire. But Greeks generally blame that calamity for the gradual decline of the city that caused it to fall to the Turks and get renamed Istanbul a mere 249 years later. Indeed, most Greeks blame the whole chain of events that led to their spending centuries under Turkish imperial rule on the hostility between the eastern and western branches of Christianity -- and they hold Rome entirely responsible for the great schism of 1054 that split Christendom in the first place. That is why there was such controversy in Greece over even permitting a visit by the Pope. Greeks have long memories, although rather selective ones.
Reuters May 3, 2001 Two Serbs accused of war crimes went on trial in a packed Kosovo courtroom on Wednesday for their alleged role in the killing of more than 100 ethnic Albanians, a legal monitor of the OSCE said. Andjelko Kolasinac and Cedomir Jovanovic face war crimes charges related to massacres and looting and burning of homes in and around the central town of Orahovac during NATO's 1999 bombing campaign against Yugoslavia, the indictment said. During the opening day of the trial, Kolasinac testified, denying the allegations, said David Marshall, who is watching the case for the mission in Kosovo of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). "This is one of the most significant trials that we have seen post-conflict because of the breadth of the indictment," Marshall told Reuters by phone. An international prosecutor will present the case to an international panel of judges. Witness testimony is expected to make up a substantial part of the trial in the southern Kosovo town of Prizren, which could take months, Marshall added. Kolasinac, a village leader in Orahovac at the time of the 1999 conflict, and Jovanovic, an alleged member of a Serbian paramilitary group, are part of a group of eight named in the indictment, Marshall said. The other six escaped from a Kosovo jail last year. "This (Kolasinac) was a senior official in a governmental post who was taking orders from Belgrade," Marshall said. The UN war crimes court in The Hague in May 1999 indicted then Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and four of his close associates for alleged war crimes committed by Yugoslav troops and Serbian police under their command in Kosovo. NATO launched its bombing campaign to halt Belgrade's repression of Kosovo's Albanian majority. The trial in Prizren comes less than a month after a Kosovo Serb man accused of helping to murder 26 ethnic Albanians during the air war was freed on April 9 after an international prosecutor dropped genocide charges against him. Prosecutor Michael Hartmann said he had abandoned the indictment against Igor Simic because of insufficient evidence, paving the way for his release after almost two years in the volatile northern Kosovo town of Mitrovica. The presiding judge, Sweden's Christer Karphammar, last year described that trial as the most important dealing with war crimes in the Kosovo conflict, which ended with the withdrawal of Serbian forces from the province. Kosovo remains legally part of Yugoslavia, but is now a de facto international protectorate. (C)2001 Copyright Reuters Limited
Monday May 14 10:19 AM ET Kosovo Bus Bomb Suspect Flees PRISTINA, Yugoslavia (AP) - An ethnic Albanian suspected of involvement in a bus bombing that killed 11 Serbs escaped from a U.S. Army-run detention facility on Monday, a statement from the U.S. military said. Florim Ejupi, a Kosovo Albanian, was absent when guards at the main American base, Camp Bondsteel, did a routine check of the detention facility at 4:15 a.m., the statement said. Ejupi was being held in connection with a bus bombing in Podujevo, 25 miles northeast of Pristina, in mid-February that killed 11 and wounded more then 40 Serbs on a religious pilgrimage in Kosovo. Details of his escape were not immediately available, and the search for the suspect is under way. Ejupi was arrested March 19 along with three other ethnic Albanians, and was transferred to Camp Bondsteel on May 3.
UPI 15 May 2001 By STEFAN RACIN The head of the U.N. administration in Kosovo on Tuesday signed a constitutional framework for self-rule in the Yugoslav province, drawing praise from Albanian officials and condemnation from Serbs across the political spectrum, as well as an ex-Kosovo Liberation Army leader. The framework specifies a 120-seat parliament, with 100 seats reserved for ethnic Albanians, and 10 each for Serbs living mostly in northern Kosovo and for members of other ethnic groups. The parliament will then elect a president. Hans Haekkerup, who leads the U.N. administration in the province, had announced Monday that parliamentary elections for the Kosovo assembly would be Nov. 17. Responding to assertions by Kosovo Serbs that they would establish their own institutions, Haekkerup said no parallel bodies of authority would be allowed in the province. The Kosovo Albanians insisted on certain matters that lie outside Security Council Resolution 1244, which the U.N. council approved after the end of the conflict between Yugoslavia and NATO over Kosovo in 1999, said Haekkerup. Resolution 1244 calls for the "safe and free return of all refugees and displaced persons to their homes," condemns "all acts of violence against the Kosovo population," and "substantial autonomy and meaningful self-administration for Kosovo." According to Haekkerup, the Serbs' request for a right of veto on decisions by the Kosovo parliament was turned down, as the U.N. mission chief in Kosovo said he himself will be able to veto decisions taken by the interim self-government bodies. Haekkerup also said special mechanisms would be set up to protect minority communities. The U.N. mission, or UNMIK, will retain control of the administration of the judiciary and the Kosovo Protection Corps, which is supposed to draw its members from all ethnic communities in the province. "The constitutional framework that Mr. Haekerup signed today (Tuesday) is an important step ahead in implementing the resolution 1244 of the U.N. Security Council," Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo told United Press International. Others, however, were not pleased with Tuesday's signing. The leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia for Kosovo, Marko Jaksic, said UNMIK had rewarded the Albanians for their 2-year genocidal policy toward the Serbs and other non-Albanians. He stressed that the international administration cannot ban the Serbs' autonomous bodies of authority. Ex-KLA leader Hashim Thaci denounced the constitutional framework saying he refused to endorse or recognize it if implemented. Dragor Hiber, a leader of Serbia's ruling Democratic Opposition bloc, said: "What is in question, to say the least, is a premature and hastened solution which rather than pacifying the situation is raising the temperature, which is unacceptable." Hiber also said Kosovo does not need a president. "Kosovo, as it is now, needs no president except in the sense that he will receive orders from UNMIK and KFOR (NATO-led peacekeeping force)," he said. (Lulzim Cota in Tirana, Albania, contributed to this report.) --
AP 8 May 2001 By LIUDAS DAPKUS - Hundreds of cherry trees from Japan will be planted in Lithuania's capital to honor a Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis in World War II, officials said Tuesday. Chiune Sugihara, Japan's deputy consul general in Lithuania as the war broke out, defied his government by issuing more than 6,000 visas to stranded Jewish refugees desperate to escape an impending Nazi invasion. Some 220,000 Jews were later killed during the 1941-44 Nazi occupation of this Baltic Sea coast nation. Sugihara is one of the most important rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, with up to 40,000 people, including descendants of survivors, owing their lives to him, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, which researches Nazi crimes. With the help of his wife, Yukiko, Sugihara wrote nearly 300 visas a day, working almost continuously for 29 days. Even as he was forced onto a train, he kept signing and passing out visas through a carriage window. Sugihara lost his job after the war and he was unknown in Japan until years after he died in 1986 at age 86. Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus initiated the memorial project after a visit to Japan last month. Japanese businessmen are helping finance the $100,000-project. Some 200 white blossom cherry trees, or sakuras, will be planted on Oct. 2 along the capital's Neris River. Others will go up by the president's office and some will be planted in Kaunas, the pre-war capital where Sugihara was based. Tokyo's mayor and Sugihara's son have been invited to attend the tree-planting ceremony, roughly timed to mark the 100th anniversary of Sugihara's birth, Vilnius city government spokeswoman Leva Dunajevaite said. ``These lovely trees will be a perfect monument to this great man,'' she said. Simonas Alperavicius, a leader of the Baltic country's 5,000-member Jewish community, also praised the planned memorial. ``It's good Lithuania finds ways like this to remind people what happened,'' he said. On the Net: A Web site about Chiune Sugihara - http://www.chiunesugihara100.com
BBC 2 May 2001 The Macedonian authorities say one person has been killed and two injured in an overnight shooting incident in the capital Skopje. The incident took place at a cafe owned by ethnic Albanians and follows large-scale attacks on Albanian property in the town of Bitola earlier this week. The latest reports say there was more violence in the town overnight, with at least ten shops owned by ethnic Albanians coming under attack. There have also been reports of sporadic violence in other parts of the country, with shots fired at the Albanian embassy in Skopje. The violence follows the killing of eight soldiers by ethnic-Albanian guerillas over the weekend.
