News Monitor for April 2002
Tracking current news on genocide and items related to past and present ethnic, national, racial and religious violence.
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REUTERS 19 Apr 2002 U.N.: Many Countries Escape Censure- Human Rights Commission Fails to Pass Critical Resolutions on Many Countries (Geneva, April 19, 2002) -- Human Rights Watch sounded an urgent alarm at today's votes by the world's highest human rights body, which chose one by one to ignore severe human rights violations in several countries on its agenda, such as Russia/Chechnya, Zimbabwe, and Equatorial Guinea. Related Material Principal Concerns of Human Rights Watch for the 58th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Memorandum to Member States and Observer States of the CHR, March 14, 2002 "This is a frontal attack on one of the most effective human rights tools: the naming and shaming of human rights violators." Joanna Weschler Human Rights Watch U.N. Representative "This is a frontal attack on one of the most effective human rights tools: the naming and shaming of human rights violators," said Joanna Weschler, Human Rights Watch's United Nations Representative. In recent years, many highly abusive governments facing censure by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) successfully fought to gain seats on the U.N. body as a way of fending off criticism. Today, as the period in which the CHR considers the records of individual countries began drawing to a close, that cynical strategy reaped big rewards. Countries with disturbing human rights records now command a significant bloc of votes on the commission. Those countries include: Algeria, Burundi, China, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Togo and Vietnam. In addition, many Western countries, particularly those from the European Union, have been less outspoken this year than in the past. In a bow to the opponents of "naming and shaming," the European Union departed from its long-established practice of naming the worst violators in its speech under the agenda item dealing with country situations. Instead it chose to distribute that part of its statement in a separate written text. "Today's votes underscore a serious crisis at the Commission on Human Rights," said Weschler. "Governments around the world that profess commitment to human rights must undertake immediate steps to prevent the current situation from recurring or degenerating further." Weschler said those steps should include making a country's human rights record the decisive factor in election to the CHR and working year-round on issues related to the CHR, rather than making it a discreet, six-week process largely confined to Geneva.
AP 30 Apr 2002 U.S. Regains Position on U.N. Rights Commission UNITED NATIONS, April 29 -- The United States regained a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Commission today, a year after losing it for the first time since the commission was established in 1947. The vote last May to drop the United States from the top U.N. human rights body was a humiliating defeat that caused an outcry in Washington, worsened U.S.-U.N. relations and led to intensive behind-the-scenes lobbying by the Bush administration to return to the panel. In March, Italy and Spain pulled out of the running for seats on the commission. That cleared the way for the United States to announce its candidacy as part of an uncontested slate. The U.S. return to the panel was then virtually assured, and today the 54-member U.N. Economic and Social Council approved the slate of candidates from Western nations that included the United States. "We are very pleased that we are back on the Commission on Human Rights," Sichan Siv, U.S. ambassador to the Economic and Social Council, said after the results were announced. "Human rights is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. We have spoken, and we continue to speak on the issue, whether we are on the commission or not. But now that we are back on the commission we look forward very much to working to continue to promote this very important issue." At the recent Human Rights Commission meeting in Geneva, the United States was an observer. As a full member again, Siv said, the United States will be able to introduce resolutions, something it was unable to do as an observer. After last year's vote, many factors were blamed: an excess of European candidates, the absence then of a permanent U.S. ambassador, U.S. withdrawal from the Kyoto climate change accord, U.S. plans to build a national missile defense system and U.S. refusal to ratify a treaty that created an international criminal court.
AP 20 Apr 2002 TIZI OUZOU, Algeria (AP) — At least 100,000 Algerians in the northern city of Tizi Ouzou converged for a peaceful demonstration to mark the first anniversay of a government crackdown on protests by ethnic minority Berbers, in which 60 people were killed. Businesses and offices were closed in Tizi Ouzou, the largest city in the northern Berber region of Kabyle. Marchers also called for the boycott of legislative elections on May 30. The protest ended without arrests or injuries, although security forces sprayed tear gas after several dozen youths hurled stones at a police station. A similar demonstration drew several thousand people in Kabyle's second-largest city of Bejaia, about 160 miles east of Algiers. Protesters demanded the release of about 200 people who had been arrested last month during a renewed outbreak of violence. Kabyle village committees — a driving force behind the protests — called for Saturday's action to mark the one-year anniversary of ``Black Spring,'' an uprising sparked by the death an ethnic Berber youth while in police custody on April 18, 2001. Police said the youth died after an officer's gun went off accidentally, but that version was roundly contested by the Berber population. His death touched off massive riots in Kabyle last spring. A government report in July 2001 criticized Algerian security forces for shooting live ammunition into crowds and beating people during the massive riots. Protests regained intensity last month after a speech by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika disappointed the Berber community. While Bouteflika promised that the Berber language, Tamazight, would be recognized in the nation's constitution, he ruled out another demand — the departure of security forces from Kabyle. Berbers claim to be the original inhabitants of Muslim North Africa and have had strained relations with Algerian authorities for decades. The Berber protests are not directly related to an Islamic insurgency raging in Algeria since 1992. That uprising began after the army canceled elections that a fundamentalist party appeared set to win. More than 120,000 people have been killed since then.
Panafrican News Agency (PANA) Daily Newswire April 20, 2002 BURUNDI TO RATIFY THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT SOON Bujumbura, Burundi (PANA) - Burundian Justice Minister Fulgence Bakana said Friday in Bujumbura his country would ratify the Rome treaty on the International Criminal Court (CPI) in a matter of days. According to Bakana, the delay was simply due to bureaucracy standing in the way of progress. "We had to wait for the recent setting up of the transitional government and parliament to elaborate the bill on the ratification of this international convention," he said. He added that the project has now been sent to parliament for debate and adopting during the ongoing April's ordinary session. "If Burundi is not among the first 60 countries that have already ratified the treaty on the International Criminal Court, it's just a political miscalculation but we are very soon going to change that," the minister said. He also said that Burundi was about to introduce another law on the repression of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Under the law, the inquiry and the qualification of war crimes and other crimes against mankind committed in Burundi from 1 July 1962 (Independence day) to 28 August 2000 (date when the inter- Burundi peace agreements were signed), will be entrusted to an international judicial inquiry commission.
The Monitor (Kampala) April 13, 2002 Five Million Die in Great Lakes Wars Badru D. Mulumba Oxfam is calling for a war crimes tribunal for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which it says accounts for half of all deaths resulting from Great Lakes conflicts. Great Lakes conflicts have left 5 million people dead in the last ten years, Oxfam says in a new briefing paper, Africa at the Crossroads. The dead include the 800,000 during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and 2.5 million in the DRC conflict since 1998, in which eight countries including Uganda are involved. "The shockingly high death toll in eastern DRC continues today," says the paper. It adds that in 2001, one in every eight households in eastern DRC had experienced a violent death since the start of the war, of whom four out of ten were women and children. "As the UN Secretary General recently reported, human rights violations and disappearances continue with total impunity in the DRC," the paper says. It warns that civil and military authorities are increasingly incapable of restoring peace and protecting people. "To date, no single individual has been held to account before a national or international tribunal for these crimes in the DRC," it adds. According to Oxfam the 'culture of impunity' and lack of justice could spark further violence as people take matters into their own hands. "There needs to be a forum where serious war crimes and systematic human rights abuses are dealt with sending out a clear signal that there will be retribution for such crimes," it says. It also wants local justice systems improved to tackle the "culture of widespread criminal activity". The paper says that sub-Saharan Africa is the only region were armed conflict has risen over the past 10-20 years. The region accounts for forty percent of current armed conflicts world-wide, it says. The paper says war is a part of daily life for more than 100 million people. And the absence of 'accountable governance' makes people turn to violence in their search for alternative livelihoods, or fight for 'justice' in the face of impunity, thus igniting a new cycle of violence, adds the paper.
AP 10 Apr 2002 Egypt Accuses Israel Of Genocide MADRID, Spain (AP) - Egypt lashed out at Israel at a U.N. meeting Wednesday, accusing it of ``attempts at genocide'' despite protests that the conference on world aging was not the place for Mideast politics. As the World Assembly on Aging neared unanimous agreement on ways to improve the quality of life of the elderly, Arab nations demanded a condemnation of Israeli actions that they said caused suffering among elderly Palestinians. ``Today, as we seek ways of protecting the elderly, this assembly ought to condemn what the elderly suffer at the hands of the Israeli army,'' Fayza Aboulnaga, Egypt's deputy minister for foreign affairs, told representatives from 160 nations and international organizations. ``The attempts at genocide, subjugation and the daily agony that the aged Palestinians incur without regard to their age, that sweeps away their dignity as they are subjected to murder, violence and humiliation, is shown live on television screens,'' she said. ``Isn't it time,'' she said, ``to put an end to sufferings and the tragedy of an entire people whose youth and aged suffer the most extreme inhumane circumstances?'' After the speech, she rejected Israeli accusations that Arab states were trying to divert attention from real issues affecting elderly. ``We're working hard to make sure that this does not derail the conference,'' she said. Bahrain's labor and social affairs minister, Abdul-Nabi Abdulla Al-Shuela, said Israel's ``brutal aggression'' was denying many Palestinians ``the opportunity to reach old age.'' Earlier, Arab delegates met behind closed doors to discuss U.S. and Israeli objections to the words ``foreign occupation'' in two paragraphs of a 50-page document being drawn up by delegates. Israeli delegation spokesman Eyal Sela called the Egyptian speech ``hostile'' and added: ``There are other places to deal with this.'' Alluding to the Camp David peace plan rejected by Yasser Arafat in 2000, he added: ``Palestinians of all ages were offered the chance to end occupation and they responded with violence.'' Other nations split on whether it was appropriate to draw specific attention to the Palestinians. ``If we begin introducing other themes, it will just become too complicated,'' said Antonio Sanchez Diaz of Mexico, who co-chaired the assembly. Milos Alcalay of Venezuela, head of a bloc of 77 developing countries, said: ``If there is an impact on elderly people, of course it's a concern.'' U.N. officials said agreement had been reached on all but 19 paragraphs in an action plan and a six-page political declaration. With a Friday deadline, delegates were discussing proposals for a a UNICEF-like organization devoted to elderly issues, help for older persons with disabilities, and incentives for families take care of aging relatives. In old-age homes in Bahrain, ``we don't accept an elder who has a family,'' said Al-Shuela, the Bahraini delegate. ``We go to the family and talk to them.'' The United Nations predicts that in 2050, for the first time in history, seniors will outnumber children - with one of every five people on the planet over 60 - raising enormous political, economic and social issues for society.
Panafrican News Agency Panafrican News Agency (PANA) Daily Newswire April 22, 2002 RIGHTS GROUP WANTS LIBERIA TO RATIFY WORLD COURT PROTOCOL Monrovia, Liberia (PANA) - A Liberian rights group Monday urged the Monrovia government to "take immediate steps" to ratify the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC came into force 11 April after its protocol was ratified by more than 60 countries, the Liberia Human Rights Observer (LIHRO) said in a statement published by the local press. Liberia on 17 July 1998 signed the Rome Statute, but has since failed to ratify the instrument to make it binding on the country, the group charged. It said the purpose of the ICC is to prosecute those accused of crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes, to help put an end to impunity for the worst crimes against humanity. The rights group said it believes that ratifying the Rome Statute would help put an end to the war in northern Liberia and serve as a "permanent deterrent" to those considering these crimes in the future. The ICC is to function in collaboration with nations that have ratified the Rome Statute, the group said, adding that the Court would not have jurisdiction over crimes committed before its establishment.
The East African Standard 19 Apr 2002 Kenya; Nairobi Will Ratify Charter, Says Wako Attorney-General Amos Wako yesterday said Kenya will ratify the charter on the International Criminal Court. Wako, however, said the move will only be possible after Kenya together with Uganda and Tanzania have put down legislations which are in line with the charter. "We have to be consistent in our laws. They must be the same. Kenya is on the forefront and we are co-ordinating the drafting committee among the three states," noted Wako . Wako was also told to curb the excess of power of the likes of Butere MP Amukowa Anangwe ( Kanu). Gatanga MP David Murathe ( SDP) claimed that Anangwe organised the stoning of Ford People leaders who were on meet- the-people tour in Mumias. Anangwe defended himself. He said that he was not directly involved in the matter.
BBC 13 April, 2002 Deadly battle for Madagascar town The bridge to Fianarantsoa has been sabotaged At least five people have been reported killed in fresh clashes as forces loyal to Madagascar's two rival would-be presidents struggle for control of the key town of Fianarantsoa. The violence broke out when troops backing the veteran president, Didier Ratsiraka, tried to storm the barricades of supporters of the self-declared president, Marc Ravalomanana, according to Mr Ravalomanana's "interior minister". Mr Ravalomanana's supporters are trying to replace the town's incumbent, pro-Ratsiraka governor, Emilson, with their own candidate. Reports said some of those were killed were soldiers arriving to reinforce guards protecting Governor Emilson in his imposing colonial hill-top fortress. Mr Ravalomanana says he won last December's elections outright but official results say that neither he nor incumbent President Didier Ratsiraka gained the 50% of the vote needed to be declared the winner. The country is deeply divided with rival governments, two capitals and splits in the armed forces. The conflict has turned increasingly bloody in recent days, and the BBC's Rachel Harvey says the scene is set for a political crisis to escalate into an all out civil war. Death claims A number of people, including a Canadian Roman Catholic monk, were reported killed on Friday, as both groups claimed to have killed several members of the opposition group. Ravalomanana urged his supporters to hunt down his enemies The 76-year-old monk was hit by a stray bullet as he lent out of the window of his mission, next to the gendarmerie, members of his Sacre Coeur community said. Mr Ravalomanana's "interior minister" Jean-Seth Rambeloalijaona said his men - a combination of police, soldiers and gendarmes - had killed four of their opponents as they fled from the governor's mansion. But Governor Emilson denied the claims, saying seven attackers had been killed and another 20 injured in the fighting. "I am still inside my office and the morale of my soldiers is high," he told the BBC's Johnny Donovan in Antananarivo by phone. "We are well-protected and well-armed and have one month of supplies," one of his bodyguards told the Associated Press news agency by mobile telephone. Blockade Supporters of Mr Ratsiraka based in the port city of Tamatave have imposed an economic blockade on the capital, Antananarivo, which is controlled by Mr Ravalomanana. This has led to shortages of fuel and essential commodities in Antananarivo. Correspondents say that control of Fianarantsoa could now be the key to power struggle, Mr Ravalomanana's supporters believe that taking control of the city would enable them to lift the blockade on Antananarivo. 'Terrorists' Earlier this week, an aide to Mr Ratsiraka died after being taken into custody by security forces loyal to Mr Ravalomanana. This soldier was killed in Fianarantsoa last week On Monday, one person was killed and several others wounded during a shooting incident in Antananarivo between supporters of Mr Ravalomanana and troops loyal to Mr Ratsiraka. The shooting occurred outside the home of Gerard Andrialemirovason, a senior aide to President Ratsiraka. Last Friday, Mr Ravalomanana called on his supporters to hunt down his "terrorist enemies". At the start of last week, a similar bloody attempt by supporters of Mr Ravalomanana to take over the governor's residence in Fianarantsoa failed. At least one soldier loyal to Mr Ratsiraka was killed.
Morocco (see Western Sahara)
WP The Only Way to Bring Justice to Rwanda By Richard Sezibera Sunday, April 7, 2002; Page B01 Two images turn in my mind, incessantly and relentlessly, every time I think of the genocide that began eight years ago today, April 7, in my country, Rwanda. These images are more real to me than the statistics, which are so huge as to resemble fantasy. A recent census carried out by the Rwandan government has confirmed that 1,074,017 innocent people were clubbed, stoned or macheted to death within the space of 100 days. That is slightly more than 10,000 deaths every day including Sundays, as the world stood by for more than three months. The two images help explain why I believe we Rwandans can only reconcile ourselves with those horrendous crimes by seeking justice, not amnesty, for the people who committed them. The first image dates from the first week of the killing spree, when I was serving as a frontline doctor with the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which was trying to stop the mayhem. It is the image of a 5-year-old boy we found playing in the sand with bullets whizzing past him. Knowing that the Interahamwe -- the band of killers whohad already begun slaughtering Tutsis and moderate Hutus -- were closing in on their home, the boy's mother had dressed him up in his best clothes, and sewn a little bag around his left armpit with some food and water. Then she abandonedhim in the middle of a dirt road and made herself visible to the Interahamwe to lure them away from her son. We later found her mutilated body some distance away. When I reached theboy, the first question he asked me was, "What crime did I commit to be born a Tutsi?" In all the chaos and evil that was Rwanda in that spring of 1994, this child and his haunting question remain fixed in my mind. The second image is from a year later. By that time, I had joined the president's office andhad been working 22 hours a day -- a form of therapy -- as my colleagues and I struggled to put a broken country back together. One day, I stole a little time to rest and was lying on my bed at home in Kigalifully clothed and utterly fatigued, when I received a frantic phone call from a woman I did not knowand had never met. She had simply picked my name from the list of people attending an international conference that Rwanda's president had convened to discuss genocide and accountability. Exhausted, I was taking a break from the conference. This distraught woman's husband and children had been killed during the genocide. She herself had been sexually abused and traumatized. And now she had heard that one of the conferencesubcommittees was discussing amnesty as an option for those who hadcommitted genocide. She was almost incoherent with despair and rage. Her voice broke and I was hard pressed to hold my own emotions in check as she periodically burst into tears during our conversation. I gave her whatever assurances I could, jumped into my beat-up truck and sped to the Hotel des Milles Collines, one of the two barely functioning hotels where the committees were still meeting. There, I joined the drafting committee for proposals on justice after genocide. To say we faced moral dilemmas in our quest for justice would be the ultimate understatement. On the one hand, Rwandan President Paul Kagame had made clear that revenge killings were not an option. On the other, the justice system had been completely destroyed in 1994. Judges, prosecutors and others had either been killed during the genocide or had participated in it and fled the country. Furthermore, during Rwanda's history, successive regimes had promoted people, even in the justice system, who had been the most zealous during the anti-Tutsi pogroms of 1959, 1963,1967, 1973 and 1992. To prevent a repeatof the genocide, we had to eradicate the idea that people could kill with impunity. But how? A survey carried out in 1994 in some districts of Rwanda had provided us with evidence that we were dealing with millions of potential defendants if the guidelines in the U.N. Genocide Convention were adhered to rigidly. Some foreigners attending the conference had described the truth and reconciliation commissions in Chile, South Africa and other nations where amnesties had been used to bring swift confessions, uncover the truth of the past, and move forward. While it was clear to some of us that we would have to fashion mechanisms for confession and forgiveness, especially for the foot soldiers of genocide, the idea of a general amnesty was not only abhorrent but morally indefensibleto us. Yet we had the imperative, as leaders, of rebuilding Rwanda as a viable country and promoting national unity and reconciliation. We needed to establish a new political dispensation based on the rule of law and respect for human rights in a country that had known neither during its colonial and post-colonial days. We finally agreed that our own justice systemwas simply inadequate to handle the demands placed upon it. Immediately after the killings, we had a total of 40 lawyers in the country, including the president. And yet, even though we had asked the international community to set up a tribunal for Rwanda, we knew that, given the way international bodies work, the bulk of the cases would have to be handled by our own legal system. So we did the best we could to cope with the problems of crime, punishment and reconciliation ourselves. We decided that we would separate cases by degrees of responsibility. Category One was reserved for the most culpable: the architects of the genocide, or those who used rape or sexual mutilation as instruments of genocide.Defendants in this category, if found guilty, could face the maximum sentence allowed under Rwandan law, which is capital punishment. People in the other three categories would have theopportunity to confess and, if they did so, would be allowed to plea bargain for reductions in sentences. Furthermore, we set up a compensation fund for the survivors of genocide, into which our government puts 5 percent of its annual revenues. We had hoped that, given their sins of omission in failing to stop the genocide, foreign governments also would contribute. But we were to be sorely disappointed in this regard. More than six years after the Kigali conference, those of us who experienced the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath are still struggling with the contradictory demands this catastrophic eventplaces on Rwandans in general and policymakers in particular. Since trials began in Rwanda in 1997, we have dealt with more than 5,000 cases. This is a herculean accomplishment given the fact that the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, with a budget more than 10 times that of our entire justice system, has indicted fewer than 100 people and has brought fewer than 10 of them to trial so far. However, we still have 115,000 prisoners in our overcrowded jails who are suspected of committing genocide, and it has become clear to us that the classical justice system cannot achieve the objectives we set for ourselves. This is why we have now decided to revert to our traditional methods of conflict resolution, commonly known as gacaca, to deal with cases apart from those subject to the death penalty before the international tribunal or in Category One. Under this traditional approach, in which ordinary Rwandans serve as judges and jurors as well as witnesses, the aim is not only to punish but to rehabilitate the perpetrator, as well as to restore harmony between the aggrieved community and its persecutors. We have modified the process to meet international standards as much as possible and placed the gacaca courts under the control of our supreme court. The system is designed to be flexible enough to turn a portion of any period of incarceration into community service. It will also allow Rwandans, through their participation, to own the process of justice after genocide. Our fundamental law states that justice is served in the name of the people. We have gone the extra mile and taken it directly to the people. The system will allow us to putmore than 10,000 courts into operation with more than 250,000 judges and jurors hearing cases -- a mammoth undertaking indeed. We expect that this will provide a degree of healing for our still very fragile society. We are sailing through uncharted waters. No expert has ever had to handle the problems that Rwanda is faced with. Furthermore, the remnants of those who organized the genocide are still active. They have reorganized and continue to pose a threat toour people, with the active and direct support of successiveCongo governments from the late Mobutu Sese Seko to the Kabilas, father and son. Today, on theanniversary of the start of the massacres, Rwandans remember the innocent dead. As we move toward gacaca, I know this traditional approach is the right thing to do. I know my society needs to perceive justice as being done. I take solace from the vow we have made that, as long as we live, 1994 will not happen again, no matter what. I know that most of the prisoners we have awaiting trial, and some others at large, are capable of rehabilitation. At some point, they will probably become productive citizens in a land that has seen so much suffering, misunderstanding and indifference. I also know, as Rwanda's current ambassador here, that if the United States, whose assistance has been invaluable on our march toward normalcy, chose to commit more resources to us, our route to justice would be enormously simplified. The few millions of dollars we need would be peanuts for the United States. When I go back to Rwanda, I see the hustle and bustle of my boisterous countrymen trying to earn livings. They have chosennot to make genocide an albatross around their necks, not to let it prevent them from living and breathing. So I know we must have done something right. And yet when I go to bed, I recall that telephone call and that young boy's haunting question. I feel exhausted and yet I wonder whether we are doing enough. Now, as official periods of mourning and remembrance begin in Rwanda, I will not hear prayers for my people offered in churches, mosques and synagogues here in the United States or around the world. So I toss and turn in bed wondering whether the anguish I heard over the phone can ever go away. I wonder whether there is anythingthat can ever assuage the sufferings of my people. If the world made itself part of our healing, showed remorse over its indifference at our time of greatest need, and established an International Coalition Against Genocide that recognized the threat genocide poses to all societies, maybe that would helpquiet those voices and make my sleep less troubled. Richard Sezibera, a physician and former member of parliament, is Rwanda's ambassador to the United States.
Reuters 21 Apr 2002 Former Rwandan President Arrested KIGALI, Rwanda -- Former president Pasteur Bizimungu has been arrested over what police said was illegal political activity. Police spokesman Tony Kuramba said Bizimungu's right-hand man, Charles Ntakirutinka, was also detained. Bizimungu, an ethnic Hutu, resigned as president in March 2000 after a falling-out with members of the country's Tutsi-dominated governing party and was replaced by Paul Kagame. When Bizimungu was president, he was held up as a symbol of reconciliation after a genocide in 1994 left 500,000 people dead.
BBC 17 April, 2002 S Africa grapples with new racism Racism is suspected in some inter-ethnic violence By the BBC's Carolyn Dempster Johannesburg Scratch the surface of post-apartheid South Africa, and deep-rooted racism lurks underneath. Almost every week, newspapers carry reports of another racist attack, or a racially motivated murder. "People's attitudes haven't changed," says Dr Zonke Majodina, a commissioner at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). A mother mourns a victim of an apparently racial attack Apartheid bred racial hatred, but what does it take for a person to act on these deep-seated hostile impulses? The crime intelligence unit of the South African Police Service says alcohol abuse plays an important contributing role. In 60% of murders it has been found to be a key factor. Pieter Odendaal told the court he couldn't remember what happened on the night in August 2000 when he tied his black employee, Mosoko Rampuru, to the back of his pickup truck by a length of wire, and drove through the industrial outskirts of the town of Sasolburg, until Rampuru's lifeless body had been stripped of flesh. Alcohol Mr Odendaal's defence was that he was on anti-depressants and had been drinking heavily at the time. Police conducted blood tests that revealed he was five times over the legal limit. Dr Majodina of the human rights commission thinks that people act on their racist impulses not only because alcohol lowers their inhibitions, but because they think they can still get away with it. "There are serious flaws in the criminal justice system. "People have been cowed into submission over decades. They don't know their rights. "And when they do complain about abuse, particularly on the farms, sometimes the system operates like nothing has changed. The criminal justice system is failing these people," she said. Click here to see international murder rates compared Some of the worst racial crimes have occurred in remote areas on rural farmsteads. Dr Majodina claims that in parts of the Northern Cape, black farmworkers are still subjected to subhuman employment conditions. Farm attacks Since the early 1990's there has also been an increase in violent attacks on white farmers. A commission of enquiry set up by former president Nelson Mandela has failed to find the root cause of the attacks. Some white farmers fear they are political targets Criminologist Neels Moolman has said that the attacks are symptomatic of a deep hatred of Afrikaners and a desire to drive the white farmers off their land. Martin Schonteich, a senior crime analyst with the Institute for Security Studies, doesn't agree. But he does believe that race plays a part: "Young black South Africans had high expectations of what democracy would bring. Jobs, a better quality of life. That hasn't happened. "So there is a certain amount of disillusionment and anger against white people because they DO have wealth." While race has underscored crime in South Africa for centuries, a new phenomenon of democracy has been a rise in xenophobia. Magnet for migrants Once South Africa opened its borders to the rest of Africa in 1994, the country became a magnet, not just for refugees, but economic migrants from the rest of the continent. As a result, literally millions of illegal immigrants have flowed across South Africa's porous land borders from as far afield as Somalia and Nigeria in search of a better life and greater opportunities. Reports of racial attacks are common Locally they are known, and widely despised as the "Amakwerekwere", a derogatory term for foreigners. The popular perception among South Africans struggling to survive is that the foreigners represent competition in the fight for jobs. Where this resentment boils over is usually at street level, in violent clashes between hawkers trading on the sidewalks of the cities. In more extreme cases, the foreigners are targeted for murder. In September 1998, three Senegalese nationals were murdered on a crowded train going from Pretoria to Johannesburg. This high-profile killing, coupled with the rise in xenophobic attacks prompted the Human Rights Commission to launch a national plan of action "Roll Back Xenophobia". Dr Zonke Majodina says it has had limited success: "We've seen a slight shift in attitudes as a result of better media reporting. But from what we can see there has been no shift in official policy-making attitudes." Abuse of power South African officials currently carry out policy according to the Aliens Control Act which gives the police and Home Affairs officials virtually unfettered power to apprehend, detain, and expel illegal immigrants. Security forces are accused of having unfettered power The worst abuse of this power was revealed on national television in 2000, when six policemen from the Police Dog Unit east of Johannesburg were videoed using three Mozambican men as live bait to train their dogs. A report into the treatment of immigrants by police and detention centre officials conducted by the Human Rights Commission found that abuses, extortion and physical attacks on foreigners are quite frequent. And, says Dr Majodina, the new legislation governing illegal immigrants which is due to go before parliament this year is "just as xenophobic" as the old law. Self-hate Dr Majodina ties in this "new racism" with the apartheid of old. "Black on black attacks are sometimes an expression of self-hate. That's what oppression does to people. "But if we keep the focus on this, on racism, then gradually we will change attitudes, we will make some headway," she added.
IRIN 12 Apr 2002 ICTR Preparing to Indict First Tutsis UN Integrated Regional Information Networks April 12, 2002 Posted to the web April 12, 2002 The prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), Carla del Ponte, is currently investigating members of the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) for crimes allegedly committed against Hutus in 1994, but is "not satisfied" with the level of cooperation received thus far from Rwandan authorities, her spokeswoman, Florence Hartman, told IRIN on Friday. Following two meetings held respectively with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and with representatives from the RPA in 2001, del Ponte had requested and received guarantees of cooperation with all ICTR investigations, including those into alleged RPF atrocities, said Hartman. But the reality was proving to be quite different. While investigations into three separate massacres were going well outside Rwanda, those inside were not as successful. The prosecutor was dissatisfied with access to archives, documents and witnesses in Rwanda itself, Hartman said. "We haven't been given the support that we expected," she said. The prosecutor was, however, hopeful that the situation would improve, and hoped to issue an indictment by the end of 2002. The ICTR was established to investigate and indict those responsible for Rwanda's 1994 genocide. So far no Tutsi members of the RPA, which overthrew the extremist Hutu regime responsible for the killing of about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, have been charged by the court.
AFP 12 Apr 2002 DJERBA, Tunisia: Eight people died after a fuel tanker crashed outside Africa's oldest synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba and exploded in a ball of fire, officials said on Friday. Announcements made by Tunisia, France and Germany gave a total casualty figure of eight dead, including three women and an 11-year-old boy, and more than 30 injured, most of them Germans. The governor of the Medinine region, Mohamed Ben Salem, said six people -- two female German tourists, their French-Tunisian guide, two maintenance workers and the driver of the tanker -- were killed in the explosion on Thursday at the Ghriba synagogue. He said 32 people were injured, 16 seriously. The German foreign ministry later said another German women and a badly injured 11-year-old boy had also died. Ben Salem had earlier described the boy as being in "a desperate way". French foreign ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau said the tour guide "unfortunately died of his injuries" on Thursday night. "We want to express our emotion and our sympathy to the families of the victims," Rivasseau said. German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he was shocked by the news and also offered his condolences to the victims' relatives. He refused to speculate whether the blast was an accident or an attack. The identities of the victims were not released but two of the dead women are reported to be from the southwest German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg and the third from Bavaria. The injured, many of them with burns, had been ferried to hospitals in Tunis and in Sousse, some 150 kilometres (95 miles) south of the capital. Tunisian officials say the blast was an accident which occurred when the tanker mounted the pavement and crashed into the perimeter wall of the Ghriba synagogue before exploding in flames. But the Israeli foreign ministry claimed it was deliberate. It came on the heels of a series of attacks on synagogues around the world in apparent retaliation for Israel's bloody two-week military offensive against Palestinians in the West Bank. "According to the information we have, this was an attack," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nachshon said on Thursday, without giving further details. A Paris-based Tunisian human rights group said the authorities' version of events had to be "treated with caution", noting that the synagogue was on a no-through road. And Shalom Cohen, Israel's foreign ministry official in charge of North Africa, said it was not possible the explosion could have been an accident. "You have to call a spade a spade. To arrive at this synagogue, you have to really want to go there... There is even a roadblock. It could not be an accident," Cohen said. But Ben Salem "categorically" denied the explosion had been deliberate, noting the "close cohabitation" of Tunisia's Arab and Jewsish communities. The Tunisian authorities cordoned off the area around the synagogue immediately after the explosion and launched an inquiry. The German embassy in Tunis said on Thursday a consular attache had been sent to the scene and sources said the embassy had set up a crisis unit. German tourists are especially numerous at this time of the year in Djerba, with several direct flights arriving every day from Germany. The blast was heard at least five kilometres away from the synagogue, which is one of Judaism's holiest sites and is visited by pilgrims from around the world. Witnesses said the blast provoked panic inside the narrow synagogue, which does not have any safety exits, with people suffocating and fleeing exploding window glass.
Western Sahara Mission for UK and Ireland (London) PRESS RELEASE April 21, 2002 The Sahrawis Will Never Accept to Live Under Moroccan Flag London Catherine Lalumičre's report blindly adopts the Moroccan expansionist theses and supports the attempt of political genocide of the Sahrawi people. The French MEP Catherine Lalumičre drafted a report on Western Sahara which supports the French and Moroccan attempt of political genocide - prelude to the physical genocide - of the Sahrawi people. The former French minister, head of the observation mission of the European Parliament to Western Sahara, which visited recently both the Sahrawi territories occupied by Morocco and the Sahrawi refugee camps in the South-West of Algeria, drew up indeed a report which has nothing neither with the history neither with the right nor with the raelity, and which openly and blindly adopt the Moroccan expansionist theses on Western Sahara. The clear goal of this tendentious report is to influence the UN Security Council which is getting ready to make a decision on the settlement of the Western Sahara issue, on the basis of the four options presented on 19 February 2002 by Kofi Annan and his Personal Envoy, James Baker. By minimising the force of law replaced by the law of force - and thus the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination, replaced by "the Moroccan right" to illegal occupation of Western Sahara -, the Catherine Lalumičre's report expresses not the European Parliament position but the hostile French official position vis ŕ vis the Sahrawi people and aims at giving again life to the Moroccan proposal of autonomy, strongly rejected by the Frente POLISARIO and the Sahrawi Government. If Paris thinks that this is the way to defend the stability of Morocco, at the moment when the Moroccan civil society awakes up and wants to re-examine the question of Western Sahara, it makes a big mistake. It is the opposite that would be likely to occur, because the Sahrawis will never accept to live under the Moroccan flag and are ready to form alliance, if necessary, with the devil to impose the respect of their national rights. Fadel Ismail Head of Mission London, 21 April 2001
Reuters 20 Apr 2002 GUATEMALA Guatemalan human rights worker shot dead REUTERS in Guatemala City Gunmen on Monday shot and killed a member of a Guatemalan human rights organisation founded by Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu, sparking alarm at a time of mounting death threats against activists in the Central American nation. Witnesses said Guillermo Ovalle, 28, an administrative worker for the Menchu organisation, was shot with an automatic rifle by unidentified gunmen while he was ordering a takeout lunch in a Guatemala City restaurant. At least one bystander was struck by bullets in the attack, witnesses said. Officials with the rights organisation said it was not immediately clear if Ovalle was targeted or if he was killed in a robbery attempt at the restaurant. Police indicated they were treating it as a robbery. ''This looks like a robbery but at the same time we got four calls to the office playing terror music down the phone,'' the group's executive director Eduardo de Leon said. He described the music played over the phone as sounding like a soundtrack from a horror film. The group, founded by 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner and Maya Indian activist Menchu, is campaigning to have former Guatemalan civil-war era dictators tried for genocide. Monday's incident comes as Guatemalan human rights activists investigating abuses during a 1960-96 civil war have said they and their families have been threatened at gunpoint and have received menacing phone calls and letters.
WP 21 Apr 2002 Bystanders to Mass Murder By Samantha Power Sunday, April 21, 2002; Page B07 Last week, for the first time in history, a Western government resigned because it was a bystander to genocide. On Tuesday the popular Dutch prime minister, Wim Kok, and his cabinet stepped down in response to a 7,600-page report that faulted the Dutch government and army for sending a flimsy posse of some 400 Dutch peacekeepers on an "ill-conceived and virtually impossible" mission to protect Bosnian Muslims in the U.N. safe area of Srebrenica. In July 1995 the safe area became the most dangerous spot on earth when Bosnian Serb Gen. Ratko Mladic strolled into town. After meeting little resistance from Dutch soldiers on the ground or NATO bombers overhead, Mladic presided over a 10-day killing spree, systematically executing every Muslim man and boy he could lay his hands on -- more than 7,000 in all. Kok, who was prime minister at the time of the massacre, reportedly burst into tears when he read the Dutch report. Kok's resignation marked the first time in our age of genocide when an outside power has paid a tangible political price for its sins of omission. It is a refreshing act that testifies to the tirelessness of Dutch journalists and citizens. But on this side of the ocean, the move was greeted by silence -- a silence that is in fact the trademark of American policy before, during and after genocide. Neither the United States nor any of the Security Council powers that ordered the creation of the safe areas and then abandoned Srebrenica's civilians in their hour of need have stepped forward to shoulder their portion of the blame for the massacre. "The international community is big and anonymous," Kok told the Dutch parliament. "We are taking the consequences of the international community's failure in Srebrenica." I spent several years investigating the Clinton administration's response to Srebrenica, analyzing an ad hoc assortment of declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and conducting some 50 interviews with U.S. officials involved in shaping this country's Bosnia policy. Even this unofficial inquiry yielded startling evidence of extensive American knowledge of the peril to Srebrenica's Muslims: • Senior Clinton administration officials knew the safe areas were likely to come under attack. Indeed, several expressed private hope that the Muslim territory would fall into Serb hands, because it would facilitate the partition of the country. • Once Mladic seized Srebrenica on July 11, 1995, American policymakers were keenly aware that the men and boys were being separated from the women and children, that Dutch soldiers were barred from supervising the "evacuation," and that the Muslims' fate lay in the hands of Mladic, the local embodiment of "evil." U.S. officials received hysterical phone calls from leading members of the Bosnian government who pleaded with Washington to use NATO air power to save those in Mladic's custody. One July 13 classified cable related the "alarming news" that Serb forces were committing "all sorts" of atrocities. On July 17 the CIA's Bosnia Task Force wrote in its classified daily report that refugee reports of mass murder "provide details that appear credible." In a July 19 confidential memorandum, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights John Shattuck described "credible reports of summary executions and the kidnapping and rape of Bosnian women." Yet, despite this knowledge, neither President Clinton nor his top advisers made the fate of the men and boys an American priority. The president issued no public threats and ordered no contingency military planning. Spokesman Nick Burns told the Washington press corps that the United States was "not a decisive actor" in the debate over how to respond. The most powerful superpower in the history of mankind had influence only "on the margins," in Burns's words. Because more intimate knowledge of Mladic's designs would have been inconvenient, senior U.S. officials ordered neither a change in the flight pattern of American satellites snapping images overhead nor the reassignment of intelligence analysts. Toby Gati, assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research at that time, recalls: "We weren't analyzing these pictures in real times for atrocity; we were analyzing whether NATO pilots were vulnerable." Another official remembers, "Once the men were in Mladic's custody, we forgot about them because we knew we could no longer address their futures." Three precious weeks passed after the safe area's fall before a senior official ordered a sustained review of satellite images gathered the previous month to confirm rumors that Srebrenica's Muslims had indeed been murdered. By then virtually all of Mladic's captives were dead and (hastily) buried. After the massacre, neither the Clinton team nor Congress looked back. I have found no evidence that Clinton commissioned an internal after-action review of the U.S. response to Srebrenica. The Senate had individual members -- Joseph Biden, Bob Dole, Joseph Lieberman, John McCain and others -- who took principled stands throughout the Bosnian war, urging intervention. But Congress never summoned Clinton administration officials to Capitol Hill to publicly answer for being bystanders to mass murder. When the United Nations conducted its own Srebrenica inquiry in 1998, its investigators say, Clinton administration officials did not return their phone calls. The U.N. team was granted access only to a group of hand-picked junior and midlevel officials who revealed next to nothing. Dutch investigators complained that they met a similar stone wall in Washington. Holland has looked inward because its troops were there. But America's distance from the crime scene is not an alibi. It is a source of shame. The Bush administration has a unique opportunity to look backward in order to move forward. By reviewing thousands of still-classified government documents and debriefing officials from the intelligence community, State Department, Pentagon and Clinton administration, it can follow the Dutch lead and establish the facts of how and why the United States chose to look away from the largest single act of genocide in Europe in 50 years. If the president won't do it, Congress must take the lead, as this kind of accountability can help shape the calculus -- and change the behavior -- of future generations of U.S. officials. The United States remained disengaged from Srebrenica even while our bombers were flying overhead and our politicians were well briefed. It is time Washington broke the silence and shared the responsibility. Samantha Power is the author of " 'A Problem from Hell': America and the Age of Genocide," published last month.
WP 26 Apr 2002 Massacre, but No 'Genocide' By Nora Boustany Friday, April 26, 2002; Page A24 Armenian Americans held their collective breath Wednesday as they awaited a final acknowledgment by Bush of the "genocide" of more than 1 million Armenians by Ottoman Turks in 1915, as Bush had promised during his presidential campaign. The statement Bush sent to commemorate the massacre's 87th anniversary fell short of using that term. "Today, we commemorate an appalling tragedy of the 20th century, the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians through forced exile and murder at the end of the Ottoman Empire," the president said, invoking the words of Henry Morgenthau, U.S. ambassador at the time, who described the killings as the "murder of a nation." "Today is an occasion for the world to reflect upon and draw lessons from these terrible events," the president said. "It is a day for recognizing that demonizing others lays the foundation for a dark cycle of hatred." Peter Vosbikian, board chairman of the Armenian Assembly of America, expressed appreciation for Bush's statement "at a time when Turkey is a major ally in the war on terrorism," but vowed to continue to "press for the full and definitive characterization." Ottoman leaders sought to justify the campaign in the waning days of the empire by citing their fears that Armenians were helping hostile Russian troops in World War I.
AFP 25 Apr 2002 Bush asks Turkey to normalise ties with Armenia SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota: US President George W. Bush on Wednesday called on Turkey to move forward to a new stage in its history with Armenia and normalize its relations with the former Soviet state. Commemorating the 1915 genocide of some 1.5 million Armenians during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey, Bush urged the world to learn from the "appalling tragedy." "Today is an occasion for the world to reflect upon and draw lessons from these terrible events. It is a day for recognizing that demonizing others lays the foundation for a dark cycle of hatred," said Bush. "Transcending this venomous pattern requires painful introspection about the past and wise determination to forge a new future based on truth and reconciliation. "In this spirit, I look forward to Turkey restoring economic, political, and cultural links with Armenia," Bush said. The president also underlined American solidarity with Armenia, and expressed gratitude for Erevan's support of the US-led war on terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the United States. "In months to come America will continue to increase its security cooperation with Armenia and with Armenia's neighbors to combat terrorism and pursue a lasting and just settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which will strengthen peace and stability in the Caucasus," he added. Turkey categorically rejects genocide claims, saying that around 300,000 Armenians, along with thousands of Turks, died in fighting after siding with invading Russian troops to carve out an independent state in eastern Anatolia. The 30,100 square kilometer (11,620 square mile) republic now has a population of around 3.5 million, with another seven million Armenians scattered around the world, including one million in the United States.
LA Times April 25, 2002 T LOS ANGELES Marchers Protest Armenian Genocide Anniversary: About 20,000 call on Turks to admit guilt in the deaths of 1.5 million beginning in 1915. By GEORGE RAMOS, TIMES STAFF WRITER About 20,000 marchers took to the streets of Hollywood's Little Armenia on Wednesday to call on Turkey to acknowledge its historical role in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians that began in 1915. The most vocal in the procession were, primarily, high school students in black T-shirts who shouted, "1915, never again!" Maggie Melikyan, a 17-year-old senior at North Hollywood High School, typified the attitude of many young people as she watched marchers pass the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue under threatening skies. The Armenian genocide "is something that you feel in your heart, that you feel in your soul," said Melikyan, who recounted stories that a surviving relative told of the killings carried out by the Ottoman Turkish authorities during World War I and shortly afterward. "It's definitely alive for me," Melikyan said. The march was one of several events staged in Southern California on Wednesday to mark Armenian Genocide Day. April 24 is the date that Armenian historians and activists say the mass slaughter began. Such observances are particularly meaningful in Greater Los Angeles, where more than half a million people of Armenian descent live. It is the largest enclave of Armenians anywhere outside their traditional homelands in Turkey and the nation of Armenia. In Montebello, hundreds gathered at the Armenian Genocide Martyrs Monument to rally and call on Turkey to accept responsibility for the victims' deaths and the displacement of 500,000 people from their homes in Turkish lands. Later, protesters picketed the mid-Wilshire offices of the Turkish consul general. Calls to the Turkish Consulate went unanswered. Officials of the Turkish republic, which succeeded the Ottoman Empire in 1923, have long denied that the Turks committed genocide. That mattered little to the marchers in Little Armenia, who carried signs that read, "Turkey guilty of genocide," "We condemn terrorism and genocide" and "Armenians united forever." They walked for nearly two miles, partially closing Sunset and Hollywood boulevards and Normandie and Western avenues. Most of Little Armenia businesses were closed to mark the day. At a rally after the march, speakers told the crowd, in Armenian and English, never to forget the genocide. "Our land was taken from us," said Archbishop Vatche Hovsepyan of the Armenian Apostolic Church. "We were massacred on our own land." Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, who represents Little Armenia, added that April 24 stands as "one of the [most] horrible days in human history." The crowd cheered loudly when a representative of Gov. Gray Davis said the state's chief executive had recognized Wednesday as a day of remembrance throughout California for the Armenian genocide. Not to be outdone by Democrats, ranking Republicans also issued statements of solidarity with Armenians. President Bush and Bill Simon Jr., the GOP nominee for governor who faces Davis in the November election, said the genocide should never be forgotten. Bush in his message called on Turkey to lift its blockades and normalize relations with Armenia. In his statement, Simon said, "We are grateful for the countless ways in which Armenian Americans continue to enrich California's science, culture, commerce and, indeed, all aspects of our life."
AP 27 Apr 2002 Casino Plans to Give Massacre Site to Tribes By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ENVER, April 27 — A casino management company plans to buy and donate to Indian tribes the site of the Sand Creek Massacre, where militia troops killed more than 150 Indians in 1864. The company, Southwest Entertainment of Minneapolis, will pay $1.5 million for the 1,465-acre Dawson Ranch, about 160 miles southeast of Denver near the town of Chivington. In 2000 the National Park Service proposed special protection for Sand Creek, the first step toward designating it a historic site. Meanwhile, the sale will give the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma full access to land they consider sacred. "We are very excited about it because it has been over a century and we haven't had the opportunity to take care of the land properly," said Robert Tabor, a tribal chairman. Militia members led by Col. John M. Chivington, a Union officer, attacked a sleeping village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians on Nov. 29, 1864, on the gently rolling hills dotted with sagebrush and yucca. The Indians had been told to camp there by the Army. Most of those killed were women and children. Congress condemned the attack, but no one was punished and no reparations were made. In recent years, historians have debated the exact site of the Sand Creek Massacre. William Dawson says it occurred on the ranch land he bought in 1965, and he has allowed descendants of victims to visit. But they have had to ask for permission. "That land is sacred land to us," Mr. Tabor said. "It is like a church. It should be open. You shouldn't need anyone's permission." Jim Druck, president of Southwest Entertainment, said that his company, which operates two casinos for the tribes in Oklahoma, had a long history with the Indians and wanted to help. "It is not often that business and social and emotional interests can come together," Mr. Druck said. The Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site is expected to cover 12,500 acres when finished.
PRNewswire Harry Belafonte to Speak and Receive Honorary Degree at Monmouth University's 2002 Commencement Preston R. Tisch, Joseph Buckelew and Dr. Carol Rittner Will Also Receive Honorary Degrees WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J., April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Monmouth University is pleased to announce that singer/actor Harry Belafonte will address graduates and receive an honorary degree at its 68th commencement ceremony on Wednesday, May 22 at 1:30 p.m. on the Great Lawn. Mr. Belafonte -- who will not be performing -- was chosen for this honor because of his artistic achievements in the world of entertainment and his lifelong dedication to humanitarian causes. Dr. Rittner is a Sister of Mercy from the Dallas, Pennsylvania Regional Community and distinguished professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. She was the executive producer of "The Courage to Care," a documentary film that was nominated for the 1986 Academy Award(R). She has written several books and organized numerous international conferences that dealt with issues related to the World War II holocaust, diversity and combating hate. She is the recipient of The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey's Ida E. King Medallion for outstanding scholarship and international service to the human community. In 1998 she was honored by Governor Tom Ridge as a "Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania." Monmouth University's commencement is closed to the general public and only graduates and their guests will be admitted. Members of the news media who plan to cover the event should contact the office of public affairs at 732-571-3526 by May 10 to receive press credentials for admittance. About Monmouth University Located in West Long Branch, New Jersey, Monmouth University is a leading comprehensive, private institution that offers coeducational undergraduate and graduate degrees and 50 distinctive curricular programs. Sprawled across a magnificent, historic campus, the University is approximately 50 miles from Manhattan and Philadelphia and is within walking distance to the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. Monmouth University combines the state-of-the-art facilities and vibrant environment of a large institution with the individual attention of a small, liberal arts college. For more information, visit Monmouth University on the World Wide Web at http://www.monmouth.edu.
AP 9 Apr 2002 Okla. Groups Donate to Riot Survivors TULSA, Okla. -- A coalition of religious groups has donated $28,000 to compensate survivors of a 1921 race riot that left at least 38 people dead and thousands of blacks homeless, officials said Tuesday. The 131 survivors were sent checks last week by The Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry Reparations Gift Fund, which was set up in January to raise funds. Tulsa leaders in 1921 promised victims compensation for their losses. Some emergency aid was provided, but full restitution has not been granted. "We are calling this a gift from the religious community that acknowledges the need for reparations," said Steve Cranford, executive director of the ministry, noting that four survivors have died since January. According to some estimates, as many as 300 people may have been killed during the riots that began when a white lynch mob exchanged gunfire with a group of blacks who sought to protect a shoeshiner accused of assaulting a white woman. Tulsa WorldOne Step Toward Restorative Justice: 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Survivors Receive Reparation Payments - UUA Is Leading Contributor Tulsa Race Riot survivor Otis Clark, 99, is thankful for the $214.03 he received in reparations for the loss and suffering that resulted from the 1921 violence. Photos by KELLY KERR / Tulsa World (Boston, MA - April 11, 2002) On Wednesday, April 10, 2002, 131 survivors of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, the bloodiest in U.S. history, received the first reparations payment from Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, an interfaith religious coalition. Reparations payments totaled $28,000, of which $20,000 was contributed by the Unitarian Universalist Association. Other contributors to the fund were the Tulsa congregations of All Souls Unitarian Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Restoration, College Hill Presbyterian Church, and Metropolitan Community Church United. The Rev. William G. Sinkford, president of the UUA, said, "Unitarian Universalists believe that direct reparations to the Tulsa survivors is a first step in a journey of restorative justice. Our faith community is honored to be a part of this effort by Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry." UUA participation in the reparations project was supported through an Action of Immediate Witness at the 2001 General Assembly. Sinkford said the UUA has sent an additional $5,000 contribution to Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry to initiate anti-racism programs in the community. Greenwood section following the riots. Courtesy ABC News. UUA support of the effort came primarily from the James Reeb Fund, which is designated to support victims of racism. Additional support comes from funds designated to promote anti-oppression and anti-racism efforts in Tulsa. The Rev. Marlin Lavanhar, Senior Minister of All Souls Church in Tulsa, OK, has acted as spokesperson in Tulsa for the Metropolitan Ministries' reparations effort. "The community knows we're standing behind this issue," he said. "Most of all, it's been a significant step in furthering the process of healing, justice and reconciliation in our city." The Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries intends to continue collecting funds to make additional reparations payments to the survivors of the 1921 riots. Those who wish to contribute to this effort may do so by mailing checks to: Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries 221 S. Nogales Tulsa, OK 74127. http://www.uua.org/news/2002/020411.html
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 21 Apr 2002 Millersville U. debate raged on whether Nazi-era pope rescued Jewish people or did too little to save them By Ann Rodgers-Melnick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer Was Pope Pius XII akin to a war criminal who dithered while Jews died during World War II or a fearless opponent of Nazism who rose above other world leaders to rescue Jews during the Holocaust? Those were the two sharply differing views of the controversial pontiff that emerged at a Holocaust conference last week at Millersville University in Lancaster County. The gathering was the first to bring together scholars divided on the subject of whether Pius is worthy of condemnation or of sainthood. Some participants had given scathing reviews to each other's books, but had never met. Discussion of Pius has, unfortunately, been welded to other agendas involving the Roman Catholic Church, said Jose Sanchez, author of "Pius XII and the Holocaust -- Understanding the Controversy." "Now we have Pius blamed for the current issue of sexual abuse of priests," he said, citing a Catholic newspaper that called Pius the model for silence by church leaders. Pius' detractors and defenders at the conference could not be predicted by faith. Rabbi David Dalin, a historian at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, offered glowing praise. "He was not silent but a persistent critic of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime," Dalin said. He cited Vatican Radio broadcasts protesting atrocities against Jews and Catholics in Poland, and its airing of anti-Nazi letters by French bishops. He believes that Pius played a significant role in the rescue that allowed 80 percent of Jews in Italy to survive while 80 percent of Europe's other Jews perished. In Rome alone, 155 church properties sheltered 5,000 Jews, with up to 2,000 others at Pius' summer home, he said. Dalin was answered by Sergio Minerbi, author of "The Vatican and Zionism: Conflict in the Holy Land 1895-1925," who was hidden in one of Rome's churches. When his mother tried to warn other Jews to flee mortal danger, few believed her. They would have heeded if Pius had warned them, he said, and 1,000 Jews would not have been sent to Auschwitz on Oct. 16, 1943. He is grateful to the priests who hid him, but he does not believe Pius was responsible for their actions. The pope kept silent because the Germans told him, "We will respect the Vatican if you help us to keep calm and quiet," Minerbi said. Rabbi James Rudin, author of "Twenty Years of Catholic-Jewish Relations," said that while some of Pius' wartime Christmas messages were viewed as protests of Nazi persecution of Jews, he never uttered the word "Jew" and he used "non-Aryan" just once. His most consistent and explicit concern was for prisoners of war, Rudin said. The most damning assessment was from Richard Rubenstein, director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and a one-time Hillel rabbi in Pittsburgh. Given the history of Catholic anti-Semitism, Pius viewed the "elimination" of Jews from Europe as "a benefit," he said. "The pope never advocated the elimination of Jews," but that doesn't mean that he didn't regard it as beneficial, Rubenstein said. The Catholic Church had taken the historical lead in forcing Jews to live in ghettos without the full rights of citizens, he said. Many problems in the debate over Pius XII remain because scholars have never tried to reach consensus, said J. Michael Phayer, author of "The Catholic Church and the Holocaust 1930-1965." In 1970, there were similar divisions over whether the Holocaust was planned as far back as 1919 or as late as 1942. Those scholars met often and now agree that the plans began between 1939 and 1941, he said. Phayer suggested key questions for Pius scholars to address. One was why, after Vatican Radio broadcast bold condemnations of Nazi atrocities in 1940, it toned down its moral rhetoric. Another was how to interpret a March 1944 letter that Pius wrote to Berlin Archbishop Konrad von Preysing, explaining why he had not made stronger statements about the murder of Jews. Phayer, who is critical of Pius, took the opportunity to rebut Rubenstein's thesis that Pius was tacitly in favor of eliminating Jews. In the letter to von Preysing, "Pius admits he is deeply sorry about what is happening to the Jews," Phayer said. He urged scholars to stay out of the debate over whether Pius XII should be canonized a saint, saying it was beyond their competence. Pius is a candidate for beatification, but the process is stalled. "We have a difficult enough time trying to understand what the pope did do and what he failed to do," he said. At the center of much of the debate are 12 published volumes of wartime documents from the Vatican Secretariat of State. Pope Paul VI was so outraged by the portrayal of Pius as a Nazi sympathizer in the 1963 play "The Deputy," that he ordered four Jesuits to catalog and publish the pertinent documents from archives that remain closed otherwise. It took them 17 years, and Pius critics suspect that they left out damaging records. Most documents are in Italian. The introductions and footnotes are in French They are so difficult to work with that when John Conway, author of "The Nazi Persecution of the Churches 1933-1945," asked who at the conference had read all 12 volumes, not one hand was visible. Last year, a Vatican-appointed team of Catholic and Jewish scholars that had been assigned to study Pius XII fell apart after they asked for full access to the archives and Vatican officials refused. The Vatican announced in February, however, that next year it would begin releasing some Vatican documents on the Vatican's relationship with Germany in the 1930s and records of its humanitarian efforts for prisoners of war and civilian internees during the war. Sanchez cited areas of consensus based on the published archives. There is agreement that Pius did not prefer Nazism to communism and near agreement that he was not an anti-Semite, Sanchez said. Debate continues over Pius' actions with regard to the Nazi roundup of Roman Jews on Oct. 16, 1943, he said. There is deadlock on whether Pius gave orders to rescue Jews, or whether Catholic rescue efforts were spontaneous. Sanchez supports those who say Pius must have ordered or approved rescue efforts, because Jews were hidden in Vatican properties, including the pope's summer home. But Susan Zuccotti, author of "Under His Very Windows -- The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy," argued that Pius had little to do with rescue efforts. No written order to save Jews has been found, she said, and there are reasons to distrust the later claims of some rescuers that Pius gave them oral orders. Worst of all, she said, the Vatican Secretariat of State issued an order to expel fugitives from Vatican property because they endangered Vatican neutrality. Ronald Rychlak, author of "Hitler, the War and the Pope," responded that the lack of a written directive to rescue Jews does not mean that Pius didn't violate his publicly proclaimed neutrality. Pius' participation in a plot to overthrow Hitler is well-documented, but never mentioned in the Vatican records, he said. "A whole lot of risky and daring things were never reported," he said. Rychlak is a law professor whose earlier book was on use of evidence. "No defendant in history has had such an impressive array of witnesses," he said. He cited praise heaped on Pius by Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and the wartime chief rabbi of Rome. Pius' critics discount both, claiming that Meir sought Vatican diplomatic support of Israel and that the chief rabbi converted to Catholicism after the war. But it is sheer speculation to say that such motives made them gloss over Pius' alleged failures, Rychlak said. It is fair to ask whether Pius could have done better, he said. "But if this were a court of law, there would be enough evidence to get the case dismissed," he said. At the end of two days, no one had conceded any ground. But Rychlak and Zuccotti, who hold bitterly opposing views of Pius, acknowledged that they had held a civil conversation. "This conference has been a good step," Rychlak said. "I realized that some of us are not so far apart as I thought."
WP 30 Apr 2002 Turkey To Lead Force In Kabul From News Services Tuesday, April 30, 2002; Page A15 ANKARA, Turkey, April 29 -- Turkey announced today that it would assume command of international peacekeepers in Afghanistan for six months, putting the 4,500-member force under the control of a Muslim-majority nation and bolstering the U.S. position that the war against terrorism is not between Islam and the West. The Turkish government gave no date for the shift of command, but officials from Britain, which is currently in charge of the mission, said they did not believe that a handover would take place before June. Turkey has deployed about 270 peacekeepers in Afghanistan and is the only mostly Muslim country that has contributed to the force, which is responsible for patrolling the capital, Kabul. Though the Turkish military has participated in peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Somalia, this was the first time its military leadership had agreed to take full command of a multinational force. The United States had been urging Turkey, NATO's sole Muslim member and a staunchly secular state, to head the force. Today's announcement came after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld sent a letter to the Turkish government assuring full U.S. support if Turkey took command, Turkey's private NTV television reported. In London, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon welcomed Turkey's announcement and said a British contingent would remain with the force after Turkey took command. Britain, which has led the force since the U.N. Security Council established it in late December, had wanted to hand over command in April.
Courier Mail (AU) 29 Apr 2002 Beattie warns of genocide risk news.com.au. GENOCIDE was a very real possibility in some Aboriginal communities partly because of the failures of successive state governments, Premier Peter Beattie said yesterday. Mr Beattie said alcohol abuse and related violence in remote Aboriginal communities in Queensland had already come close to killing a generation and was in danger of destroying another. He said the tragedy was partly due to the failed policies of past governments, and called on all parties to work together to turn the tide. "There are young children bashed, there are young children whose lives are being impaired, scarred for life emotionally and physically," Mr Beattie told Channel Nine's Sunday program. "There are women being blinded, women being bashed, women being raped, largely due to alcohol. "Now we are facing genocide in a number of communities (and) I don't have any pleasure in saying that. It's bloody awful. "No one can allow this to continue, and governments of all political persuasions have been incompetent, lazy, inconsiderate or paternalistic about this forever." Earlier this month, the Beattie Government announced a four-year, $14.5 million push to attack alcohol abuse and its associated high rates of illness, violence and sexual abuse. The changes were the Government's response to a controversial report into alcohol abuse in Cape York by former judge Tony Fitzgerald. Mr Fitzgerald linked the alcohol abuse with horrific community violence and health problems which he said had made some communities unviable. He called for consideration of an alcohol ban in some communities if community-driven measures failed within three years. Mr Fitzgerald's report was commissioned by the State Government after a long-running campaign by The Courier-Mail exposed the problems facing many of Queensland's Aboriginal communities. Mr Beattie yesterday appealed for a "fresh beginning" and called on Aboriginal leaders to work with his government to make the plan work. "I'm saying, let's put all the past behind us – no one can change it," he said.
The Independent (Bangladesh) 6 Apr 2002 April 6, 1971: The day two of our diplomats defected by Special Correspondent April 6, 1971 is a significant date in the history of war for liberation of Bangladesh. On this day, two of our diplomats had defected from Pakistan to Bangladesh and declared their solidarity with the Bengalee people who were subjected to atrocities and genocide unleashed by occupation army. This was the first defection from Pakistan by Bengalee diplomats that had encouraged many others to follow suit and strengthen the war for liberation. These two brave diplomats were K M Shehabuddin and Amjadul Huq. Shehabuddin, a member of Pakistan Foreign Service, was then a Second Secretary at the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi and Amjadul Huq was the Assistant Press Attaché at the same mission. Their early defection was considered historic since they did it before the formation of Mujibnagar Government on April 17 that year. Following the defection, the two diplomats addressed a press conference in New Delhi on the night of April 6 and denounced in strongest possible terms the atrocities committed by Pakistan and declared that ‘Pakistan was dead and buried under the blood of millions of martyrs on the soil of Bangladesh.’ They declared that they would work for Bangladesh and join the liberation war. In a statement issued at the press conference, they said : "We have severed our connection with fascist military dictatorship in Islamabad as our conscience no longer permits us to act against our deepest convictions. From now on our allegiance is to Bangladesh which derived its authority from the unambiguous mandate of 75 million Bengalee people." The defection of Shehabuddin and Amjadul Huq had set the stage for further defections by Bengalee diplomats abroad, shaking the foundation of Pakistan’s highly professional diplomatic service. Just 12 days after their defection, the Bengalee diplomatic and non-diplomatic staff of the Pakistan Deputy High Commission in Calcutta under the leadership of Hossain Ali declared their allegiance to Mujibnagar Government on April 18, 1971 and hoisted Bangladesh flag atop the chancery. Since then, Bengalee diplomats and non-diplomatic staff at different Pakistani missions across the globe continued to defect from Pakistan’s service, declared allegiance to independent Bangladesh and worked for liberation of the country. The defection of Bengalee diplomats took place at the missions in New York, Washington, London, Baghdad, Manila, Kathmandu, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Lagos and Berne and other capital cities.
Hindustan Times 9 Apr 2002 India offers judge to try leaders responsible for Cambodia genocide Sujit Chaterjee (PTI) Phnom Penh, April 9 Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Tuesday night offered to Cambodia an Indian Judge to try Khmer Rouge leaders responsible for the genocide of two million of people from 1975 to 1979, if the United Nations refused to participate even as the two countries signed three accords including an air services agreement. "The question of assistance in the trial of Khmer Rouge leaders was discussed. We had offered to send a Judge to participate in the trial. If the UN finally says no, then a decision will be taken," Vajpayee, who arrived here from Singapore on the second leg of his two-nation tour told reporters after the three agreements were initialled in the presence of the two Prime Ministers. The UN has stated that due to differences in the approach to set up an international tribunal and flaws in Khmer Rouge law as passed by Cambodia, it is unlikely to associate itself with any trial for Khmer Rouge leaders. The air services agreements, signed by the Disinvestment Minister Arun Shourie and Cambodian Senior Minister Sok An Lays the foundation for Indian commercial aircraft to fly to this country. Another agreement provides for Indian assistance in restoration of the famous Ta Prohm temple in the world heritage site of Angkor Wat while the third accord gives visa exemption for diplomatic and official passport holders. Vajpayee, who held wide-ranging talks with his Cambodian counterpart Hun Sen, said Phnom Penh has declared support to India's candidature for a permament seat in the UN Security Council and backed New Delhi's policy on a peaceful settlement of Jammu and Kashmir. On Pakistan-backed cross-border terrorism, Vajpayee said Hun Sen agreed that the civilised world has to take measures to stamp out the menace
South China Morning Post 9 Apr 2002 Atheist state errs in setting limits to religious belief FRANK CHING Last month, in what has become something of a ritual, the United States issued its annual report on human rights all over the world except, of course, the United States itself. And, as expected, the State Department report accused China of a wide array of human rights violations. These included religious persecution and suppression of ethnic minorities, in particular the Uygurs of Xinjiang. China, in response, unveiled its human rights report on the United States, focusing primarily on the country's social problems. Ironically, perhaps, the criticism of China's religious policies comes just as China appears to be planning more tolerance in that field. However, more tolerant religious policies will not solve the problem. Although Article 36 of the Chinese constitution says "citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of religious belief", in practice, this freedom is limited to the five religions officially recognised by the Government - Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism. Even so, the leaders of those religious organisations have to pledge to support the leadership of the Communist Party and the socialist system. So we have a situation whereby an atheistic party decides which religions are legitimate and which ones are to be labelled "evil cults", and religious leaders must support atheists as the country's leaders. This unedifying spectacle is a reflection of the Communist Party's determination to control all groups in the country so as to ensure that it remains in power permanently. So religion, in addition to serving the people's need to worship, also serves the party's need for control. Similarly, ethnic minorities are controlled by the party through the leaders of each of China's 56 minority nationalities. Each Chinese citizen carries an identity card that gives his or her ethnic status. While the Han, or ethnic Chinese, make up more than 90 per cent of the population, the party makes sure the minorities, many of whom live in sparsely populated border areas, are controlled by minority leaders who also support the leadership of the Communist Party. Many of these minority leaders, like religious leaders, are co-opted by the party and given high-sounding positions in the National People's Congress or the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top advisory body. In fact, many individuals are simultaneously both minority and religious leaders. For example, Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, a living Buddha and vice-president of the Chinese Buddhist Association, is a vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. In fact, something like 17,000 religious figures are deputies to the NPC and the CPPCC at various levels. To be sure, China has reason to be fearful of ethnic and religious strife. Its history is full of examples of rebellions led by pseudo-religious figures, such as Hong Xiuquan, the 19th-century Taiping leader who claimed to be the brother of Jesus. Similarly, China has witnessed ethnic wars, some of which saw ethnic Chinese being subjugated by warlike nomadic peoples, including both the Mongols and the Manchus. The Communist Party should end the system of attaching an ethnic label to each citizen. For one thing, there are Chinese citizens who don't belong to any of the 56 groups. Moreover, the party should also abandon the practice of limiting religious belief to five official religions. This, too, is no longer in accord with reality, if it ever was. It is certainly incongruous to insist that China has only five authorised religions when, in Hong Kong (which has been part of China now for five years), there are Jewish synagogues and Hindu temples as well as adherents of other religions, such as Bahaism. Moreover, even within the mainland, there are Chinese citizens who do not fall into any of the recognised ethnic groups or the five authorised religions. One example is Israel Epstein, a Polish Jew whose parents took him to China as an infant. Epstein studied and worked in China as a journalist before going to the United States in the 1940s - where he also worked as a journalist - before deciding to return to China, where he became a Chinese citizen and joined the Communist Party. Of course, there are only a handful of people like Epstein. However, China's nationality law, adopted in 1980, does allow foreign nationals to become naturalised as Chinese citizens. And it says nothing about limiting applicants to adherents of one of the five official religions, or to members of one of the recognised ethnic groupings in China. That being the case, China must assume the trappings of a pluralistic society, where individuals can decide for themselves whether they want to be considered to be a member of a minority group and whether they wish to be part of an organised religion. The state should not be in the business of telling its citizens which religions they are free to believe in. Frank Ching (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Hong Kong-based journalist and commentator.
BBC 13 April, 2002, Violence returns to Gujarat The Gujarat violence has tarnished the image of the BJP Two people have been killed in renewed violence between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat. It comes as partners in India's governing coalition decide whether to withdraw their support from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over its refusal to sack the Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi. They want to count votes over dead bodies Congress Party member Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi Mr Modi is accused of turning a blind eye when Hindu mobs went on the rampage in Gujarat last month in violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 700 people, most of them Muslims. If a significant number of parties withdraw their support for the BJP, it could lead to the fall of the government. Correspondents say the BJP's allies have also been upset by a speech by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in which he appeared to blame Muslims for provoking the violence. A BBC correspondent in Delhi says it was probably the most partisan speech of any prime minister since independence. A meeting of the BJP leadership on Friday urged Mr Modi to hold early elections in Gujarat, which has a Hindu majority - a move denounced by the opposition. Army called in A curfew has been imposed in the area of Ahmedabad where the two people were killed on Friday night. Vajpayee's speech was more hardline in tone Nearly 30 people were injured in the clashes, Reuters news agency reports, and the army has been called in to maintain order. A key ally of the BJP, the Telugu Desam Party, which holds nearly 30 seats in the lower house of the federal parliament, says it will decide on Sunday whether to withdraw its support for the BJP. It has been adamant that Mr Modi should be dismissed to avoid "eroding public confidence" in the government. Last month's violence in Gujarat started after Muslims attacked a train carrying hardline Hindus from the disputed holy site of Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Nearly 60 Hindu activists died in that attack. Shortly afterwards, a wave of Hindu-led rioting, burning and killing engulfed Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat. Thousands of Muslims are still homeless. Mr Modi's administration in Gujarat was heavily criticised by India's human rights commission for its handling of the riots, in which the police were seen to stand by as Hindu mobs killed Muslims. Muslims criticised The BJP's Hindu nationalist agenda has left many of its avowedly secular allies in the governing coalition uneasy. Mr Modi has become increasingly unpopular Prime Minister Vajpayee did little to dispel those fears in a speech on Friday which analysts say marks a return by him to a more hardline Hindu stance. "Hindus stay in millions but never hurt others' religious feelings," he told a three day summit of the BJP in the western city of Goa. "But where ever Muslims are, they do not want to stay peacefully." Mr Modi has still to decide whether to accept his party's advice to hold elections in Gujarat. Reuters quotes one BJP member as saying it would be a good time to hold elections, as Gujarat is now "burning with strong" Hindu revivalist fever. A senior member of the opposition Congress Party, Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, said the timing was wrong. "They want to count votes over dead bodies," he said. The BJP summit, being held in Goa, was called to discuss the party's disastrous performance in a number of state elections in February, as well as widespread criticism in India of its handling of the Gujarat riots. [ Send this story to a friend | Easy-print version | Search archives ] A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL Torturers in America 4/12/2002 OR GOOD REASON, the US government has launched a global campaign against terrorists. President Bush has said the purpose of this struggle against criminals who murder and maim innocent civilians is to bring them to justice or bring justice to them. Viewed against the backdrop of the war on terrorism, a report issued this week by Amnesty International, ''United States of America: A Safe Haven for Torturers,'' suggests a blatant contradiction. The report documents case after case of the vilest killers and torturers living at liberty in this country, at times in proximity to their surviving victims. An awful question hovers over these accounts of torturers who come to America to hide from justice. How can it be that the United States - which proposes to teach the rest of the world lessons about the rule of law, respect for human rights, and protection of the individual against the overweening power of the state - makes so little effort to identify, prosecute, or extradite foreign torturers living here? When court cases are filed against foreign torturers, they are usually brought by immigrants who were victims, not by the US government. The case of Kemal Mehinovic, a Bosnian Muslim civilian who was tortured mercilessly for months in his hometown of Bosanski Samac in Bosnia, is representative. After surviving the brutality, Mehinovic was transferred to a concentration camp and eventually released in a prisoner exchange after 21/2 years of incarceration. He then found his family and emigrated to this country, where he was granted permanent residence. In 1998 Mehinovic learned that a man he remembered as one of his torturers, Nikola Vukovic, was living in a suburb of Atlanta. The same year, Mehinovic filed a lawsuit against Vukovic under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act. A final ruling in that trial is pending. Similarly, Haitian refugees living in the United States have made the desolating discovery that torturers and death squad leaders from Haiti's former military dictatorship have found refuge here. Former top officers from El Salvador's military junta, suspects in the torture and murder of many Americans as well as Salvadorans, have also been discovered living in the United States, like those Nazi fugitives who found comfortable havens after World War II in Argentina, Bolivia, or Chile. One of the Guatemalan generals who supervised the genocidal massacres conducted there in the '80s even received a degree in public administration from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 1991. It makes no sense to be tightening visa requirements and border security in the war on terrorism while such monsters can cross US borders and live here with impunity. This story ran on page A22 of the Boston Globe on 4/12/2002.
PTI 22 Apr 2002 Five killed in Ahmedabad violence; toll 26 PTI Ahmedabad, April 22 At least five persons, including a 30-year-old woman, were on Monday killed in police firing and 15 injured as fresh violence raged through Shahpur and Behrampur localities of Ahmedabad for the second successive day, taking the toll in riots in the city since Sunday to 26. A dozen houses and shops were set on fire in Khanpur and Nagoriward localities under Shahpur police station prompting authorities to impose indefinite curfew from 2 pm, police said. Two persons were stabbed and police opened fire to quell a rioting mob in its aftermath resulting in injuries to four at Gheekanta locality of Mirzapur. The Army was deployed in all sensitive areas of the walled city at 7.30 am. Two more companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were deployed in violence-affected areas of the city. Three persons were killed in police firing and nine others injured in Shahpur and Behrampura areas in fresh eruption of violence in the city on Monday afternoon. Earlier, four more persons succumbed to injuries on Sunday night. The army was deployed at 7.30 am on Monday to keep a check on any untoward incident, police said. Two more companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) were also deployed in the affected areas of the city, they said. As many as 125 people received injuries in large-scale violence in Gomtipur, Bapunagar, Rakhiyal areas of the city, Kadi town of Mehsana district and Kapadvanj and Mehmdavad of Kheda district since yesterday, police said adding curfew continued in all the trouble-torn areas. At least 17 people were killed, 13 of them in police firing, yesterday and over 100 injured over last two days here and at Kheda and Mehsana districts in the state. In Ahmedabad, police fired 633 rounds and burst 382 teargas shells to countain the violence in city areas till late last night. Adequate security arrangements have been made to enable school and college students to appear for the on-going examinations, police added. India warns against criticism over Gujarat riots Palash Kumar
AFP 22 Apr 2002 New Delhi, April 22 India on Monday tried to stem growing international criticism of communal violence in riot-torn Gujarat state, saying it did not appreciate "interference" in its affairs. "We would like to make clear that India does not appreciate interference in our internal affairs, including the utilisation of the Indian media by foreign leaders as well as by visiting dignitaries to make public statements in order to pander to their domestic lobbies," foreign ministry spokeswoman Nirupama Rao told reporters. Rao was reacting specifically to an interview visiting Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomiojaa gave The Indian Express newspaper on Friday, in which he called the Hindu-Muslim violence in Gujarat "a matter of great concern." "The pictures of carnage are very disturbing," the minister said. "We are concerned, as we are when something of that nature happens anywhere in the world." India has lodged a protest with Finland through diplomatic channels, Rao said. A European Union fact-finding team has travelled to Gujarat and is expected to raise concern about the situation, according to Western diplomats in New Delhi. Rao said New Delhi would wait for the EU findings before giving a reaction. Rao said the international community needed to recognise how much India was doing to handle the situation in Gujarat. "We have the wherewithal to deal with the situation," she said. Asked if India would react similarly if the United Nations were to make an adverse comment on the situation, Rao said, "We will make it perfectly clear that the government of India is taking all the necesary steps to deal with the situation. "India is a pluralistic democracy... India has the resilience and capacity to deal with the situation. That must be recognised by the international community," she said.
Indian Express 25 Apr 2002 Grand conspiracy behind riots in Gujarat, says Sahmat report Express News Service New Delhi, April 25: SAHMAT released a comprehensive and updated report on the recent Gujarat carnage - Genocide 2002, in the city today. The report prepared by a Mumbai-based Communalism Combat, gives a background to the current situation starting with the Ayodhya buildup, the Godhra incident and the subsequent genocide across Gujarat. Holding the BJP-led government responsible for the situation in the state, Communalism Combat editor Teesta Seetalvad said the situation was still not under control and steps need to be taken to ensure minorities’ safety. ‘‘The government led by Narendra Modi is throwing up a new challenge to secularism everyday. The situation is still very bad and fresh incidents are reported daily,’’ said Seetalvad. Calling the Godhra carnage an unfortunate incident which needs to be condemned, she insisted that it should be viewed in the backdrop of events in the state over the last four years. ‘‘Though no provocation can justify the Godhra incident, those involved should be punished for it. However, the incidents should be viewed in the backdrop of the happening in the state since BJP came to power four years back and the row over the Ram Janmabhoomi issue.’’ The report released today starts with the recent quotes of the leaders of BJP, RSS and VHP with messages of communal hatred and moves to the event of February 27. The excerpts from a chapter on the Godhra carnage and the reasons for the same — ‘‘While no provocation whatsoever can justify a heinous crime like burning people to death. But the misconduct of kar sevaks is nonetheless important to record for two reasons: One, given the persistent hooliganism, where was the intelligence machinery? And why no preventive measures were taken by the police? Two, if the attack on the kar sevaks was pre-planned, as Chief Minister Modi and Union Home Minister L.K. Advani have maintained, was outrageous conduct of kar sevaks a part of the pre-planning?’’ In a chapter entitled ‘‘Mapping the Violence’’, the report says ‘‘Sixteen of Gujarat’s 24 districts were engulfed in one of the most organised armed mob attacks in February 2002. In some parts of Ahmedabad and Mehsana districts, they are still on the loose. Nowhere were the mobs less than two to three thousand, more often five to 10,000. This and the fact that they were armed with swords, trishuls and agricultural implements that could kill, the fact that the matter of arson, hacking and killings were chillingly similar, all suggested a carefully laid out plan behind the attacks.’’ She also spoke of the ‘‘vicious climate’’ that had been gradually building up through the publication of provocative pamphlets. And this did not happen overnight. The campaign with the help of pamphlets had been going on for nearly four years, the time the BJP government has been in power in the state. She flayed the regional media. The language press had behaved, she said, in an extremely partisan manner and had even egged on citizens of the majority community to take up arms.
Financial Times (UK) 26 Apr 2002 West labels 900 deaths in Indian riots genocide By Edna Fernandes in New Delhi India's worst race riots in a decade, in which nearly 900 people, mostly Muslims, have died, were on Friday described by western diplomats as genocide. It is the first time foreign observers have issued such a damning verdict on the recent communal violence in the western state of Gujurat, in which there have been mass killings of the minority Muslim community by Hindu mobs. The criticism came at the end of a week of tense relations between India and the diplomatic community in Delhi. On Friday new curfews were imposed on parts of Ahmedabad, Gujurat's largest city, after fresh Hindu-Muslim clashes. Many of the latest casualties were caused by police firing as the authorities struggled to break up gangs of Hindus and Muslims hurling stones and acid at each other. A spokesman for a group of senior western diplomats told the Financial Times the Gujurat killings were not just an internal matter for India but also a human rights issue of international concern. He rejected comments by Atal Behari Vajpayee, the prime minister, that foreigners should not interfere in the Gujarat troubles, which have damaged his Hindu-nationalist BJP-led government. Findings of several reports from the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, leaked to the media, said there was evidence of pre-planned killings of Muslims, that the BJP state government was complicit in the killings and that the death toll might be more than 2,000. The leaked findings echo investigations by non-governmental organisations and human rights groups that have accused the state government of complicity in the killings of Muslims. Relations between India and the diplomatic community hit a low last week when three ambassadors were rebuffed in an attempt to present concerns to Jaswant Singh, India's foreign minister. One western diplomat involved said: "We see this as stonewalling and a sign of bad conscience. "As for India's insistance that Gujarat is an internal matter, that's a specious argument. It's not an internal matter. It's genocide."
Milli Gazette (Indian Muslims' Leading English Newspaper -bimonthly) 27 April 2002 New dimensions of Gujarat genocide By N Jamal Ansari When Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Ahmedabad, he said, ‘I have not came here for counting dead bodies’. The statement came from heart. It has been established now that more than ninety percent victims of Golwalkarite Doctrine were Muslims and as per his own earlier statement at the time of assembly elections in four states, ‘BJP did not need votes of Muslims’. Hence it was quite natural for him to avoid any count. It is also known to the outside world that the objective of Sangh Parivar for herding terrorised Muslims into camps and isolating them from localities they inhabited is achieved. In short, media has exposed saffron brand of governance under which Muslims should be second class citizen. For enlarging the ambit of saffron Hinduism, the media was taught a lesson on April, 7, on that day Godse overtook Mahatma Gandhi in his own Sabarmati Ashram. Not only Medha Patkar was assaulted but police was pressed to silence media. Some deeper analysis point out that the whole ethnicide of Muslims is not confined to Gujarat alone. The issues involved are not merely dead bodies, burning of houses or humanism. Let us discuss the issues and their impact on Indian Nation. Gujarat is one of the most prosperous and industrialised states of Indian Union. Edible oil, milk, dairy products, diamond and textiles trading are backbone of state revenue. In short economic health of the state is far better than other states. Rule of law, peace and communal harmony are pre-condition for economic prosperity-Gujaratis themselves irrespective of religious tag are prime business community. But television channels showed people in cars looting and burning Muslim establishments. How this middle and upper middle class gentry changed itself into a group of looters and killers? Behind their attitudinal change lies the Hinduism of Savarkar and Golwalker brand. I must point out that Zionism and Jews are two different concepts. Likewise Hinduism of Golwalkar and Mahatma Gandhi or Swami Vivekananda are poles apart. If one closely follows the culture of Sangh Parivar, one will find out it violent, racist, anti-women and separatist. In the name of Lord Rama, they have done everything which is anti-thesis of his preachings. Coming back to the economic activity, Muslims are engaged in several trades and businesses. Motor workshops and other mechanical jobs are their one of the main jobs. In garment industry Muslims have fair share. Needlework and embroidery traditionally belongs to them. In industrial workforce, Muslim constitute the biggest section. Hoteling and restaurant running are also their prime sectors. In the transport sector, they run majority of local auto-rikshawas and taxis. In truck business also they have stake. Primarily the segment of driving the vehicles of all sorts is a job done by Muslims. Beside Muslims, trading and industrial activity in general also made a downward slide due to violent and hostile atmosphere of the state. Gujarat Chamber of Commerce has given an assessment. The total loss of nearly Rs 2500 crore within a week includes Rs 1500 crore from closure of markets. Production loss is of Rs 650 crore whereas Rs 100 crore loss is that of self employed people. Diamond trading alone accounted for a loss of Rs 300 crore. Keep in mind that these figures do not include the losses suffered by Muslims. Naredra Modi is so much busy in experimenting as well as implementing saffron agenda that he has no time to assess these losses. Industry and business associations should have been more active and vocal but they are keeping a deadly silence. Only one of them, HDFC Chairman Deepak Parekh spoke. He called Gujarat genocide as ‘a national failure’. He categorically admitted in an interview that, ‘the carnage after Godhra has hit business sentiment badly. Can you believe that the sales of many manufacturing companies have collapsed in Gujarat in the crucial fiscal end month of March due to riots. Beside riots have damaged India’s reputation more in international forums than what is happening in Pakistan’ (Indian Express, March 28). Another national daily quotes industry sources to say that, ‘the Prime Minister must announce punitive measures against the people responsible for the mayhem and take steps to resurrect the state economy which has been dealt a body blow’ (The Hindustan Times, April 5). Beside trading and industrial losses, another problem has cropped up in Gujarat. Muslim employees of government and public sector like Banks and Railways are desperate to leave Gujarat at the earliest. According to the Indian Express of April 14, at least 27 employees of western Railways have applied for transfers on humanitarian grounds. The State Bank of India has already transferred eight employees, two or three more transfers are expected. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has also received half a dozen applications for transfer outside Gujarat. There are reports that some IPS officers also want to leave the state. Considering the above mentioned facts published by a national daily one can easily conclude that there is a constitutional breakdown in Gujarat besides law and order collapse. Is it not a fit case of implementation of Article 356? Finally analyse some points. Narendra Modi has got clean chit from Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, Home Minister L.K. Advani, BJP President Jan Krishnamurthy and the whole Sangh-Parivar despite the fact that each and every responsible forum from media to human rights organizations have questioned his direct role in the genocide of Muslims. National Human Rights Commission has indicted him. The British High Commission has reported to the British Foreign Office in London that, ‘the violence in Gujarat was pre-planned. If the Sabarmati Express tragedy had not happened, another flashpoint would have been created to justify premeditated violence as reaction’ (Hindustan Times, April 15). The role of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is very dubious. On April 4, at Shah Alam Camp in Ahmedabad, he said, ‘I don’t know with what face I will go abroad’. He climbed down from false emotions on April, 9 and April, 11 in Singapore and Cambodia where he stated that, ‘India is an ancient country with one billion people. Let not some of the recent unfortunate happenings in India create any unease in you’. And lastly on April, 12, he shouted at Goa- ‘Wherever there are Muslims there is strife. Don’t teach us secularism. We allow (Muslims and Christians) to follow their religion’. Not even once, he displayed decency to declare that the guilty will be punished. Now what can be done? Replacement of Narendra Modi is not a solution. Article 356 should be imposed in Gujarat. As the state Governor also belongs to RSS, he should be replaced and any centralist intellectual or diplomat may be appointed Governor. At this time elections cannot be held there. Former Chief Election Commissioner, TN Seshan has clearly pointed out that, ‘the EC has access to reports from the NHRC, National Minorities Commission, media and opposition parties. It depends upon it to decide about it. Presently conditions in Gujarat are not conducive for free, fair polls’ (Indian Express, April 15). Hence declaring elections will be nothing but a conspiracy. It is high time for people who believe in rule of law to rise in unison and take determined measures to confront Hindutva Brigade frontally. Otherwise, I am afraid, that we will loose our fruits of independence. We are slowly but surely moving towards a fascist state and we have to reverse this situation.
Milli Gazette 27 Apr 2002 Unprecedented outpouring, unbecoming of a prime minister Vajpayee equates Islam with terrorism Less than a fortnight ago Vajpayee had condemned the killings and the continued riots in Gujarat as a kalank (blot) on India’s face. But now he says: ‘Gujarat mein kya hua? Agar Sabarmati na hota to jo hua who nahi hota (What happened in Gujarat? If the attack on Sabarmati [train] had not taken place, then what followed [anti-Muslim violence] would not have happened). Mr Vajpayee did condemn the aftermath of the train attack at Godhra but hastened to add: Lekin aag lagai kisne? (But who started the fire?). A statement by the Indian prime minister equating Islam with terrorism continues to cause an unprecedented uproar in the Indian political life, especially among Muslims and secular circles. Vajpayee has been accused of having finally cast off his 'moderate' mask which he has carefully donned all these years to present an acceptable face of the Hindu extremists whose political party, the BJP, he leads. The whole world heard Vajpayee say it live on TV on April 12 in Goa: ‘Jahan Jahan Musalman hain ghul milkar nahi rahte hain (wherever there are Muslims they don’t want to live in peace)’. And this was just the beginning. Vajpayee went ahead with Muslim-bashing and added, ‘Auron se ghulna milna nahi chahte. Shantipurna tarike se parchar karne ke bajaye atankwad se dara dhamka kar apne mat ka parchar karna chahte hain (They don’t want to mix with others. Instead, they want to preach and propagate their religion by creating fear and terror in the minds of others). Vajpayee dwelt at length on 'Islamic fundamentalism' in the countries he visited recently. He said: 'one version of Islam taught love, peace and compassion' while 'Islam today was being used for militancy and Jihad and trying to bring the world under its influence. ‘Har jagah jahan Muslims bahut sankhya mein rahte hain, unki chinta hai ki kahin Islam ugra rup na le le (wherever Muslims live in large numbers, the rulers apprehend that Islam can take an aggressive turn)’ Vajpayee went on to say. As if even this was not enough, the prime minister of a country, which has 131.5 million Muslim population, tried to squarely blame Muslims for the on-going riots in Gujarat. Less than a fortnight ago Vajpayee himself had condemned the killings and the continued riots in Gujarat as a kalank (blot) on India’s face. But now he says: ‘Gujarat mein kya hua? Agar Sabarmati na hota to jo hua who nahi hota (What happened in Gujarat? If the attack on Sabarmati [train] had not taken place, then what followed [anti-Muslim violence] would not have happened). Mr Vajpayee did condemn the aftermath of the train attack at Godhra but hastened to add: Lekin aag lagai kisne? (But who started the fire?). It is the same theory what the Gujarat chief minister Narendr Modi who is directly and indirectly involved in the massacres in the state has been advocating. Modi has all along been maintaining that the riots are a direct 'reaction' of what happened in Godhra. After the outcry at all levels inside and outside Parliament, Vajpayee took recourse to the time-tested trick of claiming that the media has quoted him 'out of context'. Vajpayee and his spin-doctors now claim that his remarks were being misrepresented: ‘It is projected as anti-Islam and anti-Muslim. A motivated propaganda, both within the country and internationally, is sought to be launched on the basis of such misrepresentation. My remarks taken in totality contained nothing that is either against Islam or Muslims’ Vajpayee said in a press statement. Stating that in his speech in Goa he had drawn attention to two contradictory streams in Islam, Vajpayee added in his press statement, ‘I had said Islam has two forms. One is that which tolerates others, which teaches its adherents to follow the path of truth, which preaches compassion and sensitivity.’ ‘But these days militancy in the name of Islam leaves no room for tolerance. It has raised the slogan of Jihad. It is dreaming of recasting the entire world in its mould’ he added. Prime Minister’s anti-Muslim and anti-Christian tirade has attracted widespread condemnation. Asked about the controversial statement in a press conference, Congress Party president, Sonia Gandhi, said that Vajpayee has lost his 'mental balance.' Ghulam Nabi Azad, president of the Congress party in Jammu & Kashmir demanded that Vajpayee should be arrested under the anti-terrorism law (POTA) for trying to divide various communities of the country. Shahid Siddiqui, general secretary of the Samajwadi Party, said that Vajpayee's statement is tantamount to declaring war against Muslims. GM Banatwala, member of Parliament and president of the Indian Union Muslim League, condemned PM’s remark and called them most deplorable. ‘His proactive Goa speech and the fascist attitude already endorsed by the BJP in Goa session are grave threats to democracy,' Banatwala said. All-India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat president, Syed Shahabuddin said that the extremist Hindu face of Vajpayee has been unmasked. The All-India Christian Council (AICC) has also deplored Vajpayee's remarks. ‘In one swoop, he has defamed Islam and Christianity, condoned state terrorism, forgiven the Gujarat chief minister Narender Modi and sought to convert the bigotry and hate campaigns of the RSS and the VHP into votes for the BJP’ the AICC said. The council also said ‘to now rationalize and thereby encourage retaliatory violence in its wake is to savagely criminalise civilizational discourse in India.’ This was not the first time when the Prime Minister made cynical remarks. Vajpayee who has been called a 'moderate' in an extremist Hindu nationalist party, has a history of making such remarks. And he has always tried to explain away criticism by claiming that the media misquoted him. It was just last year when Vajpayee tried to justify the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by his own partymen. Appearing in an Iftar Party hosted on December 6, 2000 by the lone Muslim member in his government, Syed Shahnawaz Husain, Vajpayee said: ‘Ayodhya mein Ram mandir ka nirman rashtriya bhavana ke prakatikaran ka kam tha, jo abhi tak pura nahi hua hai (construction of the Ram Temple at Ayodhya is an expression of national sentiment which is yet to be realized).’ Vajpayee also rejected the demand for the resignation of the three ministers in his government including LK Advani, the home minister, who have been charge-sheeted for their role in the demolition of the Babri Mosque. Vajpayee later claimed that he was misquoted. During the Uttar Pradesh state legislative assembly elections last February Vajpayee had said that his party, the BJP, does not need Muslim votes. Earlier during Bill Clinton’s presidency when Vajpayee visited the US, he said that he is 'a sawayamsevak first and then Prime Minister' and that 'whether he remains Prime Minister or not he will remain a swayamsevak.’ Cadres of the extremist Hindu outfit Rashtriya Sawyamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent party of the BJP, are called 'swayamsevaks'. Later Vajpayee claimed that he intended to say that he was a servant of the nation! Daily Hindustan Times has editorially advised Vajpayee: 'This can't go on. India cannot afford a prime minister who shoots his mouth off on sensitive issues and then issues tedious clarifications two days later.' An editorial in another important newspaper, The Times of India, said that 'A leopard, they say, cannot change its spots. But in India we have long been prepared to believe otherwise. A case in point is that of prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee…Mr Vajpayee's unwarranted diatribe against a section of his own people will be difficult to reconcile with his image of being a moderate. It will come as a grave shock to a nation still coming to terms with the trauma of the past month and a half,' it said. www.milligazette.com
AFP 29 Apr 2002 Muslim militants face probe after Christian massacre in Indonesia JAKARTA, April 29 (AFP) - Indonesia's police chief Monday vowed to investigate whether a militant Muslim group was involved in the massacre of 13 Christians in the religiously-divided city of Ambon as the government mulled declaring martial law there. "On whether there will be an investigation of the Laskar Jihad (militants), of course that will be done," police chief General Da'i Bachtiar told reporters at the presidential palace. "We will continue to investigate which groups were behind the attack." At least 13 people, including a baby, were slaughtered when masked assailants dressed in military fatigues and armed with swords, M-16 rifles and mortars, raided Soiya and Ahuru villages on the outskirts of the Maluku provincial capital Ambon before dawn Sunday. The Java-based Laskar Jihad has been blamed for numerous attacks on Christians in Maluku since thousands of its fighters were publicly dispatched to the region in May 2000. That was more than a year after deadly sectarian fighting broke out in January 1999 between Christians and Muslims there. Sunday's massacre, further shattering a fragile two-month-old peace pact which had briefly kept an uneasy calm in the Maluku islands, prompted the government to consider declaring martial law. Vice president Hamzah Haz said the government was considering whether to step up the 18-month old civil emergency in Maluku to a military emergency. "A team needs to conduct an assessment and that team will be sent to (Ambon) to determine" whether a military emergency should be declared, Haz told reporters in Jakarta. Army chief General Endriartono Sutarto said troops needed a "legal umbrella" to protect them if they take "tough steps" to enforce security. "Don't accuse us of human rights violations and drag us to court if we take tough steps," he was quoted as telling reporters by the state Antara newsagency. Bachtiar confirmed after a top security meeting on Ambon at the palace that "the thinking is moving towards" martial law. Earlier he said a military emergency was "so far" not necessary. He added that a team comprising military, police and home ministry officials had been sent to Ambon to help the authorities work out a way to contain the upswing in violence. Sunday's bloody raid capped several days of heightened tensions since Thursday's 52nd anniversary of the outlawed Republic of South Maluku (RMS), a small separatist movement which resurfaced in Maluku in 1999. It also came two days after Laskar Jihad commander Jaffar Umar Thalib harangued local Muslims to wage war on the RMS, a predominantly Christian group which many Muslims accuse of fanning religious tensions. An Ambon-based Dutch Catholic priest, Pastor Cornelius Bohm, said he heard Thalib telling a Friday prayer rally to fight the RMS after the separatists defied authorities and raised flags on their anniversary. "He called on them to make war against the 'Christian RMS'. He urged them to make bombs," Bohm told AFP by phone from Ambon. Survivors of Sunday's carnage said the attackers hollered "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) and spoke in Javanese as they rampaged through the villages, brandishing swords and hurling home-made bombs. "Local residents said they very clearly heard attackers speaking in Javanese with Javanese accents. There are no Javanese here except the Laskar Jihad fighters," Bohm said. "Of course they carried out the attack. They were aided by others though." Ambon was tense but quiet on Monday and shops and businesses had reopened, Bohm and other residents said while police in Jakarta said some 400 police and soldiers have been deployed to guard Soiya. More than 5,000 people have been killed in three years of conflict. The peace that settled briefly over Maluku following the February peace accord was first punctured by a bomb blast in Ambon earlier this month that killed four people.
The Jakarta Post, April 29, 2002 Ethnic Chinese urged to enter political arena A'an Suryana, Jakarta The struggle of Indonesians of Chinese descent to put an end to racial discrimination here will never succeed if they fail to gain influence in the decision making process in the country, a discussion concluded on Saturday. Titled The Duty and Role of Chinese Indonesians in Building the Nation and State, the discussion underlined the fact that Chinese Indonesians must become well represented in politics in order to stymie the adoption of any potentially discriminatory government policies. By actively entering politics, Chinese Indonesians could also contribute something to the country, according to the discussion participants. "Chinese Indonesians should not merely concentrate on business, but must also consider entering politics. By entering politics, they could gain significant bargaining power in the decision making process in the country," lawyer Frans Hendra Winarta told the participants. All the speakers, and most of the participants during the discussion, which was organized by the Tionghoa Indonesia Association (Inti), were Chinese Indonesians. The speakers included, among others, Eddie Lembong, the chairman of Inti, Brig. Gen. (ret) Teddy Jusuf and K. Sindhunata. Despite being powerful in business, the Chinese Indonesian community, comprising 6 percent of the total population of 210 million here, is not well represented in politics. Few of them manage to enter the legislative and executive branches so that there is no powerful lobby to act on behalf of the interests of the Chinese community. Some political parties seeking to represent Chinese Indonesians have been formed but they have failed to get a single representative into the legislature. Winarta said that Chinese Indonesians should learn from the Jewish minority in the U.S., which was backed by a powerful lobby. "The Jews make up only 3 percent of the total U.S. population, but they are very powerful. In the Israel-Palestine conflict, for example, the U.S. government can never go against Israel because of the Jewish lobby," said Winarta, who is also a member of the National Law Commission (KHN). There were several important politicians and scholars from the Jewish community in the U.S., including Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Allbright and Daniel Lev, said Winarta. "The parents of Chinese Indonesians should not merely encourage their kids to go into business, but the kids must also be urged to go into politics," he said. Another speaker, Benny G. Setiono, shared Winarta's view, saying that Chinese Indonesians must come out of "the business cage." "Politics is not scary and should not be avoided. Rather it should be learned and understood. Chinese Indonesians can form political parties, or join the existing parties to fight for the interests of their community," said Benny, from Inti's Jakarta chapter. However, instead of thinking narrow-mindedly about political parties, Chinese Indonesians should join hands with other prodemocratic elements in the country to build a democratic and corruption-free Indonesia, said Winarta. "Should Indonesia achieve genuine democracy, transparency, justice and the other good qualities of democracy, racial discrimination would automatically be abolished in the country," Winarta said. After the start of the reform era, the Indonesian government had repealed a few discriminatory rules against Chinese Indonesians. However, many others still remained, such as the regulations on Chinese Indonesian's citizenship.
Tehran Times 25 Apr 2002 Armenians Mark Anniversary of April 24 Massacre TEHRAN Tehran's Armenians assembled before the UN office in Tehran on Wednesday to mark the anniversary of the massacre of the Armenians in Turkey on April 24, 1915. The Armenian citizens marched from Sarkis Church to the UN office to voice outrage against events on that day. Archbishop Sebuh Sarkissian told the crowd before the start of the rally that all people are entitled to live in their land with independence. The protesters issued a resolution, in which they called for collective efforts as the requisite for administration of justice and restoration of the rights of the oppressed nations worldwide. They blasted Palestinians' genocide by the racist Zionist regime and called on the UN to prevent continued massacre of the defenseless Palestinian people.
War Without Borders (Middle East Report 222, Spring 2002) Back to 222 Table of Contents Refugees in Their Own Country Maggy Zanger Refugees from Kirkuk in the Bardaqaram camp in the PUK-controlled area of Iraqi Kurdistan. Kirkukis in this camp recently demonstrated outside the UN headquarters. (Hiwa Osman) Six bodies uncovered in February during construction on an old Iraqi army base in Iraqi Kurdistan were grim reminders of the Ba'th regime's past genocidal policies towards the Kurds. "The past is ever present in Kurdistan," as one Kurdish journalist says. But little reminder is needed of past atrocities when the present provides an ongoing illustration. Every week, week after week, year after year, dozens of Kurdish, Turkoman or Assyrian or Chaldean Christian families are forcibly expelled from Iraqi government-held areas and show up destitute in the Kurdish self-rule region. They are the latest victims of nearly 40 years of ethnic cleansing that continues unabated today. Kurdish sources say that in the past ten years alone nearly 200,000 people have been forced out of the predominantly Kurdish districts of Kirkuk, Khanaqin and Sinjar, which run along the line between Kurdish- and central government-held areas. More conservative estimates, like that of the US Committee for Refugees, say nearly 100,000. At any rate, by summer 2001, the forced deportation of non-Arabs was happening on "a large scale," according to the UN special rapporteur on Iraq.(1) These numbers represent but a few of an unknown number of non-Arabs whose ethnic cleansing from a strategically significant and oil-rich area of Iraq began long before the term "ethnic cleansing" entered the vocabulary of international law and human rights. Kirkukis Jalah Jawhar, minister of industry in Sulaimaniyya, where the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) controls one of two Kurdish enclaves, is documenting the slow demographic shift in northwestern Iraq from predominantly Kurdish to predominantly Arab. He publishes Kirkuk magazine and is writing a book on the "whole history" of Arabization. Jawhar is one of hundreds of thousands of Kirkukis who staff the offices, classrooms and businesses of Kurdish urban centers like Sulaimaniyya and Erbil in today's self-governing area. Families like Jawhar's, expelled in the 1970s and 1980s, are now fairly well-established in their new lives. But they never forget where they came from, and never give up hope of returning. Kirkukis write reports, submit commentary to local and international newspapers, organize Kirkuk cultural centers and start organizations like the Higher Committee for Confronting Arabization. More recently deported Kirkukis jam in to dismal collective towns to which the Iraqi government forcefully moved Kurds in the 1970s and 1980s to strip the countryside of a population to support Kurdish guerrillas. Others make do with informal camps on the outskirts of urban centers where they do their best to erect homes with scraps of canvas, old jerry cans and, if they are lucky, handmade mud bricks. Most are suddenly dispossessed middle-class business and property owners. They survive by their wits and a faulty patchwork of aid from the UN, NGOs and family who may have preceded them in flight. While those forced out by the Iraqi government's Arabization policies since the 1960s hail from hundreds of cities, towns and villages along the dividing line between the Kurdish self-ruled area and government-held territory, they are often all referred to as Kirkukis. In some ways, Kirkuk lies at the heart of Kurdish nationalism, and certainly at the heart of Kurdish-Ba'th Party fighting over the shape of Kurdish autonomy within Iraq. "Kirkuk is to the Kurds what Jerusalem is to the Palestinians," says Salah Rashid, the minister of humanitarian affairs, displaced persons and Anfal victims in Sulaimaniyya. Kirkuk has been a majority-Kurdish city for hundreds of years. It lies along an important trade and administrative route linking what is now central Iraq with Turkey, Syria and Iran. Commerce and governance brought Arabs and Turks to the area, but even the Ba'th admitted in 1989 that their Arabization efforts to date "did not raise the percentage [of Arabs and Turkomans in Kirkuk] to 60 percent."(2) Huge oil fields stretching from south of Kirkuk up to Erbil were discovered in the early part of the twentieth century. They offered the Kurds enormous economic promise but brought political catastrophe. The Kurds claim that the Kirkuk area is Kurdish and therefore must be part of any Kurdish autonomous area. They further claim they should receive a percentage of oil revenues from the area. But since Kirkuk oil accounted for 70 percent of Iraq's total oil output by the 1970s, successive post-monarchy regimes have not been amenable to Kurdish views that Kirkuk should be a part of their autonomous region. Various autonomy negotiations between the Kurds and Iraqi regimes, from the 1960s to 1991, have fallen on the sword of Kirkuk. The past four decades have been an endless cycle of government oppression, Kurdish rebellion, war, negotiations and breakdown of negotiations. Kirkuk oil is the primary but not the only reason for the cyclic warfare. The various Iraqi governments from 1958 onward were steeped in the pan-Arabism of the day, which by definition rejected Kurdish claims of self-determination in an Arab state. The Ba'th Party saw Kurdish nationalists as a possible Trojan horse because of their early collaboration with Iran, the United States and even Israel. There is some speculation that Saddam Hussein and other Ba'thists have racist attitudes towards the Kurds who are more closely related, ethnically, to Persians than to Arabs.(3) Creating Facts on the Ground Iraqi governments could only claim that Kirkuk is outside the Kurdish area by altering the demographic reality. This they have done with some success through an ethnic cleansing policy they themselves refer to as Arabization.(4) When the Ba'th Party first came to power in 1963, it immediately began to force Kurds, Turkomans and Christians from the villages surrounding the oil fields. Their villages were destroyed and rebuilt for Arab settlers. The second Ba'thist regime of 1968, in need of time to consolidate power, decided to appease the Kurds by stating in the 1970 constitution that Iraq consists of both Arab and Kurdish nationalities, and recognizing the national rights of the Kurdish people. Negotiations over autonomy began in 1970, but broke down when Mullah Mustafa Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), laid formal claim to the Kirkuk oilfields. The government saw Barzani's claim as an act of war and unilaterally decreed an autonomy statute in 1974. The Kurds rejected it and renewed fighting. Under the 1974 autonomy, the boundaries of the Kirkuk governorate were split in two to allow for an Arab majority around the city proper. Heavily Kurdish cities like Chamchamal, Kifri and Kalar were reallocated to other Kurdish governorates. With the defeat of the Kurdish rebellion in 1975, the Ba'thist government seized the opportunity to bring the Kurds to heel once and for all. This required moving Kurds off their ancestral homelands and into areas where they could be controlled. The government created a security belt up to 18 miles deep along the northern Iranian and Turkish borders, razed as many as 1,400 rural villages, and herded as many as 600,000 people into collective resettlement towns in the plains, under the watchful eye of the Iraqi military. Tens of thousands were shipped off to die in the southern deserts. Anyone caught trying to return to their home was summarily executed. The Ba'th regime also took this opportunity to settle the demographic balance in the disputed areas near the oilfields. Arabization that had begun in the 1960s was reinvigorated. More than one million Kurdish, Turkoman and Assyrian residents were forced out of the disputed districts of Khanaqin, Kirkuk, Mandali, Zakuh and Sinjar. They were replaced with Egyptian and Iraqi Arab settlers enticed northward with housing and property incentives. Laws were altered to make it difficult for Kurds to hold property or gain employment. Arabs were rewarded financially for marrying Kurdish women. Kurdish civil servants were moved out of Kurdistan to work in Arab districts. Kurdish faculty at the new university in Sulaimaniyya were dismissed. Kurdish names were changed to Arab names. The city of Kirkuk, for example, was changed to al-Ta'mim, "nationalization." Investigators from Middle East Watch (now Human Rights Watch) have pointed out that Arabization was no haphazard operation. In the 1970s, the Ba'th government set up the Revolutionary Command Council's Committee for Northern Affairs, headed by Saddam Hussein, to orchestrate the mass relocation of the Kurdish population. Arabization abated with the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war in 1980, when government troops redeployed to the front. As the war drew to a close, the Ba'th instituted the final solution to the "Kurdish problem" with the 1988 Anfal campaign of genocide, run from Kirkuk by Saddam Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid. During the Anfal campaign, 100,000 Kurds, the vast majority of them non-combatants, were killed outright. Another 182,000 disappeared and are presumed dead, though the government refuses to confirm their deaths. As many as 4,000 more villages were destroyed and another 500,000 people were forced to collective towns. Chemical weapons were used in at least 40 separate attacks. KDP leader Masoud Barzani said simply, "We cannot fight chemical weapons with bare hands. We just cannot fight on."(5) "Nationality Correction" Following the Kurdish uprising after the 1990-1991 Gulf war -- in which Kirkuk was the ultimate Kurdish goal -- and the establishment of the safe haven, the Iraqi Kurdistan Front, consisting of all major political parties, once again negotiated with Baghdad, skeptical of the longevity of international protection. They talked of federation and Baghdad seemed willing -- for a short time -- to cede administration of Kirkuk, but not the oilfields, to the Kurds. But the regime refused to allow international guarantees and in the end refused to delineate the exact borders of the Kurdish region, leaving the status of Kirkuk and other cities along the oil belt unresolved. The Front finally pulled out of negotiations in July 1991. In October 1991 the central government withdrew all government services from three Kurdish governorates in the north -- roughly along the lines of the 1974 autonomy law -- and imposed an internal embargo. Baghdad apparently felt that if left to their own devices, and without fuel, food, electricity or any other government service, the Kurds would be more pliant negotiating partners. But ten years on the Kurds have not resumed autonomy talks with the regime, though there has been some communication with the government. After an internal war in the mid-1990s, there are two Kurdish governments, headed by the PUK and KDP respectively, operating quite efficiently in three Kurdish districts. Meanwhile, Arabization policies seem to have increased in intensity. When the government retook Kirkuk after the 1991 uprising, they brutally forced out thousands of Kurds. Kamaran is one of them. He was originally "Arabized," as he says, in 1989. But he snuck back into Kirkuk to look after his family and thriving appliance shop. "It was a clandestine way of living," he says. He was forced to flee again in 1991 after the uprising. His family has lived in Kirkuk for as long as they can remember. His father started working in the oil fields in 1958, but was expelled and his house destroyed in 1963. Iraqi policy has since changed and Kurdish, Turkoman and Assyrian homes and businesses are no longer destroyed. Rather, homes and businesses are handed over as "gifts" from President Saddam Hussein to new Arab settlers, often along with a lump sum of money and arms for "protection," according to al-Ta'mim, the government newspaper in Kirkuk. Kamaran and his wife and five children now live in a community built by the UN's Habitat and a local NGO, Kurdistan Save the Children, on the edge of Chamchamal, between Sulaimaniyya and Kirkuk. "We are among Kurds now," Kamaran says. "We have freedom." Would he like to go back? "Of course," he says quietly. "Kirkuk is my home." According to Nizam Din Gili, the Kurdish governor of Erbil, which lies inside the KDP area a few miles from Kirkuk, a typical scenario for expulsion from government-held areas goes like this: when a non-Arab has to register children for school or renew a driver's license, he is asked if he would like to "correct" his nationality card. All Iraqis have an identification card that identifies them by ethnic origin. Non-Arabs are "allowed" to fill in a form saying they would like to "correct" their ethnicity to Arab. If they refuse, they and their families are forced into the Kurdish-controlled area, leaving behind all possessions. They are not allowed to sell any property they may own. If they "correct" the ethnic identity to Arab, they are often told: well, if you are an Arab, you might as well live in the south. They are then shipped off to the predominantly Shi'i south, and are sometimes allowed to bring household goods. Hamid, who lives in Bisaslawa camp near Erbil, experienced a more proactive but also typical mechanism for expulsion. In 1997, a security official paid Hamid a visit and said he needed to report to a police station. There he was forced to hand over his identification and food ration cards and other papers. He was told it was time to leave Kirkuk. A male family member was arrested at the same time and held at the police station. Hamid returned home, loaded up his wife and children and the few belongings the security official said he could take and drove to the police station. The relative was released when the police saw that Hamid's family was ready to leave. An officer accompanied the truck to the border with the Kurdish-governed area a few dozen miles away. "In a matter of minutes, they can wrap you up and ship you off to another city," Hamid says four years later from the floor of his new cement-block house. His brother and father and their families had been forced out this way, and recent arrivals at the various camps inside the Kurdish self-rule enclaves tell similar stories. Ethnic Cleansing A new Iraqi law makes the first form of deportation legal. In September 2001, the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council passed Resolution 119, which gives non-Arab Iraqis over 18 the "right" to change their ethnic identity to Arab. The Kirkuk Trust for Research and Studies, headed by Lord Avebury of the British Parliamentary Human Rights Group and Kevin Boyle of the University of Essex, points out that this law is in direct violation of Iraq's 1970 constitution which states that all Iraqis are equal, regardless of ethnic language, religion or social class. The constitution further states, as cited above, that Iraq consists of two main ethnic groups, Arabs and Kurds. "This law," the Kirkuk Trust points out in a recent press release, "legalizes the regime's policy of ethnic cleansing directed against all Kurds, Turkomans and Assyro-Chaldeans." The term "ethnic cleansing" came of age in the past decade in reference to the former Yugoslavia. While there is no single agreed-upon legal definition, Tadeusz Mazowiecki, special rapporteur of the UN Commission for Human Rights, has written, in reference to Yugoslavia: "The term ethnic cleansing refers to the elimination by the ethnic group exerting control over a given territory of members of other ethnic groups." He later wrote, "[E]thnic cleansing may be equated with the systematic purge of the civilian population based on ethnic criteria, with the view to forcing it to abandon the territories where it lives."(6) Iraq's policies toward its ethnic minorities fit this definition. Some have argued that ethnic cleansing is tantamount to genocide, particularly when mass expulsions are accompanied by large-scale killings intended to frighten even more members of the targeted ethnic group into fleeing. In denouncing Serbian policies in Bosnia, UN General Assembly Resolution 47/121 of December 18, 1992 refers to "the abhorrent policy of 'ethnic cleansing,' which is a form of genocide" in paragraph 9 of the preamble. One judge who heard Bosnia's 1993 suit against Yugoslavia in the International Court of Justice wrote an opinion stating that genocide had occurred, though the majority did not concur. There is no doubt, however, that acts of ethnic cleansing can be prosecuted as war crimes and crimes against humanity.(7) For displaced people like Kamaran, who have little knowledge of debates in international jurisprudence, it is a simple matter of what is right. "A stone is heavier when it's in its place," he says, echoing other Kirkukis who now live as refugees in their own country. Endotes 1 US Committee for Refugees, World Refugee Survey 2001 (Washington, DC, 2001). 2 Middle East Watch [now Human Rights Watch], Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds (New York, 1993), p. 353. From a transcript of audiotape of Ali Hassan al-Majid speaking to his successor as Secretary of the Northern Bureau. It is unclear if Majid is speaking of Kirkuk city or the governorate. 3 Ibid., p. 35. 4 Ibid., p. 353. 5 This history is taken from Middle East Watch, op cit.; David McDowall, A Modern History of the Kurds (London, I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd, 2000); Jonathan Randall, After Such Knowledge What Forgiveness? My Encounters with Kurdistan (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1997); and interviews with officials in Iraqi Kurdistan in the summer of 2001. 6 Drazen Petrovic, "Ethnic Cleansing: An Attempt at Methodology," European Journal of International Law 5/3 (1994). 7 For a complete discussion, see William Schabas, Genocide in International Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 189-201.
Israel National News www.arutzsheva.org Red Heifer Born in Israel 10 April 2002 Less than one month ago, a red heifer was born in Israel. After the heifer´s owner contacted the Temple Institute, on Friday, April 5th, 2001, Rabbi Menachem Makover and Rabbi Chaim Richman traveled to the farm where the heifer is located, to inspect and validate her status. The rabbis found her to be kosher and were satisfied that this heifer could indeed be a candidate to be used in the process of purification described in the book of Numbers, Chapter 19, a prerequisite for the rebuilding of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In 1997, another red heifer was born on the religious kibbutz, Kfar Hassidim, but by 1998 it had become unfit for ritual use when hairs on its tail were found to be whitening, rendering it not totally red. Tradition records that a red heifer (parah adumah) in our generation is a herald of the Messianic era. It is certainly an important development towards the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. Our sages taught that Israel’s redemption can be compared to the dawn: “In the beginning, it progresses very slowly...but as it continues, it grows brighter and brighter.” Pictures of the heifer may be viewed at: http://www.templeinstitute.org/current-events/RedHeifer/index.html
Jerusalem Post 8 Apr 2002 Rights groups focus on territories By Margot Dudkevitch JERUSALEM (April 8) - Eight local and international human rights organizations discussed human rights problems in the West Bank and Gaza Strip yesterday at a press conference at the Ambassador Hotel in east Jerusalem, in what they said was an attempt to draw world attention to the deteriorating situation there. B'tselem director Jessica Montell said the aim was to call on international communities to become more involved in the situation and press for the deployment of an international monitoring group to the region. Officials from Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, Reporters Without Borders, Medicales Sans Frontiers, the World Organization Against Torture, the International Federation of Human Rights, and the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment participated in the conference. "Representatives of the organizations came as a gesture of solidarity to identify with the problems faced," said Montell. "Most of the delegates arrived on Saturday and leave [yesterday]. Some of the organizations, such as Reporters Without Borders, are carrying out a fact finding mission in the area due to the restrictions imposed on the freedom of the press." She said the main issue discussed was the movement of ambulance and medical personnel in Palestinian towns and cities who are prevented by the army from treating the wounded and sick. "In Jenin, we know that for two days people were unable to receive medical attention," Montell said. "Seven women went into labor and were unable to reach [the] hospital, and kidney patients were unable to go for dialysis treatment." Focus was also placed on the plight of Palestinians who are not involved in shooting or terrorist activities and bare the brunt of the IDF incursions, Montell said. Even when curfews are lifted to allow local residents to stock up on food and goods, they are often too afraid to leave their homes, she added. "Many of the allegations we receive from Palestinians cannot be checked and clarified by us because our field workers are also restricted in movement, and in some cases are unable to enter cities and towns or are confined to their homes unable to leave," Montell said. She said B'tselem has raised a number of issues with the army, but has failed to receive any reply, and requests from Knesset members to pressure the army into dealing with the issues have also failed to elicit a response.
Jerusalem Post 8 Apr 2002 Holocaust Remembrance Day begins tonight at Yad Vashem ceremony By Jerusalem Post Staff JERUSALEM (April 8) - Holocaust Remembrance Day, the day on which the nation officially remembers the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their helpers, as well as those who rose up in revolt against the Nazi barbarism, is to begin officially at 8 p.m. tonight with a ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem with the participation of President Moshe Katsav, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the chief rabbis, and other public figures. The central theme for this year's commemoration is "Their Last Voice: Letters and Testaments from Jews in the Holocaust." The six torchlighters are Holocaust survivors who established their lives anew in Israel: Mordechai (Motke) Eldar, Esther Zamri, Professor Kalman Perk, Michael Urich, Ovadia Baruch, and Loti (Nomi) Lang. Another ceremony is to take place at 8 p.m. tonight at the amphitheater at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak with the participation of Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. There is also to be a memorial in Tel Aviv tonight at 8 p.m. at the Habimah Theater. Tomorrow at 10 a.m., a siren is to be sounded marking two minutes of silence, after which wreaths are to be laid at the Warsaw Ghetto memorial at Yad Vashem. Half an hour later, Knesset members are to read the names of victims of the Nazis as part of the "Every Man Has a Name" commemoration. A ceremony for youth movements is to be held at Yad Vashem at 7:15 p.m. Tomorrow's events are to close with memorials at 7:15 p.m. at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai and at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot at 7:30, marking the 59th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto rebellion and the 60th anniversary of the murder of the Polish-Jewish educator, Janusz Korczak. Amcha, the National Israeli Center for Psychosocial Support of Survivors of the Holocaust and the Second Generation, is to host a toll-free hotline tonight from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and tomorrow from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for survivors, their descendants, and the general public at 1-800-27-66-55. The organization is also holding a variety of remembrance events throughout the country. Among these events is a lighting of personal memorial candles in Beersheva at 5 p.m. today. Memorial services are to be held today at 4 p.m. in Pardess Hanna, at 5:30 p.m. in Haifa and Ashkelon, and tomorrow at 5 p.m. in Kiryat Motzkin.
Reuters 9 Apr 2002 Peres Fears Palestinians Will Distort Jenin Battle Tue Apr 9, 4:53 PM ET JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said Tuesday he feared Palestinian officials would attempt to portray fighting in a West Bank refugee camp as a "massacre." But Palestinians said the comments might be an attempt by Peres to prepare world public opinion for what they said was a "crime" being committed in the Jenin camp away from the eyes of the international media, which have been barred by Israel. Troops faced fierce resistance Tuesday from Palestinian militants holed up in a small pocket in Jenin on the 12th day of an Israeli offensive into West Bank towns, cities and camps, which Israel says is intended to root out suicide bombers. "The Foreign Minister expressed his concern that Palestinian propaganda is liable to accuse Israel that a 'massacre' took place in Jenin rather than a pitched battle against heavily armed terrorists," Peres said in a statement. Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo denied the charges and accused him of "trying to present the victim as a savage, and to present the murderer and the criminal as a human being." Palestinian officials estimate at least 100 Palestinians have been killed during a week of fighting in Jenin camp, where Israeli helicopters have fired missiles and tanks rumbled into the crowded camp to back up infantry going from house to house seeking militants. The Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) has compared the casualties in the camp to the massacre by Israeli-allied Lebanese Christian militia of hundreds of Palestinians in two refugee camps near Beirut during Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. The invasion was directed by then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.
B’Tselem 11 Apr 2002 B’Tselem Mediates Between the IDF and 29 Armed Palestinians in the Jenin Refugee Camp Requesting to Surrender At around 23:00 last night, representatives of 29 Palestinians holed up in the Jenin Refugee Camp contacted B’Tselem. The group requested B’Tselem’s mediation in order to ensure that no harm would come to them if they surrendered to IDF forces. The group includes three injured people, including a thirteen-year old boy. B’Tselem conducted protracted mediation efforts between the IDF and the Palestinians. At 6:30 this morning, the group of 29 Palestinians began to leave their building and turn themselves in to the IDF force at the site.
CNN 13 Apr 2002 Israeli court to take on issue of Jenin killings -- The Israeli Supreme Court said Saturday it will hear arguments on the burial of Palestinian fighters and civilians in the Jenin refugee camp Sunday. The court issued an injunction Friday night blocking burials after two Israeli Arab Knesset members and two human rights groups filed a petition. The Israel Defense Forces have said at least 100 Palestinian gunmen were killed at Jenin and acknowledged that "hundreds" of Palestinians were either killed or injured. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat has charged that more than 500 Palestinians were killed in the Jenin camp, an estimate Israel dismisses as propaganda. The IDF said some of its officers and Palestinians it had authorized to enter the camp had begun to pick up and tag bodies for identification by families. But that activity was stopped Friday night after the court issued its order, the IDF said. In filings before the court, the Israeli attorney general's office said no bodies had been buried and none would be until Sunday. In filings from the Knesset members and humanitarian organizations, witnesses said they saw the army burying bodies. The attorney general also said the army cannot allow humanitarian organizations to enter the area because "some of the bodies may be booby-trapped with bombs." Plans call for humanitarian organizations to remove the bodies and transfer them to the families.
BBC 15 April, 2002,Jenin camp situation 'horrendous' It is not known how many bodies lie in the rubble The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) has described the situation in the refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin as "horrendous". The situation inside the camps is really horrendous, there's a lot of destruction and the smell is absolutely terrible everywhere Jessica Barry ICRC Spokeswoman Jessica Barry said there was a lot of destruction and a terrible smell in the camp. The ICRC is overseeing an operation just begun by the Israeli military to remove the bodies of dead Palestinians from the camp. Some bodies have been brought out, but a spokesman for the ICRC said the priority was treatment for the injured, who have been without help for days. Palestinians have alleged that a massacre took place during the battle in the camp, and have said the army had begun burying the dead to conceal evidence. The allegations have brought international condemnation. The operation comes as US Secretary of State Colin Powell continues his peace mission in the region, travelling to Lebanon and Syria in an attempt to calm rising tensions there. 'Enormous' task The ICRC said it was the first time its workers had been allowed into the camp since the fierce fighting earlier this month. "We've had six days of difficult negotiations to get in. All our activities are being co-ordinated with the Israeli Government," said Ms Barry. After a brief withdrawal to assess the situation, a Red Cross spokeswoman in Jenin said the organisation was returning to the camp overnight, and was co-ordinating with the military. Israel Radio said 14 bodies were found but only seven were removed, because areas of the camp remain booby-trapped, the Reuters news agency reported. The ICRC says the scale of the task is "enormous" and that its priority is to treat the injured before removing bodies. Journalists who accompanied medical staff said they saw six bodies, apparently police officers, blackened by an explosion or a fire as well as one civilian. Fadi Jarar, from the Palestinian Red Crescent, said the dangerous state of the buildings, had prevented his team from recovering at least one body. The Red Cross hopes to bring in humanitarian aid "We couldn't pull it out because we were afraid the rubble would collapse on us," he said. Israeli tanks and bulldozers have reduced much of the camp to dust. The Israeli High Court on Sunday rejected an attempt to stop the military from taking away the corpses of those killed, but stipulated that the Red Cross must oversee the operation and that the bodies must be released to the Palestinian Authority. International condemnation Israel has strenuously denied the accusations of a massacre at Jenin, which remains a closed military zone. Nobody yet knows exactly what happened during the days of intense fighting inside Jenin or even how many Palestinians were killed. Israeli Defence Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that about 70 Palestinians were killed in Jenin, fewer than earlier Israeli army estimates. Palestinians say the figure is far higher. Twenty-three Israelis were killed in the fighting. The allegations of a massacre in Jenin have sparked condemnation from around the world. The United Nations on Monday passed a resolution accusing Israel of "gross violations" of international law.
Jerusalem Post 15 Apr 2002 Population at 6.5 on 54th independence By Tal Muscal On the eve of Israel’s 54th Independence Day, the nation's population stands at 6.5 million, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) said this afternoon. The Jewish State’s population has increased 4 percent annually since independence was announced in May of 1948. Last year the population grew by 2.4 percent, with around 152,000 new residents. According to the CBS, the amount is lower than in past years, however much higher than other developed nations, whose populations grow 1% annually. According to the CBS the Jewish population rose by 100,000 to 5.3m., accounting for 81% of the total number of citizens in Israel. CBS analysts noted that this is a similar percentage to that recorded in 1948 when the Jewish population totaled 650,000. The Arab population totals 1.2 million, similar to last year, and accounting for 19% of the population.
Jerusalem Post April 16, 2002 Israeli-Arab extremism Evelyn Gordon Israeli Arab activists called a press conference last Wednesday to protest the arrest of five members of their community on suspicion of incitement and sedition. The arrests stemmed from a demonstration two weeks earlier at which some participants called for "liberating Palestine with blood" and "blowing up Tel Aviv." Based on videotapes of the event, police believe the five detainees - who include the head of a movement for Bedouin educational rights, the head of the Rahat sports and culture center and the head of the Arab student union at Ben-Gurion University - are the guilty parties. That such violent statements came from respected community leaders rather than the lunatic fringe is deeply disturbing. That many other community leaders, though claiming to oppose such statements, nevertheless defended them at the press conference as legitimate political speech is even more so. Yet most disturbing of all was the rationalization offered by Arab MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List): The police, he told reporters, are persecuting leaders who did nothing more than express views shared by all Israeli Arabs. What makes a-Sanaa's statement so frightening is that one need only accept one not implausible premise - that Arab MKs truly represent the public that elected them - to find it irrefutable. For over the last few years, statements praising violence against Jews have become standard fare among these MKs. MK Abdul Malik Dahamshe (UAL), for instance, told the Or Commission of Inquiry in January that Israeli Arabs convicted of murdering Jews were "prisoners of conscience," because murder, even of noncombatants, is "something so noble and so right" if selflessly committed to further the Palestinian cause. Hashem Mahameed (UAL) told the same panel in November that throwing rocks at Jews is a legitimate form of democratic protest. Azmi Bishara (Balad) gave a speech in Syria last summer in which he urged Arab countries to "expand the sphere of resistance against Israel" - and, lest anyone imagine he meant peaceful resistance, cited Hizbullah as the model of what resistance should be. Bishara also told the Or Commission in December that Israeli Arab leaders would have shirked their duty had they urged Israeli Arabs not to attack Jews during the October 2000 riots. Mohammed Barakei (Hadash) gave a speech in November 2000 in which he urged Israeli Arabs to participate in Palestinian violence against Israel. A-Sanaa himself, in an interview with the Nazareth-based newspaper Kul al-Arab last year, described the head of Hamas - the organization that pioneered suicide bombings against women and children - as an "exalted" figure comparable to the Dalai Lama. He said that Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah - who continued military attacks against Israel even after it acceded to his demand for withdrawal from every last inch of Lebanese territory - "deserves the Nobel Peace Prize." And these statements are merely a representative sampling. THE ARAB parties have 10 seats in the current Knesset, representing roughly two-thirds of the Arab electorate. Part of the remainder boycotts the polls at the behest of the Islamic Movement, whose leaders also routinely advocate violence. Thus if statements by Arab MKs indeed reflect the opinions of their voters, the inescapable conclusion is that an overwhelming majority of Israeli Arabs actively or tacitly supports violence against Israeli Jews. This conclusion is particularly significant given the recent reemergence of the doctrine of "transfer" (expulsion of the Arabs) into Israeli public discourse. Today, an overwhelming majority of Israel's Jews find this idea fully as repugnant as do Israeli Arabs. Yet in the long run, it is impossible to imagine Arabs and Jews living together in one state if a majority of the former condone and even encourage violence against the latter. Thus the growing support for anti-Jewish violence among Israeli Arabs should be of paramount concern to all those who reject "transfer" as a solution - and first and foremost, to Israeli Arabs themselves. Ironically, one of the few Israeli Arab leaders to have understood this is MK Mahameed ("rock-throwing is legitimate"). In an interview with Ha'aretz in January, Mahameed warned his fellow MKs that when they cast their struggle as being "against the Jews or against the state" instead of merely as against government policies, this lends credence to transfer advocates. "I don't want us to wave around radical slogans today and cry tomorrow over the results," he said. A similar awakening is desperately needed among other Israeli Arab leaders - and even more so among the Israeli Arab public. While a few Israeli Arabs have publicly expressed dismay over their elected representatives' extremism, the jury is still out on whether they represent the silent majority. The acid test will be the next Knesset elections, when Israeli Arabs will have the choice of reelecting or rejecting the current crop of extremists. They may well be voting on the future of Jewish-Arab coexistence in Israel.
BBC 20 April, 2002, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK UN agrees to Jenin mission Israel insists there was no massacre in Jenin The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to send a fact-finding mission to look into Israeli military action at the Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin. But after heavy diplomatic pressure from the US and Israel, the resolution does not describe the mission as an investigation. Israel has nothing to hide regarding the operation in Jenin Israeli FM Shimon Peres Arab nations have been leading calls for an investigation into the operation that left buildings destroyed and an unknown number of people killed during the Israeli army incursion in Jenin. Continuing their partial withdrawal from the West Bank, Israeli forces pulled out of Jenin on Friday, but new fighting erupted in the Gaza Strip. Residents at the Jenin camp - the scene of the fiercest fighting during Israel's military operation - went about the task of retrieving the bodies of the dead. Click here to see town-by-town update International aid workers have also moved in to try to help the homeless and trace the missing. Palestinians have accused the Israeli army of carrying out a massacre. But Israeli officials put the number of Palestinians killed at about 70. They say most were gunmen who died in the fighting that also left 23 Israeli soldiers dead. Agreement on the mission to Jenin was reached after Israel's Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that his government would co-operate with the UN in sharing facts about what happened there. Mr Peres told the UN chief that "Israel has nothing to hide regarding the operation in Jenin." Mr Peres, left, met the US secretary of state in Washington on Friday "Our hands are clean," he added, according to Israel's UN Mission. Arab diplomats had been pushing for a resolution calling for an investigation into the events surrounding the destruction at Jenin and subsequent loss of life. The US initially indicated it would block any resolution on the subject, but then changed tack and proposed its own version. Nasser al-Kidwa, the Palestinian representative at the UN, said the vote was important because "we believe a serious war crime was committed, a serious massacre was committed, and therefore some people will have to be held responsible and perhaps brought to justice." At least six Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip The BBC's Greg Barrow at the UN says the result is, in effect, a diplomatic finesse. It falls short of what Arab nations initially demanded, but goes some way towards satisfying Israeli concern that it should not be subjected to an intrusive and politically-motivated investigation, he says. The Israeli army, which launched its operation to try to counter a string of deadly suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, says it has now pulled out of Jenin and its refugee camp, but will continue to surround them to prevent "terrorist attacks". Residents say their continuing presence in what was previously Palestinian-controlled territory means there has been no proper withdrawal. Withdrawal plans Israeli officials say that by early Sunday, troops will also have left most other West Bank areas apart from Ramallah and Bethlehem. Annan has called for armed peacekeepers Soldiers will continue to surround the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, however, where a group of armed Palestinians have been holed up for more than two weeks. They will also still besiege the Palestinian leader's headquarters in Ramallah. Suicide bombing The worst violence for a month flared in the Gaza Strip on Thursday and Friday, with at least six Palestinians killed in various incidents. In Gaza, the militant Islamic Jihad group said that one of its volunteers had carried out the suicide bombing outside Gush Katif, which injured two Israeli soldiers. It was the first such attack since a woman blew herself up near a Jerusalem market a week ago, killing six people. Earlier on Friday, Israeli tanks advanced into Gaza's Rafah refugee camp, firing heavy machine guns and killing three men before pulling out several hours later, Palestinian witnesses said.
Japan Times 7 Apr 2002 MEDIA MIX Did NHK balk at covering war tribunal? By PHILIP BRASOR It was indicated last week that the International Criminal Court, a permanent judicial body with the power to try individuals and groups accused of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, will soon be formally established. So far, 56 nations have ratified the Rome Statute of 1998, which states that 60 countries are needed to make the court a reality. Cambodia, Ireland, Jordan and Romania have expressed their intention to ratify by July. The United States and Japan haven't. The U.S., which considers itself the world's police force, sees the ICC as a potential political tool of countries and organizations that don't appreciate what America is doing in the world militarily. Japan's reasons for not participating are murkier, and, ostensibly, have to do with the fact that there are no domestic laws in place to address the kind of issues the court would handle. Basically, the Japanese government is still nervous about the past, since much of the world believes that Japan has yet to own up to crimes it committed in World War II. Right-wing groups and conservative politicians are usually the ones who deny these past wrongs, but the media itself has never been keen on discussing the darker aspects of Japan's imperialist past, though it thoroughly enjoys presenting the drama of former sex slaves weeping on camera and war orphans being tearfully reunited with relatives after decades of separation. It is this paradox that is being challenged by a current lawsuit, brought by the Japanese nongovernmental organization Women Against Violence in War Network (VAWW), against the nation's public broadcaster, NHK, and two production organizations. In December 2000, VAWW-Net co-sponsored the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo. Several months beforehand, NHK negotiated with the group to cover the proceedings. The purpose of the tribunal (which had no legal authority) was to gather testimony from victims, and then, based on international laws that were in place during WWII, to "try" groups and individuals for rape or sexual slavery, i.e., forcing women to sexually service Japanese soldiers. Not all of the accused were convicted, but the late Emperor Showa was, because, as the leader of the country, he was ultimately responsible for the sex-slave policy. NHK broadcast its footage on Jan. 30, 2001, as part of a four-part series called "How is War to be Judged?" VAWW-Net was very disappointed with the program and later filed suit against NHK, NHK Enterprise and Document Japan for breach of trust. The main complaint was that the program did not cover the tribunal as a tribunal, but only as a group of women discussing the matter of sexual violence in war. NHK did not specifically mention that Japan's "comfort women" policy was on trial. Consequently, the verdicts weren't mentioned, either. In a letter answering VAWW-Net's complaints, NHK claimed that these matters had no bearing on the original "aim of the program," part of which was to "search for a path toward reconciliation between Japan and its Asian neighbors." VAWW-Net says that the finished program completely misrepresented the purposes and the meaning of the tribunal and believes that NHK was somehow convinced to change its original production plan by outside forces. In any case, the tribunal, though covered extensively by foreign media, was effectively ignored by Japan's vernacular press -- only Asahi Shimbun and Kyodo News produced stories -- and commercial TV. And regardless of whether or not NHK was pressured by outside forces (the broadcaster denies it, though one rightwing group has boasted on its Web site that it persuaded NHK to change its mind), the program seemed to purposely downplay the significance of the tribunal. Near the beginning, the announcer stresses that this is a "citizens court"; that the defendants, as well as some of the plaintiffs, are dead or absent; and that the testimony cannot be verified. All true -- and completely beside the point. In addition, a historian is allowed to present his opinion that the so-called "comfort women" were professional prostitutes. NHK does not question anything he says and does not allow anyone from VAWW-Net to respond directly to his comments. The two experts who offer commentary in the studio mostly approach the issue as an academic exercise, a text to be deconstructed. But the main point lost on the program was why the tribunal was necessary at all. The allies did not bring up sex slaves at the Tokyo Tribunal of 1946-48, supposedly because they considered the matter a crime against Japanese civilians (many of the sex slaves were from Korea and Taiwan, Japanese colonies at the time), which would have brought up the matter of the U.S. military's own killing of Japanese civilians. The sex-slave issue was buried for more than 40 years. The purpose of the 2000 tribunal was to finally give the victims their day in court and to clarify the accountability of the men who made them suffer. This is exactly what Japan wants to avoid -- and why it doesn't plan to ratify the ICC. Another purpose of the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal was to make sure that the story itself is never forgotten. The findings and the verdicts may not be legally binding, but they have validity in a world where soldiers still use rape as a weapon. Whenever the Japanese media cover the sex slaves of the Pacific War, the issue is always presented in a context that says all countries have committed sexual violence during wartime. This is a cynical strategy, a "balanced" presentation that is meant to neutralize any one country's responsibility -- as if rape could ever be a neutral topic. For more information, see the Women Against Violence in War Network Web site at www.hri.ca/partners/vawwnet
AP 21 Apr 2002 Japan's Prime Minister Visits War Shrine TOKYO -- Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi paid a surprise visit today to Yasukuni Shrine, a controversial war memorial that also commemorates convicted war criminals. Koizumi wore a black tie and tails to the shrine, similar to clothing worn when prime ministers officially accede to power. His formal attire is likely to alarm Asian nations with bad memories of Japanese imperialism. However, in a gesture likely to placate some bitterness over the visit, Koizumi said he would not visit the shrine in August -- the symbolically important period when Japan marks its surrender in World War II.
VOA News 26 Apr 2002 Asia Pacific Japanese Mining Company to Pay Slave Laborers Millions in Compensation A Japanese court has ordered a large mining company to pay more than $1.2 million to 15 Chinese men brought to Japan as slave laborers during World War II. The Fukuoka District Court in southwestern Japan ruled Friday that the Mitsui Mining Company should pay $86,000 to each plaintiff. The ruling was the first to find a Japanese company liable for taking party in the country's wartime forced labor policy. A Mitsui Mining spokesman said the Tokyo-based company will appeal the verdict. Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) 26 Apr 2002 Japanese firm told to repay forced labourers REUTERS in Tokyo Prev. In a landmark ruling, a Japanese court on Friday ordered Mitsui Mining to pay compensation to 15 Chinese men who were forcibly brought to Japan during World War Two to toil in Mitsui's mines. The Fukuoka district court in southern Japan ordered Mitsui Mining to pay a total of 165 million yen (US$1.28 million) to the plaintiffs, but rejected their demands for compensation from the Japanese government, a court official said. The case is one of dozens of wartime compensation lawsuits that have been filed against the Japanese government or firms related to Japanese aggression in the first half of the 20th century, the bulk of which have been rejected by Japanese courts. A lawyer for the plaintiffs hailed the court's decision. ''It is a courageous ruling,'' lawyer Toyoji Tachiki was quoted by Kyodo news agency as saying. ''The ruling recognised for the first time the responsibility of a firm for co-operating with Japan's war of aggression,'' Mr Tachiki said, adding that it was likely to have a large impact on other forced labour lawsuits. Mitsui Mining said it would appeal the decision. ''It is extremely regrettable that our stance was not recognised,'' said the company, which had been seeking a rejection of the lawsuit. Minoru Sasaki, a manager for Mitsui Mining's public relations department, said the company has already filed an appeal. The plaintiffs, 15 Chinese men in their 70s and 80s, had demanded compensation from the Japanese government and Mitsui Mining, saying the companies used lies and force to bring them to Japan from 1943 to 1944, the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper said. The plaintiffs said they were forced to labour in Mitsui's mines without pay in Fukuoka, newspapers said. Tens of thousands of Korean and Chinese labourers were brought to Japan before and during the war as forced labourers to work in factories and mines for little or no pay as Japan tried to keep its war machine going. Lawsuits by Chinese who say they were forced into labour have been filed in cities such as Tokyo, and northern Sapporo. The plaintiffs had been seeking a total 345 million yen in compensation from Mitsui Mining and the government combined. ''The forced labour was planned and carried out jointly by Mitsui mining and the state,'' presiding judge Motoaki Kimura was quoted by the Yomiuri Shimbun as saying in handing down the verdict. The court, however, rejected the plaintiffs' demand for compensation from the government, saying that under Japanese laws in effect at the time the state could not be held liable for damages caused by its actions, Yomiuri said. The Japanese government's stance war reparations is that they were settled once and for all in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty that formally ended the Pacific War, and in subsequent bilateral treaties. With regard to China, the government says all wartime compensation issues were settled by a 1972 joint statement that established diplomatic ties.
AP 26 Apr 2002 Japan Co. Must Pay War Reparation By Kozo Mizoguchi TOKYO –– A Japanese court on Friday ordered a major mining company to pay $1.29 million to 15 Chinese men who were forcibly brought to Japan as slave laborers during World War II. It was the first time a Japanese court had found a Japanese company responsible for slavery during the war. The Fukuoka District Court in southwestern Japan ruled that Mitsui Mining Co. should pay $86,000 to each plaintiff, said court spokeswoman Mizue Sato. "It is a courageous ruling that may affect other similar pending lawsuits," plaintiffs' lawyer Toyoji Tachiki was quoted as saying by the Kyodo News agency. Minoru Sasaki, a Mitsui Mining spokesman, said the Tokyo-based company will appeal the verdict. In the ruling, Fukuoka District Court Judge Motoaki Kimura said the government and the company "jointly committed an illegal act" by forcibly bringing Chinese to Japan as slave laborers, Kyodo said. Although the company should be held accountable for its wartime actions, Japan's prewar constitution insulates the government from similar lawsuits, Kimura was quoted as saying. Despite criticism both at home and abroad that Japan has not fully shown remorse for its wartime brutality, the government has refused to pay individuals damages. The lawsuit was filed in May 2000 by Zhang Baoheng and eight others who now live in China's Hebei Province and in Beijing. Six other Chinese later joined them. The Japanese military captured an estimated 40,000 Chinese in the early 1940s and shipped them to Japan to work, mostly in coal mines and ports. Zhang and the others were between the ages of 18 and 25 when they were taken to Miike and other mines in Fukuoka state, 557 miles southwest of Tokyo. Chinese, Koreans and others from Asian countries who were forced to work under harsh conditions during World War II have sued major Japanese corporations in Japanese and U.S. courts.
San Antonio Express-News 31 July 2001 Military VA chief says Japan owes apology to U.S. POWs By Sig Christenson In what could be a first, Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi said Monday that Japan should apologize for its mistreatment of American prisoners of war during World War II. Addressing a VA seminar in San Antonio on treating former prisoners of war, he called for the apology and suggested he'd personally back the efforts of ex-POWs to seek compensation from Japanese firms that used them in slave labor camps. "I believe they should (apologize)," Principi told reporters. "As the advocate of those who survived the (Bataan) Death March, I feel for them. I've been entrusted by the president to do everything I can to care for them. They're not asking for very much ... relative to what they endured for years in captivity." Principi's comments were the latest volley in a controversy over attempts by former POWs to extract formal apologies and cash compensation from Japanese firms that used up to 26,000 U.S. soldiers in slave labor camps during the war. Nearly three dozen lawsuits have been filed against the companies, among them Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Matsui Mining USA, but those actions have been opposed by Washington. Former POW Frank Bigelow, who had his right leg amputated in 1945 without anesthesia while working in a Mitsui coal mine near Nagasaki, was elated by Principi's comments. Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi speaks at La Mansion del Rio Hotel Monday. Photo by John Davenport/Express-News "This is good news," said Bigelow, 79, of Brooksville, Fla., just north of Tampa. "This will help us a great deal. If we can make these Japanese lose enough face, I know damned good and well they will pay us." Principi's stance may be the first time a U.S. official has said Japan should apologize for its treatment of U.S. POWs. A State Department official said he was not aware of similar comments having been made in the Bush or Clinton administrations. The White House was mum on the issue, referring questions to the State Department. The Japanese Embassy in Washington did not return phone calls. The Bush administration, however, opposes the suits. The State Department official, speaking on background, said the United States waived all claims against Japan and its nationals arising from the war in the 1951 San Francisco Treaty. He also said ex-POWs were given compensation from the liquidation of Japanese assets seized in allied countries, but couldn't say how much money they received or how many soldiers were included in the deal. Former POW Lester Tenney, an 81-year-old San Diego survivor of the Bataan Death March, said the compensation amounted to $1.50 a day for the period each American was held. Though he doesn't recall receiving the money, Tenney said the suits he and others have filed are against Japanese firms that prospered as a result of their labor. With most Japanese men serving in the Army, he said, the companies relied on slave labor to stay in business. Getting an apology is a core demand of the former POWs. They accuse Japan of having never formally apologized for their treatment of American prisoners during the war. The ex-POWs say they were fed meager rations of rice and water, were beaten often, worked long hours in subhuman conditions and slept in squalor. Retired Army Col. Morris L. Shoss, 86, of San Antonio said, "we were living like dogs." At war's end he weighed just 85 pounds. The State Department official said it isn't clear that Japan has ever apologized for its treatment of American POWs. He said one general apology for Japan's role in the war was offered in 1995 by then-Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama. Whatever the case, the ex-POWs aren't satisfied. "I want them to admit that they did things wrong, that they did not feed us, they didn't take care of us and they did not pay us. In all respects they made slaves out of us," said Tenney, a retired Arizona State University finance professor. "We'd like a written apology," said 77-year-old retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Tillman J. Rutledge, a San Antonian who worked in a Mitsubishi-owned coal mine not far from one Tenney toiled in near Nagasaki. "It's just too easy to say they're sorry."
AFP 6 Apr 2002 LTTE apology clears way for Lanka talks COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's main minority Muslim party on Saturday accepted talks with Tamil Tiger rebels, who have apologised for the ethnic cleansing of thousands of Muslims in their bid to create a separate state. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) said it was willing to engage in "constructive dialogue" with the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as part of Norway's initiative to broker peace on the island. The Tamil Tigers have been fighting for an independent homeland in the island's northeast and evicted an estimated 100,000 Muslims from the northern peninsula of Jaffna in 1990. Since then, there had been bitter acrimony between the Tamils and Muslims, the two main minority groups in this Sinhalese-majority country. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem said his party welcomed the shift in the LTTE's policy and was ready to open negotiations with the guerrillas next week to resolve their difference. "A change of heart on the part of the LTTE is very welcome," Hakeem said. "We are willing to engage in a sincere dialogue with the LTTE." Hakeem said all previous attempts to politically end the bloodshed in the island failed because Muslims were ignored, but he hoped they would be consulted this time. The SLMC in a statement Saturday announced Hakeem had been invited for a round of talks with the LTTE's chief negotiator Anton Balasingham next week to resolve their differences. Balasingham has acknowledged for the first time that the LTTE was wrong to have chased out hundreds of thousands of Muslims from Jaffna in 1990. Balasingham admitted that the ethnic cleansing could not be justified and that it was a political blunder, the Tamilnet.com website reported him as saying at public meeting in the rebel-held Mullaitivu region Wednesday. "Let us forget and forgive the mistakes in the past," Balasingham said, adding that Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran was ready to meet with Muslim leaders. He said the LTTE was willing to resettle the Muslims evicted from Jaffna as a Norwegian-brokered ceasefire stabilises. Sri Lanka's Tamils make up 12.6 per cent of the 18.66 million population and the Muslims 7.5 per cent. Muslims in Sri Lanka consider themselves a distinct ethnic group in addition to being a religious minority and often speak both Tamil and Sinhalese. "We do recognise the unique cultural identity of the Muslim community. Linguistically, economically and territorially the Muslims and the Tamils are inextricably inter-related and therefore have to co-exist as brothers in the northeast," Balasingham said. Last month, the United States warned the LTTE not to jeopardise the truce that went into effect from February 23 and noted that the LTTE was harassing members of the Muslim community. The LTTE established a de facto separate Tamil state in Jaffna after driving out the Muslims in 1990, but government forces retook Jaffna in December 1995. Both the government and the LTTE are set to enter Norwegian-arranged talks in Thailand next month to prepare the ground for a political settlement to the decades-old separatist conflict which has claimed over 60,000 lives.
HRW 4 Apr 2002 Cambodia/Vietnam: Montagnard Asylum Rights Threatened (New York, April 4, 2002) Human Rights Watch today expressed strong concern about Cambodia's announcement that it will close down two refugee camps and cease protecting and providing temporary asylum for indigenous Montagnard refugees from Vietnam. Related Material Vietnam/Cambodia: UN Should Halt Repatriation of Montagnards until Safeguards are in Place HRW Press Release, Februrary 19, 2002 Vietnam/Cambodia: Future of Montagnard Refugees at Risk HRW Press Release, Jan. 25, 2002 Vietnam: No Montagnard Repatriation Without Protection HRW Press Release, Jan. 15, 2002 HRW Refugees Webpage "Like any government, Cambodia has an obligation under international law to keep its borders open to those fleeing persecution and to provide at least temporary protection and asylum. Failure to do so could result in the return of refugees to a country where their lives and freedom are at risk -- a violation of the most fundamental principle of refugee protection, non-refoulement." Rachael Reilly, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch While Human Rights Watch welcomed Cambodia's decision to authorize the processing of Montagnards for resettlement to the United States, the organization said that Cambodia's decision to close its borders and summarily deport future asylum seekers was contrary to its obligations under international refugee law. On March 31, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that within a month the two refugee camps for Montagnard refugees in Cambodia operated by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would be closed and all newcomers prevented from entering the country. "Like any government, Cambodia has an obligation under international law to keep its borders open to those fleeing persecution and to provide at least temporary protection and asylum," said Rachael Reilly, refugee policy director at Human Rights Watch. "Failure to do so could result in the return of refugees to a country where their lives and freedom are at risk -- a violation of the most fundamental principle of refugee protection, non-refoulement." Human Rights Watch called on the Vietnamese government to immediately address the cause of the refugee flow and cease its repression of the indigenous Montagnards. Reilly further called on Vietnam to allow UNHCR to station monitors in the Central Highlands to check on refugees who have already returned to Vietnam, either voluntarily or involuntarily, and to monitor future refugee flows. "While Cambodia deserves credit for trying to find a solution for the Montagnards who are currently in the refugee camps in Cambodia, we have serious concerns about the future protection of Montagnard asylum seekers fleeing Vietnam," said Reilly. "And unless Vietnam addresses the cause of the refugee flows by ceasing human rights violations against the Montagnards, there will be no lasting solution to the refugee crisis." Ongoing Repression In February 2001 the Vietnamese government launched a harsh crackdown on Montagnards in the Central Highlands after thousands joined largely peaceful protests for land rights, religious freedom, and independence. Recent reports received by Human Rights Watch indicate that ongoing human rights violations include repression of Evangelical Protestants, travel bans, forced oath-swearing ceremonies, police torture of suspected dissidents, and mistreatment of those who have attempted to flee to Cambodia. During the past year more than 1,500 Montagnards fled to Cambodia, where many were sheltered in two camps operated by UNHCR in Ratanakiri and Mondolkiri provinces. Cambodia's decision to authorize processing of the Montagnard refugees for resettlement abroad followed the dissolution of a voluntary repatriation program agreed upon in January 2002 in a tripartite agreement by Cambodia, Vietnam and UNHCR. On March 22, UNHCR announced that it was formally terminating its involvement with the repatriation process after Cambodian officials permitted Vietnam to send delegations of several hundred people to visit the camps to pressure the refugees to return to Vietnam. In one incident on March 21, refugees and UNHCR staff were threatened and roughed up when a delegation of more than 400 people, which included as many as one hundred Vietnamese government agents, overran the camp and conducted house-to-house searches of the refugees' huts. On March 31, Cambodian authorities announced that they have increased the police and military presence along its border with Vietnam and that any Montagnards caught crossing the border will be considered illegal immigrants and immediately deported.
AP 18 Apr 2002 Villagers Hold Hostages in Vietnam The Associated Press Thursday, April 18, 2002; 10:47 AM HANOI, Vietnam –– More than 400 Vietnamese villagers held three farmers from a neighboring village hostage, claiming the farmers put a curse on village land by building family graves close to it, police said Thursday. The villagers claimed the farmers had disturbed their village's geomantic flow, resulting in the sudden deaths of three people and injuries to two others in traffic accidents, said a police officer from Vinh Phuc province, 30 miles north of Hanoi. He spoke on condition of anonymity. Geomancy is the belief that people are affected by subtle energies in nature and by the placement of natural and manmade objects. The unrest was the largest reported in Vietnam since ethnic minority groups protested in the Central Highlands early last year over land rights and restrictions on their Protestant faith. The hostages were freed Tuesday morning when district police arrived in jeeps and forced open the side door of the communal house where they were being held, the officer said. The three hostages had been beaten, and two were hospitalized, he said.
BBC 25 April, 2002 EU vows to fight religious hatred Synagogues have been attacked across France The 15 states of the European Union have pledged to fight religious intolerance arising from the conflict in the Middle East. Justice and interior ministers meeting in Luxembourg condemned "all forms of intolerance which take as their pretext the conflicts and acts of violence in the Middle East and are aimed at persons of the Muslim, Jewish or any other faith". The statement comes after a spate of attacks on Jewish targets in France and Belgium in which several synagogues were firebombed. At a time of acute international tension it is vital to preserve the spirit of harmony, entente and inter-cultural respect within our societies European Union statement They coincided with a surge in anti-Israeli feeling, particularly amongst the Muslim community, over the military campaign against Palestinians in the West Bank. The meeting condemned the attacks and called for closer co-operation between EU police forces. "At a time of acute international tension, especially in the Middle East, it is vital to preserve the spirit of harmony, entente and inter-cultural respect within our societies," a statement said. It also urged the European Commission to propose steps to "raise public awareness of what is at stake". Asylum move Thursday's meeting was scheduled before French far-right presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen visited Brussels on Wednesday. Mr Le Pen, who faces incumbent Jacques Chirac in the presidential run-off on 5 May, was heckled by deputies in the European Parliament who held up signs saying "no". European Parliament deputies booed Le Pen The National Front leader has in the past described the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust as a detail of history. But the Luxembourg talks were based on a declaration made earlier in April by France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Belgium. The ministers also took the first steps towards setting up a co-ordinated EU asylum policy. They agreed to establish the same reception standards across all 15 states in an attempt to stamp out "asylum shopping" - applying for refugee status in the individual European countries with the best perks for asylum seekers. They aim to have the same minimum standards of housing, education and health for asylum seekers across Europe. They also pledged to speed up the application procedure. The common policy should be in place by 2004.
VOA News 24 Apr 2002 15:24 UTC Armenia is marking the 87th anniversary Wednesday of the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. In a statement issued for the anniversary, Armenian President Robert Kocharian said the Armenian people are still waiting for international acknowledgment of what he called a crime against humanity. Mr. Kocharian said the desire for the killings to be recognized as genocide is not revenge, but an attempt to avoid a repetition of tragedy. Armenia has accused Turkey of genocide in the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1919, when Armenia was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey has rejected the claim and has said both Armenians and Turks died during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and World War I. Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.
BBC 20 April, 2000 Nazi victims' organs 'still stored' University records were destroyed Researchers have found more than 100 body parts from the victims of Nazi atrocities stored at the University of Vienna. And they fear that the poor quality of remaining records mean that there could be more. An expert on the history of medical research says that other institutions in Austria may hold similar body parts. Records show that 1,377 bodies of executed Austrians were signed over to the university - most had been guillotined but some had been shot by the Gestapo. However the investigators said it was unlikely that bodies of victims from concentration camps were used by the university. Records destroyed Thousands were executed during World War II in Austria - many for the "crime" of resistance. Even listening to enemy broadcasts could carry the death penalty. However, investigators said that they could not rule out forced abortions of women as a source of some foetuses and stillborn infants for experimentation. An air raid destroyed many of the records in the Institute of Anatomy at the university. The team were able to confirm that more than 100 specimens still stored at the laboratory originated either from executions, or from children murdered under a Nazi "euthanasia" programme. 'Lack of sensitivity' These have now been removed from the collections and will be buried in a "grave of honour" provided by the City of Vienna. However, the team reported: "The origins of 97 specimens remain unknown and thus, a National Socialist provenance cannot be ruled out." Their report, published in the Lancet, added: "There was a lack of ethnic sensitivity on the part of the faculty in this regard that need to be pointed out to the public and corrected. "By the same token, the lack of interest of the medical establishment in the use of bodily remains of human beings needs to be be put up for discussion." Anatomy book They reported that anatomical illustrations in the world-renowned medical textbook Topographical Human Anatomy, written by Nazi party member Eduard Pernkopf, may also have been produced using victims of Nazi executions - but this could not be confirmed. There is a belief that Jewish concentration camp victims were the models for some drawings in which the model had a shaven head. Medical historian Michael Hubenstorf said the investigation had only concentrated on one institute, when in fact there were collections which might include Nazi victims in "half a dozen" Viennese institutions. He said that the report "minimised the complicity" of anatomy experts in Vienna before and during the war. "The narrow focus of the article seems to be an attempt to lay it (the issue) to rest."
Reuters 5 April 2002 Bosnia marks 10 years since war, still divided REUTERS SARAJEVO: Bosnia marks the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of war on Saturday, a 43-month-long conflict that was Europe's worst since World War II. Now at peace, Bosnia is still ethnically divided. By the time the US-brokered Dayton treaty ended the Bosnian war in late 1995, splitting the former Yugoslav republic into autonomous halves largely along ethnic lines, over 200,000 lives had been lost and more than two million people made homeless. "Unfortunately there is not much that is positive to draw from this experience," Bosnia'a wartime Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic, a Muslim, told Reuters this week. "What we have now is anything but a multi-ethnic Bosnia. It is an ethnically divided state which is unnatural," he said. "WE DON'T WANT WAR" Although local Serb militia and Yugoslav Army troops under the control of Serbia had seized several towns and expelled or killed non-Muslim residents at the beginning of April 1992, many Bosnians thought ethnic harmony was still possible. Natasa Gaon was among tens of thousands of people who gathered on April 6, 1992, in the centre of Sarajevo demanding peace -- a day after Serb gunmen had killed two women peacefully protesting against a Serb blockade of the town. "We were shouting: 'We don't want war'. All of us thought we could still preserve the city and the country as they should be, undivided," recalled Gaon, from a mixed ethnic background, who was a 20-year-old student of literature at the time. The response from Serb gunmen atop the Holiday Inn hotel was gunfire which killed several people and wounded dozens more. European Union recognition of Bosnia's independence, declared by Muslims and Croats but opposed by Serbs who wanted to stay in the Yugoslav federation, followed that afternoon. The killing and the EU's move that day are generally regarded as marking a point of no return. Bosnia was at war. The country plans no major events to commemorate the anniversary. Officials will lay flowers at sites where some of the first victims of the war were killed. OUTGUNNED Within weeks of the outbreak of war, Serb forces laid siege to Sarajevo, captured about 70 percent of the country and expelled or killed hundreds of thousands of non-Muslims. Poorly-armed Bosnian government forces were no match for them. Serbs, one third of the population, claimed they were only protecting themselves against Muslim and Croat dominance. The West stood by, blaming the violence on ancient ethnic hatreds. It turned a deaf ear to the Bosnian government's pleas to lift a U.N. arms embargo. But it soon learned about "ethnic cleansing", detention camps and large-scale torture, rape, and the killing and expulsion of non-Muslims. Serb wartime leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic and their then-patron, former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, have been charged with genocide by the U.N. war crimes tribunal for their roles in Bosnia. Karadzic and Mladic remain at large. But Bosnian Serb leaders say they have no regrets. "When we look back to the past we have nothing to be ashamed of. Our path was right and if we had to choose again, the choice would be the same," Serb Republic President Mirko Sarovic said. "Without the Serb Republic, our people would be nothing and nobody," he said in January, when the Serb Republic marked the tenth anniversary of its founding. WEST GUARDS PEACE The war also saw a fierce conflict in 1993 for territory between former allies Muslims and Croats. When all the fighting was over, NATO sent tens of thousands of troops to keep the peace and the West gave billions of dollars reconstruction aid. More than six years on, less than half of all refugees and displaced people have returned to their pre-war homes and just a fraction of them to areas where other ethnic groups predominate. The economy is in tatters, at less than half of pre-war level. Many Bosnians as well as international analysts fault the awkward administrative structure laid down by the Dayton, which gives little power to the central institutions. "The state simply doesn't function now," said Michael Doyle, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group think tank, adding only the international community's robust military and civilian presence keeps the country glued together. "In the end, realistically, the structure of the country will need to be radically simplified," he said. He also accused Serb leaders of still being influenced by a Greater Serbia ideology. But Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's peace czar, sees signs that Bosnia as a single sovereign country is now gaining greater acceptance. "We still have Serb reservations but this is now a generally accepted concept: Bosnia as a state, a European democratic state," he said.
Baltimore Sun Movies dramatize acts of Nazi resistance Review: The Jewish Film Festival begins with two great films about hope and survival. By Michael Sragow Sun Movie Critic Originally published April 6, 2002 Film-lovers of every race, religion and creed can renew their faith in people - and possibly in movies - with the first two entries in this year's Baltimore Jewish Film Festival, which runs today through April 27. The French feature I Am Alive and I Love You, tonight at 8:30, and the American-Israeli documentary The Optimists, Tuesday night at 7:30, solidly dramatize the resistance to fascism in ways that should take hold in any person's gut. Their unself-conscious heroes act the way good neighbors should: They feel a natural revulsion when the Nazis try to reduce the Jews around them to subhuman status. In Roger Kahane's I Am Alive and I Love You, winner of the Audience Award at the 1999 Washington Jewish Film Festival, a railroad worker, Julien (Jerome Deschamps), seizes a letter that a Jewish woman named Sarah drops through the slats of a deportation car and delivers it to her parents and son. The encounter touches him to an extent he can't immediately gauge; he tries to save Sarah's parents, and ends up taking her boy home when the child alone survives a Nazi raid. Deschamps told a French interviewer that he admired the film precisely because Julien "arrives at Resistance by different ways." His superb performance is the rock of the movie. Julien is a real but reluctant champion: a bookish fellow who hooks up with the Underground only after he falls in love with Sarah through her diary and becomes a surrogate father to her son. Tender and unsentimental, the movie elicits tears. What's unusual is that it earns them. Jack and Lisa Comforty's The Optimists takes a simple human act like Julien's and multiplies it by 50,000: This tightly knit, 83-minute documentary describes a veritable epic of ethical courage. With its own casual lucidity, it draws you into history, chronicling the Bulgarian citizenry's refusal to accept genocide and their incredible success at saving their Jewish population - even though the Nazi-allied Bulgarian government deported Jews from its occupied territories of Macedonia, Yugoslavia and Thrace to the death camps. Rooted in Jack Comforty's own Bulgarian heritage, the movie shows how the protective acts of friends, the timely protests of right-minded politicians, and the towering rectitude of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church conjured a grassroots moral force that protected Jews like an invisible shield. And this shield grew visible when necessary: like when a bishop marched into a yard filled with Jews and proclaimed that if Nazis herded them into the cattle cars, he would go along with them. The movie resurrects both a forgotten piece of history and an inspirational dream of Jews, Christians and Muslims forging bonds of neighborly affection and civic partnership. The movie is named for a big band that aped the styles of Artie Shaw or Benny Goodman; in one of its most heartrending scenes, non-Jewish members save a fellow musician from certain death. Near the end, a Bulgarian Orthodox cleric declares that men must hold on to their faith and respect the faith of others, even when stripped of goods and livelihood and pride. You have to agree with the rabbi who suggests that you can define a Bulgarian as "a mensch."
24 April, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK Czechs spurn neighbours' demands MPs from across the house backed the bill By Ray Furlong BBC Prague correspondent The Czech parliament has voted unanimously to reject attempts in neighbouring countries to reopen the issue of the post-war expulsion of more than two million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia. Politicians in Austria and Germany, including the German opposition candidate for chancellor, Edmund Stoiber, have recently called on the Czechs to repeal post-war decrees issued by the then-president, Edvard Benes, which ordered the expulsions. However, the Czech parliament, supported by President Vaclav Havel has said the decrees cannot be touched. It was also supported by President Vaclav Havel. Damaged relations The decrees provided for the post-war expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans, and the confiscation of their property. Austria's far-right leader Joerg Haider has also insisted the decrees be annulled It was feared that repealing the decrees could lead to a rush of court cases, by people trying to get property back or seek compensation. German and Austrian politicians have however said the Czech Republic should not be allowed to enter the European Union until the decrees are repealed. The issue has seriously damaged relations in the region, with the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder cancelling a visit here last month because of the controversy. It has also created a nationalist atmosphere here ahead of elections in June. Recently, the former Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said the country should not join the European Union without explicit guarantees concerning the Benes decrees. Mr Klaus is leader of the strongest party, a top candidate for either prime minister, or even president following the retirement of Vaclav Havel next year.
Jerusalem Post 23 April 2002 Berlin police: Jews shouldn't wear garments identifying them as Jewish By Ha'aretz Service The Berlin police has advised Jews in the city not to wear any garments that identify them as Jews for fear this may expose them to attacks by Arab youths, Army Radio reported Tuesday. Police specifically advised against the wearing of skullcaps and the Star of David. The warning comes in the wake of a attacks on Jews and Jewish sites in Germany in recent weeks, and the rising wave of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe in recent months, against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "This is a blow to freedom of religion, but the police cannot protect every single Jew," Army Radio quoted Berlin police spokesman Lars Zunman as saying.
10 April 2002 KATHIMERINI English Edition Honoring Greeks who saved Jews Israeli Embassy and Greek Jewish community remember ordinary citizens and their heroic acts AP Young Israelis place candles on the rails at the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp during the March of the Living in Oswiecim, Poland yesterday. By Miron Varouhakis - Kathimerini English Edition They led ordinary lives in a country where war was about to break out. Their names, unlike those who fought bravely and lost their lives at the front lines, have been known by few, mostly by their neighbors and close friends. Even fewer are those who have come to know their acts of bravery. Not any more. “Tonight is the eve of the Holocaust Memorial Day. It is only natural therefore that, together with the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, we have chosen this day to bestow the awards of the ‘Righteous among the Nations,’ a day on which the Holocaust is being commemorated by the Jews worldwide,” Israeli Ambassador to Athens David Sasson said on Monday night during a special ceremony in his residence to honor 13 Greeks who helped rescue several Greek Jews from the Nazis. “Although 57 years have elapsed since the end of WWII, we continue to remember those very few who dared to risk their own and their families’ lives in order to rescue Jews from Nazi bestiality.” After extensive research, the Israeli envoy and the president of the Greek Council of Jewish Communities, Moses Konstantinis, bestowed the prestigious award of the “Righteous among the Nations” on 13 Greek citizens who risked their lives to save their persecuted Jewish compatriots during the Nazi occupation of Greece. The awards are given by the Jerusalem-based “Yad Vashem” Institute, created by Israel in order to perpetuate the memory of the heroes and the martyrs of the Holocaust. About 215 Greeks have received the award up to now, while the institute estimates that at least 243 Greeks carried out such courageous acts. The honorees were Giorgos and Phaedra Karakotsos, Solon and Loulou Vgenopoulos, Athanassios and Adriana Katsigiannis, Panos and Stasa Takaronis, Panos Zoulamopoulos, Popi Mavrogenous, Costis Mavrogenis and Ioannis and Avrokomi Karlaftis. Martyrs and heroes “Today’s ceremony serves two main purposes: that of historical memory and that of gratitude,” Konstantinis remarked. “The memory refers to all the victims of the horrific Nazi crimes that were carried out in Europe, prior to and during WWII. Especially, the memory honors the 6 million European Jews, among them 70,000 Greek Jews, who were killed methodically based on a scientific program and after torture.” Most of the Jewish community in Greece was wiped out by the Nazi forces, killed in death camps in Poland and elsewhere. “In this long list of those victims, the Jewish community of Greece has the sad privilege to be amongst the first in Europe, as 86 percent of its prewar population was permanently lost,” the president of the Central Board of Jewish Communities said. Today, less than 5,000 Greek Jews remain in the country. Those who survived will always remember those who sheltered them and the efforts of the Greek authorities to hide their true identities. “The gratitude to our fellow Greeks, who gave a deeper meaning to the word human, is eternal. Today’s ceremony shows that although over 50 years have passed since then, the gratitude of Greek Jews continues to search for its saviors to honor them,” Konstantinis said. “From its side, the city police — which also has been honored with the title of the ‘Righteous among the Nations’ — was issuing identification cards with false Christian names in an effort to save Jews from all areas around Greece, while under the order of Archbishop Damaskinos many Jews were baptized in the churches typically as Christians. No similar actions took place in any other European country.” Scores of Jews from across the country and Europe found refuge in Zakynthos, where local authorities and members of the Orthodox Church created a “Jewish enclave.” “Zakynthos was the only place in Nazi-occupied Europe where all Jews were saved after the courageous actions of the Metropolitan Bishop of Zakynthos Chrysostomos and Mayor Loukas Karrer,” Konstantinis declared. Stories of bravery Before WWII the Pardo family was living in the northern city of Thessaloniki. The parents and the three daughters, ages 5, 10, and 14, had friendly ties with doctor Giorgos Karakotsos and his wife Phaedra, who had an apartment in central Thessaloniki. When the Nazi forces occupied the city, all Jews were transferred to a ghetto while the men were sent to forced labor camps. Karakotsos used a forged medical certificate to release Mr Pardo, while later, when the Nazis were transferring the Jews to death camps, he took the entire Pardo family into his home, sheltering them until they could find a safe passage out of the country. The risk he took by hiding the Pardo family at his house for himself and his family was enormous, as the entire neighborhood knew the Jewish family. Unable to find a safe passage, the Karakotsos couple gave shelter to the Pardo family for over a year and a half, until the city of Thessaloniki was liberated. The Karlaftis family also courageously managed to supply a young Jew with a false identification card with a Christian name, and shelter him at their house in Aspropyrgos outside of Athens until he managed to flee safely by boat to Palestine. When in September 1943 the Germans occupied Athens, the Cohen family was alarmed as reports of Jews being arrested in Thessaloniki were reaching the capital. Then, Aaron Cohen, who had close ties with Greek Christians, decided not to register with the local synagogue as the Germans had instructed them, and hid in the homes of his Christian friends. His personal friend Solon Vgenopoulos, along with his wife Loulou, helped members of the Cohen family find shelter in Christian homes, while supplying them with forged identity cards with Christian names. Some were given shelter for over eight months, managing to live in decent conditions, while some of them had to be relocated to new safe houses after a failed attempt to flee to Turkey. They all knew that if the Germans discovered that they had been harboring Jews in their homes, they would have to face the firing squad. “These were the people that gave a small ray of light in the dark years between 1939 and 1945 that enwrapped Europe,” Sasson remarked. “We shall never cease to remember those courageous people with the utmost respect, appreciation and gratitude.”
23 April 2002 KATHIMERINI English Edition Turkey’s gaffe-prone PM Ecevit irritates his main regional ally Israel needs more than half-hearted apologies to let its neighboring partner off the hook By Burak Bekdil - Kathimerini English Edition It would be no ordinary event if a prime minister said, “We want war in the Middle East, not peace.” Well, it may be if the man has a rich record of lapsus linguae. It caused embarrassment when Bulent Ecevit, the Turkish prime minister, praised “Turkey’s excellent relations with Israel” after meeting with former US President Bill Clinton as he mistook the Jewish state for America. It caused similar embarrassment when he promised prompt “earthquake aid” to Turkish flood victims; or when he condemned Russia “for its bad treatment of the Uighur minority in East Turkestan,” mistaking Russia for China. Shortly after Mr Ecevit referred to Hamid Karzai, leader of Afghanistan’s interim government, as “general manager of Afghanistan,” Bekir Coskun, a prominent Turkish columnist, suggested that the government set up a “gaffe management bureau” to repair the damage after Mr Ecevit makes a public statement. But Turkey’s Jewish friends thought it went beyond a simple slip of the tongue when Mr Ecevit called Israel’s military offensive against Palestinian civilians “genocide.” Although he probably meant “massacre,” the prime minister broke many Jewish hearts in Tel Aviv and, more importantly, in Washington. In protest, the Jewish American Friends of Turkey, a lobby group, decided to dissolve itself, but later gave up the idea. All the same, Mr Ecevit’s quasi-apologies that “I am sorry to have offended...” or “I did not mean to...” have failed to win Jewish hearts. The Jews want something more than a mere apology. Jewish groups in the US Congress want Mr Ecevit “to retract his statement, not to apologize.” The trouble is, Mr Ecevit has no intention of doing so at a time when his coalition government has come under political pressure to distance itself from “the butcher of Sabra and Shatila.” Turkish reactions to the Middle East drama, however, are not homogeneous. The Islamists and Marxists, who have categorically opposed Turkey’s strategic alliance with the Jewish state, take the front lines in anti-Jewish protests. Recai Kutan, leader of an Islamist opposition party, has asked the government to suspend all diplomatic ties with Israel. Mr Kutan has even argued that the Palestinian suicide bombers “resort to violence because they have been left with no other choice.” Politicians are notorious hypocrites, but Mr Kutan’s statement was quite over the line in a country that has lost nearly 40,000 lives in 15 years of separatist terrorism. Fortunately, no anti-Semitic violence has so far been reported in Turkey. Demonstrations are neither frequent nor massive, apart from those weekly protests after Friday prayers, and those even less frequent ones by groups of leftist and Islamist students at university campuses. A campaign to turn off home lights at 9 p.m. sharp every day to express solidarity with the Palestinians has failed to attract many enthusiasts. Although they disapprove of the Israeli violence against civilians in Palestinian cities, most Turks seem to remember that the Kurdish separatist terror was born at Syrian-controlled camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. They also seem to remember their deep historical hostilities with most of their Arab neighbors. Ertugrul Ozkok, editor in chief of the mass circulation Hurriyet, argued that “this is a kind of reciprocity... the Turks protest the massacre of the Palestinians as silently as the Arabs had protested the massacre of the Turks throughout the history.” Such were the times when the Israeli Independence Day was celebrated in Ankara. Few social events could have been timed worse. Unlike other national day celebrations, only one Turkish Cabinet minister showed up at the Israeli reception, only to shake hands with David Sultan, Israel’s ambassador to Ankara, and to have a quick drink in less than three minutes and leave. As evidence of the policy differences between the government and the military, one general and four lieutenant generals from the Turkish General Staff were present at the event, along with two former air force commanders. For the government, Middle East developments are a nuisance that may have (negative) political repercussions and therefore must be “handled with care.” For the military, it is a nuisance that should leave no trace on “our long-term strategic alliance with Israel.” On the surface, the former may look like Turkish policy. In reality it is the latter that counts.
Kathimerini (Greece) 11 April 2002 The human cost of communism Controversial 'Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression' unsettles leftover illusions Prague, August 1968. The Soviet invasion is reminiscent of Hitler's incursion in March 1939. A young man gives Russian soldiers a Nazi salute (photo from the book). By Harry van Versendaal - English Edition You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. Breaking too many eggs, however, can be an awful strain — and if those eggs are human lives, a tragedy. Already famous in most European countries and the United States, "The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression" is the first comprehensive attempt to estimate the number of lives taken in the effort to realize the communist utopia. The writers of this international best seller, which was recently brought out in Greek (Hestia, 2001) have explored the previously undisclosed archives of former Soviet bloc countries to provide a detailed account of the crimes committed under communist regimes around the world over 70 years: terror, torture, famine, deportations, and mass executions. The book reads like a criminal indictment against the Soviet Union of Stalin, the China of Mao, Kim Il Sung's Korea, Vietnam under "Uncle Ho," Cuba under Castro, Ethiopia under Mengistu, Neto's Angola, Afghanistan under Najibullah, and so on. The indictment is even more compelling as most of its contributors are former communists, who at some point realized that the road to hell was paved with good intentions. Not surprisingly, the publication of "The Black Book of Communism" in France in 1997 instantly touched off a heated political and intellectual debate — even among its own contributors, many of whom quickly dissociated themselves from the introduction and the conclusion of the book written by Stephane Courtois. According to Nicolas Werth and Jean-Louis Margolin, Courtois's estimate of the number of victims was overblown. The introduction to the book provides an approximation of the number of civilians murdered by communist regimes between 1917 and 1991: The Soviet Union: 20 million; China: 65 million; Vietnam: 1 million; North Korea: 2 million; Cambodia: 2 million; Eastern Europe: 1 million; Latin America: 150,000; Africa: 1.7 million; Afghanistan: 1.5 million. In total, about 100 million people. Contentious as these numbers may be for some, other claims made in the introduction provoked even more controversy. Teleology and class genocide Courtois asserts that the high toll was no accident but a systemic element of a doctrine that promised to erase class distinctions by erasing entire classes and the people who composed them. As such, the argument goes, there is little to distinguish Lenin's and Stalin's practice of "class genocide" from Hitler's "race genocide." Needless to say, Courtois's claim stirred fierce reactions among left-wing sympathizers who identify with the anti-fascist movement and who immediately lashed out at what they saw as Courtois's revisionism. Dimitris Dimitrakos, who wrote the introduction to the Greek edition in which he also sets out to defend the book against criticism from the left, endorses Courtois's opinion that crime is an inherent characteristic of communist philosophy. But what matters most, he argues, is not communist intentions or programs but the victims, both the known and unknown. To borrow a phrase from Italian writer Ignazio Silone, "Revolutions, like trees, must be judged by their fruit." In the same spirit, Dimitrakos claims that if the criminal activity that is attributed to communism derives from its totalitarian nature then there is no reason not to compare it to other totalitarian movements and regimes such as fascism and Nazism. The book describes communist atrocities in numbing detail albeit in a sober fashion. The violent episodes, the devastation, and the social evils documented in the book illustrate how Marxism transformed itself from an empirical science into an intolerant religion, persecuting those who did not conform; how concrete reality is bent to fit a preordained scheme, enslaving the individual; how the individual, as Camus puts it, "must bow to the iron laws of the class struggle as the party interprets them;" how, through the deification of history, all human actions receive their legitimization ex posto facto, at the end of the dialectic — the communist state. Simply put, they illustrate the basic mantra of communist leaders: If the facts do not agree with the theory, well, change the facts. Critics have argued that there is no single communism, but rather different versions which were implemented at different times and places, hence there can be no total and indiscriminate estimate of the people who died under communist rule (for such an account, see the "The Century of Communisms," which was published as a response to "The Black Book of Communism"). To this Dimitrakos replies that producing an aggregate of the victims of communism does not mean denying the heterogeneity of the circumstances in which they died. It rather means that the criminality of these regimes is systematic and not coincidental. The Greek author also replies to those who say that under different circumstances, communism could have taken a different path; a more human, a more peaceful, a more democratic and, perhaps, a more viable one. Historical experience, however, has dashed any such hopes. The utopian experiment, Dimitrakos notes, took place in 15 countries and lasted about 70 years. The majority of communist regimes collapsed from within and not under external pressure. This proves that communist regimes are unable to transform themselves into something else, into something more democratic. The Greek edition of "The Black Book of Communism" contains a chapter by Ilios Yiannakakis, history professor at the University of Lille, on the Greek victims of communism: The ethnic Greeks that were persecuted by the communists in the Soviet Union as well as the people who were subjected to terror and repression in the areas controlled by the Greek Communist Party (KKE). The Greek edition closes with an addendum written by journalist Rihardos Someritis wherein he castigates the lack of historical memory in this country. Any reference to communist crimes, he says, is, at best, treated with suspicion or, at worst, denounced as hubris. But, one can see systematic use of the crimes committed by the "others". "The Cold War has ended everywhere but Greece," he says. But it's time Greece looked its past in the eye. "Incredibly," Courtois says, "the crimes of communism have yet to receive a fair and just assessment from both historical and moral viewpoints." More than a decade after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, there are still a few shaken but unrepentant souls who still desire communism. Most people however, to paraphrase Vladimir Bukovski, have seen the broken eggs but never tasted the omelet. "Surely, then," as the foreword to the English edition declares, "the Party of humanity can spare a little compassion for the victims of the inhumanity so long meted out by so many of its own partisans.
The Observer UK Sunday April 21, 2002 [excerpt] Vilnius A very Baltic exchange Fuelled by liberal quantities of vodka and cherry beer, Jonathan Heawood warms to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania - and one of Europe's oddest and most decadent cities I'm striding down the main drag in Vilnius on a bitingly cold Saturday night trying to persuade my guide, Marina, that being ethnically Russian in post-Soviet Lithuania must be confusing. Marina's striding alongside telling me she finds it strange that I should think so when her phone rings and we stop on the corner of Gedimino Prospect and Totoriu for her to have an intense conversation in Russian while Polish Lithuanians, Belorussian Lithuanians, Lithuanian Lithuanians and even the odd Jewish Lithuanian stream past. It is Lithuanian Independence Day and everyone is out to party, but all we've got lined up is a glass of cherry beer at a theme pub. . . . This is an increasingly cheerful, but ethnically haphazard country, and there are many reminders of its awful past. Lithuania had a bad twentieth century, overrun by Germans and Russians. The former KGB headquarters in the centre of Vilnius is now a museum of genocide. The torture chambers are in the basement - dank rooms, with filthy windows looking on to the feet of passers-by. There's a cupboard under the stairs where a detainee would be left for three days. You can sit inside and close the door. Even though light creeps in through the gaps, the water has stopped dripping from the ceiling and the mould has been scrubbed off, you will feel a deep chill. The execution chamber is at the end of the corridor, down some more steps. It is an anonymous, whitewashed room with a suspended glass floor, beneath which the detritus of death has been left scattered - broken glasses, a pipe, a knife handle. It's horrifying, but numbing; the full meaning of what you've seen sinks in much, much later. In the meantime, there's jollier stuff to be getting on with. After my night on the Vilnius tiles and a couple of hours of vodka-addled sleep, I get up to sweat it all out in the hotel sauna. This turns out to be an entire health suite which I have to myself, including a Jacuzzi,a mini-bar and a dining table with a dial-up menu for the local steakhouse. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral is across the road; the Mabre Hotel buildings used to serve as dormitories for the monks and nuns (in separate wings, presumably). I could spend the weekend in the sauna, but Marina will be turning up with Alvydas in a minute to take me on tour. Alvydas is my driver, also organised by Lithuanian Holidays. I feel like a state visitor perched in the back of his people carrier as he steers us through the light morning traffic and out of Vilnius. We speed along pitted roads straight through the pine forest, where 100,000 Jews were taken to be shot by the Nazis. Lithuanian freedom fighters were shot in another part of the forest, by both Hitler and Stalin. Resistance continued throughout the Soviet occupation - the 'wood brothers', and some sisters, had strongholds in the forests, from where they mounted a liberation campaign. They were officially finished off in 1953, but, according to Marina, they continued in small bands until independence in 1991. There are rumours that some are still out there, unpersuaded that the Cold War is over. They must be using their rifles as walking sticks by now. A cave complex was recently discovered deep in the forest, equipped for months of self-sufficiency. After a couple of hours, we arrive at Grutus, a park carved out of the pine woods, where the bronze Lenins and Stalins which previously presided over every town square have been grouped among the trees.
BBC 15 Apr 2002 Moscow ups security for Hitler's birthday Police will protect public places and diplomatic missions Moscow police are planning to step up security on Saturday amid fears of attacks by extremist skinheads marking Hitler's birthday. There is a real threat Yevgeny Gilgeyev, police spokesman It is believed that foreigners are particularly at risk, after several foreign embassies - including the USA's, Japan's and India's - received an anonymous e-mail threatening to kill all foreigners in Russia. "There is a real threat. We will take all possible measures to prevent any disturbances," said a police official, Yevgeny Gilgeyev. The police will protect diplomatic missions, public places, railway terminals, airports, the metro and shopping centres, he added. Market attack Xenophobic attacks occur regularly in Moscow Last week, in the wake of the e-mail threat, the US consulate issued a warning on to Americans to be "vigilant and cautious" and avoid large gatherings where skinheads might congregate. Some 10,000 Russians, mostly young people, are members of neo-Nazi groups, according to the Russian Interior Ministry. Xenophobic attacks occur regularly in Moscow and other large Russian cities, with Africans and people from the Caucasus region among those most often targeted. Last April 20, Russian skinheads went on a rampage in an ethnic Azeri street market, trashing stalls and beating merchants. A Chechen man was stabbed to death in another part of Moscow. A few days after the late Nazi leader's birthday in 1998, a group of youths broke the teeth of a black US Marine embassy guard. Harassment Last week the embassies of seven former Soviet republics in the Caucasus and Central Asia appealed to the Russian authorities to take action to prevent attacks on non-Slavs. They said they had received numerous complaints about violent harassment on the Moscow metro, and at outdoor markets and discos. Referring to Hitler's birthday on Saturday, the consuls wrote: "The approaching, so-called day of memory, with the noticeable activation of similar groups, naturally provokes our concern about possible consequences."
BBC 20 April, 2002 Moscow race hate runs deep The stop and search campaign targets non-Slavs By Sarah Rainsford BBC Moscow At a busy city market, a police officer radios for back-up. "Operation Foreigner" is at its height and the Moscow authorities are cracking down on unwelcome guests. The offender this time is a young girl: her crime, a missing stamp in her passport. She doesn't look much like trouble, but the officer points out her large bag. "She's from Uzbekistan," he explains, "so she could be carrying drugs". Human rights worker Alexander Osipov believes that this stop-and-check policy, which deliberately targets non-Slavs, helps fuel a general hostility toward ethnic minorities in Russia. Extremist groups have grown more visible in Russia "There is a widely held opinion among police officers, politicians and common people that so-called migrants are people who are inclined to crime," he says. "They are checked all the time - and not just in the streets. The police come to their flats. This practice violates any legal norms - it is a kind of institutional racism". The police deny the allegations. Interior Ministry spokesman Sergei Smirnov is adamant the document checks are a crucial part of effective policing. Violent attacks "It's not just decent people who come to Moscow," he says, "criminals come too." Operation Foreigner, he says, is a way of exposing them. "Of course, most of the people we check are dark-skinned, but it's simply a way of preventing crime. There's nothing racist in it." Singled out for the colour of their skin, Moscow's ethnic minorities have learned to live with random detentions and fines. Now, though, they are encountering a far more brutal form of racism. In one of the city's least desirable suburbs, a group of Tajik men sit chatting in their flat as baby Daniel wanders among them, angling for attention. Slightly apart from the others sits Nazarsho. Racist attacks occur regularly in Moscow He is in his 30s but looks a decade older, his face grey and drawn. Three weeks ago Nazarsho was beaten unconscious and left for dead on the street by a gang of skinheads. Like thousands of others from the former Soviet republics, these men came to Moscow as casual labourers, driven by poverty at home. The money Nazarsho earns here helps feed his family back in Tajikistan. But after the attack, he says it is just not worth it anymore. "We were just on the way home from work when it happened. We could do nothing about it," Nazarsho tells me. He is speaking with difficulty, his head still aching from his injuries. "I just want to go back to Tajikistan now, there's nothing left for me here. I'm better off at home - poor but safe." Mood of fear There are no official statistics on racially motivated crimes but human rights groups believe they are on the rise. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, says it hears of at least ten attacks each month on asylum seekers, and many others go unreported. Students, too, are bearing the brunt of xenophobia. The Peoples' Friendship University on the edge of town is home to a large percentage of students from Africa and Asia, and has been targeted before. The police have promised to increase security over the weekend, but the students say that offers little long-term comfort. President Putin: Condemned extremism "Today nobody believes that the Russian militia or the government can guarantee their security," says Gabriel Kotchofa, of the Foreign Students Association. "We are asking only one question - 'how many skinheads have been arrested? How many skinheads have been judged? And where are they now - in what prison?'." The high profile of the latest racist threats has jolted the authorities into action. In a measure of how seriously it's being taken, President Vladimir Putin used his state of the nation address this week to condemn extremism. For the foreign communities here, it is a welcome step against the starkest form of racism. But if there is to be any hope of the extremists taking the measure seriously, there needs to be a simultaneous fight against prejudice at the very heart of the system.
euters 30 Apr 2002 Bloodshed, fear in Chechnya's wasteland By Peter Graff GROZNY, Russia, April 30 (Reuters) - Malika Khatayeva sat propped upright on a hospital bed and began to relive the morning three days before, when masked Russian troops sprayed bullets through her window, hitting her twice in the groin. "There was blood everywhere. Blood and pieces of flesh," said the 63-year-old woman, her voice rendered flat by painkillers and pain. "I was crawling on my knees. I was naked and crawling. I was naked. It is so shameful to speak of it. "They were such tall men, so tall," she said, raising her arms above her head. "The dogs! 'Why are you shooting?' I said. 'Why are you killing me? Shame on you.'" The Kremlin says the "military phase" of war in Chechnya is over and life is "returning to normal" in Grozny, the once leafy provincial capital of 400,000 people that Russia has bombed to dust in two wars with separatists since 1994. But Chechen civilians and Russian troops are still consumed by hatred and fear -- palpable everywhere on a recent reporting trip despite the best efforts of Kremlin minders to steer journalists away from the violence. The hosts showed off reconstruction projects, but there was little to see: a re-stuccoed railway station and two apartment blocs with new glass in the windows, fresh paint and some geraniums planted out front. "Only about 0.1 percent of the federal reconstruction plan has been implemented," lamented Amnat Batyzheva, a deputy head of Chechnya's pro-Moscow government. As long as shooting seems about to start again, Chechens are in no rush to rebuild. SEARCH FOR THE MISSING At the gates to Russia's main Khankala base near Grozny, about half a dozen women maintain a vigil for lost sons, husbands or brothers who they say have vanished in Russian custody. "They surrounded our house and took him. There were no markings on their APCs (armoured personnel carriers). They just took him away," Ruman Debisheva said of her son Albert. "I have been searching for him for 23 days now. I am a mother, what else can I do?" Laura Abdulrakhmanova was searching for her two brothers, Ali Khan and Maydan, taken away on December 3 and January 4 in two separate sweeps in the Grozny suburb of Argun. "They said they would check them and then let them go. We have no idea where they are," she said and began shouting at a Russian officer. He shouted back: "And where is my comrade, who was kidnapped while accompanying your village elders?" The main tactic of the Russian forces in pursuing rebels is the "sweep", sealing off villages or neighbourhoods and detaining men of fighting age in mass arrests, or pulling them off the streets for passport violations. Russia says all arrests are documented and it is working to improve oversight by civilian prosecutors. But human rights groups say all too often, those detained disappear. Sometimes they turn up dead. "While most of those detained are subsequently released after periods in acknowledged detention, dozens remain unaccounted for -- 'disappeared' -- and are not seen alive by their families again," New York-based Human Rights Watch wrote this month in its second report on disappearances in Chechnya. The report documented 87 cases of disappearances between March 2001 and April 2002, including several in which those who went missing were found later dead in mass graves. Memorial, a Russian human rights group with an office in Grozny staffed by Chechen lawyers, has recorded hundreds of disappearances and says the total may reach into the thousands. Kremlin officials denied repeated requests by Reuters to visit Memorial's central Grozny office during a stay in the city. SOLDIERS BESIEGED Russian soldiers also live in fear, largely besieged in their camps. Grozny's outdoor market and other public places are off limits. Contact with the locals is kept to a minimum. At Khankala, Russian forces have built an impressive permanent base of tidy brick barracks. Troops there march in formation in the morning, chanting songs about girls back home like extras in an army movie. Most have never left the base. Outside, Russian troops are hunkered down at heavily fortified checkpoints, barely exchanging words with motorists as they search their cars. Moscow declared victory two years ago when rebels withdrew from the last villages and towns. But the signs are the Russians and their Chechen allies are now dying faster than their enemies. The rebels' deadliest weapons are home-made mines, with radio detonators made from cheap transistors or parts scavenged from remote-control toys, strapped to unexploded Russian artillery shells and buried under Chechnya's mud and gravel roads. Lethal mine attacks can occur several times a week. The rebels have also openly declared a campaign of murder of Chechens who cooperate with the Russian authorities, and have killed scores of pro-Moscow officials. After a mine attack killed at least 17 pro-Moscow elite Chechen OMON police officers on April 18, the commander of the unit vowed on television to kill an equal number of the "best men of the clans of those who did this". CULPRITS RARELY FOUND Much of the violence in Chechnya is well documented, but pursuing the culprits is difficult. Under new rules, proudly trumpeted in Grozny's pro-Moscow newspaper as a "great step toward peace", Russian troops and paramilitary police are not permitted to travel in unmarked vehicles or, in most cases, wear masks. But during Reuters' visit, those restrictions were flagrantly ignored. So far, only four cases of police abuse of civilians have been brought to court, according to Chechen prosecutors. Military prosecutors have pursued 132 cases of alleged crimes by soldiers, but only 33 have led to convictions. Prosecutors say they have opened more than 2,000 criminal cases for crimes committed by suspected militants. Inside Grozny's fortified pro-Moscow government compound, Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Nikitin held the police report of the attack on Malika Khatayeva, the woman in hospital who was shot in her home in the village of Chechen Aul. "Unidentified men in masks and camouflage uniforms, on three APCs, entered Chechen Aul and opened fire" wounding Khatayeva and another woman, it said. A criminal case had been opened. That the men were Russian troops or paramilitary police is all but impossible to dispute. Chechen rebels have not been seen on APCs for years, and there is no way they could have reached a village on the outskirts of Grozny and escaped. Nikitin did not deny this, but shook his head. "You want me to say this was federal forces. But until an investigation determines their exact identity, I cannot say who they might be. They could be homeless vagrants on APCs." Back on her hospital bed, Khatayeva sees little hope. "I don't feel sorry for myself. I've lived my 63 years. I feel sorry for the children, the innocent children," she said before her mind wandered again. "The men were so tall," she repeated. "So tall. The dogs!"
24 April, 2002, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK Fugitive Karadzic sends his regrets Karadzic says the war crimes tribunal is illegal Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic - the UN's most wanted war crimes suspect - has sent a letter offering his "regrets" for being unable to attend a criminal tribunal in The Hague. In the letter to Kosta Cavoski, a Serbian law professor, Mr Karadzic said he would not be answering calls for his surrender. Not only is this tribunal illegally established, but it is also a source of shame for a decent part of the West, which now backs it "I have not had a chance to sort it out with Sylvester," said Mr Karadzic, referring to an appeal by the leader of the Nato-led Stabilisation Force (Sfor), US General John Sylvester. "But if I had, I would express my regret for being unable to accept his appeals to turn myself in to the tribunal. "Not only is this tribunal illegally established, but it is also a source of shame for a decent part of the West, which now backs it. The family and friends of al-Qaeda are not threatened, which is nice, but my friends and family are threatened "I would ask General Sylvester what kind of court it is, and first of all what kind of a prosecution it is, that first arrests people and then collects evidence. "The family and friends of al-Qaeda are not threatened, which is nice, but my friends and family are threatened, even though I have never in any respect been an enemy of General Sylvester's homeland." He added that "any Serb, regardless of his responsibility or guilt" could find himself before The Hague court. Mr Cavoski is chairman of the Belgrade-based group the International Committee for the Truth about Radovan Karadzic. Mandate The letter, which was published in the latest issue of Belgrade's Nedeljni Telegraf, went on to accuse the Sfor and its leader of exceeding their mandate. Mr Karadzic then warned General Sylvester not to cross paths with him. "According to his mandate, the gentleman general could arrest me only if his soldiers happen to come across me during their everyday activities. I have made thousands of new friends, about whom my pursuers do not know "For more than six years I have been doing all I can to ensure that that meeting never takes place, and it would be better if General Sylvester were to do the same. "That is because I would come out of such a meeting in one way or another. In the technical sense I would probably come out of it very badly, but in the moral sense I would definitely be the winner." He concluded by advising the commander not to "terrorise" wanted men. Perhaps they left us in Bosnia so that the whole of it can be ours one day "I have made thousands of new friends, about whom my pursuers do not know," he said. "I have more and more of them with each passing day. "I do not have to remain in just two or three villages in the Serb Republic because Bosnia has remained a single country, so why should I deny myself the whole of Bosnia? "Perhaps they left us in Bosnia so that the whole of it can be ours one day." Charges Mr Karadzic and his former army commander, Ratko Mladic, are charged with war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia based in The Hague. Ratko Mladic, who is accused of war crimes, is believed to be in Belgrade Both men are accused of involvement in the 1995 massacre of more than 7,000 Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic was extradited last year and is now on trial for alleged atrocities carried out during wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. The letter, allegedly sent on 17 April and signed by Mr Karadzic, was published the day after 17 war crimes indictees failed to meet a Yugoslav Government deadline to give themselves up or face arrest and extradition. Mr Karadzic has eluded capture in spite of Nato-led raids in south-eastern Bosnia two months ago. He is said to travel between eastern Bosnia and the republic of Montenegro. Mr Mladic is believed to be in hiding in Belgrade.
AFP 3 May 2002 Balkan Briefs Official says no Bosnian-Serb army protection for Karadzic BANJA LUKA - The Bosnian-Serb Defense Ministry said yesterday that fugitive Bosnian-Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic did not benefit from the protection of the Bosnian-Serb army. Karadzic and his former army commander Ratko Mladic, both wanted by the Hague-based tribunal for war crimes and genocide committed in the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, “are not under protection nor jurisdiction of the army of Republika Srpska (RS, the Bosnian-Serb entity),” said spokesman Branko Trkulja. “We neither have contacts nor knowledge” concerning the whereabouts of Karadzic and Mladic, Trkulja added.
Jerusalem Post 8 Apr 2002 Sweden cited for failure to prosecute Nazis By Haim Shapiro JERUSALEM (April 8) - Sweden is among the worst offenders in refusal to prosecute Nazi criminals, and received a failing mark in a report to be issued today by the Simon Wiesenthal Center-Jerusalem on worldwide prosecution of Nazi war criminals. Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the center, said yesterday that, due to a statute of limitations on murder, the Swedish government in principle refuses to investigate, let alone prosecute, Swedish Nazi war criminals or such criminals, mostly from the Baltic states, who found refuge in Sweden after World War II. Zuroff noted that this is particularly unfortunate, since Sweden is a world leader in education on the Holocaust. The director of the Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem pointed out that legal experts have questioned the Swedish statute of limitations, indicating that international law might apply relating to crimes involving genocide. He also said that he has appealed to the Swedish prime minister to change the law, to no avail. Zuroff classed Sweden along with Syria, which has consistently denied that the notorious Nazi criminal, Alois Brunner, is living in Damascus, despite convincing evidence to the contrary. Brunner was recently sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment in France, which is seeking his extradition, along with Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and Poland. The other states receiving a failing mark were Venezuela and Colombia. During the period under review, from January 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002, the center submitted a list of 18 suspected Nazi war criminals from the Baltic states who had emigrated to Venezuela and 11 similar suspects to Colombia, but both states have not responded, Zuroff said. Despite the situation in such countries, Zuroff said it is amazing how many Nazis are still being tracked down, almost 57 years after the end of World War II. "Practically every month a Nazi criminal is uncovered somewhere in the world," Zuroff said. He noted that the US, and to a lesser extent Canada, had received the best results, prosecuting Nazi war criminals not for war crimes or genocide, but for immigration and naturalization violations, which are easier to prove. During the period under review, the US obtained six convictions and Canada three. Zuroff characterized Canada as having had moderate success in this area, along with Germany, which has a special agency to facilitate prosecution of Nazi war criminals and obtained two convictions for murder during the period under review. During this time, one new case was filed and nine new investigations were initiated. Also in this category is Poland, which has recently established an Institute for National Remembrance. During the period under review, Poland had one conviction for genocide and 48 investigations were begun. Among the states characterized as having only minimal success were Lithuania, France, and Italy. Zuroff was particularly scathing about Lithuania, which has established a Special Investigations Division that initiated 100 new investigations, but where not a single Lithuanian Nazi war criminal has ever sat one day in jail. "In practice, a Nazi in good health can be certain that he will remain free until he is too ill not to be put on trial," Zuroff said. As for Italy and France, in both countries it has proven extremely difficult to take legal action against local Nazi collaborators. Great Britain and Scotland, Croatia, Estonia, Costa Rica, Austria, and Australia, were all graded as having made insufficient or unsuccessful efforts. In particular, Zuroff pointed out that Australia, to which hundred, if not thousands, of collaborators and criminals fled after World War II, has failed to take successful legal action against a single one. Austria, he said, should have been a leader in the prosecution of Nazi perpetrators, but little has been achieved. During the period under review, 10 new investigations were opened, but no convictions were obtained and no new cases were filed. In both countries, he said, the political climate is not conducive. "The center's experience has been that the existence of political will to bring Nazi war criminals to justice is an absolute prerequisite for the successful prosecution of Holocaust perpetrators," Zuroff said.
Jerusalem Post 7 Apr 2002 'Genocide' comment hits Turkish-Israeli ties By Metehan Demir ANKARA (April 7) -Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's remarks that Israel is carrying out a "genocide" against Palestinians has led to a serious crisis between the two strategic allies. On Thursday, Ecevit said at a meeting of his party that not only PA Chairman Yasser Arafat but the whole Palestinian nation is being destroyed step by step, adding that genocide against the Palestinian people is being carried out before the eyes of the world. Israel has launched simultaneous diplomatic initiatives in Ankara and Tel Aviv to protest Ecevit's remarks linking Israel's use of force to the genocide term. Israel has asked Ankara for an "explanation" of the comments, warning that Ecevit's announcement could affect relations between the countries. After Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem also warned that ties may be affected by the "genocide" comment, Ecevit said his words were misunderstood. They merely reflect his concerns over the events in the Middle East, he added. This did not satisfy Israel, according to Foreign Ministry sources who said they were deeply disappointed. Following Ecevit's statement, Turkish military and diplomatic circles assured Israel that Turkey has no plan to change its friendly policy vis-a-vis Israel. During his meeting with his Danish conterpart on Friday, Ecevit noted that Turkey attaches great importance to ties with Israel, and said he does not mean that the Israeli public is committing genocide. Ecevit also said yesterday that he does not want to disappoint or upset the Israeli people by his use of the term. American Jewish lobbies, known for their support of Turkey in the face of Armenian and Greek lobbies in Washington, are preparing to voice their concerns to Turkey. They reportedly delivered a message to the Turkish Embassy in Washington decrying Ecevit's statements. They added that the comments are particularly unseemly in consideration of their attempts to defend Turkey from Armenian claims of genocide, and in light of the Jewish genocide suffered at the hand of the Nazis. Last year, Jewish-American lobbies played a key role in stopping a Congressional bill foreseeing an Armenian genocide law, urging US authorities to allow arms sales for Turkey. A key member of a prominent Jewish-American organization told The Jerusalem Post that his organization plan to write a letter to voice their disapproval. The minor storm will not affect the recently signed deal for TAAS-Israel Military Industries to modernize 170 of Turkey's M-60 tanks, despite a public outcry raised in protest of the ongoing Israeli operations. High-level Turkish military and diplomatic sources told the Post that a line should be drawn between being emotional and being a professional in ties with Israel, a key ally since 1996. At mid-week, Ecevit and his defense minister Sabahattin in mid-week said that canceling the vital $670 million deal is not an option. A senior diplomatic official said that criticizing Israel is a must for the ongoing operation, but keeping strong ties with the ally is also vital for Turkey. Meanwhile, Israel has declared that it will not participate in the upcoming three-way Anatolian Eagle joint military exercises with the United States in Turkey due to technical problems. Turkey and Israel are still working to jointly produce Popeye II air-to-ground missiles as they prepare to start the Arrow II program with the approval of the US, in a further move to build a joint missile defense shield. Israel is currently upgrading Turkey's 54 F-4 and 48 F-5 jets under a nearly $1 billion deal.
AP 6 April 2002 Genocide’ talk downplayed By James C. Helicke - The Associated Press ANKARA - Turkey’s prime minister yesterday downplayed a statement made the day before in which he compared Israel’s campaign in the Palestinian territories to “genocide.” Turkey, a predominantly Muslim nation, has close military relations with Israel, and Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s comments Thursday were unusually critical. “We attach great importance to our relations with Israel,” Ecevit told reporters yesterday. “The fact that I have indicated our grievances in very clear terms, may have led certain groups to be offended.” In a statement late Thursday, he said that his use of the word “genocide” had led to interpretations he did not intend. “My words reflect the concerns felt in the region and in our country about recent events,” he said. Earlier, the Turkish leader told a meeting of his political party that “genocide is being committed” by Israel against the Palestinians. The speech sparked speculation that the US-backed Israeli-Turkish friendship was buckling under pressure from the Turkish public, which has harshly condemned Israeli sieges in the West Bank. About 5,000 worshipers protested in Istanbul after yesterday’s prayers, calling for the Turkish government to resign over its close relations with Israel. “God damn the collaborating infidels,” they chanted. Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up the protest. At least 25 people were detained. Smaller protests were reported throughout Turkey. Ecevit also said yesterday that he welcomed US President George W. Bush’s decision to send Secretary of State Colin Powell to the region. “The conflict that has escalated can only be solved with the intervention of the US government,” he said.
Daily Star (Lebanon) 30 Apr 2002 West Bank incursions strain military alliance with Turkey Ecevit bows to popular pressure, slams Israeli ‘genocide’ Ed Blanche Special to The Daily Star Israel’s controversial military alliance with Turkey is being increasingly strained by Ariel Sharon’s invasion of Palestinian towns in the West Bank, enough for Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit to brand it “genocide,” not an epithet that Ankara invokes since it has been haunted by allegations that the Turks massacred some 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. There is strong sympathy for the Palestinians in Turkey. Opposition parties, along with a significant portion of the mainstream press, are calling for Ankara to abrogate its February 1996 military cooperation agreement with Israel and cancel large defense contracts with the Jewish state. There have been signs for some time that Ankara was becoming uncomfortable with its expanding ties with Israel because of the Palestinian intifada. Yet, despite growing public pressure, it is highly unlikely that Turkey will make any moves to break off this strategic partnership between two pro-Western, non-Arab states who are the region’s strongest militarily powers. Despite the unease, Turkey’s generals, the real power in the country, seem determined to develop the relationship further for strategic and economic reasons. And just to prove their point, as Israeli tanks smashed their way into West Bank towns at the end of March, the generals ordered the Defense Ministry to sign a controversial $668 million contract with state-run Israel Military Industries (IMI) to upgrade 170 of the Turkish Army’s US-built M60A1 tanks. The partnership with Israel gives Ankara immense influence in Washington through the pro-Israel lobby at a time when its relations with Europe are uneasy. The two countries are America’s most reliable allies in the Middle East and their partnership benefits US strategic interests, such as containing Iraq and Iran while protecting Jordan. The Americans are also using Turkey, with Israeli support, as the springboard for thrusting into Central Asia and securing the vast oil and gas reserves of the Caspian Basin, a key element in the Bush administration’s drive to secure new energy sources and lessen US dependence on the Gulf for its oil. The alliance also gives Turkey access to Israeli weapons systems. It is conducting an ambitious modernization of its armed forces that has been hampered by political restrictions imposed on weapons imports and technology transfers by the US Congress and European legislatures, citing Turkey’s poor human rights record. For their part, the Israelis desperately want to preserve the alliance with Turkey since that could provide their military forces with bases that put potential targets in Iran and Iraq within striking distance, enhancing the capabilities they already have to launch attacks from Israeli itself. Lucrative military contracts, like that with IMI, are also vital for Israel’s defense industries, which increasingly rely on foreign orders to maintain production lines and develop new systems. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, wrote in a recent paper: “While not a formal alliance, the present level of Israeli-Turkish security and political cooperation and the sheer economic, political and military weight of the two states combined ‘create a new alignment of power in the Middle East.’ Apart from their conventional might, Israel and Turkey have the strongest and most advanced economies in the region. Their combined GDP (gross domestic product) is much larger than the combined GDP of all other major military powers in the region.” The military alliance has caused deep concern in the region particularly Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Iran, which see it as a threat. Syria, Iraq and Iran believe that the alliance, encouraged to the hilt by the Americans, is designed to encircle them. The outbreak of the intifada in September 2000 and the subsequent election of Ariel Sharon as prime minister caused some dismay in Ankara, and the alliance with Israel came to be seen as something of a political liability. Behind the scenes, the defense establishments in both countries are working hard to keep the relationship intact. Over the last few weeks, Amos Yaron, director-general of Israel’s Defense Ministry, has made repeated telephone calls to Turkish officials, including Dursun Ali Ercan, who heads the undersecretariat for defense industries, Turkey’s main procurement agency. Israeli Foreign Ministry officials have been in constant contact with their counterparts in Ankara to limit the damage but, sources report, are becoming increasingly alarmed that intensifying domestic pressure in Turkey could jeopardize the alliance. Ecevit more than once condemned the violence, blaming both the Palestinians and Israelis in more or less equal measure. But Sharon’s policy of systematically assassinating Palestinian leaders and the rampage into the West Bank that he launched on March 29 caused deep embarrassment in Ankara. President Ahmed Sezer denounced the “Israeli aggression” and called for an end to the occupation of Palestinian land, warning US President George W. Bush that the conflict would damage the “war against terrorism” as well as US interests in the region. Foreign Minister Ismael Cem demanded an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and declared that it was “not realistic to expect a (Palestinian) administration which was humiliated and invaded, the leader of which has been isolated, to control terrorist factions.” Finally, on April 4, Ecevit delivered an unusually harsh denunciation of Israel. “The whole of the Palestinian state is being destroyed step by step,” he told parliamentary deputies of his center-left Democratic Left Party (DSP). “A genocide against the Palestinian people is being carried out before the eyes of the world.” Under pressure from Turkey’s generals, the alliance’s staunch-est advocates, Ecevit was forced to back off his use of the word “genocide,” but declared: “My words reflected the anxiety felt in our country and our region.” That could be seen on the streets, where Turks, mainly Islamists and leftists, continued to demonstrate against Israel’s actions and, in some instances, were arrested for their pains. One of the targets of their ire was the contract with IMI. Ecevit insisted that contract would be honored, but said: “We will review our relations with Israel in the future.” How encompassing that review might be remains to be seen. The generals have no wish to jeopardize Turkey’s relationship with Israel, which they see as a vital element in their strategic planning for extending Turkish influence in Central Asia. For one thing, the deal with IMI is the first phase of a program to upgrade 900 M60s, worth around $7 billion, and Israeli firms are seen as the most likely partners, further cementing the military relationship with Israel. Underlining the generals’ commitment to the alliance, IMI was given the $668 million contract without it being out to tender, which is the usual way of doing business in such deals. Other companies had proposed lower bids than IMI which offered to upgrade each tank for $3.5 million. One from General Dynamics of the US, for instance, was $500,000 less per tank. Two senior Defense Ministry officials involved in the M60 project opposed giving the contract to the Israelis and were dismissed earlier this year. In the end, the ministry signed the deal under pressure from the general staff. The Turkish media was outraged, with commentator Mehmet Ocaktan asking: “Was it in the interests of the Turkish people that their money should be used to strengthen Sharon and allow him to kill more Palestinians?” As fate would have it, the project may be torpedoed from an unexpected quarter Germany, whose relations with Turkey have been rather stormy of late. The German companies that were supposed to supply the engines to IMI for the M60 upgrades were reported to have stopped deliveries after Berlin suspended some military sales to Israel in protest against the invasion of the West Bank. That is likely to prove a temporary setback, but the antipathy of many Turks toward Israel appears to be growing.
Los Angelas Times April 8, 2002 THE WORLD Ethnic Roots May Be at the Bottom of Hoteliers' Woes Turkey: Sudden opposition surprises Armenian American and his wife. Times By AMBERIN ZAMAN, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES VAN, Turkey -- Nestled beneath snowcapped mountains along the border with Iran, this area wrapped around a vast lake and brimming with archeological treasures is among Turkey's best-kept secrets. So why not open a hotel here for adventurous travelers, tour operator Victor Bedoian from Arizona wondered during a visit in 1998. After several years of meticulous planning and plenty of encouragement from the Turkish government, Bedoian did just that in March 2001. Two months later, police in Van told Bedoian and his wife, Kristy, that the couple could not operate the hotel. "There's only one reason," said Bedoian during a recent interview here. "It's because I'm an ethnic Armenian." He's probably right. Muslim Turks and Christian Armenians remain bitterly divided, much of the anger traced back to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Armenians in eastern Turkey around the time of World War I. Turkey denies charges of genocide and says many of the dead fell victim to starvation and exposure while fleeing wartime fighting. The neighboring nation of Armenia's refusal to recognize its existing borders with Turkey also feeds the anger, as does Armenia's occupation of territory claimed by this nation's closest regional ally, Azerbaijan. Here in Van, where some of history's bloodier clashes between Turks and ethnic Armenians took place, some residents still fear that Armenians who fled will one day return to reclaim their lost property. The local branch of the Nationalist Action Party is at the forefront of a campaign to portray Bedoian as an Armenian agent whose "sinister agenda," according to local party boss Coskun Tatar, is to sow the seeds of "a greater Armenia" in Van by buying property in Van province. Media reports have accused Kristy Bedoian of links with ethnic Kurdish rebels who long fought Turkish troops in the region. "We are not against foreign investment; that would be really stupid," said Feyat Erdemir, a spokesman for the ultranationalist party. "But this man has different intentions, he is a mischief-maker." Yet, when Victor Bedoian first approached Turkish officials in 1999 about the possibility of investing here--together with 10 American partners, none of them ethnic Armenians--"they promised us the moon," he said. Operating licenses, work permits, all were swiftly issued amid smiles and piping hot glasses of tea. "Having an Armenian freely operating here would have been a great propaganda tool for Turkey," noted Kaan Soyak, co-chairman of the Turkish-Armenian Business Development Council, which is seeking to promote trade and cultural exchanges between the two ethnic groups. "They blew it." In May 2000, the couple opened a carpet showroom in Van to "test the waters" and made national television headlines as the first foreigners to invest in the largely Kurdish-populated region. "People were really thrilled to have Americans here, they knew we would help the local economy," said Kristy Bedoian, 49. Her husband said it was only after he bought the hotel, paying $700,000, that his troubles began. Police began to visit the premises repeatedly, demanding to see the couple's papers and grilling Victor Bedoian about his ancestry. Employees were threatened and asked why they were "working for those Armenians." Pressures escalated last May when Bedoian was informed that his residency application had been rejected and he was no longer authorized to do business in Turkey. As a result, all of his other permits were rendered invalid. The couple could get no further explanation from officials. Rumors were rife in Van that the provincial governor was opposed to their presence because of Bedoian's Armenian roots. Fearing official reprisal, friends began to stay away from the hotel. Last July, police entered the hotel and kicked out a group of foreign tourists who were trying to check in. In November, while the Bedoians were in the United States, police evicted employees and sealed the hotel's doors. When pressed for an explanation, Gov. Durmus Koc declined to comment. A senior Turkish official who requested anonymity said the Bedoians' case did not "reflect Turkey's national policy" and was a "local problem." During an official visit to Turkey in December, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell pressed national leaders to resolve the issue. A senior U.S. official familiar with the case terms the treatment of the Bedoians "outrageous." "All it does is scare away foreign investors and tarnish Turkey's reputation, which admittedly isn't that great anyway," said the official, who asked not to be identified. However, further prodding from the Bush administration has yielded no results, and U.S. officials say there is little else they can do. Bedoian disagrees. "If America wanted to fix this problem, it could do so right now," said Bedoian, 48. "We are facing systematic persecution by the Turkish state, and the American government, our local senators and representatives have all abandoned us." Privately, many Turkish and U.S. officials argue that the hotel's name--Vartan, the Armenian word for victory--lies at the root of Bedoian's woes. "It's like waving a red rag at a bull," said Haydar Celik, the hotel's 26-year-old Turkish manager. "Local sensitivities have been inflamed." Bedoian said he named the hotel after his only son and had no political agenda. "That stuff happened nearly a hundred years ago," he said of the widespread Armenian deaths. "It's time to move on, the accusations are insane." Born in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, Bedoian is a second-generation American. His grandmother was spirited out of central Turkey during the wartime violence by Turkish neighbors after her family "disappeared," as he puts it. Bedoian hardly fits the stereotype of the revenge-seeking nationalist. Describing himself as "an ex-bum until I discovered Christianity," he defied family pressure to marry "a nice Armenian girl" and instead chose Kristy, a Scottish American from Alaska. They opened a travel agency in Wickenburg, Ariz. When the couple first decided to set up a business here they had no inkling of the troubles that lay ahead. "It made perfect sense at the time," Victor Bedoian recalled. "It was a ground-level opportunity to bring in American tourists for cultural tours." Bedoian has launched four lawsuits against the governor and government agencies over what the couple says is the illegal revocation of the hotel's licenses and denial of his residency. Hearing dates have not been set for the cases. The couple has vowed to keep returning on tourist visas until justice is done. "The irony is that Armenians back home kept calling us traitors, warning us that it would all go horribly wrong," said Kristy Bedoian. "Sadly, they proved to be right in the end."
AP 15 Apr 2002 Ukrainian Jews set upon in synagogue attack By Tim Vickery, The Associated Press KIEV (April 15) – About 50 youths attacked the central synagogue here, beating a rabbi and two others with stones, hurling bottles, and destroying property, the rabbi said Sunday. Kiev Chief Rabbi Moshe-Reuven Azman said the mob marched down the Ukraine capital's main boulevard shouting "Kill the Jews!" before attacking the synagogue just after 9 p.m. Saturday. The incident occurred after services, and many worshipers had already left the building. Police denied it was an anti-Semitic attack, saying it was a case of soccer-related hooliganism. A soccer game had just ended at nearby Dinamo stadium. Azman said the youths knocked Tzvi Kaplan, rector of Kiev’s yeshiva, to the ground and beat him with stones. Kaplan was hospitalized overnight but was released Sunday. Azman’s 14-year-old son and a security guard also suffered injuries, he said. "I call this act a pogrom," Azman said. "It's a miracle it wasn't worse." Azman said the attackers broke 20 windows in the synagogue. Broken glass covered the floor of the synagogue Sunday, and police stood guard outside the building.
16 April, 2002, 04:46 GMT 05:46 UK Sikhs lobby MPs over identity Sikhs lobbied MPs on similar issues last year More than 250 Sikhs are lobbying MPs on Tuesday to demand a change in how their ethnic identity is officially recognised. Currently, the UK's 600,000 Sikhs are classified for monitoring purposes as British Indians. The community leaders who are taking their case to Parliament argue they should be known as a separate group in official documentation. They will have a meeting with Home Office minister Angela Eagle next month. Kashmiri concerns They are claiming the right to a distinctive identity exists under the Race Relations Amendment Act. And if their pleas are ignored, they say they will take legal action against the Home Office and the Commission for Racial Equality. Their action comes as Britain's Kashmiri community voices similar concerns. In November, Sikh leaders raised related complaints with the government. Sikhs from all over the UK convened on the Houses of Parliament to complain about anti-terrorism laws post-11 September which banned them from wearing ceremonial swords in airports. They also asked for funds for Sikh organisations, help in promoting the Sikh identity and language, funding for Sikh schools, help in preserving Sikh heritage and help in protecting Sikhs' human rights.
Times of India 20 Apr 2002 Modi to be sued for genocide in London RASHMEE Z AHMED LONDON: Britain-based Gujaratis are working alongside the British government to bring three cases in three separate courts across Europe against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. The cases, which are to be filed separately in the British High Court, the Belgian courts and, possibly, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, are expected to compliment two other proposed cases against Modi and his administration in India and the US. The charges, ranging from complicity with murder to genocide, could, theoretically, lead to a formal request for Modi's extradition, as seemed likely when Belgian court officials recently held preliminary hearings in a genocide case against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Belgian law, unique and controversially, allows its courts to hear cases of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity no matter where they are carried out or by whom. Sulaiman Qazi, solicitor and cousin of British national Mohammed Aswat who was killed near Ahmedabad, says that the British government is cooperating fully in the preparation of the case, which could be filed in as little as "four or five weeks." Describing the Gujarat violence as "a crime against humanity and not against one community," Qazi said he felt the British Foreign Office (FCO) would support them to the hilt. "The FCO has said that high-ranking officials were responsible for the massacre of innocents and we know that is a statement of support if it comes to extradition," Qazi told The Sunday Times of India as he worked on a "a database consisting of hundreds of eyewitness accounts, with verifiable names, addresses and contact numbers." Sources acknowledged that the FCO's alleged help sits oddly with a government pronouncement on Gujarat in the House of Lords in early March, when junior foreign office minister Baronness Amos "appreciated the efforts which have been made by the Indian Government to restore calm" and said "the Indian authorities are seen to be doing all that they can." The minister had been replying to concerned queries about Aswat's two still-missing companions, Shakil and Saeed Dawood. Qazi admitted that extradition is only one possibility. More likely, he said, "is a Henry Kissinger-like situation, in which the former American secretary of state's arrival in the UK will be attended by Spanish investigators seeking to interview him on Cambodia." In other words, if Modi or others named were ever to set foot in the UK or European Union, they will almost certainly be "interviewed" by investigators. Qazi's search for "admissible and irrefragible evidence against Modi, which would prove he had a direct hand in the killing of my cousin," will hinge on the testimony of a fourth British Muslim who was travelling with Aswat and saw his companions "lynched, set on fire and brutally murdered." The man, who along with the other three, belongs to a West Yorkshire region made up of 15,000 Indian Gujarati Muslims, returned to the UK on Thursday after being nursed back to health by the British authorities in India. His testimony was also recorded by the British political secretary in Mumbai. The British case, to be filed by all four British families will not only charge the VHP, the RSS and the BJP, but also "name specific names." Qazi confirmed that British data-gathering, which took the form of a now-controversial and leaked report, has helped human rights organisations on the ground. London was, apparently, deeply involved in crucial data-gathering and, according to sources, two or three FCO officials flew out from here to join the British fact-finding team in India. Zafar Sareshwala, rich expatriate member of a prominent Ahmedabadi family, lived near the dead British men, knew them well, and is helping to organise the legal challenge. He says the British authorities, particularly the local MP, have been stung into strong support because the Yorkshire Gujarati and Muslim population complained that Indian officials were not helping even to reach the site of Aswat's murder. "There are more non-Muslims in the UK, US and India helping in the search for justice against Modi," said Sareshwala, who lectured at Harvard last week and was approached there by a senior professor, Balakrishnan Rajgopal, to help take Modi to the ICJ at The Hague.
AFP 28 Apr 2002 London marchers commemorate 1915 Armenian 'genocide' LONDON: Almost 1,000 people marched through the streets of central London on Saturday to commemorate the mass killings of Armenians in the former Ottoman Empire in 1915, and to call for recognition of the event as genocide, said police. Armenia claims that 1.5 million of its people were slaughtered in the final years of the empire, the predecessor of modern Turkey. However Turkey disputes that the killings constitute a genocide. Hratche Koundarjian, communications director of the group Campaign for Recognition of the Armenian Genocide (CRAG), who attended the commemoration, said: "If we march for two hours and get sore feet we might just begin to get a very small idea of what it is like being marched to your death." The march ended at the capital's cenotaph. Earlier this week, protesters mounted vigils outside the Turkish embassy in London to highlight their cause. Armenia commemorated its victims on Wednesday, with President Robert Kocharian demanding that the international community condemned the "crime against humanity". Turkey categorically rejects claims of genocide, saying that around 300,000 Armenians and thousands of Turks were killed in fighting when Armenians, then subjects of the Ottoman Empire, sided with invading Russian troops in the hope of carving out an independent state in eastern Anatolia.