News Monitor for October 2001
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World Amazigh Action Coalition (Washington, DC) 16 Oct 2001 Riots Continue in El-Kseur The city of El-Kseur has witnessed violent confrontations between young protesters and certain members of anti-riot forces since Friday, October 5, after representatives were prevented from reaching Algiers in a march. The total count of wounded protesters since the rioting started up again in this area reached 49, according to Liberté (8 October), which received its information from the polyclinic of El-Kseur, where the wounded were brought for treatment. Since that Friday night, upon the return of the first frustrated representatives to Naciria, young people spontaneously descended upon state police barracks after having barricaded all the city's major roadways with random objects and flaming tires. The next day, the riled up youths of El-Kseur returned to the fray. The headquarters of the town police as well as the state police brigade were targets of the rioters, who showered them with rocks and Molotov cocktails. All of the city's main roadways were cut off by barricades that demonstrators put up in order to thwart the offense of members of the CNS. The confrontations lasted until 1:00 a.m that night, and the town was inundated in tear gas. Thirty demonstrators were wounded, according to the report given by the committee of El-Kseur and confirmed by the Polyclinic. Some people suffered from fractures. On the following Sunday (October 7), the youths attacked the headquarters of the town security by throwing stones and other projectiles. Members of the CNS retaliated with tear gas bombs. Road access to the city was closed off to traffic, and businesses closed their doors. In the course of the day's confrontations, 19 protestors were wounded, according to the same hospital source. Hostilities continued between demonstrators and the CNS until around 5:00 pm. As of last Friday, October 12, a little less than 300 persons were reported injured (La Tribune), 17 of them considered critical. Students, on the school roads, have armed themselves with bottles of vinegar against the smoke of teargas grenades, which assault their nostrils. An unreported number of babies, all under a year old, have been asphyxiated. The city of Sidi-Aïch also witnessed some rioting a week ago Sunday, but less violent than those in El-Kseur, between dozens of young demonstrators and police forces. The headquarters of the town security was targeted by the rioters. Members of the antiriot brigades retaliated to the rock throwing with tear gas bombs. From the beginning of these confrontations, students of scholastic institutions left their schools. There were about ten wounded among the demonstrators. On the same day, in Seddouk, a group of young people lit tires on fire, but without clashing with security forces. Elsewhere, in Amizour, some high school students made their classmates leave their classes. Here, as in Seddouk, there were no signs of violent confrontation. Six months after the beginning of the revolt of Kabylia and some other regions of Algeria--the most recent being Labiodh Sidi Cheikh--, the rioters appear more determined than ever. The situation is alarming as it is not only El-Kseur, which is affected by violent confrontations. Many localities in the Soummam Valley have been affected, notably, in Ighil Ali, where youth closed national route No. 26 on Saturday morning (October 13). In Amizour, students have been on strike since last Tuesday. Some observers are expecting an eventual inflammation of the entire region of Kabylia. http://www.waac.org/amazigh/news/2001/10-16-01.html
BBC 4 Oct 2001, Algeria's Berbers get language rights Algerian police will come under investigation By North Africa correspondent David Bamford The Government of Algeria says it has agreed to a series of demands by the ethnic Berber community, including official recognition of the Berber language. A statement issued by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said that a constitutional amendment will be drawn up instituting the change. Bouteflika: Constitutional amendment Such reforms had previously been strongly opposed by powerful circles in the majority Arab community, in particular the military, as well as by the Islamist movement. A statement issued by President Bouteflika said the government had agreed to the demands after serious unrest flared up following the killing of Berber protestors by police last April. The recognition of the Berber language, known as Tamazight, as an official language of the country will require changing the constitution. It is nothing short of a fundamental reappraisal of the way Algeria regards itself. Since independence from France in 1962, the majority Arab community, backed by both the military and Islamist lobbies, have maintained that Arabic must be the sole language to be recognised by the state. That has always been regarded as an affront by the Berbers, who claim to represent over a quarter of the population and say their culture and language are distinct. The impetus for the change has been the recent Berber unrest which has provoked a wave of ethnic sentiment that brought hundreds of thousands of Berbers onto the streets, clearly startling the military-backed government. Compensation Its announcement of concessions comes as Prime Minister Ali Benflis begins a series of conciliatory meetings with Berber leaders. He is telling them that the government will also agree to initiate legal proceedings against paramilitary police accused of shooting dead some 60 Berber civilians during the recent clashes. An official inquiry has already judged that the deaths were a result of police over-reaction to peaceful protests. Compensation for victims is also to be paid and other demands, including regional economic improvements, are to be considered.
BBC 25 Sept 2001, Algeria's Berbers reject president's offer The demands included legal action against police By BBC North Africa correspondent David Bamford Leaders of the ethnic Berber movement in Algeria have rejected an offer by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to formally receive their list of 15 demands. They say they intend to go ahead with a mass rally that is likely to lead to a major confrontation. Berber representatives meeting in the Kabylie regional capital of Tizi Ouzou said it was too late for the government to be making such an offer after five months of confrontation in which at least 80 people have died and hundreds have been injured. The 15 demands were ostensibly aimed at bringing an end to the destabilizing campaign against the Arab-dominated government. 'National reconciliation' The demands included legal action against police involved in killing Berber civilians, an economic plan to end social deprivation in Kabylie and recognition by the state of the Berber language and culture. President Bouteflika said that with the imminent international war against terrorism in which Algeria will be playing a full part, now was the time for national reconciliation. Berber leaders says the president's offer comes too late But a Berber spokesman said that they had already gone to the government in good faith on three occasions to present their demands and been rejected each time. Only a positive response to the demands would now be sufficient, he said. The Berbers decided to go ahead with a mass demonstration in the capital, Algiers, on 5 October - the anniversary of the bread riots in 1988 that led to the collapse of the one-party system. With demonstrations banned in Algiers since June, when the last big Berber rally there attracted nearly a million people and degenerated into violence, the government may find it hard to stave off a confrontation. Algeria hears Berber demands Clashes have erupted as Berbers press for recognition By BBC North Africa correspondent David Bamford The president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has invited leaders of the ethnic Berber community to formally present to the government their demands for social and political changes. President Bouteflika has said was appointing his Prime Minister, Ali Benflis, to act as chief negotiator in an attempt to end continuing unrest, during which 80 people have been killed. Berbers have issued a list of demands Three months ago Berber leaders published a list of 15 demands on which an end to their mass demonstrations depended. Now President Bouteflika has announced that the government is ready to negotiate a settlement. Mass rallies The President is clearly anxious to bring an end to the five months of social unrest that has rocked the government's hold on power. One reason that Mr Bouteflika may be trying to appear reasonable now, is because he wants to ward off plans by the Berbers to hold another mass rally on 5 October. The Berber demands include: judicial trials for paramilitary policemen involved in killing unarmed Berber civilians in April and May an economic emergency plan to deal with social deprivation in their area official recognition of the Berber language The government may be restricted in the number of concessions it can give, without prompting a destabilising reaction within conservative, Islamist and military circles. Many regard the Berber culture to be an aberration, in what the Algerian constitution states is a society with Arabic as its only official language.
Xinhua (China) 23 Oct 2001 LUANDA About 1,600 people have abandoned a village in Angola's central Bie province over the past few days due to continuing military conflicts between the government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebels. The village of Belo Horizonte, about 60 kilometers north of the provincial capital Cuito and about 530 kilometers southeast of Angolan capital of Luanda, was attacked last week by UNITA rebels, which was later successfully repelled by government troops, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported on Monday. The refugees are not receiving any humanitarian aid and are sleeping outdoors, the report said. It has not been possible to determine the current military situation in Belo Horizonte since a government army source said the area could be considered as "no-man's land", according to the report. The strategically important settlement of Belo Horizonte controls access to the north of Bie Province, which had been a UNITA stronghold before falling to the government forces two years ago.
IRIN 5 Oct 2001 ANGOLA: UNITA rebels kill 80 in diamond zone JOHANNESBURG, Angolan rebels gunned down more than 80 diamond diggers in an attack in the gem-rich northeast of the country, Reuters reported on Friday, quoting Voice of America (VOA). "More than 80 people were killed and various others wounded while others fled into the bush after an attack near Kuango," said the US radio service, which has a local station in the Angolan capital. The aim of the attack on Saturday, which a local source blamed on members of UNITA, was to steal food, the source said. Many of the wounded leapt into the Kuango River, the source told VOA. The attack follows the murder of six chiefs two weeks ago by UNITA rebels in the Kuango area, which is deemed to have the best diamonds in Angola. Since its formation in 1966 UNITA has used diamonds to buy arms in illegal trade that earned the rebels, under elusive leader Jonas Savimbi, as much as US $3 billion between 1992 and 1998. Many of Angola's thousands of diamond diggers, known as garimpeiros, come from across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was not clear from the report how many foreigners had been killed.
IRIN 5 Oct 2001 ANGOLA: Government reacts to church peace initiative - The Angolan government has responded to the Campaign against War in Angola which the Catholic church and the Open Society Foundation launched last month. The campaign sent a clear message both to the government and the UNITA rebels that they should lay down their weapons for the sake of all Angolans. Interior minister Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos, quoted in the state newspaper 'Jornal de Angola' on Thursday, said everyone in the government agreed on reaching peace through dialogue. When asked whether the church's campaign clashed with the government's plans, the minister said they did not clash "because during the first contacts we made with all the political parties and the churches, we asked that we all be allowed to participate together in the spirit of creating a culture of tolerance among citizens". The minister's remarks come as a surprise after a generally negative response to the campaign in the government media. State television described it as a campaign by the opposition. The head of the Catholic church in Angola, Archbishop Zacarias Kamwenho, objected strongly to the report, insisting that the church was taking a non-party political stand. The Catholic Church is a respected social force in Angola, and it would be difficult for the government to distance itself publicly from the message of the campaign. But, according to reports, despite the reconciliatory words of the interior minister, there was no suggestion that the government would alter its stated goal of a military victory against UNITA.
Reuters 5 Oct 2001 U.S. Will Help Angola End Its War - Ambassador LUANDA - The United States will help Angola end its decades-old war and secure democracy in the south-west African country, the new U.S. ambassador to Luanda said on Friday. ``The United States is trying to participate to help end the war that Angola has had for many years and in the same manner help create a durable peace in the country,'' Christopher William Dell said on his arrival at Luanda airport. Dell said he would work with the government, churches and civil organizations to build a strong democracy. He said the suicide attacks in the United States last month would not get in the way. ``Those that pursue war here in Angola, ever more senselessly, must not be permitted to impede the democracy that is taking root here in Angola,'' Dell said. ``We know that it is precisely because of war that we have to create democracy that is even stronger.'' He did not give firmer details on what kind of help his country would offer. The Angolan government and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebel movement have waged a civil war almost continuously since independence from Portugal in 1975. Anti-colonial armed conflict began in 1961. Almost a million people have been killed and more than three million forced from their homes in what is Africa's longest-running conflict. But peace still seems far removed. UNITA has recently stepped up its guerrilla attacks. Last month rebels destroyed power transformers outside Luanda in the closest attack to the capital for years. Dell has served in Kosovo, Bulgaria, Mozambique, Portugal, and Mexico. He is the author of Fork In the Road, a book on the Balkans published in March.
AFP 26 Oct 2001 South Africa to send 250 troops to Burundi: radio PRETORIA, South Africa will send 250 troops to Burundi to participate in a protection force for politicians returning there from exile, Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said Friday, according to SABC radio. Lekota said the initial contingent of 250 men would be leaving on Saturday, at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between South Africa and Burundi in the capital, the public radio reported. The soldiers will form part of a force to protect some 150 politicians to return as part of the peace deal for a transitional government in the country, to be inaugurated on November 1 after eight years of civil war. An aide to South African former president Nelson Mandela, who is the chief mediator in the peace process, on Friday confirmed that South Africa would be sending troops. "Yes we are definitely sending troops. On Tuesday or Wednesday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution for two battalions to be sent to Burundi," Zelda La Grange told AFP. Earlier this week, the South African government denied that it had already deployed troops in the central African country, saying it would wait for a UN resolution to be passed. The war between extremist rebels of Burundi's Hutu majority and the mainly Tutsi army and government has killed more than 200,000 people, mostly civilians, since 1993. Mandela in August 2000 persuaded Burundi's President Pierre Buyoya's government, parliamentarians and political parties across the spectrum to sign a power-sharing deal. On November 1, Buyoya, an ethnic Tutsi, is due to take charge of a transitional government for 18 months, with a Hutu vice president. At the end of that term, a Hutu president should take over with a Tutsi as his deputy.
Business Day (South Africa) 22 Oct 2001 Burundians' friendliness covers fear and hatred THE first thing that strikes visitors to Burundi nowadays is how generous and friendly everyone is. Although the hatred and the fear have not gone away, there is an unmistakable lessening of tension in the air of the nation's capital, Bujumbura. And while the SA-sponsored peace talks are taking place far away in Arusha, Tanzania, and in Pretoria, they have provided the first glimmer of hope for this country in nearly a decade of massacres and civil war between the minority Tutsi-dominated government and army and the majority Hutu rebels. Unfortunately, though, the war is far from over. The two main Hutu rebel groups, the Front for National Liberation (FNL) and the Forces for the Defence of Democracy (FDD), have not participated in the talks at all. They remain in the hills, fighting the army in a guerrilla war. And despite the peace talks, every day you can hear the sound of gunfire and mortar explosions in the hills around Bujumbura. According to Francis Rolt, who works for Radio Ijambo a nongovernmental organisation looking at peaceful solutions for the country the fighting in Bujumbura has lessened but there has been a recent upsurge of unrest in the countryside. He blames it, ironically, on the recent moves towards peace in the Congo. "The most frightening thing for this country is the return of the rebels from the Congo. Without their bases there, they are growing increasingly desperate." Still, hope remains. "How can anyone predict an explosion here? There is no evidence for it," he says. An estimated 200000 civilians have died in the conflict in Burundi in the last decade. The army has been increased from an estimated 20000 men to 50000. However, nobody is saying how many soldiers have been killed, and there are also no figures for the number of rebels who have died. The army claims to be winning, as do the rebels. But, in truth, a military victory for either side seems almost impossible. Even the army seems to realise it. There have been two attempted coups by hard-line Tutsi officers already this year, but somehow the moderates, or at least, the realists, have managed to hold on. "This is a war without a front," says spokesman Col Augustin Nzabampena, and one can hear the exhaustion and futility in his voice. The Hutu rebels come down into the city at night and attack the neighbourhoods. The Tutsidominated army responds with equal brutality. And as always happens in this kind of situation, it is the people, mostly the poor people, both Hutu and Tutsi, who bear the brunt of the cruelty. Earlier this month, a grenade attack in the mostly Hutu suburb of Kinama killed four people and wounded more than fifty. No one knows who threw the grenade or why. The only certainty is that there will be more attacks, and more deaths. There are bullet holes and shrapnel scars in the mud walls of almost every house in this desperately poor neighbourhood. "Every time the political situation develops there is a fire or a grenade attack in a marketplace," a Burundian journalist says. The only people who stand to gain from these shadowy, unknown attacks are the extremists on either side. Their hold on power is strengthened by the evertightening spiral of suspicion, fear and hatred that such faceless attacks breed. At the base of it all still lies the terrible divide between Tutsi and Hutu. Both groups speak the same language and intermarriage, especially in the cities, is relatively common. Yet the hatred continues. At a hairdresser in Kinama, there is a bitter, schizophrenic understanding of the problem. People realise they are being used, but still the suspicions run so deep. "There are Tutsis who say Hutus must be killed so that the Tutsis can become the majority. That's what those who use ethnicity want. But everywhere hatred is used. People still say: he's from our tribe, our clan'." The war in the hills of the country springs from this war in the heart of the people. There are two parallel strains at work in the political life of Burundi at the moment. The peace process, flawed as it is, has at least brought them into sharp relief. The first strain is that of wanting to cling to the cycle of revenge. There is a saying in Burundi that sums it up: "You hide that you hate me, and I hide that I know it." This is the eerie world that lies beneath the surface of the outward generosity of people here. The world that is hidden to outsiders; the world that erupts in anonymous grenade attacks in the marketplace. On a Sunday afternoon on a sunny beach at the edge of Lake Tanganyika, I found evidence of the other strain. I asked a man whether he was Hutu or Tutsi. "I refuse to answer that question," he said. "I am a Burundian. Those who tell you otherwise are racist. They are the problem." It is impossible to be blindly optimistic about the future for Burundi. But there is, at least, a tremendous sense of war-weariness. The peace process has at last opened up options for the people of Burundi. It remains to be seen whether they will find it in themselves to choose peace. Wende is a freelance journalist.
Central African Republic
IRIN 22 Oct 2001 Italian priest arrested for story on genocide NAIROBI, - An Italian priest has been arrested in Bangui in connection with a story he allegedly wrote regarding mass executions of Yakomas, who are members of the ethnic group of the 28 May failed coup mastermind and former Central African Republic (CAR) president Andre Kolingba, Radio France Internationale (RFI) reported on Saturday. The Reverend Tolino Falagoista, director of Radio Notre Dame in Bangui and correspondent of the Rome-based Roman Catholic MISNA news agency, is accused of writing such a story in June, which also referred to the existence of three mass graves and warned that the CAR was heading towards extermination and genocide. When Falagoista was summoned by government authorities at the time, he allegedly denied writing or approving the story. A source told RFI that authorities asked Falagoista to send a handwritten denial to the government and MISNA on the story attributed to him, but that three months later, they had still not received it. He has, therefore, been summoned for another hearing. RFI reported that the management of MISNA remained cautious, only saying that the matter had been referred to the Bangui nuncio, the Italian consul, and the Vatican.
Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra) OPINION October 15, 2001 Jak's Trip to Cote d'Ivoir...Gentle Giant Inspired Ivorians Asah-Asante Back From Cote d'Ivoire Accra Tuesday last week saw the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, particularly the vicinity of Hotel Ivoire, very busy. Security was tight, helicopters hovered around. Long queues were seen in front of the said forum grounds (Hotel Ivoire Conference Hall). The atmosphere could not be left out in this regard as it was charged with the spirit of reconciliation. The conference hall was filled to capacity. The hope for peace at the end of day was paramount. Chronicle gathered this from some interactions with the Ivorians during interviews. The belief that the forum would serve as a pivot around which the whole unity talks would revolve and thereby restoring to it its former past. The peculiarity of peace and stability which characterised the country over the years was also firmly routed in the minds of the people. Hear Pierre Kouame, the teacher, "My brother, there have been some troubles but I say this country will have peace now." This belief was also not far-fetched from the corridors of Ivorian political power. Anderson Appia, the government's Advisor on Media Affairs and personal interpreter to President Ggbabo, said this to the Chronicle minutes before the start of the programme: "I think everybody wants to finish with this problem. Since 1990 we have become fed up of this problem. Because of this, we have always been quarrelling we need peace here. We want to do our best to get peace here in Ivory Coast." The Ivorian reconciliation could be traced to the violence and instability, among others, which ensued after the military adventures extended their ugly hands into the country's body politic. Ivory Coast's first military coup, led by General Robert Guei, toppled the ruling Democratic Party of Cote d'Ivoire on December 24, 1998 and put in place the Committee of National Salvation. To this end, a constitution was drafted to usher the country into fresh elections. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the constitution was the eligibility requirement which made it mandatory for presidential candidates to have both parents to be full blooded Ivorians. All candidates who contested the elections thereafter were adjudged Ivorians, except Dr. Alhassana Quattara, who was identified to have one foreign parent. Based on this, Quattara was disqualified. Violence then ensued. Many lives were lost and the society became polarised along ethnic political and religious lines even though a new leader has been legally elected and installed in the county Though some expressed disappointments after the programme, given the reason that the absence of key players of the game, such as Quatarra, Bedie, etc. were not physically present to grace the occasion, others believe it is too early for such judgement to be passed given the fact that the programme would run for two months and that it is likely such persons could make appearances before the programmes ends. Nevertheless, the inspirational speeches of the President Mr. J. A. Kufuor (JAK) and his counterpart, Alpha Omar Konare of Mali, gingered the occasion with a lot of applause from the gathering. For the President, Mr. J.A. Kufuor (JAK) praised the people for initiating the forum, adding "it is the first step." He said the best way of getting the aggrieved to partake in any business of that nature is to offer them the opportunity to be heard. To this end, President Kufuor urged them to be tolerant towards each other and focus on the target they have set for themselves so as to restore the country's past of peace and stability. This, Mr. Kufuor said, will help entrench democracy as well as constitutional rule in the country. "Whatever formula you find to reconcile your people and parties, the process has to take place within an atmosphere of constitutionality, good governance and rule of law," JAK advised. To this end, he urged the people not to disappoint the rest of ECOWAS member-states saying: "the entire region is watching you and pray for you. Please do not disappoint us. There is as opportunity for all of you to display the leadership that is required at this time." On democratic rule, the President cautioned the people of West Africa, particularly la Cote d' Ivoire, not to re-invent the wheel and establish any other form of governance besides democratic rule since it provides proper accountability and avenue for other parties to for have the opportunity of gaining political power. The Malian leader, Alpha Omar Konare, advised the people of Cote d'Ivoire to eschew ethnic tendencies, hatred, politics of exclusion, arrogance and contempt, adding it is the best way to avoid the genocide of Rwanda and the amputations of Sierra Leone. He made it clear to the people that Mali would not be used as a launching pad for acts of hostility against La Cote d'Ivoire, adding his country is a heterogeneous collection of people from the said country and others in the sub region The Ivorian leader, President Gbagbo, urged the people to tell the truth since reconciliation thrives on truth. Based on the advice of the chairman of the forum, Mr. Seydou Diarr, he maintained that to calm tensions and make the reconciliation exercise a living reality there is a need for a call for the release of the detainees. However, he did not make clear whether he has ordered their release or merely expressed a personal opinion.
IRIN 19 Oct 2001The London-based NGO African Rights accused the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on Thursday of harbouring Colonel Tharcisse Renzaho, accused of involvement organising the 1994 Rwandan genocide. In an attempt to encourage the DRC government to work with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), African Rights has released a 26-page charge sheet detailing Renzaho's alleged crimes. African Rights said that Renzaho's role as an officer commanding Congolese troops came to light during the fighting between government and rebel forces in Pweto, Katanga province, in December 2000. Renzaho is reported to be commuting between Kinshasa and Lubumbashi in the DRC. African Rights said Renzaho was the governor (prefet) of Kigali before and during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, and was involved in the planning and execution of the slaughter of Tutsis and leading Hutu politicians to take place. "[Renzaho] had the authority and the resources to stop the killings, but he only did so only in a few very public instances. More often, he intervened to sponsor or authorize massacres, directly ordering militia to round up selected groups, then to take them to be killed, or sending others to organise killings in his name," it reported. "The evidence suggests that Col. Tharcisse Renzaho has the blood of tens of thousands of the people of Kigali on his hands. In continuing to harbour him and others like him, the Government of Congo risks undermining efforts to promote stability in the Great Lakes region," it added.
AFP 12 Oct 2001 Four years of conflict in DR Congo ADDIS ABABA, Oct 12 (AFP) - A further round of peace talks is set to get under way here on Monday in a bid to bring an end to four years of strife in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The conflict, launched by rebels in the east of the former Zaire in August 1998, has drawn in several other countries in the region. Following is a chronology of the conflict and attempts to end it: 1998 AUGUST 2: Ethnic Tutsi, or Banyamulenge, soldiers launch an uprising in the eastern towns of Goma and Bukavu, aimed at toppling President Laurent Kabila's 14-month regime, accusing him of nepotism, corruption and bad government. 6: The rebels establish control over much of the east of the country, holding the towns of Bukavu, Goma and Uvira in the Kivu provinces. 8: A summit of seven heads of state from central and east Africa sets up a committee to negotiate a ceasefire. 16: The rebels announce the creation of a political party, the Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD). 22: Angolan troops are reported to have entered the DRC to aid Kabila's troops. 23: Kisangani, the main city in the northeast, falls to the rebels. 25: Rebel forces suffer heavy losses in a joint operation by DRC troops supported by forces from Angola and Zimbabwe, who regain control of the south-west. Uganda admits its troops have been engaged in the conflict. 1999 MAY 17: A split in the RCD leadership leads to the setting up of a second faction. JULY 10: Six countries involved in the conflict, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia on one side, and Uganda and Rwanda on the other, sign a ceasefire agreement after 13 days of talks in Lusaka. AUGUST Nearly 600 people are killed when a position in Equateur province held by the Uganda-backed Congo Liberation Movement (MLC) comes under air attack. By the end of the month, the RCD and the MLC have also signed the Lusaka accord. OCTOBER 12: Kinshasa accuses Burundi of having become involved in the fighting. 2000 JANUARY 29: Observers estimate that ethnic massacres in the northeastern Bunia region left 5,000 dead in 1999. FEBRUARY 24: The United Nations approves sending a force of more than 5,000 troops to enforce the ceasefire a day after the Lusaka summit of seven heads of state adopts a timetable for the laying down of arms. APRIL 30: At a meeting in Algiers, attended by six heads of state but in the absence of rebels and their allies, South Africa and Nigeria offer to put troops at UN disposal for a peacekeeping force in the DRC. OCTOBER 16: All parties in the conflict agree in Maputo to withdraw 15 kilometres from their frontlines. NOVEMBER 27: At further talks in Maputo, attended by all warring factions along with South Africa and Mozambique, Kinshasa agrees to reopen discussions on the deployment of UN observers. 2001 JANUARY 16: Kabila is murdered by one of his own bodyguards, but government only confirms his death two days later. His son Joseph is appointed head of state by the powers that be in Kinshasa. 19: Fighting in Bunia leaves more than 200 dead. 26: Joseph Kabila sworn in as president and promises "to work for peace", calls for relaunch of Lusaka initiative and a normalisation of relations with the United States, European Union and United Nations. FEBRUARY 1: Kabila meets Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Washington in the company of new US Secretary of State Colin Powell and calls for a "rapid start" to peace negotiations. 15: Lusaka hosts peace talks, the first to be attended by Jospeh Kabila. Fellow presidents Sam Nujoma of Namibia and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe turn up but Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda fail to attend, although Museveni sends an envoy while he continues his election campaign at home. Progress is made on permission for UN observers to operate in DR Congo. Botswana's former president Ketumile Masire becomes facilitator in the "inter-Congolese dialogue". MARCH 15: All sides in the conflict implement their October 2000 agreement to withdraw 15 kilometres from the front, apart from the MLC, which initially stalls, making demands of the United Nations for the "protection of civilians". 29: First UN observation mission arrives in rebel-held east of the country. APRIL 4: UN observers take up position in goverment-held territory. 16: UN calls for sanctions against the rebels and their supporters in an attempt to end the pillage of natural resources. 26: Six Red Cross workers killed in the northeast of the country. MAY 8: International Rescue Committee, based in New York, claims the civil war has been responsible for at least 2.5 million deaths. Uganda announces the withdrawal of its troops from the east and north-east of the country. 10: At a summit in Kinshasa, DRC allies Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia demand an immediate and unconditional withdrawal of MLC rebel forces. AUGUST 20-24: At a meeting in Gaborone, all parties decide to convene talks in Addis Ababa on October 15. SEPTEMBER 1: First official visit to the DRC by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. OCTOBER 5: Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos says there has been progress in the peace process and that there has been a "gradual withdrawal of allied military forces" backing Kinshasa, namely Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola.
ABC News 4 Oct 2001 The Second Most Wanted Man By Jim Wooten Meet the Egyptian surgeon who has been called the mastermind and likely successor to Osama bin Laden , who has a long history of terror-related crimes. Analysts, government officials and even the Taliban have said that if and when the United States captures Osama bin Laden, the threat posed by the al Qaeda network and other terrorist organizations will not subside. There are many other extremists to worry about, but one man in particular deserves more attention. Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri is perhaps the most influential, and yet unknown, member of al Qaeda. He is an Egyptian surgeon who has been called one of the masterminds behind the vast network and a likely successor to bin Laden. As former head of the Egyptian al-Jihad, he has a long history of terror-related crimes. Interpol issued a top-level arrest warrant for him last week, yet his whereabouts are unknown. However, he attended bin Laden's son's wedding in the Afghan city of Kandahar in January. The list of terrorist attacks in which al-Zawahiri has been involved includes: He was indicted in New York two years ago in connection with the bombing of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in August 1998. The FBI believes he may be the one who ordered the massive bombings. He served three years in prison in Egypt on charges connected to the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Since then he has been sentenced to death by Egypt in absentia. He is suspected of helping organize the 1997 massacre of 67 foreign tourists in the Egyptian town of Luxor. He helped fund and organize the attack on the Egyptian embassy in Islamabad in 1995. 'More Dangerous of the Two' Al-Zawahiri is regarded by many investigators as smarter and more dangerous than bin Laden himself. "To America and the West, Ayman Zawahiri is definitely the more dangerous of the two," says Mohammad Salah, a reporter for Al Hayat , in Arabic. "To Islamic fundamentalists, he is much more important ideologically." After U.S. airstrikes against Afghanistan in 1998, it was al-Zawahiri who told the Muslim world: "The war has begun. Americans should wait for an answer." And the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon may have been that answer. It's a long distance from the rugged wilderness of Afghanistan to the quiet green suburb in Cairo, but that's the journey al-Zawahiri has made from a family that was peaceful and pious, prominent and prosperous, to a fraternity of violence, a transformation rooted in two words: Camp David. For al-Zawahiri, the 1977 treaty between Egypt and Israel meant Anwar Sadat was a traitor. Sadat was assassinated 20 years ago this week and al-Zawahiri was among scores of Muslim fundamentalists implicated in the murder. At their trial, he was defiant. "We are here, the real Islamic front. We are here, the real Islamic opposition against Zionism, communism and imperialism," he ranted in a holding cell in court. Video Connection to Bin Laden He grew up in a well-connected family. One grandfather was a noted Muslim cleric, the other an ambassador. Al-Zawahiri became a surgeon and one of the first upper class Egyptians to join the country's militant movement, Islamic Jihad. After three years in prison, during which he was tortured, he joined bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1986 as his personal physician and his mentor in terrorism. "Ayman Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden [have] the same ideology: to defend in their terms their religion and their land," says Dia'a Rashwan, an analyst at the Al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies. In 1998, al-Zawahiri was one of five Islamic leaders to sign on to bin Laden's declaration calling for attacks against U.S. citizens. More broadly, he is believed to be the person who most influenced bin Laden years ago to take up a worldwide struggle against perceived enemies of Islam. According to some analysts, al-Zawahiri helped turn bin Laden from a financial backer of the Afghan resistance into a strong believer in the ideology of jihad . "For his cause, he would embrace death more than we would embrace life," says Salah in Arabic. "He doesn't care if he dies." There is a $5 million reward for this doctor, who was trained to save lives and now is wanted for killing thousands. — ABCNEWS' Michael Baltierra contributed to this report.
IRIN 10 Oct 2001 Genocide Suspects Released An Ethiopian court has acquitted, on the grounds of insufficient evidence, 23 people charged with genocide and crimes against humanity, AFP reported on Tuesday. The supreme court in Amhara State (northwestern Ethiopia) ruled that there was insufficient evidence to convict the defendants, whose alleged crimes were committed during the rule of the former military dictator, Mengistu Hailemariam, said AFP. The court handed down two guilty verdicts on the same charges, and sentenced the defendants to 16 years in prison without parole. The trials are part of a series which began in 1994 of officials accused of committing genocide and crimes against humanity during the "Red Terror" period of the 1970s, during which thousands of Ethiopians were killed or abducted. Ethiopian courts have so far handed down 1,181 verdicts, including 375 acquittals out of 6,180 cases, with some 2,200 suspects still held in prison, and the rest being tried in absentia. Special Prosecutor Girma Wakjira told the agency that the trials were expected to end in 2004.
BBC 9 Oct 2001 Court clears Mengistu followers Official newspapers in Ethiopia say a further 23 people accused of crimes under the leadership of Haile Mengistu Mariam have been acquitted and released from jail. However, two others were jailed, for 16 years each, on charges of carrying out summary executions, torture and arbitrary imprisonment. The Supreme Court of Amhara said that, in the case of the 23 acquittals, there was not enough evidence. The trials of Mengistu followers, for crimes of genocide during what has been called the Red Terror period, in 1977 and 1978, began in 1994 and are expected to conclude in 2004. Mr Mengistu, who's being tried in absentia, now lives in exile in Zimbabwe.
BBC 8 Oct 2001 'Unknown' elected Ethiopian president Wolde Giorgis has worked for three different regimes By Nita Bhalla in Addis Ababa Ethiopia's parliament has elected a surprise new president. Lieutenant Girma Wolde Giorgis, who is unknown to much of Ethiopia's population, was unanimously elected by both houses of parliament. Lieutenant Wolde Giorgis, a 76-year-old independent member of parliament and businessman, will replace Dr Negasso Gidada who has ended his six-year term. Lieutenant Wolde Giorgis is from the majority Oromo ethnic group which make up more than 30% of Ethiopia's 63 million people. Many believe this is an attempt by the ethnic Tigrayan-led government to appease the Oromo population. Survivor In recent months, the private media has been speculating as to who would succeed Dr Negasso Gidada, listing various cabinet members and other senior officials. But at no time could anyone have predicted Lieutenant Wolde Giorgis. Some are concerned that Wolde Giorgis is too frail The elderly businessman-turned-politician has survived three successive regimes. Under Emperor Haile Selassie, he served as one of the first officers in the Ethiopian air force, later becoming director general of civil aviation authority. Also under the emperor, he joined parliament and became president of the lower chamber. Banker In this role, he established the first international parliamentary committee and developed a flair for international relations. When the military regime of Mengistu Haile Mariam overthrew the emperor in 1974, Lieutenant Wolde Giorgis worked with the "dergue" regime in many different roles including as president of the Red Cross in Eritrea, which was then a province of Ethiopia. When the military dictatorship was overthrown in 1991 by the present day ruling EPRDF party, Lieutenant Wolde Giorgis embarked on several private business ventures. He is now a stakeholder in several banks and is an independent MP in a constituency in the western Shoa region. Ceremonial There has been a mixed reaction to the new president. The few who knew who he was on the streets of Addis Ababa, said that they were surprised and concerned as he was very old and looked too frail to take up the position as head of state. Political analysts today were also sceptical, some consider Lieutenant Wolde Giorgis an "opportunist" for surviving and working under three totally opposing regimes in Ethiopia. Most however remain apathetic, saying that the president does not really matter as his powers are largely ceremonial and so he could never bring about real change in the country.
Addis Tribune (Addis Ababa) ANALYSIS 8 Oct 2001 The Question of Ethnicity in Addis Ababa Beshir Gedda Addia Ababa One of the issues during the current crises in the EPRDF Leadership was the Prime Minister's parentage which also became a charge against him. As we all know, his mother is Eritrean. It is a cheap and dangerous move to attack an individual because of his or her ethnic origins. The tradition of ethnic harmony and integration has been one of the strongest characteristics of Ethiopian culture. Addis Ababa is remarkable among African cities for the fact that it does not have ethnic enclaves, and people of different nationalities live together in peace. The main social institutions-churches, mosques, burial associations-cut across Amhara, Oromo, Tigray, Gurage alike. Many people do not even know the ancestry of their neighbors-what counts is that they are law-abiding and respectful members of the community. When the expulsions of Eritreans began three years ago, no-one quarreled with the selection of the first round of known EPLF activists. But as the expulsions went deeper and deeper into the Eritrean community, selecting people who had lived in Addis all their lives, who didn't speak Tigrinya and picking up people who were known to have no political alignments at all, the residents of Ethiopia's cities and towns became more and more uneasy. Was this not abrogating the basic principle of our society, that anyone who lives among us, adopts our way of life, and respects our culture, is one of us? Let us not fall into the trap of arguing that we are all identical Ethiopians who lived together in peace and harmony before 1991. Nothing could be further from the truth! Serious discrimination against the Oromo and other nationalities was a fact of life for generations. There were regular armed revolts against Imperial rule by minority peoples. The EPRDF did not invent ethnicity: ethnic identity was a mobilizing principle in the 1970s. In 1991, most of the viable political parties were ethnically based. And the current federal map of Ethiopia was partly drawn by the OLF leadership during their brief spell in government. Ethiopia consists of a split political-ethnic personality: centralism and regionalism. Historically, regional identifications are strong and have had the first claim on people's loyalties. The central ruler has always sought dual legitimacy, as the leader of the country, but with the consent of the regions. Hence the significance of the old imperial title, 'King of Kings.' In the last two hundred years, the country has alternated between periods of strong centralized rule, and periods in which the regions aggressively asserted their claims. This cycle began with the centralizing rule of the Emperor Teodros. But both he, Yohannes and Menelik all sought to control the regions through the consent of their rulers. After his restoration, however, Emperor Haile Selassie was resolutely centralist to an unprecedented degree, dismantling all regional power bases, and suppressing resistance-whether in Bale, Gojjam or Eritrea-by force alone. This approach was taken to new lengths by the Dergue. The challenge is to find a balance between national integration and local integrity, in which all can have their place and share the common projects of both local and national identities. In the wider context of a transition from socialist polities, one of the big lessons is that a multiethnic and multireligious society cannot be governed absolutely centrally, or they will break apart, as has happened in the former USSR and former Yugoslavia. Decentralization and devolution of power is part of the democratic transitional agenda, as well as political pluralism. The federal structure that arose from the 1991-2 dialogue between EPRDF and OLF tried to address the issue of ethnicity in a balanced manner. It attempted the transformation of the empire state into a democratic federation. The resulting 1995 constitution is a remarkable and innovative document. It has very strong human rights provisions, including both group rights and individual freedoms. At the time there was controversy because there were significant political groups and entities that did not participate in the constitutional process and which focussed controversy on the provisions of the constitution for secession of nationalities. Indeed this is a radical clause-but this is precisely the sort of bold experiment of entrusting the people with the future of the nation, which pays dividends. The EPRDF took a political risk. And the Ethiopian people and state were strong enough to make this new constitution work. The greatest strengths of today's constitution is that it creates a voluntary union for Ethiopia. It seeks to balance centralization and national integration with respect for local integrity. Many feared that the federal constitution would lead to ethnic strife and even the dismemberment of the country. But our people proved too mature for that: once the regions had been granted self-administration, language rights and a range of other privileges, they were happy to be Ethiopian. Nothing illustrates this better than the national unanimity that followed the outbreak of the war with Eritrea. All were ready to fight, not for a chauvinist and centralised state, but for an Ethiopia that is a voluntary union of all. In short, all the components are in place for a durable solution to the problem of regionalism. Ethnicity can have a negative aspect as well. Some political entities, both inside and outside the EPRDF, began to promote narrow ethnic identities at the expense of shared history and what is common to all Ethiopians. There has been a tendency to focus on what divides us, and a tendency to place an ethnic label on every event that occurs. Resentment was created among certain groups, sometimes reaching a dangerous level where this constant reference to ethnicity began to create fear of ethnic domination, real or imagined. The political leadership in Ethiopia should recognise this resentment and be understanding of it. Ethiopians are crying out to have more attention given to the integrative nature of the Ethiopian political and cultural heritage, with which we are blessed: intermarriage, churches, mosques, voluntary associations. The Ethiopian people have achieved a level of ethnic integration and harmony that is the envy of many of our neighbours. But the current political dispensation hasn't recognised this social capital, and has in fact eroded it. Ten years after the experiment with political ethnicity, we must recognise both its strengths and its limitations, and try to make the pendulum swing back towards national identity as Ethiopians. The concept of citizenship, with all its rights and duties, needs to be placed back at the centre of the political stage. We can achieve this national integration without forsaking the treasured, hard-fought for regional integrity. Exclusively ethnic based political parties have their limitations. Ethnic parties are a reality and have delivered much, but there is no reason why there should not be non-ethnic parties or multi-ethnic parties. In fact this is what we would expect as the country matures politically. Leadership must have legitimacy grounded in a constituency much broader than its ethnic base alone. This is important for seeking national consensus. Ethnic politics is, sooner or later, divisive, and national leaders must rise above it. Ethiopian society is ready for this kind of leadership, and is ready for political parties that transcend the ethnic focus. In Ethiopia in the last hundred years, centralism has been associated with the rule of the individual, whose personality is magnified and applauded in the official media. For ten years we have had no personality cult, no swaggering big man. We are grateful for this. Modesty in leadership is becoming. There are virtues in collective leadership. But there is a danger of the leader becoming invisible, and for the public not feeling that their emotions and aspirations are reflected in the government. We have seen this in the EPRDF leadership's remoteness from national celebrations. When our triumphant athletes returned from the Olympic games, the populace of Addis Ababa spontaneously turned out to greet them. But where was the political leadership? Because it hadn't planned the event and didn't control it, they were nowhere to be seen-until the speaker of parliament belatedly turned up. Similarly for the commemoration of historic events like Adwa, and even celebration of the end of the war. Spontaneous celebrations reflect national feeling-but the EPRDF doesn't participate. By contrast, when there are important party events in Tigray, they are celebrated in public by the PM. Is the party more important than the nation? Special attention to national events would overcome the public's feeling of alienation, and contribute to national unity. The ethnic issue in Ethiopia is sensitive and there is a need for a balance in handling ethnicity. The integrative impulse of the elite-who are mostly Amhara in cultural orientation-shouldn't lead to disrespect for other ethnicities. A unitary state as we experienced before 1991 cannot succeed: the federal system is here to stay and rightly so. But the state needs to be a place where everyone meets and everyone is represented. Ethiopia is ready for this: Ethiopian society has shown that it can handle the complexities of multi-ethnic society. But, we ask, are the authors of this constitution treating ethnicity with the same balance and maturity as the citizens themselves? In short, Ethiopians need to have the opportunity to evaluate the last ten years' experiment with political ethnicity. The issue of nationalities and federalism is too important to be left to the cadres. It must be discussed publicly by the people themselves.
IRIN 8 Oct 2001 Foreigners to Be Registered The Department of Immigration and Nationalities Affairs has finalized preparations to register foreigners living in Ethiopia, Ethiopian radio reported on 5 October. All foreign nationals living in Addis Ababa, permanently or temporarily, were required to register between 8 and 17 October, said the radio. Foreigners with resident permits are required to present a residence permit card and two photographs, while non-residents are required to bring in their passports. Foreign nationals with diplomatic status are exempted from the exercise. The schedule for registration of foreign nationals living outside Addis Ababa would be announced later, the radio said. Foreigners who fail to register within the specified time will face the relevant immigration laws.
IRIN 12 Sept 2001 Release of POWs Halted The release and repatriation of prisoners of war (POWs) between Ethiopia and Eritrea has come to a halt, a report by the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council said on 5 September. The report said the exchange had come to a halt despite the commitment made by both governments under the peace agreement of 12 December 2000, which stipulated that "the parties shall without delay release and repatriate all prisoners of war". Figures supplied to the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea indicated that about 1,800 POWs remained in Ethiopia and 400 in Eritrea, the report said. Meanwhile, the Eritrean Information Coordination Centre (ICC) said there had been no reported exchange of civilian nationals between Ethiopia and Eritrea between 16 and 31 August. It said ICRC had facilitated the repatriation of 2,659 civilian Eritreans and 21,072 Ethiopians. "The exchange of POWs did not proceed since the last exchange in March 2001 where ICRC repatriated 856 Eritrean and 629 Ethiopian POWs to the their respective countries," the joint UN and Eritrean Relief and Refugee Commission (ERREC) said in an update on 31 August. However, some 319 Ethiopians were reportedly repatriated from Eritrea with the help of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to official Ethiopian radio on 6 September.
The Independent (Banjul, the Gambia) July 20, 2001 "Jammeh's Revolution is a Resounding Failure" Sheikh Al-Kinky Sanyang Banjul, the Gambia Lamin Waa Juwara the UDP's propaganda secretary has described the 1994 revolution, which brought President Jammeh to power as a resounding failure. Speaking to The Independent at the party's bureau in Banjul, Juwara said the revolution, which swept away thirty years of PPP dominance didn't succeed because of the absence of mass support from Gambians. "In a revolution, the participation of the people is primarily, but what happened on July 22nd was a typical military turning back on the people, overthrowing through force of arms a democratically elected government of the people" he claimed. Mr. Juwara who is seen as one of the more politically vocal members of the opposition accused the ruling APRC of making big promises without fulfilling them. "Promising people haven and earth trying to convince Gambians, but forgetting that to stage a coup against a democratically elected government is a crime against humanity" he charged. He said the advent of the APRC has seen the gradual corrosion of fundamental human rights and freedom and the frequent nature of arbitrary arrests, torture, detention and all types of harassment meted out to political opponents. "Revolution is supposed to serve the people but not to oppress them," he posited, adding that a revolution with no sense of direction has no justification to celebrate. He said that July 22 1994 is being classified in history as the darkest days of the nation. Mr. Juwara said the coup makers had promised to stamp out corruption, which is being perpetuated today. The UDP official labeled President Jammeh as the richest man in The Gambia, citing the gift of thirty-nine tractors, the recent cultural festival in Kanilai, which according to Juwara was personally sponsored by President Jammeh. He said these programmes were organised even though The Gambia was in default of annual contributions to the OAU. He questioned how a leading servant of the people, who is on their payroll could turn around and give millions and gifts to people. The UDP propaganda secretary said Gambians from all strata have been traumatized in the past seven years. The "massacre" of school children in cold blood, whose killers were indemnified was also cited by Mr. Juwara as the height of the abuse. He urged President Jammeh to take primary responsibility for last year's student killings as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. He said Jammeh indemnified himself because he (Jammeh) was in touch with his men, when he was in Cuba. Mr. Juwara said the transition is still incomplete because the ruling party lacks the political will to restore a full-fledged democracy in The Gambia. He noted that a flurry of constitutional amendments were a way of rigging the October polls. He called on the international community to thoroughly take note of the processes. Gambians cannot boast of any development he said, because developments in Kanilai, the airport, and hotels are more than the accumulative development gained by the nation. He urged Gambians to "flush" Jammeh out of power if they hope to live in freedom. He said it would be unthinkable how Gambians can be taken in by foolish inducements and cheap propaganda through the GRTS, to return power to people who brought only woes to the average Gambian. "The Gambia used to be shining star of the democratic dispensation in Africa, but now this star has grown dull. We are taking the back seat," he averred.
AFP 1 Oct 2001 Liberia orders reopening of borders with SLeone, Guinea MONROVIA, Oct 1 - Liberian President Charles Taylor has ordered the reopening of his country's borders with Guinea and Sierra Leone and lifted travel curbs on Monrovia-based diplomats, officials announced at the weekend. Taylor had told defence and security ministers from the three countries, who wrapped up a meeting in Monrovia on Friday, that he would open the frontiers with the two neighbours. The president, however, did not specify a date. The decision was first announced by the media here on Saturday. Liberia had closed its borders with the two countries in March after declaring the Guinean and Sierra Leonean ambassadors persona non grata for allegedly committing acts incompatible with their status. The three countries, wracked by sub-regional fighting, blame each other for fomenting cross-border violence. Taylor on Friday also said diplomats and UN officials in Monrovia were now free to move around, ending a curfew imposed on them earlier this year for alleged "security reasons". "What we will do ... is to lift the restriction on the movements of diplomats accredited to Liberia. "All diplomats are henceforth allowed to go anywhere, anytime, any place," Taylor said. Unrest along the three countries' borders intensified in September 2000 with cross-border attacks threatening hundreds of thousands of refugees in camps in southern Guinea. Liberia and Guinea have accused each other of backing rebel groups trying to topple their respective regimes. Sierra Leone's government has long blamed Liberia for propping up rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), some of whose fighters are also blamed for launching attacks on Guinea. The three-day meeting of ministers from the Mano River Union -- grouping Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea -- meanwhile resolved to bring lasting peace to the sub-region. It drew up a work plan and pledged to address "the issue of dissidents and to remove the legal impediments in the actualization of the goals of the union". "The deployment of joint border security and confidence building units to discourage the proliferation of arms and ammunitions... (and) modalities for the deployment of refugees from the three countries" were also agreed upon.
BBC 22 Oct 2001, Rwandan genocide suspect transferred A former Rwandan provincial governor, who is suspected of playing a key role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, has been transferred to a detention centre at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, northern Tanzania. UN officials in the Rwandan capital Kigali, said that Francois Karera was arrested on Saturday [Oct 20] in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, and charged with complicity in genocide and extermination. Mr Karera served as governor of Kigali Rural province between the months of April to July 1994 when the ethnic Hutu majority massacred hundreds of thousands of Tutsis.
ICRC 11 Oct 2001 Kenya: A major step forward in promoting humanitarian law The Attorney-General of Kenya, the Hon. S. Amos Wako, officially inaugurated Kenya's National Committee on the Implementation of International Humanitarian Law on 5 October. In his address at a Nairobi hotel, the Attorney-General urged the new committee to provide the government with practical advice on implementing and promoting humanitarian treaties. ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger, also speaking at the ceremony, called for a broad alliance of individuals and institutions committed to the values and principles inherent in humanitarian law. The ICRC was instrumental in setting up the National Committee, which brings together key ministries, experts, civil society representatives and the Kenya Red Cross Society. The ceremony also marked the official launch in Kenya of a handbook on international humanitarian law for parliamentarians produced jointly by the ICRC and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The book, entitled "Respect for International Humanitarian Law", is intended to supplement the work of the National Committee by familiarizing parliamentarians with international humanitarian law and ways of implementing it at the national level. One of the co-authors, Kenyan MP Beth Mugo, explained that the handbook had been developed in response to the low level of information generally available in parliaments on matters relating to humanitarian law. Supporting States in their efforts to promote international humanitarian law is an important part of the ICRC's mandate. In Kenya, the ICRC has been working with various institutions to organize regular events on this body of law for officers of the armed and security forces, civil servants training at the Kenya Institute of Administration, and university students.
IRIN 5 Oct 2001 Moi blames local officials for ethnic clashes NAIROBI, President Daniel arap Moi on Thursday blamed Kenya's provincial administrators' poor performance of their duties for ethnic clashes in parts of the country during a speech at the Kenya Institute of Administration, Kabete, on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, where 41 District Commissioners completed a five-day administration course. "What I find difficult is that violence occurs in districts because DCs don't know their responsibilities," the 'Daily Nation' on Friday quoted Moi as saying. In less than a year, some 56 people have been killed in Tana River, eastern Kenya, in an ethnic war pitting the sedentary Pokomo against pastoralist Ormas, the report stated. Four more Pokomo people were killed on Wednesday night and more than 100 manyattas (dwellings) set ablaze when pastoralists attacked their houses at Shirikisho village, Garsen division, according to Kenyan media reports. Fighting between the Pokomo and Orma was raging at Chara and Kinakomba locations following the arrival of huge herds of livestock from the hinterland in search of water and pasture in the Tana Delta, they added. The Pokot and the Marakwet were also at war in the North Rift over cattle rustling; and on the Gucha-Trans Mara border, quarrels over land and pastures have led to loss of lives and destruction of property, the 'Daily Nation' reported on Friday. Thousands of people were killed in ethnic clashes in parts of the Rift Valley in 1991-1994, which were widely reported to have been politically motivated, and in Coast Province in 1997. Various peace initiatives were underway to address some of the major ethnic clashes throughout the country, including between the Ormas and Pokomos in Tana River, UNOCHA Kenya reported on Thursday. "The incidence of clashes continues, however, affecting food security and the safety of non-combatants as well as [humanitarian] operations," it said. Units of the paramilitary General Services Unit had been sent to the district to curb escalating violence, brought about when conflict of land use practices was exacerbated by early dry-season grazing as a result of the current drought, it added. Several national and international agencies have now joined together, through the auspices of local partner Caritas Malindi, to establish a Local Peace Coordination Committee which would work to map out the players and issues involved, get a better understanding of the situation, and work towards sustainable peace and development in Tana River District, OCHA reported.
BBC 5 Oct 2001 Four die in eastern Kenya raid By Noel Mwakugu in Nairobi Four people have been burnt to death and some 1,000 made homeless when an armed gang raided a village in the Tana River district of Kenya and set several houses on fire. The district has been the scene of sporadic clashes for a year now between Pokomo and Orma tribesmen who have been fighting over grazing land. Police were overpowered Last month the bodies of at least 30 people killed in ethnic clashes in the same area were reportedly dumped in the River Tana in the east of the country. Leaders from the two tribes have repeatedly been blamed for fuelling the conflict which has cost an estimated 100 lives. Peace failed Efforts by the government to broker peace in the area have repeatedly failed, mainly because of mutual suspicion and rivalries. This week's attack on Tana River district involved a group of about 100 heavily armed Orma tribesmen, who raided Shirikisho village. The Pokomo villagers were caught unawares, and the raiders engaged policemen in a heavy exchange of fire before they were overpowered. Some then torched the houses, others went on a looting spree, taking away what they could as the raging flames engulfed the houses. Evacuated By Thursday afternoon, most of the homeless villagers had been evacuated to safe areas by the district administration who mounted a heavy police guard. But villagers complained that the policemen had inadequate fire power compared to the raiders and said they still feared for their safety. Moi's government has not been able to broker peace between tribes peoples Reports from the district indicate that, on Monday, leaflets warning that five villages in the district would be set on fire, were distributed in the area by unidentified people. The authors of the leaflets believed to be orma tribesmen, were also said to have issued death threats to two prominent leaders from the Pokomo community. Village tour Those threatened were Yuda Komora a former assistant minister and Danson Mungatana a leading lawyer in Mombasa. When I spoke to Mr Mungatana on Thursday evening, he confirmed receiving a death threat. He said he had already reported the matter to the police. The coast provincial commissioner Samuel Limo and his entire security team toured the village on Thursday. Last month, the government set up a police post near the Shirikisho village to beef up security in what is now a volatile district.
The Nation (Nairobi) October 3, 2001 The Somali Not Involved in Herders' Clash With Farmers, Says Police- Hassan Barisa Police yesterday denied that Somali militiamen had been enlisted in a fight between herders and farmers in Tana River District. However, they confirmed that pastoralists were using illegally acquired guns to cause terror. Deputy district police chief Steven Mwita was reacting to reports that more than 100 armed Somali militiamen had crossed into the district to take part in the fighting which has left 52 people dead. It had been claimed that politicians and members of the Wardei community had hired the services of militiamen in the eight-month conflict. Mr Mwita said police were following several leads to establish the people behind the raids and those supplying the guns. No arrests have been made. "I can only confirm that Wardei youths imported guns to fight their Pokomo neighbours but we are still continuing with our investigations," he said. He said that the police, with the help of the paramilitary General Service Unit, were combing Kinakombo location to flush out the bandits. The bandits shot dead two police reservists and injured two policemen in a five-hour shoot-out at Majengo village last Saturday. The government has been accused of failing to curb terror attacks by alleged Somali militiamen. Local leaders and residents claim the police knew the bandits imported by the pastoralists to fight against the farmers following a dispute over grazing land. In a hard-hitting statement to the Press, 62 civic leaders led by the Tana River County Council chairman, Mr Salat Garacha, and his deputy, Mr Awadh Doyo, asked the government to overhaul the security chiefs in the district for incompetence. They said that for peace to be restored, the government must establish a police post in the hot spots and patrol the border districts of Ijara and Garissa to prevent armed bandits from entering the country. Last week, three Wardei herdsmen were slashed to death at the same point and more than 200 cattle killed. The local District Officer, Mr Joseph Irungu, who was among the first people at the scene promised to enhance security. Yesterday, police were patrolling the River Tana banks to prevent the influx of foreign bandits. A women's peace initiative has accused the three local MPs Tola Kofa (Galole MP), Mohamed Galgalo (Bura) and Molu Shambaro (Garsen) of neglecting their people while innocent lives continued to be lost. More than 30 women from the two communities said the leaders had failed in their duty. Mrs Ruth Kaseme said their MPs should reconcile the groups instead of staying in Nairobi.
IRIN 30 Oct 2001 Rights group criticises government's stance on killings ABIDJAN, A Nigerian human rights group issued a statement on Monday calling on President Olusegun Obasanjo to take responsibility for recent retaliatory attacks by the army against several Tiv communities in central Benue State. "CRP (Constitutional Rights Project) believes that President Obasanjo should accept personal responsibility for the action of soldiers knowing full well the consequences of his orders and the implications for the sacked villages," the Lagos-based rights organisation said. It was responding to a statement issued on Sunday by the authorities which did not confirm whether the military had carried out the attacks near the Benue/Taraba state borders that left more than 200 people dead and up to 300,000 displaced. The statement, issued on behalf of the government by Nigeria's Minister of Information, Jerry Gana, also reiterated the government's determination to keep soldiers in volatile areas until calm returns. "CRP condemns the action of the soldiers which amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity," the statement went on, calling on the military authorities to conduct an immediate investigation into the matter. It also urged the federal government to set up a judicial commission of inquiry and to bring to justice those responsible for giving the order for the attacks as well as the perpetrators. The army went to the Benue/Taraba borders following a request by the state authorities for assistance in their search for a local militia who had earlier abducted and killed 19 soldiers, and to recover their bodies and weapons, the government statement said. The 19 soldiers, whose mutilated bodies were found in the Tiv stronghold of Zaki-Biam, were among troops deployed by the federal government to end months of low-level clashes over land ownership between ethnic Tiv and Jukun communities. Nigeria's military authorities have denied reports that its troops were involved in any retaliatory attacks against the Tivs.
AP 28 Oct. 2001 Nigerian villagers tell of massacres Troops take part in ethnic conflict By GLENN McKENZIE AGASHA, Nigeria -- Moses Mbaissa fled his home after an attack by fighters from a rival tribe. He took refuge in another town only to find more bloodshed. Soldiers were gunning down unarmed villagers. A longtime conflict between ethnic Tivs and Jukuns has heated up in recent weeks, with tribal fighters hacking off the limbs of women and children and burning villages. Last week, government soldiers sent to quiet the violence entered the fray, burning down at least seven mainly Tiv villages and shooting at least 150 civilians -- and probably twice that many. At a camp in Agasha for some 2,500 displaced civilians set up in a school, Mbaissa, a 30-year-old farmer, told on Saturday how he and his family fled a Jukun attack on his home village of Dooshima nearly two weeks ago. He arrived in the village of Zaki-Biam, just one day before soldiers arrived there Monday. The soldiers gathered up the residents, telling them to "stay quiet while we keep the peace." Then they started shooting and an unknown number were killed, Mbaissa said. Witnesses have related similar grisly tales from several other villages, saying hundreds were killed -- many shot execution-style at point-blank range. Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation, is riven with ethnic, religious and political divides that frequently flare into violence. Fighting between Tivs and Jukuns -- mainly over farmland -- has raged intermittently for more than a decade. Fulanis entered the feud more recently, on the Jukun side. In the past few weeks, violence has intensified along the borders of the states of Benue, Taraba and Nassarawa, with each side burning villages of the other. At the Agasha camp, William Ishor, 45, and his family curled up in exhaustion in the shade of a mango tree, newly arrived Saturday after a seven-day trek fleeing Jukun fighters who attacked their village of Tala. The Jukun attacked suddenly a week ago, burning down houses and screaming "Tivs out," said Ishor, whose family like many others in his village are Tiv. Ishor fled through forests and farms, surviving on raw manioc and corn picked along the way. Along a pothole-pitted road from Benue's capital, Makurdi, all but two of a dozen villages have been completely burned down -- whether in ethnic fighting or by soldiers. Uniformed troops traveling in armored personnel carriers destroyed seven towns over three days starting Monday -- killing 130 people in just one village -- state Gov. George Akume said Thursday. A federal lawmaker representing some of the destroyed villages said Friday that 300 were killed in all, including 150 in Gbeji. State officials say the soldiers attacked in reprisal for the abduction and killing of 19 soldiers by Tiv tribal fighters earlier this month. A witness to the kidnappings, who asked to remain anonymous, alleged the abducted soldiers had taken part in the burning of Tiv houses by Jukun fighters. At a funeral for the soldiers shortly before the massacre began, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo vowed to punish those responsible for the soldiers' deaths. But defense officials denied that they ordered any revenge attacks. Obasanjo's elected government has promised to "restrain" soldiers if any are discovered to have committed excesses. A federal lawmaker, House of Representatives member George Suswam, accused Obasanjo on Friday of ordering the killings and called for an international investigation. Human rights groups have also called for an independent inquiry. It was unclear whether fighting was still taking place on Saturday -- the scenes of fighting are remote. Tribal militias and soldiers have blocked roads from mainly Tiv Benue to Jukun-dominated areas of Taraba state. A hospital in Makurdi, the Benue state capital, was treating a number of wounded civilians, including Elizabeth Isaac Alogo, whose hands were both hacked off in recent weeks by machete-wielding Fulani fighters who attacked her home village in Nassarawa state, to the north of Benue. Alogo's 16-year-old son was killed in the attack and her teen-age daughter, whose hands had also been cut, died in a hospital.
BBC 25 Oct 2001, Nigerian army campaign 'halted' Zaki Biam is devastated following army shelling A campaign by the Nigerian army against towns and villages in the central state of Benue appears to have been halted after a call by President Olusegun Obasanjo to end all hostilities in the area. Soldiers are reported by eyewitnesses to have indiscriminately killed more than 200 civilians in three days of violence in what appears to be revenge attacks after the killing of 19 soldiers by a local militia two weeks ago. State Governor George Makume earlier said that Mr Obasanjo had told him that although troops had been given orders to enter the state to carry out arrests for the killings, the actions of the past few days had not been authorised. Despite the cessation of army violence coinciding with the plea from the Nigerian president, the Nigerian army have denied involvement in the massacres. Charred bodies The village of Zaki Biam and at least seven other villages in Benue were attacked, including Gbeji, Anyin, Iorja, Vaase, Tseadoor and Sankara. The BBC's Dan Isaacs, who is in the area has visited Zaki Biam, the town where the abducted soldiers were found hacked to death, which he says has been largely destroyed by army shelling. Residents are fleeing for their lives He said: "There is not a single building here that has not been gutted by fire started by the army". "The area is largely deserted, many bodies are still lying in the streets," he added. A local television crew visited the scene shortly afterwards and filmed graphic pictures of charred bodies lying in the streets. 'Ethnic cleansing' Benue state legislators have described the attacks as a "gruesome act of ethnic cleansing against the Tivs," and asked for international intervention. Questions will now be asked why he (the president) took three days to give the orders despite clear evidence of what was taking place BBC Nigeria correspondent Dan Isaacs Our correspondent says the soldiers who were killed two weeks ago were on a peacekeeping mission to try and tackle a long-standing conflict between the Tivs and the Jukun, another ethnic group who are from neighbouring Tiraba state, over land. He says that it appears the army have now sought revenge against the Tivs for their comrades' deaths. "We thought they were coming here to protect us, but suddenly they took up positions and started firing at us," said Titus Madugu, a nurse hiding behind his burned house in Mukardi. Some of the town's residents were too scared to return to their homes, electing instead to spend a third night sleeping in the forest. The response to the soldiers' action has been shock and anger, with university students taking to the streets of Makurdi on Wednesday, burning tyre barricades. Our correspondent says these attacks by the military have shocked Nigerians with their ferocity, and bring back haunting memories of a similar onslaught by the army in the town of Odi in the Niger delta two years ago, when the army killed civilians and levelled the town after soldiers were abducted and killed there. He says that questions will now undoubtedly be asked about why it took President Obasanjo three days to issue the halt to the army campaign, despite clear evidence of what was taking place.
Reuters 25 Oct 2001 Army Ordered to Halt Bloody Crackdown in Nigeria By Tume Ahemba MAKURDI, Nigeria (Reuters) - President Olusegun Obasanjo has ordered the army to halt any activity in central Nigeria where hundreds of ethnic-Tiv villagers have been killed in apparent revenge raids by soldiers, the region's governor said on Thursday. Lawmakers from the area have also sent an urgent appeal to the United States and Britain to help end "this gruesome act of ethnic cleansing." "The president has ordered the immediate cessation of all military operations in the area," Governor George Akume told reporters in Makurdi, capital of central Benue state. "He was not aware of the activities of the military in the area. He gave the order yesterday (Wednesday)," added Akume, who said he spoke with Obasanjo by telephone on Wednesday night. In the first official casualty figure of this week's massacre in some half a dozen Tiv villages, Akume said between 120 and 130 people were gunned down in a single village, Gbeji. Witnesses have said at least 200 people died in the attacks, which spread to neighboring Vaase, Anyiin and Zaki-Biam. Obasanjo's government is struggling in the face of the worst cycle of ethnic or religious violence since the end of the late 1960s, when civil war erupted over breakaway Biafra. Unrest in central Nigeria, the breadbasket of Africa's most populous nation, follows a spate of Muslim-Christian riots in towns in the largely Muslim north, where hundreds of people have died in violence over the past two years. Gbeji bore the brunt of the military crackdown on Tuesday, which followed the abduction and killing of 19 soldiers who said they were there to halt fighting between the Tiv and the Jukun. The slain soldiers were given a national burial in Abuja on Monday when Obasanjo vowed their killers would be hunted down. APPEAL TO AMBASSADORS The two most senior lawmakers from the area where the army killings took place appealed to the ambassadors of the United States and of former colonial ruler Britain to put pressure on the Nigerian government. They linked the killings to clashes between Tiv and other ethnic groups in the neighboring states of Taraba and Nasarawa where the Tiv form significant minorities. "It is clear that the federal government of Nigeria has approved a plan to eliminate the Tiv people from Taraba and Nasarawa states using the Nigerian armed forces of which he (Obasanjo) is the commander-in-chief," Senator Daniel Saror and MP Gabriel Suswam said. "Our prayer and appeal to you is that you please use your good offices to prevail on the Nigerian government to halt this gruesome act of ethnic cleansing," their letter of appeal added. Obasanjo's government has not commented on the army crackdown and the army has denied any killings by soldiers. A similar letter was addressed to Obasanjo. Copies of both were made available to Reuters by the two lawmakers. AMNESTY CALLS FOR INQUIRY Amnesty International, calling for an impartial inquiry, described the killings of villagers as "an act of revenge" and "a killing spree" lasting for three days. On Wednesday violence spread to Makurdi, some 140 km (90 miles) away, and to villages further south. Residents said at least 13 people were killed in Makurdi and three mosques set on fire as protests against the army turned violent. A Reuters reporter on Thursday saw nine charred bodies in the streets, one headless. Another Reuters correspondent on Wednesday reported rioting in Taraku, where barricades of burning tires and torched vehicles were still smoldering. State authorities imposed a night curfew on Makurdi and on nearby Gboko, ordering police to shoot on sight anyone caught breaking the ban. The state capital was largely calm on Thursday, with many shops and some banks open. Police and soldiers with armored cars patrolled the streets.
Daily Trust (Abuja) 25 Oct 2001 Tiv National Assembly Members Accuse Obasanjo of Genocide Rueben Yunana As news of the killing of their tribesmen by soldiers filtered into Abuja, Tiv members of the National Assembly yesterday accused President Olusegun Obasanjo of genocide vowing to take all steps to defend the Tiv race since the Nigerian Army could not defend them. Addressing journalists in the home of Senator Daniel Saror, a member of the House of Representatives Gabriel Torhua Soswan said the Tiv-Jukun crisis and the present storming of Tiv villages by soldiers was a calculated attempt to eliminate the Tiv people. Two months ago he said, Tiv elders had met with Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and alerted him on the fact that the soldiers posted to the area by the Minister of Defence, General T.Y. Danjuma was killing our people, but he dismissed it with a wave of the4 hand." According to him, the attack on Tiv villages had vindicated their earlier stand stressing that his people will not take it lying low. "I do not know what T.Y. Danjuma has against us, but I know this is a calculated attempt to eliminate the Tiv, what is happening can only be compared to what happened in Rwanda. "Now we know that General Victor Malu was retired in order to pave the way for T.Y. to descend on us, look at the attack on Malu's house with around tanks. The house is more than 200 kilometres away from the spot where the soldiers were killed yet it was attacked and his uncle and his wife killed, Suswam lamented. Rep. Suswam carpeted President Obasanjo for being insensitive to the crisis involving the Tivs and Jukuns. "Remember he went to Kano after the recent crisis there. But the President who has sworn to uphold the constitution has not deemed it fit to visit Benue but has ordered soldiers pay through the tax payers money to kill innocent civilians," he said. On the slain soldiers the lawmaker explained that Tiv youths mistook them for mercenaries because they came in four pick up vehicles; two belonging to Wukari Local Government and two bearing no plate numbers. On steps taken so far, Suswam said Tiv members of the National Assembly brief both the British and American Ambassadors on the incident, "We shall take it further. Since the Nigerian Army which is supposed to defend us is now killing us, we shall not take it lying low. We have vowed to take adequate steps to defend ourselves," he warned. Also speaking, Senator Daniel Saror revealed that as soon as it heard of the attack the group had alerted the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na'abba, Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim, the National Security Adviser, General Aliyu Gusau and the Minister of Defence, General T.Y. Danjuma. He said a motion would be sponsored in both Houses of the National Assembly praying members to: - urge government to ensure the protection and survival of the Tiv race; allow displaced persons to return to their homes; recall members of the Nigeria Army; take measures to care for millions of refugees and set up a Judicial Commission of inquiry that would come up with the true story of the crisis.
Daily Trust (Abuja) EDITORIAL 25 Oct 2001 Murder of 19 Soldiers: a Call for Restraint On Monday, the nation undertook the sol-emn burial of the murdered 19 soldiers on peacekeeping duties along the Benue-Taraba border. At the ceremony President Obasanjo directed that those involved be tracked down to face justice and warned against the temptation to engage in retributive justice. Murder is not only an offence against humanity but is also a sin against God and is, therefore, an odious abomination deserving condemnation. It is regrettable that the long years of military rule did not leave any redeeming social legacies but succeeded in militarising our society. And nowhere does this negative legacy manifest itself so much as in sectarian and communal clashes which besides questioning our civilisation are threatening our nascent democracy. It is our candid position that the killing of the uniformed personnel should not become a pastime of ethnic militias. Two years ago, under similar circumstances nine policemen and three soldiers were killed in the sleepy town of Odi in Bayelsa State. We send heart-felt condolences to the families of the victims, the Nigerian army and the nation for the irreparable loss the murder of these soldiers on active duty. However, painful as it is in trying moments like these, the federal government must insulate itself from the rash reactions being advocated from every quarter in order to respond in a dispassionate way. And in responding, government should learn a lesson from the Odi tragedy which even in memory continues to reverberate sad notes. For as is commonly said, two wrongs can never make a right. It is just as well that the governor of Benue State, Mr. George Akume, has already apologised for this unfortunate incident. He should go a step further in helping the police to trace the perpetrators so they may be brought to justice. Enough blood has been shed during the democratic struggle and the impression should not be created that we are nurturing our democratic project with blood, or even that Nigeria is a country that eats her own. Daily Trust calls for a constitutional solution to the contentious problem of "settlers" and "indigenes" in Nigeria. A situation whereby people who have spent centuries in a place are still labelled "settlers" in their fatherland by "indigenes" is a recipe for chaos and the concomitant social dislocations.
Reuters 23 Oct 2001 Witnesses Say Soldiers Kill 200 in Nigeria LAGOS, Nigeria (Reuters) - Soldiers opened fire on villagers in central Nigeria and razed four communities, killing more than 200 people, witnesses said Tuesday. The massacre began Monday afternoon in Gbeji and spread to neighboring Vaase, Anyiin and Zaki-Bian near the place where the bodies of 19 soldiers were found hacked to death on Oct. 12, regional government officials said. Farmer Daniel Gbeji told Reuters that soldiers gathered men in the main market square of his village, which bears his family's name, then executed them. ``An armored car with a 911 (troop transport truck) loaded with Nigerian army entered the village. ... Then they started shooting and they killed more than 100 people,'' Gbeji said by telephone from Makurdi where he was being interviewed by state government officials. Shehu Tarna Umah, a reporter for Radio Benue, accompanied a television crew Tuesday to the area hit by the attacks. ``In Zaki-Bian town, the whole market was razed -- there were over 100 bodies on the ground,'' Tarna Umah said by telephone from Makurdi, the Benue state capital. Nigerian army spokesman Colonel Felix Chukwuma denied that soldiers had killed any villagers along the border between Benue and Taraba states. A simmering ethnic conflict shot to national prominence this month after soldiers were abducted by ethnic-Tiv militiamen and hacked to death. The soldiers killed in the Oct. 12 incident were buried with full military honors in Abuja Monday. Thousands of villagers are homeless in central Nigeria after bloody communal clashes that have raised charges of ethnic cleansing. GOVERNOR CALLS FOR ACTION The Benue state governor's spokeswoman, Beckie Orpin, told Reuters by telephone late Tuesday: ``The governor is writing a letter to the president ... asking the federal government to call for a cease to the entire thing.'' ``If the army is sent to go to war with its citizens, the government should know it. We are calling on the federal government to withdraw the troops,'' she said. Gbeji said he hid in bushes while the massacre in his village took place. ``They (the soldiers) called people to come. They came. They said they should sit down, then a man turned to the commander for the order to start shooting. Nobody was able to escape.'' The Radio Benue reporter said he thought the death toll could rise in Zaki-Bian town. ``Because of the fear, people were running here and there. We only managed to get some of the bodies on camera. ... We didn't even manage to get into the main market where the actual killing took place,'' he said. ``It wasn't possible to get to Gbeji.'' Former Nigerian army chief, General Victor Malu, said his own family home in the area was invaded by soldiers who killed the village chief and his wife before burning down houses there. ``I have never been so shocked,'' Malu told Reuters in Lagos. ''A lorry (truck) load of troops and others in three armored personnel carriers started shooting. ``Then they set out systematically, burning my late father's house. They killed the village head, Tor Adoor, and his wife, Doom Adoor,'' he said quoting his younger brother, who phoned him after escaping the attack. CONFRONTATION LAST WEEK Military sources and community leaders said special forces from Makurdi last week confronted fellow soldiers from neighboring Taraba who crossed illegally into Benue to burn homes. Gbeji said he did not obey the soldiers' orders Monday because he had heard reports of men in army uniforms participating in attacks on Tiv villages in the area along the Taraba border. ``I was hiding in the bush very nearby,'' Gbeji said. ``That's where I saw everything. I would not move. I would not even shake because they were shooting at where the grass shook.'' ``After killing, they burned the village,'' he said. ``After burning the village they got petrol and poured it on the bodies they shot down and they burned them again.'' Chukwuma told Reuters the army was carrying out operations in the area to recover weapons local Tiv militiamen had taken from the soldiers who had been hacked to death. ``The brigade was sent there to ... search to recover arms and ammunition,'' Chukwuma said. ``Those who killed the soldiers took away their arms and ammunition so the cordon search started three days ago.'' At the soldiers' funeral Monday, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said those who killed them would be punished. ``I have directed the security agencies to bring the perpetrators to book and we will make sure that sort of situation does not arise again,'' Obasanjo said.
Telegraph 25 Oct 2001 UK Nigerian troops massacre villagers By Tim Butcher. AS many as 200 villagers in a remote part of Nigeria have been massacred in an apparent reprisal attack by army units seeking vengeance for the murder of 19 soldiers. President Olusegun Obasanjo was under intense pressure yesterday to mount a full investigation, as the killing added to the tribal and religious divisions threatening to pull apart Africa's most populous country. Witnesses claimed that army units rounded up scores of people in the villages of Anyiin, Gbeji, Zaki-Bian and Vaase and slaughtered them. In one village, men were separated from their wives and children and then shot. One witness said the murders were systematic and calculated, as families were rounded up and then killed. "I was hiding in the bush very nearby," said the farmer. "That's where I saw everything. I would not move. I would not even shake because they were shooting at where the grass shook." Refugees arriving in the provincial capital of Makurdi said soldiers had descended on the villages earlier this week, rounding up men, then shooting and setting them on fire. The killings were apparently in revenge for the murder earlier this month of 19 soldiers who became caught up in a long-standing tribal conflict between the Tivs and Jukuns of Nigeria's central region. The Nigerian army has a reputation for overreacting when it suffers casualties. Army units went berserk in the Delta town of Odi in November 1999 after two soldiers were killed during a routine operation. They razed villages, burnt houses and murdered dozens of people, precipitating one of the worst crises of Gen Obasanjo's rule. He was accused of overseeing a cover-up to save the army from blame. The Nigerian government stuck to its denial of army involvement in Odi, but most observers believe that the incident did significant damage to the president's credibility. The Civil Liberties Organisation of Nigeria said the government should allow a full and transparent investigation. "We are asking for the president to speak out and for the national assembly to investigate," said Abdul Oroh, its executive director. "We want the truth. When you hear about men being separated from women, it is not an indiscriminate thing, it is a calculated act of murder." As the government denied army involvement a regional official contradicted it, saying soldiers had gone on the rampage to avenge comrades who had been hacked to death after they were sent to quell violence between the Tivs and Jukuns.
IRIN 24 Oct 2001 Focus On Central Region Tiv, Jukun Clashes For decades Tivs and their Jukun neighbours in Nigeria's central region have engaged in intermittent fighting, mostly over land and sometimes as political rivals. But in recent weeks, fighting between the two groups has assumed a wider, dangerous dimension, posing a challenge to President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration. The Tivs, one of the biggest of Nigeria's numerous ethnic minorities, form the majority in Benue State. But smaller numbers are also found in neighbouring Taraba, Nasarawa and Plateau states. The Jukuns, however, are the majority in Taraba, which lies to the east of Benue, near the border with Cameroon. Following a fresh outbreak of violence in Taraba State between Tivs and Jukuns early this month, the federal government began to deploy troops around the borders between Benue and Taraba to end the bloody feud. But on 10 October, a contingent of 19 soldiers was ambushed and captured at Vatse, near the border, by a Tiv militia. A few days later their mutilated bodies were found in a primary school in nearby Zaki Biam, a Tiv stronghold. The militia's action, local people said, was prompted by previous incidents in which armed men in uniform have attacked several Tiv communities. Among the Tivs, there is a strong suspicion that elements in the military were backing their Jukun rivals either in sympathy with Nigeria's Minister of Defence, retired Lt-Gen Theophilus Danjuma - who is Jukun - or with his approval. Indeed, the Tiv Progressive Movement, in a petition to Obasanjo, has accused the government of backing their rivals, alleging imminent ethnic cleansing against the community. The organisation purports to defend the interests of the community and is led by prominent politician Paul Unongo. "The Tivs appear now resigned to a serious, long war, believing that they will never get justice from the government in their dispute with the Chamba-Jukun people [Jukun are also called Chamba-Jukun] because government is unashamedly firmly on the side of these people owing to the paramount influence of their big men in government," the petition said. "Your Excellency, if allowed to proceed, this war will be vicious, bloody,and would be fought with a ferocity that it may produce consequences worse than, or at least, similar to the horrible spectacles seen in disasters of Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and even Rwanda", the petition added. At the moment, the Tivs feel that they are fighting a three-front battle. Apart from the Jukuns, they also have to contend with Fulani nomads with whom they have had bloody disputes over grazing land. In Nasarawa State, there are still bloody remnants from clashes in June involving the Tivs and the Hausa-speaking Azeri over land ownership. While camps set up outside Makurdi, the Benue State capital, for people displaced by the fighting in Nasarawa, were still not completely empty, a new influx from the fighting in Taraba has filled them up. Local officials estimate that some 30,000 people are now living in the camps, in need of urgent relief assistance. But perhaps more worrying are reports from hospitals in the area, where many of those injured in the fighting have been taken. At the Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi, there are several patients whose limbs were cut off, not by the Jukuns they said, but by Fulani herdsmen who raided their villages near the border with Taraba State. Hospitals in Dananacha, Katsina-Ala and Vandekya, have also reported similar injuries in addition to scores of deaths. At the funeral of the 19 soldiers killed by militants on Monday, Obasanjo reiterated his resolve to ensure that those who carried out the killings will be punished. "I have directed the security agencies to track down and bring the perpetrators to book. We will make sure this despicable act is never repeated", Obasanjo said. But many Nigerians are keenly awaiting the form the punishment will take. By the military's antecedents, the expectation is that sooner or later troops will be sent in to ransack the rural towns of Vatse and Zaki Biam where the soldiers were respectively abducted and killed to serve as a lesson to other communities around the country that may want to emulate the Tiv militia blamed for the killings. At least this was the precedent set in 1999, when soldiers were sent into the town of Odi, in the Niger Delta, where twelve policemen had been abducted and killed by militant Ijaw youths. Two years later, Odi is still in ruins. "Odi was a public relations catastrophe for Obasanjo," political analyst Charles Ige, told IRIN. "It will be foolhardy to apply the same tactics again in the current circumstances but again people in the Niger Delta are waiting to scream double standards if the same sledgehammer is not used. And that is a tricky poser for the government". Thousands of people, expecting the worst, have been fleeing Ukum and Katsina-Ala local government areas where the two towns are located. And as if to confirm their fears Benue State officials report that the special forces deployed in the area last week confronted a contingent of soldiers that came over from Taraba to burn villages in Ukum. Apparently the soldiers that came over from Taraba were acting with the sole aim of avenging the death of their colleagues, one Benue official told IRIN. Many analysts link the current bloodletting in central Nigeria to political problems dating to the colonial era. During this period the British delegated powers over this vast region inhabited by many ethnic minorities to its ally, the Hausa-Fulani Muslim caliphate that held sway in many parts of northern Nigeria. The Tivs were one of non-Muslim minorities who vehemently opposed Hausa-Fulani influence, resulting in a major eruption of violence in the early 1960s that required military intervention to contain. While the Tivs preferred political alliances with southern political parties, the Jukuns teamed up with the Northern Peoples' Congress, controlled by the Muslim feudal oligarchs of the north. Violent eruptions between the two groups were recorded in 1959, 1964, 1976 and 1991-92. According to Ige: "The Tiv, Jukun conflict falls into the now familiar pattern of communal violence that has been sweeping Nigeria since the end of 15 years of military rule in 1999. They are symptoms of deep-rooted grievances and discontent that need to be addressed by the government. A military solution will not do".
Daily Trust (Abuja) 23 Oct 2001 Obasanjo Blamed Over Rise in Ethnic Militia Mamman Akpena Lokoja The rise of ethnic militia in Nigeria has been attributed to President Olusegun Obasanjo kid gloves measures in confronting the Odua People's Congress (OPC) monster since the inception of his administration. The former chairman, First Bank Nig. Plc and current board chairman of the Prince Abubakar Audu University, Anyingba, Dr. Mohammad Attah, stated this in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital while fielding questions from journalists. Dr. Attah noted that "the OPC started the problem from the South-West by killing other ethnic nationalities, and the president pretended as if it was no problem until things got to where we are today." Dr. Attah observed that the "president had all the capability to bring the situation under control but the man just can't now because his hands are tied. Since he couldn't do it to his kinsmen tell me, is it the Tivs or the Jukuns that deserve a state of emergency?" He advised President Obasanjo to forget about the 2003 election and do a good job with the present mandate through good policies and people-oriented programmes. Asked the way forward, Dr. Attah said unless the president moved fast, the country would find itself disintegrating. He suggested that the presidential system of government be jettison for the parliamentary system where some measures of autonomy can be guaranteed. Murdered Soldiers: Decapitated Corpses Taken to Yola Email This Page Print This Page Vanguard (Lagos) October 18, 2001 Posted to the web October 18, 2001 Umar Yusuf Yola- THE headless corpses of the 21 soldiers of the 23rd Armoured Brigade, Yola recently murdered by some youths in the ongoing Jukun/Tiv communal clash in Benue and Taraba states were brought to Yola yesterday sparking up anguish amongst their colleagues. The arrival of the corpses in the Adamawa State capital provoked uncontrollable weeping from the families and colleagues of the slain soldiers. One source told Vanguard that 12 of the 21 slain soldiers were attached to the 232 Tank Battalion in Biu, Borno State. Another source disclosed that the atmosphere in the barracks in Yola was so tense that Tivs residing in the barracks started fleeing for fear of possible reprisals from the colleagues of the deceased soldiers. The corpses of the soldiers were deposited at the Federal Medical Centre mortuary awaiting further directive from the Federal Government on their burial arrangements.
Vanguard (Lagos) 16 Oct 2001 Army Wants Powers to Stop Tiv, Jukun War By Rotimi Ajayi Abuja THE Nigerian Army sought yesterday the consent of the Presidency to handle the raging violence between the Tivs and Jukuns, in Taraba State which, last week claimed the lives of 16 soldiers with another three still missing. The army made known its request in Abuja, yesterday at a special security meeting, according to Presidency sources. The meeting was summoned by the Presidency, following the resumption of violence between the two ethnic groups. "The army is very upset about this," sources said yesterday. At the meeting presided over by Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, the Federal Government gave the security agencies the go-ahead to apprehend those responsible for the death of the soldiers. Besides, the security agencies were also mandated to arrest the financiers of the crisis. "The Federal Government has warned that a repeat of the violence will incur its wrath because there are clear constitutional provisions on issues of this nature," said the sources, adding: "Government is out-rightly fed up with the re-occurrence of such violence." Yesterday's meeting attended by Governors Jolly Nyame and George Akume of Taraba and Benue states, respectively, reportedly discussed the remote and immediate causes of the violence and what steps to take to prevent its re-occurrence. The meeting was also attended by the Director-General, State Services, the Defence Minister, the service chiefs, the Inspector-General of Police and the Tor Tiv, Dr. Alfred Torkula. *Gov. Akume apologises However, Gov. George Akume of Benue State has tendered an unreserved apology to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo over the unfortunate incident of the killing of the 16 soldiers deployed to the Benue/Taraba boundary last week. In a statement personally signed by him, the governor also extended the heartfelt condolences of the government and people of the state to the families of the deceased military personnel. "By our tradition and orientation, we are lovers of the military as an institution. Given the active participation of our sons and daughters in the military and their loyalty to their fatherland, our people cannot deliberately undertake dastardly acts against military personnel," Akume regretted. He noted that there was no doubt that the military personnel were deployed on lawful duties within the boundaries of Benue State to make peace and referred to the Bible thus: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." According to him, the tragic killing of the soldiers was a case of mistaken identity. He prayed Almighty God in his infinite mercy, grant the deceased eternal rest and their families the fortitude to bear the painful loss. Meanwhile, the GOC 82 Division, Nigerian Army, Enugu has visited Benue to assess the situation on ground. Impeccable sources told our correspondent that the officer might have also visited the hospital where the bodies of the deceased had been deposited. It was also learnt from the state's police headquarters that officers from the office of the Inspector-General of Police had also visited Benue in two helicopters. The source disclosed that they had useful discussions with the AIG Zone 4 and the Police Commissioner in connection with the boundary crisis and the tragic death of the military personnel. Vanguard gathered, Monday that inhabitants of the border towns within Benue had fled to the interior following the news that soldiers were about to carry out reprisal attack on them. Reports from Taraba State indicated that about 400 Tiv persons have been killed in the attack on Daanacha in Ibi Local Government by the Jukuns. Those who fled the town told our correspondent that weapons similar to explosives were used to raze down the buildings belonging to very rich Tiv people in the settlement at the weekend.
BBC 16 Oct 2001 Nigerian president due in riot-torn city The death toll is feared to be higher than official figures President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria is expected to visit the northern city of Kano, where clashes between gangs of Muslim and Christian youths have claimed a number of lives. The Nigerian army is maintaining a heavy presence on the streets and while no major outbreaks of violence were reported on Monday, the situation remains tense. I do not know Bush, I do not know Bin Laden, I just know the fighting is no good Muslim community leader The riots began late on Friday after a peaceful anti-American demonstration by local Muslims. Police now say 18 people died in the violence, although the final toll could prove to be much higher. The Nigerian Red Cross said in a statement that they did not know how many had died but said "it was safe and reliable to quote a figure of over 100". It also says that at least 18,000 people, most of them non-Muslims, have been displaced by the clashes. The Red Cross says it has 25 volunteers, providing first aid for those hurt, but it does not give an estimate for the number of casualties in hospitals across the city. It appears that many people are starting to return to their home areas. The security forces have been given orders to shoot any rioters on sight. Leaders meet Searching for a peaceful solution to the crisis, the governor of Kano state, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, called together community leaders on Monday. It was the first such meeting since the conflict began and was a clear sign the authorities have become aware that deploying the army on to the streets may well be containing the situation but is not enough to defuse the underlying tensions. What started as a peaceful anti-American demonstration by Muslims on Friday quickly degenerated into running battles, barricades of burning tyres being erected, cars being set alight and buildings torched. Militant youths from both communities took advantage of the turmoil to loot shops and offices. Underlying tensions Our correspondent, who visited Kano at the weekend, says that at its root the dispute is not about American involvement in Afghanistan, but rather the explosion of simmering tensions between the two communities, in a city where tens of thousands of young men have no jobs and no education. Buildings were set on fire as rival gangs clashed Kano is a majority Muslim city, and Christians there are considered to be outsiders. Economic hardship and lack of opportunity for education breeds frustration which, as elsewhere across Nigeria, has led to violent unrest. It is a pattern that has been repeated across this multi-ethnic and multi-religious country in recent years and on occasions leads to death and destruction. Relations between Christians and Muslims in northern Nigeria have been tense since the extension of Sharia Islamic law in the past 18 months. In February 2000, more than 2,000 people were killed in religious unrest in Kaduna. In Jos, last month at least 500 were said to have died in clashes between Muslim and Christians. The authorities are often reluctant to give out death toll figures for fear of inflaming tensions still further.
BBC 15 Oct 2001 Analysis: Nigeria's Sharia split The Kano violence also had economic roots Nigeria's Kano state, which has seen the latest sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims, is one of a number of northern states which extended the scope of Islamic law last year. In Zamfara, separate schools for girls have been set up Sharia courts impose strict Islamic laws, including floggings and amputations for transgressions like theft and adultery. First introduced in Zamfara state, it is now practised, to a greater or lesser degree, in nine others, and has exacerbated differences between the predominately Christian south and the Islamic north. President Olusegun Obasanjo, who took power in May 1999 after 16 years of military rule, has so far failed to defuse religious tensions, and the economic problems that increase popular discontent. Click here for a map showing the Sharia states Move to Sharia Under Sharia law, Kano has banned prostitution, gambling and the consumption of alcohol. In Zamfara, single-sex schools and taxis have been introduced. Jos saw similar violence in September Since Zamfara brought in Sharia in January 2000, at least one man has had his hand amputated for theft, and a woman found guilty of fornication was given 100 lashes - despite her protests that she had been raped. And in Sokoto state last week, an Islamic court sentenced a 30-year-old pregnant woman to death by stoning, after she was found guilty of having pre-marital sex. The man identified as her lover was released, because the court said there was insufficient evidence against him. In Kebbi state, a man received a similar sentence in September for sodomising a seven-year-old boy. Neither sentence has yet been carried out. Constitutional threat Volunteer vigilante groups have been roaming the streets, keeping an eye open for any transgressions of Sharia regulations. Local politicians and religious leaders say that crime has dropped sharply in the Sharia states. They say that floggings are symbolic, not barbaric, and that a fear of punishment promotes lawfulness. But human rights' groups have complained that these religious laws are archaic and unjust, and create an atmosphere of intimidation against Christians - even though they are not subject to the Sharia. The pressure group, the Community Development and Welfare Agenda, has said Sharia court decisions were a "fundamental assault on the sovereignty and legality of the Nigerian state", because they undermine the national, secular legal system. Economic differences Although most people in Kano city are Muslim, large numbers of Christian traders travel to the city. In Kaduna, over 2,000 died in religious violence Recent violence may have been caused as much by economic envy as religious disputes over US military action against Afghanistan. Thousands of young men in Kano have no jobs and no education, and frustrations over economic hardship leave them prey to political opportunists who want to foment violence. The pattern has been repeated in several Nigerian cities over the past two years. In February 2000, more than 2,000 people were killed in religious unrest in Kaduna. In Jos, last month at least 500 were reported have died in clashes between Muslim and Christians.
Vanguard (Lagos) 10 Oct2001 Oputa: No Regrets for the Asaba Massacre of Igbo - Haruna, By Sufuyan Ojeifo & Lemmy Ughegbe Abuja GENERAL Officer Commanding (GOC) Two Division of the Army during the civil war, Maj.-Gen. Ibrahim Haruna said yesterday that he had no regret for the Asaba massacre in which over 500 Igbo men were killed by his troops. Testifying for the second day running for the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) at the Oputa panel sitting, Gen. Haruna also revealed that Nigeria's late Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa had a foreknowledge of the 1966 coup that claimed his life. He said the late Prime Minister even turned down an invitation from the British government to pass the night of January 14, 1966 at the British High Commission in Lagos to escape from the coup plotters. Gen. Haruna who was under cross-examination by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo's counsel, Chief Anthony Mogbo (SAN) said whatever action he or his troops took during the war was motivated by a sense of duty to protect the unity of the country. "As the commanding officer and leader of the troops that massacred 500 men in Asaba, I have no apology for those massacred in Asaba, Owerri and Ameke-Item. I acted as a soldier maintaining the peace and unity of Nigeria," he declared. "If Gen. Yakubu Gowon apologised, he did it in his own capacity. As for me I have no apology," explaining, however, that "it was as barbaric as the 1966 coup; it was as barbaric as the pogrom, if there was also any other atrocity, the Kano extrajudicial killing was as barbaric as that." Gen. Haruna also recommended that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, Gen. Yakubu Gowon and Gen. Ibrahim Babangida be charged with failure to investigate the 1966 coup during their different terms as head of state. "Charge Buhari, Gowon, Babangida for not investigating the 1966 coup on the grounds of dereliction of duty," he said. On the 1966 coup, Gen. Haruna informed the panel that the late Alhaji Tafawa-Balewa, among other prominent Nigerians, had a foreknowledge of the coup. He said the late Prime Minister actually turned down an invitation from the British government to pass the night at its High Commission in Lagos as he believed the mutineers would kill him. Called by Mogbo (SAN) to explain the rationale behind ACF tagging the 1966 coup an "Igbo coup in spite of Alhaji Balewa, M.D. Yusuf, then a police officer, Col. Maimalari and many others of Northern extraction having prior knowledge of the coup, the star witness declined response. He, however, disclosed that the North had planned a jihad on the day of the coup, insisting that the statement "Igbo, Igbo, Igbo, you are no longer part of Nigeria," credited to the former Prime Minister (Balewa) was a misinterpretation of the actual intent. On the Gideon Akaluka incident of 1994, Gen. Haruna said that it was wrong to say that the Kano State Government never punished the killers of Mr. Gideon Akaluka, saying 20 unnamed persons were victims of extra-judicial killings which were supposed to be a deterrent. But he said the killings were not ordered by the state government. "My lord, I do not know who ordered the extra-judicial killing, nor where they were killed. All I know is that the Kano State Government, killed 20 people linked to the barbaric act," he said. Gen. Haruna said, "I don't know what you mean, 20 people were victims of the extra-judicial killing, but I don't know who ordered it, I have not said it is Kano State that ordered it." Also testifying, the Plateau State branch of NBA Chairman and son of late Lt.-Col. Yakubu Pam, Barrister Yusuf Pam demanded a public apology from Col. Ben Gbulie for alleging that the house which his father built was a gift from the then Northern regional government. "We were taught to forgive, but it is only normal for us to demand that such a statement that is patently false should be retracted by Gbulie. He should also apologise to us for this further damage to the memory of a patriotic officer who served the country well with his life."
BBC 1 Oct 2001 Nigeria's firebrand Muslim leaders Many northern states now operate under Islamic law By Dan Isaacs in Zaria, northern Nigeria His gold embossed calling card not only has a new telephone number on it, but also an e-mail address. Ibraheem Zakzaky may well have a reputation as a firebrand Muslim preacher with a large and devoted following, but he also stays constantly in touch with world events. "If we want a million people out on the streets on any issue we can do that," he says This may be something of an exaggeration, and he has perhaps lost some of the zeal of his younger more militant days in the 1980s and 90s, but he still commands widespread support among the legions of impoverished Muslim youths in northern Nigeria. From his house in the dusty northern town of Zaria, he follows media coverage of the aftermath of the terror attacks on the United States via satellite on the BBC and CNN. Every nuance of meaning, every word is absorbed and discussed. Terror attacks He considers the attacks on America a crime, but the response of President Bush to be treading on very dangerous ground. Ibraheem Zakzaky says he can mobilise huge numbers of people The use of the word "crusade" was picked up as not simply insensitive, but a clear indication that America's retaliation for the attacks on 11 September is to be a war against islam, and not against terrorism. It is only fairly recently that Zakzaky, leader of Nigeria's radical Islamic Movement, has been free to live without constant harassment by the authorities. The significance of his handing me a newly printed calling card at our meeting was that until a short while ago, he had been prevented from having a phone line. Now, he not only has a working phone, but e-mail access too. He expressed his regret that his website was still under construction. For now the United States has the sympathy of Muslim people in this area Ibraheem Zakzaky "Soon after the event we were all shocked and dismayed, because it appears now as if the entire Muslim people are considered guilty, over one billion of them," he says. "This was a crime perpetrated by some individuals and justice demands that only those individuals that are responsible should be brought to book." Ibraheem Zakzaky's comments are relevant not because they reflect the establishment view of Nigeria's traditional islamic leaders, but because they reflect a widely held view among Nigeria's poorer Muslims that in the coming confrontation led by America and its allies, they would show their support for Osama bin Laden, a man whose posters Zakzaky believes are now outselling those of Saddam Hussein. "For now the United States has the sympathy of Muslim people in this area, but if the richest country decides to attack the poorest nation on earth, that would be another story," he warns. "But if the American retaliation is anything like on the scale which is being currently talked about, then the protests in Nigeria could be strong". But Zakzaky's voice is by no means the most radical in Nigeria. And as Zakzaky's rhetoric has softened over recent years, many of his followers have looked elsewhere for inspiration. Radical wing Abubakar Mujahid has attempted to fill this gap. He broke away from his mentor a few years ago, and is now considered to lead a more radical Muslim faction in the north - known as the Ja'amutu Tajidmul Islami, The Movement for Islamic Revival. He too has displeased the authorities sufficiently to have spent time in detention. Mujahid lives in much more modest surroundings than does Zakzaky, and our meeting took place in the bare room of a village house, far from telephone or television. Abubakar Mujahid heads a more radical faction than his mentor His thick spectacles give the air of a bookish intellectual, but he too has a substantial following, and the tone of his words are harsh and uncompromising. "Before we condemn this attack in America we have to see who carried it out, and then see their reasons. If you put a person in a corner then like a snake he may feel he has to strike back". Any room for doubt in these words is quickly dispelled, as he continues by saying that "most of the people here are happy with the attacks because of what America stands for and what it does, in its attitude to the Palestinians, for example". "America has yet to publish any evidence and if instead it is determined to go the cowboy way with two guns blazing to get Osama bin Laden dead or alive, it will definitely lead to a confrontation between America and the Islamic world," he says. These are extremely sensitive issues for the authorities to deal with not only in Nigeria, but in any country with a substantial Muslim population. Neither Ibraheem Zakzaky nor Abubakar Mujahid hold political office in Nigeria, and both resolutely maintain their disdain for the power elite that rules Nigeria. Neither is suggesting that Muslim anti-American sentiments in northern Nigeria will lead to major protests in the coming weeks. But there is little doubt that the unswerving support for American military action expressed by Nigeria's leaders is being severely questioned by supporters of the country's populist Muslim preachers.
BBC 1 Oct 2001 Obasanjo admits 'enormous' problems Nigeria had virtually collapsed, says Obasanjo Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo has admitted his administration has so far failed to solve the country's huge challenges but said that things were getting better. In a speech to mark independence day on 1 October, Mr Obasanjo said he would continue his fight against corruption and insecurity. Everything, it seemed, had nearly collapsed President Obasanjo He told civil servants that unless they "changed their attitude" regarding corruption, the dividend of democracy would elude Nigeria. Mr Obasanjo took office in May 1999, ending 16 years of military rule which saw widespread human rights abuses and international isolation. 'No carnivals' A BBC correspondent in Nigeria says in place of the usual carnivals, Nigerians are expected to spend independence day reflecting on the country's problems. The president said that, "far too many of our citizens still remain poor" in one of the world's biggest oil-producing countries. Mr Obasanjo blamed the lack of progress on the "dismal reality" of the country he took over. "Everything, it seemed, had nearly collapsed: the economy, our physical infrastructure, the system of our social organisation together with our values and morals. Cynicism and corruption were the order of the day. Violent crime had reached unprecedented levels and nothing seemed to work," he said. Since taking office, Mr Obasanjo has repeatedly pledged to tackle corruption, recently setting up anti-corruption units in all ministries but he noted with "profound sadness" that graft was still prevalent among Nigeria's public officers. All citizens He also pledged to make Nigeria a safer place, saying that repeated outbreaks of communal violence were making his job harder. Last month, more than 500 people were killed in fighting between Christians and Muslims in the central city of Jos. In July, more than 100 were killed in Nasarawa state in ethnic clashes. "We owe it to ourselves and to the future of this great nation ... not to think of or see any fellow Nigerian as a 'settler' in our country where he or she is a citizen by birth," he said. Mr Obasanjo, in his second stint as head of state, said he would set up a Presidential Commission on Security to fight ethnic strife and banditry. He also warned of an "unrelenting war" on illegal arms trafficking. Americas
IRIN 23 Oct 2001 EU grants US $1.2 million to monitor Gacaca court trials NAIROBI, Rwanda's National Human Rights Commission says it has received a 1.3 million euro (US $1.2 million) European Union grant to monitor upcoming trials of genocide suspects in traditional courts known as Gacaca, the Rwanda News Agency reported on Monday. Commission President Gasana Ndoba told the agency that his organisation would monitor the fairness of the proceedings in the 11,000 Gacaca courts nationwide over a three-year period. "Earlier on we had received equally significant logistical and financial support from the Swiss government," he said. With financial and material aid from donors, he added, the commission would be able to extend its activities to rural residents, who are most vulnerable to human rights violations. So far, the commission has been able to open branches in all Rwanda's 12 provinces but, he added, there was a need to provide district offices so that the country's democratisation process wound be strengthened. Rwanda is resorting to the Gacaca court system to ease the backlog of some 115,000 genocide suspects awaiting trial. Because of the numbers involved and the dearth in judges and lawyers, it has been widely acknowledged that it would take decades to put these defendants on trial in regular courts.
Sapa-AFP 15 Oct 2001 Four face death over genocide Kigali - Four more people have been sentenced to death for taking part in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, Radio Rwanda said on Sunday. The defendants were found guilty of carrying out attacks in the south of the country during the three-month bloodbath in Rwanda. Another eight defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment, while three were given seven-year terms and two were acquitted, the state radio said. Rwandan courts handed down 74 death sentences in the first six months of 2001. Since late 1996 between 5 000 and 6 000 people have been tried from among about 120 000 people detained on suspicion of taking part in the genocide, in which up to 8OO OOO minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. A public execution was held in 1998 of 22 convicts.
BBC 14 Oct 2001, Rwanda genocide death sentences Many perpetrators of genocide are still to be tried By Helen Vesperini in Kigali The trial of 17 genocide suspects in the Rwandan province of Gikongoro has ended. This type of group trial is one of several initiatives by the Rwandan Government to speed up justice for genocide suspects. Five of the 17 people tried were sentenced to death for genocide and crimes against humanity. A further seven were given life in prison, and two were acquitted. The remaining three received sentences of seven years. Confession Legal sources in Gikongoro said one of those who had got seven years had his sentence reduced from 12 years initially because he confessed to his crimes. The government attaches great importance to confession in an attempt to heal the scars left by the genocide. Some two million people fled the genocide Rwanda has so far tried more than 3,000 genocide suspects, and sentenced more than 500 of them to death. But well over 100,000 are still crammed into the country's prisons awaiting trial. The problem of the backlog of cases is worsened by the fact that most of the country's judges perished in the genocide. People calculate that if trials continue at the current rate, tens of thousands of genocide suspects will die in prison before their cases are heard. Gacaca courts In an attempt to speed things up, the Rwandan authorities are introducing a system of community justice called "gacaca courts", where judges appointed at community level are given summary training. Suspects are brought before villages, and local people either acquit or condemn their neighbours. The gacaca courts will start functioning next year.
BBC 5 Oct 2001 Rwandans back people's courts By Helen Vesperini in Kigali Voting for new judges for traditional courts in Rwanda has entered the second day on Friday following an enthusiastic response on the opening day. Schools and offices were closed and there was virtually no traffic on the road as Rwandans from all walks of life choose fellow citizens as judges in the gacaca court system. The international tribunal has crawled along at a snail's pace Gacaca, means justice on the grass. The 260,000 men and women being elected will be sent to various panels, trained and given the power to judge all but the most serious genocide cases. Rwanda's prisons have overflowed with suspected killers awaiting trial, since the 1994 genocide when hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Shortcomings Now, through gacaca the government is trying to bring to justice the estimated 115,000 genocide suspects cramming the country's prisons. It is also trying to foster national reconciliation between killers and the families of victims. The voting is due to end on Sunday when it is expected that five levels of judges will have been elected to try the various categories of cases. But Rwandans from across the social spectrum say they can see that this grassroots system of bringing people to justice has its shortcomings. President Paul Kagame himself admits this to be the case. International standards " The flaw is that we are putting so much in the hands of the public. People have criticised that in terms of otherwise expected international standards of carrying out justice." "But here, (Rwanda) really, nothing necessarily goes according to the so-called international standards". The impact of the genocide is still felt in evey community Mr Kagame said that with all its problems gacaca offers the best alternative for the country's current situation where tens of thousands of genocide suspects risk being in jail without trial for centuries. He called for the situation in Rwanda to be "weighed against a different scale altogether because we are dealing with all sorts of things of unimaginable proportions". Limitations Most people seemed to have a reasonable idea of what was expected of them at the voting station but some had only a vague idea of the scope and limitations of the gacaca courts. Ordinary Rwandans and human rights groups alike are worried that people won't actually tell the truth before the gacaca courts for fear of reprisals. But they are conscious that without gacaca, tens of thousands of genocide suspects risk dying in jail before their cases are heard. Antoine Mugesera, the chairman of the genocide survivors' association, Ibuka, reckons that even if one quarter of the truth of what happened in 1994 could come out in gacaca, it would be a big step forward. The people of Rwanda for the most part think gacaca should certainly be given a chance.
Guardian (UK) 5 Oct 2001 Rwanda elects traditional judges for genocide trials James Astill in Nairobi. Rwandans went to the polls yesterday to choose 260,000 judges for traditional local courts to tackle the huge backlog of people awaiting trial for the 1994 genocide. Those elected will preside over community-based courts using a pre-colonial law which prefers reconciliations to retribution. Rwandans thereby hope to heal the bitter divisions which linger from the slaughter of up to a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus by extremists from the majority Hutu population. The initiative is also born of desperation. About 120,000 suspects are crammed into jails built for 10,000. To deal with them all at the current rate would take 200 years. Villagers queued outside polling stations yesterday, below yellow posters saying: "The Truth Heals". Those they elected will deal with the lesser crimes, including looting. These cases will be heard by 19 judges at gacaca (grass) open-air gatherings at the smallest administrative level, consisting of 50 households. Today they will elect judges to similar provincial courts to try more serious crimes, such as wounding. Murder will be tried exclusively by commune and district courts; the election of their judges has yet to be announced. Only category-one prisoners - 10,000 alleged rapists and architects of genocide - will remain in the classical legal system. Those accused at the traditional hearings will be invited to confess, in return for reduced sentences. Murders will be sentenced to a term of 12 years, up to half of it in community service. Many of those arrested soon after the killing may soon be free. Gacaca's supporters say leniency is the only way to truth and reconciliation, on the South Africa model. But not all Tutsis are convinced. The genocide was preceded by decades of crime against Tutsis, and critics say that stiff penalties are the only way to break with the past. "We are extremely concerned to see justice," said Bonaventure Nitibizi, vice-president of a genocide survivors' association. "Gacaca will mean Hutus gathering to let other Hutus off." Gerard Gahinma, the attorney general, conceded that there was such a risk. "But there is no justice for crimes of mass violence," he said. "Where participation in atrocities is widespread, justice can only be symbolic." Meanwhile, the brother-in-law of the late President Juvenal Habyarimana was handed over yesterday to the parallel United Nations tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, which is trying some of the worst crimes of 1994. Protais Zigiranyirazo is alleged to have set up roadblocks at which thousands of Tutsis were butchered.
Los Angeles Times 14 Oct 2001 A Tribe Makes a Waterfront Claim S. Africa: The Khoikhoi say prime lands were taken from them by Dutch settlers. Law provides for restitution but has a cutoff date.By ANN M. SIMMONS, TIMES STAFF WRITER CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- In a twist on South Africa's contentious debate over restoring land to landless people, an indigenous community has launched a drive to reclaim what is today some of the country's most valuable real estate. About 60,000 ethnic Khoikhoi of the Goringhaicona tribe, led by paramount chief Calvin Cornelius, want to regain large sections of Cape Town's stunningly beautiful and financially lucrative Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. The Khoi and the ethnic San, who together occupied this region thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans, are recognized in South Africa as the nation's first indigenous peoples. The Khoi of the Goringhaicona tribe claim that the waterfront areas are part of several huge tracts taken from their people after the arrival of Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Now the Khoi want the land back--or, at the very least, royalties from the developed portions to compensate for use of the prime coastal property, which rakes in billions of dollars in revenue each year for the city of Cape Town. In addition, the Khoi are laying claim to large swaths of "unencumbered state-owned land" elsewhere in the city that they say has historical significance. The biggest obstacle they face is that a provision of the South African Constitution dealing with restitution does not cover claims for land seized by whites in the early centuries of colonialism. Claims can be lodged based only on the status of land on or after June 19, 1913. That date marked the passage of the Natives Land Act, which successive white apartheid governments used to gradually designate about 80% of South Africa for white occupation. The nation's black majority was confined over time to the remaining land, which typically was remote and undeveloped. Indigenous communities elsewhere in the country have applied for the restitution of land taken from them before 1913, and some have been successful in resettling and developing reclaimed land after reaching agreements with the government. But in general, communities that were displaced during early colonial times have had difficulty getting recourse. "That's the problem with having that kind of [cutoff date] provision in the constitution," said Patricia de Lille, a member of Parliament and spokeswoman with the Pan-Africanist Congress, a small opposition party that has criticized the slow pace of the government's land restitution program. Since the apartheid system of white minority rule ended in 1994, 12,676 of 54,324 claims have been settled. Wallace Mgoqi, South Africa's land claims commissioner, said there has been a tendency to request financial compensation in settled urban areas, while in rural areas the claims largely have been for returning lands. Despite the long odds, Cornelius said, his people will not be put off. "We are talking about land that was taken away unlawfully and was sold," said the 41-year-old chief, who took over the position last year from his father. "Our ancestors were raped and abused for their land. We were dehumanized. We no longer have our identity. That is why it is so important that we claim back our land." The Khoi have begun a letter-writing campaign to press their claim and have put up signs in areas of Cape Town claiming various tracts of land. They expect to pursue their claim in court. Regaining the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is likely to be difficult. The area is home to a host of retail businesses, restaurants, offices and luxury residential units. Before the complex opened in 1990, the area was largely derelict, costing local authorities more than $1.2 million a year to maintain, according to V&A Waterfront spokeswoman Maureen Thomson. "The vision was to give part of the harbor back to the people," she said. Today, the waterfront attracts an average of 10 million visitors a year and is the city's biggest taxpayer. At least 14,000 permanent jobs have been created, in addition to temporary and seasonal positions. Thomson said no one from the tribe has approached the waterfront management regarding the land claim. But Cornelius insisted that the developers are well aware of the Khoi demands and that much of the land being sought belongs to the state. The chief explained that his people have no intention of closing down or demolishing the waterfront development. As for vacant parcels in the area, the tribe would lease the land to companies for development. Proceeds from these ventures would be channeled to the Goringhaicona, who for the most part are impoverished and employed only as semiskilled laborers and unskilled farm workers. The Khoi and San would be given priority for employment at the new ventures, Cornelius said. "As the chief, I would just be the custodian of the land, but the people would get the direct benefit," Cornelius said. "We are living in a multicultural country, but we will be biased toward the Khoi, without a doubt." The community also would like to plant hemp on some of the undeveloped land, to make money off the manufacture of hemp byproducts such as rope and sailcloth. "We are tired of handouts," Cornelius said. "We want to be become self-sufficient." The Khoi also want to prevent the creation of enclaves to which their community would not have access. Developers already have plans for an exclusive beach in an area called Granger Bay, which is now used by indigenous fishermen. "They want to take away our ancestral land and make it into a private beach for the very rich," Cornelius said. "That is unacceptable. That shows a total disrespect for our culture and who we really are." Cornelius said the community was hoping to use its "first nation" status as a political tool to gain international support and to press the government to hand over traditional lands. Glenda Glover, director of the Cape Town-based Surplus Peoples' Project, a land claims lobby group, said that although it was useful for historical claims to be documented, the return of occupied land probably is not as viable as ensuring that property already available for distribution is fairly divided. She explained that sometimes restoring past land divisions does not always bring about equal rights because a chief or a male head of household might end up reaping the most benefits. "We feel the focus should be on the redistribution process in terms of needs and affirmative action," Glover said. "It should be about recognizing this huge unequal distribution and doing something about it. It is the majority that has been dispossessed, so it is the majority that needs to be helped." But Cornelius and his people said their priority is ensuring their social advancement as well as regaining their cultural and national heritage. "It's only right, because this is Khoi land," said Dorothy Williams, 53, a traditional herbalist whose grandmother was forcibly removed from land under apartheid. "I think the land is not fairly distributed now. I would like some of [it] to be given back to the Khoi people for economic use, because people have to have a source of income." Added Cornelius: "By getting back the land, we are getting back a sense of who we really are. If you give back land to somebody, you acknowledge their existence. Giving the land back would be a sign of respect."
The Guardian 17 Oct 2001 Aids will kill 700,000 South Africans a year Chris McGreal in Cape Town Wednesday A devastating report into Aids suppressed by the South African government because it identifies the disease as the largest killer in the country and predicts millions more deaths, was finally made public yesterday after unions, churches and politicians demanded its release. But cabinet ministers spent recent days trying to discredit what the government-funded Medical Research Council (MRC) called its "shocking" findings because they fly in the face of President Thabo Mbeki's claim that Aids is responsible for only a fraction of deaths. "The number of Aids deaths can be expected to grow within the next 10 years to more than double the number of deaths due to all other causes, resulting in 5m to 7m cumulative Aids deaths in South Africa by 2010," the report said. The MRC report estimates that 40% of deaths of South Africans between the ages of 15 and 49 are Aids-related. The worst hit group are women in their late 20s and then men in their 30s. It says one in four pregnant women attending public health clinics carry the Aids virus. A decade ago, the figure was one in 100. At Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital in Soweto, the largest hospital in Africa, 43% of all deaths are because of Aids. Average life expectancy is expected to drop from 54 years at present to 41 by the end of the decade. At that time, about 780,000 people will be dying each year from Aids, the highest number in any country. "These shocking projections should galvanise efforts to minimise the devastation of the epidemic," the MRC said. The authors say their report is the outcome of the most comprehensive investigation to date into the impact of Aids, and that it was subject to rigorous review, including approval by Peter Goldblatt, the doctor who is chief medical statistician for England and Wales. But the South African government has stopped just short of dismissing the report outright in its attempts to downplay and discredit it. The health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, and Essop Pahad, the president's right-hand man, wrote an article in a Johannesburg Sunday newspaper deriding the report as a "massive propaganda tool" in the hands of those who argue for wide distribution of anti-retroviral drugs, and condemning a "sense of hysteria" over the question of deaths from Aids. "Existing data, including the MRC report, cannot be relied on; at most, it's just a work in progress," the ministers wrote. Dr Tshabalala-Msimang and Mr Pahad again quoted six-year-old World Health Organisation (WHO) mortality statistics to back up the president's claim that Aids is not the leading cause of death in South Africa. The WHO has said the figures are so out of date as to be meaningless. The government's statistics office, StatsSA, also publicly ridiculed the MRC report last week by saying the researchers had greatly exaggerated the rates of HIV transmission. StatsSA estimated the number of people who will die of Aids at no higher than 2m. One of the authors of the MRC report, Rob Dorrington, poured scorn on that claim. "It is a great shame that StatsSA chose to trash the MRC report," he said. "Their presentation to the press was riddled with half-truths and misunderstandings. It gives new meaning to the phrase 'lies, damn lies and statistics'. "They chose to do it in a very public way, without talking to us to check on their understanding of what was going on, and as a result they fed into the debate doubts about the accuracy of the numbers when the very real problem is the number of people that are dying." The report was ready in July but the government insisted that it could not be released without cabinet approval. After some findings were leaked earlier this month, the government came under pressure to make the report public. Cosatu, the trade union confederation and an ally of the governing African National Congress, along with the Anglican and Catholic churches and even the ANC's health committee, joined the call. Instead, the health minister issued a veiled threat to the MRC, describing the leaks as a "serious situation to be attended to". The row grew when a prominent anti-apartheid activist and former human rights commissioner, Rhoda Kadalie, called on Dr Tshabalala-Msimang to resign. "We have a genocide on our hands and you and your cohorts have been unwilling to listen to the experts," she said in a letter to a Johannesburg newspaper. "If the president is making it impossible to do your work effectively, why not resign with dignity in defiance of someone who is taking the country down with him?"
IRIN 8 Oct 2001 UN decries bomb attack on relief centre The World Food Programme (WFP) on Sunday expressed grave concern over two days of heavy bombing on an area used as a site for the distribution of relief food in southern Sudan. WFP said in a statement that 15 bombs were dropped on Saturday on the village of Mangayath, Western Bahr al-Ghazal, "directly into the area where WFP teams were in the process of distributing relief food to some 20,000 civilians". Aid workers have been urgently assisting thousands of people seeking refuge from Raga town, where intense fighting has broken out between government and rebel forces, WFP said. Since late September, some 20,000 people had fled from rebel-held Raga to the Mangayath area, causing a 10-fold increase in the area's population, the statement said. "We are extremely concerned about the recent incidents, which have created a significant setback to humanitarian operations in the area," said the WFP operations manager for southern Sudan, Ben Martinson. A similar attack was carried out on 5 October, when 15 bombs were dropped around the airfield at Mangayath, where WFP teams were handing out emergency food aid. WFP said it had been forced to suspend food distribution for one day, on 6 October, but on resumption on Sunday, the area had once again come under attack. Khartoum has been criticised by humanitarian and human rights groups for carrying out bombing raids on civilian targets in southern Sudan. WFP said, however, that it had been given clearance by the Sudanese government to deliver assistance to Mangayath. WFP said that it would attempt to deliver more food to Mangayath on Monday, and to complete a planned 240-tonne distribution over the next few days. "There are thousands of people whom we need to assist. We sincerely hope that renewed efforts to feed people will go uninterrupted by both sides to the conflict," Martinson said.
Hirondelle News Agency (Lausanne) 18 Oct 2001 Pastor Could Have Stopped Massacres, Says Witness Arusha Genocide suspect and Seventh Day Adventist pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana had "spiritual and moral" authority to avert or reduce the magnitude of 1994 massacres in his region of western Rwanda, a witness told the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) on Thursday. "As a spiritual leader who wielded great influence over his people and was in communication with political authorities, Pastor Ntakirutimana had the capacity to stop the killings," protected prosecution witness "QQ" told the court. Seventh Day Adventist Elizaphan Ntakirutimana is being jointly tried with his son Gerard Ntakirutimana. At the time of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, Elizaphan was pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist church at Mugonero in Kibuye. Gerard was a medical doctor at the infirmary which lay in the same complex. The two have pleaded not guilty to five counts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed during the 1994 genocide. Witness QQ, a former employee of Mugonero hospital, told the court that he had in 1995 participated in the exhumation and re-burial of between 6,000 and 7,000 Tutsi people killed in Mugonero church complex during the genocide. Lawyers for Pastor Ntakirutimana and Doctor Ntakirutimana contested the figures, suggesting that the witness had exaggerated. The Prosecutor alleges that the Ntakirutimanas are responsible for the killings of about 6,000 Tutsis that had taken refugee at the Mugonero complex. The court adjourned after witness QQ's testimony, as prosecution said the next scheduled witness was unable to testify because she was ill and had been admitted to hospital in Arusha. Presiding judge Navanethem Pillay of South Africa said the trial would continue on Friday if the witness had recovered. Judge Pillay was presiding in the short-term absence of Judge Mose of Norway, who normally presides in this case before Trial Chamber One. The other judge in this trial is Andrésia Vaz of Senegal. ICTR Rules provide that a trial can proceed with only two judges for up to five days.
IRIN 5 Oct 2001 Deputy registrar for International Criminal Tribunal sworn in NAIROBI, 5 October (IRIN) - The new Deputy Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Lovemore Green Munlo of Malawi, was sworn in on Thursday during a brief ceremony at the tribunal's headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, Internews reported. He took his oath of office before the tribunal's president, Navanethem Pillay of South Africa. The former Deputy Registrar, Beverly Kelly of the United States, left the tribunal at the end of her contract in June 2000. Munlo, 51, was Malawi's minister of justice between September 1993 and May 1994. He was director of prosecutions between 1984 and May 1987 in Malawi.
BBC 4 Oct 2001 Belgium hands over Rwandan genocide suspect The authorities in Belgium have handed over the brother-in-law of the late Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana to the UN tribunal on Rwanda hearing cases connected to the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Protais Zigiranyirazo alias Mr Z, a key suspect in the killings, has been transferred to a detention facility in the Tanzanian city of Arusha, where the court sits. He is charged with one count of extermination. He is alleged to have ordered soldiers manning roadblocks to kill Tutsis trying to escape. The indictment links him with the Akazu group, which human rights groups and the Rwandan government have blamed for masterminding the killing of half a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
IRIN 4 Oct 2001 Government bans opposition marches ABIDJAN, Togo's government has banned marches which an opposition party planned to hold this week to commemorate the 11th anniversary of riots that occurred on 5 October 1990. The Workers Party (PIT - Parti des travailleurs) had planned to hold a wreath-laying ceremony and organise a march through the streets of the Togolese capital, Lome, on Friday and Saturday. However, the interior minister, General Sizing Walla, announced on Wednesday that the commemoration had been banned because its aim was "illegal and contrary to the constitution". "Your will to provoke is evident since you want to celebrate attacks on the democratic constitutional order that had disastrous consequences for the country," Walla said in a communique quoted on the Republic of Togo website. These attacks "were so regretable that no party or movement has claimed responsibility so far," Walla said. The 1990 riots had been sparked by the sentencing to five years imprisonment of two students convicted of distributing inflamatory tracts and inciting the army to revolt. The then one-party government claimed the unrest had been orchestrated from abroad and that many of the people arrested were foreigners. The two students were pardoned by President Gnassingbe Eyadema in mid-October 1990 while the some 170 people detained in connection with the riots were released a little while later. However, the unrest continued in the following months. In March 1991, for example, striking students clashed with supporters of the ruling party and the security forces. In April 1991, demonstrators calling for Eyadema's resignation also clashed with security forces. Later that month, the national assembly passed a bill legalising opposition parties but this was clouded by the discovery of 26 corpses in a Lome lagoon. The opposition said these were the bodies of opposition demonstrators beaten to death by security forces but the government denied this. Despite the introduction of multiparty politics, Togo has been plagued by periodic bouts of unrest since then and, at one point, many Togolese - over 200,000 according to various sources - fled to neighbouring Ghana. Presidential elections held in 1998 were clouded by complaints of rigging. A report by Amnesty International that the bodies of hundreds of victims of repression in Togo were washed up on Togolese and Beninese coasts in 1998 was denied by the government, which invited the United Nations to conduct an investigation into the claim. Facilitators representing the European Union, France, Germany and la Francophonie (an association grouping French-speaking nations) have been trying since May 1999 to broker talks between the ruling Togolese People's Rally (RPT - Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais) and the opposition. In recent weeks, the talks have been hampered by the imprisonment of opposition Yawovi Agboyibo, a veteran of the fight for multiparty democracy, on a defamation charge.
AFP 21 Oct 2001 Six dead, 12 wounded in Colombia blast BOGOTA, A bomb explosion in northwest Colombia left at least six dead and 12 injured, hospital officials said Sunday. A five-story residential building in El Penol, 350 kilometers (220 miles) northwest of the capital Bogota, was targeted by the blast said Orlando Montoya, director of a local hospital. Police chief Guillermo Aranda blamed leftist guerrillas for the explosion that destroyed two floors of the apartment block and damaged buildings in a one-block radius. "This terrorist attack was the work of the National Liberation Army," Aranda charged. The ELN is the second largest left-wing rebel group in the country, which has been mired in decades of war between rival guerrilla factions and the government that has killed more than 200,000. Aranda saidd the bomb contained some 30 to 50 kilos (66-110 pounds) of dynamite and was comparable to bombs that have exploded in the area over the past four months. A police officer, his wife and their two children who lived in the building were among the victims, Montoya said. Many of the wounded were in serious condition, he added.
BBC 21 Oct 2001, Fresh violence kills 30 in Colombia Left-wing rebels were blamed for the bombings A wave of bomb attacks and shootings by rebel guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries in Colombia has left at least 30 people dead and 15 injured. The first blast - blamed on a left-wing guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army - destroyed a building in the town of Peñol, 350km (220 miles) north-west of the capital Bogota, killing a policeman, his wife and child and two other civilians. The second attack - blamed on the main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) - destroyed an underground gas pipeline in the north-eastern department of Guajira, killing at least four people in a nearby building that was enveloped in flames. In another attack blamed on the FARC, five women and a man were killed in the village of El Habra in the same province. In the south-western province of Valle del Cauca, the army said rebels dragged four men and a woman from their car and shot them. Outlawed right-wing paramilitaries also shot and killed 10 peasants in the town of Alejandria, 190km (115 miles) north west of Bogota. Stalled talks Police said the paramilitaries accused the peasants of collaborating with the FARC. The latest violence comes amid growing tension between government and rebel negotiators seeking to restart the stalled peace process. The government has rejected demands by the FARC as conditions for reopening talks. The FARC demanded the government halt military operations on the borders of their safe haven in southern Colombia. They said any discussion of a possible ceasefire was impossible while a wave of massacres by right-wing paramilitaries continued. The government's peace commissioner, Camilo Gómez, said the demands could not be taken seriously.
BBC 15 Oct 2001, Colombia captures suspected death squad AUC wants to rid Colombia of Marxist guerrillas By Jeremy McDermott in Colombia Colombian security forces have arrested 22 suspected members of right-wing death squads, including eight believed to have been involved in the bloody massacre of 24 peasants on 10 October. The arrests come at a time when the Colombian army is fighting accusations that it is collaborating with the paramilitaries in their fight against Marxist guerrillas. Colombian security forces captured the 22 suspected members of the United Self Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), a group pledged to eliminate Marxist guerrillas from Colombia. Its favoured tactic is arriving in guerrilla dominated areas and murdering people suspected of being rebel sympathisers. This was exactly what happened last Wednesday when some 30 paramilitaries arrived in the area of Buga in the province of Valle del Cauca by the Pacific Ocean. Here the death squad proceeded to drag people from their homes and stopped a passing bus. They executed 24 people at point blank range, many in front of their wives and children. In a particularly cruel spate of killings they told the victims they could run away and then shot them in the back as they fled, finishing off the wounded with a shot to the head, witnesses said. Eight of the paramilitaries captured are believed to be linked to these massacres in Buga. But human rights groups insist the army is still in bed with the paramilitaries, and that these arrests were conducted only in response to national and international pressure. The NGO Human Rights Watch has just released a report called Colombia's Sixth Division, which states that army paramilitary collaboration is closer than ever.
AP 14 Oct 2001 Colombian Army Captures Slay Suspects BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — Soldiers on Sunday captured eight paramilitary fighters suspected of killing at least 24 peasants in a village in southwestern Colombia, the army said. The suspected members of the outlaw militia, known as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, or AUC, were caught in a raid in the province of Valle del Cauca, near where the Oct. 10 massacre of the peasants took place. The villagers were removed from buses and homes and then shot in the head in the village of Buga. The right-wing AUC regularly kills peasants it suspects of aiding leftist guerrillas. The men were captured in the village of Darien, 186 miles southwest of the capital, Bogota, army spokesman Capt. Jorge Florez said. Buga is about 12 miles east of Darien. The massacre was one of several blamed on the AUC that have left nearly 60 people dead in the past week. An army operation late Saturday in neighboring Quindio province netted another 10 suspected AUC fighters. It wasn't clear if these men were also suspected in the recent violence. President Andres Pastrana's government has been under growing pressure to rein in the surging AUC, which is waging a grisly war against Colombia's guerrilla armies. Curbing paramilitary violence is a key condition for Colombia to continue receiving aid through a $1.3 billion anti-drug package from Washington. Some 62 AUC members were captured during military operations in April, but many say the government lacks the resolve to confront the paramilitary army. A report released this month by Human Rights Watch found evidence of collaboration between the AUC and three Colombian army brigades. One of the units singled out was the 3rd Brigade, which organized the raid early Sunday in Darien. Colombia's top human rights official has demanded an investigation into whether the unit could have prevented the slayings in Buga.
BBC 1 Oct 2001 Colombia stares into the abyss Pastrana's rival Serpa was stopped by guerrillas By the BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Medellín, Colombia When the guerrillas forced former culture minister Consuelo Araujo onto her knees and shot her twice in the head, they also killed the last vestiges of public faith in the country's peace process. President Andres Pastrana, who described the act as "vile and cowardly", now finds himself in an impossible position. The public outcry after the murder of the popular former minister is deafening. Mr Pastrana was elected on the back of his promise to negotiate a settlement to the country's 37-year civil conflict. He made sweeping government concessions, most particularly the granting of a 42,000 square kilometre safe haven to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 1998, to get the peace process started. Yet after three years of talks there has been no tangible progress. Not only have the rebels refused to call a ceasefire, but they have escalated their attacks on isolated police stations across the country and brought kidnapping to record levels along with other types of extortion. Now Mr Pastrana has been forced back to the drawing board. "I've decided to evaluate the peace process in its entirety, component by component, with the certainty that Colombia's pain and its profound disgust for violence won't fall into a vacuum," he said in a televised address on Sunday. Source of tension The safe haven has been continual source of tension, brought to a head last weekend. The massive zone, granted for the purposes of peace, has been abused by the FARC. Critics allege that the guerrillas have used the area, where security forces are forbidden to enter, to build up military strength, recruit minors, import arms, export drugs and hold kidnap victims. Pastrana cannot afford to let the FARC go unpunished Last Saturday the Liberal Party presidential candidate, Horacio Serpa, staged a march from Bogotá to the safe haven, aimed a highlighting guerrilla abuses and pressuring the rebels into making real concessions in peace negotiations. On the outskirts of the zone - 200km south of the capital - he was stopped by armed guerrillas who said they had placed a car bomb and mines across the road and that Mr Serpa had to turn back. Accompanied by hundreds of supporters and press, Mr Serpa insisted this was a defeat not for him but democracy, and the tensions over the safe haven flared again and the questions were asked: Was this a zone for peace, or a Marxist mini-state which the guerrillas were using to prosecute their war against a democratically-elected government? The options facing President Pastrana are few and unappealing. He is under pressure not just from an outraged public but from the statements made by the presidential hopefuls, all of whom are hoping to capitalise on public frustration with the peace process. Tough talk They are talking tough knowing it is President Pastrana who has to make the decisions. The FARC is demonstrating that they have no desire for peace Head of ruling Conservative Party "All members of the FARC are responsible for this atrocious crime. They have to pay for it," said independent presidential candidate Noemi Sanin. "Given these demonstrations of arrogance and cruelty, Colombia has only one path. I propose that the peace process be suspended." Even his own party has lost patience with the guerrillas. "The FARC is demonstrating that they have no desire for peace," said Carlos Holguin Sardi, head of the ruling Conservative Party, from which Mr Pastrana comes. But should the president bow to public demands to remove the guerrilla safe haven or take revenge in some way on the rebels, the last three years of negotiations will have been in vain and any hopes of a negotiated peace gone. Yet he cannot afford to let the FARC get away unpunished for these latest atrocities or what little public support he still has will evaporate. The stakes are higher than ever before. Peace seems more distant than it has in 37 years of fighting, and the results of an end to the peace process will be to plunge Colombia into all out civil war.
Reuters 5 Oct 2001 Motorcycle-Riding Mexican Politician in Film Debut By Miguel Angel Gutierrez MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - One of Mexico's most colorful politicians, noted for riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and wearing a leather jacket, made his debut as a film actor on Friday -- playing himself. Felix Salgado, a congressman for the left-wing Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), plays himself as a campaigner against government corruption in his home state of Guerrero in the movie, called ``The Warrior.'' The film, which cost $400,000 to make, includes footage of real events before the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) lost the presidency last year after dominating the presidency for 71 years. During its long, authoritarian rule the PRI gained a reputation for treading on individual rights and for maintaining power in rural areas through vote buying, intimidation and sponsoring local fiefdoms. ``The film is a social indictment which tells the story of a village that organizes itself because it does not want to continue under the yoke of a single family,'' .... On a more serious note, the film also recreates a 1995 massacre in Guerrero, one of Mexico's most violent states, of 17 peasants by police in the village of Aguas Blancas only 50 miles from the resort town of Acapulco. The massacre forced the resignation of Ruben Figueroa, who at the time was the PRI's governor of Guerrero. The film also touches on the plight of two ecologists, in jail in Guerrero after being convicted for arms possession and cultivating marijuana, who led a campaign against the activities of loggers in the hills of Guerrero. The film's producers say they plan to use proceeds to establish a charitable foundation to help widows of those who died in the Aguas Blancas massacre. The film, which will be shown at a film festival in Havana, Cuba in December, opened Friday in 45 theaters throughout Mexico, including 27 in the capital.
Reuters 3 Oct 2001 Mexico Official Orders Files Open in '68 Massacre By Adriana Barrera MEXICO CITY - On the 33rd anniversary of an army massacre of dozens of students, the worst incident of repression in modern Mexican history, Interior Minister Santiago Creel ordered the opening of official files that could finally clarify who gave orders for the shooting. During rowdy commemorative marches in the capital on Tuesday, police arrested at least 50 people charged with vandalism, robbery and other crimes. Television footage showed dozens among the hundreds of marchers swarming over public buses and jumping on their roofs, and spray-painting walls and monuments in the center of the capital. Most of Tuesday's marchers were not even born when on Oct. 2, 1968, dozens of students died in the Plaza of the Three Cultures in the heart of Mexico City, in what has become known as the Tlatelolco massacre, 10 days before the inauguration of the Mexico Olympic Games . The marchers, swept up in the global wave of student protests of the era, were demonstrating against police brutality at earlier student events in Mexico City. According to official figures 28 people died in Tlatelolco, 200 were wounded and 1,000 were arrested, but many unofficial accounts put the dead at at least 300. It has also never been clear whether the shooting was ordered, and by whom, or whether it was due to confusion among the troops. Creel, of the conservative National Action Party (PAN) which ended 71 years of one-party rule when it won presidential elections last year, said he had given instructions to the Mexican intelligence agency, the National Security and Information Center (CISEN), to open archives on the massacre. Previous investigations, including a legislative commission three years ago, have failed to clarify who gave the orders to shoot. That is partly because the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico for seven decades until the PAN victory last year, never opened files on the case. Then-President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, of the PRI, always denied he gave orders to shoot. Luis Echeverria, who was head of security at the time of the massacre, and who became president in 1970, has also denied participation.
AP 2 Oct 2001 Mexico Marks 1968 Student Massacre MEXICO CITY - President Vicente Fox , in marking the 1968 massacre of pro-democracy students, promised on Tuesday to open secret government archives about the event. Fox said his government ``recognizes the events of Oct. 2, 1968 as one of the most important events in the democratic struggle of Mexicans'' and one that led to his opposition-party victory last year. Shortly before the 1968 Olympics here, troops opened fire on a largely peaceful student demonstration in Mexico City's Tlatelolco Plaza. The government claimed about 24 died, but witnesses described a blood bath and most historians say about 300 students died, caught in a cross fire with exits blocked by police and troops. The event scarred the consciousness of a generation and hurt the standing of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The PRI, which restricted formal opposition until the end of the 1980s, lost last year's presidential election to Fox after 71 years in power. Fox thanked those who gave their lives and said because of their sacrifice ``all of us today enjoy this climate of liberties, pluralism and greater participation.''
WP 27 Oct 2001 U.S. Cites 6 Nations in Report on Religious Intolerance By Steven Mufson, Page A28 The State Department issued its annual report on religious freedom yesterday, citing six countries for what it said were egregious violations but sparing anti-terrorism allies such as Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan from special designation. The State Department's report designated Iran, China, Burma, North Korea, Sudan and Iraq as "countries of particular concern." North Korea was newly added to the list. In addition, the report cited the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, though it does not consider the Taliban a legitimate government. The State Department said the war on terrorism did not affect which countries were named in its religious-freedom report, noting that it cited Iran, China and Sudan despite their cooperation in the current anti-terrorism campaign. "Things that are important to the United States in terms of human rights, in terms of religious freedom, haven't changed," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. "Respect for human rights is essentially part of the tools we use against terrorism as well." But human rights groups criticized the administration for failing to designate Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan as "countries of particular concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Moreover, human rights groups said, the report softened the language used about Xinjiang, the western region of China where ethnic Uighurs, who are Muslim, have suffered harsh treatment under a "Strike Hard" campaign Beijing launched in April. "Clearly, the administration doesn't want to offend key allies in the coalition through excessive truth-telling," said Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. He said the report's text "does honestly cover a lot of the problems of persecuted people around the world, but its findings are not reflected in the designations in many cases." Though designation of a country in the report gives the administration the option of applying sanctions, it does not require them. Sanctions are already in place for the countries cited by the new report. Boucher acknowledged that "there is, essentially, no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. [The] government requires all citizens to be Muslim, continues to prohibit any public manifestation of non-Muslim religions. So that situation is stable." But he said the treatment of Saudi Arabia in the report did not change from last year, when Saudi practices were criticized but did not draw the designation of being a country of concern. Boucher also defended the decision not to single out Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which, in searching for alleged terrorists, have harshly cracked down on Islamic groups. Boucher said that in Turkmenistan, "the harassment of unregistered religious groups has continued and, in fact, some say intensified there, but we didn't feel that they met the standard to be designated this year." Some members of Congress have indicated concern about human rights abuses among U.S. allies in the war on terrorism. Sen. Paul D. Wellstone (D-Minn.) this week attached an amendment to the foreign operations appropriations bill requiring an accounting of how money earmarked for Uzbekistan is spent.
www.state.gov (US State Dept) 26 Oct 2001 The 2001 Report covers the period from July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2001, and reflects a year of dedicated effort by hundreds of State Department, Foreign Service, and other U.S. Government employees. Our embassies, which prepared the initial drafts of the reports, gathered information throughout this period from a variety of sources, including government and religious officials, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, religious groups, and academics. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2001/
Salon.com 18 Oct 2001 A memo to American Muslims -It's time for us to search our souls. How can the message of Muhammad become a source of horror and fear? How can Islam inspire thousands of youth to dedicate their lives to killing others? Editor's note: The heartfelt and brave missive below, which is circulating on the Web, comes as a bolt of reason in an increasingly unhinged time. Written by an American Muslim scholar who was born in India, educated at Georgetown University and now teaches political science at a Michigan college, the open letter calls upon fellow Muslims to cast aside violent passions and superstitions and embrace Islam's higher calling. The memo is a direct challenge to Islamic intellectuals and clerics like Egyptian sheikh Muhammad Al-Gamei'a, imam of the Islamic Cultural Center and Mosque of New York City, whose wild-eyed descriptions of the Sept. 11 terror attacks as a Jewish plot deserve the emphatic condemnation of thinking people everywhere. By M. A. Muqtedar Khan, In the name of Allah, the most Benevolent and the Most Merciful. May this memo find you in the shade of Islam enjoying the mercy, the protection and the grace of Allah. I am writing this memo to you all with the explicit purpose of inviting you to lead the American Muslim community in soul searching, reflection and reassessment. What happened on Sept. 11 in New York and Washington will forever remain a horrible scar on the history of Islam and humanity. No matter how much we condemn it, and point to the Quran and the Sunnah to argue that Islam forbids the killing of innocent people, the fact remains that the perpetrators of this crime against humanity have indicated that their actions are sanctioned by Islamic values. The fact that even now several Muslim scholars and thousands of Muslims defend the accused is indicative that not all Muslims believe that the attacks are un-Islamic. This is truly sad. Even if it were true that Israel and the U.S. are enemies of the Muslim world, a response that mercilessly murders thousands of innocent people, including hundreds of Muslims, is absolutely indefensible. If anywhere in your hearts there is any sympathy or understanding with those who committed this act, I invite you to ask yourself this question: Would Muhammad sanction such an act? While encouraging Muslims to struggle against injustice (Al Quran 4:135), Allah also imposes strict rules of engagement. He says in unequivocal terms that to kill an innocent being is like killing entire humanity (Al Quran 5:32). He also encourages Muslims to forgive Jews and Christians if they have committed injustices against us (Al Quran 2:109, 3:159, 5:85). Muslims, including American Muslims, have been practicing hypocrisy on a grand scale. They protest against the discriminatory practices of Israel but are silent against the discriminatory practices in Muslim states. In the Persian Gulf one can see how laws and even salaries are based on ethnic origin. This is racism, but we never hear of Muslims protesting against them at international forums. The Israeli occupation of Palestine is perhaps central to Muslim grievance against the West. While acknowledging that, I must remind you that Israel treats its 1 million Arab citizens with greater respect and dignity than most Arab nations treat their citizens. Today Palestinian refugees can settle in the U.S. and become American citizens, but in spite of all the tall rhetoric of the Arab world and Quranic injunctions (24:22), no Muslim country except Jordan extends this support to them. While we loudly and consistently condemn Israel for its ill treatment of Palestinians, we are silent when Muslim regimes abuse the rights of Muslims and slaughter thousands of them. Remember Saddam Hussein and his use of chemical weapons against Muslims (Kurds)? Remember the Pakistani army's excesses against Muslims (Bengalis)? Remember the mujahideen of Afghanistan and their mutual slaughter? Have we ever condemned them for their excesses? Have we demanded international intervention or retribution against them? Do you know how the Saudis treat their minority Shiis? Have we protested the violation of their rights? But we all are eager to condemn Israel; not because we care for the rights and lives of the Palestinians; we don't. We condemn Israel because we hate "them." Muslims love to live in the U.S. but also love to hate it. Many openly claim that the U.S. is a terrorist state but they continue to live in it. Their decision to live here is testimony that they would rather live here than anywhere else. As an Indian Muslim, I know for sure that nowhere on earth, including India, will I get the same sense of dignity and respect that I have received in the U.S. No Muslim country will treat me as well as the U.S. has. If what happened on Sept. 11 had happened in India, the world's biggest democracy, thousands of Muslims would have been slaughtered in riots on mere suspicion and there would be another slaughter after the culprits' identity was confirmed. But in the U.S., bigotry and xenophobia have been kept in check by the media and political leaders. In many places hundreds of Americans have gathered around Islamic centers in symbolic gestures of protection and embrace of American Muslims. In many cities Christian congregations have started wearing hijab to identify with fellow Muslim women. In patience and in tolerance ordinary Americans have demonstrated their extraordinary virtues. It is time that we acknowledge that the freedoms we enjoy in the U.S. are more desirable to us than superficial solidarity with the Muslim world. If you disagree, then prove it by packing your bags and going to whichever Muslim country you identify with. If you do not leave and do not acknowledge that you would rather live here than anywhere else, know that you are being hypocritical. It is time that we faced these hypocritical practices and struggled to transcend them. It is time that American Muslim leaders fought to purify their own lot. For over a decade we have watched as Muslims in the name of Islam have committed violence against other Muslims and other peoples. We have always found a way to reconcile the vast distance between Islamic values and Muslim practices by pointing to the injustices committed upon Muslims by others. The point however is this -- our belief in Islam and commitment to Islamic values is not contingent on the moral conduct of the U.S. or Israel. And as Muslims can we condone such inhuman and senseless waste of life in the name of Islam? The biggest victims of hate-filled politics as embodied in the actions of several Muslim militias all over the world are Muslims themselves. Hate is the extreme form of intolerance and when individuals and groups succumb to it they can do nothing constructive. Militias like the Taliban have allowed their hate for the West to override their obligation to pursue the welfare of their people and as a result of their actions not only have thousands of innocent people died in America, but thousands of people will die in the Muslim world. Already, half a million Afghans have had to leave their homes and their country. It will only get worse as the war escalates. Hamas and Islamic Jihad may kill a few Jews, women and children included, with their suicide bombs and temporarily satisfy their lust for Jewish blood, but thousands of Palestinians then pay the price for their actions. The culture of hate and killing is tearing away at the moral fabric of the Muslim society. We are more focused on "the other" and have completely forgotten our duty to Allah. In pursuit of the inferior jihad we have sacrificed the superior jihad. Islamic resurgence, the cherished ideals of which pursued the ultimate goal of a universally just and moral society, has been hijacked by hate and calls for murder and mayhem. If Osama bin Laden were an individual, then we would have no problem. But unfortunately bin Laden has become a phenomenon -- a cancer eating away at the morality of our youth, and undermining the spiritual health of our future. Today the century-old Islamic revival is in jeopardy because we have allowed insanity to prevail over our better judgment. Yes, the U.S. has played a hand in the creation of bin Laden and the Taliban, but it is we who have allowed them to grow and gain such a foothold. It is our duty to police our world. It is our responsibility to prevent people from abusing Islam. It is our job to ensure that Islam is not misrepresented. We should have made sure that what happened on Sept. 11 should never have happened. It is time the leaders of the American Muslim community woke up and realized that there is more to life than competing with the American Jewish lobby for power over U.S. foreign policy. Islam is not about defeating Jews or conquering Jerusalem. It is about mercy, about virtue, about sacrifice and about duty. Above all it is the pursuit of moral perfection. Nothing can be further away from moral perfection than the wanton slaughter of thousands of unsuspecting innocent people. I hope that we will now rededicate our lives and our institutions to the search for harmony, peace and tolerance. Let us be prepared to suffer injustice rather than commit injustices. After all, it is we who carry the divine burden of Islam and not others. We have to be morally better, more forgiving, more sacrificing than others, if we wish to convince the world about the truth of our message. We cannot simply be equal to others in virtue, we must excel. It is time for soul searching. How can the message of Muhammad, who was sent as mercy to mankind, become a source of horror and fear? How can Islam inspire thousands of youth to dedicate their lives to killing others? We are supposed to invite people to Islam, not murder them. The worst exhibition of Islam happened on our turf. We must take first responsibility to undo the evil it has manifest. This is our mandate, our burden and also our opportunity. salon.com - - - - - - - - - - - - About the writer Muqtedar Khan is a political science professor at Adrian College in Michigan. He is on the board of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. http://www.islam-democracy.org/
Houston Chronicle 14 Oct 2001, Holocaust group seeks to reach out to child survivors Stories of other atrocities are shared at annual meeting here By RON NISSIMOV Copyright 2001 Since 1991, child survivors of the Holocaust have been holding annual conferences to share their stories and find a sense of community that had long eluded many of them. This week, the annual meeting is taking place in Houston with a new twist. In what is being called the first public forum of its kind, the child survivors of the Holocaust are reaching out to child survivors of other atrocities, such as the genocide in Rwanda and the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. "We have to do something to share our experiences, our rebirth, with other people in similar situations," said Carla Lessing, a child Holocaust survivor who lives in Huntington-on-the-Hudson, N.Y. Lessing is one of 230 people registered for the conference for child Holocaust survivors and their families that began Friday and ends today. This event is for registered guests only. The public forum on children and genocide worldwide started Sunday and ends Tuesday. Both events are being held at the Westin Galleria. The conferences include speeches, seminars, presentations and panel discussions led by historians, educators and therapists. Keynote speakers include Richard Sezibera, Rwandan ambassador to the United States; Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a child Holocaust survivor; Robert Krell, professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia; and Robert Melson, political science professor at Purdue University. Lessing said she was 11 years old when her family went into hiding in Holland to escape the Nazis. She said that from 1942 until the end of World War II, she, her mother and brother hid together in homes that a Jesuit priest found for them. Her father died in 1936, she said. "I remember that by end of 1942 there were less and less (Jewish) kids at school," Lessing said. "They either went into hiding, were picked up by the Nazis, or tried to cross the border." Like many other child Holocaust survivors, Lessing said she rarely talked about her experiences until recently. "If I would talk about it, people's faces would change," she said. "I felt I inflicted my suffering onto them. Nobody wants to hear the story of a narrow escape from death." Chaja Verveer of Friendswood was born in The Hague in 1941, and was separated from her parents a year later so she and family members could hide more easily from the Nazis. She lived with various families until she was shipped to an orphanage, where she stayed until the end of the war. Many of her relatives were killed by the Nazis, she said, but her mother and brother survived. They were reunited after the war. She said she doesn't remember much of the turmoil while she was a toddler, but it nevertheless affected her. Verveer said she and many other child survivors have had to cope with "feelings of always being a stranger," nightmares and guilt at having survived. "For many years, the opinion was that child survivors didn't suffer because they had no memory of it," she said. "You were just supposed to get over it." She said this perception changed in 1991 when the first conference for child survivors was held in New York and thousands showed up. She said the annual conferences have given child survivors "an opportunity to not have to explain themselves, to be with others and to heal." Verveer said there are 25 members of the Houston chapter of the International Child Survivors of the Holocaust association, but there are probably others who are still reluctant to come forward. Pauline Rubin, of Houston, who hid in Belgium during the Holocaust, said, "If it weren't for this group I belong to, I would never be talking to you."
Denver Post (US) 7 Oct 2001 Diversity colors Columbus rally By Sheba R. Wheelerand Kirk Mitchel- The intersection of Broadway of Colfax Avenue radiated with color, dance and unity Saturday as hundreds of demonstrators protested the celebration of Columbus Day with an alternative display of diversity. "We are here today to break the cycle of hate," Rep. Suzanne Williams, D-Aurora, told about 2,000 people who participated in the "Four Directions All Nations March." The march highlighted four days of concerts, rallies and spiritual gatherings devised by the Transform Columbus Day Alliance, which has joined forces to end the state's acknowledgment of the federal Columbus Day holiday, which is Monday. Last year, 150 protesters were arrested for blocking a Columbus Day parade route for nearly an hour. This year, alliance members took a different approach, hoping to encourage Colorado and the nation that Columbus Day celebrations should be reincarnated into an annual celebration of diversity and acceptance. The march was peaceful, albeit loud and feisty. One member of the Black Blocs, an anarchist group that wore black clothing and masks, was arrested before the marches began. Police did not say why they were detained. A few hundred officers were assigned to the marches and rally to ward off any repeats of last year's conflict. "This is the alternative we wanted to the racist Columbus holiday," said Glenn Morris, a member of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. Demonstrators met at 9 a.m. at different locations - north, south, east and west of the state Capitol. Marchers were dressed in colored T-shirts meant to represent the colors of humanity: red, white, yellow and black. Participants were led by flag-bearers, an eagle staff holder, pipe-blowers and drum-beaters, whose rhythmic beat encouraged participants to march several miles to the Capitol. Well-known community leaders - including Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, known as the father of the Chicano Movement, and American Indian activist and actor Russell Means - brushed shoulders with local black political leaders such as Rep. Peter Groff, D-Denver, and Sen. Penfield Tate, D-Denver. "Room for all of us' After the march, which lasted about two hours, the four groups united at Broadway and Colfax. The Grupo Tlaloc dance troupe, decked in Aztec ceremonial clothing, turned the normally frenetic intersection into a stage as it surrounded a single drummer pounding out a lively beat. At a rally on the steps of the Capitol, dozens of speakers echoed the same refrain: the nation should not celebrate Columbus because, they say, he was a slave trader who committed genocide against indigenous people. Steve Reaves, a passer-by who watched the parade, said there should be a separate holiday for indigenous people. "I don't think they need to discredit Christopher Columbus," Reaves said. "There should be room for all of us." Marcher Michael Miera said others might misperceive the protest march as inappropriate and separatist when the nation has united against the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. "But we have the right to be out here," Miera said. "It's not about us being against the Italians or Italian pride. It's about us being against a policy of genocide and a national holiday that celebrates the man responsible for the rape of Indian populations." Wayne Wells, a member of the Lakota Indian tribe, performed a "smudge" ceremony before his yellow group marched. He used eagle feathers to fan smoke from burning sage into the faces and bodies of participants and petitioned Wakantonka to bless them. "I'm just a praying man," Wells said.
Reuters 6 Oct 2001 Ex-Nazi Prison Guard Faces Deportation From Ohio CLEVELAND - A Polish immigrant was stripped of his U.S. citizenship and faced deportation on Saturday for serving as a prison guard at Nazi slave labor camps during World War II, a federal judge ruled. U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan ruled on Friday that Wasyl Krysa, 75, obtained his U.S. citizenship in 1958 by lying about his prison camp record when he applied for admission to this country. Her decision stripped the retired Cleveland-area machinist of his citizenship and cleared the way for deportation proceedings. Krysa said he was forced to become a prison guard by the Nazis and never participated in the killing of any prisoners. His attorney, Joseph McGinnis, argued that he was a blameless victim of guilt by association. But the judge said that as a guard at three concentration camps Krysa aided in the Holocaust because he helped to prevent anyone from escaping the genocidal slaughter. McGinnis said that Krysa should be protected from deportation under U.S. laws that allowed people forced into Nazi service under threats they might be killed to become citizens -- even if they lied about their wartime records. Michael Chertoff, a U.S. assistant attorney general, said the ruling against Krysa stands as a testament that the U.S. government has not forgotten the victims of Nazi brutality.
LA Times 29 Sept 2001 LOS ANGELES Diplomat Slaying Case Is Reopened Courts: D.A. will retry part of 1982 case to block parole for the man convicted of the killing. By STEVE BERRY, TIMES STAFF WRITER Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said Friday he will retry part of a 19-year-old case against an Armenian man convicted of assassinating a Turkish consul general to block any possibility of parole. Cooley's action was prompted by a federal appeals court decision last year that makes the killer, who was sentenced to life in prison, eligible for parole. Cooley said 38-year-old Harry Sassounian must now defend himself against charges that the Turkish nationality of Consul General Kemal Arikan motivated him to kill the official in 1982 out of revenge for a massacre of Armenians by Turks in the early 1900s. A jury's finding that Arikan's nationality motivated Sassounian was the sole reason, known as a "special circumstance," that jurors used to recommend life imprisonment without parole. Absent that special-circumstance finding, Sassounian would now be eligible for parole. The appeals court ruling last year nullified that special circumstance because of juror misconduct. Sassounian may seek parole unless prosecutors can persuade another jury to make the same finding. Saying he was sympathetic with Armenians' anger over Turkish "genocide," Cooley said that doesn't justify retaliatory terrorism. "Terrorism by members of one nationality or ethnic group against members of another cannot prevail in a free society," he said. Cooley's action, announced Friday in Superior Court, sparked charges by defense attorney Mark Geragos that an "outraged" Armenian community believes Cooley is "exploiting the public's rightful hysteria and concern over terrorism." He complained that prosecutors did not decide to retry the penalty part of the case until after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast. "The idea of using an Armenian's case to facilitate a [district attorney's] political act is unconscionable," Geragos said. "I don't think that there's any way in this milieu that anybody can get a fair trial based upon the accusations," Geragos said, "and specifically the fact that they're going to go forward on the fact that this was a killing done on the basis of national origin." Sandi Gibbons, Cooley's spokeswoman, rejected the allegation, saying the district attorney's only motivation is to prevent Sassounian from becoming eligible for parole. "We believe Mr. Sassounian should spend the rest of his life in prison," Gibbons said. "That's the only issue here." Deputy Dist. Atty. Gregory Dohi, the prosecutor in charge of the retrial, said investigating a 19-year-old case and finding the witnesses was difficult and time-consuming. Coming at a time when the U.S. military is mobilizing to combat terrorism, the case dredges up decades of history surrounding an assassination campaign against Turkish officials in retaliation for the massacre of more than 1 million Armenians from 1915 to 1918 in their historic homeland of eastern Turkey. Since 1975, Armenian terrorists have assassinated a number of Turkish diplomats. Prosecutors argued that Sassounian, then 19, assassinated Arikan as part of that campaign. He was convicted of shooting the consul general at a traffic signal as he drove to work in Westwood in 1982. Arikan's Turkish origin was just one of two special circumstances that prosecutors used in trying to persuade the jury to recommend the death penalty. They also said the killing was an ambush, known in legal jargon as "lying in wait." In finding him guilty of murder, the jury rejected the ambush allegation but accepted the national origin motivation as a special circumstance. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, overturned the special-circumstance finding because it said several jurors inappropriately considered evidence they overheard during a private sidebar conference between the judge and the opposing lawyer. Dohi said the new trial will focus only on both special circumstances because it is not necessary to win a murder conviction again.
AFP 26 Oct 2001 Girls killed as US bomb strikes village, Red Cross stores razed KABUL, Oct 26 (AFP) - Two girls were killed when a US bomb landed on a village on the outskirts of Kabul early Friday, adding to the growing number of civilian casualties in the US campaign against the Taliban regime. US bombs also destroyed two Red Cross warehouses in the Afghan capital, wiping out stocks of food and cooking oil intended for widows and disabled people, Red Cross officials told AFP. The death of the girls came during intense overnight US raids on the capital a day after the United Nations confirmed that nine people had been killed when a US cluster bomb landed near a village in western Afghanistan on Monday. Officials at a Kabul hospital told AFP a man also died when a bomb hit a communications centre in the east of the city on Friday. The sisters, aged six and 11, were in their mud-brick family home in the village of Wazir Abad, three kilometres (miles) west of the airport on the northeastern edge of the city, when it and two other houses were flattened by a bomb. Neighbours pulled their parents from the debris but both girls were already dead, a woman who lived in the house next door told an AFP reporter who visited the village. The woman, a widow who did not want to be identified but gave her son's name as Abdul Samad, said she had been woken by the noise of a first bomb landing somewhere between the village and the airport, which has been repeatedly attacked by US warplanes. Shortly afterwards a second bomb crashed into the street, partially destroying her own house. "I had to force the door open to get out and then I heard shouting and screaming from next door," she said. "They managed to get the mother and father out but both the girls were dead." Other residents, who gathered to help survivors recover their possessions from the rubble, confirmed her account of the incident. The widow, who had earned her living by baking bread for the neighbourhood, said she planned to recover what she could and stay with relatives in the nearby Khair Khana district, which has also been struck by a number of US bombs. "With one hand they are dropping food and with the other they are dropping bombs -- are we supposed to be happy about that," said Mohammad Ismael, one of the villagers. The girls' deaths bring to 27 the number of civilian casualties which AFP has been able to confirm in the Kabul area since US airstrikes began on October 7. The Taliban claims the real toll is far higher and that more than 1,000 civilians have died nationwide. A ban on international reporters entering Afghanistan and restrictions on the movement of aid workers have made such claims impossible to verify. The US dismisses the Taliban figures as propaganda. There is however credible evidence that scores, possibly hundreds, of civilians have died. Refugees arriving in Pakistan have depicted the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar in particular as a bombed-out ghost town. It was home to 200,000 people before the current crisis erupted. There has also been intense bombing of the western city of Herat and Jalalabad near the eastern border with Pakistan. The UN has said there is evidence that up to one million Afghans have fled their homes as a result of the bombing, doubling the number of displaced people inside a country ravaged by 20 years of war and the worst drought in living memory. The Wasir Akbar Khan hospital meanwhile told AFP a civilian, Shafi Ahmad, 30, died there after being rushed from a communications training centre in eastern Kabul that was bombed during the night. A Taliban spokesman said a cruise missile hit the centre and insisted it had no military role. Friday's attack was the second against International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warehouses in Kabul since the airstrikes began. An ICRC warehouse in the same area was hit in an accidental bombing on October 16. The Pentagon later confirmed that incident and said Taliban military vehicles had been seen in the area. The UN has reported Taliban troops are moving into residential neighbourhoods to make it harder for US warplanes to strike them, increasing the risk of accidents. A UN-backed demining agency's office here was destroyed in a missile attack in the first days of the airstrikes, killing four civilian guards.
ICRC 26 October 2001 Press Release 01/48 . Bombing and occupation of ICRC facilities in Afghanistan Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deplores the fact that bombs have once again been dropped on its warehouses in Kabul. A large (3X3 m) red cross on a white background was clearly displayed on the roof of each building in the complex. Initial reports indicate that nobody was hurt in this latest incident. At about 11.30 a.m. local time, ICRC staff saw a large, slow-flying aircraft drop two bombs on the compound from low altitude. This is the same compound in which a building was destroyed in similar circumstances on 16 October. In this latest incident, three of the remaining four buildings caught fire. Two are said to have suffered direct hits. Following the incident on 16 October, the ICRC informed the United States authorities once again of the location of its facilities. The buildings contained the bulk of the food and blankets that the ICRC was in the process of distributing to some 55,000 disabled and other particularly vulnerable persons. The US authorities had also been notified of the distribution and the movement of vehicles and gathering of people at distribution points. The ICRC also deplores the occupation and looting of its offices in Mazar-i-Sharif which were taken over by armed men three days ago. Office equipment, including computers, and vehicles were stolen. ICRC representations both to local authorities and to the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan have had no effect. The ICRC reiterates that attacking or occupying facilities marked with the red cross emblem constitutes a violation of international humanitarian law.
Amnesty International 26 Oct 2001 Afghanistan: Accountability for civilian deaths Amnesty International is calling on the US military to strengthen measures to ensure that civilians are not killed as a result of their military action, to investigate thoroughly reports of such incidents and make public their findings. The organization is also calling for a moratorium on the use of cluster bombs. "Every civilian victim of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan adds to years of killings, repression, displacement and hunger. The human cost of the conflict continues to mount and increasing reports of civilian casualties allegedly arising from US-led military action are a cause for grave concern," Amnesty International said today. "US officials have admitted that a number of civilian targets have been hit as a result of error, however the lack of public information on such attacks is disturbing." It is not possible to independently verify reported civilian deaths because of the limited access to Afghanistan for impartial observers. Reports from UN officials, humanitarian NGOs and refugees fleeing to Pakistan raise enough concern to call for an immediate and full investigation into what may have been violations of international humanitarian law such as direct attacks on civilian objects or indiscriminate attacks. Amnesty International has already asked the US authorites to investigate a number of attacks, including the air attack on 12 October on the village of Khorum, where a number of civilians were reportedly killed; and the attack on 16 October on International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warehouses in Kabul, in which one Afghan civilian was injured. Another attack on the same ICRC compound took place this morning. The organization has also expressed concern at an attack on an Afghan radio station mentioned at a Pentagon news briefing on 11 October. On 16 October Secretary of Defence Rumsfeld indicated that radio stations and the television station were hit because they were "propaganda vehicles for the Taliban leadership". However, Amnesty International considers civilian radio and television stations to be civilian objects even when they are "propaganda vehicles". The US-led forces should take sufficient precautions to protect civilians in selecting military objectives and means of attack. They should also desist from an attack if it becomes apparent that the objective is not a military one, or the attack risks being disproportionate to the military objective. Amnesty International is also very concerned about the use of cluster bombs close to civilian areas and is calling for an immediate moratorium on their use, pending an international review of their use due to take place in December 2001 in Geneva at the Second Review Conference of the UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Cluster bombs present a high risk of violating the prohibition of indiscriminate attack, because of the wide area covered by the numerous bomblets released. At least 5% of them do not explode upon impact becoming de facto anti-personnel mines and remaining a continued threat to people, including civilians on the move, who come into contact with them. Just this week the UN Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that cluster bombs were dropped over a village near Herat, in Western Afghanistan. The village was littered with unexploded bomblets, restricting the movement of local people. "If cluster bombs continue to be used, civilians will not only suffer now but for years to come," Amnesty International warned. Amnesty International has also called on the Taleban to take immediate action to prevent and repress serious violations of humanitarian law. Following a public statement on 10 October by al-Qa'ida spokesman Sulayman Abu Ghaith, suggesting that his group has no intention of respecting the principle of distinction between civilians and the military, Amnesty International urged the Taleban to ascertain whether al-Qa'ida or other forces fighting alongside the Taleban have carried out or are planning to carry out direct attacks on civilians, such as the 11 September attacks in the USA. Any such attack would be a grave breach of international humanitarian law.
Al-Ahram Weekly (Ciaro) 25 - 31 October 2001 Issue No.557 One problem begets the next A proposal for the deployment of an "Islamic peace-keeping force" in Afghanistan begs the question of whether such a solution is workable, writes Michael Jansen - During a visit to Ankara last week, British Foreign Minister Jack Straw put forward a proposal for deploying an "Islamic peace-keeping force" in Afghanistan that would be comprised of troops from Muslim countries. "As a member of NATO, Turkey is the obvious candidate to lead an Islamic force," Straw stated. He suggested that Bangladesh and Morocco could contribute contingents. The task of the force would be to prevent Afghanistan from collapsing into the kind of wide-scale revenge killings, raping and looting that emerged in the chaos and tribal warfare which followed the Soviet withdrawal. While this might seem a reasonable suggestion at a time when many Muslims fear the Afghan conflict is dissolving into a clash between Islam and the West, the Straw proposal is a non-starter. For one thing, significant numbers of "Islamic peace-keepers" might enter Afghanistan clean-shaven and go home sporting beards. Once in Afghanistan, they could pose a serious threat to the security and stability of the countries contributing troops to the proposed force. In post-war Afghanistan there will be tens of thousands of Taliban sympathisers who will survive a purge of the top leadership of the movement, as well as cadres of the equally Islamist Northern Alliance. These militant elements would be keen to draw peace-keepers to their cause and encourage them to export the Taliban's tribal Islamist ideology and practices to their armed forces and societies. "The difference between the Taliban and the mujahidin of the Northern Alliance is only one of degree," Mohamed Jalil Shams, a former Afghan deputy foreign minister attending a conference of anti-Taliban activists in Cyprus, told Al- Ahram Weekly. "When the mujahidin came to Kabul, they shut down the theatres and turned the cinemas into mosques. Girls' schools were closed, though boys' schools continued to function [as under the Taliban]. The Northern Alliance are a bit better now because they are watched by the international community. But if they return to power ... " he trailed off ominously. Once they had driven out the Soviet army from Afghanistan, thousands of US- and British-trained, Saudi-financed mujahidin joined Muslim forces to fight in Bosnia, Kosovo or Chechnya. Others raised the standard of Islamist revolt in their home countries, including Egypt. Since the original "foreign" mujahidin departed, wave upon wave of fresh "Afghans" have been recruited abroad, trained at Afghan bases and sent out into the world. Scores of able, educated young men have completed a full course of indoctrination and weapons training before being dispatched as undercover officers in the global army of holy warriors. The Egyptian suspect accused of organising the US attacks, Mohamed Atta, clearly graduated with high honours. Less educated recruits are indoctrinated and given short courses in arms training. They join the covert rank and file. These young men, many of them Saudis, allegedly provided the "muscle" for the 11 September operation. At least three, from the Abha region in the southwest, thought they were going to Chechnya. Muslim soldiers would not have to be trained in the use of weapons but simply be indoctrinated, simplifying the task of clerics out to convert fighters. Thousands of Muslim peace-keepers could provide Afghan "fundamentalists" with, at least, hundreds of "converts" to the cause of spreading the Islamist ideology throughout the Muslim community worldwide -- the "umma." Muslim countries provide fertile ground for proselytising Islamists. Their societies are characterised by huge inequalities between rich and poor, few opportunities for youth, high unemployment, dismal educational and health care systems, rampant corruption and autocracy. There is widespread alienation and despair amongst the working and lower middle classes, from which the other ranks of armies are drawn. For the deprived and alienated, a radical form of Islam can be the "solution." Even the hardline secularism of Turkey's armed forces does not provide an effective shield from Islamist subversion. Soldiers are normally devout conscripts from the peasantry and the urban underclass. Recognising the risks, Turkey's former army chief, Major General Cevik Bir, came out strongly against the proposal for Islamic peace-keepers. The serving army command also opposes the plan, while politicians seem to be prepared to jeopardise the country's security in order to garner political favours and financial rewards from the West. Jordan's King Abdullah, also consulted by Straw, initially reacted positively to the idea but seems to have changed his mind. The former Algerian Foreign Minister, Lakhdar Brahimi, now in charge of the United Nations' political, humanitarian and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, is cool towards the prospect of deploying any peace-keepers -- Muslim or otherwise. "I would like to know which countries are rushing forward to offer troops to mount an operation in Afghanistan," he stated. He could not say whether a force led by Muslims would be more acceptable than non-Muslims to the proud Afghans. These things would have to be examined with care. "The secretary-general must give the [Security] Council what they need to know and not what they want to hear," Brahimi stated. Brahimi is well versed in the dangers posed by an Afghan operation that could end up importing Islamist trends. In 1992 he became a member of the High Security Council that took power in Algeria following an abrupt cancellation of elections which seemed poised to put Islamist parties in the majority in parliament. Brahimi became foreign minister but resigned in 1993 in protest against government policies. Mohamed Jalil Shams, the former Afghan deputy foreign minister, flatly rejected the idea of peace-keepers of any kind. "No foreign force, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, will be accepted by the people of Afghanistan ... The only way to bring peace to Afghanistan is to help Afghans to make their own decisions. Let them solve their problems and get rid of Osama Bin Laden and all kinds of terrorism."
Star (Malaysia) 25 Oct 2001 Hungry Afghans believe US aid packs contain poison By P.K. KATHARASON, and PHILIP GOLINGAI ISLAMABAD: Not many of the tens of thousands of high fibre food rations dropped by the American military have been picked up by hungry people in Afghanistan. Food drops of about 37,500 rations a day of bean salad, peanut butter and jam were said to have been made to help the starving Afghans. However, recent refugees fleeing the ashes of the cruise missiles from Taliban controlled areas in Afghanistan told relief workers they were afraid the food packets contained poison. “We also heard that most of the food packs were dropped only where people lived under the forces of the Northern Alliance. “TV images of the rations remained as images. The rations did not reach the famine-stricken Afghans. People are fleeing and civilians are dying,” said a Japanese relief agency staff. The United States propaganda war has failed to work with the Afghans caught in the missile attacks and bombings which the Taliban regime claims has killed more than 1,000 civilians. The Afghanistan envoy to Pakistan, Abdul Salam Zaeef, who returned here on Friday after a week’s trip to the Taliban headquarters in Kandahar with a fresh plan to end the Afghan crisis, said civilian causalities were getting higher. “It is now clear the American planes are targeting the innocent,’’ he told reporters on Monday, claiming that the coalition United States and British forces were using sophisticated and destructive weapons never used before in a battlefield. Zaeef, who holds regular 2pm press briefings at the embassy here to counter Pentagon’s version of the attacks, said a village in Nangarhar province far from military installations was wiped out and on Monday a hospital in the Afghan city of Herat was bombed. “We are telling (US president George) Bush administration and all those who are siding with them in this genocide that killing of innocent civilians in Afghanistan is as much a terrorist act as that of New York,” said Zaeef to whom about 5,000 journalists were turning to for visas to enter Afghanistan. As the Taliban militants move into a strategy of a long guerilla war from the mountains to counter American helicopter and ground commando attacks, Zaeer added America would never be able to break the will of the Afghan people. However, almost all of the Afghans refugees interviewed at camps were reluctant to talk about Taliban, its supreme commander Mullah Mohammad Omar, America’s enemy Osama bin Laden or his al-Qaeda network and the US attacks. They simply said whatever disaster facing their homeland was politics and ventured no further. For the Afghan people, whose history has been an archive of war, seeking refuge in Pakistan away from the American bombings is the only way out to save their families’ lives and have a meal.
ICRC 24 October 2001 Press Release 01/47 . Afghanistan: ICRC calls on all parties to conflict to respect international humanitarian law Geneva (ICRC) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as promoter and guardian of international humanitarian law, is increasingly concerned about the impact in humanitarian terms of the war in Afghanistan. It reminds all the parties involved – the Taliban, the Northern Alliance, and the US-led coalition – of their obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law. Among the essential principles of international humanitarian law is the requirement that persons not taking part in hostilities must be treated with humanity in all circumstances: they must be spared the effects of the violence, they may not be forcibly displaced and their property must be respected. Threats to their lives, their physical integrity and their dignity are prohibited. Attacks directed at civilians are prohibited, as are indiscriminate attacks. In the course of military operations, all parties are obliged to take every feasible precaution to avoid civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. The warring parties have the duty to ensure that the basic needs of the civilian population in the territory under their control are met as far as possible and to allow the passage of essential relief supplies intended for civilians. They must authorize and facilitate impartial humanitarian relief operations and ensure the safety of medical and humanitarian personnel. They must see to it that the sick and the wounded have access to adequate medical care. The red cross and red crescent emblems must be respected by all parties. All those who are detained must be spared and protected against abuse, whatever the circumstances and regardless of their affiliation. Combatants captured by enemy forces in the international armed conflict between the Taliban and the US-led coalition must be treated in accordance with the Third Geneva Convention. Civilians detained by a party of which they are not nationals must be treated in accordance with the Fourth Geneva Convention. The ICRC must therefore be allowed to visit them. The ICRC is pursuing its work to assist the civilian population and war-wounded in Afghanistan through its own local staff and in cooperation with the Afghan Red Crescent Society. Hospitals and clinics supported by the ICRC continue functioning, as do the organization's limb-fitting centres. Over the past two weeks, ICRC medical convoys have reached Kabul from Peshawar and have replenished stocks in the ICRC-supported hospitals there. In Kandahar, Kabul and Herat, the Afghan Red Crescent ambulance service, which is supported by the ICRC, has been taking the injured to hospital. Meanwhile, the organization's staff are pre-positioning relief supplies in Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. The ICRC is committed to fulfilling its responsibilities in close cooperation with its partners in the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
HRW 23 Oct 2001 Afghanistan: U.S. Pressure Needed to Prevent Abuses in Mazar-i Sharif (New York, October 23, 2001) -- In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Human Rights Watch urged the United States to use its influence with the United Front (Northern Alliance) in Afghanistan to ensure that their forces do not engage in reprisal killings, indiscriminate shelling, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Mazar-i Sharif, the largest city in northern Afghanistan, has an ethnically-mixed population. It has been the site of previous atrocities by Taliban and United Front forces. United Front forces were forced to retreat from their positions near the city's airport late last week, but over the weekend U.S. planes paved the way for a renewed United Front offensive by striking Taliban positions near the city and the opposition-held enclave of Dara-i Suf to its south. "The last thing we need is a renewal of the indiscriminate violence that paved the way for the Taliban in the first place," said Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director of Human Rights Watch. Human Rights Watch cautioned that a violent end to Taliban rule in Mazar-i Sharif could pave the way for retaliation by UF forces against local Pashtun civilians and others perceived to be associated with Taliban rule. After retaking Mazar-i Sharif in August 1998, Taliban forces killed about 2000 mostly ethnic Hazara civilians. The Taliban-installed governor publicly called the Hazaras, who are Shi'a Muslims, "infidels" and threatened them with death if they did not convert to Sunni Islam or leave Afghanistan. Hundreds of Hazara civilians fled the city. Since 1998, the Taliban have also allowed farmers and nomads from communities that are locally aligned with them, particularly Pashtuns, to encroach on land cultivated by minority ethnic groups south of Mazar-i Sharif. Human Rights Watch said these abuses by the Taliban could lead to reprisals as power shifts. The past conduct of United Front forces in this part of Afghanistan is not encouraging. In May 1997, United Front forces under the command of Gen. Abdul Malik Pahlawan killed an estimated 3,000 Taliban prisoners in Mazar-i Sharif, taking some to the desert to be shot and throwing others down wells and blowing them up with grenades. Pahlawan himself is no longer a member of the United Front. However, other commanders who remain with the Front amassed a deplorable record of attacks on civilians between the fall of the Najibullah regime in 1992 and the Taliban's capture of Kabul in 1996.
BBC 19 Oct 2001, Eyewitness: Hazara people's long suffering The Hazara people have a strong sense of community By the BBC's Daniel Lak First they fled fighting against occupation forces from the old Soviet Union. Then they came here to escape a vicious civil war. The coming of the Taleban five years ago saw religious persecution intensify. And now they are running away from hunger, winter and American bombs. The Hazara people of Afghanistan are its most culturally distinct, and most persecuted. Their gentle Mongolian features set them apart from other Afghans; so does their adherence to the Shia sect of Islam. So long as they bomb, only the Taleban get food Khadija Traditionally they live in the central Afghan province of Bamiam, and in southwest Kabul. Now most are in exile, many in Quetta's Hazaratown district. Dr Kasim Waheedi is typical of his people. He is slight in stature, generous and well-educated. He has lived in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and now Pakistan. And he is trying in his own small way to help his people cope with exile - he runs a primary school. "Under the Taleban, life was unbearable for us," he said, reeling off a grim list of places where Hazaras have been massacred by fanatical Taleban commanders ready to use any excuse to kill Shia Muslims. "I came here earlier and watched as the Taleban were founded, so I realized that many, many more Hazara people would come to Quetta . That's why I run this school." Difficult childhoods Thirteen-year-old Hafisa is one of his top students. She greets visitors shyly but with dignity. After an exchange of pleasantries, Dr Waheedi coaxes her to talk about her father, in jail in Kandahar for the past four years. "We haven't seen him since he was arrested and accused of spying for Iran," she says, simply and without emotion. Dr Waheedi looks at her with pride. "She's the head of her household now," he says. He scoffs at any suggestion that Hafisa's father was a spy and explains his arrest as "Taleban persecution". Other children, some of them his own, come and go as Dr Waheedi talks about his students and the prospects for their lives. "I doubt that they'll ever go back," he said, "unless the Americans really do bring a proper government with all the Afghans represented. The Hazara's deserve a major role in that, and I wonder if we'll get it?" A refugee says food aid is not getting through Outside the school, in the dusty streets of Hazaratown, women hurry along between the market and their homes. Many are newly-arrived refugees. The powerful sense of community here, and among the Hazara people in general, means people are more willing to help new refugees settle in. Twenty-year-old Mafila is using the kitchen of a neighbour of Dr Waheedi. She is stirring onions and garlic and talking about life in Kandahar - the city she fled last week. "There's no food in the shops and no water because American bombs knocked off the electricity supply to the pumps," she said. "We simply couldn't stay. We were so afraid when the bombs came every night." She does not know of any civilian casualties but has heard rumours that ordinary people died in the bombing. Her own children stayed inside her house. Like so many Afghan women, she is a widow. Her husband died of "a fever", she said. "our hospitals aren't very good." Prayer The distinctly Shia call to prayer sounds as Mafila is speaking, summoning the faithful to a nearby mosque, or Imambargha, as the places of worship are known in this branch of Islam. The sound is more plaintive, and occasional Persian words are heard amongst the Arabic of the Holy Koran. I have seen no food, I have seen only hungry children Khadija After prayers, five women file into the open courtyard of the building and resume spinning wool into yarn - a job that earns a dollar a day. Khadija is 45, named after the first wife of the Holy Prophet Mohammed. That Khadija was a successful businesswoman whose camel caravans traded up and down the Arab world of 1300 years ago. Her modern namesake is destitute, an escapee from Kabul with an 80-year-old husband and four children to feed on a pittance. When I tell her that some British political leaders have suggested that enough food is getting into Afghanistan - despite the bombardment - she gets angry and shouts at me. "I have seen no food, I have seen only hungry children," she said. "Someone died of hunger in this mosque last week. Where is this food? Where is this relief? "So long as they bomb, only the Taleban get food. We Hazara people always suffer. Always. When will that ever change?"
ICRC 16 Oct 2001 ICRC warehouses bombed in Kabul Geneva - Shortly after 1.00 p.m. local time today, two bombs were dropped on an ICRC compound in Kabul, wounding one of the organization's employees who was guarding the facility. He was taken to hospital and the latest reports from ICRC staff in the Afghan capital indicate that he is in stable condition. The compound is located two kilometres from the city's airport. Like all other ICRC facilities in the country, it is clearly distinguishable from the air by the large red cross painted against a white background on the roof of each building. One of the five buildings in the compound suffered a direct hit. It contained blankets, tarpaulins and plastic sheeting and is reported to be completely destroyed. A second building, containing food supplies, caught fire and was partially destroyed before the fire was brought under control. The ICRC strongly regrets this incident, especially as one of its staff was wounded. It has approached the United States authorities for information on the exact circumstances. International humanitarian law obliges the parties to conflict to respect the red cross and red crescent emblems and to take all the precautions needed to avoid harming civilians.
Chicago Tribune 12 Oct 2001 Taliban massacres outlined for UN By Edward A. Gargan, Special to the Tribune. Edward A. Gargan is a staff writer for Newsday, a Tribune newspaper ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Fighters and commanders of Afghanistan's Taliban militia committed systematic massacres in recent years while trying to consolidate control over northern and western Afghanistan, according to confidential UN documents made available to Newsday. The reports, written by United Nations personnel in Afghanistan, say such mass killings were ordered or approved by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. UN officials who investigated the killings of at least 178 people in January in the Yakaolang district of north-central Afghanistan said they had found witnesses to radio conversations between Omar and Taliban troops who conducted the massacres. At Yakaolang, as in other such massacres, the Taliban, ethnic Pashtuns of the Sunni sect of Islam, particularly targeted ethnic Hazaras, who belong to the Shiite sect. "These are the same type of war crimes as were committed in Bosnia" and should be prosecuted in international courts, said a UN official. UN staffers said they made the reports available out of frustration that top levels of the UN structure have done too little to have the atrocities designated war crimes. When the first accounts of the Yakaolang killings trickled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban vigorously denied them. But in April, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan noted to the Security Council that accounts of the killings "warrant a more thorough investigation." UN staffers in Afghanistan collected witness accounts of the massacres, visited mass graves of the victims and, in July, wrote a detailed 55-page report that they said was sent to Annan's office and to that of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson. Spokesmen for Annan and Robinson said Thursday that the UN investigation has been stymied by the Taliban. UN staffers have collected accounts of each massacre, including names of many of those who conducted them and those killed. They note the roles played by Pakistanis and fighters with Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization. Based on details from hundreds of people who survived or who witnessed the massacres, as well as forensic work on grave sites, the report was written to provide the basis for a prosecution of Taliban leaders for crimes against humanity. In 1998, when the Taliban captured the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif, they massacred hundreds of residents, "often shooting Hazaras in the street," according to Human Rights Watch. That massacre was seen as reprisal for a 1997 massacre by Hazaras of an estimated 2,000 surrendered Taliban fighters. Other massacres reportedly took place in the villages of Bedmushkin and in Nayak. On Jan. 6 in Nayak, the report said, Taliban fighters in eight pickups entered the village. Over the next five hours, "the Taliban search party rounded up all of the males they could find." Taliban fighters eventually "shot them in firing squads." C
Toronto Star Oct. 7, 2001. 02:00 AM Printer friendly version Mail this story to a friend Unholy alliance - West's new allies include vitriolic anti-Americans, human-rights violators, former allies of Osama bin Laden and more ... Thomas Walkom STAFF REPORTER THE WEST'S new Afghan friends in the war against terrorism and the Taliban are a curious lot. They include Islamic fundamentalists, vitriolic anti-Americans, human-rights violators, one-time allies of Osama bin Laden and soldiers of the former communist regime. Officially, they are known as the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan. Unofficially, they call themselves the Northern Alliance. The terror attacks on the United States have given them a boost in their five-year-old war against the Taliban, the hard-line Islamic regime that rules almost all of Afghanistan. Already, U.S officials are hinting they'll provide weapons to the alliance's estimated 15,000 troops, on top of the non-military aid Washington has been giving since 1998. Western journalists, too, have rediscovered the alliance and are busy reporting on what some are already calling Afghanistan's new freedom fighters. But the history of the key players in the Northern Alliance suggests they may prove difficult allies in the U.S.-led war against terror. An uneasy coalition, bound as much by mutual hatred as by dislike of the ruling Taliban, their relations with one another over the past decade have been marked by treachery, backstabbing and a level of deviousness so profound that the word Byzantine cannot do it justice. "They may not be perfect," acknowledges Mike Vickers, a former officer with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and now director of strategic studies for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgeting Assessments. "But the Northern Alliance does have some good elements." At times, those good elements are hard to find. Senior members of the alliance, including former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani and northern warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum, a key ally of the Soviet Union during that country's attempt to occupy Afghanistan, have been cited by the U.S. for human-rights abuses. Deputy-premier Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the alliance's number two political figure, is a hard-line, vehemently anti-American Islamic fundamentalist who is so strict on the subject of separation of the sexes that, according to one Associated Press report, he won't even speak to women. Yet another figure in the alliance, eastern warlord Haji Abdul Qadir, was Osama bin Laden's first sponsor in Afghanistan when the Saudi millionaire — already wanted at the time by the U.S. for his alleged involvement in anti-American terrorist attacks — fled to that country in 1996. At different times, both Rabbani and Dostum have found themselves in informal alliances with the Taliban and occasionally against each other. At other times, the various factions have cheerfully massacred one another. In 1993, according to the non-governmental organization, Human Rights Watch, Rabbani's Society of Islam killed 70 to 100 members of the Hazara minority linked to the rival Party of Islamic Unity, another member of the Northern Alliance. Two years later, according to the U.S. State Department, Rabbani forces — under the command of Ahmed Shah Massood (celebrated by Western journalists as the "Lion of the Panjshir" until his untimely assassination last month) — went on another anti-Hazara rampage "systematically looting whole streets and raping women." As for the shifting loyalties of the Northern Alliance members, these are so numerous as to make the head ache. In 1994, Rabbani's Society of Islam was informally allied to the Taliban in an effort to defeat the rival Party of Islam of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Islamic fundamentalist who, during the decade-long war against the Soviet Union, had been sponsored by the CIA. A year later, Rabbani and Hekmatyar allied with each other to fight the Taliban. And now Hekmatyar, in exile in Iran, is opposed to both Rabbani and the Taliban. Dostum's career is even more complicated. From 1979 to 1992, he was allied with the communist government in Kabul. As that government was about to fall, Dostum switched loyalties to join the anti-communist mujahideen "freedom fighters." When the various mujahideen factions had a falling out, he first allied himself with Rabbani to fight Hekmatyar. Later, he joined Hekmatyar to fight Rabbani. By 1995, he was supporting the Taliban against both Hekmatyar and Rabbani. By 1996, he was allied with his two former enemies against the Taliban. Up to now, the U.S. and other Western countries have kept a respectable distance from the Northern Alliance. The United Nations recognizes Rabbani's Islamic State of Afghanistan as the legitimate government of the country. But except for India, Iran, Russia and a few Central Asian states, almost no one else does. Neither Canada nor the U.S. has recognized any government in Afghanistan since 1979. Then, there is the drug question. Until last year, about three-quarters of the world's heroin came from Afghanistan. Both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance used profits from opium production and drug smuggling to finance their war against each another. Last July, in a move to win acceptance from the U.S., the Taliban banned opium production in the 95 per cent of Afghanistan it controls. While the U.S. was initially skeptical, it finally acknowledged this year that the Taliban proscription was working. Much to the embarrassment of those who would support Rabbani's forces, however, the Northern Alliance merrily continues in the heroin trade. According to the U.S. State Department, virtually the entire Afghan opium crop this year — about 77 tonnes — was grown in territories controlled by the alliance. Russian media report that the heroin manufactured from that opium is smuggled to Europe and America through neighbouring states such as Tajikistan. To the outsider, the convoluted interrelations of the Northern Alliance might seem pure pathology. But those who know Afghanistan say the alliance's history — and indeed the history of the Taliban — can be understood only in light of the country's tribal, ethnic and social divisions. Afghanistan is a melange of peoples. The largest group, the Pashtun, who inhabit the southern parts of the country near Pakistan, are thought to comprise anywhere from 40 to 60 per cent of the population. Tajiks, who tend to live in the northeast, form the next largest group. Smaller minorities include the Hazara of the west (roughly 15 to 20 per cent) and the Uzbeks of the northwest. Unlike most Afghanis (who are Sunni Muslims), the Hazara tend to be Shi'ite, with links to Iran. Traditionally, the Hazara have also faced more discrimination than the other groups. For more than 100 years, a Pashtun clan, the Muhammadzai, dominated the country and provided the kings, including the current exiled monarch, Mohammed Zahir Shah. The Muhammadzai also provided the governing elite, which made efforts, often bitterly opposed by religious conservatives, to make Afghanistan more closely resemble the West. (In 1926, one king who tried to follow Turkey's lead by requiring women to give up the burqa, or head-to-toe veil, was forced to flee the country). "The government in Afghanistan was like a club for the Muhammadzais," noted Barnett Rubin, an expert on the region and head of New York University's Center on International Co-operation, in an interview with the U.S.-based Asia Society this year. "This is why so many other newly educated elites who were not Muhammadzais resented them and became Islamists or radical nationalists or communists or Maoists." Meanwhile, in the countryside, local tribal leaders and, to a lesser extent, local religious leaders remained powerful. Tensions finally came to a head in 1973. The king was deposed by his cousin, Mohammed Daoud, who proclaimed a republic and began — with the help of the U.S. and the Soviet Union — to accelerate the pace of reform. Daoud's move met instant opposition. Islamists — including Rabbani, Hekmatyar and Massood — fled to Pakistan to plot against the regime. Pakistani authorities, alarmed by Daoud's support for carving out an independent Pashtun state in their country, eagerly welcomed the Islamist dissidents. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, other anti-Daoud forces, including many in the military, coalesced around what was, in effect, the Communist party. In 1978, the more radical wing of the communists seized power in a military coup. Their ambitious social and land reform plans, as well as their murderous repression of political enemies, sent the country spiralling into chaos. A year later, the Soviets invaded and installed in power the more moderate, pro-Moscow wing of the Communist party. That only worsened the crisis. It also brought the U.S. into the fray as chief sponsor of the anti-Soviet mujahideen. Whatever peace had existed among the country's competing groups evaporated during the bitter 10-year war. Nominally, the mujahideen were all friends. In fact, there was constant friction. Rabbani and Massood were Tajiks. Hekmatyar and his forces were Pashtun. Hazaras gravitated towards the Shi'ite Party of Islamic Unity, now controlled by Karim Khalili. In the northwest, the country's Uzbek minority under Dostum made peace with the Soviets and war on the mujahideen. Not only were the Uzbeks different ethnically, they also were less militantly Islamic. (Dostum himself drove an armoured Cadillac and vowed he would never bow to those who banned whiskey). The Soviets withdrew in 1989 and the communist government fell in 1992. It was at this point that the pent-up ethnic, regional and religious tensions spilled into view. At one level, the complex series of alliances and betrayals among the mujahideen factions, the Taliban and Dostum's Uzbeks that characterize the past nine years boiled down to simple turf protection. Each faction had its own base. The point was to oppose anyone who threatened it. For each faction, today's ally could always be tomorrow's enemy. Vickers, the former CIA agent, acknowledges the difficulty of backing a Northern Alliance that isn't really an alliance. But, he says, the U.S. doesn't have much choice. "The Taliban is the central objective here. Air power won't deal with them. We will need ground forces. "The question is: Whose ground forces? That's why the opposition looks attractive .... "They may not be perfect. But the question is: Is it better to use them or to use Western ground troops?" Ultimately, however, Vickers and other analysts say the problem the U.S. faces is political. To Afghanistan's biggest ethnic group, the Pashtun, the Northern Alliance is a melange of old tribal enemies. "It's not that they (the alliance) are horrible," says Vickers." You don't have to demonize them to see that (without a Pashtun component) it won't work." Presumably, this is what the deposed king is supposed to offer: Mohammed Zahir Shah is Pashtun. But the 86-year-old ex-monarch has been away from the action for 28 years and, as Vickers points out, the king's Muhammadzai clan was "not great to the minorities." Still, there appears to be no other anti-Taliban Pashtun leader on the scene who is even remotely credible. Would Afghanistan be better off with the Taliban replaced by the alliance? Vickers, expressing the common wisdom, says it couldn't be worse. But others point out that the position of women, for instance, is not expected to improve greatly under a Northern Alliance government. They note that Sayyaf, in particular, tried to introduce his rigorous brand of Islamic law to the parts of Afghanistan he and Rabbani controlled well before the Taliban became a force. In 1992, for instance, when Rabbani, Sayyaf, Massood and other mujahideen finally captured the country's cosmopolitan capital, Kabul, one of their first acts was to ban the use of female newsreaders on television. Two years later, and still before the Taliban took Kabul, the United Nations reported that women in the capital were being told to quit their jobs and wear the full-length burqa. Women who didn't comply were liable to be raped by members of the various mujahideen militias that prowled the city. Ironically, Afghan women did better — in Western terms — under the communist government that the West so vehemently opposed. Still, as far as the war against terrorism goes, the welfare of Afghanistan is seen as secondary. The point is to get bin Laden. "I don't want more civil war," says Vickers. "But I suppose even chaos is better than what we have."
The Age 24 OCT 2001 Frail Kalejs excused from appeal hearing By TOBY HEMMING Lawyers for accused war criminal Konrads Kalejs yesterday began a Federal Court appeal against a decision to extradite the frail and bed-ridden 88-year-old to Latvia on genocide and war crimes charges. But Mr Kalejs, who was brought to court by ambulance, was quickly excused from attending the expected three-day hearing, with Judge Susan Kenny saying he should be taken to "a more comfortable and appropriate place". According to his lawyers, Mr Kalejs, who lives at a suburban Melbourne nursing home, has dementia and cancer, is legally blind and partly deaf. He appeared in court yesterday on a trolley, lying motionless with his eyes closed during his 10-minute appearance. Mr Kalejs' lawyers are seeking to have quashed a Victorian magistrate's decision that he is "eligible for surrender" to Latvia where he faces charges over alleged actions during World War II. During a six-day hearing before Magistrate Lisa Hannan in May, lawyers for the Latvian Government said that while Mr Kalejs was commander of a guard unit at the Salaspils police and labor camp outside Riga, up to six prisoners were shot while trying to escape. Latvia claimed Mr Kalejs instructed camp guards to shoot escaping prisoners and was aware of the inhumane conditions inside the camp, including overcrowding, malnutrition, the application of corporal and collective punishment and the use of attack dogs to maintain "unbearable inner order". It was alleged he "embraced Nazism" and "facilitated" the inhumane treatment of inmates at Salaspils. Mr Kalejs has denied the allegations. Yesterday his lawyers appealed against Ms Hannan's decision on legal grounds. Lawyer Brian Walters said documents produced by Latvia in support of its request to have Mr Kalejs extradited from Australia had not been "duly authenticated", as required under the Commonwealth Extradition Act. Mr Kalejs' lawyers also argued that a 1924 extradition treaty with Latvia was still in force. Under it Latvia should have supplied evidence of Mr Kalejs' alleged crimes to establish at least a prima facie case against him. They also said that a statement of Mr Kalejs' alleged conduct, tendered to the Magistrates Court by lawyers for Latvia, did not support Ms Hannan's conclusion that Mr Kalejs committed an "extradition offence". The hearing continues today.
Reuters 7 Oct 2001 Children Overboard as Australia Repels Boat People By Michael Byrnes SYDNEY (Reuters) - An Australian frigate repulsed a boat of around 200 asylum seekers who in their desperation on Sunday threw several children into the sea and jumped in after them. The group of mainly Iraqis is the latest in a stream of predominantly Muslim boat people whose fate has turned illegal immigration into a major issue ahead of Australia's November 10 general election. Navy officers from the frigate HMAS Adelaide boarded the boat after it entered Australian waters some 120 nautical miles off Christmas Island, a remote Australian outpost south of the main Indonesian island of Java. In their apparent desperation to seek asylum in Australia, some of the boat people at one point threw several children overboard and jumped after them into the water, according to a spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock. They were rescued by HMAS Adelaide, which, after a tense stand-off, later escorted the boat out of Australian waters. A spokesman for Defense Minister Peter Reith said the intended next destination of the boat people was not known but they were steaming slowly north, possibly headed for Indonesia. Christmas Island is around 240 miles south of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, and 1380 miles northwest of the nearest main Australian city of Perth. NO FLAG It is believed the vessel left for Australia from east Java, Ruddock's spokeswoman said. It was not flying a flag when intercepted by the Adelaide but was believed to have taken down an Indonesian flag as it was approached by the navy vessel. Lieutenant Ditya Sudarsono, spokesman for the Indonesian Navy's Eastern Fleet, said they had not received any information in the past week about boat people heading for Australia. "But if there were any and Australia turns them away and forces them to cross Indonesia's borders, we will arrest them and hand these boat people over to the immigration office which will eventually deport them," he told Reuters -- an outcome that the Australian government also seemed to be expecting. "I don't have high expectations that Indonesia will want to receive back other people's nationals," Ruddock told ABC radio. The interception of the boat came on the second day of campaigning for Australia's federal election. Prime Minister John Howard called the election last Friday after his tough line against a rising tide of mostly Middle Eastern and Afghan boat people sent his popularity at home soaring despite fierce criticism abroad. Howard told a news conference that naval officials were directed to treat the latest asylum seekers in a "humane fashion" but the government would not be intimidated by their behavior. POPULAR MOVE Howard's conservative government was badly trailing opposition Labor until August when the prime minister ordered troops to board a Norwegian freighter, the Tampa, to stop 433 boat people from coming ashore onto Australia soil. A similarly hard stance since then against several other boats carrying about 1,000 illegal immigrants has won back conservative voters in droves, giving the government a lead over Labor in opinion polls of eight percentage points. The navy is currently shipping 262 mostly Iraqi boat people to the tiny Pacific island of Nauru for their asylum claims to be processed under a costly deal between Australia and cash-strapped Nauru to take illegal immigrants off Canberra's hands. About 500 asylum seekers have already been sent to Nauru, where the reluctance of some to disembark further inflamed anti-immigrant sentiment in Australia. More than 9,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in Australia in the past two years, a trickle by international standards, but a jump on just a few hundred five years ago.
BBC 19 October, 2001 Analysis: Fears of Bangladeshi Hindus Preparations for the Durga Puja By the BBC's Kamal Ahmed The Bangladeshi Government says it has taken all necessary steps to ensure the safety and security of the country's Hindu minority during next week's religious festival, the Durga Puja. The assurances come amid reports of widespread violence against Hindus following the 1 October election in which the four-party alliance led by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia came into power. The Durga Puja is the biggest annual religious festival of Bengali-speaking Hindus. Many Hindu leaders in Bangladesh have said that there will be no celebrations this year during the festival. Instead they will hold protest rallies throughout the country saying they were harassed and prevented them from casting votes during the election. About ten per cent of Bangladesh's 130 million population are Hindus. Christians and Buddhists constitute less than two per cent of the population. Discrimination illegal Although Bangladesh was founded as a secular republic in 1971, a new provision was added in the country's constitution by the former military ruler General Ershad in the 1980s in which Islam has been declared as state religion. Sheikh Hasina's Awami League claims the support of the minorities However, this new provision did not affect the status of the minorities and the constitution does not allow any discrimination against anyone irrespective of their religion, cast or creed. But allegations of discrimination against the minorities are not something unheard of in Bangladesh. At least in two occasions, one in 1990 and the other in 1992, riots broke out in different parts of the country following reports of attacks on Muslims in India and the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya in northern India. Huge damages to the properties and businesses belonging to Hindus were reported during those disturbances, but no human life was lost. Allegations of intimidation of Hindu voters and revenge attacks following elections were also reported during the last two general elections in 1991 and 1996. But this year reports of such attacks were more widespread. Support questioned Hindus are generally perceived as supporters of the Awami League of former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. New Prime Minister Zia has promised protection for the minorities Awami League leaders say there had been wider expectations of larger support from the minority community following legal reforms which allowed them to get back some of their properties confiscated during the war of independence in 1971. Those properties were classified as 'enemy property'. Many observers say that it is the Awami League which makes the minorities more vulnerable to revenge attacks by making claims of having wholesale support of the minorities. Ministers of the newly elected government say that these reports of widespread attacks are exaggerated and a propaganda ploy of their opponents to tarnish the image of the new government. Some newspapers say that in many cases attacks on minorities have been carried out by criminals with no political links. And in some cases they say supporters of the losing party, the Awami League, have been implicated in the attacks. A recent report on international human rights by the US State Department noted that in Bangladesh both opposition and ruling parties routinely use actual or threatened violence to achieve political ends. Among the religious minorities, the worst victims of violence are known as Ahmadyias, a sect of Muslims whom many mainstream Muslims consider heretical. At least six members of Ahamadiya community were killed last year in an explosion at a mosque during prayer.
Daily Star 13 Oct 2001 BNP-Jamaat creating reign of terror, says Hasina Staff Correspondent Awami League chief Sheikh Hasina visited injured party activist Kamrul Islam at Pangu Hospital yesterday. Kamrul, an activist of Gafargaon upazila Awami League, was injured in an attack by terrorists after the Oct 1 election. Awami League President Sheikh Hasina has denounced 'politics of killing' and called for an end to this. While visiting a number of party activists with their limbs cut off and now in a city hospital, the immediate past prime minister said, " I hate such torture on people just for satisfying the lust for power." Hasina went to the Orthopaedic Hospital yesterday and saw the party workers crying in pain in their beds. She held 'BNP-Jamaat terrorists' responsible for creating a 'reign of terror' across the country on the recent polling day and also before and after that. "They (BNP-Jamaat) have come to power through killing, torture and terrorism. I have no word to describe such brutality," the AL president told newsmen at the hospital. She alleged that for creating an atmosphere for rigging the polls, BNP-Jamaat had resorted to torture and killings to eliminate dedicated AL workers. Hasina was at the hospital for about an hour from 11:30 in the morning. She saw the victims of violence including Qamruzzaman of Gafargaon, Abdul Based Khan Bachchu of Demra, Tamim of Sylhet, Haris Mia of Comilla, Ishaq and Shamsul Alam of Pabna, Habibur Rahman Jitu and Jahangir of Chandpur, Borhanuddin of Shailkupa, Arif of Tangail, Prafulla Kumar Debnath of Noakhali and Shanti of Tongi. She inquired about their treatment and tried to console members of the victims' families. Terrorists cut off all the fingers of Qamruzzaman because, he said, he had voted for AL in the October 1 election. Borhanuddin lost both his legs while hands and legs of Tanim were damaged by terrorists because he caught four fake voters. Sheikh Hasina said the post-polls situation has become unbearable and hoped, "people would build up resistance against such repression." She alleged that members of the minority community in the country have no security and they are being rendered homeless.
BBC 10 October, 2001 Bangladesh Hindus seek protection Awami League protest - minorities tended to support them The BBC's Waliur Rahman reports from Dhaka Leaders of the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh have met the country's president and asked him to ensure the safety of the country's minorities. Hindus are worried the Durga festival may be put off The meeting followed reports in the Bangladesh media of an increase in attacks on Hindus since the victory of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led coalition in last week's general elections. The European Union has also raised concerns over the reports. The minorities are widely considered to be supporters of the rival Awami League party which was defeated in the polls. Festival concerns The Hindu leaders said they feared they might not be able to celebrate the forthcoming Hindu festival of Durga Puja beginning later this month. President Shahabuddin Ahmed said the government would take necessary action to ensure the safety of the minorities. Earlier, similar concerns were raised by the European Union envoy to Dhaka, Antonio de Souza Menezes, who said he has received complaints of violence against the minorities. Mr Menezes said many non-governmental organisations have contacted his office and expressed concern at the level of violence against the minorities. He said he has discussed the issue with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, whose leader Khaleda Zia, was sworn-in as the country's new prime minister on Wednesday.
BBC 3 Oct 2001, Bangladesh's Islamic revival There are concerns about anti-Western feeling By Alastair Lawson in Dhaka Bangladesh has been and remains a moderate Islamic country in which secular Bengali culture is celebrated as much as the Muslim faith. Election results BNP 186 seats Awami League 61 seats Jammat-e-Islami 16 seats Jatiya Party 14 seats Independents 3 seats Minor parties 3 seats Repolling in 16 seats Voting delayed in one seat On those grounds alone the success of the Jammat-e Islami in winning 16 seats in the election has come as something of a surprise. That is especially the case when the party's policies and history are examined. During the Bangladesh war of independence, the Jammat-e Islami leader, Motiur Rahman Nizami, sided with Pakistan. He is accused by political opponents of leading a group at that time called Al Badr, which allegedly executed and tortured those fighting against Islamabad. In Bangladesh, those who fought against the Pakistani army are called freedom fighters and are almost universally revered. Liability This alone, say Mr Nizami's critics, should be grounds enough to make him an electoral liability rather than an asset. The success of Islamic parties surprised observers They argue that his staunchly conservative definition of Islam - including restrictions on the rights of women and minorities plus his determination to turn the country into an Islamic republic - is out of place in a liberal democracy. But if that argument were completely true, the Jammat-e-Islami would not have won so many seats. The fact is that many in the electorate were not even alive during the war of independence. Many others backed the party because of its rejection of Western values and its tough line on corruption and law and order, which they believed to be spiralling out of control. The other, far smaller, Islamic party under Khaleda Zia's umbrella is the Islami Oika Jote party. It has an even harsher interpretation of Islam than the Jammat-e Islami and believes in the strict enforcement of Sharia law. US concern The emergence of the two radical Islamic groups has made officials in the American embassy twitchy. Bangladesh recently allowed the US to have use of its airspace as part of the military build-up against Afghanistan. The Jammat-e-Islami have publicly questioned Washington's motives, saying that they want more evidence against Osama Bin Laden before military action goes ahead. While there is no suggestion that Bangladesh may re-consider its airspace decision, anti-American sentiment was plainly visible during the election campaign. In some places, pictures of Osama bin Laden competed for wall space alongside photos of the parliamentary candidates. But despite these concerns, it looks as if the influence of the two Islamic parties will not be significant. The sheer scale of the BNP's victory means that Mrs Zia is in a powerful enough position to take decisions without requiring the support of her controversial allies. And although the Jammat-e Islami may have firm views about the role of women and the presence of Wimpy burger bars in Dhaka's city centre, it does not indulge in the same level of hostile anti-Western rhetoric as its counterparts in Pakistan.
Burma ( See Myanmar)
AFP 18 Oct 2001 Crumbling reminder of Pol Pot's Killing Fields soon to be laid to rest The museum's director, Sopheara Cheay, poses with the skull map. Phnom Penh: The famous "skull map" of Cambodia, a crumbling reminder of the Khmer Rouge genocide on display at the Tuol Sleng museum for 20 years, is to be replaced by a satellite map. Built in 1979, the display of about 300 skulls and bones fashioned into the shape of Cambodia is decaying fast and poses a health hazard to the museum's many visitors, the museum's director, Sopheara Cheay, said. It will be replaced with a satellite map showing the 343 burial sites, 19,440 mass graves, 167 prisons and 77 memorials that dot the country. The map has been researched by the Independent Documentation Centre of Cambodia, which is also painstakingly assembling the evidence to be used at the trial of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders. "We want to change the image of Cambodia, which outsiders see as the country of the Killing Fields," said the centre's director, Youk Chhang, referring to the execution grounds where many of an estimated 1.7million people were slaughtered. Not every part of Cambodia was a killing field," he said. "Cambodia has the beauty of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, as well as mountains, streams, archeological relics and temples." Mr Youk Chhang said the new map would serve three main purposes: "To reduce the propaganda that presents a bad image of Cambodia, to show the beauty of the country and to show the responsibility of our effort." Mr Sopheara Cheay said the skull map had served as an effective reminder of the barbarity of the Khmer Rouge but it was time for the grisly remains to be treated with insecticide and housed in a glass coffin. King Norodom Sihanouk, who lost several children to the Khmer Rouge, has repeatedly asked for greater respect to be shown to the remains of the regime's victims, who are housed in memorials, placed in piles, or left in the ground at the killing fields, where they work their way up to the surface and crunch under visitors' feet. A US-based group called the Committee Supporting the King of Cambodia and the opposition Sam Rainsy Party has also asked that the bones be cremated in accordance with Buddhist beliefs. But the Government said the remains could serve as evidence for the United Nations-sponsored tribunal due next year.
Asia Times (Inter Press Service) 17 Oct 2001 atimes.com Southeast Asia Khmer Rouge destruction still extracts deadly toll By Rosario Liquicia PHNOM PENH - Vuth Vireak, 23, does not sound like he's bragging when he talks about his many girlfriends, with whom, he says quite casually, he has intimate relations. Elsewhere, 14-year-old school boys have been known to buy sex in brothels. This casual attitude towards sex is what is worrying policy-makers and health experts involved in the campaign to address the HIV/AIDS problem in Cambodia, where it is believed that 10,000-20,000 men buy sex each day. This Southeast Asian country, with a population of 11 million, is the worst affected by the epidemic in Asia. Its prevalence rate of 2.8 percent among its 15- 49-year-old population in 2000 is the highest in the Asia-Pacific, statistics show. The rate, however, has seen a decline from 3.9 percent in 1997, authorities say, partly because of the vigorous promotion of condom use. Vireak has no qualms about having many sexual partners because he says he practices safe sex. "I've got condoms everywhere: in my car, in my pocket," says the dentistry student. Research shows that young people are becoming more sexually active. Indeed, government planners regard sexual behavior among youth as an important factor in the fight against the epidemic: either it declines through effective intervention, or grows as a result of neglect. "Values of sexual responsibility and fidelity would have an impact on the future course of the epidemic," says a situation and response analysis report on HIV/AIDs put together by the National AIDS Authority (NAA). "However, this optimism must be tempered with the fact that irresponsible sexual practice among this group is likely to accelerate the epidemic." Young people make up a large proportion of the Cambodian population, with 54.8 percent of the population under 20 years of age, according to government statistics. Given the few opportunities available for personal and social development, experts say, this age group finds itself participating in risk behavior. Thus, they are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS. Statistics show that people below 24 years old make up nearly half of new infections. As in many other countries, the commodification of sex in Cambodia and the erosion of traditional values among its population are hobbling efforts to fully and forcefully address the problem of HIV/AIDS. NAA secretary-general Dr Tia Phalla said among the government's tools is a drive to promote a return to the old value system of honesty and family bonding, which the country's civil war had destroyed. The atrocities and terror campaign carried out by the genocidal Pol Pot government from the mid to late 1970s, experts say, broke the social and moral fabric of the country, weakening family bonds and distorting values. "In this post-conflict country, sex is very, very cheap: one dollar, two dollars average. We keep promoting faithfulness but still it doesn't work very well," Phalla said in an interview. Religion, which was banned during the Khmer Rouge regime, is only beginning to again take root. Meanwhile, the onslaught of "pop" culture and the proliferation of pornographic materials have influenced sexual behavior, altering attitudes towards sexual responsibility and fidelity, Phalla said. Pierre Legros, regional coordinator of AFESIP, a non-government organization that helps victims of sex trafficking, agrees with the view that people's sexual behavior has roots in the repression and suppression of the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s. "It is a societal evolution, from the very strict Khmer Rouge regime - where society and the government decide who will be your husband or wife - to anarchy. To me this is a problem," he said. Adds Phalla: "This delayed sex, you know, waiting for the proper time, this is criticized as 'old style'. The 'new style', [which is] up-to-date and fashionable for young people, is pop culture. They have more and more partners." The opening of Cambodia to the outside world and the phenomenon of globalization has brought changes in young people's attitude towards relationships and sex. With the infusion of foreign capital into this poor farming economy came materialism, which again influenced the society's value system, say experts. People who have power, money, multiple partners - they seem to be the role models. That is why 50-60 percent of men bought sex last year because people believe that that is the model of a strong man, they add. The flip side of this, on the other hand, is the perpetuation of the discriminatory treatment of girls and women. As the sex industry continues to flourish, more and more young girls are either being lured or sold to brothels. While it is true that many girls are trafficked into sex slavery, it is also a fact that women end up in brothels or sell sex elsewhere because it means extra cash. "What puts them in such vulnerability? Because they believe materialism is good," points out Phalla. "Because right now the message in society, in the media, is negative, that of promoting sex. But this thing we can change, if we start to see HIV/AIDS as a development issue." Many believe, though, that change is not forthcoming, given the magnitude of the problem. "One cannot change this attitude in one generation, but one has to start," says Roman Catholic priest Father Jim Noonan, whose organization in Phnom Penh runs a hospice for AIDS patients. "It's a delicate balance because the attitude is so blatant. The way women are regarded, the way women are treated, the way they are cheated, this needs to be changed."
AFP 29 Oct 2001 14 dead in north China village massacre BEIJING: Fourteen people in a north Chinese village died when a gang of three went on a killing spree with hunting rifles, explosives and axes, state media said on Sunday. The massacre took place on Saturday in Dayukou village in Shanxi province, about 30 km from the provincial capital of Taiyuan, Xinhua news agency's web service said. In the middle of the night, 46-year-old Hu Wenhai, his brother Hu Qinghai, 44, and Liu Haiwang, 40, rampaged through the village killing a total of 14, including two officials. Three more villagers were also severely injured in the course of the massacre, which was carried out almost single-handedly by Hu Wenhai helped by his two accomplices, according to the news service. Hu Wenhai fled to Taiyuan but was arrested by the police later on Saturday, joining his younger brother who had already been arrested, the news service said. The third suspect, Liu, was still at large, according to Xinhua.
Reuters 6 Oct 2001 Muslims Fear Backlash in China's Restive Northwest By Jeremy Page BEIJING (Reuters) - In a Russian restaurant in Beijing, a young Chinese Muslim woman gaped in horror as the television over the bar flashed CNN's live pictures of the World Trade Center crumbling to the ground. She brought her hand to her mouth and gasped. Later, recounting the rush of emotions that gripped her in those seconds, she said her first thought had been for the thousands of trapped office workers. Then another chilling notion occurred to the ethnic Uighur woman from China's far northwestern region of Xinjiang. ``They will blame Muslims for this. They will think we are all terrorists,'' said the woman, who declined to be identified. ''I worry for my friends and my family in Xinjiang.'' Judging by China's response to U.S. calls for a global war on terrorism, her fears may be justified. Beijing has backed the American-led war on terror but Chinese analysts say it wants support for a campaign against what it sees as its greatest militant threat -- Uighurs fighting for an independent homeland in Xinjiang. Uighur militants have been blamed for sporadic attacks in China, including bus bombs in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi, that killed nine people in 1997. Western and Chinese analysts say some Uighurs have been trained in camps in Afghanistan linked to Osama bin Laden -- Washington's chief suspect for the attacks on the United States. But Uighur leaders overseas and security experts say those links are minimal and there is little sympathy in Xinjiang for bin Laden, the Taliban or other Islamist groups. ``I don't think there's a strong ideological appeal in the Taliban and the Islamic shariah law for Uighurs in general,'' said Dru Gladney, an expert on Chinese Muslims and professor of Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii. ``Very few of them would be attracted to radical Islam unless they were pushed in that direction by extreme government policies or ethnic tensions.'' UIGHURS AGAINST BEIJING China's roughly eight million Uighurs are mainly Sunni Muslims, like the Taliban, but many are Sufi, a tolerant form of Islamic mysticism which the Taliban opposes, experts say. Uighur aggression is directed primarily at Beijing and driven by a desire for greater cultural, religious and economic freedom rather than the establishment of an Islamic state spanning Central Asia, they say. And despite their faith, many Uighurs see the United States as a champion of their human rights and religious freedom. U.S. attacks on Afghanistan alone would not unleash a ''jihad'' -- holy struggle -- in Xinjiang, but a simultaneous crackdown on Chinese Muslims in the name of counter-terrorism could provoke a backlash, they said. ``There's a kind of transnational Islamic front in China that will be galvanized when Muslims feel they're being persecuted,'' said Gladney. He cited two recent examples: Chinese Muslim support for Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War and multiethnic Muslim protests in 1989 over publication of a Chinese book called ``Sexual Customs'' which compared Muslim architecture to sexual organs. ``My concern is that if there's a backlash against Muslims in China it could help unite them all,'' he said. ``This has happened time and time again in Chinese history.'' The Turkic-speaking Uighurs are China's second largest Muslim minority after the nine million-strong Hui, who are spread out over China, speak Chinese and have ethnic Chinese ancestry. The vast majority of Uighurs live in Xinjiang and activists are fighting for an independent state of East Turkestan in the area they have inhabited for more than 1,250 years. Incorporated as a province of China in 1884, the region enjoyed a brief period of virtual independence from 1938, during which it sought aid from the Soviet Union. China regained control of the region after the Communists came to power in 1949. Beijing has since settled millions of ethnic Han Chinese in the resource-rich region and fought a prolonged low-intensity campaign against Uighur independence activists. SNUFFING OUT SEPARATISM Many in Beijing see a global war on terrorism as the perfect chance to snuff out Uighur separatism for good. ``This is a very good opportunity to intensify the fight against separatists in Xinjiang,'' said Zhu Feng, director of the International Security Program at Peking University. ``China is also a victim of terrorism.'' ``There is a connection between Xinjiang separatists and terrorists in Afghanistan. Some separatists got training in Afghanistan and then were dispatched into China.'' Security experts say such links may well exist. ``It is quite possible there would have been meetings between some of bin Laden's followers and militants in the Uighur movement,'' said Paul Wilkinson, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at St. Andrews University in Scotland. ``I suspect it's very small scale and the links so far are modest, but I don't doubt the bin Laden network would be interested in making those connections,'' he said. But they say China has already stifled the separatist movement through cooperation with Central Asian neighbors, zero-tolerance policing and relatively fast economic development in the region. ``The religious and ethnic threat within Xinjiang is limited and has at present very little likelihood of disrupting China's hold on the region,'' said Robert Karniol, Asia-Pacific editor of Jane's Defense Weekly. ``What China is reacting to is trying to contain a potentially much greater problem while it's still at a containable stage.'' NO ORGANIZATION Unlike the bin Laden's al Qaeda network, the Uighur movement lacks organization, leadership and unity -- some want greater autonomy, some full independence. A disparate and poorly funded group of Uighurs in Canada, Australia, the United States and northern Europe run a loose network of Web sites providing information about Xinjiang. Perhaps the closest they have to a natural leader is Erkin Alptekin, whose father was the late Uighur leader Isa Yusuf Alptekin -- often compared to Tibet's Dalai Lama. Alptekin, who lives in Germany and describes himself as a lobbyist rather than a leader, says he has little control over Uighurs in Xinjiang. ``The Tibetans are lucky because they have the Dalai Lama to pacify his people,'' he said. ``We have difficulties pacifying our countrymen.'' He espouses nonviolence and adamantly denies any links between Uighurs and the Taliban or bin Laden. But he says ethnic discrimination and economic disparities between the Uighurs and the Han have made Xinjiang a fertile recruiting ground for extremists. ``They are hopeless, they are desperate and they are frustrated,'' he said. ``If you are hopeless, you have nothing to lose.'' ``Young Uighurs say to me: 'In the coming decades, we will disappear from the historical scene. Do you want to see us just die like cowards sleeping in our beds?'.''
The Guardian 28 Sept2001 Troops charged over Timor 'extermination' John Aglionby in Jakarta United Nations prosecutors in East Timor yesterday filed indictments against two Indonesian soldiers and nine pro-Jakarta militiamen for the "extermination" of villagers at the time of the August 1999 referendum, when the territory voted for independence. The indictments accuse the suspects of extermination - or "planned mass murder" - inhumane acts, persecution, imprisonment and the deportation of people between April and October 1999. The alleged crimes were committed in Oecussi, the mainly mountainous East Timor enclave on the north coast of Indonesian West Timor, about 25 miles west of the main border. Only one of the accused, militiaman Florenço Tacaqui, is in detention in the capital, Dili. All the others are thought to be in Indonesia and are unlikely to face justice soon, as Jakarta has so far shown no inclination to extradite indicted war criminals, particularly members of its armed forces. The UN's general prosecutor in the territory, Mohamed Othman, said the most serious indictment referred to a "horrific" series of events that began on September 7 1999. "The Sakunar [scorpion] militia met at the district Indonesian military command and they decided to attack three villages in Pasabe sub-district which were predominantly pro-independence," he alleged. Witnesses claim that this group of about 70 militiamen and soldiers was led by the Sakunar supreme commander, Simao Lopez, and his deputy, Laurentino "Moko" Soares. "They went to the villages of Nibin, Tumin and Kiobiselo, where they killed 18 people and rounded up the villagers and took about 400 to 500 over the border into West Timor," Mr Othman said. There the prisoners were registered and segregated. "The young men, aged 16 to 30, who had some education, were tied up in pairs and marched back into East Timor," the prosecutor said. "At 3am on September 10, they killed 47 out of 55 of them with guns, swords and machetes." UN investigators are convinced that it was a planned execution. "We have about 10 survivors," Mr Othman said. "They all give very similar accounts." Other witnesses told investigators that immediately after the executions the militia went back to Pasabe. "They forced about 100 people to come with shovels on the pretext that they were going to repair roads," Mr Othman said. "But they forced them to bury the corpses and made them take an oath of secrecy." None of the remains have been identified, so UN officials took blood samples from women who lost sons and sent them to a laboratory in Canada to do DNA matching with the bones. The results are expected in a couple of months. Mr Othman said more of the alleged perpetrators had not been indicted for the exterminations because the witnesses could not make positive identifications. Other incidents detailed in the indictments include the imprisonment of 43 people at the police station in Passabe sub-district between April 18-24 1999 and inhumane acts committed against an individual on August 9 1999. Extradition from Indonesia is expected to be complicated by the fact that the incidents in Oecussi are not covered by Indonesia's ad hoc human rights law, which only authorises investigations into five incidents in 1999. Even if they were, no one is expecting swift or complete justice in the Indonesian courts. The ad hoc trials have been delayed countless times - they are currently postponed until December - and none of the most senior suspects is among those indicted. Mr Othman said his special crimes unit would next focus on a massacre in Liquica in April 1999, when it is alleged that Indonesian soldiers, police and militiamen killed dozens of people in a church. "We expect to have indictments ready on this in a couple of weeks," he said. The UN has been governing East Timor since the 1999 ballot while overseeing a transition to full independence, which is expected in the middle of next year
Economic Times (India) 28 Oct 2001 7 killed, 50 hurt as police fire on pro-bin Laden rally MUMBAI ON SATURDAY the army was deployed in the powerloom township of Malegaon in Nasik district following the toll in Friday clashes which rose to seven, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal said here on Saturday. The armed forces conducted a flag march in the troubled area, according to Bhujbal, who also holds the Home portfolio. He told reporters that the government's first priority was to restore law and order there. "The reasons behind the riots and who are all responsible for the clashes will be identified later but our first priority is to maintain peace in the area," Bhujbal said. Minister for State for Home Manikrao Thakre - who had rushed to the spot along with senior police officers - is supervising the law and order arrangements. The trouble in Malegaon started when the State Reserve Police Force personnel, deployed there, snatched away handbills being distributed by the people of a particular community. The handbills asked people to boycott American goods to protest strikes on Afghanistan. The crowd then indulged in heavy stone-pelting, set several shops afire in the locality and also beat up an SRP jawan and set their van afire. Having failed to bring the situation under control after a lathicharge, police opened fire at Sangmeshwar and Agra Road localities, in which three persons were killed at once and around 50 persons, including some police personnel, were injured in stone pelting, police said. Four among those killed - including a woman - have so far been identified. Meanwhile, reacting to the news about the firing, an agitated crowd set fire to four shops on Friday night in Ravalgaon in Malegaon taluka. The curfew in Malegaon is still in force. The police described the situation as under control though "tense". (PTI)
AP 28 Oct 2001 BEHAWALPUR, Pakistan - Gunmen with ``bags of guns and bullets'' stormed into a Christian church in Pakistan during Sunday services and sprayed the congregation with gunfire, killing the minister and 15 others, police and survivors said. The attack - the bloodiest in memory against the country's small Christian community - took place during a Protestant service held at St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church in the center of Behawalpur, a city in Pakistan's southern Punjab province. It was unclear whether the attack was related to recent unrest over U.S.-led airstrikes on Afghanistan. During the church shooting, survivors said worshippers tried to flee or hide under pews to escape an indiscriminate hail of automatic weapons fire that left the gray stone building pocked with bullet holes. ``Some of them lay down. Some begged for mercy. They didn't listen,'' said Ali Shah, a man in his early 20s who was in the front pew when the four masked gunmen burst in. He was one of five people being treated for bullet wounds at the city hospital Sunday afternoon. The Rev. Rocus Patras, parish priest at St. Dominic's, said that at the time of the shooting, a Protestant congregation that lacks its own building was worshipping at the Catholic church as it has for 30 years. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but intelligence officials said members of a banned Islamic group were under suspicion. U.S. attacks on neighboring Afghanistan have enraged many Pakistani Muslims. ``Whenever something happens with America, they attack Christian churches,'' Patras said. Authorities in Pakistan's four provinces ordered increased security at Christian churches. In Islamabad, where police commandos with automatic weapons guarded church gates Sunday afternoon, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf condemned the loss of ''16 innocent and precious lives.'' ``The method used and the inhuman tactics employed clearly indicate involvement of trained terrorists of organizations bent on creating discord and disharmony in Pakistan,'' Musharraf said in a written statement. Dr. Umar Farooq, an emergency-room physician at the Civil Hospital in Behawalpur, said four of the dead were children under 12, four were women and eight were men. Police said one of the dead was Father Emmanuel, the minister conducting the morning services. They did not know his last name. Patras, the Catholic priest, was in his rectory preparing for his own service two hours later when he heard gunfire and went outside. ``I took these children, these little children, and ran. We jumped over the wall. It was like bombs were going off,'' he said. ``After that, I went back to the church and saw crying and blood and people dying.'' He added: ``They had whole bags of weapons and bullets.'' Behawalpur Police Chief Haris Ikram said one of the dead was a Muslim police officer named Mohammad Salim, who witnesses said was guarding the church gate when he was shot. Police said at least 100 people were in the church when the attackers arrived on motorcycles. They opened fire for nearly five minutes and fled as quickly as they came. Shamoon Masih, 34, who was shot in the leg and the arm, said most of those who died belonged to two families. He said the gunmen didn't select particular victims but merely fired into clusters of people. ``They had no mercy for the children. They had no mercy for the women. They could see that small children were being hit by bullets, but they kept firing,'' said Masih, who carried several children out of the church after the attack before passing out from his wounds. Dr. Altaf Malik, medical superintendent at the hospital, said that after the shootings, distraught family members angered that loved ones could not be saved screamed at doctors and destroyed some medical equipment. ``We remained calm,'' the doctor said. ``We knew they were grieving.'' In the Vatican, Pope John Paul II called the killings an ``evil act'' and a ``tragic act of intolerance'' and offered prayers to the victims' families. The pope ``has learned with the deepest sadness about the terrible violence,'' read a condolence telegram sent by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. It said the pontiff ``expresses his prayerful closeness to all affected by this evil act.'' There have been religious tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the area, but this was the first such attack on Christians in recent memory, authorities said. Also Sunday, a bomb ripped through a passenger bus in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing at least three people and wounding 25 others, police said. The bomb, which was apparently placed under a seat, exploded as the bus moved through a market area in a subdivision where military personnel live. Police said several of the wounded were soldiers, but they gave no further details. In recent months, scores of people have been killed and injured in a series of bomb explosions in Pakistan. There were also several rocket-propelled grenade attacks on the military installations in Quetta.
Reuters 27 Oct 2001 Curfew in Indian town after violence MUMBAI, Oct 26: Three people were killed when police opened fire with live ammunition to control a rampaging mob after Friday prayers in Maharashtra, authorities said. A curfew was in place on Friday night after violence erupted near a mosque in Malegaon, a town 250kms from Mumbai. A police spokesman said a group distributing pamphlets after Friday prayers turned violent when a police officer tore one of the papers. "The mob then went on a rampage and burnt three shops. Police opened fire to control the mob (and) three people were killed," the official said. He said he did not know what the pamphlets contained and could not confirm whether the incident was related to protests against the US-led strikes in Afghanistan.
AP 17 Oct 2001 Grenades Kills 14 in Kashmir SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Authorities suspended an annual Hindu pilgrimage in the Himalayas after Islamic militants attacked devotees with hand grenades, killing 14 people in the troubled province of Jammu-Kashmir on Saturday, police said. Seven pilgrims, two police officers guarding the route, four porters and one militant, dressed as a Hindu priest in saffron-colored robes, were killed, said an officer at the police control room, speaking on condition of anonymity. Fifteen others were wounded when the two hand grenades exploded simultaneously as pilgrims trudged up to the Amarnath shrine located at an elevation of 13,500 feet, said K.B. Jandiyal, the spokesman for Jammu-Kashmir state. The attack took place 12 miles from the cave that houses an icy stalagmite worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu God Shiva. Pilgrims take buses or cars for most of the way and hike the final stretch to the cave. The journey takes several days. Children and elderly pilgrims use ponies and wooden palanquins for the last lap. The government immediately halted the pilgrimage and police stopped nearly 15,000 pilgrims at the base camp at Pahalgam, a resort town 60 miles south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state. It was not immediately clear if the pilgrims would be allowed to resume their journey later. Police blamed the attack on Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a Pakistan-based militant group fighting for Kashmir's independence from India. No group has claimed responsibility. India and Pakistan have competing claims over Kashmir, and the two South Asian nuclear rivals have fought two wars over it. New Delhi accuses Islamabad of arming and training separatist guerrillas. Islamic Pakistan says it only provides moral and diplomatic backing to the independence struggle of Kashmiri Muslims who want to end predominantly Hindu India's control on the region. The attack came five days after a summit between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. After the talks broke down without an agreement, several guerrilla groups, including the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, threatened to step up attacks in Kashmir. Expecting violence this year, authorities had deployed nearly 15,000 security personnel along the 200-mile route from Jammu to the Amarnath cave. Last year, Kashmiri rebels massacred 31 pilgrims. More than 100,000 Hindus have already performed the pilgrimage since the cave was opened early this month. Another 50,000 pilgrims were expected to visit the cave by Aug. 4, when the pilgrimage ends. More than 60,000 people in Kashmir have been killed since the insurgency erupted in 1989.
IRNA 16 Oct 2001 Muslims must use Mab'ath to manifest teachings of Islam: daily Tehran, Oct 16, IRNA -- `Tehran Times' on Tuesday urged world Muslims, which celebrated the auspicious occasion of the anniversary of Mab'ath, the day of the divine appointment of the great messenger of Islam Mohammad PBUH) to the prophethood, to manifest the teachings of this glorious religion in their daily activities, in particular the "beauty, purity, serenity and righteous morality" taught by the great prophet of Islam. The English-language daily, in its opinion column, also commented on President Khatami's address to a gathering of Islamic scholars and Qoranic reciters on Monday. In his address, the president asked his audience to show their proper reverence for the great religion of Islam "by adhering fully to its message of peace and brotherhood through their daily activities in the material and spiritual fields." It noted that the events of September 11, the identification of Osama bin Laden as the prime perpetrator and the Taliban as his main mentors and supporters, are being used as a "pretext" by the Western world especially the U.S., to bombard the already war-torn Afghan nation and its long-suffering people. This clearly indicates that "an all-out assault is directed towards the religion of Islam and its Muslim people worldwide," warned the daily. This turbulent and volatile situation makes it absolutely essential for all Islamic nations, "through establishment of appropriate political and social systems and through utilization of developed economic and social programs to materialize the manifestations of Islamic values compared to other religions and schools of thought as taught by its great prophet," advised the daily. It castigated the U.S. adminstration and its allies for trying their best to project to the world community, the image of the Taliban as an example of Islamic rule and behavior. But Washington is forgetting that Bin Laden and the Taliban were first created by the American political system to serve their purpose and have no legitimacy within the Islamic world, reminded the article. "Their behavior towards their own people is anathema to the teachings of Islam and has always been strongly condemned by true adherents of the faith throughout the world," it noted. It must be strictly borne in mind that "the importance of the implementation of religious democracy is part and parcel of the tenets of Islamic teaching based on the precept that God created man free and no one has the right to deprive mankind from sovereignty over his fate," stressed the article. Therefore, those who use Islam as a tool for violence and terrorist actions are perverting the teachings of this great religion, warned the paper. However, it added, "Islam cannot be used as an instrument to justify the helplessness and incompetence of Muslims against their enemies by resorting to random terrorist actions," defending the actions of freedom fighters against those who have eyes on interests and resources of their lands and properties, as a "just and defensive action." It lamented that the Afghan nation has become a victim of oppression and violation from two sides of the whole issue. On the one hand, "the Afghan people are facing their despotic rulers, who in the name of Islam, are propagating violence, war, genocide and drugs in the world, on the other hand, they are faced with aggression of foreign powers which are taking revenge of a criminal and terrorist act by massacre of an oppressed and innocent people," bemoaned the paper. This situation is an "example" and "indication" of the degeneration of today's man, it pointed out, quoting Khatami as having said. By resorting to the teachings and messages of Islam, the daily believed that "today's man will be released of such a situation." Moreover, now that Islam has become the focal point of world attention, "it is the duty of every Muslim to manifest the teachings of this great religion through personal acts and actions that will show the world the beauty, purity, serenity and righteous morality of the teachings of the great prophet of Islam," concluded the daily.
[see Europe - regional] IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency - Iran) 7 Oct 2001 Daily condemns violence against Muslims world over Tehran, Oct 7, IRNA -- `Kayhan International' on Sunday strongly denounced the anti-Islamic sentiments expressed by non-Muslims, world over, especially in the West, in the wake of September 11 terrorist assaults in New York and Washington, urging the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to take appropriate measures to not only halt the strong anti-Islam propaganda but also stop all violence against the Muslims. The English-language daily was referring to the recent survey released by the Vienna-based European Monitoring Center on Racism which listed incidents such as arson at an Islamic school in The Netherlands, assaults on Afghan men in Britain and the removal of Muslim women's veils in Belgium. "Belgium, The Netherlands and Sweden, according to the survey are the countries where there has been an increase in verbal and physical attacks agianst Muslims after the September 11 attacks," noted the paper. Regarding Britain, anit-Islamic sentiments prevailing prior to these incidents have however reportedly increased, it added. It is however unfortunate to note that the September 11 incidents are being used as a pretext for escalating the harrassment and humiliation, the Muslims already face in many western countries, bemoaned the paper, warning that Muslims in various parts of the world have been and are being subjected even to annihilation. That was what the Serbs attempted to do with the Muslims in Bosnia, the Russians in Chechnya, the Hindus in Kashmir and now the Zionists in Palestine are continuing with the same vice, denounced the daily. "Within the past one year - Al-Aqsa Intifada - 664 Palestinians have been massacred by the Zionist troops," revealed the daily. Likewise in Kashmir, "since the uprising of the Kashmiri Muslims in 1989, as claimed by the liberty seeking Muslim groups, 80,000 Kashmiri Muslims have been killed by the Indian forces, although India officially acknowledges the figure as 30,000 people," further revealed the paper. What is of grave concern now is that, in the aftermath of the terrorist assautls in America, killings in Kashmir and Palestinea re being carreid out on a larger scale, it bemoaned. The paper castigated India and the Ziojnist entity for exploiting the American tragedy as a "suitable smoke-screen to escalate their annihilation campaign against the defenseless Muslims." In view of the crimes and atrocities agianst these defenseless and innocent people around the world, "the Muslim world should not remain indifferent to the sufferings of their Muslim brethren in any part of the wrold and under any pretext," stressed the paper. It is high time the OIC takes the whole issue into its hand and take appropriate measures to stop the strong anti-Islam propaganda now going on in the West and also end the violence agianst Muslims throughout the world, it concluded.
AFP 6 Oct 2001 UN sanctions claim 26,000 Iraqi lives in July, August: Baghdad BAGHDAD - Some 26,000 Iraqis, mostly young children, died in July and August due to sanctions imposed on Iraq by the United Nations, the Iraqi health ministry said Saturday. According to health ministry statistics published by the official INA agency, "15,454 Iraqis, including 8,216 children under five died in July, and 10,653 more, including 7,467 children under five, died in August." The deaths, were reportedly as a result of "various diseases, including diarrhea, heart and respiratory diseases, and malnutrition." The latest deaths take the number of Iraqis who have died due to the UN embargo -- imposed in 1990 after Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait -- to 1.6 million, according to official Iraqi statistics.
BBC 2 Oct 2001 Iraqi Kurds fear new Islamist group Iraqi Kurds are deeply concerned about the emergence of a new Islamist militant group, Jund al-Islam (Soldiers of Islam). The group is suspected of having links with Osama Bin Laden. The BBC's Hiwa Osman reports. Before its daily newscast on 26 September, KurdSat TV warned the audience that it would show "horrific pictures of victims of a massacre carried out by Jund al-Islam". The unprecedented broadcast showed chilling images of roughly 20 mutilated bodies, some with their throats slit, others completely decapitated. The corpses were loosely laid out on the floor of a gloomy room. A checkpoint near Halabjah "They used swords and machetes. They were speaking Arabic and Persian," said a woman from the village to a KurdSat reporter. This took place during clashes on 23 September between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Jund al-Islam in a village near the city of Halabjah. The victims "were taken by surprise by the militias of Jund al-Islam" said Adel Murad, a member of PUK leadership. 'Soldiers of Islam' Established on 1 September 2001, Jund al-Islam is the result of a merger between a number of splinter groups that broke away, at various times, from the Islamic Unity Movement of Kurdistan (IUMK), an armed group that controlled Halabjah near the Iranian border. Jund al-Islam declared their jihad against the "secular and apostate forces that are waiting for an opportunity to overpower Islam and the Muslims of Kurdistan; and waiting to implement the sinister plans of the Jewish, Christian and all other apostate leaders". The images of the bodies were fabricated. No real Muslim would do such things Ihsan Ali Abdalaziz of the IUMK The two main parties that control the Kurdish region, the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, outlawed the groups that merged into Jund al-Islam after a series of assassinations and acts of sabotage in the main cities over the past two years. The IUMK, which is believed to have backing from Iran, was engaged in armed clashes with the PUK during the 1990s. After Iranian intervention, an agreement was signed in Tehran between the two sides. After their formation, Jund al-Islam seized the villages of Tawela and Biyara near the Iranian border and introduced Taleban-style Islamic rule in the areas under their control. Bin Laden link? PUK leader Dr Barham Salih, who is on his way to Washington, said that the group is funded by al-Qaeda, the organisation led by Osama Bin Laden, and that 34 Kurds in the group are believed to have received training in al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan. Leader of the Islamic Unity Movement Mullah Ali Abdalziz Abu Abdel Rahman, a Syrian who had been in Afghanistan for many years, is said to be Osama Bin Laden's personal representative to the leadership of the group, according to Barham Salih. Jund al-Islam said in their manifesto that they had been preparing themselves, in the past few years, "to carry out the sacred duty of jihad by attending military and religious training camps and stockpiling arms and ammunition". The statement also said that they were busy building strong relations with Muslim campaigners and clergymen abroad by asking them for advice and guidance and making use of their experiences. They used swords and machetes. They were speaking Arabic and Persian Woman from a village that was attacked The PUK released a list of names of Arab Afghans. It described them as leading figures of the group who train their members in assassination, in the use of explosives and other acts of sabotage. Iranian role After the attack 23 September, the PUK seized the the IUMK-controlled town of Halabjah, but did not oust Jund al-Islam from the villages of Tawela and Biyarah. Sources close to the PUK told the BBC that during the clashes Iran provided Jund al-Islam with logistic support. "The PUK can't oust them from the area," said the source. "They would go to Iran if they were attacked and the PUK can't pursue them there." The IUMK's London representative, Ihsan Ali Abdalaziz, said that Iran is currently mediating between their group and the PUK in order for them to return to Halabjah, as is specified under the agreement reached in Tehran. "Jund al-Islam and other groups were originally members of our movement," Abdalaziz said. "The PUK encouraged the various splits and breakaway groups and they are reaping what they sowed." He added: "If the PUK stops interfering in our internal affairs, Jund al-Islam will be easily contained and peace will return to the area." Commenting on the pictures shown on KurdSat TV, Abdalaziz said: "The images of the bodies were fabricated. No real Muslim would do such things". He also ruled out any links between the group and Osama Bin Laden.
Jerusalem Post 25 Oct 2001 Arab MKs blast Beit Rima incursion By Gil Hoffman JERUSALEM (October 25) - Arab MKs slammed the IDF's incursion into Beit Rima in sharply worded speeches in the plenum yesterday, comparing Israel to anthrax and Nazi Germany. Hadash's Issam Mahoul said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "was right when he said that the situation in Czechoslovakia in 1938 is comparable to today, but that he needs to know that he is on the German side of the comparison." Mahoul said that Israel has an "anthrax government" and a government of terrorists. Tawfik Hatib (United Arab List) said that Israel is "cynically using the murder of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi to close old accounts and assist extremist settlers at the expense of regional stability." "Sharon, the murderer of Sabra and Shatila, is sowing death in Palestinian hills and towns," said Azmi Bishara (Balad). "The Israeli public must wake up and stop his actions, which are bringing Israel to chaos and the region to war." Hashem Mahameed (United Arab List) said security cannot be used as an excuse for committing murder. He called upon UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the nations of the world to take any action necessary to secure the well-being of the Palestinians and the withdrawal of Israel from the territories. The United Arab List's Abdul Malik Dehamshe criticized Jewish MKs (excepting Hadash's Tamar Gozansky) for not condemning the incursion, pointing out Arab MKs condemned the terrorist attack at the Dolphinarium disco. Deputy Speaker Rahamim Maloul of Shas, who was chairing the session, issued no warning to the Arab MKs. Opposition leader Yossi Sarid (Meretz) issued a statement calling on Sharon and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer to "stop the bloodbath" in Beit Rima. Sarid said the IDF's actions are unacceptable, even if there are wanted terrorists in the town. Hadash's Mohammed Barakei and Mahoul are calling for an urgent meeting of the Israeli Arab leadership's monitoring committee to decide on action to protest what they described as the "massacre of Palestinians." "The situation is very grave, and we simply cannot ignore what is going on," Barakei said last night. "I am aware of a total of 21 Palestinians killed in the space of 24 hours. If that is not a massacre, I don't know what is." He said he hopes a meeting of the monitoring committee - composed of Arab MKs, council heads, and prominent public figures - can be convened almost immediately. "We will be recommending some form of wide-scale protest action on the part of the Arab community against the policies of the Sharon government and the crimes being committed in its name in the occupied territories," he said.
BBC 25 Oct 2001 Israel discusses West Bank pull-out Hundreds of Israeli soldiers took part in the Beit Rima sweep Top-level consultations have been called in Israel after an army incursion into a Palestinian-ruled village on Wednesday resulted in a bloodbath whose details remain hotly disputed. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's security cabinet is expected to discuss the withdrawal of troops from six Palestinian towns in the West Bank where they have been since an Israeli cabinet minister was killed last week. The Palestinian population which has been facing an intolerable situation of military siege in violation of international humanitarian law French Foreign Ministry In renewed violence on Thursday, Israeli troops killed two more Palestinians in Bethlehem, one a police officer and one a 40-year-old resident of Aida refugee camp. Meanwhile, the Arab League has urged Washington to do more to control the violence in the wake of the Israeli incursions. On a visit to Washington, the Arab League's Secretary-General, Amr Moussa, said "Continuation of this situation will further poison the atmosphere in the region and increase feelings of Arab frustration." In editorials on Thursday, many Arab newspapers argue that America's failure to restrain the Israelis is undermining Arab support for the US-led coalition against terrorism. 'Violations' The latest killings in Bethlehem followed a night of heavy gunfire in the town, where Israeli tanks are positioned not far from the Church of the Nativity which marks the traditional birthplace of Jesus. In Tulkarm, Israeli soldiers advanced from their positions on the outskirts of the town and surrounded the governor's house, firing rifles and machine guns, local Palestinians said. France has accused Israel of violating international humanitarian law in a week of raids that have left dozens of Palestinians dead. "We want to express our deep concern about the Palestinian population which has been facing an intolerable situation of military siege for six days, in violation of international humanitarian law," said Foreign Ministry spokesman François Rivasseau quoted by AFP. US shift Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres - returning from a trip to Washington - said he hoped the troops would pull back within days "as soon as situation calms down and the Palestinians have done what they pledged". Mr Peres said he had succeeded in persuading President George W Bush to tone down US demands for an immediate US withdrawal, asking Israel only to move out "as soon as possible". The destruction in the village took place out of sight of the media Some Palestinians are saying the US shift served as a green light to the Israeli army in carrying out Wednesday's controversial sweep of Beit Rima near Ramallah. Israel says it has now withdrawn its forces from Beit Rima after a raid in which it said it captured Palestinians suspected of killing cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi on 17 October. The exact death toll in Beit Rima - which was declared a closed military area during the operation - is still unclear, but Israel has handed over five bodies to the Palestinians for burial. Disputed accounts The five were Palestinian policemen who had been manning a checkpoint at the entrance to the village which was fired on as a column of 15 Israeli tanks entered the village before dawn. Palestinian medics say they counted nine corpses in total, but villagers said an unknown number of other people, including some with serious injuries were taken away by the Israeli troops. Palestinians have appealed to the United Nations for protection Israeli accounts say the army returned fire when troops were shot at as they entered the village to arrest suspected members of Palestinian militant groups. Palestinian officials called the operation - carried out by several hundred soldiers backed by 15 tanks and attack helicopters - "an ugly massacre". A BBC correspondent in Jerusalem says there is now confusion about the arrests which Israel claimed to have made. Israeli sources had said two of those detained were suspected of direct involvement with the Zeevi killing last week - but now it appears that those suspects were actually arrested some days ago.
B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories 25 Oct 2001 IDF Action in Palestinian Cities, October 2001, Interim Findings B'Tselem Warns of Widespread Harm to Innocent Civilians Due to IDF Actions of the Last Week B'Tselem publishes today an interim report in its investigation into Israel's incursions into Palestinian areas in the West Bank over the past week. The conclusions reveal an unprecedented attack on human rights in the Occupied Territories. B'Tselem warns of the grave humanitarian consequences of recent IDF actions. With every passing day, the harm to civilians increases. A continuation of this course of action will cause more innocent deaths, severe food and water shortages and even greater damage to the health and education systems. B'Tselem urges Israel: Avoid fighting in population centers; Remove the hermetic siege and allow, in all circumstances, free movement of patients, medical crews, medicine and food supplies; Avoid damaging hospitals; Cease demolishing the houses of relatives of suspects; Conduct speedy and efficient investigations of all cases in which innocent civilians were injured and bring criminal charges against those responsible. http://btselem.org/
Al-Ahram Weekly Online 25 - 31 October 2001 Police and the politics Investigations into the killings of 13 Arabs inside Israel is turning up the heat on the country's political leadership. Jonathan Cook reports from Nazareth The spotlight of Israel's judicial investigation into the killings of 13 Palestinian civilians last October, at the start of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, has shifted its focus from the police to the political leadership. The early sign of this shift were that the minister responsible for the security forces at the time, Shlomo Ben-Ami, was distancing himself as much as possible from the actions of his police officers. Five months of police testimony to the Or Commission have brought revelations of execution-style killings by officers and the deployment of a sniper squad, which is usually used against terrorists. Ben-Ami's main adviser, Yossi Melmad, who testified before the commision last week, claimed that Ben-Ami had told the country's police commissioner on several occasions to order his forces in the Galilee to hand over their firearms. Melmad also said Yehuda Wilk had been told to use water cannon rather than live and rubber bullets to disperse protesters. Wilk, he said, had ignored him. In earlier testimony to the commission, several senior police officers, including the then commanding officer in the Galilee -- where the shooting took place -- Alik Ron, claimed that they resorted to live ammunition because they had run out of tear gas and rubber bullets. They also accused the Public Security Ministry of depriving the Galilee force of funds to buy riot control equipment such as water cannon. But Melmad said the force's existing budget was sufficient for such purchases. Ron has made much play of warnings he says he gave before the Intifada to senior politicians, including Ben- Ami, that there were likely to be riots by the Arab population in the region under his command. The question facing the commission is whether Ben-Ami and then Prime Minister Barak were negligent in ignoring Ron's warnings or whether the police commander's brutal tactics contributed to the outbreak of the riots he predicted. Naturally both sides of the equation -- the police and politicians -- appear eager to blame each other. Ron, who appeared before the commission last month, was unable to throw light on many of the events of last October, despite being the commanding officer on the ground. It was a familiar performance -- many of his officers have suffered from a severe bout of amnesia when asked about the moments when Arab deaths or injuries occurred. A group of patrolmen, questioned about the slaying of 17-year-old Asil Asleh in the village of Arrabe, for example, could not explain his death, even though they chased him into an olive grove where he was shot at close range in the back of the head. One officer, Ovadia Hatan, referred to the death as "a mystery." There is little doubt that what has in effect amounted to a police boycott of the inquiry has exasperated Justice Theodor Or. He has criticised several commanders over the testimony and accused one, Chief Superintendent Yaron Meir, who was in charge in the town of Kfar Manda, of "giving untrue answers". But after two days of questioning, Ron did make several revelations. First, he admitted that he brought in the snipers to shoot at demonstrators in the town of Umm Al-Fahm on 2 October. It was the first time snipers had ever been ordered to fire on unarmed citizens inside Israel. Ron, however, said he did not seek, or need, approval from his superior, either from Wilk or from Ben-Ami. Second, he claimed that he did not know that later in the day the team of snipers moved on to Nazareth, where they also shot at protesters. This evidence was particularly surprising given that Ron once commanded the snipers' unit. It also contradicted evidence from the commanding officer in Nazareth, Moshe Waldman, who said Ron gave him the snipers, and testimony given by the head of the snipers' squad. Third, Ron maintained that he knew of only two locations where live ammunition was fired, even though police officials have admitted that there were at least eight such areas. Fourth, he admitted that when the police realised no one was armed at Umm Al-Fahm he changed his orders to include anyone carrying a slingshot as an appropriate target for live ammunition fire. He argued that live ammunition was more accurate than rubber bullets and, therefore, less dangerous when used correctly. However, he admitted that snipers used more lethal bullets, 0.726 milimetre calibre, when 0.22 milimetre ammunition was available. He also agreed that he failed to warn the crowds that police were about to open fire. Fifth, Ron denied the accounts of some of the snipers that he personally ordered them to fire at targets. Instead, he claimed that he gave a general order to shoot at anyone using a slingshot more than once and then to fire only at their legs. He denied that anyone else was shot at, even though the inquiry has a videotape showing a demonstrator holding a stone being struck by a bullet at the time the police were stationed too far away to be hit by stones. Sixth, he said police had not investigated the events, or written up reports, because they were "tired" after the demonstrations. The commission was openly critical of Ron's account, with Justice Or even suggesting to him that he did not report the use of snipers to his superiors because he may have thought it "best to keep quiet about it." That view was supported last week by the evidence of Yehuda Bakhar, head of the police's operations division. He said he could not understand the reason for bringing in a team of snipers, which were normally used in life- threatening situations. Asked by Justice Or whether a slingshot was considered a live weapon, he replied: "No." However, Ron has powerful allies in Ariel Sharon's government who have little sympathy with the Barak era. The Public Security Minister, Uzi Landau, has referred to the commission's appointment as a politically motivated "mistake," a reference to the fact that Barak established the inquiry in the hope of winning back Arab votes in the Israeli elections earlier this year. After his testimony, Ron was supported by Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit, who called him "an honest and courageous police officer." Deputy Interior Minister Gideon Ezra threatened to resign should action be taken against Ron.
AFP 21 Oct 2001 Death toll jumps as night falls on West Bank tank raids BETHLEHEM, West Bank, Oct 21 (AFP) - Four Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in heavy clashes throughout Sunday, the fourth straight day of Israeli military deployments in and around Palestinian controlled cities across the West Bank, following the assassination of an Israeli cabinet member. Two Palestinians were killed in the early evening hours: an 18-year-old Palestinian girl shot dead near Jenin while picking olives with her family in an orchard, and a Palestinian officer killed in fighting in the Bethlehem area. Earlier, there was heavy fighting in the Al Izza refugee camp in Bethlehem, where police major Mahed Hussein al Juju, aged 49, and Mahmud Suleiman Baraka, 32, were killed by Israeli forces. Separately, 17-year-old Ahmed Abu Mendil Palestinian who was critically injured on September 29 during clashes in the central Gaza Strip town of Deir al-Balah, died of his wounds Sunday, Palestinian hospital sources said. The deaths put the toll of a year of the Palestinian uprising at 903, including 703 Palestinians and 178 Israelis. On Sunday night, Israeli television showed footage of the military operations underway in the northern West Bank town of Tulkarem and in Bethlehem. Television aired pictures of the Israeli flag floating on the top of buildings deep inside the autonomous sectors. Meanwhile, mortars landed in the Jewish settlement of Gilo on the outskirts of Jerusalem, as shooting from the neighbouring town of Beit Jala, on the edge of Bethlehem, surged after sunset. No injuries were reported. Members of the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the Gilo assault in the name of their leader Abu Ali Mustapha, who was assassinated by an Israeli helicopter gunship in August. The PFLP also claimed the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi last Wednesday, which sparked the latest explosion of unrest. Sixteen Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli tanks in the northern West Bank town of northern town of Tulkarem, hospital sources said. Of the 16 wounded, three people were injured seriously, including a 12-year-old boy, during the volleys of gunfire in the northern and eastern entrances of the town. In Ramallah, two Palestinian police officers were hurt, one of them seriously. Two soldiers were slightly injured in Sunday's operations across the West Bank, an army spokeswoman said. Four days of fighting have left at least 24 Palestinians dead. The head of the West Bank hospital service, Mussa Abu Khmeid, said 147 Palestinians had been wounded in the sudden surge of violence. He described the past days as the "most difficult time in the uprising," saying 24-hour curfew in areas re-occupied by Israel meant that medical supplies and even doctors were prevented from getting through. He added that the injuries he had treated indicated the Israelis were shooting to kill or cause serious wounds. Eight of the injured were in critical condition, he said. Ambulance drivers said they were receiving requests from Palestinians in areas under Israeli military rule to bring them basic provisions as they could not leave their homes to buy food.
[See article in July 2001 News Monitor] Jerusalem Post 18 Oct 2001Rehavam Ze'evi assassinated By Etgar Lefkovits JERUSALEM (October 18) - Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze'evi was gunned down outside his Jerusalem hotel room yesterday, in the first Arab assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister. The radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed the murder, saying it was in retaliation for Israel's killing of PFLP leader Mustafa Zibri (Abu Ali Mustafa) in his Ramallah office on August 27. Mustafa had been behind a series of terrorist bombings. "[Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon has to know that Palestinian blood is not cheap and that those who target the leaders of the Palestinian people are not safe from being targeted and assassinated themselves," read a PFLP statement sent to news agencies. The Palestinian Authority condemned the murder, but called on Israel to halt its policy of killing terrorists. "We reject all forms of political assassinations," Palestin-ian cabinet minister Yasser Abed Rabbo said. Last night, the PA arrested the PFLP spokesman. Ze'evi, whose resignation as minister to protest an IDF withdrawal from two Hebron neighborhoods was due to have gone into effect yesterday afternoon, was head of National Union-Yisrael Beiteinu. A retired major-general, Ze'evi was shot three times on the eighth floor of the Hyatt Hotel on Mount Scopus, his lodgings while in Jerusalem for parliamentary business. Apparently ambushed by two assailants just after 7 a.m., as he was about to enter his room, Ze'evi was hit in the head and neck.... Minutes before his murder, over breakfast, Ze'evi reportedly told his wife that he noticed a man of Arab appearance staring at him, and for reasons not clear the minister headed to their room alone. Despite increased threats to the lives of cabinet members in recent months, he had no bodyguard, apparently by choice. Ze'evi usually carried a pistol wherever he went. .... Back at the Hyatt, police had cordoned off the hotel in the minutes after the attack, detaining all guests and workers for questioning. The hotel has some 100 Arab employees, and the possibility of them having tipped off the assailants as to Ze'evi's movements was being examined. Ze'evi, who lived in Ramat Hasharon, had often used the prominent hotel when the Knesset was in session and was known to have favored the same room, 816. Security sources said last night that the assassination was clearly well-planned and prepared way in advance, likely by a three-member cell. They noted that the hotel, located near Jerusalem's northern rim, provide the attackers with the option of quick escape to the nearby Arab communities of Issawiya or Shuafat, and from there to Palestinian Authority-ruled Ramallah. ... A sixth-generation Jerusalemite born in 1926, Ze'evi had an illustrious military career, which started as a youth in the pre-state Palmah and later in the IDF . He fought in the 1948, 1956, and 1967 wars, and after graduating from the Command and General Staff College of the US Army, served as a career officer in the IDF, reaching the rank of major-general as head of Central Command. Long considered a member of the old school of Israeli politicians, Ze'evi served as an adviser to Rabin on anti-terror matters and intelligence between 1974-77. Though he was retired from the army, Ze'evi was often consulted through the years for his viewpoint in the war against terrorism. His love for and great knowledge of the land led him to be appointed chairman of the board of Tel Aviv's Eretz Yisrael Museum, a position he held for 18 years. Ze'evi entered politics in 1988, as the head of the far-right Moledet Party, which advocated the transfer of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. He would serve for the next 13 years in the Knesset. Though ultranationalist in his political views, Ze'evi, or Gandhi as he was referred because his youthful thinness reminded people of the pacifist Indian independence leader, was respected by allies and opponents across the political spectrum alike as a skilled, dedicated, and courtly politician, as an officer and a gentleman. Despite his gentlemanly demeanor, which placed him in the old school of Israeli politicians, he was not one to mince words. He called Arafat a "murderer," a "man of blood," and a "wicked liar."
Jerusalem Post 16 Oct 2001 The risks of a Palestinian state By Louis Rene Beres (October 16) - US President George W. Bush has given his blessing to a Palestinian state. Pressed to this destabilizing position by America's new Islamic "partners" in the impending coalition fight against terrorism, the president misses one rather important consequence: This new Arab state, heavy with the hatreds of other enemy states, will inevitably give rise to new and more deadly terrorism. Most ominously of all will be "Palestine's" causal effect upon nuclear warfare in the Middle East. A Palestinian state should not be foolishly supported by the US for immediate and short-term needs. Because the creation of a State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel will heighten the risk of regional nuclear war considerably, this newest enemy state should be viewed with real apprehension. Indeed, it's creation could likely be a final step to bring an Islamic "Final Solution" to the region. Architects of the Oslo Accords suggested all along that a "two-state solution" to the Palestinian problem would substantially reduce the risk of another major war in the Middle East. But as we should have learned by now, especially from recurring Arab violations of the "peace process," the conventional Oslo wisdom was always unwise. For the most part, Iranian and Arab state inclinations to war against Israel have had absolutely nothing to do with the Palestinians. Even if Israel continued to make all unilateral Oslo concessions, and continued to adhere to unreciprocated agreements, these belligerent inclinations would continue, especially from Syria, Iraq and Libya, as well as from Iran and Egypt. When Israel soon faces a new state of Palestine, the Jewish state's vulnerability to armed attack by hostile neighbors will increase markedly. If this diminished safety is accompanied by the spread of unconventional weapons to hostile states, which now seems certain, Israel could find itself confronting not only war, but genocide. Why? Most importantly, the new State of Palestine will preoccupy Israeli military forces to a much greater extent - much, much greater than does the intifada. Even if it were able to resist takeover by one of the other Islamic states in the region, Palestine will surely become a favored launching-point for renewed terrorism against Israel. Various promises notwithstanding, Islamic insurgents would continue to celebrate violence against Israel as the essence of "national liberation." Recognizing an "improved" configuration of forces vis-a-vis Israel, a larger number of Islamic enemy states will calculate that they now confront a smaller, more beleaguered adversary. Further, they will understand that a coordinated effort by certain countries that possess or are in the process of acquiring pertinent ballistic missiles could possibly endanger Israel's very survival. Taken together with the fact that global support for Israel is always fickle, especially in perilous times such as these, and that individual or combined chemical/biological/nuclear warfare capabilities could bring enormous harm to Israel, the creation of Palestine will tip the balance of power in the Middle East decisively. The full strategic implications for Israel of an independent Palestine should now be carefully appraised. If, in the end, such independence becomes the cause of a nuclear war in the region, everyone, Palestinians as well as Jews, will lose. But how, exactly, would a nuclear war begin in the reconfigured Middle East? One possibility would be by Arab or Iranian first strikes against Israel. These strikes could be nuclear (although this would likely be several years away) or non-nuclear. In either scenario, Israel - especially if it feels dangerously close to defeat - might resort to nuclear retaliation. Alternatively, Israel, believing that substantial enemy attack - chemical, biological, conventional, or nuclear - is imminent, could decide to act preemptively. If, as we might expect, this preemption were entirely non-nuclear, it could still fail to prevent the anticipated attack against Israel. Here, Israeli nuclear weapons, having failed in their mission to support conventional preemption by deterring enemy retaliation, might also have to be used for purposes of nuclear war fighting. Israel has much to fear - more perhaps than any other state on the face of the earth. Threatened by a growing number of adversaries with ballistic missiles and with a corollary interest in nuclear warheads, Jerusalem should know that full and codified transformation of Judea/Samaria and Gaza into Palestine will provide its enemies with the means and the incentives to destroy the Jewish state once and for all. Deprived of essential "strategic depth," and beset internally with hostile Arab citizens loyal only to "Palestine," Israel will become seriously vulnerable to total defeat. Anguished by a possible end to the Third Temple Commonwealth, the nation's leaders will begin to think seriously about nuclear weapons as a last resort (the so-called "Samson Option"). It follows that Bush's October 2 endorsement of a Palestinian state should be viewed with the most grave concern. Otherwise, Palestine, looking first very much like Lebanon, will wind up as Armageddon. (The writer is the author of Security or Armageddon: Israel's Nuclear Strategy [Lexington Books].)
Al-Ahram Weekly (Cairo) 4 - 10 October 2001 Issue No.554 Palestinians, in the occupied territories and Israel alike, the uprising is not over yet. Graham Usher writes from Ramallah and Nazareth. Last October Israel's one million Palestinians briefly joined the Intifada of their kin in the West Bank and Gaza. Protests erupted in most of their towns, villages and hamlets in Israel, but especially in the Galilee, where about a quarter of them live. In a visceral, ethnically charged repression, Israeli police crushed the uprising of "their Arabs" in about 10 days: 13 Palestinians were killed, 1,000 injured and 800 imprisoned. It was the worst confrontation between Israel and its Palestinian Arab minority since the Jewish state was established. "The Intifada changed everything," says Ameer Makhoul, a Palestinian community leader in the Galilee. "For the first time in years we saw ourselves as part of the Palestinian people and less as citizens of Israel". The bonds have been tightening and loosening ever since -- notwithstanding a reluctant decision by Israel's then Prime Minister Ehud Barak last November to set up a Commission of Enquiry into the October clashes. In February, 80 percent of the Palestinian electorate boycotted Israel's prime ministerial election, rejecting a political system that had "rejected us," says Makhoul. Last weekend, marches, rallies, ceremonies and a general strike among Israel's Palestinians mourned and remembered "Black October." A handful of Jewish peace groups turned out in solidarity. But it was only a handful. Most Israeli Jews (including of course the government) observed the memorials only in the fear they may again be ignited by the mounting violence in the West Bank and Gaza, across an increasingly molten Green Line: "The Intifada changed everything. The world is upside down" twice. It changed everything for Umm Mohamed Akawi, and for the second time. She was an 18-year old girl in the war that saw Israel born and Palestine lost. On 17 April 1948 she was told by a British army officer to leave her native Tiberias because of the fighting between Arab and Jewish militias. She was taken to Nazareth, then as now, the largest Arab town in Israel. By the time she arrived Tiberias had fallen, she recalls. Aside from visits, she cannot return, "even though it was the town of my father and mother's families," she says. "Fifty-three years a refugee in Nazareth. Only 53 but it feels like a hundred". The second loss happened on 8 October last year. Whipped up in the fear and hatred caused by Israel's "internal" intifada, a Jewish mob descended on Nazareth's eastern neighbourhood, a poor, densely populated Palestinian sprawl. Homes were sacked, shop-fronts smashed and Arabs beaten. The police eventually intervened, mostly on the side of the mob. In the worst night of violence after Nazareth "fell" half a century ago over 100 Palestinians were injured and two killed by live ammunition, almost certainly fired by Israeli police snipers. One of them was Omar Akawi, Umm Mohamed's 42-year old and only son. "When he left our house, it wasn't in his head to go to the eastern neighbourhood. He knew there was trouble there. 'The world is upside down', he said. But he went. I don't know why. Maybe to watch". Omar met with a friend on the outskirts of the eastern neighbourhood. But they were "far away" from the clashes, according to eyewitness testimony given to the Commission of Enquiry. Suddenly a shot rang out. A live bullet hit Omar in the left upper part of the chest. A private car whisked him to hospital. He died 40 minutes later. No autopsy was performed. "The first bullet in Nazareth hit my son," says his mother. "Everybody said this. Their first bullet in Nazareth that night got my son. A martyr is killed for his nationality." Umm Mohamed is 62 years old. Sitting in her home on Nazareth's western slopes, she wears a headscarf, a long gown and a Palestinian scarf around her neck. Her hair is grey, her lips pinched in grief. The anger is in her eyes. Does she expect the Commission of Enquiry to bring her son's killers to justice? "I have only the faintest expectation of that," she answers. "Everybody knows there were four Israeli police marksmen on the hill opposite Omar. The police chief admitted they were there -- two armed with live ammunition, two with rubber bullets. But he told the Commission he 'doesn't know' if they shot my son. How doesn't he know? He was responsible for them. The police killed my son. And why -- because for the first time in 53 years we defended ourselves, not with guns, but stones. We protested." Umm Mohamed protests still. Her home has not only become a shrine to her son but also an archive documenting the events of October. The walls are plastered in Intifada posters, the drawers crammed with newspaper cuttings. Draped over everything there are the black, white, red and green colours of Palestine. Last Friday she led a march 3,000 strong through Nazareth, with the 12 other families from the "Committee of Martyrs," formed last October. "A martyr is killed for his nationality," runs the committee's emblem. "He is you, me and us." But her activism is the consequence of her son's murder, not its replacement. She has left his room almost unchanged and leafs through the pages of one of his books. "I don't know what it's about. You should ask Omar your questions," she says. "How I wish he were here to answer them." Every Friday she visits his grave in a cemetery chiselled into the blue hills above Nazareth. She brushes away the dead leaves, cleans the marble and tends the pile of wreaths that, she says, grows bigger every week. In the near distance you can see Upper Nazareth, a Jewish neighbourhood built on Palestinian land in 1957 and whence, on 8 October, the mob descended. In the far distance, across the haze of the Jezzril valley, there is Tiberias. You can't see it. But it's there. Can she forgive the Israelis? "No," she answers, with her eyes. "They took my home, my homeland and now they have taken my son. No," she says again, with a shake of the head. The rage stares at you. Then looks away. She fondles the scarf in her lap, as though grappling with the point of the question, which is if genuine coexistence is ever to come forgiveness (with justice) is going to be necessary. Looks back at me. The eyes are softer now, almost serene. "No," she says.
Kyodo News International, Inc. 22 Oct 2001 Japan Policy & Politics Japan to join Int'l Criminal Court treaty. TOKYO, Oct. 17 Kyodo The government plans to join a 1998 treaty that eyes establishment of an International Criminal Court to try under international law individuals who have committed war crimes and mass murder, government sources said Wednesday. The government has begun preparations to ratify the treaty and has moved to prepare necessary domestic legislation, the sources said. Work on drafting legislation is ''showing a certain level of progress,'' one of the sources said. The ruling coalition parties decided in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States to aim at coordinating the legislation at the regular Diet session next year. The International Criminal Court treaty was approved in Rome by 120 nations in July 1998 after voices were raised to punish perpetrators of atrocities in regional conflicts in former Yugoslavia and other areas. As of Oct. 12, 43 countries had ratified the treaty while 139 had signed it. The treaty would come into force with ratification by 60 countries. Japan approved adoption of the treaty, but had postponed signing it due to opposition to the proposed court from the U.S., which fears its soldiers could be prosecuted. Coordination of necessary domestic legislation, meanwhile, had been deadlocked. However, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Britain ratified the treaty on Oct. 4 and international support for setting up the court has been gradually increasing. A Japanese Foreign Ministry official said establishment of the court is not related to the terrorist attacks as perpetrators of such attacks would be tried in the country where they occur. However, with Britain seeking trial of perpetrators of terrorist attacks at the International Criminal Court, the dominant opinion in the ruling coalition is that Japan should also make efforts to have the criminal court used to try such cases.
Yomiuri Shimbun 29 Oct 2001 It's still the end of History Francis Fukuyama Special to The Yomiuri Shimbun In the summer of 1989, I argued that we had in effect reached the "end of history." Ever since then, every development in world politics, from the crisis in Somalia to the Balkan wars to genocide in Rwanda has led commentators to charge that I was wrong and that history was still ongoing. This has been no more so than after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon. It is obvious that the attacks constituted "history" in a conventional sense. But the way in which I used the word history, or rather, History, was different and meant in the Marxist-Hegelian sense: it referred to the evolutionary progress of mankind over the centuries toward what we recognize as modernity, characterized by institutions like liberal democracy and technologically driven capitalism. My observation, made back in 1989 as communism was collapsing, was that this evolutionary process did seem to be bringing ever larger parts of the world toward modernity. And if we looked beyond liberal democracy and markets, there was nothing else there toward which we could expect to evolve; hence we had reached the end of history. While there were retrograde areas that resisted or rejected that process, it was hard to find a viable alternative type of civilization that people actually wanted to live in after the discrediting of socialism, monarchy, fascism and other types of authoritarian rule. This view has been challenged over time by many people, and perhaps most articulately by my former teacher, Samuel Huntington. He argued in a 1993 article that rather than progressing toward a single global system, the world remained mired in a "clash of civilizations" where the world's six or seven major cultural groups would coexist without converging and constitute the new fracture lines of future global conflict. Since the stunningly successful attack on the center of global capitalism was evidently perpetrated by Islamic extremists unhappy with the very existence of Western civilization, Huntington's view would seem on the surface to be correct. I believe that in the end I am right and that Huntington is wrong: Modernity is a very powerful freight train that will not be derailed by recent events, however painful and unprecedented. Democracy and free markets will continue to expand over time as the dominant organizing principles for much of the world. But it is worthwhile thinking about what the true scope of the present challenge is in the wake of recent events. It is clear that modernity has a cultural basis. That is, liberal democracy and free markets do not work at all times and everywhere simply because they are rational and universally appealing. Rather, they work best in societies with certain prior values and commitments whose origins may not be entirely rational. It is not an accident that modern liberal democracy emerged first in the Christian West, since the universalism of democratic rights can be seen in many ways as a secularized form of Christian universalism. This was, at any rate, the view of philosophers from Tocqueville and Hegel to the antidemocrat Nietzsche. The central question raised by Huntington is whether institutions of modernity such as liberal democracy and free markets will work only in the West, or whether there is something much broader in their appeal that is making headway in other non-Western societies with different cultural starting points. I believe there is: The empirical proof lies in the progress that democracy and free markets have made in regions like East Asia, Latin America, Orthodox Europe, South Asia and even Africa. Japan has adopted the major political and economic institutions of the West, and yet succeeded in retaining its own cultural identity and values. Proof of the integrating power of modernity lies also in the millions of Third World immigrants who vote with their feet every year to live in Western societies and eventually assimilate Western values. The flow of people moving in the opposite direction, and the numbers of people who want to blow up what they can of the West, is by contrast negligible. But there does seem to be something about Islam, or at least the fundamentalist versions of Islam that have been dominant in recent years, that makes Muslim societies particularly resistant to both the political and economic forms of modernity. Of all contemporary cultural systems, the Islamic world has the fewest democracies (Turkey alone qualifies), and contains no countries that have successfully made the transition from Third to First World status in the manner of South Korea or Singapore. There are plenty of non-Western people who prefer the economic and technological part of modernity and hope to have it without having to accept democratic politics or Western cultural values as well (e.g., China or Singapore). There are others who like both the economic and political versions of modernity, but just cannot figure out how to make it happen (Russia and some eastern European countries are examples). For them, transition to Western-style modernity may be long and painful, taking place in stages. China's economic modernization, for example, has already generated pressure for a more open political system, as was the case in both Taiwan and South Korea. There are no insuperable cultural buffers that are likely to prevent such societies from eventually getting to the end of history, and they constitute about four-fifths of the world's people. Islam, by contrast, is the only cultural system that seems to regularly produce people like Osama bin Laden. the Taliban in Afghanistan, or Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran who reject modernity lock, stock and barrel. This raises the question of how representative such people are of the larger Muslim community, and whether this rejection is somehow inherent in Islam. For if the rejectionists are more than a lunatic fringe, then Huntington is right that we are in for a protracted conflict made dangerous by virtue of their technological empowerment. The answer that politicians East and West have been putting out since Sept. 11 is that those sympathetic with the terrorists are indeed a "tiny minority" of Muslims, and that the vast majority are appalled by what happened. It is important for them to say this to prevent Muslims as a group from becoming targets of prejudice. The problem is that there are many gradations of sympathy, and that dislike and hatred of the United States and what it stands for are probably much more widespread than the politicians would like to admit. Certainly the group of people willing to go on suicide missions and actively conspire against the United States is tiny. But sympathy may be manifest in nothing more than initial feelings of Schadenfreude at the sight of the collapsing towers, an immediate sense of satisfaction that the United States was getting what it deserved, to be followed only later by pro forma expressions of disapproval. By this standard, sympathy for the terrorists is characteristic of much more than a "tiny minority" of Muslims in the Muslim world, extending from the middle classes in countries like Egypt and Jordan to members of immigrant communities in the West. This broader dislike and hatred would seem to represent something much deeper than mere opposition to U.S. policies like support for Israel or the Iraq embargo, encompassing a hatred of the underlying society. After all, many people around the world, including many Americans, disagree with U.S. policies, but this disagreement does not send them into paroxysms of anger and self-destructive violence. Nor is it necessarily a matter of ignorance about the quality of life in the West. The conspirator Mohamed Atta was a well-educated man from a well-to-do middle class Egyptian family who lived and studied in Germany and the United States for several years. Perhaps, as many commentators have speculated, the hatred is born out of a resentment of Western success and Muslim failure, particularly among Arabs who have historical memories of past greatness. But rather than psychoanalyze the Muslim world, perhaps it makes more sense to ask whether radical Islam constitutes a serious alternative to Western liberal democracy for Muslims themselves. (It goes without saying that, unlike communism, radical Islam has virtually no appeal in the contemporary world apart from those who are culturally Islamic to begin with.) For Muslims themselves, political Islam has proven much more appealing in the abstract than in reality. After 23 years of rule by fundamentalist clerics, most Iranians, and in particular nearly everyone under the age of 30, would like to live in a far more liberal society. The Afghans who have experienced Taliban rule have much the same feelings. All of the anti-American hatred that has been and will be drummed up as events unfold over the coming weeks and months does not translate into a viable political program for Muslim societies to follow in the years ahead. A bigger problem for the West than even the foreign policy crisis it faces is the issue of Muslim minority communities. Europeans have argued for many years that it is harder to assimilate Muslims than people from other cultures. It is not clear whether this is true--much of the problem lies with the Europeans themselves, who have not been terribly welcoming to immigrants and have encouraged them not to assimilate by not granting them full citizenship and rights. But the question remains: What would happen to a liberal democracy if it had to deal with a minority community that feels fundamentally alienated from and hostile to its surrounding society? The United States has always prided itself on its ability to take people from different cultures and backgrounds and turn them into Americans within a generation or two. The experience of Japanese-Americans who were sent to internment camps during the Pacific War has sensitized people to the ways in which external threat can harm the rights of U.S. citizens. (My own family was sent to a camp and my grandfather lost his hardware business in Los Angeles as a result.) But there were virtually no instances of disloyalty on the part of the Japanese-American community during the war, and members of this community have completely assimilated into U.S. society in subsequent years. Whether this will be the case with other immigrant groups remains to be seen. We remain at the end of history because there is only one system that has and will continue to dominate world politics--the liberal democratic West. This does not imply a world free from conflict, nor the disappearance of culture as a distinguishing characteristic of societies. But the conflict we face is not the clash of several distinct and equal cultures struggling among one another like the great powers of 19th-century Europe, as Huntington suggests. The clash consists of a series of rearguard actions in the various provinces of world politics, from societies whose traditional existence is indeed threatened by modernization. The strength of the backlash reflects the severity of this threat. But time and resources are on the side of modernity, and I see no lack of a will to prevail in the United States today. Fukuyama is professor of international political economy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and author of "The End of History and the Last Man." http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/
Oana-Yonhap-Bernama 22 Oct 2001 Soldiers Committed 73 Cases Of Civilian Massacres In Korean War Seoul, Oct 22 -- A total of 72 civilian massacres committed by Korean, U.S. and Canadian soldiers during the Korean War (1950-53) have been documented, an association of 62 civic organisations insisted Monday. "During the Korean War, 22,200 civilians were killed by South Korean soldiers in 19 cases, and 1,600 were murdered by U.S. and Canadian soldiers on 54 occasions," the National Committee to Enact a Special Law on Civilian Victims said in a news conference. The Defence Ministry received reports on the carnage, the committee contended. The ministry conducted on-site probes into reported civilian massacres at Munkyong, North Kyongsang Province, and in Hampyong, South Cholla Province, but is delaying the announcement of their outcomes, the committee said. It has been discovered that soldiers gunned down women and children nationwide even after they had been identified as refugees, the committee said. The newly inaugurated civic committee urged the National Assembly to pass legislation during its ongoing regular session that orders an investigation of various civilian massacres during the Korean War to recover the honour of those killed. Such a bill was presented by 47 ruling and opposition lawmakers on Sept 6.
Network Media Group 28 Oct 2001 Nearly one hundred people killed in religious riot in Southern Burma Mae Sot, Nearly one hundred people were killed in a riot between Muslims and members of Union Solidarity and Development Association (USDA) at Pha-auk village in Southern Burma on October 21, Thit Lwin Oo from Muslim Information Center said to NMG. About 150 members from USDA came to destroy the mosque in Pha-auk village, about four miles from Moulmein, where one hundred Muslims were worshiping on the evening of October 27. A clash broke out between the Muslims in the mosque and the USDA members around 7 pm and about 60 Muslims and 35 USDA members were killed during the clash, said Thit Lwin Oo. Similar religious riots occurred in Pyi and Pegu in early this month and about 40 shops, including Tawthargyi store, on the main road in Pyi were destroyed during these riots, Thit Lwin Oo continued. About 34 prisoners arrested during these riots in Taunggu during May and Pyi and Pegu in early October are going to be sent to Khamti prison, very remote town in Upper Burma near Indo-Burma border. The prisoners include 24 from Mandalay prison and 10 from Pegu prison, a source reported to NMG. "Although there are reports about the arrests, we have not yet known how many Muslims and Buddhists were among these arrested people," said U Kyaw Hla, chairman of Muslim Liberation Organization (MLO). Although there were religious riots in Taunggu, Pyi, Pegu and Hinthada, Burmese regime has not yet announced on the casualties in these riots.
Kaladan Press Network 26 Oct 2001 Burma continues to plant mines along Burma-Bangladesh border By our correspondent Cox's Bazar Na Sa Ka border security forces and Burmese regular forces have been planting landmines along Burma-Bangladesh border since October 15, 2001. On October 20, 2001 two mines were exploded just on the border line near pillar No. 48. and no casualty is reported. Following the incident, again fears have gripped the bordering villagers of both Arakan and Bangladesh. It may be mentioned that last year the Na Sa Ka, with the help of Burma army, started planting hundreds of antipersonnel mines, soon after monsoon, from October along almost the whole line, including hilly paths and pass. Rohingya National Army (RNA), a rebel group from Arakan, had reportedly cleared a number of those landmines. Like past years, the Burmese armed forces are now plating or replacing the old mines with new ones as the rainy season has just ended. It has been reported that Bangladesh border security forces (BDR) are giving constant warning to the villagers living in the border area that they are in danger of mines being laid by the Burmese armed forces. It is worthy of mention that every year important number of civilians from both sides of the Burma-Bangladesh border, most of whom are Rohingya and Bangladeshi wood cutters, are killed or injured in land mine incidents. Editor Kaladan Press Network Kaladan Press" is an independent news group disseminating and reporting news and information covering western Burma in particular. Kaladan Press [email@example.com]
Reuters 23 Oct 2001 Anti-Muslim Riot in Hinthada Township By Ko Thet -Buddhist monks and Muslims rioted last Saturday night in Hinthada Township, in the Irrawaddy division, according to a Hinthada resident. The riot began in a Muslim-owned tea-shop over a quarrel between the proprietor and monks. Authorities had declared an urgent curfew earlier that night, the source added. "Hinthada is half-Muslim, so the riot spread quickly through the entire town," a truck driver said. "The riot was not only fighting between Muslims and Buddhist monks, but rioters were also setting fire to houses," When the Irrawaddy contacted regional police from Hinthada, an officer denied any report of the riot. Media groups inside the country are also silent on the subject. A spokesman for a weekly journal said that they had heard news of the riot but had not been given permission to cover it in their publication. Heavy security has been deployed near mosques and Muslim areas in Rangoon. A tutor from the Hlaingtharyar Technological University (HTU) said that the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC) was afraid to interfere, worried that the direction of the violence might shift from Muslims to the military government. Hinthada is the fourth city in Burma to suffer anti-Muslim riots this month.
The Irrawaddy, 15 Oct 2001 Sectarian violence erupts in Myanmar YANGON, Oct 24: Myanmar's military government has imposed a curfew in three cities to deter clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, government officials said on Wednesday. "It is true that dusk to dawn curfew was imposed in Pyi, Bago, and Hinthada recently to prevent religious riots after brawls between some Buddhist monks and Muslims," a Myanmar government spokesman told Reuters. "Local authorities and religious leaders have now straightened out the problem and the situation has returned to normal, but the curfew is still on," the spokesman said. Myanmar citizens living along the Thai-Myanmar border told Reuters on Wednesday clashes between Muslims and Buddhists started in Pyi, some 290 kms north of Yangon, on October 8 and spread to the nearby cities of Bago and Hinthada. They said more than 100 people were wounded and one killed in the clash in Pyi, but officials declined to comment on figures. They said authorities in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar had banned all vehicles from entering Yangon after the riot in Hinthada on Sunday. Sources in the towns said the riots were caused by a brawl between the families of a Buddhist teenager and a Muslim man she eloped with. Rivalry between Buddhists and Muslims, who make up almost four percent of the country's 51 million people, is not uncommon in Myanmar. The first clash this year was in February in Sittwe, capital of Rakhine State, 490 kms northwest of Yangon. Another one took place in May in Taungoo, a city in Bago Division, 265 kms north of Yangon. Curfews were imposed for some time in both cities. Government and private sources said the riots were sparked by religious differences. Political analysts say Myanmar authorities have been taking special care to prevent riots between Buddhists and Muslims since the suicide attacks on the United States on September 11. http://www.irrawaddy.org/news/
Democratic Voice of Burma, 9-12 Oct 2001 Muslims Under Tight Watch The Ministry of Home Affairs last week ordered police and intelligence units to hunt down the source of anti-American pamphlets being circulated in cities with large Muslim populations. According to The Irrawaddy, the pamphlets are believed to have been published by an extremist Islamic group and calls on Burmese Muslims to join a jihad against the United States. The Religious Affairs Ministry also issued a notification warning Muslim clerics not to teach Islamic fundamentalist ideas or allow gatherings in mosques for non-religious activities. They also stated that the religious organizations would be held responsible for any violations. A curfew remains in place in Prome after rioting between Buddhist's and Muslim's on October 9, which reportedly left five people dead.
BBC 30 Oct 2001, Pakistan massacre suspects arrested The killings have stunned the local community Thirteen people have been arrested in Pakistan as police hunt for the killers of 16 Christians at a church service. The killings, which took place on Sunday in the eastern town of Bahawalpur, were the worst attacks against Christians in Pakistani history. My government and the law enforcement agencies will do everything possible so that whoever committed this gruesome act is caught and given exemplary punishment President Musharraf Masked gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on the congregation, and also killed a Muslim police guard outside. President Pervez Musharraf condemned the attack as an "act of terrorism". The BBC's Susannah Price in Islamabad says most of those detained apparently belong to hardline Islamic militant groups. Enraged mourners There are no reports of anyone being charged so far. The mourners were asked to turn the other cheek Police meanwhile have recovered 142 bullets from the church. At a funeral service on Monday, the Catholic bishop of Punjab told people to remain peaceful and follow the Christian principle of turning the other cheek. But many of the angry mourners chanted slogans demanding protection, and calling for revenge. There was heavy police security as 13 of the bodies were taken in a procession of vehicles to a nearby Christian graveyard for burial. Security has been stepped up at Christian churches across the country. President Musharraf has also promised a long-term strategy to counter terrorism and sectarian extremism. Security has been stepped up outside Christian monuments in Pakistan And he vowed that no effort would be spared to catch those involved in Sunday's attack. "My government and the law enforcement agencies will do everything possible so that whoever committed this gruesome act is caught and given exemplary punishment," he said. Doors locked Witnesses in the church said the attackers shouted "Allahu Akbar" and "Graveyard of Christians - Pakistan and Afghanistan", before opening fire. Survivors said the gunmen locked the doors and sprayed fire at the Protestant congregation who were using the Roman Catholic church of Saint Dominic's at the time. Pleas for mercy were ignored, witnesses said. No one has so far said they carried out the attack, but the local community has blamed pro-Taleban groups, who have held recent demonstrations in the town to denounce the US-led strikes on Afghanistan. The area has a history of tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslim extremists, and hundreds of Muslims have died in sectarian violence over the years. But Sunday's shooting, police said, is the first such attack on Christians in the region, which is near the border with India. Some Christian neighbourhoods had, however, already stepped their security. Our correspondent says extremist groups may be trying to portray the current Afghan crisis as a war between Christians and Muslims. Christians make up about 1% of Pakistan's 120 million population. In 1997, Muslim rioters in southern Punjab burned and looted hundreds of Christians' homes and ransacked 13 churches and a school, accusing some Christians of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed.
28 October, 2001, 08:38 GMT Christians massacred in Pakistan Unidentified masked gunmen on motorcycles have opened fire indiscriminately on worshippers in a church in eastern Pakistan, killing at least 16 people. Police say dozens more are seriously injured. They were carrying bags and when they came they took out guns Witness The attack took place during a service attended by over 100 people at a Roman Catholic church in the town of Bahawalpur, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the city of Multan, in Punjab Province. No one has so far said they carried out the attack, but officials said members of a banned Islamic group were under suspicion. One witness said six men on three motorcycles rode up to Saint Dominic's Church and pulled out AK-47 assault rifles, shooting two police guards before entering the packed church. I would... like to assure everyone that we will track down the culprits and bring them to justice President Musharraf "They were carrying bags and when they came they took out guns," the witness told Reuters news agency. Survivors say the gunmen locked the church doors and sprayed fire at the Protestant congregation using the building at the time. Terrified worshippers are said to have scrambled for cover, some taking shelter behind the altar, but most were hit by bullets. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said he was deeply saddened by the killings, which he blamed on trained terrorists. Christians tense The area has a history of tensions between Sunni and Shia Muslim extremists, and hundreds of Muslims have died in sectarian violence over the years. But Sunday's shooting, police say, is the first such attack on Christians in the region, which is near the border with India. Some Christians neighbourhoods had, however, already stepped their security. The BBC's Susannah Price in Islamabad says there have been fears among the Christian community of a possible retaliation by Islamic extremists, following the US strikes on neighbouring Afghanistan. Christians make up about 1% of Pakistan's 120 million population. In 1997, Muslim rioters in southern Punjab burned and looted hundreds of Christians' homes and ransacked 13 churches and a school, accusing some Christians of committing blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed. Gunmen Kill 16 in Pakistani Christian Church The Associated Press Sunday, October 28, 2001; 5:15 AM BEHAWALPUR, Pakistan –– Unidentified gunmen stormed into a Christian church during services Sunday morning and sprayed worshippers with bullets, killing 16 people, police and hospital officials said. The attack took place at 9 a.m. at St. Dominic's Church in the town of Behawalpur, 60 miles south of Multan in Pakistan's Punjab province. Survivors said worshippers tried to flee and hide under pews to escape what they called an indiscriminate hail of bullets. "Some of them lied down. Some begged for mercy. They didn't listen," said Ali Shah, a man in his early 20s who was in the front pew of St. Dominic's when the four masked gunmen burst in. Residents said the church is Roman Catholic, but that Protestants also were participating in services Sunday morning, as usual, because they do not have their own church in the area. Eight bodies were taken to the Civil Hospital of Behawalpur, and eight more remained outside the church Sunday afternoon, said Dr. Altaf Malik, medical superintendent of the Civil Hospital of Behawalpur. He said "at least five" more people were being treated for bullet wounds. Another emergency room physician, Dr. Umar Farooq, said four of the dead were children under 12, four were women and eight were men. Behawalpur Police Chief Haris Ikram, reached by telephone from Islamabad, also put the number of dead at 16. He said all were Christian except one — a Muslim police officer named Mohammad Salim. He had no further information on why a Muslim was among the dead. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but intelligence officials said members of a banned Islamic group were under suspicion. They gave no details. Police said no arrests were immediately made. A city police dispatcher in Behawalpur, reached by telephone, said the situation was under control. There have been religious tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in the area, but this was the first such attack on Christians in recent memory, authorities said. Police said at least 100 people were in the church when six unidentified attackers on motorcycles sprayed the church with gunfire. Shamoon Masih, 34, who was shot in the leg and the arm, said most of those who died belonged to two families. He said the gunmen didn't select particular victims but merely fired into clumps of people. "They had no mercy for the children. They had no mercy for the women. They could see that small children were being hit by bullets, but they kept firing," Masih said. The gunmen fled after firing weapons for about two minutes, Masih said. He said he carried several children outside the church before passing out from his wounds. Malik said that after the shootings, grieving family members angered that their loved ones could not be saved came to the hospital, screaming at doctors and destroying some medical equipment. They were not charged with anything. "We remained calm. We behaved in a sensible manner, because we knew they were grieving," the doctor said. Shehbaz Bhatti, president of Pakistan's Christian Liberation Front, condemned the incident as "barbaric" and demanded the government make quick arrests. He also exhorted the government to provide security to Christians living in Pakistan. Pakistan, whose full name is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is 97 percent Muslim. The remaining 3 percent includes the country's few Christians. Gunmen kill 15 Christians in Pakistan 28 October, 2001 07:07 GMT ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles have shot dead 15 Christians at Sunday prayers in the central Pakistani town of Bahawalpur, according to police. Six men on three cycles rode up to a church and sprayed bullets at the worshippers. Dozens were injured. "Women were among the dead," a police deputy superintendant told Reuters. This was the first such attack on Christians in the region, he said. The area, south of Multan near the Indian border has a history of strife between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim extremists. Up to 1,200 Muslims have died in sectarian strife in the last nine years.
Dawn 15 Oct 2001 Demo termed warning to US SUKKUR, Chief of Jamiat Ulema-i-Pakistan, Allama Shah Ahmed Noorani, has accused America of carrying out terrorist acts in Afghanistan and elsewhere, especially in the Muslim countries. He said the seven-day air strike on Afghanistan was a genocide of Muslims, and it was shameful that the Pakistan government had extended its facilities for carrying such attacks from Jacobabad and Pasni air bases. The JUP chief was addressing a press conference at Madressa Qadria Rizvia here on Monday. He said that 500,000 children were killed in Iraq due to shortage of medicines, and 700,000 people were killed in bombing by US forces in the last 10 years. He referred to the demonstration held at Jacobabad on Sunday by the people, and the strikes in the country which he said should serve as a warning to the US government.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Post 23 Oct 2001 Magi death sparks war PORT Moresby and Central police yesterday averted an ethnic clash between Rigo and Wanigela people in the Central Province. Acting NCD/Central Commander Emmanuel Hela confirmed Wanigela villagers attempted to raid Rigo villages between Ormond and Lako rivers along the Magi Highway after a Wanigela man was shot dead on Sunday afternoon. Mr Hela said another Wanigela man was wounded when the vehicle they were travelling in from Kupiano to Port Moresby was shot at by criminals. The incident happened near Madobu village. Mr Hela had a meeting with Wanigela people residing in Port Moresby on Sunday night and continued the talks yesterday morning. He managed to talk more than 3000 angry Wanigela protesters out of raiding the Rigo villages. Mr Hela said: “The villages were frustrated and aggressive and wanted to burn down the villages in retaliation for the death of the old man.’’ Wanigela villagers yesterday presented five demands in a petition to police, Central Governor Opa Taureka, Rigo MP Dibara Yagabo and other Central provincial authorities at Wanigela village at Koki before midday. Their demands include K200,000 as compensation payment, a police station be established at Toule, police immediately set up camp where the incident happened and suspects including other wanted criminals be apprehended and locked up within a week. Mr Hela said three patrol vehicles with policemen were sent to the area on Sunday night and a section of a mobile squad was sent to the area yesterday morning along with community police. Mr Hela said an operation order has been put into place by police to ensure peace in the area. He said in the short-term police were able to keep a watch in the area but in the long-term villages needed to help in the fight against crime along the highway. Mr Hela appealed to village elders to help police and also to talk to youths in their villages. He said these criminal acts were not necessarily done by villagers in the area. Mr Hela said criminal attacks occurred along certain parts of the Magi Highway. He also appealed to people travelling on the highway to take precautions. Mr Hela also said only two weeks ago he and NCD/ Central Commander Geoffrey Vaki spoke to Mekeo villages along the Hiritano Highway about attacks on travellers in their area. Mr Hela confirmed another fatal accident also happened along the Magi Highway which resulted in the death of three people and another was seriously injured. He said details of the incident should be known soon. Central and Port Moresby police went to the accident area yesterday.
Dawn (Pakistan) 30 Sept 2001 The meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha on Oct 9 should help the Muslim world come up with a unified response to the Sept 11 terrorist attacks and its aftermath. The foreign ministers will be meeting in Qatar's capital against a background that poses a challenge to the Islamic world. As was in the fitness of things, all Muslim countries have condemned the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington and mourned the loss of innocent lives, because their faith abhors such abominable acts. This condemnation of terrorism has not remained confined to mere words, for the vast majority of Muslim countries have decided to take an active part in the international community's fight against terrorism. Basically, there are three problems that the Doha conference should address if the meeting is to serve any meaningful purpose. The first and foremost is the need to intercede with the Taliban on behalf of the international community to ensure the handing over of Osama bin Laden to a third country for trial. So far, all efforts in this regard have failed. Pakistan has tried both officially and unofficially to persuade the Taliban to listen to the world community on this issue, but to no avail. However, it will be a different matter if the OIC decides to send a high-powered delegation to apprise the Mulla Omar government of the consensus in the Islamic community over its decision to go along with the United Nations. In doing so, however, adequate guarantees must be sought for fair and impartial trial of the accused persons and the Taliban government and Bin Laden assured of the presence of an OIC-designated team of legal experts and jurists to witness the trial. One hopes that, where Pakistan's unilateral efforts failed, the OIC, representing the Islamic fraternity will have a positive effect on the Taliban and a war could be avoided. Another matter that deserves the OIC's immediate attention is the current anti-Muslim wave in the US and some western countries. Even before evidence was available of any Muslim group's involvement in the Sept 11 attacks, large sections of the western media had started blaming Muslims for the suicide bombings. Since then, the western world in general and the US in particular have seen a wave of anti-Muslim attacks. Muslims have been attacked, some murdered, mosques damaged or burnt and shops vandalized. This was despite appeals from western governments, including that of the US, that all Muslims should not be blamed for the crime of a few. The task before the OIC is to make its viewpoint clear to the western electronic and print media and seek the cooperation of church leaders and NGOs to call a halt to the attacks on Muslim lives and property. Many leaders of public opinion in the West have deplored the anti-Muslim wave. It is with such groups that the OIC should seek liaison to help control the current hate campaign against Muslims and Islam generally. By and large, Muslims throughout Europe and the US have conducted themselves well and contributed to the cultural enrichment and economic prosperity of the countries of their residence. This point must be brought home to common Europeans and North Americans. Side by side, an equally greater task for all Muslim governments is to inform friendly governments in the West about the cause of resentment in the Muslim world against the West in general and the US in particular. The issues that come to mind immediately are Palestine, Iraq and Kashmir. Here the West, particularly the US, has been guilty of partisanship, blind animus, political expediency and double standards. While the US has missed no opportunity to project itself as a champion of human rights, it has shown utter indifference to the brutal violation of human rights in Palestine and Kashmir. In Palestine, the US has not only looked the other way, it has not only failed to restrain Israel; it has also encouraged Tel Aviv in its genocidal policies toward the Palestinians. More recently Israel has resorted to targeted killings, but that has made no difference to America's continued support and political, economic and military help for Israel. In Iraq, sanctions have long outlived their real logic and need. While the prolongation of these harsh measures has not harmed Saddam Hussain much they have meant untold sufferings for the Iraqi people. The denial of medicines has resulted in the death of thousands of children and women, but the US has shown no inclination to relent. In fact, American and British planes continue to bomb Iraq periodically on the pretext of enforcement of economic and military prohibitions. It is the duty of the OIC to inform the enlightened sections of public opinion in the West that at least 35,000 Iraqi children have lost their lives as a result of these sanctions. It is also significant that a majority of the countries declared "rogue" by the US are Muslim. So long as the US practises this patently unjust policy and ignores the misery of Muslim peoples in Palestine, Iraq and Kashmir, there will continue to be resentment among large sections of Muslims against the US. The OIC meeting in Doha should seriously address these issues and problems and, perhaps, devise a strategy for seeking a revision of American policies toward the Islamic world. Without a definite improvement in such policies, there will continue to be deep resentment against the West and the US in the Muslim world.
BBC 9 Aug 2001 Sri Lanka to probe ethnic violence A South African-style Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Sri Lanka has begun looking into ethnic violence against the Tamil minority. It says it wants to hear from Tamils who experienced physical attacks or intimidation during the early 1980s when, it says, human rights violations were at their worst. The Commission is a quasi-judicial body which has no powers of prosecution. The BBC Colombo correspondent says its main problem will be convincing witnesses to come forward. She says Tamil human rights activists are sceptical about the Commission's independence and believe it's too early for such an enquiry when war in Sri Lanka is still going on.
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
IRIN 11 Oct 2001 CENTRAL ASIA: Amnesty warns of mounting rights violations ISLAMABAD, 11 October (IRIN) - Amnesty International on Thursday warned the international community of a possible deterioration in the human rights situation in Central Asia. It said governments there were using the "war against terrorism" as an excuse to further undermine respect for human rights. "We are worried about the Uzbek president's statement on the lack of tolerance on banned groups, given the country's track record on human rights violations," Judit Arenas, spokeswoman for Amnesty International in London, told IRIN on Thursday. The warning was issued through a report entitled "Central Asia: No excuse for escalating human rights violations", which looks at the situation in the Central Asian nations of Uzbekistan and, Tajikistan, which border on Afghanistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Of particular concern are increasing restrictions on vulnerable groups and individuals, including alleged supporters of banned Islamic opposition parties, independent human rights organisations, Afghan refugees and ethnic minorities. Governments are intolerant of anyone belonging to two particular groups in Central Asia - the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Liberation Party), both present in the Ferghana Valley. Also under threat is the Uyghur population in Central Asia, who are increasingly becoming associated with the other banned Islamic groups. The Uyghurs are a Turkic people and predominantly Muslim. They are the largest indigenous group in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, which borders Kyrgyzstan. Recognising that governments must ensure the safety of their citizens, Amnesty International said measures undertaken in the past to control such movements, particularly in Uzbekistan, were "disproportionate and discriminatory, and contravened international human rights obligations". Arenas also said Amnesty was urging Central Asian nations to open their borders with Afghanistan and allow refugees in to avert a humanitarian disaster. "If the situation worsens in Afghanistan, people will flee to Tajikistan, and we urge the government and border guards to open borders," she said. Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian countries have closed their borders with the Afghanistan, fearing a major exodus of refugees from the country. Meanwhile, Amnesty also expressed serious concern over the killing of civilians in Afghanistan under the US-led air strikes since 7 October, and has called for clarification as to the circumstances of civilian deaths in the course of "Operation Enduring Freedom". Among reports of civilian casualties, the UN has confirmed the deaths of four workers of the UN-funded agency Afghan Technical Consultants (ATC), working under the umbrella of the UN Mine Action Programme for Afghanistan. They were killed on 8 October in the collapse of the ATC offices in Kabul, which appear to have been hit by US forces during the bombardment of the city. "We have repeatedly called on all parties to the conflict to take every necessary precaution to avoid civilian casualties," a statement from Amnesty International said.
European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) - Vienna 4 Oct 2001 EUMC Report on Anti-Islamic reactions within the European Union after the terrorist attacks against the U.S. As a consequence of the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001 the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in Vienna has submitted to the EU Institutions a comprehensive overview of anti-Islamic reactions across the European Union following the acts of terrorism. The initial report consists of 14 country reports* by the EUMC's National Focal Points in the EU Member States. The National Focal Points are data providers of RAXEN, the European Racism and Xenophobia Information network. The reports from the National Focal Points are primarily based on national media coverage of the situation or on direct contacts with NGOs. The EUMC's initial report shows in general that the negative impact on Islamic Communities in the EU since 11 September 200l has been rather limited. Many politicians and the civil society have been able to differ between the majority of peaceful Islamic people and a few fanatics. While in some countries (Belgium, The Netherlands and Sweden) there seems to be an increase in both verbal and physical attacks against Muslims, in some other countries (Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal) such an increase has not been noticed by the National Focal Points. http://www.eumc.eu.int/ (see Iran)
Armenia MICROSOFT ENCARTA ENCYCLOPEDIA DELUXE 2002 FEATURES THE WORLD WAR I ARMENIAN GENOCIDE By Richard Kloian. Microsoft has released its Encarta Reference Library 2002 and its Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2002 believed to have the world's largest circulation of any encyclopedia, that includes an extensive 3,000 word entry on the modern history of Armenia, with a special focus on the Armenian Genocide. It was nearly a year ago that Microsoft first found itself ensnarled in controversy when The Chronicle of Higher Education reported in its August 15, 2000 issue that the editors of Encarta, after receiving complaints from the Turkish Ambassador, had asked two scholars, Helen Fein and Ronald Suny, to revise their entries on the Armenian Genocide to include the "other side of the story." The Turkish Embassy also urged Encarta to remove the term "genocide" from its entry on Armenia. The issue escalated after Pacifica Radio aired the program "Did the Turkish government try to write the Armenian genocide out of history books?" on its nationwide broadcast of Democracy Now!. On the 40 minute segment aired coast to coast August 23, 2000, Amy Goodman interviewed by phone the nervous senior editor of Encarta who tried to explain how they had reached their decision to "seek the other side of the story." It became apparent that Encarta editors had but scant understanding of the genocide or the full depth of Turkish denial and quickly found themselves ensconced in the center of a spiraling and embarrassing controversy. They are be commended that in the intervening months they have done their homework and in the process they have indeed learned something about the Armenian Genocide. The Encarta Deluxe 2002 reflects this new understanding. The contributor to the new entry is the world's foremost expert on the genocide, Professor Vahakn Dadrian, who is the Director of Genocide Research at the Zoryan Institute and who has authored a number of critically acclaimed books and monographs on the topic. The article on the Armenian Genocide provides an extensive overview of modern Armenian history. Subdivided into six sections, the subheadings include: Introduction, Background, The Rise of Nationalism, The Young Turk Revolution and Its Consequences; World War I and the Armenian Genocide, and Consequences. The section on the Armenian Genocide occupies the largest part of the entry. The Encarta article outlines and describes succinctly the main conditions and factors that combined to produce the Genocide. Unlike many other encyclopedia articles on the subject, it methodically describes the evolving stages of the Genocide, with particular emphasis on the decisive role of the secretive Young Turk Ittihadist party hierarchy, and the instrumental role of the Special Organization, the Teshkilati Mahsusa. In doing so it points out the deliberate aspects of the extermination process by which, step by step, the victim population was targeted and decimated starting first with the able-bodied Armenian men who were conscripted and gradually liquidated, and subsequently with the thousands of Armenian church and community leaders who were likewise brutally murdered. The three main methods used to conduct the organized mass murders are specifically cited in the article: death by blunt instruments, mass drownings in the Black Sea and the tributaries of the Euphrates; and burning alive in stables, haylofts, and especially dug large pits. In this connection reference is made to the thousands of criminals who were released from the various prisons of the Empire to form the Teshkilati Mahsusa for massacre duty. The article directs attention to the fact that following the completion of the principal part of the Genocide, the perpetrator Young Turk regime proceeded to carry out a second round of genocidal massacres in the summer of 1916. Several hundred thousand Armenian survivors of the earlier deportations, mainly from Turkey's western, northwestern, and southwestern provinces, had arrived in the deserts of Mesopotamia. These wretched survivors, reduced by starvation to skin and bone, were annihilated with brutalities unsurpassed even in Ottoman- Turkish history. Referring to official Ottoman statistics, released in the Spring of 1919, the article shows that 800,000 Armenians were killed outright, and that through subsequent reliable data, especially German sources, the total number of victims is estimated to be 1.2 million. The article ends with a commentary on the abortive Turkish courts-martial which, while adequately documenting the mass murder, failed in its task of pursuing retributive justice. Similar abortiveness clouded the ideals of international justice when the victorious Allies, all but ignoring their wartime pledges to the Armenians, and their solemn threats to the Ottoman-Turks, proceeded to consign the crime of genocide, perpetrated against the Armenians, to oblivion. The ground was thus paved for the new Kemalist regime to all but transform this obliviousness into a culture of intransigent denialism. The Encarta article is available online on the Microsoft Encarta Deluxe web site and is included in the CD-ROM and DVD versions of Encarta Reference Library 2002 and Encarta Encyclopedia Deluxe 2002. Registered owners of Encarta 2001 are advised to use the update feature of their current versions which will automatically connect to Microsoft and download the necessary addition. Otherwise, they may visit the Encarta web site and view the article online at: http://encarta.msn.com/find/search.asp?search=Armenian+Genocide
Reuters 4 Oct 2001 Cubans Use Belgian Law to File Case Against Castro By Katie Nguyen BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Cuban exiles, invoking Belgium's far-reaching war crimes law, filed a lawsuit against President Fidel Castro on Thursday for crimes against humanity. The complaint, which covers alleged false imprisonment, murder and torture, was handed to an investigating judge at the Brussels criminal court. He will decide whether the case against the 75-year-old Communist leader is admissible. ``No one is above the law and that applies in particular to Castro because for more than 40 years, he has tortured 100,000 of his countrymen,'' said Larry Klayman, a U.S. lawyer representing 10 plaintiffs. The case is being brought under a controversial law that grants Belgian courts the right to prosecute perpetrators of human rights abuses and war crimes, regardless of nationality and where those crimes were committed. The law is at the center of an attempt to try Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over a 1982 massacre of Palestinians in Israeli-occupied Lebanon. An appeals court is debating whether Sharon can be prosecuted in Belgium. Leading the Castro lawsuit was Miami-based Jose Basulto, who traveled to Brussels to personally file the complaint. While scouring the Florida Straits to rescue Cubans fleeing the Caribbean island in rafters, Basulto's plane came under attack by Cuban fighter jets. He survived the shootdown but four members of his group Brothers to the Rescue were killed in the assault. One Cuban agent was convicted by a U.S. court in connection with the shootdown. He was found guilty of conspiracy to murder in an incident that further aggravated relations between Washington and Havana. ``Fidel Castro chose to send his MIGs after us. The act was a premeditated ambush of our planes,'' Basulto told a news conference. Klayman added: ``What's important is Castro boasted at the time of the shootdown that he was responsible.'' BELGIAN UNEASE Last August, 105,000 people petitioned the United States to indict Castro and his brother Raul Castro on murder charges. The United States' long-time foe, Cuba is also on a State Department list of states that allegedly sponsor terrorism. In the wake of devastating hijacker attacks on New York and Washington, Klayman said it was in the ``best interests'' of the Belgian government to support the case. ``As George W. Bush said, either you're with us or against us,'' he said. Castro, who has held power since a 1959 revolution, is the latest in a string of high-profile figures to become a target of complaints filed in Belgium. Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel has made clear his desire to amend the law, which blurs the line between Belgium's federal and judicial powers. The Sharon case has embarrassed the Belgian government, which currently holds the rotating EU Presidency, and caused Sharon to shun visiting European Union headquarters in Brussels. ``We hope and trust this will not affect the good relations between Belgium and Cuba,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Koen Vervaeke told Reuters. Last August, Belgium headed a European Union mission to Cuba, which aimed to patch up relations that had been frozen for a year after the EU criticized the island's human rights record.
BBC 3 Oct 2001 Sharon 'war crimes' hearing delayed - Ariel Sharon resigned after the 1982 massacre An appeals court hearing in Belgium on whether Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon can be prosecuted for war crimes has been postponed until the end of next month. Belgian lawyer Adrien Massert, who has been appointed to represent Mr Sharon, said the delay had been granted to allow him to build up his case. The killings still cause great anger Mr Sharon, 73, has been under investigation since July by a Belgian examining magistrate for alleged crimes against humanity. They relate to massacres in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon when Mr Sharon was Israeli Defence Minister. Lebanese Christian militiamen went on a three-day killing spree after being allowed into the camps by Israeli soldiers. Between 800 and 1,500 Palestinians died. 'Personally responsible' Mr Sharon resigned as defence minister after an Israeli investigation in 1983 found him indirectly but "personally" responsible for the deaths. He stayed on in the government as a minister without portfolio. He faces two lawsuits brought under a 1993 Belgian law, allowing Belgian courts to prosecute foreigners for human rights abuses committed abroad. Ariel Sharon is hated by many Palestinians The first suit, charging him with responsibility for the deaths, was lodged by a group of Palestinian, Lebanese, Moroccan and Belgian nationals. The second suit, which alleges crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, was filed by 23 survivors of the massacres and five eyewitnesses. Referred on Magistrate Patrick Collignon had referred the case to an appeal court to decide whether the matter fell within his jurisdiction. Because of the case, Mr Sharon has been unable to visit the European Union headquarters in Belgium. The hearing has been re-scheduled for 28 November. Mr Massert said Mr Sharon rejected the legality of the case against him. "He thinks the complaint is illegal and illegitimate," Massert told Reuters news agency. He said Mr Sharon would be challenging Belgium's right to try a foreigner for alleged crimes committed abroad and arguing that, as a statesman, Mr Sharon has diplomatic immunity.
SMH 25 Oct 2001 UN court reverses ethnic cleansing verdicts Brussels: Carla del Ponte, the United Nations' chief war crimes prosecutor for the former Yugoslavia, has suffered a big setback with the appeals division of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague throwing out a landmark conviction on ethnic cleansing and declaring it a miscarriage of justice. In a decision likely to make it more difficult to secure similar convictions, five appeal court judges said on Tuesday that the trial of three Bosnian Croats found guilty of involvement in the 1993 Ahmici massacres was "critically flawed". "The case against them cannot stand," said the judges in their ruling. The charges had been "too general and vague" and too reliant on "unreliable witnesses". "It is the task of the appeals court to ensure such problems, understandable as they might be, do not result in a miscarriage of justice." Two brothers, Zoran and Mirjan Kupreskic, and a cousin, Vlatko Kupreskic, were freed immediately. The sentences of two others - Vladimir Santic and Drago Josipovic - were cut. It is the first time since the tribunal's creation in 1993 that a UN appeals chamber has thrown out a conviction in a lower court. All five had been found guilty of crimes against humanity last year for the deaths of more than 100 Muslims in 1993, including women and children, in one of the most harrowing episodes of Bosnia's bloody war. At the time, Ms Del Ponte called it "the first case of ethnic cleansing pure and simple". The three now acquitted were sentenced to 10, eight and six years, respectively, and found guilty of organising and carrying out shelling and house-to-house attacks against Muslim civilians. A deputy prosecutor at the UN tribunal, Graham Blewitt, called the acquittals a serious setback. "We didn't anticipate that the decision would result in three of them being acquitted. I feel for the victims of Ahmici." But he said the acquittals would enhance the tribunal's reputation for impartiality.
BBC 24 Oct 2001 Bosnia sentences Serb for war crimes A court in Sarajevo has sentenced an ethnic Serb to 10 years imprisonment for crimes against humanity committed during the Bosnian war. Dragan Stankovic was found guilty of raping Bosnian Muslim women and taking part in the expulsion of non-Serb civilians. Because of the nature of the accusations, the trial was closed to the public and no further details were given. The international war crimes tribunal in The Hague had approved the case being heard locally. It has allowed courts in Bosnia to hear some war crimes cases, in an effort to take pressure off the tribunal. Srebrenica bodies found Meanwhile the Bosnian authorities say the remains of around 200 Bosnian Muslims have been retrieved from a mass grave at Podrinje in the north-east of the country. The victims are believed to have been killed in the town of Srebrenica when it was overrun by Serb forces in 1995, and their bodies transported to the north-east. Around 1,000 corpses have been found in mass graves exhumed in the area this year. More than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims - mostly men and boys - were killed in massacre, which has been described as Europe's worst atrocity since World War II.
VOA News 18 Oct 2001 Over 100 Bodies Exumed From Zvornik Mass Grave Bosnian officials say more than 120 bodies have been exhumed so far from a mass grave near the Serb-controlled town of Zvornik in eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina. Officials with the Bosnian state Commission on Missing Persons said Wednesday they will keep digging until all remains thought to be in the grave are found. They believe the remains are those of Bosnian Muslims killed in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. Bosnian Serbs are suspected of killing up to 8,000 Muslim men in Europe's worst single massacre since World War II. The commission found the Zvornik grave two weeks ago while they were exhuming bodies from another mass grave nearby. Some information for this report provided by AFP and DPA.
Reuters 6 Oct 2001 Forensic experts unearth 500 bodies in Bosnia By Maja Zuvela SARAJEVO - The bodies of more than 500 victims of Bosnia's 1992-5 war have been unearthed at two mass grave sites in the east and northwest of the country's Serb republic, Bosnian Muslim forensic experts said. Jasmin Odobasic, an official from the Muslim Commission for Missing Persons, said on Saturday 301 bodies had been exhumed so far from a former iron mine near the northwestern town of Ljubija. Another 224 bodies were exhumed at the Cancari grave in eastern Bosnia where work was now finished, experts said. Documents found with the bodies in the former mine indicated the victims were Muslims from the northwestern Prijedor area who went missing in 1992 and that most of them were men, he said. The mass grave, located in an 85-metre-deep pit, might be the biggest discovered so far. Excavation at the site began two weeks ago and many more bodies were expected to be found as exhumations continued, Odobasic said. "At this point it would be very difficult to estimate how long the works will last and what the final figure will be," he told Reuters by telephone. The bodies were in very bad condition because they had been transferred from their original burial site and the soil contained large amounts of iron ore enriched with sulphur which caused their further erosion, Odobasic said. The commission learned about the grave from local people, who said they had heard detonations from the mine in 1994. Bosnian Serb army forces had sealed the area off at the time. BELIEVED VICTIMS OF SREBRENICA Another team working at the Cancari mass grave in eastern Bosnia had exhumed 224 bodies, believed to be victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims, the head of the team told Reuters. Murat Hurtic said the experts had finished excavating the Cancari grave, located near Zvornik on the border with Yugoslavia some 40 km (24 miles) northwest of Srebrenica. The bodies would be transferred to the northern town of Tuzla for identification at a specialised DNA laboratory where samples extracted from remains would be compared with blood from Srebrenica survivors, he said. Hurtic said his team was preparing to excavate another site in the village of Kamenica, also in the Zvornik region, which was believed to hold at least 100 Srebrenica victims. Investigators from the U.N. war crimes tribunal would take part in the exhumation, he said, as the evidence may be used in cases linked to the Srebrenica massacre, widely regarded as Europe's worst atrocity since World War Two. Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and his former military chief Ratko Mladic have been charged by the Hague-based tribunal with orchestrating the massacre. They remain at large. The bodies of more than 4,500 Srebrenica victims have been found so far in individual and mass graves or scattered in woods in eastern Bosnia, including more than 430 bodies discovered at the Glogova mass grave, regarded as the largest single site. Some 20,000 Bosnians, including 17,000 Muslims, remain unaccounted for after the war.
2 October, 2001, 21:14 GMT 22:14 UK Bosnian Serbs adopt war crimes law Radovan Karadzic's arrest could be drawing nearer The Bosnian Serb parliament has finally adopted a law on co-operating with the international war crimes tribunal. The long-awaited decision could bring closer the arrest of the tribunal's two most-wanted men - former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, and military commander Ratko Mladic. We would like to see action rather than words Tribunal spokesman Jim Landale Both men are believed to be hiding on Bosnian Serb territory. Tribunal officials say the Bosnian Serbs should now start arresting war crimes suspects rather than just pledging to co-operate. "We would like to see action rather than words," said tribunal spokesman Jim Landale. The tribunal wanted "immediate and concrete signs of co-operation" from the Bosnian Serb republic, he said. Arrests The bill was adopted by a vote of 42 to 9 with 25 abstentions. Under the new law, the Bosnian Serb authorities within Bosnia have pledged to co-operate with the tribunal in bringing suspects to justice. Local police will have to arrest suspects and bring them before a local judge within 24 hours of receiving a request from an ICTY prosecutor. The judge then has another 24 hours to decide whether to detain the suspect and hand him over the indictment. Genocide charges Mr Karadzic and General Mladic were indicted five years ago by the tribunal on charges of genocide. Tribunal officials believe they and more than a dozen other suspects are hiding in the Bosnian Serb-controlled areas of the country. The Bosnian Serb authority is the last in the former Yugoslavia to hand over suspects, and it has faced increasing pressure to do so. It has previously resisted the idea of co-operating, saying that the tribunal is biased against Serbs.
18 Oct 2001 The Scotsman Right-wing outrage at Paris plaque to Algerian massacre Susan Bell In Paris THE unveiling in Paris of a memorial to Algerians killed during the bloody police repression of a peaceful march 40 years ago provoked anger yesterday. Police unions were outraged and right-wing MPs stormed out of parliament. Bertrand Delanoe, the socialist mayor of Paris who unveiled the plaque, is the first official to acknowledge publicly the massacre of 17 October, 1961, in which police fired at protesters and hurled others into the River Seine where an unkown number drowned. Witnesses said police also herded 12,000 into sports stadiums where some were tortured. The government initially claimed that only three people died during the demonstration, called by Algeria’s National Liberation Front against a curfew imposed on French Muslims during Algeria’s 1954-1962 battle against French rule. A judicial inquiry in 1999 revised the number of victims to "at least 48", but some activists say the toll may have run into the hundreds. The junior heritage minister, Michel Duffour, a communist, yesterday described the killings as a state crime. "It is no longer possible ... to ignore that there was crime covered up by the highest authorities of state," he said. The plaque, which is opposite national police headquarters near the Saint-Michel bridge, where many of the protesters were thrown to their deaths, reads "To the memory of the many Algerians who were victims of the bloody repression of the peaceful demonstration of October 17, 1961." During the unveiling ceremony, armed riot police kept several dozen far-right protesters at bay. Police unions joined the extreme Right in condemning the memorial as inappropriate. The anti-immigration National Front condemned "the anti-French aggression" while the National Republican Movement said it was "an insult to France". Police unions said the memorial was a blow to officers now fighting terrorism. Even the mainstream Right protested angrily, with the majority of opposition MPs storming out of parliament.
BBC 17 Oct 2001, Paris marks Algerian protest 'massacre' The plaque commemorates events 40 years ago The mayor of Paris has unveiled a controversial plaque in memory of up to 200 Algerians who are said to have been killed when police broke up a demonstration in the city exactly 40 years ago. Bertrand Delanoe unveiled the memorial near Saint Michel bridge, where at least 30 of the victims are believed to have been thrown into the River Seine, French La Chaine Info television reported. There are parts of Paris's history which are painful, but which have to be talked about Mayor Bertrand Delanoe The plaque reads: "In memory of the numerous Algerians killed during the bloody suppression of the peaceful demonstration on 17 October 1961." The centre and right-wing opposition on Paris City Council boycotted the ceremony, saying that reviving the issue could cause unrest between the various communities in France, while police unions have also protested about it. Call for unity But the socialist mayor said after the ceremony: "There are parts of Paris's history which are painful, but which have to be talked about and which have to be accompanied by acts." Delanoe says the memorial is not anti-police He added that the event was not aimed against anyone, especially not the police. "It is an act which I wanted to carry out soberly, but clearly and in a spirit of unity and fraternity and the time that we are living through is a time for unity," he said. The far-right National Front described the plaque as "particularly obnoxious at this time of terrorist threats". Up to 30,000 people attended the 1961 protest, organised by the Algerian National Liberation Front, against a curfew on Algerians in the city. The curfew had been introduced by Paris's prefect of police at the time, Maurice Papon. Official figures say three people died, but historians put the figure at between 32 and 200. Demonstrators were rounded up by the police and beaten in metro stations, while others were shot or drowned in the river, but the incidents went virtually unreported at the time. "Massacre cover up" Historian and member of the Human Rights League Gilles Manseron said: "A massacre of this size was able to take place in the centre of Paris and was then covered up using a certain number of means, which the state must be able to shed light on." One of the demonstrators arrested by police The National Liberation Front's armed wing was fighting for Algerian independence from France, and the television said around 30 French policemen had been killed in attacks. One retired officer, Pierre Francois, told the television: "In a way it was that which led to what happened." Deputies walk out After the unveiling, some centre and right-wing deputies walked out of the National Assembly in protest, after the war veterans minister replied to a question by saying the curfew was applied on the basis of physical appearance. The unveiling follows other recent moves in France to look again at the Algerian civil war. A general is facing trial after admitting he tortured Algerian prisoners, and last month the country officially commemorated the Harkis - Algerians who fought on the French side, thousands of whom were killed after Algeria became independent.
Le Monde 16 Oct 2001 Le massacre du 17 octobre 1961 obtient un début de reconnaissance officielle Le maire de Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, devait inaugurer mercredi une plaque dédiée aux "nombreux Algériens tués lors de la sanglante répression de la manifestation pacifique du 17 octobre 1961". La droite parisienne estime, par la voix de Claude Goasguen, que ce geste est une "provocation". Quarante ans après le 17 octobre 1961, la répression policière de la manifestation pacifique des Algériens de Paris est en passe d'intégrer l'histoire de France. Il aura fallu dix années de luttes menées par des enfants de l'immigration algérienne, soutenus par des associations antiracistes récemment rejointes par des intellectuels, pour effacer trente ans de dénégation et d'oubli. Un début de reconnaissance officielle est aujourd'hui accordé à la répression sanglante de ce défilé pacifique organisé à Paris par le FLN afin de protester contre le couvre-feu imposé aux "Français musulmans d'Algérie" par le préfet de police de l'époque, Maurice Papon. Le maire (PS) de Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, conformément à un engagement pris pendant la campagne des municipales, doit dévoiler, mercredi 17 octobre au matin, la première plaque commémorative de France. Les vifs débats qui ont accompagné sa rédaction témoignent de la multiplicité des mémoires de la guerre d'Algérie. Plusieurs manifestations artistiques appuient cet événement en Ile-de-France comme en province (Le Monde du 16 octobre), tandis qu'un défilé est organisé, mercredi en fin d'après-midi à Paris. Une quarantaine d'associations, syndicats et partis politiques (PCF, LO, LCR) appellent à parcourir l'itinéraire de la manifestation du FLN entre le métro Bonne-Nouvelle et le pont Saint-Michel, d'où des Algériens ont été jetés dans la Seine le 17 octobre 1961. Ils réclament "la reconnaissance officielle de ce crime contre l'humanité", "le libre accès aux archives", "la création d'un lieu du souvenir à la mémoire des victimes" et "l'introduction et l'étude de ces événements dans les programmes et les manuels scolaires". "Il est temps que les évidences s'imposent, commente Mehdi Lallaoui, réalisateur de télévision et animateur de l'association Au nom de la mémoire, qui milite depuis la fin des années1980 pour la reconnaissance des événements du 17 octobre, auxquels son père a participé. En 1991, les chaînes de télévision nous jetaient quand on leur proposait un documentaire sur octobre 1961 : la réalité était niée. On partait de très loin. A présent que les faits sont établis, on peut les nommer, les reconnaître. Lorsque ce sera fait, nous pourrons sortir de la séquence “douleur” et consacrer toutes nos forces à la fraternité." EXTRÊME "SOBRIÉTÉ" DU TEXTE Pourtant, ceux qui, comme M. Lallaoui, attendent "une parole libératrice" de la part des autorités risquent d'être déçus. Le maire de Paris ne prononcera en effet aucun discours en inaugurant la plaque "à la mémoire des nombreux Algériens tués lors de la sanglante répression de la manifestation pacifique du 17 octobre 1961". Le lieu retenu témoigne déjà de la difficulté de l'exercice : l'objet sera scellé sur le pont Saint-Michel, non du côté du 5e arrondissement, dont le maire (RPR) est Jean Tiberi, mais dans le 4e, chez la socialiste Dominique Bertinotti. L'endroit, à l'angle du quai du Marché-Neuf, fait précisément face à la préfecture de police. M. Delanoë revendique l'extrême "sobriété" du texte de la plaque, voté le 24 septembre, par le Conseil de Paris après un débat houleux. "Nous ne sommes ni des historiens ni des procureurs", déclare-t-il, jugeant "plus efficace, après les polémiques qu'il y a eu et qu'il y a", de s'en tenir "à un acte fort dédié à la mémoire". C'est donc entouré des seuls membres de l'exécutif parisien et d'élus des groupes socialistes, communistes, Verts et du Mouvement des citoyens que le maire de Paris devait, en silence, procéder à cette inauguration. Aucun membre du gouvernement n'a été convié, assure-t-on à l'Hôtel de Ville, à l'exception du ministre de l'intérieur, Daniel Vaillant, qui l'a été en tant qu'élu parisien. "Je l'ai beaucoup vu ces temps-ci, nous a déclaré le maire de Paris, mais c'est un sujet que nous n'avons pas abordé." L'embarras de M. Vaillant est sans doute lié à l'attitude des syndicats de policiers, qui voient d'un mauvais œil l'hommage rendu aux victimes du 17 octobre 1961. Dénonçant "l'attitude irresponsable de certains hommes politiques", Alliance, organisation majoritaire au sein de la police parisienne, affirme que "l'évocation d'une période particulièrement douloureuse de notre Histoire ne peut avoir pour conséquence que d'éloigner la police nationale des Français". Le SGP-FO, de son côté, estime que le maire devrait "faire de même pour tous les policiers (…) assassinés (…) par le FLN". Le maire de la capitale apparaît ainsi bien seul pour assumer une initiative qui, faute de mieux, restera "strictement parisienne". La Ligue des droits de l'homme ne s'y est pas trompée. Tout en se félicitant du geste des élus parisiens, l'association juge que "cette démarche serait incomplète si les plus hautes autorités de la République devaient rester silencieuses sur le sujet". Les débats au Conseil de Paris, le 24 septembre, sur le projet de délibération concernant la plaque du pont Saint-Michel, avaient, dès la rentrée, donné le ton de la controverse qui se développe à l'approche de la date anniversaire. Les groupes d'opposition RPR, UDF, DL et tibéristes, qui ont voté contre ce texte, avaient contesté, comme Claude Goasguen, conseiller de Paris (DL), "un devoir plus que sélectif de mémoire" et réclamé "que le gouvernement algérien reconnaisse aussi ses torts". "Est-ce véritablement le moment d'aller donner des arguments à tous les extrémistes musulmans ?", avait poursuivi M. Goasguen, qui avait conclu à une "provocation". Sur un autre plan, Philippe Séguin, président du groupe RPR, avait affirmé que "les origines et le déroulement de l'événement du 17 octobre 1961 restaient à préciser", avant de dénoncer une "approche manichéenne" de l'Histoire et de juger "inutile de rouvrir des controverses". UNE AUTRE RÉDACTION REJETÉE Pour la plaque, M. Séguin avait proposé une autre rédaction, qui a été rejetée par la majorité municipale : "La guerre d'Algérie est un moment particulièrement douloureux de notre histoire, indiquait ce texte. Ces lieux ont servi de cadre à l'un de ses épisodes les plus controversés. Ici, le 17 octobre 1961, un grand nombre d'Algériens perdirent la vie pour la cause qu'ils s'étaient choisie." Finalement, la droite avait quitté momentanément l'Hémicycle parce qu'un élu Vert, Sylvain Garrel, avait évoqué "un crime de masse ordonné et couvert par les plus hautes instances de l'Etat", en prononçant le nom du général de Gaulle, alors président de la République, ainsi que ceux de Maurice Papon, préfet de police, Roger Frey, ministre de l'intérieur, et Michel Debré, premier ministre. Philippe Bernard et Christine Garin -------Une violence "injustifiable" pour 45 % des Français Moins d'un Français sur deux a "entendu parler" de la répression de la manifestation algérienne du 17 octobre 1961 et seul un sur cinq sait "de quoi il s'agit", selon un sondage CSA publié le 13 octobre par L'Humanité hebdo, tandis qu'une majorité de l'opinion ignore tout de l'événement. Cette faible notoriété n'empêche pas 45 % des personnes interrogées d'estimer qu'il s'agit d'"un acte condamnable que rien ne peut justifier", 33 % étant d'un avis contraire et 22 % ne se prononçant pas. 41 % des personnes interrogées se sont déclarées défavorables à une "condamnation officielle de la part des autorités françaises", que 39 %, en revanche, attendent. Sur cette question, les sympathisants du Parti communiste sont les plus convaincus (65 % d'opinions favorables), suivis par les proches du PS (50 %). Les opposants à une condamnation officielle sont plus nombreux chez les proches de l'extrême droite (59 %), de l'UDF (58 %) et du RPR (41 %).
AP 17 Oct 2001 Witnesses sought to 1944 Nazi massacre PROSECUTORS investigating a former Nazi SS leader over executions in Italy at the end of the Second World War yesterday said they were seeking former German soldiers who may have witnessed the massacres. About 200 possible witnesses in the investigation of Friedrich Engel have been identified with the aid of an Italian historian, Carlo Gentile, Hamburg prosecutors said in a statement. Engel, 92, who headed the SS in Genoa at the end of the war, has acknowledged he was "jointly responsible" for the killing of 59 Italian prisoners of war in Genoa in 1944. However, he denies ever killing anybody or giving an order to kill. Engel’s case drew attention after German television aired a documentary on him. Hamburg authorities investigated Engel in 1969, but the case was dropped for reasons that are not known. Hamburg prosecutors opened a new investigation against Engel in 1998. Germany does not extradite its citizens, but tries them at home.
BBC 3 Oct 2001, Neo-Nazis march in Berlin Neo-Nazi activity has been on the rise since reunification A German neo-Nazi march in Berlin has passed off peacefully, despite fears of clashes with anti-fascist demonstrators A huge police deployment accompanied the march, by the National Democratic Party (NPD). Several hundred people took part in the the parade along Berlin's main shopping street, the Kurfuerstendamm, organized to mark the eleventh anniversary of German reunification. More anti-racism protestors were expected to gather for their own rally later in the day on Wednesday, as the German parliamentary speaker, Wolfgang Thierse, urged greater tolerance all round. "We celebrate the day of reunification not only with the old East-West questions, but also with new and perhaps even ancient questions of how different people with different beliefs can get along," he told German radio. Still legal Several groups hostile to the NPD wanted the march banned, but the city's regional government decided against such a move, believing it would simply be overturned by the local courts. Germany's constitutional court is currently considering an outright ban on the NPD, which is widely believed to be linked with a string of violent attacks on immigrants and minority groups. Mr Schroeder's proposed ban may be counter-productive The German Government has made clear that it holds the party responsible for inciting racial violence, but outlawing the group has proved difficult. Cabinet and parliament agreed last year on a ban, but the constitutional court must be convinced that the NPD is a threat to democracy before it abolishes the party. Because it is little more than a fringe party, with just several thousand members, such a threat may be hard to establish. Some observers note that the status of the NPD - which wants an end to further immigration - could be enhanced if the court rules that the ban is unconstitutional. Dangers of ban Others worry that banning such a group would simply push it underground, possibly producing an even more virulent form of racism. Only two political parties have been banned in post-war Germany. The successor of the Nazi Party was outlawed immediately after World War II, and the Communist Party was banned in West Germany in the 1950s. Choosing Kurfuerstendamm as the scene of a rally was seen as particularly symbolic, as Jews once owned many of the shops there before the Nazis took power in 1933. Many were forced to sell their property well below the going market rate as part of the Nazi "Ayrianisation" programme, before fleeing abroad or being sent to concentration camps.
Guardian (UK) 24 Oct 2001 Victims of Provos' violence who cannot forget Shankill family suspect secret deal behind disarmament Rosie Cowan, Ireland correspondent For the two dozen people gathered for a minute's silence in the cool autumn sunshine in the memorial garden on Belfast's Shankill Road, news that the IRA has started to decommission its weapons is eight years too late. Frizzells' fish shop was packed with Saturday shoppers at 1.08pm on October 23 1993 when the Provisionals set off a big bomb, ripping the heart out of this tight-knit Protestant community. The IRA's intended targets were leaders of the loyalist paramilitary group, the Ulster Defence Association, who used offices above the shop. But they were not there at the time. The blast killed 10 people, mostly women and children, and seriously injured 57, including two babies. Police, firemen and local people dug with their bare hands to try to rescue the wounded. One of the bombers, Thomas Begley, 23, was among the dead, and at a large republican funeral the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams carried his coffin. Last year the other bomber, Sean Kelly, was freed early from the Maze prison under the terms of the Good Friday agreement on power sharing in the north. Bobby and Evelyn Baird lost their only daughter, Evelyn, 27, her partner, Michael Morrison, also 27, and the couple's seven-year-old daughter, Michelle. The three had gone out to pick up a wreath for Michael's father, who had just died in hospital. Bobby and Evelyn senior were left to bring up the young couple's other two children, Darren, nine, and Lauren, who was six weeks old when her parents were killed. As in the thousands of families bereaved over the years in Northern Ireland, time has not lessened their grief, and they are deeply sceptical about any IRA move - and, indeed, the entire peace process. Mr Baird suspects the government has done a secret deal with the Provisionals to bring about disarmament. "I couldn't believe it when Tony Blair said he would throw his weight behind the fight to combat international terrorism," he said. "The IRA has been tied up with international terrorists for years. They got their guns from Libya; they're in Colombia. A terrorist is a terrorist, whether they fly a plane into the World Trade Centre or bomb a fish shop on the Shankill Road. The IRA has murdered 42 people on this road since 1971. It's a form of genocide to drive Protestants out." Mrs Baird would like to think her grandchildren are growing up in a better world, but she is not convinced. "Gerry Adams might be a politician now and wear a fancy suit but I'll never see him as anything but the man who carried the coffin of my daughter's murderer," she said. "We don't forget. I want decommissioning, there's no need for anyone to have bombs and bullets. It should have happened years ago and it's too late for us. The IRA ceasefire  was too late for us. But if it saves lives, that's good. "Darren's 17 now and Lauren's eight. They've lost their mummy and daddy, but if they can live in a better world than we did, I'm glad. But I don't think the IRA will ever give it all up. They would have to go a long way to prove it for me."
Irish Times (Dublin) 1 Oct 2001 Reprisal by US could be a war crime, says Galway professor William Schabas Any act of reprisal by the US government for last month's attack on America could constitute a war crime, according to the director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway, Prof William Schabas. Prof Schabas,an expert in international law from Canada who has worked in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, has said that the anger of the victims and their families can well be understood. However, the attacks were not a threat to democracy, he says. "Democratic regimes have survived far worse. It is the reaction to terrorism that destroys democracies. "Some American politicians now argue that criminal justice is inadequate because the events of September 11th were 'an act of war' ", he has noted. "But according to international law, we must know what state committed it. A group of individuals, even numbering in the hundreds, cannot commit an 'act of war' ". The Galway-based academic made his comments as he prepared to host a conference in NUI Galway last week on international abolition of the death penalty. "Modern democracies have perfectly adequate justice systems for dealing with terrorists," he emphasised. "We track them down, catch them, bring them to trial and impose fit punishment. "That is what the US and Britain did with those responsible for the Lockerbie crash, and for the US embassy bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. It is what the United Nations is doing for those accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. "How much more healthy it is for democracy that Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian leader, be judged by an international court rather than murdered by a Cruise missile aimed at his home. As for the two Lockerbie defendants, one was acquitted by Scottish judges earlier this year. Had the advocates of assassination and summary execution prevailed in that case, an innocent man would have been killed in the name of democracy's war on terrorism." He added: "Perhaps those who harbour terrorists may themselves be accomplices in an 'act of war'. But let us remember the last time this bold claim was made, in 1914, when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia because a Serb nationalist had assassinated its archduke. It unleashed a cascade of belligerent declarations justified by an earlier equivalent of article five of the NATO treaty. "We now look back in horror and bewilderment at how an overreaction to terrorism, in the name of punishment and retribution, provoked a chain of events that ultimately slaughtered an entire generation of European youth." Any act of reprisal that took civilian casualties or was directed against civilian objects was forbidden under international law, he said. "It is a war crime. To the extent that reprisals are allowed at all, they must target purely military objectives." International solidarity should not become "a pretext for promoting a US political agenda that has little to do with catching the perpetrators and preventing future crimes," he said. "The right to life of thousands of innocent civilians in New York city and Washington has been egregiously violated. But that same right also belongs without exception to civilians in Belgrade, Baghdad and Kabul."
WP 1 Oct 2001 editorial Italy Humiliated Page A20 ITALIAN PRIME Minister Silvio Berlusconi humiliated his nation last week with his deeply dangerous rantings about Islam. "We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and -- in contrast with Islamic countries -- respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its values understandings of diversity and tolerance," he told a press conference. The West, he added, "will continue to conquer peoples, like it conquered Communism," even if that means confronting "another civilization, the Islamic one, stuck where it was 1,400 years ago." Particularly in a climate in which reprisal attacks against Arabs and Muslims -- and people taken for Arabs and Muslims -- are disgustingly common, such remarks are simply unacceptable. All the more so from a head of government of a major American ally. Western leaders have, since the Sept. 11 attacks, bent over backward to distinguish the struggle against terrorism from a fight against Muslims or Islam more generally. This distinction, for which Mr. Berlusconi apparently has no patience, is critical -- and not just because any anti-terror coalition needs the cooperation of many Islamic countries to succeed. The notion that Islam sanctions mass murder is a slander, one that transforms a battle between humanity and terror into an existential confrontation that nobody can afford or should desire. The growing global alliance has no quarrel with Islam. It has a fight only with those, of whatever religious persuasion, who take up arms against civilians. To lose sight of that distinction is to accept Osama bin Laden's invitation to jihad. Days later, Mr. Berlusconi apologized -- sort of -- saying he was sorry if his comments had hurt Arabs or Muslims. His words, he said, had been "taken out of context." On that point, at least, he's right. They are from a different century.
BBC 2 October, 2001, Dubrovnik siege suspects named The medieval city of Dubrovnik was badly damaged Four former Yugoslav army and navy commanders charged with war crimes for their alleged role in the siege of the Croatian city of Dubrovnik in 1991 have been named. The indictment, which had remained sealed since being issued in February, was disclosed by the war crimes tribunal at The Hague on Tuesday after Yugoslav authorities failed to arrest the men. Pavle Strugar, Miodrag Jokic, Milan Zec and Vladimir Kovacevic are charged in connection with the bombardment of the medieval walled city by Yugoslav forces. Dozens of people were killed and the city was partly destroyed during shelling by the Yugoslav army, navy and airforce, which lasted from October to December. The men are charged with the murders of 43 civilians. They are also accused of causing wilful damage to historic monuments and the wanton destruction of villages near Dubrovnik. 'Wanton destruction' Yugoslav forces, supporting a Serb rebellion in Dubrovnik, attacked the historic port city after Croatia declared independence from the federal republic in June 1991. The chief war crimes prosecutor called for the men's immediate arrest The city, known as the Pearl of the Adriatic, is a United Nations World Heritage Site and seemed to have little military value. A 1993 survey put the cost of rebuilding and repairing buildings damaged in the bombardment at over $9m. In March, the Chief Prosecutor at The Hague, Carla Del Ponte, said sealed indictments had been issued against unnamed Serbs and Montenegrins serving in the Yugoslav federal army for the bombing of Dubrovnik. Issuing the indictments, the tribunal called the artillery attacks one of the biggest acts of wanton destruction committed during the break-up of the old Yugoslavia. After the suspects' names were made public on Tuesday, Ms Del Ponte called for the men to be arrested immediately.
AFP 23 Oct 2001 Six civilians, 17 rebels killed in Chechnya: reports SLEPTSOVSK, Ingushetia, Six Chechen civilians were killed and several others wounded when Russian troops fired on a minibus near the town of Argun, 15 kilometres (nine miles) east of the capital Grozny, the rebel leadership claimed Tuesday. The minibus was passing a control post, on its way to Grozny, when federal troops hunting rebel guerrillas opened fire on the vehicle, a spokesman for Chechen separatist president Aslan Maskhadov told AFP. Meanwhile, Russian troops killed 17 Chechen rebels in a series of clashes across the breakaway republic over the past 24 hours, the federal military told ITAR-TASS news agency on Tuesday. Around 30 people were also arrested on suspicion of rebel activity as Russian special troops carried out over 22 "mopping up" operations in the Nozhai-Yurt, Vedeno and Itum-Kale districts of Chechnya, ITAR-TASS said. Meanwhile, federal troops discovered 31 secret arms depots and seized rockets, anti-tank guided missiles, grenade launchers, machine guns and other weapons, Russian army sources told Interfax. Moscow has been fighting a two-year war against separatist guerrillas in the southern republic of Chechnya since launching its "anti-terrorist" intervention on October 1, 1999.
BBC 5 Oct 2001 Mixed reactions to Turkey's reforms By Nick Thorpe in Istanbul The Turkish parliament has voted overwhelmingly to overhaul the restrictive 1982 constitution, in a move intended to improve the country's chances of joining the European Union. Thirty-four amendments were passed - many of them after almost 20 years of protests by human rights groups and foreign observers. Despite the reforms, Ocalan can still be executed The package has been hailed as a success by many, especially considering the unfavourable climate for human rights issues, in the aftermath of the 11 September attacks in the United States. But critics say that three other amendments, which failed to win the necessary three-fifths majority, as well as remaining problems with the constitution, will still cripple Turkey's bid to join the EU. Copenhagen criteria Turkey was recognised as a candidate for membership at the Helsinki summit in 1999, but will only be allowed to begin substantive talks once political and economic conditions - known as the Copenhagen criteria - are met. "A great step has been taken in order to improve our democracy," Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit told parliament after the vote. The reforms Death penalty limited Broadcasts allowed in Kurdish Restrictions lifted on public rallies More civilians in National Security Council Detention period for suspects reduced Among the most significant changes is the abolition of the death penalty, except for terrorist offences, or in times of war. No executions have taken place in Turkey since 1984, but the amendment was carefully drafted to leave open the possibility that the Kurdish guerrilla leader, Abdullah Ocalan, can still be executed. He was sentenced to death in December 1999 for organising a 15-year uprising of Kurds in Turkey. Kurdish issue The rights of the estimated 12 million Kurds in Turkey remain extremely restricted, even after the current amendments. They are still not recognised as a minority, and have no right to education in their own language. Kurds will be able to broadcast in their own language They will, however, now be allowed, in principle, to broadcast in Kurdish. Broadcasts can still be banned if they are judged to threaten "national security" and "public safety". The right to free expression has also been increased. Under the 1982 constitution, anti-state 'comments' were judged to be a crime - this has led to the trial and imprisonment of dozens of intellectuals and public figures. Now, only anti-state 'activities' are a criminal offence. More civilian powers Other key amendments to the constitution will make it harder to ban political parties, and will increase the number of civilians on the all-powerful national security council, which has until now been dominated by the military. Some police powers will also be reduced. The period allowed to the police to detain suspects without charge is reduced from 15 to four days. The holding of public rallies will also become somewhat easier. Domestic and international reaction to the changes has been mixed. Western diplomats have cautiously welcomed them, as a milestone on Turkey's path to the EU. International human rights groups have expressed disappointment. "The Turkish parliament turned what could have been a defining moment of change into just another lost opportunity," said Elizabeth Andersen, of Human Rights Watch in Washington. Three amendments failed Three important amendments failed to win the necessary three-fifths majority. One will make it harder for two popular Islamists, Necmettin Erbakan and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, currently banned, to return to politics. Mr Erbakan was briefly prime minister in 1997, before his Welfare Party was banned. He is now the driving force behind the Felicity Party (SP). His rival, Mr Erdogan, rose to prominence as mayor of Istanbul, and now heads the White Party (AK). The party defines itself as "modern, European, and conservative" and was only founded in July. It now leads opinion polls. Another amendment that failed to be adopted would have made it easier to lift the immunity from prosecution of parliamentary deputies. Corruption in high places plagues Turkish politics.
BBC 22 Oct 2001 Bomb blast children 'lucky to be alive' Niidmn Quigley points to where the device fell One of two young Catholic girls injured by a loyalist blast bomb in north Belfast has said she was lucky not to have been more seriously hurt. A senior police officer has said the two children injured by the bomb were lucky to be alive. The attack left an eight-year-old girl with a shrapnel wound to her back and 11-year-old Neidiin Quigley with extensive shock. RUC Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan said it was a "dreadful attack". He said: "We believe at this stage that it was some form of blast device and that it was thrown from the loyalist side towards the nationalists and that the children injured were on the nationalist side." They need to be captured, prosecuted and locked up where their poisonous sectarian hatred can do no damage John Reid Northern Ireland Secretary The bomb was thrown over the rooftops of a row of terraced houses at about 2030 BST on Sunday during continuing sectarian clashes in Limestone Road, north Belfast. Neidiin Quigley said the device hit her chest and landed in front of her. The device exploded and injured her friend. "There was a bang of it and I was really scared," she said. "I didn't have anything against the people who did this, because there are good people there, but there are also bad people. "The way they are treating us - they are just worthless and pathetic. I think nothing of them." Clashes Earlier, a Protestant man was wounded when shots were fired from the nationalist side of the clashes on the Limestone Road. Rioting resumed at Limestone Road/Halliday's Road on Monday at about 0100 BST, with petrol bombs being thrown at police. There were clashes on the Limestone Road Large numbers of fireworks were also being used as missiles. The bomb attack was condemned by the Northern Ireland Secretary, John Reid, who described as "quite simply, scum" the rioters who threw the device. "They bring disgrace on all of us in Northern Ireland," he said. "They need to be captured, prosecuted and locked up where their poisonous sectarian hatred can do no damage." Rival groups The children, who are in a stable condition in hospital, were hurt as rival groups continued to throw fireworks at each other at several spots in north Belfast. The 26-year-old Protestant shooting victim underwent emergency surgery at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital for a chest wound. Eddie McClean, a community worker in Halliday's Road, said republicans had been firing shots into the area for more than four months. Alan McQuillan: "Dreadful attack" "This is the first concrete evidence with this young fellow being shot - luckily there were no people shot before this," he said. The nationalist SDLP assembly member for the area, Alban Maginness, said somebody would be killed if the violence did not stop. The Democratic Unionist Party MP for North Belfast, Nigel Dodds, accused the IRA of being behind the gun attack. But Mr McQuillan said that while the firing point for the shooting had been found on the nationalist side, it was too early to say which organisation was responsible. Meanwhile, police have seized a box containing 743 bangers at the back of a house off the Limestone Road. They also found a container of petrol, two five litre tins of paint, 12 petrol bombs and a large quantity of empty bottles during a search in Rabina Street on Monday. No arrests were made.
BBC 2 Oct 2001 Blair promises to stand by Africa Blair has pledged to make Africa a priority British Prime Minister Tony Blair has described the current state of poverty in Africa as "a scar on our consciences". And he said that if the world as a community focused on it, it could be healed but if not "it will become deeper and angrier". In his speech to the annual Labour party conference, Mr Blair called on the international community to back a partnership for Africa, between the developed and developing world based around the New African Initiative. "This would offer greater investment, aid and debt relief for Africa," he said. Blair is ready to use troops in Africa again "But it's a deal: On the African side: true democracy, no more excuses for dictatorship, abuses of human rights; no tolerance of bad governance, from the endemic corruption of some states, to the activities of Mr Mugabe's henchmen in Zimbabwe. Proper commercial, legal and financial systems." In a speech which correspondents described as ambitious, Mr Blair spoke of a "moral duty" to provide international military and humanitarian action in countries anywhere. "If the world continues to ignore the sufferings of African nations, like in the war- ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo, it would breed anger and frustration which would threaten global stability," he said. No walking away Mr Blair also mentioned the world's inaction during the 1994 genocide in which nearly around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were massacred by Hutu extremists. World should never let another Rwanda happen And he promised: "If Rwanda happens again we would not walk away as the outside world has done many times before." Declassified documents obtained by a US non-governmental agency had showed that the United States knew in advance that the 1994 Rwandan genocide was likely to happen but nevertheless insisted that United Nations peacekeepers should be withdrawn. Following his government's intervention in Sierra Leone's civil war, Mr Blair indicated that he would be ready to use British troops to implement future peace plans. During last May's British election campaign, Mr Blair promised that he wanted to make Africa a key priority during his second term in office. He followed that up with a meeting last month with some African leaders to discuss his proposed partnership with the continent.
BBC 3 Oct 2001 Hate crime laws to be tightened -Ministers say genuine immigrants have nothing to fear Measures to combat religious hate crimes and overhaul the asylum and immigration systems are set to be announced by Home Secretary David Blunkett. Mr Blunkett will tell the Labour Party conference on Tuesday that the laws on incitement will be extended to cover religious, as well as racial, hatred. The move comes amid concern over attacks on members of the UK's Muslim community following the suicide attacks on the US on 11 September. An overhaul of the work permit system will be put forward as a way of defusing the debate over asylum and immigration. New extradition laws will be introduced, new rules to ensure asylum is not a front for terrorist entry Tony Blair Mr Blunkett is also expected to use his speech to try to ease union concern over the controversial asylum seekers' vouchers and dispersal schemes by promising to complete and announce the results of the long-running review by the end of the month. The Home Secretary is expected to say that he is determined to ensure that religion is not used to divide and fragment communities. He will say that he intends to toughen up incitement laws so that the right of free speech cannot be abused to stir up racial hatred. The new incitement offence will cover all religions, not just Islam. The Home Secretary also wants to look at introducing a new work permit system, with four key changes introduced. The first would be the introduction in January next year of a highly skilled migrant's permit, which would allow people with significant professional qualifications to enter the country without a job, in order to seek work, providing they have the means to support themselves. Overseas students who graduate in the UK will be also able to apply for a work permit without leaving the country. Discussion are planned with employers and unions about the potential for a system of quota-based permits for those parts of the economy handicapped by severe labour shortages. Finally, there would be temporary permits for seasonal workers. He is expected to say that the measures would aim to tackle illegal immigration while ensuring the economy benefits from opening up opportunities for foreign workers. His words, although significant, are bound to be overshadowed by continuing domestic and international reaction to Tony Blair's milestone speech on Tuesday. Stark warning In it he spoke of the need for urgent legislative reform in the wake of the 11 September terror attacks on the United States. Extradition and asylum rules had to be changed so they could not be used as a "front" for terrorist entry, the prime minister declared. But he also issued assurances that citizens would not be denied their basic freedoms. Mr Blair's sombre speech was dominated by world events and the fight against global terrorism. Although stopping short of a near-declaration of war predicted by some, Mr Blair did issue a stark warning to Afghanistan's ruling Taleban regime. Military action against them and Osama Bin Laden was now inevitable, he suggested, adding that there was a moral need to take on the terrorists responsible for the US attacks.
Guardian (UK) 27 Oct 2001 Kosovo atrocities were coordinated from the top, says human rights group Ian Black, European editor A leading human rights group said yesterday it had evidence that the former Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, and senior figures around him were responsible for war crimes committed in Kosovo. In a report issued three days before Mr Milosevic next appears at the Hague war crimes tribunal, Human Rights Watch said some of those who coordinated the 1999 sweep of the Albanian-majority province remain in senior Belgrade jobs. "The 1999 Kosovo campaign was clearly coordinated from the top, and some of these people still hold important positions," said Elizabeth Andersen of Human Rights Watch. The report names the current army chief, Nebojsa Pavkovic, and the head of public security for Serbia's police force, Sreten Lukic. In 1999 Mr Pavkovic commanded the Yugoslav Third Army, which covered Kosovo; Mr Lukic headed the uniformed police there. Mr Milosevic is accused of "command responsibility" for the Kosovo atrocities. He denies the charges. On Monday, when he attends his third pre-trial hearing, prosecutors are to introduce amendments to the original indictment against him arising from events in Kosovo between March and June 1999 - probably taking into account evidence from a mass grave near Belgrade thought to contain Kosovan victims buried in Serbia to conceal their deaths. He is also expected to face new charges arising from the war in Croatia in 1991. The 593-page report by Human Rights Watch, which is based in New York, lists 3,453 Kosovo killings said to have been carried out by government forces; but it also believes the toll was higher. EU foreign ministers are to sign an association agreement with Croatia on Monday, a mark of its improved standing partly as a result of its cooperation with the Hague tribunal. · A Belgrade court yesterday convicted three people, one of them still at large, for the murder of the Serb warlord Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic in January last year in Belgrade. Arkan had also been charged with war crimes in Bosnia. The court sentenced Dobrosav Gavric, 25, an off-duty policeman, to 20 years for pulling the trigger. Milan Djuricic, 30, and Dragan Nikolic, 35, got 15 years each. Nikolic was sentenced in his absence.
HRW 26 Oct 2001 In-Depth Report Documents Milosevic Crimes Shqip Srpski New Statistics Show Direction from Belgrade Pristina, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his inner circle of political and military leaders are responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Kosovo, Human Rights Watch said today, three days before Milosevic's next hearing at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The 593-page report released today, "Under Orders: War Crimes in Kosovo," uses innovative statistical methods and comprehensive field research to document the torture, killings, rapes, and forced expulsions committed by forces under Milosevic's command against Kosovar Albanians between March 24 and June 12, 1999, the period of NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia. More than 600 victims and witnesses of atrocities were interviewed for the report. "This report implicates the former leadership of Serbia and Yugoslavia in numerous atrocities," said Elizabeth Andersen, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch's Europe and Central Asia division. "The 1999 Kosovo campaign was clearly coordinated from the top, and some of these people still hold important positions today." War crimes committed by Serbian and Yugoslav security forces did not occur in isolation, the Human Rights Watch report says. Three chapters of the report document abuses committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army, which abducted and murdered civilians during and after the war, as well as violations by NATO, which failed to minimize civilian casualties during its bombing of Yugoslavia. A background chapter analyzes Kosovo's recent history and the international community's failure to stop what is dubbed a "predictable conflict." For a decade the international community tolerated human rights abuses in Kosovo in the name of regional stability," Andersen said. "This report stresses the importance of promoting human rights before a conflict erupts, as well as accountability for past abuses to halt the cycle of violence." "Under Orders" breaks new ground in the depth and breadth of its documentation, including detailed case studies of dozens of villages, a statistical analysis of the abuses, photographs of perpetrators, a strategic overview of the Belgrade government's offensive, and the organizational structure of the Serbian police and Yugoslav army, both controlled by Milosevic. A statistical analysis of executions in Kosovo, prepared in collaboration with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), reveals the coordinated nature of the offensive. Three distinct waves of killings suggest the executions were not the result of random violence by government forces. Rather, "they were carefully planned and implemented operations that fit into the [Belgrade] government's strategic aims," the report concludes. Witness and survivor testimonies in village after village describe how Serbian and Yugoslav troops systematically burned homes, looted businesses, expelled civilians, and murdered those suspected of participating in or harboring the KLA, including some women and children. At some sites, witnesses reported that bodies were removed to conceal the crimes. This cover-up was apparently confirmed in 2001, when seven mass graves were discovered in Serbia proper containing the bodies of Kosovar Albanians. Rape and sexual violence were also components of the campaign, the report says, used to terrorize the civilian population, extort money from families, and push people to flee their homes. Human Rights Watch documented ninety-six cases of rape and sexual assault in Kosovo, although the total number of sexual assaults is certainly much higher. Human Rights Watch has urged the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to include rape charges in the indictment against Milosevic. A chapter entitled "Forces of the Conflict" details the various government troops involved in the conflict, as well as key members of the KLA. Important commanders in the Serbian police and Yugoslav Army, all listed in organizational diagrams, include: Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic, former Chief of the Yugoslav Army General Staff Col. Gen. Nebojsa Pavkovic, former head of the Yugoslav Army's Third Army Maj. Gen. Vladimir Lazarevic, former head of the Third Army's Pristina Corps Vlajko Stojiljkovic, former Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs Col. Gen. Radomir Markovic, former head of Serbia's state security service (SDB) Col. Sreten Lukic, former head of Serbian police in Kosovo Col. Gen. Vlastimir Djordjevic, former head of Serbia's public security service (RJB) Lt. Gen. Obrad Stevanovic, former head of Serbia's police department Despite his direct involvement in the 1999 campaign, Nebojsa Pavkovic is currently chief of the Yugoslav Army General Staff. Sreten Lukic is currently chief of public security in the Serbian police. Ojdanic and Stojiljkovic, both indicted by the ICTY for crimes in Kosovo, are still at large, as are two other Kosovo-related indictees, Nikola Sainovic, former Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister, and Milan Milutinovic, still the President of Serbia. The report also documents violations by NATO and the KLA. NATO bombs killed approximately 500 Yugoslav civilians between March and June 1999, and NATO did not take adequate steps to minimize this number, the report concludes. NATO's use of cluster bombs, although halted in the course of the conflict, is also criticized in the report. Human Rights Watch also charged the KLA with committing serious abuses in 1998, in the course of fighting that led up to the NATO bombing. KLA abuses during this period included abductions and murders of Serbs and ethnic Albanians considered collaborators with the state. Elements of the KLA are also responsible for post-conflict attacks on Serbs, Roma, and other non-Albanians, as well as ethnic Albanian political rivals. As many as one thousand Serbs and Roma have been murdered or have gone missing since NATO bombing ceased on June 12, 1999. Criminal gangs or vengeful individuals may have been involved in some incidents since the war, but KLA members are clearly responsible for many of these crimes. By late-2000 more than 210,000 Serbs had fled Kosovo; most of them left in the first six weeks of the NATO deployment. Those who remain are concentrated in mono-ethnic enclaves. The international community's slow response after the bombing campaign is partially to blame for the post-war violence, the report concludes. The United Nations and NATO failed to take decisive action from the outset to curb the forced displacement and killings of Kosovo's non-ethnic Albanian population, which set a precedent for the post-war period. Two years after the war, a functioning judiciary system has not been established and an atmosphere of impunity persists. The report welcomes Milosevic's April 2001 arrest and his subsequent transfer to the ICTY. But Human Rights Watch urged further action by the Serbian authorities and the international community to hold accountable all those responsible for crimes committed during the war in Kosovo, as well as during the wars in other parts of the former Yugoslavia. "Holding Milosevic accountable is a first step," Andersen said. "But he is only one on a long list." http://www.hrw.org/press/2001/10/kosovo1026.htm
AP 26 Oct 2001 Former policeman sentenced to 20 years in prison for gunning down Serbian warlord BELGRADE, Yugoslavia A former policeman was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for gunning down Serbia's most notorious underworld boss and warlord. Dobrosav Gavric, 25, was convicted on three counts of murder in the gangland-style killings of Zeljko Raznatovic better known as Arkan and his two bodyguards in the lobby of a Belgrade hotel in January. Arkan, who led one of the most dreaded paramilitary units during the 1991-95 wars in Croatia and Bosnia, was under indictment by the U.N. tribunal in the Netherlands for war crimes when he was shot. His killing triggered speculation that former President Slobodan Milosevic a war crimes suspect who is now awaiting trial at the court in The Hague was trying to silence a potential witness against him. Arkan and his militia had close ties with the secret police of Serbia, the dominant Yugoslav republic. The Belgrade district court found seven others guilty of either being accomplices or aiding in the conspiracy to kill Arkan. Two received 15-year prison sentences, and five were sentenced to terms of up three years. In his closing address, Judge Dragojub Djordjevic said "much remains unclear" about the killings, including the motive and who might have organized Arkan's assassination. Arkan's sister, Jasna Diklic, who attended the sentencing, claimed Milosevic's secret service chief, Rade Markovic, was behind the killing. Markovic was sentenced to a year in prison earlier this year for destroying evidence in police archives after Milosevic's ouster a year ago. "I hope that Rade Markovic will never leave that prison, because he pulled the strings" behind Arkan's murder, Diklic told reporters. According to the indictment, gunmen approached Arkan as he sat in the lobby of Belgrade's Intercontinental Hotel and fired several times at him and the bodyguards. A third bodyguard was wounded but survived the Jan. 15 shooting, as did a woman in the lobby. Another suspect, Dragan Nikolic, remains at large and was sentenced in absentia to 15 years in prison as an accomplice. Gavric, a low-ranking police officer, pleaded innocent, claiming he was at the hotel for a cup of coffee and was unfairly accused.
Independent (UK) 22 Oct 2001 Yugoslav general flies to war crimes tribunal By Stephen Castle in Brussels A Yugoslav general accused of directing the bombardment of Dubrovnik in 1991, which killed 43 people and destroyed part of its historic centre, flew to The Hague yesterday after surrendering to the UN war crimes tribunal. Pavle Strugar, 68, was the first Yugoslav citizen to surrender voluntarily to the court. He claims he is innocent of the charges of murder and violation of the laws and customs of war. The artillery siege of Dubrovnik began in October 1991, a few months after the Croatian government under Franjo Tudjman declared its independence from Yugoslavia. The bombing of the UN World Cultural Heritage Site, known by many as the Pearl of the Adriatic, came to symbolise the brutality of the war. The attack served little strategic purpose because the city was practically defenceless and it was an entirely self- defeating act in terms of propaganda. Television viewers in the West were aghast at the sight of Dubrovnik's citizens cowering for protection beneath their ancient city walls as the baroque church domes and red-tiled roofs became pock-marked and shrouded in black smoke. But as he departed for the Netherlands, General Strugar insisted his military record was unblemished. "I was a soldier for 42 years. I have always worked in a dignified and human manner towards people and my country. I have been dignified and human in a war, too. I am not a criminal," he said. General Strugar had advertised his willingness to surrender to The Hague in advance but because of a kidney ailment had spent weeks in hospital in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica. Three others accused of masterminding the attack – Admiral Miodrag Jokic, Admiral Milan Zec and Captain Vladimir Kovacevic – have also been indicted by the court but remain at large, possibly in Serbia. If convicted they face a maximum sentence of life in prison. General Strugar's surrender came just ahead of a visit to the Balkans by Carla Del Ponte, the tribunal's chief prosecutor, who is expected to press the authorities in Serbia to extradite the other suspects during her visit to Belgrade today, as well as three former soldiers indicted for a 1991 massacre in the Croatian city of Vukovar. According to the indictment, between 1 October and 6 December 1991 about 1,000 shells fired by Yugoslav forces landed in the Old Town. A Unesco survey after the bombardment reported that more than two-thirds of the 824 buildings in the Old Town area had been damaged. The cost of repairing the streets, squares, fountains, ramparts and gates was estimated at more than $9.5m (£6.6m). Ten years on, restoration work has still not been completed. Apart from the cost in human life, the bombing of the city dealt a shattering blow to Croatia's tourist industry, one of the republic's principal money-spinners and one that relied substantially on the foreign currency generated by visitors to Dubrovnik. The Croatian tourist industry, too, is only now emerging from the doldrums. Many people in Dubrovnik are pleased that the trial is about to start, even if they think it comes too late. One doctor commented: "So much time has passed. It would have been much more effective if it had happened five years go. "But everyone in Dubrovnik will be pleased because somebody has to answer for the tragedy they caused."
AP 5 Oct 2001 World Criminal Court Welcomed AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — The Netherlands on Friday welcomed Britain's ratification of the treaty creating the world's first permanent criminal court, and advocates said continued U.S. opposition to the tribunal could undermine its global anti-terrorism coalition. Experts said the crucial support from America's staunchest European ally could hasten the ratification process and the court could open its doors in The Hague as early as next year. ``It is a terribly mixed message the U.S. is sending in trying to develop support for this global (anti-terrorism) campaign,'' said William Pace, head of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court lobby group. ``Almost all the closest political, economic and military allies of the United States are strongly supportive of the establishment of the ICC.'' On Thursday, Britain become the 42nd country to ratify the 1998 Rome treaty, which would establish a court to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Only 18 more countries are required to give the court the 60 ratifications it needs. Liechtenstein and the Central African Republic also ratified the treaty earlier this week. Groundwork for the new facility has already begun in The Hague at a decommissioned military base a few miles from the U.N. detention unit where former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic now awaits trial. The international court was designed to be a permanent body that could fill the functions of such ad hoc U.N. tribunals as those for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Advocates believe it also could prosecute terrorists who operated outside a conventional war, like members of al-Qaida, Osama bin Laden's organization. The court, however, could not prosecute crimes committed before its creation. ``Our legal experts are almost unanimously in agreement that terrorist attacks could be tried as crimes against humanity,'' said ICC Program Director Jayne Stoyles. ``They could even be considered genocide, depending on the factual circumstances.'' European delegates at a U.N. preparatory meeting in New York this week criticized American opposition to the court as ``inappropriate and unacceptable,'' Stoyles said. U.S. lawmakers say they fear the court could be used to press politically motivated cases against the United States or its soldiers, and have insisted that U.S. military personnel be explicitly exempted from the threat of prosecution. This week, Republican Sen. Jesse Helms reintroduced legislation that would block cooperation with the court and penalize any country that assisted it. The so-called American Servicemembers Protection Act also would authorize the president to use any means necessary to free U.S. citizens from the court's custody.
29 October, 2001, 13:06 GMT Georgia says Russia bombed villages The Georgian President, Eduard Shevardnadze, has accused Russia of bombing mountain villages on the border with the breakaway region of Abkhazia. The Georgian Defence Ministry said fighter planes and helicopters dropped bombs and strafed a mountain pass in the area of the Kodori Gorge, which Tbilisi has already accused Russia of bombing before. Russian officials deny their planes have flown in the area. Abkhaz leaders say their forces have been fighting Georgian partisans backed by Chechen militants in the Kodori Gorge. 18 October, 2001, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK Russia accused of new Georgia violation Georgian officials have again accused Russia of violating its airspace near the breakaway region of Abkhazia. The Georgian defence ministry says a total of 10 Russian Sukhoi military aircraft flew over the remote Kodori Gorge area of northwest Georgia before returning to Russian territory. Georgia has accused Russian planes of dropping bombs in the area twice in the past two weeks. Georgian and Chechen guerrilla fighters have been fighting separatist Abkhaz forces in the Kodori Gorge. Earlier, senior Abkhaz government officials said they were preparing documents which envisage Abkhazia joining Russia. The Abkhaz vice-president, Valery Arshba, said the government was considering holding a referendum on the question.
10 October, 2001, 14:52 GMT 15:52 UK Analysis: Georgia's tinderbox region By regional analyst Stephen Mulvey Abkhazia and Georgia have been in a state of frozen conflict for eight years, since Abkhaz troops succeeded in driving the Georgian army out of their semi-autonomous province, but the temperature is rising dangerously quickly. Both sides accuse the other of carrying out air raids on Monday, and while the Abkhaz authorities have started mobilising reservists, the Georgian authorities have threatened to retaliate. Just as in the war of 1992-1993, Russian and Chechen forces risk becoming involved, if they are not already. Georgia says a helicopter that bombed three Georgian-inhabited villages inside Abkhazia came from Russia, while the self-declared Abkhaz Government says Chechen rebels and Georgian fighters recently moved into the province from the east. Guerrillas The situation is further confused by the presence of Georgian guerrillas, who attack Abkhaz targets without government backing - although the authorities in Tbilisi have often been accused of doing little to stamp them out. They are openly sponsored by the pro-Georgian Abkhaz government in exile. These guerrillas have usually operated in the southernmost part of Abkhazia - the Gali region - but now the Abkhaz authorities say Georgian fighters are present, along with Chechen fighters, in the lawless Kodori Gorge. After eight years of half-hearted attempts to reach a political settlement - and deadlock for most of that time - it would not take much to tip Abkhazia back into war It was here that a helicopter carrying UN monitors was apparently shot down on Monday, with the loss of nine lives. No-one knows who did it. During the 1992-1993 conflict - which began after Georgian troops attempted to use armed force to halt Abkhaz moves towards independence - Chechens and other North Caucasian peoples rushed to the aid of the Abkhaz. Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba says Russian Cossacks have already offered their support this time too. However, since 1993, Russia and Chechnya have been at blows (except for the period from 1996-1999), and Abkhazia's main priority has been to preserve good relations with Moscow rather than the Chechen rebel leaders. Abkhaz forces now accuse Chechen guerrillas of taking part in a raid on an Abkhaz village, in which 14 people were killed. They say they have succeeded in surrounding the guerrillas in the Kodori Gorge and are now destroying them. Suspected leader It is thought the Chechens may be a group led by the command of a well-known Chechen field commander, Ruslan Gelayev, who was earlier reported to have been taking refuge inside Georgia, in an area near the Chechen border - the Pankisi Gorge - inhabited by ethnic Chechens. One theory is that he and his men sought to take refuge in Abkhazia after Georgia came under increasing Russian pressure to expel the Chechens from the Pankisi Gorge - and after vague threats from Russian officials to launch a cross-border offensive into Georgia. The Georgian army, and at least one prominent Georgian guerrilla leader, say they have not been involved in the latest clashes. However, their presence near the borders of Abkhazia adds to the tinderbox atmosphere. Many Georgians long to see their army's 1993 defeat avenged. Moscow suspected Any Georgian intervention, in retaliation for the helicopter raid for example, could trigger a Russian response. Russian aircraft supported Abkhaz fighters eight years ago, and Georgians suspect Moscow of orchestrating the entire war. Russian officials say they are watching the situation closely. They have a peacekeeping force, which is meant to separate the two sides, and a military base in Abkhazia which could be re-occupied by paratroopers who were formerly based there at a moment's notice. After eight years of half-hearted attempts to reach a political settlement - and deadlock for most of that time - it would not take much to tip Abkhazia back into war.
Aust B c 30 Oct 2001 Four people killed in Aceh Indonesian security forces say four people including two rebels were killed, six people were wounded and six schools were set on fire in weekend violence in the strife-torn Indonesian province of Aceh. Residents say two men were found dead early today at separate locations in East Aceh, with one suffering a gunshot wound while the other had been hanged. Police officials say officers shot dead one suspected rebel while two policemen were wounded in a clash at Kluet Utara in South Aceh district. Police were deployed in the region to search for a group which torched six schools in the area early yesterday. The Free Aceh Movement has been fighting for a free Islamic state since 1976.
(30/10/01, 06:11:33 AEST) October 30, 2001 atimes.com < India/Pakistan Migrant Lankan workers due to get right to vote By Feizal Samath COLOMBO - Close to a million Sri Lankan migrant workers may finally get the chance to vote at a domestic election, after a local non-governmental agency succeeded this month in convincing the state's Human Rights Commission (HRC) that voting is a right of every citizen - wherever he or she is. After hearing representations from the Migrant Services Center (MRC), the commission decided in a landmark move on October 18 to recommend to the government and the elections commissioner that Sri Lankans working overseas be allowed to vote at a election at home. This is, however, unlikely to happen before the December 5 national election. "Yes, we have agreed to make a recommendation to the government on the right of migrant workers to vote," said Faiz Musthapa, HRC chairman. He said the commission would recommend amending the election law and also suggest ways on how migrant workers could vote. "We are in the process of doing this. This would apply to migrant workers only, not those who reside abroad." Meanwhile, the Action Network of Migrant Workers (ACTFORM), a coalition of 25 local groups working on or concerned with the issue of migrant workers, made a fresh appeal on October 24 to the elections commissioner to consider these rights. "We call upon you to please look into this anomaly as a matter of priority once the current parliamentary elections are over," it said in a letter to elections chief Dayananda Dissanayake. The Colombo-based MRC, affiliated to the National Workers Congress working on behalf of workers for more than 50 years, has been urging voting rights for migrant workers for the past two years. They made appeals to the elections commissioner in the run-up to the presidential and general elections in 1999 and 2000 respectively, and even made a similar plea at the referendum that was scheduled for August but later postponed indefinitely. "The election commissioner was helpless. So we made an appeal to the HRC on the grounds that they have the powers to intervene on behalf of migrant workers and grant their right to vote," said David Soysa, executive director at the MRC. More than 800,000 Sri Lankans, according to official figures, have gone in search of work to the Middle East and mostly Asian countries in the past two decades for work. The MRC, however, puts the number of Sri Lankan migrant workers at close to a million. More than 70 percent of migrant workers are women. They pour back billions of Sri Lankan rupees into the economy each year. According to government estimates, remittances from migrant workers are expected to top 100 billion rupees (US$1.1 billion ), up from 80 billion rupees in 2000. More than half of the annual amount of remittances, or 55 billion rupees, comes from the Middle East alone. The MRC's call was taken up by the HRC on six occasions before the latter arrived at the October 18 decision, which, however, is too late for implementation before the December poll. "At least if the HRC makes the recommendation it can be implemented for any other polls after the latest one," Soysa said, adding that the MRC had proposed to the commission that the absentee or postal voting system to be also extended to migrant workers, a facility now enjoyed by government workers. Another proposal is for polling booths to be set up in at embassies for overseas Sri Lankans to cast their vote during an election. "Like any other sector, migrant workers should also allowed to place their grievances like abuse and exploitation before parliament and hold their MPs responsible for a violation of their rights," Soysa said. In its appeal, ACTFORM said that the majority of Sri Lankan migrants are registered voters here but don't get a chance to cast their ballot. "It is obvious that the votes of migrant workers will make a significant difference in the polling and results of elections. The significant vote bank will also enable migrant workers to lobby for favorable policies in relation to their status and have their voices heard," the statement said. The statement by ACTFORM coordinator Viola Perera cited concern that the unused votes of migrant workers could be abused for purposes of impersonation. She said these were all potential considerations for a review and change of election laws and the implementation of mechanisms to enable migrant workers to exercise their franchise. Sri Lankan elections during the past few decades have been dogged by impersonation, vote-rigging and intimidation of voters. The presence of thousands of local monitors and a handful of foreign observers at the polls has failed to deter such malpractices. At present, countries like Canada, Australia and Britain have provisions for their overseas residents and migrant workers to vote. The Philippines, the world's second largest exporter of human labor, has yet to finalize its own law allowing some 7 million migrant workers to vote in elections at home.
(Inter Press Service) Belgium Denies Genocide Suspect Pauline Nyiramasuhuko's Husband Refugee Status Email This Page Print This Page Internews (Arusha) October 29, 2001 Posted to the web October 29, 2001 Mary Kimani Arusha Maurice Ntahobali, husband and father of genocide suspects Pauline Nyiramasuhuko and Shalom Ntahobali, has been denied refugee status in Belgium, Internews has learned. According to a report compiled by Belga, an organization that reports on justice issues, the Belgian Commission of Appeal for Refugee matters (CPRR) denied Maurice residence as a refugee because of an exclusion clause in the Geneva Convention regarding the status of refugees. The clause stipulates that refugee status is not applicable to "a person or persons if there is reason to believe that they have been involved in the commission of a crime against peace, war crimes or crimes against humanity." The trial for Nyiramasuhuko and Shalom, who are charged with four others in the so-called "Butare Trial," is in progress before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR). Nyiramasuhuko, a former minister for family and women's affairs in Rwanda, is the only woman indicted by the ICTR. Shalom was a student leader and alleged militiaman during the April-June 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Maurice, a former Rwandan minister for education and one time vice-rector of Butare University, appealed to the Belgian commission after his initial application was rejected by the Commissioner General on Refugees and Non-Citizens. The appeal commission's decision ends all possible appeal by Maurice. Maurice left Rwanda in July 1994 and fled with his family through Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) to Nairobi, Kenya. His wife and son were arrested in Nairobi in 1997 at the request of the ICTR. Maurice arrived in Belgium in 1998. Before the commission's rejection, Maurice expressed fear for his safety if he is forced to return to Rwanda. Before the appeal commission, Maurice denied knowledge of massacres that took place in Butare University and at a roadblock set up near his home. He told the commission that he was critically ill and confined to bed during the alleged massacres. The Belga report, dated 24 October, indicates that the President of the Appeal Commission, Serge Bodart, did not find Maurice's explanation credible. Bodart said the fact that Maurice was a government minister and vice rector of a university, means he had the influence to oppose the commission of the massacres. "There are serious reasons to believe that he could be found guilty of crimes against humanity," Bodart concluded. Internews could not establish whether the ICTR Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) has any interest in Maurice as a possible genocide suspect.
Prevent Genocide International