IHT 3 May 2001 Rioting in Macedonia Takes a Deadly Turn Compiled by Our Staff From Dispatches AP, Reuters Slavic Unrest Follows Funerals for 8 Soldiers SKOPJE, Macedonia The wave of rioting provoked by the killing last week of eight government commandos by ethnic Albanian insurgents left one person dead and at least 10 shops demolished, the police said Wednesday. The police identified the victim as Ismet Hoxha, who was shot by a group of masked assailants with automatic guns and baseball bats after they broke into an ethnic Albanian pizzeria late Tuesday in a suburb of Skopje, the capital. . In ethnically mixed Bitola, about 170 kilometers (105 miles) southwest of Skopje, at least 10 ethnic Albanian shops were demolished overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday, in the second round of rioting in the city. The riots in Bitola, signaling outrage on the part of the Slavic majority in Macedonia, broke out early Tuesday, just hours after the funerals of the soldiers killed Saturday by ethnic Albanian extremists near the border with Kosovo. . Besides killing the eight soldiers, the militants wounded another six members of security forces in the attack, in the most deadly incident since clashes between government forces and ethnic Albanian insurgents flared in February. "The outrageous murders of our eight commandos are no reason to victimize innocent civilians - whether they be Albanians, Macedonians, Turks or others," said a government spokesman, Antonio Milososki, promising punishment of "all culprits." . In Washington on Tuesday, President Boris Trajkovski of Macedonia won support from top U.S. officials who pledged solidarity and economic support to the Macedonian government.
BBC 4 May 2001 The United States has urged the Macedonian Government to avoid civilian casualties in its latest offensive against ethnic Albanian guerrillas. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US condemned the "unprovoked killings" of two Macedonian soldiers in an ambush early on Thursday, and said it supported a "measured response" to Albanian attacks. We urge the Government of Macedonia to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties as they take the necessary steps to uphold the rule of law Richard Boucher, US State Department In response to the rebel ambush, Macedonian helicopter gunships and artillery fired on and around the village of Vackcince on Thursday afternoon. The Macedonian forces had ordered people in 11 villages near the north-eastern city of Kumanovo to evacuate, but both the army and the rebels said some villagers had remained. The authorities have imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in the area, but correspondents say government forces are ready to resume their offensive on Friday morning. 'All available means' The BBC's Nick Wood in Skopje says in spite of the fact that few civilians have actually left the area, the army seems determined to push ahead with its operation to flush out the rebels. The rebel NLA appears equally determined, and have responded to the latest Macedonian attacks with mortar fire. While Macedonian television reported that the army was using "all available means" against the insurgents, rebel leaders accused the military of indiscriminately shelling the villages of Slupcane and Vakcince - an accusation denied by army spokesman, Gjordi Trendafilov, who said they were acting selectively in an effort to protect civilian lives. It was in Vakcince where two Macedonian soldiers died at Vakcince early on Thursday morning as they were returning from a night border patrol, while a third was captured.
WP 7 May 2001 by R. Jeffrey Smith The Macedonian government put off a plan today to declare a formal state of war against ethnic Albanian rebels battling for control of the country's northwest. It acted in response to visiting European envoys who argued in meetings here that the move could divide the country and lead to civil war. Top Macedonian leaders spent the day debating an alternative plan to form a "consensus government" encompassing the nation's principal political parties and members of its ethnic Albanian minority and Slav majority. But after hours of discussion tonight, they had not reached agreement, although the Reuters news agency quoted Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski as saying, "The great percentage of the deal is done." NATO Secretary General George Robertson and European Union security affairs chief Javier Solana lobbied for the idea as a means of demonstrating national unity in the face of the rebel attacks, a move they hoped would undermine the rebels' popular support and prevent a wider conflict. Robertson said after meeting with Macedonian leaders that "this country may well be on the brink of an abyss, but I believe there is enough common sense and political courage to step back." He also forcefully expressed NATO's anger at the rebellion, assailing its organizers as a group of "murderous thugs out to destroy a democratic state." This round began when eight members of a special forces unit were ambushed and killed by guerrillas, sparking retaliatory attacks. Today, helicopter gunships pounded several villages for a third day, raising fresh concern that civilians could be caught in the crossfire. An estimated 800 ethnic Albanians have fled the region, crossing the border into the Serbian province of Kosovo. But another 1,500 or more civilians are estimated to remain hunkered down in the area, facing a mounting shortage of food. They have defied a government order to leave, prompting Robertson to allege that the rebels are trying to use the civilians as shields. "We came to tell the government to exercise restraint," said a NATO official with Robertson's group. He said that if there is a military solution to the rebellion, "Europe would love to hear about it," particularly Spain and Ireland, where governments have been confronting ethnic guerrillas for years. But, he said, "guns are not the way out of this situation . . . on either side." Solana told government officials that once a unified government was created, it could begin a serious dialogue about political reform that would drain away the rebels' remaining public support. One reform recommended by the 15-nation European Union is a decentralization of government to enhance ethnic Albanian political control over areas where the group represents a majority of the population. A second is revision of the preamble to the nation's constitution, which ethnic Albanians say slights members of their group and contributes to discrimination. Both ideas are hard for the nation's Slav leaders to swallow. Nikola Dimitrov, national security adviser to the president, said constitutional reform in particular would open the door to an eventual referendum in which ethnic Albanians could vote to separate from the country. "Our concept is a state of individuals," not groups, Dimitrov said. NATO first backed the idea of a unified government when fighting erupted two months ago, but agreement has been blocked by the insistence of the opposition Slav party that one of its officials be named interior minister, a powerful post that controls the police.
HRW 31 May 2001 Macedonian forces are systematically separating out ethnic Albanian males fleeing fierce fighting in northern Macedonia, and severely beating some of the men at police stations, Human Rights Watch said today. In the most severe cases documented by Human Rights Watch, the ill-treatment appears intended to extract confessions or information about the National Liberation Army (NLA) and amounts to torture. The fear of violence at the hands of the Macedonian police is also stopping many ethnic Albanians from fleeing to safety into government-controlled territory.
Many of the ethnic Albanians are reluctant to talk to international observers because they fear further retaliation from the Macedonian police, and have in some cases been warned by their abusers not to discuss their maltreatment. ... Large numbers of men continue to be separated out from convoys of fleeing civilians and taken to police stations. On Tuesday, May 29, Human Rights Watch researchers observed a group of approximately thirty-five ethnic Albanian men from the village of Matejce who were separated from their female relatives and taken into the police station at Kumanovo. http://hrw.org/press/2001/05/macedonia0530.htm
AP 15 May 2001 by Andrzej Stylinski A 78-year-old Pole pleaded innocent Tuesday to charges he collaborated with the Nazis to help kill Jews in a death camp in Poland during World War II, a court spokesman said. The defendant, identified only as Henryk M., of Szczecin in northwestern Poland, went on trial before a local court in the western city of Konin. He is accused of taking part in acts of genocide at the Chelmno Nazi death camp between Dec. 8, 1941, and April 7, 1943. The central Polish town of Chelmno was the site of the first Nazi extermination camp. Jews were gassed to death there by exhaust fumes from trucks as early as 1941. Historians say the Nazis also used the deadly Zyklon B gas for the first time in Chelmno. Arrested last November, Henryk M. is specifically accused of beating Jewish prisoners, taking their valuables and leading them into gas chambers. Under Poland's 1944 decree on prosecuting Nazi-era criminals, he could face a life sentence if convicted. The defendant told the court he was forced to work in the camp by the Nazis and threatened with death if he tried to escape. He refused to provide further testimony, Judge Waldemar Cytrowski of the Konin regional court said by telephone. The case was adjourned until Wednesday after three hours, he said. It is the first such charge to be brought by the National Remembrance Institute, set up by the government to manage and investigate communist-era police files and documents relating to Stalinist and Nazi crimes. It began work last June. About 3 million of Poland's prewar Jewish community of 3.5 million people died in the Nazi Holocaust. It claimed a total of 6 million Jewish lives across Europe. Polish sources say as many as 300,000 people, mostly Jews from the ghetto in the city of Lodz, were killed at Chelmno. Henryk M. is the only survivor of seven Poles who were on the camp technical staff, investigators said. The others never faced charges.
AP 15 May 2001 By BEATA PASEK More than 30 years after dozens of protesting shipyard workers were gunned down, Poland's last communist dictator, Gen. Wojcieh Jaruzelski, went on trial Tuesday on charges he ordered the massacre. Long delayed by politics and illness, the landmark trial is part of Poland's long and frustrating effort to call the old communist regime to account for its crimes. Jaruzelski is the only top former communist leader to be brought to trial. He and nine co-defendants could get 25 years if convicted, but the case is widely seen as more of an effort to achieve moral justice than to put the old general behind bars. Jaruzelski, 77, has staunchly maintained he is innocent. He arrived at Warsaw's Provincial Court wearing his trademark dark glasses and walking with a cane. His only utterance was an affirmative answer to a judge's question about whether he agreed with a motion by his lawyers to reject the indictment. Forty-four workers were killed and more than 1,000 injured while protesting price increases in the Baltic coast cities of Gdynia, Gdansk, Szczecin and Elblag on Dec. 17, 1970. Jaruzelski, who was defense minister at the time, is charged with ordering the military to fire. The killings galvanized Poles to fight communism, especially in the Baltic shipyards. The founder of the Solidarity movement that eventually toppled communist rule, Lech Walesa, was a member of the Gdansk shipyard's strike committee in 1970. Jaruzelski was Poland's leader from 1981, when he imposed martial law to crack down on Solidarity, until 1989, the year communist rule was toppled. A previous effort to try him in Gdansk in 1996 collapsed after he and several others were excluded for health reasons. In 1999, Poland's Supreme Court ordered a new trial and moved it to Warsaw, where Jaruzelski lives and has a state-financed office. Jaruzelski reportedly suffers from back and kidney problems, along with high blood pressure. He frequently wears dark glasses, even indoors, because of a condition that makes his eyes sensitive to light. Doctors are expected to keep a close watch on the retired general, and the court has agreed to limit hearings to three or four hours. With hundreds of possible witnesses, the trial is expected to last at least a year. The next session is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Among the audience in the packed courtroom Tuesday were army veterans who turned out to support the old general. ``It's a political game dictated by the desire to get back at Jaruzelski for the fact that he introduced martial law,'' said Aleksander Chmielewski, an ex-lieutenant. ``But if he hadn't done that, there would have been a bloodbath in Poland. The Soviets would have come in to crush Solidarity.'' Two other similar pending cases relate to the 1981 martial law crackdown against Solidarity. One involves 22 riot police charged with the deaths of nine protesting miners, and Jaruzelski's interior minister, Gen. Czeslaw Kiszczak, is charged with issuing orders to shoot.
Communist-era Polish Interior Minister Pleads Not Guilty to Massacre Charges VOA News 16 May 2001 14:44 UTC A communist-era Polish interior minister has pleaded not guilty to charges of issuing orders for police to shoot striking miners two decades ago, dismissing the charges as political. The trial of communist-era General Czeslaw Kiszczak opened Wednesday in Warsaw. He was an aide to then communist leader, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, who ordered martial law in December, 1981, to crush the Solidarity trade union and democracy movement. Prosecutors allege General Kiszczak sent a coded message ordering riot police to use live ammunition to stop the strike. Nine miners were killed in the action. General Kiszczak faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty. He was acquitted of the same charges in 1996, but an appeals court ordered a retrial. The trial of his former boss, General Jaruzelski, resumes Thursday. The former Polish leader is charged with ordering a separate massacre of striking workers in 1970 in which 44 people were killed and 1,000 others wounded. General Jaruzelski was Poland's defense minister at the time of the shootings. His lawyers say he never ordered the strikers shot.
AP 17 May 2001 [full text] Lawyers for former Polish communist leader Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski quit Thursday, again frustrating efforts to try him in the shooting deaths of 44 protesting shipyard workers in 1970. The two attorneys stunned a packed Warsaw court with their announcement, raising the specter of more postponements in a trial delayed for years by politics and the aging general's ill health. Jaruzelski, 77, in court for a second day, denied he was trying to buy time and asked the court to appoint new defense attorneys. ``I'm interested in the trial taking place because the verdict of public opinion has already been made without any grounds,'' he said. The chief judge ordered the trial to go on with the same lawyers until new appointed ones take over. The next session was set for Friday. Even if new attorneys are found quickly, they could file a motion for a delay to become familiar with evidence that fills about 200 volumes. Forty-four workers were killed and more than 1,000 injured while protesting price increases in the Baltic coast cities of Gdynia, Gdansk, Szczecin and Elblag on Dec. 17, 1970. Jaruzelski, the defense minister at the time, is charged with ordering the military to fire. He and eight co-defendants could get 25 years if convicted, but the case is widely seen as more of an effort to achieve moral justice than to put the old general behind bars. His attorneys, Witold Rozwens and Kazimierz Lojewski, quit after the court refused to throw out what they contended was a flawed and lengthy indictment. ``The case is not going to end before the end of my professional career,'' Rozwens said. Turning to Jaruzelski, he said: ``I regret that I cannot defend you any longer, General.'' Lojewski also said age would not permit him to take on a trial that could last years. Both attorneys are in their 70s. Rozwens complained that the 400-page indictment calls for 1,200 witnesses to testify and statements of another 3,200 to be read in court. ``We want an indictment formulated in a decent way so that the trial could end in a decent time,'' he said. A previous effort to try Jaruzelski in Gdansk in 1996 collapsed after he was excluded for health reasons. In 1999, Poland's Supreme Court ordered a new trial and moved it to Warsaw, where Jaruzelski lives. Jaruzelski suffers from back and kidney problems, along with high blood pressure. He wears dark glasses, even indoors, because of a condition that makes his eyes sensitive to light.
HRW New York, May 15, 2001) -- Russian authorities have literally buried evidence of extra-judicial executions in Chechnya, according to Human Rights Watch. In a 24-page report, Burying the Evidence: The Botched Investigation into a Mass Grave in Chechnya, released today, the organization documents the Russian government’s botched investigation of a mass gravesite discovered in late February 2001. -- On February 24, a dumping ground for human remains was discovered in the village of Dachny (also called Zdorovye), located less than a kilometer from the main Russian military base in Chechnya. The corpses of fifty-one people were eventually found in the vicinity; nineteen bodies were identified, at least sixteen of which were the remains of people who were last seen alive in the custody of Russian federal forces. Most were in civilian clothing, some were blindfolded, and many had their hands or feet bound. The mass "dumping site"-the bodies were dumped along streets in the village and in abandoned cottages over an extended period of time-provides striking evidence of the practice of forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial execution of civilians by Russian federal forces in Chechnya. Federal and local authorities denied responsibility for the deaths of those found at the site and instead blamed the deaths on Chechen rebel forces and criminal gangs. However, the area where the mass dumping ground was found has been under Russian military control since December 1999, long before the vast majority of the bodies were deposited there. The Russian government's investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of those found at the site has been wholly inadequate. Russian authorities failed to provide adequate time or information for identifying the bodies, so that the victims' relatives often did not know that they could view the bodies or learned about the identification process only through word of mouth. Russian authorities also conducted the investigation in a manner that did not preserve potentially crucial evidence that might have led to the identification of those responsible for the torture and execution-style killings of the more than fifty persons found at the site. The investigation provided further evidence of the Russian government's refusal to take meaningful steps to identify the perpetrators of serious human rights abuses by its forces and hold them accountable. Dachny was not the first site of unmarked graves to be found in Chechnya, although it is the largest found to date. In March, Human Rights Watch issued a report, "The `Dirty War' in Chechnya: Forced Disappearances, Torture and Summary Executions," documenting eight mass graves and eight other makeshift burial sites where corpses of the "disappeared" and others had been found.1 Most of the people whose bodies were found in those graves were last seen in the custody of Russian federal forces, and most bore unmistakable signs of torture. Injuries commonly found on the bodies included broken limbs, flayed body parts, severed fingertips, and knife and gunshot wounds. http://www.hrw.org/reports/2001/chechnya2/Mgrave.htm#INTRODUCTION
BBC 17 May, 2001 [full text] Moscow's Jews have been waiting over a century for the new dome Russia's Jewish community has celebrated a symbolic renaissance as Moscow's main synagogue finally saw the restoration of its domed roof and gilded Star of David after a 113-year absence. Legend says the governor-general thought synagogue was a church Taken down in the 1880s on the orders of Tsar Alexander III after only a year in existence, the missing dome came to represent the repression of Judaism first in Russia and later in the Soviet Union. Historians say the Tsar was bending to the wishes of the Russian Orthodox Church at the time, which insisted that only its own symbols mark the city skyline. But Moscow legend has it that the order came after the governor-general confused the building for a church, crossed himself and then, realising his mistake, angrily demanded that the dome be dismantled. Years of totalitarianism Since its removal the authorities had never allowed the domed roof to be rebuilt. The new dome is now a prominent sight on the Moscow skyline "It's the rebirth of the Jewish community after 70 years of totalitarianism," President of the Russian Jewish Congress Leonid Nevzlin said at the ceremony for the new dome. Chief Rabbi Adolf Shayevich was joined by the head of Russia's Roman Catholic Church Tadeush Kondrusevich, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov and Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matviyenko amid tight security at the celebrations. The US and Israeli ambassadors looked on as Mr Luzhkov laid a cornerstone of a new community centre which is to be built alongside the synagogue. Laser show Musicians played traditional Klezmer fiddle tunes while a group of children released a flock of white doves with ribbons tied to their tails and a laser light show illuminated the new dome. The Jewish community turned out in force The ceremony came on the same day that the Jewish Congress elected Mr Nevzlin as its new president following the resignation of Vladimir Gusinsky. Mr Gusinsky fled to Spain last summer to avoid prosecution for what he says are politically motivated fraud charges.
Moscow Times 23 May 2001, By Nabi Abdullaev, MAKHACHKALA, Dagestan The prosecution's case against seven men accused in the attack on an OMON unit in Chechnya last year hit a snag Tuesday when the first witness — one of the defendants — retracted his statements. One of the main charges against the men — participation in an illegal armed formation fighting federal troops — was based on testimony given by one of them, 18-year-old Eduard Valiakhmetov, after he was taken into custody. He was the first witness called in the trial, which opened Monday in Dagestan's Supreme Court. Valiakhmetov testified that the other defendants definitely were not the ones whose photographs the investigators had shown him, asking him to identify them as members of an Islamic rebel's detachment. "I was under pressure from the investigators," he told Judge Butta Uvaisov. Valiakhmetov, a native of Tatarstan, denied being a member of the rebel formation and said he had been taken hostage in Chechnya. He said he went there in 1999 to study Islam and martial arts in one of the training camps organized by Khattab, a warlord of Arab origin. Camp authorities accused him of being an FSB syp and took him hostage, the defendant said. A similar story was earlier told to investigators by another defendant, Shamil Kitov, 31. The column of Perm OMON troops was attacked in southern Chechnya on March 29, 2000. The rebels killed 32 servicemen on the spot and took 11 hostage, offering to trade them for Colonel Yury Budanov, who is accused of murdering a young Chechen woman. When federal authorities refused, the hostages were killed. Four of the five surviving servicemen were present in the court Tuesday. In informal talks, they expressed little hope that justice would be served because all but two of the defendants are Dagestani. "It's because of the nationalist principles," said one of the officers, meaning that Dagestani judges would favor the Dagestani defendants.
BBC 3 May 2001 (BBC Monitoring) Text of report by Serbian TV satellite service on 2 May. [Announcer]: "Albanian terrorists in southern Serbia and Macedonia have found themselves in a State Department annual report on terrorism in the world, but not formally yet on the list of terrorist organizations that Washington puts together in accordance with U.S. laws, if it determines that they represent a threat to its citizens or the U.S. national interests. At a briefing, U.S. State Department representative Edmund Hull was asked why the Albanian armed groups were not on the list of terrorist organizations. Hull explained that this was a report for last year, and stressed that all these Albanian groups could find themselves on the next list. He again reiterated the State Department's concern over the activities of the so-called Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac [UCPMB] and the armed Albanian groups in Macedonia. [Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic]: It is important that finally this Albanian terrorist group has been put where it belongs, that is, among terrorists. What these groups have been doing in Kosovo, the three southern Serbian municipalities and Macedonia cannot be called anything but terrorism. I expect the fact that the U.S. have said this so openly to affect the continued change of policy towards the crisis in southern Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia. I also expect these initial rational attitudes by the international community, and the U.S. primarily, to be finally defined, so that these armed groups are not only called terrorist but also treated accordingly. I expect the continuation of our own and the international policy to solve this problem fully. Source: RTS TV, Belgrade, in Serbo-Croat
Dawn (Karachi) 3 May 2001 Serbia needs moral cleansing By Eric S. Margolis (Toronto Star) Serbia's reformist prime minister, Zoran Djindjic, says Serbs must bear 'witness to a mad time.' At long last, the truth about Milosevic, who was deposed last October, is beginning to emerge from behind thick clouds of lies and disinformation. Even so, diehard supporters of Milosevic's crypto-fascist regime are busy mounting yet another propaganda offensive to falsely depict Milosevic's Serbia as an innocent victim of western machinations rather than the brutal, racist, criminal state it really was. Milosevic was lately taken to hospital from his comfortable jail cell in Belgrade, suffering from heart problems and, no doubt, the fear that he will be poisoned to silence him. An indicted war criminal, Milosevic was responsible for Europe's worst atrocities since Stalin and Hitler, and four wars that killed 250,000 civilians and left three million homeless. Yet he has only been charged so far with tax evasion and misallocation of state funds. Ironically, Milosevic is likely innocent of the last charge. He recently admitted diverting state funds to secretly finance Serb nationalists, and gangsters like his former ally Arkan, in their campaigns of ethnic terrorism in Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo. The United Nations War Crimes Tribunal demands Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) extradite Milosevic and 22 other indicted Serb war criminals to The Hague to stand trial for atrocities in Kosovo. The UN is also preparing charges against them for crimes committed in Bosnia and Croatia, where the number of the dead, tortured, and raped exceeded those in Kosovo. Bodies of Muslims massacred by Serbs in Bosnia during the mid-1990s are still being dug up almost daily. So far, Vojislav Kostunica, Yugoslavia's anti-western federal president, has refused to comply with the UN warrant, though he did jail Milosevic for 30 days in order to receive US $50 million in desperately needed funds from Washington. Support for Milosevic remains strong in Serbia, particularly in the army, which is still commanded by Milosevic loyalists, and among farmers. Serb democratic reformers must tread lightly lest they provoke a counter-coup by hardliners, among whom are many senior officials who grew rich because of corruption and the black market. Kostunica's hold on power remains shaky in spite of the West's ill-advised efforts to shore him up as the new 'stabilizer' of the Balkans. While many Serbs are understandably reluctant to see the full spectrum of Milosevic's crimes revealed, there are plenty of American and European officials and politicians who do not want their long collaboration with the criminal Milosevic regime revealed. Were Milosevic tried in The Hague, the world would discover that: France secretly passed top secret information to Belgrade before and during NATO's 1999 military action against Yugoslavia; Britain and Canada repeatedly thwarted military action by NATO to stop ethnic massacres in Bosnia; Greece and Cyprus helped finance the Milosevic regime and busted NATO's embargo of Yugoslavia; and Britain and France sought to block German influence in the Balkans by aiding Serbia. It would also know that: western powers conspired to deny independence to Montenegro; Italy's socialist government played a key role in saving the Milosevic regime from bankruptcy in 1996 by pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Serbia; Russia and Ukraine broke the UN embargo, supplying Serbia with arms, oil, and soldiers; America's Balkan proconsul Richard Holbrooke helped legitimize and sustain the Milosevic regime; Milosevic and the late Croat leader, Franjo Tudjman, conspired to divide Bosnia. In other words, the long, sordid, cynical, saga of the West's preservation of the Milosevic regime in order to maintain the Balkan status quo. And the UN's own disgraceful record in Bosnia of putting the charade of 'peacekeeping' before saving of human lives and stopping crimes against humanity. And the policy of appeasement championed by Britain's left-leaning Lord Owen, and Canada's own leading Milosevic apologist, Lewis Mackenzie. The western powers must keep intense pressure on Yugoslavia to hand Milosevic, and his baleful wife and eminence noire, Mirjana, the president of Serbia, and other war criminals to justice in The Hague. Unless they do this, Serb democrats like Zoran Djindjic and his youthful, educated supporters will be undermined. Djindjic, who is locked in rivalry for power with Kostunica, is the best man to lead his nation and deserves much stronger western support. Before Serbia can rejoin the family of democratic nations, it must thoroughly purge itself of the evil notions of its crypto-nazi nationalists: Greater Serbia, Slav racial purity, an Orthodox crusade against Islam, Serb 'lebensraum.' Kostunica has called for a 'national catharsis.' This won't work until Serb nationalist-extremists and ordinary citizens face the truth and atone for their past, as Germans have successfully done, stop blaming others for their largely self-inflicted misfortunes, and cease threatening the lives of journalists at home and abroad. Many Serbs now blame Milosevic for losing four wars. But not, it seems, for unleashing a storm of Nazi-style hatred and racism. Serbia's national catharsis is yet to be accomplished.-Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2001 http://www.foreigncorrespondent.com/archive/serbia_needs.html
AFP May 3 2001 Belgrade - A Kosovo Albanian refrigerator truck containing 50 bodies, including women and children, was pulled from the Danube river in April 1999 during NATO's air war against Yugoslavia, a daily reported Thursday. A diver from eastern Serbia revealed the "top secret" discovery to a local magazine describing his horror at finding the bodies piled in the truck's compartment, the daily Vecernje Novosti reported. "Bodies started to slither out of the refrigerator. There were many bodies of women, children and elderly people. Some of the women were dressed in traditional Muslim dress, while some children and elderly people were naked," said Zivadin Djordjevic. "The scene was horrifying," he added. The truck, registered in the western Kosovo town of Pec to a company with an Albanian name, was pulled from the river at Tekije, some 250 kilometres (180 miles) east of Belgrade. The truck was reportedly discovered on April 6, 1999, less than two weeks after the start of the 11-week NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia to end Belgrade's repression of Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority. Yugoslav forces and Serbian paramilitaries were accused by the West of committing widespread atrocities against ethnic Albanian civilians in Kosovo during their fight with ethnic Albanian guerrillas of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in 1998 and 1999. The report, widely picked up in the Belgrade media, appeared to be first of its kind ever to appear in the Serbian press. Local police and court officials were immediately informed about the case, as was the leadership of the Serbian interior ministry, namely General Vlastimir Djordjevic, deputy interior minister at the time, the magazine Timochka Krimi Revija said. "Soon an order arrived from the top to classify all information related to the case as top secret," said the magazine, run by a former local policeman. The magazine also listed the names of local police and court officials who it said had been notified about the case. "When we came the next morning to conduct an investigation, we were told by Milan Stevanovic, a senior local police official, that nothing had happened," a local magistrate was quoted as telling the magazine. The original truck plates from Pec were destroyed after being replaced by local ones, the magazine said, adding that the bodies were loaded on to another truck with Belgrade plates and driven away to an unknown destination. The original truck was transported to a training center for special police in a nearby village, and blown up with 30 kilograms of explosives. Only small pieces could still be seen in a nearby orchard, the magazine said.
Saturday, 12 May, 2001, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK Violence precedes Basque poll ETA is said to be behind the latest car bomb attack With campaigns officially closed ahead of Sunday's elections in Spain's autonomous Basque region, the Spanish media is focusing on the latest wave of violence to hit the country. Coinciding with the end of campaigns at midnight on Saturday, a powerful car bomb exploded in one of central Madrid's busiest streets, injuring 13 people. Ibarretxe says he will not accept votes from ETA's allies The attack has been attributed to the Basque separatist group ETA, as has last Sunday's fatal shooting of a senior politician from Spain's ruling Popular Party. These are the latest in a series of bomb attacks and shootings since ETA called off a 14-month truce in November 1999. The group has since been blamed for 30 deaths. Opinion polls suggest voters in the Basque region are closely split between Basque nationalists, both moderate and extreme, and those who prefer a pro-Madrid administration. Polarisation For the first time since the region was granted broad autonomy in 1980, the centre-right Popular Party (PP), in a unique alliance with the Socialist opposition, could obtain a majority in the Basque parliament and, with it, the regional presidency. Euskal Herritarrok says moves toward independence have not been enough Up until now, that post has been occupied by the moderate but pro-self-determination Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). However, the PNV has been unable to govern effectively since Euskal Herritarrok, ETA's political arm, withdrew its support, arguing insufficient progress toward independence. The PNV's candidate for president, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, has said he will not accept the votes of ETA's allies. His main rival, the PP's Jaime Mayor Oreja, has promised an all-out crusade against ETA, and stronger ties with Madrid. Many worry his stance will further polarise the region and lead to more violence. High alert A record 5,000 police will be deployed for the elections, 2,000 more than for the 1998 polls. Mayor Oreja could be the region's first non-nationalist leader Security forces in Madrid and other cities are also on high alert. Saturday night's car bomb served as a reminder that threat of violence is always there. No-one was killed in the attack, but the authorities say it could have been a massacre. The bomb went off in one of the capital's busiest streets, Goya Street, just after midnight local time (2300GMT) - a time when it is normally thronged with people. There was a telephone warning several minutes before the explosion from someone claiming to be from ETA. "Once again, this shows that ETA is a gang of killers," Interior Minister Mariano Rajoy said. But no-one has so far claimed responsibility for the blast.
BBC 14 May, 2001 The Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon has ordered the arrest of Chile's former defence minister, Hernan Julio Brady, who served under military ruler Augusto Pinochet. Judge Garzon wants to question Mr Brady in connection with the disappearance and death of the Spanish diplomat Carmelo Soria in Chile during the period of military rule. His order is opposed by the Spanish public prosecutor, who maintains that the Spanish courts do not have responsibility for such an investigation and that there is no evidence to support the crime. Mr Brady, whose exact whereabouts are unknown, is reported to be somewhere in Germany. The Spanish diplomat was working for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean in Santiago. He was abducted by General Pinochet's secret police on July 14 1976, and later murdered. The case of Carmelo Soria - whose status as a United Nations diplomat did not save him - was just one of over 3,000 documented disappearances under General Pinochet's rule. Carmelo Soria was murdered 25 years ago Earlier this year the family of the Spanish diplomat asked for the case to be reopened in Chile.
BBC 13 May, 2001 Turkey's ambassador to France has returned to Paris after a four-month row over French recognition of the mass killing of Armenians during World War I. Koksal Ambassador Sonmez Koksal was withdrawn in January, shortly after the French parliament passed a bill asserting that the Turkish Ottoman Empire had committed genocide in 1915. In a further sign of anger, Turkey cancelled a number of contracts with French companies, including a lucrative airports contract. "Turkish-French relations have been hurt by this incident," Mr Koksal told reporters at Istanbul's Ataturk airport, before flying out to France on Sunday. "But I believe that both sides will do their utmost to heal this wound," he said. The European Union - which Turkey is eager to join - stepped into the row earlier in the year, warning Turkey that it was investigating the legality of its sanctions against France. Even Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit warned his nation not to overreact. "Let's not hurt ourselves by hurting France," he said. "Let's not trample on international rules".
BBC 15 May, 2001, Bradford intimidation claims denied Parts of Bradford were the scene of rioting last month By social affairs reporter Barnie Choudhury Allegations that Hindu families are being driven out of their homes by young Muslims in Bradford have been disputed by local community leaders. West Yorkshire police have confirmed they are aware that tensions between some members of the two communities exist. But Muslim leaders have strongly denied that attempts have been made to exclude Hindus from some areas of the city, saying such behaviour would not be tolerated. Violence flared between Asian and white youths last month in the Lidget Green area leading to rioting and criminal damage to properties and cars. The latest allegations are being made by Hasmukh Shah, one of 12 international trustees of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) - a high profile worldwide Hindu organisation. Critics say it is a right wing fundamentalist movement - a charge which the VHP denies. During last month's riots, Mr Shah's pharmacy was allegedly firebombed and he says it will cost £750,000 to rebuild. He believes the attack came from Muslim youths, targeting him because of his religion. Warning He says over the past 10 years he has seen the Hindu population in some areas of Bradford fall from 5,000 to about 500. Violence, intimidation - no matter where it comes from - is to be condemned Ishtiaq Ahmed, Bradford Council of Mosques "This is a clear warning to the home secretary and the police that if they do not want the streets of British cities to become like Taleban-controlled Afghanistan then they have to take immediate action," he said. "This is really a demographic, systematic ethnic cleansing." It is a claim vehemently denied by Muslim leaders who say violence is not tolerated. Ishtiaq Ahmed, general secretary of the Bradford Council of Mosques said: "There isn't any real friction between Hindus and Muslims. "These communities live together, work together and they are neighbours living in the same areas. "Violence, intimidation - no matter where it comes from - as far as I'm concerned, it is to be condemned." 'No exodus' But some Hindus report that they feel intimidated in their neighbourhoods, with some elderly residents complaining they are threatened and jostled by Muslim youths. Others said they were moving out of areas such as Lidget Green because they felt vulnerable. However West Yorkshire police Assistant Chief Constable Greg Wilkinson told BBC Radio 4's Today programme some Hindus had left certain areas, but not in large numbers. "I certainly don't see any evidence of an exodus. There always will be movement of communities - communities move to improve their lot." But he added: "If people do feel they are being driven out we want to know about that, we want to work with them." Mr Wilkinson said he believed that the problem of "disenfranchised youth" lay behind the recent disorder, adding: "I don't think we can excuse it on ethnic tension".
BBC 27 May, 2001 Rioting youths fight police Police lines have been pelted with bricks Police have been battling to control riots involving up to 500 young people armed with petrol bombs and bricks in Oldham. Greater Manchester police said the situation was a "major incident", and about 500 reinforcement officers in riot gear have been drafted in. Several people were taken to hospital during the incident, which is believed to have flared after clashes between about 20 white and Asian youths just after 2030BST on Saturday. By 0200BST, riot police had contained a group of around 400 Asian youths in the Glodwick area of the town. A pub is reported to have been attacked, cars torched and police lines attacked with petrol bombs and bricks. Police are believed to have made several arrests and about 20 officers have been injured. A spokesman for Greater Manchester police said: "The situation follows fighting between white football fans and Asian youths. "A small number of police vehicles have received minor damage and a small number of officers have received minor injuries." BBC reporter Jim Clarke said a police chief superintendent at the scene had told him the idea was to pen the trouble into a contained area. He said officers had made baton charges to clear the area, but had not moved after reports of a firearm being discharged. A Greater Manchester Police spokesman later confirmed a firearm had been recovered. Tension Senior police officers have met with local councillors and community leaders in an effort to restore order in the town. Oldham has been a flashpoint of racist violence between white and Asian youths in recent weeks. Problems in the area were brought to light when some Asian youths claimed they wanted to create "no-go zones" for white people because police had failed to react to attacks on their communities. An attack on 76-year old war veteran Walter Chamberlain resulted in the National Front staging protests in the town, despite a three-month ban on political marches.
AP 8 May 2001 By EDITH M. LEDERER The Yugoslav president said Tuesday he will ``facilitate and support'' a law to cooperate with the U.N. war crimes tribunal, which is seeking extradition of his predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic. ``We are very firm about, and aware of our international obligations, including those with The Hague tribunal,'' Vojislav Kostunica told reporters after meeting U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. ``But we need a legal frame for that cooperation at this moment.'' Kostunica has been vague on whether Yugoslavia will extradite Milosevic to the tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, insisting that the former president must first face charges at home. Kostunica said ``legal provisions'' were first needed to have ``normal and developing relations'' with the tribunal. ``What is a possibility - and I would say more than a possibility - what is future reality ... is actually that I would facilitate and support enactment on the law of cooperation with The Hague tribunal,'' he said. Milosevic and his four top aides were indicted in 1999 by the war crimes tribunal in connection with atrocities committed against Kosovo Albanians. The former president was arrested April 1 on suspicion of corruption and abuse of power during his 13-year rule and is currently in Belgrade's Central Prison. Last month, Powell certified that Yugoslavia had offered some cooperation with the tribunal, thus ensuring that $50 million in U.S. assistance would not be cut off. Kostunica was in New York to accept a ``Statesman of the Year'' award from the nonprofit EastWest Institute for his role in the October election and revolution that overthrew Milosevic's regime.
AFP 14 May 2001 Some 550 Albanians fled the southern Serbian region around Presevo on Sunday and Monday, following weekend clashes between Albanian guerrillas and Yugoslav forces in the region, the UN refugee agency said. The displaced arrived in the region around the Kosovo town of Gnjilance, from Oraovica, Presevo, Norca and Kurbalije in southern Serbia, said Astrid Van Genderen Stort, spokeswoman of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She added that, by mid-Monday, Albanians from Presevo valley in southern Serbia were continuing to cross the administrative border with Kosovo, which is currently administrated by the UN. On Saturday, a 12-year-old boy was shot dead and his sister was seriously injured in fighting near the village of Oraovica, one kilometre north of Presevo. Earlier Saturday, mortar fire and automatic gunfire were heard in the area, according to an AFP correspondent. The Albanian rebels have gained control of Oraovica and set up a check point on the road to Presevo. Dozens of cars carried women and children to safety in towns near Presevo and Bujanovac. In Presevo, the population flocked to shops to stockpile supplies. The UNHCR said it was concerned, and held that a return of Yugoslav forces to sector B in the buffer zone would have similar consequences on the population. The buffer zone was created after the war in Kosovo in 1999 to keep Yugoslav troops and KFOR peacekeepers apart. Only lightly armed Serbian police were allowed to enter the five-kilometre (three-mile) wide strip of land. But the guerrillas began using the zone as a hiding place to launch hit and run attacks on the security forces. On March 14, NATO allowed the Yugoslav army to begin progressively moving into the area, but sector B, where the guerrillas are based, remained off-limits to the soldiers. NATO was to decide on Monday whether to allow Yugoslav forces back into Sector B. The LAPMB has been fighting for more than a year for the predominantly ethnic Albanian border area to either win autonomy or be joined to neighboring Kosovo, a breakaway UN-run Serbian province which is 95 percent ethnic Albanian.
BBC 24 May, 2001 Yugoslav officials have given details of the draft law on extraditing suspected war criminals - including the former president, Slobodan Milosevic - to the International War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. Under the law, requests for extradition would be handled by Yugoslav courts. The suspects would also have the right to have their case reviewed locally if the courts agreed to the extradition. The Yugoslav parliament is expected to discuss the bill later this week. The draft law comes as a response to international demands for Yugoslav co-operation with the tribunal. Current Yugoslav laws do not allow the extradition of suspects abroad. The war crimes tribunal revealed on Wednesday that there are 12 sealed or secret indictments against alleged perpetrators of Balkan atrocities. The names of the accused and details of the indictments have not been not released. As a matter of course, sealed indictments are not made public until arrests are made, to avoid tipping off the suspect. The 12 newly announced arrest warrants are in addition to 26 individuals publicly indicted and who are still at large. Prosecution spokeswoman Florence Hartmann said that out of the total 38 suspects walking free, 26 are in the Serb part of Bosnia - Republika Srpska - and 12 are in Yugoslavia. Arrest She did not reveal their ethnic backgrounds. Mr Milosevic was arrested in Belgrade on 1 April on suspicion of abuse of power during his 13 years in office. The government has repeatedly pledged to try him at home on a series of charges, including war crimes. Mr Milosevic, along with four aides, was indicted by the UN court in 1999 for atrocities committed by Serb troops in Kosovo. Several other Serb war crimes fugitives are also believed to be in Yugoslavia or neighbouring Bosnia, including former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and their wartime military commander, General Ratko Mladic.
BBC 25 May, 2001 Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic ordered the destruction of material that could have implicated him in war crimes, say Serbian police. "Milosevic ordered former Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic to take measures in order to eliminate all the traces which could lead to any evidence of crimes committed," said Dragan Karleusa, a top official at the Serbian interior ministry. In particular, he said, Mr Milosevic had ordered the removal of evidence which would indicate the existence of civilian victims of the Serb repression of Kosovo Albanians in 1999. Mr Milosevic and Mr Stojiljkovic have been indicted for war crimes in Kosovo by The Hague tribunal, but correspondents say this is the first time authorities in his own country have linked Mr Milosevic to war crimes allegations. The alleged cover-up was revealed during a police investigation into reports of a lorry filled with corpses that was dumped in the River Danube in 1999. Mr Karleusa said more than 50 corpses - possibly of Kosovan civilians - were found in the refrigerated truck. He said Mr Milosevic declared the case a state secret, preventing an investigation. The former president and his key allies had discussed a "cleaning up of the terrain" in Kosovo, Mr Karleusa said. He said Mr Milosevic had ordered his police to remove corpses "which could become the topic of possible investigation by the Hague tribunal". Investigation The truck has never been found and witnesses and news reports said that the bodies had been removed. Police have so far discovered that the corpses were taken to an unknown location near Belgrade in two trucks. They are continuing their investigation into Mr Milosevic's involvement. So far they have not interrogated the ex-president. "For now, it's clear that this was a case of removing evidence of criminal acts," said Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic. The police are expected to file criminal charges once the investigation is completed. Extradition Human rights organisations and the UN tribunal have in the past accused Mr Milosevic of shipping the bodies of Kosovan civilians outside the province in a systematic attempt to cover up war crimes. Jean-Jacques Joris, an adviser to the Hague's chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, said the police investigations make "clear that Milosevic was directly involved in the crimes committed in Kosovo". If Yugoslav courts establish evidence of war crimes it could speed Mr Milosevic's extradition to face charges before the international tribunal. The Yugoslav Government is preparing a new law, which would allow his extradition - a process presently barred by the Yugoslav constitution. Mr Milosevic is currently in prison in Belgrade facing charges of corruption and abuse of power.
UN Integrated Regional Information Network (Nairobi) May 5, 2001 Posted to the web May 5, 2001 Persevering with a peacekeeping presence under adverse circumstances, such as those which obtained in the run-up to the 1994 Rwandan genocide, may sometimes be the "least bad" option available, according to a report on Monday by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the closure of UN peace operations. Any decision to close a peacekeeping mission was influenced by its success or failure in relation to the mandate given it by the UN Security Council, but it was "in the grey area between clear success and failure that a decision becomes complex", it said. The report highlighted the Rwandan case (among others), where a UN peacekeeping mission was reduced, leaving hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus to be killed. "The genocide in Rwanda that followed the Council decision to radically reduce, rather than reinforce, the capacities of UNAMIR [the UN Mission in Rwanda] has occasioned soul-searching and painful assessments of responsibility," the report stated. In financial terms, reinforcing the mission to prevent the genocide would have cost US $500 million, while - apart altogether from the human and social costs - humanitarian assistance to Rwanda and the region after the genocide topped US $4.5 billion.
Prevent Genocide